Friday, 8 December 2017

12 Doctor Who Specials Of Christmas

12 Doctor Who Specials Of Christmas

Apropos of nothing, and seeing as in a couple of weeks time the title above will be out of date, I've cast my mind back over the first 12 years worth of Doctor Who Christmas Specials, and have ranked them in order of preference. (I am betting no two people would have them in the same order)

12)  The Time Of The Doctor (2013) - My least favourite Doctor Who Christmas Special by miles, because it's just a hateful mess. We want The Doctor to go out with a bang, instead we get him sitting round for hundreds of years doing sod all, and all because supposedly he's on his last regeneration, even though (in the Sarah Jane episode Death Of the Doctor by RTD) it had been explained away that Timelords could have hundreds of lives. So this was tedious, indulgent, almost unwatchable, and scared off a potential next generation of Doctor Who fans (I was left alone watching it, while the rest of the family decamped to more interesting rooms. I bet I wasn't the only one). Dreadful.

11)  The Snowmen (2012) - This came at the start of a season that I hated. Bogged down as it is with the whole "Impossible Girl" Clara storyline, which was never satisfying to me (apparently she's a leaf, or something, and she goes into the Doctor's timeline, whatever that is, and goes back in time to fight the single least convincing villain there's ever been, The Great Intelligence who, if he was that Great or indeed Intelligent would have asked his agent to get him the hell out of it) it's hard to either warm to or, on its own, understand. I like the Sontaran, the Silurian, and the Ninja, but that's about it for this confusing mess. Almost the last episode you should show to someone who's never seen Doctor Who before.

10) The Return Of Dr Mysterio (2016) - Having not watched this since it was first on, I find I've forgotten what happens towards the end, but I seem to remember enjoying it. We've gone full superhero movie with this one, and I think it works, though being able to remember it less than a year later would be helpful.

9) The Next Doctor (2008) - I was picky about this at the time, as the Cybermen began their Law Of Diminishing Returns descent into never quite being as good as they were the last time you saw them (remedied, finally, in the stories with Missy in). And the hot air balloon and giant Cyberman are just silly. But the Victoriana is perfectly Christmassy, and it's enjoyable if you haven't got your over-critical head on.

8) The Husbands Of River Song (2015) - Way to scare off every curious viewer with the title! Who the hell was going to watch something that screams "you won't understand this unless you've been watching the show for at least fifty years". Such fan indulgence aside, it's a rollicking romp, not too bogged-down in continuity, and fun to rewatch.

7) A Christmas Carol (2010) - Sometimes less is more, and this felt like a bit of a dogs breakfast, with far too many ideas competing for space, swamping a story which would have worked much better if kept simple. The nonsense with singing and fish still seems quite inexplicable to me, and the flying shark was wasted. Maybe some of us still hadn't adjusted to a new Doctor yet.

6) The Runaway Bride (2006) - Didn't like this at the time, with so much standing around talking, but on subsequent viewing it's surprisingly good fun, and shows that the Donna character, who was only intended to be in this one story, was fully realised from the start. The fact of the Earth being built around a giant spiders web didn't bother me at the time, whereas a similar bit of nonsense in Kill The Moon 10 years later annoyed the hell out of me.

5) Voyage Of The Damned (2007) - I'd recommend this as a fine introduction to anyone who'd never seen Doctor Who before, which so many RTD episodes work as. Filmic, comic, heroic, and a perfect early afternoon episode (probably cos it's so reminiscent of The Poseidon Adventure).

4) The End Of Time (2009) - Possibly the least Christmassy Christmas story, and one that I parodied mercilessly with the Socks. Much Shark-jumping with the Master, a lot of interminable messing around with the Master's wife and some pensioners, none of which is ever satisfactorily resolved, and some wasted aliens and unscary bad guys doing forgettable stuff. But the climactic scenes - first The Doctor vs The Master vs The Timelords; then the Doctor giving up his life; then the brilliant sequence of visits The Doctor pays to all his co-stars (which had me dewey-eyed when I was watching it just last week), more than makes up for it. A good end, which is what we were waiting for.

3) Last Christmas (2014) - This was more like it. Santa meets Alien meets one of those virtual reality stories that Steven Moffat specialises in. With good characters throughout, good simple scares, and a nice bit of schmaltz towards the end - especially the return of Clara, which I didn't think I'd be in favour of, but I was - it's a spot-on Christmas episode, maybe for a slightly older kid who'd never seen Doctor Who before.

