October 29, 2005

Ode to Howlaround

Today’s Toronto Star has an article on the 100 Things That Make Us Scream (registration required to view). Coming in at Number 14 is “The opening title sequence of the original Dr. Who” which the writers claim “we blacked out at that point.”

As I said on dwin’s mailing list, it’s about time someone in the media acknowledged what must be one of the most widely known truths about Doctor Who, at least in Canada anyway. Over the years I have met many, many people who have all said to me the same thing: Doctor Who was scary and they never watched it. Not because of the monsters. Not because of the Daleks. No—they were terrified by the opening titles.

I have to admit to some sympathy to these people. I remember watching the opening titles to The Three Doctors on TVO as a six year-old in 1976 and finding them kind of scary too (I even held my hand over my eyes at least once while watching them) though I did watch the succeeding story.

I’m frankly not all that surprised. When you think about the titles for the series back in the 1970s, they really were like nothing else seen or heard on television at that time. Weird misty shapes forming a face and then dissolving it into a spinning swirl, and all the while the strangest music ever is being played over it. Fans of Doctor Who get inurred to that from repeated viewings and knowing it was video howlaround (playing the camera back on itself) that created those images etc., that we lose sight of the incredible effect those titles achieved. It didn’t look like it was from earth. It didn’t sound like it was from earth.

I love the main titles of the new series (though I would have liked to have seen the Doctor’s face). And while I think Murray Gold’s embellishment of the theme is superb, I have to admit that when I saw those titles done with a stereophonic mix of the original Delia Derbyshire version of the theme last March, I got a little tingle down my spine, like I did when I was six.

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October 27, 2005

Mainstream Success!


In a demonstration of the mainstream success of the latest Doctor Who series the show has won big at the National Television Awards. The show was up for three different awards and won all three. Doctor Who won Most Popular Drama Series, Christopher Eccleston won Most Popular Actor and Billie Piper won Most Popular Actress. Piper and Eccleston beat out competition from stars from a number of series but from Eastenders and Coronation Street in particular.

Winning against such heavyweight competition from top rated shows is further evidence of the total and mainstream success of the new Doctor Who series.


The Nominees were:

Most Popular Drama:  Bad Girls, Desperate Housewives, Doctor Who, The Bill

Most Popular Actor: Bradley Walsh, Christopher Eccleston, Martin Clunes, Nigel Harman, Shane Richie

Most Popular Actress: Billie Piper, Caroline Quentin, Jessie Wallace, June Brown, Sally Lindsay

Top: Billie Piper with award presenters and Conservative Party leadership candidates David Davis and David Cameron.

Bottom: Noel Clarke, Billie Piper & Camille Coduri

(6) Comments

October 25, 2005

Doctor Who is back for the Children

The Empty Children.jpg

The BBC announced today that a new mini-episode of Doctor Who will be shown Friday November 18th as part of the annual Children in Need charity broadcast day. The special will feature David Tennant and Billie Piper and is written by Russell T. Davies. At present nothing is known about the plot.

This isn’t the first time there has been a special Doctor Who mini-story for the Children in Need charity special - back in 1993 a 14 minute story called Dimensions in Time was broadcast, featuring Doctors number 3 to 7, plus a whole host of companions, and cast members from the British soap Eastenders.  No word on whether any cross-overs are happening this time as yet.

Let the “is this canon?” debates commence…..

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October 18, 2005

At Last!

Two Dates for Canadians to Remember:

  • December 26: The Christmas Invasion airs on CBC, hosted by Billie Piper
  • February 14: Season One of the New Series comes out on DVD in Canada.

These are moments in life where it’s great to be a Canadian.

(5) Comments

October 16, 2005


The Independent has This news article about Russell Davies writing a Doctor Who spin-off featuring Captain Jack. It’s going to be shown on BBC3 in a post-watershed timeslot and be what Russell Davies describes as “a dark, clever, wild, sexy, British crime/sci-fi paranoid thriller cop show with a sense of humour - the X Files meets This Life”

Well, I’m sold.

