6 things we love about the new release of The Macra Terror

Second Doctor lost story The Macra Terror was finally released on DVD and Blu-ray last month, almost 52 years after its original broadcast and five months after it was announced that surviving audio recordings of the serial would be combined with brand new animation. But while it may not feature the Daleks (like The Power of the Daleks) or be written by Douglas Adams (like Shada), there’s still plenty to love about this long-awaited release of an underrated gem.

The dystopian plot

The Macra Terror was originally broadcast as part of Doctor Who’s fourth season – an unusual and often overlooked period in the show’s history, where many elements of the programme were undergoing a steady transformation, storylines weren’t yet dominated by monster-of-the-week shenanigans and writers could still deliver slices of delightful ’60s weirdness. In the case of The Macra Terror, the plot is centred on a seemingly idyllic colony manipulated by an omnipresent overlord into an endless cycle of mundane labour and forcefully cheerful recreation. Think Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four meets The Wizard of Oz, but the Wizard was secretly a giant crab all along. The end result is a satirical story that is genuinely thrilling while also being very fun.

The TARDIS crew

The Macra Terror was the second-last story for the TARDIS team of the Second Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie, which is a shame as they’re really starting to work well together here. Jamie is a loveable goof throughout, from his confusion after the brainwashing scene (“They haven’t been able to get very far into your brain.” “Eh? I don’t understand.”) to his improvised dance during the cheerleading scene. Michael Craze meanwhile gets to show off his acting chops, as Ben is rather more susceptible to the brainwashing process – losing his Cockney accent when he’s under the influence and frightening Polly almost as much as the Macra. And while Polly plays a bit of a damsel while being attacked by Ben/the Macra, she’s also the Doctor’s main companion during the climactic final episode. This team may sometimes be forgotten, but The Macra Terror sees them at their best.

The visual upgrade

While the animated version of The Power of the Daleks sought to recreate the original production as closely as possible, the team behind The Macra Terror have taken some creative liberties and injected the story with a high degree of visual flair, taking it beyond what could have been produced by the original production team. Perhaps this is most obvious in their design of the Macra themselves: whereas the original Macra prop (there was only one) looked a bit like, well, how you might expect a giant crab built on a ‘60s BBC budget to look, the animated Macra are large, fierce and imposing. There’s even more than one of them! This makes their scenes all the more exciting and really sells the threat these spidery-crabs pose. We’re also treated to sprawling shots of the colony as the paranoid (or is he?) Medok makes his escape attempt, while Jamie’s perilous journey through the gas mine is atmospheric in a way that couldn’t have been achieved in studio.

The colour

Many fans have wondered what certain ‘60s stories would look like in colour, while others believe they should stay in monochrome as they were originally intended. This animated release gives viewers the option to view the story either way – so whether you think the adventure is creepier in black and white, or you’re curious to see how the animation team have played up the slightly psychedelic elements of the plot in their colour choices, the decision is entirely up to you. We would, however, recommend watching the opening titles in colour at least once – they look truly gorgeous. And if you’ve ever found yourself debating Ben’s true hair colour with another fan, you finally have a way to settle it!

The special features

Classic Doctor Who releases have long prided themselves on their comprehensive suite of special features, and The Macra Terror is a real doozy. The release is absolutely packed with extras, covering the original production, the animated version and everything in between. There’s audio commentary featuring members of the cast and crew, a digitally remastered compilation of the original story’s surviving footage (all 2 minutes of it!), behind-the-scenes footage showcasing construction of the Macra prop, and – in a move that is sure to please purists – a stills reconstruction available with or without a narration track read by Anneke Wills (Polly). That’s on top of a series of features covering how the new release went from initial storyboards to final animation, the full 1992 audio release narrated by Colin Baker, an animation of the first 10 minutes of Second Doctor story The Wheel in Space and more. The Blu-ray edition also has a bonus disc that includes the Macra’s return in Tenth Doctor story Gridlock, along with accompanying commentary and Doctor Who Confidential: Cut Down.

The fact that we’re able to watch it!

It seems obvious, but there’s something quite special about being able to watch something that has been unseen in its entirety for over 50 years. Of course in that time there have been reconstructions, novelisations and soundtrack releases, but they just don’t provide the same feeling you get from sitting on (or behind) the sofa, switching on the TV, and watching the TARDIS materialise in a new location for the first time. Having a fully visual dimension to the story also restores the nuance to the performances and the facial expressions of the characters – something that these animations are getting better at with each release. So while there have been no missing episode discoveries for some years now, the animated releases are going from strength to strength, suggesting that it may be only a matter of time before we get to experience a new (old) story all over again.

The Macra Terror is available from the DWCA Shop on DVD and Blu-ray. It can be purchased now from our online shop or in person at our upcoming Sydney day event, to be held on 19 May at Club Burwood – the theme of which is, appropriately enough, ‘Animations and Adaptations’.

 

How to Make a Fan Film: An Interview with UNSW DocSoc

In 2016, the UNSW Doctor Who Society (DocSoc) put together their own original Doctor Who fan film. Titled ‘The TARDIS of UNSW’, the film was screened at the DWCA’s March day event in Burwood, Sydney, alongside a Q&A panel featuring members of the production team. But if you didn’t get to attend the day, you can now read a transcript of the interview right here. Make sure you watch the film first, to avoid spoilers!

DWCA: Welcome! Would you like to start off by introducing yourselves to the audience?

Thomas Walder: I’m Thomas. I was the director, and I also did the special effects and a small part of the editing.

Sarah Cobb-Clark: I’m Sarah, I played Jane aka the real Doctor.

Charles Mann: I’m Charles, I played the Doctor, but also the Master, the second time around? It’s really confusing.

Ewan Scott: I’m Ewan, I played the actual, definite Master, and I’m kind of responsible for the confusing plot as well.

DWCA: So how did your fan film, The TARDIS of UNSW, come about?

Thomas: Originally, the society was going to try and recreate some of the Classic Who effects, which you can kind of get from the aesthetic of it. But during the planning stages, Ewan and I, and one other member, we sat down and had a few drinks and decided to see if we could come up with a plot that we could use. But as we came up with an idea, we came up with this twist. It wasn’t originally even going to have a Doctor – it was going to have the Master fooling the Master and then double-crossing themselves. It was going to be this amazing Moffat-esque twist at the end.

Ewan: And then Moffat stole it from us!

Sarah: We attended Whovians together to see the Series 10 finale, and we were sitting next to each other in the audience as the episode played. I was sitting right next to Ewan, poking him, going, “The Master just killed the Master! This is our plot, this is our episode!”

