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. 1 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.  


23 July 2017

Downtime



The Nineties saw a slew of fan produced Doctor Who spin offs of varying quality but none has the provenance of Downtime. It stars three iconic series regulars- Nicholas Courtney, Elisabeth Sladen and Debbie Watling - in their original roles and is written by Marc Platt who’s `Ghost Light` was part of the last regular season of the original series. Even more impressively it is directed by Christopher Barry who helmed such series classics as `Brain of Morbius` and `The Deamons` and it even features the Yeti, John Leeson as a DJ and Geoffrey Beevers! You can’t get much more Doctor Who than all that!  Shot during an unseasonably wintry late March in 1995 it is a good watch for fans of the series as well as a fitting tribute to the main stars none of whom sadly are still with us.

21 July 2017

Debbie Watling



Fifty years ago Debbie Watling joined Doctor Who as Victoria Waterfield and became one of the most recognisable companions and in some ways the archetypal one. Her screaming was so strong that it once defeated the monsters and for that reason she was considered to be a product of her time. It’s difficult to fully assess her character as most of her episodes were wiped though people who saw them say she was a vital addition and had great chemistry with co- stars Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines. While her performance was of a somewhat demure Victorian girl out of time, in real life she was a lively addition to the cast and sometimes the victim of pranks at their behalf.

20 July 2017

Jodie Whittaker - the reaction and beyond



Jodie Whitaker is probably grateful for the news that some BBC stars are paid a lot because that story finally took the spotlight from her after four days of intense coverage, comment and scrutiny as well as ensuring she will get the same salary as Peter Capaldi. Result! Now she knows too what the other side of being the Doctor is like, how running around in quarries is the least of her concerns. It has been an eventful week following last Sunday’s announcement and amazingly some 16 million people have watched the one minute clip which must be the most scrutinised minute of Doctor Who related material ever! Amongst other things we’ve learned since is that there were several auditions, it’s not her actual costume she’s wearing in the trail, the Tardis we see is CGI and she’s filming her actual first post regeneration scenes this very week. Also Chris Chibnall was awarded an Honourary Degree this week though as far as we know it’s probably not for the casting! 


16 July 2017

Welcome to space, Jodie Whittaker!



She’s not done much sci-fi, Jodie Whittaker, but she looks at home walking through a forest, past the remains of an old wagon of some sort and towards a familiar sound. Because we move quickly even without being able to travel in time and space there is now as much attention on the clip as there is on who is revealed in it. What a reveal though! Wonderfully shot (does anyone know who directed this and the teaser?) it suggests a man by the way the new Doctor is walking. Jodie Whittaker walks like a man! Our first fact. Is this her costume? It looks a bit costumey actually - long coat, boots etc but it could be a generic costume or it could be what she threw on that morning. It’s the tone of the clip that intrigues me, just as it did with Friday’s teaser. It suggests something markedly different is on the way and I don’t just mean the first ever female Doctor.

14 July 2017

Looking for the 13th Doctor



So in less than two days’ time we’ll know the identity of the actor who will play the next Doctor. An epic looking trail- essentially our first look at what we might well call the Chibnallverse (go on, you love it!)  -revolves around enigmatic shots of various well known objects emblazoned with the number 13. We’ll find out after the Wimbledon Men’s Single Final on Sunday. What is it with Doctor Who announcements and sport? Surely few people follow both but we had Bill introduced in the middle of a Cup Final! Anyway that means we have only a short time to indulge in random speculation. 147(!) names feature in the betting odds and you can also bet that dozens of others have been mentioned around the fan and media worlds. This public search for the actor is of course different from the real life one which you suspect has featured far fewer names and dealt with those who could and would realistically want to take on the role. So how have we got here – and what will the new Doctor be taking on other than monsters?