Zienia Merton 1945 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 16 September 2018 - Reported by Marcus
The actress Zienia Merton has died at the age of 72.

Zienia Merton appeared in the 1964 Doctor Who story Marco Polo playing the Chinese girl Ping-Cho.

45 years later she appeared in the Sarah Jane Adventures playing the registrar who married Sarah Jane to Peter Dalton, played by Nigel Havers.

She is best remembered for playing Sandra Benes in the 1970's Gerry Anderson series Space: 1999.

Zienia Merton was born in Burma. Her mother was Burmese, and her father half-English, half-French.

Early television appearances included parts in The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Jason King. She played Christina in the 1971 Dennis Potter TV adaptation of Casanova with Frank Finlay.

Later appearances included Grange Hill, Return of the Saint, Bergerac, Angels, Tenko, Dempsey & Makepeace, Lovejoy, Doctors, Casualty, EastEnders, The Bill and Coronation Street.




Lovett Bickford 1942 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Friday, 14 September 2018 - Reported by Marcus

Director Lovett Bickford has died at the age of 76.

Lovet Bickford directed the 1980 Doctor Who story The Leisure Hive, the first story of Tom Baker's final season of the series. The story marked a new beginning for the series with the appointment of a new producer John Nathan Turner.

The production was notoriously fraught with difficulties, with the leading man proving difficult to direct and the production going substantially over budget. As a result, Bickford never worked on the series again.

Bickford had previously worked on Doctor Who in the 1960's in the role of Assistant Floor manager.

Other directorial credits include The History of Mr. Polly, Angels, Z-Cars, The Enigma Files and Emmerdale

Lovett Bickford died on 29th July 2018, aged 76. A service of thanksgiving will be held on Monday 1st October, at St Mary's Church, Battersea.




Peter Benson 1943 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 9 September 2018 - Reported by Marcus

The actor Peter Benson has died at the age of 75.

Peter Benson played Bor, one of the Vani, in the 1983 fifth Doctor story Terminus.

Benson was best known for playing Bernie Scripps in the ITV series Heartbeat, appearing in all 18 series from 1992 to 2010.

He played Henry VI for the BBC 1983 production of the Shakespeare trilogy detailing the life of the King and played his successor King Henry VII in the first series of the comedy Blackadder. He appeared in the ITV soap opera Albion Market and the Drama on the life of Pope Alexander VI, The Borgias

Other parts include roles in The Bill, Coronation Street,

Peter Benson was born on June 13, 1943. He died on September 6, 2018




Jacqueline Pearce 1943-2018Bookmark and Share

Monday, 3 September 2018 - Reported by Marcus

The actress Jacqueline Pearce, best known for her role as the main villain, Servalan, in the science fiction series Blakes 7, has died at the age of 74.

Born in Woking in the south of England, Jacqueline Pearce trained at the British stage school RADA and at Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in Los Angeles.

Her TV career began in the 1960's with regular roles in the ITV Play of the Week as well as appearances in shows such as The Avengers and Armchair Theatre

She starred in two Hammer horror films, The Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile, filmed simultaneously in 1966. Other film roles include Sky West and Crooked, Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River and How to Get Ahead in Advertising.

Roles in the 1970's included Rosa Dartle in David Copperfield, Claudia Haswell in Couples, and Anna Rupius in Vienna 1900. But it was in 1978 that she was cast in the role for which she would be ever known.

Servalan was the Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation in Blakes 7, the TV drama devised by Dalek creator Terry Nation. The character was only expected to appear in one episode of the saga, but Pearce's electrifying performance ensured the character would survive far longer than the title character, appearing in all four series.

A cold, calculating, ruthless sociopath Servalan's main aim was to destroy the crew of the Liberator and the relish with which Pearce played the character ensured she would remain a fan favourite for the series duration.

Her Doctor Who appearance came in 1985, playing Chessene of the Franzine Grig in the Colin Baker story The Two Doctors. She later appeared in Audio productions for Big Finish.

In 1991 she played Miss Pendragon in the Russell T. Davies series Dark Season.

She also appeared in series such as Casualty, Doctors, Daniel Deronda and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Jacqueline Pearce relocated to South Africa for several years, initially to care for orphaned monkeys. Her autobiography, From Byfleet to the Bush, was published in 2012.

