The Telegraph kicked off a week of Doctor Who audio giveaways by enclosing advance copies of The Runaway Train, the first of the Eleventh Doctor BBC audio-exclusive adventures.
Read by Matt Smith, this short story sends the Doctor and Amy to Texas during the Civil War. Although the Doctor doesn’t know it yet, he’s hired a team of men to help him steal the mysterious object the Confederate army has dug up, something that they think will help them win. But the Doctor knows otherwise. It’s a piece of alien technology, and if he doesn’t get it into his possession and deactivate it by 9pm, the entire world is doomed.
The Runaway Train is a fairly bog-standard Doctor Who story; at only an hour, it doesn’t have a lot of time for plot twists or internal cliffhangers. It also doesn’t spend a lot of time building a picture of the Civil War; for all the effect the time and place have on the story, we might as well be listening about two alien armies on a new planet. As far as I can tell, the setting was chosen because the Wild West sounds romantic and so that Matt Smith could show off his range of accents.
It is a fairly impressive range, covering thousands of miles from Scotland through Texas with a stopoff at “generic American Southern”. While Smith will never pass as a native of Glasgow, Georgia, or Galveston, he gets close enough to count.
Whenever it appears on sale to non-Telegraph readers, Eleventh Doctor fans will naturally want it and younger listeners will doubtless love it – what seems like a thin story for an adult will play beautifully to the younger demographic that Moffat is obviously targeting.
The Runaway Train (by Oli Smith; read by Matt Smith) was released by BBC Audio in April 2010.