BBC Books have announced that the upcoming novelisation of the Douglas Adams story City of Death will be released on 21st May 2015.

image.phpThe Doctor takes Romana for a holiday in Paris – a city which, like a fine wine, has a bouquet all its own. Especially if you visit during one of the vintage years. But the TARDIS takes them to 1979, a table-wine year, a year whose vintage is soured by cracks – not in their wine glasses but in the very fabric of time itself.

Soon the Time Lords are embroiled in an audacious alien scheme which encompasses home-made time machines, the theft of the Mona Lisa, the resurrection of the much-feared Jagaroth race, and the beginning (and quite possibly the end) of all life on Earth.

Aided by British private detective Duggan, whose speciality is thumping people, the Doctor and Romana must thwart the machinations of the suave, mysterious Count Scarlioni – all twelve of him – if the human race has any chance of survival.

But then, the Doctor’s holidays tend to turn out a bit like this.

Thanks to BBC Books

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equillbrium_cover_largeI like Prog Rock, (amongst other things), and when I heard of this month’s title, I couldn’t help but think of Rush and their classic album “Hemispheres”.

The entire side one of this album is a track called Cygnus X1 Book 2 – Hemispheres, and it is about the battle of the heart and mind for dominance in the shape of the battle of the Gods Dionysys and Apollo.  Balance is brought in the end by Cygnus and the final lyric is “Sensibility armed with sense and liberty with the heart and mind united in a single perfect Sphere” – balance, perfection, Equilibrium, the fusion of heart and mind for the good of all, moderation in all things. This is the type of story that I expected from Equilibrium; the cover gave it a fairytale feeling, the back cover blurb was reminiscent of Game of Thrones.  It had Annette Badland playing the Queen – surely she had to be the villain……?

Expectations are a funny thing; I thought I had Equilibrium worked out from the cover and the synopsis – how wrong I was, and how glad I was that I was wrong, because Equilibrium really is a bit of a gem.  It’s a genuinely sad, melancholy tale of a society in almost permanent stasis, complete Equilibrium, and the awful ends that the denizens of the realm of Isenfel go to, quite willingly, to maintain this. If this were a musical, it would have the feel of Kate Bush’s ‘The Sensual World’, heartbreakingly sad, sweet and melancholy, wistful and wintry.

The story is the second part of a new trilogy set in E-Space for the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough, and follows directly on from last month’s release Mistfall. Our heroes are on the trail of the Interface Stabiliser which allows them to leave E-Space when they are drawn to Isenfell, a world of Ice, not unlike Winterfell in Game of Thrones (minus the gratuitous nudity and violence!) The TARDIS sinks beneath the ice and the team seek assistance from Queen Karlina – Annette Badland playing beautifully against type as a world weary Queen, fulfilling her duty and bound to her fate, and what an awful task it is being a leader in Isenfell.  This is where the tragedy of the realm comes in – the world needs to be held in balance, no more than 1952 people must inhabit it, this is the number that can be sustained, enforced by The Balancer.  Now there are four new visitors, four residents of Isenfell must die to make way for them; this is the way it has always been, parents dying to allow their children into the world, brothers sacrificing themselves for sisters – but the most disturbing thing is the peoples acceptance of this.  This is how things are have always been and how they always will be.  It’s a fatalistic world view, and genuinely tragic.

With such a large main cast, sometimes not all are given a chance to shine.  This story has Turlough as the companion in the spotlight as he forms a bond with Inger, played by Joanna Kirlkland, a cold, haughty, no nonsense warrior Princess who loves hunting – their relationship is awkward but very natural. Also Sarah Sutton is given a great chance to shine in episode four, where she gives one of “those” New Who style speeches about the Doctor being wonderful and his impact on everyone he touches.

The ending is doubly sad because the resolution was always in the grasp of the residents of Isenfell, it just needed the Doctor to make them realise it. It is refreshing to have a story with no actual “villain” in the traditional sense and to have such a deep characterful story in the more technical Fifth Doctor run. It’s melancholy, moving and magical – I give it an Ice Meltingly fab 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Still looking for a way out of E-Space, the TARDIS crashes to Isenfel – a realm of snow and ice. Snarling beasts stalk the frozen plains, a feisty princess leads the hunt, and a queen in an ice palace rules over her loyal subjects.

But this is no fairytale kingdom, and everyone in Isenfel knows the price of survival. While Nyssa and Tegan uncover deadly secrets hidden in the palace, Turlough flees for his life across the tundra.

And as for the Doctor… he only ever wants to change things for the better. But in a world such as Isenfel, such a hope may not even be possible.


Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Annette Badland (Queen Karlina), Nickolas Grace (Balancer Skaarsgard/Viktor Skaarsgard), Joanna Kirkland (Inger), John Albasiny (Jesper), Ella Kennion (Romy)

Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley


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The BBC have announced that Michelle Gomez will be returning as Missy in the two-part Doctor Who adventure that will open series nine, The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, written by Steven Moffat.

Steven Moffat said:

Everybody hide – Michelle Gomez as Missy was an instant hit last year, so she’s straight back to plague the Doctor and Clara in the series opener. But what brings her back into their lives is the last thing they’d expect.

Michelle Gomez said:

Things have been a little beige since I left Missy behind, so I’m delighted to be putting my lippie back on. I’m positively dying to see The Doctor again!

The story also sees the return of UNIT and Gemma Redgrave as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart. The director is Hettie MacDonald who directed the Hugo Award-winning series 3 episode, Blink.

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4.02-the-darkness-of-glass_cover_largeSome things just feel right. The nail is hit squarely on the head, things come together and that something becomes bigger than the sum of its parts. For a lot of Doctor Who fans this describes the Hinchcliffe era, on the surface of it hammy Hammer rip offs, but containing a lot of disparate elements that made it so much better than it appeared on paper. Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Louise Jameson, Philip Hinchcliffe, Robert Holmes, and that manna from heaven, something that cannot be controlled, a very annoyed and morally outraged Mary Whitehouse giving the show lots of free publicity. Yes, in the Hinchcliffe era things just seemed to click into place, classic followed classic: Ark In Space, Genesis of the Daleks, Pyramids of Mars, Seeds of Doom, The Deadly Assassin, Robots of Death, Talons of Weng Chiang.  Then Hinchcliffe was replaced by Graham Williams and the quality fell… STOP RIGHT THERE!! STOP IT NOW!!! I think I was possessed by that terrible controlling spirit “received fan opinion” for a moment, let me come to my senses…..

