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Doctor Who and the Pescatons

Doctor Who and the Pescatons
Written by Victor Pemberton
Directed by Don Norman

The Doctor and his companion Sarah Jane battle against some of the most heinous foes to emerge from the outer universe: the Pescatons. The Doctor finds himself in the capital city of London, where the population is bewildered and trembling beneath the violent onslaught of a merciless invader. Who or what is the mighty Zor, whose green slanting luminous eyes glare out from the dark of night like giant emeralds? What is the powerful alien force that is bringing Earth's civilisation to a standstill, threatening to annihilate everything in its path? This is the story of a dying Planet, of a Deadly Weed, and the merciless Creatures themselves. It is a Challenge to the Doctor - a frightening race against time...

This unique release from Argo Records closely resembles the Fiction Factory talking books released by BBC Worldwide in 1997/8. Tom Baker narrates a specially-written story (by Fury From The Deep author Vic Pemberton) with added sound effects, specially composed music by Kenny Clayton and occaisional dramatised sequences with Elisabeth Sladen and Bill Mitchell. Although featuring opening and closing titles on each side (with the original 1970s Doctor Who theme), the release is rather an early prototype for the dramatised talking book.

Release Code
August 1976
Argo / Decca Record Company ZSW 564
April 1985
London Records 414 4591 [LP] / 4594 [cass]
Newman Communications Corporation
December 1991
Silva Screen FILMCD/C 707
October 1993
Polygram / Speaking Volumes 844-364-4
2 CD
BBC Radio Collection

Big Finish Productions

It was late 1996 when Gary Russell, Doctor Who fan and writer, first approached BBC Worldwide with the suggestion of a series of Doctor Who audio plays. Russell had been involved with the long-running series of amateur audios Audio Visuals during the late 1980s, and offered the corporation a wealth of experience with both the audio-format and Doctor Who. He was dismissed - the BBC were determined to make Doctor Who their own again after half a decade of licensing to companies such as Virgin and Dapol - and with Jason Haigh-Ellery he began looking into the possibility of recording Doctor Who spin-off audios instead. With Bill Baggs already using familiar monsters and actors (but not the Doctor or TARDIS trademarks) in his range of Audio Adventures In Time And Space, Jason and Gary instead turned to the ongoing range of Virgin novels, where the character of ex-companion Bernice Summerfield was heading a new series of adventures now that the company's Doctor Who license had expired.

Casting Lisa Bowerman as the much-loved archaeologist, and using scripts adapted from both the new range of novels and the earlier New Adventures (carefully editing the Doctor out of the action), the company they formed, Big Finish, produced two full-cast adventures on CD and cassette before approaching the BBC again. Worldwide had by this time released some audio narrations of their own, but sales had not impressed them, and range producer Steve Cole was able to convince the license-holders that Big Finish had the money and love to produce the type of audio-Who that the BBC would be wise to have a hand in. A license was signed by early 1999, and as the 'Time Ring trilogy' of Benny Adventures drew to a close, advertisements began to appear for the first official series of Doctor Who since 1989.

Big Finish quickly secured the enthusiasm of past Doctors Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy (all of whom had been involved with amateur spin-offs during the 90s, often with Big Finish writer/director Nicholas Briggs), and Russell decided to keep the Benny format of double CD / double cassette releases to produce traditional four-part Doctor Who stories, with an open submission policy on new scripts (which closed at the end of May 2000) allowing fans to pen their own additions to the range. The first release quickly became a special adventure starring all three Doctors, and during its production the crew asked many ex-companions to accompany the Doctor on future adventures. Phantasmagoria, a classic fifth Doctor adventure, followed The Sirens of Time in September, by which time several high street shops had agreed to stock the tapes, and by January a new story was in release every 4 weeks, with Big Finish rapidly securing the rights to Daleks, companions and even Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor.

