Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Ghost Story for Christmas

I could listen to J.B. read or talk all day long

The Ultimate Doctor Who title mix

This is a thing of beauty. All our Doctors and their themes BRAVVVVO

Doctor Who: What are you doing here?

My god the man hours on this alone must have been insane

Doctor Who - The End of Time Part Two - Preview Tra

The End Of Time Part 2 Preview Part 1

Doctor Who: The End of Time, Part Two - Preview Clip

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Lonely Angel

Don't Hold Back

His Name is 'The Doctor'

Commentary Details

The BBC has revealed that BBC Three repeats of The End of Time will have available an audio commentary from outgoing executive producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner.

The commentary for part one will be available on Freeview, Virgin and Sky on Sunday 27th December at 7pm, while the commentary for Part Two will only be on Virgin and Sky on Sunday 3rd January at 7pm. Neither commentary will be available on Freesat.

The commentaries are expected to be broadcast on BBC Radio 7 and thus will be available worldwide on the BBC i-player. Part One had been scheduled for 3am on 26th December, but Part Two has yet to be scheduled.

In addition, the Christmas Eve, 9am, BBC Three repeat of Dreamland will also have a commentary, this time with writer Phil Ford and the director Gary Russell.

K9 episode titles

Stewart & Wall Entertainment, the Australian production company which has made the new K9 series, has released a list of episode titles for the first half of the 26-episode season. K9 is expected to air on Disney XD in Europe and on Channel Ten in Australia in early 2010.

1. Regeneration
2. Liberation, Part 2 of 1
3. The Korven
4. The Bounty Hunter
5. Sirens of Ceres
6. Fear Itself
7. Fall of the House of Gryffen
8. Jaws of Orthrus
9. Dreameaters
10. The Curse of Anubis
11. Oroborus
12. Alien Avatar
13. Aeolian

'Doctor Who’s given me the time of my life' - Russell T Davies on leaving Doctor Who

The first Doctor Who Christmas Special was transmitted on December 25 1965. The original Doctor (William Hartnell) was on the run from the Daleks. He landed in Twenties Hollywood, got caught up in a silent movie, then ended the episode by raising a glass and saying, “Merry Christmas to all of you at home” into the camera.

Sadly, that episode no longer exists. It was thrown out of the BBC archives many years ago, before they realised the value of old programmes. Perhaps there’s still a copy somewhere, gathering dust in a collector’s attic or retired technician’s shed. Have a look, would you? It would be a perfect Christmas present.

But then many years passed – cue the ancient creak of the Tardis engines, taking us through the vortex to 40 years later, and the next Christmas Special in 2005. And what a Doctor Who year that turned out to be. That’s when I clambered aboard the Tardis (as head writer and executive producer of the series). I’d spent my entire childhood walking home from school and imagining the sight of that old, wooden police box waiting on the corner for me, its door ajar. Finally, in my forties, it arrived. And I ran towards it, as fast as I could, just like that little Swansea schoolkid of years ago.

It shouldn’t have worked. The things we once loved are gone. We’ve changed and grown and moved on, and the memory only cheats. Except for this time. Doctor Who broke all the rules – everyone said it would never work (yes, even me) but everyone was wrong. When it blazed back into life on March 26 2005, an entire generation remembered. “Oh yes, we love this,” they said, as though coming out of a fog. And a whole new generation said: “Wow!”, as though accusing us: why have you kept this secret all this time?

Of course, we couldn’t have been confident, before transmission. We worked on that first series, in the depths of BBC Wales, worrying that children’s heads were now full of Harry Potter and Star Wars, so they’d have neither the time nor the inclination for an old, Sixties Time Lord. But I think fear helped me. I was so convinced we’d never reach a second series that I poured my heart and soul into the first 13 episodes, in case they were the only ones ever to exist. The one-off 1996 television movie with Paul McGann had single-handedly fuelled a fan-industry of novels and comics for a decade, so I had to pack enough into my 13 stories to keep the fans busy until… well, forever. Because I honestly thought that if 2005 failed, the BBC would never bring the show back again. It was all or nothing.

As a result of that fear, the show was mad and bold and loud, as it ripped from 1869 to the Year 5 Billion, throwing in armies of Daleks, green, flatulent Slitheen, paper-thin Cassandra, Gas Mask Children and even a threat to Cardiff itself. Not to mention an unexpected regeneration. And much to our surprise – it worked. That fearful, adrenalised vigour is the very thing that people latched on to. A lot of television is quite calm, bar the odd car chase, but Doctor Who kicked open the door with a wild, rolling swagger. It’s not an accident that the Doctor’s very first word was “Run”. We haven’t stopped running since.

While we filmed the first series, the possibility of a Christmas Special was mentioned in passing by Big BBC Bosses, under the condition “if the show works”. I shrugged it off – Doctor Who could never be that popular, could it? Not Christmas Day popular, surely. In fact, I doubted it so much that I included a Christmas episode in the first run of 13 – “The Unquiet Dead” by Mark Gatiss, the one with Dickens and the Ghosts, ending with: “God bless us, every one!” It was transmitted in April, because I wanted it to seem odd, like those Thanksgiving episodes of Friends seen in July. What could be better, for a time-travelling show, than an episode which feels out-of-season?

But the new Doctor Who succeeded. The viewers came, stayed and grew, and kept growing for five years, with the ratings and reach going up and out. And the Christmas Special became a tradition. Now, it’s hard to imagine the holiday without it.

As a production team, we’d always have to take a deep breath before tackling a Christmas episode, because they’re bigger and bolder than normal adventures. We realised, early on, that we’d probably get our highest viewing figures of the year on December 25, because all the family – whether that’s an actual family, or the invented family of friends and loved ones, gathers together, and turns to BBC One.

We started with “The Christmas Invasion”, in which the voodoo-like Sycorax loom over London in their stone spaceship. Then, in 2006, we had the romcom capers of “The Runaway Bride”, followed by a disaster movie on board a space-bound Titanic, with “Voyage of the Damned”. Last year saw a giant Cyberman stomping over Victorian London in “The Next Doctor”. And this year, the story has become so massive, we’ve split it into two, with “The End of Time” straddling Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The final episode stands at an extra-special, longest-yet duration of 75 minutes.

There’s more at stake than usual, this time. It’s a piece of Time Lord history, as David Tennant’s reign as the 10th Doctor comes to an end. It’s been the greatest joy and honour to work with that man, and that team, over the past few years, and I hope I’ve done them proud with my final script – because I’m leaving too, handing the programme over to the safe hands of Steven Moffat. Though it’s damning with faint praise to call Steven “safe” – he’s the man who invented the Weeping Angels, the Clockwork Droids, the skulls-in-spacesuits, and “Are you my mummy?”. If I were you, I’d go and buy a brand new sofa in the January sales – the whole family’s going to need it.

We actually finished filming David’s final story in May and then I went to live and work in Los Angeles. Though even there, there’s no escape – the offices of BBC Worldwide have got a Dalek standing on duty in the lobby. Just this week, Quincy Jones walked past it and Harry Shearer posed alongside the metal monster to have his photograph taken.

But I’ll be coming home for Christmas. To see family and friends, of course, but let’s be honest (sorry dad), it’s mainly to see Doctor Who! OK, I’ve seen the episodes 20 times already – we only finished the post-production work on Wednesday December 12, with my final note saying: “Take down the crunch of those turkey bones a little” – but I can’t miss the actual moment of transmission. The Master, played by John Simm, is back – dying and deadly, and harbouring his most outrageous scheme yet; Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins) is being plagued by strange dreams and mysterious visitations; his granddaughter Donna (Catherine Tate) dares not remember her travels with the Doctor, or she’ll die on the spot; and a mysterious Woman in White, played by the legendary Claire Bloom, brings ominous warnings of death and destruction to come. What a Christmas! Though whether there’s a regeneration on its way, or whether we’ve got some final tricks up our sleeves, you’ll just have to wait and see.

