Last Chance to See

Cardiff’s Doctor Who Experience will close in September – but it’s going out with a bang

Cardiff’s Doctor Who Experience will close in September - but it's going out with a bang

By Huw Fullerton

Wednesday 14 June 2017 at 11:14AM

Despite the petitioning of some fans, after five years interactive props and costumes exhibition The Doctor Who Experience is set to close its doors in Cardiff.

And now it has been announced that the popular attraction will end for good on 9th September, with the shutdown taking place after the building’s sub-lease from the City of Cardiff Council expires this summer.

Still, desolate fans hankering for a glimpse at Jon Pertwee’s frilly shirt will have a few months to check out the exhibition for the last time, with a busy programme of events planned for the Experience’s final months.

Special events will include the return of Filming Walking Tours around Doctor Who shooting locations past and present, the restoration of classic series foe the Yeti by Model Unit expert Mike Tucker, a Cyberman-themed Monster Event packed with workshops, Q&As and the chance to become a Cyberman, as well as a Cosplay Celebration that will encourage fans to come to the Experience dressed as their favourite Doctor Who character or monster.

And the coming months will also see some additions to the Experience itself, with new series costumes and props from the current series becoming part of the exhibition from 8th July (around a week after the series finishes airing on TV).

There are also apparently some hopes that Doctor Who tours and similar activities could still take place after the exhibition closes, though at the moment such ideas are only in the planning stages.

So it sounds like while the DWE’s closure is bound to be a sad day for Doctor Who fans everywhere, the exhibition is at least going out with a bit of a bang. We’re sure the Doctor would approve.

For full details of the Doctor Who Experience’s upcoming programme of events, visit doctorwhoexperience.com

ICE WARRIORS @ 50

This November is the official 50th Anniversary of another great Classic Who monster that just returned again last week, The Ice Warriors.

Evolution of the Ice Warriors

The Martians. Reptilian humanoid cyborgs. Commonly referred to as ‘Ice Warriors’. They have proved to be a popular creation that celebrates 50 years onscreen this year. But how has the visual design of these creatures changed over the years?

Concept

Anglo-Saxon helmet excavated from Sutton Hoo (c) The British Museum

Writer Brian Hayles envisaged a reptilian biped from Mars in his script. Over the course of a few episodes the appearance of these new creatures would evolve. Occasionally it would differ from one scene to the next. Whilst the scaly body costume pieces would remain constant, the headpieces changed significantly. Hayles suggested that the headpiece should resemble an Anglo-Saxon helmet such as that discovered during the excavation of the Sutton Hoo ship burial. The first few shots of the warrior, thought to be of Tony Harwood’s empty suit, were of it still within the ice and so it cannot be seen clearly. As the first episode reaches a conclusion the creature within the ice begins to twitch into life once again. It provides us with a good look at the initial Ice Warrior design.

Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors (c) BBC

Creation

Towards the end of the first episode the creature within the ice begins to stir. Viewers saw the clamp-like hands, looking a little rubbery admittedly, before seeing the headpiece. This closeup shot shows a very different headpiece to what we now identify as an Ice Warrior. Unlike later helmets the chin was entirely exposed. Instead the helmet dropped over the nose of actor Tony Harwood. Below that was a scaly mouth prosthetic with hair protruding from beneath the helmet. This shape is very similar to that of the Sutton Hoo helmet.

Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors – Turoc (Sonny Caldinez) (c) BBC

Two of this style of helmet were created for initial filming at Ealing Film studios. Whilst one was worn by Harwood, playing Varga defrosting from the ice, another was worn by Sonny Caldinez. Scenes with Caldinez, playing Turoc, pursuing Victoria through the ice caves were recorded for insertion into the fourth instalment of the story. These two helmets, with an exposed chin and protruding hair, were large and proved impractical. Harwood and Caldinez had limited head movement, able only to see directly ahead. They also complained of problems in the crotch area of the costume. After filming concluded at Ealing, modifications were requested before production continued in Lime Grove.

Reimagined

Ice Warriors - Doctor Who (c) BBC
Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors – Zondal and Varga (c) BBC

Conscious that guest actor Bernard Breslaw would take over the role of Varga, a smaller, slimmer helmet was requested. This provided him the ability to turn his head and hopefully make the experience more enjoyable than the larger helmet would allow. Breslaw also had a large amount of dialogue, which ultimately he prerecorded and mimed to, which saw these new slimmer helmets fitted with a defined jaw within the helmet. Instead of a curved edge below the nose, a horizontal opening was seen above the lips. A second of these helmets was also requested for Zondal, another Ice Warrior with dialogue, who featured in the story played by Roy Jones. This slimmer helmet design has since become the image of the Ice Warriors which is now associated by Doctor Who fans.

