Class Season One - Episode 1 - For Tonight, We Might DieBookmark and Share

Saturday, 22 October 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Class - Series 1 (Credit: BBC/Todd Antony)

Starring: Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins, Vivian Oparah, Katherine Kelly, with Peter Capaldi as The Doctor.

Written By: Patrick Ness
Directed By: Edward Bazalgette

Released Online (BBC Three)  - 22nd October 2016 

This review contains spoilers


Coal Hill School has now become an academy, and it is some time since popular teacher Clara Oswald became missing, presumed dead. Life at the educational establishment goes on though, and a quartet of remarkable youngsters are attending the academy: Charlie, April, Ram and Tanya. One of these is an aloof and unpredictable young man, another a self-conscious but kind and loyal young lady, another a promising athlete with something of a chip on his shoulder, and the last a brilliant student who has skipped a year and who tells things exactly the way they are.

'The way things are' ..become somewhat surreal, however. A student has suddenly gone missing, and a new teacher - Miss Quill - has joined Coal Hill and acts in the most awkward and unnatural of ways. A shadow creature is beginning to stalk students, and before long a legion of otherworldly beings are stampeding the premises, despite a carefully arrange prom by April.

Could this be grounds for the return of Coal Hill's rather eccentric Caretaker??



Class (Credit: BBC)2016 will go down in Doctor Who lore as something of a 'gap year'. The first one of these was back in 2009, which featured a number of specials. Since then, other years have been rather light in terms of having new material with the Doctor on TV. Currently, fans are eagerly awaiting Series 10 to materialise onscreen in the spring of 2017. In the meantime, there will be the customary Christmas special.

There now is also this particular edition to the wider Who mythos, and somewhat appropriately it is set  in the school that was the workplace of the first two human companions of the Doctor - Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright -  before they were whisked away on the most incredible of journeys.


Other spin-offs have been part of early evening or prime time TV once modern Doctor Who fully got under way. Torchwood was most deliberately intertwined with the main Who universe, despite its very different target audience. Class falls between the parent show, and Torchwood, in that the 'young adult' is the intended demographic. There is some gore now and again, and sexuality and relationships are given much emphasis - unsurprising, with the show set in an academy, with teenagers on the verge of adulthood.

Many fans will have been made aware by press that the Twelfth Doctor would pop up immediately in this maiden run of the new show. However, as it turns out he is used sparingly enough to allow the main protagonists to have their crucial limelight. Having the Doctor teased as being shown in a flash back to explain Quill and Charlie being on Earth in the first place is a wise move, before the eventual crisis point where he pops up in the nick of time to quell the threat posed by the Shadow Kin. Capaldi manages to make the most of his limited screen time and continues to act in the vein of a traditionally open and friendly Doctor, as he did for much of the 2015 TV run.

Some of these new characters that viewers will follow in coming weeks are more engaging than others, owing both to the script and to the actual actor. Miss Quill (Katherine Kelly), and April (Sophie Hopkins) definitely stand out best for me, although there is a lot of potential for Charlie (Greg Austin) as well, given his back story. Tanya and Ram do have their moments but sometimes can feel stilted. Fady Elsayed has a substantial enough resume already, but can't overcome the 'jock' clichés enough for him to be particularly remarkable in this first installment. Vivian Oparah shows some of her acting inexperience at times, but still convinces more than not, and should grow into the role under the solid production team involved with the show.


Patrick Ness' script is reliable and confident in getting a suitably energetic adventure across, but also affording some good work into making us connect with the characters, and that includes some of the relatives of the students. Ness also wants to keep one guessing, which is always an asset of TV drama. One or two other academy students had the potential to end up as main characters, but are killed off by the Shadow Kin in resounding fashion. And the violence does mean this is not really a show for 'under-12s', with Rachel's gory death, and Ram's horrific leg injury really pushing the envelope. 11829519-low-.jpg

The direction and music - from Ed Bazalgette and Blair Mowat, are similarly assured. Some scenes flash by in heartbeat, but the overall feel of the episode is just coherent enough, that the fast pace is manageable.  This season opener has many moments of literal light and shade to explore and the production makes the most of the opportunities afforded. Obviously, the budget is not in the same stratosphere as Doctor Who, and some of the effects with the Shadow Kin or the unearthly dimensions that April or Charlie can see in their mind's eye do require a little tolerance on a given viewer, used to more seamless CGI.

