REVIEW – THE WORLDS OF BIG FINISH

The Worlds of Big Finish coverIf I have one fault, (actually I have many), it’s that I tend to over-think things; follow this if you dare reader! …

In Jago and Litefoot Series 7, Sherlock Holmes is undeniably a fictional character; Messers H & L meet Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who is persuaded to write more stories; with me so far? Anyhow, The Doctor is a real character in the worlds of Jago and Litefoot, Talons, S4, Justice of Jalxar, they interact and have adventures together. Now, if Sherlock Holmes is fictional in Jago & Litefoot & the Doctor is real in Jago and Litefoot, how on earth is Sherlock Holmes real in Doctor Who? Glad I got that off my chest, answers on a tweet to @CouncillorEd.

So my preamble brings me to The Worlds of Big Finish – an epic story spanning aeons, told in six acts, each with a Big Finish hero taking the main role. From a galactic archive in the far future to Victorian London to the roaring 20’s, to modern London to Mars, to the planet Sisyphus 9 – it never lets up. This is Big Finish does The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Avengers Assemble – however, this is far far superior to either of these Hollywood offerings for two big reasons – and these should be the considerations for any writer – Number 1: The Characters, and Number 2: The Plot.

So the characters, and what a line up; all related in one way or another to the Doctor, so a genuine genre, spanning, franchise crossing spin off . Abby and Zara from Graceless, Sherlock Holmes, Dorian Gray, Iris Wildthyme, Vienna Salvatori and Bernice Summerfield – could be a crowded list, but they way the story is told is far far cleverer than this – really really clever indeed, in fact there is only a couple of cross overs with characters meeting (Dorian meets Holmes and Vienna meets Bernice) but all the stories are linked by a book, the most important book in creation called The History of Earth Vol 36,279 by Kronos Vad. The device of the book is not just a hook to hang the story on, it’s central to driving the plot onwards.

The epic begins with the Graceless Girls Abby and Zara visiting the Archive (think The Library in Doctor Who) to see an old friend, only they arrive thousands of years too late. People are being killed off due to a cult of “Gomegogue”, it is linked to a book – the book – The History of Earth, which Abby and Zara take back in time for safe keeping, leading to the Holmes adventure, which leads to the Dorian except, which leads to Iris, to Vienna and finally Bernice.

I feel like I should stop now, as I will utterly ruin the story for anyone by giving anything else away – but I can talk about the characters, so well drawn, so rounded. Abby and Zara first appeared in the Fifth Doctor Key 2 Time story, they are flirtatious, feisty and clever. Holmes is played by the fab Nick Briggs – it was my first experience of this version of Holmes and what an interpretation; an older, more world weary take on the great man, semi retired to keep bees, his mind is still as keen as it was but he no longer has the tenacity to pursue a case to the end he once had. I look forward to hearing more from Mr Briggs as Holmes – bought a few of the episodes in the promotion last week, and we have All Consuming Fire to come later this year – Holmes and the Doctor, now that is a crossover!

Alexander Vlahos is a revelation as Dorian Gray; this was my particular favourite section of the epic – dark and mysterious, Vlahos is a seductive, arrogant, braggart as Gray – a true “anti hero” but utterly compelling and (curse you big finish, my wallet hates you!!!) I have purchased the remainder of the Dorian Gray range based on this section alone.

What can you say about the lovely Katy Manning as Iris Wildthyme – as mad as a box of frogs, an intergalactic bag lady with a twinkle in her eye and a gin in her hand! This is the lightest in the series, and a good bit of well-earned comic relief after the first three doom laden episodes (Katy, I am not ignoring Iris in the buying of episodes, already had them).

Vienna Salvatori Bounty Hunter is sassy, sexy and tough as old boots, Chase Masterson plays her as a tough, no nonsense, businesslike, you would not mess with this lady, her section reminded me very much of an episode of Hustle, all casino’s, mob bosses, crosses and double crosses, again (curse you big finish, my overdraft will be growing by the second!!!) I have indulged in some of Vienna’s episodes.

