I’ve Written the First Big Finish 12th Doctor Story!

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As well as lovely new Doctor Who this weekend I also had some personally exciting and cool Doctor Who news: I’ve written a Short Trip for Big Finish, and it’s also the first 12th Doctor Big Finish story. Which I didn’t, thank goodness, actually know when I was writing it. That would have been rather scary.

Here’s the lovely synopsis:

The Astrea Conspiracy by Lizbeth Myles

The conspirators sit in Antwerp, plotting to kill King Charles the Second. Aphra Behn’s mission is simple, get former lover William Scot to turn against his treasonous comrades. But her money is running out and the complications don’t stop there. A strange Scottish man arrives at her inn with troubling news.

William Scot is out and the Doctor is in.

These are also the first Short Trips edited and produced by Alfie Shaw, who was absolutely amazing, and a delight to work with, and I’m so looking forward to listening to this season of stories, and seeing where the range is going next.

The Astrea Conspiracy is available to pre-order now, and is released in February 2019.

 

Women Have Always Watched Doctor Who (Or, I Asked Mum A Few Questions About Being a Fan Since 1963)

It’s my Mum’s fault I love Doctor Who. As the show was off the air for most of my childhood, without her maternal influence I might never have discovered just how brilliant it was.

I always find Mum’s perspective on Who interesting, or as she would more likely put it *annoyingly* interesting. I managed to convince her that, yes, actually the perspective of a female fan who’s watched Doctor Who from the very start *is* worthwhile, would you mind if I asked you a few perfectly lovely questions about what you think of the show.

Naturally, she was thrilled. Ahem.

She knows a little bit about online fandom, as I talk about it too much, and I wanted to know if she’d be prepared to go online and tell anyone who was using “I’ve been watching Doctor Who since 197-something” as a way to bolster their argument that there were very silly, and she’d been watching since 1963 and, yes, had actually seen every single episode, haha you will never know the true joy of The Myth-Makers but I do.

She said no. “I’ve no interest in doing that.”

Alrighty. How about how we just talk about when you started watching Doctor Who? “I saw the very first episode, twice, and have been watching it ever since…it was a different, exciting sort of programme…sometimes the make-up left a bit to be desired, not what I thought as a child, it looked fine then. They did very well with what they had.”

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So you were old enough to appreciate what was going on? “Yes.” And how old were you? “No. Age is banned.”

One of the big things that helped keep Doctor Who on the air in the early years were the monsters, any memory of those?

“The Daleks, of course, the cushion-hiding monsters. I didn’t hide behind any cushions, but your uncles did…what always amazed me was the Daleks going through those deserted cities [in The Dalek Invasion of Earth].”

What about monsters that *did* scare you, any of those?

“One of the early ones that definitely sticks in my mind are those tick-tock toy soldiers coming after them in The Mind Robber. Very strange and scary. It was completely different from anything I’d seen before, insidiously creepy. The Ice Warriors’ first story was frightening; the way they hissed. Autons were scary. Very effective turning an everyday thing into a killing machine.”

Do you think the Autons coming out of shop windows and massacring people was a bit too much for children? “Not compared to what they can see in computer games nowadays.” I ask if this is a dig at that one time I let my niece watch me playing Dead By Daylight and got into trouble from my sister. “It might be.” Thanks, Mum!

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How about your first regeneration, any memories of what it was like when Hartnell turned into Troughton? “This sage old grandfather figure turned into a clown; a strange, quick-witted man with a recorder. I found the recorder irritating.” Any regenerations a bit tricky? “I don’t get as emotional as you, but I did think when Davison turned into Colin Baker they’d made a mistake.” And now? “Oh, he’s fine now. You get used to a new Doctor. I couldn‘t take to Sylvester McCoy at first either. It took me ages to find some sort of rapport with him. And Ace I found strange at the time, but I can appreciate her now.”

We move on to chat about favourite companions. “I quite like Jamie, but he could be excitable. You don’t like the companions I like best; I enjoyed Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan. They had unusual names and their own little team, and idiosyncrasies.”

Now, I didn’t get to see any of the classic series on broadcast, I was too young. But the age of the VHS was upon us, hurrah! I ask Mum why she inflicted Doctor Who on me as a child. “I only bought you a video! And you liked it. It made getting presents for you easy.” When did you think I’d grow out of Doctor Who? “I never thought you’d grow out of it, mind you I never thought it was going to take over your life. Thank goodness it wasn’t something detrimental.”

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Moving on to the mid-nineties, the Paul McGann TV movie appeared. “Liked it! Liked Paul McGann. Quite a dishy guy.” Is he the Doctor you’d most want to travel with? “Oh, definitely. He had a decent looking outfit as well.”

In 2005, the new series started with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper in the main roles, any memories of that first season? “Eccleston and Piper worked very well together. Love the one with Harriet Jones, she was great. And politics! That was right up my street.”

We talk about her favourite scene from the first series: the dancing at the end of The Doctor Dances: “The classic Doctors would never have danced to Glen Miller…maybe Sylvester McCoy.”

And what about the New Series generally, any favourites, enjoyed it as much as the classic one? “I’ve liked all the new Doctors. Amy’s my favourite companion, she’s feisty and strong-minded.” So nothing to do with her being Scottish? “The Scottishness just adds to the genius.” That sounds like something I’d say, I tell her. “Oh dear.”

Excitingly, I learn something new about my Mum! She’s a bit of a Moffat fan. “I found Moffat’s episodes really good. I started to pay attention to who was writing the stories and looked out for his name. Some of the ideas he brought in were a breath of fresh air. I rarely found a Moffatt episode I didn’t like.”

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Now, Jodie Whittaker is the new Doctor. Any feelings about her being cast? “No, because I hadn’t a clue who Jodie Whittaker was.” Yes, but a woman as the Doctor, what do you think? You were pretty excited about there being a female captain in Star Trek [big Janeway fan], no similar feelings for the new Doctor? “It’s not like Trek where there’s a new character in a new series. Each time Doctor Who regenerates there’s a process where you miss the last Doctor, and start to get to know the new Doctor. I expect the same thing to happen here. I’m pleased it’s a woman, but there’s still the same emotional journey you have with every Doctor.”

Thank you for being so patient with me! Are there any final thoughts you have about Doctor Who you’d like to share? “Have you seen Bradley Walsh’s wee face? He’s absolutely over the moon; he was watching Doctor Who fifty years ago too. I wish it was me that was going in the TARDIS.”

The Horns of Nimon fanvid playlist

The Doctor Who stream on Twitch reached a magical point last night: it was time for The Horns of Nimon, probably* the greatest Doctor Who story ever told. And if there’s one way to gauge the greatness of a Doctor Who story, it’s to take a look at the creativity it’s inspired in the fandom. So, without further ado, a Horns of Nimon fanvid playlist!

How Many Nimons? (Remix) by koloSigma1

A beautiful remix featuring one of Nimon’s many top lines. How many Nimons *have* you seen today?

Nimons: A Celebration by Lizbee

How the dickens is this over ten years old? I remember when Lizbee made this! (Naturally it was greeted in the fandom by the acclaim it deserved.) Anyway, here’s a concise and elegant summary of why Nimons is great made by a wonderful person who truly understands the importance of the story.

Now! That’s What I Call Nimon by DWTODWFA

Aka The Album We All Wish We Could Buy.

MY DREAMS OF CONQUEST by AsDavid

It’s FIVE WHOLE MINUTES of Soldeed despairing about his dreams of conquest. I mean, really, how many Doctor Who stories get five minute YouTube vids of one line being repeated over and over again? If that isn’t an indication of awesomeness, I don’t know what is.

The Nimon, the Witch and the Wardrobe by smallerpictures

It’s Lord Soldeed vs The White Witch (who people my age will be proper terrified of as this is the version of Narnia we grew up with and, omg, she was overacting?? Are you sure? This was scary as hell when you were like four years old.)

Total Eclipse of the Nimon by koloSigma1

A heartbreaking, soulrending tale of Lord Soldeed and his Nimon friends. Reader, I cried. (And maybe watched this three times before I asked myself what I was doing with my life.)


*”probably”

 

Doctor Who Not On Twitch

Tonight we reach the end of the Patrick Troughton era on the beautiful Twitch stream of almost of all of classic Who, and from here on there are no missing episodes (though a few stories, for legal reasons relating to Daleks, are being skipped.) But what about all those stories they didn’t show? Are they worth seeking out and having a watch, even if they’re incomplete?

Now, bearing in mind I adore Doctor Who, and most of the missing stuff concerns my favourite Doctor, yes, yes they are. Especially if you tuned in for The Web of Fear on stream, and weren’t too phased by the slideshow and audio format (or, as the fandom calls them, a recon) of episode three.

And remember, not all of these stories’ episodes are actually missing, and some have handy animations. So here’re my recs for the best of what we missed (I say best, but I restricted myself to five because otherwise I’d be writing this blog for a few hours explaining why every story that isn’t The Space Pirates is worth watching. Sorry, Space Pirates fans.)

 

The Invasion

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If there’s one story I’m seriously judgey at Twitch for not showing, it’s The Invasion. This is an eight-part story from season six, which means the glorious TARDIS team of Trought, Jamie, and Zoe. A trio, that if the Twitch chat was anything to go by, new viewers were pretty delighted by. It’s also got the Brig, epic Cybermen, the first appearance of UNIT and Sergeant Benton, and one of Who’s great villains in Tobias Vaughn. There are also some of the very best Doctor and Jamie clings. And very, very importantly, Zoe talks a computer into exploding. And saves the world with maths. As you do.

Of the eight episodes, two are missing (episodes one and four) which have been animated for the DVD release.

 

The Power of the Daleks

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This is Patrick Troughton’s very first story and, as you might guess, features Daleks. It’s also a Ben and Polly story, two of the companions most affected by the missing episodes, with only one complete story of theirs surviving.

In Power Troughton is still very much trying to find out what he’s doing with the Doctor, and it’s fascinating. He’s restrained, distant, almost unlikeable, and refusing to prove who he is to his confused and doubtful companions. Ben and Polly are both delightful, though this is one of the stories where Polly doesn’t get to use her special power of coming up with a questionable, yet brilliant, plan and making it work. This is also, for me, the very best Dalek story, and the scariest. The Daleks start of creepily eager-to-please, while the humans of the isolated colony are too busy fighting amongst themselves to recognise the danger, and the tension builds and builds, until the devastating final episode.

All episodes of Power are missing, but they have been animated (with a colour version) and released on DVD and Blu-ray.

 

The Evil of Daleks

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Yes, more Daleks. And more Troughton. I’m sorry! (I’m not.) I find it tough to choose between Power and Evil as my favourite Dalek story, but Power usually nudges ahead. That doesn’t mean Evil isn’t wonderful though. There’s Victorian time travel, Daleks playing at being choo-choo trains, and a heartbreaking scene where Jamie believes the Doctor’s betrayed him. It’s also Victoria’s first story.

There are some epic scenes on Skaro (er, that you can’t actually watch, but the pics look cool!) and the Dalek Emperor is magnificent. It was intended to be the Daleks’ final story, and so they wanted an epic send off. (Obviously that didn’t happen, but they won’t be seen again for five years.)

Of the seven episodes only episode two survives, and it can be found on the Lost in Time DVD release. The rest of the story has been released on audio, with narration, or there are unofficial reconstructions available, in places.

 

Marco Polo

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A Hartnell story, at last. This is the only missing story from season one, so it’s Barbara, Ian, and Susan. What I adore about Marco Polo is that nothing like it would never be made today, and I find the leisurely pacing gorgeous. There are shenanigans afoot, but mostly it’s the TARDIS crew on a trip with Marco Polo following the Silk Road to go see Kublai Khan. One episode is just chilling out and listening to one of the travellers, Ping-Cho, tell a story about Aladdin. There’s some lovely stuff for Susan, as she forms a close friendship with Ping-Cho, and the sets and costumes are gorgeous. On the downside, there’s a significant amount of yellow-face, Ping-Cho excepted.

Other missing Hartnells worth giving a shot: The Myth Makers, The Daleks’ Masterplan, The Savages.

All six episodes of Marco Polo are missing. The audio has been released with narration, there’s also a thirty minutes recon on the The Beginning DVD set. Around the place there are recons, one of which is in colour (all the photos used in the recon have been colourised by some very talented people.)

