Thursday, May 27, 2021

59. Cyber Star Men - Randomoids 3 - The Return of the Selectortron

It's that time again, where we review 2 stories hurled at us at random by the Big Finish randomoid selectortron. And the stories are:

Doctor Who: Sword of Orion by Nicholas Briggs


Doctor Who: The Star Men by Andrew Smith


Philip recommends Moira Moments by Nigel Fairs (podcast audiodrama)

Dwayne recommends Mary Tamm: First Generation read by the author and Who's There: The Life and Career of William Hartnell read by Anneke Wills (Fantom Publishing audiobooks)

Thanks Hayden Gribble

Philip Edney on Twitter

Dwayne Bunney on Twitter

The Sirens of Audio on YouTube

Theme music by The Jackpot Golden Boys



Twitter: @AudioSirens


Clips and music are copyright BBC and Big Finish. No infringement is intended.

REVIEW | The Spectre of Lanyon Moor - Ranked "2" in Radio Times Top 5 Colin Baker Audio Stories

 The Spectre of Lanyon Moore by Nicholas Pegg

Directed by Nicholas Pegg

Music and Sound Design by Alistair Lock

Recorded February 2000. Released June 2000.

Starring Colin Baker and Maggie Stables

Guest Starring Nicholas Courtney, James Bolam, Barnaby Edwards, Helen Goldwyn, Susan Jameson, Toby Longworth, Nicholas Pegg

There is something quintessentially Doctor Who when it comes to creepy English villages, mystical powers and dark forces from the dawn of time. The Spectre of Lanyon Moor pulls out every trick in the Doctor Who book but does it so well you can hardly notice its homage to many, many previous Doctor Who shows.

It is clear that Nicholas Pegg is a fan of the show and he dips into so many moments from the past but combines them in such a way that you can’t but smile. Alien creature trapped on earth in opening minutes from City of Death. Strange goings on at an ancient burial site from Daemons. Creepy aristocracy member with library from Terror of the Zygons. Alien menace in the dark from Image of the Fendahl. English village from everywhere. And even an ending that crosses between Battlefield hero moment and the final scenes from Death to the Daleks. And every character except the Doctor and companions dead by the final scene like Pyramid of Mars, Horror of Rock and others. 

One of joys of the story is the first proper meeting between the sixth Doctor and the Brigadier. Although this in part should have been a momentous thing it is actually played right down and the two of them just get on easily from the beginning. It is such a natural meeting with open trust from the beginning that it would be easy to forget that this is a new partnership. 

Nicholas Courtney returns for the first time as the Brigadier for Big Finish and he falls into the role immediately. Like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes, Courtney is in straight back into the role and grabbing all the best lines. His nonchalant approach to the Doctor throws the Doctor slightly which is so charming to hear. His connection with Evelyn is also charming.

Maggie Stables is once again superb as Doctor Evelyn Smythe. In only her second appearance you can see what a perfect foil for the Doctor Evelyn is. Although its hard for her to be running down corridors she won’t be ignored, is given important work to do and can do a good smash and escape when needed. Colin and Maggie play off each other brilliantly and every scene they do together is a joy.

Colin continues to shine and is really the perfect Doctor. The great tragedy is he was never given stories like this to do, words like this to say and scenes like this to play in the TV series. Colin’s Doctor is compassionate, wise, righteously angry, moral, just, with a great sense of playfulness and concern for his friends. Had Colin received this level of writing and care during his TV run, there is a chance he could have been the longest serving Doctor.

The rest of the cast are excellent as well. Susan Jameson makes a great villain who goes from crazy dog owner, to just crazy to crazy dogs food. James Bolam starts being very trustworthy and yet slowly things change. And nice to hear Helen Goldwyn making her Big Finish debut playing a number of roles that would have been nothing in themselves but Helen gives all of her characters real depth, even if they only have a scene or two.

There is much, much more I could wax lyrical about this story but suffice to say it deserved to be in the top 5 of the Radio Times Poll and is well worth a listen.

Philip Edney

Monday, May 24, 2021

REVIEW | The Juggernauts - Ranked "3" in Radio Times Top 5 Colin Baker Audio Stories

 The Juggernauts by Scott Alan Woodard

Directed by Gary Russell

Music and Sound Design by Steve Foxon

Recorded April 2004. Released February 2005.

Starring Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford

Guest Starring Terry Molloy, Nicholas Briggs, Peter Forbes, Paul Grunert, Julia Houghton, Bindya Solanki, Klaus White

Third place in the Radio Times poll is another Dalek story. As with the Davison top 5 two Dalek stories make the top 5 with Colin Baker, continuing to show that the Daleks have not lost any popularity with the general public.  

The Juggernauts was written by American writer Scott Alan Woodard who accepted the commission from Gary Russell with a huge shopping list – Colin, Bonnie, Davros, Daleks and Mechanoids. But even with this huge list, the story effortlessly combines all these iconic figures. And who wouldn’t want to play in that sandpit?

Although the plot does retread some familiar themes from some televised stories, this allows the audience to pick up quickly on cues and also allows the plot to move more swiftly. There are enough twists to keep engaging the listener and some stellar performances.

The Juggernauts well demonstrates the vision John Nathan-Turner had when he developed the character of Melanie Bush to become the 6th Doctor’s companion. This is only their second play together but the characters just spark and show a great deal of emotional intelligence with each other – even though they are separated for a large part of the story. Colin and Bonnie both show how talented they are having very strong scenes with the guest cast, showing a real depth they weren’t able to show on television. It is both great to see and sad to realise what could have been and what a lost  opportunity there was when Colin was removed. Together Colin’s Doctor is kinder and more considerate and Melanie is wiser and more independent. She is certainly not the screamer she was made into on TV.