Brian Hayles with two of his Ice Warrior creations

Modifications

To match Varga and Zondal the two original helmets were modified, although the size difference remained obvious. Whilst Turoc is thought to have been seen trapped in the ice during the cliffhanger of episode two it is difficult to tell what, if any, modifications occurred because the footage no longer exists. As Turoc’s other scenes had already been pre-recorded at Ealing this warrior may not have had a jaw fitted to the helmet. It may also have been disposed of after filming concluded as it no longer matched the remaining Ice Warriors. Tony Harwood’s warrior now became Rintan. His helmet was definitely modified with the new jaw piece added but looked a little slapdash. In the last episode Rintan’s helmet can also be compared to a fifth warrior helmet.

Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors (c) BBC

Isbur was an odd combination of the two styles, a large head but with a fixed chin that appears neater and less slapdash than Rintan’s. Looking closely at the footage it does appear like the helmet was constructed as a single piece with the jaw already attached and not added later. Perhaps the jaw was simply fitted more accurately? However the opening for the mouth appears smaller within the helmet, with the curvature less deep than on Varga and Zondal. The two large-headed warriors, Rintan and Isbur, can be clearly identified because of the bigger head and smaller mouths. After filming was completed the Ice Warrior costumes were put in the Ealing storage facility for a potential return.

The Seeds of Death

Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death – Ice Warriors and The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) (c) BBC

The Ice Warriors proved popular and returned swiftly to Doctor Who. Bobbi Bartlett examined the costumes in Ealing. Picking up an Ice Warrior leg she was startled by a rat living inside it! The available costumes were cleaned and resprayed once they had been sent to the wardrobe department. Three actors were hired to play the role of Ice Warriors, Steve Peters and the returning duo of Sonny Caldinez and Tony Harwood. All three donned the slimmer head design, reinforcing that look as the standard appearance of Martian Ice Warriors. As only two had been constructed for Varga and Zondal in ‘The Ice Warriors’ this suggests that a third head, at least, was prepared for the production.

Lord and Marshal

Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death – Slaar, the Ice Lord (c) BBC

This story also saw the introduction of a sleeker Martian, generally called an Ice Lord. The helmet for this creature, with the exposed chin beneath, was much closer to the intended Anglo-Saxon inspired design seen originally. It was also smoother in texture, with an absence of scales seen on the warriors. Slaar’s shoulder armour was a single solid piece, unlike the warrior’s fibreglass torso, which limited actor Alan Bennion’s arm movements. Bennion also had to endure the significant prosthetic effect to his chin and black tooth enamel. Slaar was more senior with the warriors subservient to his orders.

Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death – Martian Grand Marshal (c) BBC

In addition to Slaar a further, more senior ranked Martian was seen on a screen towards the end of the story. Similar in appearance to Slaar, the Grand Marshal was identifiable by a more ornate style of helmet with jewels adorning the headpiece. As the Grand Marshal was in his own atmosphere he also spoke without the whispering hoarseness attributed to the warriors and Slaar. Sadly this would be the only onscreen appearance of a Grand Marshal, or any Martians more senior than the Ice Lords. That was until ‘Empress of Mars’ 45 years later.

The Curse of Peladon

Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon (c) BBC

For the first time the Ice Warriors appeared onscreen in colour! Those with colour televisions could see the green Martians with reddish eyes. Alan Bennion returned to wear his Ice Lord costume once again. A new helmet was constructed, noticeably shorter at the back. Unlike the previous character Slaar, Lord Izlyr now also wore a rather fetching new cape.

Given the cavalcade of alien creatures involved in the tale only one other Martian, Ssorg, featured in the story. As his original Ice Warrior costume would’ve fitted few others Sonny Caldinez returned to fill the role. The slimmer style of helmet was again used, reinforcing the belief that this and not the large-headed original design was the normal form for a Martian warrior. The weaponry, consisting of a small battery operated torch, which had been seen in the previous two stories had been removed for this appearance. Instead Ssorg used a separate sonic blaster.

