We Need To Talk About Wanda Maximoff. Spoilers.

Film Sort of. Maybe? The reveal at the end of this week's Wandavision was trending on the Twitter within a few hours and there are already hundreds of blog posts and Youtube videos on the topic. But, goddamit I haven't been this excited since the last big thing which happened in a vertical multimedia conglomerate franchise and sometimes you just have to get your ideas on monitor (no not that one) even if they're tired and unoriginal. You will not see anything interesting here. This might as well be a large space created by some line space html or whatever bloated mess this new editing system on Blogger uses to create gaps in text.  

Spoilers.  Obviously.

As you might expect its about that appearance of Evan Peters as Pietro.  Some of the more mainstream areas of the media are already suggesting that we're seeing the first appearance of the X-Men in the MCU with the implication that they're sticking with the same casting as the Fox films after all and blah blah blah even though it's been pretty well established that when and if the X-Men turn up in the MCU they'll be recast and presumably recharacterised to more tonally fit what that actually means.  Because why would you not?  Why should Kevin Feige and pals be stuck with whoever Matthew Vaughn or Bryan Singer have chosen?

Here's my theory.  Thanks to Disney gobbling up Fox, Disney+ now carries a whole bunch of MARVEL films not set in the MCU including both Fantastic Four and X-Men.  Click on the MARVEL logo and there they are now listed as "Marvel Legacy Movies".  Some casuals might not necessarily know that there's much of a difference between the franchises, but there they are, they exist and in their own way part of MARVEL cinematic history, for better or worse along with whatever Sony and New Line Cinema (now owned by Warners) have made (not to mention the various TV shows).

They could just leave that content out there but again, when the MCU does produce their own version they have to be special in their own way.  One of the problems with both Sony and Fox's approach is in their persistence to recast and reboot, there's been diminishing returns.  In a better structured version of that the X-Men franchise, Days of Future Past would have been the final word, but instead we were given two lesser sequels which couldn't measure up to that masterpiece (especially in its extended form) which only went on to do more damage to the integrity of the franchise.

Instead, with what we've heard about in relation to Spider-Man: Something Something Home and the next Doctor Strange film's title I think Phase Four across media is going to be about establishing these other franchises as part of a multiverse, of making them "count" and Peter Maximoff from the X-Men universe is only going to be the first of numerous cameos and visits to these other worlds which means, much as is the case in the Whoniverse, everything happened.  All of it.  Every adaptation of a MARVEL property from Japanese Spider-Man to The Incredible Hulk.

Yes, yes, Into The Spider-Verse is a great movie and so was the comic it was based on which did pretty much the same thing as I'm proposing and I'm aware of the "why bother?" attitude.  But the philosophy of the MCU is that everything is connected and this whole business feels in keeping with that.  On a business level it's a win-win.  However much Peter is developed in Wandavision, it's a way of pushing viewers towards films they might not previously have thought about catching up on (although I assume the crossover audience between these different franchises has to be pretty big).

Unless all of this is wishful thinking and Aaron Taylor-Johnson hasn't replaced Evan Peters by the end of the next episode, a mistake having been corrected.  Or he simply gets popped away again for being anomalous.  But it doesn't feel like you'd cast Evan Peters and he would agree to do the role if there wasn't some other great narrative afoot.  The pace and presentation of the reveal doesn't stack up.  When a comic book ends with a page size reverse shot of its hero entirely surprised by someone standing on their doorstep, that someone is always of substantive import, not often ignored or side-lined in the following issue.

Something which is also probably irrelevant but I can't stop thinking about is how similarly structured Wandavision and the latterday X-verse films are.  Just as WandaVision's sitcom diegesis is seemingly skipping through the decades from day to day, the X-verse film starting with First Class are each set in a different decade even though its characters barely age.  Despite having been born in the 1950s, Peter Maximoff looks much the same as he does in Days of Future Past as Dark Phoenix, set about twenty years later.  It's handwaved off as something to do with the mutant gene but what if it was as a result of the hex energy seeping into the other reality?

All of which is the paraphernalia of gossamer thin fan theorism but the central point to all of this is that for those of us wondering how the MCU was going to work post Endgame, we can see that we're heading into a series of stories potentially just as ambitious as the first three phases if not more so.  At a certain point this evening, I was so hyped up about this, I began to consider if it might include other Disney properties, if the Doctor Strange film will feature appearances from the Star Wars or live action fairy tale franchises, Stephen doing battle with a Mandalorian or Maleficent.  God, I love this stuff.  More please.

[Updated after episode six]   Gah, now I don't know.  Maybe?  Between Tom Holland saying that neither Toby Maguire or Andrew Garfield are in Spider-Man 3 and the suggestion that Evan Peters is playing a zombie version of the MCU character so his whole casting might actually nothing more than a reference to recasting in sitcoms I'm starting to doubt the whole premise of this blogpost.  

So either something completely wacky is going to happen in the next couple of episodes, or we're heading for something akin to Russell T Davies's time on Doctor Who when we'd all be thinking of some incredibly intricate and complex reason for a thing and it actually turns out to be much, much simpler.

Nevertheless, this doesn't discount the idea that Steve Strange won't turn up at the end of episode eight and on seeing Even Peters and knowing that he's from another reality (with the added bonus of Bandersnatch Cummerbund saying words like "mutant" and "X-Men") realising that something has gone terribly wrong with the multiverse leading into the next Doctor Strange film.

Just an added thought.  The final moments of the introductory film of each MARVEL phases has presented the greater theme of the rest of the phase: Iron Man closed with the start to the formation of the Avengers.  The multiple suits at the close of Iron Man 3 prefigured Ultron's army.  Captain America: Civil War ended with Steve's phone shaped olive branch and they only defeated Thanos when they worked together.

Lockdown Links #8

I’ll Tell You a Story…
"Today, we’re going to answer a huge burning question about The Young Ones. No, nothing to do with flash frames, or hidden fifth housemates. This is the really important stuff. Exactly what is the farty neighbour watching on her television in “Cash”, just before she switches over to Andy De La Tour doing a public information film?"

Fatherland: Limited Edition Blu-ray - Notes on an Essay:
From Frank Collins: "Due for release by Indicator on 19 April 2021, this limited edition Blu-Ray of Ken Loach's Fatherland(1986) features my new essay on the film in the booklet that accompanies the first pressing."

