Adherents of Doctor Who pt 2

Last week, we brought you the first part of this discussion into the Doctor Who 2005 series, featuring contributions from artists Carolyn Edwards, Andrew Skilleter, writer and performer Barnaby-Eaton Jones, writer Jean-Marc Lofficier, Kasterborous designer Anthony Dry and Kasterborous contributor Brian A. Terranova… this week, we’re also joined by artist and illustrator Pete Wallbank and the man behind, Matthew Walter…

So the wonderful Ms Piper… she’s a big hit in our house, but how good was she exactly? Brian, as an American, had never known Billie Piper before as a pop singer, and had no ill feelings towards her becoming an actor.

“Never having known Billie Piper before as a pop singer I had no ill feelings towards her becoming an actor, but to anyone who says that “she can’t act her way out of a paper bag”, I have to say that you must not have been watching the same show as me. I found her quite skilled as an actor and very enjoyable to watch.” Billie’s performance is a subject close to my heart, and it’s good to see my other Kasterborous colleague Ant agreeing that “Billie Piper was wonderful as Rose.” Martin Hoscik, our friendly neighbourhood rival had this to say on the ex-“Swindon Songbird”: “Piper, confounded many critics within fandom, and established herself as a credible and robust performer who easily stole the show”.

Andrew Skilleter was similarly eloquent in describing Billie’s contribution. “Billie Piper pleasantly surprised me & many others; there’s no doubt that she is the glue that holds it all together and has brought in and kept the wider audience.” We’ll leave the last word on Rose to Carolyn, our only female member of the panel… “Rose was a lovely surprise. Billie Piper proved herself as a more than able actress in this part. I enjoyed seeing the Doctor’s universe through her eyes. Her inquisitive and caring personality won my affection. She was a perfectly tailored companion for a modern day Doctor – pretty, quirky and intelligent.”

Barnaby loved Rose, but was there too much of Billie? “Billie Piper has proved to be the best actress that has ever played the Doctor’s assistant. Her range is incredible, for someone so young and so relatively inexperienced within television.” Matthew concurs… “In Rose Tyler, she has realised a spunky, convincing, fully-rounded (and in all the right places) character, that has been readily accepted and has put to rest the stereotypical dimension-less…companion we have come to know. Her contribution to this New Series cannot be overlooked and must be seen to be on par with that of Eccleston, more so for the fact that she has made the professional decision to remain with it for the foreseeable future”

Everyone is so gushing – there must have been some low points? Carolyn? “It didn’t blow me away initially and I didn’t take straight away to the ninth Doctor (I normally prefer velvet-clad, bohemian Doctors).

“My only real regret is that there was no regeneration scene from the eighth to the ninth Doctor, even though I understand why Russell T Davies left it out. I always hoped the Eighth Doctor would at least be afforded a swansong, even if only in flashback.” Hmm, that would have been interesting – Ant, what do you think? “I would have preferred to have seen the development of The Doctors past more, the Time War and how he came to regenerate.”

Anything other than the lack of the fan staple we’re disappointed with? No? Sorry Andrew: “The first episode I didn’t like but maybe I was just getting used to it and I have to say I thought, the series would have been better without Boom Town.” Brian is itching to speak – “As much fun as the Time War made things, I have to admit that I am not a fan of the idea of Gallifrey’s destruction and the Doctor being the last Time Lord. This Superman idea is a bit old hat and doesn’t really have a place in Doctor Who for me. The Doctor had a mystery all his own and one that no other show could reproduce, so why the need to make him more like the rest of the Sci Fi world? We may never know but I hope we have not really seen the last Time Lord.” Again, Barnaby is left cold by some of Russell T Davies’ writing: ‘The End Of The World’ was, for me, bland. I couldn’t get interested in it. Sorry. As well as ‘Boomtown’, it was the only episode I struggled to finish watching.”

Matthew Walter feels more could have been done to reintroduce the series’ mythology: “[Davies] threw out the legacy engrained by the likes of Hartnell, Lambert, Letts/Dicks and Nathan-Turner, in the patronising belief that new viewers would not understand the Doctor’s ‘back story’. I believe that viewers are more intelligent than he derides, and would want to know (and care) more about this troubled man.”

