David Arnold to Compose Music: Film composer David Arnold, whose numerous scores include the films "The World is Not Enough," "StarGate," "Independence Day," "Shaft," "Godzilla" and television scores for "Stargate SG-1," "The Visitor" and "Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)," will be remixing the Doctor Who theme in an all-new arrangement (based on the Delia Derbyshire themes from the early days of the series) for the four 2001 Paul McGann Doctor Who stories from Big Finish. Arnold, who will also be composing the film score for the next James Bond film, is said to have gone back into the series' past to the Derbyshire recordings to give the McGann audios a new, haunting feel.
CD Distribution: Big Finish has announced that a number of the CD copies of "The Apocalypse Element" are defective and, in some cases, missing altogether. "These problems occurred in the latter stages of production at the CD pressing plant. The company used for The Apocalypse Element is not the one normally used by Big Finish and consequently we will not be using them again. If you have received a defective Apocalypse Element, Big Finish apologize for the inconvenience and disappointment and would ask you to return the play as purchased (the case and all enclosed CDs) to: Big Finish, PO Box 1127, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 3LW. A new, fully playable, Apocalypse Element will be sent back to you."
Changes to Distribution: Says Big Finish, "The final three releases of this year, The Shadow of the Scourge, The Holy Terror and The Mutant Phase are all set to be issued towards the end of their respective release months, so please be patient. Sorry about this but production constraints and the availability of the leading actors have made this necessary."
The Eighth Doctor Returns to Doctor Who: Actor Paul McGann, who played the Eighth Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie (and whose only subsequent return to the Who fold was to read stories for an audio release, "Earth and Beyond") has taped four audio plays for Big Finish, reprising his role as the Doctor. McGann taped the four stories on 15-19 May in sequence after extensive negotiations with Big Finish and did so in secrecy until the story was sent to Doctor Who Magazine for their exclusive release in the June issue. Joining McGann for his return visit is actress India Fisher (who has a guest shot in the upcoming "Winter for the Adept"), playing the new role of companion Charlotte "Charley" Pollard, a 1930's teenager teenager from 1930 who stows away aboard the R101 airship on its maiden voyage, seeking a life of adventure away from the humdrum society world of her rich stockbroker father. Says Gary Russell: "Her only soapbox is that she's a Mrs. Pankhurst fan, but she isn't obsessive about it. And although she thinks the Doctor is a wonderful, funny, dear man, she has no romantic feelings for him!" Also making a return visit is Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Details on the four stories are below. Meanwhile, McGann has agreed (in principle) to a second season of audios for 2002, which will be comprised of six CD sets. One of these six stories may be set on Gallifrey and may feature Lalla Ward as Romana again. (Photo at right: Paul McGann and India Fisher; photo courtesy Big Finish Productions.)
Audio Production Updates:
- Gareth Thomas, who starred for two years as the title character in TV's "Blake's 7" (and returned twice in later seasons), guest stars in "Storm Warning" as Lord Tamworth.
- The Cybermen are back in the Doctor Who fold, returning for "Sword of Orion," the February 2001 audio play.
- Nicholas Courtney returns for a second guest shot as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in "Minuet in Hell," completing the circle and making Courtney the only actor in Who history to star opposite all nine television Doctors (the first seven, McGann, and Richard Hurndall in "The Five Doctors")
- Actor Michael Sheard, who appeared in many Doctor Who stories including "Pyramids of Mars," "Remembrance of the Daleks" and "The Mind of Evil," is a confirmed guest for the forthcoming "The Stones of Venice" as Count Orsino.
Forthcoming Releases: Confirmed upcoming stories from Big Finish include:
- "The Fires of Vulcan" (September 2000): Written by Steve Lyons. Stars Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor and the return of Bonnie Langford as Mel, when the two are trapped in Pompeii at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius. "Two thousand years ago, a volcanic eruption wiped the Roman city of Pompeii from the face of the Earth. It also buried the Doctor's TARDIS... Arriving in Pompeii one day before the disaster, the Doctor and Mel find themselves separated from their ship and entangled in local politics. As time runs out, they fight to escape from the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. But how can they succeed when history itself is working against them? This story takes place between "Delta and the Bannermen" and "Dragonfire". Also stars Gemma Bissix (once Nigel Bates' adopted daughter Claire in Eastenders), Nicky Goldie, Anthony Keetch, Andy Coleman, Lisa Hollander, Steve Wickham, Robert Curbishly and Karen Henson. Bonnie Langford was reportedly so thrilled by Steve Lyons' script and the recording session of that story, that she's asked Big Finish for a chance to record another one! As DWM says, 'Expect a new Sixth Doctor and Mel adventure soon!'
- "The Shadow of the Scourge" (October 2000): Written by Paul Cornell. Stars Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Lisa Bowerman as the Doctor, Ace and Bernice Summerfield, the Seventh Doctor's next companion from the Virgin "New Adventures" series. "The Pinehill Crest Hotel in Kent is host to three very different events: a cross-stich convention, an experiment in time travel and... the summoning of the scourge. The Doctor, Bernice and Ace find themselves dealing with a dead body that's come back to life, a mystical symbol that possesses its host, and a threat from another universe that's ready for every trick the Doctor's got up his sleeve. This time, has the Doctor gone too far? This story takes place during the run of Virgin Publishing's New Adventures series of books, and is set between "All Consuming Fire" and "Blood Harvest"." Originally "The Summoning (of the Scourge)". Also stars Michael Piccarilli (James in the Australian soap "Home and Away"), Holly King, Nigel Fairs, Lennox Greaves, Caroline Burns-Cook and Peter Trapani.
