REVIEW – THE LABYRINTH OF BUDA CASTLE

Season 17 – you knew where you were with Season 17. Starts with a TARDIS scene with pithy dialogue, cuts to a pretty OTT villain with a scenery chewing plot to take over the universe. Tom clowns around making silly flippant comments, Lalla does all the serious bits – theres a big explosion and they all go home. Perfection.

This months Fourth Doctor release is a very “un-season 17” like experience. Well it is and it isn’t. It starts in Budapest with some delightfully Adams-esque dialogue between Tom & Lalla – this is pure City of Death territory – beautiful lines about songs of Copenhagen & Budapest & getting Tulips – it all seems very familiar – and then. Well, and then it takes a very dark turn. We go from the pithy flippancy of Williams right back to the Gothic horror of Hinchcliffe in the space of one scene. Put it this way – imagine if Robert Holmes had been script edited by Douglas Adams – silliness and slaughter hand in hand is the order of the day here. And being set in Budapest its not too long before a Vampire is the suspected culprit….

 For all the gothic homages during the Hinchcliffe tenure, Vampires were not really touched upon and horror homages were not really a Williams trope – but The Labyrinth of Buda Castle beautifully melds together the sensibilities of both eras – we have the overt horror of Hinchcliffe combined with the wise cracking zingy dialogue of Williams – oh and the villain of the piece played by Mark Bonnar has a fabulous in joke of a name – Zoltán Frid (tweet me if you want an explanation :-) )

 Joining the Doctor & Romana on this perhaps Vampire hunt is Celia Soames (Kate Bracken) a Vampire Hunter who has come to Budapest to search for Dracula – their search leads them to the Labyrinth of Buda Castle (of the title) where the army are holding back a monster and its maker – it seems that Zoltán Frid has been playing a VERY long game and he is very very hungry……

 Suitably flippant, cleverly written and very gory – this is pure “B” movie heaven, it has a labyrinth a monster, a plan that has been hundreds of years coming to fruition, women who want to be the bride of Zoltán Frid a silly Tom, a serious Tom and a stern Romana! The tone swings like a pendulum between horror and humour, always wrong footing the listener and making the Doctor even more unpredictable than he usually is in his Fourth incarnation.

 A story to make you hunger for a stake (Sorry couldnt resist!!) 7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

The Doctor and Romana land in Budapest, intent on enjoying another holiday, but shortly after landing they find themselves too late to save the life of a man who has seemingly been attacked by a vampire. As they learn that this is the latest in a series of violent attacks, it becomes clear that they have stumbled onto something that needs investigating.

Aided by a vampire hunter who is searching for Dracula, they look into the nearby Buda caves, currently being used for storage by the military – and find that the soldiers have problems of their own.

Stalked through the tunnels by a monster, and up against an ancient evil, the race is on to escape alive – and foil the dastardly schemes of the maniacal Zoltan Frid.

Written By: Eddie Robson
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Cast

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), Kate Bracken (Celia Soames),Mark Bonnar (Zoltán Frid), Peter Barrett (Guard-Major Priskin), John Dorney(Ensign Kanta), Anjella Mackintosh (Anita Kereki)

Other parts played by members of the cast

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

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – TORCHWOOD: MORE THAN THIS

Let me start by saying that More Than This is a journey. A short journey that only takes place over a couple of hours but a journey of self discovery, a journey of despair and a journey of hope. It doesn’t start with a journey, though – it starts with a phone call…

What is extraordinary about this story is the scale. It is very very small scale – yes it has aliens, time leakage and a hole in the universe – but all these are peripheral – the central point of the story is in the title and through Roger Pugh’s journey we get to experience his darkest moment and his realisation that there may be “More Than This” to life. Or maybe this is all there really is and we need to make the best of it.

So we start with a phone call… Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) is calling up Cardiff City Council to chase up planning permission for a new Torchwood hub – what follows over the next couple of minutes are missed answerphone calls back and forth between Gwen and Roger Pugh (Richard Nichols), the planning application officer who informs Gwen that the application will take at least four months. Gwen decides to take matters into her own hands and goes to see Mr Pugh to convince him how important it is to grant Torchwood planning permission, so she decides to take him on a mission…

Pugh could be just your usual officious jumped up little jobsworth but he is so much more – in 57 short minutes he goes through literal and emotional hell as he witnesses Gwen saving the world from behind the scenes. This story is virtually a two-hander between Gwen and Pugh (although Tom Price does make a cameo as Sergeant Andy – keep listening after the end credits) and what starts off as an odd couple comedy buddie movie becomes something much more as the day goes on.

There is a beautiful scene during which Pugh and Gwen pause for a moment and look out over Cardiff Bay – it is pitched perfectly, not maudlin or sentimental, just honest and truthful. Pugh used to come here as a child and imagine a larger world than Cardiff, but as an adult he has come to believe that his life is all there is. Pugh has suffered a great loss in his life and his mundane job seems to stop him from confronting this.

The story really is about coping with grief – does a single life matter, will we see our loved ones again when we die, is there really More Than This?

The characterisation is top notch. Eve Myles as Gwen was always the heart of Torchwood and on this mission she still takes phone calls from husband Rhys which is a clever juxtaposition of the mundane safe domestic life Gwen lives alongside the strange, dangerous job she does, yet the character happily inhabits both worlds. Oh but Richard Nichols as Roger Pugh – what an extraordinary performance! He goes from officious to terrified, to accepting, to despairing, to a beautiful epiphany – and every single emotion is real and believable. Huge kudos to Guy Adams for writing such a character, and Scott Handcock for directing, actor Richard Nichols for bringing Roger to life and Eve Myles for facilitating the emotional resonance – because these two character just “work” together  - in a situation neither of them expected to be in that morning. Both actors absolutely nail it – think of Gwen in Random Shoes and you will be pretty near the mark. The extraordinary situation forces Roger to confront his darkest day, and in another touching emotionally charged scene of acceptance.

You may get the impression that I enjoyed this one – and you would be correct! This is an extraordinary piece of writing, acting, and direction – an occasion where all the constituent parts come together to create something greater, where they really do become More Than This.

10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Gwen Cooper has triumphed against impossible odds before, but now she’s finally met her match: Roger Pugh, Planning Officer for Cardiff City Council.

Mr Pugh doesn’t believe the world needs Torchwood. Gwen sets out to prove him wrong. For Mr Pugh, it’s a day that’ll change his life. If he can survive it.

CAST:

Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Richard Nichols (Roger Pugh), Guy Adams (Coachman) with Tom Price (Sergeant Andy)

Written By: Guy Adams
Directed By: Scott Handcock

Produced by James Goss

Script edited by Steve Tribe

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – VIENNA (SERIES 3)

I am very much a “feels” sort of person – I cry buckets at Nu Who and I absolutely adore what Murray Gold’s music has done for the emotional intelligence of the show. The reason I am saying this is to let you know that when I listen to a Big Finish audio adventure, I feel. I am transported to a realm where I can “see” the action taking place and in my head and I am the director of the visual style. This new series of Vienna, to me is reminiscent of 1980’s graphic novels – it has a smattering of Alan Moore dystopia, the smarts and satire of 2000 AD and an impossibly glamorous lead (the penny will drop later…) – yes indeed in Vienna Salvatori Big Finish have created their very own genre – the graphic novel in audio format – because listening to this I visualised not actors with Hollywood production values but hand drawn panels in a graphic novel.

But who exactly is Vienna Salvatori? Lets rewind. Vienna was introduced to the world in the main range audio The Shadow Heart  and went on to star in her own spin-off series. Vienna is played with sass, wit and charm by Chase Masterson, as an intergalactic Bounty Hunter – a gun for hire with a heart of gold - part Strontium Dog, part Barb Wire, part Philip Marlowe – all Vienna. In her third series she has teamed up with ex-cop Jexie Reagan (Samantha Béart) who has decided to go freelance. The box set comprises of three linked stories which form an arc – it really is a graphic novel for the ears…

First of all the negative – I don’t usually like to be negative but I have to ask – what has happened to the theme music? The theme music from series two was fantastic, one of my favourites from any Big Finish range, and whilst the theme music in series three is good, it’s not quite as evocative. Had to ask, sorry…

With that one little niggle aside, it’s on to the box set.

This set is really one big sci-fi epic – but is broken down into three distinctive chapters – like all good stories it has a beginning a middle and an end

Self Improvement by Ian Potter

Vienna and Jexie are called in to help protect Doctor Ludovic Glospan (Terry Molloy) – you see Dr Glospan has a secret, an amazing secret, a discovery that will literally change the universe – he has discovered the secret to a “good day” – literally, you know those days you get sometimes where you are at your very very best, where you brim with confidence, wit and charm? He has discovered a formula to make every day like your best day. Great eh? Well yes, but his employer the “Helping Hand” corporation seem to think that he is under threat and hire our heroes to protect him. What follows is a tense stand off with bluff and counter bluff and a conspiracy to keep the “good day” discovery remaining a secret. From the outset this is a blockbuster – the effervescent sexy Vienna plays well off the dour realist Jexie –  their attitudes to their plight could not be different. A small cast featuring guest performances by Terry Molloy and Elizabeth Morton – but the fact that there is a small cast is outweighed by the threat level. High octane thrills with a hook to keep you listening – just what issue one of any graphic novel needs to be.

