Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Samuel Anderson Joins Series 8 as Danny Pink

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The BBC has announced that former Emmerdale star Samuel Anderson will join Doctor Who in Series 8 as a recurring character. Details on the role are scant with the only confirmation being that Anderson will play Danny Pink, a teacher at Coal Hill School.  In the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, companion Clara Oswald was also shown to be a teacher at the school which started it all off for Who in 1963.

Whether Anderson will be a companion is unclear. Which of the Doctor’s male companions would you most like Danny Pink to be modelled on?  Vote in the Doctor Who Mind Robber’s Poll and share your thoughts in our comments section. We’ve excluded UNIT characters, Kamelion and K-9 from the Poll, however please feel free to discuss them in the comments.

Vivien Fleming

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Interview with Doctor Who’s Peter Davison on Channel 10 Australia

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A real treat for all Doctor Who fans as Doctor number 5, Peter Davison, arrives via TARDIS and reveals new secrets about his time on the long-running show. During the interview, he also reveals a fascinating fact about the 50th anniversary special that will delight many fans of the classic series.

Studio 10 | 8:30am on TEN

Doctor Who Magazine iPhone and iPad App a Welcome Addition for Non-UK Based Fans

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The recent launch by Apple of an iPhone and iPad app for the Doctor Who Magazine is sure to be welcomed by fans of the 50 year old television programme, particularly those outside of the United Kingdom.  Sales of the print version of the 34 year old publication hit an all time high in the second half of 2013. The Audit Bureau of Circulations (UK) certified DWM’s circulation at 36,151, an increase of 26% over the previous twelve months. This figure is all the more exceptional when compared to the overall consumer magazine market in the UK which dropped 6.3% during the same period.  The press release on this outstanding achievement can be read here.

Whilst these increasing circulations figures evidence an expanding market for Doctor Who in the UK, fans outside of Britain have long experienced difficulties in obtaining the magazine in an efficient and cost effective manner. In Australia, for example, DWM is not stocked in newsagencies and can only be purchased by costly (and sometimes dodgy) annual subscriptions or as a “one-off” from a multitude of eBay sellers.  The current edition, number 470, will set an Australian fan back at least $28.00 and take more than a fortnight to arrive from the UK.  Special editions are even more expensive.  The 50th Anniversary edition (467) cost me $45.00!

Apple DWM Screen

Imagine my delight when I discovered the Apple DWM app. Currently available for sale are all issues from February 2013 (456) to date, together with Special Editions 34, 35 and 36 which feature the missing episodes of the First and Second Doctors.  Issues 466 to 470 are currently retailing for $6.49; issues 456 to 465 for $4.49, and Special Editions 34, 35 and 36 for $8.49.  A 12 month subscription is available for less than $45.00.

The November 2013 (465) edition of DWM featuring exclusive interviews with Doctors  4-8 is available for purchase and download

The November 2013 (465) edition of DWM featuring exclusive interviews with Doctors 4-8 is available for purchase and download

The Apple DWM app is a direct scan from the print version and has not been formatted specifically for iPhones and iPads. One page is presented per screen, or two pages if the device is rotated 90 degrees. On a standard iPad Air this generally permits the text to be read, although use of the zoom function conveniently increases text size for less eye strain.  The comic script reproduces well and can in most instances be read without zooming.  Reading DWM on an iPhone 5 is impossible without repetitive zooming and scrolling. Except for the Contents page and cover the app is not interactive so completing the crossword online is impossible. Automatically accessing articles from the Contents page and cover is a nice addition.  A useful help screen provides instructions for navigating the digital edition.  Let’s hope that a fully interactive tablet specific app is soon introduced, together with an Android version for non-Apple users.

Pages 6 and 7 of the current edition of DWM (470) showing scan when the iPad is held sideways

Pages 6 and 7 of the current edition of DWM (470) showing scan when the iPad is held sideways

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2014.

Doctor Who Missing Episodes – Steve Roberts Clarifies List Ripping Incident & Believes Marco Polo Found

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Last Weekend saw the annual Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles, California celebrate its 25th Anniversary. Amongst the many panels at the three day event was one entitled “Sherlock Morris & the Case of the Missing Episodes” on Saturday afternoon. The five member panel comprised of Steve Roberts, Damian Shanahan, Greg Bakun, Steven Schapansky and Jon Preddle.

