Welcome to the News & Reviews section here at Doctor Who Online! This is where you will find all the latest Doctor Who related news and reviews split up into easy to use sections - each section is colour coded for your convenience. The latest items can be found at the top, and older items follow down the page.

Archived news and reviews can be accessed by clicking on the relevant area on the News / Reviews Key panels to the right.

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15 October 2019

On 5th November 2019, the first ever business selling nothing but official, BBC-licensed Doctor Who merchandise will launch; The Time Meddlers!

Based in the UK, but offering worldwide shipping, The Time Meddlers will not only sell merchandise via their online store, but also at their stand in the heart of London’s Covent Garden Jubilee Market which will open the very same day!

As well as that, The Time Meddlers will be attending conventions across the UK, with plans to expand to Europe & beyond in the very near future.

25% OFF PRE-LAUNCH SALE

From today, fans can register for access to the pre-launch online sale, which will gain them access to the site a few days before its official opening, with a whopping 25% off of ALL products!

To register, simply head to www.timemeddlers.co.uk - enter your name and email address, and you will then receive details on how to gain access to the site for the pre-launch sale which takes place November 1st through November 3rd.

SAVING THE UNIVERSE, ONE PLANET AT A TIME...

The fact that every single product available from The Time Meddlers is BBC-licensed means that the factories in which goods are produced are audited by the BBC (i.e. conditions are safe, workers are paid fairly etc.). This is one of the key principals of The Time Meddlers - that everything is done ethically, sustainably, and as environmentally-friendly as possible.

Products are never individually plastic-wrapped, T-Shirts will be packaged in 100% recyclable cardboard packaging which The Time Meddlers have designed and developed with the manufacturer exclusively. Goods being sent out via mail order are also packed using recyclable materials.

THE TIME MEDDLERS THEMSELVES

The business is owned and run by Shane and Dylan, both experienced in the world of retail and fan events/conventions. 

Speaking on the businesses’ launch, Dylan said:

“Enjoying what I do is one of the most important things for me, and ‘The Time Meddlers’ fills me with so much enthusiasm. Our goal is not only to give Doctor Who fans exactly what they’ve needed for years (a friendly service and affordable merchandise), but also grow & rejuvenate the community for everyone to enjoy and be a part of what we are doing. My main focus is making our stands look incredible, fun and modern. The days of displays looking like something at your local boot sale or a charity shop are gone!”

Shane added:

“This isn’t just a business to us. We’ve been involved in designing and developing new products (which are currently in production), getting really hands-on, because we are fans ourselves. Our goal is to become a part of the fan community and even get the fans involved in what we do. They are our customers, and they know exactly what they want. We have big plans for The Time Meddlers, including a YouTube series which is actually in production as we speak, where genuine fans unbox, review and discuss our products. We’re also working on additional content, but we will announce more in due course! Our priority right now is getting the online shop up and running on time.”

The site is launching with a modest collection of around 50 pieces, and will expand and evolve as new stock arrives and the  business grows. 

You have until midnight, October 31st (GMT) to register for access to the 25% off pre-launch sale.

Once launched, customers will be able to pay using all major credit and debit cards, as well as Paypal.

+  Website: www.timemeddlers.co.uk
+  Facebook: facebook.com/timemeddlers
+  Twitter: twitter.com/timemeddlers
+  Instagram: instagram.com/timemeddlers

[Source: The Time Meddlers]

11 October 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: David Llewellyn

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: September 2019

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"63BC. Following the overthrow of Catiline, Cicero and his wife retire to the coastal town of Cumae, safe from the threats of Rome.

But when a stranger and his companions arrive at Cicero’s villa, new dangers lie in wait and Cicero finds himself plunged into a realm of gods and monsters.

His only hope of returning home lies with a man known as the Doctor. But can Cicero trust him?"

Every year, there is one month where Big Finish give us two main range releases at once instead of the usual solo effort. 2019 throws two historical pairings at our feet at the same time: the Doctor and Houdini in Harry Houdini’s War, and the Doctor and Cicero here in Tartarus.

I heard a few cynical rumblings when this play was announced along the lines of it being less a good idea for a Doctor Who play and more a good excuse for an extended advert for Cicero, Big Finish’s original series from 2018.

