Audio Review: Doctor Who – The Stones of Blood

(AudioGo �13.25)

WHEN it came to publishing the novelisation of this 1978 Tom Baker adventure, Target Books opted for stalwart Terrance Dicks as opposed to story writer David Fisher, and to be honest Dicks produced a thoroughly reasonable adaptation.

But now, more than 30 years later, Fisher has returned to his original screenplay to pen his own adaptation of the serial for one of the ongoing range of audiobooks based on the novelisations of classic Who stories, and wasn’t it worth it!

Dicks was frequently criticised for cramming stories into a requisite 129 pages, which left little room for detailed characterisation or background narrative, although he was working to guidelines established by Target Books which kept the page-count down. In contrast, Fisher is allowed much more free rein, and produces an adaptation which runs for four-and-a-half hours, resulting in much more colour and detail.

The story begins during the Doctor, Romana and K9’s quest for the Key to Time, an immensely powerful means of restoring universal balance which has been scattered across the cosmos, with each of the six segments disguised.

Arriving on Bodcombe Moor in 20th century Dorset, they meet the elderly Professor Rumford and her friend Vivien Fay, who are investigating an ancient stone circle dating back to prehistoric times. But the monoliths are alive, and begin a murderous rampage across the surrounding countryside in search of blood, as the time travellers uncover evidence of an alien war criminal having gone to ground on Earth.

Will the Doctor and Romana be able to defeat the ruthless Cessair of Diplos and her Ogri slaves? And where has the third segment of the Key to Time been hidden?

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Original series stars Susan Engel (Vivien Fay) and John Leeson (the voice of K9) do an admirable job with Fisher’s new “novelisation”, and some of the TV story’s special effects shortcomings are nicely avoided in this format.

Another successful addition to AudioGo’s growing collection of novelisations, benefiting greatly from Fisher’s embellished take on his story as opposed to Dicks’ more perfunctory version.