Archive for ‘Reviews’
April 13th, 2017
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

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…

November 22nd, 2016
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

We’ve reached the penultimate episode but the end of Class is still far from in sight as Miss Quill gets down to some serious business with a little help from the school headmistress… and all she has to do is believe. Be warned, though, because she’ll pluck the eyebrows from your screaming face. But just who is Miss Quill when she’s free…?

Well, she’s war itself, of course, but that much was established all the way back in Episode 1 (remember that? It feels like a lifetime ago…). Just how far this once great and powerful leader would go to retain her freedom is what makes this episode such a thrilling ride from the get-go as it quickly becomes apparent that she would quite literally die to reclaim what she feels is rightfully hers. She’s pre-warned that she’ll end up either dead or free, but it’s a risk that she’s obviously willing to take. At this stage, what has she got to lose?

After forcing Charlie & Co into a a spontaneous detention to keep them out of the way (although as we saw in Detained last week, being locked in a classroom was hardly a walk in the park for them…), Miss Quill and Dorothea join forces and, before she knows it, she’s being “buzzed atomically” to an extraordinary world by the means of a mysterious alien device that even its owner doesn’t completely understand… which isn’t exactly the sort of thing you want to hear from the designated driver, especially if they’re a learner.

Miss Quill goes with it, though, and if you’ve been waiting for the chance to delve deeper into her ever malevolent mind, then this episode is guaranteed to be right up your street. Not only is her name in the title, which is usually a tell-tale sign that she’ll play quite a big part in it, but the story itself is solely dedicated to her mission. We learn lots about her species, too (including their far from conventional birthing and celebration traditions), but it is ultimately reaffirmed that she does actually possess quite a lot of compassion after all. You know, in a weird, genocidal sort of way. Plus, she is quite the screamer…

And then it comes hunting. They’re not alone, though, as we’re also introduced to Chiki Okonkwo as Ballon, a shapeshifter who is enigmatic by design but joins the operation on a journey for his own kind of redemption. Whovians will punch the air with glee when it’s revealed what old school adversary he was masquerading as on Earth, which comes as a nice little reminder that, despite how bonkers this show seems to be getting, it is still taking place under the same umbrella as the Doctor Who universe that we all know and love (which is, in itself, pretty bloody bonkers!).

Ultimately, The Metaphysical Engine, Or What Quill Did is an adventure that showcases just how weird and wonderful Patrick Ness’ imagination can be when it’s really given the platform to let loose. The episode has one of those “it’s not really happening but they are really experiencing it” sort of vibes, which brings with it a side to Miss Quill that is both enthralling and terrifying in equal measure. We already knew that she was a force to be reckoned with but even she is full of surprises as the episode builds up to its climactic conclusion, which makes for one of the most spectacularly gruesome sequences of the series so far, followed by what is sure to be lauded as one of Katherine Kelly’s defining Quill performances.

We mentioned the nod to the Doctor Who mythology but this episode builds upon Class’ established narrative and adds another level of depth and drama to continue its rise as a fully-fledged franchise in its own right. After the events of this episode, the pieces have been perfectly aligned for what looks set to be the Earth-shattering finale to end them all. And just when you think it’s over, one of the biggest bombshells comes along to hit you right in the face. And we have no idea what to expect next. Bring it on.

The Metaphysical Engine, Or What Quill Did premieres on Saturday at 10am on BBC Three.

November 19th, 2016
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

It was back to Class this weekend as our heroes found themselves facing their biggest challenge yet… detention. If being stuck in a room for an hour wasn’t unbearable enough, things quickly went from bad to worse when a mysterious asteroid fragment came along to crash the party. They’re angry, trapped, and there’s a very real possibility that their brains are about to be fried any minute. Is detention always like this?

After last week’s epic sci-fi venture to the realm of the Shadow Kin and back again, it was hard to predict where Class would take us to next. As it turns out, it was just a classroom, but the drama that followed made for one of the show’s most tense – and not to mention claustrophobic – episodes yet. Basically, watching Detained is kind of like watching The Breakfast Club, only it’s set in the middle of space and there’s a weird radioactive rock trying to kill everyone. Ok, so it’s not like watching The Breakfast Club, but you know what we mean. Sort of.

