Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Mad Love

Gareth Negus reviews the new biography of Doctor Who producer, John Nathan-Turner

jnt-final.600

Becoming, and more particularly remaining, a Doctor Who fan in the 1980s was – with hindsight – an odd and sometimes uncomfortable experience.  Of course, some might say being a Doctor Who fan at any time was rather odd, but the 80s were the decade during which the programme fell from public favour and was regarded as an embarrassment by the BBC.

A biography of John Nathan-Turner,  the man who produced the series throughout that decade, would seem to be about as niche as niche publications get.  It’s easy to imagine a book on Russell T Davies or Steven Moffat on the Waterstones shelves, but Nathan-Turner was known for producing Who and pretty much nothing else.  BBC lifers – of the sort which Nathan-Turner had apparently thought he would be – might enjoy the gossipy anecdotes and tales of the inner workings of Television Centre in decades past, but that’s probably not a large enough group to make a bestseller.

Yet Richard Marson’s new book, JN-T: The Life & Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner has had a fair bit of press coverage.  Unfortunately, that’s largely thanks to the chapters detailing the sexual exploits of Nathan-Turner and his partner, Gary Downie, which – though not, by any stretch of the imagination, in the Saville league – occasionally sound dodgy enough that you think people should have been disciplined, if not fired. The pair regularly propositioned Doctor Who fans for sex, including many who were under the then age of consent for homosexuals (though they would be legal under today’s laws).  One incident, described on page 194 of the book, is a clear case of sexual assault experienced by the author himself.

Continue reading Mad Love

Digital Grading: cinema and the blue rinse brigade

By Dene Kernohan

O Brother Where Art Thou
O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The Digital Intermediate process, known as DI, has been around in cinema for over a decade now.  Basically, it is the transfer of filmed material to the digital realm, allowing for total control of the image in post production, especially with regards the colour palette.  Traditionally it is an expensive process (10 years ago, around $200,000 for a feature film) and involved scanning the film in its entirety.  But as film itself has become all but obsolete, this part of the process is unnecessary and digital grading has become more widespread.
Continue reading Digital Grading: cinema and the blue rinse brigade

All That We’re Left With Is ‘The How’.

By Ricky Young.

The first table-read of ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ goes as well as expected.

The Ponds throw themselves off a building, and appear alive in a familiar graveyard. For some reason.

Amy Pond: “Why always here?”

The Doctor: “Does it matter?”

Alright, I’m through with playing nice.

Here at Europe’s Best Website, our journey talking about Doctor Who began at a fortuitous moment – the Russell T. Davies era had wheezed its last and every fanboi’s wish had somehow come true; Steven Flippin’ Moffat had taken over as Executive Producer! In a genre far more inured to disappointment and mediocrity, here was an aligning of planets that just didn’t seem real – the writer of some of NuWho’s best-regarded moments being handed the reins of the BBC’s flagship show, to bend to his considerable will.

We tracked the first two of Moffat’s series; celebrated the highs, tutted at the lows, and ended last year with the hope that, having got a few issues with self-importance out of his system, the newly low-key Doctor could return to being quirky and fun and serious and clever and scary and exciting i.e why we still love it, 49 years after it began.

But, no.

If you happened to see Moffat being presented with a Special Achievement Award at this year’s BAFTA’s (where it was abundantly clear that if he were in fact made out of delicious chocolate, the entire audience was going home hungry), or touched upon his now-infamous ‘The Tweeter’ presence (Sample tweet: “Thanks for saying nice things about me! If you said a bad thing about me, I’m calling the police!”), you could be forgiven for pondering quite how much of his not-inconsiderable talent is in thrall to his not-inconsiderable ego.

Three months after the announcement of Moffat taking over Doctor Who, it was announced that he would also be acting as Co-Executive Producer and sometime writer on the BBC’s new version of Sherlock, in which the classic Victorian detective would be reincarnated for our times as a boring, bug-eyed bell-end. Cleverly, each broadcast of the second series seemed to hit the airwaves with a new and rediffusable form of Holmes’ beloved cocaine, such was the rapture that greeted the three episodes of arch, incoherent filler – indeed, discussing on the internet how Sherlock survived his final plunge became one of this year’s most short-lived sensations, up there with ‘caring about sport’, and that Korean man who thinks he’s a horse.

