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July 16th, 2017
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
the-13th-doctor-who-is-in-the-running

After weeks and months of fevered speculation, it’s hard to believe that we’re now just hours away from finding out the identity of the Thirteenth Doctor.

Now that Peter Capaldi has filmed his final scenes for this year’s Christmas Special, the new Chris Chibnall era is about to mark its first milestone with the announcement of its honourable hero. And as first milestones go, this is a pretty big one. It’s the most closely guarded secret in TV, but who is about to take over the mantle of TV’s favourite Time Lord? Here’s our list of the most popular candidates…

Kris Marshall

Well, we might as well start with the most obvious. You’d have to have been living under a rock to not know that Kris Marshall has been front-running the race since betting was suspended on him back in March. All he did was quit his leading role in Death in Paradise – which he starred in for three series – at the same time that Peter Capaldi announced his departure (coincidence?), and all of a sudden it was common knowledge – albeit the type that isn’t based on any actual facts – that the My Family star was taking over the TARDIS. He denied it, of course, but actors lying about their involvement in Doctor Who is basically rule one.

Tom Weston-Jones

Speculation about who will take on the guise of the Thirteenth Doctor has been rife since Peter revealed that he was stepping down, but the rumours have actually been flying a lot longer than that.

Back in January 2016, Tom Weston-Jones emerged as a very early favourite to take over the show’s reigns from its incumbent incarnation, who was at that point yet to even confirm his exit. Why waste time, eh?

Not much has been heard from the Dickensian actor since, but we’re still keeping an eye on him…

Idris Elba

Because let’s face it, which role isn’t Idris Elba in the running for? His name is guaranteed to pop up whenever a new Doctor is waiting in the wings (or whenever there’s a vacancy in any other show/film ever), so it’s no surprise to see him back on the board this time round. He has secured the support of Series 9 guest star Maisie Williams, who reckons the Luther star would bring a “really cool” vibe to the temperament of TV’s favourite Time Lord. He might just have bigger fish to fry, though, if these ever persistent Bond rumours amount to anything. Franchises, eh? You can’t front ‘em all.

Tilda Swinton

While the call for a female Doctor is by no means a new notion, the campaign certainly seems to have intensified for Number 13. It’s an unlucky number for some but it definitely wouldn’t be for Tilda Swinton (erm, that’s the Academy Award winning Tilda Swinton to you), who has been feverishly flying the flag to become the first ever female Doctor – whether she wants to be or not. She’s got Ingrid Oliver’s blessing, and Billie Piper has also gone on record to state that casting anybody but a female would “be a snub”. Wow, Billie. Tell us what you really think, why don’t you? Jokes. She’s Rose Tyler and she can say whatever she bloody wants, you hear me?!

Damien Molony

No stranger to the reputable realms of cult TV fantasy, Damien Molony is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Hal Yorke in the BBC Three series Being Human. The show gave him plenty of things to get his teeth into (ICYMI, he was a vampire), so much so that creator Toby Whithouse thinks he has more than paid his dramatic dues to take on the mighty Time Lord baton, describing him as a “terrific” actor. Toby, who is a frequent Doctor Who writer, has also named Chiwetel Ejiofor as his second choice. But if he returns to pen an adventure for Series 11, will he be writing for his dream Doctor? Time will tell. It usually does.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Having just finished filming the upcoming untitled Han Solo film, due to hit cinemas next May, it looks like Phoebe Waller-Bridge has set her sights on conquering another formidable sci-fi franchise, now that she’s been bitten by the bug. That is, if the recent claim that she’s been cast as the Thirteenth Doctor isn’t just another case of clickbait…

The actress received a flurry of bets to her name back in April and her proposed casting was even picked up on a recent episode of Newsnight which suggested that she had “accidentally outed herself” during an online interview. Oops.

Sacha Dhawan

If you recognise Sacha Dhawan, it’s probably because he contributed to the 50th anniversary festivities back in 2013 when he portrayed Doctor Who’s first ever director, Waris Hussein, in the docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time. Having already left his mark on the Whoniverse, he might just be about to take over the whole show, but he’s just as “honoured” to have even be considered. “It’s quite a lot of pressure,” he said earlier this year. “But I think I’d bring something exciting to it.” It’s better to have been rumoured to be the next Doctor, than to never have been rumoured to be the next Doctor at all. They say that, right?

Jodie Whittaker

Last but by no means least is a relatively late entry to the race, but a serious contender nonetheless.

Like, a seriously serious contender. In fact, Jodie Whittaker is currently the bookies’ joint favourite to take over the role, which puts her neck in neck with Kris Marshall as far as the whimsical world of betting is concerned.

