DWCA coming to Supanova Melbourne

The DWCA is excited to announce that we are exhibiting at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming, being held at Melbourne Showgrounds from 21-22 April – this weekend!

The club is a regular attendee of the Sydney show but this will be our first time in Melbourne, lured by the headline guests Peter Capaldi, John Barrowman and Pearl Mackie. You will find us in the Doctor Who Fan Zone in Fan Club Central, part of The Alley in the Grand Pavilion building.

The club will have on display some recent issues of our magazine, Data Extract, which is provided to all DWCA members four times per year as part of their membership. Featuring articles, interviews, reviews, short stories and more, the magazine accepts submissions from all Australian Doctor Who fans!

Back issues of Data Extract will be available at the table at a discounted rate of $5 each. Sign up as a member at the table and receive the issue of your choice for free!

New or renewing members will also be eligible to receive the 2018 issue of the club’s yearbook, Zerinza. Coming soon to the inboxes all DWCA members, this free e-book features a whole host of content – including never-before-printed interviews with Doctor Who luminaries such as Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), composer Dudley Simpson and more!

So come by and say hello this weekend at Stall #258 in the Doctor Who Fan Zone, circled on the map below. We can’t wait to see you!

DWCA Book Club June – The Day of the Doctor

BBC Books is bringing back the classic Target-style Doctor Who novelisations for a select number of New Who stories, and the DWCA Book Club is celebrating by reading the most ambitious of them all: The Day of the Doctor.

Novelised by Steven Moffat himself, the book enables readers to relive the magic of the 50th anniversary special in a style that has been beloved by Doctor Who fans for generations. It is one of four New Series stories to receive the Target treatment, the others being Rose by Russell T Davies, The Christmas Invasion by Jenny T Colgan and Twice Upon a Time by Paul Cornell.

The Day of the Doctor will be released in Australia in eBook form on 5 April and as a paperbook on 16 April, and will be discussed at the DWCA Book Club meeting on Friday 1 June. You can also comment on our Facebook page if you can’t make the event.

SEND US YOUR REVIEWS AND WIN A PRIZE!

Do you consider yourself something of an armchair critic? Send us a written review of the current Book Club text, and your words just may end up published in our club fanzine, Data Extract. What’s more, you will go into the running to win a $5 voucher to spend at the DWCA Shop!

Reviews should be sent to Dom Kelly at fsq@doctorwhoaustralia.org.

DWCA 2018 Survey now open

The DWCA has announced the release of our 2018 survey, providing members with the opportunity to have their say on how the club can better serve them.

The survey is open to both DWCA members and non-members and takes 15 minutes to complete. Respondents go into the running to win a year’s free DWCA membership, and you’ll also be helping to create a better club for both present and future members.

The survey will be open online until 30 June and can be completed here. We’d love to hear from you.

DATA EXTRA: The Whovian World of Adam Richard

For the Autumn 2018 issue of Data Extract, the DWCA’s official magazine, we were lucky enough to interview actor, comedian and Whovians panellist Adam Richard – an interview that was so extensive, we couldn’t fit it all in the magazine!

The good news is, we’re making the “cut scenes” of the interview available right here on this very website! The remainder of the interview can be found in Issue #238 of the magazine, currently available exclusively to all DWCA members.

Image credit: Norman Keshan.

You co-wrote the comedy series Outland with John Richards. What inspired you to create the show?

It was back in 2003 that we started writing it. I’d been on the telly a couple of times and was doing a bit of radio work, and John kind of called up and said, “We should do something, now that people are paying attention to you.” We came up with all these stupid ideas, and then one day I said, “What about a gay science-fiction club?”, and he’s gone, “Oh that’s good.” So we created a whole bunch of characters. Originally there were about thirteen characters, but you know, it’s the ABC – you can’t have too many people on screen, it’s expensive.

We originally wrote it as a script and tried to pitch it to SBS, because we thought SBS would be its natural home. It had an Aboriginal lesbian in a wheelchair – surely that alone ticks all of their boxes! And they said no. The ABC didn’t really want it either, and that’s when it was in script form. So we went away and did it as a short film. We just made it in John’s flat for barely $1000, and it toured the world as a short film for ages. And then once executives could see the thing, they were like, “Oh, we get it! We could make that!” And it was Princess Pictures who produced it, who do all of Chris Lilley’s shows, and I think Peter Helliar’s dating show.

