The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other StoriesBookmark and Share

Sunday, 12 December 2021 - Reported by Chuck Foster

From early 2023, Candy Jar will begin publishing a series of novels covering the adventures of UNIT – featuring Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Benton, and other characters from the Doctor Who story The Invasion (all authorised by Kate Sherwin and Hannah Haisman). In advance of those novels comes the first short story anthology:
 

The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories (Credit: Candy Jar Books)The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories

Features stories by Tim Gambrell, Simon A Brett, Iain McLaughlin, Sharon Bidwell, James Middleditch, Baz Greenland, Sarah Groenewegen and Jonathan Macho

Cover by Martin Baines

 

Join Benton and the Brigadier in nine short stories looking at life in the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. Ever wondered what happened on Benton’s first official day in UNIT, or why he left to sell used cars? Ever wondered how Benton earned his sergeant stripes? Or what he got up to on his days off? How Does UNIT select new recruits? And what happens when the clean-up after an alien incursion goes wrong?

In Operation Wildcat and Other Stories, you’ll find these things out – and a lot more.

 

 

Compiled by Range Editor Tim Gambrell, it brings together nine adventures.Tim explained further:

Candy Jar has already set a standard for short story collections with The HAVOC Files books. The UNIT Files will continue in that vein. There are a lot of aspects – personal or otherwise – of life in UNIT that haven’t been covered on TV or within spin-off media published to date. That opens up a deep well of potential material that really suits the short story medium. I think we’ve pulled together a collection of pieces for this first UNIT Files that truly reflects that.

Everyone who was able to contribute seemed hugely fired-up by the opportunity and pitched some tremendous ideas. My story in The Benton Files book sparked an idea for a pair of linked situations within Benton’s career, so I’ve used those shorter ‘scenes’ to book-end the collection.

Among the authors contributing to Operation Wildcat and Other Stories are recent Lethbridge-Stewart writers James Middleditch (The Overseers), Jonathan Macho (The Serpent’s Tongue and The Two Brigadiers) and Baz Greenland (Bloodlines: Foreword to the Past), along with the return of popular author Iain McLaughlin (Mind of Stone) and long-standing Candy Jar stalwarts Sharon Bidwell and Sarah Groenewegen. In addition, Candy Jar welcomes new author Simon A Brett. Tim said:

I’ve enjoyed Simon’s work on other projects, and I was keen to introduce some new voices early on in the UNIT range. Simon had a basic concept inspired by a recent trip to the Shetlands Islands. I knew I needed to bottle that inspiration, and we quickly worked out a storyline together (along with a punning title). As expected, what Simon delivered was spot on.

The story that gives the collection its title, Operation Wildcat, is by Sarah Groenewegen. Of the opportunity to contribute to The UNIT Files, Sarah said:

I’ve loved writing for the Brigadier, and when the opportunity came to contribute a story involving more of the UNIT family I leapt at it. Sergeant Benton was, for me, the obvious choice to focus on as an ordinary squaddie facing extraordinary foes.

I grew up with the original UNIT stories, and later spent a fair proportion of my law enforcement career alongside serving and former special forces soldiers. Some of the tales they shared about their training made me wonder about the adventures prospective UNIT soldiers might face and what qualities the organisation would look for in new recruits.

The UNIT Files sees the return of author Iain McLaughlin, whose last book for Candy Jar was Mind of Stone (which is being re-released with a brand new story very soon). Iain explains about his return:

My dad was a staff sergeant, so I’ve always been hugely fond of the UNIT stories on TV. That also means that any time there’s a chance to do a UNIT or Brigadier story I’m happy to join up and do my duty.

My contribution, Shadow, is set early in Benton’s time with UNIT. He’s still learning how things work and the brass at UNIT are still getting to know him. I wanted to do a story that gave him a chance to show there was a lot more to him than just snapping to attention and saying ‘Sir’. He wouldn’t survive – and indeed thrive – in UNIT if he wasn’t resourceful and capable as well as brave. It let me have a bit of a delve into what Benton thought he was getting into in those early days.

Of contributor James Middleditch, Tim said:

I approached James just as he was completing work for Andy Frankham-Allen on The Overseers. He was very buoyed up from the experience and eager for the next challenge.

