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16 June 2018 @ 02:51 pm
Random Doctor Who Picture: The Shalka Doctor  

Cartoon image of the Shalka Doctor - looks like a cross between Richard E Grant and Dracula in a green great coat.

I had not realised (or perhaps remembered) that NuWho was announced before Scream of the Shalka was released on BBCi - the DWM article that accompanies this picture notes that this is "the official ninth incarnation according to the BBC". But the same issue carries the stop press announcement of the new series. This ninth incarnation was not going to be official for much longer.

I can't help feeling, in some ways, that its just as well this wasn't the future of Doctor Who at the BBC. The whole article is bizarre. DWM is on set or the recording of the story. Except they aren't. At 10:10am DWM is banned from the studio (in case they stress the actors). At 10:15am they are banned from the Green Room and sent to the car park and are told can they can't talk to the actors. Richard E. Grant (it is stressed to them several times) is not the new Doctor. He's just an actor who is providing the Doctor's voice. Anyway he knows nothing about the show and has never seen it. Nor has the director, Wilson Milam - in fact the director has never even heard of Doctor Who. Eventually they do get to interview Richard E. Grant (in the car park) and DWM dutifully reports that he is very nice and not at all standoffish. They are even allowed briefly into the studio (when the actors aren't there) and told they can come back later to take photos - when they return Richard E. Grant is absent. The whole article finishes as DWM reports a random conversation, as they are packing up, with a man who abridged some of the Target novelisations to be released on tape "It was bollocks!" he tells DWM. "But there are 5,000 completists right? Mad fans who'll buy any old crap. It's the Doctor Who fans. They're mad as f---"

What's most bizarre about the whole thing, really, is not that DWM (and by extension the fans) is basically treated as a nuisance (I'm sure DWM is often considered a nuisance by the production team and I suspect they don't always hide that as well as they might) but that those involved had sufficiently little grip on the publicity machine that something like that could get written up and printed in the show's official licensed magazine. Someone must have realised about halfway through the day that they were busy shooting themselves in the publicity foot - and hence arranged the interview with Grant - but even so the whole thing is shambolic and, given the viewership for an animated adventure on BBCi was not going to be much larger than the fanbase, reveals a shocking contempt for the story's core audience. Less than a year later and the BBC would, one way or another, be ensuring that nothing less than a kind of breathless enthusiasm for the current version of Doctor Who and the production team could appear in the magazine.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/505350.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on June 16th, 2018 10:47 pm (UTC)
Shalka has it's fans, but I didn't like it much. It felt like a Pertwee-type story written by someone who didn't like Pertwee-type stories and starring an actor who clearly had no desire to be there and didn't mind that showing in his performance. Which I suspect was all the case (Paul Cornell was one of the initiators of the anti-Pertwee movement in fandom, I think). Even much of the script seemed like a first draft - I vaguely recall placeholder dialogue along the lines of "You wait here while I go into the corridor and do something weird and eccentric." Ugh.

I think there has been some discussion online about whether the BBC has tightened its control on DWM lately. Anything more than token criticism of contemporary episodes has long been forbidden, but things over five years or so old used to be discussed in a more balanced way, but it has been suggested that now criticising anything is forbidden, resulting in the new Time Team and the sacking of The Watcher. Certainly there have been few analytical articles since Marcus Hearne became editor and last issue's piece on season twelve felt much more light-weight and badly argued than many pieces in the past.
louisedennislouisedennis on June 17th, 2018 10:44 am (UTC)
I think there has been some discussion online about whether the BBC has tightened its control on DWM lately.

Hmm... I'm not sure I'm in a good position to comment on that. I cancelled my DWM subscription towards the end of the Tennant era, feeling it had become too much of a BBC mouthpiece and was only tempted back by all the hype around the 500th issue - at which point I was pleasantly surprised to find what seemed like more analytical articles had returned.

I've only read the first of the new Time Teams and wasn't particularly taken with it but I've never been that fond of the Time Team as a format and given I'm more or less precisely the sort of white middle-class middle-aged fan the magazine has been catering to for a long time, I'm not entirely surprised that I may find the way younger fans choose to express their fannishness a little off-putting. If fans in their twenties respond well to it, then in an abstract way I'm in favour. I feel I've a whole essay's worth of thoughts about my rather negative reaction to both the new Time Team (and by extension the Time Ladies blog and podcast) which is mostly about tracking different modes of fandom and how my own approach to fannishness is probably quite heavily influenced by DWM's traditional style of intensively researched articles.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on June 17th, 2018 12:22 pm (UTC)
DWM seems to go through cycles of more and fewer analytical articles, back from before the new series started. I also go through cycles of wanting to cancel my subscription and feeling it has got a lot better; those two are probably correlated, but not necessary directly.

I've never liked the Time Team format much either. I hope the new Time Teamers don't just write off the original series. To be fair, so far they haven't, not even Time and the Rani (certainly not as much as Clayton Hickman used to when he was on the Time Team), although I got annoyed when someone admitted to watching the original series on 1.5 speed, but that's probably a wider issue about what fans, old and new, think is padding vs what is actually padding (IMHO).

I haven't actually seen much of the reaction to the Time Team, just heard about it second-hand, as I'm fairly out of the loop of online fandom these days, not least because I don't use Twitter of Facebook. I think my fannishness is equally influenced by DWM's traditional style, as is the book I'm working on, which makes me worry whether there is still a market for it. I hope so, but who knows?
liadtbunny: DW Twelveliadtbunny on June 17th, 2018 02:27 pm (UTC)
Treating the people who are going to publicize your i-show badly is stupid even if you despise them. I get suspicious of too much waving about how great everything is it makes me think the opposite.

N.B. As a very sporadic DWM reader I was never taken with the Time Team either.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on June 17th, 2018 04:20 pm (UTC)
Treating the people who are going to publicize your i-show badly is stupid even if you despise them.

Indeed - it seems incredible that the lead actor and director didn't realise being nice to the fans was part of the deal - especially since its clear several of the other actors were happy to chat (and also a bit put out when told they weren't allowed to).

I get suspicious of too much waving about how great everything is it makes me think the opposite.

The nadir for me was when they did a post-series interview with RTD after series 1 and asked him to comment and rate each episode. They were all great! and he gave them all 10/10! - one kind of wondered after that what the point of the piece was.

I think I'd have enjoyed Time Team more if it focused a bit more on trying to draw themes out of the viewers' reactions, and less on cherry-picking interesting but swiftly passing observations - but it would have been a rather different beast. As it is, it is kind of an episode commentary only without the DVD playing along... but it's obviously been a very popular feature so horses for courses, I suppose.
liadtbunny: DW Twelveliadtbunny on June 18th, 2018 03:43 pm (UTC)
Heh, if I was RTD I would mark down a monster or something to look like I wasn't totally biased!

Aw, poor actors not being allowed to chat. Sounds like the article could have done with some extra interviews in it too.