I’m not really sure why I skipped Nigel Robinson’s adaptation of “The Time Meddler” during my Target novel collecting days. Whether it’s that the relatively recent release date came with a higher price tag or that I didn’t really appreciate the serial during my teenage years, I don’t quite recall.
But this gap in my collection allowed me to come to Peter Purvis’s reason of the story without my memory cheating on the relative merit of the original novelization.
Coming at the end of the classic series’ second season, “The Time Meddler” is a pivotal point in Doctor Who history.
The four-part serial is a pivotal one for classic Doctor Who. Until this point, the series had maintained a clear distinction between the sci-fi stories and the historical ones. With “The Time Meddler,” the line begins to blur a bit with another time traveler trying to interfere in the natural course of Earth history.
In this case, its’ the Meddling Monk, a fellow time traveler who shares the same home planet as the Doctor, who has decided that he’ll tweak English and world history a bit by using atomic bazookas to ward off the Vikings at Stanford Bridge on 1066. With Harold’s troops not weary from the battle there, followed by a march to Hastings, world history will unfold is a slightly different pattern. The Monk is also filling the time period with historical anachronisms from a record player to give the illusion he’s not alone in the monastery to a toaster and electric griddle for preparing food.
Adapted from the original four-part serial by Dennis Spooner, Robinson’s adaptation is fairly faithful to the original script. Robinson inserts a few scenes that weren’t possible on the budget of the time as well as confirming a few things that the original production was a bit more cautious in addressing.
As an audio book, “The Time Meddler” is a lot of fun. Purvis is clearly having a great time bringing the story to life and his take on the various participants is a delight. He does a good impression of the first Doctor and Vicki as well as capture some of the mischievous elements of Peter Butterworth’s performance as the Meddling Monk.