Alliance Agents who worked with the actress paid tribute.
Everyone at Alliance Agents are devastated to learn of the passing of our wonderful friend and client Jacqueline Pearce. Jacs was a glorious eccentric who enriched our lives during the time we knew her. She did everything "her way" and you never dared to stand in her way. She loved meeting her Blake's 7 fans and we are glad that we managed to give her a few convention appearances when she returned to the UK from Africa. We'll miss you Jacs. xxx
Jacqueline Pearce died at her home in Lancashire, shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer.




Janet Hargreaves 1937–2018Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 16 August 2018 - Reported by Marcus

The actress Janet Hargreaves has died at the age of 81.

Janet Hargreaves appeared in three episodes of the 1988 Doctor Who story, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, playing Mum.

She is best known for her performance in the long running soap, Crossroads, where she played Rosemary Hunter from 1971-1980. The series at the time attracted up to 18 million viewers in its late afternoon timeslot.

Hargreaves graduated from RADA in 1956, achieving a productive stage career appearing in Elgar and Alice, Habeas Corpus and a well-regarded performance in the Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap.

Prior to Crossroads she had a regular role in the soap Compact, playing Clare Farrell and The Doctors, playing Dr. Cheryl Barnes. She later appeared in Follyfoot, The Avengers, and Poirot and played a spy in Danger Man.

She remained active into her 80's continuing to teach and act, and was a regular at Crossroads reunions.

Janet Hargreaves died on Saturday, August 4th.
Thanks to Tim Brown




Alan Bennion 1930-2018Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 29 July 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Monster of Peladon (Credit: BBC)The actor Alan Bennion has died at the age of 88.

Alan Bennion appeared in 13 episodes of Doctor Who, playing Ice Lords in three serials featuring the Ice Warriors.

He first played Slaar, the leader of the Ice Warriors in the 1969 second Doctor story The Seeds of Death. He returned to the series in 1972 playing Izlyr, the Ice Warrior delegate to Peladon alongside the third Doctor, in The Curse of Peladon. His final appearance as a martian came in 1974 when he played Azaxyr. the leader of the Galactic Federation troops, sent to Peladon in the story The Monster of Peladon

Other television roles included playing The Scorpion in Sexton Blake, the Magistrate in Oliver Twist and Ted Williams in Juliet Bravo. He appeared in A Family at War, Z Cars, The Gentle Touch and Sorry!.




Leslie Grantham 1947-2018Bookmark and Share

Friday, 15 June 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Leslie Grantham (Credit: BBC)The actor Leslie Grantham has died at the age of 71.

Leslie Grantham had a small role in the 1984 story Resurrection of the Daleks playing Kiston, a member of Lytton's mercenary company. He will be best remembered for creating the role of Den Watts in the hugely successful soap opera EastEnders.

Born in Camberwell, south London, after leaving school, Grantham joined the Royal Fusiliers becoming a lance corporal. He was 18 when serving in Germany he bungled a robbery. During a struggle, he shot and killed a taxi driver, Felix Reese. Grantham insisted he did not know the gun was loaded and it had gone off by accident. The jury didn't believe him and convicted him of murder.

The next 11 years were spent in British jails. It was while serving in Leyhill Prison in Gloucestershire that he met actress Louise Jameson, who was working as a prison visitor. She encouraged him to take up acting and on his release, he was offered a place at drama school

Leslie Grantham's big break came in 1984 when he was offered the role of the pub landlord in the BBC's new gritty drama, EastEnders, set in the working class area of East London. The director of the show's first episode, Matthew Robinson, had also helmed his appearance in Doctor Who.

His was the first voice heard in the show. The character was immoral, unscrupulous and cruel and it gripped the imagination of the British public. When the character made his daughters schoolgirl friend pregnant he was dubbed Dirty Den by the tabloids.

The Christmas 1986 episode, in which Den handed divorce papers to his wife Angie, was watched by 30 million viewers, half the population of the UK.

Grantham left the series in 1989. Other roles followed but he never achieved the success enjoyed while in EastEnders. He was lured back in 2003 for an 18 month stint.

Grantham has lived in Bulgaria for the last few years. He recently retured to the UK for medical treatment He died on Friday morning

He is survived by his three children, Michael (“Spike”), Jake and Danny




Doctor Who on TwitchBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 23 May 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Social video service Twitch has today announced that over 500 classic episodes of Doctor Who will air worldwide from May 29 to July 23

Twitch is joining forces with BBC Studios for the first-ever digital broadcasting event of the Classic Doctor Who era. Over 500 episodes from 26 seasons dating from the show’s inception in 1963 until the 1980s will air worldwide over a seven-week period. Starting May 29, fans can tune in each week Monday to Friday at 11 am PDT to catch episodes on Twitch.tv/TwitchPresents.

