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Roderick Donald

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2 July 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: David Llewellyn

RRP: £10.99 (CD) / £8.99 (Download)

Release Date: June 2021

Reviewed by: Robert Emlyn Slater for Doctor Who Online


"Paris, 1809. The Fifth Doctor takes a tour of the Catacombs and meets a sassy Time Agent doing the same...

Paris, 1944. The Tenth Doctor misses his target and lands in occupied France. He hides from the Nazis – in the Catacombs.

A collision of two Doctors' timelines triggers a temporal catastrophe, granting the Cybermen dominion over the Earth.

The Doctors must travel back in time to find the source of the Cyber-invasion and close the Gates of Hell..."

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

Fourteen years after Time Crash, the Tenth and Fifth Doctors reunite in Paris, as they battle Cybermen and try and close the Gates of Hell in this second volume from the Out of Time mini-series. 

Out of Time 2: The Gates of Hell was arguably one of my most anticipated Big Finish releases for 2021, so I definitely went into it with high hopes. I think it’s pretty safe to say that it didn’t let me down.

David Llewellyn’s script wastes no time in getting down to business. Not as soon as the opening theme is over are we thrown into the adventure, with the Fifth Doctor encountering the Cybermen and meeting the Tenth Doctor in twentieth-century Paris. 

The story doesn’t really pause for breath once the Doctors unite, and we’re taken on a timey-wimey adventure featuring Cybermen, explosions, yet another Time Agent with an American accent, and a mysterious golden orb.

I’m cutting to the chase a bit here, but it was so much fun hearing David Tennant and Peter Davison bouncing off each other once again. Ten and Five sound like they really enjoy each other’s company, and almost seem to be reluctant to part ways at the end. I know I was hoping that they’d stay together and have a couple more adventures before sailing back off into the time vortex to go their separate ways. 

I’ve said before in a previous review that I find that multi-doctor stories can be a bit tedious at times, but that wasn’t the case at all in this story. There wasn’t really much of your typical multi-doctor ‘shenanigans’ and insult matches at play here, really. The Doctors just bumped into each other, teamed up, and got on with the job. Usually, multi-doctor adventures feel like big epic events, but I don’t feel like that was the case here, and that’s not a bad thing in the slightest. 

Also, the references to the past were a hell of a lot of fun too, and I loved the catty comments the pair made about the Fourth Doctor and Tegan. 

The guest cast in this adventure is minimal but strong. Shelley Conn plays a time agent called Tina Drake, who pretty much calls the shots and saves the day here, whilst Mark Gatiss was unrecognisable as Joseph Delon, the man who the Cybermen corrupted and turned into their slave. I had no clue Gatiss was even in this play, so I was particularly impressed to find out it had been him who’d been playing the evil Frenchman all along! It also goes without saying that Nicholas Briggs was great as the Cybermen too, as he always is, and he sounded really menacing going up against the two Doctors as they battled against them and attempted to foil their plans. Glen McCready also appears as both Marcel (Joseph’s father) and King Charles VI, and though I didn’t feel as if he had too much to do, he still gives a strong performance all the same.

If I had any criticisms of The Gates of Hell at all, it’s that a very interesting setting wasn’t explored nearly enough, which I was left a little disappointed by. Paris under Cyber-rule sounds like such an interesting, cool concept, and yet I feel like we hardly experienced any of it during this adventure. But with the audio only lasting an hour or so, things like that can’t really be helped. 

The pace of the story was definitely a big plus and made for a very entertaining hour on an otherwise boring Friday evening.

Overall, this is a great little adventure that will definitely keep you entertained for an hour, and will leave you wishing you had more time with Doctors Five, Ten, and the Cybermen. David Llewellyn’s script is tightly paced, and I really enjoyed how quickly he threw us into the adventure, and really appreciated all of his little nods to days gone by. The guest cast was very strong, and it’s always a good time when the Cybermen turn up and try and take over planet Earth. I could have quite easily listened to another hour of this story, as it was such a fun time! 

Out of Time has been a really entertaining mini-series so far, and long may it continue. I know we’re getting an adventure with Six, Ten, and the Weeping Angels next year, but here’s hoping that Doctor number ten get adventures with Doctors Seven, Eight, Nine, and hopefully even Five and Four again! Fingers crossed!


+ Out Of Time 2: The Gates Of Hell is OUT NOW, priced £10.99 (CD) / £8.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title from Big Finish!


1 July 2021

DWO's Matt Chambers takes a trip back in time to 1985 to play the Doctor Who text adventure video game; Doctor Who And The Warlord.




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[Source: Doctor Who Online]

29 June 2021

DWO's Matt Chambers unboxes and gets hands-on with the Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 24 box-set.




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[Source: Doctor Who Online]

25 June 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Spaulding Taylor

RRP: £9.34 / $19.67 (Paperback) | £0.99p / $1.37 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

For a first SciFi novel, Spaulding Taylor has hit the ground running with 'Last Star Standing' - a truly well-thought-out, dystopian thriller with bags of adventure, suspense and well-placed humour.

The story focuses on our protagonist, Aiden Tenten, and is told in a first-person narrative, which makes you feel that much closer to the action. It's a post World War Three setting, where Earth is all but decimated by aliens, and we're in it for the long haul as Aiden tries to complete his mission against all odds.

There are tremendous action scenes which Spaulding brings to life in such a way that it feels like it has all the budget of a Hollywood blockbuster movie, and due to the narrative style it's close, real, and perfectly epic. 

