Hello Sweetie

Big Finish has announced production of a new range of boxsets, featuring heroes and monsters from the recent era of Doctor Who, including River Song, the Judoon, the Sycorax and the Weeping Angels.

Big Finish Productions have been producing audio dramas based on the original Doctor Who series since 1999. However their access to characters from the post 2005 series has been restricted until now. In February it was announced that they had gained the rights to use characters from UNIT, and the latest deal expands their range further.

The new wave of adventures, due next year, will feature Alex Kingston as River Song, who first appeared in 2008’s Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. River will be stepping into the era of the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) for Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 2, alongside Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) and Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan).

Producer David Richardson says

The idea of River meeting previous Doctors was actually proposed by Steven Moffat, and it’s just irresistible, isn’t it? Alex embraced the idea of returning to the role, and so she will be starring in no less than two box sets next year. And yes, we are still pinching ourselves!

River will then return later in 2016 in Doctor Who: The Diary of River Song, an epic four-hour adventure that takes River across space and time, seeking out the secret rulers of the universe. Paul McGann will reprise the role of the Eighth Doctor in the final instalment.

The New Series adventures will continue in Doctor Who: The Churchill Years, in which Ian McNeice returns as the fromer British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In the four-hour saga, Churchill relates a number of encounters with the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors in his memoirs, battling alien incursions, metamorphosing creatures… and a Dalek! The stories are told by Ian McNeice, supported by a full cast of guest actors, including Danny Horn as Kazran Sardick, in a story taking place within the 2010 special A Christmas Carol.

Executive producer Nicholas Briggs says

Ian has played Churchill in just four episode on TV, and yet it feels like it was many more. It was such a brilliant, definitive performance, and how wonderful that we will be continuing Churchill’s adventures with the Doctor on audio.

Finally, the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors will face a new generation of monsters in Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters, a brand new, four-story run featuring creatures from the New Series. Peter Davison takes on the Weeping Angels, Colin Baker encounters the Judoon, Sylvester McCoy will meet the Sycorax… and Paul McGann will face a new clone batch of Sontarans on the edge of the Time War.

Executive Producer Jason Haigh-Ellery says

It’s the ultimate mash-up, and we have some great scripts lined up for these landmark stories. There is no doubt that 2016 is going to be a brilliant year for Big Finish!

All four boxsets will be released across 2016, and are available to pre-order.

Doom Coalition (Credit: Big FInish) New Monsters (Credit: Big FInish) The Churchill Years (Credit: Big FInish)

The Phantom Menace

Doctor Who The Underwater Menace

DWM Confirms Cancellation of The Underwater Menace DVD

You’ve probably noticed that Doctor Who Magazine #488 is out now, but if you haven’t read it yet you won’t have seen this unfortunate news. After months of speculation, the planned DVD release of The Underwater Menace, which was intended to have animated missing episodes, has been cancelled.

It was back in March that problems were highlighted with the release when Anneke Wills queried on Twitter about the release date for the DVD.

Underwater Menace DVD - Anneke Wills
But even in August 2014, Planet 55 – the company responsible for previous animated reconstructions – were forced to issue a statement denying their involvement with the project. And a few weeks before that, Restoration Team’s Steve Roberts suspected that the Doctor Who DVD range was dead, noting

“[W]e’re the team that remasters the episodes for DVD release and even we don’t have a clue what’s going on with TUM now. From where we’re standing, it’s looking like the range is dead.”

Following the discovery of the second episode of the serial, it seemed likely that a DVD release would feature the two remaining installments, and the BBC certainly confirmed this at the time. So what has gone wrong?

Someone who has been able to shed some light on this is Doctor Who Magazine editor Tom Spilsbury. Chatting with fans on Gallifrey Base, he indicated that the problem with the release was to do with finding an animation partner.

For what it’s worth, the overriding reason The Underwater Menace DVD hasn’t seen release is because BBC Worldwide has been unable to find a company that considers it financially viable to animate the two missing episodes. The previous animators either made a big loss on their previous Who projects, or have gone out of business altogether (partly because of making a big loss on such projects). As a result, BBC Worldwide has the two middle episodes of The Underwater Menace sitting on its shelves, with no realistic way to bridge the missing material. There’s a reluctance to just use telesnap recons or soundtracks, so the whole release has been cancelled. It’s a shame.