Big Society by Guy Adams

I do like a bit of satire and the middle chapter of this epic is just that – a satire on modern Britain. Chasing down Dr Glospan’s formula Vienna and Jexie find themselves in the ruins of a once prosperous city, a city where everyone was declared bankrupt due to the economic downturn, a city where sentient buildings are taxed and are driven insane by the burden of taxation, a city where a futuristic version of The Apprentice (which feels very like the Strontium Dog story The Killing) takes place. This a darkly comic second movement – the character of Jonah Hall is hilarious and I don’t think anyone will have to think too hard to work out who Chairman Sweet (Bernard Holley) is based on. Again very 2000 AD – futuristic, sardonic, crushingly satirical and quite tongue in cheek – in the words of Alan Partridge: Lovely Stuff!

Impossibly Glamorous by Steve Lyons

And so on to the finale – another biting satire on shallow consumerism – visiting the planet London (complete with Buck House, bobbies, corgis and red buses) Vienna is a changed woman – she is the “impossibly glamorous” (see I told you the penny would drop) poster girl for the Helping Hand corporation – extuing the virtues of consumerism and vanity – has she been seduced by the acquisition of things or is she deep under cover? London it seems is the result of the misuse of Dr Glospan’s formula – it has been subverted by Helping Hand to maximise profits. Playing the head of Helping Hand, Kensington Fox, is none other than Sophie Aldred. Sophie is completely unrecognisable in the part – it’s very arch and fantastically acted, a real cartoon villain which does suit the tone of the whole set. Like the 1980’s graphic novels that I see this set as an homage to the London we are shown is another exaggerated version of our own time – populace in debt and in thrall to corporations, eking out a living to buy more useless consumer goods whilst many rely on food banks to survive. Social commentary, explosions and glamour – what more could I ask for!

A great box set that entertains, but also makes you think – because for all the spaceships, sentient buildings and tech – the worlds Vienna presents us with are an exaggerated version of the world we live in, and to be honest they are not that exaggerated – how far away are we from a Hunger Games style TV show or corporations making laws? A graphic novel for the ears? Undoubtedly! Vienna could grace the cover of 2000 AD with honour.

8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Three brand new adventures for glamorous bounty hunter Vienna Salvatori.

Self Improvement by Ian Potter

Doctor Ludovic Glospan has a secret. He has made a scientific discovery that could change the galaxy forever, which is why he wants to keep it out of the wrong hands.

Vienna Salvatori and Jexie Reagan have been hired to keep Glospan’s secret safe. On a good day that will be an easy job, but this is anything but a good day.

Big Society by Guy Adams

Tom McQueen is set to win The Selection and become Chairman Sweet’s new business partner. Failure isn’t an option. Failure is for the weak. Tom McQueen doesn’t even know the meaning of the word failure.

But another candidate has entered the process, a candidate by the name of Vienna Salvatori. Tom McQueen will soon learn the meaning of another word: fear!

Impossibly Glamorous by Steve Lyons

Vienna Salvatori used to be somebody else. She used to dream that she had an impossibly glamorous life, and then one day she met someone who made her dreams true.

Now she has a new mission. She wants to help make your dreams a reality, help you become the person you always wanted to be. Even if it kills you.

CAST:

Chase Masterson (Vienna Salvatori), Samantha Béart (Jexie Reagan) Terry Molloy(Glospan), Elizabeth Morton (Constanza), Stephen Fewell (Tom McQueen),Bernard Holley (Chairman Sweet), Richard Dixon (Jonah Hall), Sophie Aldred(Kensington Fox), Dan Bottomley (Drew Mulligan)

Written By: Ian Potter, Guy Adams and Steve Lyons
Directed By: Scott Handcock

Producer: Cavan Scott

Line Producer: David Richardson

Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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STEVEN MOFFAT RECEIVES HIS OBE

Congratulations to Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat who has been presented with an OBE for services to drama.

Steven Moffat

Moffat told the Scottish Daily Record:

It was very thrilling and formal and slightly, slightly, just very slightly, like being back at school. But nicer because everyone got a prize.

Talking to other people before I came in, I kind of feel everyone’s here for a better reason than me. I’ve got not one, but two dream jobs so to get this lovely thing for already indulging myself in public, seems like an excess of good fortune.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

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DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE #496

DWM496_COVERDOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE PRESENTS AN INTERVIEW WITH THE WAR DOCTOR – SIR JOHN HURT – IN ISSUE 496, OUT NOW!

Doctor Who Magazine exclusively interviews Sir John Hurt, who played the mysterious incarnation of the Doctor in 2013′s 50th Anniversary Special The Day of the Doctor – and asks him about his return in his brand new Doctor Who audio series!

What was John’s first reaction when he was offered the part of the Doctor’s secret incarnation?

“Well, I said, ‘Doctor Who? I don’t think that’s really my sort of stuff.’ But my wife was listening, and when she heard that it was the 50th anniversary, she said, ‘You’ve got to be f***ing joking! You’re doing it! So I’ve really for her to thank. I’m really pleased I did it, because it opened up a whole new era for me. A whole new era.”

On returning to the role for Big Finish’s audio adventures, John explains: “I was often asked, ‘Are you going to do anymore? And I said, ‘Well, I don’t think so. I’m not ruling it out, but unless somebody comes up with a real stonker of an idea that would involve him again… But the thing is that you can’t plan careers. You think, ‘That’s the way to play it’, but it’s not necessarily the case at all. If you follow your nose, that’s often the way to play it. And that’s exactly how I feel about this. I mean, I really have enjoyed every second of it. I mean it.”

ALSO INSIDE ISSUE 496…

  • ASK STEVEN MOFFAT
    Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers questions about some of the show’s most recent episodes…
  • THE WAR DOCTOR ON AUDIO
    The writers of the exciting new audio series chat about writing for the Doctor’s most dangerous incarnation.
  • A TRIBUTE TO ANTHONY READ
    Doctor Who Magazine pays tribute to the late Doctor Who writer and script editor, who died in 2015, with contributions from his colleagues and previously unpublished quotes from interviews conducted in 1990 and 2008.
  • PIXEL POWER
    Following the recent success of Lego Dimensions and Doctor Who Legacy, we uncover three decades’ worth of Doctor Who videogame projects.
  • NEVER FORGET?
    The Time Team continue their quest to watch every episode of Doctor Who in order with Matt Smith’s second story, The Beast Below.
  • WELCOME MY DEMONS
    This issue’s Fact of Fiction delves into the world of King John and Magna Carta in the 1983 Fifth Doctor story The King’s Demons.
  • A TRIP TO THE THEATRE
    The Doctor meets his old friend Harry Houdini and encounters some trouble at the theatre in a brand-new comic strip adventure, Theatre of Mind, written and illustrated by Roger Langridge.
  • STAR WARS vs DOCTOR WHO
    Jacqueline Rayner wonders if it’s possible to enjoy Star Wars: The Force Awakens without feeling like you’re cheating on Doctor Who, in her regular column, Relative Dimensions.
  • COMING SOON
    DWM previews all the latest Doctor Who CD and book releases.
  • PLUS!
    All the latest official news, reviews, competitions and The DWM Crossword.

Doctor Who Magazine 496 is on sale from Thursday 4 February 2016, price £4.99.

Thanks to Tom Spilsbury

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DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES #11

DWA11 1DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES #11

February is here and we’ve got the perfect way to beat those end of winter blues… the latest issue of the greatest comic book the galaxy has ever known! Doctor Who Adventures issue 11 hits the newsstands on 4th February, so don’t miss it!

THE SPICE ROUTE
The Doctor travels the legendary Spice Route of Shalabar Scone only to run into trouble when attacked by Boabdil, scavenger Lord of Lahn! This brand new comic book adventure features monsters, bandits and flying carpets and is brought to you by Jason Quinn, Russ Leach and John Burns.

MONSTERS ON THE LOOSE
How would you cope if you were being hunted by the Sandmen, the Veil, the Zygons or the Mire? You can find out by taking this issue’s Monsters on the Loose quiz.

ZYGON HEAD MASK
One way of surviving a Zygon Invasion is to disguise yourself as a Zygon. Osgood shows you how to make your own amazing Zygon head mask!

UNIT ALIEN ARCHIVES
Find out all there is to know about Ashildr the Viking girl who will live forever, as you gain access to the UNIT Alien Archive!

STRAX’S GUIDE TO STRANGE BEINGS
Strax gives you the lowdown on some of the weirdest creatures the Doctor has ever faced, including the Darapok, the Skinks and the Nameless Mist.

CUTTING EDGE
We’ve got more monsters and allies for you to cut out, keep and play with, including Clara, Time Lords and the Veil!

THE PATERNOSTER GANG INVESTIGATES
Scream Street’s Tommy Donbavand brings us a thrilling new Paternoster Gang story, and you can find out what happened when our heroes met Oscar Wilde during a night at the theatre.

Doctor Who Adventures #11 – Making February bright!

Issue 11 comes with a fantastic Free Monster kit!

On sale 4th February 2016, price £3.99

Thanks to Jason Quinn

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PETER CAPALDI MEETS SYRIAN REFUGEES IN JORDAN

Actor, writer, director and UNHCR Supporter Peter Capaldi travelled with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to meet Syrian families living in refugee camps and towns and cities across Jordan.

