Friday, 27 March 2015

Big Finish Licence Extended To 2020

Fans of the Big Finish audio dramas, which have been producing audio dramas since 1999, will be happy to hear that Big Finish Productions has had its licence from BBC Worldwide to make original Doctor Who dramas on audio extended until 31st March 2020.

Executive producer Jason-Haigh Ellery said:
Last year saw Big Finish celebrate 15 years of producing new Doctor Who audio drama. A fantastic milestone for our company. I am delighted to be able to announce that our license has now been extended to 31st March 2020. We are very much looking forward to producing at least another five years of adventures with the Doctor and his companions, as we help them fight Daleks, Cybermen and Voord across the Universe.
Executive producer Nicholas Briggs added:
Working with the Big Finish team on the BBC’s and our beloved Doctor Who is a true privilege. We’re so glad to be continuing the adventure well past the 15 year landmark.
Line producer David Richardson also spoke about future plans for the company's ranges:
We’re already underway, planning Doctor Who stories into 2017 and 2018. There will be more adventures from the Fifth, Six and Seventh Doctors in the monthly range, more stories for the Fourth Doctor and his companions in The Fourth Doctor Adventures, and a new era for the Eighth Doctor, Liv Chenka and their new friend Helen Sinclair in Doctor Who: Doom Coalition. Plus we will continue to explore the contrasting worlds of our different and very popular spin-off series.
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Anniversary Week: Listen Review

Episode: Listen
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Douglas Mackinnon
Starring: Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink/Orson Pink, Remi Gooding as Rupert Pink
"I remember the first thing I said about this year's run is: 'I'm going to do a chamber piece, with no money, in the middle, because I haven't done one in ages and I'd like to prove that I can actually write.'"
- Steven Moffat on Listen, Doctor Who Magazine #477 (Aug 2014)
Steven Moffat is, and always has been, my favourite Doctor Who writer. Not only does he have the whole 'kids behind the sofa' thing down to a tee, but throughout his time on the show I've been captivated by his ability to blend complex, imaginative storytelling and relatable characters with sharp humour and real emotion, resulting in stories that never fail to either thrill, shock or move me.

Series 8’s Listen does all three. Although some parts have proved divisive, Listen has largely gone down well both with fans and critics (coming top in our own Series 8 poll), is Peter Capaldi’s favourite story of his first series, and has even earned Doctor Who its first Bram Stoker nomination for achievement in horror and dark fantasy writing.

For me it’s also a highly welcome return to the lower profile ‘Moffat episodes’ we've lost in recent years in favour of the obligatory series openers, finales and specials that come with being in charge of Doctor Who. Yet this is only one of the many reasons I'm so fond of this episode and consider it one of the best, not only from the past ten years, but the entire history of the show.

“What if the prickle on the back of your neck is the breath of something close behind you?”
With the absence of specific plot details in pre-broadcast interviews and trailers it was difficult to know what to expect coming into this episode (leaks, what leaks?). One thing we were promised was that Listen would be scary, and it delivers - I often lament being a member of the 'no-Who' generation, but this is one story I'm rather glad I didn't watch as a child! Longer, quieter scenes than we’re used to in Doctor Who create plenty of space for vivid horror imagery like hands shooting out from underneath beds to take hold in the darkest corners of our minds. Douglas Mackinnon’s expert direction only serves to enhance the feeling that there’s always something lurking just out of sight, whilst Murray Gold’s gorgeous music ebbs and flows throughout, sensitively underscoring tension and emotion in equal measure.

What binds these elements together, however, is Peter Capaldi’s riveting performance as The Doctor. No longer is he Matt Smith's twinkly, offbeat madman in a box, but instead one of an entirely different sort, as his desperate need to know the truth behind what he believes is a universal dream quickly turns into a dangerous obsession that almost ends up costing him his life. It’s hard to believe at this point we were only four episodes into Capaldi's first series as in Listen it feels like he’s been playing the role for years, and for me this was the story where his slow-burn Doctor finally began to slot into place. It’s no coincidence that this happened at a time when we learned a bit more about what scares the Doctor, which it turns out is not that far from what scares us too.

