Monthly Archives: May 2016

Diversity

 

***WARNING****  You may need your “Safe Space” for this one if you’re hypersensitive and “offend” easily.

(from Screen Rant/DWM):

The new companion, a woman named Bill who’s played by Pearl Mackie, has already been introduced to fans. Moffat recently revealed a little more information about the character, including whether she’ll be in the 2016 Christmas special, and why it was important to him and the producers that she not be played by a white actress.

So all that crap about her acting, her chemistry with Peter, etc was all crap! It’s Political Correctness and her skin color that got her the job!

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I guess not. 😦

Moffat’s statements came from Doctor Who Magazine, which recently published its 500th issue. In it, Moffat discussed both when Bill will make her first appearance as the Doctor’s companion on the show and what time period she hails from. According to Moffat:

    “How we first encounter her, and how we first encounter the Doctor next year, is very unusual for us. We’ll introduce her in the first episode of 2017, and she’ll run throughout that series.”

This confirms that Bill won’t appear in the 2016 Christmas special, which isn’t exactly unusual; most of the Christmas specials have featured one-off companions, or at least companions who weren’t actively with the Doctor either at that point or in the next season.

Doctor Who Pearl Mackie as Bill Doctor Who: Steven Moffat Talks Season 10 Companion & Casting Diversity

Moffat also addressed when Bill is from. Many fans believed that she was from the 80s given how she was dressed in her introduction video. According to Moffat, though, this isn’t the case:

    “She’s from now, yeah. I know there are rumours about her being from the 1980s, but she isn’t. She’s just wearing what young people are wearing now. I know that, because Pearl chose her outfit herself.”

Bill is also the first companion of color on the show since Martha Jones, who was the Doctor’s companion in the 2007 season. While Moffat previously believed that opening the role up to anyone would be best for the show, he eventually decided that the casting team needed to be more selective and target the actors that they really wanted for the show. The team felt that the main roles of the show were dominated by white actors, even though the supporting cast remained diverse; with the casting of Bill, they set out to change this:

    “We decided that the new companion was going to be non-white, and that was an absolute decision, because we need to do better on that.

So much for “casting the best actor for the role”. That wasn’t even on the table. So, the pretense is now gone. Time to cast the 13th Doctor as Woman (or maybe the 13th as Black and then 14th as a Woman and the 15th as Transgendered or “openly Gay”…No Straight White Males allowed ) just because they want to, not because they were the best actor for the job at the time.

We just have to. I don’t mean that we’ve done terribly – our guest casts are among the most diverse on television, but I feel as though I could have done better overall.”

Social Justice Warrior Quota fulfilled. He feels better about screwing all the White actors in Britain. Very “tolerance” and “diverse”.

Doctor Who: Steven Moffat Talks Season 10 Companion & Casting Diversity

He also admits that the role of the Doctor could be open for more diversity in the future as well

AKA FEMALE DOCTOR  Just because it makes their “diversity” guilt sing.

, and reveals that the part has been offered to a black actor in the past:

    “Absolutely it would [be refreshing if the next Doctor wasn’t white]. Two non-white leads in Doctor Who would be amazing. In fact, a lot of people would barely notice … I certainly don’t think there’s ever been a problem with making the Doctor black, which is why it should happen one day. I mean, we’ve tried. The part has been offered to a black actor. But for various reasons, it didn’t work out.”

A Black MALE actor, that is. But Male Actors aren’t “diverse” enough these days are they?

With its focus on travelling through space and time, Moffat claims that Doctor Who “has no excuse” for not including diverse casting choices.

So let’s start a Quota system, just to be “fair”.

The rhubarb about casting “the right person” or the “best actor” no longer applies. Let’s just be “diverse” instead.

As such, it will still be interesting to see what Mackie brings to the role of Bill and how the character adds to the story of the Doctor when she finally makes it to the screen.

Hopefully, she can act and is not just a token of “diversity”.

 

 

20 Years – UK time

Timing was a bit wibbly wobbly for the TV Movie 20 years ago in the UK. It had already aired on FOX in the US to no acclaim and a lot of disrespect because it aired against a top 10 shows season finale.

