Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Adventure from Big Finish

The longest running science fiction program on television, Doctor Who is possibly the most influential and ground-breaking series of its kind. Making advances in storytelling, electronic music and special effects on a budget best suited for a comic drama such as All in the Family or Party of Five, it forever changed what was possible with TV serial sci-fi. With stories set in the past, future, parallel dimensions and other worlds and realities, viewers watched the strange nameless adventurer known as the Doctor along with him triumph against any number of menaces that spat green goo from their rubber mouths.

Doctor Who_Frontios

The Doctor converses with the Gravis

Today, Doctor Who is still a cult series but it is enjoying an unparalleled popularity since its triumphant return in 2005.

But back in the day, it was this lot who pulled in the viewers and put down the paving stones that the BBC Wales Matt Smith series prances across (and knowingly so, if the inclusion of several references to the program’s past is any indication).

The initial cast from 'An Unearthly Child'

Doctor no. 1 (William Hartnell) with the initial cast from ‘An Unearthly Child’

Doctor No. 2 (Patrick Troughton) surrounded by monsters

Doctor no. 2 (Patrick Troughton) surrounded by monsters

Pertwee with monsters

Doctor no. 3 (Jon Pertwee) faces his foes in this publicity still

Doctor no. 4 (Tom Baker) with Daleks

Doctor no. 4 (Tom Baker) with Daleks

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Doctor no. 5 (Peter Davison)

Colin Baker_Nicola Bryant_1984

Doctor no. 6 (Colin Baker) happily lifts companion Peri skyward (Nicola Bryant)

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Doctor no. 7 (Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred)

Doctor no. 8 (Paul McGann)

Doctor no. 8 (Paul McGann)

Doctor Who has been adapted in comic strips, video games, table top role playing games, bathrobes and underwear (yes, underwear). The neat trick of Doctor Who was that it could appeal to adults and children alike as well as continuing past the loss of the lead actor by replacing him with someone entirely new. In that fashion, Doctor Who stayed fresh and new for decades to come.

While it achieved acclaim in the United Kingdom and abroad, it never really broke through in the Unites States to the same degree. In the late 1970’s, Doctor Who made its appearance in the US through public television affiliates. Fans grew accustomed to Tom Baker’s seven year stint as the duffle-coated time and space traveler but seemed reluctant to follow the series past his tenure when the lead actor was replaced several times over.

Lasting from 1963 straight through to 1989, Doctor Who was off the air for some time but found new life in another format, audio. Big Finish reunited the cast members of the classic series and introduced some new ones in exciting stories that delved into the rich legacy of Doctor Who while paving new ground with the eighth actor (there are some others you can shoe-horn in here such as the great Peter Cushing) to play the Doctor, Paul McGann. The audio series by Big Finish has taken the mantle of Doctor Who and fleshed out a wonderfully impressive realm of adventure, drama and sometimes comedy that brings an entirely new set if facets to the beloved program.

It is still unclear what the plans are for the anniversary year on TV, but for the 50th anniversary, Big Finish is pulling out all the stops. The crew at Big Finish is bringing Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann and several supporting actors and actresses for a celebratory extravaganza.

DrWho_LightattheEndIn November 2013, Big Finish will be releasing Doctor Who: The Light at the End, a very special 100-minute story to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. Tom Baker (1974-81), Peter Davison (1982-84), Colin Baker (1984-86), Sylvester McCoy (1987-89) and Paul McGann (1996) will all reprise their roles as, respectively, the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors, whose paths suddenly intersect when they face imminent destruction.

“We wanted to do a proper, fully-fledged multi-Doctor story for this very special occasion,” says writer, director and executive producer Nicholas Briggs, “and it’s wonderful that all the surviving Doctors threw themselves behind the project so enthusiastically. That’s not to say the first three Doctors don’t appear – we wanted to pay homage to the whole history of the classic series.”

The Doctors will also be joined by a number of their regular companions: Louise Jameson reprises the role of the savage Leela, Sarah Sutton plays the scientist Nyssa, Nicola Bryant is American botany student Peri, Sophie Aldred is streetwise kid Ace and India Fisher returns as Edwardian adventurer Charley Pollard.

“And that’s not all,” says producer David Richardson, “because Geoffrey Beevers is back to create mayhem as the Master, and there will be a number of appearances from some much-cherished old friends from the TV series…”

Doctor Who: The Light at the End will be released in two different versions. A five-disc limited special edition comes with two hour-long documentaries, plus The Revenants, a Companion Chronicles tale which began life as a free Doctor Who Magazine download. It’s performed by William Russell, who starred in the very first TV story as Ian Chesterton. The special edition comes in beautiful special packaging, and will include a number of exclusive professionally photographed images of the cast.

The standard edition comprises two discs, featuring the two hour-long episodes of the story.

Doctor Who – Upcoming Big Finish Releases

The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa star in another exciting anthology adventure, the Fourth Doctor embarks on his second series of stories with Romana, the Sixth Doctor arrive at Pease Pottage (twice) to meet Mel for the first and last time, and the Seventh Doctor meets the alluring Vienna Salavatori in these forthcoming Big Finish audio releases!

To pre-order, please visit the official Big Finish site.

