EXCLUSIVE: behind-the-scenes with the Sonic Screwdriver

As announced earlier today, the new Twelfth Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote will be making its debut at San Diego Comic Con later this week (details HERE). To whet your appetite even further for this fab bit of Doctor Who merch, here's an EXCLUSIVE behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote by Chris Barnardo, inventer & co-founder of The Wand Company. Check it out below!

Journey to the Centre of the Whoniverse

It’s six in the morning on the day after the August bank holiday 2014 and the founders of The Wand Company, Richard Blakesley and I, are driving to Wales to get the reference we need for our next product. A constant stream of emails from über keen Whovians asking for an extending version of our successful Eleventh Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver, together with the Doctor’s recent regeneration have prompted our special trip to Cardiff – the epicentre of the Whoniverse.

It’s a warm day as we pull up in Porth Teigr outside the Roath Lock studios. After the normal formalities, we are led through a maze of corridors with impossibly high ceilings to the heart of the studio. We step carefully round all the boxes and crates that line the passage and with some reverence past the Daleks, powered down and kept under control in a padlocked steel cage. Even the Weeping Angels are thankfully held in check, but I’m careful not to blink as we skirt round them and onto the main set.

Shooting is over for another season and the studio is packing up. Recognisable signs of The Doctor’s adventures are dotted throughout the arena-sized hanger. Over in the corner, a knot of people are gathered round a couple of tables photographing and cataloguing a prize collection of iconic props that would set any fan’s pulse racing.

The TARDIS Siege Cube, resting casually on the 121 year old edition of The Times that carries that enigmatic personal advert asking the Impossible Girl to lunch, jostles for space with a host of other goodies, but nestled amongst them is our prize – the Twelfth Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver. In fact there are three of them neatly arranged in protective padding in a small wooden box.

This new sonic is a very significant product for us, making this one of our most important trips of the year.

The idea to make an Eleventh Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver came from our good friends at the Forbidden Planet who as well as suggesting that a Sonic Screwdriver was the ideal prop for our gesture based remote control technology, encouraged us to go to the BBC and get a license to make one. With it we were able to give fans something realistic, something that felt just like the real prop and that worked just like a real Sonic Screwdriver should – controlling stuff at a distance with just an alien flick or a Gallifreyan twist of the wrist. Our Eleventh Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver exceeded expectations and was an instant classic, but in one respect it disappointed – it didn’t extend. At the time, manufacturing it in metal and then also making it extend reliably and repeatedly, would have made the product too expensive. But we have learnt a lot in the three years since its launch, and spurred on by daily emails from fans begging us to create an extending version, we are now ready to take on this exciting new challenge.

I pick up one of the Sonic Screwdrivers. I can see right away that there are subtle differences between this model and one that the TARDIS (aka Nick Robatto) fabricated for Matt Smith when the previous sonic was destroyed. In fact, Doctor Who’s lead prop maker, Nick Robatto is on hand to talk us through the design of the Sonic Screwdriver and how some of its smaller details have gradually evolved to make it easier to make and more reliable on set. Most noticeably, the handle is now an ivory colour with faint inclusions running through it, giving it a natural stone-like look. We get out the Pantone© colour swatches to make sure we get that colour right. The handle’s copper end has changed too. Gone is the lidded button; the new end is only a little different, but up close, it looks more elegant and is slightly tapered. We’ve brought weighing scales and find that the hero prop weighs in at a meaty 268 g. We will aim for that, but we know that ours won’t be quite as heavy, as it’s filled with electronic wizardry that is lighter than the metal inside the hero prop.

All too quickly the day is over. We say goodbye to Nick and the prop team who have shown us round, and head home full of excitement about our new Twelfth Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver and how we can make something really exciting for the fans.

