The Doctor Who Companion Get your daily fix of news, reviews, and features with the Doctor Who Companion! Thu, 15 Feb 2024 14:48:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 108589596 Alex Kingston Is Keen for River Song to Meet Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor Fri, 16 Feb 2024 00:04:00 +0000

Alex Kingston would like her character, River Song, to meet the Fifteenth Doctor, aka Ncuti Gatwa’s current incarnation of the Time Lord.

At a panel at the MegaCon in Orlando, she was asked which Doctor she’d like to meet, and she singled out Gatwa’s, calling him a “twinkly badass too”, something which he’d earlier described River as. But is her return likely? She went on:

“It was such a wonderful journey and the journey may still continue. Who knows? I mean, can you imagine just flying the TARDIS and going to all those incredible different dimensions in time and space? I mean, it’s been an amazing journey and I fly the TARDIS better than he does…”

River first appeared in Steven Moffat’s Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead, opposite David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, a tale which ultimately saw her sacrifice herself for not only the Doctor but also their future together (not to mention the 4,022 people saved by the Library computer). She next made life interesting for the Doctor in The Time of Angels/ Flesh and Stone, with Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, the incarnation she appeared with the most. Finally, she was last seen in The Husbands of River Song, a Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) adventure on the night before she was due to go to the Library.

But on audio, i.e. for Big Finish, she’s met numerous other Doctors, as well as other companions and enemies like the Autons, the Master, the Krotons, and the Sontarans.

So could we see River again on TV? It’s certainly possible. Nonetheless, it is perhaps unlikely.

Would you like to see more of Melody Pond, aka the Doctor’s wife, aka River Song? Or has her story now been fully told?

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Richard Franklin (1936- 2023) Thu, 15 Feb 2024 00:03:00 +0000

Richard Franklin, who played UNIT’s Captain Mike Yates in Doctor Who, has passed away, aged 87.

The actor passed away in his sleep after fighting a long-term illness on Christmas Day morning 2023. Yes, it has taken longer than it should have done to report his passing, but obituaries are funny things, especially for those people we really care about. Acknowledging someone important isn’t part of our physical world anymore is, of course, gutting, but more than that, with obituaries, you have the task of making something worthy of someone special. How do you sum up a life in a few paragraphs? How do you close a chapter with a simple news item?

Because the thing about Mike Yates, and about Richard Franklin, is that he was fantastic.

Yates was such a well-rounded, interesting, compelling, and watchable character that he feels like he’s been in more serials than he actually has been. He debuted in Terror of the Autons — often, it’s often said, introduced to the show as a potential love interest for new companion, Jo Grant (Katy Manning); a love that never came to be, though there was always a flirtation and magnetism echoing between them. Yates was in a number of much-loved stories including The Claws of Axos, The Dæmons, and The Green Death, in which he hides a pain behind his eyes as he’s forced to say goodbye to Jo as she gets engaged to someone else.

After that, Yates’ journey twists into something unseen on Doctor Who before: he becomes the betrayer, someone whose ideals are manipulated so much that he apparently turns against UNIT. In Invasion of the Dinosaurs, however, he still remains true to his friends, including the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney), Benton (John Levene), and the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee), trying to make sure they wouldn’t get hurt.

Sadly, his betrayal means he’s dismissed from UNIT, so the next time we see him, he’s trying to find himself at a retreat in Planet of the Spiders. He’s still fighting the good fight — he’s just no longer a captain. He calls in UNIT, seemingly not bothered by their animosity towards him: all that matters to Mike is that good triumphs. In some ways, then, Mike was the only member of UNIT, at least in the Third Doctor era, who was truly allowed to grow, to become more than solely the soldier.

The last time we see Franklin in Doctor Who properly was The Five Doctors, playing a phantom in the Tower of Rassilon — not the real Mike, but it was good to see our old captain again nonetheless.

But Franklin wasn’t finished with Doctor Who, of course; he even appeared in audio adventures, including Big Finish’s The Third Doctor Adventures and UNIT: Assembled. He even met the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) in Paul Magrs’ The Nest Cottage Chronicles, i.e. Hornets’ Nest, Demon Quest, and Serpent Crest.

