AUDIO REVIEW: The Diary of River Song Series 1

The Diary of River Song Series 1
Written by Jenny T Colgan, Justin Richards, James Goss & Matt Fitton

Starring Alex Kingston & Paul McGann

Fresh off the back of a cracking Doctor Who Christmas special, we get the first incarnation of Professor River Song’s own spin-off series, The Diary of River Song. The idea for this new series actually comes from showrunner Steven Moffat, who suggested and authorised the team at Big Finish to use the character and have her interact with earlier Doctors. And what an exciting prospect is that?

The series is broken in to four parts:

The Boundless Sea by Jenny T Colgan
River has immersed herself in early 20th century archaeological academia, but when a mysterious tomb is found in a dry, distant land, excitement comes looking for River. Can Professor Song stop any more members of the expedition from dying?

This feels like the perfect place to start, with an archaeological dig. As our protagonist is an archaeologist after all. Kudos to Jenny T Colgan who is the first writer to get her hands on River Song after Steven Moffat who up until now has penned every story featuring the Doctor’s long time beau. Colgan totally gets the character and does a great job establishing the River in her own world.

I Went to a Marvellous Party by Justin Richards
Our curly-haired archaeologist always enjoys a good party, even when she’s not entirely sure where or when the party is taking place. But the party she ends up at is one where not everything – or indeed everyone – is what it seems.

Wonderfully different to its predecessor this story’s setting is the perfect environ for the character of River Sing to flourish.

Signs by James Goss
River Song is on the trail of the mysterious, planet-killing SporeShips. Nobody knows anything about them aside from wherever these ships appear, whole civilisations are reduced to mulch. But River has the help of a handsome time-travelling stranger.

The clear jewel in the Diary of River Song’s crown. This largely two-hander is fantastic. Samuel West  (who older readers may remember made a star turn in the classic multi-Doctor outing, Dimensions In Time) turns in a top rate performance as Mr. Song and the chemistry between these two characters is palpable. This story is worth listening to over the rest. From the bonus material included with the release, West confesses to having a deep desire to play the Doctor; something that this reviewer would now really love to see.

The Rulers of the Universe by Matt Fitton
Out in deep space, a clandestine society faces off with an ancient and powerful alien force. But for River there’s an added complication. The Eighth Doctor has been caught in the middle, and she must make sure her future husband can arrive at his own destiny with all his memories, not to mention his lives intact.

Writer of this part of the story, Matt Fitton, also script-edited the whole piece and his expert hand can be seen all over this excellent adventure. The relationship between River and the Eighth Doctor is beautifully handled. It’s great to listen with the knowledge that the Doctor mustn’t know or see River. The chemistry is there and, as a listener, one can really appreciate that Song knows who this man is and what their future will hold, but the Doctor is totally in the dark. This story perfectly rounds off this fantastic new production.

The chosen diary style format feels like the best possible direction to take this wonderfully fresh new outing from the ever growing Doctor Who audio giant Big Finish. The structure crops up concurrently throughout the release, but never overwhelmingly or to the piece’s detriment.

All in all, The Diary of River Song feels legitimate, and in turn, acts to further legitimise the short-lived televisual Eighth Doctor’s character too. It is evident from Alex Kingston’s performance that she is clearly hugely connected to and invested in her character.

Once again Big Finish’s relationship with the current embodiment of Doctor Who on the television grows and grows. The quality at Big Finish has always been present, but seems to be on a real role currently and is beginning to reach out in wonderful and exciting new directions.

Thanks to Big Finish

Doctor Who Christmas Special: behind-the-scenes on The Husbands of River Song

The BBC have released some behind-the-scenes footage from Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Husbands of River Song - watch them in the players below. Featured are Greg Davies (King Hydroflax) and Alex Kingston (River Song).

In the players below can check out some festive fun from the Doctor Who cast and crew including: Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara), Alex Kingston (River Song), Michelle Gomez (Missy), Ingrid Oliver (Osgood), Maisie Williams (Ashildr), Paul Kaye (Prentis) and Matt Lucas (Nardole).

Doctor Who Christmas Special: The Husbands of River Song clip 2

The BBC have released another new clip from this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Husbands of River Song - watch it in the player below. It features Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Matt Lucas (Nardole) and Alex Kingston (River Song). Check out another clip HERE

The Husbands of River Song is written by Doctor Who Executive Producer Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Listen) and also stars Greg Davies as King Hyrdoflax. The episode airs 5.15pm, Dec 25 on BBC One.