Quick to realise their output potential, Russell and Haigh-Ellery were soon testing the water with additional releases. John Nathan-Turner, Doctor Who's longest serving producer, recorded his memoirs for release on two double CDs (to be followed in 2002 by Nicholas Courtney's autobiography), and the Edinburgh 2000 Big Finish play starring Sylvester McCoy and India Fisher, Fly Me to the Moon, was recorded before a live audience and released on single CD (complimented by another live recording the following year). Multiple volumes of incidental music from the Doctor Who plays were compiled for sporadic release, and interviews were conducted with prominent members of the cast and crew for Big Finish Talks Back, a series of single CDs - and later DVDs - discussing the audio range.

The Dalek Empire saga formed its own spin-off series (followed by a sequel series and then a third, Dalek War), as did the Cybermen; Elizabeth Sladen reprised her role as Sarah Jane-Smith for a five-part series (and, later, another short run) penned by prominent 70s writers; another Virgin New Adventures character, Iris Wildthyme, was granted her own series of audios starring Katy Manning; various ex-companion actresses were cast in three series of Gallifrey plays; Nicholas Courtney's talents were utilised again in the UNIT range; and the leading Doctor Who range was suplimented by "side-steps" into the world of the comic strips and Virgin New Adventures. For a special run of 6 separate releases, writers were even invited to script alternate or unspecified incarnations of the Doctor, with the results - Doctor Who Unbound - starring Geoffrey Bayldon, David Warner, David Collings, Michael Jayston, Sir Derek Jacobi and comedian Arabella Weir. Over time, Big Finish also aquired the appropriate licenses to record ranges of Earthsearch, The Tomorrow People and Judge Dredd audios.

The continuing range of Big Finish releases are available from the official website, Full details of each release are available there, along with downloadable audio trailers for many releases. Our own guide to the BFP Doctor Who stories picks upon select releases between 1999 and 2002 - a handful of stories that defined the range, changed the direction of the stories or contributed something unique to the world of Doctor Who. For information about the entire range, please visit Big Finish themselves.

The Sirens of Time

Doctor Who: The Sirens of Time
Written and directed by Nicholas Briggs
Produced by Gary Russell / Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer for BBC Worldwide - Stephen Cole

Gallifrey is in a state of crisis, facing destruction at the hands of an overwhelming enemy. And the Doctor is involved, in three different incarnations - each caught up in a deadly adventure, scattered across time and space. The web of time is threatened - and someone wants the Doctor dead. The three incarnations of the Doctor must join together to set time back on the right track - but in doing so, will they unleash a still greater threat?

Nicholas Briggs was determined to make his multiple Doctor story more than a disappointing run-around with constant bickering between the stars. The four-part adventure is split neatly into four separate instalments, with one episode for each solo Doctor and a fourth that unites the plot and the Doctors. The Knights of the title had already appeared in an earlier Audio Visuals play, and further links to that series were made as Big Finish cast old friends as bit-parts - a habit that would see the recurrence of many familiar voices. To help boost advance sales, the CD version of Part Four was extended by approximately 4 minutes, with the cassette lacking the following moments:

Big Finish chose to open and close their episodes with the arrangement of the Doctor Who theme best-remembered from the Tom Baker era, a deliberate attempt by the producers to hark back to that classic era. Although four new arrangements were commissioned and recorded for the series, it was Gary Russell's aim for nostalgia that resulted in the use of the Derbyshire theme, recently remastered by Mark Ayres for use in The Curse of Fatal Death. The theme was treated with a slight stereo echo by Ayres himself, and a new edit of the closing titles (running to 11 seconds) was prepared. Uniquely, Parts Two and Four of this first adventure closed with a 14 second edit instead. This theme would remain in use (with only slight changes) for the first 40 releases, up to The Church and the Crown in November 2002; from the next release, each Doctor was granted their original television arrangements (bringing back into use the Peter Howell, Dominic Glynn and Keff McCulloch versions - more information about which can be found in our Theme Tune Guide).

