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Published on April 22nd, 2012 | by Christian Cawley

Newsletter #4

Greetings Kasterborites!

This week’s newsletter is a little earlier so that we can establish a regular weekend release. From now on, the Kasterborous Newsletter will be sent out on Sundays in order to provide an effective summary/digest of the previous week and offer interesting reading content.

Feedback has been great so far, with subscriptions increasing week on week. We’re also very happy with the response to our competitions, and we’re giving you the chance to win another piece of Doctor Who merchandise this week.

One thing we have omitted to do is give proper credit to the news team of Phil Bates, Scott Varnham, Andy Reynolds and Mez Burdett, without whom no newsletter would be possible. This week also features an archive article by Brian Terranova, a tribute to K-9.

Remember, if you cannot view the newsletter in HTML, head to www.kasterborous.com/category/newsletters where you will find all newsletters so far.

This week, we’ve got:

Top News Stories This Week

John Barrowman: A Nod, a Wink and an Innuendo

Barrowman is back! Kind of… whilst making an appearance at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, the actor kept audiences in high spirits as he answered their questions, made more than enough innuendos to last a lifetime and talked about his future with Doctor Who and Torchwood.

John’s been a busy boy whilst not working in the Doctor Who related circles that we’re used to seeing him in. He has even filmed a pilot episode of a television show called Guilded Lilies , which is apparently “very different” to the sci-fi he’s used to doing.

Barrowman has also authored two books with his sister, Carole. One story, Hollow Earth, is about twins with superpowers who are able to bring drawings to life or put people in drawings (have they been watching Fear Her perhaps?). The other is a special Torchwood tale tentatively titled Exodus Code. The story picks up after the events of Miracle Day but details beyond that are a bit sketchy for now.

At the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, John discussed the possibility regarding future involvement within the worlds of Doctor Who and Torchwood but alas it seems, everything is still as up in the air as before. Torchwood is on a hiatus until Russell T Davies states otherwise and the actor has (apparently) had no contact from the Doctor Who office regarding a return for the 50th anniversary or any other adventure.

Let’s never say never but it looks for now as if we may not see Captain Jack Harkness for a long, long time.

To find out more information on his new projects, or to see just how flirtatious and racy John can get with an audience, this account of the panel should fill you in.

The TARDIS PC!

We’ve had webcams and USB hubs – and now, the ultimate Doctor Who technological merchandise: a TARDIS PC!

A prototype was first seen last year, but it’s only recently obtained a licence from the BBC to sell across the UK and US. It’s probably the coolest thing you’ve seen this year, and is available for pre-order from scan.co.uk. Three models will be available (with release date still unconfirmed):

Tardis T1 Mini PC (£778.80)
Intel G850 – 4GB RAM 640GB – HDD DVD-RW W7HP – 64bit

Tardis T2 Mini PC (£898.80)
Intel Core i5 2125 – 8GB RAM 1Tb – HDD DVD-RW W7HP – 64Bit

Tardis T3 Mini PC (£1, 018.80)
Intel Core i5 2400S – 8GB RAM 1TB – HDD 1MB ATI 6670 Graphics DVD-RW W7HP – 64Bit

As you can see, they’re all very costly, but there are rumours the famous blue box will be available just as a case as well – however, there’s been no official word on this, so don’t hold your breath!

The light at the top powers the PC up, while the front USB ports can be found when you open the door, alongside a DVD and Blu-Ray tray. Gadgets and Gizmos report that each will be made-to-order, while the creator told Gallifrey Base:

“It took 18 months with the help of the BBC creating the all-aluminium case. It’s all made in the UK. The attention to detail, like the pewter moulded handles being odd sizes and silver through to the windows, police signs and roof beacon lighting up are all in line with the BBC’s Doctor Who team.

Scan Computers International in Bolton are the only distributor.

The case is 205mm x 205mm and stands 430mm to the roof beacon. It is smaller than normal PC’s. It weights 7.9 kg’s which is also lighter than a standard PC.”

