Friday, 27 December 2002

doctor who is tops

The character of Doctor Who has been named the greatest science fiction character of all time, according to a poll taken by British genre magazine SFX. Rounding out the top ten characters are Spike, Buffy and Willow from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," John Crichton and Aeryn Sun from "Farscape," Han Solo and Darth Vader of the "Star Wars" saga, Angel from the Buffy spinoff "Angel" and Gandalf of "Lord of the Rings". Said SFX editor Dave Golder to BBC News, "It just goes to prove that there is a certain magic to the character and the idea of the face-changing Doctor which strikes a chord with the public's imagination." The full article on BBC news can be read by clicking here. (Thanks to Damon Querry, Deejay)

Friday, 20 December 2002

big finish update

Big Finish has released information about a few forthcoming releases. First, the revised cover illustration for Short Trips: Zodiac, the first of their hardcover Doctor Who anthologies due out on December 23, is now online; click the thumbnail below left for a larger version. The cover (artist unknown at present) replaces a mockup cover released earlier by Adrian Salmon; the illustration was changed, as explained by producer Gary Russell, to better match the photomontage cover illustration seen on most Doctor Who book releases (as opposed to artwork). Also, title of the second Short Trips book from Big Finish is Short Trips 2: Companions. Meanwhile, new details are available for the February and March 2003 audios: February's Nekromanteia by Austen Atkinson stars Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and Caroline Morris, and features guest appearances by Simon Williams (best known as Group Captain Gilmore in the season 25 serial "Remembrance of the Daleks") and Glyn Owen (who played Rohm-Dutt in season 16's "The Power of Kroll"); while March's The Dark Flame by Trevor Baxendale features Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred alongside Lisa Bowerman returning as Bernice Summerfield. The cover blurbs for both are listed below. Finally, a new Desk Calendarwill be out for the new year; the 15-month calendar features, as before, illustrations from selected BF covers. Click on the thumbnail below right for a larger version.

NEKROMANTEIA, by Austen Atkinson
In the depths of space a little known district harbours a terrible secret. Long known as a place of death, it claims thousands more lives as a great corporate space-fleet goes to war. As the fleet screams out in fear and pain, an irresistible voice calls out to three travellers and a macabre mind sets a deadly trap.
        The Doctor, Peri and Erimem face the terrors of Talderun and the wrath of a corporate empire as they struggle to understand the hideous secret of the domain of the dead  a district known in legend as Nekromanteia.
        Starring Peter Davison (the Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri) and Caroline Morris (Erimem), with Simon Williams (Paul Addison), Glyn Owen (Harlon), Gilly Cohen (Jal Dor Kal), Kerry Skinner (Cochrane), Ivor Danvers (Marr), Kate Brown (Tallis), Nigel Fairs (Rom) and Andrew Fettes (Salaysian).

THE DARK FLAME, by Trevor Baxendale
A thousand years ago, the evil Cult of the Dark Flame infiltrated every star system in the galaxy. In the history books the Cult is legendary, its despotic leader a terrible memory. But for some the Dark Flame still burns. For some, its horrifying power is the ultimate goal. All that is required is for the right people to be in the wrong place and time.
        An archaeologist and his robot are on the poisonous world of Sorus Alpha, where they will uncover a hideous relic. The Doctor and Ace are on their way to the deep space research centre Orbos, where Professor Bernice Summerfield is soon to start the countdown to universal Armageddon.
        Four acolytes of Evil. Three mad scientists. Two companions. One Doctor.
        Starring Sylvester McCoy (the Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace) and Lisa Bowerman (Bernice Summerfield); further cast TBA. Directed by Jason Haigh-Ellery.

