Chase Masterson's glamorous bounty hunter returns to action next month – discover her adventures so far!
For as long as Big Finish have been making audios, we've always been interested in a good spin-off. Our first ever range continued the adventures of the Doctor's New Adventures companion Bernice Summerfield, and over the years we've added to our universe, with Dalek Empire, Jago & Litefoot, Counter-Measures, Gallifrey, Charlotte Pollard and more. But while some of these ranges have been long in the making, Vienna holds the record for the quickest commission of all...
'It's quite unusual for us to get the edits in for a story and then suddenly decide that there was the potential for a spin-off character,' says Big Finish line producer David Richardson. 'We do spin-offs at Big Finish, but rarely that quickly!'
Vienna follows the adventures of Vienna Salvatori, the galaxy's deadliest – and most glamorous – bounty-hunter. Originally appearing in Doctor Who: The Shadow Heart, Vienna faced off against the Doctor in a war against the murderous Wrath. But despite her villainous persona, the character proved to be a hit with Big Finish's producers – and her very own series was soon being written!
Vienna is portrayed by Chase Masterson, well known in the cult TV world for her role as Leeta on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as her appearances in Sliders, The Flash, Robotech and E.R. After appearing opposite Tom Baker in Doctor Who: Night of the Stormcrow, she was cast as the Shadow Heart's Bounty-Hunter – and immediately found herself invited back to reprise the character.
'Vienna is one of my favourite characters ever,' says Chase, 'the endearingly incorrigible killer we love to hate... completely unapologetic, even charming about her day job as a mercenary assassin. Plus, she usually managed to land of the side of justice. Vienna's quite a turn-on...'
The series began with a single story pilot; Vienna: The Memory Box, written by Vienna's creator Jonathan Morris. The opening story set the groundwork for much of what was to come – with villainous corporations, disgusting criminals, warring races and secrets locked away in forgotten memories – memories that would prove important to the ongoing story.
'It's a very colourful universe,' says Jonathan, 'it's not particularly dark or grim. It's a wild thing with lots of aliens, spaceships, robots and visiting strange alien planets – all the things I love about science-fiction, but with a slightly more psychological story running through it'.
As she murdered he way across the galaxy, Vienna also encountered the charismatic Bax Spendlove – played by Frazer Hines, who had originally recommend Big Finish to Chase!
'I was horse riding with Chase and told her I was doing an audio recording,' recalled Frazer jokingly, 'and remarked, “Chase... you have a good face, ideal for audio.” She nodded in agreement, then realised what I had said… I galloped off double quick!'
'Frazer said “oh gosh, we're having such fun with Big Finish and it's very popular – why don't we put you in touch with the producers and have you do some?”. I said that would be fabulous! I love the medium of audio plays. I think it's fabulous that an actor can do this – it's acting, it's not just getting up in front of a camera and looking pretty... it's real chops!'
Chase returned to the role for Vienna: Series 2 – but this time with a career change. Another memory-based catastrophe led Vienna to be stranded in a far-future version of New York City – and working as a cop.
Now on the straight-and-narrow, the former bounty-hunter found herself partnered up with Lieutenant Jexie Reagan (Samantha Béart) – and together, they hunted down the criminals that Vienna would have once called friends.
'Lieutenant Reagan is a law-enforcer haunted by the ghosts of her past,' said in-coming producer Cavan Scott when the set was announced, 'Together, Vienna and Jexie make a formidable duo!'
It seemed that Reagan's luck was as good as her partner's – as mere days into recording Series 2, Samantha found herself invited to return for Vienna: Series 3. Due for release in February 2016, the new box-set will see Vienna and Reagan leave the big city behind for more adventures in deep space – where a new discovery can make dreams a reality!
Even with a third series on the way, there are still corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things for Vienna to hunt down and kill. In fact, she even managed to help save the multiverse, teaming up with Bernice Summerfield and an assortment of heroes in The Worlds of Big Finish, our special cross-over release. It's safe to say we haven't seen the last of the galaxy's most glamorous bounty-hunter...
The complete Vienna range is available to order today from the Big Finish website. Her debut adventure in Doctor Who: The Shadow Heart can be enjoyed for just £14.99 on CD or £12.99 to download, with Vienna: The Memory Box available for £9.99 on CD or £7.99 to download.
Vienna: Series 1 and Series 2 are both available to order for just £25 each on CD, or £20 each to download. A bundle of all four of these releases so far can also be enjoyed for a money-saving £65 on CD or £55 to download. You can also pick up The Worlds of Big Finish for £25 on CD or £20 to download – which also features the heroes of Graceless, Sherlock Holmes, The Confessions of Dorian Gray, Iris Wildthyme and Bernice Summerfield.
Vienna: Series 3 will be released in February and is available to pre-order at a special price of £20 on CD or £15 to download, with free UK postage. And remember, when you choose to buy this release on CD directly from Big Finish, you will also unlock instant access to a digital copy for download.
Nick and Benji present the first of our three special, holiday podcasts. Guest star: Rufus Hound (The Meddling Monk) Part 2. A special Callan interview with Frank Skinner and Ben Miles. Drama tease: The Chimes of Midnight (starring Paul McGann).