MORE NEW SERIES DOCTOR WHO FROM BIG FINISH

bfLogoBig Finish has announced a new range of boxsets featuring heroes and monsters from the new series of Doctor Who.

Leading this new wave of adventures is Alex Kingston who first appeared as River Song in 2008′s Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead.

River will be stepping into the era of the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) for Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 2, alongside Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) and Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan). But how can River help the Doctor if, in this incarnation, she must never actually meet him?

Producer David Richardson says:

The idea of River meeting previous Doctors was actually proposed by Steven Moffat and it’s just irresistible, isn’t it? Alex embraced the idea of returning to the role, and so she will be starring in no less than two box sets next year. And yes, we are still pinching ourselves!

River will then return later in 2016 in Doctor Who: The Diary of River Song, an epic four-hour adventure that takes River across space and time, seeking out the secret rulers of the universe. Paul McGann will reprise the role of the Eighth Doctor in the final installment.

The New Series adventures will continue in Doctor Who: The Churchill Years, in which Ian McNeice returns as the indomitable Winston Churchill. In the four-hour saga, Winston relates a number of encounters with the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors in his memoirs, battling alien incursions, metamorphosing creatures… and a Dalek! The stories are told by Ian McNeice, supported by a full cast of guest actors, including Danny Horn as Kazran Sardick, in a story taking place within the 2010 special A Christmas Carol.

Executive Producer Nicholas Briggs says:

Ian has played Churchill in just four episode on TV, and yet it feels like it was many more. It was such a brilliant, definitive performance, and how wonderful that we will be continuing Churchill’s adventures with the Doctor on audio.

Finally, the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors will face a new generation of monsters in Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters, a brand new, four-story run featuring creatures from the New Series. Peter Davison takes on the Weeping Angels, Colin Baker encounters the Judoon, Sylvester McCoy will meet the Sycorax… and Paul McGann will face a new clone batch of Sontarans on the edge of the Time War…

Executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery says:

It’s the ultimate mash-up and we have some great scripts lined up for these landmark stories. There is no doubt that 2016 is going to be a brilliant year for Big Finish!

All four boxsets will be released across 2016, and are available to pre-order today from the Big Finish website. Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 2 will be released in February, and is available as part of a special bundle of all four Doom Coalition boxsets.

Doctor Who: The Diary of River Song, Doctor Who: The Churchill Years and Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters can be pre-ordered for just £20 each on CD or Download, and are also available as part of our Doctor Who New Series bundle.

image.php

Thanks to Big Finish

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE #488

DWM488_COVER

FAN FAVOURITE OSGOOD – aka INGRID OLIVER – IS BACK ON ACTIVE DUTY IN DWM 488!

The popular UNIT science whizz was apparently killed off at the hands of Missy in Death in Heaven – but the rumours of her death may have been exaggerated! Actress Ingrid Oliver tells DWM about her joy at Osgood’s unexpected return.

“When I died, I was like ‘Oh. That’s a shame. That is a shame.” I really didn’t think I would return,” Ingrid tells DWM, revealing that she was shocked at the response to the UNIT operative’s demise. “I can’t watch myself on TV, so I deliberately made the decision to go out. And then I got a text from my agent saying, ‘Oh my God, you’re trending on Twitter!’ It was absolute insanity to me.”

ALSO INSIDE ISSUE 488…

  • DANNY HARGREAVES’ BIG BANG!
    Doctor Who’s resident special effects supervisor Danny Hargreaves reveals the science behind blowing stuff up – but don’t try this at home!
  • DAVID WARNER WAS THE DOCTOR?
    Cold War’s Professor Grisenko ­– movie and TV star David Warner – chats about his brief era as the Doctor, and shares some fascinating stories from a career spanning six decades.
  • A NEW FORMAT – AT LAST!
    DWM’s history of Doctor Who on home video reaches its final part, with the dawn of a new shiny new format. DVD took the series into remastered territory, and made it look better than it ever had before.
  • REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN!
    The Fact of Fiction heads to Voga – the planet of gold – to reveal fascinating facts about the 1975 Fourth Doctor adventure Revenge of the Cybermen.
  • BLOOD AND ICE!
    Will the Doctor and Clara defeat the macabre plans of Dr Audley, and has Winnie really betrayed them? The comic strip adventure Blood and Ice – written by Jacqueline Rayner and illustrated by Martin Geraghty – reaches its thrilling conclusion.
  • STEVEN MOFFAT ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS!
    Showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers’ questions and pays tribute to 1980s Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner.
  • COMING SOON…
    DWM talks to Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford, novelist AL Kennedy and actor Jon Culshaw to preview upcoming books and audios from the worlds of Doctor Who.
  • PLUS! All the latest official news, reviews, Relative Dimensions, The Time Team, competitions and The DWM Crossword.

Doctor Who Magazine 488 is on sale from Thursday 25 June 2015, price £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

Posted in Doctor Who Magazine | Leave a comment

BBC AMERICA TEASER TRAILER

Posted in doctor who series 9 | Leave a comment

REVIEW – #200: THE SECRET HISTORY

THE SECRET HISTORYBeing a life-long Doctor Who fan, I have come to realise that if there is one thing Who fans love it’s an anniversary celebration! The frenzy over the 50th had only just died down when fans were clamouring for a celebration of ten years of New Who (which didn’t happen) – no, despite our differences we are a celebratory bunch who enjoy celebrating our shows history.

200 is a good number to celebrate, but unlike the celebratory release 100, this one is not so obvious a celebration. Some stories are for the general viewing or listening public, some stories are “for the fans” and The Secret History falls most definitely in to the latter category. But lets take a step back, readers of my reviews of the last two main range releases The Defectors and Last of the Cybermen will know that something very strange is going on. The Seventh Doctor has somehow been reunited with Jo Grant, the Sixth Doctor has joined forces with Jamie and Zoe – someone or something is manipulating the Doctor’s timeline and who that is and why it is being done is revealed in The Secret History.

This one is the last in the “locum Doctor’s” trilogy, the theme of later Doctor’s being teamed up with their previous companions continues, this time The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) is teamed up with First Doctor companions Steven Taylor (Peter Purves) and Vicki (Maureen O’Brien) for what, on the surface of it, appears to be a pretty standard Hartnell era historical. They arrive in the city of Ravenna in the year 540 AD – the Roman Empire is falling, Rome itself has fallen, the Emperor Justinian is based in Constantinople and his general Belisarius (Giles Watling) is laying siege to the city to try to reclaim it for the Empire. So far, so Hartnell – Davison even comments on the team not splitting up as this was the cause of all his problems back in his first incarnation; with comedy foreshadowing, they get split up, Steven gets caught up in a riot and taken to Constantinople, The Doctor and Vicki team up with Procopius (Tony Millan) sage and writer to track Steven down. This story has a lot to do, it has to be celebratory, be a great homage to the Hartnell era and it has to finish off the “locum” trilogy satisfactorily. In the words of Meat Loaf “two out of three ain’t bad”.

Firstly as a celebration, it works, past glories of the Big Finish main range and of other ranges are referenced (one particular plot line from a few years ago is central to the plot, no spoilers, but you will know it when you hear it). Secondly it is a fantastic recreation of feeling for the Hartnell era historicals – for the first two and a half episodes at least – it has our heroes getting split up, captured, meeting historical characters and trying desperately NOT to get caught up in Historical events. Thirdly it has to finish off the trilogy, and here for me at least it is only a partial success – the villain of the piece is revealed and they really have been “hidden in plain sight” to use an old phrase, very clever work by Big Finish there – but the resolution, its just too New Who involving redundant timelines, changing the future, altering the past and all those annoying cheats that Moffat is so fond of. A shame as I really was enjoying it up until the reveal of the villain.

Back to positives, the whole cast are universally excellent; Davison is effortless, Maureen O’Brien actually sounds like a younger woman, Purves is suitably heroic and stoic as Steven – and the guest cast really do get in to the spirit of things, no-one camps it up, all the performances are convincing and very “Hartnell Era”. The reasons for the villain’s actions are also very believable, the motive is there, but to have the emotional connection you really do have to have been a very dedicated Big Finish fan.

So, in summing up, some great things, some disappointing moments – on reflection the good outweighs the bad but the denouement just seems a little, I don’t know, maybe “off” is the best description. For the brilliance of the first half (and a bit) of this historical homage, I give release 200, 6/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Steven and Vicki to the Italian city of Ravenna in the year 540 – besieged by the army of the celebrated Byzantine general Belisarius. Caught up in the fighting, Steven ends up on a boat bound for Constantinople, the heart of the Roman Empire.

Rescuing Steven, however, is the least of the Doctor’s problems – because he shouldn’t be mixed up in this particular adventure at all. Someone has sabotaged his own personal timeline, putting him in the place of his First incarnation… but who, and why? The truth is about to be revealed – but at what cost to all of the Doctors, and to the whole future history of the planet Earth?

