January 2021 marks 50 years since the Doctor’s best frenemy made his debut TV appearance in Terror of the Autons. To celebrate, Big Finish will release Doctor Who: Masterful – an epic eight-disc limited edition box set featuring as many Masters as they could muster.
Including the Big Finish debut of John Simm as the Master!
There’s a lot to unpack here so let’s start off by listing the confirmed stars:
- John Simm
- Derek Jacobi
- Michelle Gomez
- Alex MacQueen
- Geoffrey Beevers
- Eric Roberts
- Mark Gatiss
- Milo Parker
James Goss has written this bumper release with Ken Bentley directing and Matt Fitton as script editor.
It was all Jason Haigh-Ellery’s idea. ‘We should do a special for the 50th anniversary of the Master in 2021,’ he said, and I leapt at the chance to produce it. James Goss was the perfect choice as writer – we knew he’d offer something as entertaining as it was dark, as imaginative as it was thrilling -and he hasn’t let us down!David Richardson, Producer
Doctor Who: Masterful is available to pre-order now from the Big Finish website. Only 3000 copies of the physical CD box set will be release, priced at £44.99. The download will be available for £39.99.
That’s the housekeeping out the way, let’s dig into what this might mean for the Master. Eight discs suggests six stories with two behind-the-scenes documentaries (following the example of The Legacy of Time). Which means there’s potential for a lot of crossover between the incarnations.
I’ve always hoped that Big Finish would be able to get John Simm eventually. For me, he’s the definitive Master for the new series so I’m chuffed that he’s back. Simm’s TV return in 2017 opened up a new era of this incarnation that I hope is being explored in the coming story.
It’s a real honour to play this character: the nemesis of the Doctor. He’s everything the Doctor is but he’s evil. And it’s been great recording with Big Finish. You don’t get bored, it’s fantastic. It’s fun. It went really quickly. And I got to work with Derek Jacobi.John Simm
Given how unexpected it was that Jacobi would return as the Master in any form, the fact that he’s become so prolific in the part never ceases to amaze me. With his wonderful four-volume series ending this month and guest appearances in other ranges, I was worried that Jacobi would choose this time to retire from the role. This gives me hope that the War Master will continue to menace the Big Finish studios for a long time to come.
The latest Master to grace our TV screens, Michelle Gomez’s “Missy” incarnation became a fan-favourite character of the Twelfth Doctor era. She was last seen getting shot in the back by her past self (Simm) so how and if this set chooses to pre-empt that will be interesting. Like Jacobi, Gomez stars in her own Master series and has made guest apperances elsewhere. Maybe this release will tease to more solo adventures to come for Missy.
The guv’nor when it comes to the Master. Beevers played the role on TV and has been the most prolific Master on audio. The set would be incomplete if Beevers didn’t show up. What else is there to say?
Hello, you! The long-awaited return that will please a lot of Big Finish fans, MacQueen played a version of the Master exclusive to audio. He first appeared in UNIT: Dominion posing as the Doctor. Once he was outed, he faced the Eighth Doctor in the Dark Eyes saga and once teamed up with the Beevers incarnation. MacQueen’s return after an absence of (at time of release) five years is sure to be one of the many reasons to celebrate this series.
Gatiss played an alternate-universe incarnation of the Master in 2003 for the Unbound range opposite David Warner’s Doctor. While they both reprised their roles in subsequent adventures set in the Unbound universe, it wasn’t expected they’d ever appear in the main continutity. That is until Warner’s Doctor crossed in the New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield series. It was only when it was announced that Gatiss would play his Master opposite Jacobi in the fourth volume of The War Master did we get confirmation that the Master crossed over too. How this version, with an altogether different history, fits in with his main universe counterpart(s) should be fascinating.
Fans were gobsmakced when, in May 2018, it was announced that Eric Roberts would reprise the Master in the fifth series of The Diary of River Song and later for the finale of Ravenous. The Hollywood actor was presumed to be too busy and/or expensive to take on the Master more than a handful of times. But he’s found a way regardless. If, as I expect, each story focuses on a different Master in this set then this might be the first time Roberts takes centre stage in a story all his own.
This is an unexpected one. The 17 year old actor has never appeared in Doctor Who on TV or audio. His closest association to the series is appearing in the 2015 film Mr Holmes starring a number of Who alum. But he’s appearing in the release and has been credited as The Master.
I think there are two possibilities, either he’s playing the young Master, played by the late William Hughes, whose initiation into the Time Lord Academy was shown in The Sound of Drums. Or he’s playing the incarnation of the Master from the comics who appeared as a small child. This Master teamed up with the War Doctor during the Time War before regenerating into the Jacobi version. Adapting comic characters into audio is rare but not unheard of. Parker may even be playing a brand new incarnation of the Master.
Will you be getting Doctor Who: Masterful when it comes out? What do you want to hear from this series? Let us know in the comments below.