Big Finish’s Ninth Doctor Adventures Series 1 comes to an end in the fourth boxset Old Friends, where the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) attends a galactic funeral like no other, before reuniting with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (played here by Jon Culshaw), and UNIT’s Lieutenant Sam Bishop (Warren Brown) against the Cybermen (Nicholas Briggs) in the epic two-part finale.
Speaking of the Cybermen, I’m glad that Big Finish kept their return a secret until the release date, considering that they previously appeared in the third Lost Warriors adventure Monsters in Metropolis. Nonetheless, it’s a fantastic way to bring back the Brig and the silver supremacists together on audio, whilst foreshadowing the events of Dalek and Bad Wolf/ The Parting of the Ways.
Here are the synopses for the boxset and the stories:
Travelling the universe alone, the Doctor can’t help running into people he has met before. Some are new acquaintances, and some have a much longer history, back through all of his lives. But every one of them knows that in the face of danger, and when the monsters arrive, there’s no better friend to have by their side.
Fond Farewell by David K Barnes
Fond Farewell is the intergalactic funeral parlour with a difference: the deceased attend their own wake!
Invited by celebrated naturalist Flynn Beckett to his memorial, the Doctor finds he’s not quite the man he was. But who would steal the memories of the dead?
Way of the Burryman by Roy Gill
Young Sam Bishop is at a crossroads with girlfriend Fiona: she’s staying in Scotland, he wants to travel the world.
As the Burryman celebrations begin, ghosts haunt the Forth Bridge. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart arrives to investigate – and so does the Doctor…
The Forth Generation by Roy Gill
The Forth Generation have emerged. The Doctor, the Brigadier, Sam and Fiona are at their mercy.
Is there a way to defeat them? Has UNIT learned from the past? And can the enemy’s nature be changed for the future?
Christopher Eccleston says:
“I remember the Cybermen well and the strange beauty of them was fascinating to me as a child. I suppose what I was responding to was the idea that these things were in some sense human. The Doctor’s fascination – and the debate in Doctor Who – is ‘What it is to be human?’ and, to me, the answer is: to be empathetic.
“I’ve had a great time being creative with the Ninth Doctor in these audio adventures – it’s a character that I’ve always loved so much – and interacting with all of these great and imaginative writers.
“It’s also been quite freeing not having a companion. I like the loneliness of the Doctor and it was one of the things that drew me to him in the first place. I never want him getting too domesticated. I like his solitary lone-wolf quality.”
Director Helen Goldwyn adds:
“The Way of the Burryman and The Forth Generation is a two-parter by the fabulous Roy Gill. It has his usual depth, complexity and atmosphere. It’s an origin story for Sam and I was delighted when I realised we were finally understanding how he came to UNIT and why he’s such a maverick.
“It’s been such a genuine privilege to work with Christopher Eccleston and a joy to have been asked to be involved. The energy when Christopher is playing the Doctor is just so high and fun. I’ve laughed so much when recording these sessions with him. I just hope that people will be delighted, enthralled and love hearing the Ninth Doctor again.”
This was released on Eccleston’s birthday on 16th February, so a belated happy birthday to the Doctor!
The Ninth Doctor Adventures: Old Friends is out now from Big Finish.