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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Doctor Who Script Books


The Masters of Luxor
The Daemons

It is nice to see the Doctor Who script books back again after a long absence, and especially good to see that editor John McElroy is not restricting the range to stories which have been televised.

The Masters of Luxor is a particularly worthy story to choose, simply because not every nuance is known about it. It was written by Anthony Coburn back in 1963, after his first story, '100,000 BC', had been accepted. After completing the six scripts which comprised The Masters of Luxor it was dropped by Verity Lambert and David Whitaker in favour of a different script by Terry Nation, entitled 'The Mutants' (aka 'The Daleks'). The rest, as they say, is history.

The Masters of Luxor is very good. All four of the regular characters are well represented, and the story, whilst reminiscent of Nation's, has many differences. The TARDIS is drawn to a planet where it is immobilised by its power being drained by a seemingly deserted city. The travellers enter the city to find immobile robots which they activate to find out what has been happening. The robots are ruled by the 'Perfect One', a more advanced and more humanoid robot which intends to drain the life from Susan and Barbara to give itself total power. The Doctor and Ian escape from the city and find a survivor from the race which built the robots. This turns out to be the man who built the Perfect One in the first place, and with his help they rescue Susan and Barbara and escape from the city before a bomb linked with the Perfect One's mind explodes, destroying everything.

There are no technical notes appended, presumably because John did not see the point as the story was not made, but he does explain how and why he has altered the script from the original. This is still the one aspect of these books which makes them useless as a true source of reference. In the case of The Masters of Luxor, it is not possible to re-write all the stage notes and dialogue as there is no visual programme to match it to, but in the other books, the dialogue and descriptions are true to what was seen on television and not to what was in the original scripts. When we can go out a buy a video of, say, 'The Daleks' or 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang', there seems little point in releasing a book which reproduces, to the letter, what we can see on screen.

The Daemons therefore is a good reproduction of the televised adventure, even down to the backwards 'Mary had a little lamb' incantation to summon Azal.

The technical notes, this time provided by Stephen James Walker, are interesting, giving an overall background to the story, from its origins as a rehearsal piece used for auditioning for a replacement for Liz Shaw to its final recording and transmission.

Both the covers on these new books are by Alister Pearson, and while The Masters of Luxor is slightly disappointing with a peculiar choice of colours, The Daemons is truly magnificent.

David J Howe