Several minutes later I have performed an exorcism and come to my senses and normal Ed service has been resumed. Of course, Williams was every bit as good (in my opinion better) than Hinchcliffe, and the gothic stories didn’t go away – Fang Rock, Fendahl, Stones of Blood – the scope was bigger, the palate more varied, and it didn’t always work, but when it did, boy did it strike gold.

So back to this months release, The Darkness of Glass, it’s a Gothic story, it’s a supernatural story, it’s very Hammer, actually, its not, it’s very Amicus.  Where Hammer were very a cosy familiar troop, good old Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee – the Sid James & Bernie Bresslaw of Horror (and I mean that as a term of affection) – Amicus were far more disturbing, unpredictable and downright creepy, and his is exactly what The Darkness of Glass is.

It references Fang Rock, and is quite similar in many ways. The Doctor and Leela are trapped by a rising tide in a castle where a memorial is being held for the master of the magic lantern show, Mannering Caversham.  Caversham died a hundred years prior to the setting of the story in 1807 by blowing his own brains out to exorcise a demon – a myth, but in every myth there is some truth. 100 years later in 1907 – a group of his devotees are gathered to honour Caversham, and then, one by one, they begin to die, picked off by a mysterious unseen adversary.  Someone in the castle knows more than they are letting on; someone is there for a reason other than honouring Caversham; someone is there to bring back and try to harness the power Caversham died trying to stop.

Boy is this atmospheric, the cast are on top form! Tom & Louise give it there all and every one of the supporting cast are pitch perfect, playing upper class devotees of the art of the magic lantern. Special recognition must go to Sinead Keenan, an Irish actress who has the most incredible received pronunciation accent when in character as Mary Summersby.

I was completely captivated by the story, totally drawn in to the world and on the edge of my seat as the tension is ramped up and up. Tom is more like the grumpy Tom from the Hinchcliffe era, but there are a few ‘Williamsisms’ creeping, but they are not as blatant as in say The Romance of Crime.  And what can I say about Louise Jameson, effortless and utterly convincing – the delivery of her lines are just so visual. My only complaint that maybe it is a bit too short and the denouement is very quick, but the build up is just excellent.

Overall a bit of a classic, best Fourth Doctor Adventure (not counting the Gareth Roberts ones) since The Auntie Matter. 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Cut off from the TARDIS, the Doctor and Leela find themselves stranded on a small island.  But they are not alone.  It is 1907, and members of the Caversham Society have gathered on the hundredth anniversary of the death of Mannering Caversham, the greatest Magic Lanternist who ever lived.

But Caversham was also a supernaturalist who claimed to have conjured up a demon from the depths of hell. As people start to die, the Doctor begins to wonder if Caversham’s story might have more than a grain of truth in it. Can the Doctor and Leela discover what really happened to Caversham a century ago?  And if they do, will they live to tell the tale..?


Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Mark Lewis Jones (Professor Oliver Mortlake), Julian Wadham (Joseph Holman), Sinead Keenan (Mary Summersby), Rory Keenan (David Lacey)

Written By: Justin Richards
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs


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short-trips-little-doctors_cover_largeIs it February already? It really is. I can’t believe that the year is going by so quickly;  so as February rolls round so does another round of Big Finish releases.

First of these is the latest in the Short Trips range; its a second Doctor story called “Little Doctors” and is read by Frazer Hines.

The Second Doctor was always the most chaotic and most whimsical, he revelled in the chaos he caused like an overgrown schoolboy, running around, interfering and generally having a bit of a laugh – but what is the flip side to this; what is the result in the second Doctor’s interference, his sense of fun and joy? Little Doctors examines this, it looks at the aftermath of the second Doctor interfering where his interference isn’t needed, in fact we see the second Doctor flipped on his head, the usual happy go lucky giddy kipper is viewed from a completely different angle as an irresponsible, childish force of destruction.

In Little Doctors, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe arrive on the Earth Colony of Olympos – a bland and ordered place where everything is decided by the omnipotent guiding computer Zeus. The inhabitants of Olympus seem quite content living their mundane drab ordered lives, but the Doctor just can’t leave things be.

This is a very different story, very short at 32 minutes, but a telling look into the consequences of the second Doctor’s whimsy and anarchic attitude to the universe.  You see the second Doctor just can’t help himself interfering and trying to impose his world view on the colony.  He thinks that the residents need to be snapped out of their apathy and drab lifestyle, completely missing the point that they are actually quite happy living like this – the realisation that he has not done the right thing is very chilling and a fantastic scene.  Its a testament to Patrick Troughton that even nearly 50 years later that different facets of his Doctor’s character are being explored.

The story is read by Frazer Hines who does a cracking impersonation of Troughton.  He gives the situation warmth and depth with his reading and the humanity of his Jamie really does counterpoint in this story just how alien the Doctor can be, even the fun loving second Doctor.

Overall, a completely different take on the Second Doctor, and another worthy addition to the Short Trips range 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.

Release #2 is a Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe story.

The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe to a sophisticated Earth colony. Olympos is a world of hi-tech cities, where the lives of the populace are controlled by an all-seeing, all-knowing super computer: Zeus. When the Doctor sees how the human inhabitants have been robbed of the more simple pleasures, he sets out to bring real life back to the colony. But his mental connection to Zeus has some unexpected consequences…


Frazer Hines (Narrator)

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

Written By: Philip Lawrence
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman


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bfpgallcd18-_gallifreyie_cover_cover_largeI remember Hartnell saying the following phrase to Ian Chesterton, not sure what story it was in, it may be The Sensorites my memory gets a little fuzzy, but it was just so profound he said: “It all started out as a mild curiosity in the junkyard, and now it’s turned out to be quite a great spirit of adventure.” And boy how right he was, look at how from those humble beginnings at Lime Grove, tiny sets, tinier budgets but a vision and breadth of imagination that far outweighed any technical limitations. And as the show moved on, the legend grew, the brush strokes of creativity were on a pan universal scale.  We found out more about The Doctor and his people, Bob Holmes gave us The Deadly Assassin which was the template for all Gallifrey stories to follow and so the groundwork was laid for the Big Finish spin off series Gallifrey.

