A Tribute to Terrance Dicks

It is with the deepest sadness that we report the passing of Doctor Who giant Terrance Dicks, who has died at the age of 84 after a short illness. His contribution writing over 60 novelisations in the Target range of books, as well as authoring other non-fiction works like the best-selling 1976 Doctor Who Dinosaur Book, encouraged the reading habits of children across the globe.

Dicks wrote such classic series stories as Second Doctor swansong The War Games (co-written with Malcolm Hulke), Fourth Doctor introduction Robot, the first Rutan story Horror of Fang Rock, vampire classic State of Decay and the epic 20th anniversary celebration tale The Five Doctors. He helped to cast both the Third and Fourth Doctors and worked as script editor for the show between 1969 and 1975, collaborating closely with Barry Letts.

His association with the series never ended as he continued to write original novels for the New Adventures range, the Bernice Summerfield spin-off books, the Eighth Doctor novels, Past Doctor novels and (post 2005) New Series Adventures in the Quick Reads series. He also wrote audio plays for Big Finish and original spin-off video releases in the 1990s featuring such aliens as Sontarans, Rutans and Draconians (in Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans, Mindgame and Mindgame Trilogy). Dicks even brought Doctor Who to the stage with Seven Keys to Doomsday in 1974 and The Ultimate Adventure in 1989.

Current showrunner Chris Chibnall made the following statement at the news of Terrance Dicks’ passing: “He was one of the greatest contributors to Doctor Who’s history, on screen and off. As the most prolific and brilliant adaptor of Doctor Who stories into Target novels, he was responsible for a range of books that taught a generation of children, myself included, how pleasurable and accessible and thrilling reading could be. Doctor Who was lucky to have his talents. He will always be a legend of the show.”

Australian Doctor Who fans were lucky enough to meet Dicks when he visited Down Under in December 2014, as part of Culture Shock Events’ Lords of Time 3 convention. As a tribute to him, we now present the interview that was conducted at that convention, republished from Issue 226 of Data Extract magazine – the issue as whole is also available from the DWCA Shop.

Hello Terrance. You were, of course, a driving force behind the Doctor Who TV series, but have recently done a lot more work in books, plays and audios. Is it fair to call Doctor Who a TV show anymore, or is it more a multimedia, cross-platform experience?

I think the TV show is the core of it. I mean, Big Finish is very good, and gives a lot of work to actors and writers. But it’s not really ‘Who’ Who. I have done a couple of things for them – I did my stage plays. It was hard enough working for the stage, when I’d never written for the stage before. When I wrote the first play, I suddenly had this terrible realisation that you can’t cut, and you can’t do a close-up. The audience just sits back and looks at it. Then Big Finish asked me to do them as audios, then not only can you not cut – you can’t see either! But yes – I think Who on television is the core, and everything else is spin-offs of one kind or another. But they’re all good and valuable and interesting.

Because it was born in the Wilderness Years, in many ways Big Finish has thrived on taking one-hit monsters, or ideas that were done in passing, and then giving them a bigger life on audio. Is that a good thing, do you think, or is there a monster that should stay as a one-hit wonder?

Bob Holmes, in his first story, came up with an idea which I liked, and I took it to Peter Bryant and Derrick Sherwin, who were the script editors I’d started working for. They said they didn’t need another show, but I suggested working on it myself, in case something went wrong with another story. And then one of the directors, David Maloney, found that the script that they had given him was absolute rubbish. There was this big crisis, and I said, “Well, I happen to have this four-part Doctor Who about my person.” So we did The Krotons, which was a good script. But the monsters called the Krotons were crystalline beings who lived in a blobby tank. And they are possibly the most inept monsters in the history of Doctor Who. All they could do was stand and loom in a menacing fashion. That was an example of a good script cocked up by a rotten monster. Later on we had Invasion of the Dinosaurs and did it all again.

One show I didn’t disrespect for ages was The War Games. Now The War Games came about, again, when Bryant and Sherwin sat around the BBC bar saying they didn’t have any scripts. Derrick Sherwin came into my office one day and said, “Terrance, we need a ten-part Doctor Who by next week”. I knew I couldn’t do it by myself, so I called in Mac Hulke, who was my friend and mentor. What we did was, we went round to Mac’s flat with a pile of scripts, I’d walk up and down, Mac’d sit at the typewriter, we’d discuss a line, and Mac’d type it out.

We wrote about two scripts a week – ten parts – which is ridiculous for Doctor Who. Four parts is good length for Doctor Who, six you can carry if you’ve got a strong story, but ten is nonsense. I used to go round to conventions, and if anyone brought that up, I’d say, “Well, it opens well, with the First World War, and the end scene, I think, is quite good – Time Lords and the Doctor and the exile to Earth – but in between is just running up and down corridors and captures and escapes.” And then, not that long ago, it was brought out on DVD, and Doctor Who Magazine reviewed it. The review started off, “Terrance has been talking rubbish about this show for years. It’s a good show all the way through, all ten parts!” And I was amazed and delighted to find that I’d been talking rubbish.

Do you always work well in a crisis?

I like a good crisis. I think some of the best things have come out of it. Another one was Horror of Fang Rock. I was going to do a story about vampires. The BBC at the time were doing a big prestigious Dracula for their annual classic, and it was so prestigious they got Sir Laurence Olivier playing Van Helsing. And they sent down an order saying, “No vampires on Doctor Who. People will think you’re making fun of us”. We had a sudden crisis meeting – I went to see Bob, who had succeeded me as script editor, and said, “What are we going to do?” Bob said, “I’ve always wanted to do a story set in a lighthouse”, and I said, “Bob, I know bugger all about lighthouses”. And so in a great rush, with half my writing time gone, I wrote Horror of Fang Rock. And it just sort of happened – I thought, “At least we got a show out of it”. People are now saying that’s one of the best things I ever did.

Horror of Fang Rock arguably ticks a lot of boxes relating to what a Doctor Who story should be. Is there a quintessential Doctor Who story?

