A History of Funny

I haven’t watched “Selfie” yet. It’s on the DVR from last night. So we’ll see. As I am not a social media whore it may not be for me.
And “industry insiders” say it will fail.
But none the less, Karen Gillian is actually known also as a comedian.
Daily Mail UK 2009:

Miss Gillan, who is from Inverness, attended the Italia Conti stage school in London after finishing her GCSEs.

KAREN GILLAN as the Soothsayer.  Episode 2. 'The Fires Of Pompeii' Doctor Who

Haven’t we seen you somewhere before: Karen played a Soothsayer in an episode of Doctor Who last year

Her father John is a care worker while mother Marie is a housewife.

She has featured in ITV’s Rebus and panned hospital drama Harley Street, as well as Channel 4 comedy The Kevin Bishop Show.

The young actress, who is 5ft 11in, has also modelled for designer Allegra Hicks at London Fashion Week.

She briefly appeared in Doctor Who in 2008 appearing as a soothsayer in the episode entitled The Fires of Pompeii.

The hit drama has form for re-using characters and even actors in different roles.

Her career kicked off when Gillan was only 19 on an episode of the UK TV series, “Reebus.” It may not seem very long ago, but Gillan just looks so young. She’s like a precious little baby.
Her big break came in 2008 when she joined “Doctor Who” as Amy Pond, the Doctor’s new companion. You couldn’t help but love Amy as she traveled through space and time with the Doctor and Rory, the man she loves. In between all the action and drama, Gillan even got to stretch her comedic legs and show the world how funny she could be when given the chance to shine. You can’t deny the greatness of Amy the pirate.
That’s not her only comedy experience, though. She’s also appeared in nine episodes of the Adult Swim series “NTSF:SD:SUV::” as Daisy, taking her penchant for being funny to a whole new level. In fact, it’s also on that show that you saw her American accent start to take shape, pre-“Selfie.”
Of course, 2014 is definitely the biggest of Gillan’s career yet. Sure there’s “Selfie,” but she was also in this little independent movie called “Guardians of the Galaxy.” You might have seen it.
Unlike her role in “Doctor Who,” she played a villain in “Guardians.” Gillan shaved her head and got covered in paint to play Nebula and it was completely worth it, considering how vicious the character turned out to be.
But her voice was treated so badly she was unrecognizable! Such a disappointment.
Much like Anne Robinson as Anne Droid in “Doctor Who”.
Now the only question that remains is whether or not Gillan can carry a network comedy. Seeing as she tends to succeed at everything else she tries, the odds are definitely in her favor.
We shall see. In this age of Social Media obsessions are the obsessed willing to be made fun of?

Mourn Maggie

Gustaff Behr pays tribute to the late Maggie Stables who played 6th Doctor companion Evelyn Smythe in the Big Finish audios.


Most Doctor Who fans would probably not have heard of Maggie Stables. You might not have known that Maggie died peacefully in her sleep on the night of Friday the 26th of September after a long illness. You will not have seen her with that same dumbfounded look that every companion has on their face when they enter the TARDIS for the first time. You will not have seen the influence she has had on the Sixth Doctor. You will not have seen all the character development she has brought to one of the most underrated Doctors out there. You will not have seen any of this – but you might have heard it though.

Maggie Stables is more commonly known as Evelyn Smythe in the Expanded Universe, more specifically companion to the Sixth Doctor in the Big Finish audio dramas and she is the person who saved the Sixth Doctor for a new generation of fans, as well as an old one.

A silly old history professor who met the Sixth Doctor by chance while he tracking a nexus point distortion Sheffield Hallam University, the Doctor saw something remarkable in Evelyn and took her back in time to stabilize the nexus point, saving her life. That is how the journey began for Evelyn, but not for Maggie. Stables portrayed the character Ruthley in Big Finish’s first Doctor Who production The Sirens of Time in 1999 some years prior. Like others involved in Who, Stables is one of those rare examples of an actor/actress being promoted to companion after proving themselves in another role on the show. This alone should speak volumes about the late actress.

Before the Doctor met Evelyn, he was either travelling with Peri or alone. It’s common knowledge in today’s world that the Sixth Doctor is sometimes branded as the ‘unlikable Doctor’. This has been going on ever since Colin portrayed him onscreen in 1985. Six’s persona – his attitude towards Peri and most within earshot alienated fans at the time. Even though today there exists a debate on whether Colin Baker simply sucked at the role or whether he was perfect for it and his scripts simply led him down. Regardless of your stance on the matter, Big Finish stepped in to set things straight when they started doing Sixth Doctor audio dramas by introducing a companion who would do exactly what Colin Baker wanted to do to his character all those years ago. Maggie Stables was given the job of ‘taming’ the Sixth Doctor, a feat not easily accomplished given the character in question. Nevertheless, partnering Six with Evelyn, Colin with Maggie ended up creating one of the best Doctor/Companion dynamics out there.

