New faces for The Faceless Ones

ONE of the missing Patrick Troughton Doctor Who stories is set for release as an animation, according to BBC Studios.

The release of The Faceless Ones, the final story to feature Michael Craze as Ben and Anneke Wills as Polly, follows the success of animated versions of The Power of The Daleks, Shada and The Macra Terror. It will be released on DVD, Blu-Ray and as an exclusive Steelbook next year, and expected to be available from the DWCA Shop.

The Faceless Ones, first broadcast in six weekly parts from April to May 1967, is the mostly missing eighth serial of the fourth season in Doctor Who. Starring Troughton, the story involves the race of identity-stealing aliens known as the Chameleons.

Only two of the six original episodes survive in the BBC film archives with only snippets of footage and still images existing from the other four.

However, off-air recordings still exist, making the animation of the complete serial possible.

The six new animated episodes will be made in full colour and high definition. The 2020 DVD and Blu-ray release will also feature surviving archive material from the 1967 production.

Judoon platoon returning soon

No! Sho! Blo! The Judoon are set to charge back into Doctor Who when Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor returns next year.

The BBC announced this week that more than twelve years after they first stampeded onto screens to terrorise the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones on the moon in 2007’s Smith and Jones, the rhino-headed intergalactic police are returning.

Showrunner Chris Chibnall said they would return for the series, currently being filmed in Gloucester.

“No! Sho! Blo! The Judoon are storming back into Doctor Who in full force, and the streets of Gloucester aren’t safe,” Chibnall explained.

“If anyone has anything to hide, confess now.

“The Judoon are taking no prisoners, and will stop at nothing to fulfil their mission! The whole team on Doctor Who are delighted and scared in equal measure to welcome them back: One of many treats we’ve got in store for viewers next series.

“And we’re over the moon (with Judoon), to be welcoming the wondrous Neil Stuke as guest star. We can’t wait to show you what happens when his path crosses with the Thirteenth Doctor.”

Stuke has an established career on stage, television and films and is a two-time Bafta nominee, whose recent credits include Doctor Foster, Silk and Silent Witness.

According to the BBC, the eleventh series of Doctor Who was the biggest series of the show in over a decade with an average audience of 8.6m viewers in the 28 days following broadcast, across all available devices.

The twelfth series of Doctor Who is currently in production.

 

New game goes to the virtual edge of time

The Doctor Who virtual universe is set to expand, with a new cinematic feature-length Doctor Who VR video game due for release in September.

The new “mission”, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time, follows hot on the heels of the recently released The Runaway – a short animated VR experience.

Published by PlayStack and developed by immersive entertainment studio Maze Theory, Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time will allow fans to embark on a brand-new and fully-interactive adventure, inspired by the show’s 55-year history and starring the Doctor’s current incarnation, played by Jodie Whittaker.

BBC Studios Digital Entertainment and Games head Bradley Crooks said VR was the perfect vehicle for Who.

“VR is the perfect home for a truly immersive Doctor Who adventure,” he said.

“Fans and newcomers alike will be able to experience the universe of Doctor Who like never before, working with the Doctor and facing enemies new and old.

“Gaming is a key part of the future of Doctor Who and allows us to tell new and exciting stories beyond the TV screen.”

Maze Theory Creative Director Marcus Moresby said they were committed to providing an innovative and immersive experience.

“Doctor Who is an incredibly exciting and timeless franchise with a passionate and committed global fan base,” he said.

“We are looking to give them an entirely new experience; an opportunity to team up with the Doctor and feel like they are in the show. This, of course, includes piloting the TARDIS, a dream come true for fans!”

Armed with a Sonic Screwdriver, players have the chance to solve mind-bending puzzles, grapple with classic monsters and encounter new horizons in a quest to find the Doctor and defeat a powerful force that threatens to destroy the fabric of reality.

This time around some of the show’s iconic “Big Bads” will be making an appearance including the biggest baddies of them all – the Daleks as well as some brand-new monsters.

This time around the Doctor has been hurled through time and space to the end of the universe where a virus is threatening to rip apart reality has been released.

Fans will have a chance to pilot the TARDIS across new and familiar worlds as they set out to recover a series of “powerful time crystals” that can repair space, time and ultimately save the entire universe.

Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time will launch on PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Vive Cosmos in September.

 

Run away with the Doctor

The BBC has finally released both a trailer and a synopsis for the brand-new VR Adventure Doctor Who: The Runaway.

Set in the TARDIS, the adventure stars Jodie Whittaker in animated form and features brand new music from Doctor Who composer Segun Akinola.

The new story is 12 minutes long and will see the viewer join the Thirteenth Doctor on the TARDIS in an animated interactive story from the BBC and Passion Animations.

Players will get the chance to be the Doctor’s champion and help her with her adventure as both viewer and doctor find themselves facing a deadly threat. It will be available on selected VR headsets later in the year.

According to the synopsis:

You’ve been in a collision. You wake inside the TARDIS. The Doctor introduces you to the person, or thing, you collided with. He’s a strange and magnificent ball of living energy called Volta. Part surly teenager, part bomb, Volta is very unstable. In fact, he’s primed to explode. Big time. Unless he can be returned to his home planet, sharpish. The problem is, a squad of galactic busybodies has other plans for Volta. Bad ones. Drawn into a frantic chase, you become The Doctor’s unlikely assistant as she races against time to get Volta home to his parents. Armed with a sonic screwdriver, it is down to you to help The Doctor as she faces the forces of evil, and teenage angst, in this animated 13-minute VR adventure from the team behind Doctor Who Series 11.

Doctor Who: The Runaway was written by Victoria Asare-Archer and directed by Mathias Chelebourg – the man behind 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 Studio and is coming soon to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, with versions for other platforms including YouTube.

 

Aussie sci-fi comedy Night Terrace coming to BBC Radio

Award-winning sci-fi audio series Night Terrace, produced by Melbourne’s own Splendid Chaps Productions, is making its broadcast debut on BBC Radio 4 Extra – and Australian listeners will be able to tune in as well!

Created as a follow-up to the critically acclaimed Splendid Chaps Doctor Who podcast, Night Terrace is a half-hour narrative comedy series starring Jackie Woodburne (Susan Kennedy from Neighbours) as Anastasia Black – a government scientist who used to save the world but now wants a quiet retirement. So she’s understandably miffed when her house unexpectedly starts travelling through space and time.

Over two series and a total of sixteen episodes, taking place from the ancient past to the distant future and everywhere in between, Anastasia fights monsters and solves mysteries, all while trying to find a way home. And joining her on her interstellar trek are actor, comedian and series co-creator Ben McKenzie as hapless door-to-door salesman Eddie Jones, plus actor, singer and co-creator Petra Elliott as the myserious “Sue”.

The guest cast is meanwhile packed to the brim with Australian and New Zealand comedic talent – including Whovians regulars Cal Wilson and Adam Richard – as well as respected dramatic actors such as Colette Mann, Jane Badler, Virginia Gay and more. There are even cameos from Louise Jameson (Doctor Who’s Leela) and Nicholas Briggs (the voice of the Daleks), as well as Doctor Who writer and former Big Finish producer Gary Russell!

Originally crowdfunded for digital download, Night Terrace now comes to BBC Radio, premiering on Sunday 21 April on Radio 4 Extra at 6pm UK time (repeated at midnight) and continuing every Sunday for the duration of the first series – with each episode available internationally via BBC iPlayer (aka BBC Sounds) for 30 days afterwards. Series two will follow in the same timeslot from 25 August.

“I’m stunned we went from doing a podcast in Melbourne pubs to having our comedy series on BBC Radio,” said head writer John Richards. “It’s like we just won an Oscar for pole dancing. I’m a huge fan of radio drama and comedy – due to a long commute I currently listen to more drama than I watch. So it’s a thrill that Anastasia Black is heading to the home of The Goons, the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and that show that used to look at famous pipe organs.

“We came into Night Terrace wanting certain things – we wanted a female lead, we wanted her to be a bit grumpy but also the smartest person in any room. And we wanted it to be distinctly Australian. We wanted it to be big and bold and thoughtful and silly and it’s been all of those things. Jackie Woodburne – or ‘Susan From Neighbours’ as we like to call her – was our only choice to play Anastasia Black and she’s been phenomenal. And we’ve been blessed with an amazing and diverse cast. It’s all been a dream. Oh, is this a dream? This is a dream, isn’t it?”

Episode one of series one, Moving House, can be streamed now on the Splendid Chaps Soundcloud page or via the YouTube link below. You can also read our exclusive interview with Ben McKenzie, conducted ahead of the release of series two, in Issue #229 of Data Extract magazine, available from the DWCA Shop.

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.

Mission to the Unknown remake underway

One of the 97 missing episodes of Classic Doctor Who, 1965’s Mission to the Unknown, is being brought back to life. But unlike recent recreations which have paired a lost story’s surviving audio with brand new animation, this is an entirely new remake – one that’s being helmed primarily by students.

Mission to the Unknown is unique in Doctor Who history as the only story not to feature the Doctor or, indeed, any of the regular cast. Rather, it follows Space Security Agent Marc Cory as he attempts to warn Earth of the Daleks’ latest plot – a plot that the Doctor and his companions would later be embroiled in as part of the 12-part epic ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’.

This made Mission to the Unknown ideal fodder for the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) ‘Sci-fi in a Week’ project, which saw students, graduates and staff remake the episode in just five days of rehearsals and filming, after being given special permission from the BBC and the Terry Nation Estates.

The episode was directed and produced by UCLan Pro Vice-Chancellor (Digital and Creative Industries) Dr Andrew Ireland with the help of UCLan students, graduates and staff, as well as Accrington and Rossendale College pupils who were in charge of make-up and prosthetics. It meant that students on courses including acting, fashion and TV and media production could gain hands-on experience of creating a drama from scratch and were able to compare techniques from more than 50 years ago with modern-day drama production.

“We kept it as close to the original as we possibly could, so everything from the props and costumes to the acting style, pace and camera techniques are designed to be very 1960s,” Dr Ireland said. “It was filmed to simulate the low-resolution, black-and-white look of the era and we’ve been able to use the audio from the original recording to inform stage directions and the mood of the episode.”


The voice of the Daleks was meanwhile provided by none other than new series Dalek voice actor Nicholas Briggs, and classic series actors Peter Purves (who played companion Steven Taylor in The Daleks’ Master Plan) and Edward de Souza (who played Cory) even visited the set to take part in a special Q&A panel. Purves was particularly enthusiastic about the project, teasing the news on Twitter and later sharing photos of some of the four sets.

“This is an absolutely wonderful project,” Purves said.

“I am intrigued to see what has been done and hope it could be a precursor to more reconstructions in the future.”

Once post-production on the episode is completed, the UCLan team plans to present a copy to the BBC, which they are treating as their client for the project. The hope is that one day it will be released in some form so that the public may view this long-lost story once more.

News of the episode remake was covered on BBC North West News.

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.

 

Classic Who returns to Twitch

Less than six months after Twitch concluded its hugely popular marathon of Classic Doctor Who, the streaming service has announced it’ll be doing it all over again!

Starting on 6 January at 5am (AEDT), the platform will be airing over 500 episodes from the 26 seasons of classic Doctor Who. This means fans will be able to watch adventures featuring the first seven Doctors – from 1963’s An Unearthly Child to 1989’s Survival – while chatting live to thousands of other viewers around the world.

Episodes will be shown in blocks and repeated two times per day, with the marathon concluding on 26 January. The full list of stories can be found here, with provisional screening times from a Pacific US or UK perspective.

So tune in at https://www.twitch.tv/twitchpresents from 6 January to get your fix of Classic Who. And if you like what you see, make sure to head to the DVD section of the DWCA Shop, where a range of stories are available for you to own and watch any time you like – with special features and without ads!

Doctor Who animated short released for Christmas

The upcoming Doctor Who Special may be taking place on New Year’s Day, but that doesn’t mean the BBC has forgotten about Christmas altogether!

A new animated short, narrated by Bradley Walsh, sees the Thirteenth Doctor come to Santa’s rescue on Christmas Eve. Check it out below!

And don’t forget that the Doctor Who New Year’s Special will be broadcast on ABC on 2 January at 7:30pm, as well as on iview throughout the day. The trailer is available to view now.