June 01, 2005

The Last Great Mystery

So now we know that the legendary background source during Watergate known as Deep Throat was FBI No. 2 man Mark Felt. And so ends one of the most compelling mysteries of our time. Now all that’s left is one final puzzling conundrum from the same era as Watergate and Deep Throat. It’s just as seemingly insoluble, and no one who knows is talking.

I am speaking of course of the 30 year-old mystery of who was originally cast as Sarah Jane Smith.

We all know the story. Barry Letts cast an actress, initial work was done with her and then…she was dropped because she ‘wasn’t working out’. (Rumours abound that this means anything from she was terrible to she didn’t get along with Jon Pertwee to she got along a little too well with Jon Pertwee…) The identity of the actress has never been revealed, in spite of the fact that Doctor Who fandom has some of the best researchers on the planet. (They can find 40 year-old telesnaps but ask them to find an employment memo from 1973…hmph). Heck, I once tried to get the answer out of Terrance Dicks while we were both in a cab and very drunk, but he insisted that he didn’t know.

Even this year at the Gallifrey One convention, Barry Letts refused to name names, though he offered one tantalizing hint: the actress was bought out of her contract, which would have meant that she was paid for the entire season. This would have required approval from the Head of Serials and memos and such…and yet this has eluded our crack team of researchers.

Rather like determining the identity of Deep Throat there are some interesting theories. One theory goes that it was actress Fiona Gaunt, who played Helen in Letts and Dicks more adult (read: boring) SF series, Moonbase 3Moonbase 3 and Season 11 of Doctor Who were being produced around about the same time, and being moved over to Moonbase 3 would mean that she didn’t necessarily get bought out of her contract per se, hence why no paper trail has emerged. And she was a dreadful actress (Moonbase 3 all but ended her television career).

My favourite theory was one that was conceived in a fit of silliness at Gallifrey last year: that they cast someone who’s now very famous. I mean, if you were Barry Letts would you really want to admit that back in 1973 you had originally cast Judi Dench as Sarah Jane Smith but sacked her?

Whatever the case, it’s nice to know that Doctor Who can continue to provide interesting real-world mysteries to speculate endlessly about.

(1) Comments

May 31, 2005

A Priceless Journey

573409583539_gallery.jpgYesterday I took a train from Kings Cross to York. The train was not that busy and I selected a seat across the aisle from a mother and her three suns travelling Aberdeen.

Throughout the entire journey the youngest boy Oscar kept singing and humming the same song over and over and over again. Sometimes the middle brother would join in. Normally this might have been considered annoying but this wime it wasn’t. The song they kept repeating was a familiar one, the theme from Doctor Who.

All three boys watch Doctor Who. Unlike many of the other things that probably interest her children the mother had a sense of gleefull satisfaction talking to her kids about the show.

They even had a copy of the latest Doctor Who magazine. Although it only been purchased this past weekend it was already battered, creased and stick with food. Before long I expect photos will have been cut out and pasted on walls and in books and the remainder will go into the bin. There will be no platic bagged ebay future for this magazinr. It is a magazine being read by children.

The youngest son was most interested in the pictures of the Daleks. The middle son was excited by the comic strip. The oldest son was not all that interested in the magazine but the ad for a “Pump’n'Go” Dalek really caught his attention.

Everything is how it should be.

(4) Comments

May 28, 2005

Winner takes all

Doctor Who is now officially bigger than all of us. The new Doctor Who tie-in books - the three novels plus Monsters and Villains - have sold out of their first 100,000 copy print run and have been reprinted before they even hit the shops.

A few issues of Enlightenment ago I wrote that new readers would read these new books and never want to read another Doctor Who book again - I’m glad to admit I was wrong there. When I was a little boy I shunned television and read Doctor Who books in my treehouse. Now children can do the same. All we need now are novelisations of the TV stories by Paul Magrs.

(6) Comments

May 26, 2005

Adric Lives!!!

Actor Matthew Waterhouse, who played Adric in the original tv series, makes his Canadian convention debut this summer, as he is a guest of Toronto Trek, the annual sci-fi convention.

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Toronto Trek will be held on July 15-17 at the Doubletree International
Plaza Hotel, Toronto Airport. Cost is $55cdn ($47US) for the weekend by
pre-registration (deadline: May 31st), $65 at the door. Other guests include Barry “Victor” Morse of Space: 1999 fame, Katie “Starbuck” Sackhoff from the new Battlestar Galactica, Rene Auberjonois (Odo from Star Trek Deep Space Nine, or as I’ve always known him, Clayton Endicott III from Benson) and other guests from Buffy, Stargate and Earth Final Conflict. 

