Sunday, 31 March 2013

2013 Hugo Nominations

Hugo AwardsThe nominations for the 2013 Hugo Awards have now been announced, with writer Steven Moffat up against himself some three times in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category (in which he lost out last year to fellow writer Neil Gaiman for The Doctor's Wife).

The episodes nominated are Asylum of the Daleks (directed by Nick Hurran), The Angels Take Manhattan (also Nick Hurran), and The Snowmen (Saul Metzstein). The other nominations in the category are Letters of Transit from Fringe, and Blackwater from Game of Thrones.

Doctor Who has won an Award nigh on every year since its return: as well as Gaiman's triumph last year Moffat has won four times previously, for The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances in 2006, The Girl in the Fireplace in 2007, Blink in 2008, and The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang in 2011, whilst original showrunner/writer Russell T Davies won in 2010 with fellow writer Phil Ford for The Waters of Mars. 2009 was the odd one out, where Moffat's Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead and Davies's Turn Left lost out to Internet musical Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.


Also nominated this year is the book Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who, published by Mad Norwegian Press, which is listed in the Best Related Work category. It'll be up against another Mad Norwegian title, Chick Dig Comics, The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, I Have an Idea for a Book ... The Bibliography of Martin H. Greenberg, and Writing Excuses Season Seven.


The Hugo awards are given every year for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the preceeding year, and is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.

This year's ceremony will take place during LoneStarCon 3 in San Antonio, Texas (29 Aug-2 Sep 2013), with writer Paul Cornell acting as Toastmaster.

Summer Falls

BBC Books are to release a new ebook to tie in with the new series episode The Bells of Saint John, which premiered this weekend.

Clara: "What chapter you on?"
Artie: "Ten"
Clara: "Eleven’s the best. You’ll cry your eyes out... The good kind of crying..."

Summer Falls (Credit: BBC Books) Doctor Who: Summer Falls
By Amelia Williams

"When summer falls, the Lord of Winter will arise..."

In the seaside village of Watchcombe, young Kate is determined to make the most of her last week of summer holiday. But when she discovers a mysterious painting entitled ‘The Lord of Winter’ in a charity shop, it leads her on an adventure she never could have planned. Kate soon realises the old seacape, painted long ago by an eccentric local artist, is actually a puzzle. And with the help of some bizarre new acquaintances – including a museum curator's magical cat, a miserable neighbour, and a lonely boy – she plans on solving it.

And then, one morning Kate wakes up to a world changed forever. For the Lord of Winter is coming – and Kate has a very important decision to make.

Summer Falls, a book written by Amelia Williams, is featured at the beginning of The Bells of Saint John It is being read by Artie, one of the children taken care of by Clara (as played by Jenna-Louise Coleman).

The ebook is published on 4th April 2013.

The Bells of Saint John - 6.2 million Overnight Viewing Figure

The Bells of Saint John had an overnight audience of 6.18 million viewers, a share of 29.8% of the total TV audience.

Doctor Who was the third most-watched programme of the day, which saw old rivals Ant and Dec take the top slot with their Saturday Night Takeaway, getting 7.19 million watching. The Voice UK, which was up against Ant and Dec, came second with fractionally more viewers than Doctor Who with 6.24 million.

Doctor Who won the time slot with You've Been Framed! on ITV getting 3.6 million watching.

Overall Doctor Who currently stands at the 22nd most watched programme of the week. Final ratings will be released next week, which, if recent trends are followed, should see Doctor Who substantially increase its rating once those who timeshift the programme are factored in.

The Bells of Saint John: Media Reaction

A roundup of selected quotes from the media for the premiere of The Bells of Saint John last night - links to the full review can be found via the author's name. You can also read our own review here.

Please note that as these are reviews, spoilers may be present within the text!

The Guardian

Moffat's writing is always hurtingly cutting-edge. This one was as if he'd sat in a dark pub for a while with Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker and analysed the Woefulness of Modern Stuff, yet somehow (as he ever is) been given a spoonful of kind honey on his way out. Oh, there were sillinesses. The other baddies were called Spoonheads because the backs of their heads look like … well, you have a guess. The great team of baddies was hiding out somewhere in London, which had been shot with many looming shots of the Shard, in somewhere which was obviously going to be high and rich with self-aggrandising uglyhood. But the complexity, the willingness to trust young brains, the actorly chemistry, and the team of writers coming up – Neil Gaiman, Mark Gatiss, the brilliant Neil Cross – prove that, eight years after it was reborn, it's a fine year to celebrate Doctor Who, possibly with a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster but certainly with a nod to brilliant young children who grow up while still not forgetting what brilliant young children want.

(Euan Ferguson)

The Guardian

The Bells of Saint John is an episode defined by such little disappointments. Maybe it's because the scheduling this series has cranked things up to the point where everything is expected to be a showstopper. The Bells of Saint John makes a hearty meal of its iconic London locations – and some of them, like the sequence on the doomed aircraft, are fantastic. But after the tour de force that was The Snowmen, it feels as though this handsome episode constantly just misses the mark.

(Dan Martin)

Radio Times

The Bells of Saint John shows Steven Moffat at his confident, playful best – a hugely entertaining episode that revels in its modern London setting. He’s turned wi-fi and the worldwide web into targets of fear – tapping into contemporary anxieties and following in the Doctor Who tradition of mining menace from the mundane (shop-window dummies, gas masks, statues, our own body fat...).

The fast-paced action and quieter interludes are nicely judged by Colm McCarthy, directing his first Who. Murray Gold’s score is palpitating but unobtrusive. Moffat’s flights of fantasy (a diving airplane, the swivelling Spoonheads, the Doctor zooming up the Shard) are spotlessly realised by The Mill. In Cardiff they must be reeling at the news that the special effects house is closing down.

But most important is the chemistry between Jenna-Louise Coleman and Matt Smith. They look good together, they spark off each other, and let’s not forget this isn’t the first episode they filmed. Coleman is a natural: warm, sympathetic, gutsy, and surely destined to become one of the most popular companions. And Smith remains a joy to watch – note-perfect, nailing every scene, every moment.

(Patrick Mulkern)

The Independent

The Bells of Saint John felt unfulfilling as a standalone episode but perhaps I’m wrong to judge it so harshly. Perhaps this is only the beginning of the Doctor’s battle with the Great Intelligence yet as a self-contained episode I ended up feeling empty and cheated. In terms of functionality the story had to reintroduce Clara to the Doctor and create a bond between the pair anew which the audience has already witnessed twice before, so by the third time it felt rather tedious. For those keeping a death count, it appeared that souffl√© girl briefly popped her clogs again this week when she was being uploaded.

Yet it wasn’t all doom and gloom, visually it was a great spectacle on a cinematic scale. The shots of London were a sight to behold as were the scenes inside the Shard between the Doctor and Miss Kizlet (Celia Imrie). It was just superb to see the Capital’s skyline in the background with the gherkin et al. on the horizon.

Overall the episode did not live up to the hype and left me feeling quite dismayed. I’m hoping that this is just a blip and that the rest of the series will be better. In fact I’m really looking forward to Hide, the ghost story episode set in a scary house starring Dougray Scott, because the one thing that Moffat does flawlessly is horror. The Weeping Angels, the clockwork droids in The Girl in the Fireplace and the people in gas masks asking ‘Are you my mummy?’ all came from the mind of Moffat. There is also a new villain ‘on par’ with the Weeping Angels that will be making its debut this year which has me intrigued.

