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