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.

 

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!

12 actors who have written for the Whoniverse

The DWCA Book Club is on again Friday 6 April, this time discussing the Torchwood graphic novel World Without End, written by Captain Jack himself, John Barrowman, along with his sister Carole. But this isn’t the first time that one of the stars of the Whoniverse has written an adventure of their own. Here’s our list of 12 actors who have also written for the Whoniverse across a host of different media.

1. Ian Marter

Appearing as companion Harry Sullivan in Tom Baker’s first six serials as the Doctor, Ian Marter was one of the first to cross the actor-writer divide. He contributed his first Target novelisation, Doctor Who and the Ark in Space, in 1977, having appeared as Harry in the TV story the book was based on. This was followed by eight further novelisations, including The Sontaran Experiment (another story featuring Harry) and a controversial adaptation of Second Doctor story The Enemy of the World. Marter also wrote an original, Doctor-less novel titled Harry Sullivan’s War, catching up with the character 10 years after his travels in the TARDIS.

2. Colin Baker

Most famous for portraying the Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker also has an unusually broad writing resume, having written Doctor Who stories in prose (in the form several short stories for Doctor Who Magazine and the Doctor Who Yearbook), on audio (The Wings of a Butterfly, released in Big Finish’s anthology collection Short Trips Volume 1) and as a comic (the 1994 graphic novel The Age of Chaos). The last of these also included a return appearance from Frobisher, a shape-shifting alien companion who often took the form of a talking penguin and remains one of the most popular characters to originate from Doctor Who comics.

3. Noel Clarke

Best known as Rose’s long-suffering boyfriend (and Martha Jones’ eventual husband) Mickey Smith, Noel Clarke is also an accomplished screenwriter, penning the screenplay for a trilogy of crime thriller films (titled Kidulthood, Adulthood and Brotherhood) and co-creating the forthcoming cop drama Bulletproof for Sky Television. One of his early writing credits is for the 2006 Torchwood episode Combat, which follows Owen Harper as he deals with the recent departure of his lover whilst also investigating a group of wealthy young men running an alien cage-fighting ring.

4. John Barrowman

The star of Torchwood has also penned a number of stories for the spin-off with his sister and frequent collaborator Carole. The pair contributed Captain Jack and the Selkie for Torchwood Magazine in 2009 and later wrote the full-length novel Exodus Code, set in the aftermath of the programme’s fourth series. Always keen ambassadors for Torchwood’s return, the Barrowmans have written all installments of Titan Publishing’s Torchwood comic since its launch in 2016. The first graphic novel collection from the range, World Without End, is the subject of this month’s DWCA Book Club and sees Jack in charge of a reborn Torchwood, their headquarters housed in the ocean-faring vessel The Ice Maiden.

5. Gareth David-Lloyd

Barrowman’s co-star has made a more recent leap into writing, authoring two Torchwood audio adventures due later this year through Big Finish. Both focus on David-Lloyd’s character Ianto: Blind Summit depicts his initial recruitment to Torchwood One in London, while The Last Beacon sees Ianto take a camping trip with his abrasive colleague Owen in order to stop an alien invasion.

6. Nicholas Briggs

Briggs has made a few low-key appearances in the TV Whoniverse (with a supporting role in Torchwood: Children of Earth and a brief cameo in the docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time), but he is best known for being the go-to voice artist for Doctor Who monsters since the series returned in 2005, lending his pipes (and his ring modulator) to a menagerie that includes Daleks, Cybermen, Zygons and Judoon. Briggs is also one of the most influential people in the world of Doctor Who audio, fulfilling a mulititude of production roles across scores of releases for Big Finish. As a scriptwriter, some of his more notable works include 50th anniversary special The Light at the End, Sixth Doctor regeneration story The Brink of Death and Big Finish’s first ever Doctor Who release, The Sirens of Time.

7. Barnaby Edwards

You might not know Barnaby Edwards’ face, but you’re almost certainly familiar with his work! Edwards’ performances as a Dalek operator span every major appearance of the Doctor’s arch enemies since 2005. Outside of his casing, Edwards is a seasoned director at Big Finish and has also dabbled in writing for the company, his scripts including Ice Warrior tale The Bride of Peladon as well as The Emerald Tiger, a Fifth Doctor adventure inspired by The Jungle Book.

