Time Lord Tees

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12 October 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 285: Inferno, Episode Seven

Dear diary,

Is it just me, or is the Doctor’s return to his regular universe all a bit… sudden? I said yesterday that I was surprised he didn’t leave them behind during the cliffhanger, but today…! We get the reprise, the Doctor shouts that he can’t try to get the console working because there isn’t enough power yet. Petra screams out for Greg as they all turn and watch the lava flow towards the open door…

And then the Doctor wakes up. Back in his regular universe. There’s none of the odd sparkly effect to indicate that he’s moving between dimensions, no shot of him fading away complete with car and console. It’s a bit jarring, and I’m not sure if it leaves me feeling like I’ve been wrenched out of the parallel universe in a good way that makes it seem as though it’s suddenly ‘ended’ or if it’s just left me feeling a bit out of place. I would have at least expected the screen to white out…

Still, the story doesn’t give you enough time to really focus on it, and there’s a lot packed into these final 25 minutes. It helps to really keep the pace up, and rounds out the tale nicely. I was really worried that when the Doctor returned, we’d be stuck with a ‘cuddly’ Brigadier to highlight the differences between him and the Brigade Leader, but he’s as much of an obstacle to the Doctor as anyone in the other world. Having watched time run out for the planet once in this story, it feels almost inconceivable that no one is really listening to the Doctor’s warnings, but you can see why everyone thinks he’s simply unwell – the Doctor comes across as a complete lunatic here. When he bursts into the control room of the drilling project and starts to smash up the equipment, you can almost agree with the Brigadier when the order is given to take the Time Lord away.

It feels like a theme that’s been running through this entire season – the Doctor and the Brigadier locking horns. The final scene, in which the Doctor announces that he’s had enough of the man before attempting to take off with the TARDIS console (again!) could well serve as a good coda to this era – I’m guessing that we’ll start to see a real change in their approaches with each other from now on.

That scene also makes for a fairly good farewell to Liz Shaw. It’s never really bothered me before that she simply disappears between Seasons Seven and Eight, but having spent a month in her company, I’ve been completely won over. It was suggested to me before I started on this season that I should swap the running order of The Ambassadors of Death and this story, as it made her departure more natural. I can’t say I can see how that would have been the case, and the fact that some of the Doctor’s final words to her today are ‘Goodbye, Liz. I shall miss you’ makes this feel like just the right way to watch the stories. I’m also pleased that we get such a lovely shot of the pair hugging once the drill has been stopped, and the Earth has been saved. The final image of the story – and the season – is one of Liz laughing, which seems entirely appropriate.

I’m pleased to report that – as you’ll no doubt have noticed over the last few weeks – I’ve been completely surprised by the start of the Pertwee era. I’ve spent such a long time not looking forward to this part of the marathon, but it’s really good! I’m past the three-seven-part-stories-in-a-row phase that seemed like such a stumbling block before (and, indeed, that’s the end of seven-part stories completely! A form for the programme since the second story, it’s all six-parters and less from here on out, with the exception of Trial of a Time Lord, depending how you look at it), and now that I’m sold on Jon Pertwee’s performance in a way I never have been I think I’m really excited for the next phase of the programme. Here’s hoping it’s as good as this season has generally been…

11 October 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 284: Inferno, Episode Six

Dear diary,

I'm really pleased to see that aside from this story, Don Houghton also wrote The Mind of Evil for Season Eight. As I've noted, I'm less familiar with this period of Doctor Who history than I was with the 1960s, so as we start saying goodbye to writers like David Whitaker, it's nice to know that there's new people like Houghton and Robert Holmes stepping in, ready to take up the reigns.

Today's episode, much like the rest of the story, is absolutely filled with brilliant dialogue. Once again, my notes seem to comprise every third line from the script, and I've had to carefully pick and choose which ones are worth my attention when I come to write this entry up. I think it's fair to say that there is a standout winner from today, and it's the Doctor' comment upon seeing Sutton's reaction to the TARDIS console - 'What did you expect? Some kind of space rocket with Batman at the controls?' I hope they have Batman in the parallel universe.

It's fitting that we should get to see so much of the console in this story, especially towards the end of today's episode. Inferno marks the last appearance of the console built way back in 1963 for An Unearthly Child. I've never really tracked the evolution of the machine as I've gone along, but looking at it in some of the shots today, you can clearly see that it's full of bits and pieces I've seen before. Even if I've not been making a point of picking up on it, there's been a kind of subconscious thread linking these first three Doctors together in the form of this console.

I'm sure I commented on it right at the start of Season One, but that original design for the TARDIS real did hit the ground running. I know that Doctor Who never had the budget to constantly update and renew the design (though I think it gets a few makeovers before Pertwee hands in the keys to the police box), but there's a reason they stuck to this basic template for the entire classic run. As much as I love the current console room, I really do like this one. I must make a point of visiting the Doctor Who Experience again to see the replica of this console - they added it only a few days after my last visit!

I'm really pleased that I've enjoyed today's episode as much as this. Having really loved the addition of the parallel world a few days ago when it first turned up, the last few instalments haven't quite gripped me in the same way. Now that we're ready to transfer back to Earth A, I'm finding myself reluctant to say goodbye to this reality! It's been another great example of the Doctor changing people just by being in their presence, and it's nice that he was there in their final moments. I was expecting the episode to conclude with the Doctor vanishing again, so I'm hoping these few characters don't get let down by having to stick around for a few minutes at the start of the next episode.

By the same token, I'm really glad that the Doctor's only headed 'home' for the last 25 minutes of the story. I worried that we'd have to spend a few episodes watching him try to convince Stahlman that they needed to stop the drilling, and that we'd simply end up with a rehash of the last few days. With such a tight timeframe to finish up in, I'm hopeful that the tension will really carry through for the last little push.

Just briefly - it's a return to my monitoring of the Sonic Screwdriver. It turned up earlier in the story being used as a door handle to the Doctor's temporary lab, and now we see that Liz has her own (technically, she was seen using one the other day, but I wasn't sure if it might have been the same device. Now I know he's got one in the parallel world, the one in her bag must be a copy for Liz!) It's still not referred to as being a Sonic Screwdriver, though we get confirmation that the Doctor invented it - a rose by any other name? I'm wondering if Liz might be helping the Doctor to refine the design of it. She is a scientist, after all, and he's been tinkering with it for two whole seasons, now. We're drawing closer and closer to the point where it will become the all-purpose tool we know it as today, so I'm loving the idea that it might have taken a companion's touch to get it to the final stage!

11 October 2013

Nine previously missing episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960s, which have not been seen for over 45 years, have been discovered and will launch exclusively on iTunes Today.

BBC Worldwide announced the find at a press event yesterday, which DWO attended, and we're delighted to announce that nine recordings from the 1960s featuring missing episodes of Doctor Who, were recovered in Nigeria, Africa, and subsequently returned to the BBC.

The episodes were discovered by Phillip Morris, director of Television International Enterprises Archive, by the tracking records of overseas shipments made by the BBC containing tapes for transmission. BBC Worldwide has re-mastered these episodes to restore them to the fantastic quality that audiences expect from Doctor Who.

The stories recovered are The Enemy of the World (1967) and The Web of Fear (1968) - both starring Patrick Troughton as The Second Doctor.

The Enemy of the World, is the fourth six-part tale of Series 5 which first aired on the BBC in December 1967. Episodes 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 had been missing from the BBC archives. 

Alongside Patrick Troughton who plays both the Time Lord and his antagonist (Ramon Salamander) are his companions Frazer Hines (Jamie) and Deborah Watling (Victoria).

Also recovered is the 1968 six-part story, The Web of Fear. Episodes 2-6 were feared lost forever but now episodes 2, 4, 5, and 6 have been recovered. Unfortunately, episode three is still currently missing but a restoration team has reconstructed this part of the story using a selection of the 37 images that were available from the episode along with the original audio which has been restored. 

Also starring Patrick Troughton alongside Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling, The Web of Fear introduces Nicholas Courtney for the first time as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart (who later returns as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart). 

All episodes are available to download exclusively from iTunes from today (links at the bottom of this article). The Enemy of the World will also be available to preorder exclusively on DVD from BBC Shop from 11th October for release on 22nd November. The Web of Fear will be available on DVD on 24th February 2013. DWO have been given the preview for the Limited Edition DVD cover which you can see in the right-hand image column.

Phillip Morris says:

“The tapes had been left gathering dust in a store room at a television relay station in Nigeria. I remember wiping the dust off the masking tape on the canisters and my heart missed a beat as I saw the words ‘Doctor Who’. When I read the story code I realised I’d found something pretty special.”

Fiona Eastwood, Director of Consumer Products, BBC Worldwide comments:

“We are thrilled with the recent discovery of The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World and we’re very happy to be launching re-mastered versions of these treasured episodes to fans as we celebrate the 50th year of Doctor Who.”

The Press Event

The press event itself kicked off with a statement by Philip Morris, read out by TIEA archive coordinator, Roy Robinson, in which Morris thanked the BBC and Doctor Who fans for their support. This was then followed by a short video presentation by Philip Morris, explaining the story behind the recent finds, and conveying his own childhood memories of Doctor Who.

