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

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

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

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

Low-Tier Dalek Stories

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

Daleks Among Us

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

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

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

Renaissance of the Daleks

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

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

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

The Time of the Daleks (Dalek Empire Part IV)

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

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

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

Plague of the Daleks

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

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

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



Good-Tier Dalek Stories

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

Emissary of the Daleks

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

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

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

The Genocide Machine (Dalek Empire Part I)

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

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

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

Brotherhood of the Daleks

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

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

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

Alien Heart / Dalek Soul

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

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

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

Shadow of the Daleks 1 / Shadow of the Daleks 2

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

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

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

The Curse of Davros

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

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

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

Great-Tier Dalek Stories

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

The Apocalypse Element (Dalek Empire Part II)

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

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

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

The Mutant Phase (Dalek Empire Part III)

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

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

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

Patient Zero

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

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

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

The Juggernauts

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

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

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

Terror Firma

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

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

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

We Are The Daleks

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

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

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

Top-Tier Dalek Stories

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

Enemy of the Daleks

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

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

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

Masters of Earth

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

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

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

Order of the Daleks

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

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

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

Jubilee

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

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

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

Conclusion

That was a lot of Dalek audios, but we have finally reached the end of our list of the Big Finish Dalek audio stories ranked for worst to best. There are many other great Dalek audio stories that Big Finish have produced that aren’t part of the Main Range, such as Blood of the Daleks, and other Main Range audios that relate to the Daleks but do not feature them, such as Davros. You can also read the 10 best Dalek stories from other Big Finish ranges including the Main Range. Which Dalek audio story is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Doctor Who – What Happened to Rusty?

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

Escaping the Dalek Fleet

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

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

Waging War against the Daleks

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

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

Rusty’s Future

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

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Doctor Who – What is the Cult of Skaro?

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

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

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

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

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

Who is Dalek Jast?

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

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

Who is Dalek Thay?

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

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

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

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

Who is Dalek Caan?

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

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

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

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

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

Who is Dalek Sec?

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

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

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

Why were the Cult of Skaro created?

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

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

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

What Happened to the Cult of Skaro?

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

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

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

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

Why did the Cult of Skaro fail?

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

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

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

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Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Dark Eyes 4

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

4.1 – A Life in the Day

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

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

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

4.2 – The Monster of Montmartre

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

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

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

4.3 – Master of the Daleks

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

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

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

4.4 – Eye of Darkness

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

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

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

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

Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Dark Eyes 1

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

1.1  – The Great War

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

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

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

1.2 – Fugitives

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

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

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

1.3 – Tangled Web

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

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

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

1.4 – X and the Daleks

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

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

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

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

Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – EDAs Series 4, Part 1

Having concluded the last of the lighthearted adventures with the Doctor and Lucie Miller in Series 3 of the EDAs, Series 4 dives immediately into a far darker and more melancholy take on the ‘New Series’ style Big Finish had developed across the four series. This series is full of twists and turns, and requires a little more context than the others, requiring a Bonus Story to be listened to in order to understand the finale. This series of audios represents the pinnacle of Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith’s time together as Doctor and companion, though ironically the Doctor has a new companion, Tamsin Drew, for the majority of the series. Although it requires a fair bit of listening to reach this point, this is where the EDAs really pay off as Big Finish delivers a strong series of audios with some great excellent rug-pulls along the way.

4.1 – Death in Blackpool

This is a Big Finish Christmas Special, and it shows – from Lucie’s nostalgic recounting of the ‘perfect Christmas’ at the beginning, to the depiction of an actual Father Christmas. In many ways this audio is a deconstruction of the classic format of New Series TV Christmas Specials. This one is particularly bleak and taps into the more melancholy aspects of Christmas, such as the idea of the ideal Christmas being tainted by the loss of a loved one is a concept that is as relevant as ever. We revisit the character of Auntie Pat, who is actually still the Zygon Warlord Haygoth in disguise unbeknownst to Lucie, and Haygoth reveals to the Doctor that he is dying. Having felt guilt at the fact of essentially cheating Lucie out of mourning her Auntie, Haygoth now wishes to enjoy one final Christmas with Lucie before passing on.