Anyway, back to this weird radioactive rock thing, which causes all kinds of havoc when it falls through a tear in space and time and transports the gang to the middle of nowhere. It’s either deadly or interesting (or both), but it’s what happens next that’s really intriguing. The fragment’s power is inadvertently discovered by Matteusz when he picks it up and it takes over his body to reveal some ugly home truths about his boyfriend. As it turns out, Matteusz is secretly terrified of Charlie and what he’ll do next (wow, dude, tell him what you really think, why don’t you?), which isn’t exactly the sort of thing you want to hear from your beloved other half. Poor Charlie. He’s having real trouble being trapped in a confined space.

And then, inevitably, it all kicks off. Emotions and tensions run high as the Asteroid of Truth (Meteor of Truth?) starts to pick away at our Classmates and their unconventional bonds, but perhaps more importantly it gives them the chance to sit down and talk, which is something they probably should’ve done a long time ago. They really are a diverse bunch, but as always they learn to put their differences aside to save the day, which pretty much sums up what Class has been all about.

Patrick Ness delivers another expertly executed script which perfectly balances the angst and anguish of our teenagers with the overriding threat of their unfamiliar-yet-familiar surroundings. There’s sort of a Midnight Doctor Who vibe going on, too, in that the majority of the action takes place within the confines of one room and the characters are really given the chance to shine. The dialogue is on top form and it’s all brought together under the helm of Wayne Che Yip’s stylish direction which makes a classroom look just as visually exciting as an alien world.

One problem with Class is that the premise of previous episodes haven’t quite lived up to their climax or resolution (most notably The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo), however thankfully this isn’t the case here. By the end of Detained, we know the characters better than ever, despite the fact that the story highlights the fact that they’re still full of surprises. The identity of the fragment is a worthy pay off, too, however ultimately the episode is more about the characters and their relationships rather than the adversary itself.

They’re all in the same boat, prince or no prince, and their latest extra terrestrial encounter brought them closer together than ever before. That’s lucky, really, since we’re about to head into the first part of the grand finale, and with Miss Quill’s new found freedom, they’re going to need all the help they can get. Things are gonna change around here…

November 12th, 2016
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

Class continued this week as Miss Quill entered a dangerous alliance and April and Ram joined forces to explore the Underneath (if you’ll pardon the expression). We’re not in Coal Hill anymore, Toto.

If you thought poor April had been through the mill and back again (and then some!) in last week’s episode, just wait until you get a load of this. She is really p*ssed off. Seriously, though, will somebody just give that girl a break?! There’s just no rest for the god damn sensible, however, as our honourable hero found herself in uncharted waters – and, you know, a whole different planet – when she was transported through a crack in the universe on a vengeful mission to kill the King once and for all. We hope she finished her homework.

Luckily for April, she wasn’t alone. As ever, she was followed in hot pursuit by her knight in shining armour, Ram, although let’s agree to ignore the fact that she literally had to rescue him within seconds of his arrival. He tries his best, and he definitely gets bonus man points for tailgating her into the path of certain doom. As romantic gestures go, that isn’t half bad. Besides, it all makes for an awesome pre-titles sequence, which finally unveils the Shadow Kin realm in all its fiery, Tolkien-inspired glory. We almost expected Gollum to show up at one point, because that’s the sort of show that Class is. Cue the opening titles…

Back on Earth, Dorothea’s true identity is revealed and, surprise, surprise, it turns out that she actually is more than just your average headteacher after all. But we had all pretty much figured that one out already. Suffice to say, her timely proposition gives Miss Quill (man, that gal can scream!) something to chew on as she suddenly holds the future of an entire race quite literally in her hands. Don’t worry, though, she has a history. Whatever floats your boat.

As the invasion of the flesh-eating flowers continues, priorities change and the ensuing drama serves to shine a fascinating light on Miss Quill and Charlie’s unconventional relationship. History looks set to repeat itself as they’re forced to examine their conflicting motivations and morals, and Katherine Kelly puts in a stellar performance when she gives us an all but fleeting insight into her character’s underlying emotional trauma.

Meanwhile, the rest of the gang are left to pick up the pieces as Tanya explains to April’s parents that their daughter has been sharing her heart with a murdering alien and she’s cut a hole into his world to destroy him. Which makes the whole thing sound crazy, when you put it like that. Still, it’s nothing that they’re not used to by this point, and so they all face up to the escalating threat with the usual bravery, wit and pluck that we’ve thus far come to expect from our far from cowardly Classmates. We can’t deny it, they’re good in a crisis.

