So, you’d like to listen to some Eighth Doctor stories from Big Finish, you’ve popped over to the website, looked at The Collected Eighth Doctor page, found there are (as of the end of May 2018) a mere 106 titles ranging over the past 17 years, and thought – where do I start? Luckily, we’ve got your back! We’ve also suggested different ways to listen, and pricing where available. It should be noted Big Finish has frequent sales and offers so these prices can be improved upon, including with subscriptions for main range titles.
First, some assumptions: you’ve haven’t heard any of the releases, you’re open to suggestions, and you want the best selection of good titles you can listen to for the smallest investment. In some ways, the answer is really easy – get a Spotify subscription and start listening to the vast array of early Big Finish, including lots of Eighth Doctor, the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh, plus lots of other great titles, including (as of November 2017) five boxsets of the brilliant Jago & Litefoot.
Meanwhile, back to Paul McGann’s Doctor.
One thing to point out before we dig in, is the Big Finish titles almost entirely (see the odds and ends section later) carve out new ground with new companions. You may also have seen Night of the Doctor (and if you haven’t, watch it above), and you might have noticed Paul McGann looks different (ignoring ageing) to how he did in Doctor Who: The TV Movie; the transition between Byronic (and wig-wearing) Doctor and slightly-weathered explorer takes place in a Big Finish release (see Dark Eyes below). If you’ve seen Night of the Doctor, you’ll remember the Doctor’s list of companions: Charley, C’rizz, Lucie, Tamsin, and Molly. As of 2013, those were the Big Finish Eighth Doctor companions, and provide a key to starting points for the audio dramas.
The Big Finish Eighth Doctor companions
The full list of Big Finish companions (to date) in order of appearance with the Eighth Doctor is:
- Charley Pollard
- C’rizz (appears with Charley)
- Lucie Miller
- Tamsin Drew (appears with Lucie)
- Molly o’Sullivan
- Liv Chenka
- Helen Sinclair
If that weren’t enough, he also has appeared with the following (the previously mentioned odds and ends):
- Romana 2
- Mary Shelley
- Fitz (from the novels)
- Izzy (from the comics)
- Bernice Summerfield (novels, Big Finish audios)
The next sections outline each of them and how best to use them as a starting point.
Charley Pollard (including C’rizz), 2001 – 2007
Charley Pollard, Edwardian Adventuress (and only one to appear as a companion in the Doctor Who Legacy game), is the first companion for Paul McGann on audio, appearing right back in 2001. Performed by India Fisher (voice of the UK TV Masterchef), she has appeared in 27 titles with Paul McGann plus many others. She is a young girl, left home seeking adventure, and is rescued by the Doctor and taken on a whole host of adventures. These break into three waves:
- Lots of travelling in the TARDIS, meeting many monsters, and saving the day before getting mixed up with the Time Lords;
- Entering a strange dimension, the Divergent Universe, where they meet the alien C’rizz who travels with them;
- Returning to our universe, standard adventures, and eventually both C’rizz and Charley leave. Charley goes on to travel with the Sixth Doctor and get her own series.
If Charley Pollard is for you, where should you start? Our recommendation is to dive into the first set of stories. There are eleven in all, published between 2001 and 2003. To buy all eleven would cost £32.89 and they are download only. They are all included with a Spotify subscription. If you just want to sample this set of stories, the minimum set should include:
- Storm Warning – Charley’s introduction, Paul McGann’s first Big Finish, and essential listening;
- Sword of Orion – a personal favourite, a big Cyberman story;
- Chimes of Midnight – an all-time classic and fan favourite, written by Rob Shearman and one of the few Big Finish titles to make it to vinyl. It’s also a Christmas story;
- Seasons of Fear – we jump to New Year’s Eve, Raffles hotel, and a story that hints at things to come;
- Neverland – Time Lords, Romana, Web of Time, and nursery rhymes;
- Zagreus – The 50th main range title, on three discs, not the usual two, and with a vast host of cameos. Mad, over the top, and not universally liked but does end with the Doctor and Charley being abandoned in a new realm.
To listen to those only would cost £17.94 or free on Spotify.
If you do want to follow Charley’s adventures further, you have to think about the Divergent Universe arc. Before the show came back to TV, Big Finish decided to experiment with the only Doctor whose destiny was unwritten. There are some ideas, a new companion in the form of Conrad Westmaas’s C’rizz, and lots of surreal ideas. The return of the show to TV meant the Eighth Doctor needed to get back to our reality to allow a later regeneration, so the Divergent Universe was cut short. It covers eight titles from 2003 – 2004, and is almost entirely skippable, despite some interesting stories in their own right.
