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Tim Bradley as Billy (Cardiff)

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Project: Nirvana (Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles)
Project: Nirvana (Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles)
by Cavan Scott
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forge File - Two Companions, 19 Jun. 2015
This is a unique Companion Chronicle!

'Project: Nirvana' is a Seventh Doctor adventure featuring two companions. It's not Ace and Hex. It's Captain Lysandra Aristedes and Private Sally Morgan. Maggie O'Neill and Amy Pemberton reprise their roles for this exclusive Big Finish audio in the Companion Chronicles range of 'Doctor Who'.

I was surprised and delighted to find this Companion Chronicle featuring these two women made by Big Finish. This was an exclusive audio for the Seventh Doctor 'White/Black TARDIS trilogy' in 2012.

This is a two-part adventure by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright. This story takes place in between 'House of Blue Fire' and 'Protect and Survive'. I enjoyed listening to this audio adventure and hearing Lysandra and Sally together. I was keen to find out more in these Seventh Doctor audios.

Both Lysandra and Sally have appeared in 'Doctor Who' before. They met the Seventh Doctor in specific adventures in this story arc involving the Forge and the White/Black TARDISes. Lynsandra made her first appearance in 'Project: Destiny' whilst Sally first appeared in 'House of Blue Fire'.

Here in this story, Lysandra and Sally are already travelling with the Doctor by this point. There's no explanation or introduction given as to how these two women met and how they ended up travelling with the Doctor. I believe all is explained in the audio drama 'Black and White'.

The Doctor, Lysandra and Sally arrive in Romania, 2015 in the Black TARDIS above the Carpathian Mountains. The Doctor has a mission for the two women, as they're to hijack a train racing through the snow. There is an acquisition of the Forge on board and a connection to Lysandra's past.

This story is in many ways a sequel to three stories featuring the Forge - 'Project: Twilight'; 'Project: Lazarus' and 'Project: Destiny'. I enjoyed listening to those stories with the Forge and Nimrod and was amazed to find that more was to be told about this dodgy organisation that deal with aliens.

Both Maggie O'Neill and Amy Pemberton provide superb narration as their characters in this story. I found how sharp and focused Maggie's voice was as Lysandra whilst Amy's voice as Sally was soothing and easy-to-listen to as she expressed the warmth and compassion compared to Lysandra.

Maggie O'Neill provides more depth as Lysandra as she describes events from her perspective in this adventure. It is clear Lysandra hasn't had the easiest of lives working for the Forge. Despite being a companion to the Doctor, she's still uneasy about him as she becomes part of his master plan.

Amy Pemberton is lovely as Sally. Sally is an eager and curious soul and lets her compassion get the better of her which annoys Lysandra at times. Sally gets captured and interrogated by a younger Lysandra with the Truth Sayer and struggles to reveal the truth her identity and the future.

Yes! There are two Lysandras appearing in this story which is confusing. There's the younger Lysandra working for the Forge at this time in 2015 and the current Lysandra travelling with the Doctor. The younger Lysandra is bitter and hates the Doctor for what happened in 'Project: Lazarus'.

Sylvester McCoy makes a guest appearance as the Doctor in this adventure. It was nice to hear Sylvester in this one. Sylvester's Doctor takes a back seat as he sends Lysandra and Sally in on their mission. He knows what's going on and makes his return in 'Part Two' to defeat the monster.

The Doctor is currently travelling in the Black TARDIS which started when he was travelling alone from 'Robophobia' to 'House of Blue Fire'. To find out more on this mystery, keep listening!

The enemy is Derleth, who is one of the Elder Gods. He controls people's emotions such as Sally who laughs uncontrollably which is disturbing. Derelth takes control of the younger Lysandra giving Maggie O'Neill to have a deep scary voice. Sally strangely worships Derleth under his influence.

There are references to the Forge and Nimrod in relation to the activities of this story and Project: Nirvana. It turns out the Forge were attempting to duplicate Derelth as a clone when capturing him. This sounds familiar when Captain Millington wanted Fenric's power in 'The Curse of Fenric'.

The core of this story is Lysandra discovering her past. It turns out Lysandra doesn't remember the events of being possessed by Derelth when she was young. It was something she did in order to defeat Derelth and the Doctor knew this as her memories were supressed from this experience.

I enjoyed listening to this Companion Chronicle with Lysandra and Sally. It's a very unusual Forge story without Nimrod, but adds more to the mystery of the Doctor travelling with these two women. To find out more about this 'war' the Doctor's recruited Sally and Lysandra, listen to the next story.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of the disc, there is a trailer for 'The Last Post' with Caroline John as Liz Shaw. There is also a suite of incidental music to enjoy. I'm sad and disappointed that there aren't any interviews with Maggie O'Neill and Amy Pemberton on this disc for this story.

The next story for the Doctor is 'Protect and Survive'.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2015 9:02 AM BST

Doctor Who - The Curse of Fenric [1989] [DVD] [1963]
Doctor Who - The Curse of Fenric [1989] [DVD] [1963]
Dvd ~ Sylvester McCoy
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haemovores and Fenric with the Doctor and Ace, 19 Jun. 2015
"We play the contest again...Time Lord!"

'The Curse of Fenric' is an extraordinary 'Doctor Who' adventure by Ian Briggs starring Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace. It is set during World War II and features a deadly chess-playing enemy for the Doctor. It is also a story about Ace facing her present personal fears.

This is a 2-disc DVD set. The first disc contains the original four-part adventure whilst the second disc contains a full-length special edition version of the story with new scenes and new effects.

The Doctor and Ace visit a secret military base. The base is used as a post to intercept German messages. Also at the base, an eccentric scientist is trying to discover ancient-old Viking runes on a wall. This is part of a deadly curse, as vampire Haemovores rise and Fenric makes his next move.

I enjoyed watching this story (both versions) on DVD. I don't fully understand the whole plot as there's a lot going on in Ian Briggs' story and is very complex. But what is happening in this story is a game of chess played between the Doctor and Fenric that's been going on for a terribly long time.

This is a dark story in the Seventh Doctor era compared to his earlier comical endeavours. There are aspects of the story I found interesting including Viking old legends and Norse mythology; vampire-beings like the Haemovores and the Doctor's cunning agenda, reinforicing the chess theme again.

What shone out for me was Ace's story. Ace has developed gradually during the series since she joined the Doctor. This is the story where find out some of the truths of Ace's character such as how she came to be on Iceworld in 'Dragonfire' and what the relationship with her mother was like.

The Doctor is more mysterious than ever and his relationship with Ace is far more than interesting and deeper than before. He knows about Fenric already, who is a pure force for evil and was locked by the Doctor. Fenric managed to escape and use his pawns in the game of chess against the Doctor.

In the story, a group of Russian commandoes comes to the British coast by sea. This gets interesting, as the Russians are supposed to be on Britain's side during the war. The reason for why they come here in the story is to capture the ULTIMA supercomputer used at the military base to win the war.

Sylvester McCoy delivers a superb performance. He manages to balance the clownish side and the more serious, darker aspects of his Doctor. He knows what's happening and doesn't tell Ace. You wonder why Sylvester's Doctor does these things and why he must play these games of chess of his.

Sophie Aldred is wonderful as Ace here. Ace has been growing up gradually in this set of stories for Season 26. She's still the daring girl with Nitro-9 explosives and climbing down rope ladders from church buildings. Here we see her becoming scared and Sophie portrays the angst of Ace very well.

I like it when Ace gets to show her compassionate side like when befriending Kathleen Dudman and loving her baby Audrey (which is also Ace's mother's name). Also Ace gets to show her sensual side as she's no longer 'a little girl' and she distracts a guard for the Doctor to rescue someone.

Ace gets angry with the Doctor when he won't tell her anything about his secret agenda and keeps her in the dark. I like it when Ace gets to be clever, as she works out the mystery of the Viking runes as being a logic diagram to Dr Judson. I was terrified when Ace was almost taken by Haemovores.

I like seeing Ace in her 1940s clothes with the red hair net; blue dress and stockings. She still manages to look cool and sometimes wears her Ace jacket at times during the story.

The guest cast are superb. There's Nicholas Parsons as Rev. Wainwright. Parsons is a well-known radio/television presenter and actor. He plays a vicar who loses his faith. I like the scene between him and Ace in the church. He tries to ward off vampires with his faith, but sadly doesn't work.

There's Dinsdale Landen as Dr Judson, who tries to uncover the Viking runes on the wall in the catacombs beneath the base. Judson is pretty eccentric, but welcomes the Doctor and Ace's help. Judson gets taken over by Fenric and that 'Part 3' cliffhanger is creepy with his yellow eyes.

There's Alfred Lynch as Commander Millington. Millington runs the military base and has his own office as an exact replica of Hitler's office in Germany. He's a ruthless and 'inhuman' person as Ace calls him. He tries to think like Hitler winning the war for Britain and hopes to gain Fenric's power.

Tomek Bork plays Captain Sorin, in command of the Russian commandoes. Sorin is an honourable and decent man who has a strong faith. He becomes smitten with Ace and gives her his scarf, admiring her bravery and skill. Sorin sadly gets killed when taken over by Fenric which was a shock.

There are two girls, Joann Kenny as Jean and Joanne Bell as Phyllis. These two girls are London refugees who come to the countryside to stay with Miss Hardaker (Janet Henfrey). They're cheeky and naughty and soon have black hearts when swimming in the sea waters and become vampires.

There's also Cory Pulman as Kathleen Dudman. Kathleen is a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) at the military base. She has a baby daughter called Audrey and forms a close bond with Ace. I really like how Ace grows fond of Kathleen and the baby and helps her to escape.

The monsters are the vampire-like Haemovores. I'm not a fan of vampires as I find them terrifying enough as it is. The Haemovores are very grotesque and scary to watch with their blue faces and blubbery skin. They seem very hard to kill, as Russians firing bullets won't keep them down forever.

There's an interesting Haemovore character that speaks called the Ancient One (Raymond Trickett) . This is a big Haemovore that Fenric in Dr Judson summons. It was used the control the Haemovores and attack the military base. It doesn't seem hostile and vicious as it appears in the story.

The music in this story composed by Mark Ayres is very eerie and creepy. There are some beautiful; haunting cues when we have scenes underwater. The music easily shifts into a snappy and gripping tone when there are action-sequences and Haemovores coming out of the water and attack.

The final episode of this story has the truth of Ace revealed. It turns out that Ace is one of Fenric's pawns - 'the wolves of Fenric'. Ace's transport to Iceworld in `Dragonfire' was no accident. It was part of Fenric's scheme to bring her back to 1943. The Doctor knew this all the time, but Ace didn't.

Fenric reveals Ace that she has created her own future. It turns out that Kathleen Dudman's baby daughter is actually Ace's mum. Ace hates her mum, but she helped Kathleen (her grandfather) to save her baby Audrey so that she grows up and has Ace as her daughter. Does that make sense?

There's a horrible moment when the Doctor betrays Ace to Fenric. Fenric threatens to kill Ace unless the Doctor kneels before him. But the Doctor tells Fenric to kill her, calling her 'a social misfit' and an 'emotional cripple'. This really upsets Ace as she had great faith in him and falls to the floor.

But it was a deliberate ploy, as Ace's faith was preventing the Doctor to defeat Fenric in this game of chess. Fenric gets killed with the Ancient One, and the Doctor and Ace escape. Ace is angry and hurt, but the Doctor tries to reassure her and is really sorry for betraying her as he explains why he did it.

Despite forgiving the Doctor in the end, Ace is still emotionally torn as she didn't realise that baby Audrey was her mum who she hates. There's a defining moment for Ace, as she dives into the water and swims, cleaning herself of her fears. She comes out refreshed with the Doctor waiting for her.

I really like how the story ends with the Doctor and Ace continuing travelling together as they head off back to the TARDIS. The story certainly enhances and develops their character relationships. Both Sylvester and Sophie shine throughout and I continue to enjoy them both in the Big Finish audios.

The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there's the four-part version of the story. There's an information text commentary option; a 'Modelling the Dead' featurette; a 'Claws and Effects' featurette and a 'Title Sequences' music video with two audio options.

There are two audio options to enjoy. There's a commentary with Sylvester McCoy; Sophie Aldred and Nicholas Parsons. There's also an isolated score music-only option to watch and enjoy. There's a photo gallery; a 'Nebula 90' convention panel and a 'Take Two' item.

On Disc 2, there's a 'Shattering the Chains' interview with writer Ian Briggs and a 'Recutting the Runes' interview with Mark Ayres on the special edition version of 'The Curse of Fenric'. There's a '40th Anniversary Celebration' music video and a 'Costume Design' interview with Ken Trew.

And of course there's the special edition version of 'The Curse of Fenric' to enjoy. It's about a 104 minutes long containing new scenes and new visual effects. This special edition version of the story is dedicated to the memory of director Nicholas Mallet and producer John Nathan-Turner.

'The Curse of Fenric' is an intriguing and extraordinary story of 'Doctor Who'. I enjoyed watching it. I don't fully understand the story altogether, but it's gripping to watch. The Haemovores are terrifying and Ace's story was a joy to watch as her character develops and her relationship with the Doctor.

The next story for the Doctor and Ace is 'The Hollow Men'.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2015 7:18 AM BST

Doctor Who - Terror of the Zygons [DVD]
Doctor Who - Terror of the Zygons [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: £6.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let Zygons Be Zygons, 14 Jun. 2015
This is the story where Sarah Jane Smith said to Rose Tyler she saw the Loch Ness Monster!

'Terror of the Zygons' is a rollicking and iconic adventure from the Tom Baker era of 'Doctor Who'. It's set in the Highlands of Scotland (although it was really filmed in Sussex. Typical); features a brand-new set of monsters called Zygons and provides a take on the Loch Ness Monster legend.

This DVD is a 2-disc set, with Disc 1 containing the story and Disc 2 containing special features.

This four-part story by Robert Banks Stewart is the first of Tom Baker's second season as the Doctor. It's a gripping; action-packed and gothic earthbound tale from the Phillip Hinchliffe/Robert Holmes era with U.N.I.T., the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry solving a mystery in the Scottish Highlands.

Several North Sea oil rigs are mysteriously destroyed, as a deadly threat lurks in the mists of Tulloch Moor. Investigating this mystery, the Doctor with Sarah Jane; Harry and U.N.I.T. discover the Loch Ness Monster that is controlled by the shape-shifting Zygons who attempt to conquer the Earth.

Having the story set in Scotland is a true delight for me. I've been holiday with my parents to Scotland many times, and we've actually visited Loch Ness itself close to Inverness. We didn't see any monster rising out from the waters of the loch, but one day it may come out. One day perhaps.

The Scottish atmosphere of this story is really delightful. Hearing bagpipe music and feeling the Scottish mists make me think and feeling of being on holiday in the Highlands and wanting to go back there again. Although I'm more in favour of 'Monarch Of The Glen' country, but there you are.

I didn't realise that the location filming for Scotland was in Sussex and not the actual Highlands which disappointed me really. There are no huge mountains in the background to support the Highlands setting, and I should know since I've seen and walked up plenty of those mountains.

'Doctor Who' has had its connections with Scotland already one of the Doctor's companions Jamie is a Highlander and the Doctor met Jamie in 'The Highlanders'. I've personally written my own Scotland 'Doctor Who' story already, although it was a mishmash of everything Scotland in it (I say no more).

The concept of the Loch Ness Monster has been around since before I was born. The Loch Ness Monster was the starting point for this story and I really like how the producer; the writer and the director have portrayed this legend. It's quite clever to have it actually controlled by a race of aliens.

This story is well-directed by Douglas Camfield, who also directed stories including 'The Invasion' and 'Inferno'. Douglas Camfield's action-packed direction shines throughout and he utilises the army scenes with U.N.I.T. really well and effectively. There isn't a moment that is boring in his stories.

The regular cast are superb in this story. I really like Tom Baker's Doctor in his Scotland get-up at the beginning of the story (but wearing no kilt). I found it funny that Harry was wearing Tom Baker's scarf and Sarah Jane wearing Tom Baker's hat when all three were walking on the Scottish moors.

Tom Baker really comes into his own as the Doctor by this point in his second season. He tolerates U.N.I.T. and the Brigadier that he used to work for, but is willing to help solve a crisis. I like Tom's eccentric manner and his big grin when he discovers the Zygons and their plan to conquer the Earth.

Elisabeth Sladen is lovely as Sarah Jane Smith. She's good at investigating the Tulloch Moor mystery and finds the secret passage-way at Forgill Castle. I like it when Sarah Jane rescues Harry from the Zygon ship and when the Doctor puts her to sleep when trapped in a decompression chamber.

Ian Marter is very good as Harry Sullivan. Harry is compassionate and brave in this story, though has a rough time of it when getting shot in the head and bandaged. Ian delivers a really chilling performance when playing Harry's double and attacking Sarah Jane with a pitchfork in a farm barn.

Nicholas Courtney returns as the Brigadier. I enjoyed watching the Brigadier in this one, as he summons the Doctor back to solve this mystery within the Scottish Highlands. I like how he's less sceptical about alien invasion by this point and seems to work well with Tom Baker's Doctor here.

John Levene also returns as Benton (now Regimental-Sergeant Major). With Mike Yates gone, Benton is given more to do being the Brigadier's second-in-command. I enjoyed watching Benton's scenes in action chasing Zygons and when he and his men are looking for 'bugs' at the Fox Inn.

The guest cast includes John Woodnutt as the Duke of Forgill and Broton the Zygon Commander. I know John from 'Jeeves and Wooster' and he's done quite a number of 'Doctor Who' stories. Here he's playing three characters. The Duke himself; Broton disguised as the Duke and just Broton.

There are two other Zygons disguised as humans include Lillias Walker as Sister Lamont and Robert Russell as the Caber (the Duke's ghillie). Sister Lamont is pretty terrifying when she's a Zygon disguised as a human. That Episode 1 cliff-hanger when the Zygon attacks Sarah Jane is terrifying.

There's also Angus Lennie as Angus, the landlord of the Fox Inn. Angus has been in 'Doctor Who' before in 'The Ice Warriors' and would later appear in 'Monarch of the Glen'. I enjoyed Angus' appearance as the landlord in the story. Shame he died so tragically when being killed by a Zygon.

The Zygons are pretty terrifying monsters to watch. They're ugly-looking and have the ability to shape-shift into any person they want including Harry. They have these whispery; harsh voices when they speak. The design of the Zygon make-up and costumes are pretty impressive in this story.

The Zygons' space-ship interior looks pretty impressive and disturbing. It's organic state and design makes it authentic and gothic. The way the Zygons use those control knobs on the consoles of their ship looks somewhat amusing and Tom Baker described them as 'huge American pizzas' strangely.

The exterior of the Zygon ship looks pretty impressive especially when it rises up from out of Loch Ness and makes it in the direction of London at the end of `Episode Three'. Also the destruction of the Zygon ship looks spectacular as the Doctor asks, "Was that bang big enough for you, Brigadier?"

The Loch Ness Monster is okay but not great. They used stop-motion animation to create the monster effect. There wasn't enough time to fulfil what was necessary to make this monster work. I wish the production team were given more time to make the Loch Ness Monster more convincing.

The music by Geoffrey Burgon is pretty good. It's not like the Dudley Simpson scores that usually go with 70s `Doctor Who' and it's quite eerie yet beautiful to listen to. I've heard Geoffrey's style of music-making before when he composed music for the BBC versions of 'The Chronicles of Narnia'.

This story features the last appearance of Harry Sullivan as a regular companion to the Doctor. I was sad that Harry left the way he did as he stayed behind on Earth. I wish more was developed with Harry as a character, as he could have been a great companion with the Doctor and Sarah Jane.

This story also features the last regular appearance of the Brigadier. It would be a while before the Brigadier returns to 'Doctor Who' again, but there have been U.N.I.T. stories without the Brigadier in them. I like Nick Courtney as the Brigadier and thought he was pretty good in this adventure.

The U.N.I.T. stories were phasing out by this point, especially as Tom Baker's Doctor was no longer the exile and was having free movement in having adventure in time and space. Many would miss the U.N.I.T. stories, but the Doctor was having adventures again with Sarah Jane in time and space.

The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there's an 'Episode 1 - Director's Cut' option and there are audio options including a Mono Audio and a 5.1. Audio.

There's a commentary with producer Phillip Hinchcliffe; writer Robert Banks Stewart; production unit manager George Gallacio; make-up designer Sylvia James and sounds designer Dick Mills; moderated by Mark Ayres. There's an isolated score option and an info-text commentary option.

On Disc 2, there's a making-of documentary called 'Scottish Mist in Sussex' with cast and crew interviews; the 'Remembering Douglas Camfield' documentary and 'The U.N.I.T. Family - Part Three' documentary looking at latter U.N.I.T. stories with Jon Pertwee; Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy.

There's also the 'Doctor Who Stories - Tom Baker' interview and the 'Doctor Who Stories - Elisabeth Sladen' interview. There's 'Merry-Go Round: The Fuel Fishers' with Elisabeth Sladen; a 'South Today' interview with Tom Baker; a photo gallery; a Radio Times Billings PDF and two exciting Easter Eggs.

There's also a 'coming soon' trailer for 'The Moonbase' DVD with Patrick Troughton.

'Terror of the Zygon' is a great `Doctor Who' story to watch. I enjoyed watching it with the Doctor, Sarah Jane, Harry and U.N.I.T. It features the first appearance of the Zygons who would return to `Doctor Who' in books, Big Finish audios and the 50th anniversary special - 'The Day of the Doctor'.

The next story for the Doctor and Sarah Jane is 'Planet of Evil'.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2015 2:57 PM BST

House of Blue Fire (Doctor Who)
House of Blue Fire (Doctor Who)
by Mark Morris
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fear Factor At Blue Fire House, 14 Jun. 2015
"Fear itself is largely an illusion", The First Doctor, 'The Five Doctors'.

Welcome to Blue Fire House! 'House of Blue Fire' is another exciting solo adventure with Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor. I enjoyed listening to this audio drama. It's a story of two halves as it has a twist, starting off as a spooky gothic haunted house story into something completely.

This is a four-part adventure by Mark Morris. Mark has written for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa in 'Plague of the Daleks' and 'Moonflesh'. Mark delivers a creepy story that mainly focuses on four young people experiencing their fears and the Doctor helping them to fight against them.

The story starts with a young woman arriving at Blue Fire House, welcomed by the butler. She has no idea how she got here and can't remember her name. She soon meets three more young people who are in the same position as her. They then meet the Doctor who is the master of the house.

I like how this story plays on the sense of mystery as to what's going on and making it spooky and creepy throughout. The Doctor doesn't appear in the story until the end of 'Part One'. When he does turn up, he knows what's going on and has come to rescue the four people from their worst fears.

The four young people are nameless at first and are referred to as their room numbers at Blue Fire House. Their names are soon revealed by the second half of the story when things become clear.

There's Amy Pemberton as Sally Morgan (No. 18); Miranda Keeling as Rachel McMahon (No. 5); Howard Gossington as Toby Dodds (No. 12) and Ray Emmet Brown as Jerome Fisher (No. 16). Each of these four people has certain phobias and they get to experience them in this audio play.

Rachel (No. 5) suffers from aquaphobia (the fear of water). Toby (No. 12) suffers from catoptrophobia (the fear of mirrors). Jerome (No. 16) suffers from blattodephobia (the fear of cockroaches). And Sally (No. 18) suffers from arthazagoraphobia (the fear of being forgotten).

I like how the Doctor in this story helps the four young people to face and overcome their fears in order to survive. Each of the four characters experience their fears in unique ways whilst at Blue Fire House and it is pretty terrifying to listen to when someone's drowning or cockroaches come out.

Sylvester McCoy delivers a superb performance as the Doctor in this adventure. I really like how Sylvester's Doctor is in the know already, but he's determined to save these people. The Doctor also gets to face his fears as he comes up against an enemy that haunts him from his childhood days.

This story has special guest star Timothy West as Soames. I've seen Mr West in a number of classic dramas including 'Bleak House' and Prunella Scales' husband. Mr West delivers a superb performance as Soames, the butler at Blue Fire House, who has a twist to his character later on.

The lovely Amy Pemberton makes her first appearance as Sally Morgan (No. 18) in 'Doctor Who'. I love Amy's performance as Sally. Sally is a nice person who's quite plucky and willing to listen to the Doctor. She may end up being the Doctor's companion, as she's very reliable and resourceful here.

Miranda Keeling is very good as Rachel (No. 5). Rachel is a no-nonsense woman who's very brash, confident, tough and quite aggressive at times. She gets impatient when demanding to know what's going on, despite the Doctor being hospitable when they're all having dinner at Blue Fire House.

Howard Gossington is equally good as Toby (No. 12). Toby seems to think of himself as a charmer and eye-catching for the ladies. He thinks highly of himself and is a bit of a prat. He gets on Rachel's nerves when he tries to chat to her. Both face the same perils together when they go outside.

Ray Emmet Brown is also good as Jerome (No. 16). Jerome comes across as rather nervous and out of his comfort zone. But Jerome is willing to stay in Blue Fire House like Sally does when Toby and Rachel go outside. Jerome is easily scared out of his wits when he sees cockroaches coming out.

The enemy in this story is the Mi'en Kalarash. It is an ancient myth from Gallifrey, translated into English as 'blue fire'. The Kalarash is the Doctor's worst nightmare as it preys on the worst fears of everybody in this story. It takes on the form of a woman called Eve Pritchard (played by Lizzy Watts).

As I said before, I like how this story shifts from a spooky story into a sci-fi twist when the Doctor wakes up at the end of 'Part Two'. In 'Part Four', there's an 'Avatar'-style of story featured which I must admit was pretty mind-boggling to listen to. But it was interesting and fascinating nonetheless.

The story ends with the Doctor managing to defeat the Kalarash and bustles everyone into the TARDIS. The Doctor seems to like Sally Morgan and compliments her. Sally hopes to get a promotion, but the Doctor suggests she goes AWOL. Does this mean she's going to be a new companion?

'House of Blue Fire' is a great audio story that I've enjoyed. It's pretty spooky throughout, with lots of twists in the story. I enjoyed the performances of Sylvester McCoy; Timothy West and Amy Pemberton in this one. Who knows what's going to happen next when the Doctor comes back?

This is the third of Seventh Doctor trilogy (the previous two were 'Robophobia' and 'The Doomsday Quatrain'). Throughout this trilogy, the TARDIS' exterior has been black. There's still no explanation for why it's black. I hope I'll find out more about this soon as I go on listening to these stories.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there is a suite of incidental music. At the end of Disc 2, there is a trailer for 'The Silver Turk' with Paul McGann. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew including Sylvester McCoy; Timothy West; Amy Pemberton, etc.

I like it in the behind-the-scenes interviews that Sylvester McCoy mentions about his work on 'The Hobbit' films in New Zealand. It was interesting hearing him talk about auditioning for Bilbo Baggins in 'The Lord of the Rings' and talking about working with Ian McKellen in 'King Lear.'

The next story for the Doctor is 'Project: Nirvana'.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2015 8:46 AM BST

The Doomsday Quatrain (Doctor Who)
The Doomsday Quatrain (Doctor Who)
by Emma Beeby
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nostradamus Meets The Doctor, 14 Jun. 2015
The end of the world is nigh!

'The Doomsday Quatrain' is another enjoyable solo adventure with Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor. I had this CD as part of my first Big Finish subscription with 'House of Blue Fire' in 2011. I had my package in the post when I got back home from a holiday in York before going to a convention.

This story takes place directly after 'Robophobia' in this solo Seventh Doctor trilogy. It's still unclear where these stories occur in the Seventh Doctor's timeline, whether they occur before; during or after Ace and Hex. Also there's the on-going mystery of the Doctor's TARDIS being black, not blue.

This is a four-part adventure by Emma Beeby and Gordon Rennie. This writing team have written adventures for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa including '1001 Nights' and 'Tomb Ship'. I like 'Doctor Who' stories with a mixture of historical and sci-fi elements in the mix, which is what this play does.

The story has the Doctor trying to reach the planet Celdor. But he ends up in 16th century Florence. Frustrated, the Doctor decides to make the best of it and explore. He then meets the soothsayer Nostradamus who announces the world is going to end. And it does. The Doctor becomes puzzled.

I must admit, I didn't know anything about Nostradamus. But then I didn't study the Renaissance period of Earth history in school. It was quite strange listening to a story about a historical figure I knew nothing about. But that's the beauty of 'Doctor Who'. You learn something new every day.

I was fascinated by how this story developed from starting off as a historical adventure with the Doctor exploring and meeting Nostradamus. It soon turns into an alien invasion where the end of the world is predicted. I was struck by the story's twist as Renaissance Florence isn't as it appears.

In the story, there are blue-skinned aliens called the Poldagon conducting research on the Renaissance period of Florence, Earth. A dirty deal is also struck with the alien crocodile-like Kro who want to invade Florence. These plot elements develop as the Doctor suspects all is not as it seems.

Sylvester McCoy is brilliant as the Doctor in this adventure. I enjoyed that first scene he has in the TARDIS when he's frustrated about not arriving on Celdor and have an argument with the old girl. The Doctor clearly suspects Nostradamus' prophecy of doom coming true and gets into the action.