He loved playing Mike so much that he even wrote a novel about Yates: The Killing Stone, which sadly was never published, it having presumably been written for Target’s defunct The Companions of Doctor Who range. He even wrote, directed, and appeared in Recall UNIT at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1984. He was, it’s clear to see, a very talented man and we were lucky to have him as part of our Doctor Who universe.

Richard’s acting break came in the soap, Crossroads, in 1969, playing Joe Townsend, which followed his training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), where he won the Jenny Laird prize, awarded for “achievement in a thankless role” (and named after the actress who’d star as Neska in Planet of the Spiders). Franklin joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1963 and spent a short period in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

He’d go on to play Denis Rigg in another soap, Emmerdale, with more TV and film roles including in Blake’s 7, Dixon of Dock Green, The First Days of Spring, Twilight of the Gods, and the Star Wars movie, Rogue One.

Franklin was also deeply religious, converting from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism later in life, as well as being politically minded — indeed, he stood as a parliamentary candidate during several general elections, founded the Silent Majority Party, and wrote Forest Wisdom: Radical Reform of Democracy and the Welfare State.

I met him a number of years ago at a Doctor Who convention. I was a little anxious about this meeting — I always loved Mike Yates, so meeting the actor behind the character was somewhat intimidating — but I shouldn’t have been: despite the place being crowded, the queue stretching out behind me, he was warm and friendly, shaking my hand and giving me time; he seemed a bit amazed that he should be such a draw for fans.

But perhaps that was the magic of Mike Yates and of Richard Franklin. He had that warmth, that twinkle in his eye, and I’m not sure he ever appreciated just how good he really was.

Goodbye, Captain. We shall miss you.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Richard’s family and friends.

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Reviewed: Big Finish’s Eleventh Doctor Chronicles Volume 6 – Victory of the Doctor Wed, 14 Feb 2024 00:11:00 +0000

The sixth and final volume of Big Finish’s The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles concludes the run of Series 7V, bringing the epic 14-part story arc to an explosive climax with peak storytelling and Daleks galore! Yes, we finally have the long-awaited showdown between the Eleventh Doctor (voiced by Jacob Dudman) and the multicoloured New Dalek Paradigm. Victory of the Doctor, as a boxset, couldn’t be a better way to give Valarie Lockwood (Safiyya Ingar) an emotional, tearjerking farewell.

When Series 5’s Victory of the Daleks first aired, back in 2010, I wasn’t completely sold on the New Paradigm Daleks — not just the multicoloured designs, but also the direction the episode took by having them unnecessarily exterminate the ones they deemed “inferior.” As I’ve been saying for years, even before returning in the Series 7 opener Asylum of the Daleks, they could’ve just used them as backup. And Big Finish has finally answered my prayers.

(This review contains spoilers for the previous boxsets – Geronimo!All of Time and Space, and Everywhere and Anywhere – and Broken Hearts. And don’t tell River Song that I’ve been peeking through her diary!)

The boxset opens with Didn’t You Kill My Mother?, by John Dorney, which involves Valarie in a legal battle with Arabella Hendricks (Lara Lemon), while the Doctor acts as an arbiter alongside his colleague, Tim (Homer Todiwala). An experimental four-hander, almost like a stage play, dealing with the events of The Inheritance (from Geronimo!) that culminated in the death of Valarie’s mother Patricia, the script keeps you thrilled with suspense as everything unravels. And with a few references to the Ellery Quest novels from All of Time and Space (i.e. the episode), the performances and worldbuilding brilliantly set up what’s soon to come.

We then return to Medrüth in Daleks Victorious, with the planet being invaded by the titular pepperpots. It has vibes of the Series 4 finale, The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, bringing back various characters including Roanna (Mia Tomlinson), Hayden Lockwood (Christopher Ragland), Hoster (David Dobson), and the panther-like Yearn creatures (Samuel Clemens, who also voices Darthan in this episode). But more importantly, the New Dalek Paradigm make their Big Finish debut with Nicholas Briggs marvellously modulating their distinctive voices, to differentiate between the individual ranks and colour codes.

