Big Finish: The Torchwood Archive

It’s hard to believe that it’s already 10 years since Torchwood first hit TV, perhaps due in no small part to John Barrowman’s lack of aging. Like its parent show, it has worked in several guises across different media in that time, most recently having two six-episode seasons on Big Finish. And therein lies the challenge of celebrating it – with such a diversity of format (and not a particularly high character survival rate!) how do you reflect it all?


Cue Big Finish stepping forward, of course, and the bumper 2-hour The Torchwood Archive… but is this an archive worth digging in to?


The War Doctor vol 3: Agents of Chaos

For a man with no name, the War Doctor don’t half get around a bit. Yes, John Hurt’s grumpy soldier is back, joined once again by Jaqueline Pearce’s Servalanalike Cardinal Ollistra in a new Big Finish boxset: War Doctor Vol 3: Agents of Chaos.


This three-volume set continues the story of the Time War, and opens with David Llewlyn’s rather wonderful The Shadow Vortex: Ollistra sends the Doctor to cold-war Berlin to track agent of Skaro Lara Zannis, who is hell-bent on using the nascent post-war atomic science to usher in a new world order shaped like a million Daleks. Second is Andrew Smith’s The Eternity Cage, in which the Sontarans bluff and blackmail Time Lord and Dalek alike in an effort to grab a little Time War glory for themselves. And the set closes with Ken Bentley’s Eye of Harmony which has the Dalek Time Strategist basing his next campaign on a rewatch of Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS essentially.

For a one-off gag, or at least a one-story device, as Steven Moffat originally intended the War Doctor to be for the fiftieth anniversary show, this incarnation of everyone’s favourite Time Lord has a surprising amount of depth and character. In part, of course, that is thanks to the fact that he is played by a superlative actor who lives and breathes characterisation; but it is also due to the care with which Big Finish amongst others have taken the skeleton provided by Moffat and added flesh to the bones. Despite being a soldier embroiled in war, the nameless one as interpreted by BF spends most of his time eschewing violence and yearning for a time when everyone gets on with one another regardless of race, creed or the ability to get up stairs without an ominously humming base unit. But this is no criticism: Hurt’s Doctor has every right to the name he refuses, since, just like all the others, he is a flawed guardian of morality and justice.

And the overriding narrative is strengthened further through a range of other characters of depth: Pearce’s wonderfully Machiavellian Ollistra, of course; Dalek agent Lara Zannis is played adeptly by Who royalty in the shape of Neve Macintosh; Honeysuckle Weeks’s Heleyna similarly plays a character whose true trajectory is well hidden until the appropriate moment; and Timothy Speyer’s Kruger, the Stasi officer who first captures and then aids War (as the kids have it) is a joy, with a journey that goes from traditional East-European intelligence officer stereotype through proper companion material to at last a sympathetic hero with a back story that actually justifies the choices he’s made.

It all sounds, as ever, great – the sound design, as professional as ever from Big Finish, creates totally believable environments; and a cast of fewer than fifteen delivers what feels like all of Berlin and most of the rest of the universe to boot. The writing is tight, taught and efficient, making for satisfying and unputdownable (now a word) listening. Overall, this is a joy and well worth adding to any BF collection.

There are those who thought the retro-fitting of the War Doctor into Who canon was a mistake that should never have been attempted. I was one of them. Well, I was wrong in 2013 when Steven Moffat did it, and I’m even more wrong now.

Key UK TV Airdates

As the US Fall TV schedule starts to kick in, it’s time to see when those of us in the UK will get to see it. There’s a lot coming up, with some of the highlights below (and don’t forget The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime 18th November):

Once Upon a Time S6 Netflix 28/9
Black Mirror S3 Netflix 21/10
Class S1 BBC 3 22/10
Walking Dead S7 Fox UK 24/10
Supergirl S2 Sky 1 24/10
Flash S3 Sky 1 25/10
Arrow S5 Sky 1 26/10
Legends of Tomorrow S2 Sky 1 3/11
Gotham S3 C5 Q1
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D S4 E4 Q1

Red Dwarf XI – Give and Take

Another episode of Red Dwarf and another abandoned space station for the boys to explorer.  While this has been a limit of the shows format at least this time it’s atmospherically realized and the big bad on the station, Professor Asciepius, is also a bit more gritty than the show normally conjurers up.  The counter to this is the rather retro robot they find on the station which is so over the top it jars slightly.

Give and Take (more…)

Red Dwarf XI – Episode 2: Samsara

At face value this sounds like a standard style Red Dwarf tale: an escape pod and message leads to a crashed ship, the eponymous Samsara, in which the crew get split up and find themselves in mortal danger.  So far, so jolly fine.

Red Dwarf XI

Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead!


Big Finish – The Sacrifice of Sherlock Holmes

The latest installment in Big Finish’s Sherlock series finds an older Holmes facing revitalised foes from his past, enemies that have come back stronger, and who are focusing on his destruction. It’s not a promising start for the world’s greatest detective, although being reunited with Dr Watson provides perhaps a single strand of hope in the battle. But both men are old and adrift, Holmes now deprived of the help of his brother Mycroft whom he suspects has been murdered by the Society, and Watson alone due to marital difficulties.The sacrifice of Sherlock Holmes


PlayStation VR on Tour in the UK



Ahead of the launch of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s (SIE) PlayStation VR head mounted display (HMD) UK gamers are being given the chance to try the headset for themselves.  Starting with EGX in Birmingham, SIE’s “Future of Play” tour will visit six locations around the UK between now and 30th October. (more…)

Class Drops On BBC Three This October!

Coal Hill acts like a beacon across all of space and time to any being who might want to use it for mischief….you’ll have to be on your guard.


The wait is over! Today BBC Three confirm the new YA drama, Class, written by Patrick Ness, will drop its first two episodes on BBC Three on Saturday 22 October.

Peter Capaldi will join the cast of exciting new talent in the opening episode of the series, For Tonight We Might Die. Coal Hill School holds some very dark and deadly secrets in its shadows….but who will survive?  (more…)

Doctor Who Magazine Celebrates 50 Years of the Cybermen

Doctor Who Magazine 504 cover a

50 years ago, the Cybermen first marched onto our screens. We ask the costume designer who gave them life about their enduring appeal

“People often come up to me and say, ‘I think your Cybermen were the most frightening,’ says costume designer Alexandra Tynan, who gave the original Cybermen their distinctive look for 1966’s The Tenth Planet. “I looked at them yesterday, when I re-watched The Tenth Planet, and I thought, ‘I suppose they are a bit scary.’ At the time, they got a lot of press, some of it very negative. Angry parents said that we were scaring the bejesus out of their kids. Am I personally responsible, with my Cybermen, for a whole generation of disturbed people? The number of adults who have come up to me and said, ‘Your Cybermen terrified me when I was a child,’ and I have apologised a thousand times (more…)

Fear is coming, tragedy is coming, war is coming. Oh and also a Class cast live stream!

The cast of Class will appear in a global Class Live Stream on Friday 23 September, available on the Class official Facebook page and starts at 4:30pm BST.


Radio 1Xtra DJ A.Dot will host the Class Live Stream and will be joined by exciting young new talents Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah, as well as Class producer Derek Ritchie. The Live Stream will also be available on the BBC Three YouTube channel.

To get involved you can post your questions for the cast and Derek on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat by responding to the official Class social media channels or use the hashtag #AskClass. 

Her are the official Class social media channels:

Coal Hill School has been a part of the Doctor Who Universe since the very beginning, but that has come at a price. All the time traveling over the years has caused the very walls of space and time to become thin. There’s something pressing in on the other side, something waiting for its chance to kill everyone and everything, to bring us all into Shadow.

Fear is coming, tragedy is coming, war is coming. Prepare yourselves, Class is coming.

As Class is a young adult show and will not be suitable for younger viewers. (But fear not as the Christmas special is less than 100 days away and series 10 is coming next Easter).

Class will premiere on BBC Three this Autumn and Outpost Skaro have lined up a special YA to review it here and on our youtube channel (stay tuned!).


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