Companion Chronicles 7.05. RETURN OF THE ROCKET MEN (TBD November 2012)
A sequel to The Rocket Men.

Once before the Doctor battled the sadistic Rocket Men and once before he won. But when the dreaded pirates of the skies raid a remote frontier planet, he’s not the only member of the TARDIS crew for whom they are old enemies.

Steven Taylor knows them well. Back in his days as a pilot, on his twenty first birthday, Steven’s ship was brought down by the malevolent Van Cleef. He barely escaped with his life. And now he’s going to have to go through that again.

But this time round, he knows what happens. And he knows there’s no way out. Steven Taylor has to make a choice. A choice where either way… he loses.

Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast

Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), Tim Treloar (Van Cleef)

167. THE SHADOW HEART (TBD November 2012)

One empire has fallen and another has taken its place. The race known as The Wrath are expanding into new territory. Only the Earth Empire stands in their way.

It’s been fifty years since the Doctor last visited this sector of space. And one man in particular has been awaiting his return. As the mistakes of his past come back to haunt him, and with a price on his head and bounty hunters on his tail, the Doctor is heading for a last reckoning.

The pieces are finally coming together. Somewhere deep within The Shadow Heart.

Written By: Jonathan Morris
Directed By: Ken Bentley

Cast

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), James Wilby (Tenebris), Chase Masterson (Vienna Salavatori), Eve Karpf (Talbar), Alex Mallinson (Horval), John Banks (Captain Webster/Starbaff/Wrath Emperor), Jaimi Barbakoff (Lt Dervish)

Special Release 2. DOCTOR WHO: VOYAGE TO THE NEW WORLD (TBD December 2012)

Roanoke Island, 1590.

The TARDIS materializes in the past, and the Doctor’s companions, Professor Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago, find themselves prisoners of the natives in the New World.

But there’s something something strange here – stranger than even the colonists, led by Englishman John White.

What are the ghostly children? And who is the Old Man of Croaton?

The travellers are about to discover the secret of the lost colony… and it may cost Jago’s life.
Written By: Matthew Sweet
Directed By: Ken Bentley

Cast

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot), Philip Pope (John White), Ramon Tikaram (Wanchese), Mark Lockyer (Sir Walter Raleigh), Emerald O’Hanrahan (Eleanor Dare)

Companion Chronicles 7.06. THE CHILD (TBD December 2012)

“Tell me another story, Leela. Not the one about the walking doll or the creepy mechanical men. A new one. I want to hear a new one…”

Leela is dead but her soul lives on. She has been reborn as a young girl, Emily, whose ‘imaginary friend’ tells her amazing tales about a great Wizard and the warrior who accompanies him on his adventures through time and space.

Emily prepares to tell her parents the story of a cold, grey world whose people are ruled over by a Glass Angel. The Wizard is her prisoner and only the warrior girl and her three peculiar friends can save him…

Written By: Nigel Fairs
Directed By: Nigel Fairs

Cast

Louise Jameson (Leela), Anna Hawkes (Emily)

168. 1001 NIGHTS (TBD January 2013)

A long time ago, two travelers came from far away…

In the perfumed palace of an omnipotent Sultan, a girl must tell stories to keep the man she cares about from a cruel and horrible death. She spins tales of distant lands she has visited with a mysterious traveler, of fabulous creatures and fantastic adventures – and of a blue box that can travel in time and space.

Meanwhile, in the dungeons below the throne room, there lurks a secret which will bring down the kingdom – perhaps even the universe.

Can the Doctor and Nyssa escape from this never-ending story before the final chapter spells their end?

Written By: Emma Beeby and Gordon Rennie, Jonathan Barnes, Catherine Harvey
Directed By: Barnaby Edwards

Cast

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Alexander Siddig (Sultan), Nadim Sawalha (Old Man), Teddy Kempner (Nazar), Kim Ismay (Lottie/Woman Stallholder), Malcolm Tierney (Gantha/Warder), Debbie Leigh-Simmons (Elizabeth Spinnaker/Bessie/Crying Woman), Christopher Luscombe (Alien Psychiatrist/Balladeer), Oliver Coopersmith (Hill/Archie)


Companion Chronicles 7.07. THE FLAMES OF CADIZ (TBD January 2013)

The TARDIS materializes in Spain in the late sixteenth century. The country is at war with England – and the travellers find themselves on the wrong side of the battle lines.

When Ian and his new friend Esteban are captured by the Inquisition, the Doctor, Susan and Barbara plan to rescue them.

But these are dark days in human history. And heretics face certain death…

Written By: Marc Platt
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast

William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Nabil Elouahabi (Esteban)


169. THE WRONG DOCTORS (TBD January 2013)

With Evelyn gone, the Doctor sets course for his destiny… in the form of his first meeting with Miss Melanie Bush, a computer programmer from the village of Pease Pottage, currently busy rehearsing with the local Amateur Dramatic Society – and blissfully unaware that her future is on its way, in his TARDIS.

Make that two TARDISes. Because at that very moment, a slightly younger Doctor is flying into Pease Pottage, too – returning his future companion Melanie Bush to her rightful place and time, after they were flung together during the course of his Time Lord trial.