(Neela Debnath)

The Independent

The story was curiously unambitious: a sinister plot to upload human souls via the internet to a virtual cloud. At one point, Matt Smith squared up to a humanoid with a satellite dish where the back of its head should have been, took a deep breath and said: "It's a walking Wi-Fi base station, hoovering up people!" Here and there, citizens were shown logging on and dropping off on trains, in bedrooms, sitting rooms like ... well, like the glass-eyed fictional viewers in the BBC's own recent promotional campaign promoting the virtues of watching its iPlayer device on the hoof.

Perhaps Steven Moffat and his team should focus their creative talents on the show itself. The pairing of an intellectually bright but emotionally dim male with a techno-illiterate but wised up female is a tired old trope of much drama and comedy, not just Doctor Who. It has been pointed out that there are no female writers of the show. There have also been rumours that Smith's days at the controls of the Tardis are numbered. Cue a female Doctor? About time.

(Mike Higgins)

The Telegraph

Viewers in search of thrills will certainly have relished The Bells of Saint John. Set in modern-day London, the plot concerned internet users who, if they clicked on the wrong wi-fi provider, found their souls being uploaded and their minds being harvested by a malevolent force. It was a witty, cautionary tale for anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by the internet. This was Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror for kids, a terrifying tale of information overload but without the grown-up, Dystopian despair.

Big-budget effects, a rapid pace, a sense of fun – there was much in The Bells of Saint John to enthral a 21st-century child. Yet, looking back over the 50 years of Doctor Who that led up to last night’s return, it’s hard to imagine children thrilling in quite the same way to some of the “vintage” episodes. Budgetary constraints aside, they would probably be left bemused by the theatrical configuration of scenes, the slow, even turgid plotting and the proliferation of technical dialogue.

(Ben Lawrence)

The Mirror

While The Bells of Saint John certainly had its moments, as a whole it didn't reach the heights of previous episodes. Arguably the two biggest set pieces of the episode (concerning a crashing plane and the Doctor driving up the side of the Shard on a motorbike) were impressive enough – you could even say Hollywood impressive. The only problem is that isn't much of compliment.

Yes, they were big and bold and doubtless expensive, but they felt shoe-horned in. Showy and a bit spectacle for spectacle's sake. Let's face it – Doctor Who has never been about Hollywood special effects, big bangs and crashing planes. From its humble beginnings to the present day, Who is at its most charming when it is at its most creaky, when its creativity is fully on show.

Who is the TV equivalent of comfort food. Apple crumble, onion gravy... a nice hunk of tangy, crumbling cheddar. The Bells of Saint John was more like nouvelle cuisine – flashy, expensive, but ultimately you needed a few more nibbles. Maybe some heartiness as well as a bit more heart would do the trick.

(Jon Cooper)

SFX

Surprisingly few Who stories locate their chills in the very place the audience interfaces with the programme but Moffat’s determined to mine the shiver-potential of mundane suburbia, tripping all its traditional mouse-traps for the imagination: the unexplained sounds from upstairs, the stranger at the door, the faceless figure beneath the streetlights. But there’s also a topical charge to this tale of something distinctly maggoty at the heart of our Apple-worshipping world. You can detect a definite touch of Black Mirror here, and while Moffat may not share Charlie Brooker’s culture-punching anger there are still some swift, stinging jabs at modern life, delicious pops at everything from surveillance cams to social networks to the ethics of the fast food industry (the show has rarely delivered as skewering a line as “The abbatoir [sic] is not a contradiction – no one loves cattle more than Burger King.” Now that’s taking names…).

(Nick Setchfield)

Digital Spy

The slick, striking opening to Doctor Who's 2013 debut 'The Bells of Saint John' immediately brings two things to mind - one, how far this show has come visually since its first big comeback in 2005. 'Bells' is expertly helmed by Who newbie Colm McCarthy, who's utilised time spent on location in London to impressive effect. It's all very well dressing up a street in Cardiff, but when you see those London landmarks, you just know where you are.

Packed full of action, intrigue and even a sort-of romance, 'The Bells of Saint John' sweeps the viewer along on a thrilling ride - 42 minutes has never shot by so quickly - and also provides plenty of juicy hints at what's to come in future weeks.

(Morgan Jeffery)

Los Angeles Times

I am perhaps not the most exacting critic of "Doctor Who." I watch it with a fan's desire to love everything and a willingness to blink when something I don't rears its head, or heads. I don't ask too many questions, even when they occur to me.

I might, for instance, wonder why the Doctor, when last seen, was sulkily holed up on top of a cloud in Victorian London, spurning all human requests for help. He had forever lost companions Amy and Rory Williams (collectively, the Ponds) at the end of the previous episode, it is true, but that is nothing new for him, being a thousand years old.

The answer, of course, is it gives the character somewhere to come back from, makes things feel more crucial — just as taking the Ponds to the edge of divorce (suddenly, if you didn't watch the Web mini-sodes that "explained" this, and pretty suddenly even if you did) made their love all the more palpable in the end. It also added poignancy to the Doctor's awakening interest in Clara, to whom he offered a key to his time machine before she was pulled from a cloud by a governess made of alien snowflakes and, for the time being, died.

(Robert Lloyd)

Other reports:

Further reading: The Express, The Examiner, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Anglotopia, EntertainmentWise, Den of Geek, Daily Mail

Saturday, 30 March 2013

David Tennant And John Hurt to star in 50th Anniversary

The BBC have now confirmed that the Tenth Doctor David Tennant will star in the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who.

The news leaked earlier today thanks to a mistake in the distribution of Doctor Who Magazine, which saw subscribers receive their issues 5 days early, forcing the BBC to issue a hurried press release. Tennant will join current stars Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman in the special episode.

Also joining the cast will be the Ninth and Tenth Doctor's companion Billie Piper.

Tennant played The Doctor from 2005-2010, appearing in 47 episodes of the series, while Piper played Rose Tyler for the 2005 and 2006 seasons, along with cameos in later episodes.

DWM also reports that international film star John Hurt will join the cast for the special episode, which begins filming next week.

John Hurt is one of the UK's most respected actors appearing in films such as The Elephant Man, where he played John Merrick, Nineteen Eighty-Four where he played Winston Smith and Scandal where he played Stephen Ward. On Television he is best known for playing Caligula in the renowned I, Claudius and Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant. His distinctive voice has been used in many productions such as Watership Down and the animated The Lord of the Rings.

He has received two Academy Award nominations, a Golden Globe Award, and four BAFTA Awards.

It is expected that the special episode will be transmitted on Saturday 23rd November, 50 years to the day since the launch of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who Spoilers

Major news about the casting for the 50th Anniversary special has been leaked, thanks to a mistake in the distribution of Doctor Who Magazine.

The official magazine is due to be published next Thursday, but many subscribers have received their copy today complete with news on the casting of the anniversary episode, due to be shown on the programme's 50th Anniversary next November.

Doctor Who Magazine and the BBC have asked us not to publish details of the casting until the news is officially released next week.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Doctor Who wins Institutional Peabody Award

The winners of the 72nd Annual Peabody Awards were announced this week, with Doctor Who winning an Institutional Peabody. The presiding committee said:
Peabody AwardsSeemingly immortal, 50-years-old and still running, this engaging, imaginative sci-fi/fantasy series is awarded an Institutional Peabody for evolving with technology and the times like nothing else in the known television universe.
 

The George Foster Peabody Awards were first presented in 1941, and is administered by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. Nominations are considered by a panel of academics, critics, industry practitioners and experts within culture and the arts, who look to award "excellence on its own terms". As its aim is to reflect excellence in quality rather than popularity or commercial success, the Peabody is considered by many to be the industry’s most competitive honour.