I like Sylvester's Doctor using his sonic screwdriver frequently in this story. This story weaves its way towards the 'TV Movie' where he has his screwdriver back. I also like it when the Doctor uncovers Lady Garilund's human holo-disguise, revealing her to be blue-skinned and shocking Nostradamus.

The story's special guest star is David Schofield as Nostradamus. David delivers an amazing performance as Nostradamus. Due to my lack of knowledge, I found I was learning more about this person in the story and David helped that along with an astounding interpretation of Nostradamus.

Nostradamus (also known as Michel de Nostradame) was a claimed seer and soothsayer back in 16th century Florence. He made prophecies and predictions about the future. Some of them were misplaced and untrue, but some were intrigued by his prophecies about future world events.

Here in this story, Nostradamus right from the start predicts the end of the world with crocodile monsters invading and the world burning. When the Doctor discovers this actually happening in Florence, he can't believe the history books were incorrect as this didn't happen. Or did it?

The guest cast also includes Caroline Keiff as Lady Garilund. Garilund is a keen researcher of the Poldagon race. She's an eager, conscientious and driven person. She questions the work of her boss Brors and is keen to talk to Nostradamus on his prophecies of dooms as they may turn out true.

There's also John Banks as Brors, the dodgy senior scientist of the Poldagons. There's Derek Carlyle as Kren, a junior scientist working for Brors and is secretly in love with Garilund. And there's Nicholas Chambers as Larrett, another research scientist working for Brors who's ambitious and a crawler.

The monsters in this are the crocodile Kro. These are brutal and aggressive aliens who kill without a second thought. I like the voices by the actors playing these monsters, sounding pretty ferocious. They're led by the Conclave Leader who barks orders, carried out by the First and Second Nuncios.

At the end of the story, the Doctor is given a piece of paper by Lady Garilund containing a prophecy by Nostradamus. He reads the paper, but we as listeners don't know what that prophecy. What could this be that the Doctor's heading off to. Will we ever find out? We'll have to wait and see.

'The Doomsday Quatrain' is a delightfully, enjoyable audio adventure with the Seventh Doctor. It's opened my eyes to a period of history I've not studied and introduced me to Nostradamus. I enjoyed the performances of Sylvester McCoy and David Scholfield and wondered what would happen next.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there are two tracks of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew. These include Sylvester McCoy; David Schofield; Caroline Keiff and director Ken Bentley.

There's a trailer for the next story with the Doctor called 'House of Blue Fire'.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2015 3:01 PM BST

Robophobia (Doctor Who)
Robophobia (Doctor Who)
by Nicholas Briggs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Human of Death, 14 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Robophobia (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
This time it's not the robots who are the killers! It's one human!

'Robophobia' is a fantastic sequel to 'The Robots of Death'. I enjoyed this solo adventure with the Seventh Doctor meeting those robots from that TV story. It's full of nostalgic references and contains a twist in the traditional plot elements that we are familiar with as `Doctor Who fans from that story.

'The Robots of Death' is one of my favourite stories from the Tom Baker era. I loved the whodunit murder mystery element and the exploration of robotics. There have been a number of sequels including 'Corpse Marker'; but this Big Finish's first venture into 'The Robots of Death' territory.

This is a four-part story written and directed by Nicholas Briggs. I really like how Nick Briggs approaches this sequel to 'The Robots of Death' from a unique angle. The story is set a couple of months after the harrowing events of that story and presents the robots as not the killers we expect.

The Doctor arrives on a spaceship called the Lorelei, a transport ship taking over a hundred thousand robots to Kaldor City. But a murder takes place aboard the ship, which the Doctor witnesses. With the help of the Lorelei crew, the Doctor hopes to uncover the true culprit in these murders.

The story is interesting as it depicts events from the Lorelei crew's point of view rather than the Doctor. This is their story, as they try to understand what's going on and listen to the Doctor what's happening. It's makes for pretty tense drama and reintroduces the whodunit element brilliantly.

This story also reinforces the 'Robophobia' or 'Grimwade's Syndrome' introduced in the original TV story. I like the nods and references to that story as to what with the robots killing the crew of the sandminer and people reacting with fear when hearing about these events that were covered up.

Sylvester McCoy delivers a superb performance as the Doctor in this adventure. The Doctor is travelling alone here, which made me wonder where this story takes place in his personal timeline. Does it take place after his adventures with Ace and Hex, or during that time? I didn't know yet.

The Doctor is an observer in this story. He witnesses the murder of Tal Karus (Matt Addis) and gets involved in the action when warning and telling the crew what's happening with the robots. He forms a nice connection with Liv Chenka, who he confides in giving important information to her.

This story features the first appearance of Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka. Liv is a med-tech (physician) aboard the Lorelei. Liv met Tal Karus briefly as he showed an interest in her. Liv is distressed about his murder, but comes across a strong character, acting as the Doctor's one-time companion here.

Most of the supporting cast in this audio drama I know pretty well from other 'Doctor Who' roles and have met at conventions. These include Toby Hadoke; Dan Starkey and Nicholas Pegg. It was a thrill to listen to these guys in this audio, knowing I've met them and had pleasure chatting to them.

Toby Hadoke plays Farel, the security chief aboard the Lorelei. Toby is well-known for his 'Doctor Who' stand-up show 'Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf'. I like the character he plays Farel, who is easily frazzled by what goes on in this story. I was surprised by the twist in his character at the end.

Dan Starkey plays Carvnet, the deputy security chief aboard the Lorelei. Dan is well-known for playing the Sontarans, both in the Big Finish audios and the TV series. I found Carvnet amusing as he does his job well, but people forget him easily and annoys people when reporting information.

Nicholas Pegg plays Selerat, the commanding officer aboard the Lorelei. Nick Pegg is currently one of the Dalek operators in the new TV series. Selerat is like the Uvanov character from 'The Robots of Death' who is an easily frustrated commander and wants to deliver the robots to Kaldor City ASAP.

And let's not forget those elegant robots in this story. They sound so polite and creepy as they were in 'The Robots of Death'. I can easily visualise them in this audio serving humanity. The voices for these robots include Matt Addis, Nick Briggs, John Dorney, Toby Hadoke and Dan Starkey.

I like how it turns out that the robots aren't doing the killings but it's one of the humans. But which one of the humans is it? Can you guess? It's someone who suffers from Robophobia.

Here's another question. It turns out that the Doctor's TARDIS' exterior is now black. Black! Not the blue police box we know and love. This got me puzzled. Why is the TARDIS now black? One time it was white from 'The Angel of Scutari' to 'Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge'. Is there a connection?

I've enjoyed 'Robophobia' very much. It's a brilliant audio sequel to 'The Robots of Death' by Nick Briggs. The cast are superb from Sylvester McCoy; Nicola Walker; Toby Hadoke; Dan Starkey and Nicholas Pegg. This story easily captivated me into the murder-solving atmosphere of the TV story.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there is a suite of incidental music. At the end of Disc 2, there is a trailer for `Recorded Time and Other Stories' with Colin Baker and Nicola Byrant. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew and an additional track of music.

The next story for the Doctor is 'The Doomsday Quatrain'.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2015 2:59 PM BST

Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge (Doctor Who)
Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge (Doctor Who)
by Marty Ross
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alaska with the Doctor, Ace and Hex, 12 Jun. 2015
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Wrap yourself wrap! It's going to get cold from now on.

'Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge' is another adventure starring Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor; Sophie Aldred as Ace and Phillip Oliver as Hex. It's an eerie and disturbing four-part story by Marty Ross, based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft and is set within the citadel of an Alaskan island in 1934.

The story has the Doctor, Ace and Hex arriving off the coast of Alaska to discover this long-forgotten island with a citadel. They venture forth to find an expedition led by a ruthless man and a horror writer with a secret that he doesn't know about. Can they discover what's going on and survive?

I can't help but admit I'm rather disappointed with this audio drama. It's not because the story's bad. The story is quite interesting. But I feel 'Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge' doesn't match up to the brilliance of the two latest stories with the Doctor, Ace and Hex that I enjoyed compared to this one.

Also I felt that I lost my way when listening to this story. It's starts pretty well at the beginning with 'Part One' and ends well with 'Part Four'. But with 'Parts Two and Three', I couldn't help with feeling muddled about some characters; what was going on and where everything is in the story.

I've never heard of Lovecraft and the sci-fi/horror works he did before listening to this play. I found some of the literary references interesting, but I still couldn't help but feel slightly detached as to what was going on. I'll have to listen to the story again to get a firm grasp of what happened.

I did like some of the character performances by the actors featured in this play, especially with the regulars who connected to some of the supporting cast. Homing in on the eerie and surreal aspects of the characters got me intrigued and got me disturbed as I expect the writer meant to here.

I was surprised yet pleased that Hex was still travelling with the Doctor and Ace, despite what happened in 'Project: Destiny' and 'A Death in the Family'. Here we see what the TARDIS team are usually best at in having adventures in time and space and seemed to be well-settled by this point.

Hex gets separated from the Doctor and Ace in this one. I wondered how this TARDIS trio would be reunited again and whether they would survive all the dangers. The Doctor and Ace get to meet the Lovecraftian horror-comics author, whilst Hex is on his own in mortal danger with other characters.

Sylvester McCoy delivers as ever a great performance as the Doctor. I do feel that the Doctor isn't so manipulative as he tends to be and gets into trouble easily with being locked up. I like the behind-the-scenes story that Sylvester has been to Alaska already before recording to this play.

Sophie Aldred is delightful as Ace. I like it that Ace gets to have her own adventure in this one. Here we see a side of Ace rarely seen, as she gets to display a gentler and caring side when connecting to D.C. Doveday. I really like this side to Ace compared to her usual, gun-ho manner in other stories.

Phillip Olivier is equally good as Hex here. He also has his own adventure and gets to display his nurse caring skills again. Hex is upset when Whytecrag seemingly kills the Doctor and Ace when separated from them. I like the bond he forms with Professor Corbin and gets to defy Whytecrag.

The guest cast includes Michael Brandon as C.P. Doveday. Michael has been in the TV series of `Doctor Who' in the episode `The Stolen Earth'.* Doveday writes the 'Shuddersome' Tales' stories. I like Michael's performance from slightly innocent to increasingly disturbed, when aroused.

Stuart Milligan appears as Emerson Whytecrag. Stuart has appeared in the TV series as Richard Nixon in the two-part story 'The Impossible Astronaut'/'Day of the Moon'. Whytecrag is a pretty menacing character, leading an expedition and attempts to kill the Doctor and Ace with a grenade.

The cast also includes Kate Terence as Dr Freya Gabriel, who has hypnotised C.P. Doveday and Alex Lowe as Professor August Corbin, who is part of Whytecrag's expedition. There's also Sam Clemens as Slade, working for Whytecrag and Duncan Wisbey as Captain Akins, working for Dr Gabriel.

The lurkers are the alien Karnas'koi, described as vast and wing-like. They sound scary on audio and certainly from the images of clawing hands on the CD sleeve notes. It turns out that Doveday is one of these Karnas'koi, but he doesn't know it as he's been hypnotised by Gabriel to avoid knowing.

The story ends with the Doctor, Ace and Hex escaping the citadel on the Alaskan island. But Doveday has been left behind. They return to the TARDIS, as Hex cleans himself up whilst Ace is sad and solemn. The Doctor reassures Ace about Doveday and it's a sweet and gentle way to end the story.

'Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge' hasn't been an overly satisfying audio to listen to. It's not the best story I've heard, but it's far from worse. I've enjoyed listening to the Doctor, Ace and Hex as the TARDIS trio they've become. I'm wondering what will happen to them and where they will go next.

Just to mention, the TARDIS' exterior has been white since 'The Angel of Scutari'. I'm still wondering why it's white and why it hasn't reverted back to being a blue police box yet. I'll have to find out more when I listen to the next set of stories featuring the Seventh Doctor. I can't wait.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there's a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there's a trailer for 'The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories' with Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew.

The next story for the Doctor is 'Robophobia'.

*Thanks to Timelord007 for mentioning Michael Brandon's appearance in `The Stolen Earth'.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2015 12:30 PM BST

Dr Who: A Death in the Family
Dr Who: A Death in the Family
by Steven Hall
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nobody No-One Returns and the Doctor Dies!, 10 Jun. 2015
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This is a terrifyingly good audio drama with the Doctor, Ace and Hex!

'A Death in the Family' is a pretty strong character-driven story of the Seventh Doctor era. I enjoyed listening to this one. It's pretty complicated to listen to and you do have to keep alert, but I enjoyed the character journeys of Ace and Hex in this one as they come to terms with the Doctor being dead.

This is a four-part story by Steven Hall, and is a sequel to his one-episode story 'The Word Lord' (from 'Forty-Five'). It features the return of Nobody No-One, the Word Lord (now played by Ian Reddington) and guest stars Maggie Stables as Evelyn, former companion of the Sixth Doctor.

The story follows on directly from the end of 'Project: Destiny'. Hex has fallen out with the Doctor after learning the truth about his mother in connection to the Forge. The Doctor and Ace also learn that a sarcophagus containing a Time Lord is kept within the Forge and they go off to investigate.

When they find this sarcophagus, the Doctor and Ace discover who's inside. It's the Doctor. And he's dead. It's a matter of time before the Doctor and Ace realise that Nobody No-One, the Word Lord has returned to cause havoc. Stopping Nobody No-One; means the death of someone in the family.

I really like how Steven Hall constructs his four-part tale. Some of it is complex to listen to, but each of the four episodes stand on their own as they each have different stories to tell to connect as one.

The first episode has Hex coming to terms with the fact the Doctor lied to him for not telling him about his mother. Hex soon comes across someone who turns out to be Nobody No-One, who's changed his appearance and manically is about to cause havoc starting off with killing the Doctor.

Ian Reddington delivers a chilling performance as Nobody No-One. Ian appeared in 'Doctor Who' before on TV with the Doctor and Ace in 'The Greatest Show in the Galaxy' and is well-known in 'Coronation Street'. Ian nails the villainous character of Nobody superbly with manic precision.

Nobody No-One is someone from another dimension that exists through words. When somebody says "nobody has the power to do that", Nobody is given that power and uses it to hurt people with chilling glee. See how many times I've said 'nobody' in this review. Oh dear. I'm in trouble now!

The first episode ends with a shocking cliff-hanger. The Doctor manages to defeat Nobody No-One with his super technology. But as a result, it costs him his life and he ends up dead. This was a shock to listen to when Hex told Ace that the Doctor was dead. And I say he's dead, he really is dead!

But by the second episode, an older Seventh Doctor appears to Ace and Hex and takes them away to live in different places and times to have their own lives. This gives Ace and Hex the chance to have their own episodes with Hex having 'Part Two' to himself and Ace having 'Part Three' to herself.

