In case you hadn’t noticed amidst all the drunken revelry and annoying customers in shops who stand in your way, another year has come to an end. And so, in what has become a seasonal (well, the last two years anyway) tradition, here’s how I saw 2007 through Who-tinted spectacles. You may agree. You may disagree. Or you may just continue banging on about the inconsistencies of the Doctor’s age instead. Whichever, I couldn’t care less. This is my indulgence and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to… (where’s the gin, Neil?)
Normally a month free of Who-related guff, but no sooner are we wiping the carrot-drenched dribbles from our lips than the Sarah Jane Adventures is piloting its way onto out post-intoxicated psyches. And it’s not bad. Not great, but it’s still a country mile better than anything Chris Chibnall has managed to bang out of his word-processor with those simian hands of his so far. And Liz is predictably wonderful.
As if that isn’t enough, Torchwood reaches its double-barrelled climax later the same night in what is either a thrilling or a snivelling concoction of life, death and Armageddon at the hands of the Chewits monster’s slightly uglier brother. Jack gets to f**k himself in 1941, Owen gets to f**k himself in 2007 now that the posh aviator’s left him and the rest of us just feel f**ked after thirteen weeks of this (‘Out of Time’ aside) tedious and juvenile shit. But I bet you still felt a thrill as the TARDIS engines whisked Jack off to the year One Trillion, didn’t you?
Oh, and some McGann audios appeared on BBC7. Apparently.
Primeval keeps us warm on Saturday evenings as we await Season 3. Whilst it starts pretty ropily, things do quickly improve as plots, characters (yes, Torchwood, characters!) and special effects begin to overtake the sheer implausibility of it all. And the fact that you’re guaranteed a weekly dose of Hannah Spearitt in her knick-knacks by episode three certainly doesn’t do any harm.
John Simm is the Master! Or is it Michael Sheen? Or perhaps Derek Jacobi? Either way, The Sun is where you read it first. Someone - it could have been me, but modesty prevents me from saying so - works out that Simm’s Life on Mars character is an anagram of ‘Masterly’. And predicts this will have something to do with the reason he’s in a coma. Ahem.
Elsewhere, Stripped Down Five launches with ‘The Web Planet’, resulting in multiple blogging casualties.
Season 3’s debut is put back a week as a result of Steve McClaren’s England having an important Euro 2008 qualifier. That was well worth the effort, wasn’t it?
Radio Times makes the unprecedented move of having not one, but two Who covers for the series’ debut (I mean, you’d think they’d have learnt by now that fans aren’t easily persuaded to pay twice for one thing, wouldn’t you?). The finale of Season 3 is revealed to be ‘Last of the Time Lords’, causing chronic levels of bladder explosion amongst OG’s more easily impressed members.
Trailer-tastic, red-button, orgasm-inducing delights on BBCi in the week leading up to ‘Smith and Jones’ debut. Scarecrows. Tennant screaming his head off. The Doctor getting married? And a voiceover that burns at the centre of time and sees the turn of the universe. That does it - it’s incontinency pads for me every time I switch on the telly from now ‘til the end of June.
‘Smith and Jones’ sees the show finally return to Saturday nights. It’s all-right; a bit like ‘Rose’ but without the annoying boyfriend.
it’s incontinency pads for me from now ‘til the end of June
Hey, nonny-nonny - Season 3 hits early stride with ‘The Shakespeare Code’ and Steven Moffat starts to fear that his unassailable position as wittiest Who scripter is finally under threat.
A week later sees us return one more time to the year Five Billion (dot Betamax) for a final (?) meet-up with cat nuns, futuristic bobbins and ol’ Boe face. And his last, enigmatic words? Just. Read. The Sun.
‘Daleks in Manhattan’ sees the show finally go abroad again since the days of JN-T and package holidays to the costa brava. Except they don’t; for while script-writer Helen Raynor and the Confidential crew get to see the Big Apple, all Tennant and Agyeman get is a wall outside some primary school in Penarth. And I thought the days of shoestring budgets were behind us…
Part two sees Tennant reach apocalyptic levels of smug over-enunciating that has even the most forgiving fan reaching for the baseball bat. And what in the name of Sorvad was all that nonsense about DNA and lightning conductors? Answers on a postcard to BBC Wales, Llandaff, Cardiff.