The Monster of Peladon

Doctor Who: The Monster of Peladon – Sskel and Azaxyr (c) BBC

The final appearance of the Ice Warriors in the classic series saw the costumes undergo another fresh coat of paint, with a darker shade of green used. This was particularly noticeable on Ice Lord Azaxyr, who was once again played by Alan Bennion. The helmet was the same as had been used for ‘The Curse of Peladon’ but it and the chest armour was resprayed to this darker green. Closeups of the Ice Lord show a patchy paint job, which may or may not have been intentional. Azaxyr also wore a cape, now in green, which was a new addition as was a ceremonial belt.

Doctor Who: The Monster of Peladon – Ice Warriors (c) BBC

The Ice Warriors return in force

Supporting Azaxyr was an increased number of warriors, including Sskel played once again by Sonny Caldinez. When revealed at the start of Part Four, one of the Ice Warriors appears to be a darker shade of green than the other. Occasionally the variation of shades of green can be seen on the same warrior; for example in Part Four when the Doctor brings a Martian in to see the events unfolding in the mines. This warrior also used an original large head from 1967. Worn by Terence Denville it had been photographed in 1970 and he donned the costume again for this story. The large helmet was recently rediscovered and has been carefully restored, which you can read about here.

A further three actors were hired to fill the roles of Ice Warriors. Four warrior costumes were seen onscreen, all dating back to 1967, with the three slimmer heads seen in ‘The Seeds of Death’ plus their large-headed colleague. As with Azaxyr, the four warrior costumes were prepared for their return including being given a new weapon, this time a handheld device but one which delivered the same effect to humanoids but could also melt through doors. However some of the warriors, including Sskel, still had the silver torch weapon attached to their right arm in addition to their new weapon.

Cold War

Cold War (2013)
Doctor Who: Cold War (c) BBC

When the Ice Warriors finally returned to the modern version of Doctor Who in 2013 as the show prepared to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. The appearance was kept entirely consistent with what was generally considered to be the norm for the Martian warriors. This traditional look of the Ice Warrior was achieved with modern techniques and substances. The armoured suit was retained with powerful shoulders and legs matching those which had been seen during the classic era of Doctor Who. Additionally a slimmer style head was retained, fitting the established Ice Warrior look with exposed chin consistent with Ice Warriors such as Varga, Zondal, Ssorg and Sskel.

One set of arms and legs was created for actor Spencer Wilding with a torso and helmet also constructed for the future Darth Vader. A second torso and helmet was also built for the scene in which Clara learns that the creature inside has left the armoured suit. Skaldak’s weapon was also on the right forearm, as seen during the two Sixties stories. In 2013 however the weaponry was more built into the arm rather than appearing to be an attachment.

Skaldak - Ice Warroir - Cold War Doctor Who (c) BBC
Doctor Who: Cold War – Skaldak the Ice Warrior (c) BBC

For the first time ever we also saw the Martian creature beneath the helmet. This was a largely CGI creation with piercing red eyes and the jagged teeth which until that point had been hidden beneath the helmet. The scaly skin matched what had been alluded to since 1967 and the Martians very first appearance in ‘The Ice Warriors’.

Empress of Mars

Doctor Who S10 Empress of Mars (No. 9) Friday (RICHARD ASHTON) - (C) BBC/BBC Worldwide - Photographer: Simon Ridgway
Doctor Who S10 Empress of Mars (No. 9) Friday (RICHARD ASHTON) – (C) BBC/BBC Worldwide – Photographer: Simon Ridgway

It would be a few years but the Martians returned once again this week. The modern Ice Warrior design received an update; for the first time we saw an injured warrior. Named Friday, the Martian warrior had clearly been injured with what appears to be scarring inside a left eye, exposed by a damaged helmet. This is similar to the wounded Terileptil seen during ‘The Visitation’ (1982), which adds to the character’s history. Perhaps for the first time in their history, the Martians looked like warriors, ones who bore the scars of conflict.

