BFI: Tenth Doctor panel videoBookmark and Share

Monday, 28 October 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The video of the guest panel at the BFI's celebratory screenings for the Tenth Doctor's era is now available to watch online.

Held on Sunday 29th September as part of its Doctor Who At 50 season, the event saw The Stolen Earth and Journey's End shown on the big screen, with David Tennant, Catherine Tate, Phil Collinson, and Graeme Harper taking to the stage afterwards for a discussion and question-and-answer session with season co-curator Justin Johnson.

A three-minute excerpt was uploaded to the BFI's YouTube channel today,
with the full Q&A - just shy of 30 minutes in length - available to watch in the BFI's video section.

An Unearthly Series - The Origins of a TV LegendBookmark and Share

Sunday, 27 October 2013 - Reported by Anthony Weight
The Dalek Factor
Part twenty-seven in our series telling the story of the creation of Doctor Who, and the people who made it happen.

After the travails of recent weeks, with the abandonment of the original pilot and the cold feet of the Controller of BBC1, as October began to draw to a close Doctor Who was looking a little safer. It was guaranteed a run of at least 13 episodes, and the second of those had now been recorded, with rehearsals due to begin on the third. Work was also continuing on pre-production and scripting for other serials, most immediately the seven-episode adventure by writer Terry Nation, which was to come second in the running order.

This would include creatures called the Daleks - Doctor Who's first race of alien monsters. On Sunday 27th October 1963, exactly fifty years ago today, draughtsman A. Webb drew up the earliest surviving formal designs for the Daleks, from the plans of designer Raymond Cusick. These would be sent to Shawcraft Models, to be constructed ready for use by 20th November. Nobody at the time knew it, but a legend was being born.

Nation's serial was to be an important one for the young series. Neither producer Verity Lambert nor story editor David Whitaker had been entirely keen on the opening story, An Unearthly Child by Anthony Coburn, but by the time they both joined the series it was too late to change it. Nation's scripts would therefore be the first serial they had entirely sought out and commissioned themselves, with Whitaker having selected Nation after being impressed by his work on the ITV science-fiction anthology series Out of this World. Nation had initially been unwilling to work on the programme, but after parting with his previous employer, comedian Tony Hancock, had taken up the offer. Nation had been able to deliver his scripts quickly and write efficiently within the format of the programme, and Lambert and Whitaker had been impressed with his work. With no other serial in as ready a state as Nation's, his tale of post-apocalyptic struggle on a distant alien world was promoted to second in the young programme's running order.

At seven episodes, Nation's scripts would take up a sizeable chunk of the 13-episode run that Doctor Who had been given in which to prove itself by a somewhat reluctant BBC1. The Head of Serials, Donald Wilson, disliked Nation's scripts and did not want Lambert to use them, but she successfully argued that nothing else was ready. Wilson's superior, the Head of Drama Sydney Newman, did not see the scripts or any designs for the serial, as by this stage he was taking a less hands-on role in the production of the programme that he himself has initiated - he did not see the Daleks until the viewers themselves did, in December.

Cusick had not been the designer originally allocated to the story. Future Hollywood film director Ridley Scott, then also working for the design department of the BBC, had orignally been given the task, but problems with his availability meant that it was Cusick who had to come up with a design to match the description in Nation's script:

Hideous machine-like creatures. They are legless, moving on a round base. They have no human features. A lens on a flexible shaft acts as an eye. Arms with mechanical grips for hands. The creatures hold strange weapons in their hands.

Nation was keen to get away from traditional science-fiction film images of monsters being obviously men dressed up in suits, but when Cusick sought advice on how to realise this concept from Doctor Who's veteran associate producer Mervyn Pinfield, he was dismayed to hear Pinfield suggest just that. Pinfield had been assigned to Doctor Who particularly for his ability to advise on technical matters, and his suggestion for the Daleks was a budget-conscious one. He told Cusick to design a costume of a large cardboard tube around the actor's torso, with other tubes around the arms and legs, and for the whole ensemble to be painted silver.

Cusick found greater inspiration when he spoke directly to Nation. The scriptwriter had been enthused by seeing a performance by the Georgian State Dancers, in which the female members of the Soviet group wore long dresses entirely concealing their legs and feet, and thus seemed to glide across the floor without any visible method of movement. Cusick, inspired by this, experimented with various designs all based around the idea of a seated operator entirely enclosed by the outline of the design, with no visible arms or legs.

