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A long-running radio series produced by Big Finish. Starring the actors who play the Doctor on TV, and written and produced by some of the regular Doctor Who crew, the series is a well-loved and high-quality collection of the Doctor's adventures. The episodes are part of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe (rather than the Whoniverse TV show canon).

After the Made for TV Movie with Paul McGann in 1996, Doctor Who fans were left with only the ongoing series of novels (the Virgin New Adventures tied up in 1997, followed closely by the Eighth Doctor Adventures) and the Doctor Who Magazine comics to sate their time-traveling cravings. After producing a series of audio dramas for former companion Benny Summerfield, in 1999 Big Finish finally nabbed the license to produce new audio dramas starring the original Doctors... well, those still alive and willing to appear, numbers Four to Eight. The main range releases a new 4-part story every month.

On top of that, there are also the "Lost Stories", stories intended for Classic Who but never made, and the Companion Chronicles, two-man stories performed by former companions. The Eighth Doctor temporarily left the main range from 2007 to 2011, where his stories were moved into his own series of eight, 40 minute tales, much more akin to the new TV series, and the Fourth Doctor currently stars in his own series.

Big Finish is not legally able to use any elements or characters from the revived 2005 series because BBC Audio holds the license for New Who audiobooks, but this doesn't really slow them down any. The occasionally sneaky reference is thrown in.[1] Similarly, while Big Finish can use the Eighth Doctor, lingering licensing issues has prevented Big Finish from using Grace Holloway or Chang Lee, the Doctor's companions in the TV Movie, in audio dramas. [2]

Now has a recap page that is quite bare, so contribute and help build it if you can.

Tropes

  • And I Must Scream: Davros's description of his imprisonment, turned Up to Eleven.
  • Arc Number: The number 45 shows up frequently in "Forty-Five" in speech, writing, or other instances (such as soldiers carrying .45 caliber weapons). It is revealed that the appearance of the number 45 is caused by the engines of the CORDIS, a non-physical ship piloted by the Word Lord Nobody No-one, and is analogous to the sound made by the Doctor's TARDIS.
  • Ascended Fanon: The titles for the Seventh Doctor's Lost Stories weren't Andrew Cartmel's preferred ones, but since they'd become established in fanon courtesy of a speculative Doctor Who Magazine article, they decided to go with them (apart from Ice Time, which is now Thin Ice). The intended titles were Action at a Distance for Crime of the Century, Bad Destination for Earth Aid, and Blood and Iron for Animal (Though, to be fair, DWM were the ones who revealed the intended titles as well).
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Light City in The Natural History of Fear.
  • Bait the Dog: At first Red Jasper in Doctor Who and the Pirates seems like a Laughably Evil, Large Ham, pirate that doesn't do anything. Then he cuts out a guy's tongue and forces him to eat it. Hurrah for the Pirate King...
  • Brown Note: In an interesting variation, the monster in Nocturne is a living brown note.
  • Captain Ersatz: Dark Space Eight from Bang-Bang-a-Boom! is clearly supposed to be Deep Space Nine. The same drama mentions another station called Achilles 4 that is described as the last best hope for peace.
  • Character Development: A few characters, mostly the Big Finish-only companions, are given arcs in which to grow. The Sixth Doctor is also given an in-universe reason to mellow out, although he's still plenty boastful about himself afterwards, just less jerkassy.[3]
  • Character Focus: A few. The loosely tied trilogy of Omega, Davros and Master each focused on...well, the villains Omega, Davros and The Master.
  • Classy Cat Burglar: Lady Lilian Hawthorne, a.k.a. "Janus", from The Veiled Leopard.
    • Raine Creevy, from Crime of the Century going forward, seems to be this too.
  • Cool Old Guy: Governor Rossiter from Arrangements for War and Thicker Than Water. Voiced by Sutekh, no less! And he's not even remotely evil!
  • Cool Old Lady: Evelyn Smythe. Awesome enough to mellow out Six.
  • Cross Through: A few arcs will pit different Doctors against the same villain / species. Charley's arc is a particularly odd example, as she first meets up with Eight and goes on to travel with Six.
  • Cuckoo Nest: The 8th Doctor audio drama "Minuet in Hell"
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: One of the story elements in Spare Parts, which is often considered one of the best Cybermen stories out there.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Eighth Doctor has his moments, particularly when he tells someone that he's really glad the guy's going to kill them all on purpose. Because he'd hate to think that someone would do something that monumentally stupid by accident.
  • Determinator: As Eight will tell you, whatever happens, the Doctor does not give up. In Zagreus, the fact that he might have given up, even for a second, not only risks his injuries killing him, with no regeneration, but confused the hell out of his prior incarnations that were gathered around him.
  • Downer Ending: To the Death.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Frobisher stars in The Maltese Penguin.
  • Evil Is Hammy: The Eighth, to the extent they should rename it Face Ham Turn in his honor. Except for those times when he isn't, as in The Natural History of Fear. Then he's just goddamn terrifying.
    • Davros also, but that almost goes without saying.
  • Eye Scream: In Night Thoughts something is going around and ripping out people's eyes.
  • Good with Numbers: The Boy That Time Forgot. Block transfer computations. That is all.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Subverted (boy, is it ever) with Queen Angvia, who's built like a butch Valkyrie and has the lung capacity to match.

