REVIEW – THE WELL-MANNERED WAR

20141003090044well-mannered-war_cover_largeSometime less is more, or so the saying goes – what does this mean I ask myself? I suppose it ties in with the other saying “always leave them wanting more” – give just enough to make your point, to be remembered but do not under any circumstances do an encore. The classic example of this approach is Fawlty Towers – it ran for twelve episodes over two seasons, yet almost every part of every episode is memorable, quotable, and indelibly imprinted on the British Psyche – be it Manuel’s Rat, Basil doing his Nazi goose-step, Basil beating the car up, the Kipper and the corpse – I could go on, but most, if not all readers here will have some memory of Fawlty Towers, some classic moment that left them longing for more. The opposite I suppose is “more is more” over egging the pudding, having too many returns that diminish the original, stand up Only Fools and Horses, a perfect ending in 1996, and then brought back for three lacklustre specials that really tarnished the classic reputation of the earlier episodes.  Which brings me in my usual roundabout way (normal service has been resumed after my Damaged Goods review) to The Well-Mannered War, the latest adaptation of Gareth Roberts Season 17 pastiches.

I adored The Romance of Crime, my review is HERE, and rather enjoyed The English Way of Death too, and was eagerly anticipating this one. Hmmm, less is more, more is more – I am torn.  This one is long, very, very long, but not really epic. It has all the Gareth Roberts, Douglas Adams-isms, it’s very witty, laugh out loud funny at times and Tom especially throws himself into the role of the boggle-eyed loon of season 17 with gusto. So the plot, and it is a rather good premise too – in the far future the planet Barclow is the stage of a very strange war between humans and Chelonians, a very well-mannered war in fact, a war in which a shot has not been fired in anger, where the protagonists are friends, where a tea lady walks between the lines with her trolley (tea is free, but snacks come with a charge!).  So far, so Adams, and it is it really is – but what is the purpose of this war and what purpose does it serve? This story is like the proverbial onion, layer after layer after layer after layer. And therein lies the problem, its just too involved, too weighty and too confusing and there are so many characters that it really is difficult to keep up with the narrative – a story that involves the war, an election, the return of Menlove Stokes (he of Romance of Crime fame), a rather vile enemy, an age old plot to trap said enemy, ANOTHER enemy and a cliffhanger ending – yup, this one really does have the kitchen sink (not literally).

What about the performances? there are a lot of them, Tom is wonderful as always, Tim McInnerny is a very good Admiral Dolne leader of the earth forces and his tone fits in with the whole “season 17-ness” of the production, but there are so many characters in this story, they seem to get lost.  It’s a great cast, John Glover, Michael Troughton, David Troughton, Hamish Clark and in a shorter story they would have all shone as brightly as Tom. It really does betray its roots as a novel, and is very true to the novel, but as an audio it is a little off kilter. Not a bad audio by any means, just could have done with being about 45 minutes shorter to give the story a sense of urgency which unfortunately it lacks. So Well-Mannered, Well-meaning but better well-read than well-listened on this occasion. 6/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The edges of space, the far distant future, an era even the Time Lords are not supposed to visit.

Laid claim to by disputing factions of humans and Chelonians, the planet Barclow has become the catalyst for an unusual war. In two hundred years of hostilities not a shot has been fired, and the opposing combatants are the best of friends.

But when the Doctor, Romana and K9 arrive, they discover the peace is not going to last. Something dangerous is happening behind the scenes. An election looms. Bodies are piling up. Tensions are growing. Someone, somewhere is trying to make this well-mannered war very angry indeed.

Only the time-travellers can save the day. But that might be their biggest mistake.

CAST:

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9), Tim McInnerny (Admiral Dolne), Jon Glover (Jafrid), Michael Troughton (Menlove Stokes), Gunnar Cauthery (Viddeas), Jane Slavin (Cadinot), Russell Bentley (Seskwa), Hamish Clark (Fritchoff), John Banks (Harmock), Elizabeth Rider (Galatea), Jessica Claire (Liris/Newsreader), David Troughton (The Black Guardian)

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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STEVEN MOFFAT YOUTUBE INTERVIEW

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat interviewed by youtube channel Brilloxians, owned by his son Louis.

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DOCTOR WHO: PRODUCTION UPDATE FOR THE NEW SERIES

A production update on episode six of the next series of Doctor Who from producer Derek Ritchie.

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PLAYER PIANO DOCTOR WHO THEME

Composer/Pianist Sonya Belousova and Director Tom Grey celebrate over 50 years of Doctor Who by paying tribute to it’s iconic theme.

