Thursday, 21 September 2017

Alex Kingston returns to Big Finish for more River Song adventures

Big Finish has announced today that actress Alex Kingston will be once more reprising her role as River Song for a third series of audio dramas.

Having already encountered the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann), and the Seventh and Sixth Doctors (Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker, respectively), the latest series of The Diary of River Song will see River joined by Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor.

The pair are set to come across a familiar adversary, with the two facing off against the sinister Madame Kovarian, played by Frances Barber. As revealed in the sixth series of Doctor Who, Kovarian kidnapped River Song's mother - Eleventh Doctor companion Amy Pond - in order to take and raise River to kill the Doctor, although her villainous plans were ultimately thwarted in 2011's The Wedding of River Song.

Producer David Richardson says of the latest series:
“River has been on a journey through the lives of past Doctors, and in Series Three, she meets the Fifth Doctor (having encountered his Sixth and Seventh incarnations in Series Two, and the Eighth in Series One). So what a treat to throw Madame Kovarian into the mix too, and have Alex, Peter and Frances working together in studio. There was, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear, much joy and laughter between takes.”
The Diary of River Song Series 03 will comprise four brand-new River Song adventures:

3.1 The Lady in the Lake by Nev Fountain
3.2 A Requiem for the Doctor by Jac Rayner
3.3 My Dinner With Andrew by John Dorney
3.4 The Furies by Matt Fitton

The Diary of River Song Series 03 will be released in January 2018, and is now available to pre-order from Big Finish at £23 on CD and £20 on download, with a download exclusive available for all CD purchases via the Big Finish app.

[Source: Big Finish]
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Doctor Who Magazine #517 out today

The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine is out today, and this month celebrates 30 years of Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor.

The magazine features an exclusive in-depth interview with McCoy, who reflects on his time in the iconic role.

Speaking on how he approached taking on Doctor Who alongside fellow newcomer, script editor Andrew Cartmel, McCoy says:
“And so we both went in and we started from the beginning. A lot of people didn’t like that. But then we didn’t know that we were breaking rules. And I think we were also blessed by the fact that we didn’t have all that baggage of the past to get in the way…

"Steven Moffat said to me that we changed it... that we turned it into something that is reflected in the present, in the twenty-first-century Doctors. I remember when he said that to me, I thought, ‘Wow! I mean that wasn’t the intention.’”
This month's issue also includes a tribute to the late actress Deborah Watling, who played the Second Doctor's companion Victoria from 1967 to 1978. Included in the magazine are remembrances from Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Frazer Hines, as well as a previously unpublished interview with Watling from 1990.

As well as the usual news, previews, reviews and competitions, this month's issue of Doctor Who Magazine also features:
  • Victor Pemberton Tribute: Remembering the late Doctor Who writer and story editor Victor Pemberton.
  • Gail Bennett: An interview with original American Doctor Who superfan Gail Bennett.
  • Fury From The Deep:  This month’s Fact of Fiction explores 1968’s Fury from the Deep, the last story to feature Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield.
  • The Parliament Of Fear: Part Three of our brand-new comic strip adventure, The Parliament of Fear, featuring the Doctor and Bill; written by Scott Gray and illustrated by Mike Collins.
  • Dominic Glynn: The composer recalls writing and recording the score for 1989’s Survival.
  • The Time Team: The Time Team continues its mission to watch every episode of Doctor Who with 2012’s The Doctor’s Wife.
Doctor Who Magazine #517 is on sale from today, Thursday 21st September, priced £5.99.

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Suzanne says… Sean Pertwee shouldn’t play the Third Doctor!

The other day I was catching up on some Gotham episodes I had missed, when a familiar face appeared on the screen. I wasn’t prepared to see Missy in Gotham and yet there she was, as perfectly villainous as she use(d) to be in Doctor Who. Suddenly, I wasn’t watching Gotham anymore; I was watching an alternate version of Doctor Who. It wasn’t Alfred who was chased in a rubbish tip, it was the Doctor, and his pursuer wasn’t Tabitha but the Rani.

How did I come to this fantasy, you might wonder? It’s quite easy really. Michelle Gomez’ character in Gotham triggered it. The Lady has a lot in common with Missy, from the way she dresses to the way she speaks and behaves, and I can’t help but wonder to which extend an actor (or in this case an actress) can feel trapped in a certain role. While Missy certainly had an influence on Michelle Gomez’ acting, it’s quite troubling to see her in a rather similar role. It’s even worse if you consider the timeline: The Lady appeared in 2015, when the actress was already playing Missy in Doctor Who.

