Five Doctor Who audio spin-offs you should be listening to
Big Finish loves stories, and there are stories in abundance from the company tasked with producing high-quality audio dramas based on classic TV properties like Doctor Who.
Recent years have seen The Digital Fix review hundreds of Big Finish releases from the worlds of Doctor Who, with an impressively high standard being upheld across the board. We’ve covered adventures featuring almost all the Doctor’s incarnations – from the First, Fourth and Eight Doctors and beyond – from both the classic and the revived eras of the programme, and much else besides.
As these adventures are often direct continuations – or earnest reimaginations – of a Doctor’s original run on television, such releases likely prove most popular with audiences. But crack open the vault of Doctor Who spin-off ranges and a wealth of high-quality storytelling becomes available. Numerous spin-offs have seen the light of day over the years and frequently prove as entertaining as Doctor-heavy ranges. Here are five current spin-off ranges you shouldn’t delay listening to any longer…
The War Master
If you aren’t already hooked on The War Master, you should be. Derek Jacobi’s eternally scheming incarnation of the Doctor’s archenemy was an utter delight to witness in his all-too-short appearance on-screen, and so the chance to listen to his machinations on audio makes Big Finish’s The War Master compulsory listening.
The five boxsets released so far have combined bombastic science fiction ideas with deliciously quiet moments of character drama to fantastic effect. Paul McGann has popped up a few times as the Eighth Doctor too, making for top-notch showdowns between two characters that have helped to make this spin-off series one of the best ranges currently produced by Big Finish.
Two key aspects help to distinguish The Robots from other Big Finish spin-offs: thought-provoking subject matter and the human element. The series, recently expanded from twelve to eighteen episodes, may be set on a high-tech planet populated by robots, but there are rich topical concerns around corporate greed and the advancement of technology that trigger meaningful parallels with the real world.
Nicola Walker’s Liv Chenka has been a companion of the Doctor for almost a decade, and The Robots spotlights the supremely relatable relationship she shares with sister Tula. The pair evoke nuanced and real moments of humanity within cold and clinical science fiction in a way that makes The Robots a chilling yet heartwarming exploration of life, agency and technology.
The Diary of River Song
There’s something to be said for the enduring popularity and ubiquity of River Song. Her life is intrinsically tied to that of the Doctor’s, and her audio adventures have quickly become one of Big Finish’s standard-bearing franchises. With forty-eight episodes being released since 2015, the character shows no signs of slowing down.
Early instalments chronicled her meetings with previous incarnations of the Doctor, but lately the series has steered in a different direction, fleshing out River’s detective persona, her time at Luna University, and her quasi-maternal relationship with a sentient android apprentice named Rachel. It’s all driven by Alex Kingston’s enduring enthusiasm for a truly fabulous character.
Lady Christina’s solo series takes a character who appeared just once onscreen and gives her a glossy and stylish corner of the Doctor Who universe for the cat burglar to wreak havoc. The first volume consists of four exciting action-fantasy tales that balance comedy farce (a flying bus, camp supervillains, green-skinned aliens) with moments of grey morality and mischief.
With a second series due for release later this year, promising more family hijinks and even a trip to the Australian outback, there’s never been a better time to dip into the vibrantly realised world of glamorous espionage that is Lady Christina.
The Lone Centurion
We’re cheating a little here and going for a spin-off that hasn’t been released yet – The Lone Centurion, featuring Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams. Judging by the title character’s endearing charm, the evocative Ancient Rome setting, and the vast possibilities inherent in the premise, by all accounts The Lone Centurion should prove to be a delightful foray into alternate history – not to mention a chance for Rory to further exemplify his mettle as the protector of the Pandorica for two thousand-odd years.
For some further Big Finish audio recommendations, don’t miss our lists of most anticipated releases from recent years – and, as always, keep an eye on the Big Finish website to stay across news of upcoming audio releases.