Whether we like it or not, summer is nearly over and the nights are drawing in! The only upside of that is that there’s more time for indoor pursuits – like listening to Doctor Who! As if to facilitate this, we have no fewer than four brand new releases available on CD and download formats in September. First up, tying in nicely with the current run of TV episodes, is The Empty House, a brand new Audio Original story for the 11th Doctor, Amy and Rory. Written by Simon Guerrier, it finds the intrepid adventurers back on Earth, on a dark night in the middle of nowhere. There’s a lone house nearby, with lights in the window. But who’s at home? As rain lashes down, there is terror in store for the Doctor and his friends… The reader is Raquel Cassidy, giving voice to the range for the third time. As you may recall, Raquel played Miranda Cleaves in last year’s TV episodes The Almost People and The Rebel Flesh.
September was always a particularly exciting month for Doctor Who fans in the late 1970s, for it heralded the arrival of a brand new series of TV adventures. The 1977 series was spearheaded by Horror of Fang Rock, an atmospheric four part adventure set on a lonely lighthouse. 35 years later it’s back again, this time spearheading a short series of brand new narrated TV soundtrack titles. Fans of Doctor Who are used to hearing the fabled ‘lost’ TV episodes as narrated soundtracks, but not all of them have discovered the fun of listening to later stories in the same way. Suddenly the dialogue, background noise and sound effects are that little bit more immediate. There’s the Doctor, in your ear, shouting commands or making quips, and there’s the monster, slithering, marching or trundling its way towards you… Each of these four stories stars Tom Baker as the Doctor, and Horror of Fang Rock is narrated by Louise Jameson, who played Leela in the original TV episodes. In a special bonus interview Louise recollects her time on Doctor Who. As an added bonus, the CD versions of these stories also contain PDF files of the original TV camera scripts – allowing the listener to see just how these classic episodes were written and recorded.
Our monthly Classic Novels range has its penultimate new release this month, before taking a few months off at the end of the year. The Highlanders by Gerry Davis is a novelisation of the Second Doctor’s second ever TV adventure, a full-bodied adventure yarn set in the Highlands of Scotland in 1745. The story famously introduced the character of Jamie McCrimmon, who would go on to be one of the Doctor’s longest-serving companions. Alongside him in this story are old hands Ben and Polly, and our reader for this story is the enormously talented Anneke Wills, who played Polly on screen. This is Anneke’s second Classic Novel (the first being The Cybermen, also by Gerry Davis) and she reads it with characteristic warmth and gusto. Sound design is once again provided by the talented Simon Power.
The fourth and final release for September is Serpent Crest: The Complete Series, a box set of five full-cast audio original adventures starring Tom Baker as the Doctor. Released individually last year, these five relate the Doctor’s entanglements with the deadly Skishtari, a monstrous serpent-like race for whom planetary conquest is second nature. Co-starring alongside the legendary Tom Baker is Susan Jameson as the redoubtable Mrs Wibbsey, whilst the guest cast includes Michael Jayston, David Troughton, Terrence Hardiman, Joanna David, Sophie Ward, Andrew Sachs, Nerys Hughes and Simon Shepherd – and not forgetting Richard Franklin, whose Mike Yates returns to be at the Doctor’s side in the final, epic two-part story. There’s even a cameo appearance by Sam Hoare, who was recently seen co-starring with Matt Smith in the BBC TV drama Bert and Dickie. For nearly six hours of pure escapist adventure, look no further than Serpent Crest!
Peering ahead into the chilly mists of October, I see another Classic Novel looming, another TV soundtrack title, no fewer than three box sets – one of which looks suspiciously police box-shaped – an unabridged reading of the brand new Torchwood novel, and something whose title I can only just make out…Tom Baker Reads…what, exactly? All will be revealed next month!
Until then, happy listening.
Commissioning Editor, Doctor Who