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Whooverville 2009 Podcast Panel

Adam J PurcellAdam J Purcell   on September 15th, 2009

Whooverville was more than a Doctor Who convention, for me at least.  A historic meeting of so many Doctor Who podcasters.

It all began on a slightly chilly Butterley Train Station platform at 10AM on Sunday 6th September 2009.  Four of our Staggering Stories team (Karen, Jean, Keith and myself, Adam) stumbled onto the platform to be greeted by The Colin Baker posing next to a black Dalek.  Probably an unusual sight for this particular museum train station, I’ve not had the chance to return on a different morning to see if Colin and Dalek are there again – I rather doubt it.

I can’t remember the order of the meetings but, like a coalescing star, somehow the podcasters were drawn together on the platform – the geekest of the geek horde that had invaded the heritage railway station.  Kindred spirits!

The steam train to take us on to the giant shed that was to host Whooverville was waiting at the platform as we arrived.  It was, however, lacking a ‘fireman’ (a coal shoveller) so we were late getting away.  That wasn’t a problem, though, as it gave us more time to talk amongst ourselves and have a wonderful photo taken for our albums:

Whooverville 2009 podcasters, at train station

Whooverville 2009 podcasters, at train station (by kind permission of Nat Titman)

In the above photo (taken by podcaster Nat Titman from Bridging the Rift), starting at the the left we have –
Back row: James Rockliffe from Whocast and Dad’s Army podcast, James Naughton from Podshock and Hitchhiker’s Guide to British Sci-Fi, Jean Riddler (holding the Head of Pertwee) and Karen Dunn from Staggering Stories, Marty Perrett from Whocast and Box Room, Dave Cooper from Cultdom Collective, Luke Harrison from the Minute Doctor Who Podcast.
Front row: Keith Dunn and Adam Purcell from Staggering Stories.

The celebrity panels were, for me, less compelling than simply hanging out with the numerous other podcasters on hand.  That’s not meant as a slight on the guests as they were all very interesting people but in many ways I felt like I knew the other podcasters, it was like catching up with old friends!  Besides Tony and Jo (and the rest of the Staggering Stories team, of course!) I hadn’t ever actually met any of the others.  I doubt an outsider would have had any clue that was the case.

For the most part I immediately recognised my fellow podcasters on sight – I’d seen their faces in pictures or videos.  Any doubt (still photos don’t always give a perfect representation) was immediately dispelled when I heard their voices.

Steve Hatcher, who appeared to be the main driving force behind the Whooverville convention, invited us podcasters along for the express reason of getting us together on the stage for a Podcast Panel.  That was a masterstroke for getting us all together.  I think it is fair to say that no previous British event had brought together so many Doctor Who podcasters.  Fortunately he didn’t have any dastardly plan to wipe out a good percentage of the world’s Doctor Who podcasters – it would have been the perfect opportunity had he done so, though!

Here we are on stage for the Podcasters Panel:

Whooverville Podcast Panel 2009

Whooverville Podcast Panel 2009 (by kind permission of Jo Cummins)

In the above photo (taken by podcaster Jo Cummins from The Flashing Blade) starting from the left we have –
Back row: Tony Gallichan from The Flashing Blade, Michael from the Tin Dog Podcast, Karen Dunn and Adam Purcell from Staggering Stories, Marty Perrett from the Whocast and Box Room, Dave Cooper from Cultdom Collective, James Naughton from Podshock.
Front row: Nat Titman from Bridging the Rift and Luke Harrison from the Minute Doctor Who Podcast.

The podcast panel itself was lively and fun, at least from my point of view on the stage.  A very slight (surprisingly slight) trepidation accompanied me onto the stage but it was very quickly dispelled.  I’m hardly a natural public speaker but facing the onlooking crowds was a lot easier thanks the eight friends on stage with me.

By the time all of us were up on stage and settled (squeezing 7 chairs on the small stage was not an easy task!) we had already spent about three minutes of our half hour time slot.  That left us with only about twenty-seven minutes to fill.  With seven and, when Nat and Luke quickly joined us (sans chairs!), soon nine of us on the stage it’s not hard to burn through such a short amount of time – most podcasters tend to easily fill an hour or two, rambling away each week!

The podcast panel itself wasn’t quite what I’d expected.  I’d assumed it would be a round table affair, with a mic each or a series of mics along the table that picks us all up.  That wasn’t quite what we had, instead there were about three handheld mics that we were passing between us.  I’m not sure if that was a good or bad thing.  The downside being that it made the panel a little more stilted than it might otherwise have been.  On the plus side it stopped it getting too far out of hand and minimised any one person hogging things too much!  On balance, it was probably for the best!

