‘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 DVD box set as ‘New Beginnings’, a tingle was 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 these three stories 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 to introduce 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, as I’ve enjoyed her in the rest of the TV series as well as in the Big Finish audios Sarah has done and 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 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 Sarah 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 Sutton for my birthday in May 2019. This was acquired for me by my parents 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 getting to know the TV series classic and new.
I find the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy to be the beginnings 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 regard the early 1980s period of ‘Doctor Who’ 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 costumes provided for this story. Certainly the costumes and set design in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ is impressive.
This four-part story is 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’s Doctor and Matthew Waterhouse as Adric in this adventure. They certainly worked 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 ‘bonkersness’ 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 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 where they quickly become friends and they get to work together to defeat the Melkur in this.
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 in ‘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. Ainthony 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 saving 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 is 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 gets 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 and he’s been in ‘Doctor Who’ before in ‘Spearhead From Space’, ‘Frontier In Space’ and ‘Terror of the Zygons’. He is 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 appearance in ‘Doctor Who’ 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 when 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 uses 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 looked really fake.
The story’s climax is pretty exciting as well as sad when 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 so gut-wrenching when Nyssa came back in and calls for her father before the story ends on the scary cliff-hanger. I was so keen to find out what happened next as the end credits rolled up at the end of this amazing story.
The incidental music provided by Roger Limb is very good. I especially loved Nyssa’s theme or the Traken theme featured in this story. I recall speaking to Roger Limb at the ‘Fifth Element’ event in February 2010 as 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 Anthonly 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. There was also 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 info-text commentary option; the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story; 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 as well as 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 is now included on the ‘K-9 & Company: A Girl’s Best Friend’ Blu-ray disc for the Season 18 Blu-ray box set and 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 commentary in 2004.
On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are also production documents and 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 to the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy of ‘Doctor Who’. It’s still one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories as 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 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 ‘Doctor Who’ girl companions from the TV show. 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 plays 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. 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 in 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; 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 for Sarah are my favourites. She looks so pretty and happy. The two photos are in June and December. 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 in 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, Katy and Debbie attended a signing event for Fantom Films to promote the new ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’ in August 2012. I missed that event sadly, but I was going to see Sarah the following week afterwards at ‘Collectormania Glasgow’ and I was to have a family holiday in Scotland.
I took my ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’ with me to the Glasgow convention and Sarah signed it for me there. Sarah signed the inside of the calendar, saying the December photo was her favourite. I knew it was Sarah’s birthday in December as well as 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 wish me a ‘Merry Christmas’ on that photo and 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 back the calendar and saw Mary Tamm’s November photo. I miss Mary as Romana from ‘The Key to Time’ season. Before this calendar was released, Mary sadly passed away in the summer of 2012. It was a big shame as 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 and she looks glamorous as ever as she was back then as Romana in the TV series.
Katy Manning was lovely to see in this calendar too with two photos for April and September. I first met Katy at a convention in Birmingham, November 2011 before the calendar was released. It was lovely to see Katy in this ‘Doctor Who’ calendar and she’s so lovely to meet and chat to at conventions.
Katy wears a feathery outfit in the March photo whilst she wears her ‘Frontier In Space’ outfit in the October photo. Katy’s October photo is the best out of the two and is my favourite. I’m glad her infamous photo with a Dalek in the nude wasn’t in the calendar as that would have been disrespectful.
Deborah Watling’s photos in the calendar are the best I’ve seen of her as Victoria. I’d never 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.
Debbie sadly aged since those photos were taken and, with respect, didn’t look the same as she was back then when I met her at conventions. But Debbie was a lovely person to meet 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 is in colour and Nicola looks so lovely in her white dress as Peri.
Anneke Wills’ photos are equally good in the calendar for 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 is in May.
The photos for Anneke probably would have been taken during a photo call as 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 was so 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 Fantom Films did. This 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 did not get that same excitement for the 2014 calendar despite Sarah signing it for me too.
Fantom Films haven’t released more ‘WHO GIRLS Calendars’ since then which is shame. You can’t beat this 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 as the best ‘WHO GIRLS Calendar’ ever as 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 Book of Traken
This book, ‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’, was a pleasure and a treat to read!
I purchased this Target novelization at the ‘Regenerations 2010’ convention in Swansea, September 2010. ‘The Keeper of Traken’ is one of my favourite stories featuring the debut of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion Nyssa. I was so keen to read this book which I did on holiday in York, August 2011.
I’ve had the book, ‘Doctor Who and 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’, which amazed her when I told her so.
Just so you are aware, this is what the story’s about. The Doctor and Adric are visited by the Keeper of Traken who appears inside the TARDIS. They are summoned to the aid of Traken as an evil force is about to wake up on the planet. This is the calcified Melkur statue that landed on Traken many years ago.
The Melkur uses Consul Kassia to get into the Keeper’s chair and to control the Source of Traken. With the help of Tremas, Kassia’s husband, and his daughter Nyssa, the Doctor and Adric seek out to stop the Melkur and save Traken from devastation. It soon turns out the Melkur is more than a mere statue.