Finally the one and only Bernice Summerfield – the greatest companion of the Doctor we didn’t see on TV; drunk, sarcastic, witty, stupendously intelligent (and holder of the Edward Watkinson chair of Archaeology at Dellah Univeristy, I will have you know!), her story brings all the threads together – the book, the “Gomegogue”, the prophecies – there are so many real “ahhhh” and “ooooh” & “oh that’s what that was!” moments, it’s brilliantly written, paced, edited, acted, and scored – the story is bigger than the sum of its parts – its a true epic that I wish we could see the like of on the BBC in their Doctor Who episodes.

Should you buy it? Absolutely yes, but be prepared to dip in to the worlds of all the other characters as well, get in touch with your bank and extend your overdraft – a great jumping on point for newcomers to the extended world spun-off from Doctor Who.

An epic and engaging 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

From the streets of Edwardian London to the corridors of a near-infinite library in the distant future, a single book holds the key to the fate of life on Earth.

Some believe it predicts our future – and the apocalypse – with unnerving accuracy. Others will stop at nothing to destroy it, and will chase it from one side of the universe to the other; from a country house in the Roaring Twenties to the casinos of Mars, and from 221B Baker Street to the terrifying desert world of Sisyphus IX…

Featuring Abby and Zara, Sherlock Holmes, Dorian Gray, Iris Wildthyme, Vienna Salvatori and Bernice Summerfield, The Worlds of Big Finish brings together some of Big Finish’s best-loved characters in an adventure spanning thousands of years!

This release includes a fourth bonus disc – Round the Worlds – where director Scott Handcock leads a roundtable discussion with writer and cast about this special adventure, plus a selection of outtakes from recording.

CAST:

Lisa Bowerman (Bernice Summerfield), Nicholas Briggs (Sherlock Holmes), Laura Doddington (Zara), Ciara Janson (Abby), Katy Manning (Iris Wildthyme), Chase Masterson (Vienna Salvatori), Alexander Vlahos (Dorian Gray)

1. Graceless: The Archive

Barnaby Edwards (Romulus Chang), Hugh Skinner (Lucian Theta-Singh), Lisa Bowerman (The Archive), David Menkin (Security Drones)

2. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Bloomsbury Bomber

David Warner (Mycroft Holmes), Michael Thomson (Alexander Korvo), George Rainsford (Albert Taylor), Katy Manning (Mrs Waters), Terry Molloy (Mr Robins), Barnaby Edwards (Alfred Vandermeer)

3. The Confessions of Dorian Gray: The Feast of Magog

George Rainsford (Evan Morgan), Rebecca Night (Pamela St John-Edwards), Michael Thomson (Alexander Korvo)

4. Iris Wildthyme: Kronos Vad’s History of Earth (Vol. 36,379)

Hugh Skinner (Captain Turner), Katharine Mangold (Jenni Marcel), David Menkin (Zack Hoffman), Barnaby Edwards (Mr Vandermeer), John Dorney (Bridge Controller)

5. Vienna: The Lady from Callisto Rhys

Rhys Jennings (Cage Zorn), Rosanna Miles (Magenta Dotrice), Rebecca Night (Lara Memphis), John Dorney (Rodrigo), David Menkin (Check-In Attendant), Katharine Mangold (Passenger), Terry Molloy (Driver)

6. Bernice Summerfield: The Phantom Wreck

Terry Molloy (Captain Quinn), Rosanna Miles (Selina), Rhys Jennings (Phillips), John Dorney (O’Neill), Katharine Mangold (Jenni Marcel), Barnaby Edwards (Romulus Chang)

This release includes a fourth bonus disc – Round the Worlds – where director Scott Handcock leads a roundtable discussion with writer and cast about this special adventure, plus a selection of outtakes from recording.

Written By: David Llewellyn
Directed By: Scott Handcock

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – JAGO AND LITEFOOT SERIES 9

jago-litefoot-9_image_largeWhen Victorian London becomes a comfort zone, what do you do? One idea is to move the action to 1960’s London – big tick, been there done that in Season 5 – so after the events of Series 8, our heroes take a well-earned break. They decide to go on a cruise – and so (ahem!)… My Lords Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce for your enjoyment, entertainment and edification, four tales of the ocean blue, of our daring two, of a cruise of the convivial, ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present… Jago and Litefoot Series 9!

