20 Great Doctor Who Stories to Dive Into Its Wonderful World of Audio Adventures

Shove a whole universe of time and space in your ears.
Shove a whole universe of time and space in your ears.
Image: Big Finish

Sure, there’s Twitter watch parties with fab guests and new reveals. There’s weekly short fiction to give you a fresh nibble of Time and Space. But maybe you’re somehow still itching for more adventures with the Doctor now that she’s off our screens until the holidays. We’re here to lend a hand. And an ear, too, while we’re at it.

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Yes, as we’ve told you multiple times before: When life gives you a Doctor Who hiatus lemon, make Doctor Who audio drama-nade (that...got away from me a bit, there). Big Finish’s collection of Doctor Who audio dramas has been going on for literal decades at this point, giving fresh adventures to classic Doctors, essentially taking Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor and giving him a longer life than almost every other incarnation combined, and now even delving into the wider world of modern Doctor Who, Torchwood, and many more spinoffs.

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To help, we’ve chosen 20 different great box sets and adventures from across Big Finish’s catalogue of Doctor Who tales to cater to all sorts of listeners, from classic Who fans to NuWho-era diehards, along with links to purchase physical and digital copies of them all directly. But great news: Some of these recommendations are actually legally available to stream for free on Spotify, alongside a bunch of Big Finish adventures!

It’s a big world out there. Where do you wanna start?







If You Want Classic Doctor Who...

Illustration for article titled 20 Great iDoctor Who /iStories to Dive Into Its Wonderful World of Audio Adventures
Image: Big Finish

Destination Nerva (Free on Spotify) and Phillip Hinchcliffe PresentsIt took a long time to convince him, but when Tom Baker finally joined his fellow classic Doctors at Big Finish, he hit the ground running. “Destination Nerva,” reuniting him with Lousie Jameson as classic companion Leela, is the very first in what is now an ongoing series of adventures. “Phillip Hinchcliffe Presents” meanwhile, is a two-story collection which saw ‘70s Who legend Phillip Hinchcliffe return to pen new stories for the Fourth Doctor and Leela.

Spare Parts (Free on Spotify) and The Fifth Doctor Adventures Vol. 1The Fifth Doctor is an enduring pillar of Big Finish’s Who output. “Spare Parts” is one of the entire range’s most iconic stories for good reason, giving a definitive origin to the Cybermen that is so profoundly good it became the inspiration for their return to the modern show. Then, the Adventures volume is a collection that imagines some of the first non-televised adventures for the Fifth Doctor and his trio of initial companions, Adric, Nyssa, and Teagan.

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The Lost Stories: The Nightmare Fair (Free on Spotify) and The Last AdventureColin Baker’s Time Lord may have gotten the short stick on TV, but he’s thrived in audio, getting to develop his version of the Doctor into a fascinatingly compelling character. “The Nightmare Fair” is actually the first in a series of “Lost Stories” that are based on scripts written but never produced for the show’s scrapped season 23, while “The Last Adventure” gives the Sixth Doctor a regeneration story he never quite got given justice for on TV.

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The Lost Stories: Thin Ice and The HarvestSylvester McCoy’s TV-maligned darker Doctor (before that got fashionable) likewise has benefited hugely from his time in the audio adventures, getting to really dig into those darker aspects. “Thin Ice” is the first in the season 27 that never was, had the show not been canceled (seemingly forever), while “The Harvest” introduces the Doctor and Ace to a brand new companion, one of several excellent friends Seven meets in his time in audio: Hex, played by Philip Olivier.

The Monthly AdventuresOkay, so this is sort of cheating, but if you liked the above and need an ongoing fix, Big Finish lets you subscribe in either six or 12-bundle sets of monthly Doctor Who dramas from its ongoing range, featuring new adventures with the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Doctors. The first 50 entries in the entire range—including adventures with Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor—however, are free to listen to on Spotify.

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If You Love Modern Doctor Who...

