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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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7 February 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Duane Simolke

RRP: £5.65 / $8.00 (Paperback) | £2.31 / $3.15 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 7th February 2021

Alternate realities and parallel timelines are the hot topic of the moment in both the cinematic and televisual worlds, and whilst one could argue that the concept has been around for years in the hallowed halls of written fiction, there have been slim pickings on the spread of titles we have read that feel refreshingly different.

Sons Of Taldra by Duane Simolke is exactly that - refreshingly different, and at its beating heart is some much needed diversity that slots in effortlessly and with purpose. And why shouldn't it?! When we think of the future and interactions with alien species, one can only accept diversity in all its many, beautiful colours. Colours that Simolke captures perfectly within the pages of this story.

Surfing the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, as the title suggests, Sons of Taldra follows Taldra (Leader of Valchondria - an alternate Earth), and her twin, gay, 19-year-old sons; Argen and Telius. Together they fight off an alien attack, but what quickly becomes apparent, and what is rather poignantly paralleled by the author, are the battles closer to home.

There are most definitely flavours of Star Trek: Discovery, which is particularly interesting as the book was published in 2016 - a full year before the first series of the aforementioned show. Just like Discovery, there is a broad spectrum of diverse characters - each with purpose and prominence, and despite being a short read, everyone fits in perfectly without any overcrowding. 

It is a short book, coming in at just 106 pages, but don't let that fool you into thinking this is a throw-away "short story". This is hands-down one of the most rounded books of this length that we have ever read. It's engaging and thought-provoking and whilst it may be a work of fiction, you cannot help but see the seeds of a future we could be heading towards.

As far as conclusions go, it's one of celebration, and one that ties back into the diversity we mentioned earlier. It's a beautiful end, and the last sentence in particular is one that we wish would be even more prevalent in our own time. Top marks to the author on this incredibly well-accomplished pocket SciFi.

+  Sons Of Taldra is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @DuaneSimolke on Twitter.

4 February 2021

BBV Productions, who made their name in Doctor Who fandom during the 1990s, have recently released a brand new video diary series on YouTube.

The series, dubbed 'P.R.O.B.E. Online' can be viewed on the BBV Productions YouTube Channel, and ties in with the short story anthology, P.R.O.B.E.: Out Of The Shadows, from Arcbeatle Press.

You can watch the current video diary in the player below:

[Source: James Hornby]

4 February 2021

Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Written By: Bella Rayne

RRP: £14.95 / $16.43 (Paperback) | £3.19 / $4.35 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 4th February 2021

Bella Rayne's The Fate Of Magick centres around Dabney West; a befreckled, red-headed, self-reliant, loner, and, in her own words, "a force to be reckoned with". Dabney (great, unusual name by the way) is hugely affected by a horrific incident involving her parents, which changes her life forever.

If that wasn't enough, Dabney and her husband have drifted apart, and the company she works for is responsible for dumping toxic waste into her treasured forest. Having been caught taking photos and video of the incident, Dabney is later found out and sacked from her job.

Desperate for a fresh start, she moves to a new city to start her new life. It is in this new life that she begins having vivid dreams with strange messages. There's also a rather shocking predator (the details of which we won't spoil here), but it makes for some uncomfortable reading. That being said, it is this point in the story that you really feel a change in stakes.

With newfound powers and a true sense of empowerment, we see our central character change before our eyes and it is one of the most beautiful yet shocking changes we have ever seen to a character on the page...ever! Speaking of which, Dabney is surrounded by a fantastically diverse set of characters - not all of which she can trust...

We love the way in which Dabney is telling her story to us; at times it feels like a conversation with an old friend, and there are certain moments or subjects she talks about that the reader can totally align with. There's a whole section about Twitter, of which there are some elements many of us can relate to!

There are some racy moments, some downright scary moments, and best of all, moments that will have you punching the air for our heroine, in this darkly beautiful story from Bella Rayne.

One cannot help feeling there may be similarities to our protagonist and the author; Dabney comes across so clearly on the page and the details of her life are so rich and fleshed out that it almost feels like elements of a life that has actually been lived. She is even an author of the paranormal!

The wonderful ending sets things up for a sequel, and promises of adventures new. We will be there for the ride and recommend this book for anyone who loves the fantasy / romance genres.

+  The Fate Of Magick is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @BellaRayne10 (Bella Rayne) on Twitter.

3 February 2021

Digital entertainment studio Maze Theory, in partnership with BBC Studios, is excited to reveal that cryptic ‘found-phone’ adventure game, Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins, will launch on March 19th 2021 for  iOS and Android mobile devices and Steam.     

