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Derek Jacobi returns as the Master for more tales from the Time War.




□The War Master: Only the Good (featuring the War Master) RRP £23 (CD), £20 (download)

□ Static (featuring the Sixth Doctor, Flip and Constance) RRP £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)

□ The Wreck of the World (featuring the Second Doctor, Zoe and Jamie) RRP £14.99 (CD), £10.99 (download)

Five minutes. That’s how much screen time viewers had to enjoy Sir Derek Jacobi as the Master (as distinct from kindly, crinkly Professor Yana) in 2007’s Utopia, before he exploded in a fountain of molten gold and turned into TV’s John Simm. Talk about leaving ‘em wanting more.

And now, a decade on, more is finally what we’re finally getting courtesy of The War Master: Only the Good – though only after former showrunner Russell T Davies gave Big Finish his blessing to rewrite his personal head canon, finding a workaround that would place Jacobi’s incarnation in the white heat of the Time War. (As Davies himself suggests: if you can’t change the rules for Sir Derek Jacobi, who can you change them for?) Nicholas Briggs’ Beneath the Viscoid reintroduces the black sheep of the Prydonian family in irresistible fashion – pulled from a mysterious capsule by a bunch of Dalek resistance fighters on the soupy ocean planet Gardezza, he immediately sets about convincing them he’s that legendary traveller in time and space known as the Doctor.

It’s a feint which showcases Jacobi at his most playful and persuasive: listening to him dancing rings around the rather dull, earnest military types surrounding him, he really could be the Doctor – a sleight of hand helped by Jacobi’s own natural warmth as an actor.

As such, when he finally allows the mask to drop – dismissing his new allies as “a race of skulking amphibian bores” and telling a luckless stooge “I-amthe- Master-and-you-will-obey-me” F – it recalls some of the visceral thrill of that moment ten years ago when genial Professor Yana suddenly transformed into a vengeful demon, eyes burning like black coals. For the Master, the Time War is basically a giant business opportunity he describes as, “A festering pit of self-interest – rich pickings for one with the intelligence to exploit it.” He still gets his kicks along the way, though, this story ending with a horribly cruel and callous death in which the Master appears to take a genuine sadistic delight.

Which I suppose raises the question of where exactly our allegiances in this box set are meant to lie. It’s that old Hannibal Lecter question: are we expected to root for this monster, because he’s the cleverest, wittiest man in the room? Or are we desperate for him to get his comeuppance at every turn? The answer, readers, is between you and your conscience.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

New year, new Doctor... We have an exclusive interview with the newly regenerated Thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker! Plus new showrunner Chris Chibnall writes exclusively for DWM. Doctor Who Magazine 521 also includes: • An interview with Twice Upon a Time director Rachel Talalay, who talks us through Peter and Jodie's regeneration scene • DWM's Twice Upon a Time set report and review • An interview with 'John Smith', Doctor Who fan turned visual effects pro working on the Twelfth Doctor's final adventures • A tribute to Dudley Simpson, Doctor Who's prolific composer from 1964 to 1980 • Highlights of Dudley Simpson's Doctor Who scores • A first-hand account of how the 1960s TARDIS prop was recreated for Twice Upon a Time • Writer and illustrator Adam Hargreaves explains how his Mr Men entered the world of Doctor Who • Part three of The Phantom Piper, our new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill • Fact of Fiction explores the 1977 Fourth Doctor story The Face of Evil • Previews, book, audio and DVD reviews, news, the DWM Christmas Quiz answers, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!