Horror Of Fang Rock
BBC Television Soundtrack
Starring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson
Download available Sep 1
CD available Sep 6
It seems a fair claim to say that few fans of Doctor Who would call Horror Of Fang Rock their all-time favourite story. To its credit, however, it did end up at No. 26 in DWM’s Top 200 back in 2009 – which isn’t too shabby. Indeed, what with some younger fans still scratching up on their knowledge of the “classic era” of the programme, it’s unlikely that they are going to use the single televised Rutan story as a point of reference to the greats. That said, for its time Horror was classic Who through and through, with Terrence Dicks doing a marvellous job of gradually ramping up the tension surrounding his mysterious antagonist over the course of the four episodes, a sense of tension not lost in the compelling television soundtrack.
The honours of narration here are given to Louise Jameson, who clearly revels in the memory of playing Leela for the story as she provides a detailed and vivid depiction of the narrative events which she herself was a part of back in 1977. Right from the moment we hear Jameson slowly, subtly describe the ‘purple sphere’ glimpsed by the viewer as it circles the lighthouse in the story’s opening, it’s immensely clear that she shares the respect held for Horror in this crystal-clear reproduction of the original soundtrack. From the ragtag band of seamen to the fabled enemy of the Sontarans that weaves its way under the characters’ skins as the two-hour running time progresses, there’s hardly a single element of the story that doesn’t provide a near-perfect representation of late ‘70s Who here.
Rounded off by a sublime interview segment with Jameson on her time as Leela, this latest TV soundtrack package boasts plenty of value for newcomers and fans alike. Horror Of Fang Rock has its weaknesses, yet Louise Jameson’s wonderful narration here makes up for just about all of them in strong measure.
By Gerry Davis
Audiobook read by Anneke Wills
Download available Sep 1
CD available Sep 6
Review by Douglas Barrie
Every story has a beginning, and for Doctor Who fans Jamie McCrimmon’s story begins here at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The Highlanders was the fourth serial of the fourth season way back in 1966/67 (with episodes airing on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve). Older readers/viewers/listeners (delete as appropriate) will remember Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor alongside companions Ben, played by Michael Craze. and Polly, played by Anneke Wilks – who reads this novelisation written by Gerry Davis.
With a total running time of three and a half hours you won’t feel bogged down by having a lot of material to listen to. Wilks does try her hardest to make it an enjoyable listen, and some moments are reminiscent of a school teacher reading to a class full of children.
Having only been in the show a short while (and working with two Doctors) Wilks’ imitation of Troughton is actually very good; even when he’s pretending to be a German. Her Scottish accent though is a bit iffy at the beginning of the reading, but you get used to it.
And I know he isn’t actually Scottish (spoilers) but at times I did think it would have been better read by Frazer Hines, Jamie himself, seeing as it’s his story and it was the first in what became a long adventure in the TARDIS – the longest actually of any companion so far.
Story wise it isn’t the most enthralling tale, but it’s not all bad. There are similarities even with modern Who, such as one of the Scots soldiers labeling the Doctor and his two companions as “English” (I think back to Christopher “Lots of planets have a North” Eccleston) and Troughton’s tendency to adopt disguises, much like Matt “Insert~hat~of~the~day is cool” Smith.
A small peeve of mine was the sudden changes mid-chapter, and they usually involved the solicitors for some reason. But that’s the book, it would maybe have fitted in better in the TV serial if there was more than just fragments still in existence.
Because of this, the audiobook gains a little bit of value. It won’t be top of many “must-have” lists but still an important piece in Who-lore – especially for one of the Doctor’s most loyal companions.