Archive for ‘Martha Draycott’
October 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

The Doctor and Clara meet Robin Hood and save the world from the evil Sherriff of Nottingham. This is ‘Robot of Sherwood’ basically summed up in one sentence and I mean that as a wholehearted compliment as opposed to a criticism. Whilst watching first-hand Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Tom Riley and Ben Miller filming this episode at Caerphilly Castle in April (the dream of watching the actual filming process being one that I had possessed for 9 years) I had no idea how much I would love it. This episode was beautifully simple, hilariously funny and jam-packed with every possible cliché you can think of in connection with this timeless tale; the Doctor asking Robin Hood constantly what he was laughing at was enough to keep the audience entertained all night! I suppose this comic approach is the marmite of the Whoniverse; some people love it, some hate it and believe that viewers should be forced to hide ‘behind the sofa’ by truly terrifying monsters week in, week out. I happen to belong to the former half of the fan base who feels that every series should have tears, laughs and screams in almost equal measure, something that series 8 is delivering on so far with Peter Capaldi’s natural talent for both comedy and drama.

The real quality of this episode lies in its magic; from start to finish, there was an element of childish fairy tale about it. The main reason for this, perhaps, is that we met the infamous legend through the eyes of Clara who, as we learn, had been captivated by his story since she was a child herself (which, on a side note, offered us a much-welcomed insight into the softer side of this companion – something that has been obtained in every episode of the new series so far and long may it continue). As I mentioned briefly before, this episode wasn’t afraid of making use of the stereotypical features of this piece of folklore, from the panto-like ‘merriness’ of Hood’s ‘merry men’ to the climactic scene which saw Robin, The Doctor and Clara save the day with a humble bow and arrow. It was as if the pages of every tale had been bought to life exactly as they were, without the seriousness of reality impinging upon them, because, in the end, why should Doctor Who need to be ‘realistic’ at all? (As Robin himself says ‘history is a burden. Stories make us fly.’) For 45 minutes, we were placed in a world where a belief in fairy tales and superheroes was completely justified. For 45 minutes we were all children again. The enchanting qualities of this episode didn’t end there either. The Doctor was portrayed by Gatiss exactly as the Doctor should always be portrayed – as a legend woven throughout our culture and responsible for instilling hope into children and adults alike. In this way, (and as much as the twelfth Doctor might hate it) the two men are virtually one and the same. The Doctor professes to Robin that he is ‘not a hero’ to which Robin replies ‘well, neither am I. But if we both keep pretending to be, perhaps others will be heroes in our name. Perhaps we will both be stories. And may those stories never end’. It is this quote, written so beautifully, that makes it dawn on all of us – the Doctor is our fairy tale, real or not, and like Clara he is our hero.

Gatiss is lucky that the comedy between Robin and The Doctor and the captivating magic of this episode worked so well because the monster, it has to be said, was definitely not forcing anyone behind their sofa. As I’ve previously stated, this is not a big issue with me if the episode fulfils other purposes but when reviewing this story it has to be mentioned. Although it was an interesting spin to attribute the Sheriff of Nottingham’s evil actions to alien motives (he was stealing gold in order to fuel an alien ship and eventually reign over the world), the ingenuity in the monster stakes stopped there I’m afraid. The robot knights were not featured quite enough to be classed as the main monster of the story and the Sheriff simply wasn’t scary enough. In this respect, I suppose the episode was lacking the presence of real edge-of-your-seat threat and suspense which I don’t doubt Gatiss could have achieved had he put his mind to it. Perhaps this was not Gatiss’ intention though and perhaps this is a good thing. After all, could the same entertaining and light-hearted tone be created if there was real peril and sinister motive to darken it? Of course not! One thing that absolutely must never be forgotten is that Doctor Who is ultimately a family show and I don’t believe any family could be disappointed with the spectacular bonanza that we were given in this episode. Non-stop fun from beginning to end with a warm, heartfelt, RTD-esque ending between Marian and Robin Hood – superb!