The room then went dark as Episode One of The Enemy Of The World was shown. It was a surreal experience - actually sitting down to watch brand new, yet old, Doctor Who - unseen for over 45 years! We were quite blown away by the opening scenes on the beach, with helicopters, hovercraft and long johns - and all in the first five minutes! Every moment was filled with joy as the episode unfolded and we got to see Patrick Troughton's dual performance as The Doctor and Salamander.

After the episode had aired, Mark Gatiss introduced Episode Two of The Web Of Fear, citing it perfectly as "the quintessential Doctor Who story that's also the most British thing you could imagine".

On a personal note, this was the story that we were *really* excited to see. To actually see the Yeti / Great Intelligence in action in the London Underground was really special. Interestingly, The Doctor only featured in the recap at the beginning of the episode, and doesn't show up at all in Episode Two - one of the first true examples of a Doctor-lite episode!

After a 10-minute break, we re-entered the screening room for a Q&A with Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling and Mark Gatiss. Below are some highlights:

Total TV Guide: (To Frazer and Deborah) Do you remember doing the scenes?
Deborah: Watching it just now, I knew the next lines!
Frazer: Yeh, but you didn't know them at the time on set, did you?!

Daily Telegraph: (To Frazer and Deborah) What made Patrick Troughton's performance so special?
Deborah: He had a wonderful sense of humour and a twinkle in the eye, but he was also a very, very good actor. We all got on so well and we were like a family. We had a chemistry, and I think it showed today.

Doctor Who Online: (To Frazer and Deborah) Did you keep any mementos from either of the two stories?
Deborah: I had one of the ornamental Yeti's but it broke in the middle, so Andrew Beech was kind enough to fix it for me.
Frazer: eBay! - I also had one of the Yeti's - and space glasses, but my mother told me to throw it all away, so I did.

BBC Worldwide have provided DWO with some trailers and clips from The Enemy Of The World and The Web Of Fear, which you can watch below.

The Enemy Of The World - iTunes Trailer


The Enemy Of The World - 'Long Johns' Clip


The Web Of Fear - iTunes Trailer


The Web Of Fear - 'Pyramid' Clip

As a final treat, DWO caught up with Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon) and Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield) who recorded a special video greeting for our visitors:


+  Download The Enemy Of The World for £9.99 via iTunes in the UK.
+  Download The Enemy Of The World for $9.99 via iTunes in the USA.
+  Preorder The Enemy Of The World DVD on BBC Shop for just £13.99!

+  Download The Web Of Fear for £9.99 via iTunes in the UK.
+  Download The Web Of Fear for $9.99 via iTunes in the USA.
+  Preorder The Web Of Fear DVD on BBC Shop for just £13.99!

+  Follow Doctor Who Online on Twitter (@DrWhoOnline)!

[Many thanks to Chris, Phil, Emma and the rest of the BBC Worldwide Team]

[Sources: BBC WorldwideDoctor Who Online]

10 October 2013

To celebrate Doctor Who entering its 50th anniversary year, Watch launch an exclusive landmark season of programming - ‘Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited’. A must-watch for all Doctor Who fans, the show takes viewers back in time to relive the most magical moments of one of the UK’s most loved TV shows.

From Saturday 12th October Watch will air a series of eleven 30 minute special BBC Worldwide commissions of Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited. These UK premiers will feature the story behind each Doctor, alongside footage from their era. The channel has gathered together the very best programmes into a Doctor Who themed collection, providing a specially curated selection of stories that are perfect for fans and newcomers to the show. 

Running in chorological order from The First doctor William Hartnell to the most current Matt Smith, each episode includes an introduction by current Lead Writer and Executive Producer Steven Moffat and also features contributions from past Doctors including Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, David Tennant and Matt Smith alongside guest stars and writers including John Barrowman, Hugh Bonneville and Neil Gaiman. 

The kind folks over at Watch have sent DWO an exclusive clip which you can watch below:

[Source: Taylor Herring PR]

10 October 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 283: Inferno, Episode Five

Dear diary,

The first half of today's episode is fairly talk-y, with little action. In the past, episodes like this have come in for both praise and criticism during this marathon, and I'm not entirely where this one sits. On the one hand, it's beautifully done. The way that the volcanic noises carry on in the background for so long that they just disappear into the back of your mind is fantastic - every now and then the noise creeps up a little, and you find yourself caught up in the methodic rhythm. It really helps to sell the idea that we've passed the point of no return and that there's no hope for saving this world.

I'm so pleased that they're using the parallel world format to tell an interesting story. It's not simply about meeting up with 'evil' versions of all our regular characters (although the lack of moustache on the Brigade Leader, and the absence of Professor Stahlman's beard suggests that facial hair in alternate dimensions of the Doctor Who universe works in the opposite way to those in the Star Trek franchise!), but rather a chance for the production team to blow up the Earth - really! - without actually endangering the programme's future.

I think I've worked out (roughly) where things will be headed from here, so I'm treating all the guest cast as though they're on borrowed time. What's going to be interesting is to see how much of what happens on this world also occurs in the regular one. For the sake of ease, I'm going to call the regular World 'Earth A' and the Republic 'Earth B'. 'The Petra of Earth B is a lot colder than the one we saw on Earth A, even if they do share similar traits, just emphasised in different ways. Despite that, in the moment of crisis, she's turned to Sutton for comfort. WIll we see that happening once the Doctor gets back to Earth A? Will the technicians all end up being transformed into monsters in our world? Will Sir Keith make it out alive? The only thing I assume it's fair to say is that Benton won't be turning into a Primord in both realities, though.

It's nice to see the Doctor demonstrating the TARDIS console to Liz and the Brigade Leader by pulling the same 'moving a few seconds into the future' trick that was seen back at the start of The Ambassadors of Death. More and more, I'm finding little moments like this that help Season Seven to feel as though it's one big story. In some ways, it's the closest in tone to the 21st century version of the series that we've seen from the classic show so far - taking seemingly insignificant moments and seeding them throughout the entire series.

To that end, it's almost a shame that we don't get a few more of these little references. I wondered back in Doctor Who and the Silurians (to myself, rather than in my entry - it felt like a silly thing to say then, but perfectly right for now!) if it would have been fun to see Masters among the government officials on display at Madame Tussaud's. Equally, I thought the same about Sir James in the last story, and I think having Stahlman there could have been fun for this tale, too. It would be equally nice to have the mentions in this story about the government being so desperate for Stahlman's project to succeed be because of the loss of the Wenley Moor facility. Suddenly, with that one blown up, there's going to be more pressure on the National Grid!

9 October 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 282, Inferno, Episode Four

Dear diary,

One of the things I loved about yesterday’s episode was that we weren’t simply plunged right into the parallel world. We get a few minutes in the regular setting first, with the Brigadier and Liz hunting for their absent colleague. It means that we get a little bit of time to re-establish the situation, before everything gets turned on its head. We get to see Sir Keith making threatening a trip to the ministry and make his formal complaints, and generally catch up with the rest of events.

It means that when we get to the parallel world and discover that their version of Sir Keith was killed in a (highly suspicious) car accident en route to the ministry, it chimes with us – because we know that’s where our chap is now heading. I have to admit that I’d assumed we’d be stuck in this alternate universe for a while now, right up until the Doctor crosses back over to ours. It came as a bit of a surprise, then, when the screen blurred and we entered back into the sparkly void between realities.

If anything, it was slightly odd. Even after such a relatively short period of time, I’ve gotten used to Liz with her dark hair, so when we emerge back into a real close up of the Liz we’ve known since the start of the season, it didn’t look quite right. It’s a shame that the return to our regular world ends up as a bit of a rehash from yesterday. Sir Keith pops up to remind us that he’s not dead and that he’s got a car outside to take him to London. Liz and the Brigadier hunt around for the Doctor. Nothing all that much happens, and before you know it, we’re back in the Republic.

It’s funny just how much I’ve been drawn into this parallel world, but I think it’s a testament to just how well realised it is, and how fantastic the performances are. Nick Courtney is so easy to love that I have to make a conscious decision to not praise him every day, but he’s especially good toward the cliffhanger today, when he orders the Doctor around and then pulls a gun on him. The one thing that perhaps lets it down a little is that he spends a few minutes strutting around in front of his soldiers as the tension is being ramped up, and it’s perhaps a bit too casual. The Brigade Leader has a carefree side!

I am very impressed by the handling of today’s cliffhanger in general. The presence of a definite ‘end’ point for the action (in this case a countdown) is usually a troubling sign – I’m thinking specifically of Vengeance on Varos, where they move slowly towards the image of a dying Doctor on the monitor before the voice comes though ‘and cut it… now!’, before we linger a few more seconds! It robs that cliffhanger of all the tension, and I worried the same might happen here. As it is, we get the final number of the countdown spoken over the image of the closing credits. Anything could be happening in that control room!

Speaking of the control room – how great is that set? For a start, it’s huge, and split into several areas. You get the impression when characters move from all the contros to the drilling room that they really have covered a lot of ground. It’s great to see so many supporting artists in there, too, all decked out in their lab coats and going about their business. There’s a shot in today’s episode where Pertwee walks over to one of the control panels to play with a few settings, and there’s loads of other people around him getting on with their job. It makes the place seem real, with a lot going on, and it’s as though every member of ‘staff’ has a role to play.

