Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Complete Ninth Series on Blu-ray and DVD

Details have been confirmed of a box set release of the 2015 series of Doctor Who. The Complete Ninth Series is now available to pre-order and will be released on 7 March 2016, at £51.05 for DVD and £56.16 for high-definition Blu-ray.


The series is the second to star Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, with Jenna Coleman returning as Clara alongside guest stars including Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams, comedian Rufus Hound and Michelle Gomez as Missy. In addition to the twelve episodes comprising the main series, the release is also set to include two Christmas Specials - 2014's Last Christmas (not included in any other 'complete series' release) and this year’s The Husbands of River Song - and more than four hours’ worth of bonus material.

Four episodes will feature an optional audio commentary track. The two-part adventure Under the Lake/Before the Flood features insights from actor Sophie Stone, writer Toby Whithouse and producer Derek Ritchie, who is also on duty for The Woman Who Lived alongside actor Maisie Williams. Lastly, the experimental 'found footage' episode Sleep No More includes a commentary from actor Reece Shearsmith and writer Mark Gatiss.

Every episode barring Last Christmas is accompanied by a short Doctor Who Extra feature, going behind the scenes with cast and crew. Additionally, a number of other extras are also included. Writing Who follows Sarah Dollard's journey as she wrote Face the Raven, while in Dalek Devotion, Peter Capaldi and showrunner Steven Moffat recall their earliest memories of the killing machines. In The Adventures of River Song, Alex Kingston and Steven Moffat explore how the character came to be created and what happened when the cast discovered River's true identity.

Other items include Sublime Online - a video selection of online clips from behind the scenes - and Clara's Journey, in which Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Eleventh Doctor actor Matt Smith reflect on the longest-serving companion of the revived series to date. Rounding off the set are web prelude The Doctor's Meditation and the prologue to The Magician's Apprentice, deleted scenes, a recap of the 2014 series, BBC trailers, the 2015 San Diego Comic Con Panel, an interview with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman hosted by Wil Wheaton, and a brief look at the online series Doctor Who: The Fan Show.

With thanks to BBC Worldwide
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Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Drosten's Curse paperback

BBC Books has announced that a paperback version of A.L. Kennedy's novel The Drosten's Curse will be published on 21 January 2016, priced £7.99.


Based on Kennedy's Doctor Who: Time Trips short story The Death Pit, The Drosten's Curse was originally published in hardback in July 2015 and features the Fourth Doctor as played by Tom Baker.

Some very strange things are happening in Arbroath when the Fourth Doctor arrives at the Fetch Brothers Golf Spa Hotel. Unsuspecting golfers are being eaten by the bunkers on the golf course. The twin grandchildren of Mrs Fetch, the rather strange and octopus-obsessed owner of the hotel, seem to have the ability to materialise from walls. People in the area can suddenly hear the thoughts of others – and they don’t like what they’re hearing. With the help of the Fetch Brothers junior day receptionist Bryony, and the hindrance of inept guest Ian Patterson, the Doctor discovers something huge, ancient and alien asleep under Arbroath… Can they prevent it from waking up and destroying the world, before the residents of Arbroath finish each other off?

“I always loved tuning in to Doctor Who,” says A.L. Kennedy, “although there were the usual tussles with my parents over whether it was too scary or not. I think the Doctor is actually quite a good way of introducing children to scary things in a safe way. I think the Doctor is good company for kids. He’s a being who’s fun, who challenges ways you might have been told to think, who always goes for the best, most intelligent solution to a problem, who always tries to build and not destroy and who generally has a great appetite for life – there can be no harm in that. And having anything to do with adding to the Doctor’s adventures makes me very happy.”

With thanks to BBC Books
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Doctor Who Magazine Issue 494

Panini has released the details for Issue 494 of Doctor Who Magazine - a 100-page festive edition available from today.


Doctor Who Magazine takes a look forward to this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special – The Husbands of River Song – and also features an exclusive interview with the Doctor himself, Peter Capaldi...

We asked Peter how the Doctor is going to cope with meeting River Song again?

“There’s a very different dynamic,” Peter replies. “As you’ll see, she doesn’t know it’s him at first. She can’t be convinced that it is, so she’s sort of not interested in him! He gets a taste of his own medicine, from her. She treats him very coldly, and flirts with a lot of other people in front of him. He doesn’t get any flirting, which I think upsets him. Eventually – finally! – she recognises him. But then another element comes into play and… well, you’ll have to wait and see. But it’s fun…”

Also inside Issue 494...

THE HUSBANDS OF RIVER SONG
DWM previews the exciting Christmas Special The Husbands of River Song and talks exclusively with writer Steven Moffat.

GOOD KING HYDROFLAX?
We chat to Inbetweeners star Greg Davis about his upcoming role as King Hydroflax – husband to River Song – in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special.

ASK STEVEN
Showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers’ questions about Trap Streets, Zygons and why Osgood is Osgood.

DRAGONS’ DEN
There’s a brand-new comic strip this issue: The Dragon Lord, written by Steve Lyons and illustrated by Adrian Salmon.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING
In her column Relative Dimensions, Jacqueline Rayner wonders if question-mark underpants will be available in time for Christmas.

HEAVEN & HELL
DWM goes behind the scenes of this year’s final two episodes, Heaven Sent and Hell Bent, and chats to director Rachel Talalay about how she went about bringing back Gallifrey.

RASSILON RETURNS
Actor Donald Sumpter, who previously appeared in 1968’s The Wheel in Space and 1972’s The Sea Devils, chats about meeting his third Doctor, and about his appearance as Rassilon in the recent Hell Bent.

ZYGON ALERT!
Writer of this year’s acclaimed Zygon two-parter, Peter Harness, talks exclusively to DWM and explains how a Saturday teatime children’s show can simultaneously speak to adults about serious political issues.

DWM’S REVIEW OF 2015
DWM travels back in time to January to relive the Doctor Who highlights of this year.

CLARA’S KILLER!
One of the people responsible for Clara’s death – Sarah Dollard, writer of Face the Raven – explains her actions!

THE DWM REVIEW
DWM reviews the final four episodes of the latest series: Sleep No More, Face the Raven, Heaven Sent and Hell Bent, as well as revisiting the Doctor’s first Christmas Day appearance in 1965’s The Feast of Steven. We also take a look at the latest books, audios and Doctor Who gifts which make perfect stocking fillers.

COMING SOON
All the latest Doctor Who merchandise releases, including the much-anticipated War Doctor audio dramas from Big Finish, Only the Monstrous.

PLUS! All the latest official news, competitions, The Watcher’s Fiendishly Festive Christmas Quiz, the DWM Christmas Crossword and a massive double-sided poster!

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 494 is on sale from Thursday 10 December 2015, price £5.99.

With thanks to Panini
Unearthly on Twitter and Facebook

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Husbands of River Song trailers

Last night's broadcast of Hell Bent, the finale to the 2015 series, was followed by no less than two trailers for this year's Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song, featuring the return of Alex Kingston after an absence of over two years.

Firstly, the series finale included a 'Next Time' trail for the hour-long festive episode:



For UK viewers, this was immediately followed by a separate BBC One trailer:



The Husbands of River Song airs on BBC One at 5:15pm on Christmas Day:

It’s Christmas Day on a remote human colony and the Doctor is hiding from Christmas Carols and Comedy Antlers. But when a crashed spaceship calls upon the Doctor for help, he finds himself recruited into River Song’s squad and hurled into a fast and frantic chase across the galaxy. 

