There are some stories that are born of inspiration and broad themes. There are some stories born of an obsession with the format and a desire to delve deeper into the genre. Then there are stories like this.. A story designed to plug a hole in a season that had vastly overspent and needed to keep things simple. On the one side, The epcoh-making Daleks. On the other side, the lavish Marco Polo. But there were two episodes that needed to be filled and very little money in the pot in which to make it! Step forward story editor David Whittaker who, over three days and two nights of solid writing, came up with the cheapest episode ever made in the history of the show...
With this gestation you would be well within your rights to fear the worst. Yet you could not be more wrong. This is a fabulous little tale. Like all good stories, the premise is very simple; after a fault on take off, the TARDIS appears to turn against the crew - or is there a more malignant force at work? Woven into this is a story of paranoia, a Doctor apparently bigoted, plotting against his human companions, the fear of a normally stable and reliable environment turning hostile and dangerous.
This worked superbly as a two episode story, with brilliant performances by all of the lead protagonists but therein lies our second problem. How do you pad this out into a full novel? Again, this concern is groundless. Nigel Robinson does a wonderful job, extending the tension, providing exquisite detail for each of the characters and describing the steady mental disintegration caused by the claustrophobic and tension-rich atmosphere. Add into this, William Russell's superb reading (what a fine actor he is), and what you have here is a real little treasure. If you, like me, adore these early stories then this is an absolute must have. I managed to pick it up for £6.50 and I promise, it is worth every penny! (its only the price of two Macdonalds Big Mac Meals or 4 sausage and egg macmuffins - surely a bargain).
Todays review was written by Chris Newman. For more reviews and merchandise news, check out The Doctor In The TARDIS Forum