Terry Molloy is a joy to have back behind the microphone. His first visit to Big Finish was also playing opposite Colin in the excellent story Davros. In that story they demonstrated what a powerful double act they were that is repeated well in Juggernauts. His initial scenes with Bonnie, which are friendly and jovial, before she discovers who he is, show just how talented he is as a voice artist. The fact that we can like him so much and then turn it so we hate him is very powerful. With every Davros story you are waiting for the one on one scene between Davros and the Doctor and Juggernaut does not disappoint. This confrontation is powerful as would be expected, but ultimately it is Melanie who wins out.

As always Nicholas Briggs does an excellent job with the Daleks, though his range is stretched by also performing the mechanoids. Props also to sound designer, Steve Foxon would have played a very large role in realising the mechanoid voices. But no amount of sound design can work without the prowess of the actor bringing the required performance.

The Juggernauts explores some deep themes of loss, love and the right to survive. It has suspense, action and a bit of horror. All up it is a great story to listen to.

Philip Edney

Sunday, May 23, 2021

REVIEW | Static - Ranked "4" in Radio Times Top 5 Colin Baker Audio Stories

 Static by Jonathan Morris

Directed by Jamie Anderson

Music by Joe Kraemer

Sound Design by Joe Kraemer and Josh Arakellan

Script Editing by Alan Barnes

Recorded June 2017. Released December 2017.

Starring Colin Baker, Miranda Raison and Lisa Greenwood

Guest Starring Scott Chambers, Chris Dale, David Graham, Pippa Nixon, Brian Protheroe and Jo Woodcock

The most recently released story of the Colin Baker top 5 is Static by Jonathan Morris. Released three and a half years ago, it is a scary tale of dead bodies that go bump in the night and the mist and the voices the lurk in the static. It is a story that spans decades and yet takes place all at the same time. It’s a look at what would happen if you could bring back the dead.

Jonathan Morris is certainly one of Big Finish’s most prolific writers. With over one hundred stories in his catalogue spanning all the way back to Bloodtide, his stories have been inventive and diverse. He has written across every Big Finish range, for every Doctor and for many different pairings of Doctor and Companion. He has written a number of successful Colin Baker stories, especially with Flip. Many of his stories can show a dark sense of humour or like this story, create fear in uncertainty. He manages to twist something that we all experience every day - static - and make it an object of fear – the place where the enemy lurks.

Static is a more modern tale than the other stories in the top 5 and so Baker is equally supported in the story telling by Miranda Raison and Lisa Greenwood his two companions Mrs Constance Clarke and Flip. Although the Doctor has greater knowledge than his companions, he is very much equal with them in terms of narrative and key moments in the story. This does not make Bakers acting any less and he has some very powerful scenes in the last episode as he decides he is not going to allow what has happened continue to be. He also makes some morally questionable decisions and perhaps justifies them a bit too easily.

Flip is the easy to relate to character in the piece. She quickly befriends the other young members of the story and through her we see the backstory to what is occurring. We feel the sympathy for the situation that she feels but also her suspicion and distrust. Lisa Greenwood creates a very relaxed character in Flip which is in contrast to when she first began as a companion as she took a while to define who she was. But over the years, and particularly with her friendship with Constance, the character has begun to shine and from an initially spiky surface is now the heart and warmth of the crew.

Constance continues to be a rock in all situations. Her loyalty to the Doctor is unquestionable, being willing to die to achieve what he asks. As she and the Doctor return in time and into a Second World War setting, she is able to bring to the fore all her knowledge of protocol and behaviour to assist the Doctor to achieve his outcomes. Miranda Raison is an amazing actress and a stunning coup for Big Finish to get to work for them. It is to her credit that a character who could played by others come across as cold is someone we learn to care deeply about.

Jamie Anderson has pulled together a strong cast to play all the supporting roles. Voices are both modern for the recent times but also the correct RP for back during war times. David and Pippa make a convincing couple that are obviously struggling through grief. And Pippa and Jo make a strong sisterly connection. Scott Chambers is excellent in his role creating both fear and compassion depending on the circumstance.

Ultimately, Static is such an effective story because it blindsides the audience in the final episode. From the direction it appeared to be going for most of the story is suddenly veers left and heads you in a very different direction. It is only the fast thinking of the Doctor that saves the day – which is as it is meant to be.

Static would not have been in my list of the top 5 Colin Baker stories, but it has been good to go back and listen again and realise it is indeed a very worth while candidate due to its complexity, its ability to raise emotions and its use of time. If you are after a creepy story and a time old mystery, Static is a great place to start.

Philip Edney

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Submissions Now Open To Write a Big Finish Doctor Who Adventure!

Big Finish today opens its annual Short Trips writing opportunity, seeking new writers to create a Doctor Who short story to be released as an audiobook at Christmas 2021. 

The Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trips Opportunity honours the memory of the cheerful, much-loved person at the heart of the Big Finish production office, who passed away suddenly on 8 May 2014. 

Now in its sixth year, the competition is open again from today until the end of June. The full list of terms & conditions can be found on the Big Finish website at, and should be read by anyone planning to send in a new story submission over the coming weeks.  

 Big Finish creative director Nicholas Briggs said: "Big Finish’s senior producer David Richardson and I reflected recently on how very often we think of Paul, and how our remembrance of the legendary ‘Spragg’ always brings us joy. So it’s with that very much in mind that I’m delighted that it’s once again time for us to encourage new writers, in the tradition of Paul’s kindness, enthusiasm and good humour. His Memorial Writers’ Opportunity is always successful in bringing new, exciting talent to Big Finish. So, let the writing commence!"

Prospective entrants should listen to previous winning entries, to understand what kind of adventures the judges are looking for: 

The first winning story, selected from over a thousand submissions in 2016, was Forever Fallen by Joshua Wanisko. The finished production, narrated by Nicholas Briggs, can be downloaded for free from the Big Finish website. The subsequent four winning stories, Landbound by Selim Ulug, The Last Day at Work by Harry Draper, The Best Laid Plans by Ben Tedds, and Free Speech by Eugenie Pusenjak are also excellent starting points.   

