REVIEW – THE SIXTH DOCTOR: THE LAST ADVENTURE

I would like, if I may, to start with some music. Ever since this release was announced back in February, I have associated the song This Is the One by The Stone Roses with this release, and here it is. Give it a listen – it says it all for me, because this really is the one I have been waiting for.

the_last_adventure_cover_largeColin Baker, Doctor Number Six, Old Sixie – the most underrated of Doctors, cruelly denied the one thing all his fellow Doctor’s were given: the chance to be at his best; the chance to be utterly heroic, stoic, heartbreaking and self-sacrificing for the good of all.  He missed out on a regeneration scene. Until now, because twenty-nine years later Big Finish have finally put things right by giving Old Sixie the swansong he truly deserves. After twenty-nine years of waiting we finally have The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure – and what an adventure!  A final lap of honour for this most operatic, avuncular, verbose and moral of Doctors. For continuity aficionados, everything makes sense, it ties in perfectly with the beginning of Time and the Rani, and no longer will the cause of the Sixth Doctor’s regeneration be “falling off an exercise bike”. Absolutely not – Colin gets the regeneration he deserves, a stoic acceptance of this is how things have to be, noble and understated. But I am getting ahead of myself…

Such an epic momentous story needs an epic and momentous foe, and they don’t come more momentous than The Valeyard.  A distillation of all the Doctor’s negative impulses taken from somewhere between his penultimate and final regeneration. Interestingly, the episodes in this story are set at varying points during Old Sixie’s era, but for the Valeyard they happen consecutively – a sort of Valeyard’s master plan – and what a plan it is. But again, I am getting ahead of myself…

Being a special release, Big Finish really have really pulled out all the stops to give Colin a fitting final hurrah. The story is broken up into four different chapters, each with a different companion, each giving us a little insight into the Valeyard’s plan and each edging the Doctor a little closer to his fate on Lakertya. Also as this a special release my better half Hayley will be adding her thoughts and musings to the proceedings.

The End of the Line by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris.

An interesting place to start. We are introduced to new companion Mrs Constance Clarke (Miranda Raison) with whom the Doctor has been travelling for a while, but this is the first time that we meet her, similar to meeting Mel for the first time in Terror of the Vervoids. Constance is a Wren from Bletchley Park during the Second World War and is a no nonsense, capable and independent woman. The story sees a broken down train lost in the fog and has a tense claustrophobic base-under-siege feeling. Tensions really start to rise when a murder is committed, or is it two murders – or three? The tension is fantastic, a real classic whodunnit feeling, for a while at least. And then the rug is pulled out from under you not once but twice. The emphasis and the tone of the story changes. Any more would be way too spoilery, but you will know what I mean when you hear it. As I said an interesting and brave place to start a story, introducing a hitherto unseen companion and also sowing the seeds of the Valeyard’s plans. Very good indeed.

Hayley’s Comments:

The inevitability of this release made it a tough listen. I was eager for the journey, but reluctant to see it end.  The opener was wonderfully uncomfortable – a familiar setting taken to the unfamiliar and distinctly sinister.  Passengers on a train lost in an unfathomable fog gives it a very claustrophobic atmosphere and their sense of bewilderment and fear was palpable. There are plenty of open-mouth surprises along the way and there’s a great addition of a new companion in Constance. It’s almost irritating when the Doctor has a new companion and it all needs explaining again – bigger on the inside, blah, blah, blah. With Constance we’re starting on the tenth date (so to speak), she knows the Doctor and she knows the form, so we’re spared the introduction for now. It also gives us the hope we need, that Old Sixie will be back with new adventures – albeit retrospectively.

I was delighted to hear Michael Jayston return as The Valeyard. I didn’t expect it as I went into this without reading the synopsis . I remember him well from the Trial season (yes, I am that old) and always enjoyed the relationship between the two very different aspects of the Doctor.

A fab start to the end. The Red House by Alan Barnes

The most frothy of all the stories. This one takes place whilst the Doctor was travelling with Charley Pollard. They land on a planet where the laws of Lycanthropy have been turned on their head. The denizens are Werewolves pretty much all the time, but transform into violent thuggish humans when exposed to sunlight. Police Officer Werewolves go about in daylight in what sound like Red Riding Hood costumes to protect them from the transforming power of the sun. Add to this the mix of an amoral Doctor experimenting on the Werewolves to extract their essence, the Valeyard making a further move in his master plan, Hippy Werewolves having illicit parties where they indulge the transformation into humans, and you have a bit of an odd melting pot of tomes and ideas – but it really works. The scenes where Charley verbally spars with the Valeyard are exceptional, and again the tone completely changes when Charley realises (with a little prodding from the Valeyard) that the path that the Doctor is taking will lead to disaster. It’s one of those stories where the Sixth Doctor’s morality and desire to do right could be everyone’s undoing.

Hayley’s Comments:

I’d almost forgotten that Charley travelled with Old Sixie.  I’ve always liked Miss Pollard with McGann’s Doctor so it was nice to hear her featuring in Sixie’s swansong.  This started well (I love a curfew!) and gave us a different take on lycanthropy, where the wolf state is preferable to being human, as well as cruel experimentation and further plotting of the Valeyard. An enjoyable story with great pace.

Stage Fright by Matt Fitton

They are Back – oh yes indeed! The premier practitioner of pathology, Professor George Litefoot, and the jocular genial gent Mister Henry Gordon Jago. The Doctor, now travelling with Flip (Lisa Greenwood) decides to take her on a trip to the New Regency Theatre, however it is closed so they make their way to the Red Tavern and meet the investigators of infernal incidents. They discover that Jago’s theatre has been hired by a certain “Mr Yardvale” to practice a play – obviously such an obvious pseudonym is a trap, and our heroes rush in to investigate.

The Valeyard is recreating scenes of the Doctor’s former regenerations on stage and absorbing the emotions which are being generated. The re-enactment of the Third Doctor’s regeneration with Jago playing the part of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Ellie Higson (Lisa Bowerman) playing Sarah Jane Smith has to be heard to be believed! The whole story revolves around using negative emotions, and the denouement is actually very sweet, relying on one of Flip’s most frightening times as a child. It is always a pleasure to hear Jago and Litefoot, and they are never better than with Colin. I really hope that they make Flip’s acquaintance again as Jago and Flip make a really excellent double act. I was sad when this ended, as inevitably we reached the final chapter…

Hayley’s Comments:

I love Messers Jago and Litefoot. I have a tremendous fondness for them – the best of the spin offs! They work so well with Sixie, as we heard during their fourth season. Sixie seems very at home with their their particular style of avuncular adventure and this episode is a joy to listen to. A dark story tempered as always by the good humour of George and Henry, it shows the Valeyard at his most cruel, using people and dispensing with them like rubbish.  This was my first foray into the the match of the Sixth Doctor and Flip and I didn’t warm to her immediately – too street – but so much happens in this episode that it allows for great character progression, and eventually young Flip grew on me.

My favourite of the four, but with George and Henry, how could it not be?