When deciding which episode to review, I of course considered the more prominent episodes, perhaps, of the brand new series – ‘Deep Breath’, ‘Into the Dalek’, ‘Listen’ etc. I love these episodes and was in love with them from the first time I saw them and to write about their endless qualities would be an absolute joy. I didn’t choose any of these, however, because as innovative and wonderful as they all are, none sum up ‘Doctor Who’ more accurately than Gatiss’ latest contribution. A pleasure to watch, which satisfied me A LOT more than his most recent efforts ‘Cold War’ and ‘Crimson Horror’, this story had real heart to it. As we all know, Doctor Who lives outside of its 45 minute slot every Saturday; it creates a world of its own and becomes an all-consuming way of life for those who are truly captivated by its charm. Again, as Robin rightly said ‘history is a burden. Stories make us fly.’ This episode heralded hope over despair, legend over reality and good over evil. What better lesson would the Doctor want us to learn for our everyday life? Thank you, Mark Gatiss, for reminding us all of it.

September 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

Every Whovian has favourites; a favourite Doctor, a favourite companion, even a favourite sonic screwdriver. After all, a show spanning 51 years with 12 different leading men is bound to create different eras and categorise viewers, just take the classic ‘Who’s your Doctor?’ debate for instance. But, perhaps more important than the Doctor or companion is the show runner – the writer who moulds and shapes the characters we love and oversees the many adventures of the Doctor. And they’re no longer merely a name at the start and end of each episode, but instead they are at the forefront of all things ‘Who’. With this in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising that one of the most persistent and divisive debates amongst fans concerns Russell T. Davies (2005-2010) and Steven Moffat (2010-present) in a ‘Who wrote it better?’ argument.

Trying to compare Russell T. Davies (hereafter RTD) with Steven Moffat is like trying to compare a Dalek with a Cyberman; both are timeless in the history of Doctor Who, both fulfil their purpose excellently but, pit them against each other, and eventually one will come out victorious. I feel the comparison between both writers must be handled on two different levels; they must be judged both on their individual writing ability and on their ability to manage and oversee a series of Doctor Who successfully.

So, how do you decide who you prefer? We’ll look at the latter point first. Fulfilling the role of Head Writer is entirely different to writing the occasional story; it comes with the pressure of managing other writers, making a series of episodes fit together cohesively and, ultimately, deciding the direction that the show will take under your reign, to name but a few of the responsibilities. It’s whilst considering how well both writers fulfil this role that my favourite became evident to me, and I realised Doctor Who show runners don’t come any better than RTD. I’m completely in love with the show under both writers and it would have been a lot harder to choose between the two had it not been for series 7, which sadly had me temporarily wishing for RTD’s return. Of course this is all down to personal taste but for me, this series was lacking in good quality, enriched scripts and character development, which all resulted in a rather underwhelming entrance for new companion Clara Oswald. Moffat’s episodes were, as usual, outstanding but a series needs more than just a good opener and finale, it needs good substance running through it, something that series 5 and 6 had in abundance which makes it all the more puzzling as to why Moffat didn’t sustain this throughout this series.

Something that was always existent in the RTD era was a clear plot line that was relatively easy to follow. I don’t want Doctor Who to be ‘dumbed down’, of course I want it to maintain an element of mystery, but an approach that Moffat seems to have developed recently is leaving gaps in stories which creates an element of confusion. For example, we’re increasingly thrown into already established relationships and expected to imagine the history that the Doctor may share with these characters as opposed to actually learning about it, such as Queen Nefertiti and John Riddell (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship) and Tasha Lem (The Time of the Doctor). As an audience, we feel unsure about what to make of them, which, for me, ultimately results in their insignificance. How can we as an audience invest in a character that we hardly know? I’m struggling to think of any characters in the RTD era that felt unfamiliar to me as that was something he was so unbelievably skilled at, making us invest in the simplest of characters because we felt as if we knew them, a philosophy that he appeared to have imposed on his ‘underwriters’. However, one thing that really worries me about Moffat’s leadership is his seemingly slipping standards regarding what constitutes a good script, judging by the stories he approved for filming (again, I’m talking specifically about series 7). Dinosaurs on a Spaceship seemed to rely solely on the exciting title and advanced CGI to impress viewers as the story was virtually non-existent, whereas Nightmare in Silver had scary Cybermen but failed to back them up, making use of cliché, stereotypical teenage lines such as ‘put me down I hate you’ (Angie) which was entirely ineffective and unrealistic.