Brave-ish Heart is a well-executed story with various story strands which are all given a fair share of the spotlight. Amidst all the sci-fi (and this one gets really sci-fi), there is still a strong heart beating throughout the chaos, and the underlying themes just affirm what a brilliantly rounded platform this genre is, and what a perfect match it has found in the Doctor Who universe. It’s pretty good, this Young Adult malarky. No matter how bad things are looking, we have faith that everything will be OK in the end… ish.

November 3rd, 2016
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

April MacLean receives an unwelcome blast from the past in this week’s visit to Coal Hill Academy, but it’s her more recent history that looks set to test her to her limits. Meanwhile, there’s a new headteacher in town, there’s something wrong with the petals… and parent’s evening is looming. Yikes. Basically, it’s all kicking off.

Let’s be honest, though, it’s been kicking off – to put it lightly – since day one. As we reach the halfway point of the series, the drama is notched up to an unprecedented level and all eyes are on April when a sudden outburst about war makes her realise that the connection between her and Corakinus is growing stronger by the minute. It’s a good job that Ram is on hand, then, to offer his moral support (cheesy pick up lines and all), but it suddenly becomes clear that their developing relationship might just turn out to be more trouble than it’s worth. The course of high school romance never did run smooth, especially when the ruthless King of the Shadow Kin is but a heartbeat away… Oh, why can’t things just be simple?!

Simple they are not in this episode, which largely feels like it’s setting up the events to come rather than standing its ground as its own individual story. We’re not complaining about that, because there’s still plenty of other stuff going on in the background to keep driving the narrative forward. A particularly intriguing development is the arrival of Coal Hill’s brand new headmistress and lady in red, Dorothea, as played by an actress blessed with what is quite possibly the greatest name in showbiz: Pooky Quesnel. It’s safe to say that Dorothea is introduced as somewhat of an enigma (don’t worry, she won’t bite…), but she’s not one to be messed with. It is an ever suspicious Miss Quill who discovers this first hand when her new boss offers her a proposition she cannot refuse amidst an escalating invasion of squirrel-eating petals. You literally couldn’t write it, but Patrick Ness has.

And once again it is Patrick’s writing that really stands out. The pre-title sequence takes us to an alien world to remind us that we actually are watching a science fiction drama after all, but thanks to its creator’s naturally flowing dialogue, the sinister Shadow Kin’s realm feels just as believable and ordinary as the corridors of Coal Hill. Just when you thought that our heroes were coming to terms with the events of the last few episodes (it really has been one weird month!), their loyalty and friendships are put to the test by their own suspicions and morals, although they ultimately have to agree to disagree when it transpires that there is a far greater loss at stake.

Overall, Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart is a slow burner but it’s one that we hope will pay off in the episodes and fall out to come. Its final moments are certainly dramatic, perhaps even a little too dramatic (her poor mother doesn’t know what the hell’s going on…), and its climactic cliffhanger left us wondering how on Earth April is going to get out of this one. We have no idea what she’s capable of under the Shadow Kin’s influence, but we have faith that the goodness in her heart will fight back. It always does… right?

Prepare for war.

October 28th, 2016
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

This week, our Classmates are kept up all night by a soul-sucking temptress as the ghosts of their individual pasts quite literally come back to haunt them. Just whatever you do, do not take their hand…

Three episodes in and, thankfully, Class is showing no signs of running out of speed. Nightvisiting takes the series in another completely different direction whilst still managing to remain true to the established style and characters, whom, it has to be said, we are finding ourselves rapidly falling deeper and deeper in love with.

And ‘deep’ is definitely the right word for this particular story. This terrifying tale of death and deception explores the show’s darkest and most mature theme yet, and it is Vivian Oparah as Tanya who feels the full brunt of the ominous threat when she comes face to face with her father on the second anniversary of his death. The ghostly image of him appearing at the end of her bed is chilling to say the least, but all is not as it seems (well, duh…) as it’s all part of a sinister ploy at the hands of the luring Lankin. Suffice to say, Tanya’s pain of losing her parent so suddenly is still very much raw, which only serves to fuel the foe’s ever increasing power as it is quickly established that it’s drawn to those who have yet to let their lost loved ones go. We told you it got deep, didn’t we?

