Virtually in the TARDIS

BOUNDARIES are being pushed as the Doctor discovers the new world of virtual reality.

Fans will be able to step inside a VR version of the TARDIS in a new immersive adventure called Doctor Who: The Runaway, according to BBC VR Hub head Zillah Watson.

“Our team at the BBC VR Hub has been creating new experiences with the goal of helping to usher virtual reality into the mainstream, and Doctor Who is exactly the sort of series that can help more people to try this new technology,” Zillah said.

“The show has been pushing boundaries for over 55 years, and VR enables Doctor Who to explore a whole new dimension of storytelling.”

The new original story will see Jodie Whittaker voice an animated version of the Thirteenth Doctor and will also feature brand new music from Doctor Who composer Segun Akinola.

Viewers will join Thirteen on board the TARDIS for the 12-minute animated interactive story – written by Victoria Asare-Archer and created as a co-production between the BBC and Passion Animation studios. It will be available on selected VR headsets in coming months, according to BBC Digital Drama creative director Jo Pearce.

Jodie Whittaker becomes very animated in her next adventure as the Doctor.

Jo said viewers would get a chance to be in the TARDIS with the Doctor and help her on an exciting adventure – finding themselves at the centre of the action facing a deadly threat.

“Fans will experience the TARDIS like never before in this thrilling new interactive story,” she said.

“As ever, the Doctor is full of warmth, wit and charm – helped by a wonderful performance from Jodie – which puts fans at the heart of the story as they immerse themselves in this beautifully animated world.”

The Runaway is directed by Mathias Chelebourg, whose previous VR films include Alice, the Virtual Reality Play and The Real Thing VR. It has been produced by the BBC’s digital drama team, BBC VR Hub and Passion Animation Studios.

Farewell to Pat Gorman

One of the unsung heroes of Doctor Who, Pat Gorman, has died the way he lived – quietly this past October, as confirmed by UK Equity this past week.

Gorman appeared in so many episodes of Who over the years that legend has it script editor Terrance Dicks joked it was in the BBC Charter that they couldn’t make an episode of the series without Gorman in it.

His name wasn’t always in the credits but his face was often in the crowd – he had 73 minor roles in the show during the ’60s. In fact, he often popped up in all sorts of BBC shows from the ’60s through to the late ’90s, sometime just in the background or other times chiming in with a “Yes sir”, a nod or perhaps even just to deliver the milk.

Born in England, he is best known for his work on The Elephant Man (1980) as a “Fairground Bobby”; the movie’s star, John Hurt, of course went on to become the War Doctor. His other notable performances came in the 1989 version of Batman, Z Cars, Fawlty Towers, I Claudius and Blake’s 7. His final credited performance was in the television series Soldier Soldier in 1994.

But it was his performances between 1964 and 1985 in Doctor Who that will be most remembered. He played a Silurian in The Silurians (1970), a Primitive in Colony in Space (1971), a Sea Devil in The Sea Devils (1972) and a pilot in The Armageddon Factor (1979) among his many many roles. He was often a soldier, guard or policeman – only six other actors have appeared in more Doctor Who serials than him.

Gareth David-Lloyd talks gaming

GARETH David-Lloyd’s Ianto Jones was a flirt and a tease – in his own way.

But nothing compares to the Torchwood actor himself. The first time I interviewed him was just before the screening of series three of Torchwood. I had been sent just the first two episodes so was blissfully unaware that Ianto would buy the farm in the third and he played on that – big time, not in a mean way (it was one of the best and most fun interviews I’ve done in a three-decade career).

But he no-one could ever accuse him of breaking confidentiality and he got me big time. My story came out the day before the series went out without a hint of Ianto’s death and it was as big of a shock to this journalist as the rest of the fan base.

Now he’s done it again – most probably.

Late last year, as he prepared to come to Australia again for Supanova in Brisbane, we talked again.

He was quieter this time, more grown up – a dad now – not just weeks from his wedding last time and I thought I’d got a great honest interview.

But once again he was holding his cards close to his chest.

This time the question was about his roles in Dragon Age, the BioWare game where he followed in Torchwood cast mate Eve Myles’ footsteps and played and Elf.

“It’s Eve’s fault I got Dragon Age,” he’d joked.

“She was cast and they liked the accent – so all of the Elves are Welsh or Celtic.

“That’s why Solace has that nice Welsh cadence.”

And why, he explained, he got the part.

We talked about how much he enjoyed it – how different it was – and I asked the question, would you do more Dragon Age if you could?

