Maureen O’Brien, who played the companion Vicki, reads the 1987 novelisation by Ian Marter of ‘The Rescue’ originally written by David Whitaker for the TV. This is mainly memorable for the introduction of Vicki as a replacement for Susan. In changing times, it’s always reassuring to see a familiar face before we have to get used to someone new and ‘Doctor Who’ is no exception. Never insulting its audience by putting a new head on an old character, it managed to see off companions and bring in new ones without causing a break in the continuity. This was the first time it happened when Susan (Carol Ann Ford) decided to leave and the team didn’t rock the boat too much and brought on Vicki as slightly different take on a teen-ager.
We open with the story of the only two survivors of a crashed spaceliner on the planet Dido. Vicki, a young girl now an orphan and an injured man, Bennett, who keeps to his room in the damaged ship. They are both being menaced by a native of the planet, a fearsome creature called Koquillion, who keeps them confined but seems unaware that Vicki has already sent a distress signal to get help.
When the Doctor, Barbara and Ian arrive they are in a muted mood having just said goodbye to Susan. She decided to stay and help put the Earth back together after the Dalek invasion. Having been separated from the others, Barbara is attacked by Koquillion and falls down a cliff side. The Doctor and Ian must make a tortuous escape from the cave that the TARDIS is trapped in to try to find her.
The novel takes its time but covers the ground well. Maureen O’Brien is an excellent narrator and its 4 hours and 35 minutes long. The story is rather slow in modern terms and seems that it might have been padded to fill the time slots available, however this does not feel as bad when listening for some reason. Maybe it’s the passive nature of audio. If I’d been the age for the original Target novels, I suspect it would not have taken long to devour this one. But this audio is such a lazy way for me to fill in the gaps of the older series. It’s interesting to listen to one of the original characters read it, knowing that for them, too, this marks a point in their own career and life. I wonder what memories it sparked for Maureen O’Brien? It’s a little like reading your own diary from your youth and wondering who this person is.
These Target books are not exactly literature, they were potboilers aimed at the children’s market and anything that gets kids reading is fine by me. But from the days before we could have the complete sets of the new series on our iPods, this was our way of listening to the unwatchable. If you see what I mean. Novelisations of films and TV series offered the kids something to cling on to before home video, DVD and digital copies became cheap and ubiquitous. Now they might seem quaint and
certainly not Shakespeare but they present a window into a lost world where such items were treated with reverence. A certain Mr. Moffat read them and look where he ended up.
Sadly, this was the final novel by Ian Marter, was previously known for his role as Harry Sullivan with the Fourth Doctor. ‘The Rescue’ was completed for publication by the series editor Nigel Robinson.
(pub: Audio Go/BBC. 4 CD 276 minute story. Price: CD: £ 6.99(UK). ISBN: 978-1-44582-633-2. Download: £ 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-44582-632-5)
reader: Maureen O’Brien
check out website: www.audiogo.co.uk