Thursday, 5 December 2013
Very sorry to hear that actor Barry Jackson has passed away today at the age of 75. He appeared three times in Doctor Who, the first occasion being when he played the mute assassin Ascarius in The Romans.
He's famously beaten up by the First Doctor. All in a day's work for someone who used to be a stunt performer - under the name Jack Barry.
Jackson returned to the series the following year as ill-fated Space Security agent Jeff Garvey in Mission To The Unknown (appearing first in the closing seconds of The Myth Makers).
His biggest role was as the comedic dodgy Time Lord Drax in The Armageddon Factor.
In the UK he is best known for his long-running role as Police pathologist George Bullard in the highly popular detective series Midsomer Murders.
Christmas Day sees the third consecutive story to have "Doctor" in its title - specifically Something of the Doctor. (We also had the minisode Night of the Doctor between The Name... and The Day...).
Having "Doctor" in the story title is a relatively new thing - and Steven Moffat uses it most. Back in the earliest days of the classic series, no story featured the Doctor in the title, though a couple of individual Hartnell episodes used it - The Death of Doctor Who (The Chase) and A Holiday for the Doctor (The Gunfighters).
There was a slight aberration early in the Pertwee period, when The Silurians had the full on screen title of Doctor Who And The Silurians. This was a production error and never intended.
From The Three Doctors onwards, all multi-Doctor stories use the same title structure - Three, Five and Two.
During the RTD era, the Doctor gets his first title mention with The Doctor Dances - penned, of course, by Moffat. Not an overall story title, but the new two parters don't have one.
The first time the Doctor features in a full story title of the new series is 2008's The Doctor's Daughter. After that, there is only The Next Doctor.
Once Moffat takes over we get Vincent and the Doctor, The Doctor's Wife and The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe - followed by this current run of stories.
Of course, that run might not end at Christmas. The Doctor might get mentioned in the title of Peter Capaldi's first story ( I have heard that this is going to be a two parter, however) - though I suspect some play on the number twelve is more likely.
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
It has just been announced that The Time of the Doctor is going to be shown exactly opposite the festive edition of ITV's long-running soap (and what is consistently the most popular UK TV programme) Coronation Street.
Now, the last time they went head to head, Corrie beat the Time Lord hands down. But that was another era. With The Day of the Doctor beating even the London Olympics on the BBC i-player this week - and record viewing figures on television across the globe (and the US cinema outing beating big budget movies), it will be interesting to see how this battle pans out.
It may be that people choose to wait and see TTOTD on catch-up platforms also, and overnights for Who are not great.
The obvious thing to do, if you are a fan of both programmes, is watch Who as broadcast and record Corrie. Then you can fast forward those annoyingly inane adverts. Sorted.
In which the TARDIS materialises in a quarry on present day Earth. The Doctor and Sarah get caught up in a rock blasting. When she is found amidst the rubble, Sarah is unconscious and clutching a stone hand...
She is taken to the local hospital where she remains in a comatose state. Dr Carter takes the hand to his laboratory for examination. The Doctor joins him and they discover that the hand was once living material - a silicon-based life-form. The Doctor returns to the quarry to investigate the level in which the hand was buried - and realises that it is millions of years old. It must have come from space. Whilst he is away, Sarah wakes up. She has retained a blue crystal ring from the hand and it exerts a strange hypnotic power over her. She uses the energy of the ring to render Carter unconscious, then she steals the hand and leaves the hospital. She is compelled to take it to the nearby Nunton nuclear power complex.
Sarah carries the hand into the outer chamber of the main reactor. The Doctor and Carter follow and meet the complex's manager, Professor Watson. On CCTV, they see the hand regrow its missing finger and come to life. It is absorbing radiation to reconstitute itself. The Doctor manages to get Sarah away from the chamber and the hand is locked away in a secure cabinet. A technician named Driscoll finds the ring and is hypnotised by it. He steals the hand and carries it into the heart of the reactor. Carter has also come under the ring's malign influence and he is killed when he attempts to attack the Doctor. Watson evacuates the complex and calls in the RAF to destroy whatever has taken over the reactor. The bombs seem to have no effect. The creature absorbs the radiation to fully reconstitute itself. It appears to be a female crystalline humanoid. The Doctor and Sarah go to meet it, and he tells Sarah that it has patterned its form on her - the first being it came into contact with. The creature identifies itself as Eldrad, a member of the Kastrian race.