King Hydroflax is furious, his giant robot bodyguard is out of control and coming for them all! Will Nardole survive? And when will River Song work out who the Doctor is?

All will be revealed on a starliner full of galactic super-villains and a destination the Doctor has been avoiding for a very long time.

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Friday, 4 December 2015

The Beginner's Guide to Doctor Who on BBC Store

BBC Store - the new digital service allowing users to buy, download and keep shows from the BBC - has curated The Beginner's Guide to Doctor Who, a special collection of stories aimed at introducing new fans to the 52-year history of the world's longest-running sci-fi show.

“Some people might feel a bit overwhelmed by Doctor Who and not know where to start exploring it,” says BBC Store’s Simon Farquhar. “If you’ve ever found yourself wondering about the history of the Whoniverse and how it evolved, then our Beginner's Guide is here to help audiences navigate time and space across the most imaginative world television has ever created. We’ve tried to select stories that exemplify the different eras the show has gone through, from the eerie black and white beginnings to the Gothic horror of the mid-Seventies and the fast-paced furore of today’s series. It’s been difficult with so many episodes and Doctors to choose from, but this collection is a fun way to begin exploring Doctor Who.”

BBC Store purchases can be streamed online from bbcstore.com and the 'My Programmes' tab of the BBC iPlayer website, or downloaded onto a PC or Mac. A bespoke app is available now for Windows 10 users, with iOS and Android apps coming soon.

The collection includes fan favourite Blink starring Carey Mulligan and introducing the Weeping Angels, Doctor Who’s return to BBC One in Rose with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, and numerous classic stories including Jon Pertwee's début appearance in Spearhead from Space, and Genesis of the Daleks - introducing twisted Dalek creator Davros.

The Beginner's Guide to Doctor Who is online now. The full list of stories is as follows:

The Tomb of the Cybermen (Patrick Troughton, 1967)
Spearhead from Space (Jon Pertwee, 1970)
Genesis of the Daleks (Tom Baker, 1975)
The Talons of Weng-Chiang (Tom Baker, 1977)
Earthshock (Peter Davison, 1982)
Rose (Christopher Eccleston, 2005)
Blink (David Tennant, 2007)
The Day of the Doctor (Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt, 2013)
Mummy on the Orient Express (Peter Capaldi, 2014)





With thanks to BBC Worldwide
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TARDIS Set Tours

The Doctor Who Experience is giving fans the chance to step foot onto the TARDIS set used in the 2015 series, featuring Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, in its studio setting.

© BBC Worldwide

By purchasing a special TARDIS Tour + General Admission ticket, visitors can take part in the interactive experience and visit the exhibition hall at the Doctor Who Experience at Cardiff Bay, but will also have the opportunity to visit the TARDIS set located within walking distance of the Experience at the BBC's Roath Lock Drama Studios.

For more information and to book tickets, visit the official Doctor Who Experience website. The tours will run from 9 December 2015 until 3 January 2016.

With thanks to BBC Worldwide
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Doctor Who Adventures Issue 9

Panini has released details of Issue 9 of the Doctor Who Adventures magazine, available now.

Courtesy of Panini

POSTER
This issue comes with a free hand-painted mega-poster of Skaro from Robot City’s Paul Collicutt.

Courtesy of Panini

THE MINISTRY OF TIME
Scream Street’s Tommy Donbavand scripts this issue’s comic strip, in which the TARDIS gets clamped for contravening several time and space laws as laid out by the Ministry of Time.

Courtesy of Panini

FESTIVE MAYHEM
Get ready for a look back at some of the Christmas dangers the Doctor has faced over the last ten years, before finding out if you’ve got what it takes to Save Christmas.

RIVER SONG’S CRAFT STUDIO
River shows you how to decorate your Christmas tree with some fiendish Snowmen Baubles.

UNIT ALIEN ARCHIVES
Delve into the UNIT Alien Archive and find out all about the duplicitous Leandro from Delta Leonis.

STRAX’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
This month, Strax takes you to Trenzalore, Zygor, Ember and Tiaanammat for some Christmas space exploration.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Christmas isn’t Christmas without a cool board game to play, and this time you can be River or the Doctor as you race through the night to Christmas morning facing all manner of dangers including the Sycorax, the Racnoss, Dream Crabs and Robot Angels.

THE PATERNOSTER GANG INVESTIGATES
Then get ready for a real Victorian mystery as James Peaty relates the tale of how the Paternoster Gang came up against the horrifying Dissolving Man!

Issue 9 of Doctor Who Adventures comes with a free Dalek Blaster and mega-poster of Skaro. It is available now, price £3.99.

With thanks to Panini
Unearthly on Twitter and Facebook

Sunday, 29 November 2015

DVD Review: Downtime

Reviewed by Matthew Purchase

The unofficial spin-off Downtime was produced by Keith Barnfather for Reeltime and was released on VHS in 1995. 20 years on it has finally received a DVD release, but does it stand the test of time?

It’s hard to imagine the time when new Doctor Who wasn’t being made, with new material only being released in the form of comic strips and books. Today I count my blessings that we currently have 13 new episodes being made a year, not even mentioning a K9 film and new BBC Three spin-off Class which are currently in pre-production. During this period companies such as Reeltime Pictures and BBV started making their own productions, using elements from the TV series that the BBC did not hold copyright for, and often with an array of cast members associated with the TV show.

With Downtime, the links with the TV series are aplenty. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Sarah Jane Smith, Victoria Waterfield, Professor Travers, Yeti, and UNIT all feature from the main show and there is even the introduction of the Brigadier’s daughter Kate, who would later be introduced as a recurring character to the revived series. But whilst it is wonderful to see all these old faces again, the sheer number of links to the TV series does over-complicate the plot and it just feels as though they have put in as many of these elements as they can to make up for the lack of the Doctor.

The storyline might not be the best in the world, but it has a perfectly serviceable plot that is certainly better than several stories from the end of the classic run of Doctor Who. Marc Platt does commendably well in incorporating all of these ingredients into a 70-minute story, which is certainly no mean feat. It is reminiscent in some ways of twentieth anniversary special The Five Doctors, a story which included lots of elements from the show's past whilst working them into a functional script, resulting in the narrative lacking in places.

It’s great to see the Yeti on screen again (even if the costumes are vastly inferior to the 60s BBC versions). The plot concerning personal computers (then a relatively newfangled concept) might have seemed a new and exciting idea at the time, but it does feel dated now, along with the garish green pullovers - but then, this was the 90s...

For a direct-to-VHS production, the acting is surprisingly strong. Of course Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) and Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) are the stars of the show, slipping back into their previous roles effortlessly. It is also lovely to see Deborah Watling (Victoria) back on screen with her real-life father Jack Watling (Professor Travers) after an absence of 27 years from the TV series proper. Beverly Cressman’s portrayal of Kate Stewart is quite easily reconciled with Jemma Redgrave’s interpretation (opposite Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi's Doctors), and there is certainly a physical similarity. In this story she doesn’t initially know about her father’s dealings with extra-terrestrial beings, so perhaps it’s this story which leads her towards the path to taking charge of UNIT?

