We’re still freaking out about the recent announcement Christopher Eccleston will return to the Doctor Who universe in a series of Big Finish audio adventures. For a lot of fans, Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor was their entry point to Time Lords, Daleks, TARDISes and the like. Infamously, the actor didn’t enjoy the behind-the-scenes politics of that 2005 series and left, seemingly never to return. Lucky for us, recent positive fan encounters have changed his mind. But the big question is: with such a small onscreen tenure, where would these new stories fit into *FANFARE* Established Canon?
In the press release, Big Finish and BBC only confirmed Eccleston’s return and the number of episodes; no other details, and chiefly, no supporting cast. The Ninth Doctor‘s time on Doctor Who lasted for only 13 episodes and was populated with tons of other cast members. All of the episodes included companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper); two of them included would-have-been companion Adam (Bruno Langley); and five featured Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). The way we see it, there are four possibilities when it comes to when and how these new audio adventures could exist.
Option 1 – The Doctor and Rose
This seems the most obvious option for Ninth Doctor audios. Rose is his companion, and the entirety of series one is about Rose’s journey from shop girl to literal time god. Billie Piper has also done a few Big Finish audios in the past, most notably a series opposite David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.
As far as where these stories would fit within continuity, there’s a gap between “The Unquiet Dead” and “Aliens of London,” as part of what to her family is a one-year absence. There’s another brief option between “World War Three” and “Dalek;” and finally between “The Long Game” and “Father’s Day” or between “Father’s Day” and “The Empty Child.”
Option 2 – The Doctor, Rose, and Adam
This one’s fairly dubious; Adam was Rose’s pseudo-companion in “Dalek” and left with the heroes in the TARDIS; in the very next episode, “The Long Game,” Adam proved what a dingus he was and the Doctor kicked him out. It’s, however, possible the trio could have had some adventures offscreen. Big Finish, bless them, have done things like this in the past.
For example, on screen, Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) joined the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) in the 1983 story “The Planet of Fire;” in the very next story, “The Caves of Androzani,” the Doctor regenerates. This didn’t stop Big Finish from imagining tens of audio adventures featuring Peri and the Fifth Doctor. A lot happened in that week-long gap in air dates. It could easily happen here with Adam.
Plus, Adam has already appeared in Big Finish canon; he and Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) appeared in an Eccleston-less story in the company’s “Chronicles” range.
Option 3 – The Doctor, Rose, and Capt. Jack
This one would not only be a lot of fun—who doesn’t want Eccleston, Piper, and Barrowman back together again?—but it’s also a pretty easy one to work out, canonically. Captain Jack enters the Doctor and Rose’s life in “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances,” and between the end of that story and the next episode, “Boomtown,” we get the sense the trio have in fact had many more follies off screen. Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) is jealous of what a well-oiled team they are, and that doesn’t just happen in a few hours.
And Barrowman has done quite a few Big Finishes as well, from Torchwood ranges and a solo The Lives of Captain Jack series. It’d be great to have a pre-immortality Captain Jack marauding around the universe with Rose and Nine.
Option 4 – The Doctor Solo
So here again we have something a bit tricky. We definitely know the Doctor lived a while before he crossed paths with Rose in the series one premiere, “Rose,” but exactly how long is nebulous. We finally saw where he came from in “The Day of the Doctor,” when John Hurt’s War Doctor began to “wear a bit thin” toward the end. And we know from Rose’s conversations with Clive in “Rose” that the Ninth Doctor at least was present during several key moments in Earth’s history.
However, there’s a moment in “Rose” where the Ninth Doctor spies his reflection in a mirror and comments about the size of his ears, and certainly seems like he hasn’t been this Doctor for very long.
Another option for these is that the Doctor could say offhandedly that he left Rose and Jack somewhere (a resort planet or something) and went off on his own for a little while. But there doesn’t seem to be any other time that he could get away with leaving Rose unattended.
Option 5 – All of these!
We know from the announcement that the 12 new adventures will come out in four three-episode volumes. It’s absolutely conceivable that we could get one with the Doctor pre-show, one with just the Doctor and Rose, one with Adam added, and one with Jack. It’s much easier to swallow three-adventure jaunts fitting in between episodes than a whole series of 12. Especially if they want to have anything approaching a continuing story arc.
And hey, as any good Who fan knows, Big Finish writers can squeeze a new story in anywhere.
Who fans see Chris Eccleston leave the frame for a second and immediately shout "BIG FINISH BOXSET!" pic.twitter.com/K0cwRGoDTl— Battersea Power Station Official (@dread_davis) August 11, 2020
What are your predictions for when the Ninth Doctor stories might take place? Let us know in the comments below!
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