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Radio Plays

Dr. Who - Traveller Extraordinary

In 1966, the international radio and television company Stanmark Productions announced their attempts to launch Doctor Who as a radio serial, primarily for overseas broadcast, following the successful foreign radio productions of British TV programmes such as The Avengers. Contemporary press adverts announced that the series would star Peter Cushing as the Doctor, continuing in the role he had portrayed in the Aaru films Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150AD (1966). Accompanied by two young companions named Susan and Mike, the radio Doctor was apparently all set for adventures with Marco Polo, Julius Caesar and the American Revolution. In May 1989 a reader-letter to fan magazine The Frame prompted a reprinting of both the original press cutting and an information pack from Stanmark Productions that had been sent out in early 1967 to curious readers. The advertisement ran as follows:



Time and Space and the realms of the unknown are yet to be fully explored by mankind but their secrets are already known to one person, Dr. Who - Traveller Extraordinary.

Dr. Who's "Space" adversaries include invincible robots, giant insects and invisable monsters - his "Time" adventures involve him with Marco Polo, the American Revolution, Julius Caesar, the Neanderthal Man, the sailing of The Mayflower to the "New World" and many other famous events from our planet's history.

Dr. Who, together with his young companions, Susan and Mike, flashes across the centuries in his Time-Machine "TARDIS" in this series of brilliantly exciting adventures involving them all in deadly danger, fearful intrigues and the weird and wonderful mysteries of space and time.

From the B.B.C.'s most successful television program [sic] comes the amazing "Dr. Who" now available for the first time on radio as a 25-minute serial. A further 51 episodes are in production.

The advert concluded with a list of 12 countries where Doctor Who could currently be seen on television. The information pack included a large portrait photograph of Peter Cushing from Dr. Who and the Daleks, a cartoon illustration of Cushing, Susan and Mike inside the Aaru-style TARDIS with four small images above it (showing a dragon-like monster, a Roman soldier, the TARDIS exterior in space and a futuristic Cow-boy) and the following biographical information on Peter Cushing.

Peter Cushing was first introduced to the role of Dr. Who in the successful film "DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS". His latest science fiction escapade is "Invasion Earth 2510 A.D." However, he is probably best known for his appearance in such pictures as "The Curse of Frankenstein", "Dracula", "The Flesh and the Fiends", "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and numerous other horror films, in which he has made his reputation as "the most frightening man in the world".

Unfortunately, no recording appears to have been made. The 51 episodes intended to follow the pilot are generally considered unlikely to have even been scripted, and Cushing's poor health has been attributed for the apparent lack of the single episode offered for sale in the 1966/7 advertisements. Stanmark Productions had collapsed long-before 1989, and there are no sources to confirm how far into production Dr. Who - Traveller Extraordinary had been before the project was abandoned.

However, during the late '60s a one-off, 30 minute radio broadcast took place of the edited soundtrack to the second and final Dalek movie, Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150AD. It is possible that this programme was constructed instead of the proposed Cushing radio pilot, due to pre-sales of the episode before the actor became seriously ill or Stanmark lost interest in the programme. The broadcast seems unlikely to have been repeated and is even less likely to receive commercial release in the future.

Exploration Earth: The Time Machine

Tx: 4th October 1976, 2.00pm, BBC Radio 4 VHF

That programme was written by Bernard Venables. Those taking part were Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and John Westbrook. Special sounds were by Dick Mills of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The production was by David Little.
The Doctor and Sarah travel back to the time of Earth's creation, where they encounter the Megron, a lord of chaos who hopes to prevent evolution. The Doctor challenges him to a mind battle and wins, enabling the Earth to evolve peacefully.

In 1976 the BBC schools team decided that the TARDIS was an adequately established device to transport pupils into the past and allow them to learn about the creation of the Earth in a geography course called Exploration Earth. The third programme in the four-part series, sub-titled The Time Machine, was written for the contemporary TARDIS team, Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen, who were joined by John Westbrook as the Megron.

