Big Finish Main Range Dalek Stories Ranked from Worst to Best | Doctor Who

Big Finish have been releasing monthly Doctor Who audio stories since 1999, and one of the cornerstones of the company’s Doctor Who release schedule has been the Main Range, a series of audio dramas that emulate the format of a Classic Doctor Who story with 4 25-minute episodes that make up a complete story. These audio dramas feature Doctors and companions from the eras of the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors who are all voiced by their original actors.

However, the Main Range series ended this year with its two-hundred and seventy-fifth release, The End of the Beginning, as Big Finish have shifted their focus towards box sets made in the New Series format of single, 45-minute stories. In the 22 years that the series ran, twenty Dalek stories were produced for the Main Range. That’s a lot of Dalek stories, almost as many as the Classic Series and the New Series combined. As with the TV Dalek stories, these audios vary in their tone and their quality of writing, and some do a better job than others of making the Daleks a menacing threat. Some of these audios are among the greatest pieces of media that Big Finish have ever produced, but with 20 Dalek stories in the series there are bound to be some that flop.

But if you are a Dalek fan who wants to listen to the best Dalek stories that the Main Range has to offer, which ones should you listen to first? Are there any Big Finish Dalek stories that should be skipped altogether? Which is the best Big Finish Dalek story for each Doctor? These are all questions that we aim to answer with this list which focuses on how Big Finish have depicted the Daleks in the Main Range. So, here we will be ranking each of the Dalek stories in Big Finish’s Main Range from worst to best.

Low-Tier Dalek Stories

The audios in this tier are, unfortunately, among the worst of the Main Range. None of them are irredeemably bad, because there are always things to enjoy about each of these audios, but for one reason or another each of them falls short as a Dalek story, be it because of a wider story arc that swallows up the plot of the story or just a generally weak depiction of the Daleks, these audios are generally misguided efforts, though they are still essential listening for hardcore fans.

Daleks Among Us

Taking the bottom spot of this list is Daleks Among Us, a bizarre and unique audio that has some interesting ideas but unfortunately falls somewhat short of executing them. To be clear, the position of this story as the lowest instalment on this list is the fact that it is embroiled in a long story arc involving the Seventh Doctor’s companion Elizabeth Klein, and that it’s potential as a standalone story is hampered by this fact. Listening to Daleks Among Us on its own is a very confusing experience, and in order to fully understand this story one has to have listened to several preliminary audio stories. Daleks Among Us is an example of why Big Finish made the decision to conclude the Main Range and focus on individual box sets, as complicated story arcs were becoming all too common.

Nonetheless, within the context of its long story arc Daleks Among Us is still a brilliant audio, as it concludes Klein’s story in a strong way with a great parallel between the Daleks and the Nazis, which seems like the perfect match. However, the comparison between the Daleks and the Nazis had already been done fairly well in the TV story Genesis of the Daleks, and so the more blatant parallels drawn in this story seem like a retreading of old ground. This audio is definitely a great story for fans of Klein’s arc, as it provides some fantastic revelations about her story that answer questions that fans had been asking about the character for a long time. However, when viewed through the lens of a Dalek story, it is difficult to discuss the major positives of this story, especially without delving into spoilers.

From the blurb on the back of the case, this audio promises a story about a planet that has experienced a Dalek invasion and yet has laws preventing the population from ever discussing it. This is a brilliant idea, but unfortunately this is just one of dozens of ideas bouncing around in this audio, and before long this idea is swallowed up in a maelstrom of other ideas that bombard the listener. Sadly, the best parts about Daleks Among Us have little or nothing to do with the Daleks themselves. If you want to listen to the entire story arc of Elizabeth Klein, the story starts with an audio called Colditz, which is a great listen. Klein has some fantastic audios with the Seventh Doctor, but Daleks Among Us should be listened to in that context, not as a standalone Dalek story.

Renaissance of the Daleks

This is an odd story, to say the least. The fact that the blurb on the back of the case describes the plot of this one as ‘outlandish’ tells you all you need to know, but this is really one that needs to be heard to be believed. Apparently this story suffered some intense behind-the-scenes issues involving extensive rewrites to ensure that the bonkers premise actually made sense as a story, and there are some very in-depth scientific concepts used in the plot which don’t make a lot of sense unless you do your own research, which isn’t great for a Doctor Who story, audio or otherwise.

The plot involves the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa discovering Dalek plots across different divergent timelines which involves an incursion of toy Daleks, which is an interesting premise, and as the Doctor and Nyssa travel around to undo the Daleks’ scheme they pick up a motley crew of people from different time periods who have to work together with the main cast to stop the Daleks from conquering the universe. Sadly this story introduces lots of interesting ideas yet it doesn’t really give them time to make much of an impact. There’s an army of toy Daleks, a huge structure made of hundreds of Daleks joined together, and even a surprise appearance from the Dalek Emperor, but none of it really lands.

The best that can be said for this story is that it has some really creative ideas, and arguably the best parts about it are the cast, both main and supporting. The voice work is variable in quality, and some of the characters can get quite grating over time, but overall they are a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the Daleks themselves aren’t great in this audio and this fact, coupled with its bizarre premise, gives it a rather low ranking on this list.

The Time of the Daleks (Dalek Empire Part IV)

Remember when the Daleks quoted Shakespeare? This story was the Eighth Doctor’s first encounter with the Daleks and, despite rounding off the generally well-received Dalek Empire tetralogy, it is perhaps one of the least popular Dalek audio stories out there. Borrowing many of its plot elements from the lost Second Doctor story The Evil of the Daleks, The Time of the Daleks is best remembered as ‘that one where the Daleks remove Shakespeare from history’. There are some elements of this story that tie in to the previous three Dalek audios, and the overarching story of the previous three Dalek stories does coalesce here with an appearance from the Dalek Emperor, but unlike the other three Dalek Empire stories this audio does not feel like part of a grand space opera and instead comes across as a restricted and deflated finale.

This is unfortunate because this is Charley Pollard’s first encounter with the Daleks, and yet throughout the story the Daleks themselves are given little to do other than play capture-and-escape with her to ensure that the Doctor co-operates with their plan. There is a lot that Dalek fans will appreciate about this story, as Nicholas Briggs does a fantastic job voicing them as always, but considering this audio is both the Eighth Doctor’s first Dalek story and the finale to a four-part series of Dalek audios, the results as unfortunately lacklustre.

Having said that, there are still some genuinely great Dalek moments in this story. The idea of Daleks reciting quotes from Shakespeare might seem comical, but this story does a good job of making it come across as genuinely chilling at times. The great duo of the Eighth Doctor and Charley are always a joy to listen to, and this audio is no different. There is definitely a lot to like about The Time of the Daleks, but it is by no means one of Big Finish’s best Dalek stories.

Plague of the Daleks

We’ve had Dalek stories involving rusty, rotting and desperate Daleks before, but Plague of the Daleks takes this idea to a whole new level, proving that the Daleks are not only merciless but also sadistic in their disgusting desire to destroy all other forms of life in whatever ways they can. In this case, their arsenal of death is expanded through the use of a sickening disease that subjects its victims to an agonizing death before transforming them into mindless zombies. There are a few characters in this audio who become a bit grating as the story progresses, but the zombie setting means that most of the annoying characters receive gruesome deaths, which is a plus.

This audio is certainly not a typical Dalek story, not least because the Daleks themselves don’t show up until the end of episode 2 where they are given a big reveal, despite the fact that the Daleks are on the cover and even have their name in the title. This audio is definitely a fun runaround, and pairing Daleks with a zombie apocalypse is a great idea that is well-executed in this story. This audio is the finale of a loose trilogy in which the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa visit the village of Stockbridge at different points in its timeline, but that backstory isn’t required to enjoy this audio as a standalone story.

The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa are always a reliable pairing, and they have some great moments in this audio. There are also some genuine scares in this story, as there are some gruesome moments and sinister settings that keep the listener on their toes throughout the story. The Daleks themselves are also a highlight, as they still make an impact despite only appearing halfway through the story. The cover depicts the ragged, rusted and decaying Daleks that have been hiding underground for centuries, which look great, but the audio doesn’t do anything particularly unique with the idea of ancient Daleks that have been buried underground for so long that they have corroded over time. While Plague of the Daleks is itself a memorable story, the Daleks themselves are not the most memorable thing about this audio.



Good-Tier Dalek Stories

The audios in this tier are generally good, though not good enough to stand out from the crowd. With 20 Dalek stories in a series designed for die-hard Doctor Who fans, there are bound to be stories that retread old ground or re-do old Dalek stories that have been done before are inevitable, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. These audios are fun to listen to, though as with the previous tier each of them has a blocker which prevents them from being great.

Emissary of the Daleks

On the surface this story has quite a typical, almost run-of-the-mill Dalek story setup, including an occupied planet, an oppressed population, and a non-Dalek acting as a puppet leader for the Daleks as they exploit a planet for its resources. However, there are some interesting elements to this audio that make it stand out from other Dalek stories. For a start, the Daleks themselves are unable to occupy the planet in force due to rare elements that can be extracted from mines on the planet, and the Doctor and Peri are made aware of this quite early on as they are shown the scorched remains of a Dalek within the battle-scarred ruins of a city. The Daleks occupy the planet, which is called Omnia, but they cannot invade in their usual fashion and so must make use of a puppet government to maintain their authority.

The people of Omnia are also quite interesting in their own right. Due to the Dalek occupation, their culture and history has been suppressed, but there are those who can recount entire novels and historical texts from memory, keeping their culture alive as a literal living memory and passing it on through word-of-mouth. This creates an interesting illustration of the notion that an idea is all that is needed to start a revolution, and once it takes hold, the idea cannot be destroyed. This concepts deftly illustrates the brutal and genocidal nature of the Daleks, as they are eager to destroy the very culture of the planet, not just its people. Usually Dalek stories use the setting of a Dalek invasion as a backdrop for a story, but this audio brings the existential fear of a planet’s culture being wiped out by merciless extraterrestrials to the forefront of its narrative.

Because of the nature of the story, Emissary of the Daleks is fairly similar to The Dalek Invasion of Earth in both its tone and its setting, in that both stories are set on a world populated by innocent people who are being oppressed by a Dalek invasion force that have taken over the planet as part of a larger plot to conquer the universe. However, this isn’t necessarily a criticism, because Emissary of the Daleks does things that The Dalek Invasion of Earth doesn’t, and the fact that it is set on a planet other than Earth gives us a sense of the sheer scale of the amount of suffering that the Daleks have inflicted on the galaxy.

The Genocide Machine (Dalek Empire Part I)

The Genocide Machine was Big Finish’s first Dalek story of the main range, and the company’s first Dalek story ever. As such, there are some interesting quirks with this story, such as the unusual presence of another voice actor for the Daleks who works alongside Nicholas Briggs, Big Finish sound designer Alistair Lock. Speaking of sound design, this story also has many stock sound effects which is typical of early Big Finish audios. This might sound like a bad thing, but on the whole the sound design for this story is very good and is actually really atmospheric at times.

This story features the Seventh Doctor and Ace as they visit the library of Kar-Charrat, located in the middle of a rainforest. At the same time, an archaeological team led by Bev Tarrant. Fans of the expanded universe will recognize Bev from the Bernice Summerfield audios, though she actually makes her first appearance here in The Genocide Machine. This story has somewhat of a reputation for being dull, but this is perhaps an unfair assessment. The word that springs to mind when reviewing The Genocide Machine is that it is experimental, both in the sense that it brings the Daleks to audio for the first time, and it also tries a lot of interesting things with its sound design. There are some criticisms of The Genocide Machine that do stand, in that Bev and Ace sound far too similar, and the final defeat of the Daleks at the end of the story is somewhat lacklustre.