Barry Letts and I used to talk about something called Whoish-ness. You’d get a story, perfectly good and perfectly logical, and say it’s not Whoish enough. There was a man who said he couldn’t define poetry, but he knew it when he saw it. And that’s it – you know it when you see it, or you have a feel for it. To give an obvious example – you could never do Doctor Who porn. Although, with that said, if you look on the Internet, I’m sure you can find it!

An Open Letter to The Mighty Pert…

Sunday 7 July 2019 marked the 100th birthday of the Third Doctor himself, the late Jon Pertwee – the man who saw Doctor Who into the age of colour television and proved that the programme could succeed even when the Doctor was stuck on Earth!

As part of the birthday celebrations, the DWCA will this month be holding a special day event devoted to Pertwee and his impact on Doctor Who history, running on 25 August at Club Burwood. We’re also sharing the love for the Third Doctor via the opinion piece below, written by actor and comedian Rob Lloyd.

Dear Mister Pertwee,

My name is Robert Lloyd, I’m a 41-year-old actor/comedian/improviser from Melbourne Australia and I’m a huge fan.

Even though you’ve been dead 23 years now, you still shape my life in so many ways and seeing this year is the 100th anniversary of your birth, I just wanted to tell how much of a positive influence you’ve been in my life.

I was only slightly aware of you when I was growing up in the 1980s in rural New South Wales. See… you terrified the living s*** out of me as the “lovable” head-swapping scarecrow, Worzel Gummidge. Also I thought you were pretty cool as Spotty on Super Ted. However my awareness of you all changed in 1996 when I finally started getting into Doctor Who.

Yes I am aware that that was also the year you died, my timing isn’t the best. Sorry.
The news of your passing made it to all the news channels and papers here in Australia. I remember watching every news segment with such intensity and I found out so much interesting information about you. The more found out about you, the more was I impressed.

I threw myself head-first into watching more of your stuff…particularly your influential era of Doctor Who.

The first of your stories I watched was actually your first one as the Doctor… Spearhead from Space. By the end of those four episodes of Robert Holmes gold I was hooked. The Third Doctor was MY Doctor.

It then became my mission to collect all your stories on VHS, cassette, DVD and now with the release of Series 10 boxset also Blu-Ray.

What are DVDs and Blu-Ray I hear you ask? I’ll explain later *wink*

I was also obsessed with building my “Pertwee Ensemble”. I had my grandmother construct for me a white, button-up shirt with ruffles, I picked up at various second-hand stores some velvet jackets, I even got a bowtie.

I dressed like you to all my important social events: show openings, fancy dress parties, going to the shops.

The Third Doctor was my hero.

You were my hero.

I adore how you embraced the role of Doctor Who, specifically how you saw this as a chance to stretch your “serious acting chops”.

Having built your success from working predominantly in comedy, I can see how eager you were to play this role with a “straight bat”. This was a smart move seeing you were following the great Patrick Troughton, who mastered the comedy of the Doctor.

This decision really shaped your entire time on the show. The Third Doctor is focused, impatient, a daring man of action, a lover of gadgets, a person who embraces the role of mentor/guide/father figure. At time he could be brash, horribly patronising and even downright rude and cruel.

I will admit that sometimes these character choices went too far (I’m sorry but you were completely unlikable in The Claws of Axos) but when you remembered to lay the charm on thick or push yourself fully commit to your character’s emotional state no other Doctor could come close to you (your final moments in Planet of the Spiders are still the highlight of your time on Who).

Some see your Doctor as an ‘Establishment Man’ which was a contradiction to the rebel spirit of the Doctor brought out so effectively by Troughton & Tom Baker. However I always saw your Doctor as someone bringing down the system from within…you were amongst them but you weren’t one of them. You were playing them at their own game and you always one. I loved that.

A couple of years ago I started blending my love for Doctor Who with my love of performing. I co-created a solo show about being a Who fan called Who, Me. Of course I mention you in it.

I’ve toured it all around the world, I got to work with and meet some of your U.N.I.T family:

-Katy (she sends her love)
-Richard (he speaks highly of you)
-And John (he’s still just as crazy as you remember)

Everywhere I’ve toured, I’ve always taken an action figure of you as my good luck charm. It has definitely come in handy.

I even got to write an article for Doctor Who Magazine about dressing up as you…I know right!?! What madness is that?

I feel like you’re my spirit animal Mister Pertwee. I’ve felt your guidance and positive presence over my life since 1996.

So I wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks…thanks for the inspiration and thank you for being my Doctor.

Yours obsessively,

Rob Lloyd

Facebook: www.facebook.com/roblloydwhome
Twitter & Instagram: @futurerobby
Website: www.roblloyd.com.au

The DWCA’s Third Doctor-themed day event, Reverse the Polarity, will be held on Sunday 25 August from 10am at Club Burwood, Sydney, with the 2019 DWCA AGM set to follow at 4pm. There will be a variety of Third Doctor merchandise available to purchase from the DWCA Shop at the event, such as DVDs, sonic screwdrivers and Big Finish audio dramas – including The Third Doctor Adventures Volume 5 and Torchwood: The Green Life, a sequel to The Green Death featuring Katy Manning as Jo Jones!

From the Archives: An Interview with Whovians’ Patrick Magee

On Saturday 13 July, the DWCA will be holding its annual Trivia Night and Cosplay Competition at Club Burwood in Sydney – this year to be hosted by actor and comedian Patrick Magee. In August 2017 the DWCA had the opportunity to interview Pat about his work as head researcher on ABC Comedy’s Whovians – the result was published in the club’s 2018 yearbook, Zerinza, but has been abridged below for your reading pleasure.

How did you come to be involved in Whovians?

