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Roderick Donald

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

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

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27 April 2011

BBC4 will be paying tribute to Elisabeth Sladen by airing the Classic Series story; The Hand of Fear.

The adventure, which features Sladen's last regular appearance as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who, will air in two parts on Monday 9th May and Tuesday 10th May 2011.

+  The Hand of Fear was originally broadcast between 2nd-23rd October 1976.

[Source: Radio Times]

27 April 2011

Doctor Who star, Matt Smith has been nominated as Best Actor in this years BAFTA Awards for his role in Doctor Who.

It is to be noted that this is the first time an actor who has played The Doctor, has ever been nominated in the role, and will be going head-to-head with Sherlock star, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Other Doctor Who related personalities to receive BAFTA nominations include:

Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss - Best Drama Series - Sherlock

Toby Whithouse - Best Drama Series - Being Human

Anna Maxwell-Martin - Best Actress - Red Riding

Lynda Baron - Best Supporting Actress - Coronation Street

Stephen Fry - Best Entertainment Performance - QI

+  The awards take place on Sunday 22nd May 2011.

[Source: Neil Marsh]

24 April 2011

The overnight viewing figures are in for 6.1: The Impossible Astronaut.

The episode achieved a figure of 6.5m viewers, with an audience share of 36.7%.

Doctor Who was the second most-watched programme of Easter Saturday, with Britain's Got Talent taking the top slot with 9.5m viewers.

Final BARB ratings will be available within the next 10 days.

+ What did you think of the episode? Rate / Discuss in the DWO Forums!

[Source: Andy Parish]

23 April 2011

The DWO WhoCast Doctor Who Podcast is covering the New Series as soon as it airs each week.

The podcast, which is available weekly for FREE from iTunes and the DWO WhoCast website , will be moving to Saturday evenings whilst Series Six airs, and immediately after each episode has finished, you can find the latest episode of the DWO WhoCast online, with a review of the most recent adventure.

So at 6:45pm Tonight you will find Episode #190 available for download with our review of 6.1: The Impossible Astronaut.

** Don't forget to Rate / Discuss each episode of the DWO WhoCast in the DWO Forums!

+ Subscribe to the DWO WhoCast via iTunes.

+ Download the iWho App for just £1.19, complete with DWO WhoCast Episodes!

[Source: DWO]

22 April 2011

Tom Baker's Big Finish debut is underway!

Recording commenced at 10am on Friday 22nd April on Big Finish’s The Fourth Doctor Adventures, starring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson.

The first six-part audio series debuts on CD and download in January 2012, and pre-orders are already available at www.bigfinish.com.

Big Finish have sent DWO a photo [pictured right] showing Tom and Louise enjoying the Easter sun before recording commenced with Scene 2, INT TARDIS with the Doctor and Leela.

(And yes, it’s the wooden console room...)

[Source: Big Finish]

22 April 2011

SFX Magazine have added a recent interview with Steven Moffat to their website:

So your second year as showrunner is upon us. What did you learn from your first?

“The trouble with Doctor Who is that it’s so story-specific. There isn’t a set way of making Doctor Who. With a lot of shows, like Press Gang or Coupling, you think, ‘Well, that’s how we make it, that’s what it looks like and generally speaking there’ll be a scene like this…’ That sounds very reductionist and awful, but my favourite series of all time, The West Wing, falls into that category. Most of them are pretty much the same. You could, pretty much, take various different episodes of The West Wing and stitch them together in a different order, graft the sub-plot of one onto the main plot of another. It’s a genius work of art, but you do realise at a certain point you know how to make it. Doctor Who isn’t like that. You’re doing pirates one week, and then you’re doing a spaceship – possibly in the same episode!”

And you never get a sense of confidence making it?

“I think we’re much, much more confident now than we were in the beginning, just because at the very start you’re simply flailing. It’s like being strapped to the front of a train and trying to shout instructions to the driver. You have no idea how fast it’s going to go, the speed it’s going to go…”

You cast the Doctor spectacularly well. What strengths did you see in Matt’s performance last year that you wanted to capitalise on this year?

“That was a very, very gradual process. It was obvious from the get-go, from the very first scenes he did where they’re on the beach in the Angels episodes and he’s perfect as the Doctor. He’s not as good as he is now, but he’s perfect. He came through the door tonally perfect. He absolutely got what sort of show it would be. Quite purposefully, and sensibly, I said that if this new Doctor is a bit David Tennanty at the beginning then that makes perfect dramatic sense. I was still probably writing him a bit David Tennanty. David had made such a huge impression in the role that it made sense. But also, a few minutes before he meets little Amelia Pond, he was David Tennant, so why would he immediately not be like that? So Matt stretched into the part and took it over and made it his own, and sort of obscured his predecessor. It’s instinctive but he becomes much dafter, much sillier, and curiously more the old boffin than David ever was, in a way, even though he’s the younger one. Just more sort of basically mental!”

Did you spot stuff like Matt being really good with kids, and think, “That’s something that I can use”?

