The Faces of the Doctor

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    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift  It’s OK, I don’t think you’ve gone mad(der?).  When I made that post I’d been awake since 7:00 am on Thursday and finally got some sleep between 11:30 and 17:45 on Saturday! I probably misread/understood your post due to a sleep deprived/caffine soaked brain 🙂   (Not a good idea to drink coffee when your an extreme insomniac)

    Reading your posts on the Guardian blog I’d have to agree to a certain similarity of thought processes. NIce to ‘see’ other familiar faces on there as well.

    Incidentally, The City Of Death was the last BG Who I ever watched. I was approaching my teens and realised there were more important things to do. So, instead of watching TV, I started having fun hanging around Birmingham New Street station being followed by older men in dirty coats. Yep that’s right, I’d discovered the joys of ………. train-spotting!

    Plus, the ‘reveal’ of Scaroth’s true form scared the bejesus out of me and I went running into the kitchen cos my Nan was in there and I knew I’d be safe. My Nan was a formidable lady, she made Corrie’s Ena Sharples, ‘Enders Lou Beale and the various ‘battleaxe’ characters played by the marvellous Peggy Mount seem like sweet little old ladies (apologies to the younger and/or non-British members who might not get the references).

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Another month, another Doctor in the celebratory range of books. Alex Scarrow tackles the Eighth Doctor, in Spore.

    He says:

    “I am squeeing like an over-sugared toddler at the thought of being part of this project. Doctor Who is an export this country can be proud of. We OWN time travel. My small part in this project was to breathe life back into the least known, Eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann. I chose him because I felt I had the most room to manoeuvre, to explore a lesser known Doctor and add flesh to his character. In my story entitled Spore, we’re getting a particularly grisly tale of an intelligent virus that liquifies and absorbs any creature it infects. All in all… quite gross – liquified people an’ all.”

    As ever, the Guardian has an extract.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Shada was the famous “lost” story from Tom Bakers period written by Douglas Adams. There have been a few different attempts to cover it (the most recent in novel form).

    The BBC did a webcast series of it with Paul McGann as the Doctor and featuring Lalla Ward returning as Romana. You can still access it on the BBC website (you’ll need flash for video or real time for audio only). (thanks to stevethewhistle for providing the link).

    This is also quite funny and shows how animation techniques have developed as this is a fan effort. It is an short extract from one the audio plays “Orbis” and sees the Doctor talking about his age. And how confusing it may get.

    MintyCyberman @mintycyberman


    Wow, you lot write lots of long winded posts don’t you? I liked Troughton the most cos he fought the Cybermen a lot.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Those Splendid Chaps in Oz are at it again with another Podcast talking about Doctor Eight and the general subject of Science portrayed throughout the run of Doctor Who.

    To those who have resisted, they come across like a superior Radio 4 comedy (in my mind a compliment), that’s pretty Doctor Who centric. The really interesting stuff comes in the second half of the show, with three scientists talking about how Science is portrayed. This and the Religion one last month are pretty good topics for conversation I think for blogposts, if anyone wants to listen and write something.

    Unfortunately, this type of activity may lead to more of those long posts that seem to confuse @mintycyberman. I don’t know – with hundreds and thousands of internet portals to talk about WHO on, he has to sign in to this one, just about the only one populated by people who aren’t intellectually taxed by a post that’s longer than something “tweeted”.

    What an unlucky Bastard.

    Cameron @cameronk

    My personal opinion is that there is an obvious change from the old series to the new. Many people criticize Eccleston’s Doctor but I think that he was perfect, the Tenth Doctor says it himself that when he 1st met Rose he was full of war and hatred. We have to take into account that Eccleston’s Doctor had just left the Time War and it had changed him. In later episodes of the revived series, The Doctor says that he became a torturous monster in the war and when we meet Eccleston’s Doctor I realized that he was clearly a changed Doctor. Throughout series one of the revived series, the 9th Doctor constantly takes more violent approaches to things, and by the finale, Rose has helped the Doctor calm into a more peaceful person, like he used to be. When the 9th Doctor has to make the choice to use the Delta Wave, I think he would have pushed the trigger if it were the beginning of the series, but with Rose’s help he thinks about what he is doing.

    The Doctor clearly knows himself that he is a changed man, but he knows he is not changed enough, I think this is why he greets regeneration not as deeply, he knows that he will come out of it an even better man. The Tenth Doctor comes out as a more emotional man, he is more thoughtful and uses his intelligence to it’s full advantage (something I didn’t see in Ecclestone). The Tenth Doctor lives life as well as he can and tries to adventure and have as much fun as possible. This is where I began to see him becoming more like the Doctor we saw in the old series. The Tenth Doctor is upset when he is dying because he doesn’t want to change into a new man, it is clear that after the Time War and his 9th incarnation, he likes his new self and is worried of what he may become.

    With the 11th Doctor though I saw a childish but highly intelligent Doctor. His previous incarnations were all as brave as him but most of them found running away more fun. The 11th Doctor however, stands in the face of battle and embraces his enemies. I likes this about him.

    That’s how I have seen the series’ revival but I never really like Matt Smith’s era. I liked his portrayal of the Doctor and the storylines were well written, what I didn’t like was the way the show was done, The TARDIS, the aliens and the setup in general looked like a children’s program and I didn’t like the changed style of the show, until….

    When I watched series 7 part 2 with Clara as the companion, the show had a slight re branding and the hole thing looked 10 times better. When I found out that Smith would be leaving at Christmas, I was devastated, but in a completely different way from when Tennant was leaving. I had just started liking the direction of the show with Smith at the center and BAM! He’s gone.

    On the plus side Peter Capaldi is going to be taking over the prestigious role as the iconic Doctor with Clara at his side, and I think he will bring a change to the show that could easily be for the good. There is nothing wrong with an older Doctor.