And then I’ll move on, to become a viewer, like the rest of you. And bear in mind, as a dyed-in-the-wool Doctor Who fan, I haven’t been able to watch an unspoilt new series since 1989. I can’t wait.

I’ll take away the happiest of memories. Working with Chris and David, Billie, Freema, Catherine and John. The “monster parades”, where we’d try out new aliens in a Cardiff Portakabin. The day a Dubai docker destroyed our double-decker bus, which was the setting for the entire story. Hooting with laughter at our first attempt at Water Monsters, which involved putting a leaky rubber ring on someone’s head. Watching cars arrive on set, bringing the biggest names for the guest cast – Penelope Wilton, Kylie Minogue, Richard Dawkins, Derek Jacobi, Lesley Sharp, the list is endless.

I will miss this job, so very much. And that’s the perfect time to leave. I think that Swansea schoolkid would be happy with what I’ve done. And somewhere out there, right now, is another child, watching with wide-open eyes, who will one day walk into the offices of BBC 3D HQ, to pitch his or her brand-new version of the Doctor’s 21st incarnation. Because this show, like the very best of legends, will never, ever die.

What do we know about The End of Time?

Over the past few months the BBC have been leaking snippets of the Christmas special, set photographs have been circling on the internet and chatrooms have been abuzz with speculation as to how the Doctor will meet his fate. Let's look at what we know now and what we can muse upon.

The Master is back
Well parts of him anyway. As you can see in this preview clip his mind and, what looks like, burnt remains are being contained inside a metal exoskeleton shrouded in a hologram of how the Master used to look. Or rather, how the Master sees himself now. If the hoodie and the dyed blonde hair are anything to go by the Master thinks he's in My Chemical Romance. But how did he survive? Last time we saw him he died in the Doctor's arms, his body was even burned on a funeral pyre. My odds are on the ring that was plucked from the pyre by his wife Lucy Saxon. Oh, and she's back too.

The Time Lords may not be as dead as everyone thinks
As we saw in the clip above the monitors visible behind the Master bore a circular symbol. This is the Seal of Rassilon, the mark of the high council of the Time Lords. It is also to be seen in this picture, guest star Timothy Dalton is wearing robes that bear the symbol. This could of course be a Time Lord in flashback, but you never know. The Daleks survived the war, so why not the Time Lords?

Donna Noble is back
That right everyone, the loudest lady in Chiswick and possibly one of the most stupendously fantastic friends the Doctor has ever had is back. This is amazing and worrying in one fell swoop. When we last saw Donna she was the DoctorDonna – her mind so full of Time Lordly things that it was killing her. The Doctor was forced to remove all of this from her mind along with all her memories of travelling with him. She was returned safely home in the aftermath of the Dalek invasion with one instruction: she must never be reminded of the time she spent with the Doctor or she will die. So how involved can she be in the plot? If she gets too close to anything Doctorish then she's had it. Her mum Sylvia is back and her grandfather Wilf is going to be the Doctor's companion for the two specials but will they be able to keep her safe? Russell T has recently mentioned in an interview Donna's "final words" to the Doctor. This gives me cause for great concern. Will she die once and for all? Please don't do this to us Russell. Donna was bloody amazing.

What is the Gate?
As we can also see from the teaser clip the Gate would appear to be a physical artefact that has been constructed on Earth and that is about to be opened. Could it be a portal to another world (risky) or another dimension (downright irresponsible)? We shall have to wait and find out and hope nothing nasty leaps out. It probably will though.

Who will knock four times?
It would be rather disappointing if it was emo-Master - as henceforth he shall be known - having a bit of an old tap on the doors of the Tardis. As it is I'm hoping for something a bit bigger, more important and scarier. As for theories as to who 'he' might be, I leave that to you good people to debate.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Doctor Who Christmas special: Evil plans afoot

The Timelord's psychotic nemesis the Master is bound and gagged and under armed guard - but his grin suggests evil plans are being hatched in the Christmas Day edition of Doctor Who.

The End of Time, Part One, marks the beginning of the epic final journey for the 10th Doctor, played by David Tennant, leading towards a tear-jerking climax.
With the two enemies both determined to cheat death, the battle rages from the wastelands of London to the mysterious Immortality Gate.
The alien Ood also warns of an even greater danger approaching, as a shadow falls across the universe.
Guest stars include former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton, Bernard Cribbins, Catherine Tate and June Whitfield.
:: Doctor Who: The End of Time, Part One, is broadcast on Christmas Day at 6pm on BBC1The story sees the Master, played by Life On Mars star John Simm, re-born on Christmas Eve.

Ten teasers about 'The End Of Time'

Ten teasers about 'The End Of Time'

'Who mine until last broadcast'

David Tennant has said that he will feel possessive over his role in Doctor Who until his final episodes are broadcast.
The Tenth Doctor will be killed off in the 'End Of Time' two-parter being aired on Christmas Day and New Year's Day before he is regenerated as the Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith.
Tennant told BBC Newsbeat: "It was an emotional finish and the final story is very emotional, there was crying on and off screen. Until they broadcast, it will still feel like mine.
"I didn't know how I'd feel when they started filming again. There were photos of Matt in costume and that was the first realisation that it is going on without me. But it was actually quite exciting, I can't wait to see it."
When asked if he will be watching the show at Christmas, he added: "Well I will still be in it, so I will be sitting round with three or four hundred of my closest friends forcing them to watch me on television. That's what happens on Christmas Day."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Who's Claire Bloom?

In an interview with The Times veteran actress Claire Bloom (best known to SF&F fans as Hera in Clash Of The Titans) has dropped some hints about her role in Doctor Who’s "The End Of Time".
When asked if there is any truth in the rumours that that she is playing the Doctor’s mother, she replied, “Possibly his mother, possibly not, someone who appears and basically gives him the bad news. A seer, a prophetess. Also she is somehow there as a protectress. But that’s more in what I tried to do than in the script. The scripts are very, very complicated.”

The Doctor on my shoulder

The Official BBC Doctor Who website has Day Sevateem of the 2009 Christmas Adventure Calendar: The Doctor on My Shoulder Part One by Daniel Roth, CLICK HERE for the story.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Moffat announces monster return

Interviewed by writer and journalist Matthew Sweet in tonight's edition of Night Waves on BBC Radio 3, new Doctor Who lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat announced the return of a race of monsters to face new Doctor Matt Smith in the next series of the programme in 2010. After discussing various aspects of what it was like being in charge of Doctor Who, at the end of the interview Sweet asked Moffat if he could reveal one piece of information known to nobody outside of the production team, as a "teaser" for the next series. Moffat's answer, "The Weeping Angels are coming back!"

Q&A: The Master's wife, Lucy Saxon!

The last we saw of The Doctor's long-time rival The Master, he'd been reduced to a pile of ashes after being shot and - in a bout of stubbornness befitting of an evil megalomaniac - refusing to regenerate. But as we all know, The Master is to be reborn this Christmas in 'The End Of Time', David Tennant's highly anticipated final Doctor Who adventure. He's not the only one coming back, though - so too is the woman who shot him: his deranged wife Lucy Saxon! What part does she play in his resurrection? And was she the one who collected his ring from the funeral pyre? We collared actress Alexandra Moen for a quick chat to find out.