Phillip Oliver as Hex is brilliant. I really like how Hex is developed in this story, as he gets to have a life on another world called Pelachan. Hex comes to terms with the fact the Doctor's dead, as he's welcomed and looked after by Evelyn and starts to fall in love with Ayl-San (Alison Thea-Skot).

This story guest stars Maggie Stables as Evelyn Rossiter (nee Smythe), who was a companion to the Sixth Doctor. It was nice to have Evelyn feature in this story. This is set after Evelyn ended her travels with the Doctor, as she's now a widow and lives her life on Pelachan with Aly-San as her ward.

I really like the scenes where Hex and Evelyn meet and get to know each other. Evelyn is linked to Hex since she knows his mother Cassie from 'Project: Twilight' and 'Project: Lazarus'. Evelyn is able to tell Hex what happened to her mother when she and the Doctor met her all those years ago.

The third episode has Ace ending up back in Shoreditch, London in the 21st century. Sophie Aldred is lovely as Ace. Unlike Hex, Ace is not willing to give up and can't accept the fact the Doctor's dead for good. I like the life Ace tries to make for herself as she tries to find a way to bring the Doctor back.

Ace falls in love with Henry Noone (John Dorney) who she meets at the Rabbit pub. Henry becomes an important person in Ace's life as he inadvertently helps her to find a way to bring back the Doctor. This is where Ace gets to be really clever and proactive compared to her usual gun-ho self.

In the end, the Doctor is brought back to life. Sylvester McCoy delivers a super performance as the Doctor. He's pretty absent for most of the story, since he had died fighting Nobody No-One. But even in death, the Doctor is still cunning with his companions helping him and he cheats his end.

I like the last scenes where the Doctor meets Evelyn. Evelyn clearly misses her Sixth Doctor, but she's glad to meet this Seventh Doctor who she knows already. The scenes where they have a cup of tea; talk old times and forgive each other over harsh words are really touching and moving to listen to.

Then Nobody No-One appears and becomes terrifying when the Doctor and Evelyn confront him. Nobody threatens to kill everyone and gets to do it, believing that he has. The Doctor and Evelyn however manage to outwit Nobody. But in killing Nobody, Evelyn dies too which is heart-breaking.

It's sad that Evelyn dies in this story. But Evelyn has lived a good life and has had many adventures in 'Doctor Who'. It's even sad that Maggie Stables is no longer with us as I would have liked to meet her and talk to her about Evelyn. The story ends on a note of memorial and in tribute to Evelyn.

'A Death in the Family' is a really good audio drama with the Doctor, Ace and Hex facing Nobody No-One and featuring Evelyn. This is a great character-driven story throughout. I wonder where the Doctor, Ace and Hex go next, as the story still continues for them in their travels in time and space.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there is a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there is a behind-the-scenes interview with writer Steven Hall, conducted by John Dorney. I'm surprised there weren't any interviews with Sylvester, Sophie and Phillip on this story.

There's a trailer for the next story with the Doctor, Ace and Hex called 'Lurkers At Sunlight's Edge'.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2015 6:50 PM BST

Project: Destiny (Doctor Who)
Project: Destiny (Doctor Who)
by Cavan Scott
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forge File - Thomas Hector Schofield, 9 Jun. 2015
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Hex discovers the truth about his mother!

At the end of 'The Angel of Scutari', Hex gets shot and wounded. The Doctor and Ace take Hex with them into the TARDIS and make for St Gart's Hospital in the 21st century. Fortunately the Doctor saves Hex from his wound. Hex recovers as this adventure sheds new light on his character.

'Project: Destiny' is an exciting and thrilling 'Doctor Who' audio adventure that I've enjoyed with the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex. It is also the third story of an arc featuring the Forge and Nimrod and becomes a turning point for this particular TARDIS team as secrets and family truths are revealed.

This is a four-part story by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, who originated these Forge stories. The Forge and Nimrod first appeared in the stories 'Project: Twilight' and 'Project: Lazarus'. I enjoyed listening to those two stories and wondered how this third story would build on this story arc.

It starts with the Doctor and Ace returning a wounded Hex back to St. Gart's Hospital in the year 2026. St. Gart's Hospital is where the Doctor and Ace first met Hex in 'The Harvest', where they fought against the Cybermen. There are some nice references from that story in this one.

Whilst trying to save Hex, the Doctor and Ace find that Shoreditch, London is deserted and wonder why. They soon find the place is quarantined by soldiers working for the Forge and soon meet up with Nimrod. They sort out a menace in London and the Doctor struggles to keep a secret from Hex.

The Forge stories are interconnected and affect Hex's relationship with the Doctor. I really like how this story develops Hex's character and reveals his family origins. Hex knows about the Forge already as they encountered them (sort of) in the one-episode story 'Casualties of War' (from 'Forty-Five').

Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor is brilliant here. I like how Sylvester's Doctor desperately saves Hex's life and is clearly fond of him. I like the Doctor's scenes with Nimrod and how he struggles to keep secrets from Hex. He's afraid of Hex knowing about his mother in the most terrible of ways.

Just to be clear. The events of 'Project: Destiny' take place before the Seventh Doctor half of 'Project: Lazarus'. Therefore the events in Dartmoor where the Seventh Doctor are involved haven't happened, yet for the Forge and Nimrod they've already taken place. Wibbley-wobbly; timey-wimey.

Sophie Aldred is ace as Ace here! She's not central to this story, but she has some really good sense in dealing with the alien menace attacking London and working with Forge members like Captain Aristedes. Ace clearly doesn't like the Forge's methods and objects to their ruthlessness.

Phillip Olivier as Hex is the star of the story for me. Phillip delivers a brilliant performance as Hex, bringing across so many layers to his character from being happy to sad; from being funny to angry. It's pretty tense when Hex discovers from Nimrod that the Doctor knows his mother long ago.

The story features the first appearance of Maggie O'Neil as Captain Lysandra Aristedes. Lysandra is a Forge member and clearly a no-nonsense woman. She clearly hates the Doctor, blaming him for the deaths of so many people in 'Project: Lazarus' and there is friction between her and Ace.

Stephen Chance returns as Nimrod, who disguises himself as Sir William Abberton, now in charge of the Forge. Stephen delivers a brilliantly chilling performance as Nimrod, who delights in cruelly tormenting the Doctor and tormenting Hex when revealing the true nature of his mother.

The rest of the cast includes Phillip Dinsdale as Sergeant Jarrod and Ingrid Oliver (who is known now as Osgord in the TV series) as Helen and the Oracle computer of the Forge.

It turns out that Hex's mum was Cassie, who appeared in the two previous Forge stories. Cassie became a vampire and was horribly killed by Nimrod in before the Doctor's eyes. Hex's real name is Thomas Hector Schofield. Cassie's surname is also Schofield and she called her son 'little Tommy'.

The Doctor knew Hex was Cassie's son all this time. He discovered it when browsing personnel records at St. Gart's Hospital in 'The Harvest'. The Doctor wanted Hex to join him in his TARDIS travels, knowing who his mother is. But Hex sadly doesn't see and believes the Doctor lied to him

In the end, Nimrod is defeated and it's all over. But for Hex, he declares it's over between him and the Doctor. He can't bear with knowing about his mother in that way with the Doctor lying to him and he runs off. Ace calls out to him to come back. But the Doctor knows Hex needs time to recover.