It’s worth pointing out that she’s worked with Chris Chibnall before, too, having starred as the formidable Beth Latimer in his acclaimed crime drama, Broadchurch. But is she about to be entrusted with the keys to the TARDIS?

Should the next Doctor be a female? Join the debate in our dedicated discussion…

July 12th, 2017
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
exclusive-interview-ingrid-oliver

WhovianNet recently caught up with Ingrid Oliver to chat about her upcoming one woman show, Speech!.

The actress will be riding solo at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month as she introduces audiences to her catalogue of politically-charged characters, including a drunk Washington staffer and a patriotic actress accepting her Oscar.

We chatted to Ingrid ahead of the production, as well as about her portrayal of fan favourite Osgood in Doctor Who, and her thoughts on a female Doctor…

Q. Hi, Ingrid! In a nutshell (and without giving too much away), what can you tell us about Speech!, and where did inspiration behind it come from?
A. Speech! is a series of characters that explore different sides of the political spectrum. Some characters are political with a big P and some with a small P so there’s something for everyone. I’m fascinated by the divisiveness of the current political climate and I’ve always been interested in exploring all sides of an argument, so that’s how the show came about. It allows me to say some quite outrageous things because I’m using a character’s voice to say them.

Q. Speaking of the current political climate, did you write it with a particular target audience in mind?
A. I haven’t written this show with an audience in mind. I’m just exploring the things that are interesting to me. Hopefully they will also be interesting to my audience. I think if anyone has been as fascinated by recent events as I have, they would be interested in some of the things I bring up in my show.

Q. What are the most exciting and/or scariest aspects of performing in a solo show, especially one that is made up of your own material?
A. What if I forget my lines? What if I get ill? What if they hate me and they’re stuck with me for an hour?! These are all the thoughts that have been running through my head for the last month. But similarly, if it goes well, I get all the glory. Me. It’s mine. All mine.

Q. When did you first realise that you had a knack for comedy?
A. It took a while. I went to school with a lot of funny girls. I was friends with Lorna Watson (my double act partner) and Katherine Parkinson who were both in my year, but I never felt as funny as them. When I left school, I realised that I had been the third funniest person in a group of girls who were disproportionately funny. Which is still quite funny. Actually, scrap that. Rebecca Currie was the funniest girl in our year and she didn’t even go into comedy, which is a travesty. So after her, I was the fourth funniest. And probably not even that, to be honest.

Q. Of all of the characters that feature in the show, do you have a favourite to play?
A. There’s a particularly hateful LBC Radio DJ that is a lot of fun to do because I get to say the most horrific things. It’s always fun playing a villain. Just ask Michelle Gomez.

Q. Speaking of strong female characters, Doctor Who fans will, of course, recognise you as Osgood. How did your role in the series come about?
A. I simply auditioned for it. I stole my boyfriend’s thick, black glasses for the casting because I felt that they were what Osgood would wear, pretending I needed them to read. When I got the phone call saying I’d got the part, they asked if I could bring the glasses. I’m still not sure to this day if it’s my acting that got the part, or my boyfriend’s Ray-Bans…

Q. What was it like to make your debut in such an iconic episode as the 50th anniversary special, and did you know that you’d be back?
A. The 50th anniversary was one of the most incredible things to be a part of. I have so many separate and distinct memories from it. Filming in Trafalgar Square, filming at the Tower of London, wearing the Tom Baker scarf, acting with Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt AT THE SAME TIME. One of my favourite off-set memories is sitting next to John Hurt at dinner and him berating me on my choice of wine. “Oh my dear, you must NEVER touch a Sauvignon. Ghastly stuff.” And no, I had no idea at the time I’d be back.

Q. Osgood has had some great comedy moments but have you enjoyed exploring other aspects of her character, especially in the Series 9 Zygon two-parter?
A. It was lovely to explore Osgood more fully in the Zygon Invasion/Inversion. I was so grateful to be brought back and be allowed to do that. Also, getting the chance to do one on one scenes with Peter was wonderful. He really makes you up your game because he’s just an incredible actor. I learnt a lot from him. It’s funny, because I know Peter Harness who wrote the episodes, and I joked with him about putting in a huge dramatic monologue for me as well as a make-over scene. He didn’t do either. Sadly.

Q. You’ve most recently reprised your role as Osgood for Big Finish audios, but would you like to return on screen?
A. Is the TARDIS bigger on the inside? Yes. Of course I would.

Q. Do you think it’s time for a female Doctor and if so, who would be your top pick?
A. I would love to see a female Doctor. I’d go for someone like Helena Bonham Carter or Tilda Swinton. Or Jennifer Saunders. I’d bloody love that. I think the world is ready.