When did you find out you would be coming back for David Tennant's final episodes?
"Quite late on. I'm not sure when they decided but I think I was only told a month or two before filming."

How did you feel?
"Oh, so thrilled! I was always hoping I would be brought back in some way so it was a brilliant feeling."

How is it possible? The Master storyline felt like it was all wrapped up.
"I know but then that's the beauty of Doctor Who, isn't it? The whole regeneration idea and all these twisty sci-fi rules. Anything can happen in sci-fi!"

The last we saw, The Master's ring was being collected from his ashes. Can we assume you were picking up his ring?
"It wasn't me! You're going to have to keep watching to find out who it was!"

Lucy shot The Master, which led to his apparent death. What's her relationship with him like this time?
"Not good. She's been incarcerated since, as a punishment for the shooting, so she has a lot of time to reflect on how bad it all got. She's a little bit of a reformed character."

Where was she incarcerated?
"I'm not 100% sure to be honest. She's been incarcerated in a really epic castle dungeon-style prison which we actually shot in a medieval castle in Wales - it was freezing! I'm not quite sure who incarcerates her but there's a governor of the prison - a new governor... that's as much as I can tell you."

When she's let out is she angry or has she found peace?
"She's actually not necessarily let out! She's quite an angry person, I would say."

Does she have a bigger role in the story this time around?
"No, not really. I would say a similar kind of significance to the last one. It's definitely more The Master's story."

John Simm's changed his hair. Do you prefer him as a blond?
"That smacks of 1992 grunge, so no I don't!"

There's some great guest stars in the specials, like June Whitfield and Bernard Cribbins. Did you get to act with them?
"No, I didn't. Because I've been incarcerated, my scenes were more with John and a few of the other actors. There were a lot of actors there I didn't get to work with."

Everyone wants to know what happens - what was the security like on set?
"So top secret it was unbelievable! We weren't even given the last few pages of the episode. Anyone who was in them obviously had them but everyone else wasn't allowed to know how it culminated. When you auditioned - not that this was an audition - you were only sent your own scenes so it's very, very secretive."

Is that frustrating?
"I like it actually. When you read a script it's totally different to when you see it, especially with some sci-fi stuff. I really love being surprised when I watch it. It is a bit frustrating but it's probably best for interviews because actors can give things away when they don't mean to, so it's probably a really good idea - Russell knows actors too well!"

Before you got the part were you a big fan of the show?
"I was. I missed all the original Doctor Who because I was too young but I was aware of it and I was quite excited when I heard it was being brought back - partly because I was a big Russell T Davies fan actually. I was really excited, yeah."

What's your opinion on David leaving and the new regime?
"David is definitely my favorite Doctor but I think that Matt will be brilliant. The whole point of Doctor Who is that lots of different actors play him so it's totally fitting and appropriate. It was time for a new Doctor, wasn't it?"

Finally, are you done with the show or might you come back?
"You know what? I have no idea! I would say anything is possible but I don't know the new team. I don't know how many characters they're resurrecting from the new series - probably not that many - so I don't know."

Bernard Cribbins: 'I was in the Tardis before David was born'

At 80, he's top of the charts and will be watched by millions in the Christmas 'Doctor Who'. But, of all his many roles, he is most proud of reading 'Jackanory'
Susie Mesure meets Bernard Cribbins

Bernard Cribbins pauses, sips his tea and struggles to think of something left to do. "I've never been in a circus but I think I'm too old and slow for that now.

And I've never done a Western. I don't think I'm good enough to ride a horse but I could drive the chuckwagon and be Clint Eastwood's dad or something. Or brother even, because we're about the same age. I'd be the grizzled old thing at the front, cooking beans. I'm very good at the after-bean thing with the Blazing Saddles scene, hee, hee!"

The truth is that, at 80, after nearly seven decades treading the boards, there's almost nothing he hasn't done. It will be second time round for him in the Tardis this Christmas when he steps aboard as the Doctor's companion – Donna's grandfather, Wilf – for David Tennant's final two episodes. "When we got into the Tardis back in April or May, I said to him, 'The last time I was in the Tardis was in 1966.' There was a slight pause, and he said: 'I wasn't even born then.' I felt very, very old. 'Help me up! Help me up!' I said."

Even a stint at number one in the pop charts these past two weeks – as the voice of the Wombles in Peter Kay's Animated All Star Band song for Children in Need – is his third taste of Top-10 fame. "For about three weeks in the 1960s I was nearly a pop star," he chuckles.

His singles, "recorded by George Martin, before the Beatles got a hold of him", might not have hit the top spot but they have staying power: "Right Said Fred" (No 10) inspired the 1990s pop trio and Noël Coward choose "Hole in the Ground" (No 9) as his ultimate Desert Island Discs pick, something that tickles Cribbins every time he thinks about it. "When Roy Plomley asked why, [Coward] said, 'I could translate it into French as I walked up and down the beach.' Isn't that great? I never met the gentleman, but I would have loved to and say, 'It was me! I did Hole in the Ground!' He would have patted me on the head and said, 'Of course you did, dear!' Wonderful."

"Wonderful" is something Cribbins says frequently. Not in any raging, luvvie way but because, you get the impression, the years have generally treated him pretty well. Leaving aside that early Tardis outing, in Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150AD, he's probably best known as the station master Mr Perks in The Railway Children, a role that gained him a Bafta nomination.

Playing the part was a career highlight. He recalls staying in Yorkshire with his wife, Gill, and fishing for trout every night after he was through for the day. "I only found out at the end of the fortnight that I was poaching because I didn't have a ticket."

Although Cribbins has played many other roles – most memorably, for him, on the stage in Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre – it is for his work in children's television that he is probably best loved. Never mind the Tardis; just listening to his smooth, deep tones are enough to transport most people back to their childhood.

As well as narrating the Wombles, his was the voice of Jackanory for millions of children: Cribbins made the most appearances on the show with 111. He has also recorded the complete Winnie the Pooh, including the new David Benedictus book just out, and Howard Blake's The Snowman. Forget National Treasure; he is the National Granddad. This despite having no grandchildren of his own. His wife had an early miscarriage and they never had any children.

We meet just after he has picked up a special award at the Children's Baftas for his contribution to entertaining pre-teens. And educating them. He recounts a trip he made in a black cab: "The driver, a black guy, an East Ender, asked me what I was doing. I told him I was going to do a little bit of filming for Roald Dahl because I used to do Jackanory, and he said, 'Yeah, Jackanory. I remember that. It made me want to learn to read.'

"It's absolutely beautiful that: the cherry on the top for me. Shakespeare couldn't have put it better. It. Made. Me. Want. To. Learn. To. Read. You know; sitting there in the East End. I think it's fabulous. That's what kids' TV is all about. It entertains; it stimulates; it educates, and maybe, in some cases, it unlocks a bit of potential in a child, which they've all got, haven't they? That sounds rather pompous, but it's what I feel."

These days Cribbins reckons children would be hard pushed to get inspired to pick up a book by what they see on the box.

He is particularly upset at how people tell stories on TV. "Nowadays, it seems you can't just have one talking head, you have to have flashing lights and CGI and everything has to go 'click, click, click' the whole time. I think they've lost faith in a child's attention span."

Even the CBeebies' bedtime hour story, which like Jackanory is read by someone famous, has been messed with. "Now they have you finishing a sentence or a chapter and then coming in through a door or something. They're trying to move it along like a movie but I'm not sure that's necessary. I mean, mum and dad don't walk around the bedroom and then suddenly leap out of a wardrobe and continue with the next paragraph," he harrumphs.

It was never his master plan to major in children's work. "I've no idea why it happened. As an actor, you're a labourer and you get engaged to do certain jobs. I was just asked to do some kids' stuff."

The son of a plumber's mate and cotton weaver, he was born and brought up in Oldham, Lancashire. He says he fell into acting: "I was 14. I was offered a job and it was easier than looking for work, so I'm here by accident. It was just as well because I can't do anything else."

The only break from acting was while serving with the paratroopers during his National Service. He saw action in Palestine in 1947 and 1948 but "was desperate to get back to the theatre".

Despite all the film and TV roles – his movie credits include Peter Sellers and Alfred Hitchcock numbers, plus a couple of Carry Ons and She, with Ursula Andress, while his TV work memorably includes being mistaken for a hotel inspector by John Cleese in Fawlty Towers – theatre remains his favourite. "It always has been because it's what I know best. You're in charge. The only thing they can do is turn the lights out and even then you can go on shouting." Another chuckle.

He peppers his stories liberally with names of theatre greats, past and present, with whom he has worked: Lionel Blair, Edward Woodwood, Imelda Staunton, Peter Cushing, Elaine Paige, Patricia Routledge, Gillian Lynne ... the list is long.

But he claims to have broken his last theatrical leg. "It takes an awful lot of energy and I think I'm a bit too tired for it now. I was asked to do a panto, but I said, sadly, no."

Now that he has – slightly – more time on his hands, he can indulge another love: fishing. He has just finished making eight hour-long programmes on angling, Catching the Impossible, with the wildlife film-maker Hugh Miles.

Nothing, apparently, beats casting into the surf to fish for bass. He is, nevertheless, pleased with a surprise catch just before we speak: some motley feathers he spotted in a skip. He's only too happy to pose with them for our photographer, briefly unleashing some of his inner luvvie in the faces he pulls, before taking them home to turn into trout flies.

As for whether, despite turning 81 later this month, Cribbins might have one last Doctor Who innings left in him with the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, well, he reckons stranger things have happened: "Perhaps he'll say, 'I wonder what happened to that old fart, Wilfred, and he'll ring me up and say, this is the Doctor.' And I'll say, 'Who?' and we'll do all the jokes."

'The End of Time: Part One', is on Christmas Day at 6pm on BBC1; Bernard Cribbins also appears in 'Buzzcocks – the Doctor Who Special' this Wednesday at 10pm on BBC2

The Official BBC Doctor Who website is looking for jokes

The Official BBC Doctor Who website is looking for jokes,CLICK HERE for more details.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dalek sex

Doctor Who: Adventure Calendar 2009 - Day Eleven - David Tennant And The Proclaimers

The 12 Blogs of Christmas: One. A Doctor Who Story for Christmas.

The 12 Blogs of Christmas: One. A Doctor Who Story for Christmas.

David Tennant: 'It’s my Doctor Who finale!'

After four years in the Tardis, David Tennant finally leaves Doctor Who after a spectacular two-part adventure to be shown on BBC1 over Christmas and the New Year. Here he tells What's On TV what to expect - how the Time Lord battles the Master, meets Donna Noble again, and regenerates into Matt Smith...

What can you tell us about your final two-part adventure called The End of Time?
“Well it’s my finale and it definitely won’t disappoint. It’s just huge and the cliffhanger between the two episodes amazingly keeps going on and on. It’s brilliant in its scope because you keep thinking, that’s the cliffhanger and then something else happens, then something else and you think well that’s it it’s finished – and then something brilliant you never see coming happens. It’s great to have some returning stars back too. John Simm is The Master, Catherine Tate is Donna again, and Bernard Cribbens is her grandfather Wilf.”

Is Donna quite central to the story?
“Well Donna was last seen at the end of series four when she was made not to remember any of her adventures with the Doctor. We were told all hell would break loose if she did remember. So when the Doctor bumps into her grandfather Wilf again it’s clearly imperative that they don’t bump into Donna, or that Donna isn’t aware of what’s going on. I think it’s fair to say that Russell T Davies wouldn’t write that into a script unless it’s seen through. You can probably imagine the chaos that’s going to happen there.”

There are some Ood as well, aren’t there?
“Yep you see one at end of Waters Of Mars. In this we get to visit the Oodsphere again where the Doctor’s told ‘Your song will be ending soon’. The Ood are actually calling time on the Doctor and for him that’s where the story begins. But we find out that he hasn’t gone straight there and he’s running and trying to pretend his incarnation isn’t doomed. But the Ood tell him he should have got there sooner because time is moving against him and the rest of creation in the shape of The Master who has miraculously been brought back to life. The story iunravels from there pretty much.”

So do you meet the Master early on?
“Not too early on as there’s a bit of hide-and-seek going on between the Doctor and The Master. Unlike the last time you saw The Master when he was the Prime Minister Harold Saxon, he’s in a slightly more feral state this time. He’s hiding not only from the Doctor but from humanity at large. And the process of bringing him back to life hasn’t left him the healthiest creature in the world. There’s also a desperateness to him this time. He wasn’t the most sane of characters at the best of times but John Simm is just sensational - he kind of just eats the screen up with a feverish intensity, it’s extraordinary. And the Doctor knows he’s dying so needs to find the Master. The Doctor’s relationship with The Master is confusing because he knows he has to sort of shut him down. At the same time he wants to reach out to him because he’s the only vestige of the Time Lord’s people that’s left. There’s that kind of Bond there.”

What are the exchanges like between you and The Master?
“There’s lots of dialogue between them, and John Simm’s brilliant. John really enjoys the part as well. He gets to go barking mad which he did the last time and you thought that was as bad as it got, but this time he’s off the scale! He also gets to blow things up which he enjoyed. There are a lot of fireballs going off at various points. When things start to explode behind you it’s tricky to look cool. Everyone’s trying to crank it up for the finale and make everything that little bit bigger than before. I remember the heat on the back of my head was incredible at one point. But then you look back and realise how cool it looks when you see the scene!”

The Doctor spends a lot of time with Wilf doesn’t he?
“You get these incredible scenes with these two old men – Wilf who’s 80 and the Doctor who’s 906 or so and it’s incredibly moving to see these old boys talking about life and death. He’s as much the Doctor’s companion in this as anyone is. He gets on board the Tardis and has a trip with the Doctor, which is fantastic because Bernard Cribbens last did that in 1966 with Peter Cushing in the movie. Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150AD.”

Are these dark, scary episodes?
“It’s got a different scale to it. It’s kind of like a fable, with fairytale elements. It starts with this narration from Timothy Dalton in this booming voice. He says something like: ‘In the last days of the human race everyone was having bad dreams’ and it’s got that kind of epic scale to it and every ten minutes or so Timothy comes in with a bit more spooky narration. There’s a huge long sequence where nobody says anything and the Doctor and the Master are simply trying to find each other. It’s different from anything we’ve done before. Russell’s so clever and knows exactly how you can kind of tease these things out and just when you think it’s getting a little bleak he sprinkles in a little bit of comedy. It’s a beautifully constructed story.”

What’s June Whitfield’s role in the story?
“She plays Minnie the menace, who had an incident in a police box once – not the Tardis another police box - and she likes to remember that when the Tardis comes along. She’s one of Wilf’s pals and she’s in it right throughout actually.”

Are John Barrowman and Billie Piper back as Captain Jack and Rose?
“They’re not in the Christmas episode. New Year? – you’ll have to wait and see...”

We’ve heard there are some weddings, is that right?
"Yep Donna’s getting married. In fact that’s when The Doctor meets Donna again, he also meets her husband-to-be and they’re all set to get married. But clearly that’s not going to work out. Well certainly not as smoothly as she might anticipate."

Was it strange being in the Tardis for the last time?
“That actually came in the Sarah Jane Adventures which I filmed after. In a way that was a nice decompression week which I think was probably for the best. I think if my last day had been my last Doctor Who scene I’d have been a wreck, so as it was I was spared all that.”

Is the Doctor obviously heading towards regeneration throughout this?
“Well I think he knows he is in trouble from the end of The Waters Of Mars. He realises he went too far there and the universe is catching up with him and the Ood have come to call him to his fate. He says quite early on in the Christmas Day episode 'I’m going to die'. He knows it’s coming, he feels it coming and there’s something broken about him. At the beginning of the story you see him trying to cope with that knowledge in a bizarre fashion like wearing a silly hat and talking nine to the dozen to the Ood trying to make it all OK. But he knows he’s running from the inevitable. These episodes seem bigger and scarier and the whole scale of it is kind of imposing, because it feels like there’s a drive towards his end that is inescapable for everyone involved.”

Do you run about a lot in this adventure?
“There’s not as much running as normal which is fair enough because Bernard Cribbens is 80, and we wouldn’t want to kill him off. Although saying that, he’s pretty good, he did keep up. He’d never give up he was so fearless. I’m strapped down for one sequence so had to be wheeled about. There were lots of big stunts and lots of things blown up behind, and a bit of wire work, too. I don’t think I got body-doubled in this. I was allowed to do everything.”

Why did you pick now as the time to leave Doctor Who?
“It was less about fear of being typecast, than if I stayed I’d never have the guts to leave because I love it so much. It would have been very easy just to keep going. It’s felt a very special and unique time, not just a job. I’d hate it to become just that. So this felt like the brave thing to do. If I’d stayed much longer you’d have never got rid of me.”

Did you give any advice to Matt Smith about taking over from you as the Doctor?
“I haven’t given him any advice. What would you say really? It would be patronising and inappropriate. We’ve chatted of course and he’s got such enthusiasm and focus for it. But I wouldn’t presume to tell him what to do. I’m quite jealous in that I recognise that he’s starting out on a journey that will be amazing. It’s exciting and overwhelming. It’s funny, on the day Matt started shooting, there were photos released. I hadn’t expected it. It was up on the internet so I went and had a look. I was genuinely surprised and excited. That doesn’t mean when it comes on telly I won’t be going, ‘Oh he’s better than me!’. At the moment I’m just really excited to see what they do next.”

Doctor Who has been a huge chunk of your life hasn’t it?
“Absolutely and a very special time. I’ll always look back on this time very fondly. Life changing yeah, and unique, it will be unlike anything else I’ll ever do. With the appeal it has and the range of attentions it gets it’s pretty unique.”

Have you taken any mementoes?
“I haven’t taken anything from the set though I got given a sonic screwdriver. And I got given some versions of the costume, then panicked and had to put them somewhere else because I thought what if my house gets robbed or burns down. I can go visit them I suppose.”

Did you have any fears about this being your last hurrah?
“Clearly you want your last one to be big and special and feel epic. And feel like an end to something. But as soon as I read the script I knew that was going to happen. Russell T Davies has managed to create a story quite unlike what we’ve done before. I just wonder how he keeps managing to re-invent things. But he does it and my admiration for him grows and grows.”

Is there anything you won’t miss about being Doctor Who?
“Not really. There are two sides to Doctor Who and I never anticipated being a celebrity – it’s not something that sits very easily with me. So there are sides to that I won’t be sorry to see the end of. So if some of that died down a bit that would be ok.”

Will you be sitting down watching on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day?
“Yes along with the millions of others – I gotta keep the viewing figures up. My family enjoy watching it with me - they enjoy the hoo-ha of it. There’s undeniably something special about being a part of something like a TV event. People talk about the Doctor Who Christmas special being like the Morecambe and Wise Christmas specials. But we’ve only done four and it’s a relatively new thing. My first episode was the very first Doctor Who Christmas special they’d ever done. I feel very chuffed that we’ve become part of the Christmas furniture and the family, like me, enjoy that sensation.”

Doctor Who: The End Of Time parts 1 and 2 will be shown on BBC1 at 6pm Christmas Day and 6.40pm on New Year’s Day.

Russell T Davies on writing

The writer best known for his unique take on "Doctor Who" thinks it's a fate-driven partnership. "It's literally the first thing I remember from when I was 3 years old," says the jovial Russell T Davies in a quiet tea room in a hotel here.

"I was born in 1963 so I can remember black-and-white images of 'Doctor Who' from that age. My mother used to sit and make me watch it, she loved it so. The whole of Britain watched 'Doctor Who.' Now it does again, fortunately. In those days every child watched it. There was just no question, no debate. It was a show that everyone watched so a lot of people grew up and became teenagers. I just stayed with it."

Davies, who's been writing the series for six years, is parting ways with his flashy hero. "I've loved it but it's time to move on. I wanted to get out while I still loved it before I got bored. I'm excited. I feel like I made the right decision and it's an achievement It's been the No.1 program in Britain. Not the No.1 drama - the No. 1 program."

The last two of his episodes, "The End of Time," air Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 on BBC America.

As fond as he is of the character, writing is another matter. "It's hard work," he shakes his head, "it's never enjoyable ... I like the end of it when something's made and I'm happy with it and I watch it. And I've watched things I've made many times, mostly because I can't believe the luck and the relief having gotten to the end of it. I'm building up to writing a script right now, and I'm not liking this process. It's nights of worry and torment. However, it's better than being a nurse or a teacher in an inner city school," he sighs with relief. Writing is like putting your brain on paper, which is not natural and not easy but in the end, it's the joy of it when it works, when it clicks. Then something magic happens."

The magic didn't happen at first. Davies grew up in South Wales and never entertained the idea of being a writer. He was good at drawing and scribbled cartoons for school papers.

"It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I looked on it as a possible job never thinking it was possible (for me). Then fortunately I met the right people and worked very hard to get the right contacts and opportunities. It took a long time to realize it was even an option," he says. "I moved to Manchester and learned my trade there. Granada Television is based there which is a big, old television station dating back to the 1960s, a very prestigious company. I learned so much there. I just knocked on doors begging for jobs and writing things for nothing and standing in line and waiting - well everyone has to do that really. Eventually somebody I knew moved there and they gave me a job. So it's always the way, it's always the people you know."

He started writing what he calls "properly" in 1981 and has been employed ever since. "The problem with the job is it teaches you nothing because every new script is a new set of characters, a new situation, a new story - a whole new world and every time you start from scratch," he says. "All the experience you've built up is just worthless. You might learn the odd trick along the way, but if it's a trick, it's no good. You shouldn't use tricks. You should be more honest than that ... You know how much trouble people have at Christmas with a thank-you letter? You know how you put that off for days? That's what writing is, magnified by a thousand. It's writing that thank-you letter or that lengthy birthday card or that note to a friend you haven't spoken to in six months - times 6,000. It makes your brain melt."

His brain hasn't scorched too badly. Davies wrote "Queer as Folk," which became a television series in the United States, and seven months ago he moved to the U.S. to work on a new script. He actually started as a producer and director before he had the courage to try writing. It was part of the deal that he would be executive producer AND writer of "Doctor Who," though the requirements of each job differ.