CAST:

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Maureen O’Brien (Vicki), Peter Purves (Steven), Lysette Anthony (Sophia), Sarah Woodward (Theodora), Tony Millan (Procopius, Yazid), Giles Watling (Belisarius), Tim Wallers (Justinian)

Written By: Eddie Robson
Directed By: Barnaby Edwards

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

THE ESSENTIAL DOCTOR WHO #5

Essential Doctor Who 5 - MonstersIssue 5 of Panini’s The Essential Doctor Who comprises 116 pages of all-new material exploring the dark side of the series…

Horror has been Doctor Who’s most consistent genre since the Daleks first threatened viewers in 1963. The metal-cased mutants are still notorious, but the programme’s shadows are occupied by many equally grotesque and disturbing creatures.

This is a comprehensive guide to the monsters that have been haunting our nightmares for more than 50 years. Everything from the Abzorbaloff to Zygons is covered in a richly illustrated, encyclopaedic format.

“When I was a kid I wished for a book that included all the Doctor Who monsters,” says editor Marcus Hearn. “Now I’m a grown-up my ambitions haven’t really changed. It’s been a labour of love for all of us to channel the spirit of Terrance Dicks’ Doctor Who Monster Book, and a treat to add so many aliens from the show’s now greatly expanded universe.”

The Essential Doctor Who: Monsters is on sale now at WH Smith and all good newsagents, price £9.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

Posted in Doctor Who Magazine | Leave a comment

REVIEW – THE TRIUMPH OF SUTEKH

dwnabs02_slipcase_1417sq_cover_largeSo there you are in 1989, minding your own business, enjoying season 26 – and what a wonderful season that was! – and as 1990 comes around you speculate as to what will happen in Season 27. Rumours of McCoy regenerating into Richard Griffiths part way through, a new female companion who’s a safe-cracker, Ace becoming a Timelord. So I, like millions of other Who fans, tuned in in September 1990 to watch… STOP!!!! – you are using the Bernice Summerfield trick of putting post-it notes over the most painful parts of you memories!

Actually what happened in 1990 was pretty awful as we all know, but in June 1991 something rather wonderful happened, they were small in size but big in concept, totally bigger on the inside – they were Virgin’s New Adventures Novels; and, do you know, they were not just as good as the TV series they were better.

Then in October 1992 a character would be introduced who was the companion, one Professor Bernice Surprise Summerfield (Benny to her friends), archaeologist, drinker, witty, intelligent, smart, flawed and brilliant and we were treated to my TARDIS team 7, Ace and Bernice.

This box set is a celebration of the 1990’s New Adventures era, but it also carries Benny’s story forward.  This is set later in her timeline after her divorce and the death of her husband, but it also sees the long overdue return of one of the most popular villains from classic Who, in the form of Sutekh – and he is once again voiced by Gabriel Woolf.

This box set has a very delicate balancing act to play, and two very distinct types of fans to please – classic series fans who hold Pyramids of Mars with reverence and New Adventures fans who love the “Times Champion” Seventh Doctor, gung -ho Ace and wise cracking Bernice – are the two compatible? – oh yes, indeedy they are!

Told over a hefty four hours, but split into four parts, the story tells of an epic plot for Sutekh to be reborn and bring his gift of death to all mankind. The best way to describe this set is a blockbuster, a real Hollywood style blockbuster, if Michael Bay got together with Marvel to make a Doctor Who film, The Triumph of Sutekh would be the result.

Part One is called The Pyramid of Sutekh by Guy Adams. On Mars during a conflict, a pyramid has been uncovered and Professor Bernice Summerfield is sent to investigate and what she finds will change everything forever. Any more would spoil the story, but a youtube trailer below will give you the idea.

It hits the ground running and does not let up for the whole length of the episode. Think Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider and The Mummy, but with added depth and an emotional punch, because this truly is epic, the stakes really have never been higher – the Doctor is locked in battle with Sutekh and he is losing…

Part Two is called The Vault of Osiris by Justin Richards – If the first installment was Indiana Jones, this is a classic heist movie complete with gangsters, crosses and double crosses. Ace and Bernice are in Egypt 2015 trying to track down The Doctor. This leads them into the shady underworld of stolen antiques and artefacts as they desperately try to obtain the Eye of Horus – but they are part of a much bigger plan and the forces in action have been manipulating things for a very long time. Oceans 11, Taken, Thomas Crown Affair spring to mind whilst listening to this one, it’s so filmic, so visual, and the resolution is so unexpected.  If this was on TV you would be shouting at the screen.

Part Three is called The Eye of Horus and is by James Goss. Bernice finds herself in Ancient Egypt in the time of the reign of female Pharaoh Hatshepsut (Sakuntala Ramanee) and the pace finally lets up. This is the most cerebral part of the story, The Doctor has been in Egypt for years before Benny arrives, and his plans are far advanced, but he genuinely does not know Benny and whats more is engaged to be married to the Pharaoh. This story is the calm before the storm; Sutekh is growing in power and this episode has him gaining control over Pharaoh to be Tutmosis (Matthew J Morgan) by charm, flattery and manipulation and having him usurp Hatshepsut. This is quite a horrific piece, the true cruelty of Sutekh is shown in all its horror, no punches are pulled and Gabriel Woolf chills as Sutekh; the power in his voice is chilling.

Part Four is called The Tears of Isis by Una McCormack. The world has ended, Sutekh has won, just a small enclave of his most loyal servants still live. Have the Doctor’s plans come to nothing, has Sutekh brought his gift of death to all mankind? All this and many more questions will be answered in this final cataclysmic episode. No more here, too tempted to spoil…

Wow, what a box set! What an epic and what a genuine rollercoaster ride. The undoubted star of this set is the lady herself, Lisa Bowerman. If there is just one wish I could have, it would be for Bernice to be in the TV series, just for one episode, it would make this New Adventures fanboy who kept the flame of New Who alive in the 1990’s very happy.

Lisa just brings Benny alive; she gets every nuance, every inflection, every sarcastic put down just right; she just is Bernice and long may she play her. Gabriel Woolf is oilily menacing as Sutekh – though in this set and especially in the last episode he comes across like Judge Death from 2000AD and in my eyes McCoy, especially the “Times Champion” version just is the Doctor, my Doctor, in a way none on TV have ever managed to convey, along with the gun-toting, gung-ho Ace and the wonderful Benny, they are the perfect TARDIS team.

Is this box set perfect? Probably not. It zips along at such a pace that it is almost too much to take in in one session.  It’s very “graphic novel” and would sit well in such a format and has a certain Marvel Superheroes film feel to it, but these are no bad thing and not a criticism of this superb production, which is a triumph and I have no hesitation in giving it a triumphant 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Pyramid of Sutekh by Guy Adams

Professor Bernice Summerfield, archaeologist and adventurer, has discovered a Pyramid on Mars. Inside she finds her old friend the Doctor is fighting a battle with the Osiran God Sutekh. One he is losing.

The Vaults of Osiris by Justin Richards

Egypt in 2015 is an unsettled place. The trade in stolen antiquities is a murky one, and it’s about to get a whole lot worse, as an ancient and terrible force enters the market.

The Eye of Horus by James Goss

Ancient Egypt is enjoying a golden age – peace, prosperity and a powerful Pharaoh. But something is moving through the sands. A forgotten god requests an invite to the feast.

The Tears of Isis by Una McCormack

Russell Courtland prophesied the world would end on Tuesday. No-one was more surprised than he was when it did.

CAST:

Lisa Bowerman (Professor Bernice Summerfield), Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Gabriel Woolf (Sutekh the Destroyer), Diveen Henry (Alozza), Nicholas Briggs (Vasha), Sakuntala Ramanee (Hatshepsut), Matthew J Morgan (Tutmosis), Dan Bottomley (Kamos), Matthew Bates (Courtland), Rachel Atkins (Susannah), Naomi McDonald (Alyx), Guy Adams (Cultist)

Producer and Script Editor James Goss
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

REVIEW – THE SHADOWS OF SERENITY

THE SHADOWS OF SERENITY COVERShort length, big content has been a theme of this season of Short Trips so far and this Sixth release does not in anyway disappoint. As this is a Short Trips, I will try to keep my review short and to the point without my usual rambling style. Of course I remember when I first heard a short trips it reminds me of the time that……

STOP!!!!

See what I did there…

Right, enough silliness, on to the review!

Read by Nicola Bryant (who still amazes me that she sounds nothing at all like Peri when she is herself), it tells a story of Old Sixie and Peri visiting the planet of Malgar whilst the TARDIS recharges (something that happened quite a lot in the Sixth Doctor’s era that, TARDIS needing a recharge). Malgar has a history of violence, just one gunshot from their army could take out an entire invading fleet – however the denizens that Old Sixie and Peri meet are nothing like that, they are pacifists to the point of being a danger to themselves – The Doctor finds out that they have been this way since they were visited by the Sisters of Serenity. But who are they and why have they removed all traces of aggression from the Malgarians?

