Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Early Charley Era Part 1

Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts in which I will be reviewing all of the Eighth Doctor audio dramas produced by Big Finish from beginning to end. This series will serve as part-review, part-guide for those who want to get into the Eighth Doctor audios but aren’t sure where to begin. The Eighth Doctor audios started in 2001 when Paul McGann starred in his first audio for Big Finish’s Main Range, titled Storm Warning. Until then, McGann’s only performance as the Eighth Doctor was in the 1996 TV Movie, and although he has gone on to become a cult fan-favourite due to the huge number of audio stories he has since starred in, back in 2001 the Eighth Doctor audios were seen as experimental, allowing the writers free reign to write about more expansive concepts as they were not tied to writing stories for the ‘Classic Era’.

#16 – Storm Warning

The first Big Finish audio starring Paul McGann as the Doctor does a fantastic job of reintroducing us to the character of the Eighth Doctor (who listeners at the time had only seen in the 1996 TV movie up until this point) as well as introducing us to the new companion, Charley Pollard, and the series arc that continues throughout her time in the TARDIS. Charley, played by India Fisher, receives a strong introduction in this story, as her character as an Edwardian adventuress is well-established as she boards the doomed English airship R101 and subsequently encounters the Doctor. Charley is a wonderful companion original to the Big Finish audios who plays an important role in the early phase of the Eighth Doctor’s tenure, and she immediately proves her worth in her debut story.

Through Charley we are introduced to Paul McGann’s Doctor, who keeps many of the character traits present in the TV Movie but is given much more time to develop the characterisation and add many subtle nuances to his performance. The Eighth Doctor emerges in this story fully-formed, and although he goes on to experience several character shifts throughout the vast range of Big Finish Eighth Doctor stories, his character for the duration of the Charley era is firmly established in this story. This Doctor has the air of having gleaned a huge amount of knowledge and experience from their seven previous lifetimes, and yet is also very scatterbrained and is among the most human and relatable Doctors of the Classic era.

Storm Warning tells a wonderful story within its source material, as the era is brought to life in this story through a range of interesting characters who really help set the scene to flesh out the era of 1930, and there are great cliffhangers throughout that are punctuated by the new arrangement of the theme composed by none other than James Bond composer David Arnold. Although Storm Warning is not technically the Eighth Doctor’s first story, as he debuted in the TV Movie, those who have never seen that film will have lost nothing as Storm Warning does a brilliant job of establishing the new Doctor, new companion and new era for Big Finish.

#17 – Sword of Orion

The Eighth Doctor’s first outing with the Cybermen is written by none other than Nicholas Briggs, who takes inspiration from the Alien series for this audio to deliver a story that is both spooky and thrilling. Sword of Orion is essentially a space opera, with a variety of locations and characters to illustrate the diversity of the Galaxy in 2503, and also references several Classic TV Cyberman stories such as The Tomb of the Cybermen. The Cybermen themselves are depicted well in this story, which is a considerable feat as this was the first audio story to feature them. The voices are reminiscent of the more human-sounding voices of the earlier Cybermen, though there is also a hint of the 80s-era voice in some specific scenes, particularly involving rogue Cybermen. This story is suitably creepy, as its primary setting is a derelict Cyberman Star Destroyer which is excellently depicted by the fantastic sound design present in this story. Everything from ominous creaking bulkheads to distant shrieks of insane Cybermen makes this audio an unnerving one to listen to with headphones on at night.

There is a particularly creepy scene in which the Doctor finds an abandoned Cyber-conversion facility that still contains the remains of its last victims, which gives a chilling insight into the horrific nature of cyber-conversion. The supporting characters give this story a significant degree of depth, particularly as we spend a fair amount of time with the side cast before they encounter the Cybermen – we also get a fair amount of worldbuilding that explains the current situation of not only the Cybermen but also the Humans and their current conflict with a race of androids who rebelled against Human control and eventually conquered their own system – Orion. The introduction of the android race as a third party separate from the Humans and the Cybermen is an interesting dynamic that presents interesting questions about the nature of the Cybermen compared to humanity and a race of synthetics.

Overall this story is a great first outing in the TARIS for Charley, who demonstrates her impressive ability to absorb information and quickly adapts to the nature of space travel despite being from the 1930s. One of Charley’s most endearing characteristics which is prominent in this story is her investigative mind and curious personality, which combined helps her to keep up to speed with the intrigue developing between other characters in a story at the same rate as the Doctor – although she does fill the companion role of asking questions, Charley quickly establishes herself as among the most resourceful and adventurous companions.

#18 – The Stones of Venice

The first audio that Paul McGann recorded for Big Finish, The Stones of Venice is interesting because although it is set in the future of 2294, it often comes across as a historical story because of the manner in which a lot of the supporting characters behave. This story depicts a very stylised view of 23rd century Venice at the point in which the city is doomed to sink into the sea, and the population of the city has essentially resigned themselves to that fate. There is certainly a melancholy atmosphere to this story, though there are enough lighthearted moments to keep it from being too bleak. Although this audio is set in Venice it is a very different story from the more famous Doctor Who story set in the same place, the Eleventh Doctor TV story Vampires of Venice, though there are some unusual similarities.

This audio develops the relationship between the Doctor and Charley and firmly establishes the pair as a time-travelling duo – the best companions are usually established by their second or third story, and Charley Pollard is no exception. There is an amusing scene early on in which Charley criticises the interior design of the TARDIS (which retains the design from the TV Movie), arguing that the Victorian aesthetic seems very out-of-date from her perspective as a native of the 1930s – moments like these continue to reinforce Charley’s role as a companion viewing events through the lens of the past, and yet Charley’s character is as forward-thinking as any modern companion. The bleak nature of this story is counteracted by the dynamic interaction between the Doctor and Charley that keeps this one interesting, though the side characters have a tendency to hop between theatrically melancholy to dramatically over-the-top.

This is essentially an audio that reinforces the pre-existing characterisation of the Eighth Doctor and Charley – whilst it is by no means essential listening to understand the wider story of the series, those who skip this audio will miss out on some great scenes between Paul McGann and India Fisher that helps to firmly establish their characters as a unique Doctor-companion duo – in the unlikely event that you were unsure about the Eighth Doctor and Charley during Storm Warning and Sword of Orion, The Stones of Venice completes the set and rounds off the first three Eighth Doctor audios with a strong audio that builds a rich world and offers some great moments for the Eighth Doctor and Charley.

#19 – Minuet in Hell

This story is intensely controversial among the fanbase for a number of reasons – the two most prominent are that the story uses several tropes that would become tired staples of the Eighth Doctor era, particularly the ‘amnesiac Doctor’ trope, and that it also sexualises Charley in a way that would be wholly inappropriate on the televised version of the show. In many ways Big Finish’s ability to write stories that do not conform to the family-friendly nature of the TV series is an asset, but this audio is a perfect example of how letting that become the driving force behind a story can detract from the narrative – at times it seems as though this audio is deliberately trying to be provocative or even borderline offensive, and to make matters worse the setting is so inconceivable and bizarre that the ‘adult’ nature of this audio seems utterly unearned.

For those who want to complete the set of Eighth Doctor and Charley audios then Minuet in Hell is interesting on its own merits – but for those who want to experience the wider story arc of the Eighth Doctor and Charley, then this audio is completely skippable. It is rare to encounter a Big Finish audio that has a negative reputation among the fanbase, so Minuet in Hell presents a certain fascination based on that fact alone, but it is quickly apparent why this audio has the reputation that it does among the fanbase. Arguably the only significant aspect of this audio is that it features Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier, though he meets the Doctor only briefly.

This concludes the first series of the first era of Eighth Doctor stories, and although it ended on a bit of a misstep, overall the audios are promising. Paul McGann fits into the role of the Eighth Doctor perfectly, despite it being five years since his TV appearance. India Fisher is excellent as Charley, who is brought to life as a fully-formed companion out of the gate, and is without doubt one of the most iconic and memorable companions who are original to audio.

