Inspired by the original Eagle comic strips, the cast for B7 Media’s dramatic new audio version of Dan Dare – currently recording in London – has been announced.
Ed Stoppard – The Pianist, Joy Division, Brideshead Revisited and Youth – has been cast as the intrepid ‘pilot of the future’ Colonel Dan Dare. He’s joined by Geoff McGivern as Digby (McGivern is best known to science fiction fans as the original Ford Prefect in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and Heida Reed as Professor Jocelyn Peabody.
Reed currently plays Ross Poldark’s first love, Elizabeth, in the hit BBC drama Poldark.
“It’s very exciting to have been cast as Dan Dare,” says Ed Stoppard. “We’re having a ball. It’s very nice to be doing something that isn’t overly earnest, and is great fun at the same time – although I’m also learning a lot about cosmology, quantum mechanics, plasma drives and the like.”
As for his take on the classic British comic book character, Stoppard goes on to say, “Dan’s an intrinsically, morally upright man, the kind of man we could really do with in Number 10 or the White House. ‘Hero’ is too simple a term to describe him – he’s got a complexity to him.”
“It’s an effable delight to play Digby in Dan Dare,” says Geoff McGivern, who is convinced Douglas Adams was inspired by the Eagle comic strip the new audio adventures are based on. “I’m sure Hitch Hiker’s came out of Douglas reading Dan Dare, because he was the same age as me, and created his own take.”
(Adams was indeed an Eagle fan; there’s a letter by him published in the weekly comic here on “Letters of Note”).
“It’s a great challenge,” says Heida Reed of playing Professor Peabody, long-suffering foil to Dan Dare’s action man, “and very different to Poldark. It’s great to play a character like this – she’s both intelligent and challenging.”
“It’s been a long-held ambition of mine to bring Dan Dare back to the radio waves,” says producer/director Andrew Mark Sewell.
“We’ve not only managed to bring together a superb cast, but in Ed Stoppard we’ve found a lead actor who embodies the spirit of the original Dan Dare and makes him feel utterly relevant today.”
Raad Rawi, known for roles in Spy (2015), The Devil’s Double (2011) and Traitor (2008) features as Dan Dare’s arch nemesis, the Mekon, an alien leader plagued by Dare’s loyal ally and Treen resistance fighter, Sondar, voiced by Bijan Daneshmand.
“It’s extremely exciting to be in this show, given the people I’m working with,” says Raad Rawi.
He insists the Mekon is “misunderstood”, not evil. Rawi, who is a fan of SF authors such as Frederick Pohl and Phillip K. Dick, feels “doing audio completely frees the imagination”, making for great opportunities for actors on the series.
“We don’t have to worry how we look,” he feels. “We can imagine it.”
As it is for many of the cast, science fiction is something of a departure for actor and abstract painter Bijan Daneshmand, but he’s finding it fun, especially playing an alien. “You can sound different to your normal human being voice!”
And does he think there is alien life out there? “Definitely,” he insists, echoing the views of many of the other actors in the cast, who are currently midway through recording the first of six all-new Dan Dare audio adventures.
Completing the regular cast as Space Fleet boss Sir Hubert Guest is Michael Cochrane, a familiar face, and voice, who has appeared in many popular television dramas, and most recently can be heard in Dan Dare guest star Nicholas Briggs’ acclaimed audio reboot of The Prisoner starring Mark Elstob.
B7 Media’s Dan Dare Audio Adventures offers a distinctly 21st century take on the space adventure hero first brought to life in Eagle comic in the 1950s. Other guest actors in this first season include Jake Maskall (EastEnders, The Royals), Hugh Fraser (Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Sharpe), Nicholas Briggs (Doctor Who, Torchwood), Noof McEwan (Vera, Leave to Remain), Jonathan Rhodes (M.I. High, Beacon 77, Deadpan Valentine), Kelly Burke (The Blind Man) and Dean Harris (The Fourth Arm, Howards’ Way, Bad Boyes).
Inspired by the original Eagle comic strips, the all-new Dan Dare audio adventures are being directed by Andrew Mark Sewell (The Martian Chronicles, Blake’s 7) and produced by Simon Moorhead (Luna, Mirrormask). Former Doctor Who Magazine and Marvel Comics editor, John Freeman, is attached as consultant to the series.
The Dan Dare Audio Adventures Cast
Ed Stoppard – Dan Dare
Ed Stoppard is perhaps best known for his film roles in The Pianist, Joy Division, Brideshead Revisited and Youth, starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel. He also played the banking mogul Rob in British independent feature film Papadopoulos & Sons.