So, four stories, but all very closely linked by a central mystery – taking our heroes away from London, Ellie and Sgt Quick really reinvigorates the characters, the comfort zone and support network are gone and they must make new acquaintances on the voyage in order to survive. Survive you ask? well, yes, as this being Jago and Litefoot this is no ordinary cruise.

Story One is called The Flying Frenchman – it sets the scene, introduces us to the crew and fellow passengers on the cruise, the ship is called the Fata Morgana and our heroes spend time making the acquaintance of fellow passengers, it’s actually quite slow and takes a while to get going, but then a fog appears, the ship stops and becomes becalmed, and they are all alone lost on the ocean. They send away rescue parties in boats, but they return minutes later, having been away for days according to the rescue parties. Soon food begins to run low, and then another ship approaches through the fog, another Fata Morgana from a point further on in time, and then things start to get really strange…

The adventure is a bit slow to get going, but really intriguing when it does and sets the scene of the central mystery of the story – what has caused the strange fog and why is it transporting the Fata Morgana to random locations…

HAYLEY’S THOUGHTS:

It may come as no surprise that my favourite classic series story is The Talons of Weng- Chiang, due almost entirely to the genius combination of Messers Jago & Litefoot – I say ‘almost’ because of the master that is Tom Baker! I’ve been eagerly awaiting Series 9 and the opening episode did not disappoint. I have initial reservations about stories set outside London and the Red Tavern; Ellie and Sergeant Quick feel as integral to the series as our fine protagonists. and the city has almost become the third star. However, new characters are always so well rounded and intriguing that you are immediately engaged and those aboard the Fata Morgana tick all the boxes. The story itself, to echo Ed, is a slow builder, setting the scene and introducing new temporary companions. Once the fog descends and envelopes all the tension builds and our taste for the weird and wonderful starts to become satisfied. Episode 2 had to be heard and as soon as possible…!!

__________

Story Two is called The Devils Dicemen and is my personal favourite of the set, it is very Jago-centric, you can see it coming a mile off, but it’s all the funnier for it. The Fog has deposited the Fata Morgana in Monte Carlo, Jago and Litefoot decide to visit a local casino, Jago thinks his luck is in as he and ships Purser Aubrey (Jamie Newall) have a winning streak at the casino, as Litefoot befriends Dr Betterman (David Warner). Jago & Aubrey are lured to the Dark Casino by the seductive Madame Diabolique (Miranda Raison) with hilarious and deadly consequences.

A joy from beginning to end, Jago is in full alliterative pompous poltroon mode, his vanity blinding him to the path he is taking, whilst Litefoot plays a quieter more cerebral role in investigating the Dark Casino from another angle. Top stuff!

HAYLEY’S THOUGHTS:

This episode felt detached from the first and took us in another direction, but where it took us was just as thrilling. We’re on our way to a casino, but so is Henry, and I think you can probably guess that our hapless impresario will find himself in deep water. An excellent episode with great characters that shows Jago at his buffoonish and brave best.

__________

Story Three is called The Island of Death, and basically does what it says on the tin – albeit a Jago and Litefoot shaped tin. The mysterious fog deposits the Fata Morgana on an island, we don’t know where it is, but our heroes decided to investigate – this is a very H G Wells style story, lost island, lost tribe, monsters, all excellent boys own stuff, which could be dull, but with our investigators of the infernal there is never a dull moment, Jago gets to practice his music hall hypnotism act in the most unlikely of situations, the story rattles along at quite a pace and finishes on a cliffhanger which leads us on to story four – oh corks!

HAYLEY’S THOUGHTS:

Michael Palin may well have written an episode of ‘Ripping Yarns’ like this one. You can see the cover of the novella – a French ‘Alan Quatermain’, a society damsel, mysterious savage islanders and the two very English gentleman. But what is the powerful force that terrifies and controls…?

__________

Story Four is called Return of the Nightmare, it brings together various threads from the three previous stories, what is the fog, how is it generated, why is there a murderous beast loose on the Fata Morgana and how can the situation be resolved? All these questions are answered back in London where our heroes team up again with Ellie the barmaid (Lisa Bowerman) and Sgt Quick (Conrad Asquith) to defeat the nameless horror that the fog brings – proper edge of your seat adventure with the usual banter and bonhomie, and finishes as always with a pint at the Red Taverna and a teaser to lead in to the next series…

HAYLEY’S THOUGHTS:

I know I said I feel slightly less enthusiastic about adventures outside ‘The Big Smoke’ (sorry), but I almost felt sorry when attention turned back to their stomping ground. I was getting used to life aboard the Fata Morgana, grim and unpredictable as it was. Having said that, the voices of Ellie and Sgt Quick made the return home all the more welcome and you felt that with them, a resolution was in sight. So we raced towards it, breathless and anxious, but not quite wanting the adventure to end.