8. David Banks

Banks is another monster actor to cross over into writing. Having portrayed the Cyber-Leader in every Cyberman story during the 1980s, Banks later wrote a non-fiction book on the Cybermen that also fleshed out several aspects of the Cyber-race’s in-universe backstory. He subsequently wrote the novel Iceberg for Virgin Publishing’s New Adventures series, which saw the Seventh Doctor square off against – you guessed it – the Cybermen. Given the programme wasn’t on the air when the novel was published in 1993, Banks was able to get away with a number of adult touches to the story, including rather a lot of naughty words!

9. Louise Jameson

To many Doctor Who fans, Louise Jameson is ‘70s companion Leela: a fierce warrior from the tribe of Sevateem and still one of the Doctor’s most distinctive companions. Jameson has also put her writing talents to use, partnering up with experienced Big Finish scribe Nigel Fairs for Fourth Doctor audio adventure The Abandoned in 2014. Set entirely within the TARDIS, the story sees the emergence of a malevolent presence deep within the workings of the ship. Leela also gets some strong character material in this adventure, coming to terms with the death of her father.

10. Dan Starkey

He may be known and loved for his turn as Strax the Sontaran Nurse/Butler, but there’s much more to Dan Starkey. Aside from a prosthetic-free appearance as Ian the Elf in the 2014 seasonal special Last Christmas, Starkey is also a frequent voice actor for Big Finish, playing various roles including priests, robophobic security chiefs and, yes, more than a few Sontarans. In 2015, Starkey teamed up with one of Big Finish’s best writing talents, John Dorney, for Terror of the Sontarans, an audio adventure starring the Seventh Doctor and Mel and featuring an adversary that strikes fear into the hearts of the clone warriors.

11. Geoffrey Beevers

Eleven years after a small role as a UNIT private, Beevers turned in a highly memorable performance as the Master in 1981’s The Keeper of Traken. Despite only one television appearance, Beevers’ decayed, desperate incarnation has been significantly expanded through several new audio adventures with Big Finish. Beevers published his first novel, The Forgotten Fields, in 2013 and is set to make his Whoniverse writing debut later this year with I Am the Master, a Big Finish Short Trip.

12. Mark Gatiss

Perhaps the most high-profile writer on this list, Gatiss’ first professionally published work was the Doctor Who novel Nightshade in 1992. Over the next 13 years Gatiss wrote a further three Doctor Who novels and two Big Finish plays whilst also developing his career as an actor and screenwriter, landing a cult hit with The League of Gentlemen in the late ‘90s. Since 2005 he has written nine TV episodes of Doctor Who and performed in four (most recently as The Captain in Twice Upon A Time). Gatiss was also nominated for a Hugo Award for his screenplay for An Adventure in Space and Time, which formed part of the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2013. His impressive string of credits makes him one of the few people to have appeared in episodes starring four different Doctors; one of the few people to have written episodes for four different Doctors, and certainly the only person to achieve both of these feats!

Honourable Mention: Peter Davison

Whilst Davison (aka the Fifth Doctor) hasn’t written anything that could reasonably be included in the Doctor Who canon, he did write and direct The Five-ish Doctors Reboot, an utterly charming tribute to the long history of the programme made as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations and full of more in-jokes and cameos than you can poke a stick at. Like Gatiss, Davison was nominated for a Hugo for his contribution to the anniversary.

It’s clear that the contributions of actor/writers to the Whoniverse are many and varied. Some actors have expanded on their onscreen characters, whilst others have made cheeky jokes about them, and others appear to love Doctor Who so much that they have to do more than just act in it. So the next time you pick up a book, press play on a Big Finish audio or sit down to a television episode, make sure you check who wrote it – the results might just surprise you!

 

The DWCA Book Club’s discussion of Torchwood: World Without End is taking place on 6 April – 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!

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!

A Brief History of Time Ladies

March is the month of International Women’s Day. To celebrate, we’re hosting a special event commemorating the achievements of women in Doctor Who both behind and in front of the camera on 25 March – you can find tickets here. But before all that, we’re taking a look at the long and rich history of Time Ladies – one that is set to become even richer with the arrival of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.

