‘THE ENGLISH WAY OF DEATH’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Death with the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9
The second four-part story of ‘The Fourth Doctor by Gareth Roberts’ box set is ‘The English Way of Death’. Based on the original book, this is a thrilling, enjoyable adventure on Earth in the 1930s on two discs.
This story echoes the ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ stories by P.G. Wodehouse. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 visit London in the 1930s during a summer heat-wave and get caught up in some dastardly business.
In the story, a strange green fog appears in the streets of London at night with an odd odour that kills people. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 try to save everyone from death by the green gas around.
To do this, they have to stop a wealthy millionaire after discovering a strange secret at a seaside hut. I love this familiar 1930s Earth atmosphere of this story, since I could easily visualise the setting in it.
As a fan of ‘Jeeves and Wooster’, this was a welcome treat for me with the Doctor, Romana and K-9. It fits in well in the Douglas Adams era of ‘Doctor Who’, especially with the Wodehouse humour in it.
I liked some of the jokes that resonate during the 1930s period. It’s also well-edged by a grim yucky atmosphere of the monsters in the form of green fog that possesses humans and with killing people.
Tom Baker is eloquent and superb as the Doctor. I liked how Tom’s Doctor fits in well with the 1930s period and he gets to show a grumpy side as well as a flippant, humorous side during this adventure.
I found it funny and scary when the green fog attacks Tom Baker’s Doctor and he tells K-9, “The fog! It’s trying to kill me!” I enjoyed it when the Doctor forms bonds with Percy Closed and Felicia Chater.
Lalla Ward is equally brilliant as Romana in this adventure. Romana isn’t a stranger with visiting 20th century Earth, especially since she’d visited Earth in the 1920s during the story, ‘The Auntie Matter’.
Romana has her own adventure with K-9 and Colonel Radlett as her companions in this story. I liked it when Romana is working out what’s going on with the green fog as well as the Doctor in this story.
John Leeson gets to voice K-9 as well as voice the evil Zodaal in this story. I found it amusing how K-9 gets to be carried around in a basket by the Doctor and Romana when avoiding attracting attention.
K-9 gets possessed by the green fog and he is split into two as K-9 and Zodaal. This was pretty scary and interesting to listen to and I enjoyed how John Leeson get to voice both characters so distinctly.
The story’s villain is Terence Hardiman (who appeared in ‘The Beast Below’ with Matt Smith) as Stackhouse. Stackhouse is a wealthy industrialist and millionaire and in charge of a biscuit company.
Early in the story, Stackhouse gets possessed by the Zodaal green fog. He hires assassins to do his dirty work and he also does some pretty nasty things that lead to a final showdown with the Doctor.
Derek Carlyle guest stars as Orlick, Stackhouse’s valet in the story. Orlick also gets possessed by the green gas of Zodaal and he becomes the ‘secondary host’ when helping Stackhouse during his plans.
Orlick soon takes on the disguise of a policeman that stalks about in the streets of London. Orlick attacks Romana, K-9 and Colonel Radlett who discover the seaside hut as he gets to sound so raspy.
Richard Briane guest stars as Percy Closed in this tale. I know Richard for playing Gussie Fink-Nottle in the third and fourth series of ‘Jeeves and Wooster’, so I was very pleased to be hearing him in this.
Percy is a quirky English man who comes from the future to live in the 1930s. I found it funny when hearing how Percy Closed got his name in the story. He gets to be a helpful ally to the Doctor in this.
Abigail McKern guest stars as Felicia Chater. Felicia is a crime-fiction novelist who lives next-door to Percy Closed in London. Felicia is a recent widower and she’s setting her eyes on Percy as her fiancé.
It was amusing when Felicia believes she’s in love with Percy and how she expresses that to the Doctor. I enjoyed it when Felicia gets so involved in the adventure and finds everything astounding.
Tim Bentinck (who I’ve heard in the Fifth Doctor story ‘Moonflesh’) guest stars as Colonel Radlett. Radlett is this army general who meets and ‘bumps’ into Romana and he takes a fancy to her in this.
Colonel Radlett soon joins Romana and K-9 on the adventure, as they discover the seaside hut. I found it amusing when Radlett finds everything else mind-boggling but he manages to keep his cool.
