Doctor Who Audio Book Review: #9 – The Spectre of Lanyon Moor

Written By: Nicholas Pegg
Featuring: Sixth Doctor and Evelyn
Release Date: June 2000

Publisher’s Summary:
In a desolate Cornish landscape littered with relics of prehistoric man, the Doctor and Evelyn uncover a catalogue of mysteries.

What is the secret of the fog? Can the moor be haunted by a demonic host of imps? And what is Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart doing in Pengriffen?

Teaming up with an old friend, the Doctor realises that an ancient conflict is nearing its conclusion – and Lanyon Moor is set to be the final battleground.

A great setting in the Cornish moors and the return of the brilliant Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier helps to make this darker audio book one of my favourite Big Finish stories so far.

“The Spectre of Lanyon Moor” is a thrilling yet highly detailed story from start to finish, from the opening minutes to the closing seconds. An alien being is left abandoned on Earth as he is torn apart by wild hounds. An archeological institute investigates strange readings up on the moors around an ancient burial mound. A mysterious laboratory does secret experiments on living creatures using the power of the alien creature. Every element has been thoughtfully linked together and utilised in a way that compliments the story’s setting of the Cornish moors. As someone who has explored Cornwall’s wild landscape, I feel like the audio book brought out this setting well, seemingly inspired by Hound of the Baskervilles. It really added to the flavour of this story, different from other Doctor Who audio books I have heard so far.

The story is not afraid to be brutally dark when it wants to be as well, a massive difference in tone from the previous Sixth Doctor/Evelyn adventure. The majority of the secondary cast have grey to pure evil motivations but it is still uncomfortable to see most of them face their makers in such graphic ways as being torn to shreds by dogs or a goblin-like creature with sharp teeth. There is also a particularly nasty scene when one character ties another to an operating table and begins the process of melting their eyes. With monsters on the moors and secret escapes from a manor, I feel like this compliments the Holmesian feeling of this story, but at the same time it does feel like a Doctor Who episode.

“The Spectre of Lanyon Moor” also sees the first appearance in the main Big Finish series of the late, great, Nicholas Courtney as the now retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. He brings all of the gravitas of the character onto an audio book and syncs well with Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor. Even in the climax and the closing moments of the story, listeners can tell that this is the same Brigadier they fell in love with on the small screen. Baker himself and Maggie Stables as the brilliant Dr. Evelyn Smythe are on great form in this story as well, suiting the rural setting as well as the historical mythical nature of the alien antagonist and the Holmesian feel. I think that the writers are thinking well with the stories they are giving Baker’s Doctor, whom I can see was woefully written for when the character was on TV. There are some great supporting actors as well, not least the brilliant James Bolam as Sir Archibald Flint.

This Doctor Who audio book is not afraid to be darker than most to compliment its wild setting and Holmesian narrative. In all it was a terrific story and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it throughout.


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