In December 2015, the Time War will rage and only one man can save us. John Hurt is The War Doctor!

John Hurt, the world-renowned star of film and television, is returning to the role of The War Doctor, in twelve full-cast Doctor Who audio plays.

The War Doctor was introduced for Doctor Who’s Fiftieth Anniversary, and played a key part in the record-breaking television special The Day of the Doctor, alongside David Tennant and Matt Smith’s Doctors. He is the secret incarnation of the Time Lord — but he has shunned the title ‘Doctor’ in order to fight in the Time War against the Daleks.

The War Doctor at Big Finish

“I have been a huge fan of John since first seeing him in the repeats of I, Claudius in the 1980s and in his Oscar-nominated role as the eponymous The Elephant Man,’ says Big Finish executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery. ‘Watching his performance in The Day of the Doctor I did find myself fantasising that some far off day we might have the chance to work with him on the audio adventures of Doctor Who and now two short years later it’s happened! John wove a fantastic character together from a great script by Steven Moffat. Now we have the chance to get to know that character more and hear John stretch in the role. We’re all in for a hell of a ride as the War Doctor engages in battle. But who are the greater threat – the Daleks or the Time Lords?”

The audio adventures of The War Doctor will be told over four box sets, each containing three linked hour-long episodes. The first box set is entitled Only The Monstrous, and is written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, whose many successes for Big Finish include the BBC Audio Award-winning masterpiece Doctor Who: Dark Eyes.

“The story of the Doctor who refuses to call himself the Doctor in order to do the unthinkable upon the ultimate battlefield — all of space and time — was irresistible to me,” says Nicholas. “Such a deeply disturbing and engaging character created by the formidable talents of writer Steven Moffat and actor John Hurt. It’s such a privilege to be working on this.”

The cast of The War Doctor also includes Jacqueline Pearce, who plays Time Lord Cardinal Ollistra — an arch manipulator who is waging the Time War against the Daleks. Jacqueline’s work includes The Avengers, Callan, Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time, Moondial and Russell T Davies’ Dark Season, and she is known to many science fiction fans for her role as Servalan in the cult classic Blake’s 7.

Only The Monstrous will be released in December 2015, and will be followed in February 2016 by the second volume, Infernal Devices, which is written by John Dorney, Phil Mulryne and Matt Fitton. Volumes Three and Four are currently in pre-production.

“What an utter privilege it is to work with such an iconic actor, playing such a brilliantly devised role,” says producer David Richardson. “This is Doctor Who at its darkest — the era in which our hero casts aside his core values in order to try and save the galaxy in its most terrible hour. We promise bold and brilliant story-telling with gripping character drama, and epic and cinematic audio productions.”

In addition to The War Doctor, November 2017 also sees a prequel box set to the saga, Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor — The Time War, which will follow the early stages of the Time War from the Eighth Doctor’s perspective. Paul McGann stars, alongside characters first introduced in the War Doctor box sets.

You can pre-order all four box sets of Doctor Who: The War Doctor, plus Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor – The Time War today from the Big Finish website, priced just £20 each on both CD and Download, or all five available in a single bundle for easy ordering. Pre-orders on CD have free UK postage, and anyone buying on CD through the Big Finish website gets access to the Download version on release.

As the ninth series of the revived Doctor Who dawns executive producer and lead writer Steven Moffat has unveiled the titles and teasing snippets of information about each of the 12 episodes.

Doctor Who series 9 promo

The Magician’s Apprentice

Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Hettie MacDonald

What’s a confession dial?”

In your terms, a will. This is the last will and testament of the Time Lord known as the Doctor.

A final message from a dying scientist. A plea from the deadliest corner of time and space. Only one man can answer, but he has gone missing from all of time and space. Where is the Doctor? As the skies of planet Earth stand frozen, Clara Oswald enters into a dangerous alliance.

The Doctor is gone from the universe – friends and enemies alike can find him nowhere. When even the Daleks can’t track down their ancient foe, and the Doctor’s old friend and nemesis, Missy, is forced to ask for help, does it mean that the mad man in the box has truly disappeared? What fear, or what terrible shame, could possibly drive the Doctor into the shadows? The answers are more dreadful than Clara’s worst imaginings, and she finds herself embarking on a journey into the Doctor’s worst nightmare …

The Witch’s Familiar

Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Hettie MacDonald

The Doctor is trapped. He’s a prisoner of the creatures who hate him most in the universe. Between us and him is everything the greatest warrior race in history can throw at us. We, on the other hand, have a pointy stick.”