Big Finish took pains to fit their stories into established Doctor Who continuity. From the next release, Phantasmagoria, it became clear that they were allocating story codes to their adventures that fitted clearly into those assigned to the television series; if an audio story was declared a bridge between Resurrection of the Daleks (6P) and Planet of Fire (6Q), the audio story was classified 6PA, and subsequent additions to the bridge 6PB, 6PC and so on. The Sirens of Time was, interestingly, coded at the very end of the seventh Doctor era.

The launch of the Big Finish Doctor Who range was heralded by Doctor Who Magazine, with a special promotional CD attached to the June 1999 issue. Presented by Nicholas Pegg (also drafted into Big Finish direct from the Audio Visuals), it included clips from The Sirens of Time as well as interviews with Gary Russell, Jason Haigh-Ellery, Stephen Cole, Harvey Summers and cast members Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Sarah Mowatt, Mark Gattis, Anthony Keetch and Andrew Fettes. Behind-the-scenes moments from the Sirens recording sessions could also be heard, as well clips from earlier Doctor Who audio productions The Pescatons, The Time Machine, The Paradise of Death and the Benny Summerfield adventures. A rather different preview cover could be seen online at Howe's Who until mid-2000, revealing a design akin to Big Finish's Benny Summerfield CDs.

The Marian Conspiracy

Doctor Who: The Marian Conspiracy
Written by Jacqueline Rayner
Directed by Gary Russell
Produced by Gary Russell / Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producers for BBC Worldwide - Stephen Cole and Jacqueline Rayner

Tracking a nexus point in time, the Doctor meets Dr Evelyn Smythe, a history lecturer whose own history seems to be rapidly vanishing. The Doctor must travel back to Tudor times to stabilise the nexus and save Evelyn's life. But there he meets the Queen of England - and must use all his skills of diplomacy to avoid ending up on the headman's block...

The character of Evelyn Smythe was created with a particular actress in mind (one of the cast members of The Sirens of Time) and long debated and argued over by a collection of people worldwide, all determined to create the best possible sidekick for Colin Baker's under-appreciated sixth Doctor. Big Finish decided against resurrecting any of the other temporary companions created by Marvel, Virgin and BBC Books (all of whom printed additional sixth Doctor stories set between his adventures with Peri and Mel), and Evelyn was born through the Doctor's need for intellectual conversation and mothering. The Marian Conspiracy, a Tudor historical, allowed her character to flower while the Doctor worked mostly elsewhere, preventing a nexus point in history from swallowing her whole.

Evelyn was only the first of the audio-exclusive companions to be slipped into the Doctor Who canon by Big Finish. In 2001, Egyptian pharaoh Erimem (portrayed by Caroline Morris) would join the fifth Doctor and Peri from The Eye of the Scorpion onwards, and new companions for the seventh (Hex) and eighth (C'rizz) Doctors quickly followed. The chance to broaden the horizons of the audio stories (and, no doubt, to use lesser-known and lesser-paid actors!) became hard to resist.

This was the first release to be advertised with a full-page, colour illustration in Doctor Who Magazine - something that became a regular feature, particularly as BFP-designer Clayton Hickman soon took over the reigns of the magazine's editorship! A comic-book interpretation of a scene from the story - usually the cliffhanger to Part One - provided the main image, while a summary of the plot and small image of the (preview) cover filled the lower quarter. This format would remain in use until The Apocalypse Element in August 2000.

So as not to spoil the surprise of her voice, no preview trailers were included on preceding tapes, but a 65 second trailer for Doctor Who: The Marian Conspiracy was included after the fourth episodes of later BFP releases The Genocide Machine and Red Dawn. The trailer and 19’40" of Alistair Lock’s incidental music for The Marian Conspiracy appeared on Music From The New Audio Adventures Vol. 1 (BFPCDMUSIC1), a single CD album released in October 2000. The tracks were titled Historic Argument / The Court of Queen Mary / Religious Fervour / Tea With the Locals / Out of Time / Marriage for the Doctor / Escape From the Tower / Rescued By An Angel.