The Brink of Death by Nicholas Briggs

And here it is, a Time Lord who’s time has run out… The Valeyard enacts his plan, leaving the Doctor with only six minutes to live, and he is determined to go down fighting aided by Time Lord demolition expert Genesta (Liz White) who really plays the part of companion in this story as Mel is in the TARDIS with the Valeyard (who she thinks is the Doctor). The Fateful name Lakertya is mentioned a few times in the narrative so fans will know the end is near – and what an ending! Colin nails it perfectly, he absolutely gives it his all, and has a true Sydney Carton moment – he really does do a far far better thing. It’s not the bombastic railing against the dying of the light you might expect, it’s more stoic, quieter and more dignified. Colin Baker, I salute you sir.

Hayley’s Comments:

“Shall we listen to the last part?”,  asked Ed. I knew it was coming but wasn’t sure if I was ready for it.  Like Ed re-watching Logopolis – if he watches it often enough he hopes that Tom will hang on in there -  I thought if I avoided it then Sixie would hang on in there too. Time to get a grip and say goodbye to the Doctor that I remember with the most clarity from the classic series (forgive me).  It’s always hard to see the Doctor not being in control and showing fear; usually you know that he’ll triumph and fly off to his next adventure, but this time you feel the fear with him, because the end is coming.  He bows out with dignity and bravery – just as he lived.

trial

So there we have it, an end for Old Sixie, and most definitely the end he deserves – but also a few new beginnings… a whole new life as Doctor Number Seven and a new friend to get to know in the form of Mrs Constance Clarke. But we will always have Old Sixie… from a far too brief era of the classic TV series, Big Finish have helped Colin propel his Doctor right up there with the greats. In my mind Tom is the “other Baker”, Colin is the real deal. This is one of those releases that shows Big Finish at it’s best. They have done Colin, the era, and the fans proud, and I can do no more than to score this a much deserved 10/10.

Whether you like it or not.

Written by Ed and Hayley Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

A very special story which at last provides a heroic exit for Colin Baker’s much-loved Time Lord. Four hour-long episodes, connected by the presence of the Valeyard, the entity that exists between the Doctor’s twelth and final incarnations.

The End of the Line by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris. The Doctor and his latest companion Constance investigate a commuter train that has lost its way…

CAST:

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Miranda Raison (Constance Clarke), Anthony Howell (Tim Hope), Chris Finney (Keith Pottter), Ony Uhiara (Alice Lloyd), Hamish Clark (Norman), Maggie Service (Hilary Ratchett)

The Red House by Alan Barnes The Doctor and Charlotte Pollard arrive on a world that is populated by werewolves.

CAST:

Colin Baker (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charlotte Pollard), Michael Jayston (The Valeyard), Ashley McGuire (Sergeant), Andree Bernard (Dr Paignton/Constable), Rory Keenan (Ugo), Jessie Buckley (Lina), Kieran Hodgson (Arin/Dennis)

Stage Fright by Matt Fitton The Doctor and Flip visit Victorian London, where investigators Jago and Litefoot explore theatrical performances that have echoes of the Doctor’s past lives…

CAST:

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Lisa Greenwood (Flip), Christopher Benjamin (Henry Jago), Trevor Baxter (George Litefoot), Lisa Bowerman (Ellie Higson), Michael Jayston (The Valeyard), Andree Bernard (Susie/Sylvie), Lizzie Roper (Bella)

The Brink of Death by Nicholas Briggs The Doctor and Mel face the final confrontation with the Valeyard – and the Doctor must make the ultimate sacrifice.

CAST:

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Melanie Bush), Michael Jayston (The Valeyard), Liz White (Genesta), Robbie Stevens (Coordinator Storin/Nathemus 1), Susan Earnshaw (Lorelas/Nathemus 2)

With a Special Appearance by: Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor)

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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DWM SPECIAL EDITION: THE MUSIC OF DOCTOR WHO

Special 41 Music of Doctor Who

THE NEW DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE SPECIAL IS MUSIC TO OUR EARS!

For the first time in the 36-year history of Doctor Who Magazine – an entire issue devoted to the music and sound design of Doctor Who!

From Delia Derbyshire’s groundbreaking experiments in the Radiophonic Workshop, to the acclaimed performances of Murray Gold’s orchestral scores at the Royal Albert Hall, The Music of Doctor Who explores one of the most celebrated and mysterious sonic landscapes in television history.

“We think this Special Edition is unprecedented in its scope and detail,” says editor Marcus Hearn. “Writers such as Mark Ayres and Andrew Pixley have contributed a fresh insight to an aspect of the show’s production that’s been overlooked for too long.

Highlights of the issue include:

  • Interviews with Tristram Cary, Dudley Simpson and Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll.
  • Contributions from David Arnold, Neil Brand and Steven Moffat.
  • Sections devoted to every composer to have worked on the programme.
  • The strange world of library music.
  • The history of the Radiophonic Workshop.
  • The complete guide to pop music in Doctor Who.

Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition: The Music of Doctor Who is available now, price £5.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE #490

DWM490_COVER

STEVEN MOFFAT PREVIEWS THE NEW SERIES OF DOCTOR WHO, EXCLUSIVELY IN DWM 490!

Doctor Who Magazine spoke to the show’s executive producer and head writer, Steven Moffat, to give us a taste of what’s in store over the next 12 episodes…

“Why not start with a blockbuster?” says Steven of the two-part opening story, The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar. “Why leave it till the last two weeks? So yes, it’s like starting with a finale, and having a big, grand, movie-sized story, as opposed to a 45-minute story.”

What does Steven like about the longer format? “It allows you to play with certain things,” he replies. “There’s a kind of scale that you can attain in a two-parter, that you can’t have in 45 minutes. It’s a scale that we’re not used to at the moment, as we haven’t done two-parters for quite a while. And in a way, it’s sort of advertising the fact that we’ve got two-parters back this year. We do things in that first episode that I would say are very ‘two-parter-y’.”

ALSO INSIDE ISSUE 490…

  • THE SECRET DIARY OF THE MASTER!
    He’s mad, bad and dangerous to know… and now, DWM has discovered the secret diary of the Master, which reveals the insane thinking behind his… er, her every scheme!
  • LOST IN TRANSLATION
    Why does nearly everyone in Doctor Who speak English? Steve Lyons investigates the mystery of universal translation throughout the history of the series – and comes to some intriguing conclusions…
  • THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR?
    Showrunner Steven Moffat answers more readers’ questions – and presents a brand new scene which explores what the Doctor called himself during the Time War…
  • THE VAMPIRE MUTATIONS
    The Fourth Doctor and Romana encounter creatures with a thirst for blood – and an ancient enemy of the Time Lords – as the The Fact of Fiction explores the 1980 story State of Decay.
  • THE RETURN OF DANNY PINK
    Clara has a shocking reunion with her boyfriend in the brand-new comic strip adventure, Spirits of the Jungle, by Jonathan Morris, illustrated by John Ross.
  • TRAILS AND TRIBULATIONS
    Novelist, fan girl, and mum Jacqueline Rayner celebrates the joy of a new Doctor Who trailer in her regular column, Relative Dimensions.
  • IT’S THE END…
    The Time Team embark on a marathon viewing session as they sit down to watch David Tennant’s swansong as the Doctor: The End of Time.
  • THE COMPLETE HISTORY
    DWM takes a look at a landmark new series of books, which begins in September: Doctor Who The Complete History.
  • ON THEIR WAY…
    DWM talks to the people involved in the latest Doctor Who CD and book releases, including Dan Starkey, James Goss and Gary Russell.
  • THE UNEXPLAINED
    The Watcher examines some of the many unanswered questions in Doctor Who and celebrates a feisty equine talent in Wotcha!
  • PLUS! All the latest official news, reviews, competitions and The DWM Crossword.

