“The Omega Factor”: Big Finish Gives BBC “X-Files” Influencer 40th Anniv. Audio Drama Sequel [TRAILER]

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/06/2019 - 11:15pm in

The Omega Factor is a 1979 BBC show that had a cult following amongst Science Fiction fans. Now Big Finish Productions has produced a sequel series in audio drama form.

The original BBC series starred Louise Jameson as Anne Reynolds and James Hazeldine as Tom Crane. Jameson had just finished playing Leela on two series of Doctor Who. Tom Crane was a journalist who discovered latent psychic abilities, leading to the secretive Department 7 to recruit him. Crane was partnered with physicist Anne Reynolds to investigate cases involving psychic phenomenon, mind control, spirit possession and poltergeists.

 Big Finish Releases 40th Anniversary Sequel to BBC Show that Inspired "The X Files"Big Finish

Fans of The X Files might know that the show was partly inspired by Kolchak: The Night Stalker, but The Omega Factor was also a major inspiration. It featured prickly characters with complicated relationships and was unabashedly adult, dark, and brooding.

The “Evil” Show that Sparked Moral Panic

Only 10 episodes of the series was ever produced at the BBC, but it made enough of an impression for fans to still remember it fondly. The fact that late overzealous Christian censorship campaigner Mary Whitehouse deemed it “thoroughly evil” only added to its reputation. Whitehouse also condemned episodes of Doctor Who as immoral and evil, so clearly the show is in good company.

Basically, if a scary show was scary in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Whitehouse would freak out and make a public statement. The British newspapers would gleefully run her statements as headlines to sell more papers. She also criticized Robin of Sherwood, Alan Clarke’s Scum and the popular soap opera Brookside. If Whitehouse hated a show or a movie, you could be sure it was good. Consider it a twisted “seal of approval.”

 Big Finish Releases 40th Anniversary Sequel to BBC Show that Inspired "The X Files"Big Finish

As 1979 BBC shows go, The Omega Factor was certainly one of the good ones. It was atmospheric, dark, and scary. That was its job. Whitehouse called it “one of the most disturbing programmes I have ever seen on television.”

What higher recommendation could a show of this nature possibly get?

Big Finish obviously agrees, forging ahead with an in-continuity sequel to the series.

The Audio Drama Sequels that Made Good
 Big Finish Releases 40th Anniversary Sequel to BBC Show that Inspired "The X Files"Big Finish

Big Finish revived the show as an audio drama in 2015, making three new series set in the modern day – with Jameson reprising the role of Anne (now a doctor) and John Dorney playing Adam, the son of Tom (James Hazeldine has since passed away).

“It’s been 30 years since Tom Crane left the department, and Anne Reynolds now continues the work with Adam Crane, Tom Crane’s son. But not everything is right with Adam, and the Department’s past is coming back to haunt them…”

 Big Finish Releases 40th Anniversary Sequel to BBC Show that Inspired "The X Files"Big Finish

Natasha Gerson, daughter of The Omega Factor creator Jack Gerson, played Morag in the series and spoke about how it felt for the series to hit this milestone:

“The Omega Factor was one of my dad’s favourite series and, thanks to Big Finish, it lives on! It’s been an honour and a pleasure to work with David, John, Louise and everyone involved, and writing the novel was a pleasure. I hope the series continues. My dad and the lovely James Hazeldine would be so pleased. Happy 40th, Omega! Happy 91st, Dad!”

cobra kai

Big Finish is offering a special deal on the new audio series: head to the offers page (here) and use the access code DREXEL to take advantage of these special offers (ends at 23:59 (UK time) on 19th June 2019).

The post “The Omega Factor”: Big Finish Gives BBC “X-Files” Influencer 40th Anniv. Audio Drama Sequel [TRAILER] appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

WATCH: The Plot Against Harold Wilson

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/06/2019 - 11:21am in

In 2006, to mark the 30th anniversary of Harold Wilson's retirement, the BBC released "The Plot Against Harold Wilson". It details how, throughout Wilson leadership, MI5 and the CIA were engaged in plans to undermine Wilson - even to the extent of having plans in place for a full-blown military coup should the need arise. The tactics included accusing him of being compromised by the Kremlin, and labelling him as "soft on the IRA".

Stop me if this all sounds familiar.

“Doctor Who”: Our Prescription for a Better Series 12 [OPINION]

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/06/2019 - 11:45pm in

Series 12 of BBC‘s Doctor Who is finally in production – and since it won’t be on the air until 2020, that means everyone gets to speculate on what it’ll be like.

Series 11 was practically a new show – it had a completely new cast, new showrunner, new design and new composer. It was still Doctor Who, same but different – but perhaps too different for some fans. The biggest change, of course, was the Doctor was now a woman. Jodie Whittaker became the first actress to play The Doctor. At heart she was the same character as the last 50 years, but now in a female body. She was the biggest bone of contention amongst fans who didn’t like change. Right-wing sexists screamed and wailed on social media about the show “pandering to political correctness and ‘social justice warriors”.

When series 11 aired, the ratings were higher than previous runs despite fluctuating throughout the seasons. The season was nominated for multiple awards. Two of the episodes – “Rosa” and “Demons of the Punjab” – were even nominated for a Hugo Award.

And yet by season’s end, there was a sense of dissatisfaction with the season. Even fans who liked it sensed something was missing. They wished old villains had returned. Some fans wished former companions returned. Others wished there was more continuity from the show’s lore.

I think the reason the season wasn’t completely satisfying came down to one thing:

There was not enough of the Doctor in it.

doctor whoBBC
The Doctor Should Not Be a Supporting Character on Her Own Show!

