Can you hear radio broadcasts through your teeth?

Do you mean me specifically? If so, then the answer is ‘no’ I’m afraid. I must also say that given the state of pop music these days, I’m actually very glad of it!

So…Awkward question time: are you hearing radio broadcasts through your teeth mate?

Lol. Just kidding.

Whilst it sounds like utter nonsense, there have actually been quite a few reported cases of people ‘picking up’ radio broadcasts through their fillings/dental caps over the years.

Our oft-quoted friend Cecil Adams, of The Straight Dope.com, actually answered this question back in 1992. In his answer, Adams highlighted two particularly interesting case studies. I’ll reprint them here, along with a link to the site in question.

Case #1. George, of suburban Chicago, lost a front tooth at the age of 12. A year or so later, in about 1961, he was fitted with a cap that was attached to the tooth stump with what George recalls as a brass wire. Thereafter he began hearing music in his head, generally popular tunes of the day, usually while he was outdoors. The music was soft but distinct. He never heard an announcer’s voice or commercials and was unable to identify what radio station, if any, he was hearing. After a year or two of this a new dentist put in a cap without a wire and the tunes stopped.

Case #2. Lois, also of suburban Chicago, says it happened just once, in 1947, while she was riding a train from her home in Cleveland to college in Rhode Island at about age 18. The experience lasted maybe 10 minutes. She couldn’t tell what station she was listening to but recalls hearing commercials and an announcer’s voice. She has silver tooth fillings but doesn’t recall if she’d had one put in just before the event.

Actress Lucille Ball even claimed to have helped the allies by intercepting radio signals in this, frankly rather bizarre, way. This story is widely re-told and was even used as part of the plot of the musical ‘Something For The Boys’.

Adams goes on to mention a piece on Snopes.com about the incident, which appears to feature the testimony of the actress herself, who says,

“One night I came into the valley over Coldwater Canyon, and I heard music. I reached down to turn the radio off, and it wasn’t on. The music kept getting louder and louder and then I realized it was coming from my mouth. My mouth was humming and thumping with the drumbeat and I thought I was losing my mind”

According to the Snopes account, after she related this strange story to Buster Keaton, he told her that it had happened to a friend of his.

If you’re interested, here’s Lucille’s account of ‘catching’ the Japanese spies, which allegedly transpired about a week later.

“All of a sudden, my mouth started jumping. It wasn’t music this time, it was Morse code. It started softly and then DE-DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE-DE! As soon as it started fading, I stopped the car and then started backing up until it was coming in at full strength. DE-DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE-DE! I tell you, I got the hell out of there real quick. The next day, I told the MGM security office about it, and they called the FBI or something and sure enough, they found an underground Japanese radio station. It was somebody’s gardener, but sure enough, they were spies”

As entertaining as Lucille’s story is, Snopes could find no record of the event, which surely would have been heavily featured in the local, if not the national, news. A cover-up to prevent mass panic? Personally, I don’t think so, as Snopes goes on to mention a Japanese submarine being spotted off the coast of Santa Barbara on February 23rd 1942, which was obviously an extensively covered event.

A discussion on Skeptics Stack Exchange.com uncovers another major flaw in this story (and all others like it). The users suggest (rightly) that any radio signal must first be demodulated in order to make any sense at all. As far as I know, dental fillings have no demodulation circuits.

So, is it possible or not?

Probably not. A demodulation circuit is not and has never been a part of a dental filling’s mix-up.

There is some compelling ‘evidence’ out there, as well as a couple of cases that have been looked into somewhat scientifically and featured in various respected journals, but then again, according to certain statistics, 3.7 million Americans have been abducted by aliens. That alarming statistic, in and of itself, ought to be enough to make you skeptical of anything.

Workplace adjustments for employees with a hearing impairment

For employees with a hearing impairment, the presence of sound in the workplace can be a daily challenge and a source of frustration. Robin Christopherson looks at how employers can manage potential problems.

Wherever you work, and whatever your role, there is a strong chance that you are routinely bombarded by noise from a variety of different sources. Telephones ringing, printers whirring, music playing on the shop floor or the constant hum of colleagues talking in a open-plan office, the world of work is full of sound.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, around 17,000 employees in the UK experience deafness, ringing in the ears or other ear conditions caused by excessive noise at work.