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REVIEW – GARDENS OF THE DEAD

In my mind I do a brilliant impersonation of Ronnie Corbett… “My producer said to me, no, no ah ha ha ha, captain of a gravy boat”. Mrs W has other ideas. She’s the same about my impersonation of Michael Parkinson. Mark Strickson however does a phenomenol impersonation of Janet Fielding – just the right level of realism and exaggeration – Strickson portrays Tegan almost like an Australian seagull that has been strangled and is crowing for its life – it’s hilarious and this story is worth the £2.99 entry fee just to hear it. That could be the end of my review. But it isn’t, there is more…

The story is set immediately after Mawdryn Undead and like the other Short Trips is a narrated story read by one of the cast of the time – this time it is the aforementioned Mark Strickson. The story sees Turlough aboard the TARDIS, Tegan is cold and unwelcoming, not trusting him – and rightly so as it turns out. Nyssa plays peacemaker and the Fifth Doctor is, well, the Fifth Doctor – in control without actually appearing that he is.

As with other Short Trip releases, this is a small on events, big on character release and follows Turlough’s inner turmoil as he battles for control with the Black Guardian. This story is told by an older Turlough who is looking back on his time aboard the TARDIS with regret that he didn’t do things differently and didn’t get to know Nyssa better. STOP RIGHT THERE. This story is in direct contradiction to established main range continuity where Nyssa re-joined the TARDIS crew a short while after Terminus (from the Doctor’s point of view). Is this a deliberate continuity error or is this just following established TV continuity? I don’t know – this is just an aside and in no way ruined my enjoyment of the episode.

The Gardens of the Dead of the title are a memorial gardens with sentient dust that can become an avatar of the person the mourner has come to mourn. There are some touching scenes as Nyssa is reunited with a representation of Tremas – but a virus brought into the garden brings danger to mourners and to the Doctor.

The danger, even though small scale, allows Turlough to bring out an heroic side he probably didn’t know he had, and it also lets the listeners witness what is behind the very last door in the TARDIS.

Full of character and with the best (actually probably the only) impersonation of Tegan I have ever heard – a very interesting story that adds layers of depth to Turlough.

8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Turlough has joined the TARDIS – the snake in the orchard – and is trying, with limited success, to gain the others’ trust.

But when they land in the Gardens of the Dead, the whole team – Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough – will have to join forces and fight together to keep the Doctor safe. And discover what is behind the very last door in the TARDIS.

CAST:

Mark Strickson (Narrator)

Producer Ian Atkins

Script Editor Ian Atkins

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: Jenny T Colgan
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

BUY YOUR COPY HERE

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REVIEW – THE AVENGERS: THE LOST EPISODES (VOLUME 5)

We all know the Avengers, don’t we? Mrs Gale, Mrs Peel, Tara King, Bowler hats, brollies, Bentley’s and bonkers out–there plots involving groovy megalomaniacs in a bonkers version of swinging sixties Britain? Of course we do, it’s as much part of our shared TV heritage as Doctor Who, The Prisoner, Sapphire & Steel or The Tomorrow People. However as Coldplay once sang in one of their mournful dirges: “I’m going back to the start”, and with The Avengers – The Lost Episodes that is just what Big Finish have done – you see before catsuits, kinky boots and Laurie Johnson there was another first series of The Avengers, a series not that well remembered…

Doctor Who has had its fair share of episodes wiped, but the crumb of comfort to us Who fans is that they at least exist as audio recordings – the same fate hit the first series of The Avengers, with only two of the twenty-six episode run existing in their entirety. However unlike Doctor Who no audio recordings are known to exist. The first series saw Ian Hendry as Doctor David Keel paired with Patrick MacNee as the mysterious bowler-hatted stranger John Steed as together they battled criminals and conspiracies in pre -swinging 60’s London. The title The Avengers comes from Doctor Keel and Steed coming together to avenge the murder of Doctor Keel’s fiancé. Series One was an oddity in The Avengers canon, the lead was Ian Hendry with MacNee as his assistant and the show had yet to become the high-kicking high-camp show that it evolved into – the episodes were lost forever… and then Big Finish came along.

How do you follow an act like Patrick MacNee? The answer is simple: “You don’t”. So all kudos to Julian Wadham as John Steed for not just “Doing a MacNee” – he plays Steed, not MacNee playing Steed and interprets the role in his own way – still debonair and wry, still with a twinkle in his eye and a Bowler on his head, but very much his own man. Anthony Howell brings a world weary realism to Doctor Keel and the trio are rounded off by Lucy Briggs-Owen as Doctor Keel’s surgery Nurse Carol Wilson.

This is the fifth set of stories to be released in the range and has four stories:

Nightmare by Dan Starkey (from a storyline by Terence Feely)

When Doctor Keel’s patient is reported as missing by his wife Keel ends up taking his place to draw the kidnappers in to the open. The missing patient is a scientist in a top secret research unit that are looking in to the military appliance of new psychotropic drugs – as the stakes are raised and Keel is wounded by a gunshot, Steed and Carol are involved in a race against time to unmask the traitor and save Doctor Keel from death on the operating table.

Strong stuff and not The Avengers I was expecting – Steed is still debonair, but the air of whimsy just isn’t there, this is a lot more real world rather than “Avenger-land” and has a claustrophobic feel – I can imagine that the original was all shot on studio sets with little or no external scenes – this is an edgy and dangerous Avengers, more like Danger Man than its later incarnation, its an Avengers where bullets hurt and there is a palpable real world threat of imminent death – a grim austerity that I just was not expecting.

Girl on the Trapeze by Dennis Spooner (adapted by Rae Leaver)

Now this is odd – a “Steel-lite” episode of The Avengers. It’s hard to imagine that in the original series Doctor Keel was the main character, but he carries this slice of Cold War espionage admirably. This episode even has touches of the whimsy that characterised later episodes of The Avengers. Doctor Keel witnesses the apparent suicide of a trapeze artist from a visiting Soviet Bloc state circus – when the dying woman utters the word “Danilov” and Keel thinks that he recognises her from somewhere Keel and Carol decide to investigate and are drawn in to a world of defectors and murder. The lack of Steed does not diminish this episode one little bit, its a cold war era pulp detective fiction story brought to life with skill and care – again it feels just so authentic – just like a missing audio track from a studio bound story from the early 1960’s.

Crescent Moon by Phil Mulryne (from a storyline by Geoffrey Bellman and John Whitney)

If the preceding episode was “Steed-lite” this one is “Keel-lite”, the good Doctor only appearing in  a few scenes (which on broadcast I imagine were filmed weeks apart as Hendry was on holiday? answers on a tweet please…). Steed has been called in to investigate the kidnapping of the daughter of the recently deceased leader of a Caribbean Republic – the late General was a hero of the revolution that freed the island from its Western oppressors – so Steed’s intervention as the archetypal Englishman is unwelcome to say the least – but who are the kidnappers and is all really rosy in the post revolution era? By this point I am visualising Wadham as the audio version of Steed – he really does suit the part, his easy charm wins over (almost) all he meets on the island and like any good detective story there are bluffs and double-bluffs, plus a very “Avengerish” fate for the villain of the piece. Again a very dialogue heavy story with very few locations – betraying its origins as a TV show, this episode almost feels like a radio broadcast in its own right rather than an adaptation.

 Diamond Cut Diamond by John Dorney (from a storyline by Max Marquis)

Bringing the box set to a close is a tale of diamond smuggling, murder and airlines – taking on the guise of Australian air steward John Ryan – Steed investigates the going on at an airline to break a diamond smuggling ring. This is a particularly hard hitting and nasty story that pulls no punches in showing the underbelly of genteel early 1960’s Britain, the criminals are ruthless in their pursuit of their enterprise and think nothing of using blackmail to get airline staff to smuggle on their behalf and then kill them off when they have no further use for them. Steed is in a very dangerous place in this episode as the smugglers drug him and try to frame him for the death of stewardess Stella Creighton in order to gain his acquiescence to smuggle. A hard hitting and exhilarating end to the set.

It is a very authentic set, dripping with post 50’s pre-swinging 60’s charm – still very safe and at this time a small “c” conservative series, but loaded with with the wit and charm that wit blossom in coming seasons. A special mention must go to the incidental music, a sort of groovy jazz of the sort that Nigella Lawson has on her cookery shows  - and this style is used to great effect to punctuate transitions between scenes. Actually Nigella would be a great foil for Steed, hello Big Finish, if you are reading this hows about “Miss Lawson, were needed!”

But back in the real world what can I say about this release? Pre-King, pre- Gale, pre-Peel, all Keel – it’s The Avengers, but not as we know it, and a very good release it is too.

9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Nightmare by Dan Starkey (from a storyline by Terence Feely)

When one of his patients, an experimental scientist, goes missing, Dr Keel ends up impersonating him. But not all doctors are on the side of the angels.

Girl on the Trapeze by Dennis Spooner (adapted by Rae Leaver)

The circus has come to town – but after Keel witnesses an apparent suicide, it becomes clear that the clowns are concealing something sinister behind the scenes.

Crescent Moon by Phil Mulryne (from a storyline by Geoffrey Bellman and John Whitney)

On a Caribbean Island, Steed finds himself caught up in a curious case of kidnapping, where if he wants to save a missing girl, he’s got to find out what’s really going on… and quickly.

Diamond Cut Diamond by John Dorney (from a storyline by Max Marquis)

A smuggling ring is leaving a trail of bodies in its wake. Steed goes undercover as an air steward to investigate, but can he confront the culprit before it’s his head on the block?

