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      Doctor Who — doctor who guide

      Lovarzi's Series 9 Guide: The Woman Who Lived

      Transmission: 24.10.2015.

      Writer: Catherine Tregenna.

      Director: Ed Bazalgette.

      Guest Starring: Maisie Williams; Rufus Hound; Gareth Berliner; Elisabeth Hopper; Struan Rodger; John Voce; Ariyon Bakare; and Karen Seacombe.

      It's 1651, Hounslow, and the Doctor is using his curioscanner to track down an alien artefact – when he accidentally interrupts a highway robbery. This is the notorious highwayman, The Knightmare, and his sidekick, and they form an uneasy alliance. But both sides have secrets.

      The Knightmare, for instance, hasn't mentioned the lion-esque fire-breathing alien...

      If you've seen The Girl Who Died, you'll know exactly who the title of this episode refers to: Maisie Williams is back as Ashildr, having had the responsibility of immortality thrust upon her by the Doctor. Or maybe she's learnt about recklessness, because here, she's not the trustworthy storyteller we saw defending the Viking village last week.

      "Maisie's fantastic," writer, Catherine Tregenna told Doctor Who Magazine. "What she has to encompass, in this case of this particular character, is huge and I think it requires a lot of layers. She's got to be a match for the Doctor and outwit him... It's an incredibly layered and nuanced performance and I'm really impressed."

      This is Tregenna's first script for Doctor Who¸ but fans will recognise her name from Torchwood of which she wrote four episodes, Captain Jack Harkness, Meat, Adam, and the fan-favourite Out of Time. Since then, she's been working on shows including Law & Order: UK, Lewis, and DCI Banks. Though she particularly loved last year's Listen, penned by showrunner Steven Moffat, this script is more akin to Robot of Sherwood – at least in the way the Doctor deals with the people around him.

      We'll obviously explore Ashildr further, but producer, Brian Minchin says "comedian, Rufus Hound [steals] every scene." Hound, who appeared on 2013's The Next Doctor Live when Peter Capaldi was announced as the Time Lord, plays highwayman, Sam Swift, and he says he's pretty keen to return... as the Doctor's companion!

      "What he represents is a kind of 'seize the day' attitude," Tregenna explains. "Bless him, he's got most of my silly jokes."

      Ed Bazalgette returns for directing duties, while another familiar face also returns. Sort of. You might recognise his voice but he played another face: the Face of Boe. Struan Rodger was the (mostly telepathic) voice of the giant head that the Ninth Doctor and Rose first met in The End of the World (2005), but who returned for New Earth (2006) and 2007's Gridlock. This time, we'll actually get to see what he looks like!

      This episode mainly focuses on the Doctor and Ashildr, exploring the consequences of the latter's seeming-immortality, so it's a somewhat companion-lite story. But don't worry: Jenna Coleman will be back for the following week's The Zygon Invasion...

      The Woman Who Lived airs on 24th October on BBCOne at 8:20pm. Keep your eyes peeled for our review over the next few days.

      Lovarzi's Series 9 Guide: The Girl Who Died

      Transmission: 17.10.2015.

      Writers: Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat.

      Director: Ed Bazalgette.

      Guest Starring: Maisie Williams; David Schofield; Simon Lipkin; Ian Conningham; Tom Stourton; Alastair Parker; Murray McArthur; and Barnaby Kay.

      Captured by Vikings, the Doctor and Clara Oswald have just 24 hours to train the villagers –farmers, fishermen, and shepherds – into a fighting force. Because one of the villagers, Ashildr has declared war on the galaxy's deadliest mercenaries, the Mire.

      "Now, I'm not going to lie to you," the Doctor says. "We are facing a force with vastly superior weaponry, training, armour, posture, and personal hygiene."

      But the Mire bring the Vikings' God, Odin, with them... and the Vikings don't take too kindly to having their All-Father questioned by the Doctor.

      Linked with next week's The Woman Who Lived, this isn't your typical two-part adventure. They have different writers, different enemies, and a mostly different cast – but one thing they do have in common is Maisie Williams. Casting of the Game of Thrones star has caused quite a media storm with everyone asking how she's connected to the Time Lord. Could she be Susan, the Doctor's Grand-daughter? Or a splinter of Clara? Or what about Romana, a much-loved former companion?

      Actually, she's playing Ashildr, a spirited young villager who wants to defend her home from the would-be alien usurpers. The Doctor, however, recognises her somehow...

      "It’s so refreshing to have this futuristic element linked into [the Viking setting] too; that’s what has kept me going really, not just beards and dragons," Maisie says."There’s a whole new element that’s fed in to the sides. It just looks so great with all of us in our Viking outfits, Jenna in her space suit and the Doctor in his cool coat with his crazy sunglasses. It makes for a really cool and interesting dynamic on screen."

      Jamie Mathieson returns to Doctor Who, having written last year's stand-out episodes, Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline, so we've plenty to be excited about. "It's The Magnificent Seven," he told Doctor Who Magazine. "Structurally, I realised that fairly early on. Good guys trying to train up weak villagers to fight powerful bad guys, with the clock ticking down."

      Described by many as a 'romp', somewhat in the same fashion as Robot of Sherwood (2010), The Girl Who Died is directed by Ed Bazalgette, who is perhaps best-known for the stunning visuals from the hit BBCOne series, Poldark.

      And to top it all off, co-writer and showrunner, Steven Moffat teases that we might just find out where the Doctor got his face from. Could this be a return visit to Pompeii?

      The Girl Who Died airs on 17th October on BBCOne at 8:20pm. Keep your eyes peeled for our review over the next few days.

      Preview: Before the Flood

      This weekend, the Doctor comes face-to-face with the terrifying Fisher King..

      Anyone else getting a Curse of Fenric (1989) vibe?

      In last Saturday's Under the Lake, the Doctor and Clara were up against mysterious ghosts chanting four words over and over again under their breath. Now, separated from his companion, the Doctor has gone back in time to see if he can find out more about the major threat on this underwater base.

      On a remote Army outpost, a fearsome alien warlord – the Fisher King – sets in motion a twisted plan to ensure his own survival. The ripples will be felt around the universe. Is this chain of events inevitable? And can the Doctor do the unthinkable?

      Here's a brief clip to whet your appetite, with Peter Capaldi's incanration of the Time Lord alongside O'Donnell (Morven Christie) and Bennett (Arsher Ali).


      In our review, we called Under the Lake "a triumph", and added:

      "Please excuse such untempered enthusiasm for Under the Lake, but it's already become my favourite Twelfth Doctor story so far. Considering it's got competition from Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline (2014), that's a great feat."

      Before the Flood airs on Saturday 10th October 2015 on BBCOne, at 8:25pm and concluding at 9:10pm.

      Lovarzi's Series 9 Guide: Under the Lake/ Before the Flood

      Transmission: 03.10.2015/ 10.10.2015.

      Writer: Toby Whithouse.

      Director: Daniel O'Hara.

      Guest Starring: Morven Christie; Colin McFarlane; Sophie Stone; Arsher Ali; Peter Serafinowicz; Zaqi Ismail; Steven Robertson; and Paul Kaye.

      It's 2119 and a mining crew discovers a spaceship and hauls it aboard their underwater base. When the Doctor and Clara arrive, the base is plagued by hollow-eyed ghosts – but as the Doctor says, "They're not ghosts; we're not nine years old." So what really are they? What are their intentions? And is it possible to meet you own ghost?

      The time-travellers have a several more questions: "What’s death like? Does it hurt? Do you still get hungry? Do you miss being alive?"

      Teased as having elements of The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit (2006), 42 (2007), and 2009's The Waters of Mars, the action then moves a few hundred years into the past, where, on a remote army outpost, the Doctor must stop the seemingly-inevitable as an alien warlord, the Fisher King, tries to ensure its own future.

      This is the first base-under-siege story for a while, but there's a timey-wimey twist, while writer, Toby Whithouse told Doctor Who Magazine: "Death is the one thing which defines every single species... And what the Doctor finds so fascinating about [the creatures in this two-part tale] is they seem to have overcome this one limitation that every single lifeform has. Every sane person would regard that as terrifying, but to him, it's fascinating."

      It's a welcome return for Whithouse, who has worked on Doctor Who since 2006 when his debut episode, School Reunion, reintroduced Sarah Jane Smith and K9. His last episodes was 2012's A Town Called Mercy, but it's actually a race created for The God Complex (2011) that briefly gets revisited in this two-part tale: Paul Kaye (Ripper Street; Game of Thrones) plays Prentis, a native of Tivoli (aka the most invaded planet in the galaxy!

      Whithouse is reunited with Daniel O'Hara, whose worked on two previous franchises created by the writer: Being Human and last year's The Game. This is O'Hara's first gig on Doctor Who, but he's also directed four 2012 episodes of Wizards vs. Aliens, the family series created by former Who showrunner, Russell T Davies, and Into the Dalek writer, Phil Ford.

      The Fisher King is voiced by Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead) – his scream provided by Skipknot's CoreyTaylor – but the alien itself is from Arthurian legend. He's the last in a long line to protect the Holy Grail, a relic supposedly with special powers: it has the ability to give eternal youth...

      Ghosts. An underwater base-under-siege. Questions about immortality. Time travel. This is Classic Doctor Who at its finest...

      Under the Lake airs tonight on BBCOne at 8:25pm.

      Preview: The Witch's Familiar

      Doctor Who Series 9 continues this weekend with The Witch's Familiar - and sees the Doctor surrounded by his deadliest enemies, the Daleks, and faced with a tough decision that could change the whole of time and space.

      Trapped and alone in a terrifying Dalek city, the Doctor is at the heart of an evil Empire: no sonic, no TARDIS, nobody to help. With his greatest temptation before him, can the Doctor resist? And will there be mercy?

      The BBC has released this clip of the forthcoming episode, with Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor lashing out at Davros (Julian Bleach).

      In our review of The Magician's Apprentice, we particularly praised Bleach:

      "It's been seven years since he last played Davros (in 2008's Journey's End), but he slips back into the role effortlessly. His dialogue with the Doctor is naturally electric, and the two bounce off one another perfectly. He immediately cuts down the Doctor's assertion that the Daleks should never have been created with a simple line, accusing him of being a broken record: 'This is the argument we've had since we met.'"

      The Witch's Familiar airs on Saturday 26th September, on BBCOne, at 7:45pm.