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11 September 2015

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

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

The prologue can be viewed in the player, below:

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

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

8 September 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Things to Look Out For;

1) ‘One of those was a lie…’

2) You So Fine.

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

4) Beware of the Hand Mines.

5) ‘Doctor… what have you done?’

[Source: DWO, Will Brooks]

2 September 2015

Alex Kingston returns to Cardiff to reclaim her role as Professor River Song for the highly anticipated 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special, part of BBC One’s essential seasonal viewing. 

It’s Christmas Day in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveller River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time this Christmas.

Day one of filming the eleventh Doctor Who Christmas special starts this week and is written by Lead Writer and Executive Producer, Steven Moffat, Executive Produced by Brian Minchin, produced by Nikki Wilson and directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Doctor Who, Sherlock).

River Song made her first Doctor Who appearance in 2008 in ‘Silence in the Library’ and ‘Forest of the Dead’ and has appeared in 15 episodes to date.

Award winning Alex Kingston comments on her reappearance:

“To be honest, I did not know whether River would ever return to the show, but here she is, back with the Doctor for the Christmas special. Steven Moffat is on glittering form, giving us an episode filled with humour and surprise guest castings. I met Peter for the first time at Monday’s read through, we had a laugh, and I am now excited and ready to start filming with him and the Doctor Who team. Christmas in September?, why not!”

Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer adds:

“Another Christmas, another special for Doctor Who - and what could be more special than the return of Alex Kingston as Professor River Song. The last time the Doctor saw her she was a ghost. The first time he met her, she died. So how can he be seeing her again? As ever, with the most complicated relationship in the universe, it’s a matter of time ...”

The witty line-up of guest cast joining Alex for a magical adventure on the TARDIS will be announced over the coming months.

+  The 2015 Doctor Who Christmas Special will air on Christmas Day, Time TBC.

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

1 September 2015

BBC Shop has added the 2nd Doctor adventure 'The Underwater Menace', back onto its DVD listings, finally giving confirmation to the fact that the much-anticipated title, will actually be released.

It is likely that the cover (pictured right), which appeared in a recent issue of Doctor Who Magazine*, will still be used.

The DVD will be released on 26th October 2015 and we hope to have full details shortly. 

+  PREORDER 'The Underwater Menace' DVD from BBC Shop for just £13.99!
+  Discuss all the Doctor Who DVD releases in the DWO Forums.

[Sources: BBC Shop]

* Image from Issue 488 of Doctor Who Magazine 

26 August 2015

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writer: Nicholas Briggs

RRP: £10.99 (CD) / £8.99 (Download)

Release Date: August 2015

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online

“The Doctor reveals to Leela that they’re heading for the planet Telos. And K9 has new masters...

On Telos, in the past, the Second Doctor and Jamie are exploring the ‘tomb of the Cybermen’.

Meanwhile, the Cyber-Controller and Cyber-Planner consolidate their plans. Spare parts from Krelos are being used to construct a mighty Cyber army. The Doctor must be captured.

Out of control, the TARDIS tumbles down a chasm and the Doctor and Leela find themselves caught up in full-scale planetary invasion.”

There is a school of thought that says that big is better, and you can see that in work here: an adventure with the Cybermen! Ah, but let’s go one further: bring in an old companion! But we can do more: make it a sequel to a past adventure! Brilliant. But: no, let’s go further: we can set it during the past adventure! And let’s not just do any old story, no! Let’s set it during a much-loved classic: The Tomb of the Cybermen!

On paper, it probably sells: the Fourth Doctor and Leela meeting Jamie on Telos is a scenario which is going to get a certain type of fan tingling with anticipation, and it’s no great leap to put both Nicholas Briggs and David Richardson in that category seeing as they’ve gone ahead and made this tale.

It’s not the first time that this approach has been taken. We had The Five Companions by Eddie Robson taking place within another story, and it worked really well: it was a neat fit that took advantage of a period within the existing story when it could logically have taken place without too great a pinch of salt.  So, we have previous, and a successful example at that.  You can see why they felt confident enough to go down that road again.  Indeed, we’ve had mixed-up Doctor/Companion tales very recently, too, and sequels to popular stories in the past time and again.  How does it fare here, though?

