The Invasion from Space review

Released on CD in October 2018, Doctor Who and the Invasion from Space is a 2xCD reading by Peter Purves of a pair of classic First Doctor stories from various books and annuals from the 1960s.

It’s very much worth a listen, despite being somewhat dated here and there, if for no other reason than Peter Purves’s superb performance in reading. There’s more…

What’s on the CDs?

This release is a pair of stories; Invasion from Space runs at about disc and a quarter, with the rest of the second disc being the story Ten Fathom Pirates. I’ll cover each in turn. First though I’ll just mention some things about the style.

As is often the case in the 1960s material, the Doctor as we tend to call him/her is called Doctor Who. There are lots of Doctor Who looked all around kind of phrases. It takes a bit of getting used to, as does the way the TARDIS is just called TARDIS; this means you get constructs such as Doctor Who stepped out of TARDIS. All very odd to the ears!

This is also very much a First Doctor with no hint of the future; no concept of regeneration, multiple hearts and the TARDIS can’t travel without the Doctor. We even get the firm statement TARDIS is unique! No Time Lords of Gallifrey in this version of reality! Given the stories were published in 1966 and the Meddling Monk appeared first in July 1965 in The Time Meddler, this tells a lot about production timelines and continuity control! In fact the Doctor seems very human in most if not all ways in these stories.

On to the stories themselves…

Invasion from Space

First published as an illustrated book in the 1960s and now a collector’s item, Doctor Who and the Invasion from Space sees the Doctor land in the futuristic world of The One. Along with the Mortimer family, whom he rescued from the Great Fire of London, he finds himself recruited to lead a galactic invasion from Andromeda — with the TARDIS instrumental in the plan!

It’s an interesting set-up I’d like to have a chance of writing myself; the Doctor has unwanted visitors in the TARDIS (the Mortimer family) and takes them to (eventually) a massive invasion fleet from Andromeda. What’s interesting even to a modern listener is the way the Doctor is unable to evade a huge fleet and how the TARDIS operates rather differently to how it does today. It’s treated as a super-spaceship in many ways, and there’s a fabulous run of scenes where the Doctor visits numerous invading ships and gets a vision of the variety of alien life in Andromeda.

The setup overall is strong, and works well on audio, aided by Peter Purves’s performance (as directed by Neil Gardner). Add a bit of sound magic from David Darlington and it’s a really good story exploring the Doctor’s character and motives. It also seems to be writer JL Morrissey’s sole contribution to the show, a pity in hindsight.

Ten Fathom Pirates

In Ten Fathom Pirates, a story from The Doctor Who Annual 1967, the Doctor encounters underwater raiders on a distant planet. Forced to accompany them on a mission to find parts for the TARDIS, he must use all his wits and ingenuity if he is ever to escape their company.

Being shorter, my first reaction to this story was wishing it hadn’t been needed as I’d enjoyed Invasion from Space so much. That’s a short-sighted view and I quickly found myself enjoying a strange alien world of undersea pirates, deception and strange technology. I don’t know who the writer was, but the imagination is strong and it’s another well read tale. Invasion may be the main course, but make the effort with dessert and Ten Fathom Pirates will please most palates.

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