How closely would you say you resemble your character, Fab, in real life?

I used to say that John wrote Fab as me when I’m drunk. Having said that, I haven’t had a drink in four years – and I’ve discovered that I’m like that when I’m sober as well. It’s just of the extreme end of my personality. If I’m in a big enough room, I will behave like that.

The first episode of Outland revolves around Doctor Who. How did you personally become a Doctor Who fan?

I think when I saw my very first episode of Doctor Who I would have been five, maybe? It was when Doctor Who used to be on one day a week. So I used to watch it one day a week, and I was obsessed with it. And then I had a friend, when I started at school, who loved it. Then it became weekdays, and we would sit and talk about it the next day at school instead of doing our work. And it’s just never gone away. Doctor Who’s one of those things that I never stopped loving. As we all know, it’s always surprising. It’s a comedy some weeks, it’s a horror show one week, then it’s a space opera, it’s claustrophobic… it can be any show you want it to be. You never get to the point where you’re like, “Ugh, they’re doing this again.”

Do you have a merchandise collection similar to that showcased in Outland?

Many of the things in that episode were mine. The Zygon that gets kicked under the desk, that was mine… the blanket that was on top of everything, that was my Cyberman blanket. ‘Cos when the classic series figures came out, the ten-year-old in me went, “I would have loved these when I was ten!” I had to play with Star Wars toys, and they were fine, but they weren’t enough. So I have a massive collection. I lived in a really big house in Melbourne, and when I moved to Sydney, as we all know, the property prices are crazy, so I live in a really tiny flat. And I have drawers full of toys, which sometimes I just pull out and look at. So most of those Doctor Who toys were mine.

What was your reaction like when you got the phone call from Whovians asking, “Hey, would you like to talk about Doctor Who on TV every week?”

I’d been writing on quiz shows – I’ve been writing for The Chase, and I’m also one of the senior writers on Hard Quiz – and I’d kind of gone, “You know what? I’ve been enjoying writing so much, I don’t think I’ll do any more on-camera stuff.” Also, I did Spicks and Specks when it came back, and people were angry about it – as many people were when Doctor Who came back in 2005. So people would get upset, and say horrendous things to me on social media, so I’d kind of gone, “No more, I don’t want to be in front of the camera anymore, I’m having too much fun.” But the opportunity to work with Rove, who I’d worked with on Channel 31 when we were both very young – so the first person I ever did any television with – and to talk about my favourite TV show every week… in the end, I think I ended up paying them to do the show. But I was living in Melbourne working on Hard Quiz at the same time, so I would have to come to Sydney every Friday, have Saturday off, work all day Sunday, and then back to Melbourne on Monday for five days of work. So it was a nuisance, and it was difficult, and I desperately wanted to do it no matter what.

What, if anything, did you have to do in order to prepare for each week’s episode?

We would get a copy of the episode usually about a week, a week and a half before. That became less and less as we went on. Like, the copy of the final episode that we saw had no effects in it. There were just very disgruntled-looking stagehands holding green screens, while Bill the Cyberman is crying over the Doctor’s body and a car goes by in the background. That makes it very hard to get emotionally involved. Also, the music wasn’t finished yet, so they just had music from The Dark Knight. And the final scene, which obviously was from the Christmas special, had only been delivered the day before. So there was a person standing next to a snow machine in the shot. So we would get it a little bit ahead of time, but I would never watch the next one ahead. I wouldn’t watch it until the plane flight on the way home from that week’s Whovians. ‘Cos if I was coming up with a theory, I didn’t want to know that I was right about something.

Had you and Rove ever geeked out together in the past?

We’d always kind of geeked out. Back then, Rove was way into wrestling. We’d go out to lunch, and we’d be in a food court somewhere, and he would just rip open these wrestling toy packets and start making them fight. He’s always been deeply, deeply nerdy. He doesn’t care about the sanctity of the packaging – he likes to play with the toys, rather than keep them in there. And before this even came up, he’d started listening to the Big Finish audios, which I’m obsessed with. So we’ve always had fairly nerdy conversations about all sorts of stuff.

You’re quite experienced in the audio medium, having worked on radio and produced podcasts. When you’re listening to an audio drama, are you thinking about how it might have been put together?

This is another reason why I think I love Doctor Who so much. When I watch a sitcom, I’m constantly breaking down where this joke is heading, where that’s coming from, so I’m always kind of analysing the writing side of it. But with Doctor Who, because you never know what’s coming, that’s one of the only shows that I still am surprised by. Where I can still go, “Oh! Well that makes sense now.” My boyfriend lives here in Sydney, and for a long time we were having a long-distance relationship. So I was driving up and down the Hume, and everyone would be like, “How could you do that?”, and I’d be like, “Oh, I could barely get through two Big Finishes. I’m thinking of dating someone in Brisbane.”

You acted in an episode of the audio series Night Terrace, co-created by John Richards, which has been described as Australia’s own version of Doctor Who. What was that like?

I did! I played an alien night-club owner. It was a very strange episode, but they were all strange episodes. The recording studio was down a laneway in North Fitzroy, in a basement with a low roof, so very claustrophobic. And we’re all just in this one room, facing each other, and facing down Susan from Neighbours. It’s like, “Oh my God, it’s Jackie Woodburne! She’s amazing!” But really good fun. That’s another one that I’ve listened to on drives, and hearing mates like Cal Wilson do incredible work in those shows, they’re really good. If you ever get a chance to have a listen, Night Terrace is good fun.

Coming back to Outland, it was on the ABC around five years ago, and it seems like a lot has changed since then. For one thing, do you think it is now cool to be a geek?

I think it’s way more cool now, especially ‘cos you’ve got things like the huge, big-budget Marvel movies. When we wanted to use all those Doctor Who toys, we had to apply for permission to Cardiff to use them – which is why there’s that weird scene where we’re talking about how Doctor Who’s not a science-fiction show. We had to put something in to say that Doctor Who is actually a family drama, ‘cos they didn’t want all these crazy nerds to start liking Doctor Who. And I’m like, “It’s too late…” And that’s why the guy who comes over for the date likes Doctor Who – the normal guy likes Doctor Who, but he has no idea what any of the other shows are. So we had to jump through a lot of hoops. The sci-fi character of Ulara was meant to be Uhura from Star Trek, but they would not come to the party because they were about to reboot the movie.

It arguably works better with Ulara, because there’s this sense of mystery about her throughout the series.

Jonathan Blum was working for SFX magazine at the time, and he organised someone to make an issue of SFX with Ulara on it. So there’s an episode where I’m reading an issue, and this is how deeply nerdy I went into crazy Doctor Who-ness. There are stories of Jon Pertwee sticky-taping his lines around the console and everything; I sticky-taped my lines into that magazine. And I only had like six lines in that episode as well. So whenever I had a line, I was reading the magazine.

A lot has also changed in the Whoniverse over the past five years, particularly with the casting of Jodie Whittaker. Do you have any theories as to what Doctor Who may look like five years from now?

Oh my God. I imagine Jodie will stay for a minimum of three, and it’s obviously going to be on because they’ve done that deal with China. So it’ll be on, but I don’t know. Again, this is why I love the show, because it’s always surprising. People say to me that my theories are always right, but one or two of them were right – about thirteen of them were terribly, terribly wrong.

Do you think the show will get more progressive with its casting?

I think there could be a lot more stunt casting. I mean, there’s always been big names in Doctor Who. Like when I found out Hugh Grant had been offered the part and turned it down, I was like, “Oh my God, why would you say no?” But who knows who they’ll get into it? I do think it’s going to be amazing. I don’t know if anyone’s watched the new Star Trek, but I was worried that they were talking about that being a whole long serial, and I was like, “Ugh, that’s not really Star Trek”, but I’ve really enjoyed the three that have been on. So maybe this whole long season arc, if they’re going to do that with the new Doctor Who, will work. Because that has been the talk – that the entire series will be one story. But Chibnall’s kind of skilled at that.

