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...

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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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Friday, 9 October 2015

Big Finish announces War Doctor range starring John Hurt

John Hurt, the world-renowned star of film and television, is returning to the role of the War Doctor in twelve full-cast Doctor Who audio plays from Big Finish Productions.

The War Doctor was introduced for Doctor Who’s Fiftieth Anniversary in 2013, playing a key part in the record-breaking television special The Day of the Doctor alongside David Tennant and Matt Smith’s Doctors. He is the secret incarnation of the Time Lord - but he has shunned the title ‘Doctor’ in order to fight in the Time War against the Daleks.

“I have been a huge fan of John since first seeing him in the repeats of I, Claudius in the 1980s and in his Oscar-nominated role as the eponymous The Elephant Man," says Big Finish executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery. "Watching his performance in The Day of the Doctor I did find myself fantasising that some far off day we might have the chance to work with him on the audio adventures of Doctor Who and now two short years later it’s happened! John wove a fantastic character together from a great script by Steven Moffat. Now we have the chance to get to know that character more and hear John stretch in the role. We’re all in for a hell of a ride as the War Doctor engages in battle. But who are the greater threat - the Daleks or the Time Lords?”

The audio adventures of the War Doctor will be told over four box sets, each containing three linked hour-long episodes. The first box set is entitled Only the Monstrous and is written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, whose many successes for Big Finish include the BBC Audio Award-winning Dark Eyes.

“The story of the Doctor who refuses to call himself the Doctor in order to do the unthinkable upon the ultimate battlefield - all of space and time - was irresistible to me,” says Nicholas. “Such a deeply disturbing and engaging character created by the formidable talents of writer Steven Moffat and actor John Hurt. It’s such a privilege to be working on this.”

The cast of The War Doctor also includes Jacqueline Pearce, who plays Time Lord Cardinal Ollistra - an arch manipulator who is waging the Time War against the Daleks. Pearce’s work includes The Avengers, Callan, Moondial and Russell T Davies’ Dark Season, and she is known to many science fiction fans for her role as Servalan in the cult classic Blake’s 7. Pearce also starred in the Doctor Who adventures The Two Doctors, The Fearmonger and Death Comes to Time.

Only the Monstrous will be released in December 2015, and will be followed in February 2016 by the second volume, Infernal Devices, which is written by John Dorney, Phil Mulryne and Matt Fitton. Volumes Three and Four are currently in pre-production.

“What an utter privilege it is to work with such an iconic actor, playing such a brilliantly devised role,” says producer David Richardson. “This is Doctor Who at its darkest - the era in which our hero casts aside his core values in order to try and save the galaxy in its most terrible hour. We promise bold and brilliant story-telling with gripping character drama, and epic and cinematic audio productions.”

In addition to The War Doctor, November 2017 also sees a prequel box set to the saga, The Eighth Doctor - The Time War, which will follow the early stages of the Time War from the Eighth Doctor’s perspective. Paul McGann stars, alongside characters first introduced in The War Doctor box sets.

All four box sets of The War Doctor, plus The Eighth Doctor – The Time War, can be pre-ordered from the Big Finish website, priced £20 each on both CD and download. All five releases are also available in a single bundle for easy ordering. Pre-orders on CD have free UK postage, and anyone buying on CD through the Big Finish website gets access to the download version on release.

Source: Big Finish
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LEGO Doctor Who set revealed

Pictures and details have been revealed of a new LEGO Doctor Who set to be released in December.
From 1 December 2015, Doctor Who will be immortalised in LEGO brick form...

Construct a stunningly detailed LEGO version of the iconic TARDIS and role-play the Doctor’s time-travel adventures!

Created by fan-designer Andrew Clark and selected by members of LEGO Ideas (a crowdsourcing community where LEGO fans can submit their own ideas for new LEGO products), the set is based on the BBC’s popular and long-running television series about a Time Lord – the Doctor – exploring the universe in a blue police box. Due to trans-dimensional engineering, the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the outside and this cool multifunctional set includes the console room that houses all the controls.
Featuring an opening TARDIS, detachable interior console room, exclusive graphic details and steps, fans can regenerate the Doctor and defeat the evil Daleks or Weeping Angels with the help of his extraordinary companion Clara. Once the doors of the TARDIS are closed, prepare to launch into dimensions light years away from Gallifrey!

