Stealers from Saiph (2009)

The Stealers from Saiph is the final stories from this extended series and like The Mahogany Murderers before this story has something that is a first in this range. This is the first story to just feature one actor throughout this story. Mary Tamm returns to the role of Romana after playing her during the Key to Time series in 1978 and 1979. She returned in the Gallifrey series but as she puts it in the CD Extras segment it’s the first time she’s played the original Romana for 30 years. I liked Mary Tamm’s version of Romana because there was something stylish and likeable about her despite the way she thought she was better than the Doctor and perhaps people that they encountered. This story also is the first story from Nigel Robinson. Robinson previously wrote for the Target Novelisation’s, writing up The Sensorites (1987), The Time Meddler (1988), The Underwater Menace (1988) & The Edge of Destruction (1988).

The setting is quite a good one because it wasn’t one that had been done before. It also something that suited the first Romana’s character. The story sees a Parasite that has crash landed on Earth and is using the inhabitants to get their ship back up to full strength and use the Mediterranean. The plot does have a slight comparison to The Time Warrior where Linx uses scientists to help repair the damage to his ship. Having said that I did quite like the story and thought that there was something about it that I quite enjoyed. There was the impression that all this takes place over a wide area which is something that gives it a sense of scale and a greater sense of the danger that faces the people of that area.

My only complaint about this story was that it did take quite a long time for story to get going but once it did I found myself enjoying it. Mary Tamm did a good job doing the different accents and did well distinguishing her character from the Doctor’s. It would also have been nice if they did a special voice for the parasite to try and make it sound more dangerous and menacing. What we got was just Mary Tamm talking in a slightly sinister voice but ultimately they did nothing to make it sound alien.

Nigel Robinson has written what was in reality quite a simple story. It was a brave attempt to rely on just one person to do other voices as with another actor the main star has someone to act against and I think it was a test to Tamm’s acting to see whether she could pull it off. As it were she does but it still would have been nicer to have another voice to go along with. Lisa Bowerman did a good job as director, she didn’t rush the story along and allowed it to simmer and once it got up to speed she kept it at the race pace and it never felt rushed. It got to the stage where I kept thinking “Oh theres more”. A lot gets done in this release.

Overall this is an enjoyable story. Its not one of the best from this series but considering some of the gems that there have been like Home Truths, The Mahogany Murderers & The Transit of Venus, I don’t think that The Stealers from Saiph is a bad release. Certainly one that should be listened to just to hear Mary Tamm. Hopefully she will do another one quite soon because I would like to hear more from the first Romana.

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