It was twenty years ago today that that viewers in the United Kingdom were to finally get their chance to see what American viewers had already experienced some thirteen days previously: the inauguration of a new Time Lord in the form of Paul McGann.

The regular series might have been allowed to drift into obscurity in its twilight years, but this was certainly not the case for the Television Movie, which received a generous dose of publicity on television and in the media itself, plus a primetime television slot following the popular soap serial Eastenders on BBC1 on a Bank Holiday Monday – though 8:30pm was perhaps a little late for a younger audience, even during a school holiday.

Though the majority of the British public were unaware or didn’t care that the United States had already aired the special, thirteen days felt an awfully long time for fans in the United Kingdom to wait to see the latest adventure for the Doctor. This was compounded by a further ‘predicament’: BBC Worldwide scheduled its release on VHS on a date that turned out to be before its broadcast on television, and even with a week’s additional delay it was still available to watch a few days beforehand. Should we wait patiently until after it’s been on air before we watch the video, or indulge in the new Doctor’s adventure as soon as possible?!! As members of the Doctor Who News team reflect in their memories below, the decision was definitely not unanimous!

 

One of the longest-serving members of the Doctor Who News team, Marcus Hilton recalls:

Boy it had been a long time coming. By the spring of 1996 we had been starved for new television Doctor Who for over six years. Oh there had been rumours of its return. Many rumours. After all, according to the BBC, it was merely resting, looking for a new format that would take it through the nineties. But most of us didn’t really believe we would see it again. We thought the show lost. A memory only shared by a dwindling band of fans whose fond memories of a much-ridiculed show persisted.

We had the books of course. The Virgin New Adventures. And we had the Video releases, old fondly remembered stories viewable for the first time since transmission. We even had a couple of new Radio adventures to entertain us. But new Television Who? A pipe dream surely.

Doctor Who Magazine had fed us the latest, but by 1996 there had been so many false starts, so many spirits raised then dashed, could it really be happening.

It was happening of course. The Spring Bank Holiday was the target date, but for those of us with a WHSmith nearby D Day was sooner. The video was released about a week before the UK transmission, and we rushed out to get it. “Why buy it?” a colleague asked, “it’s on TV next Monday.” “Err, better quality,” I mumbled, unwilling to be outed as a fan. But truth was I had to have it, I couldn’t wait a few days. It was new Doctor Who. Unheard of. The Holy Grail.

Time has clouded my initial reactions. I know I enjoyed it. I loved Paul McGann‘s performance and enjoyed the story. I found it was a great improvement on the previous few seasons, which hadn’t been entirely to my taste. But I think I knew it probably wasn’t going to get us a new series.

It was a brave experiment, but one ultimately doomed to failure. Doctor Who wasn’t American. It’s ethos was so British it was never going to work as an American production. We enjoyed it, but knew the dream was over. The chance of resurrection had failed. There would be no new series. In ten years time our favourite show would be a dim memory, an antiquated curiosity remembered with affection by a few, but unheard of children of the new Century.

How wrong we were.

One of the youngest members of the team, BBC radio producer and occasional DWM contributor Paul Hayes takes us back to childhood expectations:

The TV Movie was the first time that a significant number of Doctor Who fans in the UK experienced their first viewing of a story at different times, in different ways; a fractured and fragmented experience, as compared to everyone always seeing when it went out on BBC One.

Many, no doubt, will have chosen to wait for the Bank Holiday Monday broadcast on the 27th of May. I was not one of those. I was 12 years old, and utterly impatient to watch brand new Doctor Who as soon as possible. It had been seven long years since the series was last on the air as a new programme; an eternity when you’re that age, especially when you’re looking back through the far-flung mists of time to when you were just five years old.

Yes, there had been a fairly generous number of repeats on the BBC, and these stories were ‘new’ to me, just as the videos I could buy with saved-up paper round money in Volume One or WH Smith’s in Worthing were. But, however much I enjoyed experiencing a Doctor Who story for the first time, I knew that they were not really new.

Not like the TV Movie was.

