Doctor WhoMusic/Audio

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Suburban Hell by Alan Barnes (CD review).

Listeners of a certain age will quickly catch on to the inspiration behind ‘Suburban Hell’ but the premise and inspiration are one thing and the slick transference into science fantasy quite another.

Hell really is other people and truly this is the dinner party of and from Hell. Belinda (Katie Wix) has run out of mayonnaise for the starter and her husband Ralph (Raymond Coulthard) has failed to find any in the shops. ‘Greek yoghurt! It’s not even proper yoghurt!


Luckily, her ever reliable neighbour, Thelma (Annette Badland), will, of course, bring some when she comes for dinner. The couple are expecting more guests and both mistake the Doctor and Leela for them, each assuming the other had invited them.

There is something in the air and it’s not the smell of burnt beef bourguignon. Time is having issues with itself and the TARDIS has made a swift exit leaving the Doctor and Leela without a ride. They must solve the mystery and avoid the prawn cocktail before time and something worse taps on the door in this part of Suburban Hell.

This is an absolutely taps the 70s with a pointy stick. It is a fantastic and often hilarious play on our expectations of not only social mores but Science Fiction. I’m imagining Beverly, sorry Belinda, in her towering platform shoes dominating her husband and guests with a Demis Roussos record even as I type this. Elements of the Doctor and his particular skills at bodging are used here and Leela’s experience of dinner parties is added to again. Has she not suffered enough? A deal of comedy is to be had as we are continually misdirected about what is actually happening. I don’t really feel scared in the same way about these plots, maybe I’m too old for that. I do like the idea that we are teased about the nature of humans and who exactly is the monster in this story. Besides it really hits the spot. ‘Ice and a slice?’

Alan Barnes has picked up on some very relevant social history here as we once again explore what the 1970s gave us. Interesting also that this is effectively Tom Baker’s era as ‘Doctor Who’ and really on a Saturday night these people should be huddled round the TV watching ‘Doctor Who’ and not decanting prawns and avocados.

Sue Davies

June 2015

(pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minute story. Price: CD: £10.99 (UK), Download: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-350-4)

cast: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Annette Badland, Katy Wix, Alix Dunmore, Raymond Coulthard and David Ricardo-Pearce

check out website: www.bigfinish.com

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