; Date: Fri Mar 26 2021
Christopher Eccleston gave a huge gift to Doctor Who fandom by performing the first Doctor after the hiatus, but that came at a personal cost (reportedly he hated that time). It's thought Eccleston felt a huge betrayal by the BBC, and as a result did not participate in the 50th anniversary multi-Doctor show that instead saw John Hurt appear as The War Doctor. So, it is with huge interest and pleasure to learn that Eccleston has returned to play The Doctor via a set of audio adventures on Big Finish, the first boxed set being called Ravagers.
Christopher Eccleston really really back playing Doctor Who. Since Big Finish is calling this The Ninth Doctor Adventures, we should expect further boxed sets featuring Eccleston in the future. This is not a false rumor, since it is on the Big Finish website, with a release date in May 2021.
A recent article on Looper reminds us about the troubles Eccleston got from the BBC. Namely, the BBC overreacted to Eccleston's decision to record only one season as The Doctor. Eccleston's agent said that the BBC was against him, and it would be better for Eccleston to seek acting work in other countries.
Looper has this quote which in turn came from an article in The Guardian
"I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist," explained Eccleston. "I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press and blacklisted. I was told by my agent at the time: 'The BBC regime is against you. You're going to have to get out of the country and wait for regime change.'"
In the next paragraph, Looper links to a Syfy Wire article in which Eccleston said he would only return to Doctor Who when "Hell Freezes Over".
SO.. Eccleston is returning to Doctor Who, and I haven't heard of "Hell" freezing over.
In the Big Finish Podcast for December 2020, we see Eccleston explaining that Nicholas Briggs understood better (to Eccleston) what The Ninth Doctor is all about.
What is The Ninth Doctor Adventures?
Under the new publishing plan Big Finished announced last year, what had been the Main Range is now split into multiple ranges, each targeted at a specific Doctor or specific Companion. This story, Ravagers, is part of The Ninth Doctor Adventures which is the series devoted to The Ninth Doctor. In The Metro says there will be twelve episodes in total for the first series of the Ninth Doctor Adventures.
Previously there had been some Short Trips recordings focused on The Ninth Doctor. The Short Trips stories from Big Finish are quick audios, on the order of 20-30 minutes, set in the Doctor Who genre. The stories I inspected, Battle Scars, Her Own Bootstraps, and Night of the Whisper, are all performed by Nicholas Briggs, sometimes with the help of another. In other words, the previous Ninth Doctor stories from Big Finish did not feature Christopher Eccleston.
Big Finish frequently has someone record audio that mimics an original actor who cannot, for some reason, participate. Usually this is done for the actors who have died, for example having Elizabeth Sladen's daughter playing Sarah Jane Smith, or Sean Pertwee playing his father Jon Pertwee (3rd Doctor). In Battle Scars, Nicholas Briggs read the voice of every character in the story, so it's not like Big Finish had brought in someone explicitly to mimic Eccleston.
So.. enough waffling, what's Ravagers about? There's two sets of hints we have, a video just posted on the Doctor Who channel on YouTube (embedded below), and the writeup on the Big Finish website.
What is Ravagers
In case we had any doubt that Christopher Eccleston had returned to the role of The Doctor, the video trailer starts with this proclamation. He's definitely back, and in style.
Unfortunately the video doesn't help much with understanding what the story is about. Of course. Nor does the Big Finish synopsis, cribbed from their website:
- 1.1 Sphere of Freedom
- On the Sphere of Freedom, the Doctor is about to shut down an evil Immersive Games business empire. He’s assisted by a valiant galley chef called Nova. But his plan spectacularly fails... And who exactly is Audrey?
- 1.2 Cataclysm
- Nova is dislocated in time while the Time Eddies are out of control. Meanwhile, the Doctor is about to face the end of the universe. Or is that just the Battle of Waterloo?
- 1.3 Food Fight
- The TARDIS is starting to get a little crowded! Audrey finds herself haunted by a ghostly Doctor.
There's something about a Centurion facing a big Robot. But since nothing is mentioned about Rory, this Centurion is not about Rory. Sometimes a Centurion is just a Centurion.
This image refers to 1.2 Catalypse which says something about The Battle of Waterloo. There's also a character, Nova. The Doctor is heard screaming at her to hold onto something, but the synopsis says she got "dislocated in time". Then there's someone else named Audrey, which the trailer doesn't help us to understand.
Where does Ravagers fit into The Ninth Doctor's timeline?
No mention is made of Rose, or Mickey, or any of the other folks that appeared alongside the televised Ninth Doctor. I didn't listen to all of Battle Scars, but that story sounded like he had just emerged from The Time War and was nursed back to health by a kindly couple, who he left almost immediately.
In other words, I suspect that Ravagers will fit in before The Ninth Doctor met Rose in that shop in London way back in 2005.
The Doctor that meets Rose clearly had emerged from The Time War some time previously. He was already on the track of solving other issues, and had found a Nesteen invasion to stop when he met Rose.
The time between meeting Rose, and his regeneration at the end of season 1, is fully accounted for by televised Doctor Who episodes episodes. Therefore, the only holes into which Big Finish can insert Ninth Doctor episodes are either before Rose, or after Rose but some place other than what we saw. But for Big Finish to record a Ninth Doctor episode alongside Rose would require getting Jackie Piper and some of the others to join in.
The simpler approach is for Big Finish to place their Ninth Doctor adventures before Rose.