Gareth plays Kalendorf in the 4 part Big Finish CD story 'Empire of the Daleks' written and directed by Nicholas Briggs. Part 1 and part 2 have already been recorded, and are available here.

Review By Julia Jones

I'll note first that while this story is set in the Dr Who universe, it does not feature Dr Who himself. It's a look at what was going on elsewhere, and other people's battles against the Daleks. The CD is part 1 of a four part serial. I gather from Judith's comments that there are prequels as well, which I'm glad to hear because I kept getting the feeling that I didn't have some of the background information. There was enough in the CD to keep me going, but I sometimes felt as if I'd come in on the second episode.

That aside, I enjoyed this CD, and am looking forward to the rest of the story. The CD is about 70 minutes long, nearly as long as three of the TV episodes with the credits and teasers removed, and this gives time to build up the plot without having to put in a cliff-hanger. While I've thoroughly enjoyed the Big Finish CDs that used the "25 minute and cliff-hanger" episode structure, the longer format seems more appropriate where we don't have the familiar cast, and need to be introduced to all of the characters as well as the plot.

Excellent cast, and a script written by someone who knows how to write for audio. Good solid plot, using scenes that don't have too many characters to easily follow by voice alone, and with clear changes from one scene to the next. This might not seem worthy of comment, but I only managed to get halfway through _The Sevenfold Crown_ before giving up and reading a new fanzine instead...

It's a nicely complex story, tackling the issues of how to behave during and after invasion. This CD sets the scene for a look at whether it's better to die and deprive the enemy of your labour, or to collaborate with the occupiers in the hope of being able to fight back later. I'm looking forward to seeing how this is developed in the next CD. There are also some good observations about how one can unwittingly help the enemy.

One of the things I particularly liked was the characterisation of the Daleks. This is a hive society with a rigid hierarchy, but it is still made up of individuals rather than mindless drones. There is also an intelligent explanation of why the Daleks have enslaved the human population of the planet instead of simply wiping them out.

And then, of course, there's the reason I bought the CD. Gareth Thomas plays Kalendorf, a man injured during the invasion and taken for slave labour. He turns out to be more than he seems. Excellently played. And being the low sort of person I am, I *thoroughly* enjoyed the line "Hold me", said to the female lead <grin>.

If the rest of the set holds up to the promise of the first CD, then I can recommend this series.

Last changed on 23rd of October 2001

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