Audio and radio play reviews

Review: Doctor Who – No Man’s Land

No Man's LandIf there’s one thing to thank Big Finish for, it’s their revival of the pure historical story. The on-screen adventures of Doctor Who might have abandoned sci-fi free tales circa the second Doctor (bar the fifth Doctor’s Black Orchid), but the Doctor’s Big Finish audio adventures have had trips to Roman times, the Great Exhibition and 17th century Paris, to name but a few, all with minimal involvement of wibbly wobbly space things.

No Man’s Land is a First World War story that has no War Lord or War Chief, no timorous beasties creeping around in the trenches, no Rani sucking off brain chemicals. But there’s a murder about to happen in the next day or so – the British army has orders to expect someone called The Doctor and his two companions, who are coming to investigate it before it happens. Unfortunately for them, rather than the Seventh Doctor’s Big Finish “A-Team” (Mel), he’s brought his B-Team in tow: Ace and Hex.

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Is Britain turning into A Clockwork Orange society?

This one tickled me because of its full on frothing at the mouth. The Western Mail (aka “The Daily Mail for Welsh people”. Collectively they will be referred to as * Mail) is wondering whether we’re turning into the society depicted in A Clockwork Orange.

Quick answer: no, we’re not.

There you go. Sorted.

That’s never enough for a * Mail article though. We must continue to scare.

Thirty-five years on, are we heading for the kind of nightmarish vision presented in that film – a place where young people kill for kicks?

There are points in history – slavery, Hitler, children being sent up chimneys – at which we look back in dismay asking, “Why didn’t someone do something?”

The slightly mythical happy-slapping compared to slavery, Hitler and children being sent up chimneys. Marvellous.

Just for laughs, incidentally, count how many of the sentences following “Thirty-five years on…” end in question marks, with one concluding sentence that supposedly answers those questions.

“Is the moon a balloon? Can I have fries with that? Happy slappers should be shot.” See how the final proposition doesn’t necessarily follow the questions posed, but because it’s placed in proximity to the questions, it supposedly is the answer.

Ah the wonderful world of * Mail rhetoric.


Review: The Secret Millionaire

Secret Millionaire Ben Way

In the UK: Wednesdays, 9pm, Channel 4

In the US: Not acquired yet

Ben Way is a tosser. Or at least, you take one look at him and think “What a tosser”. He has that posh-boy haircut and posh-boy voice. He has a posh suit and posh monogrammed cufflinks, one marked B, one marked W. If it weren’t for the fact that someone seems to have done it already, you might be inclined to punch him.

But that’s prejudice for you. Millionaire he might be, but he’s from a poor, single-parent family and is a self-made man, having spent the last decade building up his own business. And he’d like to give some of his riches to some deserving causes. To this end, he goes undercover on a Hackney council estate to decide which person most deserves thousands of pounds of his money – all while escorted by a film crew.

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CBS pulls 3 Lbs.

Ooh, they’re vicious at CBS. The show’s only reached episode three, yet CBS has just pulled 3 Lbs. because of low ratings. Hang on, didn’t Smith get cancelled in the same time slot because of low ratings? Dear oh dear.

The show’s producers had a chance to shoot eight episodes, so maybe we’ll find ourselves in a similar situation to Smith and thinking the show could have been good, given half a chance, once they’re aired on Innertube, etc.

The best of this year’s bad sex

It’s time for the results of the Literary Review‘s annual bad sex award. First-time novelist Iain Hollingshead has managed to take the top place, and you can read the nominated passages from the shortlist over at The Guardian.

I was particularly taken by David Mitchell’s “If Dawn Madden’s breasts were a pair of Danishes, Debby Crombie’s got two Space Hoppers”, but Hollingshead’s “we’re lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks” has a certain je ne sais quoi, I must admit.