The Audio Visuals were an unlicensed series of fan Doctor Who audio dramas produced in Britain during 1980s and the early 1990s. Many of the personnel involved would go on to professional work connected with the revived version of Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Big Finish Productions. Twenty-eight audio plays in all were recorded and distributed on cassette between 1984 and 1991.
The pilot episode, "The Space Wail", featuring the Doctor as voiced by Stephen Payne, was recorded in 1984. The first full seasons (1985-1988) were produced by Bill Baggs and starred Nicholas Briggs as his own version of the Doctor. The fourth and final season (1989-1991) was produced by Gary Russell. Briggs and Russell would have healthy careers ahead of them in the worlds of Doctor Who and, in the case of Russell, Torchwood as well, both before and after Russell T Davies' revival of the series.
Although the Audio Visuals productions were in violation of copyright, the BBC chose to look the other way. Gary Russell later told an interviewer
We were fans doing some stuff for a handful of people. We never advertised in professional magazines, we kept ourselves to ourselves. In doing so, we broke every copyright rule in the book (hell, Terry Nation would have crucified us — although I think our Dalek stories knocked spots off Saward's!) JNT was certainly aware of us, but he didn't care. Why should he? We were no more than any other fan product and at least we weren't printing articles about him or the show. I doubt Saward knew or cared. He wouldn't know drama if it bit him.
Many of those involved in the Audio Visuals went on to work on BBV Productions (founded by Bill Baggs) or Big Finish Productions, which in 1999 began producing licensed Doctor Who audio drama under the guidance of Gary Russell. Nicholas Briggs has worked for both BBV and Big Finish as an actor and as a writer. He also worked on additional Doctor Who-related/inspired productions for Reeltime Pictures and beginning in 2005, has done vocal work as Daleks and other roles for the new Doctor Who series.
List of Audio Visuals stories
|0||The Space Wail||Gary Russell||December 1984||Pilot episode. BABE later appears in Deadfall.|
|1||The Time Ravagers||Nicholas Briggs||1985||Introduction of Nicholas Briggs Doctor. Features Briggs as the Daleks. Temperon later appears in The Sirens of Time.|
|Connection 13||Stuart Palmer||1985||Rigellons later mentioned in Legacy.|
|Conglomerate||Nicholas Briggs||1985||Introduces Conglomerate and Drudgers.|
|Cloud of Fear||Alan W. Lear||1985||Introduces Psionovores, later mentioned in Placebo Effect and seen in Minuet in Hell.|
|Shadow World||Richard Marson, Deborah Marson||1985||Introduces Renegade Time Lord Askran and the drug Sargol, later mentioned in Deadfall.|
|2||Maenad||Gary RUssell||1986||Introduces Ria. Doctor is exposed to Sargol. Calfadoria mentioned again in The Sirens of Time, Legacy, and Deadfall. Cal-Med One mentioned in Legacy. Cal 2 Medical Research Facility and Ayn Kranton seen in Deadfall. Tri-Planet Alliance of Calfadoria mentioned in Business Unusual and Instruments of Darkness.|
|The Mutant Phase||Nicholas Briggs||1986||Daleks return. Adapted as The Mutant Phase.|
|The Destructor Contract||Nicholas Briggs||1986||Introduces Cuthbert and reuses Temperon. Kurgon system reappears in The Sirens of Time. Loosely adapted as The Sands of Life / War Against the Laan, with the Temperon replaced by the Laan.|
|Vilgreth||Nicholas Briggs||1986||Adapted as Last of the Titans|
|The Trilexia Threat||Nicholas Briggs & John Ainsworth||1986||Trilexia return in Adorable Illusion|
|Minuet in Hell||Alan W. Lear||1986||Psionovores return. Adapted as Minuet in Hell.|
|Blood Circuit||Jim Mortimore||1986||Llandros mentioned in Deadfall. The version of Tersurus established here is mentioned in A Life of Matter and Death.|
|3||Second Solution||Jim Mortimore||1986||Initiates "Justyce" story arc. The Doctor's rubber duck from this story reappears in Lungbarrow. Adapted for Audio Adventures in Time & Space as Republica, later novelized as Republica.|
|The Secret of Nematoda||Nicholas Briggs||Truman Crouch introduced. Nematodian Border mentioned in Legacy. Posedor mentioned in Deadfall.|
|Enclave Irrelative||Alan W. Lear||Cuthbert returns. Frijor III mentioned in Deadfall.|
|More than a Messiah||Nigel Fairs||Adapted for The Stranger as movie of same name. Majus Seventeen later mentioned in The Scales of Injustice.|
|Sword of Orion||Nicholas Briggs||Orion War and Orion androids mentioned in Legacy and Deadfall. Adapted as Sword of Orion, leading to further Big Finish use of Orion War, Androids, and Garazone.|
|Carny||Jim Mortimore||Doctor succumbs to Sargol withdrawl.|
|Planet of Lies||Alan W. Lear||Depicts the destruction of Gallifrey by Daleks. This ended up being a plot point within licensed Doctor Who, although in a very different context, in the Last Great Time War.|
