- Audio CD: 5 pages
- Publisher: BBC Physical Audio; Unabridged edition edition (14 Aug. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1405687622
- ISBN-13: 978-1405687621
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 14 cm
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 870,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Doctor Who And The Daemons (Classic Novels) Audio CD – Audiobook, 14 Aug 2008
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Barry Letts reads his own gripping novelisation of a classic Doctor Who adventure.
Another entry in our range of unabridged readings of "Classic Doctor Who" novelisations, first published by Target Books in the 1970s & 1980s. "Doctor Who" is strangely concerned about Professor Horner's plan to cut open an ancient barrow near the peaceful English village of Devil's End; equally worried is Miss Hawthorne, the local white witch, who foretells a terrible disaster if he goes ahead. Determined that the Professor should is Mr Magister, the new vicar (in truth the MASTER) whose secret ceremonies are designed to conjure up from out of the barrow a horribly powerful being from a far-off planet...The Brigadier and Jo Grant assist Doctor Who in this exciting confrontation with the forces of black magic!See all Product description
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The main problem for me was the endless padding. The original television story was cut from six episodes to five to improve the pacing, but much of the verbiage here could also have been cut. Whole pages pass by with nothing happening, which completely dispels any mood and atmosphere the story is trying to build up. In one scene in a pub, we even get a detailed account of what constitutes a ploughman's lunch. Such unnecessary detail can only have been included to pad out the word-count.
The story itself is very good. The Doctor, his assistant, Jo Grant, and the UNIT personnel descend on Devil's End, where Professor Horner is about to open an ancient barrow. In doing so, he unleashes the ancient power of Azal, the Daemon of the title. By-the-bye, Letts gets in a discussion of science and rationality versus superstition.
Letts trained as an actor before enrolling on the BBC's internal director's course, and his reading is exemplary, giving each character his or her own cadences, and capturing the spirit of the Doctor and the Master, both of whom reached their apotheosis during his time as producer. In the end, though, I found listening to this audiobook a trial.
Renowned producer Barry Letts was co-author of this classic and I think this was his only novelisation (of any televised story) - it's one of my favourites and quite unusual; at 170 pages of small print (in the original 1974 Target edition, dark blue spine and back cover for this one) I think it might be the longest `Doctor Who' novelisation by some way, even allowing for it being a five-part story. This allows for some longer, more descriptive passages, not perhaps to everyone's taste but I liked the style the first time I read it, 40 years ago, and still do.
Generally, it follows the televised version closely; the writing is a pleasure to read and there are a few differences and additions that are fun to encounter, such as joining our heroes for their tasty-sounding `ploughman's lunch' in a quieter moment at `The Cloven Hoof'. The highly convenient stepladder used by Jo Grant to escape from the pub gets a better replacement, as does the too-fortuitous placing of the motorbike used by Mike Yates in the helicopter chase. And in one chancy moment at the heat barrier, this very nearly becomes the last story the Brigadier was ever in ...
Memorable village witch ("A white witch, of course!") Miss Hawthorne here gets to try out some more visible lore and magic, curing the Squire's headache with a herbal remedy and (with the slightly embarrassed Sgt. Benton) even takes on the evil gargoyle Bok with some defensive white magic. Does she succeed? Stan Wilkins is the one member of the Master's coven to display a conscience. In the televised version he gets a single line to do it, here he is a greatly expanded character and becomes the reader's way into the mindset of the coven and witness to the thunderous rising of Azal.
The villagers gain their own personalities and brief back-stories; the Squire is rather too fond of a drink, one villager runs the garage and his mechanical skills prove handy for the Master, another was (like Barry Letts) a former Navy man, and this is used to partly explain how Mike Yates makes his escape despite having been tied up.
Most enjoyable are the little touches of background given for the Master; we see him pondering the past he shared with the Doctor in their youth on Gallifrey. Since Barry Letts was (with Terrance Dicks) co-creator of the Master, I suppose these biographical details must have official status! Unfortunately, I don't know if history relates anywhere what a "perigosto stick" actually was or what the President of the High Council of the Time Lords did with it!
Although one of the original 1974 batch of Target novelisations, sadly, it wasn't reissued in 2011, so I'd recommend you invoke the power of the Internet and raise a second-hand copy of `The Dæmons' from its slumbers: "Arise, arise ... Azal!" 5*
Barry Letts co-wrote The Daemons with Robert Sloman whilst he was producer of the show and he also wrote the 'novelisation' of that story for Target books in the mid seventies. The Target novelisations were the only way of reliving Doctor Who stories before VHS tape and they could represent the original story with varying degrees of accuracy, depending on the writer's imagination and poetic license. Barry has stuck to the original story quite faithfully but has added more depth to the characters, which helps make it feel more like a book that a converted script.
Sadly Barry died last year but we are lucky in that he had already recorded readings of this story and "Who and Me" for posterity.
The story gets a four as it does feel a little over long and I am not fully convinced we really need such readings when a DVD would suffice. It is amazing to think that these original books were generally between 30p and £2 for the bulk of their paperback life, yet now we are paying nearly tenfold for an audio adaptation. As good as a reading might be, for many it is still no substitute for the visual and audio experience of the original.