Please Help The Stroke Association

It’s November 3rd once again, and for me a week of sadness, mourning, strange memories and a whole host of emotions starts, as it was 7 years ago that my best friend died suddenly from a stroke.  A year ago I posted a long piece about this, and instead of rehashing it all again I thought I would re-post it here.  Before I do…could I ask that if you have ANY spare money (and I know that is a daft thing in these times), would you please consider donating it to THE STROKE ASSOCIATION.  There is much work to be done to support survivors of strokes, those who care for them and to find ways to improve survival rates.  Stroke can hit anyone, of any age and any health.  Pete’s death devastated me, and still haunts me to this day.  My feelings of loss and guilt and anger are as strong today as they were 7 years ago.  I will never stop doing what I can to fight this evil monster…be it £5 or £500, every penny helps.  The website for donations is:

http://www.stroke.org.uk/donate/

Many thanks from me…and from Pete Barnes.  He may be gone, but he’s still with me everyday and pushing me to do better by myself and everyone around me.

N 🙂

Here’s that old post:

hornets_nest_stuff_125It’s just before midnight on Monday October 26th 2009, and after over 6 months work, I have finally completed the 5 episode that go to make up the DOCTOR WHO HORNETS’ NEST audio series, starring Tom Baker.  All the prep, recording sessions, rough editing, construction, SFX & atmos, fine editing, drafting, final editing and mastering…it is all done!  As I type this the final two master files, for episodes 4 and 5, are burning on to a DVD-Rom ready to be picked up by courier tomorrow lunchtime (we can’t trust the post in the UK right now!).  That courier will travel all the way from my home in Croydon (South East of London) to Bath (West Country near Bristol) and deliver the masters to the team at BBC Audiobooks who will then send them off to the duplication plant and thence on to distribution.  The third episode is out in a week or so and the final two CDs are released on the 14th December, just in time for Xmas!

DW Dead ShoesSo that’s it…no more WHO for me for the time being.  For the next few days I think I will be quite pleased about that fact.  Pleased that the deadlines have been hit, that the BBC bosses are happy with the series, that I’ve been a fairly important part of a pretty important new addition to the ongoing Whoniverse.  I’ll also be glad the work is done, I can send in the bill and I don’t have to spend every hour I have (including late nights and weekends) editing Dr Who audio.

But after a few days I fear the withdrawal symptoms will start.  No more WHO?!  What am I going to do?  I have loved being a part of this mad and crazy adventure.  Working with Tom, and Richard Franklin, and Rula Lenska…chatting with Paul the writer, talking SFX with Michael the commissioning editor, and most of all playing around with audio with the gorgeous Kate the producer/director.  I want more, more, more!  As you can imagine, I’ll be pushing the BBC Audiobook teams to let me produce and edit more of the DW audio adventures as soon as possible.  And you never know, at some point the “Doctor Who And The Dalek Invasion Of Earth” audiobook I produced earlier this year will finally be released!

drwho_hn_circus_doom_300So I am going to miss being a daily part of the Whoniverse, yes indeed.  But I want to say a few words about another loss I feel at this time, related to all this Who-tastic stuff I’ve had the honour to work on.

On November 5th this year (just a week away), it will be the sixth anniversary of the death of my best friend, Pete Barnes.  He died, aged 30, of a massive stroke…there were no signs or warnings, it came on suddenly one Sunday afternoon while we were playing a computer game in the flat we shared.  By the following morning he was gone.  No reasons…no rationalisations…a perfectly fit and healthy young man taken away and nothing for any of us to pin the blame on. Pete was just gone.

Pete and I had been best friends for 16 years, had worked at Tesco’s together collecting trolleys aged 15, started at Hospital Radio Bedford together, moved on to Supergold and Chiltern Radio together, then gone in separate directions work-wise for a few years but forever being the best of buds and supporting each other while doing all the stupid things guys do together.  We went on wild and wacky holidays together, saw far too many films and concerts, drove the length and breadth of the UK together, watched even more films, and sung a lot of songs BADLY while driving around.  Yes, we were a very real ODD COUPLE, we were brothers and we had a blast.  I suppose I was thinking we would even grow to become GRUMPY OLD MEN!! Eventually, in 1999 when I bought my flat in Croydon, Pete moved in as my lodger and we were able to enjoy living out all our earlier dreams of drinking cider on the couch while playing computer games, talking about Star Wars and then watching far far too many DVDs!

4 - A Sting In The TaleSo as you can imagine, having him suddenly die on Sunday in late 2003 came as a bit of a shock to me.  It isn’t too much to say that I am still suffering from the loss.  I threw myself in to my work as a means of escape, and Pete must have been smiling on me, coz work worked out!  Since 2003 I have been able to achieve just about all my professional goals in life, helped many talented people get on to UK radio, assisted charities and trade unions, fought the good fight and come out the other side with all my bits intact.  And here I sit, typing this blog, the owner of my own successful independent production company, relatively well-known and I hope somewhat respected for my producing and directing, and generally in a pretty good place.

