Doctor Who -
Looking At Past, Present and Future
Before the End of Time...
“Good morning, class, and welcome
to Doctor Who 101.”
Tennant greets his first Comic-Con crowd...
No normal eighteen-year-old would arrive at school three
hours early for a lecture—unless the lecture hall
was the grand Ballroom 20 in the San Diego Convention Center,
and the main speaker happened to be the Doctor. Just “The
For his very
first appearance at Comic-Con, David Tennant was given a
proper superstar’s welcome, complete with a standing
ovation, thousands of screaming fans, and multiple declarations
of undying love throughout the panel.
After about the
tenth “We Love You!” interruption, David playfully
responded, “We love YOU. Each one of you in a slightly
different individual way. I want you to know that.”
panel was filled with other fun moments, in addition to
the expected nostalgia as David Tennant, Russell T. Davies,
Julie Gardner, and Euros Lyn looked back on their work in
the show. Plans for the future were also discussed, beginning
with the widely spread rumor of a movie.
Right off the
bat, Julie Gardner and Russell T. Davies gave an announcement
regarding the Doctor Who feature film: “We don’t
have one.” The crowd awwwwed in disappointment as
Julie explained how she didn’t know where the rumor
Julie continued, “it’s made us think that it
might be a good idea to do it at some point. Is this something
you’d like?” Oh yes, definitely yes. I don’t
particularly like all the teasing over the possibility of
a Who movie—but I can’t deny that I really,
really want more of David Tennant as the Doctor, especially
if he’s super-sized on the silver screen.
Once the movie
rumors were dismissed, we were treated to a preview of the
final episodes of the Tenth Doctor. Underscored by slow
metal clanking, a grave voice (Timothy Dalton) speaks of
how everyone had a bad dream in the final days of planet
Earth. Maniacally laughing faces flash across the screen,
followed by the Doctor looking around worriedly, a man in
a black suit, and—SPOILERS AHEAD!—Wilf, Ood
Sigma, Donna’s mother, and to everyone’s delight,
Donna Noble herself.
If that wasn’t
enough to get you excited, we then see the back of a lone
dark figure with a simple hooded sweatshirt. The clanking
speeds up with images of a woman screaming, a red-eyed Ood,
and more anxious faces. The Doctor is seen approaching the
dark figure. Suddenly the frantic clanking stops…
and then a whisper: “He returns!” The hood comes
off and the figure reveals himself. “My name is the
Master.” Screaming. Lots of screaming. An ominous
shot of the Doctor walking in front of fire precedes the
equally ominous title: “The End of Time. Christmas
Amidst quickly flashing images, frenzied clanking metal,
the crowd’s wild reactions, it would take a great
deal of concentration to absorb everything in that trailer.
David Tennant thought the exact same thing and insisted
that they show the clip again. Everyone laughed and roared
the clip again!"
asked some questions about the cultural impact of Doctor
Who in the United Kingdom and how Russell T. Davies
came about reviving the show for a modern audience. Russell
commented how Doctor Who was so ingrained in the British
consciousness, that it only seemed right to bring it back.
Julie and David expressed their astonishment over Doctor
Who’s popularity in the United States specifically.
“They told us no one watches the show over here.”
In general, they were all gobsmacked by the show’s
immense success. After four years as the Doctor, David is
still a little weirded out at seeing his face on a cake.
After the moderator’s
questions, the Guinness Book of World Records presented
an award for Most Successful Science Fiction Show of All
Time. “It is too good a show to have just the longest
running record,” said Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief.
Once they counted up things like “DVD sales, book
sales, downloads, iPlayer [BBC] downloads, illegal downloads,
we realized that Doctor Who is the most successful
sci-fi show on TV.”
the award humorously, worrying about a possible Comic-Con
war over the award, then taunting with “Eat that,
Supernatural. Eat me, Supernatural –
oh, did I really just say that?” He went on to dedicate
the award to Verity Lambert, the late founding producer
of Doctor Who, and praised her for all the work
she put into launching the show.
The Q&A portion had some of the usual inquiries: “Which
Doctor would you want to be? Which assistant did you like
best? What was your most memorable moment on the set?”