Billie Piper: ‘I know about dysfunctional relationships – what it costs to be a woman’:

"After 25 years in the limelight, the actor says she is finally finding her voice as an actor, writer and now director. Does life imitate art?"

Magary: I tested the dumbest PPE of all time - the Rich Guy COVID Helmet:
"The Microclimate Air is the pandemic accessory you do not need."

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7: Aaron Sorkin samples the menu:
"DB here: Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Aaron Sorkin has carved out a unique position in contemporary Hollywood. If we want to understand craft practice from the position of media poetics—that is, the principles governing form, style, and theme in particular historical circumstances—we can usefully look at him as a powerful example."

What Parler Saw During the Attack on the Capitol:
"As supporters of President Donald Trump took part in a violent riot at the Capitol, users of the social media service Parler posted videos of themselves and others joining the fray. ProPublica reviewed thousands of videos uploaded publicly to the service that were archived by a programmer before Parler was taken offline by its web host. Below is a collection of more than 500 videos that ProPublica determined were taken during the events of Jan. 6 and were relevant and newsworthy. Taken together, they provide one of the most comprehensive records of a dark event in American history through the eyes of those who took part."

Non-geographic postcodes:
"Note that a number of non-geographic postcode sectors are also contained within geographic postcode areas."

San Antonio 10-year-old cashes in on GameStop stocks he was gifted 2 years ago:
"When Jaydyn Carr unwrapped his GameStop shares his mom gifted him for Kwanzaa two years ago, neither mother nor son expected he'd eventually be in the middle of a stock surge."

Lessons from A Pandemic Anniversary:
"It's not just what we know, but how we know it."

Dungeons & Dragons Has an Antisemitism Problem:
"The roleplaying game is one of my favorite things in the world, which makes it all the more disappointing to find coded antisemitic themes throughout."

Joe Biden times a hundred.

 Politics  You may have noticed that despite everything which is happening in the world and my clumsy references to it, one name hasn't appeared.  It still won't.  I banned myself from using it and most often used various euphemisms in its place.  The only occasions when it's crept through have been in link posts as part of pull quotes, this book review, quoting one of the Doctor's lines in this Who review and this post a week out from the inauguration in 2017 about what I thought his presidency would look like through the medium of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi.  I wasn't wrong about him, or that Vanessa Carlton looks like mid-70s Sarah Jane Smith in the promo for the Counting Crows version.

But it's a new, dawn, it's a new day and as John Legend sang at the Inauguration Concert last night, I'm feeling good and I have absolutely no problem talking about the new president Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  

Joe's first inclusion on this blog was back in 2008 as part of a link post where I actually wrote the pull test myself (the thought!) and how I couldn't remember his name during a pub quiz.  I have absolutely no memory of that night or who I might have attended a pub quiz with.  Unless it was some Twitter related event.  Huh.  Then his name wasn't mentioned until last August when Taylor endorsed him.  Finally I used his surname a lot in the title to this post when he was declared winner and again pretty much predicted everything which has happened in the past three months including the Twitter ban (although that came sooner than I expected), not that I wasn't saying anything that cleverer people than me hadn't already.

None of which is to say that I'll be talking about US politics a whole lot more than I have, but it will be liberating to have the option when I want to, especially around Christmas time.  Not to mention that because the Annoying Orange made flesh no longer consumes the oxygen of the Western world, more focus will inevitably fall on our own idiocy infestation in the UK and how their mismanagement means the number of COVID deaths in this country will be one quarter the US total by this time next week despite us having one fifth of the population and a much tinier, more controllable island.  Not that I'll be talking about that much either.  There's another name I haven't said on here since 2012.

What keeps you watching Doctor Who?

TV At the turn of the year a friend online asked me this question and bless them I replied with three paragraphs worth. Unfortunately it wasn't an easy answer. Revolution of the Daleks was not good. Apart from the tired main story, however fabulous it was to see Captain Jack back in vision, his participation was not integral and so ultimately wasted. Here's what I wrote:
"Jodie's incredible when she's allowed to be but she's being under-utilised and in general I don't know what Chris Chibnall is trying to do with it in a way which wasn't the case with previous showrunners. I haven't rewatched an episode since The Woman Who Fell To Earth and one of the reasons I stopped writing reviews was because there's barely anything to say about it. It feels like a mid-table football team keeping afloat while remembering the glory days.

"I don't watch Doctor Who all the time in the way that I perhaps used to. I'll return to things when they're rereleased and I'm still a completist in that way but its the major franchises, MARVEL, Star Wars and Star Trek which make me excited in a way that the RTD era and early Moffat eras used to. There's no comparison in dramatic terms between last night's Who and the Agents of SHIELD which turned up on Disney+ yesterday, and that was a timeloop bottle episode.

"But thankfully even if TV Who feels like its motion going, its part of an echo system of content which includes the novels, comics, BDs and especially Big Finish which is doing some incredibly exciting stuff lately now that they have all the toys. Time Lord Victorious has been a triumph. If anything keeps me as a fan, the special thing, it's that and being part of a sort of community that shares a very particular and peculiar frame of reference."
All of which ignores my excitement at the Doctor's new secret origin and the storytelling potential that brings across the franchise, on and off television.  She now has her own era similar to Star Wars' The High Republic or Star Trek's Enterprise, a whole set of adventures set before the time we already know.  What keeps you watching Doctor Who?  How could I not?

Keep Your Distance.

Life The BBC has a short piece about the police issuing fines because of lockdown breaches in the Tower Hamlets area. They're shown approaching and fining a group of four men using gym equipment in a park in Poplars, breaching the rules (more than one person, also there are signs forbidding the use of the climbing frames and whatnot. "We ain't doin' nothin' wrong" one of them plaintively says as he's handed a £100 fine.  I have no problem with any of this, this I have no problem with. 

Except, I live next to a park and it isn't safe more me to go walking there. One of the assumption that the virus can't be transmitted outside, and although the potential is greatly reduced, it's not impossible especially if you're engaging in activity which involves heavy breathing, like running.  The narrow pathway around a large section of the park is usually full of joggers, few of whom are social distancing, none of whom are wearing masks.  On occasion, people even stop to have a chat making the situation more precarious.

