Monday, 30 April 2012

My Memories of Doctor Who By @Cheezypeas

The 1980’s, ah yes. A rather strange decade of fashion, music and politics etc, etc and the decade this little madam was born.

My first ever recollections of TV shows/films was Ghostbusters. The minute I set eyes on the movie I was hooked and up until an age where I could see it was an illogical career; I had decided to be a Ghostbuster when I grew up.

I am fortunate to have a mum (or ‘Mumsey’ as I fondly call her, due to our mutual love of the Crystal Maze) who absolutely adored Jon Pertwee, and it is thanks to her that my first ever memories of Doctor Who began.

I can’t remember the year, although I recall I was still going through my obsessional mud pie creation stage and running around busting imaginary ghosts, so must have been about 6-7 years old. It was a Sunday and I was watching some TV for a bit before venturing out into the garden to commence a hard days graft constructing mud pies. Then a Doctor Who repeat came on.  I really wasn’t paying attention at this point, as I was preoccupied with the serious business of mud pie construction.

Mum noticed the programme; “Oh, lovely Jon, he plays Worzel. Can you tell?” (Worzel Gummidge was on a lot at that point and I loved the programme.)
“But mummy, he looks too tidy to be Worzel, will he change heads?” I asked, bewildered. 
“Oh no silly.” Mum replied, shaking her head laughing. “He’s the Doctor on this show, he has a magic blue telephone box which allows him to travel in time.”

I watched as this smartly dressed man battled against giant rabid maggots with Bessie and U.N.I.T. and the green goo. Wow, do we get those in our garden? Why haven’t I seen any before? I was obsessed. Mesmerised and full of wonder. I spent the rest of the day on a hunt to see if I could acquire such beasties, alas to no avail. From that day on was hooked on any repeats of classic episodes, especially Third Doctor ones.

Luckily, having older brothers I could watch the latest Doctor Who so I was exposed to the end part of Sixth Doctor then the Seventh Doctor’s era. I adored Ace, and being a tomboy I related to her totally.

Then nothing. I was still very young when Survival was televised, so I sat there patiently waiting for the next episode that never came. As a young child who was single handily brought up by her Mum I waited, and waited. (and yes, I can totally empathise with Amelia Pond!)  Time passed, and I felt like the show had abandoned me so although I kept my ear half cocked to the ground for any return I carried on and travelled through my difficult teenage years until 1996; The movie.

I was 16 and had my face almost pressed against the screen in anticipation. My show had returned? Then, the anticlimax. Was that it? Then the familiar yet lonely, slient abyss.

Time passed, got a degree, became a scientist, researched for a bit then went back to my initial plan to become a nurse. I had almost given up on any possibility of Doctor Who returning.

The reprise of Doctor Who couldn’t have come at a better time. I lost my eldest brother and started my nurse training in 2004. The following year, I couldn’t believe the hype of the media about the show returning. Then Christopher Eccleston uttered the infamous words; “Do you want to come with me?” and I fell in love with the show all over again.

Oh fangirls, you really screwed up things for me in the tenth Doctor’s era. I could not watch a whole episode all the way through thanks to the school girl gushes, although the Whovian in me kept dipping into the episodes, defiant in my devotion to the show yet determined not to be tarnished with the overview of “oh, you’re a girl, you only like Doctor Who because of David Tennant.” (This is also why I don’t have a lot of patience for shallow fan girls who don’t really appreciate the show)  

Yep, my expression kind of matches Woody's! I feel your pain cowboy.

Over the past few years, I have really got back into loving Doctor Who and to a level more deeper that ever before. Whilst in a depressive state it was recommended to me that I watched Patrick Troughton. He provided the therapeutic escapism I needed. I have never looked back and I adore him as the Doctor. He IS my Doctor. I also revisited the wonderful Third Doctor and renewed my respect and love for him. As a result, I have taken the time to watch every Doctor and appreciate and respect each of them completely. I also got over my fan girl phobia regarding Tennant thanks to a special Whovian in my life ;-)

So, even after the painful wilderness years, the First Doctor was correct; he did come back, and we should never lose our faith and keep him dear to our hearts. To the wonderful Doctor, his companions and villains; Thank you, simply thank you. xxxx

Friday, 27 April 2012

The Mind Robber- by @cheezypeas

"Well, I think we may be in a place where nothing is impossible.”

