Kate O'Mara 1939-2014Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 30 March 2014 - Reported by Marcus
Actress Kate O'Mara, forever known to Doctor Who fans as The Rani, died today at the age of 74.

O'Mara was one of the best-known actresses of her generation, famous for playing a succession of power-hungry and ruthless women in some of the most iconic television dramas of the 20th century.

Born in 1939, the daughter of actress Hazel Bainbridge and RAF flying instructor John F Carroll, she made her stage debut in 1963 in a performance of The Merchant of Venice. The following year she began her television career which led to guest roles in series such as Danger Man, Adam Adamant Lives!, The Saint, Z-Cars and The Avengers.

In 1975 she was cast as Jane Maxwell in the BBC's Sunday night drama The Brothers, playing alongside Colin Baker. Appearing in 30 episodes, her portrayal of the tough, uncompromising businesswoman would define the roles she would play throughout her career.

In 1982 she joined Triangle, the notorious early-evening soap opera, filmed on a North Sea ferry, playing Katherine Laker. Hollywood called in 1986 when she was cast as Caress Morrell, the younger sister of Joan Collins, in the American series Dynasty. Back in the UK, she starred in Howard's Way, Crossroads and Bad Girls.

Her fame led to guest appearances on such shows as Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies and Absolutely Fabulous.

In 1985 John Nathan-Turner reunited O'Mara with Colin Baker, when he asked her to take on the role of The Rani in the Sixth Doctor story The Mark of the Rani. Her character was so successful she returned in 1987 in the first story of the Seventh Doctor, Time and the Rani, a script which required her to impersonate the Doctor's then companion Mel, played by Bonnie Langford. Her final appearance as The Rani came in 1993, when she appeared in the Children in Need spoof set in the world of EastEnders, Dimensions in Time.

Last year she spoke to Digital Spy about her work on Doctor Who:
If you put a much older woman in Doctor Who, they can identify with it. I think it's quite an interesting concept and if you remember things like Grimm's Fairytales, the older woman is often the villainess, often the terrifying figure - why I do not know, but often she is. I think it's an idea to be exploited.
Stars have taken to Twitter to pay tribute. Colin Baker said: "Oh my goodness. Kate O'Mara is no longer with us. Sad sad news. A delightful, committed and talented lady and actress. We are the poorer", with Bonnie Langford adding: "So sad to hear that the wonderful Kate O'Mara has gone. Treasured memories xxx". Nicola Bryant said: "Such sad news:Kate O'Mara is no longer with us. A charismatic, courageous, & caring soul; a wonderful actor & a friend. May she finally RIP." while Dynasty co-star Joan Collins added: "Tragic news about Kate O'Mara , we had great fun on Dynasty when she played my sister Caress... RIP". Tracey Childs, who worked with O'Mara on Howards' Way, said: "Today the world lost a fine actress & dedicated producer & I lost a friend of 3 decades. Safe journey Kate O'Mara. You were an inspiration X".

O'Mara died in a Sussex nursing home following a short illness. She was married twice, both times to actors, firstly to Jeremy Young and then to Richard Willis, and leaves a sister, actress Belinda Carroll, and a son, Christopher Linde. Her first son, Dickon Young, died in 2012.

The actress last posted a message on Twitter on 17 March, to say:
Thank you so much for your kind tweets. It's both humbling and completely overwhelming to read all of your messages. Much Love x.

FILTER: - Obituary - Classic Series

Panini launches Essential Doctor Who series with Cybermen specialBookmark and Share

Saturday, 29 March 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
Publisher Panini has launched a new series of specials called The Essential Doctor Who, with the first title centring on the Cybermen.

It follows last year's 50th-anniversary "bookazines" by the makers of Doctor Who Magazine.

Highlights of the first edition include a new Cyberman, specially illustrated by original designer Alexandra Tynan (formerly called Sandra Reid).

The Essential Doctor Who: Cybermen is a 116-page guide featuring details of every Cyberman episode. There are exclusive new interviews with scriptwriters Neil Gaiman, Gareth Roberts and Marc Platt, choreographer Ailsa Berk, and four of the actors who have portrayed Cybermen.

The publication also includes archive interviews with Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, who created the Cybermen, as well as features on comics, novels, audio stories and Davis's unmade serial The Genesis of the Cybermen.

Editor Marcus Hearn, who authored the New York Times best-seller Doctor Who: The Vault, said:
Our writers include the estimable Andrew Pixley and our art editor is the brilliant Peri Godbold, so we obviously share our DNA with Doctor Who Magazine. But there are a lot of new voices in there as well, and I hope we've been able to preserve DWM's authoritative tone while creating our own identity.
The special is on sale now at WH Smith and other newsagents.

