Doctor Who Heaven Sent

BBC One, Saturday 28th November 2015 / Starring: Peter Capaldi / Written by Steven Moffat / Directed by Rachel Talalay/ Reviewed by Sean Alexander
 “Because you won’t see this coming…”
Confession, they say, is good for the soul. Whether we have now heard the Doctor’s last confession, one thing is certain. I have to confess that I doubted – again - that Steven Moffat had something this good still up his sleeve after five whole series of orchestrating Doctor Who’s post-renaissance renaissance. Maybe I was just too scared to hope. Either way, this is television of the very highest standard. And what a time to choose to pull the metaphorical rabbit out of series nine’s hat, with just one week to go. ‘Heaven Sent’ is so good you don’t really need that coda, as the deserts of Fuerteventura pan upwards to the gleaming city of the Capitol. Gallifrey Falls No More.


Top of the Pops 13 Nov 1980

Shown on BBC4 / Reviewed by Chris Arnsby
Simon Bates: "Hello and welcome to Top of the Pops. It's nice of you to join us. We'll be working our way up to the new number one... maybe... just before eight o'clock. But first of all let's take a look at the other goodies, or some of them, you can expect to see on tonight's edition. Starting off with a fantastic lady, and you know what she looks like."
Iron Maiden: Women In Uniform [35]. The lead singer's diction is terrible. He has strong opinions about women in uniform but whether he's for or against them is not clear. All I can gather is that sometimes they look cold. Well then surely their uniform should include sensible winter clothing? Something which hasn't been discussed yet is the band captions at the end of each performance -a dull subject yes, but still more interesting than this song. They've been gradually getting more sophisticated over the last couple of months. In the olden days it would just be the band's name, but here the words Iron Maiden are repeated down the screen as a list which then shrinks back up to the top of the screen before zipping off to the right. The BBC has obviously invested our licence fee money in a new caption generator.


Doctor Who Face the Raven

BBC One, Saturday 21st November 2015
Starring: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Joivan Wade, Maisie Williams, Robin Soans, Simon Paisley Day, Angela Clerkin, Caroline Boulton / Written by Sarah Dollard /Directed by Justin Molotnikov / Reviewed by Sean Alexander
“Let me be brave.  Let me be brave.”
Like London buses, you wait ages for female Doctor Who writers to come along then two come along at once.  But unlike Catherine Tregenna, debut scribe Sarah Dollard didn’t cut her teeth on Who stablemate Torchwood, but rather Merlin, Being Human and…Neighbours?  But hey, since Doctor Who returned in 2005 it has more or less adopted the soap template of putting character before plot, emotion over drama.  And there’s no end of both of those in ‘Face the Raven’.


David Bowie Blackstar video

Once again David Bowie has proved capable of a musical left turn. We expect it of course but we never know what the direction will be. The surprise of 2013’s `The Next Day` was it’s unexpected appearance; the album itself turned out to be one of the singer’s more conventional (albeit excellent) releases not a million miles from where he’d left off a decade earlier.  Last year’s `Sue (or in a season of crime) was actually more of a marker for the future than we imagined though `Blackstar` is an altogether more fascinating composition. The video – directed by Johan Renck- is packed with imagery which might be symbolic or might be there because it looks great. Neither singer nor director seem willing to explain it’s secrets. Oh and it’s ten minutes long which in these days of short attention spans is the equivalent of releasing a 25 minute piece of music.


Adam Adamant Lives! Season 1 eps 6-8

6 The Terribly Happy Embalmers

Adam Adamant’s fencing prowess gets a run out in this Avengersesque confection from the pen of Brian Clemens whose ability for intriguing ideas was let loose across several series during the Sixties and Seventies. On this occasion he conjures up a bunch of villains who offer to help financially strapped businessmen fake their death to avoid incoming tax demands only to deliver a genuine killer blow. Investigating Adamant discovers they all shared the same psychiatrist so he sends himself in under the guise of `Adam Smith`. Part of the fun of the episode is his attempts to pass off his detailed knowledge of the turn of the century as some kind of delusion and it helps that John Le Measurer is playing the role of listener with that careworn expression only he can muster.


Doctor Who Sleep No More

BBC One, Saturday 14th November 2015 / Starring: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Reece Shearsmith, Elaine Tan, Neet Mohan, Bethany Black, Paul Courtenay-Hyu /Written by Mark Gatiss / Directed by Justin Molotnikov / Reviewed by Sean Alexander
“Sleep isn’t just a function; it’s blessed.  Every night we dive deep into that inky pool, deep into the arms of Morpheus.  Every morning we wake up and wipe the sleep from our eyes.  And that keeps us safe from the monsters inside…”
As opening gambits go, being addressed to camera with the words “You must not watch this” is probably not the best piece of self-publicity that Doctor Who could use right at this moment.  Four million people – hopefully all awake – tuned into ‘Sleep No More’, which is actually one of the healthier overnight figures series nine has achieved.  But when placed into the context of over six million Strictly viewers either switching over or switching off, that figure is a very long way from the heydays of 2005 to 2009, and weak even when placed against the gradual decline post-2010.  While insomnia doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Doctor either on or off screen, absentmindedness certainly seems to be.  The show that is attributed for resurrecting the communal Saturday audience has itself become left behind in a slot that is neither fish nor fowl, nor use nor ornament.  Collateral damage in the on-going fight between interactive talent show contests.


