The Wooden King and Queen arrive at the Doctor Who ExperienceBookmark and Share

Friday, 30 December 2011 - Reported by Chuck Foster
The Doctor Who Experience have announced the arrival of the Wooden King and Wooden Queen to the exhibition, as seen in this year's Christmas Special, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe.


The two costumes will be in a special display at the exhibition, alongside the existing array of monsters including the Daleks, Cybermen, Silurians and the Silence.


The Doctor Who Experience is open in London until 22nd February 2012, and will then re-open at its new home by the BBC Studios at Cardiff Bay later in the year.





BBC Competition: Win Series 6 on Blu-RayBookmark and Share

Thursday, 29 December 2011 - Reported by Marcus
The BBC Doctor Who page on Facebook are running a competition for one lucky winner to win the Complete Series 6 Boxed Set on Blu-ray, plus a 32" HDTV and Blu-ray player to watch it on!


The competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom who are eighteen years of age or over; in order to enter simply ensure you "Like" the Doctor Who page, and then provide your name, address and other contact details via the competition entry form by 2nd January 2012.


The winner will be announced the week after closing date.




You can find the full terms and conditions for the competition here.

Please note that in order to enter this competition you must be a registered user of Facebook, and allow access to the Softwind Competitions! application.




Regional RoundupBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 28 December 2011 - Reported by Chuck Foster

United Kingdom

Last week we reported on the party thrown for terminally ill children in Downing Street; mother Jane Berman from Chigwell was there with her son Ross and said: "“Ross was absolutely thrilled to meet Doctor Who. He's a real fan. Matt Smith came running down Downing Street and ran up to Ross and said 'I've come all the way from Gallifrey to see you'" [Epping Forest News, 20 Dec 2011]

Matt Smith, who is an ambassador for organisers Starlight, said: "Thousands of children will spend this Christmas in hospital and, along with a White Christmas, this year I am wishing for some much-needed festive cheer for these kids." [Watford Observer, 20 Dec 2011]

Fan Erica Quinn from Glasgow has turned her front door into the TARDIS doors: ""I call it my double take door. People walk by and just stop and stare. People have started calling me the Doctor Who House Lady. Once I was getting a taxi on the other side of Glasgow - and I went up to the taxi rank and asked to go to the West End. One of the drivers said: 'I'll take you, because I want to go past the Doctor Who House. I was like, 'That's my house'." Erica also has life-sized figures of the 10th, 11th Doctors, Daleks and Captain Jack amongst others: "They switch around and sometimes they come out of the windows They are an excellent deterrent against having your house broken into because it looks like someone is watching." [Belfast Telegraph, 26 Dec 2011]

Daleks and K9 were on hand to entertain visitors to Robots Live at Snibston Discovery Park, Coalville. Organiser Alan Young said: "It was a great day and a lot of fun. I think it's safe to say the Daleks stole the show. We normally stage big arena events but this was a chance for people to get up close and personal with the robots and the people who built them." [Leicester Mercury, 28 Dec 2011]

BBC Radio Leicester presenter Karl Cooper is an avid Dalek collector: "They adorn windowsils and the fireplace at home. When friends are short on gift ideas, the collection seems to grow!! A life long fan of The Doctor (Jon Pertwee era is his fave), he'd love a full sized Dalek but complains he has neither the cash or space to get one. He's also not sure how the two cats would react to such an invasion!!" [BBC Radio Leicester, 28 Dec 2011]

Australia

New series Outland writer and comedian Adam Richard reveals his Doctor Who inspiration: "My scariest TV moment was when ... Noah took his hand out of his pocket and it had mutated into green bubble-wrap. (The Ark in Space). I decided a television career was for me when ... I started noticing my favourite episodes of Doctor Who seemed to be written by the same man (Robert Holmes - genius)" [Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Dec 2011]




Ratings UpdateBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 28 December 2011 - Reported by Marcus
The Tuesday repeat of the Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe had an audience of 1.1 million viewers according to unofficial overnight figures.

The show had a 9.5% share of the audience available, winning its timeslot. All Star Family Fortunes, which was scheduled against Doctor Who again, also had an average of 1.1 million watching, however Doctor Who had the higher ratings while the shows were pitted against each other.

Meanwhile more details have emerged about the Christmas Day showing. Among children aged 4-15, as well as adults aged 45-54, Doctor Who was the most watched programme on Christmas day. The only group for which Doctor Who lost out to All Star Family Fortunes was viewers aged 65+.

Doctor Who was the only programme on Christmas Day post-3pm which had an exact 50/50 male/female split.




Christmas Appreciation Index ScoreBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 27 December 2011 - Reported by Marcus
Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe achieved an Appreciation Index, or AI, score of 84.

