Every now and again the BBC release an audiobook that takes us on a through the history of the series and how it triumphantly returned etc. This year it’s different, Doctor Who â€“ The Essential Companion is an audio episode guide which celebrate the highlights from the last 13 episodes.
On first listening this is a sort of “greatest hits” of Matt Smith’s first season, but listen again and you get to enjoy the witty dialogue and interplay between the two leads and gives Karen Gillan a chance to be more than just a mouth on legs. Split across two CDs we go on a lightening journey (well, 2 hours 40 minutes) selecting the essential moments of Season 5â€¦no sorry Series 31. A series about Amy and her imaginary friend, the destruction of everything and how the Doctor changed into one of his finest incarnations yet.
As we weave through each episode, Alex Priceâ€™s narration – which is very much in the style of Mark Gatiss – boldly builds up but never becomes intrusive to the soundtrack and action thatâ€™s being played out. Containing some nice moments of comedy it stops this release from just being a straight forward compendium of the seasonâ€™s greatest scenes. It also allows Murray Goldâ€™s score to be heard and appreciated more fully.
But itâ€™s the stories that shone and even in these cut-down editions they still work and get the pulse pounding, even the often debated Victory Of The Daleks and The Vampires Of Venice episodes. It also contains my favourite line, â€œI like your bowtie. Bowties are coolâ€, gets me every time. Talking of Vincent And The Doctor, this episode gains the most from this audio. You can hear the angst, the pain and the terror in Tony Curran’s interpretation of the famous artist. A benchmark performance for a supporting cast member in Doctor Who.
The biggest section concentrates on The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang double whammy. It does well in explaining how Rory came to be etc. and should be the first port of call if anyone didnâ€™t â€œget itâ€. Oh and what does this mean, â€œand silence will fallâ€?
This may not have â€œmust buyâ€ written all over it but itâ€™s a fun release, perfect to get you in the mood for the Christmas Day special.
Out now, you can find The Essential Companion on Amazon for just Â£8.39!