Philip_Hinchcliffe_presentsGolden ages are very hard to define. They’re very personal and sometimes objects of contention. And knowing what a passionate lot us Doctor Who fans are, it is very difficult to define a “golden age”, but as a rule of thumb it’s usually the one that was on when you were a child. It doesn’t just encompass the television era, but also your life stage – extraneous things like family, friends, job, music, nights out all form part of the zeitgeist of a golden age.

Take me for example, I have three golden ages of Doctor Who – in reverse order they are 3. The Russell T Davies era, just what the Doctor ordered, it coincided with being totally in love, becoming a parent, having a wonderful circle of friends, moving house, changing career and becoming politically active. 2. Season 25 and 26 – I was an A Level student and finally felt Doctor Who was being made for me and for my generation – it was deep, gutsy and morally ambiguous. Which brings me on to 1. The Tom Baker era, or as I like to call it: “my childhood”. One of my earliest ever memories of anything is the cliffhanger for episode two of Robot – over the next few years the original mad man with a box became my friend – I lived for Doctor Who, even running away from a friend’s birthday party to watch episode two of City of Death. My childhood ended on 21 March 1981 when Tom regenerated and the world seemed a colder and less friendly place. But what memories – and none more vivid than the ones I have of Pyramids of a Mars, Talons of Weng-Chiang and Robots of Death. My little nine year old self had no idea of producers, but those half remembered childhood viewings were all from the era of Philip Hinchcliffe, and this dear reader brings my nicely on to Philip Hinchcliffe Presents.

This box set gives us two new stories for the Fourth Doctor and Leela. Both written by Philip Hinchcliffe and adapted for audio by Marc Platt.

The first of these is “The Ghosts of Gralstead” a six part story – of all the alien planets and strange civilisations the Doctor has visited, none are more alien and dangerous than Victorian London. This is where the Doctor and Leela find themselves, drawn into a world of freak shows, faith healers, body snatchers and the Scrivener family, a family with a secret. This story beautifully captures the essence of season 14, Tom is a more alien, more grumpy and much less flippant character than the wise cracking loon he was to become later on and is not one to suffer fools at all.  He has a commanding presence that dominates every scene he is in, while Louise Jameson delights as always. She is just the most talented actress and a joy to listen to, every syllable she utters seems considered for maximum impact.

The story is really horrific, just the sort of thing Messers Hinchcliffe and Holmes delighted in serving up in their hey day, lots of death, destruction and a very black humour. Carolyn Seymour gives a chilling performance as Mordrega, the villain of the piece manipulating the weak willed Professor Scrivener, using his vanity and ambition against him, happily submitting to being a sort of “elephant woman” to achieve her aims.  It’s all good stuff with twists and turns in every episode although it is maybe an episode too long with episode five seeming like padding. A strong story and completely evocative of the era 9/10.

The second story in the set is “The Devil’s Armada”, a four part story. Again this is set in England’s past, this time in the Elizabethan era. An England of paranoia about witches and goblins and spaniards and Catholics. The Doctor and Leela find themselves caught up in this intrigue getting accused of witch craft, spying and heresy and I would have been happy had thus been a pure historical about witch trials and the Spanish Armada, but it includes a monster called Vituperon.  He looks like the Devil, can only be seen by those “gifted” and has a plan to take over the earth. It’s a shame as I found the inclusion of a monster the weak link in this story. There was enough content in the drama of the Elizabethan era, the intrigues and plotting of court and the sea battles, adding a monster seemed a bit obligatory. That’s not to say its a bad story, anything but!  It zips along from crisis to crisis as events overtake our heroes.  Tom gives a rousing speech to the privy council at one point which made me laugh and cheer in almost equal measure. If this was in a season it would be the inoffensive story that nobody dislikes but never really rated as a classic. 7/10.

So a great box set, really evocative of the era it represents, not a pastiche but a genuine continuation of a golden age written by one if the architects of that age 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Philip Hinchcliffe, acclaimed producer of Doctor Who (1975-77) returns to tell new stories for the Fourth Doctor and Leela.

