Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty Review

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 Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull reviews BBC3’s embarrassing live 50th show.


I never did catch Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor at its time of intended viewing. I only saw it last month and by then the joy had gone. I’d read countless theories about the Twelfth Doctor and so many reaction pieces I thought my eyes would bleed, the frisson of anticipation that came with Peter Capaldi’s casting had really died down. When I read that the BBC would be doing something similar to tie in with the fiftieth anniversary (of course they would), I had my hopes up. My, were they crushed.

Now I’m going to break down one of the most embarrassing live television events the BBC have ever produced (and this is including EastEnders Live) in four steps…

4. “A dirty movie?! Well, I don’t know what you were watching, son, but that’s absolutely fine.”

doctor-who-live-after-party-dirtyFrom the off it was quite clear that Rick Edwards and Zoe Ball had consumed more than a smidgeon of the sauce before taking over presenting duties. Edwards’ ears suffered too as he misheard a young Asian fan saying how he found The Day of the Doctor “very moving”. Apparently this means something else in Edwardian and it came out as “dirty movie” to him. It could have been a funny blunder but Edwards moved on too quickly, rendering the bloke useless to correct him. To top things off he made a joke off the back of it that came out as downright patronising. So far, so good.

3. “Just let them all sit down!”

doctor-who-live-mark-gatissMark Gatiss (who has allegedly got an ‘e’ in his surname) was clearly at the end of his tether after a long and painful series of questions delivered from Ball and Edwards to past companions. They had taken up position at the bar and after a lot of communication problems with the throng of erstwhile assistants, Ball decided to introduce Mark Gatiss who, with more than a touch of vexation, shouted that they should basically stop. The questions they were asking were basically just making fun of the classic era (“Sit down if you didn’t say, “what is it, Doctor?””) so he had every right. And it was getting just that bit dull.

2. “Grab my hips. Why not?”

doctor-who-live-katy-manningBefore the elimination ‘game’ conducted by Edwards and Ball, the pair decided it’d be fun to go over to the companions and have a chat with “Leela” but at the cost of Katy Manning’s dignity. The two presenters attempted to squeeze in between Katy Manning and Louise Jameson but because of the ex-Third Doctor’s companion’s positioning, Edwards nearly toppled her from her stool. And then, just like with his earlier faux pas, he crudely tried to cover it up. “I’m basically sitting on you” is what we know, Rick, not an explanation.

1. “We just wanted to say congratulations on such a great anniversary. It’s a big part of British culture, some would say.”

The inclusion of boy-band One Direction in the line-up was really one of the main selling points in the latest edition of Doctor Who Live. The first one built up to the big reveal whilst The Afterparty is exactly what you’d expect but they needed to shake things up. So they decided to bring in One Direction. The X Factor winners were, at the time, in the middle of their one day live-stream entitled 1D Day and could potentially steal viewers. In an act of fellow feeling the BBC roped in One Direction for a few minutes and the results were disastrous.

It started off alright – although Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson, the only two band members present, clearly had no idea what Doctor Who is – but soon escalated into a farce. There were umpteen technical glitches that meant that interviewer Zoe Ball’s (it would have been funnier if it’d been Rick Edwards conducting it) voice was put on a loop and delayed by fifteen seconds. Eventually random noises prevented Horan and Tomlinson from continuing and the pair eventually gave up. They yanked out their microphones, Steven Moffat put his head in his hands in dismay, John Hurt looked baffled, Matt Smith tried gamely to keep things afloat, all the while an overzealous Zoe Ball tried to fix it.

Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty was just an awful idea awfully executed. The audience ‘reactions’ occurred too soon after The Day of the Doctor had broadcast, meaning the only things people could say were positive. I myself had to take about fifteen minutes to actually realise that it’d finished, let alone form a constructive opinion. Former companions poked fun at Rick Edwards’ buffoonish, possibly drunken antics; Zoe Ball stumbled around, trying to contain things; Mark Gatiss just got miffed and laughed at the whole thing and Katy Manning nearly got knocked off her chair (“Did I dream in my tired haze that at [the] DW afterparty I was virtually sat on by a bearded young presenter?” said Manning on Twitter).

Business as usual, then?