I must confess to not having heard any Gallifrey episodes before this one; six series missed and coming in on the seventh should have been a difficult jumping on point, but Gallifrey and its society are so familiar, it was like revisiting an old friend.

This is the Gallifrey of Robert Holmes, of President’s, Castellan’s, Coordinator’s, politics and intrigue. Romana is President- now in her third incarnation and played by Juliet Landau.  This Romana is both frosty and playful but with a more ruthless edged than her previous selves, and boy does she need to be.

This story is EPIC – spanning millenniums and universes and delving deep into Doctor Who and Gallifreyan mythology. It is told over four parts and I am sure it is no spoiler to say it deals with the return of Omega and the action is set on earth, Gallifrey and in Omega’s parallel reality.

An undercover cult “The Adherents of Ohm” are planning Omega’s return to this reality.  All the major players are involved, Romana, Ace, Narvin – and not everyone is who they seem. This is a very political story with plots and counter plots, and then there is Omega, played by Stephen Thorne – a bombastic blustering tyrant one moment, and a sad pathetic lost soul the next, so many layers to his character.

As I said, it’s epic, like The End of Time or Stolen Earth style epic, a real blockbuster and an ending that really does leave me wanting to hear more. It’s not perfect, it may be a bit too long and have too many peripheral characters, but at its heart it’s a rip roaring roller coaster ride leaving my wanting Gallifrey 8 to be released sooner rather than later. Overall 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Times change…

Romana is approaching her final term of office, and hopes to leave her world in a state of peace and harmony. Narvin is concerned about the implementation of a controversial Precog programme, one that seeks to predict the Time Lords’ future. Ace is an operative for the Celestial Intervention Agency, having learned the art of interference from one of the best…

And somewhere, across the stars, an ancient force is stirring: one of the Time Lords’ greatest heroes is returning to our universe. But he may also prove to be their greatest threat.

When the history of Earth is threatened, and an ancient conspiracy reaches the heart of Time Lord government, can even Romana’s closest allies truly be trusted?

Time will tell… but by then, it may already be too late.


Juliet Landau (Romana), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Seán Carlsen (Narvin), Stephen Thorne (Omega), Scott Arthur (Lukas), Gyles Brandreth (Rexx), Daniel Brocklebank (Tauras), Laura Doddington (Vale Endrogan), Rachel Atkins (Sol), Toby Longworth (Min), Andrew Pepper (Merkis)

Written By: Scott Handcock & David Llewellyn
Directed By: Scott Handcock


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Paul Wilmshurst, director of the recent Doctor Who episodes Kill the Moon, Mummy on the Orient Express and Last Christmas, explains the challenges of working on the series, in his first major interview….

“We were all very proud of the fact that the Mummy was so scary they wouldn’t put it in the series trailer,” Paul tells DWM. “It’s always about how far can you go? I think the old joke is true: how complicated can you make it to hold a child’s attention, and how simple can you make it for adults? Can you make it scary enough for the children to be satisfied, but not too scary for the adults to be worried?”


  • Doctor Who’s very first director, Waris Hussein, reveals how the classic 1964 adventure Marco Polo was made – with the help of unique documents unseen for 50 years!
  • Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat answer readers’ questions – including one from former showrunner Russell T Davies! – in his exclusive column.
  • Peter Purves, who played companion Steven Taylor in the 1960s, looks back at some of his most memorable adventures in the second part of an exclusive interview.
  • En garde! Discover fascinating new facts about the swashbuckling Fourth Doctor adventure The Androids of Tara in The Fact of Fiction.
  • DWM presents an exclusive prelude to the new series of books featuring Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, in the form of a complete short story by Andy Frankham-Allan: The Ambush.
  • Bernard Kay, the much-loved actor who appeared in four Doctor Who stories, is remembered by his friend Toby Hadoke.
  • The Doctor and Clara tackle both Sontarans and Rutans in the concluding part of The Instruments of War, a brand-new comic strip written and illustrated by Mike Collins.
  • The Time Team watch the Tenth Doctor take a bus to alien world, as they visit the Planet of the Dead.
  • Jacqueline Rayner demonstrates the fun to be had in spotting Doctor Who actors in other roles in Relative Dimensions.
  • The DWM Review assesses the very latest Doctor Who audio and book releases.
  • The Watcher examines the changing nature of history in Doctor Who, in the latest Wotcha!
  • The DWM Crossword, prize-winning competitions, official news and much more!

Doctor Who Magazine 483 is out on Thursday 5 February, priced £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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William_HartnellAn excerpt from a long lost interview with actor William Hartnell has been recovered by the BBC.

In August 1965 Hartnell, who was at the height of his fame as The Doctor, was interviewed by Roy Plomley on the Home Service radio programme Desert Island Discs.

The programme was thought to be lost, erased by the BBC, but now a 16 minute section has been recovered and will be made available on the BBC iPlayer. The recording was available to listen to for a short time earlier today but was removed until an official announcement is made.

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the-exxilons_image_largeJanuary is the month of new starts and resolutions, and nowhere is this more true than with the Big Finish releases. We have heard the first of the Gareth Roberts Season 17 pastiches, the first in a new trilogy in e-Space for the Fifth Doctor and crew and the first in a new series of adventures for the Fourth Doctor, Leela and K9.

January this year also seems like the month for sequels, two in one month, Mistfall follows up from Full Circle and The Exxilons follows on from Death To The Daleks.

