Wednesday, 30 December 2015

'Radio Times' TV Review of 2015

That venerable publishing colossus,
Christmas perennial, and loyal Doctor 
Who supporter, the Radio Times, has
revealed the results of their annual,
multi-channel survey. Their top forty
shows of the year (headed by BBC2's
historical drama Wolf Hall) have again
been selected by the magazine's critics,
and Peter Capaldi's second season has
been placed at a very respectable number seven (up from nine last year). Rwriter Patrick Mulkern comments:


"This autumn, the TARDIS landed in
its latest ever timeslot, which seemed 
suited to a darker tone of storytelling 
but was quickly denounced as the
reason for a ratings plunge of around
one million. No decline in quality was visible [though, in fact] there was an
upswing, with provocative themes, bold experiments, intelligent writing and
performances. Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi remoulded the Doctor
into a "raddled old rocker" more lovable than last year and painfully aware
that his glory days with Clara were ending. Jenna Coleman shone but her
job was done, while Capaldi proved [with] his solo jaunt, Heaven Sent (an
instant classic) [that] he's a one-man constellation".

Monday, 28 December 2015

Doctor Who Vs. Coronation Street, Part 1: 1960/61

"There was life before Coronation Street but it didn't add up to much."
- Russell Harty

"Manchester produces what to me is the Pickwick Papers. That is to 
say, Coronation Street, I live for it. Thank God. Half past seven tonight 
and I shall be in paradise" - Sir John Betjeman

Shown again on ITV3 last night, the BBC Four drama, The Road to Coronation Street documented the creation of ITV's long-running soap opera, from inception (as Florizel Street in 1959) to first transmission a year later.
Set mainly at Granada Studios in Manchester, the biopic told the true story
of Tony Warren (born Anthony Simpson in 1936, and played here by David Dawson), a struggling actor and scriptwriter who envisaged a programme that depicted normal, working-class life in a Salford terraced street.
After an initial commission to write thirteen pilot episodes, Warren contributed 
to the soap - affectionately known as Corrie - until 1978, and even made a
cameo appearance in the show's fiftieth anniversary live edition in 2010.
Based in the fictional Northern town of Weatherfield, Corrie debuted with a live episode on Friday December 9th 1960, and within three months was Britain's most watched TV programme and a national institution.
The show's first year on air included scripts from future Doctor Who writer
Barbara Clegg, guest starred former actor Barry Letts (in two episodes 
as Wentworth), and featured twenty-four other cast connections:
  • Alan Rothwell (David Barlow, 1960-1968) voiced Janto for Big Finish's The Twilight Kingdom (2004)
  • Daphne Oxenford (Esther Hayes, 1960-1972) was the Archivist in Dragonfire
  • Cyril Luckham (Dr. Tinsley) was the White Guardian from The Ribos Operation to Enlightenment
  • Frank Crawshaw (Arnold Tanner, 1961) was Arnold Farrow in Planet of Giants
  • Campbell Singer (Mason) and Reg Lever (Davies) both appeared in The Celestial Toymaker - Singer was Joey the Clown, the King of Hearts and Sergeant Rugg, and Lever was the Joker in The Hall of Dolls   
  • Graham Rigby (Thief here; Whitehead, 1963; Lambert, 1965/66; Wardle, 1995) was Larry Madison in The Dalek Invasion of Earth
  • Bryan Mosley (Alf Roberts, 1961-1999) had two parts in The Daleks' Master Plan - he was a Prop Man in The Feast of Steven, and Malpha in The Abandoned Planet
  • Fulton Mackay (Dr. Graham) was Dr. Quinn in The Silurians
  • Angela Douglas (Eunice) was Doris Lethbridge-Stewart in Battlefield
  • John Collin (Snape here; Pickens, 1969; and Stringer, 1979) was Brock in The Leisure Hive
  • Robin Wentworth (Dewhurst here; and Greaves, 1969) was Professor Horner in the first episode of The Daemons
  • Donald Morley (Fletcher here; and Bolton, 1974) and Keith Anderson (Constable) both appeared in The Reign of Terror - as Jules Renan and Robespierre respectively
  • Kenneth Cope (Jed Stone, 1961-63, 1966, 2008-09) was Packard in Warriors' Gate
  • Phillip Anthony (Pilkington) was Roald in The Daleks' Master Plan: The Nightmare Begins
  • Keith Marsh (Foreman here; Chippendale, 1966; Marsden, 1980; and Uncle Mervyn, 1999) was Conway in Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD
  • Neville Barber (Marsden) was Dr. Cook in The Time Monsters
  • Steve Plytas (Leo) was Wigner in The Tenth Planet
  • Anne Reid (Valerie Tatlock/Barlow, 1961-1971) was Nurse Crane in The Curse of Fenric, and Florence the Plasmavore in Smith and Jones
  • Jack Woolgar (Stallholder here; and Noblett, 1970) was Staff Sergeant Arnold in The Web of Fear
  • Harold Goldblatt (Riley) was Professor Dale in (episodes 3 and 4 of) Frontier in Space
  • Bernard Kay (Foster) was Carl Tyler in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Saladin in The Crusade, Inspector Crossland in The Faceless Ones, and Caldwell in Colony in Space, and later voiced Major Dickens for Night Thoughts (BF, 2006)
  • Stratford Johns (Powell) was Monarch in Four to Doomsday
First shown in September 2010, The Road to Coronation Street also featured 
another six Doctor Who cast and crew connections:
  • Lynda Baron (Violet Carson) recorded The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon (sung off screen) for The Gunfighters way back in 1966, then was Captain Wrack in Enlightenment, then Val in Closing Time 
  • Steven Berkoff (Sidney Bernstein) provided the voice of the Shakri in The Power of Three
  • Celia Imrie (Doris Speed) was Miss Kizlet in The Bells of Saint John, and voiced Dr. Elizabeth Bradley for Counter Measures (BF, 2013), then Madame Tissot for Gallery of Ghouls (BF, new for 2016)
  • Tim Palmer was also the cinematographer on Let's Kill HitlerThe Wedding of River Song and Nightmare in Silver
  • Thomas Alibone was assistant director on An Adventure in Space and Time too
  • Adam Green also edited The Girl Who Died, The Woman Who Lived and The Husbands of River Song

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Doctor Who Vs. The Gorgon

This feature marked a departure from the typically gothic fare of the Hammer stable by turning to Greek mythology for inspiration - here the legendary Gorgon sisters terrorise the villagers of Vandorf in turn-of-the-century Germany.
Released in cinemas in a double bill with The Curse 
of the Mummy's Tomb in 1964, the cast was headed 
by Hammer stalwarts Christopher Lee (as Professor Meister) and Peter Cushing (as Dr. Namaroff).
Shown again on the Horror channel today, The Gorgon featured Patrick Troughton (pictured as Inspector
Kanof, his second of five Hammer roles*) and six
other Doctor Who cast and crew connections:

  • Barbara Shelley (Carla) played Sorastra in Planet of Fire
  • Michael Peake (Constable) was Tavius in The Romans
  • Jim O'Brady (Angry Man) was an Escapee in Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD
  • Ron Hyde was sound editor on Dr. Who and the Daleks too
  • music supervisor Marcus Dods was the conductor on The Aztecs
  • stunt co-ordinator Peter Diamond was a regular stunt double and fight arranger on the classic series, from The Daleks to The Daemons
The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (also screened on Horror this week)
starred seven other Doctor Who links:
  • George Pastell, Pat Gorman, Jimmy Gardner, Michael McStay, Roy Stewart, Eddie Powell and Peter Diamond
*Troughton also appeared in The Phantom of the Opera (1962), The Viking 
Queen (1967), Scars of Dracula (1970), and Frankenstein and the Monster 
from Hell (1974)

Doctor Who Vs. S.O.S. Titanic

This Anglo-American TV movie was first shown over 
two nights on ABC television in 1979, then opened
in European cinemas in 1980.
The film depicts the doomed maiden voyage of 1912
from the perspectives of passengers in First, Second
and Third Classes, and is the first Titanic film released
in colour.
Exterior deck scenes on the famed liner were filmed
on board RMS Queen Mary, whilst TSS Manxman 
doubled for the rescue ship Carpathia. Some interior onboard scenes were recorded in the Waldorf and 
Adelphi hotels in London and Liverpool, and Peel in 
the Isle of Man served as the backdrop for 
The cast of S.O.S. Titanic (screened on the True Entertainment channel last night) was headed by
Ian Holm (as Bruce Ismay), David Janssen (John
Jacob Astor), and Harry Andrews (Captian Smith), and featured thirteen 
Doctor Who cast and crew connections:
  • veteran Northern screen actor and prolific Big Finish artist David Warner (pictured as Second Class survivor Laurence Beesley here; then Lovejoy in 1997's Titanic) portrayed an Unbound Doctor for both Sympathy for the Devil (2003) and Masters of War (2008), then voiced Sir Isaac Newton for Circular Time: Summer (2007), Co-ordinator Angell for Empathy Games (2008), Professor Boston Schooner for Deimos and The Resurrection of Mars (both 2010), Autarch Siris for The Children of Seth (2011), Biggs for The Rosemariners (2012), the Narrator of The Black Hole (2015), and Cuthbert for the Fourth Doctor adventures The Sands of LifeWar Against the LaanThe Dalek ContractThe Final Phase (all 2013), Casualties of War and The Pursuit of History (both 2016) - he also voiced Lord Azlok for Dreamland (2009) and finally had a television role as Professor Grisenko in Cold War
  • Ed Bishop (Harris) voiced General Finch for Unbound: Full Fathom Five (BF, 2003)
  • Tony Caunter (Officer Wilde) was Morgan in Colony in Space, and Jackson in Enlightenment 
  • Robert Pugh (Farrell) was Tony Mack in The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood 
  • Maurice Roeves (Stoker Barret) was Stotz in The Caves of Androzani
  • Peter Bourke (Harold Bride) was Mr. Chambers in Human Nature
  • Alec Sabin (Frederick Fleet) was Ringway in Earthshock
  • Malcolm Stoddard (Officer Lightoller) voiced Urtak for The Zygon Who Fell to Earth (BF, 2008)
  • Phil Davis (Lookout) was Lucius Petrus Dextrus in The Fires of Pompeii, and voiced Titus for The Cannibalists (BF, 2009)
  • AndrĂ© Maranne (Navratil) was Roger Benoit in The Moonbase
  • Big Finish artist Nick Brimble (Abelseth) voiced Shreeni for Exotron (2007), Dudley Jackson for The Eternal Summer (2009), Kith for Max Warp (2008), and Olaf Eriksson for The Book of Kells (2010)
  • Barbara Lane was also the costume designer on The Claws of AxosThe DaemonsThe Curse of PeladonThe Time MonsterThe Android InvasionThe Seeds of Doom and The Hand of Fear
  • gaffer Maurice Gillett was the supervising electrician on both of Amicus' Dalek films