Eldrad explains that she was a pioneering scientist, sentenced to death millennia ago by her own people after Kastria was invaded. Her space capsule was blown up above the Earth, and the hand was all that survived. She demands that the Doctor take her home. With Sarah, they travel to the planet as it is today - the protective shields created by Eldrad now destroyed, and the surface made barren by freezing winds. Inside a dome structure, Eldrad is shot with an acid-filled dart - a trap supposedly left by the invaders. She asks to be taken to the lower levels where help can be found. There is a vast underground city, apparently totally abandoned. The Doctor realises that the sand underfoot is all that remains of the Kastrians. They are all dead. Eldrad is regenerated in its original "male" version. A recorded message from King Rokon reveals that there never was any invasion. Eldrad had tried to seize power and had been executed as a traitor. Rather than live a miserable life underground or risk the return of Eldrad, the Kastrians chose to destroy their genetic race banks and die out. The Doctor and Sarah flee back to the TARDIS when Eldrad announces he intends to rule the Earth instead. He plunges into a ravine as he gives chase.
In a bad mood, Sarah announces she wants to leave - fed up with being hypnotised and menaced by aliens. The Doctor receives a telepathic message from his homeworld. He must return home - and Sarah cannot accompany him. After bidding her a fond farewell, he drops her off at her home in South Croydon. After the TARDIS has dematerialised, she realises she is nowhere near home...
This four part adventure was written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, and was broadcast between the 2nd and 23rd October, 1976.
It marks Lis Sladen's departure from the programme as a regular cast member.
The story was originally intended as a six part adventure that would bring the previous season to a close. Influences include the 1946 Peter Lorre movie The Beast With Five Fingers. Disembodied hands have featured in a number of horror tales. In Dr Terror's House of Horrors (1965), humiliated art critic Christopher Lee is stalked by artist Michael Gough's murderous severed hand after Lee has run him over and killed him.
Director Lennie Mayne had already helmed the two Peladon stories and The Three Doctors, and reuses a couple of actors. One of these is Rex Robinson (who had appeared in both The Three Doctors and The Monster of Peladon). He is Dr Carter in this. Another is Frances Pidgeon who had been in the second Peladon tale. She is Prof. Watson's assistant Miss Jackson. She just happened to be Mayne's wife. Sadly, this was to be Mayne's last work on the programme. He died in a boating accident soon after.
Professor Watson is played by Glyn Houston, who will return to the series to guest in the Peter Davison story The Awakening.
King Rokon is played by Roy Skelton, usually off camera voicing the Daleks.
To play the two versions of Eldrad we first of all have Judith Paris as the female one, and then series semi-regular Stephen Thorne (Azal, Omega and an Ogron) as the shouty male one. Paris gives the superior performance, and has the best costume / make-up.
Episode endings are:
- As Sarah watches, the hand regrows its missing finger then squirms to life...
- Professor Watson is thrown to the floor as the station's control room explodes around him...
- In Outer Dome 6 on Kastria, Eldrad is shot by a poisoned dart...
- Sarah realises the Doctor has left her nowhere near her home. She looks up to the sky, wondering what the Doctor's next adventure will be, and if she'll ever see him again...
Overall, not a bad little story. It is Lis Sladen's departure that raises it above the ordinary. It was screened again in 2011 as a tribute after her untimely death.
Things you might like to know:
- The original storyline (had this ended Season 13) would have seen the hand belong to the advance scout for an alien invasion. The Brigadier would have died helping defeat the invasion.
- Eldrad Must Live!
- The Kastrians were originally going to be called Omegans - until Robert Holmes reminded Baker & Martin they had already used the name Omega for their The Three Doctors character.
- Episode 3 sees only the second time that a villain in jeopardy gets the cliffhanger - the first being the end of Episode 3 of The Daemons.
- It was originally intended that this would have been set at Nuton power complex - the same location as that seen in The Claws of Axos.
- Sladen's costume - the Andy Pandy one - is probably her most iconic outfit, despite only being worn this once. (It does get a second outing in the best forgotten Dimensions In Time, as well as Kevin Davies' (More than) 30 Years In The TARDIS documentary). The costume is actually referred to as being like Andy Pandy on screen - by Dr. Carter.
- Eldrad Must Live!!
- Baker & Martin use the "Gallifrey being somewhere in Ireland" joke for the first time.
- Baker & Martin did not write Sarah's departure scene. It was the work of Robert Holmes, with significant contributions from Sladen and Baker.