First things first: the ‘fit’ between new tale and old tale is pretty sloppy, and I’m being generous here.  We get Frazer Hines doing his Troughton impression to try and help gel things, but… well, it sounds good in small doses, but often it just sounds like Frazer Hines pretending to be Patrick Troughton, so the effect is not as seamless as everyone seems to think it is if the Extras to this play are anything to go by.  The fit in with the plot of Tomb itself can conceivably work I suppose, but only at a push and certainly not as smoothly as Robson managed before.  This feels far more like someone desperately trying to squeeze something in than something that clicks; like someone pushing the incorrect part of the jigsaw into the wrong hole. You can make it fit, but it’s a clumsy mess.

Second up: Jamie in a Fourth Doctor story. Now, Jamie seems to continually bump into the ‘wrong’ Doctor whilst facing the Cybermen, so this feels less novel and more old and worn than it should do.  Sadly, again it’s a clumsy fit.  Quite simply, there is no need whatsoever for this tale to take place during Tomb beyond it being set on Telos, which it could be at any time.  It’s been done purely to try and shift CDs and with no regard to the story itself.  We’re looking at quantity over quality with regards to elements here.

Thirdly, the story. Again, it’s pretty poor. Cybermen are nasty to K-9, things happen, technobabble, reset, the end.  It’s dull at best, predictable at worst, and sadly as jaded and boring as the inclusion of Jamie and the notion of setting it within another story.  I understand that Big Finish tend to keep things as they are and the risks are normally minimal and then repeated– the four-by-four format was successful once and so we have it once a year now; a Northern companion worked well, so they’ve been aping Lucie Miller ever since; the false-departure for Charley worked well, so let’s do it again (and again and again…) with Hex! Heck, even the covers tend to stick to a type nowadays and take few risks– but this is about as boring an execution of old tricks that we’ve seen.

We need more, especially after a story in which nothing much happens whatsoever, but what we get here, though it has more incident than Krelos, shows less flair or innovation.  Not a good sign.

More than anything else, this feels like a huge disappointment after how strong this series of The Fourth Doctor Adventures has been.  We’ve had sparks and new things, and then… this.  A story so keen on continuity, it forgets to do anything interesting whatsoever. I really wish Big Finish would stop doing this; it’s utterly without point, and I can’t see who it appeals to.  Certainly not this listener.  I’m only giving it two out of ten because the Cybermen voices are at least pretty good. That’s overly kind of me, though.

 “You will be like us,” say the Cybermen. If that entails being anything like this play, then that is a threat indeed.

26 August 2015

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writer: Nicholas Briggs

RRP: £10.99 (CD) / £8.99 (Download)

Release Date: July 2015

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online

“There are dark skies on Krelos… and something gigantic is descending.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Leela set off for some fishing in the mountain pools of Krelos. K9 has interfaced with the TARDIS and has reactivated the architectural configuration from the days of the Doctor’s second incarnation. In passing, the Doctor notes it could do with a good clean. And there’s a familiar piece of material snagged on the console.

Far up the mountain, an aged explorer is in trouble. Will the Doctor and Leela be able to save him and his planet? And what is it that K9 has discovered in the TARDIS?”

The Doctor gets up to an awful lot of things when we’re not looking.  We know this from various sources: the Doctor himself, glimpses of downtime in stories such as Midnight, The Romans, Army of Ghosts and Turn Left (it all goes to pot there, but to start with at least, Donna and the Doctor are just having fun exploring an alien market), companions reciting stories not seen on screen (Rose in Boom Town, for example), and the nagging sense that it can’t all be continual peril for the Doctor and his friends, or you wouldn’t go travelling, would you? There are definitely times when the Doctor and his entourage take a break and simply have a good time.

Why, then, have we not seen this in full before? The argument will no doubt be that if nothing much happens, then it’s not going to be the most exciting of tales, but as if that were a gauntlet thrown on the table, Big Finish have decided to try and prove us wrong and The Fate of Krelos is the result.

What happens in this story, then? Well, Leela and the Doctor wander around the TARDIS for a bit and decide to go fishing whilst K-9 is on the blink. They meet the locals and have a jolly.  And that’s it.

