Thursday, October 31, 2013

Moffat promises "best ever entrance into the TARDIS" for 50th

In an interview with industry publication Broadcast, Steven Moffat has been talking about the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, 3D, the show's return in 2005 and the "controversy" surrounding the Comic-Con trailer earlier this year. Read the full article HERE.

Talking about the upcoming special the current showrunner says: "A big episode is not the one where you say ‘it’s big’. A big episode can be anything that moves the plot along. My main thing was that as much as we celebrate the past, we can change the narrative. You can’t tell a story by being frightened about it."

Discussing the 3D elements of The Day of the Doctor, Moffat says they were in his "mind from the start" and that its unique dimension will offer, "the best ever entrance into the TARDIS".

Outgoing producer Marcus Wilson adds that the 50th Anniversary special is "the future of what we can do. When I read a Doctor Who script, I want it to contain impossible ideas. When I read this one, I was going around the office saying: ‘how the hell am I going to do this?’."

Regarding Peter Capaldi, the writer commented, "We couldn’t have had another quirky young man because Matt had nailed the part. Peter’s already a bit of a national treasure, an incredibly skilled, fine actor. As most people have realised, the moment you think of him in the part, you find it hard to think of anyone else. Every time I was at a TV do and Peter was there, he’d come over to talk about Doctor Who and he was the first to congratulate Matt. I started thinking: what if that genius actor might actually say ‘yes’?"

On the return of Doctor Who in 2005, Moffat stated that what producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner did was "astonishing". And finally, Steven spoke about The Day of the Doctor trailer which was shown earlier this year at Comic Con in San Diego and seemed to upset some UK "fans", stating: "Comic Con has a history of screening exclusive material. I understand if people are feeling eager – but don’t you think it would have been a little bit early for everyone to see it? We were creating a buzz about it among the people who’d slept out all night for it."

Broadcast magazine is out tomorrow, you can visit their website HERE for the full article. 

Visit for all the info, pics and clips on the 50th Anniversary Special

Tee Offers

Our chums over at Design By Humans have got some fab Doctor Who tees available, just in time to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. Above you can find Impossible Call Box which is available in men and women's Tees, as well as art prints and phone cases. Buy HERE. Below you can see Dr. Hoot and Time Fiction. Visit Design By Humans HERE.

Below, you can also find a new Doctor Who tee on sale from Gimmick tees. Tardis Ice Pops is available in various sizes and types all week - you can buy it HERE.

So maybe it's time to start stocking up for Christmas, and get the Who fan in your life a Tee for that special day! (Or maybe just be selfish and get one for yourself!) I'm good for tees thanks, so you don't need to get me one. :P

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Last Day - Day of the Doctor DVD extra [UPDATE]

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) have passed some "additional material" for The Day of the Doctor's home video release. Titled The Last Day, it's classed as VAM (Value Added Material) which are also known as "Special Features" or "Extras" on DVDs and Bluray. It has a running time of 3m 57s. It is not currently known who is starring in it or who has written it.

The DVD and Bluray will also feature an extra called The Day of the Doctor: Behind The Lens which, according to the BBFC, has a running time of 13m 15s and stars Matt Smith and David Tennant. The Day of the Doctor DVD and Bluray are released in the UK on Dec 2 - pre-order HERE

Visit for all the info you need on the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special. 

An Adventure in Space & Time interviews

The BBC has released some interviews from the cast and crew of the upcoming drama, An Adventure in Space and Time. Check them out below. First up is an interview with the film's writer, Mark Gatiss (The Unquiet Dead, The Crimson Horror).

What can viewers expect from the drama?
Principally, it's the story of how Doctor Who was created, so we concentrate on the very beginnings and the first few episodes. There are lots of treats for the fans but it's also the story of William Hartnell, the first Doctor and how the part transformed his life.

Why did you want to tell this story?
I'm a life-long Doctor Who fan and the origins of this beloved show have always fascinated me. But, above all, I wanted it to strike a chord on a human level. These were brilliant, complex, talented people making something revolutionary. And, in William Hartnell, we have the very affecting story of a man redeemed by the role of a lifetime who then, sadly, had to let it go. I think we can all relate to something like that in our lives.

