The general, but not invariable, ambition of the series was to tell stories using the companions of the first four Doctors. The typical release in the range used just two actors, a musical score, some foley work and sound design — meaning that the end result sat somewhere between an audio book and a full-cast drama.
Originally, the concept was to produce talking books featuring the companions of the first four incarnations of the Doctor who were unavailable to take part in the main range. While the range has remained primarily focused on companions who appeared earlier than season 19, most releases in the range have not been true "talking books". In fact, all but one release — The Stealers from Saiph — use the convention of at least two characters in conversation with each other. Most have a sound design worthy of any title in the main range. On rare occasion the range has moved away from its titular concern to feature characters — like Sara Kingdom, King Peladon and Henry Gordon Jago — who are more properly considered "prominent guest stars" or "allies".
Format and structure
In general, Companion Chronicles have a fairly standard format. They are usually two, 25-ish minute episodes divided by a single cliffhanger. The part of the story that has to do with the Doctor is almost always told in flashback, as a recollection of a past adventure. Thus, the central character of the piece (i.e., the companion) is often depicted in two time periods. That is, there is typically an "older" version of the companion who recounts the adventure with the Doctor, and the "younger" version of the character, who is as he or she appeared on television.
The actor not portraying a companion is used in a variety of ways to allow stories in the range to have markedly different structures. Some common narrative uses for the second actor are:
- to voice a character trying to get the companion to recollect his or her past, as in Ringpullworld
- to voice a friend of the companion, as in The Transit of Venus
- to voice the principal adversary, as with Fear of the Daleks
Sometimes, the interrogator is revealed to be the principal adversary, as in Mother Russia or Frostfire; sometimes the listener knows the interrogator is the adversary right from the start, as with The Catalyst. In any case, the relationship between ex-companion and interrogator is usually a pretty obvious "framing device", which takes up a clear minority of the runtime of the release. However, in a few rare cases, as with the "Home Truths trilogy", the interrogator is a co-star equal with the featured character and is given a a proper story with the "present day" companion woven into the companion's recollections of the Doctor's TARDIS.
The 2011 release Tales from the Vault was a departure from the "enhanced audiobook" format, being effectively a straight audio drama (albeit still one with a limited cast) that incorporated interviews with various companions.
A few of the plays tie in to others in the Big Finish Doctor Who range. The Darkening Eye is a prequel to The Death Collectors; Night's Black Agents explicitly occurs between City of Spires and The Wreck of the Titan; the Leela trilogy which begins with The Catalyst relies to some degree on the listener's knowledge of the Gallifrey audio series; and The Prisoner's Dilemma occupies a complicated narrative space, tying together the Virgin New Adventures with Big Finish's Key 2 Time series.
All the plays add to the their main characters' televised continuities. More than a few detail an extra adventure in a way that doesn't add much to their lives, however. For instance, Mother Russia gives Steven a holiday in Napoleonic Russia between The Gunfighters and The Savages. Even the interchange with his interrogator is set within the main story. Thus, Steven gains merely another adventure that fits neatly in his established, televised timeline.
By contrast, other plays significantly expand the known fates of their principal characters. For instance, the "Home Truths trilogy", taking place between episodes of Sara Kingdom's only televised story, The Daleks' Master Plan, reveals that she had other adventures with Steven and the Doctor besides the quest for taranium which was the central plot of her televised adventure. More significantly, the trilogy also gives Sara, or at least her consciousness, a thousand-year-lifespan, a way to have met a different incarnation of the Doctor and thus a second chance to travel in the TARDIS.
Most plays settle somewhere between these two extremes. Thanks in part to the typical interrogative "framing device", most of the plays reveal something about the lives of the Doctor's companions after leaving him. In the very first Companion Chronicle, for instance, Vicki is shown to have remained with Troilus and to have had a large family. Equally, the series shows that Susan Foreman stayed with David Campbell, Jo Jones continued her globe-trotting life with Dr. Clifford Jones and Victoria settled down to raise a family.
While the monthly Companion Chronicles are ending in 2014 after the 80th release in the range, Nicholas Briggs has not ruled out future releases under the banner.
