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Doctor Who - Vengeance on Varos (Special Edition) [DVD] [1985]
Doctor Who - Vengeance on Varos (Special Edition) [DVD] [1985]
Dvd ~ Colin Baker
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice or Nasty? - The Doctor and Peri on Varos with Sil, 18 Sept. 2014
This review is for my best friend from school Stephen who is a fan of this story.

"One of my best, you will love it!...Great news though! This one has extra features! Even more of me!", Colin Baker, `The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot'

This is a 2 by 45 minutes episode story on a 2-disc special edition DVD, with Disc 1 containing the story and Disc 2 containing special features.

`Vengeance on Varos' is a story from Colin Baker's first season of `Doctor Who' in 1985. This is an extraordinarily grim and thrilling adventure in the history of the show, as it depicts a society that's pretty violent with its game shows and reality TV and reflects how society is depicted between the state and the media. I enjoyed watching this story when I saw it on DVD. I gave a copy of this story to my best friend from school as a present for Christmas, and I'm very pleased I did since he enjoyed it so much and considers it one of his favourites. He especially loves the atmosphere of the story and loves Sil and his foul laugh whenever he appears on the screen.

The story has the Doctor and Peri travelling in the TARDIS until they stall in space. With the Doctor depressed by this, Peri tries to brighten his spirits by taking a look in the TARDIS manual. They soon make their way to the planet Varos whether they hope to get some Zeiton-7 to refuel the TARDIS. However when the Doctor and Peri arrive there, they discover the planet Varos under a tyrannical state of video violence and are soon on the run by military guards shooting at them. Whilst on the planet, a reluctant governor is making dodgy trade dealings with a grotesque alien called Sil from Thoros Beta. Can the Doctor and Peri survive this adventure unscathed and restore the planet to a state of peace and remove the violence?

This story was written by Phillip Martin, who is a well-known writer for `Play For Today' and the political thriller series `Gangsters'. This is his first and bold attempt to write a `Doctor Who' story and he does a pretty good job in depicting a society that's sadistic in its morals and is on the verge of out of control video violence. When depicting the violence on the TV screens, the audience take it quite casually at home which is shocking as they act like they're watching a dangerous reality version of Big Brother. Some of the story is pretty gruesome and hard to believe that it was shown in 1985, especially the acid bath sequence. A story like this wouldn't be made like that today. But it's a compelling story that looks into how humanity is perceived in a darker setting and how important it is to redeem ourselves when the worst aspects are out in the open.

I enjoyed watching Colin Baker's Doctor in this story. I have some sympathy for Colin as he's a really good actor and does a very interesting interpretation of the character and wasn't given a fair crack of the whip during his time on the series. Colin manages to find his feet as the Doctor in this one. This is still the volatile and abrasive Sixth Doctor that started from 'The Twin Dilemma' and 'Attack of the Cybermen'. He's still bickering with Peri and seems to take an amoral view on things in life. I like that moment in the acid bath sequence when the Doctor looks down on the two dying guards who attacked, and casually puts his multi-coloured coat back on and says to them, "Mind if I don't join you." I think it's fair to say this is not an adventure where the Sixth Doctor is entirely nice and friendly throughout. But he displays concern for the condition of Varos and is pretty opposed to their violent ways despite being slightly violent himself. I've met Colin five times now at conventions and enjoy sharing the things I like about his adventures. I hope to share with Colin what I think about this story.

Nicola Bryant is sexy as ever as Peri in this story, in glamorous costume and all that. I've had the pleasure of meeting Nicola recently at a convention in Weston-super-Mare with Colin. I enjoyed chatting to Nicola, although I must admit I was in awe when I first saw her. But we got on well afterwards. I enjoyed watching Peri in this story. Her scenes with the Doctor in the TARDIS seem like they don't like each other very much. But they do like each other and seem to care about each other very much, almost like a husband and wife scenario. I like it when Peri shows some sympathy towards the Governor when he's about to be `voted' and how she receives some concern and attention from him. Peri gets transformed into a bird-creature which was quite a shock and surprise when I saw it.

The story's villain is the slug-like Sil, a Mentor from the planet Thoros-Beta (played by Nabil Shaban). I really enjoyed Nabil's performance as Sil, making him so grotesque, horrible and funny all at the same time. Nabil is a disabled actor in real life and does an amazing performance as this vile creature. My best mate from school loves Sil. We both like it when he does that guttural laugh which only he can do, and those amusing hand movements whenever he gets angry. Sil became a popular character from this story that he would return again to `Doctor Who' in 'The Trial Of A Time Lord' (`Mindwarp' segement); and also in some Big Finish audios including the lost story 'Mission to Magnus' and 'Antidote to Oblivion'.

The rest of the guest cast are really good, including Martin Jarvis as the Governor (who's appeared in `Doctor Who' before in `The Web Planet' and `Invasion of the Dinosaurs' and did the voice of God for the Audio Bible). There's also the couple watching TV at home - Arak and Etta (Stephen Yardley and Sheila Reid). Sheila would later play Clara's gran in `The Time of the Doctor'. I enjoyed watching these two, as they're not involved in a major part of the story, but are viewers watching events unfold with all the various torture and executions taking place and seeing the Doctor and Peri friends on the run. I like that last scene at the end of the story when they don't know what to do, not there's no more violent telly. Also there's Jason Connery (Sean Connery's son apparently) who plays Jonda in the story and gets to show his naked torso when being tortured at the beginning of the story.

`Vengeance on Varos' became a story of much debate as it was criticised by the public as being too violent. Certainly the acid bath scene and torture scenes prove that to be the case. In fact many stories of Season 22 (Colin Baker's first season) were debated for its violent content. This became one of the contributing factors for Michael Grade and Jonathan Powell from the top levels of the BBC to make the decision of `resting' the show for 18 months. It's a shame really since this story is accused for violent content as it's quite a gripping story and does pretty well in depicting how important it is to oppose embracing the violence from the point of view from the Doctor and Peri. It's a shame `Vengeance on Varos' is overlooked in that respect, as it comes across as a pretty good piece of television drama.

This story was originally released in 2001 with very few special features. But in 2012, the story was restored to full brilliance and was repackaged and released with a brand-new special edition DVD containing new additional features.

On Disc 1, there's an audio commentary on the story with Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Nabil Shaban. There's also an isolated music score track by Jonathan Gibbs to watch during the story; as well an mono production audio option and a 5.1 surround sound mix audio option. There's also an info-text commentary option to watch during the story

On Disc 2, there's a brand new making-of documentary on `Vengeance on Varos' presented by writer Matthew Sweet and features interviews with Nabil Shaban; Sheila Reid; writer Phillip Martin; script editor Eric Saward and music composer Jonathan Gibbs. There `The Idiot's Lantern' where Samira Ahmed discusses the way `Doctor Who' uses television in stories such as this one and `Bad Wolf'/'The Parting of the Ways' with Christopher Eccelston's Doctor. There are also some extended and deleted scenes cut out from the story before transmission. There's a remake of the `Acid Bath Scene with Alternative Music'. There's some `behind the scenes' footage containing a look into how the story was made; plus some `outtakes' from the making of the story. There are also some `trailers' for both episodes of this story when they were shown in 1985. There's also some `continuity' announcements from the story's original transmission.

The highlight of this DVD for me is an episode of the continuing series of `Tomorrow's Times - The Sixth Doctor', where it tells the story of the Colin Baker years of `Doctor Who' through the newspapers. This was special as it's presented by Sarah Sutton (who plays Nyssa in `Doctor Who', my favourite companion). Watching Sarah as newsreader was a real treat, and I enjoyed how Sarah tells the story of the Colin Baker years from the newspapers. It starts off pretty well in jovial humorous tones with Colin's happy start in the series, before going into sombre sad moods with Colin's unhappy experience with the `trial' season and getting sack. Sarah put a lot of emotion when she told this story of Colin's departure that I really felt and hung onto. I had no idea Colin lost one of his son's during his time on `Doctor Who'. Sarah is exceptionally brilliant newsreader and I enjoyed her a lot in this special feature.

There's also a BBC News report on Colin Baker's casting in `Doctor Who'. There's a `Breakfast Time' interview with Colin by Frank Bough. There's also the full `Saturday Superstore' interview with Colin and Nicola and a guest appearance from the Master during one of the phone calls. There's also a `French and Saunders' comedy sketch using sets from `The Trial of a Time Lord' and Dawn and Jennifer dress up as Silurians that I cringed while watching. There's also a photo gallery for this story; PDF materials including Radio Times Listings and a `coming soon' trailer for the next DVD release which is `The Ambassadors of Death' with Jon Pertwee's Doctor.

I enjoyed `Vengeance on Varos' as a story and in terms of production. I'm very pleased 2Entertain have done a grand job in re-mastering the story and released it with a brand new 2-disc special edition DVD that's impressive than the original DVD in 2001. I'm glad Sarah Sutton presents the `Tomorrow Times - The Sixth Doctor' feature. But for the story, it's a good one with Colin's Doctor and Nicola's Peri and features a brilliantly funny and vile performance from Nabil Shaban as Sil. I'm sure you'll enjoy this. Just make sure you don't fall into any acid baths. That could be fatal.

The next story with the Doctor and Peri is 'Grave Matter'.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 21, 2014 10:15 PM BST

Doctor Who - Frontios [DVD] [1984]
Doctor Who - Frontios [DVD] [1984]
Dvd ~ Peter Davison
Price: £6.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Driven To Distraction - Tractators on Frontios!, 16 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Remember in `The End of Time' when David Tennant regenerated, exploding in an inferno that blew up the TARDIS console to catch fire? In `Frontios', the TARDIS gets destroyed!

I enjoyed watching `Frontios'. This is a four-part story from Peter Davison's third season as the Doctor and was written by former script-editor Christopher H. Bidmead. It's an interesting story with lots of ideas and concepts running through that has a bleak dark tone depicting humanity's future and the potential last surviving outpost for humanity in a region where Time Lords aren't allowed to interfere. Although some elements of the story like the Tractators don't do the story justice than originally intended and it suffers slightly. But I enjoyed watching this intriguing story with some fascinating and very good performances from the cast.

Chris Bidmead was script editor on Tom Baker's last season in `Doctor Who' in 1980. Chris had also penned the two stories that saw the transitional phase of Tom Baker into Peter Davison - `Logopolis' and `Castrovalva' (found in the New Beginnings trilogy DVD box set). I enjoy Chris Bidmead's `Doctor Who' stories that were interesting and intriguing. It's rather fitting therefore during Peter Davison's final season as the Doctor that Chris gets to write another `Who' story for his Doctor. Chris was asked by Eric Saward, the current script editor, to come up with a story and he delivered a fascinating tale in the realm of science fiction story-telling that reflects his earlier work on the series.

The inspiration for `Frontios' came about when Chris Bidmead's flat was infested by a lot of woodlice and he thought this would make a really good `Doctor Who' monster. Sadly the realisation of the Tractators doesn't come off well on screen, but it's a good start all the same. Also the idea of a human colony suffering bombardments from the sky and the twist of the real threat being down below and underneath the planet's earth is very intriguing and gripping to watch. Lots of ideas and concepts go on through this sci-fi story by Chris Bidmead, and I found it enjoyable to watch.

The story has the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough arriving on this planet and discovering this colony under attack by bombardments. Despite insisting not to interfere, the Doctor offers to help the people of Frontios through their predicament. Through much begrudging and distrust of each other, the Doctor learns more about the colonists and the history of their planet. The clues begin to sink in when people are being sucked down into the ground, and the Doctor soon finds himself going underground and facing the Tractators who control the gravity of the planet Frontios and are potentially a great threat to the lives of the Doctor and his friends.

Stories depicting the future of humanity are always open for debate. Whether these future events will happen is a matter of opinion. They still haven't got flying cars from `Back to the Future - Part II' yet. But I quite like how humanity's future is depicted in `Doctor Who'. It's done lots of times now in stories such as `The Ark'; `The Ark In Space'; `The End of the World' and `Utopia'. But Chris Bidmead's story depicts a society where they're on the edge of extinction and the Doctor states that he and his companions are not to interfere with the planet's history otherwise it will make the Time Lords angry.

This story during production suffered a couple of tragedies. The first was the death and apparent suicide of a production designer before work commenced on `Frontios'. The second and most shocking of all was the brutal murder of actor Peter Arne, who was meant to play Range in the story before hurriedly replaced by William Lucas. Arne's death was a shock to the world and it was a shock for me when discovering it on the making-of documentary on the DVD. The fact that somebody had been murdered before taking part in a `Doctor Who' story was quite incomprehensible and even though I don't know much about Peter Arne as an actor, it's something really shocking and upset and you don't want to happen to anyone. Because of these tragedies, the story suffered slightly with grim repercussions which was a shame.

I like some of the guest cast that feature in this `Doctor Who' story. There's Jeff Rawle playing Plantagenet, the son of deceased Captain Revere who becomes leader of the colony of Frontios. I'd seen Jeff Rawle recently before this in `The Sarah Jane Adventures' story `Mona Lisa's Revenge'. Watching him in this is quite unusual as he looks so young looking and doesn't look anything like he appears in `The Sarah Jane Adventures'. But it was great to watch him playing this young character who assumes command of the colony planet after his father's death and is seemingly distrusting of the Doctor and his friends before he gets sucked down into the planet beneath.

There's also Peter Gilmore playing Brazen, one of the colony's commanding officers subject under Plantagenet. I'd seen Peter Gilmore already before this `Who' adventure. Gilmore is well-known for playing James Onedin in the period costume drama series `The Onedin Line' during the 1970s. I'd watched that series with my mum and dad and to see him in this `Who' story was a delight and a treat to watch. Some say Peter Gilmore's acting was wooden when playing this character in the story. Mark Strickson certainly says `he's a wooden actor' , which is a bit unfair. But I enjoyed watching Gilmore in this story and he doesn't do a bad job playing the character.

There's Lesley Dunlop who plays Norna, Range's daughter on the colony planet. Lesley was a well-known actress before appearing in `Doctor Who' and would go on to appear in `Emmerdale' years afterwards. I liked the character Lesley plays in Norna as she plays someone who helps her father during the bombardments and is under pressure when restricted from danger zones aboard the Frontios bunker/ship. I like that scene Norna shares with Turlough when talking about being told as a little girl about `the earth' being `hungry', and also when she goes down into the underground tunnels with Turlough and then the Doctor to face the Tractators.

And of course there's William Lucas playing Range, the physician in the colony planet of Frontios. William is also another well-known and seasoned veteran actor with a list of credits to his name including `Z Cars' and `Coronation Street'. The character he plays in Range is very interesting as he is the voice of reason when the Doctor learns from him about the bombardments and also when going against Plantegenet's accusations towards the Doctor. But there's something that Range is hiding as Tegan discovers when she finds a file with `deaths unaccountable' on it and gives a clue there's more to these bombardments than before.

Of course Peter Davison is the highlight playing the lead role of the Doctor in this story. The story is set towards the end of the Fifth Doctor's life. Peter's Doctor has come a long way since his initial beginnings in `Castrovalva', and Chris Bidmead's writes very well for his Doctor making him more fiery and sharp. I like some of the humour added into Peter's Doctor by Chris Bidmead that makes him more Tom Bakerish and more professorial. Peter gets to wear his glasses a lot in this story which I like and makes him more like David Tennant's Doctor whenever he's putting on the glasses. Through sharp wit and determination, the Doctor discovers more about what the colony's situation is despite repeatedly saying not to interfere to avoid upsetting the Time Lords to Tegan and Turlough.

This is also a good story for Turlough (played by Mark Strickson), as we get to learn more about him as a character compared to other TV stories. Chris Bidmead develops Turlough's character by him more sharp-witted and intelligent throughout. There's also elements of history in Turlough's character as he gets to experience a `race memory' of the Tractators when going underground. Turlough gets to go frenzy when he sees the Tractators, and it allows Mark to give a heightened performance. Some say Mark's performance is slightly over-the-top especially when he's frothing at the mouth. But I like Mark's performance as Turlough in this one and it's a standout story for him during his time on the series. I've had the pleasure of meeting Mark finally at last a convention in Weston-super-Mare recently in July.

I also enjoyed watching Tegan in this story, played by Janet Fielding, although it's fair it's not a standout story for her. Tegan gets to be more in the background when helping out the sick and wounded in the bunker with Range. She gets to discover `something going on here' with Range hiding a file on `deaths unaccountable' in a filing cabinet and manages to escape from Brazen when going underground to find the Doctor. She also helps Turlough and Norma when fetching some lighting equipment in a restricted zone and hiding away from Brazen when he comes in. Janet's performance is pretty good even though there's not much development in the character, which is a shame this is Tegan's penultimate adventure on her way out of the series.

The idea of the TARDIS being destroyed was irresistible and one Chris Bidmead wanted to put in his story. At the time this story was transmitted, there was a lot of speculation from the press about whether the TARDIS would get destroyed and we would lose that police box forever. But that never, ever, ever going to happen since the TARDIS is an icon of the show and Chris would never get rid of the time machine since it's crucial and he only wanted to destroy it for his story. I like how the Doctor and his friends discover the TARDIS corridors in the heart of planet when discovering the Tractator's hideout and the ship gets reassembled by the Gravis.

People being sucked into the ground is really something frightening and those images of horror on the TV story are pretty gruesome and shocking to watch. I wondered what happened to those people when they get sucked down into the earth, even though the realisation of the effects is pretty poor. Recently they've done better with people being sucked down into the earth such as Amy in the appropriately titled `The Hungry Earth' episode. But the concept and idea is horrific enough and is one I'm sure would have frightened kids at the time during the 80s when this was shown.

The Tractators are giant woodlice monsters in the story, and was the inspiration by Chris Bidmead for his story. These alien monsters are led by the Gravis (played by John Gillett). Now these monsters were meant to roll up into balls and were played by dancers who did extraordinary movements in the rehearsal sessions of the story. But when they were fitted up with the actual Tractator costumes, the result was disastrous. The Tractators end up looking rather stiff and couldn't move as agile as intended to be. Also the way they moved was pretty appalling and it was sometimes difficult to take seriously. Nowadays the Tractators could be created effectively as CGI monsters. But in those days, the combination of actor in costume was primitive. One wonders how the Tractators could have these gravitational powers to bring down meteors from space onto Frontios. An interesting concept in terms of monsters and on the page, but poorly realised for TV.

The special features on this DVD for `Frontios' are as follows.

There's a making-of documentary on `Frontios' called `Driven to Distraction' and it features interviews with Peter Davison, Mark Stirckson, Jeff Rawle, writer Christopher H. Bidmead; script editor Eric Saward, etc. There's also some `deleted and extended scenes' that cut out from the original story edit. There's a photo gallery of the story; an info-text option commentary; a dazzling isolated music score by Paddy Kingsland and PDF materials containing a Radio Times Listings for the story. There's also an audio commentary on `Frontios' with Peter Davison; Jeff Rawle; John Gillet (the Gravis); script editor Eric Saward and sound designer Dick Mills. There's also a 'coming soon' trailer for the next 'Doctor Who' DVD which is the box set 'Earth Story' containing 'The Gunfighters' with William Hartnell and 'The Awakening' with Peter Davison.

So `Frontios', whilst a flawed story in terms of production, is a very interesting tale from the Peter Davison era. I enjoyed it and is brave one to be made from the mind of Christopher H. Bidmead. It features some really good cast performances including Peter Davison and is an interesting tale about Earth's future with a certain twist during the story's progression. The story suffered set-backs and tragedies and the Tractators aren't so well realised as intended. But despite this is proved to be a pretty enjoyable four-part Who story and is one worthy to add to your DVD collection.

Take a side-step adventure with the Doctor in 'Excelis Dawns' set during the final episode of this story.

The next story for the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough is 'Resurrection of the Daleks'.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2014 3:02 PM BST

Doctor Who: The Ark In Space - Special Edition [DVD]
Doctor Who: The Ark In Space - Special Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A New Frontier - The Wirrn Invade The Ark, 15 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A bona fide `Doctor Who'. That's how they describe according to the sleeve notes inside the DVD.

This is one of the best well-known and classic stories of `Doctor Who' from the Tom Baker era. Second in his first season of the show, `The Ark In Space' is a story that truly defines Tom Baker's Doctor and is a good taste of classic `Doctor Who' story-telling.

`The Ark In Space' was originally released on DVD in 2002. Now it has been repackaged and re-released as a brand new a 2-disc special edition DVD with Disc 1 containing the story and Disc 2 containing additional special features to enjoy!

The story is written by Robert Holmes, one of `Doctor Who's popular and best writers on the show. Robert Holmes had recently taken over the job as script editor for the series during the Tom Baker era and was working alongside new producer Phillip Hinchcliffe. Both Holmes and Hinchcliffe would work together to craft a new era for the show and set out to tell tantalising and really gripping story full of gothic horror and suspense for the audience to enjoy.

The first story for their era would be `The Ark In Space'. Carried over from the previous Barry Letts/Terrance Dicks era, the story was meant to be written by former `Doctor Who' writer John Lucarotti. Unfortunately due to a disagreement with the script being too ambitious, producer Phillip Hinchcliffe asked Robert Holmes to re-write the story again from scratch and come up with a brand new four-parter. What Holmes brought up was an unusually creepy space adventure that is set in the far reaches of humanity's future and with lots of slime and insect-like creatures in the mix.

The story of `The Ark In Space' begins with the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry arrive on the space station called Nerva. The place seems abandoned and fully automated with safe-guards installed that can blow up the Doctor's long scarf, Harry's shoes and a cricket ball adding to the list. But they soon discover that this space station houses thousands of cryogenic sleepers waiting to be reawakened to begin a new life on Earth. But something has gone wrong as something has invaded the station and has evil intent on destroying the human race. Can the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry be able to stop this new menace called...the Wirrn?

This is an interesting story to watch, even if the action seems slow at first in the first episode before we get to blazing guns firing on green creatures in Episode Three. The idea that Robert Holmes addresses of humanity and Earth on the edge of extinction by solar flames and surviving in cryogenic chambers waiting to be revived is frightening indeed. I'm glad I'm not in that somewhat bleak future. But the concepts are pretty well detailed; constructed and realised through this traditional space station setting, and it's one that appeals to Robert Holmes very much. He would use ideas like this again for his final story in `The Trail of a Time Lord' with Ravalox.

The last surviving members of the human include Vira, played by Wendy Williams. Vira is revived by the Doctor and Harry when they discover her in her cryo-chamber. Vira's an interesting chamber to watch. She's not an automatically friendly person to begin with. She seems rather cold and efficient, even though she is a `med-tech' (the future equivalent of a Doctor, I think). But as the story develops she learn more about her when she's forced the decision of command by Noah and gets to reveal interesting traits about her character we've never known before. I like how Wendy Williams plays Vira and its slightly amusing when she's rather remissive of the Doctor and Harry's presence aboard the Ark.

The `prime unit' (leader) of humans aboard the Ark is Noah (`as in Noah's ark') played by Kenton Moore. I enjoyed Kenton's performance as Noah. Noah starts off as being an efficient as Vira is, and is immediately distrustful of the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry being aboard the station. But as the story progresses, Noah gets infected with some green slime at some point and starts to lose his mind. The Wirrn begin to take over him, and we see during an episode cliff-hanger Noah's hand revealed in a green organic casing that must be both frightening for the audience to watch and for the audience to see. Noah acts very strangely and is seemingly speaking for someone else when the Wirrn are inside his mind. Tragically and sadly, Noah gets taken over and becomes a fully grown Wirrn with intent on destroying the human race.

But of course this story's star of the show is Tom Baker himself. This is an early point in Tom Baker's career as the eccentric time-traveller with floppy scarf. I really like how Tom's Doctor manages to find his feet in this story. He's barely started following his previous debut story in 'Robot', and yet he's managing to find his character. I like it when he's playing with his yoyo at the start, and also when he tries to mind-link his brain to the Wirrn's mind in `Part Three' and seems confident and aloof about it. "It may be irrational of me, but human beings are my favourite species" is one of Tom's Doctor's classic lines from the series. I like how Tom's Doctor interacts with Harry and when he encourages Sarah Jane to crawl through the tunnel to reach the other side with insults even though he doesn't mean anything by them.

Sarah Jane Smith is also lovely to watch in this story. I like Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane, who works well with Tom's Doctor. It's quite a shock when Sarah Jane is suffocating in an airless room aboard the Ark and when she's being processed to be put into a cryogenic chamber. Sarah Jane gets to wear a white uniform in this story when being put in cryogenic sleep. I like it when she's making jokes with the Doctor or having a bit of friendly banter/rivalry with Harry. I like that exchange of dialogue between Sarah Jane and the Doctor when discussing the Wirrn. "Don't make jokes like that, Doctor."; "When I say I'm afraid Sarah, I'm not in the habit of making jokes." The defining moment for Sarah Jane in this story of course is when she's trying to crawl through the shaft and is on the verge of giving up before the Doctor `encourages' her along. When the Doctor `insults' her, she's pretty angry with him for it, but is relived and slightly annoyed when the Doctor didn't mean it and that was the moment that defined both their relationship.

Harry Sullivan was great to watch in this story too. Ian Marter's a very good actor who I like very much. This is of course Harry's debut story as a companion following his recent first appearance in `Robot'. He joins the TARDIS crew, and is agog as to where they are on the space station. Sometimes Harry seems a little dim at times, but he does show a sense of coping with his own intelligence to unfamiliar situations. The Doctor seems to approve of Harry for doing this. "Your mind's beginning to improve Harry. It's all down to my influence of course. You can't take full credit." I like it when Harry gets to show his caring side as a medical doctor whenever Sarah Jane comatose or when trying to help Vira with getting revived. It's the start for a new journey for Harry as a companion. It's such a shame his run of stories didn't last beyond one season as Ian's a very good actor and the working relationship between him, Tom and Sarah Jane is standout.

I like some of the space station designs of The Ark/Nerva beacon. They're so futuristic and traditional as to what space exploration could look like and seems quite appealing even though the walls are stark, white and bland. The story feels like an old-fashioned style of space adventure with the Ark space station designs, but it's good to watch on screen. When we get down to the solar stacks on lower level, it's dark and spooky and some of the Wirrn have already got in when the Doctor goes to look. This is where the Doctor becomes serious and it gets even more creepy when the Wirrn start to hatch out or when Noah as one of them goes for the Doctor.

The Wirrn I must say are pretty interesting monsters. They look like insects on first hand. But in actual fact these are cunning creatures who absorb and digest not only people's bodies but also their knowledge and wisdom. This is a pretty gruesome and horrible idea, but it works effectively in the story especially when Noah goes mad. The Wirrn come from the Andromeda Galaxy and are out for revenge on the humans since it turns out their breeding colonies were destroyed as a result of the humans exploration into a space. Sometimes it's difficult to take these Wirrn seriously since they lumber around and look like men in insect rubber costumes. But they're an interesting monster in terms of concept.

The story has had in its legacy with many things, especially since this story became the first in a trilogy of stories featuring the Nerva space stations. The trilogy includes `The Ark In Space'; 'Revenge of the Cybermen' and the Big Finish story 'Destination: Nerva'. It's also had a legacy for the Wirrn, as they would return to feature in more `Doctor Who' stories on audio including 'Wirrn Isle' and 'Wirrn Dawn' and also in a non-Doctor Who audio by BBV called 'Wirrn: Race Memory' with Sarah Sutton that I've enjoyed.

The special features on this 2-disc DVD include the following.

On Disc 1, there's a making-of documentary on the story called `A New Frontier' with interviews with cast and crew. This includes producer Phillip Hinchcliffe; director Rodney Bennett; actors Wendy Williams and Kenton Moore; designer Roger Murray-Leach and new series Dalek voice artist/Big Finish supreme Nicholas Briggs. There's also an interview with designer Roger Murray-Leach on his work for the series. There's a Model Effects Roll footage as well as CGI Effect Roll footage. There's also 3D Technical Schematics for the Nerva Ark space station; and there's a trailer for the first episode of the story shown on BBC One back in 1975.

There's also an unused `Alternative Titles' to watch that was based on the Season 11 Jon Pertwee format. There are Alternative CGI sequences to watch during the story that can be switched on and off. There's the first of series of CGI model sequences called `TARDIS-Cam no. 1'. There's also a photo gallery and an info-text commentary option to watch during the story. There's also an audio commentary to watch and enjoy featuring Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and producer Phillip Hinchcliffe.

On Disc 2, there's a Movie Version of `The Ark In Space' to watch that was originally shown in 1975 possibly as a Christmas special I think.

There's a special documentary of a series of a special documentaries called `Doctor Forever'. This episode is called `Love and War' and it focuses on `Doctor Who' books published during the wilderness years during the 1990s and early 2000s and this got me interested as it focuses on the Virgin and BBC Books era and includes interviews with Russell T. Davies; Mark Gattis; Paul Cornell; Robert Shearman; Gary Russell; Joseph Lidster; Peter Darvill-Evans; etc.

There's also `Scene Around Six' which is a special amount of rare news footage featuring Tom Baker in costume during a promotional visit to Derry and Belfast with a group of children. There's also `Robot 8mm Location Film' footage that was found and is brief amateur film on the making of Tom Baker's first story `Robot'. There's also PDF materials containing a `Radio Times Listing' for the story, The Doctor Who Technical Manual and Promotional Materials for Cross & Blackwell and Nestle. There's also a Coming Soon trailer for the next DVD release which is a special edition DVD of the William Hartnell story `The Aztecs'.

`The Ark In Space' is certainly a classic story worth enjoying and is a well-popular one by Robert Holmes. I'm sure this is a story worth adding to your `Doctor Who' DVD collection, as it contains such a gripping plot and imagination throughout and is well worth it to watch Tom Baker's Doctor with Sarah Jane and Harry as his companions.

The next story with the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry is 'The Sontaran Experiment'.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2014 3:04 PM BST

Goth Opera (Doctor Who Missing Adventures)
Goth Opera (Doctor Who Missing Adventures)
by Peter Darvill-Evans
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nyssa becomes a vampire!, 12 Sept. 2014
I just finished reading this book for the third time!

`Goth Opera' is fantastic novel and is a great one to feature Nyssa who is my favourite `Doctor Who' companion from the series. This is a vampire story and is a sequel to `State of Decay' from 'The E-Space Trilogy'. The story is also the prequel/sequel to 'Blood Harvest', a New Adventures novel by Terrance Dicks with the Seventh Doctor. This book follows on directly from that story, although you don't need to read `Blood Harvest' before this. I had no problem reading `Goth Opera' and the story was compelling enough to keep me captivated.

The story is about the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan spending a summer cricketing holiday in Tasmania, Australia in 1993. Tegan is recovering from her second trauma with the Mara in 'Snakedance' whilst the Doctor plays cricket. Whilst on holiday, Nyssa gets attacked during the night by a demonic child. Although unharmed, Nyssa ends up with two fang marks in her neck and slowly becomes a vampire herself. Very soon the age of the vampires is about to begin as they are led by their messiah and a renegade Time Lady who gather the vampires of Great Britain in Manchester to commence their reign of terror. Can the Doctor and Tegan save Nyssa as well as stopping the endless night?

This book contains a Preface by Peter Darvill-Evans introducing the Missing Adventures to newcomers of these `Doctor Who' books. It also contains 11 chapters with a prologue at the beginning and an epilogue at the end.

In January 2010, I visited two friends (a married couple and `Doctor Who' fans like me) and stayed overnight at their new house. They knew of my love for `Doctor Who' and especially for my love of companion Nyssa of Traken (played by Sarah Sutton). They eventually lent me the book `Goth Opera' knowing that I would enjoy this. I was looking forward to reading this book and couldn't wait especially as I went home on the train.

I finished reading `Goth Opera' later that year and thoroughly enjoyed it. It did give me the shudders when Nyssa was becoming a vampire. The picture of Nyssa on the front cover with fangs and blood dripping looks really creepy and gave me shudders. Yet I relished the reading experience of this book. I asked to have my own copy of the book from my parents and one Christmas in 2011 I got it. I read this book on holiday, and having recently read the book for the third time in Scotland, I still found it a thrilling read.

`Goth Opera' is the first of a range of `Doctor Who' novels by Virgin Publishing called the Missing Adventures. It was a brand new range of novels at the time by Peter Darvill-Evans to be published monthly alongside the New Adventures novels featuring the Seventh Doctor that were currently produced. It was published in 1994 and was written by Paul Cornell. Paul has written a number of New Adventures novels including `Love and War' and would go on to be a writer for the new series with stories including `Father's Day' and `Human Nature'/'The Family of Blood' and also co-wrote 'Circular Time' (my favourite `Doctor Who' audio) for Big Finish.

This adventure is set between the two TV stories `Snakedance' and `Mawdryn Undead'. I like how the connections are made to Tegan's recent experience with the Mara as well as the connections made to `State of Decay'; E-Space and the time of the vampires. These are the descendants of the Great Vampire that the Doctor faces in this story.

Paul has written a pretty blood-curdling yet thrilling story that's been gruelling, terrifying yet compelling to read at the same time. I like how the atmosphere of this story is depicted being set in an urban setting such as Manchester and Tasmania that makes it all so familiar and visual. I like the atmosphere of 1993 and how it depicts nightlife and pubs and reflecting how the vampires get involved. I like the cricketing atmosphere with the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa when they're in Tasmania for their holiday. Paul cleverly portrays the themes of vampirism very well and having the characters' point of view on how they become casual and feeling normal when being a vampire. It's quite disturbing and yet believable at the same time. There are also the themes of Christianity (faith) against vampirism that is depicted well in an interesting way by Paul. Paul also uses the weapons of garlic and stakes in the vampires' hearts pretty well in this story. I also like how Paul indulges in his fandom and puts some Time Lord history in the mix of this gothic vampire story.

The highlight of this novel for me is Nyssa, my favourite `Doctor Who' companion. I had confidence in Paul Cornell writing well for Nyssa's character in this story, since he wrote well for her in `Circular Time' and is a fan of hers himself too. I enjoyed reading Nyssa's journey in this story. I really felt for Nyssa when she was struggling in resisting becoming a vampire. The scenes where Nyssa's turning into a vampire were pretty terrifying to read for me. I found that scene where Nyssa attacks Tegan in her TARDIS bedroom pretty terrifying and vivid to read. I feared for Nyssa and wondered what was going to happen to her. It was like watching 'Terminus' again whenever Nyssa's sick or in danger and I wanted to save her from danger.

I'd be scared stiff with listening to Nyssa turning into a vampire if this story became an audio. I'm sure Sarah would enjoy and relish playing Nyssa in this as there's plenty of good moments for her to do. It's a story for Sarah to `get her teeth into', and I'm sure she'd enjoy playing a vampire-Nyssa especially after hearing her performance in 'The Eternal Summer' where she played a vampire-like Nyssa in that.

The Doctor is really good in this story. I really enjoyed how Paul has the Doctor playing cricket in his story when he and his companions are on holiday. The Doctor displays a vulnerable yet quietly intelligent side to his character in this story. He shows concern for his companions especially to Nyssa when he realises she's becoming a vampire. He goes to great lengths to saving Nyssa, vowing not to let anymore of his companions die like Adric. He shares more time with Tegan in this story. I like how the Doctor's connection with Ruath is revealed as it unravels another layer of his history with his home planet Gallifrey as well as his mystery.

Tegan is recovering from her traumatic experience with the Mara in `Snakedance' in this story. She's pretty edgy and snappy at the beginning of the story. Her usual groggy, bad-tempered self you might say. She even snaps with Nyssa who shows concern for her before she eventually apologises to her. But during the story, Tegan gets to see what Nyssa goes through to becoming a vampire and she's afraid for her friend's life. She joins the Doctor in this adventure to rescue Nyssa and stop the vampires. I really like how Tegan gets to do the `companion' stuff in this story and is working more with the Doctor. There is a sense of friendly banter between them.

Romana makes an appearance in this story, following the events and connecting to `Blood Harvest'. This is the second Romana as played by Lalla Ward in the series. She's escaped E-Space and is now a Gallifrey official becoming President in the Big Finish audios. Romana features mostly in Chapter 6 where she confronts Ruath who gets her into the Time Scoop chamber and escape to Earth. Romana doesn't encounter the Fifth Doctor in this story to avoid contradicting the time line and recent events in `Blood Harvest'. But she does send a telepathic message to the Doctor about her encounter with Ruath and warning him about what danger lies before him

A renegade Time Lady helps the vampires called Ruathadvorophrenaltid - Ruath for short. Ruath is an old flame of the Doctor's. At the time I read this, I had just written a personal `Who' story of my own about a space hotel where the Fifth Doctor meets a Time Lady who was an old flame of his. Ruath has this obsessive belief in being part of the vampire cause and wanting to resurrect Yarven the Vampire Messiah from his grave. She even sacrifices herself by giving him her own blood and causing her to regenerate. Ruath has her own agenda with the vampires and she wins her way to Yarven to get what he wants in order to get what she wants.

The vampires are led by Yarven, who is their Vampire Messiah. Yarven is one of the last of the vampires from the vampire planet in E-Space and made his first appearance in 'Blood Harvest'. He's a tall man with a pointed beard, who I can imagine would be as elegantly gothic as Dracula himself and as the title of this book implies. Yarven gets resurrected by Ruath in her TARDIS following his 'death' in `Blood Harvest'. Yarven gets to lead his vampire kind in their cause to live on Earth; prey on their human victims and plunge the planet into eternal darkness. Yarven is a cool villainous character who has Ruath as his consort and seeks his revenge on the Doctor.

There are two young vampires in this story. A couple called Jake and Madelaine. They come from Manchester and are like two teenage lovers. Jake converted Madelaine into a vampire and the two have been together since. Madelaine doesn't like being involved with Ruath's plan with Yarven, but Jake is keen to see what's going on. They get to do things for Yarven and Ruath, especially when Madelaine tries to abduct Victor Lang (an American evangelist). Jake and Madelaine look out and take care of Nyssa when she's becoming a vampire. These are two vampires you can relate to and you can't help like them in a strange way.

There's a baby vampire in this story, referred to as The Child. This baby terrified me and freaked me out when I read this story. This is the baby that attacks Nyssa and makes her become a vampire. Nyssa takes it in her bedroom assuming it's an ordinary baby before discovering it's got fangs. That scene was really frightening to read when I read Chapter 1. Paul has written a pretty creepy blood-curdling tale especially when featuring a vampire baby in the story.

There is a gothic castle that features in this story. This is the Castle Yarven where the Vampire Messiah and his vampire kind live. The Doctor and Tegan try to find a way in. The revelation of what this castle turned out to be took me by surprise.

The story ends with Yarven and his vampires defeated by the Doctor and his cunning ingenuity. But best of all, Nyssa is returned to normal and is no longer a vampire. I really liked it when she hugs the Doctor and bursts into tears for the first time since her horrible experience. When the Doctor and friends return to the TARDIS, Ruath gets in and apprehends the Doctor. Both the Doctor and Tegan are in trouble, until Nyssa opens the TARDIS doors and Ruath is sent out into the time vortex. I found it a really heart-stilling moment when Nyssa saves the Doctor from Ruath. I like how she comes in saying 'Ruath' in her quiet voice and how she explains to the Doctor she had to do it and he understands.

I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed this captivating 'Doctor Who' story. I'm glad I've read it. I wouldn't be surprised if Big Finish adapted this book and turned it into an audio drama. I'd like that very much. There was a survey on the Big Finish forum about which Fifth Doctor novel would fans like to be turned into an audio drama. The highest votes so far go to `Goth Opera' which sound very promising. Presumably if this book were adapted into audio by Big Finish it would either be a four-part story or a two feature-length episode story like the audio adaption of 'Love and War'. I prefer the earlier. I imagine they'd have to produce both `Blood Harvest' and `Goth Opera' to complete the listening experience.

The cast I'm sure would include Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding as the main leads - the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan. And I'm sure Lalla Ward would make a guest appearance in this story as Romana. I assume there would be two actresses playing Ruath since she regenerates early on in the story. I assume there would be Coronation Street actors to play the Northern parts, including Jake and Madelaine.

I really have enjoyed reading this story. It did give me the shudders when Nyssa was becoming a vampire, but that makes this the best Fifth Doctor novel and the best one to feature Nyssa in it. By the end of the story I was thrilled and pleased Nyssa was alright and she saved the Doctor and Tegan from Ruath. From three reads, `Goth Opera' is one of the best `Doctor Who' novels I will remember reading for years to come and here's hoping that Big Finish will turn this story in an audio adventure very soon.

The next story with the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan is 'Mawdryn Undead'.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2014 12:25 AM BST

Sands of Time (Doctor Who Missing Adventures)
Sands of Time (Doctor Who Missing Adventures)
by Justin Richards
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Egyptain Adventure with the Doctor and Tegan rescuing Nyssa!, 12 Sept. 2014
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Kneel before the might of Nephthys!

`The Sands of Time' is the second book I've read in a trilogy of Fifth Doctor novels I planned to read over my summer holiday this year in Scotland. Like 'Cold Fusion' before this, I bought the book from Amazon but hadn't had the chance to read it at the time. Now I can finally say I've read `The Sands of Time'.

This book is a sequel to the classic `Doctor Who' TV story 'Pyramids Of Mars' with Tom Baker's Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith. There's no Suketh as the main villain of this story I'm afraid, as the villainess happens to be the goddess Nephthys. But there's the familiar robot mummies featured in this story as shown on the book's front cover and they are working as the servants for Nephthys.

The story is about the Doctor and his companions Nyssa and Tegan arriving at the British museum in Victorian London, 1896. Trouble starts as Nyssa gets kidnapped by Egyptian religious fanatics and the Doctor and Tegan are soon invited to a strange party. The party involves the unwrapping of a mummy and it turns out that mummy happens to be Nyssa. Upset and troubled by this, the Doctor and Tegan have to save Nyssa. They need help and they're joined by Atkins, Lord Kenilworth's butler on an adventure jumping back and forth in time and space from London to Egypt and back again. Pretty soon, they discover the plans of the villainous Sadam Russell and have to stop awakening of the Egyptian goddess Nephthys before it's too late.

I've enjoyed this novel very much featuring the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan. It's an intriguing story and kept me interested all the way through. But I have to say I was deprived of there being little of Nyssa featured in this story since she's my favourite `Doctor Who' companion. I expected more of Nyssa to be included in the book due to be the focus of the story's premise, but sadly it wasn't so.

This is one of the Missing Adventures novel series in `Doctor Who' published by Virgin Publishing. The story was written by Justin Richards, who would go on to be the commissioning editor of `Doctor Who's BBC Books range in the late 1990s up to the present day. Justin has written my favourite Ninth Doctor novel `The Clockwise Man' and has written the occasional audio drama for Big Finish including the Fourth Doctor adventure `The Renaissance Man'.

This book contains 16 chapters with short prologues at the beginning of each chapter, although there are four short prologues at the beginning of Chapter 1 to start off with. This is likely to be a possible 4-part story if you divide the 16 chapters into 4 and if Big Finish were to adapt this story into an audio drama. The prologues are likely to form preludes if Big Finish adapted this into audio like the prelude featured on the 'Love and War' audio story.

The adventure is set between the TV stories 'Arc of Infinity' and 'Snakedance'; and presumably after the Fifth Doctor `Lost Stories' by Big Finish - the latest one is 'The Children of Seth'. When I discovered Suketh was also called Seth, it made wonder whether the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan had already faced Suketh before in `The Children of Seth'. This story is set before the events of `Pyramids of Mars' have occurred on Earth. This story is also a sort of sequel to `Black Orchid', but more later.

This is a pretty well-researched piece of literature by Justin Richards who I commend for his imaginativeness and creativity. There are lots of historical connections and accuracy to the Egyptian legends of gods and goodness and the use of Egyptology by Justin. He does well in mixing that as well as the alien nature of the Egyptian gods with the Osirans and influence of `Pyramids of Mars' throughout. This does have the feel of a gothic horror story in terms of spirit from the Phillip Hinchcliffe/Robert Holmes era in a Peter Davison-Fifth Doctor novel. There's lots of jumping between time zones and places such as from London 1896 to Ancient Egypt and back again and off to Egypt 1896 and then to London 1996 and so forth. It got me befuddled and confused sometimes especially with reading some of the prologues and preludes; but I was able to keep track within the main body of the story despite the diversions. You really have to keep alert when reading this story and possibly read a couple of times to get the full picture.

I like how the Fifth Doctor is portrayed in this story. The Doctor is displaying intelligence and curiosity throughout this adventure, especially when delving deep into Nephthys and the Egyptology. He has concern for Nyssa and is determined to save her life and prevent her from becoming a mummy. The Doctor spends more time with Tegan in this story and both bounce of each other like they usually do in the TV series. The Doctor fits in the Victorian aristocracy pretty well and is making notes and planning ahead in solving the mystery of Nyssa's mummifying. He makes notes in the TARDIS library at some point. I like his scenes when confronting Sadam Russell on his morals in the later part of the story.

Tegan's journey in this story takes place following 'Arc of Infinity' where she rejoins the Doctor and Nyssa in Amsterdam. She's been with them for a while since her return to the TARDIS. Tegan gets to be `the companion' whilst Nyssa's out of the picture for most of the story. She gets more to do and is a more active character than she was before compared to the TV series. She shows more emotion and honesty. I like the comparisons made between her and the Doctor in this story by Atkins. Tegan's worried and is missing Nyssa when she goes missing, and it's clear in this story that she considers Nyssa to be her best mate. Tegan gets to drive a car when searching for Vanessa at Norris' house. She gets upset with the Doctor as `Nyssa's' older when revived towards the end of the story.

Nyssa's not featured much in this story as she gets kidnapped by Russell and his minions. As I mentioned, I was disappointed with the lack of Nyssa featured in this novel. It's more like 'Kinda' where Nyssa's absent for most of the story, though this time it's different as the focus of the story is on her and the Doctor and Tegan are trying to save her. Nyssa gets mummified and is chosen as the host for Nephthys' body. Like Tegan and the Doctor, I was terrified and anxious about why Nyssa was kidnapped and wrapped in bandages. Nyssa has to wait for 100 years before she gets revived. I like Nyssa's scenes with Sitamum; the handmaiden in Ancient Egypt in the earlier part of the story. I wish there was more of Nyssa in this story instead of her being sidelined throughout.

Lady Cranleigh features in this story. This is Lady Ann Cranleigh nee Talbot who appeared in 'Black Orchid' and is the double of Nyssa. I liked it when Ann was featured in this story and the connection made to 'Black Orchid' as it's my favourite `Who' story. I wish the story had been more about why Nyssa and Ann look so similar, as Ann only appears briefly at the beginning and end. I've written my own personal story about Nyssa and Ann's similarly in appearance called `The Mirror of Memory'. There's a twist at the end of `The Sands of Time' involving her and Nyssa, but I won't mention it in case of spoilers. All I can say is; I like the Cranleigh Hall party scene in 1926 at the beginning when the Doctor visits Ann and her husband and asks a `small' favour of her.

The Doctor and Tegan meet Lord Kenilworth who invites them both to his mummy unwrapping party at Kenilworth Hall. Kenilworth is an English aristocrat who's been on an expedition to Egypt in 1896. When the Doctor and Tegan meet Kenilworth in London, he knows them already yet they haven't met him. Both the Doctor and Tegan with Atkins travel back in time to meet Lord Kenilworth during his expedition in Egypt and he meets them for the first time. Wibley-wobbly; timey-wimey in this novel; done pretty well by Justin Richards.

The story features Atkins, who is Lord Kenilworth's butler in the story. Atkins is a worthy ally to the Doctor and Tegan and gets to go on adventure with them to rescue Nyssa. Atkins is a very interesting character in the story and is almost a bit like Jeeves in a way from the P.G. Wodehouse stories. He has some very decent and diligent traits. He shows his bravery and determination to help the Doctor and Tegan. But it's also revealed how he misses Miss Warne, the housekeeper at the hall. He gets to ask questions to the Doctor whilst they're saving Nyssa and stopping Nephthys.

There's a shifty character called Sadam Russell, who is a religious Egyptian fanatic and worships the goddess Nephthys. He's a man with some mysterious motives and determined to serve the goddess no matter what. He's the one who kidnaps Nyssa and takes her away to Ancient Egypt to be mummified. He has the ability to time-travel somehow and is seemingly the `bad guy' of this story. He's worked this long for a hundred years to see Nephthys revived and he even uses Aubrey Prior and his daughter Vanessa in his plans.

One of the characters featured in this novel is Vanessa, daughter of Aubrey Prior who runs Kenilworth Hall in 1996. Vanessa seems like a giddily happy and cheerful girl at first and seems to be engaged to her fiancée; James Norris. She gets to have a party to celebrate her birthday at the Hall when the Doctor, Tegan and Atkins turn up. Vanessa wears a pretty but dangerously sharp ring with a scarab beetle on it. Gradually in the story she becomes strange; steals cobra and gets carried away by mummies. Vanessa is not what she seems as she plays an important part in Nephthy's becoming.

There are lots of links to `Pyramids of Mars' running throughout this story to make this a worthy sequel. As well as Suketh and the mummies, there's also Orion; Orisis and the Eye of Horus which `Doctor Who' fans will find very familiar. It surprised me that Justin Richards didn't do another story with Suketh, but then what do I know about Egyptology and you can't repeat the same story twice with the same villain. There are lots of history lessons of Orisians; Suketh and Nephthys featuring in this story, especially in the prologues and preludes before various chapters. There's also a brief cameo appearance of Professor Marcus Scarman at the end.

The mummies are very effective in this story in being used at the tools for Nephthys and Sadam's work. The organ music being played in the story creates the effect of the mummies' lumbering in the story. I can easily imagine the scene where one of the mummies carries Vanessa away according to the front cover, and where the mummies crush someone to death with their bandaged bodies.

The people who get converted into lifeless servants for Nephthys reminded me of certain thigns from `Pyramids of Mars'. For example the scenes where Nicholas Simons is brought to life after getting killed and eventually kills Margaret reminded me of Professor Scarman killing his brother from that TV story. Also the scene where Vanessa jumps through time in that colourful time vortex was taken from `Pyramids of Mars'.

The story's end took me quite by surprise. Like I said before, I don't want to reveal any spoilers. But there's a twist at the end on how Nephthys; Sadam Russell and the mummies get defeated. Vanessa in the form of Nephthys ages to death when bouncing back and forth from 1926 to 1996. This is because the connection between Nephthys and Nyssa can't be made. Now I'll let you find out what happens in this sequence and it's all down to the Doctor's clever cunning.

I wouldn't mind Big Finish doing an audio adaptation of this story. It certainly would sound great especially with Peter Davison, Janet Fiedling and Sarah Sutton leading the cast as the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa. Sarah would get to play two parts again as Nyssa and Lady Ann Cranleigh in the story. Although I fear Sarah would only appear in Parts One and Four of the story due to the lack of Nyssa appearing throughout. I imagine they would get an Egyptian actor with a strong deep voice to play Sadam Russell. I also imagine that Barnaby Edwards would be chosen as a possible director for this story, since he did an impressive job with 'The Emerald Tiger' for Big Finish.

So `The Sands of Time', whilst not a satisfactory novel with less Nyssa in it is a very enjoyable read. It's a enjoyable sequel to `Pyramids of Mars' and is a well-crafted by writer Justin Richards. This novel got reprinted with a brand new edition this year in 2014 as part of the `Monsters Collection' of novels by BBC Books and features a brand-new introduction by Justin Richards. So if you're looking for an exciting story with Nyssa, it's not in this one. But if you're a fan of `Pyramids of Mars' and `Doctor Who' in general, then I'm sure you'll enjoy reading this one.

The next story for the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan is 'Zeta Major'.
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Cold Fusion (Doctor Who Missing Adventures)
Cold Fusion (Doctor Who Missing Adventures)
by Lance Parkin
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric meet the Doctor, Chris and Roz!, 12 Sept. 2014
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The Fifth Doctor meets the Seventh Doctor at last!

I bought this `Doctor Who' book along with many others during my own winter sale on Amazon over Christmas 2011. I had the intention to read these novels sometime during the year, but somehow couldn't get the chance to after purchasing them. My books waited on my book shelves before I could finally read them.

This year I've recently been on holiday in Scotland in late August/early September. On this holiday, I decided to listen to the new audio adventures of the Fifth Doctor Box Set from Big Finish that I was looking forward to as well as watching the brand new episodes with Peter Capaldi's Doctor on TV. I also had in mind whilst on holiday to read a trilogy of Fifth Doctor novels. This trilogy includes this novel `Cold Fusion' as well as 'The Sands of Time' and 'Goth Opera'. I'm happy to say I've amazingly successful and have read all three novels. I'm hoping this trilogy of novels will soon be turned into a trilogy of brand-new Fifth Doctor audio drama adaptations from Big Finish one day.

I enjoyed reading this novel `Cold Fusion' indeed. This book is one of the Missing Adventures from the Virgin Publishing range of `Doctor Who' novels. It is notable for being a multi-Doctor story featuring two of the classic Doctors - the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy). This is exceptional as it provides a crossover from the Missing Adventures into New Adventures territory that was the home of the Seventh Doctor adventures during the early 1990s that these novels were being published. The book was written by Lance Parkin who would go on to write a number of very good Big Finish audios including 'Primeval' (one of my favourites with the Doctor and Nyssa) and `Davros' (with Terry Molloy).

The story is about the Fifth Doctor with his companions Nyssa, Tegan and Adric arriving on an icy snowy world in the 27th/28th century. It's a human colony world and is a planet dedicated to order and science. But the Fifth Doctor team aren't the only ones on this planet as they also encounter the Seventh Doctor with his companions Chris and Roz (from the New Adventures series). During this adventure, certain Fifth Doctor companions meet certain Seventh Doctor companions as well as the two Doctors meeting each other. They have to save the universe as a threat is occurring involving a mysteriously beautiful lady called Patience; her time machine and ghosts from another universe called the Ferutu.

`Cold Fusion' is unusually constructed as a 6-part adventure (which is how I imagine Big Finish would produce this if it became an audio drama). The book is divided into 18 chapters, with three chapters in each of the six episodes. As one of the Missing Adventure novels, it's presented more of Fifth Doctor adventure rather than a Seventh Doctor adventure. So this would chronically occur before the Seventh Doctor adventures take places, if you follow what I mean. The Seventh Doctor has come in to early in the show's chronology. Wibbly-wobbly; timey-wimey. If Big Finish produced this as an audio, I imagine we'd have the Peter Davison title music rather than the Sylvester McCoy title music.

The story is set between `Castrovalva' and `Four To Doomsday' for the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric. It's also presumably set after `Psychodrome' in that era. This presumably makes `Cold Fusion' the third Fifth Doctor adventure of his era. For the Seventh Doctor, Chris and Roz, this story is set from their perspective between two stories, 'Return of the Living Dad' and 'The Death of Art' during the New Adventures.

I liked some of the theme and the concepts running through this adventure. There's the Scientifica, which is this technocracy dedicated to science and logic. There's this internal conflict of science clashing with magic in this story, especially between the colony's inhabitants. There are also the Adjudicators, who become important in this story as Chris and Roz (the Seventh Doctor's companions) come from this world and were former Adjudicators themselves. There's a sense of law and order going on with the Adjudicators. There are also time travel themes; a sense of an alien invasion and a cold war atmosphere occurring through this story.

I enjoyed reading the Fifth Doctor in this novel. This story occurs in an early point in his life as the Fifth Doctor. He's not long regenerated following his first adventure in 'Castrovalva'. The Doctor's curious about what's going on in this story with the Adjudicators and Scientifica. He gets to share an adventure with Adric at the beginning, until they eventually split up and the Doctor soon bumps into Tegan and has an adventure with her. The Doctor discovers the mysterious lady called Patience (who he and Tegan name from his original designation `The Patient'). There's a connection between him and Patience that I found interesting, and it almost seemed like when reading the story that he was in love with Patience. I like it when he eventually meets up with Doctor Seven in Part 6.

The Seventh Doctor was interesting to read. We don't see much of him apart from the first chapter and later episodes. This is the manipulative, darker Seventh Doctor from the New Adventures series. He seems to know more of what's going on than the Fifth Doctor. He meets Adric, and there's a sense of sadness when he meets him as he knows the boy's future in `Earthshock'. Doctor Seven meets Doctor Five and the two have to work together. Doctor Seven's not entirely happy and rather dismisses Doctor Five. "The entire universe is at stake and I'm locked in here with another incarnation of myself, and not even one of the good ones." The Seventh Doctor knows about the ghost-like Ferutu and manages to trick them in order to defeat them by the end of the story.

I enjoyed reading Nyssa of Traken and what she did in this adventure. There's a connection made to her loss of Traken. I like her first scene with her Doctor in the cloister room. Nyssa spends time with Tegan when they arrive and book in at a hotel on the planet. They meet Chris and Nyssa's the one who spends more time with him. I found the adventure between Nyssa and Chris very appealing and exciting to read. Nyssa gets to show a more `sexy' side when she's with Chris and seems to liken to him somehow through her innocence. Nyssa and Chris have more action scenes in a car and on a freighter and they both go to Chris' apartment where Nyssa massages Chris' injured ankle which was sweet. Both Nyssa and Chris discover the fusion bombs that become important in the story.

I enjoyed reading Tegan as well in this story. This is the Tegan who wants to get back to Heathrow and doesn't want to travel with the Doctor in the earlier part of their travels together. Tegan gets to go to stay at hotel with Nyssa and both encounter Chris who uses the alias Bruce Jovanka. Tegan distrusts Bruce (Chris), and especially dislikes his `phoney' Australian accent and won't accept reason from Nyssa. When Chris tries to charm his way towards her, she throws champagne in his face, calling him a `pervert' and a `sex maniac'. Tegan does gets caught and arrested, but manages to escape from the Adjudicators. She manages to meet up with Doctor and gets to share an adventure with him and Patience. She knocks out Adam, who's a terrorist and manages to save the day.

Adric gets to shares an adventure with his Doctor in this one. Both Adric and the Doctor explore the colony planet and have an encounter with Roz (Seventh Doctor companion) who attacks them. They both meet Medford and Whitfield and get taken to where it happens at Scientifica's operations. Both eventually get condemned as criminals as they discover the Patient (Patience). Soon Adric gets separated from his Doctor and eventually bumps into Roz again. Both Adric and Roz share an adventure together and Adric even gets to wear blue Adjudicator armour according to the book front cover. Adric gets to meet Doctor Seven whilst with Roz, and pretty soon Doctor Five shows up and the four have to save the universe.

For those unfamiliar to the New Adventures series, the Seventh Doctor is joined by his companions Chris Cwej & Roz Forrester. They are both former Adjudicators from the 30th century (much later in the Adjudicator history) and made their first appearance in the New Adventures novel 'Original Sin'. I don't know much about them but I have read Chris and Roz in a New Adventures novel called `Shakedown' with the Sontarans one holiday in Scotland, and am hoping to hear them soon on a Big Finish audio (more later).

Chris Cwej is a charming, muscular, well-built man who travels with the Seventh Doctor. He is a former Adjudicator, likes to charm the ladies and is presumably a bisexual character. He uses the alias `Bruce Jovanka' when Nyssa and Tegan meet him at the hotel they're staying. He puts on a phoney Australian accent that doesn't convince Tegan at all and in fact insults her. He tries to charm his way to Tegan but fails. But he manages to charm his way to Nyssa and wins. He shares an adventure with Nyssa as they both discover the fusion bombs and try to find their Doctor and friends. Chris eventually meets up with Doctor Seven and Roz at end of the story.