CAST:

Anthony Howell (Dr Keel), Julian Wadham (John Steed), Lucy Briggs-Owen (Carol Wilson), Stephen Critchlow (Doctor Jones), Harry Long (Reece), Bryan Pilkington (Graham Williams), Jane Slavin (Faith Braintree), John Banks (Porter), Paul Thornley (Stevens), Miranda Raison (Vera), Chris Porter (Stefan), Tracy Wiles (Anna), Robbie Stevens (Turek), Faye Castelow (Carmelita), Anjella Mackintosh (Senora Mendoza), Dan Starkey (Vasco), Jot Davies (Carlos), Damien Lynch (Paul), Luis Soto (Bartello), Alice Haig (Stella Creighton), Helen Goldwyn (Fiona Charles), Justin Avoth (Doctor Collard) Other roles played by the cast

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STEVEN MOFFAT STEPS DOWN AS SHOWRUNNER

Winner of the Special Award, Steven Moffat poses in front of the winners boardsThe BBC has confirmed that Steven Moffat will be stepping down as Doctor Who showrunner after the tenth season of the new series.

The news was announced on the BBC’s official Doctor Who twitter feed, announcing that Chris Chibnall will be taking over the role of showrunner in 2017.

The tenth series of Doctor Who will air in the spring of 2017 meaning there will only be one episode of the series this year, the Christmas special.

BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore explained the decision to move the next series to the beginning of next year by saying:

I have decided to schedule Steven’s big finale series in Spring 2017 to bring the nation together for what will be a huge event on the channel. 2016 is spoilt with national moments including the Euros and Olympics and I want to hold something big back for 2017 – I promise it will be worth the wait!

The new showrunner taking over for Series 11 is long-term Doctor Who fan and writer of the hugely successful Broadchurch series Chris Chibnall. Chibnall has written for the new series six times as well as penning several episodes of the spin-off series Torchwood, which he also Co-Produced.

In 1986 he appeared on an episode of the BBC’s discussion show Open Air along with other members of the Merseyside branch of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society and addressed some of his criticisms to two of that season’s writers, Pip and Jane Baker, describing their Terror of the Vervoids story as “boring”, adding:

The story itself has been done in a different way in the past few years, very much a whodunit on board a space liner, a very traditional sort of thing that people expect Doctor Who to fall into. It would be nice to have something different to the norm.

When producer John Nathan-Turner joined the discussion he called the criticism “over the top”.


Chris Chibnall had this to say about his appointment to the showrunner position:

Doctor Who is the ultimate BBC programme: bold, unique, vastly entertaining, and adored all around the world. So it's a privilege and a joy to be the next curator of this funny, scary and emotional family drama. I’ve loved Doctor Who since I was four years old, and I’m relishing the thought of working with the exceptional team at BBC Wales to create new characters, creatures and worlds for the Doctor to explore. Steven’s achieved the impossible by continually expanding Doctor Who's creative ambition, while growing its global popularity. He’s been a dazzling and daring showrunner, and hearing his plans and stories for 2017, it’s clear he’ll be going out with a bang. Just to make my life difficult.

Steven Moffat said this about his leaving the series:

Feels odd to be talking about leaving when I’m just starting work on the scripts for season 10, but the fact is my timey-wimey is running out. While Chris is doing his last run of Broadchurch, I’ll be finishing up on the best job in the universe and keeping the TARDIS warm for him. It took a lot of gin and tonic to talk him into this, but I am beyond delighted that one of the true stars of British Television drama will be taking the Time Lord even further into the future. At the start of season 11, Chris Chibnall will become the new showrunner of Doctor Who. And I will be thrown in a skip.

Charlotte Moore paid tribute to Steven Moffat saying:

I want to thank Steven Moffat for everything he has given Doctor Who – I’ve loved working with him, he is an absolute genius and has brought fans all over the world such joy,” she added. “I will be very sad to see him leave the show but I can’t wait to see what he will deliver in his last ever series next year with a brand new companion.

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Chris Chibnall, a wonderfully talented writer who I know will bring something very special to the hit series.

Polly Hill, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, added:

Like Charlotte I would like to thank Steven for his brilliance, which has made Doctor Who a global hit under his tenure. Chris Chibnall is the perfect successor to take over the reins of this incredible show, so I am delighted that his love for Doctor Who has made it impossible for him to resist ! Chris is an incredible writer and his vision and passion for Doctor Who gives it an exciting future and promises to be a real treat for Doctor Who fans across the world.

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REVIEW – TORCHWOOD: UNCANNY VALLEY

John Barrowman makes his return as Captain Jack Harkness in this month’s Torchwood release, and like his first appearance in the audio series this is quite a difficult release to review. Jack is a many faceted character, he has depth and the wisdom of ages, and a weariness that only immortality can bring. Jack can “see”, he is tenacious, and this story examines his tenacity and his manipulative side.

Uncanny Valley is an extremely uncomfortable story, it concerns the idea of self and identity and the boundaries that these concepts impose upon us. It feels like you really shouldn’t be listening to it, that the events taking place are of a private and intimate nature and that we are spying unwanted and unnoticed on a private conversation – and this story is just that: a conversation between Jack Harkness and Neil Redmond (Steven Cree) and a character I can only refer to as “NJ” for fear of spoilers.

Investigating the mythical “committee” that has been a thread throughout the preceding Torchwood stories, Jack is intrigued by reclusive billionaire Neil Redmond… you see Mr Redmond has not been seen for years after a traumatic car accident – but now he has emerged from his self-imposed exile and looks and sounds much better than he ever did before his accident. Can the committee be involved in his seemingly miraculous recovery, or is there a darker and more twisted secret that Neil Redmond is keeping? Dripping with a delightfully unsettling atmosphere charged with an electric tension, this story really pulls no punches as first Neil’s voyeristic desires and Jack’s carnal urges are tempted and tested, used and thrown aside – both characters have their souls bared in this intimate and destructive conversation.

Uncanny Valley may be many things, but a barrel of laughs it is not – and that is no bad thing. After the high-camp of last months “One Rule” this is something much more cerebral which may not be to everyone’s tastes, it could be a story to be appreciated rather than enjoyed, but as a two-hander it ticks all the boxes.

8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

What has made billionaire Neil Redmond emerge from his long seclusion? Captain Jack knows the answer, and is prepared to go to any lengths to prove it.

A couple of years ago, Neil Redmond was in a terrible accident. His recovery has been long and slow, but now he’s back and looking better than ever. Much better than ever.

Dark forces have been behind Neil’s transformation. Dark forces that Jack has been hunting for a long time. But Captain Jack’s never been able to resist the darkness.

CAST:

John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Steven Cree (Neil Redmond), Emma Reeves (Miss Trent)

Written By: David Llewellyn
Directed By: Neil Gardner

Produced by James Goss

Script edited by Steve Tribe

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

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REVIEW – THE CHURCHILL YEARS: VOLUME 1

This is a bit of a landmark release for a couple of reasons. Yes it isn’t the first “New Series” box set that Big Finish have released but it is the first to contain the post 2005 Doctor’s (albeit narrated by McNeice as Churchill) and it is the first to have the post 2005 versions of the theme music, four different versions if my ears serve me well – The Series One Eccleston theme, Series Four Tennant theme, Series Five Smith theme and Series Seven Smith theme – a different theme for each of the four stories in the set -which is apt as they are all thematically different in tone and in approach to story-telling.

The box set takes its lead from The Early Adventures in that the stories are part full cast and part narrated, in this case narrated by Ian McNeice who reprises his roll as Winston Churchill and throughout this set we hear tales of his encounters with the Doctor in various incarnations at various points in Churchill’s career – from early World War Two when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, to the height of the blitz when he was Prime Minister, to the post-war years when he was no longer Prime Minister, to his later years when he was retired to Chartwell House – McNeice takes us on a journey through Churchill’s secret history…

The Doctor had always boasted about knowing Churchill, but it was only in Victory of the Daleks that we finally got to see this meeting on-screen, despite several documented meetings in Novels, audios and comic strips. Churchill was not surprised that the Doctor had changed his face and was used to different incarnations of his friend turning up at different points in his life, and usually at points when he was most needed.

If there is one genre that post 2005 Doctor Who has made its own it is the “celebrity historical” and this box set is a celebration of that sub-genre of Who story, so sit back relax and enjoy four tales of Churchill and his meetings with The Doctor…

 The Oncoming Storm by Phil Mulryne

The Ninth Doctor in A Big Finish Story? Surely you jest? And a year or so ago I would have thought this was a great big hoax – but no, it is real, and although Christopher Eccleston is absent from proceedings his Doctor complete with “wolfish grin” and “battered leather jacket” is all present and correct. Now being a bit of a Doctor Who fan I can only assume that this story takes place in the time at the end of “Rose” where he dematerialises after Rose has turned him down and he returns seemingly seconds later to tell her that the TARDIS also travels in time because Rose is absent throughout the story. Taking the place of the companion is the wonderful Emily Atack as Hetty Warner, Churchill’s secretary. The story is in many ways like The Empty Child – a damaged and psychologically traumatised Doctor stalks London in the blackout looking for some lost Time Lord technology whilst mechanical soldiers do the same. This is an excellent opening story that builds and builds to a frantic base under siege ending – McNeice’s narration will have you on the edge of your seat as he recalls the events, not yet Prime Minister, but relishing his role as First Lord of the Admiralty. Its also incredibly reminiscent of the all too brief Eccleston era, gritty, no nonsense and ever so slightly melancholy.