Olivier Award Nominations

The nominations for the 2013 Olivier Awards have been announced, and include a few names related to Doctor Who, with Billie Piper nominated as Best Actress for her role as Connie in The Effect, Adrian Scarborough (who previously won in 2011) nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Hedda Gabler, Imelda Staunton nominated as Best Actress in a Musical for Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, and Helen McCrory nominated as Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Last of the Haussmans.

The Awards Ceremony takes place at the Royal Opera House on 28th April, and will be hosted by Sheridan Smith and Hugh Bonneville.

Big Finish: Easter offer

This weekend sees Big Finish celebrate the return of Doctor Who with a special offer on a number of their recent releases.
They're back! This weekend as a special Easter treat, we're rolling back the prices of the Doctor Who special releases to their pre-order states!
  • Doctor Who: Love and War - an audio adaptation of the classic New Adventures novel, featuring the Seventh Doctor and Ace's first encounter with Bernice Summerfield.
  • Doctor Who: Dark Eyes - an epic adventure across many worlds and times with an Eighth Doctor wounded from recent losses, a fearless new companion and the ever-present threat of the Daleks.
  • Doctor Who - UNIT: Dominion - The Seventh Doctor and Raine trip across dimensions while another incarnation of the Doctor teams up with UNIT to fight extra-dimensional incursions. But what's really going on?
  • Doctor Who: Voyage to Venus/Voyage to the New World: The Sixth Doctor takes his old friends Jago & Litefoot sight-seeing around the cosmos, leading to an ill-fated landing which leads neatly into the new Jago & Litefoot fifth series box set.
Available since the end of last year, the Special Releases are some of our most acclaimed audios.
The offer runs until Tuesday.


There is still time to enter our Scorchies competition - see here for more details (closing date 31st March).

The Sarah Jane Adventures arrives on LOVEFiLM

The Amazon-based LOVEFiLM streaming service will be making episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures available to watch, as a new deal has been struck with BBC Worldwide. The package will include shows like The Story of Tracy Beaker, Balamory and Teletubbies.

Chris Bird, Director of Film Strategy at LOVEFiLM, said:
We are committed to bringing the very best in children's TV to our ever-increasing audience, and are thrilled to have secured even more brilliant BBC shows for members to enjoy. We have got some of the best family programming around and look forward to entertaining fans of all ages.

Lisa Rousseau, BBC Worldwide's Head of UK, Ireland and Pan European Television Sales, added:
More parents are turning to LOVEFiLM's kids' TV offering as a form of quality family entertainment than ever before and we are excited that this new agreement will see our award-winning children's shows available to subscribers. This is a natural partnership for us and follows on from our previous content deals.

Media Roundup

A roundup of recent media "clippings" for Doctor Who in the run-up to the series return tomorrow.

Matt Smith (The Doctor)

On his new co-star: "You’ll see on screen she’s absolutely brilliant and it’s been a joy. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done and I think it’s exciting for the character, he’s got a new lease of life somehow. Jenna’s inventive, she works tirelessly hard. I like her, which is good because you’ve got to get on. And I’m really proud of what she’s achieved and I’m pleased that it’s gone so well for her because I think she’s brilliant in it." [Yorkshire Evening Post, 27 Mar 2013]

On how they get along: "Really well. We’re good friends, actually, which is nice. It would be really rubbish if we weren’t! I guess you guys are the critics of this, but I think she has started really well. She’s immediately likeable and popular, which is a stroke of fortune. It was always going to be difficult coming in after Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill [who played Amy and Rory] because they became really loved and admired. I think she’s made it her own and she’s been inventive and brave. It’s not an easy show to waltz into. It moves at such a pace. And there’s such a fervent following and people have such clear opinions on it." [TV Choice, 30 Mar 2013]

On riding a bike around London: "It was very exciting. I am innately very clumsy, and my mother has always forbidden me from getting a motorbike. I’ve driven mopeds before, abroad and stuff, without her knowing – well, now she knows. But that’s like a big old Harley looking bike, and I wouldn’t know where to begin… It was amazing filming those scenes. It was on a rig, and we got to sort of travel round London. Car rigs are different because you’re in a car, but being on a bike it’s like you’re on a sort of fairground ride. It was a really crisp, sunny day and we kept going around Waterloo Bridge and Westminster Bridge and Waterloo Bridge and Westminster Bridge and it was just one of those days where you think ‘This is a very privileged place to be for a day at work." [SFX, 25 Mar 2013]

On the 50th Anniversary script: It sort of does what it says on the tin. You won't be disappointed. It's my cryptic way of going ... no, the thing is, much as we'd love to tell you everything, I read it and I clapped at the end. I think it's hilarious and I think it's epic and I think it's vast. I'm telling you nothing more. But you will not be disappointed. I think it's going to be the biggest, the best, the most inventive, the most exciting year for the show. And I think this script, it delivers on all those points that you want it to for where the show is at this time. It's brilliant. It somehow manages to pay homage to everything and look forward. And I think that's the mark, the genius of it." [This is Local London, 25 Mar 2013]

Matt also spoke to BBC News about the 'vast and epic' series. [BBC News (video), 18 Mar 2013]

Jenna-Louise Coleman (Clara)

On the re-appearance of Clara: "You'll see an essence in the same way there was an essence of Oswin in Christmas Clara, there was a similar essence running through them, a similar spirit. We'll see that again with this Clara." RedEye Chicago, 27 Mar 2013]

Her take on The Bells of Saint John: "I saw it at the London screening that we did last week. It just looks brilliant because it’s such a ... from shooting the show there’s so much that happens afterwards from the CGI and the music and to make the episodes kind of as epic as they are so it’s gonna be great for me to sit there as a viewer and watch them as well. I was able to just enjoy all of the pieces of like the jigsaw coming together, and also you just realize how clever Steven Moffat is and the setup of the story that we have going through, arcing through the series, of the mystery of Clara Oswald and the Doctor trying to figure out who she is. It’s set up so brilliantly from everything that we’ve done so far through Steven. So, it’s exciting." [Access Hollywood, 26 Mar 2013]

On how the relationship between the Doctor and Clara develops: "I'm sure audiences will be looking out for it, and they have an advantage, over the two characters even, because they have experienced the Christmas special, but this series is a whole new beginning again. That sounds like such an unsatisfying answer, but one of the things that is explored in this series is that there is nothing the Doctor dislikes more than something he can't solve, something he can't explain, and that's exactly what Clara is. He can't figure her out. They are drawn together, and really like each other, but there's always this underlying feeling of them both trying to figure each other out. It's not plain sailing between them both." [New Zealand Herald, 28 Mar 2013]

On how her family keeps her grounded: "My brother is a joiner, like my dad, and they came to the Doctor Who set to see me at work. He’d never been much impressed by my acting stuff before but he watched filming and said: 'You’ve got the coolest job in the world – fighting the Cybermen.' I think he’s right." [Metro, 28 Mar 2013]

On her gran's plans for Matt Smith during filming for the 50th Anniversary: "I think she's gonna come on set when we're filming the 50th, which she's very excited about. She's gonna be patting Matt a lot. Matt's her favourite Doctor." [Access Hollywood via STV, 27 Mar 2013]

Steven Moffat (lead writer)

On the role of the companion: "We never see how the Doctor began his journey. We'll probably never see how he ends it. We'll probably never know why he embarked on it, but we know all those companions, who they were before they met the Doctor, why they ran away with him, and where they ended up. Those stories are complete. The Doctor is the enigma that enters their lives and changes them. The story is always about the person who changes the most." [Examiner, 27 Mar 2013]