- Eldrad Must Live!!!
- The main hand prop was stolen from the studio, and a replacement had to be quickly made up. Sometime later, police raided the home of a BBC employee and found dozens of purloined props - including the hand.
- Glyn Houston is noticeably pestered by a fly at one point. Lis Sladen later swallowed it.
- Eldrad Must Live!!!!
Sunday, 1 December 2013
As threatened, I'm back again. None of the bribes worked. Have just got back from the wilds of Ayrshire - where the Internet is regarded as tantamount to sorcery. Despite being away from the computer, I still managed to have The Time of the Doctor spoiled somewhat - thanks to an old fashioned newspaper. I read a piece about the Christmas episode and noticed too late that it was all spoiler.
Now, what was printed might not actually be true, but some elements seem to fit with what is already known officially.
What the piece did not say, fortunately, were the exact circumstances of how the Doctor comes to regenerate. The man spoiler was how the regeneration limit issue is to be addressed.
I posted on this a few weeks back, and it seems it has nothing to do with River Song giving him her regenerations. Nor is it to do with unseen regenerations (as, since then, we've seen one of them).
I shan't spoil it for you, but will say that you need to look back to the Fifth Doctor era. You've also got to look back to last week's anniversary story.
Non-spoilery information is that a place called Christmas Town is under siege by lots of aliens - Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Silents and Weeping Angels. That tolling bell seen in the teaser trailer summons the Doctor to aid the inhabitants (the bell is heard by everyone in the Universe). The siege lasts a very long time (Clara has to take to the TARDIS to survive it) and the Doctor sustains an injury - other than the "fatal" one.
One other thing the piece failed to mention was quite how this links to Trenzalore.
Apart from that, the week saw the global reaction to The Day of the Doctor - with lots of records being broken. It's also that time of the year when the Radio Times tries to confuse us by slipping out an extra issue on the Saturday. In this case, it is the one with the Doctor Who cover and a Matt Smith interview within.
The Enemy of the World DVD arrived whilst I was away, so I was able to sit down and watch it last night on my return. How un-typical of the rest of the story was that orphan episode on the Lost In Time set? Even though I already owned the soundtrack, it is a story that has gone up in my estimation.
Looking ahead to the coming week, tomorrow sees the DVD releases of An Adventure In Space And Time and The Day of the Doctor. The former has some unseen recreated scenes as extras - including Hartnell's toast to all of us at home from The Feast of Steven. The latter has the wonderful Night of the Doctor and The Last Day prequel
Thursday will see subscribers receive the Tenth Doctor and Skaldak the Ice Warrior from the figurine collection - as well as a TARDIS, if you signed up for the occasional special releases.
Sunday, 24 November 2013
I was woken up at 4 o'clock this morning by a large black limousine, continually driving slowly and noisily past my bedside window. Now that is very odd I thought - living as I do on the 9th Floor...
I opened the window and found it was one of the new BBC Cardiff hover cars - the latest extravagant misuse of licence payers' money - and I'm sure not the last.
Sitting in the back, glaring malevolently, was a certain Mr Gatiss...
"So, we play the game again, Mr D" he hissed.
"Sod off. I've had 8 cans of blackcurrant cider and have to blog about The Day of the Doctor later today!"
"So you've seen my anniversary special then? I hope you liked it. Moffat has still got the old writers block. I've had him committed. I've got an android Moffat prepared to do interviews and show up at the Convention. Jenna Coleman is working it from the back when it starts to go wrong. I got the idea from The Androids of Tara."
"Why the heck are you here?"
"To tell you all about my new BBC3 sitcom, of course. Making "An Adventure In Space And Time" gave me the most wonderful idea. Imagine what would have happened if the Time Lords couldn't get the Three Doctors back to their proper time-streams?"
He paused. "Why is my anniversary special only in inverted commas, whereas the other thing gets bold?"
"It's an idiosyncrasy of this blog. Get on with what you've got to say".
"Well, the Three Doctors are played by my best mate David Bradley, and my other best mate Reece Shearsmith and, of course, my very best mate of all - Me! I do have to be in everything these days, you know. We get stranded in a two-up, two-down in Surbiton in the 1970's, and lots of comical happenings ensue. Bradley plays the grumpy old one, who never leaves the house. He's always stopping Reece and me getting girlfriends and having fun. Reece and I always bicker and get up to scrapes as we try to compete with each other. There's a lovely scene in episode three where I've spent ages redecorating the spare room - and he doesn't like it.
