‘The Horror of Glam Rock’
Written by Paul Magrs, directed by Barnaby Edwards
Transmitted 14 January 2007
The Doctor is anxious to be rid of his unwelcome traveling companion, Lucie Miller. This leads the TARDIS to a motorway diner outside London 1974. The soon-to-be-famous brother and sister duo The Tomorrow Twins, find themselves stuck on their way to celebrity status on Top of the Pops, and a menace from beyond the stars is hunting them, killing any that get in its path. The Doctor is bemused and intrigued by the Stylophone Tommy Tomorrow obsessively plays in his lament to the cosmic creatures of his imagination, but Lucie is more interested in the counter worker Pat, whom she knows better as her aunt in the near future.
The Horror of Glam Rock is a love/hate story that once more utilizes the strengths of the Graham Williams era of the TV program; absurdity, humor and drama. Paul Magrs, who previously composed new adventures for Tom Baker’s Doctor on BBC Audio in addition to working on the Iris Wildthyme adventures and many more, brings a rich character to the Eighth Doctor that (in my opinion) had been lacking after his first audio series. I am a fan of Magrs signature style and of Bowie, T Rex and Roxy Music, so The Horror of Glam Rock is perfection for my ears. The long-haired and velvet-jacketed Doctor also fits right into the era. Even the manager of the Tomorrow Twins, Arnold Korns (a reference to Bowie’s pre-Ziggy persona) takes the Doctor as a rival glam rocker.
Once more the audio series echoes the BBC Wales TV series by placing the focus on the companion and having her meet her family in the past. Amusingly, there is no universe-shaking contradiction at stake if Pat believes her future niece. The story shrugs off the significance yet it retains a kind of touching humanity as Lucie mistakenly states her aunt is no one in the future… just Auntie Pat. In spite of this, Pat, formerly drummer for Methylated Spirits, proves Lucie wrong by showing she may not be an integral cog in the matters of the universe, but that doesn’t stop her from being a brave, resourceful and wonderful person.
The story is a rather standard ‘base under siege’ affair as the Doctor, twins and the rest attempt to not only survive the attack from the monsters outside but also unravel their mystery, but often the simpler plot ideas are the best as they leave room for character development and strong dialog. Luckily this story has both qualities in healthy doses. The guest cast are entertaining with Bernard Cribbins as Korns especially full of great moments. I also quite liked the solution involving the Stylophone (since I am a fan of the instrument and it ties into the music-heavy subject matter) and the revelation of ‘the Only Ones’ as being desperate under-handed aliens looking for a quick meal. The Only Ones exist in two versions, a base monstrous creature and an ethereal one that appeals to Tommy’s sensibilities. Using the music of the Stylophone, the Only Ones seek to merge the two and become whole then feast of the teenage fans of the Tomorrow Twins.
It’s a crass notion, but it works, especially given the theme of glam itself that is both visceral and cosmic. Magrs really penned a winner here and it is so weird that it becomes instantly iconic of this new Eighth Doctor era. After so much drudgery in the Divergent Universe adventures, it is delightful to see so much variety in this series once more.
When he arrived, Paul McGann was welcomed by all as the ideal man for the job as a new generation’s Doctor Who. His reign was of course cut short and even though comics and novels took up the mantle, he has found new life in the audio format. This revival of the Eighth Doctor is great fun, so much so that you can almost see it in the mind’s eye as a televised reality.
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