"Writers are people who sit in the attic and wear pajamas all day, genuinely eccentric souls who lock themselves away. You can't imagine Proust running 'The West Wing,' can you?" he laughs. But he does both, harboring a deep appreciation for actors, calling them "magical people" and managing the gritty details of mounting a TV show. Part of his stability he owes to his private life and his 11-year relationship with his companion, Andrew White. "He's a customs officer," Davies chuckles, "which is a great antidote to my life. He doesn't care about show business or actors or anything like that and I go home and I barely talk about work. He has to put up with a lot from my job - the hours and things like that. I don't really go on about it. We just have a laugh together. Bless him."

"From the SunHerald in Mississippi

Colin Baker Interview

It’s not often that one has the pleasure of being sat opposite The Doctor – as in, the definite article and not some overworked NHS chap. Earlier this year we met the sixth incarnation of the legendary Time Lord during a recording session for Big Finish’s noble endeavour to finally put those stories from Doctor Who’s ‘lost’ 23rd season into production as a series of audio adventures. Here’s the affable Colin Baker’s thoughts on the new project, his take on the 1985 cancellation and the current intense media scrutiny of the show.

Is it bittersweet for you to finally record the missing season on audio, given that they were abruptly pulled from production in 1985?
"Obviously it would have been great to have done them. I do remember reading the script of ‘The Nightmare Fair’ and looking forward to doing it. It’s quite interesting because since then my Doctor has developed, through the writers for Big Finish, in a lot of ways that I had in mind when I was doing it on television. The standard of writing that I’m getting now from Big Finish compares very favourably with some of the stuff I was doing on screen in the ,80s. I am playing these now not in the way I’d probably be expected to play them had it been my actual second season, where I would have been more dismissive of Peri and rude to her. I’m allowing The Doctor I am now to infect the way I play those scripts. It’s a kind of meld of the two really."

Has your stance towards the initial cancellation of Doctor Who in 1985 changed over the past two decades?
"I’ve mellowed quite quickly. I was a little unhappy that [script editor] Eric Saward took the opportunity to say he thought I should never have been cast in the first place, which given the fact that this was a guy I’d entertained in my home and never indicated to me how he felt - I thought it was a bit shabby. When people you think are your friends let you down that’s crappy, but Michael Grade wasn’t a friend of mine.

"Before he came to the BBC he was talking about not liking Doctor Who and thinking that it was a bit of tired old rubbish that ought to be cancelled. So it was perfectly acceptable when he came there that he cancelled it, and when he brought it back it was entirely his prerogative as head of BBC One to say that it was time to change the actor. I don’t actually think it was personal. At the time I thought ‘he doesn’t like me and thinks I’m a rubbish actor’. But with the benefit of information from third parties it’s quite clear that he just didn’t like the programme."

Have you noticed that there’s been a critical reappraisal towards your portrayal of The Doctor in recent times?
"I’m perfectly proud of the work I did, looking back at it. I know I’ve had a bit of a revision since my Big Finish stories came out. The most vociferous fans have decided perhaps I’m not a c**p actor and happened to be playing the part at a time when the programme was under attack. I’m sad because I’d have loved to have done it more, but I am doing it more now! I would happily go on doing these forever, as long as I sound the same, which at the moment I do. Maybe 20 years from now when I’m a doddery old fart I won’t. Way back when I started doing the part, I stated 'my ambition is to do it longer than Tom Baker', which of course was rather rudely truncated. But in terms of stories done, if you include Big Finish - and I do because they're Doctor Who stories - I've done more stories than Tom! It's even been suggested that I might be The Doctor who has done the most stories. I think I've edged Peter [Davison] and Sylv [Sylvester McCoy] on Big Finish stories."

Some of the other Doctors might try to redress the balance by claiming that 'The Trial Of A Time Lord' should count as just one story...
"Haha, there's got to be a jury out there to make this decision!"

Get Lynda Bellingham to decide...
"Haha, yeah!"

Having seen you in the studio recording Christopher Bidmead's 'The Hollows Of Time', it took me by surprise just how physical vocal acting can be.
"I find if I use physical effort it sounds like you’re using physical effort. When The Doctor is supposed to be walking, I walk on the spot. Bit pathetic really, isn’t it? You’re on your feet all day of course and I’m quite whacked by the end of it. Last night I was quite drained when I got home."

Did it mean much to you to feature in a brief clip shown on the last Christmas Special ‘The Next Doctor’ and watched by over 13 million viewers?
"I suppose it meant that ‘new Who’ has finally accepted there was an ‘old Who’. Obviously it was accepted off the record, but now it’s accepted on the record. Those brief flashes which will perplex, I suppose, the under 10s. ‘Who are those old gits in black and white up there?’ But it was quite nice. I think it excited fandom more than it did me, to be honest."

How do you feel about to the intense media interest in the show now, particularly when Matt Smith was unveiled as the next Doctor, compared to your time in the show?
"Yeah, that was bizarre. It was always newsworthy. When I was cast it was on the Six O’Clock News and my picture was up there as the new Doctor and I was interviewed by loads of people immediately afterwards. But this anticipation of announcing it nine months in advance, or however long it is, is unprecedented. The BBC now knows that it’s got a tiger by the tail and a tiger that is extremely healthy and charging forwards. For instance, I think I got one and a half Radio Times covers over my three years. I think during David Tennant’s era it’s been ten, twelve, fourteen covers?

"Doctor Who is big property now. It was then actually. In terms of overseas sales and its popularity, everywhere else except within the BBC back in the '80s, it was phenomenal. But the BBC wasn’t motivated back then to capitalise on that success. It is received wisdom that the programme wasn’t very successful in my era. But it was. We were getting eight or nine million. So I’m at a loss to understand that. It was almost as if they were embarrassed to be doing a programme that was 25 years old or whatever it was then. I think now that the BBC is a business – thank God – and as a business the merchandise they’ve got I’m sure earns more in revenue than sales of the programme.

"I’ve now got another little doll of me. What is most gratifying is that people keep saying to me ‘they’ve ran out of yours in my local shop, I can’t get the Sixth Doctor’. I think it’s just because it’s a pretty color and a bit more striking than the others. Now there’s a second doll of me in my Big Finish blue, which is lovely, as I always moaned about my costume. I think it’s lovely to get a new costume on audio!"

Doctor Who: 'The Nightmare Fair' is available to buy now at www.bigfinish.com with more stories to follow in 2010

Doctor Who items on sale at Bonhams

Doctor Who items on sale at Bonhams

The Doctor ans Master screensavers

The Master: PC version (2.7MB)
The Master: Mac version (1.5MB)
The End of Time: PC version (3.16MB)
The End of Time: Mac version (2MB)

Russell T Davies And The Lure Of America

Russell T Davies And The Lure Of America

So what are you up to in LA? Can you talk about it?

“I’m going to be slightly vague, just because of the nature of these things. It’s working for Worldwide, for Worldwide to become a studio out there. It’s payback time, I think. Worldwide and the BBC have supported us so well that it’s really in their interest then to get stuff into American studios. They’ve got a huge hit out there with Dancing With The Stars, which is Strictly Come Dancing. That’s just the start of their ambitions. They want dramas, they want everything. So I’m out there developing stuff for them with Julie and Jane Tranter. You know what it’s like with development, it can take five years to get something made…”

Are they dramas based on existing properties?

