Dalek Empire II: Dalek War
Chapter Four

Starring: Gareth Thomas, Sarah Mowat and Mark McDonnell
Big Finish Productions
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84435 021 5, BFPDECD08
Available now

Two millennia ago, the galaxy was devastated by a terrible catastrophe. Could it be that Kalendorf's determination to rid the galaxy of both factions of Daleks brought about the destruction of everything...?

The device of telling the story via archaeological evidence uncovered 2,000 years later is an interesting one, though not unique. Similar things have been done in science fiction before - on Babylon 5 for instance. But it does add a note of finality to events, by setting a segment of the story in a time when we know all our favourite characters will be long since dead. It's a bit of a downer, but it still leaves things open for possible future development.

As this chapter of this epic saga draws to a close, and so too does the saga itself. If there are to be any further Doctor-less Dalek adventures from Big Finish, they certainly won't revolve around the characters of Suz (Sarah Mowat), Alby (Mark McDonnell), or Kalendorf (Gareth Thomas). That fact is made pretty obvious by events in the story, but it is also spelt out on the bonus behind-the-scenes CD, which is included free with this instalment.

This extra disc also reveals some production secrets, interviews the major stars, and contains a suite of Nicholas Briggs' incidental music. We learn, for example, that poor Mark McDonnell didn't get the pleasure of snogging Sarah Mowat for real during the making of Chapter Three - the appropriate sounds were created by the actress kissing her own arm!

In case you hadn't already noticed, the Emperor's connection with Susan Mendes is rather similar to the bond that was established between the Supreme Dalek and the little girl in Remembrance of the Daleks (an aspect that was realised better in Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation than on TV). This relationship is exploited to the full in this concluding instalment.

I'm rather glad that writer/director Briggs has decided to end the series now, rather than allow it to become stale. I shall miss his cast of characters, but then there's nothing to prevent me from digging out the CDs and listening to them all over again.

Richard McGinlay