As shown in Mark Gatiss’ excellent An Adventure in Space and Time, Waris Hussein was an invaluable part of Sydney Newman’s “misfit dream team” in the early days of creating Doctor Who. The young Indian director, who was barely 25 at the time, oversaw the production of Doctor Who’s very first story in 1963 and helped to mold it into the show that we all enjoy today.
In a recent fascinating feature on the Radio Times website, 50-year-old original pages from Hussein’s copy of the script for Doctor Who’s second episode, The Cave of Skulls, are shown in full detail.
The director’s notes on the production–in his own handwriting–including ideas on music cues, changes to the script, and even a drawing or two, can be seen. There is no doubt that without Hussein’s guidance on these very early episodes that the show could have turned out quite different.
Waris Hussein went on to direct many film and TV projects over the years, but before he drifted away from Doctor Who for good, he returned in 1964 to direct episodes of the now-lost (cough, cough!) serial, Marco Polo.
Kasterborites, Mr. Hussein seems to still be active and involved in the directing world. Would you be interested in him making a triumphant return to Doctor Who and directing an episode a half-century after his last one?
How did you enjoy The Day of the Doctor? Did you snuggle up at home with convenience food and alcohol, or did you venture out into the cold to enjoy the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special at the cinema?
If you opted for the latter, you will have struck gold with these excellent warnings and guidance films in which Commander Strax and the Eleventh Doctor guide you (separately) on cinema etiquette and wearing Real 3D glasses.
(Yes, we know it’s a bit wonky. And subtitled too. Frankly, we weren’t expecting to have to share them like this. We’re sad these clips didn’t make it onto the new DVD or Blu-ray of The Day of the Doctor…)
Nothing to do with the anniversary, but hey, you've got to put it somewhere.
Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) has said that discussions of him helming an episode of Doctor Who are “actually kind of serious”.
Jackson’s love of Doctor Who isn’t exactly a secret and this project has been mooted for a while now. The director even made a cameo appearance in The Five(ish) Doctors last month.
Jackson said: “I would be very happy to [direct an episode]. I’d love to try my hand at television, because I’ve never had the discipline of having to shoot for those impossibly tiny schedules. I think I could do it okay now.”
He jested: “I did suggest that they did a New Zealand story – something to do with the [rugby union] All Blacks versus the Daleks. There’s a good story in there, although obviously the All Blacks would have to win!”
The Meta-crises Doctor and Peter Cushing are not counted, meaning Matt is the twelfth, although there's no way anyone is gonna stick to that numbering.
It's like the specials after The Next Doctor. They don't technically belong to series 4, but they weren't ever called series 5...
Lovers and haters of the two Dalek movies from the 1960s will openly admit that Peter Cushing’s incarnation of the famous Time Lord presents something of a problem in the Doctor Who canon. In his widescreen outings, Cushing plays a mad inventor called Dr Who, whose latest invention inadvertently whisks a group of unwillingly passengers into the time vortex where they experience adventures almost identical to the William Hartnell stories The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
Over the decades, many theories have been put forward in an attempt to legitimise Peter Cushing’s place in the Doctor Who universe. Was he an incarnation of the Time Lord from a parallel dimension? Or was he a future version of the Doctor forced to revisit some of his most dangerous exploits as part of a maniacal scheme concocted by the Celestial Toymaker?
Thankfully, Doctor Who‘s head writer has come forward with an intriguing new theory that might just calm a few nerves! Speaking in the current edition of Doctor Who Magazine, Steven Moffat reveals:
“When I started writing The Day of the Doctor I knew I wanted every Doctor to make some sort of appearance… But what about Peter Cushing? Now I love those movies… but they don’t exactly fit with the rest of the show, do they? … You remember that line, in the Black Archive, when Kate is explaining about the need to screen the Doctor’s known associates… She wasn’t supposed to be looking at the Vortex Manipulator – originally she was walking past the posters for the two Peter Cushing movies. In my head, in the Doctor’s universe those films exist as distorted accounts of his adventures… Sadly we couldn’t afford the rights to the posters.” It would have been great to see. In a 50th anniversary year that saw a new Doctor, a new regeneration cycle, a mass return of missing episodes and an appearance from Tom Baker, a canonised Cushing would have been the cherry on the cake!
Alas, it wasn’t to be. The debate must rage on.
At least until the price of those posters comes down…
In his regular Doctor Who Magazine column, Steven Moffat has answered a fan’s query on why Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston’s appearance was so short in the 50th anniversary special recenteration.
John Hurt’s War Doctor got two thirds of the way through a regeneration with the suggestion of the Ninth Doctor’s features forming. Moff’s answer was ‘human decency’…
It was one thing to include [Eccleston] among all the other archive Doctors, as they flew in to save the day — in fact, it would have been disgraceful to have left anyone out — but placing him in that scene might have given the impression he’d actually turned up for filming, which would have been crossing the line.
Not taking part in the 50th was a difficult decision for Chris, taken after a lot of thought and with great courtesy, and not respecting his wishes would have been grossly unprofessional and disrespectful to a good man and a great Doctor. Number 9 may not have turned up for the celebrations, but there would have been no party without him.