Cusick worked throughout October on refining the design, consulting with other experts in the field such as Bernard Wilkie and Jack Kine of the BBC Visual Effects Department. By 27th October, fifty years ago today, he had completed his design, to be constructed by the outside company Shawcraft Models. This was still not quite the final design - after the designs had been delivered to Shawcraft, the company's boss Bill Roberts made his own refinements to make the props easier, cheaper, and more efficient to construct within the time and budget available. Changes Roberts made included having the gun and sucker arms mounted on the same level, rather than at different levels as in Cusick's design. But beyond such comparatively minor changes, the design of the Dalek, the iconic image familiar to millions even fifty years later, all stems from the designs of October 27th.

Shawcraft would have £750 to construct the four Dalek props which would be needed for the making of Nation's serial, but the appearance of the creatures was not the only element that was being developed through October. The Dalek serial had been assigned two directors - the more experienced Christopher Barry would handle the majority of the serial, while newcomer Richard Martin would also direct some episodes, to help learn his trade. Barry had initially approached the Post Office's Joint Speech Research Unit to investigate providing voices for the Dalek creatures, but wasn't quite able to obtain what was wanted. Martin then approached a body which had already worked on Doctor Who, providing the theme tune - the BBC's own Radiophonic Workshop, based at Maida Vale.

The workshop's Brian Hodgson met with Martin, who explained the type of grating, metallic voice that was wanted. Hodgson, inspired by a robot voice he had previously created for a radio serial called Sword From the Stars, came up with the idea of using a ring modulator to process an actor's voice and create the kind of effect that was desired. Hodgson and Martin experimented with using the modulation process on the voice of actor Peter Hawkins, concentrating on the vowel sounds where the modulation was most effective. The trial session took place in Studio G at Lime Grove Studios on 24th October 1963, when Cusick's designs for the creatures they were coming up with a voice for had still not been completed. The two elements would come together to create a sensation - although nobody, of course, knew that at the time.

Doctor Who had still to prove itself - but with less than a month to go until the transmission of its first episode, there was not long to wait to see what the general public would make of this programme that had been enduring such a struggle to reach the screen. Meanwhile, production continued both on the first serial and on the Dalek adventure - from Monday 28th October, Waris Hussein and his cast would begin rehearsing the third episode of the programme, The Forest of Fear, while on the same day at the BBC Television Film Studios at Ealing pre-filming work began on The Daleks, using 35mm film for stunts, model work and other complicated sequences.

Next EpisodeAn Absolute Knock-Out
SOURCES: Doctor Who Magazine issue 331 (Panini Comics, 25 June 2003); Doctor Who Magazine issue 460 (Panini Comics, June 2013); Dalek 6388 - 1: The Dead Planet
Compiled by:
Paul Hayes

Cinema screenings of The Day of the Doctor announced for the USBookmark and Share

Thursday, 24 October 2013 - Reported by Harry Ward
The Day Of The Doctor; US Screening poster (Credit: BBC) BBC America have announced that 3D cinema screenings of The Day of the Doctor will take place across the United States on 23 and 25 November.

Participating cinemas on 23 November are listed below. Tickets for these screenings will go on sale tomorrow (25 October) at 9am EST and may be purchased from and
Los Angeles: Cinemark Rave 18 + IMAX (Los Angeles, CA), Century Huntington Beach and XD (Huntington Beach, CA)
New York: AMC Loews Village 7 (New York, NY), Regal E-Walk Stadium 13 & RPX (New York, NY)
Chicago: Century 12 Evanston/CinéArts 6 and XD (Evanston, IL), Cinemark 16 + IMAX (Woodridge, IL)
Philadelphia: University Penn 6 (Philadelphia, PA), Cinemark 16 (Somerdale, NJ)
Dallas-Ft. Worth: Cinemark West Plano + XD (Plano, TX)
San Francisco-Oak-San Jose: Century San Francisco Centre 9 (San Francisco, CA)
Washington, DC (Hagerstown): Fairfax Corner 14 + Xtreme (Fairfax, VA)
Houston: Cinemark 17 + XD (The Woodlands, TX)
Atlanta: Cinemark Tinseltown 17 (Fayetteville, GA)
Seattle-Tacoma: Lincoln Square Cinema 16 with IMAX (Bellevue, WA)
Minneapolis: AMC Southdale 16 (Edina, MN)
You can find a full list of participating cinemas showing the episode on 25 November at the Fathom Events website.

Soumya Sriraman, EVP Home Entertainment and Licensing for BBC Worldwide North America, commented:
Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary is truly a global celebration and we’re thrilled to bring the special to the silver screen. Our partnerships with Cinemark, AMC, Regal Cinemas and NCM Fathom Events will give fans, on November 23 and 25, the opportunity to see the Doctor in a whole new way – in RealD™ 3D.
Shelly Maxwell, executive vice president of NCM Fathom Events said:
The Day of The Doctor is upon us and fans of the BBC AMERICA sci-fi series Doctor Who have the opportunity to see the time-travelling adventures like never before in 3D from their local movie theater. There’s never been a better time to be a Whovian during the 50th Anniversary celebration of this huge BBC hit that’s invaded America.

