The Day of the Doctor / The Time of the Doctor - OSTBookmark and Share

Monday, 24 November 2014 - Reviewed by Phillip Serna
The Day of the Doctor (Credit: Silva Screen Records) The Day of the Doctor / The Time of the Doctor
Music by Murray Gold
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Conducted by Ben Foster
Silva Screen Records
24 November 2014
Available to order now from Amazon UK
On November 23rd 2013, Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary with a stunning array of events culminating in the global simulcast of the much-anticipated story, The Day of the Doctor. In time for the 51st anniversary, Silva Screen Records has released an impressive 2-disc set of Murray Gold’s scores to The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor, the swan-song for Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor. Since Doctor Who’s revival in 2005, Murray Gold’s music has grown as synonymous as the TARDIS and the Daleks – becoming as iconic as the experimental, electronic and chamber music from the show’s rich and varied past. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Crouch End Festival Chorus, and conductor/ orchestrator Ben Foster deserve as much praise as Murray Gold for what can only be described as a thoughtful and outstanding entry into the Doctor Who musical canon. The production on this release delivers nothing short of impressive, and on a purely technical level, this release will not disappoint even the most discriminating listener.

Looking backwards as well as forwards, Murray Gold’s score to The Day of the Doctor represents a culmination of the entirety of the revival-era of the show. Surprised by callbacks in the score, in ‘Nice Horse’ the cue opens with woodwind timbres evocative of Geoffrey Burgon as the Zygons are revealed. With greater use of synthetic elements throughout, there are a few calls back to the Radiophonic Workshop era, especially during ‘We are the Doctors’, ‘The Moment has Come’ and the ‘Song for Four’ that closes the story. For aficionados of leitmotivic film scores, Murray Gold delivers a rich thematic world for the Doctor. As war rages over the second city of Arcadia, strains of Gold’s ‘This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home’ from Series 3 can be heard punctuating the battle by the low brass. In addition to the thematic material representing the 10th and 11th Doctors, John Hurt’s War Doctor is represented by music associated with Christopher Eccleston’s damaged 9th Doctor. The use of U.N.I.T.’s theme from Series 1 is balanced well against music evocative of political espionage films, filled with electronic elements and suspenseful repetitive string ostinati. The theme for the Moment in ‘Who are You’ and ‘The Moment has Come’ incorporates elements from Rose’s piano theme from Series 1 as well as the novel use of reverse delay on piano and clarinet, a technique that Gold used to great effect in the Series 5 stories The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang. The only unsettling or controversial moment in the score is during the pivotal ‘The Moment has Come’ in which the Doctor struggles whether to deploy the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Here, the music is filled with Middle-Eastern timbres, scales and microtonality punctuated by the icy timbre of the hammered dulcimer. A musical association between the story’s subtext of genocide and real-world violence is likely not intended, but does resonate beyond the score and the world of the fiction. Perhaps this encapsulates the strength of this score where popular music elements, electronic timbres, symphonic timbres, and non-Western timbres coexist in a series whose messages are primarily inclusiveness and pacifism.

While the cues ‘He Was There’, ‘No More’ and ‘The War Room’ are among the most exciting cues on the release, it is unusual that ‘He Was There’ differs from the transmission version omitting the choral elements - an interesting album variation. The closing ‘Song for Four/ Home’ is interesting in that it represents Murray Gold’s original intentions differing significantly from the transmission version of The Day of the Doctor. I, for one, would have enjoyed hearing both versions on this release, perhaps including the transmission version as bonus tracks on the second disk. The absence of Gold’s arrangement of Ron Grainer’s theme that closed The Day of the Doctor, however, is puzzling but understandable if there were licensing issues with Ron Grainer’s theme through his publisher Erle Music/Warner Chappell. It is important to note that the Doctor Who theme, existing in various re-orchestrations by Murray Gold, have not been included in Silva Screen releases of Murray Gold’s scores since Series 5. The omitted opening theme, as realized by Delia Derbyshire, is still available on a variety of recent Silva Screen releases.

Despite these relatively minor criticisms, The Day of the Doctor remains an excellent release, if only slightly imperfect. The Time of the Doctor, however, succeeds a great deal in presenting a very different and cohesive musical narrative - marvelously balanced with the transformation of Gold’s ‘I Am the Doctor’ into a Christmas call-to-arms. The inclusion of sleigh bells, glockenspiel and celeste only enhances this magical Christmas-parable, filled with Ben Foster’s lush and cinematic orchestrations, with a sound mix favouring the low strings. The Time of the Doctor‘s score feels more intimate and personal, mirroring its sensitive and sentimental story. The differences between the constancy of The Time of the Doctor and the bolder experimentalism and scope of The Day of the Doctor makes for a multi-layered experience with its contrast set to 11 – offering many rewards upon repeat listens.

Highly Recommended. Rating 10/11

Dr. Phillip Serna is co-host of the Adventures in Time, Space and Music podcast.

FILTER: - 50th Anniversary - Music

The Day of The DoctorBookmark and Share

Thursday, 19 December 2013 - Reviewed by Dan Armitage

When I first started watching this little series at the age of seven and at the time, I was somewhat ambivalent. I suppose one would compare it to a child with a plate of untried vegetables in front of him, whom only wants desserts. You see, I was born during the hiatus. In fact, I was born right at the very beginning of the hiatus. So I missed out on watching anything from the first seven Doctors on original airing. It was only when my granddad took me to the local library and hired “The Five Doctors” that I got around to watching the series. I wanted another adventure with Laurel and Hardy – not some silly sci-fi show. And you know what; that little pepperpot (yes, I saw it as a pepperpot even then) racing through a maze of mirrors, is what brings me here today.

After spending nearly a quarter of a century catching up on fifty year’s worth of Doctor Who, I was ready to tackle the anniversary special. My wife and I had spent the past couple of years bringing our newbie friend up to date and here we were, sat in a cinema, 3D glasses on, ready to see the return of the Tenth Doctor.

With six months of speculation – the special didn’t let up. Opening up in wonderful monochrome, I think I might have had goosebumps all the way through the special. I think I must have turned to my wife over half a dozen times to whisper little things to her.

It is very difficult for me, however, because I could literally discuss in detail, every scene from the special. However, I’d much rather discuss the general spirit of the story and the general implications of the ending.

With returning elements including the Tenth Doctor, the Zygons, the Daleks, Kate Stewart, Billie Piper and the Time War – some potential viewers could be forgiven for thinking the special would fall apart under the weight of its individual elements. Far from it however, The Day of the Doctor felt like the culmination of fifty years build up. By excluding the various other Doctors from the special, Moffat allowed himself the opportunity for the two past returning Doctors to dominate, their interactions providing ample opportunity for comic interludes.

I doubt too many fans saw it coming however, when John Hurt proved to me the most amusing factor in the special, his gruff character spouting lines such as “What are you going to do, assemble a cabinet at them?” and “Oh, for God’s sake. Gallifrey stands!” The only unfortunate point being that it is unlikely we will ever see Hurt reprise the role – unless Big Finish acquire the much coveted license to produce NuWho material.

Which I suppose brings me to my next point; with the most recent two episodes being so ensconced in the classic series – is there a noticeable gap between the two sets of shows. With the recent McGann regeneration in The Night of the Doctor tying in well with the John Hurt regeneration in The Day of the Doctor; along with the many past Doctor cameos in the past two episodes, for the first time the two individual series seem to exist completely as one. Past occasions including the return of Sarah Jane Smith in School Reunion and the return of Peter Davison in Time Crash have felt like “one offs”, but to have all eleven (sorry all twelve) Doctors stood looking up at Gallifrey – I can’t help but feel that the fifty years of Doctor Who are now intrinsically bound together as one.

Which brings me to the ending. Receiving a very cryptic message from The Curator (and I’m not even going to get into how I felt seeing him!), the Doctor begins his search for Gallifrey. Now I know that when he does eventually find his home planet – he won’t even sit down for a cup of English tea before running off again and yet still, I hope that the series uses this new concept as the underlay for the next fifty years rather than confronting it directly as a new story arc – in the vein of Bad Wolf, Torchwood, and the Impossible Girl.

Did Moffat manage to encapsulate fifty (although a certain cameo may suggest 51 might be a more accurate number) years of history into one episode? Yes. And all due credit to the man. It was fun and it was heart-breaking. It was fact paced yet it had a sombre tone throughout. In my eyes, Doctor Who was truly never risen higher. Bring on the Time of the Doctor – I know that everyone in my house simply can’t wait!