Doctor Who S10 Empress of Mars (No. 9) Iraxxa (ADELE LYNCH) - (C) BBC/BBC Worldwide - Photographer: Simon Ridgway
Doctor Who S10 Empress of Mars (No. 9) Iraxxa (ADELE LYNCH) – (C) BBC/BBC Worldwide – Photographer: Simon Ridgway

Of course the title of the episode focused on the new creature, Iraxxa the Queen and Empress of Mars. She is notable for being the first female Martian seen during televised stories. The domed helmet with exposed chin is a nod back to the Ice Lords seen in the past. It is also similar in style to the original design inspiration; the Anglo-Saxon helmet. Her cape is reminiscent of those worn by Izlyr and Azaxyr on Peladon, highlighting Iraxxa’s seniority within the Martian species. The dreadlocks are clearly inspired by the Predator creature from the movie of the same name. However, the concept of hair protruding from the helmet was seen in the original warriors way back in 1967 before being modified.

As the Ice Warriors celebrate 50 years in Doctor Who it is apt that they would return to the show. Iraxxa, the Ice Queen of Mars, is a wonderful new addition. In a manner befitting the 50th anniversary of Brian Hayles’ creations, this new Martian nods back to the original Anglo-Saxon inspiration and the original helmets, whilst the story also features the modified helmet style that have become commonly associated with the Ice Warriors of Doctor Who.

Alpha Centauri

Still jazzed up by seeing Alpha Centauri in this week’s episode.

The Peladon series,  2 episodes in 1972 and 1974 are some of the best of Pertwee’s era so the only thing missing was Aggedor, The Beast of Peladon. 🙂

Well worth anyone’s time to get the DVD box set, Peladon Tales. Relive a Classic. Praise Him. 🙂

At 92, Ysanne Churchman is now the oldest actor/actress to appear on Doctor Who.

Review: The Empress of Mars

Obligatory Spoiler Warning

If you haven’t seen it yet. Well, go see it Right Now!! It’s the best episode of the series so far.

It just is. Ok.

The pre-credits sequence has the Doctor taking the mickey out of NASA and then seeing “God Save The Queen” come up on the screen as a message etched in the Martian landscape we are off on quite the romp.

As Writer Mark Gatiss describe it as kind of a Jules Verne episode. A Victorian Regiment on Mars. I thought they’d have a hard time explaining that one. But Gatiss weaved that very logically. The Victorian soldiers fighting in Africa come across the damaged spaceship of an Ice Warrior they dubbed “Friday” (yes, that’s cheese, loved it) and they help him get home and he promised them, like any good genie would, “riches beyond your wildest imagination” or was that Luke Skywalker to Han Solo, I’m confused. 🙂

The Ice Warrior, of course, is just playing along until the bumbling apes helping him do the dirty work waiting for them to strike gold. His kind of gold.

An Ice Queen. Very Royal. Very Regal. And very powerful. Very well played.

The Doctor is again in that situation he was frequently in with UNIT, trying to keep the humans from getting slaughtered by the Alien because they blunder around and shoot at everything.

Peter does another great turn as his Doctor tries to keep the Humans alive and keep The Ice Warriors from killing them mainly. The Military Mind, eh Brigadier… 🙂

I didn’t even mind the Victorian-era SJW slam about women in the episode, because it was true back then to begin with.

The characters were great. The Cowardly Commander who redeems himself, the dastardly over-the-top, mustache-twirling psychopath Catchlove who reminded me of Monty Python,really. Even “Friday” was excellent as he is the one who helps convince his Queen not to slaughter the humans.

“I dare say the British army is more than a match for a bunch of upright crocodiles”

All so very Victorian. 🙂

But one of the things I really did wonder about occurred during the episode when Nardole goes back to the TARDIS and the TARDIS dematerializes back to the University and refuses to budge.

Then it stuck me.

Nardole has “K9 Disease”!! or Matt’s available is limited (or the third option-it’s deliberate which is boringly likely). K-9 Disease goes back to 1980 when K-9 was made a companion of the 4th Doctor and the writers were baffled by the computer that could solve the mystery of the week in 2 seconds flat. So they abused him horribly nearly every week to get him out of the way of the plot.

I think it more likely that Matt is the third banana in a 2 hander, Peter and Pearl. So they let him for a few scenes and then he’s off so the story can focus on Peter and Pearl.

But I swear that notion just popped into my head.

But the highlight was at the end.

squee.gif

ALPHA CENTAURI!

And voiced by the original actress, 92 year old Ysanne Churchman!!!

After she retired from acting in 1993, Mark Gatiss and the BBC team pulled out all the stops to persuade Churchman to return almost 50 years later.

Alpha Centauri, a one-eyed green alien made a cameo via video link as an ambassador for the Galactic Federation welcoming the Ice Warriors to the wider universe.

