Elementary, My Dear Holmes

Thirty years ago today we lost one of the great writers of Doctor Who, when Robert Holmes died at the tragically early age of 60.

By far the best writer of The Classic Era of WHO.

It is difficult to exaggerate the impact of Robert Holmes on the series. He wrote 72 episodes, spread across 18 stories as well as being Script Editor throughout the first half of the Tom Baker era.

The so-called “Golden Age” of Hinchcliffe/Holmes.

He created Jo Grant and Sarah Jane Smith, The Master and The Valeyard, The Autons and The Sontarans. He was the mastermind who named Gallifrey and then reinvented the Time Lords giving them Borousa and Rassilon. He devised The Key to Time and The Matrix, The White and Black Guardians. He imposed the 12-regeneration limit for Time Lords.

40 years later his Time Lords still reign in the Gallifreyan Mind Set.

His characters were exquisitely written. Whether petty bureaucrats or megalomaniacs, they lived and breathed thanks to Holmes. Characters such as Sabalom Glitz, Henry Gordon Jago, George Litefoot, Sharaz Jek, Irongron and Pletrac.

Robert Holmes wrote the story voted Best Story of all time in the 2009 DWM readers survey, The Caves of Androzani.

(came in 4th in 2014).

Writing in 2008, Russell T Davies paid tribute to Holmes’ legacy,

Take The Talons of Weng-Chiang, for example. Watch episode one. It’s the best dialogue ever written. It’s up there with Dennis Potter. By a man called Robert Holmes. When the history of television drama comes to be written, Robert Holmes won’t be remembered at all because he only wrote genre stuff. And that, I reckon, is a real tragedy.
Robert Holmes IS Classic Who.
Major characters and concepts created for or debuting in a Robert Holmes script include:

The Krotons
The Third Doctor
Liz Shaw
The Nestene Consciousness and the Autons
The Master
Jo Grant
Mike Yates
Sarah Jane Smith
Gallifrey – First identified as the homeworld of the Time Lords in The Time Warrior. It had previously been seen but not named.
The Sontarans
The Matrix
The Eye of Harmony
Romana I
The Key to Time
The White Guardian
The Valeyard
Sabalom Glitz
The 12-regeneration/13-life limit for Time Lords.

Televised scripts Edit

The Krotons
The Space Pirates
Spearhead from Space
Terror of the Autons
Carnival of Monsters
The Time Warrior
The Ark in Space – based on a script by John Lucarotti
Pyramids of Mars – credited as Stephen Harris
The Brain of Morbius – credited as Robin Bland, based on a script by Terrance Dicks
The Deadly Assassin
The Talons of Weng-Chiang
The Sun Makers
The Ribos Operation
The Power of Kroll
The Caves of Androzani
The Two Doctors
The Mysterious Planet
The Ultimate Foe – first episode (The Trial of a Time Lord Episode 13) only

Robert Holmes was also commissioned to write Yellow Fever and How to Cure It for the original season 23 but this story was never made. Apparently it would have been set in Singapore and featured the Master, the Rani and the Nestenes.

If Only…

BBC Wales is looking for floor runners to work on the next series of Doctor Who based in Cardiff.

The jobs are offered as a 10 month, full-time contract. Applicants must have previous drama experience. They need to be able to cover for the 3rd Assistant Director as required, and demonstrate they have the stamina required for the job.

Floor runners work on the set, supporting the 3rd Assistant Director. They co-ordinate with the production office for the distribution of packages, scripts, re-writes etc to the cast and crew on the floor. They provide hospitality for crew and artists (tea/coffee making) along with undertaking the transport of crew and artists as required. They assist the Assistant Director team in cueing artists and locking off filming areas and act as a first point of contact for a range of both internal and external callers and visitors.

Applications close on 25th May and can be made via the BBC Careers Website

Bride of Who

Wales Online: It’s the moment that sci-fi fan Andrew Reynolds will never forget – when he received an out-of-this-world video message at his wedding from his favourite Doctor Who .

The surprise video, featuring Tom Baker, was planned in advance by his bride Emma Harris who started putting together the gift 18 months before their wedding at Cardiff Castle .

The star-studded video also included good wishes for his wedding day from fellow Doctor Who stars Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred, and Katy Manning, as well as Battlestar Galactica cast members Tricia Helfer and James Callis.

