Newsletter #7

Wow – just 4 months until Doctor Who returns!

That’s the inference of the recent news that the first episode will be screened at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival which takes place between 23-25 August. It’s unlikely that we will have to wait more than a fortnight after the event to see Series 7 – but isn’t this a bit early?

Many of our readers think so. When I compile these newsletters I include the five most popular articles of the week. Often they don’t change too much but the piece “Is August Too Soon?” (which you will find below) is proving hugely popular, helped, not doubt, by the poll which asks you, dear reader, what you think.

Before continuing with the rest of this week’s newsletter, please don’t forget to vote!

What have we got for you this time?

Top News Stories This Week

Moffat: “This is revenge”

Steven Moffat has been writing for years, and is responsible for some of the best TV of the past 20 years or so. From Press Gang back in the Children’s ITV days to Joking Apart, Coupling, Jekyll and on to Doctor Who and Sherlock, he’s been tuned into what gets audiences and critics enthusing – intentionally or not.

Doctor Who writer Steven MoffatThe Doctor Who executive producer recently spoke to the US media network NPR about his two current shows, as well as a few thoughts about why he became a writer.

The reasoning is a gem, actually, something that many (although I daresay not all) of us who write for a living can identify with.

“I’m a geek. I’m a writer. I spent all of my time in my childhood obsessing about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who. I was alone, I was an outsider — what do you expect? I was that bullied kid at the back of the class weeping for loneliness. I don’t think, generally speaking, people become writers because they were the really good, really cool, attractive kid in class.

“I’ll be honest. This is our revenge for people who were much better looking and more popular than us. I was a bit like that, I suppose.”

This is a great audio feature, so we would recommend everyone who is a fan of Doctor Who and Sherlock to take the time to enjoy it!

You can listen to the full interview below.

See Doctor Who Series 7 in August!

Exciting news, Whovians – Doctor Who Series 7 is set to get an airing as early as August 2012 as part of the Matt Smith as the Doctor!!

The Guardian website has released details of the event, which includes an appearance from Steven Moffat.

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat will give a masterclass on BBC1′s Sherlock, along with his co-creator, Mark Gatiss, and the producer, Sue Vertue, and there will be an exclusive preview screening of the first episode of the next series of Doctor Who.”

As yet there is no broadcast date for the Series 7 premier on television, but these events rarely take place too long before the BBC One screening. This year the festival takes place August 23rd – 25th, so could we be seeing Doctor Who on television in late August/early September?

And just how many episodes will we get?

Time will tell…

(Via BlogtorWho)


Britain’s Got Daleks

It’s a Bank Holiday here in the UK (so excuse the lack of new posts today) but we couldn’t let this one go without sharing it with the loyal Kasterborous readers.

Dalek impersonator Martyn Crofts appeared on Britain’s Got Talent at the weekend, performing a Doctor Who-inspired rendition of “King of the Road”. He successfully has the judges (including The God Complex‘s David Walliams) in stitches but did he make it through to the next round?

Assuming you care about this cynical piece of theater (the show, not the act) enough to know how well Martyn did, you’ll be pleased to know that he made it through to the live semi-finals, and it’s hopefully going to get him a shot at opening his local gala event.

“Hopefully, by winning Britain’s got Talent, I’ve got a real good chance of opening Skipton Gala.

“Me and my son, we always go to Skipton Gala and it’s always opened by a celebrity. I said to him, ‘next year, I’m going to open the actual gala’.

With a Doctor Who theme to the performance, I’m sure you will join us in wishing Martyn Crofts the best of luck!


Is August Too Soon?

Arthur Darvill, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan waiting for the cameras to roll on Doctor Who Series 7

Out of the heat haze of summer emerges Doctor Who – ready to elevate the nation’s mood after various sporting disappointments – exciting stuff! But is it too soon?

As announced by The Guardian this Wednesday Steven Moffat will be attending the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival (which takes place 23-25 August) where he’ll be chairing a masterclass on Sherlock with Mark Gatiss, and hosting an exclusive preview screening of the first episode of Series 7.