‘The English Way of Death’ has been a joy to listen to. I enjoyed the comedic and sometimes horrific aspects of the story. It’s a great story with the Doctor, Romana and K-9 and I’m sure you will enjoy it!
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 4 of the limited special edition box set of ‘The Fourth Doctor by Gareth Roberts’, there is a suite of music from ‘The English Way of Death’ to enjoy!
On Disc 5 of the limited special edition box set of ‘The Fourth Doctor by Gareth Roberts’, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew on the making of the two ‘Doctor Who’ stories.
First there is a section that focuses on ‘The Romance of Crime’. There are behind-the-scenes interviews with Tom Baker; Lalla Ward and John Leeson. There are also interviews with the guest cast and they include Miranda Raison; Marcus Garvey; Graham Seed; Michael Troughton; etc.
Next there are behind-the-scenes interviews with producer David Richardson, director Nicholas Briggs and adaptor John Dorney who talk about the process of adapting Gareth Roberts’ novels into audio dramas. I found this enjoyable with discovering the process of adapting the novels into audios.
There is then a section that focuses on ‘The English Way of Death’. This includes more behind-the-scenes interviews with Tom Baker; Lalla Ward and John Leeson. There are also interviews with the guest cast which includes Terrence Hardiman; Derek Carlyle; Richard Braine; Abigail McKern; Tim Bentinck; etc.
‘The Fourth Doctor by Gareth Roberts’ box set has been a true delight! I enjoyed listening to the two stories, ‘The Romance of Crime’ and ‘The English Way of Death’. I’m glad Tom Baker and Lalla Ward are back as the Doctor and Romana and there are more Douglas Adams-styled adventures to enjoy!
I now need to go and find the original books of these stories to read on holiday! There is now a 2015 reprint of ‘The English Way of Death’ book in ‘The History Collection’ of ‘Doctor Who’ by BBC books.
‘The English Way of Death’ (Audio) rating – 10/10
‘THE ENGLISH WAY OF DEATH’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
More Death with the Doctor, Romana and K-9
If you loved listening to ‘The English Way of Death’ on audio, you’ll love reading this book!
I have had the pleasure of listening to the two Gareth Roberts stories on audio in ‘The Fourth Doctor by Gareth Roberts’ limited edition box set, containing ‘The Romance of Crime’ and ‘The English Way of the Death’. They were two such exciting adventures to listen to with the Doctor; Romana and K-9.
I stated I would love to read the original novels by Gareth Roberts on holiday. Luckily I had the pleasure of reading ‘The Romance of Crime’ and ‘The English Way of Death’ when going to the ‘H-Con’ convention in Eastleigh; Hampshire in July 2015 and on a family holiday to Oxford in August, 2015.
The book I read of ‘The English Way of Death’ is a 2015 reprint of the original novel and part of ‘The History Collection’ of ‘Doctor Who’ novels by BBC Books. This was unusual, since it was originally published by Virgin Publishing in the 1990s for the ‘Missing Adventures’ range of ‘Doctor Who’ novels.
I purchased this book on my birthday in May, 2015 along with ‘The Romance of Crime’ from Amazon. The book contains an introduction by author Gareth Roberts for the 2015 reprint of the novel. The book is divided into four episode parts with a prologue at the beginning and twelve chapters in total.
Reading these books has been an immense pleasure for me as a ‘Doctor Who’ fan, as I delved deeper into these stories with the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9. As I heard the audios beforehand, it was refreshing reading these in book form and I felt like reading the Target novelizations of these stories.
But of course these aren’t novelizations. These were the original novels by Gareth Roberts. I re-listened to the audios whilst reading the books and found it interesting comparing and contrasting what was different and seeing what changes were made by John Dorney from the books into audio.
I found how rich in detail these books were in terms of storytelling; characters and setting. Gareth Roberts does well in capturing the spirit of the Douglas Adams era of Season 17 in both this book and ‘The Romance of Crime’. I found myself laughing silly at some of the jokes included in the books.
I enjoyed reading the prologue on ‘The Episode of the Impossible Bathing Hut’ as Stackhouse is developed as a human character before becoming a zombie. It was interesting reading how bad-tempered and rude Stackhouse is before he meets his terrible fate when being taken over by Zodaal.