Even after all these years, Big Finish’s first ever Dalek audio story stands the test of time, and is definitely worth a listen. As with many of Big Finish’s other early releases, this audio feels more like a Classic Who story than some other Dalek audios in the range, so fans of that era will definitely enjoy it. The Genocide Machine may not be the best Big Finish Dalek audio, but it is definitely an important one.

Brotherhood of the Daleks

After Charley Pollard left the Eighth Doctor she briefly travelled with the Sixth Doctor in one of the boldest story arcs Big Finish had attempted at the time. Brotherhood of the Daleks takes place not long after the two have met, and while Charley knows who the Doctor is she is quite taken aback by his more brash and arrogant personality, and the Sixth Doctor suspects that something is amiss but gives her the benefit of the doubt. The threat to the Web of Time that stems from a future companion interfering with a past Doctor’s timeline is a great idea, but dropping into Brotherhood of the Daleks without this prior context can make it quite confusing.

Speaking of confusing, this audio has quite a complicated plot line involving Daleks, Thals, places that look and sound like Spiridon but might not actually be Spiridon, and a lot of wacky plants. This audio is filled with ideas, and it doesn’t get the chance to fully explore all of them, which can give the impression that the story is a bit convoluted. On the first listen, this audio can be quite confusing, as it is definitely an audio that has been designed to be listened to more than once.

As with all Big Finish Dalek stories, the sound design on this audio is fantastic, and the cast are all wonderful, particularly India Fisher as Charley and Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. The environment of Spiridon is accurately portrayed in audio form, and we get to hear more about the conflict between the Thals and the Daleks, making this audio a great listen for fans of classic Dalek stories. The only downside to this audio is the fact that the plot can be somewhat confusing, and this audio is not recommended to newcomers to Big Finish or the audio format in general, but Brotherhood of the Daleks is nonetheless a solid Dalek story.

Alien Heart / Dalek Soul

This story takes the interesting approach of being two sets of two 25-minute parts that rather than one large 4-part story, though Alien Heart does very much lead into Dalek Soul. The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa discover that lots of planets have been destroyed by a horrific weapon and after the two are separated, Nyssa is forced to work for the Daleks to develop viruses for them whilst the Doctor teams up with a group of rebels trying to stop them. Without giving too much away, this story definitely tests the Doctor and Nyssa’s friendship and there are some surprising plot developments across these two stories that prove that travelling with the Doctor can be extremely dangerous as well as exciting.

The Daleks featured in this story are aggressive and brutal, as Daleks should be, and their booming voices are provided once again by the excellent Nicholas Briggs. Dalek Soul in particular gives us some great examples of just how merciless the Daleks can be, as we get to learn more about one of the Daleks’ oldest and most evil strategies of using bacteria, plagues and other diseases to weaken their enemies before invading.

Although Alien Heart establishes the plot for the story and ends in a memorable cliffhanger, it is the two-part story Dalek Soul in which the Daleks themselves are most prominent. This story is clearly inspired by classic science fiction comics and has some great moments with the Daleks, who can be genuinely chilling at times. Nicholas Briggs does a fantastic job as always with the Dalek voice in this audio, and the dialogue is excellent. Dalek Soul‘s short length and intense Dalek action makes it a great listen every time.

Shadow of the Daleks 1 / Shadow of the Daleks 2

Shadow of the Daleks tackles the interesting idea of the Fifth Doctor becoming lost in the Time War, and having to deal with Daleks from his personal future meddling with time as he is powerless to stop them. The format of this story is interesting, as it is made up of eight small stories spanning two Main Range releases. As this is a stark deviation from both the Classic Series format of 4 25-minute episodes making up a story, and the New Series format of one 45-minute story that Big Finish are used to, there are some issues with pacing across this saga but overall it is a definitely worth a listen. As this is the final Dalek story of the Main Range it makes sense that this story tackles the concept of the Time War, and it gives a promising insight into the kind of creative things Big Finish can do with future Dalek stories.

Having a lot of short stories set in a wide variety of settings and featuring a constantly shifting cast of characters is quite a challenge, and it is a testament to the quality of Big Finish’s writing and the excellent voice talent that they involve in their productions that Shadow of the Daleks is as good as it is. There is the occasional irritating character, questionable plot point and poorly-paced story here and there, but on the whole the story is very strong. Some episodes deal with some very high-concept sci-fi ideas which is perfect for a story set in the Time War, and due to the ‘corrupted timeline’ idea there is a lot of opportunities for this box set to explore twisted historical settings which takes full advantage of.

There are also some fantastic ‘bottle episode’ ideas in this audio which is something that Big Finish don’t tend to do as much with their longer releases. Some stories in this series could rival Midnight for their solid ideas and perfect execution within a limited timeframe. Admittedly, sometimes there are ideas or characters in some of the stories that could have done with a bit more development, but on the whole Shadow of the Daleks succeeds in its mission to depict a timey-wimey adventure through the bizarre world of the Time War, and Big Finish take the opportunity to experiment with these stories which is something the company was known for back in the day so it’s great to experience some wacky audios again which proves the company still has that creative spark all these years later. The Daleks themselves don’t play as big a role in Shadow of the Daleks as you might think, but their involvement in the story is solid without having them feel overused.

The Curse of Davros

This story contains a fantastic twist that makes it difficult to talk about without spoilers. It plays on the opinion held among those in the fanbase that are less in-the-know, that being the idea that the Sixth Doctor is a mean-spirited incarnation of the Doctor who is comfortable killing people in order to progress his plans. By playing on this idea, The Curse of Davros is able to pull the rug out from under the audience several times, and the first part is a fun and entertaining ride.

The Daleks are given several memorable scenes in which they show their characteristic ruthlessness and the Sixth Doctor’s new companion, returning character Philippa ‘Flip’ Jackson, gets to experience her first encounter with the Daleks in a story that is not afraid to demonstrate how merciless the Daleks are, as they ruthlessly exterminate shop workers, bus drivers, and anyone else who so much as moves while they are attempting to hunt the Doctor. It makes for great listening that establishes the Daleks as a clear and present threat.

This audio also involves a famous historical figure, that being Napoleon Bonaparte, who is given a very interesting character arc in this story. There are some great scenes with this character, some of which are quite funny, including one in which he learns about the existence of a certain Abba song from Flip and is less-than-impressed, but it is difficult to divulge more about his involvement in the story without resorting to spoilers. In some ways, this story is reminiscent of Victory of the Daleks, in that the Daleks get involved with a significant war from Human history, but it has a unique identity that is entirely its own.

Great-Tier Dalek Stories

These audios are in the upper tier of Dalek audios, be they classics that are generally popular or stories that depict the Daleks as the menacing, death-dealing menace that they are. Anyone who is thinking about getting into Big Finish and is a fan of the Daleks would do well to listen to some of these audios first, though there are one or two that are part of wider story arcs – more on that later.

The Apocalypse Element (Dalek Empire Part II)

On a first listen, the plot of The Apocalypse Element seems to be that we are seeing the opening battles of the Time War before the Time War was even created, as this audio was released in 2000 and the Time War wouldn’t become part of Doctor Who lore until Series 1 of the New Series aired in 2005. Romana is President of Gallifrey, though she has been absent from the position for years after she was abducted by the Daleks and held prisoner as they plan to declare a temporal war against the Time Lords and other species that are capable of time travel, including a race called the Monans. This story helps to illustrate the xenophobic and ineffectual nature of Time Lord society when compared to other temporal threats, as they refuse to help other races against the Daleks despite the clear and present threat that the Daleks face to not only the Time Lords, but the entire universe which the Time Lords claim to protect.

The Sixth Doctor and his companion Evelyn become embroiled in this Gallifreyan politics as the Doctor attempts to find the lost planet of Etra Prime, a world that was removed from time and space as part of a Dalek plot to completely destabilise any hope of a temporal treaty between the Time Lords and other races capable of time travel. Romana finally gets to meet the Sixth Doctor, and Lalla Ward and Colin Baker make a fantastic duo that should be utilized more often in Big Finish audios. The Time Lords also make a strong impression in this story, which establishes several concepts and characters which would go on to appear in later Big Finish audios featuring the Time Lords.

This audio establishes some key plot elements for future stories leading up to the Time War, making The Apocalypse Element a great jumping-on point for new listeners who want to experience a good Dalek story that also contains some important plot developments which recur in later Big Finish stories. Even without its continuity connections, however, The Apocalypse Element is a really fun story to listen to, particularly for fans of Romana, and the Daleks themselves make a really strong appearance.

The Mutant Phase (Dalek Empire Part III)

This audio places the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa on a Dalek-occupied Earth in what appears to be an alternate timeline, as there are very few Humans left alive, and the planet appears to be completed overrun with Daleks. However, the Daleks themselves are fighting a new enemy, an enemy that comes from within – the eponymous Mutant Phase. This mutation afflicts Daleks and transforms them into twisted mutations which seek to destroy everything, including other Daleks. In fact, the Dalek Emperor himself is desperate to find a cure for the Mutant Phase, as it threatens to destroy all Dalek life.

This story is famous for its interesting twist near the end, which elevates this audio among other Dalek stories because it doesn’t follow the standard formula that we are used to with Dalek stories at this point. The Daleks themselves make a strong impression in this story, not least because of the wonderful voice acting that Nicholas Briggs does for both the Daleks and the Dalek Emperor. There are some tense moments in this story which keep the listener on the edge of their seat, as the setting of the post-Dalek invaded Earth allows for some great scenes showing how awful the Dalek occupation was for the people living on Earth during their tyrannical ten-year rule.

This story is without a doubt the best Dalek audio story for the Fifth Doctor, and it is tied with The Apocalypse Element for best audio in the Dalek Empire quartet. There are aspects of this story which would reappear in later Dalek audios, such as an insectoid race that comes into conflict with the Daleks would later be explored in Enemy of the Daleks, and the idea of the Doctor returning to Dalek-occupied Earth would also reappear in Masters of Earth. This is perhaps a testament to the number of creative and interesting ideas that The Mutant Phase has in the mix, and it is definitely worth a listen for fans of the Daleks and the Fifth Doctor alike.

Patient Zero

Like Daleks Among Us, Patient Zero requires a fair amount of context to understand the full story. Unlike Daleks Among Us, Patient Zero is still fun to listen to even without this context. This audio pits the Daleks against another alien race, a species that is original to the Big Finish audios called the Viyrans. Charley Pollard is the companion in this story, and like Brotherhood of the Daleks she is paired with the Sixth Doctor. This pairing is one of the most interesting in Big Finish’s history, though unfortunately it does require a bit of context to understand. All the listener really needs to know for this audio is that Charley has encountered the Sixth Doctor after having already met the Eighth Doctor, and so has to conceal a lot from him in order to maintain the integrity of the Web of Time. Unfortunately, this leads to the Sixth Doctor becoming suspicious, as he picks up on the fact that Charley knows things that she really shouldn’t and this leads to some tension between the two.

The plot of Patient Zero revolves around the Daleks attacking the Amethyst Viral Containment Station, which is overseen by a gestalt entity called Fratalin on behalf of the Viyrans. Fratalin is one entity inhabiting eight hundred bodies, and each of these interact with each other as they work together to keep the facility running but can also combine into larger entities when threatened. Pitting the Daleks against two unique adversaries, a gestalt entity and the Viyrans, makes for very interesting listening, and Patient Zero is easily one of the most action-packed Dalek stories on audio. This may be a detrimental factor to those who struggle to visualize the large-scale conflicts when listening to audios, but the sound design is good enough that provided one pays attention to the story it is very straightforward to follow what is going on in the action sequences.

