Canaries (The Wintertime Paradox)

  There's a lot going on in this short story written for The Wintertime Paradox anthology and tying in to Time Lord Victorious.  It's about the curator of a small museum of objects from timelines that have ceased to exist and which together may cause a tear in reality.  She's "haunted" by the Doctor in the form of various phone calls  warning her of the dangers inherent in keeping the collection together, one of which is Eighth, who's given the key line that these artefacts are "canaries in the coalmine", omens of dark times ahead, presumably as a result of the Tenth Doctor 2.0 going off the rails.

Also off the rails is the conclusion to the story as two masks arrive for display on the last of twelve available plinths with a note which reads, "Worn by a long-forgotten cult who worshipped impossibility and contradiction."  Yes, folks, it's the Faction Paradox.  In the middle of this ambitious multi-format event, the author Dave Rudden makes reference to one of the Wilderness Years greatest creations.  As his Reddit AMA reveals, Alien Bodies was the first piece of Who media he consumed, which he found deeply confusing but he's loved the Faction in everything he's read of them.

Placement:  Various TLV timelines have different ideas, so I'll just list it at the end of that section to be on the safe side.

Death To The Doctor (Doctor Who Magazine #360)

Comics  The Eighth Doctor and Izzy have a two-panel cameo in this fill-in story from during the period when the Tenth Doctor and Martha were in residence in the DWM comic strip.  They're shown besting Valis, a highly flammable being composed of gas particles which writer Jonathan Morris described in an interview for the collection "The Widow's Curse" as cowled in robes like the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. He should look scary and enigmatic" (as reproduced on the TARDIS Wikia from which all of this is quoted).  Along with Frobisher, it's the first time comics characters of the past had appeared in the nuWho era.

The gag of the strip is that Valis, along with a number of second string villains with delusions of grandeur gather together to find a plan to defeat the Doctor once and for all.  This a few years before a similar team up in TV's The Pandorica Opens, although that consisted of main A-listers plus whatever else was lying around in Neil Gorton's creature shop, whereas this has losers like The Mentor ("Oh right like --" "Yes ... but not copying.  It's purely coincidental!")  Art is by Roger Langridge, so it's clearly supposed to be funny and fortunately it is, very much, although final few panels are rather poignant as the Doctor and Martha land amid the aftermath.

Placement:  After TV Action! perhaps?

What Lies Inside? / Connections

Audio  The Eighth Doctor essentially has three different "on-going" series now.  This year's run which began with Audacity in November, the Time War splinter, and this, the follow on from Stranded and the continuation of largely unbroken run of seasons in various formats which began with Storm Warning in 2001.  Perhaps having sensed that the after roughly 64 episodes spread four series and sixteen boxed sets everything has become a bit unwieldly, they've decided to return to first principles of stand alone stories across most of these lines and it's terrific.  

So here we have Liv and Helen travelling with the Doctor without the baggage of previous series and they play off each other quite well, the former taking a more rational view of events, the latter on a more fundamentally emotional level.  They stakes are also much, much lower.  In all these stories , we're seeing a localised problem, not something which could destroy the whole universe or timeline in which everyone's life is obviously in danger and the Doctor himself in some kind of emotional or physical distress all of the time.

Paradox of the Daleks

Sublime.  The Doctor and his friends thwart a time travel plot by the pepper pots related to the Time War before they're even aware that its going to happen.  Whereas previous audios like Flip Flop have episodes designed to be heard in any order, this is an adventure which will make the most sense on repeat listens as the nuances and Blinovitch dodging actions of each of the characters reveal themselves.  John Dorney's farce-inflected script is blazingly funny in places, especially the reality of how the Daleks's plan is being executed.  Judging by the extra material this was immensely tricky to record and edit for the result is an absolute classic.

