2013, A Special Year

With 2013 being the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who, I thought I’d share a little bit about me.  Some of you know a bit from my About page, but I didn’t put too much personal information on there.

When I was young I had an imaginary friend.  Unlike little Amelia Pond, mine wasn’t so real.  Mine looks suspiciously like Tom Baker.  I was a lonely child, and an only one as well.  Because I didn’t have any older brothers or sisters I was left out of the cliques when school started.  I was a little chubby, had glasses, always had my nose in a book and was really shy so you can guess how that turned out.

My uncle introduced me to Doctor Who at a young age, and I can still remember my first episode.  The scarf, the fedora and the jelly babies… yup, the 4th Doctor was my first Doctor (and still my favorite).  When my overactive imagination kicked in I was in the TARDIS with him helping him save the world… and when I was terrified of something under my bed or in my closet I conjured up an image of him to chase the scary things away.  Oh and just so we have any romantic thoughts out of the way: I was a kid and way too young to be thinking about that sort of thing.

When I get a bit of time home alone, I’ve been trying to catch up on all of the programming that was aired for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary last month.  I know, I know.  It’s just that I don’t get much time to myself when I don’t have tons of chores to do.

Tonight I finally got the opportunity to watch Doctor Who – The Companions while wrapping a  few  ton of gifts.  For those who haven’t seen it, it’s basically talking about the companions and their roles in the series.  Obviously they couldn’t get to everyone, and there was quite a bit of focus on NuWho (2005 and later) but it was still enjoyable.  In particular I enjoyed watching all of the actual actors speak about their characters and roles.

At one point John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) is talking about what he would say to himself if he could go back to when he first got the job on Who.  He teared up a little (causing me to as well) and it reminded me of something.  This show means a lot to us fans, but it also means a lot to a ton of other people.  It’s changed the lives of everyone from the actors to the writers, in ways that we can only imagine.

I know I’m a much better person because of it.

I’m sure no one involved with the show will ever actually see this, but in this special year I’d just like to say “Thank You” to the writers/cast/crew of Doctor Who – everyone involved.  May the show continue for another 50 years.

Moffat In Doctor Who Magazine

Steven Moffat talked to Doctor Who Magazine about what would have happened if Christopher Eccleston had returned for the 50th anniversary.  Doctor Who TV shared some of the details:

It’s no secret that Christopher Eccleston was initially approached about returning for The Day of the Doctor. Of course he ended up turning it down.

In the latest DWM, Moffat confirms that Eccleston would have filled what became John Hurt’s role: “Yes, but I was pretty certain Chris wouldn’t do it, although he did agree to a couple of meetings. So instead we had the challenge and excitement of introducing a BBC audience to a brand new Doctor.”

Asked if it would have been Eccleston ending the Time War instead: “Yes, but do you know, I was always nervous of that one, because it doesn’t fit with [2005’s] Rose at all.

“[Eccleston] is a brand new Doctor in Rose, he’s absolutely, definitely new. It couldn’t have been is who pushed the button in the Time War, cos that’s a new man, very explicitly, in that episode. I also had trouble, I have to be honest, imagining it being Paul McGann’s Doctor.

“So all of this led me to the idea that if you’re going to sell to the Not-We audience a Doctor who essentially they haven’t seen before, then you have a freer hand than saying it has to be one of the ones you’ve already had. And it was predicated in getting an enormous star to be able to do it. We got John Hurt, so that was cool! Think of the fuss it’s created for us!”


Some intoxicated fangirls reacting to the 50th while watching.  Sections do appear in the corner so make sure to watch the episode first.

Also: Language warning!

Differences Between The Doctors

Behind The Lens

This was aired in the theatre after The Day of the Doctor.  I wasn’t expecting it, so it was a nice surprise:

Smith Interview With Radio TImes

Matt Smith gave an interview with Radio Times a couple days ago.  Reading the opening paragraph I have to say I’d word it differently… As in “awesome” socks 🙂 :

Matt Smith is sitting in a rather glorious BMW on his way to the ExCel Centre in London’s Docklands. He’s sporting a neatly cut crop, wearing jeans and a jumper from ACNE, a leather jacket from D&G, a scarf from Marc Jacobs and some slightly alarming socks.

As the car gets closer to the gleaming glass and grey steel hall playing host to thousands of fans – marking their hero’s 50th birthday at the three-day Doctor Who Celebration – the current incarnation of the last living Time Lord looks more like his next big role: Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Which way is he going to play it when meeting the fans? He laughs. “You just have to be yourself. Whatever that is nowadays…”

He can be forgiven for his confusion. This Christmas, when he hands over the sonic screw-driver to Peter Capaldi, he’ll be leaving the Doctor in the best of health – a pain-racked regeneration notwithstanding. On air in over 50 countries and counting – it’s on three channels in the USA – the show has a global audience of some 77 million. When he west cast, as the youngest actor ever to play the part, newspaper headlines were mocking – “Doctor Who?” In the UK, at least, he’s answered that questions.

Since he announced he was hanging up this Tardis keys earlier this year, however, he’s gone for roles so different from the good-hearted saviour of the universe that you assume he’s making a Daniel Radcliffe-style statement: “Don’t think I’m just the Doctor.” He’s already filmed Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, How to Catch a Monster, and tabloid shots from the set showed him lifting weights like a marine, his much-loved floppy fringe razored off.

This month he’s on stage at the Almeida Theatre in American Psycho, a London stage-musical version of Bret Easton Ellis’s bestseller about a powerful Wall Street banker who moonlights as a serial killer. “It’s a bizarre challenge, especially as I’ve never sung before,” Smith explains. “I thought, why not give it a stab… foolishly. I mean, it’s not like other musicals – which is why I took it. It’s difficult and challenging.”

