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The Talons of Weng Chiang is an irresistible mix of Victorian melodrama from the pen of Robert Holmes. Sherlock Holmes, the legend of Jack The Ripper, The Phantom of the Opera and Fu Manchu are some of the texts that he freely plunders in order to create this heady brew. Terrance Dicks adapted Holmes' story for Target books in 1977. Dicks sticks quite closely to the original, adding a few lines here and there, but in the main it's a faithful adaptation.

As the Doctor and Leela arrive in late Victorian London, they are confronted with several mysteries. Women are disappearing from the streets, mutilated bodies are being washed up in the Thames and in the sewers of London lurk hideous creatures ....

What connects these seemingly random events with the Palace Theatre and the magician Li H'sen Chang? And who is the disfigured self-proclaimed god that Chang worships?

The best way to experience this story is via DVD, and it can be found as part of Doctor Who: Revisitations Set 1 . Transferring this colourful yarn to paper, and then onto audio, it does lose a little something. But it's still a very enjoyable listen, because of the high quality of the original scripts.

Christopher Benjamin, who played Henry Gordon Jago in the story, is the reader. He has a deep, rich voice and does a good job. The only negative point is that there's a few too many sound effects for my liking. If we're told that Chang opens his magic cabinet, there's no need to add a squeak, and clumping footsteps and other superfluous sfx don't add to the atmosphere, rather they detract from the reading.

But this is still an enjoyable audiobook of a 24-carat Doctor Who classic.
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on 24 April 2013
Whilst the reading is full of energy and the story one of the all time classics of the series, the novelisation of Talons is compared to many others in the series somewhat lightweight. Coming at the end of the Terrance Dicks golden age and just before the start of the churn-em-out-once-a-month cycles, Talons is merely a conversion of the script to prose and unlike his early works, the author does little to embellish the thoughts and motivations of the characters. Its very much a to z.

An enjoyable way to pass a few hours but not the best nor he worst of the audio range.
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on 26 March 2013
I bought the Jago and Litefoot series without realising that they were originally in this Dr Who episode. The Talons of Weng Chiang is when they first meet up. Having listened to the Jago and Litefoot series first I then decided to purchase the cd Talons of Weng Chiang. It is a cracking story with lots of spooky and gory bits. Not finished it yet but I am savouring the finale when the ultra bad guy, hopefully, gets his just desserts.
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on 3 January 2013
The book may be, at best, a reasonable version of the original episodes, but Christopher Benjamin does a great job as reader, bringing energy and emotion. He creates a splendid Mr. Sin, and his reading makes for a very enjoyable four hours. The music and sound effects work very well, and this reading will be a great companion to the excellent Jago and Litefoot audio releases from Big Finish.
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on 26 September 2015
Enjoyed this very much, a nice gift for my brother.
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on 30 January 2013
Through the mists of time there are only a handful of DOCTOR WHO stories that are unequivocally regarded as - and it's a word that is all too quickly attributed - "classic". How do you define a "classic"? Is it be viewing figures, or the writer, or the assembled cast, or "repeatability" (how many time can you re-watch a story without becoming jaded or bored), or accuracy of production or post-production? Or is it a combination of all that criteria?

It's not unreasonable to challenge any Critic who publicly states that "Story X " or "Story Y" is a true "classic" as we all have your own defined criteria. Arguments - well, heated discussions - are rife in this digitally-led fan world but there is a consensus that there are definitive DOCTOR WHO stories that are above criticism and have become "iconic classics".


It's 1977, and three stories in, another seemingly impressive Doctor/Companion relationship was burgeoning on the screen that threatened to eclipse the previous one, and the series continued to career toward a darker, more intense consciousness. Enter the frame a storyline from TERROR OF THE ZYGONS' writer, Robert Banks Stewart title THE FOE FROM THE FUTURE and stalwart Director, David Maloney, and instantly born was an "iconic classic". As THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG, this six-pater has stood the test of time, whether as a broadcast entity or as an adapted 130-page novel from the fertile keyboard of Terrance Dicks, and now as an unabridged audiobook reading by Christopher (Henry Gordon Jago) Benjamin released by purveyors of quality audio, AUDIOGO.

It's January 2013, and, with the release of DOCTOR WHO AND THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG, Christmas has come early this year.

Expertly produced, professionally lavish in historically-accurate music cues evocative of the story's setting &wonderfully read by Benjamin, this release is equal in stature to (David)Troughton's reading of DOCTOR WHO AND THE WAR GAMES - a release that epitomises the loving dedication of the commissioning production team at AUDIOGO - and should be any fans shelf.

Even though the DVD (a release that would benefit from a "special edition"...) is readily at hand, hearing Benjamin read the line "...Doctor, are you down here? Well, cover me in creosote. I never knew this was here..." is pure childhood magic, and:

Jago: "The Sheffield song thrush. Last time she was here, there were eggs all over the stage. Now, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great privilege to introduce to you, in his extended season here at the Palace, the first of two appearances this evening, someone whose legendary legerdemain has entranced and entertained all the crowned heads of Europe. Here to baffle and bewilder in his eclectic extravaganza of efflorescent ectoplasm, that master magician from the Orient, Li H'sen Chang! His characterisation of Jago's right-hand man and Irish odd-job-man, Casey, avoids obvious parody and one is mildly sympathetic toward his demise at the talons of Magnus Greel".

The end of disc two is potentially the most dramatic ending to any unabridged DOCTOR WHO novelisation and will have to punching the eject button to release the CD and hurriedly inserting the next.

The pacing of the reading is perfectly gauged, punctuated with atmospherically seminal sound effects that are based in truth and reality without being a carbon-copy of the televised broadcast, and incidental music `stings' that the legendary DOCTOR WHO composer, Dudley Simpson, would approve. "Drum roll and cymbal". The tinkering the ivories, the joviality expressed by a theatre's gin-soaked audience, subtle dawn chorus and equine indignity, all of which skilfully measured by Simon Power of MEON PRODUCTIONS.

One minor issue, and I hate to be the `whistle blower' on this one but the sound effect of the Police Officer's whistle may be, just may be wrong; it didn't sound like an Acme Metropolitan Police Whistle but a "football whistle" instead. I could be wrong, though. Probably.

Overall, 2013 starts in an extraordinary style with the avuncular Benjamin beguiling a whole new generation of younger fans with his reading of DOCTOR WHO AND THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG.

Here's an idea for the AUDIOGO Commissioning Editor; if space permits, it would be appreciative - and feasible - to have a short interview with the original author to discuss the construction and differences of a novel based upon broadcast version. To have Terrance Dicks revisiting one of his original novels, almost providing a "writing master class" may be add value to any AUDIOGO unabridged release.
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on 30 September 2007
The story remains as strong as ever, with a strong sense of darkness present throughout. This is a story about a latterday vampire consuming young girls, set in a world of brutal murders, poverty, prostitution and where giant rats guard the villain's layer. This is a far cry from a space fantasy adventure but instead a downbeat story yet told in a tongue in cheek manner. The result is a highly readable and successful book.
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