Big Finish’s latest series of adventures for the Fourth Doctor adopts the same boxed set format as last year, containing eight stories split across two months and two sets. This time, however, there’s a storyline tying them all together under the umbrella title of The Syndicate Masterplan. Given that the opening story is set in 1978 and begins moments after The Invasion of Time finishes, the idea of a series-long arc for the Fourth Doctor never feels like a jarring, modern conceit given that we have The Key to Time just around the corner.

Cover artwork for ‘The Sinestran Kill’ by Andrew Smith

With Leela left behind on Gallifrey and K-9 Mk II still in need of assembly, the Doctor needs a new companion. The Sinestran Kill provides one in the form of WPC Ann Kelso and, refreshingly, it appears that the Fourth Doctor actually wants her around. It’s not until you listen to Jane Slavin and Tom Baker that you realise the Fourth Doctor always seemed to have companions thrust upon him, a reflection of Baker’s own situation behind the scenes.

Think about it; Leela forces her way on board the TARDIS, Romana is dropped off by the White Guardian, Adric stows away, Tegan accidentally wanders inside and Nyssa literally has nowhere else to go. The last person the Doctor actually invited to join him was K-9. It’s therefore something of a novelty to have scenes where the Fourth Doctor is impressed by someone and keen to show them the universe.

Writer Andrew Smith wisely opens the story from Ann’s perspective, as she pops in to visit her friend Tony whilst walking her beat as a WPC. Soon enough, Tony has attracted the attention of local gangsters sent to kill him, local gangsters with impossibly futuristic technology. Naturally, it is this impossibly futuristic technology which will bring the Doctor bumbling into WPC Ann Kelso’s life.

The early scenes between both characters are brilliantly written by Smith. In particular, the line “That all depends on how you react when I say yes” invokes a feeling of warmth and joy that you only get from the top tier Doctor and companion pairings. Much of this is down to the clear affection that Baker and Slavin have for each other, which is reflected in the easy chemistry between both characters. Baker gets some terrific Doctor moments here, too, suggesting that the introduction of a new companion allows the opportunity to showcase his Doctor at his very best. One particular exchange between the Doctor and thuggish gangster Hugo Blick about alien disguises and naturally fat faces is hilarious and calls to mind some of Baker’s very best moments in the role.

The rest of the cast are rather upstaged by our two leads, Glynis Barber and Ewan Bailey occasionally feel like two dimensional gangster archetypes in their roles as the villainous Blick couple. Frank Skinner’s DCI Nelson is never entirely convincing as the head of Scotland Yard’s gang task force but ably captures the weary indignation of dealing with the Doctor and two separate alien races. The Sinestran Kill is clearly attempting to reflect the affectionate genre pastiches that 1970s Doctor Who did so well, obvious cop show touchstones being The Gentle Touch, The Sweeney, Juliet Bravo etc. On paper it absolutely works, the boggle eyed bohemian Fourth Doctor materialising in the gruff world of plain clothes detectives and Cockney gangsters, raising merry hell as he does so. It’s just unfortunate that the direction and some of the performances impede the story from achieving the full potential of its premise.

All that being said, once the plot takes a left field turn into something more akin to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, Nicholas Khan really comes into his own as Blick’s henchman Jimmy, a snarling, sinister villain. It is in these climactic moments that the threads of Smith’s script and, presumably, the larger arc come into focus intriguing both Ann Kelso and us as listeners.

Overall, this is an entertaining debut for a new companion who shows a great deal of promise, if anyone can help the Doctor solve the mystery of the enigmatic syndicate then it’s the level headed, sharp and funny WPC Ann Kelso. The Doctor may have a date with the White Guardian and Romana I in his future, but I’m certainly hoping we can postpone that for as long as possible.