There is a decent enough Doctor Who story in here to silence the critics, in part because the series has taken elements of mythology and created a story from them before, as is the case here. It doesn’t necessarily feel overfamiliar though, partly because they’ve decided to buck this incarnation’s norms (Resurrection of the Daleks aside) and give Tartarus two episodes over 40 minutes in length each. It benefits this script, giving room for moments to really breathe and lending the tale a pace that’s gentle without being lazy.

I am not saying there isn’t an element of cynicism here, mind, and crossed fingers hoping people will jump from Tartarus to Cicero. Certain plot points clearly take their lead not just from history but from the series, and having the Doctor enthuse about how amazing Cicero is, while not out of character perhaps comes across as a bit too forced, ditto his arguments with him about who should be in charge and early scenes where the Doctor explains concepts from the future to him at a party. It’s the same with Nyssa and Tegan’s reactions to everything, and an observation and plot point about Adric’s death. It feels a tad like someone is trying really hard, and too self-consciously, to write ‘this is how they would react’ rather than creating something truly organic and true to the characters.

The ending of Tartarus points to more to come in, one presumes, a future trilogy. I’m not sure how keen or excited I am for this development, especially as it rather gives away the ending already. That said, I’m guessing the ending, as painted here, isn’t quite what it appears to be: and if it is, it’s almost identical to that which they’ve done before with post-Terminus Nyssa, which will seem a little lazy. Perhaps it will surprise me further down the line. Perhaps.

I do have to wonder. As of late, much of Big Finish’s output across its various ranges feels rather like we’ve seen this before, often riffing on something we have already had or filling blanks no-one really cared about and making a poor job of it. From Emissary of the Daleks to the sixth series of adventures for River Song to the fan fic slog that was Battle Scars, it feels utterly tried. Those are perhaps extreme examples of bad releases, but that weariness seeps in elsewhere more often than not nowadays, and that’s upsetting.

I genuinely hate writing reviews like these; so down and lacking in real joy or spark; I know people pour their heart and soul into writing words. But I also am not about to lie and pretend it’s all sunshine and roses, as it’s not. Every so often, we’ll be blown away by something really special or brilliant from Big Finish; The Master of Callous here, the genuinely touching Still Life there, the fun and atmospheric Krampus two-parter from Ravenous in the centre. It proves that there is life in the old dog yet, and exciting life it is, too. But with such releases few and far between, I do wonder how long it is before the well is truly dry.

Prove me wrong, Big Finish. I reckon, or at least I hope, that you can, because I know you’re brilliant when you really put your mind to it: you have been dozens upon dozens upon dozens of times before. It’s why I’m still going with you, all these years on. But perhaps I’m just tired of the increasing ‘that’ll do’ releases? And if I am, I’m sure I am not alone.

Prove me wrong. Please.


+ Tartarus is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


2 October 2019

54 years after the original BBC television broadcast, BBC Studios will premiere a new production of Mission to the Unknown, a missing Doctor Who episode that has been faithfully recreated by a team of students, graduates and staff of the University of Central Lancashire.

Mission to the Unknown will be premiered on the Doctor Who YouTube channel at exactly 5.50pm BST on the 9th October to mark the anniversary of the original broadcast of the episode, which was first aired on BBC One in 1965.

The episode will be followed by a making-of documentary short created by YouTuber Josh Snares featuring the cast and crew of Mission to the Unknown with voice of the Daleks, Nicholas Briggs, original cast member Edward de Souza and the classic Doctor Who companion Peter Purves (Steven Taylor) who played the companion to the First Doctor in the 1960s

Luke Spillane, Digital Publishing Manager for Doctor Who at BBC Studios, said:

“I’m delighted that we will be bringing the story of Space Security agent Marc Cory to our 1.3 million subscribers on the Doctor Who YouTube channel as it is such a fantastic recreation, made lovingly with real craft and expertise by everyone at the University of Central Lancashire. I hope audiences around the world can imagine that it’s tea time on the 9th October 1965 as they rather excitingly watch a black and white episode of Doctor Who premiere on their television sets, mobile phones and tablets.”

The project was master-minded by Andrew Ireland, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Digital and Creative Industries at the university, and brought together a dedicated group of students from a wide range of disciplines including film and television, acting, fashion, music, design and dance to recreate the episode from the original script as authentically as possible, carefully researching and reproducing as faithfully as possible the original 1960s production techniques to re-create the classic look of the series.

