THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
AUDIO DRAMAS "A
STING IN THE TALE"
AND "THE RELICS OF
'HORNETS' NEST: HIVE
OF HORROR' AUDIO CD
RELEASED IN DECEMBER
THE NIGHT IS OVER, AND
THE DOCTOR AND MIKE
MUST FACE THEIR ENEMY
IN A FINAL BATTLE IN
WHICH LOYALTIES ARE
ABOUT TO BE TESTED TO
Hive of Horror
The final instalment of Paul Magrs’ much-hyped Hornets’ Nest series is the first
that has come anywhere close to living up to my (admittedly lofty) preconceptions.
Like the four preceding releases, Hive of Horror is still an audio book, but not to the same degree as its predecessors. Whereas the “multi-voice adventures” that came before were, even within the fiction, simply stories being told by Tom Baker’s Doctor, Hive of Horror is closer to being the type of dynamic audio production that many of us have been spoiled by
in recent years.
Large chunks of this episode are presented as fully dramatised scenes between the Doctor, Mike Yates, Mrs Wibbsey, and even the Hornets’ Queen, and it is these scenes that I found the most engaging by far. It’s a real joy to hear Tom Baker and Richard Franklin sharing a romp of an adventure together at long last.
“I’ve felt your presence in each and every time I’ve met your kind…
I glimpsed you once. Dancing in a pig’s eye…”
However, because of the level of action featured in this story, Magrs’ script is still burdened with great swaths of narration, although here at least Franklin is able to step in on occasion to inject the production with a little more diversity. Irritatingly though, in the latter half Franklin announces something along the lines of “later, the Doctor told me that this happened whilst I was hypnotised…” and then Baker resumes his narration, completely butchering any sense of suspense as we know that Yates survives!
Above: Friends ’til the end? A battle of wits for the Doctor and Mike, tonight.
Nevertheless, as I have come to
expect from Magrs, the plot is a
cracker. Set almost entirely within
the grisly confines of a preserved
Zebra’s head, the miniaturised
Doctor and his two companions
infiltrate the papier-mâché Hive
of the Hornets and confront their
Queen – a scheming, vindictive creature that is not only able to clearly control the minds of those with bitterness in their soul, but also to influence and manipulate them without their knowledge.
“I don’t need to hear about your secret resentments and loathings, Mike. I’ve no interest. What I’m bothered about is putting paid to the schemes of the Hornets.”
This leads to some wonderful scenes for Franklin especially, who enjoys the strongest story that his character has been given since the shocking events of Invasion of the Dinosaurs. It’s no secret that this Hornets’ Nest mini-series was originally conceived (if not written) with Nicholas Courtney’s Lethbridge-Stewart in mind, but as lovely as it would have been to have heard Baker and Courtney reunited, Magrs’ story fits the troubled ex-UNIT Captain far better than it does his noble commanding officer. I won’t go into too much detail as to do so would spoil the tense finale for those that have yet to hear it, but suffice it to say that Hive of Horror serves as a delectable coda to Yates’ final two adventures on television.
All things considered then, Hive of Horror serves as a fulfilling and rewarding culmination
to this extraordinary series of linked adventures. Without a doubt the pick of the bunch, this action-packed, horrid and really quite thoughtful tale is virtually guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any fan of Tom Baker’s or Paul Magrs’. And what’s more, in a marketplace now flooded with Who audios of every possible kind, Hive of Horror – and, indeed, the Hornets’ Nest series as a whole – really stands out as being something a little different; something unique.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009
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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