We've noticed that our customers are starting to pick and choose, which affects the commercial viability of the range. There's so much Doctor Who stuff on offer, there's always a danger of ranges feeding off each other, as it were, in terms of sales. So people desert one range to try another one, simply because they can't afford to buy them all. This was happening to the Companion Chronicles. So we're stopping them to give people a chance to catch up. [...] BUT, we will certainly revisit them, with specials and perhaps even box sets. So we're not really stopping them, just changing the pattern in which they are released.
List of stories
|1||Frostfire||Marc Platt||First Doctor||January 2007|
|2||Fear of the Daleks||Patrick Chapman||Second Doctor||January 2007|
|3||The Blue Tooth||Nigel Fairs||Third Doctor||January 2007|
|4||The Beautiful People||Jonathan Morris||Fourth Doctor||January 2007|
|1||Mother Russia||Marc Platt||First Doctor||October 2007|
|2||Helicon Prime||Jake Elliott||Second Doctor||November 2007|
|3||Old Soldiers||James Swallow||Third Doctor||December 2007|
|4||The Catalyst||Nigel Fairs||Fourth Doctor||January 2008|
|1||Here There Be Monsters||Andy Lane||First Doctor||July 2008|
|2||The Great Space Elevator||Jonathan Morris||Second Doctor||August 2008|
|3||The Doll of Death||Marc Platt||Third Doctor||September 2008|
|4||Empathy Games||Nigel Fairs||Fourth Doctor||October 2008|
|5||Home Truths||Simon Guerrier||First Doctor||November 2008|
|6||The Darkening Eye||Stewart Sheargold||Fifth Doctor||December 2008|
|7||The Transit of Venus||Jacqueline Rayner||First Doctor||January 2009|
|8||The Prisoner's Dilemma||Simon Guerrier||Seventh Doctor||January 2009|
|9||Resistance||Steve Lyons||Second Doctor||March 2009|
|10||The Magician's Oath||Scott Handcock||Third Doctor||April 2009|
|11||The Mahogany Murderers||Andy Lane||None||May 2009|
|12||The Stealers from Saiph||Nigel Robinson||Fourth Doctor||June 2009|
|21||The Drowned World||Simon Guerrier||First Doctor||July 2009|
|22||The Glorious Revolution||Jonathan Morris||Second Doctor||August 2009|
|23||The Prisoner of Peladon||Cavan Scott & Mark Wright||Third Doctor||September 2009|
|24||The Pyralis Effect||George Mann||Fourth Doctor||October 2009|
|25||Ringpullworld||Paul Magrs||Fifth Doctor||November 2009|
|26||Bernice Summerfield and the Criminal Code||Eddie Robson||Seventh Doctor||January 2010|
|27||The Suffering||Jacqueline Rayner||First Doctor||February 2010|
|28||The Emperor of Eternity||Nigel Robinson||Second Doctor||March 2010|
|29||Shadow of the Past||Simon Guerrier||Third Doctor||April 2010|
|30||The Time Vampire||Nigel Fairs||Fourth Doctor||May 2010|
|31||Night's Black Agents||Marty Ross||Sixth Doctor||May 2010|
|32||Solitaire||John Dorney||Eighth Doctor||June 2010|
|33||The Guardian of the Solar System||Simon Guerrier||First Doctor||July 2010|
|34||Echoes of Grey||John Dorney||Second Doctor||August 2010|
|35||Find and Replace||Paul Magrs||Third Doctor||September 2010|
|36||The Invasion of E-Space||Andrew Smith||Fourth Doctor||October 2010|
|37||A Town Called Fortune||Paul Sutton||Sixth Doctor||November 2010|
|38||Quinnis||Marc Platt||First Doctor||December 2010|
|39||Peri and the Piscon Paradox||Nev Fountain||January 2011|
|40||The Perpetual Bond||Simon Guerrier||First Doctor||February 2011|
|41||The Forbidden Time||David Lock||Second Doctor||March 2011|
|42||The Sentinels of the New Dawn||Paul Finch||Third Doctor||April 2011|
|43||Ferril's Folly||Peter Anghelides||Fourth Doctor||May 2011|
|44||The Cold Equations||Simon Guerrier||First Doctor||June 2011|
