David Bradley to star as the First Doctor in new Doctor Who audio series

As announced this morning by Big Finish, David Bradley will be starring in a new series of audio box sets called ‘The First Doctor Adventures’!

We at Doctor Who Watch have been excited for the Christmas special for months now. Not just for Peter Capaldi’s final story, but also for the appearance of David Bradley as the First Doctor. He had previously portrayed William Hartnell in documentary drama An Adventure in Space and Time. The idea of him playing the First Doctor on Doctor Who itself was already hugely exciting. Especially as it looked like his only chance to play the role.

However, this morning, Big Finish announced that this would be far from the case. David Bradley will once again portray the First Doctor, in a brand-new audio series, The First Doctor Adventures.

He also won’t be the only cast member from An Adventure in Space and Time, either. He will be joined by Jamie Glover as Ian, Jemma Powell as Barbara, and Claudia Grant as Susan. In Adventure, they all portrayed the original actors on the show. This time, we’ll be getting a better idea of how their portrayals of classic companions will be.

Reinventing a classic era

Executive producer Nicholas Briggs explained what we can expect from the series:

What’s fascinating about the cast and their performances is that they’re not impersonating William Hartnell and his TARDIS crew. They’re playing those parts as written in the scripts. No one can replace the brilliance of those original performances. What we’re presenting here is a kind of reinvention of that era, completely in the spirit of the original. They are new but entirely faithful interpretations of these characters.

How well this works will definitely be interesting to discover. Especially as, for this series, none of the original actors for the main characters are reprising their roles. I think that has to be a first for Big Finish.

They have re-cast particular roles before. For the past couple of years, Tim Treloar has been portraying Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, and quite effectively, I thought. But usually, an original actor has been there to portray a companion, so the recast has been easier to accept, in some ways.

While the whole cast of The First Doctor Adventures were in An Adventure in Space and Time, this still seems like quite a risky move for Big Finish. I’m excited to hear how the cast will handle portraying such a classic team.

Old enemy, new face

There’s one other reason why I’m excited about this announcement, however. Big Finish have cast another new actor for an established role, and it’s quite a big one. James Dreyfus will be appearing in the first volume as the first incarnation of the Master.

I might actually be more excited about this than about David Bradley’s casting, if I’m honest. Since the Master’s first appearance in Third Doctor story Terror of the Autons, it was already established that they had been enemies for a long time. In fact, Roger Delgado wasn’t even portraying the first incarnation, at least chronologically.

And I have always been eager for Big Finish to explore some of their history. Not too much, but I always wanted to hear a First Doctor story with the Master. And it looks like we’re finally getting just that. Again, it’s a really risky move to make. Like everything else about this upcoming series, I’m hoping both the writing and the performance can live up to such a bold choice.

Volume 1 of The First Doctor Adventures will be released in January, with a second volume to follow in July.

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