Fifteen years ago, we released Doctor Who: The Sirens of Time, starting a tradition of audio storytelling for the worlds of Doctor Who and beyond. To celebrate the events of 2005, we've got interesting insights from a writer of the beginning of a Big Finish Doctor Who spin-off, a writer works with Avon and the Doctor, and some more special offers for our listeners...
Big Finish's Doctor Who at 15 - Offer 7
For the seventh day of our celebration of 15 years of Big Finish Doctor Who releases, it's the turn of the UNIT range to get some special offers. Listen to how it all started with UNIT: The Coup for free on Download. And for today only you can buy volumes 1 - Time Heals, 2 - Snake Head, 3 - The Longest Night and 4 - The Wasting of UNIT series 1 each for £1 on Download and £2.99 on CD, while fan favourite boxed set UNIT: Dominion is available for £15 on Download or £20 for the four-volume CD set.
As Simon and Mark both mention below, a certain David Tennant has appeared in a number of Big Finish titles. One of the less known was 2005's Luther Arkwright - a parallel universe adventure featuring David alongside Siri Neal, Paul Darrow and India Fisher - which today can be bought on CD for £5.
These special offers last 48 hours... But we'll say "hello" at the same time tomorrow for offer eight, and remember that offer six has but 24 hours left...
A Few Words About 2004:
"August 2004, a hot summer's morning in the Moat Studios – in those days based in Stockwell, south London. I'm struggling to be cool at the recording of my first ever audio play. But it's a little exciting.
My play is called The Coup, a pilot episode for Big Finish's thrilling, contemporary series about the Doctor's friends in UNIT, to be released in 2005. Producer Ian Farrington is keen on something like the US series 24, all chases and explosions and diabolical twists. Keen to push things, I suggest that UNIT goes public about alien invasions...
The Coup will be given away free with Doctor Who Magazine in December to help pull in the punters. We've got a secret weapon, too. In the Moat Studios green room he asks why I've given his character a knighthood. “It was about time,” I said – and Nicholas Courtney likes that.
We talk about what we might do next with the Brigadier if the UNIT series is successful – perhaps Lethbridge-Stewart could be in the House of Lords. Then my friend Scott Andrews (playing a newsreader in The Coup) asks Nick the question I've been slowly leading up to. “Are you going to be in Doctor Who?”
The television series – starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper – has been filming for less than a month, and nobody knows much about it. But there's a rumour that UNIT are involved. Nick, modestly, says he's not been asked but he's looking forward to seeing it.
We talk with producer Ian Farrington about what the rest of the UNIT series will involve. A character from a previous play, UNIT's Colonel Brimmicombe-Wood, will have a major role. Nick is pleased about that, and tells us that young actor who plays the colonel, David Tennant, is probably going places.
In March 2005, I'm in the Moat again to record a Bernice Summerfield play, The Lost Museum. There's lots of discussion in the green room about Rose, the first episode of new Doctor Who which was broadcast that Saturday. Someone – Gary Russell, I think – asks if anyone else noticed the clips shown in Doctor Who Confidential. Was that the Doctor running with soldiers from UNIT?
(We mostly talk about how brilliant Eccleston is as the Doctor. Then, when the recording is finished we turn on our phones and learn the news he is leaving. Bah.)
In April, Aliens of London is broadcast and yes! There's UNIT! Joining the Ninth Doctor at Downing Street for a meeting with the Prime Minister... Not our characters, of course, but surely if UNIT are involved in the show it will be good for our spin-off series. We might get to do more. I'll get the Brig into the House of Lords...
Only it turns out the invitation to Downing Street is a trap and all the UNIT lot are killed.
I meet Ian Farrington in the pub later that night. We raise a glass to the dead UNIT people. I suggest that maybe we could still do a second series of UNIT. Maybe, says Ian, but word is already going round and he thinks David Tennant might be busy..."
Simon Guerrier, Big Finish Writer
"The Adventures of Luther Arkwright was recorded in Summer 2004, as the world was on the verge of great change. In Cardiff, something called Doctor Who was filming its first series since 1989. The landscape of television was about to be changed. As we spent three days at the Moat recording an audio adaptation of Brian Talbot’s feted comic series, one actor in that studio had no idea how much the return of Doctor Who was going transform his life.
There was only ever one man for the job of playing Luther Arkwright, and I think Jason Haigh-Ellery and myself came to that realisation at the same time. David Tennant had been a regular on the Big Finish books for a while, and he seemed perfect casting for the dimension-hopping hero. There must be something about David that makes him a good fit for these kind of roles – the fact that Luther had a sidekick called Rose was one of those serendipitous happenstances.
And it worked. I’m not quite sure how; even when the script was finished, I was nervous as to whether this strange world that Talbot had created for the comic was going to lift off the page in the studio. Thankfully it did, largely down to a brilliant cast and director.
One thing that will always stick in my mind from the studio days is the reaction from myself and David at our other guest star for the story. Standing there with goggle eyed fanboy enthusiasm as a childhood hero walked in the door. “It’s Paul Darrow!” we both exclaimed as one of the stars of Blake’s 7 sauntered in.
Ten years on, David is now a childhood hero to millions and it’s been a delight to see his career soar into the stratosphere. It’s also been a pleasure to reacquaint myself with Paul Darrow through the Blake’s 7 range, which always brings back happy memories of recording The Adventures of Luther Arkwright.
Who knows, one day, the empire may have need of Luther’s services once more…"
Mark Wright, Award-Winning Big Finish Writer
The Big Finish podcasters are joined by Vortex editor Kenny Smith for more forum fun...