 Please note that we have made some updates to the Memorial Writers’ Opportunity this year.  

Here are the guidelines for the opportunity:  

1. All entries must be submitted electronically either as Word-compatible documents or PDF pages, sent to  Entries must consist of two parts: a synopsis and an opening excerpt from the story.  

2. The synopsis must be a single page (this tends to be approximately 500 words).  

 3. The opening excerpt from the story should also be a single page (again, approximately 500 words). This is to give a flavour of the writer's ability and intentions, which can change if the story is commissioned. See below for how to download some examples from previous years.  

 4. Both pages should be marked with the writer's name and a contact email address. The submission should not include any details of your background or previous writing experience – the submission should speak for itself.  

 5. Submissions can be set in the universe of Doctor Who in the Classic Series and the New Series, i.e. at any time in the lives of the Doctor from his first incarnation in An Unearthly Child up to and including his twelfth in Twice Upon a Time. The only exception to this is the War Doctor. Due to licensing agreements we cannot include the War Doctor in stories submitted for this opportunity, so please don’t use this character.  

 6. No established monsters (for example, Daleks, Cybermen, and so on) or villains (for example, the Master, the Rani, and so on) can be used, nor established Doctor Who characters (including those from the Worlds of Doctor Who; for example, UNIT, Jago & Litefoot, Counter-Measures, and so on). Most television companions from the New Series (2005 onwards) cannot be used, except for Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Donna Noble. However, classic series companions (excluding K-9), plus companions created by Big Finish (such as Charlotte Pollard, Hex, Evelyn Smythe, etc.) can be used. (Note: do not create a new companion for the Doctor in your story).  

7. The story should not have been published anywhere before, nor should the entry have been submitted before.  

 8. The winner will be informed by the end of July, and will be officially contracted to deliver a 5,000 word Short Trips story. As with all Big Finish writers, they will be expected to agree and meet all conditions, especially with respect to meeting deadlines and accepting input from producers. For guidance purposes, it is expected a first-draft would be due early in the Autumn of 2021.  

 9. The BBC have the right to approve or veto the content of a selected story. Should there be unforeseen issues with the work, the writer will be invited to submit a new idea.  

10. Please note that no correspondence can be entered into and the judges’ decision is final.  

11. Entry is open only to people who have never written for Big Finish before.  

12. For the 2021 Memorial Writers’ Opportunity, any entrant can send one submission. Multiple entries will be disqualified.   

13. If you've never heard a  Doctor Who – Short Trips story before, it's recommended that you give one a listen to get a sense of how they sound and what can be done in the format. These are the stories previously published as part of the Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trips Opportunity:  

 2016: Doctor Who: Forever Fallen by Joshua Wanisko 

 2017: Doctor Who: Landbound by Selim Ulug  

 2018: Doctor Who: The Last Day at Work by Harry Draper  

 2019: Doctor Who: The Best Laid Plans by Ben Tedds  

 2020: Doctor Who: Free Speech by Eugenie Pusenjak

 All these stories are available as free downloads and adding them to your account will also unlock downloads of Joshua, Selim, Harry, Ben and Eugenie’s initial entry submissions, along with copies of the final scripts, as bonus content.  

14. Entry into this competition requires that you have read and accepted the full terms and conditions. By entering, you indicate that you have done so. Submissions should be emailed to – formatted as per the guidelines – before 23:59 (UK time) on 30 June 2021.

58. GARY RUSSELL Part 3 - "I Want Chris Chibnall's Job"

In the final part of our interview with Gary Russell, he speaks about working with Eighth Doctor Paul McGann, the Divergent Universe arc, his reaction to the new TV series as it related to Big Finish in 2005, dealing with the BBC as a licensee, songs in Doctor Who, leaving Big Finish to work on the TV show, his views on Big Finish productions since he left and what he would do if he were showrunner of the TV series now. 

Thanks so much for spending so much time with us Gary! It was a pleasure to hear your memories and opinions and we wish you all the very best for the future. Thank you for the stories!

Philip Edney on Twitter

Dwayne Bunney on Twitter

The Sirens of Audio on YouTube

Theme music by The Jackpot Golden Boys



Twitter: @AudioSirens


Clips and music are copyright BBC and Big Finish. No infringement is intended.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Third Doctor Is Back With Liz Shaw & Sarah Jane Smith

The Third Doctor’s going overboard!

It’s a double bill of brand-new adventures in Doctor Who – The Third Doctor Adventures: Volume 7, released today from Big Finish.

This box set of full-cast audio drama take the Third Doctor (Tim Treloar) and his companions the Brigadier (Jon Culshaw), Liz Shaw (Daisy Ashford) and Sarah Jane Smith (Sadie Miller) on a pair of perilous tales, from a military betrayal to a watery artistic retreat, where the tide is turning...

Big Finish listeners can also download the music suites for both stories, which will be available as bonus downloads for all purchasers of this release.

Doctor Who – The Third Doctor Adventures: Volume 7 is now available exclusively at, with the two TARDIS tales as follows:

The Unzal Incursion by Mark Wright

Under the supervision of the Doctor, the Brigadier and Dr Liz Shaw, UNIT are getting ready to activate Hotspur: their new and advanced early warning network. 

But something goes wrong, and UNIT are betrayed from within. Suddenly bases are falling across the globe, and only the Doctor and his friends are able to escape. 

Not knowing how far the conspiracy goes, the Doctor, Liz and the Brigadier become fugitives... and they soon discover worrying connections to both the Fulcrum military training facility... and something beyond this Earth.

The Gulf by Tim Foley

The TARDIS lands on an ocean planet and the Doctor and Sarah find themselves on a former rig that’s been converted into an artistic retreat. 

But art is far from the residents’ minds. A painter has disappeared, and the Doctor senses a dark psychic presence at play. 

The waves are rising. And there’s something in the water.