Download the music HERE.

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REVIEW – DAMAGED GOODS

damaged-goods_cover_largeThere is nothing more moving than a story about people -character driven, real life, real situations, people we know, characters we recognise – these characters could be our family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, thrown into a world of adventure, of danger, of loss and of heartbreak.

This is what Doctor Who is to me and in the 1990’s, I felt it was being made for me – even though it wasn’t on the TV. Virgins’s New Adventures were “my” Doctor Who. Then, one day in October 1996 New Adventure 55 was released, it was called Damaged Goods and was written by Russell T Davies, and Doctor Who was never quite the same again.

Russell T Davies, THE best thing to happen to TV Doctor Who since Sydney Newman decided it might be a good idea to have a family show on a Saturday evening. Russell T Davies, the man who made Doctor Who the institution it is today, who resurrected the old unloved classic and made it shiny and new and loved again by a new generation. Russell T Davies who wrote Damaged Goods.

But I am getting ahead of myself, for once I am not giving you all a huge preamble about the situation before getting on to the story – but this story just doesn’t need it, it it quite simply THE greatest Doctor Who story in any format, knocking aside Human Nature, City of Death, Inferno, The Invasion & Talons of Weng Chiang – it is THAT good.

So, Damaged Goods, whats it like? Well, imagine if Doctor Who had been resurrected in the 1990’s as a Channel 4 Drama, late night, gritty edgy, dangerous but very real. At the heart of it, its a story about loss and longing, about two tragic women and the separate need to be loved and to have someone to share love with and the awful extremes that sort of desperation leads to.

It’s dripping with atmosphere, each of the two episodes starts off with a narration setting the scene before crashing into a fab new arrangement of the theme tune, symphonic and bombastic, like a 1990’s Murray Gold.

Damaged Goods is set in “The Quadrant” a run down council estate and tower block in 1987, dressed in the inner city nightmare of Thatcher’s Britain, this is a place of contrast, of drug dealers, protection rackets, loan sharks but also a sense of good and of community. Into this come the Seventh Doctor and his two companions Roz Forrester (Yasmin Bannerman) and Chris Cwej (Travis Oliver) on the trail of a new drug that has hit the streets called Smile.

Smile is being distributed by the horrific dealer known as The Capper, selling it cheap to get a market and ruthless with those who double cross him. As I said earlier, at the heart of the story are two women Winnie Tyler (Michelle Collins) and Eva Jericho (Denise Black) – pause for a second, Denise Black is a stalwart of RTD’s programmes, she was chilling in Cucumber, why was she never in TV Doctor Who – unpause – Winnie is from the Quadrant, Eva is from a privileged background, yet their stories are linked in a real Jacobean tragedy, a tragedy begun with a terrible bargain struck one cold Christmas Eve…

Everything about this story oozes class – the scripting, the pacing, the characterisation, the acting, the music – oh the music – its mournfully brilliant very melancholy and light and wistful. the story also has some intriguing future continuity…

You can see how Damaged Goods was a template for the TV version of RTD Who, real characters, urban setting, human tragedy, but this is the full hit Channel 4 late night style rather than prime time BBC1. Damaged Goods inhabits the same world as Doctor Who, but also the same world as Queer as Folk, The Second Coming and Cucumber. It’s Doctor Who from the world of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, of Bleasdale, but also Alan Bennett – it has a lot of pathos, mainly provided by the character of David (Daniel Brocklebank) a young gay man in a horribly homophobic era, it also has a lot of hope for the future amongst all the death, deprivation and despair David stays true to himself and grows as a character and his inherent goodness is rewarded. It’s a small glimmer in a sad story, but shows that while there’s life, there’s hope.

I cried when it ended, cried for Winnie, Eva, cried for the victims of The Capper and cried because maybe, just maybe Doctor Who will never be THIS good again.

I don’t need to say any more, just buy it, if you never ever listen to a word I say again listen to this – actually, you could win a copy – our friends at Big Finish have three copies of this masterpiece to give away to Planet Mondas Members, details are HERE.

A masterpiece, pure and simple, its just thanks from me to RTD, Big Finish, Jonathan Morris and all the cast involved in making it, giving it a score is meaningless, it needs to be heard to be believed.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The year is 1987 and there’s a deadly new narcotic on the streets of London. As part of their investigations the Doctor and his companions Chris and Roz move into the Quadrant, a rundown housing estate. An ancient alien menace has been unleashed, a menace somehow linked to a local gang leader known as The Capper, a charmed young boy called Gabriel and his mother Winnie, the enigmatic Frei Foundation, and Eva Jericho, a woman driven to the brink of madness.