The Dalby Spook

There's been surprisingly little Doctor Who coverage of the Isle of Man with the most prominent being a short story from the 2011 annual about dropping an atomic bomb on the island to destroy some Daleks.  But here are in Douglas investigating real life phenomena Gef the talking mongoose asking what might happen if it turned out to be true and how that might be in Whoniverse terms.  Arguably this is the kind of adventure which could be rolled out in from of any TARDIS team, but its the perfect mix of Helen's emotional connection to events and Liv's ability to wrangle the Doctor which makes it perfect for this TARDIS team.

Here Lies Drax

A good old fashioned romp with a capital R from John Dorney featuring a pretty starry cast including Nina Wadia, Jeff Rawle, Hugh Ross and one Shane Ritchie who is absolutely wonderful as Drax.  One of those stories in which the Doctor is rather pulled along by events and for once playing the straight to a comic turn.  It's also an audio which is oddly reminiscent of the Lawrence Miles EDAs, especially Alien Bodies and Interference, not necessarily in relation to tone (Miles was never one for this kind of farce) but story elements and how Time Lords are physically structured.  This also makes it a curious listen after the Timeless Child revelations.  God it's refreshing hearing this TARDIS team just having fun.

The Love Vampires

Sometimes, you just have to fall back on the old standards.  A favourite with Star Trek writers who did versions of this across all of the classic and neo-classical series, we have vampires using character's lost loves and life as a temptation to allow them to be turned or feasted upon.  It's fine.  There's some pretty good character work between the TARDIS team and their respective loves but it's definitely an episode in which, once you've understood the central gag, all that's really left is for the Doctor to do his clever thing and make a big speech.  It's odd that Liv's love doesn't tie back to the Kaldor series and we're introduced to a new character instead.

Albie's Angels

Wonderful.  Another spin on the weeping angels which draws together elements from all over the television mythology and uses them to tell the story of Helen becoming involved in the imprisonment of her brother, Albie, originally mentioned in writer Roy Gill's earlier story UNIT Dating and based on an acquaintance of the late Trevor Baxter who was locked up for ten years in similar circumstances.  One particular line which resonates is when Helen reveals that it's through her travels with the Doctor and seeing the future that her horizons on love had been opened (perhaps partly having seen Liv and Tania become close?).  As Sarah Jane once said, travel does broaden the mind. 

Placement:  After Stranded, or at least between most of Stranded and when the Doctor drops Liv off again at the end so she can be with Tania.

Christmas Links #16

Isle of Man dogs set to take part in return of special nativity play:
"Border collies and cockapoos are preparing to take part in a special canine version of the nativity."

"A chip shop is selling battered sprouts this year, but why stop there? Our intrepid writer throws every element into the fryer, with surprising results."

"Billions of people across the globe look forward to celebrating Christmas on December 25. And for many of the celebrations, Christmas trees play a key role. Before being decorated with ornaments and lights around, and encircled with presents below, many Christmas tree traditions begin outdoors. Individuals and families flock to tree farms and national forests to choose their favorite balsams, spruces, pines, or firs. And they will contribute to the more than 25 million Christmas trees harvested in the U.S. each year."

"Christmas comes but once a year, so this week’s film quiz offers 30 festive movie questions to make your spirits bright."

"While a pantomime is the usual theatrical treat for the season, for the Stuart monarchs Christmas and especially Twelfth Night were marked with extravagant performances known as masques, which were intended to personify the values of the Jacobean and Caroline courts, but which – for their enemies – came to represent a corrupt and decadent crown."

"Last weekend, a DJ caused a stir in Britain after playing the hit Wham! song "Last Christmas" at a soccer game in front of about 60,000 people."

"The worst thing you can do if you have left your Christmas shopping to the last minute is panic."

"The artificial tree was likely purchased from the now-defunct high street chain, Woolworths, in the 1920s."

"CBC Director Geoff LeBaron looks back on 124 years of both constancy and change, and announces a change of his own."

"A flock of hungry jackdaws has begun eating the giant Christmas straw goat erected in Gävle, Sweden, raising the prospect of it getting severely damaged even if no one manages to set fire to it."

