Dalek Empire 4: The Fearless
Part 1

Starring: Noel Clarke and Maureen O’Brien
Big Finish Productions
RRP £10.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 300 2
Available 31 October 2007

The Daleks are slowly but surely conquering our galaxy, and it seems that nothing and no one will be able to stop them. However, Commander Agnes Landen has an idea. On the outer planet Talis Minor, Salus Kade is struggling to keep his isolated colony alive. The last thing he needs is a war to fight. Nevertheless, a war is what he gets - when the Daleks arrive...

Apart from the Seventh Doctor crossover special, Return of the Daleks, it’s been three years since the last Dalek Empire release. Rather surprisingly, however, The Fearless does not pick up where Dalek Empire III left off, despite the ending to that series having proven to be rather inconclusive, leaving the fates of several of its characters hanging in the air. Instead, like Return of the Daleks, this new set of four episodes takes us back to the time of the first series, when Susan Mendes was the so-called “Angel of Mercy”. We hear briefly from Suz (Sarah Mowat), but this is purely for the purpose of setting up the context (and doesn’t really merit her billing on the front cover). This new series concerns an entirely different set of characters.

The Fearless stars two actors from opposite ends of Doctor Who history. Noel Clarke plays Salus Kade, a decidedly more heroic character than his more familiar Mickey Smith, albeit a reluctant one. He is lured into heroism by his circumstances, rather like John McClane in the Die Hard movies or Casey Ryback in Under Siege. Former First Doctor companion Maureen O’Brien is also cast against type, playing the sly military commander Agnes Landen.

Writer/director Nicholas Briggs’s plot involves the development of battle suits to help human warriors stand up to the might of the Daleks, raising the possibility that this technology may dehumanise the wearers (the Fearless of the title) as much as the Daleks themselves have been corrupted from their Kaled forebears. Similar ground was covered in two Steve Lyons stories: the audio drama Blood of the Daleks, in which a human scientist used Dalek technology to turn human beings into Dalek-like creatures, and the earlier Missing Adventures novel Killing Ground, which saw human colonists willingly transforming themselves into “Bronze Knights”, cybernetic warriors designed to take on the Cybermen.

In other respects, though, Dalek Empire 4 shows all the signs of becoming another exciting “movie in sound” featuring the pernicious pepper-pots.

Richard McGinlay