Doctor Who Magazine 490 is on sale from Thursday 20 August 2015, price £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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REVIEW – THE WAREHOUSE

20150814112835dwmr202_thewarehouse_1417_image_largeThere is an unwritten rule in Doctor Who that it has an “infinitely variable format”, a show where literally anything is possible. It’s a show with boundaries that should be constantly pushed.. problem is when boundaries are pushed like for example with Love and Monsters or The Horns of Nimon – fan reaction tends to be lukewarm at best or incandescent with rage at worst.

Season 24 was a difficult season but through Seasons 25 and 26 Sylvester McCoy became my favourite Doctor, and in last months story, We Are The Daleks, we saw a Season 25/26 McCoy in a Season 24 story, and it really worked. This months story, The Warehouse, is pure Season 24. If you close your eyes you can see the 1987 production values, the garish colours, the studio bound story with the set shot from different angles. You get where I am coming from. Some stories push boundaries, this one plays it safe. To put it in film terms, this is more of a Disney than a David Lynch. It however pure season 24, and for that it must be commended.

So the plot… The Doctor and Mel on their way to the Opera turn up at the Warehouse, a huge storage facility (like Amazon in Space) where clone families made up of Fred (Barry McCarthy), Jean (Anna Bentinck) and Ann (Clare Buckfield) continually perform a stock take – there are a Fred, Jean and Ann for every section with the letter of their section after their name to designate them: Fred E, Fred F, Fred G, etc). The Warehouse has also been invaded by apparently deadly carnivorous giant space rats, has strange mould growing almost everywhere, is run by a mysterious Supervisor (Phillip Franks), and then there is the planet below that has not received any deliveries for over 300 years…

Very much a by-the-numbers Doctor Who story, reminiscent of Paradise Towers, Face Of Evil and Big Finish’s own Spaceport Fear – it’s a story of a culture degenerating, worshipping technology as divine, and following rituals made of half-remembered customs of the past. There are a few twists and turns to keep the plot trundling along, but it all seems a bit too familiar. Of course, familiar is not necessarily a bad thing and it is a solid story with great performances – Phillip Franks is delightfully arch as the Supervisor and the sound design again is a great homage to Season 24. As a pastiche of the period it is a great success and also explains why McCoy’s umbrella changed between Paradise Towers and Delta and the Bannermen. Definitely one for traditional Who fans and those nostalgic for the late 80’s.

7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Doctor and Mel land in what appears to be an orbiting warehouse, a delivery facility with a dangerously erratic computer.

Whilst Mel is helping with repairs, the Doctor begins to realise that not everything in the warehouse is as it seems. Why do no goods ever seem to leave the shelves? Why are the staff so obsessed with the stocktake? And who is the mysterious Supervisor?

On the planet below, the Doctor discovers that the computer might be the least of their problems – and that they should be more concerned with the spacestation’s mould and vermin…

CAST:

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Melanie Bush), Phillip Franks (Supervisor/Acolyte), Dillie Keane (Lydek), Clare Buckfield (Ann/Darl), Barry McCarthy (Fred/Terminal), Anna Bentinck (Jean/Computer), Barnaby Edwards (Reef). Other parts played by the cast.

Written By: Mike Tucker
Directed By: Barnaby Edwards

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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BBC AMERICA – A LOOK AHEAD TO SERIES 9


Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Steven Moffat discuss the differences between the previous and upcoming seasons of Doctor Who!


Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman discuss the way the Doctor has changed from the last season of Doctor Who!

The new season of Doctor Who premieres Saturday, September 19th at 9/8c on BBC America.

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REVIEW – RETURN TO TELOS

dw4d0408_returntotelos_1417_cover_largeSince listening to last month’s release, The Fate of Krelos, I have been wondering to myself, “How on earth do you follow that!” because it really is a bit of a classic.

I was reminded of Doctor Who Series 3 back in 2007 (cue strummy harp flashback music) and Paul Cornell’s wonderful two-parter Human Nature and Family of Blood – how do you follow the greatest Doctor Who TV story? You have Blink, then the Master Trilogy. You don’t give the audience enough time to breathe and to reflect that perhaps it will never reach the heights of Human Nature again, you keep on putting on classic episodes – and with Return to Telos that is exactly what Nick Briggs has done.

This is a difficult release to review without giving away spoilers, but essential listening is The Fate of Krelos which forms the first half of this story and ends on a cliffhanger and is available here.

Okay, listened to it? Read on and expect mild spoilers…

K9 is under the control of the Cybermen and takes the TARDIS to their adopted home planet of Telos. Now then – and this is the clever part that will make you want to watch Tomb of the Cybermen again – at the same time the Second Doctor and Jamie are also there exploring the Tombs.  With both Frazer Hines and Bernard Holley reprising their roles as Jamie and Peter Haydon it’s almost like deleted scenes from Tomb have been discovered on audio and have been slotted in to the story. The incidental music perfectly captures the feeling of Tomb but this is no mere nostalgia trip, the incidents in Tomb have a massive effect on the rest of the story.

Now longtime readers will know that I am not a fan of “timey-wimey” (or as I call them “cheat endings”) and Nick Briggs has avoided this cliche and crafted a perfectly logical series of cause and effect begun in the Tombs leading to the Cyber Invasion of Krelos. It’s one of those wonderfully fatalistic Who stories where the Doctor is literally battling against the forces of cause and effect and is bound to lose.  The cliffhanger to part one seems completely hopeless – events that happen have to happen. It is a really atmospheric, melancholy and exciting story, and the denouement will have you punching the air.

Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are as wonderful as ever – Frazer Hines is astounding as Jamie and DELETED FOR SPOILERS, Michael Cochrane returns as the old but savvy Geralk, Veronica Roberts is tragic as his housekeeper Relly, the irony of her fate is not lost. A great cast, a great story, a great way to make you want to watch Tomb again and piece in the “deleted scenes” unearthed by Nick Briggs.

Is it as good as its predecessor? Difficult question. The Fate of Krelos was a quiet character based build up. Return to Telos is the plot-based blossoming of the seeds planted in Krelos. It’s unfair to compare the two as they form a whole. As for enjoyment, I tend to prefer the character based stories, so Krelos has it for me – but Return To Telos is just fab, like Blink following Human Nature, or to be more accurate, like Tomb following Evil of the Daleks – a different emphasis as is required by the plot.

Wonderful stuff 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Doctor reveals to Leela that they’re heading for the planet Telos. And K9 has new masters…

On Telos, in the past, the Second Doctor and Jamie are exploring the tomb of the Cybermen.

Meanwhile, the Cyber-Controller and Cyber-Planner consolidate their plans. Spare parts from Krelos are being used to construct a mighty Cyber army. The Doctor must be captured.

Out of control, the TARDIS tumbles down a chasm and the Doctor and Leela find themselves caught up in full-scale planetary invasion.

