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)

Friday, 23 November 2012

Doctor Who - 49th Anniversary Favourite Fifty

01. Fury From The Deep - Patrick Troughton
02. The Invasion - Patrick Troughton
03. The Evil Of The Daleks - Patrick Troughton
04. The Web Of Fear - Patrick Troughton
05. The Tomb Of The Cybermen - Patrick Troughton
06. The Power Of The Daleks - Patrick Troughton
07. The Dalek Invasion Of Earth - William Hartnell
08. The Daleks - William Hartnell
09. The Caves Of Androzani - Peter Davison
10. Revelation Of The Daleks - Colin Baker

11. The Curse Of Fenric - Sylvester McCoy
12. The Greatest Show In The Galaxy - Sylvester McCoy
13. The Mind Of Evil - Jon Pertwee
14. Inferno - Jon Pertwee
15. Genesis Of The Daleks - Tom Baker
16. The Ice Warriors - Patrick Troughton
17. The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit - David Tennant
18. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances - Christopher Eccleston
19. Ghost Light - Sylvester McCoy
20. Remembrance Of The Daleks - Sylvester McCoy
21. The Ambassadors Of Death - Jon Pertwee
22. Doctor Who And The Silurians - Jon Pertwee
23. The Seeds Of Death - Patrick Troughton
24. The Moonbase - Patrick Troughton
25. Asylum Of The Daleks - Matt Smith
26. The Wheel In Space - Patrick Troughton
27. The Two Doctors - Colin Baker
28. Frontios - Peter Davison
29. Planet Of Giants - William Hartnell
30. Dalek - Christopher Eccleston

31. Blink - David Tennant
32. Delta And The Bannermen - Sylvester McCoy
33. The Daemons - Jon Pertwee
34. The Talons Of Weng-Chiang - Tom Baker
35. Vengeance On Varos - Colin Baker
36. Attack Of The Cybermen - Colin Baker
37. Resurrection Of The Daleks - Peter Davison
38. The Unquiet Dead - Christopher Eccleston
39. Planet Of The Dead - David Tennant
40. Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution Of The Daleks - David Tennant
41. The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People - Matt Smith
42. Planet Of The Ood - David Tennant
43. The Doctor's Daughter - David Tennant
44. Amy's Choice - Matt Smith
45. Midnight - David Tennant
46. Survival - Sylvester McCoy
47. The Sea Devils - Jon Pertwee
48. The Tenth Planet - William Hartnell
49. The Abominable Snowmen - Patrick Troughton
50. Earthshock - Peter Davison

Favourite Eras - based on the above list

01. Patrick Troughton - 402 points
02. Sylvester McCoy - 166 points
03. Jon Pertwee - 156 points
04. William Hartnell - 112 points
05. David Tennant - 100 points
06. Colin Baker - 96 points
07. Peter Davison - 80 points
08. Christopher Eccleston - 67 points
09. Tom Baker - 53 points
10. Matt Smith - 43 points

A special one-off drama about the creation of Doctor Who has been commissioned to mark the programme's 50th anniversary. An Adventure In Space And Time will tell the story of the genesis of the BBC science-fiction series in the early 1960s. "This is the tale of how an unlikely set of brilliant people created a true television original," said its writer Mark Gatiss. The 90-minute production will air on BBC Two next year.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

UK Singles Chart - 60th Anniversary Solid Gold Sixty

01. All The Young Dudes - Mott The Hoople
02. Jumpin' Jack Flash - Rolling Stones
03. Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) - Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
04. No More Heroes - Stranglers
05. Virginia Plain - Roxy Music
06. Life On Mars? - David Bowie
07. Metal Guru - T.Rex
08. The Man With The Child In His Eyes - Kate Bush
09. Shot By Both Sides - Magazine
10. I'm Mandy Fly Me - 10cc

11. Now I'm Here - Queen
12. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - Bryan Ferry
13. Elected - Alice Cooper
14. This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us - Sparks
15. Hong Kong Garden - Siouxsie & The Banshees
16. What Do I Get? - Buzzcocks
17. Dead Pop Stars - Altered Images
18. Senses Working Overtime - XTC
19. Delilah - Sensational Alex Harvey Band
20. Airport - Motors
21. Back Off Boogaloo - Ringo Starr
22. Anarchy In The UK - Sex Pistols
23. 10538 Overture - Electric Light Orchestra
24. Lola - Kinks
25. Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever - Beatles
26. Coz I Luv You - Slade
27. Riders On The Storm - Doors
28. Duel - Propaganda
29. Violet - Hole
30. All The Things She Said - t.A.T.u.

31. 22: The Death Of All The Romance - Dears
32. Rebellion (Lies) - Arcade Fire
33. Venus As A Boy - Björk
34. Only Happy When It Rains - Garbage
35. Whiskey In The Jar - Thin Lizzy
36. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band/Harlem Community Choir
37. Pipes Of Peace - Paul McCartney
38. Layla - Derek & The Dominos
39. In A Broken Dream - Python Lee Jackson
40. Rocket Man - Elton John
41. 99 Red Balloons - Nena
42. Stop The Cavalry - Jona Lewie
43. Ghosts - Japan
44. 5:15 - Who
45. See Emily Play - Pink Floyd
46. School Days - Runaways
47. Fireball - Deep Purple
48. Satellite Of Love - Lou Reed
49. See My Baby Jive - Wizzard
50. Blinded By The Light - Manfred Mann's Earthband
51. Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) - John Fred & His Playboy Band
52. Hocus Pocus - Focus
53. Flowers In The Rain - Move
54. Fire - Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
55. The Carnival Is Over - Seekers
56. Dreamer - Supertramp
57. Where The Wild Roses Grow - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds/Kylie Minogue
58. Let's Stay Together - Al Green
59. Naughty Miranda - Indians In Moscow
60. Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft - Carpenters

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

As Time Goes… Bye!

What do you think is the ratio between sports programming and music broadcasts on British television? You might think it an unfair question, given that the Olympics is almost upon us and, therefore, a disproportionate amount of time will be spent on the former than is usually the case. This is not so. This year’s season of the greatest music festival in the world, The Proms, has been running nearly a fortnight, of its eight-week duration, with even less airtime devoted to it than in previous years. I have often relied on the late-night repeats and, this time around, they are nowhere to be found! What little there is, and I applaud the Beethoven cycle of Symphonies under Barenboim, even though I haven’t managed to see a single concert, is, as usual, relegated to minority-interest channel BBC Four. Even the simultaneously aggressive-and-tender music of the composer I regard as being the original Sex Pistol, Ludwig van, is deemed not being accessible enough for a mainstream audience on BBC One. Is the corporate world of television seriously trying to hard-sell me the notion that the sight of sweaty athletes, attempting to better one another by nothing more than a few nanoseconds, in a tournament designed to be just one step removed from all-out war, is somehow preferable to some of the most powerful music ever written, and performed, no doubt, with great gusto by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra?

I don’t want to be sent packing to catch-up on the BBC’s iPlayer either. Why is television constantly trying to rid itself of its audience? Recently, I would like to have seen Christopher Eccleston and MyAnna Buring in the three-part BBC One serial Blackout, on Monday nights. Similarly, I would like to have watched Kenneth Branagh and Sarah Smart in the third series of Wallander, on Sunday evenings. But, one transmission of each episode and it’s done! Why no repeats? Why the lack of broadmindedness of scheduling that assumes we can all be in front of the box at 9pm on those particular days? Conversely, ITV3, and ITV4 to some extent, functions too far in the opposite direction. Everyone must’ve seen every episode of Frost, Foyle and Fogle by now! Many, many times!! Whodunit? We already bloody know, thank you very much for nothing… there ought to be a law against it! ITV have a massive back catalogue, surely, from which to choose? I would like to see the 1999, Survivors-style, six-part serial The Last Train repeated, especially as it isn’t available on DVD, but not repeatedly repeated! It would make a change, even though there aren’t any detectives in it!! It does boast a superlative music score by Poirot composer Christopher Gunning, if that’s any help.

Finally, I come to the scheduling of the next series of Doctor Who. Has anyone in its potential audience questioned why the Seventh Season is being spread across two years? Clearly, it is to save money, cash possibly spent on the Olympic Games. And just as the programme approaches its Fiftieth Anniversary when, maybe, one might expect the BBC to be spending a little more on it, rather than less! Heaven knows, sales of all things Doctor Who-related have helped keep the licence fee as low as possible, even when the show was on its extended extended break between 1989 and 2005!! It really is a crafty way for the BBC to be able to say there were new adventures in both 2012 and 2013 while only spending money on one set of episodes, and without the need to incur any extra expense with “specials”, as in 2009. Perhaps there will be a Series Eight starting in September 2013, a year after Series Seven, but it doesn’t seem likely. So just how, exactly, will BBC One celebrate, come November 2013? I’m curious to know. Drama repeats aren’t really their style, as I’ve previously explained. Episodes from the modern era are oft-repeated, but on BBC Three and always at the same time, never giving a different audience the opportunity to see them. Classic episodes hardly ever, not even to mourn the passing recently of companion Caroline John. Confidential-type documentaries might’ve been plausible if that series hadn’t been axed. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Unfortunately, I won’t be here to report on it as… That’s all, folks!!! My taxi is waiting and I’m off to paradise…

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Through the looking-glass

Two more storylines from the next series of Doctor Who have emerged from the show’s producer and chief writer Steven Moffat. He says, in episode two, The Doctor will take on pre-historic creatures in a story called Dinosaurs On A Spaceship! I had to suppress a snigger when I heard the title. It does sound a tad silly and more than a little preposterous until you remember Voyage Of The Damned and its spaceship, Titanic, almost crashing into Buckingham Palace! First thoughts are the episode is endeavouring to capitalise on the popularity of Primeval, but I remind myself that the current, probably final, series of the ITV1 dinosaur saga, while visually spectacular, is no more than a reworking of the Jon Pertwee Doctor Who story Invasion Of The Dinosaurs. The new dinosaur escapade is written by Chris Chibnall and features Being Human’s Mark Williams as Rory’s dad, Brian, and Rupert Graves from Sherlock.

Episode three is a western-themed adventure, written by Toby Whithouse and filmed on location in Spain, entitled A Town Called Mercy. It co-stars Adrian Scarborough and Ben Browder. Any mention of the Last Chance Saloon immediately conjures up images of William Hartnell’s legendary encounter at the O K Corral with Wyatt Earp and Johnny Ringo in mid-Sixties’ four-parter The Gunfighters, which not only gave The Doctor toothache but many fans as well! The new storylines are both directed by Saul Metzstein and follow the first episode of the new series in which The Doctor will be reunited with his oldest enemies in Asylum Of The Daleks. The first five episodes of Series Seven will air later this year, followed by the Christmas Special, with the remaining eight to follow in the New Year.

Meanwhile, Scots actress Karen Gillan has won the lead in a film about a haunted mirror, according to the Radio Times. Gillan, from Inverness, leaves her role as Doctor Who companion Amy Pond in episode five of Series Seven, and not in the Christmas Special as I previously suggested might be the case. In new US horror film, Oculus, she will play Kaylie whose brother is convicted of murdering their parents. Kaylie believes an antique looking-glass was responsible. It’s not the first time one of The Doctor’s companions has worked on a horror movie. Shortly before starting work on Doctor Who, Billie Piper played Jenny in Spirit Trap, alongside Russian pop star Alsou. It was released in August 2005 to generally poor reviews. After being returned to her own time and space in the classic series, Wendy Padbury appeared in Piers Haggard’s excellent cult 1971 British horror film Blood On Satan’s Claw as the unfortunate Cathy Vespers. And we shouldn’t forget Lalla Ward who began her acting career as Helga in the hypnotically stylish 1972 Hammer Horror film Vampire Circus.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Keeping it in the family

Mother and daughter Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling are to star side-by-side in a Doctor Who adventure to be broadcast next year. Dame Diana is probably still best known for her role as high-kicking Mrs Emma Peel in two seasons of The Avengers during the Sixties. She has, of course, done much since including starring opposite James Wilby in the memorable BBC psychological drama Mother Love. She also played Lady Dedlock, to excellent effect, in the 1985 version of Bleak House, as well as appearing alongside Charles Dance and Emilia Fox in ITV’s adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Rachael, on the other hand, achieved notoriety appearing alongside Keeley Hawes in lesbian drama Tipping The Velvet and has more recently been seen in the BBC Four retelling of DH Lawrence’s Women In Love (pictured) and its prequel The Rainbow. It is the first time the pair have worked together on screen. The actresses will play “a mother and daughter with a dark secret” up against Matt Smith’s Doctor and new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman. Filming of the story began this week at Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff.

Meanwhile, over on the other side, Matt’s immediate Time Lord predecessor David Tennant will play a detective in new drama Broadchurch, about the death of a young boy in a seaside town, ITV1 has announced. The eight-part series has been penned by Doctor Who and Torchwood writer Chris Chibnall. He wrote the real-time episode 42 in which David’s Doctor had to prevent a spaceship from crashing into the Sun and, more recently, the two-part Silurian adventure for Matt’s Doctor. Tennant leads an ensemble cast featuring Rev actress Olivia Colman and Will Mellor, best known for the interminable Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps and, latterly, White Van Man although, to his credit, he did once appear in an early episode of Merlin! Arthur Darvill, who plays current Doctor Who Matt Smith’s sidekick Rory, will appear as the town priest. See what I mean about keeping it in the family? Nepotism just ain’t what it used to be! Still, something to look forward to on the independent channel, bearing in mind that the much-delayed transmission of the fifth season of Primeval, screening at a ridiculously early time, is currently ITV1’s best show!!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Taking care of Carey

Five years ago, many red-blooded Doctor Who fans were clamouring for actress Carey Mulligan to become the Doctor’s next companion after she almost single-handedly carried the episode Blink. It was not to be. Freema Agyeman was replaced by Catherine Tate and Carey’s character, Sally Sparrow, became but a birdcall in the garden of fond memories! Miss Mulligan has, of course, gone on to bigger things, though not necessarily greater. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see her back in Doctor Who, even though its current show-runner, Steven Moffat, created her character in a short story for an annual before embellishing it into a full-blown television episode.

I first noticed Carey in 2005, two years before her appearance in Series Three of Doctor Who, when she took on the role of Ada Clare, one of the wards in the court case of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce, in Andrew Davies’ excellent BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. I thought her extraordinarily pretty but predicted Anna Maxwell Martin, who played another of the wards, Esther Summerson, would go on to be the more successful of the two female leads. I was wrong, possibly. Their stories aren’t over yet and it depends how you define success. Anna’s worked solidly in this country while Carey has tried her hand at working in Hollywood. America suits some better than others. It may mean bigger bucks but the jobs aren’t necessarily as satisfying.

Carey Mulligan’s portrayal of the gifted-but-emotionally-impressionable Jenny, in the BBC-funded An Education, was the breakthrough role which brought her to the attention of American producers such as Oliver Stone. It wasn’t long before she found herself starring opposite Michael Douglas, playing his daughter of all things, in the Wall Street sequel Money Never Sleeps. I know the tagline of the original was “greed is good” but surely Catherine Zeta Jones must be handful enough?! The image above shows Carey on the set of neo-noir road movie Drive, wearing shades - I suspect - not to look cool but to hide tired eyes from the glare of paparazzi! Should you want to see her naked, and I know you all hanker after nothing else, look no further than Steve McQueen’s tale of sex-addiction, Shame, in which she plays Michael Fassbender’s saucy sister Sissy. To be fair, there’s much more to this psychological drama than Mulligan’s mammaries, as gratifying as it may be to finally catch a glimpse!

If you can’t get enough of her loving (and who can?), Carey Hannah can also be seen, brassiere intact, opposite the likes of Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth in And When Did You Last See Your Father?; as Kitty Bennet in the film version of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, alongside Keira Knightley, Brenda Blethyn and Donald Sutherland; and in an ITV1 adaptation of Northanger Abbey as Isabella Thorpe. To bring her story smack-bang up to date, she has just finished working with Titanic heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio and Romeo + Juliet director Baz Luhrmann on a remake of The Great Gatsby, due out on Christmas Day, playing the role Mia Farrow brought to life in the 1974 film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, the superficial Daisy Buchanan. Give me your answer, do!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Whatever happened to the teenage dream?

When I was growing up, assuming that I did manage to climb to the top of that particular mountain, it was presumed that what children wanted on television in the way of drama was escapist fodder. Thus my memories are full of daring-do on the high seas, in shows such as Freewheelers, or moderately scary outer-space malarkey on Saturday teatimes during the late Sixties, in the company of Patrick Troughton and chums! Doctor Who was aimed at intelligent 12-year-olds, although I was a little younger when Pat was the Doc, but designed for all the family to enjoy. The lovelies that accompanied our hero were always suitably attired… yes, they wore miniskirts and, thus, showed a bit of leg but it never really went beyond that. If you wanted to see Wendy Padbury having sex, you wouldn’t see her engaged in the deed on either of the aforementioned series. You’d have to stay up late and catch her in Blood On Satan’s Claw for that kind of thing! Even when you got a bit older, sex was never really a staple for teenage consumption. The closest television was ever going to get to linking the two would be Marc Bolan and T.Rex encouraging us to Get It On, on Top Of The Pops in 1971. The girls dancing amongst the studio audience weren’t dressed to ever suggest that that prospect was an actual possibility.

So, here we are, 40 years on, and your offspring are more likely to want to watch Hollyoaks or Skins than an episode of Doctor Who or The Sarah Jane Adventures. It’s not hip to enjoy a rollicking good yarn with the faint hint of a moral message in these enlightened times. We’ve got to concern ourselves with the issues of the day and wallow in all things problematical. Is Johnny finally coming out of the closet or has he just been in the bathroom an awfully long time?! Is Jenny on the pill and having underage sex? Probably, considering how much mascara she has on, not to mention the boob spillage from her low-cut tops! It isn’t just 16-year-old girls that want to watch Skins. If they have a younger sister, the sibling won’t want to be left out. They’ll want to see it too, even though I presume it’s the older lasses who are the target audience. The lads will be tuning in to see how much flesh is on display, rather than to learn about safe sex. Childhood no longer exists anymore. It’s been gradually eroded away by commercial interests, despite self-appointed moral guardians doing their level best to stop anyone, of any age, from being remotely titillated by anything they see on the box. Alf Garnet once complained he couldn’t find the pornography Mary Whitehouse was fussing over… and he’d looked on every channel!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Tracks Of My Tears

London’s Leicester Square was transformed into a running track, earlier in the week, for the premiere of new athletics film Fast Girls. The British drama, released only weeks before the London Olympics (oh, how I’m looking forward to that!), follows a female sprint relay team as they attempt to qualify for a world championship. Its main actresses, who faced a gruelling training regime before making the film, swapped their sweaty Lycra running costumes for designer gowns as they arrived on a red carpet complete with track markings at the Odeon West End. Leading lovelies Lenora Crichlow, best known for her role as Annie in Being Human, and Lily James were joined by co-stars Whitechapel actor Phil Davis and Rose’s on/off boyfriend in Doctor Who Noel Clarke - who co-wrote the film - and real-life sporting personalities including Dame Kelly Holmes.

James said the rigorous exercise and diet routine, to prepare for the part, drove her to tears at times. “It was such a change physically and mentally at first,” she explained. “It was really, really hard. When filming wrapped, it was Christmas, so I ate and I ate and I ate. My stomach was bursting at the seams.” It sounds as though Lily should be in the next Alien sequel! The actress went on to say she had more respect for real athletes since making the film, and joked that she was keen to show off her new skills at the Olympics. “I might compete! I’ve been thinking about it,” she quipped. “But, I’ll let them have their day!”

Crichlow, who plays James’ rival on the track, said she could not stop reading the script when she first received it. “I think it’s a really fresh, unique way of telling an age-old underdog story,” she said. For my money, the extraordinarily beautiful Lenora is the black answer to Billie Piper. “It’s got fantastic female British leads,” she added. “They’re the heroes of the piece. It’s a really positive way of depicting women.”

Fast Girls is released nationwide on Friday, June 15th.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Bradbury Chronicles

American science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury has died in Los Angeles at the age of 91. One of his four daughters, Alexandra, confirmed that her father passed away on Tuesday night in Southern California, although she did not give any further details.

Bradbury wrote hundreds of novels, short stories, plays and television and film scripts in a career dating back to the 1940s. His most famous novels include Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Ray was born in 1920 in Illinois and, as a teenager, moved with his family to Los Angeles. For three years, after leaving school, he earned a living selling newspapers, writing in his spare time. From the early 1940s, his short stories started to appear in magazines such as Weird Tales, Astounding Science Fiction and Captain Future. In 1947, he married Marguerite ‘Maggie’ McClure and published his first book, a collection of short stories, Dark Carnival.

Three years later, Bradbury began to establish his reputation with The Martian Chronicles. They were a collection of stories about materialistic Earthmen colonising and ruinously exploiting Mars, a commentary on the Cold War. It was turned into a memorably bizarre TV mini-series starring Rock Hudson.

Ray’s most celebrated novel, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953, depicts a future society where books are banned and firemen start fires rather than put them out, a critique on the evils of censorship and thought control in a totalitarian state. The story, which gets its title from the temperature at which paper spontaneously ignites, proved to be uncannily prophetic. The characters are addicted to TV soap operas, while miniature headphones provide a stream of music and news. A film version starring Julie Christie, photographed by Nicolas Roeg with a music score by Hitchcock-composer Bernard Herrmann, directed by Francois Truffaut, was released in 1966.

For years, Bradbury tried to prevent the publication of Fahrenheit 451 as an e-book. He told the New York Times that electronic books “smell like burned fuel” and called the internet “a big distraction”. “It’s meaningless; it’s not real. It’s in the air somewhere,” he said. But he relented in 2011, when his publishing deal was renewed. His agent said, “We explained the situation to him, that a new contract wouldn’t be possible without e-book rights. He understood and gave us the right to go ahead.”

Bradbury also authored several works for film and television. He wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s 1956 film version of Moby Dick and scripts for many TV series, including Suspense, The Alfred Hitchcock Show and The Twilight Zone. Director Ridley Scott paid homage to the writer in Blade Runner, naming the hotel residence of character JF Sebastian The Bradbury!

Ray was passionate about literature. Although his writing had slowed in recent years due to a stroke, which meant he had to use a wheelchair, Bradbury remained active. He penned new novels, plays, screenplays and a volume of poetry, writing every day in the basement office of his home in Los Angeles. “The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me,” he said in 2000. “The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was 12.”

Ray’s grandson, Danny Karapetian, tweeted, “The world has lost one of the best writers it’s ever known, and one of the dearest men to my heart. RIP Ray Bradbury (Ol’ Gramps).”

Monday, 21 May 2012

Opening salvo

Doctor Who will return in September, this year, with an opening episode entitled Asylum Of The Daleks! Sounds intriguing. In the season which celebrates the programme’s Fiftieth Anniversary, in 2013, what better way to start than with a story that promises to feature every single Dalek design ever seen in the series, since its inception in 1963, on screen simultaneously. This is how a series of Doctor Who should begin. Go in with all guns blazing! Some fans sometimes suggest the Daleks are overused, especially since the show’s return in 2005. But the statistics don’t really support their argument, even if it seems as though the pepper pots from Skaro are always popping up. It’s true that, in the general public’s eye, the mutant creatures are synonymous with the series. When Catherine Tate joined Doctor Who as companion Donna Noble, the actress assumed the Doctor battled the Daleks every episode… clearly a big fan! The two Peter Cushing Doctor Who films, of the 1960s, did much to reinforce this notion, so it is understandable. Never underestimate the importance of the Daleks in regards the popularity of Doctor Who. You’re less likely to do so, I think, if you grew up during their initial heyday, rather than in the programme’s second decade where the makers of the series perhaps became less interested in harnessing their full potential.

Pictured with current Doctor Who regulars, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, is an appropriately dust-and-cobweb-covered version of a Dalek not seen in a Doctor Who adventure since 1967! I see this particular metal menace every night, before going to bed, and each morning, before my Malt Bites, because a scale model resides on my dressing table. Personal problems aside, this Dalek-type last saw the light of day in the original Series Four finale The Evil Of The Daleks. This seven-parter was supposed to herald “the final end” of the Daleks whilst creator Terry Nation tried, unsuccessfully, to flog them to the Americans. Apart from the first-ever repeat of an entire serial, a year after its initial broadcast, and not counting the odd cameo, the Daleks wouldn’t be seen again in the series until the beginning of Season Nine. With the exception of episode two, which saw the introduction of my all-time favourite companion Victoria Waterfield played by Deborah Watling, The Evil Of The Daleks is one of many stories missing from the BBC archives - Exterminated by the carelessness and crassness of bureaucracy! The Daleks themselves would be proud of such vile annihilation. It’s also the adventure many fans would most like to see recovered. Fury From The Deep is top of my list but Evil is second.

Much of the filming for the new Seventh Series of Doctor Who has been taking place abroad. The Producers must be onto some good package deals, considering the show has always been so budget conscious! But, they’ve visited Spain and are currently in the United States. Specifically, Matt, Karen, and Arthur Darvill are presently recording in Central Park, Manhattan - the very location of the David Tennant two-part Dalek adventure from five years ago. Except, David, and Freema Agyeman, never got to visit New York for the story, using Cardiff as a double instead! It reminds me a little of when Janet Fielding (Tegan) left the series, back in 1984, only for the next story to be partly shot in Lanzarote! Incoming Nicola Bryant (Peri) had all the benefits!! It seems unlikely the Daleks will also be revisiting Manhattan Island, as the logistics would surely make this impractical, but you never know what’s around the corner in the worlds of Doctor Who. They’ve shipped a red double-decker bus out to Dubai, in the past, so what’s a multiplicity of Daleks?!! In a television universe that’s seen fit to abandon Survivors, Outcasts, Spooks, Hustle, Medium and even Doctor Who Confidential, not to mention banishing the 53-year-old Blue Peter to CBBC, in favour of interminable coverage of both the Olympic Games and Queen’s Jubilee, I, for one, am looking forward to the next series of Doctor Who!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Actor Factor