Of The Gulf, writer Tim Foley said: “I think the Third Doctor and Sarah are such an underrated duo. There’s the melancholy of a Doctor reaching the end of his life, and the excitement of a companion just beginning her adventures – I think that’s a Tim Treloar/Sadie Miller crossroads ripe for exploration.

“In The Gulf, we’re on an alien ocean planet, on a decommissioned spindrifter – a concrete rig floating on a poisonous ocean. The galaxy is at war, but this former industrial site has been transformed into an artistic retreat – led by the fabulous Marta Malvani. I like it when the Third Doctor rails against a corporation and a system, and I wanted Sarah to experience something wondrous whilst also wearing her investigative journalist hat.”

Of recording The Unzal Incursion, actress Daisy Ashford said: “I really loved working with Tim again on this latest Third Doctor Big Finish release. It was wonderful after being in lockdown to be able to actually go to a studio and work with him in person – with all the necessary precautions of course. 

“We were in separate booths but could see each other from behind the glass. The rest of the cast were either in another studio in Liverpool or recording from home, but we were all connected over the headphones, so it felt like we were together. It is a brilliant script, with lots of action and peril to overcome which is always so much fun to play. Tim was, as ever, cheeky, funny, naughty and brilliant as the Third Doctor. Close your eyes and Jon is there instead – I don’t know how Tim does it!”

Alongside the previously announced Wendy Craig, the cast is completed by Sam Benjamin (Justice League, The War of the Worlds), Clare Corbett (Casualty, The Ninth Doctor Adventures), Lucy Goldie (The Omega Factor, Missy), Avita Jay (Stranded, Silent Witness), Misha Malcolm (Time Lord Victorious, Torchwood), Gary Martin (Dennis The Menace, Corpse Bride), Jennifer Saayeng (The Capture, Eastenders), Issy Van Randwyck (Fascinating Aïda, The Paternoster Gang) and Bethan Walker (Blake’s 7, Doctor Who: Doom Coalition).

Doctor Who – The Third Doctor Adventures: Volume 7 is now available as a collector’s edition box set  or a digital download, exclusively from the Big Finish website.

REVIEW | The Mutant Phase - Ranked "1" in Radio Times Top 5 Davison Audio Stories

The Mutant Phase by Nicholas Briggs

Directed by Nicholas Briggs

Music and Sound Design by Nicholas Briggs 

Recorded September 2000.  Released December 2000.

Starring Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton

Guest Starring Christopher Blake, Nicholas Briggs, Mark Gatiss, Alistair Lock, Jared Morgan, Andrew Ryan, Sarah Wakefield

And so finally we come to the winning audio of the Radio Times Poll for the 5th Doctor. This is the audio that beat all other Peter Davison stories to be crowned at number 1. For many people, this seemed like a bit of a strange choice. For Big Finish fans, received wisdom is that Spare Parts is the number one story. But this poll was much broader in scope and reached a lot more people than just the Big Finish fans.  So what is it about The Mutant Phase that led to it winning the number one spot?

Firstly, and most importantly, it is a terrific story. Nicholas Briggs has pulled out all the stops for this adventure and flips the listener backwards and forwards in time using various means. The characters are well drawn and there is a great twist with one of the characters which although flagged for the listener the complications that happen for him towards the end are both serious and comical.

The second reason this audio is a hit is it is the Daleks. This is only the third Dalek story that was produced by Big Finish and it was the first story to feature Peter Davison. It is also the first time that Nyssa encounters the Daleks so there is a lot of interest as she discovers how ruthless they can be. And although this is an original Dalek story it is also a prequel to The Dalek Invasion of Earth. So here we have Daleks who are yet to encounter the Doctor or the TARDIS and know nothing of the threat the Doctor can be. This creates a bit of nostalgia for the lover of the television show.

Another reason why this is brilliant is Nicholas Briggs. No one has greater passion or love for the Daleks than Nick and that shines forth in this production. And all the more so because the stamp of Briggs is on every part of the story. As writer, director, composer, sound designer, is there nothing this man can’t do? So, for some fans who get jealous this can be a drawback. For people who love one powerful vision driving through a story that is what they get here. The music cues are very Briggsy as are a lot of the plotting themes that come up. But the reality is that they work and you can see the embryo forming that indicates where a lot of Nick's writing will develop from this point.

Ultimately, this story won the poll because of Peter Davison. People were voting on the best Davison story and what has happened is people have voted on the best Davision. In this performance we see a master class in acting. Davison nails every emotion, every bit of timing, every joke perfectly. He uses silence powerfully so that we can feel the confusion in the Doctor’s mind. He uses humour to unsettle and provoke. Confusion, trepidation and anger are also part of his vocabulary. This story allows Davison to shine across all levels of his acting ability.

The Mutant Phase is a great Doctor Who audio. It tells a fast pace story, across the lightyears and the centuries. It introduces us to a range of interesting characters and the Doctor and Nyssa work perfectly in sync. Well worth a re-listen to see why the majority of those voting in the poll chose this as number one.

Philip Edney

Sunday, May 16, 2021

REVIEW | Alien Heart / Dalek Soul - Ranked "2" in Radio Times Top 5 Davison Audio Stories

Alien Heart by Stephen Cole 

Dalek Soul by Guy Adams

Directed by Ken Bentley

Music and Sound Design by Richard Fox @ FoxYason Studios & Lauren Yason @ FoxYason Studios

Script Editor was Alan Barnes

Released April 2017

Starring Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton

Guest Starring Nicholas Briggs, Geoffrey Newland, Vineeta Rishi, Alex Tregear and Eve Webster

Number two in the Radio Times poll is not one but two stories from two very accomplished writers. Alien Heart/Dalek Soul are two separate and yet strongly linked tales that push the Doctor and Nyssa to new levels.

When Big Finish started producing audios I was very in line with fandom who felt that a Doctor Who story should be four episodes long with the three cliff hangers. Over the twenty or more years of listening though, the structure of what television and how story telling works have changed. The stories I enjoy most have become the 50 minute stories that are contained in the box sets, often with an overarching theme, in a style that more closely resembles the look and feel of the show since it came back in 2005.

