1. Republica
  2. Island of Lost Souls
  3. Prosperity Island
  4. The Left Hand of Darkness
  5. The Other Side
  6. Guests for the Night
Season 26b

Released 1998

Starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred

Synopsis: The Professor and Ace travel the universe.


A Conversation by Stephen Maslin 25/4/16

So after the Sixth Doctor, then what?

Well, first there was Season 24...

Wasn't that supposed to be a bit rubbish?

The music's terrible but it's nowhere near as bad as people say. Paradise Towers is pretty good and Delta and the Bannermen is not that bad either.

Was Season 25 any better?

Well, a lot of fans think this is something of a return to form. Most of it scores pretty highly in polls. Remembrance of the Daleks is the best Dalek story since the mid-seventies... The Happiness Patrol and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy don't let the side down. Pity the music's still so bad.

Did the next season keep up the good work?

Nah. There's only one good story...

The Curse of Henry?

Of Fenric, yeah. But the rest is pants.


Terrible, dreadful, no damn good. Cancelled after that. I think it deserved it. But even though it wasn't on TV anymore, it kept going in other formats: books and stuff. Timewyrm, Cat's Cradle, Nightshade, Republica...

Just let me check my notes... Hang on. There is no Doctor Who story called Republica.

Yes there is! Starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, written by the same guy who wrote Nightshade. Put these headphones on.

[one hour later]

Well, I really enjoyed that, thanks. So why doesn't it show up on my list of Who stories?


Before Big Finish, audio producers of Doctor Who stories since 1999, there was BBV. Their mission statement was pretty much the same: to produce Doctor Who stories for the legions of fans who hadn't managed to break the habit. Problem was that they were not licensed to use the name of the show or of the character (and were not allowed to use that famous theme tune either). A few well-known foes were off limits too. What to do, what to do...

At first, it didn't seem to present much of a problem: everyone knew that when 'The Professor and Ace' appeared (in a run of six audio stories released between May and November 1998), what one was really listening to was Doctor Who. That was the CDs' sole raison d'etre and the genius of it was that with Ace so often calling The Doctor "Professor" on TV, her doing so again did not destroy the illusion. All you had to do was design your own cover with the Doctor Who logo on it, splice in the correct theme tune and hey presto! Better still, they were good - I mean it - very much striking a balance that both Seventh Doctor TV and the New Adventures book range failed to achieve, the former too lightweight, the latter too grown-up. Hell, even the substitute theme tune was pretty good too, a wistful, synthy waltz, full of longing and regret.

In fact, I have precious few complaints about 'Season 26b', other than:

Other than these really quite minor gripes, I've nothing but praise for what BBV came up with: effective stories with lots of variety and great performances from the two leads.

At some point, however, someone must have tapped BBV on the shoulder and told them they could no longer use the name Ace. This was just enough to erase the thin veneer of authenticity. So it was that when Sylv and Soph returned a few releases later in the BBV schedules, as Dom and Alice (under the rather bland title of The Time Travellers), you could no longer con yourself into thinking it was Doctor Who without the pictures. To be fair, with the possible exception of Ghosts, the stories weren't as good either (and officially sanctioned Big Finish Productions were looming on the horizon...)

Still, be thankful that the little gems of 'Season 26b' ever existed at all. If you're a collector of quality Who in any medium, there's no good reason why you shouldn't possess them.


26b.1 Republica 8/10

26b.2 Island of Lost Souls 8/10

26b.3 Prosperity Island 4/10

26b.4 The Left Hand of Darkness 7/10

26b.5 The Other Side 7/10

26b.6 Guests for the Night 7.5/10