Class stands up as a show with a steady foundation and a lot of good will both in front of and behind the camera. It may currently not appear to offer anything truly pioneering, given the likes of Buffy, Misfits and many late afternoon teenage dramas, that have graced TV screens. But it is still a justifiable addition to the Doctor Who canon and has plenty of room to grow into something truly distinct and memorable.


Doom Coalition 3Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 20 October 2016 - Reviewed by Ben Breen
Doom Coalition: 3 (Credit: Big Finish)
Paul McGann (The Doctor), Nicola Walker (Liv Chenka), Hattie Morahan (Helen Sinclair), Alex Kingston (River Song), Jeremy Clyde (George), Ian Puleston-Davies (Angus Selwyn), Richard Hope (Phillip Cook/Kal), Anna Acton (Kate Drury), John Shrapnel (Thomas Cromwell), Kasia Koleczek (Apolena), Glen McCready (Solvers/Abbot), Emma D'Inverno (Rosalia), Tim McMullan (Octavian), Janie Dee (Risolva), Robert Bathurst (Padrac), John Heffernan (The Imposter) and Nicholas Woodeson (The Clocksmith). Other parts portrayed by the cast.

Big finish Productions

The Doom Coalition series, which follows on from the acclaimed Dark Eyes box sets, is a very promising sequel saga.  The third installment has a large amount to live up to after the events of Doom Coalition 1 and 2.  In order to help the reviewing process, I won’t go into the more intricate plot details, partially to not make this review longer than it needs to be, but also to allow for those listening to the story to experience their own responses to the unfolding events.

3.1. Absent Friends

Mobile Phones are commonplace today, but twenty years ago they were still technically considered as a new innovation.  The opening of this story transports us to a time and place where a phone mast is considered an eyesore by residents of a small English village.  Living with the recent entrance of a mobile communications company into their midst, The promise of a free phone seems far too good to be true, an observation this reviewer made as soon as it was brought to the table.

Landing in the aforementioned small village, using debit cards (an unfamiliar technology to them), with a pin number that is actually a Doctor Who TV Easter egg, Liv and Helen are booked into a pub and The Doctor goes off to tinker with the Tardis.  As Helen goes on what would seem like a reckless journey that has the potential to rip holes in space and time, the mast is revealed to be causing problems of its own and they most certainly have far-reaching consequences.

This story’s relatively calm opening is supplemented by a suspenseful plot, along with some suitably awkward moments that contrast this to what might be expected.  This was a very much appreciated introduction, with an ending that might just leave you scratching your head.


3.2. The Eighth Piece

This story’s intro, after the structure of 3.1 Absent Friends, might come as a bit of a shock.  However, as the three simultaneous missions of The Doctor, Liv and Helen to uncover pieces of an ancient device begin to conjoin, the implications of what happened in the previous box set also begin to make a part of a greater whole.  Alex Kingston returns in an appearance that is not entirely surprising but is definitely a welcome re-entry into the series, with references to the prior events meaning that to fully grasp what’s going on, it is best you check out Doom Coalition 1 and 2.


3.3. The Doomsday Chronometer

The introduction to this episode actually takes place part way through the second story, 3.2 The Eighth Piece.  Confusing?  That’s how the rest of the story builds itself, around multifaceted plotlines that all converge to be part of a greater whole, much like the titular Doomsday Chronometer.  With the discovery of clues and hints pointing to pieces of the device, so to come references to other times in The Doctor’s and River Song’s lives, as documented in the television show.  This particular episode might seem convoluted, but eventually, it coalesces into an easier to understand line that works its way smoothly into the final part of this box set. Moreover, we see an appearance from a crucial figure we have not seen thus far in Doom Coalition 3, but whose return was, I think, inevitable.


