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Doctor Who and the Robots of Death

4th Doctor Novelisation
Written by: Terrance Dicks
Narrated by: Louise Jameson
Length: 3 hrs and 24 mins

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Publisher's Summary

Louise Jameson reads this suspenseful novelisation of a Fourth Doctor adventure.

On a desert planet the giant sandminer crawls through the howling sandstorms, harvesting the valuable minerals in the sand. Inside, the humans relax in luxury while most of the work is done by the robots who serve them.

Then the Doctor and Leela arrive - and the mysterious deaths begin. First suspects, then hunted victims, Leela and the Doctor must find the hidden killer - or join the other victims of the Robots of Death.

Reader Louise Jameson played Leela in the BBC TV series.

©2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steve
  • 02-02-18

A classic story, a shame about the performance

The story itself is one of the true classics of the golden era of Doctor Who. Tom Baker in his pomp, Leela newly joining him on his travels and a strong story that keeps you entertained from start to finish.

The story itself, originally written by Chris Boucher, novelised by Terrance Dicks, is tightly woven and there is very little padding throughout. There are aspects that are a little better explained, such as the climax and why it worked but otherwise the story itself is intact.

Sadly, the only thing that lets the production down is Louise Jameson's performance of the voices. There are a few pronunciation issues such as with the name Taran Capel; pronounced to rhyme with apple in the audiobook but pronounced CAP-el on the show. Not a big problem but a distraction and immersion breaker. The clearest example of the poor characterisation by the performer was where the initial mineral analysis at the start of the story has Toos delivering the line, "... traces of lucanol" and Ivanov replies, "Ahhh, money in the bank". In the show, the actors put inflection into the delivery and showed they were delighted with the discovery. Louise Jameson delivers the lines as flat as a pancake. I'll be generous and say that she struggled interchanging human with the monotone robotic voices and thus lost track of the characters who were delivering the lines. Either way, it took something away from the performance.

I must admit, I'd have loved to have had Tom Baker reading this one but you can't have everything. It's well worth a listen but prepare yourself for a little disappointment.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris Thompson
  • 31-12-19

Uncle Terrance does it again!

Terrance Dicks was the master of Target’s Doctor Who novel range, and once again he proves it with this adaptation of Chris Boucher’s beloved serial from Season 14 with Tom Baker as the Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. Although Leela had her fans at the time, it’s often in hindsight that people have come to appreciate how brilliant Jameson was (and what a fine actress she’s become) - which is prominently on display here as she sinks her teeth into narrating this classic tale while adding new layers to her portrayal of Leela. Whether you want a stroll down memory lane, a pleasant distraction or to discover some nice tight writing, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

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  • joanne
  • 26-09-18

Robots of Death

A great story read with skill and passion by Louise. Very much enjoyed. loved it

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • S. Morris
  • 25-04-18

Future Echoes From The Past

My first experience of these BBC produced audio adaptations of the Terrance
Dicks novelizations of classic Doctor Who TV stories was the superb "The
Brain of Morbius". This was read by the equally superb Tom Baker who imbued
this story with such gravitas in my view. I was impressed with the writing
of Dicks and the translation to audio book complete with background effects
to add atmosphere and so went on to purchase anything I could in this range
read by Tom Baker.

Having seemingly gone through all available such adaptations read by Baker,
I went back to this genre some years later and recently came across some
additional stories that piqued my sense of nostalgia for that golden age of
gothic horror at that time. A classic I remember from my youth was the 1977
story "The Robots of Death" which I saw was now available and read by Louise
Jameson AKA Lela. In truth, I'd have preferred Tom Baker to have narrated
this but it seems he may have retired from doing this sort of work due to
his age which is understandable. In any case, I snapped up this short story
as I wanted to immerse myself back in that time and a story I was very
familiar with in order to bask in nostalgia once more.

Jameson does a good job of reading this book and delivers the lines of Lela
just as they were all those years ago. She, like Baker before her, have the
benefit of not having age change their voices unlike the barely recognizable
Gareth Thomas as Blake in the recent spate of Blake's 7 audio stories.

Suitable electronic effects are used to provide atmosphere and context to
the telling of this story and Jameson's voice is altered in exactly the same
way as was done back in 1977 to deliver the voices of the robots.

My only slight disappointment with Terrance Dicks' adaptation of this story
is the lack of finer detail or additional narrative to round out the story a
little more. I understand that adapting something already written to a book
format leaves little room for this but I cite the excellent intros to "the
Time Warrior" and the aforementioned "The brain of Morbius" where in the
latter we realize the struggle and indeed the name of the insect like alien
seen fleetingly in the television version.

Although "The Robots of Death" is a story of its time, it's interesting to
note how we are starting to become ever more weary of the rise of artificial
intelligence and so these types of stories are a mirror to our innate fears
of sophisticated artificial intelligences.

The story does have one or two inconsistencies it must be said and I seem to
have an ear for such things which is probably a bit sad. In one scene
commander Uvanov is facing off against the Doctor with a gun of some sort as
I recall and yet later on when the Doctor asks if there are any weapons
aboard , he is told that there isn't. I think in another scene we find robot
SV-7 about to murder Tousse but if memory serves, SV-7 becomes V-7. These
minor nitpicks aside, this is a well produced listen and will bring anyone
as old as me and can remember the TV episodes right back to that wonderful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Mark
  • 02-03-18

Mostly good

Would you consider the audio edition of Doctor Who and the Robots of Death to be better than the print version?

Chris Boucher is extremely good story teller he is very underrated and I wish he had written more stories. Terrance Dicks provides a workmanlike story as with his other novelisations. Wish Chris Boucher would rewrite like his follow on stories

Who was your favorite character and why?

Commander Uvanov - very likeable flawed character but not represented in the vocals of Louise

What aspect of Louise Jameson’s performance might you have changed?

Louise Jameson is undeniably an exceptionally gifted actress. You only have to watch her in Tenko to see this. But, as with other stories she has narrated - Horror of Fang Rock, something is missing. She does not transfer, like Elizabeth Sladen to narration - I am so sorry she is a very gd actress on the screen,

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Beware of Red Eyes

Any additional comments?

Its worth a listen

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  • Philip A Edney
  • 22-08-18

Reliable retelling

Robots of Death is one of the all time classics of Doctor Who. Terrence Dicks has done a faithful reproduction of it with some lovely description along the way.

Beautifully read by Louise Jameson - can she ever put a foot wrong? - it is a griping story.

Only slight annoyance is the mispronounciation of two names throughout the book which should have been picked up by the director. But for those who don’t know the broadcast version they won’t even notice.