The Omega Factor: Review: 1.4: The Hollow Earth

OFDR01_cover_1417SQAnne and Adam investigate a church that appears to be at the centre of unexplained disappearances…

Ken Bentley’s finale for this first (please let it be the first, not the only) Omega Factor box set matches the high standard set by the previous stories, with some neat narrative touches, great use of a church organ as a church organ (rather than just providing a different sort of quality for the incidental music), and some really scary moments.

You realise quite quickly that either Big Finish have gone seriously backwards in terms of their quality control, or that all is not being presented in the usual way. The explanation doesn’t come until quite late in the proceedings, although what it is you’re listening to rapidly becomes clear. It’s an appropriate conceit for a story that owes some of its roots to Nigel Kneale’s seminal ghost story.

As writer, Bentley puts his characters through the wringer, both physically and emotionally, testing the faith of those who work at the church as well as the visitors. Guest stars Tracy Wiles, Derek Hutchinson and Lorraine Armstrong are uniformly excellent – Wiles, in particular, presenting a very realistic edge to the faith of the character she’s portraying. As director, and in tandem with sound engineer Martin Montague, Bentley keeps up the tension and draws the listener into the horrific events unfolding – particularly when some of the characters go further than they might expect.

Louise Jameson and John Dorney work very well together: although Anne Reynolds may not have quite the dramatic range of some of the parts Jameson has played for Big Finish (notably her Jackie in Survivors), she’s provided some of her strongest work on this set, and Dorney – as noted in previous reviews – has credibly moved Adam from the bored nurse of the opening to the investigator here.

As Louise Jameson notes in the extras, the idea of The Omega Factor had such potential and the legs to run for a number of seasons. Hopefully – even if it is 35 years later – more of that will be realised in the coming months. Certainly, if producer David Richardson and the team can keep the spirit of the original intact while still moving it forwards, as they have in this set (and not succumb to any temptation to rework it into something it was not), then I look forward to this being a long-running success. (With the original theme music?)

Verdict: A suitably dark ending. 9/10

Paul Simpson

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