    That’s all just my opinion though,


    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Preview of Prisoners of Time #8, which features the 8th Dr…

    Islek @islek

    I am excited about an older doctor too.

    I am new to this forum (and forums, generally) and have only seen AG Who.

    Eccleston was my first doctor and I love him and almost everything about season 1. He is an angry and wounded person who has trouble with lightheartedness (he does play it really awkwardly). He is a dark doctor but I think Tennant is both sillier AND darker.

    The 9th doctor is guarded and snarky and a little bit rude, and slowly he grows more attached to Rose, and by the end of the season he refuses to kill the daleks and the earth, and sacrifices himself for Rose without very many qualms. Then Ten appears and seems like he’s recovered quite a lot: he seems happier and more fun. He’s constantly exclaiming about how wonderful humanity is (whereas Nine just made fun of humanity), probably because of Rose. He seems to be at the stage of grief where, because he feels better, he thinks he is better. He and Rose are kind of annoying together in season two because they’re so silly they’re a little bit oblivious and it seems like he’s overcompensating. And when he is retraumatized by losing Rose he gets really dark really fast at the end of “The Runaway Bride,”  doing basically what he refused to do at the end of “The Parting of the Ways,” and what he diposes Harriet Jones for doing at the end of “The Christmas Invasion.” Then the rest of his run plays out like that: he tries so hard to do things right and to help, and he keeps messing up and losing the people he loves. He’s very vocal about his principles but by “The Waters of Mars” he throws them all out because he’s gotten so desparate and he’s so wounded still. And that doesn’t work for him either. And then he dies.

    This is an article that describes it well:

    Matt Smith’s doctor, compared to Tennant’s doctor and Davies’ super tragic arc, does seem older, wiser and calmer to me. He’s hurt but carries it better, he’s eccentric but doesn’t seem awkward with it (like Eccleston), or bombastic and manic (like Tennant). He also does some morally ambigious things (leaving older Amy behind in “The Girl Who Waited,” leaving Solomon to die in “Dinasaurs on a Spaceship,” but he seems to have accepted this as part of his character and so he doesn’t talk about how non-violent he is like Tennant does and therefore seems less hypocritical. He knows himself a little better. Thoughts?

    Also, if it wasn’t clear (it might not have been) Tennant is my favorite doctor.

    Also, does anyone want to discuss “Midnight” in detail? I just rewatched it and love it!

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @cameronk and @islek

    Many thanks for the reads. Don’t be put off by lack of response, as I think a lot of us made the decision to try to tackle one Doctor a month to stretch out this conversation to the anniversary, and we are just getting to the modern Doctors now.

    @islek, if you’d like to give us your thoughts on Midnight, a better venue might be this blog about peoples 20 best “AG – After Gap” stories, as a couple of people have selected Midnight. It might revitalise the blog after a period of inactivity.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    For the Ninth month, we focus on the Ninth Doctor played on screen by Christopher Ecclestone. Your thoughts on him, and any of his predecessors are welcome.

    Rose debuted on 26th March 2005 with an audience of 10.81 million viewers and an AI of 76.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    “Do you wanna come with me? ‘Cause if you do, then I should warn you — you’re gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past. Aliens from the future. The day the Earth died in a ball of flame. It won’t be quiet, it won’t be safe, and it won’t be calm. But I’ll tell you what it will be: The trip of a lifetime!”

    The Ninth Doctor, the series 1 trailer

    As I mentioned before, the BBC announced the return of the show shortly before the 40th anniversary. Naturally speculation started straight away on who would be the next Doctor, and seemed to go on and bloody on. It was six months before we had a name, during which time everyone seemed to be mentioned. Even bloody Timmy Mallet. March 2004 saw the BBC announce a bloke called Christopher Eccleston had won the part. Parts of the internet that concerned Doctor Who exploded.

    You have to remember that memories of the show carried an awful lot of baggage of the worst aspects of the eighties. The gaudy light entertainment excesses and low production values. Announcing Christopher Eccleston was like a statement of intent by the creatives in that they were not pissing about here. Chris was a serious actor. They were taking this seriously. The teaser trailer for the show increased excitement. A northern Doctor?! Explosions!! A gorgeous looking TARDIS! A note of concern was ever present though and concerned the casting of former pop princess Billie Piper as the companion. The internet sulked about that one for months.

    And so the show came back in 2005. In retrospect Series 1 is a mixed bag which seems determined to try everything in a bid to find its feet. There are real moments of greatness in it though. From my perspective Rose was a great intro but aspects like plastic Mickey and the burping wheelie bin just dragged me out of the story. The End of the World is fun and campy, but the ending with the Doctor trying to tell Rose how he experiences the Universe is magnificent. I thought The Unquiet Dead was a cracking yarn made complete with Simon Callow’s boisterous turn as Charles Dickens (a great choice, his one man shows as Dickens are a real treat).

    I had real problems with the first two parter, Aliens of London/World War Three, largely because of the farting aliens thing. Dalek blew me away though, with the return of the old pepperpots being signalled by taking everything that was joked about their design and making it unpleasant again. Ecclestone really comes into his own here almost spitting with anger and anguish. Brilliant stuff.

    The Long Game has its problems, but as a setup for future episodes and an introduction to the idea that there may be consequences of the Doctors actions and lifestyle, it does its job and is enlivened by a slimy turn from Simon Pegg as the Editor.

    Father’s Day I still find an astonishing episode, containing a lot of emotional content that the old series would struggle with back in the day. It’s a great episode for both Ecclestone and Piper with a great sucker punch at the end. The Empty Child and Doctor Dances is a great double parter for me with another sparkling turn by Ecclestone, the intro for Captain Jack and a great couple of guest spots in Richard Wilson and Florence Hoath as Nancy. Again, it contains a lot of emotional depth with Nancy that I do think the old series would have veered away from.

    Boom Town is a bit of a low point, but Ecclestone is still really engaging, especially in his dinner scene with the Mayor.

