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    Mac McDonald is in this:

    (Which I find quite interesting given he gave the… definite impression he was not a fan of John Barrowman at DJ 2015)



    Might be a fan of money though.



    Huh, it never occured to me the audio book things would be voiced by the actual actors. I always figured they were people doing dodgy impressions. Guess that explains the price.



    Big Finish are radio dramas, not audio books.

    Is it just me, or has this forum just become a massive audition of “What’s My Fruit?”.



    In fairness, it’s not the first time I’ve seen someone be a bit confused about exactly what Big Finish do. It’s understandable – some of their stuff is directly adapted from novels, and they also do books.

    If you’re not familiar with them it’s an easy (and fairly minor) mistake to make.


    Ben Saunders

    They use impersonators for anything featuring the First, Second or Third Doctor Whos, for obvious reasons, and used a Tom Baker impersonator at least once, but pretty much from day one they had at least the actual actors for Doctors 5-8 and a selection of companions. They also sometimes get people who have been in the shows before to play different, new characters. It all seems very chummy.

    There is a set of Ninth Doctor audios featuring Nicholas Briggs doing a dodgy Christopher “I fucking hate Dr Who” Eccleston impression, which I’ve heard many (bad) things about.



    Do Big Finish still have people like Robert Shearman in the early years, writing weird, creepy, experimental stories that take full advantage of the audio medium? Or are they all about trying to mimic each TV era as closely as possible for fans who can’t get enough of that?

    There are so many releases, but I keep seeing the same uninspiring writers’ names who haven’t impressed me before.


    Plastic Percy

    I do reccomend their War Master: Only the Good boxset. They got Sir Derek Jacobi back to play the War Master and we get to see what he was up to during the Time War. It’s a nice companion piece to the four War Doctor boxsets they did with Sir John Hurt before he passed away.


    Ben Saunders

    If I remember right Rob Shearman has horrific writer’s block but has been trying to write another Big Finish for ages. I’m not overly familiar with the modern range myself, but from what I’ve heard, there are still some fantastic experimental stories being written, but they are much fewer and farther between, with stuff like the Fourth Doctor’s Adventures being far too derivative and an attempt at pretending its the 70s again rather than making something good.

    Again I don’t have personal experience of this, but I’ve been told that the Companion Chronicles range has a very high average quality.



    > If you’re not familiar with them it’s an easy (and fairly minor) mistake to make.

    To be clear, I was not having a go at Lily, more referencing the pedantry going on in another thread.



    It’s true that BF isn’t quite as experimental as they used to be – they’ve said that due to the return of the TV series, they wouldn’t be allowed to do some of the stuff they put out in their early years today. With the exception of the Seven/Mel/Ace stories the monthly range has been quite good this last year, though.


    International Debris

    The problem with Big Finish, so to speak, is that there are just too bloody many of them. It’s almost impossible to know where to even dip your toe in. I’ve considered going through them chronologically, but it’d take years. My plan is, once I’ve finished all the books, to go with stuff that’s different from the TV versions, so I’m definitely going to have a run through all the Eighth Doctor stuff – will just be good to experience some actual McGann in action – and maybe the Time War stuff, possibly some Gallifrey and UNIT.
    Then maybe I’ll start looking for the more acclaimed and unusual Monthly Range stuff.

    And yes, I’ve heard Briggs’s Eccleston impression and it’s laughable.



    Their Doctor Who Unbound “what if?” range is about as different as it gets, I liked it. You don’t have to worry about where those fit in your chronology.

    The McGann range(s) is the only one I ever committed to, until it became all about ‘epic’ boxsets and I lost interest. If his eras are a reflection on Big Finish as a whole, they were clearly a lot freer in the wilderness years, with creative and sometimes crazy stories. But when the new TV series came out and McGann got his own range, it mainly fell back on one-time aliens from the 70s showing up for another round and different takes on the same old ideas. It reminds me of the contractual creative castration that made 90s Star Trek novels so bland.

    It’s a real shame Tom Baker wasn’t up for audios in the early years. I’m not really interested in listening to The Return of the Robots of Death Again or whatever they’ve got him doing now.



    There are some quite good Tom audios: The Foe from the Future for Hinchcliffe-style horror, The Auntie Matter for Williams-style fun, The Paradox Planet/Legacy of Death and The Trouble with Drax for something more Douglas Adams-esque, The Skin of the Sleek/The Thief Who Stole Time for something more Season 18.


    International Debris

    Interesting. Any other recommendations gratefully received!


    Captain No-Name

    Seeing as you’ve asked for recommendations, International Debris, I’ll chip in…

    Dalek Empire Series 1 and 2.

    Two series of 4 CDs, this is a Doctor-less space opera telling a love story against the backdrop of a vast intergalactic Dalek war. Crucially, this was released before the TV series was revived in 2005, and so it takes its cue from 20th century material. This feels a bit like Nick Briggs doing a modern 15-rated movie-budget version of those wonderful brightly-coloured pulpy 1960s annuals and comic strips, where the Doctor didn’t feature and there were Space Agents and a Dalek Emperor, and the Second World War always seemed a recent influence. The kind of thing the classic TV series hinted at but never had the budget to depict. By comparison, Moffat-era TV Daleks often seem like generic shooty robot monsters who turn up then get blown up. But in Dalek Empire the Daleks are more like heartless metal Nazis, psychologically torturing people, conducting experiments, gunning down labour forces once they are finished with… utter bastards.

    They did a third series (which was 6 CDs long, and starred David Tennant before he was cast as the Doctor) but it was only tangentially connected to the original two series, and I didn’t warm to it as much. I never heard the fourth and final series, but I understand it was a 4-CD story with some new characters, which was set within the timeframe of Series One, and so was inessential.

    In other words, all you really need is Series 1 and 2.

    NOTE: Series 1 & 2 are available on Spotify. Just search “Dalek Empire” and you can listen to all 8 CDs for free (albeit interrupted with occasional annoying adverts, unless you have Premium)


    Ben Saunders

    Spare Parts, Jubilee, Doctor Who and the Pirates, Psychodrome, Whispers of Terror and City of Spires/Wreck of the Titan/Legend of the Cybermen are all good.

    Creatures of Beauty, Sirens of Time and Storm Warning I’ve heard but don’t remember well enough to say if they’re any good or not.

    Energy of the Daleks is a bit shit.

    If you want to be made to feel uncomfortable/listen to something harrowing Spare Parts and Creatures of Beauty have that quality. Jubilee and Legend are just very good, while Pirates and Psychodrome have some nice emotional stuff.


    Ben Saunders

    I must object to blaming the Moffat era for the ruination of the Daleks, as they’d outstayed their welcome by series 3 of New Who and the only interesting Dalek episodes after that were Into the Dalek and the Series 9 opener which was a Davros episode. He also cleverly avoided a Dalek episode in Series 6 because I think just about the whole of Britain was sick of them by that point.

    To be fair, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Planet of the Daleks, Destiny of the Daleks, and arguably Resurrection/Revelation aren’t very good, either. (I know hating Revelation is controversial – I like Saward’s other stuff but the DJ in that episode is enough to put me off it)

    They were already stretching credibility by the Series One finale with RTD’s insane boner for killing off every last dalek ever, only for a million more of them to suddenly turn up in the next episode.


    Captain No-Name

    I seem to have triggered you Ben, I apologise.

    Just to be clear, I absolutely do not blame Moffat for the “Ruination of the Daleks” (incidentally, maybe Ben Aaronovitch should have gone for that instead of “Remembrance”…) and my comment does not say that I do.

    What I in fact said was “Moffat-era TV Daleks often seem like generic shooty robot monsters who turn up then get blown up,” and in my defence I present to you Series 10, where this perfectly describes the sum total of their contribution.

    My actual viewpoint is that most 21st century Dalek stories have missed the mark for me. One thing I will say is that you should never use Daleks for cameos only. I hate them being wheeled on in the background for things like series finales.

    Incidentally, I can never agree with people who say the Daleks have outstayed their welcome. I had this conversation with someone recently, who said to me “can’t we go a year without a Dalek story for once” and I pointed out that the last Dalek story was back in 2015.

    I wouldn’t mind a series completely sans-Daleks. But what I actually WANT is a stonkingly good Dalek story. And I humbly suggest that the Moffat era did not really feature one.



    I seem to have triggered you Ben, I apologise.

    I don’t think that’s the term you’re looking for.


    Ben Saunders

    It certainly felt to me by the time of series 3 that they had outstayed their welcome, but that was more down to the fact that they were wiped out, only to come back again, only to be wiped out, only to come back again, etc etc. It stretched credibility beyond the realms of anything remotely believable. If they had just appeared in decent stories ten years in a row I would not complain.

    The Cybermen were turned into generic shooty robots in series 2 as well, which is a huge shame.