But coming to the end of this WHO adventure has hit me with a reality shock…Pete would have LOVED this.  He was the true Who fan.  He had the VHS tapes and the DVDs, the books, the t-shirts, the toys, the signed this thats and the others.  he dragged me to conventions and signings so he could meet Colin and Peter and Sylvester.  He died before New WHO debuted, so he never got to see his beloved hero return to the small screen.  But he would have loved what the BBC has done over the past few years.  I’ve enjoyed the New WHO, but he would have been bouncing off the walls, reading every snippet of information, checking out every fan site and web site…he would have been insufferable, but in an endearing way (just as he was with Star Wars!)

DW HN ep 5 coverSo to have been so involved in the comeback of Tom Baker, well, that would have blown his mind.  I like to think that he is getting a buzz out of the fact that my home editing office is in his old bedroom, so in some small way he has had a part in bringing Tom back as well.  But I am sad, because I so want to play him the audio,  I so want to get his reaction, to see his smile and hear his thoughts.  I wanna have him bug me for a chance to meet Tom, to get an autograph or to come to one of the sessions.  Just as he would have fizzed at every moment of The Brightonomicon audio series, Pete would have been my biggest supporter, and most annoying critic (!) throughout the Hornets’ Nest series.

I miss him so very much, and I wish he was still here.  I forgive him the OTT anoraking of incessant Star Wars and Dr Who fandom…if I am honest, I loved it every bit as much as he did!  So I would like to, UNOFFICIALLY, dedicate DOCTOR WHO HORNETS’ NEST to him, to his memory, to his love of the Doctor, and to his friendship.  Without him I wouldn’t have gotten to where I got in life, and I wouldn’t have gotten to make a Tom Baker WHO adventure like this!

And please, if you have lost someone close to you, I would also like to dedicate the series to them…especially if they were a WHO fan, but even if they weren’t.  Doctor Who reminds us  that friendship and family are all-important…as are having fun, a sense of adventure and a child-like fascination with the world.  Our companions may no longer be with us in person, but they remain with us in spirit (and re-runs!) forever.

Love, Neil :-) x

 

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Who’s Missing?

hornets_nest_stuff_125

1 - The Stuff of Nightmares

It’s just before midnight on Monday October 26th 2009, and after over 6 months work, I have finally completed the 5 episode that go to make up the DOCTOR WHO HORNETS’ NEST audio series, starring Tom Baker.  All the prep, recording sessions, rough editing, construction, SFX & atmos, fine editing, drafting, final editing and mastering…it is all done!  As I type this the final two master files, for episodes 4 and 5, are burning on to a DVD-Rom ready to be picked up by courier tomorrow lunchtime (we can’t trust the post in the UK right now!).  That courier will travel all the way from my home in Croydon (South East of London) to Bath (West Country near Bristol) and deliver the masters to the team at BBC Audiobooks who will then send them off to the duplication plant and thence on to distribution.  The third episode is out in a week or so and the final two CDs are released on the 14th December, just in time for Xmas!

DW Dead Shoes

2 - The Dead Shoes

So that’s it…no more WHO for me for the time being.  For the next few days I think I will be quite pleased about that fact.  Pleased that the deadlines have been hit, that the BBC bosses are happy with the series, that I’ve been a fairly important part of a pretty important new addition to the ongoing Whoniverse.  I’ll also be glad the work is done, I can send in the bill and I don’t have to spend every hour I have (including late nights and weekends) editing Dr Who audio.

But after a few days I fear the withdrawal symptoms will start.  No more WHO?!  What am I going to do?  I have loved being a part of this mad and crazy adventure.  Working with Tom, and Richard Franklin, and Rula Lenska…chatting with Paul the writer, talking SFX with Michael the commissioning editor, and most of all playing around with audio with the gorgeous Kate the producer/director.  I want more, more, more!  As you can imagine, I’ll be pushing the BBC Audiobook teams to let me produce and edit more of the DW audio adventures as soon as possible.  And you never know, at some point the “Doctor Who And The Dalek Invasion Of Earth” audiobook I produced earlier this year will finally be released!

drwho_hn_circus_doom_300

3 - The Circus of Doom

So I am going to miss being a daily part of the Whoniverse, yes indeed.  But I want to say a few words about another loss I feel at this time, related to all this Who-tastic stuff I’ve had the honour to work on.

On November 5th this year (just a week away), it will be the sixth anniversary of the death of my best friend, Pete Barnes.  He died, aged 30, of a massive stroke…there were no signs or warnings, it came on suddenly one Sunday afternoon while we were playing a computer game in the flat we shared.  By the following morning he was gone.  No reasons…no rationalisations…a perfectly fit and healthy young man taken away and nothing for any of us to pin the blame on. Pete was just gone.

