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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6 October 2015

LEGO® Ideas have unveiled the brand new Doctor Who TARDIS set where fans can role-play the Doctor’s time-travel adventures!

Created by fan-designer Andrew Clark and selected by LEGO Ideas members, 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 2 Daleks and assorted accessory elements such as the Doctor’s signature Sonic Screwdriver.

Check out DWO's exclusive unboxing & product spotlight of the set in the video, below:

+  Fans can PREORDER the set shortly from the LEGO Shop, priced £49.99

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

5 October 2015

BBC DVD have sent DWO the DVD cover and details for the upcoming 2nd Doctor release of 'The Underwater Menace'.

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

Special Features:

·  Commentary - For episode 1, Interview with actor Michael Troughton Part 2 (from Ice Warriors). 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 (Feature, dur. 28’ 30”) – cast and crew look back on the making of the story. With actors Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines and Catherine Howe, AFM Gareth Gwelan, production assistant Berry Butler and new series writer Robert Shearman. Narrated by Peter Davison.

·  The Television Centre of the Universe – Part Two (dur. 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, AFM 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 released on 26th October, priced £20.42.
+  PREORDER The Underwater Menace DVD from BBC Shop for just £13.99!
+  Discuss all the Doctor Who DVD releases in the DWO Forums.

[Sources: BBC Shop]

5 October 2015
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In December 2015, the Time War will rage and only one man can save us. John Hurt is The War Doctor!

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 by Big Finish.

The War Doctor was introduced for Doctor Who’s Fiftieth Anniversary, and played 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.

Big Finish executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery says:

“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. 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 masterpiece Doctor Who: Dark Eyes.

Nicholas Briggs says:

“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. 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. Jacqueline’s work includes The Avengers, Callan, Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time, 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.

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.

Big Finish Producer, David Richardson says:

“What an utter privilege it is to work with such an iconic actor, playing such a brilliantly devised role. 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, Doctor Who: 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.

[Source: Big Finish]

2 October 2015

BBC Three today announces Class - a new 8-part, 45 minute Doctor Who spin-off from the acclaimed young adult 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, 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 storytelling 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 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 Moffatt, Patrick Ness and Brian Minchin. It was commissioned by Damian Kavanagh, Controller of BBC Three, and Polly Hill, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning.

An 8x45 minute series is produced by BBC Cymru Wales in association with BBC Worldwide for BBC Three.

The series will film in and around Wales from Spring 2016 and be on air next year. 

Since the announcement broke, Patrick Ness has confirmed that the show will also be broadcast on BBC One:

Fan reaction appears to be generally positive, but some fans have taken to Twitter sharing their dissatisfaction at the premise. Fans took particular umbrage in the way the BBC teased the announcement before 11pm last night.

DWO Verdict:
Wait until the show airs - as Doctor Who fans, there was a time we would have grabbed anything available with both hands. Let's show Class the support it deserves and come together as fans instead of fragmenting over something we have very little information about.

For the BBC to have invested in the spin-off, shows immense trust and commitment to the brand, in a time when cuts and cancellations are at the forefront of news. It also shows trust and commitment to the spin-off itself, so, to bookend our 'verdict', lets wait until the show airs.

[Source: BBC Press Office]

29 September 2015

DWO’s Spoiler-free preview of Episode 9.3: Under The Lake:

Having kicked off Series Nine with two weeks of Dalek action, gorging us with Daleks from all eras, Davros, Missy, UNIT, Skaro, and everything else, you might wonder just how the series plans to ramp it up from there. The usual format is to start small and then build week-on-week until you're given a feast of those proportions in the series finale, enough to keep you happy during the long break between seasons. When you start the year on such a high, it's tricky to top it.

Cleverly, the team haven't tried to top all of that with this week's episode. It sees the return of that Doctor Who staple, the 'Base Under Siege', presents us with a claustrophobic setting and a finite cast, and let's us take a moment to breathe.

That's probably the best way to describe Under The Lake - after two packed weeks, with more and more elements being presented to us with every twist and turn, this story allows us to catch our breath for a moment, and really get our teeth into a proper mystery. The Doctor and Clara have arrived at an underwater base in Caithness, Scotland, 2119, where the research crew have discovered an in identified craft on the lakebed. The remote location feels all the more isolated when the crew start being picked off one by one, and return from the dead to take out their former colleagues.