    There is a rumour that they are contractually obliged to use the Daleks every year, else they’d lose the license to them via the Terry Nation estate. Moffat has flatly denied this, even though the pattern does fit. No Dalek episode in 2011, but a cameo in The Wedding of River Song, a cameo in Waters of Mars, and the weird Bill announcement during that football thing could be interpreted as the mandatory Dalek appearance for that year. (I don’t believe the rumour, I just know it exists and if it turned out to be true I wouldn’t bat an eyelid)

    I much prefer them having cameos over us ever getting something as dire as Daleks In Manhattan again, but yes I would -much- prefer they just write them a good episode. I’ve liked their cameo appearances thus far, except maybe at the end of the Pandorica episode – a glorious episode, and I can see why they were included, but Daleks wouldn’t form an alliance with anybody.


    Ben Saunders

    They did stop producing Dalek episodes after Season 4 of Classic Who, not having them appear until Season 9, with a cameo in The War Games, for the same reason many people think they should be rested today – overuse. I think Chibnall could maybe avoid using them in his first series, honestly, but then there’s the idea that fighting the Daleks legitimises the new Doctor in the eyes of the audience, so who nose.


    Captain No-Name

    I agree RTD’s “all the daleks have been erased from time” idea wrote itself into a bit of a corner. I feel like they should have done a story (around about Series 3) that properly addressed this for good, but instead it’s just been kind of forgotten about, and the Daleks are found throughout time and space again now, just like in the classic series. Which is for the best really.

    I’d say the Cybermen have been a bit naff since the 1970s really. I’ve got an affection for Earthshock, I admit, but few of their appearances seem to do justice to the idea of them. The Series 10 finale was a joy to me, because I thought the cybermen were – at last – deployed excellently. (Your Big Finish recommendation of Spare Parts is good for the same reason).

    Like yourself I am suspicious of the rumour of contractual obligation. The pattern is there, as you say, but that’s the case with any good conspiracy theory; doesn’t make it true.

    I’d rather not choose between cameos or naff Dalek stories. That’s a bit Lose-Lose. Even when I enjoy a story that contains a Dalek cameo (Twice Upon A Time, for example) I kind of wish the Dalek cameo wasn’t in it.


    Captain No-Name

    You’ve got to remember there were an enormous amount of Dalek episodes in the 1960s. Hartnell alone had about 32 Dalek episodes in less than 3 years. That’s insane. Add to that the two Cushing movies, and about 13 Troughton Dalek episodes, and you can see why a 1960s viewer might suffer Dalek fatigue.

    By comparison, we’ve had a mere couple of Dalek cameos since a 2-part Dalek story back in 2015. Hardly an excess. It doesn’t compare to the 1960s Dalek overdose.

    It would have been reasonable of the 1960s production team to want to give the Daleks a rest, but I understand that actually it was more a case of Terry Nation withdrawing permission because he was trying to launch a big Dalek TV series on American television, and that’s why Evil of the Daleks appears to depict the “final end” of the Daleks. As we all know, nothing came of that. and the Daleks eventually returned to Doctor Who in the 1970s.

    If I was in Chibnall’s shoes I’d be contemplating a Dalek-less first series. And maybe he is, who know? But I think most viewers would agree Jodie really ought to face them eventually.


    Ben Saunders

    I don’t think comparing a serial of classic Who to an episode of modern Who is quite like for like – Harntell had three Dalek stories, which by the conventions of the era were split up into multiple 25-minute parts. But yes, they did appear every single year – twice in one year I think – and were on people’s screens quite a heck of a lot. It doesn’t help that Dalek Invasion and (depending on who you ask – I liked it) The Chase were a bit naff and the latter made light of the Daleks rather than presenting them as a menacing force.

    The Cushing movie of Dalek Invasion is much better, honestly, and I have a soft spot for Dr. Who and the Daleks.

    I also have a soft spot for Revenge of the Cybermen, even though it isn’t very good, and Attack of the Cybermen, even though that definitely isn’t any good at all, but yes the Cybermen have been pretty naff since 1969. The Series 10 finale was a terrific Cybermen story, and really brought the horror element back to them, and also managed to redeem John Simm’s Master who was a bit, uh, off, in The End of Time.

    If Jodie’s first serial is a Dalek story and also incredible I’ll be very happy and bite my tongue, but if she has a Dalek story early on which is naff I’ll probably be calling for them to fuck off once more.


    Ben Saunders

    The Cybermen were also stalwarts of Troughton’s era, appearing a whopping five times in three series (plus one cameo!), but the difference there is all their stories were quite good.


    International Debris

    I’m happy that we’ve had a couple of Dalek-free years (although one was pretty much a Who-free year, so I’m not sure it really counts). And happy that such a big deal wasn’t made of it this time like it was for series 6 (A year without Daleks! Crikey!)

    I quite like the fact that the ’80s Doctors only met them once each originally. The Daleks are iconic, and thus their appearances really should feel like that. RTD brought them out again and again, and it definitely got tiresome. It felt like Moffat was trying to do something different with them (new Daleks, Dalek asylum, inside a Dalek, Davros’s childhood), but none of them entirely hit the mark for me. If Jodie meets them a couple of times with strong stories it’ll be great though.

    And yeah, the Capaldi two-parter is the only time I’ve really enjoyed the Cybermen since The Invasion. Earthshock and a couple of other Moffat ones have had decent stories, but even then the Cybermen in them were crap and would have been better if they were other monsters.


    Captain No-Name

    I understand why people grumble about The Chase. Although, to be clear, I think those people are misery guts. The Chase is a ripping good fun piece of 1960s comic book pulp adventure, and I like it.

    But what’s naff about The Dalek Invasion of Earth? As a piece of doom-laden post-apocalyptic 1960s TV sci-fi for all the family, it certainly does the job for me.


    Ben Saunders

    I bloody love The Chase – if you go into it expecting a serious story you’ll be disappointed, but if you know what you’re in for it is rollicking good fun.

    Dalek Invasion is doom-laden, yes, but it’s also baggy and overlong and the action sequences are appalling. The first attack on the Dalek saucer is an embarrassment, somehow worse than the attack on their control room in The Daleks. I know I know, it was the 60s, there was no time and no money, but it really did feel rather poorly done. I remember thinking “fucking hell this is tedious” around episode four, although the final episode is quite good. Susan’s departure is obviously a real tear-jerker, and that music is phenomenal, and I like the film stuff of Barbara running around and the Daleks in London.

    Perhaps it’s a consequence of having seen the obviously much bigger budget and more visually impressive movie version several times before and only having watched the TV version a couple of days ago, but it really missed the mark for me. And those voices are awful!

    The Daleks is rather good but could do with one episode’s worth of runtime being sucked out of it, and The Chase is basically perfect.


    Captain No-Name

    Fair enough, Ben.

    Interestingly, I also saw the 2150AD movie long before I saw the original (I imagine this is true of many Who fans) but certain things in the TV serial (especially the “28 Days Later running round London landmarks at dawn” business) really worked for me, meaning I didn’t find it the least bit disappointing after its big screen cousin.

    International Debris – the Series 10 finale and The Invasion are my two favourite Cyberman stories. I have enjoyed some of what went between, but those two are great.


    Plastic Percy

    The BBC’s contract with the Terry Nation estate means they have to use the Daleks in some capacity at least once a year in order for them to retain usage. I remember very early on in production of the new series that it looked like they wouldn’t be allowed to the use the Daleks. The Nation estate are almost Dalek like in their protection of their creators most profitable… er… successful creation.

    Russell T. Davies backup plan if they didn’t get them was that the Time Lords would have gone to war with the Toclafane, and Robert Shearman wrote a draft of what would later become the episode Dalek, entitled Museum Piece, where the Doctor would find a Toclafane survivor locked away in a vault.


    Ben Saunders

    That wouldn’t have had anywhere near the impact that Dalek did. Should have gone with the Voord.


    International Debris

    Or the Quarks.


    Captain No-Name

    Plastic Percy – I’d be really interested to know if you have a source for the BBC having a contractual obligation to include the Daleks once per series…

    I’ve remained sceptical of this rumour because, while I’ve heard it in lots of unofficial places like this, I’ve never heard it from an authoritative source. Plus I don’t think it sounds credible.

    I mean, the BBC’s contracts all seem very short term. For example, Ecclestone was only contracted for a single series – by the time they decided to commission a second, he’d already got cold feet. Similarly Matt Smith signed on a year-by-year basis which is why Moffat didn’t even know whether the 11th Doctor would feature in Day of the Doctor when he sat down to write the early drafts. According to some accounts, the BBC expected Doctor Who to wrap up when RTD stepped down, and there wasn’t magnanimous confidence in a Moffat-led Series 5. All of which points at the BBC doing things one year at a time. I mean, Moffat seemingly did Series 10 because if he didn’t then nobody else would!

    So, given all this lack of long-term planning, I’d be extremely surprised if they’d brokered some kind of perpetual “the Daleks must feature in every single Doctor Who series from now on, even if it’s just a cameo” type deal. I strongly suspect the Dalek rights situation gets contractually renewed at regular intervals, perhaps annually. And I doubt it’s as dictatorial as the rumour suggests.

    I think the Nation estate had a unique bargaining position in 2005, which they’ve since lost. The Daleks were crucial for the relaunch. But not nowadays. If the Nation estate decided to be arses, the BBC would do quite happily without the Daleks for a few years.


