Search results for ‘The Man Who Never Was’
July 16th, 2017
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
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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
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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
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Series 10 continues next week as the Doctor, Bill Potts and Nardole journey to The Pyramid at the End of the World.

There are many problems with that, but the one that intrigues the Doctor is this: there wasn’t a pyramid there yesterday.

As our heroes face an alien invasion unlike any other, the Chinese, Russian and American armies are about to clash. But before conquest can begin, the aliens need the consent of the human race…

The Pyramid at the End of the World will air on Saturday 27th May at 7:45pm on BBC One.

Never judge a book by its cover… Click here to rate the latest episode, Extremis »

May 12th, 2017
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Series 10 is rip-roaring along at rocket speed and if you’ve been twiddling your thumbs waiting for the Doctor and Bill to escape the (far from) conventional confines of that planet we call Earth, you really are in for a treat this weekend. They may have been to the edge of the galaxy and survived London’s Great Last Frost Fair of 1814 (as you do!), but this time the tension is notched up to a whole new level when they find themselves fighting to the death in the middle of deep space. It’s just another day in the office then, really.

Apart from the fact that it’s not. While Doctor Who is no stranger to setting a story aboard a doomed space station or five, Oxygen is something very new…  and very exciting. The latest exhilarating episode kicks off with Peter Capaldi’s ever booming voice declaring that space is only referred to as “the final frontier” because it wants to kill us, which pretty much sets the tone for what’s to come, in the show’s traditionally morbid sort of way. The void is always waiting…

After all, space really is a dangerous place to be (or so we’re led to believe, anyway…), so it’s nice to have that sense of ominous, impending threat interjected back into the show’s mythos. Let’s face it, we were kind of getting used to the universe in all its weird and wonderful glory, what with Doctor Who being a sci-fi show and all, but all of a sudden what we thought we knew about the great unknown is flipped upside down as we’re shown just how out of our depth us human beings really are when it comes to extra terrestrial excursions. If you take anything away from Oxygen, it’s that space is bloody scary, man, though rest assured that you’ll take far more away from it than that. Far, far more…

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we? The pre-titles sequence alone is an epic escapade and we’re sure you’ll agree that the stunning scenery wouldn’t look out of place on an IMAX screen in a five and half hour Christopher Nolan movie. The scale of it just goes to show how far Doctor Who’s special effects have progressed over the years and the immersive introduction makes it feel like the series is taking you into space for the first time. It really is the first time for Bill, of course, and her initial reaction is as genuine and infectious as you’d expect. But more on what she gets up to later…

For now, let’s go back to the opening scene which introduces us to two ill-fated characters whose relationship is expertly established in the space (see what we did there?) of three very short – but very eventful – minutes. We don’t learn much about them before it all goes pretty pear-shaped (to put it lightly), but what we do learn is enough to make them instantly believable, likeable and, most importantly, human.

Humanity plays a big part in this episode, just as it has in the four adventures that have proceeded it. Doctor Who has always been rooted in it, of course, but there’s definitely a persistent pattern emerging here. Steven Moffat is seemingly on a mission to shine a light on the morals of mankind in his final year as showrunner, and there’s no finer platform on which to do it than against the breathtaking backdrop of space.

‘Breathtaking’ is another running theme in Oxygen, and we mean that in the literal sense. Time isn’t the only thing that’s running out for the Doctor, Bill and Nardole and what they encounter aboard Chasm Forge is a genuinely terrifying sight to behold. Notice we included Nardole there, as this episode finally marks his first full-length outing of the year. And Matt Lucas continues to smash it. Nobody really knew what to expect when it was announced that he’d be returning as a full time companion, but if your mind hasn’t been put to rest by his brief appearances thus far, this one oughta do the trick. He isn’t just there for the comic relief element either (although Matt provides that perfectly), as his character adopts a much firmer approach to the Doctor’s casual compulsion of breaking the conditions of his Vault-guarding oath. We don’t come any closer to finding out who – or what – lies inside the Vault this week, however we are left with the feeling that the Doctor’s apparent negligence will come back to bite him in a big way later in the series…

By the end of the episode, though, that’s the least of his worries. Amidst the ensuing chaos, something happens to our beloved Time Lord that really gives Peter the chance to shine in a way that he has never been given the opportunity to before. He will probably come close to breaking your heart and the formidable force of this particular performance is more than matched by the one delivered by Pearl Mackie. Her portrayal of Bill is getting stronger and stronger as the weeks go by and it is no exaggeration when we say that she really goes through the mill – and then some – in this one. If you thought Amy Pond had a rough ride, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Basically, we loved it. As expected, writer Jamie Mathieson has returned to the Whoniverse on top form and director Charles Palmer – who last helmed 2007’s Human Nature/The Family of Blood – has added a stellar and stylish space saga to his already reputable résumé of Doctor Who episodes. It only took him 10 years!

