Rediscovering Doctor Who through Big Finish
How Big Finish revived my love for the Who Universe
When I think back on the Doctor Who franchise, I’ve not been the most consistent fan - I’ve fallen in and out of love with the series since Russell T. Davis revived the series way back in 2005.
I used to feel bad about that, but the style it was when I was eleven is drastically different to how the show is now - which can also be said of how I’ve changed and grown as a fan. Each change of showrunner and regeneration of the Doctor brought with it a new interpretation of the time-travelling adventurer.
However, I was never really interested in the Doctor. Shocker, but it’s true. As a viewer, I was always interested in the human characters - the companions or enemies, the ones who deal with the aftermath of being left, abandoned or chose to leave the Doctor. What happened to them?
Most of the characters I became emotionally invested in would end up dead or their arc sometimes felt incomplete. This continued to happen until eventually, I stopped watching the show entirely. The truth of the matter was, I had fallen out of love with the original show. While the show continued to grow and shift, I found myself becoming less invested - some Doctors and companions spoke to me more than others, but I always found myself drawn to the spin-offs more - Torchwood and even Class were short lived, but I liked the two different and darker takes on the franchise.
Which is where I was introduced to Big Finish three years ago. After hearing nothing but rave reviews from a friend who was a regular listener, I decided to give it a go. Big Finish is an audio production company that specialise in Doctor Who related productions as well as original dramas or adaptations, often bringing back original Who actors and picking up where their storylines left off or expanding upon their narratives.
I remember my first three orders. The Class Audio Adventures Volumes 1 & 2, - it was around the time that show was cancelled and I was curious how these characters would translate on audio - Tenth Doctor Adventures: Volume One, Lady Christina: Series One and Jenny: The Doctor’s Daughter - Series One.
Thanks to the Big Finish App, I was able to delve into David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s revival of their iconic duo and I was instantly hooked. Upon reflection, this was probably the best audio for me to get back into the Who universe. It was familiar, but the writing and acting was so fresh and yet still faithful to the characters.
Big Finish has also allowed me as a listener to dive into characters that now star in their own series. From River Song meeting the many incarnations of her husband while travelling through space and time, to Lady Christina’s heists, to exploring what happened after Jenny escaped on that spaceship. These were stories I was burning to see play out on screen, but to get them on audio was a much better experience than expected - there's no limitation in your head... although, the budget would be astronomical if a company tried to translate my imagination on screen.
As well as the nostalgia of familiar characters, I have found a new love and appreciation for the spin-off stories and classic era. Fully embracing its dark origins, I’ve developed a particular fondness for Yvonne Hartman’s and the Queen Victoria Torchwood dramas. I’ve also been able to revisit Patrick Ness’ modern take on Coal Hill and Doctor Martha Jones, but the this company was a great introduction to classic companions Susan and Ace and even the wickedly mischievous Missy antagonist. It’s especially a great aspect to have the original actors reprising their roles, bringing a familiar portrayal of these beloved characters.
I’ve really been able to expand upon my Who tastes, from new to classic - Big Finish has managed to reignite my enthusiasm for the series while continuing stories of characters that deserve more screen time.
There are so many stories that Big Finish have written and produced, but I am actively looking forward to what comes next.