Classic Doctor Who director Christopher Barry - who helmed ten TV stories featuring the first four Doctors - does a wonderful job at shooting this production. His style here amalgamates the essence of classic Doctor Who with what might then have been considered a modern production. Similarly, the music score feels modern for the time, whilst also harking back to previous Doctor Who scores, particularly 1968 Yeti escapade The Web of Fear.

The DVD release of Downtime includes a second disc of bonus content. The first of these features is a look at the making of Downtime, consisting of behind the scenes footage with occasional subtitles providing context to the images. I didn’t realise how many people were involved in this production, and certainly after watching this feature I have more respect for the love and attention that was given to Downtime. Watching it, you wouldn’t think it was a low-budget straight-to-video production. Included in the feature was a nice surprise; an all too brief section of footage featuring Jack Watling rehearsing his lines. I don’t think I have ever seen any interviews with Watling, so it’s wonderful to see a snapshot of this important Doctor Who actor. Whilst it was nice to see how Downtime was made, the feature does go on a bit too long and I started to become slightly bored at seeing every single aspect of the filming. Perhaps this item could have done with being cut down to about 50 minutes to try and keep up the interest; however it is certainly worth a watch.

The second extra looks at Downtime's post-production, which in contrast to the behind the scenes feature is too short, running to around 7 minutes. Featuring the editing, CGI and music scoring, this feature gives a fascinating insight as to how the production was put together. Ian Levine enthusiastically discusses his thought process behind the incidental music, showing the experimentation involved with different instruments in order to get the right sounds. But most interesting of all is seeing how the CGI effects were achieved. We take it for granted now, but the software used at the time reminded me of using Microsoft Paint on top of a video. It is a real insight into how CGI was achieved back then.

All in all, whilst Downtime might not be the best of Doctor Who's independent spin-offs, it is clear that this production was made with love and affection for the television show during a time when Doctor Who was hardly in the public consciousness. I would certainly recommend getting this DVD if you have never seen Downtime before. It might be as close to a brand new classic Doctor Who episode as you can get.

★★★☆☆

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Sadie Miller headlines new Lethbridge-Stewart novels for 2016

Candy Jar Books have revealed the first details of next year's range of Lethbridge-Stewart novels, announcing that the first book of the new year, Moon Blink, will be written by Sadie Miller, the daughter of Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures actors Elisabeth Sladen and Brian Miller.

In Moon Blink, a new drug is on the streets, and it appears to have come from the moon. Lethbridge-Stewart and Anne Travers are all set to investigate, when Anne receives a very unexpected visitor. Then in The Showstoppers by Jonathan Cooper, a new TV show is about to hit the airwaves, one connected to a notorious Nazi war criminal. The series continues with The Grandfather Infestation by John Peel. Something strange is happening in the North Sea, bringing pirate radio to its knees. The Fifth Operational Corps is called in to investigate...

A further three novels will be released in the autumn of 2016.

Moon Blink is Sadie Miller's début novel. “When I first heard that Sadie was writing a novel, my initial reaction was ‘ahh, a chip off the old block,’” says Gary Russell, former script editor of The Sarah Jane Adventures and long-time family friend of the Millers. “Her delightful mum was one of the most creative, sharp and incisive individuals I ever knew. But then I realised I was doing Sadie a disservice, because from the first day I met her, Sadie Miller has always been her own person, utterly talented and rapaciously gifted which, other than encouragement and support, owes nothing to either of her parents and everything to Sadie's own determination to be brilliant. And with this novel, she's proven that she is.”

Miller enjoyed a career as a child actress through many voice-over parts before making her screen début when she was eight, playing Penny in the BBC film Royal Celebration. She is best-known to Doctor Who fans for her role in both series of Sarah Jane Smith audio dramas produced by Big Finish in 2002 and 2006. She won much critical acclaim for the role of the wheelchair-bound Planet 3 researcher Natalie Redfern, particularly in the story Test of Nerve. However, she turned from acting in 2011. “After University, I went to drama school and was actually in my final term when mum died,” says Sadie. “This obviously impacted how I looked at my future and I decided to switch to writing instead so that I could have a little more control and flexibility to be around for my dad.” She is currently working on an original Young Adult novel, having already contributed to anthologies. In 2014 Miller was a finalist for the Glass Woman prize with Mirandolina.

Miller is the daughter of Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and CBBC spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures. Following Sladen's passing in 2011, Miller distanced herself for some time from Doctor Who fandom. “I needed time to mourn, to be there for my dad,” she explains. “The constant reminders of my mum, obviously very hard to avoid, were just too painful. But now I feel that the time is right to reconnect with Doctor Who, and the fans. My dad did so last year with an appearance in Peter Capaldi’s first episode, and so now it’s my turn. It’s exciting to be writing my first novel, and that it features the Brig adds another layer of importance. He, in the form of Nicholas Courtney, was there when mum debuted as Sarah in 1973, and she was there for his very last on screen appearance as the character in 2008. So in many ways this is important.”

For series editor Andy Frankham-Allen, a collaboration with Sadie Miller has been a long time coming. “I almost worked with Sadie a good ten years ago on the second series of Sarah Jane Smith,” says Andy, “but alas that did not come to be. We’ve kept in touch since, and as soon as I learned she was switching careers I immediately asked if she wanted to write for the Lethbridge-Stewart range, feeling it may be the right time for her to reconnect with Doctor Who fandom. And bless her, she agreed without a second thought!”

For those wishing to pre-order the new books, discounted bundles will be on offer from Candy Jar, with a new subscription deal offering six books for the price of five. More information is available from the Candy Jar Books website.

With thanks to Candy Jar Books
Unearthly on Twitter and Facebook

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Essential Doctor Who Issue 6: Davros and Other Villains

The Essential Doctor Who, Panini’s series of bookazines, continues with a 116-page issue devoted to Davros and Doctor Who’s other notorious villains.


“The last issue dealt with monsters,” says editor Marcus Hearn, “so this time we’re turning our attention to the Doctor’s humanoid adversaries. Davros made a huge impact in the recent story The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, so he leads the charge!”

Davros and Other Villains includes exclusive interviews with Davros actors Terry Molloy and David Gooderson, Andy Wisher (son of original Davros actor Michael Wisher), Peter Miles (Nyder in Genesis of the Daleks), John Challis (Scorby in The Seeds of Doom), Paul Darrow (Tekker in Timelash) and 1960s companion Anneke Wills.

The bookazine also reveals the story behind the stage play The Trial of Davros and examines the careers of Kevin Stoney (Mavic Chen in The Daleks’ Master Plan and Tobias Vaughn in The Invasion), Michael Gough (the Toymaker in The Celestial Toymaker), Tony Beckley (Harrison Chase in The Seeds of Doom) and Roger Lloyd Pack (John Lumic in Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel).

The centrepiece of this issue is an epic countdown of the 50 most villainous plots in Doctor Who history, from the early black-and-white episodes to the most recent series. What will be number one?

The Essential Doctor Who: Davros and Other Villains is on sale now at WH Smith and all good newsagents, price £9.99.

With thanks to Panini
Unearthly on Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Peter Capaldi on BBC Radio 1 breakfast

Image: The Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw
As the ninth series of Doctor Who continues on BBC One, its star Peter Capaldi featured on BBC Radio 1's Breakfast Show this morning, speaking to host Nick Grimshaw.