CAST:

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Michael Cochrane (Geralk), Bernard Holley (Peter Haydon), Veronica Roberts (Relly), Nicholas Briggs (the Cybermen)

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – WILDTHYME RELOADED

iris05_wildthymereloaded_1417sq_cover_largeIsn’t Katy Manning fab! She really is one of the nicest Who celebs I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, a joy to follow on Twitter, and a fine actress, so when Jo Grant and Iris Wildthyme meet in the Companion Chronicle Find and Replace you forget they are played by the same person.

Iris Wildthyme. Where do I start? She could only be played by Katy, that’s a given – such a colourful broad character; part Bet Lynch, part Hilda Baker, part Margaret Rutherford and part Anna the inebriate woman, but all Iris Wildthyme, and I was delighted when this new series was announced, more of the same jolly gadding about through time on the number 22 Bus to Putney Common, gin in one hand, fag in the other, Panda at her side… Stop!… Wildthyme Reloaded is just a little bit different.

First of all, no Panda. I miss the pompous little 10 inch stuffed toy I really do, but his replacement is very interesting and brings out a new side to Iris’ character. The new companion is Captain Turner played by Geoffrey Breton – a square jawed, side-burned gentleman soldier from the late Victorian period, a true romantic. Secondly the theme tune has changed, not a massive change, but it does alter the feeling of the episodes. Thirdly there are more episodes but they are shorter and more character based exploring Iris’ past, building on her character, exploring more facets than the happy go lucky intergalactic bag lady we have come to love.

So eight new episodes and here they are:

Comeback of the Scorchies by James Goss

Iris takes Captain Turner to Margate to see a concert by one hit wonder (and old flame) Brain Bonamy, however they hadn’t counted on his new management – the Scorchies! 80’s music, Scorchies, Margate, Iris, Captain Turner singing a rude song… what more could you want?

Dark Side by Nick Campbell

Iris takes Captain Turner to visit her house – Pink Gables – a house Iris built around a ghost to keep it trapped like a genie in a bottle, however other forces have also taken up residence.

Oracle of the Supermarket by Roy Gill

On a trip to pick up supplies at a Scottish supermarket, Iris and Captain Turner meet Cassie Burdock, a checkout girl with the ability to predict the future, an ability given to her by a children’s ride in the shape of a duck (honestly).

Murder at the Abbey by Mark B. Oliver

Iris and the Captain turn sleuths in this sideways take on Agatha Christie, a Manor, a Murder, a host of suspects – what more could you wish for!

The Slots of Giza by Hamish Steele

On a trip to the Casino planet Giza, Iris and the Captain encounter Seth The Sensational, a magician who has a macabre way of ensuring guest keep on gambling and his show keeps on running…

High Spirits by Cavan Scott

In a garden centre, Iris and the Captain are expecting peace and tranquility, but have arrived a bit too late. The Garden In the Clouds is now the scariest place in the Universe and thrill seekers are dared to try to spend the night there, Iris meets up with an echo of her own future.

An Extraterrestrial Werewolf In Belgium by Scott Handcock

Landing in Flanders Iris and the Captain investigate an alien Werewolf, Iris’ dress sense is the key to the mystery that leads to a change of circumstances for both our heroes.

Looking For A Friend by Paul Magrs

Iris has been waiting a long time for a long lost friend to turn up, but is this what she really wants, is it closure, or is it a new beginning?

A very very different series than the usual Iris shenanigans – yes there are jolly japes, laughs and larks, but this series is tinged with a sense of wistfulness and melancholy – Iris is explored a lot more and comes across as a much more rounded character, the cosmic bag lady is painted in slightly different shades than in the past and much of this is due to Captain Turner. The Captain is an innocent, bewildered by his travels and constantly in awe of the situations he finds himself in. He is a classic gentleman, always looking for the best in people always doing the right thing and is a sobering influence on Iris. Whereas the wonderful Panda was a cartoonish parody of a cod intellectual snob, the Captain wears his heart on his sleeve in his sincerity.

Katy is wonderful in these adventures, really exploring a hitherto unseen side of Iris; she takes her from joy to despair and back again, with bluster and bravado, her broad character cracks a little and we see her loneliness and how much Panda really meant to her. A stellar guest list backs them up too – Nicola Bryant, Lisa Bowerman, David Warner and Tracey Childs to name a few.

A great jumping on point for newcomers to the world of Iris, this left me wanting more and the ending hints at a whole new series of adventures on the Number 22 to Putney Common. Much better than a punch up the hooter, preferably enjoyed with a glass of splishy splashy 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Join trans-temporal adventuress Iris Wildthyme (Katy Manning) for a series of eight brand-new half-hour episodes as she travels through time and space aboard her trusty double-decker bus, accompanied by her new friend Captain Turner!

Comeback of the Scorchies by James Goss

One-hit ‘80s wonder, Brian Bonamy, is back – and he’s wowing the crowds of Margate! But when Iris and Captain Turner take in the show, they quickly realise something else is behind his success… and that Iris is still under contract!

Dark Side by Nick Campbell

Needing a break from adventuring, Iris decides to return to her former home -Pink Gables – where she is more than a little surprised to discover that unearthly forces have subsequently taken up residence.

 Oracle of the Supermarket by Roy Gill

Cassie Burdock works on the till in the local branch of Fergusons. She thinks she’s nothing special, that she’s just like everyone else… until one day, she finds that she can predict the future with unnerving accuracy.

Murder At The Abbey by Mark B. Oliver

After witnessing the death of one of their friends, Iris and Captain Turner turn sleuth to get to the bottom of things. But just who would want to commit such a beastly crime… and why? Wildthyme is on the case!

The Slots of Giza by Hamish Steele

The Giza is the Hawkhead Nebula’s premier casino experience: Vegas on an intergalactic scale! But when one of Iris’s fellow slotters dies at her machine, she and Captain Turner quickly learn that the Giza’s guests are gambling with their lives.

High Spirits by Cavan Scott

When Iris lands the bus on the infamous Garden in the Clouds, she and Captain Turner are expecting a world of peace and tranquility. Instead, they arrive on a world plagued by hauntings, where they ghosts want to lay them to rest.

An Extraterrestrial Werewolf in Belgium by Scott Handcock

After an unexpected incident with a transdimensional entity in the 1970′s, Iris makes an emergency landing in Flanders, where legends of an ancient wolf-like bogeyman soon prove to be frighteningly real.

Looking for a Friend by Paul Magrs

In a bar in central London, a strangely-dressed woman reappears night after night, drowning her sorrows and searching for a friend she left behind…

CAST:

Katy Manning (Iris Wildthyme), Geoffrey Breton (Captain Turner), Ian Hallard (Brian Bonamy/Inspector Greenock/Slot), Chris Rankin (Jack/Andy), Nicola Bryant (Maggie/Mabel), Lisa Bowerman (Joyce/Hilda), David Warner (Edward), Charlie Hayes (Cassie/Chloe), Toby Longworth (Rick/Mr Cane), Tracey Childs (Lady Fothergill/Nora), Stephen Fewell (Seth the Sensational/Tour Guide), Lizzie Hopley (Shelley), David Blackwell (Zane/Poker Dealer), Scott Handcock (Albertson/Barman)

Directed By: Scott Handcock

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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DOCTOR WHO SERIES 9 – TRAILER 2


Series 9 of Doctor Who arrives on the 19th September and it will be spectacular! Join the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) for a brand new series of Doctor Who.

