Why has Zoe Heriot been having nightmares about the Daleks? Who is the Doctor, a mysterious man from her past? When an evil scientist hijacks her mind to control a galaxy-conquering weapon, Zoe must stop him. First, she and the Doctor will face an enemy they had thought destroyed forever.








Fear of the Daleks








Coming to the Companion Chronicles over a year late, somewhat unimaginatively I thought it best to tackle the second release second. And the second release, on balance, I enjoyed much more than the first. Whilst I sincerely doubt that I would be able to convince anybody that Patrick Chapman’s writing is any way comparable to Marc Platt’s, in my view when looking at the merits of the overall production, Fear of the Daleks wins hands down.


A lot of this is attributable to the use of the authentic Dalek voices, provided as usual by the redoubtable Nicholas Briggs. This story may only have the one guest star, but voicing all of the Daleks as he does, Big Finish certainly gets a hell of a lot of mileage out of him. Similarly, Lawrence Oakely and Robert Dunlop’s sound design and score is a lot more effectual here than it was in Frostfire. In reality, there’s probably little between the two productions – if anything, their work on Frostfire was probably technically more proficient – but here what they do gels so very beautifully with Briggs’ Dalek voices and Wendy Padbury’s narration; it all feels so delightfully retro.


For Padbury’s part, I feel that she does a slightly better job than Maureen O’Brien did at nailing the voices of the various characters. Her second Doctor is not too cringeworthy, although her Jamie does have his moments. However, at the end of the day Padbury’s skill as an impressionist does not prove all that decisive because Fear of the Daleks, as I suppose a Companion Chronicle should be, is very Zoe-centric, with the Doctor and Jamie sidelined for considerable chunks of the action. Indeed, much like Frostfire, this talking book attempts to veil itself as audio drama, as Zoe is in effect relaying buried memories of this adventure to a psychiatrist long after she and the Doctor have parted ways – it seems that the Time Lords weren’t as thorough as they should have been when they erased her memories of her TARDIS travels.


Unfortunately though, Chapman’s narrative is hardly riveting. It suffers from both the inevitable comparisons that will be drawn with the two unsurpassed Troughton era Dalek serials, as well as its own distinct lack of ambition – two alien factions and a scientist collaborating with the Daleks is all a bit passé. That’s not to say that the story doesn’t have its moments though – the last few scenes are very spooky indeed as we hear a repentant scientist’s voice speaking to us from beyond the grave through a Dalek.


Perhaps the most useful thought that I can offer is that when I was listening to this production, I was put in mind of the charmingly naff Decca LP Doctor Who and the Pescatons. It’s hardly a glowing recommendation, or indeed a damning indictment, but it should give you some indication of how you’re likely to receive this quaint but decidedly routine saunter down monochrome memory lane.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009


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