ALL the Doctors assemble to mark Doctor Who’s half anniversary in a very special week in lockdown
For many, life in lockdown includes marking off the slow procession of time any way you can. It’s no different in Doctor Who land and there’s probably rarely been as much fuss made over a half birthday as there was this week. That’s right, last Saturday was Doctor Who’s 56th-and-a-half anniversary. And the occasion was marked in proper Lockdown Who style.
Firstly, it wouldn’t be a Doctor Who party without a multi-Doctor event. And Doctors Assemble was the most ambitious yet, in its own way. Because it had fourteen different Doctor uniting to save the TARDIS and the world! Thanks to the telepathic circuit equivalent of a Zoom call, all the Doctors came together for a good old fashioned bicker. Plus cat pictures. And the one that doesn’t know how to work this newfangled business at all. Assembled by Emily Cook, and edited and directed by Big Finish pros like Scott Handcock, the cast may have only included one (more or less) genuine Doctor. But the replacements were second only to the real deal.
David Bradley (the First), Chris Walker-Thompson (the Second), Jon Culshaw (the Third, Fourth and Fifth), Angus Villiers-Stuart (the Sixth and Eighth), Wink Taylor (the Seventh), Jonathan Carley (the War Doctor and the Twelfth), Pete Walsh (the Ninth), Elliot Crossley (the Tenth), Jacob Dudman (the Eleventh), and Debra Stephenson (the Thirteenth) all put their best vocal cords forward to hilarious effect. While James Goss’ sparkling script and the sight gags of Andrew-Mark Thompson’s profile pictures for the Time Lords (“NO MORE” toilet paper!) made for a fun 15 minute short in some ways better than the real thing.
Saturday also saw the half-anniversary marked with the latest Doctor Who live-tweet. Appropriately, this time the focus was on the 50th Anniversary docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time. On hand to comment on the recreation of the show’s earliest steps during the era of William Hartnell (David Bradley) as the Doctor were writer Mark Gatiss and star Sacha Dhawan, who played Who’s first ever director, Warris Hussein in the piece. Gatiss’ combination of being both the creator of the project, and a full paid up fan meant he had a wealth of obscure trivia and facts at his command to share, both about An Adventure in Space and Time and the events it depicted. While Dhawan’s enthusiasm for his place in the Doctor Who universe, then and since, shone through as he shared his private on set photos from filming.
Staying in the TARDIS
The BBC’s own Staying in the TARDIS strand continued this week too. The challenge put forward for fans this week was to design your own monster. A tradition going back to the days of Patrick Troughton judging children’s entries to Blue Peter, or the creation of the Absorbaloff for Love & Monsters, now with a lockdown spin. Also on offer was a free download of the Third Doctor short story Scorched Earth, read by Master actor Geoffrey Beevers.
And the BBC Books archive gave up more of its secrets for free printables this week too. Included were a challenge to find the Doctor, Amy and Rory among a planet of Sontarans (from Where’s the Doctor?), a Twelfth Doctor themed word search (from Are You as Clever as a Time Lord?), a Cold War inspired Ice Warrior colouring page (from Doctor Who: The Colouring Book), and a Cyberman join-the-dots challenge (from Doctor Who: Dot to Doc).
You can access all these goodies from the official Staying in the TARDIS page
Big Finish Lockdownload
There was further free audio adventure from Big Finish too. The new Lockdownload freebie was the complete full cast audio drama Doctor Who: The Great War. Taken from the first Dark Eyes boxset, it features the Doctor (Paul McGann) at a turning point in his life following a series of devastating losses. But the universe never gives him a day off and soon he’s teaming up with a new friend in the form of WWI nurse Molly O’Sullivan (Ruth Bradley) to solve the most deadly possible mystery. Why are there Daleks in the trenches?
The Unsung Heroes of Doctor Who
Fantom Films continued to do their bit this week to keep the flame of fandom not just alive but burning bright. This week they launched a new range of YouTube videos dedicated to those without whom the series wouldn’t be what it is today, but who perhaps don’t always receive enough attention. The strand launched with an epic two hour celebration of such figures. Subjects included Lee Sheward (stunt co-ordinator for Doctor Who and Torchwood); Shaunna Harrison (make-up for Terror of the Vervoids, The Ultimate Foe and Paradise Towers); Philip Brown (the Seventh Doctor’s body double in The Day of the Doctor) and Gareth Milne (George Cranleigh in Black Orchid, and stuntman in Warriors of the Deep, The Caves of Androzani and Vengeance on Varos).
And you can still see the entire event at their YouTube channel here:
Quiz of Rassilon
There was another session of the Quiz of Rassilon on Sunday evening too. This time there were rounds on music, with Radiophonic Maestro Mark Ayers, and more Teddy’s Tunes with Edward Russell. Plus rounds on The Fires of Pompeii and Remembrance of the Daleks.
It’s the debut of the Long Song by a virtual choir of three hundred Doctor Who fans! And, to go with it, a lockdown live tweet of The Rings of Akhaten with tweets by legendary composer Murray Gold, director Farren Blackburn and Millennium FX’s Kate Walshe – the woman behind some of Doctor Who’s most striking monsters. Plus a fan rewatch of the 1996 TV movie, more free content from Big Finish and Staying in the TARDIS, and more unsung heroes are given the spotlight by Fantom.