Tag Archives: doctor who

BBC Three: Still a magic number

With today’s announcement that licence payer funded channel BBC3 is for the axe, social media is divided about whether the cost cutting move is the right one. Whilst I’m all for brand new up and coming talent being denied opportunities so that Eastenders can have more car crashes, it has to be said that BBC3 has dished up some decent (and admittedly not so decent) material in the past.

Our Man In The North is donning his nostalgia hat and taking a reflective look back at some of the shows born of BBC3. Shows as globally popular as Little Britain, Gavin and Stacey, Torchwood and Anthea Turner’s Perfect Housewife (No? Just me then…) made their humble beginnings on the channel and, whilst Snog Marry Avoid suggests otherwiseBBC3 is undeserved of its reputation as a peddler of trash TV.

ImageFor every Don’t Tell The Bride (which incidentally gave me some GREAT ideas for my own wedding. Dressing the sisters in law as goblins was inspired) there was a fantastic documentary such as Tough Young Teachers, Tourettes: I Swear I can Sing, Young Soldiers and Growing Up With Downs. Far from being the inane programming BBC3 was famed for, the documentaries that were hidden amongst the schedules could be deep, moving, thought provoking and groundbreaking and, whilst a scroll down their documentary history presents other titles such as Eastenders Sweethearts: The Story of Sonia and Martin, Britain’s Worst Teeth and Table Dancing Diaries (in which paperback journals give some very erotic lap dances, I assume), there have been some true gems.   Continue reading

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Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor

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All right then. We have at long last wrapped up all those dangling threads that have been hanging around since the Pandorica opened and the Doctor reset the universe. And we have said farewell to the wonderful Matt Smith. Regular readers of these sofa-based despatches will not be surprised to learn that I waterproofed the laptop before sitting down to watch Eleven’s swansong (and that it was just as well that I did).

After being bounced around inessential, but not irrelevant, scenes like a pinball – the now traditional Doctor Who opening – we find ourselves, inevitably, on Trenzalore. We learn at last who blew up the Tardis, why silence must fall (not to mention who the Silence are), what’s on the other side of the crack in the universe (and that it was the crack that the Doctor saw back in his hotel room The God Complex), and why the oldest question in the universe is Doctor who?

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Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor

The-Day-of-the-DoctorI think Steven Moffat has given my brain indigestion. Even sleep didn’t untangle the knots he tied in my mind last night. It seems that The Day of the Doctor is an episode that genuinely requires two passes – the first to follow the plot, the second to absorb the story.

The first viewing left me a little deflated – there were so many good things in there, but it hadn’t moved me (and as you will know by now, I cry at the drop of hat – be it a fez or a stetson). A rewatching has, however, had me reaching for the tissues…

I can’t tell you if this is a reflection on my diminishing abilities to keep up with the Moff’s timey-wimey plotting, or a change in the way the man writes.

(Spoilers of many things 50th-related below the line…)

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Doctor Who (7.13): Love hurts actually

Seventh Doctor[Spoilers all the way down this week.]

Oh, he’s a clever so-and-so that Steven Moffat. The fans want a multi-Doctor episode to mark the 50th anniversary, so he gives us not one but several. He’s been dripfeeding us echoes of Doctors One to Ten for weeks and when we sit down to watch the series finale, with  – let’s be honest – half an eye on the November special, he gives us all Ten (blink and you miss Eight though) and in a way that makes sense.

He doesn’t, of course, tell us the Doctor’s name, because the power of it lies in its mystery. There is no name you can give him that can match his chosen name or the draw of the secret surrounding his other name.

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Doctor Who (7.12): “Stay alive … and don’t let anyone blow up this planet”

The Doctor, Nightmare in SilverWooooohooo! Now we’re on fire… Neil Gaiman is back at the keyboard and applying his Midas touch for a second time. And as long as you weren’t expecting another The Doctor’s Wife (he did tweet that he didn’t even try to top it) I’m hoping you enjoyed it as much as Hat Jr and I did.

One of my favourite things about Neil Gaiman’s writing is his gift for deception. He has a sleight of hand that is breathtaking (Neverwhere is a classic example, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, by the way) and immensely satisfying. It also makes rewatching a special joy.

[Spoilers below the line]

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Doctor Who (7.11): There’s trouble at mill…

The Crimson HorrorWell that was fun! And funny too. Master of gothic humour (or perhaps I mean gothic and humour) Mark Gatiss has turned in one of the best episodes of the series with The Crimson Horror.

Look at the ingredients – Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax, more Victorian references than you can shake a stick at, ‘trouble at mill’, Diana Rigg AND her daughter Rachael Stirling, creative use of flashback and a Willy Wonka-esque ‘manufacturing process’ – and you can’t help but get your hopes up.

[Spoilers below the line....]

