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 Douglas Adams’ 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.
“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. “I’m sure Hitch Hiker’s came out of Douglas [Adams] reading Dan Dare, because he was the same age as me, and created his own take.”
“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 is a fan of SF authors such as Frederick Pohl and Phillip K. Dick. “Doing audio completely frees the imagination; we don’t have to worry how we look – 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.