You can listen to the first part of The Sinestran Kill for free on the Big Finish website

The Fourth Doctor Adventures: The Syndicate Masterplan is available from here

The Sinestran Kill by Andrew Smith, Directed by Nicholas Briggs

Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Jane Slavin (Ann Kelso), Frank Skinner (DCI Scott Neilson), Glynis Barber(Kathy Blake), Ewan Bailey (Hugo Blake), Nicholas Khan (Jimmy Lynch), Leon Williams (Tony Reynolds). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Hey Who fans. In this week’s show…

The News

The tumbleweed is already rolling down the road – no news.

Merch Corner

A new collectors edition vinyl of The Daleks’ Master Plan is coming soon and Mags from the Psychic Circus is joining McCoy for an upcoming Big Finish adventure.

“SJA – The Day of the Clown” Review

We’re back on the SJA reviews and we pick up series 2 and a certain series 11 companion stars alongside Liz Sladen in this creepy story inspired by Stephen King’s IT.

Next week our review will be the 4th Doctor story – Genesis of the Daleks.  Until then have a great week and until next time – Allons-y!

Happy New Year Who fans. After the New Year’s Day Special ‘Resolution’ we’re now faced with a whole year, at least, of no new Doctor Who. We’ve been here before of course, a few times, so we can get through it but what makes these “dark times” easier? Let’s look at some great ways you can still enjoy Who.

Plan some marathons

Doctor Who marathon
Classic Doctor Who offers a huge library of great content

This is potentially the easiest thing to do and it’s not something that’s unique to a Who drought, we all watch plenty of Who all the time anyway. What’s cool about starting a fresh year is that you can plan your marathon viewing for the whole year. 

For example, you could say each month is assigned to a Doctor and you’re going to watch a bunch of stories every weekend of that month or every Friday evening or every Sunday morning. I’ll leave it up to you to refine the details.

Fans of Classic Who will be pleased to know that (Twitch is doing another stream season up to the end of January) so that’s the first month of the year ticked off 👍

Which ever way you do it, it’s a good feeling knowing that your year is planned and filled up with Who.

Get out to conventions and events

London Film and Comic Con
London Film and Comic Con

Ah, the good old fan convention/event. They come in all shapes and sizes across multiple locations spanning the UK (and many other countries).

The convention scene is typically the busiest with the more famous stars but as a result is usually the most expensive. These are things like London Film & Comic Con, MCM London Comic Con etc along with slightly smaller events these companies run at various times throughout the year. These are good if you want to meet your favourite Doctor or companion and get a signed pic and/or photo. There’s also some half decent merchandise sold at these events if you’re after that Adric suit style t-shirt.

Something to consider are smaller events. In the UK we have smaller conventions from organisations such as Fantom Events which run more low key days at a cheaper cost. They usually cater to a more Classic Who audience but it’s still a great day to be had.

There’s also more unique events to behold such as the very cool cinema showings at the BFI Southbank Cinema in London. They typically show a Classic Who story to coincide with the release of a special edition set (the last showing was Earthshock to celebrate the release of the Season 19 Blur Ray Boxset). These are accompanied by a Q&A with cast and crew of the era and is a ruddy good afternoon.

Whichever type of event you choose to attend the coolest aspect by far is simply meeting and hanging out with other Who fans. It’s awesome chatting Who (at very deep levels at times) with like minded folk who “get” what you’re talking about. People have made friends for life at conventions, dive in.

Start your journey into Big Finish

Big Finish
Fantastic adventures from Big Finish

Where do we start with Big Finish then. They’ve put out so much great quality content over the years, it’s a bit of a beast to behold. How would one describe Big Finish? It’s essentially a canon-friendly collection of stories from (mainly) the Classic Doctors with some modern era stories starting to gain traction.

What did the Eighth Doctor do for the many years before his regeneration? Ever wondered if the Sixth Doctor got a proper regeneration? After some more multi-Doctor stories? Big Finish has it all. Think of it as the world of Doctor Who that you love from the TV era’s but fleshed out with plenty of back stories and extended adventures.

