First broadcast between January 1977 and February 1977, Rene Basilico’s radio production ‘Aliens In The Mind’ was created and rewritten from the discovery of an unused script by Doctor Who writer Robert Holmes.  The full-cast radio presentation was broadcast over a total of six episodes for BBC Radio 4. In July of 2006, the BBC released the entire radio production on a 3 CD set as part of their ‘Classic Radio Sci-fi’ series.

DLS Synopsis:
It had been a good three or four years since the brain surgeon, Doctor John Cornelius, had seen his American friend, the parapsychologist, Doctor Curtis Lark.  However it wasn’t a desire to meet up or to reminisce over the years gone by that had brought them into each other’s company again.  Instead it was the sad and tragic news that their friend and fellow academic, Doctor Hugh Dexter, had met his untimely death on the remote Scottish island of Luing.

The two doctors had duly made their way to Luing at once, finding the locals reported reasoning for their friend’s death far from convincing.  There was simply no way that Dexter would have fallen to his death off a cliff edge whilst under the influence of alcohol.  It wasn’t in his nature.  Furthermore, the autopsy reports showed no signs of alcohol in his system.  But it was the letter that Curtis had received that convinced the two doctors that something far more sinister was behind it all.  A letter from Dexter himself which had been written just two days before his death.  A letter written in code stating that he believed he was in grave danger.

Knowing that they owed it to the friend to fully investigate the circumstances behind his death, Cornelius and Lark begin looking for clues.  And it’s not long before the sharp-witted pair stumble across a series of pointers towards what is really taking place on Luing.

But what they find is far more unbelievable than they would ever have dreamed possible.  If they hadn’t seen the evidence for themselves, they never would have believed it.  For it has become clear that Luing is in the throws of giving birth to a new species capable of a powerful telepathy.  And they are nearly-impossible to detect – for they each look just as human as any other human being.

Furthermore, the island appears to be dominated by this new mutant race.  But most worrying of all is that it appears a second phase of the mutant breed is beginning to emerge.  Dubbed the ‘controllers’ this new strain are capable of manipulating the minds of the first-phase mutants.  By mere suggestion, they are able to control the mutants around them; sending them to do their deplorable bidding.

Worse still, it looks like the mutants have already started emigrating away from the island.  There is a very strong possibility that a stealthful plot is playing out at this very moment in time.  An alien plot for nothing less than world domination…

DLS Review:
The audiobook will obviously be of interest to fans of Doctor Who.  Indeed, Robert Holmes undoubtedly wrote it originally as a Doctor Who story.  However, through Rene Basilico’s reworking of the unused script outline, a gradually-escalating sci-fi/horror drama has been born.  One utilising two of the greatest horror actors of all time – Vincent Price and Peter Cushing.

Indeed, the characters of Curtis Lark and John Cornelius couldn’t have suited Price and Cushing better.  Price delvers an endlessly entertaining performance, with the American doctor coming off as colourful and whimsical, with a razor-sharp wit and intelligence to match.  Cushing similarly delivers a near-perfect performance, with the Doctor John Cornelius played as a thoughtful and equally intelligent English gentleman who works in perfect harmony with Price’s character.

It has to be said that the first episode in the six part series absolutely flies by, with revelation after revelation after discovery after unearthed discovery.  However, the audio presentation doesn’t manage to maintain such urgency, and instead begins to sag somewhat during the middle-to-late episodes, before the run-up to the dramatic finale.  During these plot-building chapters, conversation between the two doctors, and whatever other cast members are involved at the time, often feels that tad too elongated, without enough momentum behind the story to see the listener through the numerous quaintities of another charming social gathering bringing said characters together.

However, there is still enough gathering-tension working the cogs behind the story to keep the listener’s interest in what is occurring.  Furthermore, having been split into six separate episodes (with a quick recap preceding each one) the story as a whole is punctuated with enough drama at these set thirty-minute points to see the entire presentation through.

There’s a definite ‘Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers’ (1956) meets ‘The Nightmare Man’ (1981) meets ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’ (1957) vibe to the entire story.  Mix in a 1970’s style Hammer Horror/Amicus cast and some reasonably accomplished sound effects (other than the poor attempt at replicating the sound of gun shots that is) and you’ve got yourself a reasonably sure-fire audio presentation.  Further still, the slightly camp high-pitched-car-alarm-sound which is used to denote the commencement of the mutant’s telepathic signals can come across as a bit cheesy and dated; however for some, such a vibe which is reminiscent of a bygone sci-fi era and just adds to the overall appeal.

Okay, so on the whole the story is somewhat cautiously-paced, with the inclusion of perhaps just a tad too much meandering dialogue; but nevertheless ‘Aliens In The Mind’ still manages to keep the listener engaged and entertained throughout its six thirty-minute-long episodes.

The radio production runs for a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes, comprising of 6 episodes split over a total of 53 tracks on 3 CDs.

© DLS Reviews


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