FILTER: - Magazines

Derek Martinus 1931-2014Bookmark and Share

Friday, 28 March 2014 - Reported by Marcus
Veteran Doctor Who director Derek Martinus has died at the age of 82.

Derek Martinus was a BBC drama Director, responsible for 26 episodes of Doctor Who.

His first story was the premier of the third season of the series, directing Willam Hartnell in the 1965 story Galaxy Four. He stayed on to look after the single episode story Mission to the Unknown, which is unique in the series for not featuring either The Doctor or any of his companions.

Martinus returned to the series the following year, looking after The Tenth Planet which not only saw the arrival of the first Cybermen, but the departure of the First Doctor, giving Martinus a chance to direct the first ever regeneration scene.

He directed Patrick Troughton in The Evil of the Daleks in 1967, the story which saw the introduction of a new companion in the form of Victoria Waterfield as played by Deborah Watling. Later in the year he got the chance to introduce the public to another iconic monster, this time The Ice Warriors .

Martinus's final story for Doctor Who was in 1970 when he took the series into colour with the first Third Doctor story, directing Jon Pertwee in Spearhead from Space, the only classic Doctor Who episode to be shot entirely on film.

Martinus started his career in the theatre, where he continued to work after meeting his Swedish wife Eivor, to whom he was married for 50 years. They worked together on many productions and she translated many of the stage plays he directed. His theatre credits include Ben Jonson's Volpone, Caryl Churchill's Mad Forest, Harold Pinter's The Homecoming and Stephen Lowe's The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists for different theatres in Sweden.

As a Director his other work included Crown Court, Angles, Z Cars Penmaric and two episodes of Blakes 7. He worked on several children's TV programmes including The Paper Lads and Dodger, Bonzo and the Rest, both of which won the Pye Award for best children's drama. He directed TV shows The Black Tulip, What Maisie Knew, A Legacy and A little Princess.

Martinus studied at Yale Drama School and worked as an actor, before turning his attentions to a career as a director. He had a minor role in the first Carry On film, Carry on Sergeant which starred William Hartnell.

Derek Martinus' family told the BBC he died on Thursday evening having suffered from Alzheimer's for many years. His daughter Charlotta Martinus, who later joined the BBC as a documentary maker, paid tribute to her father
He was a legend, just an absolute legend. He taught me how to love, live and laugh, he was just such an amazing man.

It was an amazing childhood to be living among the Doctor Who paraphernalia. We used to go down and watch Doctor Who being made and see the Daleks, and even get inside the Daleks. Having those famous people walk through your door... Jon Pertwee would come for tea.

Ten years after he left, everyone used to say to me, 'Are you really his daughter?'. He was really inspirational for me and my sister Pia who is a doctor. He was a leader of men and he inspired everyone.
Martinus is survived by his wife, two daughters and three grandchildren.

FILTER: - Obituary - Classic Series

Celebrating the Godfathers of British Electronic MusicBookmark and Share

Friday, 28 March 2014 - Reported by Marcus
The University of Chichester's Department of Media will be celebrating the BBC Radiophonic Workshop with a day of interviews, lectures, talks and panels, culminating in a rare opportunity to see the Workshop perform live.

Original team members Dick Mills, Paddy Kingsland, Peter Howell and Roger Limb, as well as archivist Mark Ayres, will be extensively interviewed about their lives and work at the event which takes place on Friday 11th April.

The day session will be followed by a visual show in surround sound, featuring new material to be played only at this event. There will also be an after-show party hosted by Brighton electronica night Synthesize Me, and a special performance by rising synth-pop duo the Vile Electrodes.

Tickets costing £65 are available from the official website.

FILTER: - Music - Special Events - Classic Series

Bournemouth police box opening date announcedBookmark and Share

Thursday, 27 March 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
The TARDIS-type police box specially made for Bournemouth is to be opened on Tuesday 8th April, Dorset Police has announced.

The steel box is to be installed at the western end of Boscombe precinct in Christchurch Road, with the official opening ceremony taking place at 11.30am in front of local dignitaries plus businessmen and women as well as the community.

Sgt Chris Amey, Boscombe Partnership and Regeneration officer, said:
The steel construction has been completed, the box has been galvanised and is currently being powder-coated at a secret location. When it returns it will undergo its internal fit, which will include security locks, CCTV, telephone and the installation of some exciting bespoke technology.
The opening will be followed by a family fun day between midday and 4pm, to be held at the precinct marquee and led by Creative Kids, with free activities and entertainment organised, including a bouncy castle, face painting, music and games.

