Talking about Peter Capaldi

So I’m a guest on this week’s As Yet Untitled London Theatre podcast, talking about new Doctor Who Peter Capaldi’s acting CV and how the approach he’s taken to his previous roles in theatre, film and TV may – may – give us clues about how he may approach his fortchoming role of the Doctor.

Some of the stuff I talk about is based on the interviews The Stage has done with Capaldi over the years, extracts from which I featured the other day.

Peter Capaldi in his own words

So it turns out the bookies’ favourite was the correct one – Peter Capaldi is to be the next actor to play the lead in Doctor Who.

A quick scurry around The Stage archives finds several theatre and TV reviews, and three interviews. Two of these incorporate paragraphs which are interesting to contrast with each other.

First, from a 1990 interview with Jane Garner, connected to his role in BBC crime thriller Chain:

He enjoys comic roles as well as serious ones and has ambitions to do more film work.

“I am fascinated by that medium and I am not terribly attracted to Shakespearian roles or have any great ambition in that area. I like to do things that I am not really sure I can do and that stretches me – then I am working with something new.

“Chain was different for me because it was terribly serious and a lot of the time before, I had played a lot of rather comic roles which I love and I am comfortable in.”

And from 2007, as he prepared to appear in Absurdia, a trio of one-act comedies (two revivals by NF Simpson, and a new Michael Frayn farce) at the Donmar Warehouse, interviewed by Nick Smurthwaite:

“You do it for the challenge, the stretch,” he replies, “Generally in TV, you are employed to do what you are known for doing best. Here I’m doing things I’ve never done before, a lot of mime and movement. The Frayn play is about staging a farce in the middle of the desert, generated entirely in the imaginations of the two characters, with no props. I’ve never done mime before, so it remains to be seen if it works.”

You could, if you were being harsh, make comments about how once it was film and TV which stretched actors, and now theatre is more likely to give that challenge. But really, I see a man who’s only going to take on any role if it could push him in ways he’s never been pushed before. Given the self-confessed Doctor Who fan that he is, I can imagine that Capaldi is going to make damned sure that the BBC production team push him in his role as the Doctor.

More interesting is a quote from a 1995 interview, where the focus was more on his writing ambitions. On the back of winning the Academy Award for Best Short Film (for Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life), he was working on a feature-length screenplay. But this quote is, considering yesterday’s news, intriguing:

Being in a series for any length of time doesn’t appeal to me and I’m always trying to avoid it. I suppose the two series of Chandler and Co. that I did was the longest I have been in a show, but I don’t like doing the same thing over and over again. I want a bit of variety.

In the eighteen years since, maybe he’s mellowed to the idea, especially for a role he’s loved since he was a boy. But Doctor Who is one of those roles where longevity and variety can go hand-in-hand.

Doctor Who: The Beginning – spot the difference

The lovely people at Big Finish have just released an updated cover to one of their November Doctor Who releases that celebrates the series’ 50th anniversary.

The Beginning, new cover

The Beginning is part of the company’s ongoing series of Companion Chronicles – semi-staged audiobooks, narrated by one of the series companions and with guest appearances by other actors. In this case, the companion concerned is the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan, played once again by Carole Ann Ford, in a story written by Marc Platt and directed by Lisa Bowerman. The new cover contains a subtle difference to the original artwork, to more closely tie in with events as seen in The Name of the Doctor. Here’s a direct comparison, by the power of GIF: The Beginning's alternate covers Personally, I quite like the look of the original pyramid, but I can completely understand why it’s been changed. Now that we “know” what the Doctor’s TARDIS looked like as it was first taken, there’s no point in making it look like anything else…

A new range of Doctor Who fiction ebooks? Yes, please

According to SFX magazine, BBC Books (an imprint of Ebury Publishing, which is itself an imprint of what is now Penguin Random House) is to start a new range of Doctor Who ebook fiction. Time Trips will be a range of 10,000-word self-contained short-story-cum-novellas, seemingly featuring any of the series’ eleven (to date) Doctors, priced at £1.99 each. At a later date, the stories will be collected for a print edition.