The Light at the End released earlyBookmark and Share

Thursday, 24 October 2013 - Reported by Josiah Rowe
Big Finish Productions have released The Light at the End, their 50th anniversary Doctor Who story, one month before the programme's actual anniversary:
Light at the End special edition cover (Credit: Big Finish) We’re very pleased to announce that today is the day we’re beginning the release of our 50th anniversary Doctor Who story The Light at the End. We’re beginning with the Limited Edition CD box set.

It's the 23rd of October, one month ahead of the anniversary of Doctor Who on the 23rd of November, and as of today, the digital download releases for all versions of Doctor Who: The Light at the End will be made available. This includes the Limited Edition, the Standard Edition and the Vinyl Edition.

Mailing out of the Limited Edition CD version has begun today.

Nick Briggs, executive producer: ‘The Standard Edition CDs should start to be mailed out this coming Friday, and the Vinyl Edition will start mailing on November 2nd.

‘With the anniversary of Doctor Who imminent,’ continues Nick, ‘and everyone champing at the bit for the celebrations to begin, we thought it only right and proper that our special anniversary full-cast audio should be released a tiny bit early. Our plans for this very nearly went awry when the company responsible for the physical production of our CDs (and LPs!), Key Productions, experienced a series of unforeseeable problems beyond their control. This is what has caused the slight delay on the Standard Edition and the slightly longer delay of the Vinyl Edition. But for all our customers who can access the digital versions of all these releases, they can listen straight away.

‘We know that those customers who favour listening to the CD or the LP rather than downloading a digital version, might find this a little frustrating, but we thought this course of action would benefit the vast majority of our loyal listeners. We offer our sincerest apologies to any customers who find this decision doesn’t suit them, and hope they will understand our reasons for going ahead with the releases now.’

So, for Big Finish Productions, the 50th anniversary has started early. And for any of you who haven't yet ordered your copy of Doctor Who: The Light at the End, it will be on sale at the Dimensions 2013 convention (all tickets now sold) in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors (Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann) will be making guest appearances.

When Big Finish announced on Facebook and Twitter that The Light at the End was available for download, their website was temporarily overloaded by the sudden, strong demand. These problems were subsequently resolved, but Big Finish requested that customers wait to download the story if possible:
As you may have seen, the BF Website is back up and running again. But we would ask that if you can possibly wait a few hours to download The Light at the End, please do. The problem we have discovered is that although we have ample bandwidth to support the download of the quantity of data needed (loads of downloads of The Light at the End) another issue has emerged. The problem is being caused by the sheer number of customers visiting the site at the same time. We have to confess that this is the unforeseen circumstance we simply didn't anticipate. It is because the demand is so unprecedentedly huge that we didn't know to check this before releasing. The analogy that's been used to explain this to us is that it's a bit like having one shop assistant and thousands of customers all arriving at once. Our IT people will continuing monitoring the site and will make all efforts to correct any hold-ups as the hours pass. But, as we said, if you can possibly manage to wait to initiate your download, we would very much appreciate your patience. Huge apologies from all of us here at Big Finish.

The Science of Doctor Who broadcast details announcedBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
Broadcast details for BBC Two's anniversary programme The Science of Doctor Who have been announced.

Professor Brian Cox will present the one-hour programme on Thursday 14th November at 9pm.

Brian takes an audience, with the help of celebrity guests, on a journey into the wonderful universe of the Doctor, in a specially-recorded programme from the lecture theatre of the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

He reveals the science behind the spectacle and explains the physics that allows Doctor Who to travel through space and time. Fun, but filled with real science, it's a special night for Who fans as well as anyone with a thirst for understanding.

Brian is in the unique position of knowing the Doctor's universe inside out as well as the reality behind the drama. When the TARDIS travels through time and space, he understands the physics involved. And when it comes to life on other planets, Brian knows the real science that could prove extra-terrestrial life might just really exist in our galaxy.
Cox is no stranger to Doctor Who, having had a cameo role in The Power of Three last year, as well as taking part in Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor in August.

The Science of Doctor Who is among a host of programmes announced by the BBC to mark Doctor Who's 50th anniversary.

BFI: Day of the Doctor and Eleventh Doctor screeningsBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
With exactly a month to go now to Doctor Who's 50th anniversary, the BFI today announced the final screenings in its year-long celebration of the programme.

It will be showing the anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor in 3D on Saturday 23rd November as part of the global simulcast and cinema screenings worldwide. The time is yet to be confirmed by the BBC. Tickets will go on sale to BFI members from Friday 25th October (9am online and 11.30am by phone and in person) and to non-members from Saturday 26th October from 11.30am. They can be bought via this link. (It should be noted that the start time of 7pm given by the BFI is for guidance only. According to the BFI, the exact start time will be given 10 days before the screening.)