It’s an interesting contrast with what happened nine years later, with Rose. Then, I very deliberately chose not to watch the leaked version online. I wanted to experience the return of Doctor Who ‘properly’, when it was broadcast on television, to be part of that collective viewing experience. At the age of 12, I wasn’t nearly so fussy. Perhaps if I had been online at the time, and could have joined in with the excited chatter, I might have waited to be a part of it all on the night. Or perhaps it just felt different because the TV Movie’s video release before the broadcast date had been an official process, part of BBC Worldwide’s efforts to squeeze as much money from the venture as possible. The online leak in 2005 obviously wasn’t part of anybody’s plan and, to me, just felt a bit grubby.

There was an online Doctor Who world in 1996, but I was a long way from it, and thus had no idea that the video release of the TV Movie had been delayed. All of my Doctor Who news came from the monthly arrival of Doctor Who Magazine – or perhaps, occasionally, from Ceefax or Teletext if something particularly noteworthy was happening – and so I dutifully got mum to drive me down to Worthing on the original release date, Wednesday the 15th.

The man in Volume One was apologetic, but explained that the video had been delayed by a week. The disappointment was crushing, but the man did his best – he gave me a free poster, a promotion for the TV Movie with McGann’s eyes highlighted by that flash of light. I have a vague memory that we also tried in Smith’s, but it was clear it was no good. I had waited what felt like a lifetime for new Doctor Who, and I was now going to have to wait a little longer.

The following Wednesday, the 22nd, was a wet and miserable day, as I remember. As soon as I got home from school, I phoned Volume One to ask if they had the video in stock, and they confirmed that they did. It was there! It was in! New Doctor Who, so very close now!

Mum learned to drive comparatively late, and had only passed her test about eighteen months beforehand. She didn’t like driving in the rain, and as I excitedly got off the phone and explained that we could now go and get the video, she asked if we really had to go and get it today?

Yes. Absolutely. We did.

Mum, bless her, probably knew that it was a forlorn hope to try and persuade me to wait, and dutifully drove me down town so I could go and buy the precious thing.

Do you remember how oddly smooth the plastic covering of the video case was, compared to the more matt feeling of the ordinary Who releases? How shiny the logo? Just how blue the whole thing was?

It’s always hard for me to try and rationally analyse the TV Movie, just because of how exciting it felt at the time to have Doctor Who back. I think even at the age of 12 I was hopeful rather than confident that there would be more to follow after this, but I do remember enjoying it, as mum and I sat and watched it together as soon as we’d returned home.

Of course it isn’t perfect, but there are so many moments in it to enjoy, and the whole thing is wonderfully produced and performed, even if it’s not the best-scripted Doctor Who story ever to grace the series. Oddly, my one overriding memory of what happened when mum and I finished watching it is me rewinding to re-watch the end credits, because I wanted to double-check the fact that they’d missed out a credit for Ron Grainer, which seemed a shame.

“For the music?” mum asked. I was surprised she either knew or guessed that, and I’m still not sure how she did.

I did watch it again the following Monday, of course. I suspect I’d probably watched it again at least once before then, now I had the video and could do so whenever the TV in the lounge was otherwise unoccupied! I remember being pleased on the broadcast that they had a dedication to Jon Pertwee, but somehow, having already seen it, it did have something of an “after the Lord Mayor’s show” feel.

But an exciting time, nonetheless. Not quite as exciting as what was to come nearly a decade later, mind…

Unlike Paul, a slightly older but none-the-wiser Chuck Foster was one who did await the television premiere of the new Doctor, and how familiar it all felt:

1983. November. There’s a new feature length episode of Doctor Who to enjoy on television very shortly. But then two events occur for the first time in history for UK fandom: the story could be experienced ahead of broadcast through the medium of print, as Target publish The Five Doctors novelisation a day before its premiere on BBC One; and it had already been seen by another country before its UK audience – yes, the bloody American fans (or Whovians as they were known) had got to see our beloved show first, and on the actual anniversary too!

Jump into the TARDIS thirteen years …

1996. May. There’s a new feature length episode of Doctor Who to enjoy on television very shortly. But then three events occur for UK fandom: the story could be experienced ahead of broadcast through the medium of print, as BBC Books publish the novel of the film on the 16th May; it has already been seen by another two countries before its UK audience (including those Whovians again!); but this time around UK fans also had the opportunity to watch Paul McGann in action ahead of broadcast courtesy of the BBC releasing it on VHS a week beforehand!

