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9 November 2014

On Tuesday, DWO attended a screening of Death in Heaven in Cardiff, which was followed by a Q&A session with Doctor Who Showrunner Steven Moffatt, Executive producer Brian Minchin, and Visual Effects Supremo Will Cohen. During the course of the chat, the trio reflected on the making of Season Eight, discussed the epic season finale, and even started to look toward the future… 


Doctor Who is a very emotional show. Do you focus on that when writing? What’s at the forefront of your mind when creating an episode?


Steven Moffatt: To try and make sure that nobody’s talking about watching anything else! You need to find an emotional through line to very story, because everything else about Doctor Who is so mad. It’s all monsters, and CGI, and explosions, and running. Nothing wrong with any of those things, they’re all my favourites, but you also need for it to be about something, and that I think is what makes it work.


What made you turn the Master in to a woman?


SM: I’d never written a Master story, and there had been a number of Masters in the show from the amazing Roger Delgado through to John Simm, and I could never think of a way to do it which was interesting.


And then I thought, if you could smuggle her in to the show in plain sight and then land that one… and then once and for all absolutely establish in plain sight, so nobody has any doubt about this whatsoever: yes, Time Lords can do that… it just expands the show a little bit.


You get old time fans saying ‘no! You’re not allowed to do that…!’


And what about Disney fans? She’s Mary Poppins!


SM: Mary Poppins has always been evil!


I don’t know why. To be honest, it was a gimmick at the start - there’s nothing wrong with a gimmick - and I was really fiddling with how on Earth I was going to write it. 


Michelle Gomez was on the list for a different part, and she’d been offered another part but couldn’t do it. But then I thought ‘Oh my God, that’s it!’ Michelle is so genuinely barking… I thought there’s never going to be a dull moment on screen! I’ve known Michelle for a long time, because she was married to Jack Davenport who had done Coupling. So I’d known her, I’ve gotten drunk with her, and she actually is like [she is on screen]. That’s toning it down.


So is the Master gone now?


SM: Yes


I was delighted back when the wonderful Anthony Ainley was the Master back with Peter Davison, and he would definitively get fried, or incinerated, or destroyed at the end of each story… and he’d turn up at the beginning of the next one and basically say ‘I escaped’. I had no problem with that! 


So… observe how I’ve avoided your question! What are the chances?


This is the first time that the Master has worked with the Cybermen…


SM: Oh, but the Master has met the Cybermen before. Would you like me to list them?


But why the idea to team them up?


I’ve never written a Cyberman one, and when I was a kid, I absolutely loved the Cybermen. They were my favourite. I mean, the Daleks were really my favourite, but I pretended that the Cybermen were my favourite to make myself more interesting. Which absolutely doesn’t work.


I’d always wanted to make them creepy and scary. I was aware that there is kind of a problem that the Cybermen are brilliant at standing there, and brilliant at breaking out of tombs, fantastic at breaking out of tombs - they’ve been doing that since 1967 - but when they stand up and actually arrive… they’ve a monotone voice, no facial expressions, and no emotions. That can be tricky. You sort of want to put them with somebody who can be the interface. But I love Cybermen. 


I don’t even know why they’re great. The absolutely indispensable part of the Cybermen is that they’ve got handles there… I mean the idea of removing them would be heresy… But what are they for


But I do adore them. Especially an old show called The Tomb of the Cybermen, which I’ve ripped off many times, it’s just perfect Doctor Who. Glorious Doctor Who


If you bring the Rani back, would she be a man?


SM: What, still? I don’t know! I’ve never been quite sure if outside of the circle of Doctor Who fans, if she’s really a character that people know about. I don’t know. I don’t think that people who have real lives - not like us - would really recognise that character. The Master, everyone seems to know about the Master, but I’m never quite sure about the Rani. But… I could just be bulls******g! I said I wasn’t bringing back the Master right at the start of this series - just a straightforward lie! But it’s a good idea… the Rani as a man is quite…!


In this season, you really explore who the Doctor is. Was that part of the reaction to bringing in a new actor to the role?


SM: Well, it was sort of two things. I thought it was time to do that. Before we discussed who was going to be the new Doctor, I was thinking ‘it’s getting all a bit cosy’. The Doctor is a reliable hero, and he’ll turn up and be fantastic. Matt Smith was incredible at doing that, but I thought it was a bit cosy and reliable. So, the reason that I did what I did in Matt’s last episode - to trap him on a planet for a thousand years, and remind him that everybody else will die around him, he’s not anybody’s boyfriend, he’s not really one of their playmates, he’s something else entirely - meant that you could go somewhere else with it.


From the Doctor’s point of view, he’s had a long break in his travels. If you asked him… I think he’d be quite surprised to discover that there’s an early Saturday evening adventure serial about him. I suppose that would come as a shock to anyone. But he doesn’t think of himself as a hero, you’ve got to give him something to play.


He’s great, as Peter has started doing, turning and looming into the camera for a ‘hero reveal’, and if you’ve got actors as the Doctor of the calibre that we’ve had since the very beginning of the show, then you’ve got to give them something to play. Not just falling out of planes… though that’s good too…


What does it feel like to see everything you’ve written come together in to an episode?


SM: What does it feel like? It feels absolutely brilliant. That’s how it feels. There are things I’ve experienced in life which don’t get old - quite a few, actually! - and that is definitely one of them.


It can be murderously difficult getting all the bits together, but genuinely, it is joyous. It’s wonderful. Absolutely terrific. I haven’t got an ounce of cynicism in me about that process.


