Kaldor City – Checkmate
A Review by Luke Parker

Well, this reviewer certainly never saw that plot development coming. Series co-creator Alan Stevens returns to pen this latest instalment and craftily takes the tale in a direction that even Carnell very likely could not have foreseen. The story cleverly twists and turns and spins off on a surprising tangent that is not signalled until you finally hear it. The plotting has been one of the smartest things about the Kaldor City range: you never really know what is going to happen next at all.

Revealing almost anything of the plot to Checkmate will spoil the surprises that the story throws up over the course of its sixty or so minutes; suffice to say that the escapade is every bit as exciting as it four predecessors. All of the familiar and popular elements from those plays are present here: action, suspense, intrigue and great performances from a superb cast. The regulars are all in attendance, with an expanded role for David Collings’ Paullus. Collings has a fantastically distinct voice, and judging from his performance in the Kaldor City series it is not difficult to understand why Big Finish cast him as The Doctor in one of their recent Unbound plays. The rest of the cast give it their all here too, with Brian Croucher and Trevor Cooper worthy of particular praise in the scenes that conclude the story for their pair of characters. Judging from what happens here, you certainly would not want Cotton paying you a visit in hospital! Paul Darrow’s Iago desperately attempts to salvage the situation that gets out of control with the rampaging, murdering robots, but will he succeed? Will Iago himself be redeemed by the end of the tale? Wha
t of Commander Uvanov – will he retain his position in the dictatorial society, or will events lead to his downfall? And just where has Carnell got to?

While the Kaldor City series appears to come to an end, it is by no mean certain that Kaldor City will not be heard of again as Stevens leaves things in such a way that almost anything could happen in possible future instalments. It is amazing to think that nearly thirty years after The Robots of Death was first broadcast that the team behind this series has managed to recruit all of the main players to reprise roles that they must have thought  they were long since done with. The roles from that story (and from the Blake’s 7 episode Weapon) are faithfully recreated by the actors who originally played them, and credit is due to the actors for making it seems like they had not been away from the characters. The established actors have been supplemented nicely too across the five plays by less familiar names like Patricia Merrick and Tracey Russell.

The range has been like a breath of fresh air to the world of science fiction audio adventures. Kaldor City has always had full casts, exciting, dynamic music and magic scripts. Stevens, together with his co-collaborators, have crafted a world and product that both they and Chris Boucher himself should be very proud of.