Fortunately, ‘The Lazarus Experiment’ sees things pick up considerably: old school chills with a great cameo by Mark ‘living the dream’ Gatiss. And to cushion the blow of Eurovision pre-empting the following week’s ‘42’ we’re treated to another pant-wettingly exciting trailer. Jacobi and Barrowman. Tennant screaming his head off, again. John Smith. And Simm tapping out the theme tune whilst looking for all the world like the best Master ever. We’re gonna need a bigger superlative…
United lose the cup final and Chibnall loses the plot. ‘42’ has its moments - mainly down to Graeme Harper’s inevitably superlative direction - but trying to cross 24 with Who Wants to be a Millionaire was never gonna work, was it?
Thankfully, the following week’s ‘Human Nature’ redefines the term fan-love, in a lyrical tale of love, loss and pandering to the hardcore. Fans wear out their VHS recordings replaying the ‘Journal of Impossible Things’ shot that means that McGann still counts even after all these years.
As a result of this episode the word ‘squee’ is officially recognised by the Oxford English dictionary: Squee (adj.) to express biblical levels of devotion to a television programme, often resulting in grown men wandering around with goofy smiles on their faces and suspicious stains on their trousers for days afterwards.
‘The Family of Blood’ gives us the biggest lump-in-throat, something-in-my-eye moment since Rose walked on the beach, prompting many to speculate if it can ever get as good as this again. Then we check the schedules and remember that Steven Moffat is writing next week’s…
Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead. Yes, John-Paul’s annual cameo goes by unnoticed. Again.
Radio Times in the lead up to ‘Utopia’ suggests that, while the episode’s a bit of a misfire, the cliff-hanger is an absolute humdinger. For those of us who have still managed to avoid the internet spoilers, Saturday’s gonna be a big surprise…
The last fifteen minutes of ‘Utopia’ sees the National Grid overloaded with request to turn down the power as the effect of a few million buzzing Who fans is causing sunstroke in many parts of the country. Murray Gold is nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award for bombastic over-indulgence. And two girls film themselves having multiple orgasms on You Tube as Jacobi opens his watch. ‘Squee’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.
A shock general election is called as Tony Blair steps down and Gordon Brown finds his automatic promotion challenged by a young upstart called Harold Saxon. Despite his mind-controlling, high-taxing policies, the general public finally sees sense. And vote in their droves for Harry baby.
Can you hear the drums, Borusa? As occurrences of RSI amongst fans reach all time records, Simm makes his full debut as Mr Jack Napes esq. in an episode that divides fans more than whether Trevor Martin counts or not. The flashback to Gallifrey completes ‘The Year of the Squee’ in truly sticky style, while RTD’s inability to resist a bit of last minute self-indulgence sees the Scissor Sisters being added to the roll-call of naff pop acts in Who since 2005.
A week later and it’s all over for another year. The Master is dead, the world is safe, and bloodshed is once more the tone word over on Behind the Sofa. If only we could all roll back the clock as easily as that.
the word ‘squee’ is officially recognised by the Oxford English dictionary
As the casualties of LotTL’s fallout pick themselves up, dust themselves down and get over the fact that at the end of the day it’s just a television programme, more shocking news rocks fandom to the core as Catherine Tate is revealed to be the new(ish) assistant for Season 4. Blog posts with the title ‘Am I bovvered?’ number in the tens of thousands.
Elsewhere, David Tennant’s mum sadly passes away after a long illness, prompting hundreds of fans to donate to her chosen charity in her memory. Which still brings a lump to the throat of this old cynic.
Sees the silly season back in full swing: Joan Collins is the Rani! David Bowie to play an alien who kidnaps Agatha Christie! Ben Kingsley to lose both legs and an arm, resulting in galactic levels of megalomania. Actually, this last one still hasn’t been denied by the BBC.
Tennant takes time out from filming Season 4 to turn on Blackpool’s illuminations. God, it’s getting like 1976 all over again…
Stripped Down 6 runs alongside the debut of the Sarah-Jane Adventures’ first season, giving more snobbish fans an excuse to avoid blogging about a ‘children’s’ programme. The theme this time appears to be Damon’s preoccupation with leggy and/or half-dressed assistants. Which is fair enough.
