Doctor Who Black Thursday

The True Story Behind Big Finish’s Black Thursday

Big Finish have released a new Fifth Doctor audio, starring Peter Davison, Janet Fielding (as Tegan), Mark Strickson (Turlough), and Jon Culshaw (Kamelion). Doctor Who: Black Thursday by Jamie Anderson dramatizes a 1902 mining disaster in the Welsh town of Abertysswg that cost the lives of 17 miners, the youngest of whom was just 17.

The gas explosion occurred at around 23.00 on the 3rd of September 1902 in No. 1 pit at the McLaren mine, which had previous been considered safe. Given that there were 120 men on shift that night, the casualty figure could have been much higher. Jamie – the son of Thunderbirds creator, the late Gerry Anderson – became intrigued by the story when he moved to the village at the end of 2017. He says:

“The personal sacrifices and tragedies were really brought home to me when I found the miners’ memorial just up the road from my home… when I was offered the chance to write a story for Fifth Doctor Peter Davison with a rare appearance from companion Kamelion, I knew this was a story that I really wanted to tell…”

The Evening Express and Evening Mail, Friday 5th September 1902

Of course, this isn’t the first time Doctor Who has ventured down the mine. The Third Doctor famously battled a fearsome contingent of giant maggots  (and an even more terrifying welter of national stereotypes) plaguing the Welsh town of Llanfairfach in the iconic 1973 story, The Green Death. In 2010, Matt Smith’s Doctor was in another Welsh mining village  ̶  Cwmtaff  ̶  this time to broker a ceasefire between Humans and Silurians in the Chibnall-penned two-parter, The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood. Black Thursday is a departure though, as it dramatizes  ̶ “albeit with a science fiction twist”  ̶  a real-life disaster. Jamie goes on:

“Whether or not you’re familiar with mining in the Welsh valleys in the early 20th Century, this story will give you something to stop and think about. The personal sacrifices and loss of life that occurred in collieries across the country and wider world should never be forgotten.”

Black Thursday is available on CD and download from Big Finish Productions.