Time travel is a complicated business – the iguanadon terrorising Pease Pottage being a case in point. But how much more complicated could things possibly become, if the wrong Doctor were to bump into the wrong Mel?

Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Cast

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Tony Gardner (Stapleton Petherbridge), James Joyce (Jedediah Thurwell), Patricia Leventon (Mrs Wilberforce), Beth Chalmers (Vaneesh), John Banks (Ksllak)

Fourth Doctor Adventures 2.01. THE AUNTIE MATTER (TBD January 2013)

‘Well, old Reggie’s finally gone and done it now, hasn’t he?

It had all started so well. Finally found a filly worthy of taking to Basset Hall for the blasted Aunt’s approval, bright young charmer called Romana, then everything goes to pot. Now some Doctor cove’s running round the place waving a wand at everything and people are firing weapons at us. It’s all terribly uncivilised.

Looks like your hero’s goose might be a trifle on the cooked side. It’s all so dashed frightening. I wonder if it’ll be done for tea?’

Written By: Jonathan Morris
Directed By: Ken Bentley

Cast

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Mary Tamm (Romana), Julia McKenzie (Florence), Robert Portal (Reggie), Lucy Griffiths (Mabel), Alan Cox (Grenville), Jane Slavin (Ligeia)

2.02. THE SANDS OF LIFE (TBD February 2013)

Sheridan Moorkirk has just been elected president of Earth… but the harsh realities of who really runs the planet are just beginning to dawn on her. And what’s more, she’s starting to hear voices.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Romana encounter a mass of aliens heading to Earth… Aliens who have already made the mistake of upsetting the infamous Cuthbert, all-powerful CEO of The Conglomerate, by destroying one of his space platforms.

Will the Doctor and Romana be able to avert inter-species war that will destroy all life on Earth?

Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Cast

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Mary Tamm (Romana), John Leeson (K9), Hayley Atwell (President Moorkurk), David Warner (Cuthbert), Toby Hadoke (Mr Dorrick), Jane Slavin (The Laan), Duncan Wisbey (General Vincent)

Doctor Who – Wirrn Isle

‘Wirrn Isle’

Written by William Gallagher, directed by Nicholas Briggs
Released March 2012
Story 158

“I said it before, the human race is indomitable… it is also the first race to realize that if you boil a frog slowly enough it won’t realize until it is too late.”

In the far future, the planet Earth has survived an encounter with solar radiation, leaving it a desolate blasted heath. The population planned ahead by building a massive ark containing the population preserved in suspension. When they reclaimed their planet, they found that rebuilding their once great civilization was not the only challenge they faced. A threat from the cold depths of space threatens to defeat humanity in its bid for dominance over the nearly inhospitable planet. By frozen Loch Lomond, the Doctor and his companion Flip find a family daring the odds by establishing a house in what could be the most unwelcome place on the planet.

Cut off from the technological wonder that is Nerva City, the Buchman family is attempting to make the best of a bad situation as only a family can, awkwardly. Veronica is bitter and resentful, husband Roger is emotionally distant and secretive and young ‘Toasty’ seems oblivious to the danger. When they welcome the Doctor and Flip to a delightful meal of ‘forage porridge,’ the moods gets grim. Consisting solely of strange green material found on the surrounding ground, forage porridge is not food at all. The Doctor sadly informs them that it is actually Wirrn mucus.

Cue my stomach to seize.

The Doctor and Flip traveled via transmat, that miracle method of getting from point ‘a’ to ‘b’ instantaneously first seen in Brian Hayle’s Seeds of Death. But it has become faulty, with help only accessible across the frozen loch. Flip volunteers to pilot the astro-light formerly belonging to the long deceased Ion. This leaves the Doctor to unravel just what skeletons are rattling around in the Buchman family closet and how deadly it could be.

Call the Orkin guy! It’s Wirrn!

Wirrn Isle is a clever and emotionally engaging story that excels in adventure (Flip playing the brave heroine is a nice touch and given that this is her last story to date, I worried for her safety) and in creepy horror (settlers eating cooked mucus not gross enough? There’s plenty more including the twitching ‘branches’ that Flip spots peeking out from the ice). Both Gallagher and Briggs note that the real strength of this story is the characters who are so well supported by the cast. Without these compelling performances, the story would fall flat due to some dubious decisions.

I am a big fan of the Wirrn and am happy to see them return. Setting the story after the Tom Baker classic Ark in Space is a nice touch as is hearkening back to Sontaran Experiment with the garbled dialect of the astronauts echoes in Sheer Jawn (played by veteran actor and sometime Sontaran Dan Starkey). However, the plot moves from point A to B to C and then back to B and A… which is really odd. Flip flies to a transmat hub to make it to the city with the Doctor and Veronica following on foot. When she arrives at Nerva City, it mainly consists of three characters and some unconvincing background crowd noise. We are meant to believe that while the Buchman family are eating plates of snot and fighting giant insects that the rest of the human race are celebrating a hair-brained Olympics based on half-remembered facts. It was so poor that I waited for the reveal that Nerva City was abandoned and the human race was still in suspension, but no.

