WHO 50: 1980:
State of Decay.

TV One of the more random pieces of old school merchandise in my collection is the Pickwick Talking Books audio release of a Terrance Dicks novelisation of State of Decay.

Here’s something which will date some readers. It was bought for me at the closing down sale at Blacklers, the department store in Great Charlotte Street where the Wetherspoons is now, along with a First Byte Joystick Interface for my Acorn Electron.

The TARDIS Datacore explains that my copy is the re-release which split the hour long reading across two cassettes. It also explains why some copies I’ve seen are only on one tape.

What it doesn’t tell me is how it happened. Given the history of Doctor Who, choosing the Vampire gothic State of Decay, the central story in the wider E-Space trilogy for this release is surprising.  It's usually Genesis of the Daleks.

Also surprising is that it isn’t some abridgement of the TARGET novelisation. It’s a completely different script from Dicks (who wouldn’t write the book version for another six months), which simplifies the story, reducing the participation of Adric (which is always to the good).

And who wrote the theme tune? A theme tune which isn’t the familiar Ron Grainer/Delia Derbyshire combo, but some kind of bouncy synth music which I can still dah-dee-dah through having listened to this audio book to death as a child.

When was it recorded? Tom left the role on screen in March 1981 so it must have been before then, but at least during the period when it's pretty much accepted he was psychologically done with the role having realised he and JNT would never see eye to eye.

Yet here he is putting in a professional and elegant vocal performance, even when handed Adric’s dialogue, in a format which would become the model for later audio books, its influence clear in the entire BBC range that was to come.

This was originally released in June 1981, which also looks like a bizarre piece of scheduling from today’s perspective when Eccleston merchandise was being pulled from the shelves almost as soon as he'd regenerated into Tennant.

Essentially, why? Do you know?

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