In the past, Doctor Who has always taken a fairly firm line when it comes to supernatural elements such as ghosts; there's always a scientific explanation behind these things. It's rather brilliant, then, to see the Doctor so thrilled by the prospect that he might have been wrong all along, and that death really is just the start of a new adventure. Once again, Peter Capaldi simply shines in the lead role. His incarnation of the Time Lord has struck the perfect balance this year, between a man who can be jolly and frivolous, and yet being totally oblivious to the people around him, and their feelings. Jenna Coleman's Clara is, therefore, totally perfect for him - their relationship really is best summed up by paraphrasing last year's Into the Dalek; she cares so he doesn't have to. Watching them bounce off each other here is a real joy, especially when they're allowed to share some quiet moments alone, and in years to come I think they're going to be looked on as a real golden pairing, in the same way as Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen, or Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred are now - a Doctor and Companion totally made for each other.

It's not just our regulars who shine in this episode, though. The small crew of the base all have their own distinct personalities and characteristics. Writer Toby Whithouse has clearly spent time thinking each character through, and ensuring that they're always true to form, so that even those who perhaps don't make it out of this episode feel fleshed-out. Perhaps the best example comes in the form of the base's deaf surrogate leader Cass (Sophie Stone) and her sign language interpreter Lunn (Zaqi Ismail). Though Lunn spends much of his time translating for us (and the Doctor - he doesn't do sign language in this incarnation, but he can do semaphore, if you've some flags to hand), he still has his own distinct personality which shines through.

A strong start to our second two-parter of the year, and with enough intriguing mysteries left to keep you glued next week...


Five things to look out for:

1) 'Keep calm, Doctor. You were like this when you met Shirley Bassey...'

2) Spaceship, or prototype weapon?'

3) The return of a Matt Smith-era alien.

4) 'It was my fault. I should have known you didn't live in Aberdeen'

5) 'Was it something she said? She does that. She once had an argument with Gandhi.'

[Sources: DWO, Will Brooks]

24 September 2015

Despite the new series of Doctor Who only airing last week, there is already much online speculation about the new companion the Doctor will have with him in the 10th series after news that Jenna Coleman is due to depart mid series to star in a new ITV period drama about Queen Victoria. Let’s have a quick look at who could be accompanying the Doctor on his travels next series:

Having checked Betway’s special section, you can see that currently favourite to take up this role is Maisie Williams. Maisie has already found worldwide fame as Ayra Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones Series, this article on BBC America shows Maisie on set and confirms her appearance in the show, but doesn’t give away any details about what role she may be playing?

Faye Marsey was a popular hit in the 2014 Christmas Special as Shona, Marsey was quoted in a recent interview as saying she would love to return to Doctor Who: "And Peter Capaldi I totally fancy. I would snog his face." However, we cannot find anything other than this interview to suggest that she is returning to the show 

Eleanor Tomlinson is another popular choice to return to the show. She took up the role of Eve in episodes 1 and 2 of the 2009 Dr Who series. Tomlinson is a popular favourite according to the odds given on this option but I can’t find any interviews or news articles to suggest that she is returning either. Since the popularity of the BBC series Poldark in which she stars, this has been commissioned for a second series which will probably see Tomlinson quite busy for the foreseeable future however, that doesn’t mean we can rule this possibility out entirely. This article by OK magazine looks at the current odds being offered by another website and looks at Tomlinson’s odds, against one of the current favourites Michelle Keegan. Keegan has been tipped by bookies as the favourite after the 1st episode of the new series failed to make quite the impression that other series have had. It is suggested that producers have signed Keegan up to the show to boost the sci-fi drama and give it a new lease of life following the disappointing start. It has even been suggested that producers are worried that Peter Capaldi will jump ship after Jenna Coleman’s announcement to leave however, Capaldi has spoken out in the press about his love of Doctor Who, as a child he was so enthusiastic about running the Doctorr Who fan club that the production staff wanted to “exterminate him” as he wanted was pushing them to become more involved with the fans and offer in-depth explanations to diehard fans regarding the shows content, while the production staff had pushed this back to the fan club so they could get on with making the show. Considering this I don’t think that one person’s decision to leave will affect Capaldi’s work within the show. 

You can keep checking the latest odds for the Doctor’s new Companion or keep checking back here for all the latest Doctor Who news.

[Source: Superserp]

24 September 2015

Character Options has today unveiled details of a brand new Limited Edition Doctor Who 5.5” scale action figure. Images of the Missy figure, first in a new range of scale Doctor Who Collector Series toys, were revealed by Alasdair Dewar, Product Development Director, today via video on the Character Options’ website.