Well, four years ago for the 50th anniversary, I did a show called Every Episode of Doctor Who Ever Live on Stage. It was a comedy show with me and two of my friends, and we just did 50 years of Doctor Who all on stage. And then through publicity for that I went to Triple J, went to some different radio stations and did promos and stuff for it. And then in about February or March this year, the executive producer called me up and said he’d like to meet up for a job thing at the ABC. I had no idea what it was for, and I was sort of chatting with my girlfriend. She said, “There is nothing the ABC would want you for that wouldn’t in some way be related to Doctor Who.” And I was like, “I don’t think the ABC’s doing something about Doctor Who.” And so I went the next day and he’s like, “So we’re doing a Doctor Who wrap-up show…” And I thought, “Oh, he’s going to ask me to host”, and he said, “Oh, you’re nowhere near famous enough. We’re going to get Rove to host.” I remember when I heard that, I was so underwhelmed. I was like, “Oh yeah, Rove, I guess he’s a real nerd.”

So as part of the pre-show preparation, I had to call up all of the panel members and all the guests and things, to try to gauge what their level of Doctor Who fandom was. I was kind of dreading calling Rove, ‘cos I thought I’d be like, “What’s your favourite episode of Doctor Who?” and he’d be like, “Oh, I just love The Impossible Astronaut” or something. So I call him up, I ask him his favourite episode, and he goes, “Probably The Dalek Invasion of Earth.” And I was like, “Okay. What scared you as a kid?”, and he was like, “Sutekh’s voice.” And I was like, “Okay, this guy knows what he’s talking about.” And then he came to the meetings and he had the River Song diary, and I was like, “Okay, this is all good. This guy knows exactly what he’s talking about.”

So I got into it because the guy at the ABC knew I was a massive Doctor Who fan, and in terms of research and asking questions and stuff, I’d be quicker than Google. And it was all Rove’s idea. I think he’d been wanting to do something like it for ages, and he had the star power to convince the ABC that it would be a fun, cool idea.

What was your first thought when you heard the idea for the programme?

I was apprehensive. Because I think originally they were going to make it an hour, and I was like, “I think that’s probably slightly too long.” And originally there were going to be a lot more sketches, we were going to get more musical guests, and all this kind of stuff, but it just didn’t feel right. And then we had our first rehearsal, we watched Hell Bent, and we realised that everyone in it was really on board, everyone had a different role to play. So you had Bajo, who was just very strangely excited by weird things; Tegan was really good at getting jokes that would appeal to non-Doctor Who fans, which was really important; Adam was great with his theories and stuff; and Rove was great at keeping them all together. So originally I liked the idea – I thought it would be a fantastic thing for me to do, and I was really excited to be part of it – but I wasn’t sure how well it would go. And then the first episode went out, and it just went gangbusters. We were trending on Twitter, it was great.

So the reaction from the audience overall was positive?

Oh yeah. I think we did have a few people who didn’t like it, for the first couple of weeks. They said, “You make too many jokes. You’ve got to be more serious about this.” But I think those people eventually stopped watching, and everyone else, especially on Twitter, the hashtag, the #WhoviansAU hashtag, the amount of people who were being brought together by this hashtag, and chatting about Doctor Who, and building this community – which obviously exists, but it was something that a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily know about, this community of Doctor Who fans in Australia. I thought it was really, really great that we could bring people together. And the ABC seemed to really like it. The ABC actually said to us, well they said to Rove, “So, do you reckon you could just keep it going after Doctor Who’s finished?” And we were like, “Uh, it kind of needs Doctor Who to uh, to work.”

And the BBC were fantastic. We used a lot of the facilities that The Fan Show uses. And in terms of getting interviews, they were fantastic. They would bend over backwards to get us interviews with people. For our last episode, we hadn’t even asked for an interview with Steven Moffat, ‘cos we’d done one at the beginning of the season. And they just said, “Hey look, do you want another interview with Steven Moffat to do a kind of wrap-up?” So the BBC were fantastic, the ABC were fantastic, the audience was fantastic – it was great. It was really fun.

What did your role on the show involve?

We started preproduction about four weeks before the show started. And so a lot of my part was finding well-known people who were Doctor Who fans and contacting them, seeing if they’d be keen. So looking at comedians, looking at politicians – as you know, we had George Christensen and Stephen Conroy on. So at first it was contacting people, and then, when we were still thinking we might need some filler stuff – like interviewing people who had big Doctor Who collections, or people who build Daleks – contacting those sorts of people.

Once the show started, we’d get the episodes a week prior. So we’d watch the episode and think, “Right, what can we get out of this? What kind of packages can we put in?” So in our first episode we had the connection with Australia package, and just on a whim I called Gai Waterhouse and asked if she’d like to come do an interview. And she was so keen, she was really, really keen. So basically, my role was working out what we were going to do for a package – and we’d aim to have two or three packages per show – and then we’d contact the BBC to get the episode. One of the things that we were limited by was that, because of the various copyright deals and everything, we could only use ten classic series episodes for each one. So for Smile, people were like, “You should have had a clip from The Happiness Patrol!”, but the problem was, we’d already used up all our clips on robots. So we were kind of limited there. But we just found ways to work around it.

And then the other thing I’d do was, I was writing scripts. Justin Hamilton was our head writer, and he was writing the episode script, which is all the links and segues and things, and then the two of us would also write a lot of the audition scripts – so you had Charlie Pickering, Jeremy Fernandez, Barrie Cassidy – all those people. ‘Cos everyone at the ABC wanted to be part of it. So I’d write scripts for that, and then I’d sit in. We’d do a quick rehearsal with the cameras, and if anyone wanted a quick Doctor Who reference or they wanted to get something right, they’d ask me and I’d give them the reference.

Basically, I was being paid to sit in an office five days a week and watch Doctor Who. I’d be sitting at a desk watching Seeds of Doom or whatever, and people would walk past going, “He’s clearly doing his job.” It was ridiculous – it’s the craziest job I’ve ever had in my life.

You mentioned that you got to watch the episodes a week early. How difficult was it to avoid leaking spoilers?

It wasn’t too bad. The only people that I kind of regularly speak to about Doctor Who are my girlfriend and my brothers. My girlfriend is more of a casual fan, so if I said something to her like, “Rona Munro’s coming back to write an episode!”, she’d just go, “Okay, great, cool, whatever.” Whereas with my brothers, more than anything it was kind tempting to kind of lord it over them, and be like, “I know what’s happening and I can’t tell you.” So it wasn’t too bad. The big moment was David Bradley coming back. I watched that, and then I emailed Adam Richard, and I was like, “Please can you watch it”, and they weren’t allowed to watch it early. Eventually I bullied him into watching it so I’d have someone to talk to about David Bradley coming back.

