Okay, did you watch it???? What do you mean “Watch what????” I meant the new Doctor Who 50th anniversary trailer… I didn’t mean “Strictly Come Dancing”!!!! (OK, I did catch the last few minutes to make sure I watched the trailer (ahem)).
If you didn’t see it and want to know what the fuss is about visit this YouTube page.
This teaser for the forthcoming 50th anniversary celebrations was a bit of a “moment” for me. I watched “Doctor Who” during the classic era and although landmarks anniversaries were acknowledged, there was no real fuss made about them, well apart from “The Five Doctors” which was, to my mind the only REAL stab at an anniversary special. (For the fans who put forward “The Three Doctors” as a special, I’m afraid that it doesn’t count as it started transmission in 1972 although it is a great multi-Doctor story).
The tenth and twentieth were acknowledged as above, the twenty-fifth got “Silver Nemesis” as it’s official celebration – a story which featured Cybermen, a group of men who want to bring about “The Fourth Reich”, a mad villainess from the times of the Stuart era of the British monarchy, a living statue and, unfortunately if you’ve watched the original version rather than the special edition released on VHS video in 1993, a plot that creaks, and in some respect falls apart, under the weight of all these elements and a need to edit the story down into three twenty-five minute episodes. (In my opinion, the official story should have been “Remembrance Of The Daleks” by Ben Aaronovitch).
There was a little fuss made of the thirtieth as although the programme was not in production at the time, there was a special season which transmitted the 1973 story “Planet Of The Daleks” which included some mini documentaries prior to the transmission of each episode; BBC radio commissioned and transmitted the audio drama “The Paradise Of Death” starring Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney; the brilliant documentary “Thirty Years In The TARDIS” which led on to the release on video (and earlier this year on DVD) “More Than Thirty Years In The TARDIS”; a special weekend on the satellite television station “UK Gold” where fans could select the stories they wanted to see… and then the Beeb went and ruined it by commissioning “Dimensions In Time” (aka “Five Doctors and their companions meet the cast of EastEnders because the Rani has a plot to keep them all in Albert Square” – a fate worse than death for any Time Lord or their companion) – granted it formed part of the annual “Children In Need” charity celebrations, but “Doctor Who” has had better acknowledgements in this particular evening (most notably the regeneration mini-episode in 2005 and “Time Crash” in 2007). (I will qualify this though by saying it was also the thirtieth anniversary that prompted me to go to my first convention).
The fortieth anniversary heralded what could have been a fresh direction for the franchise as Richard E. Grant took up the mantle of the Doctor in the online story “The Scream Of The Shalka” (released last month on DVD), but any chance of a continuing online series of adventures for this Ninth Doctor was brought to a very swift conclusion with what was probably the best fortieth birthday present the fans wanted – the return of “Doctor Who” to our television screens.
As for the fiftieth, well I have to admit that in comparison to previous anniversaries, we’re being positively spoiled. Two book ranges featuring an adventure for each of the Doctors with a third to start in December with some major writing talent such as Jenny Colgan, Cecelia Aherne and Trudi Canavan waiting in the wings ; a range of audio stories (“Destiny Of The Doctor”) featuring a loosely linked narrative for each of the Doctors; the special “1963” mini-series of Big Finish audios as part of the monthly range focussing on the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors plus the official audio anniversary celebration “The Light At The End” starring Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, along with various companions from the history of the programme, facing off against Geoffrey Beevers reprising his role as The Master from the 1981 story “The Keeper Of Traken”; special magazines from the official “Doctor Who Magazine” (plus, I imagine, a special edition of the “Radio Times” in time for the anniversary itself); releases of classic soundtracks by Silva Screen alongside their regular releases of soundtracks by Murray Gold; and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg with the mass of t-shirts, books, fan events and other paraphernalia out there. (Plus the big news of last week of the recovery of “The Enemy Of The World” and the majority of “The Web Of Fear”).
As for the BBC itself, well. BBC America were quick off the mark with “The Doctors Revisited” – a monthly series of documentaries focussing on each of the Doctors partnered with an iconic story from the programme’s history. In addition to this series, they have produced an overview of the programme as a whole and devoted a programme to the companions. These programmes have been distributed across the world and commenced transmission last week on the UK’s “Watch” channel.
The BBC themselves have been a bit more measured in the build up and despite a bit of a fandom own goal with the whole Comic-Con “incident” (which I was miffed about, but then got a bit more philosophical about it and remembered that it’s more than what the Beeb did during the classic years), they’ve been careful to tease the collective Whovian fandom with the two mini-trailers alongside this new trailer.
Within this trailer, you get a one minute potted history tour of the Whoniverse with opening from the policeman and the Totter’s Lane gate from the opening episode “An Unearthly Child” right up to Matt announcing that it is “The Day Of The Doctor”, which indicated that Steven Moffat is going to start “Phase 2″/”Chapter 2″ of the Doctor’s adventures from this adventure onwards.
The trailer itself is a mixture of TARDIS keys, sonic screwdrivers, jelly babies, the first representation of William Hartnell in HD quality colour, current companions and absent friends, Daleks and Autons and Angels (Oh my!!!), the third Doctor locked in combat with the Master, Bessie, The Shard, The Golden Gate Bridge, TARDIS consoles and voice overs alongside Matt Smith’s moody commentary. I could go on and on and on. I have to admit that I was like a fanboy who’s had too much caffeine mixed with a sugar high.
The BBC will, no doubt, ratchet up this sense of anticipation with the same level of care and attention that has been provided so far. After all, it’s like waiting for Santa to arrive on Christmas Day or reading the last page of the mystery before reading the book, or as a certain Professor of the Doctor’s acquaintance regularly says, “Spoilers.”
As for the television related build up, there’s a “Monsters and Villains” weekend on BBC3, a “12 Again” special on the CBBC (Children’s BBC) channel featuring actors from the series and celebrity fans, a lecture by Professor Brian Cox on the Whoniverse, documentaries on the TV and radio on various aspects of the programme. And then there are the two “tent-pole” programmes for the anniversary celebrations. Although a lot of fans are excited about the prospect of Doctors Ten and Eleven encountering their “Secret” incarnation, a possible glimpse into the Time War and the return of Rose Tyler and the Zygons, I am equally as excited for the docudrama, “An Adventure in Space and Time”, written by Mark Gatiss and starring David Bradley (Argus Filch in the “Harry Potter” film series and Solomon in the “Doctor Who” episode “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”) in the role of William Hartnell, Jessica Raine (“Hide” and “Call The Midwife”) in the role of the programme’s first producer Verity Lambert and Brian Cox in the role of the “father” of the programme, Sydney Newman, along with other people who have been in the show itself such as Nicholas Briggs, Mark Eden, Jeff Rawle and, most notably, William Russell who portrayed Ian Chesterton from 1963 to 1965 and Carole Ann Ford who portrayed the Doctor’s grand-daughter, Susan. For somebody like myself who likes all the extras on the Classic DVD releases about how episodes were conceived and made, this will feel like an insight into a hidden piece of “Doctor Who”‘s past.
So, whilst the trailer isn’t up to the anticipation levels of fans, and I would admit to wanting to see some more from this trailer, let’s think of it as the warm-up for the main act. It’s been quite a while since there’s been a party like this in Whovian circles and I’m sure it’ll be a corker.