I have fond memories of originally reading this as a child and it firmly remains one of my favourite target novelisations. Perhaps, more than any other Doctor Who story it lends itself to the particular style of Terrance Dicks. This is not, however, surprising because he wrote the original script. It is a superbly written script. The characterisation overall is some of the best seen in Doctor Who and each line of dialogue feels as if it there to reveal something about either character or plot or both. Little, if none, of this script is superfluous. This makes for a very intense and dramatic story with a plot frequently driven by character development. As events unfold the particular flaws of those involved are revealed as their weaknesses eventually lead to their downfall in true tragic style. This is also easily and successfully converted into novel form with little being lost.
Even the incredible eerie atmosphere of the lighthouse is masterfully duplicated. Dicks' added prologue, not present in the original televised version, helps to emphasis the setting and its atmosphere, painting an eerie and disturbing environment from the outset. It also serves to provide a bit more of an insight into the poem that inspires the story.
There is also a clear Agatha Christie influence present, as the cast of characters are killed off one by one whilst trapped on a craggy island. This story contains much the same feeling of tension. Few have borrowed from Christie so well. As well as being a fantastic written and scripted story, `The Horror of Fang Rock' bridges the transition between the Phillip Hinchcliffe and the Graham Williams eras of the show, much as `Robot', also scripted by Dicks, was used at the start of Phillip Hinchcliffe's area and the end of that of Barry Letts. As such it still possesses a strong Gothic angle and the novelisation can often feel that it owes more to the horror genre than science fiction.
This story also features one of Doctor Who's best aliens/monsters. Despite numerous mentions in Sontaran adventures, as yet `The Horror of Fang Rock' is the only appearance of the Rutons in the programme. Admittedly, due to special effect capabilities, they work a little better in book form than on screen. Surely now they're due for another TV appearance.
A Doctor Who gothic masterpiece and one of the programme's highest quality scripts.
Initially pretty unloved by Doctor Who fandom, Horror of Fang Rock is one of those stories whose reputation has grown over the last few decades. Now, it's viewed as one of Tom Baker's very best.
And if there's one thing that author Terrance Dicks, a veteran of the series, understood, it's that Doctor Who is the Doctor's show. This means that the story is a wonderful showcase for Tom Baker, who dominates every scene he's in and gets some great lines.
With only a few sets and a small cast, Horror of Fang Rock is an ideal candidate for an audio release. Louise Jameson provides descriptive links for visual scenes and she also gives an interesting interview. Script PDF's are a nice bonus as well.
A spooky classic that works well in the audio format.
I remember thoroughly enjoying this story when it first aired on NZ tv, who knows how many years ago now. The characters of the Fourth Doctor and Leela really have a good rapport; there is wit, tension and lots of good old-fashioned running around chasing monsters.
The Doctor and Leela are on their way to Brighton, but unfortunately end up on Fang Rock, a barren island with only a lighthouse and three lighthouse-keepers. Along the way, an aristocrat's yacht is washed ashore on the rocks, and the remaining passengers and one crewman are added to the small number of people stranded on the island. But is there something or someone else on the island with them all? And what could it possibly be doing there?
The characters of the lighthouse-keepers are well played in this story, and the aristocrat, his military companion and secretary, as well as his man Harker are also integral characters in the story. The Doctor and Leela find themselves having to fight prejudice and superstition, as well as greed, ambition and the unknown assailant in this desperate fight to survive.
I've waited 3years since the last soundtrack release,but it's been worth the wait as now Audio Go are now treating us to four in a row! first of is Horror of fang rock, in my opinion one of the last greats of the classic series. Listening on CD is a much more interesting experience and it's amazing how different it feels. Tom Bakers voice is perfect and the linking narration is great and really adds to the atmosphere. These CDs are great for listening to in the car or if like me you have a hectic life it,s great to be able to hear a REAL doctor who story from the classic era, without having to put a DVD on. can't wait for the other releases in this range, lets hope Audio Go bring out some more titles in the 50th anniversary year.
It's an interesting choice for a narrated audiobook release, isn't it?
Being from 1977, it's the most recent of CLASSIC SERIES stories to be `treated' and published by AUDIOGO as a part of the Original Narrated Soundtrack range but Terrance Dicks' `written at short notice' four-parter, DOCTOR WHO - HORROR OF FANG ROCK is, referring back to season 15, a shinning beacon (see what I did there?) in a mixed bag of valuable gems & worthless `paste'.
And as an added bonus DOCTOR WHO fandom champion, Louise Jameson, is cast adrift to provide a confident and thrilling interspersed narration throughout.
To recap the plotline briefly we rejoin the Doctor and Leela (fresh from their adventure encountering Magnus Greel skulking through Victorian Sewers and theatrically treading `the boards') materialising at an isolated Lighthouse on 20 th century Earth (the Doctor's destination was Brighton) only to find that an alien force has been picking off its inhabitants one-by-one. The alien's `hunger' is sated further as survivors of a shipwreck are consumed.
It's a typical `base-under-siege' DOCTOR WHO story but its beauty lies in its simplicity and reliable storytelling, with crisp & believable characters that have depth and narrative reasoning.
However, this simplicity should not mistaken for naivety or credulity, as HORROR OF FANG ROCK is a work of genius, more so as it hurriedly replaced an abandoned story. Linear (bar that every consolidated corridor is vertically challenged rather than horizontal as per the standard DOCTOR WHO story) storytelling of a high order.
As narrator, Louise Jameson (Leela) guides the listener the through the heavy mist-laden night air that cocoons the isolated lighthouse as the alien feeds unselectively and uncontrollably, in addition to being mildly salaciously.
"Leela has already stripped to her petticoat... and continues to shred her clothes..."
"...delving awkwardly into the trouser pockets..."
"The creature breaks Adelaide's head in one hand, electricity arcs over her body and she falls dead. Leela runs for her life."
In an interview with Louise Jameson, conducted by David Darlington in June 2012, the actress discusses pre-DOCTOR WHO work in the theatre (and the fact that she was one of the options for Purdy in THE NEW AVENGERS) her working relationship with Tom Baker, the series producers, and the option that John Nathan-Tuner gave her to return to the series to bridge the Baker/Davision regeneration handover in 1981/82, and her beloved fans. Wonderful and charming.
As an added bonus, this release contains original scripts from the 1977 in the form of full-colour annotated pdfs.
Overall, the narrated soundtrack of DOCTOR WHO - HORROR OF FANG ROCK has only one problem albeit one that every fan will relish; following it's listening you will have allocate the time to re-watch the DVD version. Aurally, it is redefined as a `forgotten classic'.
To that end, I do hope that further CLASSIC SERIES original soundtracks from this era are re-mastered for a narration format, and, more so, that Colin Baker is tempted to re-visit his tenure.