Measuring over 5” (14cm) high, 6” (16cm) wide and 9” (23cm) deep, the model contains 623 pieces to build an authentic replica. At £49.99 RRP, the set (#21304) includes four minifigures: the Eleventh Doctor, the Twelfth Doctor, Clara Oswald and a Weeping Angel, plus two Daleks and assorted accessory elements such as the Doctor’s signature Sonic Screwdriver.
A promotional video has been made available on the official Doctor Who YouTube channel:

With thanks to BBC Worldwide
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The Woman Who Lived - synopsis

The BBC has released the official synopsis for The Woman Who Lived - the sixth episode of the 2015 series, written by Catherine Tregenna.

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 episode will air on BBC One and BBC One HD on Saturday 24 October, at a time to be confirmed.

Source: BBC Media Centre
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The Girl Who Died - UK time confirmed

The BBC has confirmed the broadcast time of the fifth episode of the 2015 series, The Girl Who Died by Jamie Mathieson. The episode will air on BBC One and BBC One HD on Saturday 17 October at 8:20pm, a slightly earlier start than the two episodes preceding it. (This is most likely due to the gradually diminishing running time of Strictly Come Dancing - which is on-air immediately before Doctor Who - as more contestants are eliminated.)

Captured by Vikings, the Doctor and Clara must help protect their village from Space Warriors from the future: the Mire. Outnumbered and outgunned, their fate seems inevitable. So why is the Doctor preoccupied with a single Viking girl?

Source: BBC Media Centre
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Monday, 5 October 2015

Doctor Who Adventures Issue 7

Panini has released details for Issue 7 of Doctor Who Adventures:

It’s October and Something Wicked This Way Comes… in the form of the wickedest magazine in the universe – Issue 7 of Doctor Who Adventures. So prepare for a Halloween like no other with a huge celebration of monster mayhem!

Beauty Sleep
When the Doctor comes to visit Clara, he finds the whole school fast asleep. Either Clara’s class is the most boring experience in the universe or the planet is under attack from a Somnosian Invasion Force. Comic strip action from Jason Quinn, Russ Leach and John Burns!

Creating Evil
Get the low-down on Davros, dark lord of Skaro and creator of the Daleks!

Missy's Craft Studio
Missy has kicked Clara out of the craft studio and shows you how to make an all-purpose gadget of evil. You may not be able to stop the planes with it but you’ll have somewhere cool to store your pencils!

UNIT Alien Archives
Hack into the UNIT Alien Archives to find out more about the mysterious Shadow Proclamation.

Strax's Guide to Alien Races
This month, Strax gives you a lesson on some of the various alien threats the Doctor has faced over the years, including the Abzorbalovians, the Balhoonians and the Carrionites.

The Hunt for Davros
A cool game for two, you are racing across Skaro and have to get to Davros before your opponent!

The Paternoster Gang Investigates
Rik Hoskin brings you the chilling story of the Misery Diary that reduces Strax and Jenny to tears. Can Madame Vastra break its uncanny spell?

Doctor Who Adventures Issue 7 – Get ready for the freakiest Halloween ever!

Issue 7 comes with a massive double-sided poster and your own psychic paper, wallet and sonic screwdriver!

On sale Thursday 8 October, priced £3.99.

With thanks to Panini
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The Underwater Menace DVD cover and details

BBC Worldwide has released the cover and full details for the upcoming DVD release of the 1967 story The Underwater Menace. The previously missing Episode 2 of the story, recovered in 2011, is the last existing episode from the show's original run which is as-yet unavailable on DVD.

Featuring the inimitable Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor and packed with a wealth of unmissable extras, The Underwater Menace will be available on DVD from 26 October, priced at £20.42.