Tom Baker pictured with Emma Harris and Andrew Reynolds

The groom couldn’t take it all in

The messages were played as a surprise for the groom at the start of the customary wedding speeches.

And it certainly went down well with unsuspecting Andrew who couldn’t quite believe his luck, according to Emma.

“To say it was a complete surprise and shock for him is putting it mildly,” said the 27-year-old from Rhoose.

“He just kind of fell apart. His little face went so red and he couldn’t say anything. I said: ‘Just enjoy it and take it in’.

“I think he’s watched it more than 20 times since because he couldn’t quite take it in on the day.”

This picture pretty much sums up his reaction:

Emma said she was thrilled all her hard work had paid off and was so grateful for the help she received from Andrew’s favourite sci-fi stars.

“I’ve been with Andy for 10 years now and he’s just the biggest Doctor Who fan I’ve ever known,” she said.

“He’s loved the show since he was five. He likes all the classic stuff instead of the new.

No better wedding present for a man with a ‘geek den’

“He constantly gets me to watch it – and I’m getting there with it,

“Our attic room is a complete geek den with monster figurines everywhere so I thought what would be a better wedding present than getting him some video messages.

“It started off with Doctor Who – then I looked at other shows such as Battlestar Galatica.

“I thought Twitter would be a lot more effective in trying to contact people so I sent some tweets out and lots of people came back to me and were happy to record messages, which was amazing.”

The fourth Doctor Who: Tom Baker (1974-1981)
Tom Baker in his Doctor Who heyday, from 1974-1981

Another Baker was the key to success

When she started out on her quest Emma admitted she didn’t think she would be successful.

“I didn’t think it would happen,” she said. “I didn’t think I would get a single one.”

However it was tracking down a couple of former Doctor stars in South Wales that helped her get off to a flyer.

“I found out Colin Baker was at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff so I went down to catch him.

“Then I discovered Sophie Aldred was in Penarth about a month later. All the others came through Twitter.”

Biggest Doctor Who fan ever?

The video was the piece de resistance for 30-year-old Andrew who, by Emma’s description, is “the biggest Doctor Who fan ever.”

“I probably couldn’t even put into words how big a fan he is,” she said.

“He lives and breathes it. I think if I wasn’t into it I don’t think our relationship would work.

“We are forever watching old episodes of Doctor Who. Sometimes he’ll bribe me and say ‘I’ll buy you an Indian if you let me watch an old Tom Baker Doctor Who episode’.

“If someone buys me a takeaway I’m happy.

Bride Emma is more of a William Hartnell woman

Is Emma a geek too?

She added: “I would say now I’m quite a big fan. I do prefer the classics but I’m different to him in that I love William Hartnell – the first doctor.

“I’ve become a bit of a sci-fi geek myself now.”

The pair, who now live in Cardiff, met through mutual acquaintances and grew up living a street away from each other in Rhoose.

And Emma joked that her new husband had some brownie points to amass following all her hard work.

“Definitely! I want some serious white gold or platinum now to pay me back for my efforts,” she said.

“Seriously, though, all I needed was his reaction to the video, which was was absolutely incredible. I’m happy with that.”

The Fight at the OK Corral

Originally envisaged as an ongoing serial, the first three years of Doctor Who rolled on from episode to episode, each individually titled with no ‘umbrella’ name to associate discrete stories, just an overall theme that changed every few episodes or so, and often linked through cliff-hangers (quite literally in the case of Desperate Measures) or where a plot might suddenly catch the audience by surprise (such as at the end of The Plague).

However, after some 118 episodes new producer Innes Lloyd decided to revitalise the series, seeing the following episode to be broadcast adopt an overall name, and supporting cast disbanded over the next several weeks (not to mention a Doctor himself not that long thereafter!). And so, fifty years ago today saw the transmission of The OK Corral, the end of individual episode titles and the beginning of a controversy that fans still argue about today:

What should we call these discrete adventures of Doctor Who?

It wasn’t until the 1970s that an emerging organised fandom would start to discuss their memories of long-since unseen adventures, and what they should be called – a common name would of course make sense so we would know we’re talking about the same thing (would “the one with the Daleks invading Earth” or “the one with Napoleon in” ever catch on?). The Tenth Anniversary special edition of the Radio Times gave a first stab at this, though that tended to use the first episode of the serial as the name. Then, the revised The Making of Doctor Who book by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke published by Target provided another list of the stories, with many more familiar titles but some still a little different to what sits on DVD shelves of fans today (anyone watching The French Revolution tonight?). However, it was the publication by Target of the first edition of The Doctor Who Programme Guide by Jean and Randy L’Officier in 1981 that solidified a naming scheme that became ‘universal’ in fan usage and is still recognisable across the BBC brand to this day.

