The team at Big Finish loves stories… and their fans. When the global pandemic canceled plans for their traditional in-person “Big Finish Day” event, their leadership, content creators, and artists came together to host a FREE virtual event for their many listeners.
At the height of the first wave of the global pandemic, end of Mar 2020, Big Finish announced that they would postpone what would have been their tenth year of hosting in-person Big Finish Day events around the United Kingdom.
Their Big Finish Day events are planned early and are known among their fans to sell out briskly. Furthermore, for a company that relies heavily on direct-person sales, it must have been quite a blow all around.
Yet, even though thoughts of normal event fare, like autographs and photographs and branded merchandise flittered away, Big Finish decided to do what they do best: bring together their fans.
For Aug 1, we assembled for a seven-hour YouTube Live Stream event like no other.
Big Finish Day
Quite like the Tardis, our Doctor Who fandom is brand new and ancient, it spans across time and space like the Doctor’s travels, and yet is very varied. The Big Finish event schedule perfectly balanced and celebrated this diversity, from their Classic era announcement regarding the Fourth Doctor’s new companion, to the Two Susans panel, to their newer panels with the Paternoster Gang talent and the writers of Missy’s range.
These panels were hosted and moderated by the contributors themselves, delivering the charm of a day spent in conversation with friends. And since both contributors and participants were more often than not at home, the atmosphere of the event replicated this sensibility.
Like many Big Finish fans, I’m sure not to be the first nor the last to have ever wished to be a fly on the wall of their recording studio or writers’ room. Thanks to this event we were seated alongside their roundtable of masters. This includes the musicians (Benji Clifford, Joe Kraemer, and Blair Mowat), the writers (Gemma Arrowsmith, Lisa McMullin, and the ever incomparable John Dorney), the actors (Carole Ann Ford, Claudia Grant, Neve McIntosh, Dan Starkey, and Catrin Stewart), and especially the culminating panel with such star power as Jason Haigh-Ellery, Paul McGann and Alex Kingston.
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And yet no matter the impressiveness of their celebrity, what the live scrolling wall of fan messages recounted was the many mentions of the famous Big Finish lunches, the joy of witnessing the passion and excitement of each contributor, and the hilarity of the peerless traveling troubadour that is Jon Culshaw (please can someone just build a range around his vocal impressions of famous Doctor Who speeches).
Some ticket holders may have been let down by news of the in-person event cancelation, but for those multitudes of fans around the world who could scarcely dream of attending in person, this was a privilege. And it may not have been fraught with new releases and deals, previews and breaking news, but instead, contributors and participants alike received something we didn’t even know we desperately needed: each other.
2020 will go down as a year where virtual conventions and fan re-watches united the Doctor Who fandom in new and promising ways. Yet even as a giant among these, the Big Finish Day virtual event delivered a day worth remembering.
Thanks to the Internet, we can continue to enjoy the offerings of the virtual Big Finish Day event. Were you able to attend live, or watch the replay? Which panels were your favorite? Comment below!