    Ben Saunders

    I know for certain Moffat has ridiculed the idea, saying they’re just good monsters they happen to want to use a lot, but then of course he would say that, wouldn’t he? I could probably find the source if I could be bothered.

    Also the Voord are another Terry creation, hence why I went for them. I wonder how much they’d cost to use.


    Ben Saunders

    From more behind-the-scenes rumours, I’ve heard that the short-term nature of BBC contracts actually caused a heck of a lot of problems for Moffat, and is one of the reasons Time of the Doctor had every single plot point imaginable wrapped up within it – Moffat intended for there to be another Matt Smith series, but various BBC machinations prevented this. Also yes, he only did Series 10 because Chibnall was busy and if he didn’t do it, there would have been no Doctor Who at all.

    The BBC thought RTD/Tennant were as their golden geese. Also, Moffat had some initial plans for a Tennant-led Series Five.

    Nation’s agent was very cunning to demand the rights to the Daleks remain with him.


    Ben Saunders

    Moreover it wasn’t necessarily intended for their to be another -year- of Matt Smith, just another -series-, as Moffat planned the series 6 mid-series split, but had the series 7 one thrust upon him after deciding that the experiment hadn’t worked. Without a series 7 split, we could have had at least six and possibly twelve more Smith episodes, tying up his arcs in a slightly more… cohesive way.


    Captain No-Name

    I think it will be quite interesting when, in a few years, the dust settles and people start to feel they can talk more openly about what on Earth was going on behind the scenes. The Moffat era has been rife with rumour, and some developments (like David Yates’s weird confidence that he was going to do a Doctor Who movie; or Moffat’s declaration that there would be more Doctor Who than ever in 2013… which turned out to mean less episodes than normal) have just seemed odd.


    International Debris

    as Moffat planned the series 6 mid-series split

    Really? I thought it was the BBC, and he realised that A Good Man Goes to War would simply make a good mid-season cliffhanger.

    Also, in terms of year-by-year, I’m pretty sure Moffat spoke a couple of times about the BBC having a five-year plan for the show.


    Ben Saunders

    I’m almost 100% certain Moff asked for the 6-split, realised it didn’t work, then got the 7-split thrust upon him, although if anyone has any contradictory information I’ll be glad to hear it.

    I’m waiting for The Life And Scandalous Times of Steven Moffat to come out in 2040 to put this all to rest.


    International Debris
    starting at 8:25
    “Actually I think I can now say series six being split wasn’t me at all, it was BBC One who wanted a split season”.


    Ben Saunders

    Oooooohhhh that’s recent lol. Cool


    Captain No-Name

    Ooh, I’ve never seen that Moffat interview. I’ll sit down and watch it later. Cheers, International Debris.

    I’m pretty sure Moffat spoke a couple of times about the BBC having a five-year plan for the show.

    Crikey, I must’ve missed him saying that. I’ve always had the impression that they rarely think more than one series ahead.

    I’m waiting for The Life And Scandalous Times of Steven Moffat to come out in 2040 to put this all to rest.

    That JNT book was excellent, and I thoroughly recommend it if you haven’t already read it.



    While we’re voicing our own personal conspiracy theories, mine is that Jenna Coleman wasn’t ever intended to be cast as the new companion, but got the job after she demonstrated such good chemistry with Smith in Asylum Of The Daleks. Which explains why Clara ended up having such a convoluted backstory, and also why Gaiman was under the impression that the companion in Nightmare In Silver was meant to be a Victorian nanny (as Clara was originally meant to just be the character from the Christmas special).

    I haven’t ever seen anything to corroborate it other than that circumstantial evidence, but it would explain why she ended up having such a weird and complicated backstory to explain her being both the character from that Christmas special AND the girl from Asylum.


    Ben Saunders

    BBC have “a five year plan” for the Chibnall era, but I think that basically means “it’s definitely not going to be cancelled for 5 years unless only twelve people tune in for series eleven.” We certainly aren’t privy to what they actually plan.

    I’ll be getting the JNT book soon, I should think.

    Series 7B was a disaster for a number of reasons, but fucking hell was having (a) Clara in Asylum of the Daleks an incredible twist.


    Ben Saunders

    And that was Series 7A, my bad



    Actually I think Clara was written into Asylum *after* she was cast – Jenna definitely auditioned to be the new companion.

    After that it was the case that Oswin dies in Asylum, then the Doc meets the Victorian version in “The Snowmen” and that’s the version that becomes the companion. Then for whatever reason Moffat decided to have the Victorian one die as well so the Clara that ultimately became the companion was a contemporary version. Gaiman had already started work on “Nightmare in Silver” at the time, which is why his early draft featured the Victorian one.


    Ben Saunders

    I’ve heard (more rumours!) that the BBC are/were weary of companions who aren’t from contemporary Britain. Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy, Rory, Clara, all from contemporary Britain. We Nardole in Series 10, but he was paired with Bill, who was from contemporary Britain. And since if Moff didn’t make S10 no-one would, maybe he could put his foot down a little. The contemporary companion rumour is one I’m more likely to believe.


    Seb Patrick

    >Nation’s agent was very cunning to demand the rights to the Daleks remain with him.

    Mmm, not really, it’s standard practice for all characters created by freelance writers to have the rights owned by that writer – was always thus on the old show and continues to be so on the revived one. They have to get agreement from and pay them any time they want to use any of them. It’s just that the Nation Estate/Tim Hancock are the ones more likely to kick up a fuss, as they have the bargaining power of the fact that it’s the Daleks.

    RTD’s agent also represents a lot of the old writers’ estates, and she’s much nicer about it.


    Ben Saunders

    Tbf I thought it was standard practice as well but just the other day I read somebody else say Nation was cunning to do so and believed them.

    I’ve noticed whenever they use the Ood they have to say “Ood created by Russell T. Davies”, and I think they have to credit Peddler/Davis for the Cybermen. I wonder if they had to credit the creator of the Macra for Gridlock.


    Ben Saunders

    (they did)



    IIRC: they don’t have to credit RTD for creating the Ood, as they were created whilst under contract to the BBC. Moffat just does it as a courtesy, rather than because of any legal obligations.


    Ben Saunders

    In fact it might have been William Russell or somebody on the commentary track for The Daleks. You hear some weird shit on those. The director of (I think) Delta and the Bannermen claimed that the BBC replace doctors every three years because that is he period in which they are the most marketable, and they got rid of Colin Baker because they couldn’t sell him. Normally I’d hear a theory like that and dismiss it immediately because of the countless alternative accounts I’ve heard, but given that it came from somebody who worked on the show I was forced to consider it. Briefly. I don’t buy it.


    Ben Saunders

    Well that’s nice of him (Moffat), isn’t it.


    International Debris

    Oooooohhhh that’s recent lol. Cool

    Ooh, I’ve never seen that Moffat interview. I’ll sit down and watch it later. Cheers, International Debris.

    It’s an excellent and very honest interview, well worth watching. It’s also part two, the first is here:
    And I’d imagine the third and final part is coming this weekend.


    Ben Paddon

    “The BBC only think a year ahead” is, as fan perceptions go, one that has always left me slightly perplexed considering they regularly commission series of the show in chunks (the earliest example of this being series 2 and 3 as well as the 2005-08 Christmas specials being commissioned almost immediately off the back of the success of “Rose”) and the previously mentioned five-year plan.

    Certainly some actors have been contracted a year at a time – Eccleston, Smith and Capaldi were all contracted on an annual basis, certainly – but that’s hardly indicative of standard operating practice across the board.


    Captain No-Name

    Some actors or all actors?

    I admit, I don’t pretend to know what standard operating practices are myself, but my perception (which I’m perfectly happy to have proven wrong) is based on interviews and articles where people give the distinct impression that the production team have got enough on their plate with the next year or so, and haven’t got a concrete plan beyond that.

    Certainly compared to the way American TV networks apparently lock people into gargantuan contracts that last for years, Doctor Who never quite seems sure about people’s ongoing availability. I’m not just talking about Ecclestone, Smith and Capaldi, but of people like Jenna Coleman and Catherine Tate.

    I thought Clara’s ever-lasting goodbye in Series 8/9 was a result of Jenna not having definitely decided whether to stick around or not. “Last Christmas” gave her a good send-off and then she was back again! As with much of her character, it never felt properly planned out to me at all.

    I’m genuinely interested to learn that the BBC commission the show in chunks. This is new to me. I totally thought they did it roughly one series at a time, adjusting things like budget and episode count as they went.

    I have to admit, I also thought the Christmas specials were commissioned on a year-by-year basis. I’m sure I remember an old DWM Production Notes column where either RTD or Moffat said we were lucky to have Christmas specials because they are not guaranteed and we shouldn’t take them for granted. If, as you say, The Next Doctor was commissioned way back in 2005 then I’ve fundamentally misunderstood how far in advance Doctor Who is planned!

    The 5-year plan thing is similarly new to me. Who does this relate to? Moffat or Chibnall? Surely Chibnall, otherwise why did Moffat seem surprised to be making Series 10?

    Incidentally, I much prefer the idea that the Doctor Who production team essentially make everything up as they go along, like they used to in the old days. I’ll be a bit sad if I find out they’ve actually been keeping to a plan all these years.

