Forget about may the fourth, May’s all about the Fifth Doctor as our countdown to the 50th anniversary continues!
Tom Baker transformed into Peter Davison (not really, but you know what we mean) in Logopolis in March 1981 but it wasn’t until the following January that his adventures really began. In Castrovalva we met the fresh-faced Doctor in all his cricketing, celery wearing glory. It was business as usual as he tried to avoid destruction within Event One and it was the beginning of a shining new era for the series.
After a particularly problematic regeneration, over his tenure the Fifth Doctor appeared to have a new vulnerable side not present in his predecessors. While the Doctors before him were authoritative in the face of impending doom, this Doctor was more reserved as he often left it to fate to determine the outcome with the flip of a coin. You can’t blame him for his sensitive side – he met some hostile foes such as the Master and the Daleks!
Although Peter’s time in the TARDIS was relatively short Doctor Who has remained a big part of his career, as well as his personal life – his real life daughter Georgia Moffett was The Doctor’s Daughter back in 2008. In 2012, she married Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant too! Talk about keeping it in the family, and we wouldn’t want it any other way…
A special Doctor Who tribute will be shown at this weekend’s BAFTA TV Awards to commemorate its 50th anniversary.
The celebratory video montage celebrating its long history is to be aired at the event, which will be held in London, at the Royal Festival Hall, on Sunday (12th May). As well as that, a pair of Daleks will be patrolling the red carpet to keep the arriving guests in check, while Jenna-Louise Coleman, who’s currently starring in the series as companion Clara, will also be presenting one of the evening’s awards.
Chief Executive of BAFTA, Amanda Berry OBE, commented: “There are only a handful of programmes that have Doctor Who’s ability to put the nation on their sofas, or behind them, year after year. BAFTA raises a toast to the series on its 50th birthday this year.”
“This is a massive and exciting year for Doctor Who so I’m thrilled BAFTA are including a special tribute to the show,” Steven Moffat added. “So thrilled, in fact, we’re sending the Doctor’s best friend, Jenna Coleman, to present an award. We’re also sending his worst enemy, the Daleks, to exterminate lots of innocent people. Sorry, it’s just what they do.”
Don’t miss the BAFTA TV Awards as they are shown on BBC One this Sunday from 8pm!
The Cybermen will be stomping back onto our TV screen on Saturday but before their grand return we want to hear your treasured memories of those motley metal monsters!
From the minds of Gerry Davis and Dr Kit Pedler in 1966 the Doctor first encountered the cyborgs in The Tenth Planet.
Since that moment they’ve been a constant figure in his life, establishing themselves as one of his most feared and, let’s be honest, more persistent of adversaries.
In Nightmare in Silver they’ll be “deadlier” than ever, so just before we take refuge behind our respective sofas, there is just enough time to let us know which of their past confrontations with the Doctor particularly stick out in your mind. Have your say below…
As part of our Fourth Doctor celebrations this month we’re delighted to bring you an interview with John Leeson!
While John’s face might be unfamiliar to you his voice would be instantly recognisable as that of K-9, the Doctor’s loved companion. K-9 made his first appearance in The Invisible Enemy in 1977 and instantly became a hit with fans as K-9 become an invaluable member of the TARDIS team.
Over 3 decades since his debut, K-9 is as popular as ever.
Here, John chats exclusively to us about K-9’s lasting appeal, plus his memories of being on set, proving why K-9 has, over the years, become so much more than a metal dog…
Q. Hi John! Firstly, how and when did your involvement with Doctor Who come about?
A. My involvement with Doctor Who came about entirely accidentally. Back in 1977, I met an old friend, a director I had worked with on tour from Nottingham Playhouse – and elsewhere – at my local pub in Ealing. He had been directing ‘Z-Cars’ for the BBC locally, and ubsequently suggested my name to Who producer Graham Williams. The rest, as they say, is history!
Q. As well as Doctor Who, you’ve had various stage roles and appeared in TV shows including ‘Allo ‘Allo!, Dad’s Army and Rainbow. When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career in acting?
A. My history as an actor must have started in childhood – I WAS an actor! Needless to say I needed training, and I spent a couple of years at RADA alongside some very talented fellow Students. Does the name Anthony Hopkins ring a bell? Subsequently my ‘on the ground’ training was through the medium of character parts in repertory theatre in various places throughout the UK, plus a number of appearances in ‘fringe’ London theatre and in the West End. I cannot overemphasise the importance of experience in theatre work as an essential ground-base for any actor, no matter if all they eventually want to do is TV and film. Voice work sort of happened accidentally.
Q. Your first Doctor Who appearance as K-9 was in 1977. Initially intended as a one-off part, were you pleased to return when it was decided to make K-9 a regular fixture in the TARDIS?
A. The continuance of K-9 following The Invisible Enemy may possibly have been as much a matter of good housekeeping on the part of the BBC as anything else. They had paid a considerable sum to bring the character physically into being, and it was hardly surprising that they wanted to maximise their investment. Needless to say, perhaps, it was gratifying to know that the K-9 character had ‘clicked’ with its audience, so I was happy to continue to play ‘the voice’ while there were scripts that did justice to his character and his usefulness within each storyline. Keeping K-9 fully engaged has always been a problem for writers, as relegating him to the status of yet another ’sonic screwdriver’ to get the Doctor out of trouble had always been a bit of a cop-out.
Q. Could you explain the initial process of devising K-9’s voice/personality? Did you have much say in his design?
A. K-9 was already in the design stage when I came on board, but the ‘module’ didn’t physically appear until the very first studio day, so I had no prior input. Vocally, the idea was to have a voice that was tinny and hard-edged, rather like what you might hear from a very cheap speaker in an equally cheap transistor radio. Given that K-9 was a computer rather than a dog, I simply pitched my own voice to a higher register and ‘clipped’ the dialogue to take as much warmth out of it as possible. Result? I don’t need any ‘artificial aids’ to reproduce the K-9 sound.
Q. As for filming, are you always present on set to read K-9’s lines or are they recorded during post production, or a mixture of the two?
A. Nowadays much of the K-9 voice work is recorded in post-production. A necessary evil, perhaps, as tighter budgets tend to dictate. A shame, as the ‘live’ dynamic that applied to most of the early stories in which K-9 was involved was beneficial to the sense of interaction between the characters. Part of the reason, I dare suggest, that the character stayed so long in the ‘classic’ era of Doctor Who.
Q. Were you surprised by how successful K-9 became with audiences and what would you say are the factors that contribute to his ongoing popularity?
A. Surprised? I’ll say so! Particularly as the character was such a pedantic ‘know-it-all’, and kept breaking down! Reasons for K-9’s popularity? I’m never sure, but I guess it must be an amalgam of the British love for dogs (not that he’s a dog), and his loyalty to the Doctor or the companions – added to which, his perky if slightly irritating personality. He’s a bit of ‘grit’ in the Doctor’s ‘oyster’, perhaps!
Q. K-9’s popularity has led him to star in various spin off and tie-in shows over the years. What has it been like to explore the character across these different platforms?
A. The spin-offs and tie-ins have been such a surprise too, another endorsement of his popularity. He still maintains the same characteristics throughout, although in the series ‘K9′ he appears in a much more updated form. Audio spin-offs from BIG Finish and BBC AudioGO have been a great success too. Purely in sound there’s no physical limit to his capabilities, either. Such a bonus!
Q. What have been your experiences of meeting Doctor Who fans?
A. Were it not for the fans, I wonder if we’d even be celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who this year. I speak to you having just returned from a three-city convention tour of Australia where the fan base is tremendously enthusiastic. K-9 always appealed to the younger elements of the audience, many of them now having grown up with children of their own, so it has been an added privilege to me to see a generational continuance of support both for the series as a whole and for the robotic character I played.
Q. Have you got any funny stories from filming you can share, for example, has K-9 ever found himself in any spots of bother?
A. Here’s a cue, if anything, for a ‘plug’ for my revised autobiography “Tweaking the Tail” which comes out this summer from Fantom Publishing (alongside my collected recipe book “Dog’s Dinners”… corny title, sorry!). There are K-9 stories aplenty, and much else about my uniquely varied life besides. I may even read it myself!
Q. As you mentioned this year marks the 50th anniversary of the series, could you tell us if K-9 will be involved in the celebrations at all?
A. When it comes to K-9’s involvement with anything, whether it be further involvement in storylines, or public appearances, or even the 50th anniversary celebrations, I am always the last to be told! I do know, however, that the BBC are working on how best to celebrate this very significant milestone in the history of the series, and maybe one day they may be so kind as to let me in on their secret! Then we’ll all know.
We would like to say a huge thanks to John for taking time out to answer our questions!
The BBC has sent us the full details and images of the new Regeneration DVD boxset which will be released this June.