Top of the Pops 30 Oct 1980

Shown on BBC4. Watched by Chris Arnsby
[A big wide shot of the Top of the Pops studio filled with a heaving throng waving balloons around and dancing to Ottawan's D.I.S.C.O. No, hang on a minute, the Top of the Pops copy of  D.I.S.C.O has been worn flat by constant repetition and instead the crowd are shuffling to the Stephanie Mills song Never Knew Love Like This Before].
Peter Powell: "Hello! Welcome to another edition of Top of the Pops! You're very welcome, as always, and to present the show with me... one Colin Berry!
Colin Berry: "Nice to be here Peter."
Peter Powell: "And you've been up early in the morning's haven't you?!"
Colin Berry: "Yes, I've been sitting in for Terry Wogan all week."
Peter Powell: "What else do you do?! Do you go around Europe with a jury?!"
Colin Berry: "Yes I do European pop jury once a month."
Peter Powell: "But this music in Europe is nothing like the music in Britain! Let's face it!"
Colin Berry: "Oh, you're so right."
Peter Powell: "Just look at our charts, for instance!"
Colin Berry: "Which I'll be doing later on."
Peter Powell: "Good! And meanwhile,we'll tell you exactly who's on the show, or just some of the acts you can see on tonight's edition of Top of the Pops!"


Doctor Who The Zygon Inversion

BBC One, Saturday 7th November 2015 / Starring: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Ingrid Oliver, Jemma Redgrave / Written by Peter Harness and Steven Moffat. / Directed by Daniel Nettheim / Reviewed by Sean Alexander
“Why does peacekeeping always involve killing?”
I only really need to talk about that speech, don’t I…?
It’s not often Doctor Who has such a cultural resonance that you just sit there and shut up.  And it’s even less often that an actor in the lead role is given the kind of material to work with that he rises to the occasion and hits it so far out of the park that not even that little girl in the John Lewis Christmas ad will be able to pick it up on her telescope.
But Doctor Who and Peter Capaldi did that tonight, and then some.


Doctor Who The Zygon Invasion

BBC One, Saturday 31st October 2015. Starring: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Ingrid Oliver, Jemma Redgrave, Rebecca Front, Jaye Griffiths. Written by Peter Harness, Directed by Daniel Nettheim. Reviewed by Sean Alexander.
Once upon a time...there were Three Doctors, Two Osgoods and One Peace Treaty
Irrespective of whether your politics come with a capitalised P or not, you’re probably a long-term Doctor Who fan because of its subversive nature.  If your own political awakening came from the likes of Malcolm Hulke, Robert Holmes or Andrew Cartmel (probably the only man to profess a desire to bring down the British government as a job clincher) it’s safe to say the show that first set out its soapbox stall during the socio-political upheaval of the 1960s has always attracted the more militant minded, and politically aware, sections of the viewing audience.


Top of the Pops 16 Oct 1980

Shown on BBC4. Reviewed by Chris Arnsby
[A big wide shot of the Top of the Pops studio filled with a heaving throng throwing balloons around and dancing to Ottawan's D.I.S.C.O. which now seems to be on a permanent loop. The camera slowly zooms in before we cut to]
Tommy Vance: "Well let me tell you. Have we got a party or have we got a party? Hi everybody, I'm Tommy Vance and welcome once again to Top of the Pops. Aaaall... whatever is going to break out tonight, starting with this bit of a menu to see what's on the show."
Madness: Baggy Trousers [3]. This song's long slow drag up the charts hasn't been helped by by BBC4's two month break for the 2015 Proms. It first appeared on the 18/09/15 edition which was repeated back in July. Now Baggy Trousers has stalled at number 3, kept from climbing any higher by Ottawan and The Police. It turns out this isn't a live studio appearance, but a repeat from a skipped D*** L** T***** show which went out on 02/10/1980. Distractingly the rows of seating behind the band seem to be filled with the audience's mums.


The Flash Season One Eps 3 to 5

3. Things You Can’t Outrun
In which those painful moments in our lives just won’t recede however much time passes. It’s not a new observation so you have to give writers Alison Schapker and Grainne Godfree credit for managing to make it seem fresh. Especially pleasing is the way the theme runs easily through both Barry and Caitlin’s stories broadening out the episode. The pace slows a little to let some longer scenes breath and they are tenderly rendered but with just enough wit to stop them becoming too syrupy. 
The Flash also deals with no smoking violations