2013 – The Year of the Whovians (Part 1)
John Hussey begins a look back over the major news, rumours and developments of 2013.
Yet another year has almost come and gone and what a year 2013 has been! We have been bursting with news and rumours left, right and centre on many major matters. They have left us in anticipation, sadness, and above all discussion. I would like to once again take this opportunity to look over the year and discuss everything that has gone on.
News and Rumours
Build-up for Series 7: Part 2
Last year it was all about the build-up to Part 1 of Series 7 and the departure of the Ponds. This year it was all about Part 2 and the re-introduction of Jenna Coleman as her mysterious companion Clara Oswald. We were left with a lot of questions over her identity and how she miraculously appeared twice within Series 7 (‘Asylum of the Daleks’ and ‘The Snowmen’) last year as two different versions of Clara, and a third was set to be introduced in ‘The Bells of Saint John’.
The final build-up came with the finale and what the story would be about. Upon discovering its title being ‘The Name of the Doctor’ and the promises of the Doctor’s greatest secret being revealed it certainly got all fans across the planet building up with extreme anticipation over what this secret would actually be. I don’t think many actually guessed the answer correctly because it was just so unexpected, continuing my view of the Time Lord perfectly: he isn’t all he is telling us everything and is steeped in mystery that even his closest friends will never know about.
Continued Build-up to the 50th Anniversary
The continued build-up for the 50th was just the same as last year. It was a case of guessing who would be in it and what it would be about. The content was left fairly vague right up until we received a trailer in early November. Steven Moffat and the team did a brilliant job hiding the storyline which left the experience of its broadcast all the more sweeter knowing we’d be walking in totally blind as to what would happen.
Early debates were over its duration which was left very uncertain for half the year. It was originally given an estimated length of only 60 minutes by the BBC Worldwide for their scheduling planner but was later revealed to be 75 minutes. This left some fans (including me to begin with) in uproar as to how it would be able to tell a sufficient story that would do justice for 50 years of the show.
As for who was going to be in it, that was still a massive long battle. Nearly all the classic actors simply stated that they had no idea what was going on or said that they probably wouldn’t be a part of the celebrations on the account of not being asked back to their respective roles. Even the New Who Doctors were in question about returning with David Tennant constantly saying he doesn’t know and even at one point believing he probably won’t end up in it. Christopher Eccleston fluctuated all the time about his involvement, one minute giving signs he wanted absolutely nothing to do with the show again to giving answers that possibly hinted he may very well be coming back.
Even some of the companions stated their interests or indicated that they had been told by the BBC to keep schedules open for 2013, leaving us even more confused as to who was returning. John Barrowman was one of those who constantly expressed their interest in being involved in the 50th, even to the point of stating it there would be no celebration without his character Captain Jack Harkness. One of the few who actually identified their non-involvement was Freema Agyeman who stated she was going to be involved in the publicity side of things but not the actual story itself. At one point even David Morrisey (who played Jackson Lake in ‘The Next Doctor’) expressed his interest in being involved. It was a mystery that lasted for the majority of the year. Even when filming had started in April we got very little information from the pictures or short videos released by the BBC. It was all very vague and didn’t give a lot away (apart from Matt Smith hanging from the TARDIS for a massive stunt in London). That’s how it remained until November with us fans totally left in the dark.
Peter Jackson Directing?
One of the bigger rumours and build-ups throughout the year was Peter Jackson possibly becoming a director for the show. Earlier indications made many fans believe he would actually be involved for the 50th due to his massive name in Hollywood, a perfect opportunity for such a grand occasion for Doctor Who. Sadly this wasn’t the case after it was announced Nick Hurran (director of ‘The Girl Who Waited’, ‘The God Complex’, ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ and ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’) was taking on the job. The whole question of his involvement is still lingering in the air with even Moffat putting coal in the fire by stating they have had talks with each other over a potential idea of his involvement. Jackson, a life-long fan of the show, has said he would gladly be involved for the simple expense of adding a Dalek to his collection. He’s even expressed interest in directing an episode in New Zealand. I guess this will continue to be a fun rumour until the day it’s either announced as legit and actually happening or simply revealed to be wishful thinking by both Jackson and the Doctor Who team.