1963

The name of the Doctor’s species was a mystery when the series first began, but the first potential Time Lady was present at the very beginning in the shape of the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan. The key word here though is ‘potential’ – due to an odd combination of subsequent continuity developments (can Susan regenerate?) and an understandable reluctance for a family programme to explain how Time Lord reproduction works (is Susan the Doctor’s granddaughter in a biological sense? If she isn’t, then is she of the same species as the Doctor?), her Time Lady status is somewhat in doubt.

1978

Aside from Susan, Time Ladies were conspicuous by their absence for the first fifteen years of the programme, leading some fans to speculate that Time Ladies simply did not exist (!). This changed dramatically with Season 15 finale The Invasion of Time, which not only included the first depiction of a female living in Gallifreyan society, but also a female rebellious outsider living beyond the protection of the domed city of the Capitol. The former was Rodan, who worked as the Gallifreyan equivalent of an air-traffic controller and befriended the Doctor’s companion Leela. The latter was Presta, who was played by Australian actor Gai Smith, better known these days as businesswoman and horse trainer Gai Waterhouse (yes, really).

Later the same year, the Doctor began his travels with the Time Lady Romanadvoratrelundar, otherwise known as Romana (or, on one occasion, ‘Fred’). Whilst initially characterised as a sheltered academic, Romana soon developed a greater confidence and sense of adventure as she became more experienced. Played by Mary Tamm in her first incarnation and Lalla Ward in her second, Romana was the first character to be referred to as a Time Lady on screen, in 1979’s City of Death. She would often appear much more level-headed than her companion, fulfilling a Doctor-like role in the adventure whilst the Doctor goofed around elsewhere, and at times was even shown to be the Doctor’s intellectual superior. She also built her own sonic screwdriver, a sleeker design that the Doctor liked so much that he once tried to steal it!

1983

Two more notable Time Ladies were introduced in Doctor Who’s 20th anniversary year. The opening story of the programme’s 20th season, Arc of Infinity, saw the introduction of Thalia, who sat on the High Council of Time Lords fulfilling the role of Chancellor, making her the first Time Lady in a position of power to be shown on screen. The anniversary special, The Five Doctors, saw another female Chancellor by the name of Flavia, who ascended to the position of President at the episode’s conclusion. With Flavia as the first female President of the Time Lords, Doctor Who managed to show us a female political leader at a time where such a thing was scarce in reality.

1985

A striking new villain was introduced in the Sixth Doctor story The Mark of the Rani. Portrayed by Dynasty actor Kate O’Mara, the Rani was a female renegade with her own agenda, not merely a ‘female Master’. A brilliant biochemist, she had a detached, scientific outlook on the universe and firmly believed that the ends justified the means. She also had her own rather groovy TARDIS that was decorated with dinosaur embryos for undisclosed reasons. The Rani was her own woman whose plans didn’t revolve around trapping or tricking the Doctor – in fact in her first appearance she seemed irritated that the Doctor had become involved at all – and by leaving Gallifrey to embark on her own adventures the Rani was in many ways the Doctor’s equal.

A Comedic Interlude

Even though Doctor Who was mostly off the television between 1989 and 2005, there was plenty still going on in the Whoniverse. The Wilderness Years may have seen the flourishing of the expanded Doctor Who universe – the adventures continuing through various novels, comics and audio dramas – but they also saw a large number of spoofs, parodies and unusual ‘what if?’ takes on the programme. Two examples from the Wilderness Years notably included female Doctors – The Curse of Fatal Death, an affectionate parody of Doctor Who written by Steven Moffat for Comic Relief in 1999, and Exile, an alternative timeline audio drama produced by Big Finish in 2003. Whilst actors Joanna Lumley and Arabella Weir offered brief glimpses of what a female Doctor might be like in these two productions, both of the stories had a comedic tone that sometimes veered into the downright crude – perhaps reflecting just how seriously the idea of a female Doctor was taken at the time.

2008

Thanks to the Doctor being made last of the Time Lords when the series returned to television in 2005, Time Ladies were once again thin on the ground for a while. Then along came Jenny, the progenated offspring of the Doctor (which means that whilst Jenny is the Doctor’s daughter, the Doctor is both Jenny’s mother and father in a biological sense). Whilst the Doctor rejects the idea that Jenny could be a Time Lady, she does have two hearts and over the course of an episode proves herself to be very much her father’s (and mother’s!) daughter. By turns, Jenny was inquisitive, rebellious, cheeky and resourceful and she’s even getting her own audio series from Big Finish later this year. Perhaps this could be the clearest indication yet of what the Thirteenth Doctor could be like?