'Last Star Standing', whilst obviously a work of fiction, has a lot of echoes into our world, and you can almost forsee some of the events within coming to fruition. It somehow feels like a warning to the reader and you'll notice many parallels that make you stop and think.

With flavours of Star Wars, 1984 and a tiny dash of Starship Troopers thrown in for good measure, this is a Science Fiction yarn that will offer much needed escapism in a time where, let's face it, we all need to escape for a bit. 

Without spoiling things, there isn't a cliffhanger as such, and a lot does get wrapped up whilst also  offering a springboard for a sequel. Looking forward to seeing what's next from this talented author!

+  Last Star Standing is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!

15 June 2021

DWO's Matt Chambers takes a trip back in time to 1983 to play the first-ever Doctor Who video game; Doctor Who: The First Adventure.




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[Source: Doctor Who Online]

8 June 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Mark Wright & Tim Foley

RRP: £24.99 (CD) | £19.99 (Download)

Release Date: May 2021

Reviewed by: Robert Emlyn Slater for Doctor Who Online


"Two brand new adventures for the Third Doctor, Liz Shaw and Sarah Jane Smith:

7.1 The Unzal Incursion by Mark Wright

Under the supervision of the Doctor, the Brigadier and Dr Liz Shaw, UNIT are getting ready to activate Hotspur: their new, advanced early warning system.

But something goes wrong. Can it be that UNIT has been betrayed from within? Suddenly bases are falling across the globe, and only the Doctor and his friends are able to escape.

Not knowing how far the conspiracy goes, the Doctor, Liz and the Brigadier become fugitives. Their investigations lead them to the Fulcrum military training facility. And something beyond the Earth.

7.2 The Gulf by Tim Foley

The TARDIS lands on an ocean planet where the Doctor and Sarah find themselves stranded on a former rig, which has recently been converted into an artistic retreat.

But art is far from the residents’ minds. A troubled member of their collective has disappeared, and the Doctor senses a sinister psychic presence. The waves are rising. And there’s something in the water."

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

We’re thrown back into the 70s this month with two new adventures featuring the Third Doctor, Sarah-Jane, Liz Shaw, and the Brigadier. Taking place in two different eras of the Third Doctor’s time on the show, we’re given two completely different stories here in the seventh volume of The Third Doctor Adventures.

The first story, The Unzal Incursion, written by Mark Wright, is a pacy, bombastic adventure which sees the Doctor, Liz Shaw, and the Brigadier become fugitives who have to go on the run when it seems that UNIT has turned against them. 

This four-part story never really lets up, right from the first minute. It’s an action-packed game of cat and mouse, with the Doctor and his friends always trying to keep ahead of the people that are chasing them, by any means necessary. There are car chases, airplane chases, and even a big Venusian Aikido fight for the Doctor against the villainous Unzal in this rip roaring adventure. It was a thoroughly entertaining ride, and one I’m looking forward to revisiting already.

I must give praise to the acting in this story. Daisy Ashford is brilliant as Liz Shaw and provides a really convincing performance as Liz Shaw, the role her late mother, Caroline John, used to play in the show. I was very impressed with what I heard from her in this boxset and look forward to hearing more from her in the future. 

Jon Culshaw is also utterly fantastic. His impression of the Brigadier is so scarily accurate that I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t actually Nicholas Courtney who was stood behind the microphone. I always knew Culshaw was good with his impressions, but this was something else. A 10 out of 10 performance and impression.

My only criticism of this adventure is that I feel as though the final ‘fight’ between the Doctor and his friends and the Unzal in episode four fell a bit flat. The Unzal were much more intimidating when they were hidden away, rather than when they went all ‘lumbering monster’ and turned up for a scrap at the end.

I was a big fan of the Unzal’s plan, however, and thought it was a nice, clever change from the usual ‘alien invasion of Earth’ trope. The ‘mystery’ that was left dangling at the end was also a really nice touch.

Overall, for the most part, this was a pacy, exciting adventure with fantastic performances from all the cast that was a real joy to listen to. I’m hoping for more adventures with Ashford’s Liz and Culshaw’s Brigadier in the future.

The second story, The Gulf, written by Tim Foley, was in my opinion, the slightly stronger story from this boxset. Featuring Sadie Miller as Sarah Jane, this adventure takes place aboard an old rig out in the midsts of an ocean planet. The rig, which floats just above the water (which is a really cool mental image) is now home to an artist’s retreat which is seemingly being haunted by a maleficent telepathic force.

This base-under-siege-esque adventure was a nervy, atmospheric story that could be quite disturbing at times. You could really feel the claustrophobic sense of isolation here, and the Doctor and his friends being chased through the rig as it slowly falls into the sea was incredibly exciting. 

I was particularly impressed with the performances from the guest cast in this adventure. Everyone was on top form, in particular, Wendy Craig as the famous painter, Marta Malvani. Lucy Goldie also gives a chilling performance as Laurel, the woman who fell into the sea and came back changed. 

The Gulf is Sadie Miller’s second appearance as Sarah Jane Smith following her debut in The Return of the Cybermen earlier this year, and I was once again really impressed, and blown away, by how similar she sounded to Elisabeth Sladen at times! It wasn’t an outright impression, but there were times where it was really uncanny, especially towards the end. I’m looking forwards to hearing more from her in future audios.

It goes without saying that Tim Treloar was absolutely brilliant as the Third Doctor in this boxset. He nailed his impression, as always, and had everything right, down to even the smallest of mannerisms. 

