Hello again, I hope you’re all doing well despite everything going on in the world at the moment. Here in the UK, Liz Truss having to resign after a disastrous 45 days as our shortest-serving Prime Minister was certainly quite astonishing to witness, and now it remains to be seen if new PM Rishi Sunak can start to get things back on track and last at least as long as she did!
Still, despite all that chaos, I’m doing well, I’m happy to say. My redundancy certainly hasn’t left me twiddling my thumbs, as I’ve been very busy indeed this month. The fact that I’ve been invited to contribute to various disability and accessibility projects, some of which I’ve been paid for, has shown that I’m still very much in demand for my skills and opinions, and I’ve continued to socialise with friends as well of course. So I still have a sense of purpose and don’t feel at all lonely, bored or cast aside in any way despite my job loss, and I still have financial stability for the time being.
So I’m enjoying the career break, and there’s plenty to cover this month, including the aforementioned disability projects, virtual reality games, stand-up comedy shows, a museum visit, a seaside trip, an overseas holiday, TV shows and music releases. So I hope you enjoy this bumper roundup post and video!
- Disability & Accessibility Projects
- Open Inclusion – Virtual Reality Testing
- Wellcome Collection – In Plain Sight
- Brighton & Guernsey
- Dara Ó Briain & Maisie Adam – Live Shows
- Rik Mayall – Memorial Bench
- Other TV Comedy
- Doctor Who – The Power Of The Doctor
- Queen & The Beatles
Disability & Accessibility Projects
This month I’ve been busy with awareness and advocacy work, and have also been asked to mention a couple of crowdfunding campaigns, so it would be great if you could check out and share some or all of this stuff.
Firstly, I’ve been involved with a few different organsations:
- Enabled Living, my local support group in East London, have been running an Alt Text Campaign, to educate and remind people about adding descriptions to their images online. It really helps to ensure that blind and visually impaired people can enjoy and interact with your content, products and services. I was consulted on the design of the campaign and filmed a few videos that were shared on their Twitter page, and I was paid for that involvement. So I’ve written a special blog post about the campaign, where I share my video clips, explain why image descriptions are vital, and give a few tips and examples.
- Rare Disease UK kindly invited me to write a guest post for their site called Growing In Confidence With Aniridia, so I could raise awareness of my eye condition and give an overview of my life to date. And talking of aniridia, I’m going to be helping out at the Aniridia Network stand at Sight Village in Kensington on Tuesday 8th November, so please do feel free to come over and say hello if you’re at the event. There’s an aniridia meetup afterwards as well, for anyone who has the condition themselves or in their family, so do join us for that too.
- The RNIB are running a major new campaign called See The Person, Not The Sight Loss, which aims to highlight and dispel the misconceptions about blind and partially sighted people. They produced a great audio described TV advert to publicise it (alongside various shorter edits), and teamed up with Gogglebox to promote it as well. So I happily accepted their invitation to share one of the things I wished sighted people knew, and given my recent redundancy there was naturally one topic that was forefront in my mind. So do check out my video on RNIB’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, as well as the videos others have produced.
And secondly, there are a couple of crowdfunding campaigns I’ve been asked to mention. I’ve not been paid to do so, I just think they’ll be of interest to my followers and are thus worth highlighting. Please do support these projects by donating and/or sharing if you can, they’ll really appreciate it:
- Blind actress Ellie Wallwork, who was brilliant in an episode of Doctor Who, is working on a new short film called Picturesque, which she describes as “a bittersweet LGBTQ+ drama featuring a queer blind woman and her girlfriend”. Ellie and her production team are keen to see intersectional identities represented more on-screen, and this is a big step in that direction, with plans to build on it for a subsequent feature film project. So do check out their crowdfunding page for lots of information about the film and how to donate towards it, and follow the project’s Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages for updates.
- Seable Holidays, who organise accessible vacations for visually impaired people, are getting back into action now that things are returning to normal and it’s safe to travel again. I haven’t used them myself, but I know of friends who have travelled with them and enjoyed the experience. They’re going to be launching a crowdfunding campaign in mid-November to raise essential funds to continue their work, so do follow their Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages for information and updates when the campaign goes live. I’ll share the link on my social media at the time as well.
