The iconic British Sci-Fi character Dan Dare has returned to the airwaves in a new audio series produced by B7 Media for Big Finish. The hero’s new incarnation takes off sonically with a reassuring swoosh of jet sounds in the first seconds of the opening episide, Dan Dare: Voyage To Venus, written by Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle. The listener is dropped directly into the breathless action of a cocky, confident test pilot who is recruited for the latest British space program. The rest of the show is pure audio adrenaline.
If it all comes through in a rush, it’s supposed to. Dan Dare began as a comic book in 1950, and quickly morphed into a radio series that gets called back at least once a generation. Referred to as the “British Buck Rogers,” the fast-paced series relies on hard Sci-Fi settings (spaceships, antagonistic aliens) wedded to furious plotting in order to deliver maximum entertainment. He has become almost as much a touchstone of British Sci-Fi culture as Doctor Who, being referenced, for example, in songs by pop-rock icons Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Art of Noise and Elton John. A punk bank, the Mekons, took their name from the primary villains in the Dare mythos.
As audio drama, it’s not Shakespeare, but then again, it’s not meant to be. The series is not afraid of entertaining its audience. Despite its decline in Canada (the CBC stopped producing audio drama in 2012, for example), the medium remains wildly popular in Britain and countless other territories around the globe. Indeed, audio drama is still a vital art form, one that pauses to re-invigorate itself every few years.
Dan Dare is one of those periodic revivals, full of energy and insight on why a non-visual medium would become so imaginative. The comic book narrative transferred to the air makes for an ideal listening situation, allowing its audience to fill in the images for themselves. The delivery mechanism has changed (podcasts, direct downloads), but the wonder remains.
With expertly executed direction by Mark Andrew Sewell of B7 Media, a top-notch cast (Ed Stoppard as Dare, Geoff McGivern as Digby, Heida Reed as Peabody, and Raad Rawi as The Mekon), and fabulous music by Imram Ahmad, the cast and crew of Dan Dare: Voyage To Venus deliver a blast of pure audio excitement that sets the stage for an exciting series of Sci-Fi adventure.