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Audio - LIVE 34
(James Parsons & Andrew Stirling-Brown)

 Joining "Thicker Than Water" in September was "LIVE 34". Written by James Parsons and Andrew Stirling-Brown "LIVE 34" is a Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex story. It has been directed by Gary Russell and was recorded 22nd and 24th June 2005.

Joining Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier are: Ann Bryson, Andrew Collins, Joy Elias-Rilwan, William Hoyland, Zehra Naqvi and Duncan Wiseby.

 Every time Big Finish tries something new it's always a gamble. Several experimental audio dramas that have already been produced: the novel "Flip-Flop" where it did not matter which disc you listened to first, and the operatic "Doctor Who and the Pirates" which had The Doctor singing and Billie Oddie, a real life Goodie, playing a baddie.

"LIVE 34" is the next in line in this category of Doctor Who stories and is presented without the traditional Doctor Who Theme music. Instead all the action is being brought to the listener via a 24 hour radio news station presented by real-life radio presenter Andrew Collins.

Seventh Doctor
Seventh Doctor

 Drew Shahan broadcasts to an earth colony known as Colony 34. His show, LIVE 34, is a rolling news channel whose aim is to cover all events on Colony 34 as they happen. It’s "LIVE 34 ­ news on the hour every hour ­ LIVE 34 ­ broadcasting to Colony 34 all day every day ­ LIVE 34 ­ constantly updated every minute of every hour ­ LIVE 34 ­ sport, weather, business, local news, inter-planetary affairs ­ LIVE 34 ­ live, independent, accurate, comprehensive ­ LIVE 34 ­ all news, all day, every day ­ LIVE 34.".

You, the listener, first tune in on the 9th month, 1st day, 25th hour just when reports are coming in of an explosion at the government planning offices in district F of First City and when the opposition party, the FDP, are calling for local elections which have been postponed for 5 years.

 Could it be too much of a coincident that these two events are connected? But who is trying to undermine who?

 With more updates if the recent explosion coming in, including the report that the planning office at the time of the explosion was not empty, LIVE 34 were planning to have an interview with a representative of the FDP, Resident Doctor, but over zealous security checks prevent this from taking place in the studio but has to be conducted over the phone. Resident Doctor is convinced that there is more to these explosions than meets the eye and that as there have been no deaths that it is a propaganda move against the less than democratic government or maybe to discredit the FDP. However, while being interviewed another explosion takes place. This time at a factory, close to where Resident Doctor is and this time it seems that there are casualties.

 Meanwhile The President is about to begin his address where he deplores the recent terrorist attacks and the actions of the FDP to force an election but his speech does not ring true as he deplores the number of casualties before anyone has actually counted the bodies.

 Could this utopia be not quite what it seems? Could there be a sinister government conducting an evil plot which is hidden from the public eyes? And could it be that LIVE 34 be under the thumb of the government and is being used to spread propaganda?



 You, the listener, next tune in on the 9th month, 6th day, 24th hour 50 when it is announced that the latest fuel crisis is over and that all incendiary devises that had been found at two power stations, that it was believed was the cause of power failures, had been defused. The government security forces blame the FDP while it is up to the Resident Doctor to state the case for the FDP and to try and prevent the government from gaining the upper-hand and making the populace turn against the opposition.

 With things seeming to be a lot calmer LIVE 34 broadcasts two other startling events - the meeting of the Rebel Queen, who it is believed is behind all the political unrest and bombings, and the discovery by an undercover medic and LIVE 34 presenter Charlotte Singh of a mass grave of bodies.

 How come Ace has become known as the Rebel Queen and why has Hex been secretly tasked to be the undercover medic? It seems that the TARDIS crew are deep in the midst of the action, where the populace is under the heel of this dictatorial regime that holds power through corrupting a pre-existing democracy and controlling the flow of information via LIVE 34, and our heroes it seems are working to overthrow it.

