Doctor Who And The Cybermen Audio CD review

Anneke Wills narrates an appropriately Troughton-era Doctor Who story...

The TARDIS crew comprising The Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie arrive on the Moon in the year 2070. Jamie is injured while walking on the Moon’s surface. The Doctor and his companions seek help at a weather station base.

At the base they meet Director Hobson, his deputy Benoit and a crew of international technicians. They operate the Gravitron, a gravity machine which can control the Earth’s weather conditions. Jamie is placed in the sick bay just as a mysterious disease breaks out. Some of the technicians and the Gravitron itself begin to behave strangely. Hobson blames the Doctor and his companions deciding their arrival at the base is more than coincidence.

The Doctor discovers the Cybermen are infiltrating the base to gain control of the Gravitron’s power in a bid to destroy Earth. Polly attacks the first wave of Cybermen with plastic solvents based on acetone but a mighty fleet of cyberships is on its way. The Cybermen are behind the mysterious virus which they are using to manipulate humans to operate the Gravitron.

The Doctor realises the Cybermen have a gravity imbalance. The base crew deflect the Gravitron to the Moon’s surface causing the Cybermen and their ships to float off into deep space. While the base crew repair the Gravitron, the Doctor and his companions quietly slip away…

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Doctor Who And The Cybermen is part of a new range of audio books based on the simple but very effective idea of inviting a cast member to read from the iconic Target novelisation range. Sporting the original book cover artwork by Chris Archilleos, Doctor Who And The Cybermen is based on the television adventure The Moonbase and was the first Target novelisation to feature the Doctor’s famous nemesis.

Anneke Wills, who played Polly in the original adventure, is a good choice for narrator while Nicholas Briggs, though not given much to do until episode three, provides the Cybermen voices. Briggs, clearly influenced by the cyber voices of the Troughton era, hits just the right tone of chilling menace. The storytelling is varied with the use spacesuit intercoms and electronic tannoy voices where appropriate.

The televised adventure was the first of many ‘base-under-seige’ plots which became something of a staple during the Troughton era. It would have been around 100 minutes in duration. At a running time of nearly four and a half hours, this version of the adventure assumes epic proportions with specially composed music and special sounds to add a welcome depth to the reading.

A very effective prologue describes the genesis of the Cybermen. Much is made of describing the base and the Gravitron machine which would have passed without comment on television. There are some subtle changes to the original scripts, notably changing Ben and Polly’s timeline from the 1966 to the early 70s. It’s interesting just how much the Doctor relies on his diary in this era, a rather quaint plot device abandoned after the invention of the sonic screwdriver.

Anneke Wills captures the TARDIS crew voices well, especially Troughton’s thoughtful, sometimes rather gloomy persona. Wills’ Jamie however, sounds unintentionally comic. Wills seems to relish the chance to provide the many different accents of the international base crew. She seems particularly fond of Hobson’s gruff Yorkshire accent.

The overall package is impressive but, in truth, the story is quite slight and feels somewhat padded. The absence of the Doctor Who theme means three of the discs begin with a rather dry “chapter number….” That said, the story is well read with high audio production values and best of all triggers nostalgia for a time when the Target book range was the only way to indulge one’s interest in old Doctor Who.

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Written by Gerry Davis Read by Anneke Wills 4 CDsRunning time: 4 Hours 20 Mins approx.

3 stars


3 out of 5