Considered the first ‘elderly’ companion of the Doctor (sorry Wilf), Evelyn’s persona was that of a silly old granny who often treated the Doctor like her own grandchild, telling him off and calling him out in ways Peri never dared to. She brought him back down to earth whenever his ego was just about to break through the atmosphere. And at the same time, it felt like you were listening to an old elderly couple who genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and who’d been married fifty odd years. With an assembly of stories together, there was plenty of time to slowly peel away the layers of the Sixth Doctor. Maggie’s effect on the Sixth Doctor even has a term in fandom now. Any Colin Baker story prior to meeting Smythe involves Six, but every post-meeting story involves the ‘Softer Six’.

In fact, Maggie’s work as Evelyn is even given a stealthy reference in one of my all-time favorite stories: The Wrong Doctors. The Doctor, left alone after travelling with Evelyn and deciding to ‘officially’ meet Mel, goes to Peas Pottage and meets another Doctor – a younger Sixth Doctor dropping off Mel after his trial – and comments on how annoying he finds his earlier self. Doctors not liking each other isn’t exactly a new notion in Doctor Who, but very infrequently – almost never actually – will you see a Doctor show exasperation or frustration by the outlook/antics of the same incarnation. It’s almost as if the Doctor is saying: “I can’t wait until I meet Evelyn Smythe”. He recognizes her guidance in his life and approves that meeting her was the best thing that could’ve happened to him. In fact, it is so easy to distinguish which version of the Sixth Doctor Colin Baker is voicing in scenes. He may as well be playing two different Doctors. You could say that he is doing just that.

I would’ve included a top five Evelyn stories to entice fans, but I couldn’t choose any favorites. Every Six/Evelyn, even Seven/Evelyn story is cut from the same cloth and features the same consistent significance of dialogue and storytelling that such a list would have to stretch from The Marian Conspiracy all the way to Thicker Than Water. When Colin Baker was partnered with Maggie Stables, the Sixth Doctor enjoyed an era that – had it been shown on television back in the day – would have blown Tom Baker’s right out of the water. Capaldi wouldn’t be the Twelfth Doctor, he’d be somewhere near the Sixteenth or Seventeenth.

She may not have had any ‘screen time’, but Maggie Stables should be considered a hero in Doctor Who. She helped turn the Sixth Doctor into a character people – who didn’t before – could enjoy again. In my view, regaining the public’s trust in the sixth incarnation of the Doctor was 30% on Colin Baker and 30% on Big Finish, but the last 40% is on Maggie Stables bringing to life a character that will be remembered as one of the very best in a long list of individuals that is ever expanding.

Maggie Stables, you will be missed…


For those who don’t have enough Apps…:)




I have noticed an interesting trend in Doctor Whio British Viewing figures. 4.5 to 5 million watch it live, and about 2-3 million watch it “time delayed”- recorded, iTunes, etc.

That’s quite a trend.

Admittedly, I watch most things only if I programmed my DVR to record them.


The 2014 ratings so far:

  1. Deep Breath 6.8m (overnight) 9.17m (final) 10.76m (L+7) AI 82
  2. Into the Dalek 5.2m (overnight) 7.29m (final) AI 84
  3. Robot of Sherwood 5.2m (overnight) 7.28m (final) AI 82
  4. Listen 4.8m (overnight) 7.01m (final) AI 82
  5. Time Heist 4.93m (overnight) 6.99m (final) AI 84
  6. The Caretaker 4.89m (overnight) TBCm (final) AI 83

(iPlayer figures are not included in the ‘final’ figure)
(Live Plus 7 (L+7) counts those who watched live and all repeats, including iPlayer, within seven days following broadcast.)
(The Audience Appreciation Index (AI) is a score out of 100 which is used as an indicator of the public’s appreciation for a show.)


Radio Times:

In a straightforward plot, the Doctor has a secret mission, which is gradually revealed to Clara, the viewer and, only later, to Danny. The threat of the marauding robot is less important than the focus on the three leads. This is the first proper meeting, as adults, of the Doctor, Clara and Danny. The script outlines, then warmly colours in, their characters, their strengths and failings. I believe in all of them.

Clara struggles to balance and separate the three strands of her life: her Tardis adventures, her affair with Danny and work at Coal Hill School. Here at last all three collide. Jenna Coleman rises to the challenge with vitality and humour and shows how the Impossible Girl has become the most plausible companion in a long time. 

Peter Capaldi broadens his portrayal too, which should appease those worrying that his Doctor was one-note: dour. There are flashes of warmth. He’s still condescending, impatient, downright rude, but also inventive, shrewd and eccentric. Like Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, he enjoys dressing up and is gadget-obsessed (“chronodyne generators”), eventually donning a bonkers backpack like a Ghostbuster. He is, in short, very funny. In his supposed “deep cover” as school caretaker John Smith, the 12th Doctor is, surprisingly, much more fun than David Tennant’s Doctor was when he posed as teachers in School Reunion or Human Nature/The Family of Blood.

This caretaker-Doctor is actually taking care of the Earth once again, rectifying a problem he’s caused. The Skovox Blitzer (a deadly robot but another kind of caretaker) is responding to high levels of “artron emissions” at Coal Hill School. It goes unexplained, but the Doctor’s own presence caused these emissions in An Unearthly Child (1963), Remembrance of the Daleks (1988) and in more recent times with Clara.