But such activity is if not mandated, encouraged.  I don't understand why enforcement is being carried out in some scenarios and not others, why four blokes in a park wrongly using gym equipment is policed, but groups of people jogging together on narrow pathways, inches away from each other and impossible to avoid if you're just out for a walk is given a pass.  But the lack of masks is the worstRunner's World recommends it and 78-year-old Joe Biden is fine with it.  If you're in a place were social distancing is knowingly impossible, why risk it?

The upshot is I've given up my daily walks for now.  Pretty much anywhere I've tried strolling with intent, especially around the park, I end up dodging into the road to distance from people and with my heightened anxiety the process becomes far too stressful to be of much use not to mention dangerous.  On occasion, I've had to stand facing a tree, bush or wall with my hood up to let a person by, like a hedgehog curling up to avoid danger if only to reassure myself.  Perhaps all of this is just paranoia, but a risk still feels like a risk however risky that potential risk might be.

Arden Shakespeare Third Series Complete Works.

The publication of this complete works ends Arden's decades long process of editing the third series of Shakespeare's plays, begun in the 1980s with the first play, Henry V, printed in 1995.  Although there was a similar volume in the meantime which included material from the second series, this is the first to collect the Third's more eclectic approach to presentation in a single volume.  Arden's had four different publishers or imprints since work began.  Work on the fourth series began in 2015, the results of which won't be released for some time yet.

This complete works follows roughly the same structure as the individual volumes.  There's an introduction offering a general overview of the production of the plays which includes a short biography of the writer, the works in performance and print and their legacy.  The language is slightly less academic than usual, perhaps because there's an expectation that a wider audience might purchase a complete works for the shelf and the paperback in particular is a very reasonably priced option in comparison to some.

After the poems, the plays are then presented in alphabetical order from (ironically) All's Well That Ends Well through to The Winter's Tale, unlike the Oxford Complete Works presents them in date order or the RSC edition which mostly follows the First Folio.  The Oxford just has one version of Hamlet and two Lears, but the Arden does the opposite, having previously offered Q1 & F in one volume with Q2 in the other.  It also includes Double Falsehood which even the most recent edition of the Oxford forsakes in favour of a page explaining the existence of Cardenio.

These are the plays as they were originally published, pruned of their footnotes but retaining the editorial presentation choices.  Sir Thomas More has additional labels noting which hands in the original manuscript held at the British Library wrote each section with different fonts utilised if this occurs in the middle of a speech.  The Lear uses san-serif Fs and Qs to denote which passages are singularly present in each version of the play. 

Each play is heralded by a single page introduction, essentially an abstract of whatever the original editor thought was important in the individual publications.  A bibliography at the back of the book lists hundreds of books and websites covering all aspects of Shakespeare scholarship, a whole degree course across six pages.  This is followed by an index of sonnet first lines, the first lines of the songs across the plays and finally a glossary, which means I finally have an explanation for what a "fardal" is.

Despite already owning the majority of the Arden Thirds thanks to review copies and my own wages, this is still an invaluable possession.  Alphabetising the plays makes them much easier to cross reference between texts and the various introductions are a swift reminder of what to look for when encountering the plays, finding a decent middle ground, both scholarly and accessible.  So congratulation to Arden for reaching this milestone and I can't wait to see what the fourth series has to offer.  Arden of Faversham perhaps?

Arden Shakespeare Third Series Complete Works. Edited by Ann Thompson, David Scott Kastan, H. R. Woudhuysen & Richard Proudfoot is published by Bloomsbury. 2020. ISBN: 9781474296366. Review copy supplied.

Babylon 5 Looks Like a Big Pile of Shit.


TV Just before Christmas, between lockdowns, I was lucky enough to visit a charity shop or two including the Barnardos on Smithdown Road. Imagine my amazement on finding, all alone on the shelf, the complete Babylon 5 DVD boxed set for just £25. Knowing full well that a new lockdown was imminent, I decided that this was to be my new bingeing project, at least a few months worth. I duly bought and almost broke my back carrying it home, this heavy beast with the equivalent of seven seasons of television inside.

Then, between Christmas and New Year I began watching it. The pilot episode is notoriously patchy, as so often pilot episodes are, although I've been a fan of Tamlyn Tomita, who plays deputy command on the station, since The Joy Luck Club which she made the same year. But there was enough for me, despite her recasting, to want to settle in and see the rest of the series, for which I've always had fond memories since its original Channel 4 broadcast.

Then during episode one, I began to see a problem I'd already had wind of but wasn't quite prepared for - how ugly it actually looks. Like much mid-90s TV, Babylon 5 was originally broadcast in the 4:3 aspect ratio, but like FRIENDS and other WB shows at the time, had its live action sequences shot on film in 16:9 in an attempt to keep them future proof, which definitely worked on FRIENDS, whose HD transfers are gorgeous.

Sadly, to save money, the CGI sequence were created in 4:3 which was fine at the time since the TV audience wouldn't know different, but ran counter to the point of shooting the rest of it on the assumption that future generation might want to have a more cinematic experience. When it came time to release the series on DVD, the studio was keen to release it in widescreen but oh god, the CGI, the CGI.

As this old Engadget post explains, the decision was made to remaster the 16:9 footage and then to zoom and crop the CGI sequences to fit the frame even during live action sequences. Which means whenever there's any CGI on screen, the image noticeably loses what already weak definition it has and the composition becomes distractingly cramped.

The effect is to pull the viewer out of the story every time a computer generated shot occurs, either in the space sequences which are often rendered incoherent or the live action scenes when on occasion there'll be a cut to some mad close-up in the middle of a sequence breaking up the rhythm of the piece. Even worse are the moment when there's a crossfade from a CGI sequence to a fully live action and the latter remains zoomed in.

On a couple of episodes, the CGI sequences haven't even been cropped. They've simply been stretched to fill the 16:9 space even in those transitions making the whole thing almost unwatchable. Quite why they didn't bother on those occasions isn't clear, although its true that they tend to be episodes which less CGI than others so they could simply have decided to use their meagre budget elsewhere.

This decade old page takes a much more detailed look at just how awful these transfers look also pointing out how a decent upscaling result could have been achieved and also that the NTSC and PAL (Region One and Region Two) transfers also differ in numerous subtle ways in terms of framing. The author becomes increasingly both cross and resigned to the horrors across the length of the article.

The upshot of all this is I'm finding it incredibly difficult to watch Babylon 5 in this form.  The first season is reputationally a bit of a slog, but there's plenty in there to enjoy but every time there's a CGI shot I'm pulled out of the story.  Plus the colour timing is incredibly drab even though my TV is collaborated to make Technicolor pop.  