    Actually, it makes me think of that Mark Gatiss sketch “The Pitch of Fear”


    International Debris

    “It is definitely going to last five more years, I’ve seen the business plan.”

    Moffat interview for Variety in 2015

    “I thought it would last 10 years. I didn’t think it would last 10 years with BBC Worldwide trying to get me in a room to talk about their plan for the next five years!”

    Radio Times interview from the same era


    Captain No-Name

    Excellent work International Debris.

    So, if I understand correctly, the BBC absolutely do plan ahead with Doctor Who, but in the business sense of saying “this brand will continue to exist for at least X years; we’ll keep putting X money into it, and (hopefully) earning X money from it,” presumably with financial goals to aim at along the way.

    But the actual meat and bones of how the show will function, who will be creatively guiding it, which talent will be involved etc. is a bit more up in the air and adaptable along the way.


    Ben Paddon

    I thought Clara’s ever-lasting goodbye in Series 8/9 was a result of Jenna not having definitely decided whether to stick around or not. “Last Christmas” gave her a good send-off and then she was back again! As with much of her character, it never felt properly planned out to me at all.

    Ah, see, that was less “will she stick around or not” and more the fact that Jenna Coleman had told Moffat she wanted to bow out at the end of series 8, then changed her mind after filming and said “Actually, can I come back and do the Christmas special?” and then, as they were working on “Last Christmas”, said that actually she’d like to come back and do one more series. So in that circumstance, it’s because they thought she wasn’t coming back, not because there was any uncertainty. She’d absolutely said “I’m done,” and then changed her mind afterwards. Twice.

    Also of note: there was a very, very early draft of “The Day of the Doctor” – so early it is, I think, just outlines and maybe a couple of opening scenes – that only had Clara in it because the only actor definitively under contract was Coleman, while Smith and Tennant were still up in the air. (There’s also an unfinished draft with Eccleston’s Doctor in place of the War Doctor, but as Eccleston declined to appear that one unfortunately never made it past the scene where they’re locked in the Tower of London.)



    There’s more death and resurrection in Moffat’s vision of Doctor Who than in the New Testament. Somewhat killed the drama for me, sorry – as did the negligible characterization, timey-wimey (gimmicky-wimmicky) plotting and taciturn continuity references. In my opinion, anyway.

    Anyway(!), yeah – re. Big Finish: I’d recommend the Klein trilogy (A Thousand Tiny Wings, Survival of the Fittest and The Architects of History) as essential listening.


    Ben Paddon

    Anyone who can watch Moffat’s run of the show and look at brilliant, layered, well-considered characters like Amy Pond and Clara Oswald, and call it “negligible characterization” frankly doesn’t deserve to own a television.



    > “Anyone who can watch Moffat’s run of the show and look at brilliant, layered, well-considered characters like Amy Pond and Clara Oswald, and call it “negligible characterization” frankly doesn’t deserve to own a television.” <

    I wouldn’t exactly describe them as “layered” or “well-considered”.

    Using Clara as an example, all the way through series seven we sold this notion of her as The Impossible Girl – and that’s it. The Doctor finds her interesting, so we’re supposed to find her interesting despite the fact we knew absolutely nothing about her except she did a bit of babysitting and spoke in sassy one-liners. We had no sense of what she wanted from life, why she wanted it and where she was going. To be fair, Day of the Doctor introduces a profession (teacher) – but again, all she really does is act as an ersatz moral compass for the audience when the Doctor’s faced with the Moral Dilemma of the Week and doesn’t look as though he’s going to act in the way we want him to. The only remotely ‘real’ side of the character I can think of is in Deep Breath when she has trouble accepting the newly regenerated Doctor. ‘Course, Moffat undercuts the drama and a potential moment of character development by then having his previous incarnation tell her over the phone that he’s the same man as the grumpy Scot with big eyebrows standing before her…

    I’m sorry, but to describe the character as layered and well-considered is a bit of a stretch. Moffat wraps his characters round the plot, not vice versa. Take River Song as another example of this. “I’m going to be someone important in your future, someone you trust absolutely,” she teased. Funny thing is, we never actually see that happen: Moffat gets the Doctor to say she’s someone he trusts (and loves) without giving us any indication of why that should be. Again, we’re *told* rather than shown because that would slow down Moffat’s posturing.

    I could go into the whole thing with Amy’s Doctor fixation (my, how that “Raggedy Man” tag conveniently papered over the problems with their relationship), pregnancy and split-reconciliation with Rory, but I’d just be repeating myself.



    I enjoyed Moffat’s time on Doctor Who. That’s really all that matters to me. The criticisms you’ve posted above don’t bother me at all, I enjoyed Clara’s (from 8 onward, anyway) and Amy’s characterisations, and your points don’t diminish that. I didn’t like the second half of Series 10 a whole lot, especially the Lie of the Land, but my cousins, who are the the right age to be the target audience for the show, loved it.

    By the way, what was that about Mac MacDonald not liking John Barrowman? When I read that I assumed that was going to be the focus of the thread, but maybe I’m the only person who doesn’t know about this.


    International Debris

    Moffat’s era has plenty of flaws, but I found it considerably more enjoyable than RTD’s era which was, for the majority of the first three series at least, horrifically broad and unengaging. It was only really with season 5 that it became a show I was excited about, rather than just watching it because it was Doctor Who.

    That said, I find Clara almost indefensible. An utter void of a character in both writing and performance. I’ve not seen Jenna Coleman in anything else, so maybe she’s a great actress who just had a bad job, but in Who she uses two facial expressions and swans through everything without an iota of seeming to give a shit. An utter non-character. As with any normal human being, I found Adric unbearable, but his death really shocked me. Clara’s death, on the other hand, had no effect on me whatsoever.



    BF’s Adric stories are consistently great, and a large part of that is down to Waterhouse himself. (And on the CD extras he sounds genuinely really enthused about doing them.)


    Ben Saunders

    Thank you Ben Paddon.

    I have to say, I’m one of the biggest Clara fans on the planet – but she WAS shit in Series 7. Nobody can deny this. She really came into her own after they dropped the Impossible Girl arc, which only lasted about six episodes anyway.

    Moffat wrote some of the best episodes of New Who and one or two of the worst, and he oversaw one of the most consistently good seasons the show ever saw (series eight, if you ignore kill the moon/forest of the night) and both Amy and Clara’s (eventual) development was done fantastically in my book.

    Amy’s development is going from somebody who is obsessed with and wants to fuck the Doctor, to ultimately ending up in a very close, purely platonic relationship with him, and choosing Rory over him. Clara’s is losing all of her earthly shackles and taking up adventuring full time, slowly turning into a sort of Doctor figure herself, and it is through her that we see just how destructive a relationship with the Doctor can be, and how he can go too far.

    I don’t want to start a flame war but I agree with the “overly broad” sentiment of RTD Who, although he did write some good stuff. There are some quite cataclysmic tonal issues in some of the episodes, and (though this has nothing to do with the writing) it does at times look incredibly cheap. Stuff like Father’s Day, though, could only have come from RTD-era Doctor Who, and that episode is fucking amazing.



    > “Moffat’s era has plenty of flaws, but I found it considerably more enjoyable than RTD’s era which was, for the majority of the first three series at least, horrifically broad and unengaging.” <

    Moffat’s stewardship was more consistent, I’ll give him that, but I can’t agree with you about Davies’ first three series. I don’t know if you’re referring to the varied mixture of styles they explored, but if that’s the case then, for me, that’s part of the joy of Doctor Who. Jumping from the wild, Douglas Adams-esque lunacy of New Earth to the grim horror of Tooth and Claw, only for that to be followed by the swooning stateliness of The Girl in the Fireplace makes sense in the programme’s “go anywhere, do anything” philosophy. As for unengaging, I personally found Rose’s character arc (to use a random example) extremely absorbing. I will admit that Davies’ vision of the show started to falter towards the end of his tenancy and it did get lazy (The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, The Next Doctor and The End of Time immediately spring to mind), but there was still a sense of – again – *joy* to what he was doing. I never felt that with Moffat after series six. Ben Paddon’s already said that series seven was pretty shit, but that felt like the point that Moffat had said everything he wanted to say, do everything he wanted to do, and was just recycling aspects of the mythology that he’d built up in his head and setting it to a very uninspired Movie of the Week concept with very little tonal variation. That’s not to say I disliked everything that followed, but I certainly felt that was the point where Moffat’s Who (for want of a better word) metastasised and just became an endless series of “ooh, look at this!” moments instead of cohesive narratives and characterisation.

    > “Moffat wrote some of the best episodes of New Who and one or two of the worst, and he oversaw one of the most consistently good seasons the show ever saw” <

    Five works. Six sort of works, too – but after that it runs out of steam. I admire The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (who doesn’t?), Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, The Eleventh Hour, The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, Heaven Sent, and take my hat off to him for commissioning strong episodes from other writers (The Lodger, The Doctor’s Wife, The Crimson Horror… I even enjoyed Hide while few other people did), but I can’t get with his vision of the show. That’s probably my failing, I respect your opinions, but… I don’t know. To be honest, I’m just glad the decks have been cleared and we’ve got a fresh slate.