Despite his rudeness, the Doctor is also taking care of Clara. His antipathy to Danny isn’t triggered by jealousy. Like a proud parent, he glows in the mistaken belief that she’s chosen a suitor much like his younger self – the Matt-alike teacher, Adrian (awkward, geeky, bowtie). In the flurry of scrapes before the title sequence the Doctor asserted, “I hate soldiers!” so he’s aghast to learn that her boyfriend is an ex-squaddie, the “PE teacher”. “You’ve explained me to him. You haven’t explained him to me,” he scolds like a paternalistic Victorian.

The third caretaker of the piece is Danny. He helps save the world and shows how much he cares about Clara. “I could never stand not being able to help you.” He regards the Time Lord as an officer to his foot soldier and warns Clara: “I’m the one who carries you out of the fire. He’s the one who lights it.” Normally tongue-tied, Danny is suddenly articulate; a complex, believable man imbued with easy charm by Samuel Anderson.

Just as Clara asks Danny, repeatedly, what he’s thinking, he demands the truth from her. And, for the first time in our hearing, she’s forced to express her feelings for the Doctor and explain why she travels with him: “Because it’s amazing. Because I see wonders.” Clara’s failure, for once, to be articulate underscores the inexpressible allure and magic of the programme – and it’s peculiarly heart-warming.

The Tardis rarely warrants a mention in a review but director Paul Murphy ensures it looks fabulous here. The police box glows enticingly in the workshop and looms magnificently on the school stage; high-angle wide-shots of the control room confirm this as the most impressive design since they dispensed with the avant-garde “white” circles from the 1960s. We see the Tardis through the eyes of Danny (who senses the danger it holds for Clara) and through Courtney’s.

Stroppy schoolgirls quickly become annoying, but the Doctor spots a kindred spirit in this “disruptive influence”. “Good to meet you,” he says. “Now get lost.” And later: “I may have a vacancy but not right now.” On her first trip into space, Courtney chunders in the control room and is clearly unsuitable companion material – but she’ll play a key role next week.

Most importantly, Doctor Who’s current caretakers Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi have restored the Doctor to the man he once was. The man he should be. Not Time Totty. Not slack-jawed boyfriend material. He’s the grumpy “Space Dad” of my childhood. Caretaker of the cosmos. 




Review: Caretaker


Doctor Who does Moonlighting. That was the first thought I had on this romantic comedy style romp.

The Doctor is the sarcastic, quick witted smart ass with all kinds of humorous “humans” jokes. Clara is the control freak that is frazzled by him, repeatedly.

And that’s not a bad thing.

I laughed more in this episode that I have all season.

The Doctor saying he’s trying to “be normal” but really he’s just egging her on with the act and the secrecy at the beginning because he knows she’s a control freak and he’s going to tweek her for all it’s worth.

There’s a lot of love in this episode between all 3 of the main characters.

But she doesn’t have eyes for him, “in that way”. Her favorite color is Pink, Mr. Pink to be precise.

“Ozzie loves the Sqauddie”, indeed!

Watching Clara become unglued was hilarious and Jenna Coleman is absolutely wonderful as her character loses it to two “clever” blokes.

The love and the caring between Clara and this Doctor just gets better and better, which means Moffat is setting you for something dark and awful real soon.

Clara can only burn the candle at both ends for so long before she gets burned and given it is Steven Moffat, she may be a pile of ashes by the end of it.

But now Mr. Pink knows about her double life. So how will she chose? Will she be given a choice?

Or will it be Mr. Pink who sees our Mysterious Missy?

I don’t put anything past Mr. Moffat.

After all, Mr. Pink is the “soldier” and he’s seen The Doctor’s “type” before and is she “being pushed” beyond her limits Moffat-speak for what’s too come where it does go too far and we have a Tegan-style “it not fun anymore” ending or will we have a Donna-style ending? Or Worse??

But I doubt it ends well.

That’s what we will find out soon enough.

But I did find it very interesting when The Doctor said (paraphrase),” You’ve explained me to him. But you haven’t explained him to me”. Capaldi played that rather dark and I loved it. It was a bit like your Dad looking at your boyfriend choice and going “Really? Why?? Well, we are going to have to have a serious talk about this later, young lady!”

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Clara being unencumbered from being the deus ex machina “Impossible Girl” is fantastic and becoming one of my favorite companions.

Which means she has to meet a sad end. :(

A very fine episode. Love Capaldi. Love Coleman.

Love a little gratuitous “spillage”. :)

I will hate to see it end. But all things must end, that’s Doctor Who for you.

caretaker poster

Playing Who

Peter Capaldi: 'I love being Doctor Who'

Peter Capaldi: ‘I love being Doctor Who’

Peter Capaldi has joked that his Time Lord character Doctor Who is “far more exciting” than his real self.

Capaldi was speaking about his first season playing The Doctor during an appearance last night (Sept 27) on BBC One’s The Graham Norton Show.

“I love being Doctor Who,” he told Norton. “I wake up in the morning and I’m Doctor Who, and when I go out to the shops and buy a pint of milk, I’m Doctor Who.”

He added: “Everywhere I go I am The Doctor and everyone smiles at me – they are pleased to see Doctor Who, who’s far more exciting than I am!”

Capaldi went on to reveal that his most awkward encounter with a Doctor Who fan occurred just after his casting in the iconic role was made public.