David gave the traditional, political answers to those questions
about favorite episodes and assistants and past Doctors,
explaining that “it genuinely feels like choosing
between your children. It feels wrong.”
became more engaging when the panel reminisced about their
personal Doctor Who experiences. One audience member
asked the panel how they dealt with the regeneration of
their first Doctor and if they had any advice on how to
handle that trauma. Russell remembered watching William
Hartnell, the first Doctor, change into Patrick Troughton,
a scene that is missing in the archives. “As for the
trauma coming up for you, that is quite fearsome and horrific,”
warned Russell. Oh dear. Euros Lyn, the director of the
final episodes, revealed that while watching the last twenty
minutes of the finale, Who musical composer Murray
Gold started shaking and sobbing uncontrollably into his
hands. I would have laughed more at this, if it wasn’t
for the chorus of “Oh noooo” ringing through
the room. I’ve gone through many a tissue box because
of Doctor Who, and Euros’ warning means I’m
probably going to have to start stocking up NOW.
WANT to make us cry.
Russell followed up with one hint about the impending doom.
“He will knock four times.”
“DON’T ANSWER IT!” a fan yelled desperately.
David said he
couldn’t conceive of what it would be like without
Tom Baker—and then Peter Davidson came along. “Within
three weeks, I thought he was the best,” admitted
David. He seemed to be preparing us fans for when Matt Smith
eventually takes his place as the Doctor. Change is part
of the show, and our ability to accept that change is what
keeps a show like Doctor Who alive.
From that point,
the panel became pure fun. One fan mentioned hearing that
John Barrowman has stolen things from the Doctor Who
set and wondered if any of the guests had stolen anything
for themselves. Julie joked, “I think John Barrowman
just stole things off the set so he could be strip-searched
on the way out.” At least I think it was a joke. David
did reveal that one of the Doctor’s jackets, which
becomes “compromised” in the final episodes,
did go missing during production.
When asked about
certain upcoming projects, David replied, “There’s
a new rumor every day at Comic-Con. Apparently I’m
playing the Hobbit. Though I haven’t got a phone call.”
This particular one prompted the audience to shout suggestions,
like Harry Potter (he kindly reminded them that
he died in Harry Potter), James Bond (already taken),
and the Riddler.
In regards to the possibility of returning as the Doctor
in a charity event or a movie, David could only say, “Who
knows? I think the dust has to settle, but…it’s
the fiftieth anniversary in 2013, isn’t it? I don’t
know.” Just after he smiled and shrugged his shoulders
and the cheers grow louder, David quickly added, “That’s
not me making an announcement! NO! No plans. Don’t
Twitter that!” Oops. Too late. (I plead not guilty!)
“That’s not a thing… Yet.” Such
and energy of the panel only grew more vibrant. A fan talked
about David being the fastest Doctor on four wheels, referring
to his appearance on Top Gear. David admitted to
still holding a grudge against Billie Piper for beating
him on the leader board by just 0.2 seconds. He quipped
that he’s only behind Billie Piper because she was
wearing a see-through top. “And if Billie Piper didn’t
have such great breasts, I would be higher up [the leader
Billie Piper's attributes...
One of the more
touching moments of the panel was when David was asked about
his favorite Doctor Who moment, not as an actor
but as a longtime fan of the series. In his very first read-through
upon getting the role, David was terrified of the idea that
everyone who had ever worked for the BBC would turn up at
the read-through. “I kept thinking I caught Jimmy
Nesbitt out of the corner of my eye, Michael Sheen having
a cup of coffee… The replacements are lining up,”
halfway through ["School Reunion"], this voice
from my childhood was calling me ‘Doctor’.”
David recalled how special it was to have the eight-year-old
boy meet his thirty-five year old self. “Suddenly
he wasn’t in the playground anymore, but was doing
it for real—yet was still being called ‘the
Doctor’ by Sarah Jane.”
Who’s future, a fan asked David if he had
any words of wisdom for Matt Smith, who will soon debut
as the eleventh Doctor. David had chatted with Matt a few
times and concluded that Matt didn’t really need any
advice from him in particular. He described Matt as very
enthusiastic, and everybody in Britain who had worked with
Matt has nothing but praise for him.
quite clearly going to be brilliant,” David said with
all honesty. From I’ve seen of Matt Smith’s
Doctor, he definitely has the oddness of the character (minus
the iffy hair from previous promotional photos), what with
the bowtie paired with matching suspenders, a tweed jacket
with elbow patches, rolled up trousers, and boots. Reminds
me of a quirky science teacher.
Julie has begun filming the movie...
Not that that's a thing...
Smith turns out to be as promising and talented as the panel
suggests, and as amusing and energetic as his outfit looks,
then I won’t mind graduating from the Tenth and moving
on to lessons with the Eleventh. It may be challenging to
deal with the new faces—Smith replacing Tennant and
Steven Moffat taking over Davies as the head writer—but
as a student of the Doctor Who universe, you need
to accept these kinds of changes, or else you won’t
be able to fully enjoy the experience. And not to brag or
anything, but I’m a pretty good student.