Television roles include Sir Hallam Holland in the BBC sequel to Upstairs, Downstairs; the Channel Four mini-series adaptation of William Boyd’s critically acclaimed novel Any Human Heart, The Frankenstein Chronicles and Cilla, starring Sheridan Smith. Most recently Ed starred as Dr Will Campbell in ITV’s hit drama series Home Fires (following the story of a group of inspirational women in a rural Cheshire community during World War Two).
His numerous stage credits include the title role in English Touring Theatre’s 2005 Hamlet; alongside Anita Dobson in The Merchant of Venice and Konstantin in Chekhov’s The Seagull at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2003. His West End credits include Tom Wingfield in a 2007 revival of The Glass Menagerie opposite Jessica Lange; the British premiere of Wit and the West End revival of Arcadia, the author of which escapes him.
Geoff McGivern – Albert Fitzwilliam Digby
Geoff McGivern is probably best known to science fiction fans as the original Ford Prefect in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – on radio since 1978 and in the recent live UK tours.
His recent TV work includes three different roles in Toast of London; Esio Trot with Dustin Hoffman,; Matt Le Blanc’s business manager in Episodes; marrying June Whitfield in Boomers; Plebs; and the Archdeacon in Grantchester.
He will shortly be seen in Disney teen musical, The Lodge; Upstart Crow with David Mitchell; and a sitcom pilot with Mitchell and Webb called Back for C4.
Heida Reed – Professor Jocelyn Peabody
Heida Reed is an Icelandic actor known for TV dramas including DCI Banks, and Silent Witness. She currently plays Ross Poldark’s first love, Elizabeth, in the hit BBC 1 drama Poldark, opposite Aiden Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson. Her other credits include series regular Adele in Fox’s Jo, which stars Jean Reno in his first TV lead, and appearing alongside Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in One Day.
Bihan Daneshmand – Sondar
Bijan Daneshmand is an accomplished actor and fine-artist. Notable credits include the lead in 20 Fingers, winner of Best Digital Film at Venice Film Festival 2004. He also produced, directed and appeared in A Snake’s Tail, winner of Best International Feature at the Bare Bones Film Festival USA 2006. Other credits include Women Without Men (dir. Shirin Neshat), Body of Lies (dir. Ridley Scott), Munich (dir. Steven Spielberg), Page Eight (dir. David Hare), Two Plus Two (dir. Babak Anvari) and most recently the critically acclaimed BBC dramatisation of John le Carré The Night Manager (dir. Susanne Bier). He has also appeared in numerous radio plays for BBC Radio 4, including B7 Media’s The Boy from Aleppo Who Painted the War; and for BBC World Service.
Raad Rawi – The Mekon
Raad Rawi is perhaps best known for roles in Spy (2015), The Devil’s Double (2011) and Traitor (2008). He will be known to many for his appearance in some of the most popular British television drama series including Coronation Street, The Bill, Silent Witness, Holby City, Murphy’s Law, Dalziel and Pascoe, Judge John Deed, Cadfael, Mona Lisa, Midnight Express, Bugs, Bergerac, Boon, Bust, Crown Court, Play for Today, Spooks and The Tudors. Most recently he appeared as General Tariq in two seasons of US hit series Tyrant.
Michael Cochrane – Sir Hubert Guest
Known for playing suave upper class characters, Michael was born in Brighton and educated at Cranleigh School. He entered the acting profession in 1967 at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford in An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde. There followed years in rep around the country before he joined the Radio Drama Company at the BBC in the early 1970s.
He has appeared in numerous series, serials, plays, sitcoms and drama-documentaries on both television and radio. His TV appearances have included Wings, Criminal Justice, Law and Order and as Sir Henry Simmerson in the period drama series Sharpe. His film career has included roles in Escape to Victory, The Return of the Soldier, Number One Gun, The Saint, Incognito, A Different Loyalty and The Iron Lady.
His many genre credits include having twice appeared in Doctor Who, first as Charles Cranleigh in the serial Black Orchid (1982) and later as Redvers Fenn-Cooper in Ghost Light (1989). He was featured in the ITV science fiction series The Uninvited and has also appeared in numerous audio dramas from Big Finish. Most recently he can be heard in Nicholas Briggs’ acclaimed audio reboot of The Prisoner starring Mark Elstob.
Guest stars include Jake Maskall (EastEnders, The Royals); Hugh Fraser (Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Sharpe); Nicholas Briggs (Doctor Who, Torchwood); Noof McEwan (Vera, Leave to Remain); Jonathan Rhodes (M.I. High, Beacon 77, Deadpan Valentine); Kelly Burke (The Blind Man); and Dean Harris (The Fourth Arm, Howards’ Way, Bad Boyes)