“The day after I was announced as The Doctor, I went to buy a light bulb in an old hardware store . . . and a bloke came out from behind the counter with a sink plunger stuck to his head [like a Dalek].” (RT)

The episode Graham Norton will be on BBC America this coming week.

I am liking this Doctor a lot more. He very blunt. He can be very funny. He’s not into much nonsense. And he not the “Madman in the Box” that his predecessor was.

He’s exasperating to his control freak companion, which is hilarious.

I don’t think the 11th Doctor could have pulled off that Bank Heist because he would feel the need to be “mad” rather than straight.

The “fairy Tale” has ended and this more like “real life”.

But so far, it’s not as “Dark”, IMHO, as advertised on the tin.  But highly enjoyable, mostly at Clara’s expense mind you.

Maybe that comes in the second half. That would be a VERY Moffat thing to do.

We’ll see.
Up later today, “The Caretaker”. If The Doctor shows up at your work place should you be scared?

Last time he had a “job” it was in a Department Store that had Cybermen underneath it.

That would be a Yes! :)

A Brief History of John Smith

Metro Magazine (UK)

Doctor Who: A brief history of the Doctor's alter ego John Smith
The Doctor goes under cover as John Smith in The Caretaker (Picture: BBC/Adrian Rogers)

This week’s episode of Doctor Who sees everyone’s favourite Time Lord (actually, mine’s the Master, but never mind that) go undercover in Coal Hill School, posing as the new caretaker, John Smith.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this name crop up, and doubtless it won’t be the last. But who is this mysterious Mr Smith, and where did he come from?

Murky Origins

While the Doctor was happy to be known to a great many people as the Doctor, it could occasionally land him in hot water – as it did in The Gunfighters (1966), when the First Doctor misunderstood an Arizona local’s use of the word ‘Holliday’ and almost got himself shot in the process.

He later introduced himself as ‘Doctor Caligari‘, causing the Sheriff to remark ‘Doctor Who?’ – to which the Doctor replies ‘Yes, quite right’.

Curiously, the first recorded usage of John Smith as a Doctor alias seems to have come from one of his companions.

On board an enormous circular space station, Jamie is forced to improvise when the ship’s medic asks him the Doctor’s real name, which the highlander then reads off a piece of medical equipment that’s been made by John Smith & Associates.

The Second Doctor’s reaction is one of surprise – it’s clearly news to him, having referred to himself as ‘Doctor von Wer’ (which sort of, but doesn’t quite translate from German as ‘Doctor Who’) some stories earlier.

This was later retconned (more or less), with the First Doctor using the name in various (unofficial) prose encounters, and the Eleventh Doctor carrying a library card containing the name ‘John Smith’ and a picture of William Hartnell.

Still, it’s the Tenth Doctor who pays tribute to Jamie in Tooth and Claw (2006), when he introduces himself to Queen Victoria as ‘Doctor James McCrimmon, from the township of Balamory’.

‘I used to have a friend who went by that name’

Having a recognisable (if formulaic) name can be handy if you need to be in the system, or if you just need to get an irritating military type off your back.

The Second Doctor, finding his pleas of ‘just call me Doctor’ ignored, referred to himself as John Smith when being interrogated by a German officer in The War Games (1969) – earning him the response ‘Good. Now we are getting somewhere’.

Meanwhile, stranded on Earth, the Third Doctor registers as scientific advisor to UNIT using the same name, and was happy to be known as Dr Smith for years to come. How else was he going to get that driving license?

References to Balamory aside, it was the Tenth Doctor who was perhaps the most prolific user of the Smith identity.

The words ‘John Smith, insert Random Authority Figure here’, accompanied by a fleeting glimpse of the psychic paper, were almost as commonplace as his endless assurance that he was so, so sorry.

Not that the rationale wasn’t sound. The use of John Smith came in handy when you were desperate to pretend that you weren’t the Doctor, as the Tenth Doctor did when introducing himself to an amnesiac Donna Noble (Journey’s End) or a traumatised Victorian gentleman who had convinced himself that he was a Time Lord (The Next Doctor).

When the Doctor bumps into an older, wiser Sarah Jane in School Reunion (2006), he’s posing as a teacher called John Smith – Sarah Jane picks up on the reference, recognising it from her travels with the Third and Fourth Doctors, but it’s not until she sees the TARDIS that the penny drops. (She would later acquire a sentient computer with much the same name, which she summoned from the wall with the words ‘Mr Smith, I need you!’)

Not long afterwards, the Doctor assumes a human identity in order to escape from the Family of Blood, and it is the TARDIS that sets him up as a history teacher called – well, I don’t need to finish that sentence, do I?

Still, the Doctor’s attempts to put people at ease could backfire.

Trapped in a damaged space shuttle crossing the surface of the planet Midnight, and facing an unknown, faceless entity that has possessed one of the other passengers, the Doctor faces the ire of his already suspicious shipmates when he tries to pass himself off as John Smith, only for a scientist (played appropriately enough by Patrick Troughton’s son David) to retort ‘Your real name’.

When he refuses to cooperate they try and throw him off the ship, which might be interpreted as an overreaction.

By the time Matt Smith (no relation) was in the TARDIS, the John Smith moniker seemed to have almost-but-not-quite worn off.

