The late John Hurt’s War Doctor ‘Begins’ anew with new star at Big Finish

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Big Finish, in association with BBC Studios, today announced a forthcoming full-cast audio drama series, Doctor Who: The War Doctor Begins, in which newcomer Jonathon Carley will star in four brand-new box sets of adventures for the Doctor’s disavowed alter ego

Due for release starting in June 2021, each volume of the Doctor Who: The War Doctor Begins series is now available for pre-order exclusively from the Big Finish website.

John Hurt as the War Doctor with Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor) and David Tennant (Tenth Doctor) in the 50th anniversary Doctor Who special “The Day of the Doctor.”

The War Doctor was introduced in the 2013 television story, The Name of the Doctor. Originally portrayed by Sir John Hurt, the character appeared in two further stories during Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary year, The Night of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor, before going on to feature in 12 audio adventures at Big Finish. Hurt’s passing in 2017 brought the curtain down on the War Doctor’s further adventures but now his origin story can finally be told.

Actor Jonathon Carley said: “I honestly can’t tell you how much of a privilege and an honor it is to not only be working with the incredibly talented team at Big Finish but also to be playing the War Doctor. It is more than I could ever have expected. 

“Stepping into the sturdy boots of a character established by the late, great Sir John Hurt would be a challenge for any actor. But the team have been so supportive and creative in their approach to exploring further facets of this complex incarnation.  

“This is a cracking set of stories so it will be wonderful to put a spotlight on the rarely glimpsed early life of the War Doctor and the trials he faces, finding his new place in the Time War. I hope listeners are as eager to embrace that journey as I am.” 

“The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose, it’s like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise. He is my secret.” 


Big Finish creative director Nicholas Briggs added: “Jonathon is a real find. Many will be familiar with the uncanny accuracy of his War Doctor vocals from various online projects. But there’s more to a good performance than just an impersonation. You need imagination, emotion, sensitivity… essentially, great acting!  

“I worked really closely with John Hurt on our original The War Doctor releases, and although we only worked together for a short time, such was his commitment, charm and openness that he allowed me to feel something of a connection with him. And I can confidently say that what Jonathon is doing here will be a fitting tribute to John, in honor of his great work in the role.”

Big Finish said further details about Doctor Who: The War Doctor Begins, including writers and story details, will be announced nearer the release date.

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