FILTER: - 50th Anniversary - Tenth Doctor - Eleventh Doctor - War Doctor

The Day of the Doctor (Australian review)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 5 December 2013 - Reviewed by Damian Christie
“Am I having a mid-life crisis?”

The War Doctor upon meeting his Tenth and Eleventh incarnations, The Day of the Doctor.

As fans, we can be our own worst enemies – we’re possessive and high maintenance about our favourite TV program. We can get into such frenzied speculation about new Doctor Who episodes – long before they’re even broadcast. By the time they arrive we leave ourselves exhausted and mildly depressed, bemoaning that it was never as good as it should have been. We set the bar so high that we inevitably set ourselves up for a fall.

As Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor approached, the anticipation seemed to reach almost pressure cooker proportions. We all seemed so disenchanted with the varying quality of the episodes in the second half of Series 7 and the way the Clara/Impossible Girl plotline had just fizzled out that we wanted – in fact desperately needed – the 50th anniversary special to meet, if not exceed, our wildest expectations. Now, with the special behind us, I’d have to argue we can breathe a huge sigh of relief, assured that the series has a great future ahead of it.

Impressive ratings and box office receipts aside, the surest sign of the success of The Day of the Doctor has been the positive feedback from critics, casual observers and even some fans who have been modern Doctor Who’s biggest detractors. Of course, there will always be fans that have to rain down on the victory parade, with whines most notably about the serial’s climax but then I figure those individuals were never going to be satisfied anyway. The Day of the Doctor works because it doesn’t take itself too seriously (even though the theme at its heart is very earnest) and it is accessible to even the most casual viewers. It also manages to carry enough Easter eggs to please die hard Whovians without bashing casual viewers senseless around the head with 50 years of history and continuity.

Steven Moffat has miraculously pulled off the great escape. In just 75 minutes, he delivers an epic story that is part space opera (the Time War), part farce (the Zygon plot to oust Queen Elizabeth I), part comedy (the three Doctors meeting), part contemporary thriller (the mystery in the National Gallery and the Zygon takeover of UNIT’s Black Archive) and part morality tale (the War Doctor’s terrible decision and the effect it has on the Doctor’s subsequent incarnations). Moffat melds an unlikely mesh of genres into a compelling, exciting and enjoyable whole – and to boot manages to shoehorn in not just three but 13 Doctors and set the series up for some very exciting years to come.

So why, against all the odds, does The Day of the Doctor work so well? As I’ve said above, the episode isn’t a tortured, navel-gazing, self-obsessed and dark morass. It celebrates the Doctor with a sense of fun and optimism, despite the grim back story at its heart, and that helps to engage its audience – both fan and non-fan – from the get-go.

Whether consciously or not, Moffat employs a tested storytelling technique that was first pioneered by Charles Dickens in arguably one of literature’s first “time travel” tales – A Christmas Carol. Like that classic text (and indeed Moffat’s own Doctor Who Christmas special of the same name three years ago), The Day of the Doctor is the story of a man (the War Doctor), who with the counsel of a ghostly apparition (the Moment), visits his future in a bid for redemption. He doesn’t like what he sees (he is appalled by the immaturity and denial of his future selves) but it inspires him to change and alter course in the present. As a result, he rediscovers hope – and in the bargain restores optimism to the men that he will become. What better story could one have asked for in Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary year? This is a vastly more enjoyable, preferable tale to some angst-ridden, dark and humdrum narrative with a monstrous, sinister Doctor at its heart – something I think we all suspected the War Doctor might be when he was first introduced in The Name of the Doctor.

The standout performer of the episode is undoubtedly John Hurt, eclipsing the incumbent in Matt Smith and the returning David Tennant as the titular character. For someone in a guest star capacity, Hurt is utterly convincing from the outset as the War Doctor. There is no doubt he is a grizzled veteran who has been scarred by centuries of war and is haunted by the terrible choice on his plate - even before he has pressed the big red button. Yet Hurt also plays the role with grace, compassion, humility and dignity – there is no sense that he is a vengeful, embittered, ruthless character at all, as we’ve occasionally seen in the modern Doctors (Eccleston, Tennant, Smith) and even some of the classic Doctors (McCoy, Tom Baker and Colin Baker). He is indeed shunned and repressed by his other incarnations for doing the right thing for the common good.

Hurt’s no-nonsense Doctor is the perfect foil to Smith’s and Tennant’s more eccentric Doctors and enables Moffat to send up many of the series’ in-jokes (many of which he invented). The War Doctor’s expressions of disbelief at the inappropriate use of the sonic screwdriver – “They’re screwdrivers! What are you going to do? Assemble a cabinet at them?” – and his horror at the other Doctors’ expressions – “Timey ... what? Timey wimey?” – are priceless and make for some fantastic comedy moments in the episode, lightening the tension and bleakness that could have overwhelmed this tale.

In fact, the banter and comedy between the three Doctors is successful precisely because Moffat doesn’t shy away from bringing the Doctors together. One of the problems with other multi-Doctor reunions in the past – notably in The Five Doctors – is that efforts were made to keep the Doctors separate for the bulk of the narrative (often on the misapprehension that the actors themselves would simply not get along). Moffat avoids that trap in The Day of the Doctor and happily displays all the Doctors in their true light – warts and all!

Yet as great as the comic moments are, Moffat knows how to deliver scenes and dialogue with the three Doctors that have great pathos. One of the most powerful moments between the Doctors comes in the dungeon when they discuss the ramifications of the Time War. There are terrific performances from Smith, Tennant and Hurt as the War Doctor is appalled by the indifference of his future selves – “the one who regrets and the one who forgets” – and the Tenth Doctor is horrified that the Eleventh Doctor could almost forget the high cost of his actions.

Tennant and Smith have both said they were in awe of working with a “living legend” like Hurt but neither of them show it in their performances. They both demonstrate the vast acting range that their characters demand, with both of their Doctors slipping between moments of humour, earnestness, sadness and anger. Tennant steps almost effortlessly back into the part, as if four years had not elapsed at all, and he and Smith are both at their most imposing when their Doctors are actually staring each other down and not clowning around (eg “For once, I’d like to know where I’m going.” “No, you really wouldn’t!”).

The Day of The Doctor: Matt Smith and David Tennant as The Doctor Understandably, with such an ambitious storyline and a stellar cast, you’d be forgiven for forgetting this story features companions. It seems on a first viewing that Jenna Coleman doesn’t get an awful lot to do – but in fact Clara is possibly the most important character in the story. It is quick thinking on Clara’s part to steal the vortex manipulator from the Black Archive and travel back to rescue the Doctors (and subsequently embarrass them by revealing they’ve been in an unlocked cell!). That’s always an impressive trait in a companion but it is also Clara who proves to be the catalyst for change – it is her compassion and emotion (which Coleman conveys so well) that finally persuades the Eleventh Doctor to look for a different way to end the Time War.

It has been said numerous times through the life of the modern program that the companion is the Doctor’s conscience, that she can show him another way. This was Billie Piper’s function back in Series 1 as Rose Tyler and that sentiment was repeated by Donna Noble in The Runaway Bride when she told the Doctor he needs a companion to rein him in (something he lacks as the War Doctor). Clara proves integral in that respect. In this story, more than any other, we are again reminded that the Doctor’s conscience is not just dictated by his own morals but by his companions’ humanity. Without a conscience, the Doctor could be elevated to making god-like decisions with the most terrible consequences (as we saw with his “Time Lord Victorious” stance in The Waters of Mars).

Even the Moment – in the unexpected form of Rose Tyler – fulfils a similar role to Clara, showing the War Doctor that there is an alternative. It is to Moffat’s credit that he devises a unique way to bring Billie Piper back to the series without contradicting or undermining the events of Army of Ghosts/Doomsday and The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End. Casting Piper as Rose’s Bad Wolf persona borrowed by the Moment is a stroke of genius – and tests Piper’s own acting calibre. She meets that challenge, delivering a performance which, like the three Doctors, exudes sadness and subtlety one moment and then a cheeky, naughty and suggestive disposition the next (“Look at you, stuck between a girl and a box. The story of your life, eh, Doctor?”). This is definitely not the type of acting Piper could have delivered if she’d simply returned as Rose. Some fans may reasonably argue that the Moment could have been any of the Doctor’s companions from the modern series (eg Amy Pond or Donna) but Piper’s performance vindicates the decision to cast her – to have gone with a high profile comedienne like Catherine Tate, for example, would have actually detracted from the Moment’s characterisation and importance in the narrative.