What was the casting process like? Did you set out to find such good lookalikes?
I'd had David Bradley in mind for some years but it wasn't simply a question of a good likeness! David is such a fine and delicate actor, I knew he'd find something wonderful in the part. With everyone else, I stressed that we must first and foremost get the right people for the job. But it turned out the right people also bear the most amazing resemblances to the originals! Costume and make-up, of course, played a huge part in that.

Could you explain a little bit about the research process?
Doctor Who is probably unique in terms of TV shows in that its history has been exhaustively researched for years. Happily, this means that there are lots of interviews existing with people who are no longer with us. I'd wanted to tell the story for years – I sort of grew up with it. How no-one wanted the Daleks. About the first episode going out just after JFK was shot. But I wanted to get deeper than just the details of production and find the human story. I conducted new interviews with a lot of the original cast and crew. They were all hugely enthusiastic and very helpful.

Did you uncover any facts or information that you didn’t previously know as a Doctor Who fan?
A few bits and bobs but, as I say, most of it is very well documented now! It was very touching, though, to talk to people about a part of their loves that was often very happy and to discuss people long gone.

There were so many people involved in the show’s beginnings, why did you decide to focus on the four central characters of Hartnell, Newman and Lambert and Hussein?
I had to focus it down. Simple as that. This is a drama, not a documentary, and though it's extremely painful to have to leave out some people who played a huge part, it makes dramatic sense. You simply can't do everyone justice in 90 minutes. For instance, the story of how Terry Nation and Ray Cusick created the Daleks is almost a film all on its own! Jeff Rawle plays Mervyn Pinfield, who was the Associate Producer, and his character sort of absorbs several others including Donald Wilson and the brilliant David Whitaker – the first script editor - whose contribution was immeasurable.

Set in the 1960s the drama brings to life that era through the costumes, hair and make-up and the sets, including the first ever TARDIS console. What was it like being on set?
It was extraordinary. To see the original TARDIS recreated genuinely took my breath away and everyone who came to the set had the same reaction. It was frequently quite uncanny. We used some of the original Marconi cameras and, on the black and white monitors, seeing David, Jemma, Jamie and Claudia was like looking back through Time. Spooky and very moving.

Finally, what do you hope audiences take away from the drama?
This is my love-letter to Doctor Who! In this 50th anniversary year, I hope fans will enjoy and be thrilled by it and all the kisses to the past it's laden with. But my greatest wish is that it appeals to people who know very little or nothing about Doctor Who and see the struggle of talented people (almost) accidentally creating a legend!

Read Blogtor's interview with Mark Gatiss HERE. An Adventure in Space and Time will air during the week of Nov 16-22 on BBC Two. The ninety minute special stars David Bradley (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship) as William Hartnell, read what he has to say below.

"It has to be said, after some initial reluctance to do something for children’s TV, I think he [William Hartnell] was quickly convinced that it was the right thing for him to do. He felt quite insecure about it as it was new territory for him, but once he started he embraced the whole idea of the part. I know he had a reputation at times for being cantankerous and rather difficult and one has to play that."

"It was clear from research and hearing his colleagues talk about him that he was a perfectionist. He demanded a lot of himself and he expected everyone around him to show the same level of commitment. He was invited to school fetes in the full outfit and I thought how brilliant and touching that was. It’s clear that he absolutely loved it and found it very hard to let go. That’s an element that Mark Gatiss brings out in the script."

"I think maybe when people joined the show later, different directors and different actors, if they showed a lack of commitment then it would upset him and he would let people know that’s how he felt. There are moments of sadness in Space And Time where he becomes aware that he hasn’t got the strength to do it anymore."

"It’s been one of those great jobs and an experience I’ll always remember. We’re honouring something that’s been part of television history for 50 years and I hope I’ve done justice to an actor that I admire greatly."

Read more interviews from the cast HERE. For the latest pics and news on An Adventure in Space and Time, click HERE.


Starring Lalla Ward, Louise Jameson and more.

Out Now

Daleks on Gallifrey! Big Finish opt to wrap up the continuing adventures of Romana, Leela, K9 and Co. by going big, bold and (Dalekanium) brassy.  It’s an effective means of luring in the unseasoned listener.  If your first introduction to the Gallifrey audio series was this one (as it was mine), then it’s a great place to start.

Whilst they’ve always been a visually arresting icon in Who history, the sound of the Daleks has been just as important in maintaining their hold on public imagination. Big Finish excel in presenting an immersive soundscape for the listener, punctuated by the harsh, metallic tones of Nicholas Briggs’ array of Skarosian voices.

