Are you new to Dan Dare or a familiar friend? Either way, please, take a seat and fasten your safety belts as we blast off into a most enjoyable audio adventure.
Volume 1 of Dan Dare does a truly fantastic job of creating a retro-futuristic world. Dan Dare began as a comic strip in 1950 and has seen numerous reboots through the years, but don’t let that deter you if you’re new, you’re in good hands.
While the concept of a dashing, rebellious do-gooder may not be foreign to us in the 21st century, it is refreshing to have some of that classic, sincere, goodness with none of the cynicism. This collection of three stories is aware, and proud, of its origins but walks confidently as a modern action adventure. It even manages to, in its own fun way, tackle current, and sometimes topical, issues without the heavy handedness.
Dan Dare, played by Ed Stoppard, is everything you want from an action hero. He’s brave, bold and not afraid to stand up for what he believes in, and that’s for the freedom of all life. Stoppard oozes classic charisma that could never go out of date. Geoff McGivern plays Digby, the sidekick of sorts but unlike most duos, McGivern plays a strong, fatherly type, who is every bit as charming as our leading man, in his own way. Digby may be older, and out of shape but he is always better informed. Rounding out the trio of lead characters is Heida Reed playing Professor Peabody. Peabody is intelligent and practical. She’s lacking the same moral high ground of Dare as she’s there, first and foremost, as a scientist for her employers, but that doesn’t mean she’s not on our side. Of course, they all play wonderfully off each other to make a dynamic trio worth tuning into.
Voyage to Venus by Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle – 10/10
Episode one does a superb job updating newcomers and veterans alike. It’s a straightforward first entry in many ways but expertly crafted. Introductions are made between our major characters so that we learn who they are and we never look back. This doesn’t mean we’re rushed through, we’re merely kept in constant motion as the plot progresses and danger and excitement grows.
With every hero comes a villain and Raad Rawi as The Mekon truly captures your imagination. Equal parts evil and intelligent we’re pitted against a character that is a fantastic foil to our hero, Dan Dare.
Voyage to Venus holds your attention from start to finish in the best possible way.
Red Moon Mystery by James Swallow – 8/10
James Swallow has the difficult duty of following up what is essentially a perfectly told story. Red Moon Mystery is another family friendly pulp adventure but expands the story beyond our three leads. The inclusion of a faulty family member adds a new layer and level of tension. Ivor, played by Jake Maskall is our standout support character who gives depth to a character we’ll want to see and learn more about.
The momentum has carried over from Voyage to Venus but loses a bit of speed to build upon the world and that’s not a bad thing.
Marooned on Mercury by Mark Platt – 8/10
The final story, naturally, has the highest stakes and really ups the ante. We’re faced with more enemies and we’re reintroduced to The Mekon who again, remains a terrific and terrifying villain. Now dethroned The Mekon has less to lose and is hell bent on revenge. Returning is the character of Sondar, the ambiguous friend or foe, played excellently by Bijan Daneshmand in another hypnotic performance.
Starting off slower than the others, Marooned on Mercury, picks up quick and leaves us on exciting cliffhanger wanting more Dan Dare.
Vibrant & Real
Director Andrew Sewell has pulled together a truly top notch cast and crew to make Dan Dare Volume 1 a must listen. Impeccable writing across the board, the cast bring so much life and excitement to the script. However, the real heroes of this audio adventure are the music by Imran Ahmed and sound design by Alistair Lock. The music is everything as it needs to be from pulse pounding in the action scenes to spooky during tense moments. The sound design is rich, vibrant and real. Some of the effects make it sound as if spaceships are indeed crash landing and opening around you. It feels like The Mekon is repositioning himself to be speaking in your face. Exciting!
Big Finish and B7 Productions have managed to update a classic hero to the 21st century and deserve high praise.
Don’t dare miss these stories. Join the adventure and have some good ol’fashioned science fiction fun.
Blogtor Overall Rating 9/10
Episode 1 – Voyage to Venus by Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle
Brilliant test pilot, Dan Dare, is chosen to fly the Anastasia – a new experimental spacecraft – on its maiden voyage to Venus. This isn’t exploration – it is to make first contact with a mysterious civilisation that has sent technological secrets as a goodwill gesture.
However, what Dan, Digby and Professor Peabody find on Venus isn’t goodwill, but a terrifyingly intelligent, cold-hearted ruler, the Mekon. A creature destined to become Dan Dare’s nemesis – and Earth’s greatest threat…
Episode 2 – The Red Moon Mystery by James Swallow
Unable to return to Earth, Dan Dare and the crew of the Anastasia head to the desolate planet Mars, where Dan’s estranged Uncle Ivor is part of a research team working on a top-secret archaeological dig; but when they find the base wrecked and the scientists missing, Dare, Digby and Professor Peabody soon discover that the Red Planet is not nearly as dead as everyone thought and that Ivor’s expedition has woken an army of deadly insect-creatures that threaten to swarm and engulf the Earth… Dare must stop the aliens, but can he really resort to genocide in order to save the human race?
Episode 3 – Marooned on Mercury by Marc Platt
When a distress call summons the crew of the Anastasia to the burning wilderness of Mercury, they are reunited with their old ally, Sondar. He tells them of the beleaguered Mercurians who are held in thrall to a cruel new taskmaster – the Mekon! The exiled Mekon is rallying his forces, plotting a desperate revenge against his former homeworld of Venus and his hated enemy, Colonel Dan Dare!
A fourth disc, entitled New Worlds, presents music by Imran Ahmad from Dan Dare and a variety of other B7Media productions.
Written By: Richard Kurti, Bev Doyle, James Swallow, Marc Platt
Directed By: Andrew Mark Sewell
Ed Stoppard (Dan Dare), Geoff McGivern (Digby), Heida Reed (Professor Peabody), Michael Cochrane (Sir Hubert), Raad Rawi (The Mekon).
Bijan Daneshmand (Sondar), Amber Aga (Treen General), David O’Mahony (Flight Engineer), Kelly Burke (Flight Control/Ergulux), Dianne Weller (Onboard Computer), Hugh Fraser (Ivor Dare), Jake Maskall (Sergeant Scott), Jalleh Alizadeh (Corporal Dajani), Alistair Lock (Crewman Galloway/ Treen Captain), Greg Keith (Doctor Harlan Stoll), Diane Spencer (Teacher), Ryan Sewell (Flamer Spry), Nicholas Briggs (Garlock)
Associate Producer Fiona McAlpine
Development Producer Patrick Chapman
Series Script Editor Colin Brake
Executive Producer Simon Moorhead
Producer/Director Andrew Mark Sewell
Executive Producers for Big Finish Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery
A B7 Production in association with Big Finish