Promo art for Dark Gallifrey. Copyright Big Finish 2024.
Promo art for Dark Gallifrey. Copyright Big Finish, 2024.

Starring: Samuel West, Mina Anwar, Rachel Atkins, Justin Avoth, Andrew French, Janet Henfrey, Lara Lemon, Hywel Morgan
Directed by: Samuel Clemons
Written by: Tim Foley
Theme Music by: Rob Harvey
Cover Art by: Caroline Tankersley
You can find a list of everyone who worked on this project here.

Since 1999, Big Finish Productions have been creating officially licensed audio dramas from the BBC for Doctor Who and has extensively filled out the wider lore of the Whoniverse with dramas focused on not just the Doctor, but other characters and concepts from the show.

In 2004 they launched Gallifrey, a still ongoing series centered around the Time Lords of the Doctor’s home planet and the political machinations they get up to; as well as using previous companions Romana (now Lady President) and Leela as the anchors for fans of the show. This series is more about the good guys and how they stop evildoers from taking over the universe. Now, on its 20th anniversary – and in celebration of Big Finish’s 25th anniversary – a sister series has launched called Dark Gallifrey that promises to unleash the evil Time Lords and let them have some fun in the spotlight.

Center is Gilda of the Sisterhood of Karn. To her right is the mysterious "Shimmering Man" and to her left is Captain Argento. Behind Argento is Morbius.
Cover art for Dark Gallifrey: Morbius – Part One by Caroline Tankersley. Copyright Big Finish, 2024.

Dark Gallifrey: Morbius is a three-part adventure set within the confines of an old Gallifreyan time ship called the Proteus (that bares more of a resemblance to a pirate ship on Earth). The Gallifreyan Civil War has recently ended on the planet of Karn (this planet was the setting for the 50th Anniversary short The Night of the Doctor), and the last vestiges of Gallifreyan soldiers are now leaving with prisoners of war.

Hiding amongst these prisoners however is Morbius, an infamous Time Lord who sparked the Civil War and recently died in battle. How is he still alive and how does he plan to continue his conquest of domination are among the chief questions in Part One of this swashbuckling adventure.

A few of the main players are Gilda (Lara Lemon), a sister of the Sisterhood of Karn who’s job is to administer a life-saving elixir to the captain of the Proteus, Argento (Rachel Atkins) who’s been recently regenerated and seems to be going through some post-regeneration sickness. Mr. Middlewitch (Hywel Morgan), the first mate who’s trying to keep a desperate crew from breaking out into mutiny after several big events within the story, and Morbius who waits to strike and take over the ship at first chance.

This is an incredibly solid first premiere outing for the launch of a new series. I’m a big fan of Time Lord lore as is so this was right up my alley to check out, I also recently started the original Gallifrey series and have been loving it. I’m not really familiar with the character of Morbius so this is my first time encountering him, but so far he’s making for a fun and ruthless villain and I’m excited to see where his story goes.

There’s several intriguing mysteries throughout this story, very of few of which I want to give away, but they involve a “Shimmering Man” (Justin Avoth), shrinking dimensions, and an island floating within the Time Vortex that acts as the cliffhanger for this part. I also really like how the Vortex is used in this story. Generally when we see it onscreen it’s just the TARDIS flying through it like a tunnel, however here its’ treated more like a sea of abstract energy that represents time and space and I love that.

Cover for Dark Gallifrey: Morbius - Part Two by Caroline Tankersley. Copyright Big Finish, 2024.
Cover for Dark Gallifrey: Morbius – Part Two by Caroline Tankersley. Copyright Big Finish, 2024.

I was honestly very surprised to realize this was going to be sort of a seafaring adventure in a way I don’t know if we’ve ever seen tied to the likes of the Time Lords who generally prefer to use their TARDIS’s to get around. It’s different and interesting, however, and I think was a smart creative choice.

I also love the characters of Gilda, Middlewitch, and Argento who play off one another nicely. Gilda is new to all this, but has a kind soul. Whereas both Argento and Middlewitch are seasoned vets; Argento is going through the strain of regeneration sickness or something related which creates for a lot of the tension in the story, and Middlewitch is simply trying to be as civil as possible and keep everything from blowing up.

Where I think the story falters currently is with how the Morbius side of the story is being handled so far. As is with the nature of the character’s imposed limits at the moment he’s definitely a background character with a looming shadow more than anything, but he does have followers on the ship who I would like to learn more about, as well the subplot regarding a mass conversion of followers kind of just happens off screen and it would’ve been a good way to get to know more of the crew. This is primarily due to the limitations of cast size and the nature of audio storytelling, however, so I don’t dock it that much.

Cover for Dark Gallifrey: Morbius - Part Three by Caroline Tankersley. Copyright Big Finish, 2024.
Cover for Dark Gallifrey: Morbius – Part Three by Caroline Tankersley. Copyright Big Finish, 2024.

Dark Gallifrey: Morbius – Part One is a strong and solid first chapter for this ongoing anthology and I look forward to following it and seeing where these adventures take us.

Dark Gallifrey is a monthly audio drama and on Big Finish’s website they already have listings going out as far as September 2027 so we’re in this for the long haul. After Morbius the next confirmed evil Time Lord is the War Master.

Here, also, is a sneak peek at part two…

Part One is already available on Big Finish’s website, and parts two and three are open for pre-order. It’s Morbin’ Time!

Big Finish has also recently launched their podcast Into the TARDIS which sees weekly releases of older audio dramas. It’s available wherever podcasts are broadcast. Check it out!

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