The first tranche of authors include Jenny Colgan (who, writing as JT Colgan, has already written the DW novel Dark Horizons), AL Kennedy, Nick Harkaway and Trudi Canavan.

As with the 50th anniversary Puffin ebooks which are being published at the rate of one a month, it seems that Ebury are looking outside the “traditional” pool of authors which created the first print novels after the series returned in 2005. This can only be a good thing – the wider the range of authors, the more variation in the worlds and challenges that the Doctor will face. I do hope that some of the authors whose DW novels I have enjoyed in the past haven’t said goodbye to the range for good, though – this is all about expanding the DW universe, not jumping to a new version.

It’s also notable that three of the four authors so far announced for Time Trips are women – which kind of puts the TV series’ own track record in perspective.

Series like Time Trips are a sign that traditional publishers are finding new ways to make digital publishing work that don’t just ape the old print-based systems. Random House’s Dan Franklin was on the panel for a special edition of BBC Click for which I was in the audience in April 2012, and  he really seemed to have his head screwed on. The involvement of the big guns doesn’t prevent the enterprising self-publishers from making a splash, too – if anything, providing mainstream quality products from traditional publishers helps ensure self-publishers work to the same standards, as well as providing the incentive for the growth in ebook reading to continue.

• Just a reminder that my own (non-fiction, unauthorised) Doctor Who ebook, Ten Things About Who, is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk. More details »

 

Ten Things About Who: the book

Ten Things About Who


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

So the fourteen Ten Things About Who posts that I wrote about Doctor Who series 7, from Asylum of the Daleks to The Name of the Doctor, are now available to buy as an ebook on the Kindle platform. That means you will be able to read it not only on a Kindle hardware device, but also via the gamut of free Amazon Kindle apps for various computing platforms.

It’s my first ebook, so this is as much a learning curve for me, finding out what the platform can (and cannot) do for me as an author prior to using it for slightly less frivolous publications.

What’s in the book

Each chapter of the book contains ten points for discussion raised by an episode of Series 7. Why does the Doctor go on about needing milk for Oswin’s soufflés, when the obvious ingredient to ask about is…? Where on earth did Rory go to get coffee in New York city? Would there really have been a black priest in the American West town of Mercy? Why was The Rings of Akhaten so blooming dreary?

In taking the blog posts I was writing each week as the series aired, I’ve revised, and often expanded, many of the sections. To keep things simple, any included videos and audio files have had to be dropped, which is unfortunate – but thankfully they were mostly incidental to the points being made. What I’ve tried not to do is lose the immediacy of the posts. Some of the thoughts about who Clara is, or could be, for example, are way off-base now that we’ve all seen The Name of the Doctor – but to remove that speculation would have been to abandon the journey just because we know now the destination.

And online…

The original blog posts remain in place for free, and will do so for as long as the blog itself exists. I probably won’t go back and add in the expanded information from some of the sections, although some of the more glaring spelling mistakes that I somehow missed the first time round may find themselves getting corrected!

And of course, I’m now in the process of revisiting Series 1 in the same format. Next weekend, I’ll be up to Aliens of London. Depending on how my experience with this first ebook goes, I may well collect these retrospective Ten Things… posts in a similar format.

Do let me know what you think – as I said, this is a learning process for me, and opinions from people I trust is going to be invaluable. Thank you.

Ten Things About Who is available to buy, or to borrow for free for Amazon Prime members

Ten Things About Who: Rose

Now that ‘series 7’ of Doctor Who is out of the way, I’ve found that I miss writing ten points about an episode. So I’ve decided to carry on – rewinding all the way to 2005’s Rose, and continuing from there. Doctor Who Magazine has chronologically looked back with its Time Team features – but their conceit is that they’re watching as if for the first time, and without reference to any stores broadcast after the one they’re watching.

My posts will most definitely be written from a 2013 perspective, introducing thoughts about how the series has changed – or not – since its return; other shows the series has influenced, or been influenced by, offscreen and on; and any old randomness that comes into my head. Please do chip in in the comments below each post if you have your own thoughts about the episode in question.

Don’t expect the frequency to always be weekly, although I will try and keep up the pace. If you want to know when each one has been published, you can follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my public posts on Facebook.