On Jenna-Louise Coleman: "Well, she’s terrific! The most obvious answer is that she’s a terribly good actress. I know that’s a dull thing to say, but it’s the truth. You can be as beautiful and charming as you’d like, but if you’re not terrific at acting, it will mean nothing on the screen. She’s a terrific actress. She looks great. She has great comic timing. She looks like she belongs, somehow, next to Matt Smith. When the two stand together, they look like an instant team. They have enough in common, and yet have enough sharp contrasts, that it’s an instant poster when you stand them together." [Collider, 27 Mar 2013]


Other Media Items


Entertainment Weekly Issue #1252 Entertainment Weekly Issue #1252
Entertainment Weekly has been published with two different covers as it celebrates the return of Doctor Who this weekend. The magazine's cover story looks at how the show will celebrate its 50th Anniversary, and includes a touching tribute to the Time Lord from director Peter Jackson, who still has his eye on the Doctor: "They don’t even have to pay me! But I have got my eye on one of those nice new gold-colored Daleks. They must have a spare one (hint, hint)." [Entertainment Weekly, 21 Mar 2013]

Two associated videos have also been released, with the first featuring Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman discussing fans, whilst the second features Matt, Jenna and costume designer Howard Burden discussing the Doctor's new look. Burden commented: "When I first came into the series [on Asylum of the Daleks], we had an established look for the Doctor. As subsequent episodes came in, I was told that we could actually change the look. It was quite an intense process to actually make sure everyone was happy." [Entertainment Weekly, 22 Mar 2013]

Amongst its pages was a comment from Steven Moffat in which he said that statistically he was nearer the end than the beginning of his time on the show: "I just take it a year at a time. I think the feeling of it being done for you is quite unambiguous when it suddenly arrives.".

One name that cropped up as a potential replacement for Moffat earlier this month was that of Being Human showrunner Toby Whithouse: "I have heard the rumours. I've been hearing them for years now. In terms of my future on Doctor Who, this kind of speculation only takes place in the heads of the fans. No-one from the BBC has said anything to me. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued by the idea, but also it would be terrifying. It's definitely something I'd be really tempted by but I'm genuinely not in any hurry to do it." [SFX via Metro, 11 Mar 2013]

The Sun reported that they believed Matt Smith would be leaving the show at Christmas, with their 'sources' suggesting the BBC already had someone in mind to replace him. However, the BBC have stated: "Sorry folks but even we don’t know what's going to happen at Christmas. It's not been written yet! But Matt loves the show and is to start filming the unmissable 50th anniversary, and the new series starting on Easter Saturday." [The Sun, 22 Mar 2013]

The report came after Matt's appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show, where he said: "Doctor Who is one of of those jobs that you have to take year by year, it's ten months a year, it's all-consuming, so I don’t think you can plan five or six years ahead, or even two years ahead. It's a year by year thing, and at the moment it’s 2013 and we’ll see what 2014 holds."

The BBC statement didn't stop the Sun from polling readers for who they'd like to see next as the Doctor, with their results citing Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch as the favourite; the runners up were previous Doctor David Tennant, and comedy actor James Corden (who played Craig in the series). [The Sun, 24 Mar 2013]

Other Magazine Covers

Some other covers prominently featuring the series return:

The Big Issue 1044 (Credit: The Big Issue) TV & Satellite Week, 22-29 Mar 2013 (Credit: TV & Satellite Week) SFX Issue 233 (clean cover), published March 2013 (Credit: SFX) Radio Times (30 Mar - 5 Apr 2013) (Credit: Radio Times)

People Roundup

Talking about fandom in the US, Matt Smith said: "We didn’t realise how big it was until we filmed in New York, but the fans have been so supportive. The British are a lot more reserved, and the North Americans have a lot more enthusiasm. I love it when people dress up as the Doctor. I like all that — that is the spirit of the place and there is a freedom to be enthusiastic there, which is hugely enjoyable. That is what’s great about working in science fiction shows." [New York Daily News, 23 Mar 2013]

And his thoughts on now being immortalised on a new stamp from the Royal Mail? "It’s a great privilege that the nation will be licking the backs of our heads. It’s an amazing thing – I’m really proud to be part of it. It’s cool. it’s something that I can show my grandkids." [SFX, 25 Mar 2013]

He also has an eye on being in the Bond franchise: "I'm not handsome enough to be James Bond. Maybe a villain though. Start campaigning now. I'd edge on the camp dangerous side I think. Javier Bardem was amazing. I thought Skyfall was a sumptuous film." Jenna-Louise Coleman also commented: "I’d love to be a Bond girl — I did have my moment on the back of a motorbike. But then we’ve got the goggles and the hat, so it was Doctor Who’s take on James Bond." [The Sun 19 Mar 2013, 22 Mar 2013]

Outside of Who, Jenna-Louise chats about what she'd like to tackle, drame-wise: "What I would really like to do is an adaptation. I like period drama because everyone is so restrained, but they have all these emotions raging underneath." [Evening Standard, 22 Feb 2013]

David Tennant has said that he isn't a fan of social media: "Twitter! It’s like being stalked by committee! Come and say hello if you want, but not for the sake of twittering about it." [Time Out via Radio Times, 27 Feb 2013]

Jenna-Louise similarly talks about avoiding the online community: "I don't really get online very much, I try to stay away. It's just ... that feeling of accessibility, you know? I like to go about my business and go to work and not have too much of a consciousness of what I'm doing. I just don't think it's for me, really. It's just not my cup of tea." [Mashable, 27 Mar 2013]

On the other hand, Billie Piper has embraced it, having arrived on Twitter as @BilliePiper - including a photo to prove it!

Peter Davison talks about watching Doctor Who with his children: "I do watch the new series, yes, because my children watch it and I love watching it. I've got to that age now. Douglas Adams who was a script editor on Doctor Who once said to me: "the trick about Doctor Who is making it simple enough for the adults to understand and complicated enough to hold the children’s attention". And I think I'm now getting to that point where I think I've moved into the older bracket, obviously I have, but in brain as well because I do find myself turning to my children saying: "what’s going on? What? Can you explain that?" They go: "oh, dad, what’s happened is this..." So, I'm now in that bracket which has to be simple for dad to understand." [Independent, 3 Mar 2013]

Colin Baker is to appear at Sci-fi By The Sea, a convention to be held at Herne Bay Football Club on the 16th June 16. Organiser Gerald McCarthy said: "People are very excited to have a proper Doctor Who coming down. Sometimes these announcements have a knock on effect for other guests, who ask who else is coming down before they attend. We already have two tardis’, seven or eight Daleks and some Cybermen coming along, so Colin tops it off for us on that front." [Kent Online, 14 Mar 2013]

On tour promoting their latest book, The Bone Quill, John and Carole Barrowman discuss their future plans for Hollow Earth: "We worked out some key plot things and some new things we hadn’t originally planned.. When we first planned [the series], we had three major evolutionary things we wanted to happen, [one] in each book, based on Matt’s and Em’s ability. We fleshed out the little details as we went along. One of the things we’ve had a lot of fun in doing, particularly with the first book, is seeding a lot of things that we hope to pull out as we go along. We planted little Easter eggs, or symbols, to discover. The twins live on Raphael Terrace. There are all sorts of allusions to art in ways that kids may not pick up until they get a little older. Matt and Em’s last name is Calder, not only a Scottish last name but also a famous artist’s last name. The idea of duality is in there. We’ve actually had a lot of fun playing the puzzle makers for all of that." [Popmatters, 29 Mar 2013]

