Perhaps one aspect of The War Doctor Begins I have found myself undervaluing is the format. While the first set is a three episode miniseries about the immediate aftermath of the regeneration of the Eighth Doctor, the second established itself as its own self-contained miniseries, though early in the War Doctor’s life. Battlegrounds, the third set in the series, follows this pattern as well cementing the fact that this range isn’t going to be an actual miniseries, but four sets exploring early parts of the character’s life. This third set has the linking theme of exploring war and the various battlegrounds war is waged upon: physical, mental, and spiritual. Three scripts from three stylistically different writers each tacking a different type of battleground makes The War Doctor Begins: Battlegrounds three episodes with very different tones and a focus on character pieces above everything else which keeps the link strong, but each of the stories can find themselves separate. The other link throughout the stories is the directing from Louise Jameson, who should be singled out for being responsible for how The War Doctor Begins sounds. Her directorial style is distinct and steeps the sets in this almost ethereal atmosphere where things feel ever so slightly out of phase to give the Time War this mythical quality.
The War Doctor range was one of the Big Finish ranges sadly cut off due to the passing of Sir John Hurt.A fifth box set was actually planned and some of those scripts have been used in other ranges such as The War Master, at least in similar premises.Now that time has passed, the character has been recast with Jonathon Carley, most well known for several fan Doctor Who productions, and instead of continuing John Hurt’s legacy as the character which may have been insensitive if done incorrectly, goes back to the beginning of the character to explore what the War Doctor actually kind of means.The War Doctor Begins was announced as four box sets, starting release in June 2021 all looking to lead to essentially where their War Doctor releases began.Forged in Fire sports a beautifully painted cover by Claudia Gironi featuring Daleks and Thals and a younger John Hurt.It also is a set which sets up something interesting for the character, taking a step away from what Steven Moffat implied with the character, that he was the version of the Doctor who went against everything that the Doctor stood for, that his purpose was to be a warrior.There is something to be said to the recast; Carley joins Jon Culshaw’s Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Sadie Miller’s Sarah Jane, and Elliot Chapman’s Ben Jackson (among others) in Big Finish’s roster of perfect recasts.Carley worked closely with director Louise Jameson to ensure that his impression was more than just an impression, but really embodying the younger version of the character.He makes it his own and Jameson’s direction is also a welcome change as her touch makes the entire set have a different atmosphere to Big Finish’s usual output.Continue reading →
Big Finish, in association with BBC Studios, today announces the forthcoming full-cast audio drama series, Doctor Who: The War Doctor Begins. Newcomer Jonathon Carley is set to star as a younger version of the War Doctor. in four brand-new box sets of adventures for the Doctor’s disavowed alter ego, due for release starting from June 2021.
“The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose, it’s like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise. He is my secret.”
The really impressive thing about the War Doctor range (yes apart from getting John Hurt to do it, the amazing scripts, wonderful directing and music) is the fact that each set whilst following a through-line has its own unique feel and theme. Agents of Chaos is no exception. The idea of having people and items that add a wild card to an already chaotic universe beset by the Time War is inspired. Continue reading →
When it comes to the War Doctor a lot of people get it wrong. I try not to sound arrogant as I write that; but I think it’s true.
People have said that for the Doctor to be that disgusted with himself from the War and to deny his name he must have done something really bad; something maybe even evil. I’ve never felt this. All the Doctor has to do to not consider himself good is simple. He has to either not live by his personal code (which is so well summed up in Day of the Doctor) ‘Never cowardly, nor cruel. Never give up, never give in’.
He also needs to never be a pragmatist, because part of being the Doctor is always to find the unquestionable right thing to do something when it seems impossible.
In December 2015, the Time War will rage and only one man can save us. John Hurt is The War Doctor!
John Hurt, the world-renowned star of film and television, is returning to the role of The War Doctor, in twelve full-cast Doctor Who audio plays.
The War Doctor was introduced for Doctor Who’s Fiftieth Anniversary, and played a key part in the record-breaking television special The Day of the Doctor, alongside David Tennant and Matt Smith’s Doctors. He is the secret incarnation of the Time Lord — but he has shunned the title ‘Doctor’ in order to fight in the Time War against the Daleks.