Which leads eventually to superb 2 episodes of Peladon in the Jon Pertwee era in 1972 and 1974.

Continuity Squee!!

Image result for doctor who ysanne churchman'
Image result for doctor who ysanne churchman'

PELADON LIVES!

Now that’s how to end a Doctor Who episode. A small addition, but one that both gives long-time fans an added grin, and also gives the impression that the universe ticks along whether the Doctor is visiting or not.

A nod to the past. Something that should happen more often. WHO has a very rich 54 year history, use it! 🙂

God Save The Queen.

 

 

The Rise of Mars

Doctor Who’s own Martians are back today.

It’s safe to say that frequent Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss is a big fan of classic series monsters the Ice Warriors.

“Oh I’ve always loved them,” Gatiss told RadioTimes.com and other journalists ahead of the aliens’ return in his Doctor Who episode Empress of Mars tonight.

“I mean, it’s a funny thing – it’s early impressions. Because Jon Pertwee was my Doctor, and the Curse of Peladon is one of my favourite stories, so seeing them being very green and scary as a child definitely made an impression on me.”

Accordingly, Gatiss took the time to talk us through the Ice Warriors’ longstanding appeal and history in the sci-fi series – and why he’s finally taking them back to their home planet for the first time in Doctor Who history.


Background

Two Ice Warriors (with alternate armour designs) in the classic series

For those not in the know, the Ice Warriors are a warrior race (the clue’s in the name) of large humanoid reptiles who originate on Mars, communicate by hissing and wear special bio-mechanical armour that protects them from attack and temperature malfunctions while also providing weaponry.

“I think they’re almost the definition of the old Doctor Who monster,” Gatiss says now. “They’re big, they’re lumbering, they’re slow, they’re green, they’re hissy.”


Early appearances

Created by Brian Hayles in 1967 episode The Ice Warriors (where they faced off with Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, above) as a replacement for the Daleks, the green-suited fighters quickly made an impression – even though they would only appear in a limited number of serials before the series was cancelled on the 1980s.

“They were only in four stories before I brought them back for Matt Smith – but they were always in the top 3!” Gatiss said. “It was the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Ice Warriors. They cast a long shadow.

“So I was always lobbying to bring them back, and now I’ve done it twice! So I’ve done a third of their stories now, which is very exciting.”

The full list of Ice Warrior stories in the original series is as follows:

  • The Ice Warriors (1967)
  • The Seeds of Death (1969)
  • The Curse of Peladon (1972)
  • The Monster of Peladon (1974)

Return in the modern series

The Ice Warriors first returned to Doctor Who in 2013 episode Cold War, where one of the revived monsters faced Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor (pictured) and Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald on a Russian submarine.

“I said to Steven, with Cold War, ‘I’ve always wanted to do a story on a submarine,’” Gatiss recalled. “ ‘And I want to bring back the Ice Warriors’. And then he said ‘Why don’t we put the Ice Warriors on a submarine?’”

The returning Ice Warriors were given a hefty redesign while still keeping their basic iconic look, as well as a big change to their continuity when it was revealed that their armour could actually come off…

The original Ice Warrior costume and the updated version from 2013’s Cold War

“The redesign is very faithful to the original, because it’s a great look, great design,” Gatiss said. “But then you can subtly update.

“The key thing was that I had this idea that there might be something inside it, that we’d never seen, that was like a gecko, that was really quick. And that got very exciting.”


Back to Mars

 

Richard Ashton as Friday in this week’s Doctor Who

Fast forward four years, and Gatiss decided to bring back the Ice Warriors once again for what could be his final Doctor Who story (dumping a planned sequel idea for 2015 episode Sleep No More in their favour) – and he knew exactly the setting to frame the action.

“I was just really interested in trying to explore a bit more of their backstory,” Gatiss said. “And actually put them on Mars, which you know… I can’t believe we’ve never done that before.

“But weirdly though, Brian Hayles, who created them… his original story was called Lords of the Red Planet, and it was about the Ice Warriors on Mars. So it’s been in the works for about 50 years.”

And Gatiss hopes that Empress of Mars will also fill in some other gaps in the Ice Warriors mythology, which has been left surprisingly sparse over the decades.

“The interesting thing about the Ice Warriors is that for such a big monster in the Doctor Who mythology, there’s really remarkably little detail,” Gatiss said. “The Ice Lords come in, in the second story, The Seeds of Death.