In fact, it was really weird, and obviously really impressive, that every single performance of these much-loved characters was an impression of them given by another actor. I honestly felt as though I’d just tumbled back through time into the 70s and was listening to the original cast act out two brand new audio adventures for me. I did have to keep reminding myself that these people weren’t the real actors, and I guess that just goes to show how brilliant they all were in this boxset.

I also have to give huge praise to the production team too. The sound design in particular was excellent, and really felt as though they’d lifted music straight from the show and placed it into this boxset. This volume was clearly made by people who loved this era of the show, and the adventures available here really feel as though they could slot into their respective seasons quite easily. 

If you’re a fan of this time in the show’s history, or if you just want to sit back and listen to two excellent, atmospheric, pacy stories that will have you gripped throughout, then I highly recommend you giving this volume of The Third Doctor Adventures a listen. It’s a huge success, and I for one can’t wait to see where they go next in volume 8. 

Excellent stuff. 


+ The 3rd Doc. Adventures: Vol. 7 is OUT NOW, priced £24.99 (CD) | £19.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title from Big Finish!


7 June 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Razi Imam

RRP: £10.37 / $12.95 (Paperback) | £FREE / $4.01 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Razi Imam's 'Masters Of The Broken Watches' is an exciting new entrant to the science fiction genre.

This is a story that focuses on two groups of protagonists; a Vietnamese fisherman Pham Kai and his wife Minh, and the other on Sebastian Miles and his team of fellow scientists. The juxtaposition of these two worlds is stark and acts as a refreshing change in tone.

It is clear just how much research the author has put into the book; from the cultures we encounter to the locations we visit - all are written so richly and vibrantly, and in doing so Imam brings so much from the page to life. Some of the exposition at the start may seem a little slow at first, but its totally necessary in fleshing out the characters and places and making them feel that bit more real.

As the title suggests, time plays a part in the story, but in a totally brilliant way. Fans of Douglas Adams' work may feel at home here, although there are no cheap gags and everything is played straight-up with sincerity. Some of the more 'out there' elements of Masters Of The Broken Watches end up making you suspend your disbelief and it is these shining moments that make the story truly magical.

We mentioned about this being a Science Fiction novel, but it is so much more than that; it's a thriller, a scientific quest, a heart-breaking story of love (and the lengths a person will go because of that love). In many ways this is a genre-bending adventure that very much carves its own unique path.

Keep your eyes on this author as we expect more great things from his fantastic mind!

**This book is FREE to download for DWO visitors TODAY! 

+  Masters Of The Broken Watches is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!

28 May 2021

DWO recently caught up with Doctor Who Actor, Eric Roberts to discuss his long career, his work on 1996' Doctor Who: The Movie and joining Big Finish for the recent 'Master!' audio adventures. Read the DWO interview, below:


Eric, you have a staggeringly impressive list of acting credits to your name (over 600 at our last count); dare we ask what your top 3 favourite projects have been to date, and which project you are most proud of?

Maybe not three, but three among this shorter list: Doctor Who, Final Analysis, It's My Party, Love Is A Gun & Music Videos.

Are there any Movie or TV franchises that you've not been in that you'd really love to be a part of?

Lots! Friends (if it was still being done). The Walking Dead - to join my friend, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Rebel or anything Krista Vernoff does. The Resident. Chicago Med. Californication (if it came back). Doctor Who (of course), and I love the franchises I am part of! The Righteous Gemstones & Grey's Anatomy.

With Doctor Who: The Movie, how much did you know about the role of The Master going into the project, and were you aware of the series prior to the job?

This is a very good question! I did not know a lot about The Master and I was aware of the series, but I had to do a quick tutorial. I am still learning more and more about Dr.Who from fans at the conventions and on Twitter.

You recently returned to the role for Big Finish' 'Master!' audio series. What was it like bringing your Master to audio for his first dedicated series, and would you like to do more? As a cheeky add-on to that question, if asked back by the BBC, would you also consider a return to the screen for your character?

It was fantastic doing The Master for Big Finish! It's especially great because the people from Big Finish can answer all my questions and give me excellent direction. I love doing it! I'd adore to do more. Without question YES!!! [RE: return to the screen]

Finally, if you could take a round trip in the TARDIS, anywhere in time and space, where would you go and why?

If I could go safely, I'd take my 3 kids and 2 grandkids and travel until we found at least two of the civilizations out there. There is definitely so much life, it's beyond fathoming.

[Source: Doctor Who Online]

16 May 2021

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Written By: Kimberly Baer

RRP: £12.98 / $16.43 (Paperback) | £3.60 / $5.06 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

What's not to like in Kimberly Baer's captivating story, The Haunted Purse? The premise is brilliant:

"That old denim purse Libby Dawson bought at the thrift store isn't your run-of-the-mill teenage tote. It's a bag of secrets, imbued with supernatural powers. Strange items keep turning up inside, clues to a decades-old mystery only Libby can solve."

One could be forgiven for thinking that Libby (our central character) has found an old item belonging to a time lord; a seemingly transcendental bag where mysterious objects turn up, sounds like something straight out of an episode of Doctor Who, but The Haunted Purse is very much its own thing. In fact, as a plot device, the concept of a mere purse that can help drive the plot forward is simply genius!

If you read the Acknowledgments section at the start of the book, you discover how the author conceived the concept for the purse, and who it was that gave her the inspiration. Needless to say it's a wonderfully apt and perfect little bit of detail.

In this Young Adult story, Libby is a teen who has had a relatively hard life, having been abandoned by her contemptible mother, and now living alone. The titular purse paves the way for a good old fashioned mystery - almost Nancy Drew meets Doctor Who.

There's a fun cast of characters too, Libby and her friends are all layered with their own quirks and there's some great inter-character development and discourse that evolves throughout the book.

This was a surprisingly gripping story, the likes of which, I must confess, I've never really experienced in a book of this genre. Baer's pacing and peppering of mystery was that of a seasoned author let alone a debut novel.

The ending, for us at least, was one of the most satisfying conclusions to a young adult novel that we've read in a long time. It was bittersweet, and whilst we won't draw on the detail, its nice (for a change) to know that a book can just 'be' without the promise of a sequel. The Haunted Purse is a beautiful standalone story that teens and adult alike will enjoy. Recommended!

+  The Haunted Purse is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!

15 May 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Roderick Donald

RRP: £12.50 / $14.99 (Paperback) | £3.99 / $5.53 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

The Mind Controller, by Roderick Donald, it the first book in the author's Cait Lennox: Femme Fatale series; an urban fiction that straddles the thriller, paranormal and fantasy genres.

*It's worth noting that there is actually a prequel to Book One called 'The Awakening'. Whilst you do not necessarily have to read it, there is a handy 'The Story So Far...' section at the beginning of book one, which fills in some gaps.

We follow our protagonist, Cait Lennox - a strong female lead, who slowly discovers her paranormal abilities. At first glance, there doesn't appear to be anything particularly exciting about Cait, but as the story progresses, we watch her transform into a multi-layered force of nature.

There's a particularly harrowing scene a few pages in that merits some slight caution for those of a sensitive disposition, but it's an important and poignant one that gives us our first taste of 'The Gift' that binds itself through Cait's journey.

Donald's use of description is simply wonderful; his almost poetic scenic descriptions bring the reader within a hair's breadth of the setting in such clarity that you genuinely feel you are there. Here's a perfect example from the very first chapter:

"In a glance, she [Cait] took in the heavy, steely clouds casting a sad spell over everything; clouds pumped so full of moisture and hanging so low in the air she felt she could eat their contents. A damp mist, cold and lingering as surely as if it had been sent by the devil himself had settled on all things mortal, leaving evidence of its passing with waterdrops clinging to leaves and umbrellas and clothing and hair, with seemingly no discretion or choice."

Donald, Roderick. The Mind Controller: Action-packed Contemporary Urban Fiction (Cait Lennox: femme fatale series Book 1) (p. 3). Kindle Edition. 

For a story that is bathed in the paranormal - a genre that traditionally looks to the past, there are some rather refreshing nods to modern-day life; Wi-Fi, WhatsApp and Facebook all get name-checked. That's not to say that the past isn't referenced... there's plenty here and even a few pop culture classics from yesteryear, thrown in for good measure. Heck, "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" is Cait's ringtone. How's that for some time-spanning juxtaposition?!

By the time we reach the end of the book, (and not wanting to spoil too much) we realise that Cait is merely at the start of her journey of self-discovery and the powers she is just learning to harness. There is a strong sense of her new purpose to help those in need and defeat evil, and all of this together bodes for an exciting follow-up in Book Two: The Assassin's Apprentice.

This is truly a well thought out series that paces well and leaves you wanting more. We're in it for the long haul and strongly recommend you come along for the ride!

+  The Mind Controller is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Visit Roderick Donald's official website

14 May 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Nicholas Briggs

RRP: £24.99 (CD) | £19.99 (Download)

Release Date: May 2021

Reviewed by: Robert Emlyn Slater for Doctor Who Online


"Three brand new adventures featuring Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, written by Nicholas Briggs.

1.1 Sphere of Freedom

On the Sphere of Freedom, the Doctor is about to shut down an evil Immersive Games business empire. He’s assisted by a valiant galley chef called Nova. But his plan spectacularly fails... And who exactly is Audrey?

1.2 Cataclysm

Nova is dislocated in time while the Time Eddies are out of control. Meanwhile, the Doctor is about to face the end of the universe. Or is that just the Battle of Waterloo?

1.3 Food Fight 

The TARDIS is starting to get a little crowded! Audrey finds herself haunted by a ghostly Doctor."

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

This isn’t a sentence I ever thought I’d get the opportunity to write, but after 16 years away, Christopher Eccleston is finally back as the Ninth Doctor in Ravagers, a boxset of three brand new episodes courtesy of Big Finish Productions

I’m cutting to the chase here, but it’s absolutely incredible to hear Christopher Eccleston back in the role. I never thought it would happen, but he’s back, and it doesn’t sound like he’s ever been away. Within seconds of the first episode starting, he is, without a doubt, the Doctor again. There’s no adjustment period, no shaky moments, or times where you’re not sure whether he’s fully in the role yet — he’s just the Ninth Doctor, from minute one all the way through to the end. I was instantly transported back to 2005 listening to these adventures, back to being 8 years old curled up on the sofa, watching this mad, mysterious, brilliant man save the universe. It was, in short, an amazing experience listening to this boxset. 

Ravagers, the first of four (and hopefully more) volumes starring the Ninth Doctor, is a series of three inter-connected episodes. Set Pre-Rose, these stories see the Doctor go up against an enormous gaming business empire that is using time itself to provide its rich clients with incredible, yet stupidly dangerous, immersive video game experiences. The Doctor, teaming up with Nova, his companion-of-sorts, must stop the game business empire’s plans, or risk the end of the universe itself.

