Audio Drama Review: ‘The New Counter-Measures: The Dalek Gambit’
by Rachel Bellwoar
“The Dalek Gambit”
Directed by Ken Bentley
Written by Roland Moore
Starring Pamela Salem (Rachel Jensen), Simon Williams (Group Captain Gilmore), Karen Gledhill (Allison Williams), and Hugh Ross (Sir Toby Kinsella)
As teased at the end of “The Movellan Manoeuvre,” the Counter-Measures team may have stopped the Movellans from invading Earth, but now it’s the Daleks’ turn to try. They have always been presented as one of Doctor Who’s biggest baddies (if not the biggest). You’d think then that an android race that went to war with them (and won!) would warrant more attention (‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’).
Somehow, though, the Movellans have only appeared on New Who once during Peter Capaldi’s era. Their main appearance was during the Tom Baker serial, “Destiny of the Daleks.” While the Daleks don’t take as long to appear in “The Dalek Gambit” as the Movellans did in “The Movellan Manoeuvre” (or at least not knowingly so, since these Movellans can pass as human), there’s more of an anxiousness for them to show up. Besides the giant clue of them being in the title, the Movellans were a surprise for listeners, too. Here, listeners are waiting for the Counter-Measures group to catch-up, since they don’t yet realize that the Daleks are involved.
Other than Nicholas Briggs, who provides the voice for the Daleks, the cast is exactly the same as “Movellan,” but Moore shakes the teams up, so instead of working with Toby, Allison works with Gilmore and Rachel works with Toby. Allison has the least to do, but Rachel fans won’t want to miss out on this story.
Since the future of The New Counter-Measures series is uncertain, the ending of “The Dalek Gambit” was always going to be a big deal. “Cancelled” isn’t a word that comes up at Big Finish too often, but it did after “The Hollow King,” so the fact that it’s gone on for two more stories is already a bonus, but it would be great if it could continue somehow, and Moore gives fans reason to hope that it might. Not everything gets squared away at the end, so the inclination is there. If the ending has one flaw it’s that you can’t see it coming. In a bonus interview, Bentley talks about the story being plot-based but the ending is all about character – one whose opinions haven’t been voiced or even hinted at before (though I’ll admit to not having a full knowledge of the series). While there’s always been some cause to be wary of Toby, suddenly it’s the whole Counter-Measures group that’s being shown in a different light. If this is how the series ends, it won’t be easily forgotten.
There’s one scene, where an emp machine goes off and something happens, that I don’t think should’ve been possible, but “The Dalek Gambit” has no problem picking up where “The Movellan Manoeuvre” left off and makes the prospect of Big Finish attempting more two-parters in the future an exciting one.
The Dalek Gambit is available to purchase from Big Finish.