The Doctor, Veronica, Roger and Toasty make a last stand in the cabin while Ion attempts to raid the place several times via the transmat with varying results. Despite a strong start, Flip spends much of the second half of Wirrn Isle trying to get back in the action.

In the behind the scenes material Baker notes that he thought the script was hard to follow due to the constant transmatting from place to place. But the real problem is that the characters keep jumping back to where they started, making Nerva City seem barely believable.

The real star for this story, as always, is Colin Baker. He has a knack for making the most absurd and incomprehensible plot sound acceptable. In this instance, he has some intense material to deal with and a great guest cast including the excellent Lisa Greenwood as Flip who has made a big impact on the listening fans of the Big Finish series. I have long held the opinion that the Sixth incarnation of the Doctor is the most brilliant and this story definitely supports that. The Doctor’s rewiring of the transmat system is ingenious and achieved with relatively few resources. Add to this the Doctor’s strong moral ground as he tries to explain that simple xenophobia is not reason enough to kill another living creature and you have one of the best characterizations ever. I know, I stand in a countable minority, but Six is one of the greats.

But the Doctor is not alone! He has Flip Jackson, the youngest companion to date (unless you count the comic strips). The Doctor has had his hands full in the past trying to keep his companions out of trouble, but Flip flat out welcomes it. We finally see this plot idea of Flip’s daredevil persona come to a head here, prompting the Doctor to finally accept that his travels are not just exciting jaunts through time and space but continual taunts with death that cannot go on forever.

The Wirrn and the future Earth are both used to great affect in this story, I just wish that it had more places to go than back to where it started. Even so, I do recommend it for the horror and adventure.

Wirrn Isle can be ordered from The Book Depository with free shipping worldwide by clicking on the link below:

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Doctor Who and The Masters of Luxor

Lost Stories – The Masters of Luxor

Written by Anthony Coburn (adapted by Nigel Robinson), directed by Lisa Bowerman
Story 3.07
Released August 2012

A dark and silent planet. A magnificent crystal edifice, perched on a mountainside. A legion of dormant robots, waiting for the signal to bring them back to life. The Doctor and his granddaughter Susan, and their reluctant companions, Ian and Barbara, are about to unleash forces which will threaten their very survival.

The story that should have followed An Unearthly Child, The Masters of Luxor (sometimes called The Robots), is a breathtaking epic tale that would have taken the program in an entirely different direction. The script was written by Anthony Coburn who also penned An Unearthly Child and went through a few changes during production- this was back when the story that later became Planet of the Giants was to be the premier adventure- such as a change in setting from a future Earth to an alien planet. There are many ‘lost stories’ in the long history of Doctor Who, but this is the first and for that reason alone the most important.

Keep in mind that because The Masters of Luxor was dropped, The Daleks went into production in its place.

It’s difficult to remember that back in the day Doctor Who was the pinnacle of science fiction and fantasy on TV. The Masters of Luxor takes the concept of technologically creating a perfect race as well as telling a spiritually-infused statement and an exciting adventure. In adapting the story for a modern audience, the excellent Nigel Robinson toned down some of the Judeo-Christian references and in its place is a strong connection between father and son, albeit an artificial one.

The initial Doctor Who cast from ‘An Unearthly Child’

The Doctor and his friends are pulled out of transit to a strange planet. Hovering over a bizarre and beautiful crystalline structure, all of the travelers sense a strong feeling of dread. Once inside, they find the benign setting of a dinner banquet left out for guests. Robotic servants populate the building with rudimentary communication skills. Lording over them is a creature only referred to as ‘The Perfect One,’ a being that is only fueled by the presence of human beings.

A perfect robot built by robots based on the dreams of their creator, the Perfect One is of course insane. The planet Luxor has been sending shipments of criminals to be used for experimentation in furthering the perfection of the Perfect One. The Doctor and his friends become entangled in a mad quest for the power to create an ideal form of life… with the threat of nuclear annihilation as the alternative. To avoid any reprisals, the Perfect One is directly linked to a nuclear bomb in the bowels of the building. If he is interfered with in any way, it will explode, taking the entire facility with him.

Outside of the citadel, the Doctor and Ian find that the Perfect One’s creator Tabon in a form of suspended animation. Using his skills as a philosopher and scientist, the Doctor wrangles with Tabon to reconcile with his offspring The Perfect One and prevent devastation.

In bringing this story to life, William Russell takes on the voices of both Ian Chesterton and the Doctor with Carole Ann Ford playing the parts of Susan and Barbara Wright. Voicing all of the robots (called Derivatrons), the Perfect One and Tabon is Joseph Kloska who takes the challenge with incredible aplomb. The story is so very moving and impressive, making one wonder how different Doctor Who would have been had The Masters of Luxor gone into production in place of The Daleks. There are some similarities between the two tales, but in some ways The Masters of Luxor has more heart and intelligence. Of course the downside is that the pacing is very slow and I can guess that the robots would have been far from impressive on screen, so perhaps it is best that it remains unseen.

Even so, it is exciting to revisit a time when Doctor Who was so madly inventive and far-reaching.

