DW: Blood of the Daleks Review

DW Blood of the Daleks

Blood of the Daleks holds a special place in my heart, being the first audio drama I ever listened to, let alone the first Doctor Who audio story in general. It was on the radio, and having seen the TV Movie and liked Paul McGann as the Doctor, I thought I’d give it a go, and literally hundreds of Doctor Who audios have followed since! More of note in terms of this blog is that it’s the debut of Lucie “Bleedin” Miller, one of the more fun original companions, and also saw the Eighth Doctor transfer from traditional, “old Who” four roughly 30 minute episodes per story, into the “new Who” format of roughly one hour stories, with some being two parters. Also, it’s a Dalek story! Phew, that’s a lot of baggage, but does it work? Well…

Official Synopsis:

“People of Red Rocket Rising, my fellow citizens. Our long night is over. I’ve been contacted by a benevolent people. They too have known great trials, but they have overcome them and made it their mission to help others do the same. They have offered us refuge, and passage to the nearest human worlds. They have the resources, and the patience and compassion, to evacuate every one of us. My fellow citizens, my friends, rescue is at hand!”

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Paul McGann) – The Doctor has been travelling alone for a spell, and although he isn’t opposed to a new companion to travel with, he does take exception to the Time Lords forcing one on him without notice…

Lucie Miller (Sheridan Smith) – Lucie Miller was living her perfectly normal life until she suddenly found herself in the middle of a time machine with a dashing man in old-fashioned clothing in front of her… Not quite your average day then, really…

Eileen Klint (Anita Dobson) – Eileen Klint is President of Red Rocket Rising, and has decided to stay with her people instead of leaving the planet. Now what’s left of the planet is under threat once more, but all she sees is potential help…

Professor Martez (Hayley Atwell) – Martez has been obsessed with the Daleks since he found a crashed ship containing them, and has managed to create his own version of the deadly species. Now hiding his mind in the body of a female assassin, Martez is seeking to bring the Daleks to Red Rocket Rising in hopes they can help him finish his experiments…

Tom Cardwell (Kenneth Cranham) – Cardwell has been labelled a lunatic and an outcast, but he knows the truth. He knows about Martez’s Daleks, he knows that Klint will bring the real Daleks down to them, and he knows they won’t survive when she does…

The Daleks (Nicholas Briggs) – The Daleks are a ruthless race which want nothing more than to wipe out all other non-Dalek life, and that includes Daleks made by a human on the planet Red Rocket Rising…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW Blood of the Daleks Cover 1

The first series of “Eighth Doctor Adventures” had The Doctor and Lucie in the side bar, and other characters / images on the cover… it’s very odd, and makes the actual covers look rather plain…

The first thing I always notice when I listen back to one of the “Eighth Doctor Adventures” stories, rather than his Main Range ones or the recent boxsets, is that more modern and bombastic background music, and the more impressive cast list (that has only gotten more impressive as people like Sheridan Smith have gotten more and more famous). It lends a different atmosphere that succeeds in making this feel closer to the modern TV series, as if somewhere in the middle of the Eighth Doctor’s run is where Doctor Who changed its format.

Another thing that you’re quick to notice is Lucie Miller herself! She’s a no-nonsense “Northen lass” who doesn’t take kindly to sudden being in the Time Vortex on board the TARDIS, and soon lets The Doctor have it, even though he’s just as confused as she is. They spend most of the story arguing, and in fact The Doctor was perfectly happy to leave her on Red Rocket Rising (by the way, terrible name for a planet) if it weren’t for the mysterious reasons for her travelling with him (reasons that remain a mystery until the end of the first EDA series) meaning he couldn’t take off without her. They really bounce off of each other well, and that interplay only gets better as the series continues…

As for the overall story? Well, it’s pretty standard Dalek stuff, though with a small twist. A rogue scientist has created his own versions of the Daleks based on the wreckage of a Dalek ship… and then put his mind in the body of a female assassin in order to fake his death and avoid punishment for inhuman experiments… (which might have been one shock revelation too far, but hey-ho…) Anyway, soon Red Rocket Rising is plunged into chaos when an asteroid hits and the population is devastated, leading to a call for help. That call is answered by The Daleks, who wish to land on Red Rocket Rising to destroy the impure Daleks and take over (they were also the reason the asteroid hit the planet in the first place, for the record. Makes a slight change from unleashing a plague to weaken a population, I guess!)

So yeah, lots of The Doctor warning people not to trust The Daleks, lots of people not listening to him. One trampy, tinfoil hat type guy does, and he’s a fun character (though mostly for Lucie Miller taking the piss out of him, which sounds cruel, but… hey, I found it funny) but in general is pretty standard Dalek affair by the end. That’s fine though, because Blood of the Daleks was always more about Lucie Miller and her story arc going forward than it is a Dalek story, despite the name…

The Bad:

Beyond the aforementioned name of the planet sounding really stupid, and the backstory of Martez possibly being a bit too much, there isn’t much to dislike. It’s one of the better introduction stories, and it’s got some good moments, even if nothing screams originality…

The Continuity:

DW Blood of the Daleks Cover 2

From Series 2 onwards the two-part stories adapt the New Series idea of different names for each part, but not here!

Lucie just appearing in the TARDIS console room and giving the Doctor a new one like he just kidnapped her is extremely similar to how Donna Noble was introduced in the Tenth Doctor story “The Runaway Bride” (or at the very end of the previous episode, technically). Funnily enough they were both written and released in 2006, so it’s either a massive coincidence, or someone thought it was a good idea and copied it during the writing phase…?

When The Doctor meets Martez and his Daleks, he talks about meeting the actual creator of the Daleks and not stopping their creation, all from the Fourth Doctor TV classic “Genesis of the Daleks”. He also mentions some of the races the Daleks have been to war with, from Mechanoids (First Doctor TV story “The Chase”) to Movellans (Fourth Doctor TV story again, this time “Destiny of the Daleks”) and even other Dalek factions (various stories…)

Overall Thoughts:

Blood of the Daleks was my introduction to not just audio Doctor Who, but Audio Dramas in general, and it does a good job of it. Lucie Miller’s introduction is excellently handled and she plays off of McGann’s Doctor really well. The actual Dalek side of the plot is pretty standard, but it’s still good enough to carry the story to a satisfying conclusion. A good starting point for anyone wanting to give Audio Who a try!

4 Star Listen

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