Daemos Rising

Starring: Beverley Cressman and Miles Richardson
Reeltime Pictures
RRP 14.00
Certificate: PG
Available now

Kate Lethbridge-Stewart responds to a desperate message from ex-UNIT operative Douglas Cavendish, who claims to have seen a ghost. When she arrives at his country retreat, she realises that Cavendish is key in a plot to summon the Daemons back to Earth...

Daemos Rising is Reeltime Pictures' first Doctor Who spin-off drama in four years, but was it worth the wait?

In some respects it is a more modest production than Downtime or the two Mindgame video releases, with a tiny cast and a limited number of Earthbound locations. It reunites two characters from Downtime, Douglas Cavendish (played by Reeltime and Big Finish stalwart Miles Richardson) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart's daughter, Kate (Richardson's real-life spouse, Beverley Cressman). Joining them is Andrew Wisher (whose father Michael played a variety of roles in Who and Reeltime productions) as "the ghost", a character who proves to have a connection with Telos Publishing's new Time Hunter range of novellas.

In other respects, however, the production values have moved forward in leaps and bounds since Mindgame: Trilogy. Special effects are used sparingly, but to good effect, which is entirely the right approach for producer/director Keith Barnfather to have taken. The ghost effects are subtle, as is the illusion of Kate's unnatural reflection. Most impressive of all is the creation of a CGI Daemon. David J Howe's script challenges Azal's belief, in the 1971 Who serial The Daemons, that he was the last of his kind. Likewise, the radically different design of the creature challenges the assumption that all Daemons look like blokes with horns and furry trousers.

The chosen locations are impressive, too, including a picturesque cottage and the creepy Kents Cavern.

The script is by no means perfect in terms of its structure. It's a little slow moving to begin with, though atmospheric. The halfway point is heralded by a cumbersome dumping of information. The ending, like that of the original Daemons, is a rather talky affair. Fortunately, familiarity with the Time Hunter series is not required, though knowledge of Doctor Who's UNIT era is fairly crucial, particularly during the scenes involving Cavendish's "memorabilia".

The DVD contains 45 minutes of documentary featurettes, including plenty of behind-the-scenes footage; short interviews with the original writers of The Daemons, Barry Letts and Robert Sloman; and an examination of the painstaking creation of a very convincing looking "stone" gargoyle.

Despite some minor flaws, Daemos Rising certainly was worth the wait, an impressive production with performances to match. Go on... be a devil and buy it!

Richard McGinlay