REVIEW – KINGDOM OF LIES

This story is many things – its a farce, its a Shakespearian pastiche, its a satire on the Royal Family, its a comedy painted in broad strokes, its a story of hidden nuances and it is also rather entertaining. It has the feel of a mid era Hartnell historical so think The Romans or The Myth Makers and you are about the right level – Brian Rix farce on the one hand political intrigue and machinations on the other.

Landing on the Planet Cicero Prime The Doctor (Peter Davison), Tegan (Janet Fielding), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) and Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) discover a painted line on the floor in the woods of a seemingly Medieval world – with Adric and Tegan standing on one side and The Doctor and Tegan on the other they are captured and find out that the line is a literal dividing line in the Duchy that they have arrived in as the Duke Sebastian (Jonathan Firth) and Duchess Miranda (Charlotte Lucas) are having some pretty severe marital problems and have taken matters into their own hands to resolve the situation. Amicable reconciliation is not on the agenda, in fact The Duke (who has captured The Doctor and Nyssa on his side of the line) has hired an assassin known only as “The Scorpion” to permanently solve his marital problems, unfortunately for The Doctor and Nyssa (or Nyssa “The Destroyer” who kills for fun” as Nyssa calls herself in possible the deliberately least convincing portrayal of bravado I have witnessed :-) ) the Duke believes The Doctor to be The Scorpion and the next few episodes are spent with The Doctor trying to appear that he  is trying to carry out the killing without actually doing it….

Adric and Tegan fare no better, captured by the Duchess they convince her they are protectors from the Order of Alzarius here to thwart The Scorpion…
Its pure Shakespearian farce with both parties working against each other and hilarity ensuing. Until the final episode when the tone changes completely and the larks and misunderstandings of episodes one to three give way and the true seriousness of the situation is brought to the fore.

There is a lot to this story, it is very multi layered and once again demonstrated that the Doctor doesn’t have to use violence to succeed, quite the opposite The Doctor just has to be the cleverest person in the situation, which he is by a long way and is light years ahead of everyone else in the plot. Davison is on fine form and clearly having a ball with the quite comedic material he is presented with and genuinely owns the story ably assisted by his sidekick Nyssa who as I said before is the least convincing bloodthirsty killer you could ever imagine.

The story does stand up to repeated listens as the pace of all the shenanigans, crosses, double crosses and even triple crosses can make your head spin – the plotting is tight and there is not a line wasted.

Doctor Who can be heavy going and some of the best stories are the grim ones but its great to let the story tellers and actors kick back and have some fun once in a while and this story is just that, a great fun start to the year to brighten a grim January 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

On the planet Cicero Prime, the kingdom of Cardenas is divided, with the whole population forced to swear allegiance to either the effete Duke or the fiery, hard-edged Duchess. This is a situation both parties have grown tired of. What use is half a kingdom when, thanks to a carefully engineered murder, you could have it all?

Surely, neither of them would be rash enough to summon the deadly off-world assassin The Scorpion to help with their problem? And surely, this terrifying figure wouldn’t arrive wearing a long cream coat and striped trousers…?

Written By: Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky
Directed By: Barnaby Edwards

Cast

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Jonathan Firth (Sebastian, Duke of Cardenas), Charlotte Lucas (Duchess Miranda), Harriet Thorpe (Amelia), Tim Bentinck (Lord Crozion), Richenda Carey (Lady Crozion), Piotr Hatherer (Tomek), Patsy Kensit(Mercenary), Harry Smith (Additional Voices). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Guy Adams
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

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REVIEW – THE FOURTH DOCTOR SERIES 07 VOLUME 01

A new year and a new way of dong things for the Fourth Doctor Adventures at Big Finish – perhaps inspired by the “box set” and “binge watching”  craze brought on by Netflix (guilty as charged all of Stranger Things 2 in a weekend, 4 series of Once Upon A Time in two months) Big Finish have decided to release season 7 of the Fourth Doctor in two singable boxsets rather than monthly releases. And it works better this way, gives you just enough of Tom and Louise Jameson to keep you satisfied but definitely leaves you wanting more. Taken as sole releases the stories may seem a little disjointed but listened to as a box set as designed the subtleties of the character development and continuity become apparent – there is no “arc” as such (apart from stories three and four making an old fashioned four parter) but there is a cohesiveness of purpose and there does seem a definite purpose to the stories.
So we are back in late season 14/early season 15 – the first two stories have a distinctive Hinchcliffian feel whereas the concluding two parter is a WIlliamsesque wonderland of ambition over production values that would never have worked on TV but on audio? well the pictures are always better on audio aren’t they?
The Sons of Kaldor by Andrew Smith
Who wants a sort of semi sequel to “The Robots of Death”? anyone? I can imagine a sea of hands raised in anticipation and I am happy to say Andrew Smith delivers.
Set on a deserted spaceship the Doctor and Leela encounter Voc robots and a sleeping commander who they decide to revive they are given an update on the situation – the ship was hunting the “Sons of Kaldor” an armed separatist movement that wants to overthrow the government of Kaldor and reinstate the founding families as rightful rulers. What we get is a tense political thriller with stakes raised higher and higher that is real seat edge stuff.
The Crowmarsh Experiment by David Llewellyn
This one couldn’t be any different from its predecessor, almost a “Doctor-lite” story that gives us a chance to appreciate what an incredible talent Louise Jameson is and how lucky we are to have her in the world of Doctor Who.
Leela and the Doctor are attacked soon after landing on an alien planet. Or are they. Leela awes in The Crowmarsh Institute on Earth in 1978, everyone is referring to her as Doctor Marshall – apparently she has been testing experimental dream therapy equipment and taking time to adjust to reality again. But what is reality? and why is she in the institute?
This is an outstanding story – our perceptions are played with, the nature of reality is explored and some pretty deep questions are posed about what we perceive to be real. I can just imagine this on TV at the tail end of the Hinchcliffe era getting Mrs Whitehouse up on her high horse about warping children minds – yes its that good.
The Mind Runners/The Demon Rises by John Dorney
Whereas the first two releases were small scale and could have easily been realised on TV in 1977 this one would have gone along the same road as The Krikkitmen and The Killer Cats of Ginseng – wonderful ideas, astounding concepts but utterly impossible to realise on a BBC budget. Luckily audio has an unlimited budget and stories of this scale can be given the production they deserve.
Trying to take Leela to New York the Doctor mistakenly arrives on the Planet Chaldera and they are soon involved in a mystery of why “Mind Runners” – citizens who detach their consciousness and attach it to others for a ride along are being killed off, the Planet Chaldera is dying and a rocket is being built as a means of escape but nothing really makes sense – what is the “Night Mind” a demonic force said to possess the planet? why are the cult of The Digitals and the enigmatic Mr Shift so invested in what is happening? and is anyone going to get out alive? This is a fast paced story and has Tom in full buffoon mode with an excellent supporting cast including Josette Simon as Officer Taraneh and Andy Secombe as Mr Shift, a slimy villain who can literally shift his form into anything he likes. All the characters, all the players even the setting are only window dressing for a greater and more diabolical plan that has been hatching for a very long time. This feels in almost equal parts Blade Runner directed by David Cronenburg run through a Douglas Adams filter – make of that what you will but it really is a cracking Doctor Who story.
So there we have it, an excellent start to 2018 for Tom Baker and Big Finish, just enough to satisfy with the hint of more to come and business not quite yet completed. A binge-worthy 9/10.
Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

The Sons of Kaldor by Andrew Smith

Finding themselves in a seemingly deserted spaceship on an alien world, the Doctor and Leela stumble into some familiar foes – the Voc robots from the planet Kaldor – and… something else. Something outside. Trying to get in.

Reviving the robot’s Kaldoran commander from hibernation, the travellers discover that they’ve found themselves in the middle of a civil war. The ship was hunting the Sons of Kaldor, an armed resistance group working with alien mercenaries to initiate regime change on their homeworld.

But now the Sons of Kaldor may have found them. The Doctor and Leela will have to pick a side. Or die.

The Crowmarsh Experiment by David Llewellyn

When attacked on an alien world, Leela falls unconscious… only to wake in another time, another place.

She is in the Crowmarsh Institute on Earth, in London, in 1978, and everyone is calling her Doctor Marshall. They tell her the world she has known is but a fantasy, a delusion, and that this place is the one that is real.

Surrounded by familiar faces on unfamiliar people, Leela knows what is true and what is false. But how long can she believe when everyone around her says it’s a dream? What’s really happening here?

The Mind Runners by John Dorney

It used to be fun, Mind Running. Hopping into the heads of total strangers to see what they saw, feel what they felt. But one by one the Mind Runners are dying in a wave of suicides. And no-one on the planet Chaldera knows why.

The Doctor, Leela and K9 arrive in the city that covers all of this dying world as it prepares to evacuate its people, and they immediately find themselves involved in a mystery. Who or what is responsible for the wave of death? Is it the motorised cult known as the Digitals? The enigmatic Mr Shift?

Or did all the victims attempt to run the Night Mind, the demonic consciousness of legend that is so twisted and evil that it drives mad all who touch it?

The TARDIS crew are about to find out.

The Demon Rises by John Dorney

A killer has been uncovered, but the mystery is far from solved. The Doctor, Leela, K9 and their friends are on the run, pursued from all sides. All the clues point to one place – but getting there alive may prove impossible.

Something horrific is happening on Chaldera… and it has been happening for longer than anyone could possibly have realised. Now every life on the planet is at stake. Bar one.

The dark secret at the heart of this world is about to be revealed.

Written By: Andrew Smith, David Llewellyn, John Dorney
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Cast

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9), Martha Cope (Commander Lind), Oliver Dimsdale (Rebben Tace), Toby Hadoke (V26), John Dorney (Brin / SV9 / V12 / Gary), Cathy Tyson (Jennifer), Damian Lynch (Colin Marshall), Julian Wadham (Dr Holman), Dan Starkey (Linus Strang), Josette Simon (Taraneh), Sarah Lark (Jacinta), Alex Wyndham (Raph), Robert Duncan (Krayl / Sternwood / Eldren), Andy Secombe (Cloten / Shift), Justin Avoth (Cain). Other parts played by members of the cast.

