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

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

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

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

The book is available to pre-order now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I am getting ahead of myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Ed Watkinson


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

Not a trap. Or is it?

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

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

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

Written By: Justin Richards
Directed By: Ken Bentley


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Ed Watkinson


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

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

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


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

Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Ed Watkinson


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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Doctor Who: Last Christmas is on BBC1 at 6:15pm on Christmas Day

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Yearbook 2015


The latest Special Edition of Doctor Who Magazine reviews an incredible year for the programme, its spin-offs and licensed merchandise. Highlights include our first major interview with the show’s executive producer, Brian Minchin, in which he reflects on Peter Capaldi’s first year as the Doctor and looks forward to further adventures with the Twelfth Doctor.


  • Features on every episode in Peter Capaldi’s first series.
  • We speak to the team that accompanied Capaldi and Jenna Coleman on the Doctor Who World Tour.
  • Fourth Doctor Tom Baker discusses his return to television and audio Doctor Who.
  • Eighth Doctor Paul McGann reveals what he thinks about Capaldi’s Doctor.
  • Orchestrator and conductor Ben Foster previews the 2015 Symphonic Spectacular.
  • Inside the new ‘making of’ show, Doctor Who Extra.
  • Behind the scenes at the new Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff.
  • Interviews with some of the key players behind recent books, soundtracks, audio dramas, DVDs, Blu-rays and action figures.
  • Highlights from the year’s newspaper and magazine reviews of Doctor Who.
  • A round up of Doctor Who’s awards and honours from the last 12 months.
  • Detailed tributes to the Doctor Who luminaries who passed away in 2014.

… and much more!

“This is the Doctor Who Magazine almanac,” says editor Marcus Hearn, summing up the new publication. “We’ve taken a fresh look at every episode from Peter Capaldi’s first series, but we’ve also explored many other corners of the Doctor Who universe. For many fans, the television series is just part of a world that includes DVDs, Blu-rays, books, soundtrack albums, audio dramas and action figures. We’ve tried to reflect the last 12 months in all those different areas.”

Doctor Who Magazine: The 2015 Yearbook is out on Thursday 18 December, priced £5.99.

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DWM481_COVER_with bag


Head writer Steven Moffat unwraps this year’s Christmas Special, Last Christmas, and gives Doctor Who Magazine the lowdown on the Doctor’s face-off with Santa…

“I think I’m being pretty open that it’s Santa meets Alien meets The Thing from Another World meets Miracle on 34th Street,” Steven laughs. “It’s a weird mash up! There’s a base under siege, there are scary monsters. It’s one of the scariest Christmas Specials we’ve made, actually…”

Also inside this giant-sized Christmas issue…

  • DWM talks exclusively to Santa himself, Nick Frost, along with his elf helpers, The Wolf and Ian, played by Nathan McMullen and Dan Starkey. Meanwhile, Michael Troughton, who plays Professor Albert, talks about making his television Doctor Who début, and his close family connection to the series.
  • Rachel Talalay, director of this year’s phenomenal two-part finale, Dark Water and Death in Heaven, talks to DWM about the challenges of bringing this masterful Cyber-story to our screens.
  • DWM comic strip artist Mike Collins goes back to the drawing board and reveals all about his new role as a storyboard artist for the latest television series of Doctor Who.
  • Former showrunner Russell T Davies reveals new facts about 2007′s Voyage of the Damned in The Fact of Fiction!
  • 2014 gave us a new series and a fantastic new Doctor, and DWM looks over the past 12 months with the Review of 2014!
  • The first part of a brand-new comic strip for the Twelfth Doctor and Clara as they embark on a wartime desert adventure in The Instruments of War, written and illustrated by Mike Collins.
  • The intrepid Time Team passes comment on 2008’s festive Cyber-Special The Next Doctor.
  • It may be Christmas, but Steven Moffat still has time to answer readers’ questions in his exclusive column.
  • Jaqueline Rayner compiles her Christmas wish-list for Relative Dimensions.
  • The Watcher presents his annual Fiendishly Festive Christmas Quiz!
  • Have your say on Peter Capaldi’s first series as the Doctor in the DWM Season Survey.
  • Dark Water and Death in Heaven are put under the spotlight in The DWM Review.
  • The Watcher goes back to the early days of Doctor Who merchandise in Wotcha!
  • The DWM Crossword, competitions, and much more!

Doctor Who Magazine 481 – including a giant double-sided poster – is out on Thursday 11 December, priced £5.99.

Merry Christmas to Tom Spilsbury and all at Doctor Who Magazine!

