Fiction Reviews

Doctor Who
Planet of the Ood

(2023) Keith Temple, BBC Books, £9.99, pbk, 176pp, ISBN 978-1-785-94826-8


"The Ood came from a distant world, they voyaged across the stars, all for one purpose... to serve."

The TARDIS lands on the Ood-Sphere in the year 4126. Here, human profiteers have subjugated the Ood: the gentle creatures are forced into servitude and sold across the galaxy as the perfect slaves. But now, some are fighting back. Their eyes turn red as they throw off their chains and kill their oppressors...

The Doctor and Donna soon learn that the planet of the Ood holds cruel and awesome secrets. As they battle for justice and survival, the fate of the entire Ood race hangs in the balance. Will the outcome be salvation – or extinction?

I wonder how many Doctor Who stories are called “Planet of the…” and how many stories have involved the Doctor coming to the aid of a subjugated people, exploited by evil humans, or some other race? Surely there is a research paper in there somewhere?

But I digress for we must away to the Ood-Sphere in the year 4126 in the company of Keith Temple and the novelisation of his script for a story first broadcasted in April 2008 in the company of the Tenth Doctor and his companion Donna Noble. But first, a little diversion away from the broadcasted episode in a prologue featuring the Ood, Delta Fifty, as he hears a song of rebellion for the first time and the embers of defiance start to smoulder within him. After that we are into the story proper in the seventeen chapters that follow and it is very much a version-by-numbers as Temple gives us more insight into the Ood and their human oppressors, if anything making the latter even nastier and devious than before. After all they work for Ood Operations which has enslaved the Ood for centuries, even going as far as lobotomising them to make them more subservient.

Those who remember watching the story on television will remember that the main villain gets his comeuppance in a particularly nasty and icky fashion. The Ood do have allies in the form of the group known as Friends of the Ood, who are slowly making the changes that will allow them to rebel. Sadly, their main ally, Dr. Ryder doesn’t get the expansion his character should have got in book form unlike the bad guys, but Temple does a good job translating David Tennant’s Doctor to the page and captures Donna Noble perfectly as she veers between bewilderment at all the alien goings-on, and outrage at the treatment of the Ood. We also get a bit of foreshadowing as it is mentioned that the Doctor’s own song must end soon, something that will take place at the end of series 4, in fifteen episode’s time.

Temple has adapted his story pretty faithfully with a smattering of necessary tinkering and added to the characterisation of the main roles where needed which does the job of translating this adventure for the Doctor from screen to page in a painless fashion to produce a book that Who-completists everywhere will want to add to their library.

Ian Hunter


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