Nick Coulter, Director of Digital Sales and Business Development at BBC Studios says:
We are constantly looking at ways to reach new audiences and make it easier for fans to engage with our most popular shows. Doctor Who, in particular, has a great tradition of pioneering new technologies, from early VHS all the way through to the new digital services of today. Twitch is another great example of this, as a brilliant service with over 15 million active daily users, we are thrilled to be able to offer them the chance to indulge in the Classic Doctor Who series and celebrate its amazing 54 year legacy of excitement and innovation.
Doctor Who is the latest in over a dozen TV shows that have aired on Twitch. Viewers who Subscribe to the TwitchPresents channel will gain access to 14 exclusive emotes themed after each of the first seven doctors.

For Doctor Who fans in the US, UK, and Canada, Twitch is hosting a giveaway each week of the event, including a grand prize trip to London Comic Con in Fall 2018.

As part of the event, leading UK digital content creators The Yogscast are producing a series of shows that will introduce each Doctor. With a cast of Doctor Who screenwriters, experts, fans, and even a former companion, the Yogscast's Turps and resident Doctor Who expert and High Roller's player Matt Toffollo will be discussing why modern audiences should be watching Doctor Who. Each 20-minute episode will provide a brief summary of the stories that are about to be shown, including the actors, monsters, famous phrases or production gaffes to look out for. With first-hand knowledge from former companion Katy Manning (who played Jo Grant the Third Doctor Companion) and writers Bob Baker and Paul Cornell, the shows will give insight into the series alongside the humor and irreverence viewers expect from the Yogscast.

Jane Weedon, Director of Business Development at Twitch said
“Doctor Who and its clever take on sci-fi exemplifies the type of adjacent content to gaming that has resonated with the Twitch community. By presenting this iconic BBC show in a new interactive format, it is a fun new way to bridge several generations of Doctor Who fans, while building a new generation of them.
For more information on the Doctor Who episodes that will air on Twitch, visit the Twitch blog.

Doctor Who on Twitch




Graham Strong 1949- 2018Bookmark and Share

Friday, 18 May 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Mark Ayres and Graham Strong (Credit: Stephen Cranford)Graham Strong, the man responsible for the survival of many high-quality audio recordings of missing Doctor Who episodes, has died at the age of 69.

Graham Strong was a 14-year-old schoolboy when Doctor Who began in 1963. A keen electronics student, his hobby included building valve and transistor radios, as well as repairing televisions for neighbours. He was the proud owner of a second-hand Reel to reel tape machine and decided to use this to preserve the audio of this exciting new serial.

I can’t recall if I actually recorded the first episode of Doctor Who. The earliest recording I still have was the first episode of The Keys of Marinus first shown on 11 April 1964. Recordings were made via a basic crystal microphone (which came with the machine), hanging over the television speaker with a plant pot placed on the top of the T.V. to keep the microphone in place! Mother was given instructions to not enter the room when ‘recording was in session’
Following The Daleks' Master Plan, episode 7, Strong, used his electronics knowledge to wire the audio output from the television into the Tape recorder. A highly dangerous procedure that breaks every rule of electrical safety but one that resulted in recordings that were crystal clear.

Strong was one of a small number of early fans who recorded audio from the now missing stories. However, he is believed to be the only one to record directly from the Television, resulting in the superior quality of his recordings.

In 1994 an accidental meeting with a Doctor Who fan who had contacts in the BBC brought his collection to the attention of the corporation. By this time the master tapes of most early episodes had been junked and the episodes were either missing or only existed as film prints. After reassurance that his tapes would be carefully cared for, Strong handed over recordings containing over 100 Doctor Who episodes.

Strong's recordings have been used for the animated releases of missing episodes such as Power of the Daleks. His recordings are so clear that they often exceed the quality available on the surviving film prints of the episodes, and as a result, a number of DVD's of early episodes contain audio taken from Strong's recordings rather than the film print.