On the whole the main range has maintained the original pattern of four episode adventures, though along the way there have been attempts at different forms of story telling. The three episode story with a one part story was trialed for a while. But here we have two, two episode stories and they work magnificently.

Alien Heart by Stephen Cole kicks off the set with a mystery. A range of planets have been destroyed and what is to become with the next in line. The Doctor and Nyssa arrive to try and work out what has happened. Separating the Doctor and companion is a staple of Doctor Who but never before has a companion been forced apart on the backs of thousands of stampeding spiders. Now on separate planets the Doctor and Nyssa must work apart to save a planet of people who know nothing of space travel.

Billed as two separate stories I was not expecting the appearance of the Daleks in the first story. On reflection, it should have been obvious that the race who would be destroying planets needed to be powerful but the clues were leading the audience to believe something different. Mind you the reasoning behind what was going on was even more unusual. Just as you feel the first story is wrapping up it takes a sudden left turn and ends with a cliff-hanger.

Dalek Soul by Guys Adams is brilliant! Not at all what is expected and is able to stretch the acting muscles of both Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. Neither seem to be behaving as you would expect and as the story progresses the gulf between what you would expect and what is happening grows wider and wider. The final reveal is a wonderful twist. 

When I first listened to this story four years ago I remember that I enjoyed it. But with the output of Big Finish being so great this is the first time I have gone back to listen to it again and it really is brilliant. Had it been one of the early releases I probably would have heard it ten times by now like I have with many of those first 50 releases. And if I had done that I think it would have been embedded in my mind as one of the best stories. 

This set of two stories wouldn’t have been what I would have chosen as my Number 2 based on my memory. But having listened again I can see why it is appealing to others. Two tight, fast paced stories. A very dark and foreboding tale. Davison and Sutton acting their socks off and getting to play against type. Excellent direction by Ken Bentley with fabulous, loud sound design. And Daleks! What is it about the Daleks that appeal so much to people almost 60 years after their creation? Well whatever it is, it also helped the Number 1 story get over the line – but that’s for another review.

Philip Edney

Saturday, May 15, 2021

REVIEW | The Lady of Mercia - Ranked "3" in Radio Times Top 5 Davison Audio Stories

 The Lady of Merica by Paul Magrs

Directed by Ken Bentley

Music and Sound Design by Steve Foxon

Script Editor was Alan Barnes

Recorded January 2013. Released May 2013.

Starring Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson and Sarah Sutton

Guest Starring Rachel Atkins, Kieran Bew, Stephen Critchlow, Catherine Grose, Anthony Howell and Abigail Thaw


Number three in the Radio Times poll and the second entry for writer Paul Magrs is The Lady of Mercia. Another historical story (kind of) it is certainly not the “pure” historical that The Peterloo Massacre was. Though as well as being similar in being a historical, it is also similar in terms of taking place in the North of England and also in exploring themes of social class and funding.

The Lady of Mercia is a story set in two time zones, though the time travel between the two is not the conventional one you might expect. The TARDIS crew landing at a university in the North in 1983 and pretend to be experts in the Middle Ages as they try and detect a time anomaly. This is created by a scientist who accidently sends Tegan and a colleague back in time. In typical historical romp they meet Queen Æthelfrid and her daughter Princess Ælfwynn and the Princess is then brought back to present time. But the Queen and Princess are due at York to maintain their power. Tegan has no choice but to take the role of Princess and become the Lady of Mercia.


The Lady of Mercia is not a complex story, in fact Sarah Sutton said she understood this one, which is a rare thing. But although simple it has a number of elements of suspense and action that allows characters to be developed and to shine. Though some of the romantic elements of the stories and the complexities within couples probably doesn’t have enough time to develop very realistically. 

Though there is coupling a plenty, the most interesting relationship, and the one that develops the deepest is between Tegan and Queen Æthelfrid. This mother / daughter relationship grows throughout the story and so there is genuine sadness and loss when history does what history does and one of these characters meet their preordained fate. This is an excellent performance by Rachel Atkins and would be the first of more than 25 that she would bring to Big Finish. Janet Fielding plays off her perfectly and together there is real truth in their story telling.

Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton pair up for most of the adventure and all the required technobabble plays back and forth very naturally between them. As always there is genuine warmth between these characters and you can see why Nyssa is Davison’s favourite companion for his Doctor. In Big Finish terms this is the old Nyssa who is travelling with Tegan and Turlough again many years after she left the crew after the events on Terminus. But for this story that timeline doesn’t really matter.

Mark Strickson is sadly without much to do. Turlough remains relatively fixed in 1983 not really willing to put himself at risk. He does get some nice scenes to play off Abigall Thaw as Professor Phillipa Stone but neither character is taken as far as they could have been.

A small but impressive impact is made by Stephen Critchlow making his second of over 35 performances. His regular returns as an actor can be understood as you hear him play two very different but distinct characters in the story.

Special mention should be made of both director, Ken Bentley and sound design and music by Steve Foxon. With all the flipping between middle ages and 1983, this could have been extremely confusing, but there is never any doubt at all where we are. Before we hear a character speak we know where the scene is set but the sound design. Sometimes this is very subtle but it always works. There are also some mighty big battles created as well.

Although I wouldn’t count the Lady of Mercia as a classic it does do all it sets out to do and does it very well. Its and entertaining yarn, well acted, heart warming and is pointing you to a very large historical figure that we probably don’t know very well. With an excellent cast and great direction it is well worth a listen and re-listen.

Philip Edney

Thursday, May 13, 2021

REVIEW | The Peterloo Massacre - Ranked "4" in Radio Times Top 5 Davison Audio Stories

The Peterloo Massacre by Paul Magrs

Directed by Jamie Anderson

Music and Sound Design by Nigel Fairs

Script Editor was Alan Barnes

Recorded July 2015. Released March 2016.

