Doctor Who Audio Book Review: #4 – Whispers of Terror

Written by: Justin Richards

Directed by: Gary Russell

Featuring: Sixth Doctor and Peri

Released: November 1999


The Doctor and Peri find themselves in the Museum of Aural Antiquities, where every sound is stored for posterity – from the speeches of Visteen Krane to security service wire taps and interrogation tapes. But they also find an intruder, mysteriously changed recordings, and a dead body.

Before long The Doctor realises that there is more going on than a simple break-in or murder. How can he defeat a creature that is made of pure sound?

An original and ingenious premise makes this Doctor Who audio adventure a good listen, and has wetted my appetite for future stories.

Plaudits firstly should go to the concept. The idea that the Museum is plagued by a creature made of sound is perfect when made for an audio book. The eerie, yet terrifying build in pitch and volume of unknown voices, followed by silence and a character screaming, definitely allows for some decent creepy moments. The plot isn’t the fastest, but it manages to avoid being repetitive by throwing in multiple twists, a couple of which I don’t see coming but make sense with regard to the storylines.

This is still the first year of Big Finish making audio adventures for Doctor Who, so I would have been extremely surprised if everything works. For a “Museum of Aural Antiquities” (another great idea considering this is an audio book), the setting does feel a bit underdeveloped. There is a storyline about an actor trying to become President, yet it isn’t stated what year, country or planet this takes place in. The Museum itself, bar a couple of remarks on long corridors and rooms containing shelves, doesn’t create enough of an image to stick in my mind. On the other hand, the comeuppance of the antagonist feels a bit too gleefully drawn out by the audio team.

I have to admit that, as a Whovian, I haven’t watched much of the Colin Baker era at all, bar a couple of clips on the BBC website. Listening to this, he reminds me of a younger William Hartnell, popping up in his alien way to state the ridiculousness in side character’s motivations and personalities, only to be exasperated by his American companion on how she says goodbye. The Doctor and companion definitely have chemistry, but the true focus is on guest characters. Most of these (Lisa Bowerman in particular) do very well to create memorable individuals with quirks that you can notice from only a couple of scenes with them. Others do fade into the background or into cliches, but the strong performances outweigh the good in this.

This is the fourth Doctor Who Big Finish audio adventure I have listened to and I believe that the stories are best when they fully embrace the mode of an audio book. The ingenious use of a sound monster and an audio museum playing speeches of an actor/politician is as successful as the use of politicians and a Talk Show to bring The Fearmonger to life. The other two faded from my memory because they felt like books being read aloud by actors, rather than a separate experience from books and television.

With solid performances from the cast, a very good premise that plays well on the medium of an audio book and some creepy moments, Whispers of Terror managed to stick in my mind as one of the better audio books I have listened to in the series so far. As a result, I purchased the next few in this series, so stay tuned and subscribe to my blog to be notified on when I post these!

Check out Doctor Who: Whispers of Terror from Big Finish.

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