The Macra Terror is the latest addition to a series of animated adaptations of classic Doctor Who once believed to be visually lost forever. These animations have recaptured the imagination of the Doctor Who fandom, and some parts of the general public, for the classic series and further animated adaptations of our favourite television show.
But if we want to use the medium of animation to celebrate Doctor Who, we shouldn’t just limit ourselves to episodes that have already been broadcast on TV. We should consider bringing to life stories that started in another medium.
Here is the Doctor Who Companion’s list of stories from spin-off media that we would like to see turned into moving pictures.
THE FIRST DOCTOR
Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles series are frequently character pieces, and even in the stories that have a larger list of characters and more happening, there’s still a heavy focus on the core cast.
The Library of Alexandria is one such example, and features the original TARDIS crew of Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright, and Susan visiting the port of Alexandria in the 5th Century. The opening lines of dialogue alone paint an incredible image of the scenery, and it mixes enough historical details with screen-friendly monsters, the Mim.
This story certainly lends itself to being adapted in colour, and there is one character relationship that adds an extra layer of drama – or dare I call it tension? – in the TARDIS. Oh, and you find out how the legendary Library of Alexandria becomes lost.
Iconic dialogue: “Britain must be a paradise free of terrible puns.”
Alternate picks: Venusian Lullaby was the third of Virgin’s Missing Adventures line, and features the Doctor, Ian, and Barbara visiting a very, very early Venus. It’s a landscape never explored on TV before. The Locked Room is another Companion Chronicle, and one of the most highly rated. It’s quite continuity heavy, but its incorporation of the Doctor would be fascinating to see on screen.
THE SECOND DOCTOR
An idea undoubtedly cheaper to realise in very basic 3D animations rather than full-on CGI, the titular mode of transport in The Great Space Elevator is worth the story being animated alone.
It’s not just the elevator that provides visual thrills here, with the story being located in what is currently Indonesia. There’s ‘evil’ computers, typical ‘60s Who costumes, foam, and an eery vibe. Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield accompany the Doctor for this adventure, which sometimes strays from the excitement during the lengthy elevator trip. But what would you expect? Going 1000 mile journeys was always due to have its boring moments.
The Second Doctor is all ‘fingers and thumbs’ during this story, and dispels a useful amount of GCSE Physics for younger listeners.
Iconic dialogue: “A WEE GIRL!?” (Victoria fronting up to some of Jamie’s casual sexism)
Alternate picks: Victoria is swapped for Zoe in Shadow of Death, one of the collaborative 50th anniversary specials between Big Finish and AudioGo. It’s a creepy but minimal story, and features a brilliant cameo from an important Doctor Who character. It’s adult, it’s American, and there’s probably not many people who have read Wonderland. The power of animation would really bring it to life, but we’ll leave it to you to research what it’s about.
THE THIRD DOCTOR
We’re harking back to the days of TV Comic for the third story on this list, which includes the Doctor being fired off into space in a Saturn V-esque rocket and financial fraud in 1970s Scotland. Yep, it’s that well known classic, Doctor Who and the Rocks from Venus.
The illustrations of the Third Doctor aren’t that lifelike, but he’s there in character whether that be as an all-action hero, as Liz Shaw’s laboratory assistant, or when snooping around, looking for clues. There’s a surprising amount going on in this story despite it being a short strip, although it’s very much a Doctor-only show.
Iconic dialogue: “I am returning to destroy the thing you hold most dear.”
Alternate picks: Damascus: Doctor Who meets the Prime Minister. Who wouldn’t want to see that? This encounter is more Hugh Grant than Harriet Jones, and all the more tense for it. There is also the brilliant musical The Scorchies, which swaps serious for silly in a way that includes evil alien finger puppets on BBC children’s TV.
THE FOURTH DOCTOR
There are some rave reviews about Tom Baker’s own Scratchman, but the fact it never made it to screen in the first place is telling. But if you want to stay true to the character and era, then look no further than The Ghosts of Gralstead, an audio drama born from the mind of former Doctor Who producer Philip Hinchcliffe.
