REVIEW: BBC Audio Books: Doctor Who: Demon Quest 2L The Demon of Paris, £5.79 from

The street girls are going missing; gruesome crimes are being committed; artworks by the great Toulouse-Lautrec have been defaced, and the great painter has himself gone AWOL.

All is not well in late 19th century Paris, and Doctor Who - voiced by the great Tom Baker - rightly suspects an alien hand at work in this colourful, amusing and enjoyable adventure.

Written by the novelist Paul Magrs, The Demon of Paris rapidly evokes a lost world and plunges the Doctor and his housekeeper into the seedy heart of it - a world of fear running out of control.

Nothing much fazes the Doctor, and unless you’re a total Doctor Who aficionado, you might just sense a little bit of a let-down at the denouement which is thoroughly left-of-centre alien stuff when a more human resolution might have been more satisfactory.

But it’s still an impressive tale, rich in detail and rich in the cast of characters it creates, from the maligned master artist to the terrified street girl, Watch out too for the concierge who’s definitely rather more than she seems.

It romps along at a lively pace and bows out in style - a rich addition to the great Doctor Who cannon.

Phil Hewitt

REVIEW: BBC Audio Books: Doctor Who: The Runaway Train, £6.25 from

This time the good Doctor is back in the Civil War America for a rollicking adventure which all but runs away from him - a race against time in which the future of the whole planet is at stake.

An alien artefact has fallen into the clutches of the Confederate Army, and when the Doctor pinches it, not surprisingly, the Confederates set off in hot pursuit, intent on getting it back even though they haven’t got the foggiest idea what it is.

What they can’t possibly appreciate is that their efforts at retrieval are putting the whole world in jeopardy.

The Doctor knows what he’s doing; and he knows that the artefact is a ticking bomb which will effectively end our atmosphere, turning it into a hostile environment in which we will all drown - precisely the environment which a threatening bunch of aliens need if they are to claim our planet for their own.

It’s a race against time, a race all the more furious for the fact that the Doctor and assorted ne’er-do-wells end up on a runaway train. Will the Confederate posse get them before the aliens do, or will we all just get blown up anyway?

It’s breathless stuff, the full excitement excellently captured in a bravura solo performance by Matt Smith who breathes life into a whole host of characters.

Phil Hewitt

REVIEW: BBC Audio Books: The Best of Vintage Archers, £8.99 from

Ah, where would we be without The Archers, one of the great constants of the last and now the present century?

The huge skill behind the series has been the way that it has somehow always managed to remain recognisably The Archers all the while bending with the times to remain relevant to whichever decade we happen to be in.

And that’s something beautifully demonstrated through this vintage Archers collection, a delicious trawl through the archives.

For many, the pleasure will be in the recognition as lost voices and great moments are brought back to life.

For the younger fans, the pleasure will be in the discovery of antecedents.

This release looks back to the early lives of some favourite Archers characters from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Among the featured characters are Phil and Grace Archer (including the stable fire that caused Grace’s death), Phil and Jill Archer, Tony and Pat Archer, and Brian and Jennifer Aldridge - great names all.

And there is huge satisfaction to go back with them to a very different world - and yet a world which remains quintessentially and reassuringly Archers.

Phil Hewitt

REVIEW: BBC Audio Books: Doctor Who: Genesis Of The Daleks (Vintage Beeb), £4.19 from

Now here’s a treat for all those who suspect that the current Doctor Who style is perhaps just a little bit slick and a little bit lacking in the great spirit which marked its earlier incarnations.

These days it’s a no-expense-spared spectacle, visually impressive and certainly gripping. But somehow it makes you hanker for the Doctor’s more innocent days.

The perfect reason to invest in this CD - a fascimile CD reissue of the original 1979 LP, starring Tom Baker as the Doctor.

In an exciting narrated soundtrack, taken from the TV serial of the same name, the Doctor, Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter) face the crazed scientist Davros (Michael Wisher) and his fledgling army of Daleks. Their mission is to prevent the Daleks’ development - but will it succeed?

This release features a vinyl-look CD, plus original artwork and sleeve notes.

OK, so it’s not quite the same as holding the vinyl in your hands, but it’s richly evocative all the same. Everyone is going to have their own favourite phase of the great Doctor’s remarkable career, and for most people it will be the one they grew up with.

And that makes this recording all the more special. Shut your eyes and you are back there. Great stuff!

Phil Hewitt