3.4. The Crucible of Souls

The occasionally comedic overtones this concluding story provides are overshadowed by the high stakes situation.  If I say any more than that this review would surely double in length to accommodate the necessary plot summaries and character profiling.  Suffice it to say, it was very much worth the wait.

Doom Coalition 3 was definitely worth waiting for, with a cast who deliver their lines with great emphasis on their characterisation, a score that fits directly into the production and a plot that whilst it might be confusing is still understandable.  With the end of Doom Coalition 3, realisation dawns on the fact that all we as fans have to do now is wait for the conclusion of the saga.  Personally,  I am excited at the prospect of the final four stories and the potential they have to be at least as good as, if not better than Dark Eyes 4, the final box set in the preceding series.


This title was released in September 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until October 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date

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The Memory Bank and Other Stories (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 17 October 2016 - Reviewed by Richard Brinck-Johnsen
The Memory Bank and Other Stories (Credit: Big Finish)

Written by Chris Chapman, Paul Magrs, Eddie Robson,
and Ian Potter

Directed by Helen Goldwyn

Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Mark Strickson (Turlough),Suzann McLean(Max/Autumn Voice), Ian Brooker (Archivist/Computer/Elder), Sarah Sweeney (Diamon/Lara) Mandi Symonds(Alitha/Inspector Jill Sveinsbottir) Duncan Wisbey (Grayling Frimlish/Shiri/Zounds),Kae Alexander (Waywalker)

Big Finish Productions – Released October 2016

This year’s anthology release of four single-episode stories featuresPeter Davison and Mark Strickson on great form as the Fifth Doctor and Turlough in a collection which following in a now annual tradition does not disappoint. Largely due, one assumes, to Strickson’s limited availability and the decision to use Turlough in a long-running arc which also involved Tegan and Nyssa and only concluded in March 2015 with The Entropy Plague, this is the only the fourth release in the Big Finish main range to feature this particular pairing and the first in over a decade since 2005’s Singularity. The continuity gap in the between Tegan’s departure in Resurrection of the Daleks and Turlough’s exit in the following televised adventure Planet of Fire remains ripe for exploitation making this team an excellent choice for this anthology. It is also a joy for those who listen to the behind the scenes tracks, to discover that the director for this collection is long-time Big Finish regular Helen Goldwyn, best known as an actress whose numerous credits included series regular Elena in the much-missed audio series of The Tomorrow People.

The Memory Bank by Chris Chapman plays with the concept of lost memory and why memories are important, a theme which loosely recurs throughout this anthology. This is a strong start to the set with good supporting performances from Suzann McLean as Max and Ian Brooker as both the Archivist and Archive computer voice.

The Last Fairy Tale has a typical feel of a Paul Magrs story which sees the Doctor and Turlough arrive in a medieval European town awaiting a storyteller for whom, naturally, the Doctor is quickly mistaken. This enjoyable tale clearly evokes the importance of storytelling as a way of preserving memory and again is well-supported, especially byDuncan Wisbey as Frimlish.

Repeat Offender by Eddie Robson is the highlight of the set with a cleverly evoked futuristic setting of 22nd Century Reykjavik which feels as if it’s not as far away from our own world as we might like with its erosion of civil liberties. There are some neat twists which will keep the listener guessing and some strong central performances by Mandi Symonds as Inspector Jill Sveinsbottir and (for some reason uncredited except by mention in the extras tracks) Sarah Sweeney as Lara. It is also good to be reminded that Turlough has an occasional darker side which Strickson really plays up to.

The Becoming by Ian Potter is for the most part a three-hander in which the Doctor and Turlough encounter the enigmatic Waywalker, played in an excellent debut performance by Kae Alexander. The theme at the heart of this story is the rivalry between the preservation of traditions against the necessity to adapt and survive with Turlough’s interaction with Waywalker proving to be an unexpected catalyst for change.

