THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
LOST" AND THE TV
EPISODE "THE REBEL
BBC AUDIO CD (ISBN 1-4
IN JULY 2011.
The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in the AMAZON RAINFOREST near aN abandoned campsite, where they are surrounded by hungry black caiman. Only the arrival of a man with a rifle sees off the giant beasts.
Oliver Blazington has come to the forest to bag big game, and his companion Garrett is collecting creatures for London Zoo. But the Doctor soon discovers that another hunter is stalking the Amazon. Animals and people have been VANISHING without trace, and local villagers speak darkly of "The Eye of the Jungle".
Amy senses thE all-seeing Eye watching them - but she and Rory are powerless to intervene when it sets its sights on the Doctor...
July’s audio exclusive comes from the pen of children’s screenwriter Darren Jones, whose credits range from Pinky and Perky all the way up to Dennis and Gnasher. Just like March’s Gemini Contagion, this project began at the Cheltenham Screenwriters’ Festival in 2009, where its would-be author “accosted” someone at BBC Audio, whom he then pursued with a pitch that would eventually become The Eye of the Jungle.
As well as introducing a new voice to the Whoniverse, The Eye of the Jungle is also notable for a few further reasons. Most palpably, it is the first eleventh Doctor exclusive to span two CDs – albeit only just. With a running time of around ninety-five minutes, Jones’ story is split into two near television-length episodes, each of which is housed on its own disc. This more easily-digestible format is certainly welcome, but I think that it would have been even better still had John Ainsworth been a little more brutal in his script editing and trimmed away enough of the fat to leave us with both the episodes on a single disc, as was the case with last year’s Dead Air. It would have probably saved the Beeb a few quid too.
Secondly, The Eye of the Jungle is the first audio book to feature Rory, who has been a mainstay of BBC Books’ flagship novel range ever since their second batch of releases. As a huge supporter of the Mr and Mrs Pond team (“Williams!” they both cried in unison…), I was interested to see how well their relationship would translate into this medium, and in particular whether the author would be able to capture the frenetic force of Karen Gillan and Arthur Williams’ performances. Happily he manages it, together with that sense of guiltless gaucherie that pervades every awkward Amy / Rory / Doctor ménage à trois skit on telly.
Most notably of all though, the script is performed by David Troughton, who as well as having a very long and impressive line of Doctor Who credits to his name, just happens to sound uncannily like his late father, who played the second Doctor in the 1960s. As a result we have one of the most curious readings in the whole range – Troughton’s eleventh Doctor is extraordinarily evocative of his late father’s second, particularly as these two incarnations share so many traits. It certainly makes for an intriguing, not to mention quite haunting, listen. As expected Troughton also excels in many of the other roles required of him, especially the characters that he is given full reign of. The fanatical Jaguar hunter Blazington is the actor’s finest portrayal in the piece, but he also convincingly breathes life into characters as sundry as a unscrupulous naturalist; a crippled alien geneticist; and even a young female ward of an Amazonian Church.
Turning to the story itself, Jones’ plot is solid, if a little conventional. The first half amounts to a properly peril-filled poke around the Amazonian rainforest in the early 19th century, whilst the second episode sees the action shift to a dilapidated space station in geo-stationary orbit, where a besieged alien race are trying to harvest the genes of Earth’s most ferocious creatures to create the ultimate warrior to win their war back home. The writer clearly had great fun in scripting the story’s later scenes, as his antagonists crudely splice the genes of alligators with those of arachnids and even a certain Time Lord to ghastly effect. There are moments towards the end here that I doubt would ever make it onto telly pre-watershed.
On the downside though, The Eye of the Jungle is a little too leisurely paced in places, and anyone with a decent grounding in Doctor Who formula will unavoidably find themselves a step ahead of the narrative all the way along. For the children and teens that this release is aimed at, however, The Eye of the Jungle is sure to be another winner – just not one to listen to with the lights out.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2011
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This novel’s blurb does not offer any clue as to its placement (beyond that it must take place after Amy and Rory’s wedding in The Big Bang, but prior to Melody Pond’s birth in the closing moments of The Almost People). As it was released after the second batch of 2011 novels, we have placed it after them all, putting it just prior to the events of The Rebel Flesh.
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