When it was announced that Jodie Whittaker was doing it, I kept being dragged into interviews with anyone who would listen. I was on the train on my way to do Hard Quiz, and I got a call from my agent asking, “Can you go and do ABC News Breakfast?” I was like, “Yeah, I’ll get off a stop earlier.” But Jodie Whittaker and Chibnall have had an amazing run together, and I think it’ll just continue to grow. I love Broadchurch, and the first couple of episodes of that third series, I thought, “Yeah, it’s alright.” Then when Jodie Whittaker’s character turned up, I was like, “Oh thank God!” I’d forgotten how much she brings a really grounding presence to a show, so I think she’ll be a really nice anchoring presence in a show that can get crazy and out of control.

AUDIENCE Q&A

Did you come up with the spray on Whovians, or was that Rove’s idea?

Originally I came up with a fire extinguisher, so I’m glad it was only a spray! It was just a stupid idea because, look I did not enjoy Series 8 of Doctor Who. I enjoyed a couple of them, but there were some where I was getting annoyed with it. I enjoyed a lot of Series 9, but there were a few that still annoyed me. And I thought that if it was going to be like Series 8 again, I’m going to get very angry on the show. I said I could get furious about contradictions in continuity, I could become angry about anything, and we need to have a mechanism for Rove to be able to calm me down if I lose my mind. And I said, “You know, like a fire extinguisher or something.” And then the ABC budget lent itself to a plastic spray bottle.

Do you know when the next season of Doctor Who is going to start filming?

It’s a long lead time, because the next season will be screening in our Spring. A single episode of Outland took five days of filming – so for a 25-minute episode, five minutes is all you get to film in a day. And we’re talking about 45 minutes, with a lot of special effects. We had nothing – we had a couple of little sparky bits that were done in post-production, and that was it. A comedy is a quick show to make, and a cheap show to make, whereas a drama takes ages, and an action drama even longer. So it’s a long period of time. Sometimes when I’m watching something, even Doctor Who, there’ll be moments when I’ll go, “Oh wow, imagine doing that twelve times.” ‘Cos you’ve got to get different angles, sometimes the lighting’s wrong, sometimes a plane flies over, someone farts, someone’s phone goes off… By the way, if someone’s phone goes off on a set, in Australia we call it slabbing a take. Because if your phone goes off and it’s meant to be quiet, you have to buy the whole crew a slab of beer. And Justin Hamilton’s phone went off in the very last episode of Whovians, when he was recording his news segment, so he had to buy the entire crew a slab of beer.

Do you think Moffat plays with the fans?

I think Moffat plays with his internal fan. I think the fan inside Moffat has an argument with the writer who is Moffat, and he’s constantly at war with himself. I think it’s a constant thing of, “I’m going to do this amazing thing! I would love to see this!”, and then he’s like, “Actually I would hate it… but I’m going to do it anyway.” Especially since he’s taken himself away from social media, and doesn’t really involve himself in online forums or anything. So unless someone was sending him an email, he would never really see anything – you can hide away from that sort of stuff. So I reckon it was just an internal fight of going, “Oo, this’ll upset you.”

 

The remainder of this interview can be found in Issue #238 of Data Extract magazine, currently available exclusively to all DWCA members. Back issues of the magazine are available to both members and non-members here. For those interested in learning more about Night Terrace be sure to check out Issue #229, where we interview series co-creator Ben McKenzie!

Murray Gold: The Man Behind the Music

Earlier this month, after many months of rumours, New Who composer Murray Gold confirmed that he won’t be returning for Series 11 of Doctor Who.

The club was lucky enough to interview Murray back in December 2012, when he came to Sydney for the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular. The interview was published in Data Extract #219, and is reproduced below for your reading pleasure.

We’re very happy to have you for what is now an extended run of the Symphonic Spectacular.

Is it? No one tells me anything. So I can’t leave tomorrow?

I hope not.

No, I want to stay. I like the fact that it’s summer and I don’t have to wear tons of sweaters.

Have you had much of a chance to see the sights?

I’ve seen Sydney Opera House in much more detail than I ever thought I would. I haven’t seen much else. I’ve seen my hotel, and the airport, and the Opera House. I did spend three weeks in Sydney last time, after Melbourne, and I didn’t see any of the sights then. I did go to the zoo. I met a koala. One of the greatest moments of my life, actually. I think that’s the picture they put in the programme, me and the koala. They asked me for a picture and I said, “I think this one might work”, ‘cos it’s taken in Sydney. I had to bustle past all these kids to get it. “Out of the way, it’s my turn!”