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

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REVIEW – THE FIRST DOCTOR ADVENTURES VOLUME 01

Is it 2018 already? wow 2017 just sped by didn’t it and one of the last releases of 2017 becomes my first review of 2018 the much anticipated releases of The First Doctor Adventures Volume 1. Now then, if you don’t know already Big Finish have done something  very brave with this set, rather than casting Carole Ann Ford As Susan & William Russel as Ian and doing this Companion Chronicles or Early Adventures style they have recast using the team from An Adventure In Space and Time so sit back, relax and enjoy David Bradley as The Doctor, Jamie Glover as Ian Chesterton, Jemma Powell as Barbara Wright & Claudia Grant as Susan. But does it work? Well the answer is a resounding YES, not because they are dead ringers for the originals but because they are NOT playing Hartnell playing The Doctor or Hill playing Barbara but they are playing the characters of The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan from the page, interpreted from the script not from the performances we have seen before – yes there are similarities but the roles are the Time and Space casts to own for themselves and boy do they do it well.
Of course I did find myself comparing with the original cast in the first few minutes but soon got used to the new voices playing old favourites much aided by having see Bradley play the First Doctor in the Christmas Special on TV a few days prior. But performances are only one of the ingredients that make a production successful there are also the scripts, the direction and the music – well you will pleased to read that they are all straight out of Season One the “Sci-Fi” is very 1960′s I can imagine the cast all in silver jumpsuits in 60’s style bubblegum futuristic cities and the historical is very historical in that it follows all the rules of the Hartnell era historical in which events conspire to separate our heroes it really is authentic 1960’s early Who and this first volume is made up of two stories:
1.1 The Destination Wars by Matt Fitton
Starting off with a Sci-Fi story The Doctor has seemingly brought Ian and Barbara to their own future, but we soon discover that they have arrived in the Space Year 2003 and not the actual year 2003 and the planet they have arrived on is called Destination and not Earth at all, but it does owe a lot to Earth History and its mysterious benefactor who is seen once every decade or so known only as “The Inventor” (James Dreyfus) is his rule as benign as it seems? And scratching the surface of this futuristic utopia there is something ugly and xenophobic about the seemingly enlightened futuristic population, a dark secret at the heart of their society. An old fashioned story with a very modern moral stance and lots of secrets from the Doctor and Susan’s past that come back to haunt them – as I previously stated the new regulars inhabit the roles fully never lapsing into impersonation or caricature but playing the character’s as written and James Dreyfus as The Inventor steals every scene he is in, the less you know about him the more surprising his role in the story is so DO NOT read the cast list as it contains major spoilers. Also authentic to the era this story ends on a cliffhanger to the next one.
1.2 The Great White Hurricane by Guy Adams
And ladies and gentlemen we have a bit of a classic on our hands. I much lament the loss of the “pure historical” from the series as it gives the writers the opportunity to tell stories as good as this one. Set in an historical event I had absolutely no prior knowledge of more details HERE – our heroes arrive in New York 1888 where unbeknownst to them the Great White Hurricane is about to strike – Ian is shot in the head, Susan is kidnapped by a gang member and the Doctor is given a night in the cells for his arrogance towards the local constabulary and then in the local hospital with a recovering Ian, Barbara sees the date on a newspaper and being a History teacher knows what is coming and what follows is a desperate attempt to get back to the TARDIS by all of our heroes following different paths as the winds get stronger and the snow moves in to lay siege to the city they must fight the elements and not let the gangs that rule the streets get the better of them. There is a very real sense of desperation, of the ordeal that our heroes are suffering caught up in events that they really have no control over, with no “villain” as such apart from the forces of fate and nature – the pacing is superb and the four episodes just fly by, its real seat edge stuff and following the early ethos of the show was educational too. Superb.
A very brave move by Big Finish that has paid dividends – authenticity from there scripts, professionalism in the new interpretation of the leads, pacy direction and excellent sound design, I cannot wait volume 2 to find out how things proceed. 9/10.
Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

1.1 The Destination Wars by Matt Fitton

The TARDIS arrives in a gleaming utopia in the Space Year 2003. Has the Doctor truly brought Ian and Barbara home, to glimpse their future?

The world owes much to its legendary Inventor, and Susan finds herself face to face with the great benefactor. But soon, the time travellers are in a world at war and the Doctor must confront his past.

1.2 The Great White Hurricane by Guy Adams

Rival gangs turn streets into battlegrounds, and the Doctor and his friends are caught in the crossfire. They find themselves separated, and lost in the cold.

As the hunt for a fugitive turns ever more desperate, a blizzard descends. The snow keeps falling. And soon it will prove as deadly as any weapon…

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

Written By: Matt Fitton, Guy Adams
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Cast

David Bradley (The Doctor), Claudia Grant (Susan), Jemma Powell (Barbara Wright), Jamie Glover (Ian Chesterton), James Dreyfus (The Master), Raymond Coulthard (Robac / Servers / Dalmari), Sian Reeves (Tanna), Deli Segal (Reena), Jackson Milner (Patrick), Cory English (Daniel), Carolina Valdes (Rosalita), Ronan Summers (O’Connell), Christopher Naylor (Policeman / Man with Ladder / Gang Member / Henry). Other parts played by members of the cast.

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REVIEW – O TANNENBAUM

The second story to pop into my inbox to review is O Tannenbaum  a William Hartnell offering from Big Finishes short story range and is a short story based on Trees with a little nod to Varga Plants and an oblique reference to Time Meddle and written by Big Finish stalwart, Anthony Keetch. O Tannenbaum is a german traditional Christmas song and also the same musically as the red flag or “Mon Beau Sapin” in French. It is very much a Christmas story and has that feel all the way through it when you listen to it. Therefore trees, especially pine trees, are very much a part of it. Central to it.
The story and narration effortlessly conjure up the images of the cottage, the forest, and drew upon a few themes in recent and past Doctor Who. It is so well done. Effortless. There genuinely is no needless exposition or dialogue to do this. It is done so well.As a Short story it is a one hander on the acting front and it is Peter Purves and it opens with a little girl in a cottage in the middle of nowhere missing her Dad who has gone into the forest while her Grandad is in bed upstairs, sadly on his last legs. Her record player plays O Tannenbaum but keeps needing to be re-wound. This, for some reason, is dropped as the story goes on. I did wonder if there was a significance of the wind up gramophone but there was not but as the story progresses you forget about it.

At the heart of this story is an environmental message. Protect nature and it will protect you, mess with it and it is coming for you big style. Are the trees malevolent, benevolent or just misunderstood. Sometimes challenging the wisdom of elders is good but sometimes it is folly.

However any issues with the cottage dwellers all seemed to be forgotten by Mother nature when the first Doctor threatened it with a smacked bottom in a sparkling piece of dialogue that had me laughing out loud while appreciating its utter magnificence too. It is exactly the sort of thing the first Doctor would have said and bravo Anthony Keetch for writing it. Having said that Sometimes the first Doctor drifted a little into parody but here, in the speech, it was spot on and brilliantly done.

Peter Purves does an great job and makes it seem so effortless. He really brings this very good story to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It does draw on many themes but it was a pleasure to listen to. HE is also ruddy good as the first Doctor capturing the essence of the late, brilliant, William Hartnell in the portrayal without ever becoming a parody or bad impression.

I really enjoyed this story. It was a great listen from start to end and I would happily listen to it again. It is not perfect but it is pretty good all the same and hits the right notes for the festive season. A very worthy 8/10 for me .

Written by Martin Kinsella

Synopsis

Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.

Release #36 is a First Doctor and Steven story.

“Peter Purves does an great job and makes it seem so effortless. He really brings this very good story to life” Planet Mondas

It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid…

The TARDIS has landed in a winter wonderland and the weather outside is frightful.

A world of dread and fear and it’s not just the frost that is cruel…

It’s Christmas Eve, but will the Doctor and Steven get to see another one?

And of all the trees in the wood, who really bears the crown?

Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: Anthony Keetch
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast

Peter Purves (Narrator)

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REVIEW – STATIC

I think this one deserves a musical interlude to set the scene – give this a listen as it really complements the atmosphere of Static:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulwVN4LkgaI

Go out on a high and leave them wanting more is a good philosophy to live by and by jingo do Big Finish agree if this release is anything to go by. Just when you think the quality of the Main Range cant get any better after the superb “The Behemoth” and the sublime “The Middle” they release “Static” and ladies and gentlemen we have an instant classic on our hands. There is something rather special about the team of Old Sixie (Colin Baker), Mrs Clarke (Miranda Raison) and Flip Jackson (Lisa Greenwood) they are one of those classic TARDIS teams like Tom & Sarah Jane or Troughton with Jamie & Victoria or McCoy with Ace and Bernice – they just work as a team and are a joy to listen to. But what of the story, well dear readers, read on and prepare for a tale of terror…..

For thats what Static is at its core, its a good old fashioned Horror story imbued with a feeling of creeping dread – it has all the tropes of the genre – a small group cut off from civilisation, a creepy old man, and a warning. And of course being a horror story the warnings are not heeded one little bit.

Doctor Who has a great Horror pedigree and this story puts me in mind of Image of the Fendahl, The Satan Pit and The Chimes of Midnight with a liberal addition of computer game horror Silent Hill, classic TV series The Omega Factor and a David Lynch inspired nightmare, its all about the atmosphere and it is the atmosphere that really drives the plot along and never feels derivative.

So about the plot – arriving at a caravan site in the middle of nowhere Andy Clover (Scott Chambers) and his partner Joanna (Pippa Nixon) are greeted by site owner Percy Till (David Graham), its a grim drab old place with a surrounding mist, and Percy has just one rule – no radios, no TV’s, no cassette recorders, the story is set in the early 1980’s so everything is pretty analogue :-) being a horror story and seeing that there is a football game on Andy ignores the rule and sets up the TV from his car battery. And then the static starts, and then the voices start, and then the phone rings and then the clocks stop and then….. well, that would be telling but the tension is ramped up and up I was actually holding my breath listening. And I haven’t even touched on The Doctor and his relationship with Percy Till because when he along with Mrs Clarke & Flip arrive Percy is expecting them and Mrs Clarke thinks the area is very familiar and that there was a top secret RAF base in the area, or there used to be during World War 2.

As Doctor Who stories they don’t come much more visceral and dangerous than this one, as an audio it is one of the most “visual” pieces of drama I have heard in a long time, I just imagined it filmed on early 1980’s faded film stock looking ever so slightly muted and washed out – it has that sort of feeling driven by the dialogue and the score. All of the cast are at the top of their game realising they have something rather special in this script by Jonathan Morris given the life it needed by director Jamie Anderson and the performance he elicits from the actors. Main Range Release of the year? oh I think so – 10/10 without a doubt and hooping for a sequel to tie up the many intriguing loose ends. Superb.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

Deep in the heart of nowhere, near a place called Abbey Marston, there’s a caravan site. The perfect place to get away from it all. Close by, there’s a stone circle they used for human sacrifice in olden times. A little further afield, there’s an old RAF research station, where they did hushhush things in the War.