Ingrid Oliver performs her one woman show, Speech! at Pleasance: That from 2nd-27th August at 4.30pm. For tickets call 0131 556 6550 or visit www.pleasance.co.uk.

May 20th, 2017
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
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Series 10 continues this week as the Twelfth Doctor’s final string of adventures reach their dramatic halfway point in the aptly-titled Extremis. It’s all guns blazing for our heroes as they unravel a brand new conundrum in the first instalment of what already looks set to be a thrilling three-part adventure, as well as a defining chapter of the closing Moffat/Capaldi era.

And a Moffat script it most definitely is. As with most – if not all – of his episodes, you wouldn’t even have to see his name on the opening credits to know that this was the outgoing showrunner embracing the extremities (see what we did there?) of his ever expansive element. The pre-titles sequence alone, which, as all good pre-titles sequences do, takes place “a long time ago…”, has his unique style and tone written all over it, and you’ll understand what we mean by that when you see it. As is now wholly expected after his eight years at the show’s helm, what comes next is a far-reaching foray of madcap Moffat mayhem interwoven into the realms of sheer, science fiction fantasy. The story takes us from present day Earth to the Vatican to the Pentagon and back again but, inevitably, not everything is as it seems. By which we mean, absolutely nothing is as it seems. Steven sure likes to keep us on our toes, doesn’t he?

At this point, though, we wouldn’t have – nay, want – it any other way. The end of Steven’s tenure might be nigh but his latest script is as fresh as it is familiar, however we couldn’t help but pick up on a distinct “Sherlock-y” vibe, particularly in certain aspects of the Doctor’s dialogue and characterisation, lurking in the shadows as the lines between the Moff’s two formidable franchises become arguably and increasingly blurred. Saying that, it still feels like a quintessentially Doctor Who adventure, and a bloody good one at that. There are twists, turns, mid-directions, scares (the Monks are truly terrifying), shocks and everything else in between, with the majority of the action taking place within the confines of a seemingly forbidden library (not tot be confused with the Library featured in Series 4, however a certain beloved character who was introduced in that iconic two-parter does play an important part in this episode). Harry Potter, eat your heart out…

And that certain boy wizard gets a special mention from Bill, too, who once again brings her personable Potts perspective to add a touch of honourable humanity to the alien mystery that surrounds her. That is, after her date gets rudely interrupted by the leader of the Catholic Church. We’ve all been there, right? Speaking of Bill, Pearl Mackie really gets the chance to shine with Matt Lucas throughout this episode, as her on screen alter ago and Nardole establish themselves as a deliciously dynamic duo in their own right. With the Doctor (literally) tied up with other things, Bill and Nardole carry the story off in their own direction and it’s wonderful to see the companions being entrusted with the responsibility of conducting their own investigations, especially when their chemistry is as endearing as Pearl and Matt’s.

And then there’s Missy. Unless you’ve been living inside a Vault for the last year, you’ll know that the bitch is finally back in this episode, and you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that you won’t have to wait very long at all for her to grace our screens once more. Her inclusion in the story is told in the form of a series of flashbacks running concurrently with the Doctor’s present day dilemma (another classic Moffat motif) and, while the circumstances of her latest comeback don’t allow her to be as over the top and maleficent as her previous appearances, we do get to see a whole new side of the renegade Time Lady which Michelle Gomez delivers with an air of heartbreakingly sinister poignancy. By the end of the episode, the Doctor and Missy’s rocky relationship has taken on a whole new life of its own. With Michelle recently suggesting that she’ll be departing Doctor Who alongside Peter, combined with the imminent return of John Simm as her character’s previous incarnation, we’re now even more intrigued to discover how her arc will develop throughout the remainder of the series in the build up to the grand finale and the Twelfth Doctor’s forthcoming regeneration.

As you can probably gather from all of the above, there is an awful lot to be crammed into this 50 minutes. For all its scale and scope, however, it is essentially setting up the events to come, as well as serving as an enjoyable standalone adventure. Just as you start to get your head around what the hell is even going on, the plot is turned upside down which makes this slow builder an exhilarating ride nonetheless. There is a lot to be said for its ambitious narrative structure, brought to life by Daniel Nettheim’s dramatic direction, which wouldn’t feel out of place as a finale. In fact, if Series 10 had been split into two parts, Extremis would have made for a marvellous mid-series conclusion. Thankfully, though, the show will go on next week. If this episode is anything to go by, the second half of this year’s series will be in a completely different league than the first. And the first has been pretty damn good. If they can maintain the momentum, Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat will definitely be going out on a high. But is there any other way to go, daddio?