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STRAX MEETS JAGO AND LITEFOOT!

image.phpStrax has temporarily left the paternoster gang to join forces with two of the most popular characters in the history of Doctor Who – Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot.

These two memorable characters, created by the late great Robert Holmes, were brought to life by actors Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter. They first appeared in 1977 with the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, in the story The Talons of Weng-Chiang. In recent years the characters have successfully starred in a series of brand new audio adventures from Big Finish Productions.

In this latest adventure Jago and Litefoot are joined by actor Dan Starkey as Strax, who first appeared with Matt Smith in the 2011 story, A Good Man Goes to War.

Actor Dan Starkey said:

The Talons of Weng-Chiang was one of my favourite Doctor Who stories growing up, first in its form as a Target novelisation and then in the prized VHS I got for Christmas 1988. Spool forward nearly 30 years, and I’ve been lucky enough to encounter Jago and Litefoot in their audio incarnation already, with my turn as Mr. Tibbs in Series 9. Now it’s a joy to bring Strax face to face with the characters who in many ways defined how Doctor Who “does” Victorian London. I hope the sonic thaumaturgy of those clever coves at Big Finish will excite the ears and invigorate the imagination, as Henry Gordon Jago might have put it!

Producer Dave Richardson said:

It’s a testament to the great Robert Holmes and these two wonderful actors that Jago and Litefoot remain so eternally popular, and it’s such a joy to have them set foot in the world of current TV Doctor Who as they join forces with Strax for a special investigation. Justin Richards’ script is superb, packed with excitement and wit, and it’s so fun to see the mismatched duo of Jago and Litefoot become a mis-matched trio!

The two-disc set will be released this November and is available to pre-order now.

SYNOPSIS:

In this special double-disc release, the Sontaran suffers a disorienting attack, mistakes the two Victorian investigators for Jenny and Vastra and moves into Litefoot’s home. Together, they are on the trail of a creature that is stealing brains, which may or may not be linked to a haunted house in London.

CAST:

Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot), Dan Starkey (Strax), Lisa Bowerman (Ellie), Conrad Asquith (Inspector Quick), Stephen Critchlow (Marvo)

Written By: Justin Richards
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY HERE

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PRIVATE EYE CLAIMS “NO FULL SERIES OF DR. WHO IN 2016″

According to the latest issue of Private Eye there may be no full series of Doctor Who in 2016.

Not long now till the return of Doctor Who, which arrives back on screens for the ninth series of its latest incarnation on 19 September.

Fan should make as much as they can of this 12-part run, as BBC staff have recently been informed that showrunner Steven Moffat’s commitments to his other hit show Sherlock mean that there will be no full series of Doctor Who in 2016.

There has been no official comment from either Steven Moffat or the BBC as yet.

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DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES #5

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DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES #5

Summer’s here and the time is right for reading the latest issue of Doctor Who Adventures. Issue 5 is set to land at a newsstand near you on 13th August!

TRUST
The Doctor takes Clara back to the liberation of Paris in World War Two for the biggest party the party capital of the world has ever seen, but things soon go awry when the deadly Darapok Empire try to take over the war weary city. Take a summer trip to Paris in 1944 in TRUST written by Jason Quinn, illustrated by Russ Leach and coloured by John Burns, it’s going to be a party you will never forget!

THE FEAR FACTOR
Do the Weeping Angels make you weep with terror, or do Scarecrows have you screaming for mercy? Or will you run howling from the Autons and the Racnoss? Find out which of the Doctor’s enemies would be most effective against you in battle in this issue’s Fear Factor quiz.

VORTEX MANIPULATOR
Clara takes you into the TARDIS Craft Studio and shows you how to create your own mini-vortex in the safety of your home…

UNIT ALIEN ARCHIVES
The best way to survive an alien attack is to know all about your enemies and we’re giving you access to the UNIT Archive on the Weeping Angels, so you’ll know what to do if they come hunting for you.

STRAX’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
This month, Strax shows you the delights you can expect to find on Karn, Krop Tor, and Midnight before whisking you away to the end of the universe to meet Futurekind on Malcassairo.

TIME LORDS AT WAR
They’ve faced off against each other many times before but who really has the edge? Who do you think would win the final showdown – the Doctor or Missy?

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
Get ready for an awesome adventure in this cool board game, where you get to be either the Doctor or Missy as you try to escape from the Weeping Angels and make your way to the safety of the TARDIS.

THE PATERNOSTER GANG INVESTIGATES
It’s back to Victorian London where Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax are employed by the Prime Minister to protect the inventor of… a time machine? As they find themselves targeted by enemy agents, Vastra asks herself, are humans ready for time travel?

Doctor Who Adventures #5 – summer won’t be summer without it!

Issue 5 comes with a Free Dalek notepad and pencils and special make your own Doctor Who scene stickers!

On sale 13th August 2015, price £3.99

Thanks to Jason Quinn

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REVIEW – THE OMEGA FACTOR

20150601162032bfpomegacd02_the_omega_factor_cd_inl1_front_cover_largeThere is a much maligned film that myself and Mrs W really enjoy, and that is Vanilla Sky, I really don’t understand why it gets such a hard time from critics; I think it is rather beautiful and I have just found out it is out on Blu Ray!

Anyhow, how is this relevant to the latest Big Finish release, well, dear reader, please read on. Vanilla Sky is an adaptation of a Spanish Language film called “Abre Los Ojos” – or in English, “Open Your Eyes” and this phrase is repeated in the remake. So thinking of all the new worlds I have been introduced to whilst reviewing Big Finish releases, I have opened my eyes, my ears and my mind to these worlds and embraced them wholeheartedly – and the latest of these worlds is “The Omega Factor”.

I will admit, until Big Finish started advertising it, I had never heard of The Omega Factor, possibly because I was only seven years old when it was broadcast, never repeated, never released on VHS, then on DVD to little fanfare, so I came to it without any expectations at all, had no frame of relevance to the original series – I was ready to have my eyes opened by Big Finish once again.

The Original series starred the late James Hazeldine as Tom Crane and Louise Jameson as Dr Anne Reynolds, they worked for Department 7 and investigated paranormal occurrences. Tom Crane discovered throughout the series that he had psychic abilities.

The Big Finish box set picks up 36 years later, Department 7 is “under review” (read being shut down) as it is not productive. Dr Anne Reynolds finds herself and her life’s work being rendered redundant, and then she bumps in to Adam Dean and things get interesting. You see Adam is the son of Tom Crane and he has been reading his late fathers reports into the cases he and Anne were involved in in the 1970’s…

The Set is made up of four loosely linked stories:

From Beyond by Matt Fitton

This story sets the scene and the tone for the box set, one word “OMINOUS” – a real sense of dread and impending doom pervades the proceedings. Desperate to keep Department 7 going, Anne revisits an old investigation she has had on the back burner. Mary McConnell is trying to contact her brother Malcolm from beyond the grave through the medium of recordings and believes she has made a breakthrough. Adam’s emerging psychic powers reveal a long hidden tragedy and force Mary to confront her past. Really heavy stuff for a season opener. Both leads are not initially likeable, Anne is obtuse, Adam is argumentative but through the events that they experience together they form a bond. The subject matter is also harrowing and it takes the more worldly experienced Adam to notice what the academic Anne cannot see, or is too caught up in her research to want to see. Interesting, but very grim.

