Class – A new Doctor Who spin off coming soon to BBC3

BBC Three today announces Class – a new 8 x 45 minute Doctor Who Spin off from the acclaimed YA author Patrick Ness. Class is a YA series set in contemporary London. Incredible dangers are breaking through the walls of time and space, and with darkness coming, London is unprotected. With all the action, heart and adrenalin of the best YA fiction (Buffy, Hunger Games), this is Coal Hill School and Doctor Who like you’ve never seen it before.

Coalhill School, here be aliens!

Steven Moffat says: “No one has documented the dark and exhilarating world of the teenager like Patrick Ness, and now we’re bringing his brilliant story-telling into Doctor Who. This is growing up in modern Britain – but with monsters!


Doctor Who Series 9 Review: Under the Lake, by Eddie McGuigan



Review by Eddie McGuigan

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The Doctor is fascinated by something..

In the olden days, when the Universe was half its present size, Doctor Who used to start like this:

It was autumn, getting dark, maybe a little windy and cold outside. Curtains were drawn, tea had, everyone on the couch. The haunting melody would drag that old blue box down a swirling tunnel and open up to some plucky guest stars with some pretty distinct characteristics in a claustrophobic base set slightly in the future. There’d be a leader, brusque but true, a scientist, a creepy and slightly untrustworthy specialist, and a few immediately likeable characters who you could envisage as companions to the Doctor. Just as we’re getting to know them, something will happen – a likeable character will be killed, a monster will appear…

…and elsewhere in the base, tucked away in a cupboard or utility area there’ll be a strange, wheezing, groaning sound and an old blue Police Box will materialise out of thin air. It’ll sit for a second, as if gathering its thoughts, then an eccentric man will spring from the creaking door, sniffing the air, followed by a pretty, plucky companion, eyes wide with excitement at the start of a new adventure. Before long, the man – known only as the Doctor – will be embroiled in the situation, with his companion a loyal sidekick, and he’ll take control of the group meeting various levels of resistance, from suspicion, aggression to immediate new friendships.

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The Doctor takes control

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…but what’s he up to?

This is how Doctor Who used to start. It didn’t start with grumpy some-time companions working elsewhere, or with a domestic drama. It didn’t start with a convoluted backstory or a timey wimey arc. It started, it ran. And it ran.

Luckily, writer Toby Whithouse remembers those autumn nights, and how important those first few minutes were, and, to my absolute pleasure, he has recreated that perfectly here with Under The Lake. It is without a doubt the most traditional Doctor Who episode in quite some time, echoing tropes and conceits last seen in Mummy on the Orient Express, with much the same result. You get, in 42 minutes, true, undiluted, distilled and pure Doctor Who.

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Haunted corridors

Whithouse also knows Doctor Who should be scary. Weeping Angels scary. The Flood scary. Osirian Mummy scary. Weng-Chiang scary. So he makes the “Ghosts” scary too – he even manages to make the Tivoli scary, with the help of guest star Paul Kaye.

The Base Under Siege trope in Who has been around since Davis and Lloyd went “aaahhhh” in the 1960s, and it never fails. Under the Lake has echoes of The Ark In Space and Revenge of the Cybermen. It has shadows of The Seeds of Death and Waters of Mars. It also apes other sci-horror stalwarts like Buffy The Vampire Slayer – the Ghosts are very reminiscent of Hush’s “The Gentlemen” with their slip/slidey approach, terrifying look and incessant whispering.

Director Daniel O’Hara knows the score too. An impressive set is moodily lit and cleverly shot. There’s only so many ways to shoot the same corridor, but this director has nice camera angles and long shots coupled with some claustrophobic close ups and the filters give an underwater, cramped feel to the base. Before long we all know the geography of the place, and fear what’s behind each corner.

Guest star wise Morven Christie is the stand out, and her character O’Donnell would make a fabulous companion. A former UNIT operative, she knows the Doctor very well, and he takes to her pretty quickly, it seems. The rest of the cast, especially Paul Kaye who has little to do than look menacing, are comfortable and very adequate in their roles, and the ensemble – a much larger troupe than in the previous two episodes – is very believable as the weary gang stuck under the water.

This episode, though belongs to Peter Capaldi who bounces off of Jenna Coleman’s much more likeable Clara like a Tom off a Lis. This is without a doubt the most comfortable Peter has been in the role. A couple of years ago, I spoke to Tom Baker about the role of the Doctor, and he told me this: “You don’t act the Doctor, really… that’s doomed to failure. You’re with him too long to try and pretend. You have to let him inhabit you, and before long he’s more you than you know. I was the Doctor before I was given the scarf, and I will always be him”. In Series 8 it seemed perhaps Peter was “acting” the Doctor, but, like all the actors, his second season is a lot more relaxed. His scenes here are testament to this, as he takes command of the room, eyes up potential allies and enemies and insults and charms in equal measures. He is, more than ever, the Doctor. His “card” routine with Clara is fantastic.

I can’t fault this episode. It’s a step up from the previous two, which were fab, and a return to proper, old school, scary Doctor Who, something it’s 8.25 start time reflects. It really is time to hide behind the sofa again with a proper, genuine and unique Doctor.

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Run you clever boy…


Missy 5.5″ Figure Announced by CO, by Eddie McGuigan

Character Options has today unveiled details of a brand new Limited Edition Doctor Who 5.5” scale action figure. Images of the Missy figure, first in a new range of scale Doctor Who Collector Series toys were revealed by Alasdair Dewar, Product

Development Director, today via video on the Character Options’ website.

Missy, played by Michelle Gomez, is a villainous Time Lady who recently revealed herself as the Doctor’s arch enemy, the Master! Missy has been firmly established as a new fan favourite character, and as a collector’s figure, she is truly a must have.

The Missy Figure will be available in two variants; a purple outfitted version with hat from the series finale episodes; and alternatively in her ‘Heaven’ outfit, hatless with black jacket and manic grin. The Missy figures each have 18 points of articulation and are highly detailed and decorated. Each figure head can also be swapped so that both heads can be incorporated with either outfit, and they both come with accessories. The bespoke UK Collector Series packs are perfect for display and for the first time are re-sealable, so that the figures can be enjoyed in or out of packaging without losing their collectability.

Only 4,000 units of each of the two figures are available in exclusive UK packaging at for a price of £19.99 each (excluding P&P). Delivery will be made to customers by early November.

Al Dewar states: “Character Options has been designing, manufacturing and marketing Doctor Who toys since 2005, so as true fans of the brand we wanted to tell collectors the latest news in the most direct, if informal way, which is why I made the announcement in person on the website. Missy is the first of a potential new line of highly sought after 5.5-inch action figures so we expect interest to be high and we are all very excited to share this with fans and collectors alike.

“Working with Michelle Gomez was great fun and she was the best subject we ever 3D scanned, patiently holding her facial expressions including her trademark Missy “sneer” for long periods of time. We know that many collectors have been eagerly waiting to see if Missy would at some point be included within our figure range, and at last, here she is.”

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The Witch’s Familiar. Review by Eddie McGuigan


The Witch’s Familiar

Review by Eddie McGuigan

Davros! I can say “Davros”! Look “Davros”!

You’ve no idea how hard it’s been for me not to mention something that happens right at the start of The Magician’s Apprentice, and now I have the same trouble with episode two!

Let’s get it out the way at the start – The Witch’s Familiar is superb – it is, as promised by Steven Moffat, a perfect companion piece to Episode One, but the tone and pace of the episode is very different from its earlier brother. In this episode we get some very Big Finishesque exchanges by an old and dying Davros and a guilt ridden Doctor. Guilt, and of course, grief ridden Doctor, as he comes to terms again with the fact that the Daleks have exterminated his two best friends and destroyed his ship.

There is much to recommend about this episode and much to talk about, but, unfortunately, lots are just big old spoilers, and far be it from me to ruin it for the millions who haven’t seen it.

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Capaldi and Bleach crackle against each other in this episode, two thesps at the top of their game given no quarter and asking for none either, and both breath new light into the old dynamic, and more Doctor cameos thrill the fanboy. Davros’s plan is a masterpiece, something different again, and it takes all the Doctor’s guile to come up with a way out. But don’t think this Doctor is completely the victim. Capaldi shows more depth than ever before as the Doctor, and chews the scenery up around the very still Bleach. A Doctor confronting the Daleks is always something to relish, and THIS Doctor does this with a brand new, never before seen approach.

This episode will step on some pedants’ toes, it’s fair to say. Things are done in this episode which will be fan favourites and also enrage some. My pal Paul Simpson over at Sci Fi Bulletin pointed out to me that there is indeed a lovely channelling of Curse of the Fatal Death too and the denoument of the episode is not what you’d think, it’s almost Sherlock in its cleverness. Like the use of the Daleks of many types – behold a Special Weapons Dalek crying EXTERMINATE! – Hettie MacDonald uses fantastic sets, colouring and camera angles to portray both old school and new styles. It’s a lovely mishmash.

As well as the sparkling dialogue, and the clever ending, and, indeed, some comical moments (but not as many as last week), there are some truly horrible – and I mean horrible – fates in this and it has some awfully dark conceits, but it’s fair to say that all the characters are played out exactly as you would expect them to be, despite actions it would seem to the contrary. Again, this season is about identity, and nowhere is this more evident in how the main characters act in this episode.

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For me, both these stories have been the strongest start since The Eleventh Hour. That’ll either excite you or scare you. This is very much a new way of approaching Doctor Who but in many ways it’s the no holds barred devil-may-care approach we’ve all wanted. In being so however, it doesn’t particularly bother with what people will think, assuming people will think it’s great. And it is.


Funko Pop Toys: Doctor Who, by Eddie McGuigan


Doctor Who Funko Pop Toys

reviewed by Eddie McGuigan

There is one word that springs to mind when looking at the Doctor Who Pop toy range from Funko – supplied by Underground Toys – and that is “cute”! They are just totally adorable.

Of course some Doctors lend themselves to adorability more than others. The Matt Smith 11th Doctor figure is true to his early incarnation and is complete without eyebrows, a little nod and in joke to both Who fans and Matt himself who makes an issue of his lack of eye framing!

David Tennant’s 10th Doctor is resplendent in his long brown jacket – his “hero” jacket he likes to call it – and again lends itself to the “cute” description as David is, in many fangirls eyes, totally that!

The Peter Capaldi 12th Doctor version is equally as cute, with his huge brown eyes and little nose, but is very much still the Doctor we all know, with his attack eyebrows proudly in place and his outfit faithfully recreated, along with the obligatory sonic screwdriver and swoop of the jacket, showing his famous red lining.

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There was a time when the Pop version of Doctor Who characters would not have been welcome by collectors of Who merchandise because of their fabulous cuteness. Old, curmudgeonly Whovians would have poo-pooed their huge eyes, cartoon heads and adorability, but, luckily, things have changed. Everyone I showed these figures to say “Awwww, my goodness! How cute!” and immediately tried to beg one from me. As a range, they are very collectable, and, seeing as how the Doctor Who range is just one of many, I can see people wanting to collect the cute Avengers, cute Walking Dead zombies (really, they’re so huggable!) and cute Star Trek crews.

Durability is another plus feature of these toys, and because of this they could be knocked about by rowdy kids as well as sat neatly on a collector’s shelf. Kids can have multi-Doctor stories with 12 meeting 4, or extra-franchise crossovers – Hulk vs The Weeping Angels anyone?

I’d recommend these figures to any Doctor Who fan – at first glance of course they’re not the very serious 5” collectors range, but they have a collectability of their own, and I have a feeling my own small sample will grow and grow… I NEED a Rick Grimes now, I really do!!!


Doctor Who: The Complete History #1 by Eddie McGuigan


Doctor Who: The Complete History

review by Eddie McGuigan

A new partwork is on the market for the Doctor Who fans who really need to know the nitty gritty of the series. Unlike some new merchandise, this series of publications revels in the history of the whole series, and looks at the minutae of how the programme itself was made.

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When I was young there was a hallowed book called The Making of Doctor Who by Terrance Dicks. It was the Bible for Who fans, and Doctor Who: The Complete History is this and then some. Drawing inspiration from Doctor Who Magazine’s many detailed examinations of individual adventures this series goes into each story indepth. Not so much an Encyclopedia Britannica as an Encyclopedia Whotannica. It’s a catch all, go to, all encompassing know-all guide to the series from An Unearthly Child to Series 9 and beyond.

Eventually this will be in chronological order and sit on a shelf in your house with a nice jigsawed spine detail, but volume one – at a bargain price of £1.99 – concentrates, probably tactically, on one of the more popular modern day Doctors – David Tennant – and features his arch enemies, again, no doubt tactically, the Daleks.

In this issue we get five adventures – Gridlock, The Daleks Take Manhatten, Evolution of the Daleks, The Lazarus Experiment and 42. It might be argued that quality wise these stories are not the more popular, but that doesn’t stop contributor and editor John Ainsworth giving them the deference each story is going to get in this range.

For each tale we get an Introduction, the story, preproduction notes, the production, post production, publicity, broadcast, merchandise, cast and credits and a profile. Along with this we have sumptuous pictures and photos and some very, very impressive artwork, along with the occasional piece of conceptual art, and little vignettes, for instance box outs about “connections to Bad Wolf” and other pieces of trivia information.

From a boy who was brought up on The Making of Doctor Who and who devoured any reference material he possibly could on the series, this is an incredible piece of work – both in individual volumes and what no doubt will be an incredible complete series. Of course, there is always a chance future stories will change the canon of previous ones, but this series cleverly allows for that, and embraces the whole series – even the front cover design utilises Jon Pertwee’s logo and the old Target design along with the hexagonal livery known for the new series.

One thing that is being fed back to me by fans is the price – most issues are going to cost £9.99 a shot, meaning this is a pretty expensive piece of merchandise, but I’d urge that to have everything in one place like this, at easy reach, is something that I for one would not be without and the cost in itself is relative to the work that’s put in each volume. It’s a monumental job completed with love, care and affection. These sturdy issues are very much value for money.

Issue one is available now at a cut price of £1.99 and is very much worth looking at!


Doctor Who Magazine #491


Doctor Who Magazine #491 Full Cover

Doctor Who Magazine exclusively previews the first four episodes of the new series: The Magician’s Apprentice & The Witch’s Familiar and Under the Lake & Before the Flood

Under the Lake and Before the Flood form Toby Whithouse’s first two-part Doctor Who story – and it hinges on time travel – and fairly mind-bending time travel at that. While plotting and writing, did Toby ever come to regret taking the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey route?

“Oh never, I loved it! I’ve always wanted to do a timey-wimey episode,” he says. “In fact, it was going to be a lot more timey-wimey, but we lost some of that before we started filming. It’s enormous fun to deposit something in a script, then have the reason for it happen later.”

This is also the first story that Toby’s written to star Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.

“I think he’s the most ‘alien’ Doctor we’ve had since the show came back,” says Toby. “Even though the essentials of the character remain the same – his heroism, his brilliance, his enthusiasm – he feels to me like much more of an outsider than Chris Eccleston or David Tennant or Matt Smith were. He’s more strange and otherwordly. That’s really interesting to play with.”


The Third Doctor Adventures – volume 1

At last, the Third Doctor is getting a Big Finish series all his own. Not a Companion Chronicle – although those are very, very good of course – but a full-fledged, all-cast action drama audio just like Doctors Five to Seven (and more recently Eight and Four) have had for years.



The Third Doctor Adventures Volume 1 is a two-story boxset, with the usual behind-the-scenes volume bringing up the rear. Katy Manning as Jo Grant and Richard Franklin as Capt Mike Yates are companions across both stories to the Third Doctor, ably played by Tim Treloar in the sad absence of Jon Pertwee.

First story is Justin Richards’s Prisoners of the Lake: a sunken village at the bottom of a lake hides an ancient, hidden menace that threatens the entire world. Second is Andy Lane’s The Havoc of Empires in which a political marriage between the CEO of a human commercial empire and the leader of an alien hegemony threatens to descend into diplomatic chaos and possibly galactic war. (more…)

Ol’ Sixie: The Last Adventure

Colin Baker famously refused his regeneration scene with the incoming Sylvester McCoy on TV, leaving it to the latter, an exercise bike and a somewhat underinspiring wig. And that, it was thought, was that.

But no! For Big Finish have produced a wondrous thing: a boxset that gives Ol’ Sixie the regeneration he deserves, without breaking the all-important exercise bike canon. (Completists will be disappointed to learn that the wig goes unmentioned.)


The Last Adventure is a series of four interconnected adventures spread across the Sixth Doctor’s life, each with a different companion, and each facing off – to a lesser or greater degree – with Sixie’s ultimate nemesis, himself (in the shape of the Valeyard). (more…)

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