Doctor Who – Hornets’ Nest

For some reason or another, I’ve never found the time or the motivation to start listening to the ever-growing range of Doctor Who audio dramas. There are a huge range, with new stories starring several of the previous TV Doctors and their companions, and they are reportedly very good. But there are now so many, that I wouldn’t be sure where to start…

But in addition to the licensed dramas from Big Finish, there’s a new series from the BBC, which caught my attention. These aren’t full-cast dramas, not stories read by a single voice, but something in the middle – multi-voice stories, so to speak. When I heard that Tom Baker had been lured back to make a new series of stories, I had to check it out. I bought the first couple of monthly CD episodes quite a while ago, but only recently got round to listening to them. And immediately got the remaining three, and listened to them as soon as I could.

Anyway, it all starts with retired UNIT Captain Mike Yates[1] responding to a job advertisement that seems very precisely aimed at him. He arrives at a cottage, where a suitably odd housekeeper treats him with extreme suspicion before presenting him to the Doctor. There’s hardly any time for reminiscence before Weird Stuff begins to happen, with a strange collection of stuffed animals attacking.

And so it begins. Each CD is a self-contained story, with the Doctor telling Mike about one of his encounters with some rather nasty alien hornets who have the power to take over any living (and for that matter, non-living) form. As the Doctor works backwards in time, meeting the hornets in different times and places, he learns more about them, until we reach the final confrontation in our own time, with Mike and Mrs Wibbsey the housekeeper each having a role to play…

If you’re a fan of Tom Baker’s Doctor, you should give this series a try – and if you like it as much as I did, you’ll be pleased to know that a second series is coming soon.

Here are the details[2]:

Part 1: The Stuff of Nightmares

In which Mike arrives, stuffed animals attack, and the story begins…

Part 2: The Dead Shoes

In which the Doctor meets Mrs Wibbsey, a dancer borrows some used shoes and the hornets complain about the last time they met the Doctor, which hasn’t happened to him yet.

Part 3: Circus of Doom

In which a sinister circus has some secrets. And some shoes are encountered.

Part 4: Sting in the Tale

Dogs, nuns, and more hornets. And some snow.

Part 5: Hive of Horror

The Doctor is reminded of the time he (or to be precise a copy of him) was reduced and inserted into his own brain. Only it’s not his brain this time. The Queen of the Hornets is encountered.
There’s also a set of the complete series, but it seems to be cheaper to buy the separate episodes.

[1] Who only ever appeared in stories with the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee), before leaving the service after a slight misunderstanding involving an attempted coup and some dinosaurs loose in London. If memory serves, the original plan was for the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) to guest in these stories, but he couldn’t make it. Richard Franklin appeared instead, and a bit of dialogue was inserted to account for him recognising the Fourth Doctor.
[2] Note: if you’re using AdBlock, you won’t see the links to Amazon. Just go to amazon.co.uk and search for “Doctor Who Hornets Nest” and you’ll find them. Or set this site as an exception in AdBlock – amazon links are about as commercial as I get, so it’s mostly harmless.