Past Features

Turning Off The TV #7: Doctor Who


Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Doctor Who.

Doctor Who

The adventures of The Doctor, an alien time traveler – a Time Lord – from Gallifrey. Together with his companions they travel through time and space in the TARDIS, battling evil where they find it.

What, you thought I wasn’t going to do a Doctor Who version of this feature eventually?? It’s hard to pick just a few books that would appeal to fans of the show, as there are so many different events and places – so this will cover the time travel/science fiction aspect of it. I may do further installments of this feature focusing on specific episodes, as I’ve done with Supernatural.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

My review for All Our Yesterdays is full of Doctor Who GIFs, so I guess this was an obvious one. It focuses on time travel, young love and is just pretty damn amazing. Plus there’s a character called The Doctor. I kept seeing this one all over various blogs just before release, and thought it would just be ‘another YA novel’. Boy, was I wrong.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

I was kindly sent this at the end of last year by the publisher, Faber & Faber, although I have yet to read it. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells follows the story of a young woman who, after several hardships in her life, follows the advice of her doctor (yes, another one!) and takes part in a rather unusual procedure. She travels back in time: to 1918, 1941 and 1985, and witnesses how her life would have played out were she alive then. It sounds like a really interesting look at time travel and alternate worlds/lives, and would be great for fans of Doctor Who who don’t often read science fiction.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Okay maybe I recommend this book to everybody. But the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons is a truly epic science fiction series that any fan of sci-fi should try. I think it will appeal to Doctor Who fans because I could definitely see the Shrike in an episode of the show: a terrifying creature that is actually just very misunderstood. Plus there are lots of different stories set on lots of different planets, and all the technology! The Doctor would have a field day.

Are you a fan of Doctor Who? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: A Guide to Doctor Who


A lot of the Sci-Fi Month participants are big fans of Doctor Who. But what about those of you that aren’t? As today is the fiftieth anniversary of the show I’ve put together a guide to the show (as best as I can…) for people who don’t know much about it and would like to know more, or any new fans!  Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.


What is Doctor Who? It’s a British TV series that started in 1963, about a Timelord known as ‘the Doctor’ who travels through space and time in his TARDIS. Aided by a variety of trusty companions, he saves people, civilisations, worlds – even the universe.

Or, if you’d like the more long-winded Wikipedia synopsis:

Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord—a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor. He explores the universe in his TARDIS (acronym: Time and Relative Dimension in Space), a sentient time-travelling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs.

Timelord? TARDIS?? Timelords are time-travelling humanoid aliens from the planet Gallifrey. They are able to see all of time, as it was, as it is and as it will be – hence their name. They prevent time from being altered or re-written. Timelords also have two hearts and are capable of regenerating, meaning they change their appearance and essentially are reborn, instead of dying (each different appearance is known as a ‘regeneration’). A Timelord can be killed though, if they use up all their regenerations or are killed whilst regenerating. The number of maximum regenerations was stated as thirteen, but the shows producers and writers have recently hinted that more regenerations are available.

And as for the TARDIS… well you must have seen this at least once before:

Vrrrrroom… vrrrrrooom!

The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is the preferred method of transport for a Timelord. It is a spaceship, and the Doctor’s takes the appearance of a police telephone box. Doesn’t look very roomy does it? Well… it’s bigger on the inside.

The TARDIS interior often changes with each regeneration, and this particular TARDIS interior belongs to the Eleventh Doctor. We’re often told (but don’t get to see) about the various rooms in the TARDIS, including a swimming pool and a library (or occasionally a swimming pool in the library).
Regenerations? Do explain… Time for a handy infographic!

These are the many faces of the Doctor. He has currently changed his face eleven times, and as Matt Smith is leaving this year, will regenerate for a twelfth time soon. Each regeneration is like a different person, with his own personality and traits. For example, Eleven is rather childish, and has an obsession with bow ties. In comparison, Nine was much more serious (and Northern). Four was unpredictable, with a quirky sense of humour but could also be rather somber. However the Doctor retains all memories from previous regenerations.
You mentioned the Doctor has ‘companions’? Yep, throughout the show the Doctor has always had at least one other person travelling with him (apart from the occasional special episode). It would take a long time to talk about all the previous companions, so I’m going to introduce you to the companions from New Who (the rebooted version of the show from 2005). You can read about the others here though (may contain spoilers). 

