Judoon Captain and The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker)
Judoon Captain, The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) – (C) BBC / BBC Studios – Photographer: James Pardon

Dr. Who premiered November 32, 1963 (the day President John F. Kennedy died), which makes it the world’s longest running science fiction shows, and one of the world’s longest running television shows of any kind. It’s no wonder, then, that thousands of fan writers have come up with their own stories involving The Doctor as fan fiction. Sometimes fan writers become professional ones, though. For each one of these writers comes a beginning, often in the form of a remarkable opportunity – which leads us to Big Finish Productions’ writing contest.

Big Finish Productions has announced a contest to write a Dr. Who short story. The winner will have his or her story recorded and released as an audiobook.

The Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trips Opportunity honours the memory of the cheerful, much-loved person at the heart of the Big Finish production office, who passed away suddenly on 8 May 2014. 

Now in its fifth year, the competition is open again from today until the end of June. The full list of terms & conditions can be found here on the website, and should be read by anyone planning to send in a new story submission over the coming weeks.  

Here’s a message from Nicholas Briggs, Big Finish’s creative director:

“It’s that wonderful time of year again when we remember our great friend and colleague, Paul Spragg

“Although it’s always painful to remember the loss, it’s a great consolation to recall his incredible positivity, sense of fun and, to honour the way in which he was always keen to encourage new talent.  

“It’s for that reason that our former colleague and Doctor Who – Short Trips producer Ian Atkins proposed this Memorial Writers’ Opportunity, and I’m so impressed with how our current Short Trips producer Alfie Shaw has picked up the baton and continued to find the most creative and exciting new writers out there.

“I’m looking forward to reading some great new entries. Good luck to you all!”  

Competition Rules

Submissions can be set in the universe of Doctor Who in the Classic Series or the New Seriesin other words, at any time in the lives of the Doctor from his?first incarnation in An Unearthly Child up to and including his twelfth in Twice Upon a Time. The only exception to this is the War Doctor. Due to licensing agreements they cannot include the War Doctor in stories submitted for this opportunity, so please don’t use that character.  

You may not use established monsters can be used, nor established Doctor Who characters (including those from the “Worlds of Doctor Who” for example, UNIT, Jago & Litefoot, Counter-Measures, and so on). Most television companions from the New Series (2005 onwards) cannot be used, except for Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Donna Noble. However, classic series companions (excluding K-9), plus companions created by Big Finish (such as Charlotte Pollard, Hex, Evelyn Smythe, etc.) can be used. (Note: do not create a new companion for the Doctor in your story).  

Although the finished story should be ~5,000 words, the decision will be made based on 1,000 words: a 500 word synopsis and 500 words of an opening excerpt to the story.

Tom Baker as he appeared when he was the Doctor in the famous series, circa 1979 {image via the BBC}

Prospective entrants should listen to previous winning entries, to understand what kind of adventures the judges are looking for.   

The first winning story, selected from over a thousand submissions in 2016, was Forever Fallen by Joshua Wanisko. The finished production, narrated by Nicholas Briggs, can be downloaded for free from the Big Finish website. The subsequent three winning stories, Landbound by Selim Ulug, The Last Day at Work by Harry Draper, and The Best Laid Plans by Ben Tedds are also excellent starting points.   

Stories should never have never have been published nor posted on-line before, so no recycling a fanfic story from AO3, Fanfiction.net, or an old fanzine, nor rewriting an original story published in a small press anthology.

The winner will be informed by the end of July, and will be officially contracted to deliver a 5,000 word Short Trips story. As with all Big Finish writers, they will be expected to agree and meet all conditions, especially with respect to meeting deadlines and accepting input from producers. For guidance purposes, it is expected a first-draft would be due early in the Autumn of 2020.  

The BBC have the right to approve or veto the content of a selected story. Should there be unforeseen issues with the work, the writer will be invited to submit a new idea.  

Please note that no correspondence can be entered into and the judges’ decision is final.  

Entry is open only to people who have never written for Big Finish before.  

For the 2020 Memorial Writers’ Opportunity, any entrant can send one submission. Multiple entries will be disqualified.   

All entries must be submitted electronically either as Word-compatible documents or PDF pages, sent to?competitions@bigfinish.com. ?Entries must consist of two parts: a synopsis and an opening excerpt from the story.  

The synopsis must be a single page (this tends to be approximately 500 words).  

The opening excerpt from the story should also be a single page (again, approximately 500 words). This is to give a flavor of the writer’s ability and intentions, which can change if the story is commissioned. See below for how to download some examples from previous years.  

Both pages should be marked with the writer’s name and a contact email address. The submission should not include any details of your background or previous writing experience – the submission should speak for itself.  

Good luck to all writers!


Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.