“I wouldn’t do that, but that’s part of the push. Everyone knows that Gavin And Stacey is being reformatted out there. In the papers the other day they mentioned Butterflies! And a fully Americanised version of Holby. But I wouldn’t be interested in reinventing a show like that. I like developing new stuff. It could be co-productions with the BBC. And also with money haemhorraging everywhere, it’s the future anyway, you pay half and we’ll pay half. Everyone gets budgets for half-price. So you get proper co-productions. But getting the BBC – not Worldwide – to liaise with an American studio is like VHS and Betamax! And I know who Betamax is… It’s really going to be interesting and fascinating. But if anyone’s in a position to do that it’s me and Jane and Julie because we know the BBC backwards. We know all its strengths and weaknesses, and we know Worldwide, because we’ve worked with them so often on Doctor Who. I’m not saying we’ll succeed, but we’ll have a good try. It’s just an adventure. It’s simply that Doctor Who is so massive and so brilliant and to be blunt, I could go and get a six-parter for ITV tomorrow, and I will one day, but that’s what I was doing before. I thought ‘Why go backwards?’ Why not take all the stuff you’ve learned on this show about marketing and branding - and actually there’s no other show in Britain to do that on, there simply isn’t, there’s nothing that big, and never will be. So simply a chance to do that. And then in a few years I will be dying to do a six-parter for ITV, and I will come back and do that. There’s no way I’m moving out there permanently. It’s too f**king hot!”

How do you find it personally? People always say that it’s a vacuum over there for British people creatively.

“No, it’s not. People are just snotty about it. Telly people are clever, telly people over there are dead sharp… I could talk about this forever. It’s fascinating to watch this stuff. It’s a completely different thing to watch it on transmission than it is to watch box sets. I love Flash Forward, it’s a great show, it’s going out at 10 o’clock on Five over here… last episode, lovely great big strong lesbian story in there, lovely upfront relationship. Fascinating, in America – that’s going out at 8 o’clock at night. If you ask people over here they say, ‘Oh, there are no gay stories over here,’ but there are masses of them, and they’re transmitted at 8 o’clock. We just survive culturally by imagining that we’re better than America in our oppression, and actually it’s so misconceived. I’m watching the cop shows and the crime shows, and I’m years from making any definite conclusions, and maybe any definite conclusions will be nonsense, but I can absolutely tell right now that at the top level, their best writing is no better than our best writing. But what is fascinating is that at the bottom level, their worst writing is far better than our worst writing. It’s more structured, it’s more clean, they know what they’re doing. So a piece of rubbish on American TV is much better made than a piece of rubbish on British TV.”

Do you think that’s due to the system? The writing room and all that?

“It’s not just the room. It’s simply that it’s a proper job out there. Writers in this country are still slightly embarrassed about saying ‘I’m a writer, it’s part-time, it’s a hobby…’ And even when they’re working very hard, Frank Cottrell-Boyce said this, the writers actually want to go home to the pub, and home to the attic. And in America they want to be on set making the show. It’s literally a different approach to it.It’s a more professional approach, a more real approach. It’s less mystical, and more hard work. And that’s a very American ethos, hard work. And of course it has its faults. I’m absolutely not saying that it’s a perfect system. I’ve discovered the faults in it as well as the strengths. But it’s amazing just to see how everything is designed to succeed. Which doesn’t mean that it does succeed – things could fall apart, and it’s always an imprecise science, but that’s not true of British programmes. A lot of them can apologetically slide on air with a bit of a shrug saying ‘Oh well, we tried’. And I love that hype. That stuff is expensive and it’s designed to be seen.”

The scythe falls very quickly, though.

“Yes, it does. I’m just getting used to that transmission pattern. Supernatural will have been on for five weeks and now it’s having a break! What? How stupid is that? And then you watch the other channel not having a break and stealing all their viewers! It amazes me. Let’s have a great night on ABC, let’s show Flash Forward on a Thursday night, Friday night – all repeated! Can you imagine that on BBC One? We’re showing Thursday night again! British telly would never do that. We’d have new programmes on. And yet, when you’re sitting there, you get used to it. You’re sitting there on the Thursday thinking, ‘Oh, I could watch it tomorrow!’ It’s amazing how quickly you get used to these different rhythms.

"One area in which I think our television is better is the horrific hour between 7 and 8, which is their entertainment shows, because it’s such a showbiz culture. There’s an hour of Entertainment Tonight and a ruthless, vicious showbiz show called The Insider, which is vile and yet vastly watchable. And you think, 'Actually, I’m glad we make Emmerdale in this country.' Because that’s actually a nobler pursuit than making these shows! But it’s fascinating to watch. It’s not as simple as transplanting that culture into our culture. People in this country always say, ‘Oh, you should bring the writer’s room over here…’ Well, you could never afford it, don’t even talk rubbish, it’s never going to happen. It does happen on certain sitcoms and they’re rubbish. When we do it over here we get students in to do it – I’m glad that they can do it on air, but it doesn’t raise the standard of writing at all. I had dinner with Jane Espenson, and they have misconceptions about American television as well. You’d be surprised at how many writers there are dying to come here. To them, to write six hours is a joy – no, we don’t have to do 22 hours, we can do really small, authored pieces.

"And it’s interesting, because someone like Jane Espenson, if she was British, by this stage in her career she would have had seven or eight authored shows of her own, with her own titles, and yet, brilliantly, the great misconception, and I do love her for saying this, she says, ‘Oh, I do envy that system, where you get six hours of television. It must be so nice to start production with all your six scripts sitting there!’ Well, hold on a minute – you’re lucky if you’ve got two sitting there when you start! She was amazed to realise that it was the same kick-bollock scramble over here that it was over there. Some things don’t change. It’s probably only of interest to me in the end, affecting the way that I write, and I can’t see that changing… I certainly have to deliver more treatments and more structured breakdowns and things like that, which I’m lucky enough to get away with not doing in this country. But I can do that. I’m not worried about that.”

How long will you be over there?

“A few years. I’ll always come back in the end. It’s good timing, because everything is collapsing. It’s a recession in America right now, but a recession in American television is still 50 times the size of what’s happening here. They’re all complaining, saying that there’s no work, but if you look at the output you think there’s masses of work, it’s enormous. There’s a lot of ambition out there as well. It’s hard, because I don’t know to what extent I’d ever get a network show out there. It’s a bit disingenuous to think I’m going out there as a complete novice because the American version of Queer As Folk ran on Showtime for five years. That still opens doors. And they’ve heard of Doctor Who and Torchwood, of course. It’s really interesting. I can’t tell where it’s heading, but I’m really glad that I’m doing it.”

End of Time Clip - The Master Attacks

End of Time Clip - The Master Attacks

Doctor Who - Christmas 2009

Merry Christmas from Doctor Who and BBC One

Part 2

Catherine Tate Fails on Doctor Who

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Russell T Davies on “The End Of Time"

So what’s the tone of The End Of Time? How doomy can you be on Christmas Day?

Russell T Davies: “It’s unusual. It’s got that kind of ‘Logopolis’ air to it, and I always liked that, because he knew from episode one that something doom-laden and sinister was on its way.”

With the Cloister Bell…?

“Yeah, the Cloister Bell, and the Watcher watching him… It’s got a little bit of that atmosphere to it. Whereas “Planet Of The Spiders” you didn’t know until everything went tits-up at the end of that last episode! ‘Oh dear, I’m going to regenerate!’ This has got that funereal air of ‘Logopolis’ – but it’s not just funereal. You’re talking about five or six scenes.”

You’re bringing back the Master. There’s such a good dynamic between John Simm and David. Did you want to build on that?

“I think one of the only problems with ‘Last Of The Time Lords’ is that they didn’t have much material together. It’s really, really hard to put the Doctor and the Master in a scene together, unless you start writing nonsense, like they say, ‘Ha ha, let’s team up to save the universe!’ And then the Master double-crosses him behind his back… There are rubbish ways of bringing them together. But really, to put the Doctor in a room with a mass murderer is really difficult, because he’s not going to let him go. And he’s not going to forgive him, he’s not going to let him loose onto other people. So if you treat it as real then you really can’t have them together for long, because either one of them would do something about it. The Master would kill the Doctor or the Doctor would stop the Master.

