Thursday, 28 June 2012

The First Doctor By @cheezypeas

23rd November, 1963. The date that started it all. The magic, the adventure that we have all held so dear to our hearts ever since.
A blue Police box, an incredibly intelligent pupil whose behaviour prompts her teachers to find out more about her. Then they meet her Grandfather…..

First impressions count, right? Susan and Ian’s first impression really wasn’t complementary (especially after being kidnapped) and this has throughout the years been the assumption of quite a number of Doctor Who fans:

Oh the First Doctor, he was a grumpy old boy”
“He really didn’t do much apart from talk, quite boring really”
“Don’t think he was very nice, quite rude in fact”

Why has the Doctor’s initial attitude in his first scene of An Unearthly Child continued to be the general consensus of his character? This article will hopefully change people’s unfair perception of the First Doctor and encourage everyone to watch more of his stories.
Grumpy? Of course! How would you feel in an elderly body plagued with rheumatism, surrounded by silly humans and having to save the World and the universe on a regular basis? Now, cast you mind back to each and every subsequent regeneration and tell me, have any of the other 10 never been grumpy? Of course they have- even the mild mannered Fifth Doctor had his grouchy moments.

"You took away my cricket bat, how DARE you!"

People have also have an unfair opinion that the First Doctor had no sense of humor, and had no taste for adventure. Take a look at The Romans where he is clearly happy and joyful, amusing Vicki with his unusual quirky humour. In The Web Planet he demonstrates his excitement and wonder in exploring the terrain of the planet Vortis. Like every regeneration since, the Doctor clearly shows his sense of wonder, his thirst for excitement when he discovers something new and interesting.

In the same story when Ian’s pen goes missing and he gets the sense he’s being watched, the Doctor is keen to explore to find out, rather than take the boring cowardly option of staying in the Tardis. Hardly a boring old chap you have to agree. It appears Ian would be more appreciative of pipe and slippers than the Doctor!

He has also demonstrated he can be quite the action man. Take for example scenes from The Chase, The Romans and The Crusade where he demonstrated his fighting skills, which could easily match someone half his age.

What a lot of people forget is although he did take the unusual and not so pleasant step of kidnapping Ian and Barbara in the first story, was to protect himself and Susan. However, he could be just as warm and gentle as his subsequent regenerations. He was very much a devoted Grandfather to Susan protecting her ferociously, and when she found love it took all his composure to let her go. Listening to his final farewell to Susan:

One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.”

Although there wasn’t dramatic Tenth Doctor tears and angst, in a way the First Doctors farewell is somewhat more poignant and tragic as he looks upwards, proud and composed and yet you can tell he’s suffering on the inside. He was also very protective of his companions, especially Vicki whom reminded him of his beloved Granddaughter. 

He also demonstrated the sarcasm and wit which has never left him even after 10 regenerations:

The Doctor: What do you think of that, now, eh? A Viking helmet.
Steven Taylor: Maybe.
The Doctor: What do you mean, "maybe"? What do you think it is, a space helmet for a cow?

I hope this article has changed a few misconceptions people have had and it has encouraged fans to explore this greatly forgotten era with the First Doctor who started it all. Next time look at all the subsequent regenerations; you’ll see the mischievous, grumpy but gracious and kind old man in each and every one.

To end, here are a few lovely comments regarding the First Doctor I found on YouTube:

“I've been going through the classic episodes in chronological order. I'm still on the Hartnell era, and he is a real joy to watch. He's grumpy, stubborn, and utterly devious, but he has two hearts of gold.”

“The First Doctor doesn't get enough credit, I mean after all, he began this legacy. So before everyone who is a crazy Tennant or Baker fan goes on about how they can't imagine Who without him, just remember that there would be no Tennant or Baker if it weren't for Hartnell.

While all of the subsequent Doctors have been really brilliant, none of them could be where they are without the foundation that William Hartnell laid down.
Bless him and may he rest in peace.”

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Romans By @The_Knights87

“When we get out of here, I’m going to comb all the slave markets, question everybody. Someone must remember her.”

During Doctor Who’s second season the production crew decided to do something different.  They decided to make a historical with a different twist.  They decided to make it funny and take advantage of William Hartnell’s comedic presence.  William Hartnell used to do a lot of comedy when he first started acting and the Romans was the perfect vessel for him to revisit his roots.  

