Saturday, April 20, 2019

Costume design in Doctor Who

The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition focuses on costume design - an often neglected aspect of a series that has otherwise been studied exhaustively.

Running through the special is a decade-by-decade history of costume in the series written by Piers Britton, co-author of the seminal academic study Reading between Designs: Visual Imagery and the Generation of Meaning in The Avengers, The Prisoner and Doctor Who (2003), and its full of gems like the way Sandra Reid had to find plausible ways to put companions from Earth's past into more contemporary clothes.
"Her solution for Victoria, in the character's second serial, The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967), was especially clever. Details of Victoria's original crinoline, with its ruffled bodice, were echoed in a demurely knee-skimming mini-dress, made from a very similar sprigged material but embellished with knife pleats, rather than ruffles, running from shoulder to belt." (p. 8)
The special also includes interviews with costume designers and actors from the series. I spoke to four of the Doctor's travelling companions from contemporary Earth: Anneke Wills (Polly, 1966-7); Katy Manning (Josephine Grant, 1971-3, 2010); Sophie Aldred (Ace, 1987-9); Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri, 2005-6, 2008, 2010). I also spoke to fan Tim Wearing, who happens to own his favourite costume from all of Doctor Who.

This all dovetails with my ongoing work for the Doctor Who Figurine Collection, where I'm writing 1,200 words for each of the characters I'm assigned from the whole history of the series - as well as longer pieces for the Companion Set issues focused on Doctors and their companions. Here's a list of the issues of Doctor Who Figurine Collection I've written.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Pinball Effect, by James Burke

Rowland Hill, inventor of the postage stamp, uncovered a parliamentary scandal:
“For several years, at his own expense, Hill investigated the postal system. In the course of these inquiries, he found that government officials and members of Parliament were using their free franking privileges to send private packages through the mail. Some of the less-conventional contents included a pair of hounds, a cow, some sides of bacon, two maidservants and a piano. These and other fraudulent postal practices were costing the British Treasury the princely sum of a million pounds a year.”
This magnificent detail comes from page 14 of The Pinball Effect, or How the Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible – and Other Journeys Through Knowledge, a 1996 book by the science historian James Burke. The premise is familiar from his other work, ranging from the 1978 TV series Connections to this year's Web of Knowledge for Radio 4: following connections through the history of multiple disciplines to show the unexpected ways in which things change.

In his introduction to The Pinball Effect, Burke refers to the Internet - capitalised because in 1996 it was still a neat, new idea - and the way interconnectedness will change how we think about knowledge and educaton.
“In the near future it will be necessary for everybody to be able to use this information superhighway with the same casual familiarity with which we approach books, newspapers and television. Electronic information sources will become as ubiquitous in our future landscape as the telephone is today.” (p. 5) 
That prediction has turned out to be right, of course, but I'll return to something that Burke missed. For the present, it seems that the Internet inspired the format of The Pinball Effect. In the margins of most pages are a series of three numbers, one of 314 "gateways" in the 286 pages that can jump you backward or forward through the text. The idea is you don't - only, anyway - read the book sequentially but hop about following threads.

It's embedding a book with hyperlinks, though Burke's gateways can appear mid-sentence, diverting us mid-thought to some new thread or insight. Even so, the effect is like following links deeper and deeper into Wikipedia - which wasn't created until 2001, five years after this book. Burke's book is from the same year as Geoff Ryman's 253 website (published as a book two years later). It also reminds me of the CD-rom Oliver Postage produced (with assistance from my mate Mark Wyman) to accompany the 2001 paperback edition of his autobiography, Seeing Things. That CD-rom offers the text of printed book riddled with embedded links to additional content in different media (including a chance to hear the author say the word "fuck"). All three titles attempt to apply the innovations of the Web to the traditional printed word.

So, Burke is attempting to embody change as well as to chart it, making a plea on the last page of the book that the form is crucial to understanding the content:
"I hope the reader will try the exercise [of using a gateway] at least once, to get a feel of the crazy way the pinball of change works its magic, bouncing here and there across time and space. There is no single, correct pathway on the web [of knowledge], or in life. Mistrust anybody who tells you so." (p. 286) 
Again, I'll return to that last sentence, but first the content.