__________

I loved this series, it was a little slow to get going, but once the first twenty minutes or so were passed, it didn’t let up – Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter are masters at work, their performances seem effortless – why oh why they were not given a spin-off series on TV I will never know – come on BBC, how’s about they meet up with the Paternoster Gang, just one scene, it’s not a lot to ask…

So, cruise of the convivial, voyage of the venerable and again another 10 out of 10 for Messers Jago and Litefoot.

HAYLEY’S THOUGHTS:

Too few episodes!! Yes I do know that sounds ungrateful but I listened to the series in one go, and after waiting so enthusiastically I felt it was over too soon. They certainly packed in a lot of real adventure, peril and humour and it is the best of the series away from their natural home; each episode was a joy. It was wonderful to hear the great David Warner as Dr Betterman in Episode 2 and I do hope they make more of the character in Series 10, which I am anxious to hear. So with that in mind I would like Big Finish to hurry it up a bit; we Jagoists and Litefootists, (for that’s what we are), just can’t wait.

__________

Written by Ed and Hayley Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Flying Frenchmen by Jonathan Morris

Jago and Litefoot embark on a cruise. It’s supposed to be a relaxing break, but what terrors lurk in the mysterious fog? And what about the other ships that seem trapped along with the Fata Morgana – are they friend or foe? Or something much more frightening?

The Devil’s Dicemen by Justin Richards

Arriving at Monte Carlo, Jago is keen to try his luck at the famous casino. But if he’s not careful he could lose a lot more than just money. While Litefoot makes a new friend, Jago and ship’s purser Aubrey find themselves playing for high stakes at the Clandestine Dark Casino.

Island of Death by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris

Arriving at a beautiful island, Jago and Litefoot discover evidence of a missing expedition. Can they discover what happened to the ship’s crew – before it happens to them? And will they be able to avoid the amorous advances of the formidable Lady Danvers?

Return of the Nightmare by Justin Richards

There is a murderer loose aboard the ship. If Jago and Litefoot can solve the mystery of the strange fog and return to London, will that make matters better, or far worse? The answers lie deep in the past, and they soon learn that not everyone is who – or what – they might seem.

CAST:

Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot), Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Conrad Asquith (Inspector Quick), Lisa Bowerman (Ellie), Jamie Newall (Aubrey), David Charles (Captain Mercer), Sarah Badel (Lady Isobelle Danvers), David Warner (Dr Luke Betterman), Miranda Raison (Madame Diabolique), Dan Starkey (Neville Tibbs), Anthony Howell (Victor Bataille), Jonathan Coy (Fowler)

Written By: Jonathan Morris, Justin Richards, Simon Barnard, Paul Morris
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Justin Richards
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – THE KING OF THE DEAD

dwst0505_thekingofthedead_1417_cover_largeHalf an hour really isn’t a long time to tell a story, you have to be concise and frugal while creating a believable world. This months Short Trips does all of these.

The King of the Dead is the latest Short Trips release, bite-sized slices of Who, talking books told by one of the actors of the era. This months release is the fifth release of the year, so is a Fifth Doctor story, set between Earthshock and Time Flight, I assume this as Tegan is still trying to get home and there is no Adric. The TARDIS actually materialises in the right time in the right place for once, 1980’s London, so far so not typical – but they have materialised in the middle of the hottest ticket in town – The King of the Dead, an interactive play, partly improvised, partly acted, where the audience wear masks. This story is at the case of the chickens coming home to roost, of events years before that the Doctor wasn’t even party to effecting the here and now, it is a revenge story, a tragedy – a real study of the effect of loss and the establishments attitude to it, sometimes a stiff upper lip isn’t the best way to deal, sometimes there should have been another way.

Sarah Sutton really brings this story to life doing reasonable impersonations of Davison and Tegan – but the magic of this story is that even though it is so short, it pulls you in and genuinely involves and intrigues you so it seems longer than it actually is.

