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Doctor Who Audiobooks in May

10 May

Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon (Classic Novel) Did you see the Ice Warriors in the recent Cold War TV episode of Doctor Who? 39 years after their previous last screen appearance they were back, as huge and menacing as ever. If this left you intrigued about their previous encounters with the Doctor, AudioGO can help! Not only do we have two versions (a narrated TV soundtrack and an unabridged novelisation) of their very first story – 1967’s The Ice Warriors – but this month sees the publication of Classic Novel The Curse of Peladon, in which the native Martians (for that’s what Ice Warriors are) greet the Doctor in a surprisingly non-combative manner. The story is written by Ice Warriors creator Brian Hayles and read by David Troughton, who played King Peladon in the original TV serial and who is by now a seasoned Doctor Who audiobook reader. It’s a thrilling tale of how the undeveloped society of Peladon is thrown into turmoil as it prepares to join the Galactic Federation, and how the Federation’s colourful alien delegates are picked off one by one by an unknown force. Posing as the representatives from Earth, the Third Doctor and Jo find themselves up to their necks in trouble… If Peladon is your destination of choice this month, you might also like our narrated TV soundtracks of The Curse of Peladon and its sequel serial The Monster of Peladon.

We move on two regenerations to the Fifth Doctor for this month’s Destiny of the Doctor release, Smoke and Mirrors by Steve Lyons. Following on from the previous four instalments, this is once again a standalone adventure for the Doctor, albeit one with links to the rest of the series. It’s performed by Janet Fielding – who played the terrifically popular companion Tegan in the 1980s – and Tim Beckmann, and is set against the colourful background of a fairground in 1920s England. The Fifth Doctor (as played by Peter Davison on TV) and his companions Tegan, Adric and Nyssa, meet the famous escapologist Houdini and are drawn into the mystery of a fortune teller with supernatural skills. But lurking in the shadows is a sinister and all-too-familiar presence… Listeners familiar with the Fifth Doctor’s era will enjoy this recreation of the era when the TARDIS was occupied by three young companions of differing temperament, and a Doctor who was the youngest ever model yet! If you’d like to familiarise yourself with that period in Doctor Who, you can do so with several of our Classic Novels titles, including Castrovalva, The Visitation, Black Orchid and Earthshock.

Doctor Who: Smoke and Mirrors (Destiny of the Doctor 5) If Doctor Who ever had a sister programme in the 1970s and 1980s (long before Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures) it was Blake’s 7. Devised by the man who created the Daleks (Terry Nation), script edited by the man who created Leela and the Robots of Death (Chris Boucher), and written and directed by a whole host of experienced Doctor Who hands, it had the look and feel of a grittier, harder sci-fi relative. Still adored to this day by a legion of fans, Blake’s 7 ran for four series on BBC1, from 1977 to 1981. During that time the intrepid Roj Blake and his band of fellow rebels tirelessly battled the Federation (shades of The Curse of Peladon, above!) and fought to defend planets and people from the despotic rule of Supreme Commander Servalan.

Trevor Hoyle wrote four Blake’s 7 novelisations, and we have just added the third, Project Avalon, to our collection of unabridged audio readings. It’s read by Jacqueline Pearce – Servalan incarnate – and Paul Darrow, whose Avon became the leader of the rebels in the latter two series. Together with sound design from Simon Power (who also stirs it up beautifully on The Curse of Peladon) their readings do terrific justice to Trevor Hoyle’s exciting retelling of the TV episodes Seek-Locate-Destroy, Duel, Project Avalon, Deliverance and Orac. There’s some wonderful dialogue and a breathtaking array of scenarios, from a deadly battle for survival in a forest to a sub-zero mercy mission in a landscape of snow and ice. The crew of the Liberator also meet their newest recruit, in the form of the portable computer Orac! This unabridged reading joins our previous two Blake’s 7 titles, The Way Back (read by Gareth Thomas) and Cygnus Alpha (read by Paul Darrow).

Before I teleport to another planet surface, there’s just time for me to hint at next month’s Doctor Who releases, which include a double bill of adventures for the Third Doctor, the double return of some particular famous exterminators, and an encounter with Christopher Columbus! Try not to wish May away in the meantime…

Happy listening!

Michael Stevens

Commissioning Editor, Doctor Who

What is everyone saying about Doctor Who: Babblesphere?

