The Ghosts of N-Space

BBC Audio Drama - Special Release

Broadcast weekly from January 20, 1996 through February 24, 1996 in six episodes. Was Sarah Jane Smith always this whiney and helpless in the face of danger? Okay, Jeremy’s absolutely annoying and a whole lot of boring, like the kids who are annoying and ask a lot of questions and whine a lot. The Brigadiere is the authority figure, supporting the Doctor and keeping things in order, as usual. And it’s amazing that the Doctor can tell things are N-Space creatures right away. This is a really, really long audio drama in all. Mostly it follows a predictable path but I get really bored while Sarah’s screaming and carrying on. I thought she was stronger than that but perhaps I’m remembering wrong.

Max Vilmio is definitely a rather twisted guy, who thinks he understands what hell is but he really has tapped into N-space and its despair. When ghosts can’t let go, they wander in this null, purgatory place until they can move on or are eaten by a creature in there, in an attempt to attain a personality. Doesn’t sound like a nice place to be at all! And as soon as the Doctor and Sarah wander in, you know there’s bound to be trouble for Sarah there that the Doctor will have to rescue her from. She and the Doctor do look out for each other but ultimately, it’s Max’s own ego that is his downfall. He’s set up for that all the way, though, as he has lived for a very long time and gotten that godfather type of persona to his personality—I’ve got the money and the power to take what I want from you.

And as usual, the Doctor figures out how to stop him almost too late. He constantly is giving his companions a scare by not telling them things but Jeremy tends to whine at him (with Sarah only two steps behind him) to find out the answers. Mostly I just hate the whining way that Jeremy and Sarah communicate. I really hope that Sarah wasn’t this bad on the TV show! I don’t remember that but it could be worse—she could be complaining all the time! Tegan anyone? Sometimes I can really get a feel for how the Doctor’s companions must feel as they move around the universe, experiencing turmoil aplenty. Return to the Web Planet really gives that feeling as they decide to hang out after the danger has passed. They choose to enjoy the landscape and people of the planet after they help save them. That stability isn’t something they usually enjoy.

Synchronicity. Serendipity. The Doctor has all kinds of rational explanations for everything that happens. I like that in this Doctor as he is a scientist through-and-through. Though his frock coat could use an update… Not the best dresser of the bunch! The acting is well done throughout the audio though I think there should be some still images to accompany the audio—that would be very nice on my iPod. Give me a better idea than the vague “thing with tentacles” that Jeremy tries to describe. I can imagine all kinds of things with tentacles but what kind of tentacles? Skinny ones? Fat ones? Octopus-type of tentacles? And though it’s totally Sarah’s fault that the ghosts escape N-space in the end, it’s not really a big deal either. The defeat of the villain comes shortly after that, sealing up the gap and winding up the audio neatly. Why they don’t deal with this N-space thing ever before or later I’m not sure. It has potential but perhaps the real aliens are better suited, with the rubber suits.

John Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen, and Nicholas Courtney

writer: Barry Letts

director: Phil Clarke

Release: 1994

Laura Vilensky 2019