The Appreciation Index or AI is a measure of how much the audience enjoyed the programme. The score, out of a hundred, is compiled by a specially selected panel of around 5,000 people who go online and rate and comment on programmes. This year's score is slightly up on last year's Christmas Special.

The score was the highest on BBC One for the evening, with most programmes scoring around the 82 mark. The prize for the most appreciated programme of Christmas evening was taken by ITV1 with Downton Abbey, scoring a massive 92.




Australian ratings for The Doctor, the Widow and The WardrobeBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 27 December 2011 - Reported by Adam Kirk
The Doctor, the Widow and The Wardrobe has debuted in Australia to solid ratings. TV Tonight reports that Doctor Who averaged 749,000 viewers in the five major capital cities. It came second in its time-slot, was the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's top-rating drama of the day and the thirteenth highest rating programme of the day overall.

Meanwhile ABC2 will repeat the entire run of the new series, Mondays-Fridays at 7.30pm, starting with Rose on Monday 2 January 2012.




The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe: Media ReviewsBookmark and Share

Monday, 26 December 2011 - Reported by Chuck Foster
After the positive previews of the story, Boxing Day introduces us to the media aftermath of The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe - below are some of the thoughts of reviewers of the festive adventure (click on the their names for the full reviews).

You can read our own review of the episode here.

Please note that reviews contain plot points that may be considered spoilers for those who have yet to see the episode.













Guardian

Welcome back, merry Christmas, and straight into the reason you're probably welling up right now. Putting aside the now-mandatory doomed spaceship that now must surely always feature, this was the smallest – yet perhaps the most enchanting – Christmas special we've had to date. A story where the threat is not to the universe but to the happiness of one family, and the only real enemy are some misguided and underdeveloped polluters. Any other time of year I would gnaw holes all over this, but it's Christmas, and today it felt perfect.



Oh good, our own planet is involved, and the past. I feel more comfortable there and then. There's also a door into a different world, a snowy winter wonderland where magic sparkling baubles hang from the pine trees. Yes, there's more than a nod to Narnia, but without all the God-bothering, as far as I can see. The message, if there is one, is an eco one.

It's warmhearted and twinkly, and Matt Smith is ever so slightly annoying. But the kids like him, that's what counts.


Independent

Every year the Christmas special comes back with something vastly different to the previous year and usually it proves to be on par if not stronger than the one before. The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe had the perfect recipe for a Christmas special. It had a simple story that could be easily understood without too much concentration and as specials go, it avoided being sickly sweet. By the end audiences were likely to be left with a warm glow created by the mixture of comedy, tragedy and general festive cheer that never became overly sentimental.


Telegraph

This was packed full of festive magic, with ingenious use of Christmas trees, angels, stars, baubles, even woolly winter cardigans. The only problem? It was too busy being cute and clever to create a sufficiently memorable monster. The wooden Pagan king and queen weren’t quite hide-behind-the-sofa scary, more the sort of thing you’d see down the garden centre.

Still, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe succeeded in being the kind of broad fairytale fun that unites the generations. "A brilliant idea for a Christmas trip," as the Doctor himself said.


Mirror

THIS year’s was not a classic Doctor Who, but a good one and a perfect piece of Christmas English whimsy.

"Crying when you’re happy!" the Doctor puzzled. "That’s so human!" - this is Doctor Who at its best, tapping into/manipulating our emotions.


Metro

Whether we were born before the war, or decades after it, we all feel like we know what it's like to have survived on rations and be evacuated to the countryside - romantic dramatisation of the war is part of our national common experience, even if actual wartime isn't.

Moffat captured this perfectly as he took us back to war-torn Britain, where we met eponymous widow Madge and her children Lily and Cyril, whose escape from Blitzkrieged London to rural Dorset paved the way for a suitably Christmassy tale.

By virtue of there being so many of them, Doctor Who Christmas specials have some stiff competition when it comes to deciding which is the most gripping festive Timelord adventure of them all. However, fans of the series will probably agree that The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe is up there with the best of them.


Radio Times

When I heard Marge Arwell (Claire Skinner) saying, "This Christmas is going to be the best Christmas ever," I got a sinking sensation. Not just because by nature I’m a bit of a Scrooge, but because I’ve had enough of being promised "the most Christmassy Doctor Who ever". As if that were a good thing and something I’d want once in every 14 episodes. Bah!

Well, I should have had more faith in Steven Moffat, Matt Smith and co, who have pulled a cracker, and almost - almost, I say - given this Ebenezer a Christmassy glow. How can anyone resist The Doctor, the Witch and the Wardrobe?


Scottish Daily Record

Unashamedly emotional, but always just cynical enough to keep it away from stale stilton, The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe is the riskiest story Moffat has created – he referenced Star Wars, the Battle of Britain and Narnia in the first five minutes! But the Doctor once again delivered. This episode didn’t just have a great ending, it had two weepy finales – even the Doctor was teary. And Matt Smith continues to make it seem like he has played the part for 49 years. Doctor one, Downton nil.