Diplomacy of the highest caliber. Eccleston’s engagement with the show has been a thorny issue for fans since Tennant took over. He’s been very clear that there were on-set tensions where he felt staff were badly treated. From what’s been reported previously, it sounds like he felt there was a bullying culture such that staying would have compromised his morals!
I find this a bit difficult. Eccleston did a huge amount for the show – and while it was a different beast back in 2005 (burping bins and farting fat-suits), we wouldn’t have seven series without his hard word and deliberately unexpected portrayal of the Ninth Doctor. My difficulties are firstly that he’s the only person to have had a problem with the production’s culture as far as I’m aware – though maybe he’s the only one who’s told it like it is? And secondly I’m sad to say I got the impression he didn’t enjoy himself that much.
I could be completely off here – but Eccleston looked to me like an actor in a part he really didn’t feel comfortable with. Particularly his balancing an audience of both adults and children and the lighter moments which Tennant and Smith seemed so at ease with. Anyhow, whatever his feelings about the show, Moffat is clear that Eccleston’s decision not to take part in the 50th special was an important and considered one. And you can understand that if someone has declined to have their name attached to something, (like the occasional script writer back in the Classic era), it’s out of order for the production to imply that they did take part.
Further details on the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection DVD and Blu-ray have been revealed. The limited edition box set is out early September.
The set includes: The Name of the Doctor The Night of the Doctor The Day of the Doctor The Time of the Doctor An Adventure in Space and Time Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
Extras include The Day of the Doctor readthrough Deleted scenes, trailers, and the cinema introduction for The Day of the Doctor Behind-the-scenes features on Name, Day, Time of the Doctor and An Adventure in Space and Time Doctor Who The Ultimate Guide The Last Day mini-episode Tales from the TARDIS Farewell to Matt Smith The Science of Doctor Who 2013 Doctor Who Prom
The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection is out on 8 September 2014. There will be only 6000 units on Blu-ray and 4000 units on DVD.
It feels as if the 50th anniversary party has only just ended (although it’s about to start again with this DVD boxset!); the sun is rising, the street-sweepers are out in full force, there’s an overwhelming sense of contentment and fading euphoria, and we’re all contemplating a sausage and syrup bagel from the McDonald’s breakfast menu.
And yet the peoples of the Whoniverse are already attending carefully, as another celebration is fast approaching – the NuWho 10th anniversary!
Yes, in March next year, it will be 10 years since the leather-wearing Ninth Doctor swaggered confidently onto our screens, his Northern tones resonating in the lair of the Nestene Consciousness, his Anti-Plastic gleaming like a sword. What plans does the BBC have to mark this momentous occasion? Can we expect an anniversary special featuring a few more forgotten incarnations of the famous Time Lord? Or will Christopher Eccleston finally make the trip of a lifetime and turn up in person, baggy jeans and all?
Let’s pass on a 10th anniversary special and see the Twelfth Doctor’s arrival as a clean slate, a bold and exciting new era of the show’s history. “No” is the short answer to that one! Steven Moffat has been quite clear about his plans for the next year of Doctor Who, and it doesn’t involve any 10th anniversary shenanigans. Speaking at the world premiere of the new series, Moffat exclaimed:
“We’ve only just done the 50th! After the huge fuss over 50 years of Doctor Who, I think it’s time to settle down and move forwards. So we’re not planning that… unless I’m lying.”
10 years though – that really is an achievement, isn’t it?
“Russell [T. Davies] said ‘we could get 10 years out of this. None of us could imagine that nearly ten years later it would be getting a bigger and bigger reaction every year. So that’s just phenomenal, absolutely amazing. It’s terrifying, but dear God I will miss these days when I’m back on BBC 28.”
It’s hard to remember the time before Doctor Who came back, when there was a growing sense that the programme had niched itself and could never really fulfill the sophisticated demands of a 21st century audience. And whilst Steven Moffat admits there was an air of trepidation in the Cardiff production office, he never had any doubt that the show would be a success again.
“It was Russell doing it in those days,” he said, “and I was lucky enough to write a two parter. I was absolutely confident, because I wasn’t in the firing line. I read Russell’s first script, which was so brilliant, it was exactly right. It was perfectly faithful to the old show, and yet it was the new show, and I remember thinking this is going to be the biggest show on television. I told them they had nothing to worry about: easy for me to say, they just looked pale and terrified in the way I now look pale and terrified.”
He’s right, of course – how many other TV shows celebrate their opening episodes with a worldwide cinema release? Doctor Who is huge at the moment, and we’re living right in the middle of a golden age. Having become a fan in the post-Television Movie period of the show’s history, which consisted mainly of token VHS releases and BBC novelisations, I never dared to hope of a proper TV comeback; I’d have to make do with The Curse of Fatal Death instead!
And awesome as it is, I agree wholly with Steven Moffat here, (assuming he’s telling the truth!) Let’s pass on a 10th anniversary special and see the Twelfth Doctor’s arrival as a clean slate, a bold and exciting new era of the show’s history. Save the party poppers for 2063!