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11 February 2013

Manufacturer: AudioGO

Written By: Terrance Dicks

RRP: £13.25 (CD) / £12.29 (Download)

Release Date: 1st January 2013

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 11th February 2013

Stepping out of the TARDIS into Victorian London, Leela and the Doctor are confronted by menacing, diabolical horrors shrouded within the swirling London fog - a man's death cry, an attack by Chinese Tong hatchet men, giant rats roaming the sewers, young women mysteriously disappearing...

The hideously deformed Magnus Greel, conducting a desperate search for the lost Time Cabinet, is the instigator of all this evil. Posing as the Chinese god, Weng-Chiang, Greel uses the crafty Chang, and the midget manikin, Mr Sin, to achieve his terrifying objectives.

The Doctor must use all his skill, energy and intelligence to escape the talons of Weng-Chiang.

* * *

The Talons of Weng-Chiang is considered and in my opinion rightly so, to be one of the great classics of Doctor Who. A perfect mash of Sherlock Holmes, Fu-Manchu and classic pulp adventure, it remains a master stroke in the show’s history and one of the crowning achievements of writer Robert Holmes.

AudioGO have released an audio book version of Terrance Dicks' novelisation of the story and like its television counterpart it is rather wonderful.

Terrance Dicks’ novelisation is excellent as he retains enough of Holmes’ original dialogue whilst crafting the narrative into an exciting and tantalising adventure. If Dicks had been writing in the 1930s, he would’ve made an excellent pulp writer as this story moves along at a cracking pace and never gets dull. It helps that the original story was so strong to begin with but that doesn’t diminish the great skill it takes to translate a great story from the screen to the page.

Christopher Benjamin is the perfect narrator for this adventure, as he tackles each role with gusto especially when returning to the part of Henry Gordon Jago which he originated. Benjamin’s work on the Big Finish spin off series Jago and Litefoot has prepared him well for the task, as at times it almost seems like Jago himself is relating his own adventure to a captive audience. He captures Tom Baker’s Doctor’s snappish nature rather well and his interpretation of Magnus Greel is a brilliant evocation of Michael Spicer’s original performance. He is also able to play Li H’sen Chang in a way that is reflective of John Bennett’s performance but not as an obvious racial stereotype.

The sound design and music is sublime as it is rather evocative of Dudley Simpson and the sound of a screeching giant rat makes the whole sequence in the sewer far more unnerving than the rather laughable rat puppet on television ever could.

This audio book version of Doctor Who And The Talons Of Weng-Chiang is an excellent production and one that this reviewer will quite happily listen to again in the future.

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