(BBC Audiobooks)

EVERY great hero needs a suitably menacing adversary, two sides of the same coin, locked in eternal battle between good and evil. Holmes and Moriarty, Batman and the Joker, James Bond and Blofeld, and of course, the Doctor and the Master… This reading of Terrance Dicks’ novelisation introduces the renegade Time Lord for the first time, as he escapes from Gallifrey to spearhead an invasion of the Nestene Consciousness’ plastic Autons (yes, the same monsters which made a recent reappearance in the closing episodes of Matt Smith’s first series)…

Alongside new companion Jo Grant, the Brigadier and UNIT, the third Doctor finds himself up against deadly plastic daffodils, killer dolls and suffocating armchairs, all the while playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with one-time schoolmate the Master.

Read by Geoffrey Beevers, who played a later incarnation of the Master on TV, this was one of the earliest of the Who novelisations published by Target Books, and as such features a depth of characterisation and plotting somewhat lacking in later volumes. Avoiding the budgetary pitfalls as seen on television, Dicks allows his imagination to run riot, no more so with his description of the Nestene Consciousness: “part crab, part spider, part octopus, its single huge eye blazed with alien intelligence and deadly hatred…” Would that we were treated to such a monstrosity on our screens, rather than the laughable creation we actually witnessed.

A highlight of the Target output, and another triumph for BBC Audio.