The Genocide Machine

Doctor Who: Dalek Empire Part One - The Genocide Machine
Written by Mike Tucker
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Produced by Gary Russell / Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer for BBC Worldwide - Jacqueline Rayner

The library on Kar-Charrat is one of the wonders of the Universe. It is also hidden from all but a few select species. The Doctor and Ace discover that the librarians have found a new way of storing data - a wetworks facility - but the machine has attracted unwanted attention, and the Doctor soon finds himself pitted against his oldest and deadliest enemies - the Daleks!

The Dalek Empire series was one of the first Big Finish exclusives. A major advertising campaign followed the announcement that the Daleks would be back on audio ("Sounding Meaner Than Ever Before"), and BFP producers and writers gave lengthly interviews to explain their vision for the series, which was to include an adventure for each of the audio Doctors as well as several standalone episodes to expand upon the legacy (in the style of Mission To the Unknown). These single CDs (Dalek Empire 1 - 4) finally appeared in April 2001 (followed by a second series in 2002, and a third in 2004), having been momentarily forgotten in the excitement as Mike Tucker - ex-BBC effects supervisor and BBC Books writer - spun the first tale, Wetworks (renamed The Genocide Machine to tie-in with the series). The February 2000 issue of DWM printed a wealth of information about the range, including the results of an argument over Dalek voices and BFP's determination to make the Daleks evil again (after many years of inferiority before Davros), while the April issue featured a full-page illustrated preview. Nicholas Briggs later admitted that it was probably this, combined with his accurate impressions of the Daleks on all their Big Finish releases, that eventually secured him the job of voicing the Daleks for real in 2005.

A 38 second trailer for Doctor Who: Dalek Empire - Wetworks, was included on BFP release The Land of the Dead, and was extended to 43 seconds and presented as a stand-alone trailer for Doctor Who: Dalek Empire on The Fearmonger CD. A separate trailer for Doctor Who: Dalek Empire - The Genocide Machine, running to 45 seconds, appeared on The Marian Conspiracy and Red Dawn discs. Chris and Kevin Gregory prepared a short CGI video sequence to promote the Dalek Empire range, first shown at the Battlefield IV convention in Coventry, using samples from The Genocide Machine as a soundtrack to the animation.

The Apocalypse Element

Doctor Who: Dalek Empire Part Two - The Apocalypse Element
Written by Stephen Cole
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Produced by Gary Russell / Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer for BBC Worldwide - Jacqueline Rayner

When the planet Archetryx is threatened by a Dalek assault squad, the Doctor and Evelyn become embroiled in an ever-deepening mystery. What has become of President Romana, missing for twenty years? What lurks in the vast gravity wells of Archetryx? What is the secret of the ancient element the Daleks are synthesising - and how does Gallifrey feature in their plans? The Doctor finds that if his oldest enemies cannot conquer the universe they will watch it go up in flames...

With Lalla Ward keen to return to her role as fourth-Doctor companion Romana, Stephen Cole's second script for Big Finish knotted together the fictional worlds of Big Finish, Virgin and BBC Books, where Romana had served as President of Gallifrey for some time (an idea sparked by the New Adventure novels during the mid-90s), and began a Big Finish story arc that would ultimately inspire the stand-alone Gallifrey series of CDs. Also in the cast were Anthony Keetch and Michael Wade, reprising their roles as Time Lords from The Sirens of Time. In pitting the Daleks against the Time Lords for the first time in the series' history, Big Finish used the strength of the opposition to further restore the Daleks' cruelty, the essential brief for the Dalek Empire series; the creatures here showed no mercy in removing Time Lord's eyes to move freely through the city, or in destroying whole planets for demonstration of their powers. President Romana herself, it was revealed, had been kept captive and in isolation for many years, her low morale speaking volumes about the Daleks' new efficiency in war.

