Archives For Doctor Who

Earlier this year, I entered Big Finish’s Paul Spragg Memorial competition, The lucky winner got to have their Doctor Who Short Story published. Whilst I didn’t make the shortlist, I did receive some fantastic feedback that has encouraged me to finish it. I’ll be chipping away at it over the next few months, in between my other projects.

The writing sample I provided acted is my first scene, so it only seems right that we start there. 

Doctor Who: Them What Lives Here Knows

The snowstorm the night before had covered everything in a thick layer of white. The news said no one was expecting it. Particularly not in June. No one else dared come out to play despite there being no school, but I had used my parents’ latest fight as cover to escape into this surprise winter even if for only a few hours.

That’s when I’d found the man sat cross-legged on top of the wooden playhouse built in the centre of the playground; a much-coveted item amongst the girls and boys of my village. Some saw it as a castle to be protected from hordes of unnameables, whilst others would use it as a club house for meetings about what stickers were available for swapsies and who was willing to offer them up.

‘What are you doing up there?’ I asked the man.

He didn’t appear to hear me. He just took a deep breath and exhaled. Still cross-legged, he brought his arms together at the elbow, with his palms touching as if in prayer. You could have said he seemed quite stern. In his black leather jacket, dirty jeans, and shaven head, he looked like what my mum would have called, ‘one of them rum types.’

‘Excuse me,’ I said a little louder. ‘What are you doing?’

He opened one eye, which did as good a job as two as it stared through me.

‘It’s Venusian body manipulation,’ He replied in a broad northern accent. ‘I’m focussing my energies on what’s happening inside me, so I am prepared for eventualities outside of me. The stretches I’m performing are movements borne from eons of spiritualism, atheism and, in some cases, gods themselves.’

‘My mummy has a Geri Halliwell video where she does the same pose,’ I replied.

Both eyes were open now, ‘Of course she does.’

‘Why are you sat on the roof?’

‘Because there’s no chairs inside.’

I giggled, ‘You can’t sit on a roof.’

‘I’m doing a pretty good in spite of your protests, don’t you reckon?’

I brought my hand up to my face to stifle another giggle. Grandma said you should never laugh in someone’s face if you weren’t sure they weren’t telling a joke. As if trying to tempt more laughs out of me, the man began to wriggle his big ears.

‘Is that part of your body manipulatation?’

‘Maybe,’ He replied. ‘Maybe not.’

He stuck out his tongue and I let out a full belly laugh. It wasn’t even lunchtime and I was already having the best day. First the unexcepted snowstorm, school closing and now my own personal clown.

‘Bit funny all this snow, isn’t it?’ the man said. ‘For July I mean.’

‘I guess.’ I shrugged. ‘Mummy said it’s because of Ceefax gases.’




The man uncrossed his legs and jumped off the Wendy house with an elegance that betrayed his bulky demeanour.

‘What’s your name?’ He said, holding out a rough looking hand.

‘I’m Sarah.’ I smiled, shaking his hand.

‘Hello, Sarah.’ He said. ‘I’m the Doctor. Are you ready to go to war?’

I didn’t know what to say. I was only 6 years old.

The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) lands on an Earth ravaged by environmental disasters. If helping a group of bureaucrats and scientists to hold back the next ice age wasn’t enough for the flute playing mop top, he has to contend with the arrival of the Ice Warriors; a reptilian army from the future who plan to take over the world.

Reconstruction is the name of the game in this latest Doctor Who DVD release. Episodes 2 and 3 of the serial – previously missing – have been animated using the original soundtrack. Whilst the animation is the not the most fluid and it does distract at times, The Ice Warriors narrative is strong enough to persevere. It’s also a step up from the rushed VHS links used back in the 90s, which are also part of the extras package on this DVD.

Commentaries for both of the animated episodes have been compiled from archive audio and statements read out by actors. It’s surprisingly touching to hear those who are no longer with us discussing the making of the show 40 years on.

This review was originally published in FilmInk.

UNIT is providing security for an experimental drilling project designed to penetrate the Earth’s crust. The recently exiled Doctor, played by an impeccably dressed Jon Pertwee, is on hand to advise and hopefully abscond with something to fix his broken TARDIS. Complications in the form of mutants and green goo arise and the Doctor is transported to a parallel Earth where a similar experiment is in the advance stages of blowing up the planet.

Inferno is considered not only to be one of the most popular stories in Doctor Who, but also one of the bleakest. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s rare to have a story where the Doctor is completely out of his depth. As things literally begin to heat up on parallel Earth, Pertwee is superb as he allows the cracks to surface on his usual defiant bravado.

As well as a restored version of the story, the DVD release contains the usual quality commentaries, informative trivia tracks and hit and miss featurettes. Of particular interest is Lost in the Dark Dimension; a candid look at the lengths fans went, including suing the BBC, to get the show back on air after its cancellation in 1989.

This review was originally published in Filmink.

Here’s everything I published in December.

Better Watch Out (2017, Dir: Chris Peckover) – ‘Better Watch Out has a more modern axe to grind in the shape of 2017’s biggest trend, toxic masculinity.’ Read the full review here.

Bunny and the Bull (2009, Dir: Paul King) – ‘Bunny and the Bull is a delightfully quirky, extremely well crafted comedy.’ Read the full review here. 