James explained:

Doctor Who, while rightfully focusing on the Doctor and his companions, leaves us some tantalising clues about what UNIT and its troops are up to in the background – including how personnel are managed, trained and promoted. Although he holds a number of positions across his various appearances, usually Benton is referred to as sergeant – it’s the rank he seems stuck with! At last, we can find out how he took on this mantle and what challenges he had to overcome.


Jonathan Macho first came to Candy Jar’s attention as a runner-up in the second South Wales Short Competition. He then went on to write the short story The Two Brigadiers, as well as the hugely creative Lucy Wilson book, The Serpent’s Tongue. He said:

When Tim kindly asked me to contribute to the first UNIT adventures at Candy Jar, my head flooded with bonkers ideas for the Brig and Benton. Where I ended up was Bong Joon Ho’s The Host in West Wales and the most fun I've had writing a story in a long time. I can't wait to see what my fellow writers have in store for the team too!

Baz Greenland’s first novel, Foreword to the Past, closed the Lethbridge-Stewart: Bloodlines series in 2020. He said

I was delighted to be asked to contribute to The UNIT Files and to have the opportunity to write for the Brigadier once again. Not only that, I got to write for one of my favourite characters from Doctor Who – Sergeant Benton – in a story that explores just how the members of UNIT are considered by their armed forces peers.

The cover for Operation Wildcat is by ever-popular Lethbridge-Stewart artist Martin Baines. Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, said:

It’s always a pleasure working with Martin. His creativity is second-to-none and our readers seem to appreciate his style.

 

The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories is a hardback anthology, similar to the recent Lethbridge-Stewart books Downtime: Child of the New World, Kiss of the Ice Maiden and the illustrated Beast of Fang Rock. It will come with a postcard of the cover art and an exclusive short paperback book: The Benton Files II, featuring two new Benton short stories by 
 

UNIT: The Benton Files II (Credit: Candy Jar Books)The Benton Files II

Written by George Ivanoff and new author Kenton Hall

Cover by Richard Young

 

It’s all in the mind… Or is it?

Retired Sergeant Major John Benton recounts two more tales of his experiences serving under Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. In The Lady Jessica Affair, by George Ivanoff, Benton and the Brigadier take tea with an apparently harmless elderly lady at her stately home – and end up defending the world. In Kenton Hall’s Life Assurance, life has apparently thrown a different set of circumstances John Benton’s way. But will he be able to find a path back to his true calling?

 

On the cover, Shaun continued:

As always Richard has done us proud. His work just gets better and better.

 

The UNIT Files: Operation Wildcat and Other Stories will be available exclusively through the Candy Jar website - note, this is not included in any subscription or multi-book deal.





Big Finish Licence Extended to 2030Bookmark and Share

Friday, 10 December 2021 - Reported by Marcus
Credit: Big Finish

Big Finish Productions, in association with BBC Studios, has confirmed that its licence to make original Doctor Who and spin-off audio adventures has been extended until 31 March 2030.  

For more than two decades, Big Finish has been producing high-quality, full-cast audio drama featuring characters from the worlds of Doctor Who. The first, The Sirens of Time, was released in July 1999 and, since then, over a thousand new adventures have been released on collector’s edition CD, digital download or vinyl LP.   

This year, the company was awarded a Guinness World Record for the longest-running science fiction audio play series, in recognition of the achievements of its Doctor Who range. 2022 will see the release of a raft of new ‘classic era’ box sets (starring original series actors Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann) plus new adventures for the Ninth and Tenth Doctors (played by Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant respectively).  

Big Finish also produces the spin-off audio drama series Torchwood, Class, The Diary of River Song, Jenny – The Doctor’s Daughter, The War Doctor Begins, The War Master, UNIT, The Year of Martha Jones, Peladon, The Lone Centurion, The Robots, and The Lost Stories, plus a range of audio novels

Jan Paterson, Director of Books and Audio at BBC Studios, said:.  

Our partnership with Big Finish has been going for over 20 years. Over this time the team there has created the most extensive range of original Doctor Who audio dramas and readings, working with the original casts. This renewal of our long-term licence secures our partnership to allow Big Finish to create fantastic new adventures for the Doctors and their friends for many more years.