As the Engadget article explains, there are craftspeople willing and able to set about creating commercial HD masters of the series, and that there might even be excellent 4:3 transfers which could be spruced up for release ala Star Trek.  There are some "remastered" SD versions doing the rounds on streaming services, which do look better but apparently have new problems like missing scenes.

It's incredibly frustrating to think that the WB is willing to spaff millions towards a mediocre director to create a bloated version of a superhero film failure in order to placate a group of 4Chan refugees, but can't find the resources to create dynamite restorations of one of the seminal science fiction shows of the 90s.  Doctor Who fans have been incredibly lucky.

Now I'm left wondering if I can carry on watching Babylon 5 in this compromised form.  Perhaps in the past when watching films in the correct aspect ratio was a dream and I frankly didn't even know what the term meant I would have been more forgiving and wouldn't have noticed.  But it's difficult to forget all of that when you've become habitually laser focused on such things.

Perhaps I'll just watch FRIENDS again.

All The Time Lord Victorious Stories And Where To Buy Them.

TV The Time Lord Victorious multi-platform Doctor Who adventure seems incredibly intimidating with its many releases. The notion is that it can either all be consumed or rather like Glastonbury you can pick and choose what you're interested in. But we're Doctor Who fans so we want to do it all and in the correct order.

The commercial website for the show has a timeline but as the TARDIS Datacore entry indicates it doesn't include all of the stories and even used in conjunction with the release schedule requires a bit of leg work in order to work out how to access everything. So I thought I'd do the leg work for you.  Let me know if anything is missing.


The Last Message (Video Trailer)
See above.

The Last Message (short story)
Accompanies Doctor Who Figurine Collection Time Lord Victorious #1 available here.

Daleks! (Animated Series)
Released on YouTube. Here are the links.
01: The Archive of Islos
02: The Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy
03: Planet of the Mechanoids
04: The Deadly Ally
05: Day of Reckoning

The Restoration Empire (short story)
In these three issues of Doctor Who Figurine Collection Time Lord Victorious. The TARDIS Datacore has a synopsis.

Defender of the Daleks (Comic)
Published by Titan Comics. There are links on their website offering options to buy physical copies.
Issue One
Issue Two
Or you can buy the whole lot as a digital graphic novel for Kindle or Comixology.

Master Thief/Lesser Evils (Audio)
A download from Big Finish.

Echoes of Extinction (Eighth Doctor) (Audio)
A download from Big Finish or Vinyl at Asda depending on the pandemic. Watch this page for details.

Can I Help You? (short story)
On the Brian The Ood t-shirt here. You can read the text here.

He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not (Audio)
A CD and download from Big Finish.

The Enemy of my Enemy (Audio)
A CD and download from Big Finish.

The Waters of Mars (TV)
It's on the BBC iPlayer. If you want to buy a physical copy, it's available on BD as part of the Road To The Dark Times sampler which also includes Planet of the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, The Deadly Assassin, State of Decay, The Curse of Fenric and The Runaway Bride all of which reference of feature species from The Dark Times (they're all on Britbox too). Also on The Complete Specials boxset.

What the TARDIS thought of ‘Time Lord Victorious’ (Short Story)
You can read this here.


The Dawn of the Kotturuh (Short Story)
On the official commercial website here. Password is "darktimes".

River Song's Guide To The Dark Times (Book)
It's in the Doctor Who Official Annual 2021.

Monstrous Beauty (Comic)
Published in Doctor Who Magazine across three issues. Issues 556 and 558 are both still available from Panini, 557 is at Forbidden Planet:
Doctor Who Magazine 556
Doctor Who Magazine 557
Doctor Who Magazine 558
Pocketmags has digital editions:
Doctor Who Magazine 556
Doctor Who Magazine 557
Doctor Who Magazine 558

The Knight, The Fool and the Dead (Book)
Amazon link.

All Flesh is Grass (Book, Chapters One to Three)
Amazon link.

The Minds of Magnox (Audio)
Amazon link.

Takes of the Dark Times (Comic Creator)
Doctor Who Comic Creator is an art app on the Apple and Amazon app stores and Google Play. Once downloaded the Time Lord Victorious pack is available as an in-app download for £2.99.

Mission to the Known (Short Story)
Accompanies Doctor Who Figurine Collection Time Lord Victorious #1 available here. The TARDIS Datacore has a synopsis.

All Flesh is Grass (Book, Chapter Four until end)
Amazon link.

Mutually Assured Destruction (Audio)
A CD and download from Big Finish.

Exit Strategy (Short Story)
Accompanies Doctor Who Figurine Collection Time Lord Victorious #2 available here. The TARDIS Datacore has a synopsis.


The Hollow Planet (Game)
This Escape Hunt Print and Play game can be bought from this link. The tie-in website is free to visit here.

Genetics of the Daleks (Audio)
A CD and download from Big Finish.

A Dalek Awakens (Escape Room)
Tickets can be booked here.

The Edge of Time (VR Game)
Purchase options here.

Time Fracture (Immersive Experience)
Opens in Spring 2021. Details here.

UNIT Field Logs
YouTube links:
14681 UNIT Field Log
14682 UNIT Field Log
14683 UNIT Field Log
14684 UNIT Field Log

Canaries (Book)
Read it here and as part of the Wintertime Paradox anthology.

Echoes of Extinction (Tenth Doctor) (Audio)
A download from Big Finish or Vinyl at Asda depending on the pandemic. Watch this page for details.

Secrets of Time Lord Victorious (Short Story)
Available as part of the Doctor Who commercial site's newsletter which doesn't appear to have an online version. The TARDIS Datacore has a synopsis.

Lockdown Links #7

No mask, no shop - UK supermarkets insist on face coverings:
"Tesco, Asda and Waitrose will not let shoppers into their stores if they are not wearing a face covering, the British supermarket groups said on Tuesday, joining rivals Sainsbury’s and Morrisons which made the policy change a day earlier."

Public Radio Stations Rebuke 'N.Y. Times' Over Actions In Correcting 'Caliphate':
"An influential group of more than 20 public radio stations in major cities across the country are condemning the actions of The New York Times and its star host of the hit podcast The Daily, Michael Barbaro, in addressing the collapse of the newspaper's award-winning audio series, Caliphate."

