Monday, October 22, 2012
IN 1982, precocious boy mathematician Adric entered television history when he crashed to Earth in a time-lost space freighter, wiped out the dinosaurs and an invading army of Cybermen, and became one of the few Doctor Who companions to die.
Very few people mourned his departure, and the young actor who played the annoying brat, Matthew Waterhouse, quietly slipped into obscurity. He eventually began a slow return to the public eye with commentaries on various DVDs, before releasing his outspoken memoir Blue Box Boy in 2010, which offered a remarkably frank account of his time spent playing Adric alongside Tom Baker and Peter Davison’s Doctors.
Now he’s effectively back playing Adric 30 years later, reading this adaptation of pseudo-historical The Visitation by Eric Saward, as well as offering his unique impressions of fellow cast members including Janet (Tegan) Fielding, which needs to be heard to be believed.
A failed attempt to return Tegan home brings the TARDIS to the location of Heathrow Airport in 1666, where the time travellers discover a plot by alien fugitive Terileptils to release genetically-enhanced plague rats to wipe out the planet’s population, a scheme which neatly culminates in the Doctor starting the Great Fire of London…
Script editor Eric Saward avoids his usual tendency towards extreme violence to present an old school Who story which fuses historical fact with science-fiction in the best traditions of the show, with a definite companion-in-the-making in the form of highwayman and thespian Richard Mace (originally played by Michael Robbins).
On TV The Visitation was a fun romp with some lovely location work compensating for the men-in-rubber-suits look of the Terileptils, and this novelisation offers plenty of scope to expand upon the original story, an opportunity which Saward foolishly neglects to pursue, leaving us with little more than was seen on screen.
Waterhouse’s return to Who is long overdue, despite Adric’s unpopularity amongst fans, as he marks a period of transition between the reign of Tom Baker and the arrival of Davison, as well as offering a fresh voice to add to those actors already involved in various audio releases. Let’s hope we hear more from him soon.
As a footnote, this audio release features a newly commissioned painted cover to replace the bland photo of Peter Davison which adorned the original release, and kudos to AudioGo for making this happen.