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The BBC have released a 2014 Christmas trailer featuring Doctor Who in the form of the original actor to play the role, the late great William Hartnell.

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The 2014 Doctor Who Christmas Special, Last Christmas, starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Nick Frost premieres Christmas Day, Thursday December 25th on BBC America.

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I like character development, that’s why I am such a fan of “new” Doctor Who. The characters are so much more real than in the classic series, when, with the best will in the world, many were just ciphers to forward the plot onwards, luckily this has been redeemed by Big Finish with the Companion Chronicles, actors have been given the chance to play the characters that could have been on screen had there been the will back in the classic era.

Of all the characters to be developed by Big Finish, the biggest journey we have seen (or heard) is for the Eighth Doctor. From just over an hour of TV time, Big Finish have taken our floppy haired frock coated fop, put him through the emotional wringer, stood back and waited to see what emerged the other side – and what emerged was the Eighth Doctor of Dark Eyes, stripped down, shorn of his foppish hair, a man on a mission with a hard edge and a determination brought about by the realisation that the horror and evil in the universe MUST be dealt with. Gone are the soft frothy adventures, Dark Eyes has brought us almost a new man, forged from death and loss.

In Night of the Doctor we saw an Eighth Doctor unwilling to take part in the time war, but trying to help on the periphery, Dark Eyes sees an Eighth Doctor who has, for want of a better description “learned to stop worrying and love the bomb”, he’s almost the warrior Doctor he couldn’t quite bring himself to be for the time war.

So, Dark Eyes 3. It’s the Doctor versus the Master set against the backdrop of the Eminence War – for those of you unfamiliar with the Eminence, essential listening is Dark Eyes 2, Destroy the Infinite and The Seeds of War. A potted history, the Eminence is an omnipotent sentient gas, if breathed in the breather takes “the breath of forever” and is transformed into an infinite warrior in the service of the Eminence, and these infinite armies are waging a long protracted war against Earth alliance.

As with the previous Dark Eyes releases this takes place over four stories in a box set.

The Master, as in Dark Eyes 2 is played with camp menacing relish by Alexander Macqueen, his plan is as convoluted as ever, involving using Molly O’Sullivan (she of the Dark Eyes) genetically engineered resistance to the Eminence to spread an anti Eminence vaccination which can be used to him to exert control over humanity. Confused? I was too.
This is a very very in depth story with many twists and turns bluffs and counter bluffs.

Part 1 The Death of Hope is the set up – The Master rides into a frontier town where the remaining residents are tricked into receiving the Eminence vaccinate from Molly, the Master’s actions convince The Doctor to get involved and in Part 2, The Reviled, the Doctor meets up with old friend Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) in a refugee camp for displaced humans, this is a really grim chapter, in fact the whole story has a grim doom laden hopeless atmosphere, events in his story convince The Doctor to try to prevent the creation of The Eminence, leading to part 3 – Masterplan, my personal favourite of the set. There are lots of great character pieces including a two-hander between The Doctor and the Master whilst trapped in a crashing ship, and Part 4, Rule of the Eminence, brings the set to a close and is suitably epic, with the Master’s plan coming to fruition, his willing army of humans about to wage war on the cosmos, and with an ally in the Eminence, things seem hopeless.

The ending is suitably downbeat and melancholic, very much in keeping with the tone of the whole set, and with Dark Eyes 4 ending the series in March next year, all bets really are off as to what happens next.

It’s the sort of set I appreciated more than enjoyed, all involved act their socks off, but special plaudits to Alex Macqueen as the Master, a sneering little bully who delights in petty cruelty because he can, and Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka, world weary and wise – and of course Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, a Time Lord with the weight of the universe on his shoulders. It’s startling how McGann’s incarnation has come on since his TV debut, he’s now a different man, but it’s been a completely organic character development, I can only assume that whatever befalls him in Dark Eyes 4 takes him off the dark path he is on and back to the path of pacifist, healer and saviour that we see in Night of the Doctor.

So appreciated rather than enjoyed, it’s just too grim in tone for me, but incredibly well written, hard hitting and truly epic in scale – and epic is something Who has been lacking of late.

Overall I give this an Emminently appreciated 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkison


“Molly O’Sullivan? Hello you.”

In his quest for universal domination, the Master plans to exploit the terrifying Infinite Warriors of the mysterious Eminence. The Doctor’s friend, Molly, is key to that plan’s execution, and now, aided by corrupted genius Sally Armstrong, the Master is close to success.