I was lukewarm to the idea, Death to the Daleks was hardly a classic a tale of space marines, indigenous people and Daleks. Yes, it had scope, it made you think about the worlds beyond the planet of the Exxilons, the bigger universal picture, the plague ravaging the Earth colonies, but it was hardly groundbreaking, so it was with trepidation I started to listen to the Exxilons.

If you have seen “I’m Alan Partridge” you will remember his disastrous pitch to head of BBC Tony Hayers where Alan pitches a cop show called Swallow, his rationale being that regional cop shows are popular, so let’s make more of them.

I can imagine Nick Briggs pitching the Exxilons  in the same way – “well, death to the Daleks had a primitive indigenous population and a technologically advanced team of aliens landing on their world and conflict between the two; it was quite popular, let’s do it again” as Nick is politely shown the door.  He goes all Columbo and says “just one more thing” and it’s this “one more thing” that makes The Exxilons so much more than the sum of its parts or better than it looked on paper. You see the “one more thing” is playing with the audiences expectations and going off in a direction not at all expected in the second part of the story. Whereas we begin with a standard sci-fi tech vs primitives, we end on an exploration of what makes a culture act the way it does; what drives, what motivates, what gives a species its identity even if this is ultimately self destructive.

It’s a very deep story dressed up as a bog standard mid era Tom Baker story.  The drama is ably carried by the main cast, Louise Jameson in particular gives Leela a depth she was sadly lacking on TV.  Jacqueline King (Donna’s Mum on TV) was unrecognisable as Calura and Hugh Ross is oilily evil as Gethel, he is a great study in fanaticism and single mindedness.

So, I was pleasantly surprised with this release, much better than it looked on the tin, a much deeper and better story than its source material and a solid start to a new season, even the music echoes the original – overall I give it 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Planet E9874 supports a developing civilisation known as the Tarl. The peaceful, technologically advanced Locoyuns are helping the Tarl develop rudimentary technology. What could be more innocent than that?

When the Doctor, Leela and K9 arrive, they find the delicate balance in the relationship between the two cultures reaching an unexpected crisis point. The spears are flying and the threat of all-out war is in the air.

The Doctor must use all his guile to tread a careful path with Tarl leader Ergu, while Leela and K9 discover an ancient power of unimaginable strength which threatens to tear the minds out of its victims.


Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9), Daisy Dunlop (Trexa), Jacqueline King (Calura), Hugh Ross (Gethal), Tim Treloar (Ergu)

Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs


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dwmr195_mistfall_cover_largeI saw Muppets Most Wanted over Christmas, it wasn’t as good as the 2011 reboot, but in the opening song the Muppets refer to the fact that sequels are never as good as the original. It’s a rare occasion when they are – Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones, Terminator 2, Aliens, The Dark Knight, Superman 2 spring to mind, but usually we are in Ghostbusters 2 or Jaws 4 territory. Sequels should always be better than the originals, but very rarely are – what was fresh and innovative in the original is seen as tired and lazy in the sequel.  We want a sequel to be at once familiar, but retain the innovation that made the original so memorable. But what if the original isn’t particularly memorable to begin with?

This thought brings me on to this months main range release from Big Finish – Mistral, a sequel to the Season 18 story Full Circle. Season 18, oh season 18!  What can I say?  It was everything Season 17 wasn’t -  joyless, dry, ponderous, morose, and dull. Memorable, yes, but mainly because it was Tom Baker’s last season.

During season 18, Full Circle was commissioned by Script Editor Christopher H Bidmead, it was by new writer Andrew Smith, and is probably, with hindsight, the most memorable story of Season 18. It involved The Doctor and Romana arriving in E Space – a small universe outside ours, and trying to get back. They land on the planet Alzarius and meet Adric, they are also get involved in Mistral and the evolution of the Alizarin people from spiders to Marshmen to human like Alzarians.

Mistfall is a direct sequel and the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough are sent back into E Space, and again land on Alzarius during Mistfall. Its approximately 300 years after the events of Full Circle and the New Alzarian’s led by Decider Lana Merrion (played by Jemma Redgrave) are back on Alzarius collecting specimens of dormant Marshmen to study them and map their evolution,  but there is a saboteur who wants the expedition wiped out at all costs.

It’s a very 1980’s story, the recreation of season 20 is spot on, from the pacing of the story to the eerily accurate incidental music. If you close your eyes you could see the guest cast in beige jumpsuits with big 80’s hair and over made up eyes, its that evocative.  It’s also evocative of the era in that it’s a very dry story, not dusty dry, but quite stiff and worthy, a lot more Bidmead than Adams, but then again reminiscent of the era.  Also true to the era the TARDIS team are split up and for the majority of the story with The Doctor & Tegan taking part in one series of events, and Nyssa with Turlough in the others.  The stories dovetail at there denouement as they did on TV and things are wrapped up quite neatly with a nice cliffhanger for the next in the trilogy. The main cast slip back into their roles effortlessly, it’s almost second nature to them.  Jemma Redgrave is fab as Decider Merrion, she seems to be only just keeping things under control, one step away from a breakdown – leadership seems an effort to her, the villain of the piece is (no spoilers) a bit panto, but no more than the way the Master was portrayed in this era.

So is it better or worse than Full Circle? Well, neither really;  its like a direct continuation and seems like part of the same story, it is written by Andrew Smith, so if anyone knows Alzarius it’s him.

It’s a bit too Sci Fi for me; very worthy and a bit preachy, but if you are a fan of the Davison era, its a perfect pastiche of season 20.

When the Mist Clears on Mistral, I give it 7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Drawn off-course, the TARDIS passes through a CVE into a closed universe – a hugely improbable event with a tragically obvious cause. In order to escape inescapable E-Space, the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough are forced to venture in the wilds of planet Alzarius.

But they’re not the only unwanted visitors to this strange world. A Starliner has landed, captained by Decider Merrion – but why would Merrion risk rousing the Planet that Slept, and the monsters in its marshes?