Andrew Ireland, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Digital and Creative Industries at the University of Central Lancashire, said:

“It is such a loss to our cultural heritage that so many episodes of 1960s Doctor Who are missing from the BBC archives. This project presented us with an exciting opportunity to address that, to explore a new way of bringing these missing slices of TV history to life, and in the process, help students learn their craft by comparing contemporary production methods with historical approaches. The project gave so many people great experiences, and it is wonderful to see the Daleks menacing a black and white jungle once more.”

The recreation caught the imagination of several Doctor Who luminaries including Nicholas Briggs, who has provided the Dalek voices for the recreated episode, and stars including Peter Purves, who played 1960s companion Steven Taylor, and Edward de Souza, who played Marc Cory in the original episode, visiting the new set to lend their support.

You can view the trailer in the player, below:


[Source: BBC Studios]

2 October 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Steve Lyons

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: September 2019

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"The world is at war, and Harry Houdini wants to fight for his adoptive country. He might get the chance, when an old friend crashes his New York show.

The Doctor is on the trail of a Central Powers spy ring, which has somehow acquired unearthly technology. But he is also keeping a dangerous secret...

Finding himself on the run behind enemy lines, the world’s greatest escape artist has to work out who he can trust – and fast."

Harry Houdini’s War is the final play in the latest Sixth Doctor and Peri trilogy. Despite being pushed as pre-Trial tales, the use of Dominic Glynn’s theme tune arrangement quickly suggests things aren’t all they appear with this play (either that or someone in post-production has dropped the ball), which is either a clever clue or a bit of a twist killer. The jury is undecided.

We start off slightly on the back foot then, and pre-publicity highlighting that Harry Houdini and the Doctor have met before in Smoke and Mirrors (a play that was one of the better parts of the Destiny of the Doctor series from 2013) it may seem a little off-putting: does one need to know that to enjoy this? Thankfully not, and indeed the relationship between the two men is the most enjoyable aspect of this release.

The combination of Houdini and the Doctor is a rather neat one: the illusionist who wowed the world with the person who saves it. As celebrity and Time Lord duos go, it certainly makes for an easier pairing than the ‘Doctor and Churchill’ one which has to skirt around and turn a blind eye to numerous issues and (ironically) politics to really work, and in the case of the two Big Finish series, also decent scripts and a full cast. I just hope Big Finish resist a trilogy with this pair or an ‘enhanced audiobook’ set: there’s a fine line between being intrigued to see more and seeing far too much. Even Houdini couldn’t work his magic on this.

Aside from the Houdini/Doctor partnership, there is some nice colour to this play. Educational titbits and facts concerning Houdini are dropped in neatly in a way that would make Sydney Newman happy, and I rather like the reason that’s given for why the Doctor seems to be fighting for the opposition. All this said, the script itself feels rather flabby at times, which makes the episodes’ running times feel lengthier than they are in actuality. There is also a strange thing in the first two parts where you reach a cliffhanger... and then it goes on for another scene or two before wrapping things up with a far less effective ending.

More bizarrely, the sound design for Harry Houdini’s War lacks the usual polish which Big Finish brings to the party. There is a scene that especially stood out which cuts from people in an aeroplane to people watching the aeroplane, with what is essentially a fading down of an aeroplane sound effect to denote the transition. I can see what they’re going for here, suggesting more of a pull-back shot than a hard cut between scenes, but it’s too subtle, lacking the visual immediacy audio needs to really sell the moment and creating a slower and messier picture in the mind accordingly.

In the end, perhaps that sums the play up: good ideas and nice intentions, but the finished product is lacking. As mentioned before though, there is mileage to be had with Houdini as an occasional guest star in these main range plays, certainly more than some returning elements or partnerships we’ve seen Big Finish delve into in the past. This particular play may not have the magic one wishes, but perhaps an encore can do it justice.


+ Harry Houdini's War is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


27 September 2019

BBC Studios has announced its first licensing partnership with the popular global brand specialising in customisable stuffed animals, Build-A-Bear, to create a new collection of plush, outfits and accessories based on the Doctor Who franchise.

This is the first time that Doctor Who plush are going to be offered at Build-A-Bear Workshop, with products launching online in both the UK and USA in 2020.

Doctor Who is one of the longest running sci-fi television series in the world, spanning 55 years and winning over 100 awards. This quintessentially British show has a proven track-record in consumer products and live entertainment with over four and a half million Sonic Screwdrivers sold in the past eleven years, over 13 million action figures sold since 2005, over 19 million DVDs sold globally and over one million tickets sold for live events.

