Custom Big Finish Daleks – Part 4

Welcome to my showcase of custom Daleks created in homage to various Doctor Who audios created by Big Finish. How each individual listener interprets the appearance of a particular Dalek will change depending on the individual. Even the front covers of the audios that depict particular types of Daleks, as excellent as they are, can only be a guide to how one interprets an audio. As such, there is a lot of creative freedom when creating custom Daleks inspired by audios, as it is a chance to make your own interpretations of the audio Daleks real and tangible.

Many of these Dalek customs are at odds with other depictions of the same Daleks – but creating things from your own imagination is always better than copying something else. All of these Dalek figures are totally unique, and each one has been lovingly crafted over the course of several months. Although it may not look like much, painting a Dalek figure requires precision and dedication – after all, each individual hemisphere has to be painted carefully and consistently to ensure that the entire surface is covered with paint but not a single drop goes onto the rest of the figure.

Custom Blue Dalek Supreme

Big Finish Audio – Daleks Among Us

Though it might be the lighting, I have always interpreted the Dalek on the front cover of Daleks Among Us as being deep blue, and though I imagined it was simply supposed to be a black Dalek from The Daleks’ Master Plan, I wanted to create something different and eye-catching, and so this blue Dalek Supreme was born. The figure itself is – surprise, surprise – an Emperor’s Guard figure from the Dalek Collectors Set #2, the go-to base for making late-1960s-era inspired Daleks. I painted the figure using blue Citadel paint and then painted over the hemispheres with silver Citadel paint. Interestingly, I have noticed some confusion over exactly what Dalek the cover of Daleks Among Us is trying to depict, as the silver hemispheres coupled with the ‘black’ base coat implies that it is a Remembrance of the Daleks-era Supreme Dalek, which makes sense given that its a Seventh Doctor audio, and yet its eyestalk – arguably the most prominent part of this Dalek on the cover – is that of a 1960s-era Dalek.

Custom Damaged Dalek Drone

Big Finish Audio – Plague of the Daleks

Depicted on the front cover of Plague of the Daleks is a pair of badly damaged Dalek drones, who have been hiding underground for decades and as such have accumulated a lot of scoring and corrosion. This figure was a Gold Dalek Supreme from Day of the Daleks, although I have covered up much of the gold with bronze Citadel paint or black Citadel washes, although some of the gold is still visible to add to the rusted effect. These Daleks have been isolated for a long time, and during that period it would make sense that they would attempt some rudimentary repairs to their casing, hence my use of fake eyestalks and appendages with this figure – the eyestalk was made using the broken pieces of an old lighter, and the plunger and gunstick were created using plastic pieces, some of which were recycled from an old disposable biro pen.

Custom Red Dalek Drone / Supreme

Big Finish Audio – The Dalek Wars Series

This Dalek was inspired by the ‘Dalek Wars’ series of audios that Big Finish created as one of their early Doctor Who spinoffs. I haven’t listened to all of Dalek War yet, but I have listened to enough of it to know significant spoilers, which I will not reveal here, but needless to say that over the course of the Dalek Wars series we see (or rather, hear) a fair amount of Dalek variants. This is excellent for me, as it means I get to create more customs showcasing my interpretations of these Daleks, and this one in particular is supposed to represent one of the Drones and / or the Supremes of the ‘alternate Daleks’, which appear at the end of the first series of the Dalek Wars. I used red Citadel paint for the skirt, slats and dome, black Citadel paint for the base, hemispheres and middle band, and grey Citadel paint for the midsection. The neck rings I left gold, as this Dalek was originally a Day of the Daleks Supreme.

Custom Blue Dalek Drone / Supreme

Big Finish Audio – The Dalek Wars Series

Another potential representation of a Drone or Supreme Dalek from the Dalek Wars Series, this blue Dalek uses a design based off a blue Dalek from the ‘War of the Daleks’ role-playing game, which is now somewhat obscure. The design for this Dalek was apparently based off the early ideas for the TV sequel to Remembrance of the Daleks that was created when Doctor Who was still on the air, and allegedly two new Dalek factions would join the Dalek Civil War, including a faction of blue Daleks led by a Dalek with this design, or one a lot like it. I painted this Dalek using blue Citadel paint for the dome, midsection and skirt, black Citadel paint for the slats, middle band, hemispheres and base, and grey Citadel paint for the neck rings and gunstick.

