THIS EPISODE TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH / BBC7
RADIO DRAMAS "BLOOD
OF THE DALEKS" AND
BIG FINISH BBC7 CD#3
RELEASED IN MARCH
'THE COSMOS IS A
LONELY PLACE, DEVOID
OF LIFE. JUST US, THE
SAD HUMAN RACE
ON OUR LITTLE ROCK,
TO DEATH WITH GREED
AND POISON AND
HATRED. AND OUT
THERE, THE ONLY
Horror of Glam Rock
14TH JANUARY 2007
I must admit, I liked Horror of Glam Rock before I‘d even heard it. Now that’s the power of a great title.
The episode’s inspired label – which was courtesy of Big Finish’s new executive producer, Nicholas Briggs – is more than just a fan-pleasing pun, though. Horror of Glam Rock may not be a remote lighthouse under siege, but it is a remote service station on the M62 that’s besieged by monsters. And whilst the Doctor and Lucie don’t have a Rutan wandering in their midst, they do have Stephen Gately hearing voices through a stylophone, which I find altogether more unsettling.
With his script, Paul Magrs has
managed to take the oft-used
base under siege format and
really make it sparkle. Magrs’
handle on the period is so firm
that the production positively reeks of irreverent authenticity. Due to copyright we might not have been able to actually have the likes of Bowie and Slade appearing on the episode’s soundtrack, but ERS have certainly done a remarkable job of replicating that indelible 1970s glam rock sound in their sound design. This is 1974.
For me what stands out most about Horror of Glam Rock through is its cast of enchanting characters, who are each absolutely spellbinding both in their conception and their portrayal. Bernard Cribbins – stalwart ally of Peter Cushing’s movie Doctor in Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 AD – puts in a performance worthy of his iconic status as Mr Korns, the endearingly unscrupulous agent of up-and-coming twin glam rockers, The Tomorrow Twins. Una Stubbs is almost equally impressive as the unassuming and unflappable dinner-lady, Flo; and both Clare Buckfield and Stephen Gately acquit themselves well as the twin rockers. Their song, Children of Tomorrow, is even quite catchy in a deliberately naff sort of way, though it pales in comparison to the glam-rock version of the Doctor Who title music employed at the end
of the episode!
“The thing about stars is that they’re surrounded by darkness and obscurity.”
Turning to the regulars, Sheridan Smith really impresses once again; it really is a breath of fresh air to have a northern lass as the companion. And this is a particularly strong story for Lucie as it sees her taken back into his family’s past, where she finds herself face to face with her future Auntie Pat. Just as Daleks and space travel didn’t phase her in her first story, Lucie’s reaction to time travel is equally blasé; her reaction to her Auntie to-be says it all. In 1974, Pat is a drummer in a band. All she wants is to be famous. And then one day, her as-yet-unborn niece pops back in time to tell her that in the future, she’ll be “nothing.” Ouch!
For his part, Paul McGann breezes through the episode, buoyed by the budding banter of what is shaping up to be a very exciting Doctor / companion team. Interestingly, here Lucie
is painted as being fairly comfortable travelling with the Doctor. They seem to have both put their differences behind them already – perhaps a little too quickly for my liking – and are now at the new series-inspired “I’m so glad I met you” stage. Lucie and Rose may be poles apart, but the tone of this series and the ways in which the writers seem to be pushing the characters seem to mirror the new television series quite closely, which bodes very well indeed.
For a fifty-minute episode then, Horror of Glam Rock manages to house a lot of humour,
a lot of action, and a lot of heart. Particularly after the bleakness of post-apocalyptic Red Rocket Rising, Paul Magrs’ rich and glittery episode comes as a welcome change of pace, and I can’t really think of a bad word to say about it.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
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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