Wednesday 30 October 2013

Five times Fear = time to shit your pants

Go on throw an author a bone...

Spend a few pennies and get a great Halloween read.

Available Now

Monday 28 October 2013

Fifty Years in Time and Space 8 - The Name of the Doctor

This was the final episode of Matt Smith's final full season - written by show runner Steven Moffat it is actually a prequel to the forthcoming 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor.

This could have been a baffling storyline to follow, but thanks to some excellent writing this darkest of dark stories makes perfect sense, and is compelling viewing. Doctor Who at its best then.

The story takes us to Trenzalore which is apparently the Doctor's tomb and where the episode teases that we are likely to learn the Doctor's name. This was a risky move for Moffat since with this one story and the forthcoming special he seems to be rewriting everything we thought we knew about the Doctor.

In this one episode Moffat rewrites the entire history of the show while remaining incredibly faithful to the basis of Doctor Who/ He also gives us John Hurt as another of the Doctor's incarnations, though the one who did something that makes him unfit the carry the name of the Doctor. It might all sound confusing but it works so well in the context of the episode.

It was nice to see the previous Doctors - old footage tied in seamlessly with the new to give the illusion that Clara, the Doctor's new companion, actually being the only companion to have ever interacted with all of the Doctors

Of course we know where all this is leading and the cat is now out of the bag that this story will ultimately lead to Matt Smith's regeneration as he leaves the role behind.

Doctor Who will return in The Day of the Doctor and after this episode I can't wait to see how this all resolves itself.

Fifty Years in Time and Space 7: Doctor Who Artist profile

Sci-Fi  shows often recycle stories and ideas from each other, so when BBC Audio asked award winning artist, Tony Masero for a cover for a number of their new releases it is fitting that Tony used a few of his old Star Trek images and recycled them to become the stunning Doctor Who art posted here.

Over the years Tony's done a lot of work for the BBC and drawn covers for Doctor Who many times - find  examples at his own website HERE. In regards to Doctor Who fiction Tony's drawn many cover for not only the Target covers of old but also the ground breaking New Adventures series.

" Mainly, of the the ten paperback covers I did for WH Allen under the Target Books imprint most were of the original William Hartnell Doctor (+ one of Jon Pertwee) and for the later Virgin New Adventures it was Sylvester McCoy, the rest of them were mainly made up of the various monsters and aliens rather than using a Doctor on the front. There were a couple of hardback coffee table Dr. Who collection specials I also did in between for WH Allen." Tony Masero

For the cover art of the original Doctor Who books Tony found himself working from a basic sketch supplied by the book publishers.

"For the original book covers it was a pencil rough made up using the rather sad reference that the publisher supplied.The BBC Audio disks are using the old cover art so in that instance they just transferred the artwork with a little use of Photoshop as they appeared originally. The 'Vervoid' one was an exception where I created new artwork for this. As I've sold off most of the original artwork (or its vanished along the way) it's sometimes hard to find original art but the guy at the BBC art studio does magic with the cover art and I presume he uses old printed covers and tarts them up a bit to fit the different format."

So given Tony's long association with Doctor Who I wondered if he had a favourite amongst all the incarnations of the time lord?

" I'm old school (70 this November) so I remember when it all started and avidly watched the show from the first. But then came girls, leading to marriage, kids and an Illustration career so now not at all. I liked the original format of the TV show often having some kind of educational or historical input. As one of a generation who grew up devoted to the brilliant Eagle comic where there was always something of interest other than pure fantasy the original black and white series was somewhat in that vein."

Tony's currently a jobbing artist- he provided the covers for my Vincent Stark books as well as creating the Granny Smith silhouette image that graces my books. Anyone wanting an original cover drawn for their eBooks can find Tony's contact details in the Archive's sidebar or via his own website HERE

Sunday 27 October 2013

Mega Promotion Thingie

Granny Smith will be back this December

And for the the next thirty days the previous two Granny Smith novels are available from Amazon for 99cents or 77 of our coppery British pennies.

Also my novel, The Welsh Ripper Killings is also part of this promotion.

Granny Smith - A nice easy read for lazy Sunday afternoons curled up on the sofa in front of a roaring fire with a nice glass or two of wine and chocolates, brilliant . Amazon Review

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 21 Oct - 27 Oct 2013 


Unique Visits1721351491741361471491,062152
First Time Visits157127136156131142137986141
Returning Visits158131855127611

Fifty Years in Time and Space 6 - The Fifty best Doctor Who stories

The on-line arm of the Telegraph Newspaper, that journal so beloved of the poor-hating Tories, this week ran an article that will be of interest to Doctor Who fans, and not only Tory Doctor Who fans.

The article is split into two parts with the first counting down from 50 (The Doctor's Wife) to 41 (The Horror of Fang Rock).

40-1 will appear on the Telegraphs website next weekend.

Find the article HERE

Back in 2008, The Telegraph ran an article of what it considered the ten best Doctor Who stories and that listing is reproduced below. It will be interesting to see how the top ten differs once the newspaper publishes its full 50 best episode list.

Blink (David Tennant, 2007)
Writer (and soon to be executive producer) Steven Moffatt has consistently come up with the most scarily memorable stories of the reborn series, and here he gives us chilling statues that move and menace when you don’t look at them. Unusually the Doctor is somewhat on the periphery here, but this only adds to the threat that central character Sally Sparrow (Carey Mulligan) is faced with. We've never been able to look at statues the same way since.
The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve (William Hartnell, 1966)
A sober tale of the lead-up to a massacre of Huguenots in France in 1572 is not the most obvious historical event to be mined by the programme, but it proves to be gripping fare, and it pulls no punches in bringing the horrors of religious persecution to life. This is the first time we get a double for the Doctor, in the shape of the fanatical Catholic Abbot of Amboise (also played by Hartnell), and with the Doctor himself absent for much of the story, companion Steven (Peter Purves) is effectively left adrift in history and has to cope as best he can. A perfect example of the educational remit of the original series being fulfilled. Tragically only the soundtrack survives, because the BBC wiped the tape.
Inferno (Jon Pertwee, 1970)
The original series is at its most mature in this seven-part fable about the powers that could be unleashed if we start to mess with our planet. The use of a parallel universe heightens the drama, as the Doctor actually witnesses the destruction of Earth while on a parallel world where his friends are all fascistic versions of themselves. It's a fine example of the work of one of the series’ great directors, Douglas Camfield, and the pace never lets up.
Human Nature/Family of Blood (David Tennant, 2007)
A Paul Cornell tale adapted from his 1995 Doctor Who novel that sees the Doctor transformed into the human school-teacher John Smith on the eve of the First World War. David Tennant and Jessica Hynes superbly delineate the relationship between the humanised Doctor and nurse Joan Redfern and the Doctor is forced to confront the death and destruction that seem to follow in his wake.
The Curse of Fenric (Sylvester McCoy, 1989)
A fantastic tale from the final series of the classic run. A complex tale of awakening ancient evil, faith (or lack of it), sexuality and betrayal, with companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) really being put through the emotional wringer by the Doctor and coming of age as a result. Even Nicholas Parsons as a vicar doesn't let the side down. Remarkably, we get a scene spoken entirely in Russian (with subtitles). Shame no one seemed to be watching the show at the time.
City of Death (Tom Baker, 1979)
A plot about the theft of the Mona Lisa; a script co-written by Douglas Adams; Tom Baker in fine form; a suave Julian Glover showing why he’d be later cast as villains in the Star Wars, James Bond and Indiana Jones franchises; cameos from John Cleese and Eleanor Bron… All of these things confidently combine to make the single most entertaining story from the original run for non-fans to watch. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the final episode of this four-part story holds the record for the highest viewing figures of any episode in the series' history at 16.1 million.
The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (Christopher Eccleston, 2005)
Arguably the most memorable story of the series since its return. Second World War London is brilliantly brought to life as a backdrop, Captain Jack (John Barrowman) enters the scene and enjoys some great interplay with the Doctor, Rose (Billie Piper) flies across London hanging to a barrage balloon during an air raid, Richard Wilson metamorphoses into a man with a gas mask for a face - and who would have thought that the question "Are you my mummy?" could prove so frightening? The titular empty child is one of the most chilling figures the series has produced, and just for once we have a happy ending.
Genesis of the Daleks (Tom Baker, 1975)
The Time Lords send the Doctor to Skaro's home planet to ensure that the Daleks will never be created. It's the first appearance of Davros, who, like the Daleks, was such an iconic design that the current team haven’t felt the need to rethink his design in the new series, and Michael Wisher gives an extraordinary performance in the role. Some of the dialogue between the Doctor and Davros is among the best the series has ever had. The Daleks, created by scriptwriter Terry Nation, were inspired by the Nazis, and this influence is laid bare in the militaristic Kaleds (the Daleks' forebears). The production pulls no punches when it comes to the horror of war, naturally upsetting Mary Whitehouse in the process.
The Caves of Androzani (Peter Davison, 1984)
Peter Davison bows out of the role with easily the best regeneration tale. There is something of a Jacobean revenge tragedy in this grim story of corporate greed, conflict and betrayal, and the Phantom of the Opera motif rears its head in the figure of Sharaz Jek (Christopher Gable), the first of many villains to lust after the nubile Peri (Nicola Bryant). John Normington’s asides as Trau Morgus add to the character's evil machinations and Graeme Harper's direction lifts the story to new levels. No wonder he was asked to return to the new series (he's the only director to have that honour). There’s huge body count in this episode as every single male character dies, leaving only two women survivors. Davison gives the performance of his life.
The Talons of Weng-Chiang (Tom Baker, 1977)
A superb pastiche of the Sherlock Holmes and Fu Manchu novels with a bit of the Phantom of the Opera thrown in for a good measure - and it’s all beautifully scripted by the best Doctor Who writer of them all, Robert Holmes. Holmes (who also wrote Caves of Androzani, above) always seemed to have a knack of creating great double acts, and in the impresario Henry Gordon Jago (Christopher Benjamin) and pathologist Professor Lightfoot (Trevor Baxter) he comes up with his best - two memorable allies for the Doctor who were nearly given a show of their own as a result. Also memorable is the psychopathic miniature villain Mr Sin (Deep Roy). No cliché of Victorian London (fog, hansom cabs, Chinese laundrymen, Music Hall and opium dens just for starters) is left unmined, making this marvellous six-parter seep atmosphere. The top-notch characterisation, direction and performances, with Tom Baker at the top of his game, make this the perfect Doctor Who story.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Book News: AudioGO suspends business

In yet another blow for the book industry we have learned that AudioGO have suspended business.

"I can confirm that AudioGO has temporarily suspended business operations whilst we seek an investment or a sale of the business."  

AudioGO's Rachel Josephson told the Bookseller Magazine and added: 

"There is a considerable amount of interest in AudioGO and we are hopeful of achieving a swift resolution. Protecting and respecting the rights of everyone that we work with is uppermost in our considerations and we are grateful for the fantastic support we have received from our colleagues throughout the industry."

Once again Amazon are being blamed with their own Audible service making huge dents into the audiobook industry. It will be interesting to see if conventional publishing will step into snap up AudioGO in order to challenge Amazon.

Roseanna S Jowall and Wahloo - The Martin Beck Killings book 1

I'd been meaning to get around to trying out the series of Swedish crime thrillers known under the collective title of The Martin Beck killings for some time now. I keep reading about the series.

The authors are often called the godparents of Scandinavian crime.

"They changed the genre. Whoever is writing crime ficton after these novels is inspired by them." Henning Mankell.

Written by husband and wife writing team, S Jowall and Wahloo there series was originally conceived as being ten novels and Roseanna is the first in the series. The book was originally published in 1965 and the series is huge in Sweden, with all of the books having been filmed in one form or another. One novel, The Laughing Policeman was filmed with Walter Matthau though the setting was changed to San Francisco and the characters were given different names.

Recently the series was covered as part of Radio Four's excellent Foreign Bodies season of documentaries that looked at crime fiction across Europe, and after listening to this program I found myself even more eager to try the series.  Radio Four also dramatised all ten stories and these are available on CD and like, all BBC Radio drama, are well worth getting hold of.

The author's said that they were inspired my Ed McBain and after reading Roseanna I can see that - the style of writing is similar- short, punchy matter of fact paragraphs that propel the story forward, banter between the cops which is often nonsensical,  and not only do we see the investigation  through the eyes of Martin Beck but also from the POV of other members of the investigating team. All of this echoes the style of McBain's 87th Precinct series.

The way the authors wrote the books was that they would outline an incredibly detailed synopsis and then working from it they would write alternative chapters. So successful were they on their home turf that the world's current bestselling crime author, Jo Nesbo has listed the series as a major influence on his own work.

Mr and Mrs - the writing team
Reading Roseanna I was aware that the authors were fervent Socialists and maybe because of this I detected a lot of left wing ideas in the work. The killer is not presented as purely evil but rather as a victim of a social system that is failing, and the book ends with Martin Beck, a man who has spent months trying to trip him up, feeling sympathy for him. And there is also some suggestion that the victim through her careless and provocative actions ultimately brought her fate upon herself. Of course the book doesn't go all out with this idea but there is the feeling that her actions were a contributing factor in her murder.

The characters are a particular strength of the book and Martin Beck comes across as fully formed and very real - in this first book he is trapped in a failing marriage and his work offers him some kind of escape from the mundane existence he lives outside of the police force. Though mundane could also sum up his work life and for a large chunk of the novel the investigation goes nowhere, for some time  the police don't even know the identity of the dead woman and even when they discover her identity the case unravels at a snail pace which adds considerably to the realistic, almost documentary feel of the narrative. There's no unbelievable detective work here but rather a slow, plodding, methodological progress that ultimately leads the police to their man.

So did I enjoy the book? Well the fact that immediately after finishing the book, I went up the Amazon and downloaded the second book in the series to my Kindle should answer that question. I want to learn more of this Martin Beck and the world he inhabits, and I intend to read the entire series.

Also available.

Radio Four's dramatisation of the novel which was first broadcast in October 2012 stars Steven Mackintosh as Beck and Neil Pearson as Kolberg. I like the way the drama is played out with the twin narrators (supposedly the authors) setting the scenes. This brings the almost documentary feel of the novel to vivid life.

The play lasts for 1hr and 15 mins and is compelling listening.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Fifty Years in Time and Space 5 - Matt Smith

I never really dug Matt Smith as Doctor Who and originally only watched his first episode, and half of his second episode, before giving up on the series. It wasn't really Smith's fault, actually I thought his début performance was pitch perfect but rather my own problem. You see, I grew up with the series, Jon Pertwee was the first Doc I ever saw, and to my mind the Doctor was always an old geezer. Even Peter Davidson, a youthful 29 when he took over the role, seemed like an old geezer to me because I was so much younger, but when Smith took over the role I had entered my Forties  and it was absurd watching such a young dude running around the TARDIS and claiming to be hundreds of years old. When the Daleks attacked I half expected the Doctor to start crying for his mother. If the sonic screwdriver malfunctioned I feared he would throw a tantrum and pull out his Gameboy.

I've not really watched the show since Smith took over although I did recently see his two part story The Hungery Earth and Cold Blood because it was doubled on a DVD set with Jon Pertwee's seven part adventure, The Silurians. And you know what I bloody well enjoyed it. Though Smith still seemed incredibly young, like a kiddies version of the character. I've often felt that like the movie Young Sherlock Holmes or the Young Bond books that Smith's tenure should be prefixed Young Doctor Who. I have a suspicion that Smith's casting was forced on show runner Steven Moffat by the BBC, since prior to the casting the producer claimed he was going to cast an older actor.

Still I guess my current problem with the show is my own prejudice because from what I've seen of Matt Smith he is really incredible in the role, but the show does seem to be more lightweight than it used to be.

 I hope that when Peter Capaldi steps into the role we will see a return to the more darker storytelling, which is Moffat's strength. After all I feel that the best episodes of Russel T Davies' tenure where the ones penned by Stephen Moffat and these were always the darker, serious edged stories.

Matt Smith then has proved that he had the mettle for the role, and his era has been successful even if it did alienate many of the more mature viewers, but that, as I've said, is not his fault and I do feel that Smith's time in the role will be fondly remembered.

Doctor's not just for old dudes!

Fifty Years in Time and Space 4 - The Movie

Because this TV movie didn't lead to the proposed new TV series it is often seen as a failure, but that wasn't really the case and the UK viewing figures (9.1 million) were strong. It is only in the North American market that the film failed but then Doctor Who wasn't as popular stateside as it is these days. And also Paul McGann made an excellent Doctor and it is a pity he didn't get a chance to continue in the role - although let's take a little tangent here.  McGann didn't play the role again for TV, the pilot was never picked up, he did play the character, still does,  for a series of successful audio plays from the Big Finish company. And we'll be talking about Big Finish in a later post in our Fifty Years in Time and Space series.

OK firstly what is wrong with the TV movie. Well in trying to appeal to American viewers it seems to jettison the very thing that made it the phenomenon in the first place. It's seems to lose it's quintessential Britishness and it far too fast paced. Ironic given that the successful current day series moves at five hundred trillion and a half miles an hour. The San Francisco setting also works against the movie and it really doesn't feel like Doctor Who but rather the kind of glossy sci-fi adventure that were ten a penny during the period - I remember watching it back in 1996 and thinking it was more X-Files than Doctor Who. The plot is also confusing and what the fuck is that snakey thingie the master has become after being executed by the Daleks? The Master also is all wrong in this movie and comes across as far too much of a panto villain.

Now what it does right - the TARDIS bridge is excellently re-imagined, and it was great to see Sylvester McCoy (the then current Doctor) turn up for the regeneration scene. Paul McGann also makes an excellent Doctor even if he is playing with a script that doesn't quite gell. Another nice point was the reveal that the Doctor was half human.

It is a pity that the series didn't continue  - it would have been interesting to see how  McGann would have developed in the role.

The movie is available on DVD from the BBC with the usual wealth of special features, which as always make it an essential purchase for any serious Doctor Who fan. For many years the  DVD was not available in the US as there was a rights issue which prevented it being released. This is no longer the case and the US have a similarly packed two disc set available.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Fifty Years in Time and Space 3: The Tenth Planet DVD review

The Tenth Planet was the last story to feature William Hartnell and the first to use the concept of regeneration in order to replace the lead actor. Unfortunately episode four is one of the missing episodes, although the BBC do have the actual regeneration scene intact in their archives. The way the BBC have gotten around this for this DVD issue is to present remastered versions of the first three episodes, and to recreate the fourth episode, using the audio from the actual episode, by animating the action. They've done this for several other stories with missing episodes and this time the animation is superb and the Cybermen actually come across much better in the animated episode than they do in the actual surviving episodes.

Unfortunately this is not the send off that William Hartnell deserved - he is barely present in the story. He spends most of the first two episodes sitting around and doing nothing other than uttering the odd line and he is not even present in the third episode - apparently Hartnell and producer, Innes Lloyd had clashed several times and the producer decided to replace the lead actor, effectively sacking Hartnell. The actor phoned in sick and refused to come to work, likely thinking this would sabotage the show, but the production carried on without him.

'I didn't leave the show willingly,' Hartnell wrote in answer to a letter from fan, Ian K McLachlan.

Of course conventional wisdom is that Hartnell was forced to finish due to ill health and yet he went back into theatre work immediately afterwards.

OK the plot - set in the then far off world of 1986 the Cybermen attack the International Space Command in Geneva. The dastardly Cybermen have a plan to drain the power from Earth in order to save their own planet, Mondas, but of course they fail and their own planet boils away into space. A problem with the story is the Doctor's regeneration is hardly explained and happens too quickly at the climax but then of course the limitations in the way the story was show is likely down to the fact that Hartnell wouldn't play ball and by all accounts the shoot was a chore for all concerned.

Animated regeneration
Now whilst The Tenth Planet may not be Who at its very best, it is an essential DVD release. For one thing the animated episode is brilliant and worth purchase alone but the most interesting part is the wealth of extra features including several documentaries, as well as a frank commentary. There are also clips from Blue Peter and PDF files of historic Radio Times listings. Mind you all of the BBC's classic series DVD's are pretty much essential.

All These Years

Is there really a need for another Beatles book? I must have read at least a dozen books that claim to tell the full story and that includes the Beatles own telling, The Anthology, so I wouldn't have thought so. However if there is one Beatles book that deserves to be called definitive then it is this one. At 800 plus pages it goes into incredible detail and the author, Mark Lewisohn's research is astounding. And this is only the first part of a trilogy of books and covers the story from Beatles pre-history right up to the release of their first album, Please Please Me.

The book often borders on the obsessive in its quest to leave no detail unturned and Paul McCartney takes a few knocks - Stuart Sutcliffe claiming, in a letter written in Hamburg that the rest of the band hate him - also almost getting the shit kicked out of him when he goaded the usually mild mannered Stuart Sutcliffe one too many times. Beatles ex-drummer Pete Best is also revealed as a not very good drummer but that doesn't seem to be the real reason for his ejection from the group right when they were on the cusp of stardom. This seems more to do with his so called mean, moody and magnificent persona and the fact that he wasn't really a team player. That said it is painful reading when the book covers his sacking and the cowardly way the Beatles went about it. Though this is consistent with the way they ejected a former guitarist from the Quarreymen.

This story may have been told before but never have the formative years of the band been covered in so much detail and after reading the book you really do feel a little closer to the band. I've been a Beatle nut myself for a couple decades and felt I knew everything there was to know, but this book opened my eyes several times.

The book also turns what we know, or rather thought we knew, of John Lennon's father on its head. Previously he has been presented as a waster who abandoned both his wife and child. And whilst that may be true the book reveals a story much more complex than that, and that it was Julia, John's mother, who was actually the catalyst in their break up which resulted in John being raised by his Aunt Mimi. And, as expected, the book reveals that she certainly had her hands full with the young John Winston Lennon. Momentous character forming events such as John losing his mother and Paul losing his own are covered with great sensitivity and psychological insight.

There are no new interviews with Paul or Ringo but the author does go to every other source for information and the period of the band's first visit to Hamburg is covered in exquisite detail. I bought the book in both the physical form and the audio version - the audiobook lasts for forty plus hours and I managed to get through it in a week, and so engrossed did I become that I also started reading the physical book alongside the audio reading. This really is an excellent book and it is difficult to think that any other will ever top it.

The author claims that the next volume will follow in four to five years and I for one can't wait.

Monday 21 October 2013

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 14 Oct - 20 Oct 2013 


Unique Visits2601631741381181531421,148164
First Time Visits2371391641261131431371,059151
Returning Visits2324101251058913

Saturday 19 October 2013

Fifty Years in Time and Space 2: Regenerations

Brain Rimmer compiled this great video showing all of the regenerations of Doctor Who right up the current Doc - check out his You Tube page HERE for more Doctor Who related material.

Fifty Years in Time and Space 1: The lord of time

Back then the world was black and white but it was about to get a whole lot more colourful when one evening in November 1963 the BBC aired a new TV series entitled Doctor Who. The show largely created by Canadian Sidney Newman was intended to be educational and using the premise of an old man travelling around in a time machine it was intended to explore scientific ideas and great historical moments in a fun and entertaining way. Back then there were no time lords and no one in the production was thinking any further than the William Hartnell (the first Doctor) series. Indeed if anyone had suggested this show would still be running fifty years later with another actor, the eleventh in the title role then it is a safe bet that the men in the white coats would have been sent for.

Fifty years later though and the show is still going as strong as ever, even more so with the current Doctor Who often winning both industry and viewer awards. There are a hugely popular series of audio dramas released by Big Finish which continue the adventures of the old Doctors, there are hordes of paperback and hardcovers telling all new original adventures and of course there are the comic books, lunch boxes, toys and rather cool bed spreads.

So jump on board the Archive's TARDIS as we offer a series of posts leading up to the anniversary celebrations that will look at every era of the much loved TV series and cultural phenomenon.

Doctor Who continuity has never been exact; often it’s been nonsensical. There have been at least three explanations given for the destruction of Atlantis, several incomparable origin stories for the DALEKS and the lead character, the Doctor himself, has been presented so inconsistently over the years that anyone attempted to created a definitive continuity guide is doomed to failure. The show’s been running on and off for fifty years now, and not only on TV but in novels, comics and audio plays. So this series of articles celebrating FIFTY YEARS OF WHO is not intended to be any kind of definitive guide, if there is such a guide then I’m not the man to write it. However this series of articles should provide a good grounding to the world of the BBC show.

Next year a new actor will step into the role and I think this is the most exciting casting of the lead actor since Christopher Eccleston. Fifty five year old Peter Capaldi's casting as been met with universal praise and should see the series heading into far darker, much more interesting territory. And you know what...once again I'm excited by the prospect of new Doctor Who.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Cardiff appeal

CARDIFF AND SURROUNDING AREAS - Next year (2014) will see the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and author, Gary Dobbs is busy compiling information for a book entitled, Cardiff During the Great War which will be published byPen and Sword Books. Gary is asking for the help of anyone who may have any photographs or family stories of this period. All photographs and documents will, of course, be handled with great care and returned. If anyone has anything they would like to share then please contact Gary on 01443 300 156 or 07817 778301. Alternatively email


Disneyland won't know what's hit it when Granny Smith returns soon in THE WELSH CONNECTION

Still available the first two Granny Smith novels....get them on Amazon, Kobo, and all other good eRetailers.

"Pipe smoking, headbanging Granny Smith is a kindred spirit to this reader. While she has a few years on me, I too still love all things metal and, while I don't smoke, i once had a brief relationship with a pipe. Granny has a cat named Lemmy(mine was named Puss Cooper) and doesn't dress like a person of her years. Same here.

Writer Gary Dobbs has created a modern day cozy series that can stand alongside some of those series by British Isles authors that I devoured in my early years. He has a great mystery here and brings that style of cozy forward into the twenty-first century, touching on modern subjects that wouldn't have been tolerated back then, Hell, not even thought of back then." Four star review

"What a delightful whacky old broad granny Smith turned out to be!! A fast paced whodunit that keeps you interested! Recommended!!" Five star review

"Very interesting and a very fast and fun read. Was a surprise ending, I loved the way granny defends herself" Five Star Review

Tuesday 15 October 2013

The Porn Wars: Self publishing threatened by deluge of Porn books

Self publishing to eBook is still in its infancy but has seen remarkable growth in the last few years and empowered many authors and even generated big money, with many authors finding themselves able to make a more than comfortable living. The mega selling Fifty Shades series originally started off as self published works, and writers like Amanda Hocking, John Locke and Joe Konrath have become big names. Digital self publishing's made the book market far more interesting but now the industry are facing a threat after W H Smith and Kobo have found themselves having to temporarily close their eBooks site because of a large number of porn eBooks were found to be on sale - and not just straightforward porn but books featuring incest, bestiality and a thousand and one other perversions. Of course the greater majority of books do not come under the banner, but until eBook websites find a screening process that works it means that all books are shut out.

WHSmith said the "explosion" of self publishing was having an impact on many retailers.Self publishing was generally positive in that it gave new authors the opportunity to get their content published.However we are disgusted by these particular titles, find this unacceptable and we in no way whatsoever condone them. It is our policy not to feature titles like those highlighted and we have processes in place to screen them out."

Amazon, by far the biggest seller of self published eBooks have also pulled abuse themed eBooks from their digital shelves. And Barnes and Noble have also been dragged into the row after the BBC News revealed several unsavoury titles for sale on their site.

Amazon are of course no stranger to the problem and back in 2010 had to withdraw Phillip R Greaves's self-published ebook, The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure.
However the problem is that if Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and others don't get their houses in order then the long threatened government legislation of the digital book industry may come to pass...and none of us want that. Censoring books is not something that sits easily in a democracy but titles that promote rape and paedophilia clearly have no place and should indeed be withdrawn from sale.

Granny Smith

Monday 14 October 2013

Plenty of life in The Walking Dead

Despite facing higher-rated sports competition this year from both football and postseason baseball, “Walking Dead” returned Sunday with a monster average audience of 16.1 million viewers — more than 5 million viewers better than last year’s 10.87 million and more than double where it kicked off its second season in October 2011 (7.26 million).
It also did a huge 8.2 rating in adults 18-49, making it easily the top-rated entertainment series telecast of the season, ahead of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” (5.5 for its season premiere and a 6.1 for a special second episode right after it).
In adults 25-54, its 7.3 rating ties with the regular-timeslot episode of “NCIS” as the season’s best for an entertainment series.  (The second “Big Bang” did an 8.0).
The previous series high for “Dead” — and the all-time best for a cable series — was its third-season finale last spring, which drew 12.42 million and a 6.4 rating in adults 18-49.

Why Roger Moore is the best 007

Today the legend that is Roger Moore celebrates his 86th birthday. And in honour of the great man the ARCHIVE here reposts the popular post - WHY ROGER MOORE IS THE BEST JAMES BOND.

All together now
Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Roger, Daniel Craig's got nothing on you.....

Why Roger Moore is the best Bond

It is Sean Connery who usually wins  polls to name the best James Bond, but it should be remembered that Connery was the first big screen Bond and he was making his films during a period of true Bondmania - the books had been red hot since President Kennedy named From Russia with Love as one of his favourite novels and when the Connery movies were showing in the cinemas, the UK was enjoying its status as the pop cultural capital of the world. London was swinging, The Beatles were sound-tracking the times and it also helped that there was little else being made that could compete with the glamour of the Bond movies anywhere in the world.

Connery was a superb James Bond but the longevity of the franchise and its ability to even survive the terrible miss-casting of Daniel Craig was down to Roger Moore. And Craig is indeed miss-cast - Fleming had enough trouble accepting Connery in the role but in comparison to Craig's Bond for our insurgent times, Connery's Bond seems the very definition of sophistication. What Fleming would make of Daniel Craig one can only guess but it is a safe bet his judgement would be expletive ridden.

At the time Connery's Bond movies were truly groundbreaking and whilst no one would say that he wasn't excellent in the role, he didn't have the ardous task Moore had when he stepped into the 007 shoes. Before Moore there was already one other actor who had tried to take over from Connery in the shape of George Lazenby and whilst these days his one stab at the role is fondly remembered, often considered something of a classic for the series, it was a flop at the time - fans didn't by large like him in the role. Maybe he would have improved and gone onto become one of the best Bonds - who knows? But it was not to be and Connery was brought back for Diamonds Are Forever.

Now Diamonds are Forever is an interesting film and is often called the first Roger Moore Bond film, even if it was Connery in the role. And there is some sense in this - the style of the film was far more comedic than previously, even more larger than life, so when people say that Moore brought too much comedy to the franchise they are clearly forgetting Connery's Diamonds are Forever which actually ushered in this style of Bond movie.

When Moore stepped into the role - the franchise had lost its original sheen and many people considered the series to be over - Diamonds, whilst financially successful, was not such a critical success and the thinking was that James Bond was a thing of the past, a glorious memory of Britain's final days as a super-power on the world stage. James Bond was in fact old fashioned and couldn't compete with the new wave of action cinema with stars like Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. James Bond was a hanger on from the British Empire and dreadfully unhip in this brave new world.

 Roger Moore proved that there was still life in the old dog and indeed his Bond movies were amongst the most successful ever made - time after time I have argued with people who have called Moore a terrible Bond and his films nonsense for this is clearly wrong and I would maintain that Moore was closer than anyone else to Fleming's original creation. And for me Moore will always be the definitive James Bond.

I thought Timothy Dalton was excellent too, as was Pierce Brosnan and George Lazenby was OK if a little amateurish at times. Daniel Craig, I think, is a great and very talented actor but I just don't think he's right for James Bond and I feel that both his Bond movies were lacking the essential ingredients that make Bond stand out from all the other action movies out there. It would be interesting to find out how many of the people who think Craig's Bond is the Bond of the books have actually read Fleming's original novels. Not many, I think.

But I digress - back to Moore.

When you analyse Moore's Bond, there's a lot of similarities between the way he and Connery played Bond - Connery also, at least from Goldfinger onwards, presented Bond as a larger than life, devil may care character and both actors were fond of the corny one liners. Of course Moore's tenure as Bond happened to coincide with a period where the comedy was becoming more important to the series, and it also helped that Moore was superb, far better than Connery, at playing for laughs.

If Moore's Bond had failed then we would never have had Dalton, Brosnan or Craig and Connery wouldn't have returned for Never Say Never Again. It was Moore that kept James Bond at the top of the box office for more than a decade and for that reason alone he deserves the accolade of the best ever James Bond.

Yep it's trendy to dismiss Roger Moore's Bond and claim that Daniel Craig is the closest to Fleming's vision but that's just bollocks. Fleming's bond was a professional killer but he killed out of choice, it was his profession and he was never the cold blooded thug as the latest films have seen fit to present him. Bond was a snob, a misogynist, and Moore brought out out all of these characterisations with the minimum of effort.

"Just keeping the British end up, sir."
Roger Moore may have made arguably the worse Bond movie in Moonraker,  but at least the film is good natured and fun, and I would rate it far higher than Quantum of Solace which was truly shit. And Moore may have gone on too long in the role, being far too old during A View to a Kill - It  doesn't change the fact that he starred in so many high-points of the series - The Spy Who Loved Me, Live and Let Die and For Your Eyes Only can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best the series has to offer. And no one, not even Connery, could deliver a quip with the style of Roger Moore. Let us not forget that not all of Connery's Bond movies were excellent - Thunderball was plodding and overlong, Diamonds are Forever was uninvolving and You Only Live Twice whilst having its moments suffered from a boring middle section. Connery did at least make three classic flawless Bond movies but then so did Roger Moore.

Roger Moore was an excellent James Bond and best not forget it.

And here we reprint another Moore/Bond based article

If Roger Moore had thought stepping into the shoes of James Bond would be a life of luxury. he was in for a big surprise.

'As the star of the picture I was given a caravan all to myself,' Moore wrote in his autobiography. 'Not a luxury Winnebago but the kind you see in motorway lay-byes selling tea and coffee. I did have a bucket in the rear though in which to relieve myself.'

One day on set an out of control vehicle collided with the caravan and obliterated the back of the caravan and Moore's bucket only moments after the star had done a number one. On screen Moore was expected to face danger with a nonchalant eyebrow, but it was dangerous enough behind the scenes. One afternoon Moore watched as his double was almost eaten by an alligator while performing the famous stepping stones/alligator scene.

'He was wearing my crocodile skin shoes and ruined them.' Moore jokingly grumbled later.

Prior to taking the part of 007 for Live and Let Die, Moore had been considering sign up for a second season of, The Persuaders, but while filming the later episodes of the series Moore had found the Bond team filming Diamonds are Forever at the same studio. Moore met the producers of the story and he had a pretty good idea that the offer of the role was coming his way. TV mogul, Lew Grade was furious when Moore signed for Bond and warned that the move would ruin the actor's career.

How wrong he was.

Lots of criticism has been leveled at Moore because his Bond was so light and more comedic than earlier films, but Connery's last Bond movie, Diamonds are Forever actually set the blueprint for the direction the series was going. In some ways Diamonds can be considered one of the Roger Moore Bond's even if it was Connery  in the role, and in truth Moore's first Bond, Live and Let Die is a far better movie than Diamonds are Forever. And the lightening  of the Bond character had actually started some years before with Goldfinger, often considered the best Bond movie. So to criticise Moore for his lighter Bond is actually nonsensical even if the comedy and outlandish elements were to reach all new highs - not necessarily an all time high.

Moonraker for instance may the worse Bond film of all, though personally I'd give that dubious honour to Quantum of Solace. But at the same time The Spy Who Loved Me is one of the best. Moore made as many good Bonds as Connery and was guilty of only a couple of really dreadful ones. To my mind the two bad Moore/Bonds are Moonraker and A View to a Kill and the failings of both movies are due to more than the leading man.

I'm a big Bond fan and I think that each of the actors who have played Bond have delivered both good and bad -  George Lazenby whose one Bond is now considered a classic managed to be both excellent and terrible in the same film.

It was during the filming of Moonraker that Moore met a young director named Steven Speilberg who was currently a hot property and the director, a huge fan of the series told that actor that he would love to direct a Bond movie. Moore told Cubby Broccoli about this but the producer dismissed it by saying Speilberg would be too expensive. And so Speilberg and Bond never happened and so the director went off and made Raiders of the Lost Ark, James Bond with a whip.


'My contention of playing Bond light is that it's all a big joke. How can he, a secret agent, walk into any bar in the world and be recognised and served his favourite tipple? It's pure fantasy,' Roger Moore

Moonraker had been rushed into production after the success of  Star Wars and all things science fiction. The movie that was supposed to have been in production was to have been For Your Eyes Only. This was a mistake and For You Eyes came after Moonraker and turned out to be one of not only Moore's best Bonds but anyone best Bonds. This was the way to play Bond tough and at the time, after growing used to Moore's light style, it was truly shocking. Awesome, we would have thought had such yelps of delight been in common usage then.

"I am happy to have done it, but I'm sad that it has turned so violent.I would love to be remembered as one of the greatest Lears or Hamlets, but as that's not going to happen, I'm quite happy I did Bond." Roger Moore

Now I've already written about why I think Roger Moore was the best Bond above, but as we await the return of James Bond to our cinema screens, in his all new thuggish  persona, we realise that the series has never truly recovered from the loss of Roger Moore.

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