Audio Review: Doctor Who: Daleks: Mission To The Unknown; Daleks: The Mutation of Time

(BBC Audiobooks)

ON the distant and dangerous jungle planet of Kembel, representatives of hostile factions from various worlds meet with the Daleks to discuss their plans to conquer the solar system, but their plotting is overheard by Space Security Agent Marc Cory. Just before he is exterminated, he manages to record his findings on a tape…

Months later, recovering from their experiences during the Trojan Wars of mythology, the Doctor (William Hartnell) and his companions Steven (Peter Purves) and Katarina (Adrienne Hill) discover the incriminating recording and join forces with secret agents Bret Vyon (Nicholas Courtney, prior to his long-standing role as the Brigadier) and Sara Kingdom (Jean Marsh). Their objective: stop Mavic Chen, Guardian of the Solar System, from handing over a sample of the deadly element taranium to the Daleks, allowing them to unleash their Time Destructor on the vulnerable Earth…

For 12 weeks (plus the one-part prelude Mission to the Unknown), 1960s audiences were gripped to their screens by a Dalek epic the likes of which has never been challenged. Travelling through time and space in a game of cat and mouse, the Doctor and his arch enemies find themselves in 1920s Hollywood, 1960s Liverpool on Christmas Day, ancient Egypt and back on Kembel, as the Time Lord tries desperately to outwit the Dalek forces.

His efforts cost him the lives of Trojan handmaiden Katarina, ejected from an airlock into space, and new companion Sara, who is prematurely aged to a pile of bones in a bid to thwart the Daleks’ power, and leaves the Doctor himself scarred by the death and destruction wreaked in their wake.

With many of the original episodes wiped clean from the BBC archives, this two-part novelisation of the complete saga is an excellent alternative, with John Peel’s prose neatly expanding upon what was seen on screen. Read by the tag-team of Marsh and Purves, with Nicholas Briggs’ providing the voices of the Daleks, it’s almost a better experience than the at-times repetitive and slow-paced TV serial.