Julie Kekwick, Senior Licensing Manager, BBC Studios said:

“We’re excited to be partnering with Build-A-Bear to create a collection that will appeal to fans of the show both young and old. Doctor Who has a huge following and with the launch of Series 12 early next year we’re looking forward to this new range launching online.” 

Anjali Khosla, Senior Manager of Brand Management, Build-A-Bear Workshop said:

“We are thrilled to partner with BBC Studios to bring the iconic Doctor Who franchise to Build-A-Bear Workshop. We look forward to sharing our version of this beloved story with fans and collectors around the world in early 2020.”

The announcement follows the news that Series 12 of Doctor Who is due to air in early 2020 and will see the return of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.

[Source: BBC Studios]

10 September 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Andrew Smith

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: August 2019

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"On the planet Omnia, a young man leads the Doctor and Peri through the battle-scarred ruins of a city. Among the rubble he shows them proof that their invaders and new masters, thought to be invincible, can be defeated. The proof is the blasted, burnt-out remains of a Dalek.

But this is a Dalek-occupied world like few others. For one thing, there are few Daleks to be seen. And for another, the Daleks have appointed an Omnian, Magister Carmen Rega, to govern the planet as their emissary.

Why are the Daleks not present in force? And can the Doctor and Peri risk helping the Omnians, when the least show of resistance will be met with devastating reprisals from space?"

There was a lot of buzz surrounding Emissary Of The Daleks, the latest play from Andrew Smith, when it was first announced. Rightly so, too, as the premise sounded very promising indeed: a world under Dalek rule which ticks along nicely, just so long as no-one rises up against them. As ideas go, it's a good one. Would you dare risk killing everyone if things are actually okay as-is?

There is a lot of potential there, with the Doctor and Peri in the role of possible antagonists. Do you risk it all just because they're Daleks, or accept the planet is fine right now with them in charge?

 

I was therefore excited to start this play, but that soon slipped into uncertainty and quickly into being unenthused. The trouble is, the premise is never really tapped into. Instead, we have a story we have seen a hundred times before. Daleks invade the planet; a well-meaning but ultimately flawed and foolish leader acts as human / Dalek liaison and does terrible things when trying to "do the right thing"; general population is terrified and live in fear and slavery; and the Doctor saves the day.

 

There was not one plot point or twist that I did not see coming at least two scenes earlier. Two of the cliffhangers involve screaming and what sounds like the death of the regulars… only they're fine. The character development and family relationships are as easy to guess as the plotting.

 

I really wanted to like this play, and there are definitely some good parts. I like the piece of Dalek mythology which Smith gives us, about how each Dalek sucker is as individual as a fingerprint. It ranks up with Trevor Baxendale's assertion in his novel Prisoner of the Daleks that Daleks could kill you quickly, they just choose to do it painfully, as good ideas that will be forever stuck in my mind as canonical now.

 

The story is something you've come across before, time and again, but the plot is at least free of holes, and whilst none of the characters made an impression, the cast have no weak links or performances on show.

 

Perhaps it's unfair to judge this play on what it is not, but what it is is so familiar as to be a bit dull. It may be told competently but I'm not sure you'd be able to call it exciting with any real sincerity.

 

As it stands, Emissary of the Daleks is by no means a disaster, but it's also entirely nonessential and overfamiliar to the brink of being boring. The buzz for the premise may be justified, but any for the execution is not.

 


+ Emissary Of The Daleks is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


3 September 2019

BBC Studios continues to offer Doctor Who fans the opportunity to build their own home archive on Blu-ray. Debuting on Monday 23rd December is Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 26; the acclaimed final season from the series’ original run, starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred.

The set includes four stories: 

BATTLEFIELD
GHOST LIGHT
THE CURSE OF FENRIC
SURVIVAL

In 1989, Doctor Who was on a creative high, with the Seventh Doctor and his companion Ace revitalising the programme for a new generation. Season 26 featured four epic adventures traversing a future Britain invaded by inter-dimensional knights, a strange Victorian house haunted by ghosts from Ace’s past, an alien world populated by Cheetah People and a 1940s army camp under siege from monstrous vampires.

With guest stars including Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Anthony Ainley (The Master), Jean Marsh, Nicholas Parsons, Anne Reid, Ian Hogg, Sylvia Syms and comedy duo Hale & Pace, this fondly-remembered set of stories saw the end of an era for Doctor Who, and set the stage for its hugely successful revival.

