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Feb 25, 2006

Stunt Casting....

is anyone else concerned by the never-ending stream of stunt casting in the new series?

I thought the 80s was bad - Ken Dodd, Hale and Pace and Larry (oppps, we can't get him after all) Hagman - were all bad enough, and we've already seen Anne Robinson, Davina McCaw and Trinny and Susanah in the new series, but that's nothing compared to what's coming: Trisha Goddard, Derek Acorah (from Living TV, fer christsake!) and now Peggy 'bleddin' Mitchell if Digital Spy are right.

If that wasn't bad enough this also implies that Dimensions in Time is now canon!


Add me to the list - it's getting quite scary, and I'm afraid the way one or two of the production team seem to be treating the series like kids in a sweetshop is depressing.
There are lots of actors out there, why are they employing people who aren't actors and who are just going to jolt people out of any suspension of disbelief, and mean nothing to non-Brits or people who don't watch crappy daytime TV and cable?

Uh, huys? "Doctor Who" is being made for the average Briton, not for fen and not for forriners. If even more millions of mundanes tune in to see some cameo by this psychic person, then that's a *good* thing. (Now if he was playing Davros or something you might have a point.)

Yeah, but unlike the eighties casting, the people in the last series could actually act. And some voice cameo in a robot ain't gonna bother anyone except...um...yeah...

It just feels a bit gimmicky to me. I gather that they are cameos and this isn't going to break the show or anything but it just feels kinda silly to me.

For instance, if the Peggy Mitchell story is true then it causes all sorts of continuity problems. If you thought the UNIT dating was problematic how do you explain regular characters in EastEnders wearing Doctor Who T-shirts or winning pub quizes for knowing that Tom played the 4th Doctor if the character then turns up in that fictional universe?

Somebody call the continuity police!

At least when they did this back in the 60s they choose The Beatles. Can anyone imagine Derek Acrorah being famous in twenty minutes time, let alone twenty years?

Who's next? Maybe Andy and Lou from Little Britain could turn up and Andy could defeat the Daleks when Lou's back is turned?

It's a bit like an episode of Battlestar Galactica featuring a guest cameo by Ryan Seacrest - as himself!

We have not seen Davina MacColl in the new series. ;-)

Kate, I don't agree - I wish you were right but the truth is that DW is being made as much with foreign sales in mind as with home audiences. Hence a lot of the celeb casting makes little sense.
That aside, it makes little dramatic sense either.

Neil - can you imagine if Andy and Lou were in it? Outpost Gallifrey forums would go mad with 'Andy is Davros' threads!

I'm sort of between Kate and Neil on this. On the one hand, yes it's all stunt casting but on the other I don't believe it'll be done anything but sensitivily and anything to keep the genpub watching and interested is a good thing. Dr Who has never been timeless per se -- there hasn't been a period or era which hasn't been of its time -- that's part of its charm. In fact I'd argue that the less effective moments have been when the producer has wanted to guess what people will be watching in the future and getting it all so horribly wrong (that tends to be in the later years).

Some of the criticism of the 'stunt casting' in the '80's i still feel is a little harsh. For instance, Ken Dodd appeared for all of three minutes. The likes of William Gaunt, Martin Jarvis, Simon Williams, Michael Jayston, Dinsdale Landen, Michael Gough, Maurice Denham, Sylvia Sims, Frank Windsor, Maurice Colbourne, Richard Todd, Clive Swift, Sheila Hancock, Martin Clunes and Pamela Salem all appeared in '80's Who and that is by no means a line-up to be ashamed of. The likes of Beryl Reid etc, were the exceptions rather than the rule.Similarly, i highly doubt Derek Acorah etc. will amount to more than a cameo. What about Anthony Head, Pauline Collins, Maureen Lipman, Roger Lloyd-Pack etc. all taking part in the next series?

No, no, no. That list of people you mention are *actors* - I have no problem with that. I have a problem with comedians, chat-show hosts and so-called pyschics taking part. That's all.

Ugh I just got a horrible visual of Vicki Pollard as The Doctor's new assistant after Rose leaves...

I shall endeavour never to think of Little Britain and Doctor Who in the same sentence again.

While none of us want to be po faced about this it it something that the production team should be very careful with,memories of some of the series late 80's ventures into the realm of low camp send a shiver down my spine."Who" always works best when it's played for real,sometimes with a twinkle in the eye but never for a cheap laugh.I'll get off my soapbox now;-)

Colin, I think you've hit the nail on the head. a few times too often last year I got the distinct impression that some of those involved in the show were taking the approach of 'it's just a bit of fun', and the episodes that did this (Rose, TEOTW, AOL, TLG and BT) have me cringing when I rewatch them. The 'serious' episodes - TEC and TDD in particular - were still enormous fun but not slapstick. Even The Unquiet Dead managed to tread the line between being overtly funny and traditional Who without slipping into parody.
Watching/listening to a few Hartnells recently I grimaced at references to 'milky way' and 'galaxy' and 'solar system' all being used interchangeably with a clear sign that the people writing/editing it weren't that bothered about being accurate. Forgivable then, perhaps, but not so now.

I found this last year with, to give one example that I'm sure has been discussed to death elsewhere, the year 5 billion being bandied around as though it's just a date in the far future. It's more than that: the universe is reckoned to be 15 billion years old now, and the Earth 4.5 billion years. On that scale the 20th century, which Cassandra seemed so obsessed by (luckily for us) would be the flick of an eye. How lucky she knows what an iPod was at all, never mind happened to have one (har har).

First rule of science fiction writing: it may be SF but it should still be grounded in reality, otherwise it's just fantasy. (Actually I just made that up, but it's a pretty good place to start!)

But from a casting perspective (getting back on topic), in the 80s the tabloids used to talk about Doctor Who like it was a pantomime and it appeared JNT mistook any publicity for good publicity. It wasn't.
Having got serious actors involved, and being taken seriously at last, it should stay 'serious' (by which I don't mean up its own arse). Comedy, if that's what's being looked for in some of the casting, should come from characters, not cameos. (And I'm pretty sure that *is* a rule in some writing handbook somewhere).

Cast a psychic, cast a chat show host, but don't use the real thing cos it'll just throw any narrative out the window as half the audience goes 'ooh that's Trisha!' and the other half goes 'who's she? She can't act'.

At the end of the day,stunt casting is an example of the very worst kind of in-joke,betraying the smug/self satisfied attitude of the perpetrators and showing a cynical disregard for the viewer,be they casual or a serious fan.Also, as Jonathan states,it is the very antithesis of successful casting as the identity of the person cast gets in the way of our ability to engage with the character as written.Who is built upon a willing suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer,stunt casting runs the risk of fatally undermining this by breaking the spell.'Nuff said.

When I read the 'Eastender's storyline in yesterday's Sun my heart sank - yet another occasion when I've had to justify the show's merits to any watching 'unbelievers' ready to pounce.

But then I felt the same when I heard the plot to 'Bad Wolf' last year, and that turned out to be one of the crowning jewels of Season One.

The moral: as always, wait till you see the finished product before casting stones. Besides, the idea of an episode based upon the winning design of a Blue Peter competition is, to me, more alarming. 'The Krotons' of today; only this time without the myth.

Fair point Sean,though I would maintain that in the case of "Bad Wolf" the people involved were not playing themselves as they were merely doing voiceovers (and heavily modulated voiceovers at that) this helped to create a distance between the "celebrity" and their part.As a result the "What the f**k" factor of having Anne Robinson/Trinny & Susannah in Doctor Who was, I think,successfully avoided.In fact, in some cases,it had to be pointed out to viewers who was voicing the droids.

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