    > “I don’t want to start a flame war” <

    No one would accuse you of that at all, and I’ve got not wish to cause one either. It’s all debate, innit?



    I think Clara’s character building suffered from the impossible girl plotline. By necessity she had no back-story, no actual reason to travel with the Doctor, no character growth and all that in order to be ‘mysterious’. I always found the splinters in time resolution to that rather underwhelming, but at least afterwards she was able to develop as a character more naturally.

    The extended leaving was a bore though. I was perfectly happy for her to die in that xmas special but then she dragged it out another series. Even then her death was a cop-out and she didn’t -really- die. Considering the amount of people that do die in Doctor Who that the companions are invulnerable and get a happy every after loophole every time. If anything, the companion that got the biggest shaft was Donna.

    It’s a shame we only got one series of Bill really, would loved to have seen her travelling with the Doctor longer. Although I guess with a female Doctor we’d have gone back to having sexual tension again -_-


    Ben Saunders

    Given that they deliberately removed the sexual tension for both Amy and Clara, one slowly and one suddenly, I would hope they wouldn’t go right back to it immediately after regenerating Twelve. I really didn’t enjoy any of the Rose stuff, at all, I think she’s pretty low on the list of companions, because I don’t like the soapy “oh I love you Doctor” stuff, and you can’t talk about ridiculous extended leavings without mentioning the entire of Rose’s participation in Series Four, where she comes back from a parallel universe, saves the world, then gets her own fucking Doctor clone to grow old and die with happily ever after. Yeugh.

    I would say I agree that Clara should have died in Face the Raven, but I treasure the scene where Twelve plays Clara’s Theme to her in the diner and spills his guys about her to her face without realising. That scene is just SO beautiful I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Her getting her own TARDIS and going off on her own adventures is a little ridiculous, but it does complete her “becoming the Doctor” character arc. I do think it was too much. Maybe.

    Both Clara and Bill are confirmed to have died for good at some point in Twice Upon a Time, given that they have testimonies.

    I think Series 8 and “The Pilot” from Season 10 are pretty much everything New Who should be, and am glad we get experimental episodes like Listen and Heaven Sent.

    I want to pretend Series 7 never happened. It is an ugly scab on the Moffat era, and I definitely don’t think it’s exactly how he wanted it to be, given its numerous issues, no matter how much he might have wanted it to be.


    Captain No-Name

    I think Series 5 & 10 are the two best Moffat seasons. And of those, I prefer 10. I’m actually really happy that he ended with what I think was his strongest season.

    The “everything and the kitchen sink” approach that Moffat takes seems to cause some viewers to respond “this is complex, and layered, and brilliant” but others to respond “this is incoherent, and messy, and full of dissatisfying underdeveloped bits.”

    For me, both Amy and Clara (especially Clara) fell into this latter category. So many ideas! I was praying for a companion who was more… well, straight-forward, clearly defined, self-contained. Bill was everything I wanted.

    There were only about 3 elements of Series 10 that threatened to tip into the problems of earlier Moffat seasons, for me…

    1. Bill’s backstory was *ever so slightly* over-laden by giving her a dead mother AND a step-mum, when there wasn’t really room for either. But compared to the way Amy and Clara were over-stuffed with ideas that didn’t have room to breathe, Bill’s excess of underdeveloped mothers is a much much smaller problem. (Although, wow, the ending to Lie of the Land really relies on Bill’s mum having a weight she just doesn’t have).

    2. in the middle of Series 10, there is this dense block of overcomplicated incoherent nonsense, but it is confined entirely within the 3-part Monk story. Everything before and after the monks was a joy to me.

    3. A pointless little gimmick running as a thread through the stories – the vault. RTD also did these, like Bad Wolf and Torchwood etc. But the most intrusive versions of this (the crack in the wall; the Doctor’s name; the Doctor’s impending death) were on Moffat’s watch. Unlike those example, the vault mystery was at least easier to follow and didn’t bend stories out of shape (the worst offender for that is the ending of Closing Time, a lovely episode that has its ending completely robbed by an intrusive story arc to do… well, whatever the hell that is).

    But to tell the truth, that’s pretty much all the complaining I can do about Series 10. On the whole, it was great. The list of things I like about it would fill a book.

    It intrigues me though, to hear Ben Saunders describe Series 8 in such glowing terms. For me, it has a companion who didn’t work left over from Series 7, and who therefore needs to be significantly reinvented (ultimately for the better, I agree); and a prototype version of the Capaldi Doctor weighed down with all this nastiness and inability to understand humans and inexplicable “Am I good man?” anxiety, while being a prick towards soldiers.

    I really wish the Series 10 version of Capaldi’s Doctor had arrived sooner.

    One more thing: while Series 8 was the most I’d enjoyed the show since Series 5, it still committed what I consider to be the single most ill-judged and misconceived detail ever to have appeared in the entirety of televised Doctor Who: the nasty and psychologically troubling concept that the deceased can feel cremation. Why would you say that to an audience full of young people?

    In a horror film, yeah. But not in Doctor Who. Literally the only time I think modern Doctor Who has got its tone staggeringly wrong.

    What d’you reckon, Ben Saunders? Anyone else?


    Ben Saunders

    You’ve basically just listed some of the greatest aspects of Series Eight, there. The Doctor and Clara’s new, unsure relationship dynamic, Clara suddenly having to deal with her hot little boy toy becoming an angry old man. Twelve not understanding humans and being incredibly blunt with them, leading to some hilarious moments and some quite dark moments where for example he doesn’t lament somebody’s death because it had to happen and he has more important things to worry about. The anti-soldier stuff is basically Time War PTSD. Outside of two episodes be writing for Series Eight is the most consistent we’ve seen in New Who, imo, except possible Series Five.

    The “am I a good man” stuff poses an interesting question, a question you really have to ask given that the Doctor is essentially playing God, going around the universe “fixing” things to his view of morality.

    I -loved- Don’t Cremate Me. It’s got to be the darkest thing the show has attempted since Seven manipulating Ace’s life or Turlough trying to commit suicide. I love Who when it’s dark – and kids can absolutely take it. It’s only adults who complain about these things. As long as parents are watching with their children and are there to support them through any spooky bits, you can get away with a lot of this stuff. I also enjoyed the horror of the Cybermen in Series Ten.

    Children love watching adult stuff and don’t so much enjoy being pandered to. Their parents can always remind them what they’re watching is fiction, as if they don’t know already.

    Moffat’s mum was in hospital and ultimately died during Series 10, which can probably go some way to explain the drop in quality in the Monk trilogy, which does start exceptionally well, and could also explain the weight he saw in the stuff about Bill’s mum, not seeing that we wouldn’t react the same way. Behind the scenes excuses aside, though, the Monk trilogy and Series Seven were not very good.


    Captain No-Name

    Interesting to hear things from your point of view, Ben. Literally just a difference in taste between us as far as Series 8 is concerned.

    I’m the kind of adult with a very good memory for how it felt to be a child, and I don’t tend to patronise or over-protect or excessively worry about sensitive audience members, but the cremation detail was wrong for the show. It’s all about context. I love black humour and well-explored but disturbing subjects in TV shows like Inside Number 9 or Black Mirror, but Doctor Who is just not the right forum for that level of psychological nastiness. It’s not even about being a kid, you know. As a 20-something year old it left a very bitter taste in my mouth.

    Shortly after watching the series 8 finale, I learnt that a friend of the family who had always watched the show with their parent, had lost that parent to cancer. This was the first time they were watching it on their own, and the death was very recent. It was so needlessly spiteful of the show to do that for the sake of a cheap bit of darkness.

    I had already been of the opinion that it was a tonal misstep, but learning the above just reassured me that I was right. The TV show has never been that inconsiderate, before or since. I don’t think it was editorially justified.

    Incidentally (and this is absolutely not a dig at you, Ben, or anybody else) I personally find the emphasis on “darkness” as a positive attribute of genre fiction to be a bit… adolescent. Some of my favourite bits of Doctor Who are the brightly coloured knockabout comedic bits. But I accept this is just a matter of taste.

    The only thing I would dispute is that “Am I a good man?” is not an interesting question. The answer to the question is obviously yes. We know it, the Doctor knows it. So why are we debating it? The Doctor’s job is to remember he’s a good man without being too much of an arrogant dick about it (Tennant and Pertwee’s Doctors certainly showcase this character trait at points).


    Ben Saunders

    My reaction to the Don’t Cremate Me scene was one of horror, but also one of “holy shit I can’t believe they’re actually doing this at what, 7pm on a Saturday evening?” Classic Doctor Who was always under fire for being too scary for children, and ousting Phillip Hinchcliffe and forcing the production team to make the show lighter directly contributed to its gulf in quality in the late 70s, and had a lasting negative effect which followed the show to its death.

    A lot of my favourite moments are light-hearted as well, and you might think DCM went too far, but Doctor Who has always been experimental, and always pushed the limits. I’d rather watch a show that went too far in places than one that never went far enough. I’d rather it take risks than play it safe.

