Audio drama makers Big Finish has just announced details of a project on which I've been working most of this year. DOCTOR WHO: ENEMY OF THE DALEKS is a four-part adventure featuring Sylvester McCoy as the seventh Doctor, with Sophie Aldred as Ace and Philip Olivier as Hex. Here's the advance publicity blurb for my story: 'The TARDIS travellers fall in with starship troopers struggling to defend a remote research facility from an all-out Dalek attack. But this time, could it be the Daleks need saving…?'
If you've never heard a Big Finish audio drama, it's like a radio play with enhanced production values. Sold via download or on CD, each story is recorded in a studio with professional actors. An extensive post-production process follows, and each story has its own unique musical score. Officially licensed by the BBC, there have been some significant crossovers between the Big Finish range and the hit TV series, particularly in terms of talent.
I've been writing scripts for Big Finish off and on since 2001. My first efforts were for the 2000 AD range of audio dramas, to which I eventually contributed five Judge Dredd thrillers. Soon after starting on Dredd, I was fortunate to have a story commissioned for the Sarah Jane Smith audio range. Test of Nerve was a break-through, full of plot and excitement and ethical dilemmas for the cast - an early example of my writing voice emerging.
When Doctor Who celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2003, Big Finish was allowed to run wild with a spin-off range called Doctor Who: Unbound. These stories rewrote continuity or presenting new interpretations of the Doctor. I was among the writers who contributed, alongside such heavyweights as Robert Shearman [Dalek] and Marc Platt [Ghostlight]. My effort, Full Fathom Five, was controversial but still wins plaudits for pushing the envelope.
From there I got the chance to write a Sapphire & Steel audio for Big Finish, before getting a commission to script all four stories in the second series of Sarah Jane Smith audios. Writing four hours of interlinked drama was a brilliant opportunity to stretch myself as a scribe, and gave me a taste for series work. By this time it was the end of 2005 and my MA screenwriting course was fast becoming an all-consuming activity in my life.
As a consequence I had to step aside from a commission to write my first audio for the main Doctor Who range at Big Finish. I was sad to lose this opportunity, but hopeful I'd get another chance. That finally came this year, with an invitation to pitch for an opening. I won the gig and the project's been inching forwards ever since. My work on the scripts is done and a recording date is imminent. The results will be available on CD and download next May.
ENEMY OF THE DALEKS is my 13th audio drama for Big Finish, and I believe it's among my best work for the company. I've learned a lot about writing since completing work on SJS series two, and - hopefully - my dialogue's improved considerably. I've been fortunate to work with a great script editor and executive producer, both of whom pushed me to extract the most drama from my story and characters. The results should make gripping listening.