Which may seem an odd thing to say, as I’m obviously typing this, but honestly, I’m finally at a point in Doctor Who where I am a living person. Only two months old, mind, when episode one of The Three Doctors was transmitted, but alive nonetheless! Woo! So, onto the review… Um. First of all, despite all protestations to the contrary, The Three Doctors is not the tenth anniversary story. For one thing it began transmission just under a year before the tenth anniversary, and season ten itself finished transmitting a good five months before the anniversary. If anything, it’s a celebration of nine years. Sorry, but it is. Who celebrates a birthday eleven months early?
Guys and gals, we need your help! We, at Candy Jar Books, are in the process of putting together a brand new website for Lethbridge-Stewart. One section will be a memorial where fans and professionals can share their memories and pictures of the late, great Nicholas Courtney, the man behind the Brigadier.
If you have a story, or a picture, to share, then please email them to me on firstname.lastname@example.org (subject: Nick Courtney Memories). Look forward to hearing from you. 🙂
I have much to say about season eight, say you may want to grab a cuppa and get comfortable. For a start, it almost feels like a completely different show. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, though, since Doctor Who has survived for so long because of its ability to renew itself from time to time. But this is a different kind of reshaping.
Most of the elements that made the previous season such a success are still here, only the tone of the show is so different that it feels like everything has completely changed. The Doctor is still working alongside UNIT, only now he seems quite comfortable in his position. He says he’s trying to repair his TARDIS, and we do see him working on it, but there’s no sense of urgency to his desire to leave Earth – even though he does take a couple of opportunities to escape the planet as soon they present themselves. Each time he ends up back on Earth, and despite his words, his tone and smile implies that he’s really not bothered. If the Doctor’s attitude has changed since we last saw him, then so has UNIT’s. They seem much more relaxed as an organisation – cosy, to use a word that’s bandied about a lot when talking about the Pertwee era. And it’s true. The Brigadier is no longer the only regular officer; he now has Captain Yates as his second, and Sergeant Benton truly becomes a series regular this season. There’s an attempt to extend the ‘UNIT family’ a little further with the introduction of Corporal Bell in The Mind of Evil, but alas she only appears in one more story. Which is a shame. We don’t see much of her character, but it stands to reason that the HQ staff would be the same story by story, and so having familiar faces around makes sense. Alas, beyond the Brigadier, Yates and Benton all we have is the Doctor and Jo. Oh yes, Jo.
Now, I like Jo. Always have. It’s very easy to develop a soft spot for her. She’s so sweet, initially quite naïve, but over time she wins you over with her honesty and obviously love for the Doctor. But her introduction helps to soften up the whole UNIT scenario, adding a very human face to the organisation and serves to anchor the Doctor to Earth even more (curiously doing the exact opposite to what the production team wanted – they were very keen on getting the Doctor off Earth again!). But she’s no Liz. Which is a shame, as I mentioned in the previous season review. I liked the new dynamic, of the Doctor actually having a companion (or assistant, really, in Liz’s case) who was an adult, someone with their own mind and own objectives. Our first bona fide adult companion since Ian & Barbara left. Yes, I know Steven was an adult, but he wasn’t really written in any way equal to the Doctor, whereas Ian & Barbara were never second fiddle to the Doctor, and likewise neither was Liz. But Jo… For all her loveliness, she’s not an adult, but a girl in her late teens with an awful lot to learn. And so we’re brought back to the dynamic of Doctor/Companion we’ve seen time and time again. Luckily the chemistry behind Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning is such that this never becomes an issue, and they sell her completely. Initially he’s frustrated by her, as she does her best to prove herself as a valid UNIT agent, but he slowly softens up and warms to her.
The Brigadier has also changed since we last saw him. As I pointed out, in season seven he very clearly kept the Doctor around for his own purposes. There was no actual friendship between them. But from the outset of this season you can see a friendship there. Sure, it’s still charged at times, a mutual frustration between the two men, both of whom think they’re in charge, but there’s a nice sense of familiarity that wasn’t really there before. Again, this rather suggest a lot transpired between seasons. Another thing I’ve realised about the Brigadier – he really doesn’t believe a word the Doctor has said about the TARDIS or his travels through time. At this point he just accepts what the Doctor says, but really thinks the man is just an eccentric alien, a brilliant one at that, who happens to own a police box. The first time the Brigadier actually sees the TARDIS is in the lab in Spearhead from Space, and he doesn’t even witness it materialise (with a pop! for some reason) until Colony in Space (which is, in narrative terms, at least six years after he first learned of the TARDIS in The Web of Fear). And the Doctor’s line to Jo just after returning from the future says it all; the Brigadier would never believe where they’ve been. As we later learn, the Brigadier really has little idea of what really exist inside the box. I suspect the Brigadier even believes the Doctor built the console while at UNIT.