The book was launched at St Katherine's School, Ham Green, which was chosen as the venue through librarian Lucy Edwards’ working relationship with Waterstone's. The siblings had an audience of 300 year eight pupils were there for their visit along with students from various reading groups. [Weston Mercury, 13 Mar 2013]

Writer Neil Cross explains what makes a good monster: "There's two kinds of good monsters. The monster to whom your existence means nothing. That's something like the Daleks. It's something so alien that it's inhumane in every sense. Then there's the monsters that look like us, but there's something wrong, like Hannibal Lecter. The attributes that we think are best in ourselves - love, conscience, compassion - are all stripped away. They're the people who kill puppies." [The Wellingtonian, 8 Mar 2013]

Writer Mark Ravenhill explained about potentially writing for Doctor Who: "I did once go and see Russell T Davies and he said he thought I was far too adult for Doctor Who. But he was creating Torchwood and so he said to go away and come up with some ideas. I had very few clues what it was about, so it was like throwing darts at a dartboard in the dark. That was the closest I ever came. Although I love Doctor Who - maybe I'm not the right person to write it." [BBC News, 24 Feb 2013]

When asked whether the perceived imbalance between male and female writers on Doctor Who would be addressed, producer Marcus Wilson said: "Due to schedules and other projects, both male and female writers whom we have wanted to join the team simply haven't been able to. For us it's about who can write good Doctor Who stories, regardless of gender." [Guardian, 27 Mar 2013]

Paul McCartney has revealed how he had asked Delia Derbyshire to remake Yesterday, though it never went any further: "We went round to visit her, we even went into the hut at the bottom of her garden. It was full of tape machines and funny instruments. My plan in meeting her was to do an electronic backing for my song Yesterday. We'd already recorded it with a string quartet, but I wanted to give the arrangement electronic backing. The Radiophonic Workshop, I loved all that, it fascinated me, and still does." [Q Magazine via Guardian, 22 Mar 2013]

Murray Gold recently appeared at the Scoring Drama Masterclass at London’s BFI, where he discussed strategies for composing drama music, including reading the script: "You need to love drama to score drama and show that you love it. First time I get a script, I read it. Which some composers don’t do. But reading the script helps you work out where ‘the kick’ is. This job is also a lot more interesting when you’re writing for a show you actually like." [M Magazine, 21 Mar 2013]

Being a former footballer, Matt Smith continues to take a keen interest, and shared his thoughts on recent developments at Blackburn Rovers: "It's an absolute farce, a joke, it's being run by complete numpties. Great players, great team, great club and those berks have ruined it. They talk about getting rid of Allardyce because of the long ball - what the hell was that against Millwall? It was a woeful performance against Millwall. It's the first time I've been embarrassed at the way the team played." [BBC News, 16 Mar 2013]

Now firmly established on ITV, David Tennant commented on how the Broadchurch story unfolded where the actors didn't know how it would develop: "When you're playing those initial interviews with characters and you genuinely don't know what the truth is, you can't load those scenes with 'actorly' tricks. You have to play it for what it is, which can only make it more real. You can be as exasperated about the mystery of the characters as the audience will be. It's great to be part of something where all the characters have powerful stories to tell. There's the whodunit aspect but there are other stories going on and such wonderful people portraying those parts." [Belfast Telegraph, 22 Feb 2013]

Co-star Arthur Darvill explained how he became involved with Broadchurch: "Chris Chibnall came up to me while I was filming one of his episodes in Cardiff and said, "I've written you a part in a new TV series, will you do it?" I thought, "I can't say no to that, that's amazing!". We chatted about it, we discussed where the character would go, and I just found what he was trying to do really interesting, so I jumped at the chance. That's the first time somebody's ever written anything for me; it was very humbling. It's quite an honour," he added." [Belfast Telegraph, 1 Mar 2013]

Karen Gillan is to join American comedy series NTSF:SD:SUV for its third series, appearing as Daisy, described as the team's "Q" expert. The series is due to be broadcast in from July. [Radio Times, 22 Mar 2013]

David Warner and Lisa Bowerman can be seen in The Wizard, a short film written by Simon Guerrier for Hat Trick and Bad Teeth's Short and Funnies short comedy film competition.

BFI Brings In Ticket Ballot For Anniversary Screenings

Overwhelming demand for events in the BFI's Doctor Who At 50 celebratory season has led to a rethink on ticket allocation.

As part of the season, the organisation is showing one story per Doctor per month with an accompanying guest panel, and all events so far have sold out to members - who get priority booking - immediately after being made available to them, which has led to huge numbers of fans who are not members missing out and being left disappointed.

As a result, the BFI is introducing a ticket ballot system for May's screening onwards. The Caves of Androzani, which marked the end of the Fifth Doctor's era, is being shown on Saturday 4th May at 2pm, and seats are being restricted to two per buyer, with a ballot also being run to try to ensure the fairest possible allocation.
 
BFI Champions can apply from Monday 1st April and BFI Members from Tuesday 2nd April. They will be able to apply via e-mail up to 8.30pm on Friday 5th April saying how many seats they would like, but will only be allowed a maximum of two. These will then be allocated by ballot, and not on a first-come first-served basis.

Ticket applicants can ask for specific seat numbers in their e-mail and the BFI says it will do its best to meet those requests. If applicants are happy to sit elsewhere in the auditorium if their choice is unavailable they should state this in their application and the BFI will try to seat them as near as possible to where they wanted to be. If people only want their specified seats or are happy to be seated anywhere in the auditorium they are similarly asked to state this in their application.

Any tickets that are left over following the ballot plus about 25 set aside for the public will then go on release to non-members on Tuesday 9th April when, again, purchasers will be restricted to two seats each.

As in the past, returns and stand-bys are also always a possibility once an event has sold out, so keep checking back with the BFI.

Mill TV to close

The Mill is nominated for a BAFTA for Asylum of the DaleksThe Mill has announced that its UK Visual Effects office is expected to close at the end of April due to a downturn in VFX requirements within the industry.

The Television and Film studio has been responsible for providing visual effects for Doctor Who since its return in 2005, and this week was nominated for a BAFTA 2013 Craft Award for its work on Asylum of the Daleks - the company has been nomimated every year since 2007 and won it 2009 for The Fires of Pompeii.


Announcing on Twitter yesterday the company said:
Mill TV has not been immune to the volatile trends present in film and television production. Therefore, yesterday we reluctantly announced a proposal to close Mill TV and are now in consultation with our employees about this proposal. Naturally, this is very disappointing: we have enjoyed a nine years of creating great work that everyone in The Mill is hugely proud of.

The Mill's CEO Robin Shenfield explained in a statement:
Mill TV has suffered a number of setbacks such as failing to join the roster on Starz/BBC production of DaVinci’s Demons and the cancellation of Sky’s Sinbad sequel. Going forward, broadcasters are commissioning less high-end VFX driven drama series this year, with Merlin discontinued and the BBC not commissioning a Doctor Who series this year.

I’m not feeling negative about film and TV VFX in the U.K. I think the work will return in both film and TV. We are just at a point of hiatus. While TV VFX has been less volatile than film - last year the U.S. studios spent far less than they did in 2011 - TV also seems to have caught the bug, and there have been less of those high-end commissions and repeat series.

We have reluctantly decided that this is a business we do not want to play in any more, although I am immensely proud of what we have achieved and we hope we will be able to redeploy a number of those people elsewhere in the group and are looking very hard at that.

