Thoughts on Dr Who’s 50th


1.       The BBC knows how to make Dr Who into an event

The BBC’s manipulation of different media to build the show’s brand has become formidable enough to be a subject of academic study: my sister’s degree included her writing an essay on it. The buzz they created around announcing the 11th (or should that now be 12th) Doctor was formidable but for this anniversary they pushed it towards hysteria. Expect mini episodes and the like to become more common from now on and what are essentially program length trailers to become more common.

2.       An Adventure in Time and Space and the Culture Show were sublime

Some of the programmes that made up this barrage of buzz building were excellent. Mark Gattiss’ drama about the beginnings of Dr Who was surprisingly moving but the surprise champion (in my opinion) was Matthew Sweet’s unconventional take on the cultural impact of the show. Both were essentially fans’ loveletters to their childhood televisual loves.

3.  Brian Cox is a superb actor

Playing the renegade head of BBC drama and Dr Who mastermind Sydney Newman he stole just about every scene of an Adventure in Time and Space he was in. Why he’s not mentioned alongside people like Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan and Simon Russell Beale I don’t know.

4. I hadn’t realised quite how primitive TV drama was in 1963

So primitive in fact that it seems to have been more like theatre to a camera rather than a live audience. The early Dr Who serials were apparently shot on a single set, with a strictly rationed number of cuts and only 90mins on that to shoot 30mins of film.

5.       The Doctor may be old but Bruce Forsyth has been around longer
Apparently part of the rational for commissioning Dr Who was to see off the damage being done to the BBC’s Saturday night audiences by Sunday Night at the London Palladium hosted by Bruce Forsyth. What was on immediately before the Day of the Doctor? Strictly Come Dancing hosted by Bruce Forsyth!
6.       The US is learning to love Dr Who
Or part of it is at least. The highbrow American magazines whose website I regularly scour devoted a quite surprising amount of space to it. But I think it’s adoption in America has been a bit like the Killings rise in the UK: something mass market has become bohemian and upmarket in the journey.
*Spoiler Warning: I’m now talking about the Day of the Doctor itself and giving away key plots points*
7. Clara remains a plot point not a proper character
Even now the mystery of who she is has been cleared up, she still seems to only be there to instigate the Doctor to do the things the plot requires. She’s very far from feeling like a rounded character in her own right.
8. Maybe that UNIT scientist with the Tom Baker scarf could replace her
With a new Doctor on the way, we are surely due a new companion? Especially given that the current one is so underwhelming.
If so, based on her short time on screen the new UNIT scientist – apparently called Osgood – would seem like a good choice. She’d be like the fans version of themselves on screen and be quite different from any of the companions since the show returned.

9. It seems rather mean spirited of Christopher Eccleston not to appear
I mean how much would it have taken to show John Hurt regenerating into him? Like a day’s work if that.

10. Moffatt knows how to delight geeks
Zygons, lots of in jokes and TOM BAKER!!!

11. Saving Gallifrey makes NO sense!
Unless I’m missing something this is dumb. Wasn’t the reason the Doctor destroyed the Time Lords in the first place that they had become monsters who wanted to destroy the universe? Wasn’t the 10th (or 11th) Doctor killed trying to stop them from bringing Gallifrey back? Didn’t the mini-episode the BBC released earlier this week say that they were now as bad as Daleks?! Why save them?