Sunday, 13 August 2017


Going The Jam once sang, long ago, in a tube station far,far away. The Doctor and Romanna find themselves in a subterranean steam punk Dickensian world of giant drills and dodgy dealers. It is territory that lends itself well to this period of Doctor Who history.The moving communities housed within the steam punk moles move beneath the soil of a ravaged world, its like Mad Max Fury Road only with more dirt and seventies working class sensibilities . The drill towns are populated with characters with great names such as Jericho Wigg or Arabella Wagstaff and are running from the monstrous Silex who are pursuing them to the point of extinction.
               Subterranea is a well written piece by Jonathan Morris  that not only brings to mind the atmosphere of the television show of that era but also the early Pat Mills/Dave Gibbons comic strips that used to appear in the old Doctor Who Weekly. In that the characters have a quirky seventies working class speech patterns and yet are also strong characters in their own way. And just look at that cover. There is an almost lost art to album sleeves although it is not one lost on the good people at Big Finish. The look of the era is mirrored by the sound of a very clever atmospheric soundtrack., very synth of that period (Human League "Travelogue" anyone?One of my favourite album covers.)
               During the story, no spoiler here, The Doctor and Romanna are apart for a time.which allows both of them to behave as the Children Of Gallifrey they are, possessed of an almost enfant terrible like ability to adapt to the circumstances they find themselves in. I found myself picturing the wonderful Lalla as she was in what I have seen of the cobbled together recorded pieces of that lost Tom Baker story Shada. She really is on top of her game in this one. When I listen to these stories I sometimes see the shadow of Warriors Gate loom and think how the mirror to another universe awaits. But that moment is not now, not today. Not yet.
                There are a few more stories to go...A big two parter by all accounts..Hurrah!

Pride And Joy.

                                                                      Happy Days!
                                                            Belfast Gay Pride day 2017.

Coppernicus Magilacuddy.

                                                  The story Of A Boy And His Alchemist
                                                              (From my sketchbook)

The Doctor's New Companion.

                                              "The names Humongous..Basil Humongous,
                                                                  How'd you do?"

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Mighty Monkey.

"With great power comes great responsibility ." so said Peter Parker's Uncle Ben. I can barely understand my Uncle Ben, he is so rarely sober but if he could speak intelligibly he would probably say something similar if he was talking to a monkey who understood English. It is an unspoken tag for most super hero myths and this one carries it off with a degree of aplomb Dr. Doolittle would approve off. Mighty monkey is a fantastic new book by local writer Ian Gallagher who I had the pleasure of meeting this week. He and his creative team mate Bryan Heemskerk have devised a wonderful wee tale that rifts on heroic comic book troupes while retaining enough of itself to feel new and fresh. In a series of rhyming couplets the story of Mighty Monkey unfolds as both an inner monologue or for the swarthier among us a performable tale of simian heroics from deep in a dangerous jungle. which is so say "Its great fun read aloud."
             I had the good fortune to meet the writer ian Gallagher and was impressed by his genuine desire to tell a tale for children that would inspire as well as entertain.
             And on the strength of this little Big book he suceeds splendidly.
            Oh yes, I read it out loud.

Twice Upon A Time.

How good is that trailer for the Doctor Who Christmas special Twice Upon a Time.That disolve from black and white to color is goose-bump inducing. Who says you cannot time travel..well, every body I suppose but I mean what a clever way of crossing the decades and different eras.
             And those scenes in the filth of the First World War trenches and Mark Gatiss as that soldier.
Amazing. I imagine nearly every Doctor Who fan went "Aaah, Captain Lethbridge Stewart" as we do. It had such a Rudyard Kipling vibe, I believe he lost a son in that conflict. A terrible time for humanity and one we should never forget. And maybe, just maybe that soldier is some relative of the Brigadier.
             Anybody remember Jona Lewie and stop The Cavalry? that old Christmassey song about life in the trenches and the football match in the snow. A small pop cultural gem that stresses our shared humanity. Stick it on. Watch the twice Upon a Time trailer with the sound turned down.
             We know now that the Christmas special is a perfect storm of endings.
              Let us hope it is also a celebration of new beginnings.
              After that stunning two part finale story they have raised the bar quite high for themselves in terms of assuring that Peter Capaldi's last story is one to never forget. The trailer for this special would indicate that is exactly what we will be getting this Christmas Night. every Christmas being Last Christmas.
              And I must confess as much as I liked everything in this trailer my heart skipped for joy when I heard Pearl Mackie's voice. Oh Bill, I miss you already. Welcome back..
              Welcome home.

Murray and Cant.

Murray and Cant; I mean no disrespect using these fine two men's second names and making them sound like a Dickensian legal firm. I am referring to Gordon Murray and Brian Cant. two men who collaborated , in Gordon Murray's case created, The Trumpton Trilogy of animated shows Trumpton, Chigley and Camberwick Green. Three benign and lovable little English villages where people got by by being kind and helpful to each other. Little folk tales where beautiful but minimally crafted by clever talented people and hark back to an age which maybe only ever really existed in the hearts and minds of those who watched and loved these shows and aspired to a kinder plain of existence. Sadly both men passed away this June;Brian on June the 17th and Gordon on 30th June. A bad, sad  June
                                               Mister Brian Cant and mister Windy Miller.