‘THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
A Visit to Traken with Nyssa and the Melkur
Now we come to what I consider to be the highlight of Season 18 in ‘Doctor Who’! The first time I saw this ‘Doctor Who’ story was when I purchased the ‘New Beginnings’ DVD box set in March 2007. I was really excited when I first heard about the ‘New Beginnings’ DVD box set coming out that year!
I was keen to watch the closing stories of Tom Baker’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ as well as the beginning of Peter Davison’s era. I’d seen ‘The Beginning’ DVD box set beforehand with William Hartnell’s Doctor in November 2006. With the upcoming DVD box set as ‘New Beginnings’, a tingle was sent down my spine! 🙂
The three stories of the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy are as follows: ‘The Keeper of Traken’, ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Castrovalva’. After watching the three stories on DVD, I had the most enjoyable viewing experience of my life as a ‘Doctor Who’ fan. I found the three stories excellent when I first saw them.
I know now that there are flaws in the last two stories of the DVD box set. But at the time in March 2007, I was pretty excited to watch them. With the DVD special features added to them to tell the behind-the-scenes story of 1980s ‘Doctor Who’, it was worth seeing all three TV adventures in one go.
The ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy was also extra-special for me on another personal level! The DVD box set featured the first three stories that introduced a new ‘Doctor Who’ companion to the series. That is of course Sarah Sutton who plays Nyssa of Traken, meeting Tom Baker’s Doctor and Peter Davison’s.
Sarah Sutton was an actress before she gained her fame in ‘Doctor Who’. She started acting at the age of 9 and went on to star in numerous TV productions including ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ and ‘The Moon Stallion’. I have had the pleasure of seeing Sarah in those productions over the years.
I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Sutton at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions. Sarah as Nyssa is my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion and I’m very lucky to be her friend over the years. The ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy holds a special place in my heart as a ‘Doctor Who’ fan regarding Nyssa of Traken.
A lot has happened since I watched Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’ via DVDs. I’ve enjoyed her in the rest of the TV series as well as the Big Finish audios that Sarah’s done. I’ve also enjoyed meeting her at conventions. So watching ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and Nyssa’s other TV tales on Blu-ray lately has been more special.
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘The Keeper of Traken’ as well as the DVD covers of ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Castrovalva’ from the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Acceptable In The 80s’ convention in Chiswick, London, October 2011. I’ve enjoyed chatting to Sarah about her TV stories. 🙂 I’ve also had the DVD cover of ‘The Keeper of Traken’ signed by Geoffrey Beevers, who plays the Master in this story, at the ‘Film & Comic Con Glasgow 2019’ at the Braehead Arena in August 2019.
I’ve also had a glamour photo of Sarah Sutton from ‘The Keeper of Traken’ signed by her at the ‘celebrate 50 – The Peter Davison Years’ convention in Chiswick, London, April 2013. I’ve also had a lovely photo of Nyssa from ‘The Keeper of Traken’ signed by Sarah for my birthday in May 2019. This was acquired by my parents for my birthday from the ‘Film & Comic Con Cardiff’ in March 2019.
Back then in March 2007, I had no idea that I would be falling for Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’ many years later. I was pretty inexperienced and uninitiated into the fandom of ‘Doctor Who’ at the time with the classic series. It was a generally happy time for me to get to know the TV series both classic and new.
I find the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy to be the beginning of a wonderful ‘Doctor Who’ companion as well as a lovely lady who played her. There’s also the transition of an old Doctor into a new Doctor here, but I do regard the early 1980s period of ‘Doctor Who’ very highly especially when Nyssa’s involved. 😀
Anyway, let’s talk about the first story of the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy, ‘The Keeper of Traken’ itself. Like I said, I’m very fond of ‘The Keeper of Traken’ as much as Sarah is. When I first saw this ‘Doctor Who’ story on DVD, I was immediately captivated into it, finding it very compelling and so enjoyable.
Years later, I’ve written my own sequel to ‘The Keeper of Traken’ which I’ve added to my blog called ‘The Tree of Riverloth’ featuring the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy. I find it amazing to believe that I would later write a ‘Doctor Who’ story of my own that is a follow-up to one of my favourite stories.