It is basically an inversion of the broadcast schedule of Series 6. Last year, Let’s Kill Hitler made its bow at the same festival on 26th August and aired on BBC 1 the following day. So in all likelihood Doctor Who will be airing on 25th August or, at the latest, 1st September.

With Moffat promising eight episodes in 2013 it is likely that we’ll get five episodes – concluding with the departure of the Ponds – then the Christmas special where the lovely Jenna Louise-Coleman will step aboard the TARDIS for the remainder of the series.

How many episodes and in what format they will be remains to be seen but what’s obvious is that Doctor Who will dominate our television screens for a huge chunk of 2013!

However while we’ll be getting more beyond those eight episodes this run up to Christmas will only take us to the beginning of October at the most – meaning we’ll be waiting a further three months before Doctor Who returns to our screens for his annual festive jaunt.

The result is while we will be seeing even more of the Doctor in the next year it won’t be a continuous run of episodes this side of Christmas – or even after the holiday period.

So is this new air date too soon? Or should we just be grateful for the sheer amount of new episodes coming our way for the 50th Anniversary year?


Lesley Sharp: Not the First Female Doctor

So far we’ve had tabloid conjecture (Dame Helen!), alternate universe counterparts (Arabella Weir!) and Joanna Lumley (non-canonical!)

Is it about time we had a female Doctor? Of course rumours are just that, unfounded statements based on conjecture and until an actress gives the best audition (or is even considered for an audition) we’ll never know if such change would be accepted by adults and children alike.

There’s no doubt that there are some amazing actresses out there that could fill Matt’s fashionable boots – and one such actress is Scott & Bailey star and former Doctor Who guest star Lesley Sharp – who was again quizzed on comments made by former show runner Russell T. Davies when she chatted to the Metro:

“He said you should be the first woman Doctor Who, didn’t he?

Yes, but I think he was kidding around. He’s fantastic, though.

Do you fancy doing it?

I think Matt Smith’s doing a wonderful job.

He can’t do it forever though, can he?

We’ll see.”

Well, if anything, her answers prove that you can’t kid a kidder. Her love for Russell T. Davies doesn’t end with his ability to stir up the odd cheeky tabloid rumour:

“I learned a lot from Russell T Davies, who is the most wonderful writer. He and I just agreed on how much we love television and how important it is. He’s amazing. I learned a lot just from watching him on set and how he is with actors.”

Before she made her sole appearance in Doctor Who Sharp worked with Davies on the powerful, thought-provoking drama The Second Coming alongside the then future Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston. It was and remains the kind of important programming that elevates television above the lazy ‘poorer cousin of film’ comparisons that irk the Clocking Off star:

“A lot of the time, it isn’t even reviewed well. If you get someone who loves telly and knows about it, you get really entertaining and incisive reviews but sometimes you feel it’s almost there to be ridiculed. It’s an incredibly important part of our culture in terms of writing and acting and we’re really good at it. We should be more proud of it and cherish it. Viewing habits have changed over the past few years and as shows go out, a ‘sofa moment’, where you sit and engage with a show when it is aired, is becoming an event and hopefully more precious.”

To read her thoughts on Scott & Bailey (in which she stars with living TARDI Suranne Jones), her worst audition and why she’ll never be a caught in an all singing, all dancing musical, head over to the Metro.

You can catch Lesley in Starlings starting Sunday at 8pm on Sky One

From the Vortex: The Cybermen of Telos

Doctor: [To the Cyberleader] ‘You’re nothing but a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship.’

Cyberleader: ‘Cybermen can survive more efficiently than animal organisms. That is why we will rule the galaxy.’

Revenge of the Cybermen

And that is what it boils down to. The Cybermen are second only to the Daleks in their desire for domination, but whereas Skaro’s most insane desire to utterly destroy anything different to themselves, the Cybermen will subjugate and convert their conquests, thus bolstering their own ranks. This is the true horror of the Cybermen. Convinced that flesh will fail, that their way is best, they surrendered emotion and eventually individuality in the name of survival.