Ewan: We clearly know the characters too well.

Thomas: It was a lot of effort. One of our other members who isn’t here, who did much of the editing – Heloise – we sat down with her and spent ages trying to wrap our heads around this time loop that we’d created. Some of the diagrams that you see in both the end-credits scene and some of the making-of shots – that was from us trying to make sure that we know exactly how to get this thing working, so that it actually sort of makes sense.

Charles: That took the longest, I think. Out of all of the things we did, that one diagram took the longest.

Thomas: As the special effects editor, I can say it didn’t.

DWCA: How did you manage to put together the special effects?

Thomas: I kind of taught myself After Effects. Mostly it was just looking up the effects online. The one that was particularly unique was what we tried to do with the opening scenes. ‘Cos we attempted to replicate the official howl-around effect that Classic Who used, using modern technology – which was kind of the original idea. So what we ended up doing was getting a webcam, pointing it at a computer, and then just kind of wiggling it around for a bit. In the editing, I took the shots that were made from that and tried to blend them together in reasonably visually appealing away, and add the other effects. And I was quite happy with the result.

Ewan: Tom’s effects are better than my acting.

Sarah: It’s a fan episode, it’s gonna be a cheesy. And it was fun.

DWCA: What about the props and other equipment? Did you film it on a phone?

Thomas: It was on my camera.

Charles: Tom supplied most of everything.

Ewan: As a fan club, we sort of went, “Hey, anyone who has anything you can lend us – Daleks, sonic screwdrivers – bring it in!” I think there’s a shot at the end of a table covered in TARDISes and Daleks.

Thomas: One thing you might notice is, I’m pretty sure each shot that has a sonic screwdriver in use is a different sonic screwdriver. That’s just an Easter egg.

Charles: We definitely went out of our way in at least one shot, when we’re all trying to open the one door, to make sure that every single time a sonic screwdriver was in shot, it was a different sonic screwdriver.

Thomas: Some of the props, such as the K9 and the Dalek parts, they were created by another member, Antonia, who also did much of the storage. K9’s kind of a dump truck underneath the box bit, so he was kind of a little trolley.

DWCA: Your film also has the twist of the female Doctor. Now that you’ve seen a real female Doctor on screen, how do you think they compare?

Sarah: I would have made a better Doctor. They should have hired me. No, I kid. I am enjoying Jodie Whittaker, and I’m sure that next season she’ll go from strength to strength.

Thomas: One of things we wanted to do was make it fit in with things that we’d seen in past parodies. And having a female Doctor, up until that point, was something that was very much a classic thing for a parody to do. So that was one of the goals when it came to building themes and stuff into the show.

DWCA: Overall, was the whole process easier or harder than you expected?

Thomas: Well Charlie and I had made a small film back in high school…

Charles: Very small.

Thomas: … So when it came to it, none of us knew that much about what we were doing – apart from Heloise, who was the only actual film student involved in the process. So a lot of it was kind of working it out as we went. Pretty much all of the actual dialogue, and most of the actual scenes, were worked out on the day.

Ewan: In terms of little details like continuity though, Heloise was very much on the ball in terms of “Hang on, you need to be wearing this shirt to regenerate.” She got mad at me when I got a haircut, and fair enough.

Charles: Yes, I remember that.

Thomas: So we had four filming days, out of an originally planned one. Do you want to tell the story about what happened with the jackets, and the temperature?

Charles: Oh man…

Sarah: I would love to tell that story! Alright – we started filming in winter. We finished filming in summer. Charles was in a wool coat, I was in a leather jacket and a wool turtleneck. We both regretted our costume choices.

Thomas: That’s the thing, right? Doctor Who has this whole clothing aesthetic. You’ve got to have the jackets and stuff.

Charles: You’ve got to make sure everything works in-universe, even if it causes you incredible discomfort and dehydration when you’re standing in the sun for a solid hour, making sure that the shot is exactly perfect. It was fun, but my goodness, I have so much respect now for professional actors, and anyone who wears that kind of stuff all the time.

Thomas: Looking back at it, there were a number of small things that we either could have done more smoothly or that we had to work in, in order to cover the small mistakes we made. And I think in part, that’s because it was quite exhausting, the process of actually filming. ‘Cos we’re trying to fit in between everyone’s uni and work schedules, so we’re trying to pack in as much as we can in the limited time we have together.

Ewan: I think I recorded the K9 lines several months later, at my computer, and sent them off to Heloise in the hope that she’d be able to get them in.

DWCA: Was it difficult finding the right people to take on various roles in the production?

Sarah: Well everyone involved was in the Doctor Who Society of UNSW, so we kind of worked with the people who were already there, and who would be interested in it.

Ewan: And it was a large enough club that it wasn’t so much “Oh, you’re good at this, you can do it” as “You want to help? Alright, could you learn how to do this?”

Charles: Exactly, there was a lot of that. There was a lot of multitasking in the crew; we were like, “Someone needs to hold this camera. Just hold it. You don’t even have to do anything, just hold the thing.” There were a lot of people, but at the end of the day it actually wasn’t quite as big as it could have been.

Thomas: When it came to filming the spaceship shot, I basically just filmed that in my living room, and got my mum to help. So she’s listed as one of the credits. In the end, it wasn’t a huge crew. It must have been… ten people involved in total?

DWCA: Are you happy with the finished product?

Thomas: I’m happy. We wanted to have it very Doctor Who flavoured, and the other thing I wanted to have was plenty of UNSW references, because it was there. That final twist – was that one of the things that we came up with on the first day?

Ewan: I think that was part of the core plot; that the library was actually a TARDIS.

Charles: The enormous thing that was in every single shot.

Sarah: It was very fun sitting in the audience just now, listening to the people in the back going, “Is it the library?”

DWCA: Do you have any advice for anyone who might be considering doing their own fan film?

Charles: Plan. No seriously, make sure that you have everyone’s schedules mapped out like 16 months in advance. Make sure everything lines up, make sure that you have a good group of people to work with. ‘Cos that, I think, is also key. If you have people who are willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everything’s in place, and they’re willing to sacrifice and stuff, then you’re going to have a much better experience overall.

Thomas: But conversely, as well as having to plan ahead, when stuff doesn’t go right, you’ve got to be a bit flexible as well. So be prepared for that to happen. Because our filming ended up getting pushed back, we ended up having our last filming day during the university shutdown period, which meant that we didn’t have any access to indoor facilities. So some scenes which happen outside, they only take place outside because that was all we had access to. Again, plan ahead, but in the event that planning ahead doesn’t end up covering everything, you’ve got to be ready to improvise.