As London descends into an apocalyptic nightmare, the Doctor must uncover the truth about the residents of the Quadrant and a desperate bargain made one dark Christmas Eve.

CAST:

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Travis Oliver (Chris Cwej), Yasmin Bannerman (Roz Forrester), Michelle Collins (Winnie Tyler), Denise Black (Eva Jericho), Georgie Fuller (Bev Tyler), Tayler Marshall (Gabriel Tyler), Richard Hope (Harry Harvey), Daniel Brocklebank (David Daniels), Peter Barrett (The Capper), Robert Duncan (Mr Thomas), Damian Lynch (Scott Delaney)

Written By: Russell T Davies, adapted by Jonathan Morris
Directed By: Ken Bentley

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – SHORT TRIPS: THE GHOST TRAP

dwst0504_theghosttrap_cover_largeDoes anyone remember The Smiths? Surely you must do!  The apex of 1980’s alternative NME culture, Morrissey, Marr and the other two that no one remembers. I liked the Smiths in the 1980’s, which was odd, because I was (and still am) a card carrying Metal Head. My peer group mocked me for it, but I saw nothing wrong in a C90 (remember them?) cassette with Powerslave by Iron Maiden on one side and Meat is Murder by the Smiths on the other.  I was breaking an unwritten musical taboo – Metal & NME Music do not mix!  To me, good music was good music, and Morrissey’s mournful lyrics were every bit as powerful as Bruce Dickinson’s operatic hystrionics!! So the Smiths, they had a song called ‘Sweet and Tender Hooligan’, and a particular lyric from that song came into my mind whilst listening to The Ghost Trap – the lyric was “in the midst of life we are in death etc” because this story really is about that, it’s about Death.

Doctor Who has had its fair share of deaths over the years, but never really a story ABOUT death and dying – but this story is; it’s relentlessly grim and downbeat, mournful even.

The Doctor and Leela materialise on a deserted spaceship owned by the Hihmakk who are a secretive race of space mariners whose navigation skills make them the envy of the galaxy.  The ship is deleted, there crew are dead, but the ship has a symbiotic relationship with its crew and is in its final death throes. As they become separated & explore the ship, the Doctor and Leela are drawn further and further into the horror of the situation and have to come to a horrible decision – sometimes the Doctor cannot save everyone, sometimes he cannot save anyone…

Read by Louise Jameson, this is a short story, brought to life by her wonderful injection of tone and pace.  Louise makes it all so visual – I saw a dark “Gigeresque” organic ship, like a more industrial Zygon ship, a depressing, cold place full of memories and possibilities. I have said it before & I will no doubt say it again, but Louise is a joy to listen to.  She injects even the most bland scene with a sense of pace, colour and urgency – she really brings a downbeat story to life. So a story that really is about death, handled expertly by Louise Jameson.  A downbeat, thought provoking interlude of a story that at 30 minutes does not outstay its welcome.  Not really my cup of tea, but well written and brilliantly performed, and it got me listening to The Smiths again – overall 7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Responding to a salvage team’s distress call, the Doctor and Leela arrive on a crippled space ship. Its owners, the Hihmakk, are a secretive race of space mariners whose navigation skills make them the envy of the galaxy. The salvage team are long dead, but their last log entries speak of a spectre stalking the ship’s halls, picking them off one by one. When the pair become separated, Leela must fight for survival whilst the Doctor seeks to understand the nature of the ghost…

CAST:

Louise Jameson (Narrator)

Written By: Nick Wallace
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – THE ENTROPY PLAGUE

dwmr197_entropyplague_cover_largeWhen I think of Doctor Who, I don’t automatically think “bleak”, its just not a word that springs to mind or that I associate with the show. Heartbreaking maybe; sad sometimes; downbeat – perhaps – but never bleak.

Bleak is a very powerful word – a word I associate more with David Lynch, The Walking Dead, Survivors, but never Doctor Who – you see, bleak to me means an absence of hope, and hope is something that The Doctor brings in seemingly endless quantities, even Genesis of the Daleks had a little hope to it. And then along comes this month’s release – The Entropy Plague and the word bleak has never more been more spot on when describing a story. We are talking death of hope, betrayal, loss, regret. We are talking Doctor Who if it was written by Thomas Hardy and scored by Gavin Briers; but as bleak as it is, its a great story…

It isn’t the sort of story I would like to hear every month, but sometimes it does the soul good to suffer with the characters, and suffer we do. Spoilers follow so read on at your peril…

The story is framed by a much used plot device of the characters relaying events to another character, in this case The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough take an episode each to narrate the tale to Nyssa’s son Adric.  They explain what has happened to Nyssa – you see Nyssa is stuck forever in E-Space, never again able to see her children, and this is the story of how it happens.