 With the discovery of the mass grave, just outside a Second City’s main hospital, live on the air, on the 9th month, 10th day, 21st hour, LIVE 34's broadcast is interrupted by armed soldiers and then the government pulls the plug on "LIVE 34" as a whole proving that the government is in fact in full control of what is being broadcasted to the colony. But Hex and Charlotte Singh discover something even more interesting in Second City’s main hospital - something that the government will do anything to prevent being broadcast.

As events spiral out of control - with more curfews, deaths, explosions, assassination attempts and then the announcement of the capture of the Rebel Queen - The Resident Doctor gets extremely angry at the atrocities that have been committed especially when it is revealed that the reason behind all the disappearances of people outside the cities is because they are being killed off and end up being collected, along with the other refuse, and used as fuel to supplement the supplies the colony has run out of.

 You, the listener, finally return to LIVE 34 on the 9th month, 16th day, 5th hour when the live coverage of the election results and are announced and, because of the Resident Doctor's death in a transporter accident four days earlier, it is announced Premier Jaeger has won in a landslide result. At the same time the captured Ace, the Rebel Queen, is forced to confess her sins and is paraded in front of the crowds before being sentenced to death here and now.

 But then the Resident Doctor turns up at Premier Jaeger’s victory parade and, with the help of Ace, exposes the truth that Premier Jaeger isn't the real Premier at all but a puppet double and so the election is declared non-and-void causing much confusion with the crowds and broadcasters alike - except for presenter Charlotte Singh who, along with Hex, discovered earlier when investigating a local hospital where he found the just-barely-alive real Jaeger.

But will the TARDIS crew be able to leave Colony 34 now that the truth has been exposed and the corrupt government has been removed from office? With the population of Colony 34 now under the temporary leadership of Charlotte Singh will she be able to restore calm? But more importantly what will the hostile crowds do with the impostor that has been ruling over them for so long?

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  • Featuring the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex.
  • Serial Number: 7WB
  • Number of Episodes: 4
  • Cover Length: 100 minutes
  • Episode Lengths: 1 = 26'10", 2 = 29'07", 3 = 23'40", 4 = 27'57"
  • Total Story Length: 106'54"
  • This story is set after "Survival", and follows "Dreamtime".
  • Cover Illustration: Lee Binding
  • Recorded: 22nd and 24th June 2005
  • Recording Location: The Moat Studios
  • Released: September 2005
  • ISBN: 1-84435-099-1

On the Back Cover:

 "You're listening to LIVE 34."

 "LIVE 34 ¬ news on the hour every hour ¬ LIVE 34 ¬ broadcasting to Colony 34 all day every day ¬ LIVE 34 ¬ constantly updated every minute of every hour ¬ LIVE 34 ¬ sport, weather, business, local news, inter-planetary affairs ¬ LIVE 34 ¬ live, independent, accurate, comprehensive ¬ LIVE 34 ¬ all news, all day, every day ¬ LIVE 34."

 "Reports are coming in of an explosion."

 "On the line now is the leader of the FDP."

 "The President is about to begin his address."

 "We can see bodies in the wreckage."


On the Inside Cover:

 LIVE 34 IS AN EXPERIMENT. We knew that our first pitch to Big Finish, as part of its most recent open-submissions window, had somehow to stand out from all the others. We decided to do something radical.

 LIVE 34 is not, in fact, a Doctor Who story at all. Instead it presents four programmes taken from a rolling radio news service on an unnamed colony world sometime in the distant future, It puts the listener inside the drama - makes them into one of the colonists, tuning in night after night to keep abreast of the latest developments.

 It has meant that writing the play has been more than something of a challenge - so much of the detail which you can convey in a normal dramatic narrative has had to be left out. For example, the colony world remains unnamed: why would anyone bother to tell you the name of the planet you are living on? Twenty¬-four-hour news channels here don’t feel the need to keep reminding us that we live on Earth. You have to fill in quite a few of the blanks for yourself.

 So, please, sit back, relax and, hopefully, enjoy being experimented on.