As pop temptress Rihanna embarks on her maiden voyage of discovery, in the acting world, aboard Peter Berg’s Battleship, it’s as good as time as any to take a brief look at how other chart-toppers have fared upon leaving the relative comfort of the recording studio to try their hand at this alternative profession! Rihanna isn’t the first honey to don combats. Kylie’s already been there, done that… and surprisingly good in them she looked too. Street Fighter was terrible, also based on a video/computer game, but she was sufficiently distracting to take our attention from villain Raul Julia’s over-the-top performance. Sometimes the line is blurred as to whether or not a singer is a singer, from the outset of their career, or an actor/actress first. Kylie Minogue started out in Neighbours, of course, and she recently returned to acting for a one-off appearance in Doctor Who, appropriately on board the luxury Starship Titanic, but she’s best known as a pop starlet whose snug bottom fits golden hot pants to perfection! Rihanna’s debut, as Raikes, looks like being an even more explosive affair, as she kicks butt all the way to kingdom come, although the director insists that, unlike other movies of this type, Battleship doesn’t lose sight of its characters.

Billie Piper trained as an actress but started in show business, at the tender age of 16, as a pop star and it wasn’t until she joined the cast of Doctor Who that anyone seemed to realise. Unlike Kylie, we won’t be hearing any new recordings from Billie for a while… she now seems embarrassed by her former career and has put it well and truly behind her! The same seems to be the case for Hannah Spearritt. After initial success with S Club 7, she’s perhaps better known, at present, for her starring role in Primeval. But will she find any more acting work in the future, once the ITV sci-fi series has expired for good? Irish songstress Samantha Mumba also had a brief flirtation with the genre, when she appeared in the most recent adaptation of HG Wells’ The Time Machine, but it doesn’t seem to have led to greater roles or a return to pop. Britney Spears dabbled, in buddy movie Crossroads (no, not the Birmingham-based soap opera of the same name!), but seems happier when strutting her funky star-spangled stuff (spank her booty, one more time)!! The less said about Madonna the better, except when blow-drying her armpits, while playing herself opposite Rosanna Arquette, in Desperately Seeking Susan.

Perhaps the most successful collaborations between pop singers and moviemakers has occurred when the groove merchants have teamed up with director Nicolas Roeg. First there was Mick Jagger, working with James Fox, in gangster flick Performance. Art Garfunkel had a tempestuous relationship with Roeg’s wife, Theresa Russell, in Bad Timing. Best of all, however, was when David Bowie played alien Thomas Jerome Newton in Nic’s adaptation of Walter Tevis’s novel The Man Who Fell To Earth. I suppose you could argue Bowie was playing himself, after a succession of pop alter egos that include Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and The Thin White Duke, but the result is still one of the most thought-provoking science fiction films about alienation ever made. Bowie’s had a reasonably successful stint as an actor, also starring in Tony Scott’s dreamlike vampire-fest The Hunger; as a goblin in Terry Jones’s Labyrinth, a sort of cross between Monty Python and Sesame Street; and alongside Tom Conti and Ryuichi Sakamoto in harrowing prisoner of war saga Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. He even made a cameo in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks prequel Fire Walk With Me. So, I guess you could say the Starman is multitalented!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Prettiest Star

The viewing public often think the term Best Actor or Actress applies to how good looking they find a particular personality, whether on television or in movie theatres! This is, of course, not the case. The term refers to those lucky few ladies and gents who have honed their craft to the pinnacle of perfection, as perceived by their peers. This piece isn’t necessarily about them but, as an heterosexual male, concerns women I think have been blessed with extraordinarily good looks, those with a pleasant face who are nice to look at. If these ladies are really fortunate, they may possess a talent as well! My selection is purely subjective. Some men, no doubt, find Clare Balding better looking than Marilyn Monroe. But a pleasing persona is equally important. If one is irritated by particular phrases or quirky mannerisms, an otherwise perfectly charming member of the opposite sex is going to come across as unattractive, dare I say ugly! But, I’m not going to dwell on those unfortunates; rather move swiftly on to the gals with bucket loads of charisma and oodles and oodles of sex appeal…

As a child, I found myself attracted to some of the actresses playing the companion in Doctor Who, namely Anneke Wills, Deborah Watling and Wendy Padbury. I had a crush on pop singer Sandie Shaw and was disappointed when Gabrielle Drake failed to make an appearance in the latest episode of UFO. As I moved into my teenage years, I was torn between Jenny Agutter and Judy Geeson. Jenny is gorgeous as an abandoned schoolgirl in the Australian outback in Walkabout, and as “Stay off the line, Bobbie” in The Railway Children, but is at her most perfect in dystopian science fiction thriller Logan’s Run. She and Judy both featured in Churchill-kidnap saga The Eagle Has Landed while Judy and Debbie went on to appear on television in Danger UXB. Judy’s sister Sally was an added attraction to ITV sitcom Bless This House. Some of Hammer’s finest, also the James Bond franchise, partly owe their success to the added glamour of starlets such as Linda Hayden and Caroline Munroe. As the Seventies drew to a close, Sandie was usurped by “the pull of the bush”, Kate Bush!