    Bad Wolf could have raised blood pressure by featuring the Light Entertainment guests (Anne Robinson, Trinny and Susannah) that Who fandom had come to view with trepidation, but they actually come across as well observed pastiches with an underlying satirical view of that genre. The finale Parting of the Ways I thought well executed in the main, but really belongs to Rose. I think the final words of Doctor Nine are well chosen:

    “Rose… before I go, I just want to tell you: you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? … So was I!”

    Because I think he was fantastic, in his way. Whereas other actors had problems with the baggage, he appeared to want to challenge it. To take the opportunity to go into territory he hadn’t really done before. To play charming, in his own words. In one short series, the cast and crew introduced a new generation to everything important about the show, including the excitement of regeneration. Recognisably Doctor Who, but informed by a host of other influences.

    There seems to be aspects of fandom who are keen to portray him as some kind of villain these days. Largely because of his refusal to come back, and his lack of participation with fans, not doing the convention circuit, et al. I frankly couldn’t give two shits about that. We have a lot to thank him, and everyone who was involved in Series 1 for. So, from me, many thanks Mr. Ecclestone.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Just before the show started, BBC Breakfast sent someone to interview Chris about the show, and he talks about his hopes for the show and his memories of its early years.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    I think, in retrospect, I don’t like the Ninth Doctor. Not because of Chris Eccleston’s refusal to do the convention circuit or to return for even a cameo; I have a very distinct impression that his time on Doctor Who wasn’t happy. And if that’s the case, his determination not to go back or relive the experience at conventions becomes entirely understandable.

    But the first series of AG Who remains the only AG series where I had some episodes recorded-but-unwatched weeks after I was physically able to watch them. I’m still not entirely sure I ever did watch The Long Game and the Parting of the Ways all the way through. I was on board until World War Three; I remember watching the first part of ‘Dalek’ – and then I had to stop watching ‘Dalek’ part way through for some reason, and I didn’t watch the rest of the episode until it was well into David Tennant’s run and I’d finally bought the Series 1 DVD.

    And it was like that for the remainder of the series. If I had the time, I watched the episode. If I didn’t – I wasn’t too bothered. Yet as soon as David Tennant stepped on board, that became unthinkable. Matt Smith, likewise, has kept me gripped.

    So what did Christopher Eccleston not have, that Tennant and Smith both did? Funnily enough, I think watching Caves of Androzani has been helpful, because I felt very much the same way about Peter Davison right up until Caves. Davison didn’t feel as though he was comfortable being the Doctor – until his very last on-screen story, when he suddenly seemed to pass through that barrier and ‘get’ his Doctor.

    The way that came across on screen was that this incarnation of the Doctor didn’t feel comfortable about himself. Christopher Eccleston, likewise, never felt like someone who was happy about this entire Doctor Who thing – and so his Doctor never seems to be really, definitely there. This is a man who knows the steps, but can’t yet dance.

    Of course, we may discover that this is going to be retconned into making perfect sense. The Ninth Doctor isn’t the Ninth Incarnation.  He’s the Ninth Doctor. He’s somebody who was trying to rediscover the role; somebody coming back to ‘The Name of The Doctor’ after being deeply, profoundly lost. 

    Is he fantastic? Yes. I don’t think it matters that old fans like me spent a series not being entirely happy – Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor carried an entire new generation through Series 1 and into a regeneration. And he was funny (though he doesn’t have a light touch with humour) and he was goofy, and he did have charm. Without his willingness to take a risk, there would have been no David Tennant and no Matt Smith.

    When we rewatched Empty Child/Doctor Dances, one of my comments was that the rewatch made me think how much better those stories would have been with David Tennant (or Matt Smith). But if you look at those episodes another way – as the story of someone who has to have, finally, a moment where ‘everybody lives!’ before he can get back to being The Doctor – then Eccleston’s perfect.


    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Christopher Eccleston on Jonathan Ross March 2005

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    The Ninth Doctor isn’t the Ninth Incarnation. He’s the Ninth Doctor. He’s somebody who was trying to rediscover the role; somebody coming back to ‘The Name of The Doctor’ after being deeply, profoundly lost.

    I think this is a great way of looking at it, which is why I’m so drawn to the idea of HurtDoctor being his immediate predecessor. What actually strikes me is that both BG in 1963, and AG in 2005 start with Doctors who are arguably untypical to the conventional idea of “The Doctor” in different ways. They seem to stand out in a way. I think Tennant can be seen as a Troughton figure who was more likely to disarm an audience.

    The 2005 series did seem to have problems in establishing a tone, but I guess everyone was feeling their way through it. If you look at the AI index, Rose was actually rated slightly less than the McGann Movie (and that’s not the whole truth – average AIs for drama had increased in the near decade since the Movie, so it was actually a bit more significant than one point).

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Thanks for that. It can be surprising how few good interviews there actually are for Ecclestone on the role, but he has always struck me as one of those actors who is never entirely comfortable with the promo circuit idea.

    A relatively good one is his appearance on Top Gear, as he is the “Star in the reasonably priced car”. All the modern Doctors have done this, so we can compare and contrast performance over the months!

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I’m really intrigued by the choice of the writer for the Ninth Doctor celebratory novella. It’s Charlie Higson (of Fast Show fame) and successful writer of the Young James Bond books and The Enemy series. The Beast of Babylon seems to be set before Rose, with Nine meeting a young girl called Ali whose found a mysterious object.

    The Guardian have an extract here:

    He says:

    “I grew up with Doctor Who and have always been a massive fan so it’s a great honour to be involved in this anniversary celebration. Russell T Davies did a great job of rebooting the series with Christopher Eccleston so to be able to write the Ninth Doctor story was a great opportunity to say thanks to the Doctor and thanks to Russell.”

