The Audio Visuals were an unlicensed series of fan Doctor Who audio dramas produced in Britain during 1980s and the early 1990s. Many of the personnel involved would go on to professional work connected with the revived version of Doctor Who, Torchwood and Big Finish Productions. Twenty-six audio plays in all were recorded and distributed on cassette between 1984 and 1991.
The pilot episode, "The Space Wail", featuring the Doctor as voiced by Stephen Payne, was recorded in 1984. The first full seasons (1985-1988) were produced by Bill Baggs and starred Nicholas Briggs as his own version of the Doctor. The fourth and final season (1989-1991) was produced by Gary Russell. Briggs and Russell would have healthy careers ahead of them in the worlds of Doctor Who and, in the case of Russell, Torchwood as well, both before and after Russell T Davies' revival of the series.
Although the Audio Visuals productions were in violation of copyright, the BBC chose to look the other way. Gary Russell later told an interviewer,
- "We were fans doing some stuff for a handful of people. We never advertised in professional magazines, we kept ourselves to ourselves. In doing so, we broke every copyright rule in the book (hell, Terry Nation would have crucified us — although I think our Dalek stories knocked spots off Saward's!) JNT was certainly aware of us, but he didn't care. Why should he? We were no more than any other fan product and at least we weren't printing articles about him or the show. I doubt Saward knew or cared. He wouldn't know drama if it bit him."
Many of those involved in the Audio Visuals went on to work on BBV Productions (founded by Bill Baggs) or Big Finish Productions, which in 1999 began producing licensed Doctor Who audio drama under the guidance of Gary Russell. Nicholas Briggs has worked for both BBV and Big Finish as an actor and as a writer. He also worked on additional Doctor Who-related/inspired productions for Reeltime Pictures and beginning in 2005, has done vocal work as Daleks and other roles for the new Doctor Who series.
Relationship to mainstream Doctor Who universe
Minor continuity references to Lord Barset's Antarctic expedition from Endurance appear in The Scales of Injustice and City of Devils by Audio Visuals veteran Gary Russell. Lord Barset's grandson attempts to find the Silurians' Antarctic city in Frozen Time by Nicholas Briggs, who wrote the original story under a pseudonym. The Nicholas Briggs version of the Doctor and his companion Ria appeared in the Doctor Who Magazine comic Party Animals (also by Gary Russell). This version would be used as a disguise in Wormwood and possibly also under a different name in two unlicensed BBV audio productions, Cyber-Hunt and Vital Signs.
The Audio Visuals story "Planet of Lies" shows the destruction of Gallifrey by Daleks. This would later occur in mainstream Doctor Who continuity, though in a very different context, in the Last Great Time War.
A number of re-makes or sequels to Audio Visuals stories (some very loosely adapted) have been produced mainly in the form of another audio story created by Big Finish Productions.
- A close remake of the Audio Visuals story "Vilgreth".
- A sequel to Audio Visuals story "Endurance".
- More Than a Messiah
- Remake not based in the Doctor Who universe.
List of Audio Visuals stories
- The Space Wail
- Regarded as the "pilot episode".
- The Time Ravagers
- Connection 13
- Cloud of Fear
- Shadow World
- The Mutant Phase
- The Destructor Contract
- The Trilexia Threat
- Minuet in Hell
- Blood Circuit
- Second Solution
- The Secret of Nematoda
- Enclave Irrelative
- More than a Messiah
- Sword of Orion
- Planet of Lies
- Truman's Excellent Adventure