Big Finish has announced a sweeping set of reshuffles to its Doctor Who lines set to begin in January 2022. The most major to ongoing listeners to all things Who audiodrama is that the companies’ ongoing monthly range—delivering regular adventures with the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Doctors in an unbroken run since it began in 1999—will come to an end with its 275th release.
That doesn’t mean the adventures are over, however. Big Finish is ending its longest-running line in order completely reformat how it it releases Doctor Who stories. Alongside the end of the monthly range, Big Finish will re-organize its Doctor Who out across 12 lines: one for each of the first 12 incarnations of the Doctor. Sorry, Twelfth Doctor fans: that doesn’t mean there’s suddenly going to be audio adventures with Peter Capaldi. The first twelve Doctors includes the the first through to the eleventh Doctors, and then dearly departed John Hurt’s War Doctor, who has starred in multiple Big Finish adventures set during the Time War. Releases across these twelve lines will rotate regularly, with each Doctor getting their own box sets of stories throughout the year.
The shuffle, according to Big Finish, is to provide more natural stepping on points for listeners to get into its world of Doctor Who audio content: with each Doctor getting their own specific line, fans can pick their favorite Time Lord and follow their auditory adventures across Time and Space on a regular basis. “One comment we hear more often from new listeners is that they find it hard to know where to begin with our back catalogue of Doctor Who adventures,” Big Finish chairman and executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery said in a statement provided via press release. “This change to our release schedule will make it easier for people to start.”
While this change is mostly to allow more stories to be told with earlier incarnations of the Doctor—especially Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy’s Time Lords, who were mostly restricted to the monthly adventures range while other Doctors got dedicated series—it also has some very interesting connotations for what Big Finish has planned for more recent iterations. It’s only been in recent years that the company has been allowed to use characters and story elements from the post-2005 era of the show, and so far only two main Doctors have returned to reprise their roles: the aforementioned Hurt, and David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. If they’re now giving the Ninth and Eleventh Doctors similarly dedicated lines, could there be a future where Christopher Eccleston and Matt Smith return to lend their voices?
The company’s not saying for now. “We’re happy for people to speculate on how we might have ranges for Doctors who have not previously had their own range, whether they have been historically performed by the television actors or otherwise,” a spokesperson for Big Finish told io9 when pressed for clarification. Although stories with the Ninth and Eleventh Doctor have been told by the company before, they’ve been through either third person narration or voice-alikes, akin to how Big Finish has done stories with deceased actors (and will continue to do so with things like Elisabeth Sladen’s daughter, Sadie Miller, reprising her mother’s role in the upcoming Revenge of the Cybermen).
But 2022's a while away right now. TARDIS or otherwise, that’s plenty of space for plans to be put together, perhaps. Time will tell?
For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.