Mark Gatiss to play Dracula

Following the success of Big Finish’s dramatisation of Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus, writer Jonathan Barnes (The Somnambulist, The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes) and producer/director Scott Handcock (The Confessions of Dorian Gray) have reunited to bring another classic gothic horror to life on audio.

Mark Gatiss will star as Count Dracula,  in a brand new full-cast dramatisation of famous Bram Stoker creation.

Gatiss said:

“It’s a part I’ve always wanted to play, I’ve been rehearsing for forty-eight years. You may be able to tell that in the relish and bloodied glee in which I approach this role!”

Scott Handcock added:

We started talking about tackling Dracula not long after finishing work on Frankenstein and I always knew I wanted Mark to be my Count. Thankfully, he didn’t disappoint. From the instant the project was mooted, through to recording and beyond, he’s been nothing short of incredibly enthusiastic. He has such a distinctive voice, and brings a real sense of dread and brooding menace to proceedings.

Mark Gatiss is well-known horror aficionado, whom hosted the brilliant ‘A History of horror’ series,  for the BBC. He brought touches of his passion in to projects such as The Leauge of gentleman, Sherlock and of course his work on Doctor Who, both the main show and Big Finish.

Joining Mark Gatiss for this production are Deirdre Mullins (Man Down, The Frankenstein Chronicles) and Joseph Kloska (Pete Versus Life) as Mina and Jonathan Harker; Nigel Betts (You, Me & Them, Boy Meets Girl) as Abraham Van Helsing; Rupert Young (Merlin, The White Queen) as John Seward; and David Menkin (Zero Dark Thirty, Thunderbirds Are Go) as Quincey P. Morris.
Also lending their vocal talents are Alex Jordan as Arthur Holmwood; Rosanna Miles as Lucy Westenra; Ian Hallard as Renfield; Elizabeth Morton as Mary Westenra; Edward Petherbridge as Mr Swales; and Katy Manning as Sister Agatha.

Dracula will be released in May 2016 – 119 years after the story’s original publication – spanning three hours on three CDs, with a bonus fourth CD comprising interviews with the cast and crew, plus a suite of James Dunlop’s score for the production. The four-disc set is available to pre-order now at a discounted price of £20 (CD) or £15 (download).

I can’t wait.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate reprising their roles for Big Finish.

Audio production company, Big Finish announced today that both David Tennant and Catherine Tate will be reprising their roles as The Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble for a new series of audio adventures.
Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Adventures will be released in May 2016 and is comprised of three full cast audio adventures.

The series opens with Doctor Who – The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Technophobia by Matt Fitton, which is set in a London slightly in the future, where mankind is gradually losing its ability to use everyday technology. Could there be an evil force at work?

In Doctor Who – The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Time Reaver by Jenny T Colgan the Doctor and Donna arrive on Calibris – ‘An entirely mechanical planet. Catch, hitch, fuel, fix, buy, pretty much any kind of transportation in existence.’ It’s also a world full of scoundrels, where a deadly black market has opened up in a device known only as the Time Reaver.

Finally, in Doctor Who – The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Death and the Queen by James Goss, Donna is swept along in a fairytale romance and meets the man of her dreams in the beautiful land of Goritania. What can possibly go wrong? And why has the Doctor never heard of Goritania?

Find out more details at www.bigfinish.com

 

Audio review:Criss-Cross

Pete and I had a chat about Doctor Who: Criss Cross, by Big Finish.

Martyn: With over 16 years of audio adventures, the biggest problem with the Doctor Who range used to be ‘where do you start?’

Pete: In a way, everyone jumps into Doctor Who in the middle; there’s a certain joy to discovering the world we’re dropped into, in our own order.

M: It can still seem daunting for new listeners to climb on board the Big Finish train. Recently they’ve decided to play down the continuity of the first 200 and provide a fresh jumping on point for new listeners. The first three focused on the Seventh Doctor and Mel.

P: Return of the Sontarans was really fun; I liked your review.

M: Criss-Cross kicks off a brand new trilogy for the Sixth Doctor and Constance Clarke. In a very time-wimey way, we met her in The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure.

P: The extras for that mention how Colin Baker needed some convincing to sign his character’s death warrant. But he needn’t have worried; it just left me wanting more. It must have helped him, though, to have a glimpse of the future in there.

M: Written by Matt Fitton, Criss-Cross tells the story of the ‘Wrens’ working at the Bletchley Park codebreaking facility in World War II. They start out dealing with and becoming suspicious of the eccentric ‘Doctor John Smith.’

P: This is super timely, too. There’s a new book by Tessa Dunlop about the women of Bletchley Park, BBC2 have just done a doco on somebody besides Alan Turing and of course there’s the Imitation Game film with Cumberbatch.

M: This one’s a gripping war-time story – suspicion and espionage, with hints of sci-fi thrown in. The characters are spies, double agents, Nazis and code-breakers. Matt Fitton manages to perfectly encapsulate the horrendous situations people in war often found themselves. The period feels authentic and Constance Clarke is very much of her time.