It's also perhaps just as well that we didn't know what was to come, as Listen excels at subverting any expectations we might have had of either Moffat’s usual style or the story itself. Tapping into our everyday fears, for instance, is a theme which has long been associated with Moffat’s writing – movements out of the corner of your eye, or horrors hidden in the shadows – so the concept of monsters lurking under the bed, whilst chilling, feels like it’s in much the same vein. Equally familiar is the idea of creatures capable of perfect hiding, especially as we’d by this point recently seen the Doctor re-encounter both the Weeping Angels and the Silence (in The Time of the Doctor). Add in a creepy children’s rhyme, meetings out of order and some awkward relationship comedy and Listen was almost on track to becoming the most Moffat-y of all Moffat episodes.

And yet somehow it’s not. Moffat’s use of his tried and tested tropes, far from being repetitive or hackneyed, is in fact inspired. Through them we’re well and truly lulled into the assumption that the Doctor is onto something as always, and that it’s only a matter of time before he finds the creatures he's so fervently looking for. The eventual revelation that the monsters might not always be real - just as Wally isn’t there to be found in every book - is one that is not only unexpected as a result, but for that exact reason makes more of an impact.

"A soldier who's so brave he doesn't need a gun can keep the whole world safe." 
One aspect of Moffat’s Who I've always been drawn to is the way in which he uses time travel within his stories. After all, if I ever were fortunate enough to have access to a TARDIS I know I’d be tempted to use it for so much more than travelling to different time periods (although I'd be lying if I said there wouldn't be some of that going on as well!). It's not all fun and games though, so I love both that Listen explores the potential of time travel to its fullest, and that it never lets up on the ramifications that it could have.

In the case of Danny Pink these are some pretty huge ramifications, and to be frank it’s alarming to see just how cavalier the Doctor is with time travel in this story. Giving young Rupert Pink his dream about being ‘Dan the soldier man’ happens in the blink of an eye yet alters the course of Danny’s whole life, an event which only makes the Doctor's later dismissive treatment of him in future episodes all the more maddening. This could also be, of course, because Danny's just so likeable; with only one previous appearance under his belt by this point, Samuel Anderson does an excellent job at balancing Danny's endearing awkwardness and charm with his obvious inner turmoil whenever his time in the army is touched upon.

What's even more impressive is that Anderson pulls double duty in Listen. The differences between Orson Pink and Danny are clear, though, and his story - a pioneer time traveller from the not-too-distant future who overshoots his target and ends up stranded at the end of the universe - could almost be an episode in itself, Doctor Who's own take on Fredric Brown's Knock:
'The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door...' 
The very fact of Orson's existence is, and perhaps forever will be, shrouded in mystery, but what's so interesting is the effect it has on Clara. As the oblivious Doctor forges on, it's up to her to put the pieces together, and it's intriguing to see the Impossible Girl struggle with the consequences of tampering with someone else's timeline for a change. Like us, Clara also makes the assumption that Orson could well be a descendent of her and Danny, but of course at this point she doesn't have the knowledge we now have of Danny's fate. Does she, then, go on to pursue a relationship with Danny purely because she wants to, or is it also because - like creating her copies by jumping into the Doctor's time stream - she feels she has to, otherwise how else could Orson happen?

“Well, he’s not going to the Academy, is he, that boy? He’ll never make a Time Lord.”
The other potentially life-changing event of this episode, of course, happens in the final ten minutes in a remote barn somewhere on Gallifrey. It's a scene which is fair to say has split fans, with those against it claiming that surely it’s nothing short of arrogance for Moffat to think he can impose on us his idea of what the Doctor's childhood was like. It is called Doctor Who, after all, so doesn't that ruin the mystery that's so intrinsic to the show?

