It would be nice to be a Time Lord, if only for the ability to jump forward a couple of weeks and see the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special straight away. The BBC really have pushed the boat out for it, not only making it feature length and shooting in 3D, but also planning an entire day of celebratory programs across all of the BBC channels and radio stations, and organizing screenings in selected US theaters as well.
With that amount of hype, however, the pressure truly is on for showrunner Steven Moffat and the Doctor Who cast and crew to deliver something truly spectacular to mark half a century of aliens, companions, Doctors and time travel. Familiar faces David Tennant and Billie Piper are returning to join the current Doctor and companion, Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman, and veteran actor John Hurt is playing another mysterious incarnation of the Doctor.
To help keep the hype train chugging along, the BBC has published an extensive interview with Moffat and the cast of the episode, which includes some brand new screenshots and some new details about what’s in store for Doctor Who fans. Moffat, for his part, remains as boldly ambitious as ever:
“I didn’t want this to just be a celebration of 50 years of the past. I wanted it to be a celebration of the mythology of the legend of the Doctor and all that entailed. This should be the first step on the next journey, guaranteeing the 100th anniversary. The story focuses on the most important thing that ever happened to the Doctor. We very rarely do that in Doctor Who as it’s usually about the people the Doctor meets or the companions that travel with him. This time it’s different.”
While it is nice, and appropriate, that the special should be all about the Doctor and his largely mysterious life story, it’s hard not to be a little skeptical about that particular description. In the fifty years since the show’s inception, a lot of very important things that have happened to the Doctor and there’s some potential concern that the anniversary special might trip over itself in an attempt to one-up everything that’s gone before. One of the main flaws in Moffat’s writing is his penchant for forced melodrama, which can sometimes end up getting in the way of a stronger story.
At least Moffat isn’t letting the 3D aspect of the episode go to waste. The writer says that he kept the format in mind when writing the episode and that it’s been exploited to make things a little more scary. Let’s hope that means something more than just monsters jumping out towards the audience:
“My first impulse was if we’re going to do 3D it had to be part of the plot. We actually have to make 3D part of the story and if at all possible, to try and make 3D a bit scary. I wouldn’t say it’s in every scene, but there is an element of the show that exploits the fact of 3D.”
It’s only right for such a great British anniversary to feature a little royalty, and Welsh actress Joanna Page is obliging by playing the fiery-haired Queen Elizabeth I. Further solidifying his rather strange reputation as a ladies’ man, the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) gets to enjoy a little bit of romance and a kiss with Her Majesty – though Page says that this scene was not particularly romantic:
“Filming the romantic scenes were quite difficult because my first day was on top of a mountain in Neath. It was absolutely freezing, it was blowing a gale and David, the Tenth Doctor and I, are having a picnic. So I’m lying across him and he probably couldn’t breathe, because I’ve just got this massive costume on, and he’s feeding me grapes as I’m just desperately shivering.
“You’ve got to try and play it romantic and relaxed, when actually you’re freezing cold. I think our lips were turning blue and I stopped feeling my hands. The next day, because it had been so cold with the wind my hands were bright red and all blistered because they were so chapped. So everyone is probably jealous, thinking she gets to kiss the Tenth Doctor and it’s all romantic, but it’s not; my lips were numb and my hands were chapped.”
The rest of the interview mostly plays it safe with questions along the lines of, “Did you enjoy working with X” and, “Do you watch the show?” but there are some interesting tidbits and funny set stories in there to make up for the lack of details about the plot. The actual images from the episode also do not give too much away, beyond the fact that it appears to be set partially in 16th century England and partially in more futuristic times. With 76 minutes to play with, the script could jump around all over time and space.
Tell us in the comments if you’re hyped for November 23rd and if you’re planning to see the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special episode in a theater or settle in with it at home.
The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special will be simulcast around the world on November 23rd, 2013.