Ewan: But then also, go for it. ‘Cos sometimes those restrictions lead to a better product than if we just sat, planning for years and years and gone, “Well, we might get around to filming this eventually.”

Thomas: Our whole UNIT scene? That happened because one of our writers was going to play a UNIT representative, but unfortunately he had a very limited time in which he could appear, and we couldn’t get his role working in time. So that’s when we rewrote and came up with the secret UNIT base scene, which was one of our crew members’ garages. We just came to Antonia’s house and said, “Hey Antonia, can we use your garage?”

***

Thomas, Sarah, Charles and Ewan appeared at the DWCA day event ‘Joker in the Pack’, which was themed around comedy in Doctor Who. The club’s next Sydney day event will be held on 19 May and is themed ‘Animations and Adaptations’, in honour of the recent animation of The Macra Terror. More information on the event can be found here and pre-orders for The Macra Terror can be placed here.

6 strategies for surviving the Doctor Who gap year

Two months after the broadcast of Resolution – the only full-length new episode of Doctor Who we can expect to see in 2019 – some fans may be starting to feel the itch that comes with the knowledge that the next series is at least another nine months away. The good news is, a year with no Doctor Who on telly doesn’t have to mean a year with no Doctor Who at all. Just follow these tips and the year will pass in no time at all.

Get into the classics

If you started with the revived series in 2005, this is the perfect opportunity to go back to see where it all began. With the classic series containing a whopping 695 episodes broadcast over 26 years, there’s certainly plenty of content available – and a lot of it is more accessible to new viewers than you may think, so you can start wherever you like and see where you end up. There are also some exciting things happening in Classic Doctor Who this year, with the continuation of complete season collections on Blu-ray and the release of a brand new animated reconstruction of a lost classic, The Macra Terror – so it’s the perfect time to embrace your curiosity about Classic Who. You can find several classic series titles in our online shop, and you can check out our guide for getting started on the classic series here.

Get into the spin-offs

Spin-off series further exploring the lives of supporting characters may be common place now, but bar a failed attempt in the early ’80s, it wasn’t until 2006 that Doctor Who boasted its own full length spin-off series. Torchwood ran for four series: the first two – overseen by current Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall – have something of a cult status, and were followed by the universally praised mini series Children of Earth and experimental American co-production Miracle Day. Children’s programme The Sarah Jane Adventures meanwhile provided five seasons of great entertainment to the young and the young at heart. Mention should also be given to the criminally underrated Class, which had the makings of something great but was sadly not renewed for a second season. There’s even a semi-obscure children’s series starring K9 that was produced in Australia! If you missed out on viewing one or all of these programmes, it’s time to track them down.

Go beyond television

Doctor Who tie-in material has existed since the very early days of the programme – via the short stories and comics contained in the Doctor Who Annuals, for example – but it was during the ‘Wilderness Years’ between the end of the classic series in 1989 and the revival in 2005, that officially licensed original material really blossomed. Both the Seventh and Eighth Doctors have whole ranges of novels devoted entirely to their off-screen escapades, and Doctors 1-6 didn’t miss out on their own written adventures either. The books continue to this day with adventures for the Doctors of the 21st century. And if you prefer your Doctor Who brought to life by the original actors, Big Finish Productions has been producing its own audio dramas since 1999, featuring all your favourite classic Doctor and companion teams as well as a few new ones. The DWCA is one a small number of distributors of Big Finish audio in Australia – check out our range here.

Get creative

With no new stories being officially released in 2019, why not make up your own? It’s easier than ever to produce your own content these days, from filming your own episode on your smartphone to making fan art, producing your own props and cosplays, or even rattling out some good old fashioned fan fiction (remember, that’s how writers such as Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss got their start!). There are also plenty of outlets on the Internet for you to share your creations – and if you’d prefer to see your work in print, you can even submit to fanzines such as the DWCA’s own Data Extract, ensuring that your work is viewed by a loyal community of fans.

Speaking of which…

Get involved in fandom

Regular folk may not be interested in talking about Doctor Who when it’s not on air, but Doctor Who fans certainly are! That’s why fan clubs such as the DWCA are a great way of keeping the spirit of Doctor Who alive even when the show is taking a break. So if you want to meet with other fans to gush about your favourite Doctors, watch your favourite episodes, compete in games and quizzes, or just spend time in each other’s company, we encourage you to see what fan events are going on near you.

Do it all over again

We suspect that if you were to take on board all these suggestions, and to retroactively apply them from January onwards, you would be unlikely to finish all the things before Series 12 rolls around in early 2020. But if by any chance you have done, or if you’ve at least taken on as much as you’re willing to handle right now, there’s plenty of joy to be had in re-watching, re-reading or re-listening to some of the wonderful stories that make up the Whoniverse – from the comfort that comes from experiencing an old favourite, to the delight of picking up on a hidden joke or reference you hadn’t understood before. Yes, brand new episodes of Doctor Who are exciting, but that doesn’t mean we have to neglect the old ones.

So there you have it! Don’t treat 2019 as a year without Doctor Who – treat it as a year where you can craft your own Doctor Who journey. Come 2020, you’ll be well and truly primed for new adventures in time and space.

Gareth David-Lloyd talks gaming

GARETH David-Lloyd’s Ianto Jones was a flirt and a tease – in his own way.

But nothing compares to the Torchwood actor himself. The first time I interviewed him was just before the screening of series three of Torchwood. I had been sent just the first two episodes so was blissfully unaware that Ianto would buy the farm in the third and he played on that – big time, not in a mean way (it was one of the best and most fun interviews I’ve done in a three-decade career).

But he no-one could ever accuse him of breaking confidentiality and he got me big time. My story came out the day before the series went out without a hint of Ianto’s death and it was as big of a shock to this journalist as the rest of the fan base.

Now he’s done it again – most probably.

Late last year, as he prepared to come to Australia again for Supanova in Brisbane, we talked again.

He was quieter this time, more grown up – a dad now – not just weeks from his wedding last time and I thought I’d got a great honest interview.

But once again he was holding his cards close to his chest.

This time the question was about his roles in Dragon Age, the BioWare game where he followed in Torchwood cast mate Eve Myles’ footsteps and played and Elf.

“It’s Eve’s fault I got Dragon Age,” he’d joked.

“She was cast and they liked the accent – so all of the Elves are Welsh or Celtic.

“That’s why Solace has that nice Welsh cadence.”

And why, he explained, he got the part.

We talked about how much he enjoyed it – how different it was – and I asked the question, would you do more Dragon Age if you could?