What about all the evil that the Doctor fights? The Doctor never really fights, a lot of his battles involve outwitting the enemy. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the villains of Doctor Who, as part of the fun is seeing what they can actually do, so instead I’ve put together a collage of various monsters and villains! If you want to read more about the creatures that the Doctor and his companions encounter, the BBC website has some great monster profiles.
1. Weeping Angels  2. Cybermen  3. Vashda Nerada  4. Daleks  5. Judoon  6. Vampires/Sisters of the Water  7. Sontarans  8. Silurians/Homo Reptilia  9. Smilers  10. The Silence  11. Peg Dolls  12. Gangers   13. The Ood
So… where does the Doctor actually go? To the past AND the future! He’s been back in time to Pompeii at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, visited good ol’ Will Shakespeare, met Queen Victoria (and protected her from werewolves)… and as for the future, there’s just so much that he and his companions have seen – you should watch it for yourself.

I hope this has encouraged you to give the series a shot, or been a fun read if you’re already a fan!

Sci-Fi Month, Thoughts

Sci-Fi Month: The Last of the Timelords – Thoughts on Doctor Who


Well hello there, dear readers! For my first proper Sci-Fi Month post, I want to share my love of Doctor Who with you all. I’ve only been watching the show since 2009, several years after they rebooted it, but once I watched one episode I had to watch them all. It’s been love ever since. I plan on discussing my favourite things about the show, and would love to hear yours too! I will try and avoid spoilers where possible. Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Why do I love Doctor Who?

Because it’s just so wonderfully varied and fun, and as well as all the great adventures the Doctor and his companions go on, the characters are just so well-built and I just… I just can’t explain it! I sat down, watched one episode and literally did not stop until I’d finished them all. I marathoned series one to four in a couple of weeks during my first year of university, then watched from series five onwards as they aired. Time and space travel have always fascinated me, so that’s a big part of it, but I think all the little elements of the show come together to make one amazing big thing. Plus, you know, there’s an archaeologist. And it sure knows how to tug at the heartstrings one minute, and have you roaring with laughter the next. In three, very fangirl-ish words: all the feels.
I’ve also met one Doctor, and seen another cast member in person (revealed below)!

My favourite episodes

  • The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit (series two, episodes eight and nine) – a brilliant two-parter, the Doctor and Rose land on a base of a crew who are drilling through a planet for resources. However, they dig too deep and awaken ancient evil.
  • 42 (series three, episode seven) – you’ll notice a trend here, I kind of love all the episodes where a small group of humans is stuck out somewhere in space, and then something starts killing them off or threatening them – they’re the scariest to me. In this particular episode, Martha and the Doctor only have forty-two minutes to save themselves and the crew, as the ship is hurtling into an alien star.
  • Blink (series three, episode ten) – the first time we meet the Weeping Angels, the scariest Doctor Who villain out there. The Doctor is actually barely in this one, but it’s so creepy and eerie and somehow classically Who, despite the lack of Doctor. This episode features Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow.
  • Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (series four, episodes eight and nine) – I love my two-parters! This is the first time we meet the brilliant River Song, and also the Vashda Nerada – invisible, flesh eating swarms who live in the shadows. Hey, who turned out the lights?!
  • The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone (series five, episodes four and five) – more Weeping Angels! More terrifying scenes! More River Song!
  • The Waters of Mars (special episode) – this is my favourite Doctor Who special. It’s another Alien-style humans living on a base and being picked off one by one type episode, and this time there’s something in the water. This one is preeeeetty creepy…
  • I also think Vincent and the Doctor (series five, episode ten) deserves a special mention for making me blub like a baby when the Doctor takes Vincent van Gogh to the future and shows him how much people love his work. His face at that moment makes me weep.

My favourite companion

This is a really difficult choice, because I kind of love them all for different reasons, but if I had to choose one it would be…

Donna Noble. Because unlike Rose, she’s not in love with the Doctor. Unlike Martha, she’s not super clever and able to bring some change to the world. Unlike Amy, her life hasn’t centered around him, and unlike Clara, the Doctor’s life is not centered around her. Donna is just a temp from Chiswick, a normal (albeit rather mouthy) woman, with a brilliant sense of humour and a kind heart. And what happened to her… well, it wasn’t fair.