Except what do we really learn? We see the young Doctor was lonely, a bit of an outsider, but it’s hard to believe a boy who grew up to steal a TARDIS and run away from his home planet was ever completely content with life to begin with. We’re never told outright who the man or woman in the barn are, nor the circumstances of the young Doctor’s home life. We only catch mere glimpses of the boy in the bed, all silhouettes and mops of hair and that lovely shot of his eye with stars reflected within it, stars that he would one day seek out for himself. And who’s to say he wouldn’t have done that anyway, even without Clara’s influence?

Nevertheless, there is no denying that Clara does make an impression on the Doctor. As a nanny turned schoolteacher Clara has a natural empathy with children, so it rings so true to her character that she would go to comfort a lonely, crying child. In an extraordinary twist, however, this puts her in a position where she inadvertently becomes the cause of his bad dreams despite the best of intentions. It’s a fascinating dilemma to see Clara tackle, reflected in Jenna Coleman's wonderfully multifaceted portrayal as she runs the gamut of emotions from confusion, to shock, to the compassion that Clara has in spades not just for young children, but for the Doctor himself.

At least some of the words from Clara's moving speech stay with him right up to the point he finds himself in a prehistoric forest with his granddaughter and a different pair of teachers from Coal Hill, informing them that ‘fear makes companions of all of us’. Nor is this the only time in the young Doctor's future that's alluded to – that jaw-dropping moment (sorry) when we realise we've seen this particular barn before leads to the incredibly poignant realisation that, faced with a decision no one should have to make, the War Doctor would and does seek solitude and comfort in the same place he did as a child. These references are so important as, at a time when we're still getting to know the Twelfth Doctor, they are a much needed reminder that he is still the same person he has always been.

“What’s wrong with scared? Scared is a superpower. It’s your superpower.”
Ultimately, Listen is about fear of the unknown. There are those who aren't satisfied by the ambiguity present throughout the story, and frustrated by the lack of a clear-cut resolution. It's precisely this, however, which makes Listen so thought-provoking for me, not to mention admire such bold and confident storytelling which intentionally leaves spaces in the story for the audience to fill in themselves.

For it is absolutely intentional. It’s essential to note that, although we're not given definitive answers, we are always presented with more than one potential explanation for everything that happens. The Doctor could just have written on the blackboard himself and forgotten; the figure under the bedspread could just be another child playing a prank; the knocking on the airlock door of Orson’s ship could just be the hull cooling. Or it could all be down to the same unknown, hidden creature. Or even different creatures each time.

It's the not knowing that's frightening, and Listen shows us how this type of fear can affect people. In Listen fear of the unknown is the impetus which pushes the Doctor to go searching across time and space for the nightmare that’s been with him since childhood, the barrier which Clara and Danny find themselves having to tackle before they can form the beginnings of a relationship, and the reason why Orson, all alone at the end of the universe, still keeps the door locked.

Fear makes companions of us all, and it does this in so many different ways. For some of us it's fleeting, only rearing its ugly head when things go bump in the night. Some of us are scared of specific things, like spiders or clowns or public speaking. Some of us actively seek out the adrenaline that comes with fear through horror movies, rollercoasters or skydiving. Those of us who have more intense, long-term relationships with fear know that fear can be debilitating, can make us feel isolated or feel like a failure for not being able to beat it. And fear, in my experience, is always spoken about as something that should be beaten, or conquered, or overcome.

“The deep and lovely dark. We’d never see the stars without it.”
Which is why Listen means so much to me. When Clara says that it doesn't matter if there are monsters under the bed, it validates even the most irrational of my fears, and when she says that fear makes companions of us all I no longer feel alone with my own. When the Doctor tells Rupert that there's nothing wrong with scared, that scared is a superpower,  I believe him, because it's the Doctor who's saying it and if there's anyone who would know, it's him. And also because if the Doctor's sat perched cross-legged on top of the TARDIS urging you to 'listen!', you listen.