P: They’ve given her an absent husband like Emma Peel had, but perhaps not like that; we’ll see. Mrs Clarke is both a foil and an asset, which is really good for ‘old sixie.’ Miranda Raison pitches it just right; I remember her from Wreck of the Titan. I’m also hoping to see her in A Winter’s Tale, a new live HD theatre project Kenneth Branagh is doing.

M: Colin is at the top of his game here, the chemistry with Miranda Raison is impeccable, it’s up there with the Seventh Doctor and Ace, or Ten and Donna.

John Hurt returns as The War Doctor for Big Finish

Big Finish announced today that John Hurt will reprise his role as The War Doctor for a series of audios.

The adventures of The War Doctor will be told over four box sets, each containing three linked hour-long episodes. The first is titled ‘Only The Monstrous’, and is written and directed by Nicholas Briggs.

“The story of the Doctor who refuses to call himself the Doctor in order to do the unthinkable upon the ultimate battlefield — all of space and time — was irresistible to me,” says Nicholas. “Such a deeply disturbing and engaging character created by the formidable talents of writer Steven Moffat and actor John Hurt. It’s such a privilege to be working on this.”

The cast of The War Doctor also includes Jacqueline Pearce, who plays Time Lord Cardinal Ollistra — an arch manipulator who is waging the Time War against the Daleks. Jacqueline starred in The Two Doctors as Chessene and she is known to many science fiction fans for her role as Servalan in the cult classic Blake’s 7.

Only The Monstrous will be released in December 2015, and will be followed in February 2016 by the second volume, Infernal Devices, which is written by John Dorney, Phil Mulryne and Matt Fitton. Volumes Three and Four are currently in pre-production.

In addition to The War Doctor, November 2017 also sees a prequel box set to the saga, Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor — The Time War, which will follow the early stages of the Time War from the Eighth Doctor’s perspective. Paul McGann stars, alongside characters first introduced in the War Doctor box sets.

If you only listen to one podcast with John Hurt, listen to the one he did with Big Finish. If you listen to two podcasts with John Hurt, then listen to my podcast with John Hurt.

Doctor Who: The Third Doctor Adventures

The natural impulse for genre fans granted new material, before they’ve even enjoyed it, is to put it on the shelf. Its ability to ‘fit in’ seems so important at first but why would we want exactly what we have? What we get with these Third Doctor Adventures isn’t a lonely replay of a dusty videocassette. It’s the fresh sound of a graduate Doctor.

From Peter Davison to David Tennant we’ve seen our favourite performers return in victory laps on audio that have become regular gigs. The actors don’t sound quite like they did on telly but before long the wonder of the experience takes over. Suddenly we’re not reliving the past; we’re experiencing a special sort of future.

The occasional sibilant ‘s’ of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, the easy confidence, that delightful vocal texture, they’re all there but so is Tim Treloar. The Welsh actor has certainly taken on the southeast England style of Jon Pertwee but most importantly, he’s gone beyond the skill of the impressionist to give us a character that fits right in with the remarkable animal that is this 21st century return to the Pertwee years.

Alongside are Katy Manning as Jo Grant and Richard Frankin as Mike Yates. Having been delighted with their performances as Iris Wildthyme and the retired Captain Yates, it was lovely to hear them cast their voices back a few decades into the characters that made them famous. Of course, we’re getting a graduate Classic Jo and a graduate Classic Yates but this should be no surprise (or worry) to regular listeners to Big Finish audio drama.

Before long, The Doctor is disturbing the room as he upbraids a bureaucrat, Jo is making battle armour out of her faith in him and Yates is, well, getting chances to be more heroic than ever. Big Finish is generous like that. And the gap in the shelf behind me is forgotten completely.

Having dropped five paragraphs on why things shouldn’t slavishly imitate our best loved Pertwee adventures, I must mention that the music is absolutely spot on. Prisoners of the Lake has the musical style of The Sea Devils but with a very welcome melodic quality and Havoc of Empires has a Dudley Simpson style with friendly tones evocative of the Third Doctor’s first serial on TV.

The only true oddity is the narration sprinkled throughout the stories which might have been Big Finish treading carefully, couching Treloar as both narrator and Doctor. They needn’t have bothered but certain action sequences play quite well narrated, whereas in dialogue the characters would have had to illustrate the action for us in odd sorts of ways.

Big Finish know well each era of classic Doctor Who and their output is forward-thinking, waxing creative and progressive in precisely the areas of the old series that we’d like expanded or redressed. The Third Doctor Adventures continue this trend. Roll on, Doctor Treloar!

Doctor Who: The Third Doctor Adventures at Big Finish

Review-Big Finish: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 

Following their successful adaptations of genre classics such as Dorian Gray and Frankenstein, Big Finish have now produced an audio adventure based Frank Baum’s The World of Oz.

After a tornado hits her home in Kansas, Dorothy and her dog Toto find themselves in the magical Land of Oz.

The house sets down in Munchkin land and accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the East, by landing on her.

