“When you run with the Doctor, it feels like it will never end. But however hard you try, you can’t run forever. Everybody knows that everybody dies, and nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark, if he ever, for one moment, accepts it. Everybody knows that everybody dies. But not every day. Not today. Some days are special. Some days are so, so blessed. Some days, nobody dies at all. Now and then, every once in a very long while, every day in a million days, when the wind stands fair, and the Doctor comes to call.”
Dance With Me “It’s one, two, three and suddenly I see it at a glance. She’s radiant, and confident, and born to take this chance. I taught her well, I planned it all, I just forgot romance. Vlad, how could you do this? How will we get through this? I never should have let them dance.”
The Time of Our Lives (Steven Moffat’s final DWM Column)
You know something I don’t know. You know who the next Doctor is. At least, I think that will be out by the time you read this. Old Chibs (as he must always now be known) is playing his cards close to his chest, and won’t tell me a thing. I attempted to give him some sage advice on the subject of secrecy, but he gave me a look, as if to say, “Seriously, have you checked your own record on this??” and had me removed by security. Again. But it’s comfy here, in my skip in the Roath Lock car park, and Russell is good company. When we’re both not crying, that is.
Actually, I’m not comfy at all. I’ve got everything crossed. Can Old Chibs pull it off? Can we actually have a new Doctor that’s a proper surprise, the way it’s supposed to be? I do hope so! But you know all that by now, out there, in the glorious new dawn.
And the fact is, I have no more news for you. Barely any secrets to keep. One more Special on Christmas Day, and I’ll be gone before the end credits. A brand-new team will go blazing into action, and in the far future, vast new Andrew Pixley Archives will form in the void.
But frankly, even I don’t care about me - this is all about Peter Capaldi. I saw him at the end, you know. The very last shot you see of him as the Doctor is in fact (brilliant scheduling by amazing producer, Pete Bennett) the very last thing Peter did on the show. Just as popping out the TARDIS and confusing Strax was the very first thing he did in Deep Breath, all those centuries ago. Since then he’s faced down a Mummy on the Orient Express, talked down a Zygon war using a couple of empty boxes, punched a wall for four and a half billion years, misunderstood the romantic intent of a puddle, decked a racist, insulted Santa, had a 24-year date in a restaurant, and played gooseberry when Missy met herself. He’s been gentle and fierce and rude and kind, and now with a wave of his hand and a flap of his cuff, he’s striding into the sunset to give it a piece of his mind. Be there for him on Christmas Day - Scotland’s finest in his final hour. He’ll break your heart and save your galaxy, all over again.
It was funny, that last day. I was in the studio for most of it, which is the first time I’ve ever managed that on Doctor Who. Normally, there’s so much else to do - new season to plan, new scripts to write, new stars to find. But now, with my time on the show winding down, with desks falling empty, and computers falling silent, and endless rounds of goodbye drinks, there’s nowhere else for me to be.
Brian Minchin is here today. And we sit and laugh and chat, and marvel at Peter’s extraordinary final performance. Every take is different and beautiful in a new way, and how the hell are we supposed to choose just one? It’s not goodbye to Brian, I’m delighted to say - he’s joining me and Sue at Hartswood Films, and we have dark and mighty plans. Rachel Talalay, our finale specialist, is directing. She’s come back to see number 12 off into the shades but I very much hope she’ll be directing more Doctor Whos in the future. She keeps hinting that she won’t, though.
“You’re already directing the new one - you’re doing the regeneration!” “Yes, but apart from that.” “You probably know who the new Doctor is, and everything!” “No, I don’t” “You had a secret dinner with Matt Strevens and Old Chibs!” “It wasn’t secret!” “Well, I didn’t know about it.” “No-one thought to tell you, it was just for people who are… you know…” “What?” “Involved.”
I was alright after a bit, and the nurse with the oxygen was very nice.
“Who’s the new Doctor?” I demanded to know from my stretcher, mostly in hand signals. “I don’t know,” lied Rachel, probably. “Just the initials.” “I don’t know.” “Will you tell me if I cry?” “You’re already crying.” “… Would you like ten pounds?”