It has not been announced who will perform the opening honours.

The design - by James Roberts of Christchurch-based architect and design practice Anders Roberts Cheer - has been based on the iconic 1929 version created for the Metropolitan Police by Gilbert Mackenzie Trench. The box has been built by AMK Industries, also of Christchurch, and been funded by local firms and organisations via donations or services, either free or at a significantly reduced cost. The sponsors are to be recognised with an engraved paving stone at the foot of the police box.

The new box will be regularly staffed during the day by police officers and police community support officers, who will offer help, advice and support to members of the public. A phone will be attached to the police box for people to use to contact the police at other times.

Dorset Police says that as well as serving an important policing purpose it is hoped that the police box will become an iconic landmark, creating tourism opportunities.

Inspector Chris Weeks, who is responsible for the Bournemouth East neighbourhood, said:
The Boscombe police box is just one of a number of projects aimed at reducing crime and anti-social behaviour and will place an obvious policing footprint exactly where it is needed.

Dorset Police is committed to listening to the concerns of the community and we hope the police box will both reassure those living, working and visiting Boscombe, as well as sending out a very clear message that the area is policed.
Sgt Amey added:
I'm extremely grateful to Clare and Cary from Creative Kids who are very kindly organising the family fun day to mark the opening of the police box. The day has specifically been organised during the Easter school holiday to encourage parents to bring their children along to celebrate the opening of this iconic landmark.

I would like to thank the following businesses and organisations supporting the police box without whom this project would not have been possible: Dorset Police; The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset; Bournemouth Borough Council; AMK Industries Limited; Anders Roberts and Associates Ltd; Glossbrook Builders Ltd; DWP Housing Partnership; National Landlords Association - Dorset; Hamilton Fraser Insurance; Hoare Banks Stonemasons; Koh Thai; Nationwide Building Society; Urban Reef Restaurant; Michael Grubb Studio; Backing Boscombe Regeneration Partnership; Royal Arcade Apartments; Graemar Group; Community Development Foundation; Bournemouth Coastal Bid; Southern Security Services Ltd; Sovereign Shopping Centre; South Western Ambulance Service and the O2 Academy Bournemouth.
Two pictures showing work nearing completion were tweeted by Dorset Police two days ago with the hashtag #BoscombePoliceBox, and they can be seen below. Click here and here for the tweets.

UPDATE - 30th MARCH: A picture tweeted by Dorset Police on 28th March shows the police box on the move ahead of its grand opening.

UPDATE - 1st APRIL: And here's a picture tweeted by Dorset Police yesterday, showing the box with what looks to be a fresh coat of paint.

FILTER: - UK - Miscellaneous

Gatiss commissioned for two new episodesBookmark and Share

Thursday, 27 March 2014 - Reported by Marcus
Actor and script writer Mark Gatiss has confirmed that he has been commissioned to write two new Doctor Who episodes, but has clarified that they will not necessarily both be in the upcoming series.

Gatiss has previously written six episodes for the series (The Unquiet Dead; The Idiot's Lantern; Victory of the Daleks; Night Terrors; The Crimson Horror; Cold War) as well as the acclaimed drama based on the origins of the series, An Adventure In Space And Time.

Gatiss confirmed the news on Twitter after telling reporters in Brazil that he would be writing two episodes for new Doctor Peter Capaldi.

He recently told Digital Spy that Capaldi would have an "exciting and disturbing" debut in the series.
Peter has a very different energy to Matt Smith and to David Tennant. He's older which changes everything ... it's amazing what a change does! Matt was sublime and I was very sorry to see him go, but it's also great to have a change, as it has always been with the Doctor.

FILTER: - Production - Series 8/34

Mary Tamm - Second GenerationBookmark and Share

Thursday, 27 March 2014 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Fantom Publishing have released the final cover for their forthcoming second part of actress Mary Tamm's autobiography, due out in April.

Mary Tamm - Second Generation (Credit: Fantom Films)Mary Tamm - Second Generation

Bradford-born Mary Tamm was already a successful actress on stage, TV and the big screen when, in 1978, she joined the cast of Doctor Who as the Time Lady, Romana, in the company of Tom Baker’s incarnation of the Doctor.