The first episode, Sphere of Freedom, throws us straight into the action, mid-adventure, with the Doctor and Nova (Camilla Beeput) defeating the games corporation’s plans, until everything goes wrong and Nova is taken by a time-eddy. The Doctor then meets the mysterious Audrey and fills her in on everything that’s happened, giving us an opportunity to see what led to him attempting to stopping the gaming empire in the first place. 

This episode is a hell of a lot of fun, mostly in part to the fantastic chemistry between the Doctor and Audrey (Jayne McKenna), as they banter, snark, and flirt with each other as the Doctor tells her his story. But it’s also fun because we get to listen to him travel to London in 1959 and stop a battle between a Roman legion and British soldiers from breaking out, track time eddy’s, and team up with galley chef Nova in an attempt to bring down the gaming empire on the Sphere of Freedom. It’s a really strong start to the set, provides us with a compelling mystery, and leaves us with a gripping cliffhanger that ensures that you’ll be desperate to listen to more.

The second episode, Cataclysm, is a bit slower than the first episode, but just as entertaining. It’s a lot more timey-wimey than any of the Ninth Doctor’s adventures on television, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. It follows the Doctor as he tries to escape Audrey’s traps, find Nova, and stop the universe from imploding, which has already happened. Sort of. It’s definitely an episode that you’re going to have to pay full attention to, that’s for sure. 

The Doctor and Nova’s dynamic is great, and they bounce off of each other really well throughout the boxset. Nova is very different from Rose, and so is her relationship with the Doctor. Whilst both characters’ main reason for accompanying the Doctor on his travels is to experience a better life, Nova is tougher, snarkier, and far less trusting of the Doctor than Rose is, which is a lot of fun. It’s great that we’ve got a completely different companion for the Doctor in this boxset too, rather than just a simple carbon copy of Rose, which I admit I was worried would be the case when this boxset was first announced. I’m glad to see that I was proven wrong. 

The final episode, Food Fight, is also the episode that wraps up the whole Ravagers arc. The Doctor and Nova, along with all the characters we’ve met along the way unite to launch one final attack on the gaming empire in an attempt to save the universe. If you thought the last episode was a bit timey-wimey, wait until you listen to this one. 

Whilst Food Fight does get a bit complicated at times and does take a lot of concentration to fully keep up with, it wraps up the Ravagers storyline well, and leaves us counting down the days until the next volume of the Ninth Doctor’s adventures is released! 

The monsters of the plays, the titular Ravagers, don’t really make much of an appearance in these episodes. Though they are largely absent from proceedings, their presence is still felt very strongly throughout. 

Whilst the cast are all excellent and give great performances throughout, Eccleston, McKenna, and Beeput in particular, praise must also be given to the team who made all of this happen, in particular scriptwriter and executive producer, Nicholas Briggs. I was so impressed with the three scripts he’s written for this boxset, and he absolutely nails the Ninth Doctor here. This isn’t a Doctor who’s moping about the Time War or upset about being the last of the Time Lords, this is a version of the Ninth Doctor who’s having the time of his life, who’s full of energy, and who’s full of hope. Briggs captures all of that and more in the three brilliant scripts he’s penned for this boxset. A huge round of applause for all involved, both behind the scenes and in front of the microphones.

If I have any criticisms at all, it’s that the timey-wimey does become a bit too much and a bit too confusing to keep up with at times, but that could just be a personal thing. Other than that incredibly minor issue, this is a well-written, brilliantly performed boxset featuring a Christopher Eccleston who you can just tell is having a whale of a time back in the role, and that’s the best thing about it. It’s also so refreshing that the boxset is sort of disconnected from the 2005 series too. It’s set before the events of Rose, before Nine burst back onto our screen, and so the story possibilities are almost endless. 

I can’t quite believe that this boxset is a real thing. I never, ever thought Eccleston would come back to the worlds of Doctor Who, but I am so, so glad that he is. If Ravagers is anything to go by, I really can’t wait to see what Big Finish have up their sleeves next. I know that there are adventures with the Cybermen and the Brigadier yet to come for the Ninth Doctor, and if I wasn’t excited before, I definitely am now. August can’t come soon enough.

There’s only one word to describe this boxset really, isn’t there... and I think everyone knows what it is. You guessed it. Fantastic! 


+ The 9th Doc. Adventures: Ravagers is OUT NOW, priced £24.99 (CD) | £19.99 (D/L).

+ ORDER this title from Big Finish!


5 May 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Guy Adams & Sarah Grochala

RRP: £24.99 (CD) | £19.99 (Download)

Release Date: April 2021

Reviewed by: Robert Emlyn Slater for Doctor Who Online


"5.1  For the Glory of Urth by Guy Adams

The TARDIS has barely landed in an alien sewer when a distant scream sends Susan racing to give aid, and the crew split up.

Trying to reunite, the travellers find themselves in something resembling a monastery led by a man half-way between an Abbot and a warlord. They discover that they are in Urth, a barbaric place clinging on to its former glory.

It's somewhere its populace are never allowed to leave, somewhere keeping many secrets from its people.

And today those secrets will be revealed...

5.2 The Hollow Crown by Sarah Grochala

When the TARDIS lands in Shoreditch, 1601, the Doctor suggests going to see a play at the Globe Theatre and his friends readily agree.

But this is a turbulent time. There is violence in the street, plots against the Queen, and rebellion is in the air. At the centre of it all stands the most famous playwright in British history - William Shakespeare - who is having troubles of his own.

As tensions mount and wheels turn within wheels, the travellers are about to discover if the play really is the thing..."

