Doctor Who
The Evil of the Daleks

Starring: Patrick Troughton
BBC Radio Collection
RRP 16.99
ISBN 0 563 52597 5
Available 02 August 2004

The TARDIS has been stolen from Gatwick Airport. The Doctor and Jamie follow a set of cryptic clues to an antiques shop owned by one Edward Waterfield. An elaborate trap has been laid for them, which takes them back in time to 1866 and thence to Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks...

Like The Power of the Daleks, this story was originally issued on cassette in 1992, with narration by Tom Baker, then re-released, in a remastered form, with new narration by Frazer Hines (Jamie), as part of the limited-edition 40th anniversary Daleks tin set.

The improvement in sound quality is even more remarkable than that of The Power of the Daleks, since the original cassette release of this story was of a very poor standard indeed, with pronounced hissing on the "s" sounds. Furthermore, two scenes in Episode One, set in the Tricolour coffee bar, had been excised due to their use of copyrighted tracks by The Beatles and The Seekers. Both scenes have been reinstated for this triple CD.

Much visual appeal from this classic story is, naturally, lost on audio. Scenes such as the opening search for the TARDIS, which was filmed on location, numerous fights with the mute Kemel (Sonny Caldinez), who communicates via sign language, and later scenes set on Skaro, simply don't work as well as they would have done on television (though some footage of the Daleks' "final end" can be seen on the DVD releases of The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Seeds of Death).

However, there is still plenty to enjoy. David Whitaker's script is full of superb dialogue, which ranges from the comic ("If only the laird could see that!" gasps Jamie, as he beholds a girl in a very short kilt) to the deadly serious ("The Daleks will take pleasure in killing everyone in sight," says the Doctor, "and their greatest pleasure will be in killing me"). Though we cannot see the corridors of the Dalek city during Episodes Six and Seven, fans will appreciate the welcome return of sound effects from the original Skaro story, The Daleks. Evil is also blessed with excellent incidental music, from Dudley Simpson, which includes a Dalek-style variation on the Doctor Who theme.

We also witness Patrick Troughton's Doctor at his most Machiavellian, appearing to assist his enemies, to the consternation of Jamie, who has a heated argument with his travelling companion.

Several David Whitaker stocks in trade are evident, including his ongoing love affair with the mysterious force that is static electricity, which he previously explored in The Power of the Daleks. Like Lesterson in Power, Edward Waterfield (John Bailey) suffers an equally convincing breakdown as a result of his involvement in the Daleks' diabolical plan. In common with Whitaker's subsequent Wheel in Space Cybermen script, the monsters' scheme seems a little over-complicated. The Daleks make contact with Waterfield in 1866, send him through time to 1966 to steal the Doctor's TARDIS and set a trap. They arrange for the Time Lord to be brought back to 1866, and then forward in time again for a trip to the planet Skaro. I can't help thinking there must be simpler ways for the Daleks to ensnare the Doctor and harness the so-called Human Factor.

Still, all this obfuscation keeps the seven episodes ticking along very nicely indeed. The changes of time and location ensure that the serial is never dull. Structurally, what we have is a four-part central segment set largely in 1866, which is preceded by an opening instalment that takes place in 1966, and followed by a two-episode conclusion on Skaro.

In addition, the third CD contains some rather appealing extra features. These include an original Dalek voice recording session and the final seven minutes of the serial sans narration. Best of all is the inclusion of the opening to the 1968 repeat screening of Evil, which features an introductory voice-over by Troughton. It's a pity that a complete set of non-narrated MP3 files could not also have been included, as they were in the CD releases of The Daleks' Master Plan and Marco Polo, but that's my only technical complaint about this excellent product.

The Evil of the Daleks is not without its flaws, but it remains a classic nonetheless.

Richard McGinlay

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