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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fanfare for Fanfare!, 1 Oct 2013
This review is from: 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
I'm going to start with the obvious - I love this one! Having followed Big Finish's Doctor Who audio range since I first discovered them back in 2008 (ish) there are a vast number of stories that I have thoroughly enjoyed however this one tops them all.

This is the start of a trilogy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show, each story in the series revolving around the year 1963 - if I have to spell out the significance of that then you're clearly not into Who!

This story takes the premise that The Beatles never were and that a three man band 'The Commen Men' are the in-thing whom the world has gone crazy over. An assasination attempt on this trio at an airport at the start of the tale draws The Doctor and his companion Nyssa into things head-on as very soon in they are are separated across time with each encountering The Commen Men at different phases in their history. Nyssa ends up hanging out with the guys in Hamburg during their early years whilst The Doctor bounces backwards and forwards through their history trying to identify what went wrong - and why 1957 is time locked.

The music is superb evoking the feeling of the 60's perfectly with specially wrote songs/music by the maestro's at BF. It's not The Beatles but not far off. The three Commen Men - Mark, James and Corky, are likeable characters and it's clear that all persons involved in this adventure are thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The Commen Men were referenced in the very first Doctor Who adventure 'An Unearthly Child' as a band that Susan was following and this adventure has been launched from that reference. It's a nice way of celebrating the show's fiftieth and the story's conclusion directly refers to that first tale.

Peter Davison is on fine form and clearly enjoying this story and Mitch Benn as guest performer 'Mark' is fantastic.

A solid 5/5 for this one - cannot recommend it enough!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rock n' rolling in the 1960s with the Doctor and Nyssa! - Celebrating 50 Years of 'Doctor Who', 27 Feb 2014
This review is from: 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
Loved every minute of this! This is a lovely, fantastic, terrific audio adventure that I'm lucky to have enjoyed! `Fanfare For The Common Men' is fab! I love the sixties, I love the music, I love the story and I really love Nyssa and the Doctor!

I was lucky to get this in the post in the week leading up to a very special weekend in September for me last year. I was about to go to a `Doctor Who' convention in Swansea (best place to have `Doctor Who' conventions in my opinion). This CD from Big Finish managed to arrive just in time on the Monday before the weekend came. So it was an ideal opportunity for me to listen to it all the way through and get it signed by Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) who was also going to be there at that same convention as I was. And I listened to this not once, not twice but THREE times before the weekend!!! And I'm really pleased Sarah signed the CD cover for me as it was a very happy weekend for me!

This story is the first in a multi-Doctor trilogy from 5 to 6 to 7 and is a standalone adventure. Running through each of these three stories is a certain theme to celebrate 50 years of `Doctor Who'. These three stories all have something to with 1963, the year when the show was born. So each of the three Doctors have an adventure in 1963 and share it with one of their companions. And for Peter Davison, they've paired him with Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, which made me very happy indeed.

I enjoyed listening to Sarah Sutton in this audio story as well as Peter Davison. Sarah's my favourite `Doctor Who' companion as Nyssa. Now I'm sure I didn't mention that before! When I saw her at the convention in Swansea and also from listening to the CD extras, Sarah really enjoyed recording this being set in the sixties and a Beatles-style adventure with its Liverpudlian characters.

During a panel talk, Sarah said she loved the CD designs of this release since apparently this two-disc set have CDs designed to look like original LP/vinyl records. That's a clever idea, and I really like how they did it. Sarah certainly loves it. Says she can eat those CDs. She's going to need a big appetite, I thought. Ha, ha.

When I met and asked Sarah to sign the CD cover, she told me she hadn't listened to the story yet and I didn't mind telling her that I had listened to this three times. Sarah was stunned I heard it three times. I stun myself. It was a happy accident. I told Sarah how much I enjoyed listening to this. She said to me she heard that the music is very good on this. I told her it was, as I love the sixties and its music very much when I heard this. I'm not really a Beatles fan, as I'm more into Beach Boys music. But I have heard some of their music, and the music is definitely like the Beatles isn't it?

(singing) `Hey girl, You are the one, That's all I have to say, My love, Burns like the sun, I'll blow your world away!...'
`Oh won't you please love me?, Girl, I'm begging you please!, Oh won't you please love me?, I'm down upon my knees...'
`Beneath this skin, There is another me, Just let me in, You'll be sure to...'

`cough'. Sorry about that. Got carried away. I might find myself singing the odd occasion when writing this review. So do bear with me.