Following their encounter with the Tenth Doctor, the Weeping Angels were trapped in the basement of Wester Drumlins. That is, until now…Merciless as ever, the Weeping Angels are back with a vengeance. Will you be able to uncover the truth and avoid their clutches? Now that the Weeping Angels have the power to infiltrate technology, no device is safe…

Developed by the award-winning studio Kaigan Games (Sara Is Missing, SIMULACRA), Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins thrusts players into a dark mystery amidst a series of sinister events occurring at Wester Drumlins, a decrepit and supposedly uninhabited house in London. Building on the iconic Doctor Who episode ‘Blink’, all is not what it seems as ex-UNIT scientist Petronella Osgood (played by Ingrid Oliver) enlists the player’s aid in tackling a familiar and lethal foe. 

Filmed in London and Cardiff, the game sees players interacting with a mysteriously discarded phone in order to uncover its secrets and that of its former owner. Blurring the line between live-action footage and gameplay, players will need to piece together clues and work with Petronella Osgood to trace connections to the first horrific encounter within Wester Drumlins. 

Starting today, players can pre-register for access on iOS and Android devices, and pre-order or wishlist the game on Steam, with more news to follow on the Nintendo Switch version. Visit www.doctorwhothelonelyassassins.com to see how pre-registration will unlock special rewards and must-have fan content, including bonus story content, digital wallpapers and printable posters.

Watch the pre-registration trailer in the player, below:

[Source: Maze Theory]

1 February 2021

Publisher: Self-Published

Written By: Barbara J. Gilbert

RRP: £8.04 / $10.99 (Paperback) | £2.19 / $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 2nd February 2021

Future Apocalypse: Beginnings is the first in a thrilling new time travel series from Barbara J. Gilbert.

We follow Paulette Brown, a young woman who, after dealing with a personal tragedy in her hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, moves with her Mother to Washington.

Due to the events of her life in Wilmington, Paulette cannot shake her wish to change the past, which leads to her eventual elopement of a time pod, with her best friend, Greg.

With a relatively small pool of characters, one feels more intimacy with the plot and in turn, really hones in on Paulette's journey. You know that the people she meets are rich and rounded, and not just thrown in as padding. We particularly liked what the author does with Greg - whilst he supports his best friend, you feel the real-life conflict between them as he doesn't always agree with Paulette.

One of the things that we really loved, which, on paper, may not seem necessarily ground-breaking, was the fact that we follow 10 years of Paulette's life (and half the book) before we get our first taste of any time travel. As a reader you follow Paulette's struggles to get her project to conclusion, and you are chomping at the bit to see her dream realised. Hats off to the author for the slow build as it gives us time to get to know our protagonist, before she's thrust into the action.

Needles to say, time travel has its own rules and pitfalls, and it's not long before Paulette is thrown into a world-changing dilemma that picks up the pace and hurtles the reader in a fantastic, exciting new direction. It's this gear change that almost makes you feel you are reading two different stories - nay, genres. It's a delightful pace breaker and it comes at exactly the right moment.

The ending is far from what you think it will be, with all predictability thrown out the window, and with two more titles in the series now available, we are looking forward to seeing where Paulette's adventure takes her! Highly Recommended!

+  Future Apocalypse: Beginnings is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @BarbaraJGilber2 (Barbara J. Gilbert) on Twitter.

31 January 2021

Publisher: Modern Mystic Media LLC

Written By: Grace Blair & Laren Bright

RRP: £11.98 / $14.99 (Paperback) | £2.20 / $3.01 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 31st January 2021

Albert Einstein has appeared in Doctor Who a couple of times during the show's long history; most recently in the mini episode 'Death Is The Only Answer', but what has been sadly lacking is a full-on, Einstein-centric, time travel adventure.

While we wait for that day to come, our attention was drawn to Einstein's Compass; a Young Adult time travel adventure from the joint pens of Grace Blair and Laren Bright.

Focusing on a young Einstein, the story sees our famed mathematician given a special compass from his Father - a compass which opens the doorway to an adventure that spans millennia. From mythical Atlantis to ancient Egypt, through biblical times to mystical beasts; it's a non-stop whirlwind of time travel fantasy, with a good old dash of good vs evil that will have you gripped throughout. 

Einstein's Compass has a real vibrancy, thanks in part to the way in which the many locations are brought to life in broad technicolor strokes, juxtaposed with the authors' rounded characters - some of which you will know, and get a kick out of their interactions.

Whilst the content is almost wholly a work of fiction, there are factual elements peppered within that add a wonderful balance, keeping the reader's mind open to the possibilities; something that Einstein was renowned for and also something that this book ultimately pays tribute to.

This is a book that is written by two authors, but yet it reads absolutely and unequivocally as one. You sense no conflict in tone or direction, nor do you feel like the narrative is pulling in any jarring direction. Clearly this is a work of genuine passion from Blair and Bright and it shines in every drip of ink on the page.

+  Einstein's Compass is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @GraceBAuthor (Grace Blair) on Twitter.

27 January 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Lizbeth Myles

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: December 2020

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"Something haunts the peak of Ben MacDui.

Something with heavy footsteps, striking terror in the hearts of those who sense it. With climbers going missing, retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart visits Scotland to investigate.

But when some old friends join his ascent, he worries that they will make things even more dangerous. As the snows blow in, and mists surround them, the Doctor, Ace and the Brigadier will face the Grey Man of the Mountain..."

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

I’ve commented recently that right at the very end of the line the monthly range of Doctor Who plays from Big Finish has kicked up a gear. That continues here with The Grey Man of the Mountain.

I listened to this on a cold day in Edinburgh, snow melting into slush and dangerous ice forming on the pavements, and it couldn’t have been more apt. Lizbeth Myles’s story is set in Scotland where something seems to be stalking those who wish to climb Ben Macdui, Scotland’s second highest mountain. Doctor Who has of course dipped into folklore horror before to good effect, and it’s pulled off again here to similar results.

The first thing to highlight with it all is how good Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred are in this one. It’s their most screen-accurate portrayal in a long time.  Maybe it’s because of the presence of the Brigadier in there, adding to a vague air of ‘authenticity’? I couldn’t say.  All I know is that both of them are channeling the same energy they had back in Season 26 throughout and it works wonders. Speaking of the Brigadier, Jon Culshaw is on duty here and I’d say it’s his strongest performance in the role yet. Culshaw is at his best when doing a proper performance and giving an air of Nicholas Courtney’s original, rather than trying to be slavishly accurate, as I feel is sometimes the case in the Third Doctor range. Here though he’s on fire and his warmth for the role, McCoy and Courtney really comes across. Lucy Goldie as Kirsty is likewise very good and puts in a memorable performance with spark and vibrancy.

Myle’s script is worth celebrating, too. I genuinely laughed aloud at the wink about ‘Science leads’, and the reference to Battlefield’s slightly obscure timeframe is fun as well, both good examples of continuity points that aren’t exclusive to fans and don’t swamp proceedings: other writers please take note. Myles has delivered good things before, with Distant Voices for The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles being perhaps my favourite of her audio work, and I dearly hope she does more for Big Finish.  She has a distinctive narrative voice and this script in particular feels well-researched and fresh. The final episode perhaps isn’t quite as strong as the others, but in any tale with a mystery the revelation is often a bit less impressive than the smoke and mirrors leading up to it, so I wouldn’t mark it down for that and it makes good use of the Brigadier and the Doctor’s relationship with and perception of the character. Likewise, if Thaddeus and Niamh feel familiar in terms of their character and story path, it doesn’t matter so much as the script serves them well and the actors likewise.

It’s Kirsty and Ace who really stand out though. Myles has given us one of the most believable relationships between companion and guest star for a while now.  It feels utterly authentic to Ace’s character, especially the ending between them, and makes for one of the most memorable and true pieces of writing we’ve had for ages.

Less successful perhaps is in some of the production. The music and sound design are both very good, atmospheric and enveloping respectively, but this is definitely a play where the remote recording set-up is more notable than elsewhere thanks to telltale pauses that linger just that fraction of a second too long between sentences in an exchange of dialogue. This is especially the case early on with Ace and Kirsty, which is a real pity. I wish a slight tightening in the edit had happened to make it flow a bit better, because once you notice those fleeting fractions, it’s a wee bit hard to un-notice them.

Try to though, because it’s not the fault of the script. This is a good one, make no mistake. I hope Myles returns to the Big Finish fold before too long as it’s authors like her that make misfires elsewhere feel like softer blows.


+ The Grey Man Of The Mountain is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


27 January 2021

Publisher: Author's Reach

Written By: Francesca Tyer

RRP: £9.19 / $6.96 (Paperback) | £1.99 / $2.72 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 27th January 2021

The Firestone is the debut novel from Francesca Tyer - book 1 in a proposed series.

The story focuses on James; a fourteen year-old boy who, after witnessing a strange event at an airport, finds his way to an old clock shop that helps open the door to a new, exciting world.

One cannot help but feel some kindred similarities with Harry Potter and His Dark Materials, but rather than feeling like emulation, The Firestone very much treads its own path. We only mention this as fans of those books will feel very much at home here.

Terrific pacing sees James and his newfound friends bounding forwards in this wonderful, magical adventure, that has time quite literally at its heart. There is a quest within the story (and what a quest it is!) that will soon make it clear to the reader where the following books in the series may go. Needless to say, it powers you through, and whilst the phrase is horrendously overused in reviews, this really is a page turner, in the truest sense.

The author's use of descriptions are just wonderful; the way she paints misty, night-time London is so evocative and really sets the standard early on. With cavernous cities, fire, ice, wolves and dragons, The Firestone is simply brimming with excitement at every turn and the conclusion will have you both satisfied and desperate for more.

With the promise of a return trip to Arrisel, Francesca Tyer has set up the series perfectly in this first book. To think this is Tyer's first novel is mind-blowing - for this is the work of a seasoned writer whose attention to detail, character development and world building, galvanises her as a most accomplished author.

The Firestone, in our opinion, could very well be the next big thing since Harry Potter and it is simply screaming out to be made into a movie series! Most definitely recommended!

+  The Firestone is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @FTyer_ (Francesca Tyer) on Twitter.

22 January 2021

The team over at Ten Acre Films have been in touch with news of a reprint of their Doctor Who title, Script Doctor: The Inside Story Of Doctor Who 1986-1989!

Script Editor Andrew Cartmel's inside account of the final years of classic Doctor Who returns for a limited reprint.

‘There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea’s asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold. Come on, Ace – we’ve got work to do!’

Andrew Cartmel was the script editor on Doctor Who from 1986 to 1989. During his time on the show, he introduced the seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) and oversaw 42 scripts written by eight writers new to the series.

With a clear mission to bring proper science fiction back into Doctor Who, he formulated what was later termed ‘The Cartmel Masterplan’, reintroducing the mystery to the character of the Doctor as the series celebrated its 25th anniversary and beyond.

Script Doctor is his memoir of this time, based on his diaries written sometimes on set and sometimes not even in the diary itself but on the backs of script pages.

With an introduction by modern-era Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat, a foreword by Sylvester McCoy, and an afterword by Sophie Aldred, this book is illustrated with 32 pages of photographs, many never published before. It is a vivid account of life in the Doctor Who production office in the late eighties.

+  More information can be found at the Ten Acre Films, Big Cartel page.

[Source: Stuart Manning]

21 January 2021

BBC Studios has today announced the next instalment in the Doctor Who: The Collection range with Season 24, offering Doctor Who fans the opportunity to continue building their own home archive on Blu-ray. Starring Sylvester McCoy in his first season as the Seventh Doctor, this must-have instalment can be pre-ordered now ahead of release date later this year.

Doctor Who – The Collection: Season 24

TIME AND THE RANI
PARADISE TOWERS
DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN
DRAGONFIRE

Season 24 first aired in 1987 and saw the Seventh Doctor and companion Mel (Bonnie Langford) travel through space and time traversing alien planets, a hostile futuristic tower block, 1950s Wales and finally, the mysterious colony of Iceworld, where the Doctor meets Ace (Sophie Aldred).

The Doctor is faced with enemies including the Rani (Kate O’Mara) and the terrifying Tetraps in Time and the Rani, Kroagnon and his cleaning robots in Paradise Towers, the ruthless Bannermen in Delta and the Bannermen and Kane (Edward Peel), the murderous ruler of Iceworld in Dragonfire.

These four stories have been newly remastered alongside extensive and exclusive Special Features including:

• EXTENDED VERSIONS of all four stories, featuring previously un-seen material.
• IMMERSIVE 5.1 SURROUND SOUND – on all four stories and extended versions.
• ISOLATED SCORES – on all four stories.
• BRAND NEW DOCUMENTARIES - Including a feature-length overview of Season 24 - Here’s To The Future, plus The Making Of Delta And The Bannermen.
• RARE STUDIO & LOCATION FOOTAGE - Over 25 hours of raw material never seen before, including behind-the-scenes footage from the regeneration scene.
• IN CONVERSATION - Matthew Sweet interviews Sylvester McCoy about his life, career, and time as the Seventh Doctor.
• BEHIND THE SOFA - Four new episodes with Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford, Sophie Aldred, Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Colin Baker & Michael Jayston.
• THE DOCTOR’S TABLE - Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford, Sophie Aldred and Clive Merrison reminisce about the making of the season.
• RARE GEMS FROM THE ARCHIVES - Hours of footage covering the promotion of this season including lots of previously unreleased material.
• AN AUDIENCE WITH LADY STEPHENS - A brand new interview with Season 24 actor and Rocky Horror cult figure Patricia Quinn.
• BLU-RAY TRAILER - A brand new mini-episode.
• CONVENTION FOOTAGE.
• HD PHOTO GALLERIES - Including many previously unseen images.
• INFO TEXT - Behind-the-scenes information and trivia on every episode.
• SCRIPTS, COSTUME DESIGNS, RARE BBC PRODUCTION FILES AND OTHER RARITIES FROM OUR ARCHIVE
• AND LOTS MORE!

The eight-disc box set also includes hours of special features previously released on DVD and Blu-Ray.

+ The Collection - Season 24 is released 1st June 2021, RRP: £61.27
+ PREORDER this title from Amazon.co.uk for just £44.99!

Watch the trailer for this set in the player below:

[Source: BBC Studios]

19 January 2021

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

3.1: Children Of Eath - Day One

Well, where can I begin with this one? What an absolutely jam packed episode. This is something we wholeheartedly expected from the writing talent of Russell T. Davies.

 

We enter day one of the 5 day episodic adventure with a school trip in Scotland. However, this doesn’t appear to be the typical trip to your local landmark. The whole opening of this story is very much an homage to the film “Close Encounters” as the kids are guided by a group of adults as they walk into the mysterious light, never to be seen again.

 

In true Torchwood style, we’re immediately swept to modern day Cardiff, as the Torchwood team (or the remains of them after the passing of Tosh and Owen), are in full action dealing with alien menaces in a hospital. However, their interference doesn’t go unnoticed as a curious Doctor Rupesh Patanjali catches Jack and Ianto in the act as they try and extract an alien artefact from a corpse. He seems very interested in the Torchwood team and after the events of the end of series 2, it feels like the team could do with an extra pair of hands and Gwen agrees.

 

Whilst all this is taking place, the children on Earth appear to have suddenly stopped. Gwen feeling as confused as the rest of us, goes to investigate the issue. It’s quite an ominous scene as the camera lingers on the lifeless eyes of the children. Suddenly, after a minute or so the kids suddenly spring back into life as if nothing has happened.

 

As this is all taking place, we are transported to the Home Office, where we’re introduced to Peter Capaldi - not as the Doctor, but as John Frobisher. Colonel Oduya (Charles Abomeli) tells John all about the incident with the children and how UNIT and Torchwood can contain the story - how wrong he was. We are also introduced to Lois Habiba (Cush Jumbo) who is on her first day and surpassingly is given some highly confidential information on a Post-it-note. To be fair with UNIT’s security sometimes, this doesn’t surprise me.

 

We zip to and from multiple storylines in one episode; we quickly head back to Gwen and Rupesh talking about aliens and how they impacted the world. Suddenly the children start screaming. It’s a horrifying scene as you see parents yelling at their children trying to get them to stop, before they start proclaiming “We are coming” all in unison. If that isn’t strange enough, it isn’t just the children, but a man called Timothy, who we later discover is called Clement McDonald, who was one of the original children in the opening scene, who also shouts into the distance. It's a fabulous establishing episode, gearing up to what feels like the Torchwood team's biggest challenge that they have had to face so far.

 

Not only do we have the main premise, but we also find out Jack has a daughter, who in Torchwood style is older than him. It’s a turn of events we didn’t expect to see, delving into Jack’s past once more, while Ianto has the Torchwood mobile stolen and Gwen finds out she’s pregnant. Also, Jack has a bomb implanted into him that blows up at the end of the episode and yes this all does fit into a one hour episode.

 

The episode is beautifully directed by the wonderful Euros Lyn, who has done many iconic Doctor Who stories during the Russell T. Davies era. It really builds up the whole premise of the grand scale of the situation and how the Torchwood team need to adapt and change to their new way of working. With Captain Jack seemingly gone, what are the team going to do now?


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
+ Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter!

[Source:
DWO]

18 January 2021

With aliens and spaceships regularly featuring in Doctor Who, DWO recently caught up with Nick Pope (the UK's answer to X Files' Fox Mulder), who worked at the Ministry Of Defence's UFO desk in the early 1990s.

Nick discusses some of his cases, the real possibility of the existence of extraterrestrials, and his love for our favourite Science Fiction TV series. Read the DWO interview, below:


For over 20 years you worked at the Ministry Of Defence with a portion of that time dedicated to manning the UFO desk and the many reports of UFO sightings around the UK. In fact, you were the closest thing we have to The X Files' Fox Mulder - were you always a believer or did this happen during your time at the MOD?

Nick: While my MoD career lasted 21 years, before I decided to take early retirement in 2006, my time in the division where I was responsible for investigating UFO sightings was just one posting - from 1991 to 1994 - in that longer career. It was a fascinating job: I had policy responsibility for the topic (and thus drafted advice to defence ministers, in my capacity as the subject matter expert); I investigated the sightings (200-300 each year); I dealt with the public correspondence; and I drafted material for the press office to use in response to questions from the media.

In all of this, I could call on advice from specialist staff as required, e.g. radar experts, scientific and technical intelligence staff, intelligence community imagery analysts (for looking at photos and videos that we acquired), astronomers and others. 

However, it may surprise people to know that despite being a science fiction fan, I'd never paid much attention to the UFO phenomenon. So when I was assigned the job, I didn't know much about the subject and I went in neither as a believer nor as a sceptic, but with an open mind, going where the data took me. Looking back, that was probably the best approach, as I didn't come into the post with any preconceived ideas. That said, as I began my investigations, and as I read myself into the vast archive of previous files on the subject (much of which we later declassified and released), my views evolved, and I began to realize there was more to the subject than just misidentifications of aircraft lights, weather balloons and satellites!   

From 7-year old Jacob and 10 year year old Amelia: What sizes have the UFOs ranged from and what was the largest UFO you recall being reported?

Nick: UFOs come in all shapes and sizes, though from time to time we hear more about one particular type. At the moment, there's a lot of interest in UFOs shaped like a Tic-Tac, because of a very interesting case from 2004 involving the US Navy. But people also report a lot of orb-shaped UFOs, disc-shaped craft, and huge, triangular-shaped UFOs.

The biggest UFOs I've heard of are sometimes nicknamed "flying football fields" and are rectangular or triangular in shape. There were some sightings of these in the Hudson Valley, in the United States, back in the Eighties, and in the UK and elsewhere in the Nineties. I remember one witness telling me about a 1993 sighting in the UK where he looked up at night and saw the stars blacking out, one by one, as a huge, dark UFO passed slowly overhead. And another witness to a wave of sightings in and around Phoenix in 1997 told me about a huge boomerang-shaped UFO that passed over the parking lot of a restaurant, with dozens of people standing there, mesmerized, looking up. I asked how low it was flying, and he said "Nick, if I'd have thrown a rock up into the air, I would've hit it." 

What was the most compelling case you worked on in your 20+ years and how likely do you think it will be that we will have official contact with extraterrestrials during our lifetime?

Nick: The most compelling case is probably the Rendlesham Forest incident from 1980, which involved not just something in the sky, but an alleged landing. It happened before my time in the MoD, but I undertook a cold case review in around 1993. It's everything you could want in a UFO case: multiple observers from independent locations, over three consecutive nights; military witnesses; radar evidence; physical evidence in the form of indentations in the ground, burn marks on the trees and radioactivity levels at the landing site that government scientists said seemed "significantly higher than the average background". This all took place in Rendlesham Forest, in Suffolk, and the forest lies between the twin military bases of RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge. The several dozen military witnesses included the sceptical deputy base commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt. And because this was an incident involving two US military bases in the UK, there's a file that contains numerous United States Air Force and MoD documents about this case. Believers and sceptics have their various theories, but even now, 40 years later, these are just theories - officially, the case remains unexplained.

Years later, I teamed up with two of the key military witnesses, John Burroughs and Jim Penniston, and we wrote a book on the incident, entitled "Encounter in Rendlesham Forest". It's based on declassified government documents and on testimony from the military witnesses, and as such, it's the only UFO book ever to have needed security clearance from both the UK and the US government.

I think that we'll have proof of the existence of extraterrestrials in a few years from now. I'm not sure it will come from what the UFO community calls "Disclosure" (formal, official acknowledgement of alien visitation), or even from a UFO incident, and at least in the first instance I think it's more likely to come from a radio telescope picking up a signal from another civilization. The next generation of radio telescopes (and the associated computers to process the data) should be sufficiently powerful that if there are civilizations out there - at least in our small corner of the Milky Way galaxy - we'll find them. 