The opening 15 minutes of the story are pure marvel, and it’s easy to visualise just from the dialogue and soundscape. Like many Fourth Doctor stories, it quickly gets quite dark, and it’s all the better for it with Baker’s booming tones. The cast is diverse, the setting is rich, and the acting is superb.
Iconic dialogue: “Being dead wasn’t all that bad.”
Alternate picks: Besides Scratchman, the obvious candidate for animation is The Auntie Matter. The 1920s romp features Romana I (Mary Tamm) alongside the Doctor, and is a play on P. G. Wodehouse, just like The Unicorn and the Wasp humorously took on Agatha Christie.
THE FIFTH DOCTOR
It might count as cheating seeing as there are multiple Doctors in the tale, but The Kingmaker is a brilliant story that pokes fun at Doctor Who merchandising and also has a ripper of a plot. The appearances of William Shakespeare and Richard III may conflict with their other appearances in Doctor Who media, but the adaptation could address some of these issues either seriously or just as comedically as the story does.
The voice of Richard III sounds uncannily like that of the Ninth Doctor, and the audio drama is so cleverly edited that the time-wimey plot works exquisitely. This also probably has some of the wittiest dialogue in Doctor Who history.
Iconic dialogue: “Have you ever tried getting a writer to keep a deadline? I’d say laser cannons were the minimum requirement.”
Alternate picks: Doctor Who does tax havens in Serpent in the Silver Mask, one of the more recent Fifth Doctor audios. The cast of Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan Jovanka is well served, and guest star Samuel West gets to have fun with a host of characters. Cheap to animate and majorly scary, the Weeping Angels of audio special Fallen Angels would also make a good choice.
THE SIXTH DOCTOR
There’s always debate over the best and worst of Doctor Who, but you’ll find little who argue against The Marian Conspiracy being perfect ‘season opener’ material while also tackling a controversial former UK monarch. The introduction of Evelyn Smythe and the softer Sixth Doctor is one of Big Finish’s great early achievements, and there are scenes in this story that will make you laugh, cry, or gasp.
An early pub scene would involve lots of work for the animators, and as a pure historical, you have to include the token background peasants.
Maggie Stables’ portrayal of Evelyn has already appeared in a full-length, full-cast animation back in 2003, but her voice alone carries enough character that complex 3D modelling wouldn’t be needed to bring Evelyn to a new generation of fans.
Iconic dialogue: “I find that cake is an excellent solution to so many of life’s problems.”
Alternate picks: The World Shapers was an example of Doctor Who Magazine pushing the boat of the established Doctor Who continuity, and you could argue it’s a story that needs to be seen on screen after the Twelfth Doctor name-dropped its location in The Doctor Falls. Both of the Sixth Doctor’s ‘Classic Doctor New Monsters’ entries have been brilliant, making it too difficult to pick between Judoon in Chains and The Carrionite Curse.
THE SEVENTH DOCTOR
Geoffrey Beevers’ incarnation of the Master works brilliantly on audio, and his character piece, Master would work just as well in animated form. The first half of the story is spent delving into a small cast of characters and the good deeds that the amnesic Master has done, making the audience almost sympathise for him.
There’s some scary details still at play though, which would translate well to screen, and as the Seventh Doctor becomes more involved in the story it gets readily more evident how devious a character the Master really is. The odd thing about this audio is that you almost want to see it in black and white rather than colour.
Iconic dialogue: “I could take his life as easily as I had helped bring him into the world.”
Alternate picks: Forever Fallen is the result of Big Finish’s Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trip Opportunity competition, and is a small story with a big impact. The visuals of the opening scene would be brilliant to see on screen, as would the main characters’ subsequent encounters. Bernice Summerfield is another extended universe companion who’s already been seen in animation, but why not bring her back again against the wonderful Chelonians in The Highest Science?
