Once More Unto the Breach – The War Doctor Returns

A secret incarnation of the Doctor forgotten after the horrors of the Time War, the era of the ‘War Doctor,’ as he became known, is still a mysterious chapter in Doctor Who’s long history.

John-Hurt-as-the-Doctor
Played by Sir John Hurt, CBE, the War Doctor was invented by Steven Moffat after he was unable to obtain the services of Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. This left a new avenue open to the program that seemed contrived in the lead-in story ‘Name of the Doctor,’ but blossomed into one of the most unexpected and fantastic casting moments. A knight became a Doctor!

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This scraggly angry incarnation of the Time Lord was forged in the fires of war, a persona chosen by the Doctor’s eighth incarnation as he lay dying on the planet Karn during the Time War. Stricken from the Doctor’s personal history, he redeemed himself in the 50th anniversary episode when he teamed up with twelve other incarnations to end the Time War and save his home world of Gallifrey rather than destroy it. He of course quickly forgot this cooperative encounter before transforming into the grief-stricken and traumatized Ninth Doctor.

Yes, one of the greatest incarnations of the Doctor is without a number and is known only as ‘The War Doctor.’

Glimpses of the War Doctor have been seen since he was last on screen (such as the flashback in ‘Listen’) but he has not enjoyed any further adventures… until now.

Thanks to Big Finish, fans will be getting more of the John Hurt in the TARDIS with a special audio adventure box set and a preview was just revealed.

Via The Radio Times:

doctor-who-day-of-the-doctor-john-hurtExactly two years after John Hurt stole the Doctor Who 50th anniversary show, we have the very first clip of his return as the War Doctor.
Hurt is coming back to Who for a series of 12 all-new episodes from audio drama producers Big Finish. The first box set, Only the Monstrous, is set to be released this December.

This exclusive clip comes from the first episode of the new run, titled The Innocent, which finds the War Doctor in the midst of the Time War, before the events of 50th anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor.

“I’ve seen too much of this war already,” Hurt’s weary voice says in the clip – although by the sound of it, he has plenty of tricks (OK, explosives) up his sleeve to help him in the Time Lords’ battle against the Daleks.

And for all the fighting, the War Doctor clearly still has a touch of humanity, saving two “patsies” from approaching Daleks.

Hurt’s character has not been seen since the episode marking the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, where the War Doctor (or ‘Captain Grumpy’, whichever you prefer), appeared alongside Matt Smith and David Tennant’s Doctors.

The new audio dramas are written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, who says he couldn’t wait to explore Who’s 50th anniversary back story in more detail.

“The story of the Doctor who refuses to call himself the Doctor in order to do the unthinkable upon the ultimate battlefield — all of space and time — was irresistible to me,” he said.

“Such a deeply disturbing and engaging character created by the formidable talents of writer Steven Moffat and actor John Hurt. It’s such a privilege to be working on this.”

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“Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.”

Art by andydaroo

Art by andydaroo

The Time Lords and Daleks waged a war that nearly ripped reality apart. After being dragged into the fray, the Doctor nearly died then took a drastic action that forever changed the course of his history.

Finally, the story of the Time War is being told. The great people at Big Finish are launching a new series of adventures starring Paul McGann and John Hurt as the time travelling adventurer in his darkest hour.

DrWho_BF_WarDoctor

(Click on the cover image to pre-order from Big Finish)

In December 2015, the Time War will rage and only one man can save us. John Hurt is The War Doctor!

John Hurt, the world-renowned star of film and television, is returning to the role of The War Doctor, in twelve full-cast Doctor Who audio plays.

The War Doctor was introduced for Doctor Who’s Fiftieth Anniversary, and played a key part in the record-breaking television special The Day of the Doctor, alongside David Tennant and Matt Smith’s Doctors. He is the secret incarnation of the Time Lord — but he has shunned the title ‘Doctor’ in order to fight in the Time War against the Daleks.