Let me wind things back to the previous evening, for a second.  It didn’t really all start on the train platform as six of us actually met up at the hotel the night before (one of which being Jo, who doesn’t appear in either of the photos above):

A few podcasters gather the night before Whooverville

A few podcasters gather the night before Whooverville 2009

In the above photo (taken by myself) starting from the left we have –
Tony Gallichan and Jo Cummings from The Flashing Blade, Jean Riddler, Karen Dunn and Keith Dunn from Staggering Stories.

So, that was Whooverville 2009.  There is much more to be said about it.  Seek out all the podcasts mentioned above (especially their episodes directly after 6th September 2009) to hear more.  Fear yourself to tales of The Colin Baker meeting the Head of Pertwee and more!  Also seek out Staggering Stories Podcast 54 – ‘Hounds of the Whooverville’ for more of our Staggering thoughts on it.

The attached audio file (MP3) features a few more words from me and, more importantly, the recording of the Podcast Panel I made on the day.  The background noise is a bit overpowering sometimes but hopefully it is nonetheless intelligible.  Enjoy!

 


 

The TARDIS – New and Old

Adam J PurcellAdam J Purcell   on August 27th, 2009

RTD TARDIS InteriorRumours abound about the new TARDIS set.  It was only a matter of time before news of the new TARDIS interior leaked, perhaps we have already reached that point.  Someone (sorry, I’ve no idea who) posted the following to (I believe) gallifreybase.com, before it was allegedly removed and then copied by various websites around the world (including this one!):

The set is on 2 levels, joined by a spiral staircase, but is not as big as I’d thought. It’s apparently finished though sections of it seem to be missing at present. We saw the console room, a lab area, a sort of sitting room area, a fairly long section of corridor leading nowhere and numerous other little nooks and crannies. The console room reminds me of a new and shiny version of the old one, except the roundels are very simple and basic looking, simply spherical dents in the walls.

These new style roundels are featured throughout the whole set, though not on every wall. Back to the console room – mainly golds and silvers and the coral theme has been replaced with a smooth marble like finish. Also the room is not circular, it’s a kind of hexagon-joined-to-a-square shape, the hexagon bit containing the console, which to me looked like the same console they’ve used throughout the series except with new buttons and blinky lights, though apparently it’s entirely new. Your beloved hatstand was still there but no sign of the interior doors, also there was no ceiling to the set – could be that these bits are meant to be there but were missing from the set for some reason I suppose.

Apparently the whole set has been designed in a modular way, so things can be moved and double as other parts of the ship. The roundels are different colours in each area, gold for the console room, silver/grey/blue in the lab, brown in the sitting room. The roundels can be removed/swapped out or even turned around completely to be convex rather than concave, in order to become a different area. I’ll forward some photos and more info shortly…”

If this is in any way true then I am quite excited by it!  You see, my formative years were the late 70s through to the mid 80s.  That was a time when the TARDIS was massively large on the inside, with labyrinthine corridors and countless rooms.  The interior of the TARDIS was a thing of wonder and mystery – a place you could explore for days, always finding something new and interesting.

In Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who (and towards the end of the JNT era) the TARDIS seemed to shrink until it was little more than the console room.  It stopped being a something like a home and instead became more akin to a car – something you enter to travel and then step out of when you’ve arrived.  Yes, the TARDIS was still a wondrous, even magical, machine but I couldn’t help but feel a little short changed.  The brief mention of (and eventual short scene in) the wardrobe room almost made it worse rather than better – we knew the TARDIS was vaster than we were being allowed to see.

I’m not saying that the sprawling interior we occasionally saw in the original series was always great, often it wasn’t. I don’t mind the idea of a bit of variation in the general look as you move through the various TARDIS areas but I’d really rather not see the return of ‘The Invasion of Time’ style brickwork.  Also, having recently watched Terminus, even the ‘real’ TARDIS set could look quite ropey back then.  The state of the corridor wall that Turlough opens the roundel in, is shocking.  Perhaps not noticeable on the small TVs, half way across the room, that we had in 1983 but on a modern 42″ LCD, upscaled to 1080i, it really does look shockingly cheap and tatty!  Interestingly, on the same setup, I never thought the same of the RTD TARDIS interior.

