Doctor Who Unbound

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Doctor Who Unbound was a series produced by Big Finish Productions. It featured hypothetical stories set in variants of the Doctor Who universe with premises fundamentally altered.

These premises were often built upon "what if" propositions such as; "what if the Doctor hadn't left Gallifrey" (Auld Mortality), "what if the Doctor hadn't been UNIT's scientific advisor?" (Sympathy for the Devil) and "what if the Valeyard had won" (He Jests at Scars...). Others like Full Fathom Five's story was more vague built upon the idea of "what if the Doctor believed the ends justified the means?", while Deadline takes on the more meta-textual premise of "what if Doctor Who had never existed?" The final story in the ongoing series, Exile, featured a female Doctor, an idea that has been raised several times throughout Doctor Who's production. Each one featured a Doctor created specifically for the series, aside from He Jests at Scars, which featured the Valeyard.

First released in 2003, the first series of six Unbound stories were part of Big Finish's celebration of the 40th anniversary year of Doctor Who. Two subsequent stories were released in later years: the 2005 story A Storm of Angels was a sequel to Auld Mortality, and the 2008 story Masters of War was a sequel to Sympathy for the Devil.

As later recalled by Nicholas Briggs, the series was discontinued due to a feeling of having exhausted the "what-if" scenarios synonymous with the series, and after the BBC requested that Big Finish not cast any new actors as the Doctor, as they wanted to avoid mixed messages around the time of casting a new Doctor themselves.[1]

In 2016, the Sympathy for the Devil version of the Doctor and the Master returned for The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield Series 3, The Unbound Universe, in which Benny, a companion to the mainstream Doctors, crossed over into the parallel world of the Unbound Third Doctor, finding it devastated by a cosmic war. This Doctor and Master would return in the subsequent volume, Ruler of the Universe, after which the Unbound Doctor travelled with Benny to the N-Space, with their travels subsequently continuing in Series 5, 6 and 7 of the New Adventures, Buried Memories, Lost in Translation, and Blood & Steel. This Doctor also appeared alongside Benny in one story of The Story So Far: Volume Two and alongside Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor (the War Doctor degenerating into a future incarnation) in the audio story Time Lord Immemorial as part of Big Finish's 60 anniversary special Once and Future, although set before his jump into the main universe from the Unbound Doctor's perspective. The Master of this universe also reappeared in stories opposite mainstream incarnations of the Master in the fourth volume of The War Master, Anti-Genesis, and in Masterful, the special marking the 50th anniversary of the Master's television debut.

The series relaunched in 2022 with Doctor of War, a saga exploring possible events had the Fourth Doctor fulfilled his mission in Genesis of the Daleks. It starred Colin Baker as an alternative version of the War Doctor known as the Warrior. Also in 2022, Big Finish released Unbound: 1 - 8 Collected, a boxset containing the first eight releases of the series.

Stories[[edit]]

Original range[[edit]]

# Title Author Doctor / Main character Featuring Released
1 Auld Mortality Marc Platt The Doctor (Unbound 1) Susan (Unbound) May 2003
2 Sympathy for the Devil Jonathan Clements The Doctor (Unbound 2) Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Unbound), Unbound Master June 2003
3 Full Fathom Five David Bishop The Doctor (Unbound 3), The New Doctor (Unbound 3) Ruth July 2003
4 He Jests at Scars... Gary Russell The Valeyard, Melanie Bush Ellie Martin, Vansell August 2003
5 Deadline Robert Shearman Martin Bannister/Doctor Who Barbara, Philip, Amy/Susan September 2003
6 Exile Nicholas Briggs Previous Doctor (Unbound 6), The Doctor (Unbound 6) Cherrie, Cheese October 2003
7 A Storm of Angels Marc Platt The Doctor (Unbound 1) Susan (Unbound) January 2005
8 Masters of War Eddie Robson The Doctor (Unbound 2) Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Unbound), Davros (Unbound) December 2008

Doctor of War[[edit]]

Main article: Doctor of War (audio series)

Genesis[[edit]]

Main article: Genesis (audio anthology)
# Title Author Doctor / Main character Featuring Released
1.1 Dust Devil John Dorney The Warrior Fourth Doctor, Harry Sullivan, Sarah Jane Smith, Sixth Doctor, Peri Brown, Narvin 13 April 2022
1.2 Aftershocks Lou Morgan The Master, Daleks, Narvin
1.3 The Difference Office James Kettle Romana, Borusa

Destiny[[edit]]

Main article: Destiny (audio anthology)
# Title Author Doctor / Main character Featuring Released
2.1 Who Am I? Nigel Fairs The Warrior The Master, Leela 27 September 2022
2.2 Time Killers Lizzie Hopley The Master
2.3 The Key To Key To Time Tim Foley White Guardian, Davros

Other usage of the term[[edit]]

Aside from stories officially released under the Doctor Who Unbound range, the "unbound" term has been adopted as a general descriptor of out-of-continuity stories or concepts. Paul Cornell, writer of Scream of the Shalka (which was retroactively subsumed in continuity by the BBC Wales Doctor Who series) once jokingly captioned an image taken of himself with cosplayers of the Doctor and Master from Scream of the Shalka, "Dude, they’re, like, cosplaying my unbound!"[2] Nicholas Briggs has also informally described certain stories in Big Finish's Sherlock Holmes range which don't fit into its general continuity as "Sherlock Holmes Unbound."[3] Furthermore, prior to the Big Finish website update removing the ability to filter by Doctor, Trevor Martin's Doctor from AUDIO: Seven Keys to Doomsday was categorised as an "Unbound" incarnation.

Cover gallery[[edit]]

External links[[edit]]

Footnotes[[edit]]

  1. The Big Finish Podcast: Brand New Competition & Listeners' Emails. July #2 Timestamp: 7:46
  2. Paul Cornell (25 February 2009). Gallifrey and Things. PaulCornell.com. Retrieved on 29 July 2012. “Dude, they're, like, cosplaying my unbound!”
  3. https://www.bigfinish.com/news/v/have-you-heard-sherlock-holmes