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The Doctor and his companions land in 17th Century England. Fear stalks a countryside ravaged by plague, but there's other dangers too. A small group of aliens have crash-landed in the vicinity, and they have a plan, which will involve the extermination of the entire human race ......

The Visitation, written by Eric Saward, was broadcast on BBC1 in 1982, and the Target novelisation followed some six months later. It's a pretty traditional tale of aliens interfering in Earth's past, which is a familiar scenario, and better examples can be found, like The Time Warrior or The Masque of Mandragora, but The Visitation is entertaining enough to pass a few hours.

The reader is Matthew Waterhouse, who played Adric between 1980 and 1982. Clearly an Australian accent isn't one of his strengths so Tegan sounds more like a Londoner than anything else. And his voice for Richard Mace, the main guest character, is ridiculously fruity, which does grate after a while.

A few dodgy voices apart, this is a good reading of a solid, but undemanding, story.
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on 16 November 2012
Admittedly, Matthew Waterhouse reading Eric Saward's 1982 novelisation of the author's original television story, DOCTOR WHO - THE VISITATION may not be everyone's idea of a cosy & entertaining night at home sprawling on the sofa, tortilla chips in one hand and in the other a glass of wine but you should think again. It's not as `average' as other DOCTOR WHO critics may have lead you to believe.

Waterhouse, of course, infamous for his on-screen presence as the mathematical genius, Adric (1980-1982) with a wide-eyed naiveté and stilted gate, but, here, his realisation is genuinely honest, gentle and, to a point, simply elegant.

AUDIOGO's commitment continues in delving through the dusty TARGET novelisation archive and retrieves Sward's four-part tale that delivered our bulging-at-the-seams TARDIS occupants to a 17th century pivotal point in British history, in addition to killing off a `friend' of the Doctor at the hands of escaped prisoner. Sadly, the novel was a perfunctory affair, written as an identical copy of the televised version without any substantial exposition or expanded backstory (such as the escape of the Terileptil prisoners from the Raaga Tinclavic Mines, or just how the mining process takes place if the Terileptil appendages can just about hold a laser blaster let alone a pick-axe). With that said, as a 16 year-old, back in the distant time of 1982 DOCTOR WHO - THE VISITATION was thoroughly impressive (a new, youthful Doctor with companions that your associate and believe in, substantial location filming directed in a workman-like manner by Peter Moffatt, and a wholly, even for the teenager, believable dénouement) and, some 30 years later, remains somewhat magical.

Reliant on his fortysomething maturity, Waterhouse diligently delivers uncomplicated characterisations for this reading as opposed to a failed attempt to provide a set of impersonations (of the actors from the original broadcast), and here lies his success. It's restrained, and unhurriedly unfurls like a Magnolia bloom following a mid-winter's sun traverse through the day until it is safe to fully open once the day's warmth has reached its zenith.

"For the first time in her life she thought that she might die"

Whilst Waterhouse's Fifth Doctor persona is subtle with a hint of maturity, his Nyssa is represented by a deftness of a butterfly, his Tegan brusque not brash, it is his realisation of errant & itinerant actor, Richard Mace that is projected as a tour de force; its perfect given that character's colourful background and current circumstances. He's blustering, magnificently self-assured yet vulnerable and dependent.

"I feel that you've just killed an old friend"

Equally important to the success of DOCTOR WHO - THE VISITATION is the attribution of special sound effects contributed that lack a much needed texture and depth to Saward's (sometimes) pedestrian plotting. Simon Power (Meon Productions) has created a raft of `period' sound dressing from the innocuous (and virtually impossible to conceive) "...candle rolling across the flag-stones..." , to "...genetically modified rats...", to "...a pulsating alien gas-emitting device...", to "...the burning of London...". All in a day's work for an aural genius but there were a number of sound effects that failed to gender any appreciation; being punched in the stomach does not sound like a sack of milled flour being dropped 10 feet onto a stone floor. It's a very minor error but, like that fist being thrust into the mid-drift, it's not very pleasant. And then there's the number of footfall sound effect of the characters walking sometimes do not correspond with the number of individuals walking. If three people are walking on gravel then, whilst it may seem `messy', we should here three sets of feet not just one.

However, the additional sound treatment is key to the novelisation readings' success, and without it they would be as dull and soporific as watching paint dry.

