Doctor Who and the World of Roger Hargreaves - Official Launch EventBookmark and Share

Sunday, 23 April 2017 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley

As has been teased for some time, on Saturday 22nd April two mighty worlds clashed. Doctor Who and The Mr Men were put in a same blender and out popped.....Dr Mister....well four interpretations of four different Doctors, all set in the world first created by Roger Hargreaves back in 1971. The idea is to have a Doctor Who story in the Mr Men format, with all of it's simple shapes and colours,  and simple, broad humour, but told in a way that would appeal to both the young and of course - rather cunningly, us fans.

Doctor Who and the World of Roger Hargreaves Set One (Covers) (Credit: Penguin)The books available at the event were the four released, and I must confess that it seemed quite a random choice of Doctors to introduce into the Hargreaves world. We had Dr First (the first Doctor), Dr Fourth (the fourth - oh you get the idea!), Dr Eleventh and of course Dr Twelfth. 

To launch the series Roger's son, Adam (who has continued the much loved series of books since the death of his father Roger in 1988), was in attendance nestled among daleks and weeping angels, on the top floor of the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff.  

So, I settled down next to a Skovox Blitzer that had defiately seen much better days, and watched the man charm an adoring audience of both young and old. I must confess to being a bit of a fan myself, as a child I was given a new Mr Man book every week, and can remember being rather proud of my little collection. (us fans and our collections eh? - nothing ever changes). 

Hargreaves took questions from both the the host of the event and from the audience while drawing Dr Twelfth for for all to see. And what an eclectic bunch we were, as well as the young, excited children were of course the fans, and they did us proud. There were cosplayers abound. Along with pretty much every incarnation of the Doctor, we had a couple of Osgoods, some Missys and even a Jamie. The cream of the crop though (in my opinion) was a young guy cosplaying as Missy in the full Edwardian dress, make up and varnished nails. He looked stunning.......and very, very tall.

Nuggets gleaned from the Q and A were that Dr Fourth was Adam's favourite to draw, as he loved the scarf and hat. He had drawn (spoilers) a Sea Devil, and took the colours of his Doctors were inspired by clothing they wore. He also divulged that the BBC has quite a bit of involvement in the stories, and the development of how the characters look. Also that the Mr Men books themselves started when Adam asked his Dad what a tickle looked like.

There was a break for lunch, during which a promotional video for the new range was shown, it was quite amusing to see cute little daleks scooting over the green hills of Hargreaves world. A sweet looking weeping angel stalking closer and closer to the camera, and a chunky little cyberman smiling cheerfully while taking pictures. The short film on a loop made me want to read the books, so it was obviously doing it's job.

Doctor Who and the World of Roger Hargreaves (Credit: Matt Tiley)When Hargreaves returned, he started signing. There were a lot of people wanting signed copies, evidently more than expected as the event over-ran slightly. The long queue for autographed copies snaked in front of a stone dalek around a brightly coloured Moffat dalek (urgh!) and all the way back to a wooden cyberman. I have to confess to having a quiet little chuckle to myself, as now and again I did notice Hargreaves give one or two puzzled and mildly concerned looks at some of the more elaborate cosplayers who were seeking his autograph. Welcome to our world sir.

By the time most of Cardiff (or so it seemed) had managed to get their books signed, we moved onto to a special video presentation. It was a reading of Dr Twelfth by none other than Missy herself, Michelle Gomez. Missy (quite rightly) featured heavily in the Dr Twelfth book. It is essentially the story of Missy stealing artefacts throughout time with the Doctor in hot pursuit, until he stops to have something to eat. It was obviously all very Doctor Who and all very Mr Men.