It’s a strange tale in that the format actively fights against the story being told.  We need a cliffhanger midway through the tale, one at the end, and a healthy dose of leading-into-the-final-play-this-series-style plot for Return to Telos to work properly. Because Nicholas Briggs, the story’s author, wants to tell a tale where the Doctor and Leela just relax instead of rush around, there is an inherent wrestle between these necessities and Briggs’s desires. So, K-9 is not how he should be but everyone ignores it uncharacteristically because that would kickstart a story.  Likewise, we get a truly horrendous and cringeworthy bit of info-dumping early on where Leela learns about Jamie purely so that she will know who he is come the final play this series. It’s a scene that exists purely to push things forward and stands out all the more than it usually would, such is the lax pace and absence of event surrounding it all.

Things suddenly whirl into action right at the end, again because it is needed by the demands of both Doctor Who as a series and The Fate of Krelos’s position in the running order of this season of adventures. Maybe placed somewhere else other than the penultimate adventure, a tale like this one could have worked, but as it is, we have what would struggle to fit a standard twenty-three-minute-long episode stretched beyond breaking point.

In spite of all this though,I cannot help but admire Briggs for giving this a shot in the first place. Does it work? Not really, but as a one-off experiment, it is at least worthy of merit. The use of Michael Cochrane in the guest cast is a nice touch, too, giving The Fourth Doctor Adventures a sense of continuity with its past (he was brilliant as Colonel Spindleton in the first series) in much the same way that repeated appearances of Bernard Horsfall and his ilk used to do on screen.

Telos beckons now, so hopefully this is but a blip in what has been the best series of adventures for the Fourth Doctor from Big Finish so far. At least Leela knows who Jamie is now… 

26 August 2015

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writer: Nicholas Briggs, Alan Barnes, Matt Fitton, Simon Barnard and Paul Morris

RRP: £40.00 (CD) / £20.00 (Download)

Release Date: August 2014

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online

“A very special story which at last provides a heroic exit for Colin Baker's much-loved Time Lord. Four hour-long episodes, connected by the presence of the Valeyard, the entity that exists between the Doctor's twelth and final incarnations.”

If you’re looking for a success story with regards to Big Finish, then the Sixth Doctor is it. On TV, he was trapped at a time when there was chaos behind the scenes and whilst very few have anything bad to say about Colin Baker, who gave it his all regardless of what he was given (whatever people say about The Twin Dilemma, Baker himself is magnificent in it through and through), it’s arguable that poor Sixie, as he’s affectionately known, deserved better. The books which followed gave it a good shot, as did the comics, but it was the creation of Big Finish and getting Baker himself back into the driving seat that really worked wonders. Hearing him get his teeth into some fantastic scripts, and then being paired with Evelyn and Frobisher as well as Peri and Mel, thrust him back into the limelight and created a massive reappraisal for that most criticized of incarnations.  It was long overdue and much deserved, so it seems fitting that it’s Big Finish who are telling the story of Sixie’s demise.

Well, telling one version of it, anyway.  The novelisation of Time and the Rani threw some tumultuous buffeting our way (… no, me neither), Gary Russell had a go in Spiral Scratch and then we have Time’s Champion as well, bobbing around in the background.  The good thing, then, is that if people aren’t too keen on this version of The End of Colin, we have others to dip into, even those with tumultuous buffeting. (Whatever happened to the seatbelts seen in Timelash? There’s a story for another day…)

Big Finish’s approach to Sixie’s end (stop laughing at the back) is to give us four, hour-long stories (give or take. The final play clocks in at under sixty minutes whilst the first is closer to seventy-minutes-long). They’re set in various places in The Doctor’s life and have one link beyond the Sixth Doctor himself: the Valeyard. Considering what he was set up to be, it’s amazing really that nothing more was ever done with him on screen, so it makes sense to explore that here instead and it’s fitting that it’s the Sixth Doctor once more doing battle with him.

Sadly though, whilst all this looks good on paper, it doesn’t entirely translate well when listened to. The main issue really is one of connectivity.  This release is called ‘The Last Adventure’, so it’s not unfair to have an expectation that everything is going to slot together neatly, but no. Only the final play can in any terms be labeled a ‘last’ adventure, and it only really fits in with one other play in the release, leaving one wondering why they bothered listening to the other two.  As one-offs, they’d be fine, but as a build-up to the final hour, they fall massively short as they don’t actually build much.

