Rose: 10 Years Later
It isn’t the best episode of the last 10 years by a long shot, but if you have never seen the show it’s the place to jump on board because it gives you everything you need to get started in the modern age.
My first episode as many who’d read this blog or know me personally, was “Ark in Space” Part 2. My intro was the Wirrn falling out of the medical closet.
That’s a terrific story, especially in 1982 when I started my Whovian Life. Followed by Genesis and the Hincliffe/Holmes “golden era” it was perfect.
But lots has changed in 33 years. Especially, that now 10 years on from the reboot Doctor Who is notn only a worldwide phenomenon but it’s cool to be a Whovian. That’s something I never get used to. 🙂
So let’s join Digital Spy in a retrospective of that first foray into NuWho…
It’s crazy to think now, 10 years on, that the reputation surrounding Doctor Who before the broadcast of series one episode ‘Rose’ – starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper – in 2005, was not what it is now.
In fact, in the pre-2005 Who landscape, it’s safe to say that in terms of the general public and especially in the media, the series was regarded as a bad joke. And not even a very good bad joke at that.
But before another lazy journalist had the time to type “wobbly sets” for the 13th time that hour, a masterstroke was pulled – the BBC presented Christopher Eccleston as the next actor to play the Time Lord – a statement of intent by Russell T Davies and his production team.
Eccleston, not known for his family roles, was an immaculate choice but it’s interesting to note that, despite having worked together on The Second Coming just a couple of years previous, RTD didn’t think Chris would be keen. It was, in fact, the Northern actor who contacted Davies asking to be considered.
How different things could have been had Hugh Grant said yes.
Opening episode ‘Rose’ is still a fascinating and thrilling story (and we’ll assume you’re watching it today to celebrate). Showrunner Davies invited the audience into the world of Doctor Who through Billie Piper’s hugely engaging and spirited London shopgirl, Rose Tyler.
The chemistry between the two was instant too. From “Run for your life!” to the easy-going chat in her council flat (and also that amazingly funny scene with Rose’s mom Jackie trying to seduce the stranger in her boudoir) to the Doctor explaining the turn of the Earth to the now legendary, “Lots of planets have a North!”, the Doctor and Rose were a charming couple from the get-go.
Writer Davies positioned them as the reason to watch, placing monsters and aliens and space and time-travel into second place as a base from which their relationship could grow and true drama unfold.
Rose’s quick in-and-out, run-around and then full entry was exquisite, and just how a first scene in the TARDIS should be for a companion (and a new audience) – full of wonderment, apprehension and magic. Kudos to the director for such a thrilling and dynamic shot as we all enter the ship to discover its Narnia-like qualities.
Another way in which ‘Rose’ grabbed the audience in was the immediacy of its location filming. London had been used in Who’s past to excellent effect in William Hartnell’s ‘The War Machines’ and Patrick Troughton’s ‘The Invasion’, but, for the first time, the Doctor and his companion were inhabiting London, and indeed the Earth, with the rest of its population.
It felt real as the world whizzed by around them (again, used to great effect in the Slitheen two-parter later that same year) and added veracity to the alien invasion, complementing the drama – and of course, the location shooting gave rise to that wonderful Ninth Doctor gag involving the London Eye. Fantastic.
It has to be said, however, the episode is not perfect. The lighting and almost soft-focus camera work dates the first series somewhat and certainly juxtaposes when you watch the more crisp HD episodes since 2009.
And the CG work with a certain burping bin doesn’t quite hit the mark in the same way that the space station scenes in just the following episode, ‘The End of the World’, or the landscape of World War II London in ‘The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances’ do. A small point, though.
The response to New Who was incredible. Over 10 million people in the UK alone watched the return of the Time Lord, and reviews were unanimously positive. Overnight, the sour reputation Doctor Who was lumped with had disappeared completely. It had become a national treasure once more, with everyone talking about it, not just the online community.
So, happy 10th anniversary, new Doctor Who, and a heartfelt thank you to Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Russell T Davies, executive producer Julie Gardner and all the rest of the team who not only brought back the world’s greatest television show, but restored it to shine like never before.