As the opening part of what already looks set to be a monumental three-part story, Series 10 is about to take a very dark turn as it reaches its halfway point in Extremis, which is set up as one of the maddest stories yet by its tantalising next time trailer. After this week’s almighty cliffhanger, something tells us that the Doctor is going to need his friends more than ever, but he’ll be sure to keep his enemies even closer. Next time, the bitch is back.

May 6th, 2017
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It’s that time of the week again which means that a brand new Doctor Who episode is just around the corner. It’s back to Earth – at least, the present day one – in Episode 4 as Bill and her friends move into their new house, which you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear is perfectly normal in every way…

Oh, apart from the creaking floorboards, old fashioned plugs, lack of central heating and the fact that it lies in the shadow of a mysterious, foreboding tower… to name but a few. Basically, who on Earth would live in a house like this?!

Well, Bill and her mates, apparently, but you can hardly blame them for overlooking its sinister surroundings, what with the state of today’s housing market. Looking on the bright side, though, the rooms are massive, the rent is cheap and, much to Bill’s relief, there isn’t a living puddle, weird robot or big fish in sight. In fact, if it weren’t for the cockroaches and everything else we just mentioned, it would pretty much be the perfect pad. And just what lies within that aforementioned tower, which they’ve been forbidden to enter under any circumstances for reasons that will become evidently clear by the end of the episode? Well, you’ll just have to wait until the end of the episode, won’t you?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, as Knock Knock is an episode that’s less about the story and more about how the story is told. As with all classic adventures, it’s built on a simple premise – in this case, a group of students moving into their new digs (what could possibly go wrong…?) – that utilities the classic horror conventions to deliver the sort of spine-chilling thriller that only the weird and wonderful world of Doctor Who can offer.

There is always a danger that episode’s with such a straightforward concept will fall flat, but that definitely isn’t the case in this instance. While the majority of the action takes place within the four walls of Bill’s eerie abode, the story unfolds in such a tantalisingly terrifying manner that it never feels stale or predictable. That’s largely down to first time Who writer Mike Bartlett’s snappy dialogue, which is charmingly complemented and effortlessly excelled by Bill Anderson’s subtle but sophisticated direction. It’s a completely different tone than his previous work in last week’s Thin Ice, but he amicably adapts to the genre at hand to make Knock Knock one of the most atmospheric and genuinely heart-racing episodes to date. Seriously, this one is creepy.

Once again, it all comes down to the simplicity of the plot, combined with Doctor Who’s already firmly established ability to turn the seemingly mundane and everyday into a living, breathing nightmare… made of wood. What we also love about Knock Knock, though, is that it still provides room for the Doctor and Bill’s relationship to develop amidst the escalating terror. The Doctor – in keeping with his fatherly/grandfatherly/tutor/friend duties – helps Bill move in, which we thought was a lovely touch, and it turns out that she still has plenty of questions about who he is. Oh the questions, the questions, the questions…

Bill is more than capable of standing on her own two feet, of course, which is affirmed – and then reaffirmed – by her growing frustration when the Doctor decides to sticks around uninvited. He’s never been able to take a hint, but it’s refreshing to see a companion who is so eager to establish the bit of her life that the Doctor isn’t part of. She probably would’ve done a pretty good job at initialising her independence (much better than her predecessor Clara ever did, anyway…) if her friends hadn’t started disappearing into the walls, so something tells us that she was secretly over the moon that the Doctor was on hand when the lowering Landlord came to call.

Speaking of whom, David Suchet is one of the best Doctor Who guest stars ever, by the way. Not that we were expecting anything less from the honourable Hercule Poirot himself, of course, but his formidable on screen presence takes his character to a whole new level. He might just make you cry, too, in his scenes with the magnificent Mariah Gale as Eliza, but to tell you anything more about their unique connection would ruin the episode’s bittersweet – and heartbreakingly human – climax.

