Excellent Audio Book. Anneke does the linking materials well. I never really liked the historical stories (purely preferred monster stories), but this and a couple of others (Reign of terror and the Highlanders) are making me revise my opinions. I think this my favourite 'Who' historical Stories. The Doctor usually is not allowed to change history, but in this story you feel he actually doing something rather than just passing through some historical events as he does in the Romans, the Aztecs, and The Crusades etc. The story is beautifully set in Cornwell and has action packed climax. If you want to buy one historical Dr. Who, try this one.
After listening to Brian Hayles' "The Smugglers", I found my head spinning and was left generally confused as to everything that had just happened. That's not to say that the experience wasn't enjoyable - it was - but with a quite exceptionally large cast of supporting characters, all male and many with very similar voices, even after four episodes I'm unsure who certain characters were and what side they were on.
This complexity and duplicity is half the point of the story in a way. As with many (but not all) of these missing story audio recordings, it's a real shame that the visual cues are no longer available to help the viewer / listener understand the events that are taking place. Whilst I seldom have any difficulty understanding the new audios by Big Finish Productions, the same cannot always be said of the 1960s stories, which were of course not originally made for presentation solely on audio.
None the less, the production is enjoyable, with decent sound design for the era and helpful but sparse narration by Anneke Wills. Within the story, Anneke Wills and Michael Craze are a breath of fresh air as out-of-their-depth 1960s everyman and everywoman Ben and Polly, and come across more effectively than previous companions Steven and Dodo. I can see now why Ben and Polly were popular companions and how they managed to carry the viewers over through the Doctor's first regeneration (imminent at this stage in the Doctor Who chronology). Both sound natural and there is real chemistry between them, even on audio.
The guest cast are also effective, but once again I found their voices very similar and some of their names unmemorable. As the story plunged into the chaos between the smugglers, the pirates and the revenue man with his militia, I couldn't remember where the character of Jacob Kewper had come from, or who exactly the treacherous Cherub really was. For me, at least, "The Smugglers" definitely needs a second listen.
A couple of days after episode two of 'The Smugglers' was originally broadcast, Scotland Yard arrested Buster Edwards, suspected of involvement in the Great Train Robbery back in 1963. In the 1988 film 'Buster', he was somewhat inaccurately portrayed as a loveable rogue, which was more than a little insensitive towards the robbery's victims. If it's a genuinely engaging, street-wise Londoner you're looking for, without any stain on his character, then Dr Who had one of the finest ever in Ben Jackson. One of the most memorable aspects of Season Four as a whole is not only his distinctive voice and boundless energy but also his being 'one of us' (in a way that Steven Taylor never was). The contemporary feel kick-started in 'The War Machines' is, in spite of The Smugglers' 17th century setting, maintained by his and Polly's very 20th century reactions. Without these two charming individuals, the season curtain-raiser would be nothing but a fairly flat slab of hackneyed melodrama. (The biggest nonsense of the story is that no-one notices that Polly, as "Paul", is not the lad she is passed off to be. Fair enough, if the paintings of Peter Paul Rubens are anything to go by, then the ideal of womanhood of the 17th century tended towards the chubby but even so! One is left with the uncomfortable feeling that the script is actually questioning the sanity of the good people of Cornwall. Shame on you Brian Hayles!)
One imagines a few exasperated sighs around the BBC about a programme that had looked to redefine itself as 'with it' a few months previously, retreating to the realms of the traditional but don't get me wrong: as an audio, I like 'The Smugglers' (though it is a somewhat guilty pleasure: something to put on for International Talk Like A Pirate Day). With the absence of music (only the sound of the sea), Anneke Wills silky narration and its double archaisms (the historical setting and the era of television that put it on screen), it is an enjoyable enough time to spend in your headphones.
well this is certainly a fun romp through time with the doctor, and for the first doctor one of the best historical ones. As far as historical accurracy of the time though I would doubt it potrays much more than a popular fictional view but good fun nonetheless (interestingly I think the locals would have been speaking cornish not english at the time. It is also very nicely packaged without any dated feel. good fun stuff.
The Smugglers is the last but one Dr Who story to feature William Hartnell as the orginal Doctor. It is one of many missing TV stories of the 60's - however the soundtrack still exists, and with excellent restoration and narration to explain on screen movements. This double CD is a must for all fans, especially Hartnell fans. The story was the beggining of the fourth season of Dr Who and is one of the 1st stories to feature Ben and Polly.