There’s only one rule: the use of radios, cassette recorders and portable televisions is strictly forbidden.

People come here to get away from it all, you see. No-one wants to hear the noise. No-one wants to hear the voices in the static…

No-one wants to hear the ghosts.

Written By: Jonathan Morris
Directed By: Jamie Anderson

Cast

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Lisa Greenwood (Flip Jackson), Miranda Raison (Mrs Constance Clarke), Scott Chambers (Andy Clover / Sergeant Webster), Pippa Nixon(Joanna Nash), Jo Woodcock (Susannah Nash), David Graham (Percy Till), Brian Protheroe (Captain Hardwick), Chris Dale (Soldiers / Static). Other parts played by members of the cast.

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

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REVIEW – THE WRECK OF THE WORLD

I recently was able to review some of the Big Finish output for Planet Mondas, and it was an honour to do so. I have not reviewed anything before so please bear with me. I hope to give a fair view of the story and give you, in the next few paragraphs, a flavour of the story and the experience I had listening to it.
The first story I had to listen to was The Wreck of the World. Most of my Big Finish listening comes from Spotify so this has catapulted me forward many years and it was an enjoyable experience overall.The Wreck of the world is set during season 6 of Dr Who and the story starts innocuously enough, and it is very well narrated, with Zoe in space effecting repairs to the blue box with the flashing light. Suffice to say things never quite go to plan and we get flung into an adventure that is pretty faithful to season 6 and the era. The Tardis manages to crash into the wreck of the spaceship, the companions split, Zoe meets a creature who sounded like Zil from the Blakes 7 story “Trial” and from there the adventure unfolds. In true sixties spirit the companions are split and meet different creatures and beings with different motivations and the episode endings are clanging reveals you can just imagine the story, had it been broadcasting, end up with the scream of the end titles and the close up on the Doctor or the Companion.I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, as this is a review rather than a spoiler but there is more to the Wreck than would first appear, all is not well, and some themes of past adventures like Tomb of the Cybermen are on display.

One thing I have to say. The Cult of Corbos. Come on. Is that a rib at the so-called Cult of Corbyn. It amused me to think it was although this cult as far less benevolent. People whose politics vary may have a different view .

For the guest cast Richenda Carey is great as the Professor, a victim of her own academic vanity, and hats off to Adam Newington as twenty. He gives a great performance. Both of the regulars are pretty good. Especially Wendy Padbury whose narration is first class and it is very evocative as the start of the story, as I hinted at earlier. She also gives a great turn as Zoe and this really is a story more for Zoe than Jamie who, in sixties style, seemed absent for quite a bit of the story. Maybe because Frazer Hines was playing the Doctor as well. His Second Doctor varies from really good to okay depending on how the dialogue is being said and how it is being said.

I must also add why is it in this universe that large, scaly, lizard type monsters speak with a generic gruff, deep, butch voice. Some diversity in that respect would be interesting and there are some familiar themes on display. Academic vanity and the consequences of it (a similar theme to many MR James stories, only worth mentioning as it is a Christmas period release), self sacrifice and possession. Indeed I was put in mind of Ark in Space more than once with some of what was going on and I mean that in a good way.
For me possession is one of the most scary themes and is why I have always found the Cybermen a more frightening monster than the Daleks.

I found listening to the extras interesting. Put aside the usual “it was wonderful dahling” sort of stuff. Timothy Atack had some really interesting things to say about it, his experiences of the show growing up and how he pitched the story. It certainly captures the essence of season 6 well. The incidental music, while not obtrusive, really helps the story along as well.

Overall this story draws on several well known themes of the show, would fit perfectly into season 6 even with a small nod to T-Mat from Seeds of Death. I often think it is hard for writers going back that far in the canon of Doctor Who to come up with something authentic to the period. I think the writer captures is here. I think the cast do too and I enjoyed listening to it as well. It is a really solid story.

Written by Martin Kinsella

Synopsis

This title was released in December 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until January 31st 2018, and on general sale after this date.

Undergoing repairs in deep space, the TARDIS is caught in a collision with the huge, decaying wreck of a starship. Zoe, spacewalking, is separated from her companions in the crash, and the Doctor and Jamie wake to find the TARDIS fused to the side of the ship.

Venturing inside to rescue their friend, they discover that they are on board The World, the very first colony ship to leave Earth, lost mid-voyage under unknown circumstances.

And they are not alone. A terrible suspension chamber is filled with dead, withered human bodies, and a team of gun-toting astronauts are stalking the corridors. But a far greater threat lurks deep inside. The terrifying force responsible for the scuttling of the ship is active once more – and if it can’t be stopped, it won’t just be the end of this World. It’ll be the end of all of them.

Written By: Timothy X Atack
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast

Wendy Padbury (Zoe Heriot/Narrator), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon/The Doctor), Judith Roddy (Commander Lorne), Adam Newington (Twenty), Don McCorkindale (Porthintus), Richenda Carey (Professor Blavatsky). Other parts played by members of the cast.

 

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

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REVIEW – THE MORTON LEGACY

Thats twice now in this series I have thought the thought “Hartnellesque”, which is odd as the Troughton and Hartnell era’s were completely different beasts. But this release along with The Night Witches (review HERE) have a distinctly “first Doctor” feel about them, its probably that they are adventures in the recent history of the planet earth rather than base under siege creature features that we associate with Troughton – so a little discombobulated I mulled over what I had heard for a few days before writing my review.

The Morton Legacy is very much a sixties story, a take on the Victorian era that is a pastiche rather than looking at the social realism of the era, the “lower orders’ are seen as conniving and avaricious with comedy cockney accents whilst the gentry including Josiah Morton (David Sibley) and his daughter Jemma (Kerry Gooderson) are seen as thoroughly decent victims of circumstances even when the evidence points towards their involvement in the crimes that have taken place, oh yes, the crimes, you see being set in Victorian London there are a couple of impossible murders a la Holmes.

The story involves Mr Morton who having stolen the TARDIS as he found it lying around on a street corner (as you do) to put into his private museum. Problem is the museum cannot be opened as there is a court case regarding a disputed will, so Morton has stored the TARDIS in his workshop until such time as it can be put on display and will not tell anyone where his workshop is. And when the other claimant in the court case is found dead it seems all is lost and Morton will be going to prison unless The Doctor and co can prove his innocence.

What Justin Richards does in his story telling is very clever at playing with our expectations, there is a strong indication that there is an alien influence with another mystery surrounding a mysterious necklace that amplifies thoughts that has gone missing from Morton’s museum and also two workhouse ruffians who see Morton’s collections as easy pickings and a way out of poverty.

This is a picture postcard look at Victorian England with all the cliches that you would expect, in fact it would seem very at home in the Jago and Litefoot range, but as a Doctor Who story it feels very much like a fish out of water, a throwback to a previous era – maybe its that the second Doctor doesn’t exude the authority that his immediate predecessor did but he really feels alien in a Victorian drawing room in a way that other Doctor’s just wouldn’t so it is a credit to Justin Richards that he decided to use this particular TARDIS team, the feeling I get from this story is one of a story that is slightly off kilter and not quite as it should be, our heroes feel on the back foot and reacting to circumstances rather than shaping them. With nods to Sherlock Holmes, Bleak House and Oliver Twist it drips atmosphere but is not quite for me the sum of its parts – a respectful 7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in November 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until December 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.

When the TARDIS lands in London, Ben and Polly are initially delighted to be back home… until they realise that they’re a hundred years too early. But this is nothing next to how the Doctor and Jamie feel when the TARDIS itself vanishes!

Their attempts to locate their ship lead them to an antiquarian, Josiah Morton, possessed of a most unusual collection that is currently subjected to a legal dispute. But they’re not the only people interested in him. Dangerous criminals watch from the shadows, waiting for a moment to strike. And the police are calling too – accusing him of murder.

An unusual series of deaths have been occurring across the capital, and all signs point to Morton as the culprit. But is he really a killer? Or is there something else at large in the city? Something… alien?

Written By: Justin Richards
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast

Anneke Wills (Polly Wright/Narrator), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon/The Doctor), Elliot Chapman (Ben Jackson), David Sibley (Josiah Morton), Kerry Gooderson (Jemma Morton), Ewan Bailey (Blazzard / Copeland), Alan Blyton (Dexter).

Other parts played by members of the cast.

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

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REVIEW – THE MIDDLE

I really like this one, it feels like a Doctor Who story should feel (if that is a thing) has a definite beginning, middle and end with very natural feeling cliffhangers (the ending of part one is a particular treat) it is also one of those stories that has inspired one of my semi regular musical interludes – so sit back relax and enjoy Birthday by The Sugarcubes.

That was rather pleasant wasnt it, if a little melancholy – but thats what birthdays are, a celebration but a reminder of our mortality and birthdays play a very important part in The Middle as the story is set on and around Mrs Clarke (Miranda Raison) and her fast approaching 35th birthday and Flip Jackson (Lisa Greenwood) attempting to arrange a “Wren Party” to celebrate much to the dismay of Mrs Clarke & The Doctor (Colin Baker).

Landing on the colony of Formicia Flip is desperate to find an all night party or at the very least a pampering session for Mrs Clarke. It seems like an ideal place, but something doesn’t feel quite right – posters claim “The End is the Beginning” and The Doctor is eyed with suspicion by the oddly very young population…

Already in the pre credits sequence we have witnessed a member of the population facing “The End” – its what happens when you reach 70, and the Doctor is ever so slightly older than that, but also Mrs Clarke is fast approaching her 35th birthday and that leads to “the Middle”.

Doctor Who does this sort of story very well – cautionary tales, cracked mirrors held up to our world, stories like The Sunmakers, Vengeance on Varos, The Macra Terror etc, stories where society has gone up a blind alley and has plainly got it wrong. On Formicia the young get to be young, the middle aged get to do all the work and the elderly face “The End” on their 70th birthday – but being Doctor Who it is not as simple as that and as our heroes find out maybe the end really is the beginning.