    I always thought Higson would make a good wild card scriptwriter for the series. His work on Randall & Hopkirk had some interesting ideas and some elements may have informed the BBC on how to bring Doctor Who back. You can read my thoughts on the series on the blogs:

    Craig @craig

    I haven’t watched this yet, but I’m about to. How to discuss basically one episode (unless they cover books and audio) for 20 odd minutes. I do love McGann. Hope he does make something of a return.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @craig – they did a nice job considering that they practically had to do a scene-by-scene breakdown. And they positioned the movie neatly as the bridge between the BG Doctors and the AG Doctors.

    I note that they didn’t mention the half-human thing. 😈

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @craig @bluesqueakpip

    Ahhh. Thanks for finding that. Shame it’s Paul McGann lite, but I get the feeling he’s bored by saying all the same things about the Movie. Very surprised they didn’t touch on the Audio as Nick Briggs was there, and BBC Worldwide gets its cut from the sales. Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso have gone on to do some Big Finish stuff of their own (different characters in UNIT). Apparently, their characters in the Movie are tied up in torturous legal rights issues which means they are “time locked” to the Movie.

    I liked the glint in SMs eye when talking about the kiss. I had the feeling he wanted to say – “yeah, but he didn’t sweep her off her feet with lustful intent did he?”

    I think Ashbrook will be appearing with McGann for the BFI showing for the Eight Doctor, which is scheduled for October now.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    On the subject of the BFI showings, after a long delay they uploaded an extract for the Seventh Doctor with McCoy, Sophie Aldred & Ben Aaranovitch talking about that period.

    And for the Ninth Doctor, Producer Phil Collinson, director Joe Ahearne and actor Bruno Langley

    Charlie Higson video discusses Doctor Who and his book for the Ninth Doctor.

    Also of interest, if they ever make a docu-drama about the return of Doctor Who, this meeting between Jan Tranter and Russell T Davies would have to be filmed for light relief. It’s from (a pretty Bizarre choice) a documentary on the Green Death DVD release.

    wolfweed @wolfweed
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    A bit late this month, but as it’s 50 days till the 50th, and this one is certain to re-appear, does anyone have any thoughts on this chap – One David Tennant?

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Well if the Sixth Doctor was the charmless Doctor, I think you could make a case for Ten having siphoned it off somehow. Because if there was a way to bottle charm David Tennant would be a richer man than he is even now. Somehow, the announcement of his casting just made me shrug “Yep”. He’d just been in the Russell T Davies Casanova, and it seemed like an obvious choice. A lot is made of him being a relative unknown, but I’m not sure how much of that is true. I seem to remember him in loads of stuff, going back to Rab C & Taking over the Asylum (an astonishing performance and highly recommended).

    I’ll be frank in that a really big problem for me with 10 is the end of his story. The orgy of sentiment and final lines that really stay in my memory for all the wrong reasons. Memory of them actually seems to amplify every other moment (and there were many) that Ten was miserable about something. The lonely God shtick can hang heavy over a performance that is actually a lot of fun, and very adept.

    “I’m sorry – I’m so, so sorry”

    The Tenth Doctor. A lot. Yes – the angst is strong in this one

    His intro in Christmas Invasion was muted by a story that wasn’t all that great, but he gives a barnstorming performance after he gets out of bed. I found Series 2 a mixed bag so all hail the beast, for it is Impossible Planet/the Satan Pit that stand out for me, alongside Girl in the Fireplace and the nostalgia fest that is School Reunion. The departure of Rose (part 1) in Doomsday was well handled I thought.

    Series 3 I still have mixed feelings about. Nothing wrong with Tennant’s performance, but the entire “pining for Rose” thing went on a bit. The back end of the series is where I find the quality, with Blink, Human Nature/Family of Blood (his characterisation of John Smith is very good) and Utopia.

    So for my money – Series 4 is the best of his runs. For a large part shorn of any angst, he and Donna seem a very fresh pairing. I have to say I think Catherine Tate as Donna was superb foil, absolutely nailing having her very high expectations of life with the Doctor crushed early on, but working on with enthusiasm. I think it’s also the real time that Russell allowed himself to stand back from the showrunner “Big Bright High Budget Bonanza” and produce two very different episodes with Midnight (a great showcase for Tennant) and Turn Left (similarly for Tate). It’s a series with far fewer duds than the previous 2 for me.

    The specials weren’t really that special (with the possible exception of Waters of Mars) and when viewing them retrospectively seem to be overblown in the wrong departments. A real shame.

    Tennant did a huge amount to maintain and increase the popularity of the show though. I can understand why he’s become the reference Doctor to many who are more familiar with the AG years. For me though, Ten’s reign is characterised by a great number of “standout scenes” rather than being a personality in his own right. Maybe I just need a little distance from the period?

    Like his father in law, he takes a self mocking stance on his role as the Doctor – here with Catherine Tate in a sketch for Comic Relief. What a hero.

    janetteB @janetteb

    I really can’t add much to what @phaseshift has written. I think David Tennant really cemented the success of AG Who. Eccelstone was excellent but Tennant “was” the Doctor. Chris acted the part, D.T. inhabited the role.  He brought a lot of energy and life to the part as well as depth though sometimes the later was overplayed though not through any fault of the actor. I agree that he was at his best when working with Catherine Tate. The Doctor needs a companion that can pull him down to size and Tennant’s Doctor was perhaps the most in need of that of the AG incarnations. He has a cheeky arrogance, both relishing his God like powers and feeling the need to apologise for them. He knows just how clever he is. Some of the highlights of his tenure (in no particular order) are the moment in the Christmas special when he first steps out of the Tardis to save the day, the “wibbly wobbly” speech in Blink, meeting Sarah Jane in School Reunion, meeting River Song. I am sure there are plenty more. My favourite episodes from his tenure would be, Girl in the Fireplace, Blink, Human Nature/Family of Blood, Silence in the Library and the excellent but “Dr Lite” Turn Left. I didn’t like any of the specials. Might have to give Waters of Mars another try at some stage.  I think Fires of Pompeii is also worthy of a mention.

    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift – that Comic Relief sketch was a hoot, thanks for posting it.  Catherine and David bounce comedically off each other so well.  (And no corpsing from either of them!)  I’m surprised there was such vitriol to the announcement and continuing presence of Catherine Tate as the new companion – she clearly can act, she clearly has exquisite comic timing, and once they got a few episodes in, it was clear that she and David have fantastic acting chemistry together.

    {sigh}  I miss Donna Noble.

    Anonymous @

    @janetteb – in addition to your list, I’d add ‘Midnight’ to my favourite 10-era episodes.  That echoing – then simultaneous – speech thing was very, very creepy.  Plus the fact that we never saw the monster, nor learnt what its capabilities are/were, nor its motivation, nothing.  And I thought it was nicely handled how the passengers, in their fear and not understanding what the heck was going on, turned on each other.

    The last lines with Tennant and Tate were also quite chilling – you could see how 10 was becoming affected by his ‘adventures’.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    I agree with Fires of Pompeii. I think with that, and Planet of the Ood, Donna actually gets a lot of strong material to begin with. The trip to the future shows her the worst of humanity, and Fires actually introduces her to the real hard decisions that life with the Doctor will take.


    Aaahh. The amount of kneejerking over writing and casting announcements for Who is astonishing. I’ve fallen for it myself, and entered The Lodger with low expectations because of James Corden, but he was fine in it.

    Usually though, it is the people more noted for comedy performance and who have appeared in Soaps that attract the worst ire. Although the internet went into meltdown with Billie Piper and Kylie (who – as pop princess and ex. Soap Star got the double).

    Nick @nick


    I pretty much agree with your description of DT’s time as D10. For me, the low key stories which generally had less Arc continuity were generally the best. I’m afraid I never appreciated RTD’s instinct for epic series endings including as many recurring characters as possible.

    Even though the Tennant/Piper team was only 1 series long, the strength of their on screen relationship has certainly cast a long, deep shadow over AG Who, which continues to this date, with Billie Piper’s return in the Anniversary show. I don’t know what the numbers actually show, but my feeling is AG Who peaked in terms of public appreciation, that it hasn’t quite seen since.

    Series 4 was definitely the best season in my opinion, although I think the best individual stories were in series 2 and 3. In hindsight, I wonder if David Tennant left a series too soon and just how much difference working for series 5 with Steven Moffat might have been on the overall legacy.


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    I’d agree with @janetteb – Chris Eccleston played the Doctor. Both David Tennant, and later Matt Smith, simply ‘were’ the Doctor. They both have a pitch perfect instinct for the character.

    David Tennant also had that really cheeky grin and all that charm. Yes, the Tennant Doctor had lots of charm. Did I mention that he was charming? He’s probably the only Doctor to date that I could genuinely imagine shagging his way around the universe – if it wasn’t for the fact that it takes him so long to figure out that a girl fancies him.

    Until River managed to marry the Smith Doctor, the Tennant Doctor was the uncontested winner of ‘Doctor Least Likely to Be Asexual’. 😈

    What else? Well, experience tells, and the Doctor/Donna pairing was the best of the Tennant teams. The fuss about Catherine Tate’s casting seemed to be largely based on people thinking that she’d repeat her performance in the Christmas Special. Of course, she didn’t. That was Donna in crisis mode; the Donna who’d decided she did want to travel with the Doctor after all was a person who knew what she wanted to do with her life.

    Did David Tennant leave too soon? That’s something that only the actor knows; everyone would’ve been happy for him to stay on – but he’s the only one who can decide that this is his time to move on. I think he did once say in an interview that he realised that if he didn’t make the move when he did, he might have never left.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Tennant was my way into AG Who, having missed Series 1 for a number of reasons, not least a dose of ARSE – ha! it won’t be the same! Big budget, 2005, they’ll ruin it! 😳  Scheduling was also a problem and I hadn’t hooked into iplayer at that time.

    Xmas special with the Sycorax was OK, New Earth I liked a lot, Girl in the Fireplace blew me away and I was hooked by Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel (“Because it hurts” was the line that particularly got me and it’s all down to Tennant’s acting).  It was different from the show I loved as a child, and yet it had so much in common with it – Dr Who with a budget, production values and tech know-how to match the ambition. And scripts which were going to different places and trying new things.

    Agree with most people that series 4 was a humdinger, and also that a lot of that was down to the chemistry between Tennant and Tate; both characters had bedded in by then, and it was a new dynamic. The show itself probably had a bit more confidence in itself by then and what its range could be.

    Absolute standout stories for me – Girl in the Fireplace, Midnight, Blink, SitL/Forest, Human Nature/Family with honourable mentions to Fires of Pompeii, Gridlock and Waters of Mars. I also rather liked Impossible Planet with the classic strange markings appearing on people – be very afraid! I missed School Reunion at the time but caught up with it later and wept buckets!

    Tennant is very much my AG Doctor.  I loved his take on it – his Doctor was multifaceted, damaged but charming, and hugely charismatic; and his descent into darkness was totally convincing.  The best stories were a romp on the surface but with intriguing depths and contemporary resonances.  My favourite ever TV show was back – and better than ever 😉

    @nick Did he leave too soon? DT has said himself that if he hadn’t left when he did he could see himself never leaving! I wouldn’t be complaining but it’s better to leave em wanting more, in the old showbiz adage.

    And so long as Moff does something better with his extra minutes than RTD did in the End of Time, I’ll be happy (The farewell tour was a rare mis-step IMHO, although forgiveable)

    ScaryB @scaryb

    @bluesqueakpip – apologies for unintentionally repeating some of your post. I think we agree on charming then? 😉

    Anonymous @

    @bluesqueakpip @scaryb – regarding that whole ‘charming’ business – I want to throw a stone into that particular pond.