By the 1990s, however, the established names were beginning to be challenged by researchers who now had access to BBC records, uncovering a wealth of documentation that were to reveal titles used by the contemporary production teams and BBC Enterprises for promotion overseas. Some were quite trivial amendments – The Dalek Masterplan is now considered The Daleks’ Master Plan (even within the BBC’s online Doctor Who section), and The Massacre has become a rather more wordy The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve. Others aren’t generally used – “Doctor Who and …”  has never taken on (except in the cast of a certain early Pertwee serial!), and only the ‘hardened fan’ ever refers to Mission to the Unknown as Dalek Cutaway! It’s the naming of the first three serials, however, that remains the most hotly contested …

The Radio Times Tenth Anniversary special and The Making of Doctor Who originally used An Unearthly Child, The Dead Planet and The Edge of Destruction; then the Doctor Who Programme Guide and the Radio Times Twentieth Anniversary special utilised The Daleks for the second serial; when The Sixties was published in 1992, the first three serials were now referred to as 100,000BC, The Daleks, and Inside the Spaceship, but by the time the same authors published The First Doctor Handbook in 1994 the second serial had become The Mutants. These last three names are the ones adopted by the official Doctor Who Magazine (and also used on the covers of The Complete History series of books) – though the names often include an “aka” to the “common name” that everybody is more familiar with!

(Interestingly, narration scripts for the fourth serial referred to it as Journey to Cathay – this might have ended up as another debate, but fortunately director Waris Hussein re-iterated in Doctor Who Magazine last year that the production team considered it as obscure a title to viewers as the one they ultimately decided to use, Marco Polo!)

The OK Corral (Next Episode Caption) (Credit: BBC)

Does the name used really matter, though?** In the case of the second serial this is certainly an issue as, without context, the person mentioning it might mean the Jon Pertwee story that happens to officially hold that name on-screen. So perhaps The Daleks makes more sense – until one thinks of the episode that officially holds that name within The Dalek Invasion of Earth! In the latter case, however, most will accept the story name as the main identifier (another example of a name clash occurs between Inferno the episode and Inferno the story!)

At least Innes Lloyd’s team alleviated fans’ heated naming debates by introducing serial names … unless you count the title of the aforementioned Pertwee ending in Silurians (though that isn’t too disimilar to the original Next Episode caption for The Savages), or the on-screen title of the first episode of Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

Of course this isn’t the end of the debate, as the ‘father’ of modern Doctor Who, Russell T Davies fully knew when he re-ignited such discourse through his first two-parter of the returning series, the individually named Aliens of London and World War Three.

The composition of what constitutes a story itself is also something that isn’t without debate. Colin Baker’s last season is one such example: is it one long story or four individual, connected adventures? Again, the modern series offers up such conundrums, with one often-cited example series three’s Utopia, The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords: a three-parter or a single/two-parter? It isn’t too surprising that the two latter examples have been interpreted differently depending on which story milestone is being marked! Can this be taken too far, however: the very first serial is sometimes described as being two stories, the An Unearthly Child introduction and then a three-part 100,000BC (or The Tribe of Gum as the Doctor Who Programme Guide indicated), with the rolling series cited as a valid reason for such an interpretation.

Ultimately, of course, it is entirely up our readers as to whether they prefer one title to another – indeed, searching the Internet can often find alternatively titled covers to those used by the BBC in order to grace those DVD shelves!

Little did Verity Lambert and team know what they would be unleashing upon fandom when those originals serials went out ‘nameless’, but at least after the closing credits of The OK Corral we would have a – fairly – consistent naming scheme for the rest of the Doctor’s 20th Century adventures!

The Gunfighter: The OK Corral (Credit: BBC)
So the Earps and the Clantons are aimin’ to meet,
At the OK Corral near Calamity Street.
It’s the OK Corral, boys, of gun fighting fame,
Where the Earps and the Clantons, they played out the game.

They played out the game and we nevermore shall
Hear a story the like of the OK Corral.

** The answer is “of course it matters”, otherwise we wouldn’t be the fans we are!

Pertwee Missed

It was twenty years ago today, on Monday 20th May 1996, that we lost the irrepressible, the inspirational, the uniquely talented man that was Jon Pertwee.

John Devon Roland Pertwee was born in July 1919 in London, a few months after the end of World War One. He joined a long established theatrical family, the son of the actor and playwright Roland.

Pertwee had a varied education after being expelled from a number of minor public schools. From the start his firm convictions and refusal to bow to authority, created friction with those in power and forced his premature departure. The same happened when he trained as an actor where, at RADA, despite rave reviews from a visiting Noel Coward, he was eventually dismissed for refusing to play a Greek wind.

In 1939 War broke out and Pertwee joined the Royal Navy. He was a member of the crew of HMS Hood, escorting Russian Convoys, transferring off the ship just three days before it was sunk with the loss of all but 3 hands. Joining Navel Intelligence he was thrust into the world of espionage, working alongside James Bond creator Ian Fleming and reporting directly to the Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The full extent of His top secret work was not revealed until an interview was published long after his death.

I did all sorts. Teaching commandos how to use escapology equipment, compasses in brass buttons, secret maps in white cotton handkerchiefs, pipes you could smoke that also fired a .22 bullet. All sorts of incredible things.

Post war he began making a career as a jobbing stage actor and Radio Comedian. His talent for accents gained him a role in Waterlogged Spa playing an ancient postman. His success was rapid and by 1948 he was being billed as The Most Versatile Voice in Radio. His longest running role was as Chief Petty Officer Pertwee in The Navy Lark, which he played from 1959-1977.

Small roles in feature films followed, including parts in four Carry On films, as well as a burgeoning stage career. He appeared in the 1963 London production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and on Broadway in There’s a Girl in My Soup

In 1967 he was offered the role of Captain Mainwaring in the BBC Comedy Dad’s Army, a role he turned down.

The role that would define him came in 1970 when he was offered the role of the Third Doctor. He was second choice for the role, behind Oliver! actor Ron Moody, but it was a role he embraced and made his own. Initially unsure how to play the role he was advised to play it as himself. “Who the hell is that?” he exclaimed.

Pertwee’s era redefined the show, with the inclusion of UNIT as a regular part of the narrative. The bond formed between the main players was obvious on screen and for many it would be regarded as the golden age of the drama. The team chemistry between Pertwee, Manning, Courtney, Franklin, Levene and Delgado, lead by the production team of Letts and Dicks, created a warm family feeling to the programme and ratings grew after declining towards the end of the second Doctor’s era.

The team began to break up towards the end of 1973. Katy Manning decided to move on and was replaced actress April Walker. Pertwee objected, feeling the chemistry was wrong and Walker was replaced by the more acceptable Elisabeth Sladen who developed a strong bond with Pertwee. By far the biggest loss was the death of Roger Delgado, who was killed in a car crash while filming in Turkey. The loss of his friend affected Pertwee deeply and when producer Barry Letts and Scripts Editor Terrance Dicks announced they were also leaving, he decided to call it a day. He had appeared in 128 episodes of the series, over 52 hours of television.

Post Who Pertwee charmed a new audience, playing the scarecrow Worzel Gummidge in the Southern TV series as well as educating a nations youth in the correct way to cross the road as the voice of the Green Cross Code.

In 1983 he returned to the role of the Doctor in the 20th Anniversary special The Five Doctors. In 1989 he toured the UK in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure and three years later performed in two BBC Radio Drama’s, The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space.

Jon Pertwee was active on the early convention scene, appearing at events on both sides of the Atlantic. He persuaded he old friend Patrick Troughton to attend and their mock feud entertained fans around the world, although it left Terry Wogan perplexed when he tried in on Children In Need. He was the Honorary President of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society.

Pertwee died in the USA in 1996 at the age of 76. His death was shocking as he was so full of life, so irrepressible, so irreplaceable. He was survived by his wife Ingeborg Rhoesa, his son Sean Pertwee, and his daughter Dariel Pertwee.

The mark Jon Pertwee made on the series can never be over estimated and he legacy will live on as long as Doctor Who is remembered. Twenty years on we remember the wonderful, inspirational, immense talent that was Jon Pertwee and thank him for being part of our lives.