Burke's history of change is dizzying, lively and full of fun detail. He delights in the odd and unexpected, especially when a consequence is felt in an entirely different field. For example, there's the massive increase in coal consumption in the 19th century to feed the expanding railroads. A by-product of the coal-coking process was coal gas, and a use was quickly found for this waste product: burning it for light.
“The new gaslight stimulated more leisure time reading in general and triggered the birth of the evening class (and unintentionally, perhaps, was the genesis of the educated, professional woman).” (p. 29) 
I particularly enjoyed learning that celluloid - and thus the consequent film industry - was developed by John and Isiah Hyatt as an alternative to ivory (p. 38), and had never heard before of the Port Royal experiment (p. 71). I've previously written about the history of cybernetics, but hadn't connected that Norbert Wiener - who coined the term - was pioneering systems to help anti-aircraft artillery.
“In 1944 the new system [based on Wiener and Bigelow's algorithms] first appeared in the form of the M-9 predictor: and during the first weeks of its use against incoming V-1 missile targets along the English Channel, it was a resounding success. In the first week of the final month of German missile attacks, 24 percent of the targets were destroyed. On the last day of missile raids, in which 104 rockets were launched, 68 were destroyed by Wiener’s cybernetically controlled guns. Britain was saved.” (p. 90)
Speaking of artillery, Burke explains how Napoleon used smaller, more standardised cannons to make his horse-drawn artillery much more agile and effective. From this, we're told that in 1799 Napoleon led his army through Switzerland on his way to battle the Austrians - but some of the Swiss objected. A battle in the canton of Unterwalden left lots of Swiss dead, and the resulting orphans were taken in by a former farmer and novelist (he failed in both lines) called Pestalozzi.

With no money for books or equipment, Pestalozzi developed a radical new kind of schooling for his charges, which he wrote up in the 1801 textbook, How Gertrude Teaches Children: An Attempt to Give Directions to Mothers How to Instruct Children. Burke's summary makes it sound very progressive: all about independence and hard work, the children teaching each other from direct experience. It's fascinating in itself.

But years before, in 1797, Pestalozzi had met and become friends with a German academic, Johann Fridrich Herbart, who in 1809 (Burke says "by 1808", but checking elsewhere suggests otherwise) succeeded Kant in the chair of philosophy at the University of K√∂nigsberg. This made him an influential advocate of Pestalozzi's theories on teaching. In Pestalozzi’s ABC of Observation, Herbart extended his friends ideas by looking at how learning from experience modifies and moulds a person, forming personality. The "apperceptive mass" of experience is how the individual understands the world. Any subsequent experience is either similar to previous experience and at one with the existing mass, or it is different and so crosses what Herbart called the "threshold of consciousness" to be recognised as new.
“Herbart thus established the formative nature of this threshold and effectively turned psychology into a science.” (p. 254)
There's something extraordinary in the science of psychology emerging as a by-product of Napoleon's campaigns - though I now need to return to what Burke didn't spot about the way we (would) use knowledge on the Internet.

Burke's "select biography" runs to six pages, and is full of fascinating-looking books. But The Pinball Effect has no footnotes or endnotes with which we can check the provenance of his ideas and interpretations. We must take Burke at his word as authority. As Wikipedia would say, "Citation needed." In fact, my seven year-old son will repeat by rote the lesson drummed into him at school: because anybody can change Wikipedia, it's a useful starting point for finding things out but you have to check everything claimed.

On the last page of The Pinball Effect, Burke almost acknowledges this issue of authority - as we've already seen.
"There is no single, correct pathway on the web, or in life. Mistrust anybody who tells you so." (p. 286) 
He's so nearly there, but the change isn't quite what he expected.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Noughts & Crosses, by Malorie Blackman

This, the first in a series of acclaimed young adult novels, is set in a segregated world very like our own but where white people are an oppressed underclass. 

I've seen something like this before. It was done in Fable, a 1965 episode of the BBC's anthology series, The Wednesday Play. There's also something of the same idea in MP Enoch Powell's notorious 1968 speech where he quoted one of his consituents - "a decent, ordinary fellow Englishman," according to Powell - who was convinced that, "In this country in fifteen or twenty years time, the black man will have the whip hand over the white man."