2011

The next notable Time Lady is unusual in that they never fully appear on screen (rather, bits of them do). The Corsair was mentioned in the Neil Gaiman-penned episode The Doctor’s Wife as being an old friend of the Doctor’s, and further dialogue stated that the Corsair had multiple female incarnations as well as male ones – establishing for the first time on-screen that Time Lords/Ladies can change gender when they regenerate.

2014

Further evidence of gender-change regeneration emerged when the character of Missy revealed herself as the latest incarnation of the Doctor’s old foe, the Master, in the first instance of an established Time Lord character changing gender. Over the course of three series, Michelle Gomez gave many highly memorable performances in the role and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with her predecessors. Gomez’s Master has echoes of Delgado’s charm, Jacobi’s menace and Roberts’ camp deliciousness and bristles with a manic energy akin to Simm’s take on the role. Missy undergoes what is arguably the most interesting character journey of any Time Lady, from ambiguous frenemy territory to outright villainy to the hard path of redemption in the eyes of her oldest friend.

2015

Just to prove outright that gender-change regeneration is definitely canon, the process itself was depicted in the Series 9 finale Hell Bent, with the General regenerating from a Time Lord into a Time Lady after being shot by the Doctor. In a neat twist, further dialogue established that all the other previous incarnations of the General had been female, thus proving that Time Lords/Ladies who change gender can also change back – and that just because a Time Lord/Lady remains the same gender for multiple incarnations, it doesn’t mean that their gender is fixed forever.

2017

After so many lifetimes of dashing about and trying to make the universe a better place, the Doctor seemed ready to throw in the towel and finally die just to have some rest. A last-minute plea from the TARDIS cloister bell led the Doctor to a change of hearts, and instead of coming to an end, the Doctor embraced change in a way like never before. The newest incarnation of the Doctor is female. What exactly she will be like is still anyone’s guess, but one thing is for certain: she will be the Doctor that the universe needs.

Looking back, we can see that there have been many and varied depictions of Time Ladies throughout the history of the series. Time Ladies can be anything they want to be – they can be villainous renegades, or occupy the highest office on Gallifrey, or wander the universe as the Doctor’s best friend. They can even be the one that the monsters are afraid of, that brings hope to people however lost they may be, that can save the universe a thousand times over and still have time for some tea.

Our celebration of the women of Doctor Who is taking place on 25 March. Head here for more information and to grab your tickets.

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.

A Timeline of the Capaldi Era

The last battle has been won, the final speeches have been spoken and the dust has begun to settle on the Peter Capaldi era. The Twice Upon A Time DVD and Twice Upon A Time Blu-ray are available from the DWCA Shop now, so we thought we would take a look back at the milestones of the Twelfth Doctor’s era, as well as all the nods to the Doctor’s Australian fans, both on and off screen.

The Reveal

On 4 August 2013, Peter Capaldi was unveiled to the world as the actor who would play the Twelfth Doctor.  Peter was given a rockstar reception in a live television event that announced his casting, complete with lasers, LED screens and a huge cheering audience.

The Tease

Fans were treated to a cheeky glimpse of the Twelfth Doctor on 23 November 2013, with Capaldi’s Doctor making his first on-screen appearance in a brief cameo in the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor. Capaldi appeared in only two shots, one showing his hand operating the TARDIS controls, and another focusing on his eyes, in a move designed to conceal his character’s still-to-be-unveiled costume.

The Regeneration

Capaldi’s first full scene as the Doctor came on 25 December 2013, with the closing moments of The Time of the Doctor seeing the Doctor regenerate into their latest incarnation. Whilst all regenerations since 2005 had featured morphing faces and streams of glowing orange energy, this scene eschewed the usual style in favour of a brief flash of light, sparking some fans to compare the regeneration to a sneeze or, less flatteringly, a fart.

The Look

The Twelfth Doctor’s costume was unveiled on 27 January 2014. Sporting a sleeker look than his predecessor, Capaldi described the ensemble as “back to basics…no frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100% rebel Time Lord”. Whilst the costume would evolve over time, the overall look of a mid-length coat, dark trousers and boots would stick throughout the Twelfth Doctor’s era.

