The year is 2099 and Professor Nebulous is director of
eco-troubleshooting organisation K.E.N.T. (the Key Environmental
Nonjudgemental Taskforce). But it's so under-funded it subsidises
its work by running a launderette - and the twin-tub's malfunctioned.
In a post-apocalyptic England, cattle-clasm has wiped out
most of the livestock, there are new months such as Octember
and Janril, and climate change has formed a drizzly new season
called Hamble. Nebulous is determined to get Earth back on
the right track, but he must pit his wits against sentient
dust, killer cacti, naked aliens and the evil Dr Klench, who's
bent on world domination. Can K.E.N.T. save the day before
the spin cycle finishes? K.E.N.T. can do...
its environmental, post-apocalyptic subject matter has much
in common with shows such as Doomwatch, Quatermass
and The Survivors, this Radio 4 comedy sci-fi series
perhaps holds the greatest appeal to fans of Doctor Who
- especially fans of the UNIT era, when the Time Lord was
stranded on Earth and regularly had to contend with narrow-minded,
unhelpful government ministers not dissimilar to Sir Ronald
Rolands (Graham Crowden, A Very Peculiar Practice,
Waiting for God). His catchphrase is: "I'd like to
do what I can, but I'm afraid I can't."
Another regular character is Professor Nebulous's embittered
invalid chum Harry (Paul Putner, This Morning With Richard
Not Judy, Little Britain): "Unlike you, Professor,
I no longer have the luxury of [insert body part of the week
here]". His motorised chair and abrasive electronic voice
make him more than a little reminiscent of Dalek creator Davros.
himself is played by Who writer and actor Mark Gatiss
(The League of Gentlemen, Funland)
at his sardonic best. His arch enemy is Dr Klench (David Warner,
Star Trek, Big Finish's Sapphire & Steel) who
puts in two appearances in this six-part series, in the second
instance breaking out of Strangmoor Prism (a combination of
story elements from the Who serials The Mind of
Evil and The Sea Devils). Both actors have portrayed
alternate versions of the good Doctor himself. Gatiss played
him in "The Web of Caves", a sketch shown as part of BBC 2's
Doctor Who Night in 1999 (and eventually released on
DVD as a special feature in the Beginning
box set). Warner starred in the Big Finish audio production
Doctor Who Unbound: Sympathy for the Devil, in which
Gatiss played his arch enemy, the Master. Graham Crowden
was also offered the role - back in 1974, when Jon Pertwee
announced his departure - but he turned it down. I'm drifting...
Who elements include a talking cactus (Meglos),
vegetarians being regarded with suspicion (The
Green Death), sonic screws, and beautiful aliens
who hide an ugly secret (The
Claws of Axos). The electronic incidental music
provided by Nicholas Briggs (another Big Finish stalwart)
is also distinctly Pertwee-era. Briggs also directs and plays
several small voice roles.
Nebulous is written by Graham Duff (Dr.
Terrible's House of Horrible, Ideal),
who also portrays self-professed ladies' man Rory as well
as a number of smaller roles. The Dr. Terrible connection
is immediately evident in the show's wonderful episode titles,
including Madness is a Strange Colour and The Man
Who Polished the Sun. Each instalment, or "holofile" as
it is called, also has a three-digit serial number. In an
apparent homage to the stardates used in the original series
of Star Trek, these numbers appear to follow no order
The humour extends to the CD's sleeve notes, also written
by Duff. These take the form of an appeal for help in tracking
down the many "missing" episodes of Nebulous. In case
you hadn't yet spotted the similarities to Doctor Who,
the titles of these "lost classics" include Terror of the
Horrornauts and Genesis of the Faceless Ambassadors
Contrary to the sleeve listing, the half-hour episodes are
not subdivided into tracks, which isn't terribly convenient.
However, that's my only real criticism of this highly enjoyable
unlike me, you don't have the luxury of this triple CD, I
suggest you obtain it as soon as possible - if not sooner.