    At the time I originally watched Tennant’s episodes, I was as besotted as the next (usually younger) female viewer.  But then we got Donna, and her ‘you’re just a string of alien skinny nothingness!’ (sorry, can’t be arsed to look up the exact quote) and suddenly I started seeing him through new eyes.  And then Matt Smith came along …

    Tennant’s Doctor was veritably quivering with energy; madcap and fizzing in a way that Smith’s Doctor just simply wasn’t – because the latter’s interpretation always seemed to have a heavy shadow of personal history weighing so greatly that even his ‘big grin’ moments couldn’t match the gloriousness of Tennant’s.  The 10th Doctor’s blitheness and lightness and fizzing were so utterly infectious to watch …

    All that fizzing energy, rapid speaking, quick movements; carefully written and directed to be occasionally interspersed with sombre, slower-moving moments … I’m sure all of us define ‘charm’ quite differently, but for me, it’s always that buzzing, buzzing, buzzing that was so irresistible about 10; and for me, defined his ‘charm’.

    But damn, he was callous to Martha.  I’m in the camp that doesn’t believe for a moment that he was oblivious to how much she fancied him.  He just chose to ignore it — and that’s pretty much the antithesis of ‘charm’ for me.  And, of course, then the breath of fresh air that was Donna Noble came along – and she was absolutely, completely oblivious to any ‘charm’ the 10th Doctor might hold for the viewer.  She interacted with him on an equal level that was sorely missing from the Rose and Martha years, and managed to slowly wipe away the shield of ‘charmingness’ that the 10th Doctor was using as a protection to keep himself from getting close to anyone (any human) again.

    EDIT:  Alas, left off the most important point of all:  Charm is all about drawing people into you, making personal connections with them, making them feel special in your presence.  The 10th Doctor’s charm, I feel, ultimately was a way of pushing people away, keeping them at arm’s length – this could very well be due to his alien-ness and the difference between Gallifreyan ‘charm’ and what we humans (OK, me in this context) classify as ‘charm’.  Perhaps, then, the difference in what ‘irresistible’ means.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @Shazzbot – charm is a very personal thing, of course. One person’s charmer is another’s ‘You’re not my type.’ 😀

    Regarding the Tennant Doctor’s attitude to Martha – I think this is where knowledge of the BG Doctor’s comes in. It’s incredibly easy to believe that the Doctor would be utterly oblivious to how much Martha fancied him – because, in previous incarnations he’s been equally oblivious. The AG Doctors are also slightly puzzled as to why their Companions’ mothers seem to dislike him so much. And why do those mothers keep slapping him? 😉

    I can’t find the interview (perhaps it was the Confidential for The Shakespeare Code?), but at one point both Freema Agyeman and David Tennant said that the Doctor didn’t realise. Because if he had, his behaviour in The Shakespeare Code would have been very, very cruel.

    The Tennant Doctor’s path was one of starting out thinking that the Time War was over, finished with, done. He could get on with his life and have fun with Rose. And then, as his incarnation ages, he finds out that the Time War isn’t finished. He can’t escape from it. He hasn’t got his pre-War touch somehow; he loses people he’s learnt to love, people and places from the War keep coming back to haunt him – and when he finally has to walk away and let people die in the proper Time Lord manner, he can’t. He goes mad instead (temporarily).

    The Smith Doctor starts from that point. He is born knowing he can’t escape his past – because the events leading up to his regeneration could be summarised as ‘my past, coming back to haunt me’. He’s the madman in the box, and when he looks at his previous incarnation’s Companions, the predominant emotion is guilt.

    The Doctor: there must be someone left in the Universe I haven’t screwed up yet.

    The Tennant Doctor doesn’t start at that point. He starts at the point where he hasn’t screwed up. Yet.

    ScaryB @scaryb


    Beautifully put.

    Though I agree with a bit of @Shazzbot’s post that he uses charm in some ways as a defence – people can be close, but not too close. It’s what I was saying above about depths – there’s a lot of – charming – surface to Ten, and a lot of intelligence and darkness beneath. The darkness, guilt, starts to bubble through the surface by the end of his run.

    One other thought about – did he leave too soon? At least this way Tennant’s still (obviously) delighted to be involved in Who-y things like conventions etc, and I get the impression he’s still a fan.

    Nick @nick

    @bluesqueakpip @scaryb @Shazzbot

    Excellent analysis, which rings very true for me. However, for me there is a different question at work here.

    but at one point both Freema Agyeman and David Tennant said that the Doctor didn’t realise. Because if he had, his behaviour in The Shakespeare Code would have been very, very cruel.

    I have little doubt that this was exactly what was intended by RTD/DT/FA. However, I think the problem for me was that I didn’t find this to be very credible at the time nor in hindsight. As Bluesqueakpip writes, this explanation would sit quite well with BG Who avoidance of the emotional side of things, but I don’t think it fits right with AG Who characterisation.

    For me, RTD wrote the relationship with Rose (especially in series 2) quite differently. Whilst it may not have been a romance proper, it was certainly portrayed as being something more than just (close) friends. The whole scene at Bad Wolf Bay at the end of series 2, was meant to show the Doctor/Rose relationship was very different surely (which the Doctor pining for Rose in series 3 underlined) ?

    Accordingly, for me, I don’t find the “Doctor wasn’t aware” really believable in hindsight. As we saw in series 4 when D10 foists the ersatz Doctor onto Rose in the other dimension and in series 6/7 with the Doctor’s relationship/marriage with River, The Doctor has an emotional depth and is more than capable of understanding the basics of a Human emotional relationship, even if the TimeLord equivalent is different. He may have been willfully blind to Martha’s feelings [perhaps understandably given his circumstances], but I don’t think that we can claim he wasn’t aware in AG Who.