The Romans is not your usual Doctor Who story. Besides the fact that it is pretty funny it also was one of the few stories where there were two stories going on at once.  First you have The Doctor and Vicki are en route to Rome when they come across a body. In fact it’s the body of Maximus Pettulian.  The Doctor picks up the lyre just as a centurion arrives and mistakes The Doctor as the famous lyre player.   So they are whisked to Rome and an audience with Emperor Nero. 

That’s where all the comedy starts.  As the Doctor plays Nero for a fool.  But impersonating Maximus Pettulian doesn’t come without it’s risk as assassins are still a foot to kill the Doctor now.  You see they think they failed in their attempt to kill Maximus Pettulian and well I think you can figure it out.

The second story involves Ian and Barbara getting kidnapped by slave traders Ian gets sold to one slave trader who has him rowing a boat in the Mediterranean while Barbara gets sold to Tavius who works in the court of Nero.  While a decent man he does warn Barbara that if she tries to escape she will be killed.  

This second part is truly good as it shows Ian to be the man of action.  In fact this is probably the best performance by William Russell in Doctor Who.  Ian goes through so much to try and save Barbara that you start to believe that there is something more than friendship between the two school teachers.

But the true comedic gem of this story is Emperor Nero himself. Derek Francis puts in an excellent performance as Nero.  He is funny and can turn dead serious at times that makes you wonder if Nero was truly like how they portrayed him. 

It is true that most historical Doctor Who stories are boring and dry at times but The Romans is the exception.  It is funny, and action filled and full of great moments that makes this story a must see for Doctor Who fans. Plus it is great how Nero gets the idea of how to burn Rome to the ground. The Romans is truly one of the best historical Doctor Who stories of all time and one of the best William Hartnell stories as well mainly because William Hartnell performance is as the Ninth Doctor says “Fantastic”.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Doctor Who - The Seventies By @The_Knights87

Ah The 70’s.  Oh how I don’t remember you.  It was the decade I was born. It was the decade that Vietnam ended and unfortunately it was the decade that gave us disco.  Why god, why did disco come to fruition and why did the Bee Gees go to the dark side.  Speaking of the Darkside the 70’s also gave us Star Wars.  But for Doctor Who the 70’s was a decade of stability.  A decade where you knew, that on Saturday at tea time, you would be in for a treat. A treat brought to you by the two longest serving actors in the role.  Of course I’m talking about Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

Jon Pertwee heralded a different direction for the show.  Not only was the show being filmed in color but his Doctor was exiled to earth.  For his first three seasons the Third Doctor was earth bound.  The UNIT years were quite different.  In fact you could look to those seasons as a precursor to shows like Fringe and The X- Files to name a few.  

The Pertwee years were the first Doctor Who season that had a linking story line.  The Master Season or Season 8 gave us two of the better known characters in the stories history.  The obvious one was the Master played perfectly by Roger Delgado.  The second was Jo Grant.  Katy Manning was the Third Doctor’s main companion.  She was the perfect complement to Pertwees grumpy puss Doctor.  She had a way of making him smile and when she left you could see sadness in the Doctor’s eyes and you knew his hearts were broken.

One of the best thing about Seventies Doctor Who was that the program celebrated its Tenth Anniversary.  That’s right The Three Doctors reunited the Third Doctor with Doctor’s One and Two.  They banded together to save Gallifrey from the threat of Omega.  Unfortunately William Hartnell wasn’t in good health so was regulated to being in the time bubble but the chemistry between Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton was just priceless and a true gem of Doctor Who’s history.

Tom Baker six of his seven years in Doctor Who took place in the Seventies.  Some say his era heralded some of the best stories in the shows history and looking back on them I’ll have to say they are right.  The Fourth Doctor was blessed with some great writers like Robert Holmes, Terrance Dicks and Douglas Adams to name a few.   With such stories like Genesis of the Daleks, Terror of the Zygons and Pyramid of Mars it was like falling into a treasure trove of great stories.  We’ll to be honest he did have some clunkers too.  You will have clunkers being in the show for seven years like he was. 