‘The Keeper of Traken’ is a four-part adventure by Johnny Byrne. He writes a captivating and engaging adventure here. Johnny Byrne previously wrote episodes of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ before he worked on ‘Doctor Who’. He also wrote episodes of ‘Space: 1999’, another sci-fi TV classic.
I liked the atmosphere and the ideas behind the creation of this story by Johnny Byrne. The story has the Doctor and Adric visiting the planet Traken after being summoned by the Keeper who is afraid that the world he’s been trying to keep safe is in trouble. A terrible evil is about to wake up on Traken.
This evil is in the form of a calcified statue called the Melkur. The Melkur attempts to take control of the Keepership and the Source of Traken by manipulating one of the Traken Consuls, Kassia, to do its work. Can the Doctor and Adric solve the riddle of the Melkur with Tremas and his daughter Nyssa?
When I chat to Sarah about ‘The Keeper of Traken’ at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions, she always says it’s one of her favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories and rightly so. Sarah loved the set design and the costumes provided for this story. Certainly the set designs and the costumes for ‘The Keeper of Traken’ are impressive.
This four-part story was directed by John Black, who makes his first contribution as a ‘Doctor Who’ director. Clearly John Black worked well with the costume designer and the set designer to make Traken an impressively alien world, based on the style of Art Nouveau which I found very interesting.
Sarah told me that the costume she wore in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ is her favourite and I liked it as well. It has a plum colour to it and Nyssa certainly looks very aristocratic being the daughter of a Consul of Traken. The tiara on her head and the fairy skirt she wears matches her costume very well.
I enjoyed Tom Baker as the Doctor and Matthew Waterhouse as Adric in this adventure. They certainly work well together as a TARDIS duo. This is very different to the TARDIS team set-up of the Fourth Doctor, Adric, Romana and K-9 in Season 18. Romana and K-9 had previously left in ‘Warriors’ Gate’.
Tom Baker is at his heroic best as the Doctor in this adventure. He clearly seems to be enjoying himself in what is his penultimate TV story. Tom’s Doctor doesn’t seem to be so moody as in previous adventures. The writing works well for him since Tom has some eccentric ‘bonkers-ness’ back.
There are times when Tom’s Doctor grins a lot and I liked it when he has his moments of humour including when he bashes Neman and the Fosters’ heads together, saying “One head’s better than three!” rather than “Two heads are better than one!” Tom even liked the story on ‘Behind the Sofa’.
Adric seems to be well-served here in this story too. Matthew Waterhouse has said that ‘The Keeper of Traken’ is one of his favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories too and I can see why. Johnny Byrne writes well for Adric. He makes him a useful companion compared to how other writers seem to write for him.
I like how Adric gets to use his mathematical skills; picks locks and does a Fourier analysis of some energy readings that might bring the Doctor’s TARDIS back. I like how Adric meets Nyssa for the first time and they quickly become good friends, getting to work together to defeat the Melkur in the tale.
Sarah Sutton as Nyssa is of course the highlight for me in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. I like how Sarah auditioned to be in ‘Doctor Who’ and that it was only meant to be for one story. But after she had impressed director John Black and producer John Nathan-Turner, Nyssa became a TARDIS regular! 🙂
Nyssa of course is the daughter of Tremas, a Consul of Traken. She first meets the Doctor and Adric when they come to rescue Traken from an impending danger. I like how she gets to be helpful, especially when helping Adric to get into the Traken Grove, persuading Proctor Neman with money.
She rescues her father Tremas, Adric and the Doctor when they’re locked in the Traken penal wing during ‘Part Three’ and she helps Adric to input the ‘servo shut-off’ into the Traken Source to get rid of the Melkur. Nyssa must’ve been brave when considering the risks of nearly destroying Traken’s Source.
This story is also the first to feature Anthony Ainley in ‘Doctor Who’. Here he guest stars as Tremas, Nyssa’s father. Anthony Ainley would go on to play the villainous Master in ‘Doctor Who’. I enjoyed Anthony’s performance in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and it’s so intriguing how he becomes the Master.
Here, Tremas is a compassionate man who loves his daughter Nyssa and becomes the Doctor’s ally on Traken. I liked how Tremas turned out as a character in this story and his scenes with Nyssa are very sweet. Tremas is a dedicated man to preserving Traken and sees the Doctor’s scientific skills useful.