    I think as long as we don’t get an overbearing feeling of bleakness/hopelessness, and we don’t show characters in unnecessary pain for any extended period of time, we’re alright. I wouldn’t want a DCM scene every week, but I don’t think it was “cheap”, as it adds to the feeling that this finale is serious business and there are some seriously evil things going on.

    I think avoiding certain topics because a small fraction of your audience might be irked by it is in itself problematic, but I gather that’s quite a big issue with many different opinions surrounding it.

    I’d take existential horror over “I remember Doctor Who being camp and low budget so let’s make New Who camp and low budget” any day of the week. I do prefer dark stuff, but for example I’m watching The Gunfighters right now and I think it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Not that good, but fun. And I like the moments of frivolity between One, Ian and Barbara in The Romans, for example.

    I think DCM is -as far as the show should go-, though, and it shouldn’t go there too often, or even again. But I don’t regret it doing so once.



    It’s threads like this that ‘mark all as read’ buttons were made for.



    > ” I do prefer dark stuff, but for example I’m watching The Gunfighters right now and I think it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Not that good, but fun. And I like the moments of frivolity between One, Ian and Barbara in The Romans, for example.”

    Again, going back to the comment I made above, what makes Doctor Who unique is that can vary the style that way. Certainly when you go from The Rescue to The Romans there’s a considerable difference: taut thriller to knockabout romp. It’s one of the joys of the programme that one week you can get something ‘light’ (for want of a better word) but engaging, then flip it to something quite dark. If I were to list my favourite stories there’d be a real mixture of adventure, comedy and horror.

    It’s one of the reasons why the show’s survived so long, I think.

    > “I think DCM is -as far as the show should go-, though, and it shouldn’t go there too often, or even again. But I don’t regret it doing so once.” <

    Maybe – but, again, “scaring the little buggers” (as Robert Holmes said) has always been part of the remit, too. If DCM pushed it too far then that’s par for the course and necessary for establishing creative ground. There’s absolutely no way the show would’ve got away with that during the JN-T era with all the restrictions on what the show could and couldn’t do. (I remember Ben Aaronovitch saying he had to bring in the two dalek factions in Remembrance because he was told you couldn’t have two people shooting at each other.) There’s no doubt in my mind that Hinchliffe would’ve allowed DCM, though – if only for the reaction from Mary Whitehouse.


    Captain No-Name

    It’s funny, the first Virgin NA has some dreadful business in it. I don’t own a copy of Timewyrm:Genesys, so I can’t check for sure, but from memory the Doctor says something like Ace shouldn’t complain about being sexually objectified by a historical character because he’s from a different era and that makes it okay; and I’m sure I remember a bit where a concubine girl of about 13 (who I think is described as being naked or topless) says something like “shall I pleasure you now sir?”

    I was 16 when I read that, and I just sighed a heavy sigh and thought “what the fuck is this?”

    Obviously topless/naked underage prostitutes would never have happened on Doctor Who on TV in 1991, but they happened in print. Smaller (older) audience, different medium etc. And eventually, use of the F word in Transit did result in the editors being told to think twice about their audience.

    But really, I can’t see what you gain from adding material like that to Doctor Who. Is it pushing boundaries? Or is it just editorial misjudgment?

    I like experimental and spooky Doctor Who. The programme scared me as a child. I was terrified of Mr Sin, but in a fun way. I’ve always approved of the Hinchcliffe/Holmes “tea-time terror for tots” concept. But there is nothing in classic Doctor Who comparable to that cremation business from Series 8. It’s in a different order of horror.

    Look at it this way: in Series 10, Bill gets a big cartoony hole shot through her torso. She then gets turned into a Cyberman, and experiences a dissonance between her human identity and her mechanical appearance. Ultimately, she has a happy ending. Everything is well judged.

    All the Cyber-horror and the drama is couched in quite fantastical terms. But in such a way that if you feel a particular resonance with a plot-point, you can identify with it as a metaphor for your experience. Someone who experiences body dysmorphia (for example) might relate to the experience of seeing a monstrous Cyberman in the mirror that repulses them, like Bill does. Someone who is transgender might appreciate the Master being played by John Simm and Michelle Gomez. Fantasy allows you to play in metaphor in a way that is valuable and profound and meaningful.

    Now compare this to the cremation business. The reason I described it as “cheap” darkness is because it doesn’t play in fantasy in any useful or cathartic way. It just points at the cruel reality that people you love get burned to ashes and then says “imagine if they could FEEL the fire?” which just felt spiteful to me.

    In 50+ years of TV Doctor Who, this is literally the only time I think it has objectively overstepped a mark. I’m happy to call it a one-off, and maybe you’re right this is the price you pay for being experimental. I approve of experimentation, honestly I do.

    I just think you could easily remove the cremation business from the Series 8 finale, and it would play out more or less the same, but without needlessly distressing the thousands of people in your audience who have recently suffered a bereavement.


    Plastic Percy

    I like that Robert Holmes quote, “scaring the little buggers”, it’s not a world away from Steven Moffat’s own “traumatising an entire generation, that’s what it’s all about”.

    And I agree that Doctor Who should, and does, have a wildly changing style and theme. One week a taut thriller, the next a ghost story, a mad romp through time and space, a large space opera, an introverted character piece etc.

    What really gets to me is how many fans seem to want it to be a doom fest, thinking the only way out of the TARDIS should be in a coffin and the show should be a bloodbath.


    Ben Saunders

    I think swearing and topless underage slave girls is a bit different from existential horror, to be honest. I hear there’s quite a bit of swearing and rape and Ace being extremely sexual in the VNA’s, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that – it feels like edginess for edginess sake – but I haven’t actually read any of them so I can’t really comment.

    I asked somebody else what they thought of DCM and got this: “It’s a story about confronting death and loss, that means facing up to the existential anxiety of it as well. What Dark Water proposes (before firmly shooting it down) is not much worse than any popular concept of Hell.”

    I think most of the people watching can discern fantasy from reality.
    Out of curiosity what do you think about them removing the beheading scene from the Robin Hood episode in response to the (then) recent spate of beheading videos from ISIS?


    Captain No-Name

    The oscillating nature of Doctor Who is one of its best features. Few shows could make such a positive out of the fact they vary so much from week to week.


    Ben Saunders

    I absolutely agree, Captain No-Name. It’s been “go anywhere, do anything” from day one, and very few other shows have that freedom. There are so many individual little things about Doctor Who that go into making it what it is, and that’s one of the big ones. Escapism is another, strong characterisation and just plain damn good writing (most of the time… well, some of the time… maybe) also help.


    Captain No-Name

    Yeah, the New Adventures suffer a bit in places from seemingly not having someone sensible saying “are you sure that’s a good idea?” A bit like early Torchwood.

    The beheading scene is a really interesting example to bring up, Ben. And one I’d forgotten.

    Under normal circumstances in 21st century Britain, a beheading is quite a cartoon thing, rather like Bill getting a hole through her torso in Series 10. Yes, both injuries could theoretically happen, but they have an unreality about them. I think of Vyvyan leaning out of the train window in The Young Ones.

    You could easily behead someone in, say, an episode of Horrible Histories. The actor would just stagger around with their jumper over their head, while another actor sticks his head through the bottom of a basket. Children would just find that funny.

    In an episode like Robot of Sherwood, a beheading fits in perfectly. It’s a recognisable trope of historical fiction, and an opportunity for some slapstick. It wouldn’t normally have upset anyone. Especially as the Sheriff was a robot.

    But the unfortunate timing of the episode in relation to specific news stories of the time meant that the production team had to be sensitive to the subject of beheading. For a brief cultural moment, beheading wasn’t a cartoony unreal thing, but something with a topical resonance which could have risked looking distasteful. I think the BBC made the right call in being sensitive on that occasion.

    However I don’t think the beheading was a tonal misstep in and of itself. It was just one of those things (like the shootout in the TV Movie) that might not have been wise to broadcast at that specific moment in history. To my mind, it would have been perfectly acceptable to reinstate the beheading for the DVD release (is it included as a special feature?)


    International Debris

    Moffat’s stewardship was more consistent, I’ll give him that, but I can’t agree with you about Davies’ first three series. I don’t know if you’re referring to the varied mixture of styles they explored, but if that’s the case then, for me, that’s part of the joy of Doctor Who.

    Nah, I’m referring to farting aliens, soap opera style family stuff, The Doctor falling in love with his companion, the overly bright, cheap look of the show, Big Brother and The Weakest Link, a ton of completely generic, forgettable stories, Captain Jack, and just a lot of really mawkish stuff all over the place. It just doesn’t feel like an interesting programme to me, and at its very worst it seems like the early McCoy years with a bigger budget. Nasty, cheesy, shallow nonsense.

    I know people cite it being because it happens just post-Time War, but I find the idea that someone like The Doctor, with all the experience he has and all the people’s travelled with falling in love with Rose Tyler, of all people, utterly absurd.

    The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances is the only series 1 story I find remotely watchable. The Girl in the Fireplace and The Satan Pit are the only ones in series 2. Series 3 fares better with Gridlock, Blink, Human Nature and Utopia. I’d probably like the Master two parter more if his character wasn’t so wacky. I just can’t get my brain to accept The Master dancing to Girls Aloud. Series 4 I like a lot more, it feels like RTD started taking a lot more risks at that point. Although the TARDIS towing Earth home is pretty cringe-worthy.

    Overall, it’s just not my kind of programme. It’s definitely a big, fun, family-friendly adventure show, which was probably what it needed to be to bring the programme back. But if it wasn’t Doctor Who, I wouldn’t even consider watching it to be honest.


    Captain No-Name

    Don’t you think Gridlock is quite like early McCoy though? A world of cat people in everlasting traffic jams seems to me very like the same kind of fictional universe that brought us alien tourist buses visiting 1950s holiday camps and cleaning robots taking over a tower block.

    I like both Series 1-4 and the McCoy years (I’m in the seemingly rare camp of thinking Time and the Rani is the only crap McCoy story) but I’d say RTD Who at its worst is Love & Monsters, and I’d rather watch Season 24 over that any day.


    International Debris

    Plot-wise, it definitely fits a similar universe to Paradise Towers, certainly, but I suppose I’m thinking more the production style of it being absurdly over the top and almost cartoonish.

    Oh God, I forgot Love & Monsters. The only story I’d put on a par with Time & the Rani in terms of being utterly unwatchable.


    Ben Saunders

    Father’s Day is incredible, as is Dalek, and at least Bad Wolf if not also Parting of the Ways. The End of the World, Tooth and Claw, School Reunion, The Impossible Planet and maybe The Satan Pit and parts of the Cybermen two-parter are all alright to decent as well, but they do have their problems, mostly tonal.

    I think the mystery behind what’s in the voidsphere and who the Army of Ghosts are is incredible, and the reveal of the Daleks and the Cybermen is fucking brilliant. Doomsday then starts strongly with the rivalry and banter between the two factions, but VERY quickly descends into utter tosh – far too many fucking Daleks (who all immediately die anyway so what’s the fucking point), trying to make us care for the death of some woman who was only in one episode (Yvonne), killing the metaphor of the tear ducts by having her actually cry fucking oil, and then the awful epilogue with Rose crying for 15 minutes, ending on the Doctor almost proclaiming his love for her, which is absolutely disgusting.

    “Bad Wolf Bay” is a neat little coincidence, though. And there are a lot of existential questions to be raised over whether Jackie and alt. Pete should really get together – not to mention alt. Pete suddenly swooping in and saving Rose is complete bullshit, especially in the way it’s portrayed (they should have gotten sucked into the void, at least a bit).

    I’m not going to go through Series 3 because I think it’s probably the worst one, but 4 was an improvement, and the specials were alright.


    Ben Saunders

    I’ll just say I enjoyed RTD’s era at the time, but looking back on it is, for at least 60% of it, incredibly embarassing, and I wonder if to non-Who fans it was -always- this embarassing, or it it’s only shit in retrospect now that we have so much better, more mature and filmic dramas on television.


    Captain No-Name

    So, to summarise, Ben – the memory cheats, and there should be no hanky panky in the TARDIS.

    Where do you stand on Hawaiian shirts?



    I’ll throw myself in the ring as only ever being a casual Who fan. I was banned from watching it as a kid as Dad thought it was stupid back then (Peter Davidson? years) so I’ve only ever seen Who as an adult – a few Tom Baker classics way back when, on UK Gold and nuWho when it aired.

    And yes, it was embarassing, childish, cringy rubbish some of the time. Farting aliens, sassy daleks, ‘ghostbusters’, weakest link, etc spring to mind.

    I think the issue was that RTD equated ‘fun’ with ‘wacky’. Yes, Doctor Who needs to have fun in it, but wackiness always feels out of place when there’s death and destruction going on at the same time. It’s hard to feel any real peril for a central character when the deathly fate before her is a robot doing Anne Robinson impressions.


    Ben Saunders

    That sounds about right, to be honest Lily. Why the fucking Daleks are running game shows from five million years ago I’ll never know. I do like that episode, but it is absolutely ridiculous for just about all of its runtime, sans when the Daleks actually turn up and the teleportation twist. I quite like the Weakest Link bit, but the Trinny and Susannah bit can go.

    I like them No-Name, but you have to be either John-Nathan Turner, Aaron Barrett or my dad to pull th m off.


    International Debris

    Father’s Day is incredible, as is Dalek, and at least Bad Wolf if not also Parting of the Ways. The End of the World, Tooth and Claw, School Reunion, The Impossible Planet and maybe The Satan Pit and parts of the Cybermen two-parter are all alright to decent as well, but they do have their problems, mostly tonal.

    Lots of episodes I can’t stand here. School Reunion and Tooth & Claw, plot-wise, just seem to be brimming over with cliches. I’m sure School Reunion was pretty scary for kids watching it when it was on, so that’s hard to criticise, but given that it’s basically something The Simpsons did in one of the Treehouse of Horrors, I found it really hard to like. Not to mention Anthony Head’s stereotypical bad guy performance. Tooth and Claw I found absurdly generic, and has the series two 10 & Rose smug-fest of a partnership, which I find unbearable. The End of the World, Dalek, Father’s Day and the Dalek two parter all have lots of great ideas, but the whole ‘feel’ of the RTD era just ruins all the potential for me. Broad performances, cheap appearance, and yes, as Lily says, the humour is ‘wacky’ rather than ‘witty’.


    Captain No-Name

    I winced at the short-sightedness of the TV spoofs in Bad Wolf. Obviously TV is always a relic of the time in which it was made, and context is crucial; TV programmes do not exist in a void. But it just seemed too narrowly focussed on the present moment in British TV 2005, and… not that funny really.

    My explanation is that the Station is so vast that they have basically resurrected every single TV format ever, from across the history of the medium. Celebrity Love Island, you name it. Don’t Scare the Hare. Naked Attraction will be in there somewhere. But – weirdly – we happened only to see the shows that had resonance in 2005.

    Lily, your talk of the wackiness has reminded me: people often seem to cite the burping bin in Rose as the epitome of wackiness, but I was more bothered by wackiness like John Barrowman pulling a gun out of his rectum. And that rather odd moment where the reporter is talking to Margaret Slitheen in the toilet cubicle in Boom Town and she says something like “ooh, sounds like you made it just in time” in response to a fart noise. Because you would say that wouldn’t you? If you were a reporter. And someone was having a shit.


    International Debris

    Oh yeah, you can definitely work a way around the Weakest Link thing (Big Brother is less of an issue as it’s still going). But even then, it’s just hard to watch without really cringing. To be fair, I think Anne Droid is actually a good joke, but it’s a sitcom joke. The best Who humour comes either from The Doctor’s eccentricities, or the absurdities of the universe itself. Or both, in the case of City of Death.


    Ben Saunders

    Bad Wolf would probably make a pretty good Mitchell and Webb sketch.



    Is this RTD-bashing down to the fact that Davies recognised the programme has always been a family show and, therefore, drew on cultural elements that cross-generational elements in the audience could recognise? That doesn’t automatically mean dumbing-down.

    Is the Moffat-love down to the fact that he made it all dark and sexy? That’s adolescent thinking, not necessarily a formula for good drama.


    Ben Saunders

    RTD-bashing is because of overbearing campiness, farting aliens, cute little globs of fat as a threatening enemy, his ridiculous handling of the Daleks, and the overall soapiness of his era, as well as some low production values.

    Moffat-love is down to the fact that nearly all of the best episodes of New Who are by him, and he did make the show take itself more seriously. A higher budget and more consistent writing works wonders. Moffat-era stuff has very little of the horrific dating that RTD-era stuff has, with the exception of his constant mentions of things like Twitter, and I think in one episode, Tumblr. Although that sort of works for the out-of-touch Eleventh Doctor. Moffat’s stuff is nowhere near perfect, I’m aware.


    Ben Saunders

    Also, in my opinion, David Tennant’s portrayal of the Doctor is… certainly low down on the list of my favourites. He is good in things like The Girl in the Fireplace but he’s not so good when he’s being “so sorry” and “afraid of no ghosts.”



    did Moffat write that episode where rory is inside a cake and then they go off to deal with shit vampires? i remember seeing that and i haven’t touched doctor who since (apart from that one where they’re at a school and some kid asks some teacher inappropriate questions about his military service) because what the fuck was that? it was really bizarre and felt more like i was watching an episode of Merlin than anything doctor who-related


    Ben Saunders

    I didn’t like that episode but it’s absolutely not “stop watching the entire show” worthy lmao.

    I don’t actually hate RTD, I think he’s a pretty cool dude, I just think his era of Doctor Who has a lot of cringeworthy shit in it


    Ben Saunders

    And no Toby Whithouse wrote that episode



    >Is this RTD-bashing … Is the Moffat-love …

    I think for me, I get the feeling that a lot of people in general look back to RTD as being flawless and brilliant in bringing back Who. If anything the fandom in general seems to bash Moffat more. This thread, if anything has been about bashing them both equally.

    RTD had some bloody awful episodes, which were cringy with ott wacky humour. Moffat had some bloody awful series long plots, which were over-clever, over-complicated and failed to deliver. The thing I find more disappointing is that Moffat era seems to have had more episodes that have been entirely forgettable. I’ve had to go look up some of the references in this thread as I couldn’t remember the eps. Has Moffat done more series than RTD?