Fable and that speech were responses to legislation on race relations being put through Parliament at the time, but Blackman's novel is less about specific policy as it is about showing how privilege and prejudice shape the way we see the world.

We alternate between chapters narrated by rich black girl Sephy, whose racist dad is high-up in the government, and chapters narrated by Sephy's friend Callum, who is white. At the start of the novel, Callum has - with Sephy's help - passed an exam to be allowed to go to school, where he'll be one of a handful of white students. On his first day, there are protests outside the school to prevent him getting in. We follow Sephy and Callum through their school days and beyond, as they become ever more politicised by the unjustice and cruelty of their world - and face inevitable doom. 

Blackman makes the unfolding tragedy utterly devastating. We often see the same event first through the eyes of one of our narrators, and then completely differently when viewed by the other. We understand their disagreements and fights from each perspective, and continually learn why other characters behave in what seem mean and spiteful ways. Most haunting, I think, are the handful of characters struggling against insurmountable odds to change, to improve, the system. 

Along the way, the plot covers alcoholism, terrorism, violence and totalitarianism - in appropriate terms for the young adult reader, but not shying away from the moral dilemmas or profound questions involved. Blackman unfolds the story in short, emotive chapters, the prose immediate and straight forward. But the simplicity is deceptive: this is a rich, powerful and affecting novel. It underlines, too, that half a century after that race relations legislation was passed, there is still a long way to go.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Doctor Who Magazine 537

Doctor Who Magazine #537 is in shops from tomorrow, and includes my interview with Samuel Oatley, the actor who played terrifying teeth monster Tzim-Sha - or Tim Shaw - in last year's The Woman Who Fell to Earth and The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Moon - A celebration of our celestial neighbour

In July it will be 50 years since the first crewed landing on the Moon and this book accompanies the forthcoming major exhibition at Royal Museums Greenwich - where I did my GCSE in astronomy all those years ago. Full blurb as follows:
Official publication for the Royal Museums Greenwich major exhibition The Moon, marking the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s ‘small step’, with the Apollo 11 Moon landing. Written by the Royal Observatory’s leading astronomers and moon experts, this landmark work explores humankind’s fascination with our only natural satellite.

Highly illustrated with 180 fascinating colour and black and white photographs this book is a treasure trove for all amateur and professional Moon watchers.

Sections include:

A constant companion

Learn how we started to observe the Moon, how we used it to mark time and navigate, how lunar lore developed across the world, how the Chinese developed calendars and predicted eclipses. See how the Moon has influenced African art, and also acted as a muse for artists in other parts of the world in a variety of media.

Through the lens

Once the telescope was invented the Moon was observed, drawn and mapped and highly detailed artworks were also created. When photography came along the Moon was an early target until we eventually landed on the Moon surface in July 1969, 50 years ago. Today we can process images of the Moon to show it in extraordinary colour.

Destination moon

We have travelled to the Moon in stories for a long time, using fantastical machines and strange substances. When film arrived we transferred the stories to that medium and the space race was on long before we ever made it in person.

Nevertheless, we have satarized our satellite, we have reported fantastical events in our newspapers and artists have used it as a subject in many different styles of artwork. The Moon and space programmes have also influenced fashion, toys and culture.

For all mankind?

Scientists have investigated what it is made of, how its craters were formed and its origin and great steps have been taken since the Moon landings. Meantime in cinema and television Moon topics continue to appear. Poets have long been influenced by it and this continues today, science fiction is still flourishing. Artists also continue to use new media such as video and others have created a series of works. The Moon has not escaped geopolitics with various treaties being signed in relation to space debris.

Friday, March 08, 2019

The Once and Future King, by TH White

This extraordinary, sprawling retelling of the Arthurian legend (especially Malory's version) was written between 1936 and 1942, in the run-up to and during the Second World War. It directly refers to the Austrian agitator threatening Britain at the time it was written, and the black-shirts and Fascism at home. With Brexit looming, and portents of national catastrophe, its time has surely come again.

The version I read was first published in 1977, more than a decade after White's death. It comprises five novels, four of them published during his lifetime in forms he then revised. In fact, the last book ends with White addressing the myriad ways Arthur's story has been told through the ages, the warping of the legend to suit different ends.