Pete and I had been best friends for 16 years, had worked at Tesco’s together collecting trolleys aged 15, started at Hospital Radio Bedford together, moved on to Supergold and Chiltern Radio together, then gone in separate directions work-wise for a few years but forever being the best of buds and supporting each other while doing all the stupid things guys do together.  We went on wild and wacky holidays together, saw far too many films and concerts, drove the length and breadth of the UK together, watched even more films, and sung a lot of songs BADLY while driving around.  Yes, we were a very real ODD COUPLE, we were brothers and we had a blast.  I suppose I was thinking we would even grow to become GRUMPY OLD MEN!! Eventually, in 1999 when I bought my flat in Croydon, Pete moved in as my lodger and we were able to enjoy living out all our earlier dreams of drinking cider on the couch while playing computer games, talking about Star Wars and then watching far far too many DVDs!

4 - A Sting In The Tale

4 - A Sting In The Tale

So as you can imagine, having him suddenly die on Sunday in late 2003 came as a bit of a shock to me.  It isn’t too much to say that I am still suffering from the loss.  I threw myself in to my work as a means of escape, and Pete must have been smiling on me, coz work worked out!  Since 2003 I have been able to achieve just about all my professional goals in life, helped many talented people get on to UK radio, assisted charities and trade unions, fought the good fight and come out the other side with all my bits intact.  And here I sit, typing this blog, the owner of my own successful independent production company, relatively well-known and I hope somewhat respected for my producing and directing, and generally in a pretty good place.

But coming to the end of this WHO adventure has hit me with a reality shock…Pete would have LOVED this.  He was the true Who fan.  He had the VHS tapes and the DVDs, the books, the t-shirts, the toys, the signed this thats and the others.  he dragged me to conventions and signings so he could meet Colin and Peter and Sylvester.  He died before New WHO debuted, so he never got to see his beloved hero return to the small screen.  But he would have loved what the BBC has done over the past few years.  I’ve enjoyed the New WHO, but he would have been bouncing off the walls, reading every snippet of information, checking out every fan site and web site…he would have been insufferable, but in an endearing way (just as he was with Star Wars!)

DW HN ep 5 cover

5 - Hive Of Horror

So to have been so involved in the comeback of Tom Baker, well, that would have blown his mind.  I like to think that he is getting a buzz out of the fact that my home editing office is in his old bedroom, so in some small way he has had a part in bringing Tom back as well.  But I am sad, because I so want to play him the audio,  I so want to get his reaction, to see his smile and hear his thoughts.  I wanna have him bug me for a chance to meet Tom, to get an autograph or to come to one of the sessions.  Just as he would have fizzed at every moment of The Brightonomicon audio series, Pete would have been my biggest supporter, and most annoying critic (!) throughout the Hornets’ Nest series.

I miss him so very much, and I wish he was still here.  I forgive him the OTT anoraking of incessant Star Wars and Dr Who fandom…if I am honest, I loved it every bit as much as he did!  So I would like to, UNOFFICIALLY, dedicate DOCTOR WHO HORNETS’ NEST to him, to his memory, to his love of the Doctor, and to his friendship.  Without him I wouldn’t have gotten to where I got in life, and I wouldn’t have gotten to make a Tom Baker WHO adventure like this!

And please, if you have lost someone close to you, I would also like to dedicate the series to them…especially if they were a WHO fan, but even if they weren’t.  Doctor Who reminds us  that friendship and family are all-important…as are having fun, a sense of adventure and a child-like fascination with the world.  Our companions may no longer be with us in person, but they remain with us in spirit (and re-runs!) forever.

Love, Neil 🙂 x

******************************************************************************

logo_tsaIf you would like to help find a cure for stroke, and fund help for those suffering from stroke, please consider donating what you can to THE STROKE ASSOCIATION:

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

******************************************************************************

Having got all that off my chest…do please consider buying the CD’s or downloads…ep 3 is released at the start of November and eps 4 & 5 come out on 14th Dec.  You can buy them from the BBC Shop, Amazon, Audible, Play, iTunes and all good audio retailers.

A Whole Heap of Who!

Blimey! What a start to the month – a whole heap of Doctor Who related audio adventures that I have produced and/or edited are now available for you lucky Whovians to buy.  So with no further prevarication, let’s get on with the sales pitch!