The main cast are joined by comedy stalwart Mark Heap as “The Middleman”, basically a middleman, a mid level manager who seems to be in complete control of the colony, played in a typically passive/aggressive Mark Heap style, we also have Sheila Reid making her return to the Colin Baker era as Janaiya.

Colin Baker is pure class in this story relishing every twist and turn that the plot brings – no Doctor does moral outrage quite like Old SIxie and he is on top form confronting the injustices he uncovers on his crusade to see things put right. Miranda Raison and Lisa Greenwood are a fabulous and unlikely pairing as Mrs Clarke & Flip, separated by 60 years in time and an almost infinite chasm in social status they have just clicked with Mrs Clarke showing almost maternal concern for Flip when they are separated – fabulous character development and I hope they have many more adventures together.
The Sixth Doctor releases are always surprising and always rather special and following on from The Behemoth (review HERE) was always going to be difficult but The Middle hits it straight out of the park and on towards The End and fully deserves its 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in November 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until December 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.

It’s L/Wren Mrs Constance Clarke’s birthday – and Flip is determined to make it an anniversary to remember.

The futuristic colony of Formicia, where the pampered populace pass their days in endless leisure, seems the perfect place for a ‘Wren Party’. But all is not as it seems. Looking down from the Middle, the skyscraping tower that ascends as far as the colony ceiling, Formicia’s overseers can see that the Doctor doesn’t fit in – and it’s not just his coat that makes him conspicuous…

“The End is the Beginning,” say the propaganda-like posters all over Formicia. Because to be part of this perfect society comes at a price. And the Doctor’s already in arrears.

Written By: Chris Chapman
Directed By: Jamie Anderson

Cast

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Lisa Greenwood (Flip Jackson), Miranda Raison (Mrs Constance Clarke), Mark Heap (The Middleman), Sheila Reid (Janaiya), Wayne Forester (Roman), Hollie Sullivan (Olivia York), Chloe Rickenbach (Chloe).

Other parts played by members of the cast.

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

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REVIEW – THE INGENIOUS GENTLEMAN ADRIC OF ALZARIUS

Imagine if you will that this story is two things and they both concern Adric, or to give him his title in this story “The Ingenious Gentleman Adric of Alzarius”.

The first thing this story is is a prism, a prism through which Adric views his companions the newly regenerated Fifth Doctor, Tegan Jovanka and Nyssa of Traken. It is also a pair of rose tinted glasses that gives us insight into how Adric viewed his time with the Fourth Doctor and Romana, and it is a third thing, it is rather wonderful and makes a fitting companion piece to the rather wonderful A Full Life (available HERE and review HERE).

So whats it all about? Well thats the thing, on the surface it is about Adric having an adventure with a Knight Errant who being all teeth and curls and booming of voice seems rather familiar – but it is a lot more than that, this is a look inside Adric’s mind and his perception of the new team compared to the loss he feels for the old Doctor and Romana – and the new Doctor does not fare favourably, in fact Adric paints him as an evil Enchanter who along with his assistant Nyssa have kidnapped the Princess Tegan – and Adric along with the very familiar Knight Sir Keeyoht of la Koura decide he must be stopped. Along the way their quest brings them in to contact with Windmills which may or may not be giants and inspire a young girl to take up the mantle of Knight Errant.

Its a dreamy experience with one foot in reality and one foot in fantasy and it is as real as you want it to be as this story like all the best stories is open to interpretation, I see it as a rite of passage, of a young man growing up somewhat and accepting his place in the new order of things and reflecting on his experiences to become a better person.

Matthew Waterhouse is utterly superb, he really is. Big Finish have given Adric a new lease of life and Matthew along with the writers is using it to really go all out to add layers of depth and meaning to a character that could sometimes come across as a selfish brat on TV when really he was a traumatised troubled youth who had problems making connections with people and who was grieving for the loss of his brother, of Romana and of the Fourth Doctor.

Real congratulations to all involved not only Mr Waterhouse, to Julian Richards as writer, Lisa Bowerman as Director and Rob Harvey’s exceptional score – this really is something special 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.

Release #35 is a Fifth Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan story.

Sir Keeyoht of la Koura, and his loyal squire Adric, are on a quest. A great and noble quest to stop that most vile of Enchanters, the Doctor, from claiming the greatest treasure in the land. Along the way they intend to battle giants (or possibly windmills), inspire adventurers, rescue a princess and ultimately come face to face with that most terrifying of all monsters, the Dragon.

Except Adric knows there are no such thing as Dragons…

Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: Julian Richards
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast

Matthew Waterhouse (Narrator)

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REVIEW – THE TIME WAR SERIES 01

To call this box set “highly anticipated” would be rather an understatement.
The Time War has underpinned Doctor Who since its return in 2005 – it has been the driving force behind the series and was the focal point of the 50th anniversary celebrations and even gave us a secret incarnation of The Doctor in the much missed John Hurt – but above all this the Time War gave a sense of closure to the Eighth Doctor in his crash landing on Karn, and in that short 8 minute special we found out that Doctor number Eight had been helping those caught up in the Time War and that Time-lords were now almost as despised as The Daleks. But what did Doctor Number Eight actually do in the Time War, what was his part in the proceedings and how was he changed so much that on Karn he decided to choose his next incarnation as “Warrior” – the answers, or at least the beginning of the answers lie in this set.
To begin with, its not as epic as you expect it to be – yes it is galaxy and aeon spanning with battles galore, but despite all this it feels quite an intimate character driven affair, and at its centre there is a rather tragic love story, the story of Rupa (Nimmy March) and Quarren (David Ganley) a newly married couple on their honeymoon on the starship Theseus, or are they competition winners on the Cruise ship Theseus or are they refugees from the Time War escaping on the wreck of the Theseus? Answer they are all three and probably many more because the time war is not a war fought throughout time it is a war that constantly rewrites time again and again and again and even The Doctor and his companion Sheena, or is it Emma? or is it Louise? or was he travelling alone? are affected.
Its a bold thing to delve so deep in to the Time War and writers John Dorney and Matt Fitton have found an angle to explore it that I had not expected. If you are expecting a “boys own” adventure full of World War 2 cliches and derring do then you are in the wrong place, however if you are open minded enough to try something just a little bit different then this may be just the set for you:
  1. The Starship of Theseus by John Dorney
But it all starts with a holiday and a broom cupboard. The Doctor (Paul McGann) and his companion Sheena (Olivia Vinall) land in the broom cupboard of luxury star-liner the Theseus and decide that they deserve a holiday, they befriend Rupa and Quarren and are set for an evening of good conversation and good food when a mystery presents itself – passengers are going missing so the Doctor decided to investigate. And this is where things get complicated – listening as I do on my drive to work I thought I had missed a section or had not been concentrating because the Doctor was suddenly accompanied by his companion Emma and the ship was now a ship of refugees fleeing the Time War. And then his companion is called Louise and then. Well that would be telling. What an opening, just enough time travel shenanigans  to keep you interested but not all out Moffat level of confusing to put the listener off, in fact the listener is more in the know than the characters, we know they are suffering the effects of the Time War and are looking in on events from outside the bubble. Cleverly written and a fantastic opening chapter that paves the way for the journey that is to follow.
2. Echoes of War by Matt Fitton
Having crash-landed on a jungle world the Doctor finds himself leader of a group of refugees including Rupa, Quarren and Bliss (Rakhee Thakrar) that he swears to protect from the ravages of the Time War that are tearing the planet apart, echoes of future or past wars, hyper evolution, the forest perpetually dying and flourishing and one other survivor of the war a damaged Dalek, thing is the Dalek doesn’t know who or what it is and has the ability and equipment to guide our heroes to safety, if only it doesn’t start to remember its past , its prime directive or the name “Doctor”. You can cut the tension with a knife in this episode and Nick Briggs comes in for a mention in dispatches as “Dal” the damaged Dalek imbuing it with a sense of pity and pathos that Daleks don’t usually get to display. Like the 2005 story Dalek you almost (note “almost”) feel sorry for the fate that befalls Dal. This story is an ordeal to be appreciated rather than enjoyed.
3. The Conscript by Matt Fitton
Is there room for comedy in the Time War? Maybe not but definitely there is a place for gallows humour of the sort that we got in Full Metal Jacket and The Long and the Short and the Tall. The Doctor has been conscripted to the Time Lord army, very much against his wishes but his compliance is there to ensure Bliss, Rupa and Quarren are well treated whilst being detained for debriefing by Cardinal Ollistra (Jaqueline Pearce) – the Doctor delights in his insubordination and will not be broken by the regime he finds himself in, he inspires individuality, insubordination and a small mutiny. But during a war is there a place for his whimsy and flippancy? In a regime where clean boots matter is there a place for The Doctor and his view on the universe? and will it all end badly? Throughout the flippancy you can sense a creeping dread, that there is a time and a place for silliness and this is not it, that The Doctor with all the best of intentions will lead the platoon to ruin – you will just have to listen to fins out if he does…
4. One Life by John Dorney
And so the threads come together, a happening in part one leads to a revelation in part four and even in the most terrible of times love can still beat war. And the Doctor can gain a new friend, or is it a friend he has always had?
A great collection of stories that form a very cohesive story – the Time War is not the be all and end all but the canvas on which this very character heave collection is painted. Witnessing the Eighth Doctor in the thick of the Time War made me revisit every episode of Doctor Who since 2005 and pose the question how could I ever have believed that he was the one that ended it all. Because he wouldn’t and he couldn’t because that’s not the man he was – even in the very worst of times Eight was always The Doctor. A very well deserved and are fought 9/10.
Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in October 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until December 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.

The Eighth Doctor battles for survival in the Time War:

1. The Starship of Theseus by John Dorney

The Doctor and his companion, Sheena, land the TARDIS on the glamorous luxury space-liner Theseus just as it’s about to leave the Jupiter space-port. An opportunity for a holiday presents itself – and it’s one they’re very glad to take.

But when a disturbance catches their attention, they realise sinister events are taking place on board. Passengers are vanishing on every trip. And unless they’re careful they may be next.

Can the Doctor and Emma solve the mystery? Or is there something else they should be worrying about?

2. Echoes of War by Matt Fitton

Colliding with the full force of the Time War, the Doctor crash-lands on a jungle world with a ragtag band of refugees.

To stay alive, they must cross a landscape where time itself is corrupted. A forest which cycles through growth and decay, where sounds of battle are never far away, and where strange creatures lurk all around.