Speaking about influence, it makes me wonder just how I have been influenced by Doctor Who since I can’t help but see similarities where a non Whovian wouldn’t see anything but a villain...

Since we are on the topic, let’s take a look at Sean Pertwee. When I first started to watch “Gotham”, I was aware that he was in the show. Thanks to social media and Whovian communities, I was already warned that he looked a lot like his late father, Jon Pertwee. And he certainly does look and sound a lot like him, but I was too busy struggling to understand him (his accent and his expressions are quite the challenge for a foreigner like myself!) to play a game of “let’s compare him to the Third Doctor”.

But then, when I incidentally saw Missy instead of The Lady, I recalled some articles and discussions spotted in Whovians communities. The idea of Sean Pertwee getting a role in Doctor Who is as romantic as seeing Peter Capaldi, a long time Whovian, becoming the Twelfth Doctor. So yes, who wouldn’t want to see Jon Pertwee’s son involved in Doctor Who?

But as tempting as this sounds; is it really such a good idea?

When I imagined a reboot of Classic Who in a previous article, I could easily picture David Bradley take over William Hartnell’s role and give life to the First Doctor in the missing episodes. But I can hardly see Sean Pertwee becoming the Third Doctor should a classic era reboot happen. In fact, I can hardly see him play the Third Doctor, period. Whovians would probably love it for nostalgia’ sake: father and son reunited 45 years later in the same role. But take a step back and think of the consequences. How fast do you think people are going to compare the two versions of the Third Doctor? How long until both versions of the character are scrutinised? When David Bradley became the First Doctor, he also impersonated William Hartnell, because it was for a documentary. He wasn’t meant to become the First Doctor, he was there to pay a tribute (sort of). The fact that he was chosen to play the First Doctor in the coming Christmas Special is a happy consequence because he was stunning in An Adventure in Space and Time. Sadly, the same wouldn’t apply to Sean Pertwee because he will always be Jon Pertwee’ son. So, for nostalgia’ sake, I hope he doesn’t ever get to impersonate the Third Doctor... well, at least not on screen.

That being said, for nostalgia’ sake, I really hope Sean Pertwee gets a role in Doctor Who one day. In fact, he would be a great companion! Try to imagine the Doctor’s surprise when he discovers the face he wore during his third incarnation. In “The girl who died”, the Twelfth Doctor remembers the face he is now wearing, which proves that the Doctor’s face bears meaning. It’s not random, he doesn’t choose, his face is a part of him, a part of his personal history. So, with that in mind, the Doctor meets Sean Pertwee’s character, realises that the man is his third incarnation’s face and you get material for quite an interesting storyline.

So yes, by all means, let us have Sean Pertwee in Doctor Who, but maybe just as a sidekick to a different justice-seeking hero.
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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time synopsis revelaed

The official synopsis for this year's Christmas Special, Twice Upon a Time, has been revealed on the BBC Store’s listing for the episode’s DVD and Blu-ray release.
Two Doctors stranded in a forbidding snowscape, refusing to face regeneration. And a British army captain seemingly destined to die in the First World War, but taken from the trenches to play his part in the Doctor’s story. This is the magical last chapter in the Twelfth Doctor’s epic adventure. He must face his past to decide his future. And the Doctor will realise the resilience of humanity, discovering hope in his darkest frozen moment. It’s the end of an era. But the Doctor’s journey is only just beginning.
It seems like exciting times lie ahead, but exactly what we will find out on Christmas day.
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Suzanne says… it’s just a name!

Every Whovian knows it by now, a major change is happening in Doctor Who. Our beloved Time Lord is turning into a Time Lady in the next series. One interesting fact about this would be that it raises an equally interesting question: how are we going to call the Doctor from now on?

For decades, the Doctor was referred to as “he”. Logic dictates that 13 should be referred to as “she”, because this is the obvious choice (and because it would only be fair!). But what happens if we want to talk (or write) about the Doctor in a more general way? Is the Doctor still a “he” if we consider that all “his” previous incarnations were men? Does the Doctor become a “she” because “her” latest incarnation takes precedence over the previous ones? Or should we now refer to the Doctor as “it” because let’s not forget that “it” is an alien life-form and therefore its gender distinction doesn’t work the same way as the Earthlings’?

Tricky question that might be answered when Season 11 starts. I’m quite curious to see how Chris Chibnall and his team are going to deal with this issue.

