After nearly five years of marriage my long-suffering wife has stopped rolling her eyes when the postman delivers yet another package to our door. There’s every chance that the contents are completely useless, infinitely geeky and will soon be cluttering the already groaning shelves of my study.
Today’s arrival was a case in point. I was far more excited than a 36-year old man should be in pulling a new Doctor Who action figure out of a box. But what a delightful little chap if you’re a fan of the 1975 Pyramids of Mars. For those who aren’t in the know, the TARDIS lands in 1911 to find a priory somewhere in England menaced by robotic mummies, servants of the Osirian extra-terrestrial and part-time Egyptian god Sutekh the Destroyer who is banged up on the Red Planet.
The first clip I ever saw of this Doctor Who story was a hapless poacher getting his head crushed between two of these shambling monstrosities, an image that replayed in my nightmares for years to come. Of course when I saw it again years later, there was much less blood than I remember – well, none to be precise – but the mummies themselves were just as impressive, lumbering through an anonymous British forest to do away with Mr Bronson from Grange Hill or setting out forcefields generators hidden in canoptic jars.
In the picture above you can also see the dasterley Weng-Chiang and his Peking Homunculus in the background. As mentioned before, Doctor Who adventures such as Pyramids and The Talons of Weng-Chiang led, in part, to my love of Victorian fantasy and science fiction. I’m giddy with excitement therefore that Big Finish, that redoubtable audio-drama company that has employed me from time to time over the years, is launching a series focused around two of my favourite characters from Talons: Henry Gordon Jago, master of ceremonies at the Alhambra Theatre and eminent pathologist, Professor George Litefoot. The duo were reunited last year for the first time since 1977 in The Mahogany Murderers by Andy Lane. This two-hander has proved so successful that four more audio adventures are due to hit stores in June.
I cannot recommend The Mahogany Murderers enough. It’s an extremely steampunky tale of homicidal wooden automata and develish-doings by the darkest denizens of Victorian London. Both Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter easily slip back into their roles of Jago and Litefoot respectively and the stage is set for more infernal investigations. Roll on June I say.
THE STEAMBLOG BOOKSHOP