In 2009, her book First Generation recounted the story of her life before Who and her journey of self-discovery to her parents’ homeland of Estonia. Tantalisingly for Who fans, the book came to an end half way through Mary’s year on board the TARDIS. This new volume (written before her tragic death from cancer in 2012) picks up where First Generation ends, with the inside story of the filming of her final three Doctor Who adventures; and continues with tales of her subsequent TV work, her return to the stage, her ventures into the world of Who fandom, and the personal joy and fulfilment brought to her by the birth of her own ‘second generation’ – her daughter, Lauren.

Packed with incidents and anecdotes recounted with Mary’s trademark no-nonsense Northern wit, Second Generation is rounded out with tributes and reflections from some of her closest friends and colleagues, including Miriam Margolyes, Carol Royle and Steven Berkoff.

The book will be available in paperback and limited edition hardback; full details are available from the Fantom Films website, as are for the her first autobiography, First Generation.

FILTER: - Merchandise - Auto/Biography - Books

Moments in Time: The Trip of a LifetimeBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Moments in TimeAs one of the highest rated shows on television today, and with four (or five!) new Doctors under its belt, it's perhaps hard to imagine a time when Doctor Who was simply one of the thousands of series that had once flourished but ultimately been consigned to the great script book in the sky. But in the mid 2000s this was how the series was regarded by many, and the brave effort by the BBC to bring it back exactly nine years ago was very much a gamble - how would the 'old-school' fans receive it, and what would a 'modern' audience make of a time-traveller in a police box?

Of course, Doctor Who did have an advantage in that it was a show that was still remembered outside of its core fan base, the general public at large were aware of "Dr Who", his iconic TARDIS, and the Daleks. This helped to lend a sense of curiosity at what the new face behind the show, celebrated writer Russell T Davies, would do with the Doctor, who would be played by an established television and film actor in the form of Christopher Eccleston, not to mention the inclusion of the press-attraction of former teenage pop-star turned actress Billie Piper.

Doctor Who teaser, 1st January 2005. Image: BBCA teaser trailer on New Year's Day 2005 formally introduced the return to the general public, but it wasn't until March when the promotional gears were turned up to maximum with a host of trailers ("Do you want to come with me?") and programmes to build up interest in a way not witnessed again until the 50th Anniversary last year.

The three principal names appeared on a variety of news and magazine programmes in the lead-up to the premiere: Christopher Eccleston was a guest on the ever Who-friendly Blue Peter on the 21st March, and then came face-to-face with 'himself' on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on the 25th; Billie Piper appeared on Parkinson on the 19th; and Russell "TV" Davies appeared on the Breakfast couch on the 11th, on BBC2 Wales's On Show on the 17th, and with Phil and Fern on This Morning on the 23rd. The press preview on the 8th March was covered widely in the media, and led to recorded interviews with the stars popping up on Breakfast and GMTV during that week. Special programmes during the period included: Matthew Sweet looking forward with a little trepidation on how the show's return would fit in culturally on The Culture Show on the 17th; Ian Rankin, Bonnie Greer and Professor John Carey discussing the series' merits on Newsnight Review on the 18th; and BBC Radio 2 presenting Project: Who? on the 22nd. Doctor Who wasn't the only programme on the way - Doctor Who Confidential was also to premiere at the weekend on BBC Three, and executive producer Mark Cossey chatted to Rufus Hound on the channel's Destination Three about what to expect from the behind-the-scenes series.

BBC Wales Today coverage of Doctor Who Preview, 8 Mar 2005. Image: BBCBillie Piper interview on BBC Breakfast, 9 Mar 2005. Image: BBCChristopher Eccleston interview on BBC Breakfast, 9 Mar 2005. Image: BBCDoctor Who coverage on Newsnight, 9th March 2005. Image: BBCRussell T Davies on BBC Breakfast, 11th March 2005. Image: BBCChristopher Eccleston on GMTV, 11th March 2005. Image: BBCMatthew Sweet on The Culture Show, 17th March 2005. Image: BBCRussell T Davies on On Show, 17th March 2005. Image: BBCNewsnight Review, 18th March 2005. Image: BBCBillie Piper on Parkinson, 19th March 2005. Image: BBCChristopher Eccleston on Blue Peter, 21st March 2005. Image: BBCProject: Who?, 22nd March 2005. Image: BBCPhilip Schofield and Fern Britton on This Morning, 23rd March 2005. Image: ITVRussell T Davies on This Morning, 23rd March 2005. Image: ITVChristopher Eccleston on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, 25th Match 2005. Image: BBCMark Cossey on Destination Three, 26th March 2005. Image: BBCThe Trip of a Lifetime Trailer, 26th March 2005. Image: BBCDoctor Who ident, 26th March 2005. Image: BBCThe Trip of a Lifetime Trailer, 26th March 2005. Image: BBCDoctor Who ident, 26th March 2005. Image: BBC