He said yes he would, but there were no immediate plans.

Over Christmas my excited Torchwood/Dragon Age fangirl daughter almost bounced out of her skin – a teaser trailer had dropped for the fourth game in the series and guess who it seems the main villain is?

He’d got me again.

Though to be fair, looking back, he’d hesitated when I asked.

But not only does it look like he is back, but (spoilers) it seems Solace could now be tied to the main bad guy – Dread Wolf – in a fourth game that is still heavily under wraps, despite a teaser and a rumoured release date of the Australian spring – this year.

At the time he had been more talkative about his “other project”, Black River Meadow – a piece he had written, produced and crowdfunded for release on YouTube.

He joined forces with Twisted Showcase web anthology creator and writer Robin Bell to create Dark Valley Productions and bring the world of Black River Meadow to computer screens around the world. It is hoped that the trilogy (which featured his daughter in episode one) will be successful enough to become a full-length television drama.

“There is so much mystery and drama in the Welsh Valleys and the Brecon Beacons,” he said in our interview at Supanova and repeats on the Black River Meadows webpage.

“When conditions are just so. When the mist hangs in such a way that paths dissolve, valleys breath and mountains sway, feelings of awe, dread, wonder and terror can consume a person.”

Black River Meadow I: The Hiding can be viewed below. The Kickstarter campaign for Black River Meadow II: The Lure will be launched on 26 February.

Every Episode of Series 11, As Ranked By You

Series 11 of Doctor Who is now done and dusted, but how did it rate with Australian fans? After each week’s broadcast, we asked followers of our Facebook page to indicate whether they found the latest episode “great” or “not so great”. So which one came out on top? The results, from least-liked to most-liked, are presented below!

10. The Tsuranga Conundrum (61% positive)

Coming in last place was the The Tsuranga Conundrum, which saw the Doctor and her companions strive to save their spaceship from the adorable but deadly “Pting”. But while some viewers enjoyed the performances, the character development and the Pting itself, many were underwhelmed by the storyline, with commenters describing the episode as “okay”, “filler”, “fine”, “mediocre” and “meh”. So not an awful episode, but not one that got fans particularly excited either.

9. Arachnids in the UK (63% positive)

This was a divisive episode in more ways than one, in that it had several elements our followers either loved or hated. Many found the spiders suitably scary, while others found them difficult to watch for that very same reason. Some found themselves laughing knowingly at Donald Trump surrogate Jack Robertson (played by Chris Noth), while others found the real-life parallels too close for comfort. One thing that many agreed on is that the episode ended quite abruptly, leaving the audience questioning the fate of both Robertson and the trapped spiders – a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion.

8. It Takes You Away (75% positive)

The penultimate episode of the season appeared to have everything going for it: a spooky set-up, a journey through a hellish landscape, and some much-needed closure for Graham as he comes to terms with Grace’s death. It also had a sentient universe that eventually manifested itself as a talking frog, which many found wonderfully weird but others simply could not take seriously. So while the episode was still well received, there are many people who believe that, as one of our commenters put it, “it jumped the frog near the end”.

7. The Witchfinders (78.9% positive)

Light in tone despite its dark subject matter, The Witchfinders marked a return to the “historical romp” that has been a recurring feature of the revived series (and was quite a regular occurrence in the ’60s). It was a very welcome return according to our followers, with many calling it the best episode of the season and the two guest performers receiving particular praise – Siabhon Finneran (Becka) for her “gravitas” and Alan Cumming for his scenery-chewing performance as King James I (although one commenter described the character as “overplayed”). A solid, fun episode, then – and they only rate better from here on in.

6. The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos (79.1% positive)

Praised by our commenters as “tense as hell” and “the most engaging [episode] yet”, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos received kudos for focusing on Graham’s inner turmoil, rather than attempting to outdo the world-ending threats of previous season finales. Yet this approach did not sway all our voters, with many saying the episode was good or even great, but somewhat lacking as a finale. It may very well have rated even higher had it been placed elsewhere in the season.

5. Demons of the Punjab (79.3% positive)

A tragic love story set during the Partition of India, Demons of the Punjab was described by our commenters as a moving, emotional piece of drama. But while many enjoyed learning about a relatively unknown historical event, others said they were “getting a bit tired” of historicals – with one commenter saying the episode was an okay piece of television but simply didn’t feel like Doctor Who. Its large cast of characters also divided fans, with some enjoying the ensemble nature of the episode but others feeling that the Doctor was upstaged, particularly by Bradley Walsh in a very moving performance as Graham. Make sure you have the tissues on hand for this one.

4. The Ghost Monument (81% positive)

The first off-world adventure for the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends, The Ghost Monument takes our heroes across the sweeping deserts of Desolation, encountering a ruthless racemaster (Art Malik), killer robots and creepy bandage creatures along the way. A lot of praise for the episode seems to surround the reveal of the redesigned TARDIS interior, as well as the new opening title sequence and theme tune – not to mention the strong dynamics of the newly formed TARDIS team. So while the plot itself was described by at least one commenter as “forgettable”, other elements worked well enough for many to consider this one a bit of a favourite.

3. Kerblam! (84% positive)

Seven episodes into Series 11, many of our followers found Kerblam! was the first to evoke the feel of old-school Doctor Who. Deadly robots are of course a staple of both classic and revived Who, while the allegorical nature of the story reminded some people of the Seventh Doctor’s era. Many even thought the killer bubble wrap was an amusing nod to the show’s limited budget during the classic series! There were however those who found the ending a letdown, with Charlie’s rebellion overshadowing Kerblam!’s exploitation of its workers. So enjoyable on the surface level, but it does fall apart if you start thinking about it.

2. Rosa (87% positive)

“Outstanding”, “phenomenal”, “beautiful”, “brilliant”… Rosa certainly received high praise from our commenters, thanks in no small part to a superb performance from Vinette Robinson in the title role. Unafraid to address racism and the civil rights movement in what is arguably the most raw and upfront manner in Doctor Who’s history, the episode did attract a few detractors as a result – many of whom expressed their discomfort at the subject matter. Reactions were also mixed towards the villainous Krasko, with many believing he could (and should) have been removed altogether. Nevertheless, the episode remains highly acclaimed.

1. The Woman Who Fell to Earth (89% positive)

With both Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall having their fair share of naysayers ahead of the series launch, the first episode of Series 11 had to be something special. And that it was – our commenters took to the Thirteenth Doctor straight away, enjoying her energy, her humour, her quirkiness, and the traces of other young, manic Doctors they could see inside her. The supporting characters were also described as very well rounded, with commenters disappointed that the (sadly doomed) Grace did not get her chance to explore the universe. And while the plot itself was not rated as particularly groundbreaking, the episode did exactly what it needed to do – it convinced people to come back for more. And given how sceptical some people were about Series 11 to begin with, that in itself is to be applauded.