“But I’ve found ways around it. They have much more screen time together this time. But there’s a limit to it. You can’t have great long scenes of them having a chat together, because they are absolute opposites. And I had no idea that John Simm is such a genre fan! I didn’t realise this the first time I worked with him, but you can sit and have a half-hour conversation with him about Superman and The X-Men. He loves all that sort of stuff.”

So what kind of beats did you want to hit in this final story?

“In a way you want to hit every beat. You want to have really funny moments. In the opening scene the Doctor comes up with one of those rattling, fast Doctor speeches, where every other word is a punchline, and David delivers it at top speed. And there’s one of the cheekiest jokes in the world in there. So it’s your last chance to do that. It’s a rattlingly funny scene. He gets scenes with June Whitfield where I’d be hooting with laughter. So a lot of that’s played to the hilt. I always thought Bernard Cribbins was like discovering a great secret, because he’s so brilliant, he’s so loved by people, you think ‘Why isn’t this man on the screen all the time?’ And to put those two together… because the Doctor and Wilf actually had very little to do with each other in series four. They had some funny scenes together, but not much. So to put those two together, to have an 80 year-old man talking to a 900 year-old man, and talking about the end of their lives basically… It’s like a showreel. You want David’s funniest moments, you want his most emotional moments, and as ever you’re always looking for scenes that the Doctor hasn’t done before, to push him into new areas. There are a lot of those in this.”

And pushing David as well.

“Yes… well, he doesn’t need to be pushed, he excels in those areas, but it’s finding stuff that make him feel like it’s a different day at work. Waving the sonic about and opening doors is not going to be a different day at work. Give him a challenge. Make him take a deep breath and think, ‘Wow, big day at work today…’ And then the camera crew does the same and the director does the same and everyone says ‘This is important.’

“But you know, it’s the death episodes, they’ve got that built into them. It’s the weirdest game to play with the public: everyone knows it’s happening, everyone knows it’s on its way, no one quite knows how, no one knows how they’ll feel at the end of it… it’s brilliant, a really rare opportunity to do that. I hope we haven’t worn it thin! Sometimes you think there must be people thinking ‘Is he still there? Hasn’t he gone yet?’”

David Tennant talks Doctor Who

The last Doctor Who specials starring David Tenant as the doctor are airing in America around Christmas*. We got to sit in on what might be the last time Tenant talks about upcoming Dr. Who projects in a press conference with the Television Critics Association. Of course, he’s sure to be analyzing fanboy questions for the rest of his career.

Q: What was your experience with the fans at Comic-Con?
David Tennant: I wanted to crowd dive, but they were all sitting down. It was a bit disappointing for me. I figured that was probably the only opportunity in my life I'm going to get to do it. It was great. I mean, it was great fun. It was such an extraordinary experience.
Q: How will the remaining episodes lead up to a new doctor replacing you?
David Tennant: I think this doctor likes being this doctor. He's raging against the dying of the light and I think that's kind of the beat that we play, don't we? That's the story. He knows that the sands of time are running out. He's been told, and the bell is tolling for him, and he doesn't want to go quietly. So I think that's how we play that.
Q: Is this bittersweet for you?
David Tennant: It's so many things, actually. It's very exciting, but it's also very sad. It's thrilling to be handing over the show in such good health actually. It feels that we're all leaving together. Well, Euros might go back one day but we've all sort of come on this journey together, and it feels like we're coming to the end of something very special. So it's a whole mixture of emotions, actually, and probably until they actually transmit, I won't quite know how it feels. I don't think any of us really will because we're still sort of clinging on in there until the shows go out.
Q: So what’s next? How do you follow this up?
David Tennant: Long term, I don't really know. In the immediate future, I've just done a television version of Hamlet and I'm doing a film called St. Trinian’s 2. I don't know after that.
Q: At Comic-Con you famously kissed John Barrowman good-bye, so are we going to get anything like that?
David Tennant: Come up here… The moment was right. You know, it just felt appropriate at the time and you know you'll get a headline in The Sun back home as soon as you do that. So it was worth it for that.
Q: The doctor had pretty steady companions for a few series, and then for the specials the doctor's been solo with new companions. How's it been shooting these specials? How has that changed the dynamic on the set for you?
David Tennant: Well, it's been slightly different in each one. In the first one, we had Michelle Ryan who, for all intents and purposes, was the companion, and she's fantastic. Although she was a very distinct character, she's kind of in the mold of the traditional beautiful woman, sort of feisty. But in the next special, the closer thing we have to a companion is Lindsay Duncan, who is an older woman, which is not something the show has done before. She probably thinks she's more in charge than the doctor is. In many ways, she is, actually. So that's a different dynamic and then coming into that final two-part story. Although Catherine Tate is back and Donna is a big part of that story, really, the companion is Bernard Cribbins, the first time the doctor has had an 80-year-old man as his sidekick, really. So it's been great to get to play these different facets of the character, I suppose. And the doctor himself is also slightly on the run from himself and on the run from the inevitable. So he's trying not to get too close to anyone. So it's important that there's a kind of revolving door of confidence for him. But getting to see Bernard Cribbins as well in that final story is so brilliant and moving, and he's just such a great actor that that was a great finish to the story for me. What you get is these wonderful scenes of these two old men. The doctor is a lot older than Wilf, and yet the two of them get to sit down and discuss life in a way that we've never seen the doctor be able to do before. So it's just a way of reinventing the wheel, I suppose, with this character who has been around since 1963, and yet we are still managing to find a new aspect of him, I think.
Q: Since it is sci-fi and we have seen previous regenerations come back, would you ever come back even just for a cameo?

David Tennant: I'll wait for the correct opportunity, but I've got the costume hanging up in my wardrobe. As long as I can keep my waistline and still fit into the trousers, never say never.

Q: Why leave now when it's so big?

David Tennant: I think sometimes you have to sort of take a deep breath and make a difficult decision, and I like the fact that I stand a chance of leaving an audience and myself wanting more rather than people asking when I'm leaving. I never had a definite stepping-off point, but when Russell [T. Davies] and Julie [Gardner] were moving on, it seemed like the obvious time. It seemed like a natural end for all of us, really.

Q: When you signed on to do Doctor Who, did you know what you were going to do with the role?

David Tennant: I sort of responded to what was in the script. I tried not to sit down and work out a list of self-conscious quirks because I think it can become sort of cloyingly quirky in the wrong way. I think idiosyncrasies are better born than imposed. So I tried acting not to think not much about it until the first script arrived, and then I just responded to what Russell had written. And then working with directors like Euros, we just sort of bumbled through it, really.

Q: Who is your favorite Doctor Who as a fan growing up?

David Tennant: Tom Baker and Peter Davison were the two that I grew up with. So I think there is something about, like, a chick hatching from an egg. I think that's kind of who you imprint on it, who you see first. So I guess I'd say them, but I like them all.
Q: What is the tone of the last two specials?
David Tennant: I think Planet of the Dead that has just screened was probably the last hurrah for the tenth doctor in terms of the [being] untroubled. I mean, he was in mortal danger, but he was loving it. Really, from The Waters of Mars and heading into that final story, the sword of Damocles is dangling, I think, and that informs everything that goes on. It all pans out as well, doesn't it? Whereas The Waters of Mars, it all takes place in a very small location in Doctor Who terms. Then that final story, it becomes epic, almost like a fairytale. You have that kind of scale to it.