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.
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, though the Eighth Doctor continues to appear occasionally in the main Doctor Who range.
In March 2010, Tom Baker made a surprise posting on his website indicating he was in discussions with Big Finish about recording audio dramas for the company, reprising the role of the Fourth Doctor. Big Finish followed this, confirming they were in talks, but nothing was agreed as yet. Nicholas Briggs posted "Tom and I have been communicating about possible projects for some time. There is really no firm news other than that, but we are both keen to make something happen. Lis Sladen, Louise Jameson and Nicholas Courtney have also expressed an interest in being involved, but no storylines have been written or approved yet and we don't anticipate anything being available before 2011." On 16 March 2011, Big Finish confirmed Tom Baker would be portraying the Fourth Doctor in both the monthly series and the Lost Stories beginning in 2012. Unfortunately, by that time Sladen and 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 Jameson. As of the start of 2014, Big Finish has been successful in recruiting every surviving classic-era companion actor to reprise their original roles save one: Jackie Lane, as Matthew Waterhouse has since reprised his role. 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 generally does not have the rights to the movie or revival-era companions. (This may change later in 2013 as Big Finish is scheduled to produce audio dramas featuring the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors to tie in with the 50th anniversary.)
Connections with the current TV series
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, their agreement restricts the use of any intellectual property from the "revival" era series. Big Finish does not at present have the rights to produce any audio stories based upon the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh nor Twelfth Doctors nor related characters, even if they are 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. However, 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. This will include Big Finish's first productions involving the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, though as of January 2013 it is not known whether this indicates a widening of the company's licence or (more likely) a one-off. It is not yet known whether any actors from the revival (including the Doctor actors) will reprise their TV roles for these releases.
Big Finish produces the monthly The Companion Chronicles, 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. More recently, the line has expanded to feature extant Big Finish Doctors.
Apart from stories featuring the Doctor, Big Finish produces related spin-offs based on characters and situations from the Doctor Who Universe.
- Charlotte Pollard - The further adventures of Charlotte Pollard.
- Counter-Measures – The further adventures of Group Captain Ian Gilmore, Professor Rachel Jensen and Allison Williams in 1964 and 1965.
- Cyberman — the struggles between humans, androids and the Cybermen in the 26th century.
- Dalek Empire – Humanity's struggles against the Dalek Empire in the 42nd and 67th centuries.
- Doctor Who Unbound – Parallel universe stories in which fundamental concepts of the Doctor Who universe have been altered in various ways.
- Gallifrey – Power struggles and intrigue on Gallifrey involving Lady President Romana, Leela, K9 Marks I and II, Irving Braxiatel and others.
- Graceless – The further adventures of Abby and Zara.
- Iris Wildthyme – The continuing adventures of Iris Wildthyme and Panda.
- Jago and Litefoot – The further adventures of Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot in the 1890s.
- Sarah Jane Smith – The further adventures of Sarah Jane Smith.
- UNIT – Stories featuring a modern-day UNIT defending the Earth.
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. 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. 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.
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, Survivors, Dark Shadows, The Tomorrow People, Survivors and The Omega Factor. It has also produced wholly original comedy and sci-fi audios.
- Big Finish Doctor Who audio stories
- Big Finish Bernice Summerfield series
- Big Finish Doctor Who audio spin-offs
- Short Trips
- ↑ Big Finish (March 23, 2014). Big Finish FAQ (From 2002). Big Finish. Retrieved on 2002.
- ↑ Marcus (March 17, 2010). Tom Baker to record for Big Finish? (UPDATED 18 March). Doctor Who News. Retrieved on 18th September 2012.
- ↑ Fourth Doctor Rumour Control. Big Finish (18/03/2010). Archived from the original on March 24 2010. Retrieved on 18th September 2012.
- ↑ Short Trips Announcement. Big Finish - News (17/04/2009). Archived from the original on April 20 2009. Retrieved on 18th September 2012.
- ↑ The Return of Short Trips. Big Finish - News (10/02/2010). Archived from the original on March 30 2010. Retrieved on 18th September 2012.