Doctor Who and The Masters of Luxor can be ordered from The Book Depository with free shipping worldwide by clicking on the link below:

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Doctor Who presents Jago & Litefoot in ‘The Mahogany Murders’

‘The Mahogany Murders’


Written by Andy Lane, directed by Lisa Bowerman
Companion Chronicles Story 3.11
Released May 2009

“Professor Litefoot, have you ever trod the boards?… Then please leave the acting to the professionals.”

There are strange goings on in Victorian London. Travelers from the other realms plot secretly using arcane technology, creatures lurk in the darkness and villains lure the innocent into demonic traps. Standing against these terrifying threats is the unlikely duo Jago and Litefoot. Based on the characters Theatrical Impresario Henry Gordon Jago and Pathology Professor George Litefoot from the classic TV adventure, the Mahogany Murders is renowned for starting a fan favorite audio spinoff running into its fifth season!

The first Jago & Litefoot adventure (aside from the Andy Lane-penned story in 1991) is a real corker and, like Talons of Weng Chiang, uses the Victorian setting to the utmost. The story is told in flashback sequences shared by Jago and Litefoot over a few pints at the Red Lion. Their barmaid (voiced by Lisa Bowerman) interjects here and there but mainly the entire tale is unfolded descriptive dialog which is where Lane’s writing joins the acting talents of Benjamin and Baxter, causing the adventure to soar.

Coming out of retirement to reprise their distinctive roles, Benjamin and Baxter take off as if nary a day had passed since they last collaborated on TV. Not only is their chemistry still present, but the two chaps are so full of energy that its catching. Hearing the alliteration of Jago and the weary tone of Litefoot makes for a delightful experience. Robert Holmes, a writer regarded among fans for his double acts of distinctive characters outdid himself with these two and Lane thankfully pays homage to the great Holmes in his script.

Henry Gordon Jago (Christopher Benjamin) and Professor George Litefoot (Trevor Baxter) in The Talons of Weng Chiang

The mystery begins when a body dragged up from the Thames proves to be made of wood, glass and leather rather than flesh and bone. Between the two of them, Jago and Litefoot uncover a plot involves an unruly gang of mannequins ruled over by the mysterious Dr. Tulp. There are so many incredibly distinctive and descriptive moments such as the texture of the simulacra, all brought to life by a remarkable combination of script and the vocal performances. A light touch is added when Litefoot attempts to add a bit of flair to his storytelling by speaking in an accent and he is cut short by Jago, who politely requests that he stick to his day job.

I was overjoyed to see teenage fans of the new series giving the Jago and Litefoot stories props. It’s nice to know that this material is reaching a wide range of listeners and not just crusty fans of the classics like myself.

A truly amazing work, ‘The Mahogany Murders’ can be ordered from The Book Depository with free shipping worldwide by clicking on the link below:

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Doctor Who – Big Finish 2012 Fall and Winter release schedule

164. GODS AND MONSTERS

Written By: Mike Maddox and Alan Barnes
Director: Ken Bentley
Synopsis

The TARDIS travellers arrive in a bizarre landscape seemingly immune to the physical laws governing the rest of the universe. Ace, Hex and their motley army of allies battle to rescue the Doctor from the trap he’s walked into… soon realising that the odds are stacked against them.

But the gods and monsters who inhabit this strange realm loaded the dice against them long ago, in the dim and distant past – and defeat’s their only option.

Cast

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Philip Olivier (Hex), John Standing, Blake Ritson, Gus Brown

OUT IN SEPTEMBER

165. THE BURNING PRINCE

Written By: John Dorney
Director: Ken Bentley
Synopsis

The Drashani Empire – a galaxy-spanning civilisation, the glory of Rome set among the stars. But for decades now, the Royal Houses of Gadarel and Sorsha have been at war, each claiming the Imperial throne.

The wedding of Prince Kylo and Princess Aliona was meant to change all that – a blessed union between the Houses, a new hope for the Empire. Until Aliona’s wedding galley crash-landed on the planet Sharnax – and all contact was lost.

The TARDIS lands aboard the ship carrying the fiery Kylo in search of his lost princess – but with a sabre-toothed monster roaming its corridors, the Doctor soon discovers he’s not the only alien presence aboard.

Cast

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Caroline Langrishe (Shira), George Rainsford (Prince Kylo), Clive Mantle (Tuvold), Dominic Rowan (Corwyn), Derek Hutchinson (Altus), Caroline Keiff (Riga), Tim Treloar (Tyron), Kirsty Besterman
OUT IN SEPTEMBER

166. THE ACHERON PULSE

Written By: Rick Briggs
Director: Ken Bentley
Synopsis
The planet Cawdor. Deep in the heart of the Drashani Empire.

The Doctor lands thirty years after the Succession of Blood brought Empress Cheni to the throne. For most of her reign there has been peace and prosperity. The Empire flourished. But five years ago, the War came. And nothing was ever the same again. Now the Drashani are at war with the mysterious alien race known as the Wrath, led by the Warlord Tenebris. As more and more planets fall to their advance events are rushing to a head.

What exactly does Tenebris want? What is the secret of the Wrath’s weapon, the terrifying Acheron Pulse? As the Doctor races to save an Empire, he may not like the answers he finds.

