I don’t know but there may have been a consideration by AUDIO GO (the new home for BBC AUDIO) to re-evaluate the merits of unabridged novelisation readings from the DOCTOR WHO CLASSIC SERIES and concentrate on a NEW SERIES youthful target audience to release cheap & cheerful single-disc readings.
With the release of Malcolm Hulke’s 1979 novel of the 1969 ten-part story, DOCTOR WHO AND THE WAR GAMES, I am so relieved that the proverbial audio plug had not been pulled – this release is a work of art based upon a work of outstanding fiction.
If you were faltering in deciding to whether to dip into your TARDIS money box (the ceramic version and not the “talking” version from recent years, I guess) or not then have no doubt this four-disc reading will remain on your iPod until its Lithium batteries are depleted in ten years time.
Yes, it is a slog in a positive way, due in part to the disparate number of characters that weave throughout the Second Doctor’s final – and defining – adventure. A perfect story to be lost within at the next Bank Holiday (or Public Holiday); it deserves your undivided attention and you will be rewarded with a memorable event.
This remarkable presentation is, and you might think that this next statement is either cynical or inept, a true 50/50 collaboration between the reading by David Troughton (under the guidance of the recording producer, Jo Palmer) and the inexhaustible sound creativity imbibed by Simon Power (of MEON SOUND PRODUCTIONS).
As the consummate professional, homed actor that he is, Troughton’s performance – yes, it is a performance as opposed to a reading – is spellbinding. As I am not used to such hyperbolae you will have to either accept my honesty or buy/download a copy for yourself, or do both. Confident and relaxed, he is one of the most credible contributors (alongside Geoffrey Beevers) for this range of audiobook releases as he deftly skips from one disparate character to another; whether a Northern England born English Officer, or a brusque German Sentry, or a nasally-challenged Prison Governor Gorton, or a greasy-haired Spanish bandit, or the innocent genius lilt of our favourite restless Time Lord.
Listen for this line (CD1) being read by David Troughton and you can hear Patrick Troughton saying it:
The Doctor: I think so, Jamie, but when?
It is interesting to note that there are 18 remaining Second Doctor stories to be transferred to the unabridged audiobook format, and, I hope AUDIOGO commissioner is reading this, I think that it would be travesty if David Troughton was not engaged to present all of them.
Simon Power’s contribution is equally as adroit, providing a wallpaper of special sound that is not only historically accurate – a bronchially affected motor engine of a Model T Ford van, or a GPO Bakerlite telephone, or the unending persistence of a rattling machine gun – but creatively unfaltering (such as a metallically-raking materialisation of a SIDRAT).
The novel itself expands on the ten-part broadcast version allowing the briefest of characters to be fleshed-out (even more so under the skill of Troughton), as is the historical background to the conflicts abused by the War Chief. Interestingly, there’s an appreciation of Robert Holmes’ flair in creating a memorable “comic double act” with the appearance of collaborators “Hun” Willy and “Tommy” George, in addition to the layers of the Doctor’s own background being peeled back as the story tantalisingly unfolds.
Jamie: Who are you really? Where do you come from?
The Doctor: Another time!
Jamie: Aren’t you going to tell me?
The Doctor: We have travelled together a long time. You see…
(The Doctor is interrupted…)
DOCTOR WHO AND THE WAR GAMES is exceptional, consolidating the acting performance of David Troughton and the post-production sound effects and music, and is recommended as a prime example of the excellence of the unabridged novelisation range from AUDIOGO but as a DOCTOR WHO story that is intelligent, uncompromising and thoroughly entertaining.