Mistfall is coming. The Marshmen are coming. But while Nyssa and Turlough find themselves caught in the open, in the hands of fanatics who model themselves on the legendary Outlers, the Doctor and Tegan discover that the supposedly secure Starliner affords them no protection from monsters both within and without…


Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Jemma Redgrave (Decider Lana Merrion), Nigel Carrington (Pik Solus), Emily Woodward (Fem/Citizen Arana), Paul Panting (Drell/Marshleader), Matthew Carter (Yan Fara)

Written By: Andrew Smith
Directed By: Ken Bentley


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the_english_way_of_death_cover_largeI do like a good pastiche (and also a nice pasty) and no one does a season 17 pastiche like Gareth Roberts; he is the Ginsters of Doctor Who in a manner of speaking.

To me, season 17 was the peak of the Tom Baker era. I love the sense of unrestrained silliness, the scope and ambition. I would take Tom’s goggling eyes when the TARDIS console explodes complete with comedy noises in Nimon over Pyramids of Mars any day – not to everyone’s taste I know but I rate madcap over morose on every count.

So, The English Way of Death, the recipe is something like this:

1.Take one part Adams, one part Williams
2.Add a dash of Tom and Lalla
3.Mix in a bit of 1930′s social comedy -  Mapp & Lucia or Jeeves & Wooster will do nicely
4.Liberally combine Zombie cliches
5.Filter through Gareth Roberts writing talents, novelise
6.Let it simmer for 20 years or so to gain legendary status
7.Pass on to Big Finish to adapt
8.Sit back, relax, enjoy.

As I said in my review of The Romance of Crime, Roberts really has hit in a winning formula, and The English Way of Death is no exception.

Set in the 1930′s, the Doctor just wants to return some overdue library books but he Romana and K9 get caught up in a plan to destroy the world. It’s an upper class world of colonels, bridge clubs, manners, appearances and “silly ass” upper class twits that we enter – straight from the worlds of P.G Wodehouse or E.F Benson and the Doctor fits in just fine.

It’s a complex plot, all to do with gaseous entity Zodaal, a sentient smell (no really) who wants a new permanent body. It can split its will and possess humans, hence the Zombies who in true to form cliche all want to eat brains!

Add to this people from the future who are using a time corridor to the 1930′s and joining the upper class; chief of these is Percy Closed – how he chose his name is a great joke, think Ford Prefect like in Adams Hitchhikers Guide. The cast are universally excellent, Tom steals it, he is zany, silly, funny but also the man everyone defers to. Terrance Hardiman is wonderfully arch as Stackhouse, the businessman possessed by Zodaal.

The whole thing is very visual, evocative of the time period in which it is set and reminiscent of the era in which Tom and Lalla were on screen. It’s  delightfully silly, very arch with really only one foot grounded in reality.  This is a cliched take on both 1930′s comedies of manners and Zombie movies but the tone makes it work. The cast seem to be having a whale of a time! In James Bond terms this is more Moonraker than Goldfinger, but me being me, I take the double taking pigeon any day.

Another triumph for Big Finish, maybe not quite as stratospheric as Romance of Crime, but a great romp and I rate it as 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


The Doctor, Romana and K9 arrive in 1930s London to return some overdue library books. They plan to take a rest after their recent adventures, but Romana detects a distress signal from the future and the Doctor is attacked by a suffocating green mist.


Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9), Terrence Hardiman (Stackhouse), Derek Carlyle (Orlick), Richard Braine (Percy Closed), Abigail McKern (Felicia), Annabel Mullion (Julia), Mark Bonnar (Porteus), Tim Bentinck (Colonel Radlett), Andrew Bone (Woodrow), Jane Slavin (Harriet)

Written By: Gareth Roberts, adapted by John Dorney
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs


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the_romance_of_crime_cover_largeHow does a story become that much sought after thing “a classic”? What separates The Talons of Weng Chiang, City of Death, Human Nature, Inferno, The Curse of Fenric, Fathers Day and The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords from their contemporaries? What makes them stand out? What makes the general viewing public remember “the one with the maggots” but not “the one with the giant ants”? I wish I could answer the question, it would put me up among the gods of Who writing. If only you could distill and bottle that certain “something” that beautiful coming together of the elements that raises a story from enjoyable to timeless.

Back in the 1990′s one man managed to do this; that man was Gareth Roberts – and this month Big Finish are giving us the best antidote for post Christmas blues that money can buy – audio adaptations of Gareth’s classic season 17 pastiches.

Ahhh, season 17 – Tom at his madcap buffooning best, Lalla Ward, haughty, sexy and playful with a mind like a razor, the not Leeson K9, Douglas Adams, Graham Williams, Daleks, Scaroth, Erato, Mandrels, Nimon – SHADA! And also Gareth Roberts.

Roberts novels were fully formed pastiches of season 17, the essence of this most magical classic era season dripped off the pages, it was like Roberts had been possessed by the ghosts of Williams and Adams – and now dear reader, you can hear these stories brought to life.

The first of these is “The Romance of Crime” – everything in the production oozes class; Tom is silly, Lalla is haughty, Leeson sounds like Brierly – he really does- his voice has been treated somehow – it’s so authentic.

The adventure takes place on penal colony The Rock of Judgement where criminals are executed by particle dissemination, but as our heroes find out, the dead sometimes do not stay dead.

So far, so season 17 – but there’s more, a female villain, Zais is resurrected due to the vanity of artist to the condemned, Miranda Raison plays her with a camp glee, that is so in keeping with the era, it’s almost a parody. Marcus Garvey plays Frank Spiggot (even the name is funny) a hapless investigator who seems to care more about being reunited with “Angie and the kids” than solving the case. Michael Troughton plays court artist Menlove Stokes who’s ambition far outstrips his talent, but he gets some great one liners – and the AND THEN, just when you think it can’t get any better, Zais accomplices Charles & Edward Nisbett turn up accompanied by The Ogrons.

You know how Moffat made Sontarans brilliant with Strax? Roberts has gone one better with the Ogrons, they are hilarious! There is a great scene with Tom offering a jelly baby to one, another with Lalla commanding them to let her enter the Nisbett’s ship, and another where Nisbett tries to explain to an Ogrons that everyone hates him and his brother, and another….. You get the idea, it’s real laugh out loud funny.

