Big Finish: Doctor Who - Top Ten Tom Baker Audio Adventures - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Doctor Who - Top Ten Tom Baker Audio Adventures

Moo celebrates the legendary voice’s birthday.

It’s hard to overstate the amount of love for Tom Baker that we Doctor Who fans have. To so many he isn’t just that guy who played the 4th Doctor – He is simply THE Doctor.

A big part of why he is so beloved is his voice. It booms and echoes and fills the room, it commands attention and is almost an established Doctor Who character in and of itself.

So it’s no surprise that Big Finish have made the most of the opportunity to get as much out of him as possible. Here are ten of my favourite stories from them that feature Tom Baker.

10. Someone I Once Knew

This is the concluding story in one of Big Finish’s River Song boxsets so you need to hear it in context to appreciate it. In this set River has been in conflict with the demon-alien Discordia, and for the final story to reverse the damage done she has to team up with her husband… the wrong version, but the Doctor all the same. While there’s essentially no reason why it has to be the Fourth Doctor, it really works. Tom Baker and Alex Kingston play off each other really well and together they totally sell the relationship between the two. It’s a beautiful story, this one.

9. The Syndicate Masterplan

I’m not sure who decided that a sequel to 1965-66 mostly-missing twelve-part epic The Daleks’ Master Plan was a necessary thing in 2019, but the eighth series of Big Finish’s Fourth Doctor Adventures range was exactly that. The Syndicate Masterplan is a mix of standalone and arc-based stories but they must all be heard together to appreciate it. The overall story picks up the pieces after the First Doctor’s adventure and throws the Fourth and his new companion WPC Ann Kelso into the fallout. It’s a treat for fans of 60s-era Who, with lots of great twists and turns that make for a compelling experience.

8. The Foe From the Future

This “lost story” was one of two six-parters considered to conclude season 14 back in the 70s. In the end they made The Talons of Weng-Chiang, but luckily the other option survives in the form of this Big Finish adaptation. Despite being a six-part story without visuals it never drags, with many changes in setting and a strong supporting cast working to keep it moving along at pace. All the strengths of the Hinchcliffe era of the show are on display to create a story that it’s a damn shame we didn’t get in the 70s but that I’m really pleased we still got to experience in this form.

7. Night of the Vashta Nerada

Doctor Who visits the happiest planet in the galaxy: Funworld. Which immediately tells you that the story which follows will be anything but happy or fun! And that’s not a bad thing, because it’s a great story. The imagery is dark and morbid, but it works on audio allowing the listener to paint a picture that a 70s budget never could. Without a companion, this story forces the Doctor to shine on his own terms, and he does. Seeing him work out the rules of this all-time great monster as it slowly picks off the guest cast one by one, the Fourth Doctor is on fine form here. A wonderful showcase for what this incarnation is like when the pressure is really on. Any fan of Tom Baker’s Doctor should check out this story.

6. The Light at the End

The 50th Anniversary audio special brings eight Doctors together, including number four. This is a treat for fans in so many ways, but perhaps none more than hearing Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor team-up with Paul McGann’s Eighth. The two spend most of the runtime together as the others go off on their own separate tangents, resulting in what is one of the best two-Doctor team-ups in any multi-Doctor story to date. These two go so well together that I could easily see a full series of adventures for them working out well. Add this to a fun story with all the Doctors and the Master’s latest plot and you’ve got a recipe for success.

5. Doctor Who and the Star Beast

This is a very different story! Adapted from an old comic strip, you know from that fact alone that what will follow is a unique experience (and that’s a good thing). In this story, the Doctor goes up against Beep the Meep, a little rat-like creature who’s cutesy-cuddly appearance covers a dark sinister evil streak. It’s exactly the sort of thing that the TV series would never pull off but that expanded media is placed perfectly to pull-off, making for a story that is nothing but a delight to listen to.

4. Out of Time

Look at that cover and then tell me if I need to justify this story’s inclusion. Tenth Doctor and Fourth Doctor vs Daleks! What more is there to say? The two most iconic Doctors and their most iconic villain all in one place, sign me up! But despite all those elements, you need to have a good story to deliver on the potential. I’m pleased to report that that’s what we got. Although the Tenth takes the lead, the Fourth is given plenty of good material. The setting of the story outside of time is a terrific concept done well, and it allows for the multi-Doctor interactions to carry the story from just being competent fanservice into something that is essential listening.

3. The Crooked Man

It starts off in a coastal town where the Doctor and Leela discover a series of grisly murders. As the pair investigate they learn of “the crooked man”, a figure from an obscure story who feeds on imagination and lives to kill. So how can something fictional be killing real people? The answer is discovered when the Doctor and Leela end up in the land of fiction, this time doing battle not with classical literary figures but ideas by unpublished hacks. Genius idea realised to perfection, cannot recommend it enough.

2. The Trouble With Drax

I’m not sure who decided that a memorable side-character from one of the less popular Tom Baker serials was worthy of a full-blown sequel, but I’m not complaining. It starts off with the Doctor and Romana being recruited by a newly-regenerated Drax for his latest scheme, and it spirals from there. This story has one joke but the increasingly outlandish ways it gets delivered each time will see you go from impressed to amused to actually standing up to applaud. Proof if we needed it that the same joke can be funny again and again if creative ways are found to land the punchline, it’s a real achievement that a story like this can exist and work as well as it does.

1. Kill the Doctor! / The Age of Sutekh

Taking a memorable one-off villain and turning him into an idea, a purely abstract concept rather than a tangible presence, living in a wireless cloud. This is the sort of thing that Doctor Who should be doing with the vast array of characters in the back catalogue of stories, and it works really well for Sutekh the Destroyer. This two-parter is also a great showcase for Leela giving her a very modern side-story as the Doctor gets caught up in things. There’s a very powerful story here, and it’s a shame how little attention it has been given since. IMHO this is what Big Finish should be doing more of, as it tops my list of favourite Tom Baker audio adventures.

Which one is your favourite?

“Moo” is the pseudonym used by this Doctor Who fan. He can usually be found procrastinating by thinking about Doctor Who. Follow him on Twitter @z_p_moo for more of his unusual takes, but do so at your own risk.

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