Similarly Tom Baker’s surprise cameo as the enigmatic curator would also have not worked as effectively if it had been one of the other classic Doctors – Davison, Colin Baker or McCoy. Baker instils enough mystery and charm into his dialogue, all while reminding us of his “Doctorish” charisma, to keep us guessing about his identity (is he a future Doctor? An older, alternative version of the Fourth Doctor? A Watcher-like entity? The Moment in another guise?). Indeed, the curator’s ambiguity makes Baker’s appearance all the more memorable – and I doubt his performance could have been matched if one of his successors had taken the same part.

The Day of the Doctor - Jenna Coleman as Clara and Jemma Redgrave as Kate (Credit: BBC/Adrian Rogers) With the gallery of multiple Doctors and companions, and the broader implications their presence has on the broader Whoniverse, it’s all too easy to forget about the UNIT and Zygon sub-plot. The Zygons, making a comeback after almost 40 years, are sadly peripheral to the story and could just as easily have been any other shapeshifting monster, eg the Slitheen, the Krillitanes or (perish the thought) the Abzorbaloff. Nevertheless, the costumes are beautifully recreated and menacing and the transformation of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart into the Zygon leader is downright creepy. Credit goes to the supporting cast who play both humans and Zygons interchangeably, especially Joanna Page as the Queen. In the scenes where she plays both the real Elizabeth I and the Zygon duplicate, Page’s performance is so flawless that even on repeated viewings it is difficult to fathom who is the Queen and who is the impostor! The Zygons are recreated well enough to warrant a return appearance in the near future.

Aside from the impressive scope of the story, the episode is a visual tour de force. Growing up as I did in the last years of the classic series, Doctor Who was often ridiculed for its phoney monsters and cheap production values. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that one day I would sit in a cinema and not only watch an episode in 3D but an episode that is almost a feature film in its own right. Nor could I ever have imagined, given the contempt the brass had for the program in the late 1980s, that the BBC would finally realise that Doctor Who was a program worth spending money on.

In just the opening minutes alone, we see impressive aerial shots of the London cityscape as the TARDIS is hoisted to the National Gallery, followed by the CGI flashbacks to the Dalek attack on Arcadia. Nick Hurran’s direction also features some lovely visuals such as the imposition of the War Doctor’s eyeline on the Eleventh Doctor’s face as he recalls the final day of the Time War. The 3D elements also impress, notably with the Gallifrey Falls oil painting (although 3D tends to get lost on yours truly as I become engrossed in a story!). It’s taken 50 years but finally with The Day of the Doctor, Doctor Who has peaked – it has gone from being a shoestring program in the dingiest studio on the BBC’s backlot (the infamous Lime Grove Studio D in the 1960s) to occupying its own backlot in Cardiff and being made with the money, care and love that it truly deserves.

Most importantly, The Day of the Doctor proves to be not just an “eighth anniversary” episode (some devotees of the classic series worried that the episode would only honour the modern series) but a true 50th anniversary instalment that homages the whole series. The recreated Hartnell title sequence and the opening sequence at Coal Hill School (which bleeds from black and white into colour) beautifully recreates the opening moments of An Unearthly Child (even the brief exchange between Clara and Tom in the classroom is reminiscent of one Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton all those decades ago). The various other Easter eggs – encapsulated mostly in dialogue (“I didn’t know when I was well off – all 12 of them!”) echoing famous lines from across the years and some subtle visuals – also show that this is a serial that respects Doctor Who in all its eras, and not just the modern era.

The climax has obviously been controversial with some fans who contend that Moffat has blatantly rewritten history (again the types that would have been dissatisfied no matter how the story ended). Far from contradicting continuity, Gallifrey’s fate offers exciting story possibilities (and in my opinion was inevitable - if the Guardians of the Green Lantern Corps in the DC comic book universe can be similarly destroyed and revived, why not the Time Lords?). It also ties in with the episode’s theme of hope. The Doctor provides the Time Lords with a fighting chance for life, seemingly against all odds, and in turn gives himself hope and a new purpose. The closing moments of the serial are a wonderful visual spectacle – the Doctor is finally at peace and unison with his other selves, looking to the future. Steven Moffat promised to deliver an episode that would set up Doctor Who for the future – and he has succeeded beyond our wildest expectations.

In years to come, The Day of the Doctor will no doubt come under increased scrutiny from fans and its skeletons will be laid bare. But for now, as a tribute to the program’s 50th anniversary, the episode has been an outstanding success. Far from having a mid-life crisis, there is plenty of life in the old Doctor yet and there has never been a more exciting time than now to be a Doctor Who fan. I personally hope that the modern program, as it moves into its eighth full series and into another era with a new Doctor, will use The Day of the Doctor as a platform to go in exciting future directions and scale even loftier heights. Only the sky’s the limit!

Long live the Doctor! Many happy returns!

FILTER: - Television - Tenth Doctor - Eleventh Doctor - 50th Anniversary

The Day of The DoctorBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 4 December 2013 - Reviewed by Matthew Kilburn

Doctor Who - The Day of The Doctor
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Nick Hurran
Broadcast on BBC One - 23 November 2013
Over a week has gone by since The Day of the Doctor was simulcast around the world and screened simultaneously in cinemas before enjoying a further limited theatrical release of surely unanticipated success. The madness in which Doctor Who 'took over television', earning jibes from satirists which they once reserved for John Barrowman, has passed. The general medium-term implications and consequences of the way the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who was marked are still taking shape, but The Day of the Doctor contended that the episode presented a paradigmatic shift in content as well as in distribution.

It's tempting to say that The Day of the Doctor was a soufflé of a story, expansively frothy with fan-pleasing references, self-aware retroactive continuity, ironically-realised old monsters, and actors doing familiar turns. Instead it was more of a meringue - a solid enough pudding, not over-egged, and densely stuffed with sweetmeats to suit a variety of palates.

The density of the episode's construction is revealed in the opening scene. What looks like a homage to one particular point in the series' history moment turns into the first use of arranging references as part of the foundations for Doctor Who's revised manifesto. The policeman leads the audience past I.M. Foreman's sign, towards Coal Hill Secondary School, before the camera reminds us that our involvement is at its grace and that we are on the other side of the screen from our characters. In a shot more powerful in 3D than in 2D, Clara's hand impresses on the screen and us the much-quoted sentence from Marcus Aurelius's Meditations: 'Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be', leaving out the injunction 'Be one'. Summoned by her Doctor to the TARDIS, Clara nonchalantly says she's not taught anything good, and the Doctor says he hasn't learned anything; but this story completes an arc of the Doctor's moral re-education begun in 2005 and echoing fan readings of the first two seasons of Doctor Who, in which Ian and Barbara teach the Doctor to turn his abilities outwards towards helping people.

Billie Piper as Rose in The Day of The DoctorClara's hand is mirror-writing to us, and Doctor Who is a mirror of our own universe. Here it is a mirror of our own (presumed) experience of Doctor Who. Classrooms and galleries and televisions are our TARDISes. Clara's classroom even has a 4:3 ratio television on the wall, a modern echo of the original TARDIS set. For Clara to leave Coal Hill at 5.16pm she is presumably supervising an after-school club or in-school homework, or else the clock is as broken as the TARDIS's navigation system appeared to be in the 1960s. I[an] Chesterton is the chairman of the board of governors - perhaps this is who appointed Clara or makes sure that no questions are asked about her sudden disappearances from work. The Cwmdare Road location provides the Cardiff-as-London familiarity of latterday Who. The street bears some resemblance to that where Clive lived in Rose, leading those so minded to wonder whether Clive was staking out Coal Hill eight years ago, but also foreshadowing the return of Billie Piper as the Moment-Rose. Clara's biking and outfit bridge the 1960s of mods and rockers (arguably as much a media confection as Doctor Who) and the present day; but recall previous uses of motorcycles in Doctor Who, most recently contemporary Clara's introductory episode, The Bells of Saint John, but also (given the ride into the TARDIS) the 1996 TV Movie which The Day of the Doctor's distrib counterblasts by challenging Hollywood dominance of cinema and television rather than seeking to be assimilated by it. The Doctor is reading a book on quantum mechanics jacketed in an approximation of the old livery of the 'Teach Yourself' book series, but bearing the imprint of the TARDIS's police box shell. The implication that the ship is attempting to teach the Doctor recalls the relationship between Time Lord and ship in The Doctor's Wife.

