on 19 September 2000
The BBC, in the days before home video, decided that some of its programs were no longer required in its archives. In a somewhat unsystematic purging, many classics were consigned to the flames, including several Doctor Who stories. Fortunately, some fans of the series had made their own audio recordings, and these (following a thorough re-mastering by the BBC) are being released.
"The Macra Terror" is one of these releases. The story features a human colony under siege from a race of monsters - not an unusual description of a Patrick Troughton story. What makes this story unique is the nature of the colony - set up like an archetypical British holiday camp, the enforced bon hommie and cheerful tunes cast it in a different light. (This kind of society was revisited some 21 years later in the Sylvester McCoy story "The Happiness Patrol".)
The comparatively recent addition of Jamie to the TARDIS crew mean that all three companions (the other two being Ben and Polly) have smaller roles than might be desirable. The Doctor is very much on centre stage in this story, and Pat Troughton is well in his stride in the part.
Linking narration is by Colin Baker, who played the Doctor's sixth incarnation, and is surprisingly subdued given Baker's portrayal of the Doctor. The visual aspects of the show would probably added quite a bit to the enjoyment of the show (particularly in setting the holiday camp tone), but based on stills the appearance of the Macra is probably not truly missed.
The story is quite strong and not unduly tied in to the shows on-going history, so is suitable for both fans and casual listeners.
on 25 October 2006
"The Macra Terror", by Ian Stuart Black, is one of those adventures that probably benefits from being presented in audio format. Why? Because, in visual terms, the Macra themselves have a reputation for being utterly rubbish. Doctor Who seldom did well at representing non-humanoid monsters, and the Macra are no exception.
As it is, however, we get a decently paced adventure with clear audio quality and intelligible audio narration. "The Macra Terror", however, departs from the format of the rest of the missing story audio CDs, reusing the narration from the earlier audio cassette release of the story, which is in the past tense and is read by actor Colin Baker rather than one of the TV companions contemporary to the story (the latter being the norm for the Audio CD releases). The past tense narration doesn't work as well as the present tense narration to which CD listeners are accustomed.
The crab-like Macra have relatively little direct involvement with the story. Instead, the Doctor and companions Ben, Polly and Jamie are pitted against a society of brainwashed humans. Some use is made of the traditional capture-escape-capture motif of early Doctor Who, but not exclusively so. The holiday camp colony is a bizarre image, accentuated by the grating 1960s incidental and in-scene music, but plays a background role in much of the proceedings. In general the story is decently constructed and reasonably diverse, and Troughton and company are on good form. "The Macra Terror" is unremarkable, perhaps, but has a few original ideas and has earned its place in the Doctor Who canon.
on 20 February 2011
Back in the early 1980's, the only way to experience vintage Dr Who was through the medium of fan circulated audio tapes (usually pretty dire sound quality) containing soundtracks of the various stories. I well remember the magic of sitting over my tape recorder listening through the static as these stories unfolded. The tricky bit was visualising what was happening during periods without dialogue. The story reviews in Dr Who Monthly and the Target novelisations were invaluable for this. Now of course we have these wonderful clear recordings, complete with linking narration and what a treat they are. Nothing can completely compensate for the criminal loss of these stories on video, but these CD releases are superb, bring some classic Dr Who back to life and transport me straight back to my childhood. Highly recommended !
on 20 January 2012
When I first heard the Macra Terror, I loved it, and that was a battered old 2 cassette release from the early 90's. The audio quality was poor but I still very much enjoyed it. Colin Baker's linking narration is great and a real help if you are listening to the action rather than watching it via the reconstructions widely available online. If I could sum up the whole serial in one word, it would have to be atmosphere, this story screams atmosphere, the incidental music by Dudley Simpson is electric, it really adds to the production and is fantastic. There should be a BBC CD release for Dudley's work on Doctor Who for us to enjoy, but currently no such release has emerged. Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Michael Craze and Anneke Wills are the centre of attention here, each with their own part in the story to play. As ever, Pat is on top form here and you get the sense that he is loving every minute of working on the series he has helped to continue. The other quest cast are all very intriquing, the Pilot, Ola and more importantly the Controller are fascinating.
Synopsis: The Doctor and his 3 companions of Jamie, Ben and Polly arrive on a distant world in the distant future, the planet has by now been colonised by humans. The colony is run by the Pilot under command from the Controller, who although has the visual appearance of a human, is in fact the Macra, a group alien insects who have infiltrated the colony and are brain-washing the humans in to mining vital gas for the creatures survival. The Doctor eventually finds all this out and gradually persuades the colonists that the colony is in the grip of these horrible monsters. In the end, the Macra are defeated by the Doctor and his companions. All is well until they touch down on an active runway in 1960's London.
The Macra Terror is completely lost barring a few brief clips, it is a shame that the Beeb junked these classics but lets be grateful that fans of the series recorded these episodes for us to enjoy today. The story suits audio, the Macra suit audio, the Doctor suits audio. This production is much better realised through the audio medium than if the visuals survived. The Macra in visual form were never going to be impressive, and as a person who has seen the Macra Terror in visual form, I can tell you that listeners are not missing out. I prefer the audio soundtrack to the visuals as the audio with narration really adds atmosphere and enjoyment.
As for the BBC CD release, its been lovingly remastered and not rush-released like it was in the 90's. The cover is very attractive and the narration from Colin Baker is clear and easy on the ears, there is not too much talking from Colin here and he never interups or talks over the actor speaking. All these factors make the Macra Terror a great addition to the Doctor Who missing adventures range on BBC audio.
Many thanks for your time,
on 24 April 2010
As many long-term fans of Doctor who will know, only a handful of stories from the mid-sixties exist in thier entirety. Due to the wiping policy of the BBC's which carried on until the late seventies, The Macra Terror is one of four patrick Troughton stories (The power of the Daleks, The highlanders, The Macra terror and fury from the deep) of which not a single episode exists.
Thankfully the soundtracks to every story remain, and here the four episodes are presentred on 2 CDs having been very well restored, with linking narration being provided by sixth doctor Colin Baker. The story itself is a highly enjoyable adventure about a colony of humans being manipulated by the Macra, a giant race of crabs. Althought the plot isn't particularly subtle there are interesting political paralells that were highly contreversial back in the sixties.
All-in-all I would highly recommend the macra terror to any Patrick Troughton or Doctor who fan. It offers a tantalising taste of a wonderful 'lost' adventure.
on 16 October 2010
One of the many early Doctor Who stories that were wiped by the numpties a the BBC, because they didn't think they were commercal viable.
And to be honest much as I love the Patrick Troughton era of the show, this isn' one of his best stories, and perhaps should have remained lost or missing.
Giant crabs who use mind control over humans to get them to mine the poisonous gas they require to live sounds like something that Roger Corman woul have come up with in th 1950's.
Enjoyable for all the wrng reasons, but worth listening to once.
One for the purists only.
on 7 January 2010
I enjoyed listening to The Macra Terror. The story hangs together well and the narration is effective in filling in the missing visual side of the story. The premise of the story is a little weak ie that the people are mining the Gas without really any clear reason why other than that's what they do because their minds are being controlled in some way. However, the 1984-ish mind control of Ben adds an interesting element with the inevitable conflict between him and Jamie, and there are effective cliff-hangers to keep the viewer (now listener) wanting to get to the next episode.
on 27 October 2014
great Doctor Who cd if you loved Patrick Troughton as the Doctor then buy this. i listened to it and could visualise what was happening even though i was not watching it. a great Doctor Who story.
on 6 March 2014
Loved it Loved it its great story what a pity this one got destroyed I found the narator good although I do prefer Frazer Hines