Luckily, the Doctor has friends: not only plucky scientist Bliss, but another, much more unlikely ally. Its name is ‘Dal’…

3. The Conscript by Matt Fitton

Cardinal Ollistra has a new tactic to persuade the Doctor to join his people’s fight. With his friends locked away, he has been conscripted alongside fellow Gallifreyans to train for the front lines of battle.

Commandant Harlan has a reputation – his camp’s regime is harsh. He believes the Time Lords must adapt to win this war, but the Doctor is not easily intimidated.

Can there be any place for dissent when the Time War looms so close?

4. One Life by John Dorney

As the full force of the Time War crashes down around the Doctor and his friends, a desperate battle for survival ensues.

But not everyone is playing the same game. Ollistra is after a weapon that could end the war in a stroke and she’ll sacrifice anyone or anything to take it back to Gallifrey. Even the Doctor.

Surrounded by Daleks, and on a tortured planet, only one man can save the day. But he doesn’t want to fight.

A special run of prequels to Doctor Who: The War Doctor.

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Ken Bentley
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

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

Cast

Paul McGann (The Doctor), Olivia Vinall (Sheena), Nimmy March (Rupa Maguire), David Ganly (Quarren Maguire), Sean Murray (Captain Darvor), Hywel Morgan (Koloth / Jefferson), Laurence Kennedy (Purser Lunney / Aymor / Chancellor), Rakhee Thakrar (Bliss), Karina Fernandez (Captain Tamasan), Jacqueline Pearce (Ollistra), Nick Brimble (Commander Harlan), Katy Sobey (Veeda), Okezie Morro (Norvid), and Nicholas Briggs (Dal / Dalek Commander / Dalek Drone / Daleks). Other parts played by members of the cast.

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REVIEW – TORCHWOOD: ALIENS AMONG US VOLUME 02

Those of you who have not heard volume one may wish to catch up – its available to buy HERE and my review is HERE, because this is a continuing story a real season five and what self respecting fan of a genre series would come to it five episodes in??? Also there will be some mild spoilers in this review for those of you who have not caught up with part one.
So Cardiff has basically been invaded, already taken over by aliens led by Ro-Jedda (Rachel Atkins) who has become the City Mayor, tensions are running high in Cardiff, racial hate crimes are spiralling out of control and the whole city has an air of impending doom as if the end of days is only a few moments away the population are on edge, the aliens are among us and it is only going to get worse.
And then there is Torchwood, the new revamped Torchwood rebuilt by Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and featuring new recruits Mr Colchester (Paul Clayton) and the alien Orr (Sam Beart) and ably assisted by Rhys Williams (Kai Owen), Sgt Andy Davidson (Tom Price) and the slimy and enigmatic Tyler Steele (Jonny Green)
But things are not quite right in Torchwood either, cracks are appearing and there is something just not quite right with Gwen Cooper. At a time that the team need to be more united than ever, at a time of impending crisis they seem to be falling apart.
Sounds grim? well it is, but in a good way if you know what I mean and the action really has stepped up a gear from the first box set, it seems more focussed, more character driven, more personal and more dangerous, this set comprises four stories:
5.5 Love Rat by Christopher Cooper
When Jack Harkness is killed by a frenzied man he picks up we know something is wrong.
When Jack Harkness tries to get intimate with everyone he meets this seems normal, but when Orr picks up all sorts of conflicting emotions from hime there is definitely something wrong..
What a very “Torchwood” story to open the set with, the sort of story that really wouldn’t have been out of place in the early part of Season One on TV involving a sentient alien STD trying to take over the world (the mind boggles) – What is amazing is that what could be played as a camp farce is played completely straight and that Torchwood are powerless to combat the threat on their own and have to go cap in hand to Ro-Jedda for a solution. The story weaves itself into and around the existing narrative of a city on the edge and plays on the desperation a disparate Torchwood beautifully – this new Cardiff is a world where Torchwood are not all powerful protectors…..
5.6 A Kill to a View by Mac Rogers
Bilis Manger (Murray Melvin) the creepy clock shop owner from Torchwood series One is back, this time as caretaker for the new apartment block that Mr Colchester and his husband Colin (Ramon Tikaram) have moved in to to keep Colin safe from racist attacks, a place of safety, a haven from the nightmare Cardiff has become. They couldn’t have picked a worse place, because Bilis has been nurturing the baser instincts of some of his tenants to become hunters and social climbers and the Colchester’s have the flat that Sandra (Diveen Henry) and Andrea (Ellie Haydon) are looking for and they intend to take it by force. A tense story reflecting the obsession we have of social climbing of being better than our neighbours, of having dinner parties where the participants are circling each other like sharks just waiting for the social faux-pas that will never be forgotten. This attitude is distilled into the psychotic Sandra & Andrea  meaning Colin Colchester may never feel safe again.
Murray Melvin has not lost any of the oily obsequiousness that characterises him – he has a plan and he is using the resident to carry it out. A real classic of a story.
5.7 Zero Hour by Janine H Jones 
There has been an exponential increase in couriers, they are all over the place in a way that they just weren’t a few years ago. One of these couriers is Hassan (Sacha Dhawan) a rather handsome young man who catches the eye of Tyler Steele. Hassan works for “Deliverables” an app based courier firm, delivers on the same route to the same places every single day sometimes more than once a day – Tyler finds this strange and contact Gwen Cooper and Torchwood to investigate and uncovers a monstrous conspiracy of virtual slave workers and the horror of the compulsory benefits package upgrade.
Torchwood is at its best when it takes the ordinary and makes it sinister and this is just what Janine H Jones does in this story – all those people, all those parcels all that repetitive movement all for a greater and far more sinister purpose than we could ever imagine.
5.8 The Empty Hand by Tim Foley
Sgt Andy Davidson is one of the good guys, the nice face of community policing, he would have been more at home as the village Bobby in the 1950’s than a city cop in the 21st century. So it is a massive shock when Andy wakes up in an interview room accused of shooting an innocent refugee in cold blood. And there is video footage to prove it. Thing is Andy really doesn’t remember doing it, and his left hand really hurts….
And just when Torchwood are trying to put a lid on this and investigate the video leaks it goes viral and there are protests on the streets. Andy is holed up in his home surrounded by press and protesters, but its ok because Rhys Williams is with him complete with crisps, dips and a six pack of beer, and Rhys also fancies sending out for a Chinese takeaway :-)
Tom Price as Andy and Kai Owen as Rhys make a fantastic double act, bringing some much needed light relief to a very bleak, very believable story – it really is Rhys’ humanity that shines through, a no nonsense bloke who just knows his mate Andy is not capable of doing what he did. Until the takeaway arrives….
A grim ending to a grim set with the truth seemingly sacrificed on the alter of the greater good and a cliffhanger that made me go cold.
Vastly improved from volume one, Aliens Among US has found its feet, the new team are working well together and the individual stories let each character have their moment in the spotlight – the overarching story of the alien run Cardiff and the Gwen situation are also given time to develop at their own pace and don’t feel tacked on to the actual episodes of the story. And then there is THAT cliffhanger that ends the set leaving me chomping at the bit for Vol 3. A well deserved 9/10.
Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in October 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until December 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.

Big Finish picks up the events after Miracle Day with Torchwood: Aliens Among Us…

Captain Jack and Gwen Cooper have restarted Torchwood. But it’s in a very different Cardiff. Something terrible’s happened to the city. With every day getting darker, will Torchwood need to adopt a whole new approach?

5.5 Love Rat by Christopher Cooper

Captain Jack Harkness is dead, and that’s the simplest thing that’s happened to him in the last few days. Even the manner of his death is surprisingly complex, especially when it turns out that he hasn’t come back alone.

While Torchwood try and cope with a new mayor and a terrorist cell, they also have to deal with what, at first, looks to be a plague, and then turns out to be something far, far worse.

5.6 A Kill to a View by Mac Rogers

Ritz Towers is a luxury tower block so exclusive not even aliens can get a place there. Mr Colchester has somehow secured a flat at the Ritz. With the streets increasingly troubled, his husband feels safe there. The problem is that Ritz Towers is anything but safe.

For a start, the building has more tenants than it has flats. Then there are the endless dinner parties. The whole new definition of upwardly mobile. And finally, there is the very mysterious caretaker.

5.7 Zero Hour by Janine H Jones

Welcome to Deliverables. Thanks to us, Cardiff is enjoying an economic miracle. We have created thousands of jobs. We have wiped out homelessness.

More importantly, there are so many benefits to you. Deliverables will deliver your post, your packages, your meals. We are Deliverables, and we never stop.

Deliverables – we always know where to find you. Deliverables – put your life in our hands.

5.8 The Empty Hand by Tim Foley

An innocent refugee has been shot point-blank on the streets of Cardiff. It causes an upsurge in terrorist attacks.

An innocent refugee has been shot point-blank on the streets of Cardiff by a policeman. It’s a catalyst for protests in the streets.

An innocent refugee has been shot point-blank on the streets of Cardiff by Sergeant Andy Davidson. It’s the end of Torchwood as we know it.

Written By: Christopher Cooper, Mac Rogers, Janine H Jones, Tim Foley
Directed By: Scott Handcock

Cast

John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Alexandria Riley (Ng), Paul Clayton(Mr Colchester), Sam Béart (Orr), Jonny Green (Tyler Steele), Kai Owen (Rhys Williams), Tom Price (Sgt. Andy Davidson), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Murray Melvin (Bilis Manger), Rachel Atkins (Ro-Jedda), Ramon Tikaram (Colin Colchester-Price), Ewan Bailey (Duncan), Kerry Joy Stewart (Maddy), Diveen Henry (Sandra), Ellie Heydon (Andrea), Marilyn Le Conte (Patricia), Luke Rhodri (Rowan), Charlotte O’Leary (Poppy), Sacha Dhawan (Hasan), Sarah Annis (P.C. Nicki Owen), Rick Yale (Lorry Driver), Laura Dalgleish (Newsreader), Kristy Phillips(Stacey), Aly Cruickshank (Student), Richard Elfyn (Takeaway Man), Sanee Raval(Xander)

Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners

Produced by James Goss
Script edited by Scott Handcock
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

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REVIEW – THE OUTLIERS

Well now, nobody did a base under siege story quite like they did in the Troughton era did they?

