Who would have believed, back in 2003 when the revival of Doctor Who was announced, that ten years on not only would the series still be ongoing, but news of the lead actor’s recasting would be presented in a live TV programme?
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.
And a very Merry Christmas to you! Yes, it’s technically midsummer outside, which naturally means the threat of rain hangs overhead. But in the world of Ten Things About Who, we’re simultaneously back in April 2005 and Christmas 1869.
God bless us, every one!
1. The stiffs are getting lively
And so we get the first real emergence of the pre-credits sequence as it has become used. A peril, often Doctor-less, that sets the tone for the rest of the episode. Here, Mr Sneed’s “Oh no” when faced with a revived brings with it a weary familiarity that tells us that while we are in a story from the past, this is not your average historical story.
League of Gentlemen fans will, of course, have known of Mark Gatiss’ delight in lacing elements of historical horror with humour. It’s a vein he’s returned to, of course – most recently with The Crimson Horror. It’s when he steps away from this template (Cold War, and The Idiot’s Lantern, which is horrific but in a very different way) that things go awry for me.
I really liked this week’s episode of Doctor Who. The conclusion to the main threat was ever more perfunctory than usual, mind, but that didn’t overly detract from the beauty of the character studies involved. But on with this week’s Ten Things…
1. Kate Stewart
When I saw the new head of UNIT’s full name listed in the latest Doctor Who Magazine, I knew that there would be a link to the organisation’s most famous member, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.
And here she is: the daughter of the man himself. And, in a fan-pleasing touch, it’s a character that has already previously appeared in Doctor Who, having appeared in Gary Russell’s novel The Scales of Injustice, which featured the Third Doctor, the Brigadier and Liz Shaw.
Jemma Redgrave is a worthy addition to the Doctor Who roll call, I think. I hope we see her again.
Of course the mysterious cubes would have several Twitter accounts set up within minutes. Even the “Essex Lion” had at least two. But I do long for the day when the positives about social media can be referenced, rather than being the butt of cheap jibes.
Still, at least Doctor Who is referencing social media correctly. It’s light years on from when, in Utopia, Jack and Martha’s sharing of anecdotes about the Doctor is wrongly chastised as “blogging”.
First and most importantly, there is the joy. Joy at a children’s drama series that has shown that – in a genre where primary colours and slapstick tend to dominate – imagination, wonder and emotional truth still have their place. Joy at a series which spun off from Doctor Who with such confidence that it hasn’t felt the need to constantly reinvent itself (yes, Torchwood, I’m looking at you). Joy at a show that knows that, while it is squarely aimed at children aged 6 to 12, the audience doesn’t mind that their heroes are older kids led by a woman in her sixties.
Cross-posted to TV Today
Over on US TV blog Televisionary, Jace has been interviewing Torchwood and Doctor Who writer/producer Russell T. Davies and director Euros Lyn. After all the Comic-Con madness and the ‘Save Ianto’ hubbub, it’s nice to hear them talk about more general matters regarding both series – and for Euros to get some attention: both Russell and John Barrowman have such large personalities that he was on the verge of being ignored at some recent press events.
The video that Jace shot is embedded below, in two parts (if you’re using an RSS reader, you may need to click through to the blog to see it). The sound level’s a little low, but it’s well worth watching.
(NB: contains some spoilers for future Doctor Who episodes)
Spoiler warning: Don’t read further if you have not yet seen episode 4 of Torchwood: Children of Earth. Of course, if you want to watch it, chances are you already have, but still…
Fans of any persuasion can be an odd bunch. I know, I am that person. There are so many huge benefits to be had from bonding with other people over your love of something, whether it’s football (a passion I must admit I don’t share) or **Doctor Who** (which I do).
I get it. And I’ve come into contact with the best of fandom in recent years. From reviewing the BBC’s **Any Dream Will Do** every week, I came into contact with many subgroups: fans of Daniel Boys (his ‘[kittens](http://www.danielskittens.co.uk/)’), who took my good-natured comments [about them being “quite mad”](http://blogs.thestage.co.uk/tvtoday/2007/06/any-dream-will-do-week-11-the-final/) in the spirit it was intended. And of course there are the Loppies — fans of that series’ eventual winner, Lee Mead, who started talking to each other in the comments section of our blog and have stayed with us ever since.
There are negative associations, of course. If you incur the wrath of the hardcore supporter, then you know about it sharpish. On [TV Today](http://blogs.thestage.co.uk/tvtoday/) we’ve been on the receiving end from fans of Rupert Grint and Jonas Armstrong. In neither case were the attacks particularly justified, but there comes a point where, to the hardcore fans, that hardly matters.
Something similar happened over the last few weeks, following **Torchwood: Children of Earth**’s fourth episode, in which regular character Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) came to a sticky end. A lot of anger was directed at Torchwood writer James Moran, on [his blog](http://jamesmoran.blogspot.com) and on Twitter, not because he wrote the episode (he didn’t) but because he had an open door policy with his web communications.
Thankfully, that particular method of attacking individuals died down pretty quickly, although it has led to James [taking a step back from his blog](http://jamesmoran.blogspot.com/2009/07/stepping-back.html) — and please read that link, it expresses his feelings and reasons far better than I could.
But the hardcore Ianto fans are not giving up. They have set up a website, [SaveIantoJones.com](http://www.SaveIantoJones.com), in order to coordinate various forms of peaceful, polite protest.
And one way they’ve decided to show their support for their favourite character is unusual — by raising money for the BBC’s resident charity, [Children in Need](http://www.saveiantojones.com/children-in-need.php). As I write, the total they have raised to date is just under £3,000. And that’s an impressive amount of money whatever the reason for its collection.
Again, it shows that within fandom, there is the potential for much goodness. Although I do believe that the organisers are mistaken when they say:
> While the BBC have remained polite and well-mannered, in response to a very peaceful campaign, Mr. Davies has made it clear in recent interviews that he views his fans with contempt, and as disposable, which saddens us.
I don’t think anybody could be more wrong; I truly believe Russell gets it. Watch [Love & Monsters](http://matthewman.net/2006/06/18/love-monsters-mister-blue-sky-thinking/), part of Series 2 of **Doctor Who** written by Russell T Davies, and you’ll see a group called L.I.N.D.A., a group of people who start meeting for one reason and gradually become people who meet up because they are friends. It’s one of the most perfect representations of fandom you’re ever likely to see. And anybody who writes like that really, truly, does not consider fans to be worthy of contempt. That doesn’t mean that fans are bigger than the subject of their support, though.
The SaveIantoJones fans are doing some great work and their fundraising efforts will do enormous good — even though their ultimate aim, of bringing a dead fictional character back to life, is doomed to fail. If their work brings them together as friends too, then that will be a further upside.
After a week of Torchwood-related content, I’m still bowled over by the quality of the finished product. While I liked the first two series, I loved Children of Earth.
One reason (among many) was Ben Foster’s incidental music – which is now available to buy. And, if I’ve got my HTML right, you should be able to see a player with some samples below. If you’re reading this in an RSS reader or in Facebook, you may need to click through to my blog to see it in its full effect.
It’s been a busy week over at TV Today, where we’ve been running a series of features around Torchwood: Children of Earth, which begins a five-episode run on Monday and continues throughout the week. The stripped scheduling is a tactic BBC1 has been using in increasing amounts, to create a buzz, or “event television”.
And so, we responded with “event blogging” – and for us at least, it seems to have worked.
Continue reading The Torchwood experience
This interview originally appeared in the April 5, 2007 issue of The Stage
Executive producer of Doctor Who Julie Gardner tells Scott Matthewman about the changes being made to the show, in front of and behind the camera, including a welcome move to larger production studios
Julie Gardner spends a lot of time on Doctor Who in her role as executive producer. “It’s pretty much a full, one-year job just to get each series to air. I look at rushes when we’re filming every day, I’ll read every single draft of every script and do a lot of meetings with the writers.”
Although that may be enough for most people, Gardner has other roles to fill, too. As well as executive producing Doctor Who spin-offs Torchwood and CBBC’s Sarah Jane Adventures, she is controller of drama for BBC Wales and, since last year, controller of drama commissioning at the BBC. “It’s quite a big workload,” she admits wryly, “but I think everyone working in the industry who really loves their job, as I completely do, works incredibly hard.
“What I no longer do is personally executive produce indie shows. I was the executive producer of Life on Mars, alongside John Yorke. I don’t do that in such a hands-on way for individual projects. So that’s what gives me the time. But I’m a bit obsessive – I mean, what else would I do?”