Audio producers Big Finish have enjoyed another industrious year of dramas in the Doctor Who universe.
Here’s six of our favourites…
The Diary of River Song: Friend of the Family
The Doctor’s wife has been blazing her own trail since 2015 but, although we didn’t know it at the time, this was the penultimate release in River Song’s solo audio series.
In Friend of the Family, the story focusses on her interactions with one family across the generations…
Tim Foley’s beautiful four-part story weaves River into the history of single family as she effectively haunts their family home thanks to some temporal shenanigans. The tale is both an incredibly satisfyingly plotted science-fiction story and an emotive character piece with an impressive guest cast which includes Isla Blair, Wendy Craig and Jemima Rooper.
Part period drama, part ghost story and part fourth dimensional puzzle, it’s a compelling tale of love, compassion and acceptance across the generations. Check out our review here.
The Third Doctor Adventures – Intelligence for War
With actor Tim Treloar taking on the role of the Third Doctor, this range is always a treat. He’s always accompanied by one of the era’s companions, either Katy Manning reprising Jo Grant, Daisy Ashford (as Liz Shaw) or Sadie Miller (as Sarah Jane Smith). Plus, the redoubtable Jon Culshaw voicing the Brigadier.
In Intelligence for War, the focus is Liz Shaw as she’s branded a traitor when UNIT finds a rival outfit gunning for them. Full of incident and intrigue, it’s a terrific seven-part thriller from the serious Season 7 by writer Eddie Robson. Check out our review here.
Once and Future: The Martian Invasion of Planetoid 50
Across seven instalments, Doctor Who’s 60th Anniversary celebration on audio brought a cavalcade of old faces and friends. After the Doctor was struck with a degenerative weapon, he hunted for a cure while bouncing up and down his own personal time line.
Bouncing forward during this story, he found himself in the Tenth Doctor’s body facing off against Missy – with the Paternoster Gang in tow.
With a setting drawn from ‘The War of the Worlds’, interactions between the hyperactive Tenth Doctor and the misanthropic Missy are a delight. The involvement of the Paternoster’s amuse too, with Strax assuming the role of The Artilleryman! Check out our review here.
In January, Torchwood gained a whole new era as we enjoyed Louise Jameson’s former MI5 spy, turned Torchwood boss, Roberta Craven fending off an Auton invasion.
1970s London is a place of suspicion and murder. The assassination of an entire embassy comes to the attention of Torchwood.
There’s a global energy crisis. There’s an alien invasion. Petrochemical companies are subject to hostile take overs by the mysterious Nessoil. Extremely hostile take overs.
Roberta Craven was once a spy. Now she’s broken. But she can still see the patterns in the world. And they’re closing in around her.
A lot of people have died, and not for the first time in her life, Roberta Craven has changed sides.
Travelling the world with a dead man, she’s negotiating world peace. Or is she starting a world war?
The Autons are coming. And Torchwood won’t stop them…
Playing out across two-parts, Louise Jameson is by turns brilliant, boorish and brimming with frustration. She’s joined by Omari Douglas (It’s a Sin) as Neal Hart, a smart investigative journalist who catches on to a government conspiracy. Check out our reviews of Part One and Part Two.
The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Angels and Demons
2023 gave us a new TARDIS team the sculptress Margaret Hopwood (Nerys Hughes) joined the Fourth Doctor and Leela. This second boxset for the trio brought four stories, the first being an encounter with the Weeping Angels…
The inclusion of Margaret brought a fresh dynamic to the well-established pairing of Tom Baker and Louise Jameson. Across the four stories there’s a clever tale of a writer which is a homage to children’s fiction, a mystery linked to a WWII pub in which the Doctor briefly becomes a landlord, a pleasing face-off with those murderous statues and a bittersweet finale which bring Margaret’s travels to an end. Check out our review of Angels and Demons here.
The Eighth Doctor Adventures: Time War 5: Cass
As a prelude to the show’s 50th Anniversary special, ‘The Night of the Doctor’ showed us the Eighth Doctor’s final moments, before he took became the Doctor No More. It also briefly introduced us to Cass, a could-have been companion, before killing her off. However, in the time war, all bets are off…
Although they spent a few scant minutes together onscreen, there was palpable chemistry between Paul McGann’s Doctor and the doomed Cass (Emma Campbell-Jones). This set of four stories weaves Cass back into the Doctor’s life at a slightly earlier point, where he’s still on the fringes of the conflict and travelling with a version of his great-grandson Alex (Sonny McGann).
With a can-do attitude, Cass is up for adventure, smart and nobody’s fool. The set offers two clever mysteries, followed by a brilliant Dalek two-parter from writer James Moran. Check out our review of Cass here.
Honourable Mention – The World Tree
While it was released at the end of 2022, we feel ‘The World Tree’ deserves a nod too (and we reviewed it in January.)
Penned by writer Nick Slawicz, this story won the 2022 Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trip Opportunity where a writer new to Big Finish is invited to submit a synopsis and script sample for a short trip tale to be recoded and released in memory of the late Big Finish staffer.
Nora Wicker is forgetful. Not big things – not yet, anyway. She remembers her address and where the shops are. She remembers people when they come to visit, no matter how rare that is.
But she doesn’t remember where the bush with the red leaves in her garden came from – and she definitely doesn’t remember asking for a house call from the Eleventh Doctor.
The story deals with memory, aging and our attitudes towards them as it tells of a charming encounter with the Eleventh Doctor. Here’s our review – and it’s available to download for free from Big Finish.