Following the conclusion of The Omega Factor Series 3, the announcement of Festival of Darkness came a little out of left-field. Written by Natasha Gerson and read by Louise JamesonFestival of Darkness was released just in time to celebrate the show’s 40th anniversary.

Festival of Darkness

Natasha Gerson holds a very special place in the mythos of The Omega Factor. Not only is she the daughter of the show’s creator, Jack Gerson, but she also appeared as the mysterious Morag, someone who has also put in appearances in Big Finish’s continuation. It’s safe to say that she truly knows these characters and that becomes clearer as the story develops. The continuation of the show by Big Finish is set in the modern day. There have also been a few audios set in the continuity of the original show, giving new fans a chance to see why the show was so popular in 1979.

Gerson continues to bridge the gap between 1979 and 2019 by having some of the story told in 1979 and book-ending the piece in the modern day. This strategy gives Adam Crane a chance to get to know his father and the series as a whole has a feeling of trying to live up to legacies.

Written by Natasha Gerson

Set during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a malign influence threatens to endanger a group of young performers. The story is told in the first person which adds a feeling of personality to the piece and really gets you invested in the characters. We are privy to information and the mind sets of characters we might not otherwise get to know. It really adds to a sense of unease as the story rapidly reaches its conclusion.

Gerson’s handle on the main characters is excellent. Louise Jameson’s Anne Reynolds is younger here but very clearly the same version of the character we know. Tom Crane is just as brave and mysterious as he always was. Gerson also deftly pairs the modern era of Department 7 with the older. So great is her handle on the characters, one can easily imagine this being a full cast drama as you can hear the actors’ voices when Jameson reads their dialogue.

There’s also wonderfully descriptive dialogue making your minds-eye work overtime as it tries to keep up! It really helps to paint the picture, especially if you have never experienced the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before. The story builds to its conclusion and a usual meeting of good and evil. Gerson effortlessly blends the two eras of the show together and some of the elements of Festival of Darkness still feel relevant today.

Doctor Who's Louise Jameson (Dr. Anne Reynolds) and James Hazeldine (Tom Crane) in the original series of The Omega Factor (c) BBC Studios
Doctor Who’s Louise Jameson (Dr. Anne Reynolds) and James Hazeldine (Tom Crane) in the original series of The Omega Factor (c) BBC Studios

Read by Louise Jameson

Louise Jameson has always been a great narrator. She has a way of drawing the listener in with her easy going manner and it makes the whole experience a real joy to behold. Jameson handles this story like she is sat around a campfire, telling ghost stories to thrill and terrify us. Like Gerson, she too has a great handle on the characters. While she doesn’t try to give the characters different voices and accents, she does inject just enough character into each line of dialogue to prove that less is more. Each character feels completely different and Jameson never once slips up in differentiating them. Where necessary, she shifts the pitch of her voice to help us along and it isn’t every actor who can do that. Even her handle on the monsters and villains sounds pleasingly unpleasant! Overall, she helps to craft a truly excellent story.

The Legacy of The Omega Factor

The Omega Factor ran for only one series in 1979 but since 2015, Big Finish has shown how much love there is for the show. Across three series and the original novel Spider’s Web, they’ve proved that brilliant ghost hunters don’t need proton packs to be relevant.

A lot of the success of the reboot at Big Finish comes from the present day location, helping to inspire a new layer of terror. With the show now celebrating its 40th anniversary, it is clear that is still a much loved property not only by the fans of the original series but the new fans it has made over the last few years. No doubt Jack Gerson would be very happy indeed that so many younger people were revisiting the show all these years later!

Overall

Festival of Darkness is a great entry to The Omega Factor and for a while no doubt, a conclusion to the series. Handled brilliantly by Natasha Gerson, the story moves along at a real pace, keeping you engaged throughout the entire run time. Louise Jameson is once againg a tremendous narrator. She brings this story to life and the pair have created a brilliant audio experience.

If this is to be the end of The Omega Factor at Big Finish then it’s a great way to bow out. Blending both eras of the show together to develop an enjoyable and immersive adventure. But something is telling us this won’t be the last we hear from Department 7…

Synopsis

Tom Crane is supposed to be taking a break from the paranormal, but a plea from Anne draws him unwillingly back. Something is happening to a group of performers at the Edinburgh Festival – preternaturally talented children working closely with Department 7 – and even the usually unflappable Martindale is spooked.
Why is Tom so affected by the children’s performances? Who stands to benefit from their bewitching talents? And what is the connection with the mysterious Morag, who has started haunting Tom’s dreams…?

Credits

The Omega Factor: Festival of Darkness is available now from the Big Finish website. The title is priced at £9.99 to download. The Big Finish App, available on Apple and Android devices, also makes listening even easier. It is a free app to download, just search in your app store.

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