Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Doctor Who: Children In Need 2011

The title of this year's Doctor Who Christmas story was revealed during last Friday's Children in Need telethon. In a sketch specially written by Steven Moffat, the Doctor performed a striptease, and Matt Smith's costume was then auctioned for the charity, raising £50K! This was followed by a trailer for The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Doctor Who Vs. Titanic

Next April sees the re-release of 1997's Titanic movie - now in 3D - and a new Titanic mini-series for ITV1, written by Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes. 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the loss of the famed liner, and the star-studded TV drama is planned to air over four consecutive nights. Headed by Geraldine Somerville (Cracker), Celia Imrie, and Linus Roache, the cast includes these Doctor Who cast connections:
  • James Wilby (Bruce Ismay) has been cast as Tenebris for next year's The Acheron Pulse (Big Finish)
  • Toby Jones (Batley) played the Dream Lord in Amy's Choice 
  • Lee Ross (Barnes) was the Boatswain in The Curse of the Black Spot
  • Sophie Winkleman (Dorothy) voiced Kelly Westwood for The Eight Truths and Worldwide Web (BF, both 2009)
  • for Christine Kavanagh (Mrs Thayer) see A Very British Coup here
  • Sylvestra Le Touzel (Lady Duff Gordon) made her TV debut, aged 10, in The Mind Robber, as a Child
  • Simon Paisley Day (Lord Duff Gordon) was a Steward in The End of the World
  • Miles Richardson (Astor) provided the voice of Black Rod for The Gunpowder Plot, and see Murder Rooms (here) for his previous roles
  • Ruth Bradley (Mary) voices the Eight Doctor's new companion, Molly O'Sullivan for next year's Dark Eyes quartet
  • Pandora Colin (Countess of Rothes) voiced Fash for Prisoner of the Sun (BF, 2010)
  • Timothy West (Lord Pirie) voiced Kai Tobias for Phobos (2007), Ronald Turvey for Cuddlesome (2008), and Dr Magnus Soames for House of Blue Fire (2011) - all from Big Finish
Another forthcoming, big-budget TV production is also due to air next April. The BBC's 12-part Titanic: Blood and Steel chronicles the construction of the luxury liner in Belfast, over 15 years, at the cost of 105 lives. This drama star these Doctor Who guest actors:
  • Michael Cochrane (Captain Smith) played Charles Cranleigh in Black Orchid, Redvers Fenn-Cooper in Ghost Light, and voiced three Big Finish roles - Lt. Col. Brook for No Man's Land (2006), Murgat for Brotherhood of the Daleks (2008), and Colonel Spindleton for Trail of the White Worm (2012) - he is the older brother of Martin Cochrane (Chellak in The Caves of Androzani)
  • for Derek Jacobi (Lord Pirie) see my second Randall & Hopkirk blog
  • Gray O'Brien (Bruce Ismay) was Rickston Slade onboard Titanic in Voyage of the Damned
James Cameron's record-breaking, Oscar-laden cinema epic also featured the following Doctor Who guest actors: 
  • David Warner (Lovejoy) voiced five roles for Big Finish - the 'Unbound' Doctor for Sympathy for the Devil (2003), and Masters of War (2008), Isaac Newton for Circular Time: Summer (2007), Co-ordinator Angell for Empathy Games (2007), Siris for The Children of Seth (2011), and Professor Boston Schooner for Deimos (2010), and Lord Azlok for Dreamland (BBC Red Button/BBC2)
  • Ron Donachie (Master-at-Arms) was a Steward in Tooth and Claw
  • real-life husband and wife, Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres (here as married couple, the Duff Gordons) were both in Jubilee (BF, 2003) as Nigel and Miriam Rochester, and the 3 'classic' TV roles of Jarvis can be found here
  • Paul Brightwell (Quartermaster Hitchens) was the Surgeon in World Enough and Time
  • Terry Forrestal (Bell) was a Tractor driver in K9 and Company

