Long story short, The Omega Factor is an awesome piece of work.
For those who don’t know, The Omega Factor was a 1970s supernatural horror series that went out on BBC1 and starred, amongst others, one Louise Jameson. It was scheduled badly, and was on the receiving end of the wrath or Mary Whitehouse, and thus survived only a single season. However it was different to anything else at the time and pretty much since, and genuinely (in my humble opinion) had legs far stronger than the run it received .
Ms Jameson returns to the role of Dr Anne Reynolds. And she slips back into the role beautifully, just as she has the role of Doctor Who’s Leela – although this is far different, not least in the fact that unlike Leela the character Reynolds has been allowed to age with the actor. Hearing Jameson play a strong woman of her own age (differently strong to the journalist Jackie Burchill she plays in BF’s Survivors, at least) is a wonderful thing, with believable nuances of pathos and cynicism, anger and empathy, repeatedly jumping out in ways lesser actors would struggle to provide.
Jameson’s performance is complemented rather well by John Dorney’s Adam Dean, son of the original series’s Tom Crane and inheritor of the latter’s psychic ability. Again, a fine and believable performance that nicely illuminates the horror of the piece.
And ooh, the horror! Because that’s what this is, in the old fashioned tradition of which the original series, perhaps, was one of the dying embers. Barely a death, hardly any blood – not a slash-fest in any sense. But rather a set of stories that build the tension minute on minute, and which leave the listener (well, this one anyway) spooked right up until the final denouement.
I have some minor issues, of course. For a start there’s an arc through the stories around the closing of Reynold’s Department 7 that is rather too nicely and easily wrapped up in the final story. There’s also a tendency that I noticed in at least two of the stories (and possibly in all four, but it took me that long to spot the pattern) for the climax of each episode to sound a bit like Monty Python’s Sheffield’s Townswomen’s Guild’s re-enactment of the Attack on Pearl Harbour. Weirdly, though, this didn’t detract one iota – it felt entirely appropriate each time, and even though it was impossible to actually tell what was going on it was still a great relief when the goodies won (assuming they did, nuff said, no spoilers here).
But overall this is a cracking series and Big Finish at its best. Hats off to actors Jameson and Dorney, and writers Matt Fitton, Phil Mulryne, Cavan Scott and Ken Bentley for a must-hear.
Basically, miss it now at your peril.
Written By: Matt Fitton, Phil Mulryne, Cavan Scott, Ken Bentley
Directed By: Ken Bentley
Louise Jameson (Anne Reynolds/Demon), John Dorney (Adam Dean/James/Volunteer 2), Alan Cox (James Doyle/Beast/Ian Raskin/New Orderly),Sandra Voe (Mary McConnell), Natasha Gerson (Morag), Tracy Wiles (Reverend Lucy Douglas/Angie), Terry Molloy (Edmund Fennick/Malcolm McConnell/Chief Superintendent Malcolm Wade), Camilla Power (Dr Jane Wyatt/Presenter), Kate Bracken (Elinor Gordon/Volunteer 1), Georgie Glen (Wanda Maccrum/Demon),Hilary Maclean (Dr Jacqueline Everson/Samntha Matheson/Demon/Clerk), Derek Hutchinson (Fraser Kirkland/Peter/Orderly 2), Laura Dos Santos (Lorraine Armstong/Jill)
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs