DWA offers free digital taster of magazine

A free taster of the fortnightly magazine Doctor Who Adventures has been made available online.

The sample comprises 11 pages including highlights from the latest edition - issue 344, which is out today - followed by an invitation to try the current and next editions of the magazine free. The taster - which can be accessed by clicking on this link - also has an exclusive competition to win a PS4 plus the Series 7 DVD box set.

Inside the print edition of issue 344, readers will find:
  • Free Weeping Angel grabbers
  • A game to play with the grabbers
  • Fun with the Alien Babies
  • Pictures from filming the new series
  • Strax's guide to The Silence
  • How to make a Cybermat
  • Prizes to be won
  • A look behind the scenes on The Rings of Akhaten
  • A comic strip featuring an unseen adventure with the Eleventh Doctor and Clara
  • Three posters plus puzzles
Issue 344 of DWA is available until Tuesday 6th May.

The 50 Year Diary – Day 478 – Horror of Fang Rock, Episode Four

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 478: Horror of Fang Rock, Episode Four

Dear diary,

There’s something really quite unsettling about just how carefree the Doctor and Leela appear as they make their way back to the TARDIS here. Considering that they’ve just finished an adventure in which everyone else in the story dies. That’s not me being over dramatic, either, everyone dies. All the guest cast. The alien. Even other members of the alien’s race - who only turn up in the last half of this final episode - all get slaughtered. It’s a very bloodthirsty story… and it really works all the better for it. In many ways, this is a hugely brave choice for an opening serial: not just because it’s a fairly downbeat way of introducing the new run, but because we’re supposed to be at the dawn of a new era for Doctor Who, with a new producer who has been specifically asked to tone down the violence. Oh.

All of this is just my way of darting around simply saying again how much I’ve enjoyed this story. It’s not perfect, though I’d struggle to pick out any specific things that I’ve failed to enjoy, and I dare say that one of the biggest strengths and the biggest weaknesses of the tale is just how much it feels like something from the last season. It’s everything that Season Fourteen did well, being done very well, but I’ve come to expect that from the programme now. I want to see something new, and watch the TARDIS start to venture out and tread new ground in the universe.

Mostly, I think I’m just pleased to see that my opinion on the story as a whole has changed since the last time I watched it. That’s one of the funny things that I find with Doctor Who (and I’m hoping other people get this too, and it’s not just be being a little odd!) - there’s so much of it, I sort of lose track sometimes about which ones I like and which ones I don’t. Just recently, I was talking to a friend about one of the Hartnell stories and telling them how I had a strange urge to watch it again because I’d enjoyed it so much the first time around. He then proceeded to point out that - actually - I’d rated that one fairly low, and hadn’t found all that much to love in there.

It’s one of the best things about Doctor Who, too. I genuinely think that I could pop in An Unearthly Child the day after I finish this marathon and do it all again: one episode a day, every singe day, writing down my thoughts and scoring out of ten every time… and you’d end up with different ratings to what I’ve given it in this run though. Part of that will be because I know what to expect, so maybe I’ll be rating fairly (or, conversely, I could be rating harsher!), but some will simply be down to the way I feel on the day and seeing the story with a different frame of mind.

I think that may be why Doctor Who never seems to get old for me. 

Review: The Companion Chronicles – [8.10] The War To End All Wars – CD

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Simon Guerrier

RRP: £8.99 (CD) / £7.99 (Download)

Release Date: April 2014

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 23rd April 2014

Years after he gave up travelling in the TARDIS, Steven Taylor is the deposed king of a distant world.

From the confines of his cell, he shares his story with a young girl called Sida.

And one story in particular – a visit to a whole world at war, which will mark Steven for life…

* * *
Steven Taylor’s life after leaving The Doctor in The Savages has been explored very little in Doctor Who spin-off media. In this newest release of The Companion Chronicles, we not only get to see what has become of Steven but how a certain adventure in his past helped him to get there.