19 Apr

Doctor Who: BabblesphereBabblesphere, the fourth in the Destiny of the Doctor audio series came out at the start of April. This adventure, performed by Lalla Ward and Roger Parrot and features the 4th Doctor, as played by Tom Baker in the original TV series.

Reviews of the Destiny of the Doctor series have been positive in general, and on our Facebook page, Stephen wrote “Vengeance of the Stones is my favourite so far due to fully immersive story, delivery and sound production, but Babblesphere is a strong addition to the series.”

The Sci-Fi Bulletin gave it an 8/10, saying “Filled with nice little touches, this is a fun story with just a hint of acid”, although Eye of Horus said “At times, DOCTOR WHO: DESTINY OF THE DOCTOR – BABBLESPHERE is perfunctory and uninspired, but, at times, given the allegoric subject, is insightful and a social warning (“Communication Change” as opposed to “Climate Change”).”

Tim from Mass Movement Magazine, states that Babblesphere “has upped the ante in a series that’s worth its weight in gold.”

What do you think of Doctor Who: Babblesphere? Is it as good as the other titles in the series?

Doctor Who Audiobooks in April

3 Apr

For AudioGO and Doctor Who, April is a month of returns and new beginnings. The TV series is back on our screens – hurray! An air of excitement hovers over Saturdays from now until mid-May, and we already expect some thrills and revelations, such as an expedition to the heart of the TARDIS and the return of some old foes, including the Ice Warriors and the Cybermen.

David Warner Plague of the Cybermen 2Both those ‘classic monsters’ are also returning to the audio fold. I’ll talk more about the Ice Warriors in next month’s blog, but for now let’s focus on the Cybermen. They’ve menaced the Doctor ever since his first encounter with them in 1966 (The Tenth Planet), and their redesign in the new TV series is keenly awaited. Justin Richards’ brand new BBC Books novel is called Plague of the Cybermen, and it’s set in the 19th Century village of Klimtenburg. Suspense and expectation mounts by the chapter, followed by a series of thrilling reveals. It’s a very atmospheric story, and we were thrilled that David Warner agreed to read it for us. You’ll be familiar with David as the charismatic star of stage and screen who has graced films such The Omen, Time Bandits, Tron, Star Trek V and VI, The Lost World, Titanic and Planet of the Apes. The Cybermen themselves are given their authentic voices by the redoubtable Nicholas Briggs.

There are new beginnings of a different kind in April’s Classic Novel audiobook, The Rescue by Ian Marter. This is a novelisation of the 1964 two-part TV adventure of the same name, and it’s noted for being the introduction of the character of Vicki. Played by Maureen O’Brien – who is also the book’s reader – Vicki is a young girl from future Earth, who finds herself marooned on the planet Dido. At the time of the TARDIS’s arrival she is in considerable danger, and this is the story of her encounter with the First Doctor, Ian and Barbara. Ian Marter himself played a Doctor Who companion – Harry Sullivan in the 1970s – before turning his hand to writing. Here he was working from David Whitaker’s original TV scripts. On a very sad note, this was Ian Marter’s final work before his death, at a young age, in 1984.

Those of you keen to know where the Destiny of the Doctor will take him next will welcome the release of Babblesphere, the fourth entry in our ongoing series to celebrate 50 years of the programme. Now it’s the turn of the Fourth Doctor to helm the TARDIS, and doing so brings him and Romana to a world where the population feel compelled to share their every waking thought via a vast computer network. Sounds familiar? Unsurprisingly, there are those who don’t wish to be a part of the Babblesphere, but opting out doesn’t seem to be allowed. This cautionary, tongue-in-cheek tale by Jonathan Morris blends high drama with humour to great effect, and is brilliantly recounted by Lalla Ward, who played Romana in the TV series.

If you’d like to explore more of the Fourth Doctor’s adventures, have a look at our special Facebook page doing just that. There you’ll find our Top 5 Fourth Doctor stories (clips of which can be heard on our main website) and a potted history of the incarnation brought so vividly to life by Tom Baker.

