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135l 'Cuddlesome'

CD audio adventure released with DWM 393, March 2008

Writer: Nigel Fairs
Director: Barnaby Edwards

Roots: This is an adaptation of the 1989 Audio-Visuals play of the same name. In general then: Gremlins, The Care Bears (and similar toy franchises of the 1980s and 1990s), Tamagochi (neglecting one's toy can have awful consequences), The Doctor quotes MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This ("hammer time"), while the language of the second-generation Cuddlesomes use or adapt 1990s catchphrases from The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ('Cowabunga', 'Eat My Socks') and slacker/surfer-speak ("awesome!' 'extreme!'). West-Side Story (opposing armies battle with their own anthem). Scooby Doo

Intertextuality: This story is based on the AudioVisuals play of the same name.

Continuity: The Cuddlesomes resemble cuddly pink vampire hamsters. They were not especially designed for a child market, but nevertheless were the most popular toy craze of the 1980s - three million were made in all. Their unique appeal was a voice recognition system very much ahead of its time, and in addition to this it is apparent that they are sentient and telepathic with the ability to experience emotions and feel pain. Each Cuddlesome contains a green lubrication agent, the Cuddlesome equivalent of blood, and a viral container - a poison sac connected to the teeth, designed to kill any neglectful adult who might abandon their toy. After being found guilty of tax fraud around 1983 their creator Ronald 'Daddy' Turvey was imprisoned for twenty years and his factory The Pleasure Palace (later nicknamed The White Elephant by local residents) in Shoreham Harbour was closed down and nearly redeveloped. There is a local shop in the Brighton Lanes, 'Belllbottoms', which specialises in memorabilia from the 1970s and 1980s.

Tingha are a race of psychic brood parasites, like intergalactic cuckoos. A Tinghus will start its life as an idea or an intense fear, and having found a suitable host - usually a being with low self-esteem or a sense of self-loathing, it gestates inside them until fully grown. A Tinghus feeds on these negative emotions until, fully grown, it achieves physical manifestation whereupon it requires a nutrient bath for sustenance. Tingha regard fully-mature adults as 'contaminants' as the self-same growth hormones they feed from developing humans bring grown Tingha out into an explosive and fatal rash. An unnaturally-prolonged connection between Tinghus and host creates a symbiotic bond, meaning that the death of the host will also kill the Tinghus.

The TARDIS has arrived off-course again, originally programmed for 1818, but ending up in its present location due to faulty lateral balance cones.

The Doctor had a bear once, but had to release it into the wild because it kept biting chunks out of his bedroom furniture. He regrets that he hasn't yet made a new (i.e. replacement) sonic screwdriver for himself. Telepathic resonance makes his elbows twitch.

Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor learned his tackle from William Webb Ellis.

Location: Brighton, 2008.

The Bottom Line: "I would have got away with it too, if it wasn't for the Inland Revenue"

A good adaptation of one of the more memorable and less-fraught Audio Visuals, and much the better for its light tone, an apt candidate then for a DWM freebie. Davison's reliably good, but his guest stars Roberta Taylor (with hammer) and David Troughton are equally fine also, and Timothy West is actually better here than in Phobos. The cuteness isn't going to be for everyone, but it comes with a fair dose of humour and body horror to balance things.

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