Let’s look at the plays themselves in their own rights though.  We begin with The End of the Line by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris, a ghostly tale of mysterious trains and even more mysterious deaths. The mixture of trains, abandoned stations and Colin Baker cannot help but bring to mind In Memory Alone, the third story in the Stranger series, Bill Baggs’s straight-to-video series which found its lead writer and plot visionary in… Nicholas Briggs! You do wonder if the inclusion of this tale here is a nod to the roots of Briggs’s working relationship with Baker, but I am probably reading too much into things.

The story itself is fine, but nothing new.  We’ve had ghost stories in this manner in the past and the twists are, again, nothing Big Finish haven’t done before.  It’s not to say that the play is bad per se, just a bit… underwhelming.  We’ve been here before and will do again.  Likewise, one of the big selling points for this tale is something the Sixth Doctor specifically, and arguably uniquely (sorry, Clara), has experience of: the introduction of a new companion some way into their friendship.  wap Mel for Constance, and hey presto.

Again, I imagine that the parallels here between Constance and Mel both getting introduced in ‘final’ stories for the Sixth Doctor are intended, but whereas Mel came with a fully kitted-out character, Constance here is the ultimate definition of generic.  Miranda Raison is a fine actor, but she is given nothing to go with here. Her character is blander than any of the support and you wonder just why they bothered.  I imagine someone at Big Finish said “Hey! Now here’s a good idea!” and then went ahead and commissioned this without actually working out what her character is. I hope so at least, or her forthcoming trilogy is going to be painful.

Second up, we have Alan Barnes in the writing seat and The Red House. Reuniting the Doctor with Charley, it’s a tale of werewolves, scientists and afflicted villagers. It feels similar to The Doomwood Curse in that respect, with a clash of science fiction and folktale trappings, but whilst The End of the Line felt overly recognizable, Barnes’s script here feels fresh and fits in with Charley perfectly, maybe because of the familiarities. (If you’re the sort of fan who is kept awake at night by the thorny issue of continuity and placements, then fret not: we get a very clumsy introduction where Charley reels off a list of previous adventures and where this one falls. It’s painful, but is going to satisfy a certain type of fan, so it’s probably best to have it in here than not!)

This play actually ties in to what’s to come, and as such has more merit in this box set than others. It also uses Charley and her relationship with this particular incarnation of the Doctor intelligently, and at over an hour doesn’t outstay its welcome, telling a decent story in its own rights whilst also moving pieces forward in anticipation of the finale.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Stage Fright by Matt Fitton, which reunites the Sixth Doctor with Jago and Litefoot whilst Flip is in tow.  It’s not a bad story in itself, but what Red House gets right, this gets wrong.  It barely touches upon the final installment at all, and lovely though it is to have Jago and Litefoot present and correct, there is no reason for it whatsoever other than it being a selling point for the box set. Flip, meanwhile, seems to be here purely to give us contrasts between the time period and our own (“Oh! It’s just like The X Factor! Star Wars! Other-Franchise-That-Is-Popular!”) and little else. She’s also responsible for a dénouement which makes the oft-criticized schmaltz of Fear Her look subtle.  Surely Peri, being an American in a time of colonialism and the Empire, would have been a better/more interesting fit, especially now we know that she carries on travelling with Sixie after the events of Trial? It feels like a wasted opportunity.  Indeed, the exclusion of Peri from proceedings, given how integral she was to the Sixth Doctor’s era on screen and indeed Trial of a Time Lord, feels like a massive oversight, and makes this whole set seem more a celebration of Big Finish and its various creations than representative of the Sixth Doctor’s tenure, really.

This is very apparent in the final story of this set, Nicholas Briggs’s entry, The Brink of Death, in which Mel is mostly ignored in favour of this set’s Not-Lucie-Miller-Companion, Genesta the plucky Time Lord. Ever since Lucie was a hit, Big Finish have been trying to ape her success (again, see Flip), and this is but the latest effort. No spoilers here, but it doesn’t work and she has ‘Disposable’ written all over her from the word ‘go’, and I wish they’d stop doing it.  It’s getting tedious now.

