Doctor Who At 50 – 10th Doctor Screening & Panel Event – 29 September 2013

Photo by vickster51

Photo by vickster51

As any Doctor Who fan will know, the BFI has over the course of 2013 held monthly screenings celebrating each Doctor. Due to actor availability, September’s event centred around the 10th Doctor’s era on the show, with a screening of the climactic end to series 4 The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End, which sees the Doctor reunited with all his companions to save the universe as well as the Earth and say farewell to the wonderful Donna Noble, played superbly by Catherine Tate. It had been quite a while since I have watched this two-parter and I had forgotten just how impressive they are, in terms of ambition and scope. The visuals of the Dalek invasion are fantastic and the whole episode looked wonderful on the cinema screen, accompanied by Murray Gold’s stirring score. Yes, some of the plot is a bit silly and I still feel unsatisfied at Rose’s end on the beach, but these episodes have an emotional centre that I personally think has been somewhat lacking in more recent series and it was wonderful to share Sunday’s viewing experience with a group of fans, laughing and enjoying the event together.

During a brief break between the two episodes, casting director Andy Pryor was asked about working on Doctor Who. He mentioned how many actors and agents contact him to say they would love to be involved with the show and that it’s unique in that you often can’t give too much information to someone as to who / what they’ll be playing. He also spoke of the importance of the leading actor on set and that everyone had always wanted to work with David and how welcoming the set was.

Once Journey’s End was over and the monthly competition DVDs were awarded through a quick quiz, the panel arrived on stage. This month’s panel was the 10th Doctor himself David Tennant, Catherine Tate (the star of the Q&A for her hilarious answers!), producer from 2005-2008 Phil Collinson and director Graeme Harper. The Q&A was hosted by the BFI’s Justin Johnson. Also in the audience were Mark Gatiss, Sophie Aldred, Anneke Wills, director Alan Parker and Frank Skinner.

Sadly Russell T Davies was unable to attend as he was presenting Julie Gardner with her award at the Welsh BAFTAs that evening but a message was read out from him which began in true Russell style with “Dear faithful viewer!”

On taking their seats the audience was asked after a few minutes to stop taking photos with flash. David said he intended not to move for the entire panel and so the photos would all be the same. He did do this for a few minutes which was very funny!

On to the questions asked. 

I would add that the BFI are brilliant at adding these panels to their You Tube channel and that anyone wanting to see the panel for themselves should keep an eye on You Tube, as it is well worth it. I have done my best to include as much as I can remember from the panel to give a flavour and insight for those unable to be there.

1. Your hair David?! It had to be dealt with first! David, who was sporting a long ponytail, jokingly said he was playing Limahl in an upcoming Kajagoogoo biopic! (Of course the extensions are in actual fact for his role as Richard II in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new production, which starts previews from 10th October in Stratford-Upon-Avon, before transferring to London in December).

2. The return of so many actors – The panel discussed the logistics for the episodes, needing to schedule all the actors to be able to come back but Phil Collinson remarked how much everyone wanted to be a part of it. Graeme Harper also remarked on how ill RTD was during writing the episode and how he couldn’t write for a while, which made everything slightly late.

3. David’s memories of being offered the role – David was asked to recall being asked to play the part, which he did, referring to going to RTD’s house to watch rough cuts of Rose and Dalek, for which he assumed they wanted to gauge reaction from a fan due to the scrutiny under which they watched him as he watched the footage! He also remarked how he had mentioned during the filming of Casanova (in which both Julie Gardner and RTD were involved) that he would love a part in Doctor Who, but that any part would have been enough for him.

He spoke of it being out of the blue being asked by Russell and Julie whether he would consider the role as they would be looking for a new Doctor if the series was a success and was renewed for a second series. He remembered how crazy it seemed as he had no idea Chris wouldn’t be staying. To the amusement of the audience he also said he wondered what would happen if it wasn’t renewed and he was the Doctor that appeared for 30 seconds at the end of the finale! He pondered whether if that had happened he would have had his own Big Finish audio series by now!

4. Public recognition – Both David and Catherine talked about what the recognition for Doctor Who is like and David agreed that nothing can prepare you for it and that it is very surreal to be unknown one day and known the next. Catherine said, on joining for the Christmas special, she was already known for her own show but that it was very different for Doctor Who, in that people come up to you to be positive about it, whereas people tend to tell her which bits of her comedy shows / characters they don’t like! They both agreed that the fans are protective of the characters in Doctor Who.

5. Catherine’s memories of being offered the role (twice!) – Catherine recalled being asked to do the Christmas special by phone and thinking it would be great fun. The conversation to return took place in person when she went to lunch with Julie Gardner and thought the discussion was to be about another project. She never expected to be asked back! David spoke of how all the crew didn’t think for a moment that she would say yes as she seemed already so busy with her own projects. “Clearly not now though love” (or something like that) was the jokey follow up comment from David!