This is a story about freedom of choice, thematically similar to A Clockwork Orange, the choice to be good or bad has been removed by a third party – can the Doctor in all conscience restore this? and what about the dark heart of The Doctor himself, what if this is removed, where will it go?

Nicola Bryant gives a great dramatic reading, when she acts the Peri parts you forget it is the same woman; she delivers an urgency to the story and her tone build the world very well. This is a very visual script and Nicola really does bring this to life, I love it when you can “see” events without them being described – and this is a great example of visual story telling.

Another big concept story told in a very short time, but without a wasted line. Definitely a winner and a very serene 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Guns of Malgar once defended their planetoid from any who strayed too close; just one gun could obliterate an entire star fleet.

The Malgarians are known as a vicious, belligerent species – so when the TARDIS brings the Doctor and Peri to their homeworld, they are puzzled to be greeted by a pacifistic population.

Peri assumes the Doctor has just got his facts wrong, but he is reluctant to accept the Malgarians’ uncharacteristic behaviour. What lies behind it, and what is the secret of the Sisters of Serenity?

CAST:

Nicola Bryant (Narrator)

Producer Michael Stevens
Script Editor Michael Stevens
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: Nigel Robinson

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

REVIEW – THE CLOISTERS OF TERROR

THE CLOISTERS OF TERROR COVER“The same but different”; it was how I thought of Doctor Who when it came back in 2005. I loved it with RTD in charge. 10 years on, well, hmmm… Capaldi is wonderful, but the episodes lack a little something to make them feel as special as they used to. Trying to recapture the magic of a bygone era is a difficult balancing act; you don’t want to be a pastiche or a tribute act, but you can’t be so different that you are nothing like the era you are trying to recapture.

Series 4 of the Fourth Doctor Adventures has reminded me of series 8 of the TV series in so much as it hasn’t quite hit the spot for me – brilliant leading man, sublime companion, well written stories but lacking a certain something in a few of the stories. Maybe they were just TOO different from the era they are representing. Actually yes, that what it is, apart from The Darkness of Glass, the stories just have not screamed LATE ERA HINCHCLIFFE! to me in a way the previous pairings of Tom and Louise have, maybe they have been a little too experimental. Luckily The Cloisters of Terror has come along and restored my faith in the series and if you want to find out why dear reader, then read on.

St Matilda’s College, in Oxford, is a woman only college with a strange history; there is a legend that if you see the ghostly “Three Sisters” that they will come and take you away. When a young student tells her friend she has seen them and then disappears, the Dean of the College, Emily Shaw calls in the Police – but gets more than she bargained for when her call is intercepted by The Doctor and Leela. Wow, what a story! This feels just like Who did in late Season 14, dark, gothic, frightening, engaging – everything a Tom Baker story should be – and of course it features Tom Baker! Half way between his serious earlier persona and his madcap later persona, Tom’s commanding presence booms and quips his way through the story. The Dean of the college is Dame Emily Shaw – Mother of past companion Elizabeth Shaw and is aware of The Doctor and UNIT. There is a long standing mystery to solve here, girls have been going missing for almost a millennium…

How are the Nuns of the convent involved? Is the kidnap of the girls for the greater good? Can Leela do a Lancashire accent? All these questions and many more are posed and answered in the story.

It’s a triumph of a production – it’s not the best Who story ever, but it is so well done it really does feel like an audio recording of a 1970’s episode. There is a creepy, doom laden atmosphere, possession, treachery and a 1000 year old secret. Can I at this point make my monthly “we are not worthy” comment on Louise Jameson – she is incredible in this one, such a visual performance, when she answers one of the girls in a Lancashire accent it’s funny but it is also a considered study of Leela’s thought processes; she has never heard the word before, it is spoken to her in a Lancashire accent so why wouldn’t Leela pronounce it in this way – it’s little touches like this that make Louise a cut above and one of the best actresses to have graced Doctor Who.

So a Fourth Doctor Adventure that ticks all the boxes – acting, plot, sound, atmosphere. But at the same time its not a tribute act, its just a very well written story. Yes some of the plot devices are cliched, the ending may be predictable, but it really does give you the 1970’s Saturday teatime glow.

This one definitely is not a terror. 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

St Matilda’s College, Oxford is haunted. The building was formerly a convent and, so the story goes, three ghostly nuns wander its passages during the hours of darkness. The story goes on to say that anyone who sees the ‘three sisters’ will not be long for this world.

When one of the students mysteriously disappears, the Dean of the College, Dame Emily Shaw, has no option but to call in the police. Her call appears to be answered when a Police Box arrives in her study; the Doctor and Leela have come to investigate and uncover the dark secret that has lain buried beneath the college for almost a thousand years…

CAST:

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Rowena Cooper (Emily Shaw), Richenda Carey (Sister Frances Beckett), Claudia Grant (Megan Matthews), Allison McKenzie (Lynn Pickering), Jane Slavin (Ancient Nun/Brenda)

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

STEVEN MOFFAT AWARDED AN OBE

Steven MoffatSteven Moffat, lead writer of Doctor Who and co-creator of Sherlock, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Steven said:

I never thought I would get something like this, I’m astonished and more thrilled than I ever thought someone like me would be. I’m not the least bit cynical, or the least bit trying to be cool about it. I’m just really, really happy.

The full interview can be read here.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of BBC Cymru Wales, commented on Moffat’s honour:

We’re thrilled to see Steven’s creative brilliance being recognised today.

Not only has he enthralled countless millions of viewers across the world, he has helped rocket-boost the Welsh creative sector, inspiring a new generation of talent here in Wales to make their mark on the global stage.

I’m so delighted to see his remarkable achievements being honoured.

Moffat’s predecessor Russell T Davies was awarded an OBE in 2008.

Posted in Doctor Who People | Leave a comment

THE COMPANION CHRONICLES – THE FIRST DOCTOR (VOLUME ONE)

Companion Chronicles First Doctor Vol 1They are back – and its about time!

Since their apparent demise last year the Companion Chronicles have been missed. Yes there were the “Early Adventures” – and very good they were too, but the style of storytelling in those was more akin to the main range, more full cast rather than dramatic narration and as such lost some of the intimacy of the Companion Chronicles. This month they are back, albeit in a slightly different format, whereas the previous Chronicles were a single CD monthly release, these new ones are in the box set format, and looking at the release schedule on the Big Finish website, these are looking like they are going to be an annual release.

The first release is aptly enough a First Doctor box set – a set of four stories told by his companions Susan, Vicki and Steven. The final two stories are linked by being Steven-centric, but thematically the box set seems to deal with the theme of consequences, consequences of action, inaction, and choices made, and over the four stories we experience consequences.

The First story is called The Sleeping Blood by Martin Day – it is told by Susan, and is a rare thing, a story set before An Unearthly Child. Susan (Carole Ann Ford) tells of a time that the Doctor became ill after being infected by an alien plant, and her search for antibiotics to aid his recovery. The TARDIS (which at this point has a functioning Chameleon Circuit!) takes her to a seemingly abandoned medical research facility, unfortunately it is not as abandoned as she would hope. Soldiers are searching for a terrorist known as “The Butcher” who is holding the whole world to ransom with his genetically engineered nanobots. It’s a great morality tale, where is the line between terrorism and idealism? Is killing in the name of the state ever justified? The experiences of this story have a profound effect on Susan and impact the development of her character throughout the TV series.

The Second Story is called The Unwinding World by Ian Potter – it is told by Vicki (Maureen O’Brien) and details the time that she, Ian, Barbara and The Doctor become stranded on a totalitarian world, with the TARDIS taken away, the food drugged to make concentration difficult, inane soulless TV shows to keep the masses entertained, our heroes must expose the lie at the centre of this society in order to retrieve the TARDIS, but is the truth something that the inhabitants want to face? This is an intriguing story, consequences are all over it, the consequences which have lead to the totalitarian society, and the consequences for the citizens once the Doctor and companions bring it down. It’s not a black and white situation, sometimes ignorance may be bliss, sometimes the Doctor may not be actually acting in the best interest of an oppressed population. Intriguing little morality play this one, very much worth a listen.

The Third Story is called The Founding Fathers by Simon Guerrier – it is told by Steven Taylor (Peter Purves). A bit of different take on a historical here, Steven uses a pure historical encounter that he, The Doctor and Vicki had with Benjamin Franklin. Steven is an old man here, he was once King of the planet seen in the TV story The Savages, but abdicated this position, now he recalls his tale to his granddaughter Sida in order to prove to her that the copy of The Doctor’s mind that they have kept since the Doctor visited is actually not the real Doctor and lacks his moral compass. The actual story would have made a great two part historical in the TV series in the 1960’s in which The Doctor uses Franklin’s experiments with electricity to open the TARDIS, which he has inadvertently managed to lock himself out of. Along the way our heroes are involved in intrigue with a woman called Abigail that history has not recorded, is she a Time Agent or something more??? An enjoyable historical, which poses many questions on ethics and morality.