I think it is… utterly thrilling. And if that’s something you want to do, don’t let anyone tell you ‘you know that really is a proper job, and you have to work very hard, and it’s probably not as exciting as it seems…’ yes it bloody is! It’s Doctor Who stories! It’s brilliant. I do not ever get tired of that.


Is that true for Brian and Will, too?


WC: Completely inspiring. You can have a really bad few days, but you look at it, even tonight, just to hear what everyone else has done, all of it coming together is hugely inspiring.


BM: I find it quite addictive, because you get to tell such huge stories, on such a big scale. You know how much people care about the show and you really want it to be as good as it can possibly be. Everyone wants it to be the best ever, and we get amazing writers, amazing actors… it’s a fantastic feeling.


What was the first episode you made of Doctor Who?


SM: Well, the first one I wrote, when Russell was running Doctor Who, was called The Empty Child. It was a little gas mask boy, crying for his mummy. And the first one when I was Excessing it, was The Eleventh Hour


Well, The Eleventh Hour was the first one that went out - the first one with Matt Smith in. The first one we actually made was the Weeping Angels one, The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone


That seems ages ago to you, doesn’t it? That’s really appallingly old. My kids were saying ‘we’re watching one of the old Doctor Who’s, daddy!’ and I was thinking ‘brilliant! They’ve finally taken my advice! Which one is it?’The Girl in the Fireplace. That’s not old!


All these episodes are really complex. How do you plan them? Where do you plan them? Do you have a lair? 


SM: I should have a lair… Maybe something underground… Sorry, I’m distracted now thinking about designing my lair…


Yes, you do plot out… actually, do you know, one thing we did this year is to not write things down. Get to the point where you have memorised every episode you’re going to do, and what’s going to happen, where Clara is, where Danny is. We never really had a document, really. It keeps it flexible in your head.


I have this fear when I write things down, that having written it, I will stick to it. I don’t really want to. I want to think it’s still flexible. But I’m definitely getting some work done on that lair…


Do you ever make very, very, very late changes? On set even? How down to the wire?


SM: We don’t make huge late changes, because you can’t. It’s a huge, military show. Down to the wire…? Oh my GOD, yeah! 


How much do you listen to fan’s feedback?


SM: It’s an interesting question. There was a little Doctor Who fan in Scotland, who wrote in repeatedly, to the point that the BBC complained about him. We recently cast him as the Doctor… Never let anyone tell you it doesn’t work! That was the most successful letter-writing campaign in history!


It’s a hard one. As most Doctor Who fans would be the first to say that they are not typical members of the audience. And the voice of the fan is in my head - I sit awake at night worrying about UNIT dating… You don’t even know what that means! Personally, I think Captain Yates was dating Osgood.


I think, I keep saying this, there’s the ‘fans’, and there’s the other 100% of the audience. That’s what you have to make it appeal as; a huge mainstream hit. I do believe it’s true that that’s what they want Doctor Who to be. They don’t want it to be a minority thing, they want it to be a huge thing. That does occasionally mean that you make decisions fans don’t like as much. But, I tell you the truth: you listen to a good idea.


Out of all the planets the Doctor has visited, which is your favourite? 


Will Cohen: One of Steven’s planets… Silence in the Library is one of them! We won an award for it! There’s this wonderful awards do in America, in Los Angeles, and they voted that as the best environment in a TV show, which was real honour for us. It was the first time we’d won for Doctor Who and we were chuffed.


SM: Just to do with the ingenuity of our former producer Marcus Wilson, there was a time when we were filming Asylum of the Daleks and the Doctor’s running around on top of a snowcapped mountain.


The reason I love that is nothing to do with the snow or anything like that, but because Marcus was out shooting the cowboy episode, A Town Called Mercy, and he looked out of his window and thought ‘hang on, there’s snow up there! Instead of doing that in the studio, I’m just going to phone up the Doctor Who production office and send them out!’ I thought that was just an example of brilliant producing.


WC: I’m very fond of Gallifrey, too, when we went there for the Time War. To go over Arcadia…


SM: But what about the one we’re going to do for the first story next year…?


You can’t just say that! Can you tell us any more?


SM: No!


Next year also marks ten years since the programme returned to our screens. Are there any plans to celebrate that?


SM: If you think about it, isn’t it quite a complex message to put out there; ‘do you know that show that was 50 years old a little while ago, and we wouldn’t stop going on about it? Well, now it’s ten…’


I could be lying. My worry is always… my worry about the 50th, which seemed to come off, and people seemed to be really really happy, is how many times are you going to have a huge celebration of the show? You have to stop applauding yourself at some point, I think.


Brian Mincin: I think, between about 50 and 60, you start celebrating in fives, don’t you?


Through series 8, the theme is people ‘dying… but not really dying’. That’s something you can see a bit of in your previous episodes; in Silence in the Library they weren’t dead they were in a computer, for example. We haven’t seen much final ‘before their time’ death…


SM: Were you watching that episode?


Exactly! There were lot’s of surprising deaths in that. Is that a theme that will continue? People dying before their time?


SM: Dear God! I was told directly by Russell ‘you’ve written six episodes of Doctor Who and not killed anyone’ - he meant fictional characters! - so, I don’t know. Do you know what? I’m sentimental. I am, I’m sentimental, and I actually quite like people not doing - in real life and in fiction!


If I watch a show and somebody dies, I always want them to come back to life at the end. Like in The Lion King! Where’s his dad? Ever since that damn film Bambi, I’ve been saying ‘fiction has control over death’! Bring nice people back!


How did you arrive at Peter Capaldi’s costume as the Doctor?


BM: When Peter was finding his outfit, I think he tried on every form of clothing that was possible. We were getting these hilarious photos of different versions of what the Doctor could be. He was very single-minded in his attempt to try on every different outfit in London…


SM: The ones he didn’t like, he just stood in the photographs like [grumpy expression]. But the ones he did like he did [strikes a ‘Doctor’ pose]!.