Missy, played by Michelle Gomez, is a villainous Time Lady who recently revealed herself as the Doctor’s arch enemy, the Master! Missy has been firmly established as a new fan favourite character, and as a collector’s figure, she is truly a must have.

The Missy figure will be available in two variants; a purple outfitted version with hat from the series finale episodes; and alternatively in her ‘Heaven’ outfit, hatless with black jacket and manic grin. The Missy figures each have 18 points of articulation and are highly detailed and decorated. Each figure head can also be swapped so that both heads can be incorporated with either outfit, and they both come with accessories. The bespoke UK Collector Series packs are perfect for display and for the first time are re-sealable, so that the figures can be enjoyed in or out of packaging without losing their collectability.

Only 4,000 units of each of the two figures are available in exclusive UK packaging at www.character-online.co.uk for the price of £19.99 each (excluding P&P). Delivery will be made to customers by early November.

Al Dewar states:

“Character Options has been designing, manufacturing and marketing Doctor Who toys since 2005, so as true fans of the brand we wanted to tell collectors the latest news in the most direct, if informal way, which is why I made the announcement in person not he website. Missy is the first of a potential new line of highly sought after 5.5-inch action figures so we expect interest to be high and we are all very excited to share this with fans and collectors alike.

Working with Michelle Gomez was great fun and she was the best subject we ever 3D scanned, patiently holding her facial expressions including her trademark Missy “sneer” for long periods of time. We know that many collectors have been eagerly waiting to see if Missy would at some point be included within our figure range, and at last, here she is.”

+  PREORDER the Missy in Purple outfit figure from Character Options, here
+  PREORDER the Missy in Black outfit figure from Character Optionshere!  

[Source: Character Options]

23 September 2015

Publisher: Hachette Partworks / Panini Magazines

RRP: £1.99 (Issue 1) / £6.99 (Fortnightly)

Release Date: September 2015

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 23rd September 2015

From the team who brought you the hugely popular Doctor Who Magazine, as well as the team behind some of the most successful partworks on the market, comes a truly fantastic collectable magazine and book series called 'Doctor Who: The Complete History'.

Issue 1 hit our desk this morning, and we were immediately blown away by just how jam-packed full of information and facts the first book was. Issue 1 comes with Volume 55, which looks at five David Tennant / 10th Doctor adventures (Gridlock, Daleks In Manhattan, Evolution Of The Daleks, The Lazarus Experiment & 42).

The book series is hailed as the 'definitive guide to the making of Doctor Who' and it lives up to every letter of that tagline. There are some truly beautiful illustrations and images to be found throughout. 

In addition to the book, you get a mini pull-out magazine with Issue 1, which includes a timeline of The Doctor and a short bio on each Doctor. The magazine opens out to a gloriously huge poster of Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution Of The Daleks.

Kudos to everyone involved; particularly John Ainsworth (Editor) Lee Johnson (Story Montages) and Paul Vyse (Designer), whose combined efforts (as well as the extended team) have delivered this exciting new collection that every fan of the good Doctor should own!


to Doctor Who: The Complete History at:

19 September 2015

DWO’s Spoiler-free preview of Episode 9.2: The Witch's Familiar:

The Doctor's trapped - a prisoner of Davros in the city of the Daleks. His two best friends in all time and space - Missy and Clara - have both perished in the cold blast of exterminations, and the TARDIS has been destroyed. As first adventures of a new series go, the Doctor's not having a particularly good day, is he?

If you think that the series is going to go easy on us after that opening, though, you'd be wrong. The Witch's Familiar continues to take the knife and twist it in the Doctor ever further, playing on his grief over abandoning the child Davros out on the battlefields of Skaro, and using his compassion to engineer possibly the biggest mistake the Time Lord has ever made.

As with the first episode of this story, it's tricky to tell you very much without giving the game away. You don't want to know how the Doctor escapes Davros' clutches (though trust us when we say it is brilliant - even if Davros might struggle to see the funny side), or what lurks in the sewers beneath the Dalek City, biding time until revenge can be enacted. It's another episode which works all the better simply if you watch the doors in the city slide slowly open on each revelation.