The Final Story is called The Locked Room by Simon Guerrier. Steven Taylor (Peter Purves) is a very old man, it is some years since the events of The Founding Fathers and his granddaughter Sida is now President. Steven has become a recluse and as his obsessive project to build a radio telescope comes to fruition, he summons Sida for its first use, to use it he locks them in a time-locked, lead lined room, for this is no ordinary radio telescope… Steven has managed to track down The Doctor and is planning to bring him to his planet, but Steven has caught up with the Doctor at a crucial point in his timeline – The Doctor is dying. A fabulous ending to the set, it twists and turns all over the place, its a four-hander between Steven, Sida, The Doctor and one other protagonist who to quote River Song: “Spoilers” – you will have to listen to it to find out! A great end to a very good box set, gripping to the last.

So an interesting set, thematically very challenging, it really makes you consider the character’s actions and the consequences they may have, and its great to have the Companion Chronicles back, there is a certain something to their style of story-telling that makes them an integral building block in the diverse tapestry of the Doctor Who canon.

8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Sleeping Blood by Martin Day

When the Doctor falls ill, Susan is forced to leave the safety of the TARDIS behind. Exploring a disused research centre in search of medical supplies, she becomes embroiled in the deadly plans of a terrorist holding an entire world to ransom – and the soldier sent to stop him.

The Unwinding World by Ian Potter

Office life is tough, the commute is a grind, nothing works quite as well as you’d like. Vicki seems to remember things being better once, before the little flat. It’s time she put some excitement back in her life. It’s just a shame the Doctor can’t help.

The Founding Fathers by Simon Guerrier

The TARDIS lands in Leicester Square in the summer of 1762. When the Doctor, Steven and Vicki find themselves locked out of the TARDIS, only one man can possibly help them. But the American, Benjamin Franklin, has problems of his own…

The Locked Room by Simon Guerrier

Steven Taylor left the Doctor and the TARDIS to become king of an alien world. But it’s now many years since he gave up the throne and went to live in a cell in the mountains, out of sight of his people. He’s not escaping his past – quite the opposite, in fact. As his granddaughter, Sida, is about to discover…

CAST:

Carole Ann Ford, Maureen O’Brien, Peter Purves, Alix Dunmore, Alice Haig, Darren Strange

Producers: David Richardson & Ian Atkins (The Sleeping Blood)
Script Editor: Jacqueline Rayner
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

READ OUR WEBCHAT WITH SIMON GUERRIER HERE

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

SARAH DOLLARD WRITING FOR SERIES 9

Sarah DollardThe BBC have announced that Sarah Dollard has written Episode 10 of the forthcoming series of Doctor Who. Sarah is an Australian screenwriter, living and working in the UK, who began her career writing for the well-known Australian soap, Neighbours. Other credits include Merlin, Primeval, Being Human, and The Game.

Dollard said:

Getting to play in the Doctor Who toy box is a dream come true. It’s a total honour to contribute to a show that has brought me such joy as a fan. However, writing for Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman has presented a serious problem: some days I’ve been too excited to actually sit down and type!

Filming has begun on episode 10 of the new series of Doctor Who and Joivan Wade, who played Rigsy in last year’s Flatline, is back! The episode is directed by Justin Molotnikov and written by Sarah Dollard whose previous credits include Being Human and the BBC’s acclaimed spy drama, The Game.

The episode sees the return of Joivan Wade as Rigsy, the young graffiti artist who helped save the world in Flatline. He’ll be reunited with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) in this new adventure although how and why he finds himself mixed up with the time traveling heroes is currently under wraps!

The guest cast for the new series includes Maisie Williams, Michelle Gomez, Rebecca Front, Rufus Hound, Paul Kaye and Jaye Griffiths. The BBC Cymru Wales produced drama will return to BBC One this Autumn with further casting to be announced.

Posted in doctor who series 9 | Leave a comment

REVIEW – SURVIVORS (SERIES TWO)

SURVIVORS SERIES 2 COVERAs many long time readers of my reviews, posts and Tweets (@CouncillorEd for those of a tweeting bent) I am a bit of a political animal, I love politics. The General Election to me is what the World Cup Final is to a lot of other people, its an event – a stay up all night, get on Twitter and make comments event, an event that matters, because whether we like it or not, whether we see it or not, politics matters. I am left leaning, a social Liberal, I believe in freedom of expression, freedom of the individual to be themselves within a wider society without fear of persecution or prejudice – to quote my Lib Dem Membership card I believe “exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty ignorance or conformity”.

Now dear reader, what is he going on about? This is more like a party political than a review, but please bear with me. I got interested in Politics because of Margaret Thatcher, even at a young age, her dogma felt wrong to me, and this box set reminds me very much of one of her most famous quotes: “They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society.”  The quote chilled me as a teenager, it galvanised me to do something about it, to get involved, because I thought at the time and I think now that we are better than that. Mrs Thatcher would probably approve of the world of Survivors: no state, no society, no one to give “hand-outs” to, just individuals forming their own way, the ultimate expression of the free market unfettered by state intervention, morals or rules, its a broken mirror held up to Britain in 2015, a cautionary tale, a parable about isolationism and extremism. It made me stop and think of what I might be capable of if the rules of society did not apply any more, if I had total freedom to do what I wanted. Being me, I probably wouldn’t have survived too long unless I found somewhere like The Grange and put my efforts into rebuilding society, you see I think we are better than just individuals, we do have an obligation to each other, and we work together better than alone.

So, Survivors Series Two – the world has ended to all intents and purposes; a plague has killed upwards of 95% of the population and small groups are now trying to rebuild some sort of society, but some see this as an opportunity to let out their more extreme sides that were previously held in check.

The box set is made up of four linked stories forming a loose arc about Abby Grant (Carolyn Seymour) trying to find her son Peter, and the inhabitants of The Grange trying to build a network to trade with. But outside the confines of The Grange, of the veneer of a society that still exists, the world has gone to hell…

Part One is called Dark Rain and is written by Ken Bentley. Some months after the plague and the incidents of Box Set One (available HERE with a FREE download of Episode One available HERE) Jackie Burchall (Louise Jameson) and her friend Daniel Connor (John Banks) are on the road, heading towards the West Country. While sheltering from a storm they encounter what they think is a friend in a time of need, but this nearly leads to their demise. What a grim claustrophobic story this is. On the one hand we have Jackie and Daniel forging out on their own, only to be nearly killed by their own naivety, on the other we have Abby (Carolyn Seymour) Greg (Ian McCulloch) and Jenny (Lucy Fleming) – all from the original TV series – looking for Abby’s son Peter. We find out that Jenny is pregnant by Greg, and this plot-line plays out over the remainder of the set. This episode is a stark reminder that SOME people are really only one step away from barbarism and are ruled by short-term self interest, whilst others take a more holistic view – the group slit at the end of this episode. Episodes Two and Three take place at the same time.

Part Two is called Mother’s Courage and is written by none other than Louise Jameson. The group have split into two, the women – Abby, Jackie and Jenny follow a lead to Aberystwyth, Abby’s son Peter has been spotted there, or at least someone very like him. They have also been told of a women only camp near the coast and head towards it. On the way they pick up a young girl in distress called Molly, she has been kept by a group of men in an abusive situation, passed round, raped, used as a toy. Even with her story being as horrific as it is, the world Survivors creates makes the listener uneasy of new characters, even one as sympathetic as Molly, does she have an agenda, is she telling the truth? Extremism seems to be a theme in this story, Molly shows us the absolute worst and basest abhorrent behaviour men may be capable of – in the woman only camp are they any better?

Louise has a great ease of writing, and writes women so well – in fact this episode has no male characters at all. Themes of sisterhood and motherhood stand side by side with hatred, isolationism and fear. Can a society be forged with just one point of view, just one gender, with an extremist in charge? Because the word of Survivors engenders and enables extremists who were bound by society before the plague. I found this episode an interesting metaphor for the upcoming EU referendum; are we better alone, cut off, isolated listening to only one voice, or are we better as part of a collective whole looking out for each other? I know which side I am on. In creating this woman only enclave with their “no men” rule out of the need for safety from the evil that some men are capable of, the Women have become a mirror image of that, have become extremists that will go to appalling lengths to preserve their world view. To say I enjoyed this episode would be a lie, it’s grim and dark and shows the worst of humanity, but appreciate it, oh yes indeed I did, wonderfully written, paced and superbly acted, and chilling to the bone.