Action on Hearing Loss estimates that at least 800,000 people in the UK are severely or profoundly deaf, but this is a small proportion of the 10 million people with some form of hearing loss, of which it estimates that 3.7 million are of working age. There are no exact figures on the numbers of people who use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate, but the estimate is around 50,000.

An employee’s hearing can be impaired in many ways; there is a whole spectrum of

hearing ability and there are lots of different causes of hearing loss, as well as a variety of possible implications in the workplace.

Types of hearing impairment include:

  • age-related;
  • temporary or permanent;
  • progressive; and
  • environmental factors.

Impacts of a hearing impairment

As hearing is not something we can “see”, it can be difficult to determine whether or not a colleague’s hearing is impaired. This can make it difficult for line managers to know who to help, and when.

In meetings, presentations, networking events or interviews, a hearing impairment could have an impact on an employee’s ability to do their job, if they are not properly supported or if the working environment is not inclusive of their needs.

There can also often be an emotional response to hearing loss, which impacts on the social and wellbeing of the employee. If you are unable to hear what colleagues are saying clearly, you might miss out on vital information needed for your role, or you might miss the latest bit of office banter, which makes you feel isolated and excluded, having a negative impact on morale.

Reasonable adjustments

Employees with a hearing impairment are protected under the Equality Act 2010 and employers are required to remove the barriers that deaf and other disabled people experience in the workplace. There are a number of different ways to ensure that an organisation is accommodating the needs of deaf or hearing-impaired employees.

Benefits of technology

We are all using technology in the workplace, without really thinking about it, as part of our day-to-day communications. How much of the information you share with colleagues or clients is via the phone, email, your intranet, website, a PowerPoint presentation or a short video? The answer is, of course, nearly all of it.

Technology can work as an enabler as well as a disabler. A message from your organisation’s CEO via video on your corporate intranet can be a really powerful way to communicate with your workforce, but if that video does not have subtitles or captions, you are excluding a proportion of your staff, not limited to those with a hearing impairment but also people whose first language is not English.

A variety of technologies can be used in the workplace to support employees with a hearing impairment. There are some specialist programs available that are specifically designed to support people with hearing loss, but many of the mainstream programs and equipment that your organisation already uses could also be adapted at little to no cost. They include:

  • text messaging, and email;
  • amplified sound alerts built into PCs;
  • a flashing screen on a mobile device when a sound alert is triggered;
  • bluetooth to connect to hearing aids;
  • captions for videos;
  • BSL on-demand services;
  • video calling for signing or lip-reading;
  • palentypists and stenographers; and
  • voice recognition speech-to-text software.

Sometimes the most effective adjustments are made by simply utilising existing resources in a different way. For example, if important company announcements are often given over a tannoy or PA system, which would be difficult or impossible for someone with a hearing impairment to hear, you could also issue the same message via email or text message.

There are also times when specialist adjustments, such as using a palentypist or BSL interpreter, need to be arranged. It is important that the individual employee gets the adjustment that they require, when they require it – because no two people with a hearing impairment are the same.

This article highlights the many advancements that have been made in the field of hearing protection at work, and ten years after the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force we should have completely eradicated high levels of noise or the need to control it into the workplace, the original of this article can be found here.

Do You Know What The Term 2 Way Radio Mean?

Basically, the name two-way radio means that the radio in question can both transmit and receive signals. The two-way part of the name refers to the sending and receiving of said messages.

Some radios, such as the AM or FM radio you might listen to in your car, can only receive incoming signals, whilst other radios can only transmit signals. A two-way radio, however, can both intercept incoming messages and relay outgoing messages, because of this; two-way radios are a type of transceiver.

At its most basic, a two-way radio is a device that receives radio waves through the air and transmits a return signal.

How it does this is actually rather ingenious. Let’s say a user receives a message on her radio. The antenna on the top of the radio houses a group of electrons, these electrons will respond to messages received on specific channels (different groups of electrons respond to different channels). The electrons will then translate the radio waves into electrical impulses, which are then fed to a small processor. The processor, in turn, converts the electrical impulses into a signal, which the radio’s speakers can then play aloud.

The process is reversed if our hypothetical user is replying to her message, in this instance, the vibrations that constitute her voice will rattle a small membrane inside the microphone. These vibrations are fed into the processor, which converts them into an electrical signal. The electrical signal is pushed out to the electrons in the antenna and the signal is broadcast to our other user.

