The News

Captain Jack is back! A teeny weeny teaser dropped showing Jack back in the TARDIS from this year’s Festive Special.

The Merch

Plenty of upcoming blu ray action coming next year as we finally get our next classic box set announced – the 3rd Doctor’s Series 8 Collection, a steelbook for the 50th Anniversary story “The Day of the Doctor” and a steelbook (and standard blu ray and dvd) for “The Web of Fear”.

Review story this episode: Adam

A random guy turns up in the Hub causing physiological issues this week as review this emotional story from Series 2. And poor Tosh; still unlucky in love.

Coming next week: Army of Ghosts and Doomsday

A 10th Doctor two-parter for next week’s review. Cybermen AND Daleks in this one.

Thank you all for listening, and until then have a great week, take care of yourselves, stay healthy and remember – Allons-y!

The Torchwood range is one of the strongest from Big Finish at the moment, it’s a run I hope they keep going into the new year, but I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure what to make of Ex Machina, especially given the cover which didn’t inspire much hope in me. But as the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover.

Alfie Shaw delivers his first Torchwood script here, hopefully, its the first of many, and as the cover suggests, it focuses on Ianto who finds himself in a Cardiff that’s a ghost town, the streets and shops are empty, and he seems to be the sole protector of this land against the rift. If some of that sounds familiar, it’s because whether intentionally or not, depending on when the script was written, it does reflect current lockdown life in this COVID-19 world we are currently in. The story however was recorded during the first lockdown, using remote recording techniques, so that also adds to the isolated feeling.

A story that focuses on Ianto isn’t a bad thing either, and I assume this story takes place sometime in Series 1 as there are many references to his ex-girlfriend AKA the dreaded Cyberwoman and it feels like Ianto is just the butler. So it’s nice that this story gives Ianto something really exciting to do in this debut series, rather than changing tea flavours!

Torchwood: Ex Machina - Review
Torchwood: Ex Machina – Review

Shaw makes sure Ianto has a confidence about him I don’t think he had ever had because he’s forgotten the other members of the team. This memory removal is explained in the story, down to the alien baddie, but because of this, he finds himself as Torchwood, the only one, and as the cover depicts, he gets to wear the long coat! Also interesting to the character is that Shaw makes sure Ianto knows he should have a team around him, but he can’t remember why.

The other character involved is also enjoyable, Abigail Forehill, who doesn’t so much fall victim to an alien but stumbles across a device that wants to help her get over a breakup. Of course in typical Torchwood fashion, this snowballs and eventually ends up with virtually all of Cardiff vanishing. Its a good and original plot and Abigail is a perfectly flawed character do be in a Torchwood story and works nicely as the secondary character and Laura Aikman’s performance is very fun to hear.

Gareth David-Lloyd is always excellent as Ianto and he really shines here, getting to lead the show. I’ll admit, probably because of the first series, I never really took to the character but through audio, I’ve come to really love Ianto and hope we get more stories like this one, I know at some point we get a story with him and Rhys, but some more solo tales, please!

Ex Machina really surprised me. It wouldn’t set the world on fire, nor is it one of the really strong entries to the range from this year, but it’s so much fun to hear. Alfie Shaw has done a brilliant job here and his script and plot are excellent. This is another story that’s well worth a listen!

Jumping back into the Virgin run of Doctor Who books, we’ve got books that I actually really enjoyed. The first of which sees what many fans for many years have been clamouring for: a crossover between Doctor Who and Sherlock. The second sees the threads left from State of Decay picked up in Blood Harvest, which sees the Seventh Doctor, Benny and Ace come up against Al Capone and Vampires!

All-Consuming Fire

Written by: Andy Lane

Since its original release, All-Consuming Fire has had a bit of a reputation as being one of the best of the Virgin books and after finishing it, it isn’t hard to see why. It’s also, like I said above, something that fans of Doctor Who and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock have been after for a while, a crossover between the two properties. Sometimes mashing two big properties like Doctor Who and the Sherlock Holmes books shouldn’t work. Luckily for us though, author, Andy Lane, is a massive fan of the Doyle novels and the result is excellent fun.

