Doctor Who
Yeti Attack!

Starring: Patrick Troughton
BBC Radio Collection
RRP £29.99
ISBN 0 563 49535 9
Available now

The Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria face the fearsome Yeti - twice. They first encounter them in the Tibetan Himalayas during the 1930s. The creatures resurface several decades later in the London Underground...

Are you experiencing a strange feeling of déja vu? Yeah, me too. This special box set contains both of Patrick Troughton's battles with the Yeti, which have previously been released as individual CDs in 2000 and 2001 respectively and, earlier this year, in the BBC's new MP3-CD format. So this is the third time that these two stories, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear, have been released on audio.

If by some miracle you don't already own these adventures, then this double pack is well worth a listen.

The first two episodes of The Abominable Snowmen romp along very nicely indeed. Frazer (Jamie) Hines' linking narration sounds particularly sprightly as he is forced to gabble with rapidity in order to fit his voice-over into the small gaps betwixt dialogue and action. Once into Episode Three, however, the pace slackens off considerably. Much of the dialogue constitutes mere padding as characters wonder who could be in league with the Yeti, even though the writers, Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, have by this point blown the identity of the governing Great Intelligence's agent. It's a pity Haisman and Lincoln couldn't have maintained the mystery for a little longer... but they learn from their mistake and succeed in keeping us guessing throughout The Web of Fear.

Certain aspects of The Abominable Snowmen work better on audio than they did on TV. For one thing, we are spared the sight of the total lack of snow on the location footage, which was filmed in Wales during a warm August. And in both serials, we cannot see how cuddly the supposedly terrifying Yeti appeared on screen. On the other hand, we are denied the visual appeal of David Myerscough-Jones' extraordinary Tube station and tunnel sets, which he created for The Web of Fear. They looked so convincing that London Underground actually thought the BBC had filmed there without obtaining permission!

However, Web remains essential listening for the debut appearance of Nicholas Courtney as Colonel (later, of course, promoted to Brigadier) Lethbridge-Stewart. The function fulfilled by the army in this adventure set the trend for the next few years of UNIT stories.

It's interesting to note that while offering a scientific explanation for the legendary Yeti (as robotic instruments of the disembodied Intelligence) the writers offset this by maintaining that real abominable snowmen also exist within the fictional universe of Doctor Who. The monks in the first story talk of the Yeti's usually timid nature, and explorer Edward Travers (Jack Watling - father of series regular Deborah) actually gets to see one at the end of the tale. It's almost like The X-Files with one if its "so it is spooky after all" kind of endings!

This box set is not as affordable as the recent MP3-CD release, but it still represents greater value for money than the original, individual releases of these Yeti adventures. It's just a shame that the BBC didn't grace them with a cuddly fur-covered container!

Richard McGinlay

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