Before Series 8 was halfway done it had become fairly obvious that the new Doctor would not be getting a new sonic screwdriver, and many fans were disappointed; but not us. The lack of a new Sonic Screwdriver provided us with a golden opportunity to create an all-new product for fans of the Twelfth Doctor, while effectively re-engineering our Eleventh Doctor’s Sonic to make it extend. Happy Days!

Chris Barnardo
Inventer & co-founder of The Wand Company

Thanks to BBC Worldwide and The Wand Company

Twelfth Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote Control

The Wand Company have revealed that a limited edition of their latest Sonic Screwdriver remote control will be on sale exclusively on the BBC AMERICA booth at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, prior to general release.

The Twelfth Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver Remote Control is a brand new, hero prop replica which is a superb recreation of the Sonic Screwdriver used by Peter Capaldi in Series 8. 

A limited run of 168 laser-etched numbered Sonics will be available exclusively to purchase on the BBC AMERICA booth (#4129) for the first time at San Diego Comic-Con (8th-12th July 2015) prior to general sale from 7th September from www.BBCShop.com

The new Twelfth Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver is a fully functioning gesture-based universal remote control which can control your TV and other home entertainment equipment. Learning the gestures and programming the Sonic Screwdriver is easy, and the intuitive gestures allow the user to become the Doctor. Flick it open and the clasps extend with a satisfying clunk; press the grip mounted button for instant light and sound action or use the Any-TV-Off function just for fun!

The Twelfth Sonic has been made in direct response to the huge number of requests that The Wand Company received from fans all over the world asking for an extending version of their famous Eleventh Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver.

Product details
The Wand Company’s new extending Twelfth Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver universal remote control prop replica contains the following features:

• 1:1 scale replica of the Series 8 Sonic Screwdriver
• Highly authentic flick-to-extend action
• Grip-mounted action button
• Stores up to 39 remote control commands
• Customisable personal lock code
• Ivory-coloured handle with subtle fleck
• Redesigned copper-plated handle end
• Gallifreyan stand for vertical presentation
• 12 new secret Morse-coded Twelfth Doctor phrases
• 12 different sonic screwdriver sound effects
• Press and hold button to make Sonic buzz and tip light in FX Mode 
• Any-TV-off function that turns off any television at the press of a button, without having to program the Sonic first

Doctor Who at the Radio Times Festival

Details have been released about the inaugural Radio Times Festival, and there's some exciting Doctor Who panels taking place. The event runs from September 24-27 at The Green, Hampton Court Palace.

Friday (Sept 25) will be Doctor Who day and will see a panels with showrunner Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi, and Russell T Davies; check out the times below.

Friday 25th September
• Doctor Who (14:30-15:30)
• Russell T Davies (16:00-17:00)
• Simon Guerrier & Dr Marek Kukula: The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who (16:00-17:00)

The first festival of its kind, Radio Times Festival celebrates the best of TV, radio and books over one weekend, 24th – 27th September 2015, in the historic grounds of Hampton Court Palace. There will be actors, directors, presenters, screenwriters and novelists on hand with stories to tell and insights to give, alongside exclusive screenings and sneak previews of upcoming programmes, plus a host of free events.

Festival-goers will also get the chance to enjoy delicious food and drink from pop-up gourmet street stalls and bars, or relax with a spot of shopping at the boutique shopping village. Waterstones will also be on hand with an on-site bookshop, stocked with books by all the writers attending the Festival, with book signings taking place after writers’ sessions.

River Song returns for audio adventures [UPDATE]

Big Finish have announced a new range of Doctor Who audio adventures featuring characters and monsters from the show post 2005. River Song, as played by Alex Kingston will star alongside Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor whilst Churhchill gets his own series and New Who aliens and monsters will face off against classic Doctors. Check out the details below.

River will be stepping into the era of The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) for Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 2, alongside Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) and Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan). But how can River help her husband if, in this incarnation, she must never actually meet him?

