Doctor Who: Last Christmas


YES MOFFAT, go on my son.

Not only was this one of the finest Crimbo specials, but it was also one of the best Capaldi episodes so far. I’d go as far as to say it enters the pantheon of Moffat classics. YAS. It can now make friends with ‘Listen’, ‘The Eleventh Hour’, ‘Blink’ and all the others. Bessie mates.

This wasn’t just a stand alone special, it was really the topper for all of season 8, a culmination of the character journeys we’ve been taken on this year. It was the Doctor and Clara dealing with the lies they told and where it left them, with Clara accepting what has happened and moving on, the Doctor mellowing to show more human emotion and even unbridled joy. Oh, I’m sure he’s still going to be rude and acerbic, but it’s clear this version of the Doctor has also turned a corner.

So yeah, by gum that was a lovely special, now let’s take a quip gallop through some of the highs and lows:


Okay, I’ll admit it, when Santa turned up at the end of season 8, I CLENCHED. Well consider me now to be as loose as a goose. Nick Frost was brilliant in the part, his offhand matter-of-factness was perfect. And the explanation behind Santa worked wonderfully and helped elevate the episode further.

Shona dancing to Slade through the scary-ass room full of monsters. What an awesome, funny, spooky scene.

IN FACT: Shona. Just Shona. What a brilliant creation, wonderfully played. I can’t have been alone in thinking we had a new companion on our hands, she seemed perfect for it. Add the fact she referred to the Doc as a ‘Magician’, and we know the next ep is called ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’, and her almost desperate desire to keep in contact, it seemed we were being presented with the latest friend for the Doctor, but… she’s not there at the end. The Doctor and Clara will return. Shona is left alone in her disappointing looking life. THIS WILL NOT STAND! Surely we will be dropping in on Shona again? I DEMAND IT! PLEASE ME AND ME ALONE, BBC!!!!!

This was, at times, pretty scary stuff. The face-hugger things were creepy as all hell, the aforementioned dance through the infirmary, being pulled through a TV screen, Clara under the bench trying to do maths in her head to distract herself; this was creepy stuff for a family show! And yay to that, cuz I like my Who a bit scary, ta.

Dream Crabs. Moffat did it again. Another brilliant monster creation. Surely they’ll turn up in another episode as a sudden unexpected twist in tail? Think of the nightmare worlds we could visit.

Troughton’s son appeared! And yes, how nice that the slimy creep was roundly mocked, then bumped off. Sexist swine!

The monsters fooled me. All this speculation that Clara would be leaving, I totally bought it when the Doctor pulled the Dream Crab (what an ace monster name) off her fizzog and she was old; that this was it. What a sad/lovely ending. BUT THEN NO! Santa is back, the Doc is still in a dream, Clara is young and raring to leap aboard for adventure again. Past angst and uncertainties between the two are now resolved and they race gleefully towards wonder and danger.  Now some sorry souls will have been choking on their sprouts at this point, cuz weird as it might seem, lots hate Clara. They decry season 8 as being ‘Clara Who’. I know, total dumb-dumbs. Personally, I think 12 and Clara have shown themselves to be one of the finest Doctor-Companion pairings in the shows long history, and if we’re getting the chance to see more of that, then yay, and woo-hoo, and all that sort of jazz. (Aw, but Shona… Yeah, she would’ve been ace) (bah)

The sort-of return of Danny Pink. His last scene, telling Clara to feel the sadness of his loss for only five minutes a day, and to live life to the full for the rest of the time, was proper lovely stuff. But Moffat can’t write real emotion! Yeah, clear off, that complaint got old (and just plain wrong) a loooooooong time ago.

The Doctor taking control of the sleigh. JOYFUL.

‘I feed them magic carrots’.

The chalk boards, wiping away words to reveal others.

There’s just so much good, I could blather on for ages.


This is tricky… I’m not saying it was perfect, but I’m having difficulty really picking out stuff that annoyed.

OKAY! Shona not joining up at the end. WANT SHONA, WAAA….!

I worked out early on who the patients would be, but is that a bad thing..? Nah.

I guess it was a bit heavy on the Doctor explaining stuff in big chunks..?