So, for the uninitiated, what is a Cyberman? Their history is one of sadness; the inhabitants of the planet Mondas – Earth’s lost twin – the original Cybermen were like us until they found that replacement surgery was necessary to prolong the life of their dying race. Their respiratory system was replaced by the prominent chest place, and their strength increased ten-fold. With their planet lost, wandering through the galaxy, the Cybermen conquered many worlds but Mondas was eventually destroyed following an attack on Earth (The Tenth Planet). Few of the remaining Cybermen are true Mondasians, but their aim is still the same – survival. Eventually, some settled on Telos and built their own tombs in order to draw those humans that would see them reanimated into their lair… and convert them.

This, of course, isn’t an entirely new concept; every story in existence has the concept of survival wove into it one way or another. In a Universe where anyone can be met at anytime by the Doctor, it is no surprise that many of the races he meets are threatened with extinction. Take the Kaled/Dals, the Ice Warriors, and the Zygons as prime examples from the original series – then add what has happened to the Autons world following the Time War and the effect of the war on the Gelth’s world. And just look at what the Master was prepared to do to stay alive!

Survival is a word that also commands our daily existence. We work – or otherwise acquire money – in order to survive. We buy food that we might survive, and pay rent or mortgage so that we and our families have shelter – in order to survive. Doctors and scientists spend their lives working so that we might survive.

This was something that co-creator of the Cybermen Dr. Kit Pedler recognised. In 1966 when he was employed by the Doctor Who production team to give the series a stronger scientific grounding, the Cybermen were born. A real-life Doctor, Pedler was fearful of the ghastly possibilities that the proposed replacement-part surgery likely to be available in the future would create for mankind. Survival was one thing – but what if we lost our humanity?

As the Cybermen were eventually able to develop into a force capable of challenging mankind’s place in the galaxy, their image as silver-clad cadavers was replaced with an image of an unstoppable force. Thanks to writer Eric Saward, the already overused Nazi metaphor applied with varying degrees of obviousness to all of the Doctor’s adventures with the Daleks were shoehorned in to Cyberman mythology in the 1980s, no doubt to assist with their desire for conquest. But surely survival is enough?

Pedler and Davis’ original vision of the Cybermen back in the 1960s was perfect. Done-to-death Nazi parallels were meaningless in the 1980s, and even more so now as imperialism rears it’s ugly, destructive head once more. But a human-like race, fearful of it’s impending doom, fighting nature for survival and using whatever means be they mechanical or whatever – that is genius. And the parallels with real life are far more interesting. Governments have risen and fallen for the last 4000 years – aggressive fascist policy isn’t going stop mankind whether it be fictional or real. But a dying race would stop us, and make us face up to these very real decisions.

A mechanical heart or one grown in a lab?

Artwork: Nigel Parry

Competition Results!

Since launching the newsletter, we’ve been giving away books and CDs with a Doctor Who or Torchwood theme. However, not all of our winners have got in touch with us!

Additionally, I haven’t sent all of the prizes out yet (mainly due to my proximity to a post office) so to get up to date, it would be great if anyone who hasn’t claimed their prize (by sending postal details to the [email protected]) could do so as soon as possible.

So far our winners have been:

  • Tony Pendry – Genesis of the Daleks (CD)
  • Callum Coghlan – Shada (book)
  • Paul Salamoff – Eye of the Jungle (CD)
  • Caity Marsh – The Jade Pyramid (CD)
  • Matt Stewart – Torchwood collection (books)
  • Trevor Jones, Tig Lang and Ian Gibbon – Ultimate Regeneration x3 (book)

So to reiterate – if you haven’t sent your postal address, please do so today! All outstanding prices will be dispatched in the coming days.

Interview Exclusive: Tom MacRae on Cybermen

Doctor Who scriptwriter Tom MacRaeI asked Tom MacRae (Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel, Amy’s Choice) recently if it was time we had a proper, full-scale Cyberman story in Doctor Who…

“I think that they are wonderful and when you’ve got someone as clever as Steven Moffat there will always be a facet to the most familiar thing that he will find that no one has used before. When he does decide to do a massive Cyberman story or a big massive Yeti story, or the day the sonic screwdriver became the baddie or – that’s quite a good idea actually I should do that! – he will find the most amazing way of doing it!”

You can hear the full interview in this week’s podKast.

That’s all for this week – see you again next time!


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