Having attended a number of these brilliant screenings at the BFI, I was still quite surprised to see just how popular this particular event was. For the first time, the queue for “return tickets” was out the door and the autograph-hunter queue was also astronomically huge. Mind you, it was David Tennant and Catherine Tate – two of Doctor Who‘s best loved actors and arguably best Doctor/companion double act to date.
And I’d forgotten just how much I loved The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End. Although it doesn’t feature in my ongoing Top 50 Doctor Who Stories countdown, this two-parter from 2008 really was the perfect choice for the Tennant era. The first part has all the fun, excitement and typical Russell T Davies thrills, whilst the second part is much darker in places, notably Davros and his reality bomb shenanigans and, of course, the heart-breaking send-off for Chiswick’s finest, Donna Noble.
If ever there was a celebration of RTD and the Tenth Doctor, this was it. And I don’t mind admitting that old Blogtor was welling up for most of the story with a few tears shed at the denouement. Such an invigorating, heartfelt and exciting slice of Doctor Who you will not find. A great reminder of the times.
Outwith the screening, a note from Russell T Davies was read giving his apologies for his absence (he was presenting former Who producer Julie Gardner with an award at BATFA Cymru) whilst casting guru Andy Pryor was interviewed between episodes, giving valuable insight from his experiences on the show.
The main Q&A panel consisted of David Tennant, Catherine Tate, director Graeme Harper, and former producer Phil Collinson but, to be frank, I would have been happy just to hear Tennant and Tate blab away for half-an-hour or so. Both Phil and Graeme, though fantastic contributors, had already appeared at previous Doctor Who BFI screenings but thankfully they were happy to let the two leads claim the limelight.
Seeing the two together always raises a warm smile and they didn’t disappoint with Catherine doing her usual hilarious “ignorant-of Doctor Who” schtick much to the delight of the packed audience. The beautiful comedienne also revealed that whilst working at BBC offices in America she thought that Who fans had triggered a bomb threat after the announcement of Peter Capaldi as The Twelfth Doctor (turned out to be related to President Obama being in the area).
Tennant also got in on the laughs by jokingly stating that Capaldi using his own Scottish accent was just “lazy”, amusingly having a go at fans who don’t like change and also having some light-hearted jabs at Matt Smith. He was on top form and also regaled the audience with the night that RTD and Julie Gardner invited him over to watch two episodes from Doctor Who Series One (Rose and Dalek, fact fans), some time before broadcast, in which they relayed to the future Time Lord that Eccleston was leaving and they were looking for a new Doctor Who – him. I hadn’t heard the story quite like that before so it proved to be a nice little nugget and David laughed that he didn’t want to be the guy who played The Doctor for twenty seconds or so going on about teeth if it didn’t get renewed.
Despite RTD’s absence, his letter and a very endearing tribute from David did remind us that Davies’ input and imagination was very much present. Although billed as a celebration of The Tenth Doctor, the two are synonymous, and a better way to celebrate the era I cannot think. And, judging by the overwhelming reaction from the audience, I guess I wasn’t the only one.
BLOGTOR RATING 10/10