Errr….. nope. That’s it. I got nothing.

Final Thoughts:

A brilliant way to finish off a fine year for Doctor Who. To compliment one of the strongest seasons we’ve had, we get one of the strongest Christmas specials. How very fitting. I can’t wait to see what Moff has up his sleeve for next season (And if Shona is up there, I’ll be a happy chappy). Now hurry up season 9, I’m waiting..!

Rating: 9/10

The Doctor and Clara will return in ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’


Doctor Who: Looking Back at Season 8

Cap Promo
So THAT’S what a complete season in one go feels like. Huh. Season 8, Capaldi’s first,  has come and gone in a (sometimes controversial) whirl.

This was the most consistent season in modern Who. No question. Oh, you don’t think so? YOU’RE WRONG!! See, I win because this is my site. MY SITE! Does that make it my favourite season of modern Who, though..? Nope. Don’t get me wrong, it was often superb, but I think I’m still going with season five, Moffat’s first in charge. Now that had more middling episodes than eight, that’s for sure, but something about that run just does IT for me. The feel, the Doctor, the highs, the often giddy joy of it. Oh, and it STILL has the best season finale in all of modern Who. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang; that thing is fully awesome. (Oh, and it also has the best first episode for a Doctor in ‘The Eleventh Hour’. TRUTH.)

So not my personal favourite, but as I say, easily the most consistently strong season we’ve had, and at times there was much more emotion and thematic depth than we’ve been used to. Shit got deep. Possibly one of the reason’s it’s seemed to be a very divisive season,  along with Capaldi’s Doctor stepping away from the bouncy, cuddly, warm Doctor we’ve been used to. Bur WHAT a Doctor! Fierce, odd, funny, and, most importantly, so different to what we’ve just had. In some ways it was a risk going for Capaldi, it’s not what the modern audience are used to, but I think it seems to have gone over well with near universal acclaim for his take on the role, even from many people who think the actual episodes stink.

Oh, and Capaldi and Coleman made a wonderful duo. I liked Clara with Eleven, but with Twelve she really found her Doctor.

Okay, here are some quick thoughts on each episode:

Deep Breath


A giant dinosaur in Victorian London coughing up the TARDIS? YUS PLZ!

WOAH, they REALLY took Clara up a few notches here, and Coleman plays it wonderfully.

That scene between the Doctor and Clara in the restaurant. Cor lumy, but that was terrific stuff. In fact, everything from that point on was amazing.

An air balloon fashioned from human skin.

‘Don’t look in that mirror, it’s absolutley furious!’

The Doctor in the alley with the poor homeless man. ACE.

The Doctor translating/maybe not really translating the dinosaur as he slept.

Capaldi is outstanding in this, his first full outing. Fierce, yes, but so very, very funny with it.


On first appearance, I was not taken with Missy. ‘Huh, hum,’ thought I, ‘another villain played archly, I want someone who feels dangerous!’ (SPOILER: I ENDED UP LOVING MISSY. MIIIIIIIISSSYYYYYY…!)

We didn’t get to see Capaldi choose his outfit. I LIKE THOSE SCENES WITH A NEW DOCTOR, WAH! FAN ENTITLEMENT!!! PLEASE ME AND ME ALONE!

Yeah, we probably could have dropped a scene here or there (basically the Strax examining Clara scene). But I laughed when she got a newspaper to the mush. I LAUGHED.

Into The Dalek


“Don’t be lasagne…”

“No, not like that, get it right.” The scene in which Journey Blue meets the Doctor aboard the TARDIS; gosh, LOVED IT. Capaldi was fantastic in this scene.

Our introduction here to Danny was nicely done, even if the close up on his little tear was a bit heavy-handed. (Well, A LOT heavy-handed) (A hand that weighed as much as 47 man-hands)

‘You, are a good Dalek’. Taking the words from ‘Dalek’ and taking it up a notch. Good stuff.

The Doctor’s more practical response to a death; we’re really seeing how different he is to what’s gone before.

“She cares so I don’t have to.”

The Doctor turning down Journey Blue. ( I TOTES thought he’d go back and pick her up at the end of the last episode.)