There’s a LOT of back-story to the Gallifrey series, having run on and off over a nine year period, pre-dating the revival of Doctor Who on TV.  This covers a dizzying array of references to The Axis, the Pandora Devastation, the Dogma Virus and events on Etra Prime. I approached this series knowing next to nothing about those. Thankfully the fast-pace of Extermination, the first in this three-part series, throws the listener straight into the action as Skaro’s finest sweep through the Time Lord corridors of power, sending our heroes running down those same corridors.

Along the way we discover that we are in fact on an alternate Gallifrey, absent time travel capability and enormous collars; its energies instead having been diverted into making weapons.  Handy, of course, when faced with a marauding force of Daleks.

Whilst the listener might have little doubt that Leela will cheerfully take up arms in battle, surely not so with Romana? All the more shocking then, when she demonstrates a willingness to do so, and inflict torture on an injured Dalek, a very effective hint at the darker times she’s had to endure. By contrast, in a similar face-off with a vulnerable dalek, Leela’s preference is to give it the opportunity for a fair fight.

Lalla Ward and Louise Jameson are both on excellent form throughout, creating a wholly believable sense of deep friendship and trust between their respective characters, with strong support from Sean Carlsen as Controller Narvin, the spider at the centre of the Celestial Intervention Agency web. And I have to say that it’s particularly heartening, as one who struggled all those many years ago to come to terms with the idea of Leela tamely marrying off with Random Gallifreyan Guard, to hear her character gleefully throwing herself back in the fray again.

Having seemingly defeated the Dalek threat, Romana, Leela and Narvin discover a route (via The Axis) back to their version of Gallifrey, devastated by the effects of the Dogma Virus, etc... During Renaissance” and Ascennsion, parts 2 and 3 of this series, they are joined by Juliet Landau as an equally strong character.  It hardly seems necessary to employ a SPOILER ALERT at this point given the cast listings, but we soon discover that there’s more than one Romana at large on Gallifrey.  And so “future” Romana reveals her plan, having travelled from a point in Gallifrey’s future, bearing the gift of a ready made, rebuilt Capitol which she offers to have “grafted” on to the shattered current version, to speed up Gallifrey’s return to prominence.

Elements of televisual Gallifreyan history are liberally referenced, with the Romanas working to maintain the transplant of the new Capitol upon Gallifrey by balancing the transduction barriers against the Eye of Harmony and…cough…that sort of thing.

The story manoeuvres into political and diplomatic territory then, as Romana II attempts to quickly capitalise on the rebuilt Gallifrey by declaring it open for business and engaging with other time travelling races.  However the cracks begin to show and it soon becomes apparent that the brave new Gallifrey has been built on shaky foundations: in quick succession Romana III becomes president, banishing Romana II (via Type 40 TARDIS). Then, echoing the events at the end of The Deadly Assassin, the Eye of Harmony starts opening.

Another SPOILER ALERT coming up as, battling to close the Eye, Romana II is unable to hold back her resultant regeneration. We soon discover, however, that she has in fact fallen through a Matrix door. If the previous two episodes provided echoes of The Invasion of Time and The Deadly Assassin, the events of Ascension owe a considerable debt to The Trial of a Time Lord: The Ultimate Foe, as Leela, Narvin, Romana III and a mysterious stranger fight for survival in a decaying Gallifreyan Capitol, while Romana II finds herself in yet another version of Gallifrey, soon joined there by K9.

I, for one, was glad of K9’s presence, to explain just who was in the Matrix and where the doors were.  John Leeson adds his dependable support to the cast, and it’s a treat to hear K9 get his chance FINAL SPOILER ALERT to take on the Daleks as they appear once more, having hidden in the Matrix.

Through the course of three very entertaining episodes of Gallifrey VI, it’s clear that there are a lot of plot threads to satisfactorily tie up, going back over the nine or so years of the entire series.  A tall order, and one that’s possibly just slightly out of reach.  There is however much to commend about this new release.  Those who enjoy sinking their teeth into a generous serving of continuity won’t be disappointed.  But the conviction of the acting, the easy familiarity between the regular characters and the strong performances of Mesdames Ward, Jameson and Landau provide much for the newer listener to enjoy.