Canada cinema outing for Genesis of the DaleksBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 16 May 2018 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Cineplex: Genesis of the Daleks (14 Jun 2018) (Credit: Cineplex, BBC Worldwide)Canadian fans will be able to join the US in seeing the "director's cut" of Genesis of the Daleks in Cineplex cinemas on the 14th June.

The Fourth Doctor and his companions Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) are transported thousands of years into the past to the ancient planet Skaro where they are given a mission from the Time Lords to prevent the evil scientist Davros from introducing to the universe the most destructive race of killing machines ever created, the Daleks. This never-before-seen 90-minute director’s cut will be followed by a first look at “In Conversation with Tom Baker” - a newly recorded interview with the Fourth Doctor himself!

For full details on where the story can be seen see the Cineplex website.





Black Archive #18: Marco PoloBookmark and Share

Saturday, 31 March 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Black Archive #18: Marco Polo (Credit: Obverse)The latest release from The Black Archive series of books looks at the 1964 Doctor Who story Marco Polo

Marco Polo was broadcast during an era of cultural change, reshaping television’s role as historian, and locating the reader, not the author, at the centre of interpretation. This is crucial given how the fourth serial recruits the viewer as a fellow traveller in Marco’s caravan.

The epic journey is staged through camera-treatments and mobility, adaptive and remedial interventions, public and book history, cultural assumptions and memories. Rather than the solitary authorial figure of Marco, this book celebrates the collaborators, copyists, studio personnel and fans, whose community storytelling is in the philosophical spirit of Doctor Who.

Dene October is editor of Doctor Who and History and is a Senior Lecturer at the University of the Arts, London. He is in the possibly unique position of having seen Marco Polo not once, but twice, on broadcast.

October investigates several threads while keeping to the rhythm of the travelogue, exploiting how the exhaustive televisual experience inverts the trope of time travel. His book is itself a wayfaring reflection on how we travel through media and memory in reconstructing this most famous and earliest of missing stories.
Marco Polo is all about writing. It’s what Tegana – the Mongol warlord secretly working against Kublai Khan – complains about, drawing his sword in frustration as Marco sits about writing his journal. What Tegana means is there’s too much talk and not enough sword fights (cue episode seven spoilers!). But his comment might equally be one about the serial itself, which has an unfair reputation for discursive storytelling. Except that’s not how I remember the serial at all … and I’ve been lucky enough to see it, not once but twice.

Writing Marco Polo for the Black Archive was an opportunity to put the record straight. Except that, just like Marco’s original narrative told for a thirteenth century audience, the fourth serial is lost, leaving us with a need to reconstruct it for new audiences. But that’s okay, because what is a black archive unless it is the opportunity to reflect on the empty space before us? In this sense, the Black Archive is, like a television screen, both immersive and reflective, one we sometimes catch sight of ourselves in. This is what I wanted to assert throughout this book, which explores many critical as well as personal themes, such as how camera treatments tell stories and facilitate virtual travel, how stories are told in adaptive and remedial frameworks, and as public history, and how fan-viewers become custodians of popular culture … fans like me, a writer reconstructing, like Marco, his travels from memory.
Black Archive #18: Marco Polo is released on 7th April 2018 and can be ordered from Obverse Books.




New WhoTalk CommenteriesBookmark and Share

Sunday, 11 March 2018 - Reported by Marcus
WhoTalk - Survival (Credit: Fantom Publishing)The Monster Era -Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines, Toby Hadoke (Credit: Fantom Publishing) Fantom Publishing is releasing two new Commentaries in their WhoTalk series.

The series beings cast a crew together to provide an alternative commentary to the officially released Doctor Who stories.

The first two, of what is promised to be a bumper year of releases, come from either end of the original series.

Producer Paul W T Ballard explains
There were a few ‘orphan’ missing episodes without commentaries that we made it our mission to cover with this range. So we bring together a collection from the Patrick Troughton golden ‘Monster Era‘ of the show, which covers a number of key stories, including The Faceless Ones and The Evil of the Daleks.

It’s with a heavy heart that we also include our last commentary recording with our dear friend Deborah Watling, who is joined by missing episode hunter Phil Morris to watch the concluding installment of The Web of Fear. There is also a bonus interview where she recalls her favourite, and sadly still missing, story Fury from the Deep.