Patient Zero features the debut of a brand new Dalek rank called the Dalek Time Controller. This enigmatic Dalek, whose unique voice is provided by the legendary Nicholas Briggs, is perhaps more well-known for its appearances in the Eighth Doctor Adventures and the subsequent box set Dark Eyes, but it actually makes its debut here. The Dalek Time Controller is a Dalek unlike any other. It has a soft, almost melodic voice, and its demented personality makes it unique even among Dalek commanders. In fact, the Dalek Time Controller is up there among the most unique Daleks that Nicholas Briggs has ever voiced, alongside the likes of the Dalek Emperor and the insane Dalek Caan from the TV series.

The Juggernauts

Arguably one of the most famous of Big Finish’s Dalek audio stories, The Juggernauts is a fun story featuring the Sixth Doctor, Melanie Bush and Davros. The Doctor and Mel are separated and Mel ends up spending months living on a Human colony in the far future, located on the fringe planet of Lethe. There, Davros is posing as Professor Vaso, and has deceived the colonists and Mel into helping him rebuild salvaged Mechonoid carcasses into ‘service robots’ that he calls ‘Juggernauts’. The Sixth Doctor arrives to investigate at the same time that a group of investors from the intergalactic Outreach Corporation attempt to hijack Davros’ work and take the Juggernauts for themselves, all while Daleks stalk the corridors of the colony at night…

The Juggernauts is definitely a fun story, and it is a really good listen. Unfortunately, it is held back from being a great-tier story for a few key reasons. Firstly, there is some less-than-convincing acting from some of the supporting cast in this story, which is a shame because it is rare that this is an issue with Big Finish. From bad accents to apparent disinterest from a couple of the key characters, The Juggernauts can be awkward at times, and this is made worse by the inclusion of a corny love interest for Mel. To be fair though, Mel actually comments on the cheesy pick-up lines at times and her friendship/budding romance with Jeff works for some.

Highlights of this story include the Juggernauts themselves, which sound exactly like the Mechonoids from the classic TV story The Chase, where they fought against the Daleks and were considered as their primary nemesis for a time. Davros himself is also excellent as Terry Molloy is fantastic as always and the guise of Professor Vaso gives Molloy a chance to try something new with the character which is always brilliant. Davros’ Juggernauts are designed to act as the ultimate Dalek killers, as Davros is seemingly going through a crisis of faith in his creations and wants to be rid of them once and for all. The Juggernauts is a great listen, which pits Mel against the Daleks for the first time and gives the Sixth Doctor some fantastic scenes with both the Daleks and Davros.

Terror Firma

This audio is often brought up when discussing the best Dalek audio stories of all time, and for good reason. This audio features the Eighth Doctor go up against Davros, bearing in mind this is post-Remembrance of the Daleks, so there is a lot to discuss between the two characters. The Daleks have conquered Earth, and after subjugating the entire population, they have converted the planet into a giant industrial complex to fuel their war machine. This is also a much stronger outing for the Daleks than The Time of the Daleks was, and Charley knows who and what the Daleks are this time, so she is better prepared to deal with them as she, like the Doctor, is fully informed on how merciless and horrific they can be.

The only thing that brings this audio down is that it is somewhat dependent on prior knowledge of the Eighth Doctor and his timeline, as some of the reveals and big shock-factor moments are reliant on the listener being aware of events that take place in the Eighth Doctor’s recent timeline, not only that but this story also features C’rizz who is a leftover companion from the previous Divergent Universe arc which was prematurely abandoned by Big Finish after the announcement of the New Series back in 2004. Nonetheless, this audio is among the best Dalek stories out there, and there are some fantastic character moments between the Doctor and Davros that call back to their very first meeting back in Genesis of the Daleks without feeling contrived or appearing to retread over old ground.

Terror Firma is certainly an oddity among Dalek audio stories, as it deals with several important plot threads from the wider arc of the audio series in which it is set, but also does a great job of depicting the Daleks as a devastating threat and continuing the plot threads of Remembrance of the Daleks which will be familiar to many listeners. Whilst this technically isn’t the first time that Davros would encounter the Doctor post-Remembrance, Terror Firma does a much better job of continuing the relationship of the two characters after the events of that TV story.

We Are The Daleks

This Seventh Doctor and Mel story showcases many of the Daleks’ most despicable traits, such as their innate abilities in deception, their willingness to subvert and enslave peaceful planets, and their unique understanding of capitalism and political lobbying. That’s right, this audio gives us a Dalek story in which the Daleks not only embrace the standard conniving and back-stabbing of Human politicians, but actively revel in it. This audio takes advantage of the fact that was written and produced after the Eleventh Doctor’s TV era had concluded, and it takes the opportunity to reference several of his Dalek stories such as Victory of the Daleks and Asylum of the Daleks, in some cases providing some much-needed context as to why certain elements of these Dalek stories existed in the first place.

It is fun hearing the Seventh Doctor and Mel take on the Daleks, as Mel never got a chance to face the Daleks on-screen during her time as a TV companion. This story features a sinister video game that has become popular with the population and is suspected by the Doctor to be the product of alien technology, which is similar to a plot used in the Ninth Doctor novel ‘Winner Takes All’, which was a popular Doctor Who novel in the mid-2000s except this audio puts the trademark Dalek spin on this idea.

One of the strongest elements of We Are the Daleks is the depiction of the Daleks’ more deceptive and cunning traits, an aspect of their original characterisation that has been sadly missing from many Dalek TV stories, both classic and modern. The Daleks using capitalism and greed to subvert Human nature and assume control of the planet is a concept that should have been explored on Doctor Who a long time ago, and this audio does a great job of bringing the idea to life. We Are the Daleks is a wonderful insight into how the Daleks can be used as a scheming, malevolent force in a unique and interesting way.

Top-Tier Dalek Stories

These Dalek stories are the best that Big Finish produced for the Main Range, and some of the best Dalek stories in general for that matter.

Enemy of the Daleks

This audio is perhaps the closest we will every get to a Dalek story produced in the 1990s. It shows a war between the Daleks and the Humans of the future with nothing held back, and it is clear that the Humans are critically underpowered when faced with the power of the Dalek fleet. There is a supporting cast of Human characters who provide an interesting take on the Human-Dalek war, a war that they have been catastrophically losing. Unlike the typical Human soldiers from the future that we have seen in Classic Who episodes like Earthshock, these soldiers are decrepit, disillusioned and defeatist, which paints a visceral picture of the sorry state of affairs that the war between the Daleks and the Humans has pushed Humanity and its soldiers.

This audio features Hex, a new companion of the Seventh Doctor who had recently joined him and Ace during a previous story featuring the Cybermen, called The Harvest. The run of stories featuring Hex is known for its more mature and darker interpretation of Doctor Who, and this includes a more mature and darker interpretation of classic Doctor Who villains. The Cybermen were given a horrific re-interpretation in The Harvest, and now Enemy of the Daleks gives the Daleks the same treatment. This is a gritty story, the events of which make Hex begin to question the morality of both the Doctor and Ace and fuel his character growth.

Enemy of the Daleks delivers in numerous levels, with a great story containing lots of great moments from several of the key characters that also happens to be a brilliant Dalek action story which surpasses many other Dalek stories in terms of scope, thrills and stakes. For fans who want to listen to the Daleks at the height of their power in all their ruthless glory, this audio is easily one of the best Dalek audio stories.

Masters of Earth

A unique aspect of Big Finish’s audio dramas is their ability to blend eras of Classic Doctor Who eras together, such as Last of the Cybermen which pairs the Sixth Doctor with Second Doctor companions Jamie and Zoe, and also Masters of Earth, which sees the Sixth Doctor and Peri visit the Dalek-occupied Earth from the era of the First Doctor story The Dalek Invasion of Earth. They arrive in 2163, ten years after the Dalek invasion and one year before the First Doctor is due to save the Earth. As such, the Sixth Doctor is unable to actually save the Earth – instead, he has to evade both the Daleks and the Dalek-oppressed Human population in order to protect Peri.

This audio has a wonderful dystopian, post-apocalyptic vibe that is perfect for a story set during the Dalek invasion of Earth. This audio seems to have been inspired by incredible sci-fi classics like Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, and in more ways than one – between the killer plants and the desperate, ruined society that the Humans now find themselves in, it is clear to see what inspired this particularly grim story. The fact that the Doctor is unable to resolve the immediate danger of the Dalek invasion makes the situation of this story seem even more hopeless, all he can do is try to save Peri from threat after threat without doing too much to alter the established timeline of events.

Another interesting aspect of this audio is that this is one of Peri’s first adventures with the Sixth Doctor post-Mindwarp, so there is a genuine sense of threat when Peri is in danger as there is no guarantee that she will get out alive. The Doctor has to reaffirm Peri’s trust in him after the two have spent years separated from each other, and this adds a whole new layer to this story. This story is a must-listen for fans of the Sixth Doctor and Peri and is definitely one of the best Dalek stories in Big Finish’s Monthly Adventures.

Order of the Daleks

If the cover art isn’t enough to catch the attention of fans, Order of the Daleks promises much with the idea of the Daleks stranded on a primitive world without their advanced technology, forcing them to resort to extreme measures in order to survive. Order of the Daleks does something with the Daleks that had never been done before at the time, and oddly enough the recent Thirteenth Doctor TV story Resolution uses a similar idea. After crashing on the planet of Strellin and infiltrating the local monastery, the Daleks are able to take control of the Brotherhood of the Black Petal and use the artistic capabilities of their monks to construct new casings, made from stained-glass.

In the meantime, the Sixth Doctor and new companion Constance Clarke land on the planet, and have to team up with a pair of assessors from the Galactic Census Bureau, who are investigating the incursion of an extraterrestrial force. Strellin is a protected planet with no technology, and the lengths to which the Daleks have gone to survive on this medieval planet are both horrifying and fascinating to listen to. The Sixth Doctor and Constance are a great pair, and both of them get lots of great character moments in this story. For potential listeners who have never seen or listened to a Sixth Doctor story before, Order of the Daleks is a great jumping-on point that does a good job of illustrating the mellowed-out and much improved character of the Sixth Doctor that Big Finish have created for their audio stories.

Of all the Dalek stories in the Main Range, Order of the Daleks is by far one of the most memorable. Everything from characters like Assessor Pendle and Asta who make an immediate impression, to the Monks in the monastery who are accompanied by their own atmospheric sound design, to the Daleks themselves, who are members of the Emperor’s Personal Guard and as such have abilities beyond that of ordinary Daleks. All of these elements make this story one of the best Dalek stories in the Main Range.

Jubilee

At last we reach the all-time best Dalek audio. How fitting it is that the audio that was later adapted into Dalek, one of the best TV Dalek stories, also happens to be the best Dalek audio story. Jubilee was written by Rob Shearman, who demonstrates his understanding of the Daleks and his incredible abilities in storytelling with this truly stupendous audio story. The Sixth Doctor and Evelyn land in England in 2003, but there is something very wrong. The pair discover that they played a critical role in defeating the Daleks one hundred years prior in 1903, and as a result this has created an alternate timeline in which the ‘English Empire’ has conquered most of the world and worships the Daleks in a sort of love-hate relationship, revering them for their power and yet also hating them for their attempt to destroy the Human race. Movies starring action-hero bastardisations of the Doctor and Evelyn are popular media, Daleks are used as a merchandising tool, and the fascist regime under which England is run owns a single living Dalek trapped in a prison cell that is scheduled to be destroyed on the one hundredth anniversary of the Daleks’ defeat in order to appease the bloodthirsty population.