Oh, and we finally discover what’s inside the Vault this week, too, so be sure to share any of your last minute theories in our discussion, here. What, you mean you haven’t figured it out yet…?

April 30th, 2017
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
official-bbc-synopsis-for-episode-5-oxygen

The BBC Media Centre has released the official synopsis for Episode 5 of Series 10, Oxygen, which will air on Saturday 13th May.

The episode is written by Jamie Mathieson (Mummy on the Orient Express, Flatline, The Girl Who Died) and helmed by returning director Charles Palmer, whose previous Doctor Who credits include Smith and Jones, The Shakespeare Code, Human Nature and The Family of Blood.

The Doctor, Bill and Nardole answer a distress call in deep space, and find themselves trapped on board space station Chasm Forge. All but four of the crew have been murdered – and the dead are still walking!

In a future where oxygen is sold by the breath, and space suits are valued more highly than their occupants, the TARDIS crew battle for survival against the darkest evil of all…

Get ready to delve beneath the Thin Ice to Rate & Discuss this week’s episode –>

April 13th, 2017
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After weeks, months and nearly a year since her announcement, Pearl Mackie is about to make her official entree into the Doctor Who universe, as the TARDIS prepares to open its doors to a brand new series this Saturday. But what did WhovianNet think of her debut? Basically, it’s like all of our Christmases have come early.

And Christmas really does come early at one point, as The Pilot kicks off with a stylish (kudos to director Lawrence Gough – loving your work!) sequence – set over several months – to document the Doctor’s personal tutoring lessons with his favourite pupil, Bill Potts, at the university where, for reasons that will be explained, he’s serving as a lecturer, while she’s serving… well, chips.

The fleeting festive scene is one of the many initial heartwarming moments between the new partners in crime, and they’ve even bought each other presents, which is sure to melt your Whovian hearts. The Doctor’s thoughtful gift to Bill brings tears to her eyes, and it will probably bring some to yours, too. You have been warned.

Because, in a nutshell, that’s what the Series 10 premiere is all about. Amidst all of the developing danger, it’s a story about the Doctor meeting his new companion, and as such it is ultimately a much more intimate series opener than the ones we’ve come to expect from Steven Moffat. We’re definitely not complaining, though, as it’s one of his strongest, tightest episodes yet. It’s less about scale and spectacle and more about two people getting to know each other, but the stakes are still hella high as Bill finds herself caught up in a confounding campus conundrum. Try saying that three times when you’re drunk!

“Intimate”, though, is the perfect word to describe The Pilot. Even the pre-titles sequence, which Steven usually utilises as ambitious, ‘fly by the seat of your pants’-type prequels, is a simple yet satisfying opening. It all takes place in the Doctor’s office as Bill stumbles across the TARDIS for the first time, and Steven’s scriptwriting skills manage to honour the past (two familiar faces make an appearance), establish the present and look ahead to the future all within the matter of minutes. Or 5 minutes and 4 seconds, to be precise. You’ll absolutely love the first scene, and not only because it will leave you humming along to what we can assume is Bill’s personal theme, courtesy of the master maestro that is Murray Gold. It’s full of whimsy, joy and wonder. Another classic.

As soon as the titles have rolled (they haven’t changed, in case you were wondering, but do they really need to?), the Doctor and Bill’s relationship has already been firmly cemented as one of the most interesting and intriguing Doctor/companion dynamics in the show’s history. That is in no way a mean feat, and a credit to the outgoing showrunner, as Bill already feels like she’s been around forever, in the best possible way.

The episode itself has been described as the perfect starting point for new viewers and it goes without saying that this is largely due to the fact that the story is told from Bill’s perspective. The majority of the adventure takes place on campus (with a quick jaunt to the other end of the universe, 23 million years in the future, thrown in for good measure, naturally), and Pearl Mackie is really given the chance to shine as we join her in discovering the Doctor’s world in all its weird and wonderful glory. The moment she sees the interior of the TARDIS is particularly memorable, and it’s her brilliantly executed one liners and quirky questions which make her stand out from her predecessors. She really is something new, which is exactly what the Doctor ordered. He’s really going to have to up his game.

The most important factor to take away from this episode is that it makes us care. As she joins the Doctor and Nardole to see the universe anew in the final moments, we care about our new friend Bill Potts. When the TARDIS doors close behind her, we just wish we were going along with her. We will be, of course, as there are still 11 episodes to come, but the abrupt ending makes for a poignant closing scene to what we’d describe as the best companion introduction of the modern series.