Pertwee Ascendant


Six Doctors down, six Doctors to go for Titan’s Doctor Who comics. With tales featuring Doctors 4, 8, and 9 through 12 already coming out from the company, it’s time for even more Time Lord action in the form of Jon Pertwee’s dandy scientist (and Venusian aikido expert), the Third Doctor.

Cornell—best known to Doctor Who fans as the writer of TV episodes like “Fathers Day” and “Human Nature/The Family of Blood” for the series, but also for his comic work on Wolverine, Captain Britain, Action Comics, and more—will be joined by Christopher Jones on art, and Hi-Fi on colors for the five-part miniseries.

The Time Lords

I wrote over the last weekend a Power Point Presentation on “The Time Lords of Gallifrey” (Phoenix Comic Con Thurs Noon- Be There) and it confirmed something I have said about The Time Lords but also something Writer/Script Editor Robert Holmes also said about them, but not exactly these words.

The Time Lords are real bastards.

But then again, they have to be don’t they. They have to contrast with the Hero, The Doctor.

Time Lords are egotistical, pompous, and most of them are corrupt (or corruptable).

“10 Million years. That’s what it takes to be really corrupt” — The Sixth Doctor, Trial of a Time Lord.

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.”–Lord Acton

The Doctor is not immune to it. “Time Lord Victorious” anyone?

But he pulls back when he goes to far.

Let’s review The Doctor’s own history.

He left. (whether he was bored or because of a prophecy)

He’s caught. Put on Trial. Forced to Regenerate against his will because the Time Lords deem it so. He is exiled to Earth without TARDIS technology. Imprisoned, on a desert island of time and space,effectively.

He is pardoned. But not until after they break their own Laws of Time to defeat Omega.

He is used by the Time Lords as there own weapon. Draconia, Davros (“Genesis”)

Speaking of “Genesis”, they also use the Doctor to try and avert or alter the The Daleks, thus starting the Last Great Time War.

Which they lost. But not until after many civilizations fell, and they’d used all the Forbidden Ancient Weapons they were never supposed to use.

Then they sentence The Fifth Doctor to termination so he can get into the Matrix and smoke out Omega.

Then their that whole thing with Borusa and The Five Doctors.

Where The Doctor is elected President for the Second Time and skips out on them a second time. Do they keep electing him because he’s so much less corruptable that they are.

12th Doctor aside, of course.:)

Then they put the Sixth Doctor on Trial. Only it’s a put up job by members of The High Council.

When you have the Master exposing your plan, that’s just a whole suitcase full of bad!

So from Doctors 2 through 6 they are a constant interfering force.

Then the 7th Doctor become a manipulator. The Eight Doctor becomes a Warrior.

And then the Time War.

They resurrect Rassilon, who goes mad.

But then maybe some hope comes of it when The Doctor saves them all, even from himself in The Day of The Doctor.

How they carry on from here, well, The 12th Doctor didn’t exactly have a summer holiday with them either.

The all powerful are scared and frightened.

We shall see, won’t we.




Inside Story

The inside story of how Pearl Mackie was cast as the new Doctor Who companion

They need a suitably grand title, don’t you think? After all, these are the people who hold one young actor’s career in their hands – not to mention the future of a 53-year-old show.

So, this Council of Four (yep, we’re going with this) have a decision to make. They have to choose between five – yes, five – potential stars.

“That had been whittled down,” explains Pryor, who has been involved in casting every Doctor and every Doctor Who companion since the show was revived in 2005. He knows this situation better than anyone else.

“Myself and my team looked loosely at about 70 people, met about 50, and then recalled about 10. Then we brought in the final five with Peter Capaldi.”

Even to get this far is an achievement. A chance to perform opposite Peter Capaldi as the Doctor in a scene written by Steven Moffat? Hell, that’s about as out of it world as it gets.

But for one person, the journey is only just beginning.

“We talked it all through,” says Pryor. “Everybody looked back through the auditions. We shared our views – and it was unanimous.”

Congratulations Pearl Mackie! You’ve got the job. But how?

This is that story.

Andy, how did all this begin?

Every time we start with a part like this you’re sort of starting again. Often with Doctor Who, we’re planning for such a major part – but it hasn’t even been written yet.

Steven wrote some scenes to give us a good steer for the part of Bill, one of which ended up being only a slightly adjusted version of the clip we filmed for the announcement.