Steven Moffat describes Listen as a chamber piece. Now, Doctor Who is a show that thrives on big, bombastic symphonies. Running down corridors and saving the universe has been its bread and butter for over fifty years, and it's really good at it. The show would never have survived so long, however, without a full and varied repertoire, so to my mind the chamber pieces are just as important.

And this particular chamber piece is a gentle, soulful adagio; slow and measured, it takes its time to weave together beautifully subtle harmonies whilst virtuosic performances from Capaldi, Coleman and Anderson prove that, in the hands of the most accomplished of composers, a small selection of instruments can have the power of a full orchestra.

Just like with any piece of music, not everyone will connect with Listen. Some will find it too discordant for their liking, and that's fine; the beauty of Doctor Who is that not every story has to work for everyone, and it's so easy to just skip to another track. As for me, Listen most definitely hits all the right notes, and whilst I'll carry on enjoying the symphonies as I always have done, I know this is one of those pieces I'll keep coming back to listen to over and over again.
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Thursday, 26 March 2015

EXCLUSIVE New Interview with Doctor Who Legacy developers + Code Giveaway

On Monday we caught up with PixelWho and Tiny Rebel Games, the developers behind the popular Doctor Who Legacy game to celebrate the release of the special new expansion pack with a brand new art style, Bigger on the Inside, which is out right now.

We've also teamed up with Tiny Rebel Games to offer a special code giveaway for the Second Doctor's special pixel costume, exclusive to the new expansion! Find the code at the bottom of this interview!

Can you briefly explain what Bigger on the Inside is all about and why we should all be excited?

Bigger on the Inside is a new story which is starting this week, and will run alongside the main storyline of the game. The new storyline will be released in 5 parts through the year, it is approximately 120 levels long (almost the length of Legacy at launch), and it is built around amazing pixel art from Pixel Who! It’s our first storyline where we have all the incarnations of the Doctor from the very beginning, and we will dive into a LOT of classic Who locations and enemies. Each drop in the new story is a pixel costume for a doctor or an ally in the game, and each drop is guaranteed (is 100%).

Why did you go with this new art style for Bigger on the Inside?
The art style inspired the story. We saw Nathan’s (from Pixel Who) art style, and we fell in love with it instantly, and we decided (by the end of the same evening) that we would love to get his art, in some capacity, into the game. We started writing a new storyline as an experiment to see if we could integrate the new art into our storyline in a natural way which makes sense in the universe--and when we found a way to do that, the story which followed was epic in scope and scale featuring individual storylines for at least half of the Doctors. We sent a high level outline of our concept to the BBC who gave us a thumbs up, and we’ve worked for the last couple of months to get the first part of the storyline (the prologue) ready for fans of the game.

How much of Legacy's story was mapped out when you began?
During initial development of the game we wrote the first two chapters (the Sontaran and Zygon storylines), and we knew we wanted The Master to be the next villain. After launch, fans of the game told us loud and clear that they wanted more classic content, which led to the ongoing story featuring a much more destabilized universe allowing us to dive further back in the history of the show than we intended at launch. At the same time we were getting closer to getting all the incarnations of the Doctor into the game, and it seemed a great goal to get all of the Masters into the game over a 2 chapter Master arc. During the final few months of last year we wrote the high level outline for chapter 4 as well as writing the first arc fully (chapter 4 could end up around 80 levels), and at the same time we agreed with the BBC on the next villain who will replace The Master during the shocking conclusion of chapter 4. With that agreed on we also (at a very high level) sketched out chapters 5 and 6.

Bigger on the Inside focuses on the TARDIS - which interior of the ship has been your favourite?
We love them all, however we do have a general fondness for steampunk and acadamia, so 8th, 12th do grab our imaginations!