The Tour

Image credit: Catherine Cranston

August 2014 saw the most ambitious publicity blitz in the history of Doctor Who, with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and sometimes Steven Moffat attending screenings, panels and press photo ops in six different countries. Doctor Who: The World Tour hit Sydney on 12 August 2014, with a photoshoot on Sydney Harbour and a public screening and Q&A at the State Theatre.  Peter also spoke to Julia Zemiro in a special one-off interview programme, When Julia Met The Doctor, for ABC TV.

The Arrival

Hot off the back of the World Tour, the Twelfth Doctor made his first full-length appearance in Deep Breath on 23 August 2014. At 76 minutes, this was one of the longest individual episodes in the history of the programme, and saw the first appearance of a mysterious new character called Missy. This episode was simulcast in the wee hours of the morning on ABC TV in Australia, and was available on iView immediately afterwards. Although the simulcasts were dropped after Capaldi’s first series, the iView launch right after UK broadcast was maintained for the duration of the era.

The Daleks

Capaldi’s second episode as the Doctor would prove no less significant than his first, with the newly minted Doctor facing the Daleks. Broadcast on 30 August 2014, this episode introduced a new recurring character, Danny Pink, as a love interest for companion Clara Oswald, as well as marking the first appearance of Rusty the Good Dalek who would make a surprise return in the Twelfth Doctor’s final episode.

The Frenemy

The finale of the Twelfth Doctor’s debut series boasted a number of firsts. Broadcast on 1 and 8 November 2014, Dark Water/Death in Heaven featured the Twelfth Doctor’s first encounter with the Cybermen, as well as Kate Stewart and Osgood of UNIT. Perhaps most significant of all was the revelation that Missy was a new incarnation of the Master, providing the first on-screen demonstration that Time Lords can change gender when they regenerate.

The Sunglasses

The Twelfth Doctor’s second series started with a bang, The Magicians’ Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar airing on 19 and 26 September 2015. The two-parter saw Doctor going head to head with the creator of the Daleks, Davros, in the character’s first television appearance since 2008’s The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End. What’s more, the Doctor’s trusty sonic screwdriver was all but destroyed, and a new device – a pair of sonic sunglasses – took its place. Whilst controversial at the time, the sunglasses would become part of the Twelfth Doctor’s distinctive look, and he would even continue to use them after being gifted a new screwdriver by the TARDIS.

The Festival

Members of the Doctor Who cast and crew embarked on a huge international  event with The Doctor Who Festival  in November 2015. The Australian leg featured costume showcases, monster parades, talks by Australian-based director Daniel Nettheim and plenty more, but perhaps the highlight came on the final day of the event (the day before Doctor Who’s 52nd anniversary) where a team made up of Steven Moffat, Peter Capaldi and Mark Gatiss entered the festival’s trivia competition alongside teams of fans. Their team, ‘The Time Wasters’, came third.

The Masterpiece

From the ridiculous to the sublime: Heaven Sent, arguably the Twelfth Doctor’s finest episode, was broadcast on 28 November 2015. With virtually all the dialogue spoken by the Doctor and no guest cast other than a monster and some very small cameos, Heaven Sent features a tour de force of a performance from Peter Capaldi and a script from Steven Moffat that is a masterclass in storytelling. This was proof that, even after 52 years, Doctor Who was still capable of producing something utterly unique.

The Wife

The Twelfth Doctor’s first encounter with his wife came on 25 December 2015 with the broadcast of The Husbands of River Song, This Christmas adventure looked at the character of River from a different angle, showing what River gets up to when the Doctor’s not around (or at least, when she thinks he’s not around!). This episode also introduced the character of Nardole, who would make the unlikely journey of being a comedy head for a giant red robot to being a loyal friend of the Doctor’s and a companion loved by many fans.

The Companion

23 April 2016 was the day we learned that Pearl Mackie would be joining the Doctor Who team, playing the Doctor’s new companion, Bill. In a first of its kind, the casting was announced in a special short scene broadcast on BBC One and released on social media shortly afterwards. A shorter version of the same scene would end up in Bill’s first episode.

