SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen The Night of the Doctor go watch that first then come back here
With Star Trek Paramount has defined exactly what is, or is not, canon. The live action tv series and the movies are canon; stories in other media are not.
With Doctor Who the BBC has not done this. So there has been a debate in fandom as to what exactly is canon.
Are the Big Finish audios canon? After all they feature original cast members and Big Finish are very careful not to contradict tv continuity. (I’ll forget Survival of the Fittest.)
And what about the novels? The comics?
I’ve never really been bothered about canon but, when I did think about it, I took the Paramount approach: if it was on tv it was canon; if it was other media it wasn’t. It seemed the simplest approach although I know some fans wouldn’t agree with me.
The Night of the Doctor changed that.
In the scene where the 8th Doctor regenerates, he mentions the names of five companions who travelled with him: Charley, C’rizz, Lucie, Tamsin and Molly. These were all companions created in the Big Finish range.
Rather than simplifying things, I feel this has muddied the waters further.
Obviously the 8th Doctor audios featuring these companions are now canon. But what about the other 8th Doctor audios?
The Company of Friends audio release consists of the 8th Doctor meeting companions from the novels and comics. If this story is canon does that now make the novels and comics canon?
In The Light at the End the 8th Doctor and Charley interact with Doctors 1 to 7, the Master and various other companions. If this story is canon does it make the audios featuring Doctors 1 to 7 canon?
We now have a whole new debate. And I will let other continue it. I’m just going to enjoy the stories, in whatever media, and not get hung up as to whether or not they are canon.
(Well done, though, Steven Moffat for acknowledging the contribution Big Finish has made to Doctor Who over the last fifteen years.)