BBC To Launch ‘The Doctor And The Dalek’ Game For Children

The BBC has today announced 'The Doctor And The Dalek', a new online game for CBBC audiences voiced by Peter Capaldi. The game sees the newly regenerated Twelfth Doctor thrown into a dangerous quest with his most devious of enemies in a new, stand-alone story from Doctor Who and Wizards vs Aliens TV writer, Phil Ford.

'The Doctor And The Dalek' - which has been specially released to be part of the BBC's Make it Digital initiative to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, digital technology and programming - will be available freely at bbc.co.uk/cbbc from Wednesday 22nd October.

The Doctor And The Dalek

Players join the action as the TARDIS materialises amidst a deadly pursuit through space – a Dalek Saucer bearing down on a Cyber-ship. But from that Cyber-ship emanates a distress call – from a Dalek! On freeing the battered Dalek from his Cybermen captors, the Doctor finds himself taking his new unlikely ally on a mission to save all of creation from destruction at the hands of his greatest enemies.

But why would a Dalek turn to its mortal foe for help? To find out, join the 'Doctor and the Dalek' in a new adventure spanning the Sontar homeworld and its vile Clone Chambers, which have never been shown on-screen before, as well as reintroducing the icy Cyber-tombs of Telos – last seen in classic Doctor Who episodes.

The Doctor said:

"Oi! Short and not-very-old one! I need your help - I’ve got a Dalek and we’ve got a mission to save the universe. So get on over to the CBBC website, and play 'The Doctor and the Dalek' while there’s still a universe left! Come on! Chop chop! Make it Digital on the BBC."

Introducing computing skills

A range of puzzles are featured throughout the game, where players must take control of the Dalek and program it to 'power up' its ability to perform a range of tasks, such as flying. Each puzzle unlocks an achievement that helps the Doctor build the Dalek back to full strength, ensuring it can take on increasingly difficult challenges as the game progresses.

The puzzles are linked to the new computing curriculum and are designed to allow children across the UK to pick up core programming principles as they play. Several key stage 2 and 3 curriculum points – such as combining instructions to accomplish a given goal, using variables to alter behaviour, repetition and loops, and logical reasoning – are seamlessly integrated into the gameplay and, most importantly for children, are intuitive and fun.

Resources accompanying the game will be available from BBC Learning at bbc.co.uk/schoolscomputing for teachers and parents to help children get the most out of the game. These will provide links to other resources available from across the BBC and third parties, enabling children and teachers to take their learning journeys further.

Danny Cohen, BBC Director of Television, said:

“'The Doctor and the Dalek' is a brand-new Doctor Who story and a fantastic game, voiced by the wonderful Peter Capaldi. It’s an excellent example of how a hugely popular BBC show can give fans something extra, whilst also introducing wider audiences to increasingly important skills, such as coding and programming.”

Sinéad Rocks, Head of BBC Learning, said:

“We’re really excited about the launch of 'The Doctor and the Dalek' as not only is it a really entertaining platform game for kids to play but it’s also a great introduction to some key principles of computer programming. Every puzzle has a strong link to the KS2 or KS3 computing curriculum. So we think it’s going to be a really valuable tool for students, parents and teachers.”

The Doctor And The Dalek was commissioned by BBC Learning, developed and produced by BBC Wales and Somethin’ Else in association with BBC Future Media. 

[Source: BBC Media Centre]

AUDIO REVIEWS: Mask of Tragedy / Signs and Wonders

Mask of Tragedy
by James Goss
Starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred

Out Now


Mask of Tragedy sees The Seventh Doctor continue his travels with Ace and Hector – the companion formerly known as Hex Schofield, now with no memory of his past life, and an increasingly troubled relationship with adventuring in the TARDIS as a result. Hector's ongoing character arc weaves neatly into the story here; indeed, it quite deftly exploits some of the possibilities inherent in taking a regular character and stripping them of their memories. Ace and the Doctor at times struggle to remember that Hector is not the same man they met back in St Gart’s Hospital, and by the adventure’s end, it’s clear that these tensions have not been lost on Hector.

It allows us a story where travelling into Earth's history is new to one of our companions again, and - inevitably - they toy with the Cardinal Rule of Historicals. In the immortal words of dearest Hartnell, "You can't rewrite history, not one line!" But where's the fun if nobody at least makes a misguided and well-meaning attempt? And whose historical meddling will, in the end, do the most damage?

