Tag Archives: The Web of Fear

DOCTOR WHO RE-WATCH – SEASON SEVEN

This season,  more than any other,  is very important to me at the moment. Along with season six’s The Invasion and season five’s The Web of Fear, season seven is the template for the Lethbridge-Stewart series of novels – in tone and style. When Doctor Who felt properly adult, a serious Earth-based science fiction series. It has all the best elements of shows like Adam Adamant Lives!, Department S, Danger Man, The Avengers… And season seven is one of my all-time favourites of Doctor Who. Which makes selecting a favourite story very difficult indeed!

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After season six, this season is something of a shock to the system. It almost feels like an entirely new series, more so than ever before. The first use of colour helps to set it apart, but it’s also the aforementioned style and tone of the series. Granted, much of the style seen this season is evident in The Invasion, but the tone of that serial matched the rest of season six. Here though, the tone is mature, serious science fiction, dealing with the world of the now (even though the UNIT-era was supposedly a ‘near future’ version of Earth). The Doctor here is so very different from how he’ll be in the following four seasons — and it’s not just because of character development. It’s how he’s written, how he’s performed. There is a serious, almost snobbish, side to this Doctor that is a far cry from the… I want to say caricature… of himself he becomes later. All the elements that form that caricature are here, but they’re subtle, not played for laughs. There no sense of the ‘homely’ about this season of UNIT stories. There’s no friendship or sparring between the Doctor and the Brigadier, just a grudging acceptance of the situation they are in. That they are both stuck with each other, because they both know they can be a good deal of use to the other. The Doctor needs the Brigadier and UNIT because he has nowhere else to go, and can use their facilities to help repair the TARDIS. The Brigadier needs the Doctor because of his experience and scientific know-how, and besides, rather the Doctor assist him and UNIT then assist somebody else.

Plus, this season has Liz. Easily the most grown up companion since Ian & Barbara left back in ’65. From the moment she walks through the doors of the Brigadier’s office, Caroline John convinces as a very intelligent woman who knows she is better than UNIT. Her relationship with the Doctor is very sound, too. Clearly she knows the Doctor’s knowledge of science far exceeds her own, but they treat each other as equals, typified in the scene in Doctor Who and the Silurians where they work together to find a cure for the plague — no words are needed, they work in silence, both fully aware of the ability of the other. It is a great shame Liz is only in this season, that incoming producer Barry Letts decided he wanted someone less intelligent as a companion. As great as Jo proves to be in the following years, the dynamic between the Doctor and Liz deserved further exploration. I’d argue, the greater challenge would be to find stories that served these characters, instead of getting rid of Liz and lowering the tone to something a bit more homely. But then, I suppose, it was partly that cosy family feel of the UNIT era that made the Third Doctor’s time such a huge success. And it was. The most successful period of Doctor Who since Dalekmania in the mid-’60s.

As for the stories. Only four are on offer, alas. Three of which are seven-part stories to spread the budget and because, as proven, the ratings almost always seem to go down after the first episode of any given story. Thus it was reasoned less episode ones, less chance of the ratings dipping. They were right. Even at its weakest, season seven out-performed season six. So, although we only get four stories, we can four very strong stories. There really isn’t a dud between them. Autons, Silurians, radioactive aliens who are actually friendly, and a parallel Earth where the danger is found to be the planet itself. And man’s arrogance. A common theme this season. Indeed, other than Spearhead from Space, every story this season is a result of ego, avarice — the evil of men.

So, how do I pick a favourite? The only way I can, by picking the very first Jon Pertwee story I saw. Way back in 1988 on VHS…

In order of least preference then:

  • Doctor Who and the Silurians
  • Inferno
  • The Ambassadors of Death

Which only leaves…

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DOCTOR WHO RE-WATCH – SEASON FIVE

secondbannerWe are so very lucky to have so much of season five available to us on DVD. There was a time when all we had was The Tomb of the Cybermen, and over twenty years ago we didn’t even have that! In late-2012, early-2013 I had to re-watch the entire series for my book Companions, and during that re-watch the only way I could research season five was with audio soundtracks and reconstructions online! Two years on…?

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Thanks to some wonderful animation we have The Ice Warriors complete, and with the discovery of The Enemy of the World and most of The Web of Fear in late 2013, we now have over half of that season on DVD! Yay? Oh god, yes!

