fifty years after their only televisual appearance, it was about time
someone did something about Terry Nation’s “Other Monsters”. So, flap
those flippers and point those rubber protuberances and step into the
limelight, it’s…The Voord! Defeated by the Doctor and the TARDIS
Originals on the planet Marinus, Yartek and his small band of Voord
creatures provided an ill-defined and faintly comical form of villainy,
skulking around at the beginning and end of The Keys of Marinus.
on the largely oceanic world of Hydra, the TARDIS crew arrive on board a
boat, one of hundreds forming a flotilla escaping subjugation by a
considerably more dangerous and numerous Voord presence. This four-part
adventure sets off at a rattling pace with the Doctor, Barbara, Susan
and Ian forced by circumstances to join the Hydrans’ desperate attempts
led by Admiral Jonas Kaan to survive underwater Voord attack.
Russell and Carole Ann Ford put in some excellent work early on,
providing energetic readings for their respective characters, and
alternating in narration duties. It’s a particular treat to hear again
Russell’s interpretation of William Hartnell’s Doctor: he really nails
the latter’s blend of domineering irascibility, bluster and waspish
By the end of the first episode, the outlook for
the TARDIS crew and the Hydran fleet is grim. Following a sustained
underwater Voord attack (backed by some atmospherically eerie
soundtracking), the Hydran flagship is sunk and The Doctor and Barbara
are gone, feared drowned.
the ocean’s depths, the story’s pace shifts as over a period of months
Ian and Susan begin the long adjustment to their new, fugitive way of
Hydran life on the ocean wave, together with their single Voord captive,
Nebrin. As Ian and Susan find out more about the Voord from their
captive, so does the listener with dark hints from Nebrin of the
“harvesting” of Hydra’s population.
trust of the Hydran leadership, Ian convinces Admiral Kaan that it’s
time to take the fight to the Voord on land, and the flotilla makes for
Predora, the occupied capital city. The deserted streets and buildings
don’t remain empty for long, as the full and awful extent of Voord
occupation is revealed.
proactive throughout this adventure, with first Ian and latterly The
Doctor involved in leading Hydran efforts against their
extra-terrestrial invaders. The duration of the story allows for some
in depth exploration of the realities of survival under an oppressive
regime, the compromises taken to ensure survival, and an examination of
the motivations of the Voord, viewed particularly through Susan and
Ian’s subtly different perspectives.
rollicking good Who adventure would be quite complete without some
exuberant evil-doing, and that’s provided in the form of Overlord
Tarlak. If Nebrin embodies an almost honourable example of his race,
Tarlak provides the shoutier, declamatory side of the Voord psyche,
clearly revelling in it as he does so.
horribly apparent that whilst Tarlak and Nebrin are of the “true
bloodline”, the vast majority of the occupying Voord force on Hydra
masks a deeper horror within. There’s a lot more to becoming a Voord
than just strapping on the rubber suit and popping on an outsize rubber
populated by sleek submersibles, giant airships and the mysterious “Sea
Engine”, the adventure rounds off in style with a classic race against
time with the Doctor and his friends battling to stop the Overlord
Tarlak’s Grand Plan from reaching fruition.
Domain of the Voord provide strong performances, maintaining the
listener’s involvement throughout the adventure. It’s a testament to
the quality of writing and production that a strikingly visual but
otherwise forgettable creature such as the Voord can be resurrected so
effectively in the audio medium.