Doctor Who Revisits Its Lowest Point, With Colin Baker

The Doctor Who audio adventures sold by Big Finish have gone a long way towards rehabilitating the much-reviled Colin Baker version of the Doctor. Are they about to throw all that away now?

The audio company, which has been doing Who stories for years now, has given Baker some decent scripts, which allowed him to show what he can do with proper material.

But now Big Finish has decided to do a new "season" of seven Doctor Who stories that were planned for Baker's second season, in 1985. The show was placed on hiatus after Baker's underwhelming first season, and a whole season's worth of scripts were tossed out to make way for the "Trial Of A Time Lord" season.

A few of those lost scripts were later published in book form, and fans everywhere rejoiced that they weren't actually made into TV episodes. They included "The Nightmare Fair" by Graham Williams, in which 1960s enemy the Celestial Toymaker comes back to torment the Doctor with video games; and "Mission To Magnus," in which the slimy one-note character Sil teams up with the Ice Warriors.

Now, Big Finish is going to adapt those two stories, plus five others that didn't make it into book form, into audio adventures starring Baker, and his original companion Nicola Bryant. According to producer David Richardson:

The full line-up will be revealed in a forthcoming issue of Doctor Who Magazine, but Richardson has confirmed that the first two entries in the Lost Stories will be the aforementioned The Nightmare Fair (which features The Celestial Toymaker) and Mission to Magnus (in which profit-hungry slug Sil allies himself with the Ice Warriors).
Mission to Magnus has been adapted for audio by original author, Philip Martin. However, as the author of The Nightmare Fair, Graham Williams is sadly no longer with us, the adaptation has been handled by Big Finish director, John Ainsworth. "Working on the script has been great fun. I have made every effort to remain true to the original TV script but have also been able to include extra material from Graham's own novelisation of the story. Hopefully listeners will get a good sense of what the story would have been like had it been made for TV.

That's what I'm afraid of.

I do have to admit to some curiosity to find out how Pip and Jane Baker had planned to destroy the Doctor's home planet of Gallifrey in their story, titled simply "Gallifrey."

Most of all, I'd caution the Big Finish people to be very careful if they decide to adapt Robert Holmes' lost Singapore story. Holmes may have been the greatest Doctor Who writer of all time, but he's also known for including bizarre racist caricatures of Asian people in his story "The Talons Of Weng-Chiang." And if it's true that Holmes' story set in Singapore was supposed to be called "Yellow Fever And How To Cure It," then that script may just deserve to sit in a drawer forever. (Not to mention the fact that it reportedly includes the Master, the Rani and the Autons, making it another overstuffed nostalgia-fest like his "Two Doctors" script.)

Colin Baker figurine image from Forbidden Planet. [TARDIS Newsroom]