    I admit that I found the Doctor/Martha elements of early series 3 (and Doctor/Rose earlier) difficult to accept  – having been brought up on a more asexual BG Who – , but that has much more with my preconceptions of what the Doctor ought to be than anything else. I certainly didn’t like the way the Doctor treated Martha at the time and would have preferred that RTD had written in a way for the Doctor to deal with Martha differently than he did.

    However, with hindsight, I rather find that the degree of cruelty that D10 showed to Martha in series 3 fits in with his character arc really quite well. For me, this is clearer now than it was at the time.

    (Whether I’ve explained my point of view well enough is a different matter).



    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    It’s really two things. One, you have what the writer/actors/director intended.

    Two, you have what the audience ‘reads’.

    And it’s entirely possible for the audience to pick up a reading that the writer/actor/director didn’t really intend. [We don’t like it, because – quite frankly – it means we didn’t do our job well enough. But it happens] Or, as you say, to apply later character development and say ‘well, everyone says X, but in hindsight Y seems a lot more likely.’

    My take is that the Doctor has a very long onscreen history of misreading human body language and emotions – especially when it comes to sex. The one woman he flirts madly with is River Song – who’s part Time Lord. And Moffat has been very careful to put him in a situation – twice now – where he’s misread things so badly that the woman is practically dragging him into bed and he’s going ‘no, hang on, this isn’t what I meant!’ 🙂

    As Amy says, he doesn’t so much give out mixed signals as a giant signal. ‘Hello girls, I’m the Doctor, get your coat.’

    But from his point of views he’s just trying to be a mate. Err, companion. Err… dammit, just someone who wants to travel with me … oh, I give up. 😈

    Nick @nick


    I think I would add a third thing, although its certainly ought to have less impact –  which is the story itself.

    From my memory (not totally reliable) the character development rich stories in US equivalents such as Star Trek or Buffy have rather less or a simpler story rather the standard episodes giving them the screen time to develop the characters. Whilst I think we could all point to some “plot lite” Who stories, on the whole my impression is that Who tries to fit character development into standard episodes or into arc themed series ends. I’m not sure this has worked as well for Who with its shorter run (13 v 24 episodes). As you’ve rightly pointed out to me before, a lot can happen or be inferred from just a few lines of dialogue.


    ScaryB @scaryb

    @bluesqueakpip @nick

    I think it’s right that the audience is the unpredictable 4th (wall!) party to the equation and we’ll read into things according to our personal long term and immediate experience (as well as our experience of the show).

    I don’t subscribe to “the Dr HAS to be asexual” camp but I do think he frequently mis-reads signals – he’s not the same species and he’s considerably older – and with a different lifespan – than the people he hangs out with.  He’s not thinking “potential partner”,  it’s off his radar so he’s not looking for signals.  He’ll also be used to the initial companion being gobsmacked phase – with the TARDIS, the whole “all of space and time” thing, as well as with him –  and expects it to pass. Mostly I suspect, he sees companions a bit like special pets, albeit fairly intelligent ones. Much like Moffat said recently that the TARDIS views the Dr.

    But I freely admit to liking Ten a LOT so I’ll interpret the evidence from that perspective. If @nick, you’re happier thinking of him as a curmudgon, go right ahead 🙂

    I also liked how Martha actually shakes herself up by the end and makes a positive decision to leave and do things for herself. She understands that her feeelings won’t/can’t be reciprocated so she can either mope or get herself sorted.

    Nick @nick


    A curmudgeon (yes I checked the definition) is what I try to avoid being (sorry can’t help it – this form of ARSE seems to have crept up on me with age), but it isn’t how I see D10 at all. I thought this

    The Tennant Doctor’s path was one of starting out thinking that the Time War was over, finished with, done. He could get on with his life and have fun with Rose. And then, as his incarnation ages, he finds out that the Time War isn’t finished. He can’t escape from it. He hasn’t got his pre-War touch somehow; he loses people he’s learnt to love, people and places from the War keep coming back to haunt him – and when he finally has to walk away and let people die in the proper Time Lord manner, he can’t. He goes mad instead (temporarily).

    was a fair summary. Looking back, the D9/Rose and D10/Rose relationships were different from Doctor/Companion we have seen before (or after to be honest). Thinking about is Rose sacrifices herself to save D9 (and others) forcing D9 to sacrifice himself to save her giving the D10/Rose friendship a different sort of intensity than we have seen before (perhaps because David and Billie worked so well together and RTD scripted it to mean something more). Then, before its time, Rose is snatched away from D10 leading to the emotional scene at Bad Wolf Bay, where I always felt RTD meant for us to infer the emotional relationship was much deeper than it seemed to be on the surface.

    Its easy for me to see that D10, wracked with guilt for not saving Rose, missing Rose deeply, blaming himself for his failure, with an inclination to travel alone now that deals with (yet to be a full) companion Martha dreadfully isn’t really a surprise. It feels right to me. After all when something similar happened with Donna, he reacts by travelling solo to avoid this chance of the situation happening again. I find this to be very compatible with how @bluesqueakpip describes his character. D10 is certainly a flawed troubled individual and carries his (I guess in his view) crime (ending the TimeWar)with him in a different way than D9, but its still there. It also seems to me that D11’s madman in a box characterization develops on D10’s character in a way that feels right.

    The interesting thing, is that RTD and David Tennant don’t really give D10 a chance to redeem himself, in that he never overcomes the dark elements (if you call it that) in his personality. Conventional story telling would have him overcome his “flaws” and become a “complete” person before the end. Given a different medium (a 9 pm slot and an “adult” story line for example) I can see that RTD and David Tenant would have been given kudos by the serious drama critics in a way that they haven’t.

    Of course, I’m picking the elements out of series 2 to 4 that seem to fit this narrative. I think that the full picture is more complex still (to the credit of RTD and DT and the rest), but this character narrative feels like its more than just wishful thinking on my part. This is not my forte at all 🙂 .



