Doctor Who Continues on Audio: Big Finish Productions is currently releasing monthly Doctor Who stories starring members of the series' original cast. The BBC has renewed Big Finish's current contract for an additional year, through 2002.
Preview & Original Audio on DWM 300: Issue 300 of "Doctor Who Magazine" will feature a special promotional CD (akin to a previous DWM which had a "Sirens of Time" preview) from Big Finish. On the CD will be the first episode of "Storm Warning," the first Eighth Doctor adventure (but without the new opening theme) along with an exclusive short audio starring Sylvester McCoy. The original short drama will not be released independently by Big Finish.
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.
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. 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:
- Eleanor Bron, popular UK stage & screen actress who appeared twice previously in Doctor Who (in a cameo with John Cleese as an art lover in "City of Death" and more visibly as villainous Kara in "Revelation of the Daleks"), portrays Ileana de Santos in the forthcoming "Loups Garoux".
- Joining Bron is actor Burt Kwouk, the popular character actor best known for his role as Cato in the "Pink Panther" movies alongside Peter Sellers, and who has appeared in such films as "Empire of the Sun," "Rollerball" and "Goldfinger" as well as in the Doctor Who story "Four to Doomsday" as Lin Futu; and actor Nicky Henson, a versatile TV character actor in Britain.
- 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 Holy Terror" (Now in Release): 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 23, 2000): Written by Nicholas Briggs. Stars Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. "In the 22nd century, the Daleks have occupied planet Earth. By the 43rd century, only a handful of humans survive. Still further into the distant future, a Thal scientist must choose whether to betray his heritage, or see the universe destroyed. When the Doctor and Nyssa find themselves trapped in this deadly chain of events, they must decide who their real enemies are. What is certain, however, is that no matter where the Doctor turns... his arch enemies, the Daleks, will be waiting for him. What could possibly be worse than that? The Mutant Phase." Also starring Christopher Blake, Jared Morgan, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Ryan and Sara Wakefield.(At the request of Big Finish, we removed the tentative cover from our website. The cover was altered to a new version because the Terry Nation estate agents Roger Hancock Ltd. asked that the Emperor Dalek be changed and could not clear it because it was not something used previously in the series. We have now replaced it with a new version of the cover that is on the final product.)
- "Storm Warning" (January 22, 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.
- "Sword of Orion" (February 26, 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 19, 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 17, 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).
- "Bloodtide" (May 21, 2001, formerly June): Written by Jonathan Morris, directed by Gary Russell. 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. Music by Alistair Lock.
- "Loups-Garoux" (June 18, 2001, formerly May): Written by Marc Platt, directed by Nicholas Pegg. Features the Fifth Doctor and Turlough and concerns a "family" of lycanthropes (werewolves) from Rio de Janeiro. Also stars Eleanor Bron (Ileana de Santos), Burt Kwouk (Dr. Hayashi), Nicky Henson (Pieter Stubbe), Sarah Gale (Rosa Caiman), Jane Burke (Inez), David Hankinson (Anton Lichtfuss) and Derek Wright (Jorge). Music by Alistair Lock. Recording 9-10 December. (Originally called "The Werelings")
- Dalek Empire I-IV [Title TBA] (June 4, August 6, October 2 and December 3, 2001): Four stand-alone Dalek stories without the Doctor, written and directed by Nicholas Briggs. "'Attention all humans! You are now subjects of the Dalek Empire!' The largest Dalek fleet ever assembled begins its invasion of the galaxy... On planet Vega IV, Suz and Alby take their first, delicate steps towards romance. She's a career girl and he's just a drifter, but they've known each other for months now, and the attraction between them is undeniable. However, the Vega System is the Daleks' first target… and the token Earth defence force patrolling that sector is no match for the ruthless Dalek onslaught. Who is the mysterious stranger Suz finds amongst the devastated remains of Vega IV? What is Alby's secret? Can the Daleks' relentless advance across the galaxy ever be stopped? Dalek Empire is a story of human emotion and galactic intrigue set against the most destructive conflict the galaxy has ever known. Release is now confirmed in 2001 as of these dates.
- "Dust Breeding" (July 23, 2001): Written by Mike Tucker, directed by Gary Russell. Features the Seventh Doctor and Ace. Originally this slot was filled by a story called "Dark Rising" though we are told by Big Finish that Tucker was dissatisfied with his own progress on the script, and so he submitted a completely different story that Big Finish accepted.
- "Project Twilight" (August 20, 2001, formerly November): Written by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright, directed by Gary Russell. Features the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn, and is a vampire story set in modern day London. Says DWM: "a gritty tale of vampirism in modern-day London, the story promises gore, gambling and garlic galore."
- "Colditz" (September 17, 2001): Written by Steve Lyons. A Seventh Doctor and Ace story set in Colditz, Germany.
- Untitled stories (October & November 2001): No information
- "The One Doctor" (December 17, 2001, formerly August): Written by Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman, directed by Gary Russell. Features the Sixth Doctor and Mel in their first audio together. ("A frantic romp around the galaxy in the company of some rather surprising characters," according to DWM.)
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.
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."