Featuring the 1970s Doctor Who theme (opening and closing titles) and sound effects by Doctor Who's effects artist Dick Mills, the programme fitted into Doctor Who canonicity rather well. Set during a journey aboard the TARDIS, new elements were created for Who followers in the form of bubble capsules that allowed the Doctor and Sarah to travel outside the ship into barren atmospheres. The bubbles hummed as they glided along, and were never to be seen or heard again in any format of Doctor Who. The TARDIS landing effect was also different to that used in the television series - as well as the familiar Brian Hodgson noise, a drawn-out falling wind effect was used, suggesting to listeners that the TARDIS had difficulty landing in such early times.

Recorded 27 April 1976 and broadcast some 5 months later, two versions of the programme were prepared. A search of the BBC archives in 2001 revealed the existence of an alternative edit some two minutes shorter than the broadcast version, with small sections of dialogue and the scene-bridging travelling effects trimmed. The Megron's voice was also found to be at a lower pitch in the shorter edit, suggesting that this version - presumably prepared for repeat purposes - was compiled from the original source materials rather than simply cut from the 19-minute broadcast version. The series was never repeated, however, although clips from a cassette copy of the programme were included in Talking 'Bout My Regeneration, a 45 minute documentary about Doctor Who audio-drama, in 1999 (produced by Doctor Who Magazine and Big Finish Productions to tie-in with the release of BFP's The Sirens Of Time), and the BBC Radio Collection scheduled a remastered copy of the show for release on CD packaged with the Genesis Of The Daleks LP in 2001, for which Mark Ayres combined elements from both the 19 and 17 minute versions of the programme.

This was not to be the last time that the Doctor was used by BBC schools. In 1990, Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and John Leeson united for Search Out Science: Search Out Space, a BBC TV programme in the form of a galactic quiz show fronted by the Doctor, Ace, K9 and an alien from the planet Zog.

Slipback

Tx: 25th July - 22nd August 1985, BBC Radio 4

Doctor Who: Slipback with Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Jon Glover, Jane Carr, Valentine Dyall, Ron Pember, Nick Revell and Alan Thomspon. The script was written by Eric Saward and produced by Paul Spencer
Following a spot of uncharacteristic intoxication, the Doctor wakes up to discover the TARDIS has materialised inside a huge spaceship traveling through deep space. Furthermore, the TARDIS has detected time spillage - who is tampering with time?

Doctor Who's first dramatised radio serial was produced more out of necessity than choice. The suspension of the television series for the first time in 22 years had resulted in fan uproar, and Slipback was arguably produced to assure viewers that the programme was not dead. The mini-series was the brainchild of BBC Radio 4 controller David Hatch, who approached TV producer John Nathan-Turner about a Doctor Who story to form part of his new teenage magazine programme, Pirate Radio 4: a three hour slot for the summer holidays hosted by Steve Bracknell and also featuring quizzes, reports, excerpts from Adrian Mole and a recurring sketch called Lil The Biker. Nathan-Turner immediately suggested that his script editor, Eric Saward, should write the scripts - Saward having had a strong radio background, and knowing enough about the series to blend it seamlessly into established continuity.

Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant played the Doctor and Peri (in the more relaxed relationship that had emerged toward the end of Season 22), and with incidental music by Jonathan Gibbs and sound effects and ambience by Dick Mills (both uncredited), the story feels very much a part of the era. Recorded over eight hours on June 10th 1985, the story - originally titled The Doomsday Project - featured return appearances from several Who actors (including Valentine Dyall, a mere fortnight before his death). Broadcast over six weeks (with two episodes every other Thursday) on Radio 4 VHF/FM, it was the first Doctor Who adventure to be made and received in stereo, with the music, effects and theme tune (a slightly tweaked edit of the Peter Howell arrangement, later used on the Jon Pertwee radio plays and the special edition of The Five Doctors) arranged specially for the occasion. VHF/FM had a limited range, however, and listeners in some parts of Wales, Ireland and Scotland were unable to hear it.

