Deep Breath world première - CardiffBookmark and Share

Sunday, 10 August 2014 - Reviewed by Nick Joy

Deep Breath red carpet world première
7th August 2014
Pictures by Nick Joy and Andy Smith

Cardiff has been the production base for Doctor Who since 2004 and perhaps in recognition of this its residents were treated to the red carpet treatment for Series 8's world première 16 days before its TV screening.

As part of the wider world tour to promote the new season and Peter Capaldi's arrival as the new Doctor, the Cardiff première was held at St David's Hall, a concert venue in the heart of the city's shopping precinct and ideally located for a West End-style première event.

Tickets for the screening and Q&A sold out pretty much instantly amongst scenes of the website crashing and demand far exceeding supply. To help manage the disappointment, a free fan meet was arranged for the morning of the première, with Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Steven Moffat and new guy Samuel Anderson traversing the 1/4 mile from Cardiff Central Library to the front of St David's Hall.

Having such a long "catwalk" was a double-edged sword. It meant that more people had the chance to see the stars up close and personal (at no point was it more than two or three deep), but it also meant they had further to walk in a short period of time. And while free publicity cards of Capaldi, Coleman and Anderson were given out to all, the chances of getting an autograph or two were really down to pot luck. Capaldi was particularly attentive - chatting, personalising autographs, posing for "selfies" and generally soaking up the rock star attention he was receiving.

All the while, Daleks patrolled the runway, stopping to terrorise the occasional delighted child, and Cybermen stomped up and down. BBC execs with clipboards scurried the barrier's length, prepping Capaldi for his next interview or soundbite, while presenters Lizo Mzimba and Jason Mohammad earnestly interviewed another group of delirious cosplayers. Even the TARDIS was in attendance, sitting outside the department stores.

After the screening, the cast set off for the London leg of the tour, hosted at the BFI. But back in Cardiff, as the carpet was rolled up, the railings stacked back on to the trucks and the visitors trooped off to the Doctor Who Experience in the Bay, the magic still hung in the air.

This was the same street that featured in the very same season opener being promoted that day (though it pretends to be elsewhere) and it's the same street that doubles as St Paul's district in the season finale. Two roads over and it's where Rose witnessed Autons smashing out of a shop window, and isn't that where Kylie and Doctor Tennant wandered around one Christmas?

And that's why Doctor Who premières happen here - they're a fixed point in time and space.

The Crooked ManBookmark and Share

Thursday, 7 August 2014 - Reviewed by Ben Breen

The Crooked Man
Released by Big Finish
Written by John Dorney
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Released: Mar 2014

Tom Baker's fourth Doctor has, in recent years, returned to the mainstream in not only the 50th anniversary special audio and television adventures, but also with the help of Big Finish Productions. This particular story in the Fourth Doctor Adventures range sees the Time Lord and his companion Leela, who always seems to be getting the customs and elements of other cultures confused, land on earth for what they describe as a “holiday”.

But as is nearly always the case with Doctor Who stories, something is terribly amiss in what should be an idyllic seaside town, albeit a small one.

The story opens with a man who, we discover, is a dealer in second-hand books completing a purchase with a customer, one of the crucial characters in the story. This shop also proves to be the scene of the first rather gruesome murder, one of several committed by an unknown killer using unconventional methods. This leads into a story that I obviously do not wish to spoil, but does involve some rather new twists, turning this two-episode adventure into a story that is part investigation, part dark suspense. This story does have remarkably good character development, considering the amount of episodes and limited running time. However, this could possibly be down to having a full cast to work with as well as their enthralling performances.

The fourth Doctor is portrayed with an ominous sense of foreboding by Baker, with Louise Jameson's Leela offering a pleasant and surprisingly quick method of plot progression. Even though Leela is commonly befuddled by the Doctor's mentioning of things like "enjoying some rock", it isn't just the tribal warrior who presumes a lot about the people or places they discover. One particularly fine example of the stories humorous writing style, seen at scattered points throughout, occurs when the Doctor enters into a relative monologue about autograph signing. The outcome is, to say the least, expected and a good light hearted moment.

Every member of the cast does a remarkably good job here, considering the story takes several possibly unexpected twists and turns. The main villain of the piece, the Crooked Man, is a sinister character who we learn relatively little about, but we understand that he will use any means necessary to achieve his own ends. The voice is well chosen and with this being an audio only adventure, the listener is forced to conjure up their own version of this mysterious foe.

The atmosphere carved out by the drama itself is chilling, the suspenseful piano and string-based score continuing to fill the reader/listener with a sense of unease. This is further enhanced by the appearance of shadows and hallucinations, which seem to be a common theme in this story, with Laura Corbett, returning from her visit to the second-hand book shop, seeing a door that did not previously exist in the house before. This theme of shadows and strange sights helps to intensify the emotional tension that persists throughout.

The Crooked Man is a seemingly new, time sensitive villain, with his suspicious companion in the form of Lesley King, a rather rude and forceful television personality. Although all is not what it seems as an old scenario, the land of fiction, once again returns to menace the Doctor, his companion and potentially the whole world with monsters and foes the likes of which humanity has never seen.

To conclude, this story was a gripping one with the entire cast working collaboratively to produce an experience that will hopefully keep you guessing right until the end. Additionally, those who haven't encountered the land of fiction before shouldn't need any prior knowledge. However, those who are interested can discover more about this mysterious place in City of Spires, The Wreck of the Titan, Legend of the Cybermen and The Claws of Santa in the Big Finish audio range.