The Spin-off

2016 would be a year without much Doctor Who on television, but in its place came the new spin-off, Class. Aimed at a young adult audience, Class told the story of a group of students at Coal Hill Academy (whose past teachers included Clara Oswald and Danny Pink) who defend the Earth against alien threats whilst navigating the messy business of growing up. Peter Capaldi made a special guest appearance in the series, stepping in at the climax of the first episode broadcast on 26 October 2016. Despite boasting lots of potential and including a hugely memorable anti-hero in the shape of physics teacher Miss Quill, the series suffered from muted publicity and oddball scheduling, meaning many Doctor Who fans were unaware of its existence. The series was cancelled after one season, the final cliffhanger featuring the Weeping Angels left unresolved.

The Announcement

To the surprise of many fans, Peter Capaldi announced his departure from Doctor Who during a radio interview on 30 January 2017. Speculation as to the identity of Capaldi’s successor began almost immediately, with Ben Whishaw and Olivia Colman amongst the early favourites with bookmakers.

The Harbour

Capaldi’s final series as the Doctor launched on 15 April 2017 with The Pilot. Aside from introducing Bill, the episode also included a brief visit to Sydney Harbour, marking the first time the Doctor had visited our shores on screen since The Enemy of the World in 1967/8.

The Masters

World Enough And Time, along with its companion episode The Doctor Falls, would conclude Capaldi’s final season in explosive fashion on 24 June and 1 July 2017. Aside from featuring the return of the original iteration of the Cybermen, unseen on screen since 1966, it was also the very first televised multi-Master story and heavily reflected on Missy’s journey of redemption throughout the Twelfth Doctor’s era.

The End

The Capaldi era came to a close on with Twice Upon a Time on 25 December 2017 – exactly four years after his first full scene in The Time of the Doctor. It was a special occasion with the return of many familiar faces, including the First Doctor, now played by David Bradley. Having cemented his reputation as an impressive orator, the Twelfth Doctor gave the last of his signature speeches during his regeneration scene before passing the baton to the Thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker.

Capaldi’s Doctor was infinitely mercurial – sharp, warm, passionate and playful all at once. Himself a fan since childhood, Capaldi was very generous with fans even under the pressure of the intense Doctor Who production and promotion schedule – a generosity that Australian fans experienced first-hand at the Doctor Who Festival. It may be a small part of his legacy as the Doctor, but the Capaldi years gave a real acknowledgement of the love that Australians have for Doctor Who – and we love him a little bit more for it.

Want to grab a copy of Twice Upon A Time? You can pick up a special release packed with extras on DVD and Blu-ray from the DWCA Shop now. Don’t forget to check out our full range of classic and new series DVDs and Blu-rays here.

10 Things We Love About the New Shada

We caught Shada at the cinemas late last year and we loved it. The Shada DVD and Shada Blu-ray are available from the DWCA Shop now, so we thought we would take a look at what makes the new version of the Douglas Adams classic so great.

1. The Animation

The task of bringing Shada’s missing scenes to life fell to Charles Norton, who had previously helmed the animated reconstruction of Power of the Daleks in 2016. Anyone who has seen both Power and Shada can attest that Norton and his team of animators are going from strength to strength and have produced some charming scenes full of colour and character that manage to recapture the sense of fun of the 1979 studio scenes. Any fears about jumping back and forth between live action and animation are completely unfounded – after a wonderful first transition that really sells the move to animation, the animators are able get on with the story, which moves so fluidly between the two visual styles that the viewer scarcely bats an eyelid. There are some lovely sight gags included too, especially in the early scene where Chris investigates the book. Whilst the animation generally recreates that 1970s look and feel, some scenes get a little more imaginative with how much could be achieved on a BBC budget, but ultimately the new scenes stay true to the original because they finally give us…

2. The Full Length Adventure

The animated scenes give context to the original studio material, finally allowing the story to live and breathe as a complete television story – just as it was originally intended. If you have already seen the 1992 VHS version that bridged the missing scenes with Tom Baker’s narration (now available as an extra on the Blu-ray release), you’ll find that the 2017 version is smoother, more immersive and altogether more fun.

3. The HD Location Scenes

The scenes shot in Cambridge all look gorgeous, popping with colour and texture and a level of detail never seen before – in one early shot you can even make out a distant Pepsi truck in a very rare example of Doctor Who including a real world product logo! The marvellous restoration carried out on the location film makes the Blu-ray edition the best possible viewing experience.