The guest cast in this adventure are great. There’s of course Denis Carey as the titular Keeper of this tale. Denis Carey previously played Professor Chronotis in the aborted ‘Shada’. Had ‘Shada’ been completed, this would’ve been Denis Carey’s second ‘Doctor Who’. He’s great as the Keeper in this!
There’s Sheila Ruskin as Kassia, who marries Tremas and becomes Nyssa’s stepmother. Kassia has been attending to the Traken Grove and cared for the Melkur since she was a young girl. Her obsession with the Melkur becomes the better of her once she’s being used to do its bidding in the tale.
John Woodnutt guest stars as Seron, one of the Traken Consuls. I’ve seen John Woodnutt play Sir Watkyn Bassett in the ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ TV series with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. He’s been in ‘Doctor Who’ before in ‘Spearhead From Space’, ‘Frontier In Space’ and ‘Terror of the Zygons’. He’s superb as Seron in this!
Margot Van der Burgh guest stars as Katura, an elderly Traken Consul member in the story. This is Margot Van der Burgh’s second ‘Doctor Who’ appearance since she appeared in ‘The Aztecs’ with William Hartnell. I enjoyed her character Katura in this adventure and how she responded to events.
And there’s Robin Soans as Luvic, a Traken Consul who doesn’t seem to be the brightest and most special out of the lot in the story. I enjoyed how his character turned out when it came to the story’s climax. Years later, Robin Soans would return to make a small guest appearance in ‘Face the Raven’.
There’s also Roland Oliver as Proctor Neman, who is like the chief Foster on Traken. The Fosters are like the gardeners/policeman on Traken. Neman is meant to maintain order and security on Traken whenever things go wrong. Neman becomes seduced by power and greed when the Melkur is in charge.
The villain of the story is of course the Melkur. I found the Melkur to be an impressively scary statue. My Dad was impressed when he saw the Melkur in this adventure. It’s good the Melkurs came back in a Big Finish audio called ‘The Guardians of Prophecy’ as well as my story ‘The Tree of Riverloth’. 😀
The Melkur stands about the gardens of Traken for many years before it get to use Nyssa’s stepmother Kassia to take control before sitting into the Keeper’s chair on the planet. The Melkur is well-performed by Graham Cole in the costume and it’s superbly voiced by Geoffrey Beevers throughout.
It took me quite by surprise when it turned out that the Melkur was…Geoffrey Beevers as the Master inside. The Melkur turned out to be the Master’s TARDIS after all. I was amazed and thrilled to see the Master in this adventure and it was intriguing to see an unusual version of him in this tale.
This is of course the decrepit decaying husk of the Master from ‘The Deadly Assassin’ from Season 14 of ‘Doctor Who’. Geoffrey plays him very superbly, matching well to Peter Pratt’s interpretation. I’m glad he didn’t have the ping-pong ball eyes to wear as that would’ve made him unconvincing to see.
Speaking of which, I’m sorry to say this, but I found those eyes that Sheila Ruskin wore as Kassia when her eyes glowed red to be very unconvincing. I know they’re supposed to indicate that Kassia is being controlled by Melkur when she has the neck-band on her, but to me, they look really fake.
The story’s climax is pretty exciting as well as sad since it ends on a cliff-hanger. Despite the Doctor defeating the Master on Traken, the villain gets away and Tremas gets taken over by him when caught in his trap at the end. The Master takes over; steals Tremas’ body and kills him in the process.
Anthony Ainley becomes the Master from now on as he leaves Traken. I found it very gut-wrenching when Nyssa came back in and called for her father before the story ended on the scary cliff-hanger. I was so keen to find out what happened next as the end credits rolled up at this amazing story’s conclusion.
The incidental music provided by Roger Limb is very good. I especially loved Nyssa’s theme/the Traken theme featured in this story. I recall speaking to Roger Limb at the ‘Fifth Element’ event in February 2010 and he said that he was inspired by Béla Bartók when he composed that piece of music.
When I purchased the ‘New Beginnings’ DVD box set in March 2007; ‘The Keeper of Traken’ DVD was dedicated to the memory of Anthony Ainley who sadly died in 2004. I’m saddened they didn’t transfer the dedication to Anthony Ainley from DVD to Blu-ray within the Season 18 Blu-ray box set.