Tom gets all the best lines, going from loopy wise cracking bohemian to serious scientist on the fly, he has never been better (apart from maybe in actual season 17).  This really is something special. I could go on and on and on about how good this is and it is; it’s Talons Good, it’s Blink good, it’s City of Death good, it’s Romance of Crime good.

If I could score it higher than a 10 I would, I have been listening to big finish for 15 years, and this is one of the very very best and it would be a crime to give this any less than 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Romana and K9 to the Rock of Judgement; a court, prison and place of execution built into a rocket-powered asteroid. When involved in an investigation by the system’s finest lawman, they find they must seek answers to some disturbing questions.


Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9), Graham Seed (Pyerpoint), Miranda Raison (Margo/Xais), Phil Mulryne (Shom, Hogan, Ogron 6), Marcus Garvey (Frank Spiggot), Michael Troughton (Stokes), James Joyce (Zy, Ogron 5, Barman), Joshua Silver (Charlie Nisbett), John Dorney (Eddie Nisbett/Ogrons), Jane Slavin (Blakemore, Bailiff, Librarian)


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Anthony-AinleyFantom Publishing have announced plans to release a biography of Anthony Ainley, the actor who portrayed the Doctor’s rival Time Lord the Master during the 1980′s.

Although known to an audience of millions the world over for his portrayal of The Doctor’s arch nemesis The Master in Doctor Who during the 1980′s, Anthony Ainley had a prolific career which encompassed starring roles in Spyders Web and It’s Dark Outside, as well as appearances in renowned dramas such as The Pallisers, Elizabeth R, Nicholas Nickleby, Upstairs, Downstairs, and cult films including Blood On Satan’s Claw and The Land That Time Forgot.

But the dramas in Anthony’s real life were far more fascinating than any of the many parts he played on screen. Born the illegitimate son of actor Henry Ainley, and taken into care at the Actors’ Orphanage at the age of four, the hidden story behind one of Doctor Who’s most enigmatic characters is brought to life by author Karen Louise Hollis.

Using exhaustive interviews with friends and colleagues from every aspect of Anthony’s life, including his best friend from school, fellow children from the Actors’ Orphanage, cricketing friends, colleagues, and those who remained close to him until his death in 2004, this book aims to uncover the real Anthony Ainley – The Man Behind The Master.

The book is available to pre-order now.

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A documentary following last year’s Doctor Who world tour will air this Friday at 7pm on BBC Three.

'Doctor Who' TV series premiere, Cardiff, Wales, Britain - 07 Aug 2014

The world tour took place last August, beginning in Cardiff, and visited cities including London, Seoul, Sydney, New York and Rio.

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monthlyshort-trips_cover_largeNew year, new monthly range from Big Finish. Well, not a totally new range, but a new range for me to wrap my reviewing ears around, if you see what I mean.

Flywheel Revolution is the first story in the fifth run of Short Trips – but what are Short Trips? Well, they are short stories read by an actor, like an old fashioned talking book. They are not full cast epics, just short interludes told by one voice over one episode. Fittingly enough, it’s a First Doctor story and is read by Peter Purves, written by Dale Smith.

Despite being short and self-contained, the world building is wonderful and the characterisation second to none. The story takes place on a scrap heap where old robots are sent – through the narration images of a vast junkyard zone were conjured up, in my minds eye I saw the deserted earth from the Disney Film “Wall-E”. The robots are afraid of a new arrival to their world, a monster that steals old parts and fashions them into new abominations.  The monster has a name – he is The Doctor.

This is a lovely story, it’s great to see the Doctor through the eyes of the robots.  He is seen as a sinister grave robber, a Doctor Frankenstein cobbling together parts from dead robots, a figure of fear, until he befriends the robots and helps them to figure out how to escape their fate…

Peter Purves is fab here, injecting the story with pace and heart, his impersonation of William Hartnell is spot on, as are the descriptions of his facial expressions , manner of speaking, and words he would use.

As I said, short story, but big on character, heart and world building, a great first release of 2015, more like this please 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


On a planet in the far future, Frankie and his fellow robots have been consigned to the Scrapheap, doomed to explore no further than the limits of the artificial Wall. Life goes on, day after day – until a monster appears in their midst. It lives alone in a small hut on the edge of Scrapyard, and scours at night for the remains of dead robots. Frankie sets out to confront the monster in its lair. Its name? The Doctor!


Peter Purves (Narrator)

Written By: Dale Smith
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman


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194the_rani_elite_cover_largeDoctor Who thrives on change and renewal, sometimes because an actor or writer or producer has left for pastures new, sometimes for a sadder reason, the death of an actor.

When Kate O’Mara passed away in March 2014, she was in negotiations to reprise her role as The Rani – scripts had been worked on, and then, tragically she passed away. Her agent contacted Big Finish and said that they had Kate’s blessing to recast The Rani, and so The Rani Elite was back in production.

But who could take over the role from the iconic Kate? The name Siobhan Redmond probably wasn’t on many fans lists as possible new Rani’s – but sometimes things are just right, and in this case the casting is inspired – Siobhan Redmond is superb.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Now then dear reader, episode one is free, download it HERE and have a listen.

All downloaded, IPoded (is that a word?) and listened? Good, then I will continue…

As you will have heard, The Doctor and Peri arrive at CAGE, a prestigious University where The Doctor is being awarded an honorary degree in Moral Philosophy.  The Doctor smells a rat and begins to investigate – students are having complete personality changes for no apparent reason and it all seems linked to Professor Baxton, in reality a new regeneration of The Rani.

So, what is she like? Different than Kate O’Mara, not camp or arch, but recognisably still The Rani, charming, sultry and calculating, utterly in control and utterly amoral and very very dangerous. She IS The Rani.

As the plot progresses we discover that she was actually expecting the Seventh Doctor, and she muses with glee over how she will eventually cause Old Sixie’s regeneration.

