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Big Finish Productions

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Big Finish Productions is a British audio production company founded in 1996[1]. Since 1999, it has produced audio dramas and prose stories related to Doctor Who.

History Edit

Big Finish began in late 1998 with audio adaptations of novels featuring the Seventh Doctor's former companion Bernice Summerfield. It subsequently was licensed to produce authorised Doctor Who audio plays. Later, the company branched out into prose publishing, producing a long-running series of novels and short story anthologies featuring Summerfield, followed by its acquisition of the Short Trips line of Doctor Who-related short stories, previously published by BBC Books.

Product lines Edit

Doctor Who Edit

Currently, Big Finish produces a series of monthly Doctor Who dramas in a four thirty-minute episode format, similar to the format of the classic TV serials. These stories feature the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Doctors. In 2007, a separate monthly series of one-hour Eighth Doctor adventures was created that ran for four series, succeeded by boxset releases. The Eighth Doctor appeared very occasionally following this in the main Doctor Who range.

In 2012, Tom Baker began portraying the Fourth Doctor in both his own series and the Lost Stories. Unfortunately, by that time companion actors Elisabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney were deceased; Baker was able to record a season of stories with Mary Tamm before her death in 2012, and has primarily been paired with Louise Jameson.

As of 2015, Big Finish has been successful in recruiting every surviving classic-era companion actor to reprise their original roles save Jackie Lane. In addition, both companion actors from the 1996 TV movie (Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso) and several revival-era companion actors (Bernard Cribbins, Noel Clarke and Arthur Darvill) have also recorded for the company, but as different characters as the company does not have the rights to the movie or revival-era companions.

Big Finish’s current licence to produce Doctor Who on audio extends to 31 March, 2020.[2]

Connections with the current TV series Edit

The licensing contract Big Finish holds with the BBC allows the company to produce material from the "classic" era , which gives them the rights to use the first eight incarnations of the Doctor and their companions. However following their announcement of their licence extension to 2020 it appears the terms of the licence may have changed, with several stories with elements from the "new series" being announced throughout 2015. [3]

Initially it was understood that their agreement for the Doctor Who licence restricted any intellectual property from the "revival" / "new" series (post-2005). Big Finish initially did not have the rights to produce any audio stories based upon the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors nor related characters, even if they were no longer featured in the TV series, as BBC Audio holds those rights. Because they were ideas conceived as part of the relaunched series, the Time War and the War Doctor currently cannot be included in any of Big Finish's Doctor Who audio stories for the same reason. Minor, oblique references have occasionally been made to the Time War. Big Finish also currently does not hold the rights to any characters created for the 1996 TV movie, except for the Eighth Doctor.

Several Big Finish personnel and performers, among them David Tennant, Georgia Moffett, Anthony Stewart Head, Nicholas Briggs, Gareth Roberts, Gary Russell, Mark Gatiss, Paul Cornell, Matt Jones and Robert Shearman, have gone to do work for Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood. Shearman's Dalek was directly based on his audio Jubilee.

Many, such as Briggs, were involved in the production of unlicenced audio productions (such as Audio Visuals), as well as non-Who audio and video productions such as The Stranger. Briggs currently serves as producer for the Big Finish line of Doctor Who audio adventures, concurrent with his ongoing voice-over work on the BBC TV series.

A number of actors from the BBC Wales TV series have worked with Big Finish after becoming known on TV, but playing characters other than their TV roles. Examples include Arthur Darvill and Noel Clarke.

In late 2012, Big Finish announced that it was partnering with AudioGO to produce a series of 11 audio dramas in 2013 to mark the 50th anniversary of the franchise, a series entitled Destiny of the Doctors. These are Big Finish's first productions involving the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. It featured actors from the revival series including Catherine Tate and Jenna Coleman as readers, and the Eleventh Doctor cameoed in each story. Due to AudioGo going into administration, the final release and accompanying boxset, The Time Machine (featuring the Eleventh Doctor), was released solely by Big Finish, and the cover acknowledges this.

In recent years the BBC has shown varying degrees of leniency in terms of the breadth of licence. With a number of stories containing allusions to the Time War, most notably Dark Eyes and Gallifrey VI. For Gallifrey VI, released in October 2013, Big Finish were granted special permission to use the revival series Daleks on the packaging, and in the first story, there is an attempted invasion of an alternate Gallifrey by said Daleks. The "origin" story The Beginning, released in the same year, was altered before release to depict the TARDIS capsule seen in the television story The Name of the Doctor and to reference Clara Oswald. Additionally, Big Finish depicted a future Doctor's TARDIS on the cover to UNIT: Dominion with the exterior of the Eleventh Doctor's. However, many references in the past have been able to get around licensing restrictions through vague references and implicature; the 2006 story The Kingmaker mentions a "northern chap with big ears"; the 2010 story Klein's Story quotes from TV: Time Crash, referencing the "leopard skin desktop theme" for the TARDIS console, whilst another, City of Spires, references the "assembled hordes of Ghengis Khan" (quoting TV: Rose). More more recent stories such as Luna Romana and other Gallifrey and The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield releases have more directly referenced an escalation in conflict on Gallifrey.

