Thursday, October 23, 2014

Doctor Who Series 8 DVD launch

To celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray release of Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series, BBC Worldwide is delighted to announce an exciting fan event to be held on Monday Nov 17 featuring the stars of the show. It will be the first chance the cast have had to reflect on the thrilling conclusion of Peter Capaldi’s debut series in front of 140 lucky fans at a central London location.

BBC Worldwide has 70 pairs of tickets to give away for this exclusive event. Fans will be treated to a special screening followed by a Q&A with members of the cast. All they need to do is visit and correctly answer the multiple choice question, when they will subsequently be entered into a prize draw. The competition opens today and will close at 23.59 on Wed Oct 29*.

Frank Skinner commented, “When they asked me to host this event I was over the moon. Luckily the space-dragon incubation period is such that I was in no real danger. I have so many questions I want to ask and, when we're all talked out, I'm planning to finish off by crowd-surfing for 10 to 15 minutes, dressed as Chief Engineer Perkins.”

The box set contains every explosive episode from Peter Capaldi’s debut series in the role and is also packed full of extras including:
DVD Exclusive: Doctor Who - Deep Breath Cinema panel session (1x 30’ feature)
DVD Exclusive: Audio Commentaries x 4 (episodes and participants TBC)
Doctor Who: The Ultimate Time Lord (1x45’ feature with Fifth Doctor Peter Davison)
Doctor Who: The Ultimate Companion (1x45’ feature with Fifth Doctor Peter Davison)
Doctor Who: Earth Conquest (1x45’ World Tour Documentary)
Doctor Who Exclusive (4x2’ cast interviews)
Doctor Who Extra (12x10’ behind the scenes)
FOXES – Don’t Stop Me Now (Music video from Mummy on the Orient Express)
Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series is available to pre-order now on There is also a BBC Shop exclusive edition featuring special artwork and art cards.

* Winners will be selected at random and will be notified within seven days of the closing date. Unsuccessful applicants will not be contacted. Fans should only enter if they can travel to London for the afternoon of the 17th November. The event venue will be disclosed to winners on their invitation closer to the time. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

EPISODE PREVIEW: In The Forest Of The Night [spoiler-free]

by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Starring: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman
and Samuel Anderson

Airs Oct 25

Review by Cameron K McEwan

It's not often we get an episode with a new writer AND director and yet Doctor Who Series 8 has already seen one, and now here's another. This combination of "newness", if you'll permit to use that word, just shows how exciting and invigorating an input of fresh voices and visions can be.

In The Forest Of The Night wastes no time in setting the scene - the world has been taken over by the trees (and vegetation in general). The Doctor is somewhat flummoxed by the turn of events, and even more perplexed by the appearance of Coal Hill School pupil Maebh who doesn't seem to be too taken aback by the TARDIS. And the surprise-o-meter is blasted apart when Clara, Danny and more pupils find a new forest world in front of them after a Museum sleepover.

But why has the Earth been embroidered with greenery, and why is young Maebh so vital to discovering this mystery? There's more, much more to take in, but I shan't spoil.

From the opening of this episode, it's very clear that In The Forest Of The Night is going to be something very different and very special. Young Maebh's meeting with everyone's favourite Gallifreyan in the TARDIS is fun and fascinating but it's how these moments are filmed that really catch the eye. New-to-Who director Sheree Folkson is not scared to get all hand-held and up in people's faces; stylistically, this kind of camerawork has been a stranger to Doctor Who. It's a most welcome addition.

Inititially, this quirk emphasises the lighter side of the episode but, as the darker elements of the story develops, and the mystery becomes clearer, the camera gives weight to the fear and the danger. Folkson is to be congratulated for her vision and her boldness. A boldness which one feels, came from the spirit and heart of the script.

Speaking of which, the other newbie (though hardly new to the world of television and film), Frank Cottrell-Boyce has done, what I refer to as, a "Richard Curtis". Older readers may remember Vincent and The Doctor from the Four Weddings and a Funeral writer - a beautiful, brave and touching story, with a message deep in its core. Well, Cottrell-Boyce has mirrored this.

On the surface, Forest is a story about the world being taken over by trees while the human race face obliteration. And, I'm sure, that will be enough for some viewers. But there is so much more going on, rumbling beneath (not very far, I should say) from the top.

Again, without wanting to spoil, Maebh's story is heartbreaking at times, joyous at others; "I haven't phoned home, but I know my mum is worried about me," she stoutly informs The Doctor, who merely looks on, speechless bested by the wisdom of his new companion.

How we treat children affected adversely by the world around them is examined in a very moving fashion and, I have to admit, this tale may well evoke tears from its audience (well, those with a heart anyway). For me, it's the first time this series when I've felt so touched by the story and characters involved.

In tandem, there's also ecological themes being addressed and one cannot help but be reminded of 1970s Doctor Who when each week the social politics of the UK were being dissected. Here, however, it's on a global scale and, as with the other issues, sensitively and prudently handled. Like the aforementioned director, Frank Cottrell-Boyce is also to be congratulated hugely for his mightily impressive debut.

As emotional as the episode is, there's still a bucket-load of adventure in here - "Stars grow cold, planets implode. Catastrophe is the metabolism of the universe!" proclaims Peter Capaldi on the realisation that this battle may already be over, adding, "I can fight monsters, I can't fight physics." Great lines and delivered in a very Doctorly fashion. The Scotsman's interplay with Maebh, perfectly played by Abigail Eames, is utterly delightful. Like with Courtney earlier this series in The Caretaker and Kill The Moon, Capaldi shows his Time Lord can spark off with the most unlikely of people.

Seeing him with Coal Hill's so-called "gifted and talented" is a joy; his child-awareness amusing in the extreme. A particular standout from the children is the fantastic Harley Bird, who plays know-it-all yet forever worrying and panicy Ruby. In a line reminiscent of Lisa Simpson's MTV generation comment, "We feel neither highs or lows," Ruby says of the new world they find themselves in, "There was a forest, there wasn't a forest - nothing surprises us any more." Pfft, kids these days, huh?

Elsewhere in the story, we get a glimpse into the increasingly emotionally scaterred pysche of Clara. Next to The Doctor she may seem normal, but when you place her next to Danny,  a very human and caring person, we begin to see how her outlook on life has been changed and how her priorities are vastly different to her fellow teacher. It's a stark reminder how different she is to your regular Earthling.

In The Forest Of The Night may well feel and look like a fairytale but it's anything but. It's firmly grounded in reality and real issues. The children involved are a smoke screen for themes which the adult audience will savour and ponder whilst the mystery and its superb resolution will keep you hooked and satisfy greatly.

And your heart may just beat a little stronger too.

In The Forest Of The Night airs 8.20pm, Oct 25 on BBC One

Thanks to the BBC

In The Forest Of The Night promo pics

BBC America have released more promotional pictures from Doctor Who Series 8, Episode 10, In The Forest Of The Night - click on the images included here for bigger versions. Featured in the pics are: The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Maebh (Abigail Eames), Ruby (Harley Bird), Samson (Jaydon Harris-Wallace) and Bradley (Ashley Foster).For more clips, pics and info from the story, click HERE.

In The Forest Of The Night airs Oct 25 on BBC America at 9pm

Images courtesy of Adrian Rogers, © BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

BBC to launch "The Doctor and the Dalek" game

The BBC has today announced The Doctor and the Dalek, a new online game for CBBC audiences voiced by Peter Capaldi. The game sees the newly regenerated Twelfth Doctor thrown into a dangerous quest with his most devious of enemies in a new, standalone, story from writer, Phil Ford (The Waters of Mars, Into The Dalek).

The Doctor and the Dalek – which has been specially released to be part of the BBC's Make it Digital initiative to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, digital technology and programming – will be available freely at from Wednesday 22 Oct 22. Click on the images included here for bigger versions.

The Doctor and the Dalek
Players join the action as the TARDIS materialises amidst a deadly pursuit through space – a Dalek Saucer bearing down on a Cyber-ship. But from that Cyber-ship emanates a distress call – from a Dalek! On freeing the battered Dalek from his Cybermen captors, the Doctor finds himself taking his new unlikely ally on a mission to save all of creation from destruction at the hands of his greatest enemies.

But why would a Dalek turn to its mortal foe for help? To find out, join the Doctor and the Dalek in a new adventure spanning the Sontar homeworld and its vile Clone Chambers, which have never been shown on-screen before, as well as reintroducing the icy Cyber-tombs of Telos – last seen in classic Doctor Who.