There are five good reasons why we should have seen this coming:

  1. Doctor Who was such a phenomenal ratings success it was inevitable the BBC would want some kind of a spin-off
  2. BBC3’s controllers are not dummies: two of their hottest commodities last year were Doctor Who Confidential and Casanova
  3. John Barrowman has become the ‘it boy’ in the UK right now. He’s the hot actor and he’s getting tons of exposure
  4. BBC boffins are, understandably, wondering if a) the magic of Doctor Who can transfer beyond the all-ages pre-watershed timeslot and b) if they can have another SF series in the slate
  5. Hey, it worked for Buffy, Law and Order, etc. etc…

Of course there are five lingering questions:

  1. Does this mean RTD is going to pull a Chris Carter, where he concentrates so much on the spin-offs that attention is taken away from the series that prompted the spin-offs in the first place, or is he going to be more like Seth McFarlene, who set up and created American Dad but very wisely went back to show-running Family Guy and ensured that franchise stayed on top?
  2. Do they really think they can get away with an adult SF/Crime series set in contemporary Cardiff?
  3. Could there be a backlash against a more ‘adult’ spinoff of Doctor Who?
  4. Will it be like the Law and Order spinoffs (good) or like the Trek spinoffs (bad)
  5. Will it have as dreadful a theme song as the last Doctor Who TV spinoff?

(17) Comments

October 11, 2005

A Return to Beautiful Locations

Beautiful locations return to Doctor Who.JPG

There was some beautiful location work last season, but it all seemed to take place in urban areas, which meant that we never actually got to see Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor in a beautiful countryside location - not even for promotional photo. A shame, as Doctor Who traditionally did a lot of location work in the countryside, in fields, forests, near mountains, streams, rivers, lakes or even seas.  This photo from filming of the new season sees the TARDIS by a clifftop near the Welsh coast. 

Its a simple image, but a beautiful sight.

(4) Comments

October 04, 2005

The Boxing Day Invasion

Boxing Day Invasion.JPG

Rumours coming out of the UK indicate that British fans and fans elsewhere with multi-region DVD players (such as myself - woo hoo) have cause to celebrate with the Doctor and Rose as apparently the The Christmas Invasion may be released on DVD on Boxing Day, which would presumably be just a day or so after broadcast and in time for the crazy Boxing Day sales. Apparently some British shops already have it listed for release on December 26th, though it is important to note that nothing official has been announced for a DVD release date - particularly as the exact day the special will be broadcast in the UK (or Canada for that matter) has also not yet been officially announced.

(2) Comments

September 21, 2005

Tennant as Barty Crouch

This Japanese piece on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire shows David Tennant as Barty Crouch Jr, trying to look mean.

and another:

(1) Comments

September 15, 2005

Pass the Inflatable Dalek!


To give everyone an idea of how big Doctor Who is in the UK right now, this is a photo taken from the crowd of a recent international cricket match between England and Australia. 

Will this become a new trend in sporting events? Will we see inflatable Daleks passed around the jam-packed stadiums of English Premier League matches from now on?  Perhaps in next year’s World Cup?

Only time will tell.

(0) Comments

September 01, 2005

In Tribute to Michael Sheard


As many people may have heard by now, Michael Sheard, who appeared in many stories in the classic series, has sadly passed away at the age of 65 from cancer. Sci-Fi Fans may also recall his appearances in Blake’s 7 as well as The Empire Strikes Back and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Sheard appeared first appeared in Doctor Who way back in 1966 during the William Hartnell era, in The Ark, then followed that up with appearances alongside Jon Pertwee in The Mind of Evil (1971), next to Tom Baker in Pyramids of Mars (1975) in arguably his most well-remembered Doctor Who appearance, with Tom Baker again in The Invisible Enemy (1977), with Peter Davison in Castrovalva (1982), and with Sylvester McCoy in Remembrance of the Daleks (1988). He also co-starred with Paul McGann in the Doctor Who audio The Stones of Venice which, while originally released on CD by Big Finish in 2001, is slated to be broadcast on BBC7 starting October 1st. Although no-one knew it at the time, it turned out to be his final Doctor Who role, and as it shall be broadcast so soon after his untimely death it perhaps can serve as a fitting tribute to this fine actor. He will be missed.

(4) Comments

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