Oh yes, there were bases under siege before and there have been many a base under many a siege afterwards – but no era has been defined by one the of story than the era of Doctor number two, and this months Early Adventure takes the idea, runs with it and makes it work on an altogether grander scale than had ever been attempted in the 1960’s

 Simon Guerrier (for he is the writer of the piece) has all the ingredients in place – firstly the Second Doctor, Polly, Ben & Jamie are all present and correct. Secondly he has the “base” which in this case is an asteroid which has been mined out. Thirdly you have a mining operation with a fanatical Project leader in Dr Richard Tipple (Alistair Petrie) and fourthly you have the threat. Heat in an oven on gas mark something or other for a some-such amount of time and stand back and watch (or listen) to the results….

 People are vanishing in the mining project and the scale of the disappearances are being covered up by the authorities and when the Doctor and co arrive they are immediately suspected of being responsible for the disappearances, so far so Troughton but what really makes this different is the scale of the thing because the “base” in question is a gigantic asteroid the size of a small planet with a population that are housed inside whilst mining takes place, and though the cast of this play are relatively small you really feel as a listener that every person on the asteroid is in imminent danger of disappearing beneath the murky waters of the interior of the asteroid, because in the rising water is a presence – a presence that has foreseen a catastrophe created by the mining community and it will do anything it can to stop the future that looks almost certain.

 In many ways this is a very traditional Troughton “Monster” story but it has so much depth (an that just isn’t the rising water either) because as with all the best stories there are shades of grey, there is right and wrong on both sides and both sides of the conflict can be said to be “monsters” in one way or another. Depending on your point of view. Traditionalist will love the fact that on the surface it seems to slavishly stick to a tried and tested formula and tread very little new ground whereas newer fans will like the moral dilemmas and the character development that we witness during the four episodes and the vagaries that the story offered regarding  the future history of Ben, Polly and Jamie once they leave the Doctor – it seems that the future is very much up for grabs, and long term fans will enjoy the cheeky reference to Ben and Polly being chased by a Cyberman on a beach (is Radio Time Canon now?????)

 A lovely story with something for everyone and not as traditional as it first may seem. 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in October 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until November 30th 2017, and on general sale after this date.

The TARDIS takes the Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie to a flooded underground town on an alien world. The streets are empty. The houses are bare. Not a trace of life.

The miners working here are vanishing. And it isn’t long before the time-travellers are suspected of being responsible for the disappearances. But even the authorities haven’t fully realised the scale of the problem.

There’s something else on this world. Something dragging people away. And it won’t stop until it’s taken them all.

Written By: Simon Guerrier
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast

Anneke Wills (Polly Wright/Narrator), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon/The Doctor), Elliot Chapman (Ben Jackson), Alistair Petrie (Richard Tipple), Debbie Chazen (Dr Goro), Matilda Ziegler (Chatura Sharma)

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

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REVIEW – THE BEHEMOTH

Well, sometimes things just work. A load of disparate ideas and situations come together and a sort of alchemy takes place. The Behemoth is one of those rare things. It contains the following elements:

 1 Bath in 1786

2 Old SIxie, Mrs Clarke and Flip

3 Two real historical characters Captain Van Der Meer and the mysterious “Lady Clara”

4 Society Balls and social injustice

5 a script that may or may not have been influenced by Del Boy Trotter….

 AND it is utterly marvellous.

 Oh, you want more? Ok then so Old Sixie (Colin Baker) Mrs Clarke (Miranda Raison) & Flip (Lisa Greenwood) are holidaying in 18th Century Bath, taking in the baths and the pump room and playing at being part of the polis society of the time.

When the Doctor rescues the dog of Mrs Middlemint (Georgina Moon) our TARDIS crew find themselves in the debt of her brother the renowned industrialist Sir Geoffrey Balsam (Glynn Sweet) and are the toast of society as they are invited to attend a gala ball in which the mysterious “Lady Clara” will make an appearance. And for the first episode this story is very much a society comedy of manners in the style of Jane Austen, but just when you think you have got the handle of what type of story it is Marc Platt pulls a stroke of genius and changes the tone of the story completely – as Old SIxie romances Mrs Middlemint, the veneer of Regency respectability is torn apart as Mrs Clarke befriends the Reverend Naylor (Wayne Forester) a committed abolitionist and opens all our eyes to the fact that the wealth of so called polite society is built on the back of the slave trade.

 Never has a story gone from one extreme to the other but seemed so natural, because slavery seemed to be as natural part of high society as periwigs and society balls, and it is the casual acceptance by all but Captain Van Der Meer (Giles New) and the Reverend Naylor that is shocking to Flip and Mrs Clarke. The slaves are viewed as sub-human, as property to be bargained with, as nothing more than drones to keep the wheels of industry and commerce turning, and their nobility as personified by Mrs Middlemint’s slave girl Sarah (Diveen Henry) and her husband Gorembe (Ben Arogundade) is a privilege to hear.

 The main cast are firing on all cylinders from Colin Baker taking a rare romantic interest to Miranda Raison as Mrs Clarke utterly outraged at the treatment of slaves, her speech regarding fighting fascism in all its forms is true punch the air stuff, and there is Lisa Greenwood as Flip who has her own sub-plot avoiding the amorous and unwanted attentions of upper class twit of the decade Titus Craven (Liam McKenna) – all parts played with utter conviction, an historical in the true sense of the word, our heroes are impotent observers in a past where injustices have and are happening.

 Colin Baker has always been the star of Big Finish productions Doctor Who Main Range, and stories like this are proof positive that he deserves that position. A compelling drama from beginning to end and ever so slightly educational as well – I wonder if Del Boy Trotter looked up “Lady Clara” when he was writing his screenplay for Rodney’s community film? Probably not but that  does not stop me from awarding a rip roaring 10/10 for a genuine classic story.

Written By Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in October 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until November 30th 2017, and on general sale after this date.

Bath, 1756 – and a very dashing gentleman known only as the Doctor is newly arrived in town, accompanied by his lady friends Mrs Clarke and Mrs Ramon. He’s created a stir among the gentlefolk of Georgian high society – and a stir in the heart of merry widow Mrs Theodosia Middlemint, rumour has it.

They are not the only strangers from abroad causing tongues to wag, however. The mysterious Lady Clara, come from Amsterdam in the company of the noble Captain Van Der Meer, has the whole of Bath agog. Who is she, really? What is she, really?

But there’s something terrible beneath the veneer of Georgian gentility. As awful a horror as the Doctor has ever exposed, hidden inside Balsam’s Brassworks. Something that needs to be brought to light, for the sake of all humanity.

Written By: Marc Platt
Directed By: Jamie Anderson

Cast

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Lisa Greenwood (Flip Jackson), Miranda Raison (Mrs Constance Clarke), Glynn Sweet (Sir Geoffrey Balsam), Georgina Moon (Mrs Middlemint), Liam McKenna (Titus Craven), Wayne Forester (Rev Mr Philip Naylor), Giles New (Captain Douwemout Van Der Meer), Diveen Henry (Sarah), Ben Arogundade (Gorembe). Other parts played by members of the cast.

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

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REVIEW – ALL HANDS ON DECK

Comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same coin as The Seventh Doctor once said in The Happiness Patrol. And its true they are, no truer than this story because when the laughter stops the tragedy begins and we are taken back to Susan Foreman’s blackest day and to what just might be her Grandfathers blackest day.

Carole Ann Ford returns to narrate and to play the part of Susan in a story loaded with significance for the whole of her relationship with The Doctor, because in the Earth Susan lives in, where they have suffered two Dalek Invasions and are only just starting to build a working society and then the Time War intervenes. Not that it seems that the Time War is intervening but it is.

Susan Foreman, neither are the real names of the character we know but she has grown used to them and she is always on call when Earth authorities need a helping hand with a disaster or some alien tech. But lately Susan has been suffering from a sort of hay-fever feeling, a pressure that just wont go away and what with Dalek tech starting itself up for no good reason, asteroids on a collision course with the Earth and a plague of bio-mechanoid spiders she has a lot to cope with at the moment.

There is a lot of nostalgia in this story, Susan lives in a flat in the converted remains of Coal Hill School, in the courtyard there is a tree planted to commemorate Ian and Barbara and then there is an unexpected visit from her Grandfather, now in his Eighth incarnation and Susan’s world will never ever be the same again.

This is one of those stories that absolutely pulls the rug out from under you, it goes from hi-jinx with custard floods and hi-octane thrills with Spider cyborgs to a small scale conversation between a Time-Lord and his Granddaughter and a momentous decision to be made because this is the day that the Time War invades Susan’s life and the choices she makes on this day will shape not only hers but also The Doctor’s future direction.

It turns on a sixpence, and a great moment of stillness hits you and we are back at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth with over 50 years of hindsight, and the story told today is no less heartbreaking but is another paving stone on the road to Karn and everything burning in the aftermath.

Beautifully performed and written and directed with every ounce of emotion and sorrow wrenched from the source material this is a story of a right of passage and a choice and it is rather wonderful 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.

Release #34 is an Eighth Doctor and Susan story.

Everyone Susan Campbell cared about has gone. Most of them died in the second Dalek invasion, and her grandfather never visits. She’s living in what used to be Coal Hill School, helping Earth rebuild again.

Then, one night, she’s called away to help with an emergency. A piece of appropriated Dalek technology is malfunctioning, and everyone’s afraid of what it might do…

This is just the first in a sequence of predicaments facing Susan – and the connection between them will shape the rest of her life.

Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: Eddie Robson
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast

Carole Ann Ford (Narrator)

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REVIEW – A HEART ON BOTH SIDES

It is coming. Or it has already happened. Or it is happening now everywhere and every-when The Time War has haunted Doctor Who since it came back in 2005, and soon – very soon we get to experience it first hand with a new series of adventures starring Paul McGann as Doctor number Eight, but to whet our appetite there is this and the next Short Trips release, sort of Time War preludes or Time War cutaways, or even more so stark depictions of how the Time War has affected everyone The Doctor knows, has known and will know. And this particular cutaway features Nyssa of Traken.

Nyssa was always the most compassionate of the Doctor’s former companions and in this story she travels from world to world with her companion one “Doctor Foster” remaining steadfastly neutral in the horrors of the Time War, offering medical aid to those in need regardless of their allegiances. A very very Nyssa thing to do, until one day she lands on the planet very very close to Gallifrey, a fuel rich world which the Time-lords have tried to appropriate into their empire to which the indigenous population are very against, and then an atrocity perhaps perpetuated by a Time Lord takes place and suspicion falls on Nyssa and her companion. In times of war even the great and the good sometimes turn to the most abhorrent of methods in the pursuit of the mythical greater good….