Capaldi spoke about co-star Jenna Coleman's imminent departure from Doctor Who, revealed how Maisie Williams is always trying to ruin Game of Thrones for him, and also discussed the controversial sonic sunglasses - and the possible return of the sonic screwdriver...

You can listen back to the interview here (from 02:23:46 in).

With thanks to BBC Radio 1
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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Jenna Coleman confirmed for Doctor Who Festival UK

BBC Worldwide has announced that Jenna Coleman will be attending this year’s Doctor Who Festival on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 November, ahead of her exit as Clara Oswald later in the current series.

The Doctor Who Festival is also the only official event this year to include appearances from Peter Capaldi, Michelle Gomez (Missy) and Ingrid Oliver (Osgood) as well as executive producer Steven Moffat.

Additionally, it has been confirmed that writer Mark Gatiss will be attending the Festival on all three days, as well as joining the team from Millennium FX each day in its theatre show, revealing to guests how they create and build many of the monsters from Doctor Who. Gatiss and the team will take an in-depth look at the new monsters created for the 2015 series.

Other events over the three days are as follows:

  • The daily "Meet The Cast" panel will see Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez and Ingrid Oliver discuss their experiences behind the scenes on the set of Doctor Who
  • The minds behind Doctor Who will be quizzed in the Writers' Panel, where all of the 2015 writers (Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Sarah Dollard, Toby Whithouse, Catherine Tregenna, Peter Harness and Jamie Mathieson) will talk through the development and design of the show’s characters and storylines
  • Special effects supervisor Danny Hargreaves and his team at Real SFX reveal what happens on a typical day’s filming in their live show
  • Fans can enter the Cosplay Showcase and be put to the test in the Fan Challenge
  • Photo opportunities with Jenna Coleman are now on sale. There are also photos with Ingrid Oliver, Michelle Gomez, Mark Gatiss, Danny Hargreaves and Nick Briggs still available for purchase via the website. Photo opportunities with Peter Capaldi are now sold out
  • Visitors will experience what it's really like to be on the Doctor Who set in the Drama School and Production Village, featuring audio story producers Big Finish, Nick Briggs and director Douglas MacKinnon, giving ticket holders the opportunity to learn voice acting from the voice of the Daleks himself and discover how to act with CGI
  • Two of the iconic sets from the 2015 series will be on open display to all ticket holders, and the set of Clara’s Bedroom will be available to ticket holders for photo opportunities

The ticket price includes day entry to the Festival, access to three theatre shows, a lanyard and show planner, and access to all the activities in the Festival Hall.

The Doctor Who Festival will take place at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London on Friday 13, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 November 2015. Tickets and further information are available from doctorwhofestival.com.

The Festival will be heading to Australia a week later, on 21 and 22 November 2015 in Moore Park, Sydney. Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat will also be attending the Australian event.

With thanks to BBC Worldwide
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Doctor Who Adventures Issue 8

Panini has confirmed the contents of Issue 8 of Doctor Who Adventures, the magazine for younger readers:

TIME AND PR IN SPACE
The Doctor gets a makeover and a new agent in Time and PR in Space, a brand new comic strip story scripted by Kieron Moore, illustrated by Russ Leach and coloured by John Burns.
TOUGH, WILD & UNPREDICTABLE
Then we take a look at some of the women in the Doctor’s life, including Clara Oswald, Ashildr and River Song.

CLARA’S CRAFT STUDIO
Get creative with Clara as you make your very own Davros Secret Storage pot, ideal for keeping all your special knick-knacks safe and sound.

UNIT ALIEN ARCHIVES
Access UNIT’s alien archives to find out all about Colony Sarff.

THE PATERNOSTER GANG INVESTIGATES…
Go back in time to Victorian London and join the Paternoster Gang as Strax, Jenny and Vastra investigate ghostly goings on in Paternoster Row!

Issue 8 comes with free Daleks and Cybermen patrols, so you can finally find out for yourselves who would win as you stage your own battles... All this and much, much more!

On sale 5 November 2015.

With thanks to Panini
Unearthly on Twitter and Facebook

The Pandorica Opens scarf

An officially-licensed scarf featuring the exploding TARDIS, as seen in 2010's The Pandorica Opens, is now available from Lovarzi.

The digitally-printed scarf is based on the painting supposedly by Vincent van Gogh in the Series Five finale, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang.

Faced with the prospect of the TARDIS exploding, the Doctor's greatest enemies – including the Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, and the Nestene Consciousness – trapped Matt Smith's eleventh incarnation of the Time Lord in the Pandorica. Van Gogh painted the design as a warning to his friend: that the universe had cracked and that they were all in terrible danger.

  • Digitally printed onto 100% pure silk
  • Presented in a special gift box emblazoned with foil-printed Doctor Who and BBC logos
  • Free UK delivery
  • 40 x 190cm

With thanks to Lovarzi
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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Toys “R” Us exclusive figure series

Character Options has announced a collector’s series of figures exclusive to Toys “R” Us stores in the UK. The new collection of eleven figures will be displayed in brand new resealable packaging, allowing the figures to be taken out of pack and then stored in pristine condition.

The new 5-inch figure series will include:

  • Clara Oswald (played by Jenna Coleman)
  • Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) with K9
  • Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) in her famed police outfit
  • Three separate figures of the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith): one in purple jacket, another donning a cowboy hat, and finally with his sonic screwdriver
  • Four versions of the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) with white, black, purple or polka dot shirts 
  • A brand new figure of the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) as seen in the mini-episode The Night of the Doctor

In addition, four 3.75-inch Wave 4 figures will also be available.

“This collector’s series is really special,” says Al Dewar, Product Development Director for Character Options. “The fans have been requesting a return to the 5.5-inch format for a long time and in producing this collection I feel we have brought to them exactly what they have been demanding.”

Mike Coogan, Marketing & eCommerce Director, Toys “R” Us further commented: “Toys “R” Us has a particular affinity with the Doctor Who fan and each year we like to bring to them something that they could not get anywhere else. This new series is exceptional and I believe one of the most comprehensive collector’s series to date - it will be an instant hit with all collectors.”

The range will be generally available at Toys “R” Us stores and online by 9 November, however selected items will be available earlier through the website.

Check out an image gallery of the new figures at the Unearthly Facebook page.

With thanks to Character Options
Unearthly on Twitter and Facebook

The Underwater Menace on iTunes

In an unexpected move, the 1967 adventure The Underwater Menace has been made available for download on iTunes. The four-part serial stars Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and was also released on DVD yesterday. However, the first and last episodes of the story are missing from the BBC's archives and so as per the DVD edition, they are represented with photographic stills and restored audio recordings of the original episodes.

The iTunes release also includes virtually all of the bonus content from the DVD, apart from the commentary tracks and surviving clips from the two otherwise-missing episodes:




A Fishy Tale
Anneke Wills (Polly), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Catherine Howe (Ara), Assistant Floor Manager Gareth Gwelan, Production Assistant Berry Butler and writer Robert Shearman look back at the making of this controversial story. Narrated by Peter Davison.

The Television Centre of the Universe - Parts 1 & 2
A look back at BBC Television Centre with TARDIS crew Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Mark Strickson (Turlough).
The first part of this feature was originally issued on the Special Edition DVD of the 1982 story The Visitation.

Photo Gallery
Production, design and publicity photos from The Underwater Menace.