Seven shows for lockdown 2021 that you probably haven't watched yet:
"Check out these top TV shows to try."

D.C.’s Vaccine Jackpots Are Getting Out of Control:
"Pharmacies have quietly been offering leftover COVID-19 shots to random people in the store. You can guess where this goes."

“This is a Nightmare:” Big Bang Comics’ John Hendrick on European Comics Retail, Post-Brexit:
"You may have heard of this whole Brexit thing. The departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union has been an eternal process, lasting since the beginning of time and causing an unbelievable amount of stress and debate over that span of time."

Rebekah: the techno DJ fighting sexual abuse in dance music:
"As #MeToo stories start to emerge in the dance scene, UK star Rebekah tells her own as she presses for industry change with her #ForTheMusic campaign."

The art and craft of screen graphics – interview with Daniel Højlund:
"Continuing the ongoing series of interviews on fantasy user interfaces, it’s my pleasure to welcome Daniel Højlund. In this interview he talks about the evolution of motion design in the last ten years, his work process, the balance between ideas and tools, and the pace of working on big sci-fi film productions. In between and around, Daniel dives deeper into his work on “American Assassin”, “The Martian”, “Blade Runner:2049” and the recently released “Pacific Rim: Uprising”."

Writing Godzilla:
"Godzilla was written in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico — Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s favourite screenwriting ground. The first draft was started in late October 1996, and was completed in December the 19th of the same year."

Doctor Who The TV Movie Target Paperback:
[From Gary Russell on Twitter: "Look at this glorious cover by Anthony Dry. Beautiful, utterly beautiful. And yes, the text has been *slightly* updated from the original with a couple of moments I was asked to take out in 1996 now put back in, some better geography and a few errors corrected. V proud of this."]

Amazon Unveils A Synopsis For The Lord Of The Rings Series:
"Having spent boatloads of money to secure the rights to, and produce a series based on JRR Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings, Amazon has been at work on the show in New Zealand. And the first official synopsis for the series is online."

Complete Index of Every Film Reviewed in the Theatrical Release Section of Empire Magazine.

Film This is a massive and potentially useless project. At the back end of last year I managed to finally collect a complete run of Empire Magazine. For decades its been the touchstone of my film enthusiasm, along with various websites and Sight and Sound with its focus on the independent and arthouse sectors. Like most magazines, its quality has ebbed and flowed depending on the editor, some with a clearer interest in Hollywood over the whole of cinema (Terri White's current stewardship has been seminal in its inclusiveness), but I've always tried to watch everything receiving three stars and above in the theatrical review section and rarely feel as though they've been misguided.

When the lockdown hit, I took out subscriptions to just three magazines. Doctor Who's parish circular, Sight and Sound and Empire and of the three that was the only one for which I didn't have access to the complete archive. So after saving some pennys here and there, I set about listing was missing and making the relevant orders. In the late 90s, I managed to buy about five years worth of Empires at a car book sale for about a fiver which meant that I wasn't down by that many issues but some of the earlist numbers are not cheap. Nevertheless, I now have the whole of Empire Magazine (ish, see below) sitting underneath the table I'm writing this on, plus a few other places because god knows there's a lot of them.

Then I had an idea that I'd catch up on all of the films they've ever reviewed in the theatrical release section. That necessitated creating a database containing such a list and that kept me busy in odd moments throughout the back end of last year finishing on Christmas Eve. How many could there be? Up to the end of 2020, nine thousand four hundred and sixty four (9464). Which, even taking into account everything which is either not available, wildly expensive due to having had their DVD deleted ten years ago and anything which I've seen and don't wish to see again, that's impossible. Plus, barring reissue, it ignores everything released before the middle of 1989. So I'm going back to the old method of watching anything which looks interesting ...

Which then left me this database and what to do with it and so inevitably I'm posting it on this blog in case its of use to future researchers who want to see the reviews in context rather than just on the Empire website and need a roadmap on where to look. In some cases, what's online comes from a later DVD or BD review, especially films which have been reappraised. But the majority are just as they originally apppeared. Of course the really stupid thing for me to do would be to have linked everything in this list to the relevant reviews, but honestly I have better things to do. Or at least I keep telling myself that. Since the Empire Magazine website itself doesn't have a search function, I've created a dedicated Google should you want to look for anything.

Some caveats. This is a very long list, typed very quickly (so no page numbers or star ratings) and there are most certainly mistakes, the odd film I've missed, spelling, inconsistent formating. Let me know if there's anything outrageous through the usual channels. It's also incomplete. There are two issues missing which I know for a fact I've owned at some point but have re-ordered and so I'll add them in when possible. The years refer to the dates on the magazines so issues released in December of a year which have a January date on them with be labeled with the following year. Also remember, this won't be everything theatrically released in the UK each month, just what Empire deemed necessary for them to review (which explains some glaring ommissions).

All Flesh Is Grass (Time Lord Victorious).

Wham bamm, thank you Una McCormack. After the barnstorming final moments of the previous novel, Una picks up the momentum straight away with these three Doctors, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth in a stand off, their ships and incongruous armies ready to blast each other out of the sky. It's Daleks vs vampires with the fate of a genocidal race at the centre.  The future of the universe is in their hands (again), we're reminded more than ever that something has broken within the Tenth Doctor and it's going to take two of his earlier selves to knock some sense into him.

Multi-Doctor stories are always about the differences and Una carefully delineates their perspectives between the still optimistic Eighth Doctor, Ninth nursing his survivor guilt and Tenth believing himself powerful enough to have the power of mortality in his hands. The cover art tells you everything you need to know about him, wearing that itchy Gallifreyan head gear and robes as though he's  become the symbol of some manifest destiny. When Tenth described himself as Time Lord Victorious in The Waters of Mars, this was the fearful character that we assumed he would become. When he tells Wilf later about it all going wrong, he could just as easily be referring to this.

The author captures Eighth perfectly, especially his passive aggressive sarcasm and although Tenth remains the focus, he's given plenty of action as the consequences of his own alliance with the Daleks becomes all too real. Castellan knows what readers who haven't heard the Big Finish audios think since they're all tied together pretty tightly and the book only gives the briefest explanation for how they ended up working together or how he and Brian the Ood assasin know each other. But that's the point of these cross platform franchise promotion. To draw the consumer into enjoying as much of it as possible.