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

I’m going to admit right off the bat that whilst I was always interested in listening to these audio adventures featuring David Bradley’s version of the First Doctor, I just never got round doing so. So listening to The First Doctor Adventures: Volume Five for this review has been my first foray into this version of the First Doctor’s era, and whilst it was a bit of a mixed affair, I will definitely be coming back to listen to more in the future. 

The first of the two stories on this boxset is For the Glory of Urth by Guy Adams, an adventure in a dystopian future where everything is horrible and bleak. The ‘humans’ who are left in this dark, disturbing world despise aliens with a passion, which isn’t good news for the Doctor and his friends. 

Out of the TARDIS team, it’s probably Susan, played by Claudia Grant, who gets the most to do in this story. She becomes a voice of reason in this horrific future world and is eventually sent on a diplomatic mission to improve relations between the humans and the aliens they hate so much. The exploration and focus on Susan’s character in this story was something I was a big fan of, and is something I’m glad to say is a major part of this boxset as a whole. 

I guess my main criticism of this story, however, is just how little else really happens. The Doctor spends most of the adventure locked up and tortured, whilst Ian and Barbara are sent down the sewers along with Brooskin, the weird-looking creature on the cover of the boxset, who’s as odd as it looks. There’s a couple of close shaves with death for the trio, but other than that, they don’t get much to do, which I found to be a little disappointing. I hate to admit it, but I found my attention drifting often during this story too. It’s a real shame because I usually really enjoy stories based in dystopian settings like this. It just didn’t really feel like a First Doctor adventure to me, and I don’t think the pace of the play helped either. 

I must say that I did enjoy the portrayal of Urth’s very own Big Brother, Daddy Dominous, played by Clive Wood, though. His slimy announcements over the tannoy system and bickering with Mummy Martial (Amanda Hurwitz) gave this otherwise bleak tale a bit of a humour and light-heartedness. And Bruddle Medicus (Phil Mulryne), a sadist who loves experimenting on aliens and making them scream, is utterly despicable and is one of those characters that makes you wish horrible things upon them. 

Though this story did miss the mark a bit for me personally, I’m sure that if you’re a fan of Orwellian-type dystopian stories, where themes of hatred and fear of the unknown are examined in great detail, then this should well be a story you’ll enjoy. 

The second story, The Hollow Crown, written by Sarah Grochala, was much more up my street and, in my opinion, was the stronger of the two stories. 

Following on from their trip to the horrible future, the TARDIS team land in the equally horrible past, in London, where the threat of revolution is growing and tensions are high. The TARDIS crew must team up with William Shakespeare himself to ensure that history doesn’t go awry and that the world’s most famous playwright doesn’t lose his head. 

Following on from her star turn in the previous adventure, Susan is once more given a lot to do in this story. Her partnership with Lauren Cornelius’ Jude was one of the strongest parts of the play, and gave Susan an opportunity to explore her rebellious side, much to the displeasure of the rest of the gang. 

Again, this story doesn’t give Ian and Barbara much to do, and the Doctor is once more locked up, but his chats with Nicholas Ashbury’s more weary version of Shakespeare in the Tower of London were yet another highlight of the story. I was also a big fan of the fact that the Doctor’s future meddling, aka marrying and ditching Elizabeth I, affected this Doctor, despite him being centuries away from even doing those things. A little nod to The Shakespeare Code also gave me a geeky little buzz too.

The guest cast in this story were brilliant, in particular Lauren Cornelius as Jude and Wendy Craig as Elizabeth I. Ian Conningham was great as both the villain of the play, Lord Cecil, and as the Earl of Essex, and Liane-Rose Bunch is a lot of fun as the ambitious and power-hungry, Lady Penelope Rich. 

The biggest highlight of this boxset for me is the development of Susan. Carole Ann Ford herself said that all Susan seemed to do in the show was scream at things, but this boxset does much, much more than have Susan be the whiny damsel in distress. The Susan in these stories is headstrong, she dives into action, and she’s more than ready to rebel against her grandfather and her friends if it means doing the right thing. In fact, she’s almost unrecognisable from the Susan in the show at times, and that’s no bad thing. The expansion of Susan’s character is the biggest achievement of this boxset for me, and Claudia Grant is excellent in the role. 

David Bradley, Claudia Grant, Jamie Glover, and Jemma Powell really have made the roles of the original TARDIS team their own, and by the end of this boxset I was completely convinced that they were the Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Susan. Whilst it was a bit of a mixed bag for me, there were still some interesting ideas in here, and great performances from the whole cast, regulars and guests alike. With this boxset ending on an intriguing little cliff-hanger, it’s safe to say that I am definitely up for finding out what happens next! An enjoyable listen for the most part. 


+ The 1st Doc. Adventures: Vol. 5 is OUT NOW, priced £24.99 (CD) | £19.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title from Big Finish!


27 April 2021

TARDISMonkey's Torchwood Diary - watching Torchwood an episode a week from the start...

3.5: Children Of Eath - Day Five

So, this is it, the final day of the most epic proportion in Torchwood’s history. With the death of Ianto, the whole Torchwood team has been ripped apart.

 

We start the episode with Gwen talking to camera on a crude video camcorder, saying she finally understands why The Doctor avoids the Earth, and would turn away in shame if he knew about their own children being sacrificed in such cowardice to the 456. The Government spread a message saying the children needed to be vaccinated and sent back to school, however, the families were not so easily fooled when only a select few were called upon to have this “vaccination.” In present circumstances in writing this review, it does reflect somewhat real-life scenarios that make your hair stand up on end and that is why Russell T Davies is so brilliant at as a writer, by creating that sense of realism, even in the most Sci-Fi universe.