” I see… hatred..!” The Doctor allowing the creature into his mind.


What on Earth was the soldiers end game when going into the Dalek? They never actually state what they hope to achieve, and that’s a problem. Clarity is all, if I’m asking such a basic question, then you haven’t given me the information I need. Perhaps it was lost between drafts or during the footage edit..? You can infer, but you don’t get a simply stated reason. Bad.

Yeah… it was a tad obvious what would happen when he fixed that leak….

The Dalek attack inside the ship at the end looked a bit…. flat..?

Into The Dalek

Robot of Sherwood


On first watch? NOPE. NUH-UH. Did not greatly care for it, a few nice scenes aside. Then I watched it again and thought, you know what? This is really FUN. It’s a jolly. Really quite a disconcerting swerve to one side after Deep Breath and Into The Dalek, and perhaps that’s what threw me off at first. But come on, this is oodles of fun.

The relationship between Hood and the Doctor? Awesome. Their bickering whilst locked up in the cell is a thing of giddy joy.

Cool robot design, with lazer gun faces.


Firing an arrow at a spaceship that somehow allows it to then fully take off and explode somewhere safe. I… whut..?

Wait, the girl in the castle was Maid Marion?! I had no idea that the woman revealed at the end was supposed to be the same one we had already met. Nope. Really poor job there. CLARITY!!!

Was this one perhaps a little too daft and cartoonish for the tone of season 8..? Perhaps. But nyeh, it were fun.





Listen poster
Time Heist


The Teller was really a cool creation, and what it did to people, turning their brains to soup..? YES.

It looked ace, props to the director, who did sterling work on all of his episodes this season.

Cutting from holding the phone to holding the memory worm in a different location was very cool.


Well, this was a bit of a bump down to Earth after the sublime ‘Listen’…. I’m no Steve Thompson fan (One ACE ep of Sherlock aside) and this was another shit-the-bed moment. Even with Moffat co-writing, it failed to deliver.

The central heist made NO SENSE. Really. NO SENSE.

If you want to wipe peoples memories so they can get past a monster that could detect their guilt, perhaps don;t fill them in on what’s happening until AFTER they get past said monster, otherwise what the hecks the point? They know what they’re doing, just not how or why. DUMB. They still know they’re trying to break in to a bank. GUH.

There wasn’t enough time spent making the additional two companions any more than rudimentary cartoon cut-outs for me. Some people seemed to LOVE them. Colour me confused.

The Architect twist. This was some serious rug pulling there guyz, respect! I was all like ‘whaa?!?!’ and ‘AXZGFGGGT!!!@!’ I mean. Well. To be honest I’d worked it out a couple of minutes into the episode; who the heck else was it going to be?

Ms Delphox. An arch, cartoon baddie; cool, fair enough, they can be fun. BUT, if an episode is resting on the revelation that it’s an elderly version of her who has a bout of regret and sets the heist in motion, perhaps you need to delve a bit deeper into the character, show there’s more to her, so that it’s possible to swallow the idea. So that you can understand the Doctor jumping to this conclusion and being right.

For an impregnable bank, it was pretty easily, uh, pregged..?

I’d been loving the Doctor/Clara banter up to this point, but it seemed to fall flat for some reason in those early scenes here.

Poorest episode of the season for me. Come on Moffat, give Stevey T a rest now, he’s had three episodes, give someone else his slot, plz. (He’ll totally be writing an episode for season 9, won’t he..? *sigh…*)

The Caretaker


I always like episodes penned by Gareth Roberts, but even so I was surprised by just HOW MUCH I liked this one. So funny; really, properly funny stuff that then swerved into high, emotional drama.

The Doctor assuming Clara was dating the teacher who reminded him a bit of the Eleventh Doctor.

Danny and the Doctor in the TARDIS, hoo-boy that was some explosive stuff.

Gosh, was Capaldi ACE in this. His little altercation with Courtney was fab. OH! And having her drop lunch in the TARDIS when he takes her for a trip; cool stuff.


The Blitzer robot thingy was a bit on the naff side.

Danny’s sudden burst of silly gymnastic’s. Uh… yeah… No.