There is an attempt to use her fate to compare attitudes to death and life between the Doctor and Valeyard, but nothing really comes of it. For all the talk of the two Time Lords being Yin and Yang/one and the same, you never get the impression that they are actually the same person. You’d think there would be an attempt to show the Sixth Doctor being tempted down that path but it never materializes.

So, with Mel put to one side and a substitute companion in place, this play harkens back to The Red House and works its way towards the end.  We know from the very off that the end is approaching, so much of this is painted as a race against time: or would be, if time wasn’t continually extended and frozen all over the place, ruining any sense of pace.  No matter though, what about the plot itself?

Well, it’s reliant on two things: the Doctor having no real sense of curiosity (“Oh! So that explains that thing that happened ages ago that I probably should have looked into but didn’t because Reasons”) and the Valeyard being nigh-on omnipotent.  A big point is made time and again of the Valeyard thwarting all of the Doctor’s plans because he knows exactly what he did before and what he’s thinking, which only makes the ending– the Doctor does something that all logic and story suggests the Valeyard should see coming but, erm, doesn’t because it’s the end of the story– all the sillier and frustrating.  It’s lazy and, more importantly, at odds with everything we’ve been told so far, so what, I wonder, was the point of it all.  It certainly makes little more sense than tumultuous buffeting: arguably, that makes a smidgeon more sense than what we get here.

The end is here though, and Time And The Rani approaches. The plot of this dovetails neatly into that story (sort of. It’s never explicitly stated that it’s the Rani firing beams at the TARDIS here, but it surely has to be, or else she’d die on Lykertya or at the very least not look like Kate O’Mara).  Colin, of course, gets some final words.  Well, several.  He has a brilliant last line when talking with the Valeyard, but sadly then waffles on for a whole other scene and gets a line that is in no way as memorable or satisfying. It’s a shame that they sacrifice less for more, but that is perhaps indicative of this set overall. We could have got a series of episodes that builds up to the final end, but instead we get an advertisement for Big Finish Productions.

Final thoughts then? Tricky.  It’s an ending for sure, and the final episode isn’t awful, just illogical.  What’s most trying with this release is that you can easily see where things perhaps should have gone: a set leading to a finale, rather than a finale with almost no build-up. A set absent of Peri and largely ignoring Mel in favour of Big Finish’s own creations.  An introduction to a new assistant, but one without any characteristics whatsoever. A set that doesn’t know when to stop or, really, start.

The Sixth Doctor is surely still Big Finish’s success story, and Colin Baker still a star, but for such a flagship release, we should have got something far better than this. This is in no way the best this incarnation has to offer or even close to the best Big Finish and Baker have given us. Call this a last adventure if you will, but I’m hoping for far better to come. 

26 August 2015

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writer: Eddie Robson

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: June 2015

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online

“The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Steven and Vicki to the Italian city of Ravenna in the year 540 – besieged by the army of the celebrated Byzantine general Belisarius. Caught up in the fighting, Steven ends up on a boat bound for Constantinople, the heart of the Roman Empire.

Rescuing Steven, however, is the least of the Doctor's problems – because he shouldn't be mixed up in this particular adventure at all. Someone has sabotaged his own personal timeline, putting him in the place of his First incarnation... but who, and why? The truth is about to be revealed – but at what cost to all of the Doctors, and to the whole future history of the planet Earth?”

It’s been a bumpy old ride, but finally here we are: The Secret History, the final story in Big Finish’s latest trilogy. We’ve had the more-Fourth-than-Third-Doctor story The Defectors and then, sadly for us all, Last of the Cybermen, which is about as awful a play as we’ve ever been given by Big Finish, even if it did try to explain away the photograph-roundel-walls in the TARDIS. (I begrudgingly give it a nod for that.)  This has been a pretty lackluster trilogy so far then, but thankfully they’ve gone and saved the best ‘til last.

For a start, this feels just like a First Doctor story. Put William Hartnell in the title role instead of Peter Davison and it would feel just right in the way the other two plays would not have done.  Eddie Robson has easily written the most successful play for this different-Doctors remit, no question about it.