A limited edition ‘coffee table book-styled collector’s album’, the beautifully packaged 6 disc set features over 1000 hours of Doctor Who stories. For the first time each of the Doctor’s regeneration adventures are brought together in the show’s 50th anniversary year – including the First Doctor’s final, and partially missing serial The Tenth Planet which has been restored and brought to life using stunning animation.
Above – Adorned with superb photography, the 6 disc set brings together The Tenth Planet, The War Games, Planet of the Spiders, Logopolis, The Caves of Androzani, Time and the Rani, The Movie, Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways and The End of Time.
The BBC’s replica of the Fourth Doctor’s scarf is on sale now and the company behind it Lovarzi have kindly sent us one to review!
The first thing to say about this scarf is its striking likeness to the original – as worn by Tom Baker throughout his Time Lord era the multi-coloured accessory has arguably become as iconic as the TARDIS and Daleks. It’s surprising it’s taken so long for this official replica to surface, but when better to bring it to fruition than in the show’s 50th year?
If you’re eager to expand your merchandise collections whilst celebrating the Doctors of time gone by then this scarf should definitely be added to your ever growing caboodle of timey wimey goodies. At 13ft (3.9 metres) in length it’s definitely value for money as the piece of the Fourth Doctor’s attire makes a welcome addition to any Whovian wardrobe.
Perfect for those cold autumn afternoon walks, your own cosplaying adventures or just to keep as a commemorative collectible, the Fourth Doctor’s replica scarf makes a great gift for any Doctor devotee, ensuring you’ll always have a part of the Doctor with you, everywhere you go! All you need now is a packet of jelly babies to complete the image…
Win a Fourth Doctor scarf: As part of our Fourth Doctor festivities this April, we are giving away one Fourth Doctor scarf. For your chance to win it simply enter the question below. The winner will be contacted on Tuesday 30th April. Best of luck to all entrees!
Sorry, this competition is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered!
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
Paul McGann’s admitted he hasn’t yet been invited back for the 50th special, noting “it’s not quite the anniversary yet”.
The actor, who played the Eighth Doctor in the 1996 movie, told ZBTV that he and his fellow former Time Lords from the Classic Series are still waiting to find out if they’ll be needed in the 3D episode, which is currently being filmed. “Knowing the industry as I do, they’ll call us on the Friday and say we are going in on the Monday,” he suggested. “That is always how it is. So we won’t know until the eleventh hour.”
He also commented on the ongoing will he won’t he speculation surrounding Christopher Eccleston’s involvement, referring to a report on Digital Spy which suggested Chris had “decided not to be in the episode” after a meeting with Steven Moffat. Paul said: “I don’t want to speak for him, but he might be reluctant to get involved in anything so ongoing.”
The Telegraph has a new interview with Carole Ann Ford in which she reflects on her Doctor Who experiences.
The actress played the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan when it began in 1963 and she remembers how the show became “instant madness” after its debut. “There was nothing else like it,” she explained. “We could go anywhere and we gave great cliffhangers. It was like being a pop star. I couldn’t go down the street for a bottle of milk any more.” She left in 1964, admitting the role “had become so repetitive”.
She continued: “Most of the time the Doctor and Susan arrived somewhere, she was told not to get into danger, she got out of danger then they flew off again. In the meantime, I was seeing visiting actors do really interesting stuff. When I left I was filled with… not loathing, but I was incredibly annoyed because I wanted to do more television and films. The only thing people ever saw me in was a recreation of what I’d done. A Susan clone.”
As Doctor Who’s 50th year flies by (it’ll be November before we know it!), it’s time to go fourth with Doctor #4.
Tom Baker took over the TARDIS circa 1974, after the Third Doctor’s fatal exposure to radiation poison in Planet of the Spiders. With a name like that he was asking for trouble as the latest Time Lord took it in his stride starting as he meant to go on. Eager to explore, Tom Baker’s whimsical and often unpredictable multi-coloured scarf wearing incarnation is the longest standing to date.
Never short of a jelly baby or two the Fourth Doctor encountered the Daleks, the Master, the Zygons (they’re coming back y’know?) and countless other iconic foes over his 7 epic years at the helm of the TARDIS. With loyal friends, such as Sarah Jane, K-9 and Romana, at his side, the Fourth Doctor’s eccentric style established a strong fanbase and cultural presence as the show continued to go from strength to strength. In fact his 1979 adventure City of Death holds the title of being the most watched Doctor Who story in its 50 year history as 16 million tuned in to see its final instalment on 20th October 1979!
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