Hornets' Nest

Chinn Here, Here, Here,

I would like to recommend the 5 disc series 'The Hornets' Nest' to any Doctor Who fans out there. After a slightly shaky start this has developed into a wonderful series.

For those who don't already know, Tom Baker reprises his role as the Doctor for the first time since (say it very quietly) Dimensions In Time in 1993. However, to be fair, he has kept his hand in (Ooo Err) by reading Who novelizations and participating in several DVD commentaries.

The series is written by one of my favorite authors, Paul Magrs. Famous for inventing Iris Wildthyme and writer of many off beat and amusing novels.

Episode 1 The Stuff Of Nightmares sets the scene. The Doctor is living in the present day and is about the same age as he was during the TV series. He resides at Nest Cottage, which is crowded with stuffed animals that turn vicious at night. It transpires that they are controlled by tiny hornets which live inside them. Richard Franklin is Mike Yates who arrives after receiving a mysterious invitation. Mrs Wibsey the housekeeper looks on sourly.

The problem with episode 1 is that there is far too much narration. It is still an entertaining yarn as the story is a strong one and the dialogue is excellent. Another problem is that Tom's delivery is a little stilted at times.

Episode 2 The Dead Shoes sees the Doctor take a short hop back in time to a Bagpuss like shop in Cromer. It becomes apparent that the titular Hornets' are going to be formidable foes. This is a charming story dripping with atmosphere.There are still large chunks of narration but this feels much more like an audio play.

Episode 3 The Circus Of Doom is set in 1832. I found this story to be one of the strongest in the series. It certainly has a very creepy moment which sent a shiver down my spine. Tom has really got into his stride now and he seems to be loving every minute of it.

Episode 4 A Sting In The Tale takes place in an abbey 1000 years ago. Besieged by wild dogs. This story explains how the Doctors fate became linked with the Hornets'. In this episode the Hornet Queen played by Rula Lenska (Star of Tachyon TV) comes to the fore with an excellent icy performance.

Episode 5 Hive Of Horor in which Mike finally comes to centre stage. The Doctor, Mike and Wibsy shrink in size and go deep into the Hornets' layer. Would anyone be surprised to find that the layer is on the pelt of a stuffed Zebra? A very satisfying last story which wraps up a very enjoyable series.

I would also like to draw the your attention to some fantastic artwork. Not only do we get lovely covers but there are some wonderful spoof articles and radio times listings. The whole package is very colourful, has been lovingly put together and is not at all higgledy piggledy.

As the Doctor would say, Mmmmm