1 April 2016

Do Big Finish get too much publicity from Doctor Who Magazine?

It seems to be that whenever a new issue of Doctor Who Magazine appears there is an obligatory Big Finish related feature. The recently published DWM Time Lord Special is an excellent overview of Gallifreyan related stories yet it includes some Big Finish stuff as well as the TV series as if it is somehow of equal status. This is something which DWM have done for a long time now; subtly mixing these audio adventures in as if they are all part of the same canon. There’s nothing wrong with including Big Finish but it should be clear that these are something apart from the TV show. Obviously in terms of quality the audios are top class and include many actors who have been in the show but in terms of status they seem to have gradually been elevated onto a par with televised stories. 

This state of affairs is providing Big Finish- a commercial company - with a lot of publicity that anyone else producing Doctor Who related things does not have access to. Merchandise companies have to pay for advertising for example. It would now be very difficult for anyone else to start producing audio plays about the series such is the position and multitude of Big Finish adventures. BF have been clever in knowing that when they sign people from the TV series it not only boosts sales but DWM will be bound to interview them and talk about current work including Big Finish. The current issue is a perfect example as the cover sports both David Tennant and Catherine Tate with the banner headline `We’re Back`. A member of the public might think the duo are returning to the TV series! It all looks like a cosy arrangement aimed ultimately at boosting sales for both the audios and the magazine.
Big Finish’s star rose during the period when Doctor Who was off air and of course that was a totally different scenario. They kept the series’ profile more visible than it would otherwise have been which –along with the New and Missing Adventures books- was one of the factors in the eventual return of the TV show. Their products showed that the series had an audience and also an untapped artistic potential. It’s no surprise that a lot of the ideas in the modern series are derived from the sort of stories which both the audios and books from the Nineties and early 2000s included. 
Now though with the modern series itself a long running programme of more than a decade things are different. The implied -if unspoken- suggestion is that as fans we should be listening to all these Big Finish adventures which brings me to the other problem. There are so many of them- and they are quite expensive to buy- that this is financially impossible for some while many just don’t have the time.
In the wider world most people who watch Doctor Who do not buy either DWM or Big Finish so you could argue that the potential audience for both is similar and therefore what’s wrong with these references? Which is fine but I wonder how easy it would be for anyone other than Big Finish to have regular two or three pages worth of publicity for their Doctor Who related product in the pages of DWM?

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