6. The impact of media on the filming experience – The panel also talked about how filming Doctor Who now in a world of media and internet must be very different to previous eras. Catherine recalled a journalist approaching her at the start of filming for series four to ask her what she thought of the reaction on the internet, to which she’d said she didn’t read it. The individual went on to tell her how there was uproar about how she was going to ruin the show! She said it hit home how people were already talking about a role she had yet to even start filming, let alone be something anyone had seen on air! She said previous companions in other eras didn’t have to deal with that!

7. Best kisser?! A young boy cheekily asked David who was the best kisser on Doctor Who, to which he answered after much amusement…..Phil Collinson! (see link below for my short video of this response)

8. Photo please?! Another young boy, dressed as the 10th Doctor asked if he could have a photo with David. David said of course and the boy came to the front and was lifted on to the stage by David for the photo. He then said that the boy was the only one getting a photo!

9. Peter Capaldi’s accent! Another hilarious question was asked to David, which was how did he feel about Peter Capaldi potentially playing the Doctor with a Scottish accent?! David playfully said in a deadpan voice that he thought it was “just lazy!” (see link below for my short video of this response)

10. What’s this Big Finish you’re talking about?! David and Catherine were also asked if they would consider doing a Big Finish audio book together in the future. Catherine had no idea what Big Finish was and said it sounded like something from musical theatre with jazz hands! She then seriously asked what everyone was talking about and said it also sounded like something you’d see on a card in a phone box card and that that would cost extra! This made the audience and panel crack up into hysterics, even more so when she then said she’d still do it before she even knew what it was! David and Phil explained what it was with the help of the audience, comparing it to a radio play and she said she’d do it. David said he would if Catherine would! Come on Big Finish make this happen for the fans! (see link below for my short video of this response)

11. Reaction to Capaldi announcement! Catherine told a brilliant story about being in America at a BBC building after the announcement of Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor and that there had been a bomb threat in the area, requiring an evacuation of the building. She said how she, in all seriousness, thought the bomb had been left at the BBC by enraged fans unhappy with Capaldi’s casting! She said she even considered suggesting she go out to try and speak to them, as she thought she was quite popular with the fans! David thought this was hilarious and asked if she had intended to do an Eva Peron and go out on to the balcony to speak to the people?! In reality, the suspect package was a few blocks away and the area needed to be secured because the President was in town! 

12. Catherine’s “Sultana” confusion! At the insistence of Phil C, Catherine spoke of how she thought the “sultanas” (David attempted to explain it was Sontarans!) were powered by electricity! David and Phil thought this was hilarious and recalled her spending a whole day filming with them without realising a human being was playing the part. Catherine jokingly said she was probably leaning on them all day and David said in jest that he was sure she tried to plug her phone in to them too! 

13. Returning for the 50th David spoke about returning for the 50th and that of course he had been dimly aware of the anniversary coming up so it wasn’t a total surprise to be asked to return. He said of course there are worries, such as whether it’ll be the same now you have moved on and whether you’ll enjoy it or get on with Matt, but that Matt had been very up for it and they had got on well.

14. Would Catherine have stayed? Catherine confirmed she would have stayed for another series if David had been staying, to which he jokingly said “she didn’t want to work with you Matt” whilst pulling a face at the giant picture of Matt behind them! In response Catherine made a comment about how had she known it was to be Matt she would of course have done it (the comment was far funnier than this, which you’ll see when it’s uploaded by the BFI).

15. Secret Doomsday filming – Catherine told a hilarious story about the filming of the Doomsday ending, which was done under great secrecy. She recalled that she had a room at the Travelodge in Newport which had been booked for her under a different name to maintain secrecy and that on arrival at the hotel she couldn’t remember the name! She told the audience how she had said to the receptionist that she had a room booked but couldn’t remember the name it was booked under. The receptionist’s reply had been “Would it be Catherine Tate?” to which she replied “Definitely Not!” The room was in actual fact booked under Tracie Simpson’s name!

16. Favourite scenes? On being asked about their favourite scenes filmed together David said he’d forgotten how funny the Donna / 10.5 TARDIS scene was to do and also how sad the final scene in the TARDIS was. I can’t remember what other scenes were mentioned.

17. Green screen acting – They were asked about whether it was hard acting to green screen for some of the monsters and David said he didn’t think that that was as hard as some of the more emotional scenes.

18. Favourite episodes – On being asked their favourite episodes CT said hers was her first episode The Runaway Bride. Graeme Harper chose Blink and Phil C chose The Caves of Androzani, which DT agreed with, whilst also mentioning The Deadly Assassin.

19. Favourite Doctors? Catherine said hers was of course David and David said his was his father-in-law Peter Davison!

That’s about all I can remember but it was a fantastic day and I would definitely recommend watching the full panel when it is uploaded by the BFI. A link to their You Tube page is:

https://www.youtube.com/user/BFIEvents?feature=hovercard

My three very brief videos from the Q&A (to the three questions that on being asked I thought may receive a funny response) can be found at my You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/vickster5001/videos

The BFI do many wonderful events throughout the year so do check their website for information at: https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/default.asp

Events for November include the preview of An Adventure In Time & Space by Mark Gatiss!

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