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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
Following the resounding success of the TV revival series of Doctor Who that launched in 2005, peripheral Doctor Who mediums quickly adapted to capitalise on the huge increase in potential fans that would want to explore other mediums separate from the TV series. Big Finish were no different, and they launched the immensely successful Eighth Doctor Adventures in 2006 starring Paul McGann as the increasingly popular Eighth Doctor and Sheridan Smith as new companion Lucie Miller. These audios swap out the format of previous Eighth Doctor audios – stories divided into four 25-minute episodes in a format similar to Classic Who – in favour of the New Series story format – single 45-minute episodes, with the occasional two-part story. This means that, if the New Series is a format that you are more accustomed to, the Eighth Doctor Adventures are an excellent jumping-on point because they not only share a similar tone to the modern TV Series, they also use a familiar approach to character and story development, such as recurring story arcs that feature in every story, and a companion who originates from what was the modern day at the time.
1.1 / 1.2 – Blood of the Daleks
The first story in the Eighth Doctor Adventures is a two-part story that introduces new companion Lucie Miller as well as depicting the Eighth Doctor’s next encounter with the Daleks. It does both fairly well, though the introduction of Lucie is over very quickly before the main story begins to unfold. This is perhaps the quickest companion introduction Big Finish have attempted thus far, and this is probably due to the fact that the EDAs were designed to mimic the style and tone of the New Series, which had only recently released when this series of audios began in 2006, so things move a bit faster than in the Main Range audios. The premise is simple – the Doctor and Lucie materialise the TARDIS on the planet Red Rocket Rising, which has been recently devastated by a meteorite impact. The remaining human population is scrabbling to survive amongst the ruins of their society, and a rampaging mob is hunting down the Acting President Eileen Klint and another woman called Asha, as it quickly becomes apparent that there is more to the situation than meets the eye. Another survivor, Tom Cardwell, is considered an insane tinfoil-hat prophesier of doom by his fellow citizens, but despite his appearance Cardwell also knows more than he is telling, as he has created defences against the acid rain and frequent dust storms.
The plot revolves around Professor Martez, an insane scientist who was using human remains and living human specimens to harvest samples for genetic experiments that were intended to improve the people of Red Rocket Rising. Martez and his assistant Asha were arrested for their violations of human ethics, though Martez later died and his assistant was freed by Klint in the hopes that the two of them could try to restart the society of Red Rocket Rising. There is an incredible scene where the two of them are rummaging around in the ruins of Martez’s laboratory and they reactivate a receiver, only to hear the grating voice of the Daleks sending signals down to the planet. Although there are several twists in this story that can be seen coming from a mile off, there are some others that are very well-hidden and there are some great reveals that are very well-executed. If there is one thing that Blood of the Daleks does well, it is that it does an exceptional job of illustrating the incredible devastation that the Daleks can dish out, particularly when they find the actions of a planet or culture particularly offensive. In this case, the Daleks seek to root out and destroy Martez’s work because they see it as any attempt to imitate the Daleks as an affront that must be destroyed.
Another interesting aspect to this story is that, due to circumstance, the Doctor and the Daleks end up briefly teaming up – it is always fun when the Doctor and the Daleks work together, and this story is a great example of why. It is also worth noting that Sheridan Smith does an exceptional job voicing Lucie Miller, for her first audio the new companion is immediately likeable in much the same way as Rose was in the first episode of the New Series. Although Lucie Miller is similar to Rose in that she is a relatable young female companion, there are distinct personality differences between the two, and Lucie often feels more similar to Donna than Rose as she has a much spikier personality. It is great that Lucie’s first audio is a Dalek story, as she is put in the unique position of having a harrowing adventure the first time around and then having more light-hearted travels later on, whereas for most companions the adjustment goes the other way. It is particularly harrowing hearing the Doctor relive memories of the genesis of a Dalek species, as there are a lot of parallels between the events that happen on Red Rocket Rising in this audio and those that happen on Skaro in Genesis of the Daleks. Overall, Blood of the Daleks is a fantastic opening to the EDAs that sets the tone of the series perfectly, introduces Lucie Miller as the Eighth Doctor’s newest companion and tells a fantastic Dalek story.
1.3 – Horror of Glam Rock
The title of this audio is a humorous reference to the Fourth Doctor TV story Horror of Fang Rock, and although there is no direct relation between the two stories, this one does have a distinct 1970s feel. The Doctor and Lucie arrive in 1974, and quickly discover the body of a man described as a ‘Glam Rocker’ who had been murdered by a savage beast, before the creature starts attacking a nearby diner. This story is notable for starring both Una Stubbs and Bernard Cribbins, and needless to say the supporting cast put in an excellent performance that really brings this story to life. The sound design is also excellent, with the soundtrack taking on a bit of the Glam Rock feel. There are some tense scenes in this story, and there are some sequences that are reminiscent of Tooth and Claw from the TV series. Instead of one werewolf, however, the Doctor and Lucie are up against several bear-like creatures with scales, with just the resources and occupants of a 1970s diner for backup.