This season is also notable for introducing the Master to the series. Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks decided the Doctor needed his own Moriarty – a mirror opposite. And so the Master was created, another Time Lord in a similar mould to the War Chief from The War Games. (It’s of no surprise that a large section of fandom believe them to the be the same character – they certainly share a lot of similarities, alas the War Chief may be aware of the Doctor, but it’s very clear from their initial dialogue that the two men have never actually met before The War Games.) The Master is an old friend of the Doctor who is out for universal domination and to just generally cause problems for the Doctor. The only downside with the Master as a recurring villain in season eight is the ease with which he has always beaten, and how often he had to team up with the Doctor to defeat the aliens he brings to Earth. This does somewhat weaken him, and suggests, as many commentators have said over the years, that it’s just some game between the Doctor and the Master. With hindsight, Dicks and Letts have gone on record to say they believe having the Master in every story of season eight was a mistake. There was a time I agreed with them, until this rewatch. I’ve found, to my surprise, that it actually works and creates the first proper season arc since the first season (in which the arc was the Doctor trying to return Ian & Barbara home). The ongoing story of UNIT being on the watch-out for the Master adds a nice layer to the season, creating nice sense of continuity between the stories, given it an almost Nu Who feel. Unfortunately, Colony in Space rather spoils that, other than the bookend scenes with the Brigadier in which he mentions they’re following up reports on Master sightings. Taking the Doctor from UNIT at that point, in the middle of such an arc, only succeeds in damaging the pace of the ongoing story, and when the Master happens to turn up on the same planet… Well, it makes no logical sense at all, and just feels so contrived. With the Master being captured by UNIT at the end of The Dæmons they create a sense of completion, leaving the viewers feeling that that we really have followed a season long story. One with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Just a pity Colony in Space exists in the season, really.
A word on the ratings. They were high! Better than Doctor Who has had in a very long time, and by far the most consistently rated series in about four years. Whether you like the ‘dumbing down’ of UNIT and the softening of the tone, and I’m still in two minds about it since I adore season seven’s tone, there’s no doubt that what Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks did was create a very successful formula that secured Doctor Who as a real hit once again.
A quick mention of links to the Lethbridge-Stewart series of books (because, you know, it’s how I make my living)… In The Daemons the Doctor points out the Brigadier would have made a good accountant, and later the Brig says he should have run a bank instead. All this suggests the Brigadier is very good with numbers, which makes perfect sense as the Lethbridge-Stewart books reveal he did originally train to be a maths teacher. Another subtle link is the final scene of season eight, reportedly written by Richard Franklin and Nicholas Courtney themselves, in which Yates jokingly asks the Brig if he wants a dance, to which the Brigadier says he’d rather a pint. And thus why, when he arrives in Bledoe in The Forgotten Son, the first thing he does is say he could do with a pint. And, of course, the Brigadier’s lack of belief in half of what the Doctor says is echoed in the Lethbridge-Stewart books: ‘Really, Miss Travers, next thing you know you’ll be expecting a police box to turn up, too.’ Lethbridge-Stewart could tell Miss Travers was disappointed with his response, but he still wasn’t convinced by the idea of time travel, regardless of what Professor Travers had once told him.
And so to the countdown. Well, to be honest choosing a worst and best is incredibly easy. I have a little more trouble with the middle stories (well, second and third best), and they may well change next time I watch it. From worst (and, I’m sorry, but I can’t say least favourite as Colony in Space is just a very dull story, with very little to recommend it) to best, then:
It’s been a little while since my last post, so a quick update.
I have just finished watching season seven of Doctor Who, so I’ll be adding new entries for both seasons six and seven soon. The entries have been delayed by work on my next Lethbridge-Stewart novel, Beast of Fang Rock, which, much like Horror of Fang Rock back in the ’70s, has come about due a lost (manu)script and is, thus, a last minute replacement. All this means a shift of focus for me, and a quick turnaround.
As such I’ve been heavily involved in the writing of Beast, with 17,978 words written in the first week. Which is not bad going, considering the amount of research needed to get this book right. Research which includes reading up a lot on lighthouses, visiting them, and watching all kinds of documentaries. All this plus the usual research for a book that takes place in the late ’60s.