 

Doctor Who and the World of Roger Hargreaves: Set Two (Covers)Finally we had the big reveal - and that was the unveiling the next four entrants into this seemingly bizarre (but incredibly cute) cross over universe. There were clues given for each new Doctor who was to have the Mr Men treatment, the best by far being a road sign that simply said 'North'. The new Doctors were......Dr Second, Dr Seventh, Dr Eighth and yes, you guessed it, Dr Ninth. Dr Seventh with his cute little hat and question mark umbrella seemed to particularly suit this new range. After the announcement, a stunning looking cake was unveiled and the crowd went wild.

So, to sum up, it was a lovely afternoon, spent in the company of a very genial and patient man, who is obviously very proud and passionate about his father's brand. A brand that I'm surethat now, with the involvement of the BBC and Dr Who can only strengthen further.

As people started to disperse I made a quiet exit through the gift shop, and like the marketer's dream that I am, purchased an I.M. Foreman, Totters Yard hoodie on the way out.





Doctor Who World Tour Sydney Press ConferenceBookmark and Share

Thursday, 21 August 2014 - Reviewed by Tim Hunter
An email from BBC Worldwide inviting me to a screening of Deep Breath and press conference with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as part of the Australian leg of the Doctor Who World Tour is hard to refuse – even if it is in Sydney. I’m a Melbourne boy, about 900kms (and an hour and a half flight or 12-hour train trip away – further than the 240kms Cardiff is from London) south of Sydney, but how could I say no? So I booked a cheap flight to Sydney, arranged to stay with an old friend the night before, and I was set.

I’ve met, and done an interview in person with one other Doctor, Peter Davison, when he was here hosting the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular earlier this year, and I’ve done phone interviews with previous Doctors David Tennant and Matt Smith (as well as quite a few companion actors), but this was going to be the first time I would be in the same space as a current Doctor and companion. Capaldi and Coleman are the first 21st century TARDIS team to visit Australia, so of course, there was lots of excitement and anticipation.

I wasn’t the only one travelling to Sydney for this event; a fellow Melbourne journalist was also flying up, Doctor Who news contributor Adam Kirk was travelling across from Canberra, and on my flight was a couple, one dressed in an outfit resembling the Seventh Doctor’s TV Movie ensemble, and one wearing a Tom Baker scarf. Now that’s showing your true colours.

The press screening and Q&A were taking place at a cinema on Circular Quay, not far from the Sydney Opera House and across from the Harbour Bridge. Kick-off time was 9.15am, but I arrived early to catch up with Adam for a coffee and a chat. The café we chose had a great view of the Harbour, and as a result the price of the coffee was inflated, and the coffee not that great – very Parisian. But I’m a true Melbourne boy, and we take our coffee seriously.

Once coffee was done, we headed into the cinema foyer, and were greeted with the TARDIS – or at least a travelling TARDIS prop. After signing a confidentiality agreement (so no spoilers, I’m afraid Sweetie), we were given a press kit, complete with a press-out mini TARDIS to assemble at home, and then ushered into the cinema.

Local ABC Radio presenter Adam Spencer introduced the screening, and then it was time for a ‘Deep Breath’. It’s always fun watching a brand new episode with an audience; observing their reactions, laughing along with them, feeling the anticipation and sharing in the joy. And of course I won’t be giving anything away, but it does involve a dinosaur in Victorian London, the Paternoster Gang and a newspaper.

The episode was well received – of course, and as Adam returned to the stage and asked for comments from the crowd, it was like everyone was still processing it and not yet ready to articulate their thoughts. Then Peter and Jenna arrived, and soon they settled in for a chat with Adam. They covered a lot of ground, from casting to their first day filming together.

Q&A press conferences can be curious beasts. It’s kicking it off that’s always awkward and Adam did a good job launching straight into the questions, but when it was time for questions from the audience, everyone was a bit hesitant – no one likes to be the first, and there’s always the fear that you’ll ask a stupid question and make a dick of yourself. Once the audience got going though, there was a sudden flood of questions, mostly intelligent and thoughtful. There’s always one out of left field though, and someone asked Peter if he was going to follow in Christopher Eccleston’s steps and just do one season. Peter, Jenna and Adam looked a little taken aback, and you could feel the rest of the audience shift uncomfortably. Peter confirmed he was doing the Christmas Special, of course, and remained enigmatic beyond that, if a little mystified by the question himself.