From the outset we know Nyssa is doomed and there is an air of all prevailing dread going through the story.  E-Space is dying, the universe is contracting, entropy is increasing, people and things are quite literally falling apart as the Universe fails, yet in all this there is one way out back to our Universe, on the last planet in E-Space, Science Tech Palmister has a gateway, a CVE which lets people out.  The price is high though, a human life, as human life force is the only way to stabilise the gateway. As you may well imagine, it’s not the happiest of places, the mass of refugees, chancers, criminals and hopeless all want a way out and with food and warmth scarce, the Doctor as always tried to find an amicable solution to the situation.  He is completely out of his depth here.  We are talking Androzani levels of out of his depth.  He is like King Canute shouting at the tide to turn back, and the funny thing is, I think he knows it and sometimes his mask slips. On screen, Davison was never one of my favourites, on audio he excels, giving a performance here that eclipses all his TV episodes.  He does barely in control amazingly well, but he really isn’t in control at all.  Time is running out and not everyone can live this time.

It’s a very very powerful story, a story of endings and death and despair, but also filled with a lot of love and compassion – brought to us by Sarah Sutton in a barnstorming performance as Nyssa. Nyssa knows, she knows that she has to stay in E-Space for the sake of all creation, she makes a choice that the Doctor cannot make, reminiscent in many ways of Adric hopping back on the Freighter in Earthshock, but more moving because of her reasons behind it – and as the coda to the story proves, life will find a way.

So, bleak, but ending with a glimmer of hope – proving that in the most dark of hours, there is always a sliver of light. And its this glimmer of hope that really sums the story up, awful things happen, but an ending can also be a beginning, and so the Doctor’s second foray into E-Space ends; he has lost a companion but what wisdom, if any, he has gained remains to be seen.

A fabulously acted, very “visual” audio, with a doom laden atmosphere.  A bit too long perhaps but maybe I am being too picky.  A fitting end to a trilogy and a fitting end to Nyssa’s second stint as a companion 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

A Great Darkness is spreading over E-Space. Entropy increases. In search of a last exit to anywhere, the TARDIS arrives on the power-less planet of Apollyon, where the scientist Pallister guards the only way out – a mysterious portal. But the portal needs power to open, and the only power Pallister can draw on is the energy contained within the molecular bonds of all living tissue…

The Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough soon learn that neither Pallister nor his ally, the space pirate Captain Branarack, will stop at murder to ensure their escape. But they’re not the only menace on Apollyon. The Sandmen are coming – creatures that live on the life force; that live on death.

Death is the only way out into N-Space. Death, or sacrifice.

But whose death?

Whose sacrifice?

CAST:

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Catherine Skinner (Cherryanne), Robert Duncan (Pallister), John Voce (Branarack), Alistair MacKenzie (Robots)

Written By: Jonathan Morris
Directed By: Ken Bentley

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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DOCTOR WHO AT BIG FINISH – LICENCE RENEWED TO 2020

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Big Finish Productions is delighted to announce that it’s licence from BBC Worldwide to make original Doctor Who dramas on audio has been extended until 31st March 2020!

The continuing Big Finish adventures of the classic Doctors, companions and enemies will continue for the next five years.

Executive producer Jason-Haigh Ellery, said:

Last year saw Big Finish celebrate 15 years of producing new Doctor Who audio drama. sA fantastic milestone for our company. I am delighted to be able to announce that our license has now been extended to 31st March 2020. We are very much looking forward to producing at least another five years of adventures with the Doctor and his companions, as we help them fight Daleks, Cybermen and Voord across the Universe!

Executive producer Nicholas Briggs added:

Working with the Big Finish team on the BBC’s and our beloved Doctor Who is a true privilege. We’re so glad to be continuing the adventure well past the 15 year landmark.

Line producer David Richardson revealed:

We’re already underway, planning Doctor Who stories into 2017 and 2018. There will be more adventures from the Fifth, Six and Seventh Doctors in the monthly range, more stories for the Fourth Doctor and his companions in The Fourth Doctor Adventures, and a new era for the Eighth Doctor, Liv Chenka and their new friend Helen Sinclair in Doctor Who: Doom Coalition. Plus we will continue to explore the contrasting worlds of our different and very popular spin-off series.