We’ve had half a series of Doctor Who since Melbourne, which has been included. Which season showcased in the Spectacular do you think came together the most?

I really liked the Asylum of the Daleks episode and the Angels episode, as a two-piece thing, in this season. I tend not to like whole seasons. It’s kind of impossible, because there are different types of Doctor Who episodes, an the kind of episodes that I like are not necessarily everyone else’s favourite. I liked the last two of Series 6. This season has been tough though, because there have been so many climaxes, and another mid-season climax, and a new companion, and then a Christmas special, so it’s got a really tough schedule now.

How do you work out what an episode should sound like?

A little bit is about place and about time. Usually it’s the emotional story, ‘cos I usually don’t care where something’s set. I might do a cue at the beginning because it’s over a skyline of something. The Angels episode had a tenor saxophone because it was in Manhattan. I don’t know. I’m very instinctive; I don’t like to think too much. I just like to see the episode and start writing.

Which Spectacular piece is your favourite?

I don’t have a favourite. I do love The Pandorica Opens, and that’s probably still my favourite story since Series 5. But I really like all the pieces we’re playing, and I love the way the orchestra plays it. I like that it has memories, and I like the fact that the audience will know where in the show it came from and be reminded of those moments.

How does it make you feel to know that your music has seen a lot of younger people seeking out other orchestral works?

I think that’s great. I hope they find something that they like in the world of music. There’s just so much available. I guess that if orchestras are thought of as unfashionable or uncool, it would be good to reverse that feeling. It’s the most incredible combination of skill and lack of egotism, and harmony and cooperation. Seeing orchestras play together, you’ve got 85 people who are way more talented than the people who usually get interviewed.

Where did your musical journey start?

I don’t know. Being exposed to music, I guess. It’s a hard question to answer, because when you realise that you love music, that’s it. You don’t ask to love it, you don’t seek out to love it – you just find that you do, and suddenly it’s important. If anyone asks you to explain why it’s important, you can’t really explain it.

So there wasn’t a moment where you went, “This is what I want to do”?

I never did that. I never actually said, “This is what I want to do”. I just enjoy doing it, and I keep doing it. I don’t know if it’s what I want to do. I don’t know what I want to do.

For those fans who have started seeking out other works, do you have any composers or pieces that you would recommend?

Oh God, there’s so many, it’s absurd. If you look at my iTunes box… The only thing I would say is that you’ve just got to try and listen to music in better quality. Companies like Apple and Google have completely obliterated the way we listen to music now, so that we listen to it in worse quality than you did 25 years ago. We’ve all got it in our pockets but it just sounds like mush in our heads. So try and listen to music at a high digital resolution. Just listen to everything. There’s so much great music – there’s rock ‘n’ roll, the blues, classical, film composers… There’s a jazz guy called Charlie Haden – when I wrote my first score, I’d been listening to a lot of his music. There is one track called Silence, on an album called The Ballad of the Fallen, and it’s a brilliant piece that shows you how nice two instruments sound together if you just write them in harmony together. It’s a really good composing piece to listen to, which teaches you a lot about harmony.

On top of composing music, you were also briefly featured in Voyage of the Damned. Was that an interesting experience?

That was a really fun experience, ‘cos Ben Foster and I both did it. I roped Ben into it, thinking it would be fun. And of course, we wanted to be treated just the same way as anyone else, ‘cos we were just background artists. So you get shepherded onto this bus, you have to be awake at five in the morning, then you go through make-up. There was one time when I was being made up, and Kylie was being made up next to me, and Babs the make-up lady said, “Oh Murray, do you know Kylie?” I turned around and said, “Not exactly, but I know who she is. Hello.” She’s really nice.

Nobody knew we’d worked on the show in any other capacity, so all these really nice people were talking to us and saying, “So do you have an agent? What are you doing next week? We’re doing Miss Marple next week. Do you want to get in on that?” I was like, “Well, I’m just concentrating on being a background artist on Doctor Who for the time being.” Then suddenly David Tennant came into the room, after us background artists had been waiting for four hours, in costume, under the burning lights. David comes in, and he looks up, and he says, “Murray!” He runs over to me and hugs me, and all these other background artists are like, “Why is David Tennant hugging that one?” They must have thought I’d paid him or something. So it was good fun, but I probably won’t do it again.

