Gallifrey One 2011: Big Finish News and Gossip
Here's my attempt to sum up all the Big Finish news from this year's Gallifrey convention. It seems like a lot of the hard news is under embargo for Doctor Who Magazine
exclusives, but there are still some nice bits of news and lots of interesting things that aren't confirmed yet but may be in the works. General Big Finish News
Jason Haigh-Ellery did say that Big Finish's sales have seen a slight decline over the past few years, which he'd attributed in large part to illegal downloading. (I'd be just as tempted to blame the generally crappy state of the economy, but he's probably thought about this a lot more than I have.) Having said that, the company seems to be in generally good shape, and relations with the BBC and MGM (who hold the Stargate
licenses) seem to be good. Someone in the Big Finish Talkback panel specifically asked about the renewal of the Doctor Who
license. Negotiations on that won't start until this summer, but Haigh-Ellery seemed pretty confident that a renewal will be in the offing.
The company is in the process of looking into producing action figures of the characters that they own. (Presumably the audio-original companions.) It really depends on whether they think they can sell enough of them, because they'd have to commit to a minimum order from the manufacturer. There was also a very funny audience suggestion of action figures of the Big Finish production team, including a Nick Briggs action figure with a crisp packet accessory, and the like. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the Paul Spragg action figure.
In response to some queries at the Talkback panel, Haigh-Ellery said that the Big Finish website is being revamped to be more usable, and that they are going to try to make better use of their twitter account in future. Also that the ability to pay by PayPal should be coming back soon - apparently, because of the volume of transactions that they do, they've had to go to some lengths to convince PayPal that they are not in the business of money laundering.
Someone at the Talkback panel also asked if we might see Matthew Waterhouse in a Big Finish audio. Jason Haigh-Ellery replied, "Yes, but I can't tell you what in." That's different from what we've heard before. I'm guessing that maybe Haigh-Ellery and Waterhouse had a bit of chat at Gallifrey, and that nothing's settled yet. Doctor Who Main Range News
Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding, and Mark Strickson have just (last week?) recorded some new 5th Doctor/Tegan/Nyssa/Turlough audios. (I got the distinct impression that these were main range audios rather than Lost Stories audios, though it has also been confirmed that they've recorded a season of 5th Doctor Lost Stories.)
Janet Fielding mentioned that on one of the recording days, Peter had been unavailable due to another job, and she'd read in his lines as the Doctor. Apparently everything that goes on during a Big Finish recording is recorded - I'd love it if Big Finish would release a few snippets of their best read-in performances.
Also revealed: Paul McGann sings the Doctor Who
theme tune after each cliffhanger during recording. I'd pay money to hear that.
It's not news that the 8th Doctor is going back into the main range after the current run of New 8th Doctor Adventures wraps up next month, but this did prompt a question from the audience about which companions he might appear with. Haigh-Ellery was a bit coy with details, but he did say that the four-parter "The Company of Friends" was released partly as a way to test fan reaction to different companions, so we might very well see Fitz, Benny, Mary Shelley, or Izzy again. He also said that we'd continue to see the 8th Doctor with old companions. I wrote in my notes at this point that the 8th Doctor would have a new companion, but at the Talkback panel, Haigh-Ellery said that there would be a new companion this year, but he couldn't reveal with which Doctor. So I'm not sure if Haigh-Ellery slipped there, or I did.
Tony Lee has written a 5th Doctor/Nyssa/Tegan/Turlough story called "Ratrap". He has also written something else that he isn't allowed to talk about yet.
An announcement about Tom Baker audios is hopefully coming soon. (Strictly speaking, these wouldn't be main range audios, as Tom would have his own series, but it would feel weird to put this in spinoff news.)
An audience member asked about the possibility of an LGBT regular character. There was general agreement on the panel that this was probably long overdue.
A friend of mine asked about older companions with newer Doctors, along the lines of the recent Six/Jamie stories. Jason Haigh-Ellery said that there was definitely more of that in the works, although it wasn't entirely clear to me whether he meant more companion-swapping generally, or more Six and Jamie.
At the Talkback panel, there were lots of suggestions of favorite characters that people thought ought to make an appearance or reappearance in the main range. Iris Wildthyme, Irving Braxiatel, and Frobisher are ones I remember people suggesting. I don't think there were definite plans for any of these, but Jason Haigh-Ellery did take notes. Doctor Who Spinoff Range News
More Iris Wildthyme is in the works.
There was a bunch of discussion of Gallifrey
series 4. Most of it was stuff that I think has been publicized already on the Big Finish website: Colin Baker will be appearing as the Doctor. It will also feature Geoffrey Beevers, Carole Ann Ford, Katy Manning (as Iris Wildthyme), and Mary Tamm. Gary Russell did say that Mary Tamm will not be playing Pandora this time, and that she might
be playing Romana. Gallifrey
series 5 is a possibility if sales are strong enough.
Gary Russell is taking over producing the Bernice Summerfield audios, and the series is getting "a bit of a reboot." At the Talkback panel, I asked if they'd consider reissuing the out-of-print early Benny books as e-books. Jason Haigh-Ellery said that they were thinking about doing some e-books, and that it was a possibility.Jago and Lightfoot
is going strong, and there will be more after series 4. Non-Doctor Who Series News
The new Stargate
season (recording in California this week) will apparently be full-cast dramas.
No more Sapphire and Steel
for the forseeable future. It's not a cheap show to make, and it just doesn't sell well.
I asked about the possibility of more Judge Dredd
. Alas, even in "Crime Chronicles" format, which is presumably cheaper to produce, they just don't sell well enough.
Richard Dinnick is adapting The Hound of the Baskervilles
and The Tangled Skein
for the Sherlock Holmes audio range.