A very worthy addition to the Short Trips range, not quite a King, but definitely an heir apparent 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

When the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan arrive in 1980s London, they find the current hot ticket is The King of the Dead, an interactive theatre experience they’ve inadvertently become part of. The Doctor settles into his usual role – trying to save the day after discovering an alien presence – but it’s Nyssa who finds herself dealing with someone who is working from a different script entirely…

CAST:

Sarah Sutton (Narrator)

Written By: Ian Atkins
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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DWAS – BACK TO THE EIGHTIES EVENT DATE CHANGE

image.phpThe Doctor Who Appreciation Society have announced a change of date for their forthcoming event, Back to the Eighties:

Following discussions with our hotel venue in Manchester we have taken the decision to change the date of our event from 10th October 2015 to 24th October 2015. This is for a number of reasons but principally due to the low availability of accommodation in central Manchester over the weekend of 10th/11th October as a result of a Rugby World Cup match being played in the city at that time.

The one day convention takes place at the Pendulum Hotel in Manchester:

‘Back to the 80s’ is the next one day event on behalf of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society. For the first time in eight years we are moving out of London – this time to Manchester where we have found a superb new event venue.

The theme for the day is, unsurprisingly, Doctor Who in the 1980s – the period when fandom really came into its own. Join us and celebrate all things 1980s, from long scarves to robotic dogs, celery, cricket bats, orange spats, paisley patterns and Hawaiian shirts.

As with all DWAS events, ‘Back to the 80s’ will offer the usual mix of guests panels, on screen presentations, autographs, photo studio, merchandise and more. We pride ourselves on offering a well organised event at the the best possible value – and this event offers the biggest discount for DWAS members in some time.

You can book right now online or by post. As the event begins to take shape and guests are booked, you will find details announced on the DWAS website.

Thanks to the Doctor Who Appreciation Society

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REVIEW – THE MAN BEHIND THE MASTER

Book LaunchWhile growing up watching Doctor Who during the 1980′s, one of the things that I always looked forward to was the return of the Doctor’s arch-nemesis The Master, played by the late actor Anthony Ainley.

Years later I would get to see him interviewed at the first ever convention that I attended. He was both entertaining and charming on stage but didn’t really go much into his own background during the interview. Anthony never did an interview for DWM and didn’t talk about his childhood, even when he died different publications published different dates as to when he was born, as no-one was quite sure. Ainley was a bit of an enigma, people knew about his working life but not many people knew about his personal one – until now that is.

The Man Behind The Master is released this month by Fantom Films as a website exclusive, to be released later as trade this September, is the first ever biography about the man who sent millions of children running behind the sofa with his portrayal of the evil Master.

The book has been a labour of love for the writer, who spent over a year compiling the information within from many different sources and interviews that were conducted during the process of writing the book. Inside we learn about Anthony’s early life, when he went under his real name of Anthony Holmes, to becoming a teenager and growing up into the man that many of us saw on television. It also goes beyond his appearances in Doctor Who to look at his later attendances at Doctor Who conventions and his love of playing the game of cricket. Writing this review, it is all so tempting to share with you some of the surprises in the book but I think it would be better to leave them out so as not to spoil the read.

Karen Hollis does an excellent job of tell the story of Anthony’s life without making things sound too sensationalised or scandalous. As well as learning about Anthony, Karen takes the time to expand on his surroundings at certain parts of his life which gives the reader a much richer experience and a feeling of almost being there with him.

Inside the book is also a collection of rare and never before seen pictures of Anthony, quite a few lent to the author to be published in the book, by the people who grew up with or were personal friends of Anthony.

After reading this book, I went away knowing a lot more about the actor and the man, perhaps understanding why he became so secretive about himself in later life, and how his upbringing would have affected him in this way. The book is a gripping read and a must have for any fan of the actor, the Master, or 1980′s Doctor Who in general.

The Man Behind the Master is available now published in hardback from the Fantom Films Website priced £19.99.

Thanks to Nick Headley

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES #2

DWA02_P01_COVER_FOR EMAIL

The second issue of Panini’s regenerated Doctor Who Adventures hits the newsstands on 21st May, and promises more thrills, more adventures and more excitement than ever!