After writing The Galois Group (Short Trips Volume 12), which takes place between All of Time and Space and The Yearn, Felicia Barker has received an opportunity to “ELEVATE!” Series 7V to a whole new level. Her script does the New Paradigm Daleks proper justice by making them increasingly threatening and unpredictable, with the Doctor cleverly identifying their colours in the most hilarious way possible; orange-flavoured Smarties and Colonel White spring to mind (lovely childhood references!). And the Time Lord himself getting interrogated by his iconic enemies… pretty grim.

The emotional character-driven subplots and performances, plus Valarie and Roanna’s romantic relationship, also deserve a shoutout, as they make further progression on the overarching narrative with plenty of callbacks to previous episodes. But everything takes a drastic turn during one of the most dramatic cliffhangers ever done by Big Finish, as well as the darkest in the entirety of Series 7V. It was so terrifying, I shivered with goosebumps as I heard it for the first time. You will be completely shocked to the core.

And here we are with the de facto two-part finale, The Last Stand of Miss Valarie Lockwood and Victory of the Doctor (which aptly shares the same title as the boxset), both written by producer Alfie Shaw – who also has a cameo as the Robo-Priest. That’s how I personally perceive it, in contrast to Alfie describing them with Daleks Victorious as a three-parter of sorts in Who Review’s preview.

“They’re three quite distinct episodes, but they do all flow into one another.”

I love that it’s left open to interpretation, just like with Series 9’s Face the Raven preceding Heaven Sent/Hell Bent; a prelude leading directly into a two-parter, or three connected episodes forming a loose trilogy.

Although I won’t spoil anything about the plots for both halves, they really resolve various lingering questions throughout the overarching narrative in a wibbly wobbly, timey wimey fashion — thoroughly developed from start to finish, with emotional beats and underlying themes that bring Valarie’s journey to an end, as well as Dudman’s final appearance as the Eleventh Doctor. And it was definitely the right decision to expand the boxset to four episodes, by allowing everything to be wrapped up in two whole hours; otherwise, it would’ve been too rushed with just three episodes – like how The Wedding of River Song and The Name of the Doctor unfortunately weren’t split into two parts, in contrast to the Series 5 finale, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang.

Everything about the multicoloured New Paradigm Daleks, in this boxset, couldn’t satisfy me enough. Far superior than their original TV appearances in Victory and Asylum, allowing the Strategist (blue), Scientist (orange), and Eternal (yellow), in particular, to have more prominence. Same goes for the return of the Dalek mutant Prime Minister and the Parliament of the Daleks, after having their memories of the Doctor erased by Oswin Oswald, with the red Drone Daleks being promoted to Commander; that rank now passed on to the RTD bronze variant. And despite their notable absence in The Time of the Doctor, the boxset gives the multicoloured pepperpots a proper sense of closure.

But there’s more… the Special Weapons Daleks are back! This time given the RTD style bronze design treatment by James Johnson (@ThePrydonian), who also worked on the “Reborn” New Paradigm variants. It’s really great to see these CGI designs featured on Caroline Tankersley’s outstanding cover artwork. I’ve always had such fondness for the Special Weapons Dalek, ever since its debut in Remembrance of the Daleks, followed by cameos in Asylum and the Series 9 opener, The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar. Here’s hoping for more appearances, either on audio or TV!

As a fan of Valarie Lockwood, it’s heartbreaking to see her go. Safiyya Ingar has delivered a stellar performance with energy and emotion, throughout the entire boxset. Well, the whole of Series 7V is to their credit for Valarie’s character development. Tragically losing her mother in The Inheritance, with Hendricks being responsible; falling in love with Roanna in The Yearn; having her cybernetic enhancements taken apart in Curiosity Shop, and later blaming the Doctor in Broken Hearts; seemingly killed off for real in All’s Fair, whilst meeting her husband Hayden; overpowering the Cybermen in Sins of the Flesh; and standing with the Doctor against the Daleks. A strong, original companion.