Justin Johnson, the programmer of the BFI's Doctor Who At 50 strand, said:
The BFI is very proud of our long relationship with both the BBC and the Doctor Who production team, and we are delighted to be able to mark the 50th anniversary, and the culmination of our year-long celebrations, with this special screening of The Day of the Doctor.
Then, just over a fortnight later, on Sunday 8th December at 3.45pm, it will mark the Eleventh Doctor's era by showing The Eleventh Hour and The Name of the Doctor. The guest panel for that event is yet to be announced.

Johnson, who curated the season with Dick Fiddy, commented on its culmination by telling Doctor Who News:
It's hard to believe that we're now only a month away from the official 50th anniversary and our year-long celebrations here at BFI Southbank are finally drawing to a close. With ten Doctors under our belt, there's only room for one more, and with An Adventure in Space and Time and The Day of the Doctor 3D both playing in NFT1 in November, our final time-travelling voyage is set for Sunday 8th December as we look at the most recent incumbent to grace the TARDIS.

It's been an amazing year, and if Dick and I had to turn the clock back a year and ask ourselves who we hoped would have graced our stage, we could never have predicted that we would have been in such illustrious company.
Tickets to the Eleventh Doctor screenings on 8th December will be allocated by ballot via the members' section, which BFI Champions can enter from Monday 4th November, and Cinema Members from Tuesday 5th November. The ballot will close on Friday 8th November and will be run over the weekend of 9th and 10th November, with all entrants being notified on Monday 11th November as to whether or not they have been successful. All tickets reserved for Champions and Cinema Members via the ballot will be held for claiming by them until 8.30pm on Friday 15th November, and any that are unclaimed by then will be released for public sale on Saturday 16th November.

As has been the case with all previous events in the season, it will undoubtedly sell out to Champions and Cinema Members, but returns and stand-bys will be a strong possibility, so keep checking with the BFI.

UPDATE - 26th OCTOBER: The BFI was forced to suspend ticket sales for The Day of the Doctor yesterday because of "an issue with card payments". Sales reopened for members today at 9am (online) and 11.30am (phone), and will reopen tomorrow to non-members.

An Adventure in Space and Time: new images releasedBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 - Reported by Chuck Foster
BBC America have released some new images to promote the forthcoming drama An Adventure in Space and Time, featuring the filming of iconic scenes from the early days of the series - a mysterious Doctor Foreman in a junkyard, two teachers discovering the secret of the police box, and an encounter with what would become the most memorable adversary to appear in the series!

Recreating the junkyard scene from the Pilot (Credit: BBC/Hal Shinnie) Recreating the first TARDIS interior scene from the Pilot (Credit: BBC/Hal Shinnie) Recreating an iconic scene with Daleks (Credit: BBC/Hal Shinnie)

The Day of the Doctor: UK cinema screening locations announcedBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 - Reported by Chuck Foster
The Day of the Doctor - Promotional Poster (landscape) (Credit: BBC/Adrian Rogers)BBC Worldwide have announced venues for the 3D screenings of the 50th Anniversary adventure The Day of the Doctor, which will be simulcast in cinemas around the world on the Saturday 23rd November.

In the UK, some 216 VUE, Cineworld, Odeon, BFI and Picturehouse cinemas will participate, with tickets going on sale from this Friday, 25th October at 9:00am.

Internationally, Germany, Russia, the USA and Canada will also have simultaneous screenings with BBC One in the UK, with some 106 cinemas in Australia and New Zealand participating later in the day, as previously announced. Further countries are expected to be announced shortly.

Full details of the announced countries and cinema chains, plus specific booking details can be found via BBC Worldwide.

Find a Cinema Venue for The Day of the Doctor (Credit: BBC Worldwide)

Meanwhile, BBC America will announce details regarding the 3D screenings in select cinemas in the US and Canada.

Note: not all cinemas will simulcast the episode, please check the relevant cinema time for confirmation.

An Unearthly Series - The Origins of a TV LegendBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 - Reported by Anthony Weight
A Crisis Out of a Drama
The twenty-sixth episode in our series telling the story of the creation of Doctor Who and the people who made it happen, fifty years to the day after the major events.

Doctor Who had finally entered regular production, with the new version of the opening episode having been completed, and a new episode being rehearsed. But the Controller of Programmes for BBC1, Donald Baverstock, worried by the financial demands of the series and particularly of the TARDIS interior set, had ordered that production be halted after the opening four-part serial. With Baverstock now on leave, Doctor Who's creators and production team rallied to reverse his decision and prevent the programme from being killed-off before transmission had even begun.