“Well, that was purely by accident. I’d already written the scene where he meets Amelia. But he’s fantastic with children. When I started writing it I was vaguely writing the Doctor as I roughly wrote it for Chris and for David. At a certain point you realise that you are writing stuff that you would never have written for Chris and David – the daffiness, the fact he forgets things, the fact he’s hopeless with women and flirtation and all that stuff, which David’s Doctor and Chris’s Doctor were very, very good at. All that gangliness… you get influenced by his weird body language, and the fact that he does seem like a completely different creature from a young, good-looking 28 year-old, which is, in fact, what he is. He’s resurrected the idea of the Doctor being mad. Not just eccentric but properly mad. I think Gareth Roberts’ episode ‘The Lodger’, which was the last one we did in the first series, was the fullest Matt performance. All that stuff where he’s doing the air-kissing because he thinks, “Is that how we talk?” – you sort of buy it. And he drinks wine and just goes bleurghh and spits it out. And even though that’s in direct contradiction of things that we know about the Doctor being a sophisticate, it completely sits with him, and those are moments that you would never have bought with Chris or David.”

“The Beast Below” had a particularly jolting moment where he suddenly lashed out in anger. But that wasn’t something that you seemed to revisit.

“We do revisit it. You will see scary Doctor again, without doubt. That wasn’t a particular decision. I quite like writing a grumpy Doctor. It just didn’t really come up in the stories. It wasn’t moving away from that at all. And we do have proper grumpy Doctor returning. And moments of scary Doctor, as well. Because he’s very, very good at them. It’s quite alarming – I’m used to the Doctor’s anger, and indeed his sadness being, in a very good way, quite theatrical, whereas Matt’s not that sort of actor, so when he does anger or tragedy or any of those big emotional things it’s quite visceral; it’s quite serious and heartfelt. It’s horrible to think that you’ve brutally disappointed this sweet man. And he is. Let’s not pretend otherwise about the Doctor, he is fundamentally incredibly sweet and incredibly kind, and all the things that he has to be to be the Doctor. But there are moments when he loses that, or he can’t sustain it.”

Is it quite a collaboration between you and Matt in shaping the Doctor?

“I don’t think we’ve ever – or certainly not for a very long time – had a proper sit down conversation about it. It’s more a collaboration in the sense that I’m writing stuff, seeing what he’s doing, instinctively following him, and then he’s following the script. Oddly enough, like David before him, he’s absolutely punctilious about dialogue. He never paraphrases. If he wants to change a line he’s on the phone. He’s very, very precise, very exacting, never ‘make it up’. But I do think the show is the Doctor, so you have to leave a blank space in a way and let the new Doctor, the current Doctor, occupy it.”

Can you talk about the decision to split the series in two? What drove that creatively?

“I think there was a very, very odd shape to last year, because we had nothing but event episodes for a while. David’s last year was occasional specials, and every one of them, of course, was promoted as an event. And then you had the huge event of David’s last two episodes, and then you had the huge event of Matt arriving. And then you think ‘And now it’s just on television…’ That’s good, but it starts to feel routine. And I kept saying, ‘We need a mid-season finale.’ It’s a long time to expect people to follow a big old arc plot, 13 weeks. You need something in the middle that makes it big. But of course the term mid-season finale literally means nothing. You can say that as many times as you like. It’s not a finale. It’s bollocks. It’s on next week. In fairness the idea has been floated several times for Doctor Who, and this time I thought let’s have that, let’s just do it twice. Because there’s a moment in the middle of a series where everyone just thinks ‘Well, it’s been back on for a few weeks, you can rely on it, it’s always there…’ So they think if they miss an episode it doesn’t matter so much, it can’t be a very important one this week. I know people think that way, because I think that way about some other television series, that I really, really like, but I don’t completely love. And the interesting thing about Doctor Who, and the challenge of it always is, if we do a special episode with all this publicity and all guns blazing, we can get 11, 12 million viewers. That’s a fact. But the core audience, the audience that we don’t ever drop below is probably around 6.5 million. And I would like to know how we can more often access those other six million, and try and keep them onboard. And say to them ‘Don’t just leave because Christmas is over. Maybe you want to see the next one too? And maybe the one after that?’ Just lure more of them in.”

So how does that impact on your storytelling? Is it as simple as chopping the season in two?

“Well, no, because it forces you to say ‘Well, there’s going to have to be a finale.’ You can’t just pretend that episode seven is going to be just another episode, and it will suddenly stop. No, there has to be a big va-voom, and then there has to be another va-voom that reintroduces the series.”

How did you want to kick off the series?

“My big thing was starting with a two-parter, and starting with quite a dark, quite an actiony, quite scary one, as opposed to our traditional approach of starting with a romp.”

And you filmed in America for that one.

“It does make more difference than you feel morally that it should. You suddenly see them standing in the desert, and you can see miles to the horizon. It feels properly American that two-parter. I think it’s a very, very convincing America that we pull off.”

Can you talk about the diversity of stories that you’re giving us this year?