The original DVD special features were as follows. There was a ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Sarah Sutton which I found lovely; ‘The Return of the Master’ featurette with Geoffrey Beevers; the ‘Being Nice to Each Other’ making-of documentary with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews and some BBC trailers and continuity announcements of the story. There was a photo gallery of the story; an info-text commentary option to enjoy; a ‘Doctor Who Annual 1982’ PDF and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story. There were also three audio options. There was a stereo sound audio mix option for the story; a DVD audio commentary with Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse, Anthony Ainley and writer Johnny Byrne; and an isolated music option by Roger Limb to enjoy.
On Disc 6 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 18’ Blu-ray, the ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Sarah Sutton; ‘The Return of the Master’ featurette; the ‘Being Nice to Each Other’ making-of documentary; the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF, the stereo sound audio mix option for the story; the DVD audio commentary and the isolated music option can be found on there. The BBC trailers and continuity announcements, the info-text commentary option and the photo gallery for ‘The Keeper of Traken’ have been updated for 2019 on the Blu-ray. The ‘Doctor Who Annual 1982’ PDF isn’t included on ‘The Keeper of Traken’ Blu-ray disc for the Season 18 Blu-ray box set. It’s now included on the ‘K-9 & Company: A Girl’s Best Friend’ Blu-ray disc for the Season 18 Blu-ray box set and it’s on the ‘Time-Flight’ Blu-ray disc for the Season 19 Blu-ray box set.
The new special features on Blu-ray include the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘The Keeper of Traken’ with Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor); costume designer June Hudson and John Leeson (K-9) as well as Wendy Padbury (Zoe); Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa). There’s a ‘Commentary Extra’ which features an excised chat between Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse, Anthony Ainley and writer Johnny Byrne when they recorded the DVD audio commentary in 2004.
On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are also production documents and the script for the story. You need a special Blu-ray computer drive for that.
I found ‘The Keeper of Traken’ to be a brilliant beginning in the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy of ‘Doctor Who’. It’s still one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories and it has a wonderful introduction to Sarah Sutton as Nyssa who would become my absolute favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion in the TV series.
This story is beautifully well-written by Johnny Byrne and it’s beautifully well-directed by John Black. There are some impressive set designs and costume designs that make ‘The Keeper of Traken’ very compelling and engaging. But of course, this was only the beginning of Nyssa’s journey as the series continued.
‘The Keeper of Traken’ rating – 10/10
‘WHO GIRLS CALENDAR 2013’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Originally written on the 25th of December 2018.
This will always be my favourite ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’!
I remember when Fantom Films announced in July 2012 that they would be releasing a ‘Doctor Who’ calendar featuring 12 images of six female ‘Doctor Who’ companions from the TV series. This would be two images for each of the six girls in the 12 months of 2013. I was very happy about this special news!
I discovered that Sarah Sutton who played Nyssa of Traken, my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion, was to be one of the six girls in the calendar. I purchased the calendar as soon as I heard the announcement and was looking forward to receiving it in the post. It was very fitting to have this calendar for ‘Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary.
The calendar arrived safely in the post in August 2012 when it was released and I couldn’t be happier. There were beautiful portraits of the six girls inside it. They included Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Katy Manning (Jo), Deborah Watling (Victoria), Mary Tamm (Romana), Nicola Bryant (Peri) and Anneke Wills (Polly).
The calendar photos for each month were as follows. For January, it was a photo of Deborah Watling; for February, it was a photo of Nicola Bryant; for March, it was a photo of Mary Tamm; for April, it was a photo of Katy Manning; for May, it was a photo of Anneke Wills and for June, it was a photo of Sarah Sutton. For July, it was a second photo of Nicola Bryant; for August, it was a second photo of Deborah Watling; for September, it was a second photo of Katy Manning; for October, it was a second photo of Anneke Wills; for November, it was a second photo of Mary Tamm and for December, it was a second photo of Sarah Sutton.
The calendar photos of Sarah Sutton are my favourites. She looks very pretty and so happy in each of them. The June photo is of Sarah as Nyssa in her ‘Terminus’ costume and the December photo is a lovely black-and-white photo of Sarah as Nyssa in her ‘Keeper of Traken’ costume.