There’s another goodbye coming up - and frankly it’s right here. My old friend, the wise and kind King of Numbers himself, Tom Spilsbury, is leaving this magazine. It’s funny, we’ve done almost everything in parallel in Doctor Who. He was assistant editor on the mag, while I was an occasional writer for Russell’s era. He became editor only shortly before I became showrunner. And now, at the end, we’re tumbling out the door together. We’ve tumbled out of quite a few doors together, but I’m damned if I’m telling you which pubs. Once a month, for so many years, Tom would remind me that this column was due. No, that’s a lie. He’d remind me several times a month. Towards the end, in a very high voice, with crying. Well, no more! These days are over. Tom’s entirely brilliant era of DWM is drawing to a close with every word you read, my time on Doctor Who is vanishing like breath on a mirror, and this column too is about to pop out of existence.
It’s funny how things you take for granted just disappear, isn’t it? That school you went to every day and then never go back to, that friend you part from laughing and never see again, all those doors that click behind you without you knowing they’re closing forever. I first wrote Doctor Who in 2004, and I very much hoped I’d get to write it again. Then I wrote more, and then so much more, until I thought it might go on forever. I remember at some awards dinner, telling Brian I loved my job so much I couldn’t imagine ever stopping. In other more melancholy moments I knew that everything ends and wondered what the very last words I’d ever write about Doctor Who would be. Well, the time has come, and here they are.
Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken AG c.~1942 - serial number 1110T. 7,65x21mm Parabellum tracer rounds, eight-round removable box magazine, toggle-lock short recoil semi-automatic, manual and grip safeties, anodized brass flashlight barrel sleeve with battery slot. The user’s skin conductivity would bridge the gap between the two brass grip plates, and light up the flashlight attachment through a wire running from a slot on the right side of the frame to the batteries on the barrel sleeve. These pistols were used by very few officers of the Reichssicherheitsdienst bodyguards during WW2.
Behind the Scenes of The Runaway Bride (Part Seven)
Excerpt from Benjamin Cook’s interview with David Tennant in DWM 378
BC: Hello, David. Are you scared of spiders?
DT: I don’t mind spiders, actually. I don’t love a lot of things like that, but spiders, for some reason, I feel quite comfortable around. Moths are the ones that freak me out. It’s something to do with the way that, if they get squished, they turn to dust. There’s something very wrong about that. It all feels a bit Gothic.
BC: What about weddings?
DT: I’m scared of weddings, obviously, yeah. [Laughs] Actually, I’ve always had a good time at weddings. I’ve missed a few friends’ weddings over the years, which is always disappointing, ‘cos this job isn’t one where you can say, ‘Ooh, I need Saturday off to go to a wedding.’ But ones that I’ve been to - in recent years, anyway - I’ve had a great time at. They’re happening less frequently, though, aren’t they? People don’t really feel the need to get married so much.
BC: Now that you’re famous, do you get invited to celebrity weddings of people that you barely know?
DT: I’ve never had that. Why haven’t I had that? Now that you mention it, I’m a bit annoyed about that. What’s coming up? Somebody from Hollyoaks must be getting married or something…
BC: According to this week’s Heat magazine, Michelle Heaton and Andy Scott-Lee are tying the knot. It is - I quote - ‘the pop wedding of the week.’
DT: Why haven’t I been invited? I’m not happy
BC: Sod ‘em. Tom Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes is more up your street, isn’t it?
DT: But I wasn’t invited to that one either. They didn’t get in touch. My invitation probably just got lost in the post.
When asked to consider Steven’s finest moments, I was overwhelmed by images. Heores and villains. Battles and beauty. Monsters and children. Then I realised that I’d only got as far as 20 minutes into The Empty Child -round about the joke about Marxism and West End musicals - and had to sit down for a cup of tea.
I think, as fans, we can focus on the detail - Mondasian Cybermen! - at the risk of missing the bigger picture. That picture being, in Steven’s case, that we’ve just seen one of the greatest sci-fi body-horror thriller action-adventure romances (plus comedy) of our entire lives, beamed on to our TVs for less than 10p, written by a world-class master of his craft who’s now so in command of his talent, he’s riffing on ephemera from 1966 and turning it into gold, whisky, sex, whatever turns you on best. We truly do not know how lucky we are to have a man of this calibre writing our favourite show.
Since leaving Doctor Who, I’m approached, now and then, by strangers who remember my withered husk from Doctor Who Confidential. There’s a glint in their eye as they say, “What d’you think of it now?” An awful lot of those people are dying for me to trash it. I think, genuinely, they’re trying to achieve an intimacy. I think, nastily, they want me to say something bad so they can take it online and have some strange sort of fun. And when I say, “I love it!” they often think I’m lying.