The psychic paper was more or less present and correct, but the name, for the most part, was very much Doctor – as we see in Closing Time, when he gets a job selling toy helicopters in a department store while wearing a name badge reading ‘The Doctor’.

It’s all too much for Craig Owens, although not for his infant son Alfie, who then picks ‘Doctor’ as his first word.

In any case: it would seem that John Smith is back, and this time he’s a middle-aged Scot wearing a brown jacket and yelling at litter-dropping twelve-year-olds. And dealing with evil robots, of course.

Whether he keeps the name or not, I have a feeling Jamie would approve.


Like a Rolling Stone…


As the British sci-fi TV show enters its fifth decade with a new ‘Who,’ it remains as popular (and pop-philosophical) as ever


In the opening episode of the current season of BBC’s Doctor Who — the longest-running science fiction show in history, about a humanoid alien who has traveled time and space for a millennium — the Doctor, currently played by Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, is having a tense exchange with his travel companion and assistant, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman). The two have known each other for years now — ages, it would be fair to say. They have been across the universe and back, and they have challenged and uncovered each other’s deepest secrets. At the end of last year’s Christmas special, “The Time of the Doctor,” the Doctor trusted Clara enough to have gone through a kind of death in her presence. He never really dies, however; instead, he regenerates when his body meets fatal limits, materializing again as the same continuous being, though with a different body and personality.

In the Doctor’s two prior incarnations — brilliantly played by David Tennant (from 2006 through 2008) and Matt Smith (2010 to 2013) — everyone’s favorite Time Lord was young and handsome, lanky, goofy, exuberant, full of wonder and bright smiles despite several lifetimes’ worth of terrible memories. Capaldi’s Who, though, is not youthful or ebullient; he’s weary and dour, and he is painfully aware of his dramatic change. The Doctor might not be an attractive or likable man this time around, and his companion might no longer accept him as the man she admired and risked everything for. “Are you cross with me?” he asks. Clara admits that she is. “And if I hadn’t changed my face, would you be cross?”
The question could also be meant for Doctor Who’s audience: Peter Capaldi’s version is, after all, a much different Doctor than the series’ current generation of fans (known as Whovians) has known before. But there’s no real doubt of the answer. Over the course of 50-plus-years (the series debuted in 1963, though was in hiatus from 1989 to 2005) and more than 800 imaginative episodes, Doctor Who now stands, according to the British magazine New Statesman, as one of the U.K.’s most successful cultural exports, and holds the record for “the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama,” after 94 countries broadcast the series’ 50th anniversary special last November. This is to say that what was for decades an acquired-taste curio outside Britain is now a respected and sizable international success that is only gaining momentum. But Doctor Who is also, to be sure, a thoroughly odd show — fanciful, hilarious, terrifying, devastating, all the while making wild leaps — and its success has been as improbable as the stories it tells.
Conceived as a slot-filler to keep a young audience tuned into BBC on Saturday nights (it began the same season that the Beatles skyrocketed in England), Doctor Who at first aimed to be a pedagogical entertainment. The inscrutable Doctor, on the run from his own ancient race of stern Time Lords, and his various companions would travel dimensions and eras in his space ship, the TARDIS (an inspired bit of whimsy that looks like a blue British police box from the 1960s but is vast on the inside). Along the way they visited known events and times as well as future trouble spots on Earth and throughout the galaxy, and their adventures illustrated ostensible lessons in history, behavior, values and science. The Doctor solved some cosmic mysteries, helped some endangered people and races, tried to rectify losses and fears and hurts, nullified tyranny and genocide when possible, and saved the universe and reality over and over — but as a Time Lord he would not overrule major finished history (as example, in a 2011 episode he wouldn’t kill Hitler when given the chance).

At the outset, BBC made plain to the show’s 1963 creative team that Doctor Who shouldn’t feature commonplace science fiction stereotypes of the time, such as robots and terrifying bug-eyed monsters. But after producer Verity Lambert succeeded in delivering an episode about death-dealing robots with a big telescopic eye — the Daleks, bent on annihilating any race that was different from their hatred— it became an overnight sensation. The Daleks, and their repetitive cries of “EXTERMINATE,” became the Doctor’s most indelible enemy, and they have already turned up in the current season. (In 1999, a Dalek appeared on a British postage stamp commemorating the millennium, in an image by renowned photographer Lord Snowdon).
The Doctor himself was always intended to be enigmatic, and has only revealed his true name to one person — and even then it wasn’t said aloud. Though much of his background has slowly been filled in during the last half-century, an unexpected turn at the end of this season’s spooky and surprising “Listen” (many of the show’s best episodes are earth-bound horror tales) indicate that buried and frightening parts of the Doctor’s past still remain to be divulged. Back in 1963, the first actor who played the character, William Hartnell, portrayed him as an aging, sometimes ill-tempered man — which is how some saw Hartnell himself. In the late 1960s, as Hartnell grew older and more tired, and began mistaking script lines, BBC decided to keep the character but use another actor, as a younger man possessing a different face and temperament. As a result, the Doctor became an ongoing consciousness, transfigured from time to time, who remembered his past and purposes but also acquired a new personality.

