Visit the official Doctor Who website

Visit the official Doctor Who website
Look to the future

Asylum seekers...

Asylum seekers...
Refuge of the Daleks

Doctor Who picture resource

Doctor Who picture resource
Roam the space lanes!

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website
Step back in time

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood
Armed and extremely dangerous

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures
Fearless in the face of adversity

Call on Dani’s House

Call on Dani’s House
Harmer’s a charmer

Intercept the UFO fabsite

Intercept the UFO fabsite
Defending the Earth against alien invaders!

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse
Programmable agent Echo exposed!

Hell’s belles

Hell’s belles
Naughty but nice

Love Exposure

Love Exposure
Flash photography!

Primeval portal

Primeval portal
Dressed to kill or damsels in distress?

Charmed, to be sure!

Charmed, to be sure!
The witches of San Francisco

Take on t.A.T.u.

Take on t.A.T.u.
All the way from Moscow

Proceed to the Luther website

Proceed to the Luther website
John and Jenny discuss their next move

DCI Banks is on the case

DCI Banks is on the case
You can bet on it!

On The Grid with Spooks

On The Grid with Spooks
Secret agents of Section D

Bridge to Hustle

Bridge to Hustle
Shady characters

Life on Ashes To Ashes

Life on Ashes To Ashes
Coppers with a chequered past

Claire’s no Exile

Claire’s no Exile
Goose steps

Vexed is back on the beat!

Vexed is back on the beat!
Mismatched DI Armstrong and bright fast-tracker Georgina Dixon

Medium, both super and natural

Medium, both super and natural
Open the door to your dreams

Who’s that girl? (350-picture Slideshow)

Monday, 31 December 2007

Death and the Maiden

Could Lucy Griffiths be the next “Bionic Woman”? Very much looks like it as she works up a sweat in this candid! Nice to see there’s plenty of life left in the young lady and that news of her death has been greatly exaggerated!!

Actually, it’s Lucy’s character Maid Marian, in “Robin Hood”, who has sadly shuffled off this mortal coil.

And, the reason for posting this picture is to add to Steve’s burgeoning collection at Bloggertropolis! He has shown much affection for Lucy, of late, and I know he will appreciate this addition to his hard drive!!

Finally, while I’m at it, I’d just like to take the opportunity to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year! Or, as they say in Vienna, Prosit Neujahr!!

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Down and Out in Beverly Hills

I’ve just heard that the remake of “Bionic Woman”, starring British actress Michelle Ryan as Jaime Sommers, has been cancelled after only eight episodes. This is due, partly, to the ongoing US writers’ strike, now two months old, but mostly because, after the pilot episode aired in the States, there was a sharp fall in ratings. Viewers claimed the series was too dark in tone which, personally, I find preferable to a lot of high camp. We’ll have the chance to make up our own minds when the series airs in Britain, in the New Year, on ITV2. You have to wonder what effect this will have on the lead’s future career? I believe NBC signed Michelle up for seven years and the series didn’t even complete a, full, single season! Presumably, that’s a lot of income lost to her which could’ve set the lady up for life, in much the same way that Patrick Stewart is now able to pick and choose the projects he wants to work on because of the money he earned working on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” for seven seasons.

Miss Ryan is likely to receive compensation for early lay-off but it isn’t going to be anywhere in the region of what she would have accumulated had the “Bionic Woman” series been successful. Then, of course, there’s the question of accommodation in LA. I hope she didn’t purchase a property, based on future expectation, but rented instead! I never saw her in “EastEnders”, not being a watcher of soaps, but her performance alongside James Nesbitt in “Jekyll” was accomplished. I vaguely recall something about her auditioning for a companion role in “Doctor Who” which she obviously didn’t get, more’s the pity! I wonder whether Michelle will stay in America, as it’s unlikely a similar break will be offered to her again, not through any fault of her own, or return to the UK where, for the most part, let’s be honest, the work available is far more diverse. I wish her well for the future…

Friday, 28 December 2007

Whatever Happened to Sara Griffiths?

Sometimes when you enjoy an actor’s performance in a favourite programme you keep a sharp eye open in the hope of catching them again in something else. After seeing them once or twice more, they then seem to vanish off the face of the Earth, never to be seen again, and you forget all about them or file them away at the back of your mind. Imogen Boorman was one such actress, for me, who was stunningly gorgeous in the “Hellraiser” sequel “Hellbound”. I believe she gave up acting following stints in “Coronation Street” and “Casualty”. After my last post, in which I compared “Voyage of the Damned” with an old Sylvester McCoy story, I began to wonder whatever happened to Sara Griffiths? I enjoyed her performance as gun-toting tomboy Ray in the “Doctor Who” story “Delta and the Bannermen”, a little over twenty years ago, and am still puzzled, to this day, as to why the producer, John Nathan-Turner, chose Sophie Aldred to succeed Bonnie Langford over the young Welsh actress. Based on their respective performances in “Delta and the Bannermen” and “Dragonfire”, I would’ve gone with Sara rather than Sophie. Sophie’s debut as Ace lacked confidence whereas you believe, wholeheartedly, in Sara’s motorcycle-loving Rachel.

I decided to do a little investigating to find out what became of Miss Griffiths! I discovered that, as a teenager, she was a can-can dancer at the world-famous Moulin Rouge in Paris! She’s appeared on television in the usual round of shows that you might expect to find an aspiring actress, “Emmerdale”, “The Bill”, “Holby City”, but what surprised me was that, for the last two years, she has been working as a presenter on the shopping channel QVC (Freeview, channel 16)! I confess I found that a little sad but a girl has to earn a living. I say girl because when she appeared in “Doctor Who” that’s what she was, a mere 18-year-old, and, naturally enough, that’s how I remember her. However, I managed to find a few screen caps from her appearances on QVC. I can’t say that I would’ve recognised her, after all these years, until looking more closely at her eyes! And, sure enough, that’s her alright, appropriately situated next to a silver Christmas tree! When you consider she is a trained dancer in ballet, flamenco, tap and contemporary dance and also an accomplished musician who plays the flute, guitar, recorder and keyboards, selling goods on telly seems rather a waste of talent but I suppose it all depends on how much you want to appear on TV!

Wednesday, 26 December 2007


I was really hoping for good things from “Voyage of the Damned”, the third successive “Doctor Who” Christmas Special. It couldn’t be any worse than last year’s “The Runaway Bride”, if only for the sole reason that Catherine Tate isn’t in the new episode! I tried to convince myself that, despite it being written by Russell T. Davies, the compensation would come from no less than four quality guest actors. Three of them, Geoffrey Palmer, George Costigan and Bernard Cribbins, I felt were sadly underused while, although good, Clive Swift was better as Mister Jobel in “Revelation of the Daleks”. This wasn’t the actor’s fault but the writer’s. Eric Saward, although heavily lambasted at the time, wrote much better “Doctor Who” stories than does the current head writer. And, producer Phil Collinson set himself up for a fall in a recent online interview with SFX magazine. The interviewer suggested the plot outline of “Voyage of the Damned” was not dissimilar to that of “Delta and the Bannermen” to which Phil replied that his latest production was better. It wasn’t. Interestingly, both stories are the same length but the twenty-year-old “Delta and the Bannermen” is both faster and funnier, more entertaining and even more exciting! The Heavenly Hosts featured in the current story, for example, were highly derivative; Angel masks replacing Santa ones from the two previous Christmas Specials!! They aped the mannerisms of the Ood and it felt, at times, as though we were either back on board the space liner Hyperion III, from the “Terror of the Vervoids” segment of “The Trial of a Time Lord”, or the massive sandminer vehicle which features in “The Robots of Death”. And, seafaring ships in space is, of course, an idea pinched from “Enlightenment”!

I find both Russell T. Davies and Phil Collinson to be more than a little immature and it comes across through the writing and production but, if you need further proof, rewatch the “Doctor Who Confidential” episode that accompanies “Time Crash”. In that same programme you’ll find Steven Moffat and Graeme Harper acquit themselves with far more credibility. Russell recently claimed that the production team can’t afford to make a poor episode, with over eight million viewers watching their every move, and yet the last two years have produced the worst four episodes (“Love & Monsters”, “Fear Her”, “The Runaway Bride”, “Last of the Time Lords”) in the entire history of the series. Even David Tennant seemed shocked by Russell’s recent offensive and insensitive remark that Hitler would’ve made a good Doctor! Huh?!! Davies isn’t even particularly good at bullshitting it seems!!! As was the case with the guest actors, I didn’t think there was enough of guest-companion Kylie Minogue, as Astrid Peth, in the story either. Kylie’s waitress never got to see inside the TARDIS. She was sacrificially-abandoned, along with other characters before her, well before the end; which only served to highlight the inadequacies of the script’s structure. Ironic that there’s an Aussie actress in the show, now the programme is based in Cardiff, when “Delta and the Bannermen” had a real Welsh guest-companion in Ray played by Sara Griffiths (pictured on the back of a Vincent motorcycle with seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy)! The moments of self-sacrifice in “Voyage of the Damned”, together with Mister Copper’s closing contemplations, were good, however, in what, otherwise, left me with that sinking feeling!!

Friday, 30 November 2007

The End of the World?

As the BBC’s screening of the First Season of “Heroes” draws to a close, I was saddened to discover that the future of this imaginative series might be in jeopardy. Firstly, the writers’ strike in America may cause the next run to be cut short. Whereas the First Season is comprised solely of Volume One, the Second is supposed to include both Volumes Two and Three. I believe work is completed on the first eleven episodes, that comprise Volume Two, whereas work has yet to start on the next eleven or twelve “chapters”, that make up Volume Three and the second half of the Second Season. Creator Tim Kring is considering shooting a new ending to episode eleven, “Powerless” (pictured), which may yet turn out to be the Season cliff-hanger if the strike is protracted. Secondly, Season Two has seen a massive decline in ratings in the States, accompanied by poor reviews, and the strike may just provide NBC with a convenient opportunity to “pull the plug” on a show now perceived to be performing badly.

I think it would be a shame to lose “Heroes” after such a short run. A similar fate befell “Twin Peaks”, cancelled after a brief opening Season followed by a much longer meandering Second, whereas “The X-Files” went on and on interminably, well after it had run out of ideas! “Heroes” has definitely not run out of ideas. It is “Peyton Place” for the 21st Century, post 9/11. The relationships are infinitely better-handled than in 21st Century “Doctor Who”, and this comes from someone who, these days, dislikes most American drama. The central relationship between Claire (Hayden Panettiere) and her Dad, H.R.G. (Jack Coleman), is one of the most affecting I’ve seen in a long while and superior in every way to that of Rose (Billie Piper) and her Mum (Camille Coduri) in the British show. “Heroes”, for the most part, treats its audience as intelligent. It resists the easy opportunism of inserting obvious pop songs into the melodrama. “Heroes” by David Bowie and “No More Heroes” by The Stranglers would’ve been on the soundtrack in the hands of a lesser Executive Producer! However, word has it that the Season One Finale, “How to Stop an Exploding Man”, is a bit of an anti-climax, after so much expectation, and it may well be this that proves to be the series’ ultimate downfall.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

The Early Life of Verity Lambert

Such is the way of life that having just celebrated the origins of “Doctor Who” in my previous post, I am saddened to report the death of the show’s original Producer, Verity Lambert, on Thursday, 22nd November, 2007. She died on the eve of her most famous creation’s forty-fourth anniversary and just five days before she would’ve turned seventy-two. Verity’s numerous achievements beyond our much-cherished, then-fledgling, Saturday teatime series are well-documented elsewhere so, as you might expect of this author, I am going to focus on her enormous contribution to the success of my favourite programme. Back in 1963, having moved to the BBC from ITV, at the request of Sydney Newman, she was given charge of producing a new, semi-educational, family-orientated science fiction serial at the tender age of twenty-seven. Not only did she become the youngest person to hold such an important position at the Corporation but she was also the only woman which, at that time, was unheard of! Sydney’s faith in her was well-founded though, as borne out in her realisation of his concept. There was minor disagreement over the introduction of those bug-eyed monsters the Daleks but, on realising their popularity, Canadian Newman acquiesced that Verity obviously knew the series better than he did!

Verity Lambert stayed with “Doctor Who” for two years producing a total of seventy-eight episodes (each approximately twenty-five minutes in length) transmitted between Saturday, 23rd November, 1963 and Saturday, 9th October, 1965. “An Unearthly Child”, the opening episode, introduced us to the Doctor, as played by William Hartnell, and his three companions: science teacher Ian Chesterton (William Russell), history teacher Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) and Granddaughter Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford). Central to the story is the teachers’ discovery, in a scrap yard of all places, of the Doctor’s TARDIS; a ship which can travel through space and time disguised from the outside as a Police Box! Ironically, Verity’s final broadcast episode, “Mission to the Unknown”, featured none of the regular cast but was used by way of an introduction to the massive twelve-part “Daleks’ Master Plan” epic which would follow the four-part historical “The Myth Makers”. Between her first and last episodes she oversaw three full Dalek serials, the first two of which, “The Daleks” and “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”, are undoubted classics while the latter, “The Chase”, exploded into an all-out battle between the Daleks and the Mechonoids. As her time on the series drew to a close, Verity introduced us to the Zarbi on “The Web Planet” and the Meddling Monk (Peter Butterworth), the original renegade with a TARDIS of his own, in “The Time Meddler”. Perhaps because this was a time when everything seemed fresh and new, the sheer volume of creativity that the original Producer of “Doctor Who” brought to the programme has never been surpassed and is never likely to be.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Happy Birthday to Who

Forty-four years ago today BBC Television gave birth to a little science fiction series which went on to become a national institution. That show was, of course, “Doctor Who”. It was carefully constructed so that three generations were represented aboard the TARDIS. The Doctor was a Grandfather. This was so embedded on my consciousness that when the original Doctor, William Hartnell, requested a holiday, and a plea went out for someone to replace him for a couple of weeks, long before the concept of regeneration was introduced, I responded in keeping with the original concept. I wouldn’t dream of going so far as to suggest that I gave the Producer the idea of replacing dear old Bill but I wrote to “Junior Points of View” and naturally suggested my Grandfather take over at the helm of the console room. My letter was read out on the programme. There are records kept of these things at the Beeb and what I wrote, all those years ago, later resurfaced in an article in “Doctor Who Magazine”. In turn, the periodical of all things “Who” requested that if anyone who had featured on this comments show of the Sixties had stayed with “Doctor Who” would they please get in touch. I turned out to be their only respondent which probably means nothing other than that I need to get out more!

Anyway, I digress! Alongside the Grandfather figure of the Doctor were the two parental symbols in the guise of history and science schoolteachers Barbara and Ian. Clever idea that, to have figures of authority and learning to contrast the lead’s non-establishment outlook who could both look forward and back at events in time. Then there was the teenage girl, Susan, for all us children to relate to; a brilliant child in some respects while a typical transistor radio-listening teen at other times. And she was the paradox pivotal to hooking the viewer in “An Unearthly Child”, the opening episode of “Doctor Who”. Four characters providing the perfect model of how to root a fantasy show in reality. I’m told by my own parents that I watched the series from the beginning but my earliest memories are of the two stories, recorded as part of the first series but held over to open the second, “Planet of Giants”, with its oversized box of matches and rather large kitchen-sink plughole, and the disused warehouses at the start of “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”. It saddens me, more than a little, to think that the singular wise old sage has given way to the common young action hero but it is remarkable to think that the thirtieth series of travels in time and space will be on our television screens in 2008... A double Happy Birthday to “Doctor Who”!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

High Five!

If you missed the mini-episode of “Doctor Who” during “Children in Need” on Friday, or would just like to see it again, here’s an easy way to view the programme. It holds up well under repeated viewing. As well as “Time Crash” itself, I’ve also included the accompanying “Confidential” documentary for the complete experience!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

“All My Love To Long Ago”

“Doctor Who” was back for all of eight minutes, as part of “Children in Need” night, in a mini-episode, written by Steven Moffat and directed by Graeme Harper, entitled “Time Crash”. I’ve already seen it described, subsequently, as “Time Crap” but I thought it was good fun with a rather poignant final minute. My favourite line was actually one given to tenth Doctor David Tennant, and thus the obvious choice for the title of this post, but, overall, I thought fifth Doctor Peter Davison out-acted his successor. He was “let’s be honest, pretty sort-of-marvellous”! Readers may think I’m prejudiced in his favour because I prefer the classic series to Russell T. Davies’ reinvention but that isn’t the reason. Peter wasn’t “My Doctor”, just the better actor on this occasion. They really only got it spot on, during his era, in his final story so it was intriguing to see the actor reunited with the director of that story, “The Caves of Androzani”, for this little, well-balanced, excursion.

While David may have had the best line, the one tinged with A. E. Housman-style regret of a past long since lost, the fifth Doctor had the leading question, and the one I’ve been asking myself for the last two years, when he asks the tenth, “Is there something wrong with you?”! Perhaps David is “the decorative vegetable” rather than Peter’s stick of celery!! Steven Moffat summed up the current Doctor’s predilection for “ranting in my face about every single thing that happens to be in front of him” perfectly!!! My only regret about “Time Crash” is that it wasn’t a full-length episode. Having gone to the trouble of rehiring a popular former-leading man from the series, together with the programme’s best director of that period combined (for the first time) with the writing skills of the current series’ best author, it would’ve been nice to see the central relationship developed further… as in “The Two Doctors”, one of my “Blue Remembered Hills”. I echo the sentiment, “All My Love To Long Ago”.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Wild Child Claire Bares!

H.R.G. (Jack Coleman) needs to control that adopted daughter (Hayden Panettiere) of his a little better! She looks to be in need of some serious discipline!! I could help out, there, if he gives me a call!!! True, he grounded her a while back and, like all naughty teenage daughters, she got out through her bedroom window with the aid of a ladder and her doting Romeo. In the hair stakes, she seems to be sporting a bit of a Phil Oakey. Perhaps she’s getting down to “Open Your Heart”? She and her Dad certainly did exactly that in a “Railway Children” moment at the conclusion of the most recent chapter of “Heroes”, “Company Man”, in which Ted Sprague (Matthew John Armstrong) held the Bennet family hostage before going nuclear… but didn’t die. Claude (Christopher Eccleston) was shot repeatedly, turned invisible, and fell from a bridge… but, as we all know, because it was in black and white, and because it was a flashback and he is still alive in the present day, he didn’t die! And H.R.G. himself had the Haitian (Jimmy Jean-Louis) shoot him in X-marks-the-spot in order to effect Claire’s escape… and guess what?… Noah Bennet didn’t die either. All that violence without any casualties is more amazing than, say, possessing the superpower of retro-metabolism! Below, the lovely Hayden exposes the true power of self-healing!!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Ten Past Five

The new edition of the Radio Times, out today, has a terrific “Doctor Who” cover. The look on fifth Doctor Peter Davison’s face says it all! Mind you, so does the smirk on the face of David Tennant’s tenth Doctor!! Peter is obviously wondering what-the-hell his future incarnation has done to the console room of his TARDIS? David is grinning, confident in the knowledge that he is now the big boss man! It’s a good picture but it does suggest that the “Children in Need” Special, “Time Crash”, is going to be played for laughs. I guess you can’t have an angst-ridden story when its purpose is to raise money for those less fortunate than ourselves. The new episode, written by Steven Moffat, airs on Friday 16th November, exactly a week before the 44th anniversary of the show on the 23rd. It’s interesting to note that the last time two Doctors collided, sixth Doctor Colin Baker with second Doctor Patrick Troughton, was also the last time the Time Lord faced the Sontarans, due to return next year. I wonder if Peter will be bringing any of his former companions with him? I’d love to see Peri again…

Monday, 5 November 2007


Dan Starkey is to play new “Doctor Who” companion Mister Potato Head, although in the script he goes by the name of Commander Skorr. That’s him, looking rather butch and just a teensy weenie bit mean, second from the right between Freema and David. I bet Joan Collins, as the Rani, won’t have shoulder pads in his size before regenerating into a younger, more virile, model! Mister Potato Head is, of course, a Sontaran and, together with the Doctor, will fend off evil alien menaces such as Martha Jones, with her prim white coat and unwanted advances, and dastardly Donna Noble, just plain pain and mouthy with it! Catherine Tate, nearly 40, who plays the delightful Donna, has reportedly had problems with her boobs, bouncing in a rather undignified fashion whilst fleeing various encounters of a singularly unnatural kind. Look at it this way, dear… When you are interviewed on the GMTV sofa, next spring, at least you and Lorraine Kelly will have something to talk about!! What an unsightly pair they’ll make, so early in the morning.

I can’t say I think much of the costume. The one in “The Two Doctors” was better…

…While Peri showed off her pins in a rather fetching pair of light-blue shorts trimmed with an orangey-red belt, Donna seems to be sporting an extraordinarily dull-looking set of grey flannels or, as the Americans would call them, PANTS! Oh, you thought I was talking about the Sontaran’s outfit. Yeah, that’s naff too!! As you can probably tell, I’m really looking forward to the next series of my favourite show (of all-time) with more anticipation than ever before. It looks like being very scary stuff indeed. Viewers may actually switch off from the sheer terror of it all. Having seen the pre-emptive publicity pictures, the discerning viewer might not even switch it on in the first place… if they know what’s good for them! Skorr blimey, Guv’nor!!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

“The Best”?!!

A t.A.T.u. greatest hits package, mostly comprising tracks from their first two studio albums, was released last year and passed me by unnoticed which, considering I consider myself a bit of a fan, surprised me when I found out earlier in the week! Perhaps I was unaware of it because I wasn’t expecting it. How many groups release a compilation after such a relatively short time on the pop music scene? This suggests, therefore, that they expect their success to be short-lived and that time is running out for them to cash in on their popularity. Maybe I’m over cynical but I get the feeling that they’re not particularly popular in the UK anyway! Save their number one hit single, “All the Things She Said”, I’m sure most people are hard pushed to name another song by the female duo. Participating in the Eurovision Song Contest probably didn’t help their credibility, even if it was an honour to represent their country, and not winning is always something of an embarrassment for a well-established name. I’ve always thought the UK might do better if we entered someone like Girls Aloud but they probably wouldn’t want to risk their reputation, such as it is, for the reasons already stated in relation to t.A.T.u..

On the other hand, the t.A.T.u. album, “The Best”, is certainly value for money in terms of quantity, especially if you haven’t invested in any of their back catalogue. It contains twenty tracks while the deluxe edition also comes with a DVD. Surprisingly, the CD opens with “All About Us”, the lead single from their second album “Dangerous and Moving”. The title “All About Us” rather-literally indicates what is to follow! The single was a number one in foreign climes but not in this country. “Dangerous and Moving” seemed only to receive a limited release here. I saw the single in supermarkets but not the collection from which it was taken, prompting me to ask, at the time, if they would be stocking it… for which I received the usual bemused look! If Asda, and such places, want to dominate in this arena, they’re going to have to work a little harder. If they don’t want to stock a, presumably, major release by a well-known pop artist, choice will become incredibly restricted for the consumer, if it isn’t already. It’s not like I was asking for “Pithoprakta” by Xenakis or Ligeti’s “Lontano”!

I was dubious about the choice of “The Best” for the title, too, rather than “The Best of”, a seemingly-insignificant distinction, you might think, but the former implies a somewhat arrogant assumption. Then I discovered the record was originally going to be called “The Chrysalis Period”! Seeing as t.A.T.u. are pop stars with SF inclinations, perhaps the girls should follow Billie and Kylie into “Doctor Who”!!

Friday, 26 October 2007

From Russia with Love?

It really is a bit chilly in West Kensington at this time of year, even allowing for global warming, so I was thinking that ex-“Celebrity Big Brother” contestant Danielle Lloyd was just a teeny weenie bit ill-advised to go out on a photo shoot wearing nothing save a skimpy bikini, despite its fetching shade of yellow matching that of her oversized prop! But then, as everyone knows, this particular model isn’t renowned for the size of her brain!! Quite why she would promote the launch of some ski company, so inappropriately dressed, is beyond me? Wouldn’t you dress up warmly to go skiing, to ward off the possibility of catching a slight chill?! And, what’s a weapon of mass destruction got to do with taking a vacation?!!

In some shots the “lovely” Danielle is wearing an ushanka (Russian fur cap with ear flaps) like a spy in a cold war “Bond” movie, or my old choirmaster! And, in others, the wee lassie sports a pair of moon boots which put me in mind of Jon Pertwee’s autobiography “Moon Boots and Dinner Suits”. There are even pictures in which she is wearing both and thus seems, all things considered, a little overdressed! If Miss Lloyd wrote her autobiography, no doubt with the help of a ghostwriter, maybe she could call it “Moon Boots and Birthday Suits”! It’s all a little bizarre, though, in that it’s not entirely clear what this company is trying to say through their advertising campaign. Something along the lines of… Come on a skiing holiday with us and you’ll meet a totally gorgeous babe wearing next to nothing, out in the snow, but beware of the tanks because, like The Stranglers’ song says, they can maim?

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Singin’ in the Rain!

Rihanna established herself, big-time, in the summer of 2005 with her debut smash hit, “Pon de Replay” and has continued to demonstrate her smash hit potential in subsequent years (e.g. “S.O.S.”, 2006; “Umbrella”, 2007). By the time of her third album, “Good Girl Gone Bad” (2007), she was a full-fledged international pop star with a regular presence atop the charts, from Germany to Japan.

Born Robyn Rihanna Fenty on February 20, 1988, in Saint Michael, Barbados, she always exhibited a special quality, winning beauty and talent contests as a schoolchild. But because she lived on the fairly remote island of Barbados in the West Indies, she never foresaw the sort of stardom that would later befall her. That stardom came courtesy of a fateful meeting with a man named Evan Rogers. The New Yorker was vacationing in Barbados with his wife, a native of the island, when someone turned him on to Rihanna. Since Rogers had spent years producing pop artists -- including superstars like *NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Kelly Clarkson, Laura Pausini, and Rod Stewart -- he offered her the opportunity to record some music after he recognized her talent and potential. Along with Rogers’ production partner, Carl Sturken (the other half of Syndicated Rhythm Productions), Rihanna recorded some demos that sparked the interest of the Carter Administration -- that is, newly appointed Def Jam president Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. This led to an audition and, in turn, an on-the-spot offer to sign with Def Jam, which Rihanna indeed inked on the spot. Come the summer of 2005, Def Jam rolled out “Pon de Replay”, the lead single of “Music of the Sun”, which was produced almost entirely by Rogers and Sturken and which synthesized Caribbean rhythms and beats with urban-pop song writing.

“Pon de Replay” caught fire almost immediately, climbing all the way to number two on The Billboard Hot 100 and contesting the half-summer reign of Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” atop the chart, and this was before “Music of the Sun” even had been released. The album spawned one other hit, “If It’s Lovin’ That You Want”, which broke the Top 40. Rihanna’s follow-up album, “A Girl Like Me”, was a greater success, spawning three big hits: a chart-topper (“S.O.S.”) and two Top Tens (“Unfaithful”, “Break It Off”). Rihanna’s third album, “Good Girl Gone Bad” (2007), continued her success and, more notably, signalled a change of direction. Whereas her past two albums had been imbalanced -- often weighed down by faceless balladry and canned Caribbean-isms -- “Good Girl Gone Bad” was a first-rate dance-pop album. Moreover, it was surprisingly solid, stacked with potential singles and easily enjoyable from beginning to end. Collaborators included Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Timbaland, and StarGate. The lead single, “Umbrella”, shot to number one and, for the third year in a row, was a potential “song of the summer”. By this point it was clear that Rihanna had become one of the biggest singles artists of the mid-2000s.

Source: Jason Birchmeier, All Music Guide

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

A Room with a View - November 4th, ITV1

Timothy Spall and his son Rafe are to appear together for the first time as father and son in a new ITV adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel “A Room with a View”.

This classic drama, set against the backdrop of rural Italy and England in the early twentieth century, tells the story of the impressionable young English woman, Lucy Honeychurch, and her attempts to find love and happiness.

In 1912, chaperoned by her cousin Charlotte, Lucy arrives at an Italian guesthouse looking for adventure. There she meets Mr. Emerson and his unusual son George, who offer up their room with a view to the newcomers…

Lucy soon finds herself drawn to George, but all too quickly the holiday ends and Lucy returns to her normal life in England. Time passes and she gets engaged to a new man, Cecil Vyse – but will she be able to go through with the marriage when George suddenly reappears in her life?

Timothy Spall (“Auf Wiedersehen, Pet” & “Shooting the Past”) and son Rafe (“The Chatterley Affair” & “Dracula”) play Mr. Emerson and his son George in this adaptation by Andrew Davies (“Pride and Prejudice” & “Bleak House”), while Elaine Cassidy (“Felicia’s Journey” & “Fingersmith”) and Laurence Fox (“Gosford Park” & “Lewis”) play the parts of Lucy Honeychurch and Cecil Vyse.

Source: ITV Drama

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Opening Gambits

Watching television in recent years, I’ve noticed a decline in the importance of the opening title sequence and accompanying theme tune. Take “Torchwood”, for example. Did I hear somebody reply, “I wish you would”?! It has a title sequence, listing the actors, but is very brief. And now “Heroes”. Shorter still, it imparts the show’s title and creator, Tim Kring. These two examples aren’t going to go down in the annals as anyone’s favourites. Maybe they just want to get on with the story. “Heroes” theme tune, in terms of length, is a far cry from other American series of the same genre. Look at all the “Star Trek” series, the opening title sequences of which all seem to go on forever, especially “Deep Space Nine” with its slow dirge-like fanfares. The cynic in me suggests the longer the opening melody the less material has to be produced before reaching the closing credits. Veering slightly off subject, BBC ONE never shows any closing titles for “Spooks”. I have no idea why? They made a big deal of it to begin with, as being a radical departure from the norm, but these credits do exist as they are shown on BBC THREE. That makes the BBC ONE transmissions of “Spooks” incomplete to my way of thinking, not remotely radical, but simply a thorn in the side of the completist!

Of course, you all know I’m going to cite the original version of the “Doctor Who” theme tune as one of the finest examples of the art of opening a show! Written by Ron Grainer and electronically realised by Delia Derbyshire, it knocks spots off the most recent, overblown and bloated, orchestral reinterpretation. The piece of music itself is actually quite thin when you analyse it. This is because, like early Roxy Music, there are no thirds in the accompanying chords. I’ve no doubt, however, that this was the intention as it’s one of the aspects that contribute to the underlying eeriness of the composition. One of the best matched of theme tunes to image is that of Gerry Anderson’s “UFO”. I have a feeling this is because the pictures were edited to Barry Gray’s piece of music rather than the music written to accompany the completed piece of film. Done the traditional way, of adding music to the final cut, would’ve been nigh impossible to synch in this instance. The pace of both music and image is remarkable. It’s commonly believed that television is faster today but just look at this particular sequence. The “UFO” opener holds up well and is, perhaps, only let down by numerous shots of ladies’ bottoms, undoubtedly now regarded as sexist in our politically correct world! I think it’s brilliant and not necessarily for the reasons you may now be thinking!! In the space of just over a minute, it cleverly introduces all the main characters, concepts and machines, telling a potted version of the story so that you know what to expect from each episode. They knew how to make television back in 1969!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Sibling Rivalry?

I wonder which of the Minogue sisters is the more successful? How do you judge their success? Financially or artistically?!! I don’t suppose they care or even see it in that way. The public sees Kylie as the dominant one but it’s Dannii who has the most air time, currently on British TV, appearing as one of the judges in “The X Factor”. I can’t offer an opinion as to whether or not she’s any good in this role because I’ve never watched it and never will. As far as I’m concerned, appearing on a talent show in order to try and find fame in the pop industry is a waste of time. Join a band. Form a band. Rehearse. Play gigs. Old fashioned approach, I know, but maybe that’s why the songs of yesteryear are way better than most of the ones on offer today. Dannii may be on our screens more than her sister, at the moment, but Kylie is the one with the anticipated tenth album “X”. And it’s Kylie who’ll be on our screens Christmas Day!

Dannii was initially considered the more successful of the pair in the Minogue’s native Australia. Both sisters were first seen in the UK in daily soap operas but Dannii was already successful as a regular performer on the weekly music programme “Young Talent Time”. Kylie only started to overshadow her younger sister when she took on the role of the girl next door type in “Neighbours” while Dannii tried her own hand at acting as a teen tearaway in rival show “Home and Away”. I wonder if these two parts have had a knock on effect where Kylie is seen as the nice one and Dannii the nuisance. The public do tend to take these things to heart, often believing that characters and the actors and actresses who play them are one and the same, interchangeable personalities, even if only subconsciously! I’ve even seen Dannii described as always looking constipated whereas, once upon a time, I thought she was the more attractive of the two girls.

Both of the Minogue sisters went on to have successful pop careers although Kylie’s has, without doubt, far eclipsed Dannii’s. I must confess to not being able to remember a single song title by the younger sister despite having watched her on numerous occasions on the now sadly defunct “Top of the Pops”. When I worked in a CD store during the Eighties, it was a running joke how much I couldn’t stand Kylie. But, I have mellowed towards her which is more than will ever happen regards Robbie Williams, with whom the poor lass once had the misfortune to duet! On the plus side, I think her work with the Manics but especially the duet with Nick Cave, “Where the Wild Roses Grow”, helped me enormously in appreciating her a little more. I was particularly partial to the languorous “Confide in Me” which allows itself some room to breathe where the more robotic disco of “Can’t Get You out of My Head” somehow lacks soul. Still a very good pop single though.

Both Minogue girls’ careers definitely seem to be going through a bit of a renaissance and it’s nice to see Kylie’s positivity following her recent health problems. Both sisters are also, undeniably, better grounded than a certain Miss Britney Spears. While the American seems content to wallow in sleaze, Kylie and Dannii - at least - still know the meaning of fun!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Good Girl Goes Gold!

Rihanna’s rise to the top of the popular music industry has been rapid, to say the least. She’s been in the public eye for roughly the same amount of time as “Doctor Who” has been back on air in the UK. She’s been very productive, too, for a pop artist, producing an album a year over the last three years. In 2005, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, to give her her full name, released her debut CD, “Music of the Sun”, the songs on which reflect her native Barbados. This record spawned the first two of - currently - a total of ten singles, “Pon de Replay” and “If it’s Lovin’ that You Want”. These two tracks would reappear, in new versions, on the end of her second album, “A Girl Like Me” (2006), presumably to help sales! A further four singles were lifted from this release; “SOS”, which samples Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”; the beautifully-understated “Unfaithful”, written by R‘n’B singer Ne-Yo and with whom she would later collaborate on her third full-length release; the less successful “We Ride”; and “Break it Off”, featuring Sean Paul, meaning this disc actually contains a total of six singles and thus borders, already at such an early stage in her career, on a greatest hits package!!

One year later and Rihanna’s ascension is complete! I would go so far as to say Miss Fenty is now bigger than either Britney or Kylie. They’ll be battling it out next month for chart domination but I can’t see either beating the phenomenal success of Rihanna’s lead single, “Umbrella”, from her third album “Good Girl Gone Bad” (2007). Again, this release contains four singles. They are the aforementioned ultra-successful “Umbrella” featuring Jay-Z, which opens the album; “Shut Up and Drive”, the fifth track on the CD; the funkier “Don’t Stop the Music”, which is the disc’s third song; and, finally, sixth track “Hate That I Love You”, a duet with Ne-Yo, is a ballad accompanied by a clever little video with a twist in its tale. This type of R‘n’B isn’t usually my thing but, on this occasion, Rihanna’s third album seems to be infused with a rock sensibility which makes it more agreeable to my ear! I’ve posted the promos that accompany these four tracks in a “Rihanna Special” on my Jukebox, currently at the bottom of the front page, together with a slightly distorted performance of second single “Shut Up and Drive”, from the “Late Show with David Letterman”, directly above it. Hope you enjoy listening to some of the songs from what will probably end up being voted album of the year!!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Miss Takes

I’ve resisted offering an opinion on the progress of the next series of “Doctor Who”… until now! But, if true, the latest revelations on how Series Four will end just beggar belief!! For goodness sake, someone with some clout please have the courage to tell Russell T. Davies that less is more. Robert Holmes was one of the finest writers to work on the classic series of “Doctor Who” and he turned down the job of writing “The Five Doctors” twentieth anniversary story on the grounds there were too many leading characters. So, why is the new series’ lead writer now proceeding to make exactly the same error of judgment? He must know his “Who” history and yet he blunders on! Just read the following Daily Star item from a few days ago…

“Doctor Who” bosses are set to call back FOUR of the Time Lord’s favourite assistants – including Billie Piper – for a sensational showdown. The old cast members will be reunited to help the Doctor fight evil Dalek creator Davros in an explosive finale to the next series.

Leading the way in the line-up will be Billie (Piper) as Rose Tyler along with the rest of the Tyler family; they will hook up with the TARDIS traveller’s latest assistants Martha Jones and Donna Noble. Also on hand to help out the Doctor will be his old companion Sarah Jane Smith as well as “Torchwood” boss Captain Jack Harkness. Even the Time Lord’s dog K-9 will make an appearance.

The TV source said: “This is the daddy of all shows. The writer Russell T. Davies really wants to pull out all the stops for the finale next year.”

As well as the aforementioned load of old nonsense, reports also suggest the return of the Sontarans. They are too similar, in design, to the Judoon. I think the programme would fare better, next year, with an appearance from the Ice Warriors. Just a personal preference. I grew up with the series in the Sixties and thus view the Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors and Yeti as the four main adversaries of the Doctor but I wouldn’t be averse to seeing the Silurians or Sea Devils again as long as the latter dump their string vests!

On the plus side, both the Christmas and Rome episodes boast strong casts. Joining David Tennant and Kylie Minogue on the Titanic, alongside Geoffrey Palmer and Clive Swift, is George Costigan. I recently rewatched him in a rerun of P. D. James’s “A Mind to Murder” and thought him superb. I have fond memories of him, also, as the editor of The Jupiter newspaper in “The Barchester Chronicles”.

The Rome episode includes “The Thick of It” actor Peter Capaldi guest starring as Caecillius. I remember him as pop star Zeno opposite George Baker as Inspector Wexford in “Some Lie and Some Die”, one of “The Ruth Rendell Mysteries”. He’s joined by “Quadrophenia” and “Rose and Maloney” actor Phil Davis as Lucius. He is always terrific, never more so than in “Births, Marriages and Deaths” and, more recently, in “Bleak House”. “Howards’ Way” and “Born and Bred” actress Tracey Childs plays Metella. I remember her in the Gareth Thomas vehicle “Morgan’s Boy” and, before that, as Marianne Dashwood in an early-Eighties’ production of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”. So, all things considered, it’s not entirely bad news!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Taken 2 the Cleaner!

I just want to let you all know, I’ve hired a new cleaning lady. She’s not particularly good at her job but I thought, all things considered, keeping a tidy house no longer seems such a priority. She sings her heart out when she’s on the job, a right little songbird! Strange choice of subject matter, though. Seems to get passionate about staying out of the rain… I told her as long as she works for me she need never go outside again. She’s more than welcome to stay undercover. I didn’t want to appear dictatorial about it and told her it’s her choice if she wants to get wet! I complimented her on her singing and suggested she take it up professionally. The girl only went and took me at my word. I know it’s only early October but, would you Adam and Eve it, she looks as though she’s secured herself the position of top-selling single of the year 2007, by a mile. It was Shirley Manson of Garbage who once sang about “Golden Showers” - strikes me those words are better suited to this young lady!! Miss Fenty - that’s her with the vacuum - tells me she’s gonna “stick it out ’till the end”. It looks as though she’s a girl of her word and already doing exactly that!!!

Irish Rumour Scotched?

Ulster star Jimmy Nesbitt has dismissed rumours that he could be the next Time Lord.

Gossip columns were rife with rumours that the Coleraine man would receive the TARDIS key this summer.

However, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on Friday night, the father of two dashed sci-fi fans’ hopes that he would become the first “Doctor Who” with a Northern Ireland accent.

The 42-year-old “Cold Feet” star said he had heard the rumours, but added: “There is no truth in it at all. David (Tennant) and Chris (Eccleston) were so good I don’t think I could follow them. I think I would be found out!” he joked.

When asked if he would consider the role if approached by the creators of “Doctor Who”, he said: “I think not.”

It was alleged that Jimmy would take over from the current Time Lord David Tennant - who is rumoured to be quitting at the end of the next series, along with executive producer Russell T. Davies - to become the eleventh incarnation of the famous time travelling Doctor.

Nesbitt enjoyed success in the six-part series “Jekyll” and is well-known for his role in police drama “Murphy’s Law”.

And the actor said he hoped he could continue making “Murphy’s Law”.

“I hope I can, it has been a great experience, a great challenge,” he said.

Interview by Victoria O’Hara © Belfast Telegraph

Friday, 5 October 2007

Spooky Goings-on!

By strange coincidence, I purchased Series Five of “Spooks” on DVD, earlier in the week, the very day I saw the trailer, in the evening, for Series Six for the first time, sandwiched between “Heroes” and “Heroes Unmasked”! I’d been wondering, for a while, when it was actually going to start as, this time last year, it was already up-and-running. I was beginning to think that the BBC were going to hold over the new series until the New Year but not so!! “Spooks” is back on our screens from the middle of this month…

Spooks - Episode One
Tuesday 16 October 2007

Story Line

Adam and Zaf target a UK-bound terrorist with a train bomb in Tehran. As the operation goes catastrophically wrong, the team learn of the darker goals of their mission and the influence of a mysterious external agent, with the repercussions of the Tehran blast felt on the streets of London.

Episode 1/2 - In-Depth Synopsis (Contains Spoilers)

The team are sent undercover in Iran when they receive intelligence that suspected terrorist Mehan Asnik is plotting a bomb attack on London. Their aim is to blow up Asnik in Tehran, making it look like a terrorist attack, but just as the team are about to detonate the charge, a train packed with civilians pulls up yards from the target. With the operation at a critical stage, the team must make a split-second decision that could cost many innocent lives.

Spooks - Episode Two
Tuesday 16 October 2007

Story Line

The highly-contagious plague-like virus unleashed by the Tehran blast is on the streets of London and a wounded, infected Zaf has been captured, possibly already killed. As the team races against time to stop the virus spreading, they corral and infect top international spies in a bid to discover a vaccine.

Episode 2/2 - In-Depth Synopsis (Contains Spoilers)

With Britain facing a deadly plague, Harry rounds up key spies from nations likely to be involved in the plot, and begins an interrogation that he hopes will lead him to the vaccine. But these are some of the world’s most hardened characters and they are going to need a lot of persuading. Ruthless agent Connie James is charged with obtaining the information, and what better weapon to use against her captives than the threat of infecting them with the virus itself?

Principal Cast

Adam Carter - Rupert Penry-Jones
Harry Pearce - Peter Firth
Ros Myers - Hermione Norris
Zafar Younis - Raza Jaffrey
Jo Portman - Miranda Raison
Malcolm Wynn-Jones - Hugh Simon
Connie James - Gemma Jones

Story Lines & Synopses ©

Thursday, 4 October 2007

France Walks With Lynch

The acclaimed US film-maker David Lynch has been awarded France’s top civilian honour, the Legion d’Honneur.

Lynch is famed for productions such as “The Elephant Man” and “Mulholland Drive”, plus cult hit TV series “Twin Peaks”.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed his eclectic “genius”. Lynch replied in halting French: “My French is poor, but my heart is rich today thanks to you.”

Lynch has film credits including work as a director, writer, producer, actor, cinematographer and composer.

He was also nominated for four Oscars - twice for “The Elephant Man” and once each for “Mulholland Drive” and “Blue Velvet”.

Lynch was accompanied by his partner, actress Emily Stofle, and was flanked at the ceremony by director Roman Polanski, plus actresses Fanny Ardant and Charlotte Rampling.

“It’s no secret that I love France, the art-making, art-loving and art-supporting people of France,” he said.

Mr Sarkozy told the director that seeing “The Elephant Man” as a teenager had “definitively convinced” him that “cinema was a highly important matter”.


Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Space Girl

Perhaps this is where the rumour came from that David Bowie is to appear in an episode of the next series of “Doctor Who”! The sleeve for Kylie’s new single, “2 Hearts”, is more than a little reminiscent of David Bowie’s early-Seventies’ “Aladdin Sane” album cover with perhaps an added touch of Kiss. That’s the makeup sorted while the hair is very much Bowie again, combed over and slicked back, circa his “Young Americans” period. Ms Minogue’s single is released on November 12th with her tenth studio album, appropriately titled “X”, to follow a fortnight later on the 26th. I wonder who she’s met recently with 2 hearts, who also happens to be the tenth, to inspire her so?!!

Sunday, 30 September 2007

A Meeting of Minds

There’s a bonus for buffs of “Heroes”, in this coming Wednesday’s episode “The Fix”, with the guest appearance of not one, but two actors from sci-fi bedrocks: Christopher Eccleston from “Doctor Who” and George Takei, alias Mr Sulu in “Star Trek”. As Claude the Invisible Man, Eccleston is typically perky, and happily rejects the traditional English-actor-in-US-drama accent, while Takei is glimpsed briefly in the role of Hiro’s father. And, although the plot hardly shifts at warp speed, there are enough bite-sized intrigues to keep regular viewers hooked.

Behind the scenes of the science fiction drama series, producers of “Heroes” trawled the globe to pick the right actors and actresses to appear in the show. Creator Tim Kring reveals in the eleventh episode of the supporting documentary series “Heroes Unmasked”, entitled “The Invisible Touch”, why he chose British actor Christopher Eccleston to play the role of Peter Petrelli’s reluctant mentor. Greg Grunberg, who plays police officer Matt Parkman, describes how he caused chaos at his audition, and George Takei talks about his role as Kaito Nakamura.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Doll Parts

Inspired by Steve’s recent post “Hamble is Evil”, I was reminded of a “lovely” photo of ex-“Blue Peter” and “Crufts” presenter Peter Purves, taken for the 1973 “Radio Times Doctor Who Tenth Anniversary Special”, in which he’s surrounded by a selection of rather inert-looking toy soldiers, rebellious robots and killer dolls.

Referencing one of the “Doctor Who” stories in which he’d appeared, in his acting days during the Sixties (“The Celestial Toymaker”), I’m thinking Peter wouldn’t have looked out of place as one of the “Monty Python” team! In this picture, he’s the “Spitting Image” of a certain Eric Idle!! “Know what I mean, know what I mean?” I’ll “say no more”!!!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Breakfast AND tea with Miss Smith!

This is an excellent interview with Elisabeth Sladen from yesterday morning’s “BBC Breakfast” in promotion of her new ten-part children’s series “The Sarah Jane Adventures”, the first two episodes of which were also transmitted yesterday, late afternoon. The interview includes a clip from the opening story as well as another from her time on “Doctor Who” in the Seventies, specifically “Planet of the Spiders”, and a third from her meeting with the tenth Doctor last year. Those comedy villains from Raxacoricofallapatorius kicked off the new series in typically-glossy style. Episode one of “Revenge of the Slitheen”, on BBC ONE, ended with a multiple cliff-hanger reminiscent of the one in “Aliens of London”, their original “Doctor Who” outing two years ago, with everyone being menaced at different locations by the oh-so-terrifying creatures!

Farting wasn’t optional and neither was the splattering of two of the regular cast, towards the climax of the concluding episode, over on CBBC, with exploding slime-green Slitheen. That, coupled with the school setting, meant it inevitably felt a little like last year’s “Doctor Who” episode “School Reunion”. Anthony Head played a more sinister headmaster then than did his counterpart in the opening “Sarah Jane Adventure” and, in retrospect, he would’ve been even better utilised playing the Master himself, especially when compared to John Simm’s recent interpretation of the role. Yasmin Paige acquitted herself particularly well as the journalist’s neighbour Maria Jackson, essentially companion to Sarah Jane as Doctor figure, but don’t get me started on Maria’s irritating mother! Imagine being locked in a room with Rose’s mum, Martha’s mum and, now, Maria’s mum!!! A bigger threat to the safety of the world than the Slitheen could ever muster!!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Bent on Revenge! (Updated)

The Sarah Jane Adventures
Revenge of the Slitheen - Part 1

Monday 24 September 2007
5.00-5.25pm BBC ONE
Revenge of the Slitheen - Part 2
Monday 24 September 2007
5.30-6.00pm CBBC

Sarah Jane Smith, investigative journalist and former companion to the Doctor, is back in a brand-new CBBC drama from the makers of “Doctor Who”. And, in the first two-part story of the series, she faces some familiar alien enemies of the Doctor as the Slitheen are back and out for revenge...

On their first day at their new school Maria and Luke soon realise that all is not as it seems. There’s a funny smell, the food keeps going off, the teachers keep farting and the new technology block is hiding some dark secrets.

With their suspicions aroused, Sarah Jane, Maria and Luke set about investigating, joined by their new friend Clyde. They soon discover that the Slitheen have disguised themselves as teachers as part of a deadly plan which threatens the future of the Earth.

But as Maria, Luke and Clyde become trapped in the new technology block in the clutches of the Slitheen and with Sarah Jane under attack from another of the alien monsters, will the gang be able to stop the Slitheen from switching off the Sun before it’s too late?

Sarah Jane Smith is played by Elisabeth Sladen, who also starred as Sarah Jane in the Seventies’ “Doctor Who” series as a companion to the third and fourth Doctors. Maria Jackson, Sarah Jane’s neighbour and sidekick, is played by Yasmin Paige. Luke Smith, Sarah Jane’s adopted son who was created by aliens, is played by Thomas Knight and Daniel Anthony plays the streetwise Clyde.

“Revenge of the Slitheen” is a two-part story written by Gareth Roberts, who also writes for “Doctor Who”, and Russell T. Davies is one of the executive producers.

Text © BBC Press Office - Week 39
Picture from Doctor Who Online
(Originally posted on 09/09/07 at 09:30)

Friday, 21 September 2007


It’s interesting that the most moving moment of “Heroes”, thus far, and the UK is now exactly in the middle of the first season, is borne out of the relationship between the character who is meant to be the light relief, Hiro (Masi Oka), and a supporting character who has but a few scenes, the diner-waitress Charlie (Jayma Mays). The moment they almost kiss in the episode “Six Months Ago”, only for Hiro to be whisked away before they can consummate their affection for one another, mirrors the scene in the “Doomsday” season two finale of new “Doctor Who”, when the Doctor (David Tennant) doesn’t quite get to tell Rose (Billie Piper) that he reciprocates her love. The difference is that while the good Doctor dwells on the sentimentality of the scene, with tears aplenty, in “Heroes” it’s over in a split second leaving you dumbfounded as the drama moves inexorably on to the next scene.

To compound the tragedy of losing the one you love, not only can Hiro not alter the course of her destiny, and save Charlie from her murder, but it’s revealed she has a brain tumour and was going to die anyway. Ironically, Hiro had given her back the will to live, doting on the girl with his truly-loving gifts of origami, a Japanese phrase book and the more-traditional flowers! Their relationship lasted the course of several episodes and, although not occupying much screen time, the brief love affair made Charlie’s demise all the more potent than the ultimate fate of Eden (Nora Zehetner), blowing her own brains out in “Fallout”, under the control of the imprisoned arch-nemesis Sylar (Zachary Quinto).

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

RTD on SJA in RT

It was the likes of 70s’ children’s dramas “Children of the Stones” (supernatural goings-on in an English village) and “The Tomorrow People” (ordinary teenagers developing superpowers) that inspired a young Russell T. Davies to become a television scriptwriter. “I loved the sort of dramas that were set in this world, but had an otherworldliness to them,” he says. “They had all this possibility that there were fantastic forces at work beneath the ordinariness of the world. How marvellous!”

When he became a writer, working on ITV’s groundbreaking “Children’s Ward” and creating “Dark Season” (a proto-“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” children’s drama) for the BBC in the 90s, Davies’s fascination with children’s TV continued. “From my time on “Children’s Ward”, I learnt an enormous amount from [its creators] Paul Abbott and Kay Mellor. It dealt with tough issues such as rape and anorexia, but it also did stories for younger viewers exquisitely.”

Despite his success on such shows, Davies knew that his heart wasn’t in children’s drama. “It wasn’t my natural audience. The committed practitioners of children’s TV are passionate about talking to six-year-olds – like Anne Wood who created “In the Night Garden”. But I wasn’t. I was slipping jokes about Emily Brontë into “Breakfast Serials” – a programme I used to do on Saturday mornings – and I realised then I was writing for hung-over students and it was time for me to depart.”

But now, after hits such as “Queer as Folk” (1999), “Bob and Rose” (2001) plus, of course, the reinvention of “Doctor Who”, Davies has returned to CBBC as executive producer of the ten-part “Who” spin-off “The Sarah Jane Adventures”.