Cast

Colin Baker (The Doctor), James Wilby (Tenebris), Joseph Kloska (Dukhin), Jane Slavin (Teesha), Chris Porter (Vincol), John Banks (Boritz), Chook Sibtain (Athrid), Carol Noakes (Olerik)
OUT IN OCTOBER

167. THE SHADOW HEART

Written By: Jonathan Morris
Director: Ken Bentley
Synopsis
One empire has fallen and another has taken its place. The race known as The Wrath are expanding into new territory. Only the Earth Empire stands in their way.

It’s been fifty years since the Doctor last visited this sector of space. And one man in particular has been awaiting his return. As the mistakes of his past come back to haunt him, and with a price on his head and bounty hunters on his tail, the Doctor is heading for a last reckoning.

The pieces are finally coming together. Somewhere deep within The Shadow Heart.

Cast

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), James Wilby (Tenebris), Chase Masterson (Vienna Salavatori), Eve Karpf (Talbar), Alex Mallinson (Horval), John Banks (Captain Webster/Starbaff/Wrath Emperor), Jaimi Barbakoff (Lt Dervish)
OUT IN NOVEMBER

168. 1001 NIGHTS

Written By: Emma Beeby and Gordon Rennie, Jonathan Barnes, Catherine Harvey
Synopsis
A long time ago, two travellers came from far away…

In the perfumed palace of an omnipotent Sultan, a girl must tell stories to keep the man she cares about from a cruel and horrible death. She spins tales of distant lands she has visited with a mysterious traveller, of fabulous creatures and fantastic adventures – and of a blue box that can travel in time and space.

Meanwhile, in the dungeons below the throne room, there lurks a secret which will bring down the kingdom – perhaps even the universe.

Can the Doctor and Nyssa escape from this never-ending story before the final chapter spells their end?

Doctor Who main range subscribers whose subscription includes this title will receive the complete Doctor Who audio drama Night of the Stormcrow absolutely free. The adventure stars Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, and Louise Jameson as Leela. Night of the Stormcrow will be available to buy separately in December 2013.

Cast

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Alexander Siddig (Sultan), Nadim Sawalha (Old Man), Teddy Kempner (Nazar), Kim Ismay (Lottie/Woman Stallholder), Malcolm Tierney (Gantha/Warder), Debbie Leigh-Simmons (Elizabeth Spinnaker/Bessie/Crying Woman), Christopher Luscombe (Alien Psychiatrist/Balladeer), Oliver Coopersmith (Hill/Archie)
OUT IN DECEMBER

XI. DOCTOR WHO: NIGHT OF THE STORMCROW

Written By: Marc Platt
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
Synopsis

High atop Mount McKerry sits the observatory. For years now it’s been watching the skies. Now something’s watching back. Something dark and huge that blots out the stars. Something with giant wings. Something that kills.

When the TARDIS is struck mid-flight, the Doctor and Leela crash-land on the mountain to find they are not the only aliens to be visiting. Beings of nothing infest the complex, staff members are dead or mad. As the survivors argue amongst themselves and attempt to take advantage of the situation, a creature vast and terrible is coming ever closer.

A creature called… Stormcrow.

This release is available to customers who buy a 6 or 12-release subscription to the Doctor Who Monthly Range and will be available to buy from December 2013.

There are currently two ways to obtain this exclusive audio:

Ensure your subscription includes the December 2012 Doctor Who Monthly Range release 1001 Nights

OR

When buying a 12 release subscription, select this release as your free gift from the Doctor Who – Bonus Releases range

Cast

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Chase Masterson (Peggy Brooks), Ann Bell (Professor Gesima Cazalet), Jonathan Forbes (Trevor Gale), Mandi Symonds (Erica MacMillan)
OUT IN DECEMBER 2012

The Fourth Doctor faces the Daleks in Doctor Who- The Final Phase

The most popular and longest reigning actor to play the Doctor, Tom Baker’s return to the role is nothing short of explosive. His Big Finish adventures have had that certain unique blend of drama and absurd humor that made his era so remarkable. The details on his second series reuniting Baker with the late Mary Tamm and John Leeson have been coming in, but the finale looks quite amazing!
It’s a Dalek-filled finale for the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K9 in this forthcoming full cast Doctor Who audiobook

Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor on TV, 1975-81), Romana (Mary Tamm, 1978-79) and K9 (John Leeson, 1977-present day) become embroiled in an epic battle with the Daleks in the second season finale of The Fourth Doctor Adventures.

The Final Phase is released in July 2013, and also features David Warner (TitanicThe Omen) and Toby Hadoke (Moths Ate My Doctor Who ScarfMy Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver) reprising their recurring roles of Cuthbert and Mr Dorrick. Nicholas Briggs (Doctor WhoTorchwood) is the Voice of the Daleks.

The second season of The Fourth Doctor Adventures is now available for pre-order.

Season one, which stars Tom Baker opposite Louise Jameson as Leela (on TV 1977-78) is available now.

Doctor Who – The Butcher of Brisbane

‘The Butcher of Brisbane’

Written by Marc Platt, directed by Ken Bentley
Released: June 2012
Story 161

The TARDIS is drawn off  course by time travel experiments in the 53rd Century. Facing an evil that he had thought forever in his past, the Doctor enters the bloody world of Magnus Greel, a villain whom he had defeated in his previous life in Victorian London. However, the Doctor must be careful to insure that history plays through its proper course while protecting his companions at the same time.