SFX

Newcomer director Farren Blackburn brings style to spare, conjuring a 1940s rich in period atmosphere and dripping with People's Friend nostalgia, all home-knits, rainy lanes and hazy streetlamps. He also has a fine eye for the evocative visual: whether it be a Lancaster Bomber soaring into the time vortex or Halo-style armoured warriors walking the snows of a Narniaesque forest, this is, ultimately, an episode that trades in the kind of brilliant, reality-mashing juxtapositions that feel uniquely and unmistakably Doctor Who.


Den of Geek

The Doctor Who Christmas special, as both Moffat and Russell T Davies have noted over the years, is a slightly different beast. Accepting that a large bulk of people watch it after a bloated day, and not short of either sugar-laden or alcoholic beverages, its tone tends to be just a little lighter. Moffat works that very much in his favour, but doesn’t shy away from the darkness in the background. Madge’s choice is never far away.

It was a treat to have a gentle, well told, standalone story, that proved you don’t have to veer away from an emotive and adventurous story, just because it’s Christmas time. A lovely piece of television, and a smashing way to spend a Christmas night in front of the telly. Pass the turkey sandwiches...


Assignment X (United States)

There’s a solid pro-nature element that fits very well with the best of socially and ecologically conscious Doctor Who (Green Death, anyone?), but ultimately this story’s strongest theme is the celebration of the power in a mother’s love. While some have already found problems with the notion, I think it’s important to remember that every individual character in every story does not have to represent every other member of their gender. In this one instance, it’s a lovely, inspirational message for this very family-oriented time of year, and it doesn’t detract at all from any other strengths that female characters might and should exhibit.



io9 (United States)

You know the story's a bit underwhelming when the characters have to keep commenting noisily about how cool it really is. Every few minutes, Matt Smith puts all his formidable gusto into announcing that Madge Arwell is flying a forest through the time vortex with her mind, and that this is really really cool. Really. Even though to all appearances, we've just spent the last half hour listening to characters stand around discussing plot devices inside a harvester set and a tree-castle set.

Luckily, because this is a Moffat episode, even the slow middle part is crammed with quotable, memorable dialogue that would be in your .sig file if anybody still had .sig files.

Of course, the task of a Doctor Who Christmas special is generally to be entertaining fluff, without much in the way of darkness or complicated plots to overtax the brandy-soaked gray matter. And "Wardrobe" moves fast enough, and is inventive enough, that you can sort of slide past some of the muddled bits and enjoy Matt Smith doing what he does best. And it's nice that, coming so soon after the tribute to Craig's fatherhood, we get an extended tribute to motherhood.



Digital Journal

This year there was plenty of action, some good scenes and witty dialogue. There is less 'toing and froing' back and forth in time as the story is played out in a more linear fashion than recent episodes of the last TV series. Possibly a bit too much Spielbergian sentimentality, but hey it's Christmas. The comic elements were provided by Bill Bailey and Arabella Weir.

Personally, although I've enjoyed the Christmas Doctor Who episodes I've also been slightly disappointed with them compared with the regular series (many Doctor Who fans are often a little disappointed with the festive fare). I think it is because the something is sacrificed in aiming for the general viewer, who will tune in whilst munching a minced pie, whereas the series can develop a more intricate story and cater for the ardent fan.






Christmas Overnight Viewing FiguresBookmark and Share

Monday, 26 December 2011 - Reported by Marcus
8.9 million watched the Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe according to unofficial overnight figures.

Doctor Who was the third most watched programme of the day, with the two soaps taking the top two spots with EastEnders winning the day with 9.9 million and Coronation Street just beating Doctor Who with 9.0 million watching.

Downton Abbey took the fourth spot with 8.1 million watching.

Against Doctor Who, All Star Family Fortunes managed 6.1 million viewers.

Doctor Who had one of the the highest audience shares for the day with 34.2% of the available audience.

BBC One took six of the top ten places with ITV1 taking four, a contrast to the previous few years which have seen BBC One dominate the top ten chart for Christmas Day. All viewing figures are considerably down on recent years.

Doctor Who is the fourth most watched programme of the week on overnight figures.

It is important to note that the overnight figures are an initial estimate. Final figures, including those who record the programme and watch it within a week, will be published by BARB in around 8 days time.
 




The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe: Media PreviewsBookmark and Share

Sunday, 25 December 2011 - Reported by Chuck Foster
With just a few hours to go before the real reason Christmas television exists, here's a brief roundup of what the papers say ...

Guardian

Moffat becomes quite unashamedly romantic at this time of year. It gives little away to say that this second world war-set, Narnia-inspired tale is one of the smallest stories we've seen on Doctor Who in recent years. But it also delivers the most effective emotional suckerpunches.