It's no secret that you are a Doctor Who fan - what was your earliest memory of the show and do you have a particular favourite episode and Doctor?

Nick: My first memories of Doctor Who are some of the old Jon Pertwee stories, when I was seven. After Planet of the Daleks, I watched every week. Regarding Doctors, while David Tennant and Peter Capaldi get honorable mentions, Tom Baker is my favorite. Perhaps that's partly childhood nostalgia, but I think he best portrayed the 'otherness' of the Doctor, with the unique combination of quirkiness, sadness, humor, intelligence, courage and morality that the character possesses.

My favorite story is Genesis of the Daleks. There's always something fascinating about an origin story (and the introduction of Davros was inspired), but this was a story of real depth, with the advantage swinging back and forward, generating genuine tension and excitement. This was the ultimate high-stakes story, with memorable themes of total war, genetic experimentation, genocide, a militaristic society that had clear parallels with the Nazis, and more besides. Above all, there's the moral dilemma the Doctor faces, so perfectly brought out by Tom Baker's acting. This is Doctor Who at its thought-provoking best, with the Doctor holding two detonating wires close together, knowing that if he makes the connection, the resultant explosion in the dalek incubator room could wipe them out; but then pausing and giving his speech centered around the question "Do I have the right?"

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

Nick: I'd want to go to wherever and whenever is the apex of civilization, to see how high and how far life can go, in terms of things like intellectual development and technological advance. Maybe that would be Earth, in the far future, or maybe it's an alien world in the distant past. It might be something like Gallifrey, it might be something like Trantor (if you'll forgive me mixing franchises!), and it might be something completely different and unimaginable. And maybe the dominant life form would be biological, but maybe it would be post-biological. Thus, in the best traditions of Doctor Who, I wouldn't know where or when I was going, and I'd probably encounter something quite unexpected when I got there!

+  Follow @NickPopeMOD (Nick Pope) on Twitter!
+  Visit Nick Pope's official website!
+  Buy Nick Pope's books on Amazon.

[Source: Doctor Who Online]

11 January 2021

Publisher: Author's Reach

Written By: Richard Hardie

RRP: £9.99 / $14.90 (Paperback) | £1.99 / $2.99 (Kindle) - Also available on Audible!

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 11th January 2021

Leap Of Faith (the first book in The Temporal Detective Agency series) is a totally bonkers, humorous, yet surprisingly gripping, cross-genre adventure. 

Tertia - our main character, and chief narrator - hilariously guides the storytelling. Right from the off we find our heroine stuck at the top of Nelson's Column (sans Nelson himself), thanks to some time travel shenanigans gone awry. That whole first chapter had us in stitches, and the laughs - nay tears, didn't stop there!

This is a story that very much sits nearly in the pocket of interest for fellow Doctor Who fans, and if the multi-coloured, 4th Doctor-esque scarf on the front cover wasn't enough of a carrot dangler for you, you'll find several gems within that will have you drawing parallels to our favourite Sci-Fi TV series.

We mentioned earlier about the humour, and whilst Leap Of Faith is a truly brilliant story that will keep your interest throughout, it is author, Richard Hardie's sheer talent as a comic writer that shines through, page after page. In fact, we don't think we've ever read a book that had us laughing consistently throughout as much as this did!

From modern-day London to 18th Century Wales and beyond, Hardie keeps you on your toes with delicious plot twists, rich, vibrant characters and a foe that matches the talents of our temporal team, perfectly.

If you want a fun, feel-good frolic of an adventure to kick off 2021, this is it!

+  Leap Of Faith is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @Richard_Hardie_ on Twitter.

11 January 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Chris Chapman

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: December 2020

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"It's 1793 and the Reign of Terror is slicing through the elite of Paris - but not if the Scarlet Pimpernel has anything to do with it! With a very British pluck, and daring bravado, he rescues French aristocrats from Madame Guillotine's embrace. But who hides beneath the Pimpernel’s mask? And isn’t the Scarlet Pimpernel just a fictional character?

At Highmoor House, in England, Peri plays lady of the manor while the Doctor tends to the strange wounds of her ‘husband’, Sir Percy Blakeney. As Peri prepares to host a lavish ball in Sir Percy’s name, French agent Citizen Donat, and a sinister alien force are uninvited guests, both intent on unmasking the Scarlet Pimpernel and putting an end to his heroic escapades, forever!"