THE EIGHTH DOCTOR
Two-hander Companion Chronicle, Solitaire pits Charlotte Pollard against the Celestial Toymaker, and makes for some thrilling listening. This is one of India Fisher’s best performances as Charley, and David Bailie’s brooding tones as the Toymaker are stunning.
Even with limited Doctor Who knowledge, you can sense that something is afoot very quickly, and although it gets slightly repetitive as the plot thickens, it’s really all part of the game (literally). The Doctor has a very limited presence, but his first few lines of dialogue early on bring a smile to your face, and an animated adaptation could add more of Paul McGann’s incarnation into the mix.
Iconic dialogue: “What if there were a game you didn’t know you were playing? Where you didn’t know the aim and you hadn’t seen the rules?”
Alternate picks: DWM ended the Eighth Doctor era with the blockbuster The Flood in 2005, a tale which nearly showed the Doctor regenerating into his new TV incarnation. It would be a travesty not to try adapting this story for screen. Although the temptation to get some on-screen Lucie bleedin’ Miller action, there is no story in that era of the Eighth Doctor audio adventures that would be made more epic in animated form. Some books would benefit however, and Kate Orman’s The Year of Intelligent Tigers would be a tantalising watch.
THE NINTH DOCTOR
Doctor Who excelled in domestic settings when Russell T. Davies was at the production helm, and there was almost as much of the Tyler household as there was the TARDIS. Big Finish audio Retail Therapy is a classic example of this, fitting right into the Ninth Doctor era and putting Jackie Tyler in the spotlight.
The focus here is on how relationships elsewhere suffer when the Doctor whisks someone away and gives them everything they’ve ever wanted. As a parent, that can feel like failure. To ensure the story properly gets its teeth into this topic, the Doctor and Jackie end up sharing a drink, but the reflective chatter has to stop when it becomes clear Jackie’s sales role for the fuzzy pink Glubby Glubs is actually enabling an alien invasion.
Iconic dialogue: “How would I look brown sauce in the eye again?”
Alternate picks: Only Human is one of the first New Series Adventures novels, and touches on some fairly adult topics, making it the kind of high quality sci-fi that would appeal to audiences outside of Doctor Who. Set in a trans-dimensional gallery, DWM strip Art Attack is heavy on wacky visuals which would be cool to execute in 3D.
THE TENTH DOCTOR
With Titan Comics’ recent success with Americans, Gabby Gonzalez and Cindy Wu, it’s easy to forget that the Tenth Doctor already had some highly-rated comics-only companions from when he was still on TV. DWM’s contribution was the green-skinned Majenta Pryce, a sassy intergalactic
criminal businesswoman who travels with the Doctor with the intention they will find out why she lost most of her memory.
This kind of background detail is established in her early appearances, but just adding a few lines of dialogue in The Age of Ice would more than solve that problem and make for a brilliant animation. The artwork is brilliant, the introduction to the story and the Sydney setting is wonderful, the characterisation is absolutely on point, and the Tenth Doctor’s lines are ones you just wish were actually rolling off David Tennant’s tongue.
Most importantly, the story has a strong plot, scary complex aliens with a big visual lead, a variety of Who story elements and a companion many will not know, but will be very interested in once they’ve seen this story on screen.
Iconic dialogue: “Never seen a woman with green skin before?” “Typical villain, can’t use one syllable when sixteen will do.”
Alternate picks: The aforementioned Gabby Gonzalez appears in The Weeping Angels of Mons, a story set in World War I with an effective use of the lonely assassins. For what that story packs in emotional punch and scares, look to NSA novel, The Taking of Chelsea 426 for a Sontaran/Rutan scrap at a garden centre in space.
THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR
The story arc leading up to the 50th anniversary special was one of the strongest DWM has ever executed, and The Broken Man, set in Prague 1989, is one of the absolute best. It doesn’t have the big scale impact that the succeeding Hunters of the Burning Stone packs, but it’s an emotionally charged tale with fleshed out characters, some brilliant visuals, and the lead trio of the Doctor, Amy Pond, and Rory Williams at their best.
