Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Doctor Who The BBC Radio Episodes pt4

Over the years, the BBC have produced a number of their own Doctor Who audio adventures.Audio Go have just released them in a box set, here we review the final two discs in the set.
I should add that these reviews where written before the tragic death of Elizabeth Sladen, so reading it back now is a bit weird...

First up: Expedition Earth

This one is a bit of a curio- in fact both of the adventures on this disc are.
This first one is from the olden days when the BBC used to broadcast educational programs for schools during the day on television and radio rather than shows about houses and cooking. This particular one is a Who story featuring Tom Baker and Elizabeth Sladen. The story, what there is of it, is slight. It involves the Doctor and Sarah Jane flitting through time from the very birth of the solar system to when the Earth was fully formed and populated by animals. While doing this, they repeatedly encounter an alien intelligence who seems to do nothing other that hang around in space and shout about things.  
As I said, the story is largely irrelevant. It is really just a hook to hang descriptions of the various states of the Earth upon as Baker explains them to Sladen (and in turn to the listening child).
It’s not going to win any awards, but this was surprisingly fun- I suspect mainly because of the nostalgia element of listening to an schools broadcast for the first time in decades!

Whatever happened to..?
Carole Anne Ford doesn't actually play Susan in this, but y'know...

This was originally recorded as part of a series of radio plays focusing on different fictional characters and what they did after their story finished and broadcast on Radio 4.
It has an impressive cast, lead by Jane Asher in the role of Susan Foreman, and even features a lovely cameo from the mighty Claire Rainer. It is not without its problems though- mainly for the more… ‘dedicated’ Doctor Who fan. Some are pretty big howlers. Claiming the Doctor to be a travelling salesman, for example, which flies in the face of everything that had went before. There are factual errors- the play states that Ian and Barbara were left back seconds after they left with the Doctor, when in actual fact he left them back two years later.
Susan’s character largely contradicts everything we have seen since, but as this was well before the range of Virgin and BBC novels and Big Finish studios, this can be excused.
The comedy in the play is rather hit and miss too, but some of the jokes are absolute corkers. I also liked hearing what Ian and Barbara got up to when they returned. Barbara’s story in particular rings tragically true in that I suspect her reaction would be what most people’s would be.
Again, as with Expedition Earth, this is worth it for the curiosity factor.

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