“The idea of River meeting previous Doctors was actually proposed by Steven Moffat,” says producer David Richardson, “and it's just irresistible, isn't it? Alex embraced the idea of returning to the role, and so she will be starring in no less than two box sets next year. And yes, we are still pinching ourselves!”

River will then return later in 2016 in Doctor Who: The Diary of River Song, an epic four-hour adventure that takes River across space and time, seeking out the secret rulers of the universe. Paul McGann will reprise the role of the Eighth Doctor in the final instalment.

The New Series adventures will continue in Doctor Who: The Churchill Years, in which Ian McNeice returns as the indomitable Winston Churchill. In the four-hour saga, Winston relates a number of encounters with the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors in his memoirs, battling alien incursions, metamorphosing creatures... and a Dalek! The stories are told by Ian McNeice, supported by a full cast of guest actors, including Danny Horn as Kazran Sardick, in a story taking place within the 2010 special A Christmas Carol.

“Ian has played Churchill in just four episode on TV, and yet it feels like it was many more,” says executive producer Nicholas Briggs. “It was such a brilliant, definitive performance, and how wonderful that we will be continuing Churchill's adventures with the Doctor on audio.”

Finally, the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors will face a new generation of monsters in Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters, a brand new, four-story run featuring creatures from the New Series. Peter Davison takes on the Weeping Angels, Colin Baker encounters the Judoon, Sylvester McCoy will meet the Sycorax... and Paul McGann will face a new clone batch of Sontarans on the edge of the Time War....

“It's the ultimate mash-up,” says executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery, “and we have some great scripts lined up for these landmark stories. There is no doubt that 2016 is going to be a brilliant year for Big Finish!”

All four boxsets will be released across 2016, and are available to pre-order today from the Big Finish website. Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 2 will be released in March, and is available as part of a special bundle of all four Doom Coalition boxsets. Doctor Who: The Diary of River Song, will be released January 2016.

Doctor Who: The Churchill Years and Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters can be pre-ordered for just £20 each on CD or Download, and are also available as part of our Doctor Who New Series bundle.

Doctor Who to head to Australia and New Zealand

BBC Worldwide have announce details of the first Official Doctor Who Festival in Australia and a special event in New Zealand, check out the details below.

The Doctor Who Festival will be attended by the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi and lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat with more talent announced in due course. Fans of all ages will be able to celebrate the heritage and magic of the show with exclusive access to props, costumes and talent from both in-front-of and behind the camera. Pre-order tickets HERE.

A week after the Doctor Who Festival in London, Australian fans will have the chance to hear from key cast members in a series of onstage talent Q&As, with limited photo and autograph opportunities available. A series of interactive workshops with Doctor Who’s resident creative team will give visitors the chance to learn about the television production process and what it takes to be a Doctor Who monster. Fans can also test their knowledge for the chance to win some great prizes in the ultimate Doctor Who Quiz, and get some exclusive merchandise.

Peter Capaldi says, “Being unveiled as Doctor Who in Sydney at last year's world tour, and meeting the fantastic Australian fans was such a cosmic, life changing experience that I'm thrilled to be coming back for a full weekend of Time Lord mania.”

The Festival includes:
• Q&As - see the writers and cast from the series as they talk about how to make an idea
become reality on a series as big and bold as Doctor Who.
• PHOTO AND AUTOGRAPH OPPORTUNITIES – A limited number of opportunities for
photos and autographs with selected talent.
• WARDROBE DEPARTMENT – a fantastic exhibition of costumes and props.
• DOCTOR WHO QUIZ – Hosted in a traditional themed setting, fans will have the chance to test their knowledge for the chance to win some great prizes.

• General $195.00
• TARDIS $365.00
• Concession General $99.00* 
• Concession TARDIS $265.00
*all tickets are subject to a processing fee of 1.95% + transaction fee*

The general ticket includes one day entry to the festival, access to three separate theatre shows to see the cast and writers, festival lanyard, show planner and all of the above. TARDIS tickets will have all inclusions of a general ticket plus best seats in house for theatre sessions, exclusive access to TARDIS lounge with two free drinks and a Doctor Who goodie bag with merchandise to the value of $110.00.