We used to get a similar format quite often in the Troughton Era, where the action revolves around one ‘main’ set with a few smaller ones dotted around (I think the best example is probably in The Moonbase, where I praised the set for reasons very similar to those I’ve mentioned today.)

8 October 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 281: Inferno, Episode Three

Dear diary,

I always used to find it so strange that Doctor Who waited seven years and fifty-something adventures before it went for that old sci-fi cliché, the ‘parallel universe’, but actually, having been through everything that comes before Inferno, it suddenly makes complete sense. Even though we’ve been in a different location for each story this season, they’ve all felt relatively close together. Trapping the Doctor on Earth, and giving him a wider circle of acquaintances (People can’t even agree on whether Sara Kingdom is a companion, so I doubt there’s any hope of getting all of UNIT added to the list!) means that when we follow him across the sparkly void and into the alternate universe, there’s a real impact to it.

That’s not to say that it couldn’t have worked to see the Doctor confronted by an evil version of Ian and Barbara, but if you set it out on some far-flung alien world, there’s far less of an impact. The Stahlman project, on the outside, looks just like the location from The Ambassadors of Death. Wasn’t the Brigadier chasing someone over some very similar gangways (though much closer to the ground) a few episodes ago? It’s not even that far removed from the location we see used as the factory in Spearhead From Space, which was previously used for The Invasion. I think that’s the big success of this story – it’s taking something which is readily in danger of simply becoming normal for Doctor Who, and it turns it completely on its head.

The same thing is being done to UNIT. When the Doctor emerges from what should be his lab, and a soldier starts to shoot at him, it genuinely feels unnerving. It’s why I’m so pleased that Benton turned up at the tale end of The Ambassadors of Death - I know that he’s a big part of the UNIT ‘family’, because I’m coming to this story more than 40 years after the fact, but today’s cliffhanger doesn’t pack half as much of a punch if it’s simply that Sergeant who turned up two episodes ago threatening the Doctor.

I’m not sure that the Doctor has too much to fear from his former friends here, though, because as in the last story UNIT are absolutely terrible. They spend several minutes chasing after the Doctor and taking shots at him (it has to be said that the chase scene in this story is far more thrilling than many of the action set pieces in the last one – hooray for the return of Douglas Camfield!), and then manage to completely lose him. As soon as they spotted people up high on the roof, I was willing to bet a considerable amount of money that they’d hit the infected soldier rather than our misplaced Time Lord.

One of the things that’s really impressing me is just how much back story about this parallel universe has already been seeded in, without it feeling like a massive info dump. I knew that we’d be seeing an alternate world in this story (I’ve head the eyepatch story enough times to recite it backwards!), but I didn’t know anything really about it. Right from the moment the Doctor arrives in this new world, we’re given lots of hints about this place. From the poster on the wall of his lab – ‘Unity is Strength’, a phrase which instantly says ‘totalitarian regime’ to anyone who’s read Orwell’s 1984 - to the odd symbols on the door of the lab. Even the Doctor lingers to give both a puzzled look, making sure that we get plenty of opportunities to take it all in.

(While I’m on the subject, there’s another one of those ridiculous things that I want to praise. The symbol stuck to the door of the ‘lab’ is all battered up. Now, I know it’s simply because the BBC props men have been lugging it around for a while before sticking it up onto the door, but it has the effect of making it look like the sign has been there for ages. I know it’s a stupid thing to draw attention to, but I’d not have been surprised to find that everything added to the sets to denote them as being from the parallel world looked brand new…)

We’re given lots of beautiful dialogue between the Doctor and the Brigade Leader to help establish the kind of world we’ve ended up in, too. My favourite is possibly the moment that the Brigadier describes the ‘Republic’ and the Doctor asks what’s happened to the Royal Family. He’s cut off mid sentence, simply told that they were executed. All of them.'

Perhaps my absolute favourite piece of dialogue from today's episode - possibly from the season so far - is the Brigade Leader's response to the Doctor's protests that he 'doesn't exist' in this world - 'then you won't feel the bullets when we shoot you.' Brilliant!

8 October 2013

The BBC has today confirmed plans to launch a +1 channel for BBC One.

Speaking at a BBC conference today, BBC Director General, Tony Hall said:

“Any plan for channels starts with BBC One. Above all, BBC One needs to be on top form. It has to be the nation’s favourite channel, but also its bravest. We’ll also look to launch a BBC One +1 channel, too – it’s what audiences expect, especially younger ones, and it means people can get more of what they’ve already paid for.”

Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One, added:

"This is brilliant news for BBC One viewers, it means the content we pay for delivers even more value for audiences. In a world of increased choice, +1 will enable licence fee payers to have even more access to our broad range of programmes every day."

This is good news for Doctor Who as not only will episodes be available to watch for those who may miss the original time slot airing, but the ratings of the +1 channel will count towards the ratings totals for the week - as is currently the case with ITV1. The decision means there will be an even playing field as far as ratings go, and we should once more see Doctor Who at the very top of the weekly programming figures.

[Source: BBC Media Centre]

7 October 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 280: Inferno, Episode Two

Dear diary,

There’s a danger that I’m just going to end up repeating myself here, but frankly I’m so surprised by it that it really does bear repeating – I’m finding myself completely won over by the Third Doctor. I spoke yesterday about the fact that he was so willing to use UNIT as a way of getting access to the drilling project simply so that he could steal power (and let’s be honest, that’s exactly what he’s doing!) and try to get the TARDIS working again.

I really love the idea that he only works with UNIT because he’s stuck on Earth and he needs something to be doing. Today’s episode makes it almost quite dark – there’s a very real danger that everyone on this drilling project could be dead before long. There’s at least one person roaming the site murdering for no apparent reason. The Doctor has seen the effect of getting to close to those people who are infected (though he follows a primordial UNIT soldier across the gangways for a while, then seemingly forgets all about this!), and knows the danger of drilling down this deep – heck they’ve already come close to wiping themselves out.

And yet when Professor Stahlman cuts his power and manages to dispose of the computer circuit before the Brigadier can be alerted to the danger the man poses… the Doctor simply leaves. He announces that he could be doing something better with his time anyway, and heads off to tinker with the TARDIS some more. He even goes as far as to lie to Liz simply to get her out of the way while he makes a runner. It really does feel like a return to the personality that Hartnell’s Doctor had right back at the very beginning, when he was willing to kidnap people just to stop them revealing the secret of the TARDIS, or endanger them all to satisfy his own curiosity. I’m imagining that the Doctor will mellow and grow to accept his current lot (I always remember him as enjoying his time with UNIT, but maybe that’s simply my lack of affinity with this era), but for now it’s creating a really interesting dynamic.

It works pretty well when you give Pertwee some great guest characters to play off, too. He really works brilliantly opposite Olaf Pooley as Stahlman, and you can quite easily believe that the pair would wind each other up no end. Even Nick Courtney, who’s always on the top of his game, seems to be turning in an especially good performance here. The only problem I’ve got with the cast is that every time Christopher Benjamin turns up on screen, I find myself loudly saying ‘Henry Gordon Jago!’ to an empty room, especially having finished the Sixth Season of Jago & Litefoot just this morning.

This feels like a good time to heap some praise on Caroline John, too, considering that this is her last story. Liz has always been one of those companions I’ve never really had much time for. She’s only in four stories (Well, five if you count The Five Doctors, I suppose), and they’re from this era of the programme that I’ve never paid that much attention to. Up until this story, I was more-or-less ready to claim that – despite how good she might be – Liz wasn’t really a companion. She’s far more independent than a companion would usually be, and she’s really got her own life outside of the Doctor.

I think it’s helped by the whole format of Season Seven. Because the Doctor and Liz are having all their adventures within comfortable driving distance from London, you get the impression that Liz goes home to her flat at the end of each day, while the Doctor spends his time underneath St Pancras station, trying to kick start the TARDIS. When this story started, I was going to concede my point and suggest that maybe she was a companion, simply on the basis that she’s his friend, and he’s specifically asked her to help with his escape attempt (there’s implication in Episode One of this story that she’s been helping him with these ‘experiments’ for a while). As it is, though, he’s simply using her – he needs that extra knowledge on hand if he’s in with any chance of making the console work, and he’s willing to get her out of the way if he thinks she’ll get in the way of him making a break for it.

I’m going to keep the jury out on Liz’s companion status for the rest of this story, but I’m glad that there’s a new depth to it. Just like the new slightly morally ambiguous Doctor, it’s a fresh dynamic for the programme, and it’s really helped to freshen things up following the trend of companions all being a bit samey towards the end of the 1960s (no matter how much I ended up loving Zoe!)

7 October 2013

After many months of speculation, the BBC is now tantalisingly close to officially announcing the discovery of missing episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960's.

Following yesterdays (inaccurate) report from The Mirror newspaper (quoting from the original Sunday People article) that "106 Doctor Who Episodes have been uncovered in Ethiopia", DWO took to Twitter to clarify some of the misleading details, simply stating missing episodes had been found, but that the BBC will announce it officially in due course:

Radio Times then took it upon themselves to scoop the waiting media with further details by reporting that newly discovered lost episodes are being prepared for digital release this week. The article suggested that two missing episodes will be released on Wednesday, before quickly removing reference to the number two and the word 'episodes' - suggesting it could be whole stories.