Twice Upon a Time Available Now From The DWCA Shop!

The 2017 Christmas Special and Twelfth Doctor’s swansong, Twice Upon a Time, is now available from the DWCA Shop on Blu-ray and DVD!

This very special Christmas story features two Doctors, a woman made of glass, a displaced WWI solider, the return of old friends and more! Both editions of the release are packed full of extras celebrating the end of Peter Capaldi’s – and Steven Moffat’s – time on Doctor Who, including Doctor Who Extra, The End of an Era and footage from the Doctor Who panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

The Twice Upon a Time DVD and Blu-ray are available to order online now.

Don’t forget that there are plenty of DVD and Blu-ray releases from the classic and new series available from the DWCA Shop, including several featuring the original First Doctor, William Hartnell. Click here to browse them all!

DWCA Book Club April – Torchwood: World Without End

The DWCA Book Club is venturing into Doctor Who spin-off territory with its next title – the first in a new range of graphic novels for a series that, like its lead character, has a tendency to come back from the dead.

Written by John Barrowman himself alongside his sister Carole, Torchwood: World Without End sees Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper attempt to rebuild Torchwood Cardiff from the ground up. But after suffering an attack by extra-dimensional shock troopers, and with a deadly rift bleeding through into their own reality, time itself could be destroyed if the new Torchwood team aren’t able to stop it!

If you’d like to share your thoughts on the book, you are invited to come along to our Book Club meeting on Friday 6 April, where discussion will be recorded for the official DWCA Book Club podcast. You can also comment on our Facebook page if you can’t make the event.

Torchwood: World Without End is available from the DWCA Shop here, along with Volume 2 in the series, Station Zero. Torchwood fans can also pick up full-cast audio adventures from Big Finish Productions, featuring stories set before, during and after the TV series!

SEND US YOUR REVIEWS AND WIN A PRIZE!

Do you consider yourself something of an amateur critic? Send us a written review of the current Book Club title, and your words just may end up published in our club fanzine, Data Extract. What’s more, you will go into the running to win a $5 voucher to spend at the DWCA Shop!

Reviews should be sent to Dom Kelly at fsq@doctorwhoaustralia.org.

DWCA Book Club February – Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks

With Twice Upon a Time having re-introduced us to the Doctor’s original incarnation, the DWCA Book Club is celebrating First Doctor Fever with our next text: Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks.

Also known as Doctor Who and the Daleks, this novel by David Whitaker was the first Doctor Who novelisation and, indeed, the first Doctor Who novel of any kind. It is based on the Daleks’ debut television appearance, with additional material based on An Unearthly Child – the first ever episode of the programme.

The book has been republished several times since its first edition in 1965, most famously in 1973 by Target Books – with strong sales resulting in Target releasing novelisations for the vast majority of classic series stories. More recently, BBC Books launched a Target-style paperback edition in 2011 and a retro hardback edition in 2016.

If you’d like to share your thoughts on the book, you are invited to come along to our Book Club meeting on Friday 2 February, where discussion will be recorded for the official DWCA Book Club podcast. You can also comment on our Facebook page if you can’t make the event.

SEND US YOUR REVIEWS AND WIN A PRIZE!

Do you consider yourself something of an amateur critic? Send us a written review of the current Book Club text, and your words just may end up published in our club fanzine, Data Extract. What’s more, you will go into the running to win a $5 voucher to spend at the DWCA Shop!

Reviews should be sent to Dom Kelly at fsq@doctorwhoaustralia.org.

Opinion – A Female Doctor: It’s Time!

Back in 2014, Dale Watts submitted an article to Data Extract magazine in which he weighed in on the debate surrounding a female Doctor. With Jodie Whittaker’s tenure in the TARDIS growing ever nearer, we thought it would be interesting to revisit Dale’s article. We now reproduce it here for the first time since its debut in DE#226, abridged for the online format.