Dalek Time Controller

Big Finish Audio – Patient Zero / The Monster of Montmartre

Big Finish’s Dalek Time Controller has become almost as ubiquitous as the Dalek Emperor himself thanks to several appearances in both the Monthly Adventures and the Eighth Doctor Box Sets, and no bad thing – the unique design of this Dalek coupled with the incredible performance given by Nicholas Briggs makes this particular class of Dalek Supreme a great addition to any story. As such, it seemed only fitting to create a custom based on this design, and I went for a specific point in the Dalek Time Controller’s timeline – after Patient Zero and before, or during, the events of The Monster of Montmartre. The Dalek Time Controller was severely damaged and sent hurtling through time by the Sixth Doctor, and would later encounter the Eighth Doctor in 1920s France.

I created this custom using a regular Dalek with a third ear light added to the back of the dome, the front panel modified to include two extra neck rings, and two larger neck rings forming a criss-cross above the gunboxes in the classic Time Controller design. I used blue Citadel paint for the skirt, midsection and dome, gold Citadel paint for the neck rings, slats and some of the hemispheres, and black Citadel paint for the base and hemispheres. The front section also opens up, revealing the hideous Dalek mutant inside complete with its ‘Dark Eye’!

Big Finish Announces the End of the Monthly Adventures

Fans of the Doctor Who audio production company Big Finish were faced with some bittersweet news yesterday as it was announced on social media that the Monthly Adventures series would conclude with its two-hundred and seventy-fifth instalment in early 2021, marking the end of the mainline series of high-quality audio productions created in the style of Classic series episodes that have delighted Doctor Who fans for the last 20 years.

The Monthly Adventures, also alternatively called the Main Range or Monthly Range, started in 1999 with The Sirens of Time, a multi-Doctor story starring Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, and has continued with one release each month, with each release consisting of four 25-minute episodes that are identical in format to Classic Doctor Who episodes, even down to the cliffhanger and theme music at the end of each part. The setting of each audio story in the Monthly Adventures varies dramatically, much like in the televised series, although the audios take the opportunity to experiment with greater deviations from the standard format of the show such as the reintroduction of ‘pure historicals’, stories that do not feature any aliens or non-humans and focus more on the time-travel element of Doctor Who.

Initially a niche ‘expanded universe’ audio series, the Monthly Adventures (and Big Finish itself) began to gain more popularity with the return of Doctor Who to TV in 2005 and the audios have been elevated to a unique position of ‘B canon’ for many fans due to their genuine nature and care taken for the show’s lore and continuity. Fan-favourite releases from the Monthly Adventures series include Jubilee, Davros, Master, The Chimes of Midnight, The Kingmaker, Spare Parts, The Silver Turk, The Holy Terror and many, many more, with some audios featuring returning villains like the Daleks, Cybermen, Davros but others featuring completely unique villains.

Starring the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors with occasional appearances from the Eighth Doctor, the Monthly Adventures has continued to grow Big Finish’s popularity as a company, though newer fans had begun to voice their concern over the lack of a distinctive jumping-on point, particularly as the vast range had begun to incorporate story arcs that not only spanned multiple releases but also multiple Doctors.

Big Finish has also announced changes to the subscription system to account for the range ending mid-month, for full details you can read Big Finish’s post on their official website.

What’s Next for Big Finish?

Fans of Big Finish need not despair, as the announcement of the end of the Monthly Adventures was tempered by a concurrent announcement that the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors will be receiving their own independent ranges, presumably similar to the fan-favourite Eighth Doctor box set series like Dark Eyes, Doom Coalition and Ravenous. Essentially, it means releases are being rescheduled to four episodes every few months instead of one episode every month, though this is currently speculative. This announcement also extended to every Doctor from William Hartnell up to and including Matt Smith, even the late John Hurt, a considerable reshuffle of releases for Big Finish.

Nicholas Briggs, creative director and executive producer for Big Finish is quoted on the Big Finish website: “As well as making our ranges much less confusing for Big Finish beginners, these changes will allow us more exciting new possibilities and creative freedom. 
By freeing the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors from the constrictions of the Monthly Adventures schedule, and giving them their own distinct ranges, we will be able to introduce more surprising cast combinations, different story lengths, and more story arcs.” 

The Monthly Adventures Finale

Another silver lining to this apparent grey cloud is the idea that the Monthly Adventures will finish with release number 275, currently listed as ‘TBA’ on the Big Finish website. In theory, this release could serve as a ‘finale’ to the Monthly Adventures series – perhaps it will feature long-running enemies of the series like the Daleks or Cybermen, or Big Finish original villains like the Viyrans or the Eleven. With such a huge range to draw ideas from, there are hundreds of potential story ideas, so it will be interesting to see what direction Big Finish takes the de-facto ‘finale’ of the Monthly Adventures.

