The End of the World is Nigh(-ish)

At last… the news is out. One of the secret things I’ve been working on these past months has been announced by Big Finish – (always a relief when that happens, one less thing to accidentally let slip!)

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An audio series based on the original 1970s series of Terry Nation’s Survivors. We’ll be reliving the Death again, from the start, as we follow a new set of characters through the outbreak of a devastating global pandemic and its aftermath. And the story runs parallel, and intersects with, those of some of the original characters from the BBC show. I’m writing the opener, and am thrilled to be joined by Jonathan Morris, Andrew Smith and John Dorney for the end of the world. The series will be out next June, with a second box set to follow. More details soon…

Other news, I’ll be yo-yo-ing back and forth to London town during the next few days. First to Chiswick on Sunday 14th July for Fantom Films celebration of Colin Baker’s tenure. I’m honoured to be appearing alongside the rather brilliant Lisa Greenwood (companion Flip in Sixie’s audio adventures) for a Big Finish panel and signing.

And then I’ll shortly be along to Ladbroke Grove for something you may well hear more about in the next few days…

You may also have noticed a casting snippet in the recent announcement of Gallifrey VI. Yes, the amazing Juliet Landau will also be appearing in Companion Chronicle Luna Romana, along with the marvellous Lalla Ward and Terry Molloy.

And don’t forget, Starlight Robbery (with the Seventh Doctor encountering Sontarans, along with Klein and Will) is released next month. Jonathan Barnes’ Persuasion, the first part of this new trilogy, is out now, and is something very different indeed. I’m looking forward to listening in the next few days…

Right, my first trip to London of the week beckons. I’ll be heading off this afternoon, taking my son to the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms. The Doctor Who 50th anniversary show promises to be something very special indeed. We’ll be waving from the Grand Tier!

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Back to the Sixties… again!

Wow. Where did that month go? First off, huge thanks to the Fantom Films boys for Utopia. I had a blast at the event, and it was great to spend time with all my fellow attendees and guests in such an impressive yet convivial setting. I do hope to be asked back!

Next, I’ve been most remiss about pointing you towards an interview I did with Tony Jones for Starburst Magazine. Tony asks a host of insightful and interesting questions about some of the things I’ve been up to recently, with some hints for the future…

Speaking of the future, July will see the return of some old friends.
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Britain in the mid-1960s and the government has created the Counter-Measures group, a specialist team that investigates strange phenomena and dangerous technology. The Second Series box set contains four new adventures plus a behind-the-scenes documentary. So join scientists Rachel Jensen & Allison Williams, their military liaison Group Captain Gilmore and their enigmatic leader, Sir Toby Kinsella, for more intrigue and adventure.

I’ve written episode one, entitled Manhunt, in which Ian Gilmore is on the run and suspected of murder. The guest cast includes Lucy Fleming (Mrs Simon Williams, and star of 70s hit drama Survivors) as Lady Waverly, Blake Ritson (DaVinci’s Demons, Upstairs Downstairs) as Captain Astor and Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones) as Emma Waverly.

The team heads underground for episode two, The Fifth Citadel by James Goss, investigating a hidden wartime bunker beneath London. Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Calendar Girls) plays Dr Elizabeth Bradley, whose long-standing friendship with Sir Toby might not be enough to save the country from disaster…

The third episode, Peshka by Mark Wright and Cavan Scott, takes Counter-Measures to Holland for an international chess championship, where the contest takes on a deadly significance.

The series ends with Sins of the Fathers by John Dorney, which follows the consequences of a tragic death at a funeral… one that will have major repercussions for Counter-Measures. Tom Price (Torchwood) plays Father Ellard, while Philip Pope (The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy) is Templeton, Sir Toby’s trusty assistant.

In the meantime, Big Finish is holding a sale this weekend on titles including the first series of Counter-Measures stories. You can also take the opportunity to catch up with discounted stories featuring 7th Doctor companion Elizabeth Klein ahead of her return. More on that next month…

I’ll be packing myself off to Leeds for the BBC TV Drama Writers Festival next week (if you’re going, say hello!), in between finishing yet more scripts for projects as yet unannounced… Updates covering all this and more to follow. Exciting times!

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Here’s to it… Utopia!

Just another quick update to say I’ll be along to join fantom films Utopia event this weekend at Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire.

I’ve heard such good things about this gathering from other Big Finish alumni, so am looking forward hugely to it. I’m aiming to arrive some time Saturday evening and I’ll be on a couple of panels on Sunday morning.

The first one is one alongside Counter-Measures stars Pamela Salem and Simon Williams. The second series of this Sixties-set audio sci-fi series due for release in July.

After that I’ll be joining Tracey Childs, Charlie Hayes and writer Steve Lyons for more Big Finish discussion.

I’ll be around for signings and chatting the rest of the afternoon, along with fellow Big Finishers Lisa Bowerman and Ayesha Antoine.

So if you’re already there, see you soon!

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May Day +1

Now that Beltane is come and gone, it seems as good a time as any to reveal some details of an exciting Who-related project I’ve been involved in with Reeltime Pictures…

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White Witch of Devil’s End will be a talking head drama featuring Damaris Hayman reprising her role as Miss Hawthorne from the 1971 Jon Pertwee story The Daemons. In it, she tells the story of her life in Devil’s End as a white witch … and her fears for the imminent future.

Keith Barnfather developed the DVD drama, approaching some of fantasy writing’s best-known names to write a series of short stories recounting events from Olive Hawthorne’s life in Devil’s End. Suzanne Barbieri, Debbie Bennett, Raven Dane, Jan Edwards, David J Howe and Sam Stone all contributed tales, and I was asked by Keith to help script edit the screenplay into its final form.