All in all, it’s quite a packed release, and the special edition version contains even more material, including Frazer Hines’s commentary for The Abominable Snowmen, and George Layton’s first viewing of The Space Pirates!
The second release this month is the serial which ended the show’s twenty-six year run on television.
Survival is one of my favourite serials, and we have had a few reunions of the cast at our conventions over the years. So it was a no-brainer to take advantage of the exciting options available and get the gang together to watch Survival for Who Talk.
There are two complete commentaries for the story included on the release.
We were thrilled to be joined by author Rona Munro, who hasn’t been interviewed a lot about the series. We were delighted to introduce to Sophie Aldred for the first time, more than a quarter of a century after the show was actually made!
These CDs are very limited, and exclusively available via whotalk.co.uk

Both sets are now available, you can purchase directly direct from Who Talk at a discounted price of £10.99 each (RRP £12.99) or via download priced £9.99. The special edition bundle will be available exclusively via the website priced £39.99.

Please note: These commentaries contain no BBC copyrighted elements and do not feature any audio from the episodes themselves.




Doctor Who Audio Recordings ArchivedBookmark and Share

Friday, 9 March 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Mark Ayres and Graham Strong (Credit: Stephen Cranford)Graham Strong, the man responsible for the survival of many high-quality audio recordings, from missing Doctor Who episodes, has donated his collection to Mark Ayres of the Doctor Who Restoration Team, in order to be properly archived.

Strong started recording the audio from the series when he was just 14, using a domestic reel to reel, quarter-inch, tape recorder, the only way of preserving audio recordings at the time. The first recordings were made via a basic crystal microphone, hanging over the television speaker with a plant pot placed on the top of the T.V. to keep the microphone in place.

Following The Daleks' Master Plan, episode 7, Strong, a keen electronics student, managed to wire the audio input into the Tape recorder, directly to the audio output of the Television set. A highly dangerous procedure that breaks every rule of electrical safety but one that resulted in recordings that were crystal clear.

In fact, the surviving recordings are so clear that they often exceed the quality available on the surviving film prints of the episodes, and as a result, a number of DVD's of early episodes contain audio taken from Strong's recordings rather than the film print.

Strong was one of a small number of early fans who recorded audio from the now missing stories. However, he is believed to be the only one to record directly from the Television, resulting in the superior quality of his recordings.

Doctor Who Recordings (Credit: Stephen Cranford)Doctor Who Recordings (Credit: Stephen Cranford)Doctor Who Recordings (Credit: Stephen Cranford)Doctor Who Recordings (Credit: Stephen Cranford)
With Thanks to Stephen Cranford




Dorka Nieradzik 1949 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Friday, 9 March 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Makeup Designer Dorka Nieradzik has died at the age of 68.

Dorka Nieradzik worked on thirty episodes of Doctor Who, covering nine stories between 1980 and 1988.

Her first story was as Makeup Artist on the Fourth Doctor story The Leisure Hive. One of her first tasks was to age the leading actor, Tom Baker, using a mixture of makeup, prosthetics, and hairpieces. She then covered the final Fourth story, Logopolis, designing the Watcher, the ghostly apparition that helped the Doctor regenerate.

For the Fifth Doctor, she worked on the stories Four To Doomsday and Time-Flight, turning renowned actor Stratford Johns into a large frog-like creature as well as disguising Anthony Ainley's Master as the alien Kalid.

She designed the Makeup for three Sixth Doctor stories, Vengeance on Varos, Revelation of the Daleks and Mindwarp, presiding over the demise of the companion Peri, before working on two Seventh Doctor stories, The Happiness Patrol and Silver Nemesis.

Dorka Nieradzik was born on March 5, 1949 in Tarnowskie Góry, Silesia, Poland as Dorka Dorota Malgorzata Nieradzik, moving to Scotland, the home of her mother, at an early age. She began her career in the theatre working as a wardrobe assistant before winning a place as a BBC Makeup training course.

At the BBC she worked on most genres of programme, with credits as diverse as Last of the Summer Wine and Top of the Pops, EastEnders and Only Fools and Horses...., Yes Minister and the Dennis Potter drama's Cold Lazarus and Karaoke.

She later worked on the feature films Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Duplicity, The Boys Are Back and Shoot 'Em Up as the personal stylist for the actor Clive Owen.

She won a Bafta award in 1995 for Makeup on Cold Comfort Farm and in 2000 was honoured her with a special BAFTA award for her contribution to the industry. In 2004 she was made MBE for services to drama.

Dorka Nieradzik died on 12 February 2018. She is survived by her father, her sister Anushia, and brother, David,