We’re conducting this exit interview the day before his barnstorming performance in the 50th birthday episode. He only has what remains of the year as the official Doctor. While we’re talking, you can almost feel him moving on.

What’s it like playing the Doctor? “Everything changed. It’s all consuming – and that affects the rhythm of your life. Now, however, it’s settling down a little.” What can we expect from the Christmas episode? “I can’t tell you. It was a great shoot – a sad one for me, but I think it’ll be a fitting send-off and a fitting introduction for Peter.”

Any regrets? “None. I think if I was going to choose to spend a couple of years in anyone’s body, why not live it as the Doctor? He’s going to have more fun than almost anyone else alive.”

The rest of the team is going to miss him desperately. “You will not find anyone with a negative story about Matt,” the show’s writer Steven Moffat tells us. “The producer, Marcus Wilson, gets him on set as quickly as possible because the crew literally works faster when he’s there. He’s the life and soul, greeting the guest actors like the perfect host, even when he’s feel- ing broody, unhappy, tired or sulky.”

Moffat thinks Smith is the most successful actor yet when it comes to capturing the enormous age of the Doctor. “Matt is a youthful envelope but he has an old soul,” he muses. “In real life Matt is very cool. The Doctor would like to think he’s cool, but he isn’t. The Doctor probably thinks he can hang out with Matt and go to the same clubs, but I don’t think Matt would have him along on a night out.”

Certainly, Smith is looking to make some cool choices. He’d love to do a movie with 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen or Morvern Callar director Lynne Ramsay – who shoot cutting-edge, offbeat, disturbing films. He’d also like to direct, having tried his hand for Sky Arts’ Playhouse Presents. In January, however, it’s “back to the drawing board – the auditions, the life of an actor,” he puts on a slight American drawl, “because that’s the life we choose.”

He tells us this as the car waits at traffic lights near the convention centre. While he’s talking, a man walks past wearing an impressive Tom Baker scarf. Smith checks it out then winds down the window: “Hey mate… over here… nice scarf!”

The man smiles sheepishly at his friend in a Captain Jack jacket then realises who it is. He dashes over, stunned and gabbling, but can’t seem to make up his mind whether to ask for a photo or an autograph. “Hey man, quick,” Smith urges, hanging out of the window as the driver puts the car in gear. “He’s going to leave, mate,” but the man is almost frozen in shock. It’s not often, after all, that the actual Doctor admires your Doctor costume. “Oh dear…” Smith is stricken as the car starts to move. “We gotta go, dude… bye… see you later.” He flops back on his seat. “That was weird.”

The moment shows the fans’ devotion to Smith. Will that help with his cool young movie star ambitions? Some people aren’t sure. “In he UK we love to talk up how big Doctor Who is in America, and it’s definitely bigger than it’s ever been,” says PR guru Mark Borkowski. “But it’s not on primetime television over there – so millions of Americans have never heard of him. He’s entirely at the mercy of the scripts he chooses – America is all about what’s hot now.”

A couple of years ago Borkowski worked with a young British actor – equally young, equally well known on TV – who made a big splash when an equally hot American director selected him as his lead in a new movie. “I was getting five or six calls a day, he was interviewed by everyone and he was offered tickets to the American Open tennis when we were over in New York for the premiere,” he recalls, refusing to name the actor in question.

“But the film was badly reviewed – not a turkey but not a hit. As soon as the first Variety review appeared online, the phone calls stopped. Literally went dead. He had a week to go before the American Open and he couldn’t get anyone to even answer his emails about the tickets he’d been promised. He was devastated.”

Does Smith fear such a rejection? “Of course,” he shrugs. “If you criticise my performance, in the papers or an audition, I can try to convince myself it’s the character you don’t like or the interpretation. The truth is it’s me you’re criticising. It leaves you exposed. That first 30 seconds in the room at an audition – no actor is beyond that.”

Looking for precedence, it’s tempting to compare Smith’s chances with the careers of David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch – both made a stab at Hollywood after playing quirky, supersmart men in TV shows penned by Moffat (to a US casting director the Doctor and Sherlock could almost be the same role). Tennant returned to Blighty and Broadchurch, while Cumberbatch has two big films lined up for 2014.

Steven Moffat is sure of Smith’s success. “Benedict and Matt are both fascinating actors – they’re never going to play James Bond, they’re not leading men, they’re not Brad Pitt,” he explains. “They’ll always choose the interesting script over the glamorous part. But that’s good. Stars tend to have very short careers, while Ian McKellen will be working until he’s 80, and they have that quality.”

Smith thinks his footballing experience will help – he played for Nottingham Forest and Leicester City youth teams until injury steered him into acting. “I’m a firm believer in the parallels between sport and acting,” he explains. “Practice is important. Frank Lampard practises sprints his entire career. An actor might work on his voice. But then it’s about expression in the moment – preparation and dedication are fine, but you have to deliver spontaneously.”

It being the time of his passing as the Doctor – of a little death no matter how the soul of his character lives on in another body – we feel it appropriate to ask if he’s had any profound existential thoughts as a result. Does an on-screen death teach you what’s important in life? Is there a point to our existence? He thinks for a moment. “That question starts off on the wrong foot… I think the point is the endeavours we make towards the discovery of our existence through art or love or family. They are at least the things that make us realise we exist.”

He’s declared himself an atheist, but if there was a God and they met – what would he like to say? He laughs. “If there was a God, what would I ask? I’d ask – can I have my money back?” And he bids a warm farewell as the ExCeL swallows him up, moving on into his unwritten future – with no Tardis and no option of ever coming back.

Doctor Who is back on Christmas Day at 7:30pm on BBC1

50th Skit

Remember how I was saying I’d like to find the skit that appeared in the theatre before the 50th anniversary special?  This seems to be as close as I can get…