Doctor WhoMusic/Audio

Doctor Who: The Gunfighters by Donald Cotton (CD review).

Get the spittoon at the ready, for this rather wonderful audio of ‘The Gunfighters’, a First Doctor TV story from 1963 is not only a gem, it’s a phlegm-athon (I think I might coin that word). Shane Rimmer gives his all as he tell the story of the Gunfight At The OK Corral as seen through the eyes of Doc Holliday and novelised by Donald Cotton who has attacked his own screenplay adaptation with certain amount of relish.


‘The Gunfighters’ was an early story for the First Doctor with companions space pilot Steven and Sixties girl, Dodo. A raging toothache drives the Doctor to seek out medical care. For some reason, he considers 19th century American west a fine place to go. As the Doctor rather ruefully comments, he has forgotten to pack the basic Aspirin. I like to think that this remain the drug of choice for the Time Lords, even after all the other upstarts like ibuprofen. Needless to say, the Doctor is not the best patient. Despite being a very intelligent man, he totally fails to notice that his dentist is the notorious gunslinger Doc Holliday and that the town of Tombstone is not a good place for longevity…and it’s days away from the Gunfight At The OK Corral.

While the Doctor and his companions encounter Marshalls Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp, the Clanton brothers are planning revenge on Doc Holliday. When the Clanton brother finally come to town, they find a Doctor, a floozy and a singer. All three of these are not what they seem and as such much confusion ensues.

This tale of two Doctors is framed within the memories of Doc Holliday, told to a tabloid hack through several bottles of hooch, we get everything, even the events he didn’t take part in. You tend to forget this rather obvious point when listening to it and go with the flow. Shane Rimmer was part of the original cast of the TV series, playing the unfortunate Seth Harper, who get’s in the way of the real Doc. This might be called Revenge of the Seth as Rimmer has outlived most of his co-stars and he really gets his teeth and gums into this re-telling.

I really enjoyed this and although the story within the TV series is not considered one of the best, the novelisation was made novel by its approach and although the opening preamble with Doc Holliday and the journalist might be considered a little long, it does get us in the mood and give us the flavour of the old West. As this story is one of the historical stories, the only taste we get of any of the bells and whistles of Science Fiction is the departure of the TARDIS at the end.

As in the TV series, this novel follows the fictionalised and Hollywood version of the old West but, more importantly, than that it entertains and amuses and breathes more life into an old myth, The Doctor. Accept no substitutes.

Sue Davies

February 2013

(pub: Audio Go/BBC. 2 CD 120 minute story. Price: CD: £ 8.61 (UK), Download: £ 2.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-144582-948-7)
reader: Shane Rimmer
check out website: www.audiogo.co.uk

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