Inspired by the original Eagle comic strips the writers for B7 Media’s dramatic new audio version of Dan Dare have been announced – but there’s no casting news just yet.
“Space is back! After years languishing in the backwaters, suddenly the romance of space has ignited the public imagination again,” say lead writers Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle. “Nothing captures this feeling better than the original Dan Dare comic strips, which ran from 1950 to 1967, when being an astronaut was the coolest thing on the planet.”
Joining Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle (Going Postal, The Martian Chronicles) are: James Swallow (Star Trek, Doctor Who, 24), Simon Guerrier (Doctor Who, Sapphire and Steel), Marc Platt (Doctor Who, Oz) and Patrick Chapman (The Martian Chronicles). Series script editor, Colin Brake (Bugs, EastEnders) will write the season one finale.
“From Chris Hadfield’s rendition of Space Oddity on the international space station, which clocked up 26 million hits on YouTube, to the 200,000 volunteers for a one-way ticket to Mars, people now see space exploration as something daring and romantic,” Kurti & Doyle believe.
Tim Peake’s six-month mission for the European Space Agency, becoming the first Briton in space since Helen Sharman travelled on a Soviet spacecraft for eight days in 1991, and the first to do so under a British flag, has also captured many imaginations, inevitably prompting nostalgia for Britain’s fictional hero, Dan Dare.
“The challenge for us was to strip away the stiff-upper-lip, old fashioned, class-ridden heroics,” Kurti & Doyle continue, “while retaining the courage, idealism and spirit of adventure that is at the heart of Dan Dare.”
Inspired by the original Eagle comic strips, the all-new Dan Dare audio adventures will be directed by Andrew Mark Sewell (The Martian Chronicles, Blake’s 7) and produced by Simon Moorhead (Luna, Mirrormask). Former Doctor Who Magazine editor, John Freeman, is attached as consultant to the series.
“We’ve assembled a great team that has respect but not reverence for the original comics, and a real passion for sci-fi and space exploration. Together we aim to bring you a truly cinematic audio series that recaptures the spirit of wonder and heroic adventure that characterized the original Dan Dare,” says director, Andrew Mark Sewell.
British science fiction action hero Dan Dare was created by artist Frank Hampson and his editor Reverend Marcus Morris, first appearing in the Eagle comic story “Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future” from 1950 to 1967 (and subsequently in reprints) and dramatised seven times a week on Radio Luxembourg between 1951–1956.
Described as “Biggles in Space”, the original incarnation was seen by some as the British equivalent of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Dan Dare returned in new incarnations to suit new generations: in the 1970s in the British weekly, 2000AD; the 1980s in the relaunched Eagle comic; and in the 2000s as an animated series; and a film project in the works in 2016.
Creators who have worked on the character include writers Frank Hampson, Chad Varah, Allan Stranks, Pat Mills (founder of 2000AD), Tom Tully and Garth Ennis. Artists who have drawn Dan down the years include Frank Hampson, Don Harley, Bruce Cornwell, Frank Bellamy, Keith Watson, Ian Kennedy, David Pugh, Keith Page, Jon Haward, Rian Hughes and Gary Erskine.
New comic strips featuring the original Dan Dare continue to be published in the magazine Spaceship Away.
DAN DARE SEASON ONE
VOYAGE TO VENUS
Written by Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle
Brilliant test pilot, Dan Dare, is chosen to fly the Anastasia – a new experimental spacecraft – on its maiden voyage to Venus. This isn’t exploration – it is to make first contact with a mysterious civilisation that has sent technological secrets as a goodwill gesture. However, what Dan, Digby and Professor Peabody find on Venus isn’t goodwill, but a terrifyingly intelligent, cold-hearted ruler, the Mekon. A creature destined to become Dan Dare’s nemesis – and Earth’s greatest threat…
Lead writers Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle are the award-winning team who wrote B7’s update of Ray Bradbury‘s The Martian Chronicles and the critically acclaimed dramatisation of Sumia Sukkar’s moving debut novel The Boy from Aleppo Who Painted the War for BBC Radio 4. Their highly regarded work for film and television includes adaptations of Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal (Sky 1) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped (BBC 1). Other notable credits include Primeval (ITV), Robin Hood (BBC) the hit BBC show Wolfblood and their own mini-series The Baker Street Irregulars (BBC 1).
Their shows have earned numerous awards and nominations, including: three BAFTA nominations, two Royal Television Society Awards and two RTS nominations for Going Postal; nomination for Outstanding Motion Picture Made for TV at the US Satellite Awards for Kidnapped; nomination for Best TV Series Drama at the Satellite Awards for Primeval, and four BAFTA nominations for Wolfblood.