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

Big Finish’s schedule in 2020 has very much been dictated by what actors have been available and able to record from home, and what has been waiting in the wings. Trilogies were discarded, a deluge of middling-to-poor Tenth Doctor plays were released, and certain writers must surely have sore wrists from all the scripts they’ve been typing. I think the shake-up of the trilogy formula has worked in the monthly range’s favour, and the technical prowess to pull off the remote-recorded plays is nothing short of brilliant. Whatever my feelings on some of the quality of the releases, I will never fault Big Finish’s gritted teeth and determination.

December gives us two releases recorded remotely according to Big Finish’s website, the first of these being Plight of the Pimpernel by Chris Chapman. Set during the Reign of Terror, the Doctor and Peri go undercover and try to work out how the Pimpernel, a fictional character, appears to be all too real and present, and just what gave Sir Percy Blakeney his nasty wound, because it looks like nothing of this Earth.

First things first: Nicola Bryant and Colin Baker are on top form in this play, and the cliffhanger to Part Three is one of the best his Doctor has had for years now. Long-time readers of my reviews for this website (if there are any long-time readers of my reviews) will know that I’ve enjoyed Chapman’s scripts but have often felt they are one draft or script-edit away from being as good as they could be, but I couldn’t lobby that criticism here for the most part.  This is a finely-tuned and fun script which is bolstered by the leading actors really gunning for it, not to mention Jamie Parker and Anthony Howell giving great supporting performances as Sir Percy and Citizen Donat respectively.

The play is nearly let down by the wide array of very bad French accents throughout the play, which may be supposed to be poor at times but just wind up being huge distractions. There are a couple of slightly fudged scenes along the way as well, such as the Doctor and Peri having a long conversation about things they themselves already know just so we the audience can get up to date, and Peri trying to be the Pimpernel and save someone’s life, only the rescued civilian is then killed… and never mentioned again! These are two blips in an otherwise very tight script, easily Chapman’s best.

Where it really succeeds, beyond the central mystery of who, or why, the Pimpernel is being quite a good one, is in how Chapman writes the Sixth Doctor. He, this most literary of Doctors, desperately wants to be the Pimpernel and buys into the strangeness around him, so much so that he turns a blind eye to the niggling issues around it all and the fact that deep down he knows something bad is afoot. It’s a really believable portrayal of this incarnation, showing how well Chapman knows him and enjoys writing for him, and it’s readily apparent in Baker’s acting that he appreciates this, too.

Sometimes, I find that I enjoy a release from Big Finish but cannot recall much about it weeks down the line. This won’t be the case here I am sure as it hasn’t been the case with any of Chapman’s stories.  Years on in some instances, I can still recall performances or beats or plot points, a sure sign that he is doing something very right, even if I’m not always entirely won over by the overall results.  Here with Plight of the Pimpernel we have a play worth remembering and we continue our run of strong monthly plays near the end of the monthly releases as we know them. Viva la Big Finish Revolution!


+ Plight Of The Pimpernel is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


1 January 2021

The Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz are set to welcome a new face to the TARDIS later this year as actor and comedian John Bishop joins the cast as ‘Dan’.

As he becomes embroiled in the Doctor’s adventures, Dan will quickly learn there’s more to the Universe(s) than he could ever believe. Travelling through Space and Time alongside the Doctor and Yaz, he’ll face evil alien races beyond his wildest nightmares.

The 13th series of Doctor Who began filming in November 2020 with John, and he will make his first appearance when the 13th series starts.

Speaking about joining the show, John said:

“If I could tell my younger self that one day I would be asked to step on board the TARDIS, I would never have believed it. It’s an absolute dream come true to be joining Doctor Who and I couldn’t wish for better company than Jodie and Mandip.”

Chris Chibnall, Showrunner adds:

“It’s time for the next chapter of Doctor Who, and it starts with a man called Dan. Oh, we’ve had to keep this one secret for a long, long time. Our conversations started with John even before the pandemic hit. The character of Dan was built for him, and it’s a joy to have him aboard the TARDIS.”

Matt Strevens, Executive Producer BBC Studios said:

“It’s been a total joy having John join the cast and we’ve been having a lot fun on set already. We can’t wait for you to meet Dan when the show returns later this year.”

Piers Wenger, Controller BBC Drama, said:

“We are beyond thrilled to have John Bishop joining Doctor Who. Alongside Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill, John is a wonderful addition to the show and we have no doubt that series 13 is going to be another thrilling set of adventures for the Doctor.”

Watch the announcement in the teaser video, below:



The Doctor will return with Yaz and Dan in Series 13, appearing on BBC One later in 2021.

[Source: BBC Studios]

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