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Zienia Merton reads this captivating novelisation of an epic ‘lost’ historical TV adventure featuring the First Doctor.
The young Venetian Marco Polo is on his way to the emperor’s court in Peking when he meets four intrepid time travellers: the elderly Doctor, his granddaughter Susan, and their companions Ian and Barbara.
The TARDIS has broken down whilst on Earth, in the year 1289. Marco Polo recognises in it a means of winning favour with the emperor, and he insists that the travellers accompany his caravan to Cathay.
The journey is fraught with sandstorms, drought, bandits, would-be assassins and many other hidden dangers. Even if they do arrive safely at the court of Kublai Khan, the Doctor and his friends have no guarantee of ever seeing the inside of the TARDIS again....
Zienia Merton, who played Ping-Cho in the original BBC serial, reads John Lucarotti’s own novelisation of his 1964 TV adventure.
Dedicated to the memory of Zienia Merton.
Text © John Lucarotti 1984
Cover illustration by David McAllister
Reading produced by John Ainsworth
Recorded at Ashwood Music
Postproduction by Ladbroke Studios
Sound design by Simon Power for Meon Productions
TARDIS sound effect composed by Brian Hodgson
Executive producer: Michael Stevens
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What listeners say about Doctor Who: Marco PoloAverage Customer Ratings
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- Dr Caterpillar
The unlimited budget of the printed word
It's not quite 5 star but it's very likeable. Zienia Merton, who played the lovely Sandra in Space: 1999 (and Ping Cho in the lost TV version of this story) makes a few uncorrected mistakes, including "elements" for "elephants" at one point, but this is easy to forgive, not least because she died shortly after making the recording.
A novelisation of the fourth ever Doctor Who serial, this is largely faithful to the original story, and very much a standalone - all you need to know is that the Doctor is an old man who travels in time and space with his granddaughter and two teachers in his bigger-on-the-inside police telephone box. This adventure is no flying visit - the TARDIS crew are well and truly involved in the historical period, taking weeks to cross the Pamir Plateau, the Gobi Desert and parts of the Silk Road. There are no aliens or time travellers other than the regulars themselves, although Marco Polo's accounts of levitating monks are intriguing.
If you've read (or listened to) Marco Polo's own book, you might be surprised at how much this ties in. At times it almost feels like a Dorling Kindersley (or Ladybird) retelling for younger readers. The descriptions of costumes, landscapes, palaces and so on may leave you wondering how well these things were realised on the telly - they must have had a budget that Ridley Scott could only dream of! For my own part it left me wishing Studio Ghibli could do a remake.
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- Andy Harper
Who's The Best
This is one of those titles for which the phrase classic was invented because it is a thrilling travelogue of Marco Polo's adventures with The Doctor and his companions. Highly recommended