It’s the sort of deep that’s to be expected from a Young Adult drama, though, especially if you’re familiar with Patrick Ness’ previous work. We’re lucky that the Doctor Who franchise finally has a platform on which it’s free to explore such concepts, and its one that Patrick has touched on several times before. In this scenario, he succeeds in keeping it original and unique to the confines of this particular universe, and the underlying morals and motives are handled effortlessly and beautifully. It’s the overall simplicity of Patrick’s script and its accompanying villain (spoilers: it’s not just bad flu!) that make Nightvisiting such an important and powerful story, and it’s also further proof – if more was even needed – that the imagination of its creator literally knows no bounds. Simply put, Patrick Ness and the Whoniverse are a match made in heaven.

Once again, though, it’s all in the name of sci-fi. There is yet more to discover about our protagonists as the big, bad world around them seemingly comes to its latest end (as Ram correctly points out, this isn’t even the third weirdest thing that he’s seen this month), and it’s a testament to Patrick’s writing that they all still manage to remain relevant – particularly in its limited 45 minute timeframe – as they each bring their own perspective unto the ensuing danger.

The ensemble is once again on top form, with Sophie Hopkins especially adding a new layer to April by revealing just why she’s always so god damn sensible with her account of the ordeal that led to her mother’s life changing injury. Meanwhile, fans of Greg Austin and Jordan Renzo as Charlie and Matteusz (do they have an official ship name yet? Mattie? CharMattz?) will no doubt be pleased to hear that this is the episode in which they take their relationship to the next level (if you know what we mean…), and it goes without saying that Katherine Kelly as Miss Quill is simply the gift that keeps on giving. We particularly enjoyed the scene in which she’s reading The Hunger Games and ponders if it’s based on true events. Stranger things have certainly happened, and Class can definitely vouch for that. Let’s just say, a double decker bus comes in very hand. It’s totally bonkers.

Is it really the end of the world, though, or is it all just a severe case teenage angst? It’s definitely a bonding exercise, but sometimes with Class, it’s hard to tell. But that’s precisely the point. There’s monsters and aliens and Shadow Kins (oh my!), but there’s also a strong, beating heart (no offence, April) which has thus far been carrying us through every episode and leaving us desperate to go back to Class. Nightvisiting is a thinker and we’re sure that the Lankin will stay with you long after you’ve finished watching. There’s plenty more where they came from, of course. In fact, they’re just the tip of the tongue. All in a night’s work, eh?

Class Episode Three, Nightvisiting, is released on BBC Three tomorrow at 10am.

October 23rd, 2016
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

After the series premiere got the ball rolling with a bang (and then some), Episode 2 of Class slows things back down as Ram takes the spotlight in a battle against his own personal demons, but it’s a battle that’s just as important – if not more so – as his showdown with Corakinus.

You’re always left to wonder where a series will go to next after the first episode, and more importantly whether or not it will be able to maintain the pace and momentum of its opening story. You needn’t worry about that in the case of Class, though, as The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo, while a very different kind of tale, still manages to draw you into the aftermath of the horrifying events of the Autumn Prom.

It is Ram who gets most of the attention in this episode, which is the least they could’ve done when you consider just how traumatic and psychologically damaging his experiences at the Prom actually were. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s struggling, both emotionally and psychically, to accept the sheer scale of his ordeal, and not even the distraction of his favourite pastime can help him this time. 1-0 to the Shadow Kin… or is it?

Described as a “football jock” in the official character bios, Ram proves here that he is far more than just a soulless sportsman. The story gave us the opportunity to crack away at his hard-faced exterior to delve deeper into the inner-workings of his mind, something which we’re sure we’ve still only touched the surface of. Fady Elsayed’s performance perfectly conveyed Ram’s overwhelming sense of mourning and grief, whilst highlighting his desperation to perform well on the pitch in what he feels is his only platform in which he can truly succeed (and let’s not forget to mention the fact that for the second time in as many episodes, he ends up with blood all over his face – he’s just getting careless now!).

Patrick Ness said that Class would be character driven, and an episode like this one just reaffirms it. The rest of the cast had their fair crack at the whip, too, as this story brings them one step closer to accepting their new found responsibility as Earth defenders. We’re sure they’ve all pretty much got their heads around the crack in time and space now (that is, just as soon as they’ve settled on a name for it – we’re getting ‘Bunghole of Time’ on a t-shirt!), and no doubt the rest of the protagonists will each get their chance throughout the series to rise to the challenge and escape the confines of the social stereotypes in which they are currently confined.