Blog posts with the title ‘Am I bovvered?’ number in the tens of thousands
Doctor Who is cancelled. Again. Well, not really. But from the reaction of the ming-mongs you’d certainly think so. 2009 will see just three specials in lieu of a new season, to give RTD and Tennant time off from the year-round schedule (either that, or the Beeb’s skint). But while a full series for 2010 is also confirmed, the hardcore still go into a frenzy like it’s 1985 all over again. Reports of Ian Levine smashing his brand-new plasma telly with a hammer go unconfirmed.
The Sarah-Jane Adventures go from strength to strength, with ‘Whatever Happened to Sarah-Jane?’ as worthy of praise as any of the parent show’s bona-fide classics. How did the same team go so wrong with Torchwood?!?
The annual Tachyon TV meet-up for Dimensions sees the partners reconvene to Washington rather than Stockton as a result of the bloodshed amongst Brothers devotees they caused last year. Late casualties on the guest list include Lynda Bellingham (family bereavement), Michael Jayston (playing a corpse in Emmerdale), John Leeson (laryngitis, presumably) and Graeme ‘Lightsabre Man’ (removal from comfort zone and lack of social worker flexibility). But in their place come that bloke from The Bill (you know, the one that’s always been in it), Honor Blackman (who makes the grave error of thinking ‘Trial of a Time Lord’ was a ‘great success’) and some bloke from Big Finish who shows his holiday snaps from Castrovalva.
Thank God then for John ‘You Gotta Be Careful’ Levene (half Del Monte commercial, half television evangelist), Katy ‘Ring-a-ding-ding’ Manning (whose mouth now encompasses small galaxies) and Colin Baker (who ranted on about the death of TV in the face of reality programming. For a change.) In fact, following the previous year’s ‘Colonic Controversy’, Tachyon TV actually managed to obtain a brief chat with the man himself. Though whether he actually remembered us is another matter.
But despite the somewhat lacklustre guest list, there were still highlights to be found. Wee Jimmy Vee taking on the Mr Sin doll, and winning. John Levene using funeral speeches as an excuse to wax on about how bloody marvellous he is. And the prospect of a Saturday night where the outdoor marquis was blown straight down the A19, resulting in collective celebrity/fan bloodshed.
Oh, and Dave Sanders got his Doctor Who and Hanna Barbera conventions mixed up. And came as Captain Caveman.
Back home and the Season 3 boxset kept the winter chills away until ‘Voyage of the Damned. Though why it was 50 quid this year is anybody’s guess.
The annual Children in Need guilt-athon is a little extra special this year. If you managed to wade through the Spice Girls’ execrable new single (not to mention their patronising attempts to persuade you to part with your dosh) then at about 8.16pm a million fan-hearts swelled as Peter Davison made a quite beautiful return to the role of the Fifth Doctor opposite David Tennant in a specially shot seven minutes which dovetailed rather neatly into the climax of ‘Last of the Time Lords’. And so effortlessly does he reassume the role that fandom starts a campaign for him to have a longer go in one of the 2009 specials while Tennant is playing Hamlet.
In sadder news, Verity Lambert - first producer, architect of the show and all-round TV pioneer - dies at the far too young age of 71, the day before the show that she helped create celebrates its 44th anniversary.
Trailers start for Christmas and ‘Voyage of the Damned’ features prominently. I try my best not to get too excited.
Catherine Tate spills the fact that Tennant may make Season 4 his last. Amidst much fan chin-rubbing, a middle-aged university lecturer in Sunderland dances a little jig.
DWM gets a makeover which sees Kylie Minogue bring back memories of Katy Manning by draping herself over a Dalek wearing not a lot of clothes (actually, she’s covered head-to-toe in comparison to the former Jo Grant; but seeing as us Who fans don’t normally get to see much of this sort of thing it still gets the pulses going).
Christmas arrives and so does ‘Voyage of the Damned’, which for half of its extended running time manages to make a decent fist of aping all those classic crimbo disaster fests that littered the yuletide schedules of long ago. But then everything goes to hell in a handcart in grand RTD tradition and by the time the Queen wishes the Doctor a Merry Christmas I’m tempted to join the turkey in the oven and take a deep breath.
And so we end as we began, another year over and Doctor Who once again dominating the media outlets. ‘Voyage of the Damned’ clocks up over 12 million viewers and the Sun is already speculating on how three of the Doctor’s companions are gonna cope without him in Season 4’s double-banker. The countdown to Tate-Gate has begun…
Happy New Year, everyone.