The final comeback for this month is that of a classic LP which many people may once have prized among their vinyl album collection. BBC Sci-Fi Sound Effects follows hot on the heels of last year’s Doctor Who Sound Effects, and it brings with it some weird and wonderful noise not only from Doctor Who (1980’s Season 18) but also from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series, Blake’s 7 (all four series) and the 1980 radio serial Earthsearch. All were produced by Dick Mills, Elizabeth Parker, Lloyd Silverthorne and Richard Yeoman-Clark of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and the album has been remastered for CD by Mark Ayres. As with all the titles in our Vintage Beeb range (five others are released this month) it comes complete with original sleeve notes, artwork and a vinyl-look disc!

Next month we follow Doctor no. 5 to a fairground in the Destiny series, join the Third Doctor on a diplomatic assignment in our Classic Novel, and also make an exciting detour into the world of Blake’s 7

Happy listening!

Michael

 

Doctor Who audiobooks in March

6 Mar

destiny of the doctorAs mad March hares spring across the meadows to give each other a good walloping, so does AudioGO sally forth and punch the air with three corking Doctor Who titles. Many of you have been enjoying the journey through time which is Destiny of the Doctor, our eleven-part series commissioned specially for the programme’s 50th anniversary year. With March we reach the Third Doctor, and an adventure called Vengeance of the Stones. It’s written by Andrew Smith, who wrote for the TV series way back in 1980 (a fondly-remembered adventure called Full Circle), and it relates how the Doctor and the Brigadier first met Mike Yates, who would later join them for many adventures as the Brigadier’s No. 1 in UNIT. This is a meeting which was never shown on television, and Andrew has imagined it very convincingly. Mike is, of course, played by Richard Franklin, who performs Vengeance of the Stones alongside Trevor Littledale. Fans of our 4th Doctor audio original series (Hornets’ Nest, Demon Quest and Serpent Crest) will know Mike (and Richard) well. It’s a taut, very exciting story, with some excellent sound design by Simon Hunt.

We take a step back to the 2nd Doctor’s era with our Classic Novel this month, Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen by Gerry Davis. First published as a Target Books paperback in 1975, it’s a superb evocation of a classic TV serial, in which the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria encounter a party of Earth archaeologists who are bent on exploring the legendary ice tombs on Telos. I suspect that Gerry Davis was greatly influenced by the stories of Agatha Christie, as one by one the party members are picked off to meet a sticky end. The suspense is ramped up as the explorers get closer and closer to the entombed Cybermen themselves – and then, thrillingly, the metal warriors start to come to life! Those of us who are looking forward to the new series of Doctor Who – one episode of which is entitled The Last Cyberman – will enjoy this recap of their origins and history. Thrilling sound design is provided by Simon Power.

The third title is a welcome CD release for The Devil in the Smoke, Dan Starkey’s reading of the BBC Books e-novella which we published as a download towards the end of last year. As the cover says, it’s “an adventure for the great detective recounted by Mr Justin Richards”, and those in the know will recognise that this particular great detective is Madame Vastra, also known as the fabled Lizard Woman of Paternoster Row! The story is a very clever spin-off from last Christmas’s special TV episode, in which we saw Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax the Sontaran all living in Victorian London. If anyone is still hoping for a bit more snow before Winter is finally out, there’s plenty to be had here!

Because the third month of the year is a good time to celebrate the Third Doctor, we’ve created a special page on Facebook doing just that. We’ve given our Top 5 Third Doctor stories (clips of which can be heard on our main website) and a potted history of the incarnation brought so vividly to life by Jon Pertwee.

Next month we reach Doctor no. 4 in the Destiny series, join the First Doctor on a rescue mission with our Classic Novel, and welcome back the 11th Doctor – and the Cybermen! – in BBC Books’ brand new novel by Justin Richards. There’s also a special sci-fi treat amongst our new batch of Vintage Beeb titles…

Meanwhile I’m looking forward to attending the Big Blue Box one-day Doctor Who convention in Tunbridge Wells on Saturday 16th March, and taking part in a panel discussion about the Destiny of the Doctor series, which is produced by Big Finish for AudioGO. Producer John Ainsworth will be there, along with Andrew Smith and Richard Franklin. You can find details about the event here.

Happy listening!