The Doctor and Evelyn must contend with the deranged President and his insane wife, while intrigue surrounding the impending Jubilee celebration eventually leads to the Dalek being set free. Having said that, this audio is defined by its ability to present situations that are not what they seem, and it is honestly best to listen to this one in its entirety because it really is one of the best Big Finish audios from their early era, and easily the best Dalek audio of the Main Range. Few Big Finish audios attempt to establish individual Daleks as major characters, but this one not only makes you sympathise with the Dalek character in the story, it almost has you rooting for the Dalek as it comes to terms with its role as the last survivor of its species in a world that has been created out of a twisted reverence of the Dalek Empire.

Jubilee is almost unique among Dalek stories in that it is an excellent story with a chilling premise that would not work with any monster other than the Daleks, and it is no wonder that it is considered by many to be the best Dalek audio story of all time, and perhaps even one of the best Dalek stories of all time including the TV stories. The Sixth Doctor is great is this story, which makes it a good jumping-on point for listeners, and there are some wonderful character moments with Evelyn throughout this story which make her a likeable character and a great choice of companion for this story. Above all, however, the Daleks are presented excellently in this story – cold, calculating, manipulative, merciless, ruthless and eager for conquest. The brilliant thing about this story, however, is that it shows us just how destructive the Dalek ideology is, even to species other than the Daleks. Jubilee is an audio story that can be listened to over and over again and is captivating on each and every listen, and it is easily the best Dalek story in Big Finish’s Main Range.

Conclusion

That was a lot of Dalek audios, but we have finally reached the end of our list of the Big Finish Dalek audio stories ranked for worst to best. There are many other great Dalek audio stories that Big Finish have produced that aren’t part of the Main Range, such as Blood of the Daleks, and other Main Range audios that relate to the Daleks but do not feature them, such as Davros. Which Dalek audio story is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Doctor Who – How did the Daleks Survive the Time War?

The Daleks are the Doctor’s most fearsome enemies, and are well-known for their brutality, their ingenuity and above all, their survivability. The Daleks have survived everything from an attempt by a temporal race of demi-gods to avert their creation to a civil war that rendered the surface of their home-world a charred cinder, but one conflict that the Daleks seemingly could not escape was the Time War.

This huge temporal conflict saw the Daleks fight an all-out war with the Time Lords, a war that would destroy the Dalek race and leave only a few scattered survivors, including the Emperor and the Cult of Skaro. One by one, however, these survivors would be killed, usually due to the intervention of the Doctor.

The last Dalek drone known as the Metaltron would kill itself after absorbing Human DNA, as we see in the episode Dalek. In the Series 1 finale The Parting of the Ways we see that the Emperor Dalek was killed trying to invade Earth in the year 200,100. Finally, in Evolution of the Daleks, all but one member of the Cult of Skaro would die during the disastrous Final Experiment in New York in the 1930s.

The last member of the Cult of Skaro, Dalek Caan, went back into the Time War to rescue Davros and rebuild a New Dalek Empire, but in the process he saw the Dalek race for what it was and in the Series 4 finale Journey’s End we learn that we decided to wipe his own kind out, engineering the destruction of Davros’ empire to apparently ensure a final end for the Daleks.

However, just like every ‘final end’ the Daleks had suffered so far, the destruction of Davros’ empire would prove to not be the end of the Daleks, as three surviving Daleks would go on to uncover a lost Dalek Progenitor and create a New Dalek Paradigm, as seen in Series 5’s Victory of the Daleks. The new breed of Daleks created from the Progenitor would escape via time travel and begin rebuilding the Dalek Empire.

Exactly what happens next for the Daleks is a bit murky because each episode they feature in seems to tell its own story in terms of what the Daleks do next. The Paradigm Daleks essentially disappear after Series 7’s Asylum of the Daleks, and now the Daleks have established a Parliament, perhaps in order to keep peace. The Magician’s Apprentice implies that Davros has rebuilt a new Dalek race on Skaro, though the Dalek City is later destroyed.

Other Dalek appearances are even stranger. The fact that Bronze Daleks are attacking the Movellans in Series 10’s The Pilot seems to indicate that the Daleks are either interfering with their own history or resuming their past conflicts with post-Time War vigor. The fact that various Classic Daleks are present in the Asylum and Davros’ Dalek City on Skaro would seem to indicate some kind of temporal shenanigans, but it is unclear exactly what they are up to.

Other recent appearances for the Daleks in episodes like Into the Dalek, Resolution and Revolution of the Daleks state that the Daleks have a roaming fleet that serves as their headquarters, and as the Dalek saucer that was destroyed in The Time of the Doctor was apparently the Dalek Parliament, it could be that now the Daleks are ‘between empires’ at the moment and are instead rampaging around the Galaxy in a nomadic fleet. We can only wait and see what the future holds for the Daleks, but needless to say that after surviving the fires of the Time War they are now here to stay – and are more powerful than ever.

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Doctor Who – What Happened to Rusty?

As the focus of the second episode of Series 8, Into the Dalek, Rusty was a one-of-a-kind, a character that initially seemed like it could be the universe’s only example of a Dalek that was morally good. That is, until the Twelfth Doctor discovered that it was simply suffering a malfunction, cured the problem, and instead accidentally taught Rusty to hate the Daleks. At the end of Into the Dalek, we see Rusty leave for parts unknown, but what happened to this unique Dalek?

Escaping the Dalek Fleet

At the end of Into the Dalek, Rusty leaves the Human hospital ship Aristotle and joins the rest of his kind in their saucer, and he then presumably stays undercover until he reaches a strategic position. Interestingly, early drafts for Into the Dalek depict Rusty self-destructing to destroy the saucer in a manner similar to the Metaltron from Dalek, though this was cut from the final episode.

What we do know is that Rusty would survive and live among for the Daleks for a while before defecting and waging an unending war against his own race. Rusty would go on to destroy countless Daleks, and he became somewhat of a legend both among his own people and in the wider universe in general. According to the Twelfth Doctor, Rusty would go on to live for billions of years, slaughtering Daleks and becoming a quasi-mythical figure.

Waging War against the Daleks

After meeting the First Doctor in Twice Upon a Time, the Twelfth Doctor would eventually reunite with Rusty after travelling to his fortress on Villengard. Rusty has clearly been busy since his last encounter with the Doctor, as there are dead Daleks strewn around the entrance to his tower, and he has been living there for so long that the scattered Dalek survivors have adapted to live outside their casings and latch onto the faces of humanoids in order to feed, implying that Rusty had been there for hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions.

A former weapons production facility, Villengard was perfect for Rusty’s purposes, and he not only installed himself atop a tower with external weapons, but he also tapped into huge Dalek databases in a bid to become one of the most intelligent life forms in the universe. The Doctor would tap into this knowledge to learn more information about the Testimony, eventually discovering its benevolent nature. The Twelfth Doctor was then teleported away and Rusty is left alone once again.

Rusty’s Future

Twice Upon a Time is the last time we see Rusty, so what he gets up to after this and what eventually becomes of this Dalek is unknown. His unending hatred of the Daleks that has lasted for billions of years will undoubtedly motivate Rusty to continue his crusade against his own kind, and perhaps he will appear in a story in the future and shed some light on how he has managed to evade destruction and wreak havoc on the Daleks for so long.

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Doctor Who – What is the Cult of Skaro?

In all of Dalek history there are few individual Daleks save perhaps the Emperor himself who can claim to be as important or influential as the Cult of Skaro, as they are some of the most interesting Dalek characters ever created and were the first Daleks to reappear across multiple episodes. These four Daleks were created by Russell T. Davies for the Series 2 finale Army of Ghosts / Doomsday and went on to become the first individual Daleks to have names and unique personalities.

We are introduced to the Cult of Skaro during the climactic cliff-hanger ending of Army of Ghosts and their names and personalities are expanded on more in Doomsday, in which they are revealed to have escaped the Time War in a Void Ship along with a mysterious Time Lord artefact called the Genesis Ark. These four Daleks are capable of imagination, something that most standard Daleks lack, and as such they are able to out-think their enemies and made exceptional tacticians during the Time War.

Each member of the Cult can be identified in several ways. The first and most difficult way of identifying each member is by their unique tag located underneath their eyestalk, as in theory each Cult member has an associated tag that is printed onto their prop. Unfortunately, however, during filming of the two main episodes in which the Cult of Skaro appear, the props were routinely switched up, sometimes even between shots, so this method is all but useless in practicality.

The easiest way to tell the Cult members apart is by their voices, as Dalek voice actor Nicholas Briggs gave each member of the Cult their own unique voice and personality. Dalek Sec has a standard Dalek voice with an authoritative tone, Dalek Caan’s voice is very deep and rasping, Dalek Thay has a low-pitched voice with a nasal croak, and Dalek Jast has a high-pitched, staccato voice with a very fast line delivery.

Dalek Sec is easily identifiable. But can you tell the other three apart?

Who is Dalek Jast?

Jast is perhaps the least developed member of the Cult, as he has the fewest lines of the group and does not get any notable scenes on his own. He is the Dalek that first notices that the Doctor is present at Torchwood by analysing the communication with the Cyber-Leader, and he is seemingly the one in charge of directing where the Genesis Ark should move.

Dalek Jast’s greatest claim to fame is assisting Dalek Caan in the aerial attack on Hooverville in Evolution of the Daleks, and then later accompanying Dalek Thay to the theatre where he is later killed by the Human-Dalek hybrids. Jast is identifiable by his high-pitched voice and fast, energetic line delivery. Dalek Jast’s reserved nature is due to more than just Nick Briggs wanting to minimize the amount of squeaky Dalek dialogue, however, as Jast comes across as one who only comments when he feels his eye for detail is necessary, to voice a concern that the other members of the Cult may have missed.

Who is Dalek Thay?

Thay is the most prominent Cult member early on, as he is the first of the group to be introduced by name and is also the Dalek that starts the war with the Cybermen in Doomsday. He is identified by his medium-pitched voice that has a distinct nasal croak, and he is often the first Cult member to speak his mind during group discussions.

After starting the war with the Cybermen, Thay doesn’t do much for the rest of Doomsday, but he becomes prominent again in Daleks in Manhattan as he is the Dalek who sacrifices his three back panels for the Final Experiment, making him the only Cult of Skaro member other than Sec who can be easily identified from a distance.

After spending most of the two-parter skulking around in the sewers, Dalek Thay accidentally kills the hybrid Dalek Sec before being destroyed by the Human-Daleks. Overall, Dalek Thay is quick to voice his mind and also quick to fire his weapon, and this more often than not ends up getting the Cult into fights, either with the Cybermen or with the Human-Dalek hybrids, which eventually ends up getting Thay killed.

Dalek Thay’s missing back panels are clearly visible in this shot

Who is Dalek Caan?

Caan gets only one line in Doomsday, his booming announcement of his own name. As the Cult member with the deepest voice, Nicholas Briggs chose to limit Caan’s lines early on when voicing the Daleks, but in Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks Caan becomes more prominent.

He is the Dalek who liasons with Mr Diagoras on behalf of the Cult, and in Daleks in Manhattan he laments that his planet has been destroyed and that the Daleks must now look to the Humans for inspiration. It seems as though he is in favour of the Final Experiment at first, as he does not participate in the debate before Sec absorbs Diagoras and he later gives the speech about the Daleks needing to evolve in the climax of the story before the Hybrid emerges.