Doctor Who Christmas Special: The Husbands of River Song clip

The BBC have released a clip from this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Husbands of River Song - watch it in the player below. It features Matt Lucas as Nardole and Peter Capaldi as The Twelfth Doctor.

The Husbands of River Song is written by Doctor Who Executive Producer Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Listen) and also stars Alex Kingston as River Song and Greg Davies as King Hyrdoflx. The episode airs 5.15pm, Dec 25 on BBC One.


Doctor Who – The Complete Ninth Series boxset on DVD/bluray

Pre-order on Bluray HERE

BBC Worldwide have announced details of the Doctor Who Complete Ninth Series boxset, which will be available on DVD and bluray from March 7, 2016. Pre-order on DVD HERE and on Bluray HERE.

Included on the set are all 12 episodes of Series 9, along with the two Christmas specials, Last Christmas and The Husbands of River Song, and four hours of extras Check out the special features below.

DVD Commentaries
Under the Lake and Before the Flood - Sophie Stone (Cass), writer Toby Whithouse, producer Derek Ritchie
The Woman Who Lived - Maisie Williams (Ashildr), producer Derek Ritchie
Sleep No More - Reece Shearsmith (Rasmussen), writer Mark Gatiss

Doctor Who Extra
The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar
Peter Capaldi reveals all, and shows off his guitar riffs, as we get the inside story on this stunning two-parter. Featuring additional interviews with Michelle Gomez and Steven Moffat.

Under the Lake / Before the Flood
Go backstage and meet some very ghastly monsters! Discover the secret of a special celebrity appearance as Paul Kaye welcomes us on location, and we reveal how to make a big splash on set. Featuring interviews with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, writer Toby Whithouse and production designer Michael Pickwoad.

The Girl Who Died / The Woman Who Lived
Maisie Williams talks about crossing fandoms, celebrates her birthday with an impromptu quiz, and generally everyone has a lot of fun, as Rufus Hound gives us a unique view of what it’s like to make Doctor Who. Featuring interviews with Peter Capaldi and Maisie Williams.

The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion
The Zygons are back! We discover how a Zygon keeps fit, and Ingrid Oliver tells of her delight at once more playing the Doctor’s biggest fan, Osgood! Featuring interviews with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Ingrid Oliver.

Sleep No More
Mark Gatiss reveals the story behind the horror, Reece Shearsmith reviews the importance of space glasses, and we look at the challenges of making this unique episode. Featuring interviews with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat.

Face the Raven
Joivan Wade (Rigsy) is shocked to be back, but he’s not the only character to return for this unforgettable adventure, as we discover the perils of thinking you are invincible. Featuring interviews with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat.

Heaven Sent / Hell Bent
Steven Moffat and director Rachel Talalay reveal the challenges of creating the puzzle-box that is Heaven Sent, we get wind-blown in Fuerteventura, and we witness the departure of a companion as we go on set for Jenna Coleman’s last day of filming. Featuring interviews with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Steven Moffat and Rachel Talalay.

The Husbands of River Song
Matt Lucas is our guide as we join River Song, the Doctor and a star-liner full of supervillains for this festive Christmas special. We get the heads-up on the Hydroflax from Greg Davies, reveal Alex Kingston’s favourite Sonic, and we find out what Peter Capaldi is getting for Christmas. Featuring interviews with Peter Capaldi, Alex Kingston, and Steven Moffat.

Doctor Who Documentaries
Writing Who
The definitive guide for a would-be Doctor Who scriptwriter. We follow Sarah Dollard on her intricate journey to create her episode, Face The Raven. From the highs of pitching her original idea to Steven Moffat, to the challenges of writing her first draft – faced with a blank page and typing Int. TARDIS Day - to seeing her episode becoming reality.

Dalek Devotion
Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat reveal the inspiration for the return of the Daleks in the incredible Series 9 opener, how their earliest memories have shaped their devotion to the ultimate killing machine, and the journey to the Dalek homeland of Skaro.

The Adventures of River Song
Join Alex Kingston and Steven Moffat as we look forward to River’s return in The Husbands of River Song. Find out how River’s character came to be created, why Alex just had to play the role, what happened when the cast discovered who River really is. Narrated by Nina Toussaint-White (Mels in Let's Kill Hitler).