 Jason Haigh-Ellery, Big Finish Chairman and Co-Executive Producer, added:

We are very grateful to the BBC for once again placing their faith in Big Finish and extending our license into another decade – this time up to 2030. This allows us to really plan ahead and create long term story lines and character development not just for the Doctors and the companions but also for new series and elements that we can’t talk about yet! We are excited about the next decade and the adventures we are going to create in the TARDIS for us all to enjoy together.

 Nicholas Briggs, Big Finish Creative Director and Co-Executive Producer said:

This rather lovely licence extension from the BBC for us to continue making Doctor Who audio drama until 2030 takes me past my official retirement date — although I have no plans to retire from anything. I look forward to working with Big Finish’s great creative team and our colleagues at BBC Studios for many years to come!

All the above Doctor Who titles and more are available to own from the Big Finish website at www.bigfinish.com  

 

Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs (Big Finish)




Chris Achilléos 1947-2021Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 9 December 2021 - Reported by Marcus
Chris Achilleos (Credit: Candy Jar)

The artist Chris Achilléos has died at the age of 74

Chris Achilleos designed the covers for many Target novelisations of Doctor Who stories throughout the 1970s. His inspirational illustrations were for many fans of the era, their primary visual connection with Doctor Who.

His artwork had a seminal influence on the science fiction and fantasy genres, and throughout a career spanning five decades, he consistently remained one of the most respected and in-demand artists in his field.

Chris Achilleos (Credit: Candy Jar)The signature Achilléos style combined vivid colours, minute detailing, and an innovative blend of historical, psychedelic, and comic book influences. Although much of his work was produced on commission, to be miniaturised and serve as book covers, album covers, and film posters, Achilléos produced all his canvasses at largescale, which allowed him to showcase his rare technical skill, refined during his studies of Scientific and Technical Drawing.

Such was the ambition of his artwork that it earned the attention of George Lucas, who hired him as a conceptual artist for the visual-effects showpiece Willow; it was a position Achilléoshad previously held on the production of the cult classic Heavy Metal, starring John Candy and Harold Ramis.

It was, however, for his book covers that Achilléos was perhaps best known. His work has adorned hundreds of books, for authors such as Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Moorcock.

His prolific work for the Target range of Doctor Who novelisations, meanwhile, left an indelible mark upon the show and its universe. In the worlds of Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi, a guest at the opening of a 2016 exhibition of Achilléos’ Doctor Who artwork:

Chris Achilléos artwork perfectly captures the action-packed spirit of 1970s Doctor Who.

It’s like he invented it himself.”

Lavishly detailed, with psychedelic overtones and an unapologetically pulpy sensibility, Achilléos’ work both reproduced and reinterpreted the eccentric energy of the show’s classic era, defining a generation’s image of the Doctor and his adventures in the days before repeats or VHS recordings.

From the depths of outer space to the realms of fantasy, Achilléos’ subject matter was a far cry from his childhood in rural Cyprus, during the last days of British rule. He moved to England in his early teens, along with three siblings and a widowed mother. He spoke no English and described himself as an introvert who sought solace from prejudice in his art.

Lacking the money for art supplies, he produced his earliest sketches on the back of wallpaper and on paper donated by a local butcher. Having always fiercely maintained his rights over his work, retaining wherever possible the original canvasses, his professional pieces have become highly sought after, and adorn the walls of collectors the world over. Their abiding influence is evident in the work of the admirers he inspired.

He leaves behind a wife, two daughters and two grandsons.

Thanks to Candy Jar Books

 

Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Planet of the Daleks (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Space War (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who The Three Doctors (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Ark in Space (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and theCave Monsters (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and theWeb of Fear (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Cybermen (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Zarbi (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Genisis of the Daleks (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Claws of Axon (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon (Credit: Chris Achilléos)




Doctor Who Magazine Issue 572Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 8 December 2021 - Reported by Marcus
Doctor Who Magazine Issue 572 (Credit: Panini)

Issue 572 of Doctor Who Magazine features an exclusive preview of this year's New Year Special., Eve of the Daleks. 

 

Highlights of the new issue include:

  • An exclusive preview of Eve of the Daleks, with contributions from Chris Chibnall, John Bishop, Mandip Gill and director Annetta Laufer.

