Big Finish writing competition

Big Finish have opened the annual Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trips writing competition. Now in its sixth year, the competition honours the memory of Paul Spragg, a much-loved member of the Big Finish production office who passed away suddenly on 8 May 2014. Past winners include Forever Fallen by Joshua Wanisko, 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. The competition is seeking new writers to create a Doctor Who short story to be released as an audiobook for Christmas 2021. Entries close at the end of June 2021, with details on how to enter available on the Big Finish website.

Big Finish shelve John Barrowman audio

The May 2021 Torchwood release from Big Finish was all set to reunite John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness with David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor in a story many fans have been eagerly anticipating – Torchwood: Absent Friends. Instead, a statement was released in the news update from the company stating: “Big Finish has taken the decision to remove Torchwood: Absent Friends from the Monthly Range release schedule and has no plans to publish this title at this time.” An alternative title was offered in its place and refunds were provided for those who had purchased the item on pre-order.

No explanation was provided by Big Finish in its statement, but the decision seems to have been motivated by recent allegations that Barrowman exposed himself to colleagues on the Doctor Who set prior to 2008. John Barrowman spoke to The Guardian about the allegations, stating that his behaviour was “only ever intended in good humour to entertain colleagues on set and backstage” and that “with the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behaviour and I have apologised for this previously. Since my apology in November 2008, my understanding and behaviour have also changed.” John Barrowman has also thanked the fan community for sending him messages of support during the recent media attention, stating that “it has meant such a great deal to me and has really touched me to know that people are supporting me and standing by me and sending their love and all of their appreciation and kind words”.

Further to discussion on Barrowman’s past behaviour, the BBC have launched an investigation into misconduct allegations made against actor and director Noel Clarke, who played character Mickey Smith in Doctor Who. He has been accused of verbal abuse, bullying and sexual harassment, something that Clarke and his lawyers have vehemently denied.

New Douglas Adams book

Since his passing 20 years ago on 11 May 2001, Doctor Who writer and script-editor Douglas Adams has lived on through various publications, including the novelisations of his Doctor Who stories City of Death and Pirate Planet and even his lost story Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen. While these novelisations have been co-credited to writers working from the original scripts, a new book promises to contain all new material direct from the brain of Adams himself.

42: the wildly improbable ideas of Douglas Adams is to be a full colour, large format hardcover book, featuring never-seen-before extracts drawn from Douglas Adams’s papers, which were loaned to his old Cambridge college, St John’s, after his death. In excess of 60 boxes full of notebooks, research, letters, scripts, jokes, speeches, to-do lists, hard drives and poems are being edited by Kevin Jon Davies for the publication. The book will also include letters to Douglas written for this occasion, including from fellow Doctor Who alumni Neil Gaiman, collaborators John Lloyd and Dirk Maggs, and science fiction actors Simon Jones and Stephen Fry.

The book will be published in 2022, the year that Douglas Adams would have celebrated his 70th birthday.

Data Extract 249 released

This week issue 249 of Data Extract hit the post, featuring a range of articles and features. The Valeyard Time War story concludes, the Boffin expounds on the Third Doctor’s tattoo, we go behind the scenes for the Newcastle Local Group meeting with Bonnie Langford, find out how Fury from the Deep was reconstructed in an interview with animator Luke Marcatili, talk to BritBox about their long-term plans for streaming Doctor Who, catch up with the students of Neutral Bay Public School as they recall the day Tom Baker came to visit and reflect on 40 years of DE publication history. Remember, Data Extract is a subscription magazine for members of the Doctor Who Club of Australia, so if you want a copy make sure your subscription is up to date. Next up – the milestone issue 250 – don’t miss out!

Big Finish trailer reintroduces the Ninth Doctor

Fans around the world celebrated the news that Christopher Eccleston was returning to the role of the Ninth Doctor for a series of Big Finish audio productions. Now that they’ve seen release, Big Finish have gone to town with a trailer than teases all sorts of wonders for the series and, for those who were around back in 2005 waiting eagerly for his first appearance as the Doctor, bears a remarkable similarity to how it all began. Check out the new Big Finish trailer and the original BBC 2005 trailer below to see what we mean!