If someone had told your younger self that you’d end up working on a Doctor Who panel show, how do you think you would have reacted?

I’d ask, “Who are you?”, first of all, ‘cos Mum told me to never talk to strangers. I mean, if I was a kid, I wouldn’t have even imagined that you could work on anything related to Doctor Who. Doctor Who is just this thing that gets created somewhere in space, and then it ends up on our television. So it’s the craziest idea. I didn’t want to talk about it, with confidentiality agreements and all that. When I first got offered it, we were still kind of negotiating stuff with the BBC, so there was no guarantee that it was going to happen. And then as soon as it started, as soon as it got broadcast, I’d bump into people and they’d go, “Have you heard about this new show called Whovians?” I said, “Oh yeah, I work on it”, and they were like, “Oh thank God. ‘Cos if you hadn’t been, I was gonna go and burn down the ABC.”

I remember two years ago, there was a point in my life where I was thinking, “I have wasted my life. My brain is so full of Doctor Who facts, and this will never do me any good. If only there was some way of monetising my hobby.” And then there was! And it’s been incredible, and hopefully we’ll be back next year. You know what the ABC’s like, you know what the BBC’s like – it’s all negotiations, and obviously ‘cos Chris Chibnall’s coming in we might have to renegotiate stuff. So I’m hopeful we’ll come back, but nothing’s set in stone at the moment.

Is there any chance there’ll be more audience participation in future episodes of Whovians?

We really wanted to get more audience participation. But then I wrote a quiz for the audience, and people were rubbish at it. I didn’t think they were difficult questions, but apparently a lot of fans these days don’t know in which episode the Black Guardian first appeared. A lot of people these days don’t know who the Black Guardian is. So then I had to level the questions down. But we’d love to get more audience participation. At the end of the day, we just had so much stuff in terms of packages. In that prep time, we were like, “We need to have so much stuff. We need to have bands. We need to have comedy sketches.” But then when it came to the records, most of the records went for 50, 55 minutes and had to be cut down to a half hour. So we always had so much stuff. I really want to do Doctor Who fans speed dating, which’d be really fun. So we’re always trying to build new stuff.

I remember my favourite part from the recording – it was such a surreal thing. In the very first episode, we had this idea that Rove would run into places yelling “Shark attack!” to see who would react. And we did it, and we ran into this pub, and this guy was like, “What are you filming for?”, and we told him it was a Doctor Who wrap-up show. He was like, “I was in Doctor Who”, and we were like, “No you weren’t, old man.” And then it turned out it was Ian Cullen from The Aztecs! It made no sense! Why was he in this pub at the exact moment we were filming this thing for Whovians? And he was wonderful.

Following on from what you said about the Black Guardian, do you think some of the members of the audience had no concept of how old the series actually is?

That was one of the big things with making the packages and the montages and stuff. Obviously there are so many New Who fans, and we really wanted to emphasise this kind of continuing thing, and that this is an ongoing show that’s been going for ages. One of the things that we wanted to do, but again got cut for time, was that we wanted to do a classic series recommendation. So say if it was Smile, you’d go, “If you liked this episode, you should check out The Happiness Patrol.” We really wanted to do that, but again, we didn’t have time. But I think there were a lot of New Who fans, and I mean, the new series has been going for twelve years. It’s already longer than so many series on television, and that’s just from 2005 onwards. We definitely skewed slightly towards the New Who demographic, obviously because we’re discussing the new series.

We did have a very silly idea to try and convince the ABC to let us show classic episodes and then show Whovians after that, which obviously would have been a lot of fun, but then we also would have had to pretend we didn’t know what was happening; like, “Hmm, who’s this mysterious Watcher figure in Logopolis? Maybe it’s the Master!” But we were definitely very conscious of trying to bridge that gap. And Adam has seen every episode of the classic series and listened to all of Big Finish, whereas Bajo and Tegan only got into it with Christopher Eccleston.

What was it like working with Rove and all the panellists?

It was great. It was an absolute joy. Bajo is a nerd – he’s the most delightful nerd, who is just so excited about kids dying. He’s not a murderer himself – he’s happy just to watch. Tegan was great – I’ve known her for years through the comedy circuit, so it was great to be able to work with her on something. Rove was so down to earth, and he was such a big fan. It was such a relief to find that out. And Adam and I would just sit in the corner talking about the Rani. So everyone was fantastic, all the guests were lovely – everyone was just so excited and really happy to be there.

Are there any plans to release Whovians on DVD?

No, only because it’s obviously so tied to the individual episodes. So it’d be another bout of licensing issues, because we use clips from the episodes, we use old clips. So I think it’s probably a bit too much trouble, and the ABC wouldn’t exactly see it as cost-effective. Which is a pity. I didn’t realise this, but it is such a painstaking process to get licensing for all the different things that you need.

Which was your favourite Thirteenth Doctor audition?

Ooooo. Um, of the ones that I wrote, I really liked the Barrie Cassidy one and the Jeremy Fernandez one, just because they were the most serious people you can imagine doing it, and then throwing themselves into it and being so silly. My favourite one that I didn’t write, this is one that Rove wrote, was the Play School one with the Zygon song. Costa was great as well, apart from the fact that he pronounced Krynoid incorrectly. God, that was silly. But they were all just so dumb and so joyful.


Pat will be quizmaster and MC of the DWCA’s annual Trivia Night and Cosplay Competition – The Game of Rassilon – to be held on 13 July at Club Burwood from 6pm. The night will see teams test their knowledge of classic and revived Doctor Who – with the odd question on pop culture and general knowledge just to keep you on your toes – all for the chance to win some fabulous prizes. There will also be a special prize for the best Doctor Who cosplay!