And what can I say about Jacob Dudman? Ever since watching him in The Great Curator, which also featured Jon Culshaw, I knew from the start he would end up doing Big Finish audios. His uncanny Matt Smith impression never disappoints. The way how Dudman captures the vocals, mannerisms, and emotions of this incarnation perfectly illustrates Smith’s onscreen portrayal in every single Eleventh Doctor boxset and individual release he has appeared in. And having him do a full 14-part story arc, across four volumes, is the best approach to giving him a big finish (no pun intended) and a fond farewell. But don’t worry, we’ll be hearing him again for one last time in the forthcoming third Twelfth Doctor Chronicles volume, You Only Die Twice.

Victory of the Doctor, overall, is a perfect conclusion to Series 7V. The best volume in The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles range, which majestically brings justice for the New Dalek Paradigm and gives Valarie Lockwood proper closure. Would it be wrong for me to say that it is, by far, the best Big Finish release of 2024? And furthermore, Series 7V has already become one of my favourite serialised arcs ever produced, right up there with the Dalek Universe saga. A perfect bridge between The Snowmen and The Bells of Saint John, coinciding with the Doctor’s search for Clara Oswald across time and space. It builds upon what I wish Steven Moffat had done for the entirety of Series 7, as showrunner, during the lead up to the 50th anniversary: serialisation and dramatic cliffhangers, with an epic two-part finale. The perfect approach for Series 7V, which supersedes the standalone storytelling format of the first two volumes.

I’d also like to say a big thank you to Jacob Dudman and Safiyya Ingar, plus all the cast members, for bringing these characters to life. Same to Helen Goldwyn and Nicholas Briggs for your outstanding directing, Borna Matosic and Jamie Robertson for the scores, Caroline Tankersley for the cover artworks, Lee Adams for the sound design (who’s also known for The Dalek That Time Forgot fan animated serial), and Alfie Shaw for shaping up the series and bringing together all the writers. None of this would’ve been possible without the amazing cast and crew at Big Finish.

Victory of the Doctor is available now from Big Finish.

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Out Now: Doctor Who Magazine Celebrates Its 600th Issue! Tue, 13 Feb 2024 00:02:00 +0000

Doctor Who Magazine‘s 600th issue is available in shops now!

This celebratory issue includes a 16-page supplement, an exclusive art card, a specially commissioned diorama featuring figures from the recent series, and a four-hour long Sixth Doctor audio drama for every reader.

But what’s inside? All of this:

  • Millie Gibson checks in with DWM following the debut of companion Ruby Sunday in The Church on Ruby Road.
  • UNIT regulars Jemma Redgrave (Kate Lethbridge-Stewart), Alexander Devrient (Colonel Ibrahim), and Ruth Madeley (Shirley Anne Bingham) face questions from the TARDIS Tin.
  • Production designer Phil Sims takes us on a guided tour of UNIT’s central London HQ!
  • We talk to DWM writers about their experiences interviewing the stars of Doctor Who for early issues of the magazine.
  • International Who! A special report on how the series has become a hit in Spain!
  • Meet Christina Rotondo – the singer who gave voice to Janis Goblin!
  • We pay tribute to Richard Franklin who died on Christmas Day – and examine the impact he had as UNIT officer Captain Mike Yates.
  • We talk to production runner Thani Subkhi about his vital work on the upcoming series.
  • Letter from the Showrunner – Russell T Davies gives us an update on the progress being made on the next two series!
  • Time-Space Visualiser – discover the secret recipe for sky-high ratings!
  • The Fact of Fiction – we examine the opening episodes of 1973’s Planet of the Daleks.
  • The adventures of the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby Sunday continue in the comic strip!
  • Gallifrey Guardian – all the latest official news.
  • Reviews – covering books, audio dramas and games.
  • Other Worlds – the essential guide to new stories in Doctor Who’s expanded universe.
  • Win The Daleks in Colour, Blu-ray box sets, books, and audio dramas!

Doctor Who Magazine #600 is out now, priced £10.99 (in the UK). A digital edition is also available from, priced £9.99.

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Peter Capaldi Reflects on the Popularity of Fan Favourite Doctor Who Episode, Heaven Sent Mon, 12 Feb 2024 00:12:00 +0000

Peter Capaldi appeared on the Where There’s A Will, There’s A Wake podcast recently and reflected on the popularity of the Doctor Who episode, Heaven Sent, which as the Twelfth Doctor he played almost entirely as a one-hander.

The Steven Moffat-penned and Rachel Talalay-directed episode is considered one of the show’s masterpieces by many fans, and features the Doctor navigating a castle (and his grief) as he is very slowly pursued by the Veil, a near-silent creature hidden mostly from sight by its veil and played by Jami Reid-Quarrell.

To fill 54 minutes with a single actor delivering most of the script and occupying almost all of the screen time required a very special performance from Capaldi, creative directing from Talalay, and of course a script from Moffat where enough happened to maintain audience interest while also being structured in such a way where the focus was always on the emotion – particularly grief – rather than the action.

“It was very unusual. It was beautifully directed by Rachel Talalay, who’s a lovely American lady.

“You’ve got to talk about monsters and it’s a sort of circus – kids love it and everybody’s got to be entertained but actually underneath it all, there’s a sense of melancholy and death.

“That particular episode’s just all about death and I think that’s fascinating that that episode became the all-time favourite.”

Heaven Sent was even an immediate hit with audiences whose own lives meant they would have nothing to resonate with in a grief-led story, such as younger viewers. Capaldi went on:

“[Young Doctor Who fans are] smart in the sense they understand instinctively that there’s darkness and there are things around and the monsters are manifestations of that.”

“But also the fact that the central character in Doctor Who will die – even though they come back as somebody else, the one that you love has gone, and that’s a very compelling and powerful thing to have at the centre of a show.”

Capaldi, who is now 65 years old and was 57 when Heaven Sent was broadcast, is still very busy as an actor and has reasserted that he won’t be returning to the role of the Doctor on television. He very specifically cited that medium in response to Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant playing the Fourteenth Doctor in the 60th anniversary specials, so didn’t address the possibility of following Tennant into working with Big Finish for Doctor Who audio productions.

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The Doctor Who Appreciation Society’s Celestial Toymaker and Adventure in Space and Time Event Sun, 11 Feb 2024 00:01:00 +0000

I was really upset and annoyed that I had to miss the previous screening of An Adventure in Space and Time and Episode 4 of The Celestial Toymaker (i.e. The Final Test), which was the last of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society‘s screenings at Riverside in 2023. Set for the 24th November, it coincided with a train strike and so I couldn’t make it. But I was really pleased when DWAS announced that another screening was planned because so many people were annoyed that they’d had to miss out and, deciding that I wasn’t going to miss out a second time, I booked a ticket instantly!

The previous screening had included David Bradley and Peter Purves as well as a few extra guests and thanks to my kind friend Maria she managed to grab me an autograph from David Bradley as well as one from Frances White, who had guest starred in The Myth Makers. So I was excited to see who DWAS managed to secure this time around and we weren’t let down. David Bradley’s co-stars, Claudia Grant, Jamie Glover, and Sacha Dhawan were in attendance alongside Carole Ann Ford, director Waris Hussein, and cameraman Dudley Dardby with one of the surviving extras from The Celestial Toymaker. It was a fantastic line up of guests and each time I think that DWAS can’t top the guests from the previous event, they effortlessly do.

Making my way to Hammersmith is slowly becoming second nature to me now, even if the tube can be a little confusing to us country folk! Luckily, I got there with plenty of time to spare and it was a lot of fun to see people enjoying the exhibit of photos that Riverside Studios had put up to celebrate the show’s 60th anniversary last year; there was also really amazing ’60s TARDIS model! It’s always nice to see people that I recognise from other events as well as from Twitter, and I’m pleased, too, that I’m getting better at talking to people, something I wouldn’t say I was overly confident doing.

The event kicked off with a showing of The Final Test, the fourth, final, and only surviving episode of The Celestial Toymaker. It’s a strange story, no doubt let down by the fact the previous three instalments don’t exist beyond their audio recordings and is an incredibly visual story that doesn’t lend itself to being translated into audio. It’s also strange because the Doctor isn’t really in it and while a lot of the plot revolves around Steven and Dodo surviving one final game, they don’t get a lot of screen time. Instead, whole minutes are eaten up by shots of the Trilogic Game, which is an element I’ve never understood in this story.