In a nutshell, The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo was a well-paced story with an interesting premise, although after such an intriguing build up, we couldn’t help but feel that the climax was somewhat anticlimactic. At least Ram got to find some form of acceptance, though, in a sci-fi ‘your football coach is skinning people alive’ sort of way. Miss Quill was on hand to offer some well-timed comic relief, too, as she got tongues wagging with a second, separate adversary who had taken the guise of an ominous Ofsted inspector. It looks like it’s only just the beginning of that particular arc, so it was a nice little teaser of what’s to come. Suffice to say, you’ll never look at your own coach in quite the same way again. Don’t worry, though. You are in control.

October 20th, 2016
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

One episode in and Class has already secured its status as its very own beast to be reckoned with – but it’s the beast that the Doctor Who franchise has been waiting for.

Believe it or not, but it was just over a year ago that the BBC announced that Patrick Ness had signed up to helm his very own Doctor Who spin off, and now the new term – and, as such, a new era – is finally about to begin. And oh, what a shining new era it looks set to be! If the premiere episode is anything to go by, we really are in for a treat…

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 12 months, here’s the premise of Class in a nutshell. Set at the pre-established Coal Hill School, which has been given a swanky revamp to become the prestigious Academy since its last on screen appearance over in the main show, the series follows the day to day lives of a dynamic group of sixth formers as they battle their way through the trials and tribulations of puberty and exams. Oh, and the odd extra terrestrial excursion, of course. You know, all the usual stuff.

The stars of the show – that’s Greg Austin as Charlie, Sophie Hopkins as April, Fady Elsayed as Ram and Vivian Oparah as Tanya – are instantly watchable, relatable and likeable, all of which were vital ingredients in establishing their authority as the Whoniverse’s next generation of honourable heroes. There’s a lot to get through in the opening episode but not one member of the ensemble feels wasted or unnecessary – they are each there to add something special and unique to the overriding and developing story arcs (of which there are many) and the narrative offers the right amount of insight into their personal demons to keep us intrigued enough to find out more, whilst reassuring us that these valiant teens definitely deserve our blessing. A special mention goes out to Sophie Hopkins as April, who gets way more – like, way, way more – than she bargained for when a night of prom preparations turns into a literal fight to the death. It escalates really quickly. Oh, and we take our hat off to Fady Elsayed, too, who loses two things very dear to him in the space of 5 minutes. Don’t worry, though. He gets one of them back.

Speaking of the prom, it’s the circumstances surrounding the gang’s unlikely but inevitable alliance that ultimately makes this episode such an enjoyable – if completely bonkers – ride. The party setting is the perfect backdrop for the events that escalate within the confines of the school corridors, which are being haunted by sinister shadows. A student has gone missing and we won’t say anything more about that, but suffice to say that the brilliant backstory and its accompany adversary – the terrifying Shadow Kin – is so rich, powerful and well crafted that it could warrant a spin off of its very own…

…which brings us to Katherine Kelly as the devilishly decadent Miss Quill. We recommend that you try to go into the episode with as little knowledge about her cryptic character as possible, as the reveal of her identity is definitely worth the surprise. What’s more exciting is where she’ll go next, as a vengeful villainess who, not through choice, is having to adjust to a life that uses words instead of weapons. Katherine is effortlessly fantastic and relishes every ounce of the role, which is one that will undoubtedly put her in good stead to go down as one of the most formidable female foes that this genre has ever seen. Watch this space, folks.

So, what genre is Class, exactly? Well, we know that it’s Young Adult and anybody familiar with Patrick Ness’ previous works won’t take long to feel at home in terms of its style and pacing. What’s particularly noteworthy, however, is that Patrick has managed to make it accessible for all. His snappy dialogue and one liners bring the story to life and it’s already clear that he’s created something that’s exactly like Doctor Who in every way… apart from the fact that it’s completely different. The timely appearance from Peter Capaldi as the Doctor himself only serves to remind us that it’s all part of the same mythology, however his guest spot – while appreciated – is fleeting and the episode would’ve worked just as well without it.

The premiere episode of Class shines a new light on a world that is already familiar to us, whilst planting the seeds for the stories and drama to come. It all kicks off with an awesome pre-titles sequence that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an episode of Buffy (that’s not us complaining), and the theme tune totally rocks. Basically, we’ve never been so excited to go to school.

The first two episodes premiere on BBC Three at 10am on Saturday 22nd October.

May 31st, 2015
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

WhovianNet attended the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular in Birmingham this week. Here is our review of what was the musical extravaganza to end them all…

The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular made its long awaited UK debut this week after receiving critical and fan acclaim in Australia and New Zealand. As soon as the show begins you can’t help but wonder why it’s taken so long to reach the Doctor’s home turf, but fans can rest assured that it’s definitely been worth the wait. And then some!