Twitter, social media and Doctor Who forums were set alight following Doctor Who Restoration Team member Steve Robert’s theatrically dramatic on-stage destruction of an omnirumour list.  Many assumed from this symbolic act of paper tearing that Roberts was debunking all rumours of the recovery of any of Doctor Who’s 97 currently missing episodes.  Thankfully Roberts has clarified his theatrics in an audio interview released yesterday by Radio Free Skaro.

Radio Free Skaro claims to be the “most popular, most prolific and charmingly irreverent  (but never irrelevant) Doctor Who Podcast around”.  The three Canadians, Warren Frey, Steven Schapansky and Chris Burgess, have produced 408 podcasts since August 2006. Yesterday’s podcast is entitled “The Case of the Missing Episodes” and includes interviews with Steve Roberts, and missing episodes experts Damian Shanahan (Australia) and Jon Preddle (New Zealand).

Radio Free Skaro

The interview with Steve Roberts is enlightening and clarifies the circumstances surrounding the Gallifrey One panel incident. Roberts told Radio Free Skaro’s Chris Burgess and Steven Schapansky (with whom he shared the stage for the panel) the following,  

(The omnirumour) is apparently now a list of the state of every apparently recovered missing episode and what stage of restoration they’re apparently at and when they will be released.  It’s a very interesting document full of internal logic errors  … I printed it out and went through some choice episodes … and ended up theatrically ripping the piece of paper and throwing it on the stage.  It was literally to get a good audience response which it did.

Roberts went on to state,

I absolutely believe that Phil (Morris) has found more Doctor Who.  And Phil is a very secretive guy and he won’t have told anyone what he’s got.  He hasn’t told us what he’s got.  He hasn’t told my team.  He hasn’t told Paul Vanezis … So if we don’t know, how do all these other people suddenly know in such detail the apparent state of these things?  It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Roberts further said that Marco Polo is the story most likely to be found because there were more copies sold than other serials.  He then stated,

It’s my opinion that Phil definitely has found Marco Polo.  I have no evidence whatsoever to back that up because I’ve not seen anything, He’s not told me that.  He’s not told any of my friends or colleagues that but I just think that he will have …He hasn’t come out and said “I’ve definitely got more Doctor Who” but in the statements he’s made he says “It’s a great time for Doctor Who fans.  Expect the unexpected”. He’s very positive … He’s definitely got more. He’s not leading anyone on because he’s not that sort of person.  He will give things back, I’m sure, when it suits his business, the BBC, whatever when the time is right.  I don’t know what his game plan is.  I’m sure he has one.

You can listen to Radio Free Skaro’s interview with Steve Roberts here.  Photos are courtesy of the Radio Free Skaro website, http://www.radiofreeskaro.com.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2014.

The One Show on Doctor Who’s Missing Episodes

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An informative 8 minute video from the BBC’s The One Show on the recovery and release of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear in October 2013. The segment features the First Doctor’s companion Peter Purves and the hunt for missing episodes. Of particular interest is the interview with Graham Strong concerning his collection of audio tapes of missing episodes.

Six Seasons Down, 27 to Go!

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After a long 50th Anniversary induced break it’s back to the Doctor Who Mind Robber’s journey through all 800 episodes of Who. Today we farewell the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, as Season Six concludes and we inch towards Jon Pertwee’s debut as the Third Doctor. Please join us as we explore Season Seven of Doctor Who and meet the Silurians and Autons for the first time.

Vivien Fleming

The War Games

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It was only at the close of Doctor Who’s monochrome era in 1969 that the world’s longest running science fiction series gave itself a back-story.  Already in its sixth season, and more than five years since An Unearthly Child was first broadcast, Doctor Who had hitherto avoided the continuity consciousness for which it is today so famous.  The Second Doctor would never have alluded to his body “wearing a bit thin” as John Hurt’s Doctor did of the First Doctor’s final words in The Day of the Doctor. To be sure, Doctor Who had a history but it was one that was only fleetingly referred to and then to those stories of recent memory only. Hence the Second Doctor famously misheard the word “jetty” for “Yeti” in The Enemy of the World however this allusion was only to a serial broadcast two stories previously, The Abominable Snowmen.