My little jest makes it sound like we in the UK must have been full of righteous indignation at the affrontary of these pre-emptions, but thinking back on those days I don’t actually recall it being like that at all. I do remember being a little irritated to find out The Five Doctors had been shown in America first some years after the event

True. I still have the VHS tape to prove it! 🙂
, but the fifteen year old sitting there in front of the television on a Friday night had little knowledge of fans outside my group of school friends (I only entered the ‘wider world’ of fandom through DWAS and DWM the following year), and one of my friends reading the novelisation beforehand and subsequently being disappointed at what was on screen is about as controversial as it got! Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Doctors and companions hopping round the Death Zone during Children in Need (and the future me glad that I recorded it, my first Doctor Who on tape!)

The TV Movie: VHS and Novel releases
Could you resist the temptation to watch/read these before broadcast?

Things had changed a lot by the time I was twenty-seven, of course; I was a firm subscriber of DWM and reader of all manner of fanzines, and thanks to the rise of the Internet I was now helping out with DWAS online and deeply involved with the firmly established online fan community, running websites and mailing lists. This newfound widespread accessibility into the – literal – world of Doctor Who, however, was to present its own set of challenges as I certainly didn’t want the TV Movie to be “spoilt” before I got to see it!

It might sound odd to hear that someone active on the news team and an avid follower of filming doesn’t like spoilers, but that’s me! Post 14th May I had to keep away from my usual online haunts to avoid reading something I’d rather not know. I avoided the novel and the VHS releases like the plague, but boy those thirteen days were hard work, especially with other friends who had succumbed to the allure of early access. But somehow I managed to muddle through (though I confess I did watch for screen clips to record for the video collection, so not totally untainted!).

And then it arrived. Monday 27th May. And I really can’t remember what I was doing throughout the whole day any more, the day being overwhelmed by the evening’s forthcoming spectacle. I had probably spent the day out with my then girlfriend on a bright sunny Bank Holiday (we did have them, once), but I know I was home, alone, all set up and ready to watch by the late afternoon, potential disturbances such as the telephone and door bell duly dealt with. Unlike 1983 the video was reserved well in advance for this (two, actually, as my parents’ was also set up as backup!) I recall a brightly lit front room which needed the curtained firmly drawn to enable optimum viewing at 8:29pm. As JNT would say, the memory cheated somewhat too as I distinctly recall watching Batteries Not Included beforehand, but the BBC Genome project shows that film was actually on three weeks previously! Anyway, regardless of how good the actual night’s That’s Showbiz, Watchdog Healthcheck and Eastenders might have been in the run-up before the ‘event’, they have all been lost in the mists of time … whereas the Doctor’s narration over the Master’s “execution” and lead into John Debney’s strident version of the theme still remain indelibly etched within my mind…

There was an older, more ‘regal’ seventh Doctor, who then becomes the younger, boistrous eighth incarnation. It’s Paul McGann! There was the Master, once again stealing others’ lives to hang onto his own survival, corrupting the ‘innocent’ along the way. A brand new TARDIS interior! Shoes! I know I wanted to enjoy it, I really did. But then there was half human on my mother’s side. The Eye of Harmony in the TARDIS? Dressing for the occasion. And of course, that kiss. With hindsight it is far easier to appreciate what it was attempting to achieve with regard to introducing a potential series, but back then I just wanted the Doctor Who I knew back, and this wasn’t it, it was too much like other American-produced drama series – and not even American sci-fi (The X Files was well established by then). With the recent loss of the ‘current’ Doctor Jon Pertwee (and it was nice to see that acknowledged), I think I probably also wanted something to lighten that sadness and unfortunately the TV Movie didn’t quite manage it.

Though of course I did watch it again straight afterwards just to make sure I hadn’t imagined it had come back!

It is a bit weird to look back, now. I know I was disappointed with it back then, but I don’t look back at the period itself in disappointment. We had Virgin, Reeltime and BBV to keep the idea of the show alive in the 1990s, with the mantle later taken up by BBC Books, Big Finish and BBC Online until Russell T Davies arrived to take us into a new age of Who prosperity. But in the middle we had that brief moment when new Who was in production once more, reminding us that the show could (and eventually would) come back.

(I could say we also had Dimensions in Time and The Curse of Fatal Death to enjoy too, but perhaps not!).

Former contributor John Bowman casts his mind back:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

In January 1996, the exciting news had broken that Paul McGann was to play the Doctor in an ambitious attempt to revive the show. At last, the long years of waiting and willing were over, and now here we were just four months later with the new episode about to air in the UK. Fingers were crossed, hopes were high and there was an increasing sense of elation.

It had already been shown earlier in the month in Canada and the USA, of course, but between those transmissions and its broadcast here, fate meted out a cruel blow and brought us crashing down when suddenly, exactly a week before its UK transmission, Jon Pertwee died. Such sadness, such a sense of loss – and, awfully and unbelievably, we’d now consecutively lost each of the first three Doctors just as we were in the process of welcoming a new one.

But as 8.30pm on that Bank Holiday Monday approached and as I pressed record and play on my VHS recorder then settled back to watch (with phone unplugged and doorbell disconnected – just to be on the safe side), excitement was still high. “He’s back. And it’s about time,” the BBC continuity announcer said dramatically. ”Yes, and it’s about bloody time, too,” (or words to that effect) chorused countless fans in return, I’m sure.

I desperately wanted this to be good and for it to succeed. So much was riding on it. After such shoddy treatment by previous incumbents at senior level at the BBC, our beloved programme was being given a new chance of life. And initial impressions were certainly good. It was different – it had to be, of course – but it still retained the vital core elements. McGann was superb, the result of the bigger budget was equally a joy to behold and the script delivered some real gems – while the Doctor and Grace kissing was pretty much only to be expected, uncomfortable viewing though it may have made for some.

But hang on… Just as I was really getting into it… What was all this nonsense about the Doctor being half-human? How did the Eye of Harmony manage to end up being transplanted from Gallifrey into the TARDIS? And putting things right by going back in time to just before they happened? Oh dear me no. What a cop-out. So much for the Blinovitch Limitation Effect!

As it finished, I was left with the uneasy feeling that what had started out with great promise had somehow not quite hit the mark. Perhaps my own expectations had been too high, but in my heart of hearts I just didn’t enjoy it in total as much as I’d hoped I would.

Nevertheless, it was a vibrant, valiant effort that had shown much promise and had much to commend it. It certainly deserved to continue to series, especially given the strong British ratings. It’s just a shame that ultimately those healthy numbers would be ignored in favour of the lacklustre US viewing figures and we would be plunged back into more wilderness years – possibly forever. Fortunately, braver souls with sparkling vision and a genuine belief in the show would eventually take up positions at executive level at the Beeb. And although the Eighth Doctor was only back on our screens for one night (until his next Night), the spirit of the TV movie would certainly live on when the series was properly revived, with Russell T Davies’ continuation owing so much to it in terms of style and presentation.

And at least they paid tribute to Pertwee at the end…

Regardless of how many fans did succumb to the temptation of VHS, come the evening of 27th May 9.08 million viewers tuned in to see the new Doctor – some 36% of the viewing audience!

Radio Times (25-31 May 1996) (Credit: Radio Times)
Radio Times (25-31 May 1996) - Doctor Who article (Credit: Radio Times)

The Radio Times covering 27th May 1996

I have one of those. 🙂  I also have the TV Guide (US).
See the Radio Times website for full details of their coverage.
Extract from the Sun, 28th May 1996:

I preferred Dr Who when the props looked as if they had been made on Blue Peter and the actors sounded as if they were making it up as they went along. But this big budget adventure did have some snazzy special effects which gave it a glossy appeal. No doubt fanatical Dr Who followers will hate the new version for some nerdy, nit-picking reason or other. But, to me, Paul McGann seemed every bit as twittish as the seven previous doctors. A happy return for a TV hero.
Extract from the Guardian, Stuart Jeffries, 28th May 1996:

With Paul McGann at the helm of the Tardis, this isn’t so much Doctor Who as Doctor Phworr! – the sexiest Time Lord in light years. But that seems one of the many mistakes that beset the conception and execution of the feature length Doctor Who (BBC1!) That’s the chief problem with Doctor Who – it is stranded somwhere in the mid-Atlantic and about as interesting as Rockall. Director Geoffrey Sax has had to attempt the impossible – to make the Doctor’s eighth incarnation engaging for those non-American viewers who’ve grown up during his 33 years of life on Earth, and for Americans who’ve joined the story two-thirds of the way through. The film, despite the big budget and accomplished special effects, couldn’t scare or much divert a little child; the only people it is going to frighten are the suits who lavishly bankrolled this doomed project. Exterminate! Exterminate!
Extract from the Telegraph, Stephen Pile, 1st June 1996:

And so, finally, to that very odd one-off Americanised feature length instalment of Dr Who (BBC1, Mon). It looked as if he had landed the Tardis in an American daytime series. In fairness, it was well done, and gripping stuff, but the car chases and the morgue scenes and the master’s spirit turning into green X-Files type plasma were a tour of genre cliches that made this programme no different to any other. Only the excellence of Paul McGann in the title role made it recognisable. His air of Victorian eccentricity was 100 per cent authentic and shows that, under other happier, more indigenous circumstances, he would be a worthy addition to the roll call of honour.
Extract from the News of the World, Charlie Catchpole, 2nd June 1996:

Why Doctor Who crashed spectacularly to earth was because next to nothing was spent on the script. All the old show’s tongue-in-cheek, child-like charm was squeezed out by biff-bang action and tyre-squealing chases. Is there a bigger sci-fi cliche than Good battling Evil while a clock ticks away towards Doomsday? “This can’t be how it ends!” gasped McGann, as the world faced oblivion. It wasn’t, of course. But I wish it was.
You can find a variety of reviews from the period via the Cuttings Archive.

In spite of the media serving up its usual array of reviews ranging from the lovely to the ludicrous, The TV Movie was generally felt by the BBC to be a success in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, as a co-production it also needed the approval of the powers-that-be in the United States, but after its perceived performance on television there Doctor Who’s fate had already been sealed… Whilst it was clear that audiences in the United Kingdom could be wowed by all-new adventures of the Gallifreyan time-traveller, it would some nine years before the BBC would be in the position to provide its viewers with such a chance to be so again…

Without McGann’s single soirée as the Doctor re-invigorating public imagination, the series may never have come back, so it was perhaps fitting that in 2013 a now firmly established and much loved show around the world would re-embrace the Eighth Doctor, who – some seventeen years after his ‘birth’ – had the honour to set the 50th anniversary celebrations in motion as he returned to face his ‘death’ in The Night of the Doctor!


It was to be a couple of months later before the TV Movie made its way across to the other side of the world. But would it have the same impact as in the United States and United Kingdom?

Our Australian reporter Adam Kirk recalls:

Alas I recall the TV Movie as coming and going very quickly without much notice in Australia. (A very marked contrast to 2005!) By the time it broadcast in early July I think we already knew there would be no further series and so it was already a bit of a damp squib for local fans by the time it had arrived. I remember watching it by myself on VHS tape a couple of days after its ABC TV broadcast on a very cold Canberra evening. I was in my final year of university or ‘uni’ (as we Aussies call it) and I remember being taken aback at how very American and very different it seemed from the show of my childhood. I think the few remaining local fans damned it with faint praise too which probably did it no favours either! Unlike today, Doctor Who remained a little unfashionable at the time so I probably didn’t tell many of my mates that they should watch either! Shame on me! Mea culpa Doctor No. 8!

Still looking at it again recently, I think McGann & Ashbrook are great and I was struck by how much the action, romance and higher production values were a sign of things to come. Happy 20th birthday TV Movie! You helped keep the flame burning for fandom in the dark days of the mid 1990s! Forgive me for being too resistant to your charms as a pretentious twenty something!