What we can say is just how brilliant it is to have Julian Bleach back as Davros once again. Whereas The Magician's Apprentice confined him to a deathbed, this episode gives him a chance to really *live* again, and there's some lovely flashes of the mania he displayed back in Journey's End. There's very few privileges in Doctor Who greater than watching Peter Capaldi's Doctor and Davros slowly counter each other, playing a great game of chess with the Daleks, and ancient Time Lord secrets, as the pieces. It's quite easy to believe with this pair that they could have, in another life, been the very best of friends, and it's great to see them given so much screen time.

Also given a turn in the spotlight this week are the classic Daleks. Fans who were disappointed when 2012's Asylum of the Daleks left them as largely background cameos will no doubt be far happier with this - even the Special Weapons Dalek gets a chance to shout a bit! How very Dalek!

Five Things to Look Out For;

1) A character gets to pay homage to a sequence from the very first Dalek story from 1963.

2) Why did the Doctor *really* leave Gallifrey, all those centuries ago?

3) 'Where did he get the tea? I'm the Doctor. Just accept it.'

4) How does the Doctor always manage to win?

5) Mercy.

[Sources: DWO, Will Brooks]

18 September 2015

The BBC has now officially confirmed that Jenna Coleman will be leaving Doctor Who at some point during Series 9.

Below is the official line from the BBC:

"However, it’s not been revealed exactly when Clara leaves and the question many are already asking is how will she part company with the Doctor?

Jenna Coleman made her Doctor Who debut on 1 September, 2012 as Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks. She returned on Christmas Day of that year, playing Clara and remained with the Eleventh Doctor from the following episode, The Bells of Saint John, onwards. She stayed on board the TARDIS for all of Peter Capaldi’s episodes to date and after filming for the last series finished, Peter commented, ‘Jenna has been absolutely brilliant. I think she’s wonderful in the show, and she’s my favourite companion.’

But Series 9 sees the Impossible Girl’s departure although the how, why and when are all questions we’ll have to watch the new adventures to find out…"

Earlier this week, The Mirror reported that Jenna has filmed her final scenes, and that they will be in the Christmas special.

Series 9 of Doctor Who airs this Saturday at 7:40pm on BBC One

[Source: BBC Doctor Who Website]

16 September 2015

BBC News have posted a news item, stemming from an original story by The Mirror that Jenna Coleman will leave Doctor Who this Christmas.

The report, which has yet to be confirmed by the BBC, states that Coleman has quit the role after landing a major role as Queen Victoria, in a £10Million drama for ITV.

It goes on to state that Coleman has already filmed her final scenes for the as-yet Untitled 2015 Doctor Who Christmas Special. 

The news may very well be true, and the timing would certainly be the expected stepping off point for Clara, but until the BBC have confirmed it, it's important to remember these are still just rumours.

[Source: BBC News]

12 September 2015

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Mike Tucker

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: August 2015

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 12th September 2014

The Doctor and Mel land in what appears to be an orbiting warehouse, a delivery facility with a dangerously erratic computer.

Whilst Mel is helping with repairs, the Doctor begins to realise that not everything in the warehouse is as it seems. Why do no goods ever seem to leave the shelves? Why are the staff so obsessed with the stocktake? And who is the mysterious Supervisor?

On the planet below, the Doctor discovers that the computer might be the least of their problems – and that they should be more concerned with the spacestation's mould and vermin...

* * *
So, here’s my confession about Season 24: I was lucky.  I was lucky, because I watched it at exactly the right time, at the age of around ten-years-old when the stories from that season were being repeated on the satellite station UK Gold (yes, yes, I’m that young).  As a ten-year-old child, I absolutely loved those stories: bright, colourful, silly but with some great ideas, light in parts and sad at others, I thought it was great, and whilst I was not blind to the jolt to Season 25 being abrupt in tone and look, I honestly did not care. The stories made more sense than most of The Trial Of A Time Lord did to me, McCoy was arresting in the lead role, and I could relate to Mel in the same way I failed to with some other companions in the 1980s: she just wanted to be there and have fun.  She didn’t want to secretly kill the Doctor; she wasn’t part of a grander scheme; she lacked a tragic death in the family. She was just fun, and so was the Seventh Doctor, and at that time in my life, as a child, it was exactly what I wanted to see.

Now, as an adult, with greater critical faculties (or so some would argue), I can see the weaknesses of Season 24, and sure, I can understand why people were so aghast at the time (to an extent: Doctor Who is, so far as I’m concerned, a children’s TV show and always will be) but I still like that fresh, comic book feel and tone, despite its failings, and so I was dead excited when I started listening to The Warehouse, this month’s Big Finish offering from Mike Tucker.