To buy the Divergent Universe arc would cost £48 on CD or £23.92 on download. It’s not on Spotify. The minimum set is:
- Scherzo – a brilliant two-hander by Rob Shearman, almost worth buying even if you don’t get the others. It’s strange and poignant, and bridges the old to the new;
- Creed of the Kromon – introduces C’rizz;
- Caerdroia – another strange story, but perhaps the best of them;
- The Next Life – another three disc epic with a stand-out performance from Paul Darrow. It end with the TARDIS taking our heroes home.
To buy just these stories would cost £24, or £23.92 on download.
Now back in our reality, Charley and C’rizz both travel with the Doctor between 2005 and 2007. There are eight stories costing £48 to buy on CD or £23.92 download. There are at least four worth listening to at a minimum:
- Other Lives – one of the best C’rizz stories;
- Memory Lane – a surreal suburbia with ice cream vans;
- Absolution – farewell to C’rizz;
- The Girl Who Never Was – farewell to Charley, and one of her best stories.
To get just these costs £24 on CD, £11.96 on download.
Lucie Miller (including Tamsin Drew), 2007 – 2011
As Charley was moving on, the Eighth Doctor was moving out. With the new show on TV, Paul McGann acquired his own feisty companion in the form of Sheridan Smith as Lucie Miller. These came out in their own series of single disc releases. Good news here: the first series is available on Spotify and have all been on BBC Radio 4 Extra. If you are in the UK, keep an eye on the schedules. Other Big Finish titles also appear there so it’s worth a look occasionally.
There are four series altogether, and once you’ve tried the first, the rest should be a foregone conclusion. There are many excellent stories. The first three series ran for eight discs, costing £72 on CD or £64 on download. The fourth series introduced Tamsin Drew (played by Niky Wardley) and the return of Susan with her son, Alex (played by Paul McGann’s son, Jake). It ran for ten discs, and would cost £81 to buy on CD, £72 on download.
If you just want to sample the first series, the minimum listen is:
- Blood of the Daleks Parts 1 and 2 – Daleks on the planet Red Rocket Rising (good name for a blog!), and the arrival of Lucie in the TARDIS;
- Horror of Glam Rock – Paul Magrs gives us pop stars, Lucie’s aunt, and Bernard Cribbins!
- Phobos – eerie happenings on the moon of Mars;
- Human Resources Parts 1 and 2 – Cybermen and the reveal of a secret!
Even this reduced set is still six discs and would cost £65.94 on CD or £53.94 on download.
Molly O’Sullivan (appears with Liv Chenka), 2012 – 2015
The end of the Lucie Miller era was a watershed for the Eighth Doctor, who in a quest for hope finds himself in World War I. There, he meets Molly O’Sullivan (Ruth Bradley) and gets involved in (another) quest to save the universe and avoid the Daleks.
The first Dark Eyes boxset (four discs, £40 CD, £35 download) won an award and lots of plaudits. The work of Nick “Voice of the Daleks” Briggs, the Big Finish executive producer, it was conceived as a one-off but became a set of four boxsets, each priced as the first, or get the whole lot in one go for £80 (CD or download).
The latter three boxsets add new companion, Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) who had once met the Seventh Doctor. Liv is from our future and is a med-tech – think a doctor who can also treat cybernetics. Action moves across an increasingly war-torn reality, and also features the first Big Finish Master, Alex Macqueen. Each set builds to a grand climax, and Molly finally moves on, leaving Liv on the TARDIS.
Liv Chenka and Helen Sinclair, 2015 – 2019
Next stop, another set of stories, and another possible starting point with Doom Coalition.
There’s a set of foes across these four boxsets (again priced £40 on CD or £35 on download or get the whole lot for £80). There’s some superb villains, including Mark Bonnar’s The Eleven (a Time Lord whose past incarnations still live on in his mind). The second story is John Dorney’s much praised The Red Lady, a genuine scary story and a chance for 1960s museum worker, Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan) to join the TARDIS.
The stories involve Time Lords a plenty, and an appearance by Alex Kingston as River Song.
Doom Coalition is followed by Ravenous, and it’s early days with only one released set at the time of writing, but that did include the return of the Kandy Man! These are priced at £23 for CD, £20 for download (the bundle price is £90 on CD, saving £2, and the same £80 on download!).