Their amended statement now reads:

"BBC Worldwide will put the previously lost episodes from different stories – both believed to be from the Patrick Troughton era – for sale on digital platforms such as iTunes from Wednesday, RadioTimes.com understands. They are believed to originate from a haul discovered in Africa and have been digitally remastered for sale, although exact details remain sketchy."

Online speculation has been rife, with many rumours circulating that the two stories to be released will be 'The Web Of Fear' and 'The Enemy Of The World' - both featuring Patrick Troughton as The Doctor. There are also reports that the First Doctor adventure, 'Marco Polo' could also be announced.

It is also widely believed that beyond the imminent announcement, that further episodes have been recovered and will be announced at a later date.

Members of the press have been invited to attend a press conference this week which will officially confirm the news.

It is expected that an in-depth feature covering the discovery of the missing episodes will appear in an upcoming issue of Doctor Who Magazine.

Which two, missing Doctor Who stories would you like to be announced have been found this week? Post your choices in the comments box below! 

+  Follow Doctor Who Online on Twitter (@DrWhoOnline)!

+  Follow Doctor Who Magazine on Twitter (@DWMTweets)!

[Sources: Radio Times; The MirrorDoctor Who Online]

6 October 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 279: Inferno, Episode One

Dear diary,

'This isn't an oil rig,' Petra points out early in this episode. What they're drilling for isn't anything like North Sea gas, we're later told. And yet… I'm watching Fury From the Deep! There's the drilling project, a mysterious substance from the deep, a person in charge who's adamant that the project can't be shut down (there it was because Robson didn't want to ruin his record for continuous drilling, while here Professor Stahlman doesn't want any delays to the schedule.) As if there were any doubt left, we get the first appearance of the Sonic Screwdriver in a Third Doctor story*!

And yet, whereas Fury From the Deep bored me at the time, being made up of so many elements that we'd seen too recently, here it feels like greeting some old friends, and I'm actually excited by them! That's not to say that Inferno isn't showing signs of repetition - there's a number of elements present in this episode that seem to be cropping up a lot during Season Seven, but I don't think I've had time to grow weary of them yet.

I think what's interested me the most about all this is the way that the Doctor and the brigadier interact with each other. During Doctor Who and the Silurians, I praised the way that they didn't exactly see eye-to-eye over how to deal with the threat. They were a bit more chummy in the last story (though only just), but they still don't seem to be the best of friends here. While I think they do respect each other, they're more 'colleagues' than 'friends'.

The way the Doctor strolls into the Brigadier's makeshift office suggests that the pair haven't seen each other for a little while. The same scene goes on to confirm that while Liz may 'have the misfortune of working for [UNIT]', the Doctor is a 'free agent'. The implication at the end of Spearhead From Space was very much that the Doctor was going to be employed on a permanent basis to the organisation - he even got Bessie as a company car! - but here we get to find out a little more about their arrangement.

I rather like the idea that he's not simply tied to working for the Brigadier, and that he's simply using UNIT as an excuse to get access into this drilling project. It gives the Doctor a kind of selfish edge that we've not seen much of since right back in the early days of Season One. There was a flash of it at the very start of Pertwee's tenure, when he tries to take off in the TARDIS during the Nestene invasion, but I thought that had all died down by now.

I'm also finding more and more that I love his outfit. I've never really thought all that much about the Third Doctor's costume - it's always been a lot of different coloured velvet jackets and capes for me - but it really does suit him in this season. There's a point when it's described as 'fancy dress', but he does cut a very definite figure amongst all the other people in the control room. I'm hoping that I'll keep being drawn to it when we start seeing all the variants creep in.

It's becoming apparent that Pertwee seems to have a particular clause in his contract, though. Every story of the season has given him an opportunity to gurn away, and today's episode is no exception. Having said that, the scene where he's thrown into the 'limbo' and the image distorts as he seemingly cries with pain is really effective - it's putting him into another situation we're not used to seeing, and making the threat seem very apparent. Forget the werewolves running around and killing people - it's the Doctor's own experiments which are causing the danger right now…

*Yeah, yeah, I know he doesn't call it the Sonic Screwdriver (he actually says 'it's only a door handle'), but we all know that it is…

5 October 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 278: The Ambassadors of Death, Episode Seven

Dear diary,

One of the ways that I've been trying to keep myself amused though out this story is trying to figure out which - if any - of the characters might be working for Torchwood. It was always going to be tricky when the series introduced the Torchwood Institute. An organisation created in the Victorian era, with objectives to defend the Earth, scavenge technology for the good of the British Empire, and to capture the Doctor if he ever set foot back on british soil. An organisation which, presumably, was on the hunt for the Doctor during the time he spent trapped on Earth, and working for an organisation pretty similar to theirs.

During The Web of Fear, I picked out the member of Torchwood based solely on the fact that he had an outrageously strong Welsh accent, and was acting a little bit shifty. For The Ambassadors of Death, I've decided that General Carrington is our man from the rival organisation, at least in part. He's spent the last few episodes banging on about his 'moral duty' and seems determined to shoot down the alien vessel in case it poses some kind of threat to the planet - it's a stave that's pretty in keeping with Torchwood's appearances from Series Two of the modern series.

We also get plenty of references to the fact that he's gone off the deep end and is quite possibly mad. Therefore, I'm choosing to believe that he was placed on Mars Probe Six as part of some Torchwood mission (maybe to put some kind of tracking equipment up in orbit? I can't say I've given it that much thought), but instead ended up in contact with the race from which our titular Ambassadors hail. His exposure to them has somewhat warped his mind, meaning that he's gone rogue from Torchwood and decided to use them to unveil aliens to the world via the live TV broadcast we see in this episode - ready then to have their ship obliterated. He's taken away at the end of the story, presumably to be court-marshalled by whoever's in charge of the Institute.

Mind you, I'd be a bit sceptical about having him led away by a single soldier. It has to be said that based on this story alone - UNIT are rubbish. I've already commented about that scene from the first episode in which they're caught up in a big fight and seem to be doing pretty badly for the most part, but today they gat another chase at a shoot-out… and they still muck it up! Their enemy is out of ammunition. They've surrendered. They're still able to over power the two soldiers and drag the fight on that little bit longer.

The only one to come out from all this well is the Brigadier, who does look quite impressive when he's right in the middle of a battle. Nicholas Courtney has a specific 'look' (you know the one), and it just seems to fit in brilliantly. I've not had much chance to praise him since we moved into colour, so it's nice to see him getting some of the action in this story.

On the whole, I'm sorry to say that I'm just really disappointed by The Ambassadors of Death. Having enjoyed the last story so much more than I thought I would, this had the potential to be a real winner. Inferno is another one of those ones that I know precious little about, apart from the fact that it's got a supposedly golden reputation. here's hoping it can win me back round after this one…

4 October 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 277: The Ambassadors of Death, Episode Six

Dear diary,

So there we have it! The truth about General Carrington! The problem is, I'd been sort of guessing this for a while, now, and it's not the most interesting of reveals. On the plus side, it does seem to even out my debate as to how many different groups there are working together - it looks like it is three, but Carrington works for one and is the shady paymaster of another.

Still, even if the reveal isn't the most interesting thing the series has ever given us, the cliffhanger itself is pretty good. The Doctor's often threatened at gunpoint (has already has been in this story), but the gun isn't usually so close to the Doctor's nose!

I'm sorry to say that I'm still not massively enjoying The Ambassadors of Death. Things have picked up a bit today, but I think my interest dropped too long ago - it's too much of an up-hill climb to try and get back into it now. For a while, when the Doctor was taken aboard the giant clam and encountered the astronauts all safe and well, I did think that things were going to start turning around for me. It was fresh, it was exciting, but then, it was right back down to Earth, so we could carry on with the story at a snail's pace once more.

Something I do have to wonder about this story could potentially be opening a bit of a can of worms. I'll be discussing the actual placement of the UNIT stories further down the line, once I've seen enough of them to make up my mind properly, but The Ambassadors of Death seems to be the first real hint we've had that this isn't as contemporary as I might like to think.

At the time, the Doctor Who production team intended that the Third Doctor's adventures would be taking place in the near future. The Radio Times write up for The Invasion specified the story as taking place in 1975, which would put these tales in the late 1970s at the earliest. Aside from a few bits of equipment seen in the last few stories, I've not had any real reason to assume that the stories aren't simply set an the time of broadcast, but today we've got a full on British Space Programme!

I'd be tempted to simply say that in the Doctor Who universe, things are a little different to the way that they are in the real world, but by the time of The Christmas Invasion we're sending probes up to Mars that are nowhere near as advanced as the manned missions we're seeing here - and they're now on the seventh one! I'm not going to be opening the big can of worms today, but I am wondering what people generally think on the subject - are the UNIT stories set at the time of broadcast or are they set later?

Leave a comment, or head over to the 50 Year Diary Facebook page and let me know - I'll be discussing it all at some point, I'm sure!