For me, the biggest problem with Series 11 is there wasn’t enough of the Doctor in it. She was frequently a supporting character in everyone else’s story. Stuff was already going on with the characters and the Doctor wandered in as a “deus ex machina” to solve everything.

We come away from Series 11 knowing very little about The Doctor. In past seasons, we came to know the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Doctors intimately as their first seasons progressed. We only had one special anniversary episode to meet the War Doctor (John Hurt), and the story was revealed very quickly what drove him and what tormented him. Hell, we only had six minutes to meet the 8th Doctor again in the short The Night of the Doctor. That short prequel to the anniversary special told a complete story of the 8th Doctor’s journey and its end.

Yet this Doctor is still a bit of a mystery.

Yes, fundamentally, the Doctor has the same core character no matter what he or she looks like. The Doctor is an alien who helps people in need throughout Time and Space. Still, every showrunner and every actor finds a variation and a story arc for the Doctor during their run. We didn’t get one for the 13th Doctor’s first season. Every previous season gave the Doctor a personal stake in the story. That’s Screenwriting 101. Personal states for the main character reveal his or her true character. They reveal a character’s inner life and motivations. Each season’s personal arc revealed something new about The Doctor. Without that, The Doctor became a cipher. Just an adventurer in a blue box.

That’s why the moment where the Doctor faced a sentient universe that took the form of a frog stood out so much. It was odd, it was wacky, and it revealed the Doctor’s sense of wonder and loneliness at the same time. It was the one moment in the whole season where the science fiction ideas were unexpected and high concept, and revealed the Doctor’s character. There should have been more of that.

She had no arc of her own. There were hints that she might have a mysterious past unknown even to her – that she’s still trying to run from something – but that was dropped and never mentioned again for the rest of the season. She took a backseat to Graham and Ryan. When she wasn’t handling the science fiction plot, she was just their “best friend” who was the catalyst to their arc. The season was their story – never hers.

doctor whoBBC
The Show is Called “Doctor Who”, Not “Graham and Ryan”!

Graham and Ryan got the bulk of the emotional story in the whole season. Their arc was already in place: Graham was a man in remission from cancer who fell in love with his nurse while in hospital. He married Grace and began a new life as a husband and step-grandfather to Ryan. Ryan was a 19-year-old who lost his mother and an absentee father, raised by Grace and wary of this new man in her life.

The season saw Graham and Ryan gradually change as they went through each adventure. Ryan slowly comes to acknowledge Graham as family and his grandfather. Graham comes to terms with the loss of Grace when he’s confronted with a recreated version of his dead wife. Ryan even gets reconciled with his absentee deadbeat dad.

Graham and Ryan’s arc was the best-written part of the season…but that’s not really Doctor Who.

Instead, it’s boilerplate British drama and soap opera and not science fiction. All the science fiction plots of the season felt like stopgaps before the next part of Graham and Ryan’s arc. Their emotional arc was given more time than the Doctor or Yasmin – neither of whom got an arc at all.

Give Yaz an Actual Personality and Story Arc!

Yasmin Khan is a young community police officer who wants to do more. She has  loving and slightly annoying parents and a sister glued to social media. She decides to travel with the Doctor because her family drives her crazy and she wants to do some good. Not the worst reason to be the Doctor’s companion, but there are no stakes for Yaz here. She could just decide to stay home at any time.

Graham and Ryan decide to travel with the Doctor because they’re in deep mourning for Grace and that reason has poignance. Yaz just… wants to get out of the house?

Many of the Doctor’s past companions traveled with him because they wanted to see more. They wanted to be something bigger. They were unsatisfied with their lives. Rose was just a girl living on a council estate whiling away her time until the Doctor shows her how much more there was out there. She ended up living in an alternate universe reunited with the father she never met and becoming a guardian of Time and Space. Martha Jones was a junior doctor in a London hospital who becomes infatuated with the Doctor and what he represented.

So far, Yaz seems a little bit like Rose – except she’s a cop, which is a callback to Bernard Cribbins’ character in the Peter Cushing movies of the Sixties. She’s such a blank that fans got excited at the possibility that she was bisexual when her mother asked if she was dating Ryan or the Doctor. We have no inkling of Yaz’ inner life the way we did with Rose, Martha or Donna. A main character in a hit show should not be so underdeveloped.

Even in the episode “Demons of the Punjab”, which explored Yaz’ family history, she was not the main character. She was a supporting character in the revelation of her grandmother’s secret history and how the family came to be. Yaz’ family history was a way to explore the history of the Partition of India and Pakistan, but it didn’t reveal anything about Yaz’ character. She, the Doctor, Graham and Ryan were only there to serve the plot.

It’s ironic that for all the victory of a woman playing the Doctor and the first female South Asian companion, the season ended up neglecting both women in favour of mending the male companions’ broken hearts.

Here’s hoping BBC’s Doctor Who Series 12 gives us meatier stories – and The Doctor and Yaz real stories.

The post “Doctor Who”: Our Prescription for a Better Series 12 [OPINION] appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

“Doctor Who”: New Big Finish Audio Drama Gets The (Paternoster) Gang Back Together [PREVIEW]

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/06/2019 - 11:15pm in

For fans of BBC‘s Doctor Who, it’s just the kind of news you want to hear as you await Series 12 in 2020. Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), her resourceful wife Jenny (Catrin Stewart), and their faithful servant and armorer Strax (Dan Starkey) the Sontaran are back and “Victorian London will never be the same again!”