What with the huge gap of missing stories through season three and, especially, season four, we don’t really get to see the development of the series, only snapshots here and there. As such re-watching season five is almost like watching a completely different show. Yes, it’s still features the Doctor and the TARDIS, but in every way that counts it feels different. The performances are more polished, the scripts more coherent and layered, the direction is smart with some really fantastic location work peppered throughout. And then there’s Jamie… In the small amount of material we have from season four we don’t get to see a lot of Jamie. In The Moonbase, the only full Troughton story available on DVD (completed with animated episodes) Jamie is not in it a great deal, and when he is he’s mostly been given lines originally written for Ben and Polly. But in season five his full character hits you in the face — the humour, the loyalty, the protectiveness… For the Second Doctor there is no doubt that Jamie is the companion (and hardly surprising as he was in all but one Second Doctor adventure).

It is so very difficult to choose a favourite story from season five. I thought adding the orphaned Moonbase might help, but it really doesn’t as the quality of that story only adds to the superiority of the fifth season. I can honestly say that, as of now, season five is right up there among my favourite season of Who, sitting alongside such greats as seasons one, seven, thirteen, and twenty-six. Which is new, as season six used to be my favourite of Troughton — mostly by default as that season almost exists in its entirety.  So, to my favourite story… I feel an obligation to pick The Web of Fear out of fealty to the Haismans and my connection with them, and of course the historical first appearance of Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, but I have to be honest in my re-watch and consider what else is around that story. With The Moonbase included I have five extremely good productions to pick from…

And this is my, very difficulty chosen, run down of season five (a list of all brilliant stories!):

  • The Tomb of the Cybermen
  • The Moonbase
  • The Ice Warriors
  • The Web of Fear

… which makes the winner David Whitaker’s tour-de-force

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LETHBRIDGE-STEWART LAUNCHES

LSbanThe day is here. After almost eight months, Lethbridge-Stewart the series officially begins today. Pre-orders have been shipping the past week, but today is the day that sees the first book in the series available to the public at large. It’s been quite a long journey, but worth every second, although now the book is out there I’m in a position of waiting to see how well I, and the rest of the team at Candy Jar Books, have done my job. Reviews have started coming in, and here are a select few from pre-order readers:

It felt like I was watching it on television, picturing it clearly in my mind’s eye as I was reading, hearing the characters’ voices as I watched the events unfold.  Much like The Sarah Jane Adventures offered a deeper look into one of the Doctor’s best loved companions; Lethbridge-Stewart offers a deeper understanding of one of his greatest human allies. – Katt at Nerdversity

A very good launch to a new series of books looking at Lethbridge-Stewart’s history between The Web of Fear and The Invasion. Very well written, if you know your Who you’ll probably be one step ahead of Alistair, if you don’t you’ll enjoy it just the same. Well recommended. – Goodreads’ reader.

Screenshot 2015-02-24 15.35.50I did have a worry that like some of the New Adventures – which I think I read somewhere was an inspiration to the author – this story wouldn’t fit in with the fictional universe of Doctor Who in the 1960s – by being too modern in its approach. But this achieves the aim of presenting something broader and deeper (to coin a phrase from the NA series) than ‘60s Who without compromising its style and principles. I almost felt this was the novelisation of a spin off series broadcast just after the watershed on a Sunday in 1968 – faithful to its time but still doing something a little different than the parent series. – Reviewer on GallifreyBase Forum

With a number of mysterious layers to intrigue and entice, the puzzle over the colonel’s background and the disappearance of a dead soldier to keep you guessing, The Forgotten Son is a superb opener to the series, mixing recognisable Who lore, suppositions by cast members, tear-jerking dedications, a foreword by the great Terrance Dicks, and the familiar smile of the man we came to know as the Brigadier. – Kasterborous

10947198_10152633322626190_5616946692644792625_n… Which do rather suggest that it’s not a bad book. I certainly hope so. In many ways this is the culmination of my journey as a writer thus far, where my professional career smashes head first into the most important fictional escapism I had growing up. And, of course, from a fan point of view, I am aware of how many people are invested in the lead character and the responsibility resting on The Forgotten Son as the first book in the series.

The book can picked up from any book shop (although they’ll probably need to order it in), with digital editions available from all good eBook stockists. You can buy the paperback online direct from Candy Jar Books, or various retailers via Amazon, and places like the Book Depository.

