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Royal National Institute for the Blind

Library Code
October 1978
Gabriel Woolf
9 hrs 30 mins
Not Known
David Banks
11 hrs 30 mins
Not Known
David Banks
9 hrs 28 mins

The founder of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, Thomas Rhodes Armitage, was born in Sussex in 1824, and following his experiments with embossed writing - where braille was found to be most successful, and put to extensive use - the RNIB began to offer equipment, education and assistance to those with partial or no visibility. From 1918 they operated schools for blind children, trained adults for employment as masseurs, and during the second world war opened a commercial college to train switchboard operators, typists and secretaries. As employment patterns changed the college also began to train computer programmers, and today the RNIB's employment officers help visually impaired people to find work in commerce, administration and the professions, while the Department of Employment offers a placement service for those looking for work in industry.

The RNIB's talking book service began in 1935, and has since expanded from 500 members to 90,000 users nationwide. Originally, a talking book consisted of a specially designed gramophone record that held 25 minutes of recorded material per side. Now the books are recorded, unabridged, onto special cassettes that can hold up to 12 hours of narration, with celebrity readers including Terry Waite, Clare Rayner, Michael Palin, Joanna Lumley and Joyce Grenfell. These unique cassettes are playable only through special devices - today the size of walkmans, pictured below - available through local libraries and charity organisations to the registered visually impaired. The cassettes themselves can be requested and ordered through normal library services, and the list of titles available continues to expand with every month.

Whether by popular request or managerial choice, several Doctor Who novels have been available in this format. The first, titled simply Doctor Who, ran to over 9 hours and included unabridged readings of Terrance Dicks' novelisations for The Three Doctors (1973), The Carnival of Monsters (1973) and Terror of the Zygons (1975). Their reader, Gabriel Woolf, had portrayed Sutekh in the Doctor Who story Pyramids of Mars (1975), and has since recorded more than forty major novels and stories (including all of George Eliot's) for various organisations and has toured as narrator with some of the finest orchestras, performing The Soldier's Tale, Carnival of Animals, The Snowman, Peter and the Wolf and The Oxford Elegy to name a few. His Doctor Who reel-to-reel cassette - never commercially available, but still accessible through libraries - has caused much speculation in the past, from rumours that the stories were abridged, merged, or rewritten to belief that they included sections from either the Malcolm Hulke/Terrance Dicks tome The Making of Doctor Who (1972) or Alan Road's Making of a Television Series (published 1983); a full account of the 5-track tape appears below for the first time. Other titles available through the RNIB have been written and read by David Banks, including his semi-factual Cyberman book and 1993 Virgin New Adventure Iceberg, and we hope to bring you further information on these recordings soon.

TME wishes to state clearly that these recordings were not intended to be, and never shall be, available commercially or to the general public, but were and are exclusively for the registered blind through the RNIB ( They were, however, recorded with full acknowledgement and consent from the copyright holders (the British Broadcasting Corporation and WH Allen) and as such come under the bracket of officially licensed Doctor Who products, earning them a very worthy mention here. Although it is possible that international libraries and organisations have recorded further Doctor Who-related readings, we regard them as unofficial until proven otherwise.

Doctor Who

A modern walkman-style replacement for the unique cassette players provided by the RNIB
DICKS, Terrence
Doctor Who
Cat No.3337(1)SCI
9 hrs 30 mins

Read by Gabriel Woolf. The three books, Doctor Who and the Loch Ness monster, The three doctors and Doctor Who and the carnival of monsters tell the fantastic adventures of the famous doctor who can cross time and space at will.
(This and other product descriptions from the 1996 RNIB talking book catalogue, purchased irregularly by libraries. Photograph of a modern RNIB compatible cassette walkman from the online store.)