As well as Doctor Who and Torchwood, the company has provided effects on a variety of projects, with television shows including Sea of Souls, Merlin, Sherlock, Primeval, Demons, Woolly Mammoth: Secrets from the Ice and the BBC's Where Next? promotion, advertising campaigns such as for Kia, Barclays, Blackberry and Tesco, and for films like 28 Weeks Later, The Damned United and Les Misérables.


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Silva Screen: The Krotons

The second in the range of classic Doctor Who soundtracks has been announced by Silva Screen Records, this time focussing on the Second Doctor with the electronic soundscape created by Brian Hodgson for The Krotons.

The Krotons (soundtrack) (Credit: Silva Screen)Originally transmitted in 4 episodes on BBC1 between 28th December 1968 and 18th January 1969, The Krotons starred Patrick Troughton as the second Doctor. The soundtrack (or "special sounds") were created by Brian Hodgson and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who said:
For this story I mainly used the “Crystal Palace”, so called because its case was made of clear Perspex which exposed its workings. This machine, created by our engineer Dave Young, could mechanically sample 16 inputs and combine them into a single output in 4 prearranged patterns. The progression of the patterns was deliberately slow to create textures of sound. I was very much interested in exploring changing aural textures in tracks such as “The Learning Hall” and “Kroton Theme”.

Generating and manipulating music and sound effects defines sound design, a process that is common on TV and film productions nowadays. However The BBC Radiophonic Workshop was way ahead of the game in the 1960s. Brian Hodgson was a member of the Workshop working closely with the seminal figure of Delia Derbyshire. As the original sound effects creator for Doctor Who he was responsible for the chilling Dalek voices and the powerhouse sound of the Tardis lifting off (created by running a back door key for his mother's house along the bass string of a gutted piano and treating it electronically). His highly innovative techniques are fully on display on this collection of 'special sounds' that provided the background to Doctor Who - The Krotons.
 
  1. Doctor Who (New Opening Theme, 1967)
  2. The Learning Hall
  3. Door Opens
  4. Entry Into The Machine
  5. TARDIS (New Landing)
  6. Wasteland Atmosphere
  7. Machine And City Theme
  8. Machine Exterior
  9. Panels Open
  10. Dispersal Unit
  11. Sting
  12. Selris' House
  13. Machine Interior
  14. Snake Bleeps Low
  15. Silver Hose (The Snake)
  16. Snake Bleeps High
  17. Teaching Machine Hums
  18. Forcefield
  19. Burning Light
  20. Birth Of A Kroton
  21. Kroton Theme
  22. Kroton Dies
  23. Link – Rising Hum
  24. Kroton Dies – (Alternative)

The soundtrack is due to be released on the 13th May 2013 on CD and download, and will also be released as a limited edition 10" Vinyl disc on the 24th May.

Competition

Thanks to Silva Screen we have three copies of the CD for our readers to win. To be in with a chance, simply answer this question:

Brian Hodgson is one of the original participants in the creation of Doctor Who back in 1963, and will be featured in the forthcoming Mark Gatiss drama An Adventure in Space and Time - but which actor will portray him?

Please send your answer to krotons-competition@doctorwhonews.net with the subject line "Winner-Gond!", along with your name, address, and where you read about this competition. The competition is open worldwide, and the closing date will be on the 30th April 2013. Only one entry per household will be accepted.


There is still time to enter our The Caves of Androzani soundtrack competition - see here for more details (closing date 31st March).

Ford And Hines To Guest On Norton Radio Show

Classic-era companion actors Carole Anne Ford and Frazer Hines will be joining Graham Norton on his BBC Radio 2 show on Saturday 6th April.

They will be talking about the Destiny of the Doctor CDs, and radio show producer Malcolm Prince told Doctor Who News that the actors will be the first of many Doctor Who-related guests on Norton's radio programme this year to mark Doctor Who's 50th anniversary.

Destiny of the Doctor is a year-long series of new audio dramas from BBC AudioGo being produced by Big Finish as part of the anniversary celebrations. Each Doctor will have his own story in the run-up to the anniversary itself in November.

In the AudioGo dramas, Hines, who played Jamie McCrimmon alongside the Second Doctor, stars in Shadow of Death, which was released last month, while Ford, who portrayed the Doctor's granddaughter Susan, is in Hunters of Earth, released in January.

Questions to the duo can be submitted via graham.norton@bbc.co.uk

The show runs from 10am to 1pm and they are scheduled to be on air at 11.30am, but please note that running orders are subject to change.

It should be available to listen to worldwide via the BBC iPlayer. A clip of the interview will be posted on the radio show's site afterwards, along with the weekly podcast.

Doctor Who Adventures Is Relaunched

The weekly magazine Doctor Who Adventures is relaunched today with a new logo, fresh design, and new features.

It includes a new comic strip called Alien Babies, monster makes, a collectable Whoniverse guide, and behind-the-scenes secrets. In addition, the DWA website will now carry extra videos, downloads, and more content.

To celebrate, the publication is inviting youngsters to its Monster Day Out at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff on Wednesday 3rd April. Billed as the first children-only Doctor Who event there, it promises a day packed with monster fun, with visitors able to meet the Sontaran Strax and find out during special question-and-answer sessions how he feels about being called a potato head.

Three Q&A sessions will be taking place - from 11.30am to 12.30pm, 1.30pm to 2.30pm, and 3.30pm to 4.30pm - with tickets limited to 100 per session. Parents/guardians need to register for it, and every child attending must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Also during the Monster Day Out, youngsters will be able to learn cartoon skills at DWA's comic artists' workshop, find out how to walk like a monster with the show's choreographer Ailsa Berk, and create their own scary monster eggs at the "Eggsterminate" station. In addition, they will each be given a DWA goody bag.

DWA editor Natalie Barnes said:
We're really excited to be relaunching Doctor Who Adventures magazine with a dynamic new look and fantastic new content. This is a brilliant year for the show, and it's great to be a part of it. Our Monster Day Out is the perfect way for us to give something back to our readers, and for them to come face to face with one of the Doctor's most fearsome - and shortest - allies, Commander Strax!
Tickets to the the Monster Day Out are free with a valid Doctor Who Experience ticket for that day. More information, including how to buy Experience tickets and how to register for a Strax Q&A session, can be found here.

Issue 313 of DWA - the first new-look edition - has three free gifts: a design-your-own-bow-tie kit, an exclusive Topps card, and a huge sticker sheet.

As well as being available in print form, the publication, which is ranked number one in the primary boys' market, can also be downloaded as an app for the iPhone and iPad from App Stores in the UK, USA, and Australia.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Bells of Saint John: New Clips / Interview Roundup

A number of clips from the BBC and BBC America have been released to promote Saturday's The Bells of Saint John, joining those that have already been released earlier this week:


Interviews

ITV's entertainment correspondent Richard Arnold spoke to Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman on this morning's Daybreak, chatting about the return of the series, the character relationships, and what might happen in the 50th Anniversary:
Jenna-Louise Coleman speaking to Richard Arnold, Daybreak 27 Mar 2013 (Credit: ITV)
Matt Smith speaking to Richard Arnold, Daybreak 27 Mar 2013 (Credit: ITV)
Jenna-Louse spoke about the relationship between the two: "Clara has kind of been billed as the impossible woman to the Doctor because she's this unsolved mystery that he doesn't understand, and a woman twice dead. There's kind of a lot going on between the two of them, he's trying to figure her out, she doesn't quite know him, so there's a lot going on." Matt responded to the description of the TARDIS as "the snog box": "(It) gives him a fright and irritates him hugely I think because the idea of snogging in it is just redundant." And on romance: Perhaps, you'll have to wait and see - god knows how he'd react to romance, the Doctor - or my Doctor, anyway!"