“Curiously enough, I never really believe that you approach a television series by balancing it all. Would you want it to be properly balanced or have all of them just be really good? In other words, if you had two historicals in a row and they were both fantastic, who’s going to write in and complain? How many people are going to do that? How many people noticed in the second series of Doctor Who that ‘Tooth And Claw’ was only two weeks away from ‘Girl In The Fireplace’, and they were both celebrity historicals? Who cared? Did anybody care? So you don’t worry about that. So, yes, there’s diversity because it’s Doctor Who, but frequently the diversity is about the genres you move into. Matt Graham gives us quite a dark one, a dark, clever, very funny a two-parter. And I’d say Matt Graham’s Doctor Who is slightly different, it’s more like a police procedural somehow, in a way! You’ll throw those words back at me when you see it, but he takes a different angle on it.”

Most Doctor Who writers have just absorbed the style of the show in childhood, haven’t they?

“I think they have. I mean, you can try and define it – are you entertaining eight year-olds, are you exciting 14 year olds, are you making 40 year-olds laugh their heads off? You could answer all those questions yes and still not get it right. You have to be engaging every age group by all possible means. I’m no longer in touch with online fandom but I remember when I was – when I was just writing for the show, not running it – I did think at times, on some of those forums, that these are the people in the whole world who understand Doctor Who the least. They’ve stared at it so long, and invested so much in it that they no longer understand what it is. They can’t see it for what it is. Everyone else in the whole world gets it better than they do. That in itself is unfair, because loads of them aren’t like that at all, but you know what I mean? You just think ‘No, it’s not that kind of show, it’s not like that…’”

How much joy do you take in keeping secrets from various members of your cast? Matt tells us he’s frustrated that Alex Kingston knows more than he does, Arthur doesn’t know what’s going on at all…

“It was fun. It was just a laugh. It wasn’t anything serious. We wanted Alex to come back to be River again, so I thought I’d phone her up as I didn’t know how she was feeling about it. She’s a very successful, very glamorous actress and we make her film at night in the mud. At some point you think ‘Hm, maybe she won’t want to…’ I phoned her up and said ‘Look, I’ll talk you through what’s going to happen with River next year…’ And I realised quite quickly into that conversation that she was just going ‘Ooh, hooray!’ and had no idea why I was telling her, because she was perfectly happy to come back. Now I do have a general belief that if you want to have a secret, keep it. Don’t ever tell anybody who doesn’t need to know, because you’re not only trusting them, you’re trusting everybody that they trust, and everybody that those people trust. So I just didn’t tell the others. And then it became funny. I’d turn up on set and Alex would come over to me and cover her radio mike and have a whispered conversation with me, while I could see out of the corner of my eye Matt standing there going ‘But… I’m the star of the show!’ So that was just a laugh. At the same time, he should learn when the Doctor learns, which was when he read the script.”

I did wonder if it was you trying to feed the performances…

“You wouldn’t need to. Matt’s good enough that he could have done it anyway. But if they don’t need to know, why tell them? Poor old Arthur! This became a running joke. I’d be talking to Karen and Matt about Doctor Who, and he’d always be walking i n just as I’d be finishing a very, very long spiel. And it happened the other day, at a readthrough; I was filling in all the principals on what was going to happen in episode 13, how it was going to end, how we were going to get out of the problem that we’d set ourselves. And I realised as I ended that the door had banged and in walked Arthur. And we all just fell around laughing, saying ‘Oh, I’m sorry, you’ve missed it… again!’”

When you got the Doctor Who gig did you have the long game fully formed? Or is it something that changes year by year?

“It changes year by year. The danger of a long game or a big old plot arc is that you can start sacrificing the current episode because you think ‘Ooh, this’ll pay off later.’ And that’s no use in a show like Doctor Who. You can’t say ‘Well, it’s rubbish now, but wait til you see how it pays off.’ You can’t be driven too much by your big story idea. In truth, the big stories we tell tend to be very, very lightly sketched in. It’s more great, grand allusions rather than a great big masterplan. You have a sort of idea but I would throw it all out tomorrow if I suddenly thought of a great new story idea. If it contradicted it I’d just get rid of it. It’s about satisfaction every Saturday.”

How is Doctor Who seen by the BBC these days?

“I think all of us as fans probably don’t appreciate just how utterly loved Doctor Who is at the BBC, because no show performs like Doctor Who. Alright, there are shows that do slightly better, but not after this number of years, and not shows that sell all over the world. Think how many people have now seen ‘Rose’, that first Christopher Eccleston episode. Never mind who saw it in the first week, or even the first year. People are still watching that for the first time. Just imagine if we were able to add up everybody who eventually, over a period of years, watches an individual episode of Doctor Who, which unlike The X-Factor, unlike EastEnders, unlike any of those shows, continues to exist on your shelf. We’d be the biggest show in the country. One of the biggest shows in the world. If they measured book sales this way we’d be saying, ‘Well, it only counts if it sells on the day!’ Doctor Who carries on gaining new viewers. I’d love to know what percentage of Britain has now seen Christopher Eccleston’s first episode, say, or David Tennant’s first episode. I’m sure it’s way, way over half. That’s what we don’t quite appreciate, especially as television is going to change and we’ll be more like publishers than broadcasters, because the time of transmission is now just the date of publication, isn’t it? You know you can catch it on iPlayer, on iTunes, you know you can see it later… There’s no impetus, or not the same impetus, to see it at the time. And that’s the world in which Doctor Who will triumph. Which is why I got so ratty at the time they were saying our ratings were down when they weren’t. I remember yelling at some journalist, which I shouldn’t have done, saying do you even know that iPlayer isn’t counted in the ratings? You know there’s a whole 2 – 2 ½ million we’re not even allowed to mention, in typical BBC style. The only absolutely verified members of the audience, the only ones who are definitely there, aren’t counted in the ratings! We just use the big guess. But anyway, that’s me ranting on…”

Do you think Doctor Who embodies the best of the BBC? Is it a flagship for values that are under threat?