“We know basically they’re sort of cybernetic, reptilian creatures, and they’ve made an armour which is connected to their real tissue and all sorts of things, but there’s not much about their backstory, what kind of Mars they ruled or will rule. Famously in the Curse of Peladon they turn out to be the goodies – and that was a great twist!”

“And then in The Monster of Peladon they’re back to being baddies, and I just always found that really rather clever and unexpected,” he went on.

“It’s that lovely thing of having shades of grey in an alien race.”


The Ice Queen cometh

But of course, one of the biggest innovations in this week’s episode is the much-teased new kind of Ice Warrior – specifically, the female of the species (who we can only assume is more deadly than the male), played by Adele Lynch.

“Yes, there’s an Ice Queen!” Gatiss told us. “There’s a joke in there somewhere. She’s called Iraxxa.

“[The Ice Warriors are] a sort of noble race with great culture, but also really bloodthirsty at the same time. There’s a lot of stuff to explore there I think, which is rather good. So bringing in the notion of a female Ice Warrior and an Ice Queen was sort of key to that.

“So I started with the title, Empress of Mars, which was a very Edgar Rice Burroughs kind of title. I like the idea that it might refer to Queen Victoria, who became Queen Empress of India. It might be Iraxxa, it might be Bill – who knows who actually eventually has the title?

“It’s kind of the story I’ve always had in the back of my mind to do, I suppose,” Gatiss concluded. “And it’s just so nice to see loads of Ice Warriors. I mean, it’s just never happened before.

“And a new one – an Ice Queen. So yeah, I’m very chuffed with it.”

Moffat & Gattiss tease

Ice Warriors

I love the Ice Warriors. Doctor Who’s “little green men” From Mars. Though they aren’t little. And when they came back in “Cold War” I was very happy.

Now they are back again this weekend.

Started in “The Ice Warriors”, a Patrick Troughton story and continued under Jon Pertwee’s tenure then they largely disappeared until “Cold War”.

There 50th Anniversary is this November.

Also: They hiss. A lot. Just a lot of hissing, really.

But looks can be deceiving, and it turns out there’s a lot more to the Ice Warriors than first met the eye in 1967. Through meeting with the Third Doctor (and the Eleventh) on Doctor Who, the show proper, we got to see a much more complex race of aliens. And taking into account books, comics and audio dramas, they are even more fleshed out still.

This week, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will face off against them as humanity begins to invade Mars. Who is hero and who is villain this time? And more importantly, what do you need to know if you’re going to survive in an epic struggle with the Ice Warriors?

 

 

Fake Out

Doctor Who’s fake regeneration scene – explained

Doctor Who’s fake regeneration scene – explained

By Huw Fullerton

This week’s episode of Doctor Who solved one of the current series’ enduring mysteries, with the much-teased early regeneration for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor revealed to be a trick used to test the free will of companion Bill (Pearl Mackie).

Of course, this isn’t entirely a surprise – despite this regeneration being shown in several trailers, few fans believed it was the real deal, instead assuming it would be some sort of fake-out still allowing Capaldi to later regenerate into a new incarnation (played by a new actor) for real this Christmas as was previously announced – but the whole sequence has left us scratching our heads for a number of reasons.

To begin with, we’re a little confused as to how the Doctor pulled it off. While it’s previously been demonstrated that regeneration is a voluntary, self-activated process by Time Lords (for example, The Master refusing to save himself in The Last of the Time Lords and Time Lady Romana “trying on” different bodies in Destiny of the Daleks), as far as we know they’ve never been shown to be able to start and stop the process at will, as the Doctor does in this week’s episode.

Sure, the Doctor and other Time Lords have sometimes lent a little regeneration energy when not fully regenerating – most notably 2015 story The Witch’s Familiar, when Davros tricked the Doctor into supplying the Daleks with the power – but this week’s demonstration is different, merely displaying the visual appearance of regeneration without the effects and then swiftly stopped by the Time Lord.

There could be an answer to this within the series itself, of course – the Doctor was gifted a new sequence of regenerations in 2013 episode The Time of the Doctor (having exhausted the usual 13-body limit), and he has previously implied that this new cycle might have different rules to his original one. Maybe those new rules mean the Doctor CAN start and stop regenerations at will, or give off the appearance of them without actually changing, and this was a trick he’d been waiting to try out on someone.