This audio is a great outing for Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith, and we see the character of Lucie Miller pushed to the extreme as she discovers that the Doctor has been keeping secrets from her. Her psychological battle with the sinister entity attempting to steal her body is grim to listen to, but this is arguably second to her reaction to the horrific discovery she makes as the Doctor and Auntie Pat unwittingly reveal Haygoth’s true identity. It represents a huge step forward in Lucie’s character as she is forced into a decision that shakes up the status quo for the first time in the entire series.

An unexpected highlight of this story is Father Christmas, who initially comes across as a comedic character, rather like Nick Frost in Last Christmas, but as with that interpretation of the mythical figure, there is more to this than meets the eye. The villain, a ghoulish ‘Zynog’, is a great concept: a Zygon who has been reduced to a body-hopping entity after having its original form destroyed, due to the fact that it committed the Zygon sin of attempting to take the body print of another Zygon, and this presents a very personal threat to Auntie Pat. It goes without saying that Auntie Pat’s character arc is one of the best things about the EDAs, and the idea of a Zygon genuinely falling in love with its stolen Human life is a fantastic concept that this story concludes well, as Auntie Pat’s conclusion is one of the most heart-breaking things in the series.

Bonus Story VIII – An Earthly Child

An Earthly Child is a Bonus Story set after the events of Death in Blackpool, that depicts the long-awaited ‘return’ of the Doctor to 22nd-century Earth, to reunite with his grand-daughter, Susan. This audio introduces Susan’s son and the Doctor’s great-grandson, Alex Campbell, and depicts the Doctor fulfilling his promise and coming back to see Susan again.

Having been left behind on 22nd-century Earth at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Susan has married a freedom-fighter and built a life for herself as a politician, attempting to build alliances for humanity with alien races while facing a huge amount of anti-alien sentiment from the majority of survivors of the Dalek invasion. Even decades after the defeat of the Daleks Earth is still a mess, as people are still being discovered living in caves across the planet, cities are in ruins and the population is still recovering from decimation.

This audio fulfils a fan-favourite moment that has been anticipated for quite some time, to the point that it is odd that the New Series has not brought Carole Ann Ford back as she is excellent in the role and recaptures the character of Susan excellently. This audio is required to fully understand the finale to the series, so for that purpose it is ‘required listening’, but ultimately this is also a treat for fans so it is well worth listening to even without the context of the EDAs.

4.2 – Situation Vacant

This audio appears on the surface to be Doctor Who does The Apprentice, as the Doctor is interviewing potential new companions by giving them various tasks which eventually leads into a full-on alien invasion, so one would be forgiven for thinking that this is another throwaway comedy story, but it doesn’t take long to discover that this is far more than just a story based on The Apprentice. Not only is the setup suspicious at best, as it seems far too grandiose for the Doctor, but there are plenty of surprises in this story that make it a fun listen.

The supporting cast in this story is great, as it features James Bachman, Joe Thomas and Niky Wardley, who all do fantastic jobs in their roles. This audio takes a few bold turns with its main characters, as each of them are keen to secure the position of new companion and so the four of them are working to help the Doctor investigate an issue whilst also competing against each other, which is fun to listen to, to say the least. The most fun thing about this audio is the eliminations, in which the Doctor objectively analyses the performance of the candidates and selects who should be deselected, which is always entertaining.

The hints throughout suggest that there is more to this situation than it first seems – over the course of the story the events snowball, and the tension builds as it soon becomes clear that the situation is spiralling out of the Doctor’s control. Nonetheless, what follows is by far one of the most enjoyable stories of the EDAs so far, and if the New Series was ever to do an Apprenctice-themed episode for TV, we can only hope that it takes inspiration from this audio. We are also introduced to our new companion in this story, though from this point on we reach severe spoiler-territory, so if you haven’t yet listened to these audios and want to experience them for yourself, stop reading now and go listen to them!

