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Doctor Who: Serpent Quest 4: The Invasion of Hexford Part 4 by Paul Magrs

01/02/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Serpent Quest 4: The Invasion of Hexford Part 4 in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Serpent Quest 4: The Invasion of Hexford Part 4 in the UK

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pub: Audio Go/BBC. 1 CD 70 minute story. Price: CD: GBP10.20 (UK), Download: GBP3.32 (UK). ISBN: 978-140846-888-3). cast: Tom Baker, Susan Jameson, Richard Frankin, Cornelius Garrett, David Troughton, Nerys Hughes and Joanna Tope.

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Mrs. Wibbsey (Susan Jameson) returns to the peaceful village of Hexford hoping for a bit of a sit down. The Doctor is off having adventures elsewhere but it’s OK because a funny little man who plays the recorder has arrived along with a retinue of UNIT. They’ve come to the village as they are expecting the invasion of Hexford.

In an unexpected turn up we have the Second Doctor, ably and confusingly voiced by David Troughton. Oh, the power of audio as you can almost believe that Patrick Troughton is really there.

As the Fourth Doctor remains absent, the second inveigles his way into the hearts of the neighbours, Trish and Deidre. But the Wibbs is made of sterner stuff and she can’t help suspecting him of being not quite who he says he is.

For Mrs. Wibbsey is still on edge after her recent adventures and she is afraid of the bees next door as well as a hangover from her previous Hornets Nest encounters. Welsh Deidre (Nerys Hughes) next door has no such qualms and the drama queen novelist Trish (Joanna Tope) is all over both the Doctor and Mike likes a rash.

It comes as no surprises given the title that something nasty is heading from space. Meanwhile, the Doctor is planting some odd plants around the perimeter of Hexford and Wibbsey has taken to spying on him.

As the villagers mutter ‘rhubarb' in the village hall, Al plans for the Christmas play are put on hold as a huge spaceship approaches.

The fourth episode of ‘Demon Quest’ once more takes us out of fantasy land and back the calm village green of Hexford. A few extra characters pop up including the vicar the Reverend Tongue (Cornelius Garrett) and other random villagers.

Taking us somewhat off kilter again, we have the added complication of the other Doctor. Given that the Fourth knows his mind was tampered with by the Time Lords (just before he slipped into the Third) it gives the writer free reign to wrong foot us with the 'is he or is he not?' scenario. With David Troughton playing the Second Doctor, author Paul Magrs also gives us a marvellous wallow in nostalgia. He throws us just enough off balance by giving him the characteristics of the brusqueness of William Hartnell’s first Doctor.

Playing this in my car, I experienced the sound in a surround way. I nearly drove the car straight to the garage thinking the engine was making strange noises, like a spaceship...yes the ambient sound is impressive. I may well make a habit of listening to all the audios in the car from now on.

Once again, we are taken on a wild ride by the Fourth Doctor. Mixing it up with the Second as well is a real joy. The best character is Mrs. Wibbsey who continues to delight in her cantankerous way. When the Second Doctor snaps at her we really feel for her. Tom Baker is as superb as ever and the plot as loopy as we can expect in this series.

Sue Davies

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