Continuity can be a useful tool.

Sometimes all you need is a good story.

2003 was possibly the peak year for Big Finish.

Meanwhile, the people at Big Finish had been busy. They’d got the license to create new Doctor Who audio adventures, initially featuring the fifth, sixth and seventh Doctors, and had started with a range that was more-or-less straightforward pastiche of the TV show, although generally with a standard of writing that was much higher than it had been during the time those Doctors were on the TV.

Colin Baker, in particular, had been very well served by his first few stories.

By the early 1990s, it had become clear, despite the BBC’s occasional claims otherwise, that Doctor Who would not be returning to the TV any time soon.

While the New Adventures were an acceptable substitute for many Doctor Who fans — and in the opinion of many even an improvement on the TV show — there were those who simply weren’t satisfied by words on a page, and needed to see old character actors being menaced by improbable monsters before they could feel fully happy.

Enter BBV Productions, producers of Who Methadone.

The levels of taste and good judgement in the Doctor Who production office in the mid-1980s can be summed up in three words:

Doctor In Distress.

Eric Saward hasn’t received a lot of love in these essays so far, but in the last full series he script-edited, Colin Baker’s first, he finally found a coherent aesthetic vision for Doctor Who. Whereas previously he’d been content to throw in as much violence and references to old stories as he could, by this point he had been converted to The Church Of Bob Holmes, and had come up with a semi-formula for the show that worked in the three stories that year where he could try it — comic double acts, vicious black humour, and a smattering of post-modernism with characters commenting metafictionally on the action. The fact that new companion Peri’s catchphrase became “all of these corridors look alike to me” gives a hint of the way Saward’s thoughts were trending.

Vengeance On Varos is the story where this style is taken to its ultimate extreme, and is by far the best Doctor Who story of the 1980s


The Caves Of Androzani is, notably, the only actually good Doctor Who story from 1984