“The Sarah Jane Adventures – The Shadow People” by Scott Handcock

Starring Elizabeth SladenSJA cover 01 new

Produced by Neil Gardner for BBC Audio

“A school camping trip to Snowdonia spells trouble for Sarah Jane and her friends, as they find themselves stranded in a harsh environment. What shadowy figure is watching them? How can Rani be in two places at once? And what secret does a nearby cave hold? Based on the hit CBBC TV series, “The Shadow People” is written by Scott Handcock. Elisabeth Sladen narrates the story as Sarah Jane Smith.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM AMAZON

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“The Sarah Jane Adventures – The White Wolf” by Gary Russell

Starring Elizabeth SladenSJA cover 02 new

Produced by Neil Gardner for BBC Audio

“A letter from an old friend she can’t remember sparks off another adventure for Sarah Jane, as she and her friends explore the village of Wolfenden. What is the secret of the white wolf carved on the hillside – and what does it have to do with alien abduction? Based on the hit CBBC TV series, “The White Wolf” is written by Gary Russell. Elisabeth Sladen narrates the story as Sarah Jane Smith.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM AMAZON

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“Doctor Who: Hornets’ Nest – The Dead Shoes” by Paul Magrs

Starring Tom Baker & Richard FranklinDW Dead Shoes

Produed & Directed by Kate Thomas

Edited by Neil Gardner for BBC Audio

“Visiting the English seaside town of Cromer in the summer of 1932, the Doctor happens upon the strange world of the Cromer Palace of Curios. The young Ernestina Scott is unusually beguiled by one of the museum’s exhibits, and when the Doctor befriends her, they unwittingly embark upon a terrifying escapade. Chased by animated dolls through a nightmarish model house, the Doctor realises he is being hunted by a familiar enemy. The unmistakable sound of hornets is in the air, and they are keen to speak to him. Overseeing this game of cat and mouse is the Palace of Curios’ curator – a certain Mrs Wibbsey…With Tom Baker as the Doctor, Richard Franklin as Mike Yates, Susan Jameson as Mrs Wibbsey, Clare Corbett as Ernestina, and Christian Rodska as the Reverend Small, “The Dead Shoes” is the second of five linked stories written by the acclaimed Paul Magrs.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM AMAZON

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“Doctor Who: The Forever Trap” by Dan Abnett

Starring Catherine Tatedw forever trap cover

Produed & Directed by Kate Thomas

Recorded by Neil Gardner for BBC Audio

“Catherine Tate reads this exclusive thrilling story, in which the Doctor and Donna are imprisoned on the Edifice – and become neighbours to a terrifying assortment of aliens. When the TARDIS is invaded by a holographic marketing scam, the Doctor and Donna find themselves trapped on the Edifice, a purpose-built complex of luxury apartments in space. Their new environs leave much to be desired: millions of beings from across the Universe have been gathered to live side by side in similar apartments. Instead of creating neighbourly affection, it’s led to terrible battles being waged in the corridors and on the stairwells.The Doctor and Donna must cross the paths of deadly alien mobs as they search for the Edifice’s ultimate authority. Who – or what – lies at the heart of the incredible complex? What destructive scourge is eating away at the Edifice itself? And are the Doctor and Donna trapped forever in this living hell? “The Forever Trap” features the Doctor and Donna, as played by David Tennant and Catherine Tate in the hit BBC Television series “Doctor Who”. Written specially for audio by Dan Abnett, it is read by Catherine Tate.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM AMAZON

CLICK THIS BUTTON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes Doctor Who: The Forever Trap (Unabridged) (Unabridged  Fiction)

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Editing Doctor Who – an audio adventure!

Hornets' Nest - The Circus of Doom by Paul Magrs

The Circus of Doom (c)BBC

What a job, eh?  Editing together the latest audio adventures of the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker.  It is, I am happy to admit, a childhood dream come true!  I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since, well, since forever.  And Tom was/is MY Doctor.  My first experience of Doctor Who was in the mid to late 1970s and there he was, Tom “The Doctor” Baker…larger than life, with scarf-a-flappin, a mile-wide smile and a manic approach to being a hero.  According to my mum, I was watching Doctor Who on a Saturday evening from the age of 2…no wonder Tom Baker has such a power over my childhood memories!

As I grew up, I always knew that I wanted to work in radio and what is now referred to as audio.  And I always knew I wanted to make science fiction.  But to be making Doctor Who…and Tom Baker Doctor Who?!  Wow wow wow!

So what is it I am doing?  A few people have asked what my role actually is in the Hornets’ Nest production crew?  First off, the producer/director is the uber-talented  Kate Thomas from BBC Audiobooks.  Kate has made pretty much all of the many, many BBC Audio Dr Who audio adventures…she is a goddess of Doctor Who.  So I’m not the producer or director (unusual for me nowadays!). I certainly didn’t write it or script edit it.  The writer is the mighty Paul Magrs, a man with much Doctor Who writing experience! I’ve done my fair share of writing for radio over the years, and will continue to do so, but I don’t think I’ll ever be good enough to write for Doctor Who!  Simon Willey and Wolfgang were the recording engineers for the drama scenes, so again, that’s not my job (also unusual for me, as I have recorded most things I produce!). So what the heck is it I am doing?