All of the Doctors are here in some shape or form (the Fourth Doctor through to the 10th Doctor all star in their stories with some great voice actors filling in for the others) along with their respective companions along with some new additions you haven’t seen before from TV. 

We could write a whole article on Big Finish stories but jump over to the site and have a browse around and see if there are any stories that take your fancy. There’s also a great website called The Time Scales which offers up lots of reviews and recommendations.

Dive into fan made content

Who's He Video Podcast
Fan made content can be awesome

Like Big Finish, there’s an absolute tonne of fan made content to get stuck into in the shape of podcasts, YouTube channels and blogs. The quality can vary from border-line professional down to listen/watch the once. Let’s break it down…

Podcasts. There’s a raft of them littered throughout the iTunes podcast section (and the now many other podcast networks) so do a search for “Doctor Who Podcast” and plenty should appear. Shameful plug alertalong with our own podcast there’s a few that I listen to regularly which are good starting points: “Doctor Who: Who’s He Podcast”, “Progtor Who Podcast”, and “Krynoid Podcast” plus a few more. Pick a few out and listen to a couple of episodes and decide if you want to subscribe.

YouTube. Like podcasts, there’s a large amount of content (more so here) and the quality varies. Here are some more recommendations based on some channels I subscribe to. Another shameless plug alert – my co-host Adam’s channel “The Geeks Handbag”, “The Who Addicts”, “thehostproductions” and “Doctor Who: Who’s He? Video Podcast”. Also like the podcasts category, have a browse around and get stuck in.

Start or expand your library

Doctor Who Target books
Target novelisations

Although the BBC aren’t putting out any new episodes on the telly box there are still official Who stories released regularly from BBC Books along with plenty of unofficial books too.

A few releases, both old and new, to kick-start or expand your library include:

  • Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale: The Final Chapter – I always recommend this one and have done loads of times on the podcast. It’s a fascinating insight into the making of Russell T Davies’ era of the show.
  • Doctor Who: The English Way of Death – A great 4th Doctor story based on the old Virgin Missing Adventures range. Great characterisation and the story pips along nicely.
  • Doctor Who: Rose (Target Collection) – One of the recent Target novelisations written by Russell T Davies and fleshes out the episode Rose with some extra characterisation and scenes.
  • Doctor Who: Witch Hunters – I’m a sucker for the Salem witch trials era and this story featuring the 1st Doctor is a belter. Dark, creepy, surprisingly historically accurate and author Steve Lyons writes dialogue for the 1st Doctor so well you’ll hear Hartnell’s voice in your head as you read it.
  • Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen – it would be remiss of me to not include a novelisation by Terrance Dicks in the list. He’s written so many he’s border-line superhuman. There are many great examples of his writing that I literally closed my eyes, waved my finger along my bookshelves and stopped after counting to three. The Abominable Snowmen won’t disappoint. Very well written, engaging story and you can see Dicks’ brilliance even in this early stage.

There’s plenty to keep Who fans busy throughout this year and into 2020 before Series 12 makes an appearance. Let us know on the socials if you pick up any Big Finish releases or books and better still, tell us face-to-face when we bump into you at a convention.

Welcome back Who fans, we hope you all had a great Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all. We’re kicking 2019 off with a coat of new paint on the website and a new intro to the podcast. Without further ado…

The News

We hate starting off a show (and a new year) on sad news but June Whitfield and William Sheppard left us, there’s a new Cosmic Masque from DWAS and a bunch of new high-quality audio recordings from early Who have been found.

Merch Corner

The War Master will battle The Eighth Doctor is the upcoming Rage of the Timelords and the kid’s mag Doctor Who Adventures is back for a one-off special jam-packed with cool Who goodies.

“Resolution” Review

Our final Thirteenth Doctor review until next year, 2018 did go quick! We ended series 11 feeling a bit flat so does this provide a suitable exit and leave us wanting more of Jodie and the team or is this an unfortunate continuation on poor writing etc from The Chibbers?

