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. 2011 was both a brilliant year and a tragic one. Read on to find tributes, accounts from writers, and of course some more offers on a number of Big Finish releases.
Big Finish's Doctor Who at 15 - Offer 13
Bernice Summerfield kicked off a lot of Big Finish's early adventures, and it's only right we mark her presence at the party. Today as we mark the events of 2011 for Big Finish, we're making that year's Bernice Summerfield boxed set Epoch available for £20 on Download or CD.
And we also wanted people to help us remember some of the much loved actors who've worked with Big Finish and delighted fans across the world. For this offer only, you can get all four adventures of our second Sarah Jane Smith series at £2.99 each on Download or £5 for CD. Nick Courtney's regarded memoirs are £5 on Download, while his superb Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart co-stars opposite David Warner in two Doctor Who Unbound stories: Sympathy for the Devil and Masters of War, each £2.99 on CD or £1 as Download. Caroline John's appearance as Liz Shaw in Doctor Who - The Companion Chronicles: The Last Post is available for £5 on CD or Download, with Doctor Who - The Companion Chronicles: The Stealers from Saiph available at the same price starring Mary Tamm as the wonderful Romana.
We'll see you tomorrow for offer 14! Have a good day.
A Few Words About 2011
"2011 was certainly a busy one… full of audio delights. Amongst some great scripts for the Companion Chronicles that year was Simon Guerrier's wonderful Oliver Harper and Steven Taylor trilogy. Think we got a great double act with Peter Purves and Tom Allen. There was also John Dorney's brilliant Chronicle for William Russell 'The Rocket Men'. How lucky are we to have William to recreate Ian Chesterton? He really is a superb story teller.
2011 also saw us really getting into our stride with the next two box sets of Jago & Litefoot. I don't really need to bang on about how wonderful this series is, how good the writers are, and what a joy it is to work on it…. but I will. A lot. Because it is. Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter… pure theatrical gold.
Stepping away from space, monsters, aliens and Time Travel - I was also lucky enough to direct Geoffrey Beever's excellent play 'Unintelligent Design' - in the Drama Showcase series. I really loved this piece - also worth spotting for the 'guest' voice in the last section!
This year also saw the start of putting Benny in a box. Or to put it politely, the first Bernice Summerfield box set. Epoch. It's always exciting when something new happens in a long running series. There was a great new team for Benny, this time in the shape of the brilliant Ayesha Antoine and David Ames and for this set also Marcus Hutton.
A vintage year I'm sure you'll agree!"
Lisa Bowerman, Big Finish director, Bernice Summerfield actor (and many others!)
"My Big Finish journey actually started in 1999 as, like so many of you, I subscribed to the Doctor Who range from release number one. It took another twelve years for me to 'jump the fence' and go native!
Following a Writers' Opportunity open submission window, mine was one of several scripts selected by Alan Barnes for development and appeared on the Recorded Time anthology, release number 150. My thinking in submitting a Jane Austen pastiche was that I could get straight into the story with minimal world-building, and concentrate on writing juicy dialogue in keeping with the setting. Of course it also gave me an attention-grabbing opening scene where the Doctor considers proposing to his companion!
A Most Excellent Match was the Doctor and Peri's gateway into Austen, but it was also my own to a completely different life. I get to do the thing I always wanted to do, with the support and encouragement of a fantastic company of talent. I simply can't imagine a time when I wasn't writing stories for Doctor Who and all the dark and fantastical worlds beyond it. It's been said many times that Big Finish is a family, and I'm delighted 2011 saw me adopted into it."
Matt Fitton, Big Finish writer and script-editor
"There was some debate in the office about what to cover across 2011, because sometimes bad things happen as well as good things. Do you ignore them? We didn't feel you should, especially when a loss is felt so keenly. It's often said that Doctor Who fandom is a big family, in which case it wasn't just Big Finish who lost some of those wonderful uncles and aunts who always made the party special. In such a short period from 2011 fandom reeled at losing some real greats. Over the years Lis Sladen, Nick Courtney, Caroline John and Mary Tamm had all visited the Big Finish soundbooths, donned the headphones, and brought their Doctor Who characters back to life, giving their all, as some remembrances from James and John below show. Now, as then, we want to thank them for their generosity of spirit and time. Lis, Nick, Caroline and Mary, may you never be forgotten.
Sometimes those family losses strike home even closer. On the evening of May 8th 2014 - exactly three months ago today - producer David Richardson had to phone me to say that my Big Finish work colleague (and star Podcaster and tireless correspondent of the Enquiries email and BF forum), and friend of fifteen years, Paul Spragg had died suddenly that afternoon. It's not something you take in right away. I spent that sleepless night feeling so utterly alone with my loss, as we all did. But then, bit by bit, day by day, you'd see a post here, you'd hear a word there, and slowly discover that you share that loss, as much as you shared that friendship and fun. You connect with strangers, you reconnect with lost friends, because you all have something in common. You were a friend of Spraggy. Here's to you, Paul. May you never be fo'gotten."
Ian Atkins, Producer's Assistant, Big Finish (the British Heart Foundation donation page set up for Paul Spragg is here)
"When I was offered the opportunity to produce the Doctor Who Unbound series, I immediately wanted to have a story with the Brigadier in it. The 'What if?' concept of how would the Earth - and the Brigadier - have coped without the Doctor to help them repel all those alien invasions was a fascinating one that I was eager to explore. Author Jonathan Clements took this brief and and did something extraordinary with it. Nick Courtney was delighted to play the Brigadier again, particularly as it would allow him to add yet another Doctor, in the guise of David Warner, to his list. To be honest though, I don't think Nick ever quite 'got' the Unbound concept, and was never entirely sure why the Brigadier was running a pub in Hong Kong, despite my efforts to explain it to him. Nevertheless, he clearly enjoyed performing the script in the studio. However, he did express to me his concern about one particular line in the script. Whilst sitting in his pub chatting to the Doctor, the Brigadier shouts over to his barman, 'Table five! Five rounds rapid!' For Nick, I think this was just a little too knowing. Despite his reservations though, like the true pro that he was, he did perform the line and it was recorded. But when it came to editing the production I asked for the line to be edited out in respect of Nick's wishes."
John Ainsworth, Big Finish Producer and Director
"As they're part of our childhood we assume that Doctor Who actors are as immortal as orange squash or the seaside. I had no idea that Caroline John had been ill. I had no idea that I'd written the most morbid, least tactful Companion Chronicle ever. Such is the consummate tact of David Richardson that he was able to request fairly drastic rewrites without me being any the wiser as to the awful reason why.
You wouldn't have thought it from meeting Caroline John that day either. She'd brought in homemade jam, she was delightful company, and it was a blissful day. And then, at some point in the afternoon, due to a laughingly self-deprecating remark, I suddenly realised how gravely ill she'd been. Suddenly the whole idea of a light, sunny gossipy chat between Liz and her mum about an insane computer obsessed with death was just awful. And yet, Caroline and Rowena Cooper had an immediate rapport and the whole thing was delightful, and you could, just for a moment, forget that this was the very last time that Liz Shaw would get to put the Doctor firmly in his place."
James Goss, writer of Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles - The Last Post
The Big Finish podcasters are joined by Vortex editor Kenny Smith for more forum fun...