The Great War was the first story in the audio anthology Dark Eyes, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Nicholas Briggs and featured Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and introduced Ruth Bradley as the new companion Molly O'Sullivan.
This was the first story to advance the Eighth Doctor's tale forwards following 2011's To the Death. The cover and that of the box set featured a new look for the Eighth Doctor whose appearance on the covers of audios and in their in-universe description had not majorly diverted from his appearance in the 1996 television movie.
But what are the strange sounds coming from the battlefield at night? Where is the glowing gas coming from? And is everyone who they claim to be?
Distraught after the death of Lucie Miller, who perished defeating the Daleks, the Doctor tries to push the TARDIS forward in time to the end of the Universe. He is stopped by the Time Lords and intercepted by their agent, Straxus; such travel is forbidden. The Doctor explains he was looking for hope, his own having run out, and Straxus offers him a mission (previously cleared personally with the Time Lord President) that might give him some.
The Doctor lands in No Man's Land in France during World War I, using his sonic screwdriver to search for something, but is caught in a mustard gas attack. He is picked up by English soldiers and taken with other wounded men to be transported back to a hospital. The Matron in charge confiscates his screwdriver, believing it to be a penny whistle, and he is placed into the care of two Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) workers: Irish servant Molly O'Sullivan and English lady Isabel Stanford. Isabel takes a shine to the Doctor, but Molly thinks he is a charlatan, all charm and no substance - not least because he recovers uncommonly quickly from his exposure to mustard gas.
As the nurses, VADs and wounded leave on a train, soldiers and others report hearing unusual noises that sound like "scraping metal", the source of which they have been unable to see. The train is forced to stop at a break in the tracks, seemingly caused by a shell crater, and one of the soldiers reports a cloud of odd, glowing gas approaching. The Doctor convinces the Matron to return his "penny whistle" and manages to mend the track just in time for the train to continue its journey, but he is almost left behind and is enveloped by the gas before he is rescued. He collapses, complaining of feeling cold, and muttering about "time winds"; he also calls out Lucie's name.
Back at the chateau hospital, the Doctor recovers slowly. Molly and Isabel fight about him, and about Kitty Donaldson, the lady whom Molly served and followed to France. She is dying of gas gangrene in one of the tents reserved for hopeless cases, and Molly hasn't been able to bring herself to visit her since their return. They take the Doctor, still affected by what they think is gas, to Kitty's tent, thinking he is beyond help. Kitty is pleased to see Molly, but reports that she has also heard the metal scraping noises, here in the camp, and seen strange things. Dr Sturgis, one of the American doctors assisting at the hospital, visits the tent and decides the Doctor is an excellent candidate for their experimental blood transfusion treatment. He begins to recover, but just as the mysterious glowing gas again appears, enveloping the tent and killing Kitty. The Doctor identifies the "gas" as time winds, leaking into World War I from the time vortex; dangerous for a Time Lord, but deadly to many other life forms. Sturgis and Molly dismiss his ideas as delusional, and against his protestations, he is taken by Sturgis to the chateau with Isabel's help.
Inside, Sturgis restrains the Doctor, who appeals to Isabel to free him as the treatment will be fatal for a Time Lord. When she moves to help, Sturgis kills her. Molly arrives and Sturgis claims the Doctor killed Isabel, forcing him to restrain his patient, but Molly is suspicious and eventually believes the Doctor's innocence and unties him. Sturgis does not attack them - but his masters, the Daleks, arrive. The Doctor, having discovered that Molly is the person he was tracking with his sonic screwdriver, persuades her to flee with him as the Daleks attack, destroying the chateau.
Meanwhile, in another time and place, a mysterious individual known as Kotris discussed his plans with the Daleks.
- The Doctor - Paul McGann
- Molly O'Sullivan - Ruth Bradley
- Straxus - Peter Egan
- Lord President - Tim Treloar
- Isabel Stanford - Laura Molyneaux
- Dr Sturgis - Jonathan Forbes
- Matron/Kitty Donaldson/Nurse Harriet - Beth Chalmers
- Kotris - Toby Jones
- Private Tucker - Alex Mallinson
- Private Hodgeson - John Banks
- The Daleks - Nicholas Briggs
- The United States has not yet entered the war.
- Prior to the outbreak of the war, Molly served as Kitty Donaldson's chambermaid in her parents' house in London.
- The Doctor refers to Kaiser Wilhelm II.
- After the TARDIS materialises in No Man's Land, the Doctor begins to sing the British music hall song "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" to himself. He is almost immediately the victim of a mustard gas attack, which he claims can be fatal even to a Gallifreyan.
- The supposed glowing gases are in actuality time winds which are leaking through to World War I-era France from the Time Vortex.
- Tanks have yet to be introduced to the war; Tucker believes the Doctor is referring to water containers when he mentions them.
- This story won an Audio Award in the category of Best Online or Non-Broadcast Audio Drama in January 2014.
- This story features a complete new look for the Eighth Doctor, being the first Big Finish adventure to change the Doctor's style from the TV series. There are elements of the Ninth Doctor in the Eighth Doctor's new look, notably the leather jacket and the revamped sonic screwdriver. Similar elements would also be worn by the War Doctor. Graphic designer Alex Mallinson said the costume "bridged the gap" with the new series in DWM 454, noting the influence of Eccleston. A different look is seen in the television story The Night of the Doctor, more closely resembling the original design.
- Although the Doctor is described as having his characteristic long hair throughout the story, he is depicted as having short hair on the CD cover. The change in costume does not actually occur from a narrative perspective until the second story in the boxset, Fugitives.
- This audio drama was recorded on 1, 18, 19 and 20 June 2012 at The Moat Studios.
- This story was offered as a free download with DWM 467, along with a number of other "Part Ones".
- The Doctor mentions that Straxus has a new face, referring to the fact that he has regenerated since their last encounter. The Doctor comments that he still has the same supercilious expression irrespective of his incarnation. (AUDIO: The Vengeance of Morbius)
- Straxus reminds the Doctor that he stole the TARDIS. (TV: Logopolis, The Big Bang, The Doctor's Wife, AUDIO: The Beginning)
- The Doctor refers to his granddaughter Susan Campbell, whom he initially believes has betrayed him to the Time Lords, and the death of Lucie Miller. (AUDIO: To the Death)
- The Laws of Time forbid the Time Lords from witnessing the end of the universe. (TV: Utopia)
- Molly sarcastically refers to Isabel Stanford as "Florence Nightingale". The Seventh Doctor's companion Hex once met her in Scutari in the Ottoman Empire in October 1854 during the Crimean War. (AUDIO: The Angel of Scutari)
- During his seventh incarnation, the Doctor, Ace and Hex visited another World War I era French military hospital, namely Charnage Hospital, in 1917. (AUDIO: No Man's Land)
- Due to the fact that Kotris was erased from history, these events never happened. The Doctor, Molly and the Dalek time controller are the only individuals who remember the original timeline. (AUDIO: X and the Daleks)
- The Eighth Doctor also sang "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" in PROSE: EarthWorld.
- Official Dark Eyes page at bigfinish.com
- Part 1 of 6 in Big Finish Podcast July 11 2016
- Part 2 of 6 in Big Finish Podcast July 18 2016
- Part 3 of 6 in Big Finish Podcast August 1 2016
- Part 4 of 6 in Big Finish Podcast August 8 2016
- Part 5 of 6 in Big Finish Podcast August 15 2016
- Part 6 of 6 in Big Finish Podcast August 22 2016