But even if that is all true, it’s still hard to know why he’d bother doing it in this situation. In the fake regeneration scene, the Doctor is trying to goad Bill to test whether she’s actually operating under her own free will or the control of the Monks, culminating in her shooting him to stop him working for the Monks any more.

After the shooting (with Bill only actually firing a gun with blanks), the Doctor begins to regenerate – but why would he? As far as we know, Bill has no idea what regeneration looks like or even that it’s something the Doctor does, so it’s unlikely to have helped sell the whole lie to her. Rather, it’s more likely to have made her think something weird was going on.

Sure, it could have convinced the Monks if they were watching in – but it was made clear that it was Bill shooting the Doctor rather than him actually dying that was the proof of her independence from the brainwashing, and so if she DID shoot him there’d be no need to trick them any more. It was Mission Accomplished, Bill was back on side and they could finally take the fight to the Monks.

Admittedly, the Doctor did question whether the fake regeneration was “a bit much” afterwards, suggesting that he was merely indulging his flair for the dramatic rather than engaging in anything that was useful to his plan, but really you have to look behind-the-scenes before the whole thing starts to become clear.

Because you see, when you think about it from a promotional perspective, the regeneration TOTALLY makes sense. With Peter Capaldi already announced to be leaving Doctor Who before this new series even started, what better way to seize control of the ‘Who is the next Doctor?’ and regeneration speculation and turn it to your advantage than to actually show Capaldi regenerating in a few of your trailers?

The public interest in the future of the series is re-invested in its present, websites and newspapers are bound to write about your trailers and you get to throw in a fun twist to an episode that’s sure to have fans deep in discussion on internet messageboards.

Oh, and you still get to have your proper, heartfelt regeneration this Christmas. Congratulations, Doctor Who – just this once, everybody wins!

Ness Less

Patrick Ness writer and creator of the Doctor Who Spin-off Class, has confirmed he will not be writing any more episodes of the series.

The BBC has not officially commented on the future of the series, which was released on the BBC Three online channel last Autumn and shown on BBC America in the last couple of months. However, with the series creator now withdrawing from the drama it looks increasingly unlikely that a second series will be made.

Ness confirmed his withdrawal from any new series on Twitter saying

I decided a while back that, with unbelievable regret, I won’t be writing anymore Class, even if a season 2 moves ahead. It has been the MOST amazing experience. I loved it, and I am so proud of the show and what we made. My heart just bursts with happy.

But we should be filming right now. With the new cycles of Who, we’d pretty much need to be to be on the air before even 2019. But we’re not. And that’s just TV and how it goes! Not even the littlest bit bitter.

What an amazing experience. Huge thank yous to BBC Three and BBC America for their love and enthusiasm for Class. BBC America in particular absolutely loves the show.

Class was created to appeal to the young adult market and initially released in the UK on an online platform. The project was part of the BBC’s initiative to serve young adult consumers by focusing on online content, a decision that led to the closure of the BBC Three Broadcast channel.

It was hoped that high-quality original content would drive young viewers to the online station, which has struggled to make an impact in the market. However, the decision meant that Class was initially only seen by a fraction of the audience it would have received on a broadcast channel.

The series was later screened on BBC One, but as a late night double bill, where it struggled to find an audience, getting viewing figures around a third of the timeslot average.

Ness, on his Twitter feed, said he was baffled by the scheduling decisions of BBC1, given the show had been critically-acclaimed, but reiterated he was grateful for the chance to make it. He talked about some of his plans for Series Two, which will not now be realised.

If I had got a 2nd season, Weeping Angel civil war & Planet, Quill has a dangerous son, Charlie & Matteusz shirtless wood chopping. So, yeah, I’m really sad, saddest in my whole career, but it’s the right choice.

Ness also paid tribute to the fans of the series and the cast

What a lucky man I’ve been to have been able to make a show I’m so proud of and work with wonderful people. Never even dreamed it. So thank you to everyone who watched and loved it and argued about it and watched it again. You made my heart swell. And I think, truly, that my cast are going to be smashing it for years to come. Pxxxx
Since the BBC went to him specifically, I think this is likely the final nail in Class ‘s coffin.

Review: The Lie of The Land

Needless: SPOILER WARNING

If you don’t know that by now…. 🙂

The Lie Od The Land

Here’s what I was expecting.

