New listener’s guide to Big Finish

OK! So the announcement that Alex Kingston will be headlining two new series of Big Finish audios is super huge news for fans of New Who, but seeing River Song (with the 8th Doctor!) stories is the icing of a supremely amazing cake that Big Finish has unveiled over the past few months. This includes other announcements such as:

This is an excellent place to start with Big Finish! Here’s everything you need to know about Big Finish:

What is Big Finish? It’s a company that’s been releasing Doctor Who audio dramas since 1999. At first, the stories featured just the 5th Doctor, 6th Doctor, 7th Doctor and 8th Doctor. In 2011, the 4th Doctor hopped on board and now there’s several series featuring him.

In addition to the classic Doctors, all but one of the surviving companions from the classic era (and a few now deceased) have participated in a Big Finish story. David Tennant, Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams) and Bernard Cribbins (Wilf) have appeared in various supporting roles (but not as their on-screen characters). As part of the 50th anniversary, Big Finish released audio stories narrated by Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) and Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald).

Big Finish also has a number of spinoffs featuring the original companions created for its dramas, such as Bernice Summerfield (another kickass time-traveling archaeologist), stories centered just around the companions, an entire 7-series Gallifrey collection featuring Romana, Leela and later-on Ace and more. 

Are the stories canon? Your mileage may vary, since Doctor Who’s canon is so debatable but Steven Moffat made at least the Eighth Doctor’s Big Finish adventures canon when he had Eight remember his companions from the audio series during his regeneration. Plus, one Big Finish episode used as the basis of a New Who episode (see recs below) and a lot of the writers for the audio dramas also write for the TV series.

As Moffat was the one to suggest River’s role in the new collections, it’s safe to assume that the River Song audios are part of her story canon. 

What are the productions like? They’re fully produced stories, with multiple actors and sound effects. It’s like listening to an audiobook, but better. There are original companions, and they are all amazing. You can get them either via digital download or CD.

Can I try it out before I pre-order? Yes! Here’s the first episode of the first Eighth Doctor series for you to try out.

Click here if you can’t see the link on the post itself.

Big Finish also has a collection of free episodes available on SoundCloud.

How much does it cost? Pre-orders are $20 for digital and $31 for audio CD (the Torchwood ones are less). However, Big Finish has frequent sales and is constantly offering various adventures for $5 US for the digital copy and a little bit more for the CD. But if you want to show your support for these series, please pay full price when you can. 

There’s so many! Where can I start? This was my problem and kept me from trying Big Finish for years. Personally, I recommend you start with the 8th Doctor. His stories are a lot like New Who stories, and his companions (Lucie Miller, Charley Pollard, etc.) are my favorite. Here’s five stories to start you off:

  • The Blood of the Daleks: Part 1: This is the first story with the 8th Doctor and Lucie Miller and is very similar in spirit to series 1 of New Who. Fans of Rose Tyler should enjoy Lucie Miller, who reminds me of a cross between Rose and Donna in all the good ways.
  • Storm Warning: The first story with the Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard. 
  • Shada: The Eighth Doctor and Romana. How can you not love this? This is the episode that never finished filming because of a TV strike during the 4th Doctor’s era.
  • Jubilee: This drama was adapted as “Dalek” in series 1 of New Who. It’s one of the best episodes in the Big Finish run and features the 6th Doctor.
  • The One Doctor: Another stellar outing with the 6th Doctor, and pretty much Colin Baker gets to be the version of the Doctor he was never allowed to be on TV. It’s also received rave reviews and is only $3 to purchase.

Here’s some recs from other people:

There’s a ton of material out there on Big Finish, so please check it out!

River Song Joins Big Finish

Big Finish has announced production of a new range of boxsets, featuring heroes and monsters from the recent era of Doctor Who, including River Song, the Judoon, the Sycorax and the Weeping Angels.

Big Finish Productions have been producing audio dramas based on the original Doctor Who series since 1999. However their access to characters from the post 2005 series has been restricted until now. In February it was announced that they had gained the rights to use characters from UNIT, and the latest deal expands their range further.

The new wave of adventures, due next year, will feature Alex Kingston as River Song, who first appeared in 2008’s Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. River will be stepping into the era of the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) for Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 2, alongside Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) and Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan).

Producer David Richardson saysThe idea of River meeting previous Doctors was actually proposed by Steven Moffat, and it’s just irresistible, isn’t it? Alex embraced the idea of returning to the role, and so she will be starring in no less than two box sets next year. And yes, we are still pinching ourselves! River will then return later in 2016 in Doctor Who: The Diary of River Song, an epic four-hour adventure that takes River across space and time, seeking out the secret rulers of the universe. Paul McGann will reprise the role of the Eighth Doctor in the final instalment.

The New Series adventures will continue in Doctor Who: The Churchill Years, in which Ian McNeice returns as the fromer British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In the four-hour saga, Churchill relates a number of encounters with the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors in his memoirs, battling alien incursions, metamorphosing creatures… and a Dalek! The stories are told by Ian McNeice, supported by a full cast of guest actors, including Danny Horn as Kazran Sardick, in a story taking place within the 2010 special A Christmas Carol.

Executive producer Nicholas Briggs says Ian has played Churchill in just four episode on TV, and yet it feels like it was many more. It was such a brilliant, definitive performance, and how wonderful that we will be continuing Churchill’s adventures with the Doctor on audio. Finally, the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors will face a new generation of monsters in Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters, a brand new, four-story run featuring creatures from the New Series. Peter Davison takes on the Weeping Angels, Colin Baker encounters the Judoon, Sylvester McCoy will meet the Sycorax… and Paul McGann will face a new clone batch of Sontarans on the edge of the Time War.

Executive Producer Jason Haigh-Ellery says It’s the ultimate mash-up, and we have some great scripts lined up for these landmark stories. There is no doubt that 2016 is going to be a brilliant year for Big Finish! All four boxsets will be released across 2016, and are available to pre-order. Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 2 will be released in February, and is available as part of a special bundle of all four Doom Coalition boxsets. Doctor Who: The Diary of River Song, Doctor Who: The Churchill Years and Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters can be pre-ordered on CD or Download. Related Articles: Big Finish announce New Series UNIT Spin-off (09 Feb 2015)

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