Week Three of the lockdown and, in their own strange way, Doctor Who fandom have never been closer
It’s week three of a very different type of Doctor Who adventure. And like children sitting rapt in from of the telly during the 20th century, we have no idea how many weeks it will last. Is it a four parter? A six or seven parter? Surely not… a twelve parter? Traditionally, Part Three is a bit of a run around. One with an additional complication suddenly thrown into the mix in order to keep the plot going. So how does Part Three of Lockdown measure up to that?
Free War Doctor from Big Finish’s #Lockdownload
Big Finish Productions are one of the oldest grass roots success stories in Doctor Who fan history. They started out as fans themselves, recording new adventures for the Doctor for the amusement of anyone who would listen. And Nicholas Briggs and co have never lost sight of giving back to the fandom that made them a success. So it’s no surprise they’re stepping up to do their bit to help keep fans in lockdown together. Blogtor Who reported a couple of weeks ago how they were using Zoom and other technologies to keep recording. All while also keeping their valued cast and crew safe from Covid-19.
But on Monday they added a new strand, termed #Lockdownload. It’s a new effort to help fans whose need for more audio distractions than ever before might outstrip their budget. Every week a different adventure will be completely free from the Big Finish website, with 50% a related range or boxset. #Lockdownload launched with Doctor Who: The Innocent, starring Sir John Hurt as the War Doctor. There was also get 50% off other War Doctor adventures, and the bundle of The War Doctor volumes 1-4. Blogtor Who will keep you updated with the new offers every week.
The Terror of the Umpty Tums by Steven Moffat
Doctor Who fandom is nothing without its traditions. And in its true style, the near global lockdown in the face of the pandemic is creating its own traditions. One of those is new prose fiction by top professional names, and this week has been no different. Steven Moffat returned again on Tuesday, this time to write the Thirteenth Doctor. In classic Moffat fashion, its brief word count is fiendishly cunning and emotionally heartfelt, while encapsulating deep truths about Doctor Who itself.
Lockdown Message from the Doctor #2
The Thirteenth Doctor was also on hand to lend support to fans and children with a second special message. This time the specially filmed video filmed in lockdown by Jodie Whittaker gave advice on tactics for getting through isolation. As we all stay stronger together only, you know, apart.
"Stay strong, stay positive. You're amazing".
— BBC (@BBC) April 9, 2020
Time-Space Visualizer: Cyber-Saturday
Fantom Events held another of their virtual conventions, this time with a Cyberman theme. Guests included Cyberman actors Gregg Palmer (The Tenth Planet), Matt Doman and Matthew Rohman (The Doctor Falls, Ascension of the Cybermen/The Timeless Children), James Warwick (Scott in Earthshock) and Clare Clifford (Kyle in Earthshock) and David Banks (Cyberleader in Earthshock, The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen and Silver Nemesis).
The event also streamed archive interviews with Kevin Clarke (writer of Silver Nemesis), Kevin Hudson (key costumer on fan series Doctor Who: The Forgotten Doctor), Adam Sweet (monster performer at the BBC Proms) and Daz Parker (stuntman in The Time of the Doctor). The Fantom Events Tomb of the Cybermen panel from 2011, reuniting Deborah Watling (Victoria), Clive Merrison (Jim Callum) and Bernard Holley (Peter Hayden), was also streamed for fans.
Rory’s Story by Neil Gaiman
The treats and surprises for the #DoctorWhoLockdown series produced by Doctor Who Magazine’s Emily Cook continued on Saturday too. Showing the best of humanity in true Doctorish style, a global team united New Zealand, the UK and America. Together they put together a new video message from Rory Williams. With a new script from Neil Gaiman, music by Blair Mowat (based on a theme by Murray Gold), Arthur Darvill as Rory returned for one night only to introduce The Doctor’s Wife, all the way from 1946 New York.
Of course, that was an introduction for the #BiggerOnTheInside live tweet event. Writer Neil Gaiman ( @neilhimself ), director Richard Clarke (@rclarkie) and star Michael Sheen (@michaelsheen ) teamed up for the event. For an hour or so they offered insights and banter about the making of 2011 episode. Gaiman even took the time to track down and share pages from his earlier drafts of the script revealing which scenes that didn’t make the final cut. We also found out just why that Blue Peter design-a-TARDIS competition was held in the first place…
For all the tweets collected in one place, plus the best fan contributions and Blogtor Who’s own selection of trivia and observations, you can check out our own Twitter feed:
The Quiz of Rassilon Goes Global
Sunday saw a night of hilarious madness, chaos and fun. The long running Doctor Who themed pub quiz The Quiz of Rassilon went online for a special Zoom powered edition to beat the lockdown. Rounds of questions included Pip Madeley’s fantastically silly AnswerSmash (Tim Shawshank Redemption, anyone?), Edward Russell’s fiendish music round, and the deadpan delights of the Evil of the Daleks trivia round by Terry Nation Army’s Gav. All the usual Quiz of Rassilon greatness, now with added Zoom background brilliance. (Blogtor Who noticed people taking part from Romana’s bedroom, the Cyber-tombs of Telos and Ianto’s shrine among many others). Plus Blu-ray brainiac Chris Chapman was on hand, too, to lead a round about Blu-ray and DVD extras.
In sadder news, as the pandemic continues and spreads, it will touch more and more of our lives with tragedy. The Doctor Who community of fans and professionals is no different, unfortunately. And this week two great stars with connections to the show lost their lives to the virus. Honor Blackman (1925-2020) will be best known for her roles as Cathy Gale in iconic British spy show The Avengers, and as one of the stars of one of the all time great Bond films – 1964’s Goldfinger. She redefined both types of role in her own image. In The Avengers Mrs. Gale was no mere ‘girl assistant’ figure, but a tough, resourceful and cool headed force of nature. One more often called upon to pull her partner John Steed out of danger than the other way around. While her Pussy Galore was the prototype for a particular sort of Bond girl – the woman as tough as Bond himself, and determined to be unimpressed by him, as he strives to make her think his arms worthy to fall into as the credits roll.
To Doctor Who fans she was also Professor Lasky in 1986’s The Trial of a Time Lord. There she was again magnificently arch in the degree of shade she threw Colin Baker’s Doctor, but this time without any rolls in the hay, literal or otherwise.
Tim Brooke-Taylor (1940-2020), meanwhile, appeared in the Big Finish audio adventure The Zygon Who Fell to Earth. As Mims the Zygon, he got to have the full Doctor Who villain experience, complete with gurgling threats of world domination. But to millions he was one third of comic geniuses The Goodies, and as one of the resident panelists for almost fifty years of I’m Sorry, I Haven’t Got a Clue (officially the funniest show on radio).
The live tweets continue on Tuesday with #HellOfABird featuring writer Steven Moffat, director Rachel Talalay and Jami Reid-Quarrell (The Veil) for 2015’s Heaven Sent.