The rest of the ensemble are great, too, particularly Bill’s diverse group of friends – Shireen, Harry, Paul, Felicity and Pavel (don’t worry about remembering their names – the Doctor certainly doesn’t!) – who each react to the drama at hand in a different way. Of course, the episode wouldn’t be completely without a cameo from Nardole, and you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that he’ll play a much bigger part from this point onwards, if the preview trailer for next week’s Oxygen is anything to go by.

That bloody Vault returns in Knock Knock too, as the Doctor takes the mystery one step further. Hopefully it’s a step in the right direction, despite the fact we still know nothing about what – or who – lies inside. Apart from the fact that they are exceptionally gifted on the piano…

We can’t wait to find out what’s really going on, but at the moment we’re still enjoying the excitement of the enigma. Play on, you unidentified Vault-dwelling menace. Play on.

April 27th, 2017
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Peter Capaldi’s final series at the helm of the TARDIS (sorry for the reminder!) continues this weekend and it’s third time unlucky for the Doctor and Bill as they find themselves treading on Thin Ice. After you’ve left your mark at the edge of the galaxy lightyears in the future, there’s only one place to go next. Home… the long way round. Get in!

Picking up directly where last week’s episode left off (we see a pattern emerging here…), we rejoin our heroes slap bang in the middle of Regency London where, as expected, not all is as it seems amidst the carnivalesque chaos of a seemingly ordinary frost fair. Or at least, as ordinary as a frost fair can be. As an example, there’s an actual sword swallower among the weird and wonderful festivities, so this episode should definitely come with its own ‘Don’t try this at home’ disclaimer.

It’s the Great Last Frost Fair, to be precise, and the year is 1814. Also as expected, Bill has lots of questions. And no, it isn’t a parallel world…

The bustling backdrop is beautifully established by first time Who director Bill Anderson, and once again Bill’s wide-eyed wonderment is a joy to behold. As she takes in her snow-covered surroundings, Pearl Mackie gets the chance to show off her effortless talent when, in the flip of a coin (and that analogy will become clear when you see the episode), she struggles to comprehend the moral high ground that has been embedded within her 2,000 year old tutor. Basically, he moves on.

Bill’s character is already so well rounded that it’s easy to forget that this is only her third episode, and as such she is still getting to know her mysterious new friend. You don’t even realise – or care – that we’re revisiting aspects of the Doctor’s temperament that have been explored before, such as his apparent emotionless reaction to death, as the story allows it to be portrayed in a fresh and interesting way. Combine that with Bill’s unique perspective and it’s further evidence – not that any was needed – that our new TARDIS duo are a match made in televisual heaven.

Bill doesn’t sugarcoat her feelings, and that’s one of the things we love about her the most. Despite the fact she’s centuries away from the world that she knows, this plucky present day gal fits right in, which is partly thanks to the TARDIS’ ever expansive wardrobe. As they step into the story, the escalating drama evolves around them and it doesn’t take long for their fun at the fair to transpire into inevitable anarchy when a young boy’s tragic encounter with a Thames-dwelling serpent sends them on a mission to discover what really lies beneath. There’s definitely something fishy going on and whatever you do, don’t follow the lights…

Children play a big part in this episode, as the Doctor and Bill enlist the help of a band of pickpocketing street urchins who wouldn’t look out of place alongside the Artful Dodger himself. In fact, we expected him to pop up at any moment, and stranger things certainly happen in this madcap 44 minutes. Although the situation is looking increasingly dire, the impressive young ensemble bring some much needed comic relief to the proceedings, particularly when the Doctor, as he puts it, “gets down with the kids”, much to Bill’s hilarious horror. Even her hair is left cringing.

Back to the matter at hand, though, and their investigation soon leads them to the sinister Sutcliffe (right), as played by this week’s leading guest star Nicholas Burns, who is such an indescribably disgusting human being that, when the Doctor does something completely out of character, you can’t help but cheer along. Kudos to Nicholas Burns, who is largely known for his comedic performances, for bringing to life such a skin-crawling adversary. Needless to say, His Lordship’s motivations are truly terrifying.

Of course, it all comes down to Sarah Dollard’s script. The last time she contributed to the show, she broke our Whovian hearts into pieces by killing off Clara Oswald (we’re still not over it), and this time she takes us back to a London that’s just as unfamiliar as Face the Raven’s trap streets, yet instantly as rich and magical. Even if the Doctor never does find out the secret behind that card trick…

One of the most exciting things to take away from Thin Ice is that there’s still so much of the Doctor and Bill to come. As a standalone story, it ticks all the boxes of a classic Doctor Who adventure. It’s set in the past, there’s an alien creature hidden just out of sight, there’s an awesome underwater sequence and, perhaps most importantly, its poignant resolution will leave you shaking your head in disgust and contempt at the human race. It’s like The Beast Below all over again, but the Doctor does get to wear a top hat so you know, swings and roundabouts.

Oh, and you’ll also no doubt be pleased to hear that Nardole makes another all too brief but memorable appearance, as the elusive Vault mystery deepens. And when we say that Thin Ice ends with a “knock knock”, we’re not just talking about Episode 4

April 21st, 2017
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After last week’s series premiere (which you can Rate & Discuss here), it’s big smiles all around – for now, at least – as Bill Potts is officially aboard the TARDIS.

There isn’t a Dalek or killer puddle in sight this time, however, as we’re fast tracked to the edge of the galaxy where a human settlement is said to hold the secret to everlasting happiness. Well, where else would you take your new companion on her maiden voyage?

OK, so it isn’t technically Bill’s maiden voyage, thanks to her quick-stop visits to Australia and the end of the universe (as you do!) last week, but as she points out in the opening moments of Smile, this is her first proper one, so it better be a good’un.

The latest episode picks up directly where The Pilot left off, with Bill bemusing her personal tutor with yet more of the hilariously random questions of which she is already acclaimed. Her unique take on the TARDIS continues to highlight her fresh perspective as she brings light to areas of the Whoniverse you probably never realised you wanted to know the answers to. We also get to learn a bit more about the conditions of the Doctor’s elusive promise, referred to in this episode as his oath, which we suspect will continue to be teased to the point of tears in the episodes to come. You can share your own theories regarding what lies inside the vault in our dedicated discussion, here.

Back to the mystery at hand, though, and the foreboding pre-titles scene wastes no time in establishing the hidden terror of the escalating Emojibots, with swooping crane shots of the surrounding settlement adding a sense of cinematic grandeur to the proceedings. The sequence also features the first and only appearance of one of the episode’s underused guest stars, Mina Anwar as Goodthing, who is robbed of any opportunity to develop her character when she’s the victim of a very sticky situation in the first four minutes. Slightly problematic.

Ralf Little is another example of a character that could’ve been, especially as a teaser video of him inside the TARDIS suggested that his role as Steadfast would be playing a much bigger part in the action. In reality, he never actually gets to set foot inside the police box, which is parked off in the middle of a cornfield for the majority of the story.

After the opening credits have rolled, the bulk of the episode takes place within the confines of the aforementioned human colony (which is missing one vital ingredient), against the real-life backdrop of the City of Arts and Science Museum in Valencia. The simplistic yet stunning location adds a sense of clinical purity to the luxurious landscape, helping to maintain its connotations as the idealistic utopia. But as the story unfolds, it soon becomes evidently clear that this picturesque paradise is far from ideal. Well, this is Doctor Who we’re talking about, isn’t it?

Enter the Doctor and Bill, whose jaunt to the far future quickly becomes a fight to the death (but what else is new?) when they come face to face with this week’s technological terror. The rampant robots are a fundamentally simple premise, but it’s one that still manages to create a sense of ominous fear, especially as throughout the episode you’re never 100% sure where they are or what they’re up to. Let’s just say, you wouldn’t want to bump into one of these guys in a dark alley. Unless, that is, you were smiling…

One of the most interesting aspects of this episode is that it is, for the most part, a two-hander between Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie. As they explore their new surroundings, you keep expecting somebody else to pop up and join the party, but it just doesn’t happen for the first 30 minutes. Thinking about it, this is exactly the sort of story you want from the Doctor and Bill’s first “proper” adventure, as it enables them to get to know each other – and, in turn, us to know Bill – amidst their investigation of a good old fashioned, albeit futuristic, science-fiction mystery. It’s one of those that you really have to pay attention to, but the best science-fiction mysteries usually are.

As a result, expect a lot of talking. In the Forest of the Night writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce returns on top form with plenty of brilliantly executed dialogue, and Bill’s inquisitiveness and infectious enthusiasm is particularly refreshing and fun to behold. While generally slow-paced, that’s not to say that the episode doesn’t have its fair share of drama, too, as we finally discover what’s really going on at the same time as our heroes do (although admittedly, and rightly so, the Doctor is always one step ahead of us all). It just takes a while to get there, is all.