Standard Packaging Blu-rays… but not for Australia

BBC America released them back in 2018 and now BBC UK have announced that Doctor Who: The Collection Blu-rays will be released in standard packaging following the initial limited edition release. As with the US version, the disc content won’t change, but the packaging will be slightly different. The standard packaging rereleases will be sold in a plastic Blu-ray case with a condensed 12-page booklet featuring the disc-breakdowns and all the same content and special features that was in the original release. New releases within the Collection range will now be marketed as Doctor Who: The Collection Limited Edition Packaging, with the standard edition range labelled just as Doctor Who: The Collection. The decision has been motivated by the demand for these releases, which quickly sold out when the limited editions came out, leaving many fans with gaps in their collection. The DWCA contacted Universal, the current distributors for Doctor Who DVDs and Blu-rays in Australia, to find out if there were plans for a local release of the standard editions. Alas, there are currently no plans to release them in Australia. On the up side though, the next limited edition release, the Season 24 Blu-ray, is currently scheduled to be released in Australia on 25 August 2021, so we do have that to look forward to! Red Kangs are best!

DWCA Western Sydney Tavern – on again 9 April

It’s back on 9 April 2021 – the next DWCA Western Sydney Tavern! You can meet up and hang out with organizer Dallas Jones and other Who fans from about 6.30pm at the Lone Pine Tavern, Rooty Hill, located at 15 Rooty Hill Road, Rooty Hill, NSW. The plan is for attendees to meet in the dining area, so look for a table with a TARDIS model. The Lone Pine Tavern is within a short distance of Rooty Hill Station for those people who want to come along via public transport and the venue has plenty of parking for those coming by car. The more the merrier!

The Britbox Interview (or how to stream every episode from Hartnell to Whittaker)

Since the earliest days of the program fans of Doctor Who have sought ways to hang onto the experience of watching their favourite show. In the 1960s telesnaps and reel to reel tapes were the only way to record it, but these gave way to audio cassettes in the 1970s and 1980s, VHS tapes in the 1990s, then the opportunity to buy official releases from video to LaserDisc, DVD and BluRay. Since the advent of streaming services, Australian fans have been given the opportunity to carry the ability to watch the show around with them wherever they go on a mobile phone, although there has never been a consistent service offering everything across the entire range from Classic to Modern Who… until now. The DWCA caught up with Sarah Kenny, Head of Content at BritBox Australia, to talk nitty gritty on what this streaming service has to offer Australian Doctor Who fans…

Currently BritBox Australia has a comprehensive collection of Doctor Who content from William Hartnell’s First Doctor right through to Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth. My understanding is that BritBox Australia may be the only territory that covers both classic era and post-2005 Doctor Who – is that true? If so, how did Australia get to be so lucky?

Yes that’s true, or in Australia at least. BritBox is home to the largest collection of Doctor Who in Australia, which includes all time classics and recent seasons. We are unsure about how we stack up against other territories and services worldwide, but we certainly hope to eventually be able to take the #1 spot.

There are some extant episodes of Doctor Who in the BBC archives from incomplete stories that are not currently on BritBox. Currently The Wheel in Space is the only story with the remaining episodes available to stream, with the remaining episodes from incomplete stories like The Crusade, Galaxy 4, The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Celestial Toymaker, Evil of the Daleks, Abominable Snowmen and The Space Pirates absent. Will the remaining individual episodes from these incomplete stories be added?

There is nothing we would love more than to be able to add some of these titles to the BritBox catalogue. Unfortunately we are unable to license the rights to these at present, however rest assured we are definitely working on adding these to the collection for Australian Doctor Who fans.

There are some animated reconstructions on BritBox, such as The Macra Terror and Power of the Daleks. There are also some incomplete stories with their missing episodes animated, such as The Tenth Planet, Moonbase, The Ice Warriors and Invasion. Those currently missing though that do have animations available are The Reign of Terror, The Faceless Ones and Fury from the Deep – will these be added to the catalogue soon?

These animated episodes are certainly on our radar and we are currently working on adding these episodes to the collection if possible. We hope to be able to keep you updated in the future!

The Faceless Ones is the first animated reconstruction where episodes still extant in the BBC archives were also animated along with the missing ones. If added to BritBox would you make available the black and white animated reconstructions with the remaining episodes, or the full colour animated only version – or both?

We can confirm that we always work tirelessly to ensure we have the best content for Doctor Who lovers and BritBox fans. While we don’t currently have the rights for The Faceless Ones, we can confirm that if we were able to add this to BritBox, the final content we include would absolutely fit the best interests of our audience – whether it be black and white, full colour, or both.

BritBox has included telesnap reconstructions of missing episodes for The Underwater Menace and The Web of Fear – are there any plans to do the same for other missing episodes that have not yet been animated, such as Marco Polo, The Crusade, Galaxy 4, Mission to the Unknown, The Myth Makers, The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Massacre, The Celestial Toymaker, The Savages, The Smugglers, The Highlanders, Evil of the Daleks, The Abominable Snowmen, The Wheel in Space and The Space Pirates?

We are huge fans of these animated telesnaps as well. BritBox Australia is unable to license the rights to this content at present, however as we add more to the service, we hope that some of these episodes will feature on BritBox Australia in the future.