And in a first for New Zealand fans, Peter Capaldi will then head to Auckland, New Zealand on the 24th November for an intimate evening with fans. Venue and ticket details for this will be announced in due course. 

Doctor Who Magazine 488

The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine is out now, check out the cover art and details below. It also includes a review of Blogtor's new Doctor Who book, The Big Book of Lists.

The popular UNIT science whizz was apparently killed off at the hands of Missy in Death in Heaven – but the rumours of her death may have been exaggerated! Actress Ingrid Oliver tells DWM about her joy at Osgood’s unexpected return. “When I died, I was like ‘Oh. That’s a shame. That is a shame.” I really didn’t think I would return,” Ingrid tells DWM, revealing that she was shocked at the response to the UNIT operative's demise. “I can’t watch myself on TV, so I deliberately made the decision to go out. And then I got a text from my agent saying, ‘Oh my God, you’re trending on Twitter!’ It was absolute insanity to me.”


DANNY HARGREAVES' BIG BANG! Doctor Who’s resident special effects supervisor Danny Hargreaves reveals the science behind blowing stuff up – but don’t try this at home!

DAVID WARNER WAS THE DOCTOR? Cold War’s Professor Grisenko ­– movie and TV star David Warner – chats about his brief era as the Doctor, and shares some fascinating stories from a career spanning six decades.

REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN! The Fact of Fiction heads to Voga – the planet of gold – to reveal fascinating facts about the 1975 Fourth Doctor adventure Revenge of the Cybermen.

STEVEN MOFFAT ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS! Showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers’ questions and pays tribute to 1980s Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner.

PLUS! All the latest official news, reviews, Relative Dimensions, The Time Team, competitions and The DWM Crossword.

Doctor Who Magazine 488 is on sale now, price £4.99

AUDIO REVIEW: The Companion Chronicles – The First Doctor Vol. 1

The Companion Chronicles:
The First Doctor Volume 1
by Martin Day, Simon Guerrier, Ian Potter

Starring Carole Ann Ford, Maureen O'Brien & Peter Purves

Out Now - Buy HERE

Review by Sami Kelsh

The Big Finish box set The First Doctor, Vol. 1 presents four stories featuring companions of everybody’s favourite lapel-clutching grumpy grandfather, The First Doctor.

Plucky young granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford) stars in The Sleeping Blood, in which The Doctor has become gravely ill, and it is up to Susan to seek out a cure for him. She finds herself on a planet where the search for a simple course of antibiotics is far more complicated than it ought to be. In spite of being alone, Susan copes admirably in seeking a treatment for what ails her grandfather, and in her dialogue with a feared and dangerous terrorist, we see very much the sort of young woman she is – infinitely compassionate, but quite innocent as well.

In The Unwinding World, Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) and her friends – The Doctor, Barbara, and Ian – find themselves separated from the TARDIS, blending into the local community as they work to retrieve it. Vicki faces off against Connie, the deceptively friendly face of a computer system whose purpose in automating the many systems of the planet's everyday life are far more complicated than they seem - but so is Vicki's plan to retrieve the TARDIS and get the team out of there. This was my favourite of the four stories: writer Ian Potter has crafted a clever and compelling set of layers to this tale, the (auditory) staging of which brings a sense of atmosphere and scope to the tale.

The final two stories, The Founding Fathers and The Locked Room bring us the story of Steven (Peter Purves) - all grown up and retired from public office, and with a granddaughter of his own. In the former, Steven tells his granddaughter of the time he, Vicki, and The Doctor encountered Benjamin Franklin and his mysterious lady friend. Steven's impression of Franklin sounds like an English fellow doing an impression of an American, but it’s what American sounded like to him, and indeed this is even lampshaded in the story's dialogue itself; to that end, as part of a memory play, it is just as it should be.