Thank you for joining us for 214. Next week we’ll be back to our usual schedule and it will be The Day of the Clown from The Sarah Jane Adventures. Until then have a great week and until next time – Allons-y!

Hello, my lovely Whovians. I hope you have all had a fantastic Christmas and are enjoying the break. Welcome to the BIG Big Blue B0x Podcast New Year’s Day 2019 quiz with a mix of easy and some harder questions. This quiz is just for fun and by the end, you can hopefully congratulate yourself that you are a New Years and Doctor Who aficionado. There are a total of 30 marks available for correct answers.

Happy quizzing!!!!  Come on you know you want to! The answers are to be found at the bottom of this article.

Part 1 New Year

How much do you know about New Year traditions and New Year itself, Answer the questions below and test your knowledge? There are 9 marks available in this section. 

1)  Who brought in the Julian calendar where 1st January became a common celebration day? (1 mark)

A) Julian Clary B) Julius Caesar C) Julian Glover
A) Julian Clary B) Julius Caesar C) Julian Glover

2)  What is a traditional activity on New Year’s Day (1 mark)

A) Plunging into cold water B) Sailing around the Solent C) Cross-country running
A) Plunging into cold water B) Sailing around the Solent C) Cross-country running

3)  The song, “Auld Lang Syne,” is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. Which poet transcribed the poem on which it is based?  (1 mark)

Auld Lang Syne - the song heard around the world
Auld Lang Syne – the song heard around the world

a)   Thomas Aird                                                                       b) Alexander Balfour                                                    c) Robert Burns

4)  In the song “we’ll take a cup of kindness yet” but how big is the cup?  (1 mark)

a) A quart          b) A schooner          c) A pint

5)  Toasts typically concern gratefulness for the past year’s blessings, hope and luck or the future, and thanking guests for their New Year’s company. What is typically drunk at New Year in the UK (1 mark)

A) Champagne B) Sherry C) Beer
A) Champagne B) Sherry C) Beer

6)  What event typically occurs at New Year in the UK?  (1 mark)

A) Carnival B) Food Festival C) Fireworks Display
A) Carnival B) Food Festival C) Fireworks Display

7)  Which city/ country will see the new year in 2019 first (1 mark)

a) Honiara in the Solomon Islands              b) Kiribati in the central Pacific Ocean       c) Chatham Islands/New Zealand

8)  Which two of these classic Who stories included a New Year ‘s Day episode? (2 answers, 1 mark per correct answer  available)

A) The Face of Evil B) The Dalek Masterplan C) Terror of the Autons
A) The Face of Evil B) The Dalek Masterplan C) Terror of the Autons

Part 2 The Krypton Who Factor

How good are your memory and observation? There are two video clips and 8 marks available in this section. 

Watch this Doctor Who video Daleks Funniest Moments by youtuber Yes review and answer the following questions:

9)  In the clip where a Dalek goes over the side of a ship which story is that from? (1 mark)

a) The Daleks          b) Dalek Invasion of Earth          c) The Chase

10)  In the clip where two Daleks are attacked by antibodies from Death to the Daleks how many antibodies attacks? (1 mark)

a) 3          b) 2          c) 1

11)  What floor is the 5th Doctor on when he throws the Dalek out of the warehouse (1 mark)

a) 3rd           b) 1st           c) 2nd

12)  In the  Postman Pat sketch, the fruit basket contains banana, pineapple and what other fruit?  (1 mark)

a) Grapes          b) Mangos         c) Kiwis

Okay onto the next clip. Watch this video   Doctor Who | Flash Bang Wallop! | Babelcolour    by the hugely talented youtuber Stuart Humphryes and answer 

13)  What colour is the Doctor’s suit in the clip where Freema winks at the camera? (1 mark)

a) Brown           b) Plum         c) Blue

14)  How many times is the Doctor seen clapping his hands through the video? (1 mark)

a) 2          b) 3          c) 4

15)  A naughty undressed  (!) Katy Manning poses with what colour Dalek?  (1 mark)

Katy Manning
Katy Manning

a) White           b) Gold       c) Grey

16)  How many brides that we see actually do get married? (1 mark)

a) None         b) 1         c) 3

Part 3 New Year Resolutions!