He said yes he would, but there were no immediate plans.

Over Christmas my excited Torchwood/Dragon Age fangirl daughter almost bounced out of her skin – a teaser trailer had dropped for the fourth game in the series and guess who it seems the main villain is?

He’d got me again.

Though to be fair, looking back, he’d hesitated when I asked.

But not only does it look like he is back, but (spoilers) it seems Solace could now be tied to the main bad guy – Dread Wolf – in a fourth game that is still heavily under wraps, despite a teaser and a rumoured release date of the Australian spring – this year.

At the time he had been more talkative about his “other project”, Black River Meadow – a piece he had written, produced and crowdfunded for release on YouTube.

He joined forces with Twisted Showcase web anthology creator and writer Robin Bell to create Dark Valley Productions and bring the world of Black River Meadow to computer screens around the world. It is hoped that the trilogy (which featured his daughter in episode one) will be successful enough to become a full-length television drama.

“There is so much mystery and drama in the Welsh Valleys and the Brecon Beacons,” he said in our interview at Supanova and repeats on the Black River Meadows webpage.

“When conditions are just so. When the mist hangs in such a way that paths dissolve, valleys breath and mountains sway, feelings of awe, dread, wonder and terror can consume a person.”

Black River Meadow I: The Hiding can be viewed below. The Kickstarter campaign for Black River Meadow II: The Lure will be launched on 26 February.

The Daleks Are Coming

BBC Books will publish novelisations of two classic Doctor Who stories never released in book form before.

The Fifth Doctor’s Resurrection Of The Daleks and the Sixth Doctor’s Revelation of the Daleks are both set for release later in the year.

Both adventures will be novelised by original scriptwriter Eric Saward, one of the show’s longest-serving script editors. These stories are the only two classic-era Doctor Who adventures not in book form already and their publication more than three decades after their first transmission will fill a long-held gap in fans’ collections.

Saward, who has written for both radio and television, script edited Who for five years as well as writing four original stories. He is no stranger to novelisations of scripts, writing four during his time with the show as well as writing the first ever Doctor Who radio serial.

A jack of all trades, he has just finished a graphic novel based around the adventures of Lytton and has relished revisiting two of his best-known scripts.

“ ‘Resurrecting’ these tales may turn out to be a greater ‘Revelation’ than you’d expect!” he quipped in the announcement press release.

The books come in the wake of the success of the new-era Target novelisations last year.

BBC Books Publishing Director Albert DePetrillo acquired world rights from the author directly. Hardback editions will be published in the UK in July (Resurrection) and November (Revelation) this year, with paperback editions to follow as part of the Target range in 2020.

Resurrection of the Daleks

Synopsis: The Universe is at war. Action takes Courage.

The Doctor and companions Brisbane-girl Tegan and the mysterious Turlough, stumble on a warehouse harbouring fugitives from the future and they are soon all under attack from a Dalek assault force. It seems the Doctor’s oldest enemies have set in motion a plot to resurrect their race from the ashes of an interstellar war. However, for their plans to succeed they must set their creator Davros free from prison and force a reluctant Doctor to help them achieve total control over time and space. But Davros has plans of his own.

Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks

Synopsis: Beware the hands that heal…

The Doctor and Peri land on the planet Necros to visit the funerary home Tranquil Repose – where the dead are interred and the near-dead placed in suspended animation until such time as their conditions can be cured.

But the Great Healer of Tranquil Repose is far from benign and under his command, Daleks guard the catacombs where sickening experiments are conducted on human bodies. The new life he offers the dying comes at a terrible cost – and the Doctor and Peri are being lured into a trap that will change them forever.

 

R.I.P. Clive Swift, 1936-2019

DUAL Doctor Who guest star Clive Swift has died at the age of 82 after a short illness.

Swift was best known as the long-suffering Richard Bucket in the British comedy series Keeping Up Appearances.

However, for fans of Doctor Who he will be remembered for his appearance in 1985 with Sixth Doctor Colin Baker in Revelation of the Daleks, where he played Jobel, the chief embalmer of Tranquil Repose of Necros.

But Swift may be even better remembered for his second Who appearance, where he played Bayldon Copper – a clueless Earth historian and employee aboard the Titanic opposite Tenth Doctor David Tennant and Kylie Minogue in the 2007 Christmas special Voyage of the Damned.