 

When you think things can’t go from bad to worse, they do. The Government go ahead with their plan of kidnapping school children who they see as being “underachievers” and they are scarified for the planet. It’s a choice that should never be made or validated as a course of action. UNIT being curious as to what the reasoning is behind the kidnapping of school children, makes your heart drop to your stomach. The children are not being used so that the 456 can survive, they’re being used as a kind of drug induced “hit” that makes them feel good. With that knowledge, you realise just how all this sacrifice isn’t to save two species, they’re doing a drugs trade with planet Earth and that makes you feel sick.

 

The families start getting suspicious as their kids are taken away in coach loads and in a state of panic, the Government forces Frobisher to film his kids being taken away. With the knowledge of what they do to them, the harrowing scene of Frobisher reaching for a gun and taking his family into the kids’ room, before closing the door and hearing 4 single shots fired, is a moment that is so heart wrenching. This man only wanted to do good under the most manipulative system and he has to pay the ultimate sacrifice for it. Peter Capaldi excels in this scene and it makes for incredibly upsetting and hard to watch viewing. What cements this scene so perfectly, is when Bridget Spears is talking to Lois Habiba about the life Frobisher led, his passion and ambitions and no matter what happens after that scene in his house, he will always be a “good man.”

 

Children of Earth never lets you down in pace and action. We quickly swing back round to fixing the equilibrium of this whole saga in Torchwood style. Captain Jack works out that the kids and the 456 all work on the same frequency (due to the fact the 456 killed Clem in the previous episode) and if he can get the right tone, it would essentially blow up the 456 and kill it for good. The only problem is one child needs to be used as a beacon for this signal and who should be the only child in the area, but his own grandson. Torchwood likes to make these epic grand statements of impossible choices, something that is very closely related to Doctor Who with the Fourth Doctor deciding if he has the right to kill the Daleks. It’s a moral conflict that Jack feels he needs to take upon himself, maybe because he believes he owes The Doctor some kind of debt for his immortal status? In the end, Jack makes that final choice and kills his grandson to save the world. This isn’t the big celebratory ending we’re so used to; it reflects the world in a true way showing that not every story has a happy ending.

 

Just to add more heartbreak, Alice Carter (Jack’s daughter), can’t even face Jack and turns away in anger, and shame as she sees Jack sat in the corridor. How would you ever get over the fact your own father killed your child, even for the sake of saving the world. In this moment, Jack realises he can no longer stay on earth and decides to hop on a spaceship flying past to get far away as possible. It’s a heart-breaking scene as you can see the scared and upset look on Gwen’s face as it appears she will be taking over the role of saving the earth on her own.

 

The whole saga of Children of Earth has been an epic ride from start to finish. It’s still for me the perfect example of what Torchwood is all about. 


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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[Source:
DWO]

23 April 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Robert Valentine, Robert Whitelock & Matt Fitton

RRP: £19.99 (CD) | £16.99 (Download)

Release Date: March 2021

Reviewed by: Robert Emlyn Slater for Doctor Who Online


"Abandoned in the Vortex, the Master’s lost incarnation is about to be thrown a lifeline.

Earth rebuilds in the aftermath of invasion, and power rests with those who innovate. Genius Lila Kreeg makes a deal with the devil to see her dreams fulfilled.

As the Master returns, there are those – like Vienna Salvatori – who wish to hunt him, and those upon whom he wishes vengeance himself...

1. Faustian by Robert Valentine

Drake Enterprises is the most powerful company on Earth. Dr Lila Kreeg is its most valued asset. But her experiments open a doorway which allow an evil back into the universe. The Master can offer Lila the world, so long as she obeys him...

2. Prey by Robert Whitelock

Impossibly glamorous assassin Vienna Salvatori has a new target. Crossing time and space, Vienna takes one final job to free her from this life.

But when the Master is hunted through the slums and ganglands of London, the line is blurred between predator and prey...

3. Vengeance by Matt Fitton

The Daleks are returning. Their plan, long in the making, is complete. Earth will be theirs once more.

But someone stands against them. Someone with his own reasons for revenge – and Vienna and Lila are caught in the crossfire. Because Earth’s greatest hope against the Daleks lies with the Master."

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

One thing I love about Big Finish is how they give even the smallest of characters a second life once their time in the show, however brief, is over. The War Doctor and the Jacobi Master are just a couple of great examples of characters who’ve been given a second shot to establish themselves within the worlds of Doctor Who thanks to the Big Finish and their seemingly endless supply of stories.

And now, 25 years after his seemingly one-off appearance in the 1996 TV Movie, Eric Roberts’ Master finally gets an extended run-out in the Whoniverse thanks to this new, 3-episode boxset, Master! 

Despite having made a couple of appearances in previous Big Finish dramas, this is the first time where the Roberts' Master is the real star of the show, and after having listened to this boxset, I’m really struggling to understand why they didn’t think of doing something like this sooner! 

I’m cutting to the chase here, but Roberts is honestly brilliant in this series. He’s almost snake-like, with his silky smooth voice never really fully concealing the real venom within. He’s not one to get angry or lose his head like his other incarnations, but he’s just as dangerous, just as wicked, and just as ready to betray people, even those he claims to like. I was very, very impressed with Roberts performance and would love for him to come back and do some more audio dramas in the hopefully not-so-distant future.