***

A female Doctor: a great idea or not? It certainly seemed to be the topic on everyone’s lips at the recent Lords of Time convention. With the Master having been regenerated into a woman in the Series 8 finale, and Steven Moffat having been quoted as saying he’d like Peter Capaldi’s successor to be female, it’s certainly something which is seeming increasingly likely as time goes on. And yet, as far as I could tell, most people at the convention seemed to be against the idea. This surprised and saddened me. Surprised, because I’d always just assumed that the Doctor could regenerate into a woman anyway, and simply hadn’t done so yet. Saddened, because it often seemed to be women against the idea.

Much as many are unwilling to admit it, Doctor Who sure as hell needs more female voices. It is a sad fact that only a handful of women have ever written or directed for the program. The recently-announced episode for Series 9 to be penned by Catherine Tregenna will be only the fifth Doctor Who story ever to have been written solely by a women – Tregenna follows in the footsteps of just three other women, Barbara Clegg, Rona Munro, and Helen Raynor. Another five stories were written by women as part of a writing partnership – four stories in the late ‘80s by Pip and Jane Baker, and a single one from Paul Erickson and Lesley Scott in the ‘60s. Even then, it’s disputed that Ms Scott ever actually wrote a word on the story she is credited on – The Ark. And that’s avoiding the issue of the pseudonymous ‘Paula Moore’, who wrote Attack of the Cybermen, and who was probably actually script editor Eric Saward.

Directors fare little better. Since 1963 there have been only ten female directors – Fiona Cumming, Paddy Russell, Julia Smith, Sheree Folkson, Sarah Hellings, Hettie MacDonald, Mary Ridge, Catherine Morshead, Rachel Talalay, and Alice Troughton, and only one story, Enlightenment, which just happens to be one of the greatest ever, from both a script and a production point of view, that has been both written and directed by women. Five of them have worked on the program in the last six years, which suggests that things are looking up, but the question remains: why such a small list at all? Are there simply not as many women interested in working on Doctor Who as there are men? Are the producers past and present sexist? Verity Lambert hired no women writers or directors, but I doubt anyone would accuse her of sexism. This is the woman who did most of the heavy lifting to get Doctor Who off the ground, and who in the process created two vibrant female characters in the form of Barbara Wright and Vicki Pallister.

Yet later producers, most of whom were male, did drop the ball a fair bit. It’s hard to argue otherwise, when so many actresses – among them, Louise Jameson, Janet Fielding and Nicola Bryant – recount that they were told they were there “for the dads”, which in itself raises the question of why a program that was ostensibly for children felt the need to include sexualised content for adult men. Leela may have been a strong, positive female character, but as Louise Jameson herself has pointed out, the character’s costume left little to the imagination. To give another example, Peri’s reputation as a character seems to be mostly based around her breasts, with Planet of Fire’s lingering shots of a bikini-clad Nicola Bryant.

What’s interesting about that example, though, is that it’s directed by a female director (Fiona Cumming) who was working for a gay male producer (John Nathan-Turner). This shows that sexism in Doctor Who is less the result of the producers being horrible people who deliberately set out to mock and sexualise women, and more the result of a societal expectation that women are there to be sexually attractive objects. And for every negative example of sexism in the program, there are positive female role models scattered throughout the program’s history. Barbara Wright, Liz Shaw, Sarah Jane Smith, Donna Noble, Clara Oswald – I don’t think any of these companions qualify as pretty, vacuous, monster-bait. Despite the cliche, there are only three occasions that I can recall where a companion tripped and sprained their ankle. And one of those was Adric!

So, Doctor Who has had its good moment and its not-so-good moments when it comes to its depiction of women. And frankly, its record of hiring female writers and directors is atrocious. So right now would definitely be the perfect time to try and increase the number of female voices in the program. And surely hiring a female lead actor would be a great step in that direction. Perhaps having a female lead character would help to attract more female directors and writers to the program! We know the Doctor can become a woman. It’s been implied since the Sarah Jane Adventures story The Death of the Doctor, in which Clyde asks the Doctor if he can be black, to which the Doctor replies, “I can be anything I want.” Note that he doesn’t add “except a woman”. There’s been further hints dropped since then – the most significant coming in The Doctor’s Wife, in which we’re told that the Doctor’s old friend, the Corsair, has had both male and female regenerations. Then, of course, there’s the Master’s recent regeneration into a woman, which seems to have split opinion.