“Yes. I think it’s the most BBC show in the world. I can’t imagine anything more BBC than Doctor Who because I can’t imagine anyone else who would make it, and continue to make it, and continue to cherish it. It can look like madness to a tiny mind, as indeed the BBC can look like madness to a tiny mind, but that’s just what genius looks like if you’re an idiot. It’s not madness! It’s utter brilliance. This is one of the very few characters entirely created by television and for television and sustained by television, that is a legend alongside James Bond and Sherlock Holmes and Dracula. It is an extraordinary thing. I’m not even trying to be mean about American networks, but can you imagine them doing Doctor Who? It’s half Hammer Horror, half Generation Game, a genuinely frightening horror series aimed at young children. It’s all those mad conflations of ideas. But at the same time while it is the most wondrous and magical and fairytale thing, it’s born out of a scheduling decision. It’s born out of them saying, and how clever they were, ‘We need to join the children’s audience here to the adult audience there, and let’s have a show that everybody watches’. A problem they solved so brilliantly in 1963 that it still works now! Who else and where else would it ever happen? It’s all of the BBC in one barking mad show.”

** Interview conducted by Nick Setchfield for SFX Magazine.

[Source: SFX]

21 April 2011

DWO have seen 6.1: The Impossible Astronaut and have put our spoiler-free preview together:

The wait is over! Series 6 gets off to a flying start with the curiously titled, 'The Impossible Astronaut' - a story that is unlike anything we have seen, or even imagined, before.

It's a real knotty one to describe as so much of the plot is spoileriffic, not to mention complex. Complex is good though! It's so easy as a viewer to simply vegetate and accept everything you see on screen without challenging you or making you think.

Steven Moffat really makes you work as the many strands that bind The Impossible Astronaut, and no doubt the rest of Series Six, weave their way through a thoroughly entertaining 45 minutes.

Doctor Who feels a little more grown up now, but at the same time, a little more childish in places. The beautiful locations, the grim locations, some of the subject matter and plots just make you feel that the stakes have risen higher than ever before.

We start off the episode with five minutes of fun, taking us from a royal court (where The Doctor is getting up to mischief again) right through to a Laurel and Hardy movie (more Doctor-y mischief). Three TARDIS blue envelopes are delivered to their recipients and a fourth to a mystery man. All of the recipients are summoned to an exact location at an exact moment in time, but why, and by whom?

Then, get ready to have the rug pulled from the very fabric of your being as Steven Moffat delivers the first course of what will play out to be one of the greatest story arcs to date.

Throw in a big dollop of President Nixon, the FBI, the scariest monsters ever to have appeared in Doctor Who (hands down), and a cracking cliffhanger to boot, and you have yourself a truly unmissable televisual masterpiece.

The only problem is we have a whole 7 days until we find out what happens next...

Rating: 9/10

Five things to look out for...

1) "I won't be ______ ___ again, but you'll be ______ me"

2) The Doctor's special fizzy straw.

3) Joy in the bathroom.

4) "River, make her blue again!"

5) Amy has two secrets The Doctor doesn't know about!

[Source: DWO]

21 April 2011

ShortList.com have added a brand new interview with New Series Producer, Marcus Wilson to their website:


“The Silence [which we’ve heard about since last series] have a special power to make people forget them. They’re scary. And Lily Cole plays a Siren, a type of demon who lures soldiers to their death. Then, in episodes five and six, we’ve got something called The Flesh. It’s a technology that lets humans create duplicates of themselves — but this being Doctor Who, things don’t run smoothly.”


“For the final scene of the last episode before the mid-series break, we only gave the actors their final lines. Everyone else had a script that just said ‘interior of a spaceship hanger’ and that was it. We get papped every day and there are Facebook groups dedicated to where they think we’re going to be filming next. They’re right a freakish amount of the time, so on location we have to black out car windows so that they can’t see the guest stars and monsters. It’s unfair to spoil it for the fans.”


“What’s lovely about Doctor Who is that people want to guest star in it. We set out the story commissions for this series and we knew that we wanted to do a sequel to [episode] ‘The Lodger’. James said, ‘Tell me when, I’ll be there.’ We thought that his episode would be a one-off, but it did so well that everyone was keen to do another. Now he’s pitching to us for a trilogy.”


“Matt Smith makes the show a great environment to work in. He turns up with a lot of energy, welcomes the guest cast and is ready to work. Matt and Karen [Gillan, Amy Pond] have a sweet brother/sister relationship. You cut the camera and immediately they’re dancing to some tune that they’re singing. They both love it. Matt especially is very keen to continue in the role.”