The Day of the Doctor - Matt Smith as The Doctor (Credit: BBC/Adrian Rogers)The opening scenes continue to revisit beginnings. The start of Doctor Who and the introduction of Clara are followed by a reprise of the eleventh Doctor's first episode's pre-credits sequence, the gangly Matt Smith again hanging from the TARDIS prop but this time with the mechanics showing. Instead of one redhead, Amelia Pond, he lands at the behest of another, Elizabeth I of England, and instead of a private domestic garden, the TARDIS is brought down in a public commemorative square used for entertainment and national and local ceremonial. It's right that the adventure should begin there, given the claims this episode makes for Doctor Who as part of British or English national mythology, but the setting also marks one of the episode's jumps between modes of presentation, as a scene led by CGI, greenscreen and mechanical special effects merges seamlessly with one which comes close to being a recorded performance of live theatre. There can be no attempt to hide the crowds in Trafalgar Square watching Matt Smith's descent clinging to the undercarriage of a police box and so they are incorporated into the scene with a reference to illusionist Derren Brown as provider of a cover story, one of the references to contemporary real-life personalities more frequent when Russell T Davies was showrunner than now. Illusion, though, is also a theme of the episode, where even the ravens at the Tower of London are artificial, part of a tourist-heritage setting which conceals a future-facing bastion of planetary defence. Likewise, Doctor Who seems here to be looking backwards to its earlier history, but is celebrating its recent success as a consolidator of large and broad audiences as much as anything.

Reacquainting the audience with the Doctor's past is also a reminder of the post-2005 series' advertising of its emotional literacy, widely regarded as part of its audience-unifying appeal. The renewal of interest in the Time War is aimed as much as those who might not have watched since David Tennant left in The End of Time as at committed viewers. The introduction of the painting 'Gallifrey Falls'/'No More' through another demonstration of 3D isn't merely a gimmick but a way of emphasising Doctor Who's interruption of the mundane with the otherworldly as well as representing the multi-dimensional nature of the war itself. The painting is one of the few effects designed for 3D which is almost as impressive in 2D; it's designed for the illusion of depth and the added texture of 3D was a bonus.

The painting also chimes with this episode's invocation of memory. The Day of the Doctor knows that viewers will watch to see their recollections of past adventures flattered, and exploits this in ways that seek to surprise. One of these is the much-trailed appearance of John Hurt's War Doctor; another is the removal of the veil on the appearance of Billie Piper as the interface of the Moment, both figuratively and explicitly recalling Rose's transformation into the Bad Wolf. This manifestation is also a memory, Billie Piper's performance and the editing choices of the decision-makers behind the camera making the flippant 'I always get those two (past and future) mixed up' absolutely credible without provoking even a sympathetic snigger. The use of rapid cutting as the Moment found her new personality has been used before in Doctor Who in a similar situation, the post-regeneration orientation of Matt Smith's Doctor. It's refreshing to have Billie Piper back in a new role which borrows within the narrative from her previous one; but it also celebrates how the programme has benefited from performers and others seizing the opportunities it's presented to transform their careers. Indeed, the reintroduction of Clara in her classroom recalls not only An Unearthly Child but also the earlier career of Jenna-Louise Coleman playing a schoolgirl in Waterloo Road; Clara's reappearance as a teacher could be interpreted in terms of the move of the actress who plays her to a post-juvenile professional identity as Jenna Coleman.

The hut in the desert to which the War Doctor brings the Moment is intriguing as a playing space. The depiction of a vast conflict through the reactions of a few participants or observers in a small space is an old device. The restrained use of music in the hut scenes allows The Day of the Doctor to again echo as-live performance and recall the ancient conventions of the programme's former homes in west London. The hut is more than just a studio or theatrical stage; it becomes a camera obscura which can not only capture and project the image of distant environments, but make those projected environments real. Despite the War Doctor's attempt to escape the judgement of the TARDIS, the hut is a TARDIS-substitute and the Rose-Moment, as in-narrative director of the hut scenes, even places the crucial 'big red button' front central as if it were the TARDIS console. The hut becomes an analogy not just for the TARDIS, but for the programme. Doctor Who's title character once insisted he was only an observer, but soon developed a habit of becoming involved in things. All three principal Doctors here try at some stage to limit their exposure and their moral ambition, but when they hide in the hut, the universe comes to them and demands they recognise the choices beyond the limits they have defined.

The War Doctor goes to the hut to make an end, but there are clues scattered throughout its design that it is a place of beginnings. After his long trudge through a scorched desert, the Doctor's feet rest on dry straw and a few fresh green leaves. Agricultural implements sit in corners. It's one of many deceptively simple set designs from Michael Pickwoad. The place of destruction is introduced subtly as one of cultivation.

The Day of the Doctor benefits from such skilful use of rhetorical devices, though they are sometimes glib. Moments of crisis are always prefigured by less portentous parallels. The sequence where the three Doctors believe themselves trapped within the Tower dungeon leads them first to look inward, though it is the War Doctor, relatively unburdened by guilt, who provides the pseudo-scientific solution to their captivity. It's Clara, though, who turns up to point out that the door wasn't locked in the first place, just as she later expresses her belief that the Doctor she knows wouldn't have wiped out the Time Lords but would have found another solution. Here she complements the Rose-Moment without interacting with her, as if guided by the patron saint of latterday companiondom.

The appearance of Gallifreyan art in the National Gallery emphasised more directly than ever before Doctor Who's identification of Gallifrey with England/Britain, just as the placing of the TARDIS in Trafalgar Square proposed Doctor Who itself as national commemoration as well as public entertainment. The inclusion of Elizabeth I in the story builds on the identification of the Doctor with the English and British monarchies established by Steven Moffat in The Beast Below, elaborating two minor sequences in earlier stories by other writers into a scheme by which the Doctor has a close if achronological and irreverent relationship with the royal lineage. Indeed, Elizabeth's letter to the Doctor explicitly dedicates him to England's service.

The Day of The Doctor - Matt Smith as the Doctor with Joanna Page as Queen Elizabeth (Credit: BBC) reviewer Ben Lawrence criticised the casting and performance of Joanna Page as Elizabeth, but this was unfair and missed what The Day of the Doctor sought to achieve. Page's Elizabeth was woven from several skeins of audience appeal. Her performance accorded with that briefly established by Angela Pleasance in The Shakespeare Code and with the half-told anecdote about Elizabeth's nickname in The End of Time. Casting Page acknowledged latterday Doctor Who's Welshness by drawing from another BBC Wales success of the last decade, Gavin & Stacey. While warmer and more balanced, Page's still capricious Elizabeth owed some of her spirit to Miranda Richardson's Elizabeth of Blackadder II, and probably more than anything (though I'm less familiar with it) to the Elizabeth of Horrible Histories, perhaps the realisation of the last Tudor queen now most current. Elizabeth R and Glenda Jackson's methodical exploration of the queen's character is lost in the remote forgotten traditions of intensely researched BBC history plays, and though still a point of comparison for critics has little contribution to make to modern Doctor Who's playfulness. In any case this Elizabeth was based on all the parts everyone thinks they remember, a kind of '1562 and All That' where the tenth Doctor finds that he was misinformed about Elizabeth's strict adherence to a non-matrimonial policy. In the spirit of the Doctor's perilous journey hanging from the TARDIS, Elizabeth's easy grasp of the TARDIS and implausible skill in impersonating a Zygon is another case where The Day of the Doctor resembles a greatest hits package, building upon Shakespeare's intuition of the non-sixteenth century origins of the Doctor and Martha in The Shakespeare Code and for that matter Henry Avery's grasp of the TARDIS and then of space travel in The Curse of the Black Spot.

The Doctor's marriage to Elizabeth is more than the fulfilment of a tag scene and a throwaway line from earlier episodes. In marrying Elizabeth the Doctor casually marries England and eventually Great Britain given Elizabeth's emblematic immortality in post-Union mythology as patron saint of protestant Britain. In a multi-faith, secular age Doctor Who has provided a sort of national religion, aware of its own fictionality but (most consciously under Russell T Davies) borrowing iconography and language liberally from Christianity. Britain's obsession with its royal family was once compared to Japanese Shinto and the role the Imperial family plays there; it's tempting to compare the Doctor's marriage to Elizabeth to the ritual marriage of the sun goddess to the Japanese Emperor, were it not that the Doctor immediately evades his responsibilities.

Since 2005, UNIT has been tied closely to British symbols too, with its headquarters established at the Tower of London, the English crown's stronghold since Norman times. The Tower of London is explicitly introduced as Kate's office, implying a rough parallel between Kate and Elizabeth I, whose fortress it is. There's a possible echo too of the identification of Kate's father with Arthur in Battlefield, though as someone who has always found the shoehorning of the Doctor into the Merlin archetype problematic it's good here that it is the Time Lord who marries Elizabeth, a virtuous knight as well as a mighty sorcerer; though Elizabeth is some years off from being Spenser's Gloriana, and the audience knows the tenth Doctor will abandon his marital commitments.

