Big Finish has revealed the line-up for its monthly full cast audio plays for 2014, with stories for three Doctors, a number of popular companions… and some returning favourite foes.
The year begins with a trilogy for the Sixth Doctor and his young assistant Flip Jackson (Lisa Greenwood), as they encounter Sil (Nabil Shaban) in Antidote to Oblivion (January), the Drachee in The Brood of Erys (February) and an orbiting threat to the Earth in Scavenger (March).
Peter Davison returns as the Fifth Doctor in April, accompanied by the trusty Nyssa of Traken (Sarah Sutton) for a trilogy of stories that will take them from Earth in the past to outer space.
It begins with Moonflesh, in which the TARDIS lands in 1911, in the private, tiger-infested estate of a globe-trotting big game hunter, who's brought together a small group of individuals for a weekend's shooting party. But one of them is not all they seem... The striking cover can be seen to the left.
May’s release is Tomb Ship by Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby, who previously gave us The Doomsday Quatrain. Here, the Doctor and Nyssa find themselves trapped inside a floating space pyramid, along with a family of ruthless treasure-seekers and a horde of man-eating insectoids...
Finally comes Masquerade in June by the prolific Stephen Cole – in which the TARDIS travellers become engaged in very dangerous liaisons at the country chateau of the famous Marquise de Rimdelle, where dead men whisper through the cellar walls and a steam-powered man runs amok in the gardens.
The Sixth Doctor returns in July, this time accompanied by Nicola Bryant as Peri, for an anthology release of four one-episode stories.
“The theme for this anthology is stories about perception,” says the release’s script editor Jonathan Morris, “using unusual perspectives and fractured narratives, and features three writers new to Doctor Who on audio.”
Highly-regarded playwright Mark Ravenhill has contributed Of Chaos Time The, a story in which the Doctor becomes unstuck in his own time stream and has to piece together the sequence of events as they occur in a discontinuous jumble. Una McCormack (who has written several Blake’s 7 adventures for Big Finish and a bestselling Star Treknovel) has written a Dorothy L Sayers-styled murder-mystery set in a women’s college in the 1930s called An Eye For Murder. From LM Myles we have Breaking Bubbles, a science fiction story about a deposed empress held captive in a prison where nothing is quite what it seems, and finally Nev Fountain returns with The Curious Incident of the Doctor in the Night-Time, a very touching story told from the point of view of a teenage boy on the autistic spectrum, involving homicidal garden gnomes.
The Seventh Doctor returns in August, along with companions Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Thomas Hector Schofield (Philip Olivier) – who has undertaken a major journey through recent adventures…
The mini-series kicks off with Revenge of the Swarm, in which the Time Lord once again takes on an enemy that he thought he had vanquished in his fourth incarnation.
“The Invisible Enemy is one of the first Doctor Who stories I ever watched,” says writer Jonathan Morris, “and so when I had the chance to choose a new ‘returning foe’, the sinister Nucleus of the Swarm was top of my list. It has an unusual modus operandi and a memorable voice, and would work well on audio without the distraction of the (not entirely successful) visual. Revenge of the Swarm is both a prequel and a sequel to The Invisible Enemy (though you don’t need to have seen it) and is a traditional, fun outer-space adventure.”
There are two titles for September; the first is Mask of Tragedy by James Goss, which is set in ancient Athens, and concerns the Doctor dropping in on his old friend Aristophanes who is trying to rehearse a play in the face of interruptions from zombie hordes, an alien locust and the imminent threat of a Spartan invasion. It’s a very witty and colourful pseudo-historical tale, somewhere between The Myth Makers and The Unicorn and the Wasp.
In Signs & Wonders by Matt Fitton, the Doctor, Ace and Hector return to Liverpool in the near future, where a messianic figure called Rufus Stone is gathering people together in anticipation of the apocalypse. There are angels in the skies and giant alien slugs in the Mersey. It’s a very dark, modern story, a season finale in the Buffy/Supernatural mould, and marks the end of a chapter in the story of Doctor Who.
2014 will conclude with a trilogy of stories for the Sixth Doctor and Peri, and promises the return of two old foes – one of which is making their debut at Big Finish…
It's ten years since Nick Briggs became co-executive producer of Big Finish Productions. His friends and colleagues celebrate this fact in a not entirely serious tribute.