Doctor Who – What is the Ideal Big Finish Listening Order?

Following the announcement earlier this year that Big Finish is concluding the Monthly Adventures in March 2021 with the 275th release of the long-running series, there has been much interest in the future of the Doctor Who audios, as the company is seeking to streamline its ranges of upcoming releases to encourage new listeners who feel intimidated by the large back-catalogue to begin with a new set of jumping-on points for the various Doctors.

In light of this, we are looking back at some of Big Finish’s earlier releases to determine what the ideal listening order for Big Finish could be, and show newer fans to the audios the most accessible ways to enjoy Big Finish’s previous releases. The best place to start for this would be the natural jumping-on points that Big Finish have created in the past, as these are designed to be accessible for new fans and contain their own self-contained story arcs.

The Eighth Doctor Adventures

This series is a popular suggestion for new listeners, not least because it is formatting in a very similar way to the New Series of the TV show, meaning there are 45 minute long episodes, some of which are two-parters, instead of 4 25-minute episodes that make up the majority of Big Finish releases in the Monthly Adventures.

As such, these episodes are often shorter and more fast-paced, in much the same way that the New Series is compared with the Classic era. This series of audios ran from 2007-2011, so there is a complete story arc spread across 4 seasons, and although the series takes place between the Eighth Doctor stories from the Monthly Adventures and the newer Eighth Doctor box sets, no knowledge of the prior Paul McGann audios is required to understand the Eighth Doctor Adventures.

Alongside Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, Sheridan Smith plays the companion for this series, Lucie Miller, who is a unique take on the companion role and doesn’t fit into any preexisting companion archetype, making her a great addition to the series and a driving force behind many of the stories. There is also a range of recurring supporting characters who help to define this set of audios as its own ‘era’ of Doctor Who, much like Steven Moffat’s era of the TV show did with its cast of new recurring allies and enemies of the Doctor.

The Best of the Monthly Adventures

Since the Monthly Adventures (then called the Main Range) began in 1999, Big Finish have created hundreds of stories set during the eras of the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors, all of which are full-cast adventures produced to a very high quality. Even their earliest audios are of the upmost quality, and one of the most common ways that fans get into Big Finish is by finding a story that they think is interesting and give it a listen.

These are usually Monthly Adventures stories, as many of the most commonly suggested ‘first Big Finish audios’ are Monthly Adventures stories like Spare Parts, Jubilee, The Chimes of Midnight or The Harvest as these are well-known among the community and have acquired a reputation over the years for being excellent stories. The best candidates for the ideal ‘first audio’ to listen to are ones that are either standalone stories that require no other stories for context, like Spare Parts, or ones that begin their own narrative arc, such as The Harvest.

Every Doctor Who fan loves the show for different reasons, and you can guarantee that there is something for every kind of fan in Big Finish’s backcatalogue. Whether you love pure historicals, you’re a huge fan of the Daleks or if you have a specific Doctor or companion in mind who is your favourite, for some people the best way to find a good listening order is to start with the first audio of a Doctor – companion pairing and listen to them in order. For those who want to try out the audios starring audio-exclusive companions, here is a brief guide to their opening stories:

  • The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) begins his adventures with new companion Evelyn Smythe (Maggie Stables) in an early Monthly Adventures story called The Marian Conspiracy, a pure historical featuring Mary I. This audio begins a series of adventures with 6 and Evelyn that includes The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, The Apocalypse Element, Jubilee and Doctor Who and the Pirates.
  • The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) begins his first official series of adventures with Storm Warning, an audio that also sees the debut of his first audio companion Charley Pollard (India Fisher). Subsequent audios featuring this pair include Sword of Orion, The Chimes of Midnight and The Time of the Daleks.
  • The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) meet new companion Hex (Philip Oliver) in The Harvest, a Cyberman story set in the future. The informally named ‘Hex arc’ then continues with audios like Live 34, Enemy of the Daleks and Protect and Survive.