Dorothy and Toto then embark on an epic journey to find the only person who can help them return home, the legendary Wizard of Oz.
They quickly make friends with a brainless Scarecrow, a heartless Tin Man and cowardly Lion. Realising they all want to see the Wizard, the group travel together.

Sadly for Dorothy, The Wicked Witch of the West is seeking revenge for the death of her sister.

Frank Baum’s original novel differs greatly from the 1939 MGM musical and, adaptations of either tend to go two ways, they’re either very faithful, or they try to be edgy and new. Marc Platt has opted to faithfully adapted L. Frank Baum’s original novel.

The performances are all top-notch, Ally Doman shines as Dorothy, as do Stuart Milligan as Oz, Rachel Atkins as The Wicked Witch of the West, and Big Finish regular, Dan Starkey as the Monkey Captain.

Oz purists will love this.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate heading to Big Finish?

You may or may not be aware that the audio production company Big Finish have recently secured the rights to use modern Doctor Who characters, in their audio adventures. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart is getting a Spin-Off, as is River Song, Churchill and most recently, Torchwood. 

But currently, they haven’t used any new Doctors. Well, according to well-known FAN SITE Blogtor Who that’s about to change. They’ve reported that both David Tennant and Catherine Tate are going to reprise their roles as The Doctor and Donna in 2016.

Until Big Finish confirm, this should be treated as a rumour. They haven’t posted anything on their site yet. Check out the full story here

Big Finish review-The Yes Men

The Yes Men is the first in a new four part series of full cast audio stories called ‘Early Adventures’. These adventures are focusing on the second Doctor and his various different companions.

Fan favourite Frazer Hines reprises his role as Jamie and also plays The Second Doctor. Anneke Wills acts as narrator as well as reprises her role as Polly.
As Michael Craze sadly passed away in the late nineties, the role of Ben Jackson has been recast with Elliot Chapman.

The story starts with the Doctor wanting to visit his old friend Meg Carvossa, on the Earth colony of New Houston. Shortly after arriving, team TARDIS find that Meg has died in a mysterious way. That’s not the only problem, the helper robots have started acting a bit shifty.

What follows is a suspenseful tale of suspicion and death.

I know a lot of hardcore fans are unhappy with the recasting of pivotal roles, I am not one of them. I want Early era Big Finish stories and this is the only way we’re going to get them.

Elliot Chapman is phenomenal as Ben. It’s as if Michael Craze never left us, Chapman plays the role with the upmost respect for Craze, yet he also manages to make the role his own. The result is mesmerising.
I’m a huge fan of Frazer Hines, so I hate to type this. But, I don’t rate his turn as The Second Doctor. He can do a really decent impression of Patrick Troughton but that doesn’t really work for a 2hr audio play.
Other than that, everything else is up to the high standards we’ve come to expect from Big Finish. The script is solid, the direction is flawless and the music adds to the atmosphere. Stephen Critchlow is excellent as the mono toned Yes Men.

I look forward to hearing what the next set of Early Adventures brings us, but I’m especially intrigued to see what Elliot Chapman does with Ben Jackson.

Episode 143:Torchwood-The Conspiracy 

In which Martyn and Gerrod review the first of the new Torchwood range, by Big Finish.

*The review contains mild spoilers*

Captain Jack Harkness has always had his suspicions about the Committee. And now Wilson is also talking about the Committee. Apparently the world really is under the control of alien lizards. That’s what Wilson says. People have died, disasters have been staged, the suspicious have disappeared.

It’s outrageous.

Only Jack knows that Wilson is right. The Committee has arrived.

Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners.

Next episode includes interviews with Verne Troyer, Ray Panthanki and Adeel Akhtar.

The podcast can be accessed via different places, including Audioboom, Player fm and Itunes.

Follow the Bad Wilf team:

Martyn – @BadWilf

Pete – @BeeblePete

Gerrod – @gerrod_edward

Also check out the official Bad Wilf Vlog.

Review- Big Finish:Terror of the Sontarans

Terror of the Sontarans concludes the trilogy of main range stories for the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Mel (Bonnie Langford).

The adventure takes place on a mining facility, which is now acting as a Sontaran research base. The Doctor and Mel are responding to a distress beacon and have arrived to find the base seemingly empty. Deep down in the depths of the facility, they stumble across the original crew, whom are being held prisoner.

Something is picking the crew off one-by-one and even the Sontarans are running scared.

I’ll admit, I am one of the Doctor Who fans that doesn’t like how the Sontarans have been handled on the TV series recently. But, with this the writers have found an intriguing balance between the seriousness of the classic Sontarans and the silliness of modern Sontarans and the end result is a perfect blend of the two ideologies.

Bonnie Langford and Sylvester McCoy are flawless here, they sound exactly the same as they did in the 80’s, at times it’s as if they’ve just finished recording an episode for the BBC and entered the recording booth for Big Finish.

Langford really suffered on the TV series, but Big Finish have given her some solid material, that really allows her to shine. She is fast becoming my favourite Big Finish companion.

The direction is also spot-on, by the ever-reliable Ken Bentley.

Big Finish have been consistently good this year, I  can’t wait for 2016.