Caan clearly begins to show doubts about Sec, and he even asks Dalek Thay if he shares those feelings in a great little scene between the two in one of the sewer corridors. The two Daleks guiltily swapping treasonous thoughts in what passes as a Dalek whisper illustrates how the Cult members are more individual and less drone-like than standard Daleks. Caan eventually takes over the Cult when the other members deem Sec to be inferior, designating himself Controller.

Dalek Caan’s voice changes from deep to high-pitched when he takes on the role of Controller in Evolution of the Daleks, as Nicholas Briggs wanted to take advantage of Caan’s new role to justify a voice change. Dalek Caan was given a guttural, rasping voice in Doomsday because he had only one line, but Briggs began to find the voice difficult to maintain after the extended conversations between Caan and Diagoras followed by a speech Caan gives to Martha and the other Humans in Daleks in Manhattan.

After being left as the final surviving Cult member at the end of Evolution of the Daleks, Caan goes insane when he rescues Davros from the Time War. Seeing the Daleks for what they truly are, Caan betrays Davros by instigating the fall of the New Dalek Empire in Journey’s End.

Who is Dalek Sec?

Arguably the most famous member of the Cult of Skaro, Sec is immediately recognizable because of his jet black casing that sets him apart from the other Daleks. Sec is the one who exchanges verbal quips with the Cyber-Leader over the comms in Doomsday in an iconic scene which illustrates his razor-sharp wit and sense of humour, which is unusual for a Dalek, even a high-ranking one. After losing the Battle of Canary Wharf, Sec and the other members of the Cult travel to 1930s’ New York and there Sec merges with the Human Diagoras and becomes the Dalek Sec Hybrid.

Evolution of the Daleks deals with Sec coming to terms with his Human emotions following his transformation, and he eventually develops into a kind and pacifistic man who genuinely wants to save the Daleks from their constant cycle of death and destruction. The other Daleks see Sec as impure, however, and betray him. Sec is demoted and treated as little more than a pet by the Daleks, but he continues in his efforts to convince them to change their ways. In the end, Sec sacrifices himself to save the Doctor’s life by standing in the way of a blast from Dalek Thay that was meant for the Doctor, proving in the end that he was a good man despite his Dalek nature.

Before his death, Dalek Sec tells his Daleks that their efforts to spread death and destruction will inevitably turn against them, and he is proven right mere minutes after his death as the remaining Human-Dalek hybrids choose to turn against their masters and destroy Dalek Thay and Dalek Jast, leaving Dalek Caan as the last surviving member of the Cult.

Why were the Cult of Skaro created?

According to Dalek Sec during his conversation with the Doctor in Doomsday, the Cult of Skaro was created by the Emperor in the latter years of the Time War to ensure the survival of the Dalek race at all costs by imagining new ways to survive. This explains why Dalek Sec is willing to go to such extreme lengths during the two stories in which he appears as he risks corrupting the timeline by invading 21st century London, and then he chooses to alter Dalek DNA during the Final Experiment.

The creation of the Cult of Skaro proves how desperate the Dalek Emperor was getting towards the end of the Time War, as the Cult are given authority above anything within the existing Dalek hierarchy and Dalek Sec uses this authority to justify the radical alterations to Dalek DNA during the Final Experiment. The other members of the Cult are less convinced that Humans are a species that Daleks should learn from, but we already know that the Emperor himself reached the same conclusion.

The Daleks created by the so-called ‘God of all Daleks’ that we see in Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways are created from cells harvested from Human bodies, and the Dalek Emperor builds an entire army of impure, Human-bred Daleks that he uses to invade Earth. Whilst the Emperor is clearly insane, it is interesting to note that Dalek Sec and the Emperor both reach similar conclusions of how to perpetuate the Dalek race.

What Happened to the Cult of Skaro?

Following the disastrous Final Experiment, three members of the Cult of Skaro were dead and the last surviving member of the group, Dalek Caan, was sent hurtling into the Time War by his own Emergency Temporal Shift. Caan intended to rescue Davros and save the Dalek race, but in the process of falling through the Time War the last member of the Cult of Skaro saw his race for what they were – genocidal killers.

Caan chose to rebel against the Daleks and eventually brought about the downfall of Davros’ new Dalek Empire by tricking his creator into gathering the Doctor and his friends on the Crucible to ensure the Daleks’ destruction. Caan was presumed killed during the destruction of the Dalek Crucible but Davros suffered the same fate and was later revealed to be still alive, leading many to question if Caan did truly die.

Whether Caan died in the fires of the Crucible or not, it is safe to say that the Cult of Skaro itself is dead. Their ultimate goal was to out-think their enemies by imagining, but unfortunately their imagination made them enemies of each other. Both Dalek Sec and Dalek Caan both individually reach the conclusion that the Dalek way of life is wrong, and the two members of the Cult who remained loyal Daleks to the end, Thay and Jast, were destroyed by their own hubris.

The Cult of Skaro arc is probably one of the most insightful Dalek storylines both for fans and potential writers for the show, as it not only delves into an interesting aspect of Dalek lore, but it also illustrates the folly of the Dalek race as each member of the Cult is destroyed by their efforts to either uphold or influence Dalek doctrine.

Why did the Cult of Skaro fail?

Although Dalek Thay and Dalek Jast make the point that the Final Experiment was contrary to Dalek doctrine and would ultimately have weakened them, the fact that the other Daleks in the Cult of Skaro chose to use their powers of imagination to rebel against Sec exposes the fatal flaw in the very concept of the Cult of Skaro, in that four Daleks with the power to imagine will inevitably turn on each other when any one of them imagines something a bit too far outside the Dalek sphere of thought.

The ultimate tragedy of the Cult of Skaro is that the only two Daleks of the four to actually utilize their imagination to the extent that they break free of Dalek conditioning only manage to do so once they are corrupted in the eyes of other Daleks. Dalek Sec becomes a compassionate man by fusing his DNA with Humans but is cast out by his comrades as a result. Dalek Caan learns the truth of the Dalek race but in doing so is blinded and deemed an insane abomination by the Supreme Dalek.

Into the Dalek would later give us a natural evolution of the Cult of Skaro, the essence of the two best Daleks of the Cult galvanized into one Dalek. Rusty experiences similar epiphanies to Dalek Sec and Dalek Caan, in that he learns the value of humanoid life and also fosters a growing hatred of other Daleks. However, Rusty retains his Dalek casing and weapons, and is able to not only rebel against his own kind but also establish his own sanctuary on Villengard, slaughtering any Daleks that come to destroy him.

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Custom Classic Series Daleks – Part 3

As Character Options are slowly releasing History of the Daleks figure double-packs in B&M that each contain two Daleks from each classic episode from The Daleks to The Daleks’ Master Plan, it is only a matter of time before all the Classic Dalek stories are represented in figure form, so there is no better time for me to showcase my collection of Custom Classic Daleks before they become completely superfluous. On the upside, having all these Classic Daleks out on the shelf does mean that the History of the Daleks sets can be kept mint in box. These Daleks have been customised to resemble Daleks from the classic stories Destiny of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks, and each one started out life as a more common classic Dalek figure before being modified and painted to stand in for rarer Dalek figures that are not commonly available at the moment.

Custom Destiny of the Daleks Drone 1

Although Destiny of the Daleks is far from being my favourite classic Dalek story, (it is in fact my least favourite classic Dalek story) the unique light-grey colour schemes of the Drones make customs inspired by Destiny of the Daleks particularly interesting. The oddly bright grey base coupled with the huge variety in detailing on each individual Dalek definitely makes ‘Destiny‘ Daleks stand out from the crowd, which is ironic given how shoddy the Dalek props looked in this story. By the time Destiny of the Daleks was filmed, most Dalek props owned by the BBC had been rotting away in a storage for years, and this coupled with some particularly poorly-made stand-in props makes the Daleks in this story look shoddier than one of my early customs, meaning that despite the occasional paint errors on these customs they actually look better than the Daleks they are based on.

Custom Destiny of the Daleks Drone 2

This Dalek showcases the variety in paint detailing on the original Destiny of the Daleks props, as the previous Dalek had black slats but this one has the slats, mesh between the slats, the front circle and the band around the midsection all painted black, perhaps because this Dalek is a higher rank (though the episode doesn’t bring attention to this). Citadel paint was used for the grey base, black detailing and white dry-brushing on the mesh, and the glossy effect on the hemispheres was achieved using a black Promarker pen. Unlike the previous custom, in which the dome lights are coloured orange with Sharpee, this Dalek has dome lights that are painted block orange, it is up to you which looks best. Unfortunately, due to the paint used for this custom, a degree of the articulation had to be sacrificed as the ball joints are painted over which locks them in place.

Custom Necros Dalek 1

Unlike Destiny of the Daleks, which had a combination of shoddy old props and poorly-made newer ones, Revelation of the Daleks was lucky in that the old Dalek props had been recently refurbished for the previous story, Resurrection of the Daleks, and several new props were made to represent Davros’ new faction of Daleks being built on Necros. They are essentially standard Daleks but with an Imperial Dalek colour scheme, and that is exactly what this custom is representing. White gloss paint was used for the base and gold, metallic Citadel paint was used for the detailing on the neck grille, slat meshes, gunstick, manipulator arm and hemispheres. This Dalek started out as an Emperor’s Guard, meaning it is actually a 1960s Dalek with the base replaced. Unfortunately, the dome lights and eyestalk rings are innaccurate to actual Necros Daleks. Some artistic licence that I took with this particular custom was that I painted the neck grille gold, whereas on actual Necros Daleks (including my other Necros customs) the grille is black. This Dalek could also double as one of Davros’ guards on Lethe from the Big Finish audio, The Juggernauts.

Custom Necros Dalek 2

Like the previous custom, this 1960s Dalek base has been heavily modified with spares in order to resemble the base of a Necros Dalek. The dome has been replaced so the dome lights are accurate this time, but unfortunately the eyestalk is still slightly innaccurate as 1960s Daleks have the rings pushed forward to just behind the eye, whereas later Dalek props from the 1970s onwards have the rings pushed back to be more in the middle of the eyestalk. Aside from that, this Necros Dalek is a bit more accurate that the previous one, and like the previous one it has been painted using white gloss for the body, gold metallic Citadel paint for the detailing and black paint for the base. One final finishing touch on both of these Daleks was the addition of the dot in the eye, as the 1960s Daleks lacked this feature. I applied this using a very precise, tiny ink applicator to ensure that the pupil was tiny and perfectly rounded.

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Custom Classic Series Daleks – Part 2

Although Character Options are releasing Classic Dalek figures for each episode in order, it seems as though it will be years before we get the complete collection of Classic Dalek figures. As such, we have bolstered the ranks of our Classic Dalek figure collection with some custom figures, each of which have been created using Daleks from the Dalek Collectors’ Set #2, which was extremely common several years ago, and from which many Dalek spares and customs have been created from. This set included the Saucer Commander Dalek from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Emperor’s Guard Dalek from The Evil of the Daleks, and the Supreme Dalek from Day of the Daleks.

Custom Planet of the Daleks Drone

This first custom uses the Supreme Dalek from Day of the Daleks, which uses the same basic mould as many other Daleks from the 1970s era of the show. For this custom I used more matt colours compared to other Dalek figures released in this mould, in an attempt to emulate the matt grey colours of the Daleks from Planet of the Daleks. The Drones in this story take extra care to be stealthy, and as such it makes sense that the would use dark, matt colours. This figure was painted using Citadel paints and the detailing on the hemispheres was done using a Pro Marker pen. The glossy finish on the hemispheres makes an excellent contrast with the matt finish on the casing, and the metallic silver finish on the eyestalk and manipulator arm stand out on this figure.