Until you have something physical on the page, it’s very hard to pin down what you’re looking for. We wanted someone who was going to be strong, funny, fresh, a new face. And that’s what we found in Pearl.

Was it always the plan to cast an unknown as the next Doctor Who companion?

For this part we definitely wanted someone new. As everybody knows, we’ve often had somebody in the show, and the showrunner has loved them so much that they’ve brought them back. But in this case, we wanted someone new to the show.

Where had you seen her before?

I had seen her in Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, which Pearl is in at the moment. I’d seen her in a couple of Fringe plays. My assistant had seen her in several plays actually, more than I had. We were aware that she was a strong, talented young woman, and it was just a question of time before the right part came along for her.

It’s our job to see an awful lot of theatre; that’s generally where people have their best training in this country. Some weeks I’ll only see one play, other weeks I can be out three nights. I have a team of two, and across the office I’d say we’re probably covering around 300 plays a year.

What made Pearl Mackie right to play Bill?

She arrived fully formed, with a strong personality and a strong sense of herself. A great deal of humour too, which is something we were looking for in this case.

We know – and I’m afraid the audience will have to wait to find out! – a little bit about her background. It wasn’t a prerequisite that she be a Londoner. It just so happened that Pearl is. I know the kind of person Bill is, and the kind of life she’s leading before she meets the Doctor – and Pearl got it.

How did Pearl react to acting opposite Peter Capaldi?

It’s that thing that’s always impossible to put your finger on: chemistry. You can’t predict that until you get them in the room together. When we did it became evident very quickly that they had a spark that was new and exciting and fresh. Peter responded incredibly well to Pearl in her audition. It was like they were feeding off each other, swapping ideas of how they might play the scene. That’s always exciting; it’s full of possibility.

How important was that in terms of the final decision?

I would find it hard to cast a companion without having them in to read with the incumbent Doctor. It’s all about that relationship. They are going to spend months together on and off screen.

Peter did have opinions in recalls, quite rightly, but he also knows you’ve got to look at the long game with it and find somebody who is going to be able to develop across series. He’s always very happy to listen to Steven’s views, my views, Brian Minchin’s views. We very much made the decision with Peter in the room.

You were also responsible for casting BBC1’s Undercover, which has been praised for its ‘colour-blind’ casting. Was that also part of your thinking with Pearl?

I’m quite proud of Doctor Who’s record on this in recent years. It’s television’s job to reflect the world that we live in, and if you can’t do that on a show like Doctor Who, then where can you?

There’s been a lot of discussion about diversity lately, for good reason. It’s a complicated subject, but in the end it’s about anyone growing up and feeling they can have a career in acting, behind the camera or involved in the arts.

Unless you see people like you, it’s quite hard to imagine that it’s a profession that you can go into. The more we can reflect the demographics of the country, the more people will say, ‘Yes I can have a career in that. It’s not just something for a certain type of person.’

There are so many stories to be told and we should be telling everyone’s stories. It is a conscious thing with me to be aware of diversity on everything that I work on.

Pearl was little-known before this announcement. Do you feel responsible for her, making sure she can handle the attention?

Yes I do. It is quite an unusual challenge. Big TV shows these days, there are a lot of associated activities: the tours, the conventions, the additional material. You need them to have their heads screwed on.

We have a duty of care to people, not to throw them into the madness before they’re ready for it.

How long has Pearl known she was the new Doctor Who companion?

We’re talking a matter of weeks. These days it’s very difficult to keep things under wraps. Initially there were only maybe nine or ten people who knew, but as time goes on, that number has to grow because of costume, shooting the special trailer, all the logistical and practical things that surround filming.

The longer time goes on, the more people know, the harder it is to keep a secret. Charlotte Moore [controller of BBC TV and iPlayer] had this great idea of putting it out in the middle of the FA Cup semi-final, because that happened to be the nearest date to when there was a big national event that would get a bit of focus.

As is customary, I called Pearl’s agent with the news, so that she could tell her. Once the news had sunk in, we all caught up with Pearl by phone, text and in person.

How different is it casting for Doctor Who compared to other dramas?

I think when you’re announcing a Doctor or a companion then you do feel the spotlight. These decisions are quite public; there’s an appetite for the news. Whereas most other dramas I work on, people aren’t particularly aware of what’s coming, and there’s little interest before the show comes out.