Did doing weekly levels for Series 8 change how you approached development?
It was crazy, manic, a pretty insane undertaking. Trying to release new levels weekly is a task, however having that happen alongside a TV season is just chaos. Your timelines can’t move, and the Doctor Who team (rightly) keeps a lot close to their chest until the airing of each episode (plus episodes can change at the last second, as with the decapitation in Robots of Sherwood). The game was built with the hope that one day we would get to start shadowing seasons of the show, releasing new companions the day after viewers meet them for the first time, so development didn’t really change, rather we had to prove that what we believed could be possible would actually be something we could execute on. I guess one major change to how we approached development was that we didn’t stop doing it, even for sleep, during the airing of the new season! And of course, we’re gluttons for punishment and jumped right into the Advent Calendar promo from there, launching a new level each day!

What is your favourite part of being able to play with all the elements of Doctor Who's history?
Without a doubt the love we see from fans when we release their favorite character in the universe.

Which element of Legacy are you the most proud of?
The community.

Are you planning further expansions with differing art styles?
Right now we’re planning on more levels with Titan Comics (including a new 9th Doctor level coming in the next few weeks alongside the new 9th Doctor comic book series [which is awesome, by the way] which will showcase more original art from those guys, however nothing even remotely close to our collaboration with Pixel Who.

Here is the code for the Second Doctor pixel costume - it can be claimed up to 10,000 times but they expire on Sunday - so claim quickly!


To download Doctor Who Legacy, visit their website here.

Thanks to Tiny Rebel Games and PixelWho.
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Peter Capaldi's On Doctor Who's Return

With this year being the 10th Anniversary of Doctor Who's triumphant return, many people will be looking back at the moment and reminiscing about the excitement of the show's comeback. One of the show's biggest fans and the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, has shared his thoughts on how he felt at the time:

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Anniversary Week: Remembrance of the Daleks Review

Episode: Remembrance of the Daleks
Written by: Ben Aaronovitch
Directed by: Andrew Morgan
Starring: Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor, Sophie Aldred as Ace, Terry Molloy as Davros, Simon Williams as Group Captain Gilmore.

Remembrance of the Daleks was the first pre-2005 episode that I watched. It opened up a whole new world of Doctor Who for me, so I’ve always had a certain fondness for it.

The episode comes at the start of Season 25, and with the show celebrating its 25th Anniversary, producer John Nathan-turner wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. Therefore Remembrance became a sort of unofficial anniversary episode, with plenty of references and throwbacks to years gone by and the appearance of the show’s most successful villains, the Daleks.

Remembrance is remembered for one particular scene. One moment from that sticks into the mind of viewers, if for the wrong reason. At the end of the first episode, The Doctor stumbles up a flight of stairs trying to escape a Dalek, only to be horrified by the sight of it elevating and floating up the stairs towards him. This scene will have surprised a lot of people, introducing to them the idea that Daleks can now fly. Although this wildly spread myth is partly true - this is the first time we visibly see a Dalek fly - the notion that they can fly was introduced as early as Season two’s The Chase. Still, back then this must have felt like a momentous event. Even after 25 years, the Daleks were still surprising people.

The plot is fairly thin for Doctor Who, with two Dalek factions fighting over a Time Lord device and the Doctor having to make sure the right group gets control of it. That’s pretty much it, but even spanned over four episodes, the story never feels flat. Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred - as The Doctor and Ace respectively - give great performances, and their characters' relationship feels very real in this story, which, given that they had only met in the previous story, is a testament to the two brilliant actors. The two characters also get some great scenes in this episode. Ace beating up Daleks with a baseball bat is quite the fan pleaser.

The Doctor’s pondering in the cafe is a beautiful little scene, and one of my favourites. It contains one of my favourite bits in Doctor Who where the Doctor, when asked if he wants sugar in his tea, questions "Beyond the confines of my tastebuds, would it make any difference?" and then goes on to question whether his decision to take sugar in his tea would affect the rest of life, including the people who make the sugar. It's only a brief moment of questioning, but it really highlights the Doctor's inquisitive nature and shows how he thinks about every little detail in life. The scene ends on a joke with the Doctor paying with currency from 30 years in the future. This is a great little addition that reminds us of the time travel element of the show and brings us back on a high after the contemplative moments just before.

Meanwhile, Ace beating up Daleks with a baseball bat is quite the fan pleaser. The Doctor and Ace’s relationship feels very real in this story, which, given that they had only met in the previous story, is a testament to the two brilliant actors.

The story introduces a range of new characters, including Group Captain Gilmore and his gang acting as not-quite-UNIT, who later went on to star in their own line of Big Finish audios. We also get a chilling performance from Terry Molloy’s insane Davros.

But the best guest star in this episode is of course the Special Weapons Dalek. Trundling into the war zone with it’s big cannon and warn look, this Dalek won the hearts of viewers, with the fan’s focus of 2012’s Asylum of the Daleks being the Special Weapons Dalek’s 1 second cameo. The Daleks, although often redesigned, are not usually given such an extreme makeover, so this Dalek is somewhat of a novelty for viewers.

The references in the episode are a nice touch, with the main part of the story being set in Coal Hill School and the junkyard on Totter’s Lane which both featured in the very first episode, An Unearthly Child, way back in 1963, which serves nods to the First Doctor - the "old geezer with white hair" - who also gets a mention. There are also a few other little gems in this episode. Ace reading a book on the French Revolution (a nod to Susan who did the same in An Unearthly Child),  the x-ray extermination effect (which is used for the first time in this episode) and the little in joke with the BBC continuity announcer who announces "an adventure in the new science fiction series Doc..." which is probably the riskiest bit of dialogue in the show's history (after the Ninth Doctor's half-human remark obviously).

As with Genesis of the Daleks (reviewed by Jenna), The Doctor makes a choice in this story that has a big effect on the Daleks, although this time he is less hesitant when it comes to blowing up the Dalek’s home planet, Skaro. Remembrance also revisits the idea of the Nazi and political parallels with the Daleks, with two factions fighting each other, Ratcliffe’s fascist association and hints at racism - including a ‘no coloureds’ sign in the guesthouse.

Overall, this episode serves as one of the highlights of Season 25. It’s hard to believe such a great episode was followed by The Happiness Patrol, but during a rough time in the show’s history, Remembrance of the Daleks stands out to me - and I’m sure many of you - as one of the best episodes in the show’s long and rich history.
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Doctor Who Cast And Crew 10th Anniversary Messages

Continuing the 10th Anniversary celebrations, has collected over 50 messages from Doctor Who actors, writers and producers wishing 'Nu Who' a happy 10th anniversary. Here are some of the messages:

Click here to view the full list of messages.
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Doctor Who Team Share Their Memories For 10th Anniversary

As part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations, interviewed a number of Doctor Who writers, directors and showrunners to find out their favourite memories from the past 10 years of working on Doctor Who.