Tickets are available now for just $15 per person or $75 for a table of six – register here to guarantee your place. Tickets will be available at the door for $20, if not sold out.

6 things we love about the new release of The Macra Terror

Second Doctor lost story The Macra Terror was finally released on DVD and Blu-ray last month, almost 52 years after its original broadcast and five months after it was announced that surviving audio recordings of the serial would be combined with brand new animation. But while it may not feature the Daleks (like The Power of the Daleks) or be written by Douglas Adams (like Shada), there’s still plenty to love about this long-awaited release of an underrated gem.

The dystopian plot

The Macra Terror was originally broadcast as part of Doctor Who’s fourth season – an unusual and often overlooked period in the show’s history, where many elements of the programme were undergoing a steady transformation, storylines weren’t yet dominated by monster-of-the-week shenanigans and writers could still deliver slices of delightful ’60s weirdness. In the case of The Macra Terror, the plot is centred on a seemingly idyllic colony manipulated by an omnipresent overlord into an endless cycle of mundane labour and forcefully cheerful recreation. Think Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four meets The Wizard of Oz, but the Wizard was secretly a giant crab all along. The end result is a satirical story that is genuinely thrilling while also being very fun.

The TARDIS crew

The Macra Terror was the second-last story for the TARDIS team of the Second Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie, which is a shame as they’re really starting to work well together here. Jamie is a loveable goof throughout, from his confusion after the brainwashing scene (“They haven’t been able to get very far into your brain.” “Eh? I don’t understand.”) to his improvised dance during the cheerleading scene. Michael Craze meanwhile gets to show off his acting chops, as Ben is rather more susceptible to the brainwashing process – losing his Cockney accent when he’s under the influence and frightening Polly almost as much as the Macra. And while Polly plays a bit of a damsel while being attacked by Ben/the Macra, she’s also the Doctor’s main companion during the climactic final episode. This team may sometimes be forgotten, but The Macra Terror sees them at their best.

The visual upgrade

While the animated version of The Power of the Daleks sought to recreate the original production as closely as possible, the team behind The Macra Terror have taken some creative liberties and injected the story with a high degree of visual flair, taking it beyond what could have been produced by the original production team. Perhaps this is most obvious in their design of the Macra themselves: whereas the original Macra prop (there was only one) looked a bit like, well, how you might expect a giant crab built on a ‘60s BBC budget to look, the animated Macra are large, fierce and imposing. There’s even more than one of them! This makes their scenes all the more exciting and really sells the threat these spidery-crabs pose. We’re also treated to sprawling shots of the colony as the paranoid (or is he?) Medok makes his escape attempt, while Jamie’s perilous journey through the gas mine is atmospheric in a way that couldn’t have been achieved in studio.

The colour

Many fans have wondered what certain ‘60s stories would look like in colour, while others believe they should stay in monochrome as they were originally intended. This animated release gives viewers the option to view the story either way – so whether you think the adventure is creepier in black and white, or you’re curious to see how the animation team have played up the slightly psychedelic elements of the plot in their colour choices, the decision is entirely up to you. We would, however, recommend watching the opening titles in colour at least once – they look truly gorgeous. And if you’ve ever found yourself debating Ben’s true hair colour with another fan, you finally have a way to settle it!

The special features

Classic Doctor Who releases have long prided themselves on their comprehensive suite of special features, and The Macra Terror is a real doozy. The release is absolutely packed with extras, covering the original production, the animated version and everything in between. There’s audio commentary featuring members of the cast and crew, a digitally remastered compilation of the original story’s surviving footage (all 2 minutes of it!), behind-the-scenes footage showcasing construction of the Macra prop, and – in a move that is sure to please purists – a stills reconstruction available with or without a narration track read by Anneke Wills (Polly). That’s on top of a series of features covering how the new release went from initial storyboards to final animation, the full 1992 audio release narrated by Colin Baker, an animation of the first 10 minutes of Second Doctor story The Wheel in Space and more. The Blu-ray edition also has a bonus disc that includes the Macra’s return in Tenth Doctor story Gridlock, along with accompanying commentary and Doctor Who Confidential: Cut Down.

The fact that we’re able to watch it!

It seems obvious, but there’s something quite special about being able to watch something that has been unseen in its entirety for over 50 years. Of course in that time there have been reconstructions, novelisations and soundtrack releases, but they just don’t provide the same feeling you get from sitting on (or behind) the sofa, switching on the TV, and watching the TARDIS materialise in a new location for the first time. Having a fully visual dimension to the story also restores the nuance to the performances and the facial expressions of the characters – something that these animations are getting better at with each release. So while there have been no missing episode discoveries for some years now, the animated releases are going from strength to strength, suggesting that it may be only a matter of time before we get to experience a new (old) story all over again.

The Macra Terror is available from the DWCA Shop on DVD and Blu-ray. It can be purchased now from our online shop or in person at our upcoming Sydney day event, to be held on 19 May at Club Burwood – the theme of which is, appropriately enough, ‘Animations and Adaptations’.


How to Make a Fan Film: An Interview with UNSW DocSoc

In 2016, the UNSW Doctor Who Society (DocSoc) put together their own original Doctor Who fan film. Titled ‘The TARDIS of UNSW’, the film was screened at the DWCA’s March day event in Burwood, Sydney, alongside a Q&A panel featuring members of the production team. But if you didn’t get to attend the day, you can now read a transcript of the interview right here. Make sure you watch the film first, to avoid spoilers!

DWCA: Welcome! Would you like to start off by introducing yourselves to the audience?

Thomas Walder: I’m Thomas. I was the director, and I also did the special effects and a small part of the editing.

Sarah Cobb-Clark: I’m Sarah, I played Jane aka the real Doctor.

Charles Mann: I’m Charles, I played the Doctor, but also the Master, the second time around? It’s really confusing.

Ewan Scott: I’m Ewan, I played the actual, definite Master, and I’m kind of responsible for the confusing plot as well.

DWCA: So how did your fan film, The TARDIS of UNSW, come about?