The Underwater Menace can be purchased from iTunes in the UK for £12.99. The four episodes can also be bought from the store individually for £3.99 each.

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Monday, 26 October 2015

Lethbridge-Stewart: Beast of Fang Rock

Candy Jar Books has released the latest in its series of Lethbridge-Stewart novels based on Doctor Who, Beast of Fang Rock by Andy Frankham-Allen.

‘The one with the lighthouse…’

That’s how most people remember Horror of Fang Rock, the Doctor Who story first transmitted in 1977. It has come to be regarded as a classic, a fondly remembered story not only for fans, but for the general public as well.

Candy Jar’s Lethbridge-Stewart novel Beast of Fang Rock is the official prequel to the original television story, fully authorised by original writer Terrance Dicks. Eighty years prior to Horror of Fang Rock a beast was said to prowl the crags of Fang Rock, killing two keepers and driving another quite mad. What is the Beast? Where did it come from? Just what did happen in 1822? Finally the answers will be revealed...

The period setting of Beast is a deliberate echo of Horror, says author Andy Frankham-Allen. It was essential that I recreated that sense of claustrophobia, and so I developed a very similar dynamic, taking my cues from Terrance Dicks’ original script. Terrance is such an important part of Doctor Who’s history, indeed he’s had his hand in almost every piece of Doctor Who lore modern fans get to enjoy in the current series, that it was imperative his vision and ideals be honoured in this book.”

But Beast of Fang Rock is also a sequel to the original TV serial, dealing with the fallout surrounding the mysterious happenings of 1902. It is set almost seventy years later, in the late 1960s, featuring hauntings, time travel and the return of Anne Travers, last seen on television in 1968's The Web of Fear, who takes her place as co-lead in the novel series. “One of the main goals of this book,” says Candy Jar Books head of publishing Shaun Russell, “was to establish Anne Travers as a key player in the series. She had a cameo in the first book, The Forgotten Son, and a timey-wimey role in The Schizoid Earth, but this is the first book in which her part is essential to the plot. Indeed, in every way that matters, Beast of Fang Rock is Anne’s story. Doctor Who has a large female fan base, and it has always been our plan that our series has a strong female lead to whom all those fans can relate.”

Another key aspect of Beast of Fang Rock is the lighthouse. Hayley Cox, senior publishing coordinator at Candy Jar Books, says: “For centuries lighthouses have protected and saved many lives all over the world, keeping safe those who dare to battle against the ferocious elements of our world. Lighthouses feature so little in literature, and are often relegated to stories told by the older generation, but this book will hopefully remind today’s generation of the importance of the lighthouse. Not only in the past, but in today’s world. Andy has done a wonderful job of paying testament to these bastions of hope for the unwary traveller.”

Horror of Fang Rock has always been a favourite with the fans,” says original actress Louise Jameson (Leela) in her foreword to the new novel. “Part of the ‘recipe’ for a frightening yarn is to create something claustrophobic. And that feeling of climbing the stairs at night taps in to almost everyone’s personal childhood terror. Add the fog, the fear of being ‘jumped’ and you’re left with the stuff of nightmares. This book is hard to put down, and it’s marvellous, and very touching, that so many people are still connected to the classic series in a way I could never have predicted, even though I had the privilege of travelling through time.”

With thanks to Candy Jar Books
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David Tennant & Catherine Tate join Big Finish audio range

David Tennant is set to return as the Tenth Doctor alongside Catherine Tate as his companion Donna Noble in three Doctor Who audio dramas from Big Finish Productions, under licence from BBC Worldwide.


Tennant portrayed the Doctor on-screen from 2005 until 1 January 2010, returning to play alongside Matt Smith and John Hurt in the 50th Anniversary special The Day of the Doctor in 2013. Tate made her début as Donna in December 2006, and after a series and two festive specials she made her last appearance alongside Tennant on 1 January 2010. Their on-screen partnership is generally regarded as one of the greatest high-points of the enduring science fiction series.

“I still remember the sense of joy I had when I heard that David had been asked to play the Doctor,” says executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery. “We were all so pleased for him, as we knew how much Doctor Who meant to him. And now David comes full circle, back doing Doctor Who with Big Finish - except that this time he’s playing the Doctor! It’s the same but different - it’s wonderful to have him back!”

The Tenth Doctor Adventures will be released in May 2016 and comprises three full-cast audio adventures. The set opens with Technophobia by Matt Fitton, which is set in London slightly in the future, where mankind is gradually losing its ability to use everyday technology. Could there be an evil force at work?

In Time Reaver by Jenny T Colgan the Doctor and Donna arrive on Calibris - ‘An entirely mechanical planet. Catch, hitch, fuel, fix, buy, pretty much any kind of transportation in existence.’ It’s also a world full of scoundrels, where a deadly black market has opened up in a device known only as the Time Reaver.

Finally, in Death and the Queen by James Goss, Donna is swept along in a fairytale romance and meets the man of her dreams in the beautiful land of Goritania. What can possibly go wrong? And why has the Doctor never heard of Goritania?

“I’ve enjoyed working with all the Doctors on TV, but David is the only one I’d known before he became the Doctor,” says executive producer Nicholas Briggs. “I’d worked with him on our Dalek Empire series for Big Finish and had such fun. So along with the excitement of directing new Tenth Doctor adventures, I’m so happy to be working with an old chum again.”

The Tenth Doctor Adventures is produced by David Richardson, script edited by Matt FittonJames Goss and directed by Nicholas Briggs.

“This is one of those dream projects where I’ve spent months pinching myself. I’m covered in bruises,” says Richardson. “With two major international stars in place, and the legacy of this era of the TV show to live up to, we’ve worked our socks off to try and make some very special stories for this box set. Expect adventure, fun, scares… and some tears too.”

The Tenth Doctor Adventures will be released in May 2016 on CD and Download. The three stories are available to pre-order individually or collected into a limited edition box set.

With thanks to Big Finish
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Sunday, 25 October 2015

Black Milk Clothing announces Doctor Who collection

At 9am (AEST) on Tuesday 3 November, Australian firm Black Milk Clothing will release their exclusive Doctor Who collection.

In collaboration with BBC Worldwide, the collection features 45 brand new products designed and manufactured in Brisbane, Australia, including leggings, dresses, swimsuits and tops.

The designs incorporate many iconic characters, monsters and moments from Doctor Who, such as Daleks, Cybermen, the outfits of various Doctors and, of course, the TARDIS.

Black Milk Clothing founder and head designer James Lillis says: “We are big fans of Doctor Who here at Black Milk, and have been wanting to do something around this iconic show for a long time.

“Collaborations such as this have become such an important part of the Black Milk world, and Doctor Who is a great fit for Black Milk – it’s quirky, irreverent and colourful, just like us!”

The collection promises to be quite unlike anything Doctor Who fans have seen before, with a good dose of Black Milk’s unique aesthetic. But Lillis assures that there will be something for everyone in the collection: “The Doctor Who fandom is a passionate and long-running one, and we really wanted to do that justice.”

Jason Easy, Head of Brand Licensing (Softlines), BBC Worldwide, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Black Milk to bring this unique clothing range to Doctor Who’s legion of fans.”