There was a nice surprise for me. One of Anneke Wills’ photos for May was signed by her as a free autograph in the post. I didn’t mind having Anneke’s signature already. I was looking forward to having one of Sarah’s calendar photos signed by her at ‘Collectormania Glasgow 2012’ when I saw her again.
Beforehand, Sarah Sutton, Katy Manning and Debbie Watling attended a signing event for Fantom Films to promote the new ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’ in August 2012. I didn’t attend the event sadly, but I was going to see Sarah the following week at ‘Collectormania Glasgow’ and I was to have a family holiday in Scotland afterwards.
I took my ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’ with me to the Glasgow comic con and Sarah signed it for me there. Sarah looked inside the calendar and said the December photo was her favourite. I knew it was Sarah’s birthday in December as well as it being Christmas. 😀 I was so happy when she signed that photo for me.
I was immensely delighted and surprised when she wrote “Merry Christmas Tim!” on the photo. It was very sweet and kind of Sarah to do that and wish me a ‘Merry Christmas’ on the photo. I was looking forward to putting the calendar on my bedroom wall in 2013. Sarah laughed when I mentioned that to her. 😀
At the Glasgow convention, Sarah turned the calendar back a page and saw Mary Tamm’s November photo. I miss Mary Tamm a lot as I enjoyed her as Romana in ‘The Key to Time’ season. Before this calendar was released, Mary sadly passed away in the summer of 2012. It was a big shame. I really wanted to meet her at conventions.
I remember chatting to Sarah about Mary Tamm and telling her that she was my favourite Romana. Sarah said she knew and met Mary at conventions. The two calendar photos of Mary for March and November are lovely. She looks glamorous as ever as she was back then as Romana in the TV series.
Katy Manning was lovely to see in the calendar too with two photos for April and September. I first met Katy at the ‘Fantom Films @ Memorabilia Birmingham’ convention in November 2011 before the calendar was released in 2012. It was lovely to see Katy in this ‘Doctor Who’ calendar. She’s so lovely to meet and chat to.
In the March photo, Katy wears a feathery outfit whilst in the October photo, she wears her ‘Frontier In Space’ outfit. Katy’s October photo is the best out of the two and is my favourite. I’m glad her infamous nude photo with a Dalek wasn’t included the calendar as that wouldn’t have been appropriate.
Deborah Watling’s photos as Victoria in the calendar are the best that I’ve seen of her. I hadn’t seen these full-scale photos of Debbie as Victoria before and the amazing bonus was – they were in colour! Debbie looks very glamorous in both these complimentary photos for the January and August months.
Sadly, Debbie aged since those photos were taken and, with respect, didn’t look the same as she did back then when I met her at conventions. But Debbie was a lovely person to meet at convention and it was great to see these 1960s photos of young Debbie when it came to January and August in 2013 for the calendar.
Nicola Bryant’s photos are very good. She’s pretty sexy as Peri from the TV series and is even more so when seeing her pictures in the calendar. Nicola’s photos are in February and July for 2013. Peri was a sex symbol in 1980s ‘Doctor Who’ and it’s hard to imagine her not being in the ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’.
The photos of Peri in the calendar are very complimentary, especially the black-and-white one in July where she’s seen skipping about barefoot with the American flag behind her for her character. The February photo is my favourite since it’s in colour and Nicola looks so lovely in her white dress as Peri.
Anneke Wills’ photos are equally good in the calendar months of May and October. I’m not really a huge fan of Polly in ‘Doctor Who’, but it was nice to see her in this ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’. It was nice to have the May photo of Polly signed by Anneke when the calendar came in the post as my birthday’s in May.
The photos of Anneke probably would have been taken during a photo call when she was making ‘Doctor Who’, although she looks more fitting for other TV shows around the time such as ‘The Saint’ and ‘The Avengers’. I’ve met Anneke at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions and she’s very pleasant to meet and talk to.
The ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar 2013’ will always be my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ calendar. The new series haven’t come up with anything like this and I was pleased that Fantom Films did it. The 2013 calendar is out of print now, but I would highly recommend the calendar to a ‘Doctor Who’ fan if it was available now.