You’ll need a source of electricity, though, as it doesn’t run on Artron energy…

Character’s 2012 Toy Range Reveals…

We all know that the Daleks will be back en masse in the next series of Doctor Who – but the menaces from Skaro will also invade the shelves pretty soon, as the 2012 Character range was unveiled at this year’s Toy Fair.

They’ll be six Dalek designs, with over 10 phrases and an extermination effect, some of which might hint at which models will be seen again on-screen, including:

  • Red Drone Dalek from the New Paradigm;
  • Yellow Eternal Dalek, also from the New Paradigm;
  • Gold-and-Black Supreme Dalek from Planet of the Daleks;
  • Grey Dalek from Planet of the Daleks;
  • Stealth Dalek, as not-seen in Planet of the Daleks;
  • Bronze RTD era Dalek.

But that’s not all! Character won’t just be releasing Daleks; there are also some interesting accessories that might tell us a bit more about series 7. Alternatively, they may just be pointless red herrings like the ‘build your own sonic screwdriver’ thing.

Potentially most revealingly, there’s the ‘Personal TARDIS device’ with flip-up time rotor and working key pad that’s worn on the wrist. Could this be used in episode 5 of the next series, starring the Weeping Angels?

I think the most notable thing about this is their use of interactivity, with the ‘Personal TARDIS’ responding to all sonic screwdrivers.

Then there’s the ‘Dalek and Cyberman anti-time device,’ which looks to include a Dalek gun, eyestalk and Cyberman’s handlebar. Stupid name, sure, but could this crop up in episode one? We’ve already seen a Dalek eyestalk poking out of the snow…

And finally, the ‘Trans-temporal Sonic Screwdriver’ – yes, another model! We’ve already had the 9th and 10th Doctors’, the 11th Doctor’s, River’s, the Master’s and a ‘build your own.’ This new one looks to be an 11th Doctor spin-off, mixed with a bit of grime and ironwork.

What will you be picking up? And do you think any of these will be in the show?

A 16-month Calendar for 50 Years!

Amazon has the next Doctor Who calendar available for pre-order.

The 16-month calendar is due for release on 15th July 2012, and will cover 2013 and the first half of 2014. The previews only feature images from previous series, most notably series 6, so give us no clues towards series 7, unfortunately.

It’s a little disappointing to say the least, but plans are afoot for a 12-month calendar celebrating Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary. (My guess is: a Doctor per month, then one featuring some of his major foes, like the Daleks, Cybermen and Absorbaloff. Ahem. Maybe.)

Best wait for that one, eh!

The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition 2013 Calendar is available to order now for £12.23. We’ll have images as soon as they’re released.

The Ultimate Fan Film?

Fans of Doctor Who with an interest in the classic episodes will probably know that the Power of the Daleks serial – the first to feature the Second Doctor right after his regeneration – is largely lost, with only a few clips known to exist.

As a result of this, and in an effort to raise money, fan Nick Scovell has produced various stage versions of the serial, featuring an ever-developing revision to make the story more suitable for the new medium.

Over the past couple of years, production has moved to the medium of video, with what could quite possibly be the ultimate Doctor Who fan film now almost complete. Starring Scovell as the Doctor and with a cast that features Barnaby Edwards (appearing in the flesh), Nick Briggs (providing Dalek voices) and Lisa Bowerman (Survival, Bernice Summerfield).

Moving the action from the Vulcan colony planet to a Vulcan Corporation base in the Falkland islands, the new version sees a Doctor without companions thrust into the thick of the action…

This is just the first part – a second installment is available from July, but be aware that these are not the finished pieces. Post production work continues, in order to complete a final full big screen version in HD in time for the Power Reimagined Convention on Saturday, 1st September where guests will include Anneke Wills (Polly in the original serial) and Patrick Troughton’s actor/writer son Michael Troughton. More details can be found at www.power-convention.co.uk

(With thanks to Gareth)

 

From the Vortex: Non-Terrain Rover

K-9, the most fantastical fantastic machine with a brain there ever was. He could do anything! Unless it involved rolling over a paper clip or walking on grass.