From the moment reading the first few pages, its clear this is more like a Holmes novel than a Doctor Who story, I think all the Holmes novels are told from Watson’s perspective, something that this book does too. It is also more detailed in its depiction of Victorian London than the novels from that period. Lane’s dialogue is so descriptive, you can practically taste the foul air and the mixture of smells that swarmed around London in the Victorian Age.

All-Consuming Fire - Cover Art
All-Consuming Fire – Cover Art

Lane captures what many other authors have failed to do in the previous novels and really gets into the characters mindsets. Mostly told from Watson’s perspective, he occasionally changes it to be told from Bernice’s and in two chapters, Ace. Not only do we get a more descriptive story, but also a greater understanding of what makes these characters tick and has ensured that all three have been enduringly popular through the ages.

Lane also doesn’t hang about in allowing the Doctor and Holmes to meet. While much of the book is almost like the two characters are constantly battling each other as much as they are working together, it does threaten to undermine the story towards the end. The final third of the book sees the action shift from the Victorian era to an alien planet, and while Lane captures the Victorian feel of science fiction, taking Holmes out of his element as the reverse effect that I think Lane was going for. It makes him instantly combative, almost annoyingly so, and it quickly becomes another Earth invasion by giant slugs storyline that we see quite a lot. The battle of wits isn’t helped by having the Doctor, Holmes, Moriarty and the villains being very, very intelligent.

However, Lane injects a nerve that this line of Who books didn’t have before. He dared to do something completely different and it does work, despite some minor problems. I don’t think any of the books before had this much imagination, they just felt like safe Doctor Who stories to tell, that didn’t dream of moving away from the tropes so well worn. Instead, All-Consuming Fire stands out above the rest by mixing genres in a really nice blend of alien intrigue and Victorian espionage. And even now, Andy Lane should feel very proud that he managed to achieve that!

Blood Harvest

Written By: Terrance Dicks

There is a famous story about Terrance Dicks not being a fan of the changes made to his vampire story, State of Decay. However, at least for me, that it is one of the best stories from Series 18. Its great then that those vampires and that mythology introduced in that story between the old vampires and Time Lords has spanned all this time. Including in the Wilderness Years when Virgin published two connected stories, Blood Harvest and Goth Opera, which opened the new range of novels, The Missing Adventures, a range we’ll cover at some point, probably when I’ve finished reading these New Adventures!

But you don’t necessarily have to go into Goth Opera straight after this book as its largely self contained, with only a few threads left hanging for Paul Cornell to pick up in Opera. Blood Harvest decides to keep things contained to E-Space and Chicago and merge the two worlds together. I can imagine if you aren’t a fan of those stories, this might not appeal to you.

Blood Harvest - Cover Art
Blood Harvest – Cover Art

There are few well-worn tropes in play here, in particular splitting the two companions up. Bernice spends much of the novel in E-Space talking to Ivo from Decay and trying to uncover the mystery of The Three Who Rule. But despite splitting everyone up, Dicks still makes sure everyone gets a lot to do, something that previous writers have failed to do completely. We are also introduced to Romana which was a nice treat, for her, this takes place a little bit before she becomes President of Gallifrey. In many ways, this could be construed as giving Bernice a ‘Doctor’ to work off, but for me, it was two companions, who couldn’t be more different if they tried, coming together to fight a threat when the Doctor isn’t there.

The Doctor and Ace meanwhile are running a bar in 1930s Chicago and running around in Capone territory. I’ll be honest, these were the bits of the book I didn’t like particularly. If my memory is correct, it doesn’t really expand on the vampire plot, except for picking up a private-eye along the way and taking him to E-Space with them when they come to rescue Bernice and Romana. But Dicks always has a way with history and many of his novels have a historical slant. So I didn’t mind reading about the mafia period and Capone, it was much more fun than my stuffy history lessons at school!

There is a sense that Dicks is rushing towards the end as the book wraps up, but I loved the Doctor shouting out of a window to the mafia, “You Dirty Rat!” it had me smiling. But despite the high page count, you can’t help wonder why Dicks felt the need to rush the ending, as a result, the book doesn’t land as well it perhaps should have done. It’s a minor quibble though, it’s just more obvious because I really enjoyed this book!