But this question raises another one that has been in each and every Whovian’s mind since the show was aired for the first time. What is the Doctor’s name? And why does everyone consider it normal for him to be simply called “the Doctor”? Even Barbara and Ian seem to drop the topic very quickly in An Unearthly Child.
IAN: Just open the doors, Doctor Foreman.
DOCTOR: Eh? Doctor who? What's he talking about?
To their defence, they have quite a lot to think about as they just got abducted and brought into an impossible place, a.k.a. the Tardis.

The mystery of the Doctor’s name comes up once in a while but strangely enough, people tend to easily accept the fact that the Time Lord only gets by the name “The Doctor”. Funnily enough, the same applies to the Master but this can be explained because he is a Time Lord too. For those who are familiar with the Doctor, it’s obvious that the Master wouldn’t have your average Alfred, Bruce or Jim name and that – being the bad guy – he would choose something a bit more catchy.

The Doctor’s name becomes a proper issue during Steven Moffat’s era and one can feel the showrunner’s desire to reveal the greatest secret of all on multiple occasions, before giving up and keeping the mystery (almost) intact. Speaking of the Doctor’s name, I’d advise you to read this excellent article from RadioTimes.

The argument about the Doctor’s name is quite interesting as it points to another issue: the fact that the show is named Doctor Who, which should refer to the main character’s name, while in fact it doesn’t; and yet the creative team uses it to name said character in the scripts! It seems that the Doctor’s name leads to a certain amount of confusion while being a mystery at the same time!

If you ask me, I don’t want to know the Doctor’s name. I like it to be an excuse for a regular joke just like the whole “it’s bigger on the inside” reaction whenever a new character discovers the TARDIS for the first time. It is part of the show, it’s a bit of a recurrent cliché, but it makes me smile all the same each time. Imagine if you knew the Doctor’s name. What good would it do you? It would simply ruin a 54 years old mystery, bringing it down to one name and then what? Nothing. The excitement would last for one episode, maybe two and then it would be history. Worse, from this point on, everyone will forget what a great mystery the Doctor’s name was… and that would just be a shame.

I’d rather keep calling him (or her) Doctor…who?
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Friday, 15 September 2017

David Bradley to star in Big Finish's The First Doctor Adventures

Big Finish has announced today that David Bradley will be starring as the First Doctor in a new range of audio dramas to be released in the New Year.

The First Doctor Adventures will see Bradley reprise his role as the First Doctor following his appearance alongside current Doctor Peter Capaldi in this year's Doctor Who Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time. Bradley is no stranger to the world of Doctor Who; the actor appeared opposite Matt Smith's Doctor as sinister trader Solomon in 2012's Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, before surprising viewers earlier this year with a special cameo as the First Doctor in Series 10 finale The Doctor Falls.

Paying homage to the earliest days of Doctor Who, the new range of First Doctor dramas will see Bradley joined by his co-stars from An Adventure in Space and Time, in which Bradley starred as the First Doctor's original portrayer, William Hartnell. Reprising their roles as the original TARDIS team from the docudrama will be Jamie Glover as Ian Chesterton, Jemma Powell as Barbara Wright and Claudia Grant as the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan Foreman. Also joining the cast is James Dreyfus as the First Doctor is set to encounter the first incarnation of his greatest foe, the Master.

Executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery says:
“I’ve always been a great admirer of David Bradley’s work, and thought that he was an excellent choice to play William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time. After his brilliant performance, we immediately thought about bringing David in to play the First Doctor for Big Finish – it took us a while – but we got there in the end! I’m so looking forward to seeing David in the Christmas Special and then listening to his further adventures with us.”
Executive producer Nicholas Briggs says:
"Having worked with David twice now on TV, it’s great to be working with him again. Matt and his team of writers have come up with such a beautifully authentic set of scripts. We forget how different Doctor Who was, back in those early days – and here it all is, painstakingly recreated. I find that rather thrilling."