When asked about the Doctor's greatest secret, which Steven Moffat promises to reveal in the series finale, Jenna-Louise only said: "It's huge finale episode, it's a great build up into the 50th. It's a homage to the last 50 years, it's pretty epic."

Speaking about the 50th Anniversary special, Matt said: "It's a thrill and a privilege, and I think it's going to be the biggest and best year and the most momentous occasion - we hope - in the show's history. I've read the script and it balances looking back and forward in a glorious way. I've become a fan of the show, in the same way as when you watch it there's that, and there's that, and there's this and there's that." However, Matt wouldn't be drawn on the appearance of past Doctors though!
 
The interviews can be watched in the UK via the ITV Player until the 3rd April (last segment of the show).


Matt Smith was interviewed at London's Apple Store about the series return; this is available to listen to for free via iTunes. Jenna-Louise Coleman made an appearance on the Craig Ferguson show on the 18th March (search YouTube), and has recorded three segments with Access Hollywood on getting ready for the 50th Anniversary. flirting and kissing with the Doctor, and working with Matt Smith. An interview with Steven Moffat was conducted by Ed Stradling for the Gallifrey One convention in February, in which he talks(ish) about the eight episodes coming up, the 50th Anniversary and An Adventure in Space and Time.

Doctor Who Revisited: The Third Doctor

BBC America will broadcast the next in their Doctor Who Revisited series on the 31st March, covering the Third Doctor's era.

BBC AMERICA celebrates the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, in a new special of Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited. Lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, executive producer Caroline Skinner, Tenth Doctor David Tennant, Season Six guest star Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), among others, discuss how the third Doctor brought action and stunts to the series.

It is followed by the classic storyline Spearhead from Space. In the story, a swarm of meteorites fall on the sleepy English countryside, bringing with them a terrible new threat to mankind: the Nestene consciousness - a disembodied alien intelligence with an affinity for plastic. The Doctor is forced to race against time, in order to stop humanity from being replaced by a generation of terrifying plastic replicas.




Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited – The Third Doctor premieres Sunday, March 31, 8:00pm ET/PT.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Bells of Saint John Prequel via Red Button

The BBC have made the The Bells of Saint John "prequel" available on television via their Red Button service.

The times scheduled are as follow:

Saturday5:15pm-8:30pm
Tuesday7:00pm-Midnight
WednesdayMidnight-7:00am
Wednesday7:30pm-Midnight
ThursdayMidnight-7:00am
Thursday7:30pm-Midnight
FridayMidnight-7:00am
Friday7:30pm-Midnight
SaturdayMidnight-7:00am

The service is available on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media.

The Bells of Saint John: new clip

The BBC have released a new clip from the forthcoming The Bells of Saint John, featuring The Doctor within the new TARDIS console room (first introduced in The Snowmen).

The Bells of Saint John on New Zealand television

The Bells of Saint John will make its New Zealand television debut on Thursday, 11 April at 8:30pm, on Prime.

Prime made the announcement on Twitter and Facebook today, saying:
We are pleased to finally announce that we will begin the new season of Doctor Who on Prime on Thursday 11 April at 8.30pm!!
Prime is promoting the story as follows:
This is it, the 50th anniversary year! Join the Doctor in all new episodes as he sets out to solve the mystery of new companion Clara. Expect explosions, aliens and running, lots of running!
The episode will be screened 12 days after its UK debut. This is the same delay that New Zealand viewers experienced with last year's series of five episodes. Prime has only once screened a Doctor Who episode sooner than this: The Snowmen was broadcast on 26 December 2012, less than one day after the UK.

An Unearthly Series: The Origins of a TV Legend

A Meeting of Great Minds
The eighth in our series of features looking at events leading to the creation of a true TV legend.

The story so far: Sydney Newman, the new Head of Television Drama at the BBC has asked the Script Department to come up with ideas for a new science-fiction series that would not not only bridge the gap on Saturday evenings between Grandstand and the pop music show Juke Box Jury but also appeal to both audiences.

It was on 26th March 1963 - exactly 50 years ago today - that four people convened in an office in Television Centre to lay down the ground rules for the series that would develop, eight months later, into Doctor Who.

Donald Wilson chaired the meeting in his role as Head of the Script Department, and it took as its starting point the reports on science-fiction compiled the previous year by the Survey Group, whose authors, John Braybon and Alice Frick, were present. They were joined by a fourth member of the script department, Cecil Edwin Webber.

Better known by the nickname "Bunny", Cecil Webber was an established playwright with credits on the stage and screen. His published stage plays had included Be Good, Sweet Maid in 1957 and Out of the Frying Pan in 1960, while for television he had written the 1961 action-adventure serial Hurricane and in 1962 the children's comedy William, which starred Dennis Waterman in one of his earliest roles and was adapted from some of the Just William books by Richmal Crompton.

The meeting set out to lay down some ground rules for the series, with discussions ranging from the practical to the esoteric and with concepts such as the nature of energy and the persistence of human thought being debated. Many ideas were put forward, with all agreeing that around seven or eight ideas would be needed to make enough stories to fill a 52-week series.

Some discussion was held over the type of craft to be used in the series. As detailed in a subsequent report by Frick, Wilson thought that if a time machine was used it should be able to travel not only backwards and forwards in time but also into all kinds of matter such as a drop of oil or under the sea. Meanwhile, Frick thought it might be more modern to feature a flying saucer carrying the regular cast of characters from story to story. Wilson was anxious to avoid the use of a computer as this was the main plot device in the BBC's Andromeda TV series of 1961 and 1962. Braybon wanted the series set in the future and suggested it featured a set of scientific trouble-shooters. It was also thought that the series should feature telepathy as a good plot device.

Wilson was keen that the series should feature a regular cast of characters. He felt this was important to build audience loyalty and said that two young teenagers should be included in the team, given the time slot the series would be aimed at. Frick felt that children of school age were more interested in characters older than themselves and suggested someone in their early-20s, something with which Webber and Braybon agreed.

The meeting ended with Frick tasked with making a report and Webber commissioned to write up a list of viable characters for the series, based on the discussion, and an outline set-up.

The concept Webber came up with and documented in a memo just three days later was for a series set around "The Troubleshooters", a group of three scientists who tackle problems that no-one else could handle. The drama would have three main characters to lead viewers through a series of stories each running for around 7 weeks. Although the series finally produced would be very different in style and concept to this first draft, the genesis of the character of The Doctor can clearly be seen in the outline for the Troubleshooters and in particular in the character of the third lead.

Memo from C.E. Webber to Donald Wilson. 29th March 1963

Concept notesConcept notes
Characters and Setup

Envisaged is a "loyalty programme", lasting at least 52 weeks, consisting of various dramatised S.F. stories, linked to form a continuous serial, using basically a few characters who continue through all the stories. Thus if each story were to run six or seven episodes there would be about eight stories needed to form fifty-two weeks of the overall serial.

Our basic setup with its loyalty characters must fulfil two conditions:-
  1. It must attract and hold the audience.
  2. It must be adaptable to any S.F. story, so that we do not have to reject stories because they fail to fit into our setup.
Suitable characters for the five o'clock Saturday audience.