Christmas Links #15

All Grown Up! – The Finster Who Stole Christmas:
"In 2001, Rugrats had the honor of being the first Nicktoon to make it 10 years. The path to that honor was not a smooth one as the show had effectively been cancelled in 1993 with the third season."

"It was just a cup of steaming mint tea – but when it spilled into my lap and onto my seat, the enormous blisters were inevitable."

"A Christmas market has been criticised for not capturing the festive spirit of previous years."

"In the U.S., holiday season customs can range from the cozy to the confounding, like sharing a kiss under the poisonous and parasitic plant, mistletoe.  Around the world, the traditions are as diverse as the countries in which they originated. From flying fists to crispy chicken wings, here's a look at some of the interesting ways in which people celebrate the Christmas season and beyond."

"In 1930, Mexico's President Pascual Ortiz Rubio had the intention of creating a love for national symbols and traditions an answer to a new kind of invasion through culture by our northern neighbours."

"The GCHQ Christmas Challenge returns, and this year's is our toughest yet!"

"It’s officially the holiday season and Hallmark’s Christmas present to viewers is a promise to make more “queer-forward” festive films in 2024."

"The Epic Game Store holiday giveaway has officially started! For those not in the know, this is a period where Epic is giving away games daily for about two weeks, though it seems this first one is an exception, lasting the regular 1 week. Let's see what we got!"

"A few years after the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests started a Christmas tree farm, Nigel Manley, who oversaw the operations, began noticing some interesting developments among the rows of fragrant balsam and Fraser firs lining the land."

"If there is anyone who could match Ebenezer Scrooge’s greediness, it’s Lex Luthor. The arch-enemy of Superman is as stingy as the Man of Steel is generous. This makes it all the more fitting that Luthor should get his own personal reenactment of A Christmas Carol."

Christmas Links #14

"Giving subscriptions as a present helps the culture sector plug its finances and saves money too."

"The Library of Congress has unveiled its annual list of 25 movies to be added to the National Film Registry. The films selected each year are noted for their cultural, historic or aesthetic importance to preserve the nation’s film heritage."

"On a cold night in Hungary’s capital, shoppers at one of Europe’s most famous outdoor Christmas markets browsed through food stalls of steaming local specialties and sipped from paper cups of hot mulled wine. A holiday light show played on the façade of the St. Stephen’s Basilica."

"When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek in 1966, he envisioned a secular future for the Earth, but the series has acknowledged Christmas many times."

"In The Georgians, Penelope J. Corfield explores every aspect of Georgian life – politics and empire, culture and society, love and violence, religion and science, industry and towns. In this blogpost, she takes us through some of the Georgian origins and innovations in familiar festive traditions. How were these traditions formed by their Christmases past? And how did they help form Christmases future?"

"People living in a block of flats said Christmas had been spoilt as they cannot have a plastic tree in their foyer unless a caretaker is present."

"Deck the halls, etc."

"A little Christmas present from me to you. Download and make Christmas Cottage for free."

"The estate of Dr. Seuss is obviously no stranger to playing the intellectual property maximalist, having appeared on our pages many times in the past. But more specifically for this post, the estate has also, ironically enough, been more than happy to stomp on the Christmas joy of others in favor of jealously guarding its IP when it comes to The Grinch Who Stole Christmas."

Christmas Links #13

How Much Does the Chipmunks’ Christmas Song Earn Every Year?
"Ross Bagdasarian Jr., son of the characters' creator, discusses the Christmas tune's rich legacy. (Spoiler: the track's revenue can buy Alvin a lot of hula hoops.)"

"Caernarfon Round Table's mobile Santa's grotto is on a journey through Gwynedd throughout December. North Wales Police say those responsible face being "added to the naughty list"."

"White Christmas begone! The yuletide canon in Australia is expanding – and it’s full of small-time crims, dysfunctional families and sweltering summer shenanigans."

"The organisers of a festive light trail have apologised for an email error that meant many people arrived at the event only to find it had been cancelled."

"In a quiet West Virginia community, the racist extremist group VDARE opened its house to the local “normies” to spread some holiday cheer."

