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Doctor Who: Darkstar Academy (11th Doctor Original) by Mark Morris

01/05/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Darkstar Academy (11th Doctor Original) in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Darkstar Academy (11th Doctor Original) in the UK

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pub: Audio Go/BBC. 1 CD 74 minute story. Price: CD: GBP 6.94 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-40846-879-1. Download: GBP 6.79 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-40849-813-2). read by Alexander Armstrong.

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The Doctor and the recently married couple, Rory and Amy, arrive at a 1950s prep school called Darkstar Academy. They make a forced landing in the TARDIS due to the sudden and inexplicable attack of Arctron energy which causes the Doctor to pass out and see a ‘very bad’ vision of the future.

Arriving in a stable, which has never had any horses in it, is only the start of the surprises that this school offers. Our team are caught by the school prefects who seem to be above average. As they are hauled off to the headmaster for a dressing down, the companions can’t help noticing the prefects are armed with some nifty Webley revolvers.

While the Doctor convinces the headmaster he is a school inspector and therefore sets off to inspect, Rory discovers that one of the pupils is being singled out for bullying. His paternal instinct comes to the fore and he quickly saves the boy but there is something worse than school bullies lurking in the corridors and it’s not just the smell of day old cabbage. The school is the centre of the ‘very bad’ vision and the companions only have a limited time to find out just what might cause the ‘end of everything’.

As with all school-based adventures, there is much running down corridors and general badinage about school dinners. In fact, it’s a witty story well read by Alexander Armstrong and crams in quite a lot for the hour running time building nicely to the finish.

The descriptions are good with constant reinforcement of the attributes of our three main characters. There are some effects, mainly the wonderful theme music (I still love it) and some TARDIS action (he still keeps the brakes on it seems that will never change) with some subtle background music.

Despite the almost throwaway nature of these audio stories, especially because they can’t affect the main characters in any permanent way, there is a depth of content that allows you, if you have the time, to listen again and enjoy both the story development and the witty banter of our favourite characters. Amazingly, it does feel almost like a drama with some good scary moments. This is help both by the well-structured story by Mark Morris and by the excellent presentation by Armstrong. This is a good quality audio and by no means second-best to the TV show. It is helped by having the characters pre-established but the writer clearly is steeped in the history and love of the character and this makes it even better.

Sue Davies

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