I spoke to Marc Platt (pictured here with David Richardson (Producer), Russell Floyd (Gerry Lenz), Lisa Bowerman (director) and Nicholas Courtney (legend)) recently about a variety of topics – including his special serial The Three Companions for Big Finish subscribers…
So Marc, tell us about The Three Companions, the 12-part miniseries spread over the monthly Doctor Who plays starting in April.
David (Richardson, Big Finish producer) got in touch with me last September and said that they had this idea to put out a bonus feature with the monthly series, ten 12-minute episodes. Which was going to be a bit of a challenge to keep interesting, I think that was one of my main concerns – a challenge with a cliff-hanger every ten minutes!
I’d done some Blake’s 7 stuff a few years ago which was released as five minute episodes so after that this was a sort of doddle… there are three blocks of four episodes each which was how I broke it down. David wanted a sort of Companion Chronicle but with three companions in it. David wanted someone from each of the early eras but also wanted to use Thomas Brewster, a recent character from the audios. We settled on Polly for the Second Doctor and Jo for the Third Doctor.
Katy Manning and Anneke Wills sounds like it could have been quite a casting coup!
Katy was quite keen, and she was great doing her previous adventure but without Jon decided she’d rather not do it… after we had a big think about it we settled on the Brigadier which required a fair bit of rewriting and threw a whole new dynamic on the thing. Nick Courtney was fantastic as he always is, nailed his lines the first time with all of this experience and everything.
The first four episodes are Polly’s story, the second four are the Brigadier and the final four are Thomas Brewster’s – they’re all telling each other these stories. In Thomas Brewster’s story the other two come together with him and there are links throughout the stories. Obviously Polly’s is a Second Doctor story and the Brigadier’s is a Third Doctor story whereas Thomas Brewster is on his own.
So for fans that dive in and out of the Big Finish range, tell us a bit more about Thomas Brewster.
He’s this artful dodger character that Jonathan Morris created for Haunting of Thomas Brewster and at the end of that Fifth Doctor story he goes off joyriding in the TARDIS and we pick him up again in The Time Reef where the Doctor catches up with him and discovers some of the chaos that’s been caused while he was going around on his own but this story is set before that, and is another earlier episode of his unknown adventures in the TARDIS. He runs into the Brigadier and Polly.
Pictured above: John Pickard (Thomas Brewster), Lisa Bowerman (director), Anneke Wills (Polly), Marc Platt (writer) and David Richardson (producer)
It must have been great with Anneke in the studio – I had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of years ago and she’s mesmeric company.
It was enormous fun to do, Anneke was absolutely splendid… she’s terrific, such fun and terribly concerned about the character. Sometimes you go back to the sixties and think you don’t know much about the character but you look at them and there’s all sorts of little clues to pick up on and you can build the character out of that and I think Anneke wanted her to be quite feisty.
I’ve got Polly as the head of a government office which reflects where she was when we first saw her in The War Machines and she gets in touch with the Brig and off they go telling each other stories and they run into Brewster. So there are three companions and one voice and I’ve got to make two hours of drama out of it!
We also have this linking character who turns up in each of the three stories… is he the same or is he slightly different… he’s played by an actor called Russell Floyd, and it all works beautifully. Other themes develop through the stories as well and you pick up clues and things and hopefully it all comes to an exciting conclusion!
The Three Companions is available on the monthly Doctor Who full cast audios beginning in April with The Magic Mousetrap – find out more at www.bigfinish.com
Many thanks to Marc Platt and David Richardson; photos are by Lisa Bowerman.