The Fox in the Box: Thoughts on Foxes’ Casting
Guest contributor Luke Gwalchmai offers some thoughts and speculation on the recent casting.
So, as I’m sure you’ve already heard, it was recently announced that English singer-songwriter Foxes will be appearing in an episode during Series 8 of Doctor Who. This article will look at previous appearances made by singers and also offer up some thoughts and speculation on just what Foxes will be doing in the show.
Note: this article won’t discuss Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler or John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness, only singers who have made a one-off guest appearance, similar to what Foxes will be doing.
Kylie Minogue: Astrid Peth
Back in 2007, Kylie Minogue appeared in the Christmas special Voyage of the Damned. She played a character called Astrid Peth, who was a waitress aboard the Titanic spaceship. She joined the crew on the Titanic because she dreamed about seeing other planets. She encountered the Tenth Doctor when he helped her clean up a broken glass, and in return for not outing him as a stowaway, he took her on a teleport trip down to the Earth. Over the course of the special, Astrid proved herself to be a determined, brave character that was able to stand up in the face of danger and put her fears aside to try to save herself and the other passengers on the Titanic.
Astrid was on course to become the 10th Doctor’s next companion; assuming they both survived. This would turn out to be a partnership that never made it off the Titanic, as Astrid met her fate saving the lives of the Doctor and the remaining passengers on the Titanic as well as those on the Earth below by using a forklift to lift Max Capricorn and throw him into the burning engines. Unfortunately, she was unable to save herself as the brakes were cut by the Heavenly Hosts and she started to plunge to her death along with Capricorn. Before she met her grisly fate, however, she was dematerialised by her teleport bracelet, and while the Doctor attempted to save her using the transmit system, he could not fully restore her. So, after sharing one final kiss, he allowed her atoms to scatter into space, thus fulfilling her dream to explore the universe.
Astrid was a very strong yet vulnerable character, who was portrayed brilliantly by Kylie Minogue. She attracted a high number of viewers to this Christmas special with a record high 13.31 million viewers for the revival series. Kylie didn’t sing in this episode, so she is an example of how singers can work in the show without having to come on and do their day job. But that is what Foxes will be doing, so her appearance will be different to that of Minogue’s.
Katherine Jenkins: Abigail Pettigrew
Katherine Jenkins portrayed Abigail Pettigrew in the 2010 Christmas special, A Christmas Carol. Her character was cryogenically frozen by Kazran’s father against a big loan that her family owed him. Sadly, Abigail suffered from a fatal disease; the freezing prevented her death but whenever she was awoken her condition would deteriorate. There was a counter placed on the outside of her freezing chamber, this kept count of the time she had left to live if she was unfrozen.
Abigail was awoken by Kazran and the Doctor, after the Doctor started messing with Kazran’s past in an attempt to get him to save Amy, Rory and the people on their ship. She was able to calm a sky shark which was hunting them by singing to it. She went with them aboard the TARDIS to return the shark to the cloud bank, after which, she returned to her chamber. Kazran and the Doctor subsequently woke her every Christmas Eve and the Doctor took them to numerous places. She only informed Kazran of her inevitable fate when she realised that she only had one day left to live. When she returned to her chamber, a heartbroken Kazran told the Doctor not to return next year.
Many years later Abigail was eventually unfrozen. This was when the Doctor convinced a Kazran to unfreeze her for one final time, as he needed her to sing. This was because her voice would break up the cloud and allow the ship to land safely. She sang into the sonic and the cloud opened and Amy, Rory and the others survived. Abigail spent the remaining hours of her last day with Kazran, and they flew across the sky using the shark for one last time.
It is a rather tragic story, as it must have been very difficult for her to cope with the fact that every time she is unfrozen, she is one step closer to death. But not only did she remain brave for herself, she was also a strong figure and really helped Kazran to let her go. She was a sweet, kind-hearted person who was determined to enjoy the time she had left. She was played brilliantly by Katherine Jenkins, who really shows us that she can act, as well as having a stunning singing voice! I personally prefer Katherine Jenkins’ performance to that of Kylie Minogue, as I feel her acting was more on song, and it helps that I prefer A Christmas Carol to Voyage of the Damned. Not taking anything away from Kylie Minogue though, I still think she did a brilliant job. Unlike Kylie Minogue, Katherine Jenkins sang in her episode, so Foxes appearance may be in a similar vein to Katherine’s, depending on whether or not she plays a key character in the episode, or is just singing in the background for a few minutes!
So, Who Will the Fox Play?
I have seen a few good guesses and theories as to what sort of character that she may be playing on this particular site, but I won’t steal them for myself, that’s not my style. There is, of course, every possibility that Foxes will simply be shown singing in the background of a scene, as the entertainment on a spaceship. But I also think that there is a chance that she could be playing a character akin to Winston Churchill in Victory of the Daleks, in that she will have phoned the Doctor at some point in his past, and will alert him to a danger in her time period. Victory of the Daleks may not be a widely acclaimed episode (although I personally love it), but the character of Winston Churchill is a very popular one with the show’s fans, so I think it would be a good idea to have Foxes play a character in that kind of mould; a popular historic figure who the audience can really get behind. There is also every chance that she is playing a villain, this would be an interesting idea, as female villains on Doctor Who in recent years have proved to be a popular idea, examples include Madame Kovarian, Miss Kizlet and Mrs Gillyflower. These are just a few humble ideas as to what kind of character Foxes could be playing.
What’s my opinion?
I personally feel that Foxes’ guest appearance on Doctor Who won’t be as big a role as the ones that Katherine Jenkins and Kylie Minogue landed. But I do feel that she will have more to do that just be shown singing on screen and then be in the background of the scene, if this is all her appearance is, then to me it doesn’t really seem like something they would go to the trouble of advertising. I think that she will play a supporting role in the episode, as something like an employee of a company or corporation who finds herself caught up in the trouble that the Doctor is coming to stop, kind of like Astrid, but just not as key a character.
Given that this is her acting debut, to me it seems like it would be too much of a risk to give her such a main role in an episode. Although, she could turn out to be a fantastic actress and Doctor Who will have unearthed a real gem, so I could very well be proved wrong. Billie Piper didn’t have much acting experience before landing the role of the companion, so who really knows? We all know Moffat likes a bit of a gamble, so maybe he is going to throw Foxes in at the deep end. So to sum up, I don’t really know! I keep tossing and turning between the ideas that she will either play a supporting, more background role in the episode, or whether she’ll turn out to play a more pivotal role. It appears to me that it’s going to be one or the other, because even though she’s singing in the episode, it could prove to be a key point of the episode, like in A Christmas Carol. I do hope that she gets a fair amount to do though, given that it’s her acting debut, it would be nice to give her a real shot to show us all what she can do.
I’m very happy with the casting of Foxes, it is a risk because it will be her acting debut, but it’s nice to see the show giving someone their acting break. Plus, she’s one hell of a singer! I also think it’s quite pleasant to see that Doctor Who is casting fans of the show for Series 8, such as Foxes herself, Frank Skinner and of course, Peter Capaldi! It doesn’t necessarily matter, and isn’t crucial to the quality of the show, but I do think that’s it’s nice to see people on the show who are fans of the show. Thank you for reading and please feel free to let me know your thoughts on what kind of character you think Foxes will be playing. How do you think that she and her music will be incorporated into the episode?