Sadly, the cover - a new painting - by Nick Spender is poor (sorry, why are there rats amid the top of the TARDIS? And white window frames on the Davison TARDIS? Plainly, no). My nine-year old Son's attempt, with a pack of Crayola on the back of a Cornflake box, is far better. AUDIOGO should reconsider reverting back to the original TARGET covers no matter how idiosyncratic (or photographic) they may be, or enagage illustrator Anthony Dry (his work is on display as part of the Cardiff-based, DOCTOR WHO EXPERIENCE) for a more contemporary approach.

Overall, DOCTOR WHO - THE VISITATION may not the be the most accomplished novelisation and, therefore, must have been a Herculean effort for Waterhouse (under the guidance of AUDIOGO's Lyndsey Melling studio production), however the outcome is a purposeful, entertaining reading that will encourage those fans whose cynicism (about Waterhouse's acting abilities) remains faithfully entrenched in 1982 as a `badge of honour' to re-evaluate Waterhouse's own commitment to the programme's enduring legacy.
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Having just read the novelisation of this story, by Eric Saward, I have now received the audio reading of the novelisation released in October 2012. This novelisation is read by Matthew Waterhouse, who played Adric, companion to Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor in the 1980s. I was a little dubious, but Matthew Waterhouse reads this very well - his voice has matured, yet is still recognisable as `Adric'.

The reading of the voice of the actor, Richard Mace, to start with sounds a little over the top, but you soon get used to it, and I think he comes across, quite cleverly, as a rather `overwrought thespian' from the Stuart Age - used to projecting emotion and voice in a larger than life manner to a broad audience. As such, Matthew Waterhouse's characterisation of Mace is really quite enjoyable. His rendering of the Doctor and Tegan are quite spot on, and the remainder of the characters are also read very well.

In the story itself, the Doctor, attempting to return Tegan to her correct time and place (1980 at Heathrow Airport), finds that they have in fact landed in the right place, but not the right time. But someone else who should not be there has got there before them; and unless the Doctor and his companions can remove the threat, the Plague and the Great Fire of 1666 may not be the worst things to happen in London this year.

One of the delights of these readings of the novelisations of the `classic' Doctor Who stories, is that, while the novels themselves tend to be quite short (around 130 pages) and are a quick read, on listening to a trained actor's voice portraying the characters, and `emotionalising' the narrative, the story becomes hours of enjoyment, with subtle sound effects, and becomes much more than just a reading of a book, but a whole audio experience - the novels are lifted up beyond a quick read to a new realm and a new way of enjoying Doctor Who.

I thoroughly enjoyed this cd, and this story - totally recommended.
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on 24 April 2013
Eric Seward novelised his own scripts very soon after their TV transmission and this story is a slightly expanded version of the 1982 TV show of the same name. The real draw to this audiobook is the reading by the actor who played Adric in the episodes, Matthew Waterhouse. He gives some good albeit unconventional traits to the characters and seems to have fun portraying his erstwhile co-stars.

Not a bad book, not a bad version, quite a good reading.
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on 18 September 2013
As the supposedly `Artful Dodger-esque' space orphan Adric in the early 80s incarnation of Doctor Who, Matthew Waterhouse proved to be an acquired taste, with several colleagues and many fans of the show highlighting is inexplicably self-important attitude, wooden acting, and ability to run other cast members of the show firmly up the wrong way. However, as the narrator of this audio reading of the TARGET novelisation of Peter Davison's 1982 story (in which he himself also starred), Waterhouse is a calm revelation; his rich and plummy take on debauched thespian Richard Mace is brilliant, whilst his interpretation of Davison's brisk speech sounds incredibly like the real thing. Tegan's nasal Antipodean twang is also reassuringly familiar, and although harder to realise, Nyssa's gentle, lilting voice is also performed creditably.

Former script editor Eric Saward's story itself is pretty slight, and his interesting monsters - the Terileptils - underused, however the story moves along at a good pace throughout, and has enough going on to satisfy the listener.
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on 3 January 2013
The Visitation is by no means the strongest of the Target novels, but it does have one of the most enjoyable, well performed readings in the series of talking book versions of Doctor Who. Matthew. For anyone who, like me, was unsure what a Matthew Waterhouse reading would be like, it's first rate. Share the surprise, treat yourself to a copy.
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