Of course not everything in the books was transferred to the audios by John Dorney as expected. I expected certain jokes from the audios that sounded very funny to be in the books. But some lines were added in by John Dorney in the writing stages or in some cases by Tom Baker in the adlibbing.
There were scenes in the books that I didn’t recognise when reading, as they weren’t featured in the audios. This may have been due to time restrictions in the lengths of the episodes when John Dorney was adapting them or because they weren’t do-able being so visual for the books and not for audio.
In ‘The English Way of Death’ audio, Orlick dresses as a policeman to chase after Romana, the Colonel and K-9 to the bathing hut in Nutchurch. But in the book, a deleted scene features a police sergeant discovering Orlick. The gas escapes from Orlick and takes over the police sergeant instead.
Also in the audio version, the Doctor returns to the TARDIS to find K-9 to pick him up in a basket in ‘Part One’. But in the book, this is different as K-9 comes out of the TARDIS to find the Doctor in the streets of London when the earthquake occurs. The Doctor still says ‘shut up’ to K-9 in both versions.
I like how Gareth Roberts develops the characters. It was interesting discovering more about them in the books compared to the audios. Having heard the characters on audio and how they sounded, it was easy hearing Terrence Hardiman as Stackhouse and Richard Braine as Percy Closed in the book.
I liked how Felicia Chater is introduced at the beginning when she’s settling in her house in London and gets annoyed by the whistling sound from Percy Closed’s house. The book explores more on Felicia’s intentions to re-marry after the death of her husband and whom she sets her sights on next.
It was funny reading the book when Felicia initially considers Colonel Radlett as her next intended, even though she finds him boring. But when Percy Closed comes along, she’s absolutely smitten and forgets Radlett in an instant. The book shines more on Felicia compared to who she was in the audio.
Also the Colonel gets more exploration as a character in the book. It was interesting discovering how the Colonel instantly fancies Romana after nearly running over her in his car and that he wishes to see her again. It is interesting he deliberately goes off to find her in the book compared to the audio.
It was funny reading some of the Colonel’s old-fashioned manners when interacting with female characters like Romana; Felicia and Harriet and what his views on women are. The Colonel gets to show his bravery, despite being out of his depth with Romana and K-9 and fighting gaseous zombies.
Percy Closed is interesting as a character in both the book and audio, as he comes across as being initially cowardly and aloof. He does object a lot in the book when not wanting to be involved with anything ghastly. But his bravery triumphs in the end when rescuing the Doctor, Romana and Felicia.
The monstrous Zodaal and how he spreads his gas into his subjects like Stackhouse; Orlick and Woodrow is pretty scary and yucky when reading. It was gripping reading what goes on in Stackhouse’s mind and how he’s described being dead and walking with the gas living inside of him.
It was also fun reading the Doctor; Romana and K-9 in these Gareth Roberts novels too. I did enjoy reading how the Doctor tries to make a leisurely time of it when he arrives in 1930s London. There is a lot more of him enjoying his afternoon tea at a Joe Lyon’s somewhere, before it goes pear-shaped.
It was funny reading what Romana did in both this book and ‘The Romance of Crime’. In this book, Romana wears something very tomboyish, which gets her mistaken as a man by Colonel Radlett when he almost runs over her. Even the Doctor isn’t certain that what Romana is wearing is correct.
I also enjoyed reading K-9 in both these books, as he’s very funny to read and enjoy when trundling around 1930s London and making wry remarks to some of the Doctor’s statements. It was equally creepy as it was in the audios when K-9 gets taken over by Zodaal and he is used a medium to speak.
I don’t know if ‘The English Way of Death’ novel will get an audiobook reading by BBC Audio. Probably not, as this novel has now been adapted into audio by Big Finish already. But I would like to hear an audiobook reading by Lalla Ward with John Leeson as K-9, so that I can read the book with it.
‘The English Way of Death’ has been a great ‘Doctor Who’ novel to read. I’ve enjoyed comparing what was different in the books from the audios and delving more into the characters of the stories. I do recommend reading this book on holiday, as it is good to read in a hotel room or on a sunny day.
‘The English Way of Death’ (Book) rating – 10/10
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