So, to my mind, it’s not a question of whether the Doctor can become a woman, but whether he should. And I’m yet to hear a convincing argument for why he shouldn’t.

Many people seem to take the attitude of “it hasn’t been done before so it shouldn’t be done at all.” Leaving aside the fact that I hold the opposite opinion, imagine if this view had been adhered to by earlier production teams. The casting of Peter Davison was controversial at the time, as it was thought he was too young to play the role. But is anyone going to deny how great Davison, not to mention the other young Doctors (McGann, Tennant, Smith) were in the role? Not all great actors are old, white men, and if Doctor Who’s producers don’t take risks in their casting from time to time, Doctor Who can never change and improve itself.

Another flawed counter-argument to the question of a female Doctor is that having the Doctor become a woman “doesn’t make sense.” Considering we’re discussing a fictional television program about a time/space machine that’s bigger on the inside than the outside, piloted by an alien being that can change his entire physical appearance, I feel as though any questions of ‘sense’ went out the window long ago. I imagine there were viewers in 1966 who thought the changeover from Hartnell to Troughton didn’t make sense either, especially as Troughton didn’t put on a white wig and do a Hartnell impersonation. But 50 years later, we can look back on that event and see it for what it was – a brave move on the part of a desperate production team, which ensured their program’s long-term success to the present day. Hiring a female actor as the Doctor could definitely fall into the same bracket as that early ‘nonsensical’ decision.

By far the most distressing comments I heard, though – made more so because they were being made by women – were things like ‘women need men to rescue them’, or ‘women can’t be heroes’. If anyone genuinely believes that then I urge them to pick up any newspaper, or simply look around them, because strong, heroic women, who serve as positive role models for all of us, are everywhere. As an example, look at Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who was shot in the head and survived, for daring to stand up to the Taliban and demand that girls in her country be allowed an education. In fact, given that historically women have often been oppressed (and in many parts of the world still are), and that the Doctor always fights for the rights of the oppressed, it makes a kind of karmic sense that the Doctor should one day be a woman. It just feels right.

A female Doctor could be the most wonderful thing ever. I wouldn’t want a token female Doctor, chosen simply to be there and be female. Rather, I want to see the casting for the Doctor opened up to anyone and everyone, regardless of gender, age, or race. If a man is cast, then I’m sure he’ll do a great job, just as the past actors to play the role have done. But if a woman is cast, then equally great. I’d presume she was the best person for the job, and I’d hope that she would simply be the first of many, many more female Doctors. Whether she be an elderly Margaret Rutherford type, or a young, sexy Emma Stone type, there’s no reason in the world to suspect that a female Doctor couldn’t be as wonderful, as brave, as funny, and as heroic as any of her male predecessors.

***

The full version of the article can be read in DE#226, which is available for purchase from the DWCA Shop. Other content in the issue includes interviews with Lords of Time 3 guests Katy Manning, Matthew Waterhouse, Terrance Dicks and Geoffrey Beevers, plus a special edition of A Little Perspective featuring discussion between three female fans.

Data Extract back issues now available through the DWCA Shop

The DWCA is pleased to announce that select editions of our club fanzine, Data Extract, are now available through our Online Shop.

      

Published continuously since 1980, Data Extract (DE) has grown from a two-page newsletter into a fully fledged fanzine, with articles, interviews, art and more besides. Earlier this year, the first 100 issues of the publication were collected together in one hardcover volume from the first time – from the heady days of the past from Tom Baker’s departure to the end of the classic era and into the Wilderness Years.

Now, single issues of DE from 2014 to 2016 are also available for purchase, giving both newer members and curious bystanders the chance to relive some of the recent history of the Whoniverse – from the aftermath of the 50th anniversary to the casting of Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts. Featuring celebrity interviews, event recounts, reviews and fan fiction – including the first stories in an ongoing series featuring original companion Eleanor Chaplette – each issue is chock full of high-quality content written by fans, for fans.

      

Limited issues of Data Extract #223 to #231 are available here while stocks last. The latest issue, #236, was released in late September and is currently available exclusively to members. To sign up as a member, visit http://dwca.org.au/membership/