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All of Time and Space: 50 Years of Doctor Who

There was a gap in time and space.

A gap between Grandstand and Juke Box Jury, primetime on BBC1. They needed something that could appeal to everyone, that could run and run, that would capture the imagination of the nation. And thanks to a team that included Sydney Newman, Verity Lambert, Waris Hussein, and William Hartnell, Doctor Who was born.

An Unearthly Child 1 - feat

The very first episode was broadcast 50 years ago today. This immense anniversary surely can’t have passed anyone by; it’s something that TV really can’t do that often – simply because not much lasts that long, not much can become compulsive television, not much is ingrained in society’s psyche quite like Doctor Who.

What’s its lasting appeal? Well, watch an episode. Longevity is ingrained in its very DNA.

Showrunner, Steven Moffat, recently called the show immortal. Even in The Wilderness Years (the 1990s and early 2000s, for those uninitiated), the Doctor and his wonderful TARDIS lived on in books and audio and comics and in the minds of many generations. It’s a living legend.

Despite its proud British iconography, that famous Time Lord has travelled the globe: tonight’s 50th anniversary celebration, which stars Matt Smith and David Tennant as the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors respectively, will be simulcast around the globe.

It would be easy to propose a toast to those who have made the show what it is. But the weight of those individuals would be incredible. Of course, let’s look at those Doctors – William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi – splendid fellows, all of them!

But then there are the companions, the guest stars, the writers, the directors, the producers, designers, floor managers, assistant directors, executive producers, showrunners… Oh, there have been so many.

So thank you all.

Doctor Who has changed my life; that’s no secret. And one day, I want to write for the Doctor. Yes, one day. But for now, I’m happy celebrating in my own little way. I’ve watched An Unearthly Child this morning; went to see the actual TARDIS last weekend (!); have been writing Introducing: Doctor Who feature articles for Kasterborous since January; rewatched Cold War (just because); am reading The Only Good Dalek; am poring through the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine; and (something which I’m almost sure no one else in the world is doing to celebrate) am reading the TARGET novel, Doctor Who and the Invisible Enemy.

I can’t wait to find out what I’m doing on the show’s 100th anniversary.

Another amazing thing about Doctor Who is how it brings people together. I’m part of a fandom, a network of dedicated people, all who love the same thing. I now have friends I didn’t have before 2005, when I became a fan… No, actually, I now have friends I didn’t have before last year – and it’s all thanks to Doctor Who.

To paraphrase the Eighth Doctor – friends I’ve known: I salute you.

The show has also given me countless hours of entertainment. And there’s not a person in the UK who doesn’t know what the TARDIS is. There’s not a person in the UK who doesn’t know what the Daleks are.

And as a fitting paradox, there’s not a person in the UK who doesn’t know who the Doctor is – even though we don’t actually know much about him. Doctor… Who?

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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Television, Uncategorized

 

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Kasterborous Magazine Out Now!

The print version of the Kasterborous Magazine is out now, alongside an online edition and a copy accessible on tablets and mobile phones.

K Mag 1.1

For my editor, Christian Cawley, it’s been two years of hard work. The rest of us just breeze in sometimes, send him a feature or an interview or something, then our job’s done! But Christian and designer, James McLean have both delivered an exceptional magazine which celebrates both the show and fandom. As Christian explains in his Editorial, the Kasterborous Magazine is all about what makes the show: the fans.

After all, Doctor Who is run by fans, and has been for quite some years now! Notably, there’s Steven Moffat and Russell T. Davies, but going further than that, there’s Julie Gardner, Andrew Cartmel, Caroline Skinner, Phil Collinson, John Nathan-Turner… That’s just touching the surface. Everyone who stars in the sci-fi sensation seems to fall in love with it. Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, was a fan before, of course, as was Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, admits to not really watching it before he was cast – but now is as dedicated a fan as any.

And Kasterborous Magazine #01 features my exclusive interview with Matt, conducted last year at the Doctor Who Experience.

K Mag 1.2

Obviously, I can’t give too much away at the moment, but needless to say, it was an incredible, unforgettable experience, and I’m really proud of the final four-page feature.

So how did the magazine first come into fruition? “A pub was involved, perhaps 2, over the space of several months and under the guiding hand of [Vworp! Vworp! editor, Gareth Kavanagh],” Christian tells me. “The initial idea kind of followed on from Vworp! Vworp!, in which I contributed Time Leech part 1, and I was keen to find a new way of increasing Kasterborous’ reach, as Facebook and Twitter weren’t working too well and the podKast was on hiatus at the time. You know Doctor Who fans are the only people who say ‘on hiatus’?”

The magazine has a very fresh, unique look, and Christian says that James McLean “has done an awesome job balancing daily illustration work with the challenge of coming to terms with completely new software, so I doff my hat to him as I’d still be fiddling with borders at this stage. We decided to [create] emblems, which gave us some direction. You can see in the first issue how James’ use of the software has advanced as you read through from beginning to end, and I think with the Asylum of the Daleks feature, we found the best way of developing a look for an article, so expect more of that in issue 2…”

K Mag 1.3

The magazine isn’t the only new thing about Kasterborous, however: the K Store allows you to buy all version of the magazine alongside books and – coming soon! – t-shirts, as well as allowing free download of Rick Lundeen’s web comic adaptation of The Daleks’ Master Plan. “[It’s] something I’ve been planning since back when we released Ultimate Regeneration,” Christian says. “Back then, time and knowledge got in the way, as did technology. It’s much easier to launch a store these days.”

Issue 2 focusses on Doctor Who games, described as the ‘Digital Conundrum’ – but why does Christian think so many of the games have failed? “If we were only talking about one or two games then it would be difficult to say,” he considers. “Looking at it, I think the BBC’s idea of what a video game is, can and should be are vastly in opposition to what development teams might think. It’s an ongoing bugbear of mine.”

The second issue is planned for sometime this year, and yes, I’ve written a feature on the MMO, Worlds in Time. If you want to contribute to further issues, simply email Christian (christian@kasterborous.com) or contact him via Twitter or Facebook.

My co-contributors for #01 are: Elton Townend-Jones, Scott Varnham, Christine Grit, Alasdair Shaw, and Associate Editor, Brian A. Terranova.

And you can buy your copy here!

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Interview, Published work, Television

 

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Conditional Clause: if I were you, I’d take it seriously.

A condition clause is usually a sentence with ‘if’ or ‘unless’ in. Simple as that. But getting its rules wrong can make you look unprofessional.

We use the conditional clause surprisingly often. Most notably, we say ‘if I were you…’

Or, as some would have it, ‘if I was you…’ But the latter is simply wrong.

Simple things to remember:

If something is a fact, use ‘was.’ For example, ‘when I was nineteen, I started this blog.’ Because I did start my blog when I was nineteen.

But if something is speculative (a different situation to the one you’re in), use ‘were.’ So it’s always, “if I were you” – because you never will be somebody else… unless Freaky Friday turns out to be a documentary.

It’s an important part of everyday speech and copy. Get it right, and nobody will notice. Get it wrong, and everyone will.

FURTHER READING… My Grammar and I (or Should That Be ‘Me’?) By Caroline Taggart and J. A. Wines.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Unpublished work

 

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48 Years of Doctor Who!

Today, my favourite TV show, Doctor Who celebrates its 48th anniversary.

And to celebrate, here’s a list of some must-watch serials from all eleven brilliant Doctors. Obviously, it’s just my opinions, but I’d love to hear your views too.

And remember, you can look at my Bluffer’s Guide to the Doctor, a breakdown of all his incarnations, here.

The First Doctor (William Hartnell): The War Machines.

The concluding story of season three, The War Machines sees the Doctor and Dodo land in London in 1966. While Dodo is unceremoniously dumped from the TARDIS, a new computer system, WOTAN, is installed in the Post Office Tower… and tries to take over the world!

Meanwhile, Ben and Polly are introduced and have to face up to WOTAN’s War Machines.

Though it’s notorious for the mad computer calling the Time Lord “Doctor Who” throughout, it’s the First Doctor at his best – and the cliffhanger to episode three is excellent!

Read all about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/warmachines/

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_War_Machines

Honourable Mentions: An Unearthly Child (aka. 100,000 BC.); The Romans.

The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton): The Tomb of the Cybermen.

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria land on Telos, where they and an archaeological team find the supposed last vestiges of the Cybermen, deep within an icy tomb.

This Doctor has faced off against the Cybermen – and Cybermats – numerous times, but The Tomb of the Cybermen is just so good! There are big moments – like the unthawing tombs releasing their inhabitants – and small, quiet moments, like the Doctor talking to Victoria about her new life as a time traveller. And all are similarly memorable and excellent.

Read all about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/tombcybermen/

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Tomb_of_the_Cybermen

Honourable Mentions: The Invasion; The War Games.