“The starting point was there were a few basic ideas that were kicking around for another series, had we made it,” says Philip. “I thought this project would be fun to be involved with, and I’ve tried to and tell stories that are in the same spirit as the ones Robert Holmes and I were telling.”

The Ghosts of Gralstead (Six episodes)

The Doctor and Leela return to Victorian London, in the year 1860.

At St Clarence’s Hospital, respected surgeon Sir Edward Scrivener requires the bodies of the dead… At Doctor McDivett’s Exhibition of Living Wonders and Curiosities, miracles are afoot… And in Gralstead House, the ghost will walk again. Mordrega has come to Earth…

The Devil’s Armada (Four episodes)

The TARDIS lands in Sissenden Village in the sixteenth century. Catholic priests are hunted, so-called witches are drowned in the ducking stool, and in the shadows the Vituperon are watching… and waiting…

(Note that untypically for a Big Finish release, the extras disc is separately available as a Supplementary Download in a purchaser’s account, in order to reduce memory issues with opening the downloaded zip file)

The Ghosts of Gralstead
Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela) Carolyn Seymour (Mordrega), Gethin Anthony (Sir Edward Scrivener), Martin Hutson (Professor Cedric Scrivener), Emerald O’Hanrahan (Clementine Scrivener), Alan Cox (Dr Gideon McDivett), Ivanno Jeremiah (Abasi), Andy Secombe (Jonas Bulmer), Sean Carlsen (Ned Davey), Mandi Symonds (Mrs Targate), Andrew French (Obingo)

The Devil’s Armada
Jamie Newall (William Redcliffe), Nigel Carrington (Sir Robert Harney), Alix Dunmore (Anne Harney), Joe Jameson (Nicholas Harney), Beth Chalmers (Mistress Pincham/Lady Jane Mountville), Philip Bretherton (Vituperon), Ben Porter (Father D’Arcy), Tim Bentinck (Ned Bones/Lord Burghley)

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


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tombakerat80coverSome things are special.  Some things have that “something” that makes them stand out from the crowd. Sometimes the thing that is special is a person.  They have a unique quality, a warmth, a world view, a turn of phrase, a certain way of speaking that makes them a one off or a national treasure. Without a shadow of a doubt Tom Baker is one of these people.

His warm fruity tone is known worldwide and his delightful take on the world is a joy to behold. But how can Tom be 80? It only feels like yesterday I was watching him fight a Krynoid or larking about with a wig on in Stones of Blood, or being delighfully witty and oh so in love in City of Death, yet time catches up with everyone, and the great man himself turned 80 last January. In celebration of this milestone, Big Finish stalwart, all round nice guy and sometime Dalek Nick Briggs spent a couple of hours having a chat with Tom – the result is Tom Baker at 80.

Now, this could have been a cynical money spinner, Tom just trotting out the old anecdotes about building sites, Shirley Williams, bus queues and grave stones – but it isn’t, not at all, not one little bit. What we get is two hours of delightfully honest conversation, not really an interview, more like two friends discussing life the universe and everything.  There is a real warmth to Nick Briggs interviewing technique and Tom is on fabulous self depricating form dealing with such diverse topics as life, death, religion, the acting profession, his work and being the grand old age of 80 – but not necessarily in that order!

Tom really has mellowed over the years, yet his beautifully rich booming voice is still the same.  When he dryly states that “…I am known for my saintlyness on Rye high street”, or that on his deathbed he would like “…a glass of wine and a pork pie”, you know you are in the hands of a true one off, not forced faux eccentricity, just the real measure of one of the gaints of British TV.

This release truly is a gem, a delightful, almost magical way to spend two hours.  I paused it about 8 minutes before the end and left it for two days before I listened as I truly didn’t want it to end, yet it had to.  To be honest, I felt quite melancholy when the end music played, not because it ended on a downbeat note, but because it had ended at all. I could have listend to Messers Baker and Briggs for hours more on end – in the words of Eleanor Bron in City of Death – “exquisite, simply exquisite”, in my words – marvellous! 80 out of 80 – here’s to 10 years time when Big Finish release a Tom Baker at 90.