Occassional Doctor Who News correspondent Tim Hunter also reflected:

Gosh, I can’t quite remember. I do know I bought it on VHS before it was broadcast, and was excited about seeing it. I watched it with my wife at the time, but I remember feeling quite detached from any hype. Doctor Who was still very daggy, and not many people in Australia even knew about the TVM! It felt like it came and went with a whimper, to be honest. And my only real interaction with it was through DWM and the Virgin NA and PA novels, especially given the Internet was really only just kicking in. I was working at the Melbourne International Film Festival at the time, and we were connected to the Internet; I remember looking up some very early Doctor Who webpages and forums, but they didn’t inspire me much. Opinion from other Who enthusiast friends was damning with faint praise with a sneer towards the co-production. I did think that McGann was great!

It would be another three months before New Zealand had its television debut. However, an impatient fandom had long since caught up with the new adventure, as Paul Scoones summarised:

The TV Movie first screened in New Zealand on 30 October 1996. I first saw it as an off-air VHS copy from either the US or Canadian broadcast. I watched it on the evening of Friday 24 May, the day before it was shown at a pre-arranged New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club video day in Auckland.

Phoenix Comic Con 2016

Starts on this coming Thursday.

My panels:
Thursday Noon Room 228 AB – “The Time Lords of Gallifrey”
Friday 3pm Room 229 AB  — “Do you have what it takes to be a Doctor Who Companion?”
Saturday 3pm —  Room 231BC “Torchwood: Inside the Tower”
My Top Panel Must See’s:
Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner Spotlight: He starred as “The Six Million Dollar Man” and she as “The Bionic Woman,” two sci-fi series that brought the superhero trope out of Gotham and into something resembling the real world. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday. Photo and autograph sessions available.
Alex Kingston Sunday Noon.
YEAH! 🙂

Phoenix is now gearing up for Comicon 2016 set for June 2-5. Occupying the Phoenix Convention Center and surrounding hotels, Phoenix Comicon transforms downtown Phoenix into a human kaleidoscope. Superman and the Joker sit at an outdoor café enjoying a meal together. Anime characters stroll the streets. Deadpool pushes a stroller with a tiny Flash inside. Everyone poses for pictures.

Inside the convention center, scores of actors, artists and writers sign autographs, take photos and host panel discussions.

The actor guests this year include Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), Billie Piper and Alex Kingston (River Song and Rose Tyler in Doctor Who), Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid), Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man). Among the comic book artists to attend are George Perez, Marv Wolfman, and Jae Lee. Authors such as Bishop O’Connell, Dan Wells and Michael J. Sullivan will be there as well.

Many of the celebrities in attendance sit behind tables. Fans can line up, pay a fee, meet the celeb and get an autograph or photo.

An entire floor of the convention center is transformed into a massive geek mall where visitors can purchase items including comic books, posters, jewelry, Vulcan (Spock) ears and even hand made velvet fezzes.

On anther floor visitors can walk through a Doctor Who exhibit, examine steam punk props and pose in a replica of the Enterprise.

All the while, panel discussions, films and presentations are being held in various conference rooms. A tiny sample of this year’s topics includes DC vs Marvel meetup, Doctor Who’s Most Cringeworthy Moments, Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown, Deadpool Beauty and Talent Pageant, Make Your Own Mickey Ears, Crafting Cosplay Weapons on a Budget, Zombies Costume Meetup, Drawing Monsters and Aliens, Star Wars Costuming for Kids, Harry Potter-the Fandom that Lived, Geek Bridal Showcase. You get the idea. There are after-hours themed parties, panels for every geek interest and fandom, activities for families, gaming, contests, and even a beer garden full of food trucks and live music.

“As a leading pop culture convention, it is important to try to have something for everyone. Whether you are a geek at heart or just having a passing interest in pop culture, we want all of our attendees to walk away smiling,” said Phoenix Comicon Convention Director Matt Solberg. ( AZ Daily Sun)

Ever since her appearance in the Doctor Who Season 9 finale, “Hell Bent,” fans have been speculating about the identity of the mysterious lady in the barn.

As some of you will recall, the scene took place on the Doctor’s home planet of Gallifrey and featured an old lady who warned Peter Capaldi’s Doctor the Time Lords would kill him now that he has returned.