Overall, this is a strong collection of very different stories yet with similar themes relating to the importance of memory. Unlike previous anthologies such as You are the Doctor and Other Stories where there was a clear arc running through, there is no direct link between these four tales, however the conclusion of the final episode still provides a satisfying feeling of the circle having been squared. Once again, this collection proves to be one of the best releases of the year so far and on this form it is to be expected that the annual anthology release will remain a regular feature of Big Finish’s Doctor Who main range for many years to come.


The Memory Bank and Other Stories is available now directly from Big Finish and on general release from 30th November 2016.

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You Are The Doctor and Other Stories (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 17 October 2016 - Reviewed by Richard Brinck-Johnsen
You Are the Doctor and Other Stories (Credit: Big Finish / Joseph Bell)

Written by John Dorney, Jamie Anderson, Christopher Cooper, and Matthew Elliott

Directed by Ken Bentley

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Jon Culshaw (Keith/Guard/Chafal), Kim Wall (Chimbly), Nadine Marshall (Katrice/Kordel), Amrita Acharia (The Resurrectionist/Clerk), Juliet Cowan (Bryer/Adriana Beauvais), Oliver Dimsdale (Morecombe/Mervyn Garvey), George Potts (Ruben/Guard), Vinette Robinson (Cynthia Quince)

Big Finish Productions - Released December 2015

Big Finish’s final main range release for 2015 is an anthology release of four separate single episode stories with a linking thread. These anthology releases have become something of an annual tradition with a reputation for being one of the highlights of the Big Finish calendar so this release has a lot to live up to. In this instance, we join the Seventh Doctor and Ace in the aftermath of the departure of Hex in 2014’s Signs and Wonders. Ace is attempting to learn how to pilot the TARDIS but try as she might she can’t seem to get the old girl to take her and the Doctor to Australia. Her failed attempts are a linking theme between the stories and the suggested explanation cues up the events of the Doctor and Ace’s next appearance in A Life of Crime, released in June 2016.

You Are The Doctor by John Dorney is a rather uniquely audio take on the classic Choose your own adventure format with choices to be made at the end of each track as to what decision the Doctor and Ace should take. If you think this reviewer enjoyed this unusual format then continue reading onto the next paragraph. If you think that this reviewer enjoyed the characters rather than the story itself then skip to the third paragraph.

You chose the second paragraph, unfortunately for you this reviewer found that after the first couple of times of listening to two different variations of the same scene, the first of which invariably resulted in one of both of our regulars being killed the format was rather grating. The only consolation being that there was a reasonable explanation provided for the alternate versions of events at the story’s conclusion. You chose unwisely, go back to the beginning and start again.

Congratulations, you correctly guessed that this reviewer’s favourite part of the story was the characters especially the Porcians played by Kim Wall, reprising his role of Chimbly from 2012 release The Fourth Wall, this time joined by the excellent Jon Culshaw in the first of several roles in this anthology as Chimbly’s wife Keith. You have chosen wisely and may continue to the second story.

Come Die With Me by Jamie Anderson finds the Doctor and Ace in a much more typical scenario of strange goings in a spooky old house where they have somehow been brought at the behest of the mysterious (and strangely uncredited) Mr Norris to solve an apparently unsolvable murder mystery. This neat little story, which is Anderson’s first sojourn into the world of Doctor Who is clearly a paean to Ghost Light although perhaps it belongs in the true crime section.

The Grand Betelgeuse Hotel by Christopher Cooper opens with Ace on trial for a murder which, naturally, she didn’t commit facing a sinister Judge (Jon Culshaw, this time showing his darker side). The gravity of the situation is made clear through the tolling of an ominous sounding bell which on its own gave this reviewer shivers. Through flashbacks we learn that what led to Ace’s current predicament and how it seems that the Doctor (aka “the Approaching Inclement Weather System”) is up to his usual manipulative tricks during an investigation into strange goings on in the eponymous Betelgeuse hotel.