However as with a lot of these Riverside/DWAS screenings, it gives you a chance to see the show in a different way. I know I always mention it but it’s really interesting to see episodes of Doctor Who without any restoration work done on them, wrinkles and warping and all. Of course, the ending got a huge laugh, with the Doctor foolishly trying one of the sweets from the Toymaker’s realm. I got so into it, I was half expecting the first episode of The Gunfighters to be up next!

But instead, it was An Adventure in Space and Time which originally aired in 2013, a dramatized retelling of the origins of Doctor Who. I’ve only seen this a few times, once when it originally aired, once on a rewatch of the modern era, and then in November 2023 when they released a new version with Ncuti Gatwa appearing at the end instead of Matt Smith. Of course, in keeping with DWAS showing things as originally as possible, it was the Matt Smith version on offer here and so it’s unfortunate that no one has quickly reedited the ending so the CGI places Smith behind the TARDIS console instead of behind it!

Of course, that doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of it and I found myself laughing along with the other fans there. Another great thing about these events — alongside those held by the BFI — is that you notice how funny certain lines or scenes are and often gives you a new perspective on stories. There were a number of brilliant comedic scenes in the beginning of An Adventure in Space and Time which got lots of laughs.

Following the screening, the guests were introduced on stage with Carole Ann Ford adding commentary from the audience, mainly due I think to the lack of chairs on the main stage. Hosted by author James Goss, the guests spoke about their work on An Adventure in Space and Time. Jamie Glover and Claudia Grant talked about how they found it challenging not only having to play William Russell and Carole Ann Ford but also playing Ian and Susan. And how there was a lot more to that than people might think. They both agreed that their work with Big Finish is now a lot easier because they are playing those characters and not the actors and how happy and privileged they feel that they get to continue the adventures of the First Doctor.

They also spoke to the actors about when they met their counterparts to ask them about their time on the show in the 1960s. Claudia said that Carole Ann Ford was incredibly helpful and Carole was in high spirits too, complimenting the performance and how happy she was to see the moment William Hartnell leaves flowers in her dressing room following an argument over money. It was emotional hearing her talking about those memories and how they marked a turning point in their relationship as actors. It was also quite emotional to hear from her how vulnerable Hartnell really was. On screen and from some actors, both main and guest cast, he can come across as a little brash and angry, every bit the grouchy old man he was playing. But Carole Ann Ford described a man who was so desperate to get everything right. That was the reason he took it so seriously, especially when the BBC didn’t — he saw this as his big chance. An Adventure in Space and Time made a big point of him taking the show because it meant he didn’t have to play army personal anymore and Carole reiterated that Doctor Who was his chance to demonstrate to the world that he was a lot more than just an angry army sergeant; he was a talented actor who was the unfortunate victim of typecasting.

Of course, a lot of this is well known information but to hear it from someone who knew the man well made it a lot more emotive. She agreed that William Hartnell could be hard to work with especially as at the time they weren’t aware of him being ill, something which doesn’t show in the first series; but as the show goes on, you can see how unwell he was becoming. Waris Hussein added that he never had a problem with Hartnell — in fact, the hardest time he had was him and producer Verity Lambert trying to convince him to take on the role and he could well remember how frightened he was sat opposite him in the Chinese restaurant. Hussein was quick to reiterate that he never had an issue with Hartnell as an Indian director working for the BBC: all of the hassle he received unfortunately came from those in charge of the BBC. Indeed, it was also tough to hear him talking about how Verity Lambert would get stared at for walking down the office in a time of male producers and directors and she would wear a hat so that she could tell herself that people were staring at her hat and not at her. It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go, especially as it’s still a male dominated industry.

Sacha Dhawan spoke happily about meeting Hussein and being invited to his house. When he got there, he saw all the original documents that he still had for An Unearthly Child — it was amazing to hear that they still exist, even if Dhawan didn’t manage to pocket any… which he said he was tempted to do!