    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @nick – I think ‘characterisation’ in Doctor Who is still developing. I don’t remember vast amounts of character development in BG Who beyond the First Doctor slowly becoming ‘The Doctor’, the hero – it was there, but it broadly tended to be the assistant rather than the Doctor.

    The interesting thing, is that RTD and David Tennant don’t really give D10 a chance to redeem himself

    Spot on. It’s not the format of Doctor Who to have the Doctor become a complete and fully rounded Time Lord in conventional dramatic style. Because he’s going to regenerate. He’s always going to regenerate. In fact, I remember David Tennant saying that he (and presumably RTD) felt that you could only do stories like Waters of Mars in the run up to a regeneration.

    You can only have an incarnation of the Doctor going seriously dark just before he’s regenerating. Then it’s the job of the next actor to take it from there, in the knowledge that ‘regeneration’ is a bit like playing the ‘redemption through death’ card. The audience will accept that the flaws of the last personality have not necessarily carried over to the next personality.

    In fact, you can see the Smith Doctor trying to deal with that dark side that resurfaced in the Tennant Doctor pretty much throughout series six and seven. Which is why I thought for a long time before it was officially announced that Matt Smith was leaving at the Fiftieth. If they’d decided he really was too young to tackle the Doctor they’d have taken him out at The Big Bang; otherwise he was staying until the Fiftieth Anniversary. These last two series have been a ‘regeneration’ arc; especially Series Seven.

    Matt Smith got a ‘Best Actor’ nomination for the BAFTA’s – as critical recognition goes, it doesn’t get much better. And you’re not going to change the time slot to 9pm for Who – it’s not an adult show, never has been.

    Nick @nick


    Thanks an interesting post as ever. No I don’t want to see Doctor Who at 9pm (although something else other than a crime set drama trying to do the same things with character would be nice for a change), but I was trying to point out that I see (possibly wrongly) there’s much more in D10 character development “arc” which is akin to that a modern show for a more mature audience is expected to have.

    I pretty much agree with your analysis, regarding the run up to a regeneration providing different openings, but I think what you state is still a part cop-out. From my perspective, there is no reason why the Doctor shouldn’t overcome his dark elements and then regenerate (or continue for a while longer) other than it is perhaps not as dramatically satisfying for either the actor or show runner/writing team (for the audience on a family show I feel this is likely to be a lessor issue).

    In fact the thought had crossed my mind that the fact that RTD (and SM) felt that he can to write a darker driven character is itself a cop-out to modern dramatic sensibilities (that the lead character must be flawed and driven by internal contradictions), as this is becoming to feel like a piece of stereo-typing in the way that the lead character as perfect hero could do in the past. can there be a middle way ?

    Either way, I agree that this is considerably better than BG Who ever did although both Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy and the production teams ha at least started down this path before the end.



    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Some interesting points I’d probably want to come back to when I have more time, but on one..


    And it’s entirely possible for the audience to pick up a reading that the writer/actor/director didn’t really intend.

    While certainly true, these things are always a bit difficult to evaluate because sometimes creatives can be a bit oblique about them.

    Take something like the “God Doctor”, which is something I think a lot of people saw in the RTD era, and especially 10s run. You know – people effectively praying to the Doctor in Last of the Time Lords, confronting Satan, guided upwards in VotD by his robotic heavenly host, etc. RTD apparently gets a bit antsy about that. It’s all in the viewers mind, he says. No one could possibly look at those images and imagine that an atheist such as he was doing such a thing, etc.

    At which point I have to stroke my chin a bit and say “oh come on man”….

    Anonymous @

    This is a little late for the 9th Doctor, but time being wibbley-wobbly and all that …

    I like Shayne Collins’ style in dissecting how Clive’s pictures of the 9th Doctor throughout history tally in with where in his adventures with Rose did he actually make all those trips / get into all those pictures.  He should be told to bring some of his theories over to our Forum. (@PhaseShift, as our Resident Marketing Whore ™  🙂  do you want to go to DW TV and extend an invite?)

    But I especially liked this bit at the end of his article:

    Now, to many, this is no big deal. It’s a throwaway scene and a throwaway line, for crying out loud. Downton Abbey has contradictions in it, let alone a sci-fi time travel show that’s 50 years old! When we Whovians try to explain or understand every little detail, we look like absolute geeky madmen. Why should we even care?

    Why? Because we are Whovians. This show has been important to us for 50 years. It is intelligent, inspiring, and fun. We love this show to the point that we want to know all that we can about it. We want to discover the mysteries it presents for us

    Craig @craig

    Also a little late for the ninth Doctor, but for those who don’t have Watch, which is probably most of us.

    CraigNixon @craignixon

    Dunno if this is the right place to put this, but Watch are doing a Doctors retrospective every weekend (think everyone knows about this?)


    But it starts this weekend!

    Look at Hartnell, The Aztecs, a few ‘Science-y of Dr Who” and (randomly) Voyage of The Damned.

    Record set!

    Dorium.Maldovar @dorium-maldovar-2

    My favourite is David Tennant ALLONS-Y

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Paul McGann on his time as the Doctor, Peter Capaldi & the 50th Anniversary…

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Ah – the BFI have added a snippet of the Tennant retrospective to their You Tube account featuring Catherine Tate talking about her confusion (to much hilarity) about the Sontarans.

    It also features David Tennant in his much celbrated “greaser” look. Good job Doctor 11 isn’t around after all the grief he gave Rory in “Amy’s Choice”.

    The full 30 minute conversation is only available on the BFI web-site, and is available at this link.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Final thing from me for Tennant.

    I’m sure after seeing Ecclestone being interviewed, and almost killing himself in a reasonably priced car, you’ve been waiting for this. Watch, in awe, that easy charm in action on the Top Gear sofa. But can he drive a reasonably priced car?

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