Big Finish adapts "Love And War" for audio

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    In 1992, Virgin Publishing seriously shook things up only a year after taking on the daunting task of publishing the first ongoing line of original Doctor Who novels. Where the first several titles had featured the seventh Doctor and Ace as we left them on TV in 1989, “Love & War” saw Ace part company with the Doctor under far from ideal conditions, with archaeologist Bernice Summerfield taking her place in the TARDIS. It was a highly controversial move at the time, and a highly controversial book that featured sex and swearing – certain parts of fandom railed against Doctor Who becoming more “adult” in nature, while others were all for it. Oh, and there was some deeply disturbing Lovecraftian horror, too. The bad guys in this story weren’t screwing around.

    That will have been 20 years ago as of next year… and now Big Finish is adapting Love & War into an audio story with the full cast of Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Lisa Bowerman. Some folks still dislike the New Adventures greatly, so the controversy of the original novel is sure to be back in full force.

    Says producer and director Gary Russell: ‘Ever since Scott Handcock and I took over the reigns of Benny’s regular audio adventures last year, we’ve talked about ways of celebrating her twentieth year (twenty years – gracious!). Then, when we were recording the Epoch box set back in January, we thought it’d be fun to see if we could pitch for one of the Doctor Who Companion Chronicles – calling it ‘War and Love’ – and wondered if we could put the Seventh Doctor and Ace in it. Lo and behold, Big Finish supremo David Richardson came back and said that the lovely people in Big Finish Towers had wondered if we fancied doing a full-cast adaptation of Love and War. Did we ever?! How exciting! And so here we are, getting ready to record it – eeek! It’s like those early days of Benny’s audio adventures, working with Jac Rayner as she adapts the book – but this time with added Doctor and Ace! Thrilled does not begin to describe what we’re feeling right now…’

    I’m looking forward to this one – it’s still one of the two New Adventures novels I recommend most to those who haven’t sampled that “era” of Doctor Who (the other being the original “Human Nature”, also written by Paul Cornell), it’s still a ripping good read, and I’m looking forward to Big Finish doing it justice. I’d be scared to death if the TV series was taking it on – they positively butchered “Human Nature” – but the Big Finish guys are fully aware of the following this particular book has.

    The release date is next Halloween. That’s a long wait.


    Recording is all finished, according to Big Finish [LINK]…

    ‘As one of those around when Benny was first ‘born’ twenty years ago, I’m so excited to be able to help celebrate this anniversary,’ says producer and director Gary Russell. ‘I’m pretty sure no one, least of all her creator Paul Cornell, expected Benny to capture everyone’s hearts and imaginations as much as she did back in 1992 – the first non-TV companion to be an unqualified success, who has spawned her own series of books and audios. Whatever next? I’m hoping to celebrate her silver jubilee with the Bernice Summerfield action figure, Bernice Summerfield interactive Xbox game and a Lego Benny! Hmmmm, actually, let’s see if we can get those done…’

    The story also marks the departure of Ace from the TARDIS and – despite various exits in novels and other media – Love and War will be the first time Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred have shared a leaving scene as the Doctor and Ace!

    Joining them on this very special adventure are Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield (whose adventures without the Doctor continue in next month’s Road Trip), James Redmond (Casualty, Hollyoaks), Bernard Holley (Z Cars, Doctor Who’s Voice of Axos), Maggie Ollerenshaw (Open All Hours, The House of Eliott), Riona O Connor (Hanna, Richard III), Aysha Kala (Shameless), Ela Gaworzewska, Christopher Allen and James Unsworth.

    ‘As a special treat, we’ve also recorded an adaptation of Paul Cornell’s Prelude to Love and War, as featured in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine,’ says producer Scott Handcock. ‘Fingers crossed, we’ll have it available to download as a podcast to whet everyone’s appetites in advance of the official release!’

    What’s really sad is that going down that cast list, I can mentally figure out who’s playing which part. That’s how well I know the book.


    We have a trailer! [LINK]

    Two initial observations, asides from “it sounds really good”…

    1. Big Finish is using the same WordPress plugin as I use for audio files. 😛

    2. The trailer is almost pitched like this is going to be a release in the Bernice Summerfield spinoff series, not as a Doctor Who release. (Fair enough, the release commemorates 20 years of Bernice – good grief, I’m old.)


    Cover art:

    Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Lisa Bowerman (Bernice Summerfield), James Redmond (Jan Rydd), Riona O Connor (Máire Mab Finn), Aysha Kala (Roisa McIlnery), Ela Gaworzewska (Christopher), Bernard Holley (Brother Phaedrus), Maggie Ollerenshaw (Audrey McShane), Christopher Allen (Clive Aubrey), James Unsworth (Julian Milton), Scott Handcock (Piers Gavenal), Charlie Hayes (Death), Peter Sheward (Eros)

    Based on the novel by Paul Cornell; adapted for audio by Jac Rayner.
    Directed by Gary Russell – YES! The prodigal son of Big Finish returns.


    Now a 3CD release.

    @Big Finish wrote:

    As a special bonus, the release has been upgraded from two discs to three to accommodate all the brilliant material recorded in studio. Discs one and two will feature Love and War itself, while a third disc – for no extra cost! – will contain both the prelude to the book first seen in Doctor Who Magazine, and a behind-the-scenes documentary looking at the making of the story.


    Love & War was voted the best Big Finish release of 2012. url]LINK[/url

    We recently ran a poll on Facebook where we asked people to vote for their favourite Doctor Who release (single/double disc/story) of 2012.

    Special: Love and War (the overall winner with 12% of the overall vote)

    Main Range: Gods and Monsters (second overall with 10% of the vote)

    Companion Chronicle: The Last Post

    Fourth Doctor: Destination Nerva

    Lost Stories: The First Sontarans

    The Top Ten best of Big Finish Doctor Who 2012 reads as follows:
    1. Love and War
    2. Gods and Monsters
    3. The Curse of Davros
    4. The Emerald Tiger
    5.= Protect and Survive
    5.= Destination Nerva
    7. Voyage to Venus
    8.= The First Sontarans
    8.= The Wrath of the Iceni
    10. The Butcher of Brisbane

    A few things:

    Wrath Of The Iceni was the best of the Fourth Doctor audios, but I have a sneaking suspicion that since it’s a “historical” story instead of a “space” story, fewer people bought it.

    If they wish to duplicate the success of Love & War, I think it might be a good idea for us to see “directed by Gary Russell” on more upcoming releases. He “gets” the show overall, and has always managed to get some of the best work out of McCoy in particular.

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