 Doctor: But I have to go! The fate of the entire universe is at stake!

Angvia: The Universe can VAIT! I AM A VOMAN!!

  • Heroic BSOD: At the end of Arrangements for War, the Sixth Doctor suffers a massive one following the pointless deaths of Marcus and Krisztina, two young lovebirds he'd been befriending the past few months. He's a scant few milimetres of ignoring all the laws of time to undo it, before Evelyn manages to stop him.

 Sixth Doctor: This wasn't supposed to happen. This wasn't supposed to happen!

  • Identical Stranger: Apparently, Peri is a dead ringer for Queen Anne of France.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune:
    • Zagreus sits inside your head, Zagreus lives among the dead, Zagreus sees you in your bed and eats you when you're sleeping...
    • Night Thoughts had... something... whistling "Oranges and Lemons" while it went around ripping out people's eyes.
    • The Chimes of Midnight likewise gave "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" this treatment. Sensing a pattern yet?
  • Is That a Threat?: In The Faith Stealer, the leader of a religious cult confronts the local Sheriff-equivilent.

 Bordinan: Are you threatening me?

Carder: Come come Bordinan, we're both adults here...of course I'm threatening you.

  • Just One Second Out of Sync: Time Works has The Doctor, Charley and C'rizz landing in the space between seconds used by the Time Keepers to make sure everyone stays absolutely punctual. Halfway through Part One, the Doctor ends up falling into the normal flow of events while Charley and C'rizz end up exploring the back corridors of time.
  • Language Equals Thought: No one is allowed to ask questions in Light City in Natural History of Fear and Alternate Timeline!England in Jubilee bans contractions.
  • Large Ham: It is Doctor Who, what did you expect?
    • Special mention to Sylvester McCoy in Unregenerate!, where Seven comes down with a case of Obfuscating Insanity. You can almost hear the bacon frying.
  • Light Is Not Good: Light City from The Natural History of Fear is a 1984-esque dystopia that mind rapes its citizens who dare ask questions.
  • Marshmallow Hell: A female alien forces the Seventh Doctor into this in Bang-Bang-A-Boom!
  • Motive Rant: The story Davros starts off with the title character giving an absolutely epic one, summing up his entire character masterfully.
  • Musical Episode: Doctor Who and the Pirates, or The Lass That Lost a Sailor; episode 3 is 20 minutes of Colin Baker, Bill Oddie and company breaking into song. It's awesome.
  • Not Quite Dead: The Boy That Time Forgot. Adric comes back. As a heavily-aged insane reality-bending giant insect god-king. Wow.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Every so often Big Finish will bring back a not-very-well-regarded monster or villain from the classic series and make them goddamn terrifying.
  • The Oner: Scherzo, featuring only the Eighth Doctor and his companion Charley.
  • Painting the Medium: The Natural History of Fear does this brilliantly. The voices of the three main characters sound like the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C'rizz...but they sure behave oddly. Because they had their own memories removed and our trio's memories implanted.
  • Pantomime: The One Doctor and Bang-Bang-A-Boom! were done in the style of one.
  • Playing with Syringes: The Forge, a mysterious organization run by cyborg vampire mad scientist Nimrod, gets up to everything from creating vampires to brainwashing soldiers during WWII to cloning the Doctor himself.
  • Real Life Relative: In An Earthly Child, Paul McGann's real-life son plays the Doctor's great-grandson.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: Being in a dimension without time renders Eight's time senses useless, which renders him more than a little crabby.
  • Shakespeare in Fiction: Last seen getting plastered with the Fifth Doctor in The Kingmaker. Then he became Richard the Third. And vice versa.
  • Shoot the Dog: Seven in Night Thoughts.
  • Shout-Out/To Shakespeare
  • Show Within a Show: An, erm,...reinterpreted Doctor Who appears in Jubilee. Yes, it's Doctor Who within Doctor Who.

