The BBC recently announced Time Lord Victorious, a new Doctor Who crossover event spanning everything from audio dramas to comics to escape rooms, basically everything except the television series. But if you're a fan who hasn't ventured outside the show, where do you start? The answer is the Big Finish audio adventures. Big Finish has created audio stories for more than 20 years, and all of them are canonical.
With Time Lord Victorious covering the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Doctors as they vanquish a foe early in their home planet of Gallifrey's history, here are 5 audio dramas to brush up on your history of The Doctor.
Between 1996 and Doctor Who's 2005 reboot, the canonical "current Doctor" was Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor, who had only appeared in a television movie. In 2000, he started working with Big Finish to create audio dramas, starting with Storm Warning, a tale taking place on an airship doomed to crash in 1930.
The Doctor meets up with young English girl Charlotte "Charley" Pollard, and together they defend the ship against the Uncreators, a sect of the Triskele aliens. After, The Doctor decides to take Charley in the Tardis with him. She then went on to become a regular companion in audio adventures, traveling not only with the Eighth Doctor, but later the Sixth.
One of the great things about Doctor Who is its range. Sometimes, the stories are heartfelt, dark, and tragic, sometimes they're Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. The freedom of the audio dramas allow these silly stories to get even sillier, culminating in Bang-Bang-a-Boom, a take on the high camp of the Eurovision Song Contest, an event that's become a British institution.
The Seventh Doctor and his companion Mel Bush reprise their TV roles in this audio adventure, named after British Eurovision winning song "Boom Bang-a-Bang." It's a hilarious space opera depicting conflicting species at the Intergalactic Song Contest. It's a setting that wouldn't be out of place in The Fifth Element or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's great fun, and something that could only be achieved in audio.
3. Live 34
Another benefit to the medium of audio adventures is the freedom to experiment with form. The most experimental of these is Live 34, another Seventh Doctor story told entirely in radio news broadcasts. While there have been some experimentation with the Doctor Who television series, this War of the Worlds-esque production takes things up a notch.
With Time Lord Victorious on the horizon, it's worth revisiting how exactly this crossover event could use its strange array of formats to push the envelope and explore just how far the Doctor Who canon can go. If this is what can happen with an audio drama, imagine what the Time Lord Victorious immersive theatre experience will be like.
The Tenth Doctor companion Donna Noble is a fan favorite due to her comedic chops, smart mouth, and bad luck. All three play a role in Death and the Queen, when she once again has an alien plot come between her and her dream wedding. She gets swept off her feet by the Crown Prince of the mysterious kingdom of Gortania, but unfortunately, he makes a deal with Death himself and The Doctor must prevent her becoming a sacrifice.
The onscreen chemistry between Catherine Tate and David Tennant translates perfectly to audio, and Tennant's enthusiasm for Doctor Who canon seems to never end. His participation in Time Lord Victorious, though not surprising, is sure to be incredibly exciting.
1. Susan's War
With such a massive event upcoming, it's worth looking back, all the way back, to Doctor Who's beginning. Luckily, Big Finish just released Susan's War, an audio boxset including four stories starring Susan Foreman, the very first companion, known as The Doctor's granddaughter. These stories cover Susan's experience in the Time War, and her experiences as she returns to the aid of Gallifrey.
The cast of this is impressive: Carole Ann Ford returns as Susan Foreman, and William Russell (probably best known now as Alfred Enoch's dad) makes an appearance as Ian Chesterton, 57 years after they first appeared onscreen in Doctor Who's pilot. Paul McGann also appears as The Doctor, giving an extra glimpse into what his appearance in Time Lord Victorious may look like.
Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious kicks off in September 2020.