[Source: Short List]

20 April 2011

The BBC have confirmed that 'something suitable is being planned' for Saturday Night to mark the recent passing of Doctor Who Actress, Elisabeth Sladen.

DWO contacted the Doctor Who PR department who confirmed this, and although no further information can be given currently, it is understood that it will take the likely form of a textual tribute on screen at either the beginning or the end of 6.1: The Impossible Astronaut.

The BBC have also confirmed that the CBBC channel will air an Elisabeth Sladen tribute titled 'My Sarah Jane: A tribute to Elisabeth Sladen', and had the following text to accompany the announcement:

Elisabeth Sladen created one of Doctor Who's best loved and most enduring characters, Sarah Jane Smith. For over 35 years she brought the feisty, compassionate journalist to life, creating a figure that was adored by audiences of all ages - truly a heroine whose appeal had no boundaries.

This 15 minute programme is both a tribute and a celebration of Elisabeth Sladen. It brings together stories from friends and colleagues and draws on a rich archive of material to remind us of Sarah Jane's journey, from companion to the Third Doctor to the central character in CBBC's award-winning The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Produced by Gillane Seaborne and Brian Minchin, My Sarah Jane: A Tribute to Elisabeth Sladen is on CBBC on Saturday, at 6.45pm, straight after the end of The Impossible Astronaut.

+  Click Here to read Elisabeth Sladen tributes from DWO visitors and Doctor Who related Celebrities.

+  6.1: The Impossible Astronaut airs on BBC One this Saturday at 6pm.

[Source: BBC]

20 April 2011

When you hear the words 'Doctor Who Companion' for the majority of us it is Elisabeth Sladen's face you see. Her portrayal as Sarah Jane Smith has forever cemented itself in Doctor Who fandom as a textbook female Doctor Who companion.

Her chemistry with Tom Baker was unmatched, and her reactions to the many evils she faced were amazing - in particular, her delivery of the line "Doc-tor" as she trembled her lips in that unforgettable Sarah Jane style.

Who could forget her triumphant return in 2006 alongside David Tennant in the Series Two story; School Reunion. Of course her character, and indeed Lis herself had aged a little since we last saw her on our screens, but everything was there from her mannerisms to her delivery of dialogue.

I think we all owe a particular thanks to Russell T. Davies for not only bringing her back into Doctor Who (twice) but for giving Sarah Jane her very own series, so that a whole new generation of fans could fall in love with her character.

When the terribly sad news came in last night of her untimely passing, we asked you to get in touch with some of your thoughts, memories and messages about Lis and her portrayal as Sarah Jane Smith.

Here are just a few together with some Doctor Who celebrity Tweets and messages:

Kris Schultz via DWO Facebook

"My prayers are with Elizabeth's family, friends and fellow fans. I love her portrayal of Sarah Jane Smith and will miss her very much."

Rob Carpenter via DWO Facebook

"A tear Sarah Jane ? I believe there will be many tonight :(("

Christopher Joseph Kerr via DWO Facebook

"First Sir Nicholas Courtney and now Lis. Im genuinely both shocked and shaking. Tears? Yes but tears are good. Will she be forgotten? No!"

Richard Teta via DWO Facebook

"When Doctor Who started to be broadcast here in South Florida, Sarah Jane was the companion. Seeing her reprise the role in the new series and The Sarah Jane Adventures was like re-visiting part of my childhood. Thank you so much, Elisaabeth. God Bless. A tear, Sarah Jane?"

doctorwho2013 via DWO Twitter

"We send our love to Elisabeth Sladens family she will be surely missed from all doctor who fans in the north east UK.XX"

bergie72 via DWO Twitter

"So sad about Liz Sladen. First Dr Who ep was Robot. Its been hard to top Dr #4 and Sarah Jane as fave doc/companion pair since."

jennnlovesyou via DWO Twitter

"She taught me the most important lesson I've ever learnt: some things are worth getting your heart broken for."

jimmyboulton via DWO Twitter

"Elisabeth Sladen was the best of them all. A true great in the world of Doctor Who, completely irreplaceable."

Patrick Sanders via DWO Email

"I had just finished watching Lis Sladen crying her way through the end of "Planet of the Spiders" when I heard she had sadly died. I put it on Facebook and it was amazing the response - shock, sadness and am outpouring of love from fans who remembered her in the 70s, new fans of new-Who, and parents who watch SJA with their children. I think Lis Sladen's great feat was that she made Sarah Jane Smith feel like a personal friend - when the Doctor calls her "my best friend" you believed she could be yours too. A lot of children of all ages will miss her very much."

Dale Who via DWO Email

"I was fortunate enough enough to meet Lis twice at conventions; and she was very friendly and we chatted at some length about how much she loved that Sarah was still held in high regard long after her leaving the TARDIS (the first time round!).  I'm of the generation who grew up watching Lis in Doctor Who; and it was always a pleasure to see her back in the role for cameo appearances such as The Five Doctors, K-9 and Company and later on, School Reunion.  When The Sarah Jane Adventures started on CBBC I fell in love with the character all over again; Sarah had lost none of her magic and even looked just as glorious as she had in 1976.  I'm deeply saddened by Lis' passing and hope that her family, friends and fans, both young and old, can find some comfort in knowing that in the world of Doctor Who at least, Sarah Jane will live on for ever."