Let’s not forget the big bad. Without giving too much away (but trust us when we say that you’ll never quite look at puddles in the same way…), the underlying threat fuels the development of Bill’s character, as we’re left with the sense that the story of/her connection with Heather – the girl with the star in her eye – is only just beginning. The Daleks make a blink and you’ll miss it cameo appearance too, with the Doctor’s oldest adversaries once again being exploited in an original, albeit ultimately underwhelming, fashion. It ties up the Friends from the Future scene, though, so it’s nice to get that out of the way so soon. Onwards!

And “onwards” can’t come soon enough. Series 10 is already shaping to be one of the best ones yet, and if The Pilot is anything to go by, we really are in for one hell of a treat. Peter Capaldi expectedly kicks off his final series as a force to be reckoned with, and with Pearl in tow, the new chemistry on the TARDIS is sizzling. Matt Lucas deserves a special mention for his reprisal as Nardole, who it somewhat tragically underused in this episode, though there’s already enough going on to keep the story flowing, so we’ll let that one slide. There’ll be plenty more where he came from over the coming weeks.

In a nutshell, The Pilot is the perfect introduction. It’s sort of one of those episodes that you’d watch on a rainy day, but bearing in mind what’s to come, we’ll probably look back and appreciate that they eased us into it gently. With the Doctor, Bill and Nardole, the prospect of travelling through time and space just got very exciting. A time for heroes it is indeed. And do you know what? It’s about bloody time.

October 1st, 2016
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
october-is-here-are-you-ready-for-class

October is here which means that the brand new Doctor Who spin off, Class, will finally be hitting our screens this month!

The long-awaited series will premiere online on BBC Three on Saturday 22nd October 2016 with its first two episodes, For Tonight We Might Die and The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo. If that wasn’t exciting enough, Peter Capaldi himself will be appearing in the premiere episode as the Twelfth Doctor, marking the first time he’ll have appeared on our screens since last Christmas, owing to Doctor Who’s seemingly never-ending gap year. Not too shabby, eh?

Created and written by award-winning Young Adult fiction author Patrick Ness, Class stars Greg Austin, Sophie Hopkins, Fady Essayed and Vivian Oparah as sixth formers Charlie, April, Ram and Tanya, who kick off their brand new term at Coal Hill School with a bang when they come under attack by an unearthly force. But this is only just the beginning…

Above – Vivian Oparah, Greg Austin, Katherine Kelly, Sophie Hopkins and Fady Essayed.

To raise awareness and anticipation, the cast recently took part in a live stream Q&A which you can watch in its entirety here, and don’t forget to follow the show’s new social media channels on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to be kept up to date with the very latest developments, previews and teasers. We cannot bloody wait! Now all we need is a trailer…

Get to Class! Read all the latest developments about Doctor Who’s new spin off…

May 16th, 2015
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
moffat-staying-the-whoniverse-reacts

Doctor Who fans have been reacting to the news that Steven Moffat will be sticking around for Series 10.

The development surfaced last night when it was revealed that the showrunner has signed up to helm next year’s series which will be his sixth in role as the franchise’s executive producer and head writer.

As expected, the announcement was met with a flurry of fevered responses as our Twitter followers actively took to their keyboards to air their views.

@DoctorWhotch got in touch to say that the show is in “safe hands” for the foreseeable and @Jenkins100Rose is also “glad he’s staying”. It’s “time for new blood”, though, according to @hgdhgdedj, and @RJCLeck worries “the show in the wrong direction”.

Not everyone is so adamant, however. @beatnikpoet21 has “mixed feelings” about the situation and @jamiealexkerr is also torn, saying: “Interesting stories/plots, but the plotholes are so major”. At the time of writing, our poll – which you can vote in here – is 71% AGAINST Steven’s continuation. So, it’s the inevitable mixed bag and you can let us know your own responses by commenting here/below, or send us a tweet @WhovianNet.

April 15th, 2015
latest-12th-doctor-novels-announced

Three new Doctor Who novels featuring the Twelfth Doctor and Clara Oswald will be released in the autumn.

To coincide with the premiere of Series 9, fans will be able to get their hands on a trilogy of original adventures including Big Bang Generation by Gary Russell, Deep Time by Trevor Baxendale and Royal Blood by Una McCormack.

They’re expected to be published on 10th September 2015, priced at £6.99 each, and their respective covers are to be finalised. Read their official synopses below.

The new novels will also be available as audiobooks with their readers still to be confirmed.

Big Bang Generation by Gary Russell

“I’m an archaeologist, but probably not the one you were expecting.”