With all episodes newly remastered from the best available sources, this Blu-ray box set also contains extensive and exclusive special features including:

Rare Restored Extended Cuts
The Curse of Fenric VHS Extended Version The Curse of Fenric DVD Special Edition Battlefield VHS Extended Version Battlefield DVD Special Edition, plus

5.1 surround sound & isolated scores
On all 14 broadcast episodes, plus 5.1 sound on all extended versions of The Curse Of Fenric and Battlefield.

Behind the Sofa
New episodes with Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, plus companions Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Anneke Wills and Jodie Whittaker-era writers Pete McTighe & Joy Wilkinson.

Showman - the Life of John Nathan-Turner
A feature-length look at the life and career of Doctor Who’s longest-serving producer, who fought to keep the programme on-air during the 1980s. Contributors include Peter Davison and Colin Baker.

Making ‘The Curse of Fenric’
A brand new documentary featuring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Tomek Bork, Nicholas Parsons, Cory Pulman, Marek Anton, Ian Briggs, Andrew Cartmel, Mark Ayres and Ian Collins featuring unseen behind-the-scenes footage and photographs.

In Conversation
Matthew Sweet chats to companion Sophie Aldred.

The Writers’ Room
Ben Aaronovitch, Marc Platt, Ian Briggs, Rona Munro and Andrew Cartmel discuss their work on Season 26.

Becoming The Destroyer
Actor Marek Anton and prosthetics designer Stephen Mansfield recall the creation of one of Doctor Who’s best ever monsters.

Blu-Ray trailer
Sophie Aldred back in character as Ace.

Brand new Ghost Light extended workprint Unseen studio footage

Rare archive treats

Convention footage

HD photo galleries

Scripts, costume designs, rare BBC production files and other gems from our PDF archive

And lots more!

The seven-disc box set also includes hours of special features previously released on DVD.

+ PREORDER this title from Amazon.co.uk for just £39.99 (RRP: £56.16)!

 
[Source: BBC Studios]

2 September 2019

It is with deepest regret that DWO announces the passing of Classic Series Doctor Who Writer & Script Editor, Terrance Dicks.

This is genuinely one of the hardest news stories we have ever had to post on DWO, due to how much Terrance meant to us as fans, but also for his contributions to the site over the years.

Terrance's agents confirmed the news today, stating;

"The Agency is sad to announce that Terrance Dicks died last Thursday 29th August after a short illness, aged 84."

His first work on Doctor Who was in 1968 as Script Editor on the 2nd Doctor adventure, The Invasion. His first writing credit was on The War Games (1969), in collaboration with Malcolm Hulke. He then went on to continue serving as Script Editor throughout Jon Pertwee's tenure as the 3rd Doctor.

Other stories he contributed to the show include; Robot, The Brain Of Morbius (as Robin Bland), Horror Of Fang RockState Of Decay, and the 20th Anniversary adventure, The Five Doctors.

One of his greatest contributions to Doctor Who was in 1973 for Target Books as he adapted over 60+ televised episodes for novelisations. Many fans grew up reading these books, with some still in publication today for BBC Books. He also wrote a number of novels for the Virgin Doctor Who adventures as well as the BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures and BBC Past Doctor Adventures.

In addition to Doctor Who, Terrance's TV credits also include; The Avengers, Moonbase 3, Space: 1999 and Goodbye Mr. Chips (to name just a few).

For DWO, Terrance was kind enough to lend his time for interviews on the DWO WhoCast podcast - Episode #269 was a particular treat. He also gave his time to take part in the Ask & Answer section of the old DWO Forums.

DWO would like to extend our sympathies to Terrance's family and friends. We remain ever thankful to Terrance for all his contributions to Doctor Who; his stories stand the test of time, and will remain an important part of many a fan's childhood.

+ Do you have any memories you'd like to share? Please leave a comment, below! 

[Source: DWO]

8 August 2019

Over the past couple of days there has been a rather nasty rumour claiming that Chris Chibnall has sensationally quit the show mid-season, and with him, Jodie Whittaker.

DWO have received confirmation from a trusted BBC insider who has reassured us that these rumours are false. Further rumour also suggested there will be a press release today confirming the departures - this too is false and there will be no such press release coming today or anytime in foreseeable future.