Russell T Davies - Executive Producer and Lead Writer 2005-2010
It’s hard to think of one personal highlight after ten years – that’s like saying to me, “What’s your favourite bit of life?” And I genuinely think of a different favourite thing every day. 
But, okay, right now, because this popped into my head this morning for some random reason... And it’s a bit swaggering, but it’s a birthday, what the hell? Right now, I’m hooting that the cliffhanger of The Stolen Earth [where David Tennant seemed to be regenerating] actually got onto the news. The BBC1 News. A Doctor Who cliffhanger made the news! Hah! Hilarious! Yes, that’s one to treasure.
Steven Moffat - Writer since 2005 and executive producer since 2010
Oh, so many highlights, when I look back over all that time – sometimes I wish I could remember any of them. The truth is, as anyone who’s ever had this job will confirm, there are just too many emergencies going on to actually notice anything. It’s hard to enjoy the view, when you’re falling out of a plane. 
But here’s a thing. At the end of last year my wife got a new computer (this will get relevant) and I was charged with uploading all the family photographs to it. At the time I was feeling more than usually grumpy, genuinely miserable, and, as the year ended, a bit of a failure. And then something amazing happened. The photos uploaded and all of 2014 flickerbooked past on the computer screen. And even though I’m Scottish, I realised something – I’d just had an AMAZING year. 
There was Peter arriving on the Who set for the first time. Now he was finalising his costume. Now he was fighting Daleks, then a mummy on train, then Cybermen. Before I knew it, there was a world tour, and I was in New York and Mexico and Rio. Then there was the first night at the Leicester Square Odeon, and straight after I was on plane to LA where Sherlock (yeah, I mentioned the other one, shoot me) did rather well at the Emmys. Best year ever, I thought – still grumpily, because one’s essential nature is not so easily overthrown. 
So to be honest, I don’t know what my highlight of the last ten years really ought to be because it feels like it’s all still happening. Ask me in another ten years, when I’m grumping that I should have paid more attention at the time. But for now, last year was pretty damned great!
Mark Gatiss - Writer since 2005 and one time guest star
I can’t believe the Doctor has already been back ten years. I suppose my personal highlight would still have to be getting the phone call from Russell asking me to write what became The Unquiet Dead. All my Christmasses came at once, with Charles Dickens, ghosts and Cardiff thrown in! 
I'm beyond thrilled that our wonderful old Doctor Who has found an entirely new audience and is more popular than ever. God bless us. Every one! X
Toby Whithouse - Writer since 2006
I’ve been lucky enough to write six episodes of Doctor Who, for three different Doctors. This show has given me so many happy experiences and memories. Ranging from going with Matt and Karen to the San Diego Comic-Con one year and hearing the roar of the crowd as we stumbled on stage, to the simple act of sitting down and writing INT. TARDIS at the top of a scene. I don’t believe there is a show, anywhere in the world, that commands the affection and devotion that Doctor Who does and I’m very privileged to have been a part of that for many years. 
But OK, one memory still makes me laugh. We were in Venice filming the Doctor Who Confidential episode for The Vampires of Venice. Our guide and host was Francesco da Mosto. I knew him from his fascinating series about Venice (it’s my favourite city In The World – hence setting an episode of Doctor Who there). I don’t know why, but I expected him to be grumpy and surly. I think because in the last episode of his series he was bemoaning the fact that Venice was becoming a pastiche of itself, sinking under the weight of tourists and mask shops and plastic gondolas. Instead he was one of the most charming and welcoming people I’ve ever met. 
One day we were filming on one of the little islands in the lagoon. But the plan was to film us sailing over there. So myself and Matt Smith clambered into Francesco’s little motor boat. There was only one seat, so the producer told Matt to take that and told me to sit on the side. I put my hand up and asked why Matt got the seat, while I – an elderly and distinguished writer – had to balance on the side. The producer shrugged and said, “There’s no nice way to say this, Toby, but you’ve finished your script, whereas Matt is still filming. Frankly, you’re more expendable.” 
So anyway, we sailed across the lagoon, and Francesco turned to me and said, “You wanna drive the boat?” My English reserve kicked in and I said, “Oh no, I couldn't possibly...” And then I thought, “What are you saying, you idiot?” So I quickly backtracked and said, “Yes of course I’d be delighted.” 
I still have the photo – taken by the crew in the little boat following us – of me driving Francesco da Mosto’s boat across the Venetian lagoon, with Doctor Who in the back seat. It’s like one of those random dreams you have, when you find yourself playing badminton with Ringo Starr and the Duchess of Argyle.
Chris Chibnall - Writer since 2007
My personal highlight from the past decade of Doctor Who? OK, it could be seeing that Dalek come out of the shadows in 2005’s Dalek. No wait, the Tenth Doctor’s appearance out of the Tardis doors 45 minutes into The Christmas Invasion. Or possibly the creeping horror of The Impossible Planet — no, the stonking half-regeneration cliffhanger from The Stolen Earth. Or the tear-filled last 15 minutes of The End of Time
Actually, it might be Matt Smith’s triumphant, funny, vigorous claiming of the role in The Eleventh Hour, or maybe Missy’s terrifying destruction of Osgood in Death in Heaven
It’s definitely being able to share a show I loved as a child with my own children. That’s a massive thrill for me, like so many other parents. 
Oh look, why do I have to choose? It’s just all of it. And all of it still to come.
Peter Harness - Writer since 2014
Um… it’s quite difficult to choose a highlight. But maybe it’s “From the Doctor to my son Thomas”: the short YouTube video that Peter Capaldi made for a little boy called Thomas Goodall who’d just lost his grandmother. 
Quite apart from the fact that it illustrates the tremendous kindness of Peter Capaldi (although I know that all of the other Doctors have done similar things), it reminds me that Doctor Who exists not only to be entertaining, but to help children understand the world and its difficulties, and by extension, to remind us all to be a bit kinder, more imaginative and more human.
Douglas Mackinnon - Director since 2008
Favourite memory? The first day that I filmed on the Tardis [for The Sontaran Stratagem, 2008]. 
I must have looked a bit funny, as David Tennant put his arm round me and said, “We've all felt what you’re feeling, that you’re eight years old in a spaceship and yet have to be a grown-up as well. I’d start with a wide shot and take it from there!”
Rachel Talalay - Director on Dark Water/Death in Heaven
My personal highlight? The day filming at St Paul’s Cathedral [in July 2014] – figuring out how best to re-create the classic shots from The Invasion [1968], cursing the building of the Millennium Bridge in the way of the perfect angle, and thinking, “This is my job?!” … Watching Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez goof Mary Poppins’s Feed the Birds on the steps... Standing alone inside the cathedral with just one guard and the actors. (Thank you, Christopher Wren.) … Finally, the Doctor, Missy and the Cybermen exiting the Royal Doors of the cathedral – and watching the crowd react. Epic Doctor Who! 
My daughter had spent the previous day on the set of Avengers 2 and said, “It’s not possible but this beats Avengers 2!”
Gareth Roberts - Writer since 2007
My favourite memory from ten years of Doctor Who – seeing the first rushes from my episode The Lodger and marvelling at Matt Smith’s performance.