There are places the Doctor should never go. Planets where his life would not be worth an hour’s purchase. When he finds himself in the very worst of these, without his Tardis, or his sonic, and with his best friends murdered in front of his eyes, he has only his wits to keep him alive. And perhaps something else. What is the Doctor’s confession? Why did he really leave Gallifrey all those centuries ago? And is it a secret he is willing to give up?

Under the Lake

Written by Toby Whithouse. Directed by Daniel O’Hara

It’s impossible! It’s evil! I hate it! It’s astonishing! I want to KISS IT TO DEATH.

Under a lake, in the dripping gloom of an underwater base, stands a gleaming black space ship, recovered from the lake bed. Nothing is inside – but when the base crew start dying, they make a terrible discovery: ghosts are real! And their friends are refusing to stay dead! The Doctor and Clara arrive to find a base under siege from beyond the grave. But how can the dead be walking? What has brought them back? When the Doctor discovers the truth, it is more terrifying than any simple ghost story.

Before The Flood

Written by Toby Whithouse. Directed by Daniel O’Hara

Doctor. Hello. Can I just say: huge fan.”

In the eerie remains of a town that never was, something is stalking the Doctor and his friends. A desperate battle for survival is underway, but this time our heroes already know which of them is going to lose. With the past and the future hanging in the balance, the Doctor is breaking the rules to win the day. Can anything stop the Fisher King? And more importantly, who composed Beethoven’s 5th?

The Girl Who Died

Written by Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat. Directed by Ed Bazalgette

There’s going to be a war tomorrow. And here’s some news, this just in – we are going to win the hell out it!”

In a backwater of history, in a little Viking village where all the warriors have just been slaughtered, a young girl called Ashildr is about to make a desperate mistake. The Mire are the deadliest mercenaries in the galaxy, famed for being unstoppable and without mercy – and Ashildr has just declared war on them. The Doctor and Clara have twelve hours, to turn a handful of farmers and blacksmiths into a fighting force ready to face down Odin himself. And there’s more – because this is the day when the Doctor remembers where he’s seen his own face before.

The Woman Who Lived

Written by Catherine Tregenna. Directed by Ed Bazalgette

Ninja, nun, surgeon, scientist, composer, inventor… it’s a fantastic CV.”

England, 1651. The highwayman known as The Nightmare is plaguing the land. But the Nightmare is not all he seems, and his fire-breathing accomplice who lurks in the shadows is clearly more than human… The Doctor, on the trail of an alien artefact, is brought face to the face with the consequences of his own actions. For once he encounters someone who won’t let him turn his back on the things he has done. But will the Nightmare be his friend or foe? It may well take till the end of the universe to be sure…

The Zygon Invasion

Written by Peter Harness. Directed by Daniel Nettheim

Operation Double is a covert operation, outside of normal UNIT strictures, to resettle and rehouse an alien race, in secrecy, on planet Earth.

A long time ago, the Doctor made a deal in the Tower Of London. 20 million Zygons walk among us, in human form, living undetected in peace and harmony. But cracks are showing in this delicate peace. Humans and Zygons are disappearing. In city apartment blocks, lifts are going missing, and far below the streets of Britain, alien pods are growing in secret caverns. Unit’s scientific advisor, Osgood, sends a desperate message to the Doctor – but since Osgood is long dead, how is that even possible?

The Zygon Inversion

Written by Peter Harness and Steven Moffat. Directed by Daniel Nettheim

Humans cannot accept us the way we really are. If we cannot hide, we must fight. You’re going to be the first. You’re going to be the first to make the humans see.

The future of planet Earth is sealed in a box in Unit’s back archive, and only the Doctor knows what’s inside. With Unit under Zygon control, and Clara lost, the Doctor and Osgood find themselves fugitives in a London where no one can be trusted – but the wily old Time Lord knows there is one last hope for peace. Because that box in the black archive isn’t any old box. It’s an Osgood Box!

Sleep No More

Written By Mark Gatiss. Directed by Justin Molotnikov

This is footage collected from a space rescue mission. If you value your life, your sanity, and the future of your species, DO NOT WATCH IT.

Face The Raven

Written by Sarah Dollard. Directed by Justin Molotnikov

There have always been rumours. Stories passed from traveller to traveller, mutterings about hidden streets, secret pockets of alien life right here on Earth.”