- "The Holy Terror" (November 2000): Written by Rob Shearman. Stars Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and introducing Robert Jezek as Frobisher, the Whifferdill shapeshifting companion (yes, the penguin) from the pages of Doctor Who Magazine. Music by Russell Stone. "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." Also starring Dan Hogarth, Sam Kelly, Roberta Taylor, Helen Punt, Stefan Atkinson, Peter Sowerbutts, Bruce Mann and Peter Guinness.
- "The Mutant Phase" (December 2000): Written by Nicholas Briggs. Starring Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton as the Doctor and Nyssa. Third of the "Dalek Empire" stories featuring the Doctor.
- "Storm Warning" (January 2001): Written by Alan Barnes (editor of Doctor Who Magazine), directed by Gary Russell. Paul McGann returns to Doctor Who in the first of four stories as the Eighth Doctor; also introducing India Fisher as Charlotte "Charley" Pollard and guest starring Gareth Thomas ("Blake's 7") as Lord Tamworth. "After a dangerous encounter in the space/time vortex, the Doctor finds himself on Earth, October 1930. Or rather above it, aboard the British airship R101 on it's maiden voyage over France. Also on board is a young stowaway, Charlotte 'Charley' Pollard, seeking adventure and excitement away from her stifling family atmosphere. What Charley doesn¹t know but the Doctor does is that the flight is destined to end in tragedy, although no-one really knows why. Not even the Doctor, although maybe the passenger in Cabin 43 can help..." Also starring Nicholas Pegg (Frayling), Barnaby Edwards (Rathbone), Hylton Collins (Chief Steward Weeks), and Helen Goldwyn (Triskelion). Set around an airship disappearance in 1930.
- "The Sword of Orion" (February 2001): Written and directed by Nicholas Briggs. Stars Paul McGann and India Fisher as the Eighth Doctor and Charley. The Cybermen are back, hiding aboard an abandoned freighter in space, being sought by less than honest scrap merchants. But what is Captain Deeva Jansen's involvement and why does the Orion war suddenly seem so perilously close... Also starring Michelle Livingstone (Deeva), Bruce Montague (Grash), Helen Goldwyn (Chev), Ian Marr (Ike), Hylton Collins (Vol), Toby Longworth (Kelsey).
- "The Stones of Venice" (March 2001): Written by Paul Magrs, directed by Gary Russell. Stars Paul McGann and India Fisher as the Eighth Doctor and Charley, with guest star Michael Sheard as Count Orsino. The Doctor and Charley become embroiled in the decadent court of a tired Duke and his search for his beloved wife. The curse of the long since dead Duchess has finally come to pass and the enchanted city of Venice is sinking beneath the canals. Also starring Nick Scovell (Churchwell), Barnaby Edwards (Pietro), Elaine Ives-Cameron (Ms. Lavish), Mark Gatiss (Vincenzo).
- "Minuet in Hell" (April 2001): Written by Alan W. Lear and Gary Russell, directed by Nicholas Briggs. Stars Paul McGann and India Fisher as the Eighth Doctor and Charley, with special guest star Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. The twenty-first century has just begun, and the newly-formed state of Malebolgia is seceding from the rest of the United States of America. After his successful involvement with Scotland's devolution, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart has been invited over to Malebolgia to offer some expertise. However, there's someone held in a lunatic asylum who interests him, someone who believes he travels through space and time in the TARDIS. It is not, however, his old friend the Doctor... Also stars Robert Jezek (Brigham Elisha Dashwood), Helen Goldwyn (Becky Lee), Maureen Oakeley (Dr. Dale Pargeter) and Nicholas Briggs (Gideon Crane).
- "Loups-Garoux" (May 2001): Written by Marc Platt. Features the Fifth Doctor and Turlough and concerns a "family" of lycanthropes (werewolves) from Rio de Janeiro. (Originally called "The Werelings")
- "Bloodtide" (June 2001): Written by Jonathan Morris. Features the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn with the return of the Silurians from the television series, and... Charles Darwin! The story will delve into the reasons behind Evelyn's travels with the Doctor.
- Dalek Empire I [Title TBA] (June 2001): Stand-alone Dalek story without the Doctor, written by Nicholas Briggs.
- "Dark Rising" (July 2001): Written by Mike Tucker. Features the Seventh Doctor and Ace; no further details known.
- Untitled (August 2001): Written by Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman. Features the Sixth Doctor and Mel.
Some other authors pitching stories for the latter third of 2001 include Steve Lyons (probably with another historical tale), Alan W Lear, and the writing team of Cavan Scott and Mark Wright.
Big Finish Audio Online Ordering: Big Finish has opened its online store, allowing secure ordering from its website. Big Finish's website can be found at http://www.doctorwho.co.uk.