Set in… well, a warehouse and using everyday language such as points, loyalty cards and aisles with a ting of cultism and religiosity, the set-up is perfectly in keeping with the on-screen adventures of the Seventh Doctor and Mel. Perhaps it’s the fact Tucker was there at the time which lends proceedings an air of genuine authenticity, or maybe it’s just a rollicking good script, but this could have been done at the time with few, if any, changes.

Where it would sadly have been changed is in the characterisation of Mel as she actually gets a lot to do that doesn’t resort to her getting captured, screaming or requiring rescuing. It did tickle me, though, to listen to the extras for this tale, and how everyone seems to be enthusing that Mel never gets to do much computer programming in these plays… straight after We are the Daleks and after stories such as The Juggernauts in the past, which made a great song and dance about her skills in this field!

Sadly, there is also an enormous sense of déjà-vu about proceedings as the set-up is incredibly similar to another Mel outing from Big Finish, the play Spaceport Fear: substitute an airport becoming the basis for a society for a warehouse doing that instead, and you have a pair so alike it’s a wonder no-one cries “Snap!” or that neither the Doctor nor Mel remark upon it, let alone the script editors at Big Finish. I think the type of story being told is a far better fit here with the specific Doctor/Companion pairing, but even so, it’s a pity in that it rather suggests that the well may be running dry.

It also diminishes this play’s status as the only one in this trilogy with wholly original elements, sandwiched as it is twixt Daleks and Sontarans.

It doesn’t stop this being highly enjoyable though, and it manages to make the sound of someone sipping water truly repugnant, which is an unusual achievement in its own right but a commendable one, too!

I know people are often mean to you, Season 24, but I love you all the same. It’s good to have you back.

12 September 2015

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Jonathan Morris

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: July 2015

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 12th September 2014

The year is 1987, and Britain is divided. In Bradford, strikers are picketing and clashing with the police. In the City of London, stockbrokers are drinking champagne and politicians are courting the super-rich. The mysterious media mogul Alek Zenos, head of the Zenos Corporation, is offering Britain an economic miracle. His partners wish to invest – and their terms are too good to refuse.

While the Doctor investigates Warfleet, a new computer game craze that is sweeping the nation, Mel goes undercover to find out the truth about Zenos’s partners.

The Daleks have a new paradigm. They intend to conquer the universe using economic power. The power of the free market!

* * *
The Seventh Doctor and Mel are back! Hurrah! If that’s not cause for celebration, then I don’t know what is. Often sadly poorly written for on screen, Mel has enjoyed a fantastic revamp akin to the Sixth Doctor’s here in the audio world. Bonnie Langford, forever brilliant whatever she is handed, has really stepped up to this and has continually proven how good she is and, indeed, how good Mel as a character is: enthusiastic and optimistic, someone smart and genuinely just wanting to have a good time.  I like that.  I like that in the end, she is someone who just enjoys travelling and exploring, and so she fits in wonderfully with those early, carefree days of the Seventh Doctor. Again, a lot of Season 24 never translates as well on-screen as it arguably should do, but in much the same way that Series 4 was so exhilarating to watch as it was all about the Doctor and his friend, Donna Noble, just having fun, so it should have been with the Doctor and his friend Mel, and so it has been at times thanks to Big Finish.

Of course, the Seventh Doctor’s era is well known for its sudden lurch from being light and more like a children’s show than we’d arguably ever had before, to something darker and more complex.  Whereas no attempt was really made to bridge that gap on TV, again some plays have tried to do it, and We Are the Daleks falls neatly in that slot. We have a recognizably human background (London), some nice iconography (a giant Dalek-shaped building), intelligent use of the current companion (Mel, the computer programmer, actually gets to do some computer programming!), and the slight reinvention of an old foe (the Daleks themselves) as well as a smattering of political commentary going on. It’s a neat-enough fit with the era of Doctor Who in which we find it, then, and provides some nice retroactive continuity creation to smooth over some elements of Remembrance Of The Daleks along the way.

(In addition to this, having recently criticized some of the CD covers for being very generic or lacking in risks, this one is pleasingly different and eye-catching and easily my favourite piece of work from Tom Webster for quite some time now.)

There is a lot to like in Jonathan Morris’s script, and the character of Celia Dunthorpe is superb: chillingly realistic and despite the awful things she says and does, you can see her justification and reasoning behind it all.  It makes what could be a simple caricature all the more effective and resonant.