However, this is, as we've come to expect from our heroes' jaunts into the past, not a straightforward tale of Spartans and make-believe gods; rather, the catalyst for our heroes adventure is the intrusion of Space Things into history. But writer James Goss takes a novel approach: that is to say, here we see an ancient Athens where several of the Athenians we meet are not only not surprised by the presence of an alien visitor, but downright blasé. It turns out that Athens is no stranger to all manner of tourism.

Of course, any story where one of the pivotal guests is the ancient Greek comic playwright Aristophanes (joyously portrayed by Samuel West) is destined to be sprinkled with a significant measure of comedy, and this story strikes a good balance between lighthearted fun and some genuinely dark moments. That scheming and manipulative tendency so often associated with Sylvester McCoy’s run as The Doctor is most definitely at play here, but in ways that make for a satisfyingly amusing outcome. This, plus our alien visitor and Ace’s stint in the Spartan Women’s Army make for a wonderfully fun adventure steeped in all the things I’ve come to love about historicals, as well as making the gravity of the story’s darker moments all the more meaningful.

If you like a good measure of history thrown in with your Space Things, and a good bit of fun alongside your serious business, this makes for good listening indeed. 

BLOGTOR RATING 9/10
 _____

Signs and Wonders 
by Matt Fitton

Starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred

Out Now


After a visit to antiquity in the previous story, Signs and Wonders brings our heroes – The Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Hector – back to good old Liverpool in the not-too-distant future. It comes as little surprise, of course, that something suspicious is afoot, as the team arrive to find a distinctly apocalyptic atmosphere in the city, and that a decidedly the-end-is-nigh celebrity party animal Rufus Stone has something to do with it. As this story is very much the culmination of Hex’s story, however, it is also fitting that we discover that there are some Elder Gods at work here as well.

Philip Olivier really gets a chance to shine here: as Hector, confused and directionless, feeling – perhaps quite rightly – that the memory of his former persona is so prominent and so dear in the minds of his companions that he will never escape it for as long as he is among them. When, however, his memories are restored to him thanks to the efforts of his friends, his decision to leave TARDIS life behind stands.

The story is blessed with a wonderful guest cast, including Amy Pemberton’s welcome reprisal of the role of Sally Morgan, and Jessica Martin (whom listeners may remember as Mags in The Greatest Show In The Galaxy) as the Reverend Janet Green, a vicar who turns out to have motives rather more ulterior than just visiting interesting old churches after all.

As a fairly necessarily continuity-heavy tale, I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting point if you’re new to the audio world of Seven, Ace, and Hex. There is a lot that’s led up to the events of Signs And Wonders, but it culminates in a beautiful coda to Hex’s arc. I’ve really liked Hex and I’ll miss him if he doesn’t make a return, but I’m glad that the character has been blessed with a happy ending. That makes me happy too.

(Plus, writer Matt Fitton has thrown in some especially meaty letter Rs for McCoy to rrrrroll into, which is always fun!)

BLOGTOR RATING 9/10 

Thanks to Big Finish

Lynda Bellingham 1948-2014

The actress and presenter Lynda Bellingham has died after a fight against colorectal cancer.

A regular in recent years as a co-host of daytime chat show Loose Women, Bellingham became a household name in the United Kingdom during the 1980s as the mother in the popular series of Oxo adverts, a role she was to play for some sixteen years between 1983 and 1999. Before her "gravy fame", the actress had appeared in a number of series, including General Hospital, Z Cars, and Angels. Later, she took on the role of James Herriot's wife Helen in the revived series All Creatures Great And Small, and was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1993.

For Doctor Who fans, she became a regular in 1986 series The Trial Of A Time Lord playing the Inquisitor, the Doctor's 'judge' as he went on trial once again for his (mis)adventures - a role she later returned to for several audio adventures for Big Finish, with the character now having the name Darkel.

In 2007 she appeared on the BBC's celebrity talent show Strictly Come Dancing, though she only managed to reach the fourth week of the show. Several tours in the play Calendar Girls followed from 2008, but plans to appear in A Passionate Woman in 2013 were cancelled owing to the diagnosis of her illness. She also presented her own cookery series My Tasty Travels, and most recently Country House Sunday.