I also feel the fundamental features of the Doctor’s character were slightly lost during this series which is something that should never happen. For instance, there’s the killing of Solomon in cold blood and the friendship between the Doctor and famous hunter John Riddell in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship which both seem completely out of character. That, paired with the Doctor’s unsympathetic response to the murder of Mr. Sweet and his disrespectful reaction to the victims of The Crimson Horror, creates an element of inconsistency in the character who has always shown such mercy, even to the worst of enemies. I find it hard to believe that the man who offered Davros mercy in Journey’s End would go against all his morals to get back at someone as relatively insignificant as Solomon. Of course, I’m all for the character of the Doctor developing and changing but the circumstances in which he went against his morals didn’t seem convincing enough. Although these episodes were not written by Moffat, the responsibility still lies with him. I might be wrong, but I wish Doctor Who was Steven Moffat’s sole priority and that he didn’t have commitments to another big BBC show so that he could perhaps dedicate a bit more time to re-drafting those poorer episodes.

On their individual writing ability, however, I would say the two are virtually inseparable. Both have the power to create alien worlds but do so with the element of humanity that Doctor Who is so famous for. In fact, Moffat may even have the edge here with his knack for creating terrifying monsters and complex plotlines that RTD simply doesn’t share (e.g. Melody Pond – WHO SAW THAT COMING?!). As writers, neither can be faulted; to name but a few, RTD’s triumphs include The Parting of the Ways, Doomsday, Midnight and the epic End of Time, whilst Steven’s credits include the infamous Blink, Asylum of the Daleks and the gas mask thriller The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. Both Russell and Steven just ‘get it’- the effortless interweaving of sci-fi with the romanticism and domesticity of humanity is what sets our show apart from every other of its kind and they seem to capture this wholly and completely. For example, alongside the terrifying insanity of the Daleks in the Asylum runs the heart-breaking truth about Amy and Rory’s relationship and her inability to have the children that they both so desperately want. Similarly, RTD’s Love and Monsters sees the Abzorbaloff as merely a backdrop to the blossoming love story between Elton and Ursula. As writers, they can make any situation feel familiar with common themes and emotions, from creating timeless monsters such as the Weeping Angels and The Flood, to unforgettable characters such as Rose Tyler and ‘the Ponds’.

I know it may be hard to believe after reading this, but I do in fact love Steven Moffat as a writer and it’s a love that’s increasing with every new episode of series 8. The good thing about being a Whovian is having different opinions and expressing those opinions with the common goal of wanting Doctor Who to be the best it can be. My favourite show runner is Russell. T. Davies, yes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the show under any other writer. Every Whovian has a favourite and there can be only one – RTD is mine, who is yours?

August 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

‘A new series of Doctor Who’ – these 6 words may seem simple enough, but for the average Whovian, they mean a whole new world of possibilities yet to be explored. They mean new dreams (and nightmares!) for children and adults alike across the world and the potential to see ‘something awesome’. But this year, it feels different. Series 8 still means all those things to fans but with the addition of something else. Peter Capaldi’s era is almost upon us and it really does feel like the dawn of a new age…

My preparation for series 8 started rather unconventionally and definitely with a bang! After applying for tickets, receiving them and waiting outside Elstree studios for 9 hours solid, my family and I were given the privilege to watch the unveiling of the 12th Doctor right from the front row and even meet the man himself afterwards! This added such a personal touch to this series in particular and after witnessing first hand Peter Capaldi’s passion for the show and kindness towards Doctor Who fans, I knew that they’d definitely found a winner in him. And I’m not alone in that opinion; the unveiling of a new Doctor usually brings with it a great amount of hostility from those Whovians who hate the idea of change, however the age of Capaldi seems to be welcomed wholeheartedly by both the media and fans alike. From his revelation on live TV, to the flash of his eyes in ‘The Day of The Doctor’ and finally his official debut on Christmas day, Peter Capaldi has slowly worked his way into our hearts and made them beat that little bit faster. So why has this series got us all so excited?

For starters, the 12th Doctor seems to herald not only a new series or a new incarnation, but a new age entirely. The fact that this regeneration defies the ancient laws of the Time Lords brings a whole new layer of interest to the show; fans find themselves asking ‘who exactly is this man?’ Is he still the same hero that we all know and love? And it’s not just us who require answers to these questions. From the unbearably small amount of footage we’ve been allowed to see from the official BBC trailers, we hear The Doctor asking Clara ‘am I a good man?’ We’re used to seeing The Doctor rediscover himself with every new regeneration but he’s always been aware of his values and history – but not this time. The Doctor seems to be a stranger, not only to us, but also to himself, which is the scariest and most exciting thing of all.