BM: He didn’t quite go back to the very first one he tried, but close.


Who made the final decision on the costume? Was it Peter Capaldi?


SM: Yes. We all loved it, it looked great, but the job of that costume is to make Peter Capaldi feel like the Doctor. I think it’s total nonsense to impose a costume on somebody. They have to sort of find it, make it part of their Doctor.


Obviously, we turned down the clown suit… And the gorilla mask… we’d ask him to think again…


What’s happening with River Song?


SM: Well… She’s dead!


You will admit that it’s a troubled relationship which begins in that way. Which goes from death, to a wedding where one of them is a miniaturised version of themselves in a robot duplicate… it’s not normal. Where can we go from there?


I said to Russell, he was just asking what was going on because he does, I said that I think that’s it, and we’re not going to do that again and he said ‘Noooo! Noooo! Capaldi and Kingston! It’ll be a sex storm!’


So when you see an episode called ‘Sex Storm’, written by Russell T Davies… I don’t know. She was a great character, I loved her, but I always worried that you might be bringing something back who’s day is done. Said he. As the Executive Producer of the 51-year-old show…!


Does the Doctor have a name?


SM: Well… he must have one. But it cannot be known by anyone. His name’s the Doctor, that’s the name he’s chosen.


But yes, in the fiction of the show. At some point he had a name that for whatever reason we may speculate on, he has completely abandoned. But you know, I wouldn’t feel entitled to make one up. I pretended I was going to once by calling an episode The Name of the Doctor, but surprisingly enough it was a lie!

8 November 2014

Viewers who stayed tuned right to the end of tonight's Series 8 finale (Death In Heaven) were treated to a special preview trailer for the 2014 Doctor Who Christmas Special.

In the trailer, we see The Doctor at the North Pole, with Nick Frost who seems to be playing Santa Claus

Check out the trailer out in the player, below:

+  The Doctor Who Christmas Special will air on Christmas Day, Time TBC, on BBC One.

[Source: BBC]

6 November 2014

DWO’s Spoiler-free preview of episode 8.12: Death in Heaven:


It barely seems possible that we can already be at the end of Peter Capaldi’s first season as the Doctor - and what a ride its been! Death in Heaven is certainly the perfect capstone for the entire series, tying together threats that have been running since Deep Breath at the start of the run, and even a few that stretch back further, in to the eras of earlier Doctors.


Doctor Who Online went to get a preview of the episode at a screening in Cardiff on Tuesday evening, alongside a number of fans of the show. The atmosphere at the event sums up, we think, the general reaction to the whole of Series Eight this year. There was laughter (sometimes raucous, always in the right places), gasps of shock, and even a few teary eyes in places. If killing off regular character Danny Pink in the prattles to the last episode set this story up as one where anything could happen, and no one is safe… well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.


The next statement is probably quite predictable - that series regulars Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Samuel Anderson are on fine form, and - as they’ve done almost every week of the run - continue to raise the bar to a whole new level. There are times when Peter’s Doctor will absolutely break your heart, and he plays it beautifully. On equally fine form is Michelle Gomez, now revealed to be the latest incarnation of the Doctor’s arch enemy the Master. Any quibbles people had about making such a drastic change to the character will surely melt away when you see her squaring up to our Twelfth Doctor - the pair are electrifying, and it’s safe to say that the Gomez incarnation will be topping several people’s lists as ‘favourite Master’. Oh, and did we mention - she’s absolutely bananas.


Director Rachel Talalay - who’s helmed both episodes of this finale - provides us with some stunning visuals, and some of the best action sequences that the programme has ever given us. There’s moments here where you genuinely could believe that you’re watching a multi-million dollar hollywood blockbuster, and yet it’s all been realised on a modest TV budget. We’ve heard it said time and time again over the years that the Doctor Who team are some of the hardest working and most skilled people in the industry, and it’s never been more in evidence than at times during this episode. You can really sense the labour of love that’s gone in to making it, and it’s worth every little bit of effort.


You may have noticed that we’re trying to give away as little as possible, and that’s because the full impact of this episode comes best when you sit down not knowing what to expect. We could wax lyrical about the reference to [X], or a cameo from [Y], or reveal that the Doctor… well, anyway. Death in Heaven is Doctor Who at its finest. Action packed, emotional, funny, and a little bit silly. What more could you want?



Five things to look out for:

“There is no Clara Oswald. I invented her. I made her up.”

2) “Something for your bucket list…”

3) “He’s on the payroll…”

4) A new title sequence.

5) “Didn’t you think to look?”

[Source: DWO, Will Brooks]

29 October 2014

DWO’s Spoiler-free preview of Episode 8.11: Dark Water:


It’s (almost) the end, but the moment has been prepared for…


It doesn’t seem possible that we’re already starting out on the finale to Peter Capaldi’s incredible first season as the Doctor, having been from the banks of the River Thames, via Sherwood Forest, the Bank of Karabraxos, Coal Hill School, The Orient Express (in space no less), and now onto our final destination: the Underworld.


For the first time since 2011’s The Rebel FleshThe Almost People, we’ve got a Doctor Who story told in two parts. In some ways, it feels as though they’ve slightly lost the knack for telling such stories, and you occasionally get the impression that this is really all one big prequel for next week’s episode proper. Here, we’re simply watching as all of the pieces are moved into the right positions, and we’re brought up to speed with everything we’ll need to know to fully appreciate the events of the final episode proper. To that end, don’t be surprised when several clips from the ‘Next Time’ trailer last week don’t surface here, because it’s not their time yet.