Big Finish Productions have brought back Doctor Who fan favorites Vastra, Jenny, and Strax once again for an impressive new run of adventures. The all-new stories follow the Gang as they investigate unusual happenings in London at the dawn of the 20th Century. Hinting at what is to come, Big Finish had this to say about the series:

doctor whoBig Finish Productions

“They’ll have to cope with the capers of the Bloomsbury bunch! This intergalactic alien trio, comprising a Sontaran (with Christopher Ryan once again playing a Sontaran) and human couple and their Silurian female servant, will be causing trouble in London – and this town isn’t big enough for two extraterrestrial gangs”

The Paternoster Gang: Heritage 1 is the next collection of stories (available now), and includes: 1.1 “The Cars That Ate London written by Jonathan Morris, 1.2 “A Photograph to Remember written by Roy Gill, and 1.3 “The Ghosts of Greenwich written by Paul Morris. Heritage 2, 3 and 4 are available for pre-order ahead of their release in October 2019, March 2020, and October 2020, respectively. You can also catch a preview and audio sample from the collection below.

The actors themselves seem just as excited as the fans are to see the return of The Paternoster Gang. McIntosh gives listeners a taste of what to expect, stating “At last our fans will get more adventures with The Paternoster Gang and will find out more about how we came to be!” Stewart is also excited to be called back into action:

“I genuinely would have loved to have been back for more in Peter Capaldi’s time as the Doctor. The audio series is a great idea as you can explore so much more than you can on the television. I’m really excited!”

doctor whoBig Finish Productions

Longtime fans of Doctor Who will be delighted with the return of Madame Vastra’s connections and intrigue, Jenny’s fighting skills, and Strax’s weapons overkill. In fact, Dan Starkey had a little trouble leaving Strax in the studio when he was quoted saying:

“Remain calm, human scum! Strax need no longer sulk and polish his grenades! It’ll be a pleasure to get the gang back together: Big Finish listeners can be assured that we’ll be in full prosthetics and restrictive Victorian tailoring in studio to get right back into the Paternoster Row vibe! Can’t wait to get started!”

As Doctor Who fans make the long slog through 2019 without any new television episodes, it is exciting to once again have some kick-ass lady adventures to look forward to. I’ll see you on Paternoster Row!

Victorian London harbours many secrets: alien visitors, strange phenomena and unearthly powers.

But a trio of investigators stands ready to delve into such mysteries – the Great Detective, Madame Vastra, her resourceful spouse, Jenny Flint, and their loyal valet, Strax.

If an impossible puzzle needs solving, or a grave injustice needs righting, help can be found on Paternoster Row.

But even heroes can never escape their past…

1.1 The Cars That Ate London! by Jonathan Morris

The advent of electric carriages on London’s streets causes a stir – until they start careening out of control. Elsewhere, factory workers lose their senses, while a brand-new power plant suffers mysterious outages.

Genius industrialist Fabian Solak has a vision of the future – free from pollution, running on clean electricity. But Madame Vastra knows such ideas are ahead of their time…

1.2 A Photograph to Remember by Roy Gill

The Paternoster Gang are shocked to discover a rival group on the streets. A Sontaran, a Silurian and a human – only their intentions are not quite so noble as Madame Vastra and friends.

And when the recently-photographed dead begin to return home, strangely altered, will this ‘Bloomsbury Bunch’ be more of a help or a hindrance?

1.3 The Ghosts of Greenwich by Paul Morris

Strange things are happening to the people of Greenwich. Phantoms of the living appear, while others are aged beyond their years. A cloaked figure stalks the streets, and time is out of joint.

Vastra, Jenny and Strax find all clues point towards the Meridian Line. Beneath the Royal Observatory lies a secret – something terribly ancient and horribly dangerous…

“The Paternoster Gang: Heritage 1” – as well as a number of other Paternoster Gang titles – are available now from Big Finish.

The post “Doctor Who”: New Big Finish Audio Drama Gets The (Paternoster) Gang Back Together [PREVIEW] appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

“Worzel Gummidge”: MacKenzie Crook Plays Talking Scarecrow in New BBC Children’s Series

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/06/2019 - 10:25am in

MacKenzie Crook is set to play Worzel Gummidge, a role previously played by Jon Pertwee, otherwise known as Doctor Who‘s Third Doctor. The BBC has released the first photograph of Crook in full make-up and costume in the new children’s series adapted from the classic books.

As the BBC announced in their press release,

“Their worlds should never commune but fate has conspired to create an extraordinary union. The seasons have stopped and the harvest hasn’t arrived. The rhythm of the natural world is out of kilter and this unlikely trio must try to put it right. Magic, mystery and mayhem unfurl.”

worzel gummidgeBBC
So Exactly Who – or What – is Worzel Gummidge?

When Americans see his name, they think they might be having a stroke. Take a deep breath. There is nothing wrong with you. That name is deliberate.

Worzel Gummidge is a talking scarecrow who befriends two children in a series of 10 books by Barbara Euphan Todd, published from 1936 to 1963. The character starred in the BBC children’s radio series Children’s Hour during the Second World War and a four-part TV series in 1953. Many people remember him from the ITV children’s TV series that ran from 1979 to 1981 starring Pertwee, who was best known for his turn as the Doctor in Doctor Who. Pertwee reprised the role in Worzel Gummidge Down Under, a two-season series in 1987 that was shot in New Zealand – and he even had a scarecrow girlfriend played by Una Stubbs.

worzel gummidgeITV

British audiences know Crook better than Americans do. He first came to fame as Gareth in the original BBC version of The Office: the character that was reconfigured in the US remake into Dwight Schrute, played by Rainn Wilson. Crook went on to play Ragetti in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies. On television, he appeared in six episodes of Game of Thrones. He wrote and directed as well as starred in the hit BAFTA-winning series The Detectorists, which is now on Netflix. He currently plays Veran the Druid in the Sky TV and Amazon Prime series Britannia.