The Old Gods by Phil Mulryne

Following a lead from Tom Crane’s investigations leads Anne and Adam to a remote community ruled of by Edmund Fennick (Terry Molloy) that has been stripped of the trappings of the modern world. Adam poses as a sufferer of electrosensitivity and is admitted to the community to investigate further. This one is pure Amicus – remote community, cult trying to summon an ancient god, psychic powers – basically the horror kitchen sink. Terry Molloy is superb as Fennick, not evil, worse, a fanatic who truly believes his world view is the right view. Really exciting stuff, again doom laden in atmosphere, but a different less personal take on horror than the previous story.

Legion by Cavan Scott

I got the feeling from listening to this one that it was a sequel to a TV episode (I looked it up, it is) and features a catatonic lady called Morag in an institution, an exorcist called Wanda Maccrum. This is good, really really good, so good that I want to see the original episode it is based on. Morag has been catatonic for over 30 years, but she is becoming active, her mind is reaching out to Adam for help. This episode is worth the entry price alone it has it all, brilliantly acted, very visual, full of genuine danger for the characters, a winner.

The Hollow Earth by Ken Bentley

Investigating disappearances of homeless people at an Edinburgh church Anne and Adam along with the Vicar and church warden are trapped in the church as a portal into hell is opened. A suitably maudlin, but compelling episode to end the set, death, murder, sacrifice, faith, revenge and a big explosion . A really deep story and thematically very similar to the first, exploring the darker more base side of human nature, not for the faint-hearted or the easily disturbed…

So four doom laden tales; I felt that the characters didn’t experience the stories but suffered through them, boy do they go through the emotional wringer Louise Jameson and John Dorney don’t put a foot wrong – world weary, panic stricken, desperate, intelligent, compassionate and that is just Louise in her first scene – this really put the actors through their paces, the material demands nothing less than a real human performance and we get it in spades from all the actors. With material that could lend itself to scenery chewing it is played completely straight and is teated with the respect that it deserves making the drama real and believable.

If I had to criticise at all, maybe it is a little slow paced, especially the last episode, but maybe this slow ponderous pace is part of the atmosphere building…

So eyes open, ears open and mind open – and wallet open as well as the DVD has been added to my wish list on a well known site named after a South American river – a great first box set and hopefully many more to come I factor in a score of 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Over thirty years have passed since Tom Crane left Department 7, a top secret organisation that investigates the paranormal.

Anne Reynolds now runs the operation, and for three decades their enigmatic nemesis Omega has been silent.

But that peace is about to be shattered. When Crane’s son Adam is drawn into Department 7, the past quickly catches up with Anne and her team…

From Beyond by Matt Fitton

Dr Anne Reynolds finds her life’s work under threat as Department 7 faces review. Is there really any place for paranormal investigation in government? Help arrives from an unlikely source, as a young man comes to Edinburgh looking for answers. Adam Dean holds a connection to Anne’s past, which will open the doors of perception and take them down a new and disturbing path…

The Old Gods by Phil Mulryne

Looking into Tom Crane’s legacy, Anne and Adam investigate a remote community, isolated from the distractions of the twenty-first century. As Anne fights to justify Department 7′s existence, Adam begins to learn how dangerous his new life can be. For when the world is stripped of the trappings of today, only the old gods are left to rule it…

Legion by Cavan Scott

Exorcism is alive and well and making a healthy profit in modern Scotland. As one practitioner’s unsavoury methods are called to account, a terrible force threatens to be unleashed.

The Hollow Earth by Ken Bentley

A church is meant to be a place of sanctuary. Of peace. Of protection. But when Anne and Adam look into disappearances among the homeless of one Southside parish, they find themselves trapped and terrified within the walls of St Nicholas as all hell breaks loose around them…

While Anne follows the trail left by Tom Crane, Adam hears a voice from his father’s past calling for help – but what will it cost him if he chooses to answer?

CAST:

Louise Jameson (Anne Reynolds/Demon), John Dorney (Adam Dean/James/Volunteer 2), Alan Cox (James Doyle/Beast/Ian Raskin/New Orderly), Sandra Voe (Mary McConnell), Natasha Gerson (Morag), Tracy Wiles (Reverend Lucy Douglas/Angie), Terry Molloy (Edmund Fennick/Malcolm McConnell/Chief Superintendent Malcolm Wade), Camilla Power (Dr Jane Wyatt/Presenter), Kate Bracken (Elinor Gordon/Volunteer 1), Georgie Glen (Wanda Maccrum/Demon), Hilary Maclean (Dr Jacqueline Everson/Samntha Matheson/Demon/Clerk), Derek Hutchinson (Fraser Kirkland/Peter/Orderly 2), Laura Dos Santos (Lorraine Armstong/Jill)

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 #489

DWM489_COVER

THE SIXTH DOCTOR, COLIN BAKER, REVEALS WHY THE TIME HAS COME FOR HIS REGENERATION, IN DWM 489!

The Sixth Doctor never had a proper regeneration story on television – so now Colin Baker has returned to record The Last Adventure for audio production company Big Finish…

“Big Finish came to me, and said, ‘If we write you a really good story, and if we released your seven cats which we’ve kidnapped, which are suspended above this flame getting lower and lower, will you perhaps do this story?’” Colin jokes, “and I reluctantly agreed, and my cats are safe!”

“I did require a little persuasion,” he admits, more candidly. So what changed his mind? “Oh, the idea of a release. A release from the tension of saying ‘no’ repeatedly. And… it’s Big Finish! That’s what changed my mind.”

ALSO INSIDE ISSUE 489…

  • UNDER SURVEILLANCE!
    DWM tells the remarkable story of writer Malcolm Hulke, the creator of the Time Lords, Silurians and Sea Devils – and why he came under under scrutiny by MI5…
  • TROUBLED TEEN
    Ellis George, the actress who plays cheeky schoolgirl Courtney Woods talks to DWM about travelling in the TARDIS, and what its like to be a teenager starring in Doctor Who.
  • TOP OF THE POPS!
    The much-anticipated results of the 2014 DWM Season Survey are in! Discover which story from Peter Capaldi’s début season  topped the poll, and who won the accolade for best writer, what was the favourite monster, and more…
  • THE MONSTER OF PELADON!
    The Fact of Fiction takes a close look at the 1974 serial The Monster of Peladon, and digs deep to unearth fascinating new facts about this Third Doctor adventure.
  • JUNGLE TERROR!
    There’s ghostly goings-on for the Doctor and Clara in a brand-new comic strip adventure, Spirits of the Jungle by Jonathan Morris, illustrated by John Ross.
  • HELLO, YOUNG MAN!
    Doctor Who’s showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers’ questions – and comes face-to-face with his 10-year-old self!
  • TIS THE SEASON?
    Jacqueline Rayner considers what time of year it’s traditional – and best – to watch Doctor Who – and comes to a surprising conclusion…
  • THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES
    The Time Team fight for space behind the sofa as they watch David Tennant’s penultimate, chilling story: The Waters of Mars.
  • ON THEIR WAY…
    DWM talks to the people involved in the latest Doctor Who CD releases, including Bonnie Langford, Nicholas Briggs, Lisa Bowerman and Mike Tucker.
  • PLUS! All the latest official news, reviews, competitions and The DWM Crossword.