“I have been a huge fan of John since first seeing him in the repeats of I, Claudius in the 1980s and in his Oscar-nominated role as the eponymous The Elephant Man,’ says Big Finish executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery. ‘Watching his performance in The Day of the Doctor I did find myself fantasising that some far off day we might have the chance to work with him on the audio adventures of Doctor Who and now two short years later it’s happened! John wove a fantastic character together from a great script by Steven Moffat. Now we have the chance to get to know that character more and hear John stretch in the role. We’re all in for a hell of a ride as the War Doctor engages in battle. But who are the greater threat – the Daleks or the Time Lords?”

The audio adventures of The War Doctor will be told over four box sets, each containing three linked hour-long episodes. The first box set is entitled Only The Monstrous, and is written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, whose many successes for Big Finish include the BBC Audio Award-winning masterpiece Doctor Who: Dark Eyes.

“The story of the Doctor who refuses to call himself the Doctor in order to do the unthinkable upon the ultimate battlefield — all of space and time — was irresistible to me,” says Nicholas. “Such a deeply disturbing and engaging character created by the formidable talents of writer Steven Moffat and actor John Hurt. It’s such a privilege to be working on this.”

The cast of The War Doctor also includes Jacqueline Pearce, who plays Time Lord Cardinal Ollistra — an arch manipulator who is waging the Time War against the Daleks. Jacqueline’s work includes The Avengers, Callan, Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time, Moondial and Russell T Davies’ Dark Season, and she is known to many science fiction fans for her role as Servalan in the cult classic Blake’s 7.

Only The Monstrous will be released in December 2015, and will be followed in February 2016 by the second volume, Infernal Devices, which is written by John Dorney, Phil Mulryne and Matt Fitton. Volumes Three and Four are currently in pre-production.

“What an utter privilege it is to work with such an iconic actor, playing such a brilliantly devised role,” says producer David Richardson. “This is Doctor Who at its darkest — the era in which our hero casts aside his core values in order to try and save the galaxy in its most terrible hour. We promise bold and brilliant story-telling with gripping character drama, and epic and cinematic audio productions.”

DrWho_BF_TimeWar

(Click on the cover image to pre-order from Big Finish)

In addition to The War Doctor, November 2017 also sees a prequel box set to the saga, Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor — The Time War, which will follow the early stages of the Time War from the Eighth Doctor’s perspective. Paul McGann stars, alongside characters first introduced in the War Doctor box sets.

You can pre-order all four box sets of Doctor Who: The War Doctor, plus Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor – The Time War today from the Big Finish website, priced just £20 each on both CD and Download, or all five available in a single bundle for easy ordering. Pre-orders on CD have free UK postage, and anyone buying on CD through the Big Finish website gets access to the Download version on release.

As a bonus, here is a lovely documentary on Third Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee ‘Reverse the Polarity.’ Filmed in 1992 to coincide with the VHS release of the Pertwee Years (have you still got your copy??),it offers a lovely inside look at the charming actor as he looks back upon his career and shows no sign of slowing down.

Doctor Who Big Finish- The Wormery

The Wormery

Story 51
Written by Stephen Cole and Paul Magrs
Released November 2003

Despondent and depressed, the Doctor finds himself in Bianca’s, a special kind of bar where the owner slinks her way among the clientele between torch songs. She takes a special liking to the gloomy Doctor who is still recovering from the shame and humiliation of his trial with the High Council of Time Lords. He rebuffs Bianca’s attentions only to find himself buttonholed by a gin-soaked former acquaintance, the time-travelling vagabond Iris Wildthyme.

For the uninitiated, the scatter-brained Iris Wildthyme is a character who popped up back in 1998 alongside the Fourth Doctor and already claimed to be an intimate acquaintance. Her back-story is purposefully garbled and is a reflection of the Doctor’s adventures mis-remembered or mixed up with other creatures or situations. She travels in a double decker London bus version of the TARDIS which seems smaller on the inside than out, sometimes with a panda companion. Played by former companion and consummate vocal performer Katy Manning, Iris is a beloved creation who has appeared with numerous incarnations of the Doctor.