My favourite non-companion character

I suppose there aren’t all that many to choose from really, at least regular characters. But hands down, it is definitely…

River Song. Professor of archaeology (YES) and all round bad-ass, what other character would get away with uttering the above words on prime-time family television? I love River’s sass, her sarcasm and wit, and her ability to look after herself in any situation. Her flirting with the Doctor is wonderful.
And I’ve seen her in real life! I was on an excavation in 2010, and she visited with her daughter. I got a sneaky stalker photo of when she went up in the cherry picker to look over the site, but it’s not very good… A couple of people actually got photos with her, but not me. Boo!

My favourite villains

I expect it’s rather obvious by now that the villains I find most terrifying in Doctor Who are…

The Weeping Angels. These horrors pose as statues, and can only move when not being watched. Once they touch you, they send you back in time to… live yourself to death! (as the Doctor puts it…) and feed off of the energy that you leave behind. Okay, it doesn’t sound scary, but when you see these things in action they are terrifying. Although in one episode they actually start snapping necks. Here’s a cool fan-made trailer that someone put together, using various clips of the four episodes the Angels are featured in.
Oh, and just remember. Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead. Don’t turn your back. Don’t turn away. And don’t blink.

My favourite songs from the soundtrack

Yay, more playlists! I’ve put together a list of my favourite songs from the soundtrack of the show. Warning: may cause sudden weepiness in Whovians.

What are your favourite things about Doctor Who? If you’d like to do a similar post, please share your link in the comments below!


Cheltenham Literature Festival: Days 3 – 5

Well… look who I had the pleasure of meeting on Sunday:

Christopher Eccleston! He was there to discuss Antigone, as he is starring in the new production directed by Polly Findlay. I joined the end of the queue (you know… to make sure no-one else joined as they only had a certain amount of time… yeah…) and grabbed an autograph from both of them, as well as a photo (or two)! I think the look on his face is because when I told him my name he looked confused and asked me to spell it – well that’s what I’m hoping…

I really didn’t know what to say to him though. I didn’t want to discuss Doctor Who because that’s not what he was there to talk about. I did tell Polly about my degree and interest in classics though, so at least I managed some sort of conversation!

That was the first exciting part of the day. The second was seeing (well catching a brief glimpse of, behind the crowds) Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series. Although I haven’t read the books for years, and only read the first few – I didn’t realise there were so many! – it was exciting seeing an author that I was a big fan of as a child. Unfortunately, I was unable to grab a photo of him, as the tent was heaving, unsurprisingly.

I also spoke very briefly to Brooke Magnanti, author of Belle du Jour: the Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, as her publicist wanted to know where she needed to go for signings. Other interesting people who were at the festival on Sunday, but I didn’t manage to see include Neil Oliver, Paul Hollywood, various cast/crew members of Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey, Rupert Everett and T.C. Boyle.

Mary Beard had a couple of events on Sunday but I was unable to attend them so I put aside a book for her to sign. Sadly I couldn’t get it dedicated, but I tweeted her and she replied, yay! I think she is the epitome of a classicist – eccentric and truly, truly passionate about what she does, and her recent TV series Meet the Romans with Mary Beard was great.

Monday was my day off, but looks to have been as exciting a day as any other – P.D. James, David Stuttard, Bel Mooney, Esther Rantzen, Orlando Figes, (‘what I call’) Patricia Hodge, Will Greenwood and Greg Searle, amongst others.

And that brings us to today – my shift started at 8am, which meant getting a bus at 6.20am; I am shattered! The hours go so quickly, I can barely believe I was working for seven and a half hours, and I only feel the tiredness on the journey back home. I’m working the same time tomorrow, so it’s another early night tonight… I managed to see Caroline Shenton, Head Parliamentary Archivist who has just written her first book, and the poet Simon Armitage, as well as Mark Hill (of Antiques Roadshow fame) and Judith Miller. This afternoon/evening’s guests include Clare Balding, Frankie Dettori, Emma Bridgewater, Kate Summerscale (which reminds me, I really need to read The Suspicions of Mr Whicher) and Sue Townsend, to name but a few.

I really can’t express just how much I’m loving this experience! I’ve never know a job to pass so quickly, I don’t really want it to end. I’ve met some great people, both famous, those I’m working with and customers, and I hope to meet many more before the week is up. Unless I write up another review before then, my next post will be on Friday evening, covering both Wednesday and Friday, as Thursday is my day off.