And while it seems likely that this is the end for the release (until such a time as it makes economical sense for a partner to get involved or the BBC decides to throw all of Season 4 onto a Blu-ray compilation disc) there remains some light at the end of the (time) tunnel. Spilsbury continues…

Funnily enough, Panini had a visit from someone at BBC Worldwide the other week, telling us a bit about the BBC Store, and asking if DWM could help promote it. They also asked my advise, wondering if there was any ‘unreleased’ Doctor Who that they could possibly utilise for the Store? I told them that the only existing episode not yet put out on DVD was The Underwater Menace Episode 2. I also said that in addition to UWM2, there are the two documentaries created for the abandoned DVD release, plus various other oddities (eg 2003’s The Story of Doctor Who, the full-length Confidentials etc). Anyway, they seemed very interested, and noted all this down, so you never know. Fingers crossed!

So, that seems like all but the end for The Underwater Menace‘s DVD release. And, perhaps, the end of the Omnirumour… until this changes, it’s worth noting that The Underwater Menace is available as an audiobook.

488

Doctor Who Magazine #488

dwm-488

In know nothing of this thing called cosplay…

7th Doctor on Panel

Nope. Not a thing….

:)

Cursed?

But first:
Doctor Who: Are Anniversary Specials Cursed?

“The Name of The Doctor”

In some sad news Sir John Hurt recently announced that he had been diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer. The veteran actor who portrayed the War Doctor in the 50th anniversary special “The Day of The Doctor” was optimistic when he made a statement about his condition on his Tumblr but even with early detection and treatment pancreatic cancer has only a 16 percent survival rate. Nonetheless, Hurt plans to keep working during treatment.

It’s got me wondering, though, if Doctor Who anniversary specials are cursed in some way. They often seem to be extremely hazardous to at least one of the Doctors who appear in them, and there are some rather odd parallels.

First there was “The Three Doctors”, which was the 10th anniversary special starring William Hartnell. Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. The First Doctor barely appears in the special. One of the reasons that Hartnell had left the role in the first place was his increasingly poor health due to arteriosclerosis and he had not improved in the subsequent years. Still, he desperately wanted to be a part of the show, and shot prerecorded segments to be shown over the Tardis scanner. His lack of physical appearance in the special was explained as being trapped in a time eddy by Omega, though he, Troughton and Pertwee did take promotional pictures in Hartnell’s garden.

“The Three Doctors” was the final role of Hartnell’s life. He died two years later at the age of 67.

Doctor Who: Are Anniversary Specials Cursed?

Promotional picture for “The Three Doctors”

Ten years later another anniversary special was shot, “The Five Doctors”. Hartnell was obviously unavailable to play the First Doctor, so he was recast with actor Richard Hurndall, thus far the only time an incarnation of The Doctor has been replaced with a new actor on television outside body doubles and cameos. The move was somewhat controversial; Whovians tend to treat the actors who play The Doctor with severe respect and replacing one outside of regeneration is not a popular idea. Still, Hurndall did a pretty marvelous job in the role especially considering the special is a pretty slapdash affair plotwise.

Playing the First Doctor in a multi-Doctor anniversary special was Hurndall’s second-to-last role. He died of a heart attack less than five months after “The Five Doctors” was broadcast. According to Elisabeth’s Sladen’s autobiography he never even lived to cash the check for playing the part.

Now we have the 50th anniversary and Hurt’s diagnosis. At least he’s not playing the First Doctor, right? Not so fast.

Doctor Who: Are Anniversary Specials Cursed?

“The Five Doctors”

In essence the War Doctor is a kind of new First Doctor. He is a retroactive incarnation that takes place before Christopher Eccleston became the Ninth Doctor and the first of the revived series. Beyond that, the War Doctor fulfills many of the attributes usually held by the First Doctor in multi-Doctor specials. He’s is gruff, easily angered, paternalistic and in general the wisest of the incarnations on screen.

Here’s another similarity. Hurndall didn’t just replace Hartnell in “The Five Doctors”, he also in a sense replaced Tom Baker. Baker refused to return to the part of the Fourth Doctor after only a two-year absence (all his appearances in the special are culled from the un-aired episode “Shada”), and as a result the First Doctor’s part was increased to make up for the lack of the Fourth.

Initially “The Day of The Doctor” was hoped to include Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, but Eccleston like Baker turned down the part and the War Doctor was created to make up for his lack of participation. Ironically, Baker would appear in person as a new incarnation of The Doctor called The Curator in the special and Eccleston would be seen only from previously shot footage. Still, in many ways “Day of The Doctor” and “The Five Doctors” are mirrors of each other, and in both cases the newest cast member soon found themselves either dead or very ill shortly afterwards.

