Christmas 2017 brought with it the very latest interpretation of Shada – a story with a powerful grip on Doctor Who fans by virtue of never being completed. It is a story I hold in very high regard, and I was delighted to see it imagined as it was (almost) intended. One moment early on in what would have been episode 2 provoked an interesting line of thought: What if Lalla Ward had become the Fifth Doctor at the end of Season 16?Continue reading The Greatest Doctor Who Never Had
A from the archive conversation With Eddie
Alan Barnes has had a varied career… editor, producer, director, writer, he’s had a thumb in a lot of pies, if you can excuse the phrase. Transfering comic book creation Izzy to audio was just one of the challenges I talked to him about when I hid behind a corner and caught him in a bag as he made his way from Big Finish Towers, and it took two of us to get him into The Mind Probe…
Considering the amount of stories you’ve written for the Eighth Dctor/Izzy in comic form, wa sit a difficult transition to transfer that to audio for A Company of Friends…?Continue reading Alan Barnes Interview
FriendsofDerek talks to Chris Thompson, the brand manager for Eaglemoss’s Hero Collector lines. Find out what’s coming up for their Doctor Who range.
From our interview archives, Eddie talks to Lance Parkin about Bennice Summerfield.
So tell us a bit about Benny’s Story…
It’s one of four stories on Company of Friends, it has the working title ‘Tempting Fate’, it’s the eighth Doctor meeting the older Benny of the audio series. Someone has summoned the Doctor, and there’s a giant green lion and some killer robots, but it’s mainly a way to see the Doctor and Benny together again.
Did you get a say in the companion or era you wrote for?
None whatsoever, but they’re without a shadow of a doubt the two who’d be top of my list.Continue reading lance parkin interview
Eddie talks to Andrew Cartmel about S24-26, the Vinyl Detective and Torchwood?!?!
Highlights of the new issue include:
- Some of Doctor Who’s most renowned illustrators discuss their techniques: Chris Achilléos, Colin Howard, Martin Geraghty, Stuart Crouch, Anthony Dry and Anthony Lamb all speak exclusively to DWM.
- Television producer John Lloyd discusses his never-realised 1979 four-parter The Doomsday Contract ahead of its Big Finish release.
- Meet the collectors committed to acquiring the autographs of their favourite stars.
Doctor Who: Chronicles is a new series of bookazines from the makers of Doctor Who Magazine. Examining the landmark years of the show’s history in unprecedented detail, the first issue looks at 1965, when the most popular episodes of Doctor Who attracted more than 13 million viewers and Dalekmania reached its peak with the release of the first feature film based on the series.
This 116-page bookazine features newly discovered images and all-new features, including:Continue reading Doctor Who: Chronicles 1965
How the missing episodes took over my life
by Anthony Carroll, journalist and Dr Who fan (goes without saying)
There’s a number I think of everyday: ninety-seven.
There are ninety-seven episodes of our favourite show missing. Ninety-seven of poor Bill Hartnell’s and Pat Troughton’s stories and episodes seemingly consigned to the great archive in the sky.
Sooner or later, life and growing up got in the way, and I became something of a ‘lapsed fan’ from the 1990s, giving little thought to the missing episodes. The reboot of the show somewhat reignited my interest in the show, but I was not one to study every episode in detail and read about developments in DWM.Continue reading Doctor Who – It’s all ME ME ME!
Who is the grey giant that haunts the mountain of Ben MacDui? What exactly has the Brigadier come to investigate? And will Ace, ever, get to the Edinburgh Hogmany street party she so desperately craves?
Big Finish’s Grey Man of the Mountain, by Lisbeth Myles, is, it has to be said, a bit of a curate’s egg. On the one hand, Ms Myles’s writing is accomplished and natural. Characters are expertly made real through their actions and exchanges rather than cumbersome exposition, and the narrative proceeds at a satisfying pace. Sound design is, as ever, fantastic: the mountain atmospherics are beautifully evoked, creating a real sense of place. And the background music is, pretty much, spot on for the period of the TV series it tries to fit into.