 Hounded by Alan Barnes

It is 1941 and Churchill is Prime Minister – but the burden of duty weighs heavily on his shoulders and he is plagued by self-doubt, anger, bad temper and depression – a state that he referred to as his “Black Dog”, but when Churchill encounters a real Black Dog, a giant salivating ghostly monster at Chartwell, his secretary Hetty thinks it is time to get the Doctor involved again – and is puzzled to be invited to tea by a member of the intelligence service who has intercepted her letter, a tall thin man in a “spiv suit” who calls himself John Smith…

This story is pure RTD – it has intrigue, horror, comedy and tragedy – again everything you would expect from a Tenth Doctor story. The story examines how we personify the very worst parts of our psyche and how that can be used against us. It also examines how the Doctor affects all those around him, how he can inadvertently cause them harm – as Rory put it in “Vampires of Venice” – he makes people want to impress him. And no more so than in the shocking ending to this story… If it were on TV it would be hailed as a classic.

Living History by Justin Richards

And so we come on to the Matt Smith era – and we get another sub-genre of post 2005 Doctor Who, well actually we get two in one – a “Doctor-lite” story and a celebrity historical within a celebrity Historical. Churchill has ceased to be Prime Minister and is semi-retired writing a history of the English speaking people. He is invited aboard the TARDIS for a trip and asks the Eleventh Doctor to take him to meet Julius Caesar. But the Eleventh Doctor is not alone, this story takes place within the story “A Christmas Carol” and the Doctor is accompanied by Kazran Sardick with Danny Horn reprising the role. The Doctor accidentally strands Churchill and Kazran in ancient Britain and as Churchill meets Caesar, Kazran meets up with the Celts and their Bronze God – a God who is giving them alien technology – a god who is actually a Dalek!

This is the most straightforward story in the set, but is no less enjoyable for it – and again it could fit very easily in to Matt Smith’s first season as a Doctor-lite episode.

The Chartwell Metamorphosis by Ken Bentley

Now elderly Churchill has retired to Chartwell House and fills his days keeping butterflies. He is nursed by a certain Lily Arwell (from The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe) reprising her role is Holly Earl – but is it a coincidence that two old friends of the Doctor have been placed together and what exactly is being bred in the butterfly house? A body horror story that reminds me of The Seeds of Doom with alien butterflies feeding on the bodies of Churchill’s staff – an alien invasion or an experiment gone wrong? This story has one of “those” New Who moments, one of the “punch the air the Doctor is on the way” moments – it happens at about twenty-five minutes in and even though I am not a fan of Smith I cheered when Lily finally found his number to call him in. A really gruesome tale to end the set.

How do Big Finish get it so right so often? Ian McNeice is pitch perfect as Churchill – and any worries you may have about none of the Doctor actors actually appearing in the set are dispelled seconds into the first adventure. McNeice is a fantastic actor and his performance as Winston Churchill easily carries the entire set. The sound design is pure post 2005 Who with all the orchestral pizazz of the TV show, and like the TV series this is very character based, no more so than Hetty Warner – because like the TV show Big Finish makes you care deeply about the characters and build a life around them. Hetty could quite easily have been an adequate cypher to get the plot moving along but she is so much more, a real person with a real life and a real background. A great box set and a triumph of character based story telling.

10/10.

Written By Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Oncoming Storm by Phil Mulryne

Late 1939. Britain faces the might of Germany. Winston Churchill serves as First Lord of the Admiralty. But Churchill soon finds himself facing a more immediate threat than the looming Nazi menace. A ‘Stone’ with the most mysterious properties is discovered in the Thames’ sands, and soon oddly spoken soldiers are creeping round London ruthlessly trying to acquire it. Who are they? Can Churchill and his new secretary Hetty Warner defeat them? And what about the man in the battered leather jacket that Hetty meets? Churchill feels sure they can rely on the Doctor to help them! Except that this Doctor seems to want to stay hidden in the shadows…

Hounded by Alan Barnes

In the dark days of 1941, Britain is in the midst of war. Churchill must stand strong against the might of the enemy – but he is plagued by a darkness in his own psyche. Something he calls ‘the Black Dog’.

Can a visiting Swami hold the answer to his troubles? And can Hetty Warner prevent the Prime Minister’s adversaries from taking advantage of the situation?

Across London, the Tenth Doctor’s arrival may be the nation’s only hope – but the Time Lord’s plan to help his friend is endangered when he finds himself declared a traitor by the agents of the country he has come to protect…

Living History by Justin Richards

Finally given the chance to travel in the TARDIS, Winston Churchill cannot resist the opportunity of meeting Julius Caesar. But the trip does not go quite as planned. With the TARDIS gone, and Churchill stranded in ancient Britain with a young man he barely knows and who comes from the future, it seems things can hardly get any worse.

Until he is captured by the invading Romans.

Still, at least that means Churchill will meet Julius Caesar after all. But then Churchill learns of the Bronze God, feared and worshipped by the Ancient Britons. A god that he recognises as anything but divine when he meets it.

The Chartwell Metamorphosis by Ken Bentley

Comfortably retired to his home at Chartwell, Churchill plans to live out his days in peace, in the company of his butterflies – if his attendants would just leave him alone.

But it isn’t simply Lepidoptera breeding in the gardens, as a far more sinister species is about to emerge from its cocoon – and is ready to feast on something more than just the shrubberies.

Surrounded on all sides, the former Prime Minister must put a life’s worth of experience into action in order to win the day. Can his new nurse Lily Arwell offer her assistance?

CAST:

Ian McNeice (Winston Churchill), Danny Horn (Kazran Sardick), Holly Earl (Lily Arwell), Emily Atack (Hetty Warner), Michael Gould (Frederick Lindemann), Derek Riddell (Lt-Commander Sandy McNish), Phil Mulryne (Able Seaman Phillips), Jo Stone-Fewings (Major Wheatley) Amerjit Deu (The Swami), Stewart Scudamore (Danvers), Alistair Petrie (Julius Caesar), Laura Rogers (Queen Tristahna), Carolyn Seymour (Mrs Whitaker), John Banks (Mr Rogers) and Nicholas Briggs (The Dalek)

Written By: Phil Mulryne, Alan Barnes, Justin Richards, Ken Bentley
Directed By: Ken Bentley

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

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REVIEW – EARLY ADVENTURES 2.4: THE ISOS NETWORK

Before Doctor Who came back in 2005 my favourite story was “The Invasion”. I had loved it since reading the Target Novelisation and the VHS release didn’t disappoint (unlike Tomb) – I loved the pace, the almost hard boiled detective feeling, UNIT, Tobias Vaughn and of course The Cybermen. That scene of them marching down St. Paul’s steps is a classic; the threat feels really big and global. On my many, many watches of the story, from VHS to the DVD with animated episodes one and four, I didn’t give a second thought to exactly where the Cybermen who invaded the Earth had come from. But a certain Mr Nicholas Briggs has and this (in part) is what The Isos Network is all about.

Beginning as the Cyber-fleet in The Invasion is destroyed – The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe witness a single ship escaping and decide to follow it. They arrive on a deserted planet that seems to be populated only by empathic giant slugs with not a person or Cyberman in sight – but the Cybermen are not far away; they are lurking under ground, licking their wounds and planning the next phase in their desire to survive at all costs.

The planet in question is Isos 2 and it is indeed where the Cybermen launched their invasion of Earth from – their numbers are heavily depleted, their Controller is in hibernation, but as always the Cybermen have an indomitable urge to survive.

In showing us Isos 2 as a launch point for their invasion Nick Briggs shows us Earth as it could have been had the Doctor and UNIT not defeated the Cyber Invasion, he shows us a world where the population have been used literally as spare parts for a Cyber Army. This is personified in the character of Hilsee – a partially converted resident of Isos who befriends Zoe and helps her when she becomes separated from the Doctor and Jamie. Hilsee is a tragic character, a sorrowful reminder of just what it is the Cybermen take away from us and destroy what we are.

Frazer Hines reprises his role as Jamie and continues to dazzle with his portrayal of the Second Doctor.  He really has captured the essence of Patrick Troughton, all the vocal mannerisms, the throat clearing, pauses and bumbling facade all honed to perfection.

Nick Briggs has not only written and directed this story but also plays the Cybermen and as a true devotee his vocal performance is absolutely spot on and completely of their era – his Cyber Controller is particularly chilling…

The story itself is very “Season 6” and like some stories that season seems a little padded, it may have been snappier as a three part story? The content and structure are interesting, but there does seem to be a lot of too-ing and fro-ing – much as there was in the era so in that way it does retain its authenticity and lives up to the strapline of an audio adventure in Black & White. As a sequel to an all-time classic story this has a lot going for it: Cybermen, the Cyber Controller, a bonkers Cyber Plan (sorry for bonkers, read “completely logical”) a commanding performance as the Second Doctor from Frazer Hines – it just seems to lack a little bit of pace.

7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe are leaving Earth after having successfully defeated a Cyberman invasion… The Cyber-fleet is still exploding… But something is escaping through the mass of vaporising debris.

In hot pursuit, the Doctor and his friends find themselves drawn to a mysterious planet where strange beasts slither through the streets of a deserted city… And an old enemy lurks beneath the streets.

As a force of heavily-armed aliens arrives, a battle to save the entire galaxy from invasion begins.