There’s no time-travelling or space-hopping in this boxset, which was a welcome surprise. Every single episode is set in a Cyber-punk-inspired London in the year 2223, or in other words, a London post The Dalek invasion of Earth. The world is rebuilding and mega corporations hold the power now, which is a pretty scary concept in itself. Over three episodes we follow the Master as he builds himself up from nothing to become the most powerful man on the planet, going up against mob bosses, assassins and Daleks along the way. 

The first episode, Faustian written by Robert Valentine, tells the tale of Lila Kreeg, a scientific genius, as she tries to master the art of matter transfer. However, the company she works for, Drake Enterprises, keep trying to shut down her experiments. When her experiments start affecting time as well as space, the Master shows up, and Lila rescues him from the void. 

Faustian is a bit of a slow burner, and we do spend an awful lot of time with Laura Aikman’s Lila, but that’s certainly no bad thing. I was really invested in the character and her experiments, and the Master turning up and brutally making his way to the top with Lila at his side just added to what was already a really engaging story. I have to praise Laura Aikman too, who gives great performances throughout the 3 episodes and makes a great companion-of-sorts to the best villain around. 

The second episode, Prey, written by Robert Whitelock, is a big sci-fi mob movie with robots, assassins, and mutated underground-dwelling humans thrown into the mix for good measure. Vienna Salvatori, a brilliant assassin, is out to kill the Master, and what takes place over the course of this episode is a game of hide-and-seek throughout the slums and backwaters of a future London. 

I know that Vienna Salvatori, played by Chase Masterson, has appeared in Big Finish audio dramas before, however this is my first time meeting the character, and I’ve got to say I was impressed. I really enjoyed her teaming up with the war droid, Artie, and will definitely be checking out the rest of her adventures soon. 

The third episode, Vengeance, written by Matt Fitton, is presumably the one everyone’s been waiting for. The Daleks are back in this sort of sequel to The Dalek Invasion of Earth from 1964, and the only thing between them and world domination is the Master. This is an episode that’s full of backstabbing, betrayals, and plenty of Dalek action, and I really enjoyed it.

I’m always impressed by how Nicholas Briggs manages to make the Daleks he plays so different from each other. The Dalek Litigator is slimy, even for a Dalek, and really reminded me of the Dalek Prime Strategist from the Time Lord Victorious storyline, whilst the Dalek Supreme was paranoid and quick to anger. Though the power battle between the Litigator and the Supreme felt a little too similar to what happened in the Daleks! YouTube series between the Strategist and the Emperor, it was still an interesting element all the same. 

The Master facing off against the Daleks was fun, and the ending definitely leaves it open for more appearances from Eric Roberts’ Master in the future, should Roberts ever want to return of course, which I hope he does. 

Whilst Roberts’ Master may never reach the heights of those who have come before and after him, this boxset leaves us in no doubt that he is the Master. Featuring great performances all round, an interesting Blade Runner-inspired setting, twists, explosions, and plenty of evil Master laughs, this is a boxset everyone should give a listen to, be they fans of the Roberts’ Master or not. If it doesn’t redeem him, at the very least it gives us an interesting and more in-depth take on a fan favourite character. 


+ Master! is OUT NOW, priced £19.99 (CD) | £16.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title from Big Finish!


23 April 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Jim Hamilton

RRP: £9.25 / $17.68 (Paperback) | £1.64 / $2.29 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

The Chaos Machine is the first book in The Chaos Trilogy by Jim Hamilton; a SciFi adventure spanning 7000 years that's light and easy going on the reader.

"When the crew of a Shoomaran freighter find themselves stranded on Earth in 5342 BC, they learn that the native inhabitants are destined to die out in only a thousand years. Aided by a machine that can foretell the future, they are able to make minor changes from time-to-time in order to keep mankind on the path to survival. However, in spite of all of their efforts, the clock will finally run out for everyone in less than a year from now. Unable to find a solution on their own, they turn to those that they have watched over for more than seven millennia. But will the humans be able to find a way to save the solar system from annihilation?"

First off, the use of timelines is genius; from 5342 BC to present day and then darting around the 15th, 19th and 20th centuries, the reader genuinely feels like they have been on an actual adventure, and because of the regular changes in time, you never once feel bored or that the storyline becomes stagnant. Often when multiple locations are used over and over again in a story, the reader can quickly become tangled in a web of confusion of the author's making, but Hamilton guides you clearly though his journey through time and space.

Kudos to the author for his use of location, too; San Francisco, the Persian Gulf Delta (and sea floor), Turkey, New Jersey, Germany, Las Vegas, London, Tennessee and the alien home world of Shoomar are all brought to life in crisp detail, and agin add to that sense of adventure.

If you like first contact stories, The Chaos Machine will tick a lot of boxes for you. Forget the likes of Independence Day, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Alien, though - this is very much seated in a more plausible scenario; aliens coming to Earth to essentially help us. Sure, on paper having aliens target Earth for an attack may look better, but it's far more interesting in the long run to actually see how friendships can be formed and what we can learn from one another; something that is at the heart of this particular story.

It is clear that the author has a big plan in mind for the series, and the breadcrumbs laid out in this first tome - whilst maybe not evident right away - actually  set things up for the bigger picture to come in books 2 and 3. That being said, everything ties up nicely in The Chaos Machine, so you're not left hanging uncomfortably when you reach the final page.

This was Hamilton's first book, and you really wouldn't know - it's incredibly well put together and the skill shown in the world-building and character development is that of an author with many books under their belt. A truly fantastic read!

+  The Chaos Machine is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @Chaosity8 (Jim Hamilton) on Twitter.

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