To assure a large audience, no timings were given for any of the drama or comedy inserts during Pirate Radio 4, meaning that fans had to listen to 3 hours of the show in wait for 20 minutes of Who. The general response was good, though obviously not from listeners outside the UK, and had Pirate Radio 4 returned the following year it is likely that a second Doctor Who series would have topped the bill. Unfortunately, the Doctor Who episodes were consistently voted the best thing about the magazine programme, which many found patronising and dull, and the experiment was never repeated. Slipback, however, resurfaced the following year, when Eric Saward expanded upon his radio scripts for a W H Allen novelisation, published in August 1986 and reprinted in paperback for Target in January 1987. 1988 saw the unedited serial released on double cassette with Genesis of the Daleks (BBC ZBBC 1020), with the voice-over credits from episodes 2 and 4 replaced with the shorter edit used on the broadcast episodes 1, 3 and 5, and this version of the story was re-issued on CD in January 2001 as part of the Doctor Who BBC Radio Collection (ISBN 0563477946) with original CGI cover artwork. In 1991 DWM ran an Archive feature on the story, with six new illustrations by Colin Howard to accompany Andrew Pixley's text and photographs of the cast.



Slipback has remained an oddity in the Doctor Who universe. As Gary Russell pointed out in a review from DWM 107, Season 23 could have bridged the gap between television and radio adventures by making a passing reference to Grant, who was still inside the TARDIS at Slipbacks conclusion. But The Trial of a Time Lord, set some time after Revelation of the Daleks, featured no such link, and fans have long debated the radio story's canonicity - especially since the reason behind Event One (the Big Bang) had already been explained in the TV adventure Terminus. Nonetheless, it was obvious from this summer filler that Doctor Who worked extremely well on radio - a medium designed exclusively for the exciting and complex scripting so much a part of classic Doctor Who. Yet it would be some eight years before the Doctor returned to the airwaves, and Slipback proved to be the last crossover to audio during Doctor Who's televisual lifetime.

The Paradise of Death

tx: 27th August - 24th September 1993, BBC Radio 5
and
12th April - 24th May 1994, BBC Radio 5 (repeat)

The Paradise of Death was written by Barry Letts and starred Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, with Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge Stewert, Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, Harold Innocent as Freeth, Peter Miles as Tragan, Maurice Denham as the President, Richard Pearce as Jeremy Fitzoliver, Jonathan Tafler as Captain Waldo Rudley and Jane Slavin as Onya. Title music was composed by Ron Grainer and arranged by Peter Howell. Additional music by Peter Howell of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The director was Phil Clarke.
When a horrific and inexplicable death occurs at Space World, a new theme park on Hampstead Heath, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and UNIT are called in to investigate. The Doctor is highly suspicious. Just who controls the Parakon Corporation, the shadowy organisation behind the running of the park? What is 'Experience Reality', and what are the limits of its awesome powers?

The 30th Anniversary year of Doctor Who was celebrated in a number of ways. BBC Video released an unprecedented amount of Doctor Who titles, including 2 lavish box sets, the TV production team reunited to film a 15 minute special for Children In Need, and BBC Radio 5 broadcast the first Doctor Who radio serial in 8 years. Born from a suggestion by Jon Pertwee, who, after sharing a studio with producer Dirk Maggs during the recording of a Superman series in 1991, thought that Maggs should consider an audio-only production of Doctor Who, the interest of Light Entertainment producer Phil Clarke convinced the BBC that a special story to celebrate the Anniversary would be a worthwhile venture. Maggs had proved unavailable at the time of Pertwee's original suggestion, and had moved on from the BBC by the time Light Entertainment were involved, but Clarke, a Doctor Who fan himself, contacted Jon Pertwee in 1993 and followed the actor's additional suggestions to involve Elisabeth Sladen, Nicolas Courtney and Barry Letts, who Pertwee believed knew the show best and would be the most suitable writer for a revival of his era.

