Big Finish Remakes Lost Season of Doctor Who

Above: Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant reunite to record "Mission To Magnus" for Big Finish

Back in the mid-1980s a season of Doctor Who was planned and written, but never made for television (it fell victim to Michael Grade’s dictate to "rest" the show during the Colin Baker era). These stories are now being brought to life on audio by Big Finish, using the original cast and many of the original writers. Producer David Richardson gives SFX an exclusive preview of the Lost Stories, which begin release in November 2009 with "The Nightmare Fair"

How did the Lost Stories come about?
The idea of making the cancelled Season 23 was something I wanted to do since first walking through the doors of Big Finish 18 months ago. My own private crusade was helped by the fact that other people were writing into our forum and suggesting the same thing, and I think our audio adaptations of the three Doctor Who stage plays paved the way for us doing non-original stories. Imagine my delight when, about eight months ago, [executive producers] Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs said, ‘Let’s do it!’

What was the next stage?
Well, I had to present the case to our contacts at the production office in Cardiff and at BBC Audio, and as ever they were brilliantly supportive of the project. I then approached Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and some of the writers, and pretty much got the same response from everyone. Each of the writers said the script was still in their loft, that they felt that it was unfinished business, and they were delighted to finally let their work see the light of day, with the original stars back in their roles.

What can you reveal about the stories?
As an exclusive to SFX I can reveal that we are doing eight stories, not seven as originally planned. As fate would have it, once we announced the Lost Stories I had a call from a writer whose late father had written a full script for Season 22 - he sent it to me, and we jumped at the chance to add it to the line-up.

We’ve already recorded "Mission To Magnus" by Philip Martin, for which the brilliant Nabil Shaban returns as Sil, teaming up with the Ice Warriors (as played by Nick Briggs and James George). As those who have read the novelisation will know, the story of Magnus splits pretty much into two distinct halves - so we had one day recording with Sil, the Time Lord Anzor and the matriarchs of the planet, and a second with the Doctor’s young ally Vion and the Ice Warriors.

"The Nightmare Fair" is recording on March 9 and 10. We plan to announce most - if not all - of the line-up for the rest of the series in April.

But how come there are eight stories? Surely the season was only going to be six stories long?
While all the stories star Colin and Nicola, only half of them were intended for Season 23. Others were likely "floating" scripts that failed to find a slot during the Sixth Doctor’s era, possibly due to budgetary concerns and the like. I’ve been delighted by just how good these scripts are – and how well they stand the test of time.

Will Michael Gough be returning as the Toymaker?
No. Michael is a sprightly 96 years old now and has earned his retirement from the acting profession. So we’ve got a new Toymaker in the form of a brilliant actor who will be known to most fans of Doctor Who. I can’t wait to see what he does with the role.

Do any of the other scripts feature returning old monsters?
Yes, there’s a surprise return for one old monster.

Is that the Autons in "Yellow Fever and How to Cure It"?
No. I know there’s a lot of anticipation that we will make that story, but it doesn’t exist - Robert Holmes wrote just a plot synopsis for episode one. Nothing else. No scripts. If we tried to make "Yellow Fever" from that, we’d be making something new and different - and that would move away from what I see as the whole point of doing the Lost Stories.

What are your hopes for the series?
I just hope that people enjoy it as much as we’re enjoying making it. Together these stories really do feel like a lost season of Doctor Who, and that’s tremendously satisfying. I’m hoping that people support the Lost Stories by buying them, and I’m hoping that if they are successful we may possibly do more.

The Lost Stories will be released monthly from November 2009.

For more information about Big Finish visit www.bigfinish.com .

Above: Nabil Shaban reprises his role as Sil for "Mission To Magnus"