So you might have noticed that we highkey stan Doctor Who here at TenEighty HQ.
Kids these days have their massive superhero crossovers, but our generation grew up with Jackie Tyler killing monsters with pickled eggs, and tbh it was everything.
So when we found out that Jacob Dudman’s YouTube impressions had led to him voicing the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors in official Doctor Who episodes, there was only one word for how excited we were. And that word was ADHXJKSDKHKDM.
Unfortunately, our editor says one word isn’t enough for an article, so here are several hundred more – we caught up with Jake to bring you nine things you need to know about The Tenth Doctor Chronicles, which is out this month.
1. These Doctor Who episodes are audio-only, which is totally a thing
Back in 1999, a production company called Big Finish got permission from the BBC to make audio Doctor Who with actors from the original twentieth-century version of the show. In the last few years, they’ve done the same for the modern series, working with legendary cast members like David Tennant, Billie Piper, and Catherine Tate.
But if you’ve never heard of Big Finish, don’t worry – until a Doctor Who sketch blew up on his channel last year, nor had Jake. “It was only when I did The Great Curator that I started getting comments like, ‘Oh, Big Finish should hire you’, and all that sort of stuff,” he says. “I googled it and I was like, ‘Whoa, how have I never heard of these guys before?’
“It’s like TV, but your brain can make up whatever pictures you want,” he adds. “You create the world yourself. You get to see what you want to see. It’s beautifully designed, 360-degree sound design, which really makes you feel like you’re in the scene. It’s an immersive experience.”
2. Jake’s first Big Finish job was with an acting legend – but he almost turned it down!
A few weeks after The Great Curator went live, Jake was contacted by Nick Briggs, Big Finish’s executive producer. Nick had seen Jake’s channel, and thought he’d be perfect for narrating a series of audiobooks called The Doctor Chronicles. But first, he needed to see Jake’s work irl.
“It was a strange experience, because Nick – who I knew as the voice of the Daleks – emailed me and said, ‘Would you like to come in and do a few voices in this audio drama, and be sounded out for a project that we’re working on?’, and he didn’t really mention what it would be until later on,” explains Jake.
A few days later, another Big Finish producer offered Jake a job. Although he couldn’t reveal it at the time, Scott Handcock wanted to cast Jake alongside Derek Jacobi – a man so good at acting that he has literally been made a knight, which we’re fairly sure makes him this country’s first line of defence against dragons – in a series called The War Master. And Jake said no. “I was like, ‘Nick’s already bringing me in on Friday, so don’t worry about it’,” he laughs. “Scott had to push me and go, ‘No, you want to do this!’ He said he’s never had an actor before who he’s had to convince to take on more work!
“That was my first day of Big Finish work, and when I went into the studio, the first face that I saw was Derek Jacobi,” he adds. “It was quite daunting at first, but he was such a sweet man that he instantly put me at ease.”
3. The audition process for The Doctor Chronicles was a rollercoaster
That same week, Jake was back in the studio to take up Nick’s original offer. His main job was to play several minor characters in a Third Doctor drama, but he’d also prepared narrated scenes featuring the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors’ voices, and during lunch, he performed them for Nick. Which was stressful af.
“I was calm about the whole thing, and I was just sort of enjoying it – but then I think I had a little moment to myself when everyone was having lunch, and I almost psyched myself out,” Jake says. “Like, ‘Whoa, you could be voicing the Doctor!’ And I was such a big fan of Nick growing up, having a ring modulator and all that sort of stuff – that’s kind of what I spent my evenings doing, pretending to be the voice of the Daleks! So I was nervous to be auditioned by Nick.
“We went over the words, and he gave me a bit of direction, and I did the words again, and he told me that he enjoyed it – and then he didn’t really say anything else!” Jake laughs. “Nick Briggs just stood there, very stern face, going, ‘You need to take your time with the narrator lines, but I really like the sound of it’, and that was pretty much it. I went and had my lunch, and I was like, ‘Ooh, I don’t know whether he liked that, he was a bit serious about the whole thing’.”
It was fellow YouTuber Benjamin Cook who finally revealed it had gone well. “I was with Ben, and he said, ‘I was with Nick Briggs the other day, and he wasn’t sure whether he’d told you that you’d got the role?’” Jake remembers. “I was like, ‘Oh! No, yeah, he didn’t tell me that at all!’”
4. Jake is playing almost every character
For those first two Big Finish jobs, Jake played small roles in big casts, but for The Doctor Chronicles, there are only two actors per episode: one guest star, and Jake doing everything else.
“The thing I find most difficult is switching between the narrator and the voices,” he says. “You’ll have a scene where it’s like, Narrator, Doctor, Martha, Narrator, Alien, Doctor, Narrator, Martha, and you’ve got to make sure that you don’t have your narrator ending up sounding like Martha Jones or vice versa. You have to keep reminding yourself to take your time with it – they can close up gaps [in post-production] so you don’t have to rush.”
Actors sometimes find narration more exposing than dialogue, because there isn’t a character to hide behind. “But I think that the narrator, just like any other character you play, has their own voice,” Jake suggests. “I don’t think of it as ‘Jacob telling a story’ so much as the narrator being the vehicle through which the story can unfold and the characters can come to life.”
Is it kind of like vlogging – playing a version of yourself that isn’t quite you, but isn’t quite a character either? “Perhaps,” he considers. “I’d agree that the ability to separate yourself in any shape or form helps in any sort of acting. But also, I think something that successful YouTubers are able to do is understand and empathise with their audience, and I think the narrator is the empathetic device in the story that helps the audience to understand how the characters are feeling, and give deeper meaning to the story.”