The use of the stylophone as part of the setup is great, not only because the unique instrument has its own distinctive sound but also because it is used in a really creative and creepy way in this story that really adds to the atmosphere. The creatures use the stylophone to possess the musician who plays them, and the creatures eventually use this to undermine the Doctor’s efforts to protect the people in the diner. Arnold Korns, the manager of a band called the Tomorrow Twins who is played by Bernard Cribbins, proves himself to be particularly cruel and ends up doing more harm than good by attempting to save himself, purely so that he can make his appearance on an episode of Top of the Pops. Another of the side characters, called Pat, turns out to be Lucie’s auntie in her youth, which creates a fair bit of intrigue as Lucie gives away too much to her without realising the implications.
As Lucie’s first trip to the past, Horror of Glam Rock is a great audio that takes full advantage of the shorter format to deliver a punchy story that would not have felt out of place in the Russel T. Davies era of the TV series. We get to hear more of the Doctor and Lucie interacting as their friendship strengthens, and at the conclusion of this story there is a heartwarming moment where the Doctor asks Lucie to travel with him as a full-time companion, instead of as a temporary passenger. We also get more of a development of the series arc that was hinted at in the conclusion of the previous story, as the mysterious Headhunter searches for Lucie Miller in the diner after they have left, proving that she is chasing the Doctor and Lucie through time and space.
1.4 – Immortal Beloved
This audio deals with the concepts of young love and religion, and thrusts the Doctor and Lucie into a bizarre society styled after Ancient Greece that exists on a planet in the 34th century. They meet two lovers, Sarati and Kalkin, who at first appear to be attempting suicide, though it is clear that there is more going on than it first appears when military helicopters arrive to intervene. The society is run by two individuals, called Zeus and Hera, who seem to be part-ruler and part-god, worshipped by their subjects. Other high-ranking figures in this society have names inspired by Greek mythology, such as Ares and Ganymede, and the architecture of the planet is also inspired by Ancient Greece. Though this might seem a strange choice, all becomes clear as the story of this audio unfolds. As usual the sound design is excellent, and it is interesting to note that Paul McGann’s son, Jake McGann, appears in this audio, and it won’t be his last role in the Eighth Doctor Adventures.
At this point, Lucie Miller has been firmly established as a companion, and Sheridan Smith does a fantastic job of actualising the character. Lucie is a great companion who is very different from Charley, and this audio is a great showcase of how she reacts to situations differently. Although she and the Eighth Doctor didn’t get on initially, by now they have become close friends and have learned to trust each other. They are confronted with an interesting dilemma in this story, as the society has been constructed around the concept of the members of the ruling class transferring their consciousnesses to younger clones of themselves who they raise as children. As such, there is a constant cycle of life and death as the older rulers rear their young only to steal their bodies. The original crew of the colony ship who brought the settlers to the planet continue to do this in order to preserve the society that they have created, as they believe that without their guidance the carefully-crafted civilisation would fall.
This audio is definitely an interesting listen, not least because it deals with the bizarre implications of a society built by body-hopping consciousnesses who have set themselves up as gods. They have transferred their minds so many times under their fake god names that they can barely remember who they originally were, and although all talk of the worlds outside the planet are banned, the ‘gods’ are quick to turn to drastic measures to try to find the parts for their cloning machines and mind-transference devices that, after thousands of years of use, have started to decay. Faced with the downfall of their civilisation, it is clear that the former humans masquerading as gods will go to any lengths to ensure their own survival.
1.5 – Phobos
This audio starts with one of the best cold opens in the series so far, set in a ski resort that has been constructed in a bio-dome on the surface of Phobos, the innermost moon of Mars. As the blurb on the back of the CD points out, ‘Phobos’ is the Ancient Greek word for ‘fear’, and it quickly becomes apparent that some kind of creature is stalking skiers on the resort, despite the extreme nature of the setting. Rumours are abound amongst the staff of the resort and the adrenaline-junkies that bizarre monsters stalk them in the night, and this audio does a great job of using the setting to create some really tense scenes set amongst the howling winds of the icy environment and some very creepy imagery. The Doctor and Lucie find a woman shivering from fear, not cold, and next to her lies a mutilated body that kicks off the mystery.
Phobos is another monster run-around, though it is distinctly different from Horror of Glam Rock in both setting and tone. The soundtrack is excellent, as is the sound design, and Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith put in excellent performances as always. Unfortunately, the supporting cast are not very memorable, and apart from a few exceptions they are mostly interchangeable. There are a few surprising twists in this story that make it an interesting listen, though it does seem to resemble Scooby-Doo at times, with Lucie even dropping a reference that confirms this. That is a suitable analogy for this story -if you enjoy classic monster run-arounds with overblown sci-fi concepts then this is the ideal story for you, so from that point of view it somewhat resembles a Third Doctor story.
Arguably the only downside to this story is that Lucie Miller is not given much to do as a companion, as the quick pacing means that the vast majority of the plot advancement is spearheaded by the Doctor, with Lucie seemingly just tagging along for the ride. As such, the Headhunter appears but is played more for laughs than an actual serious threat, though it seems certain that the next story will feature the long-awaited encounter between her and Lucie Miller.
