AudioVisuals - The Genesis of BigFinish

Before BigFinish was established, many of its founding members were involved in unofficial and unlicenced fan audios distributed on cassettes during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

These were the AudioVisuals - a precursor to BigFinish and a very curious set of adventures from days gone by.

Considering when they were made, and the low-quality recording equipment used, they’ve aged surprisingly well (the audio quality is atrocious, but that’s to be expected).

This is the complete AudioVisuals catalogue from their old website, and you might have spotted some familiar writers… but also some familiar titles. Many of the Briggs stories were adapted into early BigFinish plays - like ‘Sword of Orion’ and ‘The Mutant Phase’.

Some of the plays that got adapted were drastically rewritten, such as ‘Minuet in Hell’, which remains one of the most reviled stories from the early days of BigFInish - for its atrocious cod-American accents, the disgusting way Charley is treat, and shoe-horning in the Lethbridge-Stewart for no reason.

‘Minuet in Hell’ was almost totally rewritten for BigFinish by Gary Russell after a falling out with the original author - Alan W. Lear.

The original AudioVisuals version is DRAMATICALLY different,

Earth, 1762AD

A crucial period for British Imperial Expansion; and for the influential members of the HELL FIRE CLUB Bedlam is where we find The Doctor - not as a visitor - but incarcerate Drugged and bound, the Doctor is so panic stricken that even his own identity is in question Gideon Spoonbill will provide an answer Meanwhile, back at MEDMENHAM ABBEY Count Ogolien prepares for the ultimate materialisation - Almighty Lucifer… the Devil himself

That’s a description from the old AudioVisuals site itself.

I understand that AudioVisuals were unliceneced and unofficial - Eric Saward reportedly tried on several occasions to get them shut down - but they’re also a pivotal part of BigFinish history.

It’s for that reason I think it might be a good idea for @shauny to add said stories to TARDIS Guide, even if they are something of an antiquated curio.

Good luck to anyone that tries to find the old tapes on eBay, but all the stories in question were actually uploaded to YouTube back in 2015, and are well worth a listen if you’re bored.

The videos don’t contain the story titles, those are in the descriptions. So if you’re looking for the drastically different ‘Minuet in Hell’, that is Audio Visuals 11

Seriously, it’s a strange Doctor Who rabbit hole, but a really interesting one.


Wow! I didn’t know about these at all, thank you for sharing!


I’ve had these sitting in my google drive for years and only managed about 10 minutes of the Space Wail.

They definitely should end up on the guide eventually.


Yeah, ‘The Space Wail’ isn’t the greatest.

In all fairness, these were very much fan audios, but there are some amazing stories in there.

Like I stand by the original version of ‘Minuet in Hell’, which is leaps and bounds ahead of the Eighth Doctor version.

No problem! Another fun fact, one of the old AudioVisuals stories actually got a complete BigFinish sequel - which seems like a weird decision.

1990s ‘Endurance’, one of the more well-liked AudioVisuals plays recieved a BigFinish sequel in the form of 2007s ‘Frozen Time’.


Fascinating - I found that story absolutely deadly boring so it would definitely be interesting to go back and listen to the original, as it were


Personally, I actually prefer the original.

Considering this year is supposed to be the 25th Anniversary of BigFinish, I would’ve loved them to remake these old AudioVisuals stories - aside from the ones already there.

Give them all the Redux treatment, but give them to new Doctors and companions.

Like give ‘Endurance’ to the Fifth Doctor and Turlough or something like that.

To me it would be a great idea, considering BigFinish wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the AV plays.


That would have been a really lovely way of celebrating the anniversary, actually, it could have been really interesting to see what they would do with old stories today


I thought that Frozen Time changed the alien species but I may be misremembering.


It’s times like this that having a copy of yt-dlp comes in handly…


They do. The expedition in ‘Frozen Time’ is ran by a descendent of the Prof from ‘Endurance’.

He wanted to find Silurians like his relative, but accidentally uncovered Ice Warriors instead.


These can get added to the guide for sure.

Does anyone want to add them to the spreadsheet for me? :innocent:

(I’m back working on the site tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, and gonna try to add in all the spreadsheets I have so far!)