Next year, fans will get to hear the brand new series Doctor Who: The War Doctor Begins from Big Finish. What should we look forward to from this new exploration of a unique Doctor?
Last week, Big Finish made the very surprising announcement of a brand new series focusing on the War Doctor. It’s not the first time that they’ve explored the character: from 2015 to 2017, Big Finish released Doctor Who: The War Doctor, with John Hurt reprising the role that he only got to play once on television – specifically, in the fiftieth anniversary story The Day of the Doctor. John Hurt’s sudden death in 2017 naturally brought that series to an end.
Big Finish wanting to explore more of the character isn’t too much of a surprise. After all, exploring past Doctors is what they do – even ones originally played by actors that are no longer with us. However, recasting the role and creating a new full-cast series for the character was definitely unexpected. Especially when it’s only been three years since Hurt’s death. So it has to be said, a series like this could be a huge risk.
However, there are a couple of things that leave me hopeful for The War Doctor Begins. The first is the casting of Jonathon Carley in the role. Carley has voiced the character in several projects already – most notably, in the fun little video Doctors Assemble! earlier this year – and he’s definitely proven that he can handle the role brilliantly. If you haven’t heard him yet, make sure to listen to the clip below.
This brings me to the second reason why I’m excited about The War Doctor Begins: it’s very title. With their previous series exploring the character, Big Finish made a clear choice of focusing on the latter days of the War Doctor. This makes a lot of sense, especially when you’ve got Hurt himself voicing the part. Why make him try to voice a younger version of his Doctor when he might as well play something much more recognizable?
However, by setting it so late in the War Doctor’s life, it meant that at the very start of the series, the Doctor is already used to the Time War. So from the very beginning, he’s already a man who’s filled with regret at the choices he’s had to make.
This wasn’t a bad thing, but it did mean that it skipped a lot of character development for the War Doctor, and left too many of the most intriguing questions unanswered. How did the Doctor learn to become a man of war? What terrible choices did he have to make to give up the name of the Doctor? What happened right after his “birth” in The Night of the Doctor?
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After the Night
As the clip above shows, that last question at least is one that’s definitely going to be explored. The scene takes place right after Night, and shows us exactly how the Doctor feels about the events of that minisode post-regeneration. It’s an extremely exciting start, and promises that we’re going to get an exciting “new Doctor” story – one unlike any other, as it’ll be focused on an incarnation that rejects the name of the Doctor from the very beginning.
That’s why I’m really excited to listen to The War Doctor Begins. Not just because of Jonathon Carley’s extremely impressive take on the character. But for the fresh opportunity to explore this Doctor in a new and exciting way, one that will hopefully answer many major questions about him. We’ve got a lot of special releases to look forward to from Big Finish next year – not least of which is the return of Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. But – in story terms, at least – The War Doctor Begins could be one of the most exciting.
Are you excited about The War Doctor Begins? If so, what are you hoping for most from the series? Let us know in the comments below.