James Parsons and Andrew Stirling-Brown,
June 2005

 James Parsons lives in Birmingham. He’s an actor, writer, designer and consumer of a vast number of National Trust cream teas. He wishes to thank his incredibly supportive parents, who managed not to scream in horror when he announced that he was turning professional. The world needs more professional cream tea eaters, you know.

 Andrew Stirling-Brown lines in deepest, darkest, rural Herefordshire. He is a writer of prose and songs and a very occasional actor, but mostly he makes and restores armour. He wishes to thank his wife, children, family and friends for love, support, lifts and loans of CDs. His parents hope he will turn professional at something.


Production Notes:

It was assistant producer Ian Farrington who first spotted LIVE 34 amongst the 650 or so fresh ideas sent in to the Big Finish offices during the summer of 2003. He pointed it out to producer Graham Russell, observing that, unlike many of the pitches that were being submitted, this was an original and fresh idea that used the medium of audio in an interesting way.

 James Parsons and Andrew Stirling-Brown were then asked to resubmit their pitch, this time with the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex in the frame (they’d pitched it with Bernice Summerfield as the third companion), although still with a ‘we’re making no promises’ caveat from Big Finish. Their revised outline was liked so much that, once it had been okayed by the BBC, the writers were asked to go ahead with the script. It was quite late on that the decision was made to completely divorce the play from the traditional Doctor Who audio world - no theme music, no episode breaks, no reprises; just an exciting new approach that treated the story as if it really were live radio broadcasts, telling the story of Colony 34’s terrible problems.

Experimental audio plays are always good fun, but should never be the norm. LIVE 34, like plays such as Creatures of Beauty, Flip-Flop and Doctor Who and the Pirates, will hopefully sit in the pantheon of ‘quirky’ Big Finish releases...


Who's Who?

The Seventh Doctor

First television appearance: "Time and the Rani"
First chronological Big Finish audio appearance: "Bang-Bang-A-Boom!"

 He has been exploring the universe for hundreds of years. He fights injustice. He defeats evil. He helps people. The Doctor and Ace have had many adventures now - and they’ve recently been joined by Hex, a youthful former nurse from the twenty-first century. In this regeneration, The Doctor can be impish, devious even, but also greatly compassionate; whimsy and melancholy do battle inside this persona, but his friends know they can always rely on him...


First television appearance: "Dragonfire"
First chronological Big Finish audio appearance: "The Fearmonger"

 Dorothy McShane, who likes to be known as Ace, was a schoolgirl living in Perivale, west London: when she was transported far across time and space to the Iceworld colony by a time storm. Here, she met The Doctor and since then the pair have travelled the universe together, fighting evils and righting wrongs. Over time, a close bond developed between the two, and Ace has recently begun developing skills of leadership, cunning and guile to equal that of her mentor himself...


First chronological Big Finish audio appearance: "The Harvest"

 Thomas Hector Schofield discovered at quite an early age that the name ‘Hector’ wasn’t exactly designed to give him the easiest of times at a Merseyside school, so he began referring to himself as ‘Hex’. Moving down from to London to complete his medical training, Hex began working as a staff nurse at St Gart’s Hospital in Shoreditch. There he encountered Ace and The Doctor, helped them fight off a Cyber incursion and ended up aboard the TARDIS. Since joining them, Hex has seen enough monsters, hostile situations and aliens to last most people a lifetime. But clearly not him...

Full Cast List:

The Doctor Sylvester McCoy
Ace Sophie Aldred
Hex Philip Olivier
Gina Grewal Ann Bryson
Drew Shahan Andrew Collins
Lula Joy Elias-Rilwan
Premier Jaeger William Hoyland
Charlotte Singh Zehra Naqvi
Ryan Wareing Duncan Wiseby

The Production Team:

Writers James Parsons and
Andrew Stirling-Brown
Director Gary Russell
Sound/Music David Darlington
Theme Music David Darlington
Producers Gary Russell and
Jason Haigh-Ellery
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