Before Baverstock had departed on three weeks' leave, in his memo to Donald Wilson asking that Doctor Who be stopped after four episodes, he added that he had asked Joanna Spicer and John Mair, from the planning staff, to look into the costs of the series and whether there might be any possibility of continuing. Mair subsequently sent Spicer a memo outlining the story of Doctor Who's production so far, and the costs that had been incurred and might be further incurred in the future. On Tuesday 22 October 1963, exactly fifty years ago today, Spicer held a meeting with some of the key figures involved in Doctor Who and from various BBC production departments, to discuss whether the series could be saved.

Among those present at the meeting along with Spicer were Mair, Wilson (the Head of Serials in the drama department, and thus directly responsible for Doctor Who), the show's producer Verity Lambert, James Bould (the Design Manager for BBC Television) and Jack Kine (the co-founder of the BBC Visual Effects Department). Between them, they were able to thrash out a plan whereby Doctor Who could be allowed to continue - at least for a time. Spicer indicated that Baverstock would be prepared to accept an initial 13-episode run of Doctor Who - returning to a decision he had previously made a week earlier, before his sudden cold feet about the show before going on leave. However, this would only happen if the series could be made within strict limitations on budget and man-hours, with per-episode budgets strictly limited at £2500 each. £75 per episode will go towards the cost of "the ship," £200 on using an outside firm to provide scenic effects, and £500 per episode as the design department's budget. The man-hours allocation is to be 500 per episode.

While more meetings would be needed to work out the exact details, Wilson and Lambert agreed that Doctor Who could produce a 13-episode run within these limitations. Given that the opening serial was due to be followed by Terry Nation's seven-part serial featuring his Dalek creatures, later in the week Lambert and her story editor David Whitaker realised that they would need to add a two-part story after Nation's tale, to create the initial 13-episode run that had been agreed to. With the limited time available, and the fact that there will be no money for additional sets or guest characters, it is decided that Whitaker himself will write a two-part adventure featuring only the four regular cast members, and set entirely on the expensive TARDIS interior set.

During the week, Whitaker also began to establish what stories would follow if Doctor Who were allowed to continue beyond the 13 episodes tentatively agreed to. Being worked on are: a historical story by John Lucarotti in which the time travellers meet Marco Polo; the latest version of the much-desired "miniscules" storyline, now being worked on by Robert Gould; The Masters of Luxor by Anthony Coburn; a possible seven-part historical tale by Whitaker; The Hidden Planet by Malcolm Hulke; The Red Fort, set during the Indian Mutiny, by Nation; and another future-set story, to be four episodes long, with a writer yet to be assigned. This would bring Doctor Who up to the 52-week run originally envisaged by Head of Drama Sydney Newman, should the programme eventually be allowed to continue that far.

By this point, no directors had been assigned to any serials beyond Nation's, on which it has been decided that Christopher Barry will share duties with the less-experienced Richard Martin, a young director who has been attached to Doctor Who for some time. Martin has become very interested in the series, and around this time sends Barry, Whitaker, Lambert and associate producer Mervyn Pinfield a lengthy and detailed memo outlining his thoughts about the TARDIS and its effect on those who travel in it, which reads in part:

The ship is out of time, but in space. The entrance is in both time and space. The entrance (the phone box) can be be described as a time/space ship gangplank. Or compression-decompression (comparison-decomparison) chamber.

The only way to pass down the gangplank is by an effort of will. Therefore if you are afraid or doubtful all you would find is the interior of a phone box, and if you stayed inside you would have a bad headache from the intercellular electronic pulses forming the mental link. Therefore it is not easy to get in and out of the ship. For those unused to it traumatic.

Meanwhile, away from meetings and memos and debates over the future, Doctor Who's regular production is now under way. Having completed the first episode, director Waris Hussein and the cast have moved onto rehearsing "The Cave of Skulls", the second instalment of the opening serial. This was then recorded on Friday 25 October, a week after the previous episode, with Doctor Who to be recorded every Friday until at least 13 episodes have been completed. What would happen after that would depend on whether the costs could be kept down, and how those 13 episodes were received.

The immediate crisis surrounding the future of Doctor Who was over, and it would at least have a chance to make it to the screen. What impact it would have with the audience remained to be seen - but, unknown to anybody, already on the drawing board and nearing completion was a design that would help to take Doctor Who from troubled children's serial to national institution.

Next EpisodeThe Dalek Factor
SOURCES: The Handbook: The First Doctor – The William Hartnell Years: 1963-1966, David J Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (Doctor Who Books, 1994)
Compiled by:
Paul Hayes

Splendid Chaps crowdfunding Sydney show: "Monsters and Villains"Bookmark and Share

Monday, 21 October 2013 - Reported by Adam Kirk
As previously reportedSplendid Chaps is a year-long performance/podcast project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who hosted by comedian Ben McKenzie (Dungeon CrawlMelbourne Museum Comedy Tour) and writer John Richards (ABC1 sitcom OutlandBoxcutters podcast).