Doctor Who devotees haven’t exactly been stuck for choice when it comes to stage extravaganzas celebrating the music and monsters of TV’s favourite Time Lord. Fans young and old have descended on the Royal Albert Hall year after year for the praised Doctor Who Proms and in 2010 a menagerie of the show’s iconic adversaries hit the road for Doctor Who Live: The Monsters Are Coming.

The Symphonic Spectacular, though, is something new. Although it follows the now familiar format of the show’s soundtrack being accompanied by video montages of the Doctor’s most memorable moments (while a host of aliens invade the audience, naturally!), this is solely a celebration of Murray Gold’s music and it doesn’t get much better than hearing his mesmerising melodies being performed by a live orchestra in all their glory.

Murray’s music really is the beating heart(s) of this show. Audience members are taken on a thrilling journey through time and space as they’re reminded just how much of an impact his compositions have had on the series since its return to our screens in 2005. His scores add another dimension to our hero’s ongoing extra terrestrial escapades and it wouldn’t be the Doctor Who we all know and love without them.

The only problem is, there just isn’t enough of it! As always whenever the Doctor is concerned, time flies when you’re having fun and it feels like it’s over before it’s even begun. With over 10 years of beloved music on Murray’s reputable résumé, it was always going to be hard to narrow it down into a limited two hour performance. The final running order perfectly channels the power of his music, though, with a focus on the Twelfth Doctor’s recent adventures  - through electrifying tracks such as A Good Man? and Death in Heaven Suite - with a handful of blasts from the past for the older generation to enjoy, too (most notably Fifty – This is Gallifrey and the anthemic Vale Decem).

The biggest blast from the past of them all is, of course, the magnificent Peter Davison, who hosts the proceedings with the usual wit and charm that fans have come to expect from the real life alter ego of their hero’s fifth incarnation. All in all, the Symphonic Spectacular is a love letter to fans and the audience appreciation for the Doctor is tangible, as it is on stage from those bringing the show to life. The atmosphere in the arena was electric and, as it reached its breathtaking climax with a rendition of the universally adored theme tune, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Congratulations to Murray Gold, Ben Foster, Peter Davison, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, soloist Elin Manahan Thomas and everyone else who was involved in the production of the Symphonic Spectacular. Its next stop is New York in October, and it’s safe to say that US fans really are in for a treat!

Did you go to a Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular this week? Share your reviews below…

May 18th, 2015
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

The official Doctor Who Series 8 soundtrack has been released today (Monday).

Although it goes without saying, Murray Gold delivered yet another spectacular array of musical scores to accompany the long awaited arrival of Peter Capaldi as our titular Time Lord. The soundtrack catapulted the Twelfth Doctor’s first string of adventures into new levels of cinematic scale and his new theme in particular, A Good Man?, helped to set the tone for his era by establishing him as an honourable hero that’s not to be reckoned with. Just look at those eyebrows go!

The brand new soundtrack compiles the highlights – and then some – as it takes listeners on a thrilling journey through each episode, from the Victorian backdrop of Deep Breath to the festive wonderment of Last Christmas. Along the way, fans will recount their visit to Sherwood forest and their heart-stopping encounter with the Mummy on the Orient Express, while the atmospheric tones of Time Heist will set pulses racing all over again.

A special mention to the Doctor Who theme, complete with a mesmerising middle eight, but it all builds up to the climactic series finale, Dark Water/Deep Breath, which was made even more so by Murray’s music. It makes you laugh, cry and send you screaming behind the sofa (usually all at once!), and Doctor Who fans wouldn’t want it any other way.

Search WhovianNet
Latest Poll

The Thirteenth Doctor is... Jodie Whittaker! Initial thoughts?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
The End of Twelve
Discuss your theories regarding the Twelfth Doctor's regeneration
Torchwood Series 5
Find out more about the brand new audio series of Torchwood, Aliens Among Us
Buy The Doctor & I
Pre-order WhovianNet's 'The Doctor & I'
Class Series 2
News Categories
News Archives
RSS Feeds

WhovianNet offers RSS feeds, so you can get our latest news posts to your preferred RSS reader! Here are the links you need...

Get an avatar!
Want your own avatar next to your comments on WhovianNet? No problem - find out how to get one by clicking here!