One of the most celebrated of the classic Doctor Who televised stories, Talons of Weng Chiang is a classic of immense proportions. The plot of Robert Holmes’s script was rather thin but the atmosphere and character was boundless. A time travelling war criminal trapped in Victorian London, Magnus Greel poses as a deity Weng Ching. Protected by a devilish gnome Mr. Sin, he draws wayward women of the night to the sewers in order to draw their life from them using future technology.

There were a few scattered hints at the world that Greel had escaped which Marc Platt drew from, developing a lush nightmarish realm. Nyssa and Turlough are separated by the Zigma energy and disappear three years in the past, lost in the tundra as bodies fall from the sky, sent there by Greel’s scientific adviser and resident madman, Findecker. Turlough and Nyssa manage to get involved with the underground, a group of journalists determined to expose Greel for the power-mad dictator that he is.

Three years later, the Doctor and Tegan arrive to find their lost traveling companions deeply entrenched in Greel’s inner circle with Nyssa lined up to marry him! The Doctor must carefully extract his friends from their situation, but before he can act he is captured by cybernetically enhanced dingoes with a basic intelligence and brought before Findecker who seems to know far more about the Doctor than he lets on. Facing gut-wrenching torture,  the Doctor resorts to his wits and escapes his capture by plying the dingo named Chopper with sweets.

For me, the Butcher of Brisbane is one of the most enjoyable Doctor Who stories by Big Finish to date. I had very low expectations (a prequel to one of the finest classic Who’s?), but the finished product is so polished and clever that it is a classic in its own right. The Doctor shines in this story, acting witty, clever, reserved and cannily wise all at once. It could be one of Peter Davison’s strongest outings as the Doctor. His interactions with Chopper the cyborg dingo are touching (I’m a big dog-lover) and side-splitting.

The supporting cast also comes out strong as Turlough and Nyssa play the espionage game in a not dissimilar fashion to Jamie and Victoria in the classic The Enemy of the World. There are some stark parallels to that story, I found, as Greel has put himself up as the best hope the world has for peace while secretly building his own private army for a massive war, one which the Doctor has already witnessed.

Actor Angus Wright is captivating as Greel, a charismatic madman who thinks that a doll using the brain of a pig is a good gift for a child.  There are so many solid gold moments in this adventure, but when Mr. Sin made his entrance as a bizarre birthday present, my mind leaped out the window.

The final part of a 5th Doctor trilogy (with The Emerald Tiger and The Jupiter Conjunction before it), The Butcher of Brisbane is a thrilling story that draws from the rich history of classic Doctor Who to tell a new adventure that is so unique yet nostalgic at the same time.

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Doctor Who and The Jupiter Conjunction

‘The Jupiter Conjuction’

Written by Eddie Robson, directed by Ken Bentley
Released May 2012
Story 160

“I’m disappointed…”
“So you trust me enough to be disappointed? … Charming.”

The Doctor lands the TARDIS on a comet circumventing an orbit between Jupiter and Earth in the far future. However, rather than finding a cold barren rock, the crew discover a bustling community built around a massive corporation using the fortuitous orbit as free hauling passage. But all is not well and the blame for a string of thefts is rather fortuitously laid at the Doctor’s feet. While the Doctor and Turlough struggle to extricate themselves from the law, Tegan and Nyssa find that there are strange creatures on the far side of the comet made entirely of gas. Tegan dubs them ‘cloud monsters’ but the Doctor recognizes them as one of the most mysterious and brilliant of alien races, the Jovians. They are said to be mainly peaceful, so just why have they constructed a cannon pointed at the Earth?

The Peter Davison era is a mixed bag to say the least. It is a period of intense optimism in the program’s history as it extricated itself from the 1970’s and the immense shadow of Tom Baker’s importance. But the scripts were often far too ambitious for the limitations of the budget and the short rehearsal and film time allotted often meant that the cast and production team were equally in the dark about just what the story was about. Added to this is the largest group of travelling companions at any one time since 1964 and you have a recipe for… a mixed bag. There are moments of brilliance to be sure, but all too often the end result does not hide the harried pace with which the episodes were produced. Even so, I am very fond of this period as it was a time of reinvention and it also portrayed the Doctor in an entirely new light for the first time in seven years!

The crowded TARDIS syndrome started as Davison arrived and the worry can be seen on the actor’s face when he regenerated into the gaze of three supporting cast members. The cultured and talented Nyssa, the brash Australian Tegan and the mischievous Adric from E-Space challenged writers to find new ways to write the line ‘what is it, Doctor?’ and also split it up between three people.

The death of Adric meant that there was more story to go around, but in short order a new companion was introduced, the red-headed assassin from Trion named Turlough. Personally I am a big fan of Turlough, but the writers seemed confused by him and often gave him nothing to do at all.

