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Turlough arrives with the Brigadier and the Black Guardian
‘The Black Guardian Trilogy’ is one of my favourite DVD trilogies from the Peter Davison era of ‘Doctor Who’!
I have fond memories of watching ‘The Black Guardian Trilogy’ in 2009. It has three exciting stories featuring the debut appearances of Mark Strickson as Turlough; the return of Valentine Dyall as the Black Guardian and the departure of the lovely Sarah Sutton as the lovely Nyssa, my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion!
I’ve had the DVD covers of ‘Mawdryn Undead’, ‘Terminus’ and ‘Enlightenment’ signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Timey-Wimey 1’ convention in Brighton, November 2014. The reason why I had the DVD cover of ‘Enlightenment’ signed by Sarah is in my review for that story. I’ve also had some photos of Nyssa in ‘Mawdryn Undead’ and ‘Terminus’ signed by Sarah at the ‘London Film and Comic Con’ in July 2011.
I’ve also had the DVD cover of ‘Mawdryn Undead’ signed by Peter Davison at the ‘York Unleashed’ event at the York Racecourse, August 2017 and by Mark Strickson at the ‘London Film and Comic Con’ in July 2017.
I enjoyed ‘Mawdryn Undead’ very much! It features Turlough for the first time and also the return of the Black Guardian. It also features the return of Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
In this story, the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan arrive on an abandoned spaceship. They discover a mystery, as the ship’s been in orbit of a warp ellipse within two Earth time zones – 1977 and 1983.
Separated from Nyssa and Tegan, the Doctor has some help from his new companion Turlough and his old friend the Brigadier. Will the Doctor survive the menace of Mawdryn and his fellow mutants?
‘Mawdryn Undead’ is a four-part story by Peter Grimwade, who directed many stories including ‘Earthshock’. Grimwade came up with ‘Mawdryn Undead’, inspired by ‘The Flying Dutchman’ legend.
This story predates the timey-wimey stories by Steven Moffat and is well-directed by Peter Moffatt. The story also has Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier who makes a triumphant return to the TV series.
It’s like the Brigadier has never been away! I like how Nick Courtney gets to play two Brigadiers in this story and there’s a brilliant flashback scene (in the CGI version of the story) where he remembers the Doctor.
Mark Strickson stars as Turlough for the first time in this story. I’ve met Mark at a number of conventions in places like Weston-super-Mare, Newcastle, Birmingham and London. He’s a great guy to meet and chat to!
Turlough is an alien public schoolboy that the Doctor meets and he’s secretly working for the Black Guardian as an assassin to kill the Doctor. He’s so devious, selfish and manipulative in his first story.
Valentine Dyall returns as the Black Guardian. He previously appeared in ‘The Armageddon Factor’ at the end of ‘The Key To Time’ season. It was a delight and a treat to see him in this story and in his own trilogy!
The Black Guardian seeks revenge following ‘The Key To Time’ season and he employs Turlough to kill the Doctor. Valentine Dyall delivers a menacing and booming performance as the Black Guardian in this story!
David Collings guest stars as Mawdryn in this story. David was in ‘Doctor Who’ before in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ and ‘The Robots of Death’ and he has played Legolas in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ radio series.
Mawdryn is a tragic character in this story. He’s trapped aboard the spaceship with his fellow mutant brothers. Mawdryn’s people are immortal and they cannot die. They need the Doctor’s help by stealing his remaining regenerations.
Peter Davison is brilliant! I really like his innocence as the Doctor in this story. I also like his scenes with Nyssa and Tegan aboard the spaceship and he seems to be accepting of Turlough very quickly in this story.
The Doctor is delighted to see his old friend, the Brigadier, again. I liked it when Peter’s Doctor was about to make a noble sacrifice to save Nyssa and Tegan and it was very dramatic and moving to see.
Sarah Sutton is a joy to watch as Nyssa! She seems sidelined I’m afraid, but I love her screen time in this story. I love Nyssa’s costume, as it’s a blue-grey jacket and skirt and she looks so lovely and glamorous.