The Doctor figures in both stories as well – in the first, as the copy of his consciousness confined to a machine, who first suggests that Steven’s granddaughter Sida run for president; in the second, The Doctor himself materialises in Steven’s room (just as he was on the eve of regeneration) and, alongside Sida (now president) and Steven, battles an old enemy. This one calls back fairly significantly to previous adventures of Steven and The Doctor, but with enough helpful exposition that those just joining the story now won’t struggle to understand and enjoy what’s going on.

There’s something I find particularly satisfying about hearing of the companions’ post-TARDIS adventures, allowing their stories to continue after the time they said goodbye to the Doctor, like these chapters of Steven’s later life. After all, their stories are just as important as The Doctor’s.

Thanks to Big Finish

LEGO Doctor Who teaser

In the player above you can watch a teaser trailer for the new LEGO Doctor Who sets, coming out later this year. As revealed in February, the concept for the set came from the LEGO IDEAS website where fans can submit ideas for a set and vote for their favourite idea to be produced.

The Doctor Who concept from fan Andrew Clark received the 10,000 votes requisite for The LEGO Group to consider it for production. A licensing agreement between BBC Worldwide and The LEGO Group will see the new set available in all of The LEGO Group’s key markets before the end of the year. Andrew’s winning design featured a range of Doctors, companions and monsters across the show’s history, but fans will have to wait until later this year to discover what will be produced.

Also coming soon is the LEGO Dimensions video game - read more about the Doctor Who content you can find in it HERE (includes images).

AUDIO REVIEW: The Secret History

The Secret History
by Eddie Robson

Starring Peter Davison, Peter Purves & Maureen O'Brien

Out Now - Buy HERE

Review by Emrys Matthews

The TARDIS brings The Fifth Doctor, Steven and Vicki to the Italian city of Ravenna in the year 540 – besieged by Byzantine army. Caught up in the fighting, Steven ends up on a boat bound for Constantinople, the heart of the Roman Empire. Rescuing Steven, however, is the least of the Time Lord's problems – because he shouldn't be mixed up in this particular adventure at all. Someone has sabotaged his own personal timeline, putting him in the place of his First incarnation..., but who, and why? The truth is about to be revealed.

The Secret History marks the third and final part of a special trilogy to mark the release of the 200th story in Big Finish’s monthly Doctor Who audio series where Doctors 5 thru 7 are matched up with companions from Doctors 1 thru 3. It’s another fantastic idea from Big Finish; previously old companions have caught up with later Doctors, but later Doctors falling into adventures from their previous incarnations is an entirely original idea.

Previously, in The Defectors and Last of The Cybermen, it has remained a mystery as to why the wrong Doctor is present in his previous selves’ adventures. Was he brought here by a friend or foe? In this instalment we finally learn and the truth and it was worth the wait. I don’t want to spoil this reveal for listeners, but someone from The Doctor’s past is involved and his actions are not exactly magnanimous; there are also some stone creatures that resemble statues…

Writer Eddie Robson has hit a home run here, he plays with he listeners expectations beautifully and the story stands alone even without the “wrong Doctor” twist. Robson has gone from strength to strength with his recent writing projects earning the right to write Big Finish’s 200th story.

It’s wonderful to have a part historical story which feels in-keeping with both Hartnell and Davison era Doctors, and the climax of The Doctor’s displacement in time in the third cliffhanger is truly daunting and manages to give the listener that all too infrequent feeling of true imminent peril for the titular Time Lord.

And what a real treat is to hear Peter Davison working with Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves as Steven and Vicki, who both so beautifully recreate their roles; and the surprise turn by [NAME REDACTED - Ed.] is a real joy.

The Secret History brings this trilogy to a very satisfying end. It’s well worth a listen and only leaves one with the question what will Big Finish do next?

Thanks to Big Finish