I’m one of that generation who watched and loved The Omega Factor when it was first broadcast 35 years ago – I bought Jack Gerson’s novel (it’s not fair to call it a novelisation, given how different it is from the broadcast series) and reread it periodically, and then enjoyed the DVD release of the show a few years back. I was lucky enough to interview star James Hazeldine a few weeks before his untimely death, and he was full of interesting insights into the show. Based on the strength of Big Finish’s first boxset of Survivors, I was hopeful that its resurrection by much the same team – producer David Richardson, script editor Matt Fitton and director Ken Bentley – would be a fitting continuation of the show.
Louise Jameson is one of Big Finish’s core team of performers, and of course played Anne Reynolds in the original series. She steps back into the role as if the intervening years haven’t happened, and is well matched with John Dorney as Adam, who is the son of Tom Crane, Hazeldine’s character. To an extent, this opener has to match many of the same beats as the original series’ first episode, introducing Department 7 and its rather unusual remit, as well as the Crane family’s predisposition to psychic phenomena, and Fitton does a fine job, giving some depth to Adam before he is dropped into the more outré elements of the set-up.
Director Ken Bentley allows the tension to build, and Martin Montague’s sound design is excellent at providing an audio equivalent to the hallucinatory visuals of the TV series. Nick Briggs’ music is appropriately dramatic (although it’s a real shame that the original jarringly eerie TV series theme isn’t used), and there are enough elements set up to make you want to jump straight into the next story.
Verdict: A strong opener that bodes well for Department 7’s future. 9/10