Want to participate in future polls and surveys? We post new questions on our Facebook page on a regular basis, encouraging our followers to have their say on all things Doctor Who. Find us now by heading over to https://www.facebook.com/drwhoaustralia/, and vote in our Resolution poll now!

Knowing the Score: We chat with Segun Akinola

Imagine being told you had the job of a lifetime while standing in the liquor section of your local supermarket.

Doctor Who’s latest musical composer, British-Nigerian Segun Akinola, chuckles when he tells that story and you know he will be dining out on it for years to come.

“I was in the wine aisle when I got this call from Chris – there was a lot of background noise,” he said. And though it was offered, there was no chance that Segun was going to take the call later – because let’s face it, when you get a life changing phone call you hang up!

“It was really surreal. I was just walking up and down the aisle thinking I should just buy the mulled wine and go home.”

The phone call was the end of what had been a long audition process which included putting together a piece of music for the show – a piece that obviously impressed both Chris Chibnall and fellow Executive Producer Matt Strevens ,as it became the Doctor’s theme.

And so it was that the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire alumni was chosen to replace the beloved Murray Gold, who had been the man behind the music of the show since it returned. And with him he has brought a new sound to the program using everything from Punjabi musicians (recorded at Abbey Road) to dub-step and music to evoke the US in the ’50s.

They were big shoes for Segun, who had initially learned the piano and drums at an early age before turning his attention to composition, graduating from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with first-class honours and the National Film and Television School with an MA in Composing for Film and Television, before being part of the BAFTA Breakthrough Brit program in 2017.

And while his selection was a surprise for fans, it wasn’t entirely unexpected.

“I’ve done quite a bit of work with the BBC,” he explained and so when he was asked to audition it was not entirely shocking.

“But it’s not every Wednesday morning you find out you are being considered for Doctor Who.”

A meeting with Matt Strevens and Skyping with Chris Chibnall and it became apparent that they already knew his work on Black and British: A Forgotten History and Exhibition Volcano and he felt “welcome from the start” despite not really being a fan of the show.

“I hadn’t really watched Doctor Who – I always knew about it, it is such an important part of British Society,” he explained.

“I knew about it musically, I knew about Murray Gold and what he’d done with bringing this great orchestral sound to the small screen.

“But I didn’t have anyone in my social group saying, ‘watch it’.”

Of course, as he went through the selection process he began to watch and is now a fan.

However, coming from the outside may have helped the young composer, who explained that both Strevens and Chibnall wanted him to put his own stamp on the show.

And this brings us to what is probably the most talked about part of his tenure so far – the reimagining of the theme song and THAT beat drop. Preparing for this interview, that was the question that kept coming up – ask him about the beat drop in the theme song.

Segun laughs and explained that even in the early meetings it was very apparent that Chris and Matt had the same idea he had – taking the theme back to the original, while they were also very keen to put his own stamp on the shows music and make it his own.

“They said we have people who know all about the music – bring some of yourself to them,” Segun explained.

“I always thought that if anything was going to be done to the theme song then I was thinking you had to go back to the original, which I did. But that beat-drop, that’s me, that’s who I am. I used it a few times in the first few episodes.”

And while he dropped his signature beat drop through the middle of the season, listen out for more as we head to the end – which he was still working on during this interview in late November.

And the other big question – will we see his music at big orchestral concerts like his predecessor? Well while there are no plans, the affable 20-something said it was something he’d love to see in the future – and given the different types of music used in the show this series, it would be another big challenge (something he seems to relish).

Barrowman back Down Under

JOHN Barrowman has a soft spot for Australia – he’s been here four times in the past year and if he has his way he’ll be back again in 2019.

The actor who brought the iconic Captain Jack to life in the Whoniverse, before playing DC supervillain Malcolm Merlin in Arrow is here Australia, for Supanova. Last week he took Adelaide by storm (building his own Tim Tam Jenga with husband Scott) and this weekend it will be Brisbane’s turn.

Our chat by phone is “timey wimey”. It’s 5.16pm on 23 October in Palm Springs and after 11am Sydney time on 24 October. He’s quick to point out I’m talking to him from the future, instantly relaxing both of us in a way neither probably feels.

This is one of two days off he has before he comes to Australia (perhaps before he takes time off for Christmas and downtime in January, and I’m on deadline for other projects). And yet here we are chatting like old friends who have never met – he is in an interview just what you see on stage – friendly, funny and totally natural.

He’s keen to talk about Australia, the continuing love out there for Captain Jack and how teenaged girls see his Malcolm Merlin as a father figure, even though he’s definitely no poster-child for perfect parenting.

We start with Australia and his four trips to this country this year.

“We like Australia, we think it’s a fun place to go,” he admits when I ask why.

“We are going to be in Adelaide and Brisbane for Supanova and my husband Scott is going to be planning the itinerary for our week off.”

This trip is very much a family affair, with John and Scott being joined by John’s sister author Carole Barrowman for both events.

And it’s not all Pop Culture festivals for the versatile and bubbly Barrowman – the man is an entertainer with a capital E. He sings, dances, presents and acts and earlier in the year he brought his musical talents to this country and he hopes to be back.

“Having done such a successful show in Melbourne we are looking to do it around other cities,” he said.
“The Centre where we performed is interested.

“We are yet to solidify dates but if it does happen then it will be in the year.”

And maybe it will be a chance for Barrowman and husband Scott to do a bit more house hunting in Australia.

“When we were on the Gold Coast we looked at a high-rise,” he explained. While the couple decided against that particular place, he hasn’t ruled out buying something here in Australia.

“That was just the Gold Coast. Never say never – we haven’t ruled out buying something in Australia.”

The Glasgow-born star has been spotted at Southbank in Brisbane and several places around Adelaide since arriving in the country, clearly enjoying our weather and our hospitality.

However, it is back to work now with a series of panels across the weekend including with his former Torchwood co-star Gareth David-Lloyd, who joked that John wouldn’t enjoy sharing a stage – and while that is probably not true, it is true that John Barrowman, who is fresh from filming in Vancouver and also has a role as the bad guy in the new Fireman Sam movie, loves a stage.

“I know what I was put on this planet to do and that was to entertain people,” he laughed.

“That’s why it comes easily,” he says of his over-the-top and often event-stealing panels at Cons. And don’t expect anything other than to have fun when you go to see him, he sure will.