It perhaps also helps that Steven and Vicki, the two companions in this tale, fit in perfectly with the story being told, too, and gel with the Fifth Doctor in a way that makes you long for this troop to have further adventures. Peter Davison, Peter Purves and Maureen O’Brien are all class acts and they milk Robson’s brilliant script for all it’s worth.

The story itself takes place in the year 540 CE: Ravenna is under the control of the general Belisarius, Steven has been whisked off to fight, and someone is in the shadows, manipulating the Doctor’s personal history and timeline… but who? And why?

The question of who is a thorny one, really. It should be a big secret, and indeed if you simply downloaded the story and seen the cast list as put on the Big Finish website, it would be. However, if you get the CD, then there is a whacking great spoiler on the cover, clearly showing you the name of the actor playing the antagonist, a character that actor is associated with. Added to that is the CD artwork which decides to place an image representing the antagonist in the centre of it all: why that and not, say, a generic roman soldier or even Belisarius? It seems odd that Big Finish have gone to great lengths to hide the identity of the Doctor’s foe and then place them smack-bang in the middle of the cover.  It’s a pity as it would have been a nice surprise otherwise.  Instead, having seen the cover and then received the CD, I met the revelation of the baddie with a shrug instead of the shock I should have felt.

Just in case you haven’t put two and two together though or been spoilt, I’ll refrain from naming them here. Suffice to say that they fit perfectly though, with both the story and the notion of incorrect Doctors across this trilogy. The actor in question works brilliantly with Davison, and again, you would gladly see more of them in the future if possible. It’s also a welcome return to their character; a nice continuation of their story which adds some genuine sadness to proceedings. Yes, they’re doing the wrong thing, but you can see why and it is heartbreaking in many ways, as is the implication that they’ve tried to carry out this plan time and time again, forever caught in a loop of revenge and upset and rage.

The use of this character proves a smart one for this, the 200th ‘main range’ release from Big Finish, as it ties in with one of their other most successful runs: a celebration, and rightly so, of some of the company’s most popular outputs.  It’s nice to see Big Finish approach this milestone with some subtly and restraint as it’s not something they’ve been doing as of late, and as such it makes for one of the most satisfying releases from the company for a long while.

Two hundred releases though: an impressive milestone.  Not every release is a gem, and there is a strong argument to be made that quality has suffered as of late due to the vast quantity of output, but the importance, and indeed at times genuine brilliance, of Big Finish is not something to be sniffed at. The world(s) of Doctor Who, and indeed my own world, would be far poorer without them.

Just think of three things they’ve given us off the top of your head: the Eighth Doctor’s adventures through time and space, the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher, the Companion Chronicles.  Impressive, and one can easily pluck out three more: Dalek Empire, Charlotte Pollard, the magnificent Jago and Litefoot series. And more still: Melanie Bush and the Sixth Doctor and Adric all being given stories arguably far better, and certainly far better received, than they had on screen. And then there is the array of brilliant writers: Eddie Robson and Joseph Lidster and Rob Shearman and Uma McCormack and Jacqueline Rayner and Andrew Smith and John Dorney and… and…

And one could go on.  This has not been an especially good run of stories, but The Secret History itself is a fantastic play that richly deserves the full marks it’s been afforded below.

The not-so-secret history of Doctor Who will sing highly of Big Finish in years to come, and rightly so.  Here’s to more adventures… 

12 August 2015

A second trailer for Series 9 of Doctor Who is now online.

The trailer, which can be viewed in the player below, gives us more glimpses into the ninth series of the show:

+  Series 9 of Doctor Who will air on 19th September.

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

4 August 2015

Our friend Martin Johnson over at EverybodyElse Productions has been in touch with details on his new Kickstarter campaign for an exciting new SciFi audio drama.

H. G. Wells’ famous novel The War of the Worlds has been adapted many times in various forms. However, none of these adaptations have been truly faithful to the original story.

Everybodyelse Productions has launched an exciting new Kickstarter campaign, running from 1st August 2015 - 5th September 2015, with the hope of bringing the original novel to life as a cinematic audio drama that promises to be faithful to the source material. Keeping the Victorian setting of southern England, this adaptation will retain the dark, scary and often horrific elements of the story that sets it apart from all previous adaptations.