I liked it when Nyssa shows her caring side in this story, especially when she’s looking after Mawdryn in the TARDIS. She also shows sympathy for Mawdryn when they learn the truth about his condition.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a commentary with Peter Davison, Mark Strickson, Nicholas Courtney and script editor Eric Saward. There’s an isolated music option by Paddy Kingsland and an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There’s also a making-of documentary called ‘Who Wants to Live Forever?’ and a lovely short drama called ‘Liberty Hall’ starring Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier. There’s an impressive CGI effects option to enjoy as well as some deleted and extended scenes; film trims and out-takes from the story. There are PDF materials including a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story and ‘CGI Storyboards and Studio Floorplans’. There are also some continuity announcements; a photo gallery and set photo gallery of the story. There are also two Easter Eggs to look out for on this DVD. There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Twin Dilemma’ with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant.
‘Mawdryn Undead’ is a great story to kick off ‘The Black Guardian Trilogy’. It’s a great introduction to Turlough as a companion and features a superb return for the Brigadier and the Black Guardian in it.
I enjoyed the timey-wimeyness of the story and how cleverly well-written Peter Grimwade has made the story within the two time zones. I was so looking forward to seeing the next story in the trilogy…
‘Mawdryn Undead’ rating – 9/10
‘DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE’ – ISSUE #110
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Originally written on the 28th of April 2017.
This is a collector’s item worth having and I’m very pleased that I purchased it from Amazon.co.uk!
As you may (or may not) know from my ‘Nyssa Challenge’ reviews, I’m a huge fan of Sarah Sutton/Nyssa of Traken in ‘Doctor Who’. Over the years, I’ve been collecting memorabilia of Sarah/Nyssa. These include photographs, rare autographs and some items that are related to Sarah.
When I discovered issue #110 of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ available from Amazon.co.uk online, I was keen to purchase it. Reading through this issue of ‘DWM’, published in March 1986, has been extraordinarily pleasing and invigorating. Not only was I enjoying an interview with Sarah Sutton (the highlight of the magazine for me really), but I was also reading a certain product of history in ‘DWM’.
I’ve written letters to ‘DWM’ about Nyssa/Sarah Sutton and two of them have been published in the ‘Galaxy Forum’ column. One of these letters was asking ‘DWM’ for a new interview with Sarah to share her memories of Nyssa and what she thinks of the series today. So far, nothing’s come about.
I have had one fan from America supporting this idea in another ‘DWM’ two issues later. I live in hope that an interview with Sarah is imminent and will be worth waiting for. I was delighted to be reading Sarah’s interview done back in 1986 for this issue #110 in ‘DWM’ and also to hear her thoughts.
I’ve now had my copy of issue #110 of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Stars of Time’ convention in Weston-super-Mare, July 2012. The issue has a lovely front cover since it features the photo of Sarah/Nyssa in her ‘Mawdryn Undead’ costume, which is one of my favourites.
The items included in this ‘DWM’ issue are very different to the level of content that is contained in ‘DWM’ today. The contents page is very limited and not very verbose as current ‘DWM’ is. But it was lovely reading and seeing how ‘DWM’ published its issues back in the 80s and how limited it seemed.
There’s a ‘To The TARDIS’ which is like the ‘Galaxy Forum’ section of ‘DWM’ today, as it contains fan letters sent to the magazine on various topics. These include letters by fans from places like Cardiff and Australia on the series’ availability down under as well as asking about the upcoming Season 23.
There’s part 1 of an article by Richard Marson called ‘At The Eleventh Hour’, which looks into the delivery of last-minute scripts of stories during the 1960s. This was interesting as I enjoyed reading about how stories like ‘The Mind Robber’; ‘The Invasion’; etc. were delivered at the very last-minute.
There’s the ‘Matrix Data Bank’, which is an additional fan-letter request section that has ‘DWM’ responding to questions from fans regarding certain things about the magazine. It also reveals the winners of certain competitions given out to readers of the magazine, which was interesting to see.
There’s the famous ‘Gallifrey Guardian’ which felt very familiar to me in ‘DWM’. It was shocking though as the ‘Gallifrey Guardian’ back in 1986 was smaller than the one today. I liked some of the news items including a statement from Colin Baker who announces on making a start with Season 23.
There’s also a tribute to Valentine Dyall, which was made following the tragic death of the veteran actor after he passed away in 1986. Valentine Dyall is well-known for playing the Black Guardian in the series and it was interesting to read how he’d started his radio appearances as the Man in Black.
There’s ‘The Doctor Who History Tour’, a satire comic featuring the Doctor and Peri on an adventure through the history of the show. It featured an amusing appearance by Terry Nation and his Daleks.
There’s the ‘Archive’/’Fact File’ for this magazine which is similar to ‘The Fact of Fiction’ articles featured in ‘DWM’ today. This fact file looks into the story of ‘Mawdryn Undead’. The fact file is not as detailed as ‘The Fact of Fiction’ articles of today, but it was a very interesting article to read here.
The highlight of this magazine issue for me is of course the SARAH SUTTON interview! The interview is conducted by Richard Marson. I love Sarah’s interview in ‘DWM’. It may seem dated, but it was very lovely to read some of the familiar comments about certain stories that Sarah has appeared in.
I love how the interview explores a brief history of Sarah’s earlier work before doing ‘Doctor Who’. Sarah comments on the stories she worked on and the actors she worked with like Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson. This ‘DWM’ interview must have been done before Sarah did her ‘Myth Makers’ interview with Nicholas Briggs, which I enjoy seeing a lot of when I get a chance to on DVD.
I’ve met Sarah at a lot at conventions and have developed an easy-going rapport with my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion, talking about various topics other than the show itself. I’ve now conducted my own interview with Sarah which is called ‘A Conversation with Sarah Sutton (Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’) by Tim Bradley’. This can now be viewed online via YouTube or on my ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog.
There’s a brief interview with one of the Production Team people following Sarah’s interview and that is with assistant floor manager Val McCrimmon. Although I found Val’s interview intriguing with technical aspects to making ‘Doctor Who’, I didn’t find it as enlightening as Sarah Sutton’s interview.
There’s a comic strip adventure in this issue of ‘DWM’ and it’s the final episode of ‘Exodus’/’Revelation!’/’Genesis!’, a Cyberman story with the Sixth Doctor, Peri and Frobisher. For the full story of ‘Exodus’/’Revelation!’/’Genesis!’, you can find it in the ‘Voyager’ graphic novel. The story ends with Frobisher saying he’s stuck as a penguin.
There’s an ‘Off The Shelf’ section that contains a review by Gary Russell on ‘The King’s Demons’ novelization by Terence Dudley. This review is very complimentary by Gary, who details how the novelization contains greater character and story development compared to the actual story on TV.
The final item of this issue is ‘The Moral Dilemma, Part 2’, which is an article by Richard Marson looking into the moral issue of ‘Doctor Who’ stories. This looks from Tom Baker’s era to the current reign of Colin Baker’s Doctor. I like how it ended with looking forward to the future of ‘Doctor Who’.
I read this issue of ‘DWM’ with Sarah Sutton’s interview on holiday in Scotland, August 2012. I’ve recently re-read it for this review and enjoyed reading it. It’s very different to how ‘DWM’ is made today and it was interesting to learn how things were done differently publishing the magazine back then.
I would love to go back there and find out what experiencing ‘Doctor Who’ was like in the 1980s and collecting the issues of ‘DWM’ month-by-month. I’m currently now waiting for the next interview with Sarah Sutton by ‘DWM’. I hope Sarah will be approached to be interviewed for today’s audience.
This is a great item to have if you’re a Sarah Sutton/Nyssa fan like me!
‘Doctor Who Magazine’ – Issue #110′ rating – 10/10
‘DOCTOR WHO – MAWDRYN UNDEAD’
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The Flying Dutchman in Space
‘Doctor Who – Mawdryn Undead’ has been a pleasurable novelization/audiobook to read/listen to!
I purchased the Target novelization of ‘Mawdryn Undead’ with the novelization of ‘Arc of Infinity’ at the ‘Regenerations 2011’ convention in Swansea, September 2011. I found the ‘Mawdryn Undead’ novelization a better, improved novelization by Peter Grimwade than the one done for ‘Time-Flight’.
‘Mawdryn Undead’ was originally transmitted on TV in 1983. Peter Grimwade, who wrote the original TV story, novelized ‘Mawdryn Undead’ for the Target range of ‘Doctor Who’ books. The book was published in 1984 and is divided into eight chapters, not twelve as I had expected this one to be.
The story was the first in ‘The Black Guardian Trilogy’ on TV. I enjoyed reading the story in prose form. I found that Peter Grimwade had enhanced the story in the book with further character development on Turlough and the Brigadier and more detail on Brendan School and Mawdryn’s ship.
I assume that Peter Grimwade found ‘Mawdryn Undead’ a happier experience with novelizing his scripts into prose form compared to doing ‘Time-Flight’. I make this assumption as it doesn’t seem like he’s rushing with telling the story in ‘Mawdryn Undead’ like he did with novelising ‘Time-Flight’.