Starring Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton

Guest Starring Wayne Forester, Gerard Kearns, Philip Labey, Liz Morgan, Jayne Standing, Robbie Stevens 

Number four in the Radio Times poll at first glance seems an unusual story for so high a position. The Peterloo Massacre is a “pure” historical and places our heroes in a time and place of great danger, except no one really realises what is coming except the Doctor.

Aside from William Hartnell’s Doctor, no other regeneration has had the opportunity, nor fit the bill so well as to play historical stories, as Peter Davison. His charm and innocence lend itself well with blending into history and playing as small a role as possible. His was the first Doctor to get a historical to play on television with Black Orchid since The Highlanders. And never again on the TV show would there be an historical. His Doctor also had had other successful historicals at Big Finish such as Eye of the Scorpion, The Church and the Crown and the Council of Nicaea.

So what is a pure historical? In fan talk it is a story that features no science fiction elements at all – simply the TARDIS used as a device to deliver the Doctor and his companions to the scene and then not used again.

So why do historicals work so well? It’s all about inevitability. With a story set in the future the outcome is unknown. But when a story is grounded in history the events are going to unfold in a certain way and the conclusion can not be escaped.

The other reason that historicals work so well is that they give people a passion for history. Many a period of history has been studied because of Doctor Who. From the Aztecs, to Pompei,  the French Revolution, the Gunfight at the OK Coral to the history of Rosa Parkes.

The Peterloo Massacre in Manchester was something I knew nothing about. But after listening to this story I wanted to do some research and discovered what a major event it was. Paul Magrs has written a very tight script and managed to create from a handful of characters the many voices needed to represent the different points of view that caused the disaster. From the wealthy, the militia, the workers, the protesters. Conflict was inevitable. But the scale of the massacre was truly dreadful to ensure the power and the wealth of the rich.

Paul says of his own story, “It’s a story about terrible unfairness and social injustice. It’s about hope and bravery being trampled into nothing by greed and prejudice, snobbery and hatred. And it’s about how hope can survive such terrible events.”

Director Jamie Anderson has managed to pull together an exceptional cast with very different vocal qualities. In some ways their accents show what role they are destined to play in the approaching drama. Jayne Standing in particular does an excellent job of creating pathos and emotion in her one and only Big Finish outing to date.

The strength of the guest cast allows the regulars to truly shine. Peter Davison gives an outstanding performance. Enthusiastic at first leading to realisation and deep sadness. He knows that he can’t change history but you can hear in his performance the desire to stop the inevitable. Janet Fielding plays the brashness of Tegan to great effect. Her no nonsense character fits in well with the situation and her desire to not allow the course of history to run smooth is clear. Sarah plays the hope of Nyssa with great effect. Strength through gentleness abounds and she reflects that character of the Doctor perfectly. 

Although The Peterloo Massacre would not have occurred to me as being one of Davisons top 5 stories, on re-listen I can understand why so many people enjoy it. It shows social conscience, it allows Peter Davison to inhabit all the of best characteristics of the 5th Doctor, it teachers history, it has a huge action scene and it reminds us there can be a better way. What more could you ask of a Doctor Who story?

Philip Edney

A Welcome Return to the Ninth Doctor's Adventures

In one of the most anticipated releases of the year, Christopher Eccleston returns to Doctor Who in the role that brought the ongoing story to the small screen back in 2005. 

And boy, what a welcome distraction this is, considering the current climate in fandom right now. 

Speculation was rife when it was first announced as to when this might be set in the Ninth Doctor's timeline. Would it be set before Rose? Would Billie Piper be returning as well? 

It became known early on that Rose would not be featured in the set. So now, with the release of Doctor Who - The Ninth Doctor Adventures - Ravagers, we enter a whole new era of unexplored Ninth Doctor stories, under the pen of Big Finish's Creative Director, Nicholas Briggs. 

There are three stories in the set and it features new companion Nova (Camilla Beeput) and mystery character Audrey (Jayne McKenna). 

On returning to the role, Christopher Eccelston said, “I've really enjoyed playing the Doctor again. As I've always said, he was always a joy to play. Somebody with that amount of optimism, enthusiasm and brains and heart – two hearts! It's not something you get to do often.” 

On the Sphere of Freedom, the Doctor is about to shut down an evil Immersive Games business empire. He’s assisted by a valiant galley chef called Nova. But his plan spectacularly fails...

Now, the Doctor must fight back to discover what could have caused everything to go so badly wrong. His journey takes him via Piccadilly Circus in 1959, Belgium 1815 and far flung future worlds where machine intelligences regard sentient life as mere biofuel.

Where does the mysterious old-timer Audrey fit in? Is the alien beverage Charganzi safe to drink? And is there really anything the Doctor can do to stop the entire universe from being devoured?

The cast is completed by Jamie Parker (1917, Valkyrie), Dan Starkey (The Paternoster Gang, Jago & Litefoot & Strax), Anjella Mackintosh (The Eleven, Timeslip), Ben Lee (Holmes & Watson), and Clare Corbett (Jenny – The Doctor’s Daughter).

Producer David Richardson said: “To think, sixteen years ago the Ninth Doctor reached out, grabbed Rose Tyler by the hand and told her to run off into new adventures. And now he’s back, grabbing us all by the hand and leading us off to whole new worlds, new friends and new foes. It’s Saturday teatime 2005 all over again… and it’s wonderful to have him back.”

Doctor Who: The Ravagers is available now from

57. PAUL SPRAGG - His First Interview

In this special episode, Dwayne shares the recording of an interview he conducted with the late Paul Spragg in London on 7th April 2011. 

*DISCLAIMER While mention is made of "The Paul Spragg Short Trip Opportunity" during this podcast, as at the time of publication, it has not been officially announced by Big Finish for 2021.

