29 January 2016

Kroagnon Awards 2016: Day Five - Big Finish

Welcome to the Kroagnon Awards 2016! All this week, we've been announcing all our favourite things of 2015, ranging from the broad to the niche. As well as being voted on by editors Dave, Matt and Tom, several categories have been decided by you, our readers, and industry experts.

2015 saw the release of the ninth and tenth series of Jago & Litefoot, the extremely popular Doctor Who spin-off which sees Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter resuming parts they first played in 1977's The Talons of Weng-Chiang. The first of last year's boxsets saw the investigators of infernal incidents on a cruise while the second set up events that will continue in series eleven and twelve, due out this year. This is one of Big Finish's most-loved ranges, and 2015 was a bumper year, even by its own standards, making a worthy winner of our Best Series award. We were also big fans of Dark Shadows' output last year.

Our single Best Story of 2015 is Doctor Who: Damaged Goods, which was adapted by Jonathan Morris from Russell T Davies' 1996 novel of the same name. This was a perfect example of casting, writing and post-production coming together to create a flawless piece of audio drama. Damaged Goods is, by turns, funny, scary and intriguing - often all at once. Above all, it's utterly captivating and one of the finest things Big Finish have ever released. Hooray indeed.

The Doctor Who main range has long been a popular one with customers, and 2015 was as busy a year as any. Our favourite of the thirteen offerings was The Entropy Plague, written by Jonathan Morris, which saw Nyssa leave the TARDIS as she was sealed in E-Space. Also nominated were We Are the Daleks (also by Morris) and The Secret History (written by Eddie Robson). 

Paul McGann is named our Best Lead Actor of 2015 for his role as the Eighth Doctor. Last year saw the Dark Eyes arc, which had been running since 2012, conclude and the first of four Doom Coalition boxsets released. McGann is never less than excellent, constantly bringing fresh energy and new qualities to a part he's been playing twenty years - and very regularly since 2000. Also nominated was Alexander Vlahos who plays the title character in The Confessions of Dorian Gray.

Graeme Garden once again reprised his role as interfering Time Lord The Monk in Doctor Who story The Secret History last spring, to a rapturous reception. He first took on the role opposite Paul McGann in 2010 but fitted perfectly into this Eddie Robson-penned Peter Davison story. Maureen O'Brien and Peter Purves also starred in a tale which saw the Monk meddling in the Doctor's personal timeline to take his place. Garden brought his usual air of calm superiority, coupled with excellent comic timing, earning the accolade of Best Supporting Actor.

Our Best Writer of 2015 is Jonathan Morris. It's hard to fault Jonny as a writer, especially when he writes so many stories and manages to maintain such a high standard. Last year alone, products released that he wrote include the finale to Vienna (a spin-off which he created), The Entropy Plague, an adaptation of Russell T Davies' Damaged Goods, two episodes of Jago & Litefoot, The Cloisters of Terror, and an episode of Survivors. Hats off to Jonny as we look forward to much more from him over the coming months. Also nominated was David Llewellyn, who had a brilliant 2015 with Big Finish.

Bloodlust - a Dark Shadows special - was one of the best-received series of last year (see below). With countless actors involved, recording and co-ordinating the entire project was no mean feat and so it's only right that David Darlington and Ursula Burton be named our Best Directors of 2015. Even leaving logistics aside, Bloodlust was a masterpiece of direction and the end product is a great credit to all those involved. This autumn's Bloodline looks to be just as complicated and we wish the pair the best of luck! Scott Handcock was also nominated for his efforts across several ranges.

Howard Carter contributed to numerous series and stories last year but it's for Damaged Goods that he wins Best Sound and Music of 2015. His talents perfectly matched this electric story, and his post-production work really brought it to life. One of our particular favourites was his new theme tune, which we hope will be used again with the release of Original Sin later this year.

Lee Binding has long been admired as an artist by this site, so we were glad to see him contribute all the cover artwork for Big Finish's new Torchwood range. The images were all intricate, strong and visually appealing but none more so than that of Fall to Earth, the series' second story. The use of lighting and composition in Binding's work is unparalleled, making this award an easy decision. Also nominated was anything by Tom Webster (although that doesn't narrow it down much).

The Best Value product Big Finish released last year was, in our opinion, You Are the Doctor and Other Stories. All four of these half-hour adventures for the Seventh Doctor and Ace were very well received by listeners, and given that they're available to download for just £12.99 (or on CD for £14.99) - which also includes bonus behind the scenes material - makes this a very good value purchase. Both of the novel adaptations boxsets also featured high on our shortlist.

As already mentioned, Bloodlust was an immediate hit with Big Finish's audience. Our awards reflect that as you lot voted it your favourite new Big Finish range of 2015. The twice-weekly format was so popular that 2016's Bloodline looks set to replicate it. Judging by the talent behind the series, no doubt its popularity will also be replicated - look out for a large Dark Shadows presence in next January's awards.

Although it's already been released, this category was decided before 2015 was out. The Prisoner has been one of Big Finish's most hotly-anticipated series of recent years, and has already lived up to the considerable hype. We're also looking forward to the fifth and final series of The Confessions of Dorian Gray.

That's it for this year's awards! Thank you to everyone who's contributed and helped make them happen - we've certainly enjoyed ourselves. If you have anything to say about any of our choices, leave a comment on one of our posts, or if you'd like to write for the site you can email us here.

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