But, as important as he is, Doctor Who is more than just The Doctor on his own. Series 8 will see the return of Jenna Coleman as the much loved Clara Oswald and Whovians will be introduced to a new character in the form of Danny Pink, played by the hugely talented Samuel Anderson. One thing in particular that excites me about this new format is the possibility of seeing more of Clara’s personal background – her home life, her work life, her family life. We’ve been given small glimpses into her story, for example in the opening of ‘Rings of Akhaten’ and the various appearances by Angie and Arty but somehow she’s always felt like a fleeting companion, like she’s never fully committed herself to life aboard the TARDIS (does she even own a TARDIS key?). However, I’m looking forward to seeing episodes that are centred on Earth (and Coal Hill School in particular!) so that it feels as though The Doctor is stepping into Clara’s world as well as the other way around. Also, an exciting prospect for us as an audience is that our reliance on Clara will increase dramatically as she’ll be our one source of familiarity and trust; we’ll get to know the 12th Doctor through her eyes and she’ll be a real source of comfort to us in times of abnormality. The arrival of Danny Pink is also something that has got me counting down the days until the 23rd August. As someone who has seen his work in the past as Ross in Emmerdale, I can personally vouch for his acting skills but, putting the obvious to one side, what does the arrival of Danny Pink mean for the show? Well, it’s a return to the obviously winning combination of 2 companions (Amy and Rory – need I say more?) and it means a possible new dynamic between Clara and The Doctor, in other words, could he come between them or will his arrival bring them closer together? So many questions that will hopefully be answered during the course of the new series but, either way, I’m relishing the opportunity of getting to know both companions even better.

The run-up to series 8 has certainly been eventful for me this year and it’s all contributing to my immense excitement for the Capaldi era. From witnessing his unveiling live in the studio to watching filming in Cardiff first-hand, I’ve been lucky enough to see a tiny glimpse of what series 8 holds for us all and the future certainly looks bright. So many things are left unanswered at this moment in time as the 12th Doctor prepares to make his entrance into the Whoniverse but one thing I know for sure – I’ll be tuning in on Saturday 23rd August 2014 with my sonic at my side for the beginning of what promises to be a truly unforgettable era…

July 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

The Doctor is human. What better Doctor Who story could there possibly be? A story in which our loveable hero is replaced by the humble John Smith, who prefers a gown and cap as opposed to a suit and converse. Of course, I’m talking about Paul Cornell’s 2007 two-part extravaganza ‘Human Nature’ and ‘Family of Blood’ – the episodes that make me think every time I watch them ‘Why couldn’t I have written this?’ But what exactly is it that makes this story an instant classic?

The problem with writing about your favourite episode is that it’s virtually impossible to know where to begin. The story captures all the things you would want to see in a Doctor Who episode and pulls each one off with such roaring success that I could easily sing its praises without end for a week. As you’ve probably already guessed, this won’t be a balanced account of pros and cons, quite simply because there are no cons to this story, at least not in my opinion. The general concept of the story is the real triumph; it’s a ‘Doctor-lite’ episode with David Tennant at the heart of it. John Smith is such an intriguing character for the audience to get their heads around; his face is so familiar but brilliant acting on David Tennant’s part and superb writing from Paul Cornell means that we accept John Smith as a character entirely free of the Doctor’s shadow. This is such a clever technique employed by Cornell because it means that we’re challenged as an audience – our emotions and loyalties become more confused as the episode progresses. We find ourselves rooting for John Smith throughout the entirety of the adventure, even when we know that his happiness is ultimately at the expense of The Doctor’s life – we even find ourselves siding with Joan Redfern when she blatantly tells The Doctor that John was ‘braver than him, in the end’. To be able to introduce a character that looks like The Doctor, talks like The Doctor but is completely disassociated with him is a rare thing to behold and is a complete pleasure to witness. The real beauty and complexity of the episode lies in the contrast of the two central heroes and their differing strengths. We can’t help but jump for joy when The Doctor returns rather explosively in the Family of Blood’s spaceship, but at the same time our hearts break for both John and Joan’s inevitable loss. Yes, The Doctor may be ‘like fire and ice’ and he may ‘burn at the centre of time and see the turn of the Universe’ but he’s not the only one who’s ‘wonderful’…

A more subtle quality of this episode, but important nonetheless, is its recreation of the time in which it is set. This story both captures and explores the world of 1913 Britain with its questioning of warfare and exposure of racial prejudice. The casual racism of both Baines and Joan towards Martha and the war-hungry mentality of Headmaster Rocastle create a convincing and effective backdrop for the action of the episode and frame it perfectly.