A preview event will be held in the Black Milk HQ concept store in Brisbane on Thursday 29 October, giving customers the opportunity to buy from the collection ahead of the release date. Items from the range will also be available to purchase from Black Milk’s stand at the Doctor Who Festival in Sydney, being held at the Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion on 21 and 22 November.

Black Milk Clothing ships worldwide to more than 200 countries. Explore the new range of products at Black Milk Clothing's website.

With thanks to Black Milk Clothing
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Broadcast update

The UK timeslot for the seventh episode of the 2015 series has been confirmed. The Zygon Invasion will air on BBC One at 8:15pm on Saturday 31 October.

The Zygons, a race of shapeshifting aliens, have been living in secret among us on Earth, unknown and unseen - until now! When Osgood is kidnapped by a rogue gang of Zygons, the Doctor, Clara and UNIT must scatter across the world in a bid to set her free. But will they reach her in time, and can they stop an uprising before it’s too late?

Then, Saturday 7 November will see the second part of the story at a time to be confirmed. The official synopsis for The Zygon Inversion has been released by the BBC:

Shapeshifting Zygons are everywhere in the UK, and there is no way of knowing who to trust. With UNIT neutralised, only the Doctor stands in their way. But how do you stop a war? And what can the Doctor do to save his friends?

Source: BBC Media Centre
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Friday, 16 October 2015

The 10 Christmas Specials box set delayed


The release date for the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD set The 10 Christmas Specials has been pushed back by three weeks, to 9 November.

The box set, which will contain every Doctor Who Christmas Special to date with a selection of exclusive content and souvenirs, was originally scheduled for release this Monday, 19 October. Unearthly understands that when it became apparent that a change of date was required, it was briefly decided to delay the product by just seven days (until 26 October), but it was then postponed again by an additional fortnight - presumably to avoid clashing with the releases of The Underwater Menace and Series 9 Part 1, due on 26 October and 2 November respectively.

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Thursday, 15 October 2015

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 492

Doctor Who Magazine looks ahead to the return of one of Doctor Who's most popular monsters, the Zygons, in the forthcoming two-part adventure The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion – which also sees the return of fan-favourite Osgood...

“There was a certain amount of fan outrage when Death in Heaven saw the apparent death of Osgood,” episode writer Peter Harness tells Doctor Who Magazine. “Ingrid Oliver’s character was an instant hit on her first appearance in The Day of the Doctor. While there may not have been questions asked in Parliament about her death, there were definitely some furious tweets on the subject! But now she’s back...” And, of course, the Zygons are back too... “One thing I really had in my head when I was writing it was Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and I think that's why it originally had the title Invasion of the Zygons,” Peter reveals. “I thought that if aliens wanted to fight us and they were fighting us from a position of weakness, they would look at how we fight wars. The Zygons are not only stealing our faces, but they’re stealing the ways in which we fight each other nowadays...”

Also inside the bumper 92-page Issue 492...

THE GIRL WHO DIED & THE WOMAN WHO LIVED
DWM looks ahead to the brand new episodes The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived and talks exclusively with writers Jamie Mathieson and Catherine Tregenna.

THE SECRET OF DAVROS
Showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers’ questions about the series’ opening two-parter, and explains why Davros is unlike any other villain...

BACK TO SKARO
DWM goes behind the scenes of The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar to discover how the planet Skaro was resurrected, with insights from Dalek voice actor Nicholas Briggs and writer Steven Moffat.

GHOST WRITER
In an extensive interview, writer Toby Whithouse talks in-depth about his recent episodes Under the Lake and Before the Flood.

WHO’S MAGIC?
Excited by the new series, Jacqueline Rayner reflects on The Magician’s Apprentice and celebrates the magic of Doctor Who in her column, Relative Dimensions.

MONSTERS OF THE MILLENNIUM
Prosthetic effects supervisor Kate Walshe of Millennium FX talks exclusively to DWM about her team's creations for the latest series, including Davros, Colony Sarff and the Fisher King.

DOCTOR DOOM
DWM talks to Eighth Doctor Paul McGann about his biggest Doctor Who adventure to date: Doom Coalition.

THE WAR GAMES
The Fact of Fiction explores the second half of The War Games, the landmark Second Doctor story which introduced the Time Lords.

FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE
There's comic strip action in a terrifying new adventure for the Doctor and Clara: The Highgate Horror, by Mark Wright, illustrated by David A Roach and James Offredi.

THE DWM REVIEW
DWM reviews the first four episodes of the latest series: The Magician’s Apprentice & The Witch's Familiar and Under the Lake & Before the Flood. Plus the latest books and audios are put under the spotlight.

COMING SOON
All the latest Doctor Who merchandise releases, including – at last! – the DVD release of 1967's The Underwater Menace.

PLUS! All the latest official news, competitions, Wotcha! and The DWM Crossword.

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 492 is on sale from Thursday 15 October 2015, price £4.99 – with eight more pages than usual, for no extra cost.

With thanks to Panini
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Synopsis for The Zygon Invasion

The official synopsis for The Zygon Invasion, the seventh episode of the 2015 series, has been released.

The Zygons, a race of shapeshifting aliens, have been living in secret among us on Earth, unknown and unseen - until now! When Osgood is kidnapped by a rogue gang of Zygons, the Doctor, Clara and UNIT must scatter across the world in a bid to set her free. But will they reach her in time, and can they stop an uprising before it’s too late?

The Zygon Invasion will air on BBC One on Saturday 31 October, at a time to be confirmed. The episode is written by Peter Harness, directed by Daniel Nettheim and produced by Peter Bennett.

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Broadcast time for The Woman Who Lived

The BBC has confirmed the timeslot for the sixth episode of the 2015 series. The Woman Who Lived will air on BBC One in the UK on Saturday 24 October at 8:20pm.

England, 1651. The deadly Highwayman 'The Nightmare' and his sidekick stalk the dark streets of London. But when they find loot that's not of this world, they come face to face with the Doctor. Who is the Nightmare in league with? And can the Doctor avoid the hangman's noose and protect Earth from a devilish betrayal?

The Woman Who Lived is written by Catherine Tregenna and directed by Ed Bazalgette.

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Monday, 12 October 2015

Where is The Web of Fear Episode 3?

Philip Morris, the man who located nine missing episodes of Doctor Who in Nigeria and returned them to the BBC in 2013, has revealed that a tenth missing episode was also unearthed at the same time but disappeared after the initial discovery.

The nine returned episodes comprised all five missing instalments of The Enemy of the World and four of the five missing episodes of The Web of Fear, meaning that only the third episode of Web remained lost. It has now come to light that a film print of this episode was also found at the television relay station in the Nigerian city of Jos, but its current whereabouts are once again unknown. Morris believes that a private film collector may have managed to buy the print from the station after its location leaked onto the internet in 2011.

A photograph taken by Morris just after the discovery (and after verification of the contents of the cans) has been released exclusively on the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group on Facebook, and shows all twelve film cans - including The Web of Fear Episode 3.


The Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group released the following statement:
On the second anniversary of the release of the newly-recovered and restored The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear, Philip Morris, Executive Director of Television International Enterprises and Archives Ltd (TIEA) has authorised us to release this photograph of the twelve film cans which he originally discovered in Jos, Nigeria. 
This photo was taken immediately after Phil had discovered the film cans and verified that the film reels inside matched what was on the labels. 
As you are no doubt aware, one of these film cans - the one containing Episode 3 of The Web of Fear - went missing in between when this photo was taken (in late 2011) and when the cans were delivered to the central collection point in Abuja, Nigeria. The location and fate of this film can is currently unknown.