Bliss 2017 – 2020
Finally, if you’re mostly interested in the Time War, here’s a chance to live events with the Eighth Doctor and new companion, Bliss (Rakhee Thakrar).
We’ve only had one volume so far, but more are coming very soon (each is £40 on CD, £35 on download, or £80 for the whole set of four boxsets), and the action is full-on.
Odds and ends
There have been some other Eighth Doctor releases, including:
- Shada – a timey-wimey adaptation of the Tom Baker story with Lalla Ward as Romana, for a mere £5 on two discs (no download) released in 2003;
- An Earthly Child – the Doctor finally gets back to Susan stranded on Earth, who has a son Alex (Jake McGann). Available as a subscription extra, this 2010 release is also available for £14.99 on CD, £12 on download;
- Company of Friends – four half-disc stories for the Eighth Doctor and Benny (Lisa Bowerman), Fitz (Matt di Angelo) from the novels, Izzy (Jemima Rooper) from the comics, and Mary Shelley (Julie Cox) who wrote Frankenstein in the fantastic Mary’s Story;
- Mary Shelley Trilogy– a single trilogy of stories with Mary Shelley, released in 2011, £44.97 CD, £38.97 download.
Summary of the starting points for the Eighth Doctor
|Charley Pollard – Edwardian Adventuress||Introduction (2001 – 2003)||Eleven titles = 23 discs||£32.89 download only||Spotify|
|Storm Warning, Sword of Orion, Chimes of Midnight, Seasons of Fear, Neverland, Zagreus = 13 discs||£17.94 download only||Spotify|
|The Divergent Universe (2003 – 2004)
|Eight titles = 17 discs||£48 CD, £23.92 download|
|Scherzo, Creed of the Kromon, Caerdroia, The Next Life = 9 discs||£24 CD, £11.96 download|
|Return and departure (2005 – 2007)||Eight titles = 16 discs||£48 CD, £23.92 download|
|Other Lives, Memory Lane, Absolution, The Girl Who Never Was||£24 CD, £11.96 download|
|Lucie Miller – strong willed northern lass||Series 1: Arrival (2007)||Eight discs (as a bundle)||£72 CD, £64 download||Spotify, Radio 4 Extra|
|Blood of the Daleks Parts 1 & 2, Horror of Glam Rock, Phobos, Human Resources Parts 1 & 2 = 6 discs||£65.94 CD, £53.94 download||Radio 4 Extra|
|Series 2: Adventure (2008)||8 discs (as a bundle)||£72 CD, £64 download||Radio 4 Extra|
|Series 3: More Adventure (2009)||8 discs (as a bundle)||£72 CD, £64 download||Radio 4 Extra|
|Series 4: Betrayal, second chance and departure (2010 – 2011)
|10 discs (as a bundle)||£81 CD, £72 download|
Molly o’Sullivan / Liv Chenka
|Four boxsets (2012 – 2015)||Sixteen discs overall and the Doctor gets his new look||Each set is £40 CD, £35 download or get the lot for £80 either format|
Liv Chenka & Helen Sinclair
|Four boxsets (2015 – 2017)||Sixteen discs overall||Each set is £40 CD, £35 download or get the lot for £80 either format|
Liv Chenka & Helen Sinclair
|Four boxsets (2018 – 2019)||Sixteen discs overall||Each boxset is £23 CD, £20 download|
|Four boxsets (2017 – 2020)||Sixteen discs overall||Each set is £40 CD, £35 download or get the lot for £80 either format|
|Mary Shelley – the one who wrote Frankenstein||One trilogy (2011)||Three main range stories = 6 discs||£44.97 CD, £38.97 download|
|Shada – a timey-wimey rewrite||2003||Two discs||£5 CD|
|Company of Friends – Benny, Fitz, Izzy, Mary Shelley||2009||Two discs||£14.99 CD, £12.99 download|
|Earthly Child – Susan revisited post Invasion of Earth and her son Jake||2010||One disc||£9.99 CD, £7.99 download (or free with relevant subscription)|
|River Song – the Doctor appears in the first boxset||2015||Four-disc boxset||£35 on CD, £30 on download|
You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy some of the best Doctor Who stories in existence. So what are you waiting for?
Head over to Big Finish now and enjoy the extended adventures of the Eighth Doctor!