The series, which follows a successful pilot at New Year, features former companion Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane, her adopted teen son Luke, neighbour Maria and their new friend Clyde. But 21st-century kids’ TV is a vastly different landscape from the one Davies left. “I fancied the challenge of writing something for children based on “Doctor Who” at the same time as CBBC were keen on something. There was talk of the adventures of the young Doctor on Gallifrey, but I said absolutely not. When we brought back Sarah for [2006 “Who” episode] “School Reunion”, she worked wonderfully and the idea blossomed from there. I think it’s important to make children’s drama as strong as any other sort, but it’s changed a lot. Now, children’s TV is for kids between six and twelve, so the more adult stuff has migrated to the likes of “Hollyoaks”. With “The Sarah Jane Adventures”, I had to be aware of the audience being young. You have to monitor yourself not to be paternalistic or not to write in a strand of romance, but to keep it aimed squarely at that audience.”

With the presence of aliens with sinister plans, does “strong” equal “scary”? “I wouldn’t want children to be left in a state of dread. Fear is fine, but I do have a problem with terror.”

So what of the state of children’s TV today? Does he feel, as author Philip Pullman does, that a lot of it is “social poison” with children treated as marketing opportunities? “It’s a profound mistake just to look at the toy on the shelf and ignore the programme, which has got to be good in the first place for kids to watch.

“And just because something’s American and there are 22 episodes, people assume it’s rubbish. “That’s So Raven”, for example, is a decent little sitcom and very well acted. And the main character isn’t stick-thin, so that’s magnificent, too. “High School Musical” could have been so much cleverer, but with the likes of Disney investing so much money in children’s TV, I do feel optimistic about its future.”

Interview by Gareth McLean © Radio Times (page 31)
Cover from Doctor Who Online

Monday, 17 September 2007

The Garden of Eden

Continuing on from the previous post, the next three episodes of “Heroes” can be seen this coming Wednesday (19 September 2007) beginning at 9.00pm, on BBC TWO, with episode ten’s first terrestrial screening. It’s immediately followed at 9.45pm by another “Heroes Unmasked”, entitled “Dark Angel Gabriel”, this week focusing on villain Sylar, a man desperate to be “special” by any means necessary. Episodes eleven and twelve can be seen by switching over to BBC THREE at 10.00pm. Sadly, the first of THREE’s double bill is Nora Zehetner’s swansong…

9.00pm “Six Months Ago” - “Heroes” makes a dramatic U-turn in this episode as we flash back six months to a time when the heroes didn’t know they were heroes at all. But they, and we, see the signs of their burgeoning superpowers. For instance, little Claire has yet to be made a cheerleader, but an accident with a window leads both her and her dad to marvel at her powers of self-healing, while cheery Hiro is mired in that strange diner with the apparently doomed waitress. The disparate group is linked by Mohinder Suresh’s dad and his quest to identify these potentially world-saving, yet quite ordinary, members of the public. It’s an absorbing journey, made even more piquant because of all the knowledge we’ve gathered about these people during the previous nine episodes. And perhaps most important of all, we learn the identity of the mysterious, murderous Sylar.

10.00pm “Fallout” - The tragic events in Texas have sad, serious repercussions for many of the heroes, their families and friends. Shocking details about the moments leading up to Isaac’s predicted New York City nuclear bombing are revealed. Later, Isaac’s newest painting has fascinating future implications for a hero in crisis. Niki is forced to make a difficult decision to protect her family. Suresh takes the first steps along his new path.

10.40pm “Godsend” - Nathan’s determination to save a comatose Peter forces him to turn to Simone for help. Isaac’s puzzling “Hiro vs. T-Rex” painting inspires Hiro and Ando to search for the pictured samurai sword. Jessica struggles against Niki’s decision to turn herself into the police. With his associate Eden dead and Matt on his heels, HRG tries to focus on his orders regarding Sylar.

Supporting Cast

Sylar/Gabriel Gray - Zachary Quinto
Chandra Suresh - Erick Avari
Jackie Wilcox - Danielle Savre
Mysterious Haitian - Jimmy Jean-Louis
Janice Parkman - Elizabeth Lackey
Angela Petrelli - Cristine Rose
Hal Sanders - Graham Beckel
Heidi Petrelli - Rena Sofer
Tom - Rick Peters
Brian Davis - David Berman
Eden McCain - Nora Zehetner
Charlie - Jayma Mays
Lynette - Sally Champlin
Texas Tina - Deirdre Quinn
Sheriff - Josh Clark
Deputy Lloyd - Michael Maury
Deputy Ryan - K Smith
Surgeon - Robert Rigamonti
Worker - Yuki Matsuzaki

Synopses by Alison Graham ©

Thursday, 13 September 2007

“Heroes” Catch Up Weekend

Running from 9.00pm (to 1.30am) on Saturday 15 September 2007, on BBC TWO, is the first of two evenings of programmes devoted to “Heroes”, the sci-fi series about a group of people with amazing abilities. The marathon begins with “Heroes Unmasked”, the first in a series of short documentaries, interspersed between episodes of the series itself, looking behind the scenes on the show. The first six episodes follow…

9.15pm “Genesis” - In the wake of an eclipse, a genetics professor in India is led by his father’s disappearance to uncover a secret theory that there are people living with extraordinary powers. Across the globe individuals are beginning to come to terms with their unique gifts but, unbeknownst to them all, their ultimate destiny is nothing less than to save the world.

9.55pm “Don’t Look Back” - As people find their lives disrupted by their new, extraordinary abilities, authorities investigate several bizarre, gruesome murders. A policeman discovers he is the only person at a crime scene who can hear a girl crying in the distance.

10.40pm “One Giant Leap” - While the Heroes continue to test their extraordinary abilities, Claire tries to maintain a normal social life, and Hiro is convinced he is destined to travel to America to save the world. A frightened Niki follows instructions from a mysterious source that directs her to the middle of the desert, and Nathan uses Peter’s accident to propel his political campaign. Meanwhile the elusive Sylar is being hunted by Matt, the FBI and Suresh, whose father’s journal leads to potential clues.

11.20pm “Collision” - Suresh finally tracks down one of his father’s fabled genetically-advanced supermen. In Las Vegas, Hiro’s plan backfires when he cautiously turns time to his advantage at the gambling tables. Nathan pays a visit to a wealthy Vegas contributor to raise additional campaign funds. Following a tragic turn at a bonfire, Claire’s uncanny healing abilities are put to the ultimate test.

12.05am “Hiros” - Confused after losing track of another block of time, Niki finds the police on her doorstep, searching for her fugitive husband DL Hawkins. Hiro and his friend Ando get jumped by some Vegas high-rollers. Peter receives a life-changing message from an unlikely source. Matt secretly uses his mind-reading ability to anticipate his wife’s needs. Suresh makes plans to return to India.

12.50am “Better Halves” - Hiro and his buddy embark on their journey to New York, where a Vegas high-roller offers them a deal they can’t refuse. As HRG sets up a meeting for his daughter Claire with her biological parents, she hopes that questions about her newfound indestructibility can be answered. Isaac receives another confusing call from Hiro, but Peter is there to pick up the phone and relay a life-saving message.

The “Heroes” weekend continues from 10.45pm (to 1.00am) on Sunday 16 with the next three episodes…

10.45pm “Nothing to Hide” - Facing a crisis involving her son Micah, a distraught Niki reveals her recent personal struggles to a friend. Pushing aside his own issues at home, Matt assists Audrey’s investigation into another bizarre murder, but their pursuit of mysterious serial killer Sylar takes an unexpected turn. After failing to act like a superhero when faced with danger, Hiro questions his heroism.

11.30pm “Seven Minutes to Midnight” - Back in India to mourn his father, Suresh encounters mysterious dreams of the past that force him to question what path to take. Continuing on to New York, Hiro and Ando stop at a diner and meet someone interesting. In crisis, Niki comes to a personal understanding. Determined to see one of Isaac’s paintings that Simone recently sold, Peter asks Nathan for help in finding a key to the future.

12.15am “Homecoming” - As HRG tries to protect his daughter by any means, Claire’s high school homecoming celebration turns into a frightening night for many. Nathan and Simone work together to find Isaac’s painting for Peter, but this key to the future could lead to tragedy. Hiro travels back in time to right an upsetting wrong. As Niki puts a goal in sight, Micah spends time with his dad.

Principal Cast

Mohinder Suresh - Sendhil Ramamurthy
Hiro Nakamura - Masi Oka
Micah Sanders - Noah Gray-Cabey
Nathan Petrelli - Adrian Pasdar
Noah Bennet - Jack Coleman
Peter Petrelli - Milo Ventimiglia
Claire Bennet - Hayden Panettiere
Niki Sanders - Ali Larter
Isaac Mendez - Santiago Cabrera
Matt Parkman - Greg Grunberg
Ando Masahashi - James Kyson Lee
DL Hawkins - Leonard Roberts
Simone Deveraux - Tawny Cypress

Synopses ©

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Celebrating 25 Years of “Blade Runner”

It’s exactly 25 years since “Blade Runner” was released in the UK. Directed by Ridley Scott, it’s widely ranked among the greatest sci-fi movies of all time.

If you’ve seen it, you’ll be familiar with Harrison Ford as Deckard - a former “Blade Runner” charged with hunting down a group of illegal androids called “replicants”.

