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Doctor Who: Galaxy Four by William Emms

01/02/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Galaxy Four in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Galaxy Four in the UK

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pub: Audio Go/BBC. 4 CD minute story. Price: CD: GBP 11.40 (UK), Download: GBP 5.49 (UK). ISBN: 978-056347-700-6). narrator: Peter Purves.

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With the amazing discovery of a missing episode 3 of this William Hartnell story, ‘Galaxy Four’, from 1965 this is once again in the headlines. It survives in almost complete form on audio and it is presented here with linking narration by Peter Purves who was Steven Taylor, one of the First Doctor’s companions, who features in this audio.
The story of ‘Galaxy Four’ is pedestrian and about as creaky as the simple robots, nicknamed the Chumblies who are at first a foe and then a means of communication with an alien species.

At this point, the Doctor and his companions are still travelling with no sense of direction around space and time without any say in the matter. Landing on yet another unknown planet, they meet the Drahvins - a war-like female-only culture. Maaga, their leader, is an unpleasant character who has no interest in anything but war. She describes her companions as products, grown for the purposes of fighting and killing. She tells the Doctor that only enough men are kept for the necessary breeding, the rest are killed. Yep, it’s tough on Drava, unless you are a stud.

Given that this was at the time mainly aimed at children it’s hard to see how mummy and daddy were going to explain that one. Even assuming we are thinking about the Amazonian culture it doesn’t project anything positive. Assuming the female-only culture was the novelty act, it is their refusal to unbend and change that leads to their ultimate destruction.

By necessity and for the sake of completion, the audio is released with the added narration to bridge gaps where things would be happening on screen. There are four episodes and that is a lot of narration. Here is where you can tell the difference between necessity and invention. ‘Galaxy Four’ is a leisurely story much slower than we have come to expect in recent years. There are four episodes which stretch the plot fairly thinly. The quality of the remaining audio is also not great but that’s to be expected given its age. The audio effects manage to make the Chumblies sound like the Clangers on occasion.

Overall, its undeniably a little bit thrilling to listen to this as if you were behind the sofa on original transmission date but there is also the nagging certainty that this was going nowhere with Hartnell driving it. We might have been more forgiving of a bumbling old man in the 1960s but now we need our Doctors to run and keep on running. We’ll be right behind them.

Sue Davies

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