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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Enemy of the Daleks


Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 409 2
Available 30 May 2009

Bliss used to be a paradise planet, the Galapagos Islands of space. But when the TARDIS takes the Doctor, Ace and Hex there, the planet has been overrun with ironweed plants, and the air is heavy with the stench of burnt silk and static electricity. Worse, the Daleks are coming, on the trail of a lost patrol of starship troopers. Holed up in the Roarke 279 research facility, Lieutenant Beth Stokes is preparing her last stand against the invaders. But there’s a secret on Bliss, a secret guarded by the obsessive Professor Shimura. This time, could it be the Daleks that need saving...?

A scientist on a human colony world taking a leaf out of Davros’s book by creating a deadly new creature to rival the Daleks? It’s been done before, in Steve Lyons’s Blood of the Daleks, which itself bore comparison with the same author’s 1996 Missing Adventures novel Killing Ground, in which human colonists were transformed into “Bronze Knights”, cybernetic warriors designed to defeat the Cybermen.

However, the riveting writing of David Bishop (who honed his skill for action-packed audio on Big Finish’s Judge Dredd series) and Ken Bentley’s direction ensure that there is rarely time for listeners to think such nit-picking thoughts. This time the Daleks don’t have a devious and complicated scheme to get one’s head around. Instead, the mystery lies in the question of what has happened to life on Bliss, a turn of events that places the TARDIS crew in mortal danger almost straight away.

The production is further enlivened by the fact that Philip Olivier’s Liverpudlian nurse Hex has never before encountered the Daleks, which brings a new perspective to the creatures. In a powerful performance by Olivier, Hex is sickened by the ruthless destruction he witnesses. Also worthy of note is guest star Kate Ashfield as Beth Stokes, a Valkyrie (female space soldier) who has been mentally scarred by her experiences with the Daleks. However, it’s sometimes difficult to tell what Eiji Kusuhara (as Professor Toshio Shimura) is saying.

Ace’s (Sophie Aldred) knowledge of how to fight Daleks and of the Valkyrie fighters would seem to suggest that this adventure takes place after her three-year tour of duty in Spacefleet in between the New Adventures novels Love and War and Deceit. In an interview at the end of Disc 1, the writer confirms that his characterisation of Ace was influenced by that range of books. This, together with comments made by the actress in an interview at the end of Disc 1 of The Magic Mousetrap, leads me to wonder whether all the Ace / Hex stories could be set post-The New Adventures.

Meanwhile, the characteristic whirring noise of Dalek movement heard in the new television series comes in handy here for conveying to listeners that the invaders are close by, without characters having to tell us so. And throughout, of course, Nicholas Briggs is as gripping as ever as the various voices of the Daleks.

Disc 2 of this two-CD release also contains the second mini-episode of the 12-part Companion Chronicles tale The Three Companions. This is very much Polly’s (Anneke Wills) part of the story, as she tells an elderly Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), with whom she is chatting on the internet, about an adventure she once experienced with the Second Doctor, Ben and Jamie on a creepy alien planet. As usual, Wills mimics the vocal styles of her former fellow cast members with great skill.

All in all, this makes for blissful listening.


Richard McGinlay

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