So you see, the process is clearly working on a two-way basis, hence the name. Two radios, when set to the same channel, should never have any problem connecting with one another (even if they are manufactured by different brands). The communication is pretty much instant, which is a big reason why radios play such an integral part in many areas of our lives, such as travel, security, commerce, public safety and trade.

It is important to note, however, that a radio set to receive VHF (Very High Frequency) signals will be unable to communicate with a radio set to UHF (Ultra High Frequency) mode. There is virtually nothing at all that can be done about this.

Of course, the other name used for handheld transceivers in walkie-talkie, but we reckon that one’s pretty self-explanatory…

Motorola Solutions to buy UK’s Airwave for $1.24 billion

As this article shows, Motorola move closer to sealing the deal to supply the emergency services for the whole of the UK, this move seems to prove what we have been saying, as Airwave have a working relationship with the emergency services and a good majority of the equipment they use are Motorolas’ own products they are in an excellent position now.

Walkie-talkie and radio systems maker Motorola Solutions Inc said it would buy UK-based communications company Airwave Solutions Ltd for 817.5 million pounds ($1.24 billion) to beef up its services business.

Shares of Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola were up 3.4 percent in extended trading on Thursday.

Airwave, owned by a fund of Australia’s Macquarie Group Ltd, provides voice and data communications to more than 300 emergency and public service agencies in Great Britain.

Motorola’s sales have slipped as its major customers, which include police and fire departments as well as other government agencies, curtail budgets.

The company is trying to strengthen its services business – which provides communication services to governments, businesses and public safety agencies – to drive growth.

Activist investor ValueAct, Motorola’s largest shareholder, said last month the company’s shares were undervalued and that it would talk to its board about ways to enhance shareholder value.

Motorola Solutions said it plans to fund the purchase of Airwave, which has about 600 employees, with bank financing and cash on hand.

The deal is expected to add to adjusted earnings and free cash flow immediately after closing in the first quarter of 2016, Motorola said.

SwiftKey launches symbol-based communication app for people who are non-verbal

Any technology that can improve peoples lives is always a technology that will be championed by us here, and if it is helping people with learning or speech difficulties then that is more incentive for us to bring it to our readers. This is current available on the google store for android devices and we are stating now that this should be on apple devices as soon as possible, the original article can be found on the verge website.

SwiftKey, the predictive smartphone keyboard company, wants to help people who are non-verbal communicate with others. The company launched an experimental symbol-based assistive app today called SwiftKey Symbol, which it says can be used to build sentences using images. SwiftKey staff who have family members with autism spectrum disorder came up with the idea for the tool, according to the company’s blog.

The app, which is free and available on Android, makes use of SwiftKey’s predictive technology to suggest symbols that might be used to finish a sentence. Outside factors like the time of day or the day of the week will influence these predictions, the company says. Users can also add their own images and use audio playback to read out to sentence to others.

Symbol-based communication apps like this aren’t new. Apps like Proloqui2Go and TouchChat also rely on pictograms to build sentences. But these tools can be expensive, and SwitKey says that its own take on the assistive app will be able to form sentences faster than the competition. “A lot of the current communication tools on the market are often too slow to select a particular image a child might choose,” the company wrote on its blog. “We realized that SwiftKey’s core prediction and personalization technology — which learns from each individual as they use it — would be a natural fit for people on the autistic spectrum who respond particularly well to routine-based activity.”

In the US, about two in 100 children have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. People with autism have varied needs, so it’s possible that this app could enhance communication for some people. We haven’t tried the app yet — but we’re eager to see what it can do.

Bone conduction headphones let me ditch the boombox, but still cycle safe

Long bike rides are an easy way to burn calories without terrorizing your knees, but it helps to have some tunes to keep things fun. My rides usually take me through bustling urban streets and isolated stretches of waterfront, so pumping out a soundtrack using a Bluetooth speaker is usually a viable option — mostly, anyway. Unfortunately, the wind-dampened output is never ideal and a high audio volume can burn through battery life, and bringing a backup device adds weight. Luckily, the ideal solution recently crossed my desk: AfterShokz’s Bluez 2S bone-conduction headphones.

If you’re not familiar, this style of device delivers audio as sound vibrations to your inner ear through the bone, bypassing the eardrum entirely. I’d never regularly worn headphones while riding, mostly so I could remain aware of traffic and the world around me. (It’s also illegal to wear them while riding in New York City, at least in both ears.) I found the Bluez 2S struck the perfect balance between weight and audio output, while keeping situational awareness levels high. The experience is quite different from your traditional headphones, though, so they won’t be for everyone.