4.3 – Nevermore

Nevermore deals with some interesting ethical dilemmas, as the Doctor and Tamsin arrive on the the planet Nevermore and meet its only living resident: convicted war criminal Morella Wendigo, who was condemned to spend her lifetime living on the planet that she destroyed, guarded by squawking mechanical ravens. There is a running motif of cats throughout this story, as one appears in the TARDIS seemingly out of nowhere at the start of the story and sets co-ordinates while walking over the console, bringing the Doctor and Tamsin to Nevermore seemingly by accident. This audio is steeped in the lore of Edgar Allen Poe, and those who have not read his works will likely be less appreciative of this audio than those who have. The designer of Wendigo’s prison, Senior Prosecutor Uglosi, has a bizarre obsession with Poe that permeates through the entire design of the prison.

This audio does some great character building for Tamsin, from a great scene at the beginning where the Doctor is showing her different rooms of the TARDIS to her desire to save the cat that inadvertently kicks off the plot of the entire story. She also reveals her acting skills came in handy by using her skills in escapology to untie some difficult knots – she ultimately proves that she is a suitable fit for the role of new companion. She is definitely a very different companion to Lucie, and her interactions with the Doctor are a treat to listen to as she learns the ropes of travelling in the TARDIS.

The backstory of Morella Wendigo is a compelling one – having doomed the planet of Corinth Minor with a virus that led the Time Lords to destroy the planet with a substance called the Red Death to prevent the biohazard from escaping, she was subsequently imprisoned on the planet, now renamed Nevermore, to serve a penance of eternal contemplation for her murderous crimes against the population of an entire planet. Overall, Nevermore is an interesting listen for many reasons, though those who are unfamiliar with Edgar Allen Poe may find it more dull as it is clearly intended as a love letter to that particular author.

4.4 – The Book of Kells

The Doctor and Tamsin arrive in Ireland, 1006 in the Abbey of Kells, as the TARDIS is dragged off-course by a temporally-sensitive individual currently at large in the area that is dragging other time-travelling entities, including an unfortunate Vortisaur, to the 11th century. It soon becomes apparent that someone wants to steal the Book of Kells, and the Doctor and Tamsin are caught up in a mystery of intrigue and deception. The cliff-hanger to part one is an interesting revelation that the temporally sensitive individual at large is none other than the Meddling Monk, though the context of the story is a dead giveaway to those who are familiar with the character.

This audio casts Graeme Garden as the Monk, and it is worth mentioning that he was a fantastic choice for the role. It makes sense that, should the Monk ever return to the TV series, they would be played by a comedian, and Graeme Garden brings that essential levity to the character whilst also maintaining the presence that a villainous Time Lord should have.

For those not in the know, the Book of Kells is a real historical artefact, and it was stolen from the Abbey in 1007 only to be found a few months later, and this audio plays off that event and makes several references to current events of this era, so history fans are bound to enjoy this one. In some ways it is almost a pure historical, were it not for the presence of another Time Lord. Though these stories have a mixed reception in the fanbase, The Book of Kells proves that the New Series would be able to do a pure historical in an interesting way.

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

Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – EDAs Series 1

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.

Next – Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – EDAs Series 2, Part 1

Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Late Charley Era Part 1

Following the abrupt cancellation of the Divergent Universe storyline when the New Series was announced in 2004, Big Finish shifted the next wave of the Eighth Doctor audios into a completely different gear. However, it seems in hindsight that they did this without giving the writers of each individual story enough time to compensate, because a big criticism of a lot of the audios in this initial wave of post-Divergent Universe audios is that they were clearly written for that setting, and although some measures were taken to retroactively slot them into the pre-existing Doctor Who universe by including the TARDIS and some other familiar concepts, these audios are so bizarre and dreamlike that they clearly beyond in a pocket dimension. Still, they represent some of the most unorthodox of Big Finish’s story ideas to date, and are an important chapter in the Eighth Doctor’s life…

#72 – Terror Firma

The post-Divergent Universe era kicks off to an incredible start with Terror Firma, easily one of the best outings of the Eighth Doctor against the Daleks that you are likely to find on audio. The previous Eighth Doctor Dalek story, The Time of the Daleks, was an entertaining romp in its own right but it did not live up to the expectations set by previous Dalek audios such as The Mutant Phase and The Apocalypse Element. However, between The Time of the Daleks and Terror Firma Big Finish released several excellent Dalek audios – including Jubilee and The Juggernauts – as well as the classic fan-favourite Davros, and Terror Firma continues the run of great Dalek and Davros stories by picking up Davros’ story where it left off from Remembrance of the Daleks. Terry Molloy is fantastic as Davros as always, and here we see him combating the personality of the Dalek Emperor that is beginning to assert itself over Davros, playing off the idea that Davros had set himself up as Emperor of the Imperial Dalek faction in the final Classic Who Dalek story.