The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee): Day of the Daleks.

It’s the Third Doctor, Jo Grant, UNIT, Daleks and what the cool kids call, ‘wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey… stuff.’ What more do you want?!

A group of guerrillas are sent back in time to stop a grim future: Earth, ruled by Daleks! And the new Special Edition DVD offers – alongside the originally transmitted version – new effects, new footage and new Dalek voices, provided by Nick Briggs. Even better.

You can read my in-depth reviews of the new DVD release here and here.

Read all about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/dayofdaleks/

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Day_of_the_Daleks

Honourable Mentions: Spearhead from Space; Inferno.

The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker): The Ark In Space.

The Fourth Doctor, Sarah-Jane and Harry are such a fantastic TARDIS team, it’s nearly impossible to narrow down just the one top tale from Season Twelve.

The Sontaran Experiment is, ignoring a few gaffs, an excellent short serial set on a desolate Earth; Genesis of the Daleks is chilling in its harsh reality and is an essential Dalek origin story; but The Ark In Space is packed full of memorable and stirring moments.

From the contrast of the wriggling, foaming Wirrn transformation against the clinical space station Nerva to the famous “indomitable” speech, The Ark In Space is pitched beautifully.

Read all about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/arkinspace/

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Ark_in_Space

Honourable Mentions: The Seeds of Doom; State of Decay.

The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison): The Caves of Androzani.

This was voted the best story of all by Doctor Who Magazine readers in 2009, when it was up against 199 other serials. And it really deserves the crown.

Its grim and moody atmosphere combines with top-notch acting and direction. There’s some of the best cliffhangers in the show’s history and one of my favourite Doctors takes centre stage as he struggles to save – not all of time and space, not the universe, not even the planet – his companion, Peri. This is what Doctor Who is all about.

It’s as perfect as you can get.

Read all about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/cavesandrozani/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_caves_of_androzani

Honourable Mentions: Snakedance; Mawdryn Undead.

The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker): The Two Doctors.

Just as the title suggests, it’s two Doctor for the price of one, as the Sixth meets Patrick Troughton’s Second – in colour!

It’s a fun tale, but also quite grim, with a huge scale: from Space Station Camera to Seville, Spain, the Sontarans and biologically- augmented Androgums try to find the secret of time travel. Plus there’s some really hammy acting.

Oh, and there’s some great lines, like the Sixth Doctor saying, “What’s the use of a good quotation if you can’t change it?”

Read all about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/twodoctors/

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Two_Doctors

Honourable Mentions: Revelation of the Daleks; Trial of a Time Lord.

The Seventh Doctor (Sylvestor McCoy): Remembrance of the Daleks.

As far as I can remember, Remembrance of the Daleks was the first Classic Who DVD I bought, and what a great tale to start off with. The Doctor takes Ace to 1963 London where two Dalek factions are fighting over something the Doctor hid, supposedly the reason he was there when we first met him in An Unearthly Child.

The dark and scheming Doctor really comes into his own and there are some fantastically memorable lines. It’s steeped in continuity, but nobody will feel excluded and the plot still thunders along.

Plus: Daleks! And, contrary to popular belief, this is the first time we see a Dalek climb stairs…

Read all about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/remembrancedaleks/

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Remembrance_of_the_Daleks

Honourable Mentions: Delta and the Bannerman; The Curse of Fenric.

The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann): The TV Movie.

Yep, okay, so the 1996 film is the only TV appearance of Doctor Eight, but it’s still pretty cool. Sylvestor McCoy is back, before being shot and regenerating into Paul McGann.

The two Doctors on show here are just superb, and it’s such a shame the Eighth Doctor didn’t get more screen-time in a full series (though he has expanded his incarnation dramatically for Big Finish audios). There are plenty of bits to make long-time fans squirm, but there’s also a new Master – who likes to ‘drezz’ for the occasion – a great TARDIS interior and a great scene where the Doctor remembers who he is.

Oh, and the Doctor steps through glass. He’s that cool.

Read all about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/tvmovie/

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Doctor_Who_(1996)

Honourable Mentions: Uhm…

The Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston): The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances.

The first time Steven Moffat worked his magic on the series is a cracker, prompting children nationwide – and a few adults, too – to ask: “Are you my Mummy?”

There are scares a-plenty with gas-masked ‘zombies’ roaming war-torn London, freaky transformations and a very clever get-out clause to resolve the chilling cliffhanger. The Doctor and Rose are at their best, while the introduction of Captain Jack Harkness is handled expertly.

