(ISBN 1-84435-379-8)





 A heatwave in July

 and a tube train is

 dIscovered buried

 in twenty inches of

 snow. A Saturday

 afternoon in Hyde

 Park and scores of

 people are Frozen

 to death where they

 stand while the sun

 beats down from the

 sky... Freak weather

 conditions in London,

 and the Doctor and

 UNIT are called in to

 find the cause.


 Meanwhile, a street

 magician, who was

 witnessed at the

 scene of the tragedy,

 entertains crowds in

 Covent Garden.


 As Jo and Mike disobey

 orders TO investigate

 alone, they discover

 an enemy wIth MANY

 MAGICAL powers. And

 they may not live to

 share his secrets...



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The Magician's Oath

APRIL 2009







On paper, The Magician’s Oath couldn’t possibly have looked any better. A UNIT-

era escapade featuring arguably the most remarkable character from that setup, penned by the writer of one of the better BBC Audio tenth Doctor talking books? I’m sure that I wasn’t the only listener with my appetite well and truly whetted.


And on most fronts, this Companion Chronicles lives up to its great promise. Writer Scott Handcock has done a great job of running with range producer David Richardson’s initial idea, turning a tube train buried in snow in July into something that’s more than the sum of

its parts. Handcock’s script is exceedingly evocative of the televised UNIT stories, yet a

little of the tone and the background of some of the UNIT-era novels is also allowed to seep through, together with a flurry of near-references to the “Unified Intelligence Taskforce” and the Doctors of today. The resultant production has a thoughtful, expansive feel to it that sets

it apart from many of its fellows.


For his part, as ever, Richard Franklin gives a great performance, not just as Captain Mike Yates, but as the Doctor and the Brigadier too. Although there isn’t any real chance that the listener will mistake his impressions for the apposite actor (as one might with Frazer Hines’ channelling of Patrick Troughton, or even Nicholas Courtney’s imitation of Jon Pertwee), he nails the respective essences of his erstwhile colleague’s characters.


Franklin is aided and abetted in his delivery of this story by Michael Chance, who plays the titular magician, Diamond Jack, and does so with great allure. At first I was quite sceptical as to how interesting the worn-out old magician angle would prove, but Chance’s magically gruff performance, combined with some exquisite and unforeseeable twists in the second episode, completely blew such preconceptions out of the water.


The tale itself is one of two halves – Episode 1 is measured and moody, whilst Episode 2 is rapid and action-packed, casting Yates as a dashing, Bond-like maverick. Handcock’s plot is cleverly interwoven with the story’s framing device, gently exploring the not-quite-romance between Mike Yates and Jo Grant, and then scrutinising the same with the benefit of many years hindsight, all thanks to a literal memory stick, as it were. Indeed, many of my favourite sequences see the older Mike looking back on these events with the wistful regret of an old war horse.


My only real disenchantment with

The Magician’s Oath is its failure

to explore the tragic weaknesses

in Yates’ character, which would of

course see him briefly turn traitor

in the chronologically-subsequent

story, Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

Paul Magrs’ was able to examine Yates’ regret recently in the final chapter of his Hornets’ Nest series, but even so, it would have been nice to have seen such areas explored in the bookends here. Maybe next time…


When all’s said and done, The Magician’s Oath is a must for fans of the UNIT era. Though

it doesn’t pander to miserable swines like me, who want to hear about an old, angst-ridden ex-army Captain ruing his past mistakes, it does do a glorious job of fleshing out the under-stated relationship between Mike and Jo without ever crossing any lines, whilst managing

to tell an exciting and surprising UNIT-style adventure at the same time.


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 after the audio book The Doll of Death, which was released later.


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