Mark Scott via DWO Email

"A real shock to hear the news.She will be much missed by Who fans. Sympathies to her family and friends."

Celebrity Tributes to Elisabeth Sladen:

Colin Baker via Twitter

"Very sad to hear of the death of Lis Sladen. Great sympathy for her husband and daughter. She was far too young to be lost to them."

Nicola Bryant via Twitter

"I'm so sorry to have to say I've just had a call to say Liz Sladen has died. It's too much to take in, but it's true. How tragically young."

Murray Gold via Twitter

"Elisabeth Sladen enchanted three generations, never seeming to age, tire or cloud. RIP"

Mark Gatiss via Twitter

"'A tear, Sarah Jane?' Farewell to the wonderful, irreplaceable Lis Sladen. The best.x"

Gareth Roberts via Twitter

"Can't really find the words. Goodbye, our wonderful wonderful Lis."

Stephen Fry via Twitter

"What terribly sad news about Elisabeth Sladen - her Sarah Jane was part of my childhood. Deepest sympathy to her family."

Elsewhere on the internet:

2|Entertain - clips featuring Elisabeth Sladen on the Classic Doctor Who YouTube Channel.

BBC News - a touching tribute to Elisabeth Sladen that includes a contribution from Russell T. Davies.

Sky News - a tribute to Elisabeth Sladen on their website.

The Sun - news item citing Elisabeth Sladen as the 'Greatest Dr Who Girl Ever'.

[Sources: DWO; TwitterYoutube; BBC News; The Sun; Sky News]

19 April 2011

Unconfirmed reports are coming in that much-loved Classic Series Doctor Who Actress, Elisabeth Sladen has died.

It would be an understatement to say that Doctor Who fandom is in shock with this news, especially after the recent shock of Nicholas Courtney's passing.

It is understood that Elisabeth had been ill for some time, and that filming on Series 5 of The Sarah Jane Adventures had to be postponed as a resul

We are still waiting to hear official confirmation from the BBC, but Doctor Who Magazine, Gallifrey One, Nicola Bryant and Matthew Sweet (to name just a few) have all confirmed the news on their Twitter feeds.

We would like to extend our sympathies to Elisabeth's friends and family, and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

On a personal note, Elisabeth's portrayal as Sarah Jane Smith solidified her place as one of our favourite Doctor Who companions of all time. Members of our team have met Liz on several occasions, and she held a very special place in her heart for fans of Doctor Who and Sarah Jane Smith.

DWO would like to hear from our visitors with their thoughts, memories and messages about Elisabeth, some of which we will add to this news item. You can get in touch with us via Email, Twitter, or on the DWO Facebook page.

[Source: Adam Reynolds]

19 April 2011

The Doctor Who Experience have recruited the Daleks in their latest promotional push for the fantastic Doctor Who exhibition.

In the first promotional image, a Dalek is seen crossing the road with a Dalek 'warning' sign in view. The second image alerts Max Hardy and his mother, Sophie, that they are walking past a Weeping Angel CCTV camera.

The Doctor Who Experience allows visitors to join the Doctor on a journey through time and space, encountering some of the best-loved and scariest monsters from the hit international television series. Special scenes filmed with current Doctor Matt Smith combine with amazing special effects and the chance to enter a recreation of the modern TARDIS interior topped off by a breathtaking 3-D finale. The walk through experience is a fully contained interactive Doctor Who adventure, which puts the public at the heart of the action. 

The exhibition element of the Doctor Who Experience charts the success of the show from the first series in 1963 to the most recent episodes starring Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.  Displays will include items never seen before including original costumes, the Tom Baker TARDIS police box and two authentic TARDIS sets from the eras of David Tennant and Peter Davison.  The public will also be able to get up close and personal with iconic sets from recent series, including the Pandorica Box and Chair and confront numerous monsters including several generations of the Daleks and Cybermen as well as Silurians an Ice Warrior and a Zygon.

Steven Moffat, Executive Producer and show runner for the hit television series comments:

"The Doctor Who Experience is a fan’s dream come true - a fully interactive adventure that will allow viewers of the show to get as close as possible to some of the scariest monsters from the series. It will also be the first time that Doctor Who artefacts from all the show's 47 year history - classic and new - will be on display together, many of them being seen for the first time. And never mind that, this is the day the Doctor teaches you how to fly the TARDIS through time and space, and takes you into battle with all his deadliest enemies in a brand new adventure.  So steady your nerves and bring your own sofa - the Doctor needs you!" 

Doctor Who star, Matt Smith, who has recorded a series of special, new scenes exclusive to the Doctor Who Experience comments:

“The whole concept of the Doctor Who Experience, which will give fans a chance to star in their very own Doctor Who adventure, is massively exciting! I hope as many people as possible enjoy boarding the TARDIS next year to embark upon an exhilarating and sometimes terrifying adventure through time and space.”

BBC Worldwide is pleased to announce that it is planning to relocate the Doctor Who Experience to a long term home in Cardiff in 2012.