This audio is full of references to past stories, particularly past Dalek stories – Genesis of the Daleks gets a nice call-back in this, there are references to Storm Warning, Zagreus and Creed of the Kromon, and there are some great plot developments that re-contextualise the entire Eighth Doctor era, this one is definitely the kind of audio that needs to be experienced first-hand. The direction, editing and pacing is excellent – and there are some exceptional performances from Paul McGann, India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas. There are really some exceptional scenes in this, especially between the Eighth Doctor and Davros, which showcase how truly evil and twisted Davros is – spending hundreds of years alone in an escape pod has not helped Davros’s sanity.

This is also a great showcase of the Daleks themselves, as these are a race of brand new Daleks that Davros has created post-Remembrance of the Daleks, removing the distinction between Imperial and Renegade Daleks and creating his own faction. This means that both the Daleks and Davros are quite mad, making for some great scenes that make this audio distinct from any other Dalek story. In a lot of ways this audio is mad, it makes no attempt to fit into the continuity of either the wider Doctor Who universe or the Dalek timeline, and trying to locate when and where this audio was set either in Earth’s history or in the timeline of the Daleks is unknown, as the plot threads of Earth being conquered by Daleks, the majority of humanity being transformed into Daleks, and Davros physically transforming into the Dalek Emperor have never been revisited. Some fans have pointed out that the plot point of using humans to create Daleks parallels The Parting of the Ways, leading to Big Finish officially confirming that Davros does not become the Dalek Emperor seen in that two-part story. In many ways, Terror Firma could easily have been set in the Divergent Universe, something that is apparent about the next three post-Divergent Universe stories.

#75 – Scaredy Cat

A huge shift in tone and setting from the previous story, Scaredy Cat presents an interesting premise – two planets, one populated, one empty, with the population of the inhabited planet pledged to prevent anyone from ever setting foot on their untainted sister-world. As the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz soon discover, however, not all is as it seems on the pristine world of Endarra, as there are scientists from Caludaar performing experiments on the native life forms. The story deals with the morality of good and evil, and explores why criminals are motivated to commit horrendous crimes.

Scaredy Cat utilises the same fragmented story structure as Terror Firma, though the end result is not as effective as in the previous story as we are not familiar with the characters – juxtaposing the Doctor and his companions with scenes involving Davros works because we already know who Davros is, but in this case Scaredy Cat uses original characters which are not known to the audience, so establishing the context for the cutaway scenes is difficult. Scaredy Cat also suffers from a lack of general background context, and relies on throwaway terms like ‘political activist’ without any real establishment of the basis on which we can judge characters based on their political motivations alone.

Unfortunately, this audio has some serious issues, and its bizarre pseudo-scientific explanation for the strange happenings going on throughout the story mean that this audio could have been better utilised as part of the Divergent Universe saga – likely because it was originally written as an audio set in the Divergent Universe, and was hastily re-written to accommodate the fact that the Divergent arc was brought to a premature close. Overall, it is definitely an interesting listen, and it gets points for its creativity – but it can’t hold a candle to some of the next few stories that share the same ethereal post-Divergent Universe atmosphere.


#77 – Other Lives

This is an interesting audio as it is a pure historical – the only one of its kind that Paul McGann has recorded as the Eighth Doctor to date – and as pure historicals go, this one is strong but ultimate quite predictable. Pure historicals usually range from being either focused on a particular figure from history, or take extra care to set the scene for where and when it is set. Other Lives does both, whilst also taking full advantage of the setting of the Great Exhibition of Works of Industry of all Nations in 1851. The Crystal Palace makes for a dynamic setting, and there are some great characters that are brought to life by a host of talented voice actors.

