Big Finish Productions

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Big Finish Productions
Private company
IndustryEntertainment
Founded1996[1]
Headquarters,
UK
Key people
Jason Haigh-Ellery, MD
Nicholas Briggs, Executive Producer
Kris Griffin, Marketing Consultant
Barnaby Edwards, Casting Director
David Richardson, Producer
Ian Atkins, Producer's Assistant
Xanna Eve Chown, Books Production
ProductsList of Doctor Who audio plays by Big Finish
List of Doctor Who spin off audio plays by Big Finish
List of Dark Shadows audio plays
List of Blake's 7 audio plays
The Avengers (audio drama)
The Prisoner (audio drama)
Websitewww.bigfinish.com

Big Finish Productions is a British company that produces books and audio plays (released straight to compact disc and for download in MP3 and m4b format) based, primarily, on cult science fiction properties.[2][3][4] These include Doctor Who, the characters Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog from 2000 AD, Blake's 7, Dark Shadows, Dracula, Terrahawks, Sapphire & Steel, Sherlock Holmes, Stargate, The Avengers, The Prisoner, and Torchwood.

History[edit]

Founded in 1996, Big Finish in late 1998 began releasing audio plays adapted from New Adventures, a series of novels from Virgin Books which had originally been licensed Doctor Who stories, but by then had become officially independent from the show and were based around the character of Bernice "Benny" Summerfield. In 1999, Big Finish obtained a non-exclusive licence to produce official Doctor Who plays, beginning with the multi-Doctor story The Sirens of Time. Doctor Who and spin-offs have remained the main part of the company's output ever since, although they have since diversified. Many of those initially involved in Big Finish had worked on the Audio Visuals fan series of unlicensed Doctor Who audio plays.[5]

The name of the company was taken from the episode "The Big Finish" of the 1989-1993 ITV series Press Gang.[6]

Organisation[edit]

Until July 2006, Gary Russell served as producer of the Doctor Who audios. When Russell left the company, Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs took joint responsibility as Co-Executive Producers. Briggs now bears creative responsibility for Big Finish's Doctor Who range, along with script editor Alan Barnes. David Richardson holds the title of senior producer across all ranges, organising the schedules across the company's output, as well as having creative producer responsibility for The Companion Chronicles, Lost Stories, and the spin off Jago & Litefoot. The Chairman and co-executive producer of the company is Jason Haigh-Ellery.[6]

Big Finish Day[edit]

Big Finish Day is a fan convention featuring guest appearances by Big Finish actors. On 11 June 2011, Tenth Planet Events hosted the first Big Finish Day in Barking.[7] On 11 February 2012, a second one was held.[8] As of September 2015, there have been seven Big Finish Days, with more planned.[9]

Downloads[edit]

In February 2008, Big Finish launched a new download service through their website, which would provide audio plays in MP3 format, free of any DRM. They currently provide the large majority of their catalogue in MP3 and M4B format, with very few outstanding exceptions.[10]

In late April 2008, Big Finish released a download subscription service that mirrors its physical CD service. In addition, those who purchase Big Finish productions on CD through the company's website receive access to a complimentary download of the story.[11]

In September 2008, they released their first free downloadable play. UNIT: The Coup had previously been given away with an issue of Doctor Who Magazine.[12]

In February 8 2017 they announced the Big Finish app.[13]

Available releases[edit]

Doctor Who[edit]

The Doctor Who audio plays have, to date, featured six of the nine living actors to play the character of the Doctor in the series (Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, and David Tennant), as well as many of the regular supporting actors over the many years of the programme.[14] The late Jon Pertwee's voice is featured in the 40th-anniversary story Zagreus. His part in the story was pieced together from snippets of Pertwee's dialogue from the fan-produced Doctor Who video "Devious".[15] The actor John Hurt also recorded appearances as the War Doctor for Big Finish prior to his death in 2017.