Then, suddenly, it's the 26th March. As the early evening inexorably approaches, appetites are whetted with a special preview (and countdown) in A New Dimension, an excruciating wait through Graham Norton's Strictly Dance Fever ... and then, at 7:00pm, the BBC One "Tap Dogs" ident commences, with the announcement fans have been waiting over fifteen years for:
"Tap Dogs" ident, introducing a new series of Doctor Who! (Credit: BBC)Well now, BBC One hurtles through space and time.
Come with us for the trip of a lifetime!
Aliens, you have been warned ...
Christopher Eccleston is the new ... Doctor Who!

45 minutes later and an unprecedented ten million viewers - and 43.2% of the audience - have watched Rose run to the TARDIS and off into adventures with the Doctor; the final figure rose to 10.81m (44.8%) and achieved seventh place in the TV charts, only beaten by the soap juggernauts Coronation Street and EastEnders. A week later, a further series has been commissioned (not to mention a new Doctor on the cards!), and the longevity of a modern Doctor Who is assured ...

FILTER: - Ninth Doctor - Russell T Davies - Moments in Time - Billie Piper - Series 1/27 - Chris Chibnall

Dalek gifts to be had in Doctor Who AdventuresBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
Three Dalek gifts are being given away with the new edition of Doctor Who Adventures, published today.

Also in issue 342:
  • Vote for your favourite Eleventh Doctor story
  • Ood facts and how to make an Ood mask
  • Sontaran Strax with his guide to the Doctor
  • Facts about a Dalek invasion on television in 1964
  • Win a huge bag of Doctor Who goodies - including sonic screwdrivers and mini-figures
  • Cyberman secrets from Nightmare in Silver
  • A comic strip featuring an unseen adventure with the Eleventh Doctor and Clara – and use the free app Blippar to bring the comic strip to life
  • Posters and puzzles
The new issue of DWA is available until Tuesday 8th April.

FILTER: - Magazines - DWA

Adric returns in Big FinishBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 - Reported by Marcus
Matthew Waterhouse makes his Big Finish debut as Adric this summer in The Fifth Doctor Box Set, reunited with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton for two four-part audio adventures.

Waterhouse first played the role in 1980, joining the series just as the Fourth Doctor was completing his run, staying for 11 stories and 42 episodes.

Producer David Richardson said
I’m very proud of these stories. They are two top-notch scripts, and very different in style, content and tone – yet both of them fit perfectly into Season 19. I think Doctor Who fans are in for a treat…
Psychodrome by Jonathan Morris

Shortly after surviving the perils of Logopolis, Castrovalva and the machinations of the Master, the new Doctor and his new crew could be forgiven for wanting to take a breather from their tour of the galaxy. But when the TARDIS lands in a strange and unsettling environment, the urge to explore is irresistible... and trouble is only a few steps away.

The world they have found themselves in is populated by a wide variety of the strangest people imaginable - a crashed spacecraft here, a monastery there, even a regal court. And not everyone they meet has their best interests at heart.

With the TARDIS stolen, and the very environment itself out to get them, the travellers face a extremely personal threat. They'll have to work as a team if they want to get out alive... but can you really trust someone you barely know?

Guest cast: Rickett (Robert Whitelock), Magpie (Phil Mulryne), Perditia (Camila Power), Javon (Bethan Walker)
Iterations of I by John Dorney

The house on Fleming's Island had been left to rot. Ever since a strange and unexplained death soon after it was built, and plagued with troubling rumours about what lurked there, it remained empty and ignored for decades until the cult moved in. As twenty people filled its many rooms, the eerie building seemed to be getting a new lease of life.

But now it is empty again. The cult found something in its corridors... and then vanished.

Trapped on the island one dark night, the Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric look into the building's mysteries, its stories of madness and death. Their only chance is to understand what terrible thing has been disturbed here... before it consumes them utterly.

Guest cast: Jerome Khan (Joseph Radcliffe), Robert DeValley (Andrew Macklin), Aoife Dineen (Sinead Keenan), Donal Dineen (Teddy Kempner), Imogen Frazer (Allison McKenzie)
The Fifth Doctor Box Set is out in August.

The five discs include an hour-long documentary with interviews with the cast, in which Waterhouse talks about why he decided to return to Doctor Who.

FILTER: - Classic Series - Peter Davison - Big Finish