Open Inclusion – Virtual Reality Testing
Staying on the theme of accessibility, and earlier this year I was invited to join the Open Inclusion research panel, which offers paid opportunities to take part in projects looking at the accessibility and inclusivity of various products and services. For example, my first project in August involved testing a new online video player for a TV broadcaster. Any disabled person is welcome to sign up – and if you do, please mention me as the person who referred you, as I get rewarded if you sign up and then take part in a project you’re offered. There’s no guarantee as to if or when you’ll be offered a project of course, but if you’re on their list you will hopefully be invited to participate at some stage.
So this month I had the opportunity to test out Virtual Reality (VR) and a little bit of Augmented Reality (AR), giving feedback on the menus, accessibility and display settings, and general use of the software and hardware. This wasn’t for a specific developer – rather, this was part of university research to try and suggest accessibility guidelines for the technology. On the internet, for example, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a common standard for people to follow when developing websites. But there’s no such equivalent for VR & AR, so this study is hopefully a step towards creating such guidance.
Having never tried VR before, I didn’t know how well I’d be able to use it or if I’d get motion sickness as some people do. But, with a bit of help from the researchers when I needed it, I was still able to interact with each game quite well. So it wasn’t a strain on the eyes, and I didn’t feel any nausea at all. Granted, each session in the headset was very short, because we took frequent breaks to discuss what I thought of each experience, and none of the games were intense or fast-moving, so it wasn’t a full-on extensive test. But even so, it was enough to give me confidence that I can use and enjoy VR if it’s made accessible.
For the testing I was using an Oculus headset and hand controllers. The headset was comfortable, lightweight and very adjustable, so I was happy wearing it, and the different buttons and joysticks on the controllers were easily distinguishable through touch. The visuals in the headset didn’t completely fill my field of vision, so there was a small black border around it, but I didn’t really notice that once I got immersed in things.
There were aspects of the menus and games I couldn’t see well and needed a bit of guidance to work around. But once I got the hang of each game’s unique mechanics and controls, which inevitably took a little while at first, I settled into them pretty quickly. The titles I briefly tried out were:
- Job Simulator – I played Gourmet Chef here, where I had a go at making and drinking a virtual cup of tea. I couldn’t see the instructional icons on the noticeboard, but managed to figure things out with the researcher’s help.
- Moss – An adventure game where you control a cute little mouse called Quill in a beautifully scenic environment. The way it uses transparent graphics to tell you how to use the controllers isn’t at all helpful, so again the researchers had to help a bit there. But once I got the hang of the controls and what objects could be interacted with, I enjoyed the problem-solving aspects of the game, as I figured out how to move things around to form a path for Quill to jump and climb over. It’s fun to know that Quill does a bit of American Sign Language as well, even though I can’t see it because the character’s so small.
- Elixir – This doesn’t use the controllers, as it cleverly recognises your own hands as you wave them around in mid-air. And moving around requires a hand gesture to teleport across the room and into other areas, which took a little bit of getting used to. But I had fun messing around in the laboratory, even if it took me a while to find the right objects to interact with sometimes.
I also watched a 360-degree Youtube tour of the Grand Canyon using the headset, which was quite cool. Then at the very end we did some brief AR testing with a tablet, trying out Amazon’s feature where you can place a 3D model of some furniture in your room to see how it looks, and then using the Arloopa app to walk around Van Gogh’s bedroom.
So it was good fun all in all. I’m really glad I was able play and enjoy the games to some degree, despite the accessibility limitations, and it would be fun to play with more VR content in the future if I get the chance.
Wellcome Collection – In Plain Sight
This month the Wellcome Collection have launched a brand new exhibition called In Plain Sight. I haven’t been asked or sponsored to mention it, but I did take part in an accessibility focus group discussion earlier in the year, in return for which I was given a shopping voucher and invited to the exclusive launch event, which took place the evening before it opened to the public. I met a couple of people from VocalEyes there, who also had involvement with the accessibility side of things, but I didn’t see anyone else I knew.
The exhibition explores the variety of beliefs, perceptions, interpretations and knowledge of how people see the world, either with perfect vision or across the spectrum of impairments, from historical times through to futuristic ideas. Being a medical museum, there are naturally many examples of glasses and equipment on display, the variety of which are quite interesting. But there are also some films you can watch on big screens – one using a VR headset if you wish – plus lots of artworks, photos, books and other historical objects, a few of which you can touch.
So there’s quite a mixture of exhibits, some of which do make you think a bit more than you might expect. And the whole gallery was bigger than I’d expected it to be as well, spread across a few large rooms. I didn’t have time to look at absolutely everything, but I saw quite a lot. It was interesting to discover what people thought about sight and visual impairment many hundreds of years ago, which are quite different to what we know now, and how people are reimagining vision for the future.
A few of the most memorable things for me include the large tactile Mati Armour featuring lots of different eye symbols (possibly my favourite piece as you can get right up close to it for a good look and feel), collections of surprising images from Google Street View, a webcam that re-interprets your interactions with objects using AI, a photo of an intensive care nurse from the pandemic designed to look like a painting, a section looking at people’s personal relationships with clothing and eyewear, a film imagining how far augmented reality could invade your vision and control your identity as you go about your daily life, and a make-up mirror which lets you see a new version of yourself using different augmented reality filters (which I couldn’t see well enough to try personally, but it looked fun from the other people I saw using it).
In terms of accessibility, some exhibits are kept in very low light to protect them, and thus can’t be seen very easily. But most are visible, and there is spotlighting on all the wall signs and labels. And they’ve made a considerable effort in other ways too, which work pretty well on the whole:
- There’s an audio descriptive guide that you can take around with you, which has 28 stops altogether. Some of them provide an introduction to a room or sub-section, while others talk about specific objects, artworks or films. And often the audio is provided by the original artist or designer, who describes their own physical appearance as well as that of their work, and provides additional context and explanation. So it really enhanced the experience, I found it very interesting with a nice variety of voices. You can access the full audio guide by scanning the QR code in the exhibition lobby (which I found to be very easy), or you can pick up one of their own devices (which we tried out of curiosity but found them difficult to use). There’s also a set of British Sign Language Videos for all 28 stops as well, again accessible via the QR code.
- There’s a prominent pathway on the floor that guides you into and around the exhibition, which is both tactile underfoot and clearly visible to the eye, so that’s really cool. Along the route there are large square spaces made up of tactile blocks, each of which represents a stop for the audio and BSL guides. So even if you can’t see the numbers on the wall, which aren’t very big, you can count your way around to figure out the relevant track number on your device.
- Large print and braille books are also available in the lobby of the exhibition, and I did find the large print guide very useful, as it has the text from all the wall and object labels in it (which you can read online to give a sense of what’s in the exhibition).
- Lights Up sessions are being held on various dates, which will have brighter and more even lighting in the exhibition to make things easier to see. They’re free to book on to, and you can turn up at any point within the 4-hour period to have a general look around, but there will also be a 30-minute audio described tour at a set time within each session, so you’ll need to check on the website when that takes place. I’m not sure how much they’ll be able to cover in just half an hour, as they’ll have to be very selective, but it’s still likely to be quite interesting. So I do plan to go to one of those sessions at some point to see what it’s like.
All in all, therefore, I did enjoy having a special preview of the exhibition, it was very kind of them to invite me. Being able to listen to audio files on my phone, read a large print guide and follow the pathway on the floor made it feel very accessible and easy to get around, and there are some interesting items in there. It is well worth a look.
Brighton & Guernsey
I’ve been hanging out with various people this month. On one occasion I met a close friend for a nice lunch and a walk around Regent’s Park, so that was a lovely afternoon. But my other 2 social adventures took me out of the capital to the seaside for a change.
Firstly I took a day trip to Brighton with my Aunt. She had offered to show me how easy it was to get there using Thameslink from London Bridge, and to show me some of the sights, as I haven’t been down there since I was a kid. We had a walk along the Palace Pier, where there’s all sorts going on, and a stroll along the seafront in both directions from there. We also had lovely toasted sandwiches in the M&S café and had a quick glimpse of the Royal Pavilion. And overall it is a really nice place. I was struck by how much there is to see wherever you walk, and how busy and thriving it seemed to be. So I’ll definitely have to go down there again, for at least a couple of days, to have a more thorough look around, as we only lightly scratched the surface. There are loads of things to do there.
Then at the end of the month I flew over to Guernsey for the first time in 5 years, where I stayed for 4 nights in their new Premier Inn, which was nice and comfortable with friendly and helpful staff as usual. The only slight quibble was that they only had cooked breakfast available on 2 of the 4 mornings I was there, so I had to make do with continental on the other 2 days. But that wasn’t the end of the world, it was probably a good idea to eat a bit more healthily anyway! And they’ve since refunded me £4 as the continental breakfast is £2 cheaper each day. Not a lot of money perhaps, but every little helps in the current climate!
The staff from the Aurigny airline, Gatwick Airport & Guernsey Airport were also really helpful during my travelling. One of the cabin crew on the return flight even offered to show me a lifejacket to familiarise myself with it, which nobody’s ever done before. Hopefully it’s knowledge that I’ll never need to make use of, but it was great to be able to have a closer look, as I can never see the safety demonstrations.
I was on the island to see my best mate who lives there, and we had a great time. On my first day we got together with some of his friends for a lads night involving pizza, poker, booze and banter, which was a lot of fun. Then the next night my mate and I took part in a Halloween quiz event at a local bar, which was raising money for the GSPCA – and to our surprise we actually won! We also took his adorable Guide Dog for a few walks during my stay, including a free run with a dog owned by another friend of his, and I had a few nice walks around the area in general too. Back at his house we also watched his DVD of the 2007 Sweeney Todd film featuring Johnny Depp, as I’d never seen it before. And it’s quite good – not something I would buy to keep myself, but well worth a watch once, as the acting and musical performances are good, and visually it’s beautifully atmospheric.
Plus in terms of food we had a deliciously filling 4-course Sunday dinner at the Best Western Moores Central Hotel in St Peter Port, a very nice lunch at Hotel Jerbourg that was finished with one of their many delicious cakes that they’re famed for, and a tasty steak baguette with chips from Dix Neuf on the day I came home.
So I really enjoyed my stay, it was lovely to get away for my first proper holiday since the pandemic. Check out my Instagram for more photos.
Dara Ó Briain & Maisie Adam – Live Shows
The satirical panel show Mock The Week sadly came to an end this month, with a great final episode and a couple of special compilations. It’s given us a great mix of topical banter, stand-up comedy and improvisation over the past 17 years, and I had a great time when I got to be in the audience in 2017, so I will miss it. There is an online petition to save the show that has nearly 50,000 signatures already, and let’s hope another broadcaster picks it up at some point. Judging by their recent tweets, however, they haven’t found any takers so far. Maybe after it’s been off air for a little while someone will try to reboot it.
One of the best things about the show is that it introduced me to several great comedians who I might never have come across or got into before. While other shows like Live At The Apollo also help in that regard, Mock The Week allowed comics to show their general banter and improvisation skills as well as their scripted routines, so you got a more rounded view of how they perform.
And by sheer coincidence – given that I bought the tickets many months ago – I saw 2 such comics live in person for the first time this month.
To begin with, I saw Dara Ó Briain at the Hammersmith Apollo, performing his show called So… Where Were We?. As the name implies, the material for this tour was written during lockdown when there wasn’t much happening, and so Dara has placed much more focus on his personal life this time around, rather than being observational about the world around him. So it was very interesting to find out more about him this way, during his really funny set.
I’m not going to give anything major away, as Dara’s tour has still got several months left to run. But naturally he talked a bit about lockdown, including his return home when it started, and a very funny section about homeschooling his son who’s learning to read. There were also several amusing health-related anecdotes, including references to a stick, testicles, different forms of massage and a toilet. Then for most of the second half he told a very in-depth and moving story – still with lots of laughs along the way – where he opened up about investigating a side of his life that I hadn’t known about, and which he didn’t know much about himself at first.
There was also his traditional section in the first half where he spoke to a variety of surprisingly interesting people in the front row. He tweeted after the show with some enjoyably cryptic “you had to be there” references to that segment, as he always does for every gig. And he also followed it up with another tweet remarking that it was possibly one of his favourite gigs ever at the Apollo. He was certainly getting a great response from the crowd, and with very good reason. So I really enjoyed the show and will definitely try to go to his future tours.
The other comedy gig I saw was Buzzed by Maisie Adam at the Leicester Square Theatre. This is her first big proper tour – because her previous show, Hang Fire, only travelled to small venues – so it’s a huge deal for her. I’ve enjoyed her contributions to Mock The Week and other TV programmes, and had fun seeing her live online when she hosted a charity gig for Frank’s Fund during lockdown in 2020, so on the strength of all that I booked this month’s show pretty much a year to the day in advance, securing a front row seat in the process. And it was well worth it.
