Gomez and Roberts make a Masterful debut at Big Finish

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if River Song met the Master? Well wonder no longer, because thanks to the magic of audio drama, River will soon be locking horns with not one, not two, but four incarnations of the Doctor’s oldest foe!

The Diary of River Song, Big Finish Productions’ spin-off series starring Alex Kingston, has seen River Song encounter the Eighth, Seventh, Sixth and Fifth Doctors – with the Fourth to follow later this year. Now our heroine is set to face her toughest challenge yet, meeting four Masters over the course of four hour-long adventures.

Yes, TV Movie Master Eric Roberts will be returning to the role for the first time in 22 years, while Michelle Gomez’s Missy will become the first Twelfth Doctor era character to join the Big Finish family. They will be accompanied by Geoffrey Beevers’ decayed Master and Derek Jacobi’s War Master, the latter having recently starred in both his own series for Big Finish as well as the much-anticipated Gallifrey: Time War.

“This is something we’ve been so incredibly excited about for so long,” said Nicholas Briggs, executive producer at Big Finish. “It’s been thrilling enough for us to work with Alex for all the River releases, but to put her against the Doctor’s former best friend turned arch enemy is not a little mind-blowing. Fantastic that we’re getting an opportunity to work with Michelle again, after her first appearance (at Big Finish) with Sylvester McCoy back in 2007! But somehow strangely incredible that Eric Roberts is back from the 1996 TV movie. It’s frankly ‘clash of the icons’ in a really mind-blowing box set.”

The fifth series of The Diary of River Song will be available from the DWCA Shop in early 2019. The fourth series, featuring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, will be out in late 2018. The third series, with Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor and Frances Barber as Madame Kovarian, is available now.

Six Times Steven Moffat Did the Impossible

The DWCA is bidding a fond farewell to outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat with a special day event celebrating some of his most significant contributions to the programme – tickets are available here. And it’s fair to say that the past eight years have been somewhat divisive, with the controversial executive producer never afraid to fly in the face of what fans had accepted as true. Here are six examples of fan “myths” Mr Moffat very firmly busted…

Companions Leave the Doctor When They Get Married

Ever since the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan fell in love during The Dalek Invasion of Earth back in 1964, there has been a clear trend of the Doctor’s female companions (some of them, at least) leaving behind life in the TARDIS in exchange for wedded bliss. Fiery redhead Amy Pond, the first companion of Moffat’s tenure as showrunner, was having none of that, jumping back into the TARDIS before her wedding night was even over – with her new husband Rory in tow. Even after “officially” leaving the Doctor at the end of The God Complex, Amy and Rory found themselves dragged back into TARDIS life in Asylum of the Daleks and travelled with him on and off over at least ten years, before their eventual departure in The Angels Take Manhattan. Their status as “part-time companions” was one that was subsequently taken up by Clara Oswald and Bill Potts, showing that Moffat remained willing to subvert the traditional companion role for the remainder of his tenure.

The Doctor Can’t Get Married

Unlike their companions, the Doctor’s own love life was somewhat lacklustre during the classic series, leading many to believe the character was in fact asexual. This all changed with the Doctor’s “first kiss” in the 1996 TV Movie, followed by the development of an intense emotional relationship with companion Rose Tyler in 2005. Steven Moffat went one step further, weaving a flirtatious relationship between the Doctor and River Song that overcame the rules of time itself – and ultimately culminated in their marriage in The Wedding of River Song. And while the wedding was apparently just a ruse of the Doctor’s in order to get River to kiss them and restore the correct timeline, further stories went on to confirm that their feelings for River were sincere all along. Nowhere is this clearer than The Husbands of River Song, the ending of which sees the couple looking lovingly into each other’s eyes.

Gallifrey Was Destroyed in the Time War

Long-time fans of Doctor Who were shocked in 2005 when the Ninth Doctor announced he was the last of the Time Lords – the result of then showrunner Russell T Davies wanting to wipe the slate clean for new viewers. Over the next eight years, fans gradually learned bits and pieces about the devastating war that had wiped out both the Time Lords and (most of) the Daleks. But while it was something of a surprise to see the last moments of the Time War covered in the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, no one could have expected the story’s climax – the Doctor’s home planet of Gallifrey was saved! It was a bold move by Moffat to revise almost a decade’s worth of character development, but it just about worked, and has since allowed the Doctor to revisit Gallifrey in the Series 9 finale Hell Bent.