The Doctor said: "Oi! Short and not-very-old one! I need your help - I’ve got a Dalek and we’ve got a mission to save the universe. So get on over to the CBBC website, and play The Doctor and the Dalek while there’s still a universe left! Come on! Chop chop! Make it Digital on the BBC."

Introducing computing skills
A range of puzzles are featured throughout the game, where players must take control of the Dalek and program it to “power up” its ability to perform a range of tasks, such as flying. Each puzzle unlocks an achievement that helps the Doctor build the Dalek back to full strength, ensuring it can take on increasingly difficult challenges as the game progresses.

The puzzles are linked to the new computing curriculum and are designed to allow children across the UK to pick up core programming principles as they play. Several key stage 2 and 3 curriculum points – such as combining instructions to accomplish a given goal, using variables to alter behaviour, repetition and loops, and logical reasoning – are seamlessly integrated into the gameplay and, most importantly for children, are intuitive and fun.

Resources accompanying the game will be available from BBC Learning at for teachers and parents to help children get the most out of the game. These will provide links to other resources available from across the BBC and third parties, enabling children and teachers to take their learning journeys further.

Danny Cohen, BBC Director of Television, said: “The Doctor and the Dalek is a brand new Doctor Who story and a fantastic game, voiced by the wonderful Peter Capaldi. It’s an excellent example of how a hugely popular BBC show can give fans something extra, whilst also introducing wider audiences to increasingly important skills, such as coding and programming.”

Sinéad Rocks, Head of BBC Learning, said: “We’re really excited about the launch of The Doctor and the Dalek as not only is it a really entertaining platform game for kids to play but it’s also a great introduction to some key principles of computer programming. Every puzzle has a strong link to the KS2 or KS3 computing curriculum. So we think it’s going to be a really valuable tool for students, parents and teachers.”

Thanks to BBC Worldwide

In The Forest Of The Night promo pics

Images courtesy of Adrian Rogers, © BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014

BBC America have released some promotional pictures from this week's Doctor Who episode, In The Forest Of The Night - click on the images included here for bigger versions. For more clips, pics and info from the story, click HERE.

In The Forest Of The Night airs Oct 25 on BBC America at 9pm

Children In Need 2014

The BBC have confirmed that this year's annual charity telethon, Children In Need, will continue its long association with Doctor Who. From the official press release earlier today:
"Also helping out Pudsey on the big night will be Doctor Who."
Pudsey is the charity's mascot bear. This year's Children In Need will take place on Nov 14 on BBC One from 7pm. It is not yet known if this will be a specially-filmed scene with Peter Capaldi or a clip from the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas Special.

BBC Radiophonic Workshop at the BFI

The BFI have launched their new season of programming, Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder - featuring some of the best science-fiction films and works at events across the UK. For full details, click HERE. In December, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop will be taking part in two events, check them out below. Tickets on sale soon.

Sonic Cinema Presents: Radiophonic Workshop Live
Taking Days of Fear and Wonder as their theme, Radiophonic Workshop have created a unique set that highlights their seminal work in TV and radio and their influence on electronic music in the UK. Drawing on the principles of musique concréte, found sounds, early electronics, handmade synths and tape loops, the Workshop created the otherworldly soundtrack to many iconic shows, including Horizon, Quatermass, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy... and Delia Derbyshire’s realisation of the iconic Doctor Who theme. Join us for a special evening of analogue history and frequencies from the future. 
Sat 6 Dec - 18:00

The Boy From Space + Panel discussion and Q&A with BBC Radiophonic Workshop
To celebrate our BFI DVD release of the remastered and rarely seen The Boy from Space we present a specially edited 70min version of the series. Made by the BBC education department, The Boy From Space tells the story of two children who try to conceal an alien, and has since become legendary as one of the finest children’s series ever made. The eerie nature of the show was greatly assisted by the music and audio effects supplied by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with key Workshop figures Paddy Kingsland, Dr Dick Mills and Roger Limb, who provided the original music for this and many more TV series. We’ll also screen clips of other rarely seen series that the BFI is releasing such as The Changes and Out of The Unknown, and our special guests will demonstrate their working methods and how they contributed to these unique productions. Sat 6 Dec - 13:00

Thanks to BFI

In The Forest Of The Night TV trailer

The BBC have released a television trailer for the next Doctor Who episode, In The Forest Of The Night - watch it in the player above. For more clips, pics and info from the story, click HERE.

