Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Doctor Who 45th Anniversary – Why Was 2004 Brilliant?

Christopher Eccleston will be the Doctor; the brilliant, provoking About Time handbooks begin; Of the City of the Saved… looks askew at Heaven; Sylv’s The Harvest renews an old monster; there are splendid Short Trips anthologies Past Tense – featuring the fabulous Thief of SherwoodNew Adventuresish 2040, and joyful A Christmas Treasury. And there are Daleks. Billy’s Day of Armageddon is found; little-known actor David Tennant chooses Dalek Empire III over the National Theatre; and Paul Cornell has Bernice face at last…

Death and the Daleks
“Why were you in the Secure Zone?”
“Bit of a misnomer, actually…”
Resolving the cliffhanger to 2003’s Secret Army-toned anthology-novel Life During Wartime, Benny discovers the secret behind the suspiciously advanced, history-changing occupation of her home. The Daleks have overshadowed her whole history from childhood through the New Adventures; now it’s about family. With gratuitous nudity. Yay!
“Is it too late to say I don’t agree with anything she says? I like Daleks – the design sense; spot on. That noise you keep going in here? Actually very calming. Ambient.”

This Big Finish drama, like all the others, is available on CD. As well as completing Life During Wartime and drawing together all of Benny’s life since her very first meeting with the Doctor (and before), this forms a very direct climax to Big Finish’s monster-heavy Series 4 of the Professor Bernice Summerfield Adventures. To keep the ultimate enemy a secret until the story was released, it was originally advertised not as Death and the Daleks but as “The Axis of Evil” – but, of course, there was no such thing. The rediscovered Day of Armageddon, incidentally, was the last Twentieth Century Doctor Who I got to see ‘new’ before the 2005 series began, as it was swiftly released as one of the three surviving (and beautifully restored) TV episodes of The Daleks’ Master Plan you can see on the Lost In Time DVD set.

Oh, and Lib Dem readers of a certain age may understand that, while the wonderful Lisa Bowerman is now absolutely the definitive Professor Bernice Summerfield, in my head Benny always used to look and sound like Helen Bailey.

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