We should consider the quality of the scriptwriting in more depth I feel… Barnaby?

“‘Aliens of London’ and ‘World War Three’ were an improvement. Regardless of the ‘fart gags’, an interesting twist on an old idea of ‘body-snatching invaders’.” Ant? “Rose was a fantastic entrance for the New Doctor Who, well written, pacey and with a dash of an old enemy… but It’s a tad mixed for me. While there have been moments of utter pleasure, there’s been moments that have left me questioning certain aspects of the show.”

I’m conscious we’re getting into sticky territory here. Barnaby has more to add. “I feel I may have been overly critical and a bit nit-picky about Mr Davies – and for that I apologise. Whether or not his scripts weren’t as polished as the others writers – and maybe that’s because he wrote more than anyone else – he created a new series with a bold direction, an intriguing ‘arc’, interesting characters, and captured the public’s imagination in a way that hadn’t been seen since the heady days of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor in the 1970s. He is, quite frankly, the man with the plan. He’s a towering, Welsh genius and we all owe him a huge debt of thanks.”

Here, here!

So, overall then things were good? Carolyn again: “The best thing about the new show is that people on the street are talking about it, and that children are playing ‘Daleks’ in the school playground again.

Russell T Davies with his wonderful team, has achieved what he set out to. He has made Doctor Who a part the nations’ consciousness again, not only winning an army of new fans, but pleasing the ‘old’ fans, or ‘Whovians’ too. The Doctor is back, and it’s been well worth the wait.”

Jean-Marc – “I really have only praise for the show.”

Barnaby is again his vociferous self – “One thing is for certain… Boy, does it work! It’s regularly gaining huge audiences in the difficult Saturday night slot. Audiences who returned episode after episode. It’s hooked the kids, who are the lifeblood of a continuing series, and it’s created a rare thing – a programme that all the family can watch, just as it used to be.”

“David Tennant is an inspired choice for the lead role,” claims Matthew, “A young man with a credible and diverse portfolio of work under his belt, he has an opportunity to consolidate his career. [But] there’s an entire universe out there so let’s meet the neighbours. Can the relationship of the time travellers be examined in a ’two-hander’ within the confines of the TARDIS?”

That would be very interesting to see Matthew… So we now have a new Doctor, and two more seasons. We’ve also got a Christmas special and some Cybermen! Andrew is initially excited by this development:

“I look forward to the return of the Cybermen. But what a missed opportunity – especially after the success of the recent BBC Cybermen Audio Tin – not to have brought David Banks in to write it. No one other than the creators themselves have developed and contributed more to the Cybermen myth than he through his popular portrayal of the Cyberleader and the mind bending pseudo history of the Cyber race first expounded in our classic Cybermen book, and later as audio tapes and now starting their release on CD.”

However… “From my family members alone, I can vouch that a non-Who fan can watch and enjoy a lot of these stories and that’s quite an achievement.”

Pete Wallbank is certain: “The reason for this show’s great success is simple: it had something for everyone, Teen soap, Drama, Comedy, Light entertainment, History, you name it everything appeared to be covered in this all encompassing slice of 45 minutes every Saturday evening… the show’s re-invention was an amazing public success.”

Ant has been conscious of the series’ lack of alien planets. “What about getting off bloody Earth? Let’s remember, the last time The Doctor spent so much time on Earth he was stranded, lets see what the very talented design team can come up with regarding other planets and races!”

Carolyn? “I’d also like to see more off world adventures with the tenth Doctor.”

Barnaby, have you any last words? “Let’s hope that Series Two re-addresses the balance and allows the Doctor to be the driving force of some of the episodes too.”

Brian: “It’s nice to know some of the brilliant writers who made all this possible will be returning and I welcome the additional writers as well as the new lucky actor to portray our favourite hero, David Tennant.

“2005 was good to us, but it’s not done yet – Christmas will be very special this year.”

And on that note…

Christian would like to thank everyone involved in this article for their contributions and taking the time from their busy schedules to make this appreciation possible.

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