Thomas: Originally, the society was going to try and recreate some of the Classic Who effects, which you can kind of get from the aesthetic of it. But during the planning stages, Ewan and I, and one other member, we sat down and had a few drinks and decided to see if we could come up with a plot that we could use. But as we came up with an idea, we came up with this twist. It wasn’t originally even going to have a Doctor – it was going to have the Master fooling the Master and then double-crossing themselves. It was going to be this amazing Moffat-esque twist at the end.

Ewan: And then Moffat stole it from us!

Sarah: We attended Whovians together to see the Series 10 finale, and we were sitting next to each other in the audience as the episode played. I was sitting right next to Ewan, poking him, going, “The Master just killed the Master! This is our plot, this is our episode!”

Ewan: We clearly know the characters too well.

Thomas: It was a lot of effort. One of our other members who isn’t here, who did much of the editing – Heloise – we sat down with her and spent ages trying to wrap our heads around this time loop that we’d created. Some of the diagrams that you see in both the end-credits scene and some of the making-of shots – that was from us trying to make sure that we know exactly how to get this thing working, so that it actually sort of makes sense.

Charles: That took the longest, I think. Out of all of the things we did, that one diagram took the longest.

Thomas: As the special effects editor, I can say it didn’t.

DWCA: How did you manage to put together the special effects?

Thomas: I kind of taught myself After Effects. Mostly it was just looking up the effects online. The one that was particularly unique was what we tried to do with the opening scenes. ‘Cos we attempted to replicate the official howl-around effect that Classic Who used, using modern technology – which was kind of the original idea. So what we ended up doing was getting a webcam, pointing it at a computer, and then just kind of wiggling it around for a bit. In the editing, I took the shots that were made from that and tried to blend them together in reasonably visually appealing away, and add the other effects. And I was quite happy with the result.

Ewan: Tom’s effects are better than my acting.

Sarah: It’s a fan episode, it’s gonna be a cheesy. And it was fun.

DWCA: What about the props and other equipment? Did you film it on a phone?

Thomas: It was on my camera.

Charles: Tom supplied most of everything.

Ewan: As a fan club, we sort of went, “Hey, anyone who has anything you can lend us – Daleks, sonic screwdrivers – bring it in!” I think there’s a shot at the end of a table covered in TARDISes and Daleks.

Thomas: One thing you might notice is, I’m pretty sure each shot that has a sonic screwdriver in use is a different sonic screwdriver. That’s just an Easter egg.

Charles: We definitely went out of our way in at least one shot, when we’re all trying to open the one door, to make sure that every single time a sonic screwdriver was in shot, it was a different sonic screwdriver.

Thomas: Some of the props, such as the K9 and the Dalek parts, they were created by another member, Antonia, who also did much of the storage. K9’s kind of a dump truck underneath the box bit, so he was kind of a little trolley.

DWCA: Your film also has the twist of the female Doctor. Now that you’ve seen a real female Doctor on screen, how do you think they compare?

Sarah: I would have made a better Doctor. They should have hired me. No, I kid. I am enjoying Jodie Whittaker, and I’m sure that next season she’ll go from strength to strength.

Thomas: One of things we wanted to do was make it fit in with things that we’d seen in past parodies. And having a female Doctor, up until that point, was something that was very much a classic thing for a parody to do. So that was one of the goals when it came to building themes and stuff into the show.

DWCA: Overall, was the whole process easier or harder than you expected?

Thomas: Well Charlie and I had made a small film back in high school…

Charles: Very small.

Thomas: … So when it came to it, none of us knew that much about what we were doing – apart from Heloise, who was the only actual film student involved in the process. So a lot of it was kind of working it out as we went. Pretty much all of the actual dialogue, and most of the actual scenes, were worked out on the day.

Ewan: In terms of little details like continuity though, Heloise was very much on the ball in terms of “Hang on, you need to be wearing this shirt to regenerate.” She got mad at me when I got a haircut, and fair enough.

Charles: Yes, I remember that.

Thomas: So we had four filming days, out of an originally planned one. Do you want to tell the story about what happened with the jackets, and the temperature?

Charles: Oh man…

Sarah: I would love to tell that story! Alright – we started filming in winter. We finished filming in summer. Charles was in a wool coat, I was in a leather jacket and a wool turtleneck. We both regretted our costume choices.

Thomas: That’s the thing, right? Doctor Who has this whole clothing aesthetic. You’ve got to have the jackets and stuff.

Charles: You’ve got to make sure everything works in-universe, even if it causes you incredible discomfort and dehydration when you’re standing in the sun for a solid hour, making sure that the shot is exactly perfect. It was fun, but my goodness, I have so much respect now for professional actors, and anyone who wears that kind of stuff all the time.

Thomas: Looking back at it, there were a number of small things that we either could have done more smoothly or that we had to work in, in order to cover the small mistakes we made. And I think in part, that’s because it was quite exhausting, the process of actually filming. ‘Cos we’re trying to fit in between everyone’s uni and work schedules, so we’re trying to pack in as much as we can in the limited time we have together.

Ewan: I think I recorded the K9 lines several months later, at my computer, and sent them off to Heloise in the hope that she’d be able to get them in.

DWCA: Was it difficult finding the right people to take on various roles in the production?

Sarah: Well everyone involved was in the Doctor Who Society of UNSW, so we kind of worked with the people who were already there, and who would be interested in it.

Ewan: And it was a large enough club that it wasn’t so much “Oh, you’re good at this, you can do it” as “You want to help? Alright, could you learn how to do this?”

Charles: Exactly, there was a lot of that. There was a lot of multitasking in the crew; we were like, “Someone needs to hold this camera. Just hold it. You don’t even have to do anything, just hold the thing.” There were a lot of people, but at the end of the day it actually wasn’t quite as big as it could have been.

Thomas: When it came to filming the spaceship shot, I basically just filmed that in my living room, and got my mum to help. So she’s listed as one of the credits. In the end, it wasn’t a huge crew. It must have been… ten people involved in total?

DWCA: Are you happy with the finished product?