The AfterShokz Bluez 2S is a recent update to the Bluez 2 model, adding the new “PremiumPitch+” technology, which aims to boost the bottom end and prevent sound leakage, alongside slight changes to the external design. There are now perforated openings where the speakers rest on your cheek — before it was a solid surface. Even with this seemingly more exposed design, the Bluez 2S still meets IP55 standards for dust and sweat protection, which I successfully confirmed over an exceedingly hot and humid summer in NYC. The open speaker surface and revamped internals do indeed make a difference in audio quality and volume. It may not be profound, but it’s a noticeable improvement over its predecessor.

The arrival of the 2S dovetails with the announcement of the company’s sporty Trekz Titanium, which hit Indiegogo last month and quickly shot past its fundraising goal. Although we haven’t tested those yet, it’s easy to see the benefit from the Trekz’ flexible design. With the rigid U-shaped plastic band of the Bluez 2S that goes around the back of your head, you can imagine the potential for breaking while bouncing around in a bag. That said, I’ve had them packed in both full bags and jostling around in sparse ones, and nothing has happened to them in several months of use. Also, the headband does get in the way of sunglasses to a certain degree. Since the speakers work best when resting snugly against the cheek, I’ve had the arms of the glasses positioned above the band (outside just feels weird), which tends to tilt the glasses down and crowd my face a bit. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s certainly not a great pairing.

So how do they sound? First, you need to understand that this is an entirely different experience than regular headphones, with its own set of trade-offs. Music will sound a bit different with this type of technology. The overall sound may be a bit duller compared to your standard cans, but you’ll also get a pleasantly spacious head-feel when listening, which is hard to convey. Speech comes across clearly, but the low-end will be lacking in comparison. I frequently have the volume near maximum when I’m hustling on bustling city streets and feeling the music. In quieter environments, however, there’s more headroom in volume flexibility. The claim is that PremiumPitch+ helps increase bass, while dampening vibration and reducing sound leakage. The Bluez 2S may not be the loudest pair I’ve listened too — Damson’s Headbones still hold that title — but they provide plenty of kick without going overboard on the vibration.

It helps to be a glutton for aural stimulation with bone-conduction headphones. Unlike the isolating experience you get with in- or on-ear models, you get both music and ambient sound leaking in — which is part of the benefit for me. As long as you’re not rocking full volume, you can easily have conversations and hear cars approaching from behind, making it a flexible and safer option if music is a must while riding a bike. For the same reason, they’re great when you’re walking around the neighborhood, but the sound of a New York subway will certainly overpower your tunes.

On the hardware side, you get Bluetooth connectivity, a volume control rocker that doubles as a battery check and EQ changer, power and a multipurpose button on the left earpiece. Since I’m right-handed, the left-side button is perfect for me. It can pause/play music, skip tracks, redial the last phone number and take calls with its onboard mic. The battery life is rated at six hours of continuous play and 10 days of standby. Indeed, it’s great to find the headset charged after neglecting it for a week. It takes about two hours to charge up, but I’ve rarely drained the headset fully, so it seems to top off rather quickly for me. Bluetooth range is the standard 33 feet, letting you pair with a computer and wander around the kitchen or nearby room without stuttering. It stays paired with your last device though, so be sure to check it’s not still tied to the computer if you leave the house and don’t hear your tunes. Also, once paired, if the current track isn’t playing still, try skipping forward or back one.

As a comparison, I tested the Damson Headbones, a Kickstarted bone-conduction model from the UK. First, both models get points for awkward naming conventions. The Headbones do have a lot more features including a line-out for earbuds or as a passthrough for non-Bluetooth speakers. They have a bit more playtime at eight hours, APT-X and NFC support, and fold down into a rigid carrying case. As I mentioned, the audio volume is also significantly louder than the Bluez 2S.

This comes at a price, though: The Headbones are more than twice the weight, with a bulky portion that sits at the back of your neck to house the extra flourishes and battery power. Since I ride with a backpack, the hefty rear section bumped up against it making them difficult to wear. While it pumps out a beefier sound, I found the ear (actually cheek) pieces to be a bit too snug and at higher volumes the vibration was uncomfortable. They’re definitely a quality set of bone-conduction headphones, but didn’t mesh well with my needs and preferences.

