Doctor Who: The Beginning – spot the difference

The lovely people at Big Finish have just released an updated cover to one of their November Doctor Who releases that celebrates the series’ 50th anniversary.

The Beginning, new cover

The Beginning is part of the company’s ongoing series of Companion Chronicles – semi-staged audiobooks, narrated by one of the series companions and with guest appearances by other actors. In this case, the companion concerned is the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan, played once again by Carole Ann Ford, in a story written by Marc Platt and directed by Lisa Bowerman. The new cover contains a subtle difference to the original artwork, to more closely tie in with events as seen in The Name of the Doctor. Here’s a direct comparison, by the power of GIF: The Beginning's alternate covers Personally, I quite like the look of the original pyramid, but I can completely understand why it’s been changed. Now that we “know” what the Doctor’s TARDIS looked like as it was first taken, there’s no point in making it look like anything else…

A new range of Doctor Who fiction ebooks? Yes, please

According to SFX magazine, BBC Books (an imprint of Ebury Publishing, which is itself an imprint of what is now Penguin Random House) is to start a new range of Doctor Who ebook fiction. Time Trips will be a range of 10,000-word self-contained short-story-cum-novellas, seemingly featuring any of the series’ eleven (to date) Doctors, priced at £1.99 each. At a later date, the stories will be collected for a print edition.

The first tranche of authors include Jenny Colgan (who, writing as JT Colgan, has already written the DW novel Dark Horizons), AL Kennedy, Nick Harkaway and Trudi Canavan.

As with the 50th anniversary Puffin ebooks which are being published at the rate of one a month, it seems that Ebury are looking outside the “traditional” pool of authors which created the first print novels after the series returned in 2005. This can only be a good thing – the wider the range of authors, the more variation in the worlds and challenges that the Doctor will face. I do hope that some of the authors whose DW novels I have enjoyed in the past haven’t said goodbye to the range for good, though – this is all about expanding the DW universe, not jumping to a new version.

It’s also notable that three of the four authors so far announced for Time Trips are women – which kind of puts the TV series’ own track record in perspective.

Series like Time Trips are a sign that traditional publishers are finding new ways to make digital publishing work that don’t just ape the old print-based systems. Random House’s Dan Franklin was on the panel for a special edition of BBC Click for which I was in the audience in April 2012, and  he really seemed to have his head screwed on. The involvement of the big guns doesn’t prevent the enterprising self-publishers from making a splash, too – if anything, providing mainstream quality products from traditional publishers helps ensure self-publishers work to the same standards, as well as providing the incentive for the growth in ebook reading to continue.

• Just a reminder that my own (non-fiction, unauthorised) Doctor Who ebook, Ten Things About Who, is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk. More details »

 

Ten Things About Who: the book

Ten Things About Who


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

So the fourteen Ten Things About Who posts that I wrote about Doctor Who series 7, from Asylum of the Daleks to The Name of the Doctor, are now available to buy as an ebook on the Kindle platform. That means you will be able to read it not only on a Kindle hardware device, but also via the gamut of free Amazon Kindle apps for various computing platforms.

It’s my first ebook, so this is as much a learning curve for me, finding out what the platform can (and cannot) do for me as an author prior to using it for slightly less frivolous publications.

What’s in the book

Each chapter of the book contains ten points for discussion raised by an episode of Series 7. Why does the Doctor go on about needing milk for Oswin’s soufflés, when the obvious ingredient to ask about is…? Where on earth did Rory go to get coffee in New York city? Would there really have been a black priest in the American West town of Mercy? Why was The Rings of Akhaten so blooming dreary?

In taking the blog posts I was writing each week as the series aired, I’ve revised, and often expanded, many of the sections. To keep things simple, any included videos and audio files have had to be dropped, which is unfortunate – but thankfully they were mostly incidental to the points being made. What I’ve tried not to do is lose the immediacy of the posts. Some of the thoughts about who Clara is, or could be, for example, are way off-base now that we’ve all seen The Name of the Doctor – but to remove that speculation would have been to abandon the journey just because we know now the destination.

And online…

The original blog posts remain in place for free, and will do so for as long as the blog itself exists. I probably won’t go back and add in the expanded information from some of the sections, although some of the more glaring spelling mistakes that I somehow missed the first time round may find themselves getting corrected!

And of course, I’m now in the process of revisiting Series 1 in the same format. Next weekend, I’ll be up to Aliens of London. Depending on how my experience with this first ebook goes, I may well collect these retrospective Ten Things… posts in a similar format.

Do let me know what you think – as I said, this is a learning process for me, and opinions from people I trust is going to be invaluable. Thank you.

Ten Things About Who is available to buy, or to borrow for free for Amazon Prime members

Ten Things About Who: The Unquiet Dead

And a very Merry Christmas to you! Yes, it’s technically midsummer outside, which naturally means the threat of rain hangs overhead. But in the world of Ten Things About Who, we’re simultaneously back in April 2005 and Christmas 1869.

God bless us, every one!

1. The stiffs are getting lively

And so we get the first real emergence of the pre-credits sequence as it has become used. A peril, often Doctor-less, that sets the tone for the rest of the episode. Here, Mr Sneed’s “Oh no” when faced with a revived brings with it a weary familiarity that tells us that while we are in a story from the past, this is not your average historical story.

League of Gentlemen fans will, of course, have known of Mark Gatiss’ delight in lacing elements of historical horror with humour. It’s a vein he’s returned to, of course – most recently with The Crimson Horror. It’s when he steps away from this template (Cold War, and The Idiot’s Lantern, which is horrific but in a very different way) that things go awry for me.