In 1562 there are two Elizabeths - human and Zygon. Likewise in the present day there are Zygon copies of Kate and her two junior colleagues. The move from a single monarchical figure to a collective feeds into the episode's theme. Responsibility, to mean something and be capable of change, has to be collective and sufficiently pluralist to accept different points of view. Absolute monarchy, unquestioning military command or self-absorbed withdrawal, whether by human, Zygon or Time Lord, leads to cutting off heads or destroying planets. Discussion without preconceptions leads to solutions. Removing the assumption that genocide (or anything) is inevitable enables everyone to escape from their dungeons, real and metaphorical. The message is one of hope: assuming the worst means that you never know whether to push or pull the door.

The Day of the Doctor: ZygonThe Zygons aren't always served especially well by this script. Monstrous villainy in The Day of the Doctor has a pantomime aspect, with several early Zygon appearances unapologetically calling for cries of 'Look behind you!' accompanied by comedic playing from other cast members. This does make their attack in the undergallery store more frightening, when they threaten and assault and the danger from their touch is made more explicit than in Terror of the Zygons. Jemma Redgrave clearly signposts that she is playing a Zygon by using a subtly lowered tone of voice; the tension nonetheless subsists in Zygon-Kate's scenes with Clara, because Clara has no reason to suspect Zygon involvement. The transformation of Zygon-Kate into Zygon form is pleasingly and disgustingly organic and more consistent with the realisation creatures' technology than the electronic effect used in Terror of the Zygons. Aidan Cook plays the lead Zygon (presumably the deputy commander, Elizabeth's counterpart having been slain by the knife of a king, and a king of England too) as aiming towards the back of the stalls, and a rubbery face following it even without the aid of 3D. Elizabeth I seemed unbothered as she explained that she wasn't a Zygon after all, despite presumably within the hearing range of the Zygons in the pit below.

Several commentators in the past few years have had difficulty with Steven Moffat's idealisation and emblematisation of women. In Moffat's world, women learn things which men do not, and are beings held in awe. The female companions and disciples of the Doctor represent those who hope and those who learn to turn that hope into action. Clara and the Rose-Moment enable the Doctor to see that the destruction of Gallifrey isn't inevitable. When we meet Osgood, she has not yet understood her potential. She's burdened with asthma and a history of being bullied. She's a grown-up child dressing as the fourth Doctor, with a history many of the writers and fans of 'old' Doctor Who could empathise with as well as many younger members of the present day audience. Following her (out-of-character for plot convenience and unwise) revelation in the gallery, that she knows why the statues have been crushed, she hides in a corner with her eyes closed, praying for the Doctor to save her from the painting-smashing and scenery-chewing Zygons. Instead, realising that she has copied more from the Doctor than his scarf, she saves herself and everyone else, moving afterwards from addressing her superior in deferential tones as 'Ma'am' to the familiar 'Kate', though there will still be room later for one more prayer which confirms her faith. Ingrid Oliver's performance was assured if like others a little broad, but television acting conventions have evolved and diversified from the hard-nosed days of absolute conviction and she still conveyed belief; though I can't have been the only viewer finding it difficult to imagine what a prettier sister might have looked like.

UNIT here move closer than ever to LI'n'DA from Love & Monsters. Thankfully Lee Evans's overacted and misconceived Malcolm from Planet of the Dead is absent except on the other end of a phone, but the unspoken purpose of the Black Archive seems to be a fan-like reconstruction of the Doctor's adventures. Pictures of former companions are joined by string, as if UNIT staff spend their days trying to work out a chronology of the Doctor's adventures and associates. The appearance of Mike Yates in an otherwise very well-known Sara Kingdom photograph must surely inspire a thousand fanfics. We at last see the Space-Time Telegraph referred to in Revenge of the Cybermen and Terror of the Zygons, as if closing a loop between first and second Zygon stories.

Sadly the Black Archive section of the plot fizzled out somewhat. This may be the result of harsh editing and this author's willingness to be misled, but when watching in the cinema, music and performance seemed to suggest wariness and possible betrayal when the two Osgoods shared an inhaler, rather than the conspiratorial reconciliation we were presumably meant to take away and which I could see, eventually, on later viewings. I wanted and expected to return to the Black Archive and see what settlement humans and Zygons achieved; it would have helped maintain the symmetry already established. Perhaps the outcome will be explored in the more Zygoncentric story we seem to have been promised.

Osgood has discovered her own maturity. Doctor Who since 2005 has, one way or another, been about growing up, where it was only intermittently so in the 1963-1989 period. The fourth Doctor asserted that there was no point in being grown-up if you couldn't be childish sometimes, but often maturing was equated with falling in love and getting married, though not always as the end point. (Jo's decision to find adventure and purpose in her trip to Llanfairfach is the point of change, not her marriage to Cliff. Sarah rediscovers childhood wonder, triumphing over cynicism.)

Failing to grow up is an early theme of the War Doctor's conversation with his older/younger selves. The War Doctor has lost his enthusiasm for life and discovery. The first crack in his resolution to use the Moment and end the war comes when the Rose-Moment informs him that if he operates the device, he will survive. Much of the strength of John Hurt's performance comes from his delineation of slow realisation that there is a future to live for, even at great cost. It's an old story, of course - Scrooge has met Christmas Past and Christmas Present and we discover him meeting two unexpected futures. The twist is, here, that the futures aren't especially certain that they deserve to exist. Where the War Doctor rebukes his successors for being ashamed of adulthood, the tenth and eleventh Doctors are ashamed of having been the War Doctor. Throughout, though, the War Doctor is clearly delineated as the Doctor, from his sense of theatre (the carving of 'No More' on the wall at Arcadia, the wish for a big red button) to his relationship with the TARDIS and proprietorship of the Sonic Screwdriver.

Hurt has not played the Doctor before, but his seniority and reputation as an actor are combined with his novelty within Doctor Who to lend authenticity to his running critique of his future - the current programme - from the undercurrents of folk memory. The current Doctors are too youthful; there is too much kissing; the sonic screwdriver is waved about like a weapon when it's a scientific instrument with a specific function. It's tempting to view the saga of the War Doctor as a grumpy old fan reluctant to accept the post-2005 iterations of Doctor Who and slowly reconciled. The occasional appeals to The Three Doctors - probably the most artistically and critically successful previous multi-Doctor anniversary story - recalls Jeremy Bentham's article in Doctor Who Monthly 58, where he argued that Troughton's return had brought many Doctor Who fans of the 1960s who had been alienated by the Doctor's exile to Earth back to the fold. It's surely not an accident that Elizabeth's guard is captained by Lord Bentham, perhaps a fictional forebear of Jeremy. As The Three Doctors built up to a recodification of the series' format, with the Doctor's freedom to travel in time and space formally restored (though it already was in practice), so The Day of the Doctor approaches with greater deliberation the event which has since the series' return, though with varying intensity, defined the Doctor's character and actions.

Before the Moment can be activated the War Doctor has to accept his successors for who they are. The tenth Doctor appears more flippant and less responsible than before. It's unclear whether this 904-year-old Doctor is seen after The Waters of Mars, in denial about his actions and his fate, or in the period between that story and Journey's End. This could allow for the origins of the double portrait of the tenth Doctor and Elizabeth; though given that the portrait bears only a general resemblance to Tennant (though it seemed more precise in 3D) and lacks the precise lines and narrow faces of Elizabethan portraiture, perhaps we are to take it as drawn from Elizabeth's memory, before she turned against the Time Lord king who left and never returned. There's a parallel with The Five Doctors there after all.

One of the ironies of The Day of the Doctor is that the Doctor who has tried hardest to erase himself from the record seeks to save himself - and inadvertently rescues Clara - by inscribing the activation code for Jack Harkness's vortex manipulator on a stone at the Tower of London. In seeking to be forgotten, he's tried also to forget. Instead he has become the version of the Doctor with the greatest number of active friendships, for a while even with a wife and family. He knows how he is shaped by the people who trust him, something with which the tenth Doctor had difficulty. Where the tenth Doctor shaped his friends into his proxies as weapons of war, the eleventh Doctor is himself a weapon, recognised by the Daleks as a predator, by the Cybermen as a battle computer, by the Pandorica coalition and by the Silence as something to be isolated and obliterated to avoid mass destruction. As with his apparent death in The Impossible Astronaut, the Doctor has not been in posession of the full historical record. He is, like the Moment, a weapon with a conscience, but in the Doctor's case that conscience has been misinformed until the last phase of The Day of the Doctor.

