10 Years ago…
In celebration of our Doctor Who 10th birthday countdown, we present the original feature from Radio Times magazine that introduced the Tenth Doctor.
Let’s do the Time Lord again…
Couture fans looking to copy the new Doctor’s Christmas fashion sense should seek out something fiercely un-natty made of cotton, with pale blue, brown and white stripes, and top it with a dark blue dressing gown. Pyjamas are in, this festive season, down Gallifrey way.
All right, so he’s recovering from his metamorphosis, and even a Time Lord needs comfy bedwear. “As is the tradition, there’s a sort of post-regenerative trauma,” says David Tennant.
“There were a few days when I just got to lie there while everybody else acted about me, which was a nice gentle introduction.” But at some stage he has to rise out of his lazy bed and rediscover previous form, rather than let his young companion Rose Tyler do all the dirty work.
The first alien that Tennant encounters is a killer Santa Claus. Actually, “there’s more than one,” he says, “and these are not out-of-work actors in Harrods for the Christmas break. They’re from another place. There’s always something disturbing about the very familiar when it goes off-centre. Like clowns – they can be very scary.” Quaking in your Christmas stockings yet? Tennant continues: “That’s what’s great about the show – it brings the universe to a very domestic level.”
But the Santas are just a sideshow, it turns out. “They’re a kind of trailer for the real big baddie.” That’ll be the Sycorax Leader. Six and a half feet of towering bone and muscle, dripping the spoils of victory: shrunken heads, victims’ kneecaps, that sort of thing. Oh, and clutching a broadsword. And Tennant has to fight him.
Gruelling stuff? “I suppose,” says Tennant. “Filming [for the new series] lasts 38 weeks. It’s relentless, certainly, but it’s not like a real job. Daily, it’s incredibly exciting because it’s so mind-expanding and bonkers!”
Rose in charge….
Under current guidelines, a woman’s work is never done. And Christmas is just the busiest time. Presents to wrap, tree to decorate, mince pies in the oven and, in Rose Tyler’s case, a world to save from alien invasion. With the Doctor lying in bed, nursing a post-regenerative hangover, he’s not a lot of use for early swathes of the Christmas special.
So Billie Piper has to carry the episode. “When I first read the script, I was thinking, ‘Bloody hell! I’m left to make all the decisions!’ That was scary,” she admits. “I never feel like I’m in charge, as Rose or as myself. But it actually worked very well.
“What I forget is that even in the earlier episodes of series one, Rose gets the Doctor out of trouble. She instigates a lot of it.”
Rose has her share of heroics in The Christmas Invasion, too, as she, mum Jackie and on/off boyfriend Mickey square up to the zombie Santa Clauses and the odd killer Christmas tree.
“When I read the script, I thought, ‘This is quite dark and kids will be petrified to go near their Christmas trees.’ But they love being scared,” says Piper with glee. “This show sends your imagination crazy, and that’s so brilliant.
“But I’m a Christmas freak so I was in my element. I’ve got fairy lights in my house all year round and I once kept a Christmas tree up until the end of February. Getting rid of a tree is like leaving a friend or loved one,” she says.
Even a killer Christmas tree?
Jackie plays mum
Prepare to see a different side of Jackie Tyler. The one-woman soap, all bleached hair and simmering libido, is turning over a new leaf. Sort of. As Christmas trees attack and Santas turn bad, Jackie is on hand – and there’s that handsome Doctor lying in bed in her flat, clad only in pyjamas. “I’m very proud of her, because she restrains herself from being a complete floozy,” says actress Camille Coduri. “Instead she becomes very nurturing. She tries to get things going, to look after people. She’s very concerned, and there’s a side of her that you’ve not seen before–she’s less selfish, amazingly so. Because she’s very self-centred, really.”
Rose, her daughter, may have the time-travel/alien-battling stuff worked out but, as Coduri observes, “Jackie’s still grappling with it. Also the Doctor has changed. She’d just got used to the other one [played by Christopher Eccleston], and suddenly . . .”
Jackie quite fancied the previous Doctor, didn’t she? “She did. Very much. And she really fancies this one, as well. A lot!” Coduri elaborates: “I think both Rose and Jackie are in love with this man, because he’s quite wonderful. He’s the Wizard of Oz. And he’s gorgeous and divine!”
Mickey toughens up
Open the year: Noel Clarke begins Doctor Who fighting off a wheelie bin. Close it: now he’s doing battle with a Christmas tree. It’s been that kind of 2005.
Gamely, he shrugs: “It’s been crazy, but I’ve never been averse to fighting inanimate objects that come to life.”
Well, actually, he has. Or rather, his character has. Mickey Smith used to be a right coward. Clarke even began to sense a chill when out and about.
“I went to a Doctor Who convention and people were going, ‘He’s a bit of a weed, isn’t he? When’s he going to get braver?’ ” The answer, happily, is: round about now. When Jackie Tyler’s Christmas tree comes to life and starts rotating, whirring razor-sharp blades, it’s Mickey who’s up there with a chair–a chair rigged with mini pyrotechnics to make the sparks and “pt-pt-pt” sound as its legs are systematically chopped down to size — playing the hero.
“It’s nice because Mickey is developing,” says Clarke. “He was getting unpopular as he was so cowardly, but I have a sneaking suspicion that will all change. I can’t tell you what I know — it’s top secret — but I seriously think he’s going to be very popular by the end of all this.”
Posted on March 19, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged 10th Anniversary, BBC, christmas invasion, David Tennant, Doctor, Doctor Who, doctorwho, jackie, Mickey, Rose, RTD. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.