Fans were treated to chills, thrills, scares and some familiar faces this weekend as Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, Peter Davison and Carole Ann Ford each took to the stage for the Doctor Who prom.
The concert – a celebration of the show’s 50 years of music – saw various Murray Gold pieces from the recent series’ of the show as well as tributes to composers from the classic era. Opening with The Mad Man In A Box from series five, villains such as the Judoon, Cybermen and the Silurians descended upon the Royal Albert Hall – to the sound of screams – for the eleventh Doctor’s signature tune I Am The Doctor.
Introducing the music from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (conducted by Ben Foster) were special guests; the first of which were the show’s stars Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman, who appeared in character as the Doctor and Clara after a screened skit written by Steven Moffat. The sequence, in which the Doctor and Clara teleport into the venue by means of a special ticket which ends up swapping them with someone in the orchestra, poked fun of Smith’s recently shaved hair. “Your hair! What’s happened to your hair?!,” asked Clara, on stage. “Oh, never trust a tout,” the Doctor says, “especially when he’s from Space Vegas.” The pair ended up returning several times during the night as themselves. Smith told the audicence at one point:
“One of the great joys of playing this extraordinary, legendary Time Lord is the support and knowledge and love and brilliance of the fans – you really make the show what it is.”
Also introducing songs in character were Neve McIntosh as Silurian Madame Vastra and Dan Starky as war-hungry Sontaran comic relief Strax; both of whom brought the first half of the prom to a close with The Final Chapter of Amelia Pond – a medley of music from The Angels Take Manhattan – and The Rings Of Akhaten, which saw Kerry Ingram reprise her singing role, in costume, as The Queen Of Years.
Cybermen, Judoon, Silurians, Sontarans, the Silence and an Ice Warrior who broke free from an ice block invaded the venue for All The Strange, Strange Creatures in the second half; before fifth Doctor Peter Davison (who played the Time Lord between 1981-84) arrived on stage to introduce a medley of music from the classic era, including the ground-breaking work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The medley was a Doctor Who prom first for the 50th anniversary year.
“What amazing memories you all have,” Davison said, drinking in the screams from thousands of fans. “Even though most of you weren’t even born.” He added: “My era is now called the ‘classic series’, that’s a bit like what the Championship is to the Premier League.”
The sequence kicked off with the roaring, alien sound of the Tardis, originally created by Brian Hodgson by scraping his mother’s front-door key down a piano string. Music followed from stories across the decades such as The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967), The Sea Devils (1972), The Five Doctors (1983) and The Curse of Fenric (1989). Dudley Simpson, who composed for the show between 1964 to 1980, was in the audience to hear an excerpt from his own score for 1979 Tom Baker adventure The City of Death.
The Royal Albert Hall was then invaded once more – this time by Daleks. Voiced by Nicholas Briggs, they heralded First There Were The Daleks right before special guest Carole Anne Ford, who played the first Doctor’s grandaughter Susan in 1963, recalled the time she met the Doctor’s greatest foe.
It was “far from terrifying”, she said, as it was only bottom half of the Dalek being pushed along by the operator inside with their feet. “We were asked not to use them as dodgem cars as the budget didn’t stretch to new ones.”
She added: “One of the great things about being an actor in a show like this was that you got to be a kid again… though we often got the giggles when we got to meet some of the new monsters.”
The concert was brought to an end by the world première of special song, Song For Fifty, that Murray Gold wrote especially for the prom. Sung by soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and tenor Allan Clayton, with backing from the London Philharmonic Choir, it was a rousing anthem that featured lyrics of “planets besieged” and “deadly ancient foes.” It ended “Happy birthday. Doctor. You.”
Gold, who has worked as Doctor Who’s music director since 2005, joined Smith, Coleman, Davidson and Ford at the end for a bow. The prom, which was aired on BBC Radio 3, will be broadcast on television in the near-future.
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