But seriously he was the companion so nice they used him twice.

Looking at the general idea of K-9 I can honestly say that for Doctor Who it was brilliant, but for any other science fiction show a robotic dog would have been a laughable idea (The dog from Battle Star Galactica doesn’t count as it was a cyborg.).

From the first moment that K-9 showed up on our screens the general viewing public fell in love, perhaps most Who fans are dog lovers, or maybe they just liked John Leeson’s personality.

Whatever the fascination was, for this one-off character, the production team knew they had a hit on their hands, and just as they did with Jamie McCrimmon before him, they rewrote the last episode of his debut story to make him a permanent cast member.

From there K-9 saved the Doctor and friends on countless adventures, when his batteries were fully charged and he wasn’t defeated by a bit of water that is.

Now then, how about the design of K-9?

I have always found it to be a unique vision of a dog, most people would go out of their way to make it look like a metal dog, legs and all, but for whatever reason, budget or pure genius, the production team and creators, Bob Baker and Dave Martin, settled on an amalgamation between a computer and a dog. Very apt considering he is a dog that is a computer.

When K-9 had his final story in the Invasion of Time I can only imagine all the sad little children’s faces when they had to say goodbye. That is until Tom Baker rolled out the “K-9 MKII” box, then I can only imagine the faces of the children who couldn’t read.

K-9, by Anthony Dry

But a summer later, or I assume a summer later (it’s an American thing), we would be shown that K-9 did not have his final say in the show as he helped to bring us the Key to Time.

We should chat about John Leeson for a moment.

How does one go about creating a voice for a robotic dog? I haven’t a clue, but I would refer you to John Leeson and tell you to take notes. They could have used a voice distortion effect or maybe even the Dalek’s voce modulator to make him sound more computerized but instead they chose to have him au naturel, that is with the exception of some silly voice acting.

Silly voice acting that would have sounded silly coming from the mans mouth had he been on screen himself, but for a little metal dog it was perfect. It should also be noted that Mr. Leeson’s involvement with Doctor Who did not end with his time in the Tom Baker era, during the Fifth Doctor’s reign he spent about 2 minutes trying his very best to keep Sarah Jane Smith safe in The Five Doctors and even came back for a stint as our loveable metal pup in the Children in Need charity piece Dimensions in Time along side the Seventh Doctor.

But did you know (or is it common knowledge by now?) that he did have his face on screen when he portrayed the character Dugeen in the story The Power of Kroll when Martin Jarvis had to drop out before recording began?

K-9 was a resilient dog, so when his voice left the show he decided not to go with him, instead he searched around for his new voice and found David Brierley.

With the introduction of David into the role we were shown, just another of Doctor Who’s funny facts, as were to believe that the voice change of the character was due to robot laryngitis. As a kid I would have said, “what’s going on, why does he sound so different?” to which someone would have said “oh he had laryngitis.” And I would have said, “what’s lingonberries?”

Nevertheless kids everywhere could sleep safely at night knowing that K-9 was still just around the celestial corner ready to protect them form an evil alien that came our way! That is as long he was accompanied by someone who could pull on his fishing wire if he got stuck on an ant.

But I digress.

As nice as it was to have David Brierley to fill the shoes treads, of our tin terrier he would not stay long. He gave us some good times and made his mark in the longest running sci-fi series of all time and for that all fans everywhere thank him keeping the battery charged.

But no one can deny that the true voice and personality of K-9 was indeed John Leeson, so in the story The Leisure Hive he was brought back and as a special treat to fans everywhere and to the actor himself, they made K-9 drive himself into water and blew him up, making us have to live the story without him.

What a welcome home that was of John.