Music: In A Big Country by December


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

REVIEW | Spare Parts - Ranked "5" in Radio Times Top 5 Davison Audio Stories

Spare Parts by Marc Platt

Directed by Gary Russell

Music by Russell Stone

Sound Design by Gareth Jenkins

Recorded March 2002. Released July 2002.

Starring Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton

Guest Starring Sally Knyvette, Derren Nesbitt, Pamela Bins, Paul Copley, Kathryn Guck, Jim Hartley and Nicholas Briggs as the Cybermen.

Ask any group of Big Finish fans what is the best story Big Finish has released and one that will keep being repeated over and over is Spare Parts. It is so good that it is one of only two stories that Russell T Davies had adapted for new Who when he became show runner, although admittedly, it is barely recognisable in the finished product.

It is no doubt with some surprise that Spare Parts only ranked number five in the 5th Doctor Poll conducted by Radio Times. A travesty? Well, many would argue that fifth place is still a strong finish. Big Finish fans may assess it should have been number one, but are there reasons that the thousands who voted, many of whom are outside the general Big Finish fan circles, didn’t place it number one? 

So firstly, why is it so loved by the Big Finish family?

Well it’s an origin story. It’s Genesis of the Daleks but for Cybermen. It’s what the keen Doctor Who fans always wanted. The story of Mondas and the reason why a race of humans would let themselves become emotionless monsters. This alone makes the story extremely popular.

Mind you it is a story that is told particularly well. Marc Platt who wrote one story for the classic series, Ghostlight, and was one of the few authors who transitioned from classic who, to novels to Big Finish. His writing is always distinctive, slightly kooky, exploring complex themes and often told in convoluted ways. Having written over twenty stories now for Big Finish, this was only his second venture following the successful Loups-Garoux. Marc manages to create an epic story, of a planet slowly surrendering itself to its fate through the eyes of a single family. This family mirror the values, the fears and the destruction of all Mondasians. 

The Hartley family are so effective in conveying the decay of society and brilliantly realised by great, naturalistic acting of Paul Copley as Dad, trying to hold what is left of his family together, Jim Hartley as Frank, headstrong son who is convinced he knows best and Kathryn Guck playing Yvonne who health slowly decays and finally creates one of the saddest scenes in the story. These three characters are the voice pieces of the different elements of the Mondas society showing us their values, their hopes and their fears. The normality of the family is contrasted by the unusual Sisterman Constant as played by Pamela Binns. Every story needs a villain, and Constant provides that role. Though as the story progresses you realise that she is just as deceived and lost as the other poor souls on the planet.

Star casting goes to Sally Knyvette, best known to Blake’s 7 fans as Jenna Stanis, who plays the creator of the Cybermen, Doctorman Allen. But unlike the evil creator of the Daleks, Davros, Allen is naïve rather than evil. Her desire is to save her race but through her trials and experiments she condemns her people and herself to emotionless slavery and begins to be a scourge on all of the universe.

Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton make the perfect pairing for this adventure. Both this incarnation of the Doctor and Nyssa has such vulnerable sides to their characters and a desire to help, that as options are removed from their hands you see their hopelessness of the growing situation. Nyssa’s closeness to the Hartley family leads her to suffer great grief, especially with the fate of her friend Yvonne. 

And so the Cybermen. Nicholas Briggs brings us another star turn and demonstrates why, when the Cyberman return to the new series of Doctor Who, he is the only one who could bring them back. This time realising the high pitched, sing song Mondasian Cybermen first encountered in the Tenth Planet. He plays various roles that become more menacing and finally take over from the humans who they originally were. But like Tenth Planet, the lead Cyberman still has a name, Zheng, betraying his human roots.

So, there is much to love about this story. But the reason why so many fans love it may also be the reason it didn’t make number one in the poll. It is dark. Very dark. It is more of a political thriller than an action adventure. There are no huge battles and there is no evil villain. And throughout the story is total foreboding. It has a huge downbeat ending, so loved by fans but not so much by the general public. And also Cyberman aren’t Daleks. And when it comes to the battle between Cyberman and Daleks and what people love – Daleks win.

So Spare Parts is number 5 on the list. Does that change how great it is? Or how fans will view it? No way. But it does let a couple of other great stories get noticed that hadn’t been recognised by fans before. For many I think Spare Parts will still be viewed as the best that Davison has to offer.

Philip Edney

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Details Revealed | The Eleven and the Sixth Doctor Set To Collide

Six versus Eleven!

Story and cast details are today revealed for this one-off series, in which the Doctor is pushed to his very limits when facing off against one of his own kind. 

The scene is set for the ultimate Time Lord showdown, as Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor faces Mark Bonnar’s the Eleven in three brand-new full-cast Doctor Who audio adventures, due for release in September 2021. 

First introduced as an adversary in the Eighth Doctor’s Doom Coalition series, the deranged, murderous Time Lord, the Eleven, retains the personalities of his previous regenerations and uses them to create chaos across galaxies.

As previously announced, Miranda Raison returns as the Doctor’s companion, Mrs Constance Clarke, and Lucy Gaskell makes her Big Finish debut as mutant alien and companion to the Eleven, Miskavel.

Doctor Who – The Sixth Doctor Adventures: The Eleven is available to pre-order now from

The three terrifying tales are as follows:

One for All by Lizzie Hopley

The people of Molaruss are in two minds – quite literally! A world of duo-minds inside single bodies offers a unique opportunity to the Eleven, and his new wife, the mutant alien Miskavel. 

Meanwhile the Doctor and Constance discover a derelict TARDIS, but are they walking into a trap?

The Murder of Oliver Akkron by Nigel Fairs

The Global President of Molaruss has been assassinated. The authorities believe they have the killer in custody – but which of his personalities did the deed? 

The truth will emerge in the recollections of a madman – but there is more than one side to every story…

Elevation by Chris Chapman

Molaruss has a new ruler: the wise and benevolent Eleven - alongside his loving consort Miskavel – his many minds guiding every aspect of successful government. 