Something like The Day of the Doctor has been evolving in Steven Moffat's imagination for a long time. The idea of the Doctor's name as a promise which his actions can break first took shape in The Beast Below. Those commentators who have noted the greater prominence of children in Moffat scripts and those he has supervised compared to those written or executive-produced by Russell T Davies are vindicated. Though I didn't notice her on screen, the official website reports that there is a small child wearing a multicoloured scarf in the Gallifrey scenes, a direct parallel with Osgood. It's not only on Earth that people hope that the Doctor will save them. There seemed to be no place for children in Davies's Gallifrey, a planet of the deranged and many-times resurrected, inhabited by phantoms from its history devoted to victory at any cost, but Doctor Who is a collaborative enterprise open to reimaginings. Moffat imagines a people who are not necessarily at one with their leaders and so have not descended to the level of the Daleks, supported by a military who are exasperated with and on the verge of revolt against the High Council revealed in The End of Time to be dominated by the ruthless ideology of Rassilon. The Time Lords are successfully recalibrated as sympathetic and worthy of rescue in a way they were not in their previous appearance.

As late as The Night of the Doctor, the idea that there could be a distinction between Daleks and Time Lords in the Time War was dismissed as a delusion which the Doctor clung to as consolation for his losses. His faith in human beings acted as compensation for his inability to stop the Time Lords descending into destructive hatred, but it was constantly challenged and at times - such as in Midnight - overwhelmed. Here, hope in both humans and Gallifreyans is shown to promise vindication after all. It's Clara and the Rose-Moment who steer the Doctor towards the realisation that there is no need to destroy Gallifrey. 'No More' need not mean 'Gallifrey Falls'.

The revision of Doctor Who history here has angered some writers who have argued that the integrity of the Christopher Eccleston series in particular has been undermined, or that Steven Moffat's writing absolves all characters from the negative consequences of their actions. This isn't so. Gallifrey is still ravaged by war. Arcadia (realised more prosaically than I'd imagined when its fall was first mentioned in Doomsday) is still a ruin, even though the Dalek conquerors are dead. The people of Gallifrey are left like the Doctor and Susan in An Unearthly Child - cut off without friends or protection, with the aspiration that one day they will return to their own universe. This is a doubtful kind of rescue. Additionally, the fact that neither the War Doctor, the ninth Doctor or the tenth Doctor - or their predecessors - will remember their efforts gives the affair an extra poignancy. Lost in time and with the person who could help them find their way back unable to remember their existence, until The Day of the Doctor the Time Lords might as well be all dead.

The Time Lords might be lost, but their prominence in the story reflects how Doctor Who has been discovered by a worldwide public. In an age of box sets and downloads and streams of various legalities, and just as importantly of numerous reference sites on the internet, backstory is assumed to be much more accessible than it was even when Doctor Who was revived in 2005. The sense of humour expressed by The Day of the Doctor assumes a familiarity with the conventions of the series, even if it isn't what the fandom-literate might recognise. The gag about the 'round things' plays on long-term popular memory without using the 1980s series jargon term 'roundel', though it also maintains the mystery of the TARDIS. The ripple of laughter across the cinema when Kate made her dating protocol joke while requesting the 'Cromer' files confirms the wide dissemination of fan culture at least.

We've seen the end of the tenth Doctor, so here he can only have limited character development. David Tennant's physical appearance is slightly more weathered than it was when he last played the Doctor and it lends emphasis to the nostalgic evidence in his performance. He becomes a caricature of the David Tennant Doctor's image, irresistible to (most) women, emoting but patchily empathic, and suppressing a deep anger with a veneer of nonchalance. At the same time Tennant's timing has if anything improved; his energy is undimmed and the passion in his catchphrases enhanced. These allow for jokes which lightly deconstruct the tenth Doctor's persona: his Mockney accent earns him the label 'Dick Van Dyke', his branded trainers genericised with the archaic regional term 'sandshoes', and Clara's assessment of him is 'nice suit'. At the same time the tenth Doctor's disgust with the eleventh Doctor when he realises his future self has forgotten the number of children alive on Gallifrey at the activation of the Moment jars with what we thought we knew; as the eleventh Doctor says, only partly defusing the awkwardness of the situation, this is what it's like when he talks to himself. The tenth Doctor's departing gag is a gift to local radio quiz hosts everywhere in that the tenth Doctor's last line remains the same, but it also allows him a moment of gravitas. This draws on the reality that David Tennant played the Doctor before Matt Smith and thus enjoys seniority, but that he's playing a younger Doctor who doesn't know the circumstances of his own departure. 'I don't want to go' becomes an almost paternal injunction urging that the eleventh Doctor find a way of avoiding his final death at Trenzalore.

The destruction of Gallifrey is presented as an experience which the Doctor had isolated within his own timeline, the work of an incarnation explicitly created (within and without the narrative) to fight and end the Time War. In contrast the salvation of Gallifrey is the work of every known iteration of the Doctor. It's the act which brings John Hurt's Doctor into the fold. It's one of those moments dubbed fan-pleasing, but it adds, tongue-in-cheek, a unity to Doctor Who which doesn't really exist. John Guilor's lofty and authoritative impersonation of William Hartnell is all the more trans-temporally spine-tingling because this version of the first Doctor sounds authentic but has lines the historical first Doctor wouldn't have said. Bar Guilor-Hartnell and the interpolated Hurt, all the Doctors up to and including Christopher Eccleston are represented by old clips and sampled dialogue. The determination of all concerned that this story look forward as much as it looks back made the inclusion of Peter Capaldi's Doctor inevitable; the new Doctor remains mysterious, a silent presence marked only by his tense grip on the TARDIS controls and angry, fierce eyes which seemed to fill the air in front of the cinema audience.

The Day of The Doctor - Matt Smith as the Doctor (Credit: BBC/Adrian Rogers)In Doctor Who looking forward and looking to the past can end up being the same thing. John Hurt's Doctor's regeneration into the ninth Doctor seemed to use one of the publicity images which dominated billboards across Britain as winter became spring in 2005. The undergallery to which the Doctors return 'Gallifrey Falls' seems to be a different place to that we saw earlier; none of them, nor Clara, note the roundels on the walls. Visual art might be a viewer's TARDIS, but it's been pointed out to me that in The Invasion of Time part of the TARDIS was an art gallery too. Perhaps the undergallery was part of a future TARDIS all the time. Projecting a remote future in which the Doctor once more looks like Tom Baker is unsurprisingly reassuring to someone guided through their childhood by the fourth Doctor. It's a final grand indulgence, but it works; a sage who talks in riddles but offers hope that even after fifty or twelve hundred years it's far from being all over. One day the Doctor will get back, perhaps (given how hackneyed the quest narrative can be) sooner than we think.

The final image of The Day of the Doctor dovetails narrative with marketing imagery in the form of the montage of Doctors, Hartnell set apart but not assuming the overwhelming prominence he did in some early examples of multi-Doctor fan art such as that which adorned the Doctor Who Appreciation Society's information leaflet in the early 1980s. Especially in the cinema, it appears like a poster image or, with the benefit of 3D, a set of collectable action figures. If so, it's a fitting tribute to Doctor Who as licensing phenomenon, as much as earlier scenes have built upon other aspects of the programme's history. It's not an exposition of that history, nor is that history seen as something to rest upon. The laurels are still to be won and this situation can never change in a medium obsessed with new ideas. Current Doctor Who knows this and The Day of the Doctor is forever puncturing the bubbles of self-congratulation until the end.

Earlier in this review I compared The Day of the Doctor to a meringue. Meringues have spaces in them, and there are gaps in The Day of the Doctor. As previously acknowledged, the UNIT-Zygon plot is left unresolved; the audience never sees whether the Doctor is right to hide the preconceptions of humans and Zygons behind the philosophers' veil of ignorance. It's not clear how the Zygons obtained the Time Lord stasis cube, though perhaps we are to infer that Tom Baker's future Doctor orchestrated this situation in order to guarantee a particular future. Of Doctor Who's creators, C.E. Webber might be proud of this, though Sydney Newman would assuredly have written 'Nuts!' Nevertheless, it's these gaps which have contributed towards Doctor Who because they encourage audience speculation; to extend the meringue metaphor, breaking into a meringue placed over fruit and cream lets those flavours seep into the gaps, and those extra flavours were definitely there. Perhaps dessert comparisons are wrong; all the straw in the hut suggests wholemeal bread was ground there, perfect for soaking up cup-a-soup.