Opening proceedings, the Doctor and Clara find themselves rocking out at the end of the universe as they face the deadly hunger of the ‘Devourer of the Cosmos’ in this issue’s strip story The Big Hush, drawn by Russ Leach, written by Jason Quinn and coloured by John Burns.

KNOW YOUR ENEMIES
Next up, readers get to access the TARDIS Data Core to find out about some of the Doctor’s strangest and deadly enemies, including the Whisper Men, the Boneless, Prisoner Zero, the Vashta Nerada and the Smilers.

CLARA’S CRAFT STUDIO
Then we join Clara as she shows you how to make your own Foretold Desk Guard. With this on your desk, nobody will ever dare pinch your pens without permission!

UNIT ALIEN ARCHIVES
Of course, if you’re going to make the Foretold Desk Guard, then you’d do well to know more about the Foretold himself by checking out the UNIT Alien Archive on the monstrous Mummy of the Orient Express.

STRAX’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
Strax will then show us the delights of Skaro, the Asylum, San Helios and the Library. If you’re planning a trip across the cosmos then check out your destination with Strax before you book your tickets!

THE PATERNOSTER GANG INVESTIGATES
Strax and Jenny go undercover as a variety act as the Paternoster Gang investigate ghostly goings on at The Palace of Wonder music hall in The Phantom of the Music Hall, a brand new three page text story.

With prizes, activities, posters and much more on offer, Doctor Who Adventures is the hottest spot in the galaxy for all Doctor Who fans aged 5-500!

Issue 2 comes with a Free Mega Monster Set!

Doctor Who Adventures issue 2 goes on sale 21st May 2015, price £3.99

Thanks to Jason Quinn – Editor, Doctor Who Adventures

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FOURTH DOCTOR AUDIOS COME TO BBC RADIO 4 EXTRA

The first season of Fourth Doctor adventures from Big Finish is coming to BBC Radio 4 extra later this month.

destinationnervacover_cover_large

The season begins with Destination Nerva from 2012, which brings together Tom Baker and Louise Jameson in a story written by Nicholas Briggs.

After saying their goodbyes to Professor Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago, the Doctor and Leela respond to an alien distress call beamed direct from Victorian England. It is the beginning of a journey that will take them to the newly built Space Dock Nerva… where a long overdue homecoming is expected.

The series starts on Radio 4 extra on Saturday 16th May at 6pm. Radio 4 extra can be heard globally on the BBC iPlayer.

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REVIEW – DEATH MATCH

bfptomcd025_death_match_cover_largeWhen I was younger, in the 1980’s, I was an avid reader of 2000 AD – not so much for Judge Dredd, but for Strontium Dog. Strontium Dog was the derogatory term for mutants who took on the job of Bounty Hunters, and the hero of the comic strip was Johnny Alpha. His mutation if I remember correctly was something to do with his eyes – anyhow, there was one Strontium Dog story that stuck with me, it was called The Killing. So famous was this story that it even had a spin off ZX Spectrum game. In the Killing, combatants enter an arena and pick each other off until only one remains, the tension in this particular story was that Johnny Alpha’s best friend Wulf Sternhammer was also a contestant…

It’s a story that has been told many times. The latest big screen version is probably The Hunger Games, a similar theme and a similar outcome, and now this month’s Fourth Doctor release from Big Finish enters this arena (sorry) of story telling with Death Match.

Following on from last month’s story, Leela has been kidnapped by The Master and fights as his champion in the Death match. The match itself is entertainment for oligarchs, criminals and the super-rich and their champions fight each other for their sponsors entertainment. The Doctor is summoned by Marshall (he from last months Rocket Men story), he is looking for Leela and the trail leads to the Quarry Station and the Death Match. The games have recently come under new management and the new manager is none other than The Master, played with oily charm by Geoffrey Beevers and into this comes the Fourth Doctor, all moral outrage and crusading zeal, very reminiscent of his persona in the early Hinchcliffe era rather than my preferred “boggle eyed loon” version. If you have seen The Hunger Games, you pretty much know what to expect, the this here being that the Doctor, Leela and her romantic lead Marshall are all involved in the arena, and it really really does not end well.