 

The Macra Terror

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This is the one where the monsters are giant crabs. Sneaky giant crabs controlling a human colony. It’s Troughton at his very, very best. He arrives at a jolly colony, all pretty and shiny, and instantly attaches himself to the one disparate element, before turning the whole place upside down in magnificent fashion. “Bad laws were made to be broken,” he says. Quite right too.

Ben, Polly, and Jamie are all in the TARDIS so it’s slightly difficult to give them all something to do, but they have their moments: Ben gets to be scary, Polly flirts with the Doctor, and Jamie escapes danger via the Highland fling.

All four episodes of The Macra Terror are missing. The audio has been released with narration, and courtesy of Australian censors there are a couple of short surviving clips that can be found in the Lost in Time boxset.

 

Superb stories all! And, helpfully, ask any other Doctor Who fan who’s seen/heard the missing stories, and they’ll give you completely different recs. Because this is Doctor Who fandom.

 

Exciting Housekeeping Things

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Yikes, I haven’t made a post in almost a year. I really have to stop promising myself I’ll blog more each year. It’s a LIE, self, it’s never going to happen.

Anyway, one of the reasons I haven’t been writing here are those posts of what one might generously call ‘reviews’ of Doctor Who episodes I was writing as they aired, and the fact that I haven’t finished the past two seasons. I have Slight Issues with leaving things like that partly finished. But the prospect of actually finishing them fills me with dread. I don’t know why, it’s not like I didn’t love most of the stories. But I feel like Verity! and Twitter have been filling more and more of my need to discuss the episodes online these past five years, and that plus writing out all my thoughts is just too much.

And it sucks admitting that. Ever since the New Series began I’ve written blog posts about every episode, whether here or back in ye olde Livejournal, but it’s not fun anymore. (Er, to quote Tegan, as you do.) And a couple of people, bless ya, have asked if I’ll ever finish them. And no, I won’t.

And now I feel sort of relieved I’ve decided that and maybe I can actually write something here without my brain going “wtf is this, aren’t you supposed to be writing episode reviews, you should feel very bad about yourself for not finishing those, you know.” Yes, thank you brain, I can always rely on you for the most helpful thoughts.

I should probably tidy up here too; it feels a bit out-of-date.

Anyway, it’s Monday morning, I’ve had two coffees; back to work!

Podcast Things

No, it’s not the Doctor Who post in a vaguely timely fashion. I shall get to that about two hours beofre tomorrow’s ep, probably. Still, I’ve now at least seen last week’s ep. (One and five sixths thumbs up.)

But, anyway, here are some VAGUELY RECENT podcast things I have been doing that I record here for, uh, posterity…no, that’s not right. Let me think about this.

1 – Eurovision Song Contest 2017 Pre-Show Glitterball Special! – A special edition of Unjustly Maligned on this year’s entries to the Eurovision song contest. This was the most homework I’ve ever done for a podcast, and it was awesome. Anyway, if you be a fan of the Eurovision, we had a fab discussion with much flail and glitter.

2 – Inconceivable! – I’m on the latest ep of this marvellously geeky gameshow that I wish had a new ep for me to listen to every week; the only bad thing about being on it is I don’t get to listen to an ep FOREVER, and it is everything I ever wanted from a quiz show.

3 – Reality Bomb – Spoiler Cops are back, hurrah! Is it wrong to be emotionally attached to characters in a Doctor Who podcast comedy skit? Ahem. But, yes, anyway, there is INTRIGUE as well as LOLARIOUS JOKES. Also, like, the whole rest of the podcast, which is QUITE GOOD.

4 – And Verity!, course, where I mostly flailed about Knock, Knock and Oxygen.

Doctor Who – Extremis

So here’s the thing: I’ve been enjoying this season of Doctor Who very much, it’s fun and delightful and Bill is superb, HOWEVER, it has also been Wholly Unsurprising; other than the Doctor acquiring a professorship and more permanent Earth residence. Every story so far, I can more or less guess the plot beats if not the specifics of How Things Turn Out and What’s Happening. Which is fine, it’s lovely, I get this is a soft reboot. HOWEVER, as a fan, it was UTTERLY DELICIOUS to finally get an episode where I had NOT A CLUE what was going on or where we were going. Also, there was Michelle Gomez, who is amazingsauce. Anyway, onwards!

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