Much like the sonic screwdriver before him K-9 was the all purpose get out of jail free card, unless of course he wasn’t, so the writers and producers decided to get rid of him once and for all.

He left us in e-space, but when he left he took Lalla Ward with him, so who could feel sorry for the puppy with such a fantastic woman looking over him?

The story doesn’t end here though, our favorite companion Sarah Jane Smith, played by brilliant and lovely Liz Sladen, would receive a gift for the Doctor in 1981. What was this gift? K-9 MKIII, what was the event? The Christmas special K-9 and Company.

For many years talk of a new K-9 series would be speculated about, but never truly realized, some loved the idea others not so much, but now with all the talk of K-9 in the new series he has become quite the celebrity.

Who knows if he will sign the contracts of if he has even been approached?

One thing is for sure he will get a nice new coat of wax for the new series when and if it happens, be it the new Who or K-9 and co.

But will he be able to overcome the obstacles the New Series will through at him? No, not the Slitheen, the Gelth, or even the foes he never met, the Daleks, I’m talking about the pebbles, the blades of grass, and anything over one centimeter tall.

Only time will tell.

 

Exclusive Article: When Destiny Lets You Down

Mez Burdett recalls the 1997 Doctor Who PC videogame Destiny of the Doctors

It was simply the best thing you could think of in 1997 if you were a fan of Doctor Who. A computer game that was set primarily inside the TARDIS, featuring the first seven Doctors, the Master and a whole host of enemies including Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Silurians, Seas Devils, Autons, Ice Warriors and….Quarks. There was newly recorder material from Anthony Ailey, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. It was magical and something that had never been attempted before. Destiny of the Doctors was only £29.99 on the PC and it seemed at the time like it was going to change the way people looked at computer games and Doctor Who.

Destiny of the Doctors: worse than it looks. Seriously.

Destiny of the Doctors: worse than it looks. Seriously.

There was only one problem…it wasn’t very good at all.

Don’t get me wrong, the spirit and passion is evident. The developers clearly had the best of intentions and there was a thrill like no other to be gained from roaming around the TARDIS corridors evading the marauding monsters and then activating, actually activating, the TARDIS console and zooming off into time and space. Take that, Dalek Attack!

But the bizarre health meter (you seemed to lose life by simply walking around), the uneven combat system (you could simply walk away from enemies and they would soon be fading into the background noise of the familiar TARDIS hum) and the fact that the game didn’t seem to acknowledge events from the 1996 TV movie and therefore forgot all about Doctor number eight meant that the game itself was an odd one to play.

However, roaming the Master’s TARDIS, contacting the Brigadier for help on your mission, accessing the TARDIS databanks for information on the Doctor’s adventures and planting a stick of Dalekanium onto a Dalek and then watching it blow were all too much of a treat to not play this game.

This was a brave and unashamed game that made no apologies and kept a fair few Doctor Who fans happy for quite a while. It’s a labour of love, as the Candyman once said, in a time when Doctor Who was very much thought of as a “dead show”. The developers were brave and the actors were willing and enthusiastic. Plus, you could take the dialogue from the game and use it on your PC as a start-up/shut down sound bite. How many times my poor old mum and dad heard the Third Doctor uttering “I think things should be heating up nicely now” as I logged on to Windows 95, I don’t care to remember.

But it brings on a wave of nostalgia like no other, so thank you Destiny of the Doctors for doing what some people do as well-trying hard, not giving up and giving some very good memories in the process.

 

Competition Time!

We’re giving away a copy of The Jade Pyramid this week, an Eleventh Doctor adventure by Martin Day which is read by Matt Smith himself!

Set in imperial Japan’s Shogun era, the adventure features the Doctor and Amy and runs for 70 minutes. To win your copy, reply to this week’s newsletter, changing the subject line to “NINJA ASSASSIN” and a winner might be picked at random.

Congratulations, this time around go to Paul Salamoff! Please drop an email to christian@kasterborous.com with your preferred postal address.

 

 

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About the Author

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




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