In the voice-over studio

In the voice-over studio

Part of my job was to bring my experience of BBC Radio drama directing/producing…in this role I advised on various aspects of the series, organised recording studios and engineers and ensured all the audio was recorded exactly as would be required to deliver the end result.

As part of this process, I also engineered the recording sessions with Tom and Richard Franklin, these were done in a radio studio rather than a drama studio (Electric Airwaves if you are interested – we used Motivation Sound Studios for the drama sessions).

The Stuff of Nightmares

The Stuff of Nightmares (c)BBC

Once everything was recorded my BIG job began.  It is my role to edit everything together, much like a film editor.  I have all the raw audio, and working alongside my script notes, I piece together each episode, using the best takes, making sure everything balances in terms of pace and style.  Once this is done I then layer in the music (supplied by the BBC), re-time everything to fit what the composer has in mind, and re-balance the volumes.  Finally I go back through the whole episode and add in sound effects (such as the wonderful original 1970s BBC Tardis SFX) and atmospheres.  With these three processes finished I have to listen through a few more times to check there are no mistakes, the pacing is right, the volumes are correct, the FX are in the right place, etc…  At this stage I send the episode to Kate at the BBC, and she, along with the commissioning editor Michael Stevens, listen through and send back a list of small changes they think need to be made.

Kate, Tom, me and Richard

Kate, Tom, me and Richard

You might think I would be annoyed by this short list of changes – after all, I’ve done all this hard work (something like 36 hours per ep) and these two people tell me to make alterations!  But actually it is a very useful and much appreciated stage – being so close to the audio for so long, I find that I end up missing a few things.  Plus, my opinion of pacing and style, may not suit others, and so Kate and Michael play the part of ‘first listeners’.  It is a vital and very positive stage of the production.

So, I take these notes, work through the episode to make the changes, and then master the episode.  Mastering pulls all the many audio files together into one single broadcast quality wav file.  At this point I listen through on headphones to check nothing has gone awry during the mastering process.  If everything is OK, I send an mp3 file of the episode to Kate for her to sign off on.  Once that is done I send a DATA CD and AUDIO CD of the episode to the chaps at BBC Audiobooks in Bath…they then send it through their duplication and distribution system and eventually the episode turns up as a CD and download all over the world – huzzah!

Mastering A DW Episode

Mastering A DW Episode

I’ve done this 3 times so far – ep 1 “The Stuff of Nightmares” is in the shops now; ep 2 “The Dead Shoes” comes out at the start of October; ep 3 “The Circus of Doom” is released along with ep 4 at the start of November.  Ep 5 comes out at the start of December – all in time for Xmas 🙂

Today I finished all the stages of ep 3 – so the master discs head off in the post tomorrow.  Ep 4 is already with Kate & co for notes, so not much left to do with that one.  Just ep 5 now needs to be built and edited…so I am very nearly there.  This production started back in Feb/March and is coming to a close in Oct…6 months for 5 CDs, not a terrible amount of time at all.

Tom does some 'acting'!

Tom does some 'acting'!

And through it all I’ve been getting to edit Doctor Who, Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor.  I’ve loved this job.  It’s been a dream come true, and one I’ve been able to share with friends all around the world through the blog and Twitter and Facebook.  For those of us who grew up with Tom as the Doctor, having him return has been a very special time.  Whether you enjoy the series or not, I hope you’ll agree that Tom coming back is a great thing.  Where he goes next, what he does next, whether it be more with the BBC or with someone else, I think we can all agree that Tom is a legend and a one-off and for me, he still exerts a ridiculous amount of control over my imagination…what a joy it has been working with him.

I just wish I could share with you the out-takes 🙂

The Dead Shoes

The Dead Shoes (c)BBC

“Doctor Who: Hornets’ Nest” is available via the BBC Shop, Amazon, Play, iTunes and other retailers.  There are 5 CDs in the series.

Some great places to visit:

Paul Magrs blog

BBC Shop

Tom Baker’s new website

Stuff Wot I Made You Can Buy!

It’s quite extraordinary but some of the radio and audio productions I have produced are available to purchase from the luminaries at the BBC.  So, in the spirit of wanting to make some cash to pay for the cats’ food, I thought I might introduce you to some of these rather wonderful audio products, and offer you links to where you can buy them…please buy them, many many of them, and then buy some more for your friends and families…all the oney goes to a good cause (well, the BBC and then a little to me, sort of!)

The Brightonomicon 7 CD box-set

The Brightonomicon 7 CD box-set

THE BRIGHTONOMICON by Robert Rankin

13 half hour episodes / full-cast audio drama / award winning production / as heard of BBC Radio 7

starring David Warner, Andy Serkis, Rupert Degas, Sarah Douglas, Martin Jarvis, Jason Isaacs & many more

written by Elliott Stein & Neil Gardner / music by Jeremy Paul Carroll / edited, produced & directed by Neil Gardner

a Ladbroke Productions / Hokus Bloke co-production for BBC Audio

“A stellar cast including David Warner, Rupert Degas, Andy Serkis, Mark Wing-Davey, Michael Fenton-Stevens & Martin Jarvis bring Robert Rankin’s extraordinary fantasty tale to life! This is the tale of two incredible people – one who knows he is incredible and the other who learns to be incredible. Set in 1960 in Brighton, self-styled guru and magus Hugo Rune rescues a young man from drowning and persuades him to become his assistant and partner in solving 12 mysteries. Rizla (for such is the young man’s assumed name) agrees to help as he has lost his memory and has nowhere else to go. There then follows 12 of the most baffling, surreal, exciting, head-scratching and downright far-fetched mysteries ever written…all based in and around the suburbs of Brighton. Across the mysteries Rizla and the audience learn about the Brighton zodiac, the chronovision, time travel, centaurs, a dastardly plot where the NHS kidnap vagrants for body parts, space pirates, the real history of Victorian Britain, Brighton pirates and the fate that awaits mankind should Hugo Rune fail in his task. And of course, there’s a very bad man involved indeed – Hugo Rune’s arch-nemesis of the ages, Count Otto Black – who wants to rule the world (what else!) You will never hear anything else quite like this in your lifetime. Yet another slice of far-fetched fiction in the Rankin tradition.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM THE BBC SHOP

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes The Brightonomicon (Unabridged)

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The Stuff of Nightmares

The Stuff of Nightmares

DOCTOR WHO: HORNETS’ NEST (1): THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES by Paul Magrs

1hr 12mins enhanced reading

starring Tom Baker & Richard Franklin

recorded & edited by Neil Gardner / produced & directed by Kate Thomas

a BBC Audio production

“Tom Baker reprises the role of the Fourth Doctor in the first of five thrilling brand new audio adventures, with Richard Franklin as Mike Yates. ‘Wanted: retired army Captain for light household duties and fireside companionship. Must tolerate mild eccentricity and strong scientific advice. Knowledge of Giant Maggots, Super Intelligent Spiders and Prehistoric Monsters a positive boon.’

Responding to an advert apparently worded for him alone, Captain Mike Yates (retired) is reunited with a ghost from the past. But why has the Doctor, that mysterious traveller in Time and Space, sent for his former UNIT acquaintance? Trapped by a horde of vicious creatures in an apparently innocuous English country cottage, the two old friends are on the brink of an enormous adventure. As the Doctor relates his recent escapades, it becomes clear to Mike that they – and the Earth at large – are facing an enemy of unimaginable power and horrific intent.

The nightmare is only just beginning… With Tom Baker as the Doctor, Richard Franklin as Mike Yates, Susan Jameson as Mrs Wibbsey and Daniel Hill as Percy Noggins, The Stuff of Nightmares is the first of five linked stories written by the acclaimed Paul Magrs.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM THE BBC SHOP

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  Doctor Who: Hornets' Nest 1 - the Stuff of Nightmares (Unabridged)

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The Dead Shoes

The Dead Shoes

DOCTOR WHO: HORNETS’ NEST (2): THE DEAD SHOES by Paul Magrs

1hr 05 mins enhanced reading

starring Tom Baker & Richard Franklin

recorded & edited by Neil Gardner / produced & directed by Kate Thomas

a BBC Audio production

“Tom Baker reprises the role of the Fourth Doctor in the first of five thrilling brand new audio adventures, with Richard Franklin as Mike Yates. What is so special about a pair of ballet shoes on display in Cromer’s Palace of Curios? When the Doctor meets Ernestina Scott there in 1932, they discover the horrific truth together. The second of five linked stories written by the acclaimed Paul Magrs, The Dead Shoes also features Susan Jameson, Clare Corbett and Christian Rodska.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM THE BBC SHOP

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The Year of the Flood 14 CD box-set

The Year of the Flood 14 CD box-set

THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD by Margaret Atwood

14hrs 30 mins unabridged reading

read by Lorelei King

recorded, edited & produced by Neil Gardner

a BBC Audio production

“Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners – a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, the preservation of all species and the tending of the Earth – has long predicted the Waterless Flood. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have avoided it: the young trapeze-dancer, Ren, locked into the high-end sex club; and former SecretBurgers meat-slinger turned Gardener, Toby, barricaded into a luxurious spa. Have others survived? And what are the odds for the human race? By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful and uneasily hilarious, The Year of the Flood is Atwood at her most effective.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM THE BBC SHOP

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  The Year of the Flood (Unabridged)

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6000 Postcards radio feature

6000 Postcards radio feature

6000 POSTCARDS

27mins 30secs radio documentary / as heard on BBC Radio 4

presented by Chris McManus

produced by Richard Bannerman / executive produced by Neil Gardner

a Ladbroke Radio production for BBC Radio 4

“Chris McManus uncovers the secrets of a collection of 6000 dusty old postcards that turned up in a forgotten cupboard in the Psychology Department of University College London. It started with two medium-sized cardboard boxes. When Richard Rawles of the Department opened them, he found the cards, with postmarks dating from August 1953. They were addressed to the BBC Television Service, and the search was on to find out how they came to be there and what information they contained.”