Described by its creators as part intellectual panel discussion, part nerdy Tonight Show, Splendid Chaps is a combination of analysis, enthusiasm and irreverence. The first episode went to number 1 on the iTunes TV & Film Podcast chart in Australia, and to number 4 in the UK. The podcasts to previous episodes are now available at or at iTunes.

After a number of successful Melbourne shows, and requests from Sydney based fans, the chaps are now crowdfunding for a possible Sydney show on Saturday 30 November. For fans interested in supporting a Splendid Chaps show in Sydney, or wanting more information, you can visit their Pozible campaign page here. The Chaps have until 2nd November to reach their $3,000 goal.

Guests can't be confirmed until the show is locked in but they've already worded up some great possible guests, including comedian Alice Fraser, host of ABC2′s Good Game, Steven “Bajo” O’Donnell and more (subject to availability)! Like all their shows it will be a mix of intelligent discussion, irreverent banter and a musical act. The Chaps will be looking at the subject of Monsters and Villains – how does the show see them? How has it changed? And why has Who had so many baddies in wheelchairs?
With thanks to John Richards

BBC Trailer Celebrates 50 Years of Doctor WhoBookmark and Share

Saturday, 19 October 2013 - Reported by Harry Ward
A trailer celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who has premiered on BBC One this evening and is now available to watch online.

BBC Trailer to Celebrate 50 Years of Doctor WhoBookmark and Share

Saturday, 19 October 2013 - Reported by Harry Ward
The BBC has announced that it will be broadcasting a trailer to celebrate 50 years of Doctor Who. It will go out on BBC One at 8.20pm on Saturday 19 October just after Strictly Come Dancing and just before Atlantis. The announcement was made along with artwork featuring all eleven Doctors.

The Eleven Doctors: Celebrating 50 Years of Doctor Who (Credit: BBC/Matt Burlem)

The BBC has issued a press release, which you can read below.
A specially-created trailer celebrating the last 50 years of Doctor Who will air tonight on BBC One, as an exclusive image is revealed today featuring the 11 Doctors.

Travelling through time, fans will be taken on a journey from the very beginning using state-of- the-art technology. The special trailer is set to show all of the Doctors as they first appeared on screen, including William Hartnell in high-res colour for the very first time, as celebrations ramp up to 23 November.

A huge moment for the BBC, the 50th celebrations will culminate with the special episode 'The Day of the Doctor', starring Matt Smith, David Tennant and Jenna Coleman with Billie Piper and John Hurt. A whole range of shows has also been commissioned across TV and radio to mark the anniversary.

The minute-long trailer will air after Strictly Come Dancing tonight on BBC One and will also be available on

Time Trips eBook SeriesBookmark and Share

Friday, 18 October 2013 - Reported by Harry Ward
BBC Books have released details on their forthcoming Doctor Who short story eBook series entitled Time Trips. Jake Arnott, Cecelia Ahern and Joanne Harris will join previously announced authors Nick Harkaway, A.L. Kennedy, Jenny Colgan and Trudi Canavan to write for the series. The series will launch on 5 December with The Death Pit, a fourth Doctor story by A.L. Kennedy.
Doctor Who: The Death Pit by A.L. Kennedy (Credit: BBC Books)Doctor Who: The Death Pit
By A.L. Kennedy
Published 5th December 2013 [pre-order]

Something odd is going on at the Fetch Brothers Golf Spa Hotel. Receptionist Bryony Mailer has noticed a definite tendency towards disappearance amongst the guests. She's tried talking to the manager, she's even tried talking to the owner who lives in one of the best cottages in the grounds, but to no avail. And then a tall, loping remarkably energetic guest (wearing a fetching scarf and floppy hat) appears. The Fourth Doctor thinks he's in Chicago. He knows he's in 1978. And he also knows that if he doesn't do something very clever very soon, matters will get very, very out of hand.
Doctor Who: Into the Nowhere by Jenny T. Colgan (Credit: BBC Books)Doctor Who: Into the Nowhere
By Jenny T. Colgan
Published 9th January 2014 [pre-order]

The Eleventh Doctor and Clara land on an unknown alien planet. To the Doctor's delight and Clara's astonishment, it really is unknown. It's a planet the Doctor has never seen. It's not on any maps, it's not referenced on any star charts or in the TARDIS data banks. It doesn't even have a name. What could be so terrible that its existence has been erased?
Doctor Who: Into the Nowhere by Jenny T. Colgan (Credit: BBC Books)Doctor Who: Keeping Up with the Joneses
By Nick Harkaway
Published 6th February 2014 [pre-order]