Over the years, as the character died and regenerated (Peter Capaldi is the 12th or maybe 13th Doctor; it’s complicated), subsequent actors and creative teams have imbued him with intriguing depths and quirks. He has been whimsical, pompous, charming, heroic, angry, ruthless, homely, good looking, even sexy. But as his personality has expanded, the Doctor has stayed true to some core ideals that stand for how humanity should progress: He believes in diversity, in racial and sexual tolerance — he’s even voiced his faith in socialist health care — and attempts to protect the oppressed, especially from violent endings and the ruin of war. Though the Doctor says he’s fought in wars himself, and has maybe killed races, he has no respect for authoritarian or military mentalities, having grown contemptuous of weaponry and violence.

Early in David Tennant’s run on the series, the Doctor summarily destroyed the career of a British Prime Minister who fired on alien enemies that were in retreat. In another Tennant episode, when asked why he doesn’t respect a military commander’s judgment, the Doctor says, “He’s carrying a gun. People with guns are usually the enemy in my book.” Capaldi’s Doctor apparently feels the same. At the end of the new season’s second episode, when a young female soldier asks to join him in his travels, the Doctor replies: “I think you are probably nice. Underneath it all I think you are kind, definitely brave. I just wish you hadn’t been a soldier.” Steven Moffat, the show’s producer and writer, recently told London’s Guardian: “When they made this particular hero, they didn’t give him a gun…. They didn’t give him a tank or a warship or an x-wing fighter…. they gave him an extra heart. They gave him two hearts! And that’s an extraordinary thing.”

He has been whimsical, pompous, charming, heroic, angry, ruthless, homely…even sexy.

It’s true, the Doctor’s alien physiology allows him two hearts, but they hold darkness as well as enlightenment. More than once, Daleks have said they recognize a kinship with the Doctor because of the unexamined anger and hatred at his core. In the present season the Doctor asks Clara, “Am I a good man?” The question catches her short. “I don’t know,” she admits, though she thought she did know once. He’s also capable of displaying a god-sized hubris. In “The Waters of Mars” (a special from 2009), Tennant’s Doctor grew so arrogant in the infallibility of his own judgment and its impact on others, that a female astronaut told him, “No one should have that much power.” The Doctor replied, “Tough…. I’m the winner. That’s who I am. The Time Lord Victorious.” Appalled, the woman asked, “Is there nothing you can’t do?” The Doctor looked at her smugly, and said, “Not any more.” The immediate result of that exchange is the most devastating moment in all of the series’ runs. It leaves the Doctor shaken and trembling alone on a snowy street at night, telling himself in horror: “I’ve gone too far.”
Capaldi has said his Doctor will be “less user-friendly” than before. He seems, if anything, more actively scientific than his earlier selves; at the same time, he recalls less of his former charm and personal experience. Much of this season’s first episode fixed on the bodily age of this new incarnation: He is an older man, with gray hairs and deep lines that furrow his long face and hollow cheeks. (Capaldi is now 55, the same age as William Hartnell when Doctor Who began in 1963.) This new aspect befuddles him. Staring at his image in a cracked mirror in an alley, the Doctor asks a bewildered vagrant, “Have you seen this face before? It’s funny because I’m sure that I have. You know, I never know where the faces come from. They just pop up, faces like this one…. It’s covered in lines, but I didn’t do the frowning. Who frowned me this face? Why this one? Why’d I choose this face? It’s like I’m trying to tell myself something. Like I’m trying to make a point. But what is so important that I can’t just tell myself what I think?”

The comment refers to a critical instance in both the Doctor’s and the series’ history. In a 2008 episode, David Tennant’s Doctor and his assistant, Donna Noble (played by Catherine Tate), landed the TARDIS in Pompeii in the 1st century C.E., the day before Vesuvius would erupt and kill 2,000 people. In that episode, Peter Capaldi played the father of the Roman family that befriends the time-travelers. Though the Doctor knows these people will die within hours, he will not intervene to save them; he insists to Donna that he has no right to change history. As the Roman family cowers in their house, destruction pouring down, Capaldi begs the Doctor to rescue them, but the Doctor boards the TARDIS with Donna and departs. “You can’t just leave them!” Donna tells him, but he answers, “Don’t you think I’ve done enough? History is back in place and everyone dies.” In a prescient moment, Tennant’s Doctor returns and extends his hand to Capaldi and his family, and brings them aboard the TARDIS. This is what Capaldi’s Doctor is trying to recall when he looks into the mirror: a memory of himself saving the man who would later wear his face.

This serendipity is also a telling reminder that for more than 50 years Doctor Who has proven itself a persistently inventive story about humanity, in both historic and personal terms, large and small, as an experiment that fails every epoch and day, yet necessarily goes on and merits conviction. We fuck up a lot — horribly, at times — but we move on. Then we learn a little, and move on a little more. “Look at these people, these human beings,” the Doctor once told an otherworldly despot. “Consider their potential!” History, the Doctor was saying, demands of us that we are sometimes worthwhile. If this new Doctor is still the man we have followed all these years, he will overcome himself whether or not he’s forgotten to remind us of that fact again. (rolling stone.com)

Wedding Plans

Bannakaffalatta to wed Astrid Peth

ACTOR Jimmy Vee once got engaged to Kylie Minogue in Doctor Who – and now he’s out to destroy fellow Scot Peter Capaldi.