The 2-hour full-cast audio drama production of H. G. Wells’ The Coming of the Martians, to be directed by Big Finish stalwart Lisa Bowerman and adapted on audio by Nick Scovell, will be produced in 5.1 surround sound with Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound encoded stereo for the CD and digital releases.

Martin Johnson, Producer of The Coming of the Martians comments:

“It has been a life-long dream of both myself and Nick to bring the original alien invasion story to life in a way it has never been done before. There is a huge audience out there just waiting to hear the spine-chilling Fighting Machines stride over them in a realistic, atmospheric soundscape and experience Victorian artillerymen battle these giant metal tripods on the river like never before. We aim to create this unique surround sound production utilising best the audio format has to offer. No silly voices, no cartoon style zaps and certainly no singing.”

Script Writer Nick Scovell adds:

“No updating, no switching continents, no re-imagining - this will be the real deal! H. G. Wells’ terrifying vision of the collapse of civilization is coming to life as he envisaged it.

Director Lisa Bowerman says:

“When it comes to the story of The War of the Worlds there’s quite a legacy of previous adaptations, most famously the Orson Wells radio adaptation back in the 1930’s. What makes this particular adaptation different is that we’re going back to the original source material, bringing in the terrifying darker elements that the novel is famous for.”            

If successfully funded, the production will be released to backers in January 2017, when EU copyright on the novel expires, and to the general public shortly after.

+  Help Fund this project at Kickstarter!

[Source: EverybodyElse Productions]

4 August 2015

BBC Worldwide have unveiled a new promo picture [pictured-right] featuring an iconic image from Episode One of Series 9 of Doctor Who; 'The Magician's Apprentice'.

The image features The Doctor and Clara running away from an explosion on an alien planet.

+  Series 9 of Doctor Who airs Saturday 19th September 2015

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

27 July 2015

DWO interviews Ex-Doctor Who DVD Commissioning Editor, Dan Hall, regarding his time on the range, his current projects, and what the future could hold for the Classic Series range.

What have been some of your fondest memories in your time working on the Doctor Who DVD range?

Having the opportunity to work with some great people. Two of my bosses - Sue Kerr and Stuart Snaith - are people who I respect highly in the Home Entertainment publishing world. I learnt a huge amount from them over the years, and they were always highly supportive of the content.

Do you have any regrets, any tears any anxieties from your time on the range?

Ah! I would have liked to have taken more risks. It is impossible to please everybody, and I should have spent less time trying to do this.

What have you been up to since the last release and do you have any non-Doctor Who future projects we can look out for?

It’s been a real mixture of things since Doctor Who. Probably the biggest was working with PWL and Cherry Red records on the recent four Kylie Minogue Special Editions. Pup worked with the record company restoring the content, designing and authoring the DVDs. It was a great project and my teenage self would have been very proud!

We gave over control of the next question to the @DrWhoOnline Twitter followers and Francis (@lifetrainee) asks: “I'm a producer with an unlimited budget ready to go*. What would be your dream extra for any of the classic stories? *[I'm not]”

An unlimited budget is never a good thing! Limitations feed creativity, and certainly some of the best content we made for the range was by no means the most expensive. Where money can help is by providing consistency of content; a regular schedule of commissions and releases.

But if I had had a wee bit more money on some of the releases, I would have liked an Ed Stradling season overview for every single season. The few we had were always insightful and fascinating.

What do you feel the future is for the Classic Series Doctor Who range? Physical / Digital? Season Box-sets? Or has it had its day?

Classic DW has a terrible habit of not going away! It was broadcast and people wanted more. It was broadcast again and they wanted more. Then it came on VHS and they wanted more. Then DVD… So I would be a pretty bad gambler if I said it had had its day.

I am working in other parts of the industry these days and don’t have much to do with Classic DW. But I have genuine confidence that the BBC and BBC Worldwide will take the brand somewhere exciting. Why wouldn’t they?! As for what that is, that is a much wider Home Entertainment question. And if you find the answer, there are a lot of studios in Hollywood that I’m sure would like to speak with you!

Follow Dan Hall on Twitter!
Follow DoctorWhoOnline on Twitter
+ Check Out the Classic Series Doctor Who titles on Amazon.co.uk.
Check Out more interviews in the DWO Interviews section.  