Granted, in all three cases we are dealing with pretty old men. Hartnell, Hurndall and Hurt were all in their 70s when they were cast in anniversary Doctor roles, but Hurndall was still working regularly when he died as is Hurt right now. Neither was known to be sickly before appearing on Doctor Who.

Doctor Who: Are Anniversary Specials Cursed?

“The Day of The Doctor”

And there is one big flaw to the pattern I have to admit. The First Doctor actually was recast for “The Day of The Doctor”. All the Doctors appear in the climatic finale through use of stock footage and audio, but the First Doctor gets a new line he never said on the show when he appears, “Calling the War Council of Gallifrey, this is The Doctor”. Gallifrey hadn’t even been introduced to the series when Hartnell was playing the role, even in “The Three Doctors”.

That line was eventually revealed to be the work of voice actor John Guilor. Guilor is a talented impressionist known for playing Hartnell and Tom Baker in fan work. His First Doctor is so good he was picked to do an official audio recreation of lost episodes of “The Planet of the Giants” alongside original cast members William Russell and Carol Ann Ford for a DVD release, and then graduated to “The Day of The Doctor”. If the anniversary specials were cursed Guilor would be the most obvious candidate to be hexed, not Hurt, and yet Guilor seems to be just fine.

So maybe there’s no curse at all, and hopefully Hurt will recover and continue being awesome and Guilor will keep voicing the Doctors who are no longer with us in projects and we’ll get a 60th anniversary special in the magical-sounding year of 2023 and everyone will point and laugh at me for believing in something this silly for even a second. I hope so. Rassilon bless and protect you, War Doctor, we don’t want you to go. (Houston Press)

10 years and 4 days ago…

Continuing to look back at 10 years of NuWho…

It’s amazing to think that Doctor Who has been back on our TV screens for a decade now. It has changed the television landscape. It has changed people. It’s done some incredible things. For many – this writer included – Doctor Who has been a part of our lives for 10 years now and has changed the way we think, our aspirations, our futures. Speaking personally here, it made me rethink what I wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I enjoyed writing scripts when I was too young to know that screenwriting was a proper career. Doctor Who came on TV, and I realised I didn’t just want to write books and comics: I wanted to tell stories through the likes of the BBC.

But 10 years ago, all that could’ve ended. The Doctor was regenerating, and the show may have irredeemably lost its way.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Doctor Who has gone from strength to strength, fortunately. It’s one of – if not the – biggest brands on the BBC. Christopher Eccleston played a huge part in this. He was the face of the show. And for a while, we knew he was going, to be replaced from a cheeky young upstart from that Other RTD Show, Casanova.

Trailers. Trailer whetted out appetites for full-on TARDIS-Dalek battle scenes. Released slowly across that week. Before, we got a tale about reality TV warping the minds of the human empire. But then that Dalek was reflected in the wall and things changed. That ferocity shown in Dalek would be back. The Time War was seemingly pointless. Bad Wolf is 10 year and 1 week old now, and back in 2005, editor Christian Cawley was full of hope and admiration for a wonderful series:

“Christopher Eccleston’s acting ability has never been in question. However, while some questioned his choice of roles in the past, many were baffled by his accepting the lead role in Doctor Who. He has been nothing short of brilliant as the series build momentum, and is the template for future Doctors. His impact on the role has been remarkable, and David Tennant truly has a job as large as Pat Troughton’s in 1966 in taking over the lead part. The Doctor’s reaction to the apparent death of Rose was the saddest moment on television this year…

“When next we meet the Ninth Doctor, it may be for the last time. I said some weeks ago how The Doctor Dances had to match The Empty Child and have a good resolution to the cliffhanger. The same goes here. I don’t think I’m going to be disappointed by The Parting of the Ways – just very sorry to see a wonderful series come to an end.”

The Parting of the Ways - Daleks

And Christian pointed out a key component in Doctor Who‘s success: it’s continued relevance. Here, he notes, “Doctor Who embracing these reality formats is Doctor Who telling us that there are other things going on. Things that are hiding in shadows, always out of sight, pulling strings and shaping events. Reality television here is interpreted as a diversion, slight of hand, while the real power establishes itself.”

In other news, Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw have joined The X Factor.

So a lot was riding on the Ninth Doctor’s last regular appearance – and in the following review, Christian seemed rather pleased with how Russell T Davies scripted The Parting of the Ways, and how he brought the series back as a whole:

“Russell T Davies -and this is by no means to ignore the talents of other contributors to the series – succeeds in writing on two key levels. One is aimed at the populist, soap opera watching viewer tuning in for a glimpse of Billie Piper. The other is one that pulls mirrors out, points them at real life and the world at large, and demands that we question our position both in this world and the Universe. Davies succeeds in the same way that the much missed Robert Holmes succeeds.”