In 2015 a further development on their licence appeared with Big Finish announcing that they would be producing stories which would feature post-2005 elements. With stories featuring Winston Churchill, Strax, River Song, Torchwood, members of UNIT featured in the new series, and a new box set entitled "Classic Doctors, New Monsters", featuring new series aliens such as the Weeping Angels, Judoon and Sycorax, and the iteration of the Sontarans encountered by the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors.[3]

Companion Chronicles Edit

Big Finish produced the monthly The Companion Chronicles from 2007 to 2014, a series of hour-long stories narrated by former companions of the Doctor. The story's companion narrates the adventure, relating the events to the listener in-character, while one other major role in the story is performed by another actor.

The Companion Chronicles have allowed Big Finish to feature stories involving the first four Doctors, despite their original actors being unavailable. As a result, all eight "classic series" Doctors have now been represented in some way in Big Finish productions. Later releases featured stories from the perspective of a companion of the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors. Companions such as Sara Kingdom and Liz Shaw, who did not get much screentime in the show, were able to be given much vaster catalogues of stories, featuring the voice of the original actor. With the introduction of Tom Baker into Big Finish's cast, the last few series moved away from using the Fourth through Eighth Doctors and instead focused in on solely the First through Third Doctors.

The series has also introduced spin-off characters, including U.N.I.T. members Matheson and Sato, portrayed by TV movie actors Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso, and The Mahogany Murderers, reuniting detectives Jago and Litefoot from The Talons of Weng-Chiang, became a backdoor pilot for the spin-off series.

Following on from the successes The Lost Stories and the end of The Companion Chronicles Big Finish announced in 2013 the production of a new range The Early Adventures starring the surviving members of the black and white era stories with Nicholas Briggs saying (of the end of The Companion Chronicles) “It’s always sad to say goodbye to something, especially if they are popular. But at Big Finish we feel we must always be moving forward, and finding new ways to tell exciting Doctor Who stories on audio.” [4]

Other spin-offs Edit

Apart from stories featuring the Doctor, Big Finish produces related spin-offs based on characters and situations from the Doctor Who universe.

Books Edit

Through much of the 2000s, Big Finish complemented its audio line with a series of short story collections entitled Short Trips, a continuation of a series established by BBC Books. Most volumes centred around particular themes, with most books containing at least one story for each of the first eight Doctors, as well as occasional stories focusing on other characters. After BBC Books retired its BBC Past Doctor Adventures novels at the end of 2005 in favour of focusing on the current Doctor, Big Finish's Short Trips became the only source for officially licensed fiction featuring the first eight Doctors.

In April 2009, Big Finish was forced to terminate its prolific Short Trips books when the BBC did not renew its licence to publish Doctor Who-related prose.[5] However, in August 2009 it was announced that the BBC had renewed Big Finish's licence to produce Doctor Who-related audio dramas through 31 December 2011. In February 2010, Big Finish announced that they had opted to continue producing the Short Trips range in the form of audio dramas adapted from fan-submitted stories.[6] Big Finish has published prose fiction featuring characters such as Erimem, Bernice Summerfield and Iris Wildthyme. Non-fiction books related to its series have also been published, including select audio scripts and Bernice Summerfield - The Inside Story.

Other work Edit

Big Finish has produced and continues to produce original audio dramas based on a number of other franchises including Blake's 7, Sapphire & Steel, Stargate SG-1, Highlander, Sherlock Holmes, 2000 A.D., The Avengers, Terry Nation's Survivors, Dark Shadows, The Tomorrow People, Survivors and The Omega Factor. It has also produced wholly original comedy and sci-fi audios.

Big Finish also publishes original prose, including Love Songs For the Shy & Cynical by Rob Shearman and The Mervyn Stone Mysteries by Nev Fountain.

Doctor Who related series Edit

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

  1. Big Finish (March 23, 2014). Big Finish FAQ (From 2002). Big Finish. Retrieved on 2002.
  2. Doctor Who: Licence Extended to 2020!. Big Finish Productions (27 March 2015). Retrieved on 28 June 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 More New Series Doctor Who from Big Finish. Big Finish Productions (27 June 2015). Retrieved on 28 June 2015.
  4. Doctor Who: The Early Adventures Announced!. Big Finish Productions (8 February 2013). Retrieved on 28 June 2015.
  5. Short Trips Announcement. Big Finish - News (17/04/2009). Archived from the original on April 20 2009. Retrieved on 18th September 2012.
  6. The Return of Short Trips. Big Finish - News (10/02/2010). Archived from the original on March 30 2010. Retrieved on 18th September 2012.

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  • Big Finish extras

    13 messages
    • These aren't just uncut interviews though, they're edited to tell a narrative and to serve as a documentary. Thus they deserve at least some p...
    • I mean, to clarify my point, some extras are just a bunch of interviews, and some are basically documentaries. That of Light at the End, for instance.

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