Part Three is called The Hunted and is written by Ken Bentley. As the women go in search of Peter Grant, the men – Daniel, Greg and newcomer Russell (Tim Treloar) go in search of a survivalist called Irvin Warner (Tim Bentinck) who is rumoured to be living in the Brecon Beacons. This episode happens at the same time as the previous and like the other is gender specific, this has an all male cast. Daniel is hurt by a bear trap, the men meet up with Warner who is initially suspicious, he is a survivalist, an isolationist, a loner, but has not lost all his humanity and is open to Greg’s offer of forming a link with The Grange and being part of a new society. However, things do not go to plan, an escaped Lion leads our heroes off their chosen path and in to Hereford, and while they are hunting the Lion, something else is hunting them.

Anyone remember the Torchwood episode Countrycide? No, well this is a grimmer, more realistic less camp version of that – our heroes are being tracked and hunted by a group of humans gone feral, who have realised that the rules do not apply to them any more and have seen this as an opportunity to do what they want to do just because they can. Again the question of how far away from barbarism society is raises its head. The story really is horrific and is aided by the fabulous sound design and acting. The sense of rising panic and terror drips from the production as our heroes realise that they have been tracked for a very long time and that the hunters know all about them. Boy this one was hard going – the scary thing is that humans have reason and have chosen to become like this, chosen to become feral beasts because they can, they have made a choice. Chilling

Part Four is called Savages and is written by Matt Fitton. The two strands of the story are reunited in a desperate rescue attempt, an explosive climax to the box set, to give any more away would be spoiling the plot. Jackie’s bond with Molly grows, she sees her a surrogate daughter, they spend time together, even “go shopping” (raid a boutique) for clothes for Molly – whilst the “A” plot of rescuing  Greg’s party from the Savages is in full flow the quieter “B” plot of Jackie and Molly’s relationship bubbles away in the background almost unnoticed a bit of soap opera froth. Of course this being Survivors it is nothing of the sort and leads to the cliffhanger that takes us to Series Three…

Life will out is the message. Society will rebuild, personified in Jenny’s pregnancy – but it will be a tough road taking decades, maybe even centuries, whilst the Survivors cling to the ideals of decency and civilisation in a world where to some these notions do not apply.

Wow, long review, but a very in depth box set covering many complex themes. It’s a deep and thought provoking set and whilst not “enjoyable” in the conventional sense, it is gripping, moving, and morally ambiguous. My one tiny tiny little niggle is that the “good guys” are all nice middle class people where as the “bad guys” seem more “working class” for want of a better description, it’s a very very small gripe in what has been a harrowing and moving box set that will stay with me for a very long time.

10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

It begins with just a few people falling ill. Another flu virus that spreads around the globe. And then the reports begin that people are dying…

When most of the world’s population is wiped out, a handful of survivors are left to pick up the pieces.

Cities become graveyards. Technology becomes largely obsolete. Mankind must start again…

Dark Rain by Ken Bentley
Introducing: Tim Treloar as Russell, Bernard Holley as Ridley.

Months after the plague, storms batter the country. As Abby resumes the search for her son, Jackie and Daniel fight for their lives.

Mother’s Courage by Louise Jameson
Introducing: Fiona Sheehan as Molly.

The search for Peter leads to Aberystwyth, and a community of women who have cut themselves off from the outside world. But what appears to be a safe haven could be nothing of the sort…

The Hunted by Ken Bentley
Introducing: Tim Bentinck as Irvin Warner.

Greg, Daniel and Russell need the help of survivalist Irvin Warner, who is hiding out in the Brecon Beacons. But predators are roaming in the barren countryside too…

Savages by Matt Fitton

Wounded, split apart and fighting for their lives, the survivors discover that survival isn’t everything…

Lucy Fleming (Jenny Richards), Ian McCulloch (Greg Preston), Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant), Louise Jameson (Jackie Burchall), John Banks (Daniel Connor), Bernard Holley (George Ridley), Tim Treloar (Russell Baines), Chris Finney (Hargreaves/Jenkins), Fiona Sheehan (Molly), Rachel Atkins (Charlotte), Jane Slavin (Jane), Tim Bentinck (Irvin Warner), Allison McKenzie (Patricia Gallagher)

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

NOTE: Survivors contains adult material and is not suitable for younger listeners.

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

REVIEW – SUBURBAN HELL

SUBURBAN HELL COVERAs many of you may already know I am hardly a fan of Matt Smith; I could (and have on numerous occasions) go on for pages and pages about his unsuitability for the role of The Doctor and how he damaged the brand – but enough of that, been there done that over many years and many posts. The reason I bring Mr Smith up is one particular episode that was almost good, “The Lodger”; it didn’t really have a lot going for it Matt Smith and James Corden together, I ask you!! However, it was a bit of a gem, a fish out of water story, and the highlight (Apart from River Song) of a rather lacklustre Season 5.

The reason I brought “The Lodger” up is this months Fourth Doctor story “Suburban Hell”. On the surface they seem very similar, The Fourth Doctor and Leela trapped in a suburban 1970’s dinner party, Doctor Who meets Abigail’s Party – and for the first half of Part One this is just what we get – social situations. Belinda (for it is her party) moaning about not having any mayonnaise or her husband not making an effort – it’s less dinner party, more social lions den for our unsuspecting guests – Leela trying a Gin and Tonic is hilarious! For 15 minutes or so this story is fab; I could have listened to an hour of social awkwardness, of middle class aspirational middle England being invaded by the force of nature and anarchy that is Tom Baker, I really could. Unfortunately “Suburban Hell” had different ideas…

The cast are uniformly excellent, Katy Wix is wonderful as the hostess come monster (in a very human sense), Belinda, Annette Badland excels as Thelma (from over the road), and as always Tom is on form and Louise is effortlessly wonderful, completely alien, intelligent but not educated and complete instinct. Some of the best parts of the story are formed from Leela making social faux-pas, as I said earlier, if only the whole story was a satire on middle class England in the 1970’s – but it isn’t, it also has a plot regarding an alien invasion that has been in the planning for 40 years – yes dear reader, you guessed it – Time Travel is involved.

Unfortunately it’s Time Travel in a Moffat way, used as a cheat, as a magic wand, as a device to change the future. Now some may enjoy this, but I am more of the Hartnell camp – “you cannot rewrite History, not one line” alternate timelines are really not my thing and ruin what was shaping up (for 15 minutes) to be a bit of a gem. So the alien invasion plot has The Doctor trapped 40 years in the past with Thelma (from over the road) whilst Leela, Belinda and her friend Penny defend the house in a base under siege style story. Leela is really in her element here, taking over as the alpha female, thinking intelligently, rationally and defensively – she has honour and bravery to spare and actually inspires Belinda & Penny to help her (though Belinda seems more concerned about her fixtures and fittings being destroyed). Unfortunately, the plot seems a bit tired and very Nu-Who, or to be specific Moffat Who, and to use the oft used but cringe inducing phrase it has a “timey-wimey” resolution.

A great set up, a great premise which in this reviewer’s opinion could have been a great story, but the unnecessary aliens & time travel plot cheapened the story for me. So more of an own brand Mayo than a Helmans I am afraid 5/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Somewhere in a suburb of North London, there’s a crisis. More than a crisis, a positive disaster: Belinda and Ralph are expecting four for supper, and there’s no Marie Rose sauce for the Prawns Marie Rose. All in all, the evening couldn’t possibly get any worse…

Until the doorbell rings, bringing the Doctor and Leela to the dinner party. They’ve got a crisis, too – temporal ruckage has sent the TARDIS to another time zone entirely. Meaning they might have to endure a whole evening in Belinda’s company.

But the Doctor and Leela aren’t the only uninvited guests tonight. There’s a strange fog falling, out in the road. And in that fog: savage blue-skinned monsters, with dinner party plans of their own. Because it’s not Prawns Marie Rose on their menu – it’s people!

CAST:

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela),  Annette Badland (Thelma), Katy Wix (Belinda), Alix Dunmore (Penny/Acolyte), Raymond Coulthard (Ralph/Second Acolyte), David Ricardo-Pearce (Pete/Priest).

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES #3

image.php

Doctor Who Adventures #3 is set to materialise on planet Earth on 18th June and we’re getting ready to go Ood Crazy!

In Doctor In A Bottle, Clara opens a strange looking bottle and unleashes the power of the Djinx on the city of London. With the Doctor taking the Djinx’s place, imprisoned in a bottle, it’s down to Clara to save London from destruction. With glorious illustrations by Russ Leach and a full-on colour storm by John Burns, Doctor In A Bottle is a must for all Who fans!

FRIENDS OR FOES
We also access the TARDIS data core to find out all about the mysterious and enigmatic Ood.

CLARA’S CRAFT STUDIO
Next up, we join Clara in the Craft Studio and prepare for a party you will never forget as we show you how to make your very own Ood piñata, guaranteed to make your party go with a bang!