“People can expect more or the same,” John said.

“I don’t plan anything… I just let it happen.”

And one thing he has made no secret in wanting to happen is more Captain Jack.

Is it more likely now that former Torchwood Showrunner Chris Chibnall is Who’s main man?

“If I was asked I would do it,” John said (and has said many times in the past).

“It’s up to Chris, it’s his show and as we’ve seen so far he is doing a brilliant job with Jodie and the new companions!

“He was our showrunner on Torchwood, he has a great track record and he knows Captain Jack really well!”

You can catch John Barrowman, his sister Carole and Gareth David-Lloyd at Supanova in Brisbane this weekend and, fingers-crossed, coming to a stage near you early next year.

Say Her Name: We Meet Thirteenth Doctor Writer Juno Dawson

Australian readers will soon be able to experience the exploits of the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends in written form, with the release this month of three new novels from BBC Books: The Good Doctor, Molten Heart and Combat Magicks.

The first of these, The Good Doctor, was conceived by award-winning author Juno Dawson, who has made her name as a writer of edgy YA fiction and was named a “Queen of Teen” in 2014. Dawson came to Sydney a few months ago as part of a tour promoting her latest book, and during the Q&A session we were lucky enough to hear a few anecdotes about how she came to be involved in the Whoniverse.

Dawson’s big break came about in one of the most unexpected places – at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. She was attending the event with a friend, who just happened to know James Goss – a long-time writer and producer for Doctor Who, these days kept busy with regular work at Big Finish Productions. At the time, Goss was looking for writers for Big Finish’s new Torchwood audio drama range, being developed with Russell T Davies and set to take place after Miracle Day. Before she knew it, Dawson was sent an offer to write for the series: an opportunity too good to miss.

The series eventually came to be known as Aliens Among Us and saw Torchwood return to its home in Cardiff with the introduction of several new team members – including the alien Orr, a gender-neutral, genetically engineered sexual psychomorph who changes their appearance based on the desire of whoever is in their company. Created by Davies, Orr’s introductory episode was written by Dawson – a writer who could relate to Orr on some level given her own identity as a transgender woman.

While Dawson was initially recruited to work on Aliens Among Us, production on the series was somewhat delayed, particularly due to the limited availability of stars John Barrowman and Eve Myles. In the meantime she was commissioned to write another story, this time for the Torchwood single-disc range. This was The Dollhouse, part of the “expanded” Torchwood universe which sees the organisation pop up in times and places other than 21st century Cardiff. In the case of The Dollhouse, the setting is 1970s Los Angeles and the heroes are three brave and beautiful young women. The result is a fun and clever homage to Charlie’s Angels with a very Torchwood twist.

But while Torchwood is the only Doctor Who spin-off that Dawson has written for to date, she came very close to writing for another. She revealed during the event that she was actually commissioned to write for the (never-produced) second season of Class, the spin-off series set at Coal Hill Academy and originally broadcast in 2016. The first season was written entirely by creator Patrick Ness, who is himself a prominent YA author, and he was keen to get others like himself on board for the show’s second season – in spite of the fact that the BBC were pushing for more established screenwriters.

But Ness persisted, with Dawson and several other YA authors eventually commissioned prior to the broadcast of the show’s first season. Dawson even visited the set in preparation of writing her episode, noting with amusement that the show’s stars were several years older than their teenage counterparts. Unfortunately, the first season received mixed reviews and low viewing figures – something which Dawson attributes to the BBC’s decision to debut the show on the online channel BBC Three, before repeating it late at night on BBC One several months later. So while she still knows exactly what her episode was going to be about, the BBC’s decision to cancel the series means she sadly may never have the chance to write it.

So what of her new novel, The Good Doctor? Dawson was not able to share a great deal, with the event having taken place weeks before the series launch date was even announced. She did however reveal that she was able to view three minutes of Series 11 footage as part of her research process, leading her to describe the Thirteenth Doctor as “immediate”. She also admitted that, as the Doctor was the primary focus of the footage, characterising the other leads involved a bit of guesswork. The BBC clearly had a lot of faith in Dawson’s writing ability, and given all the stories she shared over the course of the event, we’re inclined to agree!

The Good Doctor is available now as an e-book. It will be released in Australia as an audiobook on 15 November and in hardback form on 19 November, alongside Molten Heart and Combat Magicks.

Every introduction to a new Doctor, ranked

With the Thirteenth Doctor about to land on our screens, we thought we would take a look at each of the previous stories to introduce a new Doctor and see how they all stack up, from the not-so-great, to the greatest of all time.

12. The Twin Dilemma (The Sixth Doctor)

There’s a lot to unpack in The Twin Dilemma (it may be the most notorious Doctor Who story of all time), and it’s probably impossible to do it all justice in such a short space. Nevertheless it should be said that whilst the production has a litany of flaws, the central idea of the new Doctor’s seemingly unlikeable characterisation is in fact a good one – that the Doctor’s swerving from overconfidence to self-loathing from moment to moment can still provoke a sense of unease so many years on is a testament to just how compelling an idea it is. Unfortunately, this idea is hampered at almost every turn (there’s Peter Moffatt’s flat and uninspired direction, the lack of an emotional through-line for the Doctor’s companion Peri and that scene just to name a few) and whilst there is some improvement in the second half, there’s still a feeling that what should be the most exciting thing about the story comes across as merely another troubled element in an introduction that’s a bit of a mess.

11. Robot (The Fourth Doctor)

Whilst the Fourth Doctor remains one of the most popular in the series history, his first adventure feels like a bit of a misfire. Robot is more a victory lap for the Third Doctor’s era than a bold new beginning, with the overall tone being cosy and comfortable. There’s a cartoonish quality that permeates the story – complete with a cardigan-wearing scientist and an envelope containing nuclear codes with ‘TOP SECRET’ written in large, friendly letters on the front – so ultimately it’s hard not to see this story as something of a lightweight. A few eccentricities aside, the story doesn’t have anything terribly interesting for the new Doctor to do, so Tom Baker’s first performance in the role is competent, but hardly remarkable – much like the story itself.

10. Castrovalva (The Fifth Doctor)

Coming off the back of seven seasons of Tom Baker’s boisterous and confident Fourth Doctor, Castrovalva’s big new idea is to make the new Doctor vulnerable. It does this by putting him in a fragile post-regenerative state, to the extent that complex architecture makes him feel a bit faint (no, really). There’s an interesting structure to the story, with an initial plot centred on the regular cast segueing into a larger plot concerning the titular city, all stitched together by the Doctor’s need to recuperate. This does well for introducing the new Doctor, showing off some of his strengths early on despite his poor condition, but the rest of the regular cast are underused – Adric is kept away from the main action until the story’s climax, whilst newish companions Tegan and Nyssa spend several scenes talking about the plot or climbing over rocks instead of properly getting to know eachother. The end result is a story that is pleasantly odd in its own quiet way.