But honestly its just a pleasure to have the Eighth Doctor in novelistic prose again outside of the many short stories which have appeared since The Gallifrey Chronicles. Until recently he's been thought of a classic Doctor but since Time of the Doctor, he's become a kind of bridging incarnation between the two, although Big Finish have brought those barriers down considerably anyway with the Tenth Doctor turning up all over the shop thanks David Tennant keeping himself busy between series of Staged. Hey Big Finish, Michael Sheen is right there.

The book even manages to provide a more nuanced explanation for how the Doctor doesn't remember meeting his other selves between adventures but often refers back to them. They both remember and don't. The memories of these meetings return when they're in each other's company but submerge at other times. My guess is that it also has to be matching incarnations. Ninth still believes Gallifrey was destroyed because he wasn't a part of The Day of the Doctor and that adventure is still in this Tenth's future.

Placement: Well, yes indeed. Firstly, I'd thought I'd missed something at the start of the Mutually Assured Destruction  audio and yes, it turns out All Flesh Is Grass bridges the gap between that and The Enemy of My Enemy, so I'll have to shufty them around. But despite the theme music on the audios, this Eighth Doctor feels earlier that the Time War version. At one point he references not popping back to visit Romana and K9 on Gallifrey often enough which doesn't seem consistent with his Time War inclination. So I'm moving the whole lot to the start of the Time War era for now. But honestly it might as well be just before Shada.

Lockdown Links #6

BBC Philharmonic binaural recordings:
"Binaural sound gives headphone listeners a realistic impression of 3D space. Sounds can come from all around you, including above and below, giving a greater feeling of immersion."

Streaming: the restless career of Nicolas Cage:
"While the actor turns the air blue in Netflix’s History of Swear Words, delve into his eclectic back catalogue from Moonstruck to Mandy."

Magic at the End of the Lane: ‘Classic’ Doctor Who, from An Unearthly Child on January 1st to The TV Movie on December 31st:
"(Day Nine — January 9th 2021 Wall of Eyes and Rider From Shang-Tu) I’ve got a bit of a fascination with the TARDIS. Not so much the fictional TARDIS as it appears within Doctor Who, but rather the TARDIS as a prop or a set used in the production of the programme. You may have noticed that in this blog already, because I keep pointing out what I think are interesting things about the prop as I go along."

Remake/remodel: 45 weird and wonderful alternative film cuts:
"All films exist in slightly different cuts but sometimes the alternative versions are fascinating in their own right, with entirely new scenes and different rhythms that enable them to stand on their own against the original. We pick some of the most intriguing examples."

"Let's face it. We are all stuck indoors. And it's going to be a while till we travel again. Window Swap is here to fill that deep void in our wanderlust hearts by allowing us to look through someone else's window, somewhere in the world, for a while. A place on the internet where all we travel hungry fools share our 'window views' to help each other feel a little bit better till we can (responsibly) explore our beautiful planet again. Let's travel without moving for now. Let's window swap."

Have a taste of ‘gumbo diplomacy’ by making this Biden nominee’s classic recipe:
"Anyone who has served a big pot of gumbo to family and friends knows exactly what Linda Thomas-Greenfield means when she refers to “gumbo diplomacy.”"

Bong Joon-Ho Talks 괴물 (The Host):
"The budget's scale might be similar, but what we wanted to show and how we do it is completely different. Also, the film doesn't cling to spectacle like many Hollywood blockbusters do. So if you really have to compare it to a foreign film, it might still follow the alien theme, but more than Independence Day it would be something focusing on the family like Signs maybe?"

The Day the Great Apes Died: The Legacy of the 1995 Philadelphia Zoo Fire:
"Twenty-five years ago, the tragedy at the World of Primates building broke the city’s heart and raised a loaded question: What, exactly, do we owe the animals in our care?"

Simon Pegg on where the four Beatles' voices are found in your mouth:
"In this 41-second video, Simon Pegg describes his party trick of showing how to do Beatles impressions based on where they are in your mouth. John is high in your head, Paul is higher, George is on the side of your mouth, and Ringo is right up front."

Lucy and Ardi: The two fossils that changed human history:
"Kermit Pattison, author of Fossil Men: The Quest for the Oldest Ancestor and the Origins of Humankind, tells the story of two skeletons that changed our understanding of the evolution of humans."

Lockdown Links #5

Transformers: The Movie and The Great Toy Massacre of 1986:
"Transformers: The Movie traumatized a generation of kids with a string of startling deaths."

DOCTOR WHO – ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ reviewed by Frank Collins:
"The Doctor escapes from her alien prison with the help of an old friend, and returns to help prevent a disaster."
[Editor's note: Absolutely fair summation of what was a deeply average episode. Chris Chibnall's best decision as showrunner was to hire Jodie Whittaker. His worst was deciding to write some episodes himself. Apart from the odd bright spot usually credited someone else, his tenure has been a catastrophe.]

Climate change: 2020 in a dead heat for world's warmest year:
"New data from EU satellites shows that 2020 is in a statistical dead heat with 2016 as the world's warmest year."
[Editor's note: Of course is bloody is. I'll shut up now.]

The untold truth of Jif peanut butter:
"Peanut butter has a long and interesting history. Evidence points to the Incas being the first people to grind peanuts, and the first person who made peanut butter in the United States was John Harvey Kellogg, who invented a form of it in 1895 (via National Peanut Board). Jif was born more than half a century later in 1958 (via Jif)."

Food at 20: its biggest year:
"20 years ago when BBC Food was first created we would never have imagined how we’d be celebrating its 20th anniversary. The average weekly traffic across all weeks in 2020 was 3.4m unique UK browsers, which was up +74% on the average for the previous calendar year. The peak weekly traffic came at Easter with 6.4m UK unique browsers.. That’s quite a birthday party!"

Chicken tikka masala:
"Chicken tikka masala – we love you. A quintessential British recipe and one that shouldn't rely on a phone call to the takeaway."

What Would Statehood for Washington, D.C. Mean?
"On Wednesday night, Democrats clinched a narrow majority in the Senate, wresting control of both chambers of Congress for the first time since 2011."

Ian McKellen Shares Regret Over Not Realizing Elliot Page’s Struggle on ‘X-Men’ Set:
"McKellen reflects on Page's "difficulty with communicating" during the production of "X-Men."

Roku acquires Quibi’s content:
"Quibi is dead, but its shows will live on."