AUDIO REVIEWS: Mask of Tragedy / Signs and Wonders

Mask of Tragedy
by James Goss
Starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred

Out Now

Mask of Tragedy sees The Seventh Doctor continue his travels with Ace and Hector – the companion formerly known as Hex Schofield, now with no memory of his past life, and an increasingly troubled relationship with adventuring in the TARDIS as a result. Hector's ongoing character arc weaves neatly into the story here; indeed, it quite deftly exploits some of the possibilities inherent in taking a regular character and stripping them of their memories. Ace and the Doctor at times struggle to remember that Hector is not the same man they met back in St Gart’s Hospital, and by the adventure’s end, it’s clear that these tensions have not been lost on Hector.

It allows us a story where travelling into Earth's history is new to one of our companions again, and - inevitably - they toy with the Cardinal Rule of Historicals. In the immortal words of dearest Hartnell, "You can't rewrite history, not one line!" But where's the fun if nobody at least makes a misguided and well-meaning attempt? And whose historical meddling will, in the end, do the most damage?

However, this is, as we've come to expect from our heroes' jaunts into the past, not a straightforward tale of Spartans and make-believe gods; rather, the catalyst for our heroes adventure is the intrusion of Space Things into history. But writer James Goss takes a novel approach: that is to say, here we see an ancient Athens where several of the Athenians we meet are not only not surprised by the presence of an alien visitor, but downright blasé. It turns out that Athens is no stranger to all manner of tourism.

Of course, any story where one of the pivotal guests is the ancient Greek comic playwright Aristophanes (joyously portrayed by Samuel West) is destined to be sprinkled with a significant measure of comedy, and this story strikes a good balance between lighthearted fun and some genuinely dark moments. That scheming and manipulative tendency so often associated with Sylvester McCoy’s run as The Doctor is most definitely at play here, but in ways that make for a satisfyingly amusing outcome. This, plus our alien visitor and Ace’s stint in the Spartan Women’s Army make for a wonderfully fun adventure steeped in all the things I’ve come to love about historicals, as well as making the gravity of the story’s darker moments all the more meaningful.

If you like a good measure of history thrown in with your Space Things, and a good bit of fun alongside your serious business, this makes for good listening indeed. 


Signs and Wonders 
by Matt Fitton

Starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred

Out Now

After a visit to antiquity in the previous story, Signs and Wonders brings our heroes – The Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Hector – back to good old Liverpool in the not-too-distant future. It comes as little surprise, of course, that something suspicious is afoot, as the team arrive to find a distinctly apocalyptic atmosphere in the city, and that a decidedly the-end-is-nigh celebrity party animal Rufus Stone has something to do with it. As this story is very much the culmination of Hex’s story, however, it is also fitting that we discover that there are some Elder Gods at work here as well.

Philip Olivier really gets a chance to shine here: as Hector, confused and directionless, feeling – perhaps quite rightly – that the memory of his former persona is so prominent and so dear in the minds of his companions that he will never escape it for as long as he is among them. When, however, his memories are restored to him thanks to the efforts of his friends, his decision to leave TARDIS life behind stands.

The story is blessed with a wonderful guest cast, including Amy Pemberton’s welcome reprisal of the role of Sally Morgan, and Jessica Martin (whom listeners may remember as Mags in The Greatest Show In The Galaxy) as the Reverend Janet Green, a vicar who turns out to have motives rather more ulterior than just visiting interesting old churches after all.

As a fairly necessarily continuity-heavy tale, I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting point if you’re new to the audio world of Seven, Ace, and Hex. There is a lot that’s led up to the events of Signs And Wonders, but it culminates in a beautiful coda to Hex’s arc. I’ve really liked Hex and I’ll miss him if he doesn’t make a return, but I’m glad that the character has been blessed with a happy ending. That makes me happy too.

(Plus, writer Matt Fitton has thrown in some especially meaty letter Rs for McCoy to rrrrroll into, which is always fun!)


Thanks to Big Finish

Saturday, October 18, 2014

In The Forest of the Night - Next Time trailer

The BBC have released the Next Time trailer for Doctor Who Series 8, Episode 10, In The Forest of the Night - watch it in the player above. For more clips, pics and info from the story, click HERE.