The Mind Robber is a playful Second Doctor’s story which, although it doesn’t comprise of particularly scary monsters it focuses on what is more frightening; the power of our minds and imagination where no social or moral boundaries exist.

The Doctor, Zoe and Jamie find themselves thrown out of a rather broken TARDIS into a land of make believe where fictional prose becomes reality and the boundaries between fiction and reality merge. They meet many famous fictional characters along the way who either assist or hinder their plans to escape this surreal World.

The wonderful Second Doctor plays along with the tasks he’s presented with to rescue his incapacitated companions including the infamous “Jamie’s face” game which, provided a clever way of switching a poorly chicken pox ridden Frazer Hines for his last minute replacement Hamish Wilson.

Little does the Doctor and his companions know what horrifying prospect awaits them as they work their way through to the centre of this maze of creative puzzles and surprises.

The story is somewhat ironic as writers were forced to concentrate their creative ideas due to infamous BBC budget constraints to produce 5 episodes. The final episode in fact still stands as the shortest ever Doctor Who episode recorded.

So join us for this bedtime story at the Doctor Who Bar on Friday night from 7.15pm EST, pressing play at 7:30pm EST. Milky drink optional. #DWBarUSA

Oh and one more word……catsuit!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Horror of Doctor Who

Doctor Who is at its most thrilling when it tries to scare us.

Why do we like being scared? Fear: Our bodies pump blood faster. Makes us feel more alive.

Perhaps through watching horrific moments we can learn to deal with the horrors we must overcome within our own lives?

We are also fascinated by the strange and grotesque. Perhaps few are more fascinated by the macabre than Mark Gatiss.

But we are safe in the knowledge that the Doctor and his companions will make everything okay right at the end.

The serialisation of the stories requires a moment of horror for the cliffhanger's to work. From the first cliffhanger, with a giant shadow looming over the TARDIS. A strange plunger threatening school teacher Barbara Wright, which makes this intelligent woman scream?

Scariest moments from the series.

The Daleks scared us not just because they were something completely different to us. They showed no mercy. Their sole purpose was to destroy everything. They are the ultimate killing machine. Later they were revealed to have originated from humanoids just like us, but genetically manipulated.

The Cybermen. Some find these more scary than the Daleks, as they are very much like us, they will make us one of them, with removed emotions. Devoid of all humanity.

The original Doctor Who series, particularly in the Hinchcliffe/Holmes era (1974-1979), in an effort to make the series more adult they drew fairly heavily from the old Hammer horror stories. The Brain of Morbius is clearly inspired by Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.

The villains of The Talon's of Weng-Chiang - Magnus Greel and The Caves of Androzani - Sharas Jek are both clearly inspired by The Phantom of the Opera.

The Planet of Evil was inspired from a mixture of the movie Forbidden Planet and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Vampires: State of Decay, Curse of Fenric, Vampires of Venice.

In State of Decay, the Vampires are classic horror Vampires. They even drink blood, and have it stored in tanks.  Gruesome!

One of the differences between the classic and new series of Doctor Who is sometimes the classic series would draw upon a rich history of characters and exploit them. The new series draws upon more basic fears, some within our own daily lives. Sat-navs that control our cars and emit gas, cracks in the wall with something living behind it, though this was done in the classic era - the Malus living in the church wall in the Davison story The Awakening.

The Weeping Angels. Don't blink. If you blink they will get you! Every moment you close your eyes these grotesque, knurled statues will come closer.

Vashta Nerada: Shadows that kill. But perhaps more chillingly we were not aware that they had killed instantly, making it seem like a prolonged death.

The Silence. These creatures, with elongated faces and fingers, we will forget about them the moment you turn your head. So they can move amongst us, almost unnoticed. Lightning strikes from their fingertips, removing their victim from existence.

What is your favourite scary moment? What scared you as a child and what do you enjoy now?  Leave a reply in the comment box below

In the mean time here are a selection of replies:

The Krynoid in The Seeds of Doom and the inexorable dread in Midnight.

Valiant1 les moyes
Night Terrors had its fair share as was body possession in Midnight as well

TodayImNoel Noel Rainford
Kane's melting face in 'Dragonfire' from Old Who.

Doctor_Who Rod Falanga
The Image of the Fendahl gave me nightmares, as an adult!

TheDWFanSite TheDoctorWhoFanSite!
The scene where Sally goes in the basement and leaves the guy with the Angel.

DJKellykins Kelly Christine
Yes exactly! I cannot look at another statue the same again. :(

Tardispilot Sean Grimes
I'd have to say my favorite was when the brain of Morbius fell out of the jar & on to the floor!                                                                                                 

Monday, 23 April 2012

William Hartnell The First Doctor

William Henry Hartnell was the first actor to portray the role of the Doctor in the BBCtv series Doctor Who. He first played the role in the unseen pilot version of An Unearthly Child before Sydney Newman ordered the pilot to be reshot.

William Hartnell was the only child of Lucy Hartnell, an unmarried Mother. He spent many a happy childhood in Devon with his Mothers family of farmers, it was there that he learnt to ride a horse. Hartnell made various efforts to trace his Father, but unfortunately without success.

Hartnell entered the Theatre in 1925, working under Frank Benson as a general stagehand. It was whilst appearing in the play Miss Elizabeth's Prisoner that he met Heather McIntyre, they married the following year.

He appeared in more than sixty movies, beginning with Say it with Music. It was after playing the tough Sergeant in The Way Ahead in 1944 that he perhaps got typecast as thugs and policemen, he was usually known for comical roles prior to his appearance in this movie.

He made a memorable appearance in the very first Carry On Movie as Sergeant Grimshaw, the true star of Carry On Sergeant, but again he was playing another tough character.

It was Hartnell's performance in the film This Sporting Life which drew him to the attention of a young Verity Lambert. She had just been handed the producership of a brand new BBC sci-fi series, Doctor Who, and was looking for an actor to cast in the lead role.

Despite meeting with Verity Lambert to discuss the role, he was not overly keen to take the role initially, but was soon persuaded to accept the role. So began the very first era of Doctor Who with William Hartnell at the helm of the TARDIS, although it was usually just referred to as The Ship in his era. We didn't know at this point that he was a Time Lord from a planet called Gallifrey, he was just a wanderer in space and time with unknown origins.

Hartnell's era is a mixture of sci-fi and historical stories, when the show was trying to establish itself. Undoubtedly it was with the second story which featured the alien creatures known as the Daleks which catapulted the fledgling Doctor Who series into an instant hit.

It became a show which everyone knew about and wanted to watch. Hartnell's brusque performance of the Doctor, softened over his tenure in the role. To many the Hartnell era was definitive Doctor Who, where the show stretched it's format in many ways with stories like The Gunfighters and The Web Planet. This first era is looked back with much affection, as this era saw the birth of a show which would end up being a British Television Institution and later a Television Legend.

Hartnell left the role in 1966 in a story called The Tenth Planet, after becoming estranged with the shows new production team following the departure of Verity Lambert, and also because of health reasons, he suffered from arteriosclerosis which affects the memory.

However in 1973 he returned to the role in the story The Three Doctors, alongside his successors in the role - Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. Despite being ill with his failing memory, William Hartnell appeared on pre-filmed inserts where he read his lines off cue cards. This would be the last time he would appear on television, and it is very fitting that it is on the show he helped to create and made one of the most popular and beloved television shows of all time.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to William Hartnell who began the famous role which continues today with Matt Smith in the illustrious role. Hartnell passed away on 23rd April 1975, at the age of 67 in his sleep following a series of strokes. He will never be forgotten. He gave birth to one of the most popular roles on television.

For anyone who has not seen any of the Hartnell Doctor Who stories on DVD, you don't know what you're missing. Although his era may have been quite experimental with it's choice of stories, Hartnell gives his all in the role. Let's not forget that his era was when Doctor Who was trying to establish itself, it was a very new series when he took up the role.

So please support the official DVD's from 2|Entertain, there are quite a few stories available from his era to buy. You wont be disappointed.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Tonight in the #DWBarUSA!

Before Tom Baker scoured time and space for the Key to Time, William Hartnell and his companions scoured the planet Marinus for a different set of keys - keys which would protect the planet from the attacking Voord. Sent against their will by the Keeper of the Consciousness, the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara travel from ice caves to jungles to the advanced society of Millennius. Throughout it all the team faces a slew of dangers, culminating with the Doctor being compelled to serve as defense counsel for Ian when the school teacher stands accused of murder! In the second non-Earth based story of the series, this first season treat shows that the Doctor and his companions can find plenty of problems no matter where in time and space they end up. So join us this evening for the Keys of Marinus (and make sure you don’t over feed the plants . . . )

We'll open at 6:45pm EDT and press play at 7! Our host will be @andy_gage so be sure to follow him and to use #DWBarUSA in your tweets!

Sarah Jane Smith: My Memories of Elisabeth Sladen by @Via_The_Void

My first viewing on television of the lovely Elisabeth Sladen would be in her cameo appearance in the Twentieth Anniversary Special The Five Doctors. Her first little scene with K9 is a favourite of mine.  I loved her surprise when she meets the Third Doctor again, and her banter on the commentary (of The Five Doctors Twenty Fifth Anniversary Edition) that Jon Pertwee pinched her line that "You became all teeth and curls!"

When I started buying the Doctor Who videos back in the mid-eighties, my first proper introduction to the character in a full Doctor Who story was the Jon Pertwee adventure Death To The Daleks, which ironically is being released on DVD very shortly!

Her banter with Jon Pertwee's Doctor was a delight to behold.  Sarah actually takes centre stage for much of this particular Dalek adventure, and when she escapes one of the Daleks goes a bit bananas as he blows himself up.  It's Sarah who devises a plan to get the Parrinium supplies aboard the Earth Marine Space Corps ship so that the Daleks can't get it. Good for Sarah.

This girl could act, she could stand her ground and she could give a good scream too.  All great abilities for a traditional Doctor Who companion.  However this character is not just a traditional companion, she starred alongside two of the best actors ever to play the role, the late Jon Pertwee and his successor the great Tom Baker.  I have no doubt that the pairing of Elisabeth Sladen with Tom Baker heralded a golden age of Doctor Who which for many can never be repeated.  The good news though are the stories are available to view for many years to come thanks to 2|Entertain and now BBC Worldwide.

However back to my memories of Lis.  The most painful memory was her tragic death last year, I had just bought Planet of the Spiders, Tesco didn't have it but Asda did when they checked their store room and I eagerly snapped it up intending to watch it that night later on.  Turning on my telly to read my favourite pages on Ceefax, I was unprepared for the revelation I was about to get on the entertainment news section.

I hadn't the heart to watch the Planet of the Spiders DVD, because I realised that in the final scene prior to the regeneration all of the main stars were no longer with us, and that hurt.  I couldn't watch it, and it took me a good three to four months before I did, and of course that final scene set me off!  I blubbed like David Tennant when he said goodbye to Rose!

I do have happier memories though.  She is a favourite companion of mine and I eagerly snap up her stories on DVD.  Even the K9 Boxset in order to see Sarah in the first spin off series K9 & Company, it's not half as bad as everyone makes out.

She was terrific in many of her stories but ones which stand out are The Hand of Fear, The Brain of Morbius, Pyramids of Mars and The Time Warrior.  I love her performance in Jon Pertwee's final outing when she gets possessed by the Queen Spider.  I have a soft spot for Planet of the Spiders and for Jon Pertwee's Doctor in general but when he says: "A tear Sarah Jane."  Elisabeth as Sarah Jane looks as if she's about to burst into tears at the thought that she's about to lose the Doctor.  She doesn't realise that although it's the end for the Third Doctor, she's about to meet the mad as a hatter Fourth Doctor!  And what a pairing together these two had, I love the dynamic these two actors had together.

Elisabeth Sladen was instrumental in Doctor Who's success during her tenure on the show, especially alongside Tom Baker as the Doctor. She will never be forgotten, and it is a testament to the success of her character that she returned to the role in The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Who can forget her first appearance in The Time Warrior and later in the The Sontaran Experiment when Styre says that as the female of the species her thorax is of a different construction! That is a classic Doctor Who line. She met the Daleks creator in Genesis of the Daleks and then again years later in The Stolen Earth/Journey's End.  It was a wonderful moment for me when she recognised Davros's voice.

She was a brilliant actress and will be very sadly missed, but I wont despair now because through the power of DVD coupled with a blogger site called the Doctor Who Bar (shameless plug!) I can enjoy her terrific performances for many years to come.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

An Emotional Tribute to Elisabeth Sladen, My Sarah Jane

So I'm sitting at my Mac thinking how on earth to start this blog. Anyone that knows me will know that words don't normally come slowly to me (keep the rude comments to a minimum please.) But this time I'm stuck, how to start, how to start? Ok, lets go back to last year, April 19th, 2011, to be precise. I was watching BBC News ,and not really paying much attention to be honest, then the headline was announced: "Elisabeth Sladen had passed away." Now that caught my attention as it did thousands no millions of Doctor Who fans around the globe. I reacted first with disbelief, she was only 63, then the tears came.

So why did the passing of Elisabeth Sladen effect me on such a massive scale? What did she mean to me? Well, to answer those questions I have to go back even further to my childhood and when I first fell in love with "The Madman in the Box" or The Doctor as I've always known him.

Saturday tea time, when Doctor Who was on, was always the same in my house. Dad and I would gather on the sofa to watch the latest gripping episode and then enthuse about it afterwards. Now I have to admit I am a little too young to remember Sarah Jane's adventures on their original television airing (I joined around Full Circle - Tom Baker time, and Lis had already left by then.) But I did have the Target books and a rather excellent Audio dramatisation of Genesis of the Daleks. The Target books were so well written that Sarah, and by default, Elisabeth's performance just bounced off the page. So I kinda fell in love with Sarah Jane through my reading and listening rather than watching.

As time went on I'd watch the repeats that were shown on BBC2 and later UK Gold but by then I knew she was something special. Here is a girl who is feisty, not afraid of giving her opinion or arguing with The Doctor but it was so so much more than that. Both the Third and Fourth Doctor loved her and clearly had a strong affection for Sarah. This was no acting, EVERYONE loved Elisabeth Sladen and what's not to love?

I seriously can't think of a moment where she ever annoyed me and even when she got stuck in the air ducts during Ark in Space it wasn't annoying, it was sweet. She had no flaws and loved human kind, a fact that was so central to The Sarah Jane Adventures. When she was brought back for School Reunion I cried several times. Lis played Sarah as a heart warming and emotional lady who had more than a few issues with the way she was left by The Doctor. Even now writing this and thinking of those final scenes with David Tennant "My Sarah Jane" - sob.

I strongly suggest any fans that haven't already seen any or all of her Classic stories, that they should do so. There isn't a bad one amongst them. I love all of them but I will share my favourite Sarah Jane moment.

Genesis of the Daleks - With the Doctor about to commit genocide and kill the Daleks for ever, he suddenly has an agonising moment of doubt. Enter Sarah Jane, "We're talking about the Daleks, the most evil creatures ever invented, you must destroy them! You must complete your mission for the Time Lords!"

"My Sarah Jane" Yes, but also "My Elisabeth Sladen" and don't I miss you.

Rest in Peace, Elisabeth Sladen 1st February 1946 to 19th April 2011