The CD design was changed from this release, with the original silver-text-on-black design replaced with black text over a monochrome version of the cover illustration. Unfortunately the new company who introduced this change in design sent out a number of blank CDs towards the end of the first run, as well as several empty cases. Big Finish were quick to offer a return service and immediately returned to their original supplier (though, in a fault relating to Big Finish themselves, the small print on the CD incorrectly copyrighted The Apocalypse Element to Mike Tucker). The DWM preview also changed, with a two-page spread offering both an illustration and a potted history of the production (with the usual story information and sample cover art). The magazine had initially been reluctant to grant Big Finish a behind-the-scenes report for each release, fearing that it would simply become a repetative monthly format of positive actor quotes with near-identical photographs shot against a brick wall, but the previews became a popular part of each issue.

The Holy Terror

Doctor Who: The Holy Terror
Written by Rob Shearman
Directed by Gary Russell
Produced by Gary Russell / Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer for BBC Worldwide - Jacqueline Rayner

The TARDIS lands in a forbidding castle in a time of religious upheaval. The old god has been overthrown, and all heretics are to be slaughtered. Obviously it isn't the sort of thing which would happen there every day - just every few years or so. And when the Doctor and Frobisher are hailed as messengers from heaven, they quickly become vital to opposing factions in their struggle for power. But will they be merely the acolytes of the new order - or will they be made gods themselves? An evil destructive force is growing deep within the crypt. And the pair soon find out that they will be lucky to escape their new immortality with their lives.

Having created the 'ideal' companion of Evelyn Smyth specifically to avoid pairing the sixth Doctor with any characters created for earlier formats, producer Gary Russell changed his mind and managed to persuade directors and writers to release a stand-alone audio adventure starring the shape-changing alien who accompanied the Doctor on his comic strip adventures in the mid-1980s. Frobisher would not be the only character to graduate from the Marvel strips - the sucess of this story would see the return of both Beep the Meep and Dogbolter in later Big Finish plays, all alongside Colin Baker - taking the audio stories into a new, comic direction.

Originally penned as a gothic fourth Doctor story, The Holy Terror, once rejected by Tom Baker, was re-written as a radio comedy with sinister undertones. Battlefield (1989) actor Robert Jezek was cast as the penguin, creating a vocal-partnership with the Doctor that was described by Doctor Who Magazine's Vanessa Bishop as "Disney-esque" in its charm and humour. He would reprise the role for The Maltese Penguin (a subscriber-exclusive CD) the following year.

The side-bar of the CD was altered for this release only to read A SIDE-STEP INTO A 2-D UNIVERSE (following the previous months' SIDE-STEP INTO VIRGIN TERITORY, after the seventh Doctor had been paired with both Ace and Bernice Summerfield in homage to the Virgin New Adventures), but since the first batch of copies were distributed in black instead of clear-plastic cases, the text could not be read until opened. The final track on Disc 2 continued into silence after a trailer for The Mutant Phase, revealing after several minutes a 'hidden' dance track based on crowd noise in Part Two - a bonus that would be oft-repeated.

A 90 second trailer for Doctor Who: The Holy Terror followed the fourth episodes of The Fires of Vulcan and The Shadow of the Scourge, and appeared on the DWM 300 promotional CD and Big Finish Magazine Issue 1. The trailer and 15'08" of Russell Stone's incidental music appeared on Music from the New Audio Adventures Vol. III (BFPCDMUSIC3), a single CD released in July 2001. The tracks were titled: Dungeons / Berengaria's Lament / Childeric / Beneath the Vaults / Frobisher / The Child / Arnulf / Berengaria / The Temple / The Legacy of My Evil / Two Miles of Steps / No Front Door / Childeric's Death / Why Could I Not Love My Child? / Death and the Child / Nothing Lasts Forever.

Storm Warning

Doctor Who: Storm Warning
Written by Alan Barnes
Directed by Gary Russell
Produced by Gary Russell / Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer for BBC Worldwide - Jacqueline Rayner

October, 1930. His Majesty's Airship, the R101, sets off on her maiden voyage to the farthest-flung reaches of the British Empire, carrying the brightest lights of the Imperial fleet. Carrying the hopes and dreams of a breathless nation. Not to mention a ruthless spy with a top-secret mission, a mysterious passenger who appears nowhere on the crew list, a would-be adventuress destined for the Singapore Hilton... and a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. There's a storm coming. There's something unspeakable, something with wings, crawling across the stern. Thousands of feet high in the blackening sky, the crew of the R101 brace themselves. When the storm breaks, their lives won't be all that's at stake... The future of the galaxy will be hanging by a thread.