Next Time: Strange England and First Frontier

Alongside the release of He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, Big Finish as part of their Time Lord Victorious output released a special two-story release in their Short Trips range. But these stories featured none of the Doctors or any companions, instead, it focused on two incarnations of the Master, played originally by Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainely.

This time around though both those incarnations are played by one man, Jon Culshaw, a man who has the voices of many! Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat, Culshaw does a brilliant job of capturing both actors, while he’s impersonation might not be perfect in both cases, he captures their inflections and speech patterns, effortlessly allowing us to deduce in our imaginations which Master features in each story.

The first story is Master Thief, from Sophie Iles and as the title suggests sees him trying to break into something. In case its a vault on an ocean world to steal a fabled map. Iles plays the first half of the story exactly as you’d expect for a Delgado Master story with him killing people left-right-and-centre. But before things threaten to get quite repetitive and boring Iles flips the story and the character of the Master on their heads and gives us something completely new, as due to him not understanding his enemies, he finds himself feeling sorry for killing them. Of course, this doesn’t stop him from doing it, but it’s not something we’ve seen from the Delgado Master before.

Time Lord Victorious: Master Thief and Lesser Evils - Cover Art
Time Lord Victorious: Master Thief and Lesser Evils – Cover Art

Iles handle on the Delgado Master is so brilliant that even this marked change in his character doesn’t feel out of place. And Culshaw effortlessly captures the soft purrs and charming qualities of his voice perfectly, though it’s not perfect enough to have him feature in a full cast audio adventure. If this is what Big Finish is going to do with next years Masterful, I’ll be interested to hear what he sounds like there but it’s not hard to see why so many people fell foul of this charismatic incarnation.

As brilliant as this story was, and Iles really does deserve to contribute more stories in the future, where I think it should have been a stand-alone short-trip because I fail to see how it fits into the Time Lord Victorious event. But I don’t mind too much as this works as an excellent final story for the Delgado Master.

Simon Guerrier rounds the set out with Lesser Evils, which features Ainley’s 80s Master. Personally, I really like this incarnation of the Master and a brand new story with him in isn’t a bad thing!

Right out of the gate, Lesser Evils ties into the Time Lord Victorious thanks to the inclusion of the Kotturuh and it seems to be more focused on them than it does the Master. But as it turns out this isn’t a bad thing as it really allows us to see and hear how evil they can be perceived to be.

Guerrier’s take on this Master is another interesting one, both of these stories gives the Master a little more of a compassionate heart, and there is a sense here that this is a Master who is down on his luck, or as I took it, a Master who is coming to the end of his regeneration and old and tired. Even the Kotturuh look at him with contempt. Many viewers look at the Ainley as the Pantomime-Master but that illusion would be shattered here as he fights for the survival of a single species which has fascinated him. Of course, the Kotturuh will get their way but Guerrier’s script is an interesting conversation between two immensely powerful species.

I think that Culshaw has a much better grasp on Ainley’s Master than he did on the Delgado incarnation. Once again he gets the inflections and personality traits completely correct, as does Guerrier, who to my knowledge, this is his first time writing for this incarnation. This being the Master, his ultimate goal is revealed in the end, but it’s an interesting take on another of the more ruthless versions of the character!

Master Thief and Lesser Evils form a brilliant set of stories that are connected to the current event. I really liked Master Thief because it gave Delgado the departure he deserved, not the ending her got at the end of Frontier in Space. Of course, this was unavoidable as Delgado was tragically killed in a car accident, so thank you, Sophie Iles, for giving who I consider the best Master a departure he deserved. Lesser Evils is an excellent 80s story for Anthony Ainley’s Master, that also sheds some light on the new villains for the Victorious crossover. But both stories once again be listened too on their own and with a narrator as strong as Jon Culshaw, you’re going to be in for a really fun ride!

In February 2020 Sir Derek Jacobi and Paul McGann reunited at Moat Studios to record the fifth box set of The War Master series: Hearts of Darkness. It’s an epic four-hour space opera co-written by David Llewellyn and Lisa McMullin who have created a complicated and audacious story that jumps back and forth in time as the Master is recruited by the Celestial Intervention Agency to track down the Doctor.