We also want to take the opportunity to say how disheartening it is to see such vicious rumours appear. Chris isn't the sort of person to up and quit a show he cares so much about - especially mid-season, and likewise, Jodie wouldn't want to disappoint fans in this manner either.

Further to this, whilst there are some fans who may not like the current showrunner / Doctor choice, jumping on a hate-fuelled bandwagon simply throws shade a TV show that they claim to love. Doctor Who has a long, rich history - full of change. Whilst we all may have our favourites, we believe that supporting this show through all its many changes is something we should all be a little bit better at.

We have a wonderful fandom; truly wonderful - a wide-ranging mix of fans from all kinds of backgrounds. What an even better place it could be if we could pull together just that little bit more...

[Source: DWO]

16 July 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Roland Moore

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: July 2019

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"What if you’d committed a truly dreadful crime but couldn’t remember?

The Doctor takes Peri to the Memory Farm – a state of the art space station where hidden memories can be harvested and analysed. To their surprise, they find the station in lock-down and all its resources dedicated to probing the memories of an elderly man. Garius Moro may, or may not, have been responsible for the deaths of billions of people many years ago, but he simply can’t remember.

The assembled representatives of two opposing factions, each with their own agenda, anxiously wait for the truth to be unlocked from Moro’s mind. But when a memory does eventually surface, everyone is surprised to learn that it is of Peri..."

Following on the heels of the Mags trilogy, we see the return of Peri to the main range after several years’ absence. Rather than follow up the plot threads left hanging from her last, post-Trial trilogy, we are instead treated to a story set earlier in her timeline, though at times it feels even earlier than that.

Roland Moore’s debut story for the Big Finish main range, Memories Of A Tyrant is a bit of an odd beast in that it’s a Sixth Doctor and Peri story that feels entirely geared towards it being a Third Doctor and Jo story, complete with a fight scene, references to The Curse of Peladon and The Green Death, central ethical dilemma, and an old friend of the Doctor who helped free wrongly convicted aliens. It gives the entire play a slightly unusual feel, being simultaneously true to the show but not really true to the era. I wonder if perhaps it started off with a different TARDIS team in mind, or if they just wanted to try something different? Either way, it can be a little jarring at times.

This air of incongruity aside, it also happens to be an unusual play for other reasons. Its central premise is interesting: Garius Moro is a tyrant responsible for the murder of billions and he has finally been captured - or has he? No visual record of Moro exists, and the man captured has no memory of his past life whatsoever. There is, therefore, a question of morality at stake here. Is it right that a man utterly ripped of his memories should suffer a punishment for his actions, actions which he cannot recall committing and finds hard to believe himself capable of? And what if they have the wrong man?

The main issue with this play is that it dodges both these issues entirely, something not down to Moore who addressed this in his original script, but down to director, producer and script editor John Ainsworth, who according to the play’s extras insisted that they go unanswered, to better retain uncertainty. All this does is neuter Memories Of A Tyrant, robbing its exciting meat and bones of weight and making the ending feel unsatisfactory. It goes out of its way to dodge the moral quandary but that just raises more questions than it answers, namely why commission a play such as this if you don’t want to fully engage with its soul?

It’s a pity as overall Memories Of A Tyrant is a fairly enjoyable listen which gives Peri a lot to do, and Colin Baker is clearly having fun pretending to be a convict. Moore has hit upon an interesting issue, has written it as a Third Doctor tale, and has had his answers removed from on high. It makes for one of the strangest releases Big Finish have put out for a while now, and certainly a tricky one to grade.

I would like to try and take a leaf out of its book and cheat my memory. I would like to recall the happy cast and the good ideas this play has, ignoring the era uncertainty and production interference. I will not succeed; the execution looms large in my mind. But trying to do so, at least, feels the done thing.


+ Memories Of A Tyrant is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


16 July 2019

BBC Studios and Oculus will be teaming up at this year's San Diego Comic Con [18th-21st July] to give fans a chance to check out the brand new 'Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time' VR game, ahead of its launch this September.

The demo will be available at the BBC America stand (#4129), where fans can also see a full-size TARDIS! 

Published by PlayStack and developed by Maze Theory, Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time will transport fans into a globally-beloved world of aliens, mystery and wonder, letting them embark on a brand-new and fully-interactive adventure, inspired by the show’s 55-year history and starring the Doctor’s current incarnation, played by Jodie Whittaker.

Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time will launch in September 2019 on PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC VIVE and the upcoming VIVE Cosmos.