"BETHLEHEM, West Bank, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Bethlehem is normally at its busiest at Christmas but this year war has scared away tourists and pilgrims from the Palestinian town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, leaving hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops deserted."

"Analysis: From 1948 a special scheme delivered thousands of Christmas turkeys from Irish families to relatives in Britain."

"O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, you always make me so sneezy!"

"Got a relative who’s hard to buy for? Photo books make a fantastic gift, and the beautiful selection below is sure to delight the geography lover in your life."

Christmas Links #12

"Track written by Russell T Davies is raising money for Children in Need and will feature in festive TV special."

"I’m a big fan of Doctor Who, and it’s a flag that I fly happily and have done for decades, even during the dark periods when the show wasn’t strictly speaking “cancelled”, but certainly wasn’t in production."

"In 2023, the cost of a first-class stamp exceeded £1 for the first time in history. Fifty years ago, as the price reached 3.5 pence, the House discussed the rising cost of stamps and its potential impact on the sending of Christmas cards. This briefing summarises the debate from 17 October 1973."

"Autonomous electric wheeled bot designed to meet demand for last-mile parcel deliveries this festive season."

Roasting broccoli whole is a more enchanting way to eat your trees:
"Broccoli looks like a tree — or trees, depending on how you cut it."

"Northamptonshire theatres that were forced to temporarily close this year said the new pantomime season would be crucial for financial security."

"The worst isn’t the screams or the snow or the mind-numbing blare of “Night on Bald Mountain“ on repeat. It’s the cowbells: a rusty jangle that means the Christmas monsters are coming."

"Music-Map draws proximity clouds of bands and musicians similar to your faves; the methodology has something to do with AI. The picks are both obvious and odd: cannily uncanny, as such things often are."

"A Christmas tree at The Piece Hall fell victim to this weekend's stormy weather."

"For Lightscape, a pagan-inspired show that just happens to open during the holidays, the garden installed more than a million L.E.D. bulbs."

"Prometheus is a film about hope. Yes, hope. The theme is clearly that of humanities’ search for their creator, but in the end, through the symbolism and conversations offered by the film-writer collaborating with the director, this film offers to its viewers hope of something greater than our pety, ego-centric selves."

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1987.

It's been a few months since we looked at the BBC schedules and not since the start of the 1980s, so let's see what a typical day would have looked like for BBC One on the 11th December 1987.  It's a Friday, a couple of weeks before Christmas and the schedules are still in a transitional period between some of their earlier elements and what we might expect to see today.

After half an hour of Ceefax at 6am, the morning proper opens with a Christmas themed RKO short starring Edgar Kennedy, Poisoned Ivory, a kind-of proto-National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  This leads into Breakfast Time, now well into its desk bound era, with a soon to be leaving Frank Bough joined by Sally Magnusson and Jeremy Paxman.  At 8:40 the curio that was Open Air with its initial fifteen minute slot fronted by Eamonn Holmes.  

After a repeat of Neighbours from the day before, Kilroy, Going for Gold in its first series, Andy Crane on early CBBC duties with birthday greetings and just before the final hour of Open Air (a programme about television bestriding the schedules) there's Five to Eleven, a daily five minute slot in which a range of celebrities read poetry or short prose works in what was essentially Jackanory for adults.  Today's is presented by Gary Watson, who played Arthur Terrall in Doctor Who's Evil of the Daleks.

Into the afternoon and to Daytime Live with Pamela Armstrong, Alan Titchmarsh and Judi Spiers, one of the many shows presented from Pebble Mill.  Then, after the One O'Clock News (from the BBC) with Michael Burke (who'd recently been expunged from South Africa because they didn't like his reporting), Neighbours, for which the Radio Times has the uncertain billing "Mike becomes a 'lifeguard'."  

