Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Expanded Whoverse

The thing with Doctor Who is that it's so ridiculously popular and has such a strong fanbase that you can literally never slack the thirst of the Whovians for more more more. Besides the myriad books and comics and episodes starring The Doctor, there is also that time honored tradition of the "spin-off." While there are the more obvious spin-offs, The Sarah Jane Adventures, K-9 (the successful 2010 spin-off, not the failed 1981 spin-off which ironically costarred Sarah Jane), and of course, Captain Jack's vehicle, Torchwood (an anagram of Doctor Who itself), there are more spin-offs then you might imagine. These books and audios and shows have expanded the Whoverse to be something more. The thing is, Doctor Who isn't just about The Doctor. Look at the most wildly popular episode of the new series, "Blink," and you will see that I am right. This episode is Sally Sparrow's, not The Doctors. So where to begin?

First, let's talk about characters that have actually appeared in the television series. There is the hilarious comedic duo of Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot who appeared in the 1977 serial with Tom Baker, "The Talons of Weng-Chiang." These two men made the episode so fun and you just didn't want to leave them at the end of the story when the TARDIS left. The duo of "an upper class gentleman with the voluble cockney showman" was recognised at the time as a winning combination worthy of a spin-off. Sadly, we had to wait over thirty years but Big Finish has now created a series of audio adventures with this daring duo. The fact that characters from one serial could have such a following that they reappear thirty years later shows the loyalty of the fanbase. It must also be noted that if it weren't for Big Finish and their Doctor Who audios, who knows if the series would have ever come back so strong. Other characters from the show that have had spin-offs in printed media are the 5th Doctor's companion Turlough, as well as the 4th Doctor's companions Harry Sullivan, K-9 and Sarah Jane, who all got novelizations in the "Companions of Doctor Who" full-length novels.

But there is another level to this. There are characters now that have been created in the novels that have then spun-off to their own series or made cameos in the authors own works. The two I am thinking of most are Iris Wildthyme and Professor Archibald Angelchrist. Iris Wildthyme is a character that was created by Paul Magrs and was featured in a few of his books where she exhibited some Time Lord like attributes. Flash forward to the short story "Old Flames" and Iris is hanging out with the 4th Doctor because they are old friends. Iris went on to be in four Doctor Who novels, numerous short stories, tons of audio adventures, and two of her own books so far. Iris has made her mark on Doctor Who and gone on to be just Iris. Though in an interesting case of wibbly wobbly timey wimey, in the audio plays she's voiced by Katy Manning who played Jo Grant on Doctor Who... As for Professor Angelchrist, he made his first appearance in the 11th Doctor's book Paradox Lost by George Mann. But that hasn't stopped him from jumping into Mann's other books and weaving himself into that world. Angelchrist has showed up in Ghosts of Manhattan and talked about Newbury and Hobbes... so it's all worlds within worlds. But for the true Whovian, all this commingling, expanding, and wibbly wobbly timey wimey makes this expanded Whoverse that much more rich and rewarding. So go out and see what else this universe has to offer!


The Jago and Litefoot series are absolutely *superb*. I've just finished the fifth series, and they're my first proper dip into the expanded Whoniverse, the Big Finish line and audio drama in general really and I've absolutely loved them.

Excited to hear they're so good!

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