A New Series Set in the Present Day

Crook is also writing and directing the new Worzel Gummidge TV movies. The two one-hour episodes will update the story to the present day. The first episode “The Scarecrow of Scatterbrook” sets the scene when two kids John and Susan discover the scarecrow who walks and talks. Worzel Gummidge is equally surprised that these kids are not scarecrows. Hijinks ensue.

The second episode “The Green Man” taps into Old English folklore. The Green Man is the creator and keeper of Scarecrow lore – and he does not like Worzel Gummidge. He is especially appalled that Gummidge is consorting with humans. It also introduces local aristocrat Lady Bloomsbury Barton, who holds an annual scarecrow competition like a beauty contest. Worzel Gummidge sets out to win but faces stiff competition from rival scarecrow Soggy Bogart.

Did I already point out that this series is very, very English?

“I’m thrilled to be back working with the BBC and many members of the Detectorists team to bring Worzel Gummidge to a new generation of viewers and reintroduce him to old friends. Adapting Barbara Euphan Todd’s books into these two films has been a joy and I’ve completely fallen for her charming, irreverent scarecrow. Fingers crossed for a glorious English summer as we head out to Scatterbrook Farm and Worzel’s Ten Acre Field.”

– MacKenzie Crook

We can safely assume that this will be a children’s show, not a grim and gritty reboot with swearing, violence or mothers named Martha.

The new Worzel Gummidge will premiere on BBC1 in the UK later in the year.

The post “Worzel Gummidge”: MacKenzie Crook Plays Talking Scarecrow in New BBC Children’s Series appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

“Star Trek: Discovery/Doctor Who Crossover Christmas Special”: The Gift That Keeps on Giving [OPINION]

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/06/2019 - 11:45pm in

As a devout fan of both BBC‘s Doctor Who and CBS All AccessStar Trek: Discovery, I am facing at least another seven months without new episodes of either show…

Woe is me.

Adding insult to injury? For a second year in a row, Christmas Day will come and go without a Doctor Who special. To console myself and lovers of female-led science fiction television everywhere (and who isn’t, am I right?), I have crafted the Star Trek: Discovery/Doctor Who Crossover Christmas Special we all deserve.

So crank up the AC, light a fire in the fireplace, pour yourself some eggnog, and join me for “A Doctor, A Time, and A Place.”

Merry Christmas from Doctor Who

Part 1: When Michael Burnham Met the Thirteenth Doctor

The episode opens with a silent visual of Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) in the Red Angel suit seconds after she was sucked into the temporal distortion – the flashing lights of time and space flying soundlessly by. Suddenly, we hear the TARDIS. The blue box materializes around Burnham.  As the view switches to the inside of the TARDIS, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) uses her sonic screwdriver to pause the time crystal on Burnham’s Red Angel suit. Michael steps out of her suit and yells at the Doctor for getting in the way and screwing up the Discovery’s trip through time.

The Doctor hands Burnham a cup of tea and a biscuit and explains that through the “wibbly wobbly” of time, the Discovery is still following Burnham. The whole journey is just momentarily paused, frozen in time. The two women find common ground in having a crew of people they love, and the responsibility of leading that crew into danger. Both carry the weight of the world (or universe) on their shoulders – even if they deal with it differently.

Burnham is distracted by thoughts of her mother, Dr. Gabrielle Burnham. Michael wonders if she has what it takes to make the hard choices when it comes to saving the universe. The Doctor suggests a test, she will use the TARDIS to assist Burnham in investigating her past, present, and future decisions. Right before they fire up the TARDIS, the Doctor explains that the trip will take them to three fixed points in time along Burnham’s timeline, points in which the outcome cannot be altered.

Sonja Sohn CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Steve Wilkie/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Part 2: Michael Burnham Past

The first stop is the night on Doctari Alpha when Michael’s parents, Gabrielle and Mike Burnham (Kenric Green), were supposedly killed in a Klingon attack. A child when the attack happened, Michael hid in a closet and survived. Last season, Leland (Alan Van Sprang) didn’t believe that the Red Angel could be Gabrielle Burnham because he saw her body on Doctari Alpha after the attack. In the Doctor and Michael’s trip back, we finally see why.

During the attack, Dr. Burnham arrives in her Red Angel suit outside the closet where young Michael is hiding. Gabrielle is killed still wearing her Red Angel suit. Michael realizes that for all of the seemingly cold decisions Dr. Burnham made for the greater good, she sacrificed her life for Michael in the end. You can see it on Michael’s face, the moment she realizes that her mother will someday travel to the past and never return.

Sonequa Martin-Green CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Steve Wilkie/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Part 3: Michael Burnham Present

From Doctari Alpha, the Doctor and Burnham travel to the Michael’s present. However, instead of being within the time anomaly or even on the Discovery, Michael and the Doctor find themselves in a secret Section 31 facility on Earth. The Doctor uses her sonic screwdriver to pull up the debrief statements from everyone that was at that final battle between Discovery, the Enterprise, and the Section 31. Michael listens as her friends, colleagues, brother, foster parents, former Captain, and former boyfriend all discuss her heroic death. Then, Burnham discovers that Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) is collecting all possible data on Red Angel or Discovery sightings. He is still looking her her.

In that moment, Burnham realizes that despite her mistakes, including at the Battle of the Binary Stars, her recent actions prove she is a mature, level-headed officer capable of making the hard decisions when it counts. She is not her mother, or her adopted father, or her commanding officers, she is Commander Michael Burnham.