Custom Planet of the Daleks Supreme

This custom is much more elaborate than the previous one, and was created using the pieces from several Daleks. The base of this Dalek is from a Drone from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but the body is an Emperor’s Guard Dalek from The Evil of the Daleks, which I repainted with black paint and detailed with bright gold. The actual Supreme Dalek from Planet of the Daleks was created using mismatched Dalek prop parts from Terry Nation’s private collection, so this method of construction is surprisingly appropriate. The large light pieces are actually LEDs which have been painted pinkish-purple, and the eyestalk has been painted white with a red light to emulate the Supreme Dalek’s illuminated eyestalk. Hopefully this Dalek will be released as part of the History of the Daleks sets from B&M, but until then it is only available as a rare collectible from the elusive Dalek Collectors’ Set #1.

Custom Death to the Daleks Drone

This Dalek is another custom made from the Day of the Daleks Supreme, except this custom is far more detailed. The Gold and Black colour scheme has been replaced with the distinctive Silver and Black design of the Daleks from Death to the Daleks. In order to create this custom, a complete disassembly of the figure was required as each piece of the neck rings and the midsection had to be painted independently with Citadel paint. Each section of the Dalek required multiple coats of paint to ensure the silver coat had full consistency. The dome lights were coloured using orange Pro Marker, and the eyestalk and gunstick have been recoloured to resemble the unique colour scheme of the Death to the Daleks drones.

Custom Genesis of the Daleks Drone

Perhaps one of the most iconic Dalek designs of them all, the distinctive gunmetal-grey colour scheme of Genesis of the Daleks is not to be underestimated. This custom was created using the Day of the Daleks Supreme, painted over with a gunmetal grey paint from Citadel with the detailing painted over with silver. This Dalek is meant to resemble the one that exterminates Davros and assumes the role of Dalek Prime, or Dalek Supreme, at the conclusion of Genesis of the Daleks. The silver pieces between the slats on the midsection are the giveaway artistic licence on this figure, as the majority of the Daleks from this story have a completely monochrome design, but the silver slats helps differentiate this particular Dalek from its subordinates.

Custom Classic Series Daleks – Part 1

Welcome to this showcase of my custom Classic Series Dalek figures, all of which are hand-painted and depict various types of Dalek from several episodes of the Classic Series aired in the 1960s. These Daleks are custom repaints of common Dalek figures that are made to represent less common Dalek figures. The vast majority of these Classic Daleks were donated to me in a damaged state, with scuffed paint and often missing appendages. I was able to create a small number of intact Classic Daleks (as in, featuring all three main appendages) using spare eyestalks, gunsticks and plungers collected from all of the Classic Daleks I have acquired over time.

These Daleks are constantly being updated and amended as time goes on, but I have photographed them in their current state as they are all at least presentable in their current state, though there are some that I am quite happy with as they are and will likely not require much modification.

Custom The Dalek Invasion of Earth Drone

This figure was made using a standard The Dalek Invasion of Earth Saucer Pilot Dalek from the Dalek Collectors Set #2, a recurring source of Daleks for customs based on this episode. The figure was spray-painted silver, apart from the base which was spray-painted black, and the cyan colour scheme was added using Citadel paint and a fine brush. A permanent marker was also used for the detailing on the eyestalk and the manipulator arm. This cyan colour scheme is unique to Series 9, and is not present on the standard Dalek figure from The Dalek Invasion of Earth. However, the cyan on the midsection does help to break up the colour scheme a bit.

Custom The Dalek Invasion of Earth Supreme

Like the previous custom, this Dalek was a Saucer Pilot from the Collectors Set #2 only this time it has been customised to depict the Supreme Dalek from The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Ironically, the Saucer Pilot only exists due to the fact that the Supreme Dalek prop was not finished when the episode in which the Saucer Pilot appeared was due to air, but the partly-painted prop was included anyway, thus the Saucer Pilot rank was born. Ironically, in creating this Supreme Dalek custom using a Saucer Pilot, I completed the half-finished paint job that has been immortalised in figure form. The end result is particularly striking – Supreme Daleks are usually decorated with the best colour schemes and this one from The Dalek Invasion of Earth is no exceptional. It is no wonder this particular type of Dalek was chosen for inclusion in the recent History of the Daleks #2 Collectors Set.

Custom The Daleks’ Master Plan Supreme

This figure was originally an Emperor’s Guard Dalek from the Collectors Set #2, but it has been modified to resemble the Supreme Dalek from The Daleks’ Master Plan. Although this Dalek has been depicted as red in some sources, the prop has been confirmed to have been black, and presumably that is the colour it was intended to be. This custom has gone through several iterations, as although the darker blue hemispheres shown in these photos are the same as those on my other The Daleks’ Master Plan customs, I later decided that the hemispheres looked too deep a blue compared to the skirt, so I repainted them with a lighter cyan colour which contrasts with the skirt much better.

Custom The Chase Guard Dalek

This custom is a heavily modified Dalek Saucer Pilot, albeit with the chunky section of the base removed and the figure itself heavily modified with blue Citadel paint on the dome and hemispheres and gold Citadel paint on the midsection. A genuine version of this figure exists, though it is extremely rare, having only been released once as part of the SFX Daleks line. The paint applications are the same as that of a Dalek from the movie Doctor Who and The Daleks, although the ear lights and base are more in line with the Daleks from the Classic TV series. I used blue and gold Citadel paint for the detailing, though the blue paint is slightly darker than that of the Doctor Who and The Daleks Drones, and the gunstick is technically incorrect as this figure retains the gunstick used by the Daleks in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Dark Eyes 4

The Dark Eyes saga draws to a close to a final series of audios that tie up several loose ends from the previous sets. After the departure of Molly O’Sullivan at the end of Rule of the Eminence, Liv Chenka has now taken over as the Eighth Doctor’s main companion having had several adventures with him in previous audios. In many respects Dark Eyes 4 is somewhat of a farewell tour for the saga, as unfortunately Ruth Bradley was unavailable so Molly is recast and the story shifts its focus away from her for perhaps the first time, and this is arguably for the best as it allows for some much-needed development of the Doctor and Liv’s relationship.

4.1 – A Life in the Day

After being utilised as a substitute companion until Molly’s departure, Liv Chenka finally gets a chance to develop as a character in her own right in A Life in the Day, which provides a refreshing change from the usual fast-paced antics of the series by opting to tell a small-scale story about death and time travel. The Eighth Doctor is taking care of the brother of one of Molly’s old friends, as he detects some temporal machinations in his house and is intrigued. Liv, in the meantime, gets some light-hearted scenes out on a date to a cinema and a restaurant in a period of Earth’s history that, for her, is ancient history.

Stories about temporal shenanigans are always interesting, and this one is no exception. The concise runtime allows for tight pacing that ensures that not a moment is wasted, and the small cast allows for a sharp focus on the story with some great character interactions that are brought to life beautifully by the cast. Nicola Walker finally gets a chance to show her range as an actress after being limited to a mostly supporting role in most of her stories up until this point, and although this isn’t her first audio as the Doctor’s only companion, it is the first of her audios to truly focus on her in the way that a Doctor Who story utilises a companion, and as such Liv is finally given the character focus that she deserves.

The story itself is a poignant one that makes this a really memorable opening story for Dark Eyes 4. Of all the Dark Eyes box sets, this one probably has the strongest opener as it not only sets up some plot points that will be picked up in later stories but it also proves that Big Finish can still deliver impactful standalone stories that utilise the best elements of Doctor Who in new ways. This audio keeps the references to surrounding Dark Eyes stories to a minimum so it is easy to listen to as a one-off story, which is great because A Life in a Day is easily one of the best offering in the Dark Eyes saga, particularly because it leads directly into the next story, another of the best stories in the Dark Eyes series:

4.2 – The Monster of Montmartre

A classic Dalek romp that harks back to The Great War from the first Dark Eyes box set by using the Daleks as a sinister creepy threat operating behind the scenes and exterminating people from the shadows, The Monster of Montmartre is probably the best Dalek story in the Dark Eyes series. The Daleks haven’t featured since Eyes of the Master despite being heavily involved in the marketing for the saga, but they have a strong presence here which is made clear right from the pre-credits sequence, which showcases the fantastic sound design that Big Finish is known for. The use of the Daleks as a sinister force that operates from the shadows is rare among Doctor Who stories, so that along makes The Monster of Montmartre stand out from other Dalek stories.

The Doctor and Liv are in Paris, still in 1921 after the events of the previous audio. Upon arriving, they soon discover that there is a monster stalking the streets of Montmartre. This audio tells a story that is sinister in several ways, one of which being that the alluring atmosphere of the entertainment in Paris at the time seduces young destitute artists into bars and nightclubs, such as the ‘Red Pagoda’, actually a damaged Dalek ship that has replaced the Moulin Rouge, which is run by the mysterious Madame Adelaine Dutemps, a creation and puppet of the Daleks.

The intrigue and mystery of this audio culminates in an encounter with the Dalek Time Controller, damaged and isolated after his last encounter with the Doctor, who is converting humans into ramshackle Daleks from within the Red Pagoda. The Dalek Time Controller decides to create a council of Dalek Time Strategists, who become important to the Dalek Empire much later on during the Time War, and the Time Controller also mentions that the Dalek Paradigm from Victory of the Daleks is causing the Dalek timeline to fluctuate, a nice touch. There is also a fantastic scene towards the end between Liv and the Dalek Time Controller that is by far the best scene in the whole audio.

4.3 – Master of the Daleks

Featuring one of the best cold opens of any Doctor Who audio drama, Master of the Daleks sets its bar high, featuring the Daleks, the Master and the Sontarans in the penultimate audio in what has essentially been a 16-part space opera saga. Unfortunately, however, this audio immediately jumps to two well-known tropes of the Eighth Doctor audios – expositional dialogue, and the Doctor suffering from amnesia. There are some humorous scenes due to this situation as the Doctor mistakes a Dalek for one of his companions, but it cannot be denied that at this point the amnesiac Eighth Doctor trope has become a tired, worn-out trait of the character that only exists due to the bizarre plot of the TV Movie and has plagued the Eighth Doctor’s era ever since.

The main plot of this audio is interesting, as the Master and the Dalek Time Controller team up to take over Earth, Sontar and a significant portion of the Galaxy using a combined Dalek-Sontaran army. Naturally, this alliance is an uneasy one at best. Alex Macqueen’s Master seems to be great at playing off other villains, one of the things that makes him so great in the Monthly Adventures story The Two Masters, and this is never more true than here as Macqueen and Nick Briggs work really well together. The character of the Time Controller is capable of a lot more expression than a standard Dalek, so this audio has room for some great dialogue between the two characters.

The obvious elephant in the room with this audio is that Molly is recast, having aged several years and now living in the Dalek-occupied timeline working as a nurse in a worker camp. Molly, now called Mary Carter, is played by Sorcha Cusak who does a great job playing the character. Dan Starkey also features in this audio, and does a great job playing all the Sontaran characters who battle with the Daleks at the end in a climatic conflict that requires some broad imagination to picture but is exciting nonetheless. A battle between the Daleks, the Master and the Sontarans is a fan’s dream come true, and Master of the Daleks does a great job of realising this concept in the best possible way without straying too far into the realm of confusing plotlines.