Expect more news on Doctor Who: Doom Coalition – plus other ranges of Classic Doctor Who titles – throughout the weekend.

Thanks to Big Finish

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REVIEW – REQUIEM FOR THE ROCKET MEN

bfptomcd024_requiem_for_the_rocket_men_cover_largeThird times a charm is a saying, not a saying I say a lot, but a saying nonetheless. It perplexes me – not sure why – but it does. Anyway, as always , I digress, but I do like a good digression usually get to the point in the end…

In work the other day I had to deliver a morning meeting, I started off asking did anyone remember Sesame Street – blank looks, then laughter, but it made them pay attention and it was relevant to the point I was making, which brings me nicely to how the phrase “third times a charm” is relevant to this month’s Fourth Doctor audio release.

Requiem for the Rocket Men, for those unfamiliar, is the third story featuring the Rocket Men. The first two were Hartnell era Companion Chronicles and were very well received, this story is the first time that they receive the “full cast” treatment.

The story begins with a monologue from Leela. Louise Jameson is surely one of the most talented actors we have had the privilege to appear on Doctor Who, and here she does not disappoint; she muses over the lessons she has learned from The Doctor and whether she has learned enough to go it alone. It’s spine-tingling stiff, real “hairs on the back of the arms standing up” acting, and it’s the highlight of the story for me. And so on to the story…

The Doctor is kidnapped by the Rocket Men – ah the Rocket Men, space pirates who wear rocket-propelled suits, have a huge crime empire ruled over by their monarch King Shandar, played by Mark Frost, it’s all very B-Movie in appearance, but in tone it isn’t. It’s played completely straight, which is a problem. The Rocket Men are stereotypical space pirates complete with comedy accents, but the tone of the story does not support this, it’s far more Hinchcliffe then Williams.

The Master shows up as well as an ally, unaware that the Rocket Men have captured the Doctor – Geoffrey Beevers is oilily charming but also grotesque as the emaciated Master, but really does not serve much of a purpose in the plot apart from being the device that leads to the next story. As much as this story revolves around the Rocket Men and two Time Lords, the main positive I have taken away from it is Lousie Jameson’s quite astounding character development with Leela. At the end of this story Leela has blossomed, is self-aware, confident, mature and experienced – her time with the Doctor refining her character, she has become more than a creature of instinct, she has developed reason and unlocked the power of her intelligence – Louise, if you are reading this, thank you this was one of your best performances as Leela.

The story is a very traditional one, hi-jinks, escapades, capture, escape, double-crosses and a cliffhanger ending – maybe a bit too traditional for me, and again there is the problem with tone. I really do think it would have worked better if it were played a bit more silly.

So, third time not a charm for me I am afraid, an average story but an astounding performance from Louise Jameson.

5/10 for the story and 11/10 for Louise.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Asteroid – notorious hideaway of the piratical Rocket Men. Hewn out of rock, surrounded by force-fields and hidden in the depths of the Fairhead Cluster, their base is undetectable, unescapable and impregnable.

In need of allies, the Master has arranged to meet with Shandar, King of the Rocket Men. But the mercenaries have captured themselves a very special prisoner – his oldest enemy, the Doctor.

What cunning scheme is the Doctor planning? How does it connect with Shandar’s new robotic pet? And just what has happened to Leela? The Master will have to work the answers out if he wants to leave the asteroid… alive…

CAST:

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9), Geoffrey Beevers (The Master), Mark Frost (Shandar), Olivia Poulet (Myrren), Damian Lynch (Marshall), Pat Ruins (Oskin)

Written By: John Dorney
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE #485

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IT’S 10 YEARS SINCE DOCTOR WHO RETURNED TO TELEVISION – AND DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE CELEBRATES WITH FOUR SPECIAL COVERS FOR ISSUE 485!

Ten years after the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) grabbed the arm of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and told her to “Run!”, Doctor Who is still going strong, as one of the greatest TV success stories of the past decade. Doctor Who Magazine celebrates this milestone with a special commemorative issue that comes with four different covers, each one featuring one of the twenty-first century Doctors – Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi!

Inside the issue, we look back on the show’s success, with contributions from writers Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Robert Shearman, Paul Cornell, Toby Whithouse, Gareth Roberts, Chris Chibnall, Peter Harness and Jamie Mathieson, as well as from BBC Head of Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson, who gives his view on the future of Doctor Who…

ALSO INSIDE ISSUE 485 OF DWM…

  • Russell T Davies, the writer of the landmark first episode, Rose, and many other episodes since, looks back on his first Doctor Who script, and shares brand new information about bringing the Doctor back to our screens.
  • DWM tracks down a guest star from each and every one of the ten Ninth Doctor adventures, including Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Yasmin Bannerman (Jabe the Tree), Alan David (Gabriel Sneed), Alan Ruscoe (the Slitheen and other creatures), Barnaby Edwards (the Dalek), Bruno Langley (Adam Mitchell), Shaun Dingwall (Pete Tyler), Florence Hoath (Nancy), Annette Badland (Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer Day Slitheen) and Jo Joyner (Lynda ‘with a Y’ Moss).
  • Doctor Who’s first director of the modern era, Keith Boak, is interviewed, looking back on the making of Rose, Aliens of London and World War Three.
  • Doctor Who’s first ever director, Waris Hussein, concludes his look back over the epic lost adventure from 1964, Marco Polo.
  • DWM pays tribute to 1980s director Fiona Cumming, who passed away earlier in the year.
  • The Doctor and Clara visit Antarctica in Part One of Blood and Ice, a brand-new comic strip written by Jacqueline Rayner and illustrated by Martin Geraghty.
  • Steven Moffat answer readers’ questions – and speculates about Osgood’s family connections!
  • Jacqueline Rayner reflects on what life would have been like if Doctor Who had never returned in Relative Dimensions.
  • The DWM Review assesses the very latest Doctor Who audio and book releases.
  • The Watcher reveals the connection between Doctor Who and Dr Carl Sagan, in the latest Wotcha!
  • The DWM Crossword, prize-winning competitions, official news and much more!

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Doctor Who Magazine 485 is out on Thursday 2 April, priced £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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THE TWELFTH DOCTOR IN FIVE TARDIS CONSOLE ROOMS

TARDIS ALERT! Check out the Twelfth Doctor in five TARDIS console rooms in the brand new adventure at the Doctor Who Experience, this Easter.

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THE ESSENTIAL DOCTOR WHO #4 – THE MASTER

Essential Doctor Who 4 - The Master

The latest issue of Panini’s The Essential Doctor Who is devoted to the Doctor’s most dangerous opponent: the Master!

Over 116 pages of all-new material, the latest issue of The Essential Doctor Who examines every Master story – from Terror of the Autons to Death in Heaven – and profiles the actors who have brought the villainous Time Lord to life.

Writer and co-creator Terrance Dicks, Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Richard Franklin (Captain Yates) and Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) discuss their special links to the character, and there is an exclusive new interview with Michelle Gomez, who reveals what it was like to take on one of the most famous roles in Doctor Who.

Elsewhere in this issue, Andrew Pixley applies his scrutiny to The Pandora Machine and Time Inc, early drafts of better known stories that cast the Master in a new light.

“The Master has been an essential part of Doctor Who for 45 years and is central to the current episodes,” says editor Marcus Hearn. “This issue compiles his/her complete story for the first time.”

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

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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MAC AND ME – AN AFTERNOON WITH TERRANCE DICKS

Terrance DicksJoin Gareth Kavanagh for an afternoon of conversation with former 1970′s Doctor Who writer and  script editor Terrance Dicks at Manchester’s Fab Cafe on Sunday 19th April starting at 1.30pm.

Terrance will specifically be discussing the works of his friend and legendary Doctor Who and Avengers writer Malcolm Hulke to tie in with the release of Red Flag Walks’ new pamphlet, Doctor Who and the Communist.

There will also be a screening of one of Mac’s episodes, chosen on the day by the audience and there will be an opportunity for signings and the chance to buy Red Flag Walks’ brand new publication on the day.

Tickets cost just £4 and are available on the door or can be purchased in advance HERE. There will be no charge to have items signed – but please don’t bring your entire Target collection along!

Thanks to Gareth Kavanagh

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REVIEW – SHORT TRIPS: TIME TUNNEL

bfmstdl03_time_tunnel_image_largeIt has to be said Katy Manning is fab, utterly wonderfully fab, whether playing, Jo Grant, Iris Wildthyme or just being herself, Katy is wonderful!  She is without a doubt the nicest Who celebrity I have had the pleasure of meeting, coming out from behind her table at Memorabilia in November 2011 to make a great big fuss of my then 5 year old son. If you don’t follow her on Twitter then why not? Her tweets will brighten your day!!

So why all this Katy love? Well, Katy narrates this months Short Trips release – Time Tunnel. Set during the Third Doctor’s era, sometime after the Daemons, Katy tells the story of an encounter UNIT had with a literal Time Tunnel, a real tunnel for a train that is having problems with time.  People who go in come out the other side dead – dying of malnutrition as time flows differently in the tunnel.

