Sound decision: Revisiting the lost adventures of ‘Doctor Who’

Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Colin Baker Doctor Who

Doctor Who is at the top of its game today, with two popular spinoffs and a bright future — but it wasn’t always so. Many stories in the original series (1963-89) were proposed but never made due to strike or unplanned hiatus. Some even began filming before they were halted by these circumstances; others were written but never made it to film.

SLIDESHOW: The many faces of Doctor Who

Colin Baker and Nicola BryantBig Finish Productions, which for years has been creating full-cast audio adventures starring the original TV actors on CD and as downloads, has decided to resurrect several episodes from Colin Baker’s time as the Time Lord that were abandoned after the show went on an extended hiatus in 1984. Billed as “Doctor Who: The Lost Stories,” the audio dramas will be released starting in January 2010 and star Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Nicola Bryant as his American companion Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown.

“It’s well known that, when Doctor Who was given an enforced hiatus in 1984, plans were very advanced on the upcoming Season 23,” said Lost Stories producer David Richardson in a statement from Big Finish. “None of those scripts ever made it to the screen. Some of them — like The Nightmare Fair by Graham Williams and Mission to Magnus by Philip Martin — were novelised. Others, however, have remained locked away in their respective writers lofts for well over 20 years. It’s taken a lot of (very enjoyable) detective work, but I’ve managed to source seven unmade adventures that will now finally come brilliantly to life on audio.

Big Finish says the full lineup will be revealed in a forthcoming issue of Doctor Who Magazine, but Richardson confirmed in his statement that the first two entries in Lost Stories will be the aforementioned The Nightmare Fair (which features the Celestial Toymaker) and Mission to Magnus (in which profit-hungry slug Sil allies himself with the Ice Warriors).

A REUNION 45 YEARS IN THE MAKING

An Earthly Child from Big Finish ProductionsAlso in the category of unfinished business, Big Finish is reuniting the Doctor with his original companion, his granddaughter Susan Foreman. The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) will visit Earth in the 22nd century, where he left Susan (played by Carole Ann Ford) after she fell in love with an Earthman during a Dalek invasion. Now, he will meet his great-grandson Alex Campbell (played by the actor’s son, Jake McGann). An Earthly Child, named in homage to the very first Doctor Who episode An Unearthly Child, will be available in December as a free gift to subscribers of Big Finish’s monthly Doctor Who titles.

The story is written by Marc Platt, who penned an episode of the original Doctor Who’s final season in 1989 (the spooky Ghost Light) as well as many original Doctor Who novels and Big Finish scripts.

A previous Big Finish play took the “lost story” Shada by Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) — curtailed due to a strike action then simply abandoned save for a halfhearted, pieced-together VHS — and saw it through to completion with McGann taking over Tom Baker’s role in addition to one member of the original cast: Lalla Ward as Romana, the Doctor’s Time Lady companion.

WHAT’S NEXT?

A series as old as Doctor Who has many “lost episodes” that are ripe for the plucking by Big Finish or even the BBC itself for the new series starring David Tennant and soon to star Matt Smith. An unfilmed script like Masters of Luxor or even The Myth Makers — a romp in ancient Troy that was filmed but no longer exists in anything resembling complete form — would be a wonderful contribution to Doctor Who’s future from its storied past.

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Image credits: BBC; Big Finish; Big Finish; BBC

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