Fans speculating on social media appear in favour of the idea of a multi-Doctor story, which would be fitting considering the very first Monthly Adventures audio was a multi-Doctor story with the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors that release number 275 could revisit. Perhaps the Eighth Doctor will make a triumphant return to the Monthly Adventures, or we will be treated to the first appearance of the Fourth or Tenth Doctors – although they are likely more occupied with their recently announced multi-Doctor special, ‘Out of Time 1’, which gives fans some high hopes for the future of the Doctor Who audios. With Big Finish, the possibilities are almost endless. As a wise Ood once said, “This song is ending, but the story never ends.”

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Custom Big Finish Dalek Figures – Part 3

Welcome to my showcase of custom Daleks created in homage to various Doctor Who audios created by Big Finish. The most fun thing about creating Big Finish Dalek customs is listening to the audios and thinking about how Daleks that appear might look different – for example, Big Finish audios gives us a lot of scenes set on the bridges of Dalek ships, something we rarely see in the TV series, so when a Dalek with a particular-sounding voice speaks often, we get the impression that it is a sub-commander or other specialist, which opens the door for the idea of Daleks of different designs appearing, and what said designs might look like.

For this, I tend to let my imagination create the concepts – I may take inspiration from pre-existing Dalek designs from other eras, or be aided by the brilliantly-designed covers of the Big Finish audios which sometimes feature completely new Dalek designs that make excellent ideas for customs.

Custom Classic Dalek Scientist

Big Finish Audio: Return of the Daleks

Although they resemble regular Daleks during their first appearance in the TV story Planet of the Daleks, the outpost that the Daleks man is run by scientists, which have been depicted as having their own unique colour schemes in later Dalek media. Examples of this include the cover of A Thing of Guile and the Orange Dalek Scientist of the New Dalek Paradigm. As such, I decided to take inspiration from the more tasteful of those two options and create a Planet of the Daleks-era scientist Dalek in the style of A Thing of Guile. This could therefore be a Dalek that appears in Return of the Daleks during the search for the frozen army on Spiridon.

Custom ‘The Overseer’ Dalek

Big Finish Audio – Planet of the Ogrons, from The Eighth Doctor: The Time War 2

The fascinating design for the Dalek Overseer on the front cover of Planet of the Ogrons inspired me to make this custom that, whilst not depicting that Dalek 100% accurately, does a decent job of paying homage to the design. My favourite aspect of this design, and therefore this custom, is the red eyestalk – it is an excellent touch, and Daleks with different coloured eyestalks should be explored more in the New Series as a means of denoting rank or status. I created this custom using a Dalek Sec figure, which was almost completely unchanged except for the eyestalk which was painted red with Citadel paint, and the plunger which was replaced with a mass of various wires held together with hot glue.

Custom Dalek Wars Special Weapons Dalek

Big Finish Audio – Emissary of the Daleks

Although the design on this Special Weapons Dalek looks more like the colour scheme from Death to the Daleks, I intended it to fit in with the Dalek Wars aesthetic, and so it makes the perfect representation of the Special Weapons Dalek from Emissary of the Daleks, which going by the look of the Supreme Dalek on the cover is set during the time of one of the Dalek Wars. To create this custom I spray painted a Special Weapons Dalek silver and painted the detailing with black Citadel paint. This Special Weapons Dalek was covered in rough scuff-marks which have come up quite nicely under the silver paint and gives the appearance of a weathered, battle-damaged look.

Custom ‘Transaction’ Dalek

Big Finish Audio – The Dalek Transaction, from UNIT: Encounters

Although this looks like a custom that should appear in my Asylum Project blog posts, this Dalek is actually an accurate recreation of the Dalek seen on the cover of the UNIT: The New Series audio The Dalek Transaction, I’ll have you know. I created this Dalek using a combination of a hacksaw, wire cutters and metallic Citadel paint in order to accurately depict the damage to the Dalek seen on the cover of this story including a missing eyestalk, missing appendages, missing hemispheres and various cuts and holes in the casing. I used bronze, silver and black Citadel paints for both dry-brushing and various washes to finalise the battered, weathered effect of this custom.

Custom Pre-Time War Dalek

Big Finish Audio: Blood of the Daleks, from The Eighth Doctor Adventures Series 1

This Dalek is a somewhat loose recreation of the Daleks created on Red Rocket Rising during the events of Blood of the Daleks, the first two-part story of the first series of The Eighth Doctor Adventures starring Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith. Although playing somewhat loose with the canon, as this Dalek should resemble the Classic Series Daleks, I used a New Series Dalek to add an ironic twist – what if the Daleks themselves later adapted to use the casing design of the Daleks created on Red Rocket Rising? After all, we are never given a physical description of the Human-Daleks in that story, and it would explain why the Time War Daleks use a bulkier casing that appears to be held together with rivets. Still, that’s my tinfoil-hat theory expressed in custom Dalek figure form.