After the events of The Wedding of River Song, The Doctor is, in the eyes of the universe, dead; to kill time before the next storyline arc, he's larking around on doomed spacecraft and doing favours for random evacuated families. When wartime yummy mummy Madge Arwell helps him out of one of such scrapes, he goes to exceptional lengths to return the favour, and inevitably the whole thing ends up going calamitously wrong. Supported by a pair of unusually tolerable child actors, Claire Skinner carries the episode with a soulful performance, while Bill Bailey and Arabella Weir clock on to balance things out with the laughs.

Admittedly it lacks, for instance, a gigantic Cyberman stomping across Victorian London, and the story feels ludicrous even by festive Who standards. But only the stoniest-hearted viewer will finish watching this without finding something in their eye.



From the depths of a silent forest beckons a wintry tale of wartime pluck. Steven Moffat's latest festive panto is a typically lavish affair, with the Doctor and a resilient 1940s widow (Claire Skinner) embroiled in an ingenious take on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Spielbergian sentimentality (dead pilots, preternaturally sensible youngsters) gets a bit Sensodyne Extra at times, but there are proper chills (time portals, talking trees, pulsing bauble things) and larks (Bill Bailey) and, as with all the best Christms specials, the sense that all is well with the world.


Telegraph

"Whopremo" Steven Moffat's suitably seasonal take on The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. It’s a witty, wintry wartime adventure with added spaceships and Lancaster bombers. As cockle-warming as mulled wine, merrily magical and a real family treat.


Belfast Telegraph

Last year, EastEnders knocked Dr Who into second place, with viewing figures peaking at 11.7m, but Sky Bet spokeswoman Helen Jacob said the science fiction family favourite might well be the dark horse to sneak through with most viewers on Christmas Day this year.

The show fronted by livewire and 11th Time Lord, Matt Smith, appeals to all age groups. Quirky comedian Bill Bailey is just one of the stars drafted in to ensure Dr Who fans enjoy this Sunday’s one-hour episode and its exploration of a magical wintry world.


Los Angeles Times

In Great Britain, this event amounts to a national tradition; but for followers here, it is no less of a calendar moment, a candle in winter coming months after the end of the last season and months before the beginning of the next, when the days are actually at their darkest.

Like Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Moffat's "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" — something of a giveaway, again — is set during World War II and concerns children evacuated to a country house, where a "dimensional portal thingy" leads to a wooded world all covered in snow. (And Lewis' description of heaven as a place that grows larger the further in you go has always reminded me of the Tardis, the Doctor's bigger-on-the-inside time machine.)

In the spirit of the season, its signal images are of trees and lights, and by Moffat's usual time-twisting standards, it's a relatively straightforward narrative, a sci-fi fairy tale catalyzed by a wish and watered with the old magic of human tears. Moffat is all about the old magic.


Scotsman

Matt Smith excels as usual, but he’s ably supported by Claire Skinner from Outnumbered as a mother who’ll stop at nothing to protect her kids – the episode is fundamentally a touching paean to parenthood – and Bill Bailey and Arabella Weir as comically ineffectual “antagonists”. It also pits the sonic screwdriver against its ultimate foe, finds the Doctor gaining a nifty new soubriquet, and tosses in the obligatory throwaway reference for old-school fans to go “Ooh!” at. It’s not just the spirit of the season making me giddy – this is truly beautiful television.





Watch out tomorrow for a roundup of what the papers have to say about the festive adventure post-broadcast, and you can also read our own review of the episode later tonight.





Matt Smith chats on The Graham Norton ShowBookmark and Share

Saturday, 24 December 2011 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Matt Smith appeared on The Graham Norton Show tonight, during which he chatted about his Christmas plans, his brushes with fandom, and of course about a certain show he's become associated with that airs on Christmas Day!


When asked about the recent announcment regarding Karen Gillan's departure from the show, he said:
I've known a while, actually, because we've known for a couple of months. It's by mutual consent - I think really those stories just come to a point where it reaches its conclusion, and the very essence of the show is that it constantly re-invents itself.

(on whether he'd go at the same time) I'm very happy to stay, I love it, I love making the show, but I'll miss Karen because she's a good mate, one of my best mates. She's a cracker - mad as a box of cats - but she's a firecracker, she really is.


Talking about fandom, both he and fellow guest Gillian Anderson discussed attending Comic-Cons, with Matt mentioning how he met up with all the other 'Doctors', and when he and co-star Karen Gillan met 'themselves':

Matt Smith and Gillian Anderson discuss Comic-Con, BBC, via the YouTube (may not play outside United Kingdom)

The full show can be watched in the UK via the BBC iPlayer until the 30th December.



Karen Gillan will be a guest on The Graham Norton Show on the 6th January 2012.