As for the villian, it would probably be one of the cheapest to render in animated form, and contrasts nicely with the historical and religious elements of the strip.
Iconic dialogue: “The BBC World Service is fantastic.”
Alternate picks: The Eleventh Doctor’s DWM run is full of so many strong story arcs, and introductory tale The Cornucopia Caper is one that would be served well on screen. Like Stockbridge, it’s a location that continues to pop up in comic strip pages. Having already picked two tales featuring Amy, it’s only fair we look at Clara Oswald too, and Jacob Dudman’s brilliant performance as the Doctor in Big Finish’s False Coronets. Most importantly, it expands on the relationship between the companion and a certain Jane Austen.
THE TWELFTH DOCTOR
Once more to the pages of DWM, and this time, it’s early days Twelfth Doctor. Blood and Ice revisits a important location in Doctor Who history, and adds an extra layer of show mythology by having the Doctor and Clara meet one of the splinters created in Series 7 episode, The Name of the Doctor.
This premise is pulled off remarkably well, with the medium of drawings mean there’s no need for two Jenna Colemans to be hired, and although the Antarctic setting is mostly white, the Doctor’s eyebrows cut across the horizons whenever he appears in frame.
He is frosty (pun intended) but also quick thinking in this story, which could seamlessly fit into Series 8. The issue of Clara duplicate Winnie’s purpose in life is covered brilliantly by having her listen in to the Doctor and Clara, and then Clara having to confront that reality by bonding with her double in a icy cave.
The whole story serves the main characters well, and offers a surprising amount of character development, but it’s more interesting to see what makes the Claras splinters tick before they meet the Doctor. You also can’t help but think this story is a slight in-joke at the real Clara’s apparent character reset between series on TV.
Blood and Ice’s happy ending doesn’t feel forced, not does some of its political messages, and it ends on a beautiful final panel.
Iconic dialogue: “Oh. My. God.” (When Clara meets Winnie)
Alternate picks: Clara Oswald and the School of Death probably cemented Rachael Stott’s status as one of the great Doctor Who illustrators. It features the return of a Third Doctor monster and a Series 9 Doctor (it’s all in the hair) having fun with a dead swordfish. By Series 10, the Doctor has a companion with an afro, and there’s two picks in comic form. DWM served up 1970s teenager Jess Collins in The Highgate Horror, while Titan picked Bill Potts for its risky but rewarding Viking-based tale, The Wolves of Winter.
THE THIRTEENTH DOCTOR
Titan Comics’ Thirteenth Doctor series is only five issues in, but it screams TV quality. The storylines are multi-layered, Rachael Stott’s artwork is sublime, and the characterisation is spot on.
It’s difficult to choose between A New Beginning and ongoing tale, Hidden Human History, but there are so many panels that stick in the memory from the latter that Jody Houser’s second Thirteenth Doctor tale has to be sent to the animators, even if we don’t know how it ends yet!
Iconic dialogue: “I’m not. And I’m an everyone.”
Alternate picks: Juno Dawson’s The Good Doctor is one of the first batch of Thirteenth Doctor novels, and its well-thought story is enhanced by Claire Corbett’s narration in audiobook form. Coupled with pictures, and possibly even the voices of the TV cast, this would make a fine piece of television.
BONUS: THE WAR DOCTOR
There’s no confirmation which incarnation appears in Telos novella, The Dalek Factor, but it’s one of those hidden Doctor Who gems that drags you into its storytelling and would fit well into the War Doctor’s tortured life. The Bleeding Heart isn’t a War Doctor tale either, but features the rawest post-Time War Ninth Doctor you’ve ever seen on a planet where there is supposed to be peace. The fact that Christopher Eccleston didn’t lend his vocals to this audio makes its message no less effective.
That’s what we reckon at the DWC – but what do you think, dear reader? Let us know which extended universe tales you’d love to see animated!