3 October 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 276: The Ambassadors of Death, Episode Five

Dear diary,

'Can't you hurry it up a bit?' the Doctor snaps as he sits awaiting his trip into space. I think that's a fairly good line to sum up this whole story. Things have shifted a bit for me now - I'm no longer simply failing to connect with The Ambassadors of Death, I'm actively bored by it, and that's not something that you ever want to say about an episode of Doctor Who.

As we counted down to the Doctor's lift-off, I quickly assumed that today's cliffhanger would be a shot of him heading away from the planet. No. Then we started to get some sabotage, so I figured that maybe it would be a closing shot of the Space Centre finding out about the interference. No. Maybe it would be the moment of blast off, but with the rocket exploding? No. Oh, but they can't steer the ship via remote control and the Doctor could end up shot into the sun! That must be the cliffhanger! Nope. 'We don't really know what's in there,' Cornish warns the Doctor as he moves to enter the Mars probe. Right then, the cliffhanger must surely be that the probe is empty? No! We may never know, because all of a sudden there's an unidentified object closing in on the Doctor at high speed - and it's going to hit!

It's not so much the fact that the cliffhanger is sudden and from nowhere, bur more that it felt as though it took forever to actually get to one. It's almost as though The Ambassadors of Death has the ability to actually warp and slow down time around it.

Oh, ok, that's not entirely fair. There are a few things to like about today's episode. For a start, the 'astronaut' looming over the Doctor in Sir James' office really does look pretty sinister. I don't know what it is about a space suit - that odd mixture of something so familiar and yet still very alien - that really works for a Doctor Who story. It's no wonder that Steven Moffat has used them on a few occasions to inject fear into the series, be it with a skeleton inside or simply someone capable of 'killing' the Doctor.

And then we've got the return of Benton for the first time since The Invasion. He'll become a regular fixture in UNIT over the next few years, so it's perhaps odd that I've not actually noted his absence from the last two stories. All the same, it's nice to have him back, and looking after Doctor Lennox so well. I'm pleased to see the return of Cyril Shaps to the series, too, considering he was in The Tomb of the Cybermen, still my favourite story. When he first appeared a few days ago, I instantly saw him as Viner from the other story, but I've taken to him as Lennox now. His fear in the cell is very real, and you can’t help but feel for him. The idea of sitting down to dinner and finding an isotope waiting for him is striking, too, though I do hope he gets to have a chat with the Brigadier (unlikely, I think!)

 

2 October 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 275: The Ambassadors of Death, Episode Four

Dear diary,

Back during The Invasion, there's a point where the Brigadier has to go to a government official to ask permission before he can send the troops in to take control of International Electromatics. Tobias Vaughn gets there first, though, and the minister he needs to speak to has already been won over (read: 'blackmailed') to side with the Cybermen. I very nearly commented at the time that wished the Brigadier had to spend more time with the government during the Pertwee era, because it would make it more 'real' or something. I specifically thought of it comparing to the Big Finish series Counter Measures, featuring the team from Remembrance of the Daleks. They answer directly to a member of the government - Sir Toby - who can at best be described as 'shady'. It's a great dynamic, and one I'd love to have in the UNIT years.

I'm glad I didn't actually say anything, though, because I'd have looked like a complete fool! In every one of the Season Seven stories so far, our heroes have come up against a 'higher power' in one form or another. In Spearhead From Space it's Major General Scobie (or, rather, an Auton replica of him). Doctor Who and the Silurians marks the first - and last - appearance of Masters. This story gives us Sir James Quinlan who, much like our character from The Invasion is working for the other side (or is he? More on that in a minute…)

What I'm realising through all this is just how little I actually know about this period of Doctor Who's history. I can rattle off the big, obvious facts in no time, but the intricate details of the story… not a clue. On the whole, I think it seems to be working to the Pertwee era's advantage - there's plenty of room for me to be pleasantly surprised by things as I go along, almost entirely uncoloured by years of knowledge building up in my head.

It's not doing much to save The Ambassadors of Death for me, I'm afraid. Try as I might, I just can't get into the story. It's not helped by the fact that I have absolutely no idea what's going on. For a start, I've lost track of wether there's two or three different organisations at work (I'd settled on three at the start of today's episode, but now I'm back to thinking that there's just two), and I'm not sure wether all the 'contagious radiation' stuff from yesterday was just an excuse to throw UNIT off the scent or not. The Doctor seems to imply here that it's a load of old nonsense, but I'm sure it was talked about a lot in scenes that didn't feature him - or any of his colleagues.

I'm also finding that things are moving just that bit too slow for my liking. I've just sat through the entire 1960s era - large chunks of which no longer exist to watch! - but this may be the most leisurely pace we've seen in a long time. At various points during Doctor Who and the Silurians, I commented that the fast cutting between scenes, losing chunks of time in the process gave the impression that there was more than enough story for the seven-week running time, but this tale seems to be having just the opposite effect.

Today, Liz manages to escape from her captivity only to be picked up as a hitch-hiker by a man heading back where she's just come from, and one who knows that she's not supposed to be out and about. The scene isn't a total waste - it gives us an opportunity to see that Doctor Lennox isn't completely siding with the 'baddies' - but it does feel like that typical 'Episode Three Syndrome' of capture and escape.

Now that I'm past the half way point, I'm hoping things might start to pick up a little. I've been enjoying the series so much this far, and I'd hate for The Ambassadors of Death to be the black sheep of the season…

1 October 2013

BBC Worldwide today announces that the special 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who, the world’s longest running and most successful sci-fi series will, for the first time ever, be broadcast simultaneously to millions of viewers worldwide in a global simulcast on 23rd November 2013.  

From Canada to Colombia, Brazil to Botswana and Myanmar to Mexico, fans in at least 75 countries spanning six continents will be able to enjoy the episode in 2D and 3D* at the same time as the UK broadcast, with more countries expected to be confirmed within the next month. The US, Australia and Canada have also signed up for the simulcast which will be shown in numerous countries across Europe, Latin America and Africa. In addition to Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman, the one-off special, entitled The Day of the Doctor stars former Time Lord David Tennant as well as Billie Piper, and John Hurt

On top of the worldwide TV broadcast, hundreds of cinemas in the UK and across the world also plan to screen the hotly anticipated special episode simultaneously in full 3D, giving fans the opportunity to make an event of the occasion and be part of a truly global celebration for the iconic British drama series.  Details about tickets for the anniversary screening will be announced in due course.   

Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide comments:

“Few TV shows can still lay claim to being appointment viewing but Doctor Who takes this to another level. In its 50th Anniversary year we wanted to create a truly international event for Doctor Who fans in as many countries as possible and the simultaneous broadcast and cinema screening of the special across so many countries will make for a fitting birthday tribute to our Time Lord.” 

Steven Moffat, Showrunner for Doctor Who and Executive Producer of the 50th Anniversary episode adds:

“The Doctor has always been a time traveller - now he's travelling time zones. On the 23rd of November, it won't be the bad guys conquering the Earth - everywhere it will be The Day of the Doctor!”

The free-to-air 3D coverage will be available to those with access to a 3D TV set and to the BBC’s HD Red Button service. This is part of the BBC’s two-year trial experimenting with 3D production and distribution, which has also included selected coverage from Wimbledon 2012 and the London 2012 Olympic Games. 

The 50th Anniversary weekend for Doctor Who in November will also see over 20,000 fans gather at London’s ExCel for the official celebration event which will feature appearances from cast old and new including Matt Smith and former Doctors Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker and Tom Baker. Further information on the event can be found at www.doctorwho.tv.

Since 1963 Doctor Who has been one of the best loved dramas and certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful sci-fi series ever. The show has received numerous awards across its 50 years and has seen huge commercial success with over 10 million DVDs and 8 million action figures sold globally. It is also the number one BBC show on iTunes in the UK. BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the UK broadcaster distributes Doctor Who to over 200 territories across the world.

The 50th Anniversary special of Doctor Who will be simultaneous broadcast with the UK in the following countries:

Europe - Germany (Fox), Finland (YLE), Poland (BBC Entertainment), Russia (Karousel and NKS) 

North America - USA (BBC America), Canada (Space)

Latin America (on BBC Entertainment and BBC HD) - Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala,  Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela 

Africa (on BBC Entertainment) - Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Central African Republic, Chad,  Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania & Zanzibar, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. 

Australia (ABC)

Asia (on BBC Entertainment) - Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand 

+  Day Of The Doctor will simulcast worldwide on 23rd November 2013, Time TBC

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

1 October 2013
 Day 274: The Ambassadors of Death, Episode Three

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 274: The Ambassadors of Death, Episode Three

Dear diary,

I'm beginning to get a sinking feeling that The Ambassadors of Death will be this Season's slightly duff story for me. It's a shame, really, because there's a lot in here that I think I should be really lapping up, but it's all just falling a bit flat. It doesn't help that the quality of the picture is one of the worst that we've seen from the series - even the film sequences are murky and don't give the best of impressions. There are a few shots during the end-of-episode chase that could almost make my eyes hurt!