And the reason all these sinister occurrences are happening is so brilliantly innocent.

Read all about it: http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Empty_Child

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Doctor_Dances

Honourable Mentions: The Long Game; Bad Wolf/ The Parting of the Ways.

The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant): The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit.

Why writer, Matt Jones hasn’t been invited back to the series is a complete mystery. This base-under-siege two-parter is one of the best.

There are some impressively creepy scenes and concepts here, with the Doctor separated from Rose on a planet that shouldn’t exist, circling a black hole. The Ood are introduced, there’s a very sad death and the CGI is great throughout. It’s also rare that Who discusses religion so in-depth, but this pulls it off magnificently.

To top all this, there’s some spectacular dialogue, my favourite of which is: “He bathes in the Black Sun.”

Read all about it: http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Impossible_Planet

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Satan_Pit

Honourable Mentions: Midnight; The Waters of Mars.

The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith): The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang.

There are so many moments here to give you goosebumps.

A few people didn’t like the two-parter that closed series five, but as far as I’m concerned (and there are plenty who agree), this is the best finale so far. It’s basically perfect.

Beautiful acting and directing, but the writing is sublime. It’s epic and quiet, emotive and exciting. Throughout, it really does feel like the end of all time and space. And the end is incredibly elating.

This masterpiece is what every writer should aim for. Mr. Moffat, you’ve done it again.

Read all about it: http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Pandorica_Opens_(TV_story)

http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Big_Bang

Honourable Mentions: The Eleventh Hour; The Girl Who Waited.

Coming Christmas 2011…

So that’s all for now. Bring on The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe…!

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Unpublished work

 

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Save Doctor Who Confidential!

As you may know by now, Doctor Who Confidential has been axed.

For any Doctor Who fan, this is terrible news, but it also affects those interested in the television industry. Confidential has been going since 2005, and has provided us with hours and hours of entertainment, but is also hugely informative, adding an extra layer to the BBC1 flagship programme – the perfect companion to the best TV show ever.

What’s worse, there’s no reason for its axing.

The BBC has released this statement:

“Doctor Who Confidential has been a great show for BBC3 over the years but our priority now is to build on original British commissions, unique to the channel.”

This actually means nothing. Confidential is an original, British show, and is also unique to BBC3. Furthermore, recent plans released by the BBC have revealed that BBC3 and BBC4’s main job, from now on, is to support the shows on BBC1 and BBC2. Confidential does exactly this.

BBC3 have such a bad reputation, so it’s absurd that they decommission the one show that draws a significant audience. In recent editions, a voiceover begged Confidential viewers to carry on watching BBC3 after the programme finished!

This move feels less like a cost-cutting measure, and more like the new BBC3 Controller, Zai Bennett, throwing his new-found weight around and axing for axing’s sake.

Okay, so what can you do about it?

Firstly, please feel free to email the BBC to complain about this awful decision here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/

It’s a simple process, but hopefully will be effective. Loyal fans have also set up an online petition, which they’ll send to the BBC this Friday:

http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/savedwc

All you have to do is add your name. And maybe the names of all your family and friends (obviously after asking them!). It’s that simple.

But please, do it before Friday 28th October 2011. The aim is to get 50,000 signatures by then, and they’re on 47,513 as I write this. 28th October is Save Doctor Who Confidential Day… as well as Matt Smith’s Birthday!

You can also follow the Save DWC Twitter account here:

http://twitter.com/#!/SaveDWC

Later in November, Zai Bennet, who made this terrible decision, will appear on Points of View. Feel free to inundate the show with your complaints too.

Even though he shouldn’t, Steven Moffat, Doctor Who showrunner, said in the current issue of Doctor Who Magazine:

“It seems hard to grasp. All shows have their time, and all shows end, but not, in all sanity, while people still watch and love them. And going by the numbers and the outcry, this show was watched and loved everywhere.

“I’m not supposed to say it, but I’m going to anyway: bad day, bad decision. I know these are straitened times. I know we’re all at sea and the night is colder – but you don’t start burning the lifeboats to keep warm.

“Or to put it another way, you might want to think about the future if you’re planning to
live there.”

And he’s 100% right.

Please BBC. Don’t do this.

Thanks for reading and doing your bit. I really appreciate it. If just one more signature results from this blog, then it’s worth it.

And remember: you’re the license fee-payer. Tell the BBC what you want doing with your money!

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Unpublished work

 

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