Doctor Who fans have been spoilt rotten this weekend, and over the past week and although there were inklings of apprehension alongside the excitement, the truth has come out and it’s been universally agreed (read my review here) that Saturday night’s 50th Anniversary episode was an equally epic and a fitting accolade to all things Who.
Today I attended the celebration of all things Doctor Who at the ExCel in London, organised by the glorious BBC. The halls were filled with everything that’s made the longest running Sci-fi show become such a part of our culture. As well as talks in the main theatre, which we’ll come back to, there were endless behind-the-scenes people in attendance to show you how the monsters were made, how the visual effects worked, a make-up and wardrobe trailer, costumes from companions, the Doctor’s various outfits, sets (including an awesome TARDIS photo console), props, signings stunt shows and even a good old-fashioned Pub Quiz but without the pub, it’s a family show after all.
The first Theatre Show was presented by the current voice of the Daleks (and other monsters), Nicholas Briggs. He introduced the 5th, 6th and 7th Doctors who are – I know you know this – Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. You’ll see in the images below that they made themselves comfortable and McCoy is still as eccentric as ever and couldn’t resist mentioning that although he nearly killed the show, he had to go and get a job in THE HOBBIT to make ends meet. They spoke of the limited budgets and Davison spoke on the difficulty of talking to Monsters who can hardly see you, plus an amusing speech at the wedding of his daughter Georgia Moffett getting married to David Tennant. Colin Baker also mentioned a line that really encapsulates Doctor Who, and a personal favourite, is in ‘The Doctor Dances’ when Eccleston’s 9th says ‘Everybody lives!’
Following this, The Eleventh Hour panel was the one that captured the hearts of this more current crowd and showed a softer side to show-runner Steven Moffat, something I’ve not seen for a while beyond after his usual sarcasm and purposeful ambiguous replies. The talk was introduced by Matthew Sweet, who led the Q&A at the screening of ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’ at the BFI, and the crowd roared when Moffat was joined by Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman. Also joining them on the sofa was Nick Hurran, who directed ‘Day of the Doctor’ and did an outstanding job.
It was clear as the love of the fans attending that show maestro Steven Moffat is every fragment the Doctor Who affectionado. As well as commenting on the astonishing 10.2m overnight viewing figures, he also said that this 50th Anniversary special was a new beginning for Doctor Who and gave the reason why he couldn’t write the destruction of Gallifrey, saying:
“I bet he [The Doctor] didn’t really, I bet he wouldn’t because the Doctor would find another way.”
This showed more of the real essence of the truth behind the show and eventually led Moffat towards a stirring speech, which reminded us all that occasionally the writer can be the last to consider when you consider the bigger picture. When asked about a world without Doctor Who, he first commented that our heroes can be a bit depressing but The Doctor is different:
“Heroes are important. Heroes tell us who we want to be but when they made this particular hero they didn’t give him a gun, they gave him a screwdriver to fix things. They didn’t give him a tank or a warship or an X-Wing, they gave him a call box from which you can call for help and they didn’t give him a superpower or a heat-ray, they gave him an extra heart. And that’s extraordinary. There will never come a time when we don’t need a hero like The Doctor.”
Then, in a second of pause, he fell directly into ‘Happy Birthday Doctor Who!’ and received a rousing round of applause. Moving on, Jenna, Nick and Steven spoke of Matt Smith’s full commitment to every day of filming, how he knows the names of everyone involved and brought that crucial vitality for every single instant. This led Matt to speak of his genuine love for his fellow cast and crew members and how proud he was of his four years. After showing the final scene of ‘The Day of the Doctor’, Matt commented on his performance:
“It’s funny as an actor, because watching that back, I just said to Jenna ‘Why am I pulling such a stupid face?!’ But [anyway] it’s exciting, seeing all the Doctors on a cloud with Gallifrey, it doesn’t get much better than that and seeing it on the big TV with my voice and he’s mad as a box of lunatic frogs. It’s just really exciting!”
When asked about the future, Matt also wanted to know if he still gets to be The Doctor, a resounding ‘Yes!’ came from the audience, and how occasionally he still accidentally signs cheques ‘The Doctor’. Matthew Sweet then proceeded to tell us that Matt’s mum, who was in the audience, didn’t want him to leave either. Matt commented:
“She’s really annoyed I’m leaving Doctor Who. [She] begged me to not to and it’s so hard to leave. You constantly think you’re making a terrible decision, I’ve had a good innings and I think you’ve got to be grateful for what you’ve done and I very much am. I’m very pleased with Christmas and think it was wonderful script. I do wish I’d had another year with Jen as I think we could have evolved together, but I hand over to the great Mr Capaldi.”
As well as questions from the audience, Moffat and company also left us with some teasers for the Christmas special saying that it would be a concoction of all his stories but, most excitingly:
“It does contain Matt Smith’s finest performance as The Doctor and possibly finest ever performance as the Doctor.”
So, while Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows start to initially take centre-stage and Moffat laughing at the fact that he’s taking ‘So much credit for half his face.’ the panel left us all entertained, informed and eager for what’s to come. I can’t wait for new explorations into the imagination and a whole new world of Doctor Who, so bring on the 13th, or is that the 12th Doctor? Only Who, knows.
Photos: Dan Bullock
Thanks to the BBC!