The Underwater Menace is the fifth serial of the fourth season, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 14 January to 4 February 1967. The story marks Jamie McCrimmon's (Frazer Hines) first journey with the Doctor as a travelling companion. This special release will contain the remastered existing Episodes 2 and 3, with the missing Episodes 1 and 4 represented with restored audio and surviving stills, as well as over an hour of extras.

Special Features

For Episode 1, interview with actor Michael Troughton. For Episodes 2 and 3, a commentary with actors Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines and Catherine Howe, special sounds supervisor Brian Hodgson and floor assistant Quentin Mann. For Episode 4, archive material featuring Patrick Troughton, directors Julia Smith and Hugh David, and producer Innes Lloyd. Moderated and linked by Toby Hadoke.

A Fishy Tale (28’ 30”)
Cast and crew look back on the making of the story. With actors Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines and Catherine Howe, assistant floor manager Gareth Gwelan, production assistant Berry Butler and new series writer Robert Shearman. Narrated by Peter Davison.

The Television Centre of the Universe – Part Two (32’ 10”)
Yvette Fielding continues her tour of BBC Television Centre in the company of actors Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson, with contributions from former colleagues along the way. With senior camera supervisor Alec Wheal, assistant floor manager Sue Hedden, former BBC producer and writer Richard Marson, exhibitions assistant Bob Richardson, production assistant Jane Ashford and videotape engineer Simon Anthony.

The Underwater Menace is available for pre-order at BBC Shop.

With thanks to BBC Worldwide
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Doctor Who Extra: Under the Lake

The BBC has uploaded new segments of the behind-the-scenes series Doctor Who Extra to YouTube, this time looking at the third episode of the 2015 series, Under the Lake:

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Friday, 2 October 2015

The 10 Christmas Specials on Blu-ray & DVD

BBC Worldwide has announced full details of The 10 Christmas Specials, a limited edition Blu-ray and DVD box set (originally reported by Unearthly last month) containing every festive episode of the revived series.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Doctor Who! The 10 Christmas Specials (released 19 October on Blu-ray and DVD) marks the tenth anniversary of the Time Lord’s return and contains all ten Christmas Specials, plus a set of five graphically illustrated Christmas cards, an exclusive bonus feature fronted by Rufus Hound and a souvenir booklet. In this action-packed box set, featuring Christmas Specials starring Tenth Doctor David Tennant, Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith and Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi, the Doctor must save the world from an array of monsters including killer Santas, the Sycorax, Racnoss, the Wooden King & Queen and the Dream Crabs.

The box set includes the following episodes:

David Tennant in
The Christmas Invasion
The Runaway Bride
Voyage of the Damned
The Next Doctor
The End of Time Parts One & Two

Matt Smith in
A Christmas Carol
The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
The Snowmen
The Time of the Doctor

Peter Capaldi in
Last Christmas

Bonus Feature:
Ten Christmases 
In this exclusive new feature, Rufus Hound journeys through Christmas past to show many of the greatest moments and monsters. Also includes personal reflections from Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat.

The box set can be pre-ordered from BBC Shop on Blu-ray and DVD.

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The Girl Who Died synopsis

The synopsis for the fifth episode of the 2015 series, The Girl Who Died by Jamie Mathieson, has been released by the BBC.

Captured by Vikings, the Doctor and Clara must help protect their village from Space Warriors from the future: the Mire. Outnumbered and outgunned, their fate seems inevitable. So why is the Doctor preoccupied with a single Viking girl?

The episode will air on Saturday 17 October on BBC One and BBC One HD, at a time to be confirmed.

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New Doctor Who products from Lovarzi

Three new officially-licensed Doctor Who garments are now available from Lovarzi:

Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) - Shorter Scarf

Our exclusively-designed Fourth Doctor Scarf... In a more manageable size!

Our original Fourth Doctor Scarf remains a bestseller, but we know some of you like to keep that just for conventions. That's why we've made this shorter version: perfect to show off your fan credentials on a daily basis and remind you to keep with you a teaspoon and an open mind!