9. The TV Movie (The Eighth Doctor)

The TV Movie boasts some impressive visuals, with loads of great directorial and design touches – the decision to intercut the regeneration scene with footage from Frankenstein is inspired. But its best moments are when it’s being a bit self-aware and undercutting the cheesy cliches that come with the kind of story it is telling, though sometimes it can’t help but play them straight. As an American co-production it also has to burden itself with a fair bit of continuity, plonking in an extended cameo from the Seventh Doctor and some hefty dollops of Time Lord mythology, as if to say ‘yep, it’s still the same show’. Despite some good moments, the script may be the weak link – with a clock motif that feels a bit too literal and dialogue that occasionally feels dumbed down.  Ultimately, the TV Movie probably benefits from being a one-off, with the sense of it being a temporary interlude helping to forgive some of its stranger missteps. For one night only, Doctor Who is a ’90s American TV show, for better or for worse.

8. The Christmas Invasion (The Tenth Doctor)

With the return of Mickey, Jackie and the Powell Estate, much of this feels like a business-as-usual continuation of the Ninth Doctor’s era – and largely it is. There’s the same sense of fun, with some neat sight gags in the shape of deadly brass band Santas and a destructive whirling dervish of a Christmas tree. The new Doctor gets a mini-plot dealing with the ‘pilot fish’ Santas in the first act of the episode, allowing him to then be out of the action again until the climax. When he’s not unconscious, the Doctor isn’t really given anything particularly interesting to do, but he is noticeably cheekier, and friendlier than his predecessor. Whilst there isn’t anything particularly bad about the episode, there’s nothing amazing either and there’s an overall sense of okayness about the whole thing.

7. Deep Breath (The Twelfth Doctor)

Doctor Who was in a strange place around the time of Deep Breath – the recent 50th anniversary saw the program ascend to the height of its powers in terms of popularity, but creatively it was feeling as if it was starting to stagnate. Deep Breath has the paradoxical task of refreshing a show that is stuck in a rut whilst reassuring the audience that nothing has changed and the show is still a smash-hit. Unsurprisingly, the end result is a bit of a mixed bag, with some elements that work (an unknowable, unpredictable new Doctor who has a fantastic dynamic with companion Clara) and others that don’t (the shoehorning of a crush on the old Doctor into Clara’s characterisation, the Paternoster Gang not being given much to do), but by and large it succeeds where it really matters

6. Time and the Rani (The Seventh Doctor)

The fan community tends to take introductory stories rather seriously – they are meant to be big, momentous occasions tasked with the important job of jettisoning what didn’t work in the previous era, retaining what did and demonstrating a confidence that reassures fans that the show can keep going. Time and the Rani doesn’t bother with these fannish expectations at all, instead delivering some lively action, weapons-grade goofiness and the odd bit of physical comedy to re-establish the idea that Doctor Who is a show that is actually fun to watch. It’s something close to a classic series version of Partners in Crime, with the Doctor and his companion Mel narrowly missing each other on a number of occasions and then later each accusing the other of being an imposter. Much of the supporting cast aren’t anything to write home about, but Sylvester McCoy (the Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel) and Kate O’Mara (The Rani) bring a sense of fun to proceedings that is positively infectious. You’d have to be a total killjoy to not get some entertainment out of this.

It’s also the source of this gif, which has to count for something.

5. The Eleventh Hour (The Eleventh Doctor)

Back in 2010, this felt like the new showrunner Steven Moffat playing it safe – and, given how popular the Tenth Doctor had become, perhaps it was sensible to do so. Looking at it now however, it seems so full of Moffat’s signature double meanings and structural cleverness that it’s hard to not see this as a bold statement piece. Many of the main themes of the era are present from the beginning – perhaps most notably the theme of childhood. There’s a great scene where the Doctor convinces new companion Amy of who he is by reminding her of her childhood memories, metaphorically reminding the audience that this is the same character that many viewers hold a strong childhood affection for. It’s not without its failings, with the pace dragging in some of the final scenes and a Doctor whose characterisation doesn’t go much beyond ‘has drunk too much red cordial’, but this makes for a confident start to a new era.

4. Spearhead from Space (The Third Doctor)

Spearhead From Space signals one of the biggest changes in Doctor Who’s history. After many years as a show that could be set anywhere, anywhen, Doctor Who came down to Earth to be set in what was more or less the here and now. Making UNIT a key part of the ongoing show was part of the new format, and the story handles this by making the UNIT characters, including commanding officer Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and scientific adviser Liz Shaw (soon to fulfil the role of the Doctor’s companion) drive the main action for the first two episodes before the Doctor comes into his own in the back half. Liz is a great, if underrated, character with an intelligence and maturity that makes her a great match for the new Doctor. There’s also a (sadly temporary) transition to shooting the whole programme on location and on film, which kicks the production values up several notches and results in some of the best action sequences in the series to date. There’s an annoying poacher character and a slightly embarrassing tentacle monster at the climax, but by and large this is sterling stuff.

3. Rose (The Ninth Doctor)

Watching in 2018, Rose may seem like a small-scale, unremarkable story considering everything that has come since its first broadcast. However, there’s an awful lot packed into its 45 minute running length, communicating the foundations of the show in a pacy, entertaining way.  Back in 2005, Rose had the tricky task of reintroducing Doctor Who to a mainstream audience that was much less geeky than that of today. It manages this by placing the story in an everyday, unglamourous setting and then throwing lots of adventure and excitement into it, so that the Doctor crashes into Rose’s ordinary world in the same way that Doctor Who crashes into the ordinary, not-particularly-geeky world of the general audience. It helps that the balance between drama and comedy is just right, with the tongue in exactly the right spot of the cheek, making this one of the most well-judged episodes of Doctor Who ever made.

2. An Unearthly Child (The First Doctor)

There’s no doubt that the first episode of this adventure, introducing the two schoolteachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, their mysterious pupil Susan, a passive-aggressive old man called the Doctor and his impossible timeship the TARDIS is an outright classic. Some regard the remaining three episodes, featuring the four lead characters captured and threatened by a bunch of monosyllabic cavepeople, as less than stellar, but in fact the two portions of the story are enormously complementary – in particular, Barbara and Ian being out of their depth in the high-tech environment of the TARDIS is wonderfully mirrored by how out of depth all the travellers feel in the prehistoric setting that follows and there are strong themes throughout concerning the relationship between technology and power. The writing is full of tense and thrilling moments which the cast play deadly seriously and there’s a sense that everyone involved is giving this strange new show the best possible chance of success with the limited resources at their disposal. It’s not just the beginning of a legend, it’s a great piece of drama in its own right.