And then there’s the monsters…

Scarecrows. Walking scarecrows that lurk behind hedges and stagger across deserted fields to capture their victims. The very thought of them still makes me shudder to this day! A good monster is at the heart of the best Doctor Who stories, or most of them anyway, and this adventure certainly has that! They’re so simple and so terrifying at the same time; they never utter a word but they don’t need to – they’re merciless and can’t be reasoned with, which is the scariest thing of all. But, as terrifying as they are, are the scarecrows the real monsters in this story? At the heart of the action lies the Family of Blood, alien life forms that possess the bodies of unsuspecting humans such as schoolboy Jeremy Baines. Out of all the ‘baddies’ that have appeared in Doctor Who, none are better acted or better written than ‘Son of Mine’. A bold statement I know but the combination of Harry Lloyd and Paul Cornell provides such a treat for Whovians that I only wish we could have seen this character for more than just 2 episodes! Harry Lloyd is such a scene stealer that I can completely see where Russell T. Davies was coming from when he suggested him for the role of the 11th Doctor, with a quirkiness and actor’s interpretation that screams for a more permanent place in the Whoniverse. The family’s motive is simple and their means of attaining their end-goal are ghastly; in short, the Family of Blood are everything that a Doctor Who monster should be. Their sinister creepiness, combined with the brutish nature of their straw soldiers, results in an altogether timeless classic.

But it’s the love story running through the entirety of this adventure that really puts this episode above all others. The fact that The Doctor is human means that we have the opportunity to see a completely new side to him, or at least a side which is deeply hidden in his Time Lord form. We were shown The Doctor’s capability for love in his relationship with Rose Tyler, but that was always built upon the things unsaid and was always a very strange and alien concept to him, for example in ‘Human Nature’ we see that the prospect of falling in love never occurred to him in his preparation for becoming human. Watching the love grow between Joan and John is a truly beautiful thing; it is neither forced nor rushed but seems entirely natural and genuine – it is human. They are both each other’s saviour which makes it all the more heart-breaking when we see them torn apart; John ultimately knows he must say goodbye to his future but it’s the fact that he can see exactly what that future holds which makes his death so unbearably tragic. The strength of their love is so unbreakable that it lives on even after John’s death; the 2010 episode ‘The End of Time (part 2)’ sees the 10th Doctor visit Joan’s great-granddaughter Verity Newman in his final moments before regeneration, it appears simply to find out if Joan was happy in the end. It would appear that The Doctor was right when he said that John Smith was still inside him ‘somewhere’ and the love he shared with Joan burns just as strong.

We all know that Doctor Who is more than just a TV show; it educates us, it inspires us and it enables us to dream. This episode heralds the ‘ordinary man’ over the might of the Time Lord and shows us the importance of courage and sacrifice, embodied perfectly through Latimer – a model of our very own ‘ordinary heroes’ that were sent to war 100 years ago. However, on a personal level, these two episodes inspire me to follow in the footsteps of Paul Cornell – they make me dream that one day I might be able to produce a piece of writing that makes others feel the way I do when I watch them.

Editorial written by Martha Draycott

June 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

It’s said that Rose Tyler is like marmite – some love her, some hate her. When first reading this statement, I couldn’t help but exclaim aloud ‘why would anyone hate Rose?’ My complete disbelief and lack of understanding at this idea in itself displays my unconditional love for this character, only strengthened by the fact that she was my first companion as a brand new, 10 year old Whovian. However, after discovering some of the reasons why people dislike this popular companion, I set myself a mission to show them that the Big Bad Wolf is loveable after all…