Child characters do not command the interest of children older than themselves. Young heroines do not command the interest of boys. Young heroes do command the interest of girls. Therefore, the highest coverage amongst children and teenagers is got by:-

THE HANDSOME YOUNG MAN HERO (First character)
A young heroine does not command the full interest of older women; our young hero has already got the boys and girls; therefore we can consider the older woman by providing:-

THE HANDSOME WELLDRESSED HEROINE AGED ABOUT 30 (Second character)
Men are believed to form an important part of the 5 o'clock Saturday (post-Grandstand) audience. They will be interested in the young hero; and to catch them firmly we should add:-

THE MATURER MAN, 35 - 40, WITH SOME "CHARACTER" TWIST. (Third character)
Nowadays, to satisfy grown women, father-figures are introduced into loyalty programmes at such a rate that TV begins to look like an Old People's Home: let us introduce them ad hoc, as our stories call for them. We shall have no child protoganists [sic], but child characters may be introduced ad hoc, because story requires it, not to interest children.

What are our three chosen characters?

The essence of S.F. is that the wonder or fairytale element shall be given a scientific or technical explanation. To do this there must be at least one character capable of giving the explanation, and I think that however we set up our serial, we must come around to at least one scientist as a basic character. I am now suggesting that all three be Scientists, though handsome and attractively normal people. Such vague cliches as Government Project, Secret Research, Industrial Atomics, Privately Financed Laboratory in Scotland, do not necessarily involve our group in every kind of S.F. story presented to us. Therefore I suggest that they are, all three,

THE PARTNERS IN A FIRM OF SCIENTIFIC CONSULTANTS.
They are a kind of firm which does not exist at present, being an extension of today's industrial consultant into the scientific era. We are in a time which is not specified but which is felt to be just a bit ahead of the present; but the wonder is introduced into today's environment. The firm carry on normal lines of research in their own small laboratory, or in larger ones elsewhere if the job requires it; this is their bread and butter; but they are always willing to break off to follow some more unusual case. In fact, they have a reputation for tackling problems which no-one else could handle; there is almost a feeling of Sherlock Holmes about this side of their work. Our stories are the more unusual cases which come their way. This setup gives us fluidity for an everlasting serial. One, or two, of them can persue [sic] a story, leaving at least one behind to start on the next case when we need to transfer to another story. They are:-

"THE TROUBLESHOOTERS"
Each of them is a specialist in certain fields, so that each can bring a different approach to any problem. But they are all acutely conscious of the social and human implications of any case, and if the two men sometimes become pure scientist and forget, the woman always reminds them that, finally, they are dealing with human beings. Their Headquarters or Base illustrates this dichotomy: it consists of two parts: 1. a small lab fitted with way-out equipment, including some wondrous things acquired in previous investigations and 2. an office for interviews, homely, fusty, comfortable, dustily elegant: it would not have been out of place in Holmes's Baker Street.

Villains.
It would be possible to devise a permanent villain for the above "Troubleshooters" setup. Our heroes find themselves always coming up against him in various cases: the venal politician who seeks to use every situation to increase his own power; or the industrialist always opposing our heroes. Possibly some continuing villain may create himself as we go, but I suggest that we create ad hoc villains for each story, as needed. It is the Western setup in this respect: constant heroes, and a fresh villain each time.

Overall Meaning of the Serial.
We shall have no trouble in finding stories. The postulates of S.F., from which its plots derive, can be broadly classified, even enumerated; and we all have additions or startling variations up our sleeves. But I think we might well consider if there is any necessary difference between the dramatic and the literary form, as regards S.F.
  • a. S.F. deliberately avoids character-in-depth. In S.F. the characters are almost interchangable. We must use fully conceived characters.
  • b. S.F. is deliberately unsexual; women are not really necessary to it. We must add feminine interest as a consequence of creating real characters.
  • c. Because of the above conditions, S.F. does not consider moral conflict. It has one clear overall meaning: that human beings in general are incapable of controlling the forces they set free. But once we have created real characters, we must consider the implications in terms of those characters in their society. Drama is about moral conflicts: it is about social relationships. Experienced S.F. writers may disagree with me. Well, let them create their own live S.F. drama. But for me, it seems a fine opprtunity to write fastmoving, shocking episodes, which necessarily consider, or at least firmly raise, such questions as: What sort of people do we want? What sort of conditions do we desire? What is life? What are we? Can society exist without love, without art, without lies, without sex? Can it afford to continue to exist with politicians? With scientists? And so on.
The final section mirrored the 1962 reports, which had emphasised that TV science-fiction ought to lean more towards being character-based than had been the case in literature, that it would need the addition of "feminine interest", and that philosophical or moral questions needed to be at least firmly raised if not considered.

The day after the meeting - on 27th March 1963 - a memo was sent by John Mair, the senior planning assistant responsible for allocating TV studio time, to Joanna Spicer, the Assistant Controller (Planning) Television, asking her for details about the planned new series.

Webber's memo was attached to Frick's report (as mentioned above), the latter of which read in full as follows:

    The following devices were discussed:
    1. Time Machine: Donald Wilson suggested if this were used, it should be a machine not only for going forward and backwards in time, but into space, and into all kinds of matter (e.g. a drop of oil, a molecule, under the ocean, etc.)
    2. Flying Saucer: Alice Frick thought this might be a more modern vehicle than a time machine, much discussed at present, and with a considerable body of literature concerning it. It would have the advantage of conveying a group of people (i.e. the regular cast of characters).
    3. Computer: Donald Wilson thought this should be avoided, since it was the Andromeda device.
    4. Telepathy: This is an okay notion in modern science, and a good device for dealing with outer-space inhabitants who have appropriated human bodies (e.g. Three To Conquer by Eric Frank Russell).
    5. John Braybon suggested that the series should be set in the future, and that a good device would be a world body of scientific trouble-shooters, established to keep scientific experiments under control for political or humanistic reasons.

    Ideas:
    A good many possible (and probably some impracticable!) ideas for themes and content were discussed, among them some published works - Guardians of Time by Poul Anderson and Three To Conquer by Russell.
    Some recent scientific discoveries or developments whose uses are still not known nor explored were mentioned, e.g. the Laser Beam. We all thought that the use of seven or eight such "new" ideas, one for each short serial, could make a 52-week series.
    Bunny Webber brought forward the idea of the continuance of thought; the idea that great scientists of the past might continue in some form of existence and could be contacted to discover further advances they had made, ideas they might bring to current discoveries, thought, etc.
    Donald Wilson introduced a discussion of human creativity, the presence in the world of the human capacity to initiate original thought, to create new concepts, ideas, etc, the immeasurable and inexplicable work and productivity of genius. This led on to a discussion of energy, the difference between scientific energy, which can be measured, and human energy, which cannot.

    Format:
    Donald Wilson said that the series must be based on a group of regular characters, some of whom would be employed in major roles in one limited serial, others in the next, according to the needs of the different stories. He felt this was essential to establishing a loyalty audience. He suggested that, for the time-slot, two young teenagers should be included. Alice Frick advanced the opinion that children of that age were more interested in characters who are older than themselves, in the early twenties. Braybon and Webber supported this idea. Young children could be introduced occasionally, but should not be among the regulars.
    The major problems in format are, how to involve a part of a permanent group in widely differing adventures, and how to transport them believably to entirely disparate milieux.
The following month would see Newman responding to Webber's memo and Frick's report, pushing the team more towards how he envisaged the series, and his annotations to the memo can be clearly seen.

Next EpisodeJourney into the Unknown
Compiled by:
Marcus and John Bowman
SOURCES: BBC Archive - The Genesis of Doctor Who; The Handbook (Howe, Walker, Stammers; 2005)