Continue reading “Ten Things About Who: The Unquiet Dead”

Ten Things About… The End of the World

Okay, so maybe a weekly schedule for these was a little over-optimistic. Two weeks after I revisited Rose, we’re now on to the TARDIS’s first visit to the future in its 2005 series.

1. Previously…

In the classic series, we were used to seeing episodes 2 onwards of a multi-episode series to repeating the end of the previous episode. But the opening of this episode is really the first to do the American-style montage of clips from throughout the episode of Rose. It’s not directly relevant to this episode, other than to just remind people new to the world of the Doctor what Rose had previously been through.

Thankfully, it’s rarely been needed since. And even here, it’s only included because the original scripts ended up under-running. Which is all the more remarkable, because it feels that these first episodes crack on at a pace that was missing in sadly far too many episodes of series 7.

Continue reading “Ten Things About… The End of the World”

The next Doctor, and how to predict who it’ll be

Everyone seems to be trying to guess who the next actor to play the lead role in Doctor Who will be once Matt Smith regenerates in the 2013 Christmas Special.

Back when David Tennant announced his departure five years ago when the TV Today blog was still running, we ran a few features looking at some potential names:

I’ve seen three of the names above suggested this time round, too. Cumberbatch’s star has exploded since 2008, so we can safely assume that he’ll be out of the running. And similarly with the other three, while they are all interesting performers who would get the “other”-ness of the Doctor, I suspect their respective career trajectories would rule them out. (I do love the PhotoShop job I managed to do of Ayoade, though.)

Rather than settle on a specific name, I want to stick my neck out and come up with a few traits that I suspect the new TARDIS resident will have.

  • A limited TV profile. The actor may have one or two fairly recent, moderately prominent TV roles under his belt, just as Tennant had Blackpool and Casanova, and Matt Smith had Party Animals. But he won’t be one of the actors that you see everywhere. TV budgets, and the need to sign your life away for the best part of five years, dictate that the role will be taken by an actor who is not yet well-known or powerful enough to command a crippling fee.
  • A substantial theatre acting CV. Both Tennant and Smith had extensive acting credits prior to taking on the mantle of the Doctor – predominantly on stage rather than on screen. Expect the new Doctor to have one or two long West End runs under their belt, maybe some RSC or National Theatre work. Expect also that certain tabloid newspapers and TV magazines will brand them an “unknown”, as if nobody knows who actors are unless they’ve been in EastEnders or Coronation Street.
  • An older actor. Steven Moffat was originally looking to cast the Doctor as older when looking for Tennant’s replacement, but Smith convinced him otherwise. In fact, Smith’s onscreen portrayal often feels much older than the actor himself. I’d be surprised if another actor of similar age could pull that off – so expect the lead actor’s age to head upwards again.
  • Male. There are some fantastic actresses out there, many of whom could more than cope with playing one of the most iconic characters on television. And I would love to see a Saturday tea time drama that revolved around a strong, charismatic female lead. I have to be realistic, though, and suggest that the twelfth actor to play this role will be as male as his predecessors.

I have a list in my head of people who I think would be good for the role. Most of them only fit three out of the four points above. But that’s why I’m not a casting director.

Ten Things About Who: Rose

Now that ‘series 7’ of Doctor Who is out of the way, I’ve found that I miss writing ten points about an episode. So I’ve decided to carry on – rewinding all the way to 2005’s Rose, and continuing from there. Doctor Who Magazine has chronologically looked back with its Time Team features – but their conceit is that they’re watching as if for the first time, and without reference to any stores broadcast after the one they’re watching.

My posts will most definitely be written from a 2013 perspective, introducing thoughts about how the series has changed – or not – since its return; other shows the series has influenced, or been influenced by, offscreen and on; and any old randomness that comes into my head. Please do chip in in the comments below each post if you have your own thoughts about the episode in question.

Don’t expect the frequency to always be weekly, although I will try and keep up the pace. If you want to know when each one has been published, you can follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my public posts on Facebook.

And so sit back, press Play, and rejoice in the fact that on DVD, the department store basement won’t resound with the echo of Graham Norton doing a sound check for Strictly Dance Fever.

Continue reading “Ten Things About Who: Rose”

Ten Things About Who: The Name of the Doctor

This post has been edited, tidied up and expanded to form part of my new ebook, TEN THINGS ABOUT WHO, available on Kindle. Buy it now for £1.99More details

Okay, this time more than ever, you must watch the episode before reading anything about it. Spoilers, sweetie…

Read previous Ten Things About… posts

1. “Less poetry, Doctor”

Do you hear the Whisper Men
The Whisper Men are near
If you hear the Whisper Men
Then turn away your ear

Do not hear the Whisper Men
Whatever else you do
For once you’ve heard the Whisper Men
They’ll stop… and look at you

A simple, but effective, design helps lift the Whisper Men from being the generic henchmen that they would otherwise become. I couldn’t help being reminded of the Gentlemen that Joss Whedon created for one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s best ever episodes, the near-silent Hush. True, they stole hearts rather than just stopping them – but they, too, were presaged by a cod nursery rhyme:

Can’t even shout, can’t even cry
The Gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows, knocking on doors
They need to take seven and they might take yours
Can’t call to mom, can’t say a word
You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard.

Continue reading “Ten Things About Who: The Name of the Doctor”

Poster boy

I’m lucky enough to know some people who are both incredibly talented and pretty bloody lovely. One such person is Lee Binding, the artist who creates a lot of Doctor Who’s publicity work, including the movie-style posters for each episode.

BBC America has a great interview with Lee about the posters, and the incredible amount of planning that goes into them.