Performances, too, are (on the whole) excellent. Sophie Aldred and Sylvester McCoy as Ace and the Doctor inhabit characters they are intimately familiar with, and yet obviously nowhere near bored of playing: there’s a real joy from both that is easily passed from actor to audient. (Singular of audience. It’s a word. Honest.)
And mention must be made of John Culshaw’s performance as the Brigadier. In many, many cases – Tim Treloar as the Third Doctor, for example – the fact that the actor plays an interpretation of a character rather than an impression of someone else’s performance is a real plus. Here, though, Culshaw’s expert rendition of Nicholas Courtney’s Brig is exemplary, and would be a lesser thing were it not so close to the original. It is very hard to hear without seeing the TV Brig in the mind’s eye, and that’s no mean feat. It’s an absolutely glorious thing to have him back for an entire story.
So, why a curate’s egg then? Well, there’s no one thing that is majorly wrong, but a number of small things that add up.
The script is very funny in places, and played for comedy, especially in the first episode. However, occasionally that comedy is hammered home with incidental music that completely overplays it, in one instance very nearly going the full shave-and-a-haircut. To my mind, this does the comedy of the moment a disservice. Thankfully, this isn’t the case for the majority of the story.
The music is also part of another problem for me: the Christmas motif. There is nothing essentially festive about the story, but being released in December there was obviously opportunity for a bit of yuletide reference, and that we get in spades. The Brigadier’s entrance is heavy-handedly Yuled-up by its incidental music, for example; and later in the story, an impromptu bit of Christmas singing feels artificially inserted in a somewhat laboured manner. I’m all for a Christmas story – but please, let’s have Christmas as a main character rather than a bystander.
My third issue was with the story itself. While beautifully written, it very much tells what happens rather than why it happens. There’s a bit of supposition later on regarding what might be going on, but to a great extent it is a series of events that occur rather than a mystery being solved or a larger picture emerging. As such – and despite one character’s story definitely going through an arc of sorts – there doesn’t feel like much of a satisfying third act to be had.
And lastly – and it really pains me to say this – one performance is just execrably poor. Not throughout, but enough bad acting that the fourth wall is repeatedly broken and the story undermined.
All in all, I am sad to say that I found this a disappointing listen. A lot of good things, and much that I look forward to hearing in the future (Culshaw and Myles to name but two); but enough small annoyances to make the whole thing less than the magic carpet ride it could have been.
Doctor Who Unloved is a new series of articles, by writer Peter Ravenscroft, that seek to look back at episodes of the show that have picked up a less than stellar reputation over the years; perhaps unfairly. These articles will revisit and perhaps restore the reputation of these stories.
We begin back with the 2nd Doctor and ‘The Dominators’. Over to you Peter.
Ah, ‘The Dominators’. Poor, unloved ‘The Dominators’. A story that frequently languishes shamefully towards the very bottom of fan polls, almost the worst Troughton story; for some fans, the very worst; the story that’s so bad even the writers had their names removed from the credit; even Derrick Sherwin, who re-wrote most of it, shaved an episode off and didn’t have a kind word to say about it.
In this episode of Doctor Who Unloved, I take a look at whether ‘The Dominators’ really is the disastrous Dulcian’s dinner that fandom seems to think, or is it worth substantial reappraisal?
Now, I have a confession to make; a confession that the five people who follow me on Twitter already know: I love ‘The Dominators’. It is one of those stories that every other fan appears to loathe but which I truly enjoy. In the last Doctor Who Magazine poll, it was noted that ‘The Dominators’ was the only story not to receive a single 10/10 rating from voters. But that’s because I did not vote in the Poll!