Sarah Sutton draws the listener in to what is a very dialogue heavy piece – her voice aching with compassion for those innocents that the Time War has destroyed and only wanting to do the right thing in a universe where the ethics of right and wrong have become fluid at best. The role of the Doctor in the story is kept hidden from Nyssa but not from the listener, he is in fact hidden in very very plain sight – but it is the effect that the Time War has had on the once noble and non interventionist Time Lords that is explored here, and the extremes that they will go to to gain even the most minuscule of advantages. And in contrast we have Nyssa who is resolutely an humanitarian and The Doctor who’s resolve and determination to do the right thing are being sorely tested and we see the beginnings of a path that will lead to Karn and his resurrection as a Warrior.

A tense cutaway, a short prelude, an excerpt from a greater and much more calamitous happening but a window into the seed of good that still exists somewhere in all the tragedy. 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.

Release #33 is an Eighth Doctor and Nyssa story.

After her medical work on Terminus, Nyssa is now the controller of a hospital ship, the Traken. As the universe burns in the crossfire of the Time War, she and her assistant travel to a planet close to Gallifrey where they are needed more than ever. A long time ago, Nyssa knew a Time Lord and understood his people. But it seems they can change…

Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: Rob Nisbet
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast

Sarah Sutton (Narrator)

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REVIEW – BERNICE SUMMERFIELD: TRUE STORIES

Big Finish, with these Bernice Summerfield releases you are spoiling us!

 Well they are. Not one but two releases featuring the universes premier archaeologist and alcohol consumer  within a month, I never get tired of listening to the adventures of Bernice Summerfield, and this release is a delight to listen to.

 Completely different from the full cast audio drama set of Ms Summerfield’s latest adventures with Unbound Doctor David Warner, but set in the same “Unbound” universe this set of tales has Bernice having her own misadventures whilst The Doctor is off being President of the Universe and trying to work out a way of preventing its total collapse.

The stories told by Bernice herself Lisa Bowerman under duress, as Benny is in a spot of bother, she is up in court and to her neck in bother and to calibrate the jury she has to tell six stories, three true and three false, a rather clever framing device for six stories of bizarre happenings, archaeology, drinking, dating, invasions and a rather fetching blue-rinse hair do. Its that sort of set of stories.

 In my experience there are two types of science fiction fans, those who take the Arthur C Clarke route and those (like me) who take the Douglas Adams route, and I think it is safe to say that the C Clarke faction will find this set not entirely to their taste, but the Adams crowd will lap it up because it is supremely silly and has a sense of scale and wonder on the one hand and a wonderful obsession with the mundanity of existence and the ordinariness and frustration of existence on the other none mores than the fifth story in the set Stockholm From Home in which Bernice finds herself trapped in an old peoples home, subjected to the indignity of having a hairdo having missed Bingo night, is constantly spam messaged by an alien from a dating app and has to contend with a rather sub parr invasion plan. You get the idea.

 The stories are given life, shape and colour by Lisa Bowerman, no one else could be Bernice, she just inhabits the part her synchronicity with the character is such that you can just see Benny’s withering looks and raised eyebrows through her narration, the best companion that The Doctor ever had and we are so fortunate to have her continuing adventures.

 A joy from beginning to end, a madcap mix of misadventure and mirth as Mr H.G Jago may say and a very true to form 9/10 from me.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in September 2017. It is exclusively available to buy from the BF website.

This audiobook reading comes directly from Big Finish’s hardback and e-Book release Bernice Summerfield: True Stories which is also available.

Bernice Summerfield: True Stories features six stories about everyone’s favourite archaeologist, with unusual digs, daring missions and more, all set in the Unbound Universe of the recent audios. The writers are Jon Blum & Rupert Booth, Xanna Eve Chown, Tim Gambrell, Matthew Griffiths, Kate Orman & Q, and Victoria Simpson.

Archaeologist, adventurer, mother, and occasional goddess, Professor Bernice Surprise Summerfield has seen and done more things in this universe than you can possibly imagine. But none of that matters right now. Because, Benny isn’t in this universe any more. Right now, she’s stuck in an alternate universe (through no fault of her own) and this universe has definitely seen better days. In fact, it’s rumoured to be dying. Luckily, the President of the Universe is an old friend, and he’s lent her a spaceship so she can carry on doing what she does best: righting wrongs, making mistakes, saving lives, drinking… These stories won’t tell you how – or if – she makes it home. But they will tell you about some of her adventures in this unbound universe. Some of them are even true…”

Hue and Cry by Kate Orman and Q

Never The Way by Jonathan Blum and Rupert Booth

Fast Contact by Matthew Griffiths

Futureproof by Victoria CW Simpson

Stockholm From Home by Tim Gambrell

Bliss by Xanna Eve Chown

Produced by David Richardson

Written By: Jon Blum & Rupert Booth, Xanna Eve Chown, Tim Gambrell, Matthew Griffiths, Kate Orman & Q, and Victoria Simpson

Cast

Read by Lisa Bowerman

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REVIEW – THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BERNICE SUMMERFIELD VOL 4: RULER OF THE UNIVERSE

Indulge me if you will, before I review this at times exhilarating  at times downbeat, at times frustrating and at times utterly wonderful box set while I start with a musical interlude dedicated to the one and only, the greatest companion The Doctor has ever had, this song never fails to make me smile and raise a glass or three of Shiraz to Benny:
Good isn’t it? And so, now I have that out of my system on to the box set, and what a set – as I said it has it all, highs, lows, excitement, dullness (mid numbing dullness I will have you know – I mean you cant expect The Doctor NOT to be bored as ruler of the Universe can you?)  Yes you read that right The Doctor is the ruler of the Universe, but its the wrong Doctor and the wrong Universe – this is the “Unbound” Doctor played with grumpy petulant disdain by David Warner and this Doctor doubts he is up to the job of saving the whole universe, but maybe he can create a safe zone to protect some of it, this is a Doctor crushed by the weight of his responsibility and bored with the inanity of politics, a Doctor who wishes he was somewhere ANYWHERE else, but doesn’t have the option to quit – and by his side is the wonderful effervescent, intelligent sarcastic expert drinker Bernice Summerfield (Lisa Bowerman) – an unstoppable force for doing the right thing with a wry smile, who is being brought down by this Doctor who isn’t really the Doctor doing something that the Doctor really shouldn’t do.
Sounds a grim really doesn’t it. And it is a bit grim really but you cant really have a situation where the Universe is contracting and the stars are going out without it being grim. We are not talking grim on a Scandi-Drama scale but this really is new territory for Bernice, she is usually so up, so wry, so downright sarcastic and drunk and witty and clever and here she just seems a bit, well, downtrodden – this new take on her personality is wonderfully played by Lisa Bowerman who just so IS Bernice, she has to be the hero while the Doctor is wallowing in the enormity of the task he has to undertake. And then of course there is Sam Kisgart (see what they did there) as The Master added to the mix, just what you need as the Universe ends. But the story begins with a clock, a special Clock called the Apocalypse Clock, a clock that may be able to avert the destruction of everything:
  1. The City And The Clock by Guy Adams
Bernice is back to doing what she does best – a bit of archaeology to try and unearth the mythical Apocalypse Clock as the time the Universe she is in runs down. Its great to hear Bernice again, so enthusiastic about doing what she does well, and then her and her team run in to some rather nasty ghosts, and then there is the matter of keeping The Doctor and his publicity machine under control. This story really sets up the dynamic for the rest of the set – Bernice as the go getter and doer and The Doctor as a morose curmudgeon hating every second of his existence as President of the Universe, an existence where everything is controlled by soundbites and buzz words and the Doctor is in danger of forgetting what being the Doctor actually is….
2) Asking For A Friend by James Goss
There have been a few stories that are actually about what it is to be The Doctor and examine the person him (or her) self. We have had stories about the absence of the Doctor (Human Nature), stories about longing for The Doctor (Love and Monsters) and stories about breaking The Doctor (Heaven Sent) but not many about what makes them who they are. Then we have this. Its unlike any other Doctor Who story before and it is such a simple idea that I cannot believe its not been done before, this is the story where The Doctor goes into therapy and lays his soul bare to therapist Guilana (Annette Badland) – but The Doctor being the Doctor nothing is really as it seems, his fundamental lack of understanding of the situation that he is in sees tragic personal consequences. Beautifully written, sensitively performed – Badland and Warner both underplay perfectly and give the material the respect and gravity that it deserves. A classic.
3) Truant by Guy Adams
Bored of his time as President, working on equations to make the use of the Apocalypse Clock viable the Doctor takes off on an impromptu adventure to relieve the tedium leaving Bernice sent off after him to retrieve him like a naughty truant schoolboy – but The Doctor is trying to stop an invasion but it turns out he is several generations too late. A bit of a morality play mixed in with some Pythonesque absurdity (you will know it when you hear it, just listen out for the ward “Liberals”) – because when do invaders stop being invaders? should the grandchildren be made to pay for the warlike nature of their grandparents and what if the person entitled to rule does not want to rule? all these questions and many more will be addressed as will the question of what happens to the ruler of the Universe when he runs away from the responsibility of his job? that ones easy and is answered in the final part…..
4) The True Saviour Of The Universe by James Goss
When the Doctor gets deposed as ruler of the Universe, there is only one man who can take his place – The Master (Sam Kisgart), all smarm and sneer and as arch as they get, The Master will be the one to save the Universe, The Master will be the one to start the Apocalypse clock and the Master will be triumphant. Anyone see any flaws in that plan? A roller coaster of an ending where everyone seems to get what they deserve and a rather lovely coda leading on to hopefully more adventures for Mr Warner & Ms Bowerman.
Loved that – a different sort of story arc for Bernice and a long dark night of the soul for The Doctor – a real journey of discovery and character development with silliness and bleakness in almost equal measure, a downbeat Bernice a dour Doctor and a dangerous Master, a Universe in peril – what else could you want? 10/10.
Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in September 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until October 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.

Bernice Summerfield is still trapped in a dying universe with the wrong Doctor. Things have taken a turn for the worse – the Doctor has become President Of The Universe and, it turns out, he’s a controversial choice for the job. While Bernice works to unearth the mythical Apocalypse Clock, the Doctor’s immersed in the murky world of politics and the dark forces that are working against him. As battlefleets fight and terrible deals are done, the peoples of the universe wonder if they’ve made a terrible decision. Is the Doctor up to ruling the universe? Watching from the sidelines, the Master is quick to reassure everyone that he has no ambitions in that direction. And, meanwhile, the stars are going out…

1) The City And The Clock by Guy Adams

Bernice is on an archaeological dig for the mythical Apocalypse Clock. Can it really be the key to saving the universe? The ghosts of the planet have other ideas.