Watch the thrilling new trailer for the game in the player, below:


[Source: BBC America]

25 June 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Alan Barnes

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: June 2019

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"A space-time summons brings the TARDIS to the strangest place Mags has yet visited. A haven for the freakiest freaks and the weirdest weirdoes: Camden Lock, London, in the early 1990s.

But there's a reason why former TARDIS traveller Ace has brought the old gang back together. She’s on a mission to rescue an alien being, held prisoner in a massive mansion…

A mission that can’t possibly go wrong. Can it? "

An Alien Werewolf in London is the final story in this trilogy of stories featuring Mags, this time with Ace along for the ride. Believe it or not, that’s about all I can say without straying further into spoiler territory, so brief is the CD blurb. Keeping that in mind, what follows will contain spoilers so you may want to just skip ahead to the score without context or read this after listening.

With that in mind, let’s carry on. Werewolf is a slightly weird release; on the one hand, there is much to praise: it’s a decent enough plot, using time travel and double-bluffing rather well and the title is an amusing enough pun. In short, it’s an entertaining enough play that doesn’t feel like it has ever outstayed its welcome, despite episodes running over the 30 minute marker. The continual pop cultural references don’t really work, mind, not feeling true to the era, and the music utterly swamps everything, relying on only a couple of cues over and over again, an issue I had last month, too. The direction feels a bit off, too, with notable pauses between lines at times that kills the flow dead.

Enemy-wise, we’re back in one of Doctor Who’s favourite territories: vampires. Okay, so they don’t like to be called vampires, but we all know what they are. I suppose there was a certain inevitability about vampires and werewolves coming together in the end, but it’s done fairly well here.

Sadly though, the issue that has plagued this trilogy since the start is here again: just who is Mags beyond “I’m a werewolf and I’d rather not be”? I still don’t know, three plays and a television story in.

I mentioned in previous reviews for this trilogy that Mags was essentially a well-acted plot point back in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, and though the plot point has changed now (from “I am trapped and secretly a werewolf” to “I am a werewolf and I feel trapped”), I do not know her character. She wants a cure and feels like an outsider because she changes but, again, that’s not really a great deal to go on. That’s the sketchy, one-sentence pitch to potential writers.

Alan Barnes, the play’s writer and the outgoing script editor for most of the main range, says that bringing back Mags was always on his “to do” list, but I’m still unsure just why he was. On paper, a werewolf looking for a cure could be fun, but it strikes me as fuel for a spin-off comic book series instead of a great idea for an ongoing companion.

Nothing in this trilogy had persuaded me otherwise. Jessica Martin puts in her best performance as Mags by a mile here in this play, and we end not with a conclusion but a potential continuation of the storyline, only I’m not sure ‘continuation’ is the right word. We haven’t moved anywhere. We end up how we started, only with Mags in the TARDIS instead of on a planet.

In the end, I just feel torn. The opening and closing plays of the trilogy are enjoyable enough; enough to ensure this one gets a healthy score out of 10, despite my niggles with the direction and music, but that one word keeps coming back to me: why?

Why bring Mags back? Just who is this trilogy for: what is the audience Big Finish are aiming for? I’m utterly baffled.

Mags, we hardly knew thee. I’m not sure any of the writers really did, either.


+ An Alien Werewolf In London is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


21 June 2019

To celebrate the return of Doctor Who in early 2020, BBC Books will publish Star Tales; a unique collection of name-dropping historical adventures inspired by Jodie Whittaker’s first series as the Doctor.

The Doctor is many things – curious, funny, brave, protective of her friends... and a shameless name-dropper. While she and her companions battled aliens and travelled across the universe, the Doctor hinted at a host of previous, untold adventures with the great and the good: we discovered she got her sunglasses from Pythagoras (or was it Audrey Hepburn?); lent a mobile phone to Elvis; had an encounter with Amelia Earhart where she discovered that a pencil-thin spider web can stop a plane; had a 'wet weekend' with Harry Houdini, learning how to escape from chains underwater; and more.

In this collection of new stories, Star Tales takes you on a rip-roaring ride through history, from 500BC to the swinging 60s, going deeper into the Doctor's notorious name-dropping and revealing the truth behind these anecdotes.

