‘RENAISSANCE OF THE DALEKS’
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Dalekmania and the H of Bidmead
This is an extraordinary and mind-boggling Dalek story with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa!
‘Renaissance of the Daleks’ was one of the earliest Big Finish audios that I purchased. I was really getting into these ‘Doctor Who’ audios with Peter Davison as the Doctor and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.
This is a four-part story from the mind of Christopher H. Bidmead. It’s a pretty complex tale about the Doctor and Nyssa travelling through various parts of Earth’s history as they are trying to solve a mystery involving the Daleks. This journey eventually leads them to a place outside space and time.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’ signed by the lovely Sarah Sutton at the ‘Bournemouth Film and Comic Con’ in August, 2014. I told Sarah that she was really good in this and she amusingly replied, “Was I?” Sarah can’t remember this audio story as she recorded this back in 2007.
The Doctor finds himself in an alternative version of 22nd Century Earth where the Dalek invasion never happened. Ordered by General Tillington to ‘correct’ Earth’s timeline, the Doctor goes to find Nyssa in medieval Rhodes before going throughout Earth’s history to discover the Daleks’ evil plans.
Chris Bidmead is well-known as the script editor of Tom Baker’s last season of ‘Doctor Who’ (Season 18). He’s written for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa before, as he wrote ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Castrovalva’ in the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy. Here, Bidmead makes his first Big Finish contribution to ‘Doctor Who’.
This story is unique as it is ‘from a story by Christopher H. Bidmead’ rather than ‘by’ him. Chris Bidmead felt that he couldn’t claim sole ownership of the story since it was changed a lot during in the scripting process. One wonders who the real writer of ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’ is in the end.
The story has full of Christopher H. Bidmead influences in it including actinoids; the temporal interocitor that Nyssa uses and a new Zero Room. I found it interesting how the story goes through various periods of history including medieval Rhodes; the American Civil War; and the Vietnam War.
I’m surprised that Chris Bidmead contributed a story featuring the Daleks in it. Bidmead rarely deals with classic ‘Doctor Who’ monsters (apart from the Master) in his stories. So it’s good he has a stab at writing for the Daleks in this one and that he presents them in a philosophical and intriguing way.
This story links back to ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ where the Daleks are supposed to be occupying Earth in the 22nd century. I like how the story develops with the Doctor uncovering more about what the Daleks are up to and why he’s in an alternative version of Earth history in the 22nd century.
The Daleks (voiced by Nick Briggs) appear as toys in this story. I love this idea. It’s pretty astonishing and neat to have Daleks as toys. I’ve written my ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special with the Daleks set in the 1960s where Dalekmania is at its height; the toys come to life and it’s a full-on Dalek invasion.
In the story there’s a Dalek city set outside of space-and-time. It’s built by having Daleks interlocking and linking with each other. I found this concept fascinating to listen to on audio and the Doctor and Nyssa comment on it being like ‘Logopolis’, which is another Bidmead influence found in this story.
Peter Davison is brilliant as the Doctor in this adventure. I like how Peter’s Doctor is disturbed by the change of Earth’s history with the Dalek invasion changed. He gets grumpy and irritable at times. I like the Doctor’s trust in his friends including Nyssa and he gets to sing ‘Three Blind Mice’ in this one.
Sarah Sutton is lovely and very good as Nyssa. This is the second time Nyssa faces the Daleks as she met them before in ‘The Mutant Phase’. Nyssa gets easily frustrated when her interocitor doesn’t work. I like how Nyssa’s scientific interest; her skills and her friendship with Mulberry are developed.
The story guest stars William Hope as General Tillington. Tillington is in charge of ‘Global Warning’ in the alternative 22nd century. He seems friendly when the Doctor meets him. But Tillington wants the Doctor to sort out the ‘correct’ version of Earth’s history with the Daleks but doesn’t trust him.
There’s also Stewart Alexander as the Sergeant, the second-in-command at General Tillington’s HQ. Stewart has appeared in the TV series of ‘Doctor Who’ in ‘Daleks In Manhattan’. The Sergeant reports to Tillington about changes in Earth’s timelines in the ‘Global Warning’ outfit they’re running.
The TARDIS gets crowded with a lot of ‘strangers’ including Wilton; Mulberry; Floyd and Major Alice. Jon Weinberg as Wilton is the nephew of General Tillington. He’s a young man who has an interest in time-travel technology and makes himself a ‘companion’ aboard the TARDIS, against the Doctor’s wishes. He gets to rescue the Doctor and becomes a spy for his uncle aboard the TARDIS.
Nicholas Deal as Mulberry is a medieval knight that Nyssa meets in Rhodes. Nyssa is suspicious of him at first, but it turns out Mulberry is a very noble gallant knight. Any science Mulberry encounters is referred as magic by him. Mulberry makes a noble sacrifice in the story in order to defeat the Daleks.
Richie Campbell as Floyd comes from the American Civil War. Floyd is a soldier fighting for the Confederates. He’s rescued by Nyssa and Mulberry during a gun-battle. I like it when Floyd’s the one who works out what the Doctor’s message is to him, Mulbery and Alice when they’re in the TARDIS.
Regina Reagan as Major Alice is from the Vietnam War. She’s a gun-ho, ‘tough-cookie’ character that gets rescued by the Doctor when her helicopter crashes into the jungle. She’s pretty bossy; shows no nonsense and is a bit of a control freak. She doesn’t want to go back to the war when all this is over.
There’s a mysterious creature called the Greylish, voiced by Nick Briggs. The Greylish is an ally of the Daleks that the Doctor, Nyssa and Wilton discover within the Dalek city outside space and time. The Greylish isn’t purely evil and seems to know the Doctor well when it reveals the Daleks’ plans to him.
The CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a trailer for ‘I.D.’ with Colin Baker. At the end of Disc 1, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with William Hope and Stewart Alexander by Nick Briggs.
At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with Jon Weinberg; Nicholas Deal; Richie Campbell and Regina Reagan by Nick Briggs. I’m sad that Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton weren’t interviewed as they’re the stars and I would like to have heard their thoughts on this story. There are also trailers for three ‘Doctor Who’ stories with Peter Davison. These include ‘Circular Time’ (my favourite Doctor and Nyssa audio CD by Big Finish), ‘The Gathering’ and ‘The Kingmaker’.
‘Renaissance of the Daleks’ has been a fascinating and enjoyable Dalek story to listen to. It’s not the greatest Dalek story I’ve heard, but I enjoyed it with the Doctor and Nyssa. Chris Bidmead has a good stab at contributing a story with Daleks and it’s worthy to include in your ‘Doctor Who’ CD collection.
‘Renaissance of the Daleks’ rating – 8/10
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