Jimmy appears in this Saturday’s story, The Caretaker, as the episode’s main villain, the Skovox Blitzer which is ready to destroy all humanity, as well as 12th TV Time Lord Capaldi.

The actor is no stranger to the show, having appeared with all of the 21st century Doctors.

He featured as the Moxx of Balhoon and a space pig opposite Christopher Eccleston, with David Tennant as the villainous Graske and later the heroic Bannakaffalatta in the 2007 Christmas special Voyage of the Damned, and also encountered Matt Smith, when Jimmy played another alien, a Groske.

The actor, who is 3ft 8ins tall, admitted that the robotic Skovox Blitzer was the most comfortable costume of the lot.

He said: “It was great to get in and out of, as it only took about 10 minutes to get fitted.

“The worst I’ve had was probably either the Moxx or the Groske, as you got the bodysuit on, and then you would have to sit in the make-up chair for hours.

“I can’t say too much about the episode, but it was great fun to do.”

Jimmy admitted he has had a ball working on Doctor Who, and particularly enjoyed working with Glaswegian Capaldi.

He said: “Peter is great – I got on with him really well, with us both coming from Scotland, you automatically have that link.

“He’s playing it quite naturally – it just feels like he’s playing himself and not changing anything to become the Doctor. He’s just going out to do it his own way, his own natural way.

“None of the Doctors I’ve worked with are trying to be something they’re not – Chris, David and Matt, and now Peter.”

Doctor Who’s popularity has spread from the UK to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and a host of other countries, including South Korea, where there is a massive following for the show.

Jimmy said: “It just seems to be taking off all over the world now. I know it went out to America, but it’s getting bigger and bigger – I know it’s popular in Scandinavia. They’re getting the new series, and the fans can go back and check out the other series too, from Chris and Dave onwards.”

Jimmy, who has been invited to attend a number of signing events with fans throughout the UK, added: “I liked getting engaged to Kylie more than destroying the planet – but it’s funny how some of the fans think I really did get engaged to her. People still ask me about that at signings.” (Daily Record)


Good Grief…

BBC receives complaints about unfair product placement after the Doctor’s assistant is shown clutching a copy of the paper.

Is the Guardian the newspaper of choice on Doctor Who? At least two Whovians seem to think so, lodging complaints with Ofcom that the Guardian has been given an unfair amount of promotion in the hit BBC1 show. The scene that so incensed the complainants featured the Doctor’s companion Clara, a teacher, carrying a clearly identifiable Saturday edition of the Guardian. Complainants said that it amounted to commercial product placement, a regulatory no-no for the BBC. The Twittersphere seemed more concerned why Clara was carrying a Saturday Guardian on a weekday. One tongue-in-cheek response was that the Guardian marketing would have it that as the paper “owns the weekend” there is so much inside it rolls into a weekday read. Monkey’s favourite: “She’s a time traveller”. Ofcom decided that the issue did not rupture the space-time continuum and decided against launching an investigation.

The two probably worked for The Mirror… :)


Speaking of The Guardian

Depressing, isn’t it, that a TV show about an immortal wizard in a knackered phone box is doing a better job at digesting our fears than most newspapers

Doctor who peter capaldi
Peter Capaldi ‘has made the Doctor more … doctory again.’ Photograph: Ray Burmiston/BBC

If I had to hazard a guess about why there are 74 Paranormal Activity movies, I’d say it’s because we have an obsession with fear. Fear sells; just ask the Daily Telegraph. If there really is such a thing as Team Australia*, it is standing on the pitch with terror-piss trickling down its leg in fear of an opponent that might not even be there.

Televisually tapping into this vague sense of dread is a nuanced affair. You can either go full Jack Bauer, screaming into a variety of smartphones (there’s a man who needs his own range of emoticons) while waterboarding anything on dry land. Or you can weave new and terrifying folk tales in the vein of the increasingly impressive Doctor Who.

I’m constantly terrified by the new ways Doctor Who finds to get under my skin. I’m not even a regular viewer – my last heavy investment in the series was a bulk purchase of Jon Pertwee’s episodes some two decades ago). But whenever I have dipped back in, the show’s ever more inventive antagonists leave me wondering if I’ve got enough time on top of hate-reading Twitter and coffeeboarding myself to become a dedicated fan.

The “baddies” in the recent episode, Listen, weren’t even shown, the perfect focus for our fear of fear itself. Cogitating on top of his Tardis like a cross between Buddha and a frowning Glaswegian stick insect, Doctor Who (Peter Capaldi) speculates about a being in the universe so perfect at hiding that the reason we talk to ourselves when we’re seemingly alone is because, deep down, we know we’re not.

It’s a horrifying and unnerving concept: an entity that’s constantly watching you, but that only exists if you don’t know whether it’s there or not – a sort of Schrödinger’s George Brandis. These baddies feel like a more paranoid reiteration of the Weeping Angels that terrorised Carey Mulligan in an earlier series, creatures who threatened only once you stopped monitoring them. Here, instead, we have a malignant presence that may just be our imagination populating the void.