It’s a very safe story, not really breaking any new ground using a tried and tested basis for the story, one that listeners will be familiar with. It’s workmanlike, but will never set the world alight. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments, and as usual (I seem to be saying this most months) it is Louise Jameson that shines. Her range is stunning, she lends the situation true urgency, sadness, rage and a sense of loss – because after all the gun-ho battling, the final few minutes are an emotionally charged, seldom seen (or heard) venture into new Who territory of love and loss.

Overall, not a Match of the day, more of a mid-table clash. 6/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Death-Match is under new management. The Hunt Master’s Champion has been installed. All regular players are welcomed back to the Pursuit Lounge to observe the contest in luxurious surroundings. Privacy is assured. For this reason we ask our elite guests to abide by the strict security protocols. Please note, the house has no limits.

In the Gallery, your combatants can be observed on the orbiting Quarry Station. A purpose-built environment filled with deadly traps and hidden dangers. Prizes are offered for every kill, with bonuses for rogue elements. Only an elite hunter can survive the End-Game. Do you have a worthy champion? Kill or be killed: the only rule of the Death-Match…

CAST:

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9), Geoffrey Beevers (The Master), Susan Brown (Kastrella), Andy Secombe (Vargrave)

Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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KATE STEWART RETURNS


Jemma Redgrave is at the read through for episode seven and eight of series nine, Kate Stewart is back!

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REVIEW – THE DEFECTORS

dwmr198_thedefectors_cover_largeWhat ifs, crossovers, mash-ups. All very popular and the subject of much fan fiction. The Doctor meets Sherlock Holmes, The Doctor meets the crew of the Starship Enterprise, The Doctor aids Mulder and Scully – all fan fictions that exist in one form or another – and the great thing is that they DO exist. In the world of fandom these iconic shows fire the creativity of their legions of devoted fans, stories are written that could only be dreamed of by Studio Execs who have to take into account such real world problems as rights, actor availability, budget, scripting – and to be honest, knowing fans would the finished polished professional product ever be as good as the idea of it was? Maybe mash ups are best left to the fans, or maybe, just maybe there is a way that this could work…

Which brings me nicely to this months main range release “The Defectors”, the first in a new trilogy from Big Finish, a trilogy with a difference as it is a bit of a mash up trilogy. The Defectors sees Jo Grant (Katy Manning) paired up with Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy in a UNIT era story. There is a real air of mystery about this one, how has the Third Doctor been replaced by the Seventh, will Jo trust him and is there a deeper mystery behind proceedings?

The Seventh Doctor turns up at UNIT in the TARDIS, no explanation is given as to why he is there, the listener is in the same position as Jo and without having time to explain, they are evacuated by the regular army led by Captain Cornelius, taken away blindfolded in a helicopter due to a matter of “national security” and taken to the mysterious Delphin Island. Delphin is a remote island “somewhere off the coast” with very odd locals, in fact the story it is most remeniscent of in episode one is The Android Invasion “something” isn’t quite right. The beer is off, the food isn’t cooked properly in the pub, no one is giving any answers, and then the next morning all the residents of the island are found dead floating in the harbour…

Sylvester and Katy work very well together, McCoy is halfway between his bumbling Season 24 persona and his dark New Adventures persona, Katy is wonderful as the wide eyed innocent Jo – always comparing this Doctor to “her” Doctor – not quite trusting him to begin with, but forming a bond as the story progresses.

The story really is a great homage to the Pertwee era with a Cartmel twist – it is at its most basic a morality tale about the nature of monstrosity and humanity as were a lot of the Pertwee era, but many years of wisdom from the Doctor have been added to the situation and a resolution that may have been acceptable to Doctor number three is not acceptable to Doctor Number seven.

So, an intriguing beginning to the trilogy, I get the feeling from this one that there is a “Big Bad” just out of sight pulling the strings and causing the mismatched Doctors and companions, time will tell – definitely one to embrace and not to Defect from 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Jo Grant is shocked to find most of her colleagues are missing. Then she discovers that the Doctor has inexplicably changed.

But there’s no time to worry about it, as she and her misplaced Time Lord friend are whisked to the mysterious Delphin Isle on a matter of national security. There, they encounter a disturbingly odd form of local hospitality and learn of a highly classified incident that took place during the Cold War.