Dead to the World by Matthew Elliott concludes this set of stories with a straightforward tale with a few comic twists which finds the Doctor and Ace on board a tourist ship which has fallen foul of a plague sent by intergalactic estate agents with an unhealthy interest in planet Earth. Viewers of The Sarah Jane Adventures will no doubt recognise the star turn in this story from Juliet Cowan as the unsympathetic ship’s Captain Adriana Beauvais. The Doctor is able to offer a whole new meaning to the term hard bargaining.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable quartet of single episode adventures with the final reveal of the clues linking all four stories being particularly enjoyable. Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred are on great form and it is a relief to hear them both having fun rather than dwelling overly on the angst-ridden events of previous releases. Based on this release, the annual anthology continues to be a highlight and it to be hoped that the latest 2016 release The Memory Bank and Other Stories will also live up to expectations.


You Are The Doctor and Other Stories is available to buy now from

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Short Trips - A Full Life (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 12 October 2016 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
A Full Life (Credit: Big Finish / Anthony Lamb)

Producer Ian Atkins. Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and
Nicholas Briggs
Written By: Joseph Lidster. Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast - Matthew Waterhouse (Narrator)

A Full Life is an interesting, and very thought provoking listen. It is essentially a ‘what if’ sort of story that veers off after a known ‘event’ into a parallel universe, that in the end, finds Adric an old man with grandchildren.
Written by Joseph Lidster, and narrated by Matthew Waterhouse, it starts quite jarringly with someone flicking backwards and forwards on a tape player, the sound of the clicking and fast forwarding ringing loud in your ear. An older Adric is relaying the action, which for very obvious reasons grabs the listener's attention from the start. What the older Adric is disclosing is essentially the story of Adric’s life, starting of course on Alzareus with the loss of his parents, then mist-fall, and the the Marshmen, and  later of course the tragic death of his brother Vash. We follow as Adric then stows away on the TARDIS (so far, still so familiar), and of finding himself on a planet where vampires are real. As his adventures progress we hear about Adric slowly forming a meaningful relationship with the Doctor and Romana, a feeling that he actually belonged somewhere once again. It’s not only quite nostalgic that the story mentions moments that we have seen, but also very interesting the mentions of adventures between those that we know. How the Doctor, Romana K9 and Adric have become a force to be reckoned with for the monsters and megalomaniacs of E-Space, whilst all the time hunting for the elusive CVE that would take The Doctor and Romana back to their own universe.
Suddenly, and rather jarringly there is a mention of the planet Veridis, and the tape is abruptly wound backwards for the first time. We rejoin the narration when the TARDIS first lands on Veridis, our trio (K9 is left in the TARDIS because of the rain) soon manage to thwart a young girls murder, and stumble upon a rather horrific secret.
A Full Life is about death as much as it is life, probably more so in fact. Oh - and resurrection, there is a lot of resurrection. I couldn't help but grin when I heard a classic reference to Frankenstein (and, of course the Paul McGann TV movie). The story asks the age old question of - if we could bring a loved one back from the dead, who would it be? And then where would we stop after that, who else would we bring back? What if we didn't have to stop? It also asks that once a power and responsibility of bringing the dead to life is removed - what is next? How does a world acclimatise to suddenly having to lose their loved ones for real?
For a seemingly unassuming forty five minute audio, A Full Life packs a real emotional punch, and when the skew in the established timeline happens (and believe me - it's a doozy!) the listener discovers what consequences this has to Adric. What would happen if he were allowed to live on Veridis, to fall in love and build a family. Oh – and there is even a clever cliff-hanger in there, where the tape that we are listening to ends and needs to be 'turned over'. You can hear the listener trying to clumsily ram the cassette back into the player as quickly as he can, and then fumble the buttons before the story resumes - something that is perfectly simple, yet very effective.
My only slight gripe with this release is the actual narration. I need to say that I am not an Adric 'hater'. When he was introduced to Who back in the day he was a very similar age to what I was at the time, meaning that I felt a real connection with the character. I'd go so far as to say I still find him endearing to this day. He was from a period of time when the TARDIS was a busy place, a time I REALLY enjoyed. Plus of course he was one of the few companions to be killed off. The thought of that crumbled gold star for mathematical excellence, on a black backdrop, while the credits roll silently still makes me feel misty eyed right now. Well I might be exaggerating a bit. A lot. Probably. Anyway, the narration. i felt that Matthew Waterhouse threw himself into some of the reading a little too much. Sometimes sounding a little desperate. This was only occasionally, and when it happened, it was mostly when he was trying to voice either the Doctor or Romana. Let me stress though that this is a very minor moan. It did nothing to quell my enjoyment of the story.
A Full Life is the first of the Short Trips that i have listened to. I'd definitely be back again. A Full Life is available from Big Finish.