 Discovery - Doctor Who Crossover Christmas Special We All Deserve [OPINION]BBC Studios
Part 4: Michael Burnham Future

Finally, the Doctor sets the TARDIS for the 32nd century, Burnham’s expected destination once she exits the temporal distortion. The TARDIS lands in the cargo bay of a very different Discovery. Disguised in uniforms, the Doctor and Burnham see old friends and new species of aliens. Most shocking of all, there are Klingons now serving on the Discovery. And they look like regular, The Next Generation/Deep Space Nine Klingons! Then in a fitting twist, the ship’s computer has merged with the Sphere data and is a fully sentient artificial intelligence.

By the time the Doctor and Burnham are filing back into the TARDIS, Burnham is once again feeling hopeful for the future. She no longer fears that she has led her friends and crew members into certain doom. We never learn who is in command of the Discovery, or what has become of Burnham herself in the 32nd century, but the Doctor will not show Michael anything else. Spoilers and all that.

CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Ben Mark Holzberg/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Part 5: Michael Burnham Confronts Her Future

In a rare moment of precision, the Doctor maneuvers the TARDIS back to the exact time and location where it first picked up Michael. Burnham dons the suit, the Doctor reactivates it, and Michael is thrown out of the TARDIS doors and back into the silent, colorful temporal distortion. The TARDIS and the Doctor disappear, having secured Earth’s future once again.

Seconds later, the Red Angel suit, with Michael inside, is thrown into the stillness and darkness of space. Stars appear all around. We see Michael jolt and open her eyes within the suit as the Discovery appears behind her.

Was it a dream?

Did she really meet the Doctor and see the future?

Watch the Season 3 premier of Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access to find out…if only in our dreams.

 DiscoveryCBS All Access
Meanwhile, Back in 2019…

I hope you enjoyed my “ultimate Christmas Special” episode. In reality, Doctor Who and Star Trek: Discovery face very different situations when they premier new episodes in 2020.

Discovery is coming off of a highly-regarded second season that delved into nostalgia and turned canon on its ear. With the show’s third season, writers and producers have an opportunity to explore the 32nd century. Now set in a timeline no previous Star Trek series has explored, Discovery will hopefully find renewed creative freedom.

Doctor Who returns in 2020 after an entire year without new episodes. After an excellent – though some would say divisive – first season with the Thirteenth Doctor, showrunner Chris Chibnall is facing renewed criticism from several sides. Fans of Whittaker’s Doctor are upset with Chibnall’s slow production speed and shortened seasons. Critics of last season blame Chibnall for… well… everything. Viewers are hoping for a more balanced, action-packed, and consistent Series 12.

CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery and BBC’s Doctor Who are set to return in 2020.

The post “Star Trek: Discovery/Doctor Who Crossover Christmas Special”: The Gift That Keeps on Giving [OPINION] appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

“Blake’s 7,” “Doctor Who” Actor Paul Darrow Passes Away, Age 78

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/06/2019 - 11:15pm in

The BBC reported on Monday that actor Paul Darrow, best known for his role as Avon on Blake’s 7 as well as his work on dozens of television series throughout his career, passed away after a brief illness at the age of 78.

For many Science Fiction fans, Blake’s 7 is a classic show unique for its dark, downbeat tone. It pitted Rog Blake, an idealistic rebel leader as he led a rag-tag crew of crooks and ex-cons in a doomed fight against the corrupt galactic Federation. Darrow achieved stardom from playing the cold, calculating and amoral Avon, who often opposed Blake’s decisions but became reluctantly loyal to his cause. After Gareth Thomas, who played Blake, left the show after the first series, Darrow effectively took over as the lead. Avon was still cynical but reluctantly led the rebellion in Blake’s absence.

paul darrowBBC

Darrow studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and shared a flat with fellow actors John Hurt and Ian McShane. Hurt, of course, played Quentin Crisp, became the first death in Alien and played the War Doctor on Doctor Who. McShane starred in the British crime comedy series Lovejoy and is now most famous for playing Wednesday on American Gods and Al Swearengen on Deadwood.

Paul Darrow Never Stopped Working

Apart from Blake’s 7, Darrow appeared in over 200 TV shows in Britain, including Z Cars, The Saint, Emmerdale, Holyoaks, Doctor Who (both in the 1970s and 1980s), and Little Britain. His resumé is really too long to list, and he was well-liked in the industry and known for his sense of humour. The latter was often on display in his many convention appearances.

In the past 10 years, he has been the voice for radio stations Jack FM and Union Jack, providing announcements and soundbites for listeners:

Back to Avon

But it’s Avon and Blake’s 7 that he will always be remembered for. He played Avon as the most drily sardonic and ruthlessly cynical “Captain Sensible” of the show. This was already enough to cement his place in Science Fiction fandom forever, but it was the ending of the fourth season that unwittingly became the ending of the show when the BBC declined to renew it.

The last 5 minutes of the season finale saw Avon gun down Blake for betraying the cause. Federation troops then burst in and gunned down everyone else, leaving Avon the last man standing. Surrounded by enemy troops all aiming at him, Avon smiled and raised his gun. A shot rang out as the credits rolled. This ending made Blake’s 7 the bleakest ending for a Science Fiction show ever. Its influence on many Science Fiction shows since can be felt to this day.

Fans yearned for a sequel to Blake’s 7 for years and yearn for it still. Darrow maintained his interest in reprising Avon when and if the opportunity arose. He even bought the rights in the 1990s to try to make an official sequel. Big Finish Productions has produced several new Blake’s 7 audio dramas in 2012 and Darrow was more than happy to play Avon on those.

Last year, he was in Big Finish’s 40th anniversary production Blake’s 7: The Way Ahead.