Then in the middle of everything, we find the Doris Day film By the Light of the Silvery Moon which glancing around, wasn't unusual - Wednesday and Thursday had Kevin Costner and Tommy Trinder films in the same timeslot.  Doris was followed by Ask Margo a consumer advice slot led by Margo McDonald, in the period when she wasn't an SNP politician.  CBBC follows (Corners, SuperTed, What's All This Then?, Newsround and the sit-in episode of Grange Hill).   At which point you might expect Neighbours, but it's too early in the run for it to pop enough to require a tea-time repeat so instead we have Masterteam 87 with Angela Rippon.

The evening schedule begins with the Six O'Clock News (from the BBC) with Sue Lawley and Philip Hayton, a couple of years before he was shuffled off to North West Tonight and decades before whatever this was.  After regional programmes, it's Wogan, for which the guests aren't listed on the BBC Programme Index.  His old show Blankety Blank followed at 19:40, "Special guests this week: Pat Coombs, Henry Cooper, Barry Cryer, Debbie Greenwood, Jenny Hanley, Tom Pepper" followed by the first repeat of Twenty Years of the Two Ronnies (with its writing credits which include Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Spike Milligan).

After the Nine O'Clock News (from the BBC) with Martyn Lewis and Debbie Thrower, the big prestige drama of the evening is episode two of The Marksman, a revenge thriller set in Liverpool adapted from a novel by Hugh McRae starring David Threlfall, Michael Angelis, Craig Charles, Leslie Ash, Andrew Schofield and Ray Kingsley.  Originally scheduled earlier in the year, it was postponed and apparently re-edited in the wake of the Hungerford mass shooting.  As if that wasn't dark enough, the late film is Alistair Maclean's Breakheart Pass, starring Charles Bronson about an ill fated journey into a diphtheria epidemic in 1870s California.  The night ends with edited highlights of a Chris Rea concert and the final weather before closedown.

What's noticeable about this schedule is how much of daytime is live (or as live) compared to today at least on BBC One.  After Breakfast and Morning Live, barring news broadcasts the only other slot is The One Show, at time of writing anyway.  It's also pretty homogenised, a mix of property, antiques and quiz shows and (strangely) programmes about financial fraud.  But the evenings aren't that different from 1987, surprisingly, with original documentaries, comedies and dramas.  There's even a late film from the 1970s on the day of writing (Friday 9th June 2023): The Exorcist.  

Brimstone and Treacle

"Aliya looks back at Dennis Potter's powerfully disturbing, formerly-banned 1976 television play Brimstone & Treacle..."
[Gen of Deek]

"Programme includes: playwright Dennis Potter on his TV play - and now film - Brimstone and Treacle, plus Joan Plowright on her role as Mrs Bates: Carol Churchill on her new play Top Girls at the Royal Court: Graham Payn on the newly published diaries of Sir Noel Coward. Presented by Natalie Wheen."
[BBC Sounds]

"In a BBC World Service broadcast in 1979, Dennis Potter – who would have turned 80 this weekend – talked to Michael Billington about the relationship between good and evil in his play Brimstone and Treacle."
[The Guardian]


"James Hawthorne, controller of the BBC in Belfast for the last ten years, retires today. Report by Linda Mitchell."
[BBC Rewind]


"This social event marked the closure of Designs Department at Western House, Great Portland Street and the merging of Design Group with Equipment Department, to form Design and Equipment Department at Avenue House, Power Road Chiswick.  The boat trip on the Thames symbolised the move from central to west London."

"The new BBC shop opened today on Arthur Street in Belfast. The event was attended by Lord Mayor Dixie Gilmore and James Hawthorne (BBC Northern Ireland Controller). Interview with Paul Devine (Shop Manager). Reporter: Kirsty Lang."
[BBC Rewind]


"Spotlight finishes using film after 26 years and switches entirely to electronic video cameras for its news gathering operations."
[BBC Rewind]

"There was a gap in children’s TV for a hero like Sam. Postman Pat was around, but how much can a postman really do?"
[The Guardian]

"BBC producer Stewart Morris visits Belfast to hold local auditions for Opportunity Knocks, a new series that begins in March. Reporter: Paul Clark."
[BBC Rewind]