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Unique Doctor Who Designs Win Award

The Horror Channel picked up an award on Tuesday night at the 2015 PromaxBDA ceremony held at the InterContinental in Berlin.

The award is in recognition of a lovely array of images produced by Drover (an independent design studio based in London). The images have been used to promote old Doctor Who episodes which have been aired daily on the Horror Channel since April of 2014

The artwork is very distinctive using predominantly red, white and blue to portray both the Doctors and their foes alike.

Old episodes of Doctor Who are still being broadcast by the Horror Channel, which is available on Freeview (Channel 70) Virgin (149) and Sky (319).

[Source: Doctor Who News, Kasterborous]
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lily James Would "Love" A Role In Doctor Who

Many film and television fans have heard of Lily James, especially fresh off the success of her leading role in Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella. Lily also currently portrays Lady Rose MacClare in iTV's Downton Abbey. But she is also Eleventh Doctor actor Matt Smith's girlfriend, and she is a fan of Doctor Who!

In an interview with, Lily discussed the potential for an appearance on the show, saying:
"I'd love to be a space alien. Doctor Who's so cool because it's any time, any character, any world, any dimension. The sky's the limit, or space is the limit!"
[Source: Radio Times]
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Doctor Who Effects Teams Nominated For BAFTA Craft Award

The special effects teams which work on Doctor Who - Milk VFX, Real SFX and BBC Wales VFX - have been nominated for a BAFTA Craft Award for their work on the show.

They are nominated in the 'Television Craft: Special, Visual & Graphic Effects in 2015' category. Other nominees include the teams from Atlantis, David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies 3D and Ripper Street.

Danny Hargreaves shared the news and his excitement on Twitter:

Doctor Who won the BAFTA Craft Award last year for the work on the anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor.

The winners will be announced on Sunday 26 April at the Brewery in East London.

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Series 9 Filming