Sublime Online
A video selection box of the funniest, most insightful and engaging online treats from behind the scenes of Series 9. With interviews and magical moments from Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat, and featuring a host of guest stars, including Maisie Williams, Michelle Gomez, Rufus Hound, Ingrid Oliver and Slipknot.

Clara’s Journey
In 2012, Jenna Coleman joined Doctor Who and took her place in television history as the Doctor’s newest companion, Clara Oswald. Having become the longest serving companion since the revival of the show, Clara’s time on the TARDIS has now come to an end, so we can now look back at just what made the Impossible Girl, well, possible. Featuring interviews with Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman. Narrated by Colin McFarlane (Moran in Under The Lake).

The Fan Show’s Finest
Christel Dee gives a whistle-stop guide to Doctor Who: The Fan Show the online series that celebrates Doctor Who and the amazing creativity of the show's fans. We get a peek inside Steven Moffat’s writing lair, take a look into the Old Monster’s Retirement Home and step into the amazing world of Minecraft to find out how fans are celebrating their love for the show online. We even get face to face with the Doctor and Missy to ask them all the questions the fans want to know.


Other extras include:
The Doctor’s Meditation - Series 9 prequel
Series 9 Prologue
Deleted Scenes
Series 8 recap
All Series 9 trailers
2015 San Diego Comic Con Panel
Interview with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman hosted by Wil Wheaton.

is released on DVD & Bluray on March 7, 2016


AUDIO REVIEW: The War Doctor Vol.1 – Only The Monstrous

The War Doctor - Only The Monstrous
Written by Nicholas Briggs

Starring John Hurt

The Doctor is dead. As the Daleks mass their time fleet for a final assault on Gallifrey, something ancient is waiting for them at Omega One. Meanwhile, on the planet Keska, a parochial war has returned to plague a peaceful civilisation after decades of tranquillity. But how can such a war have any connection with the great Time War, and who is this stranger taking up the Time Lord’s cause?

With the whole Big Finish team behind it, and the blessing of the BBC, The War Doctor, AKA John Hurt, brings his “not the Doctor” Doctor to audio, and boy does this story pack a wallop. It’s a dramatic and epic movie for the ears that sees the as yet untouched “years” of John Hurt’s War Doctor brought to life on audio for the very first time.

Firstly I want to praise this piece’s writer and Director Nicholas Briggs, who’s work for Big Finish has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. This, however is undoubtedly his best work to date. Taking his passion for war movies as an impetus has given this story a great grounding, but adding the War Doctor into that structure breaks the mould from the get-go. The three part movie-like story feels more like the three acts of a film than three individual stories, this works to the story's strength.

Starting at the very beginning, there is a really tremendous new version of the infamous theme music, that feels aptly epic to parallel the feel of the story. The adventure walks that perfect line between plot focused and character developing; it suitably supports the development of these first ever adventures of a new “Doctor.” There are some wonderful touches in the script harking back to previous Dalek adventures and possibly allusions to the War Doctor’s later regeneration.

John Hurt is INcredible. He totally gets that his War Doctor can be everything the other, regular incarnations of the Doctor cannot. He brings a real tempered sadness and resigned quality and clearly has a huge amount of respect for the role. Lucy-Briggs Owen and Carolyn Seymour also turn in first-rate, relatable and emotionally connected performances as the Doctor’s one-off companion for this story, Rejoice. Finally, Jacqueline Pearce as the Time Lord leader Cardinal Ollistra has wonderful chemistry with co-star and friend John Hurt.

One is truly hard-pressed to find any critique of this wonderful adventure, perhaps taking the War Doctor’s moral boundaries, or lack thereof, further in future stories would be the only suggestion.

This is a great jumping on point for new listeners; more than ever and doesn’t rely on having much prior knowledge. It is truly encouraging to see the burgeoning relationship between the BBC and Big Finish, with releases like The War Doctor, UNIT, Jago & Litefoot & Strax and the upcoming David Tennant/Catherine Tate audios, these two worlds of Doctor Who are growing closer and closer together.

The War Doctor Vol. 1 - Only The Monstrous hits the ground running and beautiful lays the ground work to take this totally untouched yet entirely official incarnation of the Doctor to truly fascinating places. The last line gives chills, and if the next part of this new series is handled as carefully and clearly as this, listeners will be on tenterhooks in anticipation.