Christmas 2015, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Imagine everyone’s surprise when a time portal opens up in Sydney Cove. Imagine their shock as a massive pyramid now sits beside the Harbour Bridge, inconveniently blocking Port Jackson and glowing with energy. Imagine their fear as Cyrrus “the mobster” Globb, Professor Horace Jaanson and an alien assassin called Kik arrive to claim the glowing pyramid. Finally imagine everyone’s dismay when they are followed by a bunch of con artists out to spring their greatest grift yet.

This gang consists of Legs (the sexy comedian), Dog Boy (providing protection and firepower), Shortie (handling logistics), Da Trowel (in charge of excavation and history) and their leader, Doc (busy making sure the universe isn’t destroyed in an explosion that makes the Big Bang look like a damp squib).

And when someone accidentally reawakens The Ancients of Time – which, Doc reckons, wasn’t the wisest or best-judged of actions – things get a whole lot more complicated…

Deep Time by Trevor Baxendale

“I do hope you’re all ready to be terrified!”

The Phaeron disappeared from the universe over a million years ago. They travelled among the stars using roads made from time and space, but left only relics behind. But what actually happened to the Phaeron? Some believe they were they eradicated by a superior force… Others claim they destroyed themselves.

Or were they in fact the victims of an even more hideous fate?

In the far future, humans discover the location of the last Phaeron road – and The Doctor and Clara join the mission to see where the road leads. Each member of the research team knows exactly what they’re looking for —but only The Doctor knows exactly what they’ll find.

Because only The Doctor knows the true secret of the Phaeron: a monstrous secret so terrible and powerful that it must be buried in the deepest grave imaginable…

Royal Blood by Una McCormack

“The Grail is a story, a myth! It didn’t exist on your world! It can’t exist here!”

The city-state of Varuz is failing. Duke Aurelian is the last of his line, his capital is crumbling, and the armies of his enemy, Duke Conrad, are poised beyond the mountains to invade. Aurelian is preparing to gamble everything on one last battle. So when a holy man, the Doctor, comes to Varuz from beyond the mountains, Aurelian asks for his blessing in the war.

But all is not what it seems in Varuz. The city-guard have lasers for swords, and the halls are lit by electric candlelight. Aurelian’s beloved wife, Guena, and his most trusted knight, Bernhardt, seem to be plotting to overthrow their Duke, and Clara finds herself drawn into their intrigue…

Will the Doctor stop Aurelian from going to war? Will Clara’s involvement in the plot against the Duke be discovered? Why is Conrad’s ambassador so nervous? And who are the ancient and weary knights who arrive in Varuz claiming to be on a quest for the Holy Grail…?

Browse the latest Doctor Who products on sale now in our merchandise section…

September 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
rtd-vs-steven-moffat-a-tale-of-two-writers

Every Whovian has favourites; a favourite Doctor, a favourite companion, even a favourite sonic screwdriver. After all, a show spanning 51 years with 12 different leading men is bound to create different eras and categorise viewers, just take the classic ‘Who’s your Doctor?’ debate for instance. But, perhaps more important than the Doctor or companion is the show runner – the writer who moulds and shapes the characters we love and oversees the many adventures of the Doctor. And they’re no longer merely a name at the start and end of each episode, but instead they are at the forefront of all things ‘Who’. With this in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising that one of the most persistent and divisive debates amongst fans concerns Russell T. Davies (2005-2010) and Steven Moffat (2010-present) in a ‘Who wrote it better?’ argument.

Trying to compare Russell T. Davies (hereafter RTD) with Steven Moffat is like trying to compare a Dalek with a Cyberman; both are timeless in the history of Doctor Who, both fulfil their purpose excellently but, pit them against each other, and eventually one will come out victorious. I feel the comparison between both writers must be handled on two different levels; they must be judged both on their individual writing ability and on their ability to manage and oversee a series of Doctor Who successfully.

So, how do you decide who you prefer? We’ll look at the latter point first. Fulfilling the role of Head Writer is entirely different to writing the occasional story; it comes with the pressure of managing other writers, making a series of episodes fit together cohesively and, ultimately, deciding the direction that the show will take under your reign, to name but a few of the responsibilities. It’s whilst considering how well both writers fulfil this role that my favourite became evident to me, and I realised Doctor Who show runners don’t come any better than RTD. I’m completely in love with the show under both writers and it would have been a lot harder to choose between the two had it not been for series 7, which sadly had me temporarily wishing for RTD’s return. Of course this is all down to personal taste but for me, this series was lacking in good quality, enriched scripts and character development, which all resulted in a rather underwhelming entrance for new companion Clara Oswald. Moffat’s episodes were, as usual, outstanding but a series needs more than just a good opener and finale, it needs good substance running through it, something that series 5 and 6 had in abundance which makes it all the more puzzling as to why Moffat didn’t sustain this throughout this series.