The Doctor Who special has always been a highly anticipated and awaited event for many fans ever since the show was revived in 2005. This year, of course, it’s on the 1st January so these questions are about beginnings of eras. This section has 8 marks available 

17) In An Unearthly Child, what does Ian threaten the Doctor with when in the junkyard? (1 mark)

a) a punch on the nose         b) Fetching a policeman       c) Breaking the door of the police box

18)  In Power of the Daleks, the Doctor finds a dagger which he got from whom? (1 mark)

a) King Richard          b) El Akir           c) Saladin

19)  In Spearhead in Space, what is the name of the poacher (1 mark)

a) Sam Munro          b) Sam Seeley          c) Sam Stevens

Watch this clip from Robot and answer the following question:

20) The Doctor quotes  Mother, Mother I feel sick, call the Doctor, quick, quick, quick. Who wrote the book with the same quote?  (1 mark)

a) Remy Charlip b) Roald Dahl           c) PL Travers

21) In this clip from Castrovalva, what does Mergrave see out of the window?  (3 answers, one mark per correct answer  available)

a) Mergrave’s house         b) the town square c) His Pharmacy    d) The library             e) The council dwellings

22) What does the 5th Doctor say he is fond of? (1 mark)

a) Physics           b) History         c) Literature

Part 4 Entry to the Capitol

The Capitol is the home of the Time Lords and stood in the mountains of Solace and Solitude, on the continent of Wild Endeavour, enclosed in a mighty glass dome. Have you studied enough at the Academy to get more than 51% that the Doctor achieved. There are 5 marks available. 

23)  Who is this monster? (1 mark)

Who is this Doctor Who monster?
Who is this Doctor Who monster?

a) The Moxx of Balhoon           b) Adherents of the Repeated Meme          c) The Face of Boe

24) Who are these male actors who have played historical figures in Doctor Who? 1 mark for each correct answer (3 marks available)

A) Robin Hood played by who? B) Shakespeare - Who are thou? C) King Kames played by whom?
A) Robin Hood played by who? B) Shakespeare – Who are thou? C) King Kames played by whom?

25)  Final question and there are no answers to pick from for this so only using your super knowledge who is the only actor to play 2 companions in Doctor Who history?  (1 mark)  

Well done! You’ve got to the end of the BIG Big Blue Box Podcast 2019 New Year Quiz. How did you do?

Tally your marks up and post a brief comment on Twitter if you have completed the quiz. Thanks very much. Happy New Year everyone.

Here’s to a great 2019 and whatever it brings.

Total Marks

0-10 Good try but are you sure you haven’t seen a dream crab hanging around the house recently?

11-23 Well done!  you definitely can have the last chocolate from the selection box!

23-30 Excellent knowledge!!  You have graduated with a triple first and are ready to invest in the Paul Smith scarf and hop onto the Tardis. Don’t forget your sonic!


The Answers

1: b          2: a          3: c          4: c          5: a          6:c          7: b  8: a & b          9: c          10: b          11: c          12: a          13: c          14: b
15: b         16: b Donna Noble marries Shaun Temple but the other marriages don’t take place          17: b          18: c          19: b          20: a      21: b & c & d
22: b         23: a The Moxx of Balhoon             24: Robin Hood ( Tom Riley) , William Shakespeare (Dean Lennox Kelly), King James (Alan Cummings)  25. Happy 90th birthday to Bernard Cribbins this week. He played Tom Campbell in the film Dalek’s Invasion Earth 2150 A.D as well as Wilfred Mott