    Wednesday, 16 November 2011

    Doctor Who Vs. Agatha Christie: Part 2

    BBC2 first transmitted Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures in September 2004. This 90-minute biopic - told in flashback from Agatha's point of view - examined her famous disappearance of 1926. Here, her psychiatrist concluded that the novelist (portrayed by Olivia Williams) had been in a fugue state at the time, and her amnesia was genuine (see Part 1).
    The programme was repeated on BBC4 in 2008, and featured these five Doctor Who cast connections:
    • For Anna Massey (Older Agatha) see Vs. Strange, here
    • Raymond Coulthard (Archie Christie) voiced Loki/Edgar/Hawks for Cobwebs (Big Finish, 2010)
    • Anthony O'Donnell (Kenward/Poirot) played Commander Kaagh in The SJA: Enemy of the Bane and The Last Sontaran
    • for both Mark Gatiss (Kenyon) and Bertie Carvel (Max Mallowan) see Sherlock here
    Series 4 story, The Unicorn and the Wasp (TX: 17/5/2008) depicts the events (albeit fictional) leading up to Agatha's disappearance. By the end of the episode, the action has moved from the atypical Christie 'whodunit' setting - the English country house - to Silent Pool, where the novelist's car was actually found abandoned. Here, Agatha (now played by Fenella Woolgar) is briefly possessed by the alien firestone, and falls unconscious. The Doctor now realises that this incident caused her memory loss, and takes the writer to Harrogate ten days later (ie. the day before she was discovered). In the TARDIS, the Doctor shows Donna a copy of Death in the Clouds (1935), a book in which a wasp sting is an apparent cause of death - so Agatha's amnesia was not complete. Even by the year 5 billion, Christie is still the best selling author of all time.

      Tuesday, 15 November 2011

      New Doctor Who Movie?

      Director David Yates (left) on the set of The Half Blood Prince

      Rumours of a new Doctor Who film surfaced (again) on twitter last night! The reputable Hollywood media trade magazine, Variety reported yesterday that the English film director, David Yates is working on a movie version of the "iconic sci-fi TV series"- see Daily Variey here. St. Helens-born Yates helmed the last four installments in the Harry Potter film franchise, and has now teamed up with Jane Tranter at BBC Worldwide in Los Angeles to develop Doctor Who for the big-screen.
      The only news so far confirmed by Yates is that Worldwide is "looking for [script] writers [from both sides of the Atlantic] now" and will take 2/3 years "to get it right" and that "it needs quite a radical transformation"! He added that "the notion of a time-travelling Time Lord is such a strong one, because you can express story and drama in any dimension.." and stressed that his film "would not follow on from the current TV series, but would take a completely fresh approach" - much like messrs Davies and Moffat in their successful revival.
      Well this "high-powered" attempt by Yates and Tranter will contain "a British sensibility" but it sounds like a reboot too far, and how can anyone "put aside" 50 years of continuity and lore?
      There has been no word yet on casting, but don't be surprised when Harry Potter actors are suggested from now on. Already there's talk of Alan Rickman as the new Doctor, and the role will inevitably go to a huge trans-atlantic draw, but I have always favoured John Hannah.
      (Here's a nice Radio Times movie timeline)

      Sunday, 6 November 2011

      Date With History: 1986

      Sir Alex Ferguson CBE was appointed manager of Manchester United FC exactly twenty-five years ago today. He is the longest serving manager in the club's history (overtaking Sir Matt Busby's record last December), and his tenure is the longest of all current League managers. Ferguson's reign has seen an era of success and dominance both in England and Europe, giving the Glaswegian a reputation as one of the most respected managers in football history.
      Under Ferguson, MUFC have won 37 trophies, including 12 Premier League titles - with a record 19th league success last season - and the Champions League twice. Knighted in 1999 for his services to the sport, Ferguson is 70 next month, and shows no sign of retiring yet.

      Tuesday, 1 November 2011

      Doctor Who Tops Hallowe'en Poll

      Digital Spy yesterday published the results of their Hallowe'en poll. The Tube Talk blog named Doctor Who as the 'Scariest TV show of all time' and cited the 2007 story Blink as perhaps the programme's creepiest adventure. Although the revived series receives special praise here (gas-mask zombies, Midnight, et al), the impact of the 'classic' era must not be forgotten. Since the Daleks first appeared, way back in 1963, Doctor Who has always sent viewers 'behind-the-sofa'. Other show in the top 10 include The X Files, Threads, and the more recent The Walking Dead. Read the full results here.