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  6000 Postcards

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Bridging The Gap radio feature

Bridging The Gap radio feature

BRIDGING THE GAP

27mins 30secs radio documentary / featured on “Pick of the Year” / as heard on BBC Radio 4

presented by Simon Fanshawe

produced by Tamsyn Challenger / executive produced by Neil Gardner

a Ladbroke Radio production for BBC Radio 4

“Simon Fanshawe visits an ambitious community project in Bridging the Gap at 1100 on Monday 7th August. The gap in question is the cavernous void between young and old that breeds mistrust and anxiety. Pat Stewart and Rob Burley run the On the Streets project in Gorton, Manchester. Their aim is to develop in young teenagers a sense of their community and show them there is more to life than spiralling from ASBO to serious crime.In the programme, the 15- and 16 year-olds talk frankly about a life they feel has little to offer them – with few or no facilities, threats from gangs, and nothing to occupy their time.The programme attends an events day run by Pat and Rob at the Angel Community Centre, where one highlight is the hand massage session that not only gives the over-60s a chance to relax and enjoy a bit of pampering, but more importantly, a chance for young and old to talk and exchange stories from their very different lives.The campaign itself has won awards for breaking down barriers and helping to develop communication and common interest across generations, and Pat and Rob are determined to “take young people out of the thug mode and elderly people out of the victim mode”. As one of the documentary’s producers, Tamsyn Challenger, says, “To hear a 14-year-old talking about 80-year-old Lou on his estate is heartening when there is little positive coverage of 14-year-old Manchester lads living in depressed areas.” Simon Fanshawe discusses the project both with the scheme’s leaders and also with the police, and guides us through the On the Streets story.”

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  Bridging the Gap (Unabridged)

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Giants On Our Hands radio feature

Giants On Our Hands radio feature

GIANTS ON OUR HANDS

27mins 30secs radio documentary / featured on “Pick of the Week” / as heard on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service

presented by Adam Fowler

produced by Adam Fowler & Anna Scott-Brown / executive produced by Neil Gardner

a Ladbroke Radio production for BBC Radio 4/WS

“For 5,000 years and more, elephants have served humanity, as a living tractor, pile driver, fork-lift, tank, and 4WD. But the working elephant is now at the end of its economic usefulness. Adam Fowler explores the plight of thousands of captive elephants in Asia and their historic and changing relationship with man.”

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  Giants On Our Hands: The Unemployed Elephants of Asia (Unabridged)

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Rembrandt 400 radio feature

Rembrandt 400 radio feature

REMBRANDT 400

43mins 30secs radio documentary / as heard on BBC Radio 3

presented by Neil MacGregor

produced by Richard Bannerman / executive produced by Neil Gardner

a Ladbroke Radio production for BBC Radio 3

“Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, marks the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt’s birth. He visits Amsterdam, where Rembrandt made his home for the major part of his creative life, and where he painted the masterpieces that hang in galleries around the world. Rembrandt’s birthday is on July 15, and Amsterdam has marked the year with all kinds of events, from a new musical on Rembrandt’s life to exhibitions looking at every aspect of the artist’s work, from the epic painting of The Night Watch to small-scale etchings and drawings. Neil MacGregor, a longtime enthusiast for Rembrandt’s work, begins the programme in the house where Rembrandt lived in Amsterdam from 1639 to 1658, when bankruptcy in his later years forced him to move. Here, from the basement to the attic, are the everyday objects that Rembrandt would have known, from his box-bed to the huge collection of antiques and curios from all corners of the Dutch-traded world, which Rembrandt made use of to bring the excitement of the exotic into his work. Nearby in the Rijksmuseum, an exhibition puts Rembrandt’s major paintings against those of his slightly earlier Italian counterpart Caravaggio, showing the play of light and dark which gave both artists’ work that gleaming, arresting quality, and which lent a powerful drama to the Biblical or classical scenes they often depicted. In Rembrandt’s case, he turned away from images of beauty or flattery to depict people in all their human frailty – their tenderness, uncertainty, pain, and mortality. It is these qualities, as Neil MacGregor says, that make his paintings reach out so directly to us today, as well as impressing the spectator with their mastery of skill and often dazzling richness.”