CAST:

Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon/The Doctor/Narrator), Wendy Padbury (Zoe Heriot/Narrator), Rachel Bavidge (Seru), Richard James (Enab), Kieran Hodgson(Alam/Hilsee) and Nicholas Briggs as the Cybermen

Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

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

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REVIEW – WAVE OF DESTRUCTION

What type of Doctor Who fan are you? An odd question maybe to the ‘not we” but very pertinent to us fans. Long, long before the “Classic” v “New” debates that seem to plague fandom (solution – there is no classic or new its all called “Doctor Who”) there was the Tom Baker era. There was only one Tom Baker era wasn’t there? To the untrained “not we” eye the answer is yes – but us fans know differently. There are two Tom Baker eras the Hinchcliffe era and the Williams era. I could spend pages and pages discussing the relative merits of each particular producer (but I won’t) because I can categorically state Williams was better. Anyone who wants to argue can contact me via Twitter…

Where Hinchcliffe had “gravitas” (one of my least favourite words – it means a sort of pompous superiority if the internet is to be believed, Williams had joy in abundance – a sort of intelligent, knowing, delightfully silly joy – and this was honed to perfection in Season 17, once seen as the nadir of all Who is now revered as the classic it was.

Which brings me to the latest release from Big Finish in their Fourth Doctor range – Wave of Destruction, set during season 17 it has the classic combination of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward as The Doctor and Romana and as with the era it is a pastiche of the story is delightful, silly, pithy and yes, joyful.

With several nods to Douglas Adams and not a hint of “gravitas” in sight (or sound) the Doctor and Romana investigate a modulated frequency wave cancellation signal which really shouldn’t be on Earth in England in 1964.

During the course of the investigation Romana goes shopping for shoes and a handbag (a plastic one if you were wondering), the Doctor meets a detective who’s name is a fantastic in joke to fans of Broadchurch and Midsomer Murders, an old (and rubbish) enemy makes a reappearance and K9 gets to DJ on a Pirate Radio station called Radio Frantic who have some very addictive jingles, and last but not least breadcrumbs are used as an offensive weapon.

The story is a riot – a rollercoaster ride of jolly japes from beginning almost to end – in fact the end sees a somewhat darker tone to the story made all the more shocking after all the jollity and silliness that precedes it.

A great start to the series from one of my very favourite Doctor/Companion pairings and a great antidote to the dark January evenings.

8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

A modulated frequency wave cancellation signal isn’t something that the Doctor and Romana expect to detect in 1960s London. But then they don’t expect to find Professor Lanchester, the man who invented it, lying unconscious. Or MI5 investigating.

With the help of MI5 Agent Miller, Lanchester’s daughter Jill, and his nephew a pirate radio DJ called Mark, the Doctor, Romana and K-9 investigate. They soon discover that there is more at risk than they imagined, and an alien invasion is about to begin.

Can the Doctor identify and defeat the aliens in time? Will Romana manage to find a recombinant transducer before it’s too late? And how will K-9 cope with his new job?

CAST:

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9), Karl Theobald (Mark Lanchaster), Phil Mulryne (Barnaby Miller), Alix Wilton Regan (Jill), John Banks (Derek Fretus)

Written By: Justin Richards
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

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

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REVIEW – THE WATERS OF AMSTERDAM

So it’s early 1983, Tegan has just rejoined the TARDIS in Arc of Infinity and the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan are off to face the wrath of the Mara and Martin Clunes. Whoah there – not if Big Finish have anything to do with it they’re not.

This month sees a new trilogy of adventures of the post Adric pre-Turlough TARDIS crew of Season 20 and it begins just where Arc of Infinity left off.

The big difference between “Classic” and “New” Who for me is character progression – in Arc of Infinity the Doctor and Nyssa meet Tegan again and things carry on as if nothing had happened – The Waters of Amsterdam addresses this, and in episode one we find out what Tegan has been doing in the intervening year between Time Flight and Arc of Infinity – she has gone back to being an air hostess, been fired from being an air hostess and had a 3 month relationship with a man called Kyle who she dumped because he was too perfect. Wouldn’t it be odd if he turned up in Amsterdam as well? Well it would and he does – it turns out that Kyle is a bit of a fan of Rembrandt and wants to go to see a new exhibition of his work – but this is no exhibition that the Doctor has heard of, this exhibition shouldn’t exist – this is an exhibition of Rembrandt’s “Vessels of the Stars” – not only paintings of Spaceships, but designs that would actually work. Naturally the Doctor decides to have a word with Rembrandt…

This story wears many coats and has many tones – part one is a character piece filling in missing detail about Tegan, parts two and three are the much celebrated genre of “Celebrity Historical” in which are heroes and Tegan’s ex boyfriend Kyle meet Rembrandt and part four is a very “New Who” feeling episode with a divergent timeline, a vengeance set in place centuries earlier and a tearful goodbye.

So a very uneven story, well yes, but it flows a lot better than it sounds, in fact you will be so caught up in the dealings of the Goblin like Nix – creatures formed from Water and their conflict with the Countess Mach-Teldak that you will not notice – in fact the changes of pace and tone play very much to the stories advantage in a way as you really do not know what tangent it is going to go off on next – it has a freewheeling feel that really does not pause for breath as events in 17th century Amsterdam are trying to directly forge a new future for the world…

What about Rembrandt and the crew meeting him? Actor Richard James is given the part of the great master, and initially plays him like a grumpy harassed dutch man – but the delight to his performance is how this bluster and misanthropy is a shield to disguise his grief at the loss of his wife Saskia – there is a truly beautiful scene in episode three where he discusses the nature of grief and loss with Nyssa.

So a celebrity historical very much in the style of The Shakespeare Code, but still feeling more like the Visitation – very much of its era but with modern attitudes towards character and emotion. Definitely not a wash-out.

8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Reunited with the Doctor and Nyssa, Tegan joins them on a trip to Amsterdam’s Rijkmuseum to see a new exhibition of the work of Rembrandt van Rijn, featuring his drawings of “Vessels of the Stars”. The Doctor is astonished to discover that they are designs for spaceships that would actually work, and decides to pop back to the Dutch Golden Age for a quiet word with Rembrandt – but the world-weary artist is no mood to help.

Meanwhile, strange forces are swirling in the canals, creatures from ancient myth, the watery, goblin-like Nix. What is their connection to the mysterious Countess Mach-Teldak – and to the events of Tegan’s life during her year away from the Doctor?

CAST:

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Tim Delap (Kyle), Richard James (Rembrandt Van Rijn), Elizabeth Morton (Teldak), Robbie Stevens (Polsbroek/Nix), Wayne Forester (Glauber). Other parts played by the cast.

Written By: Jonathan Morris
Directed By: Jamie Anderson

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Alan Barnes
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

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REVIEW – THE PRISONER (VOLUME 1)

There are three Television programmes that have shaped the person I am today.

1. Doctor Who gave me my moral compass and my sense of compassion

2. Twin Peaks gave me my imagination and ability to look beyond the apparent.

3. The Prisoner fired my intelligence and made my question everything.

Actually The Prisoner was my “angry young man” programme – I discovered it in 1992 and it spoke to and shaped my 20 year old mind like no other, it almost turned me into a proto Number 48, rebelling against all conventions because they are there to be rebelled against. Today I look back at my 20 year old self and laugh – the long hair, the makeup, the attitude – you see the Prisoner stirred up something that had been dormant in me, it stirred up my very own internal number 6 which made me view the world as the Village.

Seventeen short episodes long – that’s all The Prisoner is, but in those episodes McGoohan and company have examined all that is good and bad about society and the individuals role in it and turned it into a mind bending, thought provoking, disturbing, life affirming TV Series. It asks the fundamental questions of our existence – are we free? are we in charge of our own destiny? who is pulling our strings? who are we in thrall to? It seems that if you conform, wear your number and just get on with living that the Village can be a happy place. But what of those who don’t want to fit in – McGoohan as Number 6 is the prime example of this – in one of his most famous speeches he says he “will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered” and he spends the series trying not to conform. Trying to bring him to heel are a succession of Village Chair people designated Number 2 – they are replaced periodically, sometimes mid episode and they sometimes come back to have another go at breaking Number 6. But Number 6 isn’t satisfied with dealing with the monkey, he wants the Organ Grinder, he wants to see Number 1…

The 2009 re-imagining with Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellan was interesting but didn’t carry the ethos – McKellan plays Number 2 for the whole series, and it somehow lacks charm – even though it deals with the same themes of paranoia and isolation – it doesn’t quite feel right.

So in early 2015 it was announced that Big Finish were going to be re-imagining The Prisoner my response was lukewarm. Under the guidance of Nick Briggs my response – hooray! and over the last 12 months they have teased out little morsels of information (information… information!), casting was announced and a brave decision to cast relative unknown Mark Elstob as Number 6 rather than going for a name, and Four outstanding actors to play Number 2 – John Standing, Celia Imrie, Ramon Tikaram and Michael Cochrane and that three of the four stories would be retellings or reimagining of TV episodes “Arrival”, “The Schizoid Man” and “The Chimes of Big Ben” with an original episode “Your Beautiful Village” written by The Briggs-Master himself. Surely it couldn’t fail???