1.6 – No More Lies
This audio has an interesting opening, as we see an adventure already in progress with the Doctor and Lucie pursuing a man called ‘Zimmerman’ who is attempting to collect rare time-travel technology and has attracted the attention of several time scavengers in the area. One thing that is notable is that it appears that some time has passed, as Lucie is now confident and capable enough to chase down a villain through a time ship while the Doctor waits in the TARDIS, and then helps fly the ship by typing in co-ordinates, proving that her and the Doctor have been travelling together for some time and have come to rely on each other greatly, and Lucie is more willing to discuss ‘sciencey’ and technobabble-orientated dialogue, whereas in previous stories she has often shrugged it off.
The setting of this story is interesting – a seemingly unintentional time-loop has trapped Zimmerman, aged 30 years older than he was when the Doctor and Lucie met him, in an endless dinner party along with all the guests – this provides some great opportunities for interesting narrative elements involving such a bizarre temporal anomaly, and despite everything it soon becomes clear that Zimmerman has changed somewhat in the 30 years since he last met the Doctor – he has a human wife, for a start – and as the Vortisaurs and Tar Modowk close in, the Doctor has to figure out if he believes Zimmerman’s stories of redemption and forgiveness, and indeed if the time loop is the result of any insidious action at all.
As always, the sound design of this audio is incredible, and No More Lies is particularly memorable because it features guest stars Nigel Havers and Julia McKenzie as Nick and Rachel Zimmerman. This audio keeps you guessing throughout and delivers a satisfying conclusion, making good use of its runtime to present a well-paced story. The Headhunter also makes her triumphant return in this audio, having literally fallen off her bike in Phobos she has a much more effective presence here, arriving at the last second to snatch Lucie just before she enters the TARDIS.
1.7 / 1.8 – Human Resources
Having been abducted by the Headhunter at the end of the previous story, Lucie is transported to what initially appears to be a boring office – the same one that she was supposed to be started her first day at in the prologue of Blood of the Daleks. The Doctor is sent after her by a Time Lord called Strax, who makes his first appearance in this story but will become more important later, via a Time Ring that is given to the Doctor by the Time Lords. It soon becomes clear that there is more at work in this office than meets the eye, as the office workers and phone operators discuss co-ordinated battle tactics in the same manner as a standard company staff would discuss ordinary day-to-day activities – the Doctor infiltrates the company and soon discovers that they have been commissioned to attack targets on a planet, and the office is in fact a huge mobile structure – the entire staff have been brainwashed to think that they are still on Earth but they are in fact aboard a walking weapons platform. This is a great setting for the first part, and the office environment is really brought to life, complete with overbearing sexist bosses and mundane PA announcements. Lucie soon finds out the hard way that staff who are fired get ejected from the building and have to join the war going on outside, or scavenge among the ruins in order to survive. The Doctor, in the meantime, pretends to be a client looking to instigate a planetary invasion – there is an amusing scene in which the Doctor bluffs his way into the bosses’ confidence by arranging a military coup on Gallifrey, and although he certainly isn’t serious it gives the impression that he has given the matter some thought in the past.
Naturally, the Doctor heads into the situation with the intent of taking down this company, as the thought of reducing the process of planetary invasion to a business arrangement doesn’t sit right with him or Lucie. However, as events unfold and part one draws to a close it becomes clear that there is something that has not been accounted for – the Doctor steps in to defend the inhabitants of the planet under attack, without thinking to investigate who they are and why they are being attacked in the first place. As it happens, the race under attack is the Cybermen, and part one ends with a fantastic cliff-hangar that, due to the two discs being released separately, came as a complete surprise to the listeners at the time. The Cybermen in this story are a variant of the late-Second Doctor era Cybermen who have settled on the planet Lonsis, though they also seem to share many elements with the Cybus Cybermen including stompy feet and a very similar voice, making these Cybermen an interesting hybrid of Classic and New Series Cyberman traits.
The Headhunter is also utilised excellently in this audio, as her motives and character become clear almost immediately. Hired by the company to recover Lucie Miller when she was abducted by the Time Lords, the Headhunter has no real affiliation with them, and so when the Cybermen invade one of the weapons platforms, she agrees to help Lucie to save herself, which makes perfect sense for the character as she is not inherently evil, just motivated by monetary gain. We also learn a bit more about how the Time Lords are beginning to take an interest in interfering with the interstellar wars scattered throughout time, but their willingness to intervene in order to combat the Cybermen foreshadows more serious conflicts to come. Establishing the Celestial Intervention Agency as an even-present threat that has been influencing events leading up to this point is important for later audio stories in the Eighth Doctor’s life, and it is particularly interesting that Straxus is introduced alongside this concept, which is some brilliant foreshadowing for events later in the series. Overall, Human Resources is a great finale to the first series that answers many questions about the ongoing story arc of the EDAs but leaves enough plot threads hanging that, although it provides a satisfying conclusion to the series, it also establishes many of the plot elements for the next series.