Illustration for article titled 20 Great iDoctor Who /iStories to Dive Into Its Wonderful World of Audio Adventures
Image: Big Finish
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The Tenth Doctor AdventuresIt’s only been in the past few years that Big Finish was allowed to start using characters from Doctor Who’s modern revival. But pretty quickly it went for the big guns to bring the beloved Tenth Doctor back to action, with David Tennant now regularly reprising his role in new adventures that feel ripped right out of the contemporary show. There’s been three series so far, two with Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, and one that reunited Tennant with Billie Piper as Rose for the first time since he exited the TV series with “The End of Time.”

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The Diary of River SongRiver Song had a long history with the Doctor. And, it turns out, not just the modern Doctors. Alex Kingston returns to her time-traveling archaeologist puzzle-box of a hero for this series, which sees her on her own adventures and crossing paths with different versions of the Doctor multiple times, trying to figure out just when and where they (haven’t) met before.

The Lives of Captain JackBack before we even thought it was possible to see him on screen again as we did in the most recent season of the show, this ongoing collection of adventures imagines what Jack got up to as both a Time Agent and between his escapades on Torchwood. If you love dousing yourself in the sci-fi cheese that is John Barrowman, this is him at his Barrowman...iest?

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If You Want a Bit of Both...

Illustration for article titled 20 Great iDoctor Who /iStories to Dive Into Its Wonderful World of Audio Adventures
Image: Big Finish
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The New Eighth Doctor Adventures (Season one is Free on Spotify)Although Paul McGann’s Doctor has had tons of audio stories (he helped kick off the range back in 1999), The “New” Eighth Doctor adventures feel like a huge turning point. It’s where Big Finish tried to ape the style of Modern Doctor Who, with shorter, tighter stories, and a new companion in Sheridan Smith’s excellent Lucie Miller, who starts out feeling vaguely like a Rose Tyler-adjacent stand-in before developing into one of the best Doctor Who companions in any medium. Start from the beginning with “Blood of the Daleks” (guest starring Peggy Carter!), and just...don’t stop.

Classic Doctors, New MonstersThis collection of four stories is literally a bit of both eras of the show, pitting the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Doctors against monsters made for Doctor Who’s modern era (well, three and then the modern iteration of the Sontarans, which is a teeny bit of a cheat). C’mon, you wanna hear the Fifth Doctor take on the Weeping Angels, right?

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The First Doctor AdventuresThis might sound like it’s purely classic Who, and you’d be...sort of right. Obviously William Hartnell had passed long before Big Finish’s Whoniverse kicked off, so this series is about as close as you can get by modern standards: recruiting David Bradley and the cast of the 50th anniversary docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time to replicate their roles as the First Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara in new adventure evocative of Who’s earliest days.

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...Or Something Else Entirely!

Illustration for article titled 20 Great iDoctor Who /iStories to Dive Into Its Wonderful World of Audio Adventures
Image: Big Finish
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Jago & LitefootDo you want something Doctor Who but also actually not really Doctor Who at all? Well, here’s that something: Doctor Henry Jago and George Lightfoot were beloved guest characters in the Fourth Doctor story “The Talons of Weng-Chiang,” caught up in the Doctor and Leela’s Victorian-era battle against a sinister space war criminal and a distressingly giant rat. This series imagines that after their encounter with the Doctor, the two essentially became Victorian X-Files stars, and that’s as great as it sounds.

Gallifrey and Gallifrey: Time WarBefore we knew of Gallifrey’s fate—before we even knew Doctor Who would return with it forever changed—there was Gallifrey, which imagined a new era of non-isolation for the Time Lords under the leadership of Lalla Ward’s Romana (aided by Leela and K-9!), choosing to share their powers over Time and Space with an alliance of worlds. High political drama eventually must give way to war though, and as the title might imply, the currently ongoing “Time War” continuation of the series imagines how this particular incarnation of Gallifrey would’ve dealt with the outbreak of the conflict with the Daleks that became fundamental to the backstory of modern Who.

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Torchwood: Believe and Torchwood: The Story ContinuesTorchwood lives! Yes, more recently Big Finish has taken it on itself to bring the Who spinoff back in myriad ways. Believe reunites the classic team of the show before half of them got killed off by the end of Children of Earth for a new adventure, while The Story Continues imagines what Torchwood would be like if it had continued after the utterly atrocious Miracle Day killed off its TV counterpart seemingly for good.

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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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