  • Interviews with Series 13’s directors, Jamie Magnus Stone and Azhur Saleem.

  • An interview with Annabel Scholey, who played Claire in Flux. 

  • In the first installment of a two-part feature, costume designer Ray Holman discusses his creations for Series 13.

  • A behind-the-scenes look at what happened when a Doctor Who fan wrote to CBBC’s The Dengineers, to ask for his own TARDIS.

  • Collectivity meets fans whose passion for Doctor Who books and toys began with childhood Christmas presents.

  • The Fact of Fiction revisits the 2015 Christmas Special The Husbands of River Song.

  • It’s Behind You!, a brand-new comic strip adventure for the Doctor, Yaz and Dan.

  • Public Image analyses the ratings for Flux.

  • The Doctor Who Magazine Christmas Quiz.

  • Previews, reviews, news, prize-winning competitions, Time and Space Visualiser and more.

PLUS: a giant double-sided poster!

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 572 is on sale from panini.co.uk and WH Smith from Thursday 9 December

priced £6.99 (UK). Also available as a digital edition from pocketmags.com priced £5.99.

 




The Vanquishers - Appreciation IndexBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 8 December 2021 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Swarm (Sam Spruell) (Credit: BBC Studios (Sam Taylor))

Flux: Chapter Six: The Vanquishers  achieved an Audience Appreciation Index score of 76.

The Appreciation Index or AI is a measure of how much the audience enjoyed the programme. The score, out of a hundred, is compiled by a specially selected panel of around 5,000 people who go online and rate and comment on programmes.

With the last episode of the series now broadcast, this brings the series average to 76.7.





Ratings LatestBookmark and Share

Monday, 6 December 2021 - Reported by Marcus
Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers:  (Credit: BBC Studios (Sam Taylor))

Doctor Who The Vanquishers was watched by 3.58 million viewers according to unofficial overnight figures. This is a slight drop from episode 5's 3.82 million

It was the day's fifth most-watched programme of the day.

The seven-day consolidated figure, which includes all those who watch the episode within one week. for Episode Five: Survivors of the Flux was 4.72 million. 

Doctor Who was the 9th most-watched programme on BBC Television for the week and the 25th most-watched on all British television for the week. 





New Year's Day adventure announcedBookmark and Share

Sunday, 5 December 2021 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Eve of the Daleks poster (portrait clean) (Credit: BBC/James Pardon)

The BBC have released details on the New Year's Day adventure for Doctor Who.

 

Following the explosive series finale of Doctor Who: Flux, the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and friends Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop), will kick-start 2022 with an action-packed spectacular episode set to air on BBC One on New Year’s Day.

Eve Of The Daleks will also feature guest stars Aisling Bea (This Way Up, Living With Yourself, Quiz), Adjani Salmon (Dreaming Whilst Black, Enterprice) and Pauline McLynn (Father Ted, Shameless).

Sarah (Aisling Bea) owns and runs ELF storage, and Nick (Adjani Salmon) is a customer who visits his unit every year on New Year’s Eve. This year, however, their night turns out to be a little different than planned as they find themselves joining forces with the Doctor, Dan and Yaz in a fight against the Daleks.

The trailer for the special, which aired following the series thirteen finale, finds the cast trapped in ELF storage and stuck in a terrifying time loop with the Daleks. Will the gang manage to avoid extermination and escape the storage facility in time to see out New Year’s Day?

Chris Chibnall, Showrunner, says:

We all need a little romance in our lives around New Year. Less so, Daleks. But Aisling Bea and Adjani Salmon’s characters will have to deal with both in a New Year’s Eve from hell. Together with Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, it’ll hopefully prove the perfect New Year’s Day tonic.