Doctor Who Magazine 489 is on sale from Thursday 23 July 2015, price £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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REVIEW – DARK CONVOY

dark_convoy_cover_mediumSaturday afternoons in the 1980’s, remember them? If it wasn’t World of Sport or Grandstand then it was Open University on BBC2 followed by a classic war film. The Cruel Sea seemed to be on almost every Saturday (on a related note, there was ONE weekend in 1984 when Operation Crossbow was on the BBC on a Friday and ITV on a Sunday. Definitely!). So World War two films were as much part of growing up for me as Doctor Who (we only had three channels…) and this months Short Trips release is a great homage to those films – especially the naval ones.

Read by Sophie Aldred this short trip is a rarity for the Seventh Doctor, it is a pure historical. The TARDIS materialises on board the Submarine HMS Thunder, it is on a rescue mission to save another allied sub, but is caught in a game of Cat and Mouse with a German U-Boat. The Doctor helps with the radar whilst Ace befriends some of the crew and volunteers for a rescue mission to collect survivors. Wow, another cracker from Big Finish, this, and massive kudos to writer Mark B. Oliver, director Lisa Bowerman, and Sophie Aldred for performing the play.

In my head I saw it as a grainy black and white Saturday afternoon film and was transported back to my teenage years watching The Cruel Sea with my Grandfather. This release gets it just right, small scale, not a wasted line, yet so much happens and you really do care for the characters, you see them through Ace’s eyes, and even though they are all performed by Sophie, she instills them with a sense of reality, camaraderie and honour which typifies our servicemen in World War 2. The end is shocking, but very very realistic – not all war stories have happy endings and even the shortest amount of time can see people forming bonds in adversity.

July has been a magnificent month for Big Finish and this release continues the level of excellence.

Overall, a dark portrayal of a dark time for the world but the light of bravery and defiance in the face of adversity is wonderful, another 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Materialising aboard the corvette HMS Thunder during the Second World War, the Doctor and Ace join Commander Fitzgerald and his crew as they track an allied submarine in trouble.

While the Doctor advises the Captain on navigational matters, Ace joins in a daring mission to rescue sailors in the water. With German planes overhead, no-one’s survival is guaranteed…

CAST:

Sophie Aldred (Narrator)

Written By: Mark B Oliver
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 – COUNTER MEASURES (SERIES 4)

counter_measure_series_four_holding_cover_largeThe Worlds of Doctor Who (as Big Finish call it) is a big diverse place including many spin off series – Counter Measures is one of these. Series 4 however is NOT a great jumping on point, so dear listener, I have some homework for you, go and watch Remembrance of the Daleks, listen to Counter Measures series 1, 2 and 3 and the main range audio The Assassination Games.

All done and up to date? Then I will continue.

Counter Measures is a spin off from the popular Remembrance of the Daleks TV story and sees Group Captain Gilmore (Simon Williams), Professor Rachel Jensen (Pamela Salem), Dr Alison Williams (Karen Gledhill) from the TV episodes team up with the decidedly amoral Sir Toby Kinsella (Hugh Ross) to investigate strange happenings – a sort of prototype UNIT, but with more cloak and dagger and not half as much family atmosphere!

This fourth series as I have previously said, is not for the faint-hearted, in fact if you were not familiar with the first three series it is fair to say that you would be completely lost – Counter Measures wants you heart and soul, not just for the odd story, and discussing the individual episodes would spoil the enjoyment for long time listeners and confuse newcomers, so I will talk about something that Counter Measures has by the tonne – it has atmosphere. If you close your eyes, you can just imagine Counter Measures as a 1960’s ITC filmed TV show, it is an incredible homage to the 1960’s, the incidental music, the pictures drawn with words, the Cold War cloak and dagger espionage feeling that runs through this series – and what a series it is. Beginning where season 3 left off, it hits the ground running in the first story “New Horizons”, slows down and gets its bearings in the second “The Keep”, ramps up the tension in the third “Rise and Shine” and then reaches a crescendo in the final part, “Clean Sweep”.

Without giving any spoilers away, the theme that runs through is mind control, identity, trust and conspiracy – and the ending of part four literally left me slack jawed – Big Finish have completely raised the bar with this release – the much used phrase (commonly attributed to P.T Barnum) “leave them wanting more” really does apply to this release as the cliffhanger to part four has left me chomping at the bit for Series 5.

The main cast all play their parts excellently and effortlessly, they are so believable, but if I had to pick a favourite it is Hugh Ross as Sir Toby, completely amoral a good man to have in your corner, but don’t turn your back on him – devious, calculating, manipulative and brilliant – Hugh Ross plays him with an oily charm, a truly multi faceted character. The thing about Counter Measures is its sense of realism, yes it deals with extra terrestrial threats, but it is the way that the characters treat each other, the way that each is willing raise the stakes to win at any cost, our heroes (maybe not Sir Toby…) seem a last bastion of decency in a world where honour and chivalry are being lost  to a new generations ambition – they are undoubtedly the same characters we met in Remembrance, but given real believable lives outside the job – I am so pleased with this as I believe that the bedrock of a good story is good characterisation.

So, a great box set, but a set to listen to as part of an ongoing series rather than as a stand alone – it really rewards long time fans (and if you are not a fan already then why not?) So, why not buy the whole lot and then catch up with Series 4??? Highly enjoyable 60’s homage this box set Measures up at 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Four brand new adventures with the Intrusion Counter-Measures Group, as long-held secrets are torn open… and the deadly truth dawns at last:

New Horizons by Mark Wright and Cavan Scott

When an explosion disrupts work on a monorail, Gilmore, Allison, Rachel and Sir Toby investigate the enigmatic company behind the project. But with government interference on one side, and dangerous businessmen on the other, who can they possibly trust?

The Keep by Ken Bentley

For many years Sir Toby has used the Keep – the most secure and secret prison in England – to hide away incredibly dangerous threats to the country. But now two prisoners are attempting to escape – and they’re not the only ones.

Rise and Shine by John Dorney

Old enemies are becoming friends. Old friends are becoming enemies. As they finally discover who they’re up against, and with the future of the planet at stake, the Counter-Measures team have to risk everything to survive.

Clean Sweep by Matt Fitton

The dust may have settled, but the threat lives on. With the team in hiding, and an unknown enemy at their heel, they need to turn the tables, and quickly. But can they ever really be safe?

CAST:

Simon Williams (Group Captain Gilmore), Pamela Salem (Rachel Jensen), Karen Gledhill (Allison Williams), Hugh Ross (Sir Toby Kinsella),  Philip Pope (Templeton), Richard Hope (Heaton), Oscar Pearce (The Captain), Nigel Carrington (Graham Finlay), Francesca Hunt (Bryant), Dominic Rowan (Sergeant West/Shurik Barkov), Adrian Lukis (Professor Jeffery Burridge), Denise Black (Control), Phillip Bretherton (Sir Keith Kordel), Alex Ferns (Mr Parks), Mary Conlon (Hilary).

