I’m very far behind on listening to my Big Finish Audios.
For those who are not aware, Big Finish is a company that began making Doctor Who audio plays during what older fans have called the “Wilderness Years.” Before the Doctor Who reboot of 2005, fans, publishers and others were continuing the stories of the Doctor through books and audios. Big Finish was a company that flourished out of this with new adventures for the later 80s Doctors. Some of the best audios told stories of the Sixth Doctor. The reboot, instead of killing the company put them in an even bigger spotlight. Now, you will find audio plays for the modern Doctors, classic Doctors, companions, spin-offs, River Song, the list goes on!
The quality of storytelling in these audios is phenomenal. Foley effects are astounding, full casts providing voices, as well as original companions and Doctors returning to their roles. Due to this, the audios can be rather expensive. There is no single monthly streaming service price. They all must be purchased as individual stories, or bundled stories. If you are able to hit them up on a sale day then some of the older audios can be purchased for as low as $2.99. However, without the sales, audios go for anywhere for $13-$40, depending upon number of stories in the collection being sold, etc. Bundled groups of stories are priced anywhere from $100-130.
For example: let’s say you’re like my youngest child and a huge War Doctor fan. There isn’t much to satisfy this itch with the television show, just a couple of episodes. Then there is the book Engines of War. However, you can hear the late John Hurt reprising his War Doctor role through two War Doctor series from Big Finish! There are four audios available, each with three stories. They are over $40 for CDs or $25 a piece for download. Bundled they are $119 for CDs or $80 for download for 12 War Doctor stories. (Sidenote: I TORE through these stories, they were so fascinating! Lots of Time War wibbliness happening, with each story having it’s own feel.)
Companions created specifically for Big Finish received their day of canon glory in the BBC minisode “Night of the Doctor,” which had the Eighth Doctor mention a list of his Big Finish companions just before he regenerated. The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Tenth Doctor have all voiced their own audios with Big Finish. A Ninth Doctor series has recast this version with a Big Finish staple actor, Nicholas Briggs. As I mentioned at the beginning, River Song also has her own adventure series, which feature the Fifth, Eighth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Jango & Lightfoot, Iris Wildthyme and other companions have received their own spinoff audio series.
For Doctors who have already passed there are several ways stories are told. One is to have the companions tell the stories. These audios often feel more like audio books than full plays. The second way is that they have some companions do the voice of the Doctor, such as Frazier Hines being the Second Doctor, in a Troughton style. The third is to have new actors come in to play the Doctor. This was recently done for the First Doctor. Big Finish had the new First Doctor, David Bradley, voice all new adventures, with the companions recast with new actors. This is the series which I am behind on and very curious to try out.
The Big Finish website also features a podcast and information about the history of company, future releases, and more. This isn’t meant to be a big long advertisement for Big Finish, but it is a great extension of the show to try out when you’re craving new stories from Doctor’s past… to to pass the time until the new season of the television series begins.