UNIT ALIEN ARCHIVES
The UNIT Alien Archives will give you all the lowdown you need should you come face to face with the Clockwork Droids on your travels! Whatever you do, don’t wind them up or you’ll be in trouble.

STRAX’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
Strax continues his guide to the galaxy as he introduces you to the delights of Gallifrey, the Ood-Sphere and Demons Run!

THE PATERNOSTER GANG INVESTIGATES
The Doctor makes a guest appearance in The Giant’s Heart, a Paternoster Gang story, which sees our heroes guarding a mysterious diamond in the Tower of London.

Also in this issue, you’ve got the chance to win a brand new Doctor Who Cluedo game, you’ll face brain-tingling puzzles and get to play Lost in The TARDIS! All this and much, much more!

Issue 3 comes with a Free Giant Poster and your very own Dalek Patrol!

On sale 18th June 2015, price £3.99

Thanks to Jason Quinn

Posted in Doctor Who Adventures | Leave a comment

DOCTOR WHO FESTIVAL EVENT THIS NOVEMBER

BBC Worldwide have announced a new event taking place at the Excel Centre in London over the weekend 13th-15th November 2015.

The official Doctor Who Festival offers fans of all ages an exclusive glimpse into the production processes behind your favourite programme, including talks and theatre shows with the current cast and crew.

Bringing together a wealth of talent from Peter Capaldi’s time in the TARDIS, the event promises guests a unique insight into the television industry, and the creative skills required to bring an episode of Doctor Who to you- with exclusive access to the people who make it happen, giving you the chance to get inside the adventure.

Events and attractions include:

  • MEET THE CAST: Your chance to attend a panel-led session which will get you closer than ever before to cast members from the era of the Twelfth Doctor.
  • MEET THE WRITERS: Hear from the experts who create the storylines of your favourite programme, led by Steven Moffat.
  • DRAMA SCHOOL: Have you ever wanted to know the techniques and secrets that actors learn for the filming of Doctor Who? Then this is for you!
  • LATEST FILM SET PHOTOS: Your chance to have a photo on the real series 9 film set.
  • COSTUME AND PROPS: The Doctor Who Festival will be home to a selection of costumes and props from the latest series, all for you to enjoy!
  • PRODUCTION VILLAGE: Your chance to explore a day in the life of the production team and crew.
  • THE FAN CHALLENGE: Test your Doctor Who knowledge in the Festival’s specially-themed fan challenges – choose from a traditional team-based competition for adults or an active multiple-choice challenge for younger visitors. Answer incorrectly and you will be eliminated!
  • OFFICIAL MERCHANDISE: A shopping village consisting of only official Doctor Who products including brand new ranges, plus BBC Shop.
  • COSPLAY SHOWCASE: Cosplayers can showcase their handmade Doctor Who themed outfits during the course of the Festival. Start designing your outfit!
  • PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: Is a photo of you and the Doctor missing from your collection? This is your opportunity to purchase an individual photograph of you with the current cast members.

As with the 50th Anniversary celebration event in 2013, there are two different tickets available for each day with different starting times. A third “TARDIS Ticket” is also available which includes preferential seating, access to the TARDIS lounge, an official t-shirt and souvenir brochure. The “Cyberman Ticket” events include British Signed Language for those who require it.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow, June 5th 2015, at 10am.

Check out the Doctor Who Festival website.

Posted in Doctor Who Conventions | Leave a comment

DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE #487

DWM487_COVER

THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF EARTH, FROM ITS BIRTH TO ITS DESTRUCTION, IS REVEALED IN DWM 487!

Planet Earth! It’s been attacked, invaded – even moved across the galaxy! Bu thanks to the Doctor, our world endures. Doctor Who Magazine tells the remarkable story of our planet and the many challenges it has faced…

ALSO INSIDE ISSUE 487…

  • AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN NATHAN-TURNER
    A revealing and previously unpublished interview with 1980s producer John-Nathan Turner, conducted during 1989 – the last year of Doctor Who‘s original run.
  • WHO ON VIDEO
    DWM reveals the history of how Doctor Who was brought to DVD, and talks to the people responsible for the landmark 1993 documentary 30 Years in the TARDIS. Plus, an exclusive look at some of the VHS covers that never were…
  • THE DALEK INVASION OF EARTH
    Discover fascinating new facts about the classic 1964 First Doctor adventure The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
  • VERITY LAMBERT’S SCRAPBOOKS
    DWM chats to Carole Ann Ford, who played the Doctor’s very first companion, Susan, as she continues her look through the scrapbooks of Doctor Who‘s original producer, Verity Lambert.
  • BLOOD AND ICE!
    Clara and the Doctor uncover a sinister secret below Antarctica as Blood and Ice – the brand new comic strip written by Jacqueline Rayner and illustrated by Martin Geraghty – continues…
  • STEVEN MOFFAT ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS!
    Showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers’ questions, and explains just why the Doctor can never seem to remember what happens when he meets himself…
  • PLUS! Reviews and previews; Relative Dimensions; Wotcha!; The DWM Crossword, prize-winning competitions, official news and much more!

Doctor Who Magazine 487 – with a special wraparound cover! – is on sale from Thursday 28 May 2015, price £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

DWM487_COVER FULL

Posted in Doctor Who Magazine | Leave a comment

REVIEW – LAST OF THE CYBERMEN

Last of the Cybermen coverThere is an oft used phrase in sport (or so I am told) “It was a game of two halves”, well, obviously yes it was; it is usual in most sports for some sort of half-time break. But stopping being so literal, I can see what this means; the quality, tone and general atmosphere had palpably changed between half one and half two.

This phrase is rather apt for Last of the Cybermen. Last months main range release introduced the idea of future Doctor’s being swapped in time with their former selves and having adventures with past companions a sort of “mash-up” as I described it last month; as I have used that phrase last month, I won’t be using it this month…

So Last of the Cybermen; the Second Doctor is displaced in time with the Sixth Doctor, he stumbles in to the TARDIS to meet an initially doubting Jamie and Zoe, but soon wins them round – after a punch up with Jamie! There are some stories that are good jumping on points for new fans, Talons, City of Death, Rose – Last of the Cybermen is not one of these. It is densely packed with almost 50 years of Cyber Continuity you need to know your Mondas from your Telos, your Glitter Gun from your blaster and your Tombs from your beacons – because this story in part at least tells the story of the last great Cyber War – the humans final assault on Telos armed with Glitter guns. But I am getting ahead of myself. I said earlier that this was a game of two halves, and boy it is.

The first half is almost a retread of Tomb of the Cybermen. The Doctor and his companions are taken to a giant Cyber beacon in the shape of a 500 foot high cyber head and set about opening up the way to the top for the icy cold Zennox (Lucy Liemann) logic gates, electrocutions, traps, counter traps leading too, well that would be telling. It’s very worthy, but in truth rather dull and very much a Tomb retread.

It’s in the second half that thing REALLY start to step up a gear. Set during the final assault on Telos with the Cybermen losing badly to the Humans who have discovered their weakness to gold and developed the Glitter Gun, this is where it really gets going. The stakes really are high, lives are in danger, the full horror of Cyber Conversion is visited, a victim is heard to say “I won’t give you the satisfaction of hearing me scream” before screaming in agony – truly horrific. Its a very clever plot, and unlike lots of TV episodes of Doctor Who that involve Time travel a) makes sense and b) does not cheat.

Colin is just wonderful as always as the Doctor, Frazer is belligerent as Jamie – but the star of this show is the one and only Nick Briggs, who plays not only the Cybermen, but a wonderful character called Lanky (spoilers if I tell you anything about him), so fab was the performance that I didn’t realise it was Nick until I listened to the special features. An interesting story, and again as with last month’s release a bigger picture with a Big Bad hinted at – who is it that is displacing The Doctor in time and why? Hopefully we will get some answers next month…

So, flat and slow for the first half, hitting the ground running and not letting up for the second half. Overall 7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

It’s been ten years since the final assault on Telos, the last act of the Great Cyber War. Thanks to the Glittergun, humanity prevailed – and the half-machine Cybermen were utterly obliterated.

Out on the furthest fringes of the galaxy, however, they left their mark – in the form of a giant Cyber-head, hundreds of feet high. A monument? A memorial? A tomb? The Doctor, the Cybermen’s most indefatigable adversary, sets out to investigate… but he fails to return to his TARDIS. Leaving the Ship, his two companions – brave Highlander Jamie MacCrimmon, and super-intelligent Zoe Heriot – find a stranger in the Doctor’s place. A stranger in a coat of many colours, who insists that he’s the Doctor – transposed in time and space with one of his former selves…

But why here? Why now? Has the universe really seen the last of the Cybermen..?