As for that barn, it was first seen in “The Day of the Doctor,” and again in “Listen,” where it was implyed this was where the Doctor slept (the barn is located in the drylands of Gallifrey, near the Capitol). So, that of course led many a Doctor Who fan to wonder if that barn lady was actually the Doctor’s mother. Well, showrunner Steven Moffat has the answer.

Didn’t Claire Higgins (Ohila) speculate on that in DWM 499 also?

This is one of those fan obsessions the we fans get, but especially continuity crazed ones. Always looking for other meanings.

Like my “The Time Lords started the Time War” in “Genesis of The Daleks” nearly 30 years before it happened on screen. 🙂 They did, you know. 🙂

 

Responding to a fan question in issue 496 of Doctor Who Magazine as to whether the old barn lady was the Doctor’s mother, Moffat answered:

“We’ve no idea who she is, nor should we. But a quick glance at the evidence, would remind you that the Doctor is a ‘high born Gallifreyan’ so that would seem unlikely. So what was he doing in that barn, and who were those people? The Doctor won’t tell me. It’s almost like that nameless wanderer in time and space likes a bit of mystery…”

The showrunner added:

“Oh, it’s funny, writing stuff about the Doctor’s past. You always have to leave options – you can’t be definitive. Or at least that’s how I feel about it. I like the audience to have a choice. If, in ‘Listen,’ you’re happy that the little boy in the bed is the Doctor, then great. But if you’re not, that’s fine too. I keep saying, Head Canon is important, because that’s where the show really happens: in the hearts and minds of all the people watching.”

In the finale, the barn lady (played by Linda Broughton) was only credited as The Woman, which was the same name given to Claire Bloom’s Time Lady in the David Tennant Doctor Who two-parter special, “The End of Time” — a character whose identity former showrunner Russell T. Davies left up in the time vortex on the show but confirmed as being the Doctor’s mother in his book The Writers Tale: 

“I like leaving it open, because then you can imagine what you want. I think the fans will say it’s Romana. Or even the Rani. Some might say that it’s Susan’s mother, I suppose. But of course it’s meant to be the Doctor’s mother.”  

Still, it wasn’t made official on the show so… everything’s up in the air. But the Time Lady was a high born Gallifreyan while the lady in the barn wasn’t. 

What do you think of Steven Moffat’s comments on the identity (or lack thereof) of The Woman in “Hell Bent”? Do you agree with him it’s better to leave options open to let the audience decide their own Head Canon?

Time for me to Head off… 🙂

 

Jack is Back?

Well, not surprising, now we know that John Barrowman was recently in Cardiff for something other than an appearance at The Doctor Who Experience.

Then again…

The actor has now responded to a fan link to an amateur trailer, tweeting: “Well if he is its not me playing him….I assure u I have not filmed nor been asked.”

BOO HISS. This ain’t April 1st folks!

‘You know, you’re the classic example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain.’
(‘The Robots of Death’)

Doctor Who Magazine @ 500

We begin this week with heartfelt congratulations for the 500th issue of a hugely important publication that has been there for the fans for nearly 40 years. In the days before social media, websites, Doctor Who Confidential and DVD extras, Doctor Who Magazine was the only way fans could read more about the actors, technicians and writers who worked on the show, bringing in specially written comic strips and exclusive interviews too. It started as Doctor Who Weekly in 1979, before moving to the now familiar monthly publication schedule a year later, and has been a constant companion for Whovians ever since.

I have subscribed to it since November 1983.

 

Doctor Who Magazine has also been recognised by Guinness World Records as the longest running TV tie-in magazine, an apt honorific, given that it supports the longest-running science fiction TV show in the world. And after some speculation as to how to best commemorate such a huge achievement, the front cover of the 500th issue has been revealed:
 

Which is, of course, based on the very first issue, complete with free transfers:

 

So congratulations all round. It’s clearly time to get a new 500 issue diary…

They now have a You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuuwYRnP3VaouIJKqaDuojg

At the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff:

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
Rassilon
Borusa
The Eye of Harmony
Romana I
The Key to Time
The White Guardian
The Valeyard
Sabalom Glitz
Morbius
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!