One of the lovely things about Gallifrey is being able to blather about your love for Big Finish
without having to explain what that is. Not every attendee is a fan of the audios, but most have heard of them.
I attended three Big Finish events at Gally: Jason Haigh-Ellery interviewing Lisa Bowerman; a panel on Bernice Summerfield featuring Lisa Bowerman, Paul Cornell, Simon Guerrier, and Jason Haigh-Ellery; and a general Big Finish "panel" by Jason Haigh-Ellery.
The two Benny-related events blur together a bit in my mind, so I'll summarize them together. Bowerman's a great convention guest, and had a lot of amusing anecdotes about her experience filming "Survival", her audition for the part of Bernice Summerfield, and the whole process of recording at Big Finish. I can't really do her stories justice in summary form. Hopefully bits of her appearance will turn up on YouTube.
I'll try to summarize the bits of interesting news: Recording of season 9 of the Benny plays is underway. There will be 4 plays, if I recall correctly. I don't recall when they're scheduled for release, but as I recall, they're going to come out in 4 consecutive months rather than being more spread out as the releases sometimes have been. (Bowerman mentioned that it's easier to get magazines to review the audios if you can send them the whole season at once.)
Someone asked about the possibility of Big Finish doing a Benny video. Jason Haigh-Ellery said it was basically a question of whether it would sell enough to recoup the costs, and while he'd like to do one, he doesn't think it's going to happen any time soon.
Someone also asked Bowerman if she'd like to appear as Benny in new Doctor Who
. She said that she would, but that Russell Davies had made it clear that it's never going to happen.
There are, alas, currently no plans for more appearances of Benny as a companion in the Doctor Who
line. They just didn't sell well enough. But Benny in her own series is very much alive and well.
Bowerman's also doing quite a lot of directing for Big Finish. She's directing at least one of the Sapphire and Steel plays, at least one Benny play in the coming season (possibly the one written by Lawrence Miles - yes, Lawrence Miles has written a Benny audio), and will be doing some directing in the Doctor Who
And finally, the question that came up at every Big Finish-related panel: what's going on with Bernice Summerfield: The Inside Story
. The book is finished. They need to get copyright clearance for some of the material used in the book - cover art from the NAs, pictures of Doctor Who
monsters, etc. It's largely a courtesy thing, and everyone's given permission so far, but there are still a couple of things that need to be cleared. No word on an expected release date, but we should be seeing the book in the not-too-distant future.
At the general Big Finish panel: Haigh-Ellery started off by showing a couple of clips from some musicals he's directed recently: Footloose
and Never Forget
, a musical based on the music of Take That, who I gather are a hugely successful pop group in the UK. As someone who's not that into musicals but is generally geeky, I was most interested in the bit in Never Forget
where they made it rain on stage. (And built sensors into the rain machine so that it stops raining right on whatever bit of the stage an actor wearing a live microphone is standing on, therefore avoiding the whole electrocution thing.)
There was a lot of discussion of the download service. Not much that was news to me, though Haigh-Ellery did use the opportunity to informally poll the audience about things besides the audios that people might be interested in downloading. (People seemed to be most keen on scripts and PDFs of books. Somebody asked about extended versions of plays that had to be cut to fit on CD, and Haigh-Ellery said that they could release an extended version of "Minuet in Hell". Response to that was decidedly lukewarm.)
Someone asked if there was going to be a second volume of The Inside Story
to cover audios 51-100. Apparently Big Finish don't think there's enough demand to make it worth doing. Someone did ask about the possibility of doing "Inside Story"-style articles on individual stories and making them available for download. There was some interest in that, though I don't think it was quite enough to really sell Haigh-Ellery on the idea.
One interesting item of news on the download service: based on the early numbers, it does seem like it's doing its job of broadening Big Finish's customer base in the Americas. 40% of download customers are American, while only 12-13% of CD sales are to Americans.
Someone asked about the possibility of Big Finish doing Serenity/Firefly audios. Nope - they can't get the license.
Haigh-Ellery was reluctant to divulge too many details of forthcoming releases, but did offer the following tidbits:
- Whether or not there will be a Season 4 of Sapphire and Steel depends on sales of Season 3. So, if you like the Sapphire and Steel audios, buy them and tell your friends to buy them. (I just picked up the first audio, "The Passenger" at the con.)
- A third season of 8th Doctor/Lucie Miller audios is planned for next year.
- The January, February, and March stories of next year will be a running story arc over three plays, and will feature a new companion. No word on which Doctor (or Doctors) will be featured. Jason Haigh-Ellery and Lisa Bowerman will direct.
- There are some plans afoot to do something special to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Big Finish's Doctor Who line in 2009. Haigh-Ellery said that they've been so busy with the download service and the like that they haven't thought that much about it, but that he'd like to do something different, but "not Zagreus different."