Doctor Who-dunit – Omega by Nev Fountain

octorDoctor Who - OmegaWelcome to the Jolly Chronolidays Omega space-cruise. Experience the history of the first Time Lord. Find out how he destroyed a star to create the power source to enable the Time Lords to travel in time. And if you’re really lucky, you might meet the ghost of Omega himself – a disembodied spirit who only the Doctor can see. But if Omega is nothing but a phantasm, who is murdering people on board the space cruiser? As Omega’s plans advance, it seems that he is not the only one on board who is up to something dangerous…

Released in 2003, this was the first in a series from Big Finish featuring the Doctor’s archenemies – the other titles are Davros, Master and Zagreus. But it’s also a murder mystery with a unique twist…

You’d never know that Peter Davison apparently doesn’t rehearse his audio scripts – he just turns up and reads them, but he always produces a perfect performance. His Doctor is so natural a performance, you’d think he’s been playing him all his life – well, I suppose he has, on and off, for the past thirty years or so. And to quote David Tennant, he’s my Doctor. Tom Baker was the Doctor when I started watching, but Peter Davison was the Doctor when I started becoming a real fan of the show.

I don’t watch his stories very often – a lot of them have a very Eighties look and no decade has dated as badly as the Eighties. But luckily, you don’t have to see the scenery in an audio play.

Apart from Peter Davison, the cast does a really good job – the tone oscillates from dark to light to dark again and the cast handles it effortlessly. Ian Collier, reprising his role as Omega from the TV episode Arc Of Infinity, deserves a special mention for helping to give depth to a villain who, to be honest, was always a bit one-dimensional.

The other credit has to go to blog favourite Nev Fountain for a very clever script. Covering a multitude of deceptions and self-deceptions, secret and lies, and one of the cleverest cliff-hangers in Doctor Who history – which is played out at a perfect pace. Nev takes one of the oldest tricks in the detective genre and breathes fresh life into it. It’s possible that some mystery-loving listeners might get a bit grumpy as the whodunit elements does fade into the background for long periods as the science fiction story takes precedence, but it would take a grumpy person not to be impressed with the reveal. Although it might help if you’d seen Arc Of Infinity. But as he later did with the Mervyn Stone audio, The Axeman Cometh, he takes advantage of the audio format to do something original.

It’s available at an absolute pittance – £2.99 on download or £5 for the disc (and a free download as well) from Big Finish. In fact, the first fifty releases are the same price and most of them are well worth a listen. This one certainly is. Highly Recommended.

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12 comments

  1. This sounds awesome. I’ve been keen to listen to one of Nev Fountain’s mysteries, but the Mervyn Stone story you reviewed a while back is still quite expensive. This is a much better price!

    I agree about the eighties-ness of the Peter Davison episodes. I tried to watch The Caves of Androzani, because it was recommended as the best Doctor Who serial ever, but I just couldn’t get through it.

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      • I’m watching it now as a matter of fact. I’m quite enjoying it. A bit silly, and the identity of the traitor is a contender for World’s Least Shocking Twist, but not as padded as some of the other stories I’ve seen.

        A BBC article has just cited an episode called The Curse of Peladon as “an Agatha Christie whodunnit”. Is that one on your list?

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    • Androzani’s not really representative. I think people like it because it’s tough and butch and has got bearded men waving guns and saying things like “Bite, you slut, bite!” But it lacks the cleverness and charm and humanism of Doctor Who at its best.

      The Davison and Colin Baker eras are the show at its worst – Davison had the companions from hell, Baker had the costume, both had rubbish scripts and Eric Saward. Kinda, though, is wonderful, and Frontios and Enlightenment have their moments. But the show lost its footing in the late ’70s and didn’t recover until Sylvester McCoy.

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  2. Spot-on Steve – love this story and Nev does pull off a wonderful twist that really will catch out most listeners I would imagine. And I really chortled at your reference to Omega as being ‘a bit one-dimensional’ – nicely done sir …

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  3. You are correct that some mystery-loving listeners might get a bit grumpy. I am one of them. I felt a bit bored in listening to this , since, as you have mentioned, the science fiction element often takes precedence over the mystery element.
    However, I admit that the sudden revelation at the end of part 3 was a stunner. I am impressed.
    The trick as presented here can only be done in audio.
    You have referred to “The Axeman Cometh” where again there’s a trick based on audio. I am now eager to listen to it. I only hope that it isn’t the same trick.

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  4. Cute. I’d already decided what the twist was going to be from your review, so I wasn’t really surprised when it came (also I once wrote a Poirot pastiche based on the same trick, so the idea wasn’t new to me). But that didn’t matter; it meant I got to recognise and enjoy all the foreshadowing that Fountain put into the first fifteen minutes.

    I agree it dragged a bit in the middle, but there were a lot of very clever ideas. It’s convinced me to invest in The Axeman Cometh. Although I hope Fountain hasn’t beaten me to my OTHER idea!

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