Lords of the Red Planet is a Doctor Who audio play from Big Finish Productions and is an episode from The Lost Stories. The original story idea was conceived by Brian Hayles for the television series during Patrick Troughton’s era. John Dorney adapted this long buried work for the audio. Lisa Bowerman is once again in the director’s chair or booth. Frazer Hines reprises his role of Jamie McCrimmon as well as serving as co-narrator and filling in as the Second Doctor for the long deceased Patrick Troughton. Wendy Padbury performs alongside as Zoe Herriot and as another narrator. The guest cast has some telling family connections with Michael Troughton, the son of the aforementioned Patick, and Charlie Hayes, who is the daughter of Wendy Padbury. Abigail Thaw and Nicholas Briggs round out the cast. Abigail Thaw, as a matter of interest, is the daughter of John Thaw, who was best known playing one Inspector Morse.
The story revolves around the origins of the Ice Warriors. those well known denizens of the planet Mars, in Doctor Who canon anyway. The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe arrive when genetic experiments are taking place. Thaw is quite chilling as the ambitious Zaadur who is trying to breed a new species of warriors. Briggs hisses his way through another turn as various Ice Warriors. Once again, the cast appears to be well-considered.
I actually rather like the Ice Warriors because they are one of the few adversaries who weren’t always at odds with the Doctor. They were one of those alien species with a complex sense of honor, and there were occasionally individuals that cropped up in their stories who were often allied with the Doctor. Having them originated on Mars seems pretty campy, but other than that, I have come to appreciate them more over the years.
Dorney is a talented enough writer, and the performances were compelling. The criticism of this one is that it’s a six part story, and I am not sure that was really necessary. As much as I love the series, the longer tales really do tend to drag, and this one unfortunately had those moments.
It has an interesting premise and a talented cast, but it could have been served better with a bit more brevity.