‘The Dominators’ was the first Patrick Troughton serial I ever saw, way back in 1990 when it was shown as part of the Galaxy channel’s Doctor Who weekend in late September. And immediately, I was impressed with Troughton’s portrayal of the Doctor. Anyone who can find nothing to like in ‘The Dominators’ must surely be oblivious to the superb chemistry portrayed by Troughton, and Frazer Hines as Jamie, one of the best Doctor/Companion pairings in the history of the series, and they are on sparkling form here. The scenes set in the Dominator’s ship as the TARDIS team face intelligence tests that the Doctor is trying desperately to fail are superb, as is the scene in which Dominator Rago assesses whether the Doctor and Jamie understand guns. The Doctor’s improvised solutions to problems, such as piloting the travel capsules, rustling up potent explosives from a medical kit to destroy Quarks, and tunnelling through the bunker wall to catch the deadly seed device are tremendous fun to watch.
One accusation often levelled at ‘The Dominators’ as a serial is that it is dull. Sorry, but I just don’t see that. It captivated me as a ten year old, and I will still watch all 5 episodes back-to-back to this day. A real highlight is the pacy, and often brilliantly absurd Quark hunt in the final episode.
There is nothing dull about the Dominators themselves. They are nasty, vindictive, cruel villains who are presented as a credible threat. Surely there is a convincing allegory to be applied to a twenty-first century view of them – they are the unscrupulous businessmen and politicians who would destroy a planet and its people for profit, driven by the greed for fuel.
Ronald Allen and Kenneth Ives are perfectly cast and deliver suitably menacing performances; Allen brilliantly plays the glowering senior Dominator Rago; one of his best scenes is the callous gunning down of Tensa by a Quark, when the Dulcian refuses to accede to Rago’s demands. Ives is despicably devious as the rash and impulsive Toba, intent on senseless destruction for the fun of it whenever Rago’s back is turned; his high point is the malicious murder of the harmless Ballan in the penultimate episode. The fact that neither of the Dominators get on with each other is actually a rather refreshing take on Doctor Who villainy, arguably an example of the banality of evil: Dominators by name; petty but no less dangerous bureaucrats by nature, and I enjoy this facet of their characterisation, a facet that enhances, not detracts, from the Dominators as villains.
Another accusation of dullness is frequently levelled at the Dulcians themselves. My interpretation is – that’s the whole point. The Dulcians are a civilisation which has allowed themselves to become so complacent that they have atrophied into an indolent race with no curiosity, no personality, no ambition, and with their politicians trapped in interminable debates.
Perhaps ‘The Dominators’ is unpopular because the politics of the Dulcians holds up an unflattering mirror to the issue of lazy liberalism. Now, I’m not implying for one moment that the way to solve such laziness is to crush the offenders out of existence, but even the Doctor, often portrayed as a liberal supporter of the underdog, realises that the Dulcians need a literal bomb under them to get them to act; in much the same way as the First Doctor has to rouse the pacifist Thals into action to solve their own insidious problems on Skaro. Maybe such politics has fallen out of fashion in our supposedly more enlightened age, and ‘The Dominators’ suffers as a result.
I think that is a shame.
Of course, one cannot assess ‘The Dominators’ without considering the Quarks. Now, I have very few issues with the Quarks. Their design is appealing (they would make great action figures), the soundscape created for them, with all of their burbles, beeps and warbles is distinctive, and they do give the very clear impression of being, as the Doctor puts it ‘appallingly dangerous’: their initial destruction of Cully’s three friends as they run from the capsule is effectively gruesome, and the pyrotechnics team do a convincing job of portraying the Quark’s firepower in the destruction of Cully’s travel craft. The only thing I would criticise is their voices: they are certainly idiosyncratic but I feel they would have been more effective if they had been more sinister and powerful, rather than sounding like giggling children.
To conclude, I stand by my conviction that ‘The Dominators’ is an unfairly maligned entry into the glorious canon of Classic Doctor Who and deserves far wider appreciation than it receives.
Is that a ‘Dominators’ detractor I see over there? Quark – Destroy!
Written by Peter Ravenscroft