[Source: Taylor Herring]

18 April 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Christopher H. Bidmead

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 30th May 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for D octor Who Online

Review Posted: 18th April 2011

Let's get something straight and out in the open right from the outset...  There is a type of creature that is made scarier by making it larger.  In Doctor Who's long history, they would be giant maggots and giant spiders.  They work with an already present fear or revulsion of the creatures to produce a memorably scary Doctor Who monster.  In the not scary bracket are giant ants and butterflies (the Zarbi and Menoptera from 1965's "The Web Planet")... and woodlice.  Woodlice are not scary.  Not even remotely.

Frontios is a polarised story.  Some parts of it work brilliantly, and some parts of it really don't; and this new BBC / 2|Entertain DVD showcases both these aspects and examines them in the special features on the single disc release.

Starting with the story itself, Frontios is a fairly low budget studio bound Doctor Who, coming towards the end of Peter Davison's tenure as The Doctor.  The regular cast continue to shine, with Davison and Janet Fielding especially stealing every scene they're in; and there are some brilliant guest stars in Jeff Rawle as Plantagenet and Lesley Dunlop in the role of Norna.  There are some great lines and jokes along the way, and the Doctor is in one of those "grouchy professor" moods that suited his young persona so very well.  

Sadly for Frontios, that's about where the good ends.  The sets - although you can see an awful lot of effort and thought went into them - don't work in convincing that the studio is the surface of an alien planet, some of the performances really aren't great, and then there's the Tractators.  Giant flapping woodlice that fail in just about every way possible to be even remotely thrilling.

This story will be remembered for two main reasons; firstly this is the one where the previously indestructible TARDIS was destroyed (albeit briefly!), and secondly for the unpleasant infestation of some particularly large  and rubbish woodlice that hung around for two (and a bit) episodes.  Its failures certainly aren't for the lack of trying: the direction, the handling and the production all work well with what they've got.  However it looks cheap and rushed and all a little too hurried to carry off what still wouldn't have been a great story with a budget ten times larger.

It is also worth noting that several of the concepts shown in this story (the colonists being pulled down through the ground, and witnesses referring to this as the Earth being hungry) were re-used and utilised to much better effect in the 2010 series of Doctor Who, in the Silurian episode "The Hungry Earth"... now where did they get that title from?

Special Features:

Driven To Distractation - There are many reasons to love this half hour featurette; it has a lot of frank honesty, a lot of humour, and gives a robust defence of the story itself.  It almost succeeds in making you like the story more.  Almost.  What it definitely succeeds at is showing the rush-job that the Doctor Who cast and crew faced to get the story in the can, in the face of several tragedies and setbacks; and it shows the thought processes behind the writing of the serial.  It's nicely put together, uses relevant footage from the time and is decidedly non-judgemental and supportive in what comes across in quite a sweet way.  The writers and stars do admit where there were mistakes made, and it's very brave of them to do so, even if Christopher H. Bidmead neatly places the blame on everyone but himself.

Extra / Deleted Scenes - Minor trims and one or two scenes that play rather well but didn't make it into the final cut of the programme.  There's a brilliant bit about the Doctor's spectacles, and Tegan being an android that really should have been aired; they're funny, clever, and give Tegan and the Doctor some great lines.

Commentary - Peter Davison, Jeff Rawle, Dick Mills and Eric Saward sit around a red table and give opinions, anecdotes, memories and an overall view of how the show holds up for them twenty seven years on.  It's all quite pleasant and jovial and Rawle and Mills especially give some new angles on how the guest stars, and the "special sound" on Doctor Who were used.

Info Text - The usual trivia packed information is available on this disc as well, although most of it seems obsessed in pointing out where anything over two seconds of cuts were made to trim episodes down from over running.  It also points out a couple of continuity errors and the careers and times of the guests stars that appeared in Frontios.

Coming Soon Trailer - The next absurdly themed boxed set: Earthstory, in which William Hartnell's Doctor lands in Tombstone in search of a dentist and gets rather caught up with "The Gunfighters", and Peter Davison's Doctor lands in Little Hodcombe and discovers a centuries old evil lurking in the local church in "The Awakening".

With the usual fripperies as well, such as the Radio Times PDF files, and the Photo Gallery from Frontios, these features help buoy a story that's not as strong as it might have been; however it's certainly not for the lack of trying.

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16 April 2011

2|Entertain's @classicdw Twitter feed is running an exciting opportunity for fans to feature on upcoming DVD commentaries!

Simply record your question along with your name and where you're from (city / town only - no addresses!), and upload it to this group: http://me.lt/1o0L6 

Th 2|Entertain team will pick their favourites and feature them in upcoming commentary recordings. The ACTUAL RECORDINGS! Hear your voice on a DVD!

Entrants must by over 18. Please ensure you speak slowly and clearly. 

The stories 2|Entertain are asking for your questions on are The Happiness Patrol, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy and Dragonfire. Get thinking! Submissions close 22nd April 2011. Good luck!

[Source: 2|Entertain]

16 April 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Robert Holmes

RRP: £30.63

Release Date: 9th May 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 16th April 2011

The Classic Series Auton stories get a paired release in this two disc set from the BBC / 2|Entertain.

Spearhead from Space: Special Edition

Starting off the Third Doctor's era is Spearhead From Space; and with the show now in colour and set on Earth in contemporary Britain, the whole feel of the programme changes radically.