That was possibly the final time he played Avon… a role that made him famous… that he made famous… to the very end.

The post “Blake’s 7,” “Doctor Who” Actor Paul Darrow Passes Away, Age 78 appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

Private Eye’s Ian Hislop Pushes the Anti-Semitism Smears on Have I Got News For You

This is another issue that I couldn’t let pass without comment. On Friday on the Beeb’s satirical news quiz show, Have I Got News For You, Ian Hislop took it upon himself once more to push the establishment smear that anti-Semitism is rife in Labour. The editor of Private Eye was responding to a question about the expulsion of Alistair Campbell, Blair’s former spin doctor, by the party for saying he voted Lib Dem in the elections. As Mike and Martin Odoni have shown on their blogs, Labour has Campbell bang to rights. What he’s done is very much against Labour party regulations. And Martin has further pointed out that there is no hypocrisy on Jeremy Corbyn’s part for his congratulation of George Galloway when he won Bradford West for the Respect Party. He was only doing what other Labour leaders have done before, such as Neil Kinnock when he congratulated John Major on becoming leader of the Tories. There really isn’t any comparison of the two cases. See

Campbell whined about how there was a difference between his case and those of members accused of anti-Semitism. Mike pointed out that Campbell’s whinge was a case of sour grapes, and there were differences between his and other Labour party members. Like Kerry-Ann Mendoza, the mighty chief of The Canary, had been thrown out of the party for admitting she voted Green before she joined the Labour party. As for those accuse of anti-Semitism, if they are high-up in the Labour party, and aren’t supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, an excuse will be found not to investigate them and exonerate them. If they’re high-profile supporters of Corbyn, any excuse will be found to expel them. As happened to Mike, who didn’t get any right to appeal.

Alastair Campbell expelled from Labour – but he thinks HE has been mistreated

Hislop, however, is ignorant of all of this, and followed Campbell’s line, ranting that no-one had been expelled for anti-Semitism with a sneer at Ken Livingstone. Livingstone, he claimed, was particularly foul because he had said that Hitler was ‘a little bit Zionist’. 

This comes just after the Equalities and Human Rights Commission announced it was investigating Labour for anti-Semitism, and the MP, Peter Willsman, was suspended on anti-Semitism charges. Why? He claimed quite reasonably that the Israeli embassy may be interfering in the internal politics of the Labour Party. It is an entirely reasonable question, given that Shai Masot, the Israeli embassy official guilty of plotting to decide with British civil servants which Tories would serve in May’s cabinet, offered Joan Ryan of Labour Friends of Israel £1 million in funding at a Labour conference. See

The Peter Willsman debate is a parade of ignorance

As for the assertion that Livingstone was somehow lying about Hitler’s support for Zionism, no, it’s historical fact. Mike, Tony Greenstein, myself and many, many other bloggers have made it very clear that this is so, quoting chapter and verse from the relevant sources. As has John Newsinger, a historian at one Bath’s excellent universities, who is a regular contributor to the conspiracy magazine, Lobster. Hitler and the Nazis did indeed initially support the Zionists from the cynical motive of simply wishing to get the Jews out of Germany. It’s called the Ha’avara Agreement, and there’s even a page about it on the website of the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem, in Israel.

But history, genuine history, in this case, rather than establishment smears, appears to be utterly foreign to Hislop in this issue.

Just as it is to his magazine, Private Eye. I still read it, and it contains much excellent material, but it has consistently smeared Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites. These have included smear pieces from its correspondent ‘Ratbiter’, alias the Groaniad’s Nick Cohen. Like the rest of the lamestream media, it completely accepts the anti-Semitism smear unquestioningly. And it has never, ever interviewed anyone on the receiving end of those smears, like Mike, Martin, Tony, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Cyril Chilson and on and on.

If you’re falsely smeared as an anti-Semite, Ian Hislop and his magazine were support the smear and the smearers, not you.

Which gives the lie to his claim that his magazine is somehow anti-establishment and brings you the stories the other parts of the media won’t touch. Admittedly, this is often true, but on certain issues Hislop, Private Eye and Have I Got News For You solidly toe the establishment line. The anti-Semitism smears about the Labour party is one case. The claim that Putin is the aggressor in the Ukraine and a threat to the freedom of the eastern European states is another.

I’ve been tempted many times to write a letter of complaint to Private Eye about their promotion of the anti-Semitism smears, but I’m afraid it would do no good. They either wouldn’t publish it, or would publish it in a very carefully edited form that would deliberately weaken my argument and allow them to publish a reply that appeared to refute it completely. Or else I’d find that my details had been passed on to the CAA or other Zionist smear merchants and trolls, and I’d be accused in turn of being an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier like Mike. Are Hislop and his crew at Private Eye that nasty? I hope not, but as they are part of the media establishment, and the media establishment is that vicious, I’d rather not find out.

As for Have I Got News For You, Hislop and the Beeb were boasting a few months ago that people trust it more than the ordinary newspapers, especially asylum seekers, who come from countries where the state heavily controls and censors the news. This is dangerous, because the BBC itself is very heavily biased against Labour, and consistently follows the Tory, government line. Which is unsurprising, given the number of Beeb newsroom staff, who left to find jobs working as the Tories’ spin doctors. Have I Got News For You appears to be impartial, but it also follows the government line in pushing certain interpretations of news stories. The fact that the Maidan Revolution in the Ukraine in 2012 was carefully orchestrated by the American State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy, will definitely not be covered, either by the mainstream British news or by Have I Got News For You and Hislop’s mighty organ, Private Eye. And neither will they ever publish the truth behind the anti-Semitism smears.