Earlier this month she appeared on several daytime programmes to announce that her cancer was terminal and she believed she only had months to live, and made the brave decision to cease chemotherapy in Novmeber in order to "die gracefully", hoping to spend a last, comfortable Christmas with her family. Sadly she died yesterday.

Her autobiography, Lost and Found, was published in 2010, and her book on her illness, There's Something I've Been Dying to Tell You was published this month.

Lynda Bellingham, 31st May 1948 - 19th October 2014

Australian overnight ratings for Flatline


Flatline averaged an impressive 971,000 national viewers in Australia (these figures include the five major capital cities and regional and rural viewers). It was the ABC's highest rating drama of the day and the tenth highest rating program of the day overall. Excluding regional and rural viewers, this story averaged 637,000 viewers in the five major Australian capital cities and was also the twelfth highest rating program of the day overall in the big cities. These ratings do not include time shifted viewers.

Canadian Market Vendor Raffling Life-sized TARDIS

Reported by Alex Frazer-Harrison
Crossroads TARDIS (Credit: Alex Frazer-Harrison)Shopkeeper Lee Dubois stands next to the full-sized TARDIS he is raffling off at the Crossroads Market, Calgary, Alberta.
(Photo by Alex Frazer-Harrison).
In "Flatline," we saw the TARDIS grow and shrink over the course of 45 minutes. Lee Dubois can relate.

Earlier this year, the owner of Silverado Skies Corner Garden, a business in Calgary, Alberta, specializing in products like birdhouses and other outdoor items, started stocking birdfeeders in the shape of a miniature TARDIS (roughly the same size as the one Clara had stuffed in her handbag). Unfamiliar with Doctor Who, he was caught by surprise at how popular they were.

“One of my suppliers for my birdhouses sent me this [TARDIS] birdfeeder six months ago; I had no idea what I’d got,” Dubois says in an interview with Doctor Who News. “I had about eight of them and they were gone the first weekend, lots of fans coming in. I ordered more and, boom, they were gone, too. So someone said I should make one of those full-size.”

Visitors to Dubois’ stall at the weekend Crossroads Market can see the result: a full-size wooden TARDIS, measuring more than nine feet tall, with tempered glass spelling out the iconic “POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX” sign. A fellow market vendor supplied the “PULL TO OPEN” and St. John Ambulance labels; another provided a vintage telephone perfect for recreating “that phone call” in "Deep Breath."

“On the Internet, nobody is really free with giving out all the dimensions, so I went between three different sets of drawings, and [used] educated guesses,” says Dubois, who spent 200 hours of his spare time over more than four months building it.

Dubois is raffling his TARDIS (which weighs 450 lbs, but dismantles for transport and is on coasters, which the Doctor would have found hand-y in "Flatline") for $5 a ticket, with all funds supporting Kids Help Phone, a national non-profit helpline for youth in crisis. Only 2,000 tickets will be sold, with the draw expected in February (“or whenever I run out of tickets,” he says). Dubois says whoever wins will have the option of donating the TARDIS back to be raffled again.

Meanwhile, there are lots of pictures being taken at Crossroads, and Dubois says excited fans can borrow the key to peek inside (no blackboards, but the ceiling features the Union Jack). And, of course, he still has TARDIS birdfeeders for sale.

“It’s really iconic, and it’s part of not only BBC history, but world history,” says Dubois. “I met a guy here a few weeks ago, and he was in his 80s, and he said, ‘Back in the ‘60s, I was thrown in one of those by the cops because I was drunk and disorderly!’” (No word whether the old fellow found himself nursing a hangover while being chased by Zarbi.)

For information about Kids Help Phone, visit kidshelpphone.ca.

Flatline – Overnight viewing figures

4.55 million viewers watched Flatline, according to unofficial overnight figures.

Doctor Who was fourth for the day, slipping behind Pointless Celebrities which managed 4.94 million viewers at the earlier time of 5.45pm.

Top for the day was Strictly Come Dancing with 9.03 million, while on ITV The X Factor had 7.71 million viewers.

Doctor Who had a share of 19.9% of the total television audience.

Final figures should be available next Sunday.