The plot is very dense and complex, and uses AGAIN the much overused Big Finish trope of a Mindscape/Matrix/Virtual Reality – it works in the context of the plot, but we are seeing it very often (2 out of the three last stories).

Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are just fab, but really the show stopper is Siobhan Redmond, a great new start for The Rani and a fitting tribute to the much missed Kate O’Mara and the character she brought life to. I hear that The Rani will be making a return in the next year or so and my breath is duly bated for this rematch.

Not quite Elite, but definitely Dangerous or Even Deadly (1980′s gamers will get the reference) 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


The TARDIS arrives in the CAGE – not a trap, but the College of Advanced Galactic Education, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in colonised space.

Not a trap. Or is it?

The Doctor’s here to receive an honorary degree in Moral Philosophy. But there’s something rotten at the heart of the Medical Facility. Someone is operating on the students. Someone without a conscience. Someone with access to a Sidelian Brain Scanner – a technology that hasn’t been invented yet.

That someone is the ruthless Time Lord scientist known as the Rani – in her new incarnation. But will the Doctor and Peri recognise the Rani’s hand before her trap is sprung?

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Siobhan Redmond (The Rani), Andrew Bone (Vice Chancellor), Becky Wright (Lizzo), Mike Noble (Miklev), Charlie Morton (Reev)

Written By: Justin Richards
Directed By: Ken Bentley


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an_ordinary_life_cover_largeAs great historian L P Hartley once said: “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there”.

As Jon Pertwee once said: “There is nothing more frightening than finding a Yeti on your loo in Tooting Bec!”.

Both quotes really capture how I like my Doctor Who, familiar, earthbound, yet uncanny and different. Classics for me from the old series are the historical epics of the Hartnell era, the earth invasion stories of Troughton and Pertwee – seeing Cybermen marching down the steps of St Paul’s really brings it home and makes it real far more than any space opera or alien world.

When Russell T Davies took over as show runner, and many fans bemoaned the lack of “alien worlds”, I celebrated the horror and oddness put back into the familiar, loved the juxtaposition of the mundane and the other worldly.  For me nothing was more enthralling than seeing the Doctor in familiar setting, places I had been – Cardiff now became Doctor Who central, you could actually go and see the Torchwood Tower and many other locations, it made the show much more real, much more grounded, much more relevant and much more believable.

This months early adventures falls in to this category. It’s familiar yet odd, heartwarming yet horrifying, but has a great sense of hope. The story is set in the Hartnell era, slap bang in the middle of The Dalek’s Masterplan. The First Doctor, Steven Taylor & Sara Kingdom are dragged to earth in 1950’s  London the TARDIS is malfunctioning and locks them out – the Doctor is in a bad bad way, barely able to walk and rambling; they are freezing cold in the depth of winter, and then, they are taken in by Joseph Roberts and his family and given shelter in his home.

Joseph and his family, niece Audrey Newman, her husband Michael Newman and baby daughter Josetta are immigrants, come over to the UK from Jamaica to seek out there fortune, they are outsiders, viewed with suspicion, even hatred by the indigenous population, yet kind and loving and willing to help our heroes in their hour of need.

The 1950’s really are alien, recent enough to be familiar, but completely alien in attitude.  Prejudice is rife, and this is seen through the prism of Joseph Roberts, his dignity in the face of adversity and his belief in the goodness of humanity is a joy to listen to. Race and belonging is a strong theme for this story, and whereas Ace railed against the racism of the 1960’s, Steven & Sara’s reaction is somewhat different, its total bewilderment and lack of any concept of racism, they cannot comprehend why humans dislike other due to skin colour or origin – such things just do not exist in their time.

The story is very true to the Hartnell era – he isn’t in it for two episodes! He vanishes at the end of episode one stranding Steven and Sara in the 1950’s, leaving them to live an ordinary life, paying rent, working, cooking, fitting in.  Steven befriends Michael and stands up for him when he is racially abused at work and he really gets some great lines and his common human decency really shines through. Being a Doctor Who story, there is an alien threat, but this really is secondary to the social study which is at the heart of the story.  It is very Invasion of the Body Snatchers, duplicates infiltrate and take over, and doesn’t really get going until the end of episode two.

The story ends with a great punch the air speech from The Doctor (imitated very well by Peter Purves) in the style of his “one day, i shall come back” speech – this one concerns immigrants as pioneers building a better future for Britain – its really stirring and a great mission statement for the Doctor.

This really is my sort of story, great performances from the regulars and supporting cast, with a particular nod to Peter Purves as Steven and Ram John Holder as Joseph Roberts.

Matt Fitton has given us really well crafted snapshot of 1950’s Britain with a Doctor Who twist, the story may be called An Ordinary Life, but this is an extraordinary story – overall 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


1950′s London: newcomers arrive daily on British shores seeking a fresh start, new opportunities, or simply the chance of a different life. However, some are from much further afield than India or Jamaica…

After an emergency landing, the TARDIS crew must make the best of it, and look to their new neighbours for help. But the Newman family has more than the prejudices of the time to contend with. A sinister force grows in strength amid the pubs, docks and backstreets of London…

And without the Doctor, marooned in a time and place as alien as anything they’ve ever encountered, Steven and Sara may well face their greatest challenge yet. To live an ordinary life.


Peter Purves (Steven Taylor/Narrator/The Doctor), Jean Marsh (Sara Kingdom), Ram John Holder (Joseph Roberts), Damian Lynch (Michael Newman), Sara Powell (Audrey Newman), Stephen Critchlow (Billy Flint)

Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley


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highest-science_cover_largeThink of contentious topics among fandom. Apart from the “classic v new” or “my favourite Doctor is better than yours” one that really gets fandom all hot under the collar is the topic of CANONICITY.

