It’s one of the biggest jobs in TV, introducing the Doctor Who Christmas special, the first new Who episode for a year, to the millions of viewers at home.
And this year, the BBC has given over this coveted role to a select group of – very lucky – Doctor Who fans. The group were brought together to film a special continuity announcement ahead of Doctor Who Christmas 2016 special The Return of Doctor Mysterio.
— Tom Matt Dix ? (@Tom_Matt_Dix) December 21, 2016
Earlier this year, the BBC asked for Doctor Who fans to get in touch to take part in filming the continuity message. Doctor Who is just one of the shows to get the fan treatment this year – Call the Midwife, Bake Off, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Strictly and EastEnders will all have their own special messages.
Southend Who fan Sue Heal was one of the lucky ones to be part of the Doctor Who filming. “I saw a message on Twitter from someone at the BBC saying they needed Doctor Who fans for some filming in London,” she explained. “I contacted her and she emailed with some details saying it was for a short promo clip to introduce the Christmas episode.”
Belfast-based Alison McClean (above) also saw the message, and flew to London in October especially to take part: “We set off at 3am and got to London, we had a great day doing a bit of sightseeing and then met the transport that was to take us to the Rivoli Ballroom where filming was to take place.”
“There were about 15 of us there,” Sue adds. Producers had kept exactly what was involved a secret – it was only when they filed in to film the scene that they realised what was going on…
“They said when we went through into the room we needed to stand very close together at first, it was only when we actually walked into the room we saw this was the Tardis!” Sue says.
“We all had to walk through, look around as we had just landed there, and then stand and smile towards the camera.”
The Tardis, Weeping Angels, even a Dalek – a dream day for fans (and, presumably, a much-appreciated day off for the BBC’s regular continuity announcers).
Although, Alison’s day didn’t quite end the way it should have done.
Filming had overrun – and Alison had a flight to catch to get back to Belfast.
“We did a couple of run throughs… and then at 7.15pm I had to leave,” she says. “I would not have missed the experience, however to be so close and then end up not even in the intro is horrible!”
For Sue, the wait for Christmas Day has been doubly exciting: a new Doctor Who episode, and a special appearance.
“Being a Doctor Who fan, to be filmed along with some other fans coming out of the Tardis to introduce the episode was just fantastic, I’m so glad I was part of it,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished clip for the introduction on Christmas Day – as well as being excited to see the actual episode.
“Watching Doctor Who will be the highlight of my Christmas, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the new series next year.”