And so sit back, press Play, and rejoice in the fact that on DVD, the department store basement won’t resound with the echo of Graham Norton doing a sound check for Strictly Dance Fever.

Continue reading “Ten Things About Who: Rose”

Ten Things About Who: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

This post has been edited, tidied up and expanded to form part of my new ebook, TEN THINGS ABOUT WHO, available on Kindle. Buy it now for £1.99More details

1. The Van Baalen Brothers

If Tricky really thought he was an android, how did he explain a need for nutrition (and the resultant excretion)? But if the conceit about having been tricked into believing he’s robotic doesn’t really stand up from that angle, the clues are there: right from the beginning, his attitude to the plight of the Doctor and Clara – and of the TARDIS herself – is the most human of the three brothers’.

2. That’s some heavy polystyrene you’ve got there

Poor Jenna-Louise Coleman. It can’t be easy to have to wake up from a completely unconscious state, free yourself from under what is doubtless supposed to be extremely cumbersome masonry, leap to your feet and then brush yourself down in the space of about three seconds.

You can, apparently, just about manage it in the time allotted if you ensure that not a single step of that process looks genuine.

Continue reading “Ten Things About Who: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS”

Ten Things About Who: Hide

This post has been edited, tidied up and expanded to form part of my new ebook, TEN THINGS ABOUT WHO, available on Kindle. Buy it now for £1.99More details

1. The Baker Street Irregulars

Major Palmer is described by the Doctor as one of the “Baker Street Irregulars”, in this case indicating he was part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive, which conducted espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance against Britain’s enemies. For more information, see the BBC’s history website.

Given his age in 1974, he must have been very young to send other operatives to their deaths during the war, as he states here.

2. You say Metebelis, I say Metebelis

The planet Metebelis Three, and the mind-focussing powers of its crystalline substances, formed vital plot points in 1973’s The Green Death and 1974’s Planet of the Spiders, making its first appearance in Doctor Who contemporaneous with the setting of this episode.

Of course, back then the Doctor pronounced it differently – MeteBEElis rather than, as here, MeTEBBelis. It does seem odd that the production team would include a deliberate back-reference to Classic Who and yet not pick up on the apparent discrepancy.

But then again, maybe it was the Third Doctor who got it wrong in the first place. Also in The Green Death, he mispronounced the word “chitin” as “CHITTIN”, rather than the correct “KITE-IN”. Which precipitated a famous letter to the production team of the day:

The reason I’m writin’
Is how to say “chitin”

Perhaps Matt Smith took elocution lessons from Siri? This is how Apple’s UK voice (based on Jon Briggs, voiceover artist for The Weakest Link and other shows) pronounces it.

Continue reading “Ten Things About Who: Hide”

Ten things about Who: Asylum of the Daleks

Ten Things About Who


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

This post has been edited, tidied up and expanded to form part of my new ebook, TEN THINGS ABOUT WHO, available on Kindle. Buy it now for £1.99More details

I’m not going to do full reviews of the new series of Doctor Who, which started last night on BBC1. But I thought I might try and come up with ten points I liked, didn’t like, or thought worthy of further discussion. Hence, Ten Things About Who.

If you haven’t yet seen the episode, what the hell are you doing here? Go and watch it, and don’t come back to this post until you have done!

Continue reading “Ten things about Who: Asylum of the Daleks”

The Ghosts of Christmas

The Ghosts of Christmas cover As I said back in October, my short story, Tell Me You Love Me is going to be included in the forthcoming anthology, Doctor Who Short Trips: The Ghosts of Christmas.

The Big Finish page for the book now includes an image, as well as a free PDF of one story from the collection – Faithful Friends, Part 1, by the book’s editors, Cavan Scott and Mark Wright.

It’s sad, though: my story features William Hartnell’s Doctor and the original TARDIS crew. Characters that were created at least in part by, and wouldn’t be remembered today without the inimitable talents of, the late Verity Lambert, who died on Thursday.

Thank you, Verity, for creating such a remarkable series, and for letting the likes of me play in the sandbox from time to time.