The ‘racism’ thing that was gabbed about after broadcast. Because the Doctor (for clearly stated reasons) is mean to Danny, who happens to be black. So much liberal hand-wringing on that there internet. IT WAS BECAUSE HE WAS A SOLIDER. NOT A BLACK SOLDIER, A SOLDIER. Poor Gareth Roberts. 😦 Look, I get why it might ping some peoples radar, because there is a little bit of a history about how white people have treated black people (No, really, Google it if you don’t believe me) but it saddens me that this seemed to create such frothing debate. It was because he dislikes soldiers. SOLDIERS. They couldn’t have made it much clearer.

Kill The Moon


Well this one ruffled a few feathers, hey..?!? The Doctor ducking out of the big decision, the was-it-or-wasn’t-it a pro/anti-choice conversation, Clara’s putting the Doctor in his place, A GIANT DRAGON HATCHING FROM THE MOTHER-COCKING MOON. This was no tentative first script from Peter Harness, this was a bold swing for the fences. For me? He pulled it off.

Creepy-ass spider thingies.

The Doctor at his most alien.

Blimey, Clara was top in this.


Courtney didn’t get to do a whole lot…

That egg GIANT MOON DRAGON laid at the end was a bit…. big..?

Some of the edit felt a little… off at times. Like moments had been sliced out of certain scenes.

People who only saw it as anti-choice, thereby completely ignoring all the stuff that was anti-anti-choice, because it’s better to be angry and stamp your lickle feet than admit it was a little more grey and complex than that.



Mummy on The Orient Express


A season highlight, no question.

That Mummy was PROPER ace looking. Even if one dolt I saw on the internet complained that it was actually “crappy CGI”. People be dumb.

The on-screen countdown gimmick worked an absolute treat, emphasising how short a time each victim had; you could FEEL the tension as the seconds counted down.

The Doctor taking on the Mummy himself, and defeating it in 66 seconds.

….Clara in silk pyjamas.

Frank Skinner was surprisingly brill in his role. Okay, he wasn’t asked to do that much, but he was funny. (I totally thought it was going to be revealed that only the Doctor was seeing him for whatever reason. But no.)

“Sometimes all you have are bad choices, but you still have to choose.” That beach scene. Ace.

Jelly baby?

CAPALDI! Just… CAPALDI! So good.


Another monster that wasn’t really a monster? Probably  a bit overused that. This was so ace I’ll overlook it, but, yeah…

Who was behind the whole thing? Will we get to see later on? Not super important, but it very vaguely niggled.



What a FANTASTIC idea for a monster. I can think of no higher praise than saying the Boneless are the kind of threat I’d normally expect Moffat to deliver. Yeah, they’re THAT ace.

Loved the Doctor’s little speech as the TARDIS was returned to it’s normal exterior size.

The Doctor dances.

Clara working out how to trick the Boneless. YUS.

‘Goodness, had nothing to do with it.’


This one got HEAPS of praise, and I liked it a bunch, but I don’t think I enjoyed it quuiiiite as much as most people. The constant cutting back into the tiny TARDIS started to annoy for some reason. I think they should have got it into siege mode much earlier and had Clara seemingly cut-off and REALLY on her own for much longer. Think how much more the threat would feel then.

Riggsy was a little too eager to give up his life on that train, almost reluctant not too once it was made clear by Clara that he didn’t have too. I’ve read people defending that moment, but it still seems  a little too much to me.

Don’t answer the phone, Clara, call him back when you’re not in imminent danger!!!

In the Forest of the Night


This looked amazing, the director really did a terrific job, especially the way she handled the scenes inside the TARDIS.

You know what, this episode charmed me. It was charming. I enjoyed watching it, it felt fun.

The Doctor repeating Clara’s words from ‘Kill the Moon’ back to her. Oh yes.


There was no sense of threat AT ALL. None. Zilch. Nada.

So one phone call from a little girl asking the world not to do something? That’s the plan you’re going with? Okay.

The sister appearing from behind the magic bush. That’s almost Tennant-lighting-the-Olympic-torch levels of bite your fist, cringe-inducingly awful cheese. *shudders*

Where were all the people in London..?