I can’t tell you too much about it at the moment, except that it is not only a sequel to Horror of Fang Rock, but also serves as a prequel, revolving as it does around the legend of Fang Rock as told by Reuben in the Doctor Who serial. The mysterious Beast that prowled the rocks in the 1820s, claiming the lives of two keepers and driving a third out of his mind. I can also tell you that I have the ear of Terrance Dicks during the writing, with him passing comment on its development. His role in the book is not as big as we’d hoped, however, due to his other commitments. We also have the cover all ready to go, which Terrance has called ‘powerful stuff’. The cover is by a Doctor Who artist of some repute, and we look forward to sharing it with you very soon. (A very minor piece of it is displayed above, and the ‘title card’ is below. Hints are always fun!) And as I like to do, I can share with you the names of the cast (as it currently stands):
Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart
Lance Corporal William Bishop
Corporal Sally Wright
Dr Gautum Jhaveri
Lord Henry Palmerdale
For now I’ll leave those names with you, let you make of them what you will…
It’s with great pleasure we can finally unveil the cover for the next book in the Lethbridge-Stewart series; The Schizoid Earth by David A McIntee…
“Lethbridge-Stewart was supposed to be in the mountains of the east. Things didn’t quite go according to plan.
On the eve of war, something appeared in the sky; a presence that blotted out the moon. Now it has returned, and no battle plan can survive first contact with this enemy.
Plagued by nightmares of being trapped in a past that never happened, Lethbridge-Stewart must unravel the mystery of a man ten years out of his time; a man who cannot possibly still exist.
Why do the ghosts of fallen soldiers still fight long-forgotten battles against living men? What is the secret of the rural English town of Deepdene? Lethbridge-Stewart has good reason to doubt his own sanity, but is he suffering illness or injury, or is something more sinister going on?”
David A McIntee has written novels for Star Trek, Final Destination and Space: 1999 and over fifteen books and audio dramas for Doctor Who since 1993, including the Brigadier-centric novel, The Face of the Enemy. David said: “To be honest it (the series) is something I’m amazed hasn’t been done before – it’s just such a natural and obvious thing. The form it’s taking is also cool because it has the flexibility to move between styles and genres – thriller, SF, horror, etc – while maintaining a definite identity. As for the Brig himself, he’s one of those characters where the casting was so perfect that it just made the character so memorable, and who (usually) feels so right.”
The cover art is by Nathan Hudson, who works for Cosgrove Hall as a background artist. Cosgrove Hall is the animation company who produced the animated episodes for the DVD release of the 1969 Doctor Who adventure The Invasion, which featured Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and the first appearance of UNIT. Nathan has worked previously with Candy Jar Books as the cover artist for the runaway time travel hit Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You and the acclaimed See You in September.
The Schizoid Earth also features an exclusive foreword written by Amanda Haisman, daughter of Lethbridge-Stewart creator Mervyn Haisman, in which she publicly talks about her father and the legend he created for Doctor Who.
The next in the series (due out in September) is Beast of Fang Rock by Andy Frankham-Allen and Terrance Dicks, followed by Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters.
Andy Frankham-Allen has been a Doctor Who fan since his childhood. Andy is the former line editor of Untreed Reads Publishing’s series Space: 1889 & Beyond, and has penned several Doctor WhoShort Trip stories for Big Finish and Candy Jar’s Lethbridge-Stewart: The Forgotten Son, as well as Companions: Fifty Years of Doctor Who Assistants. He said: “There’s been such a warm reception to the first book, I must thank everybody for all their kind words. My next book is a dream come true. It’s an idea I’ve had rattling around in my head since 1998, so it’s great privilege to be able to make it a reality, and even more so due to Terrance Dicks’ involvement with it.”
Nick Walters has written five novels for Doctor Who since 1998. Nick said: “After the Doctor himself the Brigadier is the best-loved character in Doctor Who. I met Nick Courtney a number of times and he really is a splendid fellow. He brought a real humanity and vulnerability to the role without compromising the essential toughness of the character. Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart is the chap you’d want on your side in a fight – any fight – and it is a real privilege to be exploring what made him into the character we came to know and love.”
The story of Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart is fully licensed by the Executor of the Haisman Literary Estate, Mervyn Haisman’s granddaughter Hannah Haisman, and endorsed by Henry Lincoln.
The Schizoid Earth can now be pre-ordered directly from Candy Jar, on it’s own or as part of two different bundles…
I am very pleased to announce another freebie — this time an Easter thank you from everybody at Candy Jar Books. An eBook introductory pack for the Lethbridge-Stewart series.
The ebook includes:
The Ambush! – A short story originally published in Doctor Who Magazine #438, now extended with new scenes. It is set during the Doctor Who serial The Web of Fear, and serves as an introduction to the Lethbridge-Stewart book series.
We Won’t Let Him Down – An extended version of the final chapter of Candy Jar Books’ Companions: Fifty Years of Doctor Who Assistants, focussing solely on the television adventures of the Brigadier.
What Lies Beyond – A brief look at some of the Doctor Who novels that have featured the Brigadier over the years that pertain to the future of the Lethbridge-Stewart series of novels.
Graeme Harper – An extended interview with Doctor Who director Graeme Harper (the only director to have worked on the classic series and the revived series) from the book Calling the Shots, in which he talks about Nicholas Courtney, the man who brought the Brigadier to life.
Original Prelude – Never-before-seen original prelude that was written to open The Forgotten Son, set during the final moments of the Brigadier’s life.
The New World – The opening chapter of The Forgotten Son, the first novel in the Lethbridge-Stewart series.
The Lethbridge-Stewart ebook can be downloaded for free as a pdf from Candy Jar Books or downloaded for 99p on Kindle from Amazon.
We can also announce that sadly Lance Parkin is stepping away from the project for the moment. Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, said: “Lance is such a huge talent in the world of Doctor Who and we have left the door open for him to return. Hopefully, one day, Lethbridge-Stewart will make it to Det-Sen.”
As a result we’ve had re-organise our 2015 release schedule, bringing forward David A McIntee’s The Schizoid Earth. A replacement novel will follow a few months later, which is a prequel/sequel to Terrance Dicks’ acclaimed 1977 Doctor Who serial, Horror of Fang Rock which starred Tom Baker. Beast of Fang Rock will be written by Terrance Dicks and me. And, as originally planned, 2015 will still be rounded off with Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters.
And the news doesn’t end there. We are finally able to announce the details of our authors for the 2016 schedule. They are, in no particular order;
John Peel (whose Doctor Who books include the first original novel published by Virgin Books in 1991 and the critically acclaimed War of the Daleks, as well as novelisations of four Dalek serials from the 1960s)
Jonathan Cooper (ex-Doctor Who correspondent with the Mirror.co.uk and author of two Space: 1889 novels)
Adrian Rigelsford (author of the aborted thirtieth anniversary special The Dark Dimension, and Doctor Who reference books The Hinchcliffe Years and The Harper Classics).
David A McIntee (our first returning author, this time with an authorised prequel to one of the most epic Doctor Who adventures of the 1960s).
So, exciting times ahead! In the meantime, while I edit David’s book and work on Beast of Fang Rock with Terrance, I hope you enjoy the free eBook. More special releases coming soon from this site!
And so, the results are in. Over two hundred voted, and the ‘best era by producer’ has been decided by the fans. And the winner is, by quite a stretch, Philip Hinchcliffe who produced Tom Baker’s first three years as the Doctor.
Interestingly John Nathan-Turner, the man who saw Doctor Who to its initial conclusion in 1989, came second place with Russell T Davies who brought Doctor Who triumphantly back to our screens in 2005.
In other news, plans for Lethbridge-Stewart continue apace with, currently, eight books in various stages of production. Included in this list of books are five authors new to the range — the names of which will be announced soon! Also coming soon, brand new cover art, blurb for the next title, and a very special something for fans of the series.
Well, it’s a lovely sunny Spring Saturday (ah, alliteration!), so I decided to offer you wonderful people who’ve been saying such nice things about my book a little insight into what might have been…
Three scenes deleted from the final manuscript of The Forgotten Son. Two underwent massive rewrites, while the third was completely excised, although it still fits in the book continuity so it can be considered canon if you like. 🙂
Hope you all enjoy, but be warned, if you haven’t read the book, there will be SPOILERS within.
We all like a little bit of free reading material, right? Well, that’s good as I have something free to give to whoever wants it.
A Brief History of the Lethbridge-Stewarts is a little work of fiction, an excerpt from a larger fictional book by everybody’s favourite irritating journalist, Harold Chorley! It’s ‘in-universe’, which means officially part of the Lethbridge-Stewart canon and gives a few hints at the larger picture of the series.
The Forgotten Son has been out almost three weeks (or more, if you pre-ordered it) and it has garnered a lot of positive feedback, with mostly four-star reviews. People seem to really love it, which bodes well for the series as a whole.
But there is one point raised by a few readers which I want to address here. In The Forgotten Son I establish that Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart was born in Cornwall. This has confused some readers, who tell me ‘but he’s Scottish’. Which leaves me to wonder; is he? From where did you get this information?
My first source of reference is, and always will be, the television series. I have watched every story featuring the Brigadier many times, not only since 1988 when I was first introduced to the character, but also for research purposes. The only story which even suggests his origins is Terror of the Zygons, the season thirteen opener which is set in Scotland. In the early moments of the episode the Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive at the Fox Inn to find the Brigadier in a kilt. What follows is this conversation:
SARAH: Anyway, it’s nice to see you again, Brigadier.
BRIGADIER: And you, Miss Smith.
SARAH: Though I didn’t expect to see you in a kilt.
BRIGADIER: My dear Miss Smith, as you remember, my name is Lethbridge-Stewart. The Clan Stewart.
SARAH: Oh, sorry. I thought you were doing a Doctor.
BRIGADIER: What an absurd idea.
At the end of the story, the Duke of Forgil questions the Brigadier for not taking back the Doctor and Sarah’s return tickets to British Rail and getting a refund; ‘I thought you were a Scotsman,’ he says, and receives a bemused smirk from the Brigadier.
From these two exchanges it would appear that many have drawn the conclusion that the Brigadier is Scottish. Which is, on the surface, fair enough. (Of course, that he was originally in the Scots Guards could be used to back up this conclusion, except not every officer in the Scots Guards is Scottish.) However, a few points seem to be ignored when drawing this conclusion. The Brigadier does not sound Scottish in the slightest, which at least suggests he was not raised in Scotland or the north of England, and, most importantly, his name.
I looked it up, trying to discover where ‘Lethbridge’ originates, and it would appear to have come from a place name in Devon that no longer exists. The family name was derived from this place and has, over the centuries, been altered to the current form of ‘Lethbridge’. Indeed, to this day, the Lethbridge Baronets are a large and distinguished part of Devon heritage. From this it is clear that at least half of the Brigadier’s ancestry is English, while the other half is, as stated in Terror of the Zygons, Scottish as a once-part of the Clan Stewart.
None of which suggests he was necessarily born in Scotland – granted, beyond his accent, there’s nothing to suggest he wasn’t born in Scotland either. So, taking my cue from other Doctor Who media beyond the TV, I decided that the Brigadier wasn’t born in Scotland at all, as his accent suggests – an accent refined by schooling, no doubt. I went for Cornwall simply because of its proximity to Devon and the fact that the Brigadier always seems so at home whenever we see in villages on television.
As an interesting addition, in Lance Parkin’s The Dying Days, published in 1997, we learn about William Lethbridge-Stewart who was a friend of King James VI. Seeing no reason to contradict this, I have merged this information with soon-to-be established information, as seen in this excerpt from a yet-to-be released document called A Brief History of the Lethbridge-Stewarts:
‘The first recorded Lethbridge-Stewart was William Stewart, born in 1567. He was of the Clan Stewart, a relative of the Stuart Kings of Scotland. He grew up to be friends with James VI, and was with him when the young king claimed the English throne after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. By this time William had already met and married Mary Lethbridge, the daughter of the influential Lethbridge family in England – a marriage that was only approved on the condition that the Lethbridge name be maintained in conjunction with the Stewart name.’
And thus the ancestry of the Brigadier is explained in a way that does not contradict what’s been established on television, and successfully extrapolates information given and real life fact.
As an aside, William Lethbridge-Stewart was, one imagines, named after Nicholas Courtney himself, whose full name was William Nicholas Stone Courtney. Naming fictional characters after the real life people who inspired them is a fine tradition of authors all over the world, and one I like to keep alive. Indeed, in the Lethbridge-Stewart series I have named several characters after real people, or people that are connected to those who inspire the characters. Like Colonel Pemberton, a character referenced in the television story, The Web of Fear, who was named by writer Mervyn Haisman after his good friend Victor Pemberton, Doctor Who author and script editor. As a tribute to Pemberton’s life-partner I christened the character with the full name of Spencer David Pemberton (Victor’s partner was actor/producer David Spenser, who died in July 2013). There are other characters inspired by real people in The Forgotten Son – whoever can name the most, will receive a special prize from me (responses in the comments below, or email me: email@example.com).