Before becoming involved in organised fandom in the early 1990′s I had no idea what was and wasn’t considered “canon”. Doctor Who stories were just that – Doctor Who stories, the format was irrelevant. I had no idea how wrong my opinion was…

You see, at the time I was enjoying the continuing adventures of Doctor Who in its brave new format – books, stories too broad or deep for the small screen – Virgin’s New Adventures. It was June 1993 that I went to my first meeting of the (now defunct) North Wales local group armed with my copy of David A McIntee’s White Darkness, I was going to meet other fans and discuss the seventh Doctor, Ace and Bernice’s latest adventure, or so I thought…

It started badly, I was a new member and was quizzed on “who’s your favourite Doctor?” – without realising I was committing a cardinal sin, I piped up “Sylvester McCoy”  – silence, a few sidelong glances, smirks and one look of outright horror, but I made it worse – “I absolutely love the New Adventures, way better than the TV series, so much depth and Bernice Summerfield is my favourite companion”. I’m not sure if the looks I got were pitying or contemptuous or that I may be some sort of Star Trek fan double agent trying to undermine the group, but the conversation stopped dead, and then a voice said “but they’re not canon”. “Not Canon” the first, but definitely not the last time I would hear this, apparently everything on TV was “canon” and not TV = not canon and by definition lower than a cockroach!


I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now, the New Adventures were and are the continuing adventures of the Seventh Doctor, and Bernice Summerfield is one of the greatest companions.

So imagine my joy when Big Finish started to adapt the New Adventures for audio, Love and War was a classic, it introduces Bernice, loses Ace and sets the Doctor on a new path. The latest release is an adaptation of The Highest Science. It has the distinction of being the first story written by TV writer Gareth Roberts and contains many “Robertsisms” that have become staples of his TV stories.

So the plot – on the planet Sakkrat, the Doctor, the Chelonians, Sheldukhur and the survivors of the 08:12 are embroiled in a search for The Highest Science. The Doctor has been led here by a Fortean flicker, a sort of coincidence generator, (think the improbability drive in Hitch Hikers and you will be on the right track). The Chelonians are inept, warlike bionic tortoises intent on wiping out humanity, Sheldukhur is a master criminal, the most evil man in the universe and he wants The Highest Science for his own means.

It’s part quest story told from different angles, part buddy movie, part mind bending sci-fi romp and has the best use of an Argentinean telephone directory ever, and the line “reports of my breath have been greatly exaggerated”, it’s very funny, Benny gets all the best lines including the aforementioned phone directory joke.

The most interesting character is “Cell” a single cell organism which has been grown over 300 years, developed vocal chords and attempted to grow human organs and is key to the whole mystery. The problem I have with this adaptation is one of tone, it’s silly – nothing wrong with silly, I LOVE silly, but it isn’t silly enough. It has its dark and serious moments that seem at odds with the tone of the story.  Sheldukhur is an odd character, not quite camp enough to be a super-villain, but not serious enough to be a threat.  Yes he does some awful things but they seem an afterthought.

It works well as an adaptation , however, I wonder why the Bubbkeshake addiction Benny suffered in the novel has been cut?

It’s quite a complex story, driven by coincidences and all wrapped up quite nicely.  Unfortunately the whole thing feels like froth, more of a Masque of Mandragora than a Talons of Weng Chiang – perfectly serviceable but not that memorable.  It has some great lines and fab larger than life characters including comedy aliens that pre-date Strax by 18 years, but not quite a classic.

So more of a GCSE Science than Highest Science 7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


The Highest Science. The pinnacle of knowledge and a terrible weapon. A legend – nothing more.

Sheldukher. The most wanted criminal in the galaxy. Evil to the core and hungry for power, whatever the cost.

The Chelonians. A vast military power, pledged to eradicate human parasites wherever they are found.

The Doctor. An ancient and wise Time Lord tracking a temporal fluctuation that endangers the universe itself.

Some things should never meet, but as Professor Summerfield is about to discover, the universe is full of coincidences.


Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Lisa Bowerman (Bernice Summerfield), Sinead Keenan (Rosheen), Daniel Brocklebank (Sheldukher), Sarah Ovens  (The Cell), Rehanna McDonald (Hazel), James Baxter (Rodomonte), Tom Bell (Fakrid/Jinka)

Producer Cavan Scott
Script Editor Cavan Scott
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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Jenna Coleman, who plays the Doctor’s companion Clara Oswald, gives a revealing interview about her time so far on Doctor Who…

DWM asks Jenna if the Doctor and Clara can finally move on in their relationship – and after the sacrifice of Danny Pink, can things ever be the same again? “I think so,” Jenna says. “But they are a bit addicted to each other, and to the dynamic that they share. It’s getting so that one can’t go without the other, and I think that’s definitely what Clara’s realised. In a way that’s quite dangerous now, because she realises that there is no going back for her…”


  • Rachel Talalay, director of the 2014 series finale two-part finale, reveals the secrets of how Death in Heaven was brought to the screen.
  • Peter Purves, who starred as companion Steven Taylor in the 1960s, talks in-depth about his time on Doctor Who.
  • Discover fascinating new facts about the acclaimed Seventh Doctor story The Greatest Show in Galaxy in The Fact of Fiction.
  • Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat answer readers’ questions – including the knotty problem of the Doctor’s many wives! – in his exclusive column.
  • Writer David Fisher, who wrote three memorable stories for the Fourth Doctor in the 1970′s, revisits his work.
  • The Doctor and Clara face Sontarans and Nazis as The Instruments of War continues, a brand-new comic strip written and illustrated by Mike Collins.
  • Sarah Jane and the Brigadier are reunited, as the Time Team watch The Sarah Jane Adventures: Enemy of the Bane.
  • Jaqueline Rayner wonders how the Doctor’s companions would get on in the Cubs in Relative Dimensions.
  • Last Christmas is put under the spotlight in The DWM Review.
  • The Watcher considers the many surprising ways that Doctor Who stories can change from script to screen in Wotcha!.
  • The Watcher gives the answers to his Fiendishly Festive Christmas Quiz! How well did you do?
  • Have your say on Peter Capaldi’s first series as the Doctor in the DWM Season Survey.
  • The DWM Crossword, prize-winning competitions, and much more!

Doctor Who Magazine 482 is out on Thursday 8 January, priced £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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