Deep in the gap between the stars, the TARDIS is damaged by a temporal mine. It's not life-threatening, but the Tenth Doctor will need a while to repair the damage. But he's not alone. The strangely familiar-looking Christina thinks the Doctor has arrived in her bed and breakfast, somewhere in Wales. In fact, the TARDIS seems to have enveloped Christina's entire town - and something else is trapped inside with it. A violent, unnatural storm threatens them all and - unless it's stopped - the entire universe.
Doctor Who: Salt of the Earth by Trudi Canavan (Credit: BBC Books)Doctor Who: Salt of the Earth
By Trudi Canavan
Published 6th March 2014 [pre-order]

The Third Doctor and Jo Grant arrive for a well-deserved holiday of sun and 'blokarting' on a salt lake in Australia in 2028. Weird sculptures adorn the landscape - statues carved from the salt. People have been leaving them in the salt lakes for years - but these look different. Grotesque, distorted figures twisted in pain. They don't last long in the rain and the wind, but they're just made of salt... Aren't they?
Doctor Who: A Handful of Stardust by Jake Arnott (Credit: BBC Books)Doctor Who: A Handful of Stardust
By Jake Arnott
Published 3rd April 2014

Story featuring the Sixth Doctor.

Author Jake Arnott commented about writing the book: Writing for the Time Trips series really was a trip – the chance to jump around in time, space and genre, to play around with a classic of popular culture and try to find a place in its vast universe – but most of all it was an opportunity to travel back all those light years ago when I was a kid, full of wonder, watching Doctor Who for the first time.
Cecelia Ahern said:
I’m so excited to have written a story for the Time Trips series and I enjoyed writing every word. Doctor Who is an institution and to be involved in the 50th anniversary is beyond a dream – it is an honour
Joanne Harris added:
I remember watching Doctor Who from a very early age, from a cushion fort behind the sofa. As I grew older I began to really understand and appreciate the show. When the series was revived I was thrilled to watch its transition into the 21st Century, just as I’m thrilled now to be contributing to this series of stories. Fifty is no great age (I tell myself this as my own fiftieth approaches!) and you’re never too old for stories. Happy Birthday Doctor Who. May your candles never go out

An Unearthly Series - The Origins of a TV LegendBookmark and Share

Friday, 18 October 2013 - Reported by Anthony Weight
Second Time Around
The twenty-fifth instalment of our series marking the major events in the creation of Doctor Who, fifty years to the day since they occurred.

By the middle of October, Doctor Who's path to the screen was starting to seem a little more assured and stable. The Controller of Programmes for BBC1, Donald Baverstock, had agreed to the making of at least 13 episodes, and despite the pilot episode having been rejected by Head of Drama Sydney Newman, the production team were ready for their second attempt at creating a version of the programme's opening instalment. However, on the very day the second version of An Unearthly Child was to go before the cameras, budgetary concerns led Baverstock to have a change of heart about the show's future. On Friday 18 October 1963 - exactly fifty years ago today - the Welshman dropped a bombshell. Doctor Who, still over a month away from its on-screen debut, was ordered to be brought to a halt. Production was to cease as soon as the opening four-part serial was completed...

That Friday evening, the second ever episode of Doctor Who to be made - the new attempt at the first episode - was due to be recorded in Studio D at Lime Grove, the same studio as the first attempt and, much to the chagrin of many of those working on the programme, allotted as Doctor Who's main studio for the foreseeable future. The production had the same cast, same director and mostly the same sets, although (as noted in the previous episode) the junkyard and school classroom sets had needed to be recreated by designer Barry Newbery from Peter Brachacki's plans, as they had accidentally been junked after the pilot recording.

Fortunately for all concerned, the set of the TARDIS interior had not suffered this fate - had it done so, then it is highly possible that Doctor Who would have stopped for good at this point, and never made it to the screen. The high cost of the set was already controversial, and it was this element in particular that had led Baverstock to reconsider the expense involved in producing the series.

The 18th was Baverstock's last day at work before he embarked on three-weeks' leave. Despite having given the go-ahead to a 13-episode run of Doctor Who just four days previously, by Friday he had looked further into the costs involved and had sent a memo to Donald Wilson, the Head of Serials in the drama department. Wilson was one of those most closely involved in the creation of Doctor Who, and effectively the show's "executive producer" as we might now term it.