Thomas: I’m happy. We wanted to have it very Doctor Who flavoured, and the other thing I wanted to have was plenty of UNSW references, because it was there. That final twist – was that one of the things that we came up with on the first day?

Ewan: I think that was part of the core plot; that the library was actually a TARDIS.

Charles: The enormous thing that was in every single shot.

Sarah: It was very fun sitting in the audience just now, listening to the people in the back going, “Is it the library?”

DWCA: Do you have any advice for anyone who might be considering doing their own fan film?

Charles: Plan. No seriously, make sure that you have everyone’s schedules mapped out like 16 months in advance. Make sure everything lines up, make sure that you have a good group of people to work with. ‘Cos that, I think, is also key. If you have people who are willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everything’s in place, and they’re willing to sacrifice and stuff, then you’re going to have a much better experience overall.

Thomas: But conversely, as well as having to plan ahead, when stuff doesn’t go right, you’ve got to be a bit flexible as well. So be prepared for that to happen. Because our filming ended up getting pushed back, we ended up having our last filming day during the university shutdown period, which meant that we didn’t have any access to indoor facilities. So some scenes which happen outside, they only take place outside because that was all we had access to. Again, plan ahead, but in the event that planning ahead doesn’t end up covering everything, you’ve got to be ready to improvise.

Ewan: But then also, go for it. ‘Cos sometimes those restrictions lead to a better product than if we just sat, planning for years and years and gone, “Well, we might get around to filming this eventually.”

Thomas: Our whole UNIT scene? That happened because one of our writers was going to play a UNIT representative, but unfortunately he had a very limited time in which he could appear, and we couldn’t get his role working in time. So that’s when we rewrote and came up with the secret UNIT base scene, which was one of our crew members’ garages. We just came to Antonia’s house and said, “Hey Antonia, can we use your garage?”


Thomas, Sarah, Charles and Ewan appeared at the DWCA day event ‘Joker in the Pack’, which was themed around comedy in Doctor Who. The club’s next Sydney day event will be held on 19 May and is themed ‘Animations and Adaptations’, in honour of the recent animation of The Macra Terror. More information on the event can be found here and pre-orders for The Macra Terror can be placed here.

6 strategies for surviving the Doctor Who gap year

Two months after the broadcast of Resolution – the only full-length new episode of Doctor Who we can expect to see in 2019 – some fans may be starting to feel the itch that comes with the knowledge that the next series is at least another nine months away. The good news is, a year with no Doctor Who on telly doesn’t have to mean a year with no Doctor Who at all. Just follow these tips and the year will pass in no time at all.

Get into the classics

If you started with the revived series in 2005, this is the perfect opportunity to go back to see where it all began. With the classic series containing a whopping 695 episodes broadcast over 26 years, there’s certainly plenty of content available – and a lot of it is more accessible to new viewers than you may think, so you can start wherever you like and see where you end up. There are also some exciting things happening in Classic Doctor Who this year, with the continuation of complete season collections on Blu-ray and the release of a brand new animated reconstruction of a lost classic, The Macra Terror – so it’s the perfect time to embrace your curiosity about Classic Who. You can find several classic series titles in our online shop, and you can check out our guide for getting started on the classic series here.

Get into the spin-offs

Spin-off series further exploring the lives of supporting characters may be common place now, but bar a failed attempt in the early ’80s, it wasn’t until 2006 that Doctor Who boasted its own full length spin-off series. Torchwood ran for four series: the first two – overseen by current Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall – have something of a cult status, and were followed by the universally praised mini series Children of Earth and experimental American co-production Miracle Day. Children’s programme The Sarah Jane Adventures meanwhile provided five seasons of great entertainment to the young and the young at heart. Mention should also be given to the criminally underrated Class, which had the makings of something great but was sadly not renewed for a second season. There’s even a semi-obscure children’s series starring K9 that was produced in Australia! If you missed out on viewing one or all of these programmes, it’s time to track them down.

Go beyond television

Doctor Who tie-in material has existed since the very early days of the programme – via the short stories and comics contained in the Doctor Who Annuals, for example – but it was during the ‘Wilderness Years’ between the end of the classic series in 1989 and the revival in 2005, that officially licensed original material really blossomed. Both the Seventh and Eighth Doctors have whole ranges of novels devoted entirely to their off-screen escapades, and Doctors 1-6 didn’t miss out on their own written adventures either. The books continue to this day with adventures for the Doctors of the 21st century. And if you prefer your Doctor Who brought to life by the original actors, Big Finish Productions has been producing its own audio dramas since 1999, featuring all your favourite classic Doctor and companion teams as well as a few new ones. The DWCA is one a small number of distributors of Big Finish audio in Australia – check out our range here.

Get creative

With no new stories being officially released in 2019, why not make up your own? It’s easier than ever to produce your own content these days, from filming your own episode on your smartphone to making fan art, producing your own props and cosplays, or even rattling out some good old fashioned fan fiction (remember, that’s how writers such as Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss got their start!). There are also plenty of outlets on the Internet for you to share your creations – and if you’d prefer to see your work in print, you can even submit to fanzines such as the DWCA’s own Data Extract, ensuring that your work is viewed by a loyal community of fans.

Speaking of which…

Get involved in fandom

Regular folk may not be interested in talking about Doctor Who when it’s not on air, but Doctor Who fans certainly are! That’s why fan clubs such as the DWCA are a great way of keeping the spirit of Doctor Who alive even when the show is taking a break. So if you want to meet with other fans to gush about your favourite Doctors, watch your favourite episodes, compete in games and quizzes, or just spend time in each other’s company, we encourage you to see what fan events are going on near you.

Do it all over again

We suspect that if you were to take on board all these suggestions, and to retroactively apply them from January onwards, you would be unlikely to finish all the things before Series 12 rolls around in early 2020. But if by any chance you have done, or if you’ve at least taken on as much as you’re willing to handle right now, there’s plenty of joy to be had in re-watching, re-reading or re-listening to some of the wonderful stories that make up the Whoniverse – from the comfort that comes from experiencing an old favourite, to the delight of picking up on a hidden joke or reference you hadn’t understood before. Yes, brand new episodes of Doctor Who are exciting, but that doesn’t mean we have to neglect the old ones.