Big Finish's next major coup - their signing of Paul McGann for an audio Season 27 - was announced on 31 May 2000, several weeks after the actor had recorded four plays in five days - an unprecidented but immensly successful move that was repeated in January 2001 after McGann, who had been initially relucant to appear, admitted enjoying the experience. Since the Daleks had already featured in three 'regular' BFPs, the Cybermen and the Brigadier were chosen as guest-stars for the series, with the remaining two plays introducing new enemies. With many potential companions to chose from (with the 1996/7 Radio Times comic strip, on-going DWM comic strip and eighth Doctor BBC Books all offering possiblities), Big Finish decided to create their own - a 1930s master of disguise named Charlotte E. Pollard, a character penned specifically for actress India Fisher. India - who had first appeared in the Peter Davison story The Land of the Dead - quickly became something of a Big Finish favourite, starring in their Summer 2000 Edinburgh fringe play, the recording of James Follett's Earthsearch: Mindwarp, and appearing at conventions with the Big Finish team long before release of the McGann range.

The season attracted a number of impressive stars, including Michael Sheard and Elaine Ives-Cameron, and the nature of the back-to-back recordings led to the formation of a small repetory cast, with Hylton Collins, Mark Gatiss, Barnaby Edwards, Helen Goldwyn and Gareth Thomas appearing throughout the plays. Both Sword of Orion and Minuet in Hell were based on Audio Visuals stories of the same names, expanded and revised by their original authors (though Orion was originally released under Briggs' pen name, Samuel Flint).

In September 2000, established musician David Arnold let slip in an interview for Mojo Magazine that he had recorded a new, darker arrangement of the Doctor Who theme for the season. The presentation of the plays generally aimed to recreate the style of the US TV Movie, with special TARDIS interior, landing and take-off sound effects akin to those used by the 1996 production team and a new cover style that used the font seen in the opening titles of the film. Each story also opened with a 'teaser', an introductory scene set before the opening titles - a typically American technique of grabbing an audience - and the CD spines and inlay booklet were predominately black, in contrast to the traditional Big Finish-white. The back cover featured CGI artwork of the TARDIS interior, and from this release onwards the CD sidebar read AN ORIGINAL AUDIO DRAMA ON A DOUBLE CD rather than the FULL-CAST AUDIO DRAMA tag-line used since The Fearmonger.

A preview version of Storm Warning Part One was given away free (alongside Last of the Titans, an exclusive single-episode story) as a Doctor Who Magazine promotion in January 2001. This edit of the episode featured an extra piece of incidental music during the TARDIS prologue, as well as the Delia Derbyshire arrangement of the Doctor Who theme in place of the David Arnold recording - uniquely, the opening theme was prefaced with the 'sting' from the closing titles for extra dramatic effect (and to match the David Arnold version). The complete score for the story was released on Music from the eighth Doctor Audio Adventures.

The One Doctor

Doctor Who: The One Doctor
Written by Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman
Directed by Gary Russell
Produced by Gary Russell / Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer for BBC Worldwide - Jacqueline Rayner

When the evil Skelloids launch an attack upon the seventeen worlds of the Generios system, its peace-loving inhabitants face total destruction. So it's fortunate that the famous traveller in time and space known only as the Doctor is in the area, and doubly lucky that, with the help of his pretty young assistant, Sally-Anne, he manages to defeat the deadly creatures and save the day. But now it looks as though the Doctor's luck has run out. Who is the mysterious, curly-haired stranger who insists on causing trouble? What role does the feisty redhead Melanie play in his scheme? And what have they to do with the sinister alien cylinder approaching Generios? One thing is certain: for the Doctor and Sally-Anne, there¹s deadly danger ahead ...