The first part of the missing Episode One of The Wheel in Space was animated back in 2018 and included as an extra on a Blu-ray/DVD release – does BritBox have any plans to include it on the streaming service?

While we won’t be streaming the animation of The Wheel in Space in the near future, we are really excited to share that BritBox in the US did a telesnap recon of the missing episodes. We are currently working to get the rights to these so Aussie Doctor Who fans will be able to stream these on demand!

The missing episode Mission to the Unknown was recreated in 2019 by students at the University of Central Lancashire. Are there any plans to include this recreation on BritBox?

While we would love to be able to include this missing episode recreation on BritBox Australia, unfortunately we have not been able to obtain the appropriate clearance at the moment.

BritBox currently has the 2016 animated version of Power of the Daleks available, but this was recently updated by the same animators to create a new and improved version in 2020. Will the 2016 version be replaced by the 2020 one at some stage?

We are really happy to have the 2016 animated version currently available on BritBox. We are currently working behind the scenes to get the appropriate clearance to be able to add the 2020 version at some point in the future.

Radio Times recently confirmed that 2021 will see the release of animated reconstructions of The Abominable Snowmen and Evil of the Daleks. How soon after such new animations are released on Blu-ray and DVD will BritBox be able to offer them to subscribers?

This is a work in progress. We can’t give a firm answer on the timeline for this one, but what we can say is that we’re working with the team to confirm availability and clearance. We really hope to add these to BritBox at some stage in the future.

Episode One of Invasion of the Dinosaurs is currently only available in black and white on BritBox. A colour version of it (albeit of lesser quality) was included on the DVD release for this story – does BritBox have any plans to make the colour version available as an extra?

Episode One of Invasion of The Dinosaurs is currently available on BritBox in black and white. We don’t plan on having the colour version available.

The Eighth Doctor is currently represented on BritBox by the 1996 telemovie, but there are two other Eighth Doctor appearances available in visual form – the alternate version of Shada that he featured in, with simple animation accompanying, and the short film Night of the Doctor showing his regeneration to the War Doctor. Is BritBox likely to add either of these to their Eighth Doctor collection?

Unfortunately we were unable to obtain the rights for the alternate version of Shada, however, we do have the 2017 Tom Baker version in our collection for Doctor Who fans. As for Night of the Doctor, BritBox Australia doesn’t currently stream shortform content. This is already widely available online in places such as YouTube and we recommend Doctor Who fans tune in to find and enjoy this specific content there.

The War Doctor was only ever featured in the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor. Would BritBox consider compiling clips featuring him from that into a short Time War episode, including his regeneration scene, to bridge the narrative gap between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors? If so, would you also include the short Time War film The Last Day?

As a whole, BritBox doesn’t take shortform content. As such, streaming The Last Day on BritBox isn’t something we would consider including on the service in the future.

There are two multi-Doctor specials currently not available on BritBox – Dimensions in Time and Time Crash. Are there any plans to add these?

We don’t have plans to add either of these multi-Doctor specials to BritBox at the moment even though we would love to include them! Unfortunately, these specials are not able to be cleared for BritBox Australia.

There are two Tenth Doctor animated stories – The Infinite Quest and Dreamland – are there any plans to make these available through BritBox?

Absolutely! We hope to include both the Infinite Quest AND Dreamland to our collection at a later date. Keep your eyes peeled for these new additions!

The latest Thirteenth Doctor story Revolution of the Daleks isn’t currently available on BritBox – how soon will that be added to the catalogue?

We are big fans of Revolution of the Daleks as well here at BritBox. We are working to be able to add this to BritBox in Australia as soon as possible.

BritBox currently has some Doctor Who extras and spin-offs, including the original pilot episode from 1963, the docu-drama An Adventure in Space and Time and K9 and Company. With BritBox so close to having a complete catalogue of all Doctor Who episodes in its archives, are there any plans to also add the spin-off shows Class, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and K9?

There’s nothing we would like more than to be able to have a complete catalogue of Doctor Who on BritBox. We can confirm that both Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures are titles we hope to add to the collection in the future.

The BBC recently released the animated series Daleks! on their YouTube channel as part of the Time Lord Victorious event – are there any plans to add this to BritBox as well?

This is already available in full on YouTube. From our perspective, we don’t have any current plans to add the animated series of Daleks! to BritBox due to clearance and access.

There are a number of unofficial spin-offs set in the Doctor Who universe, featuring Doctor Who actors, produced over the years by Reeltime, BBV and Dreamwatch Media, the most recent being the award winning Sil and the Devil Seeds of Arodor. Would Britbox consider adding more obscure productions like these to their list of Doctor Who extras?