That’s not to say that Dark Water isn’t a good episode in itself, but it very much does feel like only half the story, and it’s difficult to truly judge it without seeing the second half. There’s plenty to keep your attention glued to the screen here, though, and you’ll need to be paying attention to really make sure you’ve got everything you’ll need going forward. By the time the opening credits have started, you already know that this is an episode that won’t be playing it safe, and that it really could go anywhere from this point - there’s no guarantee that everyone will be making it out alive.


It’s also very much a finale designed to perfectly cap off the adventures that we’ve been seeing across this year’s stories - and it wouldn’t have anywhere near the impact it does without them. We welcome back Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink once more, and get to see the next stage of his relationship with Clara, and it’s this which is central to the plot. Every scene they’ve shared together so far has been building towards this, and it’s the type of story that needed an unbroken run of episodes to really evolve. Even people who aren’t huge fans of the couple will surely feel a few pangs of emotion at their situation.


But with these 45 minutes, the stage is set, most of the players are in place, and we’re in a good position to really see the series out with a bang next week. Probably best not to go in to this one expecting all the high energy and excitement of the trailers so far, though, because we’re not quite there, yet…



Five things to look out for:


1) “I don’t deserve a friend like you…”

2) Seven Hiding Places.

3) The Twelfth Doctor finally gets a chance to do some Tenth and Eleventh Doctor-style kissing…

4) It’s not a fish tank.

5)“The time line disintegrates. Your time line.”

[Sources: DWO, Will Brooks]

22 October 2014

DWO’s Spoiler-Free preview of episode 8.10: In the Forest of the Night:


Doctor Who has always featured character arcs. Go right back to the very beginning of the programme in 1963, and watch as the Doctor changes across his adventures with Ian and Barbara. Compare the man they find in the Junkyard at Totter’s Lane with the one that they’re lazing around with at the beginning of The Chase two years later, and you can track his journey along the way rather easily. They’re not always so prominent in the ‘classic’ era of the programme, but they’re there, from Jo, to Tegan, to Ace. Once you reach the 21st century period of the programme, the focus has been shifted much more to the characters, and every season is crammed with lovely character arcs, right from the start.


That said, it’s a real delight watching the arcs unfold across Season Eight this year. I’m not talking about the little hints and glimpses that we’re getting of ‘Missy’ and the ‘Promised Land’ scattered through the stories, I mean the story of our three regulars - the Doctor, Clara, and Danny. It’s been great watching their story unfold over the last ten weeks, and it’s rather brilliant that every story this year has managed to turn and evolve their relationships to each other very definitely, without ever making it feel forced, or hitting you over the head with the point. In The Forest of the Night continues this tradition, giving us perhaps a greater glimpse at Danny’s real character than ever before, and putting him under the spotlight in the same way that last week’s Flatline did for the Doctor.


A lot of the praise for how well all of this is working needs to be laid at the door of the three lead actors in this series - Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Samuel Anderson. It really is becoming increasingly difficult every week to find new ways of saying how brilliant the three of them are, and there’s not letting up in this episode. The only way to describe it is to say that we got chills at DWO when watching a scene of the Doctor and Clara together, because you simply know that you’re watching two masters at work. Simply stunning.


But what of the story itself? There’s been a lot of buzz around Frank Cottrell Boyce joining the programme with this story, especially after the seasons’ other new writer - Jamie Mathieson - has provided two very well received episodes for the run. Boyce doesn’t fail to deliver, giving us a story which manages to play on various fears, and do so while presenting us with logical explanations for them. The characters are all absolutely nailed, and the idea at the heart of the story - that the world wakes up one day to find the entire planet shrouded in a thick forest - is completely right for a Doctor Who tale.


Another new face joining the series this week is director Sheree Folkson, who comes in all guns blazing, and managing to make the forest look gorgeous in every shot. It’s amazing how just a few scatter objects that we can relate to as ‘every day’ - a traffic light here, one of Trafalgar Square’s lions there - can help to create the idea that we’re still very much in the heart of the city here, while also feeling remote and trapped. The use of light in this episode is especially nice - playing through the trees in every scene to create something really rather magical.


Five things to look out for:


1) “I can fight monsters, I can’t fight physics…”
2) All of this has happened before…
3) “A tree is a time machine”
4) Another London landmark gets destroyed
5) "You. Have you got a name, at all?"

[Sources: DWO, Will Brooks]

17 October 2014

DWO’s Spoiler-free preview of episode 8.9: Flatline:


Since Doctor Who was revived in 2005, most seasons have featured a cheaper episode, to free up money for more expensive sequences in the other stories of that year, and a ‘Doctor-Lite’ episode, in which the Doctor’s involvement is paired right back, allowing the regular cast to work on two episodes simultaneously, and ensure that there’s enough footage in the can for our Saturday nights. Flatline is perhaps unusual, as it feels in some ways like both a cheaper episode and a ‘Doctor-lite’ adventure… but it’s not really either.


The episode has clearly been designed to only require two-or-three days filming from Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, confining him largely to the TARDIS, but his presence is absolutely vital throughout. You never get the sense that this is in any way ‘Doctor-lite’, even though it fits the brief of being so. Of course, this does mean that Jenna Colemen gets a real chance to show us what she’s made of this week - leading the adventure and taking charge of the guest characters to investigate a mystery and save the day. It would, perhaps, be fairer to call this episode ‘Clara-heavy’.


Our ‘hook’ this week can perhaps be boiled down to just two words - ‘Killer Graffiti’. While the concept of the paintings being such a sinister presence through the episode could lead to comparisons with the 2006 episode Fear Her, the story here is different enough to stand on its own two feet, and manages to make the concept rather terrifying in places. How can you escape from something that can follow you through the walls, the furniture, and the floors?