The War Games changed Who’s consciousness of its past forever.  Never before had a serial borrowed clips from previous serials save for the final episode of The Wheel in Space in which the Doctor projected his thought patterns onto a monitor and the reprise from episode two of The Evil of the Daleks was seen. On that occasion the clip had been shown as a lead-in for the first ever repeat of a serial, the aforementioned The Evil of the Daleks. In The War Games, however, stock footage was used as if it was new and previously unseen. Hence, in the Doctor and his companion’s escape from the Time Lords footage from Fury From the Deep was borrowed as the TARDIS spun to sea-level and from The Web of Fear when the ship was entangled in cobwebs.  It was fortunate that the Fury clip was borrowed because all of its episodes are missing from the archives.  The spinning TARDIS gives fans an all too brief glimpse at what the serial would have looked like.

Footage of the spinning TARDIS from Fury From the Deep only exists because it was reused in The War Games

Footage of the spinning TARDIS from Fury From the Deep only exists because it was reused in The War Games. All episodes of Fury From the Deep are missing from the BBC Archives

Who stock footage was also utilized in episode 10 of The War Games when, akin to Wheel, the Doctor again reflected his thought patterns to a wall.  In this instance it was the benefit of the Time Lords who were provided with details of the monsters the Doctor had recently fought, namely Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti, Ice Warriors and Quarks.

The show’s back-story, however, came with the arrival and naming of the Doctor’s race.  Since Doctor Who’s beginnings the Doctor had never been able to control the TARDIS’s steering.  It was for that reason that he was unable to return all of the kidnapped soldiers back to their own eras and had need to call in the Time Lords for assistance. Only once previously had the Doctor encountered one of his own and on that occasion his race was not named.  Rather than being dour and judgemental as the Time Lords were, The Monk of Season Three was somewhat of a hapless, albeit amusing, renegade.  It was in his renegade status that the Doctor had most in common with The Monk.

Prior to the arrival of the Time Lords in The War Games the Monk was the first and only member of the Doctor's race whom we meet

Prior to the arrival of the Time Lords in The War Games the Monk was the first and only member of the Doctor’s race we met

Jamie incorrectly assumed that the Doctor’s people would be both friendly and supportive of him.  Alas, this was not to be as the Doctor was compelled to admit to his companions that he was on the run from the Time Lords. Being bored with the existence of a Time Lord on their unnamed planet he stole a TARDIS and embarked on a life of adventure and inter-planetary interference.

Prior to meeting the three Time Lords who were in judgement of him, the Doctor encountered the evil renegade, the War Chief who was in alliance with the War Lords, a humanoid race of beings intent on conquering the galaxy.  It was with the War Chief’s expertise that the War Lords’ acquired the ability to time travel in the inferior technology crafts called SIDRATs (TARDIS backwards).

The War Chief was a renegade Time Lord who gave the the War Lords the secrets of time travel.  He also had the most fabulous beard!

The War Chief was a renegade Time Lord who gave the the War Lords the secrets of time travel. He also had the most fabulous beard!

Although The War Games is best remembered for its back-story invention, more significantly it is story on the futility of war.  The War Lords kill for killing’s sake in a quest to unearth the universe’s best fighting force of soldiers. It is with the best soldiers that the War Lords hope to conquer the galaxy.  The wars in each of the zones are as pointless as they are artificial. Victory would be of no effect as the wars are illusory.  There are no spoils for the victors to share but rather the (unknown) guarantee of further bloodshed when they are next compelled to battle for the War Lords. Transported from their own time zones to an unnamed world, the soldiers are lost to the society’s from which they came. This is sure to be an analogy for the millions lost to the bloodshed of history’s wars.

The simulated war zones of The War Games

The simulated war zones of The War Games

The War Games is also a tale on judicial injustice.  The serial begins and ends with trials in which the rule of law is disregarded. The Kangaroo Court before which the Doctor, Zoe and Jamie appear in the 1917 war zone is bereft of any semblance of truth or integrity. The monocle wearing War Lord Smyth hypnotises all to accept his distorted version of the “truth”.  Memories are lost and lies deposited in the minds of Smyth’s subordinates.  The Doctor is sentenced to death without the benefit of any defence. His imminent dawn execution in episode one is perhaps one of the best cliff hangers in Who’s history.