"What's fascinating about the cast and their performances is that they're not impersonating William Hartnell and his TARDIS crew. They're playing those parts as written in the scripts. No one can replace the brilliance of those original performances. What we're presenting here is a kind of reinvention of that era, completely in the spirit of the original. They are new but entirely faithful interpretations of these characters."
Script editor and writer Matt Fitton says:
“The adventures of the First Doctor are all about discovery, finding out what this infinite universe contains, and also who our fellow travellers are. As we journey with Ian, Barbara, Susan and the mysterious Doctor, we come to see what they are capable of when confronted with the strange, the unjust and the dangerous.”
The First Doctor Adventures - Volume 1, out in January 2018, will consist of two four-part stories:

1.1 The Destination Wars by Matt Fitton
1.2 The Great White Hurricane by Guy Adams

The First Doctor Adventures - Volume 2 will follow in July 2018, also with two four-part adventures:

2.1 The Invention of Death by John Dorney
2.2 The Barbarians and the Samurai by Andrew Smith

Volume 1 is now available to pre-order from Big Finish at £23 on CD or £20 on download from Big Finish and will remain at this price until general release, when it will be available for £35 on CD or £30 on download. Volumes 1 and 2 can also be purchased as a bundle for £45 on CD and £40 on download.

[Source: Big Finish]
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Monday, 11 September 2017

New book based on a long lost Douglas Adams adventure!

The works of Douglas Adams has delighted fans in recent years, with novelised versions of his episodes, including fan favourite City of Death and the legendary unfinished episode Shada. Now Douglas Adams fans can rejoice, as he's back with a brand new episode!

Doctor Who and The Krikkitmen is a long lost story Doctor Who story featuring the Fourth Doctor and Romana that was sadly never made into an episode or novel.
However, thanks to a recently discovered treatment and collection of extensive notes, the story has now been written by James Goss - the man behind the novelisations of other Douglas Adams episodes City of Death and The Pirate Planet.
Intergalactic war? That’s just not cricket ... or is it?

The Doctor promised Romana the end of the universe, so she’s less than impressed when what she gets is a cricket match. But play is soon interrupted by eleven figures in white uniforms and peaked skull helmets, wielding bat-shaped weapons that fire lethal bolts of light into the screaming crowd.

The Krikkitmen are back.

Millions of years ago, the people of Krikkit learned they were not alone in the universe, and promptly launched a xenophobic crusade to wipe out all other life-forms. After a long and bloody conflict, the Time Lords imprisoned Krikkit within an envelope of Slow Time, a prison that could only be opened with the Wicket Gate key, a device that resembles – to human eyes, at least – an oversized set of cricket stumps...

From Earth to Gallifrey, from Bethselamin to Devalin, from Krikkit to Mareeve II to the far edge of infinity, the Doctor and Romana are tugged into a pan-galactic conga with fate as they rush to stop the Krikkitmen gaining all five pieces of the key. If they fail, the entire cosmos faces a fiery retribution that will leave nothing but ashes...
Doctor Who and The Krikkitmen is available to pre-order now from Amazon here and is due to be released on 18th January 2018.
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Thursday, 7 September 2017

Confirmed: Class is cancelled

The BBC's most recent Doctor Who spinoff was a bit of a disappointment and for a while it's been uncertain whether Class would return for a second series.

It has now been confirmed by BBC Three controller Damian Kavanagh that Class will not be returning. Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild event, Kavanagh said: 
"No, [we're not bringing it back]. There was nothing wrong with it – I thought Patrick did a great job, he explored an amazing world.

In honesty, it just didn't really land for us on BBC Three. Things sometimes don't, and I've got to make decisions about what we're going to do from a drama point of view.

There's always times when you do something and you have to decide that it's not going to come back. Class is just one of those things."
Patrick Ness had already announced that he would not be writing any more of Class, even if it was renewed for a second series. However, Greg Austin, who played Charlie, had said that there was more potential in the show, with a lot of development for the characters.

Sadly we'll never get to see what happened to them, but somehow I can't see the fans being too upset about that.

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Suzanne says… do we want another spin off?

Isn’t it tempting to imagine spin offs from your favourite shows starring your favourite characters? Doctor Who has certainly done that in the past, but not all have been successful.

I confess I love spin offs, for various reasons. First, because I can enjoy another part of an universe I enjoy. Second, because said universe is growing thanks to the spin off. Telling stories from a different perspective or angle can be a clever way to refresh a franchise, get fans to be hooked again as well as gain a new audience.

While one of the eldest spin offs on television is dated 1941, the first Doctor Who spin off only happened in 1981, 18 years after Doctor Who was aired for the first time and as of 2007 Doctor Who is officially the show with the most spun off media, with nine in total.