Sit back and enjoy the ride, though, as it’s one of the first times that the show has managed to execute such a simple format alongside a concept that it can comfortably fall back and rely on. With today’s ever growing technological advances, the story is definitely a grower in the sense that, if you’re anything like us, you’ll find your appreciation for it growing the more you think about it post-viewing.

While it probably won’t be one that we revisit as much as others, Lawrence Gough has directed an intriguing insight into the future of our species, and there is something quintessentially Doctor Who about our heroes jump starting a new civilisation and being home before the kettle has boiled. Or at least, Bill thinks they’re going home…

April 14th, 2017
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Doctor Who returns for a brand new series tomorrow night in an episode simply titled The Pilot.

All will become clear when you see it for yourself, but the title is also an allusion to the fact that the Series 10 premiere has been billed (Bill – see what we did there?!) as the perfect starting point for new viewers.

It did get us a-thinkin’ about the actual Doctor Who pilot, though, which we decided to revisit ahead of the show’s latest televisual return.

It’s the one that started it all, as it were, although it was never actually aired as part of the series itself. This pilot version was filmed as a studio rehearsal in September 1963 and the episode was reshot and developed into the first serial, An Unearthly Child, before it went to air in November. The rest, as they say, is history. Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?

1. The Now Iconic Opening Scene

While this opening scene is pretty underwhelming when you compare it to today’s TV standards, it’s simplicity is what makes it so brilliantly, quintessentially Who.

There were some alterations made to the set for the actual first episode, but the premise remained the same. A policeman stumbles into 76 Totter’s Lane where a seemingly ordinary police box is hidden away in the shadows. It was the beginning of the world’s greatest sci-fi series and it all started out as a mild curiosity in a junkyard. The theme tune playing in the background is just the icing on the cake.

2. Susan’s Sass

While it’s often claimed that the purpose of Doctor Who companions back in the day was to look pretty, there is much to be said about the initial characterisation of the show’s first ever leading lady, Carole Ann Ford.

Introduced as an enigmatic pupil with knowledge way beyond her years, Susan Foreman caught the eye of two particularly suspicious teachers, Barbara and Ian, who were so intrigued by her otherworldly presence that they actually followed her home to find out what she was hiding. And aren’t they just glad that they did?

Susan’s sass levels are on point. She’s definitely her grandfather’s granddaughter…

3. The Doctor’s Understated Entrance

These days, the Doctor is partial to arriving on the back of a tank whilst playing the electric guitar, so it’s hard to believe that there was ever a time he was able to enter a room without all of the accompanying fanfare. To be fair, though, he’s earned it.

This was exactly the case in the pilot, in which William Hartnell’s inceptive incarnation of the now legendary Time Lord made his on screen debut with a cough rather than an explosion. Oh, how times change.

It’s also a whole 14 minutes until he actually appears, with the story being told through the eyes of his imminent companions, which only adds to the mystery of who the hell the show is even supposed to be about. 54 year later and we’re still not 100% sure.

4. The First Time We See Inside The TARDIS

Shock horror! Turns out, it isn’t just an ordinary police box after all. And guess what else? It’s bigger on the inside! Although, arguably, not as big as it is these days.

Barbara and Ian got more than they bargained for when they stepped through those doors, although their assumption that it was all simply an illusion is considerably tame compared to some of the reactions that have followed over the years. Just wait until you see Bill’s…

5. The Melodramatic Final Scene

Suffice to say, it all gets very heated when the Doctor threatens to keep Barbara and Ian prisoner to prevent his secrets from being exposed.

This melodrama was to become a staple of Classic Who, and some would argue that it’s carried itself over into the modern adventures, too. Admit it, though, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you love about the pilot? Get nostalgic and let us know in the comments!

April 13th, 2017
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
whoviannet-review-gabriel

WhovianNet was recently invited to attend the press night of Paul McGann’s new play, Gabriel, which transported Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre back to Nazi-occupied Guernsey in 1943 where a mother was doing everything in her power to keep her family safe despite the threat of the surrounding danger.

