November 2013 marks 50 years of Doctor Who on TV, and RT will bring you all the news as it unfolds – starting with some of the treats coming up. The most hugely anticipated event is surely the Anniversary special on BBC1. All details are firmly under wraps – and it doesn’t even start filming until spring, but fans worldwide are praying for a multi-Doctor escapade, perhaps with a few former best friends and best enemies thrown in. Could it actually happen? And would all the surviving actors be available – and willing – to appear in such a celebration?
Tom Baker famously declined to participate in The Five Doctors in 1983, and the first three actors to play the Doctor are now long dead. But if William Hartnell can be recast (in The Five Doctors and now in An Adventure in Space and Time), is it conceivable that other actors might convince in Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee’s shadows? This might all be pure fantasy, but what is known is that showrunner Steven Moffat has been toiling with the script. He tells Radio Times: “I’m mostly excited, a little bit nervous, and aware of trying not to let people down.”
Ever wanted to lick the back of the Doctor’s head? Calm yourselves, David Tennant fans! You’ll have your chance on 26 March with the release of 16 special postage stamps. And if you’ve collected all eight of our Doctor Who postcards based on RT front covers, you’ll surely be needing stamps – that’s assuming you’re not preserving the set for posterity.
All 11 Doctors are featured. Royal Mail’s head of stamp strategy, Philip Parker, tells us: “Every fan will have the Doctor of their generation.” And the design? “We wanted to create the feel of the opening title sequence for each Doctor since 1963.” However, five of those sequences didn’t feature the actors’ faces; only now have they been blended in for these smashing composites. True fans will be able to spot which is which.
“We also have ‘monster’ stamps printed in a miniature sheet with the Tardis,” he says. So you can post a Dalek, a Cyberman, and “to bring the story up to date, we added an Ood and a Weeping Angel”. The baddies are all second-class stamps, while the Tardis and Doctors are, of course, all first class.
Does Parker think they’ll eventually issue a 12th Doctor stamp? “Do you know something we don’t?” he replies.
In March, BBC Books are publishing 11 novels – reprints of popular titles from across the decades. The full set, with eye-catching retro covers, could become highly collectible. And an alert for Artemis Fowl fans: Eoin Colfer has written A Big Hand for the Doctor (downloadable now), the first of 11 ebooks for Puffin. His favourite part of writing it was “indulging myself watching Doctor Who DVDs. I can legitimately lie on the sofa and watch 25 episodes, and if anyone challenges me, I say, ‘I’m researching. Leave me alone!’”
Listen to who
AudioGO and Big Finish are teaming up to release a monthly series of 11 talking books (on CD and download) under the banner, Destiny of the Doctor. “Each story features one of the Doctor’s incarnations,” explains producer/director John Ainsworth, “and is read by an actor who’s played one of his companions.”
Already out are Hunters of Earth, read by Carole Ann Ford (aka the first Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan), and Frazer Hines (Troughton companion Jamie) reading Shadow of Death. The series culminates in November with The Time Machine, featuring the 11th Doctor.
Most excitingly, Big Finish is also working on The Light at the End, an audio drama featuring the five living 20th-century Doctors: Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann – and, yes, the elusive Tom Baker.
Big screen adventures
“The stories we’re showing are thrilling, surprising, funny and just plain classic TV!” says Who’s executive producer Caroline Skinner. She’s talking about vintage episodes on the big screen. Each month, the British Film Institute in London is screening a complete adventure, coupled with Q&As with special guests. BFI programmer Justin Johnson says, “We’re all completely blown away by the amazing response we’ve had from so many people in the Doctor Who world – fans, and people who’ve worked on the show alike.”
Recently a packed house enjoyed the Troughton classic, The Tomb of the Cybermen, attended by Anneke Wills and Deborah Watling (60s companions Polly and Victoria). In March, the BFI premieres a newly restored Pertwee serial, The Mind of Evil. It existed only as black-and-white film prints, until technical geniuses returned it to full colour. Vivacious Katy Manning (companion Jo Grant) is among the guests.
That’s just the start…
For later this year, there are rumours of a convention, documentaries on BBC3, a Culture Show special on BBC2, an edition of Sue MacGregor’s The Reunion on Radio 4… the Time Lord’s golden anniversary is going to take over the BBC. And there’ll be no let-up for Steven Moffat and his team. To dispel any rumours of doubt, our sources confirm that after filming the anniversary, they’ll be girding themselves for a Christmas special, then series eight and beyond…
Told of the avalanche of programmes and products, Doctor Who’s first director Waris Hussein was incredulous. “Sixteen postage stamps..? I can’t believe it. To think that in 1963 [producer] Verity Lambert and I sat in an empty office at Television Centre and said, ‘Whatever are we going to do with this!’ And now 50 years later… I only wish she were here to enjoy it.” Lambert died in 2007, but was around to see the Russell T Davies reboot.