Written By: Mark Wright, Cavan Scott, Matt Fitton, John Dorney, Ken Bentley
Directed By: Ken Bentley

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – WE ARE THE DALEKS

dwmr201_wearethedaleks_1417_cover_largeCan the 1980’s really be THAT long ago to be nostalgia? I remember the first broadcast of Time and the Rani like it was yesterday – however 28 years really have passed since Season 24, and the more things change the more they stay the same – The Doctor is Scottish again, we have a Tory government again, the world seems just as dangerous as it did in the 1980’s, the legacy of Thatcherism is running rife after Osbourne’s first all Tory budget. As I said, the more things change…

What is different though is how Big Finish have unlocked the potential of Mel Bush – never a fan favourite for her TV appearances Big Finish have really transformed her into the companion she was never really allowed to be on the TV. Bonnie really was hamstrung on TV by the legacy of Violet Elizabeth, and really all she did was scream. Big Finish have rectified this completely, and nowhere better than We Are The Daleks.

Coming after the momentous 200th release, this starts a new era for Big Finish, a great jumping on point for new listeners, and what a great story it is – an homage to previous Dalek stories, a satire of the 1980’s mantra of “greed is good”, a period piece in the same way that Remembrance was a period piece in 1988.

Imagine if Season 24 had been a bit more like season 25 and 26, still with the kitsch and the glitz, but Sylvester playing the darker rather than the clownish Seventh Doctor, imagine Bonnie being given the same sort of character development as Ace or Rose had, and you are somewhere near to We Are The Daleks.

It’s 1987, and London is dominated by the Zenos Tower, a modern construction in the shape of a Dalek – Alex Zenos has made a business partnership with The Daleks who rather than “conquer and destroy” have the mantra “invest and return” – the ultimate nightmare for an old Liberal – THATCHERITE DALEKS! They have an offer to make the UK the centre of a galactic trading zone, and are at their devious best manipulating newly elected MP Celia Dunthorpe (Mary Conlon) into their way of thinking, playing on her greed and prejudices, her lust for personal glory, her ambition to make the UK head of an empire again – perfect Dalek Quisling fodder.

As a background to this a new computer game console called Warfleet is sweeping the nation, offering state of the art graphics and online play in 1987, and it isn’t long before the connection between the two becomes apparent…

This is a classic Dalek story, it works on so many levels – it feels familiar, it has rebels, oppressed worlds, an Emperor Dalek and the beginnings of the Dalek Parliament seen in Asylum of the Daleks. McCoy is wonderful, he is my favourite classic era Doctor by a country mile, and he has rarely been better than he is here, completely shedding his Season 24 persona and becoming the frightening, dark, manipulative Seven of seasons 25 and26 and beyond. His speech to the Dalek Emperor in the final act is chilling – he lists his names The Doctor, the Ka Faraq Gatri, The Oncoming Storm – brilliant stuff.

I cant finish this review without heaping more praise on Bonnie Langford, getting to play the character Mel really should have been, using her skills as a computer programmer, showing her bravery, using her intelligence, she is absolutely stunning here – a completely believable, three dimensional character.

So a great beginning to another (hopefully) 200 releases for Big Finish, my favourite classic era Doctor being the Doctor he should be, Daleks, politics, multi layered thought provoking story about greed and ambition and the exclusion of the other. Well worth the investment of time, as it returns a 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The year is 1987, and Britain is divided. In Bradford, strikers are picketing and clashing with the police. In the City of London, stockbrokers are drinking champagne and politicians are courting the super-rich. The mysterious media mogul Alek Zenos, head of the Zenos Corporation, is offering Britain an economic miracle. His partners wish to invest – and their terms are too good to refuse.

While the Doctor investigates Warfleet, a new computer game craze that is sweeping the nation, Mel goes undercover to find out the truth about Zenos’s partners.

The Daleks have a new paradigm. They intend to conquer the universe using economic power. The power of the free market!

CAST:

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Melanie Bush), Kirsty Besterman (Serena Paget), Angus Wright (Alek Zenos), Mary Conlon (Celia Dunthorpe), Robbie Stevens (Niles Bunbury/Frank Lewis), Ashley Zhangazha (Brinsley Heaton), Lizzie Roper (Shari), Dominic Thornburn (Afrid), Nicholas Briggs (The Daleks).

Written By: Jonathan Morris
Directed By: Ken Bentley

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – THE FATE OF KRELOS

dw4d0407_thefateofkrelos_1417_cover_largeThink back to City of Death, all that wonderful dialogue about Paris having a bouquet, like a fine wine. Wonderful stuff, eh? So to allow wines to taste their best, they have to be allowed to breathe, to be opened and given time for the air to react with the wine before pouring and enjoying.

In the case of The Fate of Krellos Nick Briggs takes on the role of oeneologist and sommelier – he crafts an excellent vintage from the component parts in episode one, gives it just the right time to breathe in the early stages of part two and pours a particularly good glass of vintage Who in the closing moments. To put it in simple terms, The Fate of Krelos is a bit of a classic – Nick Briggs truly is a renaissance man – actor, director, writer, raconteur and at his very best in this story. And what a story!

What starts off as a light-hearted interlude with The Doctor and Leela going fishing, gets more and more sinister. The cast is small, Tom, Louise, John Leeson, Michael Cochrane and Veronica Roberts with the main bulk being Tom, Louise and John – but the atmosphere, the world building the tension is superb.

Krelos is a world that has reached total connectivity, every item connected to another, this is proudly announced by the Mayor of Krelos City. The Doctor and Leela decide to do some fishing on Krelos and meet the robotic form of Geralk (Michael Cochrane) an old explorer reliving his youth through his robot avatar. But something is wrong in the TARDIS – K9 has been interfacing with the TARDIS – the console room has turned back to how it looked in the era of the second Doctor, K9 tries to warn of danger and acts more and more strangely…

Any more would give away way, way too much – needless to say the tension is ramped up, the danger level goes up to 11 and you really truly do get a sinking feeling when it finally clicks in to place as to what is going on. Long time listeners may well be able to work it out before the Doctor does, but this does not in any way spoil the enjoyment.

The performances are spot on; there is a wonderful scene between Tom and Louise where they discuss going back in time to avert the catastrophe that they witness; it is very reminiscent of the scene between the Eleventh Doctor and River Song in “The Wedding of River Song” where River says all Eleven has to do is ask and an army will come to his aid – the 4th Doctor is under no illusions about the answer he will get and a lot more cautious about changing time than his future version. Michael Cochrane is quite, quite heartbreaking as Geralk, in a few lines you can picture his life, what he looks like, how he will react to situations – Nick Briggs has the characterisation spot on. Oh, and it ends on an almighty doom laden cliffhanger so there is more to come.

Really couldn’t ask for more in a Doctor Who story, disparate threads coming together, the threat of an almighty catastrophe hanging over everything, wonderful characterisation and a story that is perfectly paced – one of the best this year so far 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

There are dark skies on Krelos… and something gigantic is descending.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Leela set off for some fishing in the mountain pools of Krelos. K9 has interfaced with the TARDIS and has reactivated the architectural configuration from the days of the Doctor’s second incarnation. In passing, the Doctor notes it could do with a good clean. And there’s a familiar piece of material snagged on the console.

Far up the mountain, an aged explorer is in trouble. Will the Doctor and Leela be able to save him and his planet? And what is it that K9 has discovered in the TARDIS?

CAST:

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9), Michael Cochrane (Geralk), Veronica Roberts (Relly/Krelos Mayor)

Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

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

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