[Source: DWO]

14 July 2015

BBC Worldwide has today released its 2014/15 Annual Review which highlighted some of the achievements that Doctor Who has made.

The main BBC Media Centre website also quoted Doctor Who Series 8 as being the "top selling programme of the year" for 2014, and the fact that the show is now licensed in 189 countries.

Below are some more of the stand out achievements for the show, as mentioned in the report:

Doctor Who: The World Tour

"Stand-out achievements for our core brands included Doctor Who: The World Tour. Building on the success of the 50th anniversary we embarked on a 12-day global promotional tour for series eight.We visited South Korea,Australia, USA, Mexico and Brazil introducing the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and companion Clara, Jenna Coleman, to international fans. This was a first for a British TV series and featured a creative social media programme with activity on Facebook generating 130m post impressions and more than 2m video views across Facebook and YouTube."

Doctor Who on BBC America

"On BBC AMERICA, Doctor Who continued to grow with the debut of the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and launch of series eight delivering the show’s highest ratings to date – up 19.7% versus prior series, with an average of 2.2m viewers each week – while licensing sales on the title returned year-on-year growth of 29.1%."

 The report also discussed matters under review, which included plans for Series 10 of Doctor Who.

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

13 July 2015

BBC Worldwide are excited to announce that Michelle Gomez and Ingrid Oliver will be joining Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat at the official Doctor Who Festival, which will take place at ExCeL, London, on the 13th, 14th and 15th November 2015. The Festival will offer fans an exclusive and interactive glimpse into how the inimitable world of Doctor Who is created.

We are also pleased to confirm that photo opportunities* will be available with Peter Capaldi, Ingrid Oliver and Michelle Gomez, plus the opportunity to have an iconic photo taken on the set from Series 9.  


In a weekend event like no other, television fans of all ages will be invited to see how one of the UK’s most-loved television programmes is created. Ticket holders will be able to discover the inspiration behind the Doctor’s recent adversaries, the imagination required to create whole new worlds and the ingenuity that goes into designing and making the beautiful backdrops that give Doctor Who its unique look. This Festival is a must-attend event for die-hard Doctor Who fans and for those who want to learn more about television production, with many, many more exciting announcements to come!

Day Ticket Prices:

-  Standard ticket: £65
-  Standard child ticket: £30
-  Standard family ticket: £165
-  TARDIS ticket: £110 - SOLD OUT
-  TARDIS child ticket: £50 - SOLD OUT
-  TARDIS family ticket: £285 - SOLD OUT

-  THEATRE SHOWS – exclusive access to the writers and cast from the series as they talk about how to make an idea become reality on a series as big and bold as Doctor Who.
-  ON SET PHOTO – photo opportunities on one of the current filming sets.
-  WARDROBE DEPARTMENT – an exhibition of costumes and props from the series.
-  COSPLAYERS SHOWCASE - where fans can showcase their impressive Doctor Who-themed outfits.
-  THE FAN CHALLENGE! –Fans young and old can battle it out in the ultimate test of Doctor Who knowledge in order to be crowned the ultimate fan.
-  DRAMA SCHOOL - the techniques and secrets that the cast learn when filming Doctor Who.
-  OFFICIAL MERCHANDISE - the ultimate fan shopping experience.
-  PRODUCTION VILLAGE – a chance for fans to explore a day in the life of the production team and crew.
-  PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES - an opportunity for fans to purchase an individual photograph with the current cast members appearing.

The ticket price includes day entry to the Festival, access to three theatre shows, lanyard, floor planner and all of the above. TARDIS tickets to include the above plus brochure, lounge access, front block theatre show seats and a Doctor Who goody bag! Tickets, further information and monthly newsletters are available from www.doctorwhofestival.com.

Watch the promotional trailer in the player, below:

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

11 July 2015

Further to Thursday's press release and trailer, LEGO Dimensions and Warner Bros. have sent DWO an exclusive Doctor Who image.

The image, which you can view int he right-hand column, features The Doctor, Clara and The Cybermen.

Watch the official trailer for Doctor Who LEGO Dimensions in the player, below:

[Sources: LEGO Dimensions; Warner Bros.]


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