Roz Forrester is another former Adjudicator travelling with the Seventh Doctor. She's a black woman who's rough, tough and rather ruthless on her adventures with her Doctor. She gets into a struggle with the Fifth Doctor and Adric when they encounter her. She even kills Falconstock; a member of the Scientifica, very methodically and gets into the place where Whitfield works and even threatens her at one point. She meets up with Adric again and both have an adventure together. They both meet up with the Seven Doctor and soon the Fifth Doctor joins them. Soon Roz, Adric; Doctors Five and Seven have to work together in order to save the universe.

In this story we meet Patience, a beautiful blonde-haired lady who is a Time Lord/Time Lady from Gallifrey. I imagine Patience to be a Virginia Hey character, and I presume Big Finish would cast Virginia Hey to play this character if I'm right. It turns out Patience is the Doctor's wife and there certainly seems to be a close connection between her and Doctor Five. Her descriptions on her blonde beauty are precise right down to her long legs. When the Doctor and Adric find her she's simply referred to as `the Patient' and is a lifeless corpse at first before she regenerates. She gets taken to a hospital for her condition, but sadly gets killed by Medford.

The story's human protagonists in this story are Medford and Whitfield. The names of these characters I'm positive are taken from the names of the characters in the BBC sitcom `Terry and June' by Lance Parkin. This is because at the time Peter Davison's first season as `Doctor Who' was shown, episodes of `Terry and June' with Terry Scott (as `Medford') and June `Whitfield' were also shown afterwards on the Tuesdays of those weeks. I thought this was a nice touch by writer Lance Parkin. In the story, Medford is the Provost-general of the Adjudicators and Whitfield is the Chief Scientist at the Scientifica. It's clear both are in a romantic relationship together, though they try not to show their feelings to each other in public.

The `monsters' in this story are the Ferutu. They are ghost-like beings who appear in our universe from another dimension. These aliens reminded somehow of the ghost-shifts of the David Tennant story `Army of Ghosts'. Why it reminded me of that I've no idea. They seem to be causing a threat to human society and create a reaction from Medford and his Adjudicators who believe they're alien invaders. It turns out the Ferutu are the Lords of Time from another time line and the Seventh Doctor gets to know who they are for himself and go into their world.

I enjoyed reading `Cold Fusion' very much. Although I must say I found the story's end unsatisfying as it felt rather anti-climatic. I wish we could have had more of the two Doctors in scenes together and have them meeting earlier rather than later in the story. I also wish there was more of the companions meeting each others from both Fifth and Seventh Doctor era, or even better have the two Doctors, Nyssa, Tegan, Adric, Chris and Roz as a team altogether in a scene. In the end however, Doctor Five gets knocked out by Roz according to Doctor Seven's instructions, and Doctor Five is just left there whilst Doctor Seven with Chris and Roz transmat out to mark the story's end. It left me unsatisfied and wished the ending could have been better.

But saying that, I did enjoy reading the book very much and it's great one featuring two Doctors and their companions. I would like `Cold Fusion' (as well as `Goth Opera', my favourite Fifth Doctor book) to be turned into an audio drama by Big Finish someday. Certainly the possibility of `Cold Fusion' turned into an audio is very likely. What with Matthew Waterhouse returning as Adric to `Doctor Who' recently for two adventures in 'The Fifth Doctor Box Set'; and with Big Finish doing an audio adaptation of Russell T. Davies' book 'Damaged Goods' that features the Seventh Doctor with Chris and Roz (being played by Travis Oliver and Yasmin Bannerman), the possibility is very likely indeed.

Imagine the cast list on the front cover for the audio adaptation for `Cold Fusion'.

Starring Peter Davison and Sylvester McCoy in 'COLD FUSION' with Janet Fielding; Sarah Sutton; Matthew Waterhouse; Travis Oliver and Yasmin Bannerman

I hope that dream will come true for `Cold Fusion to be turned into an audio drama.

So `Cold Fusion' has been a very good read. It does have a weak conclusion, but apart from that this is a great story where the Fifth Doctor meets the Seventh Doctor during an adventure. It's an intriguing story with lots of things going on in it and certainly with some interesting things for the companions to do. I enjoyed Nyssa's journey with Chris as much as I enjoyed reading Tegan's journey with the Doctor as well as Adric's with Roz. Let's hope we won't have to wait too long before `Cold Fusion' and other books like `Goth Opera' will be turned into audio dramas by Big Finish so that we can hear the stories come to life by the actors.

The next story with the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric is 'Four to Doomsday'.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2014 12:11 AM BST

Doctor Who - 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition [DVD]
Doctor Who - 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matt Smith

8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Davison's 50th Anniversary Special - Celebrating 50 years of 'Doctor Who', 19 Aug. 2014
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This is a review of `The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot' by Peter Davison and other special features.

Check out my Amazon profile for reviews on 'The Name of the Doctor' (in my `Doctor Who - Series 7B' DVD review); 'The Day of the Doctor' (with `The Night of the Doctor'); 'The Time of the Doctor' and 'An Adventure in Space and Time'.


At long last! I get to review `The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot'!

I love `The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot' by Peter Davison! It made the 50th anniversary of `Doctor Who' for me and was such an unexpected and delightful surprise when I watched it on the BBC Red Button channel on the 23rd November 2013 after watching `The Day of the Doctor' and the live `After Party ' on BBC Three. Be warned, you have to watch `The Day of the Doctor' first before watching this.

This is a 30-minute long special. I think it was pretty clear from the outset that it would be impossible to include all the existing Doctors and companions into the 50th anniversary special of `Doctor Who', which is a shame. I wished that wasn't the case, but in the end it was. I discovered that Peter Davison had his own plans for the 50th anniversary of `Doctor Who' when he mentioned it on the CD extras of '1001 Nights' that was released in December 2012. But he said we would have to `wait and see' until we found out what it was he had in mind. I was intrigued and looking forward to whatever it was Peter had in mind for the 50th anniversary.

Come Saturday 23rd November 2013 and I was away in Chichester with my parents at a holiday camp. I watched `The Day of the Doctor' and then the `After Party' came on BBC Three with most of the Doctors and companions in it. When Peter, Colin and Sylvester came in towards the end there was the announcement of Peter's own `50th anniversary special' called `The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot' which he wrote and directed. It was totally a complete and wonderful surprise for me and I managed to get onto watching it on the Red Button Channel straight away. I thoroughly enjoyed `The Five(ish) Doctors' again and again that night and didn't want to go to bed. After I came home from Chichester back to Cardiff, I quickly got onto watching Peter's wonderful spoof special on BBC iPlayer again and again.

I really loved watching `The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot' that made my dream come true and still love watching it to this day. I really wanted this special to come out and have its own DVD release. There didn't seem to be any sign of a DVD release for it for quite a while afterwards. I hoped `The Five(ish) Doctors' wouldn't be forgotten and that it would get its DVD release. Fortunately this year in June 2014, Colin Baker announced at a convention recently that `The Five(ish) Doctors' would be getting a DVD release and I was immensely happy to hear about it. Unfortunately however I discovered it was to go with the `50th anniversary DVD box set' with the other anniversary-related items and come as an extra. I was shocked at this as I believe `The Five(ish) Doctors' should be on its own as a DVD and not come with a box set of other `Doctor Who' anniversary items. I chatted to Colin Baker about it at a convention in Weston-super-Mare recently and we both agreed on the same thing. But at least it's coming out on DVD anyway and I'm sure there will be an individual release for the special if fans ask for it.

`The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot' starts off with Peter Davison spending Christmas Day in 2012 with his real-life sons Louis and Joel watching `The Snowmen' with Matt Smith. After watching it, Peter's sons ask him about the 50th anniversary and whether he's going to appear in it. When learning his sons only want Matt Smith and David Tennant to be in it, realisation dawns upon Peter that he won't take any part in the actual 50th anniversary special. Through a long duration of no phone calls from the `Doctor Who' production office and getting his voicemail messages deleted by Steven Moffat, Peter and two former Doctors Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy set out to `invade' the BBC studios in Cardiff and try to get an appearance in the actual anniversary special.

I chatted to Sarah Sutton who plays Nyssa in `Doctor Who' about `The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot' at a convention in WSM recently in July. Both of us really like the special and I told Sarah how nice it was to see her in it. We talked about the 50th anniversary in general. We both agreed and preferred `The Five(ish) Doctors' than `The Day of the Doctor'. I told her about my Amazon review outlining my likes and dislikes of 'The Day of the Doctor'. I said to Sarah how grateful I am to Peter for doing 'The Five(ish) Doctors' and she said it was a proper anniversary special. Sarah liked it not just it was funny but also because it was poignant (touching) and she's absolutely right. I replied it brought all the Doctors together and mentioned how much I liked that shot of all the companions including Sarah in it (more later). Sarah shared with me about Peter writing notes for ideas on `The Five(ish) Doctors' and she wondered what he was doing and he told her he's got an idea for an anniversary special. Sarah said Peter kept changing it in terms of the writing, and I agreed and understood that since lots of things happen in `The Five(ish Doctors' that would require changing in the making. I enjoyed chatting to Sarah about `The Five(ish) Doctors' and really glad we both liked it.

I got a buzz from watching this special as whilst watching it I recognised some of the locations filmed in it. One of these locations was the Copthrone Hotel in Slough used for the `Doctor Who' convention that Peter attends in March 2013 according to the special (though it was actually filmed in August). How do I know this? Earlier that year in August, I was lucky to be attending the `Doctor Who' charity convention `Project Motor Mouth 2' run by Janet Fielding.

At that convention were many companions as well as Peter Davison in attendance, including Janet Fielding (Tegan); Katy Manning (Jo); Louise Jameson (Leela); Carole Ann Ford (Susan); Deborah Watling (Victoria); Sophie Aldred (Ace); Sarah Sutton (Nyssa); Lalla Ward (Romana); John Leeson (who voiced K-9); Anneke Wills (Polly); Lisa Bowerman (who plays Bernice Summerfield in the Big Finish audios) and Matthew Waterhouse (Adric). Whilst at the convention, we were waiting for the companions to turn up to do the panel talk. But there was a delay as the companions were filming something for Peter's anniversary special. This became `The Caves of Androzani'-type dream sequence where Steven Moffat is haunted by all the companions. I was blissfully unaware of Peter filming his special at Janet's convention at the hotel. But it was a treat worth waiting for.

Also at the convention, they filmed the scene where Peter's signing autographs for fans. I remember while attending the convention we were asked if any one of us had something Tom Bakerish like a scarf or something that could be filmed in the anniversary special by Peter. After watching `The Five(ish) Doctors' I was like, `Shucks! I should have brought my Tom Baker scarf and thought I could have been in it'. Sarah Sutton laughed at that when I told her in WSM and she rightly said my scarf will get the appearance. All I can is that wherever Kourtney with a `K' is, I'm sure she's glad to have got that cameo in Peter's anniversary special even though Peter dismissed her as soon as she asked him a question which was funny.

Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor) is superb and he's my favourite Doctor. This is his show after all since he acted, wrote and directed it. I really like how Peter is gently mocking his own ego as he's anticipating on a phone call from the `Doctor Who' office but not getting anything. I find it funny when Peter is gobsmacked and shocked the receptionist at the Copthrone Hotel in Slough doesn't recognise him when he's checking in. Also when he's making a call to the production office to get to speak to Steven, it's clear he called `yesterday and the day before that' to show his anxiety about wanting to be in the show. I found it funny how his two sons don't take an interest in their dad as he tells him the bad news he won't be in the 50th anniversary special and they just carry on playing their `Doctor Who' video game getting him slightly annoyed. Peter is the one who motives Colin and Sylvester to join him in his campaign to getting an appearance in the anniversary special and that they're doing it `for the fans'. Although it is clear they're doing it for their own egos really, ha, ha. I'm glad I was able to briefly meet Peter first time when he was filming his `Doctor Who' special with Georgia Moffett in Slough.

Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor) is equally good in this, being really funny and getting the comedy timing right. Like Peter, he's waiting for a call and gets annoyed when calling the production office he reacts to them, "What do you mean `Oh no, not another one?'". I especially enjoyed Colin's antagonistic in-joke rivalry between him and Sylvester when chatting about `The Hobbit'. Sylvester keeps going on about `The Hobbit' and Colin goes, "Oh, you in `The Hobbit'? I had no idea!" But Colin also goes on about his appearance in ITV `I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here' which was funny. Although I'm not sure he actually ate `possums' anus on live television' when doing that show. It was great to see Colin's family involved in this special including his wife Marion and his four lovely daughters Lucy; Bindy; Lally and Rosie. I found it extremely funny when Colin got his wife and daughters to watch the special edition DVD of `Vengeance on Varos' and they can't get out of the house. "You're wasting your time! I've locked all the doors!" Having seen Colin recently before `The Five(ish) Doctors', it was fantastic to see him in this especially for the 50th anniversary.

Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor) is really funny in this. Sylvester is currently making `The Hobbit' for Peter Jackson during the events of this story, which was funny as everybody seems to be remembering him for that rather than `Doctor Who'. But Sylvester wants to be involved in the 50th anniversary too, and is a little put-off when directed to voicemail with Steven Moffat. I really found it funny when Sylvester constantly remarks on being in `The Hobbit' to Colin and getting him annoyed. He even annoys Peter as he tells Sylvester to `get his priorities right...' and that this anniversary `is important'. I like how in the story Sylvester is seeming staying in New Zealand to wait to film `The Hobbit' before he decides to `live life dangerously' and travels back to the UK to join Peter and Colin in their campaign. It was so funny when Sylvester quoted or misquoted from `Remembrance of the Daleks', "Every great decision creates ripples..." and Colin telling him to stop it. Likewise having seeing Sylvester at conventions before `Five(ish) Doctors' was equally delightful and I'm pleased he took part in this special with Colin and Sylvester.

Paul McGann (the Eighth Doctor) appears in this too. I'd seen him only recently at a convention in Newcastle before watching this and had only seen him in `The Night of the Doctor'. Seeing Paul was equally delightful, although he only appears in a few scenes when he's with Peter, Colin and Sylvester at the apparently `Four Doctors Convention' I missed, ha, ha. Paul is reading scripts when he's in the relaxation suite with Colin and Sylvester. "He's always reading scripts...and filming. Always filming." He gets a phone call from his agent, and he asks him/her if there's been any news on him appearing in the 50th anniversary special. There's no news, and he's obviously disappointed. He goes to Peter, Colin and Sylvester and agrees to help them in their campaign (`work permitting obviously'). But of course Paul doesn't get to join them at the BBC Television Centre picketing scene as he's apparently got filming commitments. But of course we all know he's gone to film `The Night of the Doctor', so he's covered as far as 50th anniversary special is concerned and didn't tell Peter, Colin and Sylvester, ha, ha.

Tom Baker isn't in this special I'm afraid. I wasn't disappointed with Tom not being in this, since I'd seen him already in that cameo role of `The Day of the Doctor', so he was covered as far as I was concerned. Behind-the-scenes Peter had e-mailed Tom a number of times but got no response. So instead Peter uses the clip from `Shada' that was in 'The Five Doctors' with him punting on the Cann and getting scooped up by the 'Casper' ghost. Tom is voiced by Jon Culshaw (who did a voice for Tom's Doctor in the Big Finish audio `The Kingmaker') and he leaves a message to Peter, Colin and Sylvester about being `stuck in the time vortex (again)!' I found it funny before that when Sylvester suggested they call Tom up to be part of the team and Peter and Colin are appalled. Peter tells Sylvester to call him, though he backs out it very quickly even though it was his idea which was very funny.

David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) appears in this and it was great to see him again after just seeing him in `The Day of the Doctor'. David happens to be Peter's `contact with the Scottish accent and married to his daughter', since he's apparently Peter's son-in-law and married to Georgia Moffett. David gets called by Georgia to do something for her dad in order to stop him calling him again and again, and also to help him get an appearance in the anniversary special. David gets to put a fire extinguisher in the doorway of the fire exit for his father-in-law, Colin and Sylvester to get into the Cardiff studios. David was meant to ask Georgia something on his mobile, though he's forgotten what is and shrugs it off which is funny.

Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor) appears in this as well, although he really appears in Peter's dream early on in the story. As Peter's dreaming coming into the BBC Television Centre to film the 50th anniversary special, he's greeted by Matt who happily welcomes him, "Peter! Peter! Peter, this is such a great honour! Thank you for coming! Thank you so much!" If only that could have happened in real life! Aww!

It was really lovely to see companions both from classic and current series of `Doctor Who' appearing in Peter's 50th anniversary special. Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald) appears in Peter's dream at the beginning, saying how she and her mother always found him to be their `favourite'. Janet Fielding also appears in Peter's dream, although she bluntly tells him `You're dreaming Pete! They're not going to call you! They're not going to call any of you! They don't want you, Pete!" which causes him to wake up and go to `walk the dog', which is funny. And I said before that Steven Moffat dream sequence with all the companions was a highlight for me especially as it was filmed in a `Caves of Androzani' style and I was giddy with delight when spotting Sarah's face in the sequence. It was quite creepy when Matthew's face appears at the end and he shouts his last line from `Earthshock', "Now I'll never know if I was right!" causing Steven to wake up.

John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) also appears in this special too, and I'm sure he was disappointed not being in `The Day of the Doctor' either and glad to be in Peter's special. I found it funny when he walks past Peter at the gates to Television Centre before turning back and telling him, "You know they film in Cardiff, don't you?" This gets Peter really annoyed. But he should have known shouldn't he, since he filmed `Time Crash' there once didn't he? It was funny when Peter, Colin and Sylvester run to John at his car and although out of breath (except Colin funnily) ask for a lift to Cardiff. Although refusing them at first and the three Doctors shockingly discover he's got a secret wife and kids in the car (that didn't' happen I assure you); he readily agrees and leaving his wife and kids behind (which is funny) they set off for Cardiff. Peter, Colin and Sylvester have to endure John's signing on the way to Cardiff, passing over the Severn Bridge, which must have been a nightmare for them and getting signed CD albums of him when they arrive.

When going into the Doctor Who Experience, Peter, Colin and Sylvester exchange their John Barrowman CDs for £45 (which is pretty steep I think) and they get in. Now if you notice, there was a box full of John Barrowman CDs in there, wasn't there? That makes me wonder. There's still half of this story left as companions like Sophie Aldred, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Wendy Padbury could have tried to get in an appearance in `The Day of the Doctor' as well as Peter, Sylvester and Colin. It's just a theory, ha, ha.

Hobbit director Peter Jackson also appears in `The Five(ish) Doctors' as well as Sir Ian McKellen (who plays Gandalf in `The Hobbit'). I was really excited and thrilled to see Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen in this, as I love `The Lord of the Rings' films and am currently enjoying `The Hobbit' films in the cinemas lately. Peter turns out to be a `Doctor Who' fan as Sylvester's mentioned at conventions, so it's great to see him in an anniversary special for `Doctor Who'. In `The Five(ish) Doctors', Peter Jackson in New Zealand discovers their Radagast star Sylvester MccCoy is missing. He goes to tell Ian this on `The Hobbit' set. I laughed when Ian asked, "Sylvester Who?" and Peter replies, "Our little bloke. Bird poo?" This is a reference to the birds' nest in Radagast's wizard hat. Peter tells Ian about Sylvester leaving a note and is now gone and asks if he could do the next scene by himself. Ian thinks `it'll be a slight improvement' which is funny. No wonder Radagast left Gandalf to face the Necromancer in 'The Desolation of Smaug'. Sylvester had already left by the time Ian did the scene himself, ha, ha.

Other guest stars and cameos of actors appearing in this lovely special include Georgia Moffett (Peter's daughter and David Tennant's wife); Niky Wardley (who played Tasmin, the Eighth Doctor's companion in Big Finish); Jemma Churchill (who appeared in the audio `Creatures of Beauty' with Peter); Barnaby Edwards (Dalek operator); Nicholas Pegg (Dalek operator); Nicholas Briggs (Dalek voice); David Troughton (Patrick Troughton's son); Dan Starkey (the Sontarans) and Christian Brassington (who appeared in the audio `The Silver Turk' with Paul McGann).

In the end, it's the three Doctors, Peter, Colin and Sylvester who take centre stage in this story in their adventure to get an appearance in `Doctor Who's 50th anniversary special. I found it really funny when Peter's picketing and Colin and Sylvester leave him to it having tea whilst sitting at the gates of BBC Television Centre, presumably closed by the time they campaign for `No Classics, No 50th' which is pointless.

I really like the filming in Cardiff with places I recognised in the Bay such as the `Doctor Who Experience' which I was in with my best school mate the weekend before the 50th anniversary. Going inside the Experience with the Melkur and the Doctor's costumes was all familiar, especially when the three Doctors go into the TARDIS. I found it funny when Peter excitedly goes in the blue box and Colin and Sylvester are utterly bewildered before they realise it's an ordinary police box. Peter hoped it'd be the real TARDIS as he flew it before to get him to LA when he did a video for it at the Doctor Who convention `Gallifrey' in the USA. It was funny when Peter, Colin and Sylvester are all snug inside the police box. "You are really from another planet, do you know that?" Colin remarks before Peter goes, "This is not the real TARDIS" and Sylvester goes, "I like to go home now," which is very funny. They steal their Doctor Who costumes from the Experience to get into the 50th anniversary special.

They also filmed the special at the Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff when they were making `The Day of the Doctor' with David Tennant, Matt Smith and John Hurt. I must go to those studios and see if I can get in to have an appearance in a `Doctor Who' episode, ha, ha. I really found it funny when they walk in and new series music is played compared 80s style music is played outside. I found the scene funny when the three Doctors are in the new TARDIS and they remark on how too busy and too energetic is with the too many steps; the `helicopter' ceiling; low lights compared to bright and less wobbly sets. It reflects on how much has changed in `Doctor Who' in terms of set design and effects. Also the scenes when the three Doctors get into the special by posing as the three Daleks for Scene #19 were really funny. The scenes where Peter, Colin and Sylvester get chased by security guards after being discovered were also exciting and funny to watch. It was all worth it in the end and Peter, Colin and Sylvester celebrate with champagne before getting on the bus to go home in a tiddly state which was a sweet lovely moment.

Steven Moffat appears in this special as the story's villain. He appears in Peter's dream at first, as he dedicates his 50th anniversary script to him. If only that could have happened! But Steven isn't interested in the classic Doctors during this story as he keeps avoiding talking to them on the phone and always deletes their voicemail messages. I found some of the voicemail messages Peter, Colin and Sylvester very funny as Peter suggests `using his celery antidote to save Matt' and Colin suggests `the TARDIS landing in the jungle, exactly where he's filming (I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here') (No Colin, you've already done that remember?) and Sylvester suggests `Who meets the Hobbit and appearing in it twice'). Steven disregards these messages, especially when a Cyberman voice on his phone goes `Doctors deleted' which was unexpected and got him baffled. Steven does having his own style of writing stories as he plays with two figures in his own office which is amusing. Of course it would be cruel to think Steven is really the villain in real life as he approves of Peter's special, saying it solved him a problem and he became the executive producer on it apparently.

And of course it wouldn't be a proper 50th anniversary without featuring Russell T. Davies. Yes that's right. Russell T! Russell `The' Davies! Ha, funny. In the climax of the special, Russell calls Peter on his mobile and asks if he could appear in the 50th anniversary special he's making. And of course Russell does appear in this special despite Peter deleting his 20 minute long message, which was a little mean I thought in the story. Russell comes up with ideas on how he can appear. I really love the ideas Russell suggests such as his own catchphrase `Que dommage, Davros!' and having sonic beams out of his eyes instead of the sonic screwdriver which is interesting. It's great to see Russell in this special by Peter, as of course there wouldn't be a 50th anniversary without the man himself - Russell T.

So the question is, did Peter, Colin and Sylvester really appear in `The Day of the Doctor' at all in the end? Well it depends on your perspective, doesn't it? In the story Peter, Colin and Sylvester managed to get to be in two scenes; one as three Daleks, the other as Zygons. One of these scenes gets deleted, the other left in. I'll let you find out which one of these scenes it is. All I can say is, I look at `The Day of the Doctor' when I watch it compared to the first time I saw it.

Many have said on the Internet that there's going to be a sequel to `The Five(ish Doctors Reboot'. Paul McGann certainly said there was a sequel and it was already in production. Recently Colin has dismissed this notion in discussion with Peter, saying that there's no ground or basis for it to be made to make it exciting. Though if there was sequel made to `The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot' I wouldn't at all be surprise and would gladly welcome it. I know Sarah Sutton and Mark Strickson would like to be in it if there was a sequel after hearing them at the recent convention in WSM. I wouldn't mind appearing it myself as I would like to have a scene with Sarah Sutton and Peter Davison where Peter runs past whilst I'm chatting to Sarah or something. That'll be nice that. It may never happen though. Ha, ha.

I really did enjoy watching `The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot' when I first saw it on that very anniversary night on the Red Button channel. This is a wonderful funny comedy spoof written and directed by Peter Davison. It filled in the party-feel of `The Five Doctors' that I wanted from that anniversary year and gave it a real sense of nostalgia, even though it's not the actual anniversary special. It's a story about three grumpy old men who want to take part in the 50th anniversary special. I love how this gently mocks the real-life scenario of 'Doctor Who' both classic and new and how the actors can parody and take the mick on themselves. The thing about this anniversary special is that I knew or met many of the actors who appear in it. So it's great to watch people like Peter, Colin, Sylvester, Paul, Sarah and many others who I've met and seen at conventions or just happy to see people who have appeared in many episodes of `Doctor Who' as well as those who've worked behind-the-scenes.


The other special features in this 50th anniversary box include the following.

There's `The Doctor Who Proms' that was performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London in the summer to celebrate `Doctor Who's' 50th anniversary. I really enjoyed watching this when they showed it on TV afterwards and it's hosted by Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman as well as Madam Vastra (Neve McIntosh) and Commander Strax (Dan Starkey). There's also guest appearances from Peter Davison who introduces the classic era music suite of `Doctor Who' compiled by Peter Howell and Mark Ayres which I enjoyed, and also Carole Ann Ford who introduces the final music suite from `The Name of the Doctor'.

There's also `The Day of the Doctor Read-Through' featured on this DVD. This I know little, but I'm sure it's an interesting feature in the box set DVD where Matt Smith and David Tennant are reading the script with other cast and crew members before going onto making `The Day of the Doctor'.

There's `The Science of Doctor Who' that is a televised lecture documentary featuring scientist Professor Brian Cox who talks about the science of the show. It was shown on BBC2 the night before the `The Day of the Doctor', and I'm afraid I lost interest due to it being so technical and scientific. But there are some interesting clips with Matt Smith and Brian Cox in the TARDIS seeing the Silence on the view screen which I'm sure you'll enjoy.

And there's `Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide', which was shown in the week before the actual 50th anniversary day. This is an hour-long documentary programme covering all the eras of `Doctor Who' from William Hartnell to Matt Smith up to the present day. This wasn't long enough for me as it didn't cover everything from each other. Nyssa certainly wasn't featured as Sarah Sutton wasn't interviewed either which annoyed me slightly. But it's an interesting hand-to-hand guide to the world of `Doctor Who' for newcomers especially, even though some of the comments and remarks from some of the celebrities made me cringe. It was great seeing Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, David Tennant and many other actors from `Doctor Who' being interviewed. There are also some nice drama scenes between the Doctor and Clara (played by Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman) at the beginning and end of the guide.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 5, 2014 2:47 PM BST

An Adventure in Space and Time [DVD]
An Adventure in Space and Time [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Bradley
Price: £6.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Origins of a TV Series - Celebrating 50 years of `Doctor Who', 19 Aug. 2014
This review is for Timelord007 who is a huge `Doctor Who' fan.

"One day I shall come back! Yes, I shall come back!", William Hartnell the First Doctor, `The Dalek Invasion of Earth'

This is a lovely and touching tribute to the people who made `Doctor Who' possible including the magnificent William Hartnell.

This is `An Adventure in Space and Time'! A docu-drama shown on BBC2 on Thursday 21st November 2013 to celebrate 50 years of `Doctor Who'. I watched this very special drama on that night it was shown, and really enjoyed seeing how the history of `Doctor Who's' creation was dramatized before my eyes. It's beautifully written and wonderfully produced by Mark Gattis that left me in tears after I first saw it. It still has me in tears after watching it recently.

Mark Gattis is well known to `Doctor Who' fans for being a writer of many novels, audios and TV episodes of `Doctor Who' as well as playing Professor Lazarus in `The Lazarus Experiment'. It turns out Mark Gattis has been trying to get a commemorative docu-drama on the origins of `Doctor Who' for over 10 years. He proposed the idea to the BBC back in 2003 when `Doctor Who' celebrated its 40th anniversary. But it didn't come about as the BBC weren't interested and `Doctor Who' wasn't on TV at the time. Now for the 50th anniversary, Mark put forward his idea again that was readily accepted by BBC. With the go-ahead, Mark was about to write and produce the drama and the result is a wonderful nostalgic trip back in time to see the history of how it all began with `Doctor Who' back in 1963.

I was aware already of the origins of `Doctor Who' and how it was created behind-the-scenes with numerous people involved such as Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert. They were determined in the `Doctor Who: Origins' documentary from the 'The Beginning' DVD box set. I also discovered more behind-the-scenes information about William Hartnell's tenure in other documentaries including the `The End of the Line' documentary on 'The Gunfighters' DVD. But this is the first time that the behind-the-scenes `Doctor Who' has been dramatized and for the 50th anniversary it's very appropriate to tribute to those who made this show possible with such love and nostalgic to it. It's a great drama. I wish though that they made this into black-and-white instead of colour as it would have made it more authentic and like 1960s television.