But Flatline isn’t really about the Killer Graffiti at all - it’s an examination of the Doctor’s character, his true character that we’ve been seeing more and more of this season, now that he’s ‘lifted the veil’. Picking up on the themes of episodes like Kill the Moon, in which Clara gets to see what it’s like having to make a big decision on behalf of millions, or Mummy on the Orient Express, where she learns how you have to handle people to get the best from them in ‘end of the world’ situations, this story is about again letting her get inside the Doctor’s head, and have a taste of what it’s like to really be him.


As has become standard for the programme this year, the Direction is simply beautiful, and there’s some lovely locations on display. Filming in Bristol has allowed a slightly different feel to the Cardiff exteriors we’ve become so used to over the years, and this story does stand out from the pack in this respect. Sadly, the special effects are more of a mixed bag this time around - with some elements looking absolutely fantastic, while some other areas could do with a little more work, and seem more distracting than enjoyable.


A vital episode for the narrative of Series 8, a chance for the regulars to shine (as always), a simple concept twisted into interesting new directions… but perhaps an episode which is less than the sum of its parts.


Five things to look out for:

“Are we really hiding from Killer Graffiti?”

2) “Don’t give me an ‘ish’.”
3) “I’m the Doctor. Doctor Oswald… But you can call me Clara.”
4) There’s a hint about how much the TARDIS actually weighs.
5) “Lying is a vital survival skill.”


[Sources: DWO; Will Brooks]

11 October 2014

Before tonight's episode (8.8: Mummy On The Orient Express) airs, the BBC have released a short, behind-the-scenes clip from Doctor Who Extra, featuring a glimpse at Foxes song which will feature in the episode.

The singer can be seen performing a jazz version of Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now', before getting to explore the TARDIS set.

Check out the video in the player, below:

+  Mummy On The Orient Express airs Tonight at 8:35pm, on BBC One.

[Source: BBC]

8 October 2014

DWO’s Spoiler-Free preview of Episode 8.8: Mummy on the Orient Express:

“An Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express, in space.”

Fans have been wondering for four years if we might get to see the Doctor catch up on his phone calls and finally head off to the Orient Express in Space to ward of an Egyptian goddess. While this episode doesn’t contain a goddess, it does provide us with an ancient legend, an Egyptian mummy, and the Orient Express. In space.

Let’s start on the design for this serial, because it really is one of the strongest of the season so far. The various production departments have really gone all-out to recreate the look and feel of the Orient Express in the 1920s, from costumes to the train carriages themselves. There was always a risk that a story set in such a confined location as a train would end up lacking the visual impact of something like Robot of Sherwood, or Kill the Moon, but Mummy on the Orient Express really holds its own. Director Paul Wilmshurst returns for a second outing on Doctor Who - having made his debut last week - and again proves himself to be one of the programme’s strongest current directors. I’d wager that there’ll be a few kids having nightmares about the mummy stalking towards them, one foot dragging along the floor…

Making his debut in the series this week is writer Jamie Mathieson, who makes a strong start for his first outing in the Who world. Mathieson’s script manages to blend humour with darker moments, and this work perfectly for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, who has perhaps never struck that balance as effectively as he does here. There’s something almost joyous about watching him piece together the mystery of the mummy, and lie awake at night, talking to himself in the absence of a companion. The episode deals somewhat with this incarnation’s coldness, but we get to see him enjoying himself again, too, showing off to a carriage of people, or waxing lyrical about the area of space they’re flying through.

Stepping in to a temporary companion role this week is Frank Skinner, a self-proclaimed Doctor Who fan. In the announcement of his casting, Skinner made reference to (1964 serial) The Sensorites, and he’s spoken on chat shows in the past about his desire to appear in the series. You can really sense how much Skinner is loving being on the set, getting to work with the Doctor to save people’s lives, but you never get the impression that he’s there simply to appease his wish to be part of the programme - he’s perfectly cast in the role of Perkins, and by the end, you almost want him to tag along in the TARDIS full-time!

Five things to look out for:

1) Would you like a Jelly Baby?
2) “Goodbye to the good times…"
3) “The real wonderful is through here…”
4) Don’t stop me now…
5) “I’m not a passenger. I’m your worst nightmare.”

[Sources: DWOWill Brooks]

3 October 2014

DWO’s Spoiler-free preview of episode 8.7: Kill the Moon:

This year’s season of Doctor Who has really showcased the way that the programme can change and adapt its style each week. We’ve had comedy with Robot of Sherwood, action with Into the Dalek and even a bank job in Time Heist. What do we get with *Kill the Moon, then? Well… a feeling of dread, mostly.

That’s not a negative comment - it’s not a feeling of dread that the episode isn’t good - it is - but large swathes of this episode are imbued with that ‘pit of your stomach’ feeling that makes you a little bit uncomfortable. It could be the spider-creatures lurking in the shadows, or a moon base filled with cobwebs, it could be the mystery of the moon’s real purpose, and it could even be the way that the Twelfth Doctor behaves.

Peter Capaldi’s Doctor has been quite unlike his immediate predecessors. He’s not the cuddly, human-loving Doctor we’ve come to know over the last ten years or so, and he’s stopped pretending to be our best friend. That’s perhaps never highlighted better than in this episode, in which he decides that it’s simply not his place to get involved. With each week, you can see Capaldi finding new facets of the character, and this week we get to swing between him being cold and uncaring, to excitement as he figures out what’s really going on.