By 1984, the black and white dollies of the Patrick Troughton era of Doctor Who found themselves giving way to the ample charms of Nicola Bryant. Judy and Sally Geeson made way for another pair of acting sisters, Caroline and Susannah Harker. Susannah made her name in productions such as House Of Cards and Pride And Prejudice while Caroline achieved much the same in Middlemarch, Moll Flanders, Fay Weldon’s Growing Rich, and with David Jason in A Touch Of Frost. Never much of a fan of this plodding detective drama, I didn’t minded watching an episode if WPC Hazel Wallace was in on any action! More recently, I’ve been drawn to Medium, remembering Patricia Arquette from Eighties’ horror-fest Dream Warriors, the third instalment of A Nightmare On Elm St., only to fall for her onscreen daughter Ariel, portrayed by upcoming actress Sofia Vassilieva. Sofia is, quite possibly, the most stunning looking girl I’ve ever seen and yet she seems to carry herself with such poise and grace. Jenny Agutter and Caroline Harker have been joined in my affections by sweet Sofia!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Baptism Of Fire

The Doctor Who production team have confirmed that Jenna-Louise Coleman will first be seen as the Doctor’s new companion in the series on Christmas Day. The actress was briefly questioned about her new role when she appeared on This Morning recently, alongside Perdita Weeks, to promote ITV1’s Titanic. Her lips were sealed, however, as she wasn’t giving anything away! It’s still not known what will be the name of her character or if Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond will leave during the same episode or exit during the previous story. I still predict Amy will depart on Christmas Day. There are many examples to back either possibility, of course, littered throughout the programme’s history. Katy Manning’s Jo Grant left at the end of The Green Death to be replaced by Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith in the following story, The Time Warrior, whereas Bonnie Langford’s Mel left in Dragonfire, the same story in which Sophie Aldred’s Ace arrived. We’ll just have to wait and see.

On the scripting front, if you enjoyed the Doctor Who episodes School Reunion, The Vampires Of Venice and The God Complex, in the revival of the series, then you’ll be pleased to learn that, despite his writing commitments on horror comedy Being Human, Toby Whithouse will be returning to everyone’s favourite science fiction series for its Seventh Season. It’s believed he will be penning one of the early episodes so will be writing one of Amy’s final tales. It has also been decided there will be no two-parters this time around which, I think, is a shame. It’s the only real opportunity for a story to develop and allow an audience to get to know some of the peripheral characters, as well as build up to an increasingly rare but all-important cliff-hanger… even if they are not always resolved that convincingly, it’s still fun to include them. So, it only remains to wish you all a very Happy Easter and send Jenna-Louise Coleman best wishes as she is thrown in at the deep end!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Something wicked this way comes…

I’ve never been much of a fan of Being Human… until now! I’ve always watched it because I believe in supporting what little telefantasy comes our way. I can only put my change of heart down to the change of cast. Over eight episodes, the Fourth Series - completed on Sunday on the otherwise ghastly BBC Three - dispensed with the entire original cast of vampire Mitchell (Aidan Turner), werewolves Nina (Sinead Keenan) and George (Russell Tovey), and finally ghost Annie (Lenora Crichlow) in favour of new werewolf Tom (Michael Socha), new vampire Hal (Damien Molony), and introducing new ghost Alex (Kate Bracken). I’m hoping that Series Five will see a return of the other new werewolf-in-the-pack Allison (Ellie Kendrick), introduced in my favourite episode of the season, Puppy Love, as a replacement for Nina and partner for Tom. The transitional nature of this series was reminiscent of the Twenty-First Series of Doctor Who, which underwent a similarly radical change of cast… back in 1984! Michael Socha made semi-regular appearances in last year’s run of Being Human and returned - full-time - as lovable as ever, more so. I anticipated Lenora Crichlow’s departure and Kate Bracken looks like being a worthy successor but what really astounded was the performance of Damien Molony, in the light that Hal Yorke is his first television role. The original cast were fine but, for me, the new cast is a marked improvement.

The main plot of this year’s series of Being Human centred around baby Eve, daughter of George and Nina and would-be-saviour of mankind, whom Annie takes it upon herself to mother. Future Eve (Gina Bramhill) has herself killed (as you do) and returns through time, via purgatory (as you do when you’re deceased!), in order to terminate herself as infant because her survival will mean the survival of the vampire species and the end of human civilisation as we know it! Eve is both saviour and nemesis which she flippantly dismisses with the line, “Talk about multitasking!”. This is, of course, the same time paradox set up as in the Jon Pertwee Doctor Who story The Day Of The Daleks and reused in The Terminator franchise but, if you’re going to borrow, you might as well borrow from the best! The real dilemma though is how can anyone bring it upon themselves to kill a defenceless infant despite the knowledge that, otherwise, they will initiate the downfall of mankind. This is also the essential premise of the Tom Baker Doctor Who story Genesis Of The Daleks. In Being Human, there is no cop-out! Writer, and series creator, Toby Whithouse is clearly a man with balls of steel!! The baby dies. It’s not dwelt on excessively but, nevertheless, the infant passes over to the other side, along with Annie, to rejoin its natural parents and reunite the original house-sharing quartet.