For many Whovians, Rose Tyler is one of the best companions of all time – just look at the widespread elation across the Whoniverse when it was announced that Billie Piper would be returning in ‘The Day of The Doctor’. I suppose the main reason I, and so many others, love Rose Tyler so much is because, essentially, she is us. As a 10 year old girl tuning into this alien world every Saturday night, I found a character who I could relate to immediately, someone who was as new to the crazy world of The Doctor as I was. Rose Tyler – the ordinary girl turned extraordinary defender of the earth. Rose Tyler was such a positive role model for everyone, but in particular young girls like myself, who were not necessarily the conventional demographic for the show. I, along with others I’m sure, credit Rose with the introduction of many female fans into the Whoniverse; I didn’t just admire her, I wanted to hang out with her, I wanted to be her. We all dream of running away with The Doctor, and Rose made us feel it was possible. However, Rose’s story did not just resonate with the female half of the population, by the end of 2006, after we’d all had the privilege of seeing her character develop and deepen, it seemed that everyone had immersed themselves in the qualities that shine out of this timeless companion.

Without a doubt, the best thing about Rose as a companion is that she made The Doctor the ‘man’ we love today. This may seem like a bold statement but I believe it to be entirely true; when we meet the ninth incarnation of The Doctor, he is scarred from the horror of the Time War, it’s made him bitter and angry which becomes increasingly evident no matter how hard he tries to hide it. Watching his relationship with Rose blossom over the course of the 2 years he spent with her was beautiful, not only because of the romanticism of the love story, but also because we, as an audience, had the opportunity to watch Rose change him for the better and lighten his dark side. The Doctor explains this beautifully in the series 4 finale ‘Journey’s End’ when he says, speaking to the human Tenth Doctor, “You were born in battle. Full of blood and anger and revenge.” He then turns to Rose and asks her “Remind you of someone? That’s me, when we first met. And you made me better. Now you can do the same for him.” The lasting consequences of Rose as a companion become increasingly obvious as you watch her story unfold; she challenges The Doctor and refuses to let him act like the monster he thinks he is. This much can be seen in the 2005 episode, ‘Dalek’, with her moral questioning of The Doctor. Rose Tyler proved herself to be a lot more than just a ‘sidekick’ when she stood up to the Time Lord and forced him to evaluate his own morality when she asked him ‘what the hell are you changing into?’ Any nineteen year old that can demand such authority with The Doctor is worth admiring. Rose was feisty enough to set The Doctor straight, but soft enough to teach him how to love again. She was not only a role model for all young fans of the show, but also for The Doctor; she was someone that he could learn a lot from. It’s clear that her character was built upon compassion and empathy and her regard for the ‘everyday’ character became a regular occurrence throughout her tenure, offering comfort to Gwyneth the serving girl in ‘The Unquiet Dead’ and Flora the maid in ‘Tooth and Claw’. This sense of humanisation and pure kindness that Rose brings to the show should be enough in itself to persuade any doubters out there that she surely has to be regarded as one of the best.

But what about all those times when Rose has ‘thrown a strop’? Or when she’s proven disloyal to both Mickey and Jackie? These are questions that will inevitably be asked by many and valid questions they are too; these claims are entirely true of her character, but that doesn’t necessarily go against her in my opinion. So at times she may be a stereotypical teenager (let’s face it, her reaction to Sarah Jane’s arrival in ‘School Reunion’ was hardly mature), and yes, she may be prepared to leave her family at the drop of a hat, but that’s what makes her so incredibly and realistically human. Rose rather harshly tells Mickey in ‘The Parting of the Ways’ that there is ‘nothing left for her’ on Earth despite the fact that both Mickey and Jackie are desperate for her to stay, and makes her priorities perfectly clear in ‘Boom Town’ when she deserts Mickey in order to help The Doctor. Is this so surprising though? Rose is young and in love, not only with The Doctor, but also with her adventurous new lifestyle, and her readiness to sacrifice everything shows her utter devotion to the Time Lord, if nothing else. I must say, this is one of the main reasons why I love Rose so much. She wears her heart on her sleeve and the result is an entirely real character that acts on her emotions, as most of us would in her position. She is honest with herself and to others and that’s not a crime. It’s easy to say that she strings Mickey along, and admittedly her disapproval of Trisha Delaney was downright selfish, but the truth is that she doesn’t completely know what she wants; she wants a new life, but that doesn’t mean she’s completely ready to let go of her old life. Rose Tyler is flawed, yes, but show me any human being that isn’t.