1. The Power of the Daleks (The Second Doctor)

At six 25 minute episodes in length, Power of the Daleks is the longest story on this list, but fortunately it has plenty going on to sustain it. Aside from the Dalek plot revolving around the scientist Lesterson and his experiments to bring them back to life to aid an Earth colony, there’s also the political machinations going on in the wider human population and a good chunk of material devoted to companions Ben and Polly trying to figure out just who really is this dark-haired stranger that claims to be the Doctor. All of these strands end up revolving around the relationship between the Doctor and the Daleks – both of them pretending to be something they are not, and yet each of them verifying the true nature of the other. The guest cast are strong (especially Robert James’ Lesteron), the Daleks are at their devious best and the unpredictable new Doctor is electrifying. When it comes to introductory adventures, Power of the Daleks is the one to beat.

And that’s how all the introductory stories stack up. Looking at them as a group, they are a diverse bunch of stories, each with their own distinct tone and each having their own particular goals when it comes to transforming Doctor Who. Additionally, there should be an honourable mention for The Day of the Doctor, the sole full-length War Doctor story, which manages to contain a pretty solid emotional arc for the troubled warrior incarnation amongst all the celebratory bells and whistles. It’s also worth pointing out that some of the most popular Doctors are in the bottom half of this list, so even in the event that the Thirteenth Doctor’s first episode doesn’t turn out to be the best ever, that doesn’t mean that she won’t go on to have a popularity that endures.

7 ways Chris Chibnall is reinventing Doctor Who

We’re now only one month away from the first episode of Doctor Who’s eleventh series, and it’s becoming ever clearer that showrunner Chris Chibnall has some big plans for his first series at the helm. With a new Doctor, new companions and a new vision, how does Chibnall plan on making this 55-year-old programme shiny and new again? Here are a few examples.

A New Logo

One of the the earliest indications of Chibnall’s vision for the series started with the release of a new logo back in February. A significant departure from the Moffat era’s big, blocky, blue logo, Chibnall’s opts for a warmer colour scheme and slimmer lettering – perhaps in an attempt to make the series come across as more friendly and inviting for new viewers. This new style has been extended to other aspects of the series publicity, with promotional images featuring bright, bold colours. Significantly, the new logo has been applied to all Doctor Who merchandise released since its reveal – whether classic series or new – thus uniting the entire history of the show under one banner and affirming that it is all part of the one universe.

A New Look

The logo is far from being the only visual change to the series – a brand new camera and lens combination is being introduced for Series 11, providing it with a whole new visual style. Since the return of the programme in 2005, Doctor Who’s look has become increasingly cinematic, with a least one of the series’ directors, Ben Wheatley, already having a list of film credits to their name. Even though the look of the show is already very cinematic, the new setup promises to take things even further, with post-production house Films at 59, who are supplying BBC Studios with the cameras and lenses, describing the new look as a “monumental leap”.

A New Night

The move to Sunday evenings in the UK (and Mondays in Australia) may seem like a bit of a strange move, given Doctor Who’s traditional “Saturday teatime” slot, but could well pay off for the BBC as a way of capturing a new audience. Don’t forget that the ABC broadcast Series 1-3 on Saturday nights then moved to Sundays from Series 4 – and got an instant increase in ratings, attracting viewers who were having quiet nights at home in the lead-up to school or work the next day. Let’s see if the BBC can replicate this success!

New Friends

For the first time since the early 1980s, the Doctor will have not one, not two, but three companions! It’s an approach that should provide a new kind of dynamic amongst the regular cast and give the show more of a family feel, with the TARDIS team of Ryan, Yaz and Graham likely to complement each other while also relating to the Doctor – and to each other – in their own particular way. Significantly, the new team are often referred to as the Doctor’s “friends” rather than “companions” in BBC marketing material – a much warmer descriptor which more or less puts them on equal footing with the Doctor.

A New Episode Length

One of the key descriptors of Doctor Who’s revived series would be “pacy”, with whole stories often told in the space of 45 minutes or less – with room for the occasional two-parter or special episode. By contrast, Series 11 will begin with a 60-minute opener followed by nine 50-minute episodes – and while an extension of 5 minutes per episode may not seem like much, it can actually be a long time in a television environment, where the editing process can be ruthless and key scenes are often cut due to time restrictions. The extension should thus allow for more plot, more character development and more room to breathe in each standalone episode. This may also mean that there will be fewer (if any) “filler” stories to stretch the series out to 12 or 13 episodes – by instead focusing on telling ten carefully crafted stories, we could end up with an entire series where every episode is just as significant as the next.

New Music

One of the biggest transitions of the new series will be a change of composer, with Murray Gold having stepped down from his position after an impressive 12 years and 125 episodes. Gold’s orchestral scores have been a mainstay of Doctor Who since its return in 2005, so it’s fair to say he has big shoes to fill. The composer selected for the task? Segun Akinola, a member of the BAFTA Breakthrough Brit program in 2017 and a rising star among British composers. Akinola has mainly composed for documentaries in recent years but has also covered short films and even the video game Godsweeper, so he clearly has the versatility to adapt his skills to different genres. We’re particularly keen to hear his unique take on the iconic Doctor Who theme!

New Voices

There will be even more big changes behind the scenes of the programme, with five new writers and four new directors contributing to Series 11. That’s right – apart from Chibnall himself, all nine are brand new to televised Doctor Who, though former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman did write a Seventh Doctor short story for the programme’s 50th anniversary and director Jamie Childs was responsible for Jodie Whittaker’s reveal as the new Doctor. More importantly, all have very impressive CVs and are united by a love of Doctor Who, with Chibnall saying “they are awesome people as well as brilliant at their job… And they’ve all worked above and beyond the call of duty in an effort to bring audiences something special”.


Image credit: Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s clear that Doctor Who truly has undergone something of a regeneration over the past year or so, with Chibnall and co. working hard behind the scenes to bring viewers old and new a programme that is fresh, exciting and relevant to 2018. So as the countdown continues towards the very first episode, we as fans are getting ready to fall in love with Doctor Who all over again. After all, it’s only because Doctor Who has continuously evolved and reinvented itself over so many decades that it has managed to survive for so long.