And yet, they really are going with it on the action sequences for this story, aren't they? We had the big warehouse shootout in Episode One, the stealing of the recovery capsule in Episode Two, and today we get Liz in a chase, first in Bessie and then by foot. The cynic in me wants to say that it's a good way of them padding out the running time of the story to help fill out the full seven episodes, but maybe they just wanted to go for lots of these big locations scenes? Again, I'm brought back to a bit of a disappointment with the quality of the picture. Were I able to enjoy these scenes in the kind of crystal-clear quality offered in Spearhead From Space, I might be enjoying the tale more. As it is, I'm left feeling as though they're just sort of there. I'm told that the DVD release is a marked improvement on the picture used for the VHS release of the story, too, so perhaps it's a good thing I never bothered to watch that particular tape!

Behind the scenes, The Ambassadors of Death had something of a troubled journey to the screen. I won't go into all the details of the many script revisions, but the overall outcome is that David Whitaker ended up being paid for the first three episodes, and then then rest of the story was tidies up by a mixture of Malcolm Hulke, Terrance Dicks, and Trevor Ray. This means that although Whitaker will receive a credit for another four episodes, this is his last major contribution to televised Doctor Who.

It's quite a momentous occasion - the man has been a part of the series since pretty much day one, script editing the first year-and-a-bit of the programme, and going on to write several key episodes after that. Let's not forget - Whitaker is the man responsible for The Power of the Daleks, and helping to ease in the new Doctor for the first time.

Fitting, therefore, that this story should contain what can nobly be called 'dubious science'. And that's putting it mildly. It's always been quite fun to watch Whitaker's conception of science though out his time with the show, but here it's even commented on by the characters in the story. 'What you're saying is contrary to everything that is understood about radiation' we're told early on, as the 'truth' about the astronauts is revealed. As the episode progresses, Liz and the Doctor both join in when pointing out the slight absurdity of what's going on. As I say, it's very suitable that Whitaker should depart from the series with such questionable stuff going on - I wouldn't have it any other way!

30 September 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 273, The Ambassadors of Death, Episode Two

Dear diary,

The Ambassadors of Death, a thriller for television in seven parts by David Whitaker (sort of)”

Right the way through today's episode, I had a nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that I'd seen it before. I couldn't figure out for the life of me where, or how, and I'd definitely not seen Episode One, or any of the ones that followed this. Then it struck me - this is the first episode of The Quatermass Experiment!

Space shuttle goes up, contact is lost, the shuttle crashes back down (here it's in the middle of a remote location which might as well be the same one from the previous story, in Quatermass it demolishes a house in London), and it turns out that some of the crew are missing. In fairness, we don't yet know that our crew aren't in this shuttle, but they've not been getting any response from inside, and when they do finally manage to make contact, it's just the same message being repeated over and over again. Still, Doctor Who hasn't ever been afraid to 'borrow' ideas from other well-regarded places, and Quatermass is a pretty good template to have in mind when you consider the Seventh Season. I'd be willing to bet money that the production team had this in mind when planning this story.

I'm not really sure what to make of this one so far. Yesterday left me thinking that we were in for another serious drama with elements of comedy injected in all the right places. People insist on calling the stories of Season Seven 'gritty', and it's hard not to simply use that term. Today, the tone has been a bit all over the place. Early on, the Doctor pulls a conjuring trick to hide the recording, and simply pops it back into existence when the time is right. He describes it to Liz as being simple 'transmigration of an object', but the whole thing threw me completely. It was comical, but it just felt very out of place.

We then settled back down for some more (sigh) 'gritty' action, in which the Doctor tricks their prisoner into revealing that he's a member of the military (and it's very well done. It's similar in style to the way that Troughton forced his way into the prison during The War Games, and yet it feels perhaps even more authoritarian when it comes from Pertwee), and then we're treated to a long dialogue-free sequence in which UNIT get the recently returned capsule onto a convoy, before getting ambushed and loosing the thing.

What follows is an odd sequence in which Pertwee puts on a funny voice (it's what he was best known for at the time he started playing the Doctor, so it was bound to come up sooner or later. It does have to be said that he really was the master of voices), and tricks two men into being stuck to his car. It feels a bit slapstick again when they can't remove their hands (as does the button to activate this strange mechanism), and it jolted me right back out of the action again. Before you know it, we're back at the base and given an eerie cliffhanger in which they've finally made contact with the people they hope to be inside the capsule, and are treated to the same message playing on repeat.

I just don't know what to do with any of this. Doctor Who is usually very good at blending comedy with drama (Troughton was a dab hand at doing it - scripted or not!), but here it seems that we can have either one or the other. I'm hoping that it's simply a bit of a blip and the story can settle down and pick which way it wants to lean from now on, so I can try to get my head around it!

The one bit of comedy that I did really enjoy today is the emergence of a running joke about Bessie. The Doctor was patching her up at the start of the last story, and she'd broken down by the time that tale was over. Today, it seems to be in another questionable condition and even the Brigadier makes a joke about it ('I'll see you at the Space Centre. If you can make it'). I quite like the idea that even though the Doctor's gotten hold of his dream car now, it's just not reliable enough to keep him going. But it can stick people to the bodywork .Yep.

30 September 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 273, The Ambassadors of Death, Episode Two

Dear diary,

The Ambassadors of Death, a thriller for television in seven parts by David Whitaker (sort of)”

Right the way through today's episode, I had a nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that I'd seen it before. I couldn't figure out for the life of me where, or how, and I'd definitely not seen Episode One, or any of the ones that followed this. Then it struck me - this is the first episode of The Quatermass Experiment!

Space shuttle goes up, contact is lost, the shuttle crashes back down (here it's in the middle of a remote location which might as well be the same one from the previous story, in Quatermass it demolishes a house in London), and it turns out that some of the crew are missing. In fairness, we don't yet know that our crew aren't in this shuttle, but they've not been getting any response from inside, and when they do finally manage to make contact, it's just the same message being repeated over and over again. Still, Doctor Who hasn't ever been afraid to 'borrow' ideas from other well-regarded places, and Quatermass is a pretty good template to have in mind when you consider the Seventh Season. I'd be willing to bet money that the production team had this in mind when planning this story.

I'm not really sure what to make of this one so far. Yesterday left me thinking that we were in for another serious drama with elements of comedy injected in all the right places. People insist on calling the stories of Season Seven 'gritty', and it's hard not to simply use that term. Today, the tone has been a bit all over the place. Early on, the Doctor pulls a conjuring trick to hide the recording, and simply pops it back into existence when the time is right. He describes it to Liz as being simple 'transmigration of an object', but the whole thing threw me completely. It was comical, but it just felt very out of place.

We then settled back down for some more (sigh) 'gritty' action, in which the Doctor tricks their prisoner into revealing that he's a member of the military (and it's very well done. It's similar in style to the way that Troughton forced his way into the prison during The War Games, and yet it feels perhaps even more authoritarian when it comes from Pertwee), and then we're treated to a long dialogue-free sequence in which UNIT get the recently returned capsule onto a convoy, before getting ambushed and loosing the thing.

What follows is an odd sequence in which Pertwee puts on a funny voice (it's what he was best known for at the time he started playing the Doctor, so it was bound to come up sooner or later. It does have to be said that he really was the master of voices), and tricks two men into being stuck to his car. It feels a bit slapstick again when they can't remove their hands (as does the button to activate this strange mechanism), and it jolted me right back out of the action again. Before you know it, we're back at the base and given an eerie cliffhanger in which they've finally made contact with the people they hope to be inside the capsule, and are treated to the same message playing on repeat.

I just don't know what to do with any of this. Doctor Who is usually very good at blending comedy with drama (Troughton was a dab hand at doing it - scripted or not!), but here it seems that we can have either one or the other. I'm hoping that it's simply a bit of a blip and the story can settle down and pick which way it wants to lean from now on, so I can try to get my head around it!

The one bit of comedy that I did really enjoy today is the emergence of a running joke about Bessie. The Doctor was patching her up at the start of the last story, and she'd broken down by the time that tale was over. Today, it seems to be in another questionable condition and even the Brigadier makes a joke about it ('I'll see you at the Space Centre. If you can make it'). I quite like the idea that even though the Doctor's gotten hold of his dream car now, it's just not reliable enough to keep him going. But it can stick people to the bodywork .Yep.

29 September 2013
 a

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 272: The Ambassadors of Death, Episode One

Dear diary,

It's often said that Doctor Who is quite unlike anything else on TV. It does things differently, and in whichever way it wants to do them. It seems perfectly fitting, then, that the 'cliffhanger sting' an element of the show that's become synonymous with the end of an episode over the last forty years should only make it's first appearance halfway through Season Seven.

In the opening titles.

Actually, it's not even in the opening titles, because for this one story only, they're experimenting with the titles finishing, cutting away to a bit of the story, and then going back into the titles to give us all the episode numbers and writers credits etc! When Doctor Who decides to do something its own way, it really goes for it!

I'm surprised that the 'sting' didn't make more of an impact on me. I'm so used to hearing it crash in over those final seconds of a cliffhanger that it simply feels natural to me that it happens here. It doesn't matter that I've just done two-hundred-and-something other episode without it, because it just sounds right! Truth be told, I had to double check with the end of yesterday's episode to make sure that we hadn't already been hearing it for a while. As time goes by, it'll become one of those things that's so intrinsically linked with Doctor Who, like the police box, or the Daleks.