Maisie’s show is called Buzzed partly because of the unusual DIY haircut she’s kept since lockdown, but also because of all the things she’s buzzing about in her life generally. So, like Dara, she’s very happy and upbeat, is great at telling entertaining anecdotes, and doesn’t get into heavy pandemic or political issues. And she clearly loves doing stand-up, as she regularly expressed her surprise and gratitude that so many people had turned up to see her. Indeed, she’s so much in demand that she’s had to add on several more dates for next year.
She spent the first half hour or so chatting with various people in the audience. Despite being in the middle of the front row, I didn’t get approached, because she was drawn to several people elsewhere, including someone from her old school, a blacksmith, an old age psychiatrist, a German quality engineer, a lady from Sydney, and a man who works for a builders merchant, among others. She had a great rapport with them all and was able to keep things entertaining with whoever she spoke to.
Then, after an interval, she spent an hour doing her actual set. Without spoiling anything, the topics she covered included her haircut, lockdown, social media trolls, a smear test, Have I Got News For You, her dislike of house plants, getting married (she performed a bit of that routine on the Russell Howard Hour), and her love of football, with a fun finale too. It was all really good fun, well structured and delivered with confidence, getting lots of laughs consistently throughout.
Back at home I also watched her first ever show, Vague, using a free trial of NextUp Comedy on Amazon Prime Video. NextUp is worth looking into now and again, as I’ve watched Bec Hill on it, but there isn’t enough to tempt me into a long-term subscription. But Maisie’s show Vague is very good, and earned her a Best Newcomer Award nomination. She tells lots of fun stories about her life in Yorkshire before she moved down to Brighton, including the smuggling of a goat into a nightclub, and how she got into stand-up comedy. Plus she talks openly about the fact that she has a form of epilepsy and how it’s affected her, incorporating it very effectively into her humorous stories. And she gives a very uplifting message at the end, rounding it off perfectly.
So I enjoyed both of those shows, and I would gladly see her live again. I hope her career continues to blossom in the way it currently is, as she certainly has a natural affinity and a great enthusiasm for stand-up.
Rik Mayall – Memorial Bench
Whilst I was in Hammersmith this time, I also had a quick look at the memorial bench installed in memory of comic genius Rik Mayall. I’d forgotten about it the last couple of times I was in the area, as it’s been a long time since it was unveiled, and thousands of people walk past it every day without realising its significance.
It’s located on a pedestrian island on the junction of Queen Caroline Street and Hammersmith Bridge Road, between the Eventim Apollo and Hammersmith Tube station, and it’s as close as possible to the original spot on Hammersmith Broadway where the Bottom title sequence was filmed. Rik had been upset when he discovered the original bench from the show had been removed to make way for a pedestrian crossing, but a petition by fans resulted in the current bench that stands in his memory.
So I’m glad I finally had the chance to pay my respects to him there, and I really like the message on the plaque, with its humorous and loving tribute:
In Memory of The Man, The Myth, The Legend
Dr The Rik Mayall
Pan Global Phenomenon
Equality, Wisdom, Freedom & Love
“Barbara: Love Is The Answer”
Certainly can’t argue with that. RIP Rik, you’re still very sorely missed! And we’ll have another great opportunity to celebrate his brilliance in the upcoming 40th Anniversary Blu-ray release of The Young Ones, which I’m really looking forward to getting as the episodes will be remastered with lots of new extras.
Other TV Comedy
As well as the aforementioned Mock The Week, I’ve also watched my other usual comedy shows including Have I Got News For You, Taskmaster (including Sarah Millican & Dara Ó Briain alongside other great contestants), Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Family Guy this month.
But apart from those I also saw the one-off 90-minute special of Friday Night Live, which was part of Channel 4’s 40th anniversary celebrations. This harks bark to Saturday Live, which was popular in the 80s and featured lots of brilliant comedians, and I have DVD compilations of those shows. This new edition was alright, though nothing hugely exciting. Ben Elton did a good job as the host, getting in some well-deserved digs at the government at the start, and giving a good closing speech about so-called political correctness, cancel culture and wokeism. And it was also nice to see Harry Enfield, Julian Clary & Jo Brand returning, even though they’re past their best these days, along with brief video cameos by Stephen Fry, Ade Edmondson, Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders. The more modern guests were less interesting though, and I ended up skipping all of them except Rosie Jones, who expressed pride in her disability during her nice little set. So on the whole it wasn’t amazing, but it was nice to see it back as a one-off for the sake of a bit of nostalgia.
Doctor Who – The Power Of The Doctor
The Power Of The Doctor was the third and final special of Doctor Who for this year, and was a brilliant feature-length edition to mark the BBC’s centenary and Jodie Whittaker’s departure. As usual I had successfully stayed away from as many spoilers and speculation as possible, apart from the biggest announcements that had made unavoidable headline news, so I went into it without knowing what to expect, which made it all the more exciting.
It was, as the more ambitious stories tend to be, very complicated and confusing at first, as all the story strands were brought into play. But it all came together well, with the usual mix of drama, action, emotion and humour. Chris Chibnall’s writing has always divided the fanbase, but then the same can be said of all the previous showrunners to be fair. Some people just like to complain about the showrunner or the Doctor no matter what. I do agree that the writing in these last few series hasn’t always been quite as strong as the stories by Russell T Davies or Steven Moffat – who in fairness set the bar very high to begin with, and I’m delighted that Davies is returning – but Chibnall has still been pretty good nonetheless, and his stories have definitely improved and become more ambitious as he’s settled into it.
Instead, the weakest aspect for me in Jodie’s reign has been the music by Segun Akinola, which occasionally has impactful or beautiful moments, including in one or two key scenes in this episode, but overall it just hasn’t felt as powerful or special or memorable as Murray Gold’s scores. There are several pieces by Murray that still stick in my head to this day, whereas the only thing that I can reliably remember from Segun’s soundtracks is his interpretation of the Doctor Who theme tune, which is actually quite effective (though Murray’s versions of it are still better).
And while we’re breaking down different aspects of the show, it’s also worth giving a shout out to the wonderful visual effects, as John Smith has posted a fascinating VFX showreel highlighting some of his favourite sequences that he’s worked on over the past 6 years. The video reveals the raw footage and CGI layers from the title sequence through to Jodie’s regeneration, exhibiting lots of other great moments along the way.
Anyway, the most famous and dangerous enemies were naturally brought back for this episode, as The Master (in another delightfully evil performance by Sacha Dhawan) collaborated with the Daleks and Cybermen. For a centenary celebration it was inevitable that those enemies would return in some fashion, and their involvement had been revealed in advance, without giving away why. And as we’re mentioning music, it was an inspired touch to use Rasputin by Boney M during a victorious moment for The Master. It’s got the same vibe as the Here Come The Drums sequence from the episode The Sound Of Drums featuring Voodoo Child by Rogue Traders.
But even more incredibly, we had several former Doctors and companions returning from the old days, which again makes perfect sense given the centenary nature of the episode, and a couple of people had been revealed after the Easter special. I’ve only seen a few episodes from the Classic era, so I haven’t watched the original stories featuring Ace and Tegan, who were great here. But nevertheless, I am aware of who they are (Ace in particular looks very cool), and it was a lovely touch to have them reunited with their original Doctors, bringing a sense of continuation and resolution to their original departures. And it was amazing to see a few other former Doctors too. I love the notion of a support group for former companions as well, it seems such an obvious thing in hindsight that I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before.
There were no doubt some other callbacks to the past that I missed as well, either due to my limited knowledge of the old episodes or my restricted eyesight, as there was so much going on, and audio description can’t cover it all. Even the most ardent of fans will have to rewatch it to see everything I expect. But I’m glad I was able to notice and appreciate the most obvious and important nods to the Classic days.
And in the modern age, Jodie has been wonderful during her tenure as the 13th Doctor. She has a bubbly and fun personality, yet plays the dramatic aspects of the role really effectively as well. I’m glad they brought back companion Graham for her last episode, that was another nice surprise, along with Dan of course. And it was particularly lovely to see the Doctor and Yasmin having some final moments together, as they needed that closure given the strong bond they’d formed. Jodie’s final words – “Right then, Doctor whoever I’m about to be… Tag, you’re it.” – were also the perfect send off, very much in keeping with her character.
And then after that we saw the beautifully filmed regeneration, where she morphed into David Tennant! Again, it had been previously revealed that he would be returning, along with Catherine Tate as Donna, because it had to be announced in advance of some public filming they were doing, but the context of their return hadn’t been specified. I’m therefore over the moon that he’ll be the 14th Doctor for a special trilogy in November next year, as he’s always been my favourite Doctor.
It also made nice callbacks to the curator scene in The Day Of The Doctor, where Tom Baker told his former self that he might revisit a few old favourites, and the various scenes where David says “What?!” a few times in confusion (e.g. when he has unexpected arrivals in the Tardis from Donna as a bride, former Doctor Peter Davison, and the spaceship Titanic). So I’m really looking forward to seeing how his and Donna’s return is explained and resolved, as well as how it links into Ncuti Gatwa’s debut as number 15. The 60th anniversary of the show is certainly going to kick off with a bang!
Queen & The Beatles
Queen released a new single called Face It Alone this month. It’s a beautiful rediscovered track from the sessions for The Miracle, which has been brought to life with the aid of their sound engineers. It has a very different feel to many of Queen’s bigger hits, and has relatively minimal backing as it was never fully finished at the time, but is all the more effective as a result really, and Freddie sounds incredible as always.
It’s the first new song featuring Freddie in over 8 years, and will be part of a new collector’s edition of The Miracle coming out in November. The new box set includes a remastered version of the album, along with session recordings, instrumentals, interviews, a DVD & Blu-ray with the promo videos, a vinyl LP (which is useless to me but you can’t get the rest of the set without it), a book and a press kit. So I’ve pre-ordered that, using a 10% discount code for the store that I was sent on my birthday. I’m really looking forward to receiving it!
Meanwhile, when it comes to The Beatles, this month I finally got around to buying the Blu-ray of Get Back, which had gone out of stock pretty quickly after its initial release. This is the excellent documentary produced by Peter Jackson for Disney+ that I reviewed last year. There are no extra features unfortunately, other than 4 postcards with pictures of each of the band members, and some nice photos within the casing, so it doesn’t really deserve to be called a Collector’s Edition particularly. But it’s nice to have a physical copy and thankfully it does include the audio description tracks.
In recent years the band have also re-released several albums as Super Deluxe editions, with remastered tracks and lots of session outtakes. There have been smaller versions with highlights as well, but the Super Deluxe versions are the way to go for the full experience. And this month they’ve continued the series with a special edition of Revolver, a 5-disc set that includes a brand new stereo mix, the original mono version, 2 discs of session outtakes and a 4-track EP, along with a big hardback book.
However, they haven’t included a Blu-ray disc with a surround sound mix this time, which was a wonderful aspect of the previous sets. Many fans also have the mono album already, so that disc is just duplication for them, and the EP disc is a complete waste of space as those 4 tracks could easily fit on any of the other discs. What’s more, Amazon UK prices are around £100 for the the 5 CD box set and around £150 for the vinyl equivalent, which is considerably more than the previous sets despite the Blu-ray omission. There is also a digital download version of all 5 discs for just £30, but I’d like the physical version with the book, as it’ll be interesting to read and means I’ll have consistency with the rest of my collection. It’s just not worth it at the current price in comparison to previous sets, and Queen’s box set is already costing me a fair amount. So I’ll wait for the price to fall before I consider it. I’ll get it eventually.
So that’s it for a very busy month! I hope you enjoyed going through all of that. Mum and I also had our Covid and flu booster jabs this month, so that should help to get us through the winter safely even if we catch them.
You may also have noticed that I wrote detailed reviews of Derren Brown’s TV Series & Specials recently, after seeing him live last month. And I’ve finally finished sharing all of my old journal entries from 2002-2016, so I’ll be writing some proper Favourites posts for 2017 soon, as I wasn’t yet into the habit of doing those at the time. So that gives you plenty more to read as well.
And I have various things lined up in November already. I’ll be at Sight Village as I mentioned earlier, I’ve already seen a great concert in London as you’ll have seen if you follow my social media, and I’m travelling for a weekend to see another concert and yet another stand-up comedy show. So I’ll be able to tell you about all of those things, amongst a few other bits and pieces, in next month’s post. And I hope you have a good month too!