BBC Audiobooks - 2 x CD Set
Reviewed by Ceri Laing

Starring: William Hartnell, Peter Purves, Jackie Lane, William Hurndell

Linking narration by Peter Purves


BBC Audiobooks’ releases of Doctor Who TV programme soundtracks continue with this four-part story from the third series of the show in 1966. William Hartnell stars as the Doctor, accompanied by assistants Steven Taylor (played by Peter Purves) and Dodo Chaplet (played by Jackie Lane), together they venture into the American Wild West of the 1880s, the town of Tombstone and a certain shoot-out at the OK Corral.

The writer of The Gunfighters was Donald Cotton and this was his second contribution to the series, with both stories having a historical setting and written with a comedy edge. In this serial the Doctor has toothache and with the TARDIS setting down in Tombstone the only attendant dentist is Doc Holliday whose blood is wanted by the local Clanton family. Throw in a couple of gunfighters for hire; Steven and Dodo assuming identities of singer and pianist; confusion over which Doc is which; and a narrative leading up the infamous shoot-out, and you have an enjoyable romp of a serial.

As an experiment for the story a ballad was conceived – The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon – and segments of this were used as the incidental music, bridging scenes and helping to tell the story as the serial progresses. This, especially, makes this serial an apt choice for an audio release. It was sung by Lynda Baron, who has had a long and varied career but is perhaps best known as Nurse Gladys Emmanuel in the Ronnie Barker sit-com Open All Hours. Fortunately, the composer for this serial, Tristram Cary, kept all the recordings of the segments and they are presented on this release so they can be heard “clean”.

Amongst the fine supporting cast are two actors - David Graham and Shane Rimmer – whose voices will no doubt be familiar to fans of Gerry Anderson’s puppet series Thunderbirds, in which they played Brains and Scott Tracy respectively.

Peter Purves provides the linking narration, which covers the unseen on-screen action, and is very effective; helping to convey without being intrusive and taking you out of the drama. In additional there is an approximately ten-minute interview with Purves , in which his memories of this story and his time in general on the show are discussed. He compares this serial with Donald Cotton’s previous serial (in which Purves also starred).  The interview was conducted by Mark Ayres of the Doctor Who Restoration Team, who has also re-mastered the recording for the release.


The four episodes of the serial are presented over two discs, with the Peter Purves interview and The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon segments appended at the end of the second disc. Disc one, which includes episodes one and two, runs to a total of 48 minutes and 30 seconds. Disc two, which includes episodes three and four, the Purves interview and the Ballad segments, runs to a total of 75 minutes and 40 seconds. The Peter Purves interview is just over fifteen minutes long. The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon segments total just over ten minutes.

The soundtracks of the episodes have been cleaned to a high standard, as ever, by Mark Ayres and sound clear and fine with a good ambience.

Considering it’s extremely lucky that they still exist (thank you composer Tristram Cary!) The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon segments also sound extremely good.


This range of BBC Audiobooks Doctor Who soundtrack releases began life as a way of releasing the soundtracks of serials where the visuals no longer exist – so-called “Missing Episode” soundtracks taken from tape recordings made by fans during the original broadcasts. All the "Missing Episode" stories have been released, so now the Audiobooks range has, somewhat controversially, switched to releasing stories where the visuals do exist. Unsurprisingly, there has been much comment about the validity of continuing the range. However, it continues to sell, presumably for a variety of different reasons (they're bought by people with impaired vision, fan completists, etc). The increased awareness of the series in general, through the popularity of the current TV series, has had an impact on sales as well, so you can’t really criticise BBC Audiobooks for still continuing the range, especially as they add value to each release with additional features (in this case a very interesting wide-ranging interview with Peter Purves and the clean music links), which are most welcome, and a nice bonus to the episodes themselves.

Additionally, Andrew Pixley provides in depth sleeve notes on the production of the serial, which,  as ever, are very enlightening. BBC Audiobooks also continue the trend for this range of providing a reversible back inlay in the old style (the style having been updated a few years back) to allow long term collectors to keep their collection in the same style if they want to. Very laudable and canny on BBC Audiobooks’ part.

So, who would I recommend this release to? …anyone who is a fan of Westerns, archive television and spoken word, and of course fans of Doctor Who old and new. And, as with all the titles in BBC Audiobooks’ Doctor Who soundtrack range, if you find old Doctor Who can be a bit lacking in production values – experience it this way – you might find the pictures are better!

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