I love it. I love every episode the man’s written. I love the other episodes he’s rewritten and I think few people know how many that is. I love the detail, I love the scale, I love the people, I love the jokes. I love the fact that Steven himself is quite down on The Beast Below. The whole of the UK on a spaceship? The whole of the UK is a spaceship? I’d retire there and then, complete. Nope, for him, it just wasn’t good enough.
I love the man, in truth, I love his mind, I love his standards, I love his rigour, his darkness, his kindness, his ambition, his love of TV. I love the man who wrote the very last line of Coupling, which shows what a lovely human being he is.
I love his women. Consider, in bad fiction, which is most fiction, how women’s roles, which have suffered so many years of neglect that they can be summarised as ‘women’s roles’, fall into the same old categories. They are reduced to the Mother, the Wife, the Daughter, the Bride. Agents of sex and childbirth, nothing more.
But then look at what Steven does with those categories. The Bride stands tall at her reception - literally in her wedding dress - and summons the Doctor back itno existence with an Old Maid’s rhyme. When the Bride has a Daughter, it’s a vital part of a galaxy-spanning revenge. The Daughter then becomes the Wife, a woman of such swagger and joy and tenderness, the Time Lord finally falls in love. We’re not done yet. A lesser category pops up, the Dominatrix, complete with eye-patch, but don’t worry, the Bride who’s the Mother of the Daughter who’s the Wife kills her stone dead! Then a lesbian travels the universe and everyone adores her. And nestling at the heart of the show is Doctor Who’s very own problem category, the Companion, a title inherently subordinate to the Man. Until Clara comes along! Companion to every single moment in the Doctor’s life. A woman so strong that in her first appearance, and her last, Death itself cannot stop her. A decade before Wonder Woman, Steven started weaving his own vast female mythology across the stars, in a funny old children’s show on Saturday teatimes.
I could mansplain all day, but the other thing I love in Steven’s writing is the complexity. I’ve heard some tiny, distant rumours that some people might have a problem with that. But I think it’s the very thing that will ensure Doctor Who’s logevity. You see, in the old days, us older fans fell in love with this show because it was porous. It had gaps. It was cheap, it was rushed, it was lovely and brave and unapologetic, using three walls in Lime Grove to create an entire Dalek invasion of Earth. All those gaps allowed us in. We imagined the offstage armies. We embraced the wobbles and bumps. If Sutekh had a secret hand on his cushion, we hooted, or invented a reason why (Clara!). But we either imagined it better, or saw how good it was underneath. Which is exactly like falling in love.
Now, the modern show has a lot more money. You can see those armies centre-stage. Gallifrey is so gorgeous, it has a spare city. Cyber-fleets can explode behind Rory’s head as a throwaway joke. And sometimes, a lossy show allows the mind the slide off. But Steven has created a brand-new porous surface. He invites us into the plots. He gives us stories which vault and somersault and double-back and trick and trap and treat. It’s not so much porous, it’s more like a great big spinning double helix and we’re clinging on, spinning for our lives, and yelling with joy. Yes, it’s complicated, but that’s wonderful. It will keep people thinking about the show forever.
Okay, my favourite moment? It’s my favourite joke. A Good Man Goes to War. Rory approaches River Song in the Storm Cage, and she says she’s been on a date with the Doctor, to the frost fair in 1814. “He got Stevie Wonder to sing for me underneath London Bridge.” And for a second, there’s that lovely shiver as you anticipae the punchline. “Don’t tell him.”
That’s a small momnt from a man who’s created empires. But a favourite joke is a beautiful thing. I just looked up the line and it turns out, I’ve long since paraphrased it, but that’s even better - like I said, Steven makes us part of the text, and now I own it! The point is, I think of that line every few days. Literally, a couple of times a week, every week. Every now and then, when I’m washing up or watching TV, or walking into town, or whatever, it pops into my head. “Don’t tell him.” And I laugh. I laugh, every single time. It’s been making me laugh for six years and it will make me laugh for the rest of my life. Very few people can write a line capable of that.
The latest Doctor Who Magazine has an interview with Steven Moffat, who talks about Peter Harness’ upcoming episode The Pyramid at the End of the World (the second story in the upcoming three-parter).
The episode stands out because it’s the only one this year where Moff is credited as a co-writer. The reason for this, which he talks very movingly about, is because his mother passed away during the writing process of that episode and he wasn’t able to give Harness all the meetings and notes that he is generally able to give other writers for redrafts.
He was literally working at his mother’s bedside in hospital to redraft the episode.