It's still made of 100% premium quality acrylic yarn and comes in a special carry-case. It's still that iconic design, capturing the liveliness of Tom Baker's Time Lord. It's just shorter, so you can feel close to the world's longest-running sci-fi TV series whether you're on Skaro, Karn, Pluto, or plain old Earth!

  • 25 x 200cm
  • Made from premium quality knitted acrylic, so it's warm and soft
  • Comes complete in a zipper carry case

Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) - Knitted Tie

Our exclusively-designed tie is based on the Fourth Doctor's iconic scarf.

Over 40 years since it first appeared in 1974's Robot, the Fourth Doctor's scarf is as synonymous with Doctor Who as Daleks, Cybermen and the TARDIS. Complete with a gift box adorned with foil-printed Doctor Who logo, our exclusive Knitted Tie is made for those who want to show off their love of the world's longest-running sci-fi TV series.

This smart tie is a great companion to a sharp suit or stylish shirt, wherever you go, whatever the weather. Just make sure you've got some jelly babies with you too.

  • Made in Italy from 50% wool and 50% acrylic
  • Comes in a gift box adorned with foil-printed Doctor Who logo
  • Free UK delivery

Our officially-licensed BBC Seventh Doctor Hanky is great for collectors and cosplayers.

When Ken Trew designed the Seventh Doctor’s outfit in 1987, the BBC purchased about 20 red hankies which wrapped around his panama hat... and Sylvester McCoy stepped out in his now-iconic costume in Time and the Rani.

With Lovarzi’s Jumper and 100% Silk Scarf, this incredibly-detailed hanky finishes off the Seventh Doctor look perfectly for cosplayers and collectors alike.

  • Digitally printed onto 100% cotton
  • Made in Italy
  • Free UK delivery
  • 50 x 50cm
  • Presented in a special box emblazoned with foil-printed Doctor Who and BBC logos

With thanks to Lovarzi
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Thursday, 1 October 2015

Class - new BBC Three spin-off announced

BBC Three has announced Class, a new 8 x 45 minute Doctor Who spin-off from the acclaimed young-adults' author Patrick Ness. Class is a YA series set in contemporary London. Incredible dangers are breaking through the walls of time and space, and with darkness coming, London is unprotected. With all the action, heart and adrenalin of the best YA fiction (Buffy, The Hunger Games), this is Coal Hill School and Doctor Who like you've never seen it before.

Steven Moffat says: “No one has documented the dark and exhilarating world of the teenager like Patrick Ness, and now we're bringing his brilliant story-telling into Doctor Who. This is growing up in modern Britain - but with monsters!”

On his first television series, writer Patrick Ness says: "I'm astounded and thrilled to be entering the Doctor Who universe, which is as vast as time and space itself. There's so much room there for all kinds of amazing stories, and to work with Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin to find a place to tell one of my own has been an absolute joy. I can't wait for people to meet the heroes of Class, to meet the all-new villains and aliens, to remember that the horrors of the darkest corners of existence are just about on par with having to pass your A-Levels."

Damian Kavanagh, Controller of BBC Three adds: “We’re excited to give Patrick Ness this opportunity to work with us at BBC Three and the Doctor Who family. Patrick understands young audiences and I’m delighted he will use his incredible skills as a storyteller to delight audiences on BBC Three. BBC Three will always innovate and offer opportunities for brilliant new talent."

Polly Hill, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning adds: “I am thrilled that Patrick Ness is writing his first drama series for BBC Three. The combination of Patrick and Steven Moffat, is an exciting partnership that has created a brilliant Doctor Who spin-off for our BBC Three audience.”

Class is executive produced by Steven Moffat, Patrick Ness and Brian Minchin. It was commissioned by Damian Kavanagh, Controller of BBC Three and Polly Hill, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning. It is an 8 x 45 minute series produced by BBC Wales in association with BBC Worldwide for BBC Three.

The series will film in and around Wales from Spring 2016 for broadcast next year.

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