And finally when it seems that the story has reached its conclusion, there’s a cunningly placed link back into the established Who-niverse. You’ll have to listen to find that one out though. No spoilers…

Big Finish round off the Gallifrey VI set with cast and crew interviews, drawing together their accounts of the making of the entire series. It’s an enjoyable account, from a group who’ve clearly enjoyed creating a rather special part of the Big Finish range.

Thanks to Big Finish

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blue Peter celebrates Who's 50th

Long-running BBC "children's" television programme Blue Peter is to continue its strong association with Doctor Who, with the launch of an exciting new Blue Peter Doctor Who competition and two live specials. Details below:
In an exclusive competition, Blue Peter viewers aged between six and 15 will be asked to design new sonic devices for Sontaran Commander Strax, Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint. Their gadgets will feature in the iconic science fiction series. The winner will get the unique opportunity to see their gadget in action on the set of Doctor Who.

On Thursday 21 November and Saturday 23 November, Barney, Lindsey and Radzi will be joined by aliens and monsters in the studio and the audience will be able to design their very own alien live on air.

Blue Peter viewers will have their questions answered by Matt Smith; they will be able to get ready for the 50th anniversary show by making their very own cushion (to hide behind); and we’ll help them to host a Doctor Who party by showing them how to make Dalek cupcakes.
Blue Peter airs Thursday 21 November  5.30pm on CBBC. Sticking with CBBC, details of their  12 Again: Doctor Who special have also been announced. Details below:
Super fans join cast members past and present to share their memories of watching TV’s top Time Lord when they were young. Who was their Doctor when they were a kid? Which aliens had them hiding behind the sofa?

Featuring CBBC’s super fan Chris Johnson, impressionist Jon Culshaw, Tommy Knight (Luke Smith), Warwick Davis (Porridge), Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra), Dan Starkey (Strax) Louise Jameson (Leela) and the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy.

We’ll find out about the Doctor himself, the TARDIS and the famous theme tune as we travel back to a different dimension with our celebrities as they become 12 Again.
 The BBC have also announced Doctor Who: Greatest Monsters & Villains Weekend on BBC Three which begins on Friday, 15 November at 7pm. Details below:
The fantastic foes that have gone up against our time-traveling hero in his first-half century are a huge part of Doctor Who. By turns scary, funny, iconic, thrilling and on occasions charismatic, they help define the show’s enduring appeal and fifty years after the Daleks were created, the monsters of Doctor Who remain an integral part of what makes the series so special. Doctor Who: Greatest Monsters & Villains Weekend will be a marvellous salute to those baddies who have blighted the Doctor’s life and added so much excitement to ours.

An Adventure in Space & Time poster art

The BBC have released two sensational bits of poster art for the upcoming Mark Gatiss drama, An Adventure in Space & Time - click on the images included here for bigger versions. Featured below is actress Jessica Raine (Hide) as Verity Lambert. Check out more promotional pictures HERE.

An Adventure in Space & Time stars David Bradley (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship) as William Hartnell/The First Doctor and looks at the genesis of Doctor Who. The ninety minute film will be broadcast on BBC Two during Week 47 (Nov 16-23) whilst it airs in Australia on Nov 24 - for more info, visit HERE.

Thanks to BBC Pictures

David Tennant on BBC Breakfast

Actor David Tennant, who older readers may remember used to be Doctor Who, was a guest on BBC Breakfast earlier this morning with writer David Woolstencroft - watch his interview in the player below. For the most part part he was promoting his new BBC drama, The Escape Artist (which starts tonight, review HERE), but he also chatted about Richard II, Doctor Who and the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, working with Matt Smith, and who his favourite Doctor is.

For more info on the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special visit

Tee Offers

Our buddies over at RIPT Apparel have got another two great Doctor Who designs for sale - for 24 hours only! Titled Doctor Tracy 10 and Doctor Tracy 11, the tees are available worldwide for $10 - visit the site HERE! They're also available in kids sizes, a fleece hoody, a onesie and in prints, coasters and iPhone cases!

Above, you can find a new Doctor Who tee on sale from Gimmick tees. Tardis Ice Pops is available in various sizes and types all week - you can buy it HERE.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited – The Eleventh Doctor

BBC America celebrates the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, in a new special of Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited. Smith first stepped into the TARDIS in 2010 and will leave the series after starring in the 50th Anniversary Special on November 23 and regenerating in the Christmas special. The Doctors Revisited begins with Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman (companion Clara Oswald), lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, among others, examining the human side of this Doctor and taking a look at how all the years he has lived have affected him. The special is followed by the Eleventh Doctor story The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon.

