Is there anything that deflates Doctor Who excitement more than the words “audio drama”? Well, other than “an enemy that seemed really cool the first time around is back for the 10th time” (cough Weeping Angels cough). Then again, the audio dramas seem pretty popular, so maybe it’s not deflating at all? Either way, Big Finish’s ear-based Doctor Who stories have become the go-to medium for fan service that would either be too expensive to actually film or focuses on characters—and previous incarnations of The Doctor—who are no longer part of the main series. The BBC may be flush with pounds (from all of those expensive TV licenses, right?), but even an organization like that isn’t going to throw money at, say, a full series about Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor when it’s trying to convince people to watch new episodes about the current Doctor. Big Finish is more than happy to do that sort of thing, though, and it’s been doing it since before the actual TV show was rebooted in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the ninth incarnation of The Doctor.
Now, speaking of, Big Finish has managed to do the impossible and lured Eccleston back to the TARDIS—which not even the 50th anniversary special from a few years ago could do, requiring the show to slot in a previously unmentioned Doctor played by John Hurt. Eccleston’s run on the show only lasted one season (or “series” if you serve the Queen), with him explaining in recent years that he had a bad relationship with then-showrunner Russel T. Davies and vowed to never work with him or on Doctor Who ever again. However, Eccleston’s run is deeply underrated, if only because his immediate successor (David Tennant’s 10th Doctor) is so effortlessly likable, and it sounds like the positive response from fans in recent years has convinced Eccleston to give this whole Time Lord thing another shot after 15 years.
As reported by Deadline, Eccleston will be starring in a 12-episode audio adventure across four box sets, with the first one coming in May of 2021. Story details and any other potential Doctor Who characters who may show up have not been announced yet, but it’s worth noting that Big Finish has already done Ninth Doctor-era stories with a different actor, so he—as in the Ninth Doctor, not Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor specifically—has gone on new adventures with Jackie Tyler in the Big Finish canon (if anyone desperately wants to hear that). No matter what happens in these, hopefully we’ll see Eccleston’s Doctor treated a little better than he was in his two-part TV sendoff, which involved bizarre and instantly dated parodies of early-2000s British television. Remember The Weakest Link? Hopefully you do, because there are a lot of bad references to it in a very important episode of Doctor Who!