2) Asking For A Friend by James Goss

Vast wars are raging across the stars, planets are dying, and the Doctor is sat on a psychiatrist’s couch. What’s it like to be the Doctor’s therapist?

3) Truant by Guy Adams

The President of the Universe has run away. Bernice has to hunt him down, but he’s too busy having fun. Evil warlords! Impossible escapes! Sinister plans! The Doctor’s on an adventure.

4) The True Saviour Of The Universe by James Goss

Bernice finds that time has run out for the Doctor and the universe. Is this really the end of everything? Help is on hand from an unlikely quarter.

Written By: Guy Adams, James Goss
Directed By: Scott Handcock

Cast

Lisa Bowerman (Professor Bernice Summerfield), David Warner (The Doctor), Sam Kisgart (The Master), Samantha Beárt (Chamu), Ben Arogundade (Joto), Stephen Critchlow (Leonard), Ben Crystal (Hood), Guy Adams (Host), Annette Badland(Guilana), Wilf Scolding (Radio / Mogron), Catrin Stewart (Killian), Jonathan Bailey (Lakis), Rhys Jennings (Slaygar), Oliver Mason (Sordo), Rowena Cooper(Mother Superior), and Hattie Hayridge (Ebbis / Morlick)

Producer and Script Editor James Goss
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

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REVIEW – TIME IN OFFICE

This is a bit of an odd one, and do you know I really cannot decide if it is odd good or odd bad or just plain odd, its a puzzler.

First of all the tone – the Davison era wasnt really known for its comedic tone, but this is a very funny story, or to be more accurate set of stories, this actually feels like a mini series rather than a complete story all written by the same writer set in the same place and telling of a time in the Doctor’s life rather than an adventure in the Doctor’s life.

So Time in Office sees the Fifth Doctor the up the reigns of office and finally become Lord President of Gallifrey and it is a light hearted look at what those times were, almost being told by an unreliable narrator – because this set of tales does not paint the Time Lords in a very positive light, they are presented as a bunch of conniving incompetent power hungry xenophobic back stabbers who are slaves to pomp and tradition. A race of all powerful beings stagnant and insular – but to the mix Eddie Robson adds the Fifth Doctor at his most wry and Tegan Jovanka at her most acerbic, lights the blue touch-paper and retires.

Never was there a more unwilling President than The Doctor – and the feckless Fifth seems to view his appointment with wry amusement siding with student revolutionaries against the establishment, sulking when he has to go on diplomatic missions and generally shaking things up a bit in the dusty dry old corridors of the Panopticon. He of course isn’t alone, he is accompanied by Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding) who to avoid deportation as an undesirable alien is made Earth’s ambassador to Gallifrey – and boy does she enjoy it. Also making a welcome return is the wonderful Louise Jameson as Leela who we have not heard paired up with the Fifth Doctor before and it is a joy to hear.

When this release was announced I was expecting a tense political thriller, fort of The West Wing on Gallifrey, what we got is more Yes Minister with big collars and endless relics “of Rassilon” – sort of four stories about one story about a time when The Doctor was in charge but didn’t really enjoy it, where he had all of time and space at his command but the biggest enemy was inertia and protocol rather than Daleks and Cybermen.

A very different take on a Doctor Who story, an experiment that while not producing quite the results I was expecting I am glad the experiment was attempted if for nothing else for the fact that the “thimble of Rassilon” is now part of Who Lore and for that alone it deserves a 7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in September 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until October 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.

The Doctor’s adventures in time and space are over. The Time Lords have recalled him to Gallifrey – but what he faces on his home planet is worse than any trial. Following the disappearance of President Borusa, the High Council condemned him to the highest office – and he can’t evade his responsibilities a nanosecond longer…

So all hail the Lord High President! All hail President Doctor!

Rassilon save him. This time, there’s really no escape.

Written By: Eddie Robson
Directed By: Helen Goldwyn

Cast

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Sheri-An Davis (Castellan Lowri), Julie Teal (Chancellor Vorena), Michael Hobbs(Arcantis), Tim Scragg (Crex), Tim Sutton (Scandrius), Jenny Lee (Kasnegar). Other parts played by members of the cast.

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

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REVIEW – THE NIGHT WITCHES

Long time readers may remember that I lament the loss of the “pure historical” – and while I enjoy the pseudo historical and celebrity historical nothing really matches the drama of the pure historical from the first couple of Hartnell seasons. Even the sole Troughton entry into the historical sub-genre “The Highlanders” was more an amalgam of historical novels and folklore of the time rather than a true historical. This months release, the first in the fourth series of The Early Adventures redresses the balance somewhat and gives us a true Hartnell style “ordeal historical” and also educated me. so bring on “The Night Witches”….

 Featuring the season four TARDIS team of The Second Doctor (voiced superbly by Frazer Hines), Jamie (Frazer Hines), Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (the late Michael Craze being replaced by Elliot Chapman) sees the TARDIS heading for The Winter Palace at St Petersburg. Well, they get the right country but unfortunately the right time, our heroes find themselves just north of Stalingrad in 1942, not a great place to be – World War 2 is in full swing and the Germans are advancing. Rescuing a young Russian pilot Lilya Grankin (Kristina Buikaite) when her plane crashes the team are taken to the base of the fabled Night Witches, a crack team of female pilots who carry out silent night raids on the german lines and are very soon taken as German spies by the leader of the Night Witches Nadia Vasney (Wanda Opalinska) – and to top this all off Polly gets the shock of her life when the best pilot in The Night Witches Tatania Kregki (Anjella Mackintosh) is her double – Tatania can even mimic Polly’s voice as before the war she worked on stage as a mimic.

 So far all the ingredients are there for a classic historical – and unlike the more “larking about having fun” style stories that the Troughton era this goes back to the gritty ordeal style historical of the Hartnell era – the team are split up, forced to go through terrible experiences and are used as pawns in the war that the Night Witches are fighting against the Germans, in war even the good guys lose their morals in the pursuit of victory for a greater good.

 The story plays out as you would expect and the fact that Polly has a double is used as a plot point that really reminded me of The Enemy of the World, but the fact that the double is Polly who is separated from The Doctor for the majority of the story leave Anneke Wills as the star of the show and allows her to give us much more of the Polly that remained hidden in the few TV episodes that survive – Polly is brave and resourceful and plucky and really does have grace under pressure and an instinct to survive and do the right thing.

I also need to mention the rest of the regulars who really do knock it out of the park and the production, though set in the vast snowy wastes of Russia does feel claustrophobic and somehow “studio bound” close your eyes and you can probably see the fake snow and painted backdrops and filmed inserts – it is that authentic.

 A cracking start to a new series and a fab reboot of one of my favourite genres – a well deserved 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in September 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until October 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.

When the TARDIS materialises north of Stalingrad in 1942, the Doctor, Jamie, Ben and Polly are captured by the Night Witches, an all-female unit of flyers tasked with disrupting the German forces nearing Moscow.

They suspect that the travellers are spies – part of the Germans’ Operation Barbarossa. Despite their pleas they are locked up while it is decided what to do with them.

Polly, however, is receiving strange looks from the pilots and clearly unnerving them. When the TARDIS crew discover why this is, it becomes clear that they’re about to get far more involved in the war than they could possibly have imagined.

Written By: Roland Moore
Directed By: Helen Goldwyn

Cast

Anneke Wills (Polly Wright/Narrator), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon/The Doctor), Elliot Chapman (Ben Jackson), Anjella Mackintosh(Tatiana Kregki), Wanda Opalinska (Nadia Vasney), Kristina Buikaite (Lilya Grankin).

Other parts played by members of the cast.

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

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REVIEW – THE THIEF WHO STOLE TIME

When we left Romana (Lalla Ward) last month she was abandoned on the surface of the planet Funderell, abandoned by her erstwhile classmate Sartia (Joannah Tinsey) and left to die. It was the shock at the end of a rather uneventful first part of a season finale, but enough of a shock to make me want to hear more and find out how Romana fared – being one of my favourite companions it was upsetting to see her haughty, confidence picked apart from the bottom up by Sartia, to see what we as viewers see as charming quirks seen as negative spoiled brat arrogance and superiority is quite jarring – and the relationship between Romana and Sartia really does remain the high point of the story, in fact the story depends on it.

As I said last month this feels very “Bidmead” – all high concept sci-fi of the sort that I find incredibly dull. Sorry, but I just do I am much more of a Graham Williams man. However there is a very interesting story in this denouement and Tom Baker plays against the tone of the story to supply most of the laughs as he investigates the great book of Funderell and its relationship to the time-lords and any strange artefacts that may have been left behind. And there is a very strong story here its just swamped by whole stodginess of the production, it just seems a bit too worthy and po faced.

However not wanting to end on a downer, because no one likes a party pooper and this IS a season finale after all and I really don’t like it when I don’t enjoy one of Big Finish’s releases what this story is is an excellent vehicle for Lalla Ward, she shines, she excels – hearing her self doubt and witnessing her brought low and to the point of despair is new territory  for her, and in giving her her own arch enemy in Sartia then SURELY this can be seen as a back door pilot for a series of Romana in E-Space adventures? Because you really cant have enough of Romana the Second.

As a season finale the story comes together at the end with a satisfying pay off, there is even a very funny literary joke (you will groan) but overall the four parts seem a bit lacking focus and meandering 6/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson

Synopsis

This title was released in September 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until October 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.

A god has died. A crime has been committed. And an even greater threat lies beneath the surface.

On the ocean world of Funderell, Romana has been reunited with her old friend from Gallifrey, Sartia, and the Doctor is investigating the history and religion of this strange world. But events have quickly spiralled out of control.

Why is this planet of such interest to the Time Lords? What lurks in the depths?

The life of more than one world is at stake. But time is running out.

Note: This adventure continues from Doctor Who – The Fourth Doctor Adventures: The Skin of the Sleek

Written By: Marc Platt
Directed By: Ken Bentley

Cast

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), Joannah Tincey (Sartia), Alan Cox (Eamonn Orensky), Kieran Hodgson (Klick Chervain), Des McAleer (Blujaw Skaldson), Alex Wyndham (Linnis Skaldson), Jamie Newall (Greygul), Jane Slavin(Frithra), John Banks (The Sleek)

Other roles played by the cast.

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

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