Doctor Who Series 1 - 9th Ninth Doctor Rose

But what of our TARDIS team? When one transforms into the Bad Wolf, the other has to sacrifice everything to save her – proving once and for all that this is the same man who fought the Master in California, gave his life up for Peri on Androzani, and stole a police box and ran away:

“Rose’s transformation into sexy vortex-goddess was outstanding, and touching. The Doctor’s departure (he was so good he got to say goodbye twice!) was breathtaking. I was convinced regeneration could not be achieved on a higher quality than the seventh one that gave us Paul McGann. I had myself believing we wouldn’t see a change, that Rose would leave in the TARDIS and come back to find a man claiming to be the Doctor. I was totally and utterly gobsmacked – having stayed away from the Internet since Wednesday – to see the stunning transformation.”

And we haven’t really seen the Ninth Doctor since. Oh sure, there were flashbacks, and that “for my next trick” moment in The Day of the Doctor (taken from Parting), but he’s sadly eluded our TV screens. Lots of dodgy rumours have circulated about him, but Eccleston is an amazing man. We owe him a lot. And he’s proud of being the Doctor.

As such, I’m going to leave you with this message he sent to the BFI in 2013, the 50th anniversary of our beloved show:

“I love the Doctor and hope you enjoy this presentation. Joe Ahearne directed five of the 13 episodes of the first series. He understood the tone the show needed completely – strong, bold, pacy visuals coupled with wit, warmth and a twinkle in the performances, missus.

“If Joe agrees to direct the 100th anniversary special, I will bring my sonic and a stair-lift and – providing the Daleks don’t bring theirs – I, the Ninth Doctor, vow to save the universe and all you apes in it.”

What memories do you have of watching Series 1 in 2005? What do you think of the Ninth Doctor in retrospect? And do you think he’ll ever return to the role, however briefly? Let us know below…! (kasterborous)

Sixxy

As usual, the first trailer for Series 9 is meaningless marketing tease.

Some friends of mine were over last night and we watched “Revelation of The Daleks”.

I haven’t seen this one quite a few years.

My impression of it has not changed. It’s Script Editor/Writer Eric Saward’s attempt to mash together Stanley Kubrick and Robert Holmes.

Recap: The Doctor and Peri arrive on Necros to attend the funeral of an old friend of the Doctor who has recently died. However, Tranquil Repose is not all it seems and an attempt is made on the Doctor’s life. Soon the Doctor comes face to face with the Great Healer, only to discover it is none other than Davros, the creator of the Daleks, intent on rebuilding the Dalek race decimated by the Movellans.

And he’s not entirely successful. He has the Holmesian style characters but they still lack a spark. And Davros using people rejected for being Daleks as a protein source for the starving masses is very Soylent Green.

It’s not a bad episode (despite what one of my friends said), it’s just there yet. This was a problem with many of Colin’s scripts which is why if you want a real picture of “sixxy” as Colin calls him you need to go the Big Finish Audios where the Sixth Doctor has thrived under different management.

“The Unholy Terror” with The Sixth Doctor and Frobisher (shape changing penquin from Docgtor Who Magazine’s comic strip) is a beautiful thing.

Wanna see Sixxy and Holmes, watch “The Two Doctors” or “The Mysterious Planet” (Trial of a Time Lord 1-4).

I encourage people to revisit old episodes. They may or may not be the same as you remember it.

Monsters

What is more essential (pun intended) than the Monsters in Doctor Who? :)

The latest of the “Essential” special edition magazines from the makers of Doctor Who Magazine has been published, focusing on the monsters of the series.

The Essential Doctor Who: Monsters (Credit: Doctor Who Magazine)
Issue 5 of Panini’s The Essential Doctor Who comprises 116 pages of all-new material exploring the dark side of the series…

Horror has been Doctor Who’s most consistent genre since the Daleks first threatened viewers in 1963. The metal-cased mutants are still notorious, but the programme’s shadows are occupied by many equally grotesque and disturbing creatures.

This is a comprehensive guide to the monsters that have been haunting our nightmares for more than 50 years. Everything from the Abzorbaloff to Zygons is covered in a richly illustrated, encyclopaedic format.