5. Jake’s first day as the Doctor was bonkers, but Sylvia Noble made it all okay
The first episode of The Tenth Doctor Chronicles was recorded in August last year, and the pressure was real. “Actually getting there on the day was a little bit scary,” Jake admits. “We had the added complication that Doctor Who: The Fan Show were coming in to take me aside and interview me, so that was pressure as well, and then the writer came in… It was definitely the most people I’ve had in any work environment.”
The episode is called Wild Pastures, and it’s about Donna Noble’s mum, played by Jacqueline King, who goes undercover at a dodgy rest home. “I think they planned it, that my first day should be with Jacqueline King,” says Jake, “and I’m so glad that it was, because she was so, so lovely to me. She took me under her wing, and was telling me that everything was going to be okay.
“It’s good that me and Jax had that dynamic, because I think that in this story she acts quite a lot like the Doctor’s mum,” Jake reveals. “It is a comedy episode, and that’s all down to James Goss’s brilliant grasp on writing mothers. And Sylvia is the hero that we all deserve.”
6. There’s a familiar face from Jake’s channel
The second episode to be recorded was Backtrack, which features Jon Culshaw – the legendary impressionist who appeared with Jake in videos like The Great Curator and The Solo Jedi.
“Having known him and worked with him before, and being good friends with him, I think that really settled me down in the reality of, ‘This is what I do now, this is my job’,” says Jake. “And I think that’s the most important thing – for me to go, ‘Oh, actually, I’m not this kid who’s been plucked out [of nowhere], I’ve been given a job to do as an actor.’
“It’s a lovely script,” he adds. “It’s about Backtrack, which is Nathan Hobb’s time-travelling firm. He picks up aliens and takes them sightseeing through time, but it all goes horribly wrong, and the Doctor and Martha have to go and sort him out!”
7. There are some amazing throwback monsters
Everyone remembers them for the constant farting, but the Slitheen LITERALLY SKINNED HUMANS AND WORE THEIR FLESH AS A DISGUISE, and having to wait a week to see whether the Doctor would stop them genuinely scarred us for life. Apparently Jake doesn’t care about our trauma because he’s helping to bring them back, in an episode called The Taste of Death.
“I think that’s one of the wonderful things about Big Finish – they can resurrect these characters,” he says. “I had honestly forgotten what they sounded like, so I had to go back and watch World War Three and… what’s the other one?” Aliens of London. THE TRAUMA, JAKE. “That’s the one. God, I should have known that. Jake Dudman exposed!
“That episode was, out of all of them, the most taxing on my voice,” he adds. “You’ve got the Tenth Doctor, who’s squeaky, and Rose, who’s squeaky, and the Slitheen, who are squeaky… It was a lot of characters. But it was great – we had this brilliant guest actor in, Arinzé Kene, who has got the voice of an angel and was so cool to work with.”
8. Lady Christina is finally getting a trip in the TARDIS
In Planet of the Dead – the one with Daniel Kaluuya, the future Hermione Granger, and a flying bus – the Doctor’s companion was Lady Christina de Souza, a posh jewel thief played by Michelle Ryan. She wanted to travel with the Doctor full-time, but he said no. In the audio episode Last Chance, they’re reunited, and Michelle is back.
“It’s a story about endings,” Jake reveals. “The Doctor is on his last great holiday before the Master comes to kill him. It features the Doctor and Lady Christina riding on rhinos. It has monkeys in the TARDIS. It has a horrible, horrible villain – probably one of the meanest villains in Doctor Who history ever – called the Deagle. It’s genuinely heart-touching. And Michelle Ryan is brilliant.”
Was it weird for her to be returning to a one-off role after almost a decade? “Yeah, she said it felt like lifetimes ago – she was like, ‘I’m not sure about this, it’s been nine years, I can’t quite remember how it was’. But then she got into the booth, said the first few lines, and she was straight back into it with no problem whatsoever. She brought all the flair and energy that she did a decade ago. She’s a brilliant companion.”
9. This whole thing is Jake’s childhood dream, and he’s loving every second
“As a kid, I wanted to be Doctor Who,” Jake says. “I wanted to be David Tennant running around in his pinstripe suit, and I wanted to be on the radio. So [when we started], the mash of that was freaking my little inner eight-year-old self out!
“But I think we’re just having fun now. I hope it’s not just me – I hope they’re not like, ‘Oh god, we’ve got Jake in today’! I think it’s the most important thing, actually – having a team that you enjoy working with, and that they’re behind you. If I didn’t have a director and a producer who are so behind me, wanting me to do well, and also being very nurturing with me, I don’t think it would have come out as well as it did.”
If you’re as much of a fan as us (and Jake), you need this series in your life. “It made me almost tear up, at the end of Episode Four, and that was me listening to myself!” he laughs. “It made me laugh hysterically through Sylvia’s monologues. It’s action-packed, it’s funny, it’s heartfelt. It’s brilliant writing, it’s a brilliant guest cast. If you like me on YouTube, and you watch Doctor Who, I don’t see what there isn’t to like!”
So there you have it…
Nine things you need to know about The Tenth Doctor Chronicles! The series will be released as a download on the Big Finish website later this month, and is available to preorder now. (So is The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles, which comes out later this year.)
Want more about Jake or Doctor Who? We’ve got you covered:
- If YouTubers Were Doctor Who Characters…
- Jake Dudman To Narrate Doctor Who Audiobooks
- Video Spotlight: Save The Rhino Vietnam
- Video Spotlight: Star Wars Impressions