Fortunately the Doctor is here to reassure us. Being scared, he tells a frightened boy, makes us faster and smarter than the thing we’re scared of. Turn our back on it and we’ll realise it’s probably not there at all.

For a show with young viewers, this is an admirable attempt at capturing contemporary issues, and hardly a flippant one: one part of the episode subtly hints that our own obsession with this bogeyman might have created it, while our response to this fear is cyclically renewing it.

It’s slightly depressing, isn’t it, that a TV show about an immortal wizard in a knackered phone box is doing a better job at digesting and interpreting our fears than most newspapers are?

Capaldi keeps the episode moving along with stern aplomb; he has made the Doctor more … doctory again. Every Doctor has his fans and detractors, but I always found the space hipster version not quite my cup of tea. Capaldi wears a skin somewhere between worn history professor and disgruntled surgeon: a cantankerous, strict, efficient sort with flashes of well-placed humour.

His Doctor is accompanied with the usual mix of charming assistant Clara (an excellent Jenna Coleman) and charmingly naff special effects. At one point Clara is “telepathically linked” to the Tardis by putting her hands into some squishy interface. A world removed from anything Apple would pass for market, it was like a church organ keyboard made of glowing pork orifices. But if you’re along for the adventure, who really cares?

Doctor Who is current and necessary watching for those with time to get lost in something both imaginative and meaningful. And Capaldi’s performance, after his tour de force as Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, is fast pushing him into the British treasure file in my brain usually reserved for the likes of David Attenborough and Helen Mirren (for next Doctor, please!). Superb.

As it should be. Best TV show ever. But I might be a bit biased… :)



Actress Keeley Hawes, who starred in this week’s Doctor Who episode Time Heist, will be appearing at a Doctor Who convention next month in London.

Taking place from 10th to 12th October 2014, at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow, Starfury: The Time Of Angels is a three day celebration of BBC’s fantasy series, Dr Who.


Now we just need her for Gallifrey One… :)




Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart) is now signed for Gallifrey 2015!





Spoilers up to the end of series 8 episode 5 of ‘Doctor Who’ follow…

This year’s batch of Doctor Who episodes may be labelled ‘series 8′, but with fifty years of television and a number of ‘seasons’ before the new series, the history of Doctor Who is rich and varied. If you don’t like something in Doctor Who, just wait a while, something else will come along.

With Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who, you don’t have to wait that long. After last week’s character study and legend-building, we end up with a mix of Hustle and Ocean’s 11. It’s not incredibly deep, but that’s fine. Sometimes you need the ‘caper’ episode to romp along so you can appreciate the more thoughtful episodes. This is one of the strengths of Doctor Who. By adopting an anthology approach to serial storytelling (as opposed to a fixed point series such as ‘The West Wing’ or ‘Game of Thrones’) you can take your characters wherever you like. You open up the story possibilities, and you can build a new world every week for the viewers.

You have no idea where the Doctor will end up… which is interesting because neither does the Doctor – more so this week, as he and Clara snap awake to find themselves in a locked room, with two guest stars, and a mystery voice telling them they have to rob a bank. Oh and their minds have been wiped for ‘security’.

Doctor Who, Time Heist (image: BBC Press)

The anthology approach does have a weakness. With each episode looking to be ‘a bit different’ front he previous episode, it’s harder for the audience to quickly engage with the cast. There is no doubt that the Twelfth Doctor’s character is settling down, and the show should heap as much praise as it can on Peter Capaldi’s approach to the central role, but the material he has to work with does not have consistency. Putting aside the topsy-turvy nature of a regeneration episode, the show has presented the viewers with Die Hard (in a Dalek), The Zany Adventures Of Robin Hood, and bedtime stories by M. Night Shyamalan. Next week looks like ‘a Hugh Grant Rom-Com.’

Contrast this with the approach of the ‘classic’ series where single stories stretched over four, six, or even seven episodes at a time. That provided a continuity from week to week, and the stories in each of those seasons tended to play out along similar themes and styles. When you talk about ‘the Barry Letts era’ or ‘the Philip Hinchcliffe era’ you bring to mind not just a mental image of specific Doctor/companion pairings, but also of the types of story (Letts focused on Earthbound ‘action series’ stories with a gentle line in buddhism running through Pertwee’s Doctor, while Hinchcliffe worked within ‘gothic horror’ and the eccentric Tom Baker).

Doctor Who, Time Heist (image: BBC Press)

Television changes, and throughout its fifty years, Doctor Who has changed with the times and kept pace with developments, techniques, and style. From the early black and white episodes that were little more the theatre pieces with a camera to relay the image to the audience, through to the cinematic spectacle that is broadcast every week, Doctor Who changes.

That’s the principle Time Heist reminds me of. Every week something new comes along. Every year something notable changes. Every few years a major change in the production team affects the program. And measured over decades, you can see societal changes reflected in the show.


Time Heist illustrates all of that, in a delightful 45 minutes that may not have been the most challenging, but it  certainly provided an enjoyable romp.

Next Week…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.

And it’s in at 8:30pm in London! Yikes! Talk about potentially falling apart. But recent Doctor Who has been saved by the fact that it’s the most time-shifted, recorded, iTunes watched show.




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