Clive Walter Swift was born in Liverpool in 1936. He and elder brother David (also an actor) were educated at Clifton College before Clive when up to study English literature at Cambridge University, eventually becoming a teacher at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

His television and film career started in the ’60s and included a filmed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1968 with a cast that included Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren and Ian Richardson. He regularly appeared in the BBC Comedy series Dig This Rhubarb and regular TV roles followed, including playing Major Bagstock in Dombey and Son, Inspector Waugh in Thirty-Minute Theatre and Albert Benbow in Clayhanger.

In 1982 he played Bishop Proudie in the BBC adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Chronicles.

But his breakout role didn’t come until later in life. From 1990-1995 he starred in 42 episodes of the British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances playing Hyacinth Bucket’s long-suffering husband, Richard. Written by Roy Clarke and starring Patricia Routledge, the series has become the BBC’s best-selling series in its long history, seen around the world.

Swift was married to novelist Margaret Drabble between 1960 and 1975 and was father to daughter Rebecca, who died in April 2017. He is survived by his two sons and four grandchildren.

Billie Piper reprises Rose in new audio spin-off

ROSE Tyler is back again, but this time she is without the Doctor.

Billie Piper, who gave birth to her third child over Christmas, has signed on to return for a new audio spin-off due out at the end of 2019. Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon is one the latest audio series from Big Finish Productions in association with BBC Studios.

Producer David Richardson said the new audios would follow Rose’s journey through dying parallel worlds. The audios will also star Camille Coduri as her mother Jackie, Shaun Dingwall as Pete Tyler, Mark Benton as alien investigator Clive Finch and Elli Garnett as Caroline Finch.

Explaining how the new series came about, Richardson said, “I approached Russell T Davies with the idea of Big Finish making a Rose Tyler spin-off.

“He was very enthusiastic – as always – and suggested we followed Rose’s journey that ultimately leads to her finding the Doctor in The Stolen Earth. I found the proposal irresistible, and instantly script editor Matt Fitton and I were throwing around ideas. There is a whole multiverse of possibilities. Russell suggested including Jackie and Pete, and embraced my idea of including a parallel universe version of Clive – who of course was killed off in the TV series (in the 2005 episode Rose).”

He said Davies guided them through the development “steering us towards ideas that worked brilliantly, ensuring things that needed improvement were fixed, and also throwing out the ideas that didn’t work.”

“I’m absolutely delighted with what we have – a family drama about the end of worlds. It’s about love and loss and things that might have been – and our brilliant cast have embraced the emotional scripts,” Richardson said.

“What we have is different from previous iterations. It’s rather dark (though never short on wit and charm) but it’s not really about villains. It focuses on the fight to survive against the odds, and on the power of family and love.”

The four episodes follow Rose’s mission to seek out the Doctor, the only person who can save the doomed multiverse.

  1. The Endless Night by Jonathan Morris
  2. The Flood by Lisa McMullin
  3. Ghost Machines by AK Benedict
  4. The Last Party on Earth by Matt Fitton

Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon will be available from the DWCA Shop in November of this year. Three audio adventures alongside the Tenth Doctor – Infamy of the Zaross, Sword of the Chevalier and Cold Vengeance – are available now.

Knowing the Score: We chat with Segun Akinola

Imagine being told you had the job of a lifetime while standing in the liquor section of your local supermarket.

Doctor Who’s latest musical composer, British-Nigerian Segun Akinola, chuckles when he tells that story and you know he will be dining out on it for years to come.

“I was in the wine aisle when I got this call from Chris – there was a lot of background noise,” he said. And though it was offered, there was no chance that Segun was going to take the call later – because let’s face it, when you get a life changing phone call you hang up!

“It was really surreal. I was just walking up and down the aisle thinking I should just buy the mulled wine and go home.”

The phone call was the end of what had been a long audition process which included putting together a piece of music for the show – a piece that obviously impressed both Chris Chibnall and fellow Executive Producer Matt Strevens ,as it became the Doctor’s theme.

And so it was that the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire alumni was chosen to replace the beloved Murray Gold, who had been the man behind the music of the show since it returned. And with him he has brought a new sound to the program using everything from Punjabi musicians (recorded at Abbey Road) to dub-step and music to evoke the US in the ’50s.

They were big shoes for Segun, who had initially learned the piano and drums at an early age before turning his attention to composition, graduating from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with first-class honours and the National Film and Television School with an MA in Composing for Film and Television, before being part of the BAFTA Breakthrough Brit program in 2017.

And while his selection was a surprise for fans, it wasn’t entirely unexpected.