Sarah Sutton is my absolute favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion and I love her photos in the calendar. I’m pleased I got the calendar signed by Sarah. It was an extra when she wrote a Christmas message for me. I’ve kept Sarah’s December photo hanging on my wall since 2014. I haven’t taken it down at all. 😀
There was a second ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’ released for 2014 with more girls for the twelve months – that’s 12 girls for the 12 months. These included Maureen O’Brien; Janet Fielding and Louise Jameson. However, I didn’t get that same excitement for the 2014 calendar despite Sarah signing it for me too.
Fantom Films haven’t released any more ‘WHO GIRLS Calendars’ since then, which is shame. You can’t beat the first ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’ in 2013 though and it was great to have two photos of the six girls in it. I will always regard it highly as the best ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’ ever since I’ve kept fond memories of Sarah signing it.
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Novelization and Audiobook of Traken
For Terrance Dicks
I’m so happy Andrew Skilleter’s cover featuring the Melkur and Nyssa was used for the audiobook!
‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’ was a pleasure and a treat to read and listen to! It was great to read it back in 2011 after purchasing the original 1982 edition in 2010 and it was great to read and hear it in 2020. This ‘Doctor Who’ tale in book/audio form cheered my spirits up during a pandemic.
I purchased the Target novelization of ‘The Keeper of Traken’ at the ‘Regenerations 2010’ convention in Swansea, September 2010. As you’re already aware, ‘The Keeper of Traken’ is one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories from the classic TV series, featuring the debut of Nyssa of Traken.
Nyssa of course is my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion, having seen her TV stories; heard her in audios; read her in books and even written her character in the stories that I share on my blog. I was able to read the book properly on a summer holiday in York, August 2011. Oh they were happy days!
I later had the Target novelization of ‘The Keeper of Traken’ signed by the lovely Sarah Sutton at the ‘Science of the Time Lords’ event at the National Space Centre, Leicester, January 2016. Sarah signed the book on Nyssa’s 35th anniversary in ‘Doctor Who’. That amazed her when I told her so. 🙂
‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’ is by Terrance Dicks, based on the original TV scripts by Johnny Byrne. I really like Terrance’s novelization of ‘The Keeper of Traken’. I regret not having the book signed by Terrance at ‘The Capitol II’ in May 2017 since he died two years later in August 2019.
For many, Terrance Dicks is a ‘Doctor Who’ legend. He was script editor on the TV show from the late 1960s through to the mid-1970s, concentrating on the Jon Pertwee era stories in the 1970s. He has also authored many of the Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ during the 1970s and the 1980s.
‘The Keeper of Traken’ novelization is divided into 12 chapters. Dividing the story as if four episodes of a TV story, you have 3 chapters comprising one episode. The first three chapters comprise of ‘Part One’, the second three comprise of ‘Part Two’, the third three of ‘Part Three’ and the final three of ‘Part Four’.
There are also exciting titles to go with each chapter in the book, including ‘Melkur Awakes’, ‘The Voice of Melkur’, ‘The Rule of Melkur’ and ‘The Last Resort’. It’s interesting how Terrance Dicks comes up with the titles for these chapters as he must’ve read the TV scripts before novelizing them.
It was years later that the audiobook for ‘The Keeper of Traken’ novelization had been announced for release in 2020. I pre-ordered the audiobook CD in November 2019. I hoped there would be an audiobook version of the Target novelization released by the BBC soon, as I enjoyed the book a lot. 🙂
I was looking forward to receiving the audiobook CD in the post and hope to read/hear the story at the same time when it came to revisiting it in 2020. I was hoping that Sarah Sutton would be the reader for ‘The Keeper of Traken’ Target audiobook. I have found Sarah to be a pretty good narrator.
It was proven when she did the audiobook for ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization which was released in 2019. Sarah has a beautiful reading voice and I hoped she would say “Yes” to reading ‘The Keeper of Traken’ Target audiobook since her debut tale as Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’ is one of her favourites. 🙂
Sadly that didn’t happen and the audiobook was read by Geoffrey Beevers instead. Not that’s a bad thing mind as Geoffrey Beevers is a fitting choice to do ‘The Keeper of Traken’ audiobook as he played the Master in that story. At least it wasn’t Steven Pacey from ‘Blake’s 7’ who read ‘Terminus’.
