BlogtorWho returned to one of our favourite places, the BFI Southbank, this past weekend for another Doctor Who screening. To celebrate the release of Season 20 in The Collection range a series of guests enjoyed ‘The Five Doctors’ on the big screen.

Once again our hosts in NFT1 were Justin Johnson and Dick Fiddy who got the ball rolling with a quiz before introducing to the stage Designer for ‘The Five DoctorsMalcolm Thornton. As with most BBC designers of the time he highlighted the reliance on gaffer tape and how designers would visit other studios to see what sets or bits of sets could be reused to save on the budget. Of course the opportunity to watch the feature length special on the big screen in high definition would highlight any tape hiding the sins of designers. Fortunately, no issues were visible to this particular viewer.

The Five Doctors @ BFI Southbank – Justin Johnson, Dick Fiddy and designer Malcolm Thornton (c) Bedwyr Gullidge

Also invited on stage was Niel Bushnell who has provided the updated special effects for the new 40th Anniversary edition of ‘The Five Doctors’. Once again, the time scoop effects have been tweaked again with some more additions to the Raston Warrior Robot and Dalek sequences. It made us all eager to rewatch this updated version of the anniversary special.

The Five Doctors

Watching Doctor Who on a big screen with an audience, sharing that communal experience, is always a thrill. We cheered with the “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” line, laughed and we all delivered the “No, not the mind probe” line together. ‘The Five Doctors‘ is probably the perfect anniversary special. So far at least. The chance to watch it on a big screen, with fellow fans was an absolute delight!

Those updated special effects also worked well and complemented the piece rather than distracted. The obelisk has been upgraded from the walnut whip and now leaves behind an indentation on the ground below which is a nice touch. Overall though Terrance Dicks did a wonderful job at balancing so many elements. If any incarnation of the Doctor takes centre stage it is rightly the current incumbent, Fifth Doctor Peter Davison. Whilst it is a shame that their collective time together is limited, this decision allows them all to shine and have their moment.

The Five Doctors @ BFI Southbank – Dick Fiddy, Mark Hardy and David Banks (c) Bedwyr Gullidge

Special Guests

Following ‘The Five Doctors’ Cybermen actors David Banks and Mark Hardy joined Dick Fiddy on stage to recall their memories of making the special episode. They had fond memories of the organisational skills of director Peter Moffat and explained some of the issues with the Cybermen costumes. Strangely it was the social element of filming in North Wales which resonated with both actors most of all.

To tie in with the release of the Season 20 box set we were treated to some previews of the special features plus the unique promotional trailer ‘The Passenger’ starring Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa). The audience were in hysterics watching Peter, Janet and Sarah trying to navigate through Northern Europe in ‘Look Who’s Driving’. Further clips were also provided from ‘When Janet met Martin’, ‘Let’s go Dutch’ and ‘Making the King’s Demons’. All of this new material looks wonderful and certainly whetted the appetite for the new box set.

The Five Doctors @ BFI Southbank – Justin Johnson, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Peter Davison (c) Bedwyr Gullidge

Finally Justin Johnson was joined on stage by Fifth Doctor Peter Davison and companions Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton. They of course discussed ‘The Five Doctors‘ which Sarah Sutton had never seen! Other topics for conversation included the Celebration at Longleat in 1983, working life after Doctor Who and ‘Iailer. The audience then joined in a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for Janet Fielding, following a recent milestone. Many happy returns Janet!

Post-screening events

Following the main festivities in NFT1 a signing took place with long queues to meet the collection of actors. As has become traditional The Quiz of Rassilon was hosted whilst friends old and new mixed over drinks. Rounds were provided by Pip Madeley, Christel Dee, Beth Axford, Black Tardis, Bedwyr Gullidge and Tegan (no, not that one!). Socialising continued into the evening and as you’ll no doubt have seen from social media everyone had a great time, demonstrating why these events are so popular.

The Quiz of Rassilon @ BFI Southbank (c) Bedwyr Gullidge

Once again this event was a wonderful day and BlogtorWho would like to extend our thanks to the BFI for their hospitality. A screening of ‘The Underwater Menace‘ animation follows next month.

Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 20 is available to buy now from AmazonHMV and other retailers.


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