Something that was always existent in the RTD era was a clear plot line that was relatively easy to follow. I don’t want Doctor Who to be ‘dumbed down’, of course I want it to maintain an element of mystery, but an approach that Moffat seems to have developed recently is leaving gaps in stories which creates an element of confusion. For example, we’re increasingly thrown into already established relationships and expected to imagine the history that the Doctor may share with these characters as opposed to actually learning about it, such as Queen Nefertiti and John Riddell (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship) and Tasha Lem (The Time of the Doctor). As an audience, we feel unsure about what to make of them, which, for me, ultimately results in their insignificance. How can we as an audience invest in a character that we hardly know? I’m struggling to think of any characters in the RTD era that felt unfamiliar to me as that was something he was so unbelievably skilled at, making us invest in the simplest of characters because we felt as if we knew them, a philosophy that he appeared to have imposed on his ‘underwriters’. However, one thing that really worries me about Moffat’s leadership is his seemingly slipping standards regarding what constitutes a good script, judging by the stories he approved for filming (again, I’m talking specifically about series 7). Dinosaurs on a Spaceship seemed to rely solely on the exciting title and advanced CGI to impress viewers as the story was virtually non-existent, whereas Nightmare in Silver had scary Cybermen but failed to back them up, making use of cliché, stereotypical teenage lines such as ‘put me down I hate you’ (Angie) which was entirely ineffective and unrealistic.

I also feel the fundamental features of the Doctor’s character were slightly lost during this series which is something that should never happen. For instance, there’s the killing of Solomon in cold blood and the friendship between the Doctor and famous hunter John Riddell in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship which both seem completely out of character. That, paired with the Doctor’s unsympathetic response to the murder of Mr. Sweet and his disrespectful reaction to the victims of The Crimson Horror, creates an element of inconsistency in the character who has always shown such mercy, even to the worst of enemies. I find it hard to believe that the man who offered Davros mercy in Journey’s End would go against all his morals to get back at someone as relatively insignificant as Solomon. Of course, I’m all for the character of the Doctor developing and changing but the circumstances in which he went against his morals didn’t seem convincing enough. Although these episodes were not written by Moffat, the responsibility still lies with him. I might be wrong, but I wish Doctor Who was Steven Moffat’s sole priority and that he didn’t have commitments to another big BBC show so that he could perhaps dedicate a bit more time to re-drafting those poorer episodes.

On their individual writing ability, however, I would say the two are virtually inseparable. Both have the power to create alien worlds but do so with the element of humanity that Doctor Who is so famous for. In fact, Moffat may even have the edge here with his knack for creating terrifying monsters and complex plotlines that RTD simply doesn’t share (e.g. Melody Pond – WHO SAW THAT COMING?!). As writers, neither can be faulted; to name but a few, RTD’s triumphs include The Parting of the Ways, Doomsday, Midnight and the epic End of Time, whilst Steven’s credits include the infamous Blink, Asylum of the Daleks and the gas mask thriller The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. Both Russell and Steven just ‘get it’- the effortless interweaving of sci-fi with the romanticism and domesticity of humanity is what sets our show apart from every other of its kind and they seem to capture this wholly and completely. For example, alongside the terrifying insanity of the Daleks in the Asylum runs the heart-breaking truth about Amy and Rory’s relationship and her inability to have the children that they both so desperately want. Similarly, RTD’s Love and Monsters sees the Abzorbaloff as merely a backdrop to the blossoming love story between Elton and Ursula. As writers, they can make any situation feel familiar with common themes and emotions, from creating timeless monsters such as the Weeping Angels and The Flood, to unforgettable characters such as Rose Tyler and ‘the Ponds’.

I know it may be hard to believe after reading this, but I do in fact love Steven Moffat as a writer and it’s a love that’s increasing with every new episode of series 8. The good thing about being a Whovian is having different opinions and expressing those opinions with the common goal of wanting Doctor Who to be the best it can be. My favourite show runner is Russell. T. Davies, yes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the show under any other writer. Every Whovian has a favourite and there can be only one – RTD is mine, who is yours?

July 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

Attempting to choose a favorite Doctor Who episode can easily be compared to asking a mother to choose a favorite child. Each episode carries with it special and unique qualities making every episode lovable and memorable in its own way. Because many of the episodes are parts of a larger, overarching storyline, it becomes more difficult for even the devout Whovian to pick one episode over another. I must admit (although I do adore my beloved third Doctor) some of my personal favorite episodes come from the more recent series (since the revival in 2005). Two of these favorites aired during the Tenth Doctor’s reign; “Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End” (originally airing June 28, 2008 and July 5, 2008) together were part of one larger story and remain two of my personal favorites throughout the history of the Doctor.

“Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End” were the culmination of all that we had seen since the show was brought back to life. One of the reasons I thoroughly enjoyed this two-part story was its inclusion of all the Doctor’s companions and acquaintances since the revival (Rose Tyler and her mother Jackie Tyler, Martha Jones, Donna Noble and her mother Sylvia and grandfather Wilfred, Mickey Smith, Torchwood’s Captain Jack Harkness and employees Ianto and Gwen, and the lovely Sarah Jane Smith). Davros and the Daleks latest plan of destruction with their “reality bomb” had cracked and opened doorways to other dimensions allowing, Rose, Jackie, and Mickey to come through and reenter the universe they had once called home. In “Stolen Earth,” the Doctor’s forever enemy and classic Who villain, the Daleks, steal present day Earth and 26 other planets in a scheme to (what else??) destroy everything in every universe—ultimately destroying reality itself. The Daleks remain a classic villainous creation in the world of Doctor Who; a race created by the evil and cunning Davros. It is in “Journey’s End” that Davros attempts to expose the Doctor’s soul as the Doctor stands surrounded by his former companions, prepared to die for their beloved Doctor and planet Earth. “The man who abhors violence takes ordinary people and fashions them into weapons,” Davros eerily states, forcing the Doctor to reflect upon all of those that have died fighting alongside him for peace, freedom, humanity, life.

In “Journey’s End,” Whovians saw all of the Doctor’s recent companions, friends, and acquaintances (as well as the unforgettable Sarah Jane, her son Luke, and, the computerized equivalent of man’s best friend, K-9) coming together to risk their lives and the Earth to save the Doctor and defeat the Daleks. It was quite emotional for me to witness each of these former companions go to bat for their time travelling friend. Loyalty is a common theme I have seen throughout the entirety of the show. I believe the Doctor consistently demonstrates his loyalty to those he cares about (and dare I say loves?), and his loyalty to integrity and remaining true to what he knows in his hearts and head to be right.

At the start of “Journey’s End,” the Doctor begins to regenerate in the TARDIS after being shot by a Dalek while running toward his long lost companion, Rose. Fortunately, after the Doctor has healed his injuries, he stops himself from completing the regeneration process. The Tenth Doctor transfers the remaining energy into his severed hand from the earlier episode “The Christmas Invasion” in which the newly regenerated Tenth Doctor loses his hand battling the Sycorax and regrows the hand. The Tenth Doctor remains as he is and does not morph into a new person.

Now, who exactly is Donna Noble? A chatterbox temp from Cheswick with a boring, dull life? Or has she always been meant for something more, something absolutely fantastic? In this episode, Whovians finally understand just how bloody fantastic Donna Noble truly is. As Donna is about to exit the TARDIS into the Daleks’ ship with the others, she hesitates, looking back to the Doctor’s jarred hand as if it is calling to her. Suddenly, she finds herself locked inside, bound to be burned with the TARDIS because she cannot escape, and the Doctor cannot save her.

Donna, frightened and unsure of her fate, falls to her knees, next to the jar containing the Doctor’s floating (and newly energized) hand. Donna touches the jar, activating the remaining regeneration energy contained within the hand, causing an “instantaneous biological meta-crisis,” or in other words, forming another identical Doctor. Only this Doctor formed through a regeneration sparked by Donna, is a human Doctor—same knowledge, intelligence, and memories of the original Doctor, but this Doctor has but one heart and will not live on for hundreds of years as do Time Lords. Now, the incredibly FANTASTIC part of this experience neither Donna nor the human Doctor realize until later in the episode. Donna’s touch caused a TWO-WAY instantaneous biological meta-crisis. Donna was no longer a simple girl living a simple life as a temp in Cheswick; she was Doctor Donna with all the knowledge and wisdom of a Time Lord. Two Doctors and a Doctor Donna?? How could this NOT be a favorite of mine!!

Another favorite aspect of this episode: Rose and the human Doctor live happily ever after in the parallel universe. The human Doctor, identical to the original, will grow old together with Rose: “I’ve only got one life to live, Rose Tyler. I could spend it with you if you’d like.” Rose throws her arms around the human Doc, and they engage in some serious lip lockage. What happens to Donna Noble? Sadly, she cannot remain Doctor Donna, and the Doctor is forced to clear her memory, erasing all of their time together from her mind. She must never remember the Doctor; Donna will never know the fantastic and magnificent truth of her journey with the Doctor.

“Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End” will always remain among my favorite Who episodes. Together, they symbolize an end of an era, and open the doors for a new beginning.

Editorial written by Jessica Miklosovic

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