When Iris bumps into the Doctor, she finds him very cuddly beneath his prickly personality (which co-star Nicola Bryant has attested to) and attempts to lighten his mood. She accompanies the Doctor in a cab only to realize after leaving the club that it is actually a TARDIS floating in the aether of time and space. Iris seems more off kilter than usual as she has been imbibing liquor all night to get in touch with sentient worms that are swimming in the fluid. There is something very unusual going on in Bianca’s.

Confronting the club owner, it soon becomes apparent that Bianca is another incarnation of Iris herself who has reached the end of her life cycle and wishes to steal her former lives… much like the Valeyard did to the Doctor in his aforementioned trial.

Wormery is one of my favorite audio adventures as the performances are exemplary, the audio landscape of the club is expertly executed and the plot is bonkers. As co-stars, Baker and Manning are a sterling combination with Iris appearing to be suffering from an everlasting hangover yet really fancying the Doctor who just wants to be left to his ruminations.

Paul Magrs is responsible for some of the most ambitiously outlandish stories in print and audio from the Eighth Doctor Adventures with Paul McGann’s Doctor to the Tom Baker audio series for the BBC. Not only is the Wormery an enjoyably whimsical tale but it is also full of depth and explores a moment of the Doctor’s life when his massive ego was chipped away in a humiliating attack from his own people.

Doctor Who – The Wormery can be ordered from The Book Depository with free shipping worldwide by clicking on the link below:

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Doctor Who – The Highest Science to be adapted for audio

After leaving the airwaves in 1989, Doctor Who entered what is now referred to as the ‘Wilderness Years.’ New Adventures were published by Virgin, written by names now familiar to viewers of the 2005- BBC Wales revival such as Paul Cornell (Father’s Day, Human Nature/Family of Blood), Russell T Davies (Love and Monsters and a few others… 😉 ) and of course Gareth Roberts (The Shakespeare Code, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Planet of the Dead, The Lodger, Closing Time and The Caretaker).

New Adventures stories picked up the gauntlet from the Cartmell Masterplan and saw a darker, more sophisticated version of Doctor Who than fans were previously used to. Beloved by many fans new and old, the novels were a great way to keep Doctor Who alive and even spawned a line of new stories for classic Doctors 1-6! While I was not a fan of the adaptation of Love and War (which was a surprise to me as I recalled enjoying the book), I am very excited about Highest Science which is a cracker of a yarn.

DrWho_BF_HighestScience

The cover for Doctor Who: The Highest Science is now online, with the Jacqueline Rayner adaptation of Gareth Roberts’ Seventh Doctor novel coming in December.

Sakkrat. Many legends speak of this world, home of an ancient empire destroyed by its own greatest achievement: the Highest Science, the pinnacle of technological discovery.

When the TARDIS alerts the Doctor and Bernice to the presence of an enormous temporal fluctuation on a large, green, unremarkable planet, they are not to know of any connection with the legend.

But the connection is there, and it will lead them into conflict with the monstrous Chelonians, with their contempt for human parasites; into adventure with a group of youngsters whose musical taste has suddenly become dangerously significant; and will force them to face Sheldukher, the most wanted criminal in the galaxy.

As well as Doctor Who: The Highest Science, fans of Gareth Roberts’ work in the realm of Doctor Who novels might like to check out next year’s releases of Doctor Who: The Romance of Crime, Doctor Who: The English Way of Death, and Doctor Who: The Well-Mannered War: titles which are also collected in two luxury collections volume 1 and volume 2.

DOCTOR WHO: MASTERS OF EARTH

Coinciding with the latest altercation with the Daleks this coming Saturday, Big Finish has released the trailer for an all new classic adventure in which the multi-colored all-action man Six Doctor confronts the dreaded foes as well in ‘Masters of Earth.’

Details below:
Drwho-bf-mastersofearth

The year is 2163. Ten years since the Daleks invaded the Earth. One year until the Doctor, in his first incarnation, will help bring the occupation to an end. But for now, their reign of terror goes on.

The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Peri to Scotland – enslaved, like everywhere else on the planet. But there are rumours of Dalek-free islands off its coast. Places where resistors and refuseniks are coming together, gathering arms and armour, preparing to strike back against the enemy.

When the Doctor falls in with an unlikely group of freedom fighters making that dangerous journey to Orkney, he finds himself trapped – but not only by the Daleks, their robotised henchmen and their human collaborators.

By history.

Because history shows that for another year, resistance is useless…

The rebellion must fail – and as a Time Lord, the Doctor can do nothing to help.

To hear the trailer, or to place a pre-order on either Download or CD, go here.

Big Finish Celebrates 15 years

Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, Doctor Who 5-8

Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, Doctor Who 5-8

When Doctor Who went off the airwaves in 1989, it entered what is now referred to as ‘The Wilderness Years.’ A series of new novels took the Seventh Doctor in a new direction, classic Doctors also received their own line of missing adventures and when the Eighth Doctor arrived in 1996 things got even more ambitious with comic strips and a new line of novels.

However, it was when Big Finish rounded up several of the actors and actresses associated with the classic Doctor Who program in 1999 that it entered its most interesting period. It was a fan’s dream come true, a rotating series of stories with the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors, then another line focused on the companions! To make things even better, Paul McGann returned to blaze a new path as the Eighth Doctor in a string of stories that firmly established a unique era.
DrWho_McGann_BW
tombakerbigfinishAn even bigger surprise was when Tom Baker returned for a new series of stories, reuniting him with Romana #1 – Mary Tamm (now sadly departed) and Leela – Louise Jamison.

If you have not delved into this treasure trove of Doctor Who, you are missing out and this is a grand opportunity to take a dip.

Big Finish’s Doctor Who at 15 – Day 1

To mark the first day of our celebration, we’re making the download of the first story – Doctor Who: The Sirens of Time available for £1.

Thanks to our friends at Doctor Who Magazine, we can also make available Talkin’ ‘Bout My Regeneration as a download – 1999’s hour-long audio documentary about the making of the story.

Also never available through the Big Finish website before are two more free stories on download as MP3 and Audiobook formats: No Place Like Home and The Ratings War, featuring the Fifth and Sixth Doctors respectively.

To mark our first three Big Finish Doctors, you can also get more recent titles in a special offer: The Fifth Doctor’s The Butcher of Brisbane, the Sixth Doctor’s The Fourth Wall, and the Seventh Doctor’s Protect & Survive – each available for £5 on Download or CD.

On a related note, what is your favorite Big Finish story?

(for anyone interested, feel free to peruse my Big Finish reviews and articles here)

Explore THE WORLDS OF DOCTOR WHO in new limited edition audio adventure

With all of time and space as a backdrop, Doctor Who is a series with limits (aside from budgetary constraints… and the 80’s). While the new Doctor Who has been exploding across screens all over the globe, the classic program has continued in audio adventures from Big Finish. These stories have been entertaining fans young and old and reunited nearly every living actor and actress who appeared in the 26 year-long run.

The latest adventure spans Victorian London, swinging 60’s, U.N.I.T.’s Vault and far away Gallifrey, bringing together the Counter Measures Team (from ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’), Jago and Lightfoot (from ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’), Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso (from the 1996 TV Movie), Romana, Leela and the Sixth Doctor.

THE WORLDS OF DOCTOR WHO _BigFinishSynopsis

An epic adventure uniting the Doctor’s friends across time and space, featuring Jago & Litefoot, Counter-Measures, the Vault and Gallifrey!

1: Mind Games by Justin Richards
In Victorian England, Henry Gordon Jago and Professor Litefoot investigate worrying events on the streets of London – which seem to be linked to the New Regency Theatre’s resident act, the mesmerist Mr Rees…

2: The Reesinger Process by Justin Richards
London, 1964, and the repercussions of Jago and Litefoot’s adventure are dealt with by Sir Toby Kinsella and his crack team of specialists at Counter-Measures. What is the Reesinger Process – and who is behind it?

3: The Screaming Skull by Jonathan Morris
Disgraced soldiers Ruth Matheson and Charlie Sato are called back into action by Captain Mike Yates, when the UNIT Vault is mysteriously locked down by a deadly force. Together they must infiltrate the Vault and get those trapped out alive. But what enemy are they facing?

4: Second Sight by Nick Wallace and Justin Richards
The actions of Mr Rees have alerted the Time Lords of Gallifrey, and Romana has assigned her best warrior. Independently, the Sixth Doctor has arrived on Earth. A power from the dawn of the Universe is about to be unleashed once more…

Written By: Justin Richards, Jonathan Morris, Nick Wallace
Directed By: Ken Bentley and Lisa Bowerman

Cast

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Lalla Ward (Romana), Daphne Ashbrook (Ruth Matheson), Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot), Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Richard Franklin (Mike Yates), Karen Gledhill(Allison Williams), Hugh Ross (Sir Toby Kinsella), Pamela Salem (Rachel Jenson),Yee Jee Tso (Charlie Sato), Simon Williams (Group Captain Gilmore), Jamie Glover (Mr Rees), Sinead Keenan (Stephanie Wilton), Rory Keenan (James Wilton)

Click here to pre-order online

Doctor Who Paul McGann returns in Dark Eyes 2

Building off the stunning Dark Eyes in which a troubled and battle-scarred Eighth Doctor sought revenge only to find himself a pawn in a much larger scheme, Dark Eyes 2 is full of surprises and returning characters (such as the excellent Alex Macqueen as the Master (uh… spoiler alert).

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Official Synopsis

When the Doctor defeated the Dalek Time Controller and its Time Lord ally, the timelines shifted and events changed… but the danger is far from over. And new threats to the continued safety of the universe are emerging.

Molly O’Sullivan carried on with her life as a nursing assistant in World War One. She probably thought she would never see the Doctor in his ‘Tardy-box’ again…

From the Dalek occupied planet Nixyce VII through Earth’s history and to the very edge of the universe, the Doctor’s footprints across eternity are being tracked by foes old and new. But when did it all begin and when will it end? Living his life through the complexities of time travel, the Doctor can never be quite sure if he’s experiencing his life in the most helpful order. The only certainty appears to be the advance of the powers of evil and the oncoming threat of a fight to the death against forces that would destroy everything the Doctor holds dear.

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Doctor Who- Animal

‘Animal’

DrWho_BF_AnimalLost Story 2.05
Written by Andrew Cartmell (from a story by Ben Aaronovitch) Directed by Ken Bentley
Released June 2011

The TARDIS lands in the near future of 2001, much to the annoyance of Ace and the bemusement of the Doctor. The U.N.I.T. forces are anticipating the arrival of the time travelers and Brigadier Winifred Bambera (last seen in the Season 26 opener Battlefield). The Doctor is curious about what is going on within the walls of Margrave University, which U.N.I.T. has under close security. A mysterious revolutionary force threatens the university from within, prompting both Raine and Ace to go undercover. Man-eating plants and revolutionary idealists are the least of the Doctor’s worries, however. Not far off an alien vessel is watching and things are about to get much more complicated.

The ‘lost’ 27th Season is a bit of a muddied mess, but at least with Cartmell and Bentley at the helm they are consistent and fit within the tone of the previous transmitted year’s worth of adventures. There is a healthy dose of humor, action, social commentary and convoluted narratives (or plans within plans) that place this adventure on equal footing with the preceding two years’ worth of stories. McCoy and Aldred are in fine form and relative newcomer Beth Chalmers is a welcome addition as the upper class safe cracker Raine Creevy. The chemistry between the three performers is so good that it is frustrating that we never got to see it on screen, but this is a close approximation.

The plot of Animal is more than a bit ropy as it turns from the revolutionary cell thread to the man-eating monsters to an entirely different threat from the unfortunately named Numlocks. Summoned by the revolutionaries, the Numlocks appear to be benevolent creatures seeking to free the research subjects of Margrave University, but of course are far from harmless. The first half of Animal sets up the dilemma of an alien race offering a peaceful solution to the carnivorous and harmful race quite well, but the resolution is far too pat and convenient for its own good.

While I was disappointed by the logic of Animal, the dialog was inspired in places, especially when Raine realizes her father (who had been established cleverly in two stories) has died by 2001. In her moment of shock, the Doctor presents a calming message regarding the passage of time and the place of the travelers within that stream. It’s a very touching scene made all the more poignant by the inability of either Raine and Ace to understand. Only the Doctor, a being whose life has been an aimless journey through time and space, is capable of perceiving the rich tapestry of time.

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Doctor Who and The Guardians of Prophecy

‘The Guardians of Prophecy’

DrWho_BigFinish_The_Guardians_of_ProphecyLost Story 3.04
Written by Jonathan Morris (from a story by Johnny Byrne) Directed by Ken Bentley
Released May 2012

Eager to show his traveling companion Peri a delight for the senses,the Doctor materializes the TARDIS om Serenity, a planet within the Traken Union. Having survived the cataclysm that cost the other worlds when the Master operated the CVE manipulator, Serenity is anything but serene and operates on a carefully kept balance between good and evil. Whereas one Melkur had landed on Traken, several are trapped in a garden in which the TARDIS has landed. The timer travelers find that not only are they in a restricted zone, but they are not alone. A scribe and an expert safe cracker are hard at work on breaking into the tomb of Malador, an evil being of mythical significance. When the Docor learns that Malador is entombed on Serenity, his blood runs cold. He may be the stuff of nightmares and legend for the people of Serenity, but any Time Lord can tell you that Malador is very real and very deadly.

Part of a set of scripts that were submitted but never produced, The Guardians of Prophecy is a direct sequel to The Keeper of Traken, a story about the nature of evil and its strong influence of the altruistic. It has some similarities, but The Guardians of Prophecy is stronger in characters (most notably the thief Ebbko) and some clever dramatic tension. Unfortunately, it is a muddy mess that cam never really find its footing. The drama shifts from episode to episode starting with a political coup then moving to the attack of a wraith-like being who should be dead, Malador, using an army of living statues (who knows what that would have looked like).

While I enjoy his work on Space: 1999, I have to admit that Johnny Byrne never really fit into Doctor Who for me. Of his three scripts for the program, only Keeper of Traken functions well and even that one has some problems (chiefly the muddled plot that shoe-horned the Master into it makes the story a cobbled mess). However, this story similarly handicaps the threat of the Melkur with the inclusion of another monster, Malador. Even an army of Melkur are undercut by this decaying corpse villain. I honestly feel bad for the Melkur.

Despite all that, Jonathan Morris has crafted an excellent adventure here. Plenty of strong characters and likewise excellent performers (with the notable Stephen Thorne playing Malador, a part that gravitates between strong and stock from scene to scene) bring Byrne’s Guardians of Prophecy to life. As Colin Baker himself points in the extra interview on disc two, the Doctor is still rather prickly and egocentric, not the warm Sixy that we got in the Big Finish era and I definitely enjoy the contrast. The harsh wit, the devil-may-care bravado and the brilliant mind hardened with a monumental ego make the Sixth Doctor one to remember.

I imagine that if this story had made on screen it would have been a success solely on the merits of the performances from the main cast. But alas, we will never know.

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