It all begins with The Sword in the Stone, originally published in 1938. As in the Disney film from 1963, an awkward boy called Wart is schooled by the eccentric wizard Merlyn, whose lessons involve being transformed into various kinds of animal. This Merlyn is brilliantly conjured, at once wise and ridiculous. The delightful conceit is that he's living his life backwards through time, hence his knowledge of events to come - all a bit mixed up because he's so many centuries old.

Merlyn schools Wart - and sometimes his adopted brother Kay - and much of that education is based on a deep love of the natural world. Clues here and later in the book suggested Merlyn might once have been a school teacher in his youth, ie in the 20th century, and that suggests White modelled him on himself. The back of this edition has JK Rowling calling it "Harry's spiritual ancestor", and it's easy to see the influence of White's Merlyn on not just Albus Dumbledore but the whole wizarding world around him. There's the same silliness and sorrow, the incongruity of everyday objects and a long-suffering owl.

Surely the influence is wider than that. Gandalf - first seen in The Hobbit published in 1937 - seems to have been a simultaneous creation rather than one being inspired by the other. But the notable difference, I thought reading this, was how funny Merlyn is from the off. Gandalf is more grave and portentous. In the book of The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), he insists on making Hobbit children wait until Bilbo's birthday before he unleashes his fireworks. In the 2001 film version, the more amenable version played by Ian McKellen sets off a few early, and is clumsy and smokes too much weed. I wonder if the screen version owes something to White's Merlyn. Perhaps there's something of Merlyn in Catweazel, another "scientist" of the Middle-Ages. And surely he's there in what I consider the definitive Merlin, played by the great Nicol Williamson in Excalibur (1981). When he falls over in the river or whispers advice to a horse, there's the ghost of White.

Wart enjoys amiable enough adventures under Merlyn's tutelage. The mythic, English past is full of dangers - at one point, Wart is out in the woods and someone shoots at him with arrows for reasons that are never explained. I was also confused about when the novel is set, but towards the end of this first instalment, the king dies and we're given his dates: "Uther the Conqueror, 1066 to 1216" (p. 216). That over-writes the Houses of Normandy, Blois and Anjou - though White makes various references to some of those canonical kings, too. He clearly delights in none of it mattering, as he demonstrates when addressing the reader a few pages later:

"Perhaps, if you happen not to have lived in the Old England of the twelfth century, or whenever it was..." (p. 222). 

In other versions of Arthur's story, the death of the apparently heirless Uther leaves England without a king and, thus, facing crisis. White has already included other kings in his story, such as Wart's friend King Pellinore, but he also seems rather wary of this king business altogether.
"They [the people] were sick of the anarchy which had been their portion under Uther Pendragon: sick of overlords and feudal giants, of knights who did what they pleased, of racial discrimination, and of the rule of might as Right." (p. 230).
The idea seems to be that through his studies of - and living within - nature, Wart can be something different, even the animals recognising his majesty as King Arthur.

The Witch in the Wood, first published in 1939, follows the early struggles of the new King.
"Arthur was a young man, just on the theshold of life. He had fair hair and a stupid face, or at any rate there was a lack of cunning in it. It was an open face, with kind eyes and a reliable or faithful expression, as though he were a good learner who enjoyed being alive and did not believe in original sin. He had never been unjustly treated, for one thing, so he was kindly to other people." (p. 244).
That made me think of Peter Davison's Doctor Who, described by writer Terrance Dicks in his novelisations as having a "pleasant, open face." But it's odd to read this description of the guileless Arthur so soon after The Sword in the Stone because he was unjustly treated - and repeatedly - by his foster brother, Kay. Kay teases Arthur about his parentage, leaves him to deal with a wayward hawk that Kay himself unleashed, and lies about taking the sword from the stone himself.

More perintently, that disbelieve in original sin reads here like a noble quality in the boyish king. But  biographer Sylvia Warner Townsend explains in her afterword that White was inspired to write the story by a rereading of Mallory (on which he'd already earned a First Class with Distinction in English). As she says, "The note in which he summarized his findings may be his first step towards The Once and Future King:
'The whole Arthurian story is a regular greek doom, comparable to that of Oriestes.'" (p. 847) 
But the warring factions are more than Arthur being punished for the sins of his father. White speaks often of "racial discrimination", meaning differences between the English and the Celts (in Ireland and Scotland) - though he uses several different terms to describe the two groups. The chief antagonists are Arthur's wider family based in Orkney - his half sister, with whom he unwittingly has a son.