The bottom line here is that while you’re not going to have the same audio experience as a standard set of headphones, the benefits of the Bluez 2S outweigh the negatives, at least for me in how I use them. I get a comfortable, lightweight wireless headset that provides tunes at a respectable volume, while still being able to maintain awareness about what’s going on around me — an ideal scenario for bike riding. The AfterShokz Bluez 2S is available for pre-order now for $100, while the Trekz Titanium version should arrive in January 2016 for $130.

Bone conduction technology has been around for many years in the walkie talkie accesory market, it has made a several appearances over the years in the leisure headset/earpiece industry, it is perfect for using whilst driving or cycling, like this article shows,  not having to talk into a mic is a massive plus for using this technology.

Perfectly Preserved Ice Age Lion Cub found in Siberia

Cancer affects millions of lives, possibly even more. Everybody knows somebody that has been forever hurt, either physically or emotionally, by this vicious, unforgiving ailment. Most of us know somebody who has lost their life to the disease.

Despite this, cancer survival rates are higher than ever before. In recent years, cancer treatment has improved rapidly, but a complete cure has always appeared to be just beyond reach, a tantalising Holy Grail of medical science. This month, however, an announcement was made that could have the potential to end all that.

The good news is that human trials could begin in as little as four years’ time. If those trials prove to be successful, then science will have made a major stride towards eradicating the disease completely.

A joint Dutch/Canadian team stumbled across this miraculous discovery whilst searching for ways to treat malaria in pregnant women.

According to the team, the carbohydrate that malaria attacks in the placenta is exactly the same as a carbohydrate present in cancer cells.

As Metro.co.uk reports, Ali Salanti from the University of Copenhagen said, “for decades, scientists have been searching for similarities between the growth of a placenta and a tumor (…) The placenta is an organ, which within a few months grows from only few cells into an organ weighing approx. two pounds, and it provides the embryo with oxygen and nourishment in a relatively foreign environment. (…) In a manner of speaking, tumors do much the same, they grow aggressively in a relatively foreign environment.”

Intrigued by this idea, the team tailored a special malaria protein to include a toxin designed to target cancerous cells. The cancer cells absorb the protein and are then in turn killed by the malaria virus. Theoretically, this idea is sound and experiments on mice with cancer have already begun.

It’s definitely early days yet, but the team are hopeful that this innovative new treatment could provide scientists with a valuable weapon in the fight against cancer. If the trials are successful, the potential benefits are simply staggering to consider. It just goes to show that no dream is too big to accomplish, provided we never stop believing that it’s possible. Imagine a world without cancer and perhaps, in time, we won’t have to.

He Couldn’t Hack It… Facebook Hacker Faces Prison Term & $250,000 Fine

It’s happened to everyone. You log on to your Facebook account and get a private message from someone you know, it could be an old schoolteacher, your mother, or someone pretty you met on a night out. You open the message, and all you can see is that dreaded blue hyperlink. You groan, roll your eyes and write a message informing them that they’ve been hacked…

If you can relate to this experience, then you can probably relate to the experience of actually being hacked as well. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing, invasive and extremely annoying, since you have to run all sorts of computer checks/clean-ups and change all your passwords as well.

Hacking of this kind can also be dangerous, if you click the blue link for any reason, then you’re potentially delivering yourself into a world of virtual hurt.

Now, with everyone and their tech-retarded grannies signing up to Facebook, hacking has become far more prevalent, a way of robbing people blind without even looking them in the eye while you do it.

This week, BBC News reported that a New Yorker named Eric Crocker, who used the alias Phastman to commit his virtual crimes, has admitted to hijacking more than 77,000 Facebook accounts as part of a vast network of money making schemes.

The court heard how he and his cohorts took over the accounts of unsuspecting Facebook users and used them to send junk emails to other accounts, thus hacking them as well.

Using the Facebook Spreader tool, Crocker received $300 (£191) for every 10,000 computers he infiltrated.

Mr. Crocker was one of 70 people arrested across 20 countries, thanks to evidence gathered by the FBI’s (very coolly-named) Operation Shrouded Horizon, an initiative aimed at the prevention of virtual crime.

Crocker and the other suspects were members of an invitation only, password-protected forum called Darkode, which boasted between 250-300 members at any given time.

Hackers used the site to buy, sell or swap malware, stolen personal details, credit card information, hacked server credentials and other pieces of data and software commonly used in worldwide cyber crime.