`An Adventure In Space and Time' begins with a prologue scene in 1966, where William Hartnell is on his last day making 'The Tenth Planet', the last story of his tenure in `Doctor Who'. Saddened and heartbroken about leaving, Bill Hartnell has his life flashing before his eyes as we're taken back via the TARDIS year-o-meter to 1963 where it all started.

The story of how `Doctor Who' was created begins with Sydney Newman, the brand-new Head of Drama at the BBC. He comes up with an idea for a science-fiction children's show to be broadcast on Saturdays in-between `Grandstand' and `Juke Box Jury'. He calls up Verity Lambert, a former production assistant to help him with making this brand-new show by promoting her to be producer of the series. Verity takes the challenge, and with the help of director Waris Hussein, they make `Doctor Who'. They cast William Hartnell as the Doctor, and through rocky and false starts fraught with production problems, they make something really special.

This is definitely a nostalgic tribute to the 1960s at the BBC as well as to William Hartnell and `Doctor Who'. I was really impressed by how Mark Gattis dramatizes the origins story and imbues it with such love and heartfelt dedication that is brought to life by the actors through emotion and warmth. This is a story about how a successful TV show was created and how the producers and director struggled against immense pressure to make this show work. It was a period of rocky starts and fraught with production problems such as the troubled making of the pilot episode which had to be re-shot at the insistence of Sydney Newman who didn't like what was in it including the abrasive Doctor and 49th century reference. There was also the assassination of President J.F. Kennedy that was announced before the first episode of `Doctor Who' was shown that was repeated again the following week to give the show another chance. And then there was the Daleks, who despite Sydney Newman's veto on them saying no robots or BEM (bug-eyed monsters), were the monsters that made the success of what `Doctor Who' becomes today.

I really like some of the behind-the-scenes making aspects of the story that would definitely please fans. As well as featuring the Daleks from the first Dalek story in this drama, there's also the Menoptra from 'The Web Planet' and the first Cybermen from 'The Tenth Planet' that was a delight to see. Although it was quite a shock to see a Cyberman smoking a cigarette on set. There's lots of 60s people smoking in this drama including William Hartnell. It was also delightful to seeing the actors in the drama making the classic Who stories during the William Hartnell days such as 'Marco Polo', 'The Reign of Terror' and classic scenes from 'The Dalek Invasion Of Earth' including the Daleks parading over Westminster Bridge. Also spectacular was seeing the original 1960s TARDIS set, built especially for this commemorative docu-drama.

The cast of this docu-drama includes David Bradley playing William Hartnell. I've seen David before in a BBC production of `Our Mutual Friend' by Charles Dickens, where he acted alongside two other `Doctor Who' actors including Paul McGann and David Morrisey. He was also in the `Harry Potter' films and has appeared in `Doctor Who' with Matt Smith in the story `Dinosaurs on a Spaceship' as well as doing the Shansheeth voices in `The Sarah Jane Adventures' story `Death of the Doctor'.

David is brilliant as William Hartnell in this, looking and sounding like him! I was terribly impressed with David's performance as Bill Hartnell. There's a moment when he's holding his lapels and having his eyes wide open like William Hartnell does when he's being persuaded by Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein to play the part of `Doctor Who'. I really like how Hartnell's career is touched since with being fed up of playing sergeant-majors and tough roles in movies, he's given the chance to play a children's hero on TV. And it's really terrific when David performs those scenes depicting Bill Hartnell really loving the job playing the Doctor. There's a scene when Bill Hartnell gets to sign an autograph for a boy fan in the park that was really sweet and touching and also when he plays with children in the park who love him being the Doctor in the series. But there's also the irascible side of Bill Hartnell that's touched upon, especially when he fluffs on his lines or when he doesn't get on with fellow actors or directors in the show. There's one point where he gets really annoyed when things don't go right with the TARDIS set not working and he has to do it himself. It's exactly what would have happened back in the 60s with Bill Hartnell playing `Doctor Who' and David Bradley does those scenes really well. One wishes David could have played the First Doctor for `The Five Doctors' back in 1983 for the 20th anniversary.

There's also Jessica Raine playing Verity Lambert, `Doctor Who's first producer. Jessica is well known for the TV series `Call The Midwife' and has appeared in `Doctor Who' with Matt Smith in the story called `Hide'. Jessica does a remarkable job playing Verity, who is a woman struggling in a man's world that becomes a female producer. Verity is promoted by Sydney Newman to make this show work, and she's a strong person getting through the pressures put on her with the help of director Waris Hussein. I really like how Verity asserts herself in this drama in getting designer Peter Brachacki to make the TARDIS for her; as well as standing up to Sydney Newman at times. Verity is the one who makes her case about putting the Daleks forward and saying they're not `bug-eyed monsters'. She's also the one who demands a repeat on the first episode of `An Unearthly Child' before the second due to the assassination of President Kennedy. Verity is someone that Bill Hartnell sees as his rock and really likes during the making of this show since she cast him and had faith in him from the start. It's a sad moment when during the story, Verity leaves the series to pastures new and Bill is saddened by her going.

Sacha Dhawan appears in this drama playing Waris Hussein, the first `Doctor Who' director. I really like how Sacha plays Waris in this special drama. He plays Waris as someone who doesn't know what to do when he gets the scripts of the `cavemen' story and is appalled and shocked by what he's got to do to film the story at Lime Grove Studio D, the worst studio in the BBC according to him. Waris says `it'll never work' but with persuasion and encouragement from Verity is willing to make a start and go forward with making this work. You could really feel the pressure that Waris must have gone through when making the pilot episode under appalling conditions in Lime Grove Studio D, and Sacha portrays those scenes really well and convincingly. I like it when Verity and Waris share scenes together in becoming friends as well as work colleagues to make the show work and how they convince William Hartnell to accept the part of the Doctor. It was a delightful moment when Verity and Waris cheer their victory of winning 10 million viewers from `Doctor Who's first Dalek story.

There's also Brian Cox playing Sydney Newman, the BBC's Head of Drama and the man who came up with the idea of `Doctor Who' in the first place. I've seen Brian Cox before when he played Striker in `X-Men 2' and he did the voice of the Ood Elder in the David Tennant story `The End of Time'. Brian plays Sydney very convincingly and authentically as the man who comes up with terrific ideas and gets people like Verity to make them work for him. He promotes Verity to be producer having confidence in her, and is very blunt pushing her forward to making assertive decisions about producing. I like that scene when he meets William Hartnell during rehearsals. Sydney disapproves of the pilot episode of `Doctor Who' and takes Verity and Waris out to lunch at a Chinese restaurant to tell them to make it again with changes. Sydney also disapproves of the Daleks and is persuaded by Verity to go ahead with them since she believes it's good strong stuff. I like that scene when Sydney calls Verity into his office and he tells her they got 10 million viewers on the first `Dalek' story and he says "Well done, kid!" which is a lovely moment.

Lesley Manville plays Heather, William Hartnell's wife in the drama. I really like how William Hartnell's family life is touched upon and that Heather and his granddaughter Judith `Jessica' Carney bring the personal touch and heart of this drama. Heather is concerned for her husband when he's out of work from the start, and is pleased when he's called to do a leading part in a children's TV series. She's delighted when he becomes a success with `Doctor Who'. I like the scene where Heather comforts her husband that the first episode of `Doctor Who' is really good despite the news of Kennedy's assassination beforehand and the scenes where they're both in the park and Bill's getting fan attention from kids. But Heather also shows concern for Bill as during the story he goes through ill health and has problems remembering his life and gets sick during the night. Heather tries to talk to Verity about Bill Hartnell's condition on the hardening of the arteries and asking for the workload to be reduced despite at that point Verity is about to leave the producer's chair to John Wiles, her successor. It's clear that Heather is concern for her husband, and doesn't want to make him leave the series since he enjoys `Doctor Who' so much.

The rest of the cast playing `Doctor Who' actors include the three companions with William Hartnell at the beginning. There's Jamie Glover (Julian Glover's son) as William Russell playing Ian Chesterton; Jemma Powell as Jacqueline Hill playing Barbara Wright and Claudia Grant as Carole Ann Ford playing Susan Foreman. There are also brief cameos of actors playing companions in `Doctor Who' during the press call photo shoots with William Hartnell. These include Anna-Lisa Drew as Maureen O'Brien playing Vicki; Edmund C Short as Peter Purves playing Steven Taylor; Sophie Holt as Jackie Lane playing Dodo Chaplet; Robin Varley as Michael Craze playing Ben Jackson and Ellie Spicer as Anneke Wills playing Polly. I like how press call photos with Bill Hartnell and companions is depicted as through the years of his tenure, it starts from how happy he is to how sad he is towards the end. There's also Nicholas Briggs playing Peter Hawkins who did the original voice of the Daleks in the 60s. See if you can spot him during a certain scene when the cast and crew are making the first Dalek story.

There also actors playing behind-the-scenes personnel at the BBC in the drama. There's Jeff Rawle as Mervyn Pinfield, `Doctor Who's associate producer (who appeared in `Doctor Who' before in `Frontios' with Peter Davison as well as `The Sarah Jane Adventures' in the story `Mona Lisa's Revenge'). There's Ian Hallard as Richard Martin, director on `The Daleks' and `The Daleks' Master Plan' (who done a number of Big Finish audios of `Doctor Who' including `Primeval' and `The Company of Friends'). There's also Andrew Woodall as Rex Tucker, a BBC director who takes a dislike to Verity Lambert and walks out; Sam Hoare as Douglas Camfield, a classic director working on the show and Mark Eden (who played Marco Polo in `Doctor Who') as Donald Baverstock, controller of BBC1, who tells Sydney Newman to `kill Doctor Who'.

There's also cameos and small appearance from real `Doctor Who' stars in this special drama. There's William Russell playing Harry, a car park attendant at the BBC; Carole Ann Ford as Joyce, a woman in the street; and attending Verity's leaving party there's Jean Marsh (who played Sara Kingdom in `The Daleks' Master Plan'); Anneke Wills and Donald Tosh (`Doctor Who's' script editor for season 3). There's also Toby Hadoke who plays a Bartender at the BBC bar.

It was nice to set some of the drama filmed at the BBC Television Centre in London before it closed down. This is after all where it started with `Doctor Who' and it's such a tribute to a place where many classic Who stories were filmed, especially the ones with William Hartnell back in the early 60s.

As the story approaches its conclusion, Bill Hartnell ill health is depicted as he's getting flat out from the busy work schedule and his bad-temper is growing worse. It's so sad and heart-breaking to see scenes where Hartnell's not as happy and is finding too much with the workload and his declining health. The BBC producers including Sydney Newman see that too and consider what to do as they can't have ``Doctor Who' without `Doctor Who' can they?'.

There's a really heart-breaking scene where Bill Hartnell meets Sydney Newman is in his office and Sydney is telling Bill about their new plans to `regenerate' the show. Sydney tells Bill that they want to go on with `Doctor Who' but not with him. Bill is heart-broken and the scene is beautifully played between David Bradley and Brian Cox in it. Sydney tells Bill who they've got in mind to replace him with as the Doctor, and Bill approves as they've chosen Patrick Troughton and says they've made a right choice. It's a very sad scene to watch as by mutual consent Bill agrees to give up the role he's enjoyed playing for three years.

The scene where Bill Hartnell comes home to tell his wife Heather what's happened in his meeting with Sydney is equally heart-breaking. Bill is accepting of his decision to leave, but it's also clear that he was reportedly heartbroken. In the scene, Bill breaks down in tears saying, "I don't want to go' and it a really moving scene especially when Heather comforts him. I was in tears when I saw this scene as David Bradley really does that scene well with Bill becoming deeply upset about leaving `Doctor Who'.

We then return to the making of `The Tenth Planet', where Bill Hartnell is about to do his final scene and meets Patrick Troughton (played by Reece Shearsmith). I found the meeting between these two men really lovely and charming as Patrick is so humble towards Bill Hartnell. Patrick tells Bill that he's `scared stiff', but Bill reassures him saying he'll be alright. I'm sure that's what would have happened back in 1966 when those two men did meet.

Then we have a final moment which I did not expect to see as when Bill's at the TARDIS console ready to film his last scene, he looks up and sees Matt Smith before him. Matt Smith played the Eleventh Doctor, the current Doctor at the show's 50th anniversary. It's a lovely moment where the two Doctors look at each other and smile without saying a word, as it acknowledges and is telling Bill Hartnell that the show still carries on after 50 years and it's all down to him and he is never forgotten. It was another moment that had me bursting into tears and was such a sweet moment.

We then have some words of tribute given to the real Sydney Newman, Verity Lambert, Waris Hussein and William Hartnell who made the show possible to be here today before we see some actual footage of William Hartnell making that famous speech to Susan from `The Daleks' Master Plan' where he says "One day I shall come back! Yes I shall come back!" It's a lovely way to tribute to William Hartnell and end the special drama before coming to the end credits.

The special features on the DVD for `An Adventure In Time and Space' include the following.

There's `William Hartnell: The Original' which was a special touching featurette show after `An Adventure In Space and Time' was shown on BBC2. It features some original footage of William Hartnell being interviewed as well as featuring statements from people who knew him such as Jessica Carney (William Hartnell's granddaughter); Carole Ann Ford; William Russell; the real Waris Hussein and Peter Purves; and also from people such as Terrance Dicks (`Doctor Who's script editor during the 70s); Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor); Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor) as well as David Bradley who played William Hartnell and Mark Gattis who wrote and produced `An Adventure In Space and Time'.

There's also `The Making of An Adventure' which is a documentary focusing on the behind-the-scenes making of `An Adventure in Space and Time'. This is narrated by the real Carole Ann Ford who played Susan; and includes interviews with David Bradley; Jessica Raine; Sacha Dhawan; Brian Cox; the real Waris Hussien; the real William Russell; Mark Gattis, etc.

There's also `Reconstructions' on scenes from some of the `Doctor Who' stories that I enjoyed such as scenes from `An Unearthly Child' and the original pilot. Watching David Bradley (as William Hartnell/The Doctor); Jamie Glover (as William Russell/Ian Chesteron); Jemma Powell (as Jacqueline Hill/Barbara Wright) and Claudia Grant (Carole Ann Ford/Susan Foreman) in those reconstructed scenes from the original episodes was so surreal and so exciting that it made want to see `An Unearthly Child' reconstructed in full with those four actors playing those characters again. There's also a reconstructed `Regenerations' scene from `The Tenth Planet' of William Hartnell (David Bradley) into Patrick Troughton (Reece Shearsmith) into surprisingly Jon Pertwee (Mark Gatiss). There's also the reconstructed `Farewell to Susan' from `The Dalek Invasion of Earth' and the `Festive Greeting' from `The Daleks' Master Plan'.

There are title sequences to watch from the original `Doctor Who' series in 1963 as well as `An Adventure in Space and Time' and two deleted scenes cut out from the story.