Merlyn has little time for such squabbling. When asked about the reasons for the present conflict, he lists a number of intermingling causes, and then makes his conclusion:
"The present revolt ... is a process of disintegration. They want to smash up what we may call the United Kingdom into a lot of piffling little kingdoms of their own. That is why their reason is not what you might call a good one." 
He then goes on:
"I never could stomach these nationalists ... The destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of spearate trees." (p. 256)
From this, he delivers a vehement anti-war lecture - and remember that Merlyn lives backwards, so was "young" in the future, ie at the time White was writing.
"When I was a young man ... there was a general idea that it was wrong to fight in wars of any sort. Quite a lot of people in those days declared that they would never fight for annything whatever." (p. 257)
He concludes that war can only be justified to curb other war-makers, a conscientious objector (as White was) accepting the moral argument for battling the Nazis - even if not part of that battle himself.

This discussion, for all it seems to allow White a soapbox, is about making Arthur think harder about the sort of king he will be, and the kind of regime he'll endeavour to instil. White is playful about the fact Merlyn is about to leave the story, destined to be imprisoned in Cornwall by the woman he loves. Yet Merlyn's last lesson is serious.
"You have become king of a domain in which the popular agitators hate each other for racial reasons, while the nobility fight each other for fun, and neither the racial maniac nor the overlord stops to consider the lot of the common soldier, who is the person that gets hurt. Unless you can make the world wag better than it does at present, King, your reign will be an endless series of petty battles, in which the aggressions will either be from spiteful reasons or from sporting ones, and in which the poor man will be the only one who dies." (p. 261)
Arthur comes to his own conclusion: that might is not right, and he must use his power - his privilege as king - to protect the oppressed. The code of chivalry, the equality represented by the famous Round Table, are all then a stand against Fascism. White makes that clear in the last pages of this book, referring directly to "an Austrian" who embodies all the things Arthur stands against. Merlyn, the wizard of old, pagan magic, even invokes Christianity to underline his point.
"Jesus did not turn the disciples into storm troopers, burn down the Temple of Jerusalem, and fix the blame on Pontius Pilate. On the contrary, he made it clear that the business of the philosophers was to make ideas available, and not to impose them on people." (p. 297)
It won't be easy. We already know Arthur and his knights will struggle to live up to the principles of Camelot. White is writing tragedy in the traditions of the ancient Greeks, but I was also struck by how much Arthur has set an impossible task. Gawaine, for example, is one of the better knights, the one to forge links between Arthur and the rabble-rousing lot in Orkney. But Gawaine is also impulsive, and violent.
"It was curious that when he was in one of these black passions he seemed to pass out of human life. In later days he even killed women, when he had been worked into such a state - though he regretted it bitterly afterwards." (p. 307)
Its an England of toxic masculinity, fragmenting on nationalist lines. For all the beauty of Arthur's noble ideas, the sense is of darkening skies.

First published in 1940, The Ill-Made Knight then switches perspective to follow the life of Sir Lancelot, from a child in awe of the new king to his most illustrious champion. Of course, the main part of this is the forbidden love between Lancelot and Arthur's queen, Guenever, which White really makes us feel. Just as it's easy to see Merlyn as a version of White, it's all too tempting to read into the moral quandary of this love affair something of White's own personal life. In her biography of White, Townsend Warner quotes from his diary, where White admits falling in love with a boy he refers to as "Zed": "All I can do is behave like a gentleman."

Whatever the case, there's perhaps more of a sense of the kind of teacher White was, or how his pupils responded to him, in the edication of Lancelot by his gruff uncle:
"Sometimes Uncle Dap was tantalized into beating him, but he bore that also. In those days they did." (p. 363).
There's no sense given of what Lancelot might have done to warrant these beatings - the feeling given is rather that Dip hit him anyway. And the implication is surely not that Lancelot grew up in a crueler period of history, that White and his contemporaries knew better than to beat children. Surely the implication is that the children of White's time no longer put up with it in silence.