Then it was time for Peter and Jenna to head out for the photo shoot. The TARDIS had been moved outside, and with the Harbour Bridge as a backdrop, Peter and Jenna posed for a tight and demanding group of photographers, a mix of professional paparazzi and amateur snappers. They were of course accommodating and graceful, responding to calls to turn this way or that, to go inside the TARDIS, outside the TARDIS, you get the idea. And of course, the commotion attracted a lot of passers-by and tourists all wondering what was going on. Some recognised Peter and the TARDIS; others had no idea. But the iPhones and cameras clicked away.

Adam and I managed to squeeze in for some good shots, but couldn’t get close enough to actually talk to Peter or Jenna. And then they were whisked away by a phalanx of publicists and minders, leaving the TARDIS available for a few selfies. We also managed to get interviewed ourselves about our thoughts on ‘Deep Breath’ and the Twelfth Doctor. And then the TARDIS disappeared and it was all over – as if if had never been there. But we will always remember that it was.




Once, A New Musical with Arthur DarvillBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 8 April 2014 - Reviewed by Marcus

Playright: Enda Walsh
Music and Lyrics: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová
Director: John Tiffany
Opened New York: 6 December 2011
Opened London: 9 April 2013
Current London Cast: Arthur Darvill, Zrinka Cvitešić, Fiona Bruce, Mark Carlisle, Jamie Cameron, Matthew Ganley, Mathew Hamper, Allison Harding, Daniel Healy, David Hunter, Loren O’Dair, Tim Parker, Miria Parvin, Tim Prottey-Jones, Sophie Reid, Christina Tedders, Alex Turney, Jez Unwin, Ruth Westley, Robbie White
Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London
Once, A New Musical has been running in London's West End for over a year now, but its latest star has drawn a new crowd of Doctor Who fans, as Arthur Darvill takes over the role of Guy for the next month.

The role is a very different one for Darvill, far from the reluctant hero Rory dominated by his assertive wife, and patrons expecting to see a musical version of Rory will be disappointed. But in the role of Guy, Darvill is outstanding. It is a role he has played on Broadway and one in which he excels, bringing a reality and grit to what could be an over-sentimental piece.

The musical takes place at the Phoenix Theatre in London, but on entering the auditorium you find yourself in a Dublin bar. Indeed, a real bar with real drinks being served stands at the back of the stage, with members of the audience being encouraged up to spend some money and listen to some good Irish music. It's a very clever device which puts the audience in the centre of the action from the very start, literally mingling with the show's cast, and you hardly notice when the stage managers gently move the audience members into the stalls and the action begins.

In the show Darvill plays a Dublin busker and vacuum cleaner repair man, pining for a lost love. It's a role he seizes with relish and it gives him a chance to return to his musical roots. He belts out his numbers with a passion and energy that lifts the whole show. He has a fine strong voice and as he pours his heart into the songs you really feel his pain, passion and frustration.

In the story he meets a young Czech woman in the bar who is moved by his music and they start to fall in love. The girl is played by Zrinka Cvitešić who has been with the production since its London premiere and who is delightful in the role, bringing a playfulness and vitality and a zest for life to the role, which sees her tease and cajole Guy into performing his music and bringing him out of the depression he was mired in.

The whole cast perform their own music, and as the musical proceeds bring a whole raft of characters to life, from the girl's eccentric flatmates to the Irish bank manager with a hidden secret. The fact that there is no orchestra churning out a backing track, with all the music coming from the players on stage, again feeds into the reality of the show and draws the audience into the action.

All in all, it is a very entertaining evening. Darvill is with the London cast until 10th May, with the production booking into next year.


For more information on the production visit the official website or the Once, The Musical Facebook page.
Thanks to Dewynters