The book was originally published in 1982 – a year after the story was transmitted in 1981. I love the front cover of the book’s original 1982 edition. It has a beautiful profile image of Sarah Sutton as Nyssa adorning the cover with the Melkur statue in the background. It’s one of my favourite book covers.
Andrew Skilleter who designed the original book cover did a brilliant and remarkable job of capturing Sarah Sutton’s likeness as Nyssa from the TV series. Sarah’s beautiful and it’s great to see her as Nyssa on the front cover of a ‘Doctor Who’ book as she gets to be the centre of attention.
Terrance Dicks wrote the novelization of ‘The Keeper of Traken’ based on the original TV scripts by writer Johnny Byrne. Terrance is a ‘Doctor Who’ legend as he script-edited the Jon Pertwee stories in the 1970s and he’s authored many of the Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ during the 1970s and 1980s.
I’m very impressed with how Terrance has managed to novelize Johnny Byrne’s TV scripts. He has stayed true to what was shown on TV. Saying that however, ‘The Keeper of Traken’ is a very slim book since Terrance doesn’t add much to the original story as he usually tends to with previous novelizations.
Apart from adding in a few deleted scenes, Terrance simply writes the novelization according to what Johnny Byrne wrote in the script. This is a shame, as I wanted to explore more of the world of Traken and see the characters enhanced during the story. But this is still a good book and a very nice read.
The book is divided into 12 chapters. There are 3 chapters comprising of one episode out of the four from the TV story. So 3 chapters times 4 equals 12 chapters altogether. The chapters also have exciting titles to them such as ‘The Voice of Melkur’, ‘The Net’, ‘The Rule of Melkur’ and ‘The Last Resort’.
The dialogue between characters is sharper than it was in the TV story. Terrance reworded some of the original lines to make them sound believable. One moment I liked is when Nyssa encourages her father Tremas to give the Doctor the Source Manipulator plans after he has been persuaded to do so.
I enjoyed revisiting Traken in prose form. Terrance has done well in describing Traken and clarifies some points in the story that might not have been clear to viewers. This includes describing the workings of the Source Manipulator; the Keepership of Traken and what ‘rapport with the Keeper’ really means.
As I mentioned before, Terrance re-inserts deleted scenes that weren’t featured in the TV story. This includes a scene between Nyssa and Adric at the grove gates as well as additional dialogue between the Doctor; Tremas; Luvic and Katura when they’re escorted by Neman after the Melkur is now Keeper.
I like how Terrance writes for the Fourth Doctor and Adric as he previously wrote for them in ‘State of Decay’ on TV. A nice connection is made to the Doctor and Adric escaping from E-Space. Terrance has kept to the Doctor and Adric’s strengths as Johnny Byrne wrote for them in the original TV story.
Terrance has done well in writing for Nyssa in her debut ‘Doctor Who’ appearance. I’ve noticed that Terrance describes Nyssa as a ‘slender brown-haired girl’ a number of times. I like how Terrance describes the interaction between Nyssa and Adric and the relationship between her and her father.
Tremas is well-served in the novelization, making him a worthy ally to the Doctor. Tremas is committed to his oath of office as a Traken Consul. He shows a compassionate side and is very fond of his family. Tremas is a character that you can easily identify and sympathise regarding his fate.
I really like how Terrance depicts Kassia in doing the things that the Melkur has asked her to do out of the love she has for her husband Tremas. Kassia doesn’t want Tremas to be the Keeper-Nominate as her marriage to him will be short-lived. Thus I was able to sympathise and understand why she’s doing these things.
The Melkur statue is well-depicted in the story as Terrance describes the silky tones in its voice. He describes the Melkur’s evil nature pretty well, especially when he walks about the grove. Terrance gives clues and hints about who the Melkur is, such as mentioning the creature in his control room.
Soon the Melkur turns out to be a TARDIS and it was the Master all along. Terrance had fun writing for the Master since he co-created the character with Barry Letts in the early 1970s with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. He describes the Master once as Roger Delgado before his decayed form from ‘The Deadly Assassin’.
The way that the novelization ends is very touching and moving. Terrance does extremely well in describing the horror of Tremas’ demise when he gets taken over by the Master. You feel sorry for Nyssa when she calls out for him at the end. Terrance adds a faint evil laugh which is very effective and disturbing.
I really enjoyed reading ‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’ by Terrance Dicks. He did a brilliant job novelizing Johnny Byrne’s TV scripts into prose form. I would like there to be an audiobook version of the story soon when released by the BBC as I would like to read and listen to the story at the same time.
I would like Sarah Sutton to be the reader of the audiobook for ‘The Keeper of Traken’ Target novelization when it comes out. She has a beautiful voice and is a very good narrator, as it was proved in the audiobook for ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization. Whether she’ll do it, I don’t know. I hope she’ll say “Yes!” 😀
‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’ rating – 9/10
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