Letts was immediately excited by the project, and wrote a 10 episode series that included two linked stories for the third Doctor and his Season 10 companions, supposedly set between The Time Warrior 4 and Invasion 1 (which presents an interesting continuity problem for canonicity fanatics, since these two episodes appear to flow directly into each other on-screen). The series was edited down to include only the first of the two stories, becoming first a 6-parter and then a 5 episode story. To continue the revival theme, 1970s Doctor Who actor Peter Miles was cast as the evil Tragan, and Radiophonic Workshop composer Peter Howell was elected to compose the original incidental score for the story, which introduced a version of the Doctor Who theme first created in stereo for the BBC Radio 4 production Slipback (heard in Paradise with an extra whoosh added to the closing theme and an edited build-up to the final explosion to match the TV visuals. Incidentally, this new closing title music was included on the 1993 CD 30 Years at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop; was used as title music for the series of Doctor Who talking books in 1995-7; and opened each Doctor Who BBC DVD from their inception in 2000 (with the sole exceptions of The Robots of Death and Spearhead from Space, which used the 1970s opening theme).

The scripts for The Paradise Of Death invited controversy by introducing a new character to the series, Jeremy Fitzoliver. Richard Pearce played the character as it had doubtlessly been written - a hapless, comic photographer with very little sense, and reviews of the character have ranged from angry accusation to amused defence. The serial has also been criticised for failing to appropriately make use of the medium of audio, and simply bombarding the listener with multiple locations and sound effects and a minimum of coherent plot. Nonetheless, the series was released on double cassette in November 1993 (ZBBC 1494), with a number of additional scenes from Episodes 4 and 5 that had been cut from the radio broadcast due to time restrictions (and with re-edited closing-titles music on Episodes 1 to 4), repeated in Spring 1994 (when Episode 4 was accidentally broadcast two-weeks running, prompting a surge of calls from the public that Jon Pertwee claimed convinced the BBC to commission a second series that year), and re-issued (still in extended form) on double CD as part of the BBC Radio Collection in early 2000 (ISBN 0563 553 235). The story has since been repeated on numerous occasions on the BBC's digital radio station BBC7.

Whatever Happened to Dr. Who's grand-daughter, Susan Foreman of class 4B?

Tx: 9th July 1994, 10.00am, BBC Radio 4

In Whatever Happened To... Susan, Susan was played by Jane Asher and Ian by James Grout. Other parts were played by June Barne, Eva Haddon, Andrew Sachs, Peter Woodthorpe and Barry Harrison. Claire Rayner appeared as herself. Whatever Happened To... Susan was written by Adrian Mourby and produced in Bristol by Brian King.
Susan talks of moving from Gallifrey to London, where her hippie parents sold concepts on T-shirts. She hadn't been very good at French - the most commonly used language in the Universe - and Coal Hill seemed as if it would offer a better education. Ian Chesterton recalls her relaxed attitude to science, and how he and Barbara Wright had followed her home one night. The next day, she and the telephone box in which she claimed to live had disappeared. He denies any knowledge of both her grandfather and time travel, but a Thal supports Susan's story, describing Ian and Barbara on Skaro, whilst Claire Rayner remembers regular pleading letters from a girl with a bullying grandfather.. with a final note coming from France, 1794. After drifting for many years, Susan joined the educational authority to prepare humanity for the forthcoming Dalek invasion.

Broadcast during 1994, when Doctor Who was fresh in the public memory after Dimensions In Time and The Paradise Of Death, this affectionate mock-history of the Doctor's first travelling companion is a piece of creative fiction unique to the world of Who. It stands alone in more ways than one, however, as the story of the Doctor presented in the programme differs greatly from the television series...