|4||Deadfall||Gary Russell||Garazone returns and Ardethe is explored. Adapted into Deadfall.|
|Requiem||Andy Lane||Conglomerate returns. Gregori Glasst is referenced in Invasion of the Cat-People, Deadfall, and Dalek: The Astounding Untold History of the Greatest Enemies of the Universe. Deadfall further mentions Proot and Requiem Suite.|
|Cuddlesome||Nigel Fairs||Askran dies. Adapted as Cuddlesome.|
|Endurance||Nicholas Briggs||Lord Barset's Antarctic expedition referenced in The Scales of Injustice and City of Devils. Lord Barset's grandson attempts to find the Silurians' Antarctic city in Frozen Time by Nicholas Briggs, who wrote the original story under a pseudonym.|
|Truman's Excellent Adventure||Gary Russell||References secrets of cats from Russell's The Legacy of Gallifrey. A version of Smokey reappears in Deadfall.|
|Subterfuge||Nicholas Briggs||Cuthbert, Conglomerate, Drudgers, and Posedor return. Throxill, Congress of Galactic Ecologists, Future Hope, and Ellinsford are mentioned in Deadfall. Griffelian V and Griffelians mentioned in City of Devils. Loosely adapted as The Pursuit of History / Casualties of Time.|
|Justyce||Nicholas Briggs||Solaados, Solaadons, Lucinda Vrana, AMS Horatio, and AMS Sithnar are mentioned in Deadfall. Solaadons also mentioned in Prelude Legacy. Cyber-Hunt directly follows from the ending of this story.|
Some further stories were planned but never actually produced.
Relationship to mainstream Doctor Who universe
The series' version of the Doctor and his companion Ria appeared in the Doctor Who Magazine comic story Party Animals, also written by Gary Russell, with the Audio Visuals Doctor depicted as a future incarnation of the Seventh Doctor. He reappeared in The Incomplete Death's Head (set in part during the events of Party Animals). The multi-part Eighth Doctor story Wormwood saw Shayde, posing as the Doctor, faking a regeneration into a fictitious Ninth Doctor who was identical to the Audio Visuals Doctor. Nicholas Briggs himself would go on to portray alternative versions of the Doctor on two occasions, although neither of them were otherwise depicted as overly similar to the Audio Visuals incarnation, unlike the character's appearances in the aforementioned comics.
Separately from this, BBV Productions' Cyber-Hunt, an audio play in the Audio Adventures in Time & Space range which did not feature licensed DWU concepts, and also notable for introducing the Cyberons, introduced an amnesiac character going by "Fred" or "the Wanderer", played by Nicholas Briggs. As freely discussed by Briggs in interviews, Fred was intended to come across as an amnesiac version of his Audio Visuals Doctor, with the amnesia device allowing the story to continue in a professional context without impinging on the BBC's copyright. Fred reappeared in a second audio, Vital Signs, without the Cyberons. Many years later, BBV Productions published Cyber-Hunt, a novelisation of the original audio play which also featured further legal ties to the DWU. The novel reified the effective "decanonisation" of the Audio Visuals by later licensed media into an in-universe rewriting history, revealing that Fred had formally sacrificed his former identity, allowing another version of him to replace him, as a way of removing the destruction of his homeworld from history.
As noted in this page's story notes, minor continuity references to the Audio Visuals have since appeared in many official Doctor Who stories, particularly in the early work of Gary Russell and various Big Finish Productions releases. Jim Mortimore's The Natural History of Fear used a version of the Doctor Who theme which Mortimore had composed for the Audio Visuals. Cavan Scott, a fan of the Audio Visuals, originally intended to feature the recurring villain Askran in Project: Twilight in the role which was later filled by Nimrod; Scott has since included several small nods to the Audio Visuals in his work. The recurring Audio Visuals villain Cuthbert and his Conglomerate served as arc antagonists for series 2 and 5 of Big Finish's Fourth Doctor Adventures.
A number of remakes or sequels to Audio Visuals stories (some very loosely adapted) have been produced mainly in the form of another audio story created by Big Finish Productions.
- Last of the Titans: A close remake of the Audio Visuals' story Vilgreth.
- The Mutant Phase
- Sword of Orion
- Minuet in Hell
- Frozen Time: A sequel to Audio Visuals' story Endurance.
Remakes not based in the Doctor Who universe.
- More Than a Messiah: The Stranger series.
- In Memory Alone: The Stranger series, based on Conglomerate.
- Audio Visuals at Doctor Who Expanded
- Justyce: A fan site for the Audio Visuals, with interviews and an episode guide.
- Files released by writer Jim Mortimore