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Doctor Who (7.10): Don’t mess with the missus

The Van Baalen brothersThere are spaceships that get you from A to B, spaceships that are sci-fi icons (the Enterprise D, the Millennium Falcon, Red Dwarf, to name but three), and then there is the Tardis. The greatest spaceship in all creation. She’s not just bigger on the inside, she’s “infinite”. She has a heart, soul and personality – she is alive. She is, as Neil Gaiman showed us so exquisitely, to all intents and purposes the Doctor’s wife. So the very idea of her being salvaged as scrap is anathema. But that is exactly what this episode promises. Hold tight as the Doctor’s oldest and best companion is put in the gravest of danger…

[We get spoilery below the line...]

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Joy of Sets: New Doctor Who – Series 1

Christopher Eccleston

[Contains mild spoilers]

It’s easy to forget what sort of pressure there must have been for the rebooted Doctor Who to be a success back in 2005. Doctor Who was still a cult thing (though a popular cult thing) and the most recent attempt to resuscitate the series had been the Doctor Who movie with Paul McGann.

Rewatching ‘Rose’ as it introduces a whole new generation to the Doctor, the Tardis, the aliens and the monsters, is still a pleasure. It reminds us that it’s often the monsters that could be close to home that are the scariest – shop window dummies that come alive and make a sinister creaking noise as they move – but the fact that the Doctor remains cheerful in the face of danger stops it becoming horrific.

I adored Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. He was perfect as the first rebooted Time Lord – sarky, funny, serious, rude and good at running. In fact, the first word he says as the Doctor is one that defined the Russell T Davies era for many: “Run!”

I was hooked from episode one, but there’s no denying that Rose does look (if you’ll pardon the expression) a little plastic compared to later episodes. Though I’m prepared to overlook everything for this exchange: Rose – “If you’re an alien, how comes you sound like you’re from the north?” Ninth Doctor – “Lots of planets have a north.”

Across 13 episodes we get to experience the mercurial nature of the Doctor, always the cleverest man in the room, but so often missing the point – at least as far as humans are concerned.

Reasons to rewatch this box set?

1. Christopher Eccleston (see above).

2. Dalek. Asks hard questions of the Doctor and shows us his brittle, battle-scarred side – it’s not a pretty sight. Also demonstrates that the Daleks have learned to conquer that old enemy – stairs…

3. Aliens of London/World War Three is not the ‘tosh’ that some dismiss it as. It’s not the best of the first series, but forgive the writers for trying to make the younger half of their audience laugh (few things make eight-year-olds laugh as hard as farts after all) and pay attention to a chilling conceit – aliens hiding in the upper echelons of government and planning a nuclear holocaust so they can sell off the planet to the highest bidders – and all the ‘domestic’ stuff that the Doctor hates so much. Russell T Davies captures the fallout of a 19-year-old girl vanishing perfectly – of course her mum would be distraught, of course her boyfriend would be a murder suspect. Including the emotional baggage didn’t turn Doctor Who into a soap opera, it gave it heart.

4. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. My personal favourites of the first series. There are still moments that give me chills even on third or fourth rewatch. It has Captain Jack, though at the beginning of his character arc his ways aren’t as winning as they will be, Christopher Eccleston dancing, the gasmask monsters, a reference to Oliver, and “Everybody lives Rose! Just this once, everybody lives!”

The parting of the ways5. The Long Game/The Parting of the Ways. It still had me on the edge of my seat and it still made me cry. There are thrills of fear and love and it’s the moment where we see how the Doctor has made better people not just of Rose and Jack, but Mickey and Jackie too. It’s the story that makes me wish Christopher Eccleston had stayed longer  - even though David Tennant is My Doctor (and I’m itching to get onto Series 2 now). This two-parter was a great ending to a great series.

It’s been an absolute joy to rewatch. Fantastic? I should coco…

Posted by Jo the Hat

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Doctor Who (7.9): “The paradoxes resolve themselves, by and large”

It’s difficult to believe that Hide was written by the same hand as The Rings of Akhaten. I have to say I loved almost everything about it. The spookiness, the misunderstandings, Dougray Scott, the TARDIS being ‘a cow’, how everything (except the psychic crown thing) looked stunning. Shall I stop gushing and go back to the beginning?
(Spoilers, obviously, from here on in)
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Doctor Who (7.8): Under pressure

Doctor Who: Ice WarriorBlimey, the only thing that could have made this week’s episode more timely was a Nasa announcement that it’s found proof of life on Mars.

I didn’t really enjoy the Eighties the first time I lived through them (though the pop music was very good) – and have clear memories of the Cold War (living next to two American and one British air base, focussed the mind on the nuclear issue somewhat) – and I haven’t relished reliving them in a somewhat concentrated form for the past week thanks to Kim Jong-un and the death of ‘that woman’. I did enjoy Mark Gatiss’s Cold War though – a beautifully tense and claustrophobic piece of television.

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