CAST:

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Wendy Padbury (Zoe), Lucy Liemann (Zennox), Kieran Hodgson (Findel), Nicholas Farrell (Captain Frank), Nicholas Briggs (Cybermen)

Written By: Alan Barnes
Directed By: Ken Bentley

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

REVIEW – THE WORLDS OF BIG FINISH

The Worlds of Big Finish coverIf I have one fault, (actually I have many), it’s that I tend to over-think things; follow this if you dare reader! …

In Jago and Litefoot Series 7, Sherlock Holmes is undeniably a fictional character; Messers H & L meet Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who is persuaded to write more stories; with me so far? Anyhow, The Doctor is a real character in the worlds of Jago and Litefoot, Talons, S4, Justice of Jalxar, they interact and have adventures together. Now, if Sherlock Holmes is fictional in Jago & Litefoot & the Doctor is real in Jago and Litefoot, how on earth is Sherlock Holmes real in Doctor Who? Glad I got that off my chest, answers on a tweet to @CouncillorEd.

So my preamble brings me to The Worlds of Big Finish – an epic story spanning aeons, told in six acts, each with a Big Finish hero taking the main role. From a galactic archive in the far future to Victorian London to the roaring 20’s, to modern London to Mars, to the planet Sisyphus 9 – it never lets up. This is Big Finish does The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Avengers Assemble – however, this is far far superior to either of these Hollywood offerings for two big reasons – and these should be the considerations for any writer – Number 1: The Characters, and Number 2: The Plot.

So the characters, and what a line up; all related in one way or another to the Doctor, so a genuine genre, spanning, franchise crossing spin off . Abby and Zara from Graceless, Sherlock Holmes, Dorian Gray, Iris Wildthyme, Vienna Salvatori and Bernice Summerfield – could be a crowded list, but they way the story is told is far far cleverer than this – really really clever indeed, in fact there is only a couple of cross overs with characters meeting (Dorian meets Holmes and Vienna meets Bernice) but all the stories are linked by a book, the most important book in creation called The History of Earth Vol 36,279 by Kronos Vad. The device of the book is not just a hook to hang the story on, it’s central to driving the plot onwards.

The epic begins with the Graceless Girls Abby and Zara visiting the Archive (think The Library in Doctor Who) to see an old friend, only they arrive thousands of years too late. People are being killed off due to a cult of “Gomegogue”, it is linked to a book – the book – The History of Earth, which Abby and Zara take back in time for safe keeping, leading to the Holmes adventure, which leads to the Dorian except, which leads to Iris, to Vienna and finally Bernice.

I feel like I should stop now, as I will utterly ruin the story for anyone by giving anything else away – but I can talk about the characters, so well drawn, so rounded. Abby and Zara first appeared in the Fifth Doctor Key 2 Time story, they are flirtatious, feisty and clever. Holmes is played by the fab Nick Briggs – it was my first experience of this version of Holmes and what an interpretation; an older, more world weary take on the great man, semi retired to keep bees, his mind is still as keen as it was but he no longer has the tenacity to pursue a case to the end he once had. I look forward to hearing more from Mr Briggs as Holmes – bought a few of the episodes in the promotion last week, and we have All Consuming Fire to come later this year – Holmes and the Doctor, now that is a crossover!

Alexander Vlahos is a revelation as Dorian Gray; this was my particular favourite section of the epic – dark and mysterious, Vlahos is a seductive, arrogant, braggart as Gray – a true “anti hero” but utterly compelling and (curse you big finish, my wallet hates you!!!) I have purchased the remainder of the Dorian Gray range based on this section alone.

What can you say about the lovely Katy Manning as Iris Wildthyme – as mad as a box of frogs, an intergalactic bag lady with a twinkle in her eye and a gin in her hand! This is the lightest in the series, and a good bit of well-earned comic relief after the first three doom laden episodes (Katy, I am not ignoring Iris in the buying of episodes, already had them).

Vienna Salvatori Bounty Hunter is sassy, sexy and tough as old boots, Chase Masterson plays her as a tough, no nonsense, businesslike, you would not mess with this lady, her section reminded me very much of an episode of Hustle, all casino’s, mob bosses, crosses and double crosses, again (curse you big finish, my overdraft will be growing by the second!!!) I have indulged in some of Vienna’s episodes.

Finally the one and only Bernice Summerfield – the greatest companion of the Doctor we didn’t see on TV; drunk, sarcastic, witty, stupendously intelligent (and holder of the Edward Watkinson chair of Archaeology at Dellah Univeristy, I will have you know!), her story brings all the threads together – the book, the “Gomegogue”, the prophecies – there are so many real “ahhhh” and “ooooh” & “oh that’s what that was!” moments, it’s brilliantly written, paced, edited, acted, and scored – the story is bigger than the sum of its parts – its a true epic that I wish we could see the like of on the BBC in their Doctor Who episodes.

Should you buy it? Absolutely yes, but be prepared to dip in to the worlds of all the other characters as well, get in touch with your bank and extend your overdraft – a great jumping on point for newcomers to the extended world spun-off from Doctor Who.

An epic and engaging 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

From the streets of Edwardian London to the corridors of a near-infinite library in the distant future, a single book holds the key to the fate of life on Earth.

Some believe it predicts our future – and the apocalypse – with unnerving accuracy. Others will stop at nothing to destroy it, and will chase it from one side of the universe to the other; from a country house in the Roaring Twenties to the casinos of Mars, and from 221B Baker Street to the terrifying desert world of Sisyphus IX…

Featuring Abby and Zara, Sherlock Holmes, Dorian Gray, Iris Wildthyme, Vienna Salvatori and Bernice Summerfield, The Worlds of Big Finish brings together some of Big Finish’s best-loved characters in an adventure spanning thousands of years!

This release includes a fourth bonus disc – Round the Worlds – where director Scott Handcock leads a roundtable discussion with writer and cast about this special adventure, plus a selection of outtakes from recording.

CAST:

Lisa Bowerman (Bernice Summerfield), Nicholas Briggs (Sherlock Holmes), Laura Doddington (Zara), Ciara Janson (Abby), Katy Manning (Iris Wildthyme), Chase Masterson (Vienna Salvatori), Alexander Vlahos (Dorian Gray)

1. Graceless: The Archive

Barnaby Edwards (Romulus Chang), Hugh Skinner (Lucian Theta-Singh), Lisa Bowerman (The Archive), David Menkin (Security Drones)

2. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Bloomsbury Bomber

David Warner (Mycroft Holmes), Michael Thomson (Alexander Korvo), George Rainsford (Albert Taylor), Katy Manning (Mrs Waters), Terry Molloy (Mr Robins), Barnaby Edwards (Alfred Vandermeer)

3. The Confessions of Dorian Gray: The Feast of Magog

George Rainsford (Evan Morgan), Rebecca Night (Pamela St John-Edwards), Michael Thomson (Alexander Korvo)

4. Iris Wildthyme: Kronos Vad’s History of Earth (Vol. 36,379)

Hugh Skinner (Captain Turner), Katharine Mangold (Jenni Marcel), David Menkin (Zack Hoffman), Barnaby Edwards (Mr Vandermeer), John Dorney (Bridge Controller)

5. Vienna: The Lady from Callisto Rhys

Rhys Jennings (Cage Zorn), Rosanna Miles (Magenta Dotrice), Rebecca Night (Lara Memphis), John Dorney (Rodrigo), David Menkin (Check-In Attendant), Katharine Mangold (Passenger), Terry Molloy (Driver)

6. Bernice Summerfield: The Phantom Wreck

Terry Molloy (Captain Quinn), Rosanna Miles (Selina), Rhys Jennings (Phillips), John Dorney (O’Neill), Katharine Mangold (Jenni Marcel), Barnaby Edwards (Romulus Chang)

This release includes a fourth bonus disc – Round the Worlds – where director Scott Handcock leads a roundtable discussion with writer and cast about this special adventure, plus a selection of outtakes from recording.

Written By: David Llewellyn
Directed By: Scott Handcock

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

REVIEW – JAGO AND LITEFOOT SERIES 9

jago-litefoot-9_image_largeWhen Victorian London becomes a comfort zone, what do you do? One idea is to move the action to 1960’s London – big tick, been there done that in Season 5 – so after the events of Series 8, our heroes take a well-earned break. They decide to go on a cruise – and so (ahem!)… My Lords Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce for your enjoyment, entertainment and edification, four tales of the ocean blue, of our daring two, of a cruise of the convivial, ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present… Jago and Litefoot Series 9!

So, four stories, but all very closely linked by a central mystery – taking our heroes away from London, Ellie and Sgt Quick really reinvigorates the characters, the comfort zone and support network are gone and they must make new acquaintances on the voyage in order to survive. Survive you ask? well, yes, as this being Jago and Litefoot this is no ordinary cruise.