Big Finish Box Sets

In recent years, Big Finish have focused more on box sets than individual releases, particularly for the Eighth Doctor. However, almost every Doctor has received a box set in some capacity. The Sixth Doctor recently received a box set simply titled ‘The Sixth Doctor and Peri: Volume One’, which could be an example of the future formatting of Big Finish box sets, releasing a series of adventures focusing on a particular Doctor-companion relationship.

There are pros and cons to buying a box set as your first release, on the one hand the sets usually contain a series of audios with their own self-contained story that spans across several stories, but on the other hand if you are new to the audio format in general or new to the specific Doctor featured in the box set then it usually seems like it isn’t worth the investment until you’re sure that you will actually enjoy the product you’re paying for.

New Series Content from Big Finish

Another attractive jumping-on point for new fans is the range of audios that Big Finish have produced relating to the New Series, an aspect of the fandom that the vast majority of Doctor Who fans can relate to. So far Big Finish have produced several series of Tenth Doctor Adventures starring David Tennant, Billie Piper, Catherine Tate and other actors from the Tenth Doctor era, and it has recently been announced that Christopher Eccleston is starring in a series of Ninth Doctor Adventures set to be released in 2021, so there is no shortage of New Series content from Big Finish for fans to enjoy.

There are also many Big Finish audios and box sets that are set during the events of the Time War, which in the absence of any televised series depicting the conflict are the closest the fanbase will get to a series set during the Time War. The two most significant Time War-related audios are the War Doctor box sets starring John Hurt and the series of Eighth Doctor box sets revolving around the Time War, these are completely self-contained story arcs that are fully accessible to those seeking to learn more about the events of the Time War and enjoy more content starring the late John Hurt.

The Best of Big Finish

If you are still unsure of where to start with Big Finish, we have a convenient list of posts discussing our favourite Big Finish audios in no particular order.

Doctor Who – Should Big Finish Audios be Animated like Missing Episodes?

The practice of animating lost episodes of early Doctor Who has evolved significantly since the DVD release of The Invasion in 2006, which had its two missing episodes fully animated with simple flash characters. Since the release of the first fully-animated reconstruction of a classic Doctor Who story, The Power of the Daleks which was released in 2016, the reconstruction of missing Second Doctor stories has intensified both in scope and popularity, with several lost classics like The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones receiving full animated reconstructions following its success.

The Power of the Daleks even received a full Special Edition release this year featuring updated animation and more special features, and the animated Fury from the Deep is scheduled to be released in September of this year. Both releases have been marketed heavily on the promise of more advanced animation for these two stories in particular that will set a new standard for Doctor Who animations to follow, and fans are eagerly anticipating the announcement that other missing classics like The Daleks Master Plan, The Wheel in Space and The Evil of the Daleks will receive the animation treatment. What was once a quirky substitute for missing content that often yielded inconsistent results is now being considered its own art form, and a potentially profitable endeavour by the BBC.

One has to speculate, therefore, whether the BBC intends to limit the practice of animating Doctor Who stories to simply missing episodes. Whilst the show does have nearly 100 missing episodes, if the rate of episode animation and reconstruction continues then it won’t be long before all of the missing episodes have received the animation treatment. This is without a doubt excellent news for fans, though it presents a potential problem for the BBC and the animation studios commissioned to animate the stories, as there are only a finite number of potential releases.

Shada received the animated treatment in 2017

One solution that many fans have suggested online is that the BBC should work with Big Finish to create animated visuals to accompany the full-cast audio dramas that the company have been producing consistently since 1999. The main reason why these audios could work just as well with the animation is that, in theory, the soundtrack of an audio drama – characters talking, incidental music and sound effects – is similar to the surviving audio tracks from the missing episodes that are used as the basis for the animated reconstructions, so the team could use the same techniques of approximating a character’s position, movement and interaction with the environment from the soundtrack.

However, this notion assumes that a Big Finish Doctor Who audio is essentially just an episode that lacks the visuals, which is rarely the case – Big Finish audios are created specifically with the audio drama format in mind, and there are some Big Finish audios that simply would not translate to a visual medium at all, such as Scherzo or The Natural History of Fear, as adding visual elements to these kinds of stories would detract from the episode.