Hislop once again ignores history to smear Livingstone, the Labour Party, and everyone, who has been false accused of anti-Semitism. And despite the satire, Have I Got News For You is, like much of the Beeb’s news coverage when it comes to Labour, fake news.

Robert Stuart vs the BBC

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/05/2019 - 6:06pm in

It’s a David vs Goliath story. A former local newspaper reporter, Robert Stuart, is taking on the British Broadcasting Corporation. Stuart believes that a sensational video story about an alleged atrocity in Syria “was largely, if not entirely, staged.”

Jeanette Winterson’s Cyberfeminist New Tale of Frankenstein, AI and Sex Robots

A week or so ago I put up several articles criticising Ian McEwan’s latest book as another example of mainstream, literary writers’ appropriation of Science Fictional subjects. As I said in these articles, what annoys me about this is the higher respect given to these works, even though genre authors have frequently tackled the subjects much better. Private Eye in its piece describing how the literary set were turning to robots and AI said that after McEwan’s book would come one by Jeanette Winterson. This is Frankissstein: A Love Story, which was reviewed in Friday’s issue of the I, for 24th May 2019 by Lucy Scholes, on page 44 of the paper.

I realise that it’s dangerous to comment on a book you’ve never read, and that reviews can be notoriously inaccurate guides to what a book or other work is actually like. I can remember the Oxford poet, Tom Paulin on the Late Review about two decades or more ago really attacking the Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, as a piece of Nazi cinema in precisely so many words. He had a point in that some groups had felt that the film was somehow racist and discriminatory, particularly in the portrayal of Jar Jar Binks. Binks, it was held, was a caricature of Blacks, Hispanics or gays. But many others didn’t find anything racist or homophobic in the movie, and Paulin’s attack was itself a grotesque misrepresentation of the movie itself.

But Scholes’ brief description of the book and its themes raise issues that deserve comment and criticism.

The Plot

The book is split between two periods. The first is that night in 1816 in the Villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva when Byron, his lover, Claire Clairmont, the Shelleys and their doctor, John Polidori, all met to write a ghost story, the evening which saw the birth of Mary Shelley’s tale of the monstrous creation of artificial, human life, Frankenstein. The second is a contemporary tale about a romance between a young transgender doctor, Ry Shelley, who meets and falls in love with the charismatic Victor Stein at a cryonics facility in the Arizona desert. Stein is a leader in the field of Artificial Intelligence, who, according to the review, ‘envisions a bodyless utopia in which race, faith gender and sexuality no longer exist.’

Caught up in this tale is Ron Lord, a millionaire, who has made his fortune from advance sex robots, and his partner, the evangelical Claire, who has designed a version for Christians, and an investigating journalist, Polly D. Ron Lord’s empire of sex robots its misogynistic. His deluxe model offers three orifices and interesting conversation, in which they tell the user he’s very clever and asks him if he knows anything about Real Madrid. Looking at their names, it seems very clear to me that they’re supposed to be the modern counterparts of Byron’s party 200 years ago. But it’s a moot point how accurate this portrayal is about what they would be like if they lived now. As for Claire’s invention of the ‘Christian Companion’, this seems to be a gibe by Winterson at Christian hypocrisy. Winterson’s a lesbian, who had a miserable childhood growing up in an extreme Christian sect. This formed the basis for his book Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, which was adapted as a TV drama by the Beeb. This seems to have established the 9.00 Sunday night slot as the venue for intense dramas about gay women. It was followed a few years later by Fingersmith, a lesbian drama set in the Victorian underworld. And now there’s Gentleman Jack, now playing on BBC 1, based on a real Victorian aristocratic lady, who married her gay lover. I’m very much aware that many Christians do hate gays, and that in response many gay men and women have turned away from Christianity and religion. But this isn’t necessarily the case. I know one woman, who was brought up by her mother and her lesbian partner, who grew up perfectly well adjusted. She was deeply religious herself, and went on to marry a vicar. She also loves her mother, and respects her for the excellent way she feels her mother brought her up.

Cyberspace as Disembodied Platonic Realm

Some of the ideas in Winterson’s book also seems strangely dated. Like the idea of AI as offering a utopia in which people are disembodied entities without race, gender, sexuality or religion. This sounds like it’s based on the views of some of the cyberfeminists back in the 1990s. They hailed the internet as forum in which women would be free to participate as individuals without gender. Now there is a real issue here with misogyny on the internet. There are some sites and forums which are very hostile to women, so much so that a few years ago there were comments that there no women on the internet, as those who were seemed few and far between. But the solution to that problem is to create a culture in which women are free to participate and interact without their gender being issue, rather than forced to disguise or deny it.

It’s also vulnerable to the opposite criticism from feminist academics like Margaret Wertheimer. In her The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace, Wertheimer criticised cyberspace for being too masculine. It was a disembodied, Platonic realm of mind like the heaven of religious belief. Women weren’t interested in such ideal states, and so were put off it. This idea was influential. One of the museums and art galleries held an exhibition of Virtual worlds created by artists experimenting with the medium. One of the women artists, whose work was featured, included as part of her world the sound of the viewer breathing as they entered her artificial reality. She had done so, she told New Scientist, because the absence of any kind of physical interaction in these Virtual worlds was the product of male scientists and engineers, who made the passage through them like that of a disembodied being. As a woman, she wanted to rectify this through the inclusion of details that made it appear that the viewer was physically there.

It’s over 20 years since these arguments were made, and much has changed since then. There are now very many women on the internet, with female sites like Mum’s Net and the feminist Jezebel. And some of the online games and worlds, like Second Life, do allow their users to interact as physical entities as the games’ characters or citizens.