As with previous older releases, it looks like the recording has been cleaned up considerably, and the print is fresh, sharp, and looking and sounding first class.  Spearhead from Space also benefits from being on location and film, as opposed to the studio based scenes and with the usual videotape recordings.  The story looks more expensive and runs more smoothly as a result.

A swarm of meteorites land on Earth drawing attention from UNIT and a new and deadly alien menace emerges; and at the same time an old blue Police Box lands in the middle of Oxley Woods, and a strange man with an odd metabolism emerges and passes out...

Featuring an amazing debut from the unstoppably charismatic Jon Pertwee, a perfectly pitched and suitably sceptical Liz Shaw arriving on the scene with Hugh Burden being amazingly creepy as the not-quite-what-he-seems Channing.  Also missing shoes, overly sticky blood platelets, and a Hoover 913 Commercial...

The Spearhead from Space Special Features focus, understandably, on the changes that Doctor Who as a programme was going through.

Special Features:

Down To Earth - A clever look at the problems facing the show at the end of the Troughton era, how it narrowly avoided being cancelled, and how a new team in front of and behind the camera and the advent of colour television turned the show's fortunes around.  It's easy to see the level on love and passion for Doctor Who here, especially from Terrance Dicks and the late - and much missed - Barry Letts.  A smart set up to keep the narrative flowing, Down To Earth works very well indeed.

Regenerations - A closer look at the introduction of colour and how it affected Doctor Who.  From colour test transmissions to getting round the tricky problem that colour cameras didn't replicate the show's "howlaround" title sequence effects, this enlightening little documentary demonstrates all the changes behind the scenes that the entertained Who viewer never knew anything about.  

UNIT Recruitment Film - Serving as a timely, if unintended tribute to the recently deceased Nicholas Courtney, this spoof film about the life of a soldier in UNIT now mixes the humour with a twinge of sadness.  Narrated by Adam Woodyatt (EastEnders' Ian Beale) and the aforementioned Brigadier himself, it's a short, warm tribute to the Earth-bound Pertwee years with the UNIT family.

Trailers - The BBC Two trails for the mid 1990s repeats for Spearhead From Space, and one for BBC Two's Doctor Who Night; the latter featuring a traumatised child on the sofa and evil possessed goldfish.  Fun fluff, if nothing else, good for raising a smile.

Commentaries - With this release there are two commentaries available, one with Caroline John (Liz Shaw, who debuts in this story) and Nicholas Courtney, and one with story producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Terrance Dicks

Trailer - The TARDIS, with the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough on board, is heading for a rather bumpy arrival on the planet Frontios.

Terror of the Autons:

It's the return of the Plastic People!  In a story with another few firsts, smart and sassy Liz Shaw has been replaced by small and screaming Jo Grant (Katy Manning), as Terror of the Autons heralds the debut of one of Doctor Who's major player villains; the only person who's managed to cause the Doctor to regenerate not once but twice... fellow Time Lord and all round bad egg; The Master.  Here played by the absolutely glorious Roger Delgado, this incarnation was impeccably mannered, unstoppably suave... and as black hearted as they come.  UNIT has also expanded with Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) on the crew, and there's some memorably monstrous moments from the Nestenes causing pandemonium once more.

Doctor Who stalwart (and later to be Davros), Michael Wisher puts in a great performance alongside the major cast members, but the scenes are stolen by the ingenious ways in which the writers came up with to kill people... notably scarily faceless Policemen and murderous clammy black plastic sofas…

In a step beyond its coloured VHS release, the BBC / 2|Entertain release has been fully restored so the colour looks a lot more natural this time around.  Again the restoration looks pin sharp, with top quality sound and visuals.  The story justifies the amount of love and attention given to the release, and it's all top quality entertainment paired with its earlier Auton outing.

Special Features:

Life On Earth - Another, wider look at Doctor Who being set on Earth and its implications.  This time around there's talk around the newer, post-2005 Doctor Who as well as the influences and origins of the Russell T. Davies era Autons.  It's a very interesting and entertaining documentary, with a really clever visual style, some really honest interviews, and again, it all goes to show the level of commitment shown to Doctor Who past and present.

The Doctor's Moriarty - A look at The Master, who turns up to meddle in the Doctor's affairs for the very first time in this story.  Quite naturally this little retrospective focusses mostly on Roger Delgado's era of The Master, but mention is made of the Master's later incarnations as well, right up to John Simm's recent outings as the character.  A decent featurette looking at the origins of the character, uses and overuses, and what made Roger Delgado so good as the Doctor's Nemesis.

Plastic Fantastic - A short look at the Autons, their creation, uses and the society they were unleashed upon, with writers and historians shedding some light on the Nestenes' favourite substance to inhabit. 

With a highly entertaining Commentary from Barry Letts, Nicholas Courtney and Katy Manning, the usual info text option to divulge trivia, audience figures and bloopers and the same Coming Soon Trailer for Frontios, this rounds off an appallingly titled, but absolutely stunning Auton double feature that should feature in anyone's collection.  Brilliant.

just remember DVDs are made of plastic... 

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