Custom Big Finish Dalek Figures – Part 2

Welcome to my showcase of custom Daleks created in homage to various Doctor Who audios created by Big Finish. The release of the B&M Big Finish Doctor and Dalek two-packs have set the precedent that the depiction of a Big Finish Dalek does not necessarily have to be in-keeping with pre-established lore, or indeed go on any indication of what the Dalek might look like, or lack thereof. We know that the previously nondescript Dalek Interrogator Prime is blue and silver thanks to these figures, and we also know that the Dalek Scientist is silver, not blue as depicted on the cover of the audio in which it appears. As such, it appears that the floodgates are open and anything goes as far as Big Finish Dalek custom designs are concerned.

Although I have taken some creative licence with these customs, I have tried to remain in-keeping with the design philosophy of the Daleks in both the Classic Series and the New Series, and some changes have been made to designs to make them more realistic to depict as customs. Nonetheless, presented here is nothing less than the definitive source of Dalek designs for Big Finish audios.

Custom Elaborate Weapons Dalek

Big Finish Audio – The Four Doctors

Although named as such by me, not by the audio in question, this custom represents a particular Special Weapons Dalek – although I have assigned this to The Four Doctors for now, this is how I picture any Special Operations Special Weapons Daleks in the future. I created this custom using a standard Special Weapons Dalek painted with black Citadel paint. The detailing was done with a bright red and muted silver Citadel paint, the latter of which was applied using dry-brushing.

Custom Brotherhood Dalek

Big Finish Audio – Brotherhood of the Daleks

Featuring prominently on the cover art of Brotherhood of the Daleks is this Red Dalek, as this audio depicts the creation of pseudo-subfaction of Daleks which take on a more communist approach compared to the Daleks’ most fascist alignment. As such, this Dalek sports bright shining red, in-keeping with the design seen on the cover. As such, this Dalek closely resembles the incorrectly-coloured Dalek on the cover of the novelisation of The Daleks’ Master Plan, although that Dalek has no red on the midsection.

Custom Dalek Prime

Big Finish Audio – The Four Doctors

Although what differentiates a Dalek Prime from a Dalek Supreme is never truly addressed, it was clear to me that I would have to make this Dalek stand out from Dalek Supremes in order to justify its unique rank. As such, I used a similar design to the Special Weapons Dalek from the same story and went with a sinister black and red approach. I used Citadel paint for this custom and specific Citadel brushes due to the precise nature of the paint applications.

Custom Time War Dalek Scientist

Big Finish Audio – A Thing of Guile, part 2 of The War Doctor: Infernal Devices

This is a somewhat controversial choice as the recent release of the previously mentioned Big Finish B&M Dalek figure packs have confirmed that the Dalek Scientist seen on the cover of A Thing of Guile is silver and bronze, not blue and bronze, and the artwork of the cover means that the Dalek appears blue due to reflections on the rendering model. However, I wanted to know what this colour scheme would look like on a figure, so here it is. I also added the Vault Guard Dalek claw as a bonus attachment.

Custom Dalek Time Strategist

Big Finish Audio – The Shadow Vortex, part 1 of The War Doctor: Agents of Chaos

This Dalek Supreme custom was created to resemble the Dalek Time Strategist on the front cover of several of the War Doctor audios starring John Hurt and Jacqueline Pearce. I say ‘resemble’, as that Dalek appears to possess an intricate Time Controller (aka a plasma ball) in its midsection, that I deemed far too adventurous an idea for a custom. One day I might return to this figure and attempt to add the feature, but not yet. The paint applications were done in layers – first I spray-painted the figure silver, I then painted on the purple details with Citadel paint and coloured in the hemispheres with permanent marker. Although not 100% ‘cover-accurate’, I am still incredibly pleased with how striking this figure looks.

Custom Big Finish Dalek Figures – Part 1

Welcome to my showcase of custom Daleks created in homage to various Doctor Who audios created by Big Finish. There are a lot of Big Finish Dalek stories – too many to list, and far more than either the Classic Series or the New Series. As these appear in the audio format, it is up to the listener what these Daleks look like, and even when specific Daleks do appear, physical descriptions are often left brief so that they listener can conjure their own ideas of what the Daleks look like.

As such, I have created a swathe of custom Daleks designed to represent the Daleks we hear during some of the best Big Finish audios, showcased here in these blog posts.

Custom Underwater Dalek

Big Finish Audio – Jonah, from The Eighth Doctor: The Time War 2

I created this Dalek to resemble my interpretation of the ‘Underwater Daleks’ from Jonah, the brilliant finale to The Eighth Doctor: The Time War 2. I painted this custom using blue and grey Citadel paint that I blended together to give the effect. The eyestalk was also modified slightly, giving it a deeper shade of blue to the standard Dalek eyestalks. The metallic effect was achieved using silver Citadel paint applied with a dry-brush.

Custom Emperor’s Guard Dalek

Big Finish Audio – The Mutant Phase

Although the Emperor Dalek appears multiple times in Big Finish audios, there is never really much attention given to his guard – nonetheless, I have created this custom to resemble what a Grey Dalek Guard might look like, as we have seen black-domed 1960s Daleks and black-domed New Series Daleks, but never black-domed Grey Daleks. This custom looks very simple, although this figure was actually once a Gold Dalek Supreme from Day of the Daleks that I painted grey and black using Citadel paint.

Custom Heavy Weapons Dalek

Big Finish Audio – The Genocide Machine

Although only briefly appearing in The Genocide Machine, this variant of the Special Weapons Dalek appears to sound deeper in the audio than the regular one did in Remembrance of the Daleks, and it would obviously be donning the same colour scheme as the other Daleks of the era. Despite only making small impression in The Genocide Machine, this Special Weapons Dalek variant is still one of my favourite customs. I added the grille and slats from another Dalek to add more to the midsection, and the entire figure was painted using black and grey Citadel paints.

Custom Jubilee Dalek

Big Finish Audio – Jubilee

The Dalek seen on the cover of Jubilee doesn’t really do the audio justice, as it lacks many of the examples of damage that the characters allude to throughout the audio, such as corrosion, the missing weapon, and holes in the casing. I created this custom to better represent the Dalek we know and love from this audio, and I achieved this using bronze Citadel paint applied with a dry-brush to appear rusty, the removal of the weapon, and black pock-marks across the casing with black Citadel paint, that I also used to give the figure a black wash to add to the grimy effect.

Custom Pre-Time War Emperor Dalek

Big Finish Audio – The Mutant Phase

As previously mentioned, the Emperor Dalek appears in several Big Finish audios, but his debut in The Mutant Phase left me wondering whether it is meant to look like the same Emperor seen in The Parting of the Ways. Although the voice and general personality would indicate that this is the same Dalek, that does not necessarily mean that it has to inhabit the same casing. As such, I created this Emperor using a Genesis Ark that I painted grey – the insides were created using hot glue and various pieces of plastic, including the remains of an old torch that I disassembled. The mutant was created using the head of a Pig Slave from the 2007 story Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks. I built the mass of wires and tissue paper around the head and used hot glue and green paint to complete the effect. Finally, I attached four dome lights painted red to the top, and the eyestalk came from a Paradigm Dalek bath toy.

Doctor Who – Where to Start with Big Finish’s Eighth Doctor Audio Dramas

New to Big Finish Doctor Who Audios? If you want to get into the Eighth Doctor’s era but don’t know where to start, this guide to Big Finish 8th Doctor Audios can help!

One of Big Finish’s most popular and most successful ranges among their Doctor Who back-catalogue is their extensive selection of Eighth Doctor audio dramas, and for good reason.

As he has historically been the Doctor with the fewest on-screen appearances, it is great that the Eighth Doctor was picked up by Big Finish – Paul McGann continues to add to the role he never got to play on TV, the writers have free reign to tell whatever stories they want as they are not constrained by a preexisting narrative for the Eighth Doctor, and fans have been treated to some truly amazing stories within the Eighth Doctor range, all told through the medium of audio,

However, as Big Finish have been producing Eighth Doctor audios since 2001, it can be difficult at this point to know where to begin with his series. With literally hundreds of audio plays to his name, the Eighth Doctor can seem a daunting Doctor to tackle for fans, particularly those that are just getting into Big Finish and the audio drama format as a whole.

This guide is designed to assist those who want to listen to the Eighth Doctor’s Big Finish audio dramas but are unsure of how to approach them. To begin, let’s simplify the Eighth Doctor’s era by dividing it into the distinct ‘phases’ that are generally accepted by fans to be the main pillars of Eighth Doctor audio content.

Phase 1 -Charley Pollard and The Early Years

The Eighth Doctor’s early adventures are bold, nostalgic, and stand the test of time – not only do they draw a lot from the best of Classic Who and therefore don’t feel out of place among the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors in the Monthly Adventures, they do an excellent job of firmly establishing the character of the Eighth Doctor post-TV Movie, as well as introducing us to the marvellous Charley Pollard, the Eighth Doctor’s companion for the majority of his Monthly Range appearances.

Rather like the first few Fourth Doctor TV episodes, the early Eighth Doctor stories depict the Doctor exploring the universe seemingly without a care, but hinting at an overarching plot beneath. This means that you can listen to each episode individually without a problem, but it is beneficial to listen to them in order. The saga begins with 2001’s Storm Warning, which introduces Charley, and highlights of this era include Embrace the Darkness, Neverland, Zagreus, Scherzo, The Natural History of Fear, and The Girl Who Never Was.

Although it is not necessary to listen to every single audio in this era, there are very few that could be considered downright bad. As this was an early era for Big Finish, a lot of experimentation was taking place, so this era of Doctor Who audio dramas can be forgiven for its occasional slip-ups as for every dud audio play Big Finish produced, there were three more that were truly excellent. The only audio that should probably be avoided is Minuet in Hell, although it has to be said that Zagreus is not for the faint-hearted.

Phase 2 – Lucie Bleedin’ Miller and the New Beginning

Since the first set of Eighth Doctor audios were part of the Monthly Adventures, they use the Classic Who format of 4 25-30 minute parts that make up a roughly 2 hour story. However, when the Eighth Doctor was given his own standalone series in 2007, Big Finish changed the format of his stories to single 45 minute episodes, some of which having two parts, to match the format that the televised Doctor Who used post-2005. This change makes the Eighth Doctor Adventures with Lucie Miller far more accessible to newer fans.

Not only that, but this series contains a huge amount of excellent content. Although not as experimental as the previous phase of Eighth Doctor audios, the Eighth Doctor Adventures are far more consistent in terms of overall quality. The tone and plots of the audios in this phase feel very much aligned to the New Series, specifically the Tenth Doctor era. Lucie Miller makes an excellent companion – almost like a cross between Rose and Donna, with just a dash of Ace thrown in for luck. Her strong personality and excellent portrayal by Sheridan Smith make Lucie an instantly memorable companion.

The villains of this era are also equally memorable. The notorious Headhunter is an excellent counter to the Doctor and Lucie’s positive outlook on their adventures, and as her character develops she becomes a fascinating anti-hero of sorts as well as recurring villain. There are also strong appearances for both the Daleks and the Cybermen in this era, and there are many returning Classic villains that make this phase feel like a love letter to fans of Classic and New Who alike. Highlights from this era include Blood of the Daleks, Human Resources, Brave New Town, The Zygon Who Fell To Earth, Hothouse, Wirrn Dawn and To The Death, although there are very few stories in this phase that fail to be either enjoyable romps or excellent sci-fi stories.

Phase 3 – Molly O’Sullivan, the Girl with the Dark Eyes

This phase of Eighth Doctor audios marks a significant transition into the format of 4 episode to a box set and 4 box sets to a series. The episodes are usually self-contained stories that connect together to form a 16-part story – think The Trial of a Time Lord but with less Brian Blessed and even more technobabble. This era sees a far more reserved and brooding Doctor team up with new companion Molly O’Sullivan – a World War I Medical Volunteer who possesses the ‘Dark Eyes’ that give the series its name.

Overall, this phase of the Eighth Doctor’s tenure is perhaps the least accessible to most fans, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It has its own distinct identity, almost its own universe, and it creates its own galactic conflict to use as the stage for its space-opera-style story structure. Dark Eyes is certainly an immersive experience, though arguably its greatest weakness is that it relies too heavily on the combined story structure, meaning there are few episodes that stand out as individual stories in their own right.

One of the greatest strengths of Dark Eyes, however, is the Master – played excellently by the delightfully charismatic Alex Macqueen. This version of the Master is a treat, and his appearance in this series helps make it truly memorable. Highlights from this phase include The Great War, The Traitor, Eyes of the Master, A Life in the Day and Master of the Daleks.

Phase 4 – Battling Doom Coalition and Ravenous with Liv and Helen

After the intense and plot-heavy Dark Eyes, the Eighth Doctor’s life takes a sudden turn with the Doom Coalition and Ravenous storylines. The format relaxes the overarching plot meaning that the individual stories feel more unique and distinct from each other, meaning that it would theoretically be possible for a newcomer to listen to a random story from this series and enjoy it. However, as previously mentioned, at this point in the Eighth Doctor’s life there is a lot of internal lore and backstory within his stories, meaning characters, events and plot threads from previous phases play more of a part in these stories. There are even some elements of the New Series that are brought into play here, such as Missy, River Song, and the Weeping Angels.

