My Top 10 Doctor Who Stories of 2021

It’s time to rank my favourite ten Doctor Who stories released this year. We actually got another full-ish series on TV and although its counted as one story titled “Flux” I decided to still break it up into its individual episodes… not that it helped it much, to be frank. Still, with once again no end of Big Finish audio dramas to listen to, let’s see what made the Top 10!

The Stranded sub-series has been very hit-and-miss with me. It focuses a lot more strongly on sentiment and “realistic” drama than what I expect and like from Doctor Who, but I’ll admit the very human story told at the centre of “UNIT Dating” was very entertaining, and indeed heart-warming. Enough that it slipped itself in at Number 10! (My review of UNIT Dating can be found by clicking HERE)

The Tribulations of Thadeus Nook took me by surprise. The title made it sound like a boring and over-played Victorian era story but instead it was actually a very fun and clever time travel story involving two sets of time travellers, two time machines and an evil warlord at the centre. It’s very on-the-nose with a lot of its characters but they’re played so well and the tone is kept so consistent that it just worked. A good fun story. (My review of The Tribulations of Thadeus Nook can be found by clicking HERE)

The launch of the “War Doctor Begins” set of stories was probably my most pleasant surprise of 2021 Big Finish. They found a great actor to play a young John Hurt and dropped a first boxset that had two standout stories in it. “The Shadow Squad” gave us a bunch of really fun time travel ideas and issues, which is something surprisingly rare in Time War-set stories. The idea of a group of Time Lord “Commandos” who were dropped off in a base as infants and then never interacted with for countless years to make sure they don’t make any ripples in time and therefore couldn’t be tracked was a really fun concept. (My review of The Shadow Squad can be found by clicking HERE)

Yes, here we have the one, single example of Flux on this list. Village of Angels was relatively free of the overall arc and told a really fun “village under siege” story with the Weeping Angels, who are used here extremely effectively. It even had a real banger of a cliffhanger, even if … well, you know… Flux itself ended on a rather sour note. (My review of Flux: Village of Angels can be found by clicking HERE)

The Dalek Universe series was the most consistent through out the year. It saw the Tenth Doctor get popped back down his own time stream to pre-Time War Who and meet some old friends and enemies. This two-part opener not only took great pleasure in introducing the concept it also gave David Tennant lots to play around with, including a new incarnation of a certain past character, which was an excellent surprise. (My review of Buying Time / The Wrong Woman can be found by clicking HERE)

As already mentioned the first War Doctor Begins set had two standout stories, and this was the bigger of the two. Technically the first War Doctor story fullstop, taking place just seconds after the Eighth Doctor’s regeneration, “Light the Flame” does a great job of showing this new incarnation of The Doctor struggling with the decision he’s made and wondering if he has it in him or not. The sentence “I can’t hear my other selves in my head any more… I don’t know if that’s because they’re ashamed of me, or afraid of me” still makes me break out in a smile. Great stuff. (My review of Light the Flame can be found by clicking HERE)

2021 saw Christopher Eccleston finally return to the role of The Doctor for Big Finish, and with it an opening boxset that was a bit crap. BUT THEN two more boxsets with far more entertaining stand-alone stories, with “Monsters in Metropolis” being the big one. The Doctor visits the set of Metropolis and finds a Cyberman in place of the classic woman in makeup, leading to not only a really fun run-around but a really great look at the German people in between the wars. Eccleston has been brilliant in all the sets so far, so let’s hope he has more stories like this coming up next year! (My review of Monsters in Metropolis can be found by clicking HERE)

Funnily enough “The Lost Resort” should’ve been released last year and most likely would’ve entered THAT top 10 instead, but there you go. It’s a great story that shows The Doctor finally coming to terms with the death of Adric while also giving his three companions plenty to do with a great central mystery to solve. Great stuff through all four parts, which is a rare thing. (My review of The Lost Resort can be found by clicking HERE)

From “The Lost Resort” to just “The Lost”. This entry into the already mentioned Dalek Universe series was a proper standout. It places The Doctor and Anya Kingdom in a pocket universe with a bodiless entity simply named The Lost who wishes to manipulate one of the two into allowing his essence to enter their body so it can finally escape. While it does this we’re treated so some really fantastic dialogue and examinations of the two characters that’s so great I love the story despite it having a bit of a flat ending… (My review of The Lost can be found by clicking HERE)

Big Finish celebrated 50 years of The Master by getting all the living actors who have played the part to meet up in a big, epic adventure. Given this meant the likes of John Simm and Derek Jacobi alongside the always great Alex Macqueen version of The Master or even Eric Roberts campy American one it could’ve been a disaster but instead it was a really fun look at the character, from praising Roger Delgado’s great original performance to boiling down the essence of the character in a very crazy and literal way. For the fourth time in five Top 10s, The Master has stolen the Number 1 spot! (My review of Masterful can be read by clicking HERE)

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