An additional statement has also been released by Philip Morris himself:
The picture you see is one I took after checking the twelve Doctor Who film cans in Jos in 2011. All film leaders were checked to ensure the cans matched their contents, and this is a practice we follow in fine detail with due care shown. All programmes held at this station were physically checked by myself and my own team. No undue attention was drawn to the Doctor Who prints by myself or any of my staff, however I instructed one of my trusted team to ensure the Doctor Who prints were hidden until authorisation for retrieval could be obtained. 
However, two prints, The Web of Fear 3 and another spare print, were taken from one of my guys by a guy at the station who took the two prints to his office. This was reported to me within hours. I was not unduly concerned as I knew their location. I have to admit I was really excited and told somebody I thought would not leak any sensitive information - big big mistake. Within 4/5 days the station had been named online. Fortunately by this time our job was done, however what of Web 3? I physically searched Jos again and asked the guy who took the films where they were. Initially he denied all knowledge until I produced the picture - he just looked at the floor and said he put them back on the shelf. 
I didn't believe a word, and took the pictures and with one of my colleagues went straight to the top of the NTA [Nigerian Television Authority - Ed], however the guy simply denied it. That is until earlier this year when I returned to Nigeria. I met the same guy again so I asked him directly - he just laughed and said "I don't know anything about missing episodes". I firmly believe this episode is in the hands of a fan and we will trace it. I hope this goes some way to explain why I must maintain a certain level of security around TIEA and its work.


Both serials starred Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and were broadcast as part of Doctor Who's fifth series in 1967-8. Currently, 97 episodes from the 1960s are missing from the BBC's archives. 

With thanks to the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group
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Sunday, 11 October 2015

Review: Before the Flood

This review contains spoilers for the episode.


Often, Doctor Who uses two-part stories almost as if they were a springboard, bouncing off in a new direction halfway through. Think back to Dark Water and Death in Heaven, the two-part finale to last year’s series. The transition from one episode to the next brought with it a significant change in tone and pace – it was the same story and yet it was something very different. That more or less sums up Before the Flood, the latest episode of the 2015 series and the second part of a story which began a week earlier in Under the Lake. Whereas the first episode was a claustrophobic tale of an underwater base under siege from – seemingly – the walking dead, this week saw a trip in the TARDIS to a rather different setting. Oh – except it’s actually the same place and the whole “ghosts” thing hasn’t happened yet. Time travel, it’s complicated.

But before all that, in a pre-titles scene which is striking to say the least, the Doctor doesn’t break the fourth wall so much as shatter it into a thousand pieces, apparently talking directly to the viewer as he muses over the bootstrap paradox – if a time-traveller went back in time and provided Beethoven with the sheet music to his most famous works, who actually wrote the music in the first place? Paradoxes have been a key ingredient of many a Who script, not least in Steven Moffat’s time as showrunner, but it’s rather refreshing to see this particular concept addressed in such an on-the-nose fashion, giving it some impetus rather than treating it almost as if it were part of the wallpaper. The Doctor’s guitar is back too, and after proving so divisive among fans in the wake of the series opener, this scene probably won’t turn out all that differently. In fact, the pre-titles sequence as a whole is very much like a healthy dollop of Marmite. There probably won’t be a great deal of middle ground here – people are going to love it or hate it. (And in case you missed it, go back and take a look at the manufacturer of the amp…)


Before picking up the story from the end of the previous episode, Before the Flood has one more trick up its sleeve.  In an unusual move which is virtually unheard of for Doctor Who, the opening theme music is given an electric guitar makeover to tie in with the opening scene. An arrangement of the theme which is overtly intended as a one-off is rare enough in itself (the only precedent I can think of is the credits of the fiftieth anniversary special The Day of the Doctor), but to tie it in so closely with the narrative must be uncharted territory for the TV show. And do you know what? It actually works. It may only have been intended as a bit of fun, a joke even, but this rendition of the music has a sense of oomph – a kick to it – which is absent from the usual arrangement. With some tweaking, I honestly wouldn’t complain if it was brought back full-time.

From here onwards the story picks up exactly where it left off last week – but considering that it left off with the Doctor, O’Donnell (Morven Christie) and Bennett (Arsher Ali) taking a trip back in time in the TARDIS, that doesn’t necessarily mean very much! This is why the connection between the two parts of the story is so fascinating; Before the Flood very much inhabits the same world as Under the Lake, and yet it often feels like it exists outside of it. The Doctor has journeyed back to a time (1980, to be precise) before the army base flooded, in an effort to find some answers to the horrors unfolding in 2119. Despite the broader setting, one quality in particular from the first episode remains: this is still very much a character-driven piece. It doesn’t take long for the story to remind us all too vividly of our own mortality, as O’Donnell meets her death at the hands of the Fisher King (more on that in a moment). This sets up a fascinating and surprisingly dark scene in which Bennett gives the Doctor a few home truths. The Doctor is prepared to attempt to save Clara, but it appears he won’t do the same for anyone else. This brilliantly-played scene highlights the flaws of our hero, but sometimes we need moments like this to remind us that whatever he may look like on the outside, the Doctor is quite literally inhuman. Later, the episode goes a step further. The Doctor’s attempt to leave the village fails, as the TARDIS shunts itself further back in time by thirty minutes, locking the Doctor within his own timestream – and so our final glimpse of the “real” O’Donnell is a tragic shot of her standing on the doorstep of her own demise. Thus far in Peter Capaldi’s tenure as the Doctor, we have seen stories which often haven’t been afraid to slow things down a bit, with longer and more thoughtful scenes. We can expect this to be emphasised this year due to the two-part format employed by a majority of the stories, and that is evidenced here. With longer for the audience to become emotionally invested in the characters, scenes like this hit home that much harder.


But the standout scene of the episode has to be the incredibly tense sequence of Cass (a deaf character played superbly by Sophie Stone) being stalked along a corridor by the axe-wielding ghost of Moran (Colin McFarlane). Directorially, this scene does a superb job of conveying the world through Cass’ ears, building up to an inspired conclusion. Indeed, the story must be lauded for its inclusion of a deaf character in such a strong role, actively serving the narrative.

Praise must also go to the cinematography and grading, which is simply gorgeous. The desolate army base may not be the most visually appealing place in the universe, but it is given a sense of stark immediacy by how cold it looks. It feels as though you could almost reach out and touch it. Something which may have looked relatively simple on paper is made surprisingly evocative upon reaching the screen, and another nice touch is that the colour tones of the video grading are consistent with those of the base in 2119 – for all the apparent differences, there is an almost subliminal sense of continuity as we jump from one time to another. After all, it’s really the same place.