The War To End All Wars is an interesting story of a damaged society trapped in constant battle and though the twist of what is actually happening is not exactly original it is how it relates to the framing story of the older Steven that gives it more power. 

Things haven’t gone too well for Steven. Now a deposed ruler, he sits in his prison cell with his books pondering over the society that he stayed behind to help many years ago.

This older Steven is much wiser than his younger counterpart and his reflections on power and the use and abuse on it really do make up the heart of this story. 

Simon Guerrier’s script is very good and is given vivid life by the brilliance of Peter Purves. The Companion Chronicles have been a excellent showcase for this very talented actor who has over the course of many stories breathed new life into a character he first played in 1965. The Doctor appears very little in this release so it allows us to see more of Steven when not guided by him.

The main story despite some predictable elements is a cracking little yarn but I found myself being attracted much more to the framing narrative between Steven and his young companion Sida played very well by Alice Haig. As Steven tells us about what happened to him on Comfort, we get little hints from Sida that things are much worse in Steven’s present than they ever were in his past.

There is a new story just beginning as this one closes and knowing that The Companion Chronicles are soon to be at an end this is rather sad. I would certainly like to see where the threads started here would lead to as I am very much interested in hearing about the future of Steven Taylor.

AUDIO REVIEW: The War To End All Wars

The Companion Chronicles:
The War To End All Wars
By Simon Guerrier

Starring Peter Purves

Out Now

Presenting a sequel of sorts to the 1966 First Doctor adventure The Savages, the latest Big Finish "Companion Chronicle" opens with an older and wiser Steven Taylor. The bold experiment, appointing him as leader of the Elders and the Savages has not ended well, with The Doctor’s former companion held captive by the society of which he was once king.

At the prompting of his granddaughter Sida (Alice Haig), Steven gradually reveals by reference to an earlier adventure with The Doctor and Dodo, how he ended up in his current predicament. What follows is an intelligent exploration of the absolute folly of war, all set on a planet in a near permanent state of conflict.

The Doctor is arrested as a subversive element early on in Steven’s narrative, leaving Steven and Dodo having to survive on their wits. Their story plays out over a significant period of time, as the two of them gradually become assimilated into the relentless planet-wide war.

This audio adventure doesn’t shy away from the horrors of trench warfare, drawing on elements of the original “War To End All Wars”, the First World War. The writing, and Peter Purves’s narration, are particularly strong here in describing the exhaustion, fear and futility of an attritional war: but all without in any way being exploitative.

This reviewer has a soft spot for this particular combination of the TARDIS team, and it was easy to imagine Steven and Dodo working together (with some bickering), trying to challenge the deeply-ingrained system in place on the planet Comfort. There’s a particularly enjoyable cliffhanger midway through the story, not to be spoilered by me.

Peter Purves belies the passage of time in his performance as the younger Steven, with the narrative structure allowing a more reflective performance as the older, present-day version. His portrayal of The Doctor imparts the perfect mix of mischief and delight in his own cleverness, and Purves even captures Dodo’s occasionally wandering accent.

Simon Guerrier’s story creates a dystopian society, populated by Orwellian politicians spouting platitudes and doublespeak, a challenging environment for The Doctor, Steven and Dodo to battle their way through. A thought-provoking audio experience, and highly recommended.

Thanks to Big Finish

Review: The 4th Doctor Adventures – [3.04] The Evil One – CD

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Nicholas Briggs

RRP: £10.99 (CD) / £8.99 (Download)

Release Date: April 2014

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 23rd April 2014

The TARDIS lands in the cargo hold of luxury space cruiser the Moray Rose. The crew and passengers are missing. The agents of Inter-Galaxy Insurance are determined to find out what’s happened and the shadowy Interplanetary Police Inspector Efendi is showing a very particular interest.

Caught up in all this, the Doctor and Leela find themselves facing a horde of metal mantis-like aliens. But throughout it all, Leela is haunted by terrible nightmares and the dawning realization that everything she knows about her life is a lie.