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited – The Eleventh Doctor airs on Sunday, Nov 24, 8pm ET/PT and Nov 16 at 2pm on Watch in the UK.


Doctor Who Children In Need 2013

The BBC have released some details regarding this year's annual Children In Need appeal. The charity night, which has a had a long association with Doctor Who, will feature the show "lending a hand" to the evening's proceedings. In the past special scenes have been screened, such as Time Crash in 2007, and actors have appeared live on the evening itself, such as David Tennant. Full details will be published soon.

This year's Children In Need takes place on Friday Nov 15.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

News Round Up

Despite no new episodes on telly, news comes in thick and fast in the world of Doctor Who - and some juicy nuggets may have passed you by. Collected here is a round-up of the very latest news. Don't forget you can follow Blogtor Who on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news on Doctor Who - follow HERE. Read the last news round~up HERE.

The Science of Doctor Who
The Day of the Doctor UK 3D cinema screenings details
New Zealand Mint celebrates 50th with 11 Silver Doctors
Doctor Who play comes to London
50 Things in the 50th Anniversary trailer
50th Anniversary trailer breakdown
Doctor Who 50th Anniversary trailer
50th Anniversary promotional picture
The Day of the Doctor promo pics
Details for Australian screenings of The Day of the Doctor

First director announced
Team Vastra to return in 2014

The Escape Artist, Ep 1
The Light at the End
Ghosts in the Machine
The Doctor, The Widow & the Wardrobe/The Snowmen OST
Wizards Vs Aliens BFI screening
Wizards Vs Aliens, 100 Wizards Part One

Promo pics
More promo pics

TARDIS set tours return
Official Season 18 Fourth Doctor Burgundy Scarf
BFI announce Eleventh Doctor screenings
Time travel novel, Sorrowline
Great TARDIS book
Doctor Who play comes to London
Doctor Who Magazine 466

The Blogtor Who Top 50 - No. 5, City of Death
The Blogtor Who Top 50 - No.6, Kinda
Wizards Vs Aliens, Series 2 guide
Doctor Who play comes to London
Wizards Vs Aliens BFI screening
Who At Fifty - Manchester festival

Who at Fifty - Manchester festival

Doctor Who is fifty years old on the 23rd November, 2013 and four of Manchester’s best loved venues are teaming up with a host of events over two weeks to help you celebrate!  New drama, live episodes, screenings, poetry and a great big party for Doctor Who’s 50th birthday on Saturday, 23rd November.  With more goodies than you can shake a sonic screwdriver at, it’s truly bigger on the inside!

THE ART OF WHO kicks things off on Saturday, 16th November with your chance to meet some of the amazing talents behind the Doctor Who comic strip – currently the Guinness Book of Records World Record holder for the longest running tie-in comic strip.  You’ll see rare art, chat to the creators and maybe buy some original art if the fancy takes you!

Another key creative Who at Fifty is also delighted to welcome is ANDREW CARTMEL who will be in conversation at the Lass O’Gowrie on the 30th November. As script editor during the later years of the original run, Andrew did much to lay the ground for Russell T Davies triumphant return in 2005 and is a key voice in the evolution of the show from ratings also-ran to conqueror of Ant and Dec.

Sunday, 17th November sees a chance to meet the very first director of Doctor Who – WARIS HUSSEIN, one of the men who created Doctor Who in 1963. A BAFTA winner and renowned director, this is the first time Waris has appeared in Manchester and is not to be missed! Waris will also be present at a very special live restaging of his original debut AN UNEARTHLY CHILD at FAB Café. A full cast, live performance of the very first episode from 1963 starring Phil Dennison as the Doctor, this unique presentation is being staged in support of the Alzheimer’s Society and is brought to you by Lass Productions and Scytheplays, the team behind 2013 fringe smash hits V for Vendetta and the Ballad of Halo Jones.

An Unearthly Child runs on the 17th, 18th and 19th November and is performed as a double bill with the follow-up, EDGE OF DESTRUCTION on the 23rd November. Edge of Destruction then continues its run on the 24th and 25th November.