Written by Ed Watkinson


In January 2014, Tom Baker celebrated his 80th birthday.

On March 19th, Tom sat down with Nicholas Briggs to look back over his 80 amazing years – his youth, his early acting career, his great success with Doctor Who and beyond… and his return to his most famous role with Big Finish.

This candid and intimate interview forms two fascinating hours of engaging entertainment in the unique company of Mr Baker.

All copies of the CD version purchased before 3rd September 2014 will be signed by Tom.


Tom Baker, Nicholas Briggs (Interviewer)


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FRANK SKINNER – Mummy on the Orient Express guest star, and life-long Doctor Who fan – speaks about his role in the new series, playing Perkins.

“I don’t know how I’ll feel when they say, ‘And that’s a wrap for Mr Skinner,’” Franks admits. “I’m sure I’ll go through a mix of emotions. When footballers are in cup finals, the managers always say, ‘Savour every moment,’ and that’s what I’m doing. Every moment is ‘wowee’!”


  • Extensive previews of Episodes 5 to 8 of the new series – Time Heist, The Caretaker, Kill the Moon and Mummy on the Orient Express. DWM talks exclusively to writers STEVEN MOFFAT, STEPHEN THOMPSON, GARETH ROBERTS, PETER HARNESS and JAMIE MATHIESON.
  • Doctor Who showrunner STEVEN MOFFAT answers readers’ questions in his exclusive column.
  • DWM talks to BILLY HANSHAW, the man who inspired the brand new title sequence for this year’s series of Doctor Who.
  • DWM investigates the nature of ‘spoilers’ and asks if they really spoil anything?
  • Into the Dalek writer PHIL FORD talks about getting to know a Dalek from the inside out!
  • In-depth reviews the Twelfth Doctor’s first four adventures: Deep Breath, Into the Dalek, Robot of Sherwood and Listen.
  • As audio company Big Finish celebrates its 15th anniversary with an epic audio adventure, The Worlds of Doctor Who, DWM talks to its stars including COLIN BAKER, LOUISE JAMESON, LALLA WARD, CHRISTOPHER BENJAMIN, TREVOR BAXTER and JAMIE GLOVER.
  • The Doctor and Clara’s comic strip adventures continue in The Eye of Torment written by Scott Gray, illustrated by Martin Geraghty.
  • The Time Team comment on the 2008 Tenth Doctor adventure Turn Left.
  • Jacqueline Rayner finds unexpected inspiration for her Relative Dimensions column at the breakfast table…
  • A look back at August’s Doctor Who World Tour which saw PETER CAPALDI and JENNA COLEMAN travel round the globe to promote the new series.
  • The Watcher eloquently explains why Doctor Who belongs in the Autumn in Wotcha!
  • The DWM crossword, prize-winning competitions and much more!

Doctor Who Magazine 478 is on sale from Thursday 18 September 2014, priced £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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Listen will be shown this Saturday at 7.30pm on BBC One and BBC One HD.

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revengeoftheswarm_cover_largeSequels, I can understand their popularity with creators and consumers – the public like it so let’s give them more of the same. The flip side if this of course is that the very people that loved the original tend to criticise the sequel for not being as funny or as innovative or just plain as good as the original. It’s a quandary for writers.  Sometimes, very very rarely, sequels are better than the originals – Godfather Part 2, The Empire Strikes Back – but most of the time they are franchise killers like Ghostbusters 2 or a sequel too far like, (shudder), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

I ramble and digress as always, but I finally come to my point.  This months main range release from Big Finish – Revenge of the Swarm is a sequel to The Invisible Enemy.
Not the most awe inspiring starting point, even the most generous fan would rate Invisible Enemy as average, whilst received opinion is that it is a bit of a dud. But does the sequel breathe new life into the original story or will it be languishing at the bottom of Big Finish popularity polls just as it’s TV progenitor does in TV polls?

