Audio Review: Doctor Who: Horror of Fang Rock
13:16 04 October 2012
THE original remit of the series of Doctor Who soundtrack audios was to provide a substitute for those episodes missing from the BBC Archives, with remastered off-air recordings complemented by narration from cast members. Eventually all of these lost stories were released on CD, and although a handful of other surviving adventures received a similar treatment, the last of these was released some years ago.
But now the range is making a welcome return with a selection of stories starring Fourth Doctor Tom Baker, again filling in narrative gaps with the assistance of series stars like Louise Jameson, who does the honours on this release.
When the TARDIS lands near a remote Victorian lighthouse, the Doctor and Leela seek refuge from the thick fog, only to discover the dead body of one of the ‘keepers, Ben. The remaining operators, superstitious Reuben and enthusiastic Vince Hawkins, recount legends of the Beast of Fang Rock and a mysterious light which fell from the sky, but the Doctor is more interested in the strange electricity fluctuations affecting the island.
When power drains cut off the lighthouse lamp, a luxury yacht crashes on the treacherous rocks nearby, and the survivors arrive on the island. As people begin dying one by one, the Doctor deduces that the cause is an alien presence which has also been stranded on Fang Rock – a creature with chameleonic capabilities which could be disguised as any of them…
One of the last stories script-edited by Who legend Robert Holmes, this story continues the gothic feel of former producer Philip Hinchcliffe established during Baker’s first three seasons, the lighter flair of his successor Graham Williams yet to emerge. It’s rightly regarded as one of the all-time classic Who stories, a claustrophobic period tale which works just as well on audio as it does on screen.
The lack of visuals which a soundtrack release necessitates allows the listener to become completely immersed in the mounting sense of doom which builds throughout this tale, and also ensures any special effects shortfalls are overlooked.
A worthy addition to the AudioGo range, and with two more Baker stories promised in the next few months, hopefully just the start of a campaign to release the entire classic series in this format over the coming years.