“I’ve done quite a bit of work with the BBC,” he explained and so when he was asked to audition it was not entirely shocking.

“But it’s not every Wednesday morning you find out you are being considered for Doctor Who.”

A meeting with Matt Strevens and Skyping with Chris Chibnall and it became apparent that they already knew his work on Black and British: A Forgotten History and Exhibition Volcano and he felt “welcome from the start” despite not really being a fan of the show.

“I hadn’t really watched Doctor Who – I always knew about it, it is such an important part of British Society,” he explained.

“I knew about it musically, I knew about Murray Gold and what he’d done with bringing this great orchestral sound to the small screen.

“But I didn’t have anyone in my social group saying, ‘watch it’.”

Of course, as he went through the selection process he began to watch and is now a fan.

However, coming from the outside may have helped the young composer, who explained that both Strevens and Chibnall wanted him to put his own stamp on the show.

And this brings us to what is probably the most talked about part of his tenure so far – the reimagining of the theme song and THAT beat drop. Preparing for this interview, that was the question that kept coming up – ask him about the beat drop in the theme song.

Segun laughs and explained that even in the early meetings it was very apparent that Chris and Matt had the same idea he had – taking the theme back to the original, while they were also very keen to put his own stamp on the shows music and make it his own.

“They said we have people who know all about the music – bring some of yourself to them,” Segun explained.

“I always thought that if anything was going to be done to the theme song then I was thinking you had to go back to the original, which I did. But that beat-drop, that’s me, that’s who I am. I used it a few times in the first few episodes.”

And while he dropped his signature beat drop through the middle of the season, listen out for more as we head to the end – which he was still working on during this interview in late November.

And the other big question – will we see his music at big orchestral concerts like his predecessor? Well while there are no plans, the affable 20-something said it was something he’d love to see in the future – and given the different types of music used in the show this series, it would be another big challenge (something he seems to relish).

New Year’s Day is Special in 2019

CHRISTMAS will be late this year – well in the world of Doctor Who at least.

Doctor Who Magazine confirmed this year’s Christmas Special won’t be at Christmas at all but will come to the world on New Year’s Day.

The ABC is yet to announce if that will include us (though of course, that will be 2 January here anyway).

“We don’t have confirmation yet on the broadcast details for the special,” the ABC publicity department spokeswoman said when contacted this morning.

“But I’ll let you know once we do.”

A Doctor Who Christmas Special has been a regular part of the BBC Christmas Day schedule since the series returned in 2005.

The series peaked in 2007 when Kylie Minogue joined the Tenth Doctor in Voyage of the Damned watched by 13.3 million viewers. The 2017 Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time, marking the regeneration from Peter Capaldi to Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, was watched by 7.92 million.

The New Year’s Day episode marks the end of Jodie Whittaker’s first season as the Doctor. The only other recent New Year’s Day Who screening second part of The End of Time in 2010 which attracted 12.27 million viewers.

The official synopsis for the special is as follows:

As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring from across the centuries of Earth’s history. As the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz return home, will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth?

The episode has been written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Wayne Yip.

Barrowman back Down Under

JOHN Barrowman has a soft spot for Australia – he’s been here four times in the past year and if he has his way he’ll be back again in 2019.

The actor who brought the iconic Captain Jack to life in the Whoniverse, before playing DC supervillain Malcolm Merlin in Arrow is here Australia, for Supanova. Last week he took Adelaide by storm (building his own Tim Tam Jenga with husband Scott) and this weekend it will be Brisbane’s turn.

Our chat by phone is “timey wimey”. It’s 5.16pm on 23 October in Palm Springs and after 11am Sydney time on 24 October. He’s quick to point out I’m talking to him from the future, instantly relaxing both of us in a way neither probably feels.

This is one of two days off he has before he comes to Australia (perhaps before he takes time off for Christmas and downtime in January, and I’m on deadline for other projects). And yet here we are chatting like old friends who have never met – he is in an interview just what you see on stage – friendly, funny and totally natural.

He’s keen to talk about Australia, the continuing love out there for Captain Jack and how teenaged girls see his Malcolm Merlin as a father figure, even though he’s definitely no poster-child for perfect parenting.

We start with Australia and his four trips to this country this year.

“We like Australia, we think it’s a fun place to go,” he admits when I ask why.

“We are going to be in Adelaide and Brisbane for Supanova and my husband Scott is going to be planning the itinerary for our week off.”