Paranoid and perplexed after his recent experience, the Doctor skirts the fringes of the fifty-year conflict between humanity and the Infinite Armies. Wary of changing the course of history, he fears that to fight the Eminence would be to do the Daleks’ bidding. But when Time Lord CIA agent Narvin provides the impetus for the Doctor to act, Liv Chenka joins him in a desperate race to save their friend and stop the Master.

As the Doctor goes head to head with his oldest and deadliest rival, this war is about to get very personal indeed…


Paul McGann (The Doctor), Nicola Walker (Liv Chenka), Ruth Bradley (Molly O’Sullivan), Alex Macqueen (The Master), Natalie Burt (Dr Sally Armstrong), David Sibley (The Eminence), Sean Carlsen (Narvin)

1: The Death of Hope
Georgie Fuller (Hope Gardner), Geoffrey Breton (Leo Gardner)

2: The Reviled
Sacha Dhawan (Jaldam), Sarah Mowat (Gajeeda), Laura Riseborough (Sharma)

3: Masterplan
David Sibley (Professor Markus Schriver), John Banks (Captain/Lieutenant)

4: Rule of the Eminence
Jonathan Forbes (Walter Vincent), Beth Chalmers (Casey Carraway), Georgia Moffett (Engineer Tallow)

Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley


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The BBC has announced that the title of this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special is Last Christmas. The episode is written by Steven Moffat and directed by Paul Wilmshurst.

Last Christmas

The BBC has also released a promotional image for the story featuring Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Jenna Coleman as Clara and Nick Frost as Santa Claus, along with Dan Starkey as Ian and Nathan McMullen as Wolf, two of Santa’s helpers who appeared in the recent preview shown as part of the BBC’s Children in Need appeal.

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Frank Skinner (Perkins) hosts this very special series 8 panel with guests Peter Capaldi (the Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Samuel Anderson (Danny Pink), Michelle Gomez (Missy) and Steven Moffat (lead writer and showrunner), to mark the DVD and Blu-ray release of Doctor Who Series 8.

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20140704143246the-widows_assassin_cover_largeCast your minds back to 4th October 1986, it’s one of those days I remember very well. Doctor Who was back after it’s 18 month hiatus, and Trial of a Timelord was in full swing. 4th October 1986 was the date of the broadcast of Episode Five, or if you like Episode One of Mindwarp.

It was a warm early Autumn day, and what makes it so memorable was the continuity announcement before the story. I was upstairs in my Grandfather’s house, watching on a black and white portable TV and the continuity announcer said something like “Now the return of an old enemy for Doctor Who”.  Now remember, in 1986 we had no internet, fanzines were beyond me, and I didn’t subscribe to Doctor Who Magazine, so this announcement fired my imagination and became the one I really remember. For those brief few minutes, the possibilities were endless – old enemy meant, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen! Or in this case, as my disappointed 14 year old self found out a few minutes later, old enemy meant Sil and the Mentors. These weren’t an old enemy, they had only been introduced the previous season! I was cross, very cross indeed, but over the next few weeks I was enthralled by episodes 5-8 or Mindwarp. It was a deliciously macabre dark story with a cataclysmic ending and to top it all it starred SIR BRIAN BLESSED. The confused ending left me confused at the time, but it was a fabulous exit for Peri, a real blaze of glory, until it was revealed she had actually been rescued by King Yrcarnos and yes, Peri was going to marry SIR BRIAN BLESSED and become a warrior queen of the Krontep.


That makes no sense at all, and this months main range story from Big Finish “The Widow’s Assassin” carries on Peri’s story. For those who have not seen Trial of a Timelord, go and watch it now…

Are you back? Then I will begin.

This months story could be renamed “What Peri Did Next”. The story is beautifully framed as a fairy story – we meet up with Peri on her wedding day on the home-world of the Krontep. The Doctor turns up for the wedding, is given short shrift by Peri and is incarcerated in the dungeons.

Turns out that the Doctor has been feeling lonely since his companion Flip left him and he wanted to find Peri to ease his guilt at leaving her on Thoros Beta. The Peri he finds is much changed, cold, aloof, hurt and betrayed by being left behind. The world building is superb a sort of Gilliam/Pratchet/Pythonesque world with larger than life caricatures all giving a turn rather than going for realism, it stays just the right side of camp and is very much in keeping with the overall tone.

The story itself is a murder mystery which uses two very overused tropes, time travel and mind-scapes. I groaned when yet another virtual world was conjured up, but was completely wrong-footed, because this mind-scape actually gives a wonderful amount of character development for the Doctor.  The “lonely little boy” touched on in The Girl In the Fireplace is referenced again here, but this lonely little boy is The Doctor, and how he dealt with his loneliness is central to the story and to its resolution.