I really can’t believe it’s been 11 years since Sir Derek Jacobi was in Utopia from series 3. His layered performance as Yana, impatient, fussy, ingenious, almost kindly and then those last ten minutes the switch to cold hatred, upon opening the fob watch,  had me convinced he was a Master to be reckoned with. It was with regret that his tenure seemed over so quickly. This boxset, therefore, is a welcome addition to expanding further on this Master’s life before he hid as a human.

“Recruited by the Celestial Intervention Agency to track down his oldest enemy, the Master finds himself thrown into a mission that will take him into deepest Dalek territory. Abandoned on the planet Redemption, he assembles a crew and acquires a ship – the journey that follows is certain to test them all… and not everyone will survive. But space pirates and living corpses are the least of their worries. Their biggest threat remains at large: A Time Lord who likes to call himself ‘the Doctor’.

Big Finish The War Master Series 5 artwork for Hearts of Darkness
Big Finish The War Master Series 5 artwork for Hearts of Darkness

5.1 The Edge of Redemption

I should say the pre-credit sequences for each of the adventures are particularly strong with moments where you just want to know more. I loved the instant build-up of intrigue as Narvin ( played by Sean Carisen) gave the Master the mission to seek, locate and maybe destroy the Doctor.  Although the Master seemed more than willing to undertake the mission with an absent Tardis to find. There was a certain symmetry and I did get classic Who tingles of Tom Baker’s Doctor being recruited by the Timelords aka Genesis of the Pepperpots.  The Master is given a card with a million credits to gather his crew and it just reminded me of the teleport ring. Edge of Redemption is a setup story in a lot of ways but its a sparky script from David Llewellyn.

Assembling the Master’s crew was actually a lot of fun to listen to as we meet some peculiar and wonderful accomplices in Captain Morski, Kricket and Ilya. on a heist style adventure.  It also raises interesting ideas which go through the boxset about how people are displaced in war and the morality that takes over them to survive. Redemption is defined as the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil or the action of buying one’s freedom and Edge City on Redemption is a lawless place and some displaced refugees can’t wait to get off the planet.

Find the Doctor… stop the Doctor… and if necessary, kill the Doctor!


5.2 The Scaramancer

Lisa McMullin writes the second story as the Master escapes into space with a crew abroad on the Domdaniel spaceship on his way to the Lahar system. The Master meets trouble in the form of more than one woman who knows him or of him including a space pirate called the Scaramancer named after a dragon. I like that the Master’s reputation seems to precede him. These pirates have a far more brutal reputation than the 1960’s tv counterparts and there’s a battle of wits for everyone to survive. Guns and sabres are drawn as the treasure on the ship is something far more valuable than gold and riches. There are flashbacks to the past to a terrible place called the Siege of Saracasar and there are some unexpected revelations as the Master meets an assassin called Dorado.

Morski now would be a really inconvenient time for you to die

The Master

5.3 The Castle of Kurnos 5

David Llewellyn takes over writing for the third instalment and we are pulled away by Sir Derek Jacobi’s narration from the Domdaniel and the larger Time War damage to the recent past and to the person as its revealed how the Master and the Doctor became interconnected in their latest adventure on Kurnos 5. The quasi-medieval planet is a bleak wilderness and an unexpected change of pace. It’s in many ways a traditional gothic tale of windswept landscapes, unethical men and experiments on the local inhabitants. Paul McGann takes charge as our main character in this story and brings a worried tone as the Doctor on the trail of the Master. He is working with a temporary companion Kilda, a village elder. It’s a personal quest for Kilda with high stakes for her family.

At this point, I should add plaudits to composer Ioan Morris for some stunning music suites for each episode. Each of them is really evocative and haunting. I don’t know if he also wrote the War Master’s drumbeat episode music but I love the variation on the main Doctor Who theme. When the 8th Doctor finally confronts the Master it’s a well laid if diabolical trap that falls into place. The Master’s hero-worship of a Gallifreyan scientist is pushed to the limit. The Master is quite terrifying and Jacobi’s evil laugh just send shivers down your spine. The Master and the Doctor together in the same place doesn’t go well or unnoticed as the Celestial Intervention Agency arrives to arrest the Master.

5.4 The Cognition Shift

So, we arrive at the conclusion of the boxset on the planet Nastrond, a “nasty” planet of the corpses which King “Kirios” rules. Lisa McMullin concludes the boxset as the Master and the Doctor are finally set to meet again after the events on Kurnos 5.  The journeys from The Edge of Redemption and The Scaramancer now slot into place as the Master and his companions of fortune, land in a god-forsaken place. Paul McGann and Derek Jacobi are fantastic playing different aspects of their characters. Their confrontation becomes rather epic as the action moves apace and the cognition shift plot explodes into action. The story sets up some future events as well.

What I really liked so much is this boxset could have just been the Doctor and the Master squaring off against each other again with the rivalry that’s developed with each encounter. There is a bit of that as they are two former friends, on opposite sides but in some ways, the Master and the Doctor are aspects of the same coin. They know each other so well now that they can anticipate each other’s moves so the events are part of cause and effect. Paul McGann can do no wrong in my eyes as the curious anti-war 8th Doctor and Derek Jacobi carries his Master beautifully with all the skill and experience of his acting years.

The Master’s wit at times really makes me like him but then there are switches to a lack of compassion where he is completely untouched by the spectacle of destruction and displays a cruel indifference. As my introduction to the War Master series its a seamless transition from tv to this audio. Jacobi plays his character with the same impatience and vast intelligence we know he has but its moderated because the Master needs the help of other people to get what he wants. Derek Jacobi really understands the Master has a block of ice where his soul should be.

The Daleks are mentioned but not seen which is something I’m really pleased about. I mentioned before how I don’t think they work purely on audio as something of their presence is missing. There is time spent through the characters we meet with an exploration of how the ripples of the Time War affect the worlds on the fringes of the universe. Having four hours to explore that impact produces an interesting study of emotional depth to the story. The actions of a Timelord can change lives irreconcilably. Most of the supporting characters are victims of one type or another. Characters rise. Some characters fall.  Others are entirely untouched and go with the flow.

The supporting cast is very strong and I particularly liked Colin McFarlane’s Morski, smuggler, captain of the Domdaniel, a crewman with the Master who appears in three of the four episodes. A questionable view over his morality at times but he goes anywhere for the right price. Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo plays the Scaramancer with huge gusto and energy which I loved. The Scaramancer and also Ilya, are hugely damaged, bitter, angry people. They are playing strong women in spite of what they have gone through. The glimpses we get of their pain are raw and for the Scaramancer her guilt never goes away so she has to face her choices later.

In conclusion, this is a boxset that would encourage me to go back and buy the earlier War Master series. To describe the plot of Hearts of Darkness in detail, if you haven’t heard it already. would ruin the enjoyment for you dear reader but there are plenty of twists and turns It’s a bit like when you see The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie in the theatre and you’re asked not to give away whodunnit but I hope you will be wanting a second listen to Hearts of Darkness straight away.

If you’ve already listened to this story what did you enjoy most? Post your comments on here, the BBBP Discord server or on Twitter. Let’s talk!

Sir Derek Jacobi shines with Paul McGann in a mind-bending story with so much to enjoy 8.5/10

The News

Episode 1 of the animated web series “The Daleks” has started titled “The Archive of Islos” and it’s rather good.

The Merch

Big Finish announces the return of Eric Roberts for a new three-part story dropping next March titled “Master!”.

Review story this episode: The Invasion

Classic Who Cyberman story this one and one we’ve not watched or spoken about too often. Did we get through the eight parts with joy or boredom?

Coming next week: Torchwood – Adam

Join us next week for our review of Adam and a bit of the old memory loss happening to the TW team.

Thank you all for listening, and until then have a great week, take care of yourselves, stay healthy and remember – Allons-y!

With the Time Lord Victorious event well underway across many ranges from books, comics, figurines and exclusive online stories, its now Big Finish’s turn to begin their output into the range. We’ve got some Tenth Doctor and Fourth Doctor adventures to come that tie into the range but for now, we kick things off with a three-part Eighth Doctor series, in which the Doctor finds himself in a frontier town on an alien world up against an assassin who happens to be an Ood named Brian.

Time Lord Victorious - He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not - Cover Art
Time Lord Victorious – He Kill Me, He Kills Me Not – Cover Art

I’ll admit I didn’t have many expectations going into Time Lord Victorious. However, I did really enjoy the first of the Titan Comics, Defender of the Daleks, so I thought I’d give it a proper go. And as I told myself, it was inevitable I listened to the Big Finish stories as I listen to most of their output anyway. But I was pleasantly surprised.

Author, Carrie Thompson, who has previously contributed a Fifth Doctor Short Trip adventure takes the Eighth Doctor, presumably sometime after the events of the Time War boxset as he’s travelling solo and plonks him right down into the middle of the action. We’ve already been introduced to two characters being hunted by Brian and now the Doctor has to figure out who to trust. That’s not to say that this audio doesn’t come with its short-fallings, they are clear to see or hear when you give this a go but its fun to find out how Thompson wraps the story up, something that is supposed to pick up with the second issue of the Titan Comics series.

If you didn’t want to experience any of the other stories from this event, then He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, works as a beginning to a little Eighth Doctor series. Thompson gets the character of the Eighth Doctor right off the bat, as he struggles to help two fleeing fugitives and stop a little town from being murdered by Brian. Brian the Ood is certainly one to watch, of course trusting this assassin is something that you should never do but Thompson doesn’t make him out and out evil or nasty. He’s just there to do a job but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be polite to all the others around him, so long as they don’t get in his way. And actor Silas Carlson does a brilliant job of voicing him. I’m hoping he turns up again in some other audios in the future, and I was pleased to find the character has just turned up in the first of the books, The Knight, The Fool and the Dead.

For me, the biggest problem comes from the ropey accents. Why Big Finish doesn’t just hire American actors to do the voices I don’t know, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the story, I love The Gunfighters and that’s got some shoddy accents in it too! But Thompson makes the side characters enjoyable enough that these accents shouldn’t bother you too much. The character of Doctor Craddock is probably the best one, as he gets a nice arc through the hour run time.  He suffers from overwhelming guilt at letting a patient die to save another one. He sacrifices himself and while it might seem like a bit of a shallow story arc, the performance and the writing really sells it to us. The other two characters I really liked where Felicity and Sophie, two lovers who just want a life together but Brian has been hired to hunt and kill.

Another thing that might bother listeners is that the story begins with the Doctor looking for a missing monument on the planet he arrives on but that is pretty quickly forgotten in favour of the Brian storyline, however, I expect this will be picked up in one of the other series or this audio range soon.

If you’ve been undecided on this Time Lord Victorious event, then I can say definitely give this audio a go. It works brilliantly as a stand-alone series, especially as even I have trouble seeing how it ties into the wider arc, apart from the character of Brian. Paul McGann is, as usual, excellent, and Carrie Thompson’s script is another good one, even if there were one or two things that will stand out as unusual. But He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, is certainly worth a go.

Following up some strong entries into the Short Trips range is the equally as strong, Her Own Bootstraps, a Ninth Doctor adventure, set before we saw him in Rose, but follows an image seen in that story, which sees the Ninth Doctor, drawn just before the eruption of Krakatoa.

Her Own Bootstraps
Her Own Bootstraps

New author to Big Finish, Amy Veeres makes her debut with a bang, literally and figuratively in this case, with a brilliant Ninth Doctor story. For me, the Ninth Doctor era has been the hardest to capture on audio, mainly because, Christopher Eccleston wasn’t involved. I didn’t like The Ninth Doctor Chronicles release, mainly because, and I’m going to be honest here, I wasn’t impressed with Nicholas Brigg’s impersonation of the actor.

What helps nail the Ninth Doctor’s era this time around is that Veeres really gets the character just right. He’s tired of war and has set out to remove a lot of devices from the universe that can cause him great harm, a perfectly Doctor-ish thing to do. This though leads him to get into conflict with Dr. Althea Bryce who makes an excellent foil. Bryce is something else that Veeres gets completely right in that she isn’t necessarily evil in the beginning, just creating a device that could help millions. Of course, she gets jaded over the years and uses it to hurt millions, but that leads to the bootstrap paradox that surrounds the story when a younger Bryce travels back through time to stop the Doctor from destroying her machine.

Our host Garry will be glad that Clive plays a part in the creation of this story as one of the photos he shows Rose is of the Doctor just before Krakatoa erupted and destroyed the surrounding area.  This story is perhaps the epitome of Big Finish taking a single line of dialogue and making a story around it. But that’s the beauty of Who, everything is connected so its a nice addition.

Jacob Dudman is once again on narration duty but he does a brilliant job once again, he’s a very talented reader and makes all the characters sound completely different which isn’t something every narrator can do. Of course, Dudman is famous for his impersonations of different Doctors. Of course, the Ninth Doctor isn’t one that he’s done very often and while it isn’t completely like listening to Eccelston, he nails the character in the performance. For me, he is the most successful Ninth Doctor copycat since the original, so well done to him for getting the character right off the bat.

With a great script and brilliant performance, Her Own Bootstraps is an excellent way to spend half an hour. Veeres story is a simple one but that is the strength of it, and there is a lot of meaning to it, its a perfect addition to the slowly growing Ninth Doctor output and a brilliant lead into the ‘proper’ Ninth Doctor adventures to be released next year!

From 1976, The Doctor Who Appreciation Society, or DWAS, has been in existence, allowing fans to share their views and opinions in a number of different articles, polls and fan artwork amongst other things. They’ve had a close relationship with the BBC since their beginning and have kept us Doctor Who fans up to date ever since. Also, their monthly regular magazine, Celestial Toyroom is not only the longest-running fan magazine in existence but also the longest-running Doctor Who magazine.

It’s back this month with issue 511, with striking cover art of the brilliant Anthony Ainley Master, from the artist, Connor Adkins, if you haven’t seen his art on Twitter go and take a look, its amazing, I really loved his recent Sixth Doctor spread, with a glass Dalek, a stained-glass Dalek as well as all his companions from onscreen and audio! One might think that, following last months issue which was all about the life and times of 80s producer, John Nathan-Turner, that this issue would be all about the Master. I would assume they are leaving that for next year which marks the anniversary of the Master’s first appearance in Terror of the Autons.

Instead, we get a plethora of fantastic articles and interviews, the first of which from chats to writer Bedwyr Gullidge, who not only writes for Blogtor Who, editing the Big Finish reviews as well as contributing over 500 articles to the site in general, he’s also found time to write the recently published: Doctor Who Exhibitions: The Unofficial and Unauthorised History from Telos Publishing. Interviewer Ian Wheeler lets us get to know him, by asking the normal Who-related questions, favourite Doctor Who story, how did you get into the show, before allowing us to know some really cool things. Gullidge worked as an assistant director on a number of Peter Capaldi episodes. He says how kind Capaldi was and how awesome it was to see the Cybermen coming out of the graves in Death in Heaven. And now we know he owns three complete costumes from the show, the one worn by Martha in Human Nature/The Family of Blood and two worn by Sarah Jane in The Sarah Jane Adventures!

Of course, Wheeler is quick to expand on the book and talks with him through a number of questions about favourite facts, where the idea came from to write the book as well as whether we’ll see any more exhibitions again. Speaking for myself, I think that there would be a lot of interest, especially if the attention the costumes got at last years MCM Comic Con was anything to go by, you had to get to the stall really early because by midday you couldn’t see them for all the people! Hopefully, this won’t be the only book Gullidge writes or contributes towards!

Doctor Who Youtuber, Joshua Snares, who published some truly brilliant background videos on the Missing Episodes from the 60s, talks us through creating a successful Doctor Who YouTube channel. I really like the videos he puts out, and as a budding YouTuber with two of my friends, trying to make content about Doctor Who is a real nightmare, especially for the BBC blocking everything every two seconds. I’ve nothing but respect for Snares and hope he keeps the channel going!

Friends of Ace and Fans At War form two interesting articles, the first of which looks at the popular Twitter site, Friends of Ace, which every week, offers us a look and opinions of various Who-Related characters or contributors who identify as LGBTQ+. The site has gained a lot of brilliant attention from fans and contributors alike, including videos from Sophie Aldred, Angela Bruce, Mark Gattis, Scott Handcock and Paul Clayton. Rik Moran, DWAS editor, takes a look at some of the other controversial moments from Who, outside of the Timeless Child arc. It’s a brilliant article with a great cartoon showing how fans should always come together no matter our views on what happens on it because we all love Who.

For me though, the most heartfelt article of this issue came from John Lane who wrote, How Doctor Who Saved My Life. Its a tragic but heartfelt look back at Lane’s life and how, through all the tragedy of his childhood, Doctor Who saved him, even though he had doubts in his teens. I don’t think it’s my place to expand on the other things mentioned in the article, because it’s not my story to tell, but its beautifully written and Lane should be proud for feeling safe enough to share this very personal and touching story.

Karen Louise Hollis shares her memories of the cover star, Anthony Ainley. She was the author of his biography, The Man Behind the Master.  Who knew that the book had some uncertain origins, including seemingly aggressive emails from Ainley’s family members who seemed opposed to the book being published. Luckily for us though, the book, which has just recently received the paperback treatment, following the initial hardback and audiobook, was well received and is full of lovely anecdotes from friends of Ainley’s going all the way back to his childhood. Finding Anthony Ainley is another great article.

Rounding this month’s issue out is A Short Trip to the Ideas Shop, from Ben Tedds, who won last years Big Finish Short Trips competition. His story, The Best-Laid Plans featured the Twelfth Doctor and was read by Jacob Dudman, its an excellent account of what goes into writing a 5000-word short story for Big Finish. If you are like me and send in a pitch to these competitions that Big Finish holds annually, this is a must-read! And to match the striking cover we get another excellent back cover look at the different incarnations of the Master from Carolyn Edwards.

If you aren’t a member of DWAS, then you really need to be, not only do you get a monthly magazine, packed with different articles, there are discounts on various products from their page, as well as a nice discount from their own convention The Capitol, which always sees a nice group of Who actors in attendance, I’m going to try to go one in the future, hopefully when COVID-19 has finished though!

There is a lot that DWAS offers its members, including a look back at their archives, meaning you can read all the previously published magazines. For a yearly payment of £23.00 or six months of £13.00 as well as rates close to that in Europe and Worldwide, its excellent value for money and well worth it and you’re always assured of some excellent Who-chat!

When I first started listening to Big Finish, one of the earliest audios I heard was Steve Lyons’ Son of the Dragon, a Fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem story that saw them arrive at the time where Vlad the Impaler was, well, impaling people. But it quickly became one of my favourite Doctor Who stories ever and since then, probably back in 2012 when I started getting into Big Finish properly, I’ve loved almost all of the Fifth Doctor stories from this era, though the less said about Nekromanteia the better!

The Meaning of Red - Cover Art
The Meaning of Red – Cover Art

As a result, I’ve always looked forward to the Fifth Doctor and Peri stories, something that doesn’t really happen very much anymore, probably because there are only two on-screen adventures with the pair. Luckily for us, The Meaning of Red is another excellent entry into their time together.

When the TARDIS leaves Peri behind on a strange planet following an earthquake, she finds that she has to cope on her own and become the Doctor to solve the mystery surrounding Calleto, until the Doctor can return for her. Author Rod Brown, a newcomer to Big Finish, handles the story with ease, in some places, the environmental elements are a little forced but handled nowhere near as bad as they were in Orphan 55, and it does actually add to the story. But those issues and elements he is talking about are handled nicely and it never feels like a lecture as Peri has to become a detective to solve the mystery.

At 45 minutes, its one of the longer Short-Trips of the range but it never feels like it drags, thanks to Brown’s script and the tight direction from Helen Goldwyn who always seems to know how to get the best from everyone she works with.

Brown’s script is a brilliant piece though, for the character of Peri, and actress and narrator, Nicola Bryant takes the script and runs with it, easily making the 45-minute runtime feel a lot shorter. One might feel like her changing between accents from Peri’s American one to everyone else’s English could be a little distracting, but it doesn’t happen enough to really be noticeable. Brown’s script really shows the character of Peri growing up and that is something we can sense from Bryant’s performance here. It’s a nice thing to hear, especially if you have only just joined the adventures of the Sixth Doctor and Peri, where she is a little older and much more mature, this might be a good listen to get used to that.

The Meaning of Red is a sterling debut script for Rod Brown, with elements of environmental dangers as well as the meaning of remembrance, one wonders why, given the final line, this wasn’t released a little closer towards Remembrance Sunday, however its a thought-provoking piece which Nicola Bryant delivers with excellence. This is certainly worth the £2.99 price tag!