    However, comparing the bad points of the showrunners doesn’t deny that both absolutely had wonderful highs as well. It’s just more fun to pick at the scabby bits. :)


    Ben Saunders

    Moffat has done one more series and a couple extra specials compared to RTD, and was showrunner for seven years (holy shit really?!?!) to RTD’s five.



    Thank you.

    It’ll be interesting to see what Chibnall brings. Looking up his history, his Who/Torchwood episodes have been entirely fogettable middle of the series stuff.

    Excluding Countrycide that is, that shit gave me nightmares for weeks.


    International Debris

    Is this RTD-bashing down to the fact that Davies recognised the programme has always been a family show and, therefore, drew on cultural elements that cross-generational elements in the audience could recognise? That doesn’t automatically mean dumbing-down.

    Is the Moffat-love down to the fact that he made it all dark and sexy? That’s adolescent thinking, not necessarily a formula for good drama.

    Well, I’ve said myself that I can see exactly why RTD was successful and why his version was kind of necessary for its time, but it’s just not my kind of show. Moffat’s era had a lot of problems – some ridiculous ‘complex’ plotting that went absolutely nowhere, especially in Capaldi’s era – but overall I find his series’ worst stuff as failed experiments rather than RTD’s worst, which are just really cringeworthy, campy nonsense. Moffat himself occasionally went in that direction – riding up the Shard on a motorbike – and I hated it just as much then too, but it was rare in comparison.

    There’s also the sense of scale. RTD’s era was full of alien invasions of London or Cardiff, people dying everywhere, massive explosions. Moffat’s Earth stories, in comparison, tended to be in more rural, cut-off environments. Rose, Martha and Donna were from London. As soon as series 5 started and the companion was in a small village, it just took me straight back to Pertwee/UNIT stuff, The Stones of Blood, Image of the Fendahl, The Curse of Fenric, the slightly folk-horror esque atmosphere. The Journey Home and The Big Bang are both ‘end of the universe’ stories, but RTD did it with billions of Daleks flying everywhere, every companion imaginable, and two 10th Doctors. Moffat did it with the Doctor, his companions, and a rusty Dalek. I just feel like the Moffat era managed – or at least attempted – interesting stories without the unnecessary bombast that RTD often gave the show.

    So the RTD-bashing is partially down to taste, and partially down to a certain style which I think cheapens the show. And the Moffat-love is because his era took more risks and became an inherently more interesting show because of it.

    It’ll be interesting to see what Chibnall brings. Looking up his history, his Who/Torchwood episodes have been entirely fogettable middle of the series stuff.

    He did write the ‘female alien shags men to death’ and ‘female Cyberman has boobs and heels’ stories of Torchwood, which has me worried for his handling of the first female Doctor, although I’ve been informed he’s written much better female parts in Broadchurch.
    I like his Silurian two-parter a lot, and The Power of Three is pretty good, although it does feel more like a RTD-era story than a Moffat one in many ways. But yes, as head writer of the first two series of Torchwood, and pap like 42, his Who history isn’t exactly glowing.


    Captain No-Name

    Moffat has done one more series and a couple extra specials compared to RTD, and was showrunner for seven years (holy shit really?!?!) to RTD’s five.

    I’m just going to pedantically point out that Moffat did 6 series to Moffat’s 4. Davies did a bonus year of specials in 2009, but Moffat did an extra Christmas special plus the 50th anniversary.

    Quite when the showrunner’s job begins and ends is very difficult to pin down, as Moffat seems to have been pointing out in every interview for the last thousand years, but at the very least Moffat did 8 years rather than 7 (Matt Smith debuted on the very first day of 2010, so Moffat would have started work in 2009; Capaldi bowed out towards the end of Dec 2017).

    Apart from that, Ben’s maths was spot on.

    The thing I find more disappointing is that Moffat era seems to have had more episodes that have been entirely forgettable.

    This is a good point Lily. Something I’ve noticed is that I can always summon to mind the name of any given RTD episode. Or, if someone names one, I instantly know which story they are talking about. The only iffy title I find is “Planet of the Dead” which is actually about a double decker bus in a desert.

    Moffat’s seasons on the other hand are jam packed with stories that I simply cannot remember the titles of. Sometimes people will say a story title (it’ll be something like “The Time of the Wedding of the Wife of the Doctor’s Husbands”) and I’ll have to scour my brain and/or consult Wikipedia.

    That Davros 2-parter was cursed with two annoyingly unmemorable titles. And “The Bells of St John” was just taking the piss.

    his Who history isn’t exactly glowing.

    My default position whenever Doctor Who has a fresh start is to incline towards optimism. However my critical faculties keep pointing out to me that Chibnall’s contributions to Doctor Who thus far don’t really warrant optimism. So I just keep telling that part of my brain to shut up and stop being a spoil sport. I’m hoping Chibnall will surpass everyone’s expectations. It must be very different, writing a script, to being in charge.

    I was very optimistic of Moffat after his excellent contributions 2005-2009, and his debut as showrunner (The Eleventh Hour) was brilliantly strong. But as Series 5 went on, my optimism waned, and I hated Series 6&7. I soon realised I preferred Moffat as a guest writer to being showrunner. It wasn’t until Series 10 that he helmed a series I really really liked.

    So I can’t see why Chibnall shouldn’t go in the opposite trajectory in my affections, and turn out to be a way better showrunner than he is guest writer.


    Captain No-Name

    Moffat did 6 series to Moffat’s 4

    * RTD’s 4.




    RTD’s four bollocks?


    Ben Saunders

    Moff says he’s shit at coming up with titles and his son came up with a couple of them.

    Nobody knows what Magician’s Apprentice/Witch’s Familiar actually means. The Bells of Saint John refers to The Doctor recieving a call on his Saint John’s… Ambulance(?) emblazoned TARDIS phone


    Ben Saunders

    Twice Upon A Time is a really nice title, imo.



    Nobody knows what Magician’s Apprentice/Witch’s Familiar actually means.

    Am I missing something? I thought it was pretty clear that they were both descriptions of Clara, defining her by her relationships to the Doctor and Missy in the two episodes.

    I quite liked the mysterious nature of them and the way they didn’t give away much about the story.


    Ben Saunders

    I think that’s the intention, yeah. Time Heist is a based title, too.


    Captain No-Name

    I thought it was pretty clear that they were both descriptions of Clara, defining her by her relationships to the Doctor and Missy in the two episodes.

    That was my conclusion, yes. But I always have to strain to remember those two titles, and I’m not at all sure which way round they go.

    It might sound very boring of me, but when a show has lots of episodes I always prefer titles to be memorably attached to the experience of watching the episode. I actually have the same problem with modern Red Dwarf. Early Red Dwarf has memorable titles like Bodyswap and Future Echoes, which are a piece of cake to remember, and easy to mentally assign to plots; latter day Dwarf has titles I find more bothersome like Samsara and Can of Worms for goodness sake.

    The Bells of St John is an abysmal title. Yes, the TARDIS phone rings at the beginning. But that story is really about being trapped in the WiFi, meeting modern Clara and driving up the Shard on a motorbike. None of which I find easy to mentally attach to “The Bell’s of St John.”





    Captain No-Name

    Perfect suggestion, Dave.


    Seb Patrick

    Why is Fear Her called Fear Her though


    Captain No-Name

    Oh good point, Seb. It really ought to have some kind of drawing-based title.

    Maybe they watched the rushes back and realised Chloe wasn’t scary enough, so they thought they’d subtly influence the viewer by instructing us on how to respond.


    International Debris

    Yes, the Moffat era titles are definitely more… abstract in places. The Power of Three is another, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was about until a rewatch. A Chibnall one there, too.
    That said, The Long Game, Smith and Jones, Partners in Crime and Midnight aren’t the most evocative titles of their respective threats. Obviously The Long Game makes sense in context of the series, but the episode itself, less so.

    I see it as a similar split to the earlier Who titles and the JNT era ones. In the ’70s and late ’60s, there were SO many The Something of Something titles that unless they’re really specific, they do begin to merge into one. The Seeds of Death, The Robots of Death, City of Death, The Hand of Fear, Planet of Evil, etc. As soon as JNT took over, we get titles like Full Circle, Warriors’ Gate, Earthshock, Snakedance, Mawdryn Undead. As his tenure went on I think he stopped giving a shit and we went back to Mark of the Rani and The Curse of Fenric.

    There are some Moffat titles that I just don’t know at all, including most of series 9 and 10s. I still can’t remember the last episode series 10 at all.


    Plastic Percy

    I think The Long Game works. We do learn that the creature and the Editor have been manipulating Human society for a long time, and even the Doctor takes the time to point out that the future isn’t how it should be. It’s only later that we learn the events of that episode were part of an even bigger conspiracy orchestrated by the Daleks.



    Why is Fear Her called Fear Her though

    Oh good point, Seb. It really ought to have some kind of drawing-based title.

    They should change Chloe’s name to Ola, and call it Cry Ola.

    No? *trudges off*

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