The Eleventh Doctor (Year Two) #9 - Running To Stay StillBookmark and Share

Saturday, 8 October 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
ELEVENTH DOCTOR #2.9  (Credit: Titan)

   Writer - Si Spurrier
Artist - Leandro Casco
Colorist - Rodrigo Fernandes

[Abslom Daak created by Steve Moore + 
Steve Dillon, appearing courtesy of Panini Comics, 
with thanks to Doctor Who Magazine]

Letterer - Richard Starkings + Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt

Assistant Editors - Jessica Burton +
Amoona Saohin
Senior Editor - Andrew James
 Designer - Rob Farme

Main cover - Mark Wheatley

"What is it? Is it Daleks? Did you find the secret Daleks? Can we fight the secret Daleks now?!"

"No. it's... odd. Not good-odd or bad-odd, exactly, just... odd. There was tech here once. Left traces. Extremely sophisticated. As in: Godlike. As in: not Dalek"

Abslom Daak and the Doctor in conversation.


The pressure on the Doctor and his friends continues to intensify. Before long, the normally effervescent River Song is rendered comatose, and placed alongside the (long-dead) 'wife' of Daak. The efforts to find a solution see a visit to a planet named Sshh.  The Master's TARDIS continues to be a tool of great value, but also a symbol of despicability and ruthlessness.

Furthermore, Alice suffers a rush of memories, that she would normally care to forget. Another companion makes a return to the fray, and in thrilling fashion, but could be risking too much for too little reward.

And amidst it all the Doctor shows a side to him that is far darker and more chilling than a good number of the foes he has defeated over the millennia..  


The main point of interest in this latest instalment of the Year Two arc is just out of character the Doctor is, and how indifferent he is to the suffering of others around him. Whilst glimmers of this happened now and again over the five-decades-plus history of the parent TV show, this choice of characterisation truly stands out. We get a real sense of an anti-hero at work, but one with somewhat less charisma and belief in his actions as well.

The urgency of the plot is kept reasonably high by having the 'Then and the Now' entity around and in no mood to hold anything back. We also see an interesting exploration of the Daak/Alice dynamic which was not really made too much of in previous issues, as they try and take the role of the Doctor in coming up with a solution. Daak had generally been just as much a millstone around the TARDIS crew's neck as an asset, but truly comes good here. By contrast, the Doctor shows a rather feckless and passive side to himself, when a truly harrowing sequence of events occurs.

Somehow though, a generally intriguing core to the story is not enough to result in a satisfying end product. Whilst myself and other reviewers here find Titan material to be of a generally decent, if not excellent, standard month-in, month-out, I have to go against this consensus on this occasion. Certain patches are lacklustre and there is an uneven tone and a confused sense of what the creative team are trying to say. Spurrier has done some decent work before on this monthly series, mixing the character work with the action. But the unusual portrayal of most of the protagonists just does not quite feel organic and convincing enough.

To be fair though, there are steps made forward in the arc, and the danger that especially Alice and the Squire face are of significance. The final stages of this issue are gripping and shocking in equal measure. Plenty of readers will rush to the ensuing issue 10 wanting to know what will come of the various frenetic twists of fate. Overall however, this is the first true blip in a generally confident second year, for Matt Smith's incarnation in comic strip form.


EXTRAS (Alternate Covers/ Issue 10 Preview Covers):

At this point the bonus mini story or humour strip is something of a scarcity, and once again does not feature. Perhaps with the plethora of Who comics now being made, and even a Torchwood one to attract readers, a decision was made to fully showcase the talent of the artists who deliver worthy covers that reflect either the actual issue concerned, or the general spirit of the monthly series.