The Eighth Doctor Fought in the Time War

Of course, we cannot mention The Day of the Doctor without discussing the elephant (man) in the room – the late, great Sir John Hurt, aka the War Doctor. Steven Moffat has made it known that he could never really picture Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor fighting in the Time War, and so approached Ninth Doctor actor Christopher Eccleston about a possible return – an offer that was ultimately turned down. But rather than abandoning his Time War plot, the resourceful showrunner pitched the idea of creating a hitherto unknown ‘War Doctor’, ideally to be played by an actor of exceptionally high calibre: “Someone like John Hurt.” Little did he know that the role would go on to be accepted by Hurt himself, who was embraced by fans and even returned to the part in four audio drama boxsets for Big Finish Productions.

You Can’t Show the Doctor as a Child

The Doctor’s pre-TARDIS life has been shrouded in mystery, with our hero offering only a few anecdotes over the decades to indicate what they were like as a youngster (several of which point to a somewhat rebellious youth spent at the Time Lord Academy). Moffat wound back the clock even further in Twelfth Doctor episode Listen, depicting a pre-pubescent Doctor (although we never see his face) sleeping in a barn on Gallifrey – apparently adjunct to a house he shares with several other young boys. When Clara impulsively grabs the lad’s ankle from the under his bed, she realises she has inadvertently become the source of her friend’s greatest fear. Her solution? To teach him that fear is a superpower; a force that will ultimately drive him to become the greatest and kindest hero the universe has ever seen. Clara’s influence on the Doctor’s life up until this moment has always been substantial – from telling them which TARDIS to steal to helping them avert the destruction of Gallifrey – but this moment truly trumps them all.

Time Lords Can’t Change Gender When They Regenerate

This is the big one. Over the course of the classic series, several Time Lords (and Ladies) appeared across various incarnations – but always retained the same gender. It was in The Doctor’s Wife, penned by Neil Gaiman during Moffat’s second series as showrunner, that viewers first heard anything otherwise, with dialogue indicating that the Doctor’s old friend the Corsair had experienced multiple female incarnations as well as male ones.

It was a revelation that Moffat would go on to revisit – three years later the character of Missy revealed herself as the latest incarnation of the Master, and one year later the process itself was depicted in Hell Bent with the regeneration of the Time Lord General. So while it was incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall who took the bold step of casting Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor, it was Moffat who laid much of the groundwork that allowed this to happen.

In his tenure as showrunner, Moffat has shown a playfully flexible attitude towards the do’s and don’ts of Doctor Who, taking the opportunity to reinvent the mythology of the programme at several points with an almost gleeful mischievousness. And why not? After all, aren’t reinvention, adaptation and change key to the show’s survival?

Our celebration of Steven Moffat’s time on Doctor Who is taking place on 27 May. Head here for more information and to grab your tickets.

 

In Pictures: DWCA Mega Picnic 2018

This gallery contains 12 photos.

The DWCA held our first ever Mega Picnic on Sunday 8 April, with members from our local groups in Allora, Central West NSW and Sydney getting together in their respective localities for an afternoon of food, fun and frivolity! Thanks to everybody who came along – we hope we can hold an even bigger and better event next year! Continue reading

Are You Interested in Doctor Who Biographies?

The DWCA Shop is looking to carry a greater number of non-fiction titles, particularly biographies and autobiographies. And we’re inviting you to come on this journey with us, by helping us select the books you’d most like to add to your collection!

Pictured below is a sample of some of the titles the Shop is looking to acquire, including biographies and autobiographies of Doctors, companions and other prominent figures from our favourite programme. If you would consider purchasing any of the below, please send an email to shop@doctorwhoaustralia.org listing your preferred titles and formats. If enough people express their interest, it is our hope that the Shop will be able to stock the most popular titles in the near future. Until that time, no form of deposit or payment will be required.

To view a larger version of each image with its caption, simply click on it.

Targeted – A Defence of the Target Novelisations

This month sees the much-anticipated release of four newly novelised New Who episodes from BBC Books, formatted in the style of the classic series novelisations from Target Books: Rose by Russell T Davies, The Christmas Invasion by Jenny T Colgan, Twice Upon a Time by Paul Cornell and The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat – the last of which the DWCA Book Club will be discussing at our June meeting.

But while the Target books are currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity, there have always been those who have looked down upon them as nothing more than throwaway fluff for children. Back in 2013, Mitchell Sutton submitted an article to Issue #219 of Data Extract magazine in which he outlined his case in defence of the Target books – an article which we now reproduce below for your reading pleasure.