Sunday, 15 December 2002

daleks on the march

March 1, 2003 will see the premier of a brand new documentary on the malevolentDaleks on Radio 4, as part of the show's upcoming 40th anniversary. The documentary will be "an affectionate tribute to the Doctor's arch enemies," and will delve into the origins of the Daleks, with interviews and contributions from first producer Verity Lambert, Ray Cusick, Roy Skelton, Cy Town, John Scott Martin, Alexei Sayle ("Remembrance of the Daleks"), Terry Molloy (the final Davros in the series), Kim Newman ("Time and Relative") and others. The documentary is produced by David Priest and airs on Radio 4 on March 1 at 10:30am. (Thanks to BBCi)

blue veils and golden sands

One of the pioneers of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the late Delia Derbyshire, one of the architects of the signature Doctor Who theme tune, will be honored as the subject of a new play, Blue Veils and Golden Sands, broadcast on Monday, December 23 at 14:15 GMT (2:15pm) by UK Radio Four. Derbyshire, "one of the most colourful & interesting composers of electronic music, and at the forefront of its development," passed away in 2001, and the play is about her work. The 45-minute radio play is written by Martyn Wade and stars Sophie Thompson as Delia, Peter Kember as himself, Stephen Critchlow as Anthony Newley, and Martin Hyder as Ron Grainer, with original music composed by Elizabeth Parker. Fasn should be able to listen to the play for up to seven days after its broadcast at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4. (Thanks to Neil Fountain, Hendryk Korzeniowski, Chris Moore and Geoffrey Cotterill)

Sunday, 8 December 2002

the return of shada

BBCi has revealed plans for its 40th anniversary of Doctor Who webcast: a remake by Big Finish Productions of the classic "lost" Doctor Who story Shada, written by the late Douglas Adams. "Shada" was originally abandoned due to an industrial strike, although it was eventually released on video with linking narration by Tom Baker. In this new version of "Shada", the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) is reunited with old friends Romana (Lalla Ward) and K-9 (John Leeson) "in a quest to track down the most dangerous book in the universe." The cast features such notables as James Fox ("A Passage to India," "The Remains of the Day") as Professor Chronotis, Andrew Sachs (best remembered as daffy waiter Manuel on "Fawlty Towers") as Skagra, Sean Biggerstaff (Oliver Wood in the "Harry Potter" films) as Chris Parsons, Hannah Gordon (presenter of UK Channel Four's "Watercolor Challenge" and originally in the Doctor Who serial "The Highlanders") as the voice of Skagra's ship, Susannah Harker ("Ultraviolet") as Clare Keightley,Melvyn Hayes ("Quatermass II," "Ain't Half Hot, Mum") as college porter Wilkin, andStuart Crossman in an unknown role. "This is a tremendously exciting project," director Nicholas Pegg told BBCi. "We’ve really pulled out all the stops on this one. We’ve had a fantastic time in the studio and I hope people will agree that we’ve done justice to one of the greatest writers Doctor Who was ever blessed with." Says Big Finish producer, Jason Haigh-Ellery, "This is a great opportunity to finally produce Doctor Who's most famous lost script, and a fine tribute to Douglas Adams." Lee Sullivan will produce animation for the new webcast and Gary Russell, on authority from the estate of Douglas Adams, has tailored the script to add some framing information and tie it into the story. BBCi senior producer James Goss stated on the Outpost Gallifrey Forum, "Big Finish have come up with a neat way of fitting the new Shada into continuity without messing around with the original script too much. Without going into detail, there's a short prelude set on Gallifrey, where the Doctor turns up to see Romana, explaining that they've got some unfinished business to attend to... involving a call for help from an old friend that they appear to have been somehow prevented from answering." At right, a photo from BBCi with McGann, Ward and K-9. The recording was taped in early November, and is set for debut on BBCi next spring. (Thanks to BBCi, as well as everyone who wrote in to let us know about it and the report on Biggerstaff's website)

dvd & video updates

In the UK, the DVD release of The Three Doctors, originally moved from January 2003 to November 2003, is now currently scheduled for a July 2003 release according to the Restoration Team. Meanwhile, Resurrection Of The Daleks starring Peter Davison will be available on DVD in Australia on February 3, 2003. Finally, in the US, two new VHS releases have been confirmed from BBC Worldwide for release on May 13, 2003: Planet of Giants with William Hartnell, and Underworld with Tom Baker. There will also be a further video release in the US in September, with the two-month gaps filled in by DVD releases. (Thanks to Steve Roberts, Sean Brady, Rodney Hrvatin)