Rose Marion Tyler – the girl who saved The Doctor, not only with her bronze medal in gymnastics, but more importantly with her heart. Played beautifully by Billie Piper and written beautifully by Russell T. Davies, it seems impossible to imagine the modern era of Doctor Who without her. She may not be perfect, but it’s her imperfections that make her the perfect companion for me (and our mutual love of chips, of course). She truly was ‘fantastic’…

Editorial written by Martha Draycott

May 1st, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

The War Doctor: “How old are you now?”

The Doctor: “I don’t know. I lose track. Twelve hundred and something I think, unless I’m lying. I can’t remember if I’m lying about my age, that’s how old I am.”

- The Day of the Doctor (2013)

Although it may be a fact easily forgotten when the likes of Matt Smith and David Tennant are the faces of The Doctor, we mustn’t forget that the last of the Time Lords is now over a thousand years old…so can a 55 year old actor really be ‘too old’ to play our favourite time traveller?

Sunday 4th August 2013 – Peter Capaldi is announced live on BBC One as the 12th incarnation of the loveable hero. Whilst the majority of Doctor Who fans around the world simultaneously punched the air and jumped for joy in approval of this choice, there was inevitably a backlash and a general consensus that this Oscar-winning actor simply had too many years behind him to make a success of this character. However, I find it hard to find any credibility in these claims and must admit that I was most certainly a Whovian jumping for joy and I haven’t stopped yet. Here are a few reasons why an older Doctor is just what the show needs…

Rewind back to the momentous day of the 23rd November 1963, a day when British television would never be the same again and all because a man named William Hartnell won the hearts of children and adults alike; a man that happened to be 55 years old. Although the writers and producers cannot be forgotten in this success, 50 years on many people honour Hartnell with being the man behind the show’s triumph and I have to say that I agree with this statement. The character of the Doctor was not only perfectly understood by Hartnell, but was equally perfectly portrayed. With the body and appearance of an older man, the 1st Doctor emitted trustworthiness and reliability; he could be the viewers’ granddad in the same way that he was Susan’s grandfather; he could protect the universe in the role of a guardian as well as an alien hero. All of these features that characterised such a successful and well-loved incarnation can be attributed as much to the age of Hartnell, as to his acting ability. To an audience that is meant to believe that this character has experience, knowledge and skill when it comes to saving the universe his appearance definitely makes this believable as visually he looked like an experienced veteran when it came to flying the TARDIS. However, it’s not all about trustworthiness and reliability when it comes to being the Doctor; to be a successful Doctor you have to be threatening and scary just as much as loveable. An older Time Lord brings with him the power of authority when facing deadly foes; the rage of the Time Lord becomes all the more real when it is portrayed in the form of a ‘grumpy old man’. Therefore, one must ask themselves: if this is true about Hartnell (which few fans would dispute), then how can we go wrong with an actor who shares so many of his qualities?

Also, time itself has moved on and what was classed as ‘old’ in 1963 is most certainly not classed as old in 2014. To anyone who thought that Hartnell’s Doctor didn’t quite work (an outrage, I know), then rest assured that we won’t be in for a repeat performance merely because of the similarity in age. Capaldi’s costume is young and fresh and certainly ‘rebel Time Lord’, whereas the 1st Doctor was the epitome of a senior citizen. Hartnell’s Doctor shows us that a 55 year old can take on the role and win; however, Capaldi’s costume also shows us that a 55 year old can be an exciting prospect and breathe life into the character once again. I’m sure it’s not the end of the fun, the occasional silliness and endless running for the 12th Doctor…Capaldi will most certainly be flying the flag for the older Whovian which is just brilliant!

