Big Finish Productions
Big Finish Talks Back:
The Eighth Doctor Authors

Format Compact Disc Cover image
Released 2002

Featuring Paul Cornell, Caroline Symcox, Justin Richards, Robert Shearman, Alan Barnes, Mark Gatiss and Nicholas Briggs

Synopsis: The authors of the eighth Doctor audio adventures discuss their work.


They don't stop talking... by Jamas Enright 26/3/03

One of the innovations Big Finish have been able to develop is the idea of new Doctor Who stories. Paul McGann is more than willing to return to the part of the Eighth Doctor, and so there is this potential for new stories that don't have to fit in any gap at all, that can feature people, mainly companions, that you don't know will still be alive by the end of the story.

Big Finish produced a first 'season' of McGann audios of four stories, then brought him back for a second 'season' of six stories, picking up on a major plot element left unexplained and ending on a big bang. And in this special 'behind the scenes' disc, the producer Gary Russell hosts a gathering of the authors of those later plays, featuring Mark Gatiss (Invaders from Mars), Robert Shearman (The Chimes of Midnight), Paul Cornell and Caroline Symcox (Seasons of Fear), Nick Briggs (Embrace the Darkness), Justin Richards (The Time of the Daleks) and Alan Barnes (Neverland).

The first thing that comes across in this chat session is what a 'luvvie' time everyone is having of it all. There's a lot of fun in the atmosphere, and it comes across as a nice informal get together and a chance to talk about everyone's experiences with writing for the Eighth Doctor. The main feeling that Big Finish bring to their 'behind the scenes' CDs (he says, after his small experience with the companion CD and the small interview at the end of Walking to Babylon) is that everyone is glad to be involved, they're all here because they're doing something they enjoy, and that's a great feeling to have. However, since there are eight people in the room talking, especially with seven of them male, it can be very difficult working who exactly is talking at any given moment. I recognise a few voices, but it would have been nice to have a few more cues as to who was saying what, even if it was a rather forced 'I, Alan Barnes, think...'.

A fair amount of ground is covered, from how the authors felt about writing for this Doctor, to the acting of Paul McGann and India Fisher, and to where from here the Doctor could go. We also find out quite a bit about how the workings of the plays are done, especially the limitations, or 'challenges', the writers have with needing to keep to a limited cast, and the more general problems of writing for audios. Whilst this is all very nice (and it is very nice), the fanboy side of me was hoping for something a little more substantial about the stories themselves, the ins and outs, the behind the scene details as to the real explanation of story points, what was missed, etc. While that isn't everyone's cup of tea, it was something I was hoping for.

As I said, I did find it hard to tell who was talking, so I can't entirely say that everyone got a fair say. There was a mixture of people, certainly, but I can say there wasn't a lot from Caroline Symcox. Whether that was from the rest of the men not letting her have a chance to have her say (possibly, although I doubt it) or because she felt she didn't have as much to contribute (she claims to not really being a Doctor Who fan), this does point to some people having more to say that others (certianly Gary Russell, who's voice I can recognise, had a lot of input in this discussion).

Briefly, on the production side, all the voices come across clear and easy to make out, and there is nice Doctor Who-ish music book-ending the CD.

In all, a great look at some of the inner workings, but I just wish it could have gone on longer! There's a heck of a lot more that could have been said.