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COVID-19, a new strain of the Coronavirus, was an infectious disease first identified in Wuhan, China in 2019. It later spread globally, becoming a worldwide pandemic. As such, it had an influence on the creation and release of Doctor Who media at this time, much as it did on most other aspects of daily human life.

Timeline Edit

On 17 March 2020, Big Finish Productions announced their temporary suspension of in-studio recording of audio dramas.[1] It was later clarified this did not currently affect any already announced releases as well as many that had not been announced yet.[2] However, this did not constitute a complete cessation in recording as Scott Handcock and Jamie Anderson were mentioned as examples of Big Finish continuing to operate remotely.[3]

Also on 17 March, Reeltime Pictures announced they were delaying the Shane Rimmer and Geoffrey Beevers episodes of Myth Makers until the world situation improved. They also announced the suspension of mail-outs for the time being.[4]

On 19 March, Reeltime announced that The Peter Davison Years set for release in September 2020 would feature interviews with Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Mark Strickson and Anthony Ainley. They also said they were unable to arrange an interview with Peter Davison at this time.[4]

The measures that many governments had taken to advise people to self-isolate in their homes spawned the Doctor Who: Lockdown! event founded by Emily Cook from Doctor Who Magazine who proposed the idea of a simulcast watch-along between fans of The Day of the Doctor as a way to pass the time. The story was shown on 21 March 2020 and reignited #SavetheDay on Twitter. Steven Moffat also wrote a new story, Strax Saves the Day, in order to introduce the special. It included a brief gag that referenced the panic buying of toilet paper that had occurred in the previous weeks.

On 22 March, Big Finish Day 2020 was postponed until further notice. It was scheduled to take place on 6 June.[5]

On 23 March, Big Finish announced that some previously announced titles were being delayed to later dates in light of the outbreak while some unannounced titles were being moved forward in the schedule. Torchwood Soho - Parasite moved from June to August, The Sixth Doctor and Peri: Volume One moved from July to August, Perils and Nightmares moved from September to October, The Flying Dutchman / Displaced moved from October to November, the then-unnamed The Monthly Adventures #271 moved from November to December, The Second Doctor: Volume Three moved from November to February 2021, Stranded 3 moved from July 2021 to November the same year and Stranded 4 moved from November 2021 to April 2022.[6] The same day, in order to protect the warehouse chain and their staff, Big Finish moved all releases to a "digital-first" release schedule with physical releases ceasing to be shipped after 24 March.[7]

On 24 March, Reeltime announced that Margot Hayhoe had agreed to shoot a Myth Makers interview which was to be filmed when the situation improved.[4]

Also on 24 March, Big Finish reminded its audience that, for the foreseeable future, it was the last chance for them to purchase and then receive the collector's edition CD of The Lives of Captain Jack: Volume Three.[8] The anthology was released in the early hours the next day.

On 25 March, Jodie Whittaker filmed a video of herself at home inside a wardrobe, in costume and in character as the Doctor, saying she was "self-isolating or, as I like to call it, hiding... from an army of Sontarans"; and claiming the TARDIS must have detected "an upsurge in psychological signals from somewhere in space and time". She proceeded to offer five tips for surviving the Coronavirus (without actually mentioning it). It was mainly targeted towards children who were left feeling anxious about the situation.[9][10]

Also on 25 March, Chris Chibnall's short story Things She Thought While Falling was released on the Doctor Who website. In the introduction, he noted the, "strange times" and hoped that "a few little presents from Doctor Who might help."[11]

On 26 March, Russell T Davies returned briefly to release a previously withheld short story called Doctor Who and the Time War on the Doctor Who website, with Davies noting that it's only getting a release because "a science fiction-shaped virus came along to change our lives".[12] In the same vein he also released a audio short story sequel to the 2005 TV story Rose titled Revenge of the Nestene.[13]

Also on 26 March, Tracy Ann Oberman filmed a video of herself in her home in-character as Yvonne Hartman from Pete's World, claiming authority over humanity as the CEO of Torchwood One, ordering people to stay safe and self-isolate during the current crisis, or else she would send people to their homes, which wouldn't be pleasant.[14]

Footnotes Edit

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