4. The Sound

Watching raw studio footage cut together can be a dull affair – it’s the soundscape that really sells a story. The new score by seasoned Doctor Who composer and audio guru Mark Ayres not only gives the right emotional cues to the audience and breathes life into some of the stagier scenes, but is also a loving tribute to the scores of the late ‘70s period of Doctor Who. It is a bittersweet tribute, with the recent passing of classic composer Dudley Simpson who provided the majority of the music at this period in the programme’s history. Appropriately, the end credits of the new edition include a dedication to him. Even the sound effects, the unsung hero of any soundscape, are lovingly crafted to fit the period to the extent that it is hard to tell whether the effects are sourced from a ‘70s sound effects library or are new creations in a classic style.

5. The Model Effects

Sticking to the usual practice of ‘70s Doctor Who, spaceship sequences were realised using model miniatures for the new edition, covering shots of the Think Tank facility and Skagra’s ship as well as the Doctor’s and Chronotis’ TARDISes in flight. With Doctor Who effects veteran Mike Tucker and his team on board, it is no surprise that the new model shots are impressive whilst also in keeping with the classic style – not only are the new models based on designs from the original effects designer in 1979 but there’s also a model scene that so effectively recaptures that authentic feeling that it is not too dissimilar from one of the shots from Shada’s Season 17 stablemate The Horns of Nimon!

6. The Easter Eggs

The team behind the new Shada has tucked away a few hidden treats for the fans to spot. There’s an animated sequence fairly early on that includes footage from some other Doctor Who episodes, and there’s also the ‘set’ used for the TARDIS workshop scenes featuring a host of old ‘props’, including a Movellan gun, a Dalek bomb (both from Destiny of the Daleks), the Polyphase Avitron (from Douglas Adams’ own The Pirate Planet), and a gadget going all the way back to The Time Monster, among other things!

7. The Voice Work

Hats off to all the cast and the director for getting the new vocal performances just right. Everyone locks straight back into how they were back in 1979: Chris is still likably befuddled, Romana is still assured yet warm and the Doctor exudes charm, wit and intelligence. The new production team even managed to work some indefinable magic and fill in some holes within the cast caused by the sad passing of Denis Carey (Professor Chronotis) and David Brierly (K-9) a number of years ago.

8. The Live Action Work

Spoiler alert: one of the biggest surprises in the new version of Shada is that it contains a small but crucial amount of new live action material, including a number of shots that use the K-9 prop. The team sourced a studio camera from the period so the new shots slot in seamlessly.

9. That Cameo

If you’ve seen it already, you know the one I’m talking about.

10. The Story

Of course, the main things that we love about the new Shada are the same things that made the old Shada great: the delicious humour, the mad ideas, the ludicrous chase sequence that involves a male acapella group and the cast having a whale of a time together. All the new stuff just complements the original ingredients to produce a story that sings. This is the definitive edition of Shada.

Want to grab a copy of Shada? You can pick up a special release packed with extras on DVD and Blu-ray from the DWCA Shop now. Don’t forget to check out our full range of classic and new series DVDs and Blu-rays here.

A Short History of Shada

A classic Doctor Who story is coming to the big screen, and boy is it a special one. Shada is unlike any other Doctor Who story ever made, because they never properly finished making it. Originally slated as the final story of Season 17 and scripted by the soon-to-be-famous Douglas Adams, the production was ultimately abandoned due to industrial action.

Now, 38 years after its conception, the BBC is completing the six-part epic by complementing the original studio and location scenes with animated sequences featuring voices from the original cast. But this certainly isn’t the first time that someone has tried to ‘complete’ the legendary incomplete story; in fact, Shada has managed to pop up in a whole bunch of different places over the years. Here’s a quick guide to them all:

1983

Fans first caught a glimpse of Shada during the 20th anniversary special, The Five Doctors. Originally scripted to include all five incarnations of the Doctor (including a recast First Doctor with the permission of William Hartnell’s widow), plans changed when Tom Baker declined to return to the role that had made him a household name, citing the fact that he had only relatively recently left. Producer John Nathan-Turner still wanted the Fourth Doctor to be a part of the special, and so arranged to include two short scenes originally shot for Shada. The Fourth Doctor’s absence was explained as being trapped in a time vortex as a result of a botched kidnapping, and his role in the plot was largely taken by the Fifth Doctor. 1983 also saw the screening of an unofficial reconstruction at a fan convention.