`Fanfare For The Common Men' is a story about where the Doctor takes Nyssa to a London to see the Beatles where a huge crowds of fans have gathered to `shout' and cheer for them as they come off the plane. The Doctor is delighted to see them as John, Paul, George and Ringo...oh! Wait a minute! It's not the Beatles! It's the Common Men - Mark, James and Korky! They're a groups of three boys who sing songs and have become tremendously successful with the fans. They've taken over the Beatles' place in history.

Something's wrong and the Doctor knows it. He's not happy with what's happening and can't understand why nobody remembers the Beatles as he does. A mystery ensues as to why the Common Men have become so successful and why everybody who's a teenager in the 60s is raving about them. It's nagging the Doctor and he's determined to solve the mystery and put the Beatles back in their proper place in history. It will take him a journey across many time zones in the TARDIS throughout the Beatles...sorry, Common Men's life.

I really like this story of `Fanfare For The Common Men'. It's a clever idea and original approach from Eddie Robson who wrote this story. He's managed to come up with a tale where the Beatles are taken out of history and are swapped with a pop group who aren't as good as the Beatles were. It's a group that follows the same path as the Beatles but with different songs and trend. Someone wants the Beatles out of their place in their history and for the Common Men to step in, causing a side effect in the timelines such as the National Service never ending in 1960.

Eddie Robson's captured the sixties successfully well. I love how he's set the atmosphere and setting of the story with the Beatles-like attitude and culture of the Common Men, and also with the crowds screaming and shouting their names. The story's pretty complex and sometimes it's quite a job to keep track on where you are during the story and what time zones we're in. Eddie's not just set the story in 1963. Sometimes it shifts from 1960 to 1967 to 1970 and back to 1963 again as the story chronicles the life and career success of the Common Men. But it's still a pretty enjoyable story all the same.

The director Barnaby Edwards has done a great job too, as well as the musicians and sound design people. You really feel you are in the 1960s zone and can easily see the people and places from that era of history. From the front cover as well as in the story, you can easily get the screaming crowds who are fans of the Common Men, especially when they're amplified by some deadly menace. I enjoyed hearing the Common Men's northern voices and how they sing their songs.

(singing) `Oh won't you please love me?, Girl, I'm begging you please!, Oh won't you please love me?, I down upon me knees...'
`Beneath this skin, There is another me...'

Sorry, sorry. I've done it again. I can't seem to get that song out of my head now!

I really enjoyed listening to Nyssa's story in this. Nyssa gets transported back in time with Lenny Kruger (the villain of this story) back to 1960. She meets up with the Common Men in Hamburg, Germany, who haven't become the success they will be in later years. She gets to watch their gigs and enjoys their music, even though some of it's energetic for her since her music's more formalised and complex. I loved the relationship she has with Korky since he seems smitten with her, and both of them get to share an adventure escaping from Lenny on the dock. Nyssa manages to pick up a few German words during her adventure in 1960 since she finds the language logical and rather likes it.

I love Sarah Sutton as Nyssa in this. She gets separated from the Doctor a lot in this story. This gives her the chance to have an adventure on her own without the Doctor and experience the Common Men for herself as well sixties and rock n' roll music. I love how Nyssa's startled by certain things regarding sixties and music, but she seems to like the Common Men especially Korky despite not understanding their quirks and habits. I'm sure Sarah found this story easy going since it's set on Earth and during the sixties compared to a story set in space or the future. It's one of Sarah's fine performances and it was a treasure to listen to her in this story before meeting up with her again in Swansea. I'm not sure if Sarah likes the Beatles music, but if she does then that's great!

The Doctor's pretty good in this too. Peter as ever excels in his performance through this story. His Doctor's energy and enthusiasm shines throughout. He doesn't like what's happening with the Common Men taking the place of the Beatles. He doesn't find them bad, but he knows they're in the wrong place and time in Earth's history. He gets to journey through time in the Common Men's lives, with a little help from Rita (Alison Thea-Skot), one of the group's biggest fans. He discovers that this group of Liverpudlians are innocent and have done nothing to interfere with Earth's history. He learns they're aliens and gets to find out more about who's controlling them and putting them in the Beatles' place of history. I love how his Doctor's working out the mystery, unravelling everything layer by layer.

Peter knows his Beatles and is really enthused into this story that has a semi-Beatles style to it. I liked his comment during the CD interviews in connection to a project he's doing with Eddie Robson in relation to the Beatles which was interesting. Peter puts so much thought into his performance as the Doctor and is really full of energy that you don't doubt for one second he is the Doctor. He's able to share his interest in the Common Men's live and shows a concern for Nyssa when he's trying to save her. I liked the moments when he's trying to discover more about the Common Men under the Paravatar's hypnotic suggestions and he asks them questions they respond one at a time - `No.', `No.', `No.'. I found it funny when the Doctor sarcastically found those answers fruitful.

These are the three Common Men - Mark, James and Korky. They look human, but are in actual fact aliens in skin suits who don't know they're aliens.

Mark Carville is played Mitch Benn, who I've also heard him in another `Doctor Who' story with Paul McGann/Mary Shelly called `Army of Death'. The character he plays is a John Lennon type of character on the guitar. Mark is this rounded northern accent chap who's pretty broody but can pull off a really good gig with the boys. He's written one of his songs/tunes for the group apparently.

(singing) `Oh won't you please love me?, Girl, I'm begging you please!, Oh won't you please love me?, I down upon...'

Argh! What's wrong with me? This song's infecting me. I can't stop singing it. Stop it, Tim! Stop it!

Mark narrates the story when he's being interviewed by Rita in 1970. I like Mark's casual northern way when his fans rave about him being great and he goes `Yeah I know we are.' When he and the group meet Nyssa in 1960, he's not sure what to make of her since he finds her `posh' and too lady-like. He doesn't seem to want to split up from his group of boys when they're a success in the 60s. But by the way we come to 1970, he's a pretty bitter person since he's spilt up from the group and doesn't want to know and doesn't want to see the Doctor. When he starts to lose it and unveils his true alien self, Mark becomes vengeful and even wants to kill the Doctor at the end of `Part Three'.

The second of these Common Men is James O'Meara played by Andrew Knott. James is a Paul McCartney type of a character on the bass, who's easy going and enjoys being in the group doing their gigs. He's a bit of a control freak and seems to have a way with the ladies. I like how there's friendly rivalry between James and Mark in the 60s when they're seemingly threatening to spilt up and Korky's referring them. It turns out he's the cheerleader who's motivating the group to doing the gig. I like how he offers the Doctor and Rita tickets to the Royal Variety and how he remembers the Doctor when they meet up again in 1967 with the Paravatar. James's a pretty good guy who has an unfortunate end in `Part 3' during a hot exchange between him and an older Mark in 1970.

The third member of this pop group is Korky Goldsmith played David Dobson, who I've heard him in another Peter and Sarah story 'Plague of the Daleks' and was the voice of the Scandroids in the Colin Baker story `I.D.'. Korky - as in `Korky the cat' from the Danny comics apparently (I felt like Nyssa and didn't get it until my dad told me, though it made me laugh) - is a great character to listen to. He's a Ringo Starr type of character on the drums. He seems to like Nyssa, and who wouldn't. I know I do very much, but that's enough on me. He tries to pamper and look after Nyssa with a drink and offers to sleep on the floor and let her have his bed to sleep overnight. I like how Korky takes a shine to Nyssa and she seems to like him. I was hoping for something to happen between these two, but sadly that didn't happen. I like how Nyssa takes a blood sample off Korky and calmly tries to explain to him that he's an alien and he's taking it steadily well. I found it unsettling when Korky was about to have his memory wiped by Lenny and Sadie and that he wouldn't be able to remember Nyssa. I really liked Korky's pleasant character in this one.

The villain of this story is Lenny Kruger played by Ryan Sampson. Ryan is well-known in `Doctor Who' for playing Luke Rattigan in the two-part David Tennant story `The Sontaran Strategem'/'The Poison Sky' and he was a villain in that. He was also in 'The Elite' with Peter, Sarah and Janet Fielding and he was a villain in that. Can't he play a nice guy for a change?

Lenny Kruger is a character with some serious anger issues. He can be pretty aggressive and abrasive. He's a mysterious character with his own motivations. He pulls out a gun and tries to shoot the three Common Men at the London Airport in `Part One' before they all get down. He tries to control the lives of the Common Men in terms of their career and success. Just why he wants to control them and replace them with the Beatles gets unravelled when the Doctor confronts him. Lenny's a dangerous sort and is helped by Sadie (also played by Alison Thea-Skot) who claims to be the group's No. 1. Fan. It becomes clear Lenny is an alien with an American accent who can time-travel and gets agitated whenever there's negative reaction to the Common Men from the fans or the press and gets annoyed when the Doctor tries to intervene. Peter's Doctor at one point calls Lenny a `coward' since he can't control the power the Common Men already have which gets him angry. The story gets more complicated when there are two Lennys in the same scenes with each other in `Part Four'.

The CD extras on this release include the following.

On Disc 1, there's a suite of some incidental music for `Fanfare For The Common Men' that is very sixties, jaunty and catchy to listen to. There's also included in this suite three songs that the Common Men sing in this story, including `Who Is That Man'; `Just Count To Three' and `Oh Won't You Please Love Me?' which I've been singing throughout this review. The lyrics for the last song are included and can be read in the CD booklet for this story and they're written by Barnaby Edwards. These three songs definitely sound like Beatles songs and are very catchy and easy to listen to.

(singing) `Oh won't you please love me?, Girl, I'm begging you please!, Oh won't you...'

Oh, argh!!!! I've got to stop doing that! Keep that song out of my head! I must have enjoyed this story's music and its songs, mustn't I?

There's also in that suite of music a familiar catchy tune that was played when Susan was listening to the Common Men on her transistor radio in the very first `Doctor Who' story 'An Unearthly Child'. It makes the connection for the whole 50th anniversary complete, linking back to that very first story with Susan and her grandfather, the Doctor.

On Disc 2, there's a trailer for the next story in the 1963 trilogy with the Sixth Doctor and Peri called '1963: The Space Race'.

There's also some behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew including Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Mitch Benn, Andrew Knott, David Dobson and Ryan Sampson who talk about their involvement in the story and taking part in the 50th anniversary celebrations of `Doctor Who'. I especially enjoyed when Peter and Sarah talked about their involvement in the 50th anniversary with 'The Light at the End' and conventions in general. I enjoyed listening to them when I was on my way to the Swansea convention. There's also a little interview with Howard Carter who provides his insight and a demonstration on how he did the sound and music for this story as well as recording the three songs with the actors singing them.

Just to mention if you subscribe to Big Finish, you'll get a free copy of the original script by Eddie Robson for this story; some extended extras including more interviews with the cast and crew; and two bonus short-trips with the Fifth Doctor that are both read by John Banks.

`Fanfare For The Common Men' became a success and popular within a week of its release back in September. It's had a legacy of its own, as a podcast featuring interviews with the cast and crew was released on the Big Finish website, and the first episode was released for free as a podcast on the website.

So, this is a terrific story to start off the `1963' trilogy. `Fanfare For The Common Men' is a really feel-good romp that is definitely worthy as a anniversary story to celebrate 50 years of `Doctor Who'. I enjoyed it and am very pleased that it's an anniversary story with the Doctor and Nyssa who are my favourite TARDIS team. Sarah Sutton is lovely in this and Peter Davison's brilliant as the Doctor. It's a great story and I'm very pleased I got to hear it three times before meeting Sarah at a convention in Swansea and asking her to sign it. It made me happy that week and weekend in September. And it's a terrific story with some Beatles-style music and a sixties atmosphere in the background.

Just to say, I like what they did with the CD cover in having the three Common Men and the Doctor doing that iconic Beatles walk on Albert Road with an image of Nyssa adorning the front cover in the midst of a screaming tennage crowd!

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this story! Loved every minute of it!

(singing) `...I'm down upon my knees!!!'

The next story with the Doctor and Nyssa is 'Moonflesh'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fab three, 29 Oct 2013
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
A new Doctor Who audio story. This one features Peter Davison as the Doctor along with Sarah Sutton as his companion Nyssa.

It's the start of a new trilogy. Whereas these trilogies usually feature the same Doctor in each story, this one will feature a different Doctor in each. All, since we're in the show's 50th anniversay year, pay homage to that by being set in 1963. It doesn't appear as if the three stories will have any common thread beyond that, though.

Thus this one stands entirely on it's own and you don't have to heard any other stories in order to get into it.

It runs for four parts of twenty five minutes each, and is spread across two cd's.

The story sees the Doctor take Nyssa back to 1963 to see the dawn of Beatlemania.

Only to find everyone's going mad for a group of three musicians called the common men. And nobody's heard of the Beatles.

History has gone very wrong. As the Doctor and Nyssa are separated and forced to investigate things far apart, can they find what has caused things to change? And can they set them right?

From the off, the story has a great 1960's feel to it. What makes that even better is the way that, also right from the start, the Doctor and Nyssa feel like alien outsiders to the whole thing. It has a great sense of history, not least in the way some of what happens parallels certain real life events.

It has an intriguing plot that keeps you hooked as it gradually reveals what's caused all this.

It uses the notion of time travel to it's fullest, jumping around all over the place. But not in a manner that will leave you confused.

It has some excellent supporting characters, who are all fully realised and feel like three dimensional individuals.

There's some superb music which is best described as Beatles pastiche. And which you might not be able to get off your mind for a while after hearing.

And the ending, in addition to being very clever, also brings an ending to the stories of all the characters involved.

A story of many great elements adds up to one hugely satisfying whole. A great release and well worth getting.

Even the cd booklet is worth a read, because of the style of the first two pages and the way it reprints certain lyrics.

And the cd design itself is pretty eye catching.

There's a trailer for part two of the trilogy on the cd track after the end of episode four.

Sixteen minutes worth of interviews with cast and crew on the final track of disc two.

And just under ten minutes of the music from the story on the last track of disc one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves a Fanfare, Exellent & Original., 10 Oct 2013
By 
Timelord-007 (The Eccentric Wanderer) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
Positive.
Peter Davison is on top form as The Doctor in this very entertaining story by Eddie Robson.
Start of an 3 story arc regarding Doctor Who's broadcast year in 1963.

Negative.
120 minutes i could easily heard another hour of this quality unique story.

Trivia.
The Common Men were mentioned by a conversation between Ian & Susan in Doctor Who's first story An Unearthly Child.

Audio Info.
2 CD 4 part, Running time 120 minutes, Behind scenes interviews, Trailer,

Review.
Im not going into my usual synopsis of this story in as much detail as this is a unique story with it's 1963 arc running through this & the next two adventures.

This is one of Eddie Robsons best written Big Finish Doctor Who's yet, With a genuinely original concept adding a great pace & energy to this story, With it's era & the next 2 Big Finish releases all being set in the year 1963.

Something is mysteriously going on in the year 1963, The Beatles have never existed instead a group called The Common Men are taking the music industry by storm.

Something is going wrong with the timeline & the Doctor has a riddle to solve & correct the timeline.

It's 1963 & theres no known knowledge of the Beatles ever have existing, What's the mystery going on here??? & just who are The Common Men ???

It's up to the Doctor & Nyssa to solve this mystery & correct the timeline before time runs out for everone.
This is an original enjoyable quirky release & i love how Big Finish have done the Cds like a vinyl record.

Peter Davison is on sparkling form here in this adventure & gives a boost of energy to his Fifth Doctor's character who is constantly engaging to hear in this production.

To say anymore about this story would ruin it for the listener so all i can do is say i recommend Doctor Who fans buy this story as it's one of the best releases Big Finish have done to date.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 1963: Fanfare for the Common Man, 19 Nov 2013
By 
R. Thomas "unreadable" (S Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
This release shares a theme with the next two stories in this range that they are all set in 1963 the year that Doctor Who started. Bar this there is no narrative link which makes it a lovely stand alone adventure featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. I find this thoroughly enjoyable and a lovely thematic anniversary story.

The script is really sharp, pacey and full of wit. The premise is great fun and the various references to the Beatles will certainly please Beatles fans yet also wont alienate people who never followed them. The Common Men are really well played and the cheeky takes on John Lennon and Paul McCartney (there's a cracking one line gag about Paul McCartney that you must listen out for) are great fun - the actors are clearly having a ball playing them.

Davison and Sutton are brilliant as usual, and both excel in the timey wimey comedic script. The music is cracking too; the songs ape the early-Beatles sound adeptly and bring back memories or The Rutles in that they are both funny and catchy. The incidental music skirts close to some familiar fab-four refrains and gives the story a different sound from most of the main range.

Perhaps this is the most amusing and witty story of the year.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pre 50th Anniversary, 24 Sep 2013
By 
This review is from: 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
If you remember the Sixties, then you can't have been there.

The Doctor takes Nysa back to 1963 to see The Beatles, which no longer exist.

Mark, James and Korky are The Common Men, the biggest band from the era. They made the sixties swing with songs "Just Count To Three" "Oh, Won't You Please Love Me?" and "Who Is That Man".

The Doctor remebers and something is very wrong.

This is the first of a pre 50th anniversary trilogy of stories base in 1963.

Other Trilogy Stories
The Space Race (Doctor Who)
The Assassination Games (Doctor Who)

Main 50th Anniversary Story
Standard issue...
The Light at the End (Doctor Who)
This story is also released as a 5 disc limited edition set of 10000.
A vinyl release will be issued also and as a limited edition.
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1963: Fanfare for the Common Men (Doctor Who)
1963: Fanfare for the Common Men (Doctor Who) by Eddie Robson (Audio CD - 30 Sep 2013)
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