The latest audio revival from Big Finish is a series that enjoyed just a single ten-episode run on BBC One in the summer of 1979.
The Omega Factor followed the story of journalist Tom Crane, whose psychic abilities brought him into contact with the secretive Department 7.
Staffed by a team which included physicist Dr Anne Reynolds (Doctor Who’s Louise Jameson), the Edinburgh based government department pursued “the science of the mind”; matters such as ESP, telekinesis and spiritual possession. These investigations drew them into conflict with a sinister organisation known as Omega.
Returning some thirty-five years on, Matt Fitton’s ‘From Beyond’ deftly reintroduces the series’ premise; Department 7, now led by Dr Reynolds, is under threat when Adam Dean (John Dorney) arrives. The estranged son of Tom Crane, he has inherited both an archive of paperwork and his father’s “gift”. The latter is promptly employed in unravelling the tale of a woman attempting to contact her recently deceased twin brother.
Phil Mulryne’s ‘Old Gods’ takes the pair out of Edinburgh on the trail of a missing student. Claiming to be sensitive to electro-magnetic fields, she has fled to a remote community run by the darkly charismatic “Magus” Edmund Fennick (Terry Molloy). When an impetuous Adam takes himself undercover, he finds a terrifying secret lurking at the heart of this refuge.
‘Legion’ by Cavan Scott supplies a frightening tale of exorcism and extortion, as the work of Wanda MacCrum comes under the scrutiny. Throwing links back to the original series, it highlights the strength of Adam’s burgeoning abilities.
Finally, Ken Bentley’s ‘The Hollow Earth’ revolves around Department 7’s investigation of missing homeless people at a city church. Playing out in real time, and with a found-footage sensibility, the tale draws on notions of ley lines and sacred geometry as it builds to a thrilling denouement.
With its heady mix of the scientific and the supernatural, The Omega Factor is terrifically entertaining and at times utterly terrifying. Louise Jameson’s rational, pragmatic Dr Reynolds is well matched by John Dorney’s impulsive and sometimes irreverent Adam, who begins his journey as a sceptic. With a strong guest cast supporting the two leads, the four hour long stories fully exploit the audio medium’s limitless budget with unsettling white noise, beastly noises and demonic voices.
As there is little mention of the eponymous Omega, and a fair few plot threads left open, we are thrilled to see there has already been a further season commissioned. In the meantime, the original TV series has shot to the top of our DVD wish list!
Extras: The release comes with a comprehensive disc full of interviews featuring the cast and crew, covering the series’ development through to its recording.
Released in July 2015 by Big Finish.
What did you think of the set? Let us know below…