The supporting cast are again very Gilliamesque  – the first and second guards are actually called Guard One and Guard Two and their boss has been gene spliced with a sheep! It’s funny, but it’s also tragic and grotesque, imagine a Jabberwocky sort of look and you get the idea

So a great reunion of Ol’ Sixie and Peri – will there be more adventures for them? Spoilers sweetie, I am afraid… Suffice to say this was a joy to listen to, camp, silly, horrific, exciting, sad and moving – everything you could want from a Doctor Who story.

Highly recommended – a bit of a classic, really – and a well deserved 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Once, long ago, in a land of monsters and corridors, a fair maiden was captured, and placed in a deep sleep.

She was used to being captured, and she had a hero who rescued her on just such occasions. But this time the hero never came.

And the fair maiden slept on.

Eventually, a King rescued the maiden, and made her his bride, which many wise old women might tell you is just another way of capturing fair maidens.

And still the fair maiden slept on.

Then, the hero had another stab at rescuing the maiden from her prison, but he was too late. And, more importantly, he had forgotten the rules of fairy tales.

He didn’t slay the dragon.


Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Tim Chipping (Constable Wolsey/Mandrake), John Banks (Baron Pteratrark/Guard Two), Andrew Dickens (Reverand Flitamus/Guard One), Fiona Sheehan (Princess Dirani), Glynn Sweet (Harcross The Ever-Patient/Pheen-Tu/Flunkey)

Written By: Nev Fountain
Directed By: Ken Bentley

(Anyone purchasing this story from the Big Finish site will be able to download the original Extras track on MP3, which is 8 minutes longer than the version on the CD which had to be cut down just to fit onto the disc)



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the_bounty_of_ceres_cover_largeIt’s not often I get wrong-footed by a TV show… having said that, here is a list of times I have been wrong-footed by them in the past:
Jonathan Creek – Satan’s Chimney, fooled me not once, but twice.
Doctor Who – Dark Water, didn’t see the Missy reveal coming.
Twin Peaks – got Laura Palmer’s killer completely wrong.
I solved Broadchurch, sussed out the ending of Breaking Bad, wasn’t Lost with Lost, but I digress…

This months Early Adventures story completely wrong-footed me, the wrong-footing was so complete that I didn’t even realise I was about to be wrong-footed – but stay with me as this is not the whole story.

The story begins with The Doctor making repairs to the TARDIS using the Monk’s directional unit. Things don’t go to well and soon The Doctor, Vicki and Steven are locked out of the TARDIS and in a sort of moonbase. It’s very very “Hartnell”, it’s slow, suspenseful and full of atmosphere.  We know what the characters know as they explore their surroundings and slowly, very slowly, the plot unfolds.

The pace is slow, almost sedate, and it takes two episodes for anything of note to actually happen. We find out our heroes are in a base on the Moon Ceres in an asteroid belt, a small crew is in charge of mining but not much else, then it all kicks off. Service robots go mad, a malign voice talks to the Doctor and one of the crew and the planet it seems is coming alive and seeking revenge for the pain that the mining has caused it.

Episodes Three and Four see the pace step up as the protagonists fight for their lives against the service robots and the dwindling air supply.  Then the rug is pulled out from under the listeners feet and the story you thought you were listening to isn’t quite that, it’s actually a lot nastier, contrived and spiteful.

Peter Purves is fabulous as Steven and his Hartnell voice is suprisingly good. Maureen O’Brien reprises Vicki with ease and the guest cast, especially Julia Hills as Qureshi, give great well-rounded and believable performances.  They are not heroes, just people at work having a very very bad day.

As I said before it is very slow to start, perhaps it would have been a better three-part story, and the almost cliche of a sentient planet is almost a cliche but any more would be spoilering.

So whilst definitely a bounty, the Bounty of Ceres is more of a Milk Chocolate Bounty than a Dark Chocolate bounty, and as such gets 7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Ceres. A tiny, unforgiving ball of ice and rock hanging between Mars and Jupiter.  It’s no place to live, and it takes a special kind of person to work there.

The crew of the Cobalt Corporation mining base know exactly how deadly the world outside their complex is, but the danger isn’t just outside anymore. The systems they rely on to keep them safe are failing and the planet is breaking in.

When the TARDIS strands Steven, Vicki and the Doctor on the base, they have to fight a foe they can barely comprehend to survive.


Maureen O’Brien (Vicki/Narrator), Peter Purves (Steven/Narrator), Richard Hope (Moreland), Julia Hills (Qureshi), Peter Forbes (Thorn)

Written By: Ian Potter
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman


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