Friday, 10 October 1997

What's going on with the radio plays?

Compiled by:
Shannon Patrick Sullivan
It had long been reported that, following in the wake of the two Pertwee audio adventures, a third would go before the mike starring Tom Baker, in a story written by Eric Saward exploring the origins of the Cybermen. Then, reports surfaced that BBC Radio 2 had refused the project. This was later clarified: virtually all new proposals for BBC Radio programming have, in fact, been put on hold until October due to the recent restructing of the BBC. Indeed, a more recent Radio Times article indicated that the radio plays were still a going concern. Tom Baker, on the other hand, has stated that he would only be interested in doing an audio adventure if he were allowed to play the Doctor in a totally new manner, as he does not want to simply retread old ground.

Now a new wrinkle has entered the story, as David Rodan (co-writer of Dimensions In Time) stated at a Doctor Who weekend in late July that he had authored a Seventh Doctor/Ace/Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart radio play which had been scuppered by BBC Radio 2, after the actors involved had signed their contracts. The six-episode play was entitled Nuclear Kiss, and was a "Tom Clancy-style thriller" which would have seen the death of Lethbridge-Stewart at Nicholas Courtney's request.

Meanwhile, New Zealanders have the opportunity to hear 1985's Sixth Doctor/Peri radio play Slipback, which began airing on Saturday, September 20th.

What video releases are forthcoming?

In the UK, The Happiness Patrol was released in August. A boxed set of the E-Space Trilogy (Full Circle, State Of Decay, and Warriors' Gate) is on tap for October. 1998 will see Timelash (January), Battlefield (March, extended with previously unseen material), The Mind Of Evil (May, in black and white, but including five minutes recolorised from the extant color American clip, added at the end of the tape), The Horror Of Fang Rock (July) and Planet Of Fire (September). In November 1998, The Ice Warriors will be released as a two-tape pack. The missing episodes two and three will be replaced by short bridges making use of soundbites, narration, photos, telesnaps and graphics. The tape will be dovetailed by a 45-minute-long documentary on the junking of Sixties and Seventies episodes and the search now underway across the globe. This will also feature virtually every existing clip from incomplete episodes which could possibly be incorporated. It was previously thought that Colony In Space would also be released in 1998, but according to Restoration Team member Steve Roberts, it is not presently scheduled for release.

As part of a BBC-oriented Christmas campaign, CBS/FOX will be releasing the E-Space trilogy boxed set in North America in October. Further video releases will not take place until 1998 (possibly February), at least partly due to the fact that CBS/FOX has nearly caught up with BBC Video and wishes to have a little more choice in what they can offer next. On the Australian front, The King's Demon's/The Five Doctors Special Edition boxed set was released in July with a free deck of Doctor Who playing cards (not a trading card as was previously reported). Oddly, in New Zealand, the two were released on individual tapes (rather than as a boxed or double set), although, contrary to previous reports, the two were not the same price. The Leisure Hive is now available in Australia and will be out in New Zealand in November (though it is already available in some locations). The restored The War Machines is due in January in Australia.

Has a soundtrack for the TV movie been released?

Compiled by:
Shannon Patrick Sullivan
After more than a year's worth of request by fans, the composers of the incidental music for the FOX telefilm -- John Debney, John Sponsler and Louis Febre -- have released a very limited number of copies of a soundtrack for the TV movie. The score is apparently available only in select music and comic book stores, and will probably not be offered for long.

Has the telefilm won any awards?

Compiled by:
Shannon Patrick Sullivan
Yes! Philip Segal recently reported that the TV movie won a Saturn award for Best Genre Dramatic Presentation from the Los Angeles-based Academy of Science Fiction. Segal received the award on July 22nd.

Is it true that there were recently two major polls about Doctor Who?

Compiled by:
Shannon Patrick Sullivan
Yes. The American TV Guide asked readers what they thought was the best science-fiction programme of all time. Doctor Who finished second with about 7500 votes, 150 behind the winner, Babylon 5. Unfortunately, this was an extremely unscientific poll, with fans able to vote multiple times, and hence is probably not a good indication of the actual popularity of the programmes involved.

Meanwhile, the BBC's Radio Times ran a poll asking readers if they'd like to see Doctor Who back on television. While final tallies aren't known, the polltakers did confirm that the "Yes" side won decisively.

What's this about an Atlanta company interested in making Doctor Who?

Compiled by:
Shannon Patrick Sullivan
In mid-August, several Doctor Who web sites were contacted by Karen McCoy, executive producer of Default Films, a company which since 1987 has been attempting to interest the BBC in an animated Who series. McCoy -- who suggested an animated or live-action series were possibilities, depending on the desires of the BBC -- claimed to have sixty-six prepared scripts and to have spoken to Paul McGann's representatives, who told her McGann was not interested in reprising his role as the Eighth Doctor (see "If Doctor Who returns, will Segal, McGann, Roberts and Ashbrook all be back?", above). McCoy said she would seek new talent to voice the Eighth Doctor in Paul's stead.

While the News Page can confirm that Default Films has indeed approached BBC Worldwide, a fan investigation has unveiled new information which casts doubt on some of McCoy's assertions. Jack Mayfield, operations manager of Area 9, the company of which McCoy claimed Default Films was a part, refuted his company had anything to do with Default, having merely employed McCoy on a freelance basis in the past. Jason Bell, whom McCoy had cited as a co-executive producer on the Doctor Who project, and who is an Area 9 employee, has disavowed any participation. (John Lotshaw, the third executive producer named by McCoy, is no longer participating in the project according to McCoy.) Whether any of the other information provided by McCoy is similarly erroneous is unknown at this time. Furthermore, Nelvana -- the Canadian animation house with whom McCoy claimed to have collaborated on an animated Who proposal in the late Eighties -- has also denied ever having anything to do with her, although McCoy claims that this is simply because the fan did not reach an employee who was with Nelvana back then.

Another fan who had been in contact with Jason Bell in a professional capacity was able to clarify matters further, suggesting that McCoy had used Area 9's name -- because her associates were employed by them -- in order to give her project more credibility with fans. Bell's role essentially constituted letting McCoy use the Area 9 facilities as a favor. Bell also said that, while McCoy may well have prepared sixty-six scripts, only three were included in the proposal to BBC Worldwide; certainly, absolutely no pre-production design or the like has been completed.

Finally, Gary Gillatt, editor of Doctor Who Magazine, has confirmed that BBC Worldwide is not interested in making an animated version of Doctor Who. If and when the programme returns, it will be as a live action show or nothing at all.