In order to join the site, unethical hackers like Mr. Crocker had to be sponsored by an existing member, they were then heavily vetted to ensure that they were who they said they were. Finally, prospective members had to submit a resume describing their previous criminal activities, which also detailed their skills and suggested ways in which they could contribute to the illegal activities planned by the site. If selected as members, the FBI reports, these hackers would then aid other cyber criminals in their illicit endeavours.

FBI operatives, as well as their counterparts in 20 other countries, infiltrated the site “at the highest levels”, gathering enough information to aid in the arrest of Mr. Crocker and his affiliates.

Crocker eventually pleaded guilty to the charges of violating anti-spam laws and the abuse of Internet connections. He will be sentenced in November, when he will likely be facing up to three years in prison, a $250,000 (£160,000) fine, or both.

Although these arrests are proof that the governments of the world are wising up to cyber crime, please bear in mind that these people, and others like them, are still out there, skulking in the shadows of cyberspace and plotting their next attack. Be vigilant at ALL times…

Do You Know What The Term Two Way Radio Mean?

Basically, the name two-way radio means that the radio in question can both transmit and receive signals. The two-way part of the name refers to the sending and receiving of said messages.

Some radios, such as the AM or FM radio you might listen to in your car, can only receive incoming signals, whilst other radios can only transmit signals. A two-way radio, however, can both intercept incoming messages and relay outgoing messages, because of this; two-way radios are a type of transceiver.

At its most basic, a two-way radio is a device that receives radio waves through the air and transmits a return signal.

How it does this is actually rather ingenious. Let’s say a user receives a message on her radio. The antenna on the top of the radio houses a group of electrons, these electrons will respond to messages received on specific channels (different groups of electrons respond to different channels). The electrons will then translate the radio waves into electrical impulses, which are then fed to a small processor. The processor, in turn, converts the electrical impulses into a signal, which the radio’s speakers can then play aloud.

The process is reversed if our hypothetical user is replying to her message, in this instance, the vibrations that constitute her voice will rattle a small membrane inside the microphone. These vibrations are fed into the processor, which converts them into an electrical signal. The electrical signal is pushed out to the electrons in the antenna and the signal is broadcast to our other user.

So you see, the process is clearly working on a two-way basis, hence the name. Two radios, when set to the same channel, should never have any problem connecting with one another (even if they are manufactured by different brands). The communication is pretty much instant, which is a big reason why radios play such an integral part in many areas of our lives, such as travel, security, commerce, public safety and trade.

It is important to note, however, that a radio set to receive VHF (Very High Frequency) signals will be unable to communicate with a radio set to UHF (Ultra High Frequency) mode. There is virtually nothing at all that can be done about this.

Of course, the other name used for handheld transceivers in walkie-talkie, but we reckon that one’s pretty self-explanatory…

Steven Moffat Reveals Plot of Every Upcoming Doctor Who Episode…Well, Almost

BE WARNED: There are some MAJOR spoilers in this article, so, if like Seinfeld’s Frank Costanza, you “like to go in fresh!” then you should stop reading here and go read something else.

Go on. We’re all waiting.

Thank you.

Now, as the three-nippled fortune-teller in Mallrats once quipped, “you guys still in? Good”

You don’t need a working TARDIS in order to be up on Doctor Who Series 9, it seems. This month, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat gave an exclusive (and very revealing) interview to SFX magazine, whereby he gave non-spoiler-phobes a pretty detailed run-down of each and every upcoming episode – and it looks like we fans have got a pretty fun twelve weeks ahead of us!

So, here goes…

Episodes 1 & 2

“This is the opening two-parter. It features lots of Daleks and this time we mean it! Clara receives a mysterious summons and has to team up with Missy to search for the Doctor in a very, very old place.”

There have been a lot of rumors going around about this two-part story. Some have speculated that it is going to be a spiritual sequel to the 1975 classic Genesis of the Daleks starring Tom Baker, with The Doctor visiting Davros childhood. Some of these claims have been refuted since then, but at least we know that the part about Daleks is true.

PS: Don’t be surprised if we see The Karn Sisterhood in this story.

Episodes 3 & 4

“This two-parter is written by Toby Whithouse and features an underwater base plagued by creeping ghosts and an island that is about to be submerged in water. But who or what is doing this and how can the Doctor stop it? It’s very scary, atmospheric and claustrophobic, much like some classic episodes.”