That is not to say that there are no Big Finish audios that could not be animated, however, and there are some that have been commonly suggested by fans as prime candidates for a ‘prototype’ Big Finish animation – stories that are of a high quality, that would not be undermined by the addition of visuals and that are consistent with the tone of the show itself. These include:

  • Jubilee, which has essentially been adapted to screen already in the form of Dalek from Series 1 but is distinct from that story and lends itself to some very striking visuals. The Sixth Doctor and Evelyn work so well together as a Doctor-companion pairing that an animated Jubilee could make significant progress in improving the reputation of the Sixth Doctor in the eyes of the general fanbase.
  • Blood of the Daleks, a natural jumping-on point during the Eighth Doctor’s timeline as the first story in the Lucie Miller arc, that also includes Daleks and is formatted in the same style as a New-Who two-parter. This could also lead to a series of animated versions of the Eighth Doctor Adventures series, as there are some other strong stories in that series including The Zygon Who Fell To Earth, Human Resources, Lucie Miller / To The Death, the list goes on.
  • The Innocent, the first instalment of the Time War audios set starring the late John Hurt. This would theoretically allow for a War Doctor series, though some fans have argued that a visual depiction of the Time War would diminish the sense of incomprehensible mystery surrounding the conflict.
  • Spare Parts, the Fifth Doctor audio that depicts one account of the origins of the Cybermen of Mondas, and is well-known among the community for being a popular first-time audio for new listeners of Big Finish, not least because of the thrilling tale it tells but also because of the accessibility of the story.
  • Davros, a popular candidate for fan-made animations based on Big Finish audios, this story is easily one of the best Big Finish has produced and it has a nice balance of action and character moments, making it a prime candidate.

However, there are also some other Big Finish audios which, although not as accessible to new listeners, would still make excellent candidates for the animation treatment later down the line. These include:

  • The Sixth Doctor – The Last Adventure, a box set containing several stories spanning the Sixth Doctor’s era that have a story arc running throughout, which eventually culminates in the Sixth Doctor’s regeneration story, The Brink of Death. This box set requires a fair bit of background knowledge of the Sixth Doctor’s audio adventures, but it would be nice to have visuals for every regeneration story.
  • Order of the Daleks, another Sixth Doctor story that lends itself well to a visual medium, particularly due to the striking Stained-Glass Daleks that are present in the story.
  • Hour of the Cybermen, yet another Sixth Doctor story that is among the most recent outings for the Cybermen and features the return of the classic Cyber Leader voice actor David Banks and Cyber Lieutenant voice actor Mark Hardy.

These are just some of the incredible audios from Big Finish’s back-catalogue that could make excellent animated adventures in the future, and as the company has recently prompted fans on Twitter to post suggestions for the first animated Big Finish audio it is clear that the idea isn’t completely outside the realms of possibility.

This is an exciting notion for fans that cannot be ignored. Big Finish has a reputation for creating exceptional Doctor Who content, and making that more accessible to fans who are not accustomed to audio stories who require visuals is an interesting prospect. Creating animated versions of Big Finish audios would certainly not work for all of their releases, though it is possible that adding animated visuals could enhance some audios that depict large-scale conflicts such as The Enemy of the Daleks, Patient Zero or Last of the Cybermen.

So, to answer the question posed by the title of this article, yes, Big Finish audios should definitely be considered for animation in the future, regardless of whether or not the BBC chooses to animate all of the remaining lost episodes. However, the decision as to which Big Finish audios should be animated should not be taken lightly, as many Big Finish audios intended specifically for the audio format and choosing a story that can also serve as a jumping-on point for fans will help to set up a good long-term strategy for future releases. Animating a few initial stories will also encourage fans who were on the fence about listening to the audios to give Big Finish a try, as the quality of the stories speaks for itself.