Target novelisations seem to be the marmite of the Doctor Who fan community. On the one hand, there are those who had a large portion of their childhood invested in brilliant retellings of barely remembered episodes. For these fans, Terrance Dicks is a part of the Western Literary Canon, Chris Archilleos the greatest unrecognised artist of the 20th century and the term “pleasant, open face” the definitive description of manliness. For others, mostly those who never found them in childhood, the books are embarrassing throwbacks to a dark time before the Internet and home video: simplistic children’s literature churned out in a week so that the show’s writers could have some extra cash.

I fall squarely in the former category. For me, the Target books are probably the greatest item of merchandise the show ever produced and is ever likely to produce. From the brilliant covers of Alastair Pearson, Chris Archilleos and others to the completist part of my heart that really, really likes seeing them on my shelf in televised order, they are the definitive tellings of the Doctor’s adventures (and let’s face it, no matter how much money the BBC spends, it can’t rival imagination).

But first let’s look at some of the criticisms. The main charges I’ve seen levelled against them are that they were mostly filler pushed out by Terrance Dicks in a week, that they were simply transcripts of the episodes in novel form, and that they are embarrassingly childish when compared to the modern BBC books. Cue rabid defence.

Looking back on the range today, I’m not surprised by the number of filler novels that were produced, but rather by the lack of it. It was pretty much inevitable due to the sheer number of books produced over the thirty-year period that some would be poorly written cash-ins. But there was never a period when the good ones stopped being produced. Every Doctor has at least four or five outstanding novelisations, spanning from David Whitaker’s pre-Target effort to novelise The Daleks to Ben Aaronovitch’s expansive Remembrance of the Daleks.

Now on to Terrance Dicks. Alright, it is true that the man commonly known as Uncle Terry turned himself into a freakishly fast author of novelisations, was known to skimp on such trifles as originality and did re-use a lot of stock phrases. But wouldn’t we all be worse off if Terrace had never drummed up the phrases “pleasant, open face”, “wheezing-groaning sound” and “dominated by a many sided central console” into the minds of generations of impressionable children? Without Terrance Dicks the Target library would be a little less than half its present size (according to the ever reliable New Zealand fan club site he wrote 64 out of 154, or 42% of all the Target novelisations), and it might have died off altogether if he hadn’t been there to transcribe such beloved classics as State of Decay, The Smugglers and The Krotons in 128 pages. If the original authors couldn’t make them seem interesting then what chance did Terrance have? Someone had to transcribe them and nobody did that better than he.

The accusation that the novels were simply dull rehashes of the episodes they were based on is greatly exaggerated (dull television stories aside). There are even some novelisations so perfect that they’ve displaced the episodes they were based on in fan consciousness. Without Doctor Who and the Cybermen, The Moonbase would be a largely scorned rehash of The Tenth Planet rather than the tense, eerie adventure that it’s remembered as. I would also wager that the fond memories of old episodes created by the Target books during the 1980s contributed to the hatred directed towards one John Nathan-Turner and the idea that everything before the 1980s was beyond reproach. In many cases the Target books created memories that were better than the original television.

Likewise, when the author of a TV serial wrote the novelisation we often saw a better product than what we got on TV because the writers were able to flesh out the characters a little bit more and allowed us to see inside their heads. For example, in Malcolm Hulke’s novelisation of The Silurians we see the events that lead the Silurians to hibernate through the eyes of their leader, which makes them must more sympathetic creatures.

As for alleged childishness, whilst they were published as children’s books initially, there was a huge evolution in their tone, the quality of writing and content. Whilst they thankfully never achieved the sex, violence and convoluted story arcs of the desperately-trying-to-be-mature New Adventures, the novelisations grew up with the fanbase in many ways. By the end of their run during the 1990s, many of them were being written by authors like Marc Platt and Ben Aaronovitch, who included many elements of their fabled ‘masterplan’, going beyond the brief for children’s novelisations.

I hope my little rant has dispelled some myths about the Target novelisations and revealed a little of why I, and many others, love them so much. While I don’t think I’ll have created any new Target fans, I do hope that it has helped to restore the novelisations to their rightfully deserved place in Who canon.

The DWCA Book Club’s discussion of The Day of the Doctor is taking place on 1 June – join the conversation by coming to the event or heading to our Facebook page. The Book Club meets once every two months to chat about a given book relating to the Whoniverse. With a vast history of books to choose from, including original novels, comic books, short story collections, biographies and classic novelisations, there’s always something different at Book Club! Keep an eye out on our website for news about future books!

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.