What I learned playing 30+ years’ worth of Jeopardy! video games:
"From the Apple II to PS4, digital Jeopardy! spans 40+ games and traces the medium's history."

Mutually Assured Destruction (Time Lord Victorious).

A base under siege story which flips the paradigm and has a ship full of Daleks defending themselves from the Doctor. The Daleks even have someone who's co-operating with the enemy. Other than as a sequel to the previous story this doesn't really move the Time Lord Victorious storyline on much, but it's a compulsive listen largely because Paul McGann sounds like he's having such tremendous fun, especially during a zero gravity scene were he's playfully taunting one of the pepperpots. Lizzie Hopley previous played Gemma, one of Eighth's earliest audio companions and she captures his voice perfectly (she also wrote the terrific Precious Annihilation for the Tenth Doctor and River Song box).  Are we supposed to interpret that the Eighth Doctor has yet another companion by the end?

Lockdown Links #4

Doctor Who's Sacha Dhawan on his battle with anxiety: 'Getting help was scary':
"The young actor, who plays the timelord’s arch enemy The Master, talks about his meaty new role in The Great – and reveals how he overcame the fears that used to leave him traumatised in his trailer."

What Anxiety Does to Your Brain and What You Can Do About It:
"Anxiety is a perfectly normal and natural part of being a human. There are always going to be times when we’re more nervous or worried than others, but for some, anxiety is a much stronger, more fearsome force—one that never goes away. But what is anxiety exactly, and what’s going on in your mind (and your body) when it strikes? How do you cope when it takes hold?"

Scoring The West Wing: Q&A With W.G. Snuffy Walden:
"Composer W.G. Snuffy Walden on putting The White House to music."

Blue badge permit 'shocking disparity' revealed:
"People with non-visible disabilities such as autism or Parkinson's disease face a "shocking disparity" when applying for a blue badge parking permit, a BBC investigation has found."

A midsummer night's sax comedy: the return of the lost Shakespeare jazz musical:
"It had the hottest musicians, the coolest singers – and Louis Armstrong playing Bottom. But Swingin’ the Dream was a $2m flop. Can the RSC breathe new life into this big band take on the bard?"

Williamson Art Gallery closure threat would 'leave many people's lives much lonelier':
"Campaigners say losing the 92-year-old gallery would 'leave many people's lives much emptier and lonelier'"

Alfre Woodard Discusses Police Violence and the Ending of Clemency:
"Clemency, the 2019 film directed and written by Chinonye Chukwu, is a masterwork. It centers on the life of Bernadine Williams (played by the marvelous Alfre Woodard), a death row warden facing her 12th execution — that of Anthony Woods (a striking performance by Aldis Hodge)."

Putney to Manchester:
"As part of a Tomorrow's World investigation into transport efficiency, BBC producer Paul Ferris attempts to travel from south-west London to Manchester on foot, buses, underground, overground, BEA coaches and plane. He discovers that it is a bit of a faff. Originally broadcast 6 January 1966."

The Generation that Doesn’t Believe Helen Keller Existed:
"And what that says about the world we’re growing up in."

Microsoft tried to buy Nintendo, but got laughed out of the room:
"The company wanted Nintendo's software for the original Xbox."

The Enemy Of My Enemy (Time Lord Victorious).

Audio This middle episode of the trilogy replays a key moment from the Doctor's past. "Have I that right?" Unlike the Fourth Doctor, Eighth is travelling alone and its not a spoiler to say he doesn't go through with it even without a Sarah Jane figure with him counterintuitively egging him on. But he's in the middle of the Time War and has the opportunity to blink the mortal enemy of his race out of existence and decides not to as though his moral code wouldn't allow it even though there have been numerous occasions before and since when he's not just contemplated it but carried through on the threat (cf, Revolution of the Daleks).  On this occasion its also while in the process of defending an equally genocidal race.  Tracy Ann Baines's script seems to be foreshadowing the Tenth Doctor's future behavior, in fact, demonstrating that as with everything else in his timeline, the Doctor has an inconsistent moral code which changes depending on his incarnation and how he's feeling on the day.

Placement: Before The Knight, The Fool and the Dead.  Again.

Lockdown Links #3

SEEN, READ 2020:
"01/01 LES MISERABLES (’19)"

VR: L - A City Through Its People:
"L— A City Through Its People brings together three distinct exhibitions, the combined archives of which cover a time period of Liverpool from the 1950s to the present day. Spanning evolutions in industry, society, and leisure at a time of rapid change and challenge, they share unique approaches and perspectives in telling a story about Liverpool, its people, and the ideals that lend the city charm and a distinct personality."
[Editor's Note: Co-curated by friend of the blog Laura Robertson. Linked page includes this virtual version of the exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery which now closed due to lockdown.]

Let's all meet up in the year 3000! Inside the immersive Doctor Who: Time Fracture:
"Audiences can explore 17 different worlds, meet Daleks and drink cocktails in an ambitious theatre show this spring."

Put Peanut Butter Powder in Everything:
"it wasn’t very long ago that mainstream nut butter options were limited to the smooth or chunky varieties of peanut butter offered by a handful of familiar brands (or their in-store generic counterparts). Today, reality is far nuttier."

The Oral History of 12 Monkeys, Terry Gilliam's Time Travel Masterpiece:
"Inverse speaks with director Terry Gilliam and nine other people involved in the making of this 1996 sci-fi cult classic."

Why isn’t the UK government talking about airborne transmission of Covid-19?
"Even now, ministers appear reluctant to admit past mistakes and explain to the public how risky meeting indoors really is."

When should you take your Christmas decorations down?
"Christmas might not have felt very fun or festive this year and many of us will be wondering when we should take our tree and decorations down."

Windows 10’s taskbar is getting a big update with new weather and news widget:
"The biggest change to the Windows taskbar for a few years."

Document: The White House Coup, 1933:
"The White House Coup. During the 1930s, some of Wall Street's most famous names plotted to overthrow president Franklin Roosevelt."

Taylor Swift Shut Down Those "Woodvale" Third Album Theories And Said The Whole Thing Was Actually Sparked By Her Own Mistake:
"Always remember to remove secret code names for album titles when mocking up their artwork."