One of the true gems of Tom Bakers Seventies stories was his relationship with Sarah Jane Smith.  Those two were the perfect Doctor and companion.   There chemistry was just like gold.  Perfect in a sense that you would have thought they would be together forever.  But that wasn’t to be as The Fourth Doctor had a slew of companions like Harry Sullivan, the savage Leela and Romana One and Two.  But the one companion that is still popular today that was introduced during the Seventies was none other than K-9.  The metallic dog was a mainstay of the latter half of the seventies and caused more trouble with production than good. 

The Seventies was a great decade for Doctor giving us fans some great stories, moments and friends along the way.  It also gave us some new villain’s to hate (or love) like Davros, The Sontarrans, The Zygons and of course the Master. It also was the decade where they filmed a story outside of the UK in Paris France for The City of Death.  So for a decade that was full of strife and bad feelings at least Doctor Who gave us something to look forward to and make us very happy indeed.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Farewell Liz Shaw, as we say goodbye to Caroline John

We are sorry to announce that the actress Caroline John who played companion Liz Shaw in Jon Pertwee's debut season has passed away.  The official news came via a tweet from the BBC on the Doctor Who Twitter feed.

She left us on the 5th June, but the news was undisclosed by the family until after the funeral took place yesterday in south-west London; the cause of death is unknown at the moment.

Born in York in 1940, Caroline John trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama.  She then worked in the theatre, touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

In 1969, she won the part of scientist and companion Doctor Elizabeth Shaw opposite Jon Pertwee as the Doctor who had taken over the role since Patrick Troughton's departure.  Her character of Liz Shaw appeared as a regular for one season in 1970, but she left when Barry Lett's wanted to replace her with a younger character.  She was also pregnant at the time.  She played two roles in the final story of that year, Inferno, the other character being Shaw's alternative-universe counterpart, Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw.

The Doctor Who Bar will be having a special tribute viewing of Inferno tonight in her memory, as we bid farewell to her with her final performance from the Jon Pertwee era.  The tribute session will open at 7.30pm, pressing play on our DVD's at 8pm.

Caroline returned to the series in 1983 for the Twentieth Anniversary special The Five Doctors, in which she played a ghost version of Liz Shaw. She reprised her starring role of  Liz Shaw for the 1993 BBC Children In Need special Dimensions In Time.

Married to actor Geoffrey Beevers who would later play an incarnation of the Doctor's arch enemy the Master, Caroline John appeared as Madame Salvadori with him in the Big Finish audio drama Dust Breeding, which was released back in 2001. She also portrayed Liz Shaw again for Big Finish in The Blue Tooth, released in 2007. In addition, she appeared as Shaw in the straight-to-video P.R.O.B.E. stories of the 1990s, which were written by Mark Gatiss and co-starred Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy.

Beevers and John also starred together in the Agatha Christie's Poirot episode Problem At Sea on ITV. In addition, the couple had roles in the Channel 4 adaptation of the political thriller A Very British Coup in 1988.

John's most recent notable appearance was in the film Love, Actually - the 2003 rom-com written and directed by Richard Curtis.

She will be very sadly missed by all Doctor Who fans who have affection for the Jon Pertwee era of the programme.

Farewell Caroline John, Rest In Peace.

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Web Planet By @The_Knights87

"We seem to be caught. Trapped somehow. This is some strange phenomena. There's no power in the ship. It's useless."

The Web Planet isn’t one of those stories that you go crazy over to watch again.  No in fact, it is quite boring.  Ok.  To be fair The Web Planet wasn’t intended to be watched in one sitting.  It was in fact a serial that was to be enjoyed weekly with the traditional cliff hanger and classic way to tell a story back in the sixties.

This story that comprises part of the second season of Doctor Who shows William Hartnell to be completely comfortable in the role of the First Doctor.  In fact despite his stumbling of words he does a remarkable job with the battle of wits with Animus. The Animus is an intelligence that has mind control over the Zarbi and their fellow creature the larvae gun. In fact the other creatures in this story the butterfly like Menoptera.  These creatures occupy the planet Vortis which at one time was peaceful where they all lived in harmony.

The Web Planet isn’t one of my favorites but it does hold a special place in my heart.  As a child my late Aunt gave me this book as a birthday present.  Not sure how old I was when I got the book as a present which as it was called back in the day “Doctor Who and The Zarbi” but I remember being enamored about reading a new Doctor Who adventure that I had not seen before.   Since I live in the USA we did not get the William Hartnell stories for quite some time yet.  So this was my first foray into an era of Doctor Who that I was not familiar with yet.

You see in the US we were inundated with Tom Baker stories for quite some time.  It wasn’t until the late 80’s that we got the Hartnell stories so most of our exposure was through the brilliant Target books of the series.  These books were a looking glass into worlds of Doctor Who that were not available to us and thanks to my aunt for getting me started on collecting the Target Books.

 So when I saw The Web Planet for the first time I was excited to see a story that I read come to life.  So in a sense The Web Planet isn’t one of the best stories but one that has special meaning to me.  So join us Wednesday for The Web Planet. Bar opens at the normal Wednesday time of 7:00 PM BST (2PM EST USA).

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Eleventh Hour- A Celebration of The Eleventh Doctor- Words by @zeiton_7 and Pictures by @cheezypeas

"Am I people? Do I even look like people? Trust me, I'm the Doctor"

Cast your minds  back to the end of the Tennant era. New Years Eve, End of Time- Part Two. David Tennant's long awaited final performance. Remember the words? "I don't want to go"? Well David, we didn't want you to go either! You see, like many other Doctor Who fans around the globe, I'd done it again! I had gotten really attached to one Doctor. So when regeneration is, once again, forced on us, I resent it. This time I resent it a lot!

So anyway, David Tennant does the big firework impression and regenerates into Matt Smith. They couldn't be more different! I remember when Matt was announced as the new Doctor ( I remember it well as I was decorating my second son's nursery ready for his arrival) My first impression? Well he was from Northampton like I am but I have to be honest not good.
You see for me Tennant's Doctor had  been anarchic, funny, passionate, driven and well everything I believe the Doctor could and should be. Matt just seemed too young and too inexperienced as an actor to play such a complicated part. But, like every other dedicated Whovian I was willing to give him a chance.

Anyway back to the end of The End of Time! The Tardis control room erupts into flame and Matt's first words, key this don't want to mess it up, "Geronimo". Again, not very impressive, yes the scene looked great all daring and exciting but really, "Geronimo"? I would have to wait for the next series to see whether he improved.

The Eleventh Hour, first episode, new series, new head writer and new Doctor! First stories with a newly regenerated Doctor have always been notorious and a little shaky in my opinion. How was Matt going to burn himself onto our Whovian minds?

Well the answer to that question is with, in my opinion, the best debut story any Doctor has had in the history of the program. He hangs out of the Tardis, he eats weird food ( I still haven't tried fish fingers and custard) and meets a young version of Amy Pond. The story is fast paced and unapologetic. Steven Moffat allows no time to grieve for Tennant and firmly places Matt as our Doctor. It's a story full of humour, mesmerising performances and boy does Matty know how to play the part.

If I'm honest I was totally taken aback by all this. I also have to confess that it wasn't until the famous "I am the Doctor" speech at the end to the Atraxi, with the brilliant inclusion of face shots of all the previous incarnations, that I finally accepted that I would like Matt Smith.

Through the two seasons that Matt has helmed the Tardis there has been much that I have enjoyed and loved. I love his clumsiness, he has a wonderful bemused look sometimes that owes so much to Patrick Troughton's Doctor. He also has a passion and a darkness that is truly terrifying. As he commented to House in The Doctor's Wife and in answer to "Fear me! I've killed hundreds of Time Lords", "Fear me. I've killed all of them". There has also been somethings I haven't enjoyed as much. But this is, in fairness, more to do with the writing and the positions of companions than the Doctor himself.

So, as we move towards Season 7 and, indeed, the momentous and huge milestone of the 50th Anniversary year the question I ask myself is... am I pleased that Matt Smith is taking us into the next phase of Doctor Who. The answer is a definite and excited yes after all he IS the Doctor!

Join us on Saturday as we host The Eleventh Hour live from Starfury's Eleventh Hour Convention in Birmingham. Bar opens at 7:30pm and we press play at 8.00pm. Fish fingers and custard not included #DWBAR

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Chase- Words by @Zeiton_7 and Pictures @cheezypeas

Oh those Pepper Pots are at it again!

After the exciting events of The Space Museum The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki are off for a well earned rest. They have taken with them the Time- Space Visualiser (a device which allows the viewer to see any past event in space and time) It is through this device that they learn of The Daleks plan to follow the Tardis and exterminate The Doctor. To their further horror The Doctor realises that these events may have started to unfold. This isn't going to be the restful beach holiday they had imagined!

 In addition to The Daleks there are a number of other life forms that the Doctor encounters who are equally as disturbing.

 The first are Vicki's eyes. We, in the bar, noticed last week that her eyes are never still. Indeed, they are positively hyper and seem determined to out act the rest of her body (something which isn't very difficult) Once you notice this freak occurrence it is impossible to take anything she says or does seriously without noticing her odd eyes!

Secondly, we meet the Mire Beasts (guess where they live?) thats right in the sand! Strange looking creatures with multiple tentacles who attack any unwilling travellers and presumably eat them or tickle them to death.

Thirdly, the indigenous citizens of the planet, Aridius (sounds like a deodorant doesn't it?) The Aridians (wasn't he a runner up of The X Factor) are enslaved by The Daleks and set to work digging out the Tardis. But they are soon allied to The Doctor and aid him and his companions in their struggles.

Fourthly, The Mechanoids. At first glance these robots look like they could fall over at any moment (they probably did) But they prove to be worthy adversaries to the Daleks themselves. Watch out for the first ever Dalek vs robot foe mash up!

The Chase, of the stories title is a rip rawing ride through space and time. They visit the Empire State Building (interesting that The Daleks built the famous land mark but seem to have forgotten that here) the Mary Celeste and even the abodes of Frankenstein and Dracula. Yes, this is a story unlike any other and features a fast moving storyline and many locations. Anyone that thinks older Who episodes are slow moving and boring need to check this one out! At the end of this story Ian and Barbara say their goodbyes and once again William Hartnell's acting is both moving and memorable.


 So join us tomorrow and witness for yourself the fast paced story that is The Chase The Bar opens at 7pm and we press play at 7.30pm Whisky chasers will be served #DWBAR

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Roger Delgado, The Master remembered. Words by @Zeiton_7 and Pictures by @cheezypeas

On the 18th June 1973 the chauffeur driven car that Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto was travelling plunged over a ravine. At the time he was filming  in Turkey and sadly all that were travelling in the car died.  Roger Delgado was the first actor to portray The Master and did so to perfection in eight stories. Tragically he was to feature in one final story with Jon Pertwee's Doctor and Roger's death has often been quoted as one of the reasons Jon decided to leave the series.

So, on Saturday we in the bar are leading an affectionate and loving tribute to the archest of The Doctors enemies. Roger's on screen presence was tangible right from the first scene in Terror of the Autons. He seemed to exude evil and malevolence without uttering a word. His planning was much more subtle yet still formidable, however the aim was always the same. Complete and total obedience to him and absolute destruction of The Doctor, normally after humiliating him first!

Delgado's Master had impeccable dress sense, normally opting for sharp black suits. His, literally, hypnotic eyes seem to bore into the poor unfortunate souls who crossed him and they soon were under his influence. Even when he seemed to be defeated it was never wise to let down your guard as he could always be relied on to pull another little twist and escape.

Delgado's relationship with Pertwee both onscreen and off was close. This may be one of the reasons that Delgado is so effective as The Doctors adversary. Their performances together show complete trust in each others acting abilities and this just adds to the delight in watching any stories they feature in.

I am sad to say that my recollections and affection for Roger Delgado only began some 15 years after his death. As I was born in 1975 my first encounters were in watching repeats of those classic stories and also with the brilliant writing within the Target books. Even so, I was totally amazed and in admiration of this actor who could deliver such an intense and powerful performance. Here, surely was a match for The Doctor's intellect and someone to be feared. I always felt that when The Master was around The Doctor was always in more danger than with any other foe (something which was ably proven during Logopolis)

Roger Delgado's legacy is obvious. He provided such a fantastically strong foundation for The Master that Doctor Who has been able to continue the characters development through 7 incarnations. Each new actor that portrays The Master, like those who play The Doctor, add something different. But all owe a great debt to the original, and in my opinion, the best.
The Master attends a Black Sabbath Concert.

So please join us on Saturday and revel in Roger Delgado's scene stealing performance as The Master. It is our will "so mote it be"

The Bar opens at 7:30pm BST and we press play at 8.00pm #DWBAR