Which all brings us on to the Steven Moffat’s (the Vast Toffee (MN)) rumoured redesign of the TARDIS interior.  It all sounds very plausible to me.  It sounds like a cleaner, almost Apple, redesign based on the classic TARDIS look.  The two levels in the console room make me think of the Torchwood hub – clearly a successful and workable example.  The new roundels sound brilliant – minimalist but stylish.  If they can be swapped out for slightly different colour ones, to denote different sections of the ship, that sounds like a very clever design and suggests we might see a lot more of the TARDIS interior. That reminds me of the way the ‘sectors’ worked in Babylon 5 – they basically had one set of corridors and just changed a coloured strip half way up the wall!  Ingenious!

A lab, a sitting room. Are we going to have scenes with the Doctor and Grunhilde (sorry, I mean Amy!) relaxing, having a cup of tea? Seems unlikely we’ll see too much of that – new Who doesn’t have time to take a breath like that.  Nonetheless if these rumours are to be believed then perhaps we will see just that!  The lab is a bit more useful to the series, I would think, especially given the ‘physics teacher’ look of the eleventh Doctor.   Could this be the beginning of CSI: Doctor Who?

The apparent modular nature of this new look TARDIS is, perhaps, a bit of a ‘no brainer’ if the Vast Toffee has plans to really show us around the TARDIS.  Redressing and reworking sets is a very common tactic in all TV drama.  In many ways I wonder why that was never considered when they redesigned the TARDIS in 2004.  I wonder if they ever regretted that decision – I suspect the Christmas Invasion and its wardrobe scene might have made them think twice, if only for a second or two!

I look forward to seeing the new TARDIS interior through Amy’s eyes.  I look forward to hearing talk about architectural reconfiguration.  I look forward to the possibility of a new Zero Room (done with modern technology) and the option for the writers to do a modern take on The Edge of Destruction.  I look forward to the TARDIS being a vast and unknowable place again.  I look forward to 2010!

 


 

Crusade – Why I like it, in 5 minutes or less

Adam J PurcellAdam J Purcell   on August 1st, 2009

Crusade: Captain Matthew Gideon, Dureena Nafeel and GalenWelcome to the Staggering Stories Audio Musings.  I’m Adam Purcell, and I’ll be your host for this musing.

This is my third and final, at least for this set, musing about Herd Nurdles – things I like that I often think I’m completely alone on.

So I present to you my justification for liking the 1999 Babylon 5 spin-off series, Crusade…

Poor old Crusade, the Babylon 5 spin-off.

I’m a big fan of Babylon 5.  I’m never sure if Babylon 5 or Doctor Who is my favourite TV series – there’s nothing between them.  I’m not going to pretend that Crusade is up there with B5 or Doctor Who but I really enjoyed it nonetheless, what there was of it, that is.

It didn’t last long, TNT (the cable TV station behind it) meddled terribly to the point of killing it.  Probably worse even than Firefly got from Fox.

Basically for the first couple of seasons or so, it was to be about our heroic heroes venturing forth into the unknown to search for a cure to a nasty plague that was about to wipe out everyone on Earth.  Going in, we kind of of knew Earth would be safe – we’d seen the final B5 episode, Sleeping in Light, set some 10-15 after Crusade season one and Earth was fine then.

That’s not the point, though.  The B5 universe is littered with history.  Wars between the First Ones raging over billions of years, younger races rising all falling throughout that time.  It’s all about the crew of the Excalibur searching the dead worlds left behind by these conflicts and getting into bother.

No, it’s not even about that.  “Who do you server and who do you trust.”   There’s Galen, an apparently kindly Technomage who is manipulating Captain Gideon and his crew, for reasons we, sadly, never really discover.  You also have the wonderful ‘Apocalypse Box’ an ancient alien- something that Gideon ‘won’ in a card match.  It speaks to him, demands he keeps its existence secret.  It too is manipulating Gideon and it hates Galen (but Galen doesn’t know about it).  Clearly there was a showdown due to happen between Galen and the Apocalypse Box – who would Gideon serve or trust.  We never got to see it.
Like first season B5, there’s more going on here than meets the eye.  It’s fun to watch and speculate what is going on.

There’s some great characters – Gary Cole’s Gideon, David Allen Brooks’s amoral archaeologist Eilerson and I actually thought Peter Woodward’s Galen was great.  I did, really!

Cut down before its prime – it’s worth a reevaluation.  I believe it is still available on DVD, probably for a very reasonable price if you look around.

 


 

Crime Traveller – Why I like it, in 5 minutes or less

Adam J PurcellAdam J Purcell   on August 1st, 2009

Crime Traveller - Jeff Slade and Holly TurnerWelcome to the Staggering Stories Audio Musings.  I’m Adam Purcell, and I’ll be your host for this musing.

This is my second in a group of three musings about Herd Nurdles – things I like that make other people think I’m mad.

So I present to you my justification for liking the 1997 BBC1 Sci-Fi/detective series Crime Traveller…

My two favourite genres are Science Fiction and Detective series.  Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morse, Columbo!  How can I not like Star Cops and Crime Traveller?

Crime Traveller wasn’t the best series ever, I won’t pretend otherwise.  It was designed as a lightweight Saturday teatime programme but it was more than that.  What would a detective want more than a Time Machine?  They could travel back and witness the crime!  Okay, they’d probably prefer doughnuts but let’s pretend! Anyway, that’s the premise of the series.  It is set in 1997, when the series aired and is about a regular CID… department (and they carry guns – lets gloss over that, too).  Their science officer (yes, played by second Kochanski, Chloë Annett) owns a time machine her father built into their living room.  None of that matters, though.

The point is – there are two theories of time travel, as I’m sure you all know.  There’s branching timelines – when you go back your arrival creates a new timeline.  You can then happily murder your own grandfather and have fun like you won’t believe – it doesn’t matter because you’ve come from a different timeline where this didn’t happen, so no paradox.

Then there is the single timeline theory.  When you go back, you aren’t actually changing anything because you always went back – it is part of established history already.  It is impossible to kill your own grandfather when he is still a child, for example – fate will always conspire to stop you, no matter how hard you try – your attempts and failures are set in historical stone.  You don’t see many time travel stories like this.  Crime Traveller is one of the few.

They go back a few hours, no more than a day, to observe the crime.  The viewer is shown the crime taking place.  Every now and then you might catch a glimpse of someone watching the events or something bizarre might happen.  Then our heroes are called in.  They are stumped, jump in their time machine and now you see the crime again from their perspective – they were the ones we saw the first time around hiding in the bushes, or whatever.  Events unfold exactly as they did the first time but now they have the evidence and can arrest the evil doers.

It a great premise.  The execution wasn’t always as great but they played it pretty light and I think it’s highly underrated.  Don’t expect too much and you might be pleasantly surprised.  Again, sadly the DVDs are deleted but a determined search might bring the episodes up from somewhere.

 


 

Star Cops – Why I like it, in 5 minutes or less

Adam J PurcellAdam J Purcell   on August 1st, 2009

Star Cops - Nathan SpringWelcome to the resurrected Staggering Stories Audio Musings.  I’m Adam Purcell, and I’ll be your host for this musing.

This doesn’t replace the proper Staggering Stories Podcast feed but is instead a VERY irregular (in more ones than one!) outlet for individual members of the Staggering Stories team to vent and generally spew forth…

This is the first of a group of three musings (actually recycled MP3 comments…) about Herd Nurdles.  Herd Nurdles, do I hear you ask?  Probably not.  It’s a term introduced by the fabulous people over at the Box Room podcast, used to represent Science Fiction that one person really likes but few others do.  It’s the opposite of Nerd Hurdles… seek out Box Room Podcast 29 and onwards if you want to know more.

Without further ado, here’s my justification for liking the 1987 BBC 2 Sci-Fi/detective series Star Cops – my first Herd Nurdle.

You don’t know Star Cops?  Where were you in the late 80s?!  BBC 2, 1987.  A science fiction crime drama, devised and mainly written by none other than Chris Boucher, of Doctor Who and Blake’s 7.

Okay, the production values… leave a little to be desired.  Let’s not even talk about the zero-G acting…  There’s some great model work, though… By I’m drifting.

It’s basically Hard SF – It’s set in 2027 and there’s no magic tech, it’s all plausible.  There’s no anti-gravity, no faster than light travel, no transporters and NO aliens.  It’s real people policing a realistic Earth orbital stations and lunar colony universe.

There’s some really great writing, some fantastic dialogue, clever ideas about the sort of crime that near future environment might encourage.  Some great performances too, especially, for my money, by David Calder and Trevor Cooper.

It’s not for everybody – a lot of people probably won’t even get past the awful theme tune.

Star Cops is something people seem to either love or hate.  It’s in my top 4 favourite TV series, along with Doctor Who, Babylon 5 and Firefly.  Give it a go – you might just love it!  You probably won’t, most people hate it but you never know… Sadly the DVDs are long since deleted but no doubt it is available via alternative means..!
I can’t defend that cast photo on Wikipedia, though.  I think they must have just eaten from the BBC canteen or, perhaps, just been fired…

Star Cops Cast (looking less than interested!)