He turns it on himself to say that Harness deserved better and he feels that he let him down to meet the production schedule, the whole situation sounds incredibly sad, but that is some incredible commitment…
Behind the Scenes of The Runaway Bride (Part Eight)
Excerpt from Benjamin Cook’s “Bad Reception” article in DWM #378
This, ladies and gentlemen, is Donna Noble’s reception. The room is adorned with decorations, party balloons, and a banner that says, somewhat prematurely, ‘Congratulations Donna & Lance’, but wedding presents, streamers, and sausage rolls lie strewn across the dancefloor, tables and chairs are overturned, the air is thick with smoke, and four artificial Christmas trees (watch out - they’re swines) are standing about, all menacing-like. Over there in the corner, chatting to a pageboy, is Donna herself, actress, comedienne, and famous lady Catherine Tate. In a wedding dress.
“How do you manage to run in that dress?” asks the pageboy.
“I know, it’s a bit tricky,” she answers. “Do you want to know a secret?” She hoists up her dress, but lowers her voice, “See, I’m wearing trainers!”
“Nice trainers,” nods David Tennant, the Doctor. “You should wear ‘em in wide shots!”
“Here we go, then,” calls out Peter Bennett, the first assistant director, “for a take. Nice and quiet, please. And turn over…”
Donna and Lance, her would-have-been fiance, climb out of hiding from behind a table. “You all right, sweetheart?” she asks, stepping over the wreckage of her wedding reception. “Michael? Connie? Sunita, do something useful -”
“Who’s Sunita?” asks Euros [Lyn, director].
“I’m making it this lady here,” replies Catherine, stroking the arm of a supporting artiste wearing an absurdly large hat.
“I thought Sunita sounded more like a bridesmaid’s name,” says the lady in the hat. […]
“I want this to happen at my wedding,” jokes Don Gilet, who plays Lance.
“That can be arranged,” says Any Effects’ Mike Crowley, the special effects supervisor.
“Nobody’s ever safe. I’ve never asked you for that, ever. These have been the best years of my life, and they are mine. Tomorrow is promised to no one, Doctor, but I insist upon my past. I am entitled to that. It’s mine.”
doctor who meme: two quotes [1 of 2] → “The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.” — The Doctor
In one corner of a cluttered, book-lined study at St Luke’s sits a blue police box, an ‘OUT OF ORDER’ sign on its door. In a cup on the desk are a selection of screwdrivers, all of them sonic, and framed photographs of the two women that one man holds closest to his hearts: River Song and his granddaughter, Susan.
Behind the Scenes of Planet of the Dead - Part Six
Excerpts from Benjamin Cook’s set report in DWM 408:
[on trying to film during a sandstorm] “Not only was what we were shooting looking horrible,” James tells DWM, “because we had no light… and this massive desert landscape, you couldn’t see it… I mean, we could have been in a car park at Upper Boat… but also sand was being blown in our faces constantly. The actors couldn’t open their eyes.”
“Problem is,” says make-up designer Barbara Southcott, “it’s on high-def, so you’ll see every bit of sand on their skin.”
“You’ll have to paint it out,” make-up artist Steve Smith teases The Mill’s Dave Houghton.
“Frame by frame,” nods Dave, “grain by grain.”
“I know it’s not easy, guys,” calls out John [Bennett, First Assistant Director]. “Let’s just do what we can.” But David’s hair has turned blonde. (Daniel [Kaluuya, who plays Barclay] dubs him “Barry Manilow”.)
The sand is sticking to everything. Worst hit is Tracie Simpson, whose lips are actually yellow. This is her first episode as Doctor Who’s producer. It’s a baptism of fire - no, of wind! Of wind and sand and lipstick.
Forgetting that Dubai is four hours ahead of the UK, DWM decides to text a message of support to Russell T Davies in Cardiff - you know, something encouraging and inspiring. But somehow we manage to send one that says: “SANDSTORM! CODE RED! ABORT! ABORT!” Surprisingly, Russell messages back: “I’ve got you texting with ‘SANDSTORM!’ and Julie [Gardner, executive producer] phoning with ‘SANDSTORM!’ I’m hooting. Save yourself, Ben.” Perhaps we should hide in a Portaloo until it’s all over? (We don’t last long. It stinks in here. Besides, a queue was forming.)
Back outside, the majestic crane shots intended for this morning are abandoned. The crane is dismantled and taken away. “I thought, let’s shoot everything that we can against the bus,” James explains later. “…but the actors all looked like they’d been tarred in sand and dragged through a hedge.”