Reel Information:

Start Point
End Point
Track One
The Three Doctors p7 (start)
The Three Doctors p82 (mid-Chapter 7, 'My dear fellow, not a bit of it')
118 minutes
Track Two
The Three Doctors p82 ('In fact, as both Doctors were well aware...')
The Carnival of Monsters p36 (mid-Chapter 4, 'I'll put it here on the spare-parts shelf')
118 minutes
Track Three
The Carnival of Monsters p36 ('Vorg straightened up')
The Carnival of Monsters p111 (mid-Chapter 11, 'You will be sent to the I.C.C.A. for investigation')
118 minutes
Track Four
The Carnival of Monsters p111 ('What's that?')
The Loch Ness Monster p69 (end of Chapter 6)
118 minutes
Track Five, The Final Track
The Loch Ness Monster p70 (Chapter 7)
The Loch Ness Monster p127 (end)
86 minutes

Total Length: 560 minutes approx. / 9 hours 20 mins

Introduction: End of Reel Announcement (1-4): End of Novel Announcements: End of Reel Announcement (5): Narration:

Gabriel Woolf
Woolf obliges with distinct character voices throughout each novel, generally matching the television actor's performances - through this probably owes more to coincidence or the novel's description than research. Tyler is suitably mumbling, Jo and Sarah-Jane (who share the same voice) are quietly dim, while the Brigadier blusters and Benton - amusingly in contrast with his television persona - has an obedient and cockney accent. Woolf makes no obvious attempt to imitate either Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker, and the generic Doctor voice is unchanged throughout the three books - though his impersonation of Patrick Troughton is simply uncanny!

There are minor changes throughout the readings - 'asked' may be mis-read as 'said' when following dialogue, for example - and occasional words are altered slightly for the convenience of reading ('was not' is often abridged to 'wasn't', etc). Noted below are more interesting deviances from the novelisations, which were entirely unabridged - all changes can therefore be assumed as fluffs on Woolf's part, unlike the later range of BBC talking books where the texts underwent considerable editing before recording. The only (presumably editorial) change is that Woolf does not read the footnotes present in The Carnival of Monsters and The Loch Ness Monster alerting the reader to previous adventures in other Target books (which on both occasions is The Three Doctors).

Note that page numbers refer to the original Target paperback editions, published in 1975 (Three Doctors), 1976 (Loch Ness) and 1977 (Carnival), and that all timings are exclusive of the reel and track announcements transcribed above.

The Three Doctors (189 minutes 22 seconds)
Woolf alternately pronounces Omega as 'Om - iga' and 'Oh - miga' throughout his first scene. Thereafter, he mostly reverts to using the latter, as televised.

p11 - 'Jo peered at it [too]' (the bracketed word is unspoken)
p12 - several lines of dialogue from the Doctor are mistakenly read in Tyler's voice.
p16 - H.Q. is read aloud as 'Head-Quarters', though later references to the building are announced as written.
p17 - 'Sergeant Benton popped his head [cautiously] round the door' (bracketed word is missing)
p25 - 'Sergeant Benton climbed over the sill' is accidentally read as 'The Doctor climbed over the sill', with the immediately following line of dialogue - 'Doctor, Miss Grant,' - spoken in the Doctor's voice, until Woolf realises his mistake and reverts to Benton's London accent as the dialogue continues.
p35 - 'for [me to... for] you to put me in the picture' (bracketed words are added in the reading)
p39 - 'It was obvious that somehow he [couldn't...] could see them'
p56 - 'said the [Doc...] Brigadier firmly'
p58 - mis-reads 'corridors' as 'corners', to bewildering effect
p63 - 'found the TARDIS' read as 'round the TARDIS'
p65 - 'The [same] ghastly sameness'
p95 - fumbles with 'He led them at a brisk jog trot'
p122 - 'I'm glad you're satisfied' read as 'I hope you're satisfied'

The Carnival of Monsters (183 minutes 30 seconds)
Woolf often pronounces 'Drashigs' as 'Dashrigs', and increasingly reads 'Vorg' as 'Vorgs'.