They say you should never judge a book by its cover (and rightly so!), but if we were to judge Gabriel on its production design, we would’ve guessed that we were about to sit through a domestic drama about an ordinary family adjusting to the struggles of living in a war-torn society. The set was understated – a kitchen on one side while, on the other, a raised platform sported a single bed. Although simple, our eyes were immediately drawn to its attention to detail. As the play started and we were introduced to the ensemble of characters, it soon became clear that a simple domestic drama this was not. This particular family, caught up in the terror of the times, was harbouring secrets of its own, and it didn’t take long for the intrigue to intensify as the story developed.

So, what is the story? We’ve given you the basic overview, but to tell you any more would ultimately ruin the experience. What we will say is that Paul McGann steals the show in his role as the elusive Commander Von Pfunz, who couldn’t be further away from his portrayal of the Eighth Doctor if he tried. We were, of course, already familiar with Paul’s formidable presence on screen, but it was a real joy to see his latest character come to life before our eyes, with his faultless German accent affirming what a versatile actor he is.

While we were initially drawn to the play by Paul’s involvement, the story itself is a real – predominately female – ensemble piece, and his co-stars, Belinda Lang, Jules Melvin, Robin Morrissey, Sarah Schoenbeck and Venice van Someren, all hold their own amidst the escalating drama, with the story giving each of them their respective time to shine. We particularly enjoyed Paul’s interactions with Belinda’s character, Jeanne Becquet, which added a dose of comic relief to the otherwise dark and mysterious proceedings.

While the story never leaves the four – nay, three – walls in which it is confined, Moira Buffini’s script, which is based on real life accounts from Guernsey, helps to create a believable backdrop to establish what life was like on the island during the time of the occupation. It wasn’t something that we knew much about before seeing the play, which didn’t hinder our enjoyment of it in any way, but it’s definitely a fresh take on an era in history that feels so familiar to us having been so heavily featured in works of fiction. At the same time, the play introduces a supernatural undertone, heralded by the youngest character of Estelle Becquet who believes that a young man washed ashore has been sent to them by an otherworldly force.

When we chatted to Paul before seeing the play, he described it as “a proper thriller”, and after seeing it for ourselves, we absolutely agree. It’s been 20 years since its last production in London but its revival will introduce the story to a new generation who are intrigued to discover more about a lesser known aspect of the Second World War. Having said that, the play will appeal to all generations, whether that be for nostalgia purposes or simply for the opportunity to partake in an enjoyable night out at the theatre.

You’ll definitely take something away from the play as it builds up to a climactic conclusion which enables you to make up your own mind about the events you’ve just witnessed. Whether you take it as simply black or white or find a deeper message entwined within its tale of redemption, the play still holds relevance today as the tour kicks off during a time which still sees social and political oppression throughout the world.

But, as the play affirms, in the darkest and most desperate of times, there is always the hope of salvation. Whatever the cost.

Gabriel is touring around the UK until May. You can find your nearest theatre and book your tickets here. Have you seen the play? Share your own reviews below…

April 1st, 2017
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
steven-moffat-to-revive-buffy-the-vampire-slayer

Steven Moffat has confirmed that his next project will be the revival of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The outgoing Doctor Who showrunner will be closing the doors on his TARDIS tenure after this year’s Christmas Special, but revealed that work has already begun on bringing back the iconic American series, which ended in 2003, back to the small screen.

The show – starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the titular heroine – is this month celebrating its 20th anniversary.

“Well, I’ve been keeping this a secret long enough,” Steven said. “Although I was adamant I’d never run another show again when I left Doctor Who, the idea of bringing Buffy back was too good to miss. It was a phenomenon that defined a generation and I can’t wait to reopen the Hellmouth and unleash more foes, and maybe the odd Weeping Angel too…”

The show’s original creator, Joss Whedon, will serve alongside Steven as a creative director on the new series, while its principal cast members will be reprising their respective roles.

Joss Whedon commented: “Under Steven Moffat, Buffy is in more than capable hands. I am excited to see what Buffy and her pals are up to now and what shocks Steven has in store for them. New and old fans alike, get ready to go back to Sunnydale, 14 years later…”

The new series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be a co-production between the BBC and Warner Bros Television. It will be filmed in the US this summer, to be aired next spring. The New Series will consist of 10 60-minute episodes with further announcements to follow.

UPDATE: As it’s now past midday in the UK, it’s time to come clean. April Fools! Who fell for our fake Buffy story? Well done if you saw straight through us…

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