Monday, 21 April 2014

Big Finish: The Audio Scripts

I've only recently been getting into the world of Big Finish, the audio adventures of Doctor Who, together with spin-offs Jago and Litefoot (from the story The Talons of Weng Chiang), Companion Chronicles, and other audio adventures like Blake's Seven. Partly, I've been floundering because I didn't know where to start, though the Eighth Doctor seemed like a good bet, since the film and the audio adventures are all we have of him. So one of the first CDs I bought was Chimes of Midnight, where he's paired with Charley Pollard, who was supposed to have died in the R101 disaster in 1930.
Chimes of Midnight just happens to be one of the scripts published in the three volumes I found by chance in one of the other bookshops in Hay-on-Wye, and each script comes with a couple of essays about the story, and changes that were made to the scripts during production.

This was fascinating stuff! Each volume contains a script from each of the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors, and I found that I could hear the voices of the characters as I read the scripts really quite easily, which is a mark of the quality of the writing.

We start with Loups-Garoux by Marc Platt, a werewolf story with the Fifth Doctor and Turlough, but it was the second story, The Holy Terror by Robert Shearman, starring the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher the talking penguin (of all people!) that really chilled my blood.
Then the Seventh Doctor and Mel (who actually comes over as being quite sensible and not screamy at all) go to Pompeii in The Fires of Vulcan by Steve Lyons, and the Eighth Doctor and Charley get involved in Gallifreyan problems with Anti-Time in Neverland, with President Romana - and oh, joy! Rassilon is played by Don Warrington, who has just the right sonorous tones for the First of the Time Lords. This one ends on such a cliffhanger that I will have to get the CD of Zagreus, which follows this story, to find out what happens next. It appears I may be in for a treat, as this is the 40th Anniversary multi-Doctor story, though some reviews say that it is very confusing. We shall see....

Volume Two starts with The Eye of the Scorpion by Iain McLaughlin, starring the Fifth Doctor and Peri in Ancient Egypt, followed by The One Doctor by Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman, which stars the Sixth Doctor and Mel - and Christopher Biggins as a con artist who is pretending to be the Doctor.
Dust Breeding by Mike Tucker has the Seventh Doctor and Ace, the painting The Scream by Edvard Munch, and the Master, and Seasons of Fear by Paul Cornell and Caroline Symcox has the Eighth Doctor and Charley hopping about through time from a Roman camp to the Court of Edward the Confessor to the headquarters of the Hellfire Club, via Singapore in 1930.

Volume Three starts with one of the best (and scariest) Fifth Doctor stories I think I've ever come across in any format - Spare Parts by Marc Platt. It's the origin story for the Cybermen, and also stars Sally Knyvette (Jenna from Blake's Seven) as the doctor developing the Cybermen. Nyssa is the companion in this one.
The Spectre of Lanyon Moor by Nicholas Pegg is a Tom Baker style romp complete with mysterious archaeological dig and UNIT (the Brig is retired, but still manages to save the Earth!) but with Colin Baker and his audio companion Dr Evelyn Smythe taking the part that was first intended for Sarah Jane, had Tom Baker agreed to take part. The Rapture, by Joseph Lidster is a Seventh Doctor and Ace story, set around a club in Ibiza, and the final story in the volume is The Chimes of Midnight by Robert Shearman.

I enjoyed all of them, and now I'll have a better idea of where to jump in to try more when I visit the Big Finish website again....

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