Alternatively, if you can wait until Saturday, you can drop by The Who Shop in London and buy a copy there, and get it signed by not only me, but Terrance Dicks, Ralph Watson (who played Captain Knight in The Web of Fear), Hannah Haisman and, if you time it right, maybe even get a scribble from David A McIntee and Nick Walters. We’ll be there from 13:30 to 15:00.

News Update – Lethbridge-Stewart and Space: 1889 & Beyond

merryxmasFirst of all, a very Merry Christmas to all my readers. I hope you all get a chance to spend the festive time with your loved ones, get some lovely presents (including many books!) and have a most awesome New Year!

Over at Type 40, the Doctor Who blog run by me on behalf of Candy Jar Books, we’ve arranged a very special Christmas gift for fans of Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart and The Web of Fear; an exclusive interview with Hannah Haisman, the Executor of Mervyn Haisman’s Estate and the licensor of the Lethbridge-Stewart book series.

badgeSpeaking of the series. Plans are gathering apace; we have a special gift coming early next year to precede the release of the first novel, although I can’t say what it is at this time, but I think it’s something a lot of long-time Who fans will truly love. We’ve also got five books planned for 2016 — yup, we’re planning on moving up to five books a year, although the fifth book of 2016 will be a special event that fans will be able to interact with. More news on that coming late 2015! Of the four novels planned for 2016 we’ve got three of the four authors confirmed, with the fourth confirmation imminent. As per our forthcoming 2015 series, it will feature three names well known to Who fans, bringing back authors who’ve been missing from Who prose for way too long. These authors will probably be announced in the summer of 2015, when the writing of our 2016 season begins. As well as the three ‘big names’, we’ll have a brand new name to Who prose, although this author has form, with novels published elsewhere. Part of our mandate is to introduce new authors, not only new to Who (although possibly established elsewhere) but giving new authors their first published work. It’s something Doctor Who has been doing since 1988, and it’s a tradition we intend to keep up. Without such a policy the world may never have experienced the works of such names as Paul Cornell or Ben Aaronovitch. We’re also mindful of the limited number of female writers in the worlds of Doctor Who, and so we hope, with our increase to five novels a year from 2017, we’ll have more opportunities to vary our author selection to include established names, first-time authors, and bring more female authors to the series. On top of all that, very provisional plans are being made and storylines discussed with authors for the 2017 and 2018 seasons – assuming, of course, the series continues that long. I choose to believe it will. 😉

LogoBeyond_2In other news, the end of the current series of Space: 1889 & Beyond has been officially announced in a somewhat unplanned way on Facebook (the first I knew was when I happened across the post two days ago). This statement was made by Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads: ‘Dear Space: 1889 & Beyond Readers: Due to various reasons, Untreed Reads will not be releasing new titles in the series moving forward. However, this does not mean the series will be ending altogether! Stay tuned to this page as things continue to develop. Thanks so much for your support over the last few years!’ One day I will go into these ‘various reasons’, but for now all I will say that it was a mutual decision made by all the authors of the series following a long period of dissatisfaction with the lack of marketing and promotion for the series, which ultimately affected sales in a detrimental way. The Facebook page has been shut down for now, although it will be re-activated at some point in the near future. As intimated above, none of this means the series as a whole is over… Plans are, tentatively, afoot for a print run of the series, which will lead to the eventual continuation of the mission of HMAS Sovereign and her gallant crew as they traverse the aether beyond the asteroid belt. As well as these we hope to release a series of stand-alone novels set elsewhere in the fictional universe of Space: 1889 & Beyond, making the property more accessible to those unwilling to commit to a serialised set of novels. Alas, until these plans are confirmed and the legal side of things sorted out (which could take a while – red tape being what it is!), it could be a while before the series is taken out of the limbo it has found itself in. Until then, the series continues to remain on sale in digital form, which allows everybody a chance to catch up. 🙂

So, the year ends with a bit of a mixed bag. As one series of novels ends (for now) I find myself moving from one range to another, with the arrival of Lethbridge-Stewart. It’s sad that Space: 1889 & Beyond has temporarily ended like this, as we all spent a lot of time and effort on that series, and I feel we created some really good stories and made some nice in-roads with great themes and characters. But, the future looks bright for me as I guide a legend of Doctor Who and get to work with some authors who inspired me back in the ’90s and I get the joy of bringing back some of the best Who authors out there, some of which have been sadly neglected by Doctor Who prose since 2005.

See you in the New Year!

Andy Frankham-Allen 😀

 

PROJECT HUSH-HUSH Unveiled!

And finally I can reveal the secret behind Project Hush-Hush. Five months of secrecy and this is what it’s all about.

It’s with immense pride I’m able to announce that…

LETHBRIDGE-STEWART IS RETURNING

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What follows is the official press release…

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Every legend has a beginning, and for Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart it was in the London Underground.

Candy Jar Books is very proud to present Lethbridge-Stewart, a new series of novels revealing the untold story of Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart set shortly after the 1968 serial, The Web of Fear, fully licensed by the Executor of the Haisman Literary Estate, Mervyn Haisman’s granddaughter Hannah Haisman, and endorsed by Henry Lincoln.

The first series consists of:

  • The Forgotten Son by Andy Frankham-Allen
  • Horror of Det-Sen by Lance Parkin
  • The Schizoid Earth by David A McIntee
  • Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters.

Brigadier Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart has been an essential element of Doctor Who since 1968. He was created by authors Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln for the six-part Doctor Who serial, The Web of Fear. A one-off character. Until over a year later when he was brought back to Doctor Who, promoted to Brigadier and the head of UNIT. Forty-six years on and the Brigadier has become one of the most iconic characters in Doctor Who, having appeared with ten different Doctors in countless TV episodes, books, audio dramas and comic strips! The character’s death was acknowledged in the 2012 Doctor Who series starring Matt Smith, and was resurrected briefly in the 2014 series finale starring Peter Capaldi. On TV the character’s story is over, but there is so much more to tell.

Andy Frankham-Allen has been a Doctor Who fan since his childhood and serves as line editor for the series, as well as penning the opening novel. Andy is the former line editor of Untreed Reads Publishing’s series Space: 1889 & Beyond, and has penned several Doctor Who Short Trip stories for Big Finish and Candy Jar’s very own celebration of Doctor Who, Companions: Fifty Years of Doctor Who Assistants. He said: “It’s an insane privilege and responsibility to put this series together, to reveal the real story behind such a legend of Doctor Who.”

Lance Parkin has written over twenty books and audio dramas for Doctor Who since 1996, including the 35th Anniversary novel, The Infinity Doctors, and the 2008 Tenth Doctor novel, The Eyeless. He also worked on British soap Emmerdale and wrote Magic Words, the definitive biography of Alan Moore. Lance said: “Lethbridge-Stewart was always a steady presence in the Doctor’s life. Even in The Web of Fear, he instinctively trusted the Doctor from almost the moment he met him. I wrote for the character in The Dying Days, and that was the version of the Brigadier we all think of now, I think, an old soldier, semi-retired, seen it all. It’s been interesting writing for a younger, hungrier Lethbridge-Stewart – not even a Brigadier at this point in his life. It’s also been nice writing a story that’s set in the aftermath of The Web of Fear, with Lethbridge-Stewart only just starting to realise that the Earth’s facing a whole new type of enemy.”

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.”

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.”

Simon Williams, the man behind the cover art, is a former artist for Marvel UK having drawn for The Transformers, The Hulk, Spider-Man and Death’s Head. Simon said: “I’ve always been a big fan of Doctor Who and the Brigadier and having the opportunity to draw this iconic character is a huge privilege.”

Candy_Jar_LS_Front_Amended2-mediumHannah Haisman said: “This project has been a long-time coming. I had to be certain that I was entrusting my grandfather’s legacy to a publisher and authors who would respect what he created. Candy Jar and Andy have assembled a team that are sympathetic to the Brigadier, and these are very exciting times that we can all be proud of.”

Lethbridge-Stewart will be launched on 22nd February 2015, the fourth anniversary of Nicholas Courtney’s death, the actor behind the Brigadier. The first series of novels will be released one book per quarter throughout 2015.

The Forgotten Son is available for pre-order from the Candy Jar Book store, where you can pre-order all four titles in the Four-Book-Bundle for a special discounted price. By pre-ordering directly from Candy Jar you ensure you’ll get your copy of each title a couple of weeks before official publication.

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Now the ‘cat it out of the bag’, as Sir Alistair would say, I can talk about this series, and I will. Keep tuned for insights into the development of this series, and indeed the first novel, as well as discussions between me and the rest of the creative team behind the project. 🙂