LOOK, I kinda liked it, alright? I’M SORRY.

Dark Water

Dark Water



Coleman knocks it out of the park, as she has all season. Boy howdy is she terrific.

“Do you think I care for you so little, that betraying me would make a difference?” Sorry, I’ve just… something in my eye…

A two-parter! WOO-HOO-!

The woman picking up Danny’s phone to talk to Clara.

Missy. MISSY.

Three words…



Yeah, um, maybe drop that outside scene so you might have been able to keep the Cyberman reveal a bit more under wraps, hm? it felt like it was supposed to be more of a surprise than it was.

Seriously. Missy was awesome.

Can’t the Doc just click his fingers to open the TARDIS door..? I rationalised it so that he still had to have a key on him for it to work, but come on, you shouldn’t overlook this stuff, just dismiss it as unimportant if you yourself came up with the gimmick in the first bloomin’ place. It slightly spoiled the scene because the question was rolling around my head.

Death in Heaven



“Hey Missy you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Missy.”

“I’m going to kill you in a minute.”

Missy was amazing every time she was on-screen. Just magnetically bonkers and at times chilling. That whole scene with Osgood was terrific.

‘All of space and time?’

The Cybermen attacking a plane and tearing it apart. YES THANK YOU PLEASE.

They killed someone we liked. YES. LOVE IT. MORE OF THIS.

Galifrey wasn’t there. The Doctor’s breakdown. Oh my yes. Amazing stuff.

Never trust a hug.

Danny is turned into a Cyberman and then dies, a great way to go out. If sliiiiiiiightly spoiled by him still apparently being ‘alive’ in the Matrix. Which… hm.

A great season finale, not up there with Pandorica/The Big Bang for me, but solid stuff.


I didn’t have a problem with what they did with the Brigadier, what I DID have a problem with was that I think it was a daft way to finish off (yeah, yeah, she teleported away I KNOW) the Master. We have not seen this character. Not just this episode, but at all in the modern series. He’s been briefly mentioned a couple of times. Briefly mentioned once in this episode. Now I loved the Doctor saluting him at the end, but it just does not feel right to me to give a more or less invisible character such a vital moment at the end.

So… why did Missy put Clara and the Doctor together? In the end it seemed there was no real, clear reason. She could’ve got the Doctor to a building in London any number of ways!

How was the little boy able to walk out of the Matrix? Alive? With a flesh body? The Matrix doesn’t store flesh bodies. What I miss here..?

Santa. I… hmm… not sure how I feel about that… Prove me wrong, Christmas special!


Like I said at the start, the most consistent season of modern Who. Easy. Moffat has really changed his game here, it felt new and different to the Smith era; Moffat pulled it off. And wow, what a different take on the Doctor we got here, Capaldi was MAGNETIC. I can’t wait to see where they go next, and who will be joining Capaldi for the ride…

Overall Season rating: 8.5/10

So… what did YOU think of season 8, and what were your fave episodes..?

(Episode posters by @stuart_manning )


First Lines That Make You Read On

first lines

“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”

That is the first line in Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Graveyard Book’. Bloody good, isn’t it? Possibly my favourite first line in a novel. Well, my favourite that I can remember, my memory is terrible, now back to this article about Batman. Ha, I dones’ a joke!

How about another slice of Mr G:

“The Time Lords built a prison.”

Okay, so as a big Doctor Who fan I may be a little biased as that’s from his pretty ace Who short, ‘Nothing O’Clock’, but that line is so simple and yet so intriguing that I’m IN. I want to know more. Why have they built this prison? For who? Or, perhaps, for what

Okay, enough Gaiman bottom kissing, how about an off-quoted example from another master, Mr Stephen King:

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.”

Again, it’s simple, yet evocative, it makes you want to know more.

First lines are important to me, they should DO something to me as I read. This is your chance to grab me and have me on board immediately. I want to be surprised, or intrigued, or pulled into a strange world; they have to MAKE you read on. MAKE you read the next line. And the next. And the next. And before you know it, you’re on to chapter two and you’re going to keep going.