The drama doesn’t end there. Who at Fifty also showcases the premiere of AN ADVENTURE IN TIME AND SPACE; 50 YEARS IN 50 RELS – an anarchic and hilarious celebration of everyone’s favourite Time Lord, brought you by our ridiculously talented ensemble and Manchester Theatre Award winning playwright (and lifelong Who fan) Ian Winterton. Other Doctor Who inspired drama not to be missed includes THE PYRAMIDS OF MARGATE, a solo theatre tragicomedy addressing (alien) life, love, dreams and … Tom Baker which wowed the critics at Edinburgh and NEMESIS – a rehearsed play reading from David Agnew, a bittersweet tale of a couple and how the return of Doctor Who to our screens in 2005 makes an indelible mark on their lives.

Doctor Who has always had a great and British sense of humour at its heart.  The programme even had comic genius Douglas Adams as script editor in the late Seventies! With this in mind, Who at Fifty showcases more comedy than you can shake a Perigosto Stick at!

Fringe favourites THE SCOTTISH FALSETTO SOCK PUPPET THEATRE return to the Lass on the 17th November with Socks in Space, their sell-out Edinburgh show with some very special new Doctor Who material to tease us with. They are also joined later that evening by a Doctor Who themed WET FEET special stand-up evening, with Manchester’s biggest Who fan comedians giving their all with MC JOHN COOPER. John is also at the helm for JUST AN EARTH MINUTE – A Doctor Who tinged edition of the Radio Four classic. Stand-up and poet, ROD TAME tells us how Doctor Who makes his life make sense with his sell-out show STRANGE WORLD, ODD PERSON on the 25th November, while fans themselves get to dictate the action in a very special improvised episode of Doctor Who performed by the Comedysportz improve comedy troupe in LET’S SEE WHAT HAPPENS on Saturday, 30th November.

You don’t necessarily need to be an avid fan to take part in the fun?  Thursday, 21st November sees a very special Doctor Who edition of the LASS PUB QUIZ, in association with the Manchester Library Service.  Hosted by ROD TAME with special guest BERNARD PADDEN, who starred as Tylos in Full Circle – a Tom Baker Doctor Who story from 1980, the quiz promises, fun, clips and other interactive treats to challenge the casual fan and hardcore followers of Doctor Who alike.

It wouldn’t be Doctor Who without a few screenings either, and Who at Fifty has plenty on offer.  Monday, 18th November sees a rare 16mm film screening of THIS SPORTING LIFE – the 1963 kitchen sink drama starring Richard Harris and William Hartnell that convinced BBC TV bosses to give Hartnell the role of the Doctor and in doing so, change TV history. The 26th November sees a screening of the David Tennant epic THE STOLEN EARTH while the Lass O’Gowrie will show the big anniversary special – the DAY OF THE DOCTOR on big screens in HD on the evening of the 23rd and drama AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME on the 22nd.  Finally, Wednesday THE COBBLES OF DOOM on the 20th at Taurus celebrates the links between Corrie and Doctor Who with an evening of clips and interviews brought to you by the Fiction Stroker and PHIL COLLINSON, the only man to have ever produced both Doctor Who and Coronation Street.

Participating venues include: the Lass O’Gowrie, FAB Café, Taurus and the Town Hall Tavern. Tickets are available on the door (unless sold out) and advance tickets are available from

REVIEW: Wizards Vs Aliens BFI screening

Wizards Vs Aliens
The Thirteenth Floor
BFI Southbank, London, Oct 27, 2013

Ft. Phil Ford, Annette Badland and more

Review by Jack Bowman

If you didn't catch the first series of former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies and The Waters of Mars co-writer Phil Ford's Wizards Vs Aliens, now is the chance to make up for that with the arrival of its second series on the CBBC Channel.

For those unfamiliar with the set-up of the show, it follows the adventures of Tom Clarke and his family, mostly all possessing magical abilities, who find themselves hunted by the Nekross, an alien race that consume magic and have sought out Earth's wizards as their last possible source of food in the universe. With the first series absolutely selling the genre-bending premise with the style and confidence you'd expect from the team behind the sadly-missed Sarah Jane Adventures while quickly establishing its own identity, WvA is ready for Series Two to develop the format in surprising and beautiful ways.