2) The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe (2011) - Some people dislike this because of its sentimentality, which is precisely why I love it. A perfect balance of comedy, drama, and schmaltz. Very filmic, perfectly Christmassy. Another one that I'd show to a kid who'd never seen Doctor Who before.

1)  The Christmas Invasion (2005) - I was so impressed by this at the time, despite my trepidation at anyone replacing Christopher Eccleston, who had already become "my Doctor". Despite plot holes the size of swiss cheeses - what are those "pilot fish" Santas, for example - it is a really satisfying adventure story, full of excellent characters, convincing threat, and a perfect introduction to David Tennant's Doctor. A definite contender for Best Regeneration Story too.

And there you have it. Just some idle thoughts, that I had while wiling away time in my hotel room before going off to play a Socks gig in Ripon. Thanks for listening.

And, as if that weren't enough, I can announce the launch of the first official DONALD TRUMP IN COMICS BY KIDS calendar for 2018. Order now for Christmas.

The Official Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass calendar is on sale now
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Budget, Mugabe, Adam Ant & other posts

Separated at birth: Taylor Swift's Reputation (2017) and Cliff Richard's Good News (1967)

Budget Nov 23

So, as usual, no-one's happy about the Budget. But my question is: has anyone ever been? Has there ever been a budget, from Tories or Labour, after which everyone's said "That's it! He's nailed it! Why didn't we think of that before?"

And, secondarily, has anyone run the stats on past budgets and worked out how things would have gone if the chancellor had made different choices?

I've been vaguely aware of budgets since my schooldays, the earliest I remember being Denis Healey (or Denis Sillybudget, as, for some reason, we used to call him). Then he was criticised for borrowing and being in hock to the IMF. After that I remember Thatcher's various chancellors, mostly for how much they got slagged off by Neil Kinnock for robbing pensioners and the like.

The biggest budget change I remember is when Nigel Lawson did something around 1987 which suddenly made house prices sky rocket, which they've continued doing for the subsequent 30 years, though I don't remember the details.

So, who's ever got it right? And who's made the worst ever decision in their budget? Anyone know?

In the post budget analysis I'm hearing a lot of talk of "these difficult times". It's reminded me of a concept that I read about recently - Marvel Time.

In the early 1970s Stan Lee and Marvel realised they couldn't continue to have their characters age, as this would affect spin offs and merchandise that needed the characters to remain the same. So they invented Marvel Time, wherein all major character origins had happened "about 7 years ago". Peter Parker getting bitten, Bruce Banner getting blown up etc. All stayed a vague time ago in the past, so there was "the feeling of progress, but no actual progress".

Well, that's what "these difficult times" are. They're a state of affairs that we imagine goes on now, and is so much worse than "a few years ago". (And is always the fault of the previous government, even when, as now, the previous government is over 7 years ago. Their predecessors used the same nonsense talk.)

Are "these difficult times" really worse than the past? Sure they are if you're homeless, if you're eating from a foodbank, if you're unable to get your benefits etc. But hasn't that always been the case?
I may be the only person here old enough to remember the riots of 1981, when this town was coming like a Ghost Town and there were no jobs to be found in this country. I may be the only person old enough to remember the strikes of the early 70s when we had power cuts, and TV went off at 10.30 at night, and my weekly comics only came out fortnightly cos there was no paper. I may be the only person who remembers petrol rationing, and who read about the austerity of my Mum & Dad's era in the 1950s.

But surely I'm not the only person old enough to remember the riots of 2011? It's only 6 years ago, and things were so bad people actually bloody rioted, all over the country.
Are these difficult times really as bad as any of those difficult times, or do we all have some sort of collective memory failure which makes the past seem like some Golden Age and the present have a constant shadow over it?

The Man Who Invented Christmas - review

Apparently Christopher Plummer's asked if he can be edited out and replaced with Kevin Spacey

Now come on. Facebook does know it's doing this, and does it deliberately, right? #Juxtaposition #Spooky

Toby Jones

Thanks to BBC Breakfast I have just learned I've been under a delusion for years. It turns out Toby Jones' dad is Freddie Jones out of Emmerdale, and they are no relation to Bill Dare and his dad Peter Jones. Turns out Jones is not that unusual a surname. Sorry to anyone who I might have told that Bill Dare is Toby Jones' brother. I am idiot.


You can tell how long Robert Mugabe's been out of the news by the number of times I've read the "Mugabe is Ee ba gum backwards" gag on Facebook this week, posted by kids too young to have heard it 40 years ago.

It was a staple of comedians, and the school playground, back when Mugabe was a mere 50 year old stripling. I don't know who said it first, was it Mike Yarwood, The Two Ronnies, or someone on The Comedians or the Wheeltappers and Shunters. But nice to see a good home being given to an old joke.

Next week: a Millennial spots the aural similarity between the words "four candles" and "fork handles". Stay tuned.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Alan Moore v Margaret Attwood & other posts

Margaret Attwood does Alan Moore - shocker.

Have I just found an example of Margaret Attwood ripping off Alan Moore? Watching Alias Grace on Netflix, there's a trope that occurs in every episode where the doctor asks Grace what an object suggests to her (eg an apple), we get a flashback to what it brings to her mind (eg a death) then she gives the doctor an innocuous alternative answer. This is exactly what happens in Watchmen, with Rorshach and his doctor.

Watchmen is from 1987, Alias Grace was written in 1994. Had anyone used this trick before, or have we got an example for the Swipe File?

Johnny Hallyday

Ironically his last word was the 'H' he kept forgetting to say at the start of his surname.


"Justice League may well sell fewer tickets than the first Twilight did" - why would anyone be surprised by this? Middle aged comic fans seem to think that a movie can succeed because it features characters that they have an obessesion with, but that's not how movies work. Word of mouth, as a result of it actually being A Good Film, is their biggest seller. That's how you get a Twilight and a Frozen. Disney & Dreamworks know that they've had successes and flops from Shrek to Sharks Tale and it all boils down to whether the film works or not. Not whether you'd heard of the picture book Shrek before you went.

So Justice League (a comic book that no civilian I've ever met has ever heard of) featuring Aquaman (who?) and Cyborg (double who?) and Flash (what, off the telly, never seen him) and Batman & Superman (what, from the most slagged off film of 2 years ago?) turns out to have nothing that would help its advance publicity (to real people, not forty-somethings who frequent Forbidden Planet), and is only a so-so film. How could that compete with Thor Ragnarok, which seems comparable to a better Pirates Of The Caribbean movie in that it gets great word of mouth and, er, that's all it needed.

So a 3 star movie featuring 75 year old characters does worse than one of the most audience-catchingly novel movie franchises of a generation? Durr.

Sudden realisation: when the Marvel & DC movies both start failing, THIS is what happens next... (Superman vs Spider-Man, 1976).

DC vs Marvel

Do you remember when you were at school and you'd have loved to have had an argument about which Marvel and DC characters were best, but there was only one other guy in the whole school who read comics, and he liked the same ones you did?

The 1980s. You had to be there.

Has anyone else had an email like this from booking dot com? Why was I sent an email asking me to 'Finish My Booking" for a booking I'd already had confirmed? It says "are you still interested in staying?" as if there was some doubt. I ended up booking the room twice & had to cancel! Just me?


Do you think when Stevie Wonder sings that line in Masterblaster from 1980 now he sings "Peace has come to Zimbabwe... and this time we mean it" ?

Black Friday

Since 2006, there have been 7 Black Friday-related deaths & 98 injuries in the USA. There, that's cheered you up hasn't it?

Apparently the term is first recorded in Philadelpdia in 1961 referring to the weekend's bad traffic, and it took 20 years before retailers started using it to mean "in the black". It wasn't until 2013 that Asda (owned by Walmart) tried to popularise it in the UK, and Amazon started using it here. Before that, it had been a term used by the Police & NHS to refer to the Friday before Christmas when emergency services needed special contingency plans to cope.

Essentially it's like when the Catholic Church nicked our Solstice & Yule festivals and started calling them Christmas.

Plus ca change.

Bonus fact, fact fans: Long before the term came to denote the shopping frenzy on the day after Thanksgiving, Steely Dan released this song about the original "Black Friday," when on Friday, September 24, 1869 a failed ploy left many wealthy investors broke. The investors tried to corner the market on gold, buying as much of it as they could and driving up the price, but when the government found out, it released $4 million worth of gold into the market, driving down the price and clobbering the investors.

Official DONALD TRUMP IN COMICS BY KIDS calendar for 2018 on sale now.  

The Official Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass calendar is on sale now
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Monday, 4 December 2017

Comic Art Masterclass Official 2018 Calendar

It is with the greatest pleasure that I announce the publication of the Official Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass 2018 Calendar, boasting 12 glossy full colour pages packed with 96 glorious technicolour front covers from comics produced with kids in my Comic Art Masterclasses this past year - ON SALE NOW!

You can see it all here for free, & buy it for just £10.44

As you probably know, when I'm not writing and drawing comic strips (look out for my Women Of The Bible coming in 2018), I visit schools and teach kids how easy it is to do, so they can leave school and steal my job. Every class goes away with a comic in their hand containing a strip by every one of them, and an individual caricature by me. They come up with the title and the idea for the front cover, and these are just some of the ones they've unleashed on the world of late.

These comics variously came from:

JAN  Kings Worcester, St Patricks Denny, NQT Colmore, Whizz Kids Wellbeing Brum, John Of Gaunt Trowbridge
FEB Welbeing Brum, Doncaster Book Awards, Thos Hickman Aylesbury, Avondale Rathdrum, Darlington, Alma Park Levenshulme
MAR  Darlington, Blakesley Hall, St Josephs Swansea, Dyson Perrins, Ferndale Swindon, 
APR  Northumberland C of E Ashington, Cwm Ifor Caerphilly, Andover C of E, Kings Gloucester, Prema Arts, Andover Home Eds 
MAY  Woodthorpe, Lindisfarne, Chiddingstone Castle, Rickmansworth, James Calvert Spence College, Shenley Brook End, Dorchester Festival
JUN  Guernsey, Milton Keynes, Grove Trowbridge, Colmore, Fair Furlong, 
JUL  Burgess Hill, Banks St Stephens Southport, Manchester Academy, Dean Close Cheltenham, Ludlow Festival
AUG  Broadchalke, Romsey, Ashlyns, Fortismere, Baldock, Ruskin
SEPT  Norwich Lord Mayors Day, Northbury Primary, Longfleet, Ruskin, Latitude Festival, DeFerrers, St Katherines Pill
OCT De Ferrers, St Sidwell, Greenock Library, Backwell, Andover
NOV  Christchurch Bradford On Avon, Walthamstow, Cartoon Museum, Victoria Falkirk, St Bernadette Stenhousemuir
DEC Manchester Academy, Newton Poppleford, Port Glasgow Library, Finham Park Coventry, Newton Poppleford, Bowhouse Grangemouth, St Francis Ventnor IOW

And, as if that weren't enough, I can announce the launch of the first official DONALD TRUMP IN COMICS BY KIDS calendar for 2018. Order now for Christmas.

The Official Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass calendar is on sale now
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Donald Trump In Comics By Kids - Official Calendar 2018

Announcing the launch of the first official DONALD TRUMP IN COMICS BY KIDS calendar for 2018. 12 full colour pages of comics, devised by school kids and drawn by Kev F (of Beano and Marvel comics fame). From Trump vs Batman to Trump Gets The Bieber Fever via Trump Gets Ebola & Trump On The Toilet, see what ideas spring from the imagination of Britain's schoolkids, aged as young as 7, and get your hands on the hottest collectable of the year!

Kev F Sutherland, whose work has been seen everywhere from The Beano & The Dandy to Doctor Who and Marvel comics, visits schools teaching his Comic Art Masterclass. After each session, the class goes away having produced a comic containing a comic strip by every one of them, and he's drawn a caricature of each of them to boot. And a key part of the class is the group dreaming up the title and the design for the front cover, which Kev F then draws.

In the past year and a half, there has been no subject that so excites the imagination of primary and secondary school children as the great orange leader of the free world, and he has found himself the subject of more than 30 of these front covers. And now they can all be yours, collected up in this beautiful full colour calendar. Preview it for free, order it now & it'll be with you in three days.

Each month features one main image, surrounded by four smaller images, all from schools visited in the past 18 months by Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass. The central images featured come from:

JAN  Darlington Library
FEB  St Josephs Primary Swansea
MAR Northumberland C of E Ashington
APR  Woodthorpe Juniors Kings Heath
MAY  St Bernadette's Primary Stenhousemuir
JUN Colmore Juniors Kings Heath
JUL  St Stephens Primary Southport
AUG St Bernadette's Primary Stenhousemuir
SEPT  Backwell School Somerset
OCT  Greenock Library Inverclyde
NOV  Northbury Primary Barking
DEC  John Of Gaunt School Trowbridge

With the surrounding covers produced in schools all over England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales & Guernsey.

The DONALD TRUMP IN COMICS BY KIDS calendar costs only £11.99 and is a print-on-demand production from

Also available this month is the Official Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass calendar featuring 96 front covers from comics produced by schoolkids in the past year.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Sunday, 3 December 2017

4 Tea Time Theme Time quizzes

As recently posed on Facebook, here are four Tea Time Theme Time posers, as you'd usually hear on Mark & Radcliffe (sorry, Radcliffe and Maconie) on BBC 6 Music. Answers at the foot of the page.

1) A mega Tea Time Theme Time for you. What connects these 8 records?

My Love - Wings
Tell Me Your Plans - The Shirts
Affectionately Mine - Milan (featuring Martine McCutcheon)
Party Fears Two - The Associates
My Best Friend's Girl - The Cars
Safety Dance - Men Without Hats
Cool For Cats - Squeeze
Your Song - Elton John

2) Another mega Tea Time Theme Time for you. What links these 6 records?

Jackie - Scott Walker
Something Wicked This Way Comes - The Enid
John Wayne Is Big Leggy - Haysee Fantaysee
Jilted John - Jilted John
Undercover Angel - Alan O'Day
- and they're all linked to:
Fun Fun Fun -The Beach Boys.

3) Yet another mega Teattime Theme Time for you. What links these 6 records?

Bits And Pieces - Dave Clark Five
Amoreuse - Kiki Dee
Buffalo Girls - Malcolm McLaren and the Supreme Team
Captain Beaky and His Band - Keith Michelle
E=MC2 - Big Audio Dynamite
Ding A Dong - Teach In

4) A regular sized Tea Time Theme Time for you. What connects these 3 records?

Cousin Norman - Marmalade
My Generation - The Who
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet - Bachman Turner Overdrive

(and a slight return, because no-one was guessing the first one correctly...)

1) (Take Two) I'm delighting in the fact that no-one, but no-one, can get my 8-part Tea Time Theme Time, here are some extra clues. Any one of these would also work as a clue to the puzzle I gave earlier...

Love Plus One - Haircut 100
Favourite Shirt - Haircut 100
Sawan Ma Kahina - Milan
Party Party- Elvis Costello
Cars - Gary Numan
Wherever I Lay My Hat That's My Home - Paul Young
The Lovecats - The Cure
Song For Whoever - Beautiful South

Come on. You must get it now.

And the answers are:

1) My Love, my shirt, Milan, this party, my car, my hat, my cat and this song are the 8 things that Right Said Fred are Too Sexy for.

2) Scott (Walker), Virgil (who wrote the Aenid), John (Wayne), Gordon (is a moron in Jilted John), and Alan (O'Day) are the various pilots and crew of the car that The Beach Boys will have Fun Fun Fun until her father takes it away - the T Bird, or Thunderbird.

3) Dave (Clark), (Kiki) Dee, Doe-si (doe your partner), (Captain) Beaky, Mick (Jones) and, er, Teach (In) had a number one with The Legend Of Xanadu in 1968.

4) Cousin Norman has a stammer like a hammer, you can't understand a w-w-word he says; Why don't you just f-f-f-f-fade away?; B-b-b-b-baby you just ain't seen nothing yet. All songs have a mock stammer in them.

Official DONALD TRUMP IN COMICS BY KIDS calendar for 2018 on sale now. 

The Official Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass calendar is on sale now
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

How to Draw Roger The Dodger - Beano video

I filmed this at The Beano's studios in London back in April, and it's been on Youtube since July, but I've only just found it. So let us all enjoy it together. It's me showing how I draw Roger The Dodger.

There's a whole series of these online, by such much-more-notable Beano artists than me, as Nigel Parkinson and Laura Howell, and jolly good fun they are too.

Of course my Roger doesn't look like anyone else's Roger, and I've not drawn him in anything since the 2009 Beano annual when I did Roger The Dodger's Reservoir Dodge, but it was nice to be asked, and an honour to be included.

The kids in school suggest I should do more Youtube tutorials, but I'm not sure how worthwhile it would be. I certainly don't want to give away all the tricks I use in my Comic Art Masterclasses, cos if everyone watched them online then I'd never get a laugh from them in class again.

If you'd like to see online tutorials, do please ask. You never know, it's not too late for me to become some kind of cross between Zoella and Bob Ross. (Or, indeed, Rolf Harris, who we don't mentione so much these days for some reason).

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here
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