This year, before we get Series 11, I’m going back in time thanks to Big Finish, to review the Eighth Doctor Adventures, following the story of (unsurprisingly) the Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller. Today, I’ll be reviewing Horror of Glam Rock by Paul Magrs.
The Doctor and Lucie go glam when the TARDIS makes an unexpected landing in 1974. Slade, The Sweet and Suzi Quatro are Top of the Pops – and brother-and-sister duo The Tomorrow Twins will soon be joining them, if the starmaking Svengali Arnold Korns has his way. But will their dreams turn to dust at a service station somewhere on the M62, besieged by a pack of alien monsters?
After the high stakes on Red Rocket Rising for the Doctor and new, reluctant companion, Lucie, it seems only fair that we mellow out slightly. If you’ve just dealt with two strains of Daleks, you’d probably want something slightly more chill, a kind of pallet cleanser. Plus, if it’s a story written by Paul Magrs, you know things aren’t going to be at their most serious.
It appears I was right. There’s not many Doctor Who stories that pretty much kick off with a distasteful glam rock song, that’s trying it’s best to emulate Bowie, and failing. Oh, and Bernard Cribbins (pre-Wilf days) is there too. Because of course he is. That’s the beauty of a Magrs penned story; anything that can happen, probably will. Cribbins plays Arnold Korns, the manager of the up and coming band The Tomorrow Twins. He knows how to treat his talent too; go to a service station and have sausage and chips.
Once the Doctor and Lucie materialise in 1974, the closest that the TARDIS will allow the Doctor to land to Lucie’s time, they quickly discover the body of a glam rocker. It seems something sinister is afoot…
So, as well as Bernard Cribbins, there’s also Una Stubbs; Mrs. Hudson herself. Stubbs plays Flo, a woman who works at the service station cafe. And there’s a power cut. Typical 70’s. Flo is easily my favourite character in the Eighth Doctor Adventures so far; she’s cynical, brutally honest, and best of all, has Una Stubbs’ voice. Then, just as you begin to fall in love with Flo, her shift ends and she’s seemingly gone forever.
Luckily for me, and unluckily for Flo, there’s a great beastie outside that stops her from being able to drive off. More Flo for me, I’m a happy reviewer.
The main mystery of the story, apart from the imminent threat, regards Tommy Tomorrow, the male member of The Tomorrow Twins, he believes that men from space talk to him and he communicates with them through his stylophone. Typical glam rocker; always has to be a gimmick. But, it’s not a gimmick. Somebody or something is seemingly communicating with Tommy through his stylophone. I told you Paul Magrs writes absurdist Doctor Who stories.
What I really enjoy is the every growing relationship between the Doctor and Lucie; it doesn’t seem as if the events of Blood of The Daleks were too long ago, but having these little moments between the Doctor and Lucie where they can talk and be honest with one another really helps the listener connect with them as a team; it’s almost like watching your child grow up. I assume, anyway. I’m only 21 and I’m nowhere near the stage of having a child. I don’t need one, I have the Doctor and Lucie.
The final act of Horror of Glam Rock is extremely busy, with lots of things going on at once; all it’s all based around Tommy Tomorrow and his stylophone. It seems as if his stylophone was a way of communicating with an alien race known as The Only Ones, who claimed that they’re the only other beings in the universe. As we know, that’s a load of hogwash.
The great thing about Paul Magrs’ scripts is that any time you’re expecting something grim or gruesome, you’ll probably get the opposite; and likewise, when you’re expecting something lighthearted, he has no problem tricking you too.
Overall, Horror of Glam Rock is a great romp of a story that is lighthearted yet dark, fun yet emotional, brilliant yet farcical. After a heavy-hitting story like Blood of The Daleks, Horror of Glam Rock is exactly what we need. Why shouldn’t the Doctor have seemingly inconsequential fun once in a while? I’m sure if I were to listen to this release again and again, there are little plot holes that would niggle me, things that don’t add up; but I know that would ruin the fun and the intent of the tale. And I for one, enjoy silliness and fun once in a while.
Should you want to purchase Horror of Glam Rock, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £8.99 for the download, or £10.99 for the CD.