DWAS always get good guests and the interviews are always informative; even if it’s the same stories being told again and again, they always find a way of making it feel like it’s the first time you’ve heard it. While I decided to not get a photo with the guests, my friend Maria and I both went to the autograph tables. I decided to get Jamie Glover and Claudia Grant to sign my print with David Bradley’s autograph on it; Jamie was glad to hear about how well Adventure went down and Claudia was chatting to me about the Big Finish releases of theirs, which have gotten better and better — their historical stories are some of the best tales Big Finish has ever told.

Next up was Sacha Dhawan who I was slightly nervous to meet. I was already surprised by how short he was. Both Maria and I said we think it’s because his portrayal of the Master was so larger than life that we assumed he must be the same. But he was a delight to meet, telling me that I had a lovely name. I thanked him and asked him if taking the role of the Master was an easy “yes” or if he had to think about it first. He did say it was a very quick “yes” — he always loved the character of the Master so it was a delight to get to play the role but he was also told by his partner that he needs to work in Doctor Who because it was so fun. What also swung the role for him was getting to spend a few weeks on location in South Africa so he could get a little holiday out of it too! He was lovely to meet and was definitely the highlight of my trip.

Also delightful was Warris Hussein, who didn’t really say a lot but he was pleased when I thanked him for making something 60 years ago that means so much to so many people. He was genuinely pleased by that comment and it’s true: no one then would have thought Doctor Who was going to last beyond the first series, let alone for the next 60 years! Waris told me that we are very welcome; of all the things he worked on, he’s happy that Doctor Who is something he’s the best remembered for.

It was another great event from DWAS with a fantastic guest list. It’s always so lovely to be surrounded by people who have the same interest as you. It’s easy to strike up conversations with people there and it’s lovely to see people you recognise from social media. And of course it’s fantastic to meet the fabulous guests there too! I’m looking forward to seeing what DWAS are doing next at Riverside…

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Millie Gibson Calls the “Sixties Episode” Her Favourite of Doctor Who Series 14 Sat, 10 Feb 2024 00:14:00 +0000

Millie Gibson, who plays Fifteenth Doctor companion, Ruby Sunday, has said that the episode of Doctor Who Series 14 set in the 1960s is her favourite of the season.

She enthuses:

“The sixties episode will blow people away. I think that’s my favourite, personally. It’s a really cool episode with cool costumes. Any of the era episodes are always pretty iconic, aren’t they?

“It’s good because it’s usually only the companions that get new costumes but that season, the Doctor changes his outfit as well. I’m always blown away by the make-up team and the costume team, they’re so good.”

Indeed, we’ve seen the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby sporting very Sixties attire, and both are looking fantastic. The Doctor has swapped outfits for the time period occasionally in the past — the Fourth Doctor fashioned himself after Sherlock Holmes for The Talons of Weng Chiang, the Eleventh went all Victorian for The Snowmen, and the First Doctor prepared for The Reign of Terror with an extravagant look.

This “sixties episode” is due to be screened as the second in Series 14, directed by Ben Chessell, called The Devil’s Chord and featuring a massive battle at Abbey Road. Oh, plus the Beatles, naturally.

Millie also confirms that she’s in Series 15, enthusing about “Ruby’s season two look”; she’s expected to appear in at least three episodes of the 2025 run, before a new companion joins the TARDIS.

But for now, we’re just excited to see what adventures are in store for Ruby and the Doctor!

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Matt Smith Reflects on the Price of Fame: “Doctor Who Was Quite Discombobulating” Fri, 09 Feb 2024 00:11:00 +0000

Being thrust into the limelight is a daunting thing for anyone, let alone when starring in one of the best known franchises in the world, so it’s interesting to hear Matt Smith, who played the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who, reflect on how he deals with such fame.

The 41-year-old actor, currently starring at the Duke of York’s theatre, London, for An Enemy of the People (from 6th February to 6th April), says his friendships keep him grounded:

“Yeah, my two best friends, Alex and Nick. We lived in the same street as children. They’ve been very important to me in my life. Especially when you get a job like Doctor Who, which thrusts you overnight into a completely different atmosphere. It’s quite discombobulating. Suddenly, people recognise you.”

