The Doctor, Peri and Erimem arrive in Tibet in 1917, just in time for a cricket match the Doctor intends to take part in. But he’s soon bowled over by evidence of a great evil at work – a man from a lost expedition appears and kisses Erimem’s hand, and later she is engulfed by a black storm cloud that seems to be able to think for itself. Before the Doctor can reach her, Erimem is snatched away by the cloud, which then vanishes. The same cloud had been spotted earlier on photos of the Himalayans, and had been dismissed, but now the Doctor is racing against time to find out what kind of menace is being dealt with. It may threaten all of Earth, and the Doctor may have to choose between saving humanity or saving his friend.
Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Caroline Morris (Erimem), Edward de Souza (Lord Mortimer Davey), William Franklyn (Pharaoh Amenhotep II), Sylvester Morand (General Alexander Bruce), Alan Cox (John Matthews)
Notes: William Franklyn took over the role of the voice of the Guide from the late Peter Jones in the new 2004 radio series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Writer Adrian Rigelsford also penned In The Dark Dimension, a planned multi-Doctor direct-to-video adventure intended to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the series which ultimately died in the pre-production stage; he has also written nonfiction books about the series.
Timeline: after The Axis Of Insanity and before Three’s A Crowd
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: An interesting story that makes the most of the increasingly-overused SF staple of “regular cast member taken over by an alien intelligence,” Roof Of The World redeems itself with some fine character moments for the three regulars, some excellent guest character performances, and a little bit of background on Erimem’s family. The regulars turn in some of their best performances to date, really pointing up the interesting dynamic of this particular TARDIS team-up, and they even get to double up as darker versions of themselves, as projected by the alien entity which still remains nameless and faceless at the end of episode 4.
Perhaps the real meat, however, is set up on nice shiny plates for the guest cast. The dynamics between them are set up very early on, and the guest cast goes for the gusto and succeeds. They make Roof a real joy to listen to. Also, listen carefully in episode 4 for what may be Doctor Who’s first-ever homage to Ghostbusters – I found that rather amusing.
On the flipside, since this time last year, we’ve had Zagreus, The Natural History Of Fear, The Twilight Kingdom and Faith Stealer, all of which incorporate mental possession in some form or other – that’s so often, you’d think this was Star Trek: The Next Generation, not Doctor Who. I suppose it’s cropped up so much of late because, as the producers of the aforementioned Trek spinoff discovered, possession stories are an easy way to ramp up the drama and conflict without ramping up the number of (expensive) speaking parts in the cast, because any “new” characters are played by the existing cast. It also gives the cast a chance to stretch their muscles a bit. That’s all fine and well, but mental possession was a rarity in TV Who. It’s become an every-other-month occurrence in audio Who. Maybe it isn’t apparent in the long-term planning, or with a dozen or so story writers involved, but it’s been a bit of a frequent-flyer story element lately, and it could use a rest.