The Talons of Weng Chiang is an irresistible mix of Victorian melodrama from the pen of Robert Holmes. Sherlock Holmes, the legend of Jack The Ripper, The Phantom of the Opera and Fu Manchu are some of the texts that he freely plunders in order to create this heady brew. Terrance Dicks adapted Holmes' story for Target books in 1977. Dicks sticks quite closely to the original, adding a few lines here and there, but in the main it's a faithful adaptation.
As the Doctor and Leela arrive in late Victorian London, they are confronted with several mysteries. Women are disappearing from the streets, mutilated bodies are being washed up in the Thames and in the sewers of London lurk hideous creatures ....
What connects these seemingly random events with the Palace Theatre and the magician Li H'sen Chang? And who is the disfigured self-proclaimed god that Chang worships?
The best way to experience this story is via DVD, and it can be found as part of Doctor Who: Revisitations Set 1
. Transferring this colourful yarn to paper, and then onto audio, it does lose a little something. But it's still a very enjoyable listen, because of the high quality of the original scripts.
Christopher Benjamin, who played Henry Gordon Jago in the story, is the reader. He has a deep, rich voice and does a good job. The only negative point is that there's a few too many sound effects for my liking. If we're told that Chang opens his magic cabinet, there's no need to add a squeak, and clumping footsteps and other superfluous sfx don't add to the atmosphere, rather they detract from the reading.
But this is still an enjoyable audiobook of a 24-carat Doctor Who classic.