Of course there were moments in the story where Peter Grimwade tended to paraphrase some of the dialogue of characters into exposition. But that didn’t distract me from my enjoyment of the story as I was able to home in on the characters and follow their journeys through without difficulty.
I purchased the 1990s edition of the Target novelization of ‘Mawdryn Undead’ when at the ‘Regenerations 2011’ convention in September 2011. I like the front cover for the book by Alister Pearson. It features the images of the Fifth Doctor, Mawdryn, the Black Guardian and Turlough on it.
In July 2018, the audiobook of ‘Doctor Who – Mawdryn Undead’ was released. I purchased the audiobook in Cardiff. The story is read by…Mawdryn himself! That’s right! David Collings who played Mawdryn in the TV story reads the audiobook of this Target novelization and it was superb to hear it.
Before it was released, I did wonder whether the ‘Mawdryn Undead’ novelization would get its own audiobook by the BBC someday. I wondered who would read the story. Originally I had hoped it would be Sarah Sutton. I was convinced (and still am) that Sarah would make a wonderful narrator.
I’d seen Sarah read an extract of the ‘Mawdryn Undead’ novelization for Peter Grimwade’s ‘Myth Makers’ DVD. She had read that as well as an extract from the ‘Time-Flight’ novelization and Peter Grimwade’s own book, ‘Robot’. I’m hoping Sarah Sutton will read a ‘Doctor Who’ Target audiobook.
With that said though, I didn’t think David Collings was inappropriate to read the ‘Mawdryn Undead’ novelization. On the contrary, David’s a fine narrator and I enjoyed how he approached the story, doing his take on the reading. This wasn’t the first time I heard David Collings in an audio production.
The first time was when he played Legolas in the BBC radio version of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Having David Collings read the ‘Mawdryn Undead’ novelization felt appropriate as he played the title character himself. However, I don’t think David Collings is one for doing a number of voices in audio.
Despite him providing a rich narration for the story with his fluting tones, David Collings doesn’t recreate the characters’ voices on audio. Oh he does provide a gruff voice for the Brigadier; an Australian twang in Tegan’s voice and a lighter, softer voice for Nyssa which is what I always expect.
But for the Doctor; Turlough and the Black Guardian, I struggled to identify their voices in the audiobook for the ‘Mawdryn Undead’ novelization. It might be me, but I take it David Collings is providing a reading for the story rather than a performance. It’s still a very good reading by David though.
At the beginning of the story, there’s a quotation from ‘The Flying Dutchman’ by Richard Wagner. It was intriguing to have that quotation at the start of the book. It helps to set up the atmosphere for ‘Mawdryn Undead’, as to what the tale is about with Mawdryn and his people on a ship for eternity.
Peter Grimwade does well with introducing Turlough as the new companion to ‘Doctor Who’ in the series throughout the book. It was interesting to discover how Turlough sees things from his point of view during the story in how he has contempt for his life at Brendon School and he’s pretty unhappy.
Of course, Peter Grimwade, being the creator of Turlough in his first story, is able to home in on his thoughts and feelings during the book. He also does well with hiding Turlough’s alien origins in the story, something that he wouldn’t reveal until later on as he wrote Turlough’s exit in ‘Planet of Fire’.
It was interesting to see how Turlough inwardly teases and belittles his friend Ibbotson (or ‘Hippo’ as he calls him) in the story. Sometimes it comes across that Turlough’s being a bully to Hippo at school. But it turns out he actually considers him as his best, perhaps only, friend at Brendon School.
An interesting point to note is that Brendon School is revealed as the school that Turlough goes to, which was never revealed in the TV story. Peter Grimwade enhances on the school’s history, since he knows aspects about a boys’ public school inside-out, from its teachers right up to the military corps.
I like how Turlough’s relationship with the Black Guardian is developed here. Turlough is clearly an unwilling partner in his bargain with the man in black. Sometimes when Turlough thinks of thoughts against his partner, the Black Guardian causes him to have headaches until he soon restrains himself.
I liked one aspect when Turlough and the Black Guardian meet. Turlough meets the Guardian whilst ‘floating in an enormous candyfloss of cloud’. This was interesting as it was different to the dodgy effects in the original TV story and it matches well to the CGI effects for the ‘Mawdryn Undead’ DVD.
It was also interesting that the bargain between Turlough and the Black Guardian was paraphrased and rather quick almost like a dream. Some of the dialogue when Turlough asks why the Black Guardian can’t interfere with all powers gets moved to the scene where Turlough’s in a sick bay bed.