The Ambassadors of Death is another one of those stories that I simply know nothing about. In this case, I know even less than I did about Doctor Who and the Silurians. I've had the video tape for ages but simply never got around to watching it, and by the time the DVD was released I was already vaguely thinking about doing a marathon, so it went unwatched onto the shelf in anticipation. Aside from the images of the space-suited figures on the cover (who I'm assuming are the bad guys for this story, and thus hidden away inside that other spaceship), I know absolutely nothing about the story.

It's exciting, because it means I'm going into this one completely cold. In some ways, it feels a bit like UNIT-by-numbers based on what we've seen in the series before. You've got a high tech base using technology that's a little in advance of the viewer's own time (Doctor Who and the Silurians), a reporter on site to cover the events for the masses (The Web of Fear - not technically a UNIT story, but close enough), a gritty industrial location (The Invasion, Spearhead From Space), and a chance for UNIT to engage in a big battle (all of the above, really). While it could give this story the same issues that something like Fury From the Deep had - feeling as though it's just going over old ground - all these elements are presented in an interesting enough way to keep me interested, and it's borrowing elements from stories over the last few years, as opposed to simply the ones around it.

The big fight sequence, which takes up a large chunk of today's episode, is my chance to say 'I wish I could see this in high definition' and get that out of the way early. As ever, the location is a really interesting one, and there's some shots that I'd love to see in the highest possible quality. There's one particular shot of the Brigadier, as he comes to a stop and fires his gun in several different directions as the battle rages on around him, which looks great. The rest of UNIT, though… They're really rubbish, aren't they? Half the battle seems to be the soldiers getting shot down, while the other side only sustains one or two injuries. I'm hoping they'll get a chance to redeem themselves before the story is out, or the government will be cutting the Brigadier's funding!

The Doctor is continuing to grow on me, much to my surprise. The rather arrogant air surrounding the Third Doctor is one of the things that I've always hated about the character, but I'm finding myself really enjoying it now. I wonder if it's simply because it's in contrast to the Second Doctor's persona, and I'm enjoying the different approach? A personal favourite from today's episode has to be the way he walks into space command, calling down the lift shaft that he simply 'doesn't have' a pass, before striding across the room and asking the most senior-looking person questions.

We also get to see him working on the TARDIS console in this episode, marking the first time that we've seen it in colour. I've always thought it a bit odd that they kept it green even after the shift (it was green for the black and white episodes, because it showed up better that way in monochrome), but it actually looks quite good! There's a bit of messing around with sending Liz a few seconds into the future - something I'm sure they repeat with Jo Grant at some point - and it's quite nice to see the Doctor back (almost) in his natural habitat.

You have to wonder if the reason the Third Doctor is so interested in working on machinery is so that he can tinker with the TARDIS console. Either there's a little voice in his head mid-regeneration that decides it'll be a handy trait to have, or the Time Lords have simply given him that interest to keep him occupied during his exile, safe in the knowledge that he'll never be able to get the ship working again. I'm wondering, though… how did he get the console out from the ship? It's still stuck in the shape of a police box, and those doors aren't very wide

29 September 2013

After a successful Kickstater campaign earlier this year that raised over $10,000 in funds (82% over their original goal) and had 300+ backers from 22 different countries; PixelWho is back with lots of new art to share.

The art project continues to grow as it enters its third year. The PixelWho project is focused on recreating Doctor Who characters in 8-bit art style. The aspiration of the project is to be the most complete visual catalog and character dictionary for all 50 years (and counting) of Doctor Who in order to celebrate the creativity and dedication of the all the artists who have worked on the program.

The overall goal is to document every character, both significant and incidental, from every Doctor's respective move/series runs. The artist, Nathan Skreslet, freeze frames DVDs and scours episode screen captures and publicity photos in order to recreate each character accurately and roughly to scale. Every pixel is individually laid by hand; no computer conversion program is used. His art is a true labor of love which requires dedication and time.

Thanks to the successful Kickstarter campaign their newest 4th Doctor poster set was printed and is now available. It covers all of Tom Baker's epic 7 season run represented over two posters with over 700 characters in total. The 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and 1st Doctor (William Hartnell) poster prints are also available as well. All the Doctor posters are limited edition and individually hand-numbered, only 500 of each Doctor's posters have been made.

PixelWho has expanded to include smaller prints as well. A print featuring 11 Doctors set against a Gallifreyan symbol print was created, along with collectible character cards, and weatherproof vinyl TARDIS sticker. There's also a Tom Baker face print for 4th Doctor fans. Also don't forget the popular Every Dalek poster which chronicles the changes to the Dalek design from 1963 up to the "Asylum of the Daleks" episode, as well as the various incarnations of Davros. There's also an Every Doctor Bookmark to help keep those book pages in line.

The latest news though is the reveal of a secret art print that had been hinted at but hasn't been shown until now. PixelWho has recreated the Van Gogh Exploding TARDIS image in 8-bit style. As with every art piece they do, each and every pixel is individually placed for this re-creation. Creating a swirly and flowing Van Gogh inspired artwork is not easy when limited to only using pixel squares and half pixel triangles, but it's carried off beautifully. There's even a miniature Vincent Van Gogh in the corner painting the image as a well placed Easter egg.

Interested in owning the latest artworks by PixelWho? Visit their Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/PixelWho and like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PixelWho to get updates on their art projects. Nathan is now working on the 9th Doctor poster and is sharing preview images on their Facebook page.

If you'd like to meet the artist in real life, he goes to several conventions a year and a convention schedule is listed on PixelWho's Facebook page. Both he and his wife, PixelWho's manager, love going to science fiction and comics conventions where they get to meet fans in real life, and frequently attend in cosplay themselves. Please help support this independent artist as he strives to be pixel perfect in providing a complete visual character dictionary and illustrated episode guide for Doctor Who fans.

[Source: PixelWho]

28 September 2013
 a

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 271: Doctor Who and the Silurians, Episode Seven

Dear diary,

While I didn't really know all that much about Doctor Who and the Silurians, the one thing that I was aware of is the ending. I knew that it finished up with the Brigadier blowing up the remaining creatures in the caves. For some reason, in my mind, it came in the form of an airstrike, with bombs being dropped across the moor (perhaps not on Who's budget, though!), but it's the one thing that I did know was coming.

And then, I went and forgot it! As the Silurians start to put themselves back into hibernation about three quarters of the way through today's episode, I started to think that it was a bit of an anti-climax to the story. It was only when the Brigadier started to act a bit shifty towards his scientific team that I suddenly remembered what was going to happen - and then it's bye bye SIlurians.

I hadn't anticipated just how much this is a story all about science verses the military, though. It's present right the way through from the Doctor telling Liz that he doesn't attend anywhere on command, via his squabbles with the Brigadier as the story has progressed and into these final moments. The same story is even playing out deep down in the caves, among the Silurian creatures, as the leader listens and agrees to learn from the humans, while his more war-like friends plot to wipe us from the surface of the planet.

The thing that really sells me on the ending is Jon Pertwee. Didn't expect I'd ever be saying that, considering my dislike for his incarnation over the years, but he really is brilliant here, isn't he. You can really feel the sadness when he talks about all the scientific knowledge that the Silurians held being wasted by this action - and then he describes it as simply being murder. It's an unusual ending to the story, but it really works. I also love the way that Liz tries to justify it by suggesting that the Brigadier must have had orders from above, even though we know that's not the truth.

It's an unusual move in some ways, because it doesn't leave you exactly enamoured with the Brigadier. It's the same kind of decision that cost Harriet Jones her place in Downing Street during The Christmas Invasion, and it's done for similar reasons. I'm kind of glad that they're not afraid to show things like this - there's no reason that all of the Doctor's associates should be whiter-than-white, and if you're going to give one of them a morally-ambiguous action to take, you might as well go large-scale and wipe out an entire species! I hope that they don't just forget about this as we move forward. An event like this needs to make an impact on the characters, and if I thought the Brigadier's relationship with the Doctor was frosty at the start of this story, I think it might pale in comparison to what we might see tomorrow!

I'm sorry to say it, but the thing that has let this story down for me is the Silurians themselves. I've praised the overall design already, and I still think it works, but they just look a bit rubbish in practice. Today we get to see lots of examples of them wobbling their heads around to make their telepathic powers work, and it just looks silly. Everything else about their city is so well designed, that it's a shame to see them coming across so poorly. I think - on balance - I might prefer the new series design.

As for the story itself, I'm really pleasantly surprised. I was so dreading these seven-part stories, but this one has set us off on a great start. THe story has changed direction so many times over the last week that I've had plenty to keep me interested all along. I'm just hopeful that the rest of Season Seven can hold my interest like this…

27 September 2013
 a

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 270: Doctor Who and the Silurians, Episode Six

Dear diary,

There was a point when watching Spearhead From Space where I nearly described it as looking like a 1970s Doctor Who move. It was simply down to the fact that it was all shot on film instead of videotape, which gave it just the right texture to give that effect. Actually, though, I think Doctor Who and the Silurians is playing out almost like a feature film itself!