THE RED MOON MYSTERY
Written by James Swallow
Unable to return to Earth, Dan Dare and the crew of the Anastasia head to the desolate planet Mars, where Dan’s estranged Uncle Ivor is part of a research team working on a top-secret archaeological dig; but when they find the base wrecked and the scientists missing, Dare, Digby and Professor Peabody soon discover that the Red Planet is not nearly as dead as everyone thought and that Ivor’s expedition has woken an army of deadly insect-creatures that threaten to swarm and engulf the Earth… Dare must stop the aliens, but can he really resort to genocide in order to save the human race?
James Swallow is a BAFTA-nominated scriptwriter and the author of several novels, including three New York Times bestsellers. His writing includes original fiction and work based on major intellectual properties (including Star Trek. Doctor Who and 24).
MAROONED ON MERCURY
Written by Marc Platt
When a distress call summons the crew of the Anastasia to the burning wilderness of Mercury, they are reunited with their old ally, Sondar. He tells them of the beleaguered Mercurians who are held in thrall to a cruel new taskmaster – the Mekon! The exiled Mekon is rallying his forces, plotting a desperate revenge against his former homeworld of Venus and his hated enemy, Colonel Dan Dare!
Marc Platt is a script writer and novelist, best known for his work on the television series Doctor Who, writing the acclaimed story Ghost Light; and novels, audio dramas (for Big Finish) and comic strips based on the show.
REIGN OF THE ROBOTS
Written by Simon Guerrier
Dan Dare and his crew finally return to Earth. Landing in central London, they find the city deserted – or that’s how it seems at first. But soon Dare faces an army of ruthless machines, robots who have conquered the planet and placed the surviving humans in slave camps. The robots are too powerful and too numerous to be resisted, and their invasion is complete. With limited resources, Dare, Digby and Peabody face their greatest challenge yet – to liberate planet Earth. But the task becomes more desperate than ever when Dan discovers the alien force behind the robot invasion…
British science fiction author, dramatist and editor Simon Guerrier has written numerous novels – including three Doctor Who adventures – and is best known for his scripts for Big Finish Productions’ audio drama and book ranges, working on series such as Doctor Who, Sapphire and Steel and Bernice Summerfield.
Written by Patrick Chapman
As work begins to rebuild planet Earth after the devastation of the robot invasion, Dare and his friends in Space Fleet remain vigilant, certain that it is only a matter of time before the Mekon launches a fresh attack. When the wreck of the Nautilus – an experimental ship lost over a decade before – appears in orbit of the moon, Dare, Digby and Peabody are sent to investigate. They find the ship and its crew were destroyed by advanced alien weapons. All clues lead them to Saturn’s moons. With Earth still vulnerable our heroes must journey to an unknown world – to discover who sent the Nautilus back, not realising that for once the source of their latest conflict comes from a lot closer to home. Not all would-be conquerors of planet Earth are alien…
Patrick Chapman’s published work includes two volumes of short stories and seven poetry collections, the latest of which is Slow Clocks of Decay (Salmon). He has also written an award-winning short film Burning the Bed, and multiple episodes of children’s animated television series Garth & Bev, Wildernuts, Bubble Bath Bay and Blinky Bill. His audio credits include writing a Doctor Who adventure for Big Finish, and producing B7’s critically acclaimed dramatisation of The Martian Chronicles and The Boy from Aleppo Who Painted the War for BBC Radio 4.
PRISONERS OF SPACE
Written by Colin Brake
After a sequence of near non-stop adventures Dare, Digby and Peabody find themselves in a strange limbo of paranoid calm. Whilst there’s been no sign of the Mekon anywhere in the solar system, Dare is certain Earth hasn’t seen the last of the evil alien. Mysterious spaceship disappearances near Venus, an Academy student accidentally launching a prototype new spacecraft, and a floating prison cell in space… reveal themselves as all part of the Mekon’s latest plan to defeat his arch-enemy Dan Dare once and for all. The first season of Dan Dare concludes with daring space action, fearless heroics and the revelation of devastating secrets concerning Space Fleet…
Coin Brake is a Writers’ Guild-nominated scriptwriter and Sunday Times best-selling author with 30 years of experience. He has written audio scripts, comics, short stories, interactive fiction, novelizations, children’s chapter books, and full-length novels. He has more than 60 TV writing credits including Bugs, EastEnders, Doctors, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Byker Grove and Family Affairs.
John Freeman (Creative Consultant)
Magazine editor and comics writer John Freeman’s credits include being editor of Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and numerous comics anthologies including Marvel UK’s Overkill in the 1990s and most recently, STRIP Magazine. He has written several audio comic scripts for ROK Comics including Team M.O.B.I.L.E. and has edited the British comics news site www.downthetubes.net since 1999.