Writing chance for a dream come true

Imagine combining a love of Doctor Who and writing – it’s a dream that comes true for many fans but one that often feels totally out of reach -until now.

Big Finish is looking for a new voice to join their stable and write an adventure for the next Bernice Summerfield and Unbound Doctor box set.

Writers/fans from all around the world have until 23.59 UK time on September 20 to enter the competition.

Writers are being asked to send a single page synopsis and a 3,000-word sample of the script with the Benny team putting together an asset pack containing advice, storyline samples and a template as well as the full list of terms and conditions for anyone hoping to pitch.

Created by author and screenwriter Paul Cornell (Family of Blood, Father’s Day) for the 1992 novel Love and War Bernice Surprise Summerfield is a 30-year-old archaeologist when she first meets the Seventh Doctor. Described as the Doctor’s longest service companion she has appeared in numerous novels and Big Finish productions including her own spin-off series’.

All entries must be submitted electronically either as Word-compatible documents or PDF pages and sent to benny@bigfinish.com.

Select Bernice Summerfield audio adventures are available from the DWCA Shop.

For further information, as well as the asset pack and terms and conditions head to https://www.bigfinish.com/news/v/write-a-benny-adventure.

 

Doctor Who stars past and present in Saturn orbit

Doctor Who is set to have one of its most successful Saturn Awards campaigns ever, with three nominations for this year’s titles.

Doctor Who Series 11 has been nominated for best science fiction television show, while Jodie Whittaker received a nod for best actress and Tosin Cole for best younger actor.

Run by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, the Saturn Awards are now in their 45th year.

The awards honour the hard work and achievements of the people who create and participate in science fiction entertainment. In recent years, they have added television and home entertainment categories and this year Who has dominated.

Doctor Who has now received 20 nominations with three wins so far – winning best single genre television presentation in 1996 for the Paul McGann Doctor Who telemovie, best international series in 2008 (the only time it was awarded) and Best Television Presentation for The Husbands Of River Song in 2016.

Despite nominations for McGann, David Tennant, Bernard Cribbins, Alex Kingston and Jenna Coleman, the show has never won a Saturn acting award. Former Doctor Who star Karen Gillan is also nominated in the best-supporting actress in a film for her role in Avengers: Endgame. Both Cole and Whittaker face stiff opposition in their categories – particularly from Game of Thrones stars, with former Doctor Who semi-regular Maisie Williams also nominated in the younger actor category.

The winners of the 45th Saturn Awards will be announced on Friday 13 September, and be available to watch via livestream for the first time in the event’s history.

Series 12 to feature French Resistance heroine

An eagle-eyed Whovian on Twitter has discovered that Belgian actress Aurora Marion will guest star in Series 12 of Doctor Who – in a role of historical significance.

Twitter user @Ruther2 discovered that Marion’s online CV listed her as playing a “guest role” in an episode of Doctor Who directed by Lee Haven Jones, who has confirmed in interviews that he is indeed working on the upcoming series.

In a post from Marion’s Instagram account, which has since been deleted, she is shown in period hair and costume. The post was made from Cardiff Bay, which was dressed as Nazi-occupied Paris as part of Block 2 of filming for Series 12.

A later post featured a tag which revealed that the name of Marion’s character is Noor Inayat Khan – a real-life World War II wireless operator who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for her service in the Special Operations Executive.

Inayat Khan was a British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force service member of Indian and American descent trained for wireless operation and fluent in French. As an SOE agent she became the first female wireless operator to be sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance during World War II. She was Britain’s first Muslim war heroine.

 

Birthday celebrations for Big Finish

FANS will be treated to a 20-hour weekend livestream marathon of Doctor Who audio dramas on YouTube from July 20-21.

The event, presented by BBC Studios and Big Finish Productions, will celebrate 20 years of Who on audio.

The Big Finish work of David Tennant, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann and David Bradley will be featured on the official YouTube channel of Doctor Who.

As well as more than 20 episodes of Doctor Who episodes, there will be video appearances from plenty of the Doctor’s friends, past and present.

The stories will be livestreamed on YouTube with fans able to join in the conversation via live chat.

The first production was Doctor Who: The Sirens of Time starring Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy in 1999 after Big Finish Productions was granted a licence to create adventures in the audio format.

Big Finish Creative Director and executive producer Nicholas Briggs said since then the company had brought out more than 850 titles from Doctor Who and its various spinoffs and now produced and distributed more than 300 hours of audio drama each year.

“Has it been 20 years already?” he said.

“But we’ve only just got started! Honestly, it has been an absolute delight to have worked alongside the Doctor these past two decades. I started my life as a fan, in the days before on demand and downloads, recording the soundtracks of Doctor Who episodes on audio tape.

“And now it’s my job to place every incarnation of the Time Lord (give or take) in peril in so many exciting audio adventures. I have to pinch myself. I’d like to thank everyone, from the cast in front of the mic, to the writers, directors, sound designers and more behind it, for making it such an amazing journey. Here’s to the future! (Or is it the past?)”

Also premiering during the event is the first episode of Doctor Who: The Legacy of Time – a special anniversary box set release celebrating 20 years of Doctor Who at Big Finish. This first episode stars Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, Alex Kingston as Professor River Song and Lisa Bowerman as Professor Bernice Summerfield. But does the Doctor have room for two time-travelling archaeologists in his life?

Doctor Who: The Legacy of Time will be available from the DWCA Shop in September and check out the Shop’s back catalogue for a wide variety of Big Finish adventures: http://dwca.org.au/products-page/.

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.