Why exactly have they been brought here? And what is the truth concerning the bodies in the harbour and the vast project being undertaken beneath a cloak of secrecy?

CAST:

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Richard Franklin (Captain Yates), Neil Roberts (Captain Cornelius), Barnaby Edwards (Commander Wingford), David Graham (Shedgerton), Rachel Bavidge (Europan Leader), Jez Fielder (Europan)

Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE #486

DWM486_COVER

RUSSELL T DAVIES TALKS SEX & DRUGS & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IN DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE 486!

The man who brought Doctor Who back to TV in 2005 returns with an audio adaptation of his very first Doctor Who adventure, the 1996 novel Damaged Goods! Russell tells DWM how the story influenced his reinvention of the TV series…

“It kind of shows the promise that I didn’t know was there with Doctor Who,” Russell says of his two-decade-old novel. “Because Doctor Who – the ‘classic’ Doctor Who that I grew up loving – didn’t, famously, blow up the world. Invasions and monsters would tend to limit themselves to the gardens of UNIT, or a country house. It’s interesting, that sequence in Damaged Goods with the train blowing up, which then led to me destroying the entire city – that kind of liberated me, and then I carried that into Doctor Who. So I was thinking ‘Right, you can have a spaceship crash into Big Ben, you can do anything you like…’”

ALSO INSIDE ISSUE 486…

  • DAMAGED GOODS – THE AUDIO VERSION! DWM talks to the cast of the new audio of Damaged Goods, including Sylvester McCoy, Yasmin Bannerman, Michelle Collins, Denise Black, Peter Barrett, Daniel Brocklebank, Richard Hope and the script-writer of the adaptation, Jonathan Morris.
  • CAROLE ANN FORD IS TAKEN BACK IN TIME! Carole Ann Ford reminisces about being the Doctor’s very first companion, as she looks through fascinating scrapbooks containing rare and unique clippings that were compiled by the original producer of the series, Verity Lambert.
  • VIDEO TASTY! DWM reveals the history of how Doctor Who was brought to home video, and talks to the people responsible for the early releases. Plus, never-before-printed information on what the censors thought of the episodes…
  • BARRY NEWBERY REMEMBERED A tribute to the late Barry Newbery, the man who designed many classic Doctor Who stories during the 1960s and 70s.
  • THE HIGHLANDERS Discover fascinating new facts about the 1966-67 Second Doctor adventure The Highlanders in The Fact of Fiction.
  • DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES Go behind the scenes of the children’s magazine Doctor Who Adventures, as DWM chats to editor Jason Quinn about his plans for the relaunched title.
  • BLOOD AND ICE! Clara sees double while the Doctor makes a chilling discovery! Blood and Ice – the brand new comic strip written by Jacqueline Rayner and illustrated by Martin Geraghty – continues…
  • STEVEN MOFFAT ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS! Steven Moffat answers readers’ questions, and talks about the casting of Game of Thrones star Masie Williams in Doctor Who.
  • PLUS! Reviews and previews; Relative Dimensions; Wotcha!; The DWM Crossword, prize-winning competitions, official news and much more!

Doctor Who Magazine 486 is on sale from Thursday 30 April 2015, price £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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REVIEW – THE WELL-MANNERED WAR

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

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

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

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

CAST:

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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STEVEN MOFFAT YOUTUBE INTERVIEW

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

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DOCTOR WHO: PRODUCTION UPDATE FOR THE NEW SERIES

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

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PLAYER PIANO DOCTOR WHO THEME

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

Download the music HERE.

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REVIEW – DAMAGED GOODS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

CAST:

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

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – SHORT TRIPS: THE GHOST TRAP

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

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

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

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

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

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

CAST:

Louise Jameson (Narrator)

Written By: Nick Wallace
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – THE ENTROPY PLAGUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

But whose death?

Whose sacrifice?

CAST:

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

Written By: Jonathan Morris
Directed By: Ken Bentley

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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DOCTOR WHO AT BIG FINISH – LICENCE RENEWED TO 2020

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

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

Executive producer Jason-Haigh Ellery, said:

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

Executive producer Nicholas Briggs added:

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

Line producer David Richardson revealed:

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

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

Thanks to Big Finish

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REVIEW – REQUIEM FOR THE ROCKET MEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

CAST:

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

Written By: John Dorney
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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