 

 

Eve of the Daleks: Trailer

 

Eve of the Daleks - Nick (ADJANI SALMON) (Credit: BBC/James Pardon) Eve of the Daleks -  Sarah (AISLING BEA), Yasmin Khan (MANDIP GILL), Dan (JOHN BISHOP), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) (Credit: BBC/James Pardon) Eve of the Daleks - Dalek (Credit: BBC/James Pardon) Eve of the Daleks - Sarah (AISLING BEA) (Credit: BBC/James Pardon) Eve of the Daleks - The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) (Credit: BBC/James Pardon) Eve of the Daleks poster (landscape clean) (Credit: BBC/James Pardon)





The VanquishersBookmark and Share

Saturday, 4 December 2021 - Reported by Marcus
Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Swarm (Sam Spruell) (Credit: BBC Studios (Sam Taylor))

Doctor Who reaches its season finale this weekend with the sixth chapter in the Flux series, The Vanquishers

In the final epic chapter in the story of the Flux, all hope is lost. The forces of darkness are in control. But when the monsters have won, who can you count upon to save the universe?

The episode is once more written by showrunner Chris Chibnall and directed by Azhur Saleem

It stars Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor alongside Mandip Gill as Yasmin and John Bishop as Dan. 

 

The episode can be seen in the UK on BBC One at 6.20 pm on Sunday. Full global broadcasts are listed at This Week in Doctor Who

 

It can be streamed on the BBC iPlayer, on Netflix, on Amazon Prime and Britbox depending on location. 

 

 

 

Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Pardon))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Jericho (Kevin Mcnally) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Pardon))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Jericho (Kevin Mcnally) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Pardon))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Sontaran (Credit: BBC Studios (James Pardon))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Serpent (Craig Parkinson) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Pardon))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Diane (Nadia Albina), Vinder (Jacob Anderson) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Pardon))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Pardon))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Jericho (Kevin Mcnally), Dan (John Bishop), Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), Williamson (Steve Oram) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Stack))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Stack))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Dan (John Bishop), Jericho (Kevin Mcnally) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Stack))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Stack))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Sontaran, Serpent (Craig Parkinson) (Credit: BBC Studios (James Pardon))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers: Sontarans (Credit: BBC Studios (James Stack))Flux Chapter 6 - The Vanquishers:  (Credit: BBC Studios (Sam Taylor))

 





Paul McGann and Colin Baker join Doctor Who: PeladonBookmark and Share

Friday, 3 December 2021 - Reported by Marcus
Peladon (Credit: Big Finish)

Colin Baker, Alex Kingston, Bonnie Langford, and Paul McGann star in January 2022’s special Doctor Who Audio box set from Big Finish Productions.  

The Sixth and Eighth Doctors, Mel and River Song join multiple time and space travelers visiting the legendary mining planet of Peladon in four brand new full-cast audio adventures.

The release sees the return of David Troughton as King Peladon, returning to the role he first played on television 50 years ago. 

He is joined by familiar friends and foes, plus some new faces, including Alpha Centauri (Jane Goddard), Queen Thalira (Deborah Findlay), Queen Minaris (Sara Powell), Chancellor Barok (Jason Watkins), Helais (Liz White), Arla (Meera Syal) and the Ice Warriors (Nicholas Briggs).  

 

Journey to Peladon, member world of the Galactic Federation and home to intrigue and adventure. With each passing generation, the toll of industrial exploitation and deadly political games is taking its toll on the planet. Can the Doctor and his allies guide the course of history towards a hopeful future? Or is Peladon's fate in the lap of the gods? 

 

Doctor Who – Peladon is now available to pre-order as a collector’s edition box set (on CD at £24.99) or a digital download (at £19.99), exclusively from the Big Finish website

 

 





Doctor's Do ShakespeareBookmark and Share

Friday, 3 December 2021 - Reported by Marcus
Richard II (Credit: RSC)MacBeth (Credit: RSC)

Two Shakespeare plays starring two Doctor's have been released onto the streaming service Stageplayer+

On the service, you can view David Tennant's performance in the title role of Richard II, the vain King who lost a Kingdom, as well as Christopher Eccleston playing Macbeth, the usurper of the Scottish crown. 

Each play costs £2.99 to access. 

StagePlayer+ is the world’s first pay-per-view Performing Arts-focused platform. StagePlayer+ enables users to search content from around the world, putting the Performing Arts in the spotlight and enabling fans to support theatres, producers, content owners, and rights holders from the comfort of their own homes and on an ongoing basis.

The system can be viewed across a growing number of large-screen connected devices and platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast,and at stageplayerplus.com.