And yet, arguably the best thing about this era is that the Doctor has a wonderful pair of companions in this phase – Liv and Helen, who come from completely different time zones, one from the 1960s, one from the far-future, and yet have perfect chemistry. Although not as dynamic as Charley or distinctive as Lucie, Liv and Helen fit the companion role excellently for this era of the Eighth Doctor’s life. Highlights from this era include The Red Lady, Scenes from Her Life, Absent Friends, The Side of the Angels, Their Finest Hour Seizure and Companion Piece.

This phase also features a character that is arguably the best villain in the Eighth Doctor’s entire era, and is perhaps one of the greatest villains in Doctor Who history – The Eleven. This insane Time Lord suffers from a condition called Regenerative Dissonance, meaning that his previous incarnations live on as multiple personalities inside his head. This leads to terrifying situations in which multiple psychopathic consciousnesses fight to control a single body and argue over the best way to murder their victim, with the primary Eleven personality vying for control.

Phase 5 – Bliss and the Time War

It was inevitable that the Eighth Doctor would have to face the Time War eventually, and Big Finish began producing the Eighth Doctor Time War stories before Doom Coalition had even finished – this represents a fresh start for the Doctor, and he has a new companion and even a new theme (borrowed from the late John Hurt’s War Doctor audios). These stories are often a lot bleaker than many of the previous Eighth Doctor audios, although this is to be expected with the Time War raging.

There are some interesting surprises in this era, as several aspects of the Doctor’s life come back to haunt him during the horrors of the Time War. This series also serves a secondary purpose – setting up the War Doctor audios which chronologically take place after this era from the point of view of the Doctor.

New companion Bliss makes an excellent impression in this series, establishing herself as a character who is just as affected by the Time War as the Doctor is, meaning she understands the nature of the conflict and aligns with the Doctor’s view of wanting to help but not actively fight. Highlights of this phase include The Starship of Theseus, One Life, Planet of the Ogrons, In the Garden of Death and The War Valeyard. Although the last phase in the Eighth Doctor’s tenure is quite disconnected from its predecessors, one must take into account the fact that Big Finish has not finished filling in the gaps as of yet. Still, those who enjoyed the legendary War Doctor audios will also enjoy the Eighth Doctor: Time War stories.

Extra Eighth Doctor Content

But wait, there’s more! The five phases might be the main eras of the Eighth Doctor’s audio tenure, but there are other stories that feature him that do not fit into any of these categories. Overall, the Eighth Doctor’s era is vast and daunting to the uninitiated, but hopefully this guide has helped to break down this enigmatic and elusive Doctor’s era into more manageable phases for those who want to take the plunge and experience the excellent audio adventures of the Eighth Doctor.

Travels with Mary Shelley

There are some audios that were released as part of the Monthly Adventures in 2009 and 2010 that depicted the Eighth Doctor at an earlier point in his life, before he even met Charley, in which he had several travels with Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. This era takes on a distinctly Gothic feel, and every one is worth a listen. The Silver Turk is arguably the best, and features the Mondasian Cybermen in 19th-century Vienna.

The Further Adventures of Lucie Miller

Acting as a pseudo-spinoff series for Lucie that is set between the first and second series of the Eighth Doctor Adventures, this box set tells various stories that primarily involve Lucie, although the Eighth Doctor is obviously present. So far only the first box set of this series has been released, but already the Further Adventures of Lucie Miller have given us a hilarious Dalek story in the debut story, The Dalek Trap.

Rage of the Master

The Eighth Doctor also appears in the third box set in the War Master series, which depicts the antics of Derek Jacobi’s incarnation of the Master during the Time War. The Eighth Doctor and the War Master bounce off each other well in their scenes together, and overall the story is highly enjoyable – but to say any more would give away some fantastic plot twists.

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Doctor Who – Who Created the Cybermen?

The Cybermen are one of the Doctor’s oldest and deadliest enemies, and since their introduction in The Tenth Planet, Doctor Who’s first regeneration story, the Cybermen have menaced almost every incarnation of the Doctor. As they are due to appear in Series 12 in 2020, fan interest in the Cybermen has peaked recently. However, a question that often comes up when discussing them is, how were they first created?

Unlike the Daleks, who get their own origin story in Genesis of the Daleks, the Cybermen were strangely neglected when it came to their origins in the Classic Series. The closest we came to an getting an explanation of their origins is the brief summary of how they came to be that we get in their first episode, as the Cybermen explain that their world, Mondas, was dying and that they needed to adapt in order to survive.

