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

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Doctor Who: Top Ten Fifth Doctor Audio Adventures From Big Finish

Moo grabs celery and listens up.
The Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison, is an incarnation that doesn’t seem to get as much attention on audio as many of the others. It makes sense. The Sixth saw the Big Finish audio adventures redeem him, the Seventh had his era cut short so there’s untapped potential being delivered on, and the Eighth never had a TV era in the first place. The Fifth slips under the radar as a result.

Although it makes sense, I think it's a shame as some of the Doctor’s best audio-original adventures can be found during his fifth lifetime. So here are ten of my personal recommendations to check out.
10. Loups-Garoux
One of the earliest Big Finish stories is a rare adventure for the Doctor travelling with just Turlough, a dynamic that wasn’t explored much on TV, which should alone make this worth a look. Loups Garoux sees the pair go to Rio De Janeiro and encounter werewolves. It’s a fantastic story, with lots of fun twists and turns along the journey, and gives Peter Davison plenty of excellent material to dive into. This relatively obscure adventure deserves more appreciation.
9. Spare Parts
Because the Fourth Doctor seeing the Daleks’ genesis went so well, it makes perfect sense to send the Fifth to the same for the Cybermen. Almost two decades on from release, Spare Parts still remains one of the most popular Big Finish adventures, even getting a vinyl release (Look at that gorgeous vinyl cover art!), and it’s not hard to see why. Joining the Doctor and Nyssa as they witness a tragedy unfolding and knowing they can’t stop, Spare Parts makes for a compelling bit of drama, one so good that when a Cyberman origin story did show up on TV twice – both three and fifteen years later – each was done carefully to avoid contradicting this one. While it’s been surpassed many times since, the enduring popularity of this story is a testament to just how good it is to have stood the test of time.
8. The Elite
There’s a parallel world where The Elite was made for TV, but luckily we still got this audio version of it so we can get a sense of what we missed. The Elite people are one city whose priest watches over their population and controls who gets to live and who is taken away as the other cities can only protest that they weren’t chosen. I won’t spoil it here, but the reveals that come piling on from this set-up and the story that develops from it make for a refreshing experience that feels authentic to 80s Who but also much better than most of that era. If this had been made as presented in this adaptation The Elite would be deservingly heralded as a classic.
7. Alien Heart / Dalek Soul
One common criticism of the Peter Davison era is how the Doctor is often just along for the ride in his stories. However, in this double-feature we get to see what makes the Fifth incarnation tick. Alien Heart is a fairly bog-standard Dalek adventure but in Dalek Soul the groundwork is built on for an experimental story which makes you question everything you thought you knew about the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. This was a pleasant surprise when it came out in 2017 and it’s a shame that it slipped under many people’s radar because the result is one of the most compelling Dalek stories of recent years and a terrific character piece for the two leads.
6. The Peterloo Massacre
A rare journey into the “pure historical” genre, The Peterloo Massacre takes place during the titular real life tragedy. It’s good to see a tragic event that not many people know about getting some attention, and this story gives it the honest portrayal such a thing deserves. It’s not an easy listen, with some particularly grim moments that stay with you afterwards, but that makes it all the more important to experience. Peter Davison nails the material with a stunning performance that takes the difficult subject matter and creates a compelling narrative around it. It’s a nasty bit of history but they do it justice, and made this an essential listen as a result.
5. Time in Office
It’s amazing how many times in the classic series the Doctor would find himself running as the President of Gallifrey, but for this story we finally get to see it happen. Time in Office plays out like an anthology, as each “episode” focuses on different ideas, but that helps keep it fresh. With such brilliant moments as Leela doing battle with a lawnmower and Tegan becoming Earth’s ambassador to Gallifrey, this release isn’t so interested in all the dramatic potential of the idea as it is in just having fun with them, but because of the actors giving it their all, combined with the strong writing they’re working with, it just works. Seeing Gallifrey played for laughs shouldn’t work as well as this, but it does. Highly recommended.
4. The Secret History
This story opens with the Fifth Doctor joined in his TARDIS by First Doctor companions Steven and Vicki, and it plays out exactly like a First Doctor story… So why is the Fifth Doctor in it? That’s the question he sets out to answer along the way, and the answer is every bit as brilliant as you’d hope. I won’t spoil it here, but the choice of villain is a delightful one for fans of the era these companions come from, and it’s a shame that this is their only meeting with this Doctor because they fit so perfectly with him. It’s always a joy to see two very different eras coming together, and The Secret History delivers on the potential of such a set-up.
3. Cold Fusion
Cold Fusion originated as a novel but today a copy will set you back several hundred pounds at a minimum, so along come Big Finish to adapt it to audio with the original writer. The multi-Doctor format is used in a unique way, with the earlier Fifth Doctor taking the lead as the Seventh goes more to the sidelines. It’s a marvellous story of science vs superstition, with some delightful Time Lord lore going on in the background making it well worth a look post-Timeless Children. It’s a great showing for the Fifth Doctor, still a new incarnation at this point, as he comes to terms with not just his newest self but also glimpses of a forgotten past and an unknown future.
2. The Kingmaker
The Doctor meets William Shakespeare and King Richard III but neither of them are as you’d expect. This story makes excellent use of the show’s time-travel premise to send the Doctor, his companions, and even many of the supporting cast jumping between different eras as they each figure out what the others have been doing and get themselves caught up in a number of genuine historical mysteries. Also it’s a comedy, with several totally off-the-wall concepts and set-pieces, such as the Doctor being a published author under the name “Doctor Who”. The Kingmaker is insane and can only be done justice by listening to it, which I cannot recommend doing enough.
1. Circular Time
This delightful anthology explores the Doctor’s relationship with his companion Nyssa, with four stories set at various points in her time with him. It’s a character piece for Nyssa primarily, but all four stories are excellent vehicles for that. We have Time Lord intrigue, an encounter with a historical figure, a relaxed time where the Doctor plays cricket, and it concludes with one of the weirdest and most experimental things Big Finish have ever done (and that’s saying something). The resulting anthology stands as a testament to how good they can be, and demonstrates the potential in these characters which the original show often failed to deliver on. Give this one a listen!

And they are my choices for top ten Fifth Doctor audio adventures from Big Finish, what are yours?

“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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