The Dark Flame

Doctor Who: The Dark FlameHaving left Bernice on a research facility on Orbos to visit a colleague of hers, the Doctor and Ace are on their way back to Orbos when an unusually powerful distress call washes over the TARDIS’ telepathic circuits – powerful enough that even Ace picks up on it. The message, which the Doctor believes to come from his old friend Remnex, warns of the Dark Flame…and ends abruptly in a scream of agony. As it happens, Professor Remnex is also conducting research on Orbos, and the Doctor is relieved to find him in perfect health. Bernice, on the other hand, has waited two weeks for her colleague to arrive, to no avail, and no one can account for his whereabouts. The Doctor discovers that a pair of scientists on Orbos are planning to trigger a black light explosion in a nearby star, an ill-advised experiment that could have far-reaching consequences if not properly contained. Soon after his warnings about the impending experiment fall on deaf ears, the Doctor discovers that Remnex has been murdered, having sent his warning through time to the Doctor at the time of his death. The Doctor and Bernice recognize the hallmarks of the Cult of the Dark Flame, a group (thought to be extinct) which worships an energy being from a parallel, but dark, dimension. And if that cult gains control of Orbos and its black light experiment, the universe is in imminent danger. What the Doctor and his friends don’t know is that the cult is already in control.

written by Trevox Baxendale
directed by Jason Haigh-Ellery
music by Andy Hardwick

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Lisa Bowerman (Bernice), Michael Praed (Slyde), Steven Wickham (Victor / Joseph), Andrew Westfield (Remnex), Hannah Smith (Lomar), Toby Longworth (Broke)

Timeline: between the novels “The All-Consuming Fire” and “Blood Harvest”

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: With Big Finish’s Seventh Doctor/Ace series of audio adventures having run into something of a rut, this second audio set during the New Adventures novels is terribly refreshing – I’m starting to wish we’d been getting the Doctor, Ace and Benny all along. On some levels, The Dark Flame is pure clichè – the titular cult isn’t doing anything that quite a few similar wanna-be-universe-ending-entities haven’t already done in the course of the New Adventures, and I was overjoyed to hear the Doctor and friends win again in the end, if only because I was tired of hearing about the power of the Dark Flame.

Doctor Who: The Dark FlameIt’s a testament to an excellent cast, featuring Michael Praed of Robin Of Sherwood fame, that the story stands up as well as it does. And yet, despite the seeming familiarity of the material, it’s a whole different thing to hear it played out by some skilled performers – Sylvester McCoy is at his most Doctorish here, and Lisa Bowerman is again startlingly refreshing as Bernice, changing the whole dynamic of the regular cast. I really did feel like I was listening to someone’s audiotape recording of a TV episode that I hadn’t seen, and at the very least it’s an enjoyable two hours’ listening. Just be on the lookout for the power of the Dark Flame