The thing I love about working on the show, and the reason I’ve stayed with it for so long (apart from the fact that they keep asking me back!), is it’s always so different. Every episode is different.

You don’t know whether you’re going to be casting a historical drama or a space episode, a sci-fi episode, a contemporary British episode, an American episode. Whereas most shows, however well they’re written, you’re still casting a policeman, a nurse, a villain… As great as that is, you’re operating in the same world all the time. With Doctor Who, I never know where I’m going to end up next.

Which is harder, finding the next Doctor or the next companion?

I would say the Doctor. A companion can be anything that a writer wants them to be. But with the Doctor, you’re looking for a particular kind of leading man, a particular kind of leading actor who has to have that innate “Doctor-ness” to them.

I’ve worked on the show for so long now and I could try write down a list of adjectives, but it would be different for every Doctor. But there is always a slight otherness about them. There has to be that real sense of comedy, but also a lot of deep emotion and heart in the performance.

It requires actors who can turn on a penny. It’s never going to be an easy job to pull off – and not everybody can do it.

What was your bravest casting decision on Doctor Who?

I do get asked this a lot and I change my mind quite frequently. But right back at the beginning, casting Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper together has to be up there. A lot of people thought we were quite mad, but there was something about it that just felt right. Billy did an amazing audition, and it was quite exciting to have the public wondering how it was going to work, when we already knew that it would.

And was Peter the easiest, given how much of a fan he is?

I didn’t know quite how much of a fan Peter was before we approached him. I knew he was a fan, but not that it ran so deeply.

It is funny: when Matt Smith left, we didn’t have a policy of where we wanted to go particularly. We just threw the ideas around and Peter kept coming up again and again. It just felt like the right thing to do.

Doctor Who runs in cycles. You have a new companion, and sooner or later a new Doctor arrives too. Have you discussed those plans yet?

No, I quite deliberately don’t ask until the time is right. I’m very much focussed on the show at the moment. Pearl hasn’t even started filming, and I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen beyond this series yet.

What about new showrunner Chris Chibnall? Have you spoken with him yet?

I haven’t yet. I’m thrilled about Chris, I’ve worked with him a lot on Torchwood and Doctor Who. I think he’s the perfect choice, but he’s very busy on Broadchurch now, and will be for the foreseeable. I haven’t had any conversations beyond this series.

And finally, what are you most looking forward to seeing from Pearl Mackie as Bill?

I’m looking forward to seeing that playfulness that you saw in the clip. How that humour and warmth will play out. I think already it’s clear she’s her own person who’s not going to be impressed easily. I think that’s quite a fun thing to explore, and it’s something that Pearl is brilliantly equipped to do.

The Pearl of Cardiff

Pearl Mackie has only been a Doctor Who companion for 24 days… but she’s already an important part of the show’s story. 

So much so that her outfit teased in the Who companion announcement video has already become part of the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. 

Now that’s Marketing and Promotion!

She doesn’t make her first real appearance for a year yet.

Mackie wore an embellished denim jacket and a Prince t-shirt when she was first introduced as new companion Bill – and that costume is now on display for fans to get a closer look at. 

Well, since Prince is now deceased…

We don’t know much about Bill just yet, but we do know she’s a fast mover!

An other of the Wilderness Years Fan Films gets released in July on DVD.

Koch Media has announced the upcoming release of Daemos Rising, the 2004 sequel to the unofficial 1995 Doctor Who feature Downtime, and a follow-up to the Jon Pertwee-era story ‘The Daemons’, which will hit DVD in July.

SEE ALSO: Pre-order Daemos Rising via Amazon UK


In the film, Cavendish is broken by his experiences in Downtime and hides away in a country cottage where he becomes absorbed by the occult. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart of UNIT travels to see him after an appeal for help and together they battle the resurgent evil Daemons from the story of the same name.

Daemos Rising is a unique British 2004 sci-fi movie from the Doctor Who universe (but unofficial) featuring treasured characters and talent from the franchise and only now released on DVD – it’s a must see for fans of the Time Lord. Fully Digitally Remastered for 2016 including an additional 16:9 Widescreen version of the feature for the first time. And including new Special Features.

Starring Beverley Cressman (Downtime) and Miles Richardson (Midsomer Murders) and narrated by Ian Richardson (House of Cards), Daemos Rising is Written by David J. Howe and Directed by Keith Barnfather.

Daemos Rising is set for release on July 18th.


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