Ridley Scott directed “Blade Runner” following the success of “Alien” in 1979. The script picked up by the director was loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. Despite compliments from the author saying that the director had nailed his vision of the future, Scott claimed never to have read the book.

Harrison Ford was hired for the lead role following the success of “Star Wars”. He would later say that the gruelling “Blade Runner” shoot was one of the most frustrating experiences of his career.

It’s been a source of much debate between “Blade Runner” fans since the original release: Is Deckard a replicant? Scott has claimed that the character is an android. Ford has always maintained that the character is human.

Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford didn’t get on during the shoot of “Blade Runner”. Ford has been uninvolved with Scott’s soon-to-be-released “Definitive” cut of the film.

The story sees Deckard fall in love with an experimental replicant called Rachael (Sean Young) on the hunt for the illegal replicants led by Roy (Rutger Hauer).

Ridley Scott’s vision of the future is one of the most striking features of “Blade Runner”. The massive futuristic sets were inspired by a factory the director worked at earlier on in life. The arduous process of building the film’s sets led some of the crew to call the film “Blood Runner”.

The most famous still from “Blade Runner” has been mirrored repeatedly ever since. It shows Deckard hanging desperately to the ledge of a gigantic Metropolis building.

The above picture shows Rutger Hauer (Roy), Daryl Hannah (Pris) and Edward James Olmos (Gaff) promoting the forthcoming “Definitive Cut” of “Blade Runner” at The Venice Film Festival.

Ridley Scott has gained a reputation for tinkering with his films following new versions of “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Blade Runner”. Following the unpopular “Director’s Cut” and years of legal battles, Scott is finally unveiling his “Definitive Cut”.

Text & Picture ©

Friday, 7 September 2007

The Sarah Jane Adventures - Episode Guide

1: Revenge of the Slitheen (two-part story)
“One of the discussions we had at a very early stage was whether we wanted to start in a school. In the end we decided to go with a school for episodes one and two because it was a very familiar and natural environment for kids to recognise and empathise with.”

2: Eye of the Gorgon (two-part story)
“It features a slightly bizarre group of women who go around dressed as nuns but it’s much camper and more overblown - it’s less rooted in everyday life. It’s probably the most effects-heavy of all the episodes, because it’s quite out there.”

3: Warriors of the Kudlax (two-part story)
“That is more of a classic Sci-Fi story, in the sense that there’s laser gunfire and running around and being pursued by dark suited guards and things. It’s more in the mould of “Star Wars”.”

4: Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? (two-part story)
“It does touch upon Sarah’s childhood and one childhood friend in particular and a tragedy that has taken place in her past that comes up from the meddling of a particular evil alien character called The Trickster. He sort of exists to create chaos. We hope it has a flavour of “Back to the Future”, the idea that you can have alternative realities where you see how characters could have developed with different influences.”

5: The Lost Boy (two-part story)
“That is a fitting and surprising climax to the series where various twists happen.”

“We’re very happy with it. We set out to make a show that had at its heart a very simple proposition, which was just great adventure stories - they were ripping yarns. And that’s a phrase that’s been used by several people who’ve seen it. I think we achieved what we set out to do.”

“It seemed to me there was an opportunity to make something that, even if it’s a spin-off show from “Doctor Who”, felt quite fresh and original and exciting. To be honest I didn’t know the Sarah Jane character particularly; I’d obviously seen her in “School Reunion”, but her era is not a period of “Doctor Who” I was aware of - I came in a bit later. It was an opportunity to get to know the character.”

“I felt, as Russell did, that those stories that hark back to classic fantasy had kind of disappeared from children’s TV and we wanted to get that back.”

“We’ve removed the character of Kelsey (from “Invasion of the Bane”) and have brought in a new character called Clyde. We wanted to slightly change the gender balance. It felt like a rather feminine programme... so we decided to take Kelsey out and put Clyde in, and that’s paid real dividends over the course of the series because we’ve been able to explore masculine friendship and boys growing up.”

“The Slitheen had actually been leant out to an exhibition, and one of the things you learn as a producer on this show is that latex degrades very quickly. We had to get new Slitheen suits constructed at fairly significant costs, but the fantastic Millennium FX still had the original moulds. We used the same performers who had played them in “Doctor Who”, so the cost to us was somewhat less than it could have been!”

“There is one villainous character that does come back in episode seven. “Doctor Who” fans will recognise this character, but it is not a particularly big feature.”

“We’re talking about a second series now, although, as with anything in this day and age, it depends on how it performs with the audience - and rightly so. There are many other stories out there that we want to tell…”

Quotes by SJA producer Matthew Bouch © Starburst Magazine Issue 354

Thursday, 6 September 2007

The Hole Story

Throughout Hole’s career, vocalist/guitarist Courtney Love’s notorious public image has overshadowed her band’s music. In their original incarnation, Hole was one of the noisiest, most abrasive alternative bands performing in the early ’90s. By the time of their second album, 1994’s “Live Through This”, the band had smoothed out many of their rougher edges, also adding more melodies and hooks to their song writing. Through both versions of Hole, Love’s combative, assaultive persona permeated the group’s music and lyrics, giving the band a tense, unpredictable edge even at their quietest moments. Love formed Hole in Los Angeles in 1989, recruiting guitarist Eric Erlandson through a newspaper ad. Love had played with numerous bands before Hole, including early versions of both Babes in Toyland and Faith No More. Erlandson and Love eventually drafted bassist Jill Emery and drummer Caroline Rue into the band, recording their first album with producer Kim Gordon, the bassist for Sonic Youth. The violent and uncompromising “Pretty on the Inside”, Hole’s debut record, was released on Caroline Records in 1991 to numerous positive reviews, especially in the British weekly music press.

In early 1992, Courtney Love married Kurt Cobain, the lead singer/songwriter of Nirvana. For a couple of months, the couple was the king and queen of the new rock world; soon, that world came crashing in. Cobain became addicted to heroin and the couple fought to keep custody of their baby after a piece in Vanity Fair accused Love of shooting heroin while pregnant, charges which she vehemently denied at the time; she would later admit that she had taken small quantities of the drug. By 1993, their private world had settled down somewhat, with Cobain and Love recording new albums with their respective bands.

Halfway through 1993, Love reassembled Hole with Erlandson, adding bassist Kristen M. Pfaff and drummer Patty Schemel. Hole was set to release their first major-label album, the more pop-oriented “Live Through This”, on DGC Records in April of 1994. Advance word on the album was overwhelmingly positive, with many critics calling it one of the best records of the year. Four days before the album was released, Kurt Cobain’s body was discovered in the couple’s Seattle home; he had died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound three days before.

Two months after Cobain’s death, Kristen M. Pfaff was found dead of a heroin overdose in a Seattle apartment, with rumours swirling that Love (understandably distraught over the recent tragedies) was abusing the drug as well. Two months later, Hole began touring again, with bassist Melissa Auf der Maur taking Pfaff’s place. “Doll Parts” was released as a single late in 1994, climbing into the Top 60 by the beginning of 1995. “Live Through This” topped many critics’ polls at the end of the year, including Rolling Stone and the Village Voice. Shortly thereafter, Hole toured with the fifth Lollapalooza tour, staying on the road for the remainder of the year.

Despite all the hardships, the album became the group’s commercial breakthrough, spawning several MTV/radio hits and being certified platinum early the following year. The band went on an extended hiatus afterwards, during which time many assumed the band had broken up when it appeared that Love was focusing more on her burgeoning acting career (“Feeling Minnesota”, “The People vs. Larry Flynt”) than music. To satisfy their fans’ demand for new music, two rarities collections were issued -- the 1995 EP “Ask for It” and the 1997 import “My Body, the Hand Grenade”.

After numerous delays, the band finally regrouped to work on a follow-up to “Live Through This”, with long-time friend Billy Corgan signed on to be a musical consultant. The album was finally issued in September of 1998 to favourable reviews, but Schemel left the band (for reasons unknown) around the same time. Former drummer for New York City alt-rockers Shift, Samantha Maloney, filled the vacant slot as the group embarked on their first substantial tour in two years. By the tour’s completion, Auf der Maur had left to join the Smashing Pumpkins, while Maloney eventually served as a stand-in drummer for Mötley Crüe. Even though “Celebrity Skin” was certified platinum shortly after its release, Love was unhappy with the way the album was handled by her record company and felt stifled by her contract, eventually bringing a lawsuit against the Universal Music Group trying to terminate her contract (she still owes five more albums under her current agreement), so she can release music via the Internet.

The future of Hole became even more uncertain in early 2001, when Love announced plans to launch a new outfit, called Bastard. Signing with Epitaph, the band consisted of Love, former Veruca Salt guitarist Louise Post, former Rockit Girl bassist Gina Crosley, and to the delight of long-time Hole fans, Schemel is back on drums. In typical Love style, this line-up eventually dissolved into only her and Schemel and the group essentially broke up before it even began. Despite the lack of any substantial project, Love finally announced the end of Hole in May of 2002. Unlike her often bitter press situations, she claimed that the situation was friendly and she would still remain friends with the previous members of the band.

Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato ©