(ISBN 1-84435-381-1)




 the TARDIS crew is

 holidaying in 1929

 Antibes. While the

 Doctor practises

 his painting, HIS 


 attempts to fend

 off the advances

 of young Tommy



 All is peaceful and

 idyllic except for the

 portentous warning

 of Madame Arcana,

 and the fact that

 personal items are

 being stolen from

 the hotel's guests.


 What is the secret

 of the cave on the

 beach? And why do

 some of Romana's

 new acquaintances

 suddenly behave so

 strangely? As her

 newfound socialite

 existence suddenly

 takes a turn into

 danger, Romana

 finds that Earth

 is faced with a

 deadly threat...


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The Stealers

from Saiph

JUNE 2009








The Stealers from Saiph is a deceptively experimental release. To the casual observer, it’s a fairly typical Companion Chronicle – after all, it’s adventure featuring the fourth Doctor narrated by his then-companion, Romana - but upon closer inspection, it isn’t quite that straightforward. For the first time, we are presented with an adventure delivered exclusively by one narrator. An adventure without a frame. An adventure scripted by a figure who once sat at the heart of the series’ literary world, but from whom we haven’t heard in a very long time.


Due to her longer tenure in the part

and her extensive involvement with

Big Finish since leaving, when most

Doctor Who fans think of Romana

they invariably think of Lalla Ward.

Personally, however, I’ve always

had a particular fondness for the

Time Lady’s first incarnation, and

the thing that I liked most about this production was, without a doubt, Mary Tamm. Tamm recreates the haughty naivety of the character effortlessly here, buoyed by a script whose author has clearly taken great pains in placing her in a locale and in a series of situations in which she’ll shine - Tamm’s glam Romana and the luxuriant splendour of classy hotels and the 1929 French Riviera are certainly a rousing recipe.


And the play’s setting is brought to life suitably flamboyantly, both by Nigel Robinson’s script and especially Howard Carter’s sound design, which – as producer David Richardson so succinctly puts it – covers “everything from parties to mucus”. Furthermore, despite being without backup, Tamm’s narration really sells the cosmopolitan feel of the piece, imbuing many of the story’s characters with a different and distinct – though perhaps a little clichéd – foreign accent.


However, whilst Robinson’s prose is evocative throughout (and particularly at the end of the first episode), his narrative is far from riveting. A few spoilt socialites being “dashed put out” whilst they go about their lindehopping and spelunking wasn’t really enough to suck me into his richly-painted world, and the whole “astrology meets astronomy” angle didn’t really work for me either, especially with a tired old caricature like Madame Arcana at the centre of it. Tommy Creighton, at least, is good fun, particularly in the scenes that see him fawning over Romana.


Overall The Stealers from Saiph marks a disappointing end to an otherwise enchanting season of adventures. Those with a penchant for the middle years of Tom Baker’s reign might disagree, however, as if nothing else, this story succeeds spectacularly at recreating the distinctive spirit of Graham Williams’ tenure as series producer.


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.

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