"While watching a 1987 episode of Spitting Image the other day, something rather odd occurred. And something odd occurring during an episode of Spitting Image has rapidly turned into this site’s speciality."
This has a lot to do with Red Dwarf, in case you're confused.
[Dirty Feed]

"The BBC's Antiques Roadshow comes to the Ulster Hall. Report by Liz Fawcett."
[BBC Rewind]

"Neil Miles is a man who, much like myself, enjoys delving through piles of old videotapes in search of long forgotten footage. And his excellent YouTube channel recently delivered an intriguing slice of late night television in the form of a BBC engineering test from 1987."
[Curious British Telly]

"A new programme on Radio Ulster called the Fathom Line was launched at the Newry Arts Centre last night by BBC NI Governor Dr. James Kincaid. Report by Sean Rafferty."
[BBC Rewind]

"Stars including Phillip Schofield, Sarah Green, Trev and the man behind Gordon the Gopher tell Adrian Chiles what it was like working on the legendary Saturday morning TV show, 30 years after it first launched."
[BBC Sounds]

""Tonight is Halloween when strange things can happen, and even here live on BBC1, all is not what it seems."  And with those foreboding words on Halloween night 1987, the BBC1 globe transformed into a pumpkin, and one of the most remarkable pieces of television ever transmitted began."
[Dirty Feed]


"Journalists from the BBC and other broadcasting organisations went on strike for up to six hours today in protest over the ban on the television programme about the secret Zircon satellite project."
[BBC Rewind]

"If in 1988 our viewers and listeners felt they understood more about the way the BBC works and its aims, we are making progress."
[World Radio History] 

Christmas Links #11

 Bingley: Grandparents' joy at do-it-yourself Santa's grotto:
"Grandparents who created a Santa's grotto are expecting hundreds of children to their home this year."

"It is vital to do some basic safety checks on Christmas toys this year, ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports."

"Sex Education star Gatwa, 31, made his first appearance on Doctor Who during the last instalment of the 60th anniversary episodes."

"What happens when a Christmas tree farm plays a pivotal role in protecting the local watershed? A conservancy group in Wisconsin is transforming the farm into a preserve to protect its ecosystem."

"There are many pitfalls to buying presents, from seeking an instant reaction to a fear of sentimentality. But a few simple psychological principles can help you make better choices."

"No longer filled with bad jokes and plastic toys, the most covetable crackers contain treats your guests will treasure."

"The barnyard animals that have non-speaking parts in the nativity scene should not be overlooked this festive season."

"Hating Christmas is OK, actually. Normal, even. But every December, it hits me all over again."

"Anyone reading the blog last Christmas (or even just following me on one of the social media platforms I used at the time) likely remembers my big project last year."

Christmas Links #10

 Do you like ‘Silent Night’? There are more than 3,700 covers for you:
"“Silent Night” is not that silent after all."

"From ho ho hum tracks by Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber to bah humbug tunes by AC/DC and Afroman, these are the holiday songs you really need to avoid."

Editor's note: Let's you choose a song from Spotify then creates an endless remix.  Here's Once In A Lifetime [via]. 

"A football stadium DJ has apologised for playing Last Christmas by Wham!, potentially knocking more than 7,000 people out of cult game Whamageddon."

"As prices rise, more people are buying only for close relatives and friends, or getting out the glitter glue and making their own."

"Twelve of the year's best seasonal recordings."

"While the industry is starting to wind down ahead of the holiday break, a juicy package could liven things up before the new year. Deadline is hearing that Olivia Wilde is attached to direct Naughty, a Christmas comedy that has LuckyChap on as producers."

"A stone marker and sculpture in the city of Riga stake a claim for the very first community Christmas tree."

"As an American living in Britain in the 1990s, my first exposure to Christmas pudding was something of a shock. I had expected figs or plums, as in the “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” carol, but there were none. Neither did it resemble the cold custard-style dessert that Americans typically call pudding."

"Good news! A Charlie Brown Christmas is going to stream for free on Apple TV+ on December 16th and 17th for those without a subscription."