In this episode we finally meet the real villain of the piece, the Fisher King (its costume inhabited by Neil Fingleton, complete with the enthralling voice of Peter Serafinowicz and roars provided by Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor). One of the greatest strengths of the episode is the gradual build-up to the full reveal of this nightmarish creature. To begin with, the Fisher King is kept well and truly out of view, nothing more than a shadow. But over time and as more scenes elapse, we start to see more until – eventually – the monster steps out of the shadows and into clear view. It’s a perfectly executed reveal, and it works not because of the moment itself but because of the scenes leading up to it. This is proper, quintessential Doctor Who. As it turns out, the Fisher King is a very effective product of design and costuming, and it looks like a significant amount of work went into realising it. The costume only falls down slightly during the scenes set outside in broad daylight. Fundamentally the alien still looks fantastic, but when it’s stomping up to the spaceship the top section of its head wobbles rather noticeably. Additionally, one can’t help but feel that the Fisher King is ultimately underused. It is dispensed with a little too easily – and why exactly does it just walk away from the Doctor rather than killing him, when the Time Lord claims to have thwarted the Fisher King’s plan?

With so many unanswered questions raised by the first part of the story, Before the Flood had its work cut out. But thankfully, the episode doesn’t neglect to fill in all the blanks. It has to be said, though, that after such an elegant aura of mystery in Under the Lake, some of the resolutions to the various dangling plot threads here feel slightly cold and dry. It just about works, but it isn’t always as satisfying as it might have been. Perhaps the ghostly themes of the story could never have gelled perfectly with the rational parameters of the Doctor Who universe. It was always obvious that they couldn’t really have been ghosts – there had to be something else going on – but on maiden viewing there is the sense that something evaporates to some extent once the real answer emerges. Sometimes the question can’t help but be more captivating than the answer.


But overall, Before the Flood is a very enjoyable 45 minutes of television. Admittedly, the first episode of the story, while having some very clear strong points, wasn’t entirely my cup of tea – the claustrophobic “base under siege” style of storytelling isn’t always my sort of thing. But I had the sense from the trailer that this week’s episode might prove to be more down my street and happily, I was right. Heading outdoors prior to the base flooding really helped as a hook into the story as a whole, and this retroactively lifted the first episode in my estimation too. The provocative pre-titles scene will almost certainly prove controversial, but I can only speak for myself and I enjoyed it immensely. In an episode which was carried so heavily by its characters, it’s gratifying that the performances of the cast are all top-notch. So far, two stories and four episodes into this series, there is no clear story arc at play – there have certainly been hints dropped which no doubt will become important, but for now it’s enjoyable to see a run of stories which consists simply of the Doctor and Clara in the TARDIS having adventures. But as we know, that’s not going to last too much longer…

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Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Diary of River Song - Series One cover revealed by Big Finish

Big Finish has unveiled the cover art for The Diary of River Song Series One, its upcoming box set from the world of the revived Doctor Who.

Designed by Tom Webster and featuring Alex Kingston, Paul McGann, Alexander Vlahos and Samuel West, the new cover offers a glimpse of the much-anticipated series - including a first look at the dreaded SporeShips...

The five-disc box set sees River Song roam space and time on brand new adventures, while hot on the trail of the secret rulers of the universe.

The stories are as follows:



The Boundless Sea by Jenny T Colgan
Drawn out of self-imposed academic exile by an archaeological dig, River crosses paths with British Consul Bertie Potts - leading to a secret buried in a lost tomb...

I Went to a Marvellous Party by Justin Richards
River is invited to the most exclusive gathering; right in the middle of Hyperspace! Hosts Gifford and Isabella hold a connection to the mysterious Rulers of the Universe; but with a murderer on board, is River too late to discover the truth?

Signs by James Goss
River is on the trail of mysterious, planet-killing SporeShips. Her only aid is a handsome time-travelling stranger with a connection to her future - her husband, Mr Song.

The Rulers of the Universe by Matt Fitton
The Eighth Doctor is drawn into events, as River must contend with a secret society and a face-off with an ancient alien force - with her future husband caught in the middle!

Released in January 2016, The Diary of River Song Series One stars Alex Kingston, Paul McGann, Alexander Vlahos, Alexander Siddig, Imogen Stubbs, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Charlotte Christie, Alisdair Simpson, Oliver Dimsdale, John Banks, Letty Butler, John Voce, Aaron Neil and Samuel West. The box set can be pre-ordered via the Big Finish website.

River Song will also appear in March 2016's Doom Coalition 2, the second set in Big Finish's brand new saga of Eighth Doctor adventures. The series begins this Monday with Doom Coalition 1.

Source: Big Finish
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Series 9 Part 1 - Blu-ray & DVD cover

The finalised cover for the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release of Series 9 Part 1 has been revealed, marking a departure from the preliminary artwork shown last month. The release, due out on 2 November, contains the first six episodes of the 2015 series and three episodes of the behind-the-scenes mini-documentary series Doctor Who Extra.

All copies of the product ordered from BBC Shop will also include free art-cards, two of which have been revealed online by the retailer. These can be seen below:
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The Witch's Familiar - final viewing figures

The second episode of the 2015 series, The Witch's Familiar by Steven Moffat, achieved an official consolidated viewing figure of 5.71 million viewers in statistics released by BARB (the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board). This figure includes viewers who timeshifted the programme in the week following transmission.

Doctor Who was the 8th most-watched programme of the week on the BBC, and the 24th most-watched across the whole of UK television.

This episode's scheduling proved particularly controversial, with the BBC placing Doctor Who opposite the live England v Wales Rugby World Cup match on ITV, causing a significant dent in the former's viewing figures.

Source: BARB
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The Enemy of the World & The Web of Fear commentaries


After decades missing from the archives, the return of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear in 2013 was a highlight of Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary year. The rapid release of these stories meant that their DVDs were devoid of any extra material, which has now led to the development of Who Talk, a new project from Fantom Publishing.

With the help of the stars and crew of these two stories, and under the guidance of Doctor Who expert Toby Hadoke, Who Talk provides commentaries on all twelve of these episodes, over two CD releases or on digital download. These can be played simultaneously with a DVD or iTunes copy of the episodes themselves.

Left to right: Milton Johns, Toby Hadoke and Mary Peach

"Commentaries have long been a favourite part of my viewing of any of the classic Doctor Who DVDs," says producer Paul WT Ballard. "And we thought it was a huge shame to let these two brilliant stories pass under the radar, and set about gathering quite a stellar line-up to commentate on them."

Joining Toby Hadoke to discuss her memories is Deborah Watling, who played Victoria in both serials. The commentary for The Enemy of the World also includes guest stars Mary Peach (Astrid Ferrier), Milton Johns (Benik), Carmen Munroe (Fariah) and Bill Lyons (Guard). Meanwhile, The Web of Fear features contributions from Ralph Watson (Captain Knight), John Levene (Yeti) and Derek Martin (Soldier). From the other side of the camera, there are reminiscences from make-up artist Sylvia James and camera operator Roger Bunce.


"The only way we can make these and future releases viable is by fans supporting the project and buying copies, rather than bootlegging them," advises Paul. "Were there to be any future returns, and I'm sure we're all hopeful of that, then we would want to be able to look at repeating the exercise because it's a hugely culturally important one."

As Episode 3 of The Web of Fear remains missing, the commentary is provided by former BBC Archive Selector Sue Malden, who gives an insight into the history of wiping and archiving material, as well as the world of missing television in general.

Left to right: John Levene, Toby Hadoke and Sylvia James

These two releases will be published in November 2015, and are available for pre-order direct from Who Talk at a discounted price of £10.99 each.

Pre-order The Enemy of the World commentary
Pre-order The Web of Fear commentary

Please note:
These commentaries contain no BBC copyrighted elements and do not feature audio from the episodes themselves.

Source: Fantom Publishing
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