Have you ever found yourself in a street you’ve never seen before? The next day, could you not find that street again? You weren’t dreaming. Your memory isn’t playing tricks. Like many lost souls throughout the ages, you have stumbled on an extraordinary secret – be grateful you survived it. The Doctor and Clara, with their old friend Rigsy, find themselves in a secret alien world, folded away among the streets of London. Not all of them will get out alive. One of the three intruders must face the raven…

Heaven Sent

Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Rachel Talalay

When, at last, you rise to go, there will be another shadow next to yours. And your life will then be over.”

In a world unlike any other he has seen, the Doctor faces the greatest challenge of his many lives. And he must face it alone.

Hell Bent

Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Rachel Talalay

Is it a sad song?”

“Nothing’s sad till it’s over. Then everything is.”

“What’s it called?”

“I think it’s called Clara.”

“Tell me about her.”

If you took everything from him, and betrayed him, and trapped him, and broke both his hearts… how far might the Doctor go? It is time, at last, for the Doctor’s confession.

The exact circumstances behind Christopher Eccleston’s departure from Doctor Who​ after just one series remain unknown. From various interviews he’s given over the last decade it seems clear that there was a clash between himself and members of the production team over the working ethos of the programme that left him uncomfortable and not prepared to carry on.

On the one hand fans praise him for his performance as the Ninth Doctor and his key role in reviving the series, and then on the other they lambast him for his short tenure and non-participation in The Day of the Doctor.

The most recent titbit about his departure emerged in this interview on Radio 4’s Loose Ends where he mentions that “myself and three other individuals at the top of the pyramid clashed”. Whether this is a reference to Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner, and Producer Phil Collinson, is unclear and Eccleston quite properly refuses to elaborate as those concerned aren’t present to put their view of events.

Each and every time Eccleston has been quizzed about his departure from Doctor Who he’s behaved in a professional and courteous manner on a subject that he must be tiring of after a decade. Granted he’s on occasion ended an interview when the subject has been raised but this would come after the interviewer had been specifically requested beforehand not to mention Doctor Who. If the agreed rules of the game are broken then Eccleston has every right to walk. As he mentions in this interview (in which he’s very relaxed and lighthearted when the subject of Doctor Who is raised) everyone should concentrate at the fact that he turned up in the first place not that he left. He also reaffirmed that he actively pursued Russell T Davies for the chance to portray the Doctor, and that one of the reasons for this was his desire to play a role that appealed to children.

One day Christopher Eccleston will give an interview that reveals definitively why he only did 13 episodes of Doctor Who and then left the Ninth Doctor firmly in the past. But that will come when he’s ready and when he’s discussed the matter with the other parties concerned. Until that day fans should simply enjoy the era of the Ninth Doctor.

And when the 60th anniversary special of Doctor Who arrives I’d put money on the presence of Christopher Eccleston’s fantastic Ninth Doctor.

As the tenth anniversary of the revival of Doctor Who approaches Big Finish Productions have announced that for the first time they will be allowed to produce material based upon elements of the 21st century incarnation of the Doctor’s adventures.

UNIT Extinction starring Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart

Jemma Redgrave will appear as Kate Stewart in a new series of audio dramas entitled UNIT – The New Series beginning in November 2015. The full release from Big Finish reads:

Big Finish is delighted to announce that Kate Stewart and her UNIT team from the Doctor Who TV series will be starring in a brand new series of audio dramas, in a licensing deal with BBC Worldwide.

Kate is the daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, and Head of Scientific Research at the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, which investigates and confronts alien attacks on the planet Earth. The role is portrayed by Jemma Redgrave (Dracula, Frankie, Cold Blood) who has appeared opposite Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi on television, and returns for the audio series.

“We’re thrilled that Jemma is on board for our brand new UNIT adventures,” says series producer David Richardson, “and we feel privileged to work within the universe of New Series Doctor Who for the first time. UNIT: Extinction will showcase all the excitement, drama and wit that viewers of Doctor Who love.”

“Having worked with the greatly missed Nicholas Courtney and his magnificent portrayal of the Brigadier since the early days of Big Finish, it is wonderful to see the return of UNIT under the Brig’s daughter,” says executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery. “We are all very excited about bringing UNIT back to Big Finish with the next generation and look forward immensely to working with Jemma again, who appears in this month’s Doctor Who main range release Doctor Who – Mistfall.”

“I’m really excited to hear Jemma and her team battling to save the Earth,” says executive producer Nick Briggs. “They’ve been such an important part of the many exciting things to come out of the Doctor Who TV series in recent years.”

