THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE PRIOR TO THE
BBC7 RADIO EPISODE
"HORROR OF GLAM
BIG FINISH BBC7 CD#1
RELEASED IN DECEMBER
2006 & BBC7 CD#2
RELEASED IN FEBRUARY
'PEOPLE OF RED ROCKET
RISING... MY FELLOW
CITIZENS... OUR LONG
NIGHT IS OVER. I've
BEEN CONTACTED BY A
THEY HAVE THE
THE PATIENCE AND
ONE OF US.
MY FELLOW CITIZENS...
RESCUE IS AT HAND!'
Blood of the Daleks
31ST JANUARY 2006 - 7TH JANUARY 2007
(2 50-MINUTE EPISODES)
Following the broadcast of many of the early eighth Doctor plays on digital
radio station BBC7, it comes as little surprise that Big Finish Productions and the BBC
have finally collaborated to produce a series of episodes specifically intended for radio broadcast.
Since 1996, Paul McGann’s “one-time TV-movie Doctor” has chalked up over a hundred adventures in print and on CD, and that’s not even counting his escapades in short stories, novellas and comics strips. Suffice it to say that the Doctor’s eighth incarnation has certainly been around the block, and that as such these new radio adventures really need to break new ground and take Doctor number eight in a new and interesting direction. Whether or
not this radio series will take us right up to the regeneration, just prior to the start of the new television series (as the Christmas 2006 Radio Times states) is anybody’s guess, but one thing is for certain: with BBC funding behind them, Big Finish are in a stronger position than ever to bring the Doctor that time forgot to the masses.
The first two-part instalment of this new eight-week series, Blood of the Daleks, is a curious concoction of Doctor Who new and old. In many ways, it’s hard to tell it apart from the new television series. It roughly adheres to the forty-five minute episode format; it features a pre-title sequence; and, most importantly of all, it’s completely contemporary. The pre-titles see Sheridan Smith’s Lucie Miller inauspiciously dumped in the TARDIS console room by the Time Lords. Lucie is a feisty, streetwise young woman of the year 2006. A northern Rose, so to speak. On the other hand though, the Doctor himself is a real throwback to the classic series. His dress, his manner, his wig – it’s all very retro. McGann may play the Doctor here with slightly more venom than he once did, but underneath it all he’s the same old Eight.
Above: New companion Lucie Miller faces the Daleks on Red Rocket Rising
However, the most noticeable ‘throwback’ to the days of old is Steve Lyons’ plot. If Planet of the Daleks was Terry Nation’ Daleks’ Greatest Hits compilation, then Blood of the Daleks is ‘Daleks’ Greatest Hits II.’
Steve Lyons has taken some of the strongest threads of The Power of the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, and Revelation of the Daleks and woven a story that manages to feel both traditional and innovative. No doubt there were listeners out there on New Year’s Eve who weren’t familiar with Patrick Troughton’s inaugural six-parter, and so listening to the Daleks’ muttering “we are your friends” will no doubt have been incredibly fresh and eerie for them.
Similarly, although the recent episode Parting of the Ways also borrowed the idea, it was originally Revelation of the Daleks that first put forward the notion of humans becoming Daleks. Particularly in Part 2, Lyons really pushes this idea further than it has ever been taken before. On Red Rocket Rising, mad scientist Martez (Hayley Atwell) is following in Davros’ footsteps and using the excuse of “survival” to experiment on the human colonists, creating a whole new breed of Daleks.
To me, I always found the Cybermen to be more frightening than the Daleks because of
what they were and what they represented. Faced with a Dalek, you know you’ve had it.
One “Exterminate!” and you’re off the hook. With a Cyberman though, they butcher you.
They maim you. They take what’s left of your body and fuse it with machine. But in Blood
of the Daleks” Martez goes one worse. She butchers her people. She maims them. She treats them with chemicals and she mutates them. She turns them into Daleks. And, if you
have good ears, you may catch the hint that the people of Red Rocket Rising are not the luckiest bunch in the universe – it’s heavily implied that help is on the way from Telos at
the end of the story, and so after half their number have been turned into the Daleks, the surviving half will live only to become Cybermen!
For me though, the triumph of Blood of the Daleks lies in how it completely encapsulates the idea of what a Dalek is. Much like Robert Shearman’s phenomenal scripts for Jubilee and Dalek, this story leave the listener with no doubts whatsoever as to the nature of the Daleks. Each and every Dalek trait – fascism, racism, cruelty, hatred - rears its ugly head at some point in the narrative.
And so on the first front, the author succeeds admirably. For new listeners, he sets up the Daleks as the threat to the universe that they
truly are. But on the second front, he goes one better. Less than a week after The Runaway Bride aired, once again the Doctor is stunned
by the sudden, inexplicable appearance of a strange woman in the TARDIS console room.
Oh yes - Blood of the Daleks introduces us to Lucie Miller…
This two-parter gives little away about Lucie, raising far more questions than it answers.
We know that she is a “no-nonsense 19 year old from Blackpool” and little more. She saw something. And because of that something, the Time Lords plucked her out of time and dumped her on the Doctor – a “witness protection program” of sorts. She isn’t happy about this. Nor is the Doctor. Those who couldn’t stand the sixth Doctor and Peri arguing should
be warned, the banter between these two ain’t pretty…
…but it is entertaining. Very entertaining. McGann and Smith have real chemistry and work wonderfully together. Initially, Lucie isn’t the most likeable girl in the world, but she has the endearing trait of being very-down-to-Earth, whilst still being able to play her cards close
to her chest. It’s refreshing to have the mystery surrounding the companion rather than the Doctor, and I can’t wait to see how her story arc pans out. Katarina Olsson’s Headhunter – “Identity and purpose, as yet unknown…” - is also sure to play a pivotal part.
Above: Kenneth Cranham as Tim Cardwell (without the tin foil hat...)
What’s more, the supporting cast is stellar. With the greatest respect to Big Finish’s regular troupe of performers, after ninety monthly releases it’s nice to hear some different voices coming at you – especially those of talents like Anita Dobson, Kenneth Cranham, Gerry O’Toole, and Hayley Atwell. The latter, despite lacking the ‘big-name’ status of some of the others, really stole the show for me with an absolutely spellbinding, tortured performance.
And so Blood of the Daleks does little besides impress. A fan that has never bothered with Doctor Who’s ‘expanded universe’ could tune in to this and enjoy it, as could someone who has only ever seen the new series on television. It isn’t too indulgent; it doesn’t dwell at all
on the audios and novels that have come before, but it does subtly hint at the Daleks being embroiled in some resource-sapping war, and who knows what Lucie witnessed and how important it could prove to be...
I just wish I didn’t have to wait until six months after transmission concludes to own all eight episodes on CD – surely it should work the other way around?
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
As the novel Vampire Science is very specific about three years having passed for the Doctor since he left Sam behind (as opposed to about six centuries!) we do not think that the eighth Doctor’s travels with Lucie can feasibly take place during the same “Greenpeace rally” gap as his adventures with Charley and C’rizz. Whilst the Doctor is discernibly insincere whenever the topic of his age is broached, and he could simply
be fibbing about his “three year” sojourn, the fact that he barely remembers Lucie when they are eventually reunited in Orbis suggests that he’d hardly be likely to remember to collect Sam after the events of Death
As the final eighth Doctor novel, The Gallifrey Chronicles, sets up the restoration of Gallifrey – an event which must occur for the planet to be destroyed again in the Last Great Time War – we take the view that the eighth Doctor’s adventures with Lucie take place some time after the (first!) resurrection of the Time Lords.
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