I really think that you could take this script, with minimal trims here and there (to bring it down from a total running time of almost three hours), and put it on the big screen as a Doctor Who movie. It's sort of got everything you want. You've got the Doctor doing all his clever science stuff, assisted by Liz (here she's mostly reduced to running around collecting things for the Doctor or giving out the antibiotics, but it's her suggestion that leads towards a cure), while the Brigadier mans operations and prepares for a battle as lizard men rise from beneath the Earth. The introduction of the virus has given this story a real shot in the arm (I know. I'm sorry. Please excuse that pun…), and has changed the playing field from being the single moor to the entire world. Before today's episode is out, we've seen pockets of London infected, and there's the first international death in Paris, too.

People (myself included, it has to be said) often think of large-scale invasions in Doctor Who being a hallmark of the more recent series, but here we are in 1970 with some fab location filming at Marylebone station which really gives this story some size. During The Invasion, one of my biggest complaints was that while the whole city - heck, the whole world - was under threat from the Cyberman invasion, everywhere felt really empty. Most of the action takes place in the IE property, so we don't see a great many people being drawn into the story.

Here, we've got the complete opposite. Marylebone station is absolutely packed with people (of course it is! It always is!), and while your gaze is usually focussed on Masters as he alights from the train and woozily makes his way towards a taxi, the hustle and bustle in the background can't help but to make things seem more real. Perhaps the crowning moment is a high shot a little later, in which people are dropping like flies in the station, and the action seems to carry on for ages. Right into the background people are being affected, but we get to see it right in the centre of the screen in a place as busy and as important as this.

(Oddly enough, I've been on trains today that passed me through busy London rail stations, and I did worry that I might be struck down by this Silurian virus. I got even more suspicious when I ran into Steven Moffat boarding the same train this afternoon. Thankfully, it's now 9pm, and I'm feeling fine...)

Like several things in this story, I never knew any of this was here. I couldn't have told you that the Silurians planned to wipe out humanity with a virus, and I couldn't have told you that any of this story took place in London, aside from that opening scene of the Doctor working on Bessie. UNIT really does feel vital to the safety of the city, and all of this is really impressing me. The only thing is… I'm desperate to see all the station sequences cleaned up in HD! How stunning would they look!?!

Yesterday, I briefly praised the performance of several members of the guest cast in this story, and today we've managed to lose another two of them. I can't let them go without mentioning Peter Miles' rather fantastic final scene. He rants and raves at the Brigadier, even going so far as to jump on the table and strangle the man at one point. It's ridiculous. It's over the top. It's overacting of the highest level.

And it's brilliant! I was completely captivated, and despite the fact that it's one of the largest performances we've seen in the entire series, it's completely right for the moment. Dr Lawrence has been building up to this moment ever since the first episode, and it's great to see him going out so boldly now. It gives us a great chance to take a real look at the make-up for the virus, too, which is looking really quite effective.

27 September 2013
 Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Eddie Robson

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: September 2013

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 23rd September 2013

If you remember the Sixties, they say, then you can’t have been there.

The Doctor remembers the Sixties. That’s why he’s taking Nyssa on a trip back to November 1963. Back to where it all began. Back to the birth of the biggest band in the history of British music. Back to see those cheeky lads from Liverpool...

Mark, James and Korky. The Common Men. The boys who made the Sixties swing with songs like Oh, Won’t You Please Love Me?, Just Count To Three and Who Is That Man.

The Doctor remembers the Sixties. And there’s something very wrong with the Sixties, if the Beatles no longer exist…

* * *

So, it’s 2013, the year of the big 5-0. Ever since the series came back to our screens in 2005 and did exactly what Doctor Who, Paul McGann’s solo (so far) televised adventure, didn’t do, people have been counting down the days until November 23rd 2013 reached us, in which time we’ve had a whole host of new Doctors and more Big Finish than you can shake a stick at. (Please don’t shake sticks at Big Finish; they’re rather lovely.)

Now we’re in 2013 at long last, it’s time for the celebrations to begin and the nostalgia to kick in, and kick in big time.  We’ve had stamps, postcards, jigsaws, a host of e-books, Dalek toys and William Hartnell popping up in The Name of the Doctor (though what he’s doing wearing his ‘Earth’ clothes before he’s ever reached Totter’s Lane is a mystery) amongst many other kisses to the past.  Big Finish meanwhile have given us more than anyone else, with their forthcoming anniversary special The Light at the End, the Destiny of the Doctor range of stories which link past and present, and now this trilogy of stories under the 1963 umbrella, and what better way to start it than Eddie Robson does here?

We’re back to the first year of the show, centring a play round a throwaway reference to a band name-checked in the very first episode.  It could all fall flat and feel either forced or, worse, corny, but it doesn’t because Robson is too good a writer to let that happen.

The basic premise, that someone or something has removed The Beatles from time and replaced them with a similar but ultimately lesser band, is a good one, and it allows the play to let rip with some incredible music (the musical suite extras on the first disc are nine minutes of pure loveliness), some nice Beatles humour (a character named Sadie here, the Doctor mentioning All You Need Is Love there, a riff on John Lennon’s famous comment to the Queen et al. to rattle her jewellery) and a really enthusiastic performance from Peter Davison in the lead role.

Never one to give anything less than his all, even when the scripts don’t deserve such effort, Davison is on fire throughout here, rushing from scene to scene with a tangible energy and zeal, whilst Sarah Sutton is equally enthused, playing Nyssa with just the right level of alien bewilderment and a seriousness that hides a wry sense of humour.  The guest cast is similarly strong, Mitch Benn being especially impressive as Not-John-Lennon-Definitely-Not-Please-Don’t-Sue, or Mark as he’s known to his friends.

Where the play really succeeds though is in the script, which is tight and clever, with enough clues to keep you guessing and enough answers to keep you wanting to find out even more as the play unfolds. The ending is neat, too, and doesn’t leave you feeling cheated: we’ve not got ourselves a hexachromite gas situation here, nor is there a Myrka in sight, thank goodness.

Robson successfully hits that fine balance between kissing the past and striding towards the future, and certainly kicks off this latest trilogy in a fine way.  If the other two can match this play’s sense of joy, celebration and innovative energy, then we’ll be in for a treat these coming months. Let’s just hope the Companion Chronicles’ forthcoming celebratory trilogy has as impressive a beginning as 1963 has.

26 September 2013
 Day 269: Doctor Who and the Silurians, Episode Five

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 269: Doctor Who and the Silurians, Episode Five

Dear diary,

In 2010, when the Silurians made their return to Doctor Who, several parts of fandom were up in arms about the pretty radical redesign. It has to be said, I've never minded the look of the new Silurians. I love the face masks worn by the soldiers (even if they are a way of keeping the costs down), and can you imagine Jenny falling for Madame Vastra if she'd looked like one of the Wenley Moor lot?

Still, I've never appreciated before just what a great design this one is. Looking at a proposed design for The Hungry Earth, which is far more in keeping with this original version, does make me a little sorry not to have kept with it. Certainly, the redesign of the Silurians is the most drastic one we've had since the series returned - many of the other revived creators have stayed much closer to the things we'd seen before. The costumes for the creatures here aren't the best, I'll admit - the very obvious join between the head piece and the rest of the body is a real let down, and it's a shame it's so visible - but the actually look of the creatures is a great one. Where everything completely falls apart for me is when they actually start to speak.

Because I've never seen Doctor Who and the Silurians before, and because it's been so long since I last watched Warriors of the Deep, I'm not sure I could remember if the classic Silurians even could speak. That seems a bit silly in retrospect, 'cos they're quite chatty little lizards, but having spent the first three episodes watching just snippets of the creatures moving around in the corner of the screen, they'd built up a bit of a mystery. Even though I knew what was coming, I was still drawn in my it.

The voices are terrible, though. They come across, simply, as 'actor in a rubber monster suit'. Yeah, yeah, I know that's exactly what they are, but it just seems painfully obvious to me. I hate to admit it, but these voices really are bringing down my enjoyment of the story a little. We get a discussion today of the reasons the Silurians have taken to hibernation, and why they're only starting to wake up now. They all seem to make perfect sense to me, and Malcolm Hulke has clearly given it some thought. The entire description, though, left me cold, because I was listening to it through that ridiculous voice.

I don't know how I'd imagined they might talk. Maybe a bit like an Ice Warrior perhaps? They're both lizard-esque, after all. I almost want to hear them talking in a proper, RP accent, simply so I can enjoy the drama on display without this bringing things down. Ah well, I suppose you can't have it all!

And I can't really complain, because elsewhere, this story is boasting one hell of a guest cast! Until his death just a few episodes ago, we had Fulton Mackay, making his only appearance in Doctor Who. We've also got Geoffrey Palmer who's been in pretty much everything over the years, and will be making a couple of returns to the programme over the rest of this marathon. He's turning in an especially nice performance. It helps that when he first appeared, I got to play that favourite game, in which you point at the character every time he's on screen and say aloud 'Oh, it's him! What-his-name. Thingy. What's he been in?' unit lI suddenly realised who it was and felt a little bit silly.

Also making the first of a few appearances in the programme is Paul Darrow, who's taking things very seriously without Colin Baker to act up against. I'm rather liking his performance, too. And then there's Peter Miles, who gets an awful lot of praise for his performance in Genesis of the Daleks from a few years after this, but he's a great character here, too. With all of these fine actors turning up, I've not got any right to complain about a few silly Silurian voices really, have I?

(They are bloody stupid voices, though…)

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