The story sees my favourite classic Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, make his first appearance in a Big Finish story since last December’s Afterlife, following on from that story he is accompanied by Ace and Hector played by Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier. Things start off pretty normally, Ace and the Doctor venturing out into the Titan base they have landed in, Hector, left behind in the TARDIS attempting to work some controls on the console, when a crackle go light discharges into him and “contact has been made”.  It seems that the residue of the Nucleus of the Swarm has been dormant in the TARDIS console since the time of the Fourth Doctor waiting…..

It seems like the Nucleus has been playing a very long game, and like the new series on TV this story involves time travel. But unlike the TV series, everything is locked into place and what will be most definitely will be. Nucleus of the swarm wants to ensure its own creation which in turn will lead to its universal domination.

The plot is pure “B-Movie” but done so well and plotted so tightly that this can be taken as a compliment.  In fact it could translate quite easily to the big screen as a summer blockbuster. Jonathan Morris has again delivered the goods when it comes to Big Finish – I have said it before and I will say it again, let him write for the TV series, he really is quite superb.

I make no secret of my love of the Seventh Doctor and McCoy really is on form here as devious and manipulative as he has ever been, but tinged with a compassion and vulnerability often missing.

Do I like it? Yes I do! Is it perfect? No, but it is very very good indeed AND it has made me want to watch The Invisible Enemy again – no mean feat there. In the end, it is what it is, a rip roaring space romp and as this it succeeds, it even has John Leeson back as the Nucleus of the Swarm and you don’t get much better than that!

Overall, contact has been made at 8/10

Written by Ed Watkinson


The Doctor thought he had defeated the microscopic Nucleus of the Swarm in his fourth incarnation. He was wrong. It survived within the TARDIS, and now it has brought it back to Titan Base, back to the point of its own creation. It has a plan that spans centuries, a plan which will result in the Nucleus becoming more powerful – and larger – than ever before.

To defeat it, the Doctor, Ace and Hex must confront the Nucleus within its new domain – the computer-world of the Hypernet, the information network crucial to the survival of the human empire. But if the Doctor is to save the day, he has to risk everything and everyone he holds dear…


Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Philip Olivier (Hector Thomas), John Leeson (The Nucleus of the Swarm/Computer), Mandi Symonds (Shafira), Maggie Service (Root/Receptionist), John Heffernan (Vonchef), Phyllida Nash (Professor Oksana Kilbracken), Siobhan Redmond (Talin), John Dorney (Lugerman), Paul Panting (Security Guard Brabbeko)


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zygon_hunt_cover_cover_largeZygon’s are perennially popular with Doctor Who fans, it’s a mystery to me why they took nearly 40 years to make a return to TV Doctor Who – a great design, a very well received story and an interesting race.

The last story in the latest series of audio adventures for the Fourth Doctor and Leela sees the Zygons making a comeback and getting a sequel they didn’t get on TV.

The action takes place on the planet Garros, a humid jungle planet where a bunch of arrogant soldiers led by Knight Commander Greg Saraton (played with sneering glee by Michael Maloney) are on a big game hunt, or, in reality, indiscriminately slaughtering the indigenous population for “sport” – but there is something in the jungle, something big and deadly and something that really shouldn’t be there at all…….

Again Big Finish have really cracked it with the atmosphere, the sound design is pure “season 15″, and whilst Who has often “borrowed” from classic Hammer, the first episode of this story reminded me very much of the 1972 Amicus Film “The Beast Must Die” – a lot of characters, the audience knows one if them is a monster in disguise, so do a couple of the protagonists, and it’s almost a race against time to uncover the Zygon.

The tone changes in episode two, it almost, and I stress almost becomes a traditional invasion story but has a strong sense of morality and a positive message that no one is beyond redemption as long as they have an open mind.

Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are as excellent as ever as are the guest cast, especially Gillian Kearney as Mina Challis – a character with genuine depth. The story finishes with a wonderful soliloquy by Tom Baker which rounds the season off quite nicely and leaves us wanting more.

After last months cerebral tour de force that was “The Abandoned”, this release is a lot more grounded and traditional. The Doctor and Leela arrive in the middle of a situation, get involved and help to resolve it. Traditional with a beginning, a middle and an end, tightly plotted and well acted and as good as this is, it may be just a little predictable – not that this is a bad thing but I tried to second guess it and got it completely wrong expecting plot twists and tangents that were not there, proof that sometimes over thinking and over complicating are not necessary when the story zips along like this one does.

Overall, I suggest that this is well worth hunting down 7.5/10

Written by Ed Watkinson


On the jungle planet Garros, Earth Forces Knight Commander-in-Chief Greg Saraton and his team are hunting gigantic beasts, for sport. When the Doctor and Leela arrive, they are caught up in a web of intrigue where there is no clear friend or foe.

What is Saraton’s vital connection with Earth’s Solar System’s Defence Shield? Why are the giant reptilian birds of Garros attacking? What terrible secret lurks deep within the trees?

Before the truth can be revealed, a heavy price will be extracted and loyalties will be tested to the limit.


Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Michael Maloney (Gregor Saraton), Gillian Kearney (Mina Challis), James George (Knight Commander Elunas), Steven Alexander (Knight Commander Ollerie), Nicholas Briggs (Baragor/Zygons/Knights)

Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs


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In the highly unlikely event there’s a sentient being left in the universe who doesn’t know… Series 8 of Doctor Who starring Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman begins tonight at 7.50pm on BBC One and BBC One HD.


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Peter Capaldi’s former The Thick of It co-star Chris Addison has told Radio Times that he will be appearing in the Doctor Who series 8 finale Dark Water/Death in Heaven, written by Doctor Who showrunner and head writer Steven Moffat.


Addison told Radio Times:

“Would you like to be in Doctor Who?” is the easiest question I’ve ever been asked. It’s a 35-year dream come true. Seven-year old me would be going off his nut and I’m not far behind. It’s a great way to spend a couple of weeks, working with people I’ve always wanted to work with on a show I’ve loved all my life. My bucket list is quite a lot shorter now.

The two-part season finale, directed by Rachel Talalay, also stars Michelle Gomez, Jemma Redgrave, Ingrid Oliver, Samuel Anderson and Sanjeev Bhaskar.

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fifthdoctorboxsetcover_cover_largeTonight I’m going to party like it’s Season 19 in ’82! is something that the artist formerly known as Prince probably didn’t sing. What did he care about a brand new series and a brand new Doctor? Well in 1982 I cared a lot. I was 10 and Part One of Castrovalva was broadcast the day before my tenth birthday. I can still remember the shenanigins it caused as it was on the same time as Coronation Street, this being pre VHS would mean either I or my Mum would have to miss out. The solution was simple, we would become a two TV household all due to Doctor Who, I can still remember the £49 black and white portable TV we got for upstairs from Rumbelows in Llandudno, which is where I watched my Monday night fix of Doctor Who throughout the Davison era. Happy me, happy Mum, happy times, until I was taken to watch a Panto in Liverpool the day episode two of Kinda was on. It didn’t go down well at all, but that’s another story…

This box set is a curious thing, it brings Matthew Waterhouse as Adric into the Big Finish family for the first time and it provides a bridge between Castrovalva and Four to Doomsday. It has two full four-part stories, Psychodrome by Jonathan Morris and Iterations of I by John Dorney, and another disc full of interviews. This box set raises a question – is it better to be faithful to the era or to tell a good story?