I did notice when reading the novelization with the audiobook in the background that the matron, Miss Cassidy, who attends to Turlough in bed, is rather unfriendly and less motherly as she in the TV version. This is changed by Peter Grimwade since he was unhappy with the matron in the TV version.
I also noticed that before Turlough had his nightmare encounter with the Black Guardian whilst in sick bay, he was awake first before he fell asleep. This was good setting in up the illusion when Turlough thought he was talking to Mr. Sellick, his Headmaster, before becoming the Black Guardian.
The Brigadier is well-handled as a character in the ‘Doctor Who’ book. I like how Peter Grimwade handles the stories of both the Brigadier from 1977 and the Brigadier from 1983. The reasons for the Brigadier’s ‘nervous breakdown’ get explored in the story and it was interesting how it gets built on.
There was something about the Brigadier that was rather out-of-character for me. When the Brigadier inspects the damage to his Humber car, he declares that Turlough deserves capital punishment. This means that he wants Turlough dead! I say! That’s rather extreme isn’t it, Brigadier?
It was interesting that the older Brigadier confessed to the Doctor that he was scared about what was happening to him in the story. I also found it interesting when the Brigadier was ‘transported’ back to Palestine as a young man, whilst confronting Mawdryn after discovering he’s not the Doctor.
I liked it when Tegan meets the 1977 Brigadier for the first time and she feels safe around him, because he reminds her of Captain Stapley from ‘Time-Flight’. It was a nice and interesting link to that story, considering Peter Grimwade wrote ‘Time-Flight’ and that Tegan thought highly of Stapley.
I liked the references made to ‘The Flying Dutchman’ ship when comparing it to Mawdryn and his people by the Brigadier to the Doctor. This adds nicely to the inspiration of ‘Mawdryn Undead’ by Peter Grimwade when he wrote the tale for TV and this enhances the characters of Mawdryn’s kind.
Sadly the backstory of Mawdryn isn’t well-developed. It’s more the same as it was in the TV story and it’s muddled about why Mawdryn wants to be a Time Lord one minute and then the next wanting him and his brothers to die. It was interesting that he’s described as reptilian and more alien in the book.
The characters of Nyssa, Tegan and the Doctor are well-handled in the tale. Tegan gets heavily focused as a companion compared to Nyssa as it was in the TV story. But I liked how Peter Grimwade stresses on Tegan’s bluntness and Nyssa’s gentle compassion, especially as they deal with Mawdryn.
It was interesting to discover through the novelization with the audiobook in the background that it was raining when Nyssa and Tegan arrived in 1977 before it stopped and became sunny again. Apparently it was raining a bit on the Silver Jubilee Day in 1977 according to the Target novelization.
The scene lengths in the story are longer just as the eight chapters are lengthy and chunky. There’s also less cutting of scenes to spoil the flow of the action in the story as it tended to be in the TV tale. One example is the scene where the Doctor meets the Brigadier for the first time on the obelisk hill.
I liked that scene featuring the Doctor’s conversation with the Brigadier about U.N.I.T. on the hill and not back at the school. It seemed to make sense, especially when Hippo didn’t need to go back to the Headmaster’s office for a strange reason on TV. The Brig takes the Doctor to his hut from the hill.
Another example is when the Doctor and the Brigadier walked up to the obelisk in ‘Part Three’ with dialogue taken from the first scene of that episode after discovering Turlough’s gone missing from sick bay. I liked how Grimwade transfers dialogue to scenes in order to save time and keep the flow.
The story ends with Turlough joining the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan in the TARDIS and there’s an extra scene where the Brigadier is content and happy afterwards. It would’ve been nice to have seen that scene, since the TV version seemed to end pretty abruptly with saying goodbye to the Brigadier.
‘Mawdryn Undead’ is a better novelization by Peter Grimwade to read compared to his novelization for ‘Time-Flight’. I enjoyed reading the book for this review as well as exploring more of Turlough’s introduction and the return of the Brigadier and the Black Guardian to ‘Doctor Who’ in the TV series.
The audiobook adds to that enjoyment and I’m very pleased this was done with David Collings providing the narration, especially as he played Mawdryn in the TV story. I’m disappointed David Collings doesn’t do exact recreations for the characters’ voices in this, but they seem decent enough.
‘Doctor Who – Mawdryn Undead’ rating – 8/10
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