Phil Ford and Michael Higgs
Rather than present the series opener as one might expect, the BFI was fortunate to enough to be screening The Thirteenth Floor (originally developed by co-creator Phil Ford for SJA), a two-part story that comes much later in this year's run. We find Tom and his best mate Benny investigating the mysterious Wyvern House, a multi-storey, multi-company business block, where they quickly discover that Floor 13 appears to be missing, while the building has a reputation for sinister disappearances...

Showing us a mid-series story might seem an unusual move, but it turned out to be a master-stroke. Without giving away too much, it was absolutely a knock-out piece of telly which, after taking some complete left-field turns, promises not only that much fun will be had leading up to the storylines seen here, but also there will be much higher stakes leading towards the series finale. In short, if anything thinks WvA will play safe because it's "kids telly", prepare to be very, very surprised by the bravery and boldness the show will be taking this year.

There was nothing to fault with The Thirteenth Floor, everything was exceptional - the acting, writing, direction, composing, FX and prosthetics work were flawless, all rising to the challenge of this exceptional piece, and combined they all looked stunning on the BFI's cinema main screen. Just you wait and see.

Higgs, Badland, Ascott and Haran
It was incredibly heartening to see so many families attending the screening, amongst them a genuine number of child fans of the show were present to put the assembled panel of Scott Haran (Tom), Percelle Ascott (Benny), Michael Higgs and Annette Badland (who play Tom's father and gran respectively), Executive Producer Brian Minchin and Phil Ford through their paces. The BFI have always shown exceptional generosity towards younger visitors at screenings such as this, and a good-natured and funny Q & A resulted for all. For any family in attendence, the BFI must have left them all smiling greatly.

Wizards Vs Aliens is back, and it very much means business. Absolutely catch it on your TVs, from tomorrow onwards.

Thanks to the BFI

Review by Jack Bowman

REVIEW: The Escape Artist, Ep 1 [spoiler-free]

The Escape Artist, Episode One
Starring David Tennant

Airs Oct 29

"If you're chained up in a safe at the bottom of a shark tank you don't call for Paul Daniels - you call for Houdini."

Houdini, in this case, turns out to be expert barrister Will Burton, played by David Tennant, who has never lost a case in defending his clients. The chap chained up, in this instance, is the hugely unlikeable Liam Foyle (Toby Kebbell), who appears to have committed a rather brutal, sexually-charged murder. Of course, it's Will's job to prove he didn't.

Due to the spoilerific nature of the story, that's all I'll say on the story from Spooks creator, David Wolstencroft which deals with the morality of Burton's job but also the very notions of guilt itself (from this episode, the lines are blurred) whilst creating an intensely entertaining piece of television drama. To be honest, The Escape Artist gets off to a slow start, but I certainly don't mean that pejoratively. The opening twenty minutes or so give the audience a chance, and a welcome one in the current pace of small screen shows, to engage with numerous characters and try to understand, at least, their thoughts.

Burton's family are the main focus with a very natural and warm performance from Ashley Jensen (Extras) who plays the loving wife/mother perfectly whilst Tennant puts in another tremendous show, after his brilliant turn in Broadchurch earlier this year. His character is complex and has to deal with the nastier side of his job, face-to-face and also juggles with being the loving husband/dad. It would have been easy to paint him as work-obsessed but writer Wolstencroft is far too canny for that.

Outside the stern and earnest court scene moments, there's a wonderfully touching moment when the realities of the law, and modern life, get to him. The barrister breaks down on his son's bed and tearfully rues to his wife, "The world is broken." Deeply affecting. Will's honesty in describing his work, "Everyone deserves a defence," could seem almost naive but Tennant's skills portray the veracity of the statement, even though he has to come to terms with what that very sentence entails when he defends Foyle.

Actor Toby Kebbell puts in a chilling portrayal of the accused, but it most definitely not your usual murderer (if he is one). Kebbell is sensitive in moments, revealing, "I don't like people very much. I'm not a very nice person," whilst also admitting he feels uncomfortable in the presence of certain lawyers. It's an unnerving and unsettling role, but you'll be hard pressed, under examination, to identify just why for the most part. Like BBC Two's The Fall earlier this year, the "baddie" can also be a good, intelligent and sensitive person.

The Escape Artist, like the aforementioned Broadchurch and The Fall, will be one of those shows that everyone talks about as it darts from surprise to revelation to shock with its first class cast and script. Be advised, don't miss it on transmission.


The Escape Artist, Episode One airs Oct 29 at 9pm on BBC One