However, if William Hartnell’s success isn’t enough to convince you that an older Doctor can work, then how about we take a look at John Hurt? As the Doctor who shocked the Whoniverse when he revealed himself as ‘The Doctor’ at the end of ‘The Name of the Doctor’ and then went on to play the ‘forgotten’ incarnation of the Time Lord in the 50th Anniversary extravaganza ‘The Day of the Doctor’, Hurt wowed audiences (as usual) and left millions of Whovians wanting more of ‘Doctor 8.5’. In this Doctor, fans saw a much more mature approach to the Time Lord, emphasised through his stark contrast with the ‘timey-wimeyness’ of 10 and 11. Hurt’s Doctor, despite this more grown up approach, had pace and an energy about him in-keeping with the character; he very much managed to capture the essence of the Doctor and seemed to effortlessly keep up with Smith and Tennant, despite being 73 years old! Moffat used the fact that Hurt was the oldest man to play the character to the show’s advantage; his lack of toleration for the silliness and playfulness that 10 and 11 portray, and that fans have become so used to over the years, provided viewers with the chance to see a new take on the iconic role, and a comical one at that. Younger viewers in particular had the opportunity to see that they can still relate to their hero when he looks like their granddad and I think that’s fantastic! This show seems to teach its viewers to accept all members of society and that mind-set is definitely part of the very fabric of the Whovian fandom; actors can still have something new and interesting to offer after they reach the age of 40 and I hope Capaldi will show that in his take on The Doctor.

Moreover, change is the spirit of the entire show; we’ve seen 11 different faces of the Doctor over the past 50 years (12 if you count the War Doctor), countless companions, 8 different sonic screwdriver designs and not to mention the many different looks of the TARDIS interior itself. Despite all of these changes, or perhaps even arguably because of these changes, the Doctor Who fan base continues to fall even more in love with the show with every series. Change is something that is embraced by Whovians (within reason, of course) and it is what defines the show without doubt. Both Matt Smith and David Tennant were among the best Doctors there have ever been in my opinion, however they were both young, Matt being the youngest actor ever to play the Doctor in fact. Capaldi’s Doctor will give a fresh look to the show and will hopefully result in even more layers of The Doctor being explored. We can’t forget that as soon as Matt Smith was announced there was widespread outcry that he was too young and now he is one of the show’s most loved stars in its entire history. Perhaps Peter Capaldi is merely a victim of the curse of his predecessor that Smith similarly experienced after Tennant’s departure. My feeling is that, regardless of his age, Capaldi would have been met with some opposition merely due to the fact that he is set to be Smith’s replacement, and his age is merely a piece of ammunition. This of course relates to the fans, and non-fans, who doubt Capaldi’s suitability and it must be said that this is a relatively small number of people. Overall, Peter Capaldi has been met with such warmth from the Whovian family and that is most certainly to our credit as a fan base. Of course, I address this argument to those who still need a bit of convincing…

However, having stated my opinion on the suitability of Peter Capaldi, I must now acknowledge one of the few problems that this casting may create. One of the defining features of the Eleventh Doctor’s era was the natural chemistry between Matt Smith and his companions, both onscreen and off and I think their relationship particularly worked because of the closeness of their ages. The fact that Matt’s Doctor has always been alongside companions of such a close age to himself has meant that the dynamics of the 2010 onwards show have always been extremely youthful and fun. The relationship between Doctor and companion when this has been the case has always worked as a close friendship with the possibility of something more. Precisely for this reason, both the relationship between The Doctor and Amy and the relationship between The Doctor and Clara seem entirely plausible; as an audience we believe that both Amy and Clara could develop a form of infatuation with the Doctor because he looks attractive, and similarly we believe that Rory would harbour a certain amount of jealousy towards the Doctor because he looks as if he could be a contender for Amy’s heart. Also, generally speaking, to an audience, it seems much more acceptable to see a close friendship and romance blossom between two characters that look roughly the same age (however, it must be noted that this was not necessarily an issue for the dynamics of the 9th Doctor and Rose Tyler, played brilliantly by Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper). The age difference between Peter and Jenna may mean that some changes have to be made to the overall dynamics; perhaps Clara will have less power over the Time Traveller? Perhaps Capaldi’s Doctor will have more authority over Clara? So, perhaps the love interests that we are so used to witnessing in the TARDIS may be pushed to one side in Capaldi’s era to make way for a more straightforward and strictly friendly relationship, but is there really anything wrong with that? So Clara has to get to know The Doctor all over again…that’s exciting, interesting and something that led to one of the greatest teams of all – The 10th Doctor and Rose Tyler. Need I say more?

And just in case you needed any more proof that Peter Capaldi is most definitely NOT too old to play the Doctor, any man that has the power to whip an entire planet into a frenzy at a mere glimpse of his eyes definitely has what it takes go down in history as one of the greats that has played our Doctor.

“No sir, all thirteen!” – In that moment, on the 23rd November 2013, the Doctor was well and truly in…

Editorial written by Martha Draycott

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