No it couldn’t, of course it couldn’t – Big Finish have produced a bold and brave retelling of the original, keeping everything that worked in the original, but giving the series a lot more edge, actually a lot more cruel and disturbing feel. Elstob as Number 6 is a lot more angry than the wry performance by McGoohan – Elstob is a raging unstoppable torrent of anger at his situation – the actors playing Number 2 all have a glee and a zeal, they seem to enjoy their job and the power that it gives them over the village inhabitants – and this deliberate cruelty is the biggest change in emphasis – yes Number 2 is charming and avuncular but if they do not get what they want they will use extreme methods because they can and because they enjoy exerting their authority, not only over Number 6 but over the Village as a whole.

There are four stories in the set and they are:

Episode One: Departure and Arrival

Starting with a meeting in Belgium, Agent ZM73 resigns from his job as a top secret agent – he is about to go on Holiday to the Bahamas but blacks out and wakes up in The Village and in the Village he is designated Number 6. So begins the odyssey in this retelling of Episode One – it is expanded and added to but keeps the ethos of the original perfectly. There is an edge of hysteria running through the proceedings – technology seems much more of the “now” than of the 1967 that it should be – Virtual reality maps, tablets are “the latest thing”. There are also clones in the village, the Taxi Driver, the telephone operator, the announcer are all played by the same person. This episode also introduces us to Number 9 (Sara Powell) who will become very important to Number 6 over the course of the set. This episode has John Standing as a commanding and very British Number 2, only for him to be mysteriously replaced by Celia Imrie towards the end of the episode and she carries on as Number 2 in the next episode.

Episode Two: The Schizoid Man

Carrying on directly from Episode One – the new Number 2 (Celia Imrie) enacts her plan to crack Number 6. This is another retelling of a TV episode. Number 6 somehow forms a psychic bond with Number 9, she can read his mind and they perfect a mind reading act for the upcoming Village Festival. Then one morning Number 6 wakes up in a new house with a moustache and different hair and everyone is calling him Number 12, what is more unnerving is that an exact copy of him is living in Number 6 house and claims to be Number 6. Playing on the theme of identity and reality Imrie’s Number 2 has a delight and glee in what she is doing, she also has a cruel self confidence as she works to engineer a crisis point so that Number 6 will break. Cold, calculating and cruel but utterly compelling.

Episode Three: Your Beautiful Village

Some episodes of The Prisoner were just plain weird – Free For All, Living in Harmony and Fall Out being prime examples and this one is up there with these episodes – in fact it is my joint favourite Prisoner episode.

It is harsh cruel, demented and downright disturbing – Number 6 experiences the ultimate sensory deprivation, he has lost his sense of sight and smell, he can use the phone and does this to contact Number 9 for help -but no other sounds from the village can be heard – Number 9 is suffering this as well as apparently is the new Number 2 (Ramon Tikaram) who talks of a catastrophic system failure in the Village. Incredibly Kafka-esque (read Before the Law for a comparison) – you get the feeling that the Village is there for a specific purpose and also that for all their supposed power Number 2 is just as much an inmate and victim of the Village as Number 6. A classic.

Episode Four: The Chimes of Big Ben

The set finishes with another retelling of a classic episode, this time the highly regarded The Chimes of Big Ben. The new Number 2 is Michael Cochrane, and his doddery avuncular personality soon gives way to a hard edged tyrant.

Again this pretty much follows the plot of the TV episode with 6 befriending the new Number 8 and planning an escape to London. Those familiar with the TV episode may be surprised at how this pans out, it certainly caught me off guard.

There is also a fifth disc of bonus features and interviews.

What else is there to say? The Village is under safe hands under the Chair-Person-ship of Mr Nick Briggs – the series is given the respect it deserves and brought right up to date – if the original was analogue 16mm psychedelia, this is hard edged Hi-Def paranoia – and just like the original it makes you think, it fires the imagination and it makes you question, because the whole world really is The Village, you really are Number 6 and there really is no escape.

Be Seeing You.

10/10.

Written By Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

Based on the classic ITV series.

A limited edition of 3000 numbered box sets.

‘I’m not a number. I’m a free man!’

January 16th, 1967…

A secret agent resigns, then wakes up to find himself imprisoned in ‘The Village’ — a bizarre community with a cheery veneer, but an underbelly of mystery and threat. All occupants of The Village have numbers instead of names, with our secret agent forced to accept the mantel of Number Six.

The authorities running this Village are intent on discovering why Number Six resigned — but it’s a secret he steadfastly refuses to divulge. As the drama unfolds, the authorities, in the guise of the sinister Number Two, try ever more ingenious and aggressive means to bend Number Six to their will. All the while, Number Six is intent on two aims: to escape and to find out ‘Who is Number One?’.

Episode One: Departure and Arrival

A failed meeting in Belgium catalyses Agent ZM-73 to resign from his top secret post, but when he wakes the following morning everything has changed — even his name. Trapped in a bizarre coastal village, and with his every move monitored by the mysterious Number Two, the man now known as Number Six struggles to make sense of it all.

Episode Two: The Schizoid Man

Six finds himself fascinated by a strange bond which has suddenly developed between himself and Number Nine. But the next morning, Six wakes to find himself changed. A moustache, different hair, and… a new name. Number Twelve.

Episode Three: Your Beautiful Village

Something is very wrong, as Six experiences the most disturbing sense deprivation. Almost complete darkness, filled with haunting sounds, fragments of conversations, and a desperate call from Nine start to test his reason.

Episode Four: The Chimes of Big Ben

A new prisoner arrives in The Village. The woman is strong-minded, independent, and refuses to accept her new number — Eight. She is not a number, she is Nadia. And Six is convinced that she is his ticket out of The Village.

This set contains four episodes (two 78-minute, feature-length and two hour-long episodes), a Behind-the-Scenes audio documentary, and a lavish colour booklet.

CAST:

Mark Elstob (Number Six), John Standing (Number Two), Celia Imrie (Number Two), Ramon Tikaram (Number Two), Michael Cochrane (Number Two), Sara Powell (Number Nine), Helen Goldwyn (Village Voice), Sarah Mowat (ZERO-SIX-TWO), Jim Barclay (Control/Old Captain/Cobb), Barnaby Edwards (Number 34/Danvers/Butler), Jez Fielder (Number 17), Kristina Buikaite (Number Eight) with Nicholas Briggs (Conductor). Other parts played by the cast.

Written By: Nicholas Briggs

Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Writer/director Nicholas Briggs

Script Editor Jamie Anderson

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

© ITV Studios Global Entertainment

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DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE #495

DWM495_COVER

FIND OUT HOW RIVER SONG MEETS THE EIGHTH DOCTOR – IN THE NEW ISSUE OF DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE!

Doctor Who Magazine finds out what happens when River Song runs into the Eighth Doctor in the new audio series The Diary of River Song – and interviews both Paul McGann and Alex Kingston!

“River has to interact with the Eighth Doctor to save him, to help him,” explains Alex. “When she’s figured out how she can do that without having to be physically present in front of him, alongside helping him, she can then tease and flirt a little bit, because she knows she’s safe, and she knows she hasn’t overstepped a boundary, or changed his or her future in any way by that actual physical interaction. So she can then have fun! She’s in control.”

And what does the Eighth Doctor make of River?

“What the Doctor says to River when he realises her acumen, her calibre, is ‘Wow, hang on a minute – where did you pick up all this?! For an amateur, you ain’t half clever’,” chuckles Paul. “He says, ‘Any time you fancy joining me, I could always do with a pair of hands’. He realises, almost instantly, how clever she is. ‘If you’re ever stuck for a trip round the universe helping me out, you’re on.’ So there’s that lovely playfulness as well. Of course, he’s doing it in blissful ignorance. And she’s trying not to appear too clever, and give the game away, but of course she has to save his life. So it’s great. It’s childish, but it’s great fun.”

ALSO INSIDE ISSUE 495…

  • ASK STEVEN MOFFAT
    Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers questions about the recent episode Heaven Sent – and find out whether the Doctor ever had to run around the castle naked!
  • THE DRAGON LORD
    The latest comic strip adventure continues with Part 2 of The Dragon Lord, written by Steve Lyons, with art from Adrian Salmon.
  • CEREAL KILLERS
    Doctor Who fans of the 1970s will get nostalgic, as we take a trip down memory lane and meet the artist behind Weetabix’s series of artwork cards, which were launched in 1975, and given away with packets of breakfast cereal.
  • THE ELEVENTH HOUR APPROACHES
    The Time Team returns to watch the first adventure of the Eleventh Doctor – The Eleventh Hour. What will they make of the new Doctor, Amy Pond and Prisoner Zero?
  • WREAKING HAVOC
    A tribute to stuntman Derek Ware, who worked on Doctor Who during its first decade, and has recently passed away at the age of 77.
  • THE EXXILON FACTOR
    The Fact of Fiction takes an in-depth look at the 1974 Third Doctor adventure Death to the Daleks.
  • THE DWM REVIEW
    DWM reviews the recent Christmas Special, The Husbands of River Song. We also take a look at the latest books and audio and revisit 1968’s The Wheel in Space and 1977’s The Face of Evil.
  • THE DWM SEASON SURVEY!
    Vote for your favourites of the most recent series, plus the book and audio releases from the past 12 months!
  • PLUS! All the latest official news, previews of upcoming releases, competitions, the answers to The Watcher’s Fiendishly Festive Christmas Quiz, The DWM Crossword and much more!

Doctor Who Magazine 495 is on sale from Thursday 7 January 2016, price £4.99.

Thanks to Peter Ware

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DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES #10

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DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES #10

It’s a new year and you can recover from the January blues with the latest edition of the greatest comic this side of the Medusa Cascade as Doctor Who Adventures #10 hits the shops on 7th January!

