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Doctor Who: The Sea Devils by Malcolm Hulke

01/07/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: The Sea Devils in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: The Sea Devils in the UK

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pub: Audio Go/BBC. 4 CDs 264 minute story. Price: CD: 13.25 (UK), Download: 6.14 (UK). ISBN: 978-140567-737-0)read by: Geoffrey Beevers.

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Another slice of the 70s reared its scaly head as I listened to ' Doctor Who: The Sea Devils'. It's all here just waiting to be remembered. The Doctor is even occasionally referred to as Doctor Who by the author, surely a hanging offence. This book is stuffed full of everything that singled out Jon Pertwee as the action-hero, slightly aging James Bond character from this era.

No longer earthbound, the Doctor remains a trusty advisor to UNIT and still has the bouncy Jo Grant as his trusty companion. He's not averse to picking up a gun and even using it, not necessarily in self defence. The Doctor uses the Venusian nerve pinch at least twice in this story and surely that must have been gleaned from 'Star Trek'? There are car chases, exploding boats and, oh yes, the infamous Sea Devils. Related to the other annoyingly bland lizard-like Silurians, the Sea Devils are an intelligent race who were the original occupants of Earth. They are more than annoyed that the monkeys have taken over and can see no reason not to eliminate man. They find a handy ally in the oily Master, who has been convicted of heinous crimes and confined to an earthly prison for the rest of his natural life, not withstanding this could be rather a long time.

In a wonderful depiction of bureaucrats and jobs-worth, the prison appears to be tightly run on paperwork and protocol. Characters such as the stuffy prison Governor Trenchard and Captain Hart from the local naval base, who fails to take the Doctor's word for the very real threat, are stalwarts of the 70s drama output. Little do the Doctor and Jo know that Governor Trenchard is colluding with the Master in what he thinks is a benign scheme. The Master has other ideas and mayhem soon ensues.

Geoffrey Beevers is an excellent narrator and gives this story a great kick which it may have possessed in the 70s. I just can't remember. It's great fun in places but there are places it grates. The whole dialogue with the prison guards just irritated me for some reason. Whilst making its point about the bureaucracy, it felt like it spilled over from 'Dad's Army'.

Little moments aside, this a good story with lots of changes of locations, fun in a diving bell and the Master stealing components and the show. However, the wrap-up is short and doesn't seem to make sense. I can't blame AudioGo for that and the production of this audio book is as ever excellent with subtle effects and music to enhance it.

Sue Davies

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