Although much humour is to be had over the last two months of Being Human, most - admittedly - of a very dark nature, it could be argued that the series does take an awfully long time for the arc to reach the point at which it can begin to resolve itself. It isn’t until the end of the penultimate episode that the vampire-threat-en-masse The Old Ones arrive, led by the ever-reliable Mark Gatiss (perhaps typecast after the Doctor Who story The Lazarus Experiment?), as Mr Snow, at which point he utters just four words, “Well then… who’s hungry?”. Compare this with the three-part Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who story Survival, from 1989, in which the Doctor comes face-to-face with his nemesis The Master after just twenty-five minutes! The arch-enemy turns to the Doctor and wryly exclaims, “Why Doctor… what an unexpected pleasure!”. It takes seven of its eight hours for Series Four of Being Human to arrive at the same point! The Doctor Who story runs to just an hour-and-a-quarter, in total, so speed is of the essence! Usually, I prefer my science fiction/fantasy straight but, in the case of Being Human, I like the humour and adore the domesticity. I can believe in it. For that reason, my preference is for the first three-quarters of this series over the last two instalments in which events reverted to the darker nature of Series Two and Three after, earlier, rediscovering the humour of the First!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

New TARDIS totty revealed

Former Emmerdale actress Jenna-Louise Coleman has landed the role of the Time Lord’s new companion in Doctor Who, the BBC has confirmed.

Producer Steven Moffat announced the actress will replace Karen Gillan’s character Amy Pond when she leaves the show in the next series.

Coleman, 25, has also appeared in Waterloo Road (above) and is about to be seen in Julian Fellowes’ four part mini-series Titanic.

Jenna-Louise said, “I am beyond excited. I can’t wait to get cracking.”

I think it would be healthier for Doctor Who if Ms Coleman was on board from the start. Fresh blood is always good for the series and the sooner the better…

The Amy/River storyline has run its course. It made the last series drag and spoilt some otherwise interesting episodes. I’m tired of hearing the Doctor being called “Sweetie” and sick of the repetition of the oh-so-internet savvy “spoilers”. However, these tedious expressions are to be given yet another airing. More imagination is required.

I suspect Amy will go on Christmas Day, midway through the Seventh series, in yet another emotional tearjerker! The relief of not having to listen to actress Karen Gillan preface almost every other sentence with “I have to say” anymore, on Doctor Who Confidential, will be a most welcome present!!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Getting shirty

Towards the end of the recent F1 season, motor-racing pundit Eddie Jordan purchased a pink/maroon-coloured Indian shirt, which he duly wore at said country’s Grand Prix. Later, he decided to auction the garment as part of Children In Need, having persuaded various dignitaries, including a visiting Sir Paul McCartney, to sign it, albeit rather scruffily. I don’t know how much the item of clothing fetched, or even if it was sold at all, as I didn’t watch the evening’s ‘entertainment’, despite the dubious draw of a Doctor Who sketch! The prospect of sitting through continuity tarts Tess Daly, Fearne Cotton and Alesha Dixon, for such an exhausting amount of time, held absolutely no appeal. I have occasionally wondered what became of Eddie’s shirt. Who would want such an item? What would they do with it once safely installed in their wardrobe? Would it have been laundered before leaving the confines of the BBC? It got me to thinking maybe other celebs should go down the same route, if they haven’t already, and would I be interested in purchasing any of their apparel?

As readers of this Journal are no doubt aware, I’m a fairly enthusiastic fan of Doctor Who! However, I’ve no interest in wearing David Tennant’s trench coat, even if it might make me look a little like Blade Runner’s Rick Deckard! I’m not particularly partial to bow ties either, even if they do possess a certain sartorial elegance! And maybe Chris Eccleston’s leather attire is better suited to The Stranglers’ Jean Jacques Burnel. Some of Billie Piper’s outfits, though, are a different matter. I wasn’t overly impressed with how she was dressed, on most occasions, but a few times they got it just right. I would’ve liked to have seen the white t-shirt she wore in Dalek, or the Union Jack one she wore in the Blitz two-parter, up for grabs. Even the orange affair Rose donned in the Olympic torch episode would be a welcome addition to any admirer’s collection! I wonder what became of the costumes after she left the series, when, presumably, the programme had no further use for them? I don’t recall seeing them at any of the programme’s exhibitions…

The thing is how far do you go when selling off a high-profile star’s clothing? There must be some out there who wouldn’t mind getting their hands on the thong Billie is wearing at the close of The Satan Pit, the backside of which is clearly visible over the top of her jeans on her return to the TARDIS. Others might prefer the thong which makes itself noticeable in the Doctor Who Confidential episode that accompanies Rose’s final regular appearance on the show. The problem is that these items probably belong to her rather than the BBC and she might not want to part with them. It’s all purely hypothetical as it’s quite likely these flimsy little pieces of cloth are probably long gone, worn out after frequent use… replaced by whatever is the latest fashion in these things. Doctor Who fans are mad. Graham Norton said so, so it must be true. I wouldn’t want to contradict his expectations so, if the described items no longer exist, I’d be quite happy acquiring the white bra our Billie is wearing in the above picture, even though she undoubtedly looks far better in it than I ever could!