Primary filming took place last autumn with the wonderful Damaris Hayman, and Reeltime aim to release the DVD later this year as a stand-alone, and boxed along with a re-release of cast and crew reunion documentary Return to Devil’s End, plus a collectors edition. More details soon – but you can pre-order at Galaxy 4.

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Barking Big Finish

Just a quick update (two in a week, I know!) to say I’ll be in attendance at Big Finish Day 3 at Barking Abbey School in London this Saturday, 23rd March, from 10am.

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As if all the great names listed above were not enough, David Warner has also been announced as a guest. You can see a full listing of who’ll be there over on the 10th Planet website.

Tickets are £25, and there’ll be panels, signings, and a bunch of us writers will be running a workshop in the afternoon. (You’ll recognise the writers: the ones blinking in the light and mainlining coffee).

And of course there’ll be all sorts of bargains on Big Finish CDs available at the sales tables, where I’ll be helping out too.

So do come along and say hello – it’ll be marvellous to see you there!

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It’s not easy being green…

Another busy month when I need more hours in the day… Scripts are at various stages of planning, writing and recording: some of which are known, some of which are not!

One thing that has been recorded and announced is August’s Starlight Robbery. Part of the next trilogy of Seventh Doctor adventures, in the company of UNIT’s Dr Elizabeth Klein and her own ‘assistant’, it slots between Jonathan Barnes’ Persuasion, and Alan Barnes’ Daleks Among Us.

In mine, I get to play with Sontarans – always a favourite monster of mine. And rather thrillingly, one of my own creations gets a return visit: Garundel, the slippery amphibious ‘speculator’ who first encountered the Seventh Doctor and friends in Black and White. (Though you don’t have to have heard that story beforehand: everything you need to know about him is covered when we meet him in Starlight. Just like you won’t need to have seen The Time Warrior to understand Sontarans!)

His return is in no small part down to Stuart Milligan’s fantastic portrayal. He really ran with what I’d put on the page, and chatting in the green room (appropriate for Garundel!) he’d absolutely got where I was coming from with the character, making him all I’d imagined & more. I even showed him the sketch I’d made of how I thought the ‘Urodelian’ would look, and perhaps one day I’ll put that up on here! I can’t wait to hear him run into the Doctor again in August.

Since that recording, I’ve been back to Moat Studios once more for a very exciting new story, with an amazing cast. Let’s just say I was in the company of TV legends… More on this soon.

But in the meantime, this is the latest release:

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The Seeds of War, written with Nick Briggs, a Sixth Doctor tale which introduces a new enemy to the Whoniverse: the Eminence. An insidious gaseous entity, with armies of Infinite Warriors at its command, and given terrifying voice by David Sibley.

We’ll be hearing from the Eminence again, in time…

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Snow Business

Shock! Horror! The second blog post in a month!

Last week was an exciting one. I attended the studio recording of my latest story for Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor – Starlight Robbery. As ever, it was a truly illuminating experience seeing my words brought to life by a company of brilliant actors, assembled and ‘coerced’ by director extraordinaire, Ken Bentley. And the lunches as always were worth braving the cold and ice!

I can reveal that the Doctor is accompanied by Dr Elizabeth Klein – played by the wonderful Tracey Childs – the pragmatic UNIT scientific adviser, who existed as a Nazi in an alternate timeline and went on to travel in the TARDIS – (it’s Doctor Who… go with it!). Klein herself now has an assistant of her own: Will Arrowsmith, played by Christian Edwards, a fantastic actor with many interesting irons in fires. The news story and pics are at Big Finish here.

Mine’s the second in the trilogy, with Jonathan Barnes’ fabulous Persuasion preceding, and the finale to be announced… I can say no more for now, but cannot wait for the rest of the cast to be revealed…

I had the pleasure of Sylvester’s company the next day as well. Big Finish made it through the blizzards to be in attendance at Project Motormouth in Slough. The event – with no less than five Doctors in attendance – was held in aid of Janet Fielding’s Motorhouse charity set up to help young people in her local area. Janet’s energy and enthusiasm shone through to make it a great success, with a huge turnout despite the best efforts of the snow gods. BBC2’s Culture Show were there filming too, so something may pop up on telly in the near future. I completely failed to take any pictures myself, but I’m sure you can find snaps of Messrs Tennant, McGann, McCoy, Baker & Davison somewhere on the web…

Finally, here are a few more details on the Destiny of the Doctor from AudioGo: a celebratory series of audiobooks produced by Big Finish for the BBC, featuring all the incarnations from 50 years of Who. The Second Doctor story, Shadow of Death, by the brilliant Simon Guerrier, is out imminently – and Frazer Hines’ interpretation of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor must be heard to be believed!

The full line-up for the eleven stories, one for each Doctor, is as follows:

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1: Hunters of Earth by Nigel Robinson

2: Shadow of Death by Simon Guerrier

3: Vengeance of the Stones by Andrew Smith

4: Babblesphere by Jonathan Morris

5: Smoke and Mirrors by Steve Lyons

6: Trouble in Paradise by Nev Fountain

7: Shockwave by James Swallow

8: Enemy Aliens by Alan Barnes

9: Night of the Whisper by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright

10: Death’s Deal by Darren Jones

11: The Time Machine by Matt Fitton

You can get all eleven on download for £40 by hitting the green ‘subscribe’ button on Big Finish’s site or clicking here.

Which, quite frankly, is an absolute bargain.

Until next time…

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