Demons (2017, Dir: Miles Doleac) – ‘Demons, written, directed and starring Miles Doleac (The Hollow), is not about demons in the fire and brimstone sense. It’s about the personal demons that stalk us daily.’ Read full review here.

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time (2018, Dir: Rachel Talalay) – ‘Surprisingly streamlined and as emotional as you would want it to be, Twice Upon a Time was… brilliant.’ Read full review here.

In This Corner of the World (2017, Dir: Sunao Katabuchi) – ‘Sombre in some moments and bursting with joy in others, In This Corner of the World is a treat for the eyes and heart.’ Read full review here. 

Nightworld (2017, Dir: Patricio Valladares) – ‘By the time the film decides to do something interesting, it’s already too late.’ Read the full review here.

Paddington 2 (2018, Dir: Paul King)  – ‘Paddington 2 is ridiculously heart-warming. It has no right to be this nice, and loving, and caring, and not come across as naïve.’ Read full review here.

The Survivalist (2015, Dir: Stephen Fingleton) – ‘Equally impressive is the film’s gorgeous backdrop, which, because of its beauty and bold colour, highlights the bleak pantomime playing out before us.’ Read full review here.

Doctor Who Showrunner, Steven Moffat doesn’t do things by halves. If you’ve read anything about the nightmare that was writing the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special, you’ll know the Press Gang writer really likes to fly by the seat of his pants. Soon to be stepping down to make way for new showrunner, Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch), Moffat had originally planned to leave Doctor Who after The Doctor Falls, a regular episode that saw the Doctor ready for regeneration. It was only after hearing that Chibnall didn’t want his first episode to be a Christmas special, that Moffat agreed to oversee one more episode. In doing so, he probably added some undue pressure onto himself.

For not only is Twice Upon a Time his last episode, it’s also the last episode of Peter Capaldi as The Doctor. When Doctors regenerate, the show’s audience demands it be epic. You gotta go out big! Inverting those expectations, Moffat has crafted an episode that manages to be much more personable than other Christmas specials under his watch, and it’s all the better for it.

True to his rebellious nature, the Twelfth Doctor is refusing to regenerate. Holding on with every ounce of strength he has, The Doctor escapes to the South Pole in 1986 where he meets someone extremely familiar. The First Doctor (David Bradley) has just defeated the Cybermen and looks set to regenerate. However, like his future incarnation, he won’t go down without a fight. Realising that if his first incarnation doesn’t regenerate then none of the good things he’s achieved will come to pass, the Twelfth Doctor looks set to go all Wonderful Life and show the First Doctor the true meaning of Christmas. But then there’s the small matter of the World War One Captain, played by Mark Gatiss, who most definitely shouldn’t be roaming the 1980s tundra. Along the way, the trio will meet creatures made of glass, see the return of Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) and witness the Christmas Armistice of 1914. Honestly, it’s not as grandiose as it sounds.

Considering the weight that hangs over Twice Upon a Time, and everything mentioned above, the plot Is actually rather light. It doesn’t matter how many Doctors you throw on the screen, the whole mystery of Gatiss’ Captain being plucked out of time is merely an excuse for Moffat to allow the Doctors to rub each other up the wrong way. Grumpy, but a bit more in tune with 21st century ideals, Capaldi’s Doctor clashes somewhat with the equally grumpy, but old fashioned First.

The First Doctor may look the eldest, but he’s still a youngster learning about the universe. No one is inherently born woke and it takes the 12th doctor all his strength to stop from throttling the First over his problematic comments. All of which plays into the thread that runs through Twice Upon a Time; our past may define us, but we are who we are in the moment. We all still have chances to learn and grow. We will make mistakes, and some of them will be terrible, but we will overcome them and keep pushing forward.

This idea of acceptance plays nicely in Capaldi’s eventual regeneration. Having helped the Captain, and encouraged the First Doctor to get on with his lives, the Twelfth Doctor is afforded an opportunity to come to terms with his own end. ‘Doctor,’ he says tiredly, but content. ‘I let you go.’ If we cast our net further, past Moffatt’s tenure, this contrasts nicely with Russell T Davies’ send off for David Tennant, which sadly saw the Oncoming Storm reduced to a whining ‘I don’t want to go.’ It was a line that never sat well with me, and I can’t help thinking that it didn’t with Moffatt either.

Whilst Capaldi’s performance was excellent, time must be taken to give Bradly his dues. Having originally played William Hartnell in Gatiss’ Adventure in Space and Time, the actor was more than ready to cross the line and go full Doctor. It’s not the first time the First Doctor has been recast, but it was certainly the best. The Five Doctors saw Richard Hurndall take over the reins from Hartnell and, to be honest, it never felt more than a pencil sketch of the character. In Bradley’s hands, the First Doctor felt real, like he’d never really been away. The Doctor who once threatened to beat a caveman to death, was just as problematic when faced with ‘modern’ society and he was wonderful. Equally, Mackie appeared to be having just as much fun as Capaldi, clashing with Bradley’s pomposity. I’m not saying I want a series of adventures where the Frist Doctor and Bill travel together, but I am.

Surprisingly streamlined and as emotional as you would want it to be, Twice Upon a Time was – to quote the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) who made a cheeky appearance – brilliant. Moffat certainly had issues during his time as showrunner, his overly complicated sixth season will never be one of the classics, but it amazing to watch how the show has evolved. It’s going to be fascinating to see where Chibnall goes from here.