Lockdown Links #2

BBC delivers biggest Education offer in its history - including devoting significant airtime to Education on BBC Two:
"The BBC is to deliver the biggest education offer in its history across more of its platforms. It will bring together BBC Two, CBBC, BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and online to deliver a new education offer to children, teachers and parents as a third national lockdown begins."

The pandemic stranded this couple 4,780 miles apart. That’s when they knew they had to be together for good:
"Sam Morrison’s proposal to Shifra Samuel in Amsterdam included a boat ride and inflatable tube-man costumes."

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
"Forty-two years ago, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy made its debut on BBC Radio 4. To mark this momentous anniversary, here are a collection of clips related to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or HHGTTG if you prefer, or H2G2 if you like brevity, or tHGttG for completionists, or even The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, if hyphens are your thing."

It gets … worse: what can we learn from movies set in 2021?
"A look ahead, courtesy of movies set in the next 12 months, suggests we should expect natural disasters, even more all-consuming tech and a super swine flu."

New York transit workers: 'We don't get respect':
"New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is essential to keeping the city moving. But workers say throughout the pandemic they haven’t been given the care or respect of other frontline workers. A New York City subway conductor and a bus driver share their stories with BBC News."

Star Wars: New Trailer For The High Republic Book Series:
"Early last year, Disney and Lucasfilm revealed a new era in Star Wars storytelling, announcing 'The High Republic', which will chronicle an era in that Galaxy Far, Far Away that is an even Longer Time Ago. A new trailer for the book and comics series is now online."

Casualties of War:
"An atrocity in Vietnam."

It's Time to Declutter Your Streaming Watchlists:
"Have you ever come across a show and thought, “I should add that to my list,” only to find out it was already there? With so much content, it’s easy to build a lot of unwatched clutter."

We Are All Related: Artists, Writers, and More Share Wishes for 2021:
"Contributors to MoMA Magazine share their wishes for 2021, from honest reckonings to immortality."

A Farewell to Adobe Flash—and the Messy, Glorious Web: "The software helped create an amateur internet. It’s a far cry from the glossy, corporate one we know now."

Lockdown Links #1

National lockdown: Stay at Home:
"Coronavirus cases are rising rapidly across the country. Find out what you can and cannot do."

How the Escalator Forever Changed Our Sense of Space:
"Sure, the 19th-century invention transformed shopping. But it also revolutionized how we think about the built environment."

Hope springs: why we might get two years’ worth of quality films in 2021:
"If everything goes to plan, this year we’ll get two awards seasons in one – after a lengthy cinema hiatus, it’ll be all feast, no famine."

Listen to the ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ soundtrack now:
"The soundtrack for the Doctor Who New Year’s Day special, Revolution of the Daleks, is now available on all digital services."

Hair ice: The strange phenomenon of 'candy floss' on trees:
"If you go down to the woods today for a winter walk, you could be in for a big surprise."

Did You Know How Ice Was Preserved In The Deserts Of Persia?
"Ancient structures used to make and preserve ice in the deserts of Persia."

Roku might pick up all of that abandoned Quibi content, raise it as its own:
"The Quibi team may have had trouble finding some poor sap to buy the underwhelming mobile-forward streaming service before its quick demise in December, but it appears that they are still able to rehome its recently abandoned content."

The International Space Station can’t stay up there forever. Will privately run, commercial replacements be ready in time?
"Concerns are rising that the United States could be left for years without a place to send its astronauts if planning doesn’t begin soon for a new space station."

Free Games:
"Epic Games Store gives you a free game every week. Come back often for the exclusive offers. Download a free game or join a free-to-play game community today." [Editor's Note: It's currently Jurassic World: Evolution.]

What Happened to The New Mutants?
"The behind-the-scenes story of an X-Men horror movie five years in the making involves The Breakfast Club, penis graffiti, and a whole lot of rewrites."

"Introducing John Bishop ..."

TV When at the end of what was a really entertaining Doctor Who tonight, the announcer suggested fans might want to stay tuned for a special announcement, I initially assumed it was the caption revealing that Doctor Who would return. Bit weak, but welcome confirmation even if we know that eighth episodes are in production under COVID rules right now.

Then the Liverpool skyline and some business on a street and well, see above. What looks for all the world like a public information film turns into a casting announcement and feeling of my heart hitting the floor as once again Chris Chibnall turns triumph into defeat, much as he has, at least in the worlds of Doctor Who, since 2006. John Bishop, John bleeding Bishop.

Let's be clear. I'm not a fan of John Bishop. For years he's represented a particular corner of laddish culture which has been anathema to me not least in how he reflects on my city in terms of perpetuating certain stereotypes. There's a moment when his stand-up comedy went from being indentifiably observational to a string of celebrity annecdotes and isn't it funny how a down at heal Scouser gets meet all these stars.

He's currently suffering from COVID and god knows I wouldn't wish that on anyone. He says in that Echo article that he'll be back at work in January and we now know that means filming Doctor Who. Hopefully he'll be well enough to do that.

As some people have noted both Billie Piper and Catherine Tate attracted similarly negative reactions and both turned out to be great and it's entirely possible, if not probably that Bishop will be incredible here too. Neither James Corden and Matt Lucas were particularly fond choices and I agree that Doctor Who brought out the best in them as well even though I have a number of moral objections to both.

But, and this is a huge but, my disappointment isn't just about the cast of John Bishop, it's about what that casting represents.

When it was announced that Brad and Tosin were leaving, I was giddy, not to see the back of the characters necessarily but because of what it meant going forward.

Firstly because for the first time in years we'd be back to the classic paradigm of the Doctor and a plus one in the TARDIS leaving more space within the duration of an episode to introduce more supporting characters and with greater depth because you don't have to service so many lead characters and give them something to do in an episode. Plus it allows for a greater focus on the Doctor as the driving force of the narrative.

Also, because for the first time ever, the show would have two female leads with a whole set of dynamic possibilities. That it was this Jodie and Mandip with all of their chemistry, particularly on show tonight in their short TARDIS scenes together, so much the better. The Doctor and Yaz against the universe. Yaz in particular showed a little of the old TARDIS obsession tonight which creates a whole extra set of possibilities.

Yet instead, we have another person joining the TARDIS and another man and another older white male in the Bradley Walsh mould.

Which means that someone, somewhere decided that Doctor Who wouldn't work going forward without a male lead in the mix and on top of that an older white male. Or as my Twitter friend Lisa-Marie puts it:

Can the next showrunner be a woman? Please?