Destiny of the Doctor, produced in conjunction with AudioGO, who were rights holders to the 2005–present series, marked the first time Big Finish produced storylines featuring the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors to mark the 50th anniversary of the franchise. In February 2015, Big Finish announced that following a licensing deal with BBC Worldwide, they had been permitted to produce an audio series entitled UNIT: Extinction, starring Kate Stewart played by Jemma Redgrave. The debut of the character on audio marks the second time Big Finish have been actively permitted to utilise material introduced in the 2005 revival.

In May 2015, Big Finish announced a new series of Torchwood, featuring Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).[16] Since this announcement. In 2017, Big Finish announced six new stories of Class featuring original members of the class, as well as a story starring Ace (Sophie Aldred).

On 27 June 2015, it was announced that Big Finish would produce a line of stories featuring River Song and the Eighth Doctor, as well as stories from Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) and his interactions with the Doctor. Further it was announced that a special set would be released featuring classic Doctors (in this case, the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Doctors), with new series monsters (The Weeping Angels, the Judoon, the Sycorax, and the Sontarans. The latter story will also connect into the Time War. According to Big Finish's website in May 2018, their license was expanded to feature properties set during the Twelfth Doctor's era up until Twice Upon a Time.[17] This has allowed Big Finish to explore more recent characters and areas from Doctor Who, as seen in Paternoster Gang; Jenny, The Doctor's Daughter; the Doctor's Daughter and Tales from New Earth.

Developments in the 2005 revival TV series also impacted the availability of certain characters. For example, Big Finish was no longer allowed to use the character of Davros, following his return to the series in 2008, although this restriction has since been lifted and Davros returned to Big Finish in The Curse of Davros (January 2012). Prior to the character's being featured in the new series, he had been used in several plays, portrayed by Terry Molloy, who played Davros in three TV serials in the 1980s. In a 2008 podcast, Nicholas Briggs explained that all scripts are sent through the TV show's offices in Cardiff to prevent any potential conflicts in continuity.[18]

The return of Sarah Jane Smith to the continuity of the TV series, and subsequent The Sarah Jane Adventures spin-off, resulted in the character's no longer being available to Big Finish (forcing the cancellation of an ongoing Sarah Jane Smith audio series). According to Briggs, permission from Russell T Davies, producer and creator of The Sarah Jane Adventures, had been secured that would have allowed the character (and actress Elisabeth Sladen) to return to Big Finish for a series of stories alongside Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor, but Sladen's illness and death in April 2011 put an end to those plans.[19]

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who in 2013, Big Finish created a series in the style of "The Companion Chronicles" range titled Destiny of the Doctor narrated by companions throughout the show's history. In addition to this, Big Finish released a multi-doctor story featuring all surviving Doctors of the classic series and almost every companion in The Light at the End.

Big Finish also published a series of short story anthologies taking place in the Doctor Who universe under the overall title of Short Trips. Three Short Trips collections were published by BBC Books in the late 1990s, before a hardback short story anthology licence was granted to Big Finish, who took over the name and produced them until their licence to publish such stories was revoked in the spring of 2009. Big Finish currently continues to produce audio-only Short Trips productions.[20]

In 2016, Big Finish's licence to produce Doctor Who audios was extended to 20 June 2025.[21]

In 2019, Big Finish reached its 20th anniversary of producing Doctor Who audios and released a special: "The Legacy of Time" which combined several spin-offs, including UNIT, The Diary of River Song, Bernice Summerfield and Counter-Measures. Other celebratory releases included the third series of Ravenous (featuring almost all Eighth Doctor companions); fourth series of Ravenous (featuring multiple incarnations of the Master; the sixth Series of the Early Adventures (in which the First Doctor encountered Second Doctor, as well as using the character of Katerina for the first time); The Diary of River Song series 5 (the first appearance of Eric Roberts' Master since Doctor Who (film) and the return of Missy).[22]

Doctor Who spin-offs[edit]

Other spin-offs include the Gallifrey series (with Lalla Ward as Romana, Louise Jameson as Leela and John Leeson as K-9); the Dalek Empire series; the UNIT series; the Iris Wildthyme series starring Katy Manning; the Sarah Jane Smith series and the I, Davros series. Big Finish have also produced a series of Doctor Who plays based on alternative scenarios (for example, what if the Doctor had never left Gallifrey, or had been a woman), collectively titled Doctor Who Unbound. This has allowed them to cast other actors in the role of the Doctor, including Sir Derek Jacobi, Arabella Weir and David Warner. In 2013, following the death of original Romana actress Mary Tamm, Big Finish introduced a previously unknown third incarnation of Romana, played by American actress Juliet Landau.