Presented as a serious documentary, the interviews with Susan, Jo, Ian and Barbara are brilliantly done, and it is a shame that only the unavailable Carole Ann Ford was asked to reprise her role - as William Russell proved in 1999, linking the missing episodes of The Crusade, he could have slipped back into character perfectly. Yet because of the obviously different voices, and the numerous continuity changes listed above, this little programme shares the same status as the Peter Cushing movies of the 1960s - related to Doctor Who and yet not a part of it. Nonetheless, the attention to detail is exquisite, with many off-hand references to seasons one and two that not even hardcore fans would recognise. This intelligent radio spoof is a reminder of the BBC's faith that the rich history of Doctor Who had not been forgotten by the General Public, even after 32 years.

After many years of speculation that this programme would never be commercially released, it finally saw the light of day in 2003 on the BBC DVD release of (appropriately) The Dalek Invasion of Earth, followed by a CD release as part of Doctor Who at the BBC - Volume 3 (BBC Radio Collection) in 2005.

The Ghosts of N-Space

tx: 20th January - 24th February 1996, 7.00pm, BBC Radio 2

The Ghosts Of N-Space was written by Barry Letts and starred Jon Petwee as the Doctor, with Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, Richard Pearce as Jeremy Fitzoliver, Jonathan Tafler as Clemenza, Don McCorkindale as Don Fabrizzio, Stephen Thorne as Max, David Holt as Nico, Sandra Dickinson as Maggie, Harry Towb as Mario, Deborah Berlin as Louisa, Peter Yapp as Umberto, Joanne Sergeant as Maid, Paul Brooke as Paolo, Gavin Muir as Barone, Jillie Meers as Baronessa / Marcella, Jonathan Keeble as Roberto and Jim Sweeney as Guido. Title music was composed by Ron Grainer and arranged by Peter Howell. Additional music by Peter Howell of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The director was Phil Clarke.
The Brigadier's ancient Great-uncle Mario seems unsurprised by the spectres which haunt his even more ancient Sicilian castle, but when the Doctor comes to investigate he faces a danger as great as any he has yet encountered.

This 1994 radio recording was the second and more controversial of the mid-'90s Pertwee serials. Following directly on from The Paradise Of Death, fitting once more into the supposed continuity gap between The Time Warrior and Invasion and starring Nicholas Courtney, Elisabeth Sladen and Richard Pearce, the six-part story unfortunately failed either to improve upon the faults of the first story or provide modest entertainment for casual radio listeners. Barry Letts' scripts have attracted a large amount of criticism for substituting the original definition of N-Space as 'normal-space' (most expressively identified throughout the E-Space trilogy of Season 18, for which Letts was Executive Producer) for his own 'null-space', a place where the undead await their fate. The ghost-like nature of the story was also felt by many to be far from the traditional Doctor Who story Letts and Co. were supposed to be recreating, and contemporary reviews were quick to criticise the project for ignoring its stated purpose.

Originally scheduled to tie-in with Letts' novelisation of the scripts as a Virgin Missing Adventure, a sizeable delay in broadcast led Doctor Who Magazine's Dave Owen to note that, "rather than sounding like an original radio drama, the production (...) effectively [became] a dramatisation of the book" (DWM 238). Pertwee's performance was less-energetic than before, his role slightly diminished under the large supporting cast and his voice apparently straining to perform the lines. The Sarah-Jane/Jeremy relationship and the Brigadier's frustration with his flambouyant uncle continued the humourous themes left-over from Paradise, but the prominance of loud and lengthly sound effects made listening a tiring experience.

The episodes were finally aired on BBC Radio 2 (as Radio 5 had since reformed itself as a news channel) with a simultaneous double-cassette release, available at Woolworths in a glow-in-the-dark sleeve. The cassette versions featured 'clean' closing music on episodes 1 - 5 (dubbed cast announcements were removed), and episodes 2 and 5 were split over two sides. This version of the story was re-issued over 3 CDs in 2000, as part of the Doctor Who BBC Radio Collection. The story has since been repeated on numerous occasions on the BBC's digital radio station BBC7.

