THIS STORY TAKES
NOVEL "THE KRILLITANE
STORM" AND THE SARAH
JANE ADVENTURES TV
STORY "THE WEDDING OF
SARAH JANE SMITH."
BBC AUDIO CD (ISBN 1-
IN OCTOBER 2009.
When the Doctor
arrives on Earth
in the far future, he
is horrified to find
the planet beset by
famine. England is a
and scientists are
the ground to make
the crops grow. But
now it seems that
something worse is
Karl Baring, the
owner of research
facility The Grange,
has been snatched
away in the middle of
the night. His sister
Katy was with him
when he vanished, but
is now in catatonic
shock - so it is up to
the Doctor, with the
help of the scientists
at The Grange, to
investigate. What is
lurking under the old
bridge, and why is it
preying on people?
The Doctor must find
out, before it strikes
(2 70-MINUTE EPISODES)
I never truly understood the maxim ‘specially written for audio’ until I recently listened to Nicholas Briggs’ six and a half hour reading of Trevor Baxendale’s Prisoner of the Daleks. 249 pages of generously-sized print? 60,000-70,000 words at best? Six hours? I’m sure it didn’t take me that long to read the thing!
Well, as terrific as the Prisoner of the Daleks audio book is, the hundred and sixty-minute Day of the Troll was much more suited to my 21st century, woefully diminutive attention span. Of course it helps that The Day of the Troll is a cracking little story; a weird and wonderful fusion of The Green Death and The Seeds of Doom… only with Trolls.
The plot revolves around sinister goings on at the Grange, the only farm left in Britain (the only civilisation left in Britain!) following an ecological disaster that is tentatively referred to as “global cooling”. Simon Messingham’s depiction of the future of our planet may not win any prizes for being optimistic or even original, but it’s certainly credible.
What’s more, the volunteers manning the Grange – the ‘Nut Hutch’ of the future, if you will – are a diverse and engaging bunch, overflowing with all sorts of political and social wrangling. The role of makeshift companion falls to Petre, the administrator of the Grange. Petre is a wonderfully sympathetic character, so visibly out of her depth and aware of her own limits,
yet all the more likeable for it. And as the story progresses, from somewhere deep inside she really starts to find some courage and give the listener cause to start championing her; at one point she even takes a bullet for her convictions. It’s gripping stuff.
The rest of the supporting characters
are equally well-drawn, though perha-
ps a little less rounded. The loath-
some politician is something of a
cliché, as is the screaming Vanessa,
but even so they both work very well
within the context. I think what makes
the characters in this adventure such
a success is that they are all brought to life by the superlative vocal talent of David Tennant; something that I’m sure Messingham had very much in mind when he threw as many different accents and dialects into his story as humanly possible. For an audio adventure with a single narrator, The Day of the Troll certainly feels vibrant.
This adventure also has a very charming, “under the bridge” fairytale quality to it. The series is often at its best when taking an element of folklore or mythology and giving it a science-fiction makeover, and The Day of the Troll is a particularly fine example of this. Not only does it ‘explain’ Trolls in the most inventive (and brutally chilling) of ways, but it also brings some new ideas to the table – Karl Baring’s being absorbed by and fused with one of these creatures, for instance. Very nasty.
On a final note, it goes without saying really that Tennant recreates his Doctor flawlessly for the production, but then he is aided and abetted by some marvellously apposite dialogue that the author has clearly taken great relish in scripting.
All told then, The Day of the Troll is a fantastic addition to BBC Books’ “audio exclusive” range, and if it proves to be the last one for the tenth Doctor before Eleven steps into his sneakers, then he’s most definitely bowing out on a high.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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