Doctor Who review: Daleks and history collide in The Curse of Davros

The Sixth Doctor is reunited with both an old friend and an even older enemy in Doctor Who audio story The Curse of Davros.

It seems that every time Big Finish brings Davros back in a Doctor Who audio, they always aim to do something different and unique with the character. Something that will make each and every story stand out in their own way. This sounds like a basic thing to do, but it can be hard to get the balance right of staying true to what makes a villain so interesting while still doing something fresh with them. Does The Curse of Davros get that balance just right?

The story begins with the Doctor being reunited with Phillipa Jackson (or “Flip” to her friends), someone he once met while traveling with former companion Evelyn Smythe. (Specifically, during earlier audio adventure The Crimes of Thomas Brewster.) At the very start of the story, the Doctor is already on the run from the Daleks, having stumbled across a plan from Davros that stretches across time zones. But what is the creator of the Daleks up to this time?

What’s interesting about this audio is that initially, the hook seems to be that it’s a Dalek story mixed with history – specifically, the Battle of Waterloo. So you have the Doctor and Flip meeting both Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington while having to fight off the Daleks. That should be enough of a hook for the story – in fact, the original title for this audio was Waterloo of the Daleks, which is in itself a great title.

But there’s another hook to this story – one that’s very focused on both the Doctor and Davros…

Doctor Who

The Sixth Doctor once again confronts his old enemy. But what is Davros up to this time?
Image Courtesy BBC Studios, BritBox

What is “The Curse of Davros”?

The Curse of Davros is a great title. It not only suits the story well, but it’s more focused on Davros than the Daleks, which is rather fitting. There’s a plot development that’s nicely hidden in plain sight, at least for the first half of the story. When it’s finally revealed, it not only gives us arguably one of the best cliffhangers from Big Finish ever. (Seriously, I’m shocked that it’s been so overlooked, to be honest.)

But it also provides a fresh look at Davros. Having reviewed a number of Davros stories already, I’m pretty sure I’ve used plenty of variations on “a fresh look at/take on/exploration of” etc when it comes to Davros. But I’ve gotta be honest: it’s also very true. Across many stories, Big Finish has done a really good job of looking at the character in different ways. None that are contradictory, just giving us key glimpses of what makes him tick.

The Curse of Davros is no exception. Other audios and TV stories have explored what drives Davros. What makes him do such terrible things? What does he truly believe in? What are his morals?

The Curse of Davros explores the other side of that. What holds him back? What’s it like to actually live like him? What does he feel? And could anyone else go through what he’s gone through? Jonathan Morris does a great job of exploring these questions in an extremely interesting way.

Great performances

On top of that, Morris’s story also allows both Colin Baker and Terry Molloy to give radically different performances. They’re both given challenging material to play, and they make sure to have a lot of fun with it, too. Listening to them performing radical new takes on their roles was a real treat, and one more bonus from this extremely enjoyable story.

On top of that, we also need to mention just how brilliant Lisa Greenwood is as Flip. As mentioned, this isn’t her first time playing the character, but it is a great way of re-introducing her as a companion. Greenwood brings a lot of energy to the role, and she’s a great match for Colin Baker’s Doctor. In short, it’s a great way of beginning her story with the Doctor properly.

The Curse of Davros is a highly entertaining story, one that provides a mix of both historical and Dalek adventure while also giving us another great way of exploring Davros. Arguably one of the villain’s lighter stories on audio, but still a strong one to listen to.

Have you listened to The Curse of Davros? Do you think it explored the villain well? Do you think the historical setting worked for the story? Let us know in the comments below.