After the Daleks breaks new ground for The Early Adventures, as it continues a story after the Doctor has departed. Picking up directly from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, it follows Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter, who was memorably locked out of the TARDIS and forced to start a new life in the ruins of Earth.
As Susan comes to grips with her new circumstances, we follow her surviving rebel allies. David Campbell is her beau, but he’s also involved in re-establishing food production at Kew Gardens. Meanwhile, Jenny has concerned herself with the plight of the Robomen; the brainwashed former Dalek troops are bereft of their memories and identities, as well as anyone to command them. Her interest is particularly motivated by the fact that her brother Victor is one of their number.
While Roland Moore’s story follows these familiar characters, it also considers the power vacuum left by the Daleks. Into that space steps the opportunistic Marcus Bray, a former Dalek puppet governor. Determined to seize control, this is a man who has learned much from his former masters.
Personal and Global
With a mission to feel like episodes seven to ten of the original show, tonally this continuation feels just right: the stakes are appropriately personal and global at the same time. Naturally, in homage to Terry Nation, there is also a great monster with some unique properties. Additionally, Roland Moore’s script makes a point of the original’s apparent temporal incongruities; despite its futuristic setting, the Dalek invaded Earth looked positively twentieth century. This is smartly attributed to a technology ban and allows for a couple of cheeky nods to later stories.
In the guest cast, Sean Biggerstaff is charismatic as David, the role formerly played by Peter Fraser, who acts as Susan’s guide to this world. Lucy Briers sparkles as Jenny, a part she has inherited from her mother Ann Davies, as she struggles to restore her brother and the other Robomen. As the villainous Marcus Bray, Jonathan Guy Lewis is ruthless, grasping and worryingly believable. Rounding out the cast, Oli Higginson brings pathos to the conflicted Victor while Nicholas Briggs adds a taciturn Dalek computer voice to his repertoire.
After The Daleks is directed by Lisa Bowerman and she keeps the pace up throughout – we were fully invested in the plight of these characters. The sound design and music from Toby Hrycek-Robinson was spot-on too, with the score also available as isolated tracks. Additionally, there is a wonderfully atmospheric video trailer, with visuals by David Burgess and sound by Benji Clifford.
Ultimately, this is Susan’s story and Carole Ann Ford clearly relishes returning to the character again. We have heard her play a later, wiser Susan, but never one so close to that original parting from the Doctor. Through a combination of an excellent script and a terrific performance, Susan demonstrates both her ingenuity and bravery here. Most importantly however, she is given agency: she makes a conscious decision to step up and to stay, rather than simply accepting her grandfather’s decision on her behalf.
While After the Daleks is a sequel, the other Early Adventure released this month is a prequel. The Secrets of Det-Sen tells of the First Doctor’s visit to the monastery seen onscreen in The Abominable Snowmen.
Doctor Who – The Early Adventures: After the Daleks is available on CD and download from Big Finish.