The Doctor and Mel arrive at Spaceport Tantane, which appears at first to be abandoned. They quickly find that it’s anything but: the space station is now occupied by descendants of its original crew and passengers, now divided into tribes based on starliner seating classes. The Business and Economy tribes are locked in a barely-civilized conflict, but for the moment a common enemy has them distracted, a deadly beast lurking within the bowels of the station. Both tribes are led by the gentle guidance of Elder Bones, who claims to be over 400 years old; each tribe is oblivious to the fact that their leader is also their enemies’ leader. But of course, the new arrivals from the TARDIS provide a convenient new focus for everyone’s suspicions, and suddenly the Doctor and Mel are public enemies number one and two.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Ronald Pickup (Elder Bones), Isabel Fay (Naysmith), Gwilym Lee (Pretty Swanson), Beth Chalmers (Galpan / Beauty Swanson), Adrian MacKinder (Rogers / Game Voice), John Banks (Wailers / Announcement / Mad Passenger)
Timeline: after The Vanity Box and before The Seeds Of War
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Spaceport Fear is, on its own merits, a tense and sometimes bewildering variation on that most adaptable and affordable of Doctor Who themes, the base under siege. Unfortunately, that’s not the only Doctor Who trope appropriated by this story. The hostilities between Business and Economy feel an awful lot like the tensions between the Caretakers, Rezzies and Kangs in Paradise Towers, while the “seemingly abandoned space station that isn’t quite abandoned” setting is another old favorite (The Ark In Space, The Two Doctors, Delta And The Bannermen, to name but a few). So much “formula Doctor Who” is thrown into the blender here that it’s hard not to notice the source material and compare.
Fortunately, the cast brings solid performances to bear on things, and that much makes it an engrossing listen. There is a neat story twist in the discovery of the nature of the beast lurking in the spaceport’s lower levels, and there are other elements that are amusing (the Doctor and Melanie repeatedly having to play wi-fi-enabled handheld video games for the sole purpose of sending each other messages via the high score leaderboard). Spaceport Fear is enjoyable enough if you can ignore how uncannily familiar an awful lot of it seems.