Gareth plays Kalendorf in the 4 part Big Finish CD story 'Empire of the Daleks' written and directed by Nicholas Briggs. Part 1 has already been recorded, and is available here. Gareth will be recording Part 2 in early June.

Review By Judith Proctor

I've now listened to Invasion of the Daleks twice, which is a recommendation in iteself. Henry (age 14) borrowed my copy and promptly listened to it a second time almost as soon as he'd finished his first pass, so that's another recommendation.

The strength of this Big Finish product partly derives from good solid script-writing, in this case by Nicholas Briggs, who also directed and helped produce. This may help explain the coherent feel of the final result.

I've become a lot more aware of some of the technical aspects of writing for audio since I started mentally comparing Big Finish's work to the B7 radio plays. Some of the reasons this story works so well include the fact that there are never more than two main characters in any one scene, a cast with distinctive voices, careful use of background sounds to establish the location, and a story line that uses flashback in just the right amount to add variety and establish the scene visually on occasion.

So what's it all about?

This is a Dalek story without Dr Who. The main characters are Susan Mendes (a geologist) played by Sarah Mowat, Alby Brook (a young man who is in love with Susan and working incognito for Space Security), and Kalendorf played by Gareth Thomas.

Kalendorf is a man of mystery. He's on some kind of mission and is a wanted man, but we don't know why he is wanted, expect that the body looking for him is some kind of Intelligence organisation. When the Daleks attack, he is injured and has virtually given up hope, but is pulled back from the brink by Susan. (This loss of hope is probably why he reminds me of Blake on Gauda Prime). He definitely has more to him than meets the eye as he was trained by the Knights of Velyshaa and we get one or two hints of what he may be capable of and the strength that underlies his character. I'm certain we'll find out more about him in the later CDs in the series - Gareth says the second one has already been recorded and there are to be four in all.

All the cast give a good performance. Susan is a very strong character who has the courage to insist on reason even when she is frightened and directly threatened by daleks. Alby is cynical, but with layers to his character. Kalendorf is even more cynical, but there's humanity in him too.

The daleks themselves work very well on audio. Their distinctive voices are instantly recognisable. The invasion fleet is massive, there's actually a reason for them using slave labour rather than machines, and they have some plan that is more complex than meets the eye. I haven't quite figured out what they are up to yet, but I have suspicions... (Henry had the intelligence to read the blurb in the slipcase booklet, so he also has ideas as to what the daleks are seeking.)

As for special effects - well, you know what they say about the pictures being better on the radio. I can even see the cute robot in my mind's eye! (Alby's attempts to manipulate it provide necessary light amusement to counterbalance a plot in which millions of people get exterminated)

I'm glad Gareth is in this one, as I might not have listened to it otherwise, and it's well worth listening to, both for Gareth and for an interesting, well-produced story that has me looking forward to the next installment.

PS. Henry, being inspired to go and listen to other Big Finish CDs after listening to Invasion of the Daleks, has just picked The Genocide Machine, The Apocalypse Element and The Mutant Phase out of my stock box as he's worked out that they are prequels to Invasion of the Daleks. He read the blurbs on the back and spotted common plot elements and then we realised that they are all part of the Dalek Empire series - I think I'll probably listen to them all after he's listened to them (he's listening while washing the dishes). Invasion of the Daleks stands up well on its own so far, but I'm interested enough to hear some of the earlier Dalek histories in the same series. This is terrible -- I'm not even a Dr Who fan! I do like listening to audios though. I can listen to them lying down when my neck hurts and there's never any wobbly sets on audio either. I find it an ideal medium for an older series like Dr Who where the actors are all older - voices stay pretty much the same even when faces age.

Last changed on 11th of July 2001

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