1987

Douglas Adams was never one to let a good idea die, and incorporated a few elements from Shada into his novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The novel, which featured an electric monk, a satire of the fledgling computer industry and a time-travelling visit to a 19th century poet, subsequently spawned a sequel (1988’s The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul) as well as a radio adaptation, a comic series and two television adaptations, the latter starring Samuel Barnett and Elijah Wood.

1989

The appetite to experience a complete version of Shada led one fan to take extraordinary measures:  working in collaboration with fellow fan Jon Preddle, New Zealander Paul Scoones wrote an unofficial novelisation that saw publication in the same year that the classic series came to an end. The novel was one of a series of non-profit books published by the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club that adapted television stories that, for one reason or another, had not been tackled by the official publisher, Target Books. A second edition of the fan novelisation was published in 1991, and a third in 2001, each with a different cover.

1992

The first official, full-length release of Shada came in the form of a special VHS release uniting all the original footage with new linking material that had Tom Baker summarising the unfilmed scenes. As the original story never entered post-production, a new score was composed by Keff McCulloch in the style common to many late ‘70s Doctor Who episodes. A number of new special effects shots were also created for the release, and K-9 voice actor David Brierly even recorded his outstanding dialogue. The VHS release was also bundled with a book of the original script.

2003

The first full dramatisation of Shada came in the year of Doctor Who’s 40th anniversary. Big Finish Productions, the producers of many Doctor Who audio dramas, set out to create an audio adaptation. Their efforts caught the attention of BBCi, who partnered with Big Finish to create limited, Flash-based animations to accompany the audio production. Whilst Tom Baker was initially approached, he declined, and the story was reworked to star Paul McGann as the then-current Eighth Doctor. This had the fortunate side-effect of reconciling the story with The Five Doctors, with the Eighth Doctor catching up with Romana and wanting to attend to their ‘unfinished business’ from years ago. Lalla Ward returned to the role of Romana, but the cast was otherwise completely different to the 1979 version, including Sean Biggerstaff of the Harry Potter films and original K-9 voice actor John Leeson replacing David Brierly. The episodes were released as a webcast – a kind of pre-Netflix, pre-YouTube model of digitally streaming drama – over the course of six weeks and an expanded, audio-only version was released on CD later in the year.

2012

Whilst the return of Doctor Who to our screens in 2005 was the start of many good things, it was also the end of the adventures of past Doctors in print, with the BBC’s Past Doctor Adventures line ceasing publication. The release of an official novelisation of Shada (along with an audiobook read by Lalla Ward and John Leeson) broke the drought and was followed in subsequent years with original novels featuring past Doctors, as well as numerous short stories.  Novelisations are set to make a comeback in 2018, with new books based on the television adventures of the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors.

2013

The 50th anniversary year of the programme saw two new iterations of Shada – a remastered edition of the 1992 VHS release (along with a slew of new bonus features and the 1993 documentary More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS) was bundled in a DVD boxset titled The Legacy Collection, and an unofficial fan version that completed the missing scenes through full-motion animation. Whilst several cast members reprised their original roles, Tom Baker was notably absent – the role of the Fourth Doctor instead being played by a soundalike.

2017 & BEYOND

Fast-forward to today, where the cinema release of the official animation is imminent. Made by the same people behind last year’s animation of The Power of the Daleks, the latest version of Shada completes the story using full colour animation with newly recorded dialogue featuring members of the original cast including, crucially, Tom Baker. Rather than merely fill in the blanks of the 1992 version, the 2017 version goes back to the source material for a brand new edit and music score. All the original footage has been newly remastered, with location scenes in HD for the first time and studio scenes originally shot in SD upscaled for the big screen. As the first full dramatisation of Shada to star Tom Baker, this version looks to be the most faithful rendition of the story yet. Shada opens in cinemas on 24 November (the day after Doctor Who’s 54th anniversary!) and a release on DVD and Blu-Ray – including brand new extras – will follow early next year.

And there you have it! With so many permutations of Shada out there, it is no wonder that it has acquired mythic status among so many Doctor Who fans. In fact, Shada has spawned so many different versions, it is enough to rival that other thing Douglas Adams is known for: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!

Opinion – A Female Doctor: It’s Time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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