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Custom Big Finish Daleks – Part 5

Welcome to the next instalment of our Custom Big Finish Dalek figures showcase here at Sacred Icon, this list details the first wave of Big Finish Dalek figures that were created in lockdown. The amount of time available to listen to Big Finish audios has increased dramatically during lockdown, and as a result there has been a lot of inspiration for new and unique Dalek designs based on Big Finish audios!

As Big Finish recently announced a huge shakeup to their schedule that will result in the end of the Monthly Adventures, it seems fitting to showcase these Daleks in celebration of Big Finish’s past as well as its future, as some of these Daleks are from the Monthly Adventures and some are from the Eighth Doctor box sets, the model which will soon be replacing the Monthly Adventures for all the Classic Doctors.

Dalek Virologist

Big Finish audio – Dalek Soul

During the events of the uniquely formatted Fifth Doctor story Alien Heart / Dalek Soul, which has two two-part episodes instead of one long four-part story, Nyssa is captured by the Daleks and forced to aid in the creation of new bioweapons, particularly viruses. This fascinating idea for a story also comes with a great cover design featuring an Emperor’s Guard from The Evil of the Daleks, though my custom takes the design a step further, retaining the black dome but recolouring much of the lower sections in deep purple paint. The spheres have also been repainted a dull grey to emphasise the purple colouration on the skirt, and to draw attention to the shiny midsection.

Dalek Commander

Big Finish audio – Dark Eyes

This custom is another slight alteration of a Big Finish cover Dalek, in this case the Gold Dalek seen on the cover of Dark Eyes 4. This custom captures the essence of the design but with some minor tweaks, mostly inspired by the yellow Dalek from the Peter Cushing movies. Whilst the exact role of this Dalek is unclear in Dark Eyes 4, as there are several Daleks that hold leadership roles during the events of the four stories in Dark Eyes 4, yellow or gold as the base colour for a Dalek is particularly striking, and it is no wonder that the producers of the New Series chose light bronze as the primary colour for standard Daleks. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see Gold Daleks return in some capacity.

Good Dalek

Big Finish audio – Tangled Web

During the strange events of the Eighth Doctor story Tangled Web, the Doctor and Molly meet several Daleks who appear to have turned ‘good’, having abandoned their evil ways and embraced a love of nature, particularly flowers. They are even described as using their casings for daytime naps instead of the slaughter of the innocent, in a very bizarre turn that is clearly masking something more going on behind the scenes. This custom was created using a Gold Supreme Dalek from Day of the Daleks, painted light purple with darker purple detailing to emulate the colour scheme that a pacifist sub-species of gardener Daleks might adopt.

Dalek Interrogator Prime

Big Finish audio – In the Garden of Death

Although the Dalek Interrogator Prime was already depicted (twice) in the Character Options Box Sets released by B&M, fans have pointed out that, as great as those figures are, the colour scheme itself is simply a recreation of a pre-existing Dalek colour scheme, that of the Daleks in the Eternity Circle in the War Doctor novel Engines of War. This custom is an alternate take on the colour scheme that has many similar elements but also deviates slightly, including a brighter blue dome, orange head lamps, black slats and a mismatched dome colour scheme inspired by the Peter Cushing Movie Dalek Supreme.

Dalek Invasion Leader

Big Finish audio – Masters of Earth

During the events of the exceptional Big Finish audio story Masters of Earth, the Sixth Doctor and Peri travel to Earth in the future, to a point in time during the Dalek invasion of Earth that the First Doctor eventually stops in the Classic Who episode The Dalek Invasion of Earth. This is an interesting idea for a story and allows for more exploration of the state of the planet during the decades-long occupation and a look into what was going on behind the scenes for the Daleks during that time. This custom depicts a potential Dalek Invasion Commander who is one position below a Supreme Dalek but still above the standard Dalek drones. This figure was originally a Saucer Pilot Dalek, with the hemispheres painted black and silver and black detailing added the the midsection and the eyestalk. The most prominent feature, the gold dome, is a homage to the sickly-gold lighting on the cover of Big Finish’s Masters of Earth.

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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