Big Finish assembled an impressive comedy line-up for their first Christmas pantomime - a light-hearted release that celebrated the longevity of the audio series with a complete throw-away story. Christopher Biggins was joined by 2 Point 4 Children's Claire Buckfield, alongside Adam Buxton (from Channel 4's The Adam and Joe Show) and Matt Lucas, formally George Dawes on BBC2's cult comedy quiz show Shooting Stars. Their script, co-written by regular Big Finish cover artist Clayton Hickman, was ripe for ad-libbing, and several out-takes followed the final episode - including a specially recorded scene between Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford, recreating William Hartnell's infamous audience address from the Christmas Day broadcast of 1965.

Part Three opened and closed with the Delaware theme, the unused arrangement of the Doctor Who theme prepared for Jon Pertwee's fourth season that had appeared on BBC Video releases of The Carnival of Monsters 2 and Frontier in Space 5. Part Four opened with a slightly re-edited version of the traditional title music (with the pre-echo beginning on a different note) and closed with the extended theme used from Loups-Garoux to Bloodtide earlier in the year. Both Paddy Kingsland and David Darlington were credited in the inlay for the additional theme arrangement and editing.


Doctor Who: Neverland
Written by Alan Barnes
Directed by Gary Russell
Produced by Gary Russell / Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer for BBC Worldwide - Jacqueline Rayner

The Web of Time is stretched to breaking. History is leaking like a sieve. In the Citadel of Gallifrey, the Time Lords fear the end of everything that is, everything that was... everything that will be. The Doctor holds the Time Lords' only hope - but exactly what lengths will the Celestial Intervention Agency go to in their efforts to retrieve something important from within his TARDIS? What has caused the Imeriatrix Romanadvoratrelundar to declare war on the rest of creation? And can an old nursey rhyme about a monster called Zagreus really be coming true? The answers can only be found outside the bounds of the universe iteself, in a place that history forgot. In the wastegrounds of eternity. In the Neverland.

Even before the commercial release of Storm Warning in January 2001, Big Finish were back in the studio with Paul McGann, recording a six-story follow-up to their 'Season 27'. The February 8th press release (which saw print in DWM at the same time as it appeared on the Big Finish site) noted the star casts of many of the plays, with actors Lennox Greaves, Robert Curbishley, Stephen Fewell, Louise Rolfe, Mark McDonnell, Anthony Keetch and Lalla Ward singled out. Later, the cast of Invaders from Mars - which featured rising comedy actors Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson, Mark Benton and Paul Putner - would be emphasised.

The new season featured an elaborate story arc with more continuity references than ever before, with hints and pointers to the final stories (The Time of the Daleks and Neverland) liberally dropped throughout earlier adventures. The linking theme of Charley's unlawful existance was complimented by two short-term story arcs, as the Doctor tried to get Charley to Singapore in 1930 and later avoided the attentions of a Time Lord escort and a mysterious creature, also voiced by India Fisher, introduced in Seasons of Fear. Shakespeare's disappearance (a plot-point of Time of the Daleks) was established in Invaders from Mars as Orson Welles failed to recognise a quote from Hamlet, and the Doctor's conversation with Rassilon in Neverland could be heard throughout Seasons of Fear, a mystifying spoiler for which Don Warrington went uncredited. Seasons of Fear also featured an early appearance by a Dalek in Part 1, battling with Roman sentries in a scene also to be heard through the mirror in The Time of the Daleks 4. And the legend of Zagreus - with the rhyme 'Zagreus sits inside your head/Zagreus lives among the dead/Zagreus sees you in your bed/and eats you when you're sleeping' - had appeared in sixth-Doctor audio story Project: Twilight 1. Writer Alan Barnes went uncredited for the rhyme, which was lifted directly from the Neverland scripts. 'Zagreus waits at the end of the world/for Zagreus is the end of the world/His time is the end of time/and his moments Time's undoing'.