Other spin-off series include Jago & Litefoot, featuring Henry Gordon Jago (Christopher Benjamin) and Professor George Litefoot (Trevor Baxter), characters from the 1970s storyline The Talons of Weng-Chiang; Counter-Measures, featuring a group of scientists featured in 1988's Remembrance of the Daleks; Vienna, focusing on an assassin named Vienna Salvatori (played by former Star Trek: Deep Space Nine actress Chase Masterson) who was introduced in the Seventh Doctor audio drama The Shadow Heart; UNIT, originally focused around the UNIT during the hiatus years of Doctor Who, starring the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Elizabeth Klein (Tracey Childs, who first appeared in Colditz) and later became focused on UNIT from the revived series, featuring Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave and Osgood (Ingrid Oliver), as well as guest characters Jo Grant, River Song (Alex Kingston) and Doctor Chin Lee (Pik-Sen Lim, who first appeared in the Ambassadors of Death).

Two TV spin-offs from the Doctor Who universe have been continued in audio form by Big Finish: Torchwood and "Class" (2016 TV Series) which has featured the return of several characters from the original cast: Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), Owen Harper (Burn Gorman), Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori), Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd), Rhys Williams (Kai Owen), Andy Davidson (Tom Price), Suzzie Costello (Indira Varma), Captain John Hart (James Marsters) and Bilis Manger (Murray Melvin) have all reprised their roles in Torchwood. Characters from Doctor Who have also appeared in Torchwood audios, including Yvonne Hartman (Tracy Ann Oberman) and Jo Grant. Big Finish have also created several new characters of Torchwood in their continuation of the series from Miracle Day, most notably Tyler Steele (Jonny Green). Starting with January 2017, Big Finish also began releasing the "Torchwood One" series set before the events of Doomsday (Doctor Who).

Other writers for Big Finish include Rob Shearman and The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss, who have also written for the 2005 relaunch of the Doctor Who television series. Shearman's 2005 TV episode Dalek has been acknowledged as being based upon his Big Finish storyline Jubilee.[23]

2000 AD[edit]

Between 2002 and 2004, Big Finish released eighteen audio plays featuring characters from the British sci-fi comic strip anthology magazine 2000 AD. These consisted of sixteen Judge Dredd stories with two additional plays featuring characters from the Strontium Dog strip.

The Judge Dredd series drew heavily upon Big Finish's repertory company established through their Doctor Who series with many actors crossing over such as Toby Longworth (who voiced Dredd), Clare Buckfield, Nicholas Briggs, Mark Donovan and Teresa Gallagher who voiced Chief Judge Hershey. The series would also feature many special guest stars such as The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss playing Judge Death, Doctor Who companion actress Nicola Bryant (who would also direct 99 Code Red!) plus Blake's 7 star Stephen Greif as Efil Drago San. Writers for the series included David Bishop, Dave Stone and James Swallow.

Blake's 7[edit]

In July 2011, Big Finish obtained a licence to produce audiobooks and novels based on the BBC television series Blake's 7.[24] On 1 February 2012, the first collection of audiobooks, Blake's 7: The Liberator Chronicles, was released featuring original cast members from the television series.[25] Since then three series of full cast audio dramas have been released.[26]

Earthsearch[edit]

Earthsearch was a BBC Radio 4 radio series written by James Follett which was later adapted as a science fiction novel. However, his prequel novel Earthsearch Mindwarp was adapted by Big Finish and is being broadcast by the Digital radio station BBC 7. Earthsearch Mindwarp stars a number of actors from the Doctor Who range — India Fisher, Nicholas Courtney and Colin Baker.

