Original series Who went off the air in 1989 after 26 years and a metric crapton of episodes. Seven Doctors, numerous companions, the Master, the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Ice Warriors, the Sontarans, the Zygons, the Autons…the list of wonderful things from that era go on and on and on. The series returned briefly in a one-off movie starring Paul McGann as the Doctor and Eric Roberts as the Master. It’s safe to say that many fans have a complicated relationship to that movie.
But did you know that from 1999 right up until now, there’s been new Doctor Who stories every single month starring all the living actors who’ve played the Doctor as well as most of the living companion actors (Jackie and Matthew, please come back)? Each month fans have been treated to the Doctor and his companions running around facing off against, at one point or another, every single “monster” I listed in that first paragraph. These adventures aren’t in comic book form. They aren’t in novel form. They are in audio form, and they come from Big Finish.
Big Finish is a British company that holds the license to produce audio stories based on popular series like Highlander, Stargate, Dark Shadows and Blake’s 7. They also produce stories based on Doctor Who. What’s it like to hear the series as what is essentially a radio play? It’s like closing your eyes while watching a DVD. You get stories, music, characters and writing that’s all on par with what was going on at the time, and it’s very, very good.
I hesitate to use the phrase “any true fan…”, but I will say that if you’re a fan of old school Doctor Who, and even if you’re only a fan of the new series, you owe it to yourself to experience the bliss of the audio adventures. Here’re eleven reasons why.
11. The original cast returns!
As I said up top, you get all the living ex-Doctors. This means you can hear Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Slyvester McCoy and Paul McGann all playing the Doctor once again. It’s incorrect to say that Matt Smith is THE Doctor these days. It’s more accurate to say he’s the TV Doctor while five other actors also play the character. Heck, at one point in Big Finish’s 40th anniversary story, they even found previously unused voice clips of Jon Pertwee to use.
Beyond that, you also get, as I mentioned, almost all the living companion actors. This includes William Russell (Ian), Carol Anne Ford (Susan), Maureen O’Brien (Vicki), Peter Purves (Steven), Jean Marsh (Sarah Kingdom), Anneke Wills (Polly), Frazier Hines (Jamie), Deborah Watling (Victoria), Wendy Padbury (Zoe), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9), Lala Ward (Romana II), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Bonnie Langford (Mel), and Sophie Aldred (Ace). Before their deaths, Caroline John (Liz Shaw), Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane) and Mary Tamm (Romana I), had also all supplied voice acting.
This cast list alone should be enough to make anyone who is a fan of the old series sit up and take notice. Not just the Doctors, but the companions, too. Not enough, you say? Well, then, let’s go on and look at more.