The memo was a shock - Baverstock had decided that BBC1 simply couldn't afford Doctor Who:

I am told that a first examination of your expenditure on the pilot and of your likely design and special effects requirements for the later episodes, particularly two, three and four, shows that you are likely to overspend your budget allocation by as much as £1600 and your allocation of man-hours by as much as 1200 per episode. These figures are arrived at by averaging the expenditure of £4000 on the spaceship over thirteen episodes. It also only allows for only £3000 to be spent on expensive space creatures and other special effects. It does not take account of all the extra costs involved in the operation of special effects in the studio.

Last week I agreed an additional £200 to your budget of £2300 for the first four episodes. This figure is now revealed to be totally unrealistic. The costs of these four will be more than £4000 each - and it will be even higher if the cost of the spaceship has to be averaged over four rather than thirteen episodes.

Such a costly serial is not one that I can afford for this space in the financial year. You should therefore not proceed any further with the production of more than four episodes.

Baverstock didn't entirely write-off the possibility of continuing to make Doctor Who, going on to state that he had asked the Assistant Controller of Planning, Joanna Spicer, and John Mair, the Planning Manager, to meet with all parties concerned and look into what costs might be involved in making further episodes. However, he did also tell Wilson that:

In the meanwhile, that is for the next three weeks while I am away, you should marshal ideas and prepare suggestions for a new children's drama serial at a reliably economic price. There is a possibility that it will be wanted for transmission from soon after Week 1 of 1964.

What effect this had on Doctor Who's production team on the very day they were preparing to remount their opening episode is unknown. However, Sydney Newman instantly leapt to the defence of the show he had done so much bring to life. Having been given a copy of Baverstock's memo, he immediately wrote a reply pointing out that it had never been intended for the cost of the TARDIS interior set to be spread across 13 episodes - Doctor Who had originally been conceived and planned as having a 52-week run, and the costs of the set were to be covered across 52 weeks rather than 13.

The fight for Doctor Who's future, if it had one at all, and the battle over the costs of the TARDIS set would have to continue the following week. In the mean-time, there was still a series to plan and produce, whether it would make it to the screen or not. In addition to director Waris Hussein and the regular cast going back into Lime Grove to record the first episode that evening, other work was being done on the production of future episodes. Also on Friday the 18th, director Christopher Barry was busy preparing for work on what was due to be the second Doctor Who serial, the futuristic script by Terry Nation. That day, Barry sent script editor David Whitaker a detailed note of comments on the first two episodes of the serial, and also received a reply to an enquiry he had previous made to the Post Office's Joint Speech Research Unit, about how he might realise the voices of the "Dalek" creatures featured in Nation's scripts.

The unit sent Barry a tape with examples of two different types of voice, one produced using a vocoder and the other generated entirely by computer. JN Shearne, the Post Office official who supplied the material to Barry, indicated that they would only be able to produce up to 30 seconds of computer-generated material for him, due to the amount of time and effort required to programme it. The vocoder material was of greater interest to Barry, who heard something of what he wanted for the Daleks in it, but he decided that it would need to be produced in-house at the BBC rather than sourced from the Post Office, as it could then be produced live in the studio during recordings, rather than pre-recorded on tape by the Post Office. So, Barry turned his attentions to what the BBC Radiophonic Workshop might be able to do for him.

Meanwhile, the design of the actual appearance of the Dalek creatures themselves was coming towards its realisation. Originally, BBC staff designer Ridley Scott had been assigned to handle the design work for Nation's serial, but a clash of schedules meant that he was replaced by fellow department member Raymond Cusick. Cusick had taken inspiration both from the description in Nation's script of the creatures "moving on a round base," and from his own determination that the Daleks should not appear in any way human. After discussions with BBC special effects experts Bernard Wilkie and Jack Kine in early October, Cusick was working towards the final plans for his design, which was to have a massive impact on the future of Doctor Who.

On October 18 1963, however, nobody knew that the element which would finally dispel any prospect of an early cancellation for Doctor Who was so close at hand. There was simply a television programme to produce, and the transmitted version of the very first episode was finally put onto tape that evening at Lime Grove Studios. A much smoother and more polished effort than the pilot version, with a more likeable characterisation from William Hartnell as the Doctor (as requested by Newman), there were also many other subtle differences. There was no opening thunderclap at the start of the opening titles, Susan reads a book on the French Revolution rather than drawing ink blots, and hers and the Doctor's costumes are also different.

Finally, the very first episode of Doctor Who that would be seen by viewers had been made, and the regular production of the programme was at last under way. From this point onwards, a new episode would be rehearsed and recorded every week. However, following Baverstock's memo, for how long that would be allowed to continue would be another matter.

Next EpisodeA Crisis Out of a Drama
SOURCES: The Handbook: The First Doctor – The William Hartnell Years: 1963-1966, David J Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (Doctor Who Books, 1994); Doctot Who Magazine issue 331 (Panini Comics, 25 June 2003)
Compiled by:
Paul Hayes