Katy captures the era perfectly, from her ditzy Jo to her stern Brig, to her pompous and exasperated Doctor, she really captures the essence of these characters. As this is a Short Trip, it is self contained within one half an hour story, but the story has a definite beginning and a middle, I am not sure if it really has an end. Now, this could be Big Finish being really clever and foreshadowing a future story, and I may be missing the point, but it doesn’t seem to end properly, only with a vague soliloquy about an alien rescue mission on its way. So, a wonderful performance by Katy, an intriguing build up but an ultimately unsatisfying story -I give this 6/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Reports are coming in to UNIT of trains emerging from a railway tunnel in Sussex, their passengers and drivers dead. The Doctor elects to drive a train through the tunnel himself, but when he emerges Jo sees to her horror that he is covered in ice. Something in the tunnel has driven him close to the point of death. What can it be?

CAST:

Katy Manning (Narrator)

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

Written By: Nigel Fairs
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

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REVIEW – DARK EYES 4

It really is sad to say goodbye to something good isn’t it? Take me for example, five years on I still mourn the end of the Russell T Davies era of TV Doctor Who.  It was as close to perfect as the series had been. It had everything, action, adventure, romance and gut wrenching, heartbreaking emotion. Four hours, four long hours I cried when Tennant regenerated. I was not just crying for him, I was crying for the end of an era, and with the dawning realisation that Doctor Who would never be quite this good again. And for me it wasn’t, Matt Smith left me completely cold, and despite Capaldi being utterly wonderful, the stories are not quite there, there is something lacking – perhaps the BBC could ask Big Finish for some tips in how to put heart and head back in to Doctor Who…

Which brings me in my now usual circumventuous way to Dark Eyes 4.  Ah Dark Eyes, born from the loss of the wonderful Lucie Miller leading us through the life of Molly O’Sullivan, reuniting us with Liv Chenka, adventures with The Daleks, the Eminence, the Master and more.  Dark Eyes is a lesson in how to build on what had come before, to take the triumphs of the Lucie Miller era and build on them, build deeper, darker, more emotional stories, to take the happy go lucky Eighth Doctor and set him on the path to choose “Warrior” at the end of his life on Karn.

So Dark Eyes Four – four stories linked which lead to the end of the saga, and what an ending, what an ending, oh my THAT ending, but I am getting ahead of myself.  The set starts with “A Life in the Day”, The Doctor and Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) are in 1920’s London, they befriend Kitty Donaldson – an old friend of Dark Eyes herself Molly O’Sullivan and her brother Martin. Martin is a war veteran who takes a liking to Liv and spends a perfect day with her, but all is not as it seems. The Doctor and Liv are being hunted by killer androids, all of London is in danger, and just when you think love has saved the day, unfortunately it hasn’t. This is Doctor Who does Groundhog day; its a really small scale story, linked to a much bigger scale event, its sweet and charming, and its quite amusing to see the belligerent matter of fact Liv wooed by the joyful Martin Donaldson, lovely to see her hard facade crack and see the person underneath the veneer – a great start to the set.

Second is “The Monster of Montmartre” – events in the first story lead The Doctor and Liv to Paris, but something is wrong.  A monster stalks the streets of Montmartre, there is a red Pagoda where the Windmill of the Moulin Rouge should be, things are not at all right, and then the Dalek Time Controller shows up….. this is where Dark Eyes 4 really gets going, the plot kicks in and picks up from the previous sets.  The Dalek Time Controller has an audacious plan and with the help of The Master, he is going to achieve it, leading to Part three “Master of the Daleks.”  Alexander Macqueen is back as the gleefully camp, delightfully cruel incarnation of The Master.  He has all the best lines, including my favourite “I’m his arch enemy!  Like an ordinary enemy but a touch more sardonic” – fabulous!

The Dalek Time controller has created a divergent timeline in which earth is New Skaro, the population have been subjugated as have the Sontarans who now act as a slave race for the Daleks. Never more has the phrase “my enemies enemy is my friend” been more apt.  This story has a lot of surprises which I will not spoil, but it sets up everything for the finale  “Eye of Darkness”, which I cannot really tell you anything about without ruining it, okay, it has The Doctor in it and it’s set in the Eye of Orion, it ties up all the loose ends regarding the Daleks and The Eminence, but that’s your lot. No more. Nothing to see here.