Smyth, the War Lord in command of the simulated 1917 WWI zone

General Smyth, the War Lord in command of the simulated 1917 WWI zone

The Time Lords’ trial of the Doctor at the serial’s conclusion is only slightly less abusive of the defendant’s inalienable right to a fair trial. In contrast to Smyth’s show trial, the Time Lord’s permit the Doctor to tender some evidence in support of his defence against breaching the most paramount of all his people’s laws – non- interference in dealings with the rest of the universe. Although the Doctor had indeed interfered in the affairs of the universe his defence was essentially one of mitigation.  The ends, the Doctor indirectly argued, justified the means. There were evils in the universe that needed to be fought. As the Doctor stated:

I not only admit them.  I am proud of them.  While you have been content merely to observe the evil in the galaxy, I have been fighting against it … All these evils I have fought while you have done nothing but observe.  True.  I am guilty of interference, just as you are guilty of failing to use your great powers to help those in need!

The Time Lords. The Time Lord in the Centre, Bernard Horsfall. played Gulliver in The Mind Robber

The Time Lords. The Time Lord in the centre, Bernard Horsfall. played Gulliver in The Mind Robber

Despite his spirited defence the Doctor was nonetheless convicted and his defence taken as a plea in mitigation. Whilst accepting that certain evil in the universe must be fought the Time Lords sentenced him to exile on Earth, a planet to which he had a particular interest.  The secret of the TARDIS was to be taken from him and he was to have his appearance changed.  The writers of Doctor Who had yet to invent the term “regeneration”. Although the opportunity was initially afforded to the Doctor to choose his appearance, the Time Lords quickly tired of his objections to each and every pencil sketched face offered to him.  Seeing this as a refusal to make a decision the Time Lords without further notice made it for the Doctor and propelled him into a circling vortex.  Interestingly, he was not charged and compelled to face court on a charge of stealing the TARDIS. Perhaps it was considered a minor offense that might warrant an on the spot fine?

That the head of the aliens is known as the “War Lord” exhibits that he and his race are authorities on war, whereas the “Time Lords” are specialists in the field of time. The use of the word “Lord” at the end of each title is suggestive of a royal or hereditary class structure. It was therefore surprising, and arguably anathema that John Hurt’s Doctor in the minisode The Night of the Doctor should be credited as the “War Doctor” in the closing titles. This was obviously an issue to which Steven Moffat gave great thought and was resolved in the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor. In the January 2014 edition of the Doctor Who Magazine Moffat discussed this issue in depth

The end credits card of The Night of the Doctor introducing John Hurt as the War Doctor

The end credits card of The Night of the Doctor introducing John Hurt as the War Doctor

“The Time War became a piece of back story that inevitably forced its way to the front cos you really have to contemplate – and the more you think about this seriously – that this lovely man who you’re watching week after week has committed genocide!”

The Doctor farewells Jamie

The Doctor farewells Jamie

It was extraordinarily sad to farewell both Jamie and Zoe in this serial.  Zoe quickly became my favourite female companion of the 1960s during my Second Doctor marathon.  You can read our 50th Anniversary Countdown piece on Zoe here.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet the lovely Wendy Padbury in person during a cigarette break at the Brisbane Lords of Time 2 in December.  She was every bit as charming and engaging as I’d imagined. In The War Games Zoe again endeared herself to me by knocking an officer unconscious with a vase and describing the horrendously sexist Mexican resistance leader as having “rather primitive ideas about women knowing their place”. In the end we learn that Donna Noble was not the first Who companion to have their memories of the Doctor wiped. Jamie’s exit was no less traumatic although it was with relief that his last words were his clan’s battle cry, “Creag an Tuire”!  Jamie was  again in battle mode as an armed redcoat fled.

Zoe and the Doctor in The War Games

Zoe and the Doctor in The War Games

So ends the Second Doctor’s era.  Join the Doctor Who Mind Robber as we continue our journey with the Third Doctor!

Donna Noble (Journey's End) was not the first companion to have her memories of the Doctor wiped

Donna Noble (Journey’s End) was not the first companion to have her memories of the Doctor wiped

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2014.