"A lot of the comedy derives from the arguments we have with the next door neighbour - Omega. He's also stuck in 1970's suburbia, and realises he was better off in the Universe of Anti-Matter, so he's always complaining about us. Especially when Reece and I try to get off with his buxom daughter..."
"Omega has a buxom daughter? So it is canonical then?"
"Of course! We've also got the Rani in it. She runs the local pub and Bradley ends up having the hots for her - though it's never reciprocated. (He sneaks down there without us knowing about it). She's also quite buxom. I understand young people quite like that sort of thing..."
"You'll be telling me the Meddling Monk is in it as well."
"He's at No. 37 - on the other side! Joins Reece and me on our scrapes. My best mate Rory Kinear has agreed to do it."
"Anything else you need to tell me about this, before I get my antique fowling piece and blast your anti-grav engines?"
"Only that Nick Parsons has agreed to play the vicar in a couple of episodes. In the pilot episode, he walks in just as Reece and I accidentally lose our trousers -and just as a couple of ladies from the Women's Institute come round for some jumble (Wendy Padbury and Debbie Watling have agreed to cameo. They lose their knickers when a window cleaner mistakes them for drashigs - sorry, dish rags. He's played by Frazer Hines, by the way. Didn't want to do it, until I mentioned Wendy and Deb's knickers. Then he was totally up for it, for some reason...).
"And, of course, Nick Briggs plays the voice of the Daleks -"
I took one look at the antique fowling piece. Made in Birmingham. That was good enough for me.
But, by the time I took aim, the hover car had flown off into the night - its occupant laughing maniacally and muttering about season 2 of his new series, in which the Three Doctors go on a package holiday to Spain....
|The cast of The Three Doctors sitcom spin-off pose for the cameras...|
1. The Time Lords were first name-checked in the Radio Times six weeks before Episode 9 of The War Games.
2. And Gallifrey was named in TV Comic a whole five months before Episode 3 of The Time Warrior.
3. The Cybermen were supposed to have the Ogrons' role in Frontier In Space.
4. I always thought the Walls Sky-Ray Doctor was a poorly drawn Troughton, whereas it was supposed to be an entirely new Doctor (Troughton not giving permission for his likeness to be used).
5. That Julian Glover as King Richard wore the same tunic that Mark Eden had worn as Marco Polo.
The latter three are from "The Vault" book, which I finally got round to reading, the first two from this week's Radio Times anniversary issue.
With the third and final day of the official Convention closing today, the celebrations come to an end. All of the TV and radio programming will be available for the next week on i-player, or is already out there on You Tube.
The two big highlights were The Day of the Doctor and An Adventure In Space And Time. I enjoyed them both. Lowlights were the BBC3 items - which tended to trivialise with their use of third rate comedians. I gave up on the "Afterparty" as soon as One Direction were announced - switching to the "Behind the Lens" feature on the Red Button service. Also on the Red Button was "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot" - another highlight of the week. So 5, 6 and 7 did make it into the special after all - if only covered in dust sheets.
Matthew Sweet's Culture Show Special was also well worth watching.
Of the CBBC stuff, 12 Again was my favourite, as mentioned yesterday. This involved interviews with Louise Jameson, Sylvester McCoy, Warwick Davis, John Culshaw, Dan Starkey, Neve Mcintosh, Tommy Knight, and the annoying CBBC presenter who also does the DWM Time Team feature - all giving their memories of watching Doctor Who when aged 12. For some it was Hartnell, others Tom Baker, and for young Tommy Chris Eccleston.
A couple of snippets of news from the Convention - Series 8 commences filming in January, and the contents of Room 11 (from The God Complex) are going to be revealed - presumably in the Christmas Special. Colin Baker is still banging on about not getting into DOTD properly in an interview today - his nose out of joint that his namesake got to appear. Sorry Colin, but Tom is, and always will be, a hundred times more popular than you and you will always be propping up the bottom of the polls. Stick to BF.
Last night, straight after DOTD, we got our first teaser trailer for the Christmas story. Bells tolling, Trenzalore, Daleks, Cybermen, Silents and Weeping Angels. Silence Will Fall.
Lastly, with the anniversary out of the way, and before things start to build up towards that Christmas Special, I am taking a little break. I'll be back next Sunday, ready to start musing on the next 50 years of Doctor Who...