Says editor Marcus Hearn:

When I was a kid I wished for a book that included all the Doctor Who monsters. Now I’m a grown-up my ambitions haven’t really changed. It’s been a labour of love for all of us to channel the spirit of Terrance Dicks’ Doctor Who Monster Book, and a treat to add so many aliens from the show’s now greatly expanded universe.
Coming in October:
Previously out (amongst others):

Doctor Who: The Secret Lives of Monsters

Matt Smith Coming to Netflix

A cast of well-known actors will get the royal treatment in a new Netflix political drama, The Crown.

Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith will portray Philip Mountbatten, the Duke of Edinburgh, the streaming service announced Thursday. The British drama also will feature Third Rock from the Sun’s John Lithgow as Sir Winston Churchill and Claire Foy of PBS’ Wolf Hall as Queen Elizabeth II.

The show, set in the years after World War II, follows the power struggle between Britain’s royal and political addresses: Buckingham Palace vs. 10 Downing St. The 10-episode season will look at love, lies and the dynamic relationship between the Crown and prime ministers that shaped the country in the post-war years, the Netflix announcement says.

The Crown is inspired by the award-winning West End and Broadway play The Audience, and follows the story of Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne and her relationships with the various prime ministers over the years.

Tennant 10 years

Yup, you can check the year, the calendars, and your phone all you like but it’s true. It’s now TEN years since David Tennant became The Tenth Doctor.

In 2005 he took over from the fantastic Christopher Eccleston and took the show to new heights with companions like Billie Piper and Catherine Tate.

Now do you think time is moving fast and boy are we getting older… :)

Exactly a decade ago today, the BBC announced that a Scottish actor called David Tennant would be playing the Tenth Doctor! It was quickly established that he was a huge fan of the show and had even narrated BBC One’s ‘Doctor Who: A New Dimension’ which aired immediately before the programme returned in March, 2005.

Viewers had to wait a further two months before he made his debut as the Doctor, appearing briefly in The Parting of the Ways, but on 16th April, 2005 a new era was signalled – David Tennant and the Tenth Doctor were coming… Here’s the text of the original press release that made the announcement:

David Tennant confirmed as the tenth Doctor Who

David Tennant is confirmed as the tenth Doctor Who, it was announced today by Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, following the recommissioning of the second series.

Tennant, whose recent credits include BBC THREE’s critically-acclaimed drama series Casanova, BBC ONE’s Blackpool and He Knew He Was Right, will star alongside Billie Piper who returns as Rose Tyler.

Julie Gardner, BBC Head of Drama, Wales says: “Christopher Eccleston has given an exceptional performance as the ninth Doctor.

“David Tennant is a great actor who will build on the excellent work already done by Christopher in establishing Doctor Who for a new generation.”

David Tennant says: “I am delighted, excited and honoured to be the tenth Doctor!

“I grew up loving Doctor Who and it has been a lifelong dream to get my very own TARDIS.

“Russell T Davies is one of the best writers television has ever had, and I’m chuffed to bits to get the opportunity to work with him again.

“I’m also really looking forward to working with Billie Piper who is so great as Rose.

“Taking over from Chris is a daunting prospect; he has done a fantastic job of reinventing the Doctor for a new generation and is a very tough act to follow.”

Executive producer/writer Russell T Davies adds: “Christopher Eccelston’s wonderful Doctor has reinvented the role, so that it now appeals to the best actors in the land.

“I’m already writing David’s first new adventure on board the TARDIS!

“Regeneration is a huge part of the programme’s mythology, and I’m delighted that new, young viewers can now have the complete Doctor Who experience, as they witness their hero change his face!”

John Hurt

Sir John Hurt has revealed he has been diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer. In a statement released to the Press Association, he said:

I have always been open about the way in which I conduct my life and in that spirit I would like to make a statement.

I have recently been diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer. I am undergoing treatment and am more than optimistic about a satisfactory outcome, as indeed is the medical team.

I am continuing to focus on my professional commitments and will shortly be recording “Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell” (one of life’s small ironies!) for Radio 4

Alex Ford, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK, the only national charity fighting pancreatic cancer, said:

We were deeply saddened to learn of Sir John Hurt’s recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer – but eternally grateful for his openness in talking about the disease and his treatment. This can only help raise much needed awareness of pancreatic cancer and the importance of early diagnosis. Importantly, John Hurt’s attitude and optimism will provide hope for many others affected by this disease. We wish him the best with his treatment.
John Hurt was awarded a Knighthood for his services to drama in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

If you wish to make a donation to the charity, you can do so at pancreaticcancer.org.uk/donate.

In The US: http://www.npcf.us/donate/

Australia: http://www.pancreaticcancer.net.au/donate

My Best wishes as well.

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