Michael Stevens

Commissioning Editor, Doctor Who

 

Doctor Who Audio books in January

23 Jan

Happy Birthday Doctor Who…nearly! Admittedly the first ever episode of Doctor Who was broadcast on 23rd November 1963, and November is a long way off yet, but Doctor Who fans will be celebrating all year long, and we are joining in! This month sees the launch of our specially commissioned series of original adventures, Destiny of the Doctor which, if you hop on now, will take you all the way to November, in the company of all eleven Doctors and their companions. We begin with Hunters of Earth by Nigel Robinson, an atmospheric tale of strange happenings in 1963 London. The First Doctor (as played by William Hartnell on television) is there, with his sensitive granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford, who performs the story alongside Tam Williams). Made by Big Finish Productions for AudioGO, Destiny of the Doctor offers thrills, intrigue and an ongoing mystery concerning cryptic messages to each Doctor… can you work out what they mean?

Christopher Benjamin reads the Talons of Weng ChiangLondon of an earlier period is the setting for our Doctor Who Classic Novel this month,  The Talons of Weng-Chiang. It’s written by the legendary Terrance Dicks (Doctor Who series script editor and prolific noveliser in the 1970s and 1980s) and based upon the original TV serial by the similarly legendary Robert Holmes. In Victorian London, young women are going missing and strangely injured bodies are being found in the Thames. The master magician Li H’sen Chang is playing to packed houses at the Palace Theatre, and Henry Gordon Jago has seen a ghost in his cellar… When the Fourth Doctor (as played on TV by Tom Baker) and Leela arrive on the scene, they’re immersed in both the fog and the adventure, with thrilling consequences! The reader is Christopher Benjamin, who played the reluctant hero Henry Gordon Jago in the original TV episodes, and who brings charm and vivid characterisation to the piece.

What’s to come next month? Well, the Destiny of the Doctors baton passes to the Second Doctor, or more properly to Frazer Hines, who played faithful companion Jamie and stars in The Shadow of Death by Simon Guerrier. The First Doctor arrives in Tombstone, location of the legendary OK Corral, in The Gunfighters, and Melody Malone’s own story The Angel’s Kiss arrives on CD. Until then, happy listening.

Michael Stevens

Commissioning Editor, Doctor Who

Doctor Who Audio Books in December

19 Dec

Doctor Who: Snake BiteSeason’s greetings! As we head towards Christmas, there are three brand new Doctor Who titles this month! The first, DOCTOR WHO – SNAKE BITE by Scott Handcock, is an audio original adventure for the Eleventh Doctor, and a flashback to his days of adventuring with the Ponds, Amy and Rory. It’s a fast-paced, action packed adventure which begins in the laboratory of Doctor Elehri Mussurana, an eminent scientist whose life’s work is about to reach is fruition. Then the TARDIS materialises, and changes everything…  The story is read by Frances Barber, who of course played Madame Kovarian in Series 6 of Doctor Who, and there’s sound design by Simon Hunt. In all it’s a fine climax to this year’s range of audio originals, which is also something of a pausing point for the Eleventh Doctor, as next year’s Destiny of the Doctor (starting in January) will present an original adventure for each of the 11 Doctors in turn.

Meanwhile in Paris, it’s Spring 1979 and the Fourth Doctor and Romana are sightseeing in our latest TV Soundtrack title DOCTOR WHO – CITY OF DEATH. Narrated by Lalla Ward, who also provides a fascinating bonus 20 minute interview, this is one of the most popular classic Doctor Who stories of all. It’s written by Douglas Adams, under the pen name David Agnew (since elements of the storyline originated from David Fisher) and it features Tom Baker at the height of his powers as the Doctor, fizzing with what I tend to think of as ‘eccentric menace’! There is some superb dialogue here, and much witty repartee, delivered in some first class performances by the lead actors plus Julian Glover, Catherine Schell and David Graham. Several reviewers of these recent 4th Doctor TV soundtracks have remarked on what a different experience it is to listen to familiar stories rather than watching them on TV. I can only agree. The soundtrack is crystal clear, and there are nuances here which are easy to miss with the distraction of pretty pictures! I heartily recommend you try it.

Our third new release of the month as a download only (although a CD version will follow in March). DOCTOR WHO – DEVIL IN THE SMOKE by Justin Richards is published by BBC Books as an ebook, and the audiobook version is read by Dan Starkey. You’ll know Dan as the Sontaran Strax in the recent TV series, and Strax is one of the main characters in this story – along with Madame Vastra (‘the fabled Lizard Woman of Paternoster Row’) and her assistant Jenny. All three characters are in the forthcoming Christmas TV episode of Doctor Who, and DEVIL IN THE SMOKE sees them having another adventure in Victorian England.

