Full-cast audio is a term often employed by the marketing department of Big Finish Productions and other audio houses to indicate the most premium audio adventure the company makes. The experience is much like listening to a televised episode.
As the name implies, the narrowest definition suggests a story featuring a distinct actor for most roles.
But the term also indicates a generally higher standard of production. In the case of Doctor Who stories, it typically — but not always — means that the story will feature:
- the original actor who played the Doctor on television
- a companion seen on television, one introduced by Big Finish, or both
- foley work and sound effects
- a full, original score
- the absence of a narrator
- a story that is the length of a televised serial of the 20th century version of Doctor Who or an episode of the 21st century series
They can be contrasted with ranges like The Companion Chronicles, which often have two or three actors playing multiple roles, and a much more limited foley track and score. Stories in these ranges are shorter and typically, but not always, feature a Doctor played by an actor who is no longer alive. Or they might be little more than a dramatic reading by a single actor, as is sometimes the case with the Short Trips series. Because there are fewer cast members, non-full-cast audios almost always require a narrator — frequently necessitating that the story be told in the third person from the perspective of a main character.
Because of these distinctions, full-cast audios are, upon initial release, much more expensive than non-full-cast audios.