Psychodrome is of the former, incredibly faithful to the era, it has a “Bidmeadesque” feel to it, begins with a long TARDIS scene, has Tegan moaning about getting home, Adric winding everyone up, Nyssa being concilliatory and a newly regenerated Doctor still trying to work out who he is – so far so familiar – in fact it feels so familiar that if you close your eyes you are transported back to 1982. Okay, Matthew Waterhouse sounds a bit older, but the music is so evocative of 1982, and the plot feels very, well… 1982, for want of a better description. The TARDIS crew land on the Psychodrome and are split up and meet a very very strange yet familiar group of people, form a crashed ship, a Citadel and a Monastery. To reveal any more would spoil the story, but those with a keen mind should be able to work it out.

The problem I have with this story is also its strength, as a pastiche of the Bidmead era it is faultless, its just that I am not a fan of the Bidmead era, and just as I was writing this off as  a very well written story, but constrained by the limitations of the era, I began to think, well, the resolution made me think, as the resolution is NOT Bidmeadesque at all, the resolution is decidedly “nu-Who”, so maybe I had got it wrong and this wasn’t a pastiche but a parody of Bidmead. Listen for yourselves and make your own minds up, but overall I give Psychodrome 6/10.

So we come to Iterations of I, a completely different kettle of haddock, in fact its as different as you can get from Psychodrome in that its not at all like the Bidmead era, in fact listening to it put me in mind of Image of the Fendahl or Hide. It begins again with a TARDIS scene, but this time it has Adric trying to program the ship to get Tegan home, and he nearly gets it right, nearly… The TARDIS lands in Ireland in 1982 on a remote island called Flemings Island where people have been going missing, a Cult has completely vanished from the house, and islanders have fallen victim to an invisible yet deadly predator. This is gripping stuff, and you do get the feeling that the Doctor is completely out of his depth, fighting against a rising panic as the situation gets worse and worse. The “monster” is very very clever as well, I suppose it must link in to Bidmead’s love of mathematics to have a predatory sentient number as the villain! This story is paced excellently and you really do feel the threat level grow and grow out of the characters control. The cast are uniformly excellent, with special kudos going to Peter Davison who plays a Doctor not quite sure of himself and still very much under the shadow of his predecessor. A really excellent story let down only by a very rushed ending, which is a real shame. I give it 8/10.

The final disc is the “special features” where the cast and writers are interviewed about the project.

As a piece of nostalgia for season 19, this cannot be faulted, as a box set I give it 7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Psychodrome by Jonathan Morris

Shortly after surviving the perils of Logopolis, Castrovalva and the machinations of the Master, the new Doctor and his new crew could be forgiven for wanting to take a breather from their tour of the galaxy. But when the TARDIS lands in a strange and unsettling environment, the urge to explore is irresistible… and trouble is only a few steps away.

The world they have found themselves in is populated by a wide variety of the strangest people imaginable – a crashed spacecraft here, a monastery there, even a regal court. And not everyone they meet has their best interests at heart.

With the TARDIS stolen, and the very environment itself out to get them, the travellers face an extremely personal threat. They’ll have to work as a team if they want to get out alive… but can you really trust someone you barely know?

Iterations of I by John Dorney

The house on Fleming’s Island had been left to rot. Ever since a strange and unexplained death soon after it was built, and plagued with troubling rumours about what lurked there, it remained empty and ignored for decades until the Cult moved in. As twenty people filled its many rooms, the eerie building seemed to be getting a new lease of life.

But now it is empty again. The cult found something in its corridors… and then vanished.

Trapped on the island one dark night, the Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric look into the building’s mysteries, its stories of madness and death. Their only chance is to understand what terrible thing has been disturbed here… before it consumes them utterly.


Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric); Psychodrome: Robert Whitelock (Rickett), Phil Mulryne (Magpie), Camilla Power (Perditia), Bethan Walker (Javon); Iterations of I: Sinead Keenan (Aoife), Joseph Radcliffe (Jerome Khan), Andrew Macklin (Robert DeValley), Teddy Kempner (Donal Dineen), Allison McKenzie (Imogen Frazer)

Written By: Jonathan Morris and John Dorney
Directed By: Ken Bentley

Producer: David Richardson
Script Editors: John Dorney, Jonathan Morris
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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