Review: An Audience With Peter Capaldi & Jenna Coleman
Connor Johnston reviews the Australian leg of the World Tour and summarises the revelations of the Q&A.
Australia: ‘The Land Down Under’, ‘The Sunburnt Country’ and the half way mark for the historic, ground-breaking Doctor Who World Tour to launch the new series and new Doctor to the universe. Making my own journey 800kms across the country to meet my new BFF’s Peter and Jenna in Sydney proved to be an anticipated trip – but my journey could in no way contend with the whopping 80,000+ kms the pair will have travelled by the conclusion of the tour in just over 4 days’ time. Touching down on our Sydney shores on the 11th of August (In a similar fashion to the first English settlers in the 1700’s… minus the fleet), the Doctor Who team was met with an overflowing amount of enthusiasm and excitement, which all cultivated towards the major fan event “An Audience with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman” on Tuesday night that included the Australasian premiere screening of “Deep Breath”. The questions still remains through… did the event live up to the hype and expectations of fans? In Aussie Terminology: Bloody oath it did!
Leading up to the night the Australian media reflected the madness of the fandom as suddenly Doctor Who spread like wildfire through the country. On the Tuesday alone, before the main event in the evening, the pair took part in (to the equal or exceeding amount ) 3 radio interviews, 4 television Interviews (including a half hour special to air on ABC 20th of August), 1 large public appearance/ photo-shoot and a morning press conference and screening for VIP guests and entertainment critics. As the time for the main event grew closer and closer the entire atmosphere changed dramatically around the city streets as Tom Baker scarfs and Matt Smith bowties slowly made their way to Sydney’s State Theatre. Soon after all 2000 attendees waited patiently outside it was clear that the Australian leg of the tour had reached the pinnacle of its intensity.
The first thing that one noticed was how seamlessly and professionally the evening ran. Having attended numerous BBC Worldwide fan events in the past it’s clear that their organizational skills are what they pride themselves on – and quite deservingly too. The punctuality of the evening was rather refreshing and the inclusion of various merchandise stalls were very welcomed – especially due to the special World Tour branded stock.
The set and transitions were quite astonishing with Cybermen, the TARDIS and even the voice of the Daleks welcoming the crowd, but most breathtaking was the dramatic reveal of both Jenna and Peter following the episode screening – a video where Peter received his much earned standing ovation last night is included below.
My one minor disappointment was the lack of red carpet reception from Jenna and Peter at the beginning of the event, though it was clear with the venue it would have been near to impossible to achieve and easily forgiven due to the quality of the remainder of the night.
The Host – Adam Spencer
If not for the episode screening itself and of course the extra special guests Peter and Jenna, the highlight would of undoubtedly the exceptionally entertaining hosting of Adam Spencer. Summoning up the charisma of his radio hosting days, Spencer kept the audience constantly involved and in hysterics throughout the night providing commentary on the evening’s video montages, special interviews with random audience members, presentation of the “#i<3<3thedoctor” competition run by the ABC and of course leading the Q&A between Jenna and Peter. The winning ingredient that ensured Spencer’s success and made his words all that more genuine was the fact that he himself is a massive fan of the show sharing, mirroring and on some occasions even overtaking the crowds level of excitement. You can hear an extremely enjoyable interview with Adam speaking about the night and his own passion for Doctor Who below.
Peter and Jenna
We are all familiar with the saying “Never meet your heroes, they’ll only disappoint.” Luckily these words in no way apply to Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman. As I mentioned before, following the screening of the first episode each star entered at the conclusion of a fittingly dramatic montage of either for Jenna: past companions, and for Peter: past Doctors as simply shadows emerging from a stage filled with smoke. The videos that will have captured these moments (Peter’s is featured above) simply can in no way portray how surreal, breathtaking and perfectly executed the entrances were – and luckily it all went uphill from there on in. Both Peter and Jenna were on top form; classy, sophisticated, hilarious and extremely generous with their responses – constantly involving the audience as much as they could speaking directly to us and drawing on our knowledge on more than one occasion to contribute to the conversation.
Unfortunately many of us have had the experience of meeting someone to whom you adore and witnessing their aloofness and egos take over when confronted with an amazing amount of praise – But Peter and Jenna could honestly not be further away from that ditch. Witnessing first-hand their completely humble, appreciative and down to earth attitude during the Q&A made the evening so much more enjoyable.