Story One is called The Flying Frenchman – it sets the scene, introduces us to the crew and fellow passengers on the cruise, the ship is called the Fata Morgana and our heroes spend time making the acquaintance of fellow passengers, it’s actually quite slow and takes a while to get going, but then a fog appears, the ship stops and becomes becalmed, and they are all alone lost on the ocean. They send away rescue parties in boats, but they return minutes later, having been away for days according to the rescue parties. Soon food begins to run low, and then another ship approaches through the fog, another Fata Morgana from a point further on in time, and then things start to get really strange…

The adventure is a bit slow to get going, but really intriguing when it does and sets the scene of the central mystery of the story – what has caused the strange fog and why is it transporting the Fata Morgana to random locations…

HAYLEY’S THOUGHTS:

It may come as no surprise that my favourite classic series story is The Talons of Weng- Chiang, due almost entirely to the genius combination of Messers Jago & Litefoot – I say ‘almost’ because of the master that is Tom Baker! I’ve been eagerly awaiting Series 9 and the opening episode did not disappoint. I have initial reservations about stories set outside London and the Red Tavern; Ellie and Sergeant Quick feel as integral to the series as our fine protagonists. and the city has almost become the third star. However, new characters are always so well rounded and intriguing that you are immediately engaged and those aboard the Fata Morgana tick all the boxes. The story itself, to echo Ed, is a slow builder, setting the scene and introducing new temporary companions. Once the fog descends and envelopes all the tension builds and our taste for the weird and wonderful starts to become satisfied. Episode 2 had to be heard and as soon as possible…!!

__________

Story Two is called The Devils Dicemen and is my personal favourite of the set, it is very Jago-centric, you can see it coming a mile off, but it’s all the funnier for it. The Fog has deposited the Fata Morgana in Monte Carlo, Jago and Litefoot decide to visit a local casino, Jago thinks his luck is in as he and ships Purser Aubrey (Jamie Newall) have a winning streak at the casino, as Litefoot befriends Dr Betterman (David Warner). Jago & Aubrey are lured to the Dark Casino by the seductive Madame Diabolique (Miranda Raison) with hilarious and deadly consequences.

A joy from beginning to end, Jago is in full alliterative pompous poltroon mode, his vanity blinding him to the path he is taking, whilst Litefoot plays a quieter more cerebral role in investigating the Dark Casino from another angle. Top stuff!

HAYLEY’S THOUGHTS:

This episode felt detached from the first and took us in another direction, but where it took us was just as thrilling. We’re on our way to a casino, but so is Henry, and I think you can probably guess that our hapless impresario will find himself in deep water. An excellent episode with great characters that shows Jago at his buffoonish and brave best.

__________

Story Three is called The Island of Death, and basically does what it says on the tin – albeit a Jago and Litefoot shaped tin. The mysterious fog deposits the Fata Morgana on an island, we don’t know where it is, but our heroes decided to investigate – this is a very H G Wells style story, lost island, lost tribe, monsters, all excellent boys own stuff, which could be dull, but with our investigators of the infernal there is never a dull moment, Jago gets to practice his music hall hypnotism act in the most unlikely of situations, the story rattles along at quite a pace and finishes on a cliffhanger which leads us on to story four – oh corks!

HAYLEY’S THOUGHTS:

Michael Palin may well have written an episode of ‘Ripping Yarns’ like this one. You can see the cover of the novella – a French ‘Alan Quatermain’, a society damsel, mysterious savage islanders and the two very English gentleman. But what is the powerful force that terrifies and controls…?

__________

Story Four is called Return of the Nightmare, it brings together various threads from the three previous stories, what is the fog, how is it generated, why is there a murderous beast loose on the Fata Morgana and how can the situation be resolved? All these questions are answered back in London where our heroes team up again with Ellie the barmaid (Lisa Bowerman) and Sgt Quick (Conrad Asquith) to defeat the nameless horror that the fog brings – proper edge of your seat adventure with the usual banter and bonhomie, and finishes as always with a pint at the Red Taverna and a teaser to lead in to the next series…

HAYLEY’S THOUGHTS:

I know I said I feel slightly less enthusiastic about adventures outside ‘The Big Smoke’ (sorry), but I almost felt sorry when attention turned back to their stomping ground. I was getting used to life aboard the Fata Morgana, grim and unpredictable as it was. Having said that, the voices of Ellie and Sgt Quick made the return home all the more welcome and you felt that with them, a resolution was in sight. So we raced towards it, breathless and anxious, but not quite wanting the adventure to end.

__________

I loved this series, it was a little slow to get going, but once the first twenty minutes or so were passed, it didn’t let up – Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter are masters at work, their performances seem effortless – why oh why they were not given a spin-off series on TV I will never know – come on BBC, how’s about they meet up with the Paternoster Gang, just one scene, it’s not a lot to ask…

So, cruise of the convivial, voyage of the venerable and again another 10 out of 10 for Messers Jago and Litefoot.

HAYLEY’S THOUGHTS:

Too few episodes!! Yes I do know that sounds ungrateful but I listened to the series in one go, and after waiting so enthusiastically I felt it was over too soon. They certainly packed in a lot of real adventure, peril and humour and it is the best of the series away from their natural home; each episode was a joy. It was wonderful to hear the great David Warner as Dr Betterman in Episode 2 and I do hope they make more of the character in Series 10, which I am anxious to hear. So with that in mind I would like Big Finish to hurry it up a bit; we Jagoists and Litefootists, (for that’s what we are), just can’t wait.

__________

Written by Ed and Hayley Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Flying Frenchmen by Jonathan Morris

Jago and Litefoot embark on a cruise. It’s supposed to be a relaxing break, but what terrors lurk in the mysterious fog? And what about the other ships that seem trapped along with the Fata Morgana – are they friend or foe? Or something much more frightening?

The Devil’s Dicemen by Justin Richards

Arriving at Monte Carlo, Jago is keen to try his luck at the famous casino. But if he’s not careful he could lose a lot more than just money. While Litefoot makes a new friend, Jago and ship’s purser Aubrey find themselves playing for high stakes at the Clandestine Dark Casino.

Island of Death by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris

Arriving at a beautiful island, Jago and Litefoot discover evidence of a missing expedition. Can they discover what happened to the ship’s crew – before it happens to them? And will they be able to avoid the amorous advances of the formidable Lady Danvers?

Return of the Nightmare by Justin Richards

There is a murderer loose aboard the ship. If Jago and Litefoot can solve the mystery of the strange fog and return to London, will that make matters better, or far worse? The answers lie deep in the past, and they soon learn that not everyone is who – or what – they might seem.

CAST:

Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot), Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Conrad Asquith (Inspector Quick), Lisa Bowerman (Ellie), Jamie Newall (Aubrey), David Charles (Captain Mercer), Sarah Badel (Lady Isobelle Danvers), David Warner (Dr Luke Betterman), Miranda Raison (Madame Diabolique), Dan Starkey (Neville Tibbs), Anthony Howell (Victor Bataille), Jonathan Coy (Fowler)

Written By: Jonathan Morris, Justin Richards, Simon Barnard, Paul Morris
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Justin Richards
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment

REVIEW – THE KING OF THE DEAD

dwst0505_thekingofthedead_1417_cover_largeHalf an hour really isn’t a long time to tell a story, you have to be concise and frugal while creating a believable world. This months Short Trips does all of these.

The King of the Dead is the latest Short Trips release, bite-sized slices of Who, talking books told by one of the actors of the era. This months release is the fifth release of the year, so is a Fifth Doctor story, set between Earthshock and Time Flight, I assume this as Tegan is still trying to get home and there is no Adric. The TARDIS actually materialises in the right time in the right place for once, 1980’s London, so far so not typical – but they have materialised in the middle of the hottest ticket in town – The King of the Dead, an interactive play, partly improvised, partly acted, where the audience wear masks. This story is at the case of the chickens coming home to roost, of events years before that the Doctor wasn’t even party to effecting the here and now, it is a revenge story, a tragedy – a real study of the effect of loss and the establishments attitude to it, sometimes a stiff upper lip isn’t the best way to deal, sometimes there should have been another way.

Sarah Sutton really brings this story to life doing reasonable impersonations of Davison and Tegan – but the magic of this story is that even though it is so short, it pulls you in and genuinely involves and intrigues you so it seems longer than it actually is.

A very worthy addition to the Short Trips range, not quite a King, but definitely an heir apparent 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

When the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan arrive in 1980s London, they find the current hot ticket is The King of the Dead, an interactive theatre experience they’ve inadvertently become part of. The Doctor settles into his usual role – trying to save the day after discovering an alien presence – but it’s Nyssa who finds herself dealing with someone who is working from a different script entirely…

CAST:

Sarah Sutton (Narrator)

Written By: Ian Atkins
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Producer Michael Stevens
Script Editor Michael Stevens
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

Posted in Big Finish | Leave a comment