This trip is very much a family affair, with John and Scott being joined by John’s sister author Carole Barrowman for both events.

And it’s not all Pop Culture festivals for the versatile and bubbly Barrowman – the man is an entertainer with a capital E. He sings, dances, presents and acts and earlier in the year he brought his musical talents to this country and he hopes to be back.

“Having done such a successful show in Melbourne we are looking to do it around other cities,” he said.
“The Centre where we performed is interested.

“We are yet to solidify dates but if it does happen then it will be in the year.”

And maybe it will be a chance for Barrowman and husband Scott to do a bit more house hunting in Australia.

“When we were on the Gold Coast we looked at a high-rise,” he explained. While the couple decided against that particular place, he hasn’t ruled out buying something here in Australia.

“That was just the Gold Coast. Never say never – we haven’t ruled out buying something in Australia.”

The Glasgow-born star has been spotted at Southbank in Brisbane and several places around Adelaide since arriving in the country, clearly enjoying our weather and our hospitality.

However, it is back to work now with a series of panels across the weekend including with his former Torchwood co-star Gareth David-Lloyd, who joked that John wouldn’t enjoy sharing a stage – and while that is probably not true, it is true that John Barrowman, who is fresh from filming in Vancouver and also has a role as the bad guy in the new Fireman Sam movie, loves a stage.

“I know what I was put on this planet to do and that was to entertain people,” he laughed.

“That’s why it comes easily,” he says of his over-the-top and often event-stealing panels at Cons. And don’t expect anything other than to have fun when you go to see him, he sure will.

“People can expect more or the same,” John said.

“I don’t plan anything… I just let it happen.”

And one thing he has made no secret in wanting to happen is more Captain Jack.

Is it more likely now that former Torchwood Showrunner Chris Chibnall is Who’s main man?

“If I was asked I would do it,” John said (and has said many times in the past).

“It’s up to Chris, it’s his show and as we’ve seen so far he is doing a brilliant job with Jodie and the new companions!

“He was our showrunner on Torchwood, he has a great track record and he knows Captain Jack really well!”

You can catch John Barrowman, his sister Carole and Gareth David-Lloyd at Supanova in Brisbane this weekend and, fingers-crossed, coming to a stage near you early next year.

Vale Doctor Who Producer Derrick Sherwin, 1936-2018

He was a Doctor Who jack of all trades, but Derrick Sherwin, who died on 17 October at the age of 82, will be best remembered as the man responsible for creating UNIT.

Producer Derrick Sherwin died after a long illness.

Producer Sherwin worked on Who writing scripts, producing the series for the transition between the second and Third Doctor, and even appeared in one scene, playing a Car Park Attendant in the 1970 story Spearhead from Space.

But his real legacy came in 1968 when he created the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce or UNIT for the story The Invasion.

Born in 1936, he worked first in theatre before moving into television in 1958 and appearing in the show Duty Bound. His early work in dramas including as Here Lies Miss Sabry, The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, United! and Armchair Theatre.

He joined Who as Assistant Script Editor to help the incumbent Peter Bryant who was preparing to take over as producer. It was a baptism of fire as he was immediately charged with rescuing a number of scripts which were not ready for production. He told Doctor Who Magazine.

“It was just before Christmas, and I was landed with a great pile of scripts that had to go into production immediately after the holiday break.

“The director had sent them back and said he wouldn’t do them. Pat Troughton had thrown a wobbly – they really were appalling! That set the pattern for the first three months. It was a real baptism of fire.”

He took over as Script Editor for the 1968 story The Dominators and later that year had the chance to write his own story from scratch. The result was The Invasion, the Cybermen story that set up the pattern for the series for much of the next five years. Sherwin felt the series had become too fantastical, with different monsters every week. He wanted to give the series a more grounded approach and saw as his inspiration the 1950’s Quatermass stories. To help achieve that he took a character created for the story The Web of Fear, Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, promoted him to Brigadier, and created UNIT around him.

Sherwin moved into the role of producer for the last Patrick Troughton story, The War Games, which also featured his ex-wife Jane as Lady Jennifer, and was responsible for casting the Third Doctor Jon Pertwee and overseeing the series move from black-and-white to colour.

He left the series after Spearhead in Space moving on to produce the series Paul Temple and later The Man Outside and Perils of Pendragon.

But that was not the end of his love for Doctor Who and when the show was under threat of cancellation from the BBC he offered to buy the franchise and produce it independently however he was turned down.

Sherwin died on the 17th October after a long illness.