Robot-Human Romance and Sex

As for her view of sex robots, it’s true that the creation of an artificial woman purely as a sex slave is misogynist. At the moment such machines aren’t really much more than sophisticate sex dolls, and some of those, who use them do seem to be very misogynist. One of the denizens of the Manosphere, the Happy Humble Hermit, who really does despise women and feminism, apparently has a link on his web page to a firm making them. But despite dire warning that these machines are a threat to women’s status and real, genuine, loving or respectful sexual relationship, the existing sex robots aren’t popular. A Spanish brothel which specialised in them has had to get rid of them because of lack of custom. Women don’t have to fear being replaced by compliant, subservient female robots, as in Ira Levin’s Stepford Wives, just yet.

But science fiction also shows that there is an interest, at least among some people, for genuine romantic relationships between robots, and humans and robots. One of the Star Wars spin-off books published in the 1980s was Hardware Honeymoon, whose cover showed C-3PIO holding hands with a female robot. The robot seems to have become the subject of some women’s fantasies. One of the independent comics from California was Wet Satin, whose female creator based her stories on women’s sexual fantasies. One of these was about a robot, which looked remarkably similar to the Star Wars robot. Rather less luridly, Tanith Lee wrote a book in the 1980s about a woman having a romance with a robot in The Silver Metal Lover. You could go on. There is a desire for sex with robots, but this seems in most cases to be within the framework of a romantic relationship with a genuinely sentient being, not a mechanical sex slave.

Stein’s Disembodied Utopia Horrific

As for Stein’s idea of a post-human utopia of disembodied minds, this is profoundly unattractive, as Scholes herself says in her review, saying ‘As with all brave new worlds, though, the reality is rarely perfect’. It seems to be based on the Transhumanists hope that in the near future technology will have advanced so far that that humans will be able to download their minds into computers, so that they can exist as pure disembodied entities in cyberspace, or move into robot bodies, like the hero at the end of the South African SF film, Chappie. But Winterson’s, or Stein’s cybernetic dream of posthuman, post-flesh utopia is horrifically sterile. Part of what makes diversity and multiculturalism such powerful ideologies is that people are naturally drawn, fascinated with and treasure difference. It’s why western tourists travel around the world, to Asia, Africa and South America, to enjoy the experience of different cultures and meeting people of different races and religions. There is friction and hostility between different peoples, all too often exploding into horrific violence. But the reduction of humanity to disembodied minds doesn’t solve the problem. It doesn’t genuinely promote tolerance, equality and the feeling of common humanity so much as negates the problem by destroying the physical and spiritual differences that form the basis of human identity. It’s certainly not an idea that’s popular in SF. In just about all the Science Fiction I’ve read, people retain their gender and other aspects of their identity even after they cross over into cyberspace. When they appear, either in cyberspace itself, or conjured up in computer displays for characters in the real world, they appear as they did in life, complete with their gender and race. And I’ve no doubt that the vast majority of people would find that far more preferable to the strange disembodied existence Stein offers in Winterson’s book.

LGBTQ and Transgender Issues With Winterson’s/ Stein’s Utopia

Which also raises the question about its handling of LGBTQ issues. The inclusion of a transgender character seems to be a deliberate attempt to make the book very relevant to contemporary issues, now that transgender rights have overtaken gays as the issue of the moment. Some transgender people seem to look forward to a future without physical gender. I can remember reading an interview with the first, or one of the first, people to undergo the operation, April Ashley, in an interview in one of the Daily Mail’s Sunday supplements years ago. She looked forward to a time when humanity would have moved beyond gender, and pregnancy would become a matter of simply taking a pill. But I think such people are a very small minority. Back in the 1990s there was a demand from gay Science Fiction fans for Star Trek to tackle homosexuality and include gay characters or stories. This was several years before the new, revived Dr. Who did so, and so would have been extremely controversial. Star Trek – The Next Generation tried to make an effort in that direction with a story in which Lieutenant Riker formed a relationship with a member of an alien species, the J’Nai, who had evolved past gender. However, from time to time there were throwbacks, who were persecuted. They would be hunted down and then treated so that they were proper neuter members of their society. The alien with whom Riker has fallen in love is one such throwback, a female. She is caught by the authorities. Riker tries to free her, but it is too late. She is now neuter, and so has no interest in any sexual or romantic relationship with him. The story’s a metaphorical attempt to deal with the underlying issues around homosexuality, gender identity and forbidden sexuality, but was bitterly criticised by gay SF fans because it didn’t tackle the issue of homosexuality overtly. The Federation was, remember, an organisation in which humanity had moved beyond racial and cultural prejudice and sexism, and gay Trekkers and their supporters felt that the prejudice against homosexuality would also have no place in such a future. But they were also highly critical about how the story presented gays. They felt that it showed them unfairly as wanting to abolish gender. And Winterson’s book does seem to do the same with its depiction of a romance between the transgender character, Ry Shelley, and Stein, with his dream of an asexual disembodied world.


I may well be doing Winterson’s book a great disservice, but it does seem peculiarly dated for a book which is trying so desperately to be acutely relevant. And I do feel that readers would probably get a better idea of the issues about cyberspace and AI by going elsewhere. I think there’s probably a better fictional treatment of these subjects waiting to be written. And as for human-robot romance and sex, this has also been very extensively explored in genre SF. And some of this almost certainly represents what people really want from such relationships than simple sex robots.

As for the book’s inclusion of Mary Shelley, Byron, Claire Clairmont and Polidori, Brian Aldiss also did it, or something like it, in his 1970’s SF story Frankenstein Unbound. This was filmed by B-movie maven Roger Corman. It’s not supposed to be a good film, but even so, it seems far more to my taste than Winterson’s book.