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  Rembrandt 400 (Unabridged)

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The Forever Trap 2 CD exclusive

The Forever Trap 2 CD exclusive

DOCTOR WHO: THE FOREVER TRAP by Dan Abnett

2hrs 20mins reading / exclusive adventure from the BBC

read by Catherine Tate

recorded & edited by Neil Gardner / produced & directed by Kate Thomas

a BBC Audio production

“Catherine Tate reads this exclusive thrilling story, in which the Doctor and Donna are imprisoned on the Edifice – and become neighbours to a terrifying assortment of aliens.  When the TARDIS is invaded by a holographic marketing scam, the Doctor and Donna find themselves trapped on the Edifice, a purpose-built complex of luxury apartments in space. Their new environs leave much to be desired: millions of beings from across the Universe have been gathered to live side by side in similar apartments. Instead of creating neighbourly affection, it’s led to terrible battles being waged in the corridors and on the stairwells.   The Doctor and Donna must cross the paths of deadly alien mobs as they search for the Edifice’s ultimate authority. Who – or what – lies at the heart of the incredible complex? What destructive scourge is eating away at the Edifice itself? And are the Doctor and Donna trapped forever in this living hell?   The Forever Trap features the Doctor and Donna, as played by David Tennant and Catherine Tate in the hit BBC Television series Doctor Who. Written specially for audio by Dan Abnett, it is read by Catherine Tate.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY FROM THE BBC SHOP

CLICK THE ICON TO BUY & DOWNLOAD FROM iTunes  Doctor Who: The Forever Trap (Unabridged) (Unabridged  Fiction)

Spending Time With The Doctor

Kate, Tom, me and Richard

Kate, Tom, me and Richard

Calling all Doctor Who fans…so, it’s not exactly hot off the presses news any more, but Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor) is back as our favourite Time Lord, in a new 5 CD audio drama being released by BBC Audiobooks between Sept and Dec 2009, called “Doctor Who – Hornet’s Nest”.  This is no mere audiobook, nor is it a traditional radio play…it’s a chimera, a beast of many parts…with narration, conversation, action scenes, dramatic vignettes, and of course, music and SFX…this is a whole new way of bringing the Doctor to life.

Tom does some 'acting'!

Tom does some 'acting'!

So why am I blogging about it?  Because I am not just a fan (Tom is very much MY Doctor, in the same way Roger Moore was MY James Bond – I’m a 70’s/80’s boy!), but I have been responsible for the recording of all the audio, and the editing together of the adventures.  Although (unusually for me nowadays) I am not the named producer/director (that is the gorgeous and uber-talented Kate Thomas), I am bringing my producer/director experience to the editing and mastering of the series, helping to mix the usual BBC audiobooks format with a more radio/audio play style.

Tom, me and Richard making faces...well, why not?

Tom, me and Richard making faces...well, why not?

Imagine my squeel of fanboy joy when I was asked to get involved in this project.  Months ago, when we first talked about it, the whole thing was super hush-hush and I couldn’t tell anyone what I was doing.  But now, the news is out, the interviews are being done, the articles are being released, and the first CD is due out in shops in a month and a half!

Over the past 2 months we’ve spent around 10 days in a radio drama studio in Swiss Cottage, London, and a radio voice-over studio in Central London, recording Tom and the wonderful Richard Franklin (he was Captain Yates back in the day, alongside the Brigadier!), as well as the likes of Rula Lenska, Daniel Hill and Susan Jameson.

In the drama studio

In the drama studio

That first recording session, we all got a thrill down our spines as Tom launched in to the full-on Doctor lines, bringing the character back to life as though the last 25 years had never happened.  He was back!  Doctor Who sounded (and looked) like he should again.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked Peter’s Doctor, and Colin was OK, Sylvestor had the added bonus of Ace, Chris Ecclestone was a breath of freshness, and David, well, what can we say about the superb Mr Tennent?!  But for me, a wee young thing of a lad in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Doctor Who always wears a long scarf, eats jelly babies, is very tall, has piercing eyes and an ever-so sharp and slightly naughty wit…in short (or tall in this case!), Tom Baker!

It’s a been a real pleasure of a job recording and editing this series.  It’s also been, and continues to be, a lot of hard work, long hours and faffing around finding SFX and music and making things balance.  But a boyhood dream has come true…I’ve met Doctor Who, and it was MY Doctor Who, and I haven’t just met him, I’ve worked with him, produced and directed him, and helped create a whole new chapter in the Doctor Who chronicles.

The infamous jelly babies!

The infamous jelly babies!

Boy oh boy I am in geeky fanboy nerd heaven.  I really hope you enjoy the series when it is released.  As I understand it there should be ample opportunities to meet Tom and the cast and get the CDs signed…and you never know, you may just meet me there too!

Hope you like the pictures as well…come on, I HAD to get a few, didn’t I?!? 🙂

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