Plus 7 author guests and over 200 hours of other events and activities.
More details and pre-registration info (paypal accepted) at www.tcon.ca

(5) Comments

May 24, 2005

The Gallifrey Chronicles

is now available, or will be very soon. I’ve ordered my copy, and I’d advise you to do the same.

This is it. Does the Doctor regain his memories? Will Fitz ever play the guitar again? Which old faces will make a return? What about Gallifrey? Read this book if you care at all about the Eighth Doctor books, which are ending after exactly eight years of magic, amazement, and memory loss.

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(5) Comments

May 17, 2005

Shaun of the Who

Simon Pegg, star of the hit film Shaun of the Dead guest stars in The Long Game, tonight’s episode of Doctor Who on CBC (8pm).  If viewers in BC are not already aware, due to live coverage of the BC Provincial Election The Long Game will not be shown on CBC stations in BC tonight, but on Saturday May 21st at 5pm Pacific time.


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(3) Comments

May 16, 2005

How Times Change…Or Not

new dvd.jpgThe latest controversy, if it can be called that, is that the upcoming DVD releases will be given a “12” Certificate in Britain, that is it’s not to be shown to children under 12. According to Outpost Gallifrey the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) did this based on the episodes The Unquiet Dead and Dalek—the latter being particularly slated for its scenes where the Doctor taunts the Dalek. This apparently sets a bad example where “violence and cruelty [is] a way of dealing with problems”.

As producer Russell T Davies points out, it does seem a bit unfair since the stories on here don’t have the swearing and violence that many things that get this classification. Even the Times have an editorial criticizing the BBFC for this ruling.

But…weren’t we here almost a decade ago? Back when the last Doctor Who revival was happening (you remember it, the one that lasted a month or so in 1996 and yet took up the next nine years of books), the BBFC offered the video of the TV movie a 12 certificate only if it actually cut—like the televised version in Britain—scenes of violence during the shoot-out when Chang-Lee’s friends are killed and during the operating room scene when the Seventh Doctor dies. It was a month or two after the Dunblane massacre and people were very spooked about gun violence. The threat was that if cuts were not made it would receive a 14 certificate, which would have wreaked havoc with the BBC’s plans to air the TV Movie on the May Bank Holiday in a pre-watershed timeslot by releasing a version on video with stronger violence content than the version televised. So the videos—which were going to be released a month or so before (indeed it was meant to be a way for BBC Worldwide to make some money back on their investment in the TV movie)—had to be reduplicated which meant they were now only available days before the TV movie aired. (The local East London supermarket I used to go to when I lived there for two years had two lonely unbought copies the entire time I was there).

So here we are again. Compared to what happened in 1996, I think this is hardly a tragedy or a scandal at all. I frankly think those DVDs should wear those 12 certificates like a badge of honour.

(5) Comments

May 10, 2005

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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(4) Comments

May 07, 2005

Web of Lies (new series spoilers!)

Aside from giving us a wonderful new series, the BBC are really going for value-added content in a big way. Just look at the official site to get an idea of what I mean.

In the run up to the new series, much bitching abounded regarding the content the BBC’s own Doctor Who page. Let’s face it, Who Spy was about as thrilling as pictures of cameras and cups of tea. Probably because it was pictures of cameras and cups of tea. Since the first UK broadcast the site has had a weekly front-page redesign, lots of behind-the-scenes material added, tantalising glimpses of running themes, even a Dalek game!

Best of all are the spoof sites (some of which also contain spoilers!) From the start, Clive’s website has really existed and is updated nearly every week. Geocomtex from Dalek have their own site, as does UNIT. Most intriguing of all, and frustratingly devoid of content right now, is this site. Has this been registered by the BBC, or an enthusiastic fan? Time will tell…

(2) Comments

May 05, 2005

Hail to the Dalek!

In honour of the might, history and lore of the Dalek Empire I’ve surrendered the Blog Banner to them.  Welcome back!

I was a bit worried about how the New Series would handle the return of the Daleks and (re-)introduce The Evil Pepper Pots to a world where Battlestar Galacticas and Episode III’s run wild.  You can quote Jubilee, argue Genesis, and slag Rememberance all you want, in the end DALEK stands on it’s own two feet (if it had any), and fulfills the apprehensive “introduction mandate”. From here the series can go any way it wants with the Daleks, and I look forward to being along for the ride.  Nice work Rob, RTD, BBC et al.

Long Live The Daleks!

(7) Comments

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