`An Adventure in Space and Time' is a wonderful and touching tribute to `Doctor Who's' 50th anniversary as this docu-drama is a brilliant dramatization of how `Doctor Who' was made. I like to thank Mark Gattis for coming up with this wonderful drama. But it's also important to thank the original contributors to the show like William Hartnell and Verity Lambert, as it wouldn't be for them that this drama would be made as well as for `Doctor Who' lasting for 50 years.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 20, 2014 6:51 PM BST

Prisoners of Fate (Doctor Who)
Prisoners of Fate (Doctor Who)
by Jonathan Morris
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nyssa reunites with her son!, 19 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an emotionally powerful story!

When Sarah Sutton, who plays Nyssa in this story, asked me to explain the plot of `Prisoners of Fate' to her at a convention in Swansea, I wasn't able to explain it to her properly. I hope in this review, I'll be able to the plot of `Prisoners of Fate' clearly, and it'll help like Sarah to understand it in case she reads this review. I was emotionally drained from listening to this story. I'll try and explain the plot as best I can, but be warned! As Amy Pond would say, "This is where it gets complicated..."

`Prisoners of Fate' is the latest of the Fifth Doctor; Nyssa; Tegan and Turlough adventures in `Doctor Who' from Big Finish. You will need to listen to previous stories before this, starting with 'Cobwebs'. I'm a huge fan of Nyssa and I was both happy and sad from listening to this story - two emotions existing `twice over' like a paradox. The story is so cleverly written and well performed by the cast that it's hard for it not to be...possibly one of the best stories of the Peter Davison.

The story is about Nyssa's son, Adric, who believed her mother died during her mission to Helheim in `Cobwebs'. 25 years later, Adric is continuing to find the cure to Richter's Syndrome. He works on the penal colony Valderon to find the cure. When the TARDIS arrives on Valderon with the Doctor; Tegan; Turlough and Nyssa, the scene is set for a painful reunion. But there's a terrible danger lurking deep underground, as the past catches up not only with Nyssa but also with the Doctor.

This four-part story is by Jonathan Morris, who is the best writer for Sarah Sutton's Nyssa in my opinion. Jonny has written some classic stories in the `Doctor Who' audio range. I've had the pleasure of meeting him in Tunbridge Wells, 2013. There are lots of time-traveling themes running throughout this story and I'm impressed with Jonny's usage of the timey-wimey stuff in his story. He injects a great deal of emotion and character drama throughout, certainly in the case of Nyssa.

I've had the CD cover of `Prisoners of Fate' signed by lovely Sarah Sutton at a convention in Slough, 2013. I'm a huge fan of Sarah as she's my favourite `Doctor Who' companion. I really love Sarah in this as she gives one of her best performances as Nyssa. I chatted to Sarah about this story both at Slough and at a convention in Swansea. I told her how emotionally wrought and that I was crying at the end of the story as it was really sad and she agreed.

I wondered whether we would get a story about Nyssa's background and a good pay-off. There are resolutions and continuity threads in this story including the Richter's Syndrone arch that started in 'Cobwebs' and the cure deteriorating from 'Rat Trap'. There's also the resolution to Nyssa's family as we get to meet Adric Traken, Nyssa's son, mentioned in 'Heroes of Sontar'; and references to Nyssa's daughter Neeka and her husband Lasarti as appeared in 'Circular Time - Winter'.

In the story, Adric Traken sees her mother on the security monitors and believes she's the Nyssa from before 'Terminus' since she looks younger when travelling with the Doctor. But this is Nyssa after `Terminus' in the space of 50 years. The reason why Nyssa looks so young is because she rejuvenated in the story 'The Emerald Tiger'. This makes things pretty complicated and heart-breaking when Adric reunites with her mother.

Nyssa goes through an emotional journey as she's reunited with her son after missing 25 years of her life. If you think Rose missing a year is bad enough, imagine Nyssa missing 25 years. When Nyssa sees her son, it's a really heart-wrenching scene. Because of her missing, Nyssa's daughter Neeka has been infected with Richter's disease and her husband Lasarti died of a broken heart. It broke my heart as well as Nyssa's as she sobs through her apologies to Adric in that gut-wrenching moment.

This story features a great cast! Alistair MacKenzie plays Adric Traken, Nyssa's son. I know Alistair for playing Archie MacDonald in 'Monarch Of The Glen', a BBC drama series set in Scotland. I hoped Alistair would do one of these `Doctor Who' audios. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found out he was in this. I chatted to Sarah about Alistair and she's seen `Monarch of the Glen' too. I thanked Ken Bentley the director in Swansea for casting Alistair MacKenzie in `Prisoners of Fate'.

Adric is performed brilliantly by Alistair. Adric was a young boy when told about her mother's adventures with the Doctor. At 15, he was devastated when told her mother was dead. 25 years later, Adric tries to find the cure to Richter's Syndrome. When seeing her mother again, he uses the alias `Galen' to disguise himself. When he discovers the truth, it's a painful reunion and the scenes between Sarah and Alistair as Nyssa and Adric are very impressive.

I had already met Sarah Douglas at a convention in Glasgow 2012. I know Sarah for playing Ursa in the `Superman' movies with Christopher Reeve. I enjoyed meeting Sarah and shared how much I enjoyed seeing her in 'Superman II'. She and Sarah share the same birthday which is interesting. It was great meeting Sarah Douglas in Glasgow, and little did I know she would go on to appear in a `Doctor Who' audio with Sarah and Peter afterwards the following year.

Sarah Douglas plays Sibor, the Prime Elector on the penal colony of Valderon. She greets the Doctor, and company when they arrive. Sibor is a ruthless, political person who relies on the mysterious Chronoscope that predicts the future and sentences people for their premediated crimes before they commit them. Sibor shows no mercy and is pretty ambitious in her political campaign especially when arresting Adric and his assistant Mahandra on finding the cure for Richter's Syndrome.

The Doctor's past catches up with him, as he finds Sibor's Chronoscope to be a TARDIS. This turns out to be his first TARDIS - his Type-50 - which the Doctor didn't take when he and Susan escaped Gallifrey as he took the Type-40 at the insistence of Clara Oswald ('The Name of the Doctor'). The Type-50 is bitter and vengeful as she escaped Gallifrey and ended up on Valderon. She manipulates and changes history with Nyssa to create a paradox and get back at the Doctor for abandoning her.

This story ended on a cliff-hanger which I was upset about. The Richter's Syndrome story arc is concluded, but Nyssa doesn't re-join Adric as they share a fond farewell before promising to meet each other again. Adric narrates the end of the story and says something really shocking that got me upset and made want to what happens next at the end of the story. I really hope Big Finish won't end Nyssa's story there and that she gets to see her son again sometime in the future.

The CD extras include the following. On Disc 1, there's a suite of incidental music; on Disc 2 there's a trailer for the Sylvester McCoy story called `Persuasion'; and there are some behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. These include director Ken Bentley, writer Jonathan Morris, Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Alistair MacKenzie, etc. This was the first time I heard Alistair's voice properly in an interview, and was delighted that he sounds just the same as he did in `Monarch of the Glen'.

`Prisoners of Fate' is definitely a brilliant `Doctor Who' audio adventure! It's one of my favourite Nyssa stories cleverly written by Jonny Morris and features a great performance from Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. I hope this won't be the end for the older Nyssa as I don't want her to walk off into the sunset and never be heard of again. It'd be nice to know what happened to Nyssa and to hear Alistair Mackenzie as Adric again. Sarah agreed with me on that.

The next story for the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough is 'Mistfall'.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2015 8:13 PM GMT

Energy of the Daleks (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
Energy of the Daleks (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
by Nicholas Briggs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £8.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leela meets the Daleks!, 18 Aug. 2014
The Daleks are back! Tom Baker's Doctor fights them again!

I was excited by the announcement of these new Fourth Doctor adventures from Big Finish. I was equally excited when discovering in the first season with Leela, the Doctor would be facing the Daleks again. This is a real treat as it wouldn't be worth Tom Baker's return to `Doctor Who' in Big Finish without facing the Daleks again. Also this is the first time Leela gets to meet the Daleks, and I was really looking forward to listening to this audio adventure where the Doctor and Leela face the Daleks in the same adventure.

Of course Tom Baker's Doctor has already met the Daleks before on TV in the stories 'Genesis of the Daleks' and 'Destiny of the Daleks'. `Genesis of the Daleks' is a classic story and one of my favourites from the Tom Baker era. Although the Doctor faced the Daleks with their creator Davros in both stories, so it was refreshing to have the Daleks on their own and with their owns plan at their cunning and evil best. This was the first story Tom Baker recorded for Big Finish as the Doctor and it's a cracking good one.

This is a two-part story by Nicholas Briggs who writes, directs and does the voices of the Daleks at the same time. Even for two episodes it kept me hooked all the way through as it's an exciting romp of an adventure with the Doctor and Leela..

The story is about the Doctor taking to Leela to Earth in the TARDIS where he hopes they'll end up in London in the year 2015. But instead they end up in London, 2025. London society of this period is where people are more Internet-obsessed than ever before and where an energy crisis takes place. There are protests against the The GlobeSphere Corporation who intend to resolve the energy crisis with solar panels that could produce disastrous results. But behind all this is a devious plot designed by the Daleks who intend to absorb power for their time ship underneath the National Gallery. As the Doctor says, "What are you up to, you Daleks?! What can you possibly hope to achieve?!"

I've had the CD cover for this story signed by lovely Louise Jameson who plays Leela in `Doctor Who', when I met her at a convention n Tunbridge Wells last year in March 2013 along with 'Destination: Nerva'. As I'm sure I said this before, Louise is a really lovely, warm-hearted person that I'm glad to have met. She puts a lot of thought and energy into the character of Leela and is really enjoying the extended area Big Finish are providing in these audio adventures. It's great to hear Leela meeting the Daleks for the first time in this story, and as I discovered Louise had wanted to work with the Daleks in the TV series but never got the chance. Now Leela's finally met them. Who knows, maybe Leela will meet the Cybermen next.

Leela gets to wear new clothes as well as new shoes in this story, although she prefers the trainers rather than the high heels which she finds uncomfortable. I found it funny when the Doctor remarks her `standing on her Janis thorns'. Leela's fascinated by this Internet culture of 2025 and is inquisitive about what's going on with the energy crisis and the protests. Leela stands up to the Daleks and defies them, even when she's going through the torture and process of being robotised as a Roboman (Robowoman) or when she's interrogated by the Daleks. I like it when Leela retorts saying to the Daleks that the Doctor will `exterminate' them before they can exterminate him. Leela shows she's not afraid of the Daleks even when they're intimidating which is exactly how I expected her to behave when reacting to the Daleks first time.

Tom Baker is superb as the Doctor in this adventure as he gets to sort out some Daleks. I like how he uncovers more about the energy crisis and when he meets up with Jack Coulson who leads the protests. Both of them go under the National Gallery into the heart of Dalek operations. I found it funny when Tom's Doctor kept going `ssh' to Jack when journeying in the dark. Even on the outtakes in the CD extras it's very funny. Tom and Jack pass themselves off as Robomen, which I can imagine them very easily in black leather uniforms, when going to rescue Leela. Tom's bold in emphasising and stressing the urgency of stopping Damien Stephens as well as the Daleks, and he works out the Daleks' plans to involve the moon very quickly. It's a fun story with Tom's Doctor, and I really like how he defies the Daleks and outwits them with his brain, sonic screwdriver and all.

Mark Benton guest stars in this story as Jack Coulson, leading protest against the GlobeSphere Corporation. I remember Mark as Clive in the first episode of the new series of `Doctor Who' called `Rose'. Hearing as Mark as Jack in this story was equally enjoyable and his Northern tones flow on audio pretty well. I really like how Jack becomes a quick ally to the Doctor and despite being bewildered and baffled by everything that's going on with the Daleks, he overcomes it really well with the Doctor's help. I like how Jack is the normal everyday man you relate to and tries to connect to Damien Stephens, his former friend, and tries to break him out of his Dalek conditioning. I found it funny when the Doctor, Leela and Jack go on the transmat and end up in somebody's bed when arriving on the GlobeSphere Moonbase to stop the Daleks.

I enjoyed listening to the Daleks again in audio and up against Tom Baker's Doctor this time. The Daleks are so evil and spine-chillingly terrifying in this story, especially with Nick Briggs doing the voices for them. I like how they're somehow the cause for this energy crisis in London and how they plan to involve the moon with their Dalek time ship that can produce disastrous consequences. The Daleks interrogate Leela after discovering she's covered with chronic particles (background radiation from the time vortex) and through torture they discover she's a companion of the Doctor. They use Damien Stephens in their plans to take control of the GlobeSphere Corporation and show no mercy. The Daleks also get to convert humans into Robomen to do their work just as they've done before in 'The Dalek Invasion Of Earth'. Their scenes when confronting the Doctor are truly exciting to listen to.

The rest of the guest cast in this story include Alex Lowe playing Damien Stephens, CEO of the GlobeSphere Corporation under Dalek control. I've heard Alex before in other Big Finish audios as Huxley in two companion chronicles `Find and Replace' with Jo Grant and `Ringpullworld' with Turlough. He's also done Sontarans in `Heroes of Sontar' with Peter Davison. There's also Caroline Keiff playing Lydia Harding, one of Damien's colleagues at GlobeSphere. And there's Dan Starkey playing Kevin Winston, another colleague at GlobeSphere. I've met Dan as well, and he's well-known for playing the Sontarans in both the new series and the Big Finish audio plays of `Doctor Who'. It was nice to hear him as somebody different who's human in a Dalek story instead of Sontarans.

The Robomen appear in this story, voiced by three actors - John Dorney (actor and script editor on the Fourth Doctor adventures); Alex Lowe and Dan Starkey. I enjoyed listening to the Robomen. I imagine these are the Robomen from the Peter Cushing film 'Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150AD'; not the ones from the actual TV story `The Dalek Invasion of Earth' with William Hartnell. I don't think however the Robomen are used very much in a short space of time as two episodes really. Although I like it when Leela tries to attack one with her knife it reacts with no pain, which sounds similar to when a wasp stung a Robomen in the Peter Davison audio story 'The Mutant Phase'.

The CD extras on this disc include behind-the-scenes interviews on the making of `Energy of the Daleks'. These interviews include Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Mark Benton, Nicholas Briggs, etc. I really enjoyed the `sshing' sessions between Tom and Mark when recording their scenes as some of them are really hilarious from beginning to end.

`Energy of the Daleks' has been a worthwhile and thrilling, enjoyable listening experience. It's great to hear Leela meeting the Daleks for the first time in `Doctor Who' and for the Doctor to face them again in a story without Davros. I really like how this adventure is action-paced throughout and kept my interest. It's a shame really as with many Fourth Doctor adventures from Big Finish that this couldn't be a four-part adventure. But I hope we will get another Dalek adventure with the Doctor and Leela or even a Cybermen story that spread across four episodes instead of two. Apart from that this has been great Dalek fun and is fuelled with `energy'! Ha, ha.

The next story for the Doctor and Leela is 'Trail of the White Worm'.
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