There's more on the conflict between children and their elders later in the book when, shockingly, Arthur's half-sister is murdered by her own sons. They catch their old mum with a much younger man. White namechecks Freud elsewhere in the book, and doesn't shy away from the implications here.
"The murder of Queen Morgause had not been done on purpose. Agravaine had done it on the spur of the moment - in his outraged passion, he said - but they knew by instinct that it was from jealousy."(p. 484) 
The Candle in the Wind was the last instalment published in White's lifetime - in 1958 - and feels like a definite end to the story and the legend. We're still with the ongoing intrigue between Lancelot and Guenever, but now there's much more about Mordred - Arthur's son with his half-sister. Mordred is a fascist, he and his followers dressed all in black with a distinctive red logo. It's painful stuff, watching him needle and poison and spoil things, and force Arthur - who is sworn to abide by his own laws - to banish Lancelot and send Guenever to be burned at the stake. It's never spelled out, but it seems as if Mordred also murders his own brothers, who have gone to stand against Lancelot but without armour on, to frame the most-noble knight.

This is where the tragedy really sets in, and again it's as much about the world in which White was writing as it is the distant past - a cloud descending on England and threatening to blot it out. It's gripping, as Lancelot walks headlong into a trap, and full of moral quandaries and situations from which we can't possibly see how our heroes might escape. But I also liked the peppering of details from the period, White delighting in its riches and strangeness.
"In Silvester the Second, a famous magician ascended the papal throne, although he was notorious for having invented the pendulum clock." (p. 601) 
He goes on to list other great "scientists" of the age: Albert the Great, Friar Bacon, Raymond Lully, Baptista Porta who "seems to have invented the cinema", according to White (p. 603), and the monk Aethelmaer who dabbled in aircraft.

The book ends with Arthur going out to meet his destiny in a final battle with Mordred, just an ordinary old man going to war rather than all the magic and legend. The candle in the wind of the title is the idea Arthur has sparked - of valour, of equality, of justice. A small boy is sent away from the battle to spread the story, to share that flickering light. With that done, Arthur goes wearily to his fate. It's a powerful conclusion to an epic tale, and I can see why White's editors weren't quick to publish the fifth volume, though it had already been written.

The Book of Merlyn was first published as part of the collected The Once and Future King in 1977. It picks up from the end of the previous instalment with Arthur postponed from going to his doom by the return of Merlyn. There's no explanation for how Merlyn escaped his incarceration, or why he now feels that Arthur requires further schooling. Together, they meet many of the animals who helped educate young Wart and argue about what conclusions to draw.

It is odd. An editor's note tells us that White took passages from this - namely, Arthur's time with the totalitarian ants and with the utopian geese - and inserted them into later versions of The Sword in the Stone, including the version in this book. The repetition is jarring, but very little of The Book of Merlyn offers anything new. Merlyn is angry at the world, at humanity, but his arguments wander. At the heart of his argument are the geese, who Wart once spent a lifetime with and who seem to offer the same perfect way of being as the horses in Gulliver.

The key factor, for Wart and Merlyn and White, is that the geese are migratory and thus have no concept of national boundaries. That is why they never go to war, geese on geese, in the way so specific to humans.
"It is nationalism, the claims of small communities to parts of the indifferent earth as communal property, which is the curse of man." (p. 811)
At the end, Arthur still goes to his fate and White concludes by noting the different ways his story has been told over the centuries. He then signs off in the same manner as Malory. We leave with a pang for Arthur and his light, and for this eccentric author.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Doctor Who Magazine 536

The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine reveals a lost Dalek story from 1966 - in my feature on how Eric Laithwaite, professor of heavy electrical engineering at Imperial College, was nearly Doctor Who's first scientific advisor. I had a lovely time working with Dr Rupert Cole at the Science Museum to uncover the story.

The magazine also includes word of my latest effort for Big Finish, part of The Early Years box-set to be released in November:
"[In] The Home Front by Simon Guerrier, the Second Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon (both played by Frazer Hines) will reunite with Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben Jackson (Elliot Chapman) to face off against the Master (played by James Dreyfus)." 
ETA: In fact, it's called The Home Guard and there's a blurb up on the Big Finish site.