BBC Audio released Nov 5
Available on CD [RRP £6.25] & Download [RRP £4.95]

After the riotous Dead Shoes comes a more sombre, and certainly much darker, installment in the Hornet’s Nest series. The Circus of Doom, despite it’s slightly ridiculous Comic Relief~esque title, is a serious affair and much of Tom Baker’s gregariousness is reigned in, leading to a rather dry and humorless listen.

Going back in time (metaphorically speaking, he’s regaling Mike Yates – who barely has two words to say – with war stories of the Hornets) to 1832 in order to trace the source of the current foe, The Doctor comes across the sleepy town of Blandford and a “Circus of Delights” that, in actual fact, is much more doom~laden than its title would suggest.

Baker gets much mileage out of the words ‘doom’ and ‘doomed’ whilst never really grasping what the word means. Much of the problem with this tale is that Tom never gets out of first gear; it’s not an interesting performance from him and he sounds thoroughly bored throughout. Likewise the rest of the cast failed to engage in any way with some terribly cliched accents on display.

Which is a great pity as writer Paul Magrs has delivered a perfectly enjoyable script including some delightful moments like The Doctor feeling futuristic in his “Edwardian casuals” alongside some striking, and slightly horrific imagery. The line “the breathless nostrils” of a corpse did make me quiver.

The Circus of Doom feels like a halfway house in the Hornet’s Nest series and I hope that this is merely a blip as the tension was ramped up at the denouement leading directly onto the next installment which promises to be the strangest and most horriblest yet….


Thanks to BBC Audio


  1. I have to say I found the first two installments pretty dull going. Slow, with very little character-conflict-based tension. Tom in the second chapter seems to be hamming up his line delivery in an attempt to keep himself interested. Yates, totally useless in it. The villain a snoozer. And a story that, yes, has vivid pulpy horror elements, but nothing particularly Who-vian to ground it in. Compare it to Horror of Fang Rock or Talons of Weng Chiang, and you realize what a thin brew the whole rambling mess is.

    And then when you consider the cost of purchasing the episodes — when a fully-budgeted, canonical actual Who serial is free when it airs — and Hornet's Nest cannot fail to dissappoint!


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