4.4 – Eye of Darkness

Despite the bizarre title (‘Dark Eyes: Eye of Darkness’) this audio presents some really interesting ideas for a story, such as a damaged and desperate Dalek commander trying to herd prisoner while also maintaining its casing’s structural integrity, and a planet dedicated to providing a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere for its patrons. Nicholas Briggs does a fantastic job playing the Dalek Time Controller, a very unique Dalek who displays a lot more personality than even the most ambitious Supreme or Emperor. The Time Controller is easily one of the most memorable Daleks we have ever had in Doctor Who and it is clear that the Dalek characters in the Daleks! animated series for Time Lord Victorious are somewhat based on the personality and mannerisms of this specific Dalek. Its interactions with Liv are a key element of this audio, and the two play off each other well as Liv questions the Time Controller’s every ruthless move.

In many ways, this audio represents the culmination of the Dalek appearances throughout the saga. They started off as the mysterious entity behind everything, with the Time Controller pulling all the strings, and now they return, once again as a sinister entity, but with the Time Controller very much on the back-foot. Listening to this deranged Dalek attempt to claw his way back into power is fascinating, and there are some great sequences involving lesser Dalek questioning the Time Controller’s authority, as his constant meddling with the timelines has lead to the Dalek Empire cutting him off, and we see the fall of the saga’s main villain which is definitely an important aspect of this climactic conclusion to the Dark Eyes saga.

Most importantly for the finale of Dark Eyes, the Eighth Doctor and Molly O’ Sullivan get a reunion in this audio at last, as the plot finally allows the two character’s paths to cross after all the build-up of the previous story. There are other links to the previous box sets as well, as this audio features the return of the creator of the Eminence as the deadly gaseous entity plays one final role in the saga before its conclusion, and we are finally given the last pieces of the puzzle to understand their true origins. Whilst the final end to the saga is somewhat swamped in technobabble, ultimately Eye of Darkness delivers a satisfying conclusion to the saga that end’s Molly’s story on a strong note whilst taking the Eighth Doctor and Liv Chenka into a new era, starting with the first box set in the Doom Coalition series.

Next – Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Doom Coalition 1

Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Dark Eyes 1

As the Eighth Doctor’s relatively lighthearted adventures with Lucie Miller came to a devastating end in To the Death, a new era for the character begins that takes a much darker path than his previous outings. The first audio in Dark Eyes, The Great War, introduces new companion Molly O’Sullivan, an Irish Voluntary Aid Detachment nursing assistant played by Ruth Bradley who the Doctor meets after landing in World War 1 France. We also get an updated look for the Eighth Doctor, as Paul McGann took updated cast photos for use on the covers of newer audios that features a new outfit and shorter hairstyle. Overall, this is perhaps the biggest divergence for the Eighth Doctor since the Divergent Universe, and this new era wastes no time getting into the action.

1.1  – The Great War

This audio opens with the Doctor desperately launching the TARDIS towards the end of the universe, and also features a merciful return to the original theme for the Big Finish Eighth Doctor audios, composed by David Arnold. This theme is the definitive Eighth Doctor title theme for many, and it remains such to this day outside of the Time War audios. After the loss of Lucie, the Doctor is driven half-mad with grief, travelling to the end of the universe to try to gain some perspective on the suffering of the universe. Straxus arrives to dissuade him on behalf of the Time Lords, and sets him on a new mission: to find hope. This leads the Doctor to France during World War One, but unfortunately some old enemies are waiting for him. As the blurb states, the Doctor is searching for Molly O’Sullivan, the woman with the eponymous ‘dark eyes’, who is an experienced VAD tending to wounded soldiers on the front line. Her somewhat callous outlook on life is a result of the horrors she has witnessed during the war, and as such she is a wholly unique companion as the war has given her a very distinctive worldview. Although she comes across as standoffish and negative throughout, one cannot help but sympathise with her as by this point she has clearly seen some of the worst of the conflict already, whilst her younger peers have not. Through Molly’s letters home we hear her true thoughts and feelings, and we can begin to understand her as a character before she becomes a companion.

This audio is a fantastic example of the Daleks skulking around in the darkness, and spices up their appearance with some creepy scenes involving some fantastic sound design. It is nice to hear the Daleks being used to inspire fear, as it proves there are still ways they can be used that the New Series had not explored yet. Placing the Daleks in a historical setting is also a great opportunity for unique storytelling elements, and the idea of the Daleks skulking around the trenches of World War One invokes some very strong imagery, likely due to the similarity between the trenches of wartime France and the environment of Skaro during Genesis of the Daleks. Despite their appearance on the cover, the reveal of the Daleks is held back for quite a while, which makes their shadow that permeates throughout the story all the more intimidating.

As the mystery of this audio unravels, we begin to understand the story as the pieces fall into place, and like any good opening story of a series The Great War introduces the new companion and tells a concise, self-contained story all while making great use of its run-time to deliver a well-paced adventure that keeps the listener’s interest throughout. By this point Big Finish had definitely hit their stride when it came to setting up a story arc, particularly after the success of the EDAs, and this audio is a promising start to the Dark Eyes saga that poses several questions for later audios in the series to answer. Overall, The Great War is a great start to the series and sets up the story arc for the next era of Eighth Doctor audios excellently.

1.2 – Fugitives

A slightly more lighthearted audio than the previous story, Fugitives is Molly’s first run-around in the TARDIS and fills the role of bringing her up to speed with who the Doctor is, what he does and what to expect from being around him. Whilst this is crucial for kicking off the plot of the series, it does seem to be there for the purpose of taking Molly to different points in time and space, although fans of the William Hartnell TV story The Chase will appreciate the time-hopping nature of the story. Despite the somewhat contrived plot, this audio does give Molly a lot more room to grow as a character, as she is freed from the context of the First World War and given a chance to grow as a companion outside of her role as a VAD. In keeping with the idea of Dark Eyes as a space opera, we are treated to a plane chase involving flying Daleks going against a biplane, and the Daleks chasing the Doctor throughout time and space at the behest of the Dalek Time Controller.

It soon becomes clear that Molly is of some special significance to the story at large, as she is identified by the Doctor as the source of the hope he has been searching for. Although her introduction as a companion is somewhat sudden, her link with the Doctor is clear, as she recognises the TARDIS and seems to be able to operate the controls somehow, and the Time Lords believe that she is the result of an experiment by an as-yet unknown third party. As a result of his failed attempt to take them to Gallifrey, the Doctor accidentally takes Molly to World War Two, which results in some great scenes where Molly not only comprehends time travel but also sees some horrific visions of her future. Despite this she takes everything in her stride and proves herself a capable companion from the get-go.

This audio also introduces Doctor Sally Armstrong, a supporting character who works for the Ides Scientific Institute in the 1970s who receives a message from the Doctor with very specific instructions and funding of one billion pounds to create a time-space portal in the Doctor’s residence in Baker Street. Chaos ensues as a Dalek Time Squad invades London in pursuit of the Doctor, and the sound design for the Dalek attack is excellent, as it includes a medley of Dalek sound effects from across their history, from the 1960s to the 80s to the 2000s. Overall, Fugitives is a great first outing for Molly in the TARDIS and sets up some more interesting questions that add to the ongoing story arc, needless to say Dark Eyes gets off to an excellent start as the wider scope of this series is fully realised by the end of the second part.

1.3 – Tangled Web

After two stories of questions surrounding Molly, Tangled Web finally starts to give us some answers as to her origins. Laced throughout previous audios were eerie commands given to the Daleks by Toby Jones, who in this audio is revealed to be playing the rogue Time Lord Kotris. He is every bit as sinister and villainous in this series as he was as the Dream Lord in the Matt Smith TV story Amy’s Choice, so he was certainly a great choice for Kotris. This audio also progresses the relationship between the Doctor and Molly, as he is suspicious of her ability to pilot the TARDIS. Molly’s character setup is remarkably similar to the kind of story arcs for companions in the New Series for Rose, Donna and Clara, as Molly is introduced as the driving force behind the story who has been identified by both the Doctor and the Daleks as important, but the reason for this is as-yet unknown.

There is some remarkable imagery in this audio that draws on some bonkers concepts – the most striking is by far the idea of a Dalek city adorned with flowers, and Molly’s plea to the Doctor to attempt to see the good in the Daleks is definitely one of the standout moments for her character. The age-old question of the concept of a good Dalek is brought up again, and Molly’s personal experience with the horrors of war makes her just as anxious to believe that the Daleks can be good as the Doctor is. When presented with a bizarre reality in which the Daleks have dedicated themselves to humanitarian goals and discarded their evil ways, the Doctor is understandably sceptical, as is the listener, but it is a great setup and Tangled Web makes good use of its runtime to explore the idea of a Good Dalek City.

This audio begins the process of linking the Eighth Doctor’s timeline to that of the Time War, as although the ‘war’ mentioned throughout that threatens the Time Lords is not the Time War itself, it is a time war of sorts, and definitely serves as a prelude to the main conflict. Ultimately, the idea of the Daleks shedding their desire for conquest and retro-engineering themselves back into peaceful Kaleds does seem to be a promising conclusion for the Daleks, the ‘Final End’ envisioned back in the 1960s but one born out of peace, not destruction. Tangled Web presents one possible end for the Daleks, one that does present some hope for the universe, and that in itself makes the Doctor suspect that it is too good to be true. Overall, this audio is a great listen that answers a lot of questions posed by the previous audios and solidifies Molly’s status as the Eighth Doctor’s new companion.

1.4 – X and the Daleks

The Doctor and Molly find themselves on a planet in which Time Lord regeneration is impossible, and are soon embroiled in a conspiracy involving the mysterious ‘X’ and the Daleks, hence the title’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek riff on Doctor Who episodes that end in ‘the Daleks’. This story culminates many of the plot elements laced throughout this box set, and although the Dark Eyes saga is just getting started, it is safe to say that the first box set stands as its own self-contained story. Unfortunately, however, there are some issues with the conclusion, not least the significant amount of expositional dialogue and technobabble involved in explaining the plot. Exposition and technobabble are not necessarily bad in themselves, but when they are used in conjunction and in excess for too long it can make the story appear tedious and dense, especially in the audio format. Thankfully, the sound design is strong throughout, as with all Big Finish audios.

Ruth Bradley does an exceptional job as Molly, as she is not only a symapthetic character but also a great companion to fill the void left by Lucie Miller. Like Lucie, Molly has a spiky personality, but her native time gives her a temperament similar to that of Charley. In many ways, Molly reminds the Doctor of both of his previous companions, and it is for that reason that her friendship with him does not seem at all forced, despite the fact that the two were literally forced together by the plot. Toby Jones is also fantastic in this audio, as even though he is given a lot of ranting exposition his distinctive acting qualities make the character a treat to listen to.

The first box set in the Dark Eyes series comes to a satisfying conclusion with X and the Daleks, as Kotris’s plan makes sense and as it comes to fruition we see exactly why Molly was so important to him and the Daleks all along, and bizarrely Kotris becomes somewhat of a sympathetic character in the end. In hindsight the first part of Dark Eyes very much stands as its own entity, it is distinct from the previous era but is also separated from the other box sets in the Dark Eyes series as many of the saga’s wider story arcs hadn’t actually been written yet. This first box set completes its most important objectives, however, in that it introduces the new companion to great effect and lays the groundwork for the later Dark Eyes box sets to come.

Next – Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Dark Eyes 2

Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – EDAs Series 4, Part 2

Having been separated from Lucie in the first half of Series 4 of the EDAs, the Doctor is now travelling with new companion Tamsin Drew, who has been an interesting replacement for Lucie and brings a completely different view of the universe to their various adventures. Although she has only been in the TARDIS for a short time, Tamsin seems to be picking up the ropes fairly quickly, and by all accounts it seems like the Eighth Doctor has found his new companion. Brace yourself though, as the final stories in the EDAs are a twisted subversion of the New Series formula that delivers a satisfying yet devastating conclusion to the era.