The Wire: Regenerations

Tx: 1st December 2001, 9.55pm, BBC Radio 3 FM

Penned by Daragh Carville and starring Michael Colgan, Miche Doherty, Tim Loane, Richard Dormer, Justine Mitchell, Thomas Lappin & Alan McKee. Special guest appearances by Tom Baker and Sophie Aldred. Produced by Gemma McMullan
At a hotel in Belfast a group of six friends meet for an annual convention to celebrate the one thing they all have in common, their passion for Doctor Who. However, at this year's event, there is going to be trouble...one of them is a traitor! Meanwhile, outside the hotel a menacing, "monstrous" riot has erupted on the streets of Belfast…and into this highly charged atmosphere steps the only person who might yet be able to save the day, the Doctor.



Press release: "Regenerations is part of the second season of The Wire - BBC Radio 3's strand driven by original voices. Ten award-winning contemporary writers from theatre, film, radio and literature. Ten distinctive voices from across the country, these are writers who have courted controversy, entertained and broken the mould. Daragh Carville was the winner of the 1997 Stewart Parker New Playwright Award and the 1998 Meyer-Whitworth Prize. In September 1999 he was appointed Writer-in-Residence at Queen's University, Belfast. He is currently working on two new plays; The Visitation, commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and The Holyland, for the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. He has also written for television and radio, and recently completed work on his first screenplay, English as a Foreign Language.

The fifth in a series of ten dramas from award-winning writers, Regenerations - set in 2002, at the 20th anniversary meeting of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society Belfast local group - included a number of samples from Doctor Who. Clips were taken from An Unearthly Child 1, The Moonbase 2, Ghost Light 1 and The Ark in Space 1, and several tracks from Doctor Who - The Music were used as background and incidental music, including the Peter Howell arrangement of the Doctor Who theme, which opened and closed the programme. Sophie Aldred and Tom Baker appeared as themselves, with Baker posing as the Doctor at one stage - the first time he had agreed to play the role since his New Zealand Super-Annuation Services commercials in 1997.

An announcement before the 55-minute broadcast (which took place 5 minutes later than scheduled) warned of "strong language", due to use of the following curses throughout the programme: bullsh*t (10 times), ar*ehole (6 times), sh*t or sh*te (25 times) and fu*k or fu*king (33 times). A short clip from the play was posted at the BBC's official Doctor Who website on November 29th. The following introduction by Daragh Carville appeared at BBC Radio 3 Online in November 2001.
For a time when I was a student I lived on University Road in Belfast, opposite a hotel called Renshaws. About once a month, on a Sunday morning, I would stagger out of the flat, bleary-eyed and hung over, and be confronted by the sight of a Klingon in full battle-dress, or a member of Starfleet, phaser at the ready. An odd sight at the best of times, but even odder on a damp Sunday morning in Belfast. My response, the only one appropriate under the circumstances, would be to keep my head down and shuffle on through, ignoring them, muttering about bloody Star Trek fans. As a playwright I’ve always tried to write plays about Northern Ireland that aren’t like other plays about Northern Ireland. When I started writing, I was sick and tired of the iconography of the ‘balaclava dramas’ that used to come out of this place. They said nothing to me about my life, as that old whinger Morrissey used to sing. At the same time, though, I knew as a writer that it would be irresponsible just to keep your head down and pretend that the Troubles never happened, or that sectarianism and violence never affected people’s lives here. So in my own work I’ve tried to find new and distinctive ways to talk about Northern Ireland, about issues of identity and belonging, politics and language and culture and history in this place. I’ve tried, as I say, to write plays about Northern Ireland that aren’t like other plays about Northern Ireland.

When I was asked to write something for ‘The Wire’, then, I went back to that image of the Sunday morning Belfast Sci-Fi fans, gathering together for their monthly meeting at Renshaws, those people who seemed so totally alien and out-of-place and at home with themselves. And so I’ve written Regenerations.

