All the news and links from last week, as lockdown enters double digits…
In many parts of the world, the restrictions put in place to control Covid-19 are finally beginning to ease. So as life begins to return to something at least a little bit like normal for many of us, it signals the end is also in sight for some of the measures Doctor Who fandom put in place to help each other through lockdown. But perhaps just another couple of weeks…
The Lockdown Who tweetalongs continued last week with a rewatch of 2013’s The Rings of Akhaten. An appropriate choice, given its themes on the power of possibility and hope, it was accompanied by live tweets from composer Murray Gold, director Farren Blackburn, and Millennium FX’s Kate Walshe. Highlights of the evening included rare insights reflections from Gold, who worked on Doctor Who from its return in 2005 until 2017, and a host of new behind the scenes photos from Walshe showing the masks and prosthetics in detail.
The Long Song
The showing of The Rings of Akhaten was also in support of one of the most ambitious lockdown projects yet. The Long Song from the episode was recreated by a virtual choir of over three hundred Doctor Who fans, arranged and edited by the talented Borna Matosic into one celebration of memory and hope. The result was both haunting and rousing, and a musical summing up of everything great about Who fandom’s reaction to the pandemic.
But there was not one, but two Lockdown tweetalongs last week. Russell T Davies returned one last time to share his wit, humour, and memories of making both New Earth and Gridlock. For the timely tales of deadly viruses, fortitude in isolation, and ethical dilemmas, he was joined by Anna Hope (Novice Hame) and directors Richard Clarke and James Hawes.
The Secret of Novice Hame
Davies’ final lockdown gift to fans took the form of a coda in the increasingly inaccurately titled Year Five Billion Trilogy. Anna Hope returned once more as a Hame herself now ancient and dying, with one last secret of her own. A secret to be told to one man alone – the Doctor. Perhaps there’s no more worthy capstone to producer Emily Cook’s efforts during the lockdown than tempting David Tennant himself back into harness as the Doctor to take part.
But it wasn’t all about more recent seasons. Fan Ellie ‘TardisMonkey’ Collins took us back to 1996 for a celebration of the TV movie starring Paul McGann. There may not have been any celebrity live tweeters, but perhaps that makes it all the sweeter as dozens of fans came together to watch Doctor Who together and chat about their love of it, including some seeing it for the very first time.
Time Space Visualiser: The Wilderness Years and Beyond
Fantom Films held the penultimate of their virtual conventions, this time focusing on how fandom weathered the years after the 1989 cancellation, and Doctor Who’s ultimate triumphant return. Guests included producer Phil Collinson, who helped shepherd the show through the Eccleston and Tennant eras, as well as Keith Boak, the first director to work on the revival and her giving a relatively rare interview on Doctor Who.
Meanwhile we also heard from Big Finish’s Jason Haigh-Ellery on the early days of the company, when they were establishing a new path forward in the absence of the show on TV. and there were contributions by Kevin Jon Davies on the 1993 celebratory documentary 30 Years in the TARDIS, and Phil Newman about Dimensions in Time. The Review of Death asked if Dimensions in Time really counts as a proper Doctor Who story, while Miles Richardson and Beverley Cressman discussed the unofficial spin-off video Downtime which in 1995 saw Nicholas Courtney’s Brigadier team up with Deborah Watling’s Victoria for a rematch with the dreaded Yeti.
You can still catch up with all the action on Fantom’s YouTube channel.
Staying in the TARDIS
Finally, the BBC official page continued Staying in the TARDIS. This week’s challenge was to design your own TARDIS console room. While free content from the archive included a downloadable comic book starring the Fourth Doctor, a Thirteenth Doctor colouring page, and a range of puzzles, quizzes, and short stories. Plus a TARDIS that could be printed out and folded to make your own Police Box toy!
Matt Lucas and Pearl Mackie return as Nardole and Bill for a very special Lockdown Who extra. Plus there’s an epic #DoctorWhoBlackout rewatch of four episodes in a single day – Thin Ice, Knock Knock, The Ghost Monument, and The Haunting of Villa Diodati. And also free Big Finish, creating your own alien planet with Staying in the TARDIS and the final Time Space Visualiser virtual convention. And another colossal Quiz of Rassilon to bedevil your wits and tickle your funny bone.