Maybe the contrived food analogies are mistaken. Doctor Who is an edifice of mixed materials, a modern storytelling structure of indefinable something but which has some of the qualities of reinforced concrete. It needs frequent repairs and renewal but survives as long as expert care can be found. There are always going to be gaps in some places because they are essential for absorbing the weight of multiple expectations. On the basis of the manufacture of the anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor is now and then and will also continue to be, so long as those responsible for it understand just where the spaces in Doctor Who should be, and what is needed to keep the rest of the structure resilient and flexible. Transformational moments are part of the process of reconstruction. As the eleventh Doctor says, the Doctor changes history all the time; correspondingly, the historical environment in which Doctor Who is made changes the Doctor. The traumatised soldier seeking to atone for the crimes of war was appropriate for the post-9/11 environment, an adventurer for a West struggling to deal with the myriad complexities of a new geopolitics just as its leaders thought their financial sector might have solved want. With a few years of hindsight, The Day of the Doctor might seem part of popular culture's involvement in the delayed reaction to the 2007 crash, an aspiration to the belief that one can make great leaps of ethical responsibility and principle in a universe where it's difficult to distinguish the merely expedient from the greatest moral good.

FILTER: - 50th anniversary - Tenth Doctor - Eleventh Doctor - War Doctor

The Doctors - The ArchiveBookmark and Share

Thursday, 28 November 2013 - Reviewed by John Bowman

The Doctors - The Archive
Published by Trinity Mirror in November 2013
Written by Kenny Smith
This year has, understandably, seen a plethora of publications marking the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Somewhat surprisingly, Radio Times didn't rise to the occasion as it has done so admirably in the past, but another national publication with an equally enviable photo archive has produced a magazine that will surely delight many a fan.

The Doctors - The Archive draws on pictures taken by the Daily Mirror at numerous press calls over the decades, and its 84 glossy pages are filled with numerous black-and-white and colour images, including many mouth-watering ones that are unlikely to have been seen before, such as Jean Marsh as Sara Kingdom on set for the Christmas Day 1965 episode The Feast of Steven.

Other goodies include the Cyber chorus line, staged during the location filming for Silver Nemesis - the 1988 story marking the show's 25th anniversary and in which, as the magazine proudly points out, the Mirror was turned to by Ace to find out the Charlton Athletic football result! (The researcher appears not to know, however, that the newspaper also appeared in the programme ten years earlier, with the edition reporting the sinking of Titanic seen being read by Chancellor Borusa in The Invasion of Time.) The newspaper's links with the show are nicely brought pretty much bang up to the present with a look at a visit to its Canary Wharf headquarters by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan in March 2010.

With so many spectacular images presented in this lavish offering, we are spoiled for highlights and everybody will undoubtedly have their own favourites, but mention must be made of the fabulous behind-the-scenes shots from the Web of Fear location filming, as well as the photocall for the announcement of Jon Pertwee as the Doctor.

Examples of the terrific pictorial content are given here, along with others in our report of its publication. The magazine also includes insightful interviews with many of the people associated with the show, including Raymond Cusick, Donald Tosh, Peter Purves, Wendy Padbury, Alexandra Tynan (formerly Sandra Reid), Louise Jameson, and former Daily Mirror reporter Robert Banks Stewart. In addition, it seizes the opportunity where possible to impart some delightful nuggets of knowledge - for instance, how many of you knew that William Mervyn, who portrayed Sir Charles Summer in The War Machines, was the father of current production designer Michael Pickwoad?!

The cover price of £4.99 (plus postage, where applicable, if ordered online via Amazon or the Mirror) is a refreshingly low sum to fork out in this merchandise-filled day and age in order to be able to drool over such fine professional pictures. As well as being available worldwide online, UK residents should be able to find it in WH Smith, selected supermarkets, and independent newsagents. And having had your appetite well and truly whetted, if you fancy copies of the rare images featured and you've got a bigger budget, they - and many more - are available from £9 per print at

There are some factual errors and regrettable literals, it has to be said, but don't let those very few, minor, nit-picking mistakes put you off. This magazine is most definitely all about the glorious pictures - and that's why it's an undeniable treat of an anniversary publication that deserves a place in Doctor Who collections: a truly impressive Time-Space Visualiser!

FILTER: - Magazine - 50th Anniversary

Doctor Who Official 50th Celebration (ExCeL London, 22-24 November)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 25 November 2013 - Reviewed by Matt Hills
The lead-up to this event wasn’t always the smoothest experience for many people, particularly when an incorrect pre-sale code went out to fans intent on booking TARDIS tickets and Matt Smith photos. But all that is in the past; how did these three days measure up to fan expectations? And what of fears that the Celebration would be overly corporate, lacking in the intimate, sociable atmosphere of smaller fan-run events?

Doctor Who Celebration: Guinness World Record announced (Credit: Matt Hills)For something originally billed as three iterations of essentially the same thing, it wasn’t only the line-up of guest talks, screening commentaries and features that shifted every day. Each day also had a distinct feel to it: different moments, same venue. Day 1 was largely about organisers finding their feet, and realizing what didn’t work and what needed tweaking, leaving guests almost treated as guinea pigs ahead of the actual anniversary date. Saturday hosted the Graham Norton Show, and had fans commemorating the anniversary instant at 5:16pm. By this time things were running more smoothly. However, on Sunday there was a sense of some merchandise stock running out and last-minute scheduling taking hold (“check at the Event Information/Meeting Point”), but most people were in a post-Special haze and were ecstatic to be there for the Guinness world record announcement at the end of the Eleventh Hour panel.

Friday was, in my opinion, fairly chaotic on an organizational front. Far from being slick, polished and corporate, it was sometimes eccentric and amateurish. Visitors wanting to pick up their pre-booked T-shirts were herded into a long queue whilst other merchandise tills were staffed by blue-shirted Crew left twiddling their thumbs. Only after this arrangement became manifestly ludicrous did somebody think to open up T-shirt collection at multiple till points. Similarly peculiar was the first Friday autograph session I attended. Guests had no photos available to sign (unlike most commercial events I’ve attended over the past few years, which almost always give this option), and those autographing had only black pens with which to sign. Utterly useless on the rather nice Show Planner – printed on black – if this was all you had, and not a great deal of use on the Radio Times anniversary cover I’d brought for Kate O’Mara to sign. Again, there was some rethinking later in the event: still no glossy prints for guests to sign, but some metallic Sharpies were acquired. From the approach on Day 1, though, you’d think that the folk running this had never arranged a signing before.

Queuing was a constant problem for certain things. In a self-defeating and strangely anti-commercial move, organisers somehow managed to contrive a situation whereby the official BBC Shop had continually lengthy queues, lacking the necessary floor space and needing to control crowd numbers. This particular shopping destination should have been much bigger on the inside, and I continually overheard complaints from fans trying to get in. Picking up an Enemy of the World DVD became something of a trial, and I’ve no doubt that much time was lost by the poor people queuing to look at show offers and exclusives (there were lots of 5-inch ‘holographic tenth Doctor’ figures left on the shelves at the end of the last day). By contrast, a rather fine 50th anniversary tote bag over at the Plastichead stand sold out by the end of Day 2, leaving Sunday attendees without any chance of picking one up (stupidly I hadn’t bought one earlier).

Official event merchandise offered a range of things: standard gubbins like a keyring (a smart metallic effort), postcard, bookmark, poster, brochure (thankfully it had a pale cover, so this was very useful to collect guest autographs) and a gorgeous anniversary enamel pin set which staff told me was exclusive to the event and limited to 500 sets. Despite this probably being the best of the bunch, it was a little over-priced at £65, and was discounted to £40 towards the end of the final day in an evident effort to boost sales. Such a nakedly commercial move – like a market trader looking to unload his wares – struck me as a curious one, and all the more so since I’d paid full price on Friday (stupidly, I had bought one earlier).

There were some other brilliant show exclusives (or premieres) on the merchandise front: along with the Plastichead tote, Big Chief Studios were offering 25-a-day of their ‘Day of the Doctor’ Tennant exclusive: I arrived first thing on Friday only to find 001 of 100 had just been paid for, and that there were several other dedicated collectors ahead of me in the queue. Sunday also boasted a few ‘Day of the Doctor’ items that could only go on sale after the anniversary special had screened: Underground Toys were selling ‘The Other Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver’, and Dark Bunny Tees – responsible for a great range of T-shirts across this year – unveiled two new designs on the Sunday, including a particularly impressive ‘Space-Time Telegraph’ one.