If our Doctor is on fine form again in this episode, then the same is certainly true for Jenna Coleman in the role of the companion. Clara has been through a lot with the Doctor since his regeneration, and the cracks in their relationship are beginning to show. Coleman gives it full throttle in this episode, at times proving her best performance to date. Clara might struggle to get along with the Doctor after this adventure, and it’s not hard to see why…

It’s also time for our annual trip abroad, this time returning to Lanzerote (previously used for location sequences in 1984’s Planet of Fire), which is doubling up as the surface of the moon. It’s a very striking location, and it’s hard not to fall in love with it a little - perfectly representing our closest neighbour in the stars, while also transforming it in to something creepy and dangerous. Director Paul Wilmshurst has crafted a beautiful pallette for the episode, and his work here only serves to add to the tension, keeping you on the edge of your seat waiting for the next little bit of terror…

Five things to look out for:

1) There’s shades of 1968’s Seeds of Death in here… beyond it being set on the moon…
2) A description of how the Doctor senses ‘fixed points’ in time.
3) “What’s wrong with my yo-yo?”
4) Two rules: “No being Sick. No Hanky-Panky.”
5) “The future is no more malleable than the past.”

[Sources: DWOWill Brooks]

19 September 2014

Production on 2014's Doctor Who Christmas episode has begun, with a host of British acting talent set to appear.  The Doctor Who Christmas special, a cracker of a highlight in the festive season’s schedule, will air this Christmas on BBC One and promises to be an action-packed, unmissable adventure. 

Nick Frost, actor and screen writer, has starred in numerous hit film and television roles, including Spaced, The World’s End, Shaun of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, Cuban Fury and Paul, which he also wrote. 

Nick comments:

“I'm so thrilled to have been asked to guest in the Doctor Who Christmas special, I'm such a fan of the show. The read-through was very difficult for me; I wanted to keep stuffing my fingers into my ears and scream "No spoilers!” Every day on set I’ve had to silence my internal fan boy squeals!"

Michael Troughton (Breathless, The New Statesman), who has recently returned to acting, will follow in his father’s footsteps by appearing in Doctor Who. His father, Patrick Troughton, played the second incarnation of the Doctor.

They will be joined by Natalie Gumede (Coronation Street, Ideal, Strictly Come Dancing), Faye Marsay (Pride, The White Queen, Fresh Meat) and Nathan McMullen (Misfits, Casualty). 

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, says:

“Frost at Christmas - it just makes sense! I worked with Nick on the Tintin movie many years ago and it's a real pleasure to lure him back to television for a ride on the TARDIS.”

The Doctor Who Christmas special will air on BBC One on Christmas Day. Written by Steven Moffat and directed by Paul Wilmshurst (Strike Back, Combat Kids), it will be shot in Cardiff at BBC Wales Roath Lock Studios. 

[Source: BBC]

17 September 2014

DWO’s spoiler-free preview of episode 8.5 - Time Heist:


One of the greatest strengths Doctor Who has, is its ability to tell wildly different stories from week to week. Right back to the very earliest episodes, it’s a programme that can show us the stone age, before whisking us off to a dead city in the far future, or trapping us in the time machine. Season Eight is showing this ability off wonderfully, and Time Heist is as different to last week’s Listen as that episode was to Robot of Sherwood the week before, or Into the Dalek before that.


This episode takes The Doctor and Clara, and drops them in to a bank heist movie. Everything you’d want from such a tale is present here, and it’s always good fun to see how our characters react in scenarios we all know from an entire genre of film and television. 


It also presents us with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor slightly out of his depth, having to put his trust in others, and work it out along with the rest of us pudding brains. There’s enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing right up until the end. Why are they breaking in to the bank? Who sent them here? Where’s the TARDIS? And why do they have to go about the break-in like this?


Time Heist may come as a disappointment to people going in expecting something as deep and creepy as last week’s story, because it’s not in the same style at all. That’s not to say that this isn’t an entertaining episode, but it’s a story to be enjoyed more simply expecting an entertaining 45 minutes.


There’s plenty of visual spectacle on display, with director Douglas MacKinnon returning for his second story of the season, and a great monster design in the Teller - a creature able to detect your guilt and remove it from your mind. As prosthetics go, it’s one of the strongest that Doctor Who has seen in a while.


On the whole, Time Heist serves its purpose as a good episode for the middle of the season. It’s never going to grace the top of ‘best story’ polls, but it’s sure to win over fans and warrant a repeat, to watch everything unfold once you know what’s been going on behind the scenes of the adventure…


Five things to look out for:


1) “Are you ready for your close up?”

2) Soup

3) “Have you got to reach a high shelf?”

4) Characters from The Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood, and the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip!

5) “Time to run”


[Sources: DWO; Will Brooks]

9 September 2014

DWO’s spoiler-free preview of episode 8.4: Listen:

Since Doctor Who’s return to screens in 2005, current show-runner Steven Moffat has been the king of ‘scary’. He provided us with the chilling ‘are you my mummy?’ in Series One, ‘who turned out the lights?’ in Series Four, the ominous tick-tock of the Clockwork Droids in Series Two, and - of course - the Weeping Angels, some of the scariest monsters that the programme has ever produced. In many ways, Listen feels like a return to Moffat trying to scare us, and it’s safe to say that he succeeds.

This story revolves around a simple premise - what if when we’re all alone… we’re actually not. What if every second of our lives, there’s someone, or something there with us. What if when we talk aloud to ourselves, there’s someone listening, and when the hairs on the back of our necks stand on end, it’s the breath of another creature right behind you. It’s this thought which has preoccupied the Doctor when we find him at the start of the story, and the tale becomes his quest to find the answer.