Image result for who control the past control the future
The Ministry of Truth (in Newspeak, Minitrue) is the propaganda ministry. As with the other ministries in the novel, the name Ministry of Truth is a misnomer because in reality it serves the opposite: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events.

As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak, in which, for example, “truth” is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants. In keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry is thus aptly named in that it creates/manufactures “truth” in the Newspeak sense of the word.

1984 By George Orwell was a revelation to me in 10th Grade. I was expecting Who meets Orwell.
I think I expected too much of a Saturday Night Family Show.
I got some of it. But it was all watered down.
The resolution that it was Bill memory of her Mother that saved the world is sweet, and very Moffatt using the Photo gag as a plot device later, but I just don’t buy it. Sorry.
They needed Huey Lewis and “The Power Of Love” at that moment.
Maybe I’m too cynical. Wouldn’t be the first time. 🙂
I was not impressed by this episode. Sorry.
I knew Bill was the linchpin, she had to be for a psychic conqueror, they needed her as the template to feed off of.
What saved this episode from it’s plodding is the performances.
Pearl Mackie was fantastic. She really is a fantastic young actress. Her character is actually very believable and very good. She handled the first part of the episode all by herself very well. Placing Bill at the center of that story instantly recalls episodes like “The Last Of The Time Lords” and “Turn Left,” which similarly forced companions to endure hellish journeys through broken alternate worlds.
Too bad about the external SJW hoo-hah that clouds her.
Nardole was good in this one, but he’s still under-utilized. He’s the 3rd Banana in a 2 Banana hander. But he has wit and charm and just a hint of dangerous, much like his one time employer who had more than a hint. 🙂
Michelle Gomez is great. She really sells the remorse of so many lives being one of the great megalomaniacs of the universe. But she is there to do the plot exposition also and TELL the audience the solution so that it can be wrapped up neatly.
I will miss Missy when she goes after this series.
Peter Capaldi is MAGNIFICENT. As an actor I don’t that we really ever have had such quality. He really sells it at the beginning when you are supposed to believe he’s gone “bad” and that he is just trying to make the best of a bad situation and he lectures Bill about humanity’s shortcomings.
His argument to Bill is brilliantly constructed, as a lot of the individual aspects of it are true—history warns against fascism and fundamentalism, humanity keeps making the same mistakes over and over, feel free to mix in present-day applicability as you feel appropriate but then they just stop.
To make this the actual, unaltered Doctor would be to violate the core of the character, so the episode has two options: Either the Doctor is faking it, or his mind has been altered by the Monk’s. Maybe in a way that brings his worst, most cowardly impulses to the forefront, so what we’re seeing is at least a version of the Doctor, or maybe outright control by the Monks. But those are the choices.
If I weren’t already cynical and very experienced in TV Drama you could almost believe it but you know it violates the very tenets of the show which would be a daring and risky thing to do (much riskier than “the first gay companion”).
Having the Doctor reveal it was all a trick to test Bill wasn’t working for the Monks lets a ton of air out of the story, as we immediately switch from Bill and Nardole facing the prospect of saving the world without the Doctor to the Doctor reestablished as damn close to all-knowing and all-powerful, so brilliant are his stratagems.
6 Months! He seemingly was going to wait forever for Bill to show up so he could test her and show off. Really?  No wonder it was Nardole’s plan. He was probably getting bored of it all. It wasn’t like there was a long protracted and difficult jail break or anything…
Oh, and he has his sight back so that last all of what 2 episodes…
So this is the “early regeneration” footage origins. I knew it was con job from the beginning just because it’s Moffat.
The Moff Lies.
I will look forward to Chibnall taking over next year because he will be a new unpredictable element.
But I want to know if this Fake Regeneration counts, like the Vanity Regeneration did. I’m a Doctor Who fan. I’m an obsessive one, to boot. I want to know!
Peter’s Reckless Doctor is great. But his recklessness and over- confidence is going to get him killed. 🙂  Just like it did his former companion. He is headed for the same destination. Only Chris Chibnall will not undo it two episodes later.
Overall, this episode was massive “You mean that’s it?” I waited 3 episodes for that?!
Not happy.
The Monks turned out to be all style over substance.
I guess an Orwellian Dystopic Tease is all we get. 😦
And now it’s onto THE ICE WARRIORS, John Simm’s Master, and MONDASIAN CYBERMEN… Out with the New in with the Old… 🙂