The Many Cyber-Origin Stories

Interestingly, although Classic Who didn’t divulge much about the origins of the Cybermen, the 21st century incarnations of Doctor Who have attempted to explain more about their origins.

Spare Parts, Big Finish Main Range, 2002

Spare Parts, a Fifth Doctor Big Finish Audio from the Main Range, depicts the Doctor and Nyssa arriving on Mondas just as the Cybermen are starting to take over, and although Nyssa is determined to try and save the planet, the Doctor is torn between helping the innocent and keeping history on track. Things are further complicated by the fact that this story is set not long after the death of Adric at the hands of the Cybermen.

This story shows that the Cybermen were created on Mondas as a means of allowing the citizens to survive in the increasingly hostile environment of a frozen, dead world. The Mondasian surgeons believe that they are saving the population, but the monstrous Committee, a unification of minds that acts as a precursor to the Cyber-Planner, sees the population as little more than resources to be harvested.

Rise of the Cybermen, Series 2, 2006

Another alternate race of Cybermen were created on a parallel version of Earth, as seen in 2005’s Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel. Like Spare Parts, this story depicts a scientist attempting to prolong human life by inventing the Cybermen. In this case, Doctor John Lumic created the Cybermen as a means of achieving immortality, due to the fact that he was suffering from a debilitating, incurable disease. Ultimately, he manages to convert a sizeable population of parallel London into Cybermen, and is eventually converted into a Cyber-Controller.

Although the Doctor eventually stops Lumic and destroys his Cybermen, the parallel Earth would continue to see Cyber-incursions for many years afterwards, and some Cybermen from that universe would eventually find their way into our universe and assimilate into the ranks of the Mondasian Cybermen, according to some sources.

World Enough and Time, Series 10, 2017

Another origin story for a race of Cybermen is seen in 2017’s World Enough and Time. This episode shows that, at some point, a colony ship had departed from Mondas with a crew of 50, only to be trapped in the event horizon of a black hole. Due to the time dilation effect of the black hole, the crew lived out their entire lives on the ship and bred, eventually leading to a sprawling city being built on one of the habitation decks. Eventually, however, this city would be corrupted by the interference of the Master.

As the city became more polluted, eventually the Mondasians on board began to convert themselves into primitive Cybermen that would slowly evolve over time into the modern Cybermen. After infesting most of the ship, many of these Cybermen were destroyed by the Doctor, though it is likely that many more survived.

Other Potential Cyber-Origins

These are not the only potential origin stories for the Cybermen. We know that they have sprung up on many planets due to parallel evolution, including Telos, Marinus and Planet 14 as well as Mondas and Earth. Over time the many Cyber-races would coalesce into one, known as the Cyberiad, which would fight many centuries-long wars, known collectively as the Cyber-Wars, against Humanity and their allies. These included, among others, the Orion War and the Tiberian Galaxy War.

So, unlike the Daleks, the Cybermen were not created by one specific person, nor indeed do they have one comprehensive backstory. Although the finer details of how the Cybermen as a ‘race’ came to be are hazy in Doctor Who lore, we can assume that many different versions of Cybermen came together and combined technology as a form of adapting, which explains why in the show there are some Cybermen that look very primitive and others that are highly advanced, and also why some seem to possess physiological differences.

The Real-World Origin of the Cybermen

Interestingly, the real-world Cyberman origin story shares several distinct similarities to their fictional origins. The idea for the Cybermen first came about in the 1960s when Dr. Christopher ‘Kit’ Pedler, the unofficial scientific advisor for Doctor Who, became fascinated with the idea of ‘spare part’ surgery that was becoming increasingly more sophisticated in the 1960s.

Dr. Pedler foresaw a time in which all human beings incorporated cybernetic implants and adaptations into their bodies, and this inspired him to create the ‘Cyber-Men’. Working alongside writer Gerry Davis, Dr. Pedler contributed to the writing of The Tenth Planet, the 1966 debut of the Cybermen, and this explains why in that story the Cybermen look a lot more recognisably humanoid than they would in later stories.

Whilst Dr. Pedler’s predictions about the future have (so far) proved to be incorrect, his vision of the future has lost none of its potency. In fact, with the leaps and bounds that medical science has undertaken since the 1960s, we are closer than ever to having real-life Cybermen, though it will be a long time before we have the capability to create them.

However, the essence of Dr. Pedler’s prediction endures to this day – Humankind must always be wary of the potential for excessive cybernetic enhancements, as whilst so far they are used for purely medical purposes, there is always potential for the good nature of these technologies to be corrupted. Human vanity, greed and lust for power mean that the Cybermen will always endure as villains – as a constant reminder of what we, the human race, could so easily become.

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