Thanks to Big Finish

AUDIO REVIEW: Torchwood, One Rule

Torchwood : One Rule
by Joseph Lidster

Starring Tracy-Ann Oberman, Dan Starkey and Catrin Stewart 

Out Now - Buy Here

Review by Andrea McGuire

After the last, slightly disappointing episode of the Big Finish Torchwood series, One Rule returns to the high standard we saw in the first two instalments. This one is a proper treat and the tale is a real hoot, except when it isn’t.

Set pre-Torchwood the TV series, One Rule sees the head of Torchwood 1, Yvonne Hartman, taking a trip to Cardiff to find an invaluable alien device, while mostly keeping clear of the local branch of Torchwood, who she clearly has no time for.

Writer Joe Lidster puts Yvonne through what is possibly her worst nightmare – a night out in Cardiff. Following the death of the Mayor three weeks earlier at the hands of shop dummies, Yvonne becomes embroiled in events as all of the candidates for the role of Mayor are, one by one, brutally relieved of their heads by a rampaging alien monster. With only two candidates left alive, who can Yvonne trust? And is it possible to get good Scotch in Cardiff?

Yvonne’s night goes from bad - everything she owns being destroyed in a fire - to worse – downing a pint of Diamond White in the White Lion while wearing a cheap dress. She’s even mistaken for a drag queen at one point as she attempts to stay alive while her companions, Mayoral candidates Barry Jackson (Gareth Armstrong) and Helen Evans (Rebecca Lacey), seem less concerned about their own fates as they bicker with each other and pretty much everyone else.

The alien monster is less of a menace and more a means of moving the story along, but there are a couple of decent, screaming deaths to behold at its hands. But the main reason for the monster rampaging through Cardiff is the sinister machinations of The Committee, which Yvonne (if not Torchwood) knows all about.

If I had one small gripe, it’s that One Rule is so packed with references to the Torchwood TV series and to Doctor Who that it can almost be a distraction at times. I like a good nod to the mother shows, but in this case it was slightly dizzying.

There are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos from two of Cardiff’s finest, PCs Cooper and Davidson, and a very brief but particularly amusing appearance by Dan Starkey as Mayoral candidate (there’s a fair few of them) Ross.

While the plot is highly entertaining, with plenty of LOL-inducing one liners, the best thing among the many good things is the magnificent Tracy-Ann Oberman’s revival of the role she last played on TV back in 2006 (I know!). At the very best, Yvonne could be said to be an ambiguous character. Is she good? Bad? What is certain is that she is certainly driven by her desire to see Britain Great again. Such is her superior demeanour that you’d wonder who curtseys to who during her regular meetings with The Queen.

Here we see Yvonne’s Londoner-in-the-provinces not particularly caring which Mayoral candidate lives or dies, as long as the survivor is useful to her. Maintaining the ambiguity of the character, Yvonne shows that she is equally capable of showing genuine humanity as well as brutal ruthlessness, especially at the tale’s conclusion where the plot takes a darker turn.

While Yvonne has no concern for local politics apart from when it can further her own driven course, it appears that what she really wants is for someone she can (sort of) trust to keep an eye out for one particular alien. Who (geddit?) or what can this alien be?

This episode is the first in this series to feel less stand-alone and more part of a larger story involving The Committee. Will more be revealed when Jack returns in the next episode? We can’t wait to find out.

Thanks to Big Finish

Doctor Who Christmas Special London premiere [SPOILERS!]

Peter Capaldi, Alex Kingston & Greg Davies (C) BBC

The BBC have released images of the cast of the Doctor Who Christmas Special from last night's screening of The Husbands of River Song at London's BFI - click on the images here for bigger versions. Included in the images alongside Peter Capaldi are Alex Kingston and Greg Davies.

Below the cast images, you can find pictures from the premiere including lots of props which were on display - PLEASE NOTE: some of these are quite spoilery! So if you are avoiding spoilers, you  should stop after the cast pics.





Doctor Who Christmas Special – new images from The Husbands of River Song

Matt Lucas and Alex Kingston in The Husbands of River Song (C) BBC

The BBC has released two new images from this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Husbands of River Song - click on the images included here for bigger versions. The episode airs 5.15pm, Dec 25 on BBC One.

Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston in The Husbands of River Song (C) BBC