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The Day of the Troll
on 6 May 2010
The 5th in BBC Audios range of exclusive 10th Doctor audios finds the Doctor landing in a future Britain devestated by environmental collapse, where an isolated group of scientists are attempting to find a way of growing crops again. As if this wasn't bad enough, no sooner does the Doctor arrive than the sceintists find themselves under attack from a bizarre vegetable creature that emerges from the earth...
There are elements here that some listeners may find familiar, with a touch of DC Comics 'Swamp Thing', a dash of 'The Seeds of Doom' (the Doctor himself referencing the Krynoids at one point), and elements of the classic Troughton era 'Base Under Seige' stories, but author Simon Messinghman puts a deft spin on the material, creating an exciting horror tale that has a flavour all its own. The creature has a wide range of powers leading to some great variety in the attacks, and its simple need to eat is a refreshing change from the usual 'aliens wanting to invade Earth' routine. The setting of a practically deserted Britain is unique and evocative, whilst the cast of characters are realistic and believable. The blinkered authority figure of the minister in charge could have wandered in from any one of a dozen UNIT-era tales, but their presence gives the drama the neccessary kick, inevitably making a bad situation worse. In a pleasing break with the norm Messingham fails to provide an obvious 'one-off companion' for the travelling solo 10th Doctor, with each of the supporting characters contributing aid at various times.
Add to this a great reading from David Tennant (and the slightly more serious subject matter seems to reign in Tennant's usual broad range of comedy accents) and the result is an excellent horror tale that probably rates as the best exclusive audio story yet. My only dissapointment is that we didn't get to see it on telly!