Indeed, it sounds as if he thinks fame isn’t really for him, but it’s a useful way of doing what you want to do. He goes on:

“I’m a firm believer in trying to commit to keeping things as everyday as possible. I had a nice talk with the cab driver on the way here. ‘What are you up to?’ he asked. I was listening to Talk Radio. I said: ’What do you mean? I’m off to work.’ And he said: ‘I know that, but what are you doing?’ I was, like: ’Oh, sorry mate, of course…’”

Matt played the Eleventh Doctor between 2010 and 2013, Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary year, with a cameo in Peter Capaldi’s first full episode, Deep Breath, too.

And since then, his career has included some hits — like The Crown and House of the Dragon — alongside a few misses. Nonetheless, Smith is consistently great, and it’s wonderful to hear he’s still grounded and committed to the arts.

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Doctor Who Series 14 Was Once Planned to Start Airing in January, But FX Caused Delays Thu, 08 Feb 2024 00:14:00 +0000

The next series of Doctor Who, starring Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson, was initially planned to start screening on BBC1 and Disney+ in January 2024, before being delayed.

In the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, showrunner Russell T Davies says that he’d wished Series 14 had followed the Christmas Day special, The Church on Ruby Road:

“There’s still a lot of work to do. Tons and tons. In an ideal world, we might have followed The Church on Ruby Road with a full series of Ncuti and Millie in January, and believe me, we tried. Way back in 2022, we juggled schedules and budgets and capacity, but… nope. We’d have ended up spending money on the rush, rather than on the programme itself.”

So what’s caused the delay? Davies reveals it’s actually all the FX work:

“It’s the FX, really; people keep telling me how fast and easy FX are, and I hear the distant sobs of our FX teams. This stuff takes ages! Look at that gorgeous UNIT Tower. The Not-things. The Meep! It’s months and months of hard work, and well worth the wait.”

So if that had all gone to plan, we’d have been enjoying brand new adventures for the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby Sunday by now! But, on the other hand, with the schedule as it is, we’ve got all that to look forward to, and the wait until the next Christmas special afterwards won’t seem quite as brutal…

Nonetheless, it would’ve been cool to get more of the Doctor to kick-start the year.

Either way, we’ve got nine episodes of Doctor Who to get excited about, with Series 14 debuting instead this spring. Ah, we can’t complain really. It’s going to be worth it…

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Mandip Gill Seemingly Confirms That Varada Sethu Is the New Doctor Who Companion Wed, 07 Feb 2024 00:01:00 +0000

Mandip Gill, who played Yasmin Khan, companion to the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), has seemingly — albeit accidentally — confirmed that Varada Sethu has been cast as the new companion in Doctor Who Series 15.

Though Sethu’s casting as an as-yet-unnamed companion to the Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) remains pure rumour right now, Gill was asked at the Radio Times Covers Party 2024 about Varada. Mandip said:

“I actually have messaged Varada, just a general ‘enjoy it’ because it goes so fast and it was what I wanted to hear… There’s no actual advice, but I’m sure she’s going to be absolutely amazing. But yeah, really enjoy it because time does fly when you’re having fun.”

Sethu has been seen filming with Gatwa on location, dressed in 1950s garb, so the smart money is on her being the next companion after Ruby Sunday, Millie Gibson apparently leaving the show after Series 14 (due to air later this year) and the first few episodes of Series 15, at least reportedly.

The BBC hasn’t responded to any such speculation. Mandip might’ve just messages Sethu based on those rumours, which originated in the tabloid newspaper, The Mirror, or perhaps she’s heard more than we have from behind-the-scenes sources. Either way, it seems likely that she’s bang on the money. Indeed, the Radio Times is reporting on it as fact!

Gill, of course, played Yaz throughout the Thirteenth Doctor era, debuting in The Woman Who Fell to Earth and leaving at the conclusion of The Power of the Doctor.

If the rumours are correct, Varada will debut in 2025 opposite the Fifteenth Doctor, with Ruby seemingly bowing out after three episodes of Series 15.

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