Geoffrey Beevers does a pretty engaging reading of the story in the audiobook. He doesn’t do exact recreations of voices for characters like with Tom Baker’s Doctor, as was the case in the ‘State of Decay’ Target audiobook. But his reading voice is clear and easy to follow, which was nice to read to.
The audiobook CD is a 4-disc set. The first three chapters on Disc 1 make up for ‘Part One’ of the story; the second three chapters on Disc 2 make up for ‘Part Two’ of the story; the third three chapters on Disc 3 make up for ‘Part Three’ and the last four chapters on Disc 4 make up ‘Part Four’.
Just to point out, the audiobook CD was originally meant to be released in May 2020. It would’ve made a nice birthday present for me. Sadly, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the UK lockdown, its release got delayed. Thankfully, I received the audiobook CD in October 2020 before the year ended.
As I said, the Target novelization was originally published in 1982 – a year after the story was transmitted on TV in 1981. I greatly love the book’s original 1982 edition front cover. It has a beautiful profile image of Sarah Sutton as Nyssa adorning the cover the Melkur in the background. 🙂
It’s one of my favourite book covers. I’m glad BBC Audio used that front cover by Andrew Skilleter for the audiobook CD instead of the Alister Pearson front cover used for the 1993 Virgin Books reprint edition. I feel Andrew Skilleter did a brilliant, remarkable job with the original book’s cover. 🙂
He captured Sarah Sutton’s likeness as Nyssa from the TV series and it was great to see Nyssa on the front cover of a ‘Doctor Who’ book since she gets to be the centre of attention. Sarah is a pretty beautiful lady and it’s the inner Nyssa fan in me who gets excited about checking out the Target novelization.
Just to talk about the 1993 reprint edition cover by Alister Pearson, it depicts all the major elements of the story including the Keeper, the Master, the Fourth Doctor and the Melkur. I’m sorry to say this but the 1993 reprint edition doesn’t look impressive as the 1982 cover since Nyssa isn’t included. 😀
I was very impressed with how Terrance managed to novelize Johnny Byrne’s TV scripts, seeming to be really enthused in the story. He stays true to what was originally shown on TV without any deviations. In my original review for the novelization, I had found ‘The Keeper of Traken’ a slim book.
It’s after hearing the audiobook read by Geoffrey Beevers that there’s more depth to the story with it being divided up in its respective 4 CD discs like four episodes. It is true Terrance doesn’t add much to the original story as he usually tends to do with previous novelizations he’s had involvement with.
I was engrossed with how the story unfolded. What with the Doctor and Adric being visited by the Keeper of Traken who appears in the TARDIS; being summoned to the aid of Traken as an evil force wakes on the planet and it happens to be the calcified Melkur statue that landed on Traken long ago.
It got tense and interesting when the Melkur used Consul Kassia to get into the Keeper’s chair and control the Source. Thankfully with the aid of Tremas, Kassia’s husband and Nyssa, Tremas’ daughter, the Doctor and Adric seek out to stop Melkur and save Traken from terrible devastation. 🙂
It gets interesting in terms of how Terrance unveils that the Melkur is more than a mere statue and that it happens to be the Master inside. I’m sure Terrance had fun writing that in the novelization since he co-created the Master’s character with Barry Letts in the early 1970s for Jon Pertwee’s era.
I like the descriptions Terrance gave to the Master in his decayed form, reflecting how he used to be a ‘stocky, powerful figure’ with a ‘darkly handsome face’ and a ‘pointed beard’, matching to how Roger Delgado looked. This is also the second time that Terrance has written for the decrypt Master.
The first time was in ‘The Deadly Assassin’ Target novelization when he wrote that based on Robert Holmes’ scripts. There’s even a reference to what happened in ‘The Deadly Assassin’ with the Master trying to get an extra supply of life, which I’ve discovered recently from hearing the audiobook CD. 🙂
Apart from adding in a few deleted scenes, Terrance simply writes the novelization according to what Johnny Byrne wrote. Whilst fair, it’s a shame as I would like to explore more of Traken’s world and see the characters enhanced more in the story. Mind you, the audiobook can help add to that effect.