Former releases[edit]

The Tomorrow People[edit]

Big Finish also produced and sold 5 seasons of The Tomorrow People audios until renewed licence negotiations failed in late 2007, the range was withdrawn in total in December 2008.[27]

Sapphire & Steel[edit]

Big Finish produced and sold three seasons of Sapphire & Steel audios until their licence expired. Unusually their production included none of the TV actors, instead Susannah Harker played Sapphire (replacing Joanna Lumley) and David Warner played Steel (replacing David McCallum), although David Collings did reprise his role of Silver from the TV Series in several releases.

Other productions[edit]

Big Finish has released audio dramas based upon other works as well, including Dark Shadows, Sherlock Holmes, Stargate, Captain Scarlet, Terrahawks, The Avengers and The Picture of Dorian Gray. [28].

In 2015, Big Finish produced its first series of Torchwood stories, produced by James Goss.

In 2016, Big Finish produced and released its first series of The Prisoner stories, written and directed by Nicholas Briggs and starring Mark Elstrob in the Patrick McGoohan role.

In July 2018, Big Finish released audiobook versions of the first two novels of the Star Trek: Prometheus trilogy. Narrated by Alec Newman, these releases adapt Fire with Fire and The Root of All Rage, with the third story--In the Heart of Chaos-- released in December 2018.[29]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS LIST By Gary Russell". Big Finish. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  2. ^ "BBC Cult TV". BBC. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Actress in cult 'Doctor Who' show dies". The Independent. 20 April 2011.
  4. ^ "Win Doctor Who Experience tickets". Cultbox. 2011. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012.
  5. ^ Doctor Who (12 February 2016), Amazing Audio Adventures - Doctor Who: The Fan Show, retrieved 15 March 2017
  6. ^ a b "About Us - Big Finish". www.bigfinish.com. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Big Finish Day: The Convention". Big Finish Productions. 2011. Archived from the original on 9 March 2011.
  8. ^ "Big Finish Day 2 Approaches". Big Finish Productions. 2012. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012.
  9. ^ "News: Big Finish Day 7". Big Finish. 20 September 2015.
  10. ^ "Limited Format Releases". Big Finish Productions.
  11. ^ "Big Finish News". Big Finish Productions. Archived from the original on 1 May 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  12. ^ "UNIT: The Coup". Big Finish Productions. 2008.
  13. ^ "Listen! With the BIG FINNISH App". Big Finish Productions.
  14. ^ "Big Finish Produces Doctor Who Audio Plays with Brains, Heart and Humor".
  15. ^ "When Jon Pertwee came to tea | doctor who devious". www.doctorwho-devious.com. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Torchwood". Big Finish.
  17. ^ "FAQ - Big Finish". www.bigfinish.com. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  18. ^ "Podcasts". Big Finish. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  19. ^ Briggs, Nicholas (October 2011). "Remembering Elisabeth Sladen". Doctor Who Magazine (440). p. 34.
  20. ^ "Doctor Who - Short Trips - Ranges - Big Finish". www.bigfinish.com. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  21. ^ "Doctor Who: Licence Extended to 2025!". Big Finish. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  22. ^ "Doctor Who: The Legacy of Time (Limited Edition) - Doctor Who - Classic Series - Special Releases - Big Finish". www.bigfinish.com. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  23. ^ Mcalpine, Fraser (2015). "'Doctor Who': 10 Things You May Not Know About 'Dalek'". BBC America. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  24. ^ "Blake's 7 New Audiobooks and Novels in 2012". Big Finish. 2012. Archived from the original on 15 January 2012.
  25. ^ "Blake's 7 - Volume 1 Out Now!". Big Finish. 2012. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012.
  26. ^ "Blake's 7 - Classic Audio Adventures". Big Finish. 2015.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "The Avengers". Big Finish.
  29. ^ "Star Trek: Prometheus Release Announcement". Big Finish.

External links[edit]