Britain’s greatest space hero, Dan Dare, soars again in a new series of audio adventures
Our very own pilot of the future Dan Dare returns in a new audio play.
Dan Dare is set for a relaunch this December, and things have changed a bit for the Pilot of the Future. “Hollywood has reset the bar when it comes to dialogue and plotting,” says Richard Kurti who – along with writing partner Bev Doyle – is part of a team helming a new series of audio adventures adapting Dare’s original run from the 1950s: Voyage To Venus, The Red Moon Mystery and Marooned On Mercury. Adds Kurti: “What worked 50 years ago risks no longer keeping an audience engaged today. That meant adding more layers and twists to the plotting, and being much quicker and less old-fashioned with dialogue.”
Kurti and Doyle’s new range of full-cast audio adventures (produced by B7 Media and released by Big Finish) return Eagle comic’s pilot to active duty in Space Fleet. And while directly inspired by Frank Hampson’s original artwork, they’ve also modernised elements of the stories. “We tried to make the audio soundscape really rich and fascinating, using many layers of great FX and music,” Kurti reveals.
The series’ cast includes Geoffrey McGivern – Ford Prefect in the original radio version of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – as Dare’s loyal sidekick Digby, while Poldark’s Heida Reed is Professor Jocelyn Peabody and Raad Rawi (The Devil’s Double) brings arch nemesis the Mekon, leader of the Treens, to scheming, dome-headed life. As for Dare himself, he’s voiced by Ed Stoppard (The Pianist). “Watching Ed in the studio was great,” Kurti says. “He completely understood the role and seemed to effortlessly embody the spirit of Dan.”
So just how do you preserve the authentic ’50s spirit of Dan Dare without it descending into a jolly old spoof? “I think the key to this is that the characters always take the situations they’re in seriously,” says Kurti. “The jeopardy is real, their lives are in genuine peril. The second an actor starts to think ‘This is a Dan Dare adventure,’ the whole thing collapses into pastiche. Andrew Sewell, the director, was brilliant at keeping everyone in the right zone.”
And with a second volume set to follow in 2017 – Reign Of The Robots, Operation Saturn and Prisoners Of Space – there’s definitely scope for original adventures down the line. “There are hundreds more stories to tell,” says Kurti. “And we’d love to get our hands on the controls again!”
Dan Dare Vol 1 is released in December.