This sounds like a love letter of sorts to the popular base under siege concept that was regularly used during the cash-strapped Patrick Troughton era of the show (1966 – 1969). The idea gave us some wonderful stories/monsters and often yielded strong, memorable performances from the actors involved, here’s hoping for more of the same.

Episodes 5 & 6

“Those two are exceptional! Doctor Who meets Game of Thrones! Well, only because Maisie Williams is in them. The first part features Vikings fighting mercenary robots (and a dragon!) and the second one sees a group of Highwaymen dealing with a Norse god”.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Doctor Who cashed in on the popularity of a big-selling American TV show or movie. With both Vikings and Game of Thrones experiencing huge levels of fan-devotion right now, it seems to make sense. The leaked on-set photos from this two-parter were visually stunning, so they should make for an interesting couple of nights in front of the telly at least!

Episodes 7 & 8

“This one is written by Peter Harness and Day of the Doctor acted as a prologue to it. In it, the Zygons made peace with the Humans, but not every Zygon decided it was okay so theyve been raising an army, silently and now they’re rising against UNIT! We’ve been planning this forever and Osgood is in it! But how is that possible you’d ask? Missy killed her! Who knows? Well, we know.”

Zygons! Zygons! Zygons! Ever since Tom Baker’s shape-shifting adversaries decided to let Zygons be Zygons in the 50th anniversary special, I’ve been anxiously awaiting their return. Lets face it; we all knew they’d be back. Zygons Vs. UNIT? Bring it ooooon!

Episode 9

“This is a very unique Doctor Who story from Mark Gatiss. It wasn’t possible to do such an episode ten years ago, when the show came back and Mark has been rewriting it over and over again to make it perfect. It’s a beautiful story, very eerie and special, I think it’s going to be an instant classic.”

Mark Gatiss is the only writer other than Steven Moffat to have written for every incarnation of The Doctor in the revived series. However, Series 8’s Robot of Sherwood was undoubtedly the season’s lowest point, so let’s hope he does a little bit better this time around.

Episode 10

“An episode which leapt out as “why haven’t we done this already? This is so Doctor Who we should be doing this immediately”. And when Sarah Dollard walked in with the finalised script, it was even better! Really, this is going to be a fan-favorite, everyone will want to re-watch it.”

Ooooh, cryptic! No idea about this one. Dollard has written for the popular BBC shows Being Human and Primeval, but she also wrote for Merlin (which personally, I hated) and, um, Neighbors. I guess we’ll all just have to watch it and see!

Episode 11 & 12 (Finale)

“A challenge. I won’t say anything else because it would be too spoilery, but when you’ll watch it, you’re going to ask how exactly the Doctor and Clara are going to pull it off.”

 Moffat has struggled with ambitious concepts before, often leaving story strands frustratingly loose and occasionally overlooking some mammoth plot-holes in the process (Asylum of the Daleks, anyone?). However, he is maybe the top sci-fi screenwriter in the world right now – and when he’s on top form, nobody can touch him.

The finale of Series 8 was a big, bold concept, which, while it may have been a little unwieldy for its own good, certainly provided more than enough bang for your entertainment buck. Will Series 9’s climax offer as much? We’ll have to wait and see.

Overall, this series sounds absolutely cracking. Moffat comes off in these soundbytes as energized, excited and optimistic (always a good sign) and Peter Capaldi has proved to be an excellent Doctor so far, so my hopes for Series 9 are certainly high.

In addition, a return to the cliffhanger endings that were such a big part of the series’ classic run should have the effect of allowing the writers a chance to better pace their stories (thus eliminating some of the anti-climactic endings that plagued Series 7), as well as encouraging stronger viewing figures throughout the run of the series (as opposed to just the opener and finale episodes).

Furthermore, the apparent increase in two-part stories should hopefully serve to weed out some of the lesser story concepts and overly gimmicky premises that might otherwise make it to production (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, to cite just one example), placing a stronger emphasis on the best concepts and allowing the cream of the ideas to rise to the top, as it were.

The beauty of Doctor Who, of course, is that whilst other shows in their ninth year might be struggling with cast and crew leaving, ageing and possibly even dying, Doctor Who simply doesn’t have that problem. Like the titular Time Lord himself, the show can always regenerate, staying perpetually fresh, new and exciting and thus pleasing its audience, again and again.