Doctor Who: 50 Years in Space & Time (Part 8)

Here’s the next part of my look back at the Best of the Bunch from Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary:

  • The reshowing of An Unearthly Child
  • The Ultimate Guide to Doctor Who
  • The Science of Doctor Who Special

5. An Unearthly Child

In fifth place was the reshowing of all four episodes of An Unearthly Child on BBC4 at 10.30pm on Thursday 21st November, right after An Adventure in Space and Time ended on BBC2, was also one of the highlights. These two together on the same evening provided a great night’s viewing, a comprehensive overview of the beginning of Doctor Who.

6. The Ultimate Guide to Doctor Who

In sixth place was the two-hour The Ultimate Guide to Doctor Who, which aired on BBC3 from 8pm-10pm, on the night of Monday 18th November, was a fun, all-encompassing retrospective of all eleven Doctors, the companions, and the most popular monsters. I missed this one first time out, but was fortunate enough to catch it again on re-runs, when Part 1 of this was reshown on BBC3, on Sunday 15th December at 7pm, and Part 2 on BBC3, on Saturday 4th January 2014, at 7pm. I enjoyed it immensely.

7. Science of Doctor Who Special

In seventh place was the Science of Doctor Who Special, which aired on BBC2 on Thursday 14th November, at 9pm, and was hosted by Professor Brian Cox (with a guest appearance by none other than the Doctor himself, Matt Smith), was another excellent programming choice. It was a fun look at the science of time travel, through the lens of Doctor Who, in front of a studio audience made up of celebrities from science and many other areas of life.

To Be Continued…

Doctor Who: 50 Years in Space & Time (Part 7)

Here’s the next part of my look back at the Best of the Bunch from Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary:

  • The November DVD release of The Tenth Planet
  • The November 50th Anniversary edition of Doctor Who Magazine

3. The Tenth Planet

In third place, it’s the November DVD release of The Tenth Planet. I’ve been waiting to see this one for a long, long time, and it didn’t disappoint. I’d never actually been lucky enough to own the VHS video release, and had only seen the few surviving clips on the Lost in Time DVD box set. So, finally being able to watch the whole story after all these years, featuring the very first appearance of the Cybermen, was really exciting.

The missing Episode 4 is expertly recreated here in animated form by the same people who did such sterling work animating the missing episodes on the recent Reign of Terror, The Ice Warriors and The Invasion DVD releases. And the excellent Telesnaps reconstruction of Episode 4 which had featured on the VHS video release is also here, in among the plentiful features on this top-notch and long-awaited double-DVD release.

4. Doctor Who Magazine 50th Anniversary Edition

In fourth place, it’s the November 50th Anniversary edition of Doctor Who Magazine, the biggest and one of the best ever editions of the magazine. There was so much good stuff in this one, simply choc a bloc with 50th Anniversary goodness, that it’s difficult to know where to start. But if I had my arm twisted up my back and was forced to choose, my two favourites would have to be Ghosts in the Machine, a behind the scenes feature on the excellent An Adventure in Space and Time, and An Unearthly Beginning, which features never-before-seen drafts of An Unearthly Child. Great stuff!

To Be Continued…

Doctor Who: 50 Years in Space & Time (Part 6)

November was, overall, an eventful 50th Anniversary for Doctor Who. Lots and lots of great things were happening, on television, on DVD and in the magazines. I can now look back upon the entire 50th Anniversary and list my favourite items. Here, starting with the best, and working my way back, is what I consider to be the Best of the Bunch, in order of preference:

  • An Adventure in Space and Time
  • The Day of the Doctor

1. An Adventure in Space and Time

In first place, and deservedly so, is the sublime An Adventure in Space and Time, which aired on BBC2 from 9-10.30pm on the night of Thursday 21st November. This was simply the best Doctor Who production that I’ve seen in many years. The performances of all of the actors were exemplary, particularly David Bradley in the role of William Hartnell.

Indeed, I must say that the ONLY real criticism that I could express is that An Adventure in Space and Time, at under ninety minutes, was much too short. Because of this, there was the unfortunate need to skip over a number of extremely important figures and details in early Doctor Who history (for example, the vital roles played by Ray Cusick, Terry Nation, David Whitaker and a number of others) because of time and space constraints, if you’ll pardon the obvious and corny pun. This excellent drama would have benefited greatly if it had been at least half an hour longer, or preferably even forty-five minutes.

Many, many thanks to the irrepressible Mark Gatiss for having the dedication and perseverance to stick with this project over so many years, until the time was right and The Powers That Be at the BBC finally gave the go ahead to put it into production.

2. The Day of the Doctor

In second place, and, in my opinion, not very far behind An Adventure in Space and Time, was the 50th Anniversary Special itself, The Day of the Doctor, which aired on BBC1 on the evening of Saturday 23rd November, from 7.50pm-8.05pm.

As I’ve often said, I usually find most modern Doctor Who specials to be a bit hit and miss compared to the series proper. Often they’re a bit of lighter fare to entertain the family after they’ve gorged on the Christmas dinner and chocolate treats (and possibly a few drinkies for the mums and dads, yes siree!). And sometimes they seem to be just a bit of lightweight fluff filler thrown out to keep us hanging on in between seasons, or during the internal breaks within the seasons themselves.