Michael KilgarriffLooking ahead, I mentioned Destiny of the Doctor which begins in January with the First Doctor story HUNTERS OF EARTH, written by Nigel Robinson and performed by Carole Ann Ford and Tam Williams. It’s a gripping tale set immediately before the events of the very first Doctor Who episode, way back in 1963. More next month! Finally, to whet your appetite for March, here’s a photo of actor Michael Kilgarriff, who came to Bath recently to read our forthcoming Classic Novel title DOCTOR WHO AND THE TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN. You…will…be…like…us!

With very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,

Michael Stevens

Commissioning Editor, Doctor Who

Doctor Who Audiobooks in November

9 Nov

Daleks at AudioGO

Help – the Daleks have taken over at AudioGO! At their demand we have made no fewer than SIX Dalek titles available as downloads for the first time ever this month, and we’ve also released a brand new narrated TV soundtrack of the 1979 adventure Destiny of the Daleks. It’s not easy working with a Dalek sucker in the small of your back, but I’ll try to soldier on…

If you’ve seen the home page of our website, or if you catch the latest editions of Doctor Who Magazine or SFX, you’ll see the banners and ads declaring that the Daleks have landed at AudioGO. It’s not an overstatement. For a long time now, several of our Doctor Who titles featuring the Daleks have been available only on CD. That has been rectified from this month onwards, so it’s now possible to buy digital copies of Doctor Who and the Daleks, Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth, Doctor Who: Daleks – The Chase, Doctor Who: Daleks – Mission to the Unknown and Doctor Who: Daleks – The Mutation of Time. These are all unabridged readings of classic novelisations, first published as Target paperbacks, read by the likes of William Russell, Maureen O’Brien, Peter Purves and Jean Marsh. In addition you can find Doctor Who: Prisoner of the Daleks, an original novel featuring the 10th Doctor, written by Trevor Baxendale and read by Nicholas Briggs.

Then there’s the aforementioned Destiny of the Daleks. Following on from the recent TV soundtrack releases of Horror of Fang Rock and The Pirate Planet, this adventure hails from September 1979, when it spearheaded the arrival of Doctor Who’s 17th season on BBC TV. It was the first time the Daleks had appeared in the series since 1975’s seminal Genesis of the Daleks (also available as a narrated soundtrack), and it saw them returning to their home planet Skaro in search of something precious they’d left behind. Tom Baker stars as the Doctor, with Lalla Ward making her debut as Romana. The soundtrack is narrated by Lalla herself, and the release features a wonderful bonus 20 minute interview with her. In it she talks about her association with Doctor Who, and what it meant to her both then and now. The CD version of the story also has PDF files of the original TV camera scripts, in all their crystal clear, colour glory. It’s fascinating to look at these and see the handwritten changes added at a late stage of production. They got through a lot of correcting fluid in those days!

Of course, November isn’t all about Daleks (though we won’t tell them that). Our 11th Doctor Audio Original this month is Sleepers in the Dust by Darren Jones. Excitingly, it’s our first sequel (of sorts) within this range. Last year Darren wrote The Eye of the Jungle for the range, telling of the Doctor’s encounter with the Nadurni race of rat-like individuals. Now the TARDIS lands on Nadurniss, their home planet, only to discover it lifeless and barren. What has happened to the once-proud Nadurni Empire? When a mysterious illness gets hold of Amy, it’s down to the Doctor and Rory to save her life. The secret to doing so may lie under their very feet… The story is told by Rory himself, Arthur Darvill, and is the penultimate 11th Doctor Audio Original for a while! Enjoy them while they last.

Looking ahead, we’ve had some very exciting visitors to our Bath studios recently, as followers of our Facebook page will have seen. Some much-loved guest stars of the classic series have been in to read stories for next year’s Classic Novels range, including Christopher Benjamin (Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng-Chiang) and Shane Rimmer (Doctor Who: The Gunfighters). Who’ll be next? Time will reveal all…

Until then, happy listening.

Michael Stevens

Commissioning Editor, Doctor Who