Although Don Warrington's name featured on the cover art for Neverland, his name was not included in the cast lists printed in DWM, and the CD's inner booklet, to completely conceal his character's identity. Despite being publicised as a traditional Big Finish 4-parter, Neverland was 'a special two-part, feature-length' presentation with episodes of 72 minutes each - a trick that would be repeated with the next McGann season finale, The Next Life, in 2005 - and featured the only pre-credits sequence of the season. Part 2 closed with a cliff-hanger designed to lead directly into Zagreus - a four-Doctor story being prepared for the 40th anniversary of Doctor Who.

Once again, the new season brought a change of cover design for the CDs. The cover illustrations now prefaced the Doctor Who logo - changed to the BBC Worldwide CGI version - with the leading actor's name. The David Arnold theme was re-edited for the new series, with the opening 'whir' removed and new versions of the repeat-to-fade introduced. The pre-titles sequences established with Storm Warning were also dropped, with the exception of Neverland 1.

The sleeve space usually reserved for director's notes was filled on Neverland with a short story, 'Once Upon a Time', featuring a 12-year-old Charley Pollard. The traditional side-bar tag-line 'An Original Audio Drama on a Double CD' was replaced for this release only with the quotation "You have made a difference. You have honoured me. Farewell..." Release was delayed by two weeks, meaning that no 'standard' Doctor Who CD was released in June 2002.

Two special behind-the-scenes companions to the new season were published in September 2002. Continuing the Big Finish Talks Back range were 'The Eighth Doctor Authors' on a single CD, followed by 'Paul McGann' on the company's first DVD, which also featured an appearance from India Fisher. Filmed in December 2001, McGann's 70 minute chat with Gary Russell covered the new audio seasons as well as his television appearance as the Time Lord, while the accompanying release featured Mark Gatiss, Robert Shearman, Paul Cornell, Caroline Symcox, Nicholas Briggs, Justin Richards and Alan Barnes discussing the evolution of the story arc and the future of the eighth Doctor.

Spare Parts

Doctor Who: Spare Parts
Written by Marc Platt
Directed by Gary Russell
Produced by Gary Russell / Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer for BBC Worldwide - Jacqueline Rayner

On a dark frozen planet where no planet should be, in a rat-infested city with a sky of stone, the Doctor and Nyssa unearth a black market in second-hand body parts and run the gauntlet of augmented police and their augmented horses. And just between the tramstop and the picturehouse, the Doctor's worst suspicions are confirmed: the Cybermen have only just begun.

Marc Platt's second script for Big Finish was commissioned as 'a Genesis of the Daleks for the Cybermen' without rewriting established chronology or introducing a Cyber version of Davros. Platt set the play on the doomed planet Mondas, Earth's twin planet, in the alternative London during the 1950s - a time when half-converted Cybermen on robotic horses patrolled the streets, replacement limbs were sold on the black market and no home was complete without its pet 'mat' or cyber-bird. As the story progressed, and the Cybermen (voiced by Nicholas Briggs in the style of their Tenth Planet appearance) over-rode their creators and began the mass conversion of the population, the production promised to change the way listeners regarded the Cybermen forever - showing the alarming confusion of a half-converted Cyberman returning to her former home. The story also revealed that the fifth Doctor's own biology provided the Cybermen with their blueprint for mass production - every Cyberman encountered thereafter had been modelled on the Doctor himself.

The CD sleeve and booklet were redesigned from this release onwards, with the back cover sporting a larger TARDIS background; the Author's Note was accompanied with a photograph and mini-biography; the production photographs took over the centre-pages, the recording and post-production credits were given an End Credits page, and the Radio Times listings for each episode were replaced with a simple cast list (in order of appearance) and a Production Notes section, designed to look like a tear-out supplement, covering recording dates, production codes, working titles (where applicable), continuity settings (where applicable) and episode lengths.

This story was later credited as the inspiration for the David Tennant episodes Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel in 2006, just as the later Rob Shearman audio Jubilee was an early version of the Christopher Eccleston episode Dalek in 2005. It was clear that the Big Finish range had been carving exactly the same path that Russell T Davies wished to take in re-launching Doctor Who for a 21st century television audience!