Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Confusing Doctor Who Adventure That Puzzled The Actors

Doctor Who has been wibblying its wobbly at television audiences since 1963. Time has been rewritten with astonishing frequency. In-universe rules are made just slightly less often than they're broken, and even the series protagonist has had more faces than Hannibal Lecter on his cheat day. Amazingly, even with that impressively long-lived pedigree of weirdness, Doctor Who still manages to break new ground to this day — and as 2020 draws to a close, the time-traveling franchise is set to raise the stakes with another impressive first: a literal two-sided story that confuses not one, but two whole Doctors.

This won't be an episode of the TV show, however. The upcoming audio drama Echoes of Extinction, brought to you by long-running Who audio adventure producers Big Finish, is set to release on vinyl in November of 2020. Yes, vinyl. The story of Echoes of Extinction will cap off the company's multi-platform "Time Lord Victorious" storyline — a massive narrative that will stretch across not just audio dramas, but also books, comics, and more — and even more excitingly, it will return 8th and 10th Doctors Paul McGann and David Tennant to the Who-niverse. 

Perhaps the best part, though, is that both of these veteran Who stars seem absolutely flummoxed as to what the hell the whole thing is about.

Doctor Who asks "Doctor Whaaaat?"

First thing's first — why vinyl? Even for an anachronistic alien know-it-all, that seems like a bit much. As it turns out, the posh hipster-adjacent release serves a narrative purpose: one side features the 8th Doctor's half of the narrative, while the other is committed to the 10th's. The two stories were written to be interwoven with one another, and according to Big Finish, the order in which the audience listens to them doesn't matter.

That sort of high-concept, multi-layered narrative tends to confuse people, so maybe it's not surprising that the actors had trouble following it. Paul McGann, according to Radio Times, said this of the story: "I've read this script twice through and I'm still none the wiser. I'm more confused after the second time than I was after the first. It's only while working on it that I've become aware of how it's going to be structured." Regarding the double-sided vinyl format, he added that, "It really appeals to me, the idea that it's in two parts, on two sides of vinyl. I think it's fun for people listening. Part of the excitement is when the different incarnations meet... or nearly meet."

David Tennant, meanwhile, seemed to imply that each actor was only given their chunk of the tale, which would go a long way towards explaining why Echoes of Extinction might be so wonderfully confusing behind the scenes. "The script is fascinating," said Tennant. "I've only got one side of it, but I'm very aware there's more to this story, that there's another Doctor on the other side of the disc. I look forward to getting my LP so I can listen to it all."

The Echoes of Extinction vinyl will release on November 27, 2020.