Doctor Who Celebration: Cold War model on displayBut what of things beyond the collector’s view? Well, there was enough to keep 13 incarnations busy, so you had to plot a time-space path through all the offerings and stick to your preferences. Even spending three days there, you couldn’t exhaust all possible options. As well as Classic Lounge talks and Screening Room live commentaries that could be pre-booked, there were also Stage 1 and 2 features, and these included talks by Phil Collinson, Bernard Cribbins and John Leeson as well as a fantastic Big Finish performance involving members of the audience and a magical demo from special sound maestro Dick Mills. Millennium FX also hosted some highly entertaining demos, whilst the Real SFX stand and a fabulous range of costumes also gave visitors a chance to chat with people who’ve worked on the show. Another personal highlight for me was the section manned by Mat Irvine and Mike Tucker: this featured Mike’s model submarine work from Cold War and an utterly superb set-up of the gateway, Privateer and model TARDIS from one of my all-time favourites, Warriors’ Gate, which I couldn’t recall seeing in this arrangement at an event before, and which Mat said they’d set up as something new for the Celebration. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

With so much happening in this one hall, it was perhaps unsurprising that people didn’t always think to head upstairs to the Screening Room or the Classic Lounge talks. These were often sparsely attended, but I was privileged enough to witness Philip Hinchcliffe and David Collings chatting over episode one of Robots of Death, the energetic Graeme Harper discussing part one of Caves of Androzani, and Andrews Cartmel and Morgan talking over episode three of Remembrance of the Daleks. The legend that is Terrance Dicks also held an audience spellbound whilst discussing The Three Doctors (and I was especially pleased to see the anniversary special acknowledging his input: Terrance talked about his “wheezing, groaning” description of the TARDIS). And Anthony Read’s forthright analysis of The Invasion of Time marked a fascinating end to Sunday’s proceedings, though I suspect many people were already heading home by that point.

The Classic Lounge also delivered some great chats. I only made it to a few of these. Lalla Ward, Bonnie Langford and Mark Strickson were all great: and Lalla, in particular, adopted an idiosyncratic approach to answering questions: she was the only guest I heard across the event informing a fan that their question was unanswerable and so she simply couldn’t respond to it. She also drew gasps from the crowd (and this was a well-attended session) by admitting that she hadn’t seen The Day of the Doctor, and probably never would. Another session with Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines was also hugely entertaining, with Frazer's impersonation of Patrick Troughton earning an impromptu round of applause.

By the last day, the Screening Room and Classic Lounge were being promoted in the main stage Regenerations event, and there seemed to be more signage pointing out their existence. But I was moved to ponder why they had been so poorly attended in many cases. The pre-booking system implied that events were full (or nearly full, with only a few tickets left on the day), but since this was pretty much never true, what went awry between online booking and the event itself? Perhaps people were stuck in queues and couldn’t get to sessions; perhaps some had double-booked and then chosen what to go to (since the online system allowed this); perhaps many visitors with children decided to pursue more kid-friendly events. Whatever the explanation, I was left with the odd sensation that I was in a tiny minority in terms of being interested in Harper, Hinchcliffe and Dicks’ live commentaries: an unexpected outcome for a 50th Celebration. These events also circumvented the commercialization of photos and autographs happening elsewhere, with a good selection of guests being more than happy to pose for pictures and sign autograph books, brochures or Day Planners. Terrance Dicks, Graeme Harper and Andrew Cartmel were all absolute stars, while Fiona Cumming was also lovely after her Castrovalva episode 4 screening, and very happy to chat to fans.

Doctor Who Celebration: Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat on stage (Credit: Matt Hills)Time to focus on the main events. These also varied from day to day, despite occasional repetitions (which actors largely kept fresh-sounding) and a sense that Crew were picking children with very similar questions. Sunday was the real revelation, as this Eleventh Hour panel featured Nick Hurran – director of The Day of the Doctor – and was finally free to discuss the Special, along with showing a number of clips and repeatedly projecting that shot of Capaldi’s eyes onto the big screen. (Is there a fanzine or a blog called Capaldi’s Eyebrows yet? There ought to be: they had become a meme by Sunday). This session also became unexpectedly melancholic, as Steven Moffat revealed this would quite likely be his final panel with Matt, and Matt asked the crowd to “keep the fezzes going after I’m gone”. The Curator’s appearance was also discussed, though part of me wished that Tom Baker and Steven Moffat had been on the same panel on November 23rd, so that fans could ask about the fact that this legendary star had gone up against showrunner control by issuing spoilers about his own involvement. But a question as off-message as this would never have been selected; instead we were mostly treated to stock inquiries (favourite monster/episode).

Doctor Who Celebration: Tom Baker on stage (Credit: Matt Hills)Another variation was the involvement of Tom Baker in Saturday’s Regenerations panel, where he tended to dominate. Peter Davison, sat next to Tom, wore a studiously amused and indulgent expression throughout, with the very slight implication of ‘I knew this would happen’. Perhaps Tom should have been given his own session, but it was truly magical to see him on stage celebrating his time as the Doctor: for those of my generation (I was ten in 1981), this proved to be the day of Tom Baker.

Amongst the cornucopia of Who things, there were also photo opportunities. I was lucky enough to have photos taken with Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman, and these were quickfire but good-natured events. I found both lead actors to be warm and personable, despite the “move along now” setting. Collecting photos on Day 1 involved more standing in a queue, but this had been revised twenty-four hours later, and it was then quick and easy to pop back and get one's picture.

I’d imagine that there are many lessons to be learnt from this event. One of my favourite admissions of organizational error was the fact that by Day 2 a Box Office sign had gone up informing visitors that – contradicting every ticketing email and print-out sent to every attendee as far as I know – "Collection of autographs is not at this desk... Collection of TARDIS photographs is not at this desk... Collection of cast photographs is not at this desk”. Staff admitted that email instructions had caused them many headaches. So, did Crowdsurge modify their processes halfway through planning? Did they even know how the ExCeL would operate? Crowdsurge did, on the other hand, have a habit of sending out emails and new confirmations correcting their multiple errors about event times. Rather like the oddly planned autograph sessions involving one colour of pen (on the Henry Ford principle), you’d almost imagine that the folks organizing this had simply never done it before. Fandom probably cherishes one thing perhaps above all else: attention to detail. And on this basis, organisers sometimes resembled anti-fans, for whom attention to detail was remarkably low on the apparent list of priorities.

And yet, and yet... this all came together as an event from which I’ll cherish many wonderful memories. The entrance to the hall was beautifully done – utilizing I.M Foreman gates, and a replica of the original TARDIS in its junkyard setting, as well as emulating aspects of Lime Grove studios. You really felt like you were emotionally time-travelling as you stepped through the gates, and an expanse of Doctor Who areas and arenas beckoned.

Was it an excessively corporate event? In some ways, perhaps: closing merch discounts certainly struck an off note, and TARDIS VIP tickets promised “exclusive” items in a goodie bag which turned out to contain the exact same Celebration merchandise available to everyone else present. Arguably, TARDIS tickets were really only worth the extra money in order to sit in the first few rows of the auditorium, though the TARDIS lounge did offer a break from all the standing, plus as much tea or coffee as could be humanly imbibed. Meanwhile, standard tickets tended to mean that unless you were very lucky you could only see the guests on-stage on the big screen – inevitable given the size of the audience. But in other ways this was far from corporate: the accessibility of guests outside the contractual circle of current stars was lovely, and attendees were also wonderful: fans happily snapped pictures for their fellow devotees, and I saw almost continual acts of small kindness, as well as those in costume being appreciated by others (there was a magnificent tin-foil Cyberman ahead of me in Friday’s entry queue). The atmosphere was generally supportive, communal and joyous, other than slight bits of queuing grumpiness erupting round the BBC Shop (a sensible response to circumstances, truth be told). Some stars were happy to pose for photos – Bernard Cribbins was a true superstar in this respect – and to sign things that you weren’t immediately buying, e.g. David Warner’s attendance at the Big Finish stand was another great bonus.

In the end, this more than lived up to its title. But Day 1 simply should have been run better – it seems unforgivable to be working out reasonable processes as you go along, whilst also (as I understand it) largely relying on unpaid voluntary Crew labour. And the Celebration should never have been billed as three ‘repeats’ of the same content, as the substance of each day was more than sufficiently varied to merit three days of celebrating, pre and post the 50th. “Three of them!”…but this wasn’t a nightmare, more a dream come true, albeit with occasional darker moments. Happy birthday, Doctor: you did it in style, and those who’ve carried the flame across the past fifty years – and so were perhaps less bound by current brand management – made it especially worthwhile for me, whether that meant chatting to Mat Irvine or getting a photo with Terrance Dicks. Lanyards proclaimed “I was there”, and in years to come this will probably take on the mythic status that Longleat 1983 has already attained for generations of fans.

FILTER: - Event - 50th Anniversary