Additional cast members for the first box set, UNIT: Extinction, will be revealed later. This first box set release comprises four hours of adventure, in which Kate and her team confront an alien invasion by the Nestene Consciousness and its army of plastic Autons.

UNIT: Extinction will be released in November 2015, and is available for specially-priced pre-order, with all pre-orders getting a copy of Nicholas Courtney’s memoirs A Soldier in Time as a free download as Supplementary content in Big Finish accounts.

Three additional box sets will be available at six monthly intervals, with all four available for a Bundled pre-order. For many more details, watch this space in coming months.

The awarding of the licence for UNIT – The New Series is a massive step forward in the door being opened for Big Finish being permitted to make new adventures with the concepts and characters of the 21st century series, and without doubt would not have happened without the support of the current television production team headed up by Steven Moffat.

What odds a second spin-off in the form of The Paternoster Gang with Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax within the next year or so? A crossover of these characters with Jago & Litefoot would undoubtedly set Doctor Who fandom afire.

David Tennant is a self-confessed fan of Big Finish (having appeared in several of their productions before being cast as the Doctor) so The Tenth Doctor Adventures come 2017?

Death in Heaven falls upon the Earth as the dead rise from their graves and the Doctor battles to save humanity from the machinations of his oldest enemy.

Oh, don’t be so slow, it’s embarrassing. Who could fool you, like this? Who could hide right under your nose? Who could change their face any time they want? Hmm. You see, I’m not Clara Oswald. Clara Oswald has never existed.

By the conclusion of Death in Heaven two things are abundantly clear. Firstly, Peter Capaldi’s a magnificent Doctor, quite possibly the best NuWho incarnation. Secondly, it’s way past time for Steven Moffat to relinquish his stewardship of the series. Series 8’s finale is one of the most nonsensically disjointed stories ever delivered under the banner of Doctor Who. It’s stuffed fuller than a Christmas turkey with Moffat’s increasing desire to produce illogical shock revelations. The writer’s fallen in love with his own supposed cleverness and sacrificed all attempts to produce a coherent narrative flow.

Doctor Who - S8 E12 Death in Heaven

Clara’s claim to be the Doctor (accompanied by Jenna Coleman’s name coming first in the opening credits and her eyes appearing in place of Peter Capaldi’s) is Moffat’s most ludicrous, idiotic and plain stupid supposed shock revelation to date. Emerging from nowhere with zero buildup it’s sole intention seems aimed at getting fans trending Doctor Who on social media as their fervour ignites. Everything’s then shot down as logic kicks in. Come on, all the bloody Cybermen had to do was scan Clara to realise that she’s not a Time Lord. She may have been a pseudo-Doctor in Flatline but it’s patently obvious that she’s not a future or alternate version of the genuine article. Read the rest of this entry »

Louder Than Words. The final song from The Endless River – the final Pink Floyd album

The nature of death itself provides the backdrop for the return of two old adversaries as Steven Moffat’s Dark Water plunges Doctor Who into contentious territory with its risqué adult-orientated themes.

Danny, I’ll never say those words again. Not to anybody else, ever. Those words, from me, are yours now.

It’s nigh on impossible to comprehend that Dark Water stems from the same creative mind as the writer who kicked off Peter Capaldi’s time as the Twelfth Doctor with the atmospheric brilliance of Deep Breath. After being excised for the first 10 episodes of Series 8, all that’s been bad about Steven Moffat’s oversight of Doctor Who makes an unwelcome comeback. As was the case with The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor, stupidity is rife. Ludicrous character development, inappropriate sexual innuendo, supposed jaw dropping shock revelations that fail to stand up to sober followup consideration.

Doctor Who - S8 E11 Dark Water

If Amy (Karen Gillan) had threatened to destroy all the TARDIS keys in order to blackmail the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) into bringing Rory (Arthur Darvill) back from the dead, the shock to the audience would have been profound. Not so much the shock of Rory being dead (that tended to happen a lot) but more that Amy was prepared to betray her beloved Raggedy Man. Gillan and Darvill had fantastic characters and genuine chemistry in that respect, even when the writing got ropier towards the end of their tenure.

