Dame Diana Rigg channels her inner Bond villain to unleash The Crimson Horror upon the world in Mark Gatiss’ hybrid of Victorian penny dreadfuls, steampunk and Catherine Cookson.
The Crimson Horror deserves kudos for daring to experiment with the established Doctor Who format as the Doctor and Clara are introduced late on in proceedings with their involvement established in sepia-tinged flashback sequences akin to those used in the movie version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. For the first third of Mark Gatiss’ enjoyable romp, which combined late-1970s Bond über-villainy, the North England-based Catherine Cookson sagas and the lurid air of Victorian penny dreadfuls, centre stage belonged to the popular Paternoster Gang. Following on from their appearance in The Snowmen, the trio of Madame Vastra (the Silurian from the dawn of the human race), Jenny Flint (Vastra’s wife and maid) and Strax (the trigger-happy Sontaran who’s always looking for an excuse to eradicate human scum – preferably with grenades) once again demonstrated their suitability to head up the next Doctor Who spin-off. And whilst the wait for The Paternoster Gang continues Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart and Dan Starkey will return in the Series 7b finale The Name of the Doctor.
Chief guest stars for The Crimson Horror were the legendary Dame Diana Rigg (most famous for her portrayal of the iconic Emma Peel in The Avengers and currently gracing Game of Thrones) and her real-life daughter Rachael Stirling (Tipping the Velvet). Gatiss penned the mother and daughter characters of Winifred and Ada Gillyflower specifically for Rigg and Stirling after appearing with them in theatrical productions All about My Mother and The Recruiting Officer respectively. Mother and daughter seized their roles with gusto and delivered performances that rank amongst the best in this Series 7b of Doctor Who. When the plaudits for best guest actors are dished out in the Doctor Who Magazine poll at series end it’ll be a crime if the family Rigg don’t feature prominently. Diana Rigg merely had to stand there to outact Jenna-Louise Coleman, who doesn’t seem to act too differently between being in a trance and being normal – all wide-eyed and silly grin. The Crimson Horror wasn’t Stirling’s first encounter with the Time Lord as she starred opposite Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor in the 2012 Big Finish audio adventure Trail of the White Worm. Read the rest of this entry »
High concepts fuel a hazardous Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS as the Doctor’s beloved timeship faces destruction and plays host to some of the most dire secondary characters in the history of the series.
Throughout 50 years of Doctor Who the beloved fixed heart of the series has been the TARDIS. Whilst various companions come and go and the Doctor regenerates into different guises the beloved TT Type 40, Mark 3 TARDIS remains. With only slight cosmetic changes happening to that police box exterior the TARDIS is the one of most ingenious, incredible and iconic concepts in the history of science fiction – an infinite otherworld dimension concealed within the incongruous camouflage of an everyday object.
From 1963 to 1989 the various production teams occasionally attempted to show what lay beyond the familiar console room but were usually defeated by a lack of time and money. Over the years came the Cloister Room in Logopolis, the Zero Room in Castrovalva and the secondary console room and boot cupboard (courtesy of a blown-up photo!) in The Masque of Mandragora. Before Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS the greatest extent to which the TARDIS interior had been explored was in 1978’s The Invasion of Time and the 1996 TV Movie. In the not-so-classic Tom Baker tale a disused hospital near Redhill was used to represent the supposedly baffling and labyrinth-like interior of the TARDIS and much ridicule from fans followed. More successful were the elaborate steampunk-themed TARDIS interiors constructed upon a Vancouver soundstage for Paul McGann’s only television outing to date as the Eighth Doctor. Complete with console room, including accompanying library, and a grandiose Eye of Harmony, for the first time the TARDIS truly began to feel bigger on the inside that the outside.
But it just wasn’t possible for Doctor Who to adequately represent the supposedly infinite interior of the timeship until the advent of affordable CGI and far greater budgets from the BBC. With Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS the interior of the Doctor’s timeship has finally been seen on a scale that it always deserved thanks to striking sets, evocative locations and special effects. Though the supporting script was lacking in many areas. Read the rest of this entry »
Starting life as a crossover of two science fiction legends the intriguing haunted house premise of Hide is wasted as the story falls apart under a mountain of nonsensical science fiction, ponderous info dumps and poor acting from the regulars.
The admiration of various Doctor Who writers for Nigel Kneale’s creation of Professor Bernard Quatermass has been evident throughout the history of the series, especially in stories such as The Web of Fear, The Invasion, Spearhead From Space, Inferno, The Seeds of Doom, Image of the Fendahl. The entire concept of exiling the Doctor to Earth in the early Pertwee years and teaming him up with UNIT was a deliberate decision to evoke the feeling of Quatermass – a man of science and peace in an uneasy alliance with military forces and fighting unearthly menaces together.
Although invited to write for Doctor Who right at its conception in 1963 Nigel Kneale himself was never a fan of the series, commenting in 1986 that “It sounded a terrible idea and I still think it was”.
And since a dialogue exchange in Part Three of Ben Aaronovitch’s Remembrance of the Daleks it’s been generally acknowledged within the circles of Doctor Who fandom that the Doctor and Quatermass are part of the same fictional universe.
Allison Williams “I wish Bernard was here”
Professor Rachel Jensen “British Rocket Group got it’s own problems…”
The original intention behind Hide was to unite the science fiction legends that are the Doctor and Quatermass but the tantalising premise was scuppered by rights issues relating to Kneale’s creation. However Neil Cross turned to another of Nigel Kneale’s superbly crafted tales for inspiration, namely the classic 1972 BBC Christmas ghost story The Stone Tape and its premise of terrifying events occurring during a scientific investigation of a supposedly haunted house. Read the rest of this entry »
After an absence of nearly 40 years the Ice Warriors make a triumphant return to Doctor Who as Cold War pays homage to the base-under-siege stories so prevalent in the Patrick Troughton era.
It’s an Ice Warrior. A native of the planet Mars. And we go way back…WAY back.
In the pantheon of Doctor Who monsters the Ice Warriors rank alongside the Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans and Weeping Angels in terms of popularity. Yet, inexplicably the reptilian Martians had been absent from televised Doctor Who since 1974’s The Monster of Peladon, the penultimate outing for Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor. With their lumbering gait and supposedly barely audible utterances of dialogue current showrunner Steven Moffat viewed the Ice Warriors as the epitome of the archetypal naff Doctor Who monster and was reluctant to resurrect them for a 21st century audience. In fact for naff Doctor Who monsters examine the likes of the Mandrals from Nightmare of Eden, the Tetraps from Time and the Rani and the Slitheen from Aliens of London/World War Three. Inept lumbering creations and cautionary tales in not how to design monsters.
Thankfully Moffat’s friend and fellow Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss felt differently and across several years fought tooth and claw for the return of the Ice Warriors. With Cold War Gatiss not only succeeded in bringing the Ice Warriors back in style but has also restored them to glory in the same way that 2005’s Dalek made the creations of Terry Nation a cultural icon once more. Read the rest of this entry »
The creator of the psychological crime drama Luther joins the Doctor Who writing team with a script that takes the Doctor and Clara to The Rings of Akhaten to watch a caged god become very annoyed at a young girl’s attempt at singing.
Since Doctor Who returned for the 21st century all of the Doctor’s regular female companions have met the Time Lord in stories set in contemporary England and then been whisked off in quick order to adventures in Earth’s future and past. Within such a trilogy the diversity, wonder and danger of space and time that the TARDIS can offer are quickly demonstrated. With its space setting and cornucopia of alien species The Rings of Akathen is reminiscent of one of the strongest voyages into the future that the TARDIS has made, when the Ninth Doctor and Rose travelled to Platform One to witness The End of the World for the planet Earth. Read the rest of this entry »
The Bells of Saint John summon the Doctor to begin his 50th anniversary year of adventures as there are monsters in the Wi-Fi, villains in the Shard and the mystery of Clara Oswald to solve.
The Doctor’s return in The Bells of Saint John on Easter Saturday 2013 marked the 8th anniversary of the debut of the revived series with Rose on Easter Saturday 2005. It’s sobering to contemplate that as much of a gap exists between Rose and The Bells of Saint John as does between An Unearthly Child and Day of the Daleks, or Robot and Arc of Infinity. The series has come on in leaps and bounds since the painful rebirth pangs of that first production block for the Ninth Doctor comprising Rose/Aliens of London/World War Three when filming was in chaos as the complexities of producing a series like Doctor Who became evident. It was in those early days that the seeds of discontent that would lead to Christopher Eccleston’s departure after just one series would be sown. Yet from that crucible of chaos emerged a series that continues to be more and more confident in itself with each passing day of production. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: 25 March 2013 in audio, entertainment
Tags: benedict cumberbatch, bernard cribbens, christopher lee, david harewood, james mcavoy, london above, london below, natalie dormer, neil gaiman, neverwhere
When the time comes for the awarding of the next round of BBC Audio Drama Awards simply bestow everything upon the superbly atmospheric adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Across the course of a week Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra listeners were treated to a movie-of-the-mind rendering of Gaiman’s acclaimed dark fantasy about the people who fall through the cracks in society and end up in London Below, a mysterious subterranean realm that coexists with the more familiar London, known as London Above…
Read the rest of my review of the audio interpretation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere over at HI! Magazine
The (00)7th highest-grossing film of all time, the highest-grossing film in the UK and the highest-grossing James Bond film. Skyfall is a $1.1 billion phenomenon for the Golden Anniversary.
007 reporting for duty.
Mindful of the critical drubbing heaped upon Quantum of Solace and the delays forced upon them by the financial woes of MGM, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson pulled out all the stops to celebrate Bond’s 50th anniversary with the innovative, intriguing and inventive Skyfall. Set in a universe of public inquiries, extraordinary renditions and a MI6 accountable to the government, Skyfall frequently doesn’t feel like a James Bond film at all. The days of grandiose sets, pussy-stroking villains and invisible Aston Martins are over.
Skyfall is the closest that the Bond series has ever come to a five-act Shakespeare tragedy as Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes helms an arc of Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and Dénouement featuring psychologically damaged characters James Bond, M and Raoul Silva. Read the rest of this entry »