So a fitting end? Oh yes indeed – I think I am on record as saying that I enjoyed Dark Eyes 1, Loved Dark Eyes 2, though Dark Eyes 3 was okay, well, Dark Eyes 4 really has saved the best until last.  It’s a roller coaster of emotion, action and adventure, perfectly crafted, well honed and structured stories that make sense.  They hang together well and most of all DON’T CHEAT (take note TV series). The acting is top notch, I am really growing to like Liv Chenka, but the guest cast are uniformly superb – Rachel Stirling, Susannah Harker, Dan Starkey, Alexander Macqueen, Nick Briggs – the whole production oozes class, draws you in, plays with your expectations, build you up and knocks you down. I take my hat off to all involved. Truly a classic. 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

 4.1 A Life in the Day by John Dorney

The Doctor and Liv return to post-World War One London, where the Doctor meets Kitty Donaldson (Beth Chalmers), and Liv strikes a friendship with her brother Martin (Barnaby Kay). But what mysterious force is hunting them?

4.2 The Monster of Montmartre by Matt Fitton

The Doctor and Liv’s investigations bring them to Paris, where a monster stalks the streets.

4.3 Master of the Daleks by John Dorney

The Master and the Dalek Time Controller have forged an alliance. History hangs in the balance, and this time the Doctor can’t help…

4.4 Eye of Darkness by Matt Fitton

It’s the endgame. Truths will be revealed, and a hero will make the ultimate sacrifice.

CAST:

Paul McGann (The Doctor), Nicola Walker (Liv Chenka), Alex Macqueen (The Master), Barnaby Kay (Martin Donaldson), Rachael Stirling (Adelaine Dutemps), Sorcha Cusack (Mary), Dan Starkey (The Sontarans), Susannah Harker (Anya), David Sibley (The Eminence), Beth Chalmers (Kitty Donaldson), Charlie Norfolk (The Woman), Derek Hutchinson (Usher), Alex Wyndham (Thug), Blake Ritson (Barman), Camilla Power (Receptionist/Mademoiselle), John Dorney (Android), with Nicholas Briggs (The Daleks)

Written By: John Dorney, Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley

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DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE #484

DWM484_COVERSHOWRUNNER STEVEN MOFFAT REVEALS HIS FUTURE PLANS FOR THE TWELFTH DOCTOR, EXCLUSIVELY IN DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE 484!

In an exclusive in-depth interview, Doctor Who’s head writer and executive producer, Steven Moffat, reflects on last year’s series and tells DWM how the Doctor might change in the next season…

“We’re not bringing him back exactly as we left him, at all,” says Steven. “I think that was already evident at Christmas. He’s left some of the burden of being a superhero of the universe behind. So I’m pushing him – I’m writing quite funny this year – I’m pushing him the other way…”

ALSO INSIDE ISSUE 484 OF DWM…

  • Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor, gives his opinion on Peter Capaldi’s incarnation, and how it’s changed how he thinks about the Doctor. Plus, an exclusive preview of the new Doctor Who audio series, Dark Eyes 4, including contributions from Alex Macqueen (the Master).
  • Bonnie Langford, who played Mel – companion to the Sixth and Seventh Doctors – in the 1980s, recalls her turbulent time on the show.
  • Doctor Who’s very first director, Waris Hussein, continues his guide to the making of the classic 1964 adventure Marco Polo, with the help of unique documents unseen for more than 50 years.
  • Discover fascinating new facts about the 1972 Third Doctor adventure The Time Monster in The Fact of Fiction.
  • In a special feature, the Watcher solves the mystery of when the Doctor was first revealed not to be human.
  • There’s trouble in storage for Doctor and Clara in Space Invaders!, a brand-new comic strip written by Mark Wright and illustrated by Mike Collins.
  •  Steven Moffat answer readers’ questions – and speculates about the return of the CyberBrig!
  • The Time Team take a side-step to watch Peter Capaldi star in the dark Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood: Children of Earth.
  • Jacqueline Rayner reflects on fear and terror in Doctor Who in Relative Dimensions.
  • The DWM Review assesses the very latest Doctor Who audio and book releases.
  • The Watcher celebrates the man who played the First Doctor, William Hartnell, in the latest Wotcha!
  • The DWM Crossword, prize-winning competitions, official news and much more!

Doctor Who Magazine 484 is out on Thursday 5 March, priced £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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CITY OF DEATH NOVELISATION RELEASED 21ST MAY

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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REVIEW – EQUILIBRIUM

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.

CAST:

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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MICHELLE GOMEZ RETURNS AS MISSY

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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REVIEW – THE DARKNESS OF GLASS

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

SYNOPSIS:

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..?

CAST:

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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