(ISBN 1-84435-352-1)





 While investigating a

 temporal anomaly in

 Central London, the

 Doctor and Jo meet

 Professor Harold

 Saunders, a man who

 possesses an unstable

 alien artefact, and

 who is haunted by

 the ghosts of dolls.


 Who is the mysterious

 Mrs Killebrew? Why

 is a pack of hounds

 hunting them in

 reverse? And can Jo

 pick up any bargains

 while backwards

 shopping on Oxford



 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT


The Doll of Death








The Doll of Death is without a doubt the pick of the first eleven Companion Chr-onicles. Though I’m admittedly a sucker for a UNIT story, particularly those set towards the middle of Jon Pertwee’s tenure, this one really stands out. Marc Platt’s script manages to evoke that distinct ‘family feel’ commensurate with the era, whilst at the same time telling a fast and gripping tale worthy of the modern series. Throw a firecracker like Katy Manning into the mix, and you have something very special indeed…


Listening to this production, the most immediately arresting thing about it is Katy Manning’s dynamic and engaging performance (and it is a performance, as opposed to just a dramatic reading). Her portrayals of her fellow stars’ characters are marvellously redolent, particularly her Doctor and Brigadier. Jo herself has been resurrected effortlessly too, whether Manning is playing the 18 year-old groovy chick of the main story or the more seasoned, married eco-warrior of the bookends (yep, she’s still with him).


Moreover, Platt’s story is equal to Manning’s enthused performance - it’s a complex, wibbly-wobbly tale of “retro causation” and “inverted timelines” that held me transfixed throughout. The science fiction concept of “counterflowing worlds” (most famously employed in the now-legendary Red Dwarf episode, Backwards) is seamlessly fused with out-and-out horror here, as a creepy china doll in Mrs Killebrew’s eerie Toy Hospital takes on the consciousness of a dispossessed soul from the backwards universe.


Indeed, the villain of the piece, HannaH (a case-sensitive palindrome of a name that reflects the bearer’s ability to “see both ways”) is a thoroughly macabre piece of work. As the tale progresses, her disembodied consciousness flits between Jane Goddard’s (the current Mrs Robert Shearman, and Manning’s best friend) ageing hippie, Mrs Killebrew; Katy Manning’s Jo; and whichever one of the pair is voicing the spooky doll (I still can’t tell). The real master-stroke though is the revelation of HannaH’s purpose for visiting our universe - the relative mundanity of it makes the horror of HannaH’s madness all the more unsettling.


The devil is in the detail though, and The Doll of Death is utterly saturated with apposite, even quite wistful touches that are sure to stir those like myself with a weakness for the old Blunder Days. Here we have Sergeant Benton in his glad rags, trying to impress Jo with his new Austin Allegro. Captain Yates giving Jo little pet names and taking her out for slap-up meals. The Brigadier remonstrating with the Doctor over the Time Lord’s unfiled tax returns. Beautifully indulgent.


All told then, The Doll of Death isn’t going to get anything from me other than a resounding thumbs-up; I haven’t got a single bad word to say about it. “With a needle, thread and glue, old friends can be as new” is Mrs Killebrew’s motto, and this two-part delight of an adventure effectively proves the truth of it.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.



This story’s blurb places it between the television stories The Dæmons and Day of the Daleks. Within this gap, we have placed it ahead of the audio book The Magician’s Oath, which was released later.


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