Ten points of discussion inspired by the 2005 Doctor Who episode, Aliens of London.
It’s been a few weeks since we departed the Cardiff rift. Apologies – pressures of work, and all that. But we continue a revisit of 2005’s Doctor Who series with the TARDIS’ return to the Powell Estate.
A quick reminder that my collection of Ten Things About Who posts for the 2012/13 series is now available for Kindle devices and Kindle e-reader apps for the bargain price of £1.99 – that’s 14p per episode discussion Thanks to everyone who’s bought it so far – if you have, please do leave a review or, at the very least, a star rating. And if you haven’t bought it yet, you can do so at mtthw.mn/whoebook.
1. A quick recap…
OK, so I said that The End of the World starts with what is, for Doctor Who, a rarely-used device: a “previously…”-style recap, that has “rarely been needed since”.
And then, two episodes later, that device gets used again. Still, I’m right – it tends not to be used much after this. To be honest, its usefulness in a series where the setting can change so drastically from episode to episode is debatable. But notice, even here, that it’s a recap of events solely from Rose. There’s no glimpse of Platform One or Victorian Cardiff at all.
Conceptually, it fits – this episode is a thematic sequel to the first episode, and deals directly witht he consequences of Rose’s impetuous run into the TARDIS at the end of that episode. For me, the recap here feels alien, if you’ll pardon the expression.
While what we now call “classic” Doctor Who used the old B-movie serial of replaying the previous week’s hangover to remind viewers of where they’ve got to, this “remember this from three weeks ago?” style of reminder has never sat well with Doctor Who. And it really isn’t used much after this. I promise.
On Saturday March 16, BBC Radio 4 broadcasts the first part of a new adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel Neverwhere. The story tells of Richard Mayhew, a Scot living an ordinary, dull life in London until he helps an injured girl on the street – and finds himself embroiled in London Below, the magical twilight world that exists just out of sight of the capital we all think we know.
Now this is exciting: from next Monday, BBC Radio 4 will be airing the first radio adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series. Airing in the network’s 15 Minute Drama slot, which takes up the tail end of Woman’s Hour every weekday, with an evening repeat and weekend omnibus in Radio 4 Extra, the adaptation from novel to audio serial has been done by playwright Bryony Lavery, so it should be good.
No details on the BBC Media Centre website, unfortunately – but Maupin has written a blog post on the BBC Radio 4 website. Tales of the City starts on January 28, with the second novel, More Tales of the City, the following week. I don’t know if any further adaptations are planned, but it would be good if, unlike the three TV miniseries, the whole range could be completed with the cast remaining constant.
UPDATE: More and more people seem to be landing here via Google on a quest to find out the theme music used for both series. It’s called, appropriately enough, San Francisco by Son of Dave:
Since I last linked to my Arts 2.0 column for The Stage, I’ve written three new pieces. First off, the launch of the BBC iPlayer Radio app just three days after the combined BBC/commercial radio RadioPlayer app led me to look at both, as well as some of the other options for audio listening. I have to say that while I’ve used both those apps since, it’s the iPlayer app that I enjoy using the most. Once you’ve started listening, of course, you tend to leave the app – but the act of selecting which audio stream to listen to should be quick, and not feel like a chore. I think the Radioplayer has some way to go on that side of things, while iPlayer Radio is closer to nailing it.
Then last week, I looked at three magic trick apps for the iPhone. I remain to be convinced that custom apps can be effective sources of conjuring – close-up magic with real life objects is far more effective than working with pixels on a screen. John Archer’s Streets app works along the right lines because it uses the maps feature within the phone itself – or at least it did, until Apple dropped Google Maps for its own service with iOS 6.
Finally, this week the news about Radio 4 releasing the Letter From America archives got me thinking about all those dramas the station has commissioned over the years, but remain locked away due to contractual or other reasons. Recent radio productions of West End hits then led me to talk about archiving contemporary performances.
An appeal for help
I’ve got a few ideas for future columns, but if you have an arts-working-with-technology story you’ld like to pitch, please email me at scott [at] thestage.co.uk.
One thing I’d like to do for next week, to tie in with the start of NaNoWriMo, is look at digital tools that writers – of books, plays, or scripts for TV, film and radio – use. An initial appeal on Twitter brought up several references to Scrivener, which combines templates for several writing projects with the ability to store research notes. I’m not just looking for scriptwriting software, though – do you use anything to incentivise you to write a certain amount each day? Other applications (from Evernote to Pocket) to collate research materials? Anything digital to remove distractions and allow you to focus?
Whether it’s PC, Mac, iOS or based on another platform – or a piece of hardware gadgetry you can’t do without – I’d like to know about it. Use the comments box below or email me at the address above!
Last Thursday’s edition of The Stage includes my interview with actor and writer Tracy-Ann Oberman, whose second “Hollywood Tale” play for Radio 4’s Afternoon Drama slot airs this afternoon. Rock and Doris and Elizabeth tells the story of Rock Hudson’s public appearance in the 1980s and the revelations that he had full-blown Aids. Jonathan Hyde plays Hudson, with Frances Barber as Doris Day and Oberman as Elizabeth Taylor.
What was significant about the short item was the fractious nature of the piece, a three-way discussion between Today presenter Justin Webb, Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington and writer Graham Linehan, who has taken on the task of adapting the film so that it works for a live theatre audience.
The segment started out easily enough, with Linehan talking about how he has changed the story slightly so that all the action takes place within the one set, and how that frees up time that would otherwise be taken up with scene changes to explore characters in more depth.
But that changed under Webb’s stewardship, as he brought in Billington to dispute the merits of adapting any film for the stage.
I’ve been doing weekly radio previews for a while now as part of the Turn off the TV section of our TV blog. Infuriatingly, this week’s has been, I think, one of the weakest: not helped by a computer crash yesterday corrupting my original draft of this week’s piece.
Still, if it brings in a few new readers it can only be a good thing. And compliments are rare, so I shall be savouring this one for a while.