We are always open to adding more Doctor Who to BritBox, however in this particular instance, adding this unofficial spin-off of Sil and the Devil Seeds of Arodor is not currently on the agenda for BritBox in Australia due to clearance.

There were two Dalek movies made in the 1960s featuring Peter Cushing as the Doctor – is there any chance these might be added as extras?

We are very excited to say there is a big chance these will be added to BritBox! Both of these titles will be coming soon to BritBox, so please stay tuned for further announcements.

A lot of behind the scenes documentaries have been made about Doctor Who over the years – are there any plans for these to be added to the available extras on BritBox?

We understand behind-the-scenes and documentaries regarding Doctor Who are of great interest to fans of the series and we hope to be able to add some of these to the collection at some stage in the future.

The BBC has produced a number of other iconic science fiction shows over the years, many of which are also of interest to Doctor Who fans. From A for Andromeda to Quatermass, from Blake’s 7 to Red Dwarf, there are a lot of other programs BritBox could add to consolidate its position as the number one location for British science fiction. What are the long-term plans for programs to add and expansions in this area?

We know there is a huge love for British Sci-Fi content and at BritBox we absolutely plan to grow our Sci-Fi offering and hours of content over time. BritBox launched just three months ago so we are still very new in the market, but we will absolutely look to add more classic and new British Sci-Fi to ensure that our loyal and discerning Doctor Who viewers continue to have access to exclusive British Sci-Fi shows all in the one place. Suggestions for new content and series are always welcomed!

The DWCA would like to thank Sarah Kenny and the BritBox Australia team for taking the time to answer our questions. You can now stream every complete Doctor Who story from An Unearthly Child to The Timeless Children on BritBox Australia for $8.99 per month or $89.99 for a year long subscription, with a 7 day free trial available to check it out before you decide.

Big Finish Milestone

Way back in May 1999 Big finish kicked off its range of monthly Doctor Who releases with the multi-Doctor story The Sirens of Time. Almost 22 yeas later and the company has decided to end the monthly adventures, focusing instead on box-set releases. The 275th consecutive monthly Doctor Who adventure from Big Finish will be the last in that range, so they’ve decided to go out with a bang with another multi-Doctor story, appropriately titled The End of the Beginning.

Featuring Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, along with Mark Strickson, India Fisher and Miranda Raison, the story promises to be a celebration of over two decades of monthly audio adventures, as well as a toast to the exciting future that still lies ahead.

Writer Rob Valentine stated: “I wanted it to be a big celebration of The Monthly Adventures Doctors, and also something of a promise that their adventures are far from over. Knowing it was the last story of the range, I knew it had to have a certain weight and a bit of a ‘victory lap’ feel to it. And I also wanted to make it as fun and exciting as I possibly could.”

Executive producer Nicholas Briggs, writer of The Sirens of Time way back in 1999, commented: “The change to the Main or The Monthly Adventures range is simply a re-organisation to make Big Finish’s Doctor Who audios more accessible to a wider audience. To anyone visiting us for the first time, trying to work out where to start or which set of adventures to embark upon first, it’s very confusing that each Doctor doesn’t have their own separate range. And that confusion creates a barrier between a potential listener and Big Finish, and a listener losing out. By reorganising the way we release things, we’re not stopping/cancelling/ending anything. You can see which Doctors feature in which adventures. This really is the beginning of something very exciting… so many thrilling adventures ahead.”

The End of the Beginning has just been released and is available now from Big Finish.


Global Fans Unite for The Seven Doctors Audio

During the worldwide lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Doctor Who fans from across the globe sought to support each other through friendship and collaboration. In the spirit of sharing the Doctor Who Club of Australia offered digital copies of its various fan publications to members of the US based Guardians of Gallifrey, just as the Guardians themselves shared their own publications with members of the DWCA. In the aftermath of this mutual appreciation, a further collaboration was instigated – the dramatic recording of readings of fan fiction stories from the pages of the Guardians of Gallifrey publication Tales from the Matrix, bringing the tales to new life through audio productions. And the first of these has just been released!

Read by the author, US based David W. Dietz III, who just happens to be an actor, stage-screen writer, filmmaker and audiobook producer/narrator, with editing and sound production from Australian based musician and audio engineer Roger Reynolds, the tale sees all seven of the classic era Doctors face off against the triple threat of the Master, Omega and the Daleks! Make sure you check it out on the DR Productions podcast website, where you will also find some of their earlier productions, including dramatic readings of Fourth Doctor story Wertham, and Ninth Doctor stories Extinction Day and The Blue Tree, along with the full cast audio productions Nexus and Rainbow Serpent.

You can check them all out at the DR Productions podcast site.