The main premise of the story involves the trio being separated by a series of increasingly bizarre circumstances (including the TARDIS being stolen by a rich French couple) and the Doctor is soon accused of murder and kidnapping. Unfortunately, C’rizz and Charley are not given much interesting to do, and several of the characters some off as somewhat cliched, if it were not for the Doctor’s plotline being slightly more interesting, there would be little much to say about the first two parts plot-development wise. Charley and C’rizz both spend a lot of time interacting with characters that amounts to very little, and overall their escapades contribute little to the overall story.

Despite its status as a pure historical, Other Lives still retains the ethereal nature of the Divergent Universe arc – it is telling that these first few stories were originally destined for the Divergent Universe. There are some interesting elements, such as the focus on the horrors of Victorian freakshows, but there is a severe issue with pacing and overall the plot is very low-stakes compared to others in the series. Nonetheless, it makes for an interesting listen for fans of the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C’rizz, as they are each separated and faced with unique situations and India Fisher, Conrad Westmaas and Paul McGann deliver exceptional performances as always.

#80 – Time Works

Although its becoming a tired criticism at this point, Time Works feels like the breaking point of the post-Divergent Universe arc – it is obvious that these plays were supposed to be set in the Divergent Universe, so the writers had to jump through hoops to make them somewhat grounded in reality in order to set them in the prime universe – it is a shame to see really creative ideas stymied in this way. Nonetheless, Time Works is an immersive experience that presents a very interesting setting for the listener – there is a lot of clock and clockwork imagery involved, making the setting familiar enough that visualising the setting is easy as it leans on concepts that we are very familiar with – clockwork and castles spring immediately to mind – although its attempts to be overly enigmatic do occasionally fall a bit flat.

It is worth noting that this audio has a fantastic soundtrack, as the score contains several haunting melodies that help to illustrate the otherworldly setting. Speaking of which, the setting depicts a society that runs with a strict adherence to timekeeping, and it also features Clockwork Robots that are similar to, but not the same as, the ones seen in The Girl in the Fireplace and Deep Breath, and are also not in any way related to the Clockwork Men from the Ninth Doctor novel The Clockwise Man. Nonetheless they make for effective villains as the concept is particularly creepy, especially when paired with the incredible sound design.

Overall, Time Works deals with some interesting concepts coupled with exceptional direction and sound design that make it one of the strongest audios in the post-Divergent Universe series. Whilst there are a lot of elements that were clearly intended for the Divergent Universe, this story stands in its own right as an exceptional audio, and listened to in isolation it offers a fully-realised world with exceptional execution. Unfortunately, it is brought down somewhat by the others in the series, as they are sadly bundled together as the ‘what could have been for the Divergent Universe’ collection, with Time Works being the series finale. For good old-fashioned Doctor Who escapism, however, Time Works delivers on every front.

Next – Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Late Charley Era Part 2

Daleks! The Animated Series Announced as part of Time Lord Victorious

An unexpected yet exciting announcement by the BBC last week revealed that one of the upcoming releases in the Time Lord Victorious multimedia project is a 5-part animated series revolving around the Daleks that is set to be released on the Doctor Who Youtube channel in November. The trailers for this series have showcased the animation style of the series as well as some hints as to what fans can expect from this latest instalment in the Doctor Who universe.

One of the most interesting aspects of this series that can be gleaned from the trailers and promotional material that has been released so far is that the series seems to feature a diverse variety of Dalek designs, including several Classic and New Series Dalek designs and a modern take on the iconic comic series Dalek Emperor. This could imply that the series will feature several unique Dalek characters with individual personalities, which is always an interesting take on the Daleks that allows for more interesting Dalek dialogue.

This animated series also fulfils the life-long desire of the creator of the Daleks, Terry Nation, who since 1965 had intended them to helm their own spinoff series. Nation’s attempts to create a Dalek TV series failed, though he would go on to license the Daleks for the Peter Cushing movies and write several Dalek stories for Doctor Who in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, in 2020, his original vision is being realised as the Daleks get their own animated series.

Another very exciting aspect of this animated series is that it will introduce a lot more templates for Dalek customs, some of which have already been created by fans. Following on from the Asylum Project showcase of custom Daleks that has been showcased on this blog, more posts showcasing custom Daleks based on this animated series as well as the wider Time Lord Victorious story arcs will be listed at some point following the release of the series.

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