It is not surprising, considering the depth of the Whoniverse, if you ask me. The beauty of a spin off is that it’s your favourite series while it isn’t at the same time. Talk about an identity crisis! Let’s take Torchwood for instance. It features Captain Jack Harkness, who was one of the Doctor’s companions that got his own series - pretty much like Sarah Jane and K9. A companion getting his own series? This is proper Doctor Who material, when in fact... it isn’t. Torchwood is not for every audience. It was aimed to a more adult audience which means that it’s not Doctor Who after all. In fact, I’d rather say, spin offs in Doctor Who introduce a proper notion of layers in both the universe and the stories. And that’s probably another thing I like so much about the series: its endless possibilities. Think about it, there is material for pretty much any spin off you can imagine.
  • You love doctors and hospital shows? Why not follow Nyssa’s adventures as she helps out finding a cure for Lazar’s disease?
  • You prefer epic space battles? Then you will love the Sontarans!
  • If you like military series best, then you should try UNIT adventures.
  • Care for some romance? Then why not see what happens to Amy and Rory after the Weeping angels got them back?
  • If you enjoy conspiracies and mastermind games, follow The Master’s attempts to conquer the universe (and the galaxy).
I could go on for pages, listing (and imagining) all possibilities and I suspect that Big Finish did exactly that, listing all potential ideas, before rolling a few dices to decide which story they should tell first!

It's not always easy to get a spinoff right. Just ask K9. His first attempt, K9 and Company, never made it past the 50 minute pilot episode, while his later solo series, K9, only lasted for one series. However, his mistress, Sarah Jane, was considerably more successful, with The Sarah Jane Adventures running for 5 series.

Big Finish has been exploring the Whoniverse for years, expanding storylines with a range of familiar characters to great success. Meanwhile, the BBC recently chose to develop a new spin off: Class.

If, like me, you enjoyed Torchwood, then you probably got excited about a new spin off that seemed very promising. While previous spin offs featured characters/aliens from Doctor Who, Class was taking place in a famous location from the Whoniverse: Coal Hill (formerly school, now academy). My mind was filled with memories such as Susan enjoying lessons from Ian and Barbara, and I eagerly watched the first episode, admiring the photography and the way it was filmed. Seeing the Twelfth Doctor make an appearance was overwhelming as (like any Whovian) I had been craving for some Doctor Who. But then, I came back to my senses and examined that spin off with a more critical mind. I honestly tried to give it a chance and watched the whole season, teeth clenched as I was desperately trying to find something that would make me enjoy it. I failed to see a Doctor Who layer in Class. The spin off was obviously aimed at a younger audience who enjoy special effects and gore, but I couldn’t feel the Whoniverse spirit. In fact, I even started to wonder if that particular spin off would have any effect as to bring a younger audience to watch Doctor Who. I pretty much doubt it. And therefore I’m now wondering if the BBC is able to create an appealing spin off. I’m not surprised that Torchwood is about to be revived on audio, because let’s face it, except for that sad 4th season, Torchwood is Doctor Who material... and not just because we got Peter Capaldi playing in Children of Earth!)

So… should we get another spin off? I say, why not. Not only because I love the idea of a spin off exploring another layer of the Whoniverse (I’m one hopeless optimist), but also because I hope that the creative team is still capable of coming up with an idea as powerful as Children of Earth was. If not, then by all means, let Big Finish become an inspiration.

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Thursday, 31 August 2017

New Eighth Doctor Time War audio dramas out this autumn

This autumn sees the start of a brand new audio series from Big Finish, starring Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor during the days of the epic Time War.

Out this October, The Time War acts as a prequel to Big Finish's Doctor Who: The War Doctor series starring Sir John Hurt, and sees how the Eighth Doctor survived during the Time War prior to the events of 2013's 50th anniversary mini-episode The Night of The Doctor.

The new audio series will see the Eighth Doctor joined by new companion Bliss (Rakhee Thakrar) in four new stories from writers John Dorney and Matt Fitton:

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.
Writer Matt Fitton says of the new series:
“How exciting to go back in time, before the War Doctor, before that fateful Night on Karn - to see the Eighth Doctor doing all he can to stay out of a conflict raging across time. But inexorably, inevitably, he's dragged towards it - forced to confront unpalatable truths about his people and what they've become, learning new things about an enemy he thinks he knows - all the while trying to save the innocents. We've a brilliant cast of allies and enemies, and an exciting journey planned as this Doctor makes a last stand for his values in a universe at war."
The Eighth Doctor: The Time War Series 1 is now available to pre-order from Big Finish on CD and digital download ahead of its October release.

[Source: Big Finish]
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