on 6 January 2014
I am not a particular fan of Gareth Robert's writing although I liked his novelization of Shada and will probably enjoy City of Death but I don't think this book is great, which is a shame because it features one of y favorite Doctor's and Companion's. Still, it's better than The Romance of Crime.
on 19 March 2015
Gareth Roberts’ Doctor, Romana and K9 novels rightly became renowned for capturing that period of Doctor Who perfectly. There is an impressive understanding of these characters at the time and ‘The English Way of Death’ is the type of story that could have easily fit into Baker’s sixth year as the Doctor. It bears several similarities with the style, temperament and humour instilled into the program by Douglas Adams.
The original book is somewhat closer in style to televised stories than many of the Doctor Who novels that were published whilst the show was off the air. It attempts to emulate the programme at the time by being divided into four sections with suitable cliff-hangers. This means it also a fine choice to be converted into a four part audio play. The audio, therefore, feels even more like it was part of the sixth series of the Fourth Doctor. It almost fools the listener into thinking that it is the sound track to a televised story from that time.
The story has a feel of quintessential Englishness. There is a preoccupation with upper class behaviour, romance and marriage that gives the novel the feel of Doctor Who meets Jeeves and Worcester meets zombies. It’s a combination that works successfully, especially with the humorous tone. The Wodehouse style approach helps capture the time period in a whimsy way.
This play and ‘The Romance of Crime’, which was released at the same time, is the first time that Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and John Leeson have reprised these roles together since they did on television. Between their performances, the writing of Roberts and the adaption by John Dorney it seems as if no time has passed. Lalla Ward, despite years of playing an older version of the character in the ‘Gallifrey’ series, is utterly convincing as the second Romana in her early days with the Doctor.
K-9 gets quite a substantial role in the story, far larger than he receives in the Fourth Doctor stories released by Big Finish in recent years. John Leeson also gets the chance to the play the villain, much as he does in ‘The Invisible Enemy’, and appears to relish the role.
Zodaal has a bit of a stereotypical sounding bad guy alien name; but that fits in with the style of the story. He is intriguing though as has converted himself through dubious scientific experiments with radiation into a gaseous form that can possess other beings. He can split his gaseous essence between vessels (but not always with the greatest effect) and thus raise his own following of enthralled zombies.
A fantastic audio play with the perfect mix of humour, action and drama with some really well developed and believable characters. The conversion to audio format has made one of the best Doctor Who novels even better. For many years this was quite a difficult novel to obtain. With the republication of the book as well as its adaption to audio this year it is thankfully now accessible for a wider audience to enjoy.
on 22 April 2009
The Doctor takes Romana to London in the 1930s to return some overdue library books, but once there Romana finds traces of time technology in use. A group of elderly people from the future have established themselves in the 1930s for some reason, whilst a mysterious green gas is infiltrating London, killing people then bringing them back as zombies...
As with Roberts' previous Missing Adventure The Romance of Crime, this novel captures the essence of Season 17 from the classic series to a tee and concocts a vivd tale that put would stand up well against some of the stories from that era.