The idea at the heart of this tale pulls on threads that Moffat has used before in a story for the 2007 Doctor Who story book, where he answered the question with the suggestion that people sometimes attract ‘Floofs’, small creatures which attach themselves to people and toy with them by hiding keys, or making mischief. Listen takes many of the concepts from that story and transfers them masterfully to the screen, managing to make them even more unnerving in the process. It’s safe to say that people will be checking in the shadows (and under the bed) on Saturday night. And probably Sunday night, too. And Monday, if we’re honest. [DWO have been checking for the last hour and a half, just in case.]

All the scares have been realised here by director Douglas Mackinnon, who storms back into the series with some truly gorgeous visuals. It’s some of his best directing work, and the use of colour in the episode is particularly nice. The direction of this story really serves to heighten the fear in places, and make a simple blanket the most terrifying thing in the universe. It’s also good to see that - as with Robot of Sherwood last week - directors are finding new and interesting ways to use the TARDIS set. It feels huge here, and somehow manages to make even Peter Capaldi seem small here, when left alone with his thoughts.

We’re also seeing the welcome return of Samuel Anderson in this episode, after a break from the programme last week. Danny Pink continues to be a source of humour here, but it’s nice to see Anderson given the chance to tackle some more dramatic stuff, too. He’s given lots to do here, and it’s hard not to simply love him. We can’t wait to see where his story goes from here - and this episode certainly give us some tantalising hints.

Five things to look out for: 

1) "Scared is a super power."
2) "Robinson Crusoe at the end of the universe…"
3) "A soldier so brave, he doesn’t need a gun."
4) Are you afraid of the dark?
5) "The human race. You’re never happy, are you?"

[Sources: DWOWill Brooks]


3 September 2014

DWO’s spoiler-free review of Episode 8.3: Robot of Sherwood:

In the build-up to Season Eight, Robot of Sherwood has often been touted as the ‘comedy’ episode of the year. The premise in itself - the Doctor meets Robin Hood! - is somewhat amusing, and automatically suggests that this is going to be something a bit special. Well, the fact is that, yes, Robot of Sherwood is a funny episode, and it works wonderfully because of that.

Back in The Rings of Akhaten, the Doctor offered Clara the opportunity to go anywhere and see anything… and her mind went blank. The sheer enormity of choice offered by the TARDIS was far too great to choose one single moment in all of time and space. Eighteen months on, though, she’s gotten the hang of this time-travel lark, and she knows exactly who she wants to meet.

The ‘celebrity historical’ episodes have been a staple of Doctor Who since its 2005 return, taking us to meet the likes of Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill and Agatha Christie. In Season Seven we saw the format shaken up with an historical figure - Queen Nefertiti - being brought into the future. Robot of Sherwood shakes the format up once again, taking the TARDIS and dropping it directly into the legend of Robin Hood.

All the elements that you could want are here - the band of Merry Men, the Evil Sheriff, and the oppressed villagers. And then, of course, there’s the man himself, complete with a little green hat. If the story can be really compared to an earlier ‘celebrity historical’, then it’s closest in style to 2007’s The Shakespeare Code, with our resident celebrity being a little bit too full of himself - he is the Robin Hood, after all. Tom Riley shines in the part, and watching him spar with the Twelfth Doctor is fantastic.

Where the episode really sings, though, is in the direction. Paul Murphy makes his Doctor Who debut here, and he certainly arrives in style, keeping you hooked throughout. Right from the start, and the way he chooses to shoot the TARDIS set, you know you’re in for something rather special, and that doesn’t stop as the story goes on.

All the talk of comedy in the script can threaten to under-sell the drama in the story, and there’s plenty of that here. Three episodes in, Clara and the new Doctor are getting more used to each other now, and this episode is perhaps the first time that the pair have really felt comfortable travelling together. This is still an incarnation who can be a bit more aloof and alien than some of his more recent predecessors, but here he feels closer to the Doctor that we’ve come to know and love, and pitting the legend of the Doctor against the legend of Robin Hood is a great way to examine his quest to find himself… 

Five things to look out for:

1) "It’s not a competition to see who can die slower."

2) There’s references to First and Third Doctor stories, and a more oblique reference to the Second Doctor…

3) "Old fashioned heroes only exist in old fashioned story books."

4) "Always carry a spoon!"

5) "Usefulness expired."

[Sources: DWOWill Brooks]

29 August 2014

DWO’s spoiler free preview of Episode 8.2: Into the Dalek:


The Daleks have been locked in a constant battle with the Doctor ever since the second story way back in 1963, and every incarnation of the Time Lord has faced off against them at some time in some form. The Twelfth Doctor wastes no time in coming face-to-eye-stalk with his greatest foes - as they turn up in his very own second story, Into The Dalek.


The episode is very much Fantastic Voyage - a 1966 movie, in which a group of scientists are miniaturised and injected into a person’s bloodstream - meets a war film, and there’s plenty of spectacle to be seen with Daleks being blown up left right and centre. It’s in this element that Into The Dalek is most successful, and at times it’s one of the nicest looking episodes of Doctor Who ever. Director Ben Wheatley, who also helmed last week’s Deep Breath, has clearly revelled in the chance to destroy the Doctor’s greatest enemies, and it’s easy to see why new Doctor Peter Capaldi turned up to set on his day off just to watch.

We get to see the Daleks in a slightly different light here. They’ve not got some big, season-ending scheme for universal conquest, but rather are just tearing their way through the galaxy, making sure to wipe out anything that stands in their way. It doesn’t feel as though they’re plotting and planning at all, but rather just getting on with what they do best - exterminating. The absence of any master plan for the creatures means that we’ve got more time to explore the way that the Doctor feels about them, and though the explosions may look lovely, they’re just window dressing to a story that looks into a Dalek’s - and the Doctor’s - soul.