Regenerations is a kind of gay love story set at a ‘Doctor Who’ convention in Belfast during the marching season. Gary Mitchell it ain’t. It’s a play about a group of old friends, brought together initially by a love of ‘Doctor Who’, who are finally forced to step back and take a look at themselves and work out what it is they really have in common, what they really share. It’s a play about reality and illusions, about growing up, and what you can take with you and what you have to leave behind. It’s about the condition of being an outsider, an alien, in a culture that doesn’t seem able to accommodate you or represent you fully.

It’s also, I hope, a fast and funny play. And it has Tom Baker in it. What more can I say?

Daragh Carville

(c) BBC Radio 3 Online November 2001. Used without permission. No breach of copyright intended.

Big Finish on BBC7

Storm Warning tx: 6th - 27th August 2005, 18.30 & 00.30
Sword of Orion tx: 3rd - 24th September 2005, 18.30 & 00.30
The Stones of Venice tx: 1st - 22nd October 2005, 18.30 & 00.30
Invaders from Mars tx: 29th October - 19th November 2005, 18.30 & 00.30
Shada tx: 10th December 2005, 20.00
The Chimes of Midnight tx: 17th - 24th December 2005 & 7th - 14th January 2006, 18.30 & 00.30

Following their popular repeats of the radio stories The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space, and the immense change of direction for Doctor Who following the 2005 television series, BBC Radio 7 - a digital station dedicated to drama, comedy and the spoken word - arranged to air several stories recorded by independant production company Big Finish. As co-producer Jason Haigh-Ellery explained in mid-2005, 'I contacted BBC7 about two years ago about the possibility of broadcasting some of our productions. Although interested, the money required to gain additional clearances wasn’t available within BBC7’s budgets at that time. Two months ago, I was contacted by Mary Kalemkerian (Controller of BBC7) stating that funds were now available and I went in for a meeting with her. We soon agreed that having a running series of 16 linked episodes would be the best way to go and decided to broadcast the first McGann series with a slight amendment, replacing Minuet in Hell with Invaders from Mars. This was due to some of the content within Minuet being deemed unsuitable for early evening broadcast.'

Before going ahead, Big Finish checked with Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner (executive Producers of the new television series) and both were happy to give their blessing to the BBC7 McGann season. Paul McGann was called into the studios to record a series of special trailers, noting that he was not the leather-jacket wearing Time Lord but the earlier incarnation, making reference to the events of the TV Movie and explaining the concept of regeneration, and the episodes were slightly re-edited to unify their durations and add narrated end-credits. The episodes ran on consequetive Saturday evenings throughout the autumn - a close replacement for the 'real' series! - and gained considerable press attention.

The success of the broadcasts (and downloads, for each episode was available on the BBC's "listen again" service for up to 7 days) meant that further stories were quickly scheduled in time for Christmas: an omnibus of Shada (which aired in a marathon session with newly-recorded cast-interviews, and was followed by a repeat of BBC Radio 3's documentary My Life as a Dalek), and The Chimes of Midnight, a suitably Christmassy four-part story that was broadcast, once again, on consequetive Saturday nights (with the exception of New Year's Eve).

Full cast lists and details are available from the official Big Finish website, where the original versions of the 6 plays are available to purchase. The edited, broadcast versions look unlikely to be released.

Dalek I Love You

tx: 11th February 2006, 6pm & midnight, BBC Radio 7

This 30-minute play was written by Colin Sharpe and starred Charlie Hardwick, David Raynor and Fiona Clarke.

When Nigel English, the son of Doctor Who enthusiast Maggie, meets the beautiful and intelligent Isabella at a convention, his mother is suspicious of the girl's motives. But things get serious when Maggie's reality begins to change and she descends into apparent madness and she must face a showdown with Isabella. Who is she really, and what are her plans for Nigel?