Dalek Empire 2: The Human Factor

Starring: Sarah Mowat and Gareth Thomas
Big Finish Productions
ISBN 1 903654 38 6, BFPCDDE02
Available now

Still searching for Suz, Alby and Pellan have to take on the Daleks on the storm planet of Guria. Meanwhile, Kalendorf is concerned that Suz is becoming little more than a collaborator. Suz is worried too...

In order to keep the Daleks dramatically interesting it is necessary, and always something of a challenge, to find different things for them to do in each story. Writer/director Nicholas Briggs has succeeded in doing just that. In the previous instalment of this four-part series, we were surprised to hear the Daleks showing leniency towards their slaves, although their motive was to improve the workers' efficiency - and the metal meanies also have some other sinister purpose in mind. This time, we get to enjoy the creatures' awkwardness when they are forced to obey the orders of a mere human, Suz (Sarah Mowat), who has been granted special powers by the Dalek Emperor. In another stirring scene, we hear a damaged Dalek being tortured by human resistance fighters bent on revenge.

The over-enthusiasm of these rebels prompts a powerful speech delivered by Gareth Thomas, playing Kalendorf, about the right time and the wrong time for such acts of defiance. It takes you right back to the actor's Blake's 7 days, although Kalendorf remains a significantly different character to that goody-two-shoes Blake.

Briggs throws in some romantic interest to counterpoint the more grisly aspects of this tale of adversity, as Alby (Mark McDonnell) reveals to his shipmate Pellan (John Wadmore) his true feelings for Suz. That is not to say that we are placed anywhere close to Titanic or Pearl Harbor territory in terms of slushiness; nor do we have to wait until halfway through the story before the action starts! What we are given is some much-needed human interest in the midst of inhuman cruelty, which in this episode includes the moving fates of a planetary ruler (Adrian Lloyd-James) and his daughter (Georgina Carter).

The cowardly Pellan also comes into his own in this instalment, when he is forced unwillingly to go into battle.

This is a rousing drama that doesn't overlook the human factor.

Richard McGinlay