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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!