Frazer Hines is one of the UK’s most charismatic stars of stage and screen. From his early days as a child actor in films such as X The Unknown, and appearances in Emergency Ward 10 and Coronation Street, Frazer became a household name playing the time-travelling Scot, Jamie McCrimmon, alongside Patrick Troughton in the BBC’s cult series Doctor Who. In 1972 he was cast as Joe Sugden in the fledgeling soap opera Emmerdale Farm, and became the housewife’s favourite farmer for over two decades. In this compelling and funny book, Frazer reveals his own thoughts and feelings when faced with stardom at an early age, the pressure of being an early ‘media celebrity’, his love of horses and cricket, and what it was actually like to date, marry and divorce some of the most eligible and beautiful women to have crossed stage and screen in the last 40 years.
Green Bushes (Passacaille sur un veil air populaire anglais) – Hill Song n° 2 – The Merry King – Eastern Intermezzo …. / BBC Philharmonic – Richard Hickox, directionChandos’ Grainger Edition brings yet another cornucopia of delights delivered with indefatigable dedication and twinkling charisma by Richard Hickox and the BBC Philharmonic. The formula is the same as on this team’s first and second volumes of Grainger’s orchestral music, with tried-and-trusted nuggets such as Green Bushes and Colonial Song (both given here in particularly lavish orchestrations from 1905-06 and 1919 respectively) sitting cheek by jowl alongside genuine rarities like The Merry King (based on a folk-tune from West Sussex and boasting a seductively ornate piano contribution) and the amazingly colourful English Dance No.1 (a riot of a piece which prompted Gabriel Fauré to exclaim: “It’s as if the total population were a-dancing!”). Perhaps the most startlingly original items here were originally conceived for wind band, namely the bracingly tangy Hill Song No.2 and that ambitious, extraordinarily entitled essay The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart (which also draws on material from the first movement of Grainger’s glorious Danish Folk Song Suite). Chandos’ thrillingly realistic sonics fairly leap from the loudspeakers. All told, a huge tonic and not to be missed. —Andrew Achenbach
It was always going to be a risk for the BBC to revamp Doctor Who–few television programmes inspire as much rabid and cultish adoration. With the 2005 series, however, the BBC have really outdone themselves. Their updated Doctor Who is a revelation: a cult science fiction series that has real mass appeal, and works for both children and their parents. Christopher Eccleston is an inspired and charismatic Doctor–he leaps around the sets with an unrestrained glee, like he’s a child running amok in a toy shop. His enthusiasm in downright infectious. His sidekick Rose (Billie Piper) adds a real human touch, particularly as she gradually and believably matures from in-over-her-head city kid to tough-minded interplanetary hero. Much of the credit must go to writer Russell Davies, who has a much-practiced knack for finding popular appeal without dumbing-down his ideas, and who appears to have let his imagination run riot. Even the special effects, whilst not of a big-budget cinematic quality, still manage to strike a balance between cheesiness and realism. Thrilling, funny and thoroughly entertaining, this Doctor Who is a hero for the new millennium. –Robert Burrow
A Doctor Who story from the Tom Baker era, Destiny of the Daleks pits the Time Lord against his deadliest enemies once more in an enjoyable adventure, although truthfully it’s far from the finest hour of all concerned.
Originally broadcast at the end of the 1970s, Destiny of the Daleks is notable for introducing a regenerated Romana, but across its four episodes we also find the seemingly-dead Davros with a little more life in him than the Doctor expected. And there’s also the small matter of the Daleks being locked in the midst of a long-running war, with seemingly no way to break the stalemate. In short, plenty for the Doctor to get his teeth into.
Yet while Destiny of the Daleks has plenty of tasty ingredients, you can’t help but share a little disappointment at the way some elements play out. Sure, there’s a lot still to enjoy, but the plot sometimes struggles to justify the running time, and the lack of budget is more obvious than is usual in classic Doctor Who.
But it’s to the credit of Destiny of the Daleks that it rides out its problems and still delivers an enjoyable story. It may not be a favourite of the dedicated fans of the programme, but there’s still plenty here for Doctor Who fans young and old. And you can’t beat the Daleks…! —Jon Foster