I thought I’d share a first line of my own:

“Dorothy was chosen to die when she was barely a full day old.”

That’s from a serial novel I’m working on at the moment. It was the very first idea, the first line, that popped into my head and the rest of story sprang from it. As with the other examples, I like to think it’s simple yet intriguing. Oh go on, here’s another, this time from a novel (well… it’s currently 50,000 words…):

“Billy was awoken in the dead of night by somebody calling his name.”

Again, (hopefully) simple yet intriguing. Maybe even a little unnerving..?

I love a good first line, and in my own work I feel like I NEED one before I can really carry on. It’s like finding a solid foundation to sit the rest on.

So what do you think of the ones I’ve chosen? Do you have any faves? Even faves you’ve written yourself..?


How To Be a Writer

writer 2

Being an ace, nifty, sexy writer, I have secrets. Secrets to teach eager plebs like YOU. This isn’t me talking down to you, oh no, just acknowledging that I have a duty as a fabulous, talented, humble writer (with tons of sex appeal) to pass on what I have learned to you lesser sorts. YOU’RE WELCOME.

So here’s an absolutely foolproof guide on how to be a writer. Feel free to send me nudey pics by way of thanks.

Step 1: Write. Ideally do a bit of planning before you set off, it’ll help. A lot. Oh I know, I know, you want to ‘find the story’  as you write, or you can’t be done being tied down and restrained by something as boring as a plan. You’re a fearless explorer heading out into uncharted territory with just a laptop, poor social skills and a double-chin for company! My advice is to get over that fast, you big silly, even if you only jot down a few vague ideas, or an end point that you’re moving towards. If you do, you’re going to find it much easier to start putting words down on the page, and that’s the most important thing. You can beat the terror of the blank page if you’re greeting it with a clear purpose in mind.

Now this doesn’t mean you have to stick to whatever plan you’ve sketched out (as brief or as in-depth as you decided to make it), it’s there as a motivator,  a safety net, some reassurance that you have some place to go if you so choose. Do some planning beforehand, you’ll be so happy you did in the long run.

Step 2: As you write your first draft, try not to get distracted by this picture:

Pug Pizza

Step 3: WRITE FAST. Outrun the doubts. Just get the words down, pat yourself on the back about your word count at the end of each day, and get to ‘The End’ as quickly as possible. This is a first draft. Script or prose, doesn’t matter; plan, write fast, finish the thing. People get too concerned with slaving over every line, trying to get it perfect NOW. Don’t be like those poor saps inching their way at a snails pace towards a ropey first draft, realise the most important thing is just to get the story out, to reach the end. You can buff the thing up all pretty after.

Step 4: NOW you can enjoy this picture as a reward for finishing that first draft. LOOK AT HIM:

Pug Pizza

Why did he eat all that pizza? It wasn’t even his cheat day! 😦

Step 5: Re-write that sucker. And again. And again. Nope, still not done: AGAIN. Repeat as often as you can stand. Ask people you trust for feedback if you like, it’ll help you to improve the thing if fresh eyes give it a once over, even if you don’t agree with what they have to say. New, unexpected opinions, good or bad, will get the wheels turning in your head once more, even if you think there’s nothing more you can do to the thing, no new ways to approach it.

Step 6: Send it out into the world and start again. And again. FOREVER. (You can stop once you’re the special at the worm food cafe) Some of you will drop off at some point, it’ll feel like you’re smashing mush-first into a brick wall that you’re never going to be able to scramble over. Rejection and failure are a writers best pals and you better get used to setting a place at the table for them. If you can cope with that, you’ll be able to keep going. To those who persevere go the spoils. (Or not. No guarantees, bud.)

Step 7: Swim Scrooge McDuck-like in your fabulous riches*. (Warning swimming in coins claims the lives of eight writers a year, make sure you never attempt it on a full stomach (or without some sort of groin protector).)


Step 7: Grow super resentful of lesser, hack talents who are hogging the limelight that SHOULD be yours. If only you had the jammy, lucky breaks they’d had! Drink heavily and alienate friends.



*That might just be me, the rest of you can just be happy that whatever level of success you achieve: YOU ARE A WRITER.