So there you have it! Don’t treat 2019 as a year without Doctor Who – treat it as a year where you can craft your own Doctor Who journey. Come 2020, you’ll be well and truly primed for new adventures in time and space.

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.

Every Episode of Series 11, As Ranked By You

Series 11 of Doctor Who is now done and dusted, but how did it rate with Australian fans? After each week’s broadcast, we asked followers of our Facebook page to indicate whether they found the latest episode “great” or “not so great”. So which one came out on top? The results, from least-liked to most-liked, are presented below!

10. The Tsuranga Conundrum (61% positive)

Coming in last place was the The Tsuranga Conundrum, which saw the Doctor and her companions strive to save their spaceship from the adorable but deadly “Pting”. But while some viewers enjoyed the performances, the character development and the Pting itself, many were underwhelmed by the storyline, with commenters describing the episode as “okay”, “filler”, “fine”, “mediocre” and “meh”. So not an awful episode, but not one that got fans particularly excited either.

9. Arachnids in the UK (63% positive)

This was a divisive episode in more ways than one, in that it had several elements our followers either loved or hated. Many found the spiders suitably scary, while others found them difficult to watch for that very same reason. Some found themselves laughing knowingly at Donald Trump surrogate Jack Robertson (played by Chris Noth), while others found the real-life parallels too close for comfort. One thing that many agreed on is that the episode ended quite abruptly, leaving the audience questioning the fate of both Robertson and the trapped spiders – a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion.

8. It Takes You Away (75% positive)

The penultimate episode of the season appeared to have everything going for it: a spooky set-up, a journey through a hellish landscape, and some much-needed closure for Graham as he comes to terms with Grace’s death. It also had a sentient universe that eventually manifested itself as a talking frog, which many found wonderfully weird but others simply could not take seriously. So while the episode was still well received, there are many people who believe that, as one of our commenters put it, “it jumped the frog near the end”.

7. The Witchfinders (78.9% positive)

Light in tone despite its dark subject matter, The Witchfinders marked a return to the “historical romp” that has been a recurring feature of the revived series (and was quite a regular occurrence in the ’60s). It was a very welcome return according to our followers, with many calling it the best episode of the season and the two guest performers receiving particular praise – Siabhon Finneran (Becka) for her “gravitas” and Alan Cumming for his scenery-chewing performance as King James I (although one commenter described the character as “overplayed”). A solid, fun episode, then – and they only rate better from here on in.

6. The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos (79.1% positive)

Praised by our commenters as “tense as hell” and “the most engaging [episode] yet”, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos received kudos for focusing on Graham’s inner turmoil, rather than attempting to outdo the world-ending threats of previous season finales. Yet this approach did not sway all our voters, with many saying the episode was good or even great, but somewhat lacking as a finale. It may very well have rated even higher had it been placed elsewhere in the season.

5. Demons of the Punjab (79.3% positive)

A tragic love story set during the Partition of India, Demons of the Punjab was described by our commenters as a moving, emotional piece of drama. But while many enjoyed learning about a relatively unknown historical event, others said they were “getting a bit tired” of historicals – with one commenter saying the episode was an okay piece of television but simply didn’t feel like Doctor Who. Its large cast of characters also divided fans, with some enjoying the ensemble nature of the episode but others feeling that the Doctor was upstaged, particularly by Bradley Walsh in a very moving performance as Graham. Make sure you have the tissues on hand for this one.

4. The Ghost Monument (81% positive)

The first off-world adventure for the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends, The Ghost Monument takes our heroes across the sweeping deserts of Desolation, encountering a ruthless racemaster (Art Malik), killer robots and creepy bandage creatures along the way. A lot of praise for the episode seems to surround the reveal of the redesigned TARDIS interior, as well as the new opening title sequence and theme tune – not to mention the strong dynamics of the newly formed TARDIS team. So while the plot itself was described by at least one commenter as “forgettable”, other elements worked well enough for many to consider this one a bit of a favourite.

3. Kerblam! (84% positive)

Seven episodes into Series 11, many of our followers found Kerblam! was the first to evoke the feel of old-school Doctor Who. Deadly robots are of course a staple of both classic and revived Who, while the allegorical nature of the story reminded some people of the Seventh Doctor’s era. Many even thought the killer bubble wrap was an amusing nod to the show’s limited budget during the classic series! There were however those who found the ending a letdown, with Charlie’s rebellion overshadowing Kerblam!’s exploitation of its workers. So enjoyable on the surface level, but it does fall apart if you start thinking about it.

2. Rosa (87% positive)

“Outstanding”, “phenomenal”, “beautiful”, “brilliant”… Rosa certainly received high praise from our commenters, thanks in no small part to a superb performance from Vinette Robinson in the title role. Unafraid to address racism and the civil rights movement in what is arguably the most raw and upfront manner in Doctor Who’s history, the episode did attract a few detractors as a result – many of whom expressed their discomfort at the subject matter. Reactions were also mixed towards the villainous Krasko, with many believing he could (and should) have been removed altogether. Nevertheless, the episode remains highly acclaimed.

1. The Woman Who Fell to Earth (89% positive)

With both Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall having their fair share of naysayers ahead of the series launch, the first episode of Series 11 had to be something special. And that it was – our commenters took to the Thirteenth Doctor straight away, enjoying her energy, her humour, her quirkiness, and the traces of other young, manic Doctors they could see inside her. The supporting characters were also described as very well rounded, with commenters disappointed that the (sadly doomed) Grace did not get her chance to explore the universe. And while the plot itself was not rated as particularly groundbreaking, the episode did exactly what it needed to do – it convinced people to come back for more. And given how sceptical some people were about Series 11 to begin with, that in itself is to be applauded.

Want to participate in future polls and surveys? We post new questions on our Facebook page on a regular basis, encouraging our followers to have their say on all things Doctor Who. Find us now by heading over to https://www.facebook.com/drwhoaustralia/, and vote in our Resolution poll 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).

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.