But the Eleven has a plan to elevate his people to a new level of consciousness. And he cannot resist inviting the Doctor and Constance to witness his ultimate triumph…

The cast for this box set is completed by Glen McCready (Missy, Callan), Simon Slater (The Bill, Sherlock Holmes), Anjella Mackintosh (The Ninth Doctor Adventures, Counter-Measures), Annabelle Dowler (The Diary of River Song, The Robots), and Big Finish newcomers Luke Barton and Eva Savage. 

Of the Eleven, Colin Baker said: “As a Time Lord, he’s a fascinating character – yes, he’s got one or two nice elevenths, but he’s also got a couple of really unpleasant ones. When the Doctor encounters him, he has to deal with a man who makes other villains look quite calm!”

“Mark Bonnar is terrific, playing eleven characters, sometimes in one scene, all talking to each other and remembering which is which. Actors love that kind of thing. In this box set, everyone is having a great time and it’s been lovely listening to them – they've done it superbly!”

Miranda Raison added: “This was really, really fun – it's a gift for any actor. Mark was amazing, playing such an extraordinary character – I kept on thinking it was somebody else! He'd come in and say something, then come in as somebody else and I'd realise that it was still him.”

“Constance and the Doctor are quite a good foil for each other. They've got quite a similar sensibility but, at the same time, she finds him chaotic. The going-backwards-and-forwards-in-time and the “let’s see how it goes!” attitude is not how her mathematical mind works, and yet they do work well together!”


Duration: 180 minutes approx. 

Released: September 2021, exclusively from the Big Finish website.

Director: Ken Bentley

Producer: David Richardson

Script Editor: Matt Fitton

Written by: Lizzie Hopley, Nigel Fairs, Chris Chapman

Executive Producers: Nicholas Briggs, Jason Haigh-Ellery

56. SOPHIE ALDRED - "Wicked!"

We are joined by the delightful Sophie Aldred to chat about her career, her time in Doctor Who on TV, her role in fan productions, reprising Ace for Big Finish audios and the recent release of her audiobook version of Doctor Who: At Childhood's End. 

Thanks Sophie, it was a pleasure speaking with you.

We played clips from the following stories:

Doctor Who: The Fearmonger

Doctor Who: Colditz (Guest starring David Tennant)

Doctor Who: Protect and Survive

Doctor Who: Nightshade (Full Cast Novel Adaptation)

Doctor Who: At Childhood's End (Audiobook)

Philip recommends Doctor Who: At Childhood's End (Audiobook)

Dwayne recommends The Lone Centurion Volume 1 (Big Finish Productions)

Dwayne's background artwork by Jeff Goddard

Subscribe to The Sirens of Audio on YouTube

Theme music by The Jackpot Golden Boys



Twitter: @AudioSirens


Clips and music are copyright BBC and Big Finish. No infringement is intended.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Bayban The Butcher - Back Earlier Than Expected

Just when we thought we couldn't wait for Bayban to return later this year, it’s a meeting of criminal minds in The Worlds of Blake’s 7: Avalon 2, set for release in June 2021.


Surprise! It's Bayban, back a little earlier than you might have been expecting. As a juicy appetiser to his own box set, due for release in December 2021, the man at the top of the Federation's most wanted list (after Blake, of course) bursts back onto audio in an audacious adventure with an uneasy ally – Avalon. 

The Worlds of Blake’s 7 – Avalon 2 is now available to pre-order as a collector's edition CD or digital download, exclusively at

Thieves, killers, mercenaries and psychopaths all feature in the climactic box set of the Avalon saga. The closing episode, Heart of Ice, also features the return of two fan favourites. Stephen Greif reprises his role as scheming strategist Travis, a role which he has played on television and audio, and Hugh Fraser returns as the Federation President, whom he has voiced since the 2014 audio adventure Cold Fury.

And in Bayban’s Bounty, Colin Baker returns as the rebel whose reputation for straightforward mayhem is second to none. He first appeared in the television episode City at the Edge of the World, and is now brought back to life in these full cast audio dramas.

The three tales in the second box set are as follows:

Bayban’s Bounty by Niel Bushnell

A sacred stone might inspire revolution on a recently subjugated planet – if Avalon can only retrieve it from a high-security prison. 

She enlists the help of the Vankberg Vault’s only escapee, the madman at the top of the Federation’s Most Wanted list…

Mercenary by Christopher Cooper

Funding a crusade isn’t easy, and one of Avalon’s debts has just come due. 

She and Madison undertake a dubious mission, in the company of an even more dubious gun-for-hire, a man who has betrayed them once before…

Heart of Ice by Steve Lyons

What is the Federation President doing on a frozen backwater world? Avalon is determined to uncover the secret buried in Cryonax’s mines. 

By the time she realises that Travis is setting a trap, it might just be too late…

As previously announced, Olivia Poulet returns as the rebel leader who first appeared in the TV episode Project Avalon, originally played by Julia Vidler. Olivia took on the role of Avalon in the 40th anniversary audio special Blake's 7: The Way Ahead in 2018.

Actor Colin Baker said: “Bayban the Beserker, Bayban the Butcher, Bayban the Bold, Bayban the Bad, Bayban the Everything Beginning with B apart from Benevolent! The scenery-chewing Bayban is deemed worthy of another outing.

“He’s good at what he does, he’s strong, he’s powerful, he has a will to endure, and so far, he endures!”

Producer John Ainsworth added: “Part of the way we constructed these Avalon stories was that we could have guest appearances by the surviving cast of the television show as well as guest actors. 

“The Bayban episode with Colin Baker was huge fun to do, as was the episode with Stephen Greif as Travis – and of course there will be many opportunities in the future for other characters to make surprise appearances!”

The Worlds of Blake’s 7 – Avalon 2 is available to pre-order as a collector's edition CD or digital download, exclusively from the Big Finish website.

The Worlds of Blake’s 7 – Avalon 1 is also due for release in May 2021.

Big Finish listeners can save money by pre-ordering both volumes together in a bundle.