The book will feature 6 brand new stories, detailing the Doctor's untold adventures with famous figures in history - Audrey Hepburn, Elvis Presley, Harry Houdini, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein and Pythagoras, written by Steve Cole, Jenny T Colgan, Jo Cotterill, Paul Magrs, Trevor Baxendale and Mike Tucker.

For those who can’t wait until 5th December, two chapters will be available for download as e-shorts a month prior to publication. 

+  Doctor Who: Star Tales is released on 5th December 2019, priced £12.99.
+  PREORDER this title at Amazon.co.uk!
 

[Source: Penguin Random House]

18 June 2019

BBC Studios continues to offer Doctor Who fans the opportunity to build their own home archive on Blu-ray. The first jam-packed release for Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor, Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 23, debuts on Monday 23rd September.

In 1985, Doctor Who was taken off the air for an 18 month hiatus. When it returned, it was with an ambitious fourteen-episode adventure, The Trial of a Time Lord. The epic story saw the Doctor on trial for his life, with the court examining his adventures with companion Peri (Nicola Bryant) and looking to his future escapades with new companion Melanie (Bonnie Langford).

This season saw the return of popular villain Sil, along with the Master, the towering robot Drathro and the plant-based Vervoid monsters. With the Inquisitor (Lynda Bellingham) overseeing the proceedings, it was the Valeyard (Michael Jayston) who proved the greatest threat, hiding his own sinister motives for wanting the Doctor’s downfall.

With all episodes newly remastered from the best available sources, this Blu-ray box set also contains extensive and exclusive special features which include:

+ Extended edits - of all fourteen episodes
+ Terror of the Vervoids - four-part standalone edition with updated Fx
+ Immersive 5.1 surround sound & isolated scores - on all 14 broadcast episodes
+ Behind the Sofa - new episodes with Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Bonnie Langford, Mark Strickson, Frazer Hines and Matthew Waterhouse
+ The Writers’ Room - Eric Saward, Philip Martin, Christopher H Bidmead & Waly K Daly discuss the ‘Lost’ Season 23
+ The Doctor Who Cookbook Revisited - brave cast members tackle their original recipes from the 1980s official cookbook
+ The Doctor’s Table - join Colin Baker and friends for dinner
+ In Conversation - Matthew Sweet chats to companion Bonnie Langford
+ Unseen studio footage
+ Rare archive treats
+ Convention footage
+ Blu-ray trailer
+ HD photo galleries
+ Scripts, costume designs & more in the PDF Archive

The six-disc box set also includes hours of extensive special features previously released on DVD.

View the announcement trailer for the box-set in the player, below:


Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 23 stars Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Bonnie Langford with Michael Jayston and Lynda Bellingham. Guest appearances include Anthony Ainley, Nalbil Shaban, Joan Sims, Christopher Ryan, Michael Craig, Honor Blackman, Tony Selby and Geoffrey Hughes.

+ PREORDER this title from Amazon.co.uk for just £38.99 (RRP: £56.16)!

[Source: BBC Studios]

12 June 2019

Character Options is delighted to announce a new series of exclusive Doctor Who toys that will be available later this summer from local B&M stores (UK variety retailer). Full details of the product line-up (with images) will be revealed in the coming weeks but here’s a small taster of what will be available.

Fans of the Doctor’s Sonic Screwdrivers will be able to get their hands on a heritage set of three popular incarnations. The new blister-pack series will include electronic versions, inspired by the 50th anniversary episode, of the Tenth, Eleventh and War Doctor’s sonics.

For action figure fans, Character Options presents a set of three unique Doctor & Dalek Twin Packs, inspired by the Doctor Who audio series from Big Finish. This includes a brand new take on the Eighth Doctor, plus the Dalek Interrogator Prime, as featured in Big Finish audio book story In the Garden of Death. The two additional Doctor and Daleks sets to be released from this range will feature the Seventh and War Doctors respectively.

This year there will be not one, but two new TARDIS & Doctor sets released, each with a completely new take on both the Doctor and the blue box, inspired by adventures spanning the 1970s and 1980s. 

To complete the summer line-up there are three brand new collector sets with a range of three figures in each, inspired by the Classic adventures of the Second, Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors.  

Al Dewar, Creative Director at Character Options commented:

“We are delighted to announce this first taster of what’s to come from our B&M stores Doctor Who toy range. To reveal the visuals of these brand new products, we plan to do a full unveiling live, which will take place ‘unboxing style’ on Character Options’ own Youtube channel in July; details of the time and date will be announced."

[Source: Character Options]

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