I wondered what would happen next to Hex, as it seemed like that was the end of his time in 'Doctor Who'. But it obviously can't be the end, as Hex is bound to return to `Doctor Who' in the next story. Will Hex forgive the Doctor, I wonder? Who knows? There's only one way to find out.

'Project: Destiny' has been a fantastic, enjoyable story resolving the Forge arc and revealing the family origins of Hex. It's a gripping story with fantastic performances from Sylvester McCoy; Sophie Aldred and Phillip Oliver. I was keep to find out what happened next for this TARDIS team.

The story ends with the Doctor and Ace saying goodbye to Lsyandra in the TARDIS before she notices the seal of Rassilon hanging above the ceiling. Apparently the seal is on a sarcophagus kept within the Forge archives. The Doctor is intrigued and he and Ace set off to find this sarcophagus.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there is a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew including Sylvester McCoy; Sophie Aldred; Phillip Olivier; director Ken Bentley; writers Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, etc.

There's a trailer for the next story with the Doctor, Ace and Hex called 'A Death in the Family'.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2015 10:48 PM BST

Doctor Who: Festival of Death: 50th Anniversary Edition
Doctor Who: Festival of Death: 50th Anniversary Edition
by Jonathan Morris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timey-Wimey Adventure with the Doctor, Romana and K-9, 8 Jun. 2015
I love 'Festival of Death'!

This has been a fantastic and pleasurable novel to read. I enjoyed reading this book from beginning to end. You'll have no problem reading this book that's full of delicious humour and storytelling.

This book is by Jonathan Morris, a brilliant writer who had written lots of 'Doctor Who' stories for Big Finish. This was Jonny's first contribution to 'Doctor Who' when the book was published in 2000.

'Festival of Death' has been reprinted for the 50th anniversary collection of novels with the eleven Doctors in 2013. I can see why this book was chosen to represent the Fourth Doctor, as it's full of `bonkers' humour and contains a pretty clever timey-wimey story that Jonny does so well.

The Doctor and Romana visit the G-Lock, a space-station in a hyperspace tunnel that contains the ultimate theme-park ride called 'The Beautiful Death'. The Doctor and Romana arrive in the aftermath of a disaster and find that they've been hailed as heroes and people know them already.

Curious, the Doctor and Romana travel back in time aboard the G-Lock to find out why they've been hailed heroes and to solve the mystery of 'The Beautiful Death' theme ride. This results in a timey-wimey adventure with the Doctor and Romana jumping back and forth in time to save the future.

The book is divided into 18 chapters with a prologue and an epilogue. The reprint of the book contains a nice introduction by Jonathan Morris on his memories of first writing 'Festival of Death'.

This story takes place during the Season 17 period of 'Doctor Who' with the Doctor and Romana. It definitely has the Douglas Adams feel of that season containing in-jokes and lovely humour. I couldn't help but find myself laughing as I read some of the Doctor's jokey lines in the novel.

I feel that Jonny Morris has written well for the Fourth Doctor and Lalla Ward's Romana. I could definitely hear Tom and Lalla's voices as the Doctor and Romana when reading this story. If they ever did a Big Finish audio adaption of this novel with Tom and Lalla, I would greatly welcome it.

I managed to read some of this book whilst I was away in Stratford for a couple of days at the end of May, 2015. Going to Stratford and walking by the River Avon makes me feel like punting on the Cann with the Doctor and Romana in 'Shada' and this book enhanced the reading experience.

This novel certainly starts off as being funny and humorous like a typical Douglas Adams-style of story would with Tom Baker's Doctor making jokes. It was a surprise when it turned into a horror story with stories before being a complex timey-wimey adventure with the Doctor and Romana.

The concepts of 'The Beautiful Death' theme-park with experiencing death for 24 hours and being brought back to life again are very interesting. Sometime it can be quite disturbing, especially as when 'The Beautiful Death' ride goes wrong and people are turning into zombies in an instant.

You will have to keep alert reading this book I'm afraid. This is a timey-wimey adventure and you need to keep track and remember certain scenes as they get repeated with characters meeting each other. I'm sure I'll be reading this book again with a clearer idea of what happens next in the story.

Tom Baker's Doctor is brilliant in this novel. I really love the eccentric humour Jonny Morris delivers for the Doctor and I certainly like the banter shared between him and Romana. It transpires that Tom's Doctor may die in this story. I wondered how he would manage to get out of that one.

Romana is equally brilliant in this novel. I really like it when Romana gets to be on her own at times without the Doctor and have her own adventures. She's clearly resourceful and pretty deadpan. I found it funny when Romana gets annoyed with the Doctor and corrects him on the first law of time.

K-9 is equally delightful to read. I also could hear John Leeson's tinny voice as the robot dog and can imagine him trundling along the floor of the G-Lock thanks to Jonny's Morris' great direction. K-9 gets absent from the shock as he's thrown into a hyperspace interface which was a shock to read.

The story has some really good supporting characters featured in this novel. There's Evadne Baxter, who works as a ticket collector for the G-Lock. She knows the Doctor and Romana already when they meet her, and helps them to sort out the mystery with the Beautiful Death and the Replusion.

There's Harken Batt, a filmmaker who comes aboard to do a documentary about 'The Beautiful Death' on the G-Lock. Like Evadne, he knows the Doctor and Romana already when they meet him. He thinks highly of himself as a filmmaker; but he's a willing ally helping the Doctor and Romana.

There's Hoopy, a lizard-like alien called a Gonzie who comes to the G-Lock with two other Gonzies to experience `The Beautiful Death'. Hoopy has this strange language that almost makes him sound like a cool-talking dude of a lizard. He too knows the Doctor and Romana already when they meet him.

There's Metcalfe, who runs the G-Lock station and allows the Beautiful Death ride to take place. Metcalfe is a self-important person who accuses the Doctor and Romana for sabotaging the G-Lock. Metcalfe is not the clean-cut guy he would like to appear and he soon gets found out by the police.

There's the G-Lock's computer called ERIC, who I found really funny and reminded me of a computer from 'The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy'. ERIC is a self-loathing and weepy computer, who wants to end it all and die but nobody will let him. The Doctor promises ERIC he will end his life.

And there's Paddox, a scientist who is responsible for the operation of 'The Beautiful Death' to take place using his necroport aboard the G-Lock. Paddox is the villain of this story who has had a troubled past and wants the power of the Arboreatans to travel back in time and change history.

The monsters are the Repulsion. They live within the blackness of the hyperspace interface connected to the G-Lock. They turn people into zombies when they go through 'The Beautiful Death'. There are also the Arachnopods, spider-like creatures that want to eat the Doctor and Romana.

As I said before, I would love 'Festival of Death' to be turned into an audio drama by Big Finish. I'm sure Tom Baker and Lalla Ward would enjoy doing this story with John Leeson as K-9. It would match the Fourth Doctor stories by Gareth Roberts that have been adapted for audio recently by Big Finish.

But I also wouldn't mind if this book has its own audiobook reading by the BBC someday. I imagine this book would be read by Lalla Ward with John Leeson as the voice of K-9. It would be a great reading/listening experience in the same style as the 'City of Death' and 'Shada' novel audiobooks.

'Festival of Death' is a great Fourth Doctor novel adventure by Jonathan Morris. It has quickly become one of my favourite `Doctor Who' novels already and it contains delicious humour and a timey-wimey plot in the mix. You have to keep alert, but I'm sure you'll enjoy this one.

The next story with the Doctor and Romana is 'Babblesphere'.
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