|45||Tales from the Vault||Jonathan Morris||July 2011|
|46||The Rocket Men||John Dorney||First Doctor||August 2011|
|47||The Memory Cheats||Simon Guerrier||Second Doctor||September 2011|
|48||The Many Deaths of Jo Grant||Cavan Scott & Mark Wright||Third Doctor||October 2011|
|49||The First Wave||Simon Guerrier||First Doctor||November 2011|
|50||Beyond the Ultimate Adventure||Terrance Dicks||Sixth Doctor||December 2011|
|51||The Anachronauts||Simon Guerrier||First Doctor||January 2012|
|52||The Selachian Gambit||Steve Lyons||Second Doctor||February 2012|
|53||Binary||Eddie Robson||Third Doctor||March 2012|
|54||The Wanderer||Richard Dinnick||First Doctor||April 2012|
|55||The Jigsaw War||Eddie Robson||Second Doctor||May 2012|
|56||The Rings of Ikiria||Richard Dinnick||Third Doctor||June 2012|
|57||The Time Museum||James Goss||First Doctor||July 2012|
|58||The Uncertainty Principle||Simon Guerrier||Second Doctor||August 2012|
|59||Project: Nirvana||Cavan Scott and Mark Wright||Seventh Doctor||September 2012|
|60||The Last Post||James Goss||Third Doctor||October 2012|
|61||Return of the Rocket Men||Matt Fitton||First Doctor||November 2012|
|62||The Child||Nigel Fairs||Fourth Doctor||December 2012|
|63||The Flames of Cadiz||Marc Platt||First Doctor||January 2013|
|64||House of Cards||Steve Lyons||Second Doctor||February 2013|
|65||The Scorchies||James Goss||Third Doctor||March 2013|
|66||The Library of Alexandria||Simon Guerrier||First Doctor||April 2013|
|67||The Apocalypse Mirror||Eddie Robson||Second Doctor||May 2013|
|68||Council of War||Simon Barnard & Paul Morris||Third Doctor||June 2013|
|69||Mastermind||Jonathan Morris||None||July 2013|
|70||The Alchemists||Ian Potter||First Doctor||August 2013|
|71||Upstairs||Mat Coward||First Doctor||September 2013|
|72||Ghost in the Machine||Jonathan Morris||Third Doctor||October 2013|
|73||The Beginning||Marc Platt||First Doctor||November 2013|
|74||The Dying Light||Nick Wallace||Second Doctor||December 2013|
|75||Luna Romana||Matt Fitton||Fourth Doctor||January 2014|
|76||The Sleeping City||Ian Potter||First Doctor||February 2014|
|77||Starborn||Jacqueline Rayner||First Doctor||March 2014|
|78||The War To End All Wars||Simon Guerrier||First Doctor||April 2014|
|79||The Elixir of Doom||Paul Magrs||Eighth Doctor||May 2014|
|80||Second Chances||John Dorney||Second Doctor||June 2014|
|*||The Three Companions||Marc Platt||Serialised over 12 chapters beginning with AUDIO: The Magic Mousetrap in April 2009|
|*||The Mists of Time||Jonathan Morris||Third Doctor||19th August 2009
(free download with DWM 411)
|*||Freakshow||Mark Morris||Fifth Doctor|| 4th March 2010
(free download with DWM 419)
|*||The Companion Chronicles: The Specials|
(box set compilation of The Three Companions, The Mists of Time, Freakshow)
|*||The Revenants||Ian Potter||First Doctor|| 31st May 2012
(free download with DWM 448)
- The Three Companions was a twelve-part serialised story issued as a bonus with the regular monthly Big Finish Doctor Who releases, beginning with AUDIO: The Magic Mousetrap in April 2009 and concluded with AUDIO: Survival of the Fittest in February 2010. An edited-together version of the story is available in The Companion Chronicles: The Specials box set, released in August 2011.
- Three stories were available for a limited time as free downloadable content for readers of Doctor Who Magazine: The Mists of Time in August 2009 via DWM 411, Freakshow in March 2010 via DWM 419 and The Revenants in May 2012 via DWM 448. The Mists of Time and Freakshow are also available in The Specials box set.