p7 - '...on what [sounded... on what] he called a 'little test flight'' (the bracketed section is added in the reading)
p8 - fumbles with 'where you think we are'
p16 - has trouble pronouncing 'across the deck of the little ship'
p38 - reverses the dialogue and narration of 'Kalik was unimpressed. 'Then what is it?''
p63 - reads 'Inter Minor' as 'Inner Minor'
p70 - Woolf actually yawns in the middle of one of Jo's lines.
p78 - reads the title of Chapter 8 - 'The Battle on the Ship' - as 'of the Ship'
p79 - fluffs 'saloon window' as 'window... of the saloon'
p83 - 'Vorg, [there must be...] there's another fault signalled'
p96 - fumbles with the word 'device'
p113 - 'the Doctor was shocked to see [how much... and] how quickly damage and deterioration had spread'
p115 - 'Vorg [looked and] took the little ship and [looked and] sighed reminiscently'

The Loch Ness Monster (179 minutes 52 seconds)
Woolf has trouble keeping his Scottish accent limited to the Scottish characters, and after noticing his mistakes (the Brigadier, the Doctor and Benton are left with Scottish accents at various points), tends to drop the accent from the scene altogether, leaving Scottish characters suddenly British. It also takes him a few words to get into the swing of the Highland lilt during early scenes.

His voices for the Zygons are totally unlike their television performances, with more human expression and range - thereby turning Broton and the Zygon engineer into a more obvious comedy double-act, similar to the officials from The Carnival of Monsters. Finally, Woolf uses Broton's voice to deliver the alien's dialogue when disguised as the Duke of Forgill - as indicated by the narration, although this is contrary with the television programme.

p8 - 'an impact that [crashed...] knocked the breath from him' (brackets indicate added words)
p12 - reads 'H.Q.' as 'Head-Quarters'
p13 - Benton's line 'Far as I know, sir' is spoken with Huckle's American accent - the only occurrence of this accent slipping
p23 - reads '1922' as 'Nineteen-hundred and Twenty-Two'
p28 - 'said [the Doctor...] Sarah'
p29 - reads 'The alien being at the console' as 'The alien, being at the console'
p35 - 'will you stay with him, [Doc...] Sister?'
p36 - 'the big high-domed head' read as 'the high, big, domed head'
p38 - 'the decompression chamber was [a] small, bare, featureless [... room]' - reads 'low hum' as 'slow hum'
p40 - 'would kill [him and] them both in the end'
p41 - '[growing...] glowing veins'
p62 - 'We'd better [get back... and] get this back to H.Q.'
p64 - Woolf can be heard panicking at the sight of 'vareldemyte' on the page, and fluffs the pronunciation completely
p65 - ''I see' said [the Doctor crisp... said] the Brigadier crisply'
p68 - misses the attributing of a line of dialogue to Palmer, though Woolf uses Palmer's voice to deliver it
p76 - reads some free indirect discourse within the text using Angus' Scottish accent, giving the narration the appearance of dialogue: 'A fine man, the Duke, even if he had been a wee bit strange of late. It took a real aristocrat to be so generous - the stag's head was a splendid gift.'
p106 - reads 're-register' as 'de-register' as Broton discusses body-prints


A modern walkman-style replacement for the unique cassette players provided by the RNIB
BANKS, David
Cat No. 7104(1)SCI
11 hrs 30 mins

Read by David Banks. Highlighting some of the most popular monsters of the Doctor Who TV series, the book is in four sections. 'Concept' shows how Frankenstein, Dan Dare, cybernetics and spare part surgery came together to create the cyberman myth. 'Archive' is an epic history of the Cybermen's encounters with Doctor Who. 'Program' gives a full account of the making of the TV programmes and 'Dialog's includes a new cybermen story. Read by the author who played the chief cyberman in the TV series.


A modern walkman-style replacement for the unique cassette players provided by the RNIB
BANKS, David
Cat No. 9682(1)SCI
9 hrs 28 mins

Read by David Banks. in 2006, the world is about to be overwhelmed by a disaster that might destroy civilisation; the inversion of the earth's magnetic field. Deep in an Antarctic base, the FLIPback team is frantically devising a system to reverse the change in polarity. Above them, the SS Elysium carries its jet set passengers on the ultimate cruise. Onboard is Ruby Duvall, a journalist sent to record the FLIPback moment. Instead she finds a man called the Doctor, who is locked out of the strange green box he says is part of his time machine and some old enemies of the Doctor, silver giants at work beneath the earth. This book contains language which might be considered offensive.