 "The Doctor": Daleks. I hate these guys.

Dalek: Oh no! It is the Doc-tor! Scar-per! Scar-per!

  • Sophisticated As Hell: Classic example by the Seventh Doctor to an Eldritch Abomination in The Shadow of the Scourge:

 Doctor: As William Shakespeare once said to me, come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.

  • Street Urchin: Sometimes-companion Thomas Brewster.
  • Theme Song Reveal: At The Stinger of The Girl Who Never Was, Charley has been stranded on a desert island, after foiling another Cyberman plot. Unbeknownst to her, the Eighth Doctor believes they've parted company and has continued on his merry way. She nonetheless hears the TARDIS landing and rushes inside...

 Charley: I knew it! I knew you'd come back! I kne-...oh! Sorry. I...I was expecting someone else.

Sixth Doctor theme music starts playing

  • Tomato Surprise: The Natural History of Fear.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: The Eighth Doctor in "Phobos". When facing a monster that feeds on adrenaline but is harmed by actual fear, the Doctor conquers it effortlessly by showing it his own mind. He starts by feeding it memories of all the things he's seen in the past, followed by all the evil he's seen from the future... and as a final blow, all the things he's afraid he might do someday. The whole Crowning Moment of Awesome takes several minutes, with the Doctor continuously mocking the monster throughout. Oh, and he does it while bungee jumping into the monster's transdimensional portal.
  • Wham! Line: The end of episode 2 of Dust Breeding features the surprise, out of the blue appearance by an old foe [4].

 Klemp: Who are you!?

Mr Seta: I am The Master, and you will obey me.

 Frobisher: I began to wish for one of those nick-of-time rescues. The sort that never happen in private eye stories, worse luck. Only in science fiction nonsense.

The TARDIS materialises, saving him in the nick of time.

Notes

  1. Such as the Seventh Doctor telling a character the current TARDIS configuration was better than the "leopard skin", the Sixth Doctor reassuring a companion that the "assembled hordes of Genghis Khan" couldn't break into it, the Fifth Doctor being left a message from a "big eared Northern chap", and Richard the Third sounding suspiciously like Christopher Eccleston. And the Word Lord called Nobody No One is essentially the Tenth Doctor's evil alternate universe counterpart.
  2. However, Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso have appeared either singularly or together as other characters numerous times in the Big Finish dramas.
  3. The Big Finish character Evelyn Smythe was introduced as a 55-year old history teacher, who was intelligent, confident, and stomached precisely none of Sixie's ego-trips. Six later tells Mel that having Evelyn continually clip him round the ear significantly improved his people skills...from plain "Insufferable" down to "Mostly Sufferable", admittedly, but still an improvement
  4. To expand, Anthony Ainley turned down the offer to reappear as The Master, and so Big Finish hired Geoffrey Beevers, who had played the character in The Keeper of Traken. As he hadn't been associated with the role for a good few decades by the time of the story, fans didn't make the connection
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