But, that said, The Day of the Doctor was excellent. Not perfect mind you, but definitely excellent, and I consider it to be, despite a few minor niggles, without a doubt my favourite Doctor Who special of the modern era.

To Be Continued…

Doctor Who: 50 Years in Space & Time (Part 4)

In my last post, I discussed the Doctor Who contents of the 50th Anniversary editions of both the Radio Times and the TV Times, and both magazines have pulled out all the stops for the 50th Anniversary. But when it comes to the magazines, nothing beats Doctor Who Magazine.

The November 50th Anniversary edition of Doctor Who Magazine is an extra-special bumper 116-page souvenir special issue, and comes inside a lovely hard-card “envelope”, with lots of nice stuff both on back and front. The magazine itself is full of tasty anniversary articles and interviews, including:

  • A massive preview of the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor
  • Ghosts in the Machine, a behind the scenes feature on the prestigious An Adventure in Space and Time drama
  • An Unearthly Beginning, featuring never-before-seen drafts of An Unearthly Child
  • The Wonder of Who – what is the secret of Doctor Who’s appeal?
  • Who Was Anthony Coburn? Part 1
  • The Fact of Fiction – The Five Doctors a detailed examination of the 20th Anniversary adventure
  • The Watcher’s Guide to Anniversaries
  • The Watcher’s 50th Anniversary Quiz
  • Interviews with Matt Smith and David Tennant, Jenna-Louise Coleman (on how Clara coped with three Doctors) and Mary Peach (Enemy of the World)
  • Reviews of Enemy of the World, The Web of Fear, The Complete Seventh Series, and various new releases on the books and audio drama front
  • A nice comic strip John Smith and the Common Men
  • Plus all the usual regular stuff that DWM gives us each and every month.

There are also some nice extras inside, in addition to the magazine. There’s a very nice twelve-card series of collectable art cards featuring all twelve Doctors (Peter Capaldi is in there as well). And we’ve also got a special mini-magazine, a gorgeous little A5 1960s-themed “mini issue” of Doctor Who Magazine (dated November 1964. Only 2d!), with a really nice “Dalek on Westminster Bridge” cover.

This November 50th Anniversary issue of DWM is a real cracker, one of the best, ever. I’d advise all Doctor Who fans to snap up a copy while they still can.

To Be Continued…

Doctor Who: 50 Years in Space & Time (Part 1)

As this month marks the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, my all-time favourite telefantasy series, I reckon that now is the perfect time to relaunch this blog as a dedicated Doctor Who thingie, rather than the more general telefantasy blog of its previous regeneration.

I now do all of the more general stuff over on my main Tales of Time & Space blog on wordpress.com, so I’ve cleared out all previous posts from this one (they can be reposted in some form on Tales of Time & Space at some point in the future), and I’m starting from scratch here with Doctor Who-only posts.

This coming Saturday (and I get a real thrill out of the fact that the 23rd November actually does fall on a Saturday this year) marks the 50th Anniversary of the very first episode of An Unearthly Child (aka The Tribe of Gum – I still refuse to refer to the overall story by that name), which first aired on BBC1 at 5.15pm on Saturday 23rd November, 1963. I’ll make sure to be sitting in front of the telly at 5.15pm on Saturday with my DVD box-set of The Beginning, plus a little drinkie or two, ready to mark the anniversary of the exact moment when the very first ever episode of Doctor Who exploded upon an unsuspecting world. Actually, it’s more like “sneaked by unnoticed”, due to the widespread furore surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy the day before, but “exploded upon” sounds much more dramatic, doesn’t it?

There has obviously been quite a bit of activity on television to celebrate the lead-up to the anniversary. Aside from the almost compulsory annual Children in Need silliness, we’ve had, most notably: the fun The Science of Doctor Who special on BBC2 (Thursday 14th November, at 9.00pm), hosted by the seemingly ever-present and absolutely brilliant Professor Brian Cox (with a guest appearance by the Doctor himself, Matt Smith); Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited (Watch, Saturday 16th November at 2pm); a three-part Doctor Who: Monsters and Villains Weekend documentary (BBC3, Friday/Saturday 15th/16th November at 8pm, and Sunday 17th November at 7.30pm); and the bumper two-hour The Ultimate Guide to Doctor Who (BBC3, Monday 18th November, 8pm-10pm).

That leaves the two biggies still to come. Every Doctor Who fan on Planet Earth is chomping at the bit, waiting for the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor (BBC1, Saturday 23rd November, 7.50pm). Obviously I’m as eager as anyone else to see The Day of the Doctor, but, as far as I’m concerned, the true highlight of the entire anniversary celebrations is An Adventure in Space and Time, which airs tonight on BBC2, from 9pm-10.30pm.

I’ve been waiting for months for this one, and I consider An Adventure in Space and Time to be potentially the most important Doctor Who production of recent years. It promises to be something truly special and unique, and I haven’t been this excited about any Doctor Who-related programme since the unsurpassed Philip Hinchcliffe era of Tom Baker’s run on the classic series.

And just for good measure, after An Adventure in Space and Time ends, you can hop channels over to BBC4 at 10.30pm, where they’re airing all four episodes of An Unearthly Child. This is gonna be the best Thursday night’s television viewing in years!

To Be Continued…