So what did we learn from the Q&A? Quite a bit actually – as a courtesy to fans the following summary of the Q&A that followed “Deep Breath” will be completely spoiler free.
What we learnt…
About the New Doctor: Capaldi teased his Doctor as ‘more impatient’ and ‘extremely fierce,’ but still ‘very joyful’, ‘very funny,’ and ‘enthusiastic about life and world around him.’
About the New Costume: Asked by fans about the inclusion of a wedding ring to the Doctor’s gear, Capaldi teased us saying “you don’t even know if Time Lords wear their wedding ring on the human ring finger”! He continued to explain that the ring was made up of both his own wedding ring and a jeweled band specially made for his costume, stating that the “Main reason is that he really hates taking it off, especially filming in Cardiff for 8 months straight as the risk of it getting lost is far too high.” He stressed that “It would very literally break my heart if it got lost. I worked with the costume designer quite intently to seek a disguising ring to almost cover for it to go over my original ring with a jewel, so my actual wedding ring can’t be seen. Interestingly enough when Mark Gatiss invited me to the set of An Adventure in Space and Time I went on the same day as William Hartnell’s granddaughter, who had shown me the ring he wore in the early episodes -- and while I was tempted I thought it might be to up front to ask for the actual prop to wear in my series.”
About preparing and filming The Time of the Doctor: Peter spoke about his experiences with Matt Smith saying “As soon as we both knew about my casting I organised lunch with him and he arrived on crutches -- So I asked what had happened, he simply looked at me, nodded his head and exclaimed: It’s this show mate! It’s this show! He added that “On the day they wanted to keep up separate, for both of us -- So I wouldn’t get overly nervous after seeing what an undoubtedly would’ve been a sensational performance by Matt and wonder “How can I top that?!” and obviously to spare him the confronting nature of having a man literally in your own shoes waiting to replace you on the set. Passing into the hallway he was a great sport however, he pulled me into a great tight hug and took off his watch that he wore as the Doctor and said “This is yours now, the TARDIS is your, have a blast mate”.
Jenna also shared her experience by saying that she felt like she was “two timing” both Peter and Matt. She also noted that it would be a good idea to release outtakes of Capaldi’s first scene from “Time’, due to how many different versions were filmed and confessed when filming with Peter she couldn’t stop laughing at one point when he sang “Kidneys” in and opera voice.
About the New Series: To conclude the evening, Peter and Jenna were both asked to tease the new series with vague phrases. Jenna explained it as both “Good versus Bad” and “Strange and Charming”, and Peter simply provoked thought with the three words: “Trust no one.”
Quick Tidbits: Jenna has two aunts who live in Australia in the audience; Jenna’s audition was done in secrecy under a codename show called ‘Men On Waves’ which was an anagram for Woman Seven; Jenna didn’t work with Matt Smith while filming Asylum but instead was talking to a green circle with someone on the side reading in Matt’s lines; Steven performed the entire season 8 in his kitchen “like a one man standup comic” for Peter Capaldi before filming began; and both Peter and Jenna can deliver surprisingly convincing Aussie accents.
See video highlights below:
And possibly the most exciting revelation of the night …. REVEAL: show
And for the episode itself? It will please you (or infuriate you to know) that my lips will most definitely be kept sealed on that matter! One thing the night did emphasize however was how overwhelmingly suited the story is for a cinematic release, and this is not just attributed to the running time. Deep Breath is not your average episode – I dare say it’s not even your average series opener –the entire tone and atmosphere and plot of the episodes screams EPIC BIG SCREEN DOCTOR WHO – and I implore you all to do whatever it takes to get along to a cinema screening come August 23rd – It’s an experience that is truly unmissable.
At the end of the evening I knew that it had been an experience I would never forget – and yes this was partly due to the episode, the seamless organization and execution and of course the chance to admire and converse with both Peter and Jenna up close – but above all else it was the unity and overwhelming mutual joy of 2 thousand fellow fans from all different walks of life – united in the love and passion for one television show. It is here that the true secret of Doctor Who’s success was discovered – that it brings people together – whether it be on a website or at a sold out special event – its ability to unite and capture so many peoples adorations and affections is what will ensure that Doctor Who never dies.