Clara (Jenna Coleman) throwing away everything she’s built with the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors for the sake of the sopping wet blanket that’s Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) is patently ridiculous. Since his introduction in Into the Dalek this ex-soldier turned maths teacher has remained utterly devoid of an interesting personality, despite emotional chains wrapped tight around him. The intimation that Danny killed a child during his military service in Afghanistan receives confirmation in Dark Water. And it leaves an unsavoury aftertaste as Doctor Who is dragged into the real world in an unpleasant fashion. Granted the bullet-ridden corpse of the Afghan child Danny shoots in the fog of war isn’t shown but the implication is there and the results too easily imagined. The realistic representation of warfare isn’t appropriate for Doctor Who. Imagine a Patrick Troughton story featuring a massacre during the Vietnam war or a Tom Baker story revolving around the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Read the rest of this entry »

The Doctor is powerless as the Tree Age comes to Earth. The planet is on the brink of destruction. And not even the sonic screwdriver can help him this time!

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

For generations to come the children of Earth will be taught how trees sprouted planet wide overnight in order to protect their world from the onslaught of an apocalyptic solar flare. Eventually fact will become fairytale and legend as all good truths do. No need to mention the presence in London at the time of the mysterious Time Lord known as the Doctor in London – he’s completely superfluous to what unfolded.

Doctor Who - S8 E10 In the Forest of the Night

You people, you never learn. If a child is speaking, listen to it!

That’s right the Doctor is completely unnecessary to the plot of In the Forest of the Night. Nothing he does in this episode affects the outcome. The Doctor spends his time blundering around the newly manifested forests trying his best not to get himself, or the children on an overnight outing from Coal Hill School, eaten by an escaped tiger. Read the rest of this entry »

Flatline is a classic NuWho adventure. It’s a glowing advert for the potentiality of a female Doctor, an ingenious twist on the “Doctor-lite” format and a slice of old school horrific Doctor Who.

Could you not just let me enjoy this moment of not knowing something? I mean. it happens so rarely.

All too frequently in NuWho the Doctor’s armed with almost omniscient foreknowledge of his foe of the week. Here in Flatline he’s completely in the dark about the two-dimensional beings he comes to label as “The Boneless”. For once the Doctor’s immense deductive skills and scientific knowledge are showcased rather than simply witnessing him reciting from his prodigious memory. It’s a fantastic journey for the audience as the Doctor frantically pick over clues, develops and rejects theories, and strives to protect his home and the Earth from destruction. It’s a reminder of a time when he’d open the doors of the TARDIS without any clue of where, what or who laid beyond the sanctuary of his timeship.

Doctor Who - S8 E9 Flatline

Despite being confined to the TARDIS console room for the majority of the episode (a return of the “Doctor-lite” stories that featured in the David Tennant years) Peter Capaldi is once again mesmerising as the Twelfth Doctor. Nine episodes in and he’s well on the way to being one of the greatest Doctors of all time. The fine balancing act between the Twelfth Doctor’s scariness and benevolence is becoming more apparent as his first series heads towards its conclusion. Yes he’s often a frightening presence for the unwary but he remains the universe’s greatest champion against evil. And in Flatline Clara gets a rare insight into his nature as she’s to forced to assume his mantle… Read the rest of this entry »

The Doctor and Clara reunite for a final outing together aboard the Orient Express. In space. Just one small problem. There’s a killer mummy on the loose. And once someone has seen it they’ve only 66 seconds left to live…

There’s a body AND there’s a mummy. I mean, can you not just get on a train? Did a wizard put a curse on you about mini-breaks?

Taking its lead from Agatha Christie’s most famous whodunnit, Murder on the Orient Express, Jamie Mathieson’s impressive debut script for Doctor Who, is one of the most rounded and enjoyable adventures for the Time Lord in quite a while. “The Queen of Crime” meets Universal Horror’s 1932 The Mummy and Hammer Horror’s 1959 The Mummy.

A gloriously lavish, scary, entertaining base-under-siege romp, Mummy on the Orient Express also contains strong echoes of Horror Express, the criminally underrated 1972 Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee starring horror yarn set aboard the Trans-Siberian Express in 1906. This is a film worth hunting down simply for Cushing’s classic line of “Monster? We’re British, you know” in retort to the suggestion that he or Lee may have been infected by the mind transferring monster.

Doctor Who - S8 E8 Mummy on the Orient Express

Peter Capaldi’s lugubrious Twelfth Doctor and the fastidious little Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who investigated the original Murder on the Orient Express, are polar opposites in terms of character and appearance. Looking reminiscent of a Victorian undertaker, the Doctor spends much of Mummy on the Orient Express predicting doom, death and destruction. Capaldi’s Doctor owes much to the obsessive anti-heroes that Cushing and Lee played during their years at Hammer Horror, Amicus Productions, and other cinematic horror outings. Ultimately on the side of the angels but unafraid to use dark methods to achieve their victories. Read the rest of this entry »