Perhaps it’s unfair to suggest that Moffat could be spreading himself too thin – I do not, after all, know the man and the demands of his work-life in the slightest – but since the first five episodes of Series 7 represent the weakest gruel since the show came back in 2005, am I mad to ask for fewer damn ‘tease-words’ about next year’s Sherlock, and more of the juice that made Series 5 such a pleasure?

So, let the half-hearted, whey-faced griping begin!

Continue reading All That We’re Left With Is ‘The How’.

The Audience Who Waited

By Ricky Young

It's not as good without Les Dennis.
Rory wonders if he set the video for Family Fortunes.

The last time MostlyFilm talked about Doctor Who, I expressed a hope that the second half of the series would be more fun, less annoying, and feel slightly less like it was heading up its own time-tunnel. Did it succeed? If I were to follow the recent Who template, the answer would have been heralded in the article before last, with tantalising hints spread around the rest of Europe’s Best Website – most of which would turn out to be red herrings – and after I’d spent weeks talking it up as the shiznit, you’d finally read it with a bit of ‘oh, that’s quite clever’ and a bit of ‘yeah, but hang on – is that it?’

So, avoiding all that; it was more fun, it was less annoying, and it looks like the next series will veer away from its own time-tunnel at the last minute. Although if it then crashes headlong into its own time-perineum, it’ll only have itself to blame. Continue reading The Audience Who Waited

‘I’d Hate to End the Universe by Mistake’

by Ricky Young

'Oh, Christ I’ve left the iron on.'

On October 29th, 1969, computers at Stanford and UCLA connected for the very first time, on a system known as Arpanet. The initial message sent across this precursor of the World Wide Web was ‘Well, the ending of The War Games was a typical Malcolm Hulke clusterfuck, wasn’t it?’

Not really. Bare-faced lies like the one above only serve to highlight the difficulty in being critical about Doctor Who on the internet. There’s no shortage of keyboard warriors rushing to their computers as the credits roll, ready to pour vats of scorn upon the latest story, often in tones so hysterical only dogs can hear them. Dedicated blogs and sites exist solely to examine every possible facet of the programme, and take it apart mercilessly.

Telly + fans + internet = madness; nothing new there, but Who fandom is deeper and richer and older than most. It survived the dark days of cancellation, kept the flame alight when no-one else cared, then had to sit and watch and seethe as the Doctor became public property once more.

No wonder current show-runner Steven Moffat gets exasperated, to the extent that he publically berates ‘net geeks’ who traduce his work (even if he does sometimes miss the point of some articles entirely). But before we continue, please note that this author loves Doctor Who unreservedly. Especially when Doctor Who is thrilling, and fun, and whimsical, and scary, and funny, and audacious, and genuine, all of which Season Five was, to the most satisfying degree since the show returned in 2005. Loving something unreservedly, of course, means not acting blind when it starts showing signs of distress.

(There are spoilers after the jump for the recently-broadcast season)

Continue reading ‘I’d Hate to End the Universe by Mistake’

You Were Expecting Someone Else?

by Ricky Young

You know, it

If one were to believe the online comments sections of national newspapers, the return of Doctor Who in 2005 led to more raped childhoods than any other programme except Jim’ll Fix It.

‘They’re doing it all wrong!’ was the cry. Podgy men in their thirties couldn’t wait to focus their ire upon show-runner Russell T. Davies, for perceived crimes against dim memories. That post-Tom Baker Doctor Who too-frequently resorted to rote and desperate storytelling, and more often than not consisted of helmeted men in sparse white corridors talking awkwardly about global politics (‘Thanks to you, Doctor, the resistance has triumphed! Our planet is safe again! Will you stay and lead us?’ ‘No, Commander, but I think they’ll be in good hands with you.’) didn’t stop them becoming very upset that the new production team didn’t give a hoot about what they wanted.

An unashamed populist, Davies took a moribund joke of a franchise and stripped it down to basics, making the story of a battered war-casualty and his platonic love for a toothy shop-girl a nickel-plated hit for the BBC. It was far removed from the Who that was a sniggered byword for fifteen years of single men in purple waistcoats attending conventions in Wolverhampton, content to spend hours waiting for a glimpse of Sophie Aldred’s bum.

Continue reading You Were Expecting Someone Else?