Sadly though, despite all of these good points, there is something not quite 'there' with this play. On paper it all works, but in execution, I could never quite warm to it.

Was it the similarities to past Dalek stories? (We have a part where the Doctor explicitly compares a situation to the Dalek Civil War from The Evil Of The Daleks, and right on cue the Daleks start parroting dialogue from that tale.)

Was it the subplot with a computer game, that was very obvious from the off and felt very convenient to the plot than a natural off-shoot? (Maybe, though it does let Mel do something that her character excels at.)

Was it the sense that this sort of iconography, use of the Daleks in unfamiliar situations and liberal taking of continuity has been done before several times over now, and more often that not with the Seventh Doctor? I think perhaps that’s just it: this story is far from generic and has some great parts, but as a whole it’s in no way as fresh as perhaps it ought to be, and is perhaps a bit Remembrance-lite in parts? Last month’s play, The Secret History, had parts so shockingly like The Name Of The Doctor that I was surprised BBC Wales let it pass, but managed to feel different all the same. Perhaps it’s the use of the Seventh Doctor: he gets this sort of tale a lot, so similarities are all too easy to spot.

I know, whatever else, that many people will really enjoy We Are the Daleks, and I can’t blame them for that - there’s a lot to like.  For me though, its parts shine brighter than the whole piece.

11 September 2015

The BBC have released a prologue to Series 9 of Doctor Who, which was revealed exclusively on the BBC Doctor Who website.

The prologue, which is not to be confused with 'The Doctor's Meditation' (another prologue, exclusively for US cinema goers), shows The Doctor on the planet Karn, speaking with Sisterhood Of Karn leader, Ohila. The pair discuss the return of an old enemy who has summoned The Doctor.

The prologue can be viewed in the player, below:

+  Series 9 of Doctor Who will air on 19th September at 7:40pm.

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

8 September 2015

DWO’s Spoiler-free preview of Episode 9.1: The Magician’s Apprentice:

He’s back, and it’s about time (etc…)! 

Doesn’t it seem strange to think that a little over a year ago, we had yet to see Peter Capaldi in a full episode of Doctor Who? He’d taken a dislike to his kidneys, managed to crash the TARDIS, and showed up alongside his other selves as the Time War came to a climax, but he still wasn’t quite the Doctor. Not yet. Fast forward thirteen months and we’re about to dive into another twelve weeks alongside this incarnation of the Time Lord, traversing time and space in his second series in the role.

It’s perhaps the highest compliment that I can give to say that Capaldi isn’t even trying in this episode. He simply walks through every scene as himself… and is so completely the Doctor in doing so. Having spent a bit of time in this new body, the Doctor seems to have relaxed a bit - this is much more the Doctor of Last Christmas than Into the Dalek - but he’s still got a slightly darker side, and isn’t afraid of making decisions that previous incarnations would have balked at. It’s nice to see a character who’s slightly more at ease with himself, but people fearing that the Doctor would simply be softened up this year needn’t worry.

Of course, every great Doctor needs a great arch-enemy, and Michelle Gomez’s incarnation of the Master - Missy - simply goes from strength to strength. She takes a prominent role in this episode alongside Jenna Coleman’s Clara, as they search for the missing Doctor having received his last will and testament in the form of a ‘Confession Dial’ sent to his closest friend on the eve of his final day.

There’s very little that we can actually tell you about this episode while still remaining spoiler-free, but perhaps that’s a good thing - this is an episode which really does work best if you’ve no clue what’s about to come. Every time you think you’ve had the final big surprise, or the last big reveal, there’s another one along to keep you glued to the action. Seriously, try to avoid the spoilers, the cryptic hints about what’s to come and what’s going on. What the Doctor’s done and who’s hunting him down as a result of it… they’ll be all the greater coming fresh.

In many ways, The Magician’s Apprentice feels more like a season finale than it does an opener. The stakes are high, there’s cameos for many people and places from across the Doctor's previous adventures in a manner resembling The Pandorica Opens or The Wedding of River Song, and they’re really going for broke in the drama department. As a hook to the new run of adventures, Doctor Who has rarely hit the ground running this hard. 

Five Things to Look Out For;

1) ‘One of those was a lie…’

2) You So Fine.

3) ‘Tell me the name of the boy who isn’t going to die today!’

4) Beware of the Hand Mines.

5) ‘Doctor… what have you done?’

[Source: DWO, Will Brooks]

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