With reading a Target novelization on its own, you don’t pick details up in a slow progressive manner. You could be rushing through it quickly. With a Target novelization and an audiobook in the background, Geoffrey Beevers takes time to read the story, allowing you to process more information.
The dialogue between characters is sharper than it was in the TV story. Terrance reworked some original lines to make them sound believable. One moment I liked is when Nyssa encouraged her father Tremas to give the Source Manipulator plans to the Doctor when being persuaded to do so. 🙂
Terrance does well describing Traken in prose form, clarifying some points in the story that might not have been clear to TV viewers. This includes the descriptions of the Source Manipulator’s inner workings; the Keepership of Traken and what ‘rapport with the Keeper’ actually means in the tale. 🙂
As mentioned before, the reinserted deleted scenes include one where Nyssa and Adric are before the gates of the Grove and there are people there waiting for a sign. There’s also additional dialogue between the Doctor, Tremas, Luvic and Katura when they’re escorted to their quarters by Neman. 😐
This is when the Melkur has now become Keeper of Traken during the ‘Part Four’ section. I like how Terrance writes for the Fourth Doctor and Adric together, having previously written for them in ‘State of Decay’. There’s a nice connection about the Doctor and Adric escaping E-Space at the start.
Terrance has kept to the Doctor and Adric’s strengths as characters which is what Johnny Byrne would’ve done when he wrote for them in the original TV story. Terrance also does well writing for Nyssa’s character, especially in her ‘Doctor Who’ debut. Mind you, I have noticed something here. 😀
I’ve noticed that Terrance describes Nyssa as a ‘slender brown-haired girl’ a few times. Not I mind the repetition, but couldn’t Terrance have varied it when he wrote it three times in the story? I suppose the second time round was to reintroduce readers to Nyssa in case they had forgotten her.
The third time was stretching it a bit too far. I like how Terrance handles the interaction between Nyssa and Adric, establishing that they become quick friends after some initial hesitation towards each other. I also like how the relationship between Nyssa and her father Tremas is handled in book.
Tremas is well-served in the Target novelization, as he turns out to be a worthy ally for the Doctor. Committed to his oath of office as a Traken Consul, Tremas shows a compassionate side and is very fond of his family. Tremas is a character you can easily identify and sympathise with concerning his fate. 😦
I like how Terrance depicted Kassia’s motivations as character, doing the things she thought were right in order to save her husband from becoming Keeper-Nominate on Traken when serving the Melkur. It’s intriguing how Kassia doesn’t want Tremas to be the Keeper-Nominate once it’s announced.
She feels her marriage to Tremas will be short-lived once he becomes Keeper. It’s easy to sympathise and understand why she was doing the things she did during the story in novelization/audiobook form rather than TV form. TV viewers might not have picked it up so quickly.
The Melkur statue is well-depicted by Terrance Dicks, as he describes the silky tones of its voice. He also describes the Melkur’s evil nature very well, especially once it starts walking about the Grove. Clues and hints are given about who the Melkur is, e.g. mentioning the creature in his control room.
It’s intriguing Geoffrey’s voice was amplified/modified/treated when he read the Melkur’s dialogue in the audiobook. I’m not sure if that gets forgotten about in the last quarter of the audiobook though. Either way, it provides the sinister modified tone to Melkur’s voice matching to the TV story.
The way the novelization/audiobook ends is gripping and tense. Terrance does well describing the horror of Tremas’ demise once he’s taken over by the Master. You do feel sorry for Nyssa when she’s calling for her father at the end. A faint evil laugh gets added. That makes it effective and disturbing.
I greatly enjoyed ‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’ by Terrance Dicks. It was even better hearing it with the audiobook read by Geoffrey Beevers in the background. Terrance has done a fantastic job novelizing Johnny Byrne’s TV scripts into prose form. It almost feels like I’m watching it.
I’m saddened it wasn’t Sarah Sutton reading the audiobook instead, but Geoffrey Beevers is a good choice to read the story anyway. I’m also happy the original 1982 cover by Andrew Skilleter is used as the audiobook’s cover rather than the 1993 cover. Seeing Nyssa on the audiobook cover is bliss. 🙂
‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’ rating – 9/10
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