15 September 2017

Time and the Rani Episode 2



Season 24@30. If you’re a fugitive on a planet covered in rocks it might just be an idea not to sport your normal bright orange and yellow number but perhaps acquire a dark cloak of some sort. Welcome to part 2 in which last week’s cliffhanger is rather adeptly untangled by having the bubble trap land on water. You see sometimes the much maligned Pip and Jane are somewhat better than we remember. Like the scene when the new Doctor and the real Mel finally meet. This perfectly played sequence starts with a little physical comedy, then a series of accusations and counter accusations and then when each realises the other’s identity an affectionate reunion. Well played in every sense.

9 September 2017

Horror of Fang Rock

Season 15 @40. Terrance Dicks understands how Doctor Who works better than most writers and if his material sometimes plays to the wider audience rather than the dedicated fan the story is usually all the better for it. His `Horror of Fang Rock` is one of the show’s definitive community under siege stories never straying from its remote sea lapped lighthouse from start to finish. Production wise it is a triumph evoking sea fog and cold waves with little more than lighting, a realistic looking set and sound effects that mean the tides are constantly ebbing in the background. Lighting was one of the aspects that the programme nearly always got right in the Seventies (and often got wrong in the Eighties) and this story is an excellent example of how to create the sort of mood you might expect from a superior stage production. 

6 September 2017

Time and the Rani Episode 1





Season 24@30. It’s thirty years since season 24 was first broadcast and across the next 14 weeks I’ll be looking at each episode of what was a transformational time when Doctor Who began to re-emerge as a creative force. Though the full extent of this artistic regeneration wasn’t seen till season 25, it is here that the seeds are sown. All four stories are sometimes a contradiction in styles- one minute there’ll be an intelligent or scary moment, the next something silly is happening. Yet it is surprisingly rewarding to re-watch as it was intended- an episode a week – to see just how Doctor Who started to get its mojo back! To start `Time and the Rani` is loud, hectic and peppered with orchestral stings, high camp performances and an unlikely plot. Still it is never boring and as it progresses on you can’t help being carried along by its sheer brio.





Compared to the previous season’s opening salvo of a great big spaceship twisting and turning we have a cheap video effects Tardis, a be wigged Sylvester McCoy and Kate O’Mara ordering her minion to “Leave the girl – it’s the man I want.” For a moment it looks like the series has got even worse! Writers Pip and Jane Baker are not short of ideas but their dialogue sounds exactly like it was written for an arcane stage play; nobody talks like a normal person. Back in the day I never got why the Rani spends half the story pretending to be Mel and yet suddenly now I see it and it still doesn’t make sense. If she’d bothered not to leave the girl, the Rani could have forced the Doctor to fix the machine and avoided having to cosplay at all. That being said, Kate O’Mara’s Mel is a rather cheeky interpretation.

1 September 2017

Fold - Out Poster Inside!



In the Seventies some kids had posters of footballers or pop stars on their bedroom walls. Other kids though had a poster of a grumpy looking Vorus leader of the Guardians looking like he’d just had a particularly bad day. Or Field Major Styre looking rather pleased to be doused with flour! Fold out poster magazines were a big thing back in the day, the simple premise being that as well as features, the whole thing would contain a couple of A4 sized posters and would also fold out into one or even two massive posters. In the early days of Tom Baker, Doctor Who had two of these the first of which featured the fourth Doctor as its centrepiece and the aforementioned aliens as smaller A4 sized posters.

28 August 2017

Reacting to Bradley Walsh as the next companion and other Series 11 rumours



Initial reaction: Fflligllggglaajjj!!! I need a lie down!
Subsequent Reaction: Ok after thinking about it the casting would actually makes some sense. We tend to think of Bradley Walsh as a presenter and comedian but he’s also an actor. He was excellent in Law and Order – UK, one of Chris Chibnall’s previous shows and also appeared in The Sarah Jane Adventures.  I imagine he could fit into the series in a similar fashion to Matt Lucas’ Nardole, whose promotion to companion was greeted with initial apoplexy by fans but who turned out to be excellent. Maybe Bradders would also be playing an alien character – you can imagine him portraying someone like Glitz whom of course Chibbers will remember well from his younger day. Or he could be the father of a female companion who finds himself dragged along for the ride. 
Light entertainment: How fans imagine Bradley Walsh in Doctor Who.

16 August 2017

Doctor Who and the Pescatons



Released in 1976, at the very apex of the show's popularity, 'Doctor Who And The Pescatons' was a cracking gift to fans It only takes one listen to realise that this is a tremendously vibrant and well produced adventure. I mean, you get Tom and Lis (at the time when he was still the Doctor and she'd only just left), you get Bill Mitchell (the 70's ubiquitous advertising voice), Victor Pemberton is at the typewriter (it's a pity he never got to write more on screen scripts for the show) and when the Pescatons roar, if you turn your volume up it's like the most terrifying sound in the world. 

14 August 2017

Victor Pemberton



Victor Pemberton’s contributions to the series may have been relatively brief but they were certainly significant. He is credited with inventing the sonic screwdriver (though would always generously defer that credit to the designer) and wrote `Fury from the Deep` which remains, along with `Marco Polo`,  the holy grail of missing stories, the `Tomb of the Cybermen` of today its reputation unsullied by endless forensic reviews, its presence only defined by a handful of clips. As for the sonic it’s survived fairly well! He also appeared in the show as an actor and wrote the `Pescatons` record one of the best audio adventures the Doctor has ever had. He was also, as many convention attendees will attest interesting and friendly to all.
He first worked on Doctor Who fifty years ago in a script editing capacity before penning `Fury from the Deep` which was said to be partly based on the radio serial The Slide. One of the missing stories people would most like to see in full the extant material consists of clips of especially horrific content snipped by censors. These moments have only heightened expectations not least the scary Messrs Oak and Quill. The sonic screwdriver made its first appearance in this story. In 1976 he wrote `Doctor Who and the Pescatons` which again re-used similar ideas to stunning aural effect.
Outside Doctor Who in the early Seventies he created and wrote all 13 episodes of the 1972 espionage themed series Tightrope. He also wrote 7 episodes each of Timeslip a tale set across several eras of the twentieth century and Ace of Wands about a mysterious magician. Later series he contributed to include The Adventures of Black Beauty and Within These Walls. He also wrote acclaimed radio dramas including The Slide and Our Family as well as a large number of novels – Goodreads currently has 32 listed. Additionally he worked as a producer notably on Fraggle Rock and several documentaries. In interviews, he was always honest on his views on the series even if they were critical –he wasn’t overly fond of the modern series- and it’s a shame he didn’t write more stories in the late 60s or early 70s.