The Twelfth Doctor hasn’t lightened up here from the last episode - he’s still a colder character than we would expect from either of his immediate predecessors, but it’s nice to see him face up to his greatest foe so early on. It feels as though we’ve ticked a box, and you can clearly see why it’s an important step on this incarnation’s journey to ‘find himself’.


It’s also a chance for Clara (Jenna Coleman) to continue getting used to this very different man in her life, and she serves as a nice moral compass for him. There’s an introduction for the character of Danny Pink, welcoming Samuel Anderson to the programme, too, which feels as though we’re setting up all the pieces for the next stage of the programme’s life.


There’s little else to say without spoiling the episode for you, so we’ll leave it there, but if you’re a fan of the Daleks, or have been following the Doctor’s conflict with them for a long time, you’ll not be disappointed… 


Five things to look out for:


1) You can always find something to distract you.


2) Is he mad, or is he right?


3) Clara doesn’t know… and neither does the Doctor.


4) It’s a roller-coaster with you lot…


5) Don’t be lasagne.

[Sources: DWO; Will Brooks]

10 August 2014

DWO’s spoiler free preview of Episode 8.1: Deep Breath:


It’s an exciting time for Doctor Who right now, isn’t it? Last year saw the programme celebrate 50 years of adventures in time and space with real flare and style - taking this little show that went out on a Saturday tea time in 1963 and catapulting it into the television schedules around the world. Just a month later, and we watched on as Matt Smith faced down legions of the Doctor’s greatest enemies on the fields of Trenzalore, bursting with regeneration energy, before rushing back to the TARDIS to make his farewells, and setting the wheel in motion all over again.


When Peter Capaldi was announced as the new Doctor a year ago this month, the reaction was almost entirely positive. There were a few cries of anguish that he was going to be considered simply ‘too old’ to be the Doctor… but these cries largely seemed to come from Doctor Who fans who were convinced that the general public simply wouldn’t take to a Doctor in his fifties in this day and age. But on Thursday of last week, Doctor Who Online’s Will Brooks and Nick Mellish were lucky enough to attend the world premiere of Season Eight in Cardiff and we can confirm that the reaction is overwhelmingly positive.


Oh, the crowds! Hoards of screaming fans simply thrilled to see the new Doctor and Clara as they made their way down the red carpet towards the screening. Crowds made up of - yes! - children. And teens. And adults from thirty, through forty, and fifty, and right up to their eighties. Even those who’d clearly been dragged along to the event by a younger relative couldn’t help getting caught up in the thrill and magic of the event. The new Doctor had arrived, and the reaction has never been better.


But enough about all of that! You want to know about the episode itself! I can quite honestly say that sitting in that hall, I have never enjoyed an episode of Doctor Who more. Some of that has to be put down to the sheer atmosphere of the event - a crowd of people who were simply loving this new instalment in their favourite show, and who laughed, and cheered, and cried, and clapped, all at the right moments. I’ll forever associate one particular moment of the episode (and when you watch it, I’m sure you’ll be able to guess which one) with the sound of a packed auditorium simply bursting into cries of elation.


There’s been a lot of talk over the last few months about Series Eight being a ‘darker’ year of Doctor Who, with much more ‘serious’ drama and less comedy involved. I can confirm that the programme certainly has a darker edge to it, often brought in by the reactions of the new Doctor himself, but it doesn’t come at the expense of the lighter moments. Keeping the Paternoster Gang of Vastra, Jenny, and Strax, means that they’re able to help inject some well executed comedy into a story that could otherwise feel a little bit bleak. In the same way that The Christmas Invasion takes the Doctor out of action for a while, allowing the focus to be squarely on Rose and her family, here it’s the Paternosters and Clara who we really want to focus on. They’re one big support group to oversee the arrival of a very different Doctor.


The story itself, while engaging, is really secondary to the characters here. We’re watching to see how each and every one of them reacts to the regeneration, and I came away feeling like everyone had reached a decent point of acceptance about events. Although I say that people accept the change, though, that doesn’t mean that they entirely like it. Having come away from the screening someone asked me what Peter Capaldi was like as the Doctor, and the only answer I could think to give was that “He’s brilliant… but I don’t know if I like him”. That’s clearly the intention here - the Doctor’s not playing at being your best friend, or your boyfriend, or the wacky madman with a box any more. He’s a man who’s spent a long, long, time travelling the stars, and he’s done pretending. I think he’s going to be the incarnation that we all love to hate. But fear not - while I don’t like this Doctor, I do absolutely love him, and Capaldi is clearly born to play the role.


Kick-starting the era with a story directed by a name director like Ben Wheatley really does seem to be setting out stall for what the programme wants to achieve. Doctor Who has never looked more cinematic than this, and if you’ve got the chance, then I’d certainly recommend making the trip to see this story when it’s screened in a cinema. It’s a character piece nicely suited to the small screen, but with beautiful visual sequences simply made to be seen projected onto a cinema screen.


It’s now less than two weeks until Doctor Who returns to the saturday night schedules, for its longest continuous run since 2011. We’ve a fantastic new lead actor, a supporting cast of characters who are turning in stellar performances, and a programme that feels like it’s been given a real shot of adrenaline. Hold on tight - we’re in for a heck of a ride…


Five things to look out for:


1) The Doctor is Scottish now - that means he can complain about things.


2) That’s not a hat… that’s hair. 


3) Where do the Doctor's new faces come from?


4) We don’t get a ‘choosing the new costume’ scene here, but the Doctor does get to test drive several outfits before finding his ‘look’.


5) How long can you hold your breath?


[Sources: DWO, Will Brooks]

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