4.5 – Deimos

This audio is the first in a two-part story that features the return of the Ice Warriors, in a memorable opening cliff-hanger set in an Ice Warrior tomb on Deimos that has since been converted into a museum following human colonisation of the moon, and a team of Ice Warriors emerge from suspended animation to attack the guests. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Tamsin are taking part in a tour of the Deimos museum, and as soon as they discover that there are living Ice Warriors at large, the Doctor immediately attempts to open communications with the Ice Lord. In many respects this audio is similar to the later TV stories Cold War and Empress of Mars, as the Doctor recognises that the Ice Warriors are capable of diplomacy and compromise, one of the things that makes them a unique enemy.

Tamsin is also given more of a chance to develop as a companion in this story, as while the Doctor plays hostage negotiator, she gets a chance to operate independently and it is nice seeing her moving the plot forward of her own accord as up until this point Tamsin has been swept up in events surrounding her since she was accepted as the Doctor’s new companion. She is put in a situation in which she disagrees with the Doctor on his handling of the situation, as the Ice Warriors are intent on killing all the humans on Mars but the Doctor constantly passes over opportunities to destroy them. This audio does a good job of creating a moral dilemma for the Doctor as he is once again put in the position where he must take lives in order to save more lives, a situation that never sits right with him.

The sound design in this audio is excellent, and the return of the Ice Warriors is well-realised. Nicholas Briggs does a fantastic job with their voice, and the use of authentic sound effects from their TV appearances in the Second and Third Doctor eras makes this all the more immersive. The supporting cast are great, and there are some memorable side characters in this story who are reminiscent of the kind of characters from classic Second Doctor base-under-siege stories. This one also ends on a great cliff-hanger which weaves the plot of this story into the overall plot arc for the series as a whole.

4.6 – The Resurrection of Mars

Lucie Miller’s reintroduction into the series is an unexpected twist in this two-part story, as we get an insight into her experience since she left the Doctor, which includes a brief period travelling with the Monk. After he buried a village under an avalanche as part of one of his schemes, Lucie left him, and she was dumped on Deimos just as the Doctor was about to detonate the explosive to destroy the Ice Warriors, hence her unexpected appearance at the end of the previous audio. The Resurrection of Mars also solves several other unanswered questions, such as why there was a time-travelling companion X-factor in Situation Vacant, and why the Monk was in 1006 Ireland in The Book of Kells, so it resolves many of the plot threads running through the series so far whilst also setting the stage for the final set of audios in the series.

The cliff-hanger to part one of this story delivers quite an effective gut-punch, as it seems all hope is lost for the Doctor, though he is reunited with Lucie in a heart-warming reunion, and thankfully her involvement in the Monk’s plans are completely circumstantial – in fact, the Monk used Lucie to derail the Doctor’s plans to defeat the Ice Warriors, and then tricks Tamsin into travelling with him by framing the Doctor as an irresponsible meddler. This audio does a great job of exemplifying the Doctor’s moral sense of right and wrong, as initially the listener might disagree with his decisions initially but through the Doctor explaining his actions his true intentions become clear.

Paul McGann does a fantastic job with these sorts of scenes, as his portrayal of the Doctor lends itself well to long musings on his morality and motivations as his character is a romantic at heart, and this audio captures this essence of the Doctor perfectly. The ending to this audio mixes up the status quo of this series a fair bit, though soon all becomes clear as the events of this story tie directly into the finale. Overall, The Resurrection of Mars is essential listening both for its importance to the overall series arc of the final series of the EDAs, but also for its numerous twists and turns that keep the listener guessing until the very end and deliver an exciting outing for the Ice Warriors as a final cherry on top.

4.7 – Relative Dimensions

This audio is another Christmas special of sorts, and focuses around the Doctor’s efforts to create the perfect Christmas for Lucie after her last one in Death in Blackpool didn’t turn out as expected. As such, they choose to have Christmas in the TARDIS, and the Doctor invites his granddaughter Susan and his great-grandson Alexander. This is definitely a cozy story, as the thought of the Eighth Doctor’s gothic Victorian library TARDIS decorated with a huge tree, warm lights and shining tinsel, with Christmas carols echoing through the hallways is a lovely setting and it is odd that the New Series has not decorated the TARDIS for Christmas in any of the Christmas Specials.

Lucie and Alex get a chance to explore the TARDIS, as the Doctor unlocks several old rooms to let Susan revisit her old bedroom. This leads to some excellent sequences where we get to explore a corridor of rooms belonging to several old companions, and there are some great interactions between the Doctor and Susan which fans of the early First Doctor TV stories will appreciate. As the cover of this audio suggests, there is a threat in this story – a gigantic electric fish is stalking the corridors of the TARDIS, feeding on the bat-like pests that inhabit the high-chambered halls, and the sound design illustrating the creature stalking its prey in the corridors is exceptional.

This story starts as a whimsical Christmas story and unfolds into a temporal tale of predestination and the importance of family. One of the most compelling aspects of this story is the Doctor’s growing relationship with Alex, as he starts to view his great-grandson as a surrogate heir, which is an interesting aspect of the character to explore. By the end of the story, it really seems like Lucie, Susan and Alex are the family that the Doctor has always wanted, and fans of the early Moffat era of the TV Series with Amy and Rory acting as a sort of Earth-grounded family for the Doctor will appreciate this story. As a nice cherry on top, there is even a nice reference to the very first ‘Christmas Special’ of the series, The Feast of Steven, which aired in 1965.

4.8 – Prisoner of the Sun

This is a very interesting audio that makes good use of the premise that the Doctor is travelling alone now and can therefore be caught up in longer-running conflicts than he could with a Human companion. In this case, the Doctor has spent years imprisoned in a facility by a trio of creatures made of mercurial liquid, in order to maintain equipment that keeps a sun stable to prevent the deaths of 2 billion people. However, a group of rebels attempt to infiltrate the facility to rescue him, and the Doctor is unsure who he can trust. This is an intriguing exploration of the Doctor being imprisoned by his own sense of responsibility, as the Doctor is capable of escaping at any time but feels obliged to protect the people on the two planets in orbit around the sun.

Another great aspect to this audio is the Doctor’s ‘assistant’ – an android who he has reprogrammed to sound like Lucie Miller and, through several ‘expansion packs’ installed during her activation gives her some human-like qualities, making her essentially his surrogate companion for this story. Not only is this a great illustration of the fact that the Doctor needs companions in order to stay sane, but it also reflects how much the Doctor still misses Lucie after she decided to stay on Earth with Susan and Alex.

This audio keeps a sense of intrigue throughout, and there are constant twists and turns that make every character’s motivations questionable. Like the Doctor, the audience aren’t sure who to trust, and there are a few surprises in this story that make it a fun listen. Overall, for a low-key story Prisoner of the Sun is one of the stronger audios of the EDAs, setting the stage for the incredible yet devastating finale.

4.9 – Lucie Miller

This audio is a devastating opening to the two-part finale, that depicts the second post-present day Dalek invasion, as a horrendous plague sweeps across planet Earth and wipes out a significant portion of the population. This is particularly devastating as Susan has spent her life helping the human race rebuild after the first Dalek invasion, only for everything to come crashing down again. The disease has topical relevance today that the writers at the time could not have imagined, so this audio is even more gruesome to listen to than before. This audio portrays a Dalek invasion just as ruthless and apocalyptic as the one seen in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, only this time the Doctor’s companions live through it – alone. The tension throughout this audio is intense, as Susan, Alex and Lucie are in constant danger and as characters are killed all around them it seems that any of them could be struck down at any minute.

As Lucie is the central character in this story, her personal journey through the Dalek-devastated Earth is gripping. With help from Alex and Susan she is able to send a message to the Doctor, though he does not arrive for some time and the trio eventually flee to caves with rebel forces in order to survive. Eventually, they are able to link up with other rebel forces and launch a desperate attack on the Daleks, though the Daleks have an unexpected ally who helps tip the balance in their favour. Ultimately, this audio tells a story about a desperate attempt to retake the planet from a hostile occupation, and it doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to depicting the horrors of war.

The Daleks themselves are depicted very strongly in this story, with the Supreme Dalek speaking in a hysterical screech as it directs extermination patrols from its control room. They attack Earth as well as its alien allies, wiping out an entire fleet of starships before instigating a complete takeover of the planet, transforming Earth into a huge factory and enslaving the Human race. When it comes to depictions of a Dalek invasion, Lucie Miller is one of the top contenders, and it almost comes close to outdoing its inspiration, The Dalek Invasion of Earth. As a first part to the finale of not just Series 4 but the EDAs itself, Lucie Miller is a fantastic story.

4.10 – To the Death

The Eighth Doctor’s adventures with Lucie Miller come to a cataclysmic end in To the Death, arguably Big Finish’s most ambitious Doctor Who finale to date, and perhaps one of the greatest finales in the history of Doctor Who. The plot elements that have been laced throughout the series come together magnificently, as the Doctor, Lucie, Susan, Alex, Tamsin, the Monk and the Daleks are all thrown into the mix – and not everyone gets out alive. The deaths in this audio are devastating to listen to, and without spoiling anything, it is safe to say that the Doctor is deeply traumatized by the events of this story. The last story of the EDAs represents a huge character shift for the Eighth Doctor, which has a lasting impact on future stories.

It is worth mentioning that Lucie’s theme, which has been used throughout the series. It is an emotive piece that fits her character perfectly, and it is used well for moments when Lucie genuinely opens up to the Doctor about how much their friendship means to her. Sheridan Smith does an exceptional job as Lucie Miller throughout this series but her performance in this audio is particularly moving. Her farewell to the Doctor is still one of the most impactful companion departures in the show’s history, and those who compare Lucie Miller to Rose Tyler are bang on when it comes to how deeply their departure influences the Doctor. In fact when we next see him in Dark Eyes, he is a broken man.

The Monk and the Daleks are used excellently in this audio, and the Daleks are as menacing as ever, racking up a significant body count by the end of the story. Those who were invested in the Monk and Tamsin’s subplot throughout the series will be satisfied by the ending, which illustrates how his meddling ultimately comes back to bite him, mirroring the fate of the character in his original appearance in 1960s Hartnell stories. We see that the events of this story deeply impact him as well, as this incarnation would later show up in the Fifth Doctor story The Secret History, blaming him for the events of this story despite the fact that, for the Fifth Doctor, it hadn’t happened yet. The Dalek Time Controller who first appeared in the Sixth Doctor story Patient Zero also features here, and the events of this story kick of a sequence of events which play into the story arc of later Eighth Doctor audios.

Overall, To the Death brings the EDAs to a close with one of the strongest conclusions to a story arc in the Eighth Doctor’s run so far. The Lucie Miller era is brought to a definitive close with a fantastic Dalek story that neatly bookends the era that began all the way back with Blood of the Daleks. The Doctor’s business with the Daleks is far from over, however, as the next series in the Eighth Doctor’s run begins the Dark Eyes saga, an ambitious 16=part space opera featuring Ruth Bradley as new companion Molly O’Sullivan. Before that, however, the Eighth Doctor’s run of audios takes an unusual turn, as between the end of the EDAs and the start of Dark Eyes, Paul McGann briefly returned to the Main Range to do a few more stories set before the Eighth Doctor met Charley, in a strange set of adventures in which he travels with none other than Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

Next – Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Mary Shelley Plays