Another sell out, packed house (not to mention those queuing for hours for return tickets), the BFI’s celebration of the Seventh Doctor era on the London’s Southbank was greeted by a hugely appreciative audience.
Before the first ep of the classic 1988 four-parter featuring the mad little bastards from Skaro, we were treated to the surprise of a John Leeson appearance and interview to kick off the day. As voice of the Battle Computer in Remembrance of the Daleks (which was news to me, it has to be said!), Leeson is, of course, better known as the voice of K9. The actor made for a wonderful guest with his endearing humour and soothing voice (and even delved into some tin dog antics for us). To cap it off, the big screen showed the opening title sequence to the charming Doctor Who spin-off, K9 & Company. The audience’s delight was palpable and was applauded warmly and with great humour.
The episodes of Remembrance looked surprisingly good on the big screen, in terms of picture quality. Given that it was first broadcast twenty-five years ago or so and shot on video, as opposed to the flashy HD we have now, it looked grand and even exciting in the cinema theatre.
It’s a cracking old yarn and despite a great number of very wobbly and shakey Dalek action (and the odd wobbly and shakey performance too) it was a real pleasure sitting down to watch it with a few hundred fellow fans. I’m not a particular admirer of the Seventh Doctor era and it had been approximately eight years since I’d last watched the story – so it was an almost fresh watch. The gathered crowd were hugely engaged with applause for Michael Sheard’s appearance and also the Special Weapons Dalek (and many laughs and guffaws at the numerous gags throughout).
In between some eps more guests were brought out for our delectation and deliberation. Legendary special effects guru Mike Tucker, who has worked on the show in both pre- and post-2005 (most recently on Cold War and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special) chatted enthusiastically about his rise from teen fan making films at home to actually working on the show he loved so much. A heart-warming interlude. Similarly, Dick Mills of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was brought on to a rousing reception, and chatted expertly about his time on the show. Again, another fascinating interview with a man whose legacy and output will be long remembered.
The full panel Q&A afterthe story was screened could not have been much better in terms of guests for the era (though Bonnie Langford and Andrew Cartmel did send their apologies for not being present). Remembrance writer Ben Aaronovitch (and also Battlefield) was joined by Sophie Aldred (Ace) and Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor) and the onscreen chemistry between the pair was evident as ever in person as they fondly remembered their years together.
A particular highlight was hearing McCoy discuss his time filming the 1996 Paul McGann television movie (screening at the BFI in October), comparing his luxurious conditions and treatment in North America with the less than favourable ones he experienced at the BBC.
Another top event from the BFI who pull out all the stops for these Doctor Who screenings, bringing in fantastic guests with wonderful stories and love to share. Their time on the show might have been comparatively small, but Sylvester and Sophie’s remembrance looms large.