* * *
The Master, that dastardly arch nemesis of our favourite Time Lord returns in the latest release of Season Three of The Fourth Doctor Adventures

The Evil One is essentially and unashamedly an elaborate revenge tale. Using the companion as his weapon to kill The Doctor is a believable course of action for The Master, and it develops at a rather cracking pace. Supporting characters are introduced and discarded rather quickly, but the focus always remains on the brain washed Leela hunting The Doctor.

A considerable atmosphere of foreboding is introduced very early on as Leela is plagued by strange dreams, false memories and hallucinations. It pays off in a clever little cliff-hanger that pays homage to Leela’s first television story The Face of Evil. Prior knowledge of that story is not necessarily required to listen to The Evil One, but it certainly makes a lot of the references more enjoyable.

The great revelation of this story is the exploration of some of Leela’s past.

The final scene between The Doctor and Leela is beautifully written and played to perfection by the leads. Tom Baker and Louise Jameson really do cement their Doctor/Companion relationship with this scene. The joy of their reunion since the start of The Fourth Doctor Adventures is watching how gradually the writers are opening up the character’s relationship and here Briggs really expands it with wonderful results.

Geoffrey Beevers is a deliciously evil as The Master, refining his very silky interpretation of the character with each of his Big Finish appearances. His Master is very well suited to Baker’s Doctor, just as Delgado was to Pertwee and Ainley to Davison.

The supporting cast is made up of Gareth Armstrong as Arthley and Blake’s 7's very own Michael Keating as Calvert. Arthley is a thinly sketched character whereas Calvert has much more to do and has some excellent scenes with Tom Baker.

The Evil One is a great little story from Nicholas Briggs whose excellent script and tight direction make this a very enjoyable and surprisingly moving story.

DWM publishes official guide to 2013 series

The Official Guide To The 2013 Series of Doctor Who has been published by Doctor Who Magazine. Researched and compiled by Andrew Pixley, it spans 132 pages and is the 37th special edition from the Panini-owned title.

Billed as "the essential guide to Matt Smith's final season as the Doctor", the guide has in-depth articles covering the episodes The Snowmen, The Bells of Saint John, The Rings of Akhaten, Cold War, Hide, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, The Crimson Horror, Nightmare in Silver and The Name of the Doctor and, says DWM, is "packed with previously unpublished photos, day-to-day details of Doctor Who's production and hundreds of fascinating new facts."

It is available from the usual outlets.

The Night of the Doctor, The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor will be covered in the next special, DWM told Doctor Who News.

Two tickets to the BAFTA TV Awards to be won

BAFTA has launched a competition in which somebody can win two tickets to this year's TV Awards by submitting a caption for a photo that includes a Dalek.

As reported earlier this month, An Adventure In Space and Time - the BBC Two drama by Mark Gatiss centring on the genesis of Doctor Who - is in the running for the title of Best Single Drama at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, while the 50th-anniversary special The Day of the Doctor is up for the Radio Times Audience Award, with the winner of the latter to be decided by a public vote. The victors will be revealed on the BAFTA website, its Facebook page and Twitter feed as they are announced, while exclusive footage will be available on BAFTA's YouTube channel, with the ceremony also being shown on BBC One.

The awards are being held at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on Sunday 18th May, and for your chance to win two tickets to the star-studded event, simply submit to BAFTA a witty and inventive caption for the picture below, which shows a Dalek behind food writer and broadcaster Mary Berry at last year's TV awards ceremony, held at the Royal Festival Hall.

Picture: BAFTA/Jonny Birch. Reproduced with the permission of BAFTA.

Entries can be tweeted to BAFTA using the hashtag #BAFTAComp or sent in via its Facebook page or via the comments section on the competition announcement page.

The deadline is midday BST on Tuesday 29th April, and all entrants must be aged 18 or above. The full terms and conditions are available here.

Meanwhile, votes for the Radio Times Audience Award can be cast via the voting page. The deadline is midday BST on Thursday 15th May. A valid e-mail address must be given for the vote to count, and only one vote per person is allowed. Duplicate votes from the same person will not be counted.