THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVEL "SHINING DARK-
NESS" AND THE AUDIO
BOOK "THE FOREVER
BBC AUDIO CD (ISBN 1-
IN MAY 2008.
THE TARDIS IS LOST ON
A WAR-TORN PLANET.
WHEN THE DOCTOR SETS
OFF IN PURSUIT, DONNA
IS LEFT BEHIND, AND
SOON FINDS HERSELF IN
THE PIONEER CORPS.
SOMETHING IS TURNING
SOLDIERS INTO BEETLES,
AND SHE COULD BE THE
DOCTOR STAGES A
HOW HARD CAN IT BE
TO FIND THE TARDIS,
RESCUE DONNA, AND
NEGOTIATE A PEACE?
BUT THAT'S BEFORE THE
ARRIVAL OF A BRUTAL
ON WIPING OUT THE
INSECTS. IT MAY BE
THAT NOTHING CAN
STOP IT, BECAUSE THIS
SOLUTION FOR THE
INFESTATION IS SIMPLE:
(2 70-MINUTE EPISODES)
Believe it or not, Pest Control is the first bona fide audio book that I’ve listened
to in well over twenty years. I’m not quite sure what it is exactly that has put me off stories told in this medium; perhaps deep down I associate audio books with immaturity and half-expect to hear something the likes of Funnybones or Burglar Bill.
Thankfully Peter Anghelides’ Pest Control is a
just a tad more grown-up than Janet and Allan
Ahlberg’s standard fare. In fact, Angelides gets
away with a lot here that Russell T Davies and
company would not be able to on television.
Here we have scenes featuring some really
grisly body horror, including insects hatching
from within (and consuming from the inside-out)
both humans and Centaurs, not to mention a gigantic robotic killing machine crushing life forms under heel.
The story itself is rather compelling too. Pest Control is told on that wonderfully broad and deep canvas of the Doctor Who universe’s distant future - ruthless corporations and humans that you can’t quite trust.
Angelides also seems to greatly enjoy writing for the tenth Doctor and his latest companion. The first story in the spin-off media to feature Donna, Pest Control has a very fresh and contemporary feel, and what’s more, Angelides has really nailed Donna’s characterisation – here she is every bit as feisty and funny as she has always been on television, but she also has that little touch of soul which has begun to shine through in recent televised episodes. Her “Captain Kirk” alias that she gives to the Pioneer Corps is a wonderful example of the former; her protective behaviour towards Miriam - an apparently Irish Centaur! - a sterling example of the latter. At times, particularly through the Donna / Miriam scenes, I was put
very much in mind of Planet of the Ood and Donna’s emotional journey in that episode.
In terms of the production, I have to say that BBC Audio have done a much better job with this story than I might have expected. The opening of the first episode was very Big Finish, complete with evocative music and authentic sound effects; the whole works. Indeed at the outset, the only thing that set this story apart from ‘proper’ audio drama was the narrated prose. Narrator David Tennant demonstrates his versatility marvellously by imbuing the various characters with their own distinct personalities, although ironically the two that are hardest to distinguish between are the Doctor and Donna with their similar accents.
All told, Pest Control is a fantastic science-fiction story, well presented and very well written. As there is no ‘hard copy’, as it were, of this book to compare the audio to, it isn’t possible for me to say whether this story benefited from or was hindered by its exclusivity to audio, however it should be noted that for such a big, visceral story to work at all in this format, someone has done something right. You never know, after this surprisingly encouraging experience I might finally give in and give the Companion Chronicles a go…
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
As a rule of thumb, and provided that they fit, we generally place these tie-in releases after the most recently broadcast episode at the time of their release. As Pest Control was released on 8th May 2008, this would place it after The Poison Sky. However, the novel Shining Darkness makes it explicit that after the Robot Santas of The Runaway Bride and the Robots of Planet 1 of The Doctor Trap, that story saw only her third encounter with machine intelligences. Accordingly we have placed Pest Control later in the season, at after
a point after Shining Darkness.
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