BIG IN JAPAN
James Peaty scripts this issue’s tale as the Doctor visits Tokyo in search of sushi and winds up face to face with a giant robot and a massive lizard. Can he save the city from destruction? You’ll have to wait and see!

DON’T BLINK
Make your party go with a bang with this cool Weeping Angels party game!

KNOW YOPUR WHO-NIVERSE!
Revisit the latest series of Doctor Who with this cool quiz to test yhour knowledge of the Doctor’s latest adventures!

DAVROS’ RESEARCH LAB
You get the chance to learn from the worst as Davros shows you how to make your own Hand Mine gloves!

UNIT ALIEN ARCHIVE
This month we give you access to the UNIT Archive as we find out the truth about the Gallifreyans known as the Time Lords!

STRAX’S GUIDE TO STRANGE BEINGS
This month Strax is giving an informative lecture on the Veil, the Cloister Wraiths and the Sandmen!

THE PLANETARY PRANKSTER
Victorian London becomes a giant playground as an extra-terrestrial prankster pays a visit and turns the Tower of London into a giant bouncy castle. Can the Paternoster Gang put a stop to the madness?

Doctor Who Adventures #10 – It’s a brand new year and all new adventure!

Issue 10 comes with a Free Mega Poster and a free wind-up TARDIS!

On sale 7th January 2016, price £3.99

Thanks to Jason Quinn

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REVIEW – THE DIARY OF RIVER SONG (SERIES 1)

Lets start with some hard facts – I absolutely adore River Song so may not be as objective as usual – consequently this review may be very short – here we go “River Song… Oh, erm, gee – she’s so pretty… best box set ever. 137/10”…

I showed this review to Mrs W and after the the “wifey tut and eye roll” I promised I would try to be a bit more objective and not mesmerised by the big hair and the sassy attitude, difficult when you are married to said Big hair and sassy attitude (I’ll get my coat) – but I promised to have another go and not review the box set like a lovesick teenager despite River having the second best big hair and sassy attitude in the universe!

I really shouldn’t like the character of River Song – she is everything I don’t like about modern Doctor Who – all time paradoxes and “messing about with time travel” and do you know, with River I do not care – in fact its the inherent tragedy in her character that I like – she made me cry on Christmas Day, the Library story makes me cry every single time – her tragic and doomed marriage to the Doctor is one the the triumphs of post 2005 Doctor Who, and this is in no small part due to Alex Kingston – she makes what could have been a smug, annoying character into a tragic heroine – she is strong, intelligent, caring, tough, devastatingly beautiful, yet at the same time vulnerable and lost – her fleeting time with The Doctor that we witness is tinged with sadness because we and he know what her ultimate fate will be. But what about when The Doctor is not around? What does River Song get up to without her husband? This first box set (at least in part) explores this.

Back in June 2015 Big Finish encouraged listeners to tweet pictures of themselves doing a “shush” (fingers on lips) intrigued I gave it a go. On the next Saturday it was revealed why – I was like Del Boy and Rodney when they find out how much their old watch is worth in the last episode of Only Fools and Horses (okay last decent episode), I cheered lots, which was a bit embarrassing as I was in work at the time but hey ho… Not only was she in a series of her own but also going to be in Doom Coalition with Paul McGann – intriguing, how would this play out, the Doctor doesn’t meet her until The Library? This box set explores her relationship with earlier Doctor’s as well as Paul McGann makes an appearance in episode four – interested? well read on.

 As is the convention with Big Finish, this Box Set is split into four interlinked stories:

The Boundless Sea by Jenny T Colgan

I don’t know why, but River always makes me think of art deco – all glamour and adventure, and this first story is set firmly in the early 20th century conforms to the art deco feel. River is holding a position as a Professor of Archaeology at a British University when she is asked to investigate a Mesopotamian tomb – problem is the last person to enter the Tomb vanished without a trace.

Full on 1920’s style Indiana Jones homage boys own adventure is how I would describe this. River even gets her own “companion” of sorts on the person of Bertie Potts (Alexander Vlahos) a member of the British consulate – a real upper class twit, sort of Bertie Wooster-ish, to accompany her on her Tomb raiding. What transpires is a trip through “Mummy Movie” B-Movie horror given a suitable “New Who” twist. River is clever, very very clever – she tries to think like The Doctor but she really is more passionate than our favourite Gallifreyan and comes at problems with t much more worldly and human attitude. An interesting beginning with a clever hook into part two.

I Went to a Marvellous Party by Justin Richards

Continuing the art deco feel, this episode is almost an homage to Agatha Christie – the events of episode one lead River to the  “marvellous party” of the title on a space liner. This is a never ending event for the super rich and super powerful – these “elite” delight in manipulating the fates of people, planets and star systems for amusement and profit. And then one of them is murdered. River takes on the role of detective, but not everyone is what they seem, and once the truth is revealed how will she deal with it? A classic “whodunnit” in pure Poirot style with a cliffhanger ending you most definitely will not see coming…

Signs by James Goss

If art deco is the theme for parts one and two, part three takes a more avant garde approach. River is travelling with a handsome and mysterious stranger (I will say no more – spoilers, sweetie) investigating mysterious Spore Ships – mysterious spaceships that appear and reduce planets to mulch. This story has a very surreal dreamlike structure with some exceptional narration from Alex Kingston, and her companion played by Samuel West is charming and intense – they have almost the perfect relationship, they were almost made to be together. This is a story you will get most out of if you listen to it alone with absolutely no distractions – it is multi layered and complex and demands your attention, much like the TV episode Heaven Sent it really will stand up to repeated listenings – to give away any more really would spoil the story.

The Rulers of the Universe by Matt Fitton

And so The Doctor turns up – but not the Doctor River may have been expecting – in fact she laments the choice of incarnation because there are some she is not allowed to play with. The seeds (or should that be spores) planted in episodes one to three all come together – River and Bertie on a crashing command deck try to help the Doctor to defeat the menace of the spore ships without him finding out who she is. River really cares about the Doctor, all incarnations of the Doctor, and it is lump in throat time when she muses as to what she would say to the Eighth Doctor if she could meet him face to face.

An exciting and rather melancholy end to the series.

So there you have it – I can be objective where River is concerned, and it is a very very good box set. Alex Kingston gives River her all just as she does with the TV series, but as she is centre stage we get more layers to her character other than the wise cracking flirting we are used to – we get to see her as she is when not trying to impress The Doctor, but we also get to see the genuine love she has for him. Kingston is ably supported by the wonderful Alexander Vlahos as the cowardly and latterly loathsome Bertie Potts and Samuel West oozes charm in part three in what is a two hander with River and a very cleverly written one at that.

So, perfect? Not quite. Charming – definitely, pathos – plenty of that, and do I want more – definitely yes.

9/10, Sweetie.

Written by Ed Watkinson

SYNOPSIS:

The Boundless Sea by Jenny T Colgan

River Song has had more than enough excitement for a while. Deciding the universe – and her husband – can look after themselves, she has immersed herself in early 20th century academia, absorbed in writing archaeological theses.

But when a mysterious tomb is found in a dry, distant land, excitement comes looking for River.

Can Professor Song stop any more members of the expedition from dying? What deadly secrets lie buried within the crypt? And will British Consul Bertie Potts prove to be a help, or a hindrance?

I Went to a Marvellous Party by Justin Richards

River Song always enjoys a good party, even when she’s not entirely sure where or when the party is taking place. But the party she ends up at is one where not everything – or indeed everyone – is what it seems…

Being River, it doesn’t take her too long to go exploring, and it doesn’t take her too long to get into trouble. The sort of trouble that involves manipulating other civilisations, exploitation, and of course murder.

River is confident she can find the killer. But can she identify them before anyone else – or quite possibly everyone else – gets killed?

Signs by James Goss

River Song is on the trail of the mysterious, planet-killing Spore Ships.

Nobody knows where they come from. Nobody knows why they are here. All they do know is that wherever the SporeShips appear, whole civilisations are reduced to mulch.

But River has help. Her companion is a handsome time-travelling stranger, someone with specialist knowledge of the oddities and dangers the universe has to offer. For Mr Song has a connection to River’s future, and he would never want his wife to face those perils alone…

The Rulers of the Universe by Matt Fitton

As shocking secrets are exposed, and a grand plan for the universe is revealed, River decides it’s time she took control of events once and for all.

Out in deep space, a clandestine society faces off with an ancient and powerful alien force – but, for River, there’s an added complication.

The Eighth Doctor has been caught in the middle, and she must make sure her future husband can arrive at his own destiny with all his memories – not to mention his lives – intact…

CAST:

Alex Kingston (River Song), Paul McGann (The Doctor), Alexander Vlahos (Bertie Potts), Alexander Siddig (Marcus Gifford), Imogen Stubbs (Isabella Clerkwell),Gbemisola Ikumelo (Prim), Charlotte Christie (Daphne Garsington), Alisdair Simpson (Colonel Lifford), Oliver Dimsdale (Archie Ferrers), John Banks (Professor Straiton), Letty Butler (Spritz), John Voce (Jenkins), Aaron Neil (Sanukuma Master) and Samuel West (Mr Song). Other parts played by the cast.

Written By: Jenny T Colgan, Justin Richards, James Goss, Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley

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THE HUSBANDS OF RIVER SONG – CLIP 2

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