The Big Finish audio series of course makes good use of this TARDIS crew and through a cracking yarn not only gives each character something to do but also delivers some strong development as well! Turlough is absolutely hilarious as the devious companion who no one trusts at all (he turns traitor on the Doctor at one point and when another character accuses the Doctor and Turlough of mass murder, Tegan can’t bring herself to entirely rule it out). Tegan meanwhile is a frazzled mess as always but also dares all to save stranger and friend alike while Nyssa is her soulful self, both intelligent and compassionate. This could be one of the best outings for this quartet!

I had mentioned in previous posts that I could never put my finger on what Davison was doing in his portrayal of the Doctor but that in the Big Finish audios it is much more clear. The staggered breathless speech and confused air of the distracted genius really comes through in these stories and Davison is given some witty dialog to boot.

Nyssa, Tegan and a perplexed Doctor

Turlough and Nyssa

The Jupiter Conjunction is a fascinating and gripping drama with many twists and turns along the way while still managing to retain a tone and feel of mid 1980’s Who, even to the somewhat rubbish wrap-up at the end when it is still unclear just what is going on so characters provide huge info dumps to try and clear things up. This is unfortunate because there is so much potential along the way for this story to be a real stunner that is let down by some necessary exposition that shows the cracks. Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended for fans of the Davison era and even those with no knowledge of that period.

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Doctor Who and The Fourth Wall

‘The Fourth Wall’

Written by John Dorney, directed by Nicholas Briggs
Released February 2012
Story 157

“Kill without conscience, without pity… without motive.”

For one of the briefest of incarnations on screen, the Sixth Doctor has an exceptionally large retinue of traveling companions from Peri and Mel on screen to Frobisher, Charley Pollard, Evelyn Smythe, Jamie McCrimmon, Jago & Litefoot and now Philipa Jackson in audio format.

An abrasive yet brilliant and confident personality, the Sixth Doctor is a divisive incarnation of the Doctor, but in my opinion one of the better ones because he is so very different. Colin Baker infused a unique alien quality to his performance along with an unpredictability when the character had become so familiar and somewhat pedestrian. Say what you will about him, but there’s no other version of the Doctor like the Sixth. Baker himself points out that he is the ‘middle Doctor’ and that may contribute to his peculiarity. In audio format, Colin Baker’s Doctor has matured into a lovable if egotistic and brash hero possessing a keen wit and sharp analytic mind. It is the Sixth Doctor’s inspired intelligence that always made him stand out to me, and also made him so difficult to write for, I imagine. For that reason, the Fourth Wall could only be his sort of adventure.

Flip had met the Doctor during the story ‘The Crimes of Thomas Brewster’ and was later reunited with the colorful champion in the Curse of Davros. I had to admit that neither of those instances filled me with much admiration, but finally in The Fourth Wall Flip shines as one of the great companions.

While using the time-space visualizer (waaaaay back from the Hartnell story, The Chase) to watch a cricket match, the Doctor notices a warp in space and time. The fabric of reality has been damaged, pulling Flip into another dimension where her only way of communicating is through the visualizer. Meanwhile on the asteroid called Transmission, a desperate business man Augustus Scullop attempts to wrestle his fortune from oblivion with a ground-breaking form of entertainment where the characters are real. Unfortunately, Flip has found herself wedged into this fictional world and the Doctor soon discovers that there is more at play here than just bad television.

When the device malfunctions, the Doctor realizes that the fictional reality is overlapping the real one and threatening all of creation. When Flip realizes that she is living in some awful camp adventure program ‘Jack Laser,’ she challenges it and pays the ultimate price. Up until that point, the story was very weird and silly, but after the real danger becomes apparent, the bar is raised. Added to this is a group of Porcions, a bumbling race of also-ran alien conquerors. The Doctor is wary of the Porcions, but not because of their desire to conquer, rather the fact that they are so rubbish at it.

Colin Baker (The Doctor) and Lisa Greenwood (Flip)


When Jack Laser’s poorly conceived villain (the production team admit that they never got around to finishing his back story) Lord Krarn escapes his limited reality, he has an existential dilemma. Why is he so bent on evil? Why does he kill? Meeting his creator hardly helps as Lord Krarn explodes at Augustus Scullop that he has a responsibility as a creator to his ‘children’ rather than just making them suffer for no other reason than a limited imagination (writers take note!). It’s a very moving scene when Krarn realizes that despite the fact that his wife was murdered by Jack Laser, he is the villain. Why?

Full to the brim with absolutely ingenious notions, the Fourth Wall is a wealth of mind-blowing ideas (actors are scanned into the alternate reality, but their performances take on a life of their own) and side-holding hilarity (an audible cue accompanies every entrance from the villains or any threat… something that Flip finds exceedingly annoying and reminds me far too much of Murray Gold’s work).

The young Lisa Greenwood (even Colin Baker is reluctant to address her age, yet in the extra material she shows how charming and intelligent she is) is scintillating as the spunky and forthright Flip. Refusing to give in to bullies or monsters, Flip had already gone toe-to-toe with Davros so anything after that is gravy! Playing opposite Colin Baker, she brings out his more affectionate personality traits. I understand that she has a single adventure after this one (to date, anyway), and I already miss her.

One of the most entertaining audios from Big Finish to date, The Fourth Wall can be ordered from The Book Depository with free shipping worldwide by clicking on the link below:

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