Who is the 12th Doctor?
The biggest set of rumours this year (that nearly took all the attention away from the 50th) was surrounding who was going to replace Matt Smith as the Doctor. This set of rumours and speculation went on for many, many long and tiring months with the bookies and papers having a long set of guessing games dragging things out. The mad suggestions that they came up with was enough to make some Whovians (including myself) cry just because it was painful to see the stupid people they came up with. Rory Kinnear was actually at one point a favourite to be the next Doctor and it was reported that he was in fact the chosen person for the role. As it turned out it was just news and speculation gone mad with Rory denying this rumour and stating he didn’t even watch the show. One of the last major actors to become the favourites within the bookies was Peter Capaldi who had appeared twice before within the Whoniverse, both in Doctor Who and Torchwood…
The Doctor will Become a Woman
The maddest set of rumours involving the next Doctor was the speculation of the Doctor becoming a woman. This was certainly the most painful point within the selection game because it was just absolutely stupid and uncalled for, let alone it didn’t make sense to pull off such a pointless stunt to please the minority. I digress, but the rumours were there and thank god they ended upon the actual unveiling.
This has been another point in the year where fans have been left uneasy to what is actually going on next year, especially with it being the debut series of the new Doctor. It has been rumoured that there might only be 12 episodes (which includes the Christmas Special). Little info is still known other than it will begin in Autumn of 2014 and won’t be a split series like with Series 6 and 7.
Matt Smith Dematerialises
This was without a doubt the saddest piece of news we received all year. The simple fact was it came out of nowhere. It was originally reported that Matt was continuing his role beyond 2013 and that he would return for Series 8 next year. As it turned out that was a cover-up and he would in fact be leaving in the festive episode (not the best Christmas present in the world). The saddest part was knowing we only had him for a further two episodes. Not another whole series or a set of specials like David. It hit the fandom hard. Really hard. Most didn’t want him to go (I was the same), but after having time to dwell on the information we all began to settle into the idea. One thing’s for sure, Matt certainly embraced his role with a complete sense of fun and enthusiasm and would miss the role, the show and all the wonderful people he had worked with.
Capaldi Enters the TARDIS
With the sadness of Matt’s reported departure out of the way, we began wondering who would be his replacement. It is always an exciting part of the show speculating on who will be next. After many months of debate and a mad jumble of ideas for actors it came to that fateful day (4th August to be precise) when Doctor Who aired a live show to introduce the new lead actor. That person was revealed to be Peter Capaldi. I honestly didn’t think he would get the role upon hearing on the last day that he was the favourite. Since he had played two large roles within both Doctor Who’s and Torchwood’s continuity it seemed like he wouldn’t be picked. But as soon as he was announced I was shocked (in a good way). I thought ‘Wow! Peter’s going to be awesome as the Doctor’. Not only that he was an older actor which made things even more interesting. It has been a long while since we’ve had an older Doctor. I thought this choice would be a nice change for the show in order to keep it fresh. It was an exciting day for the majority of the fandom and left them in strong anticipation for his arrival at Christmas. It also gave people hope that someone with high potential can take over the massive pressure Matt had left in the wake of his successor.
The Return of the Ice Warriors
As well as the return and redesign of the Cybermen, the Ice Warriors would also be joining the 50th year with a redesign in Series 7. Many people were excited about their return with others in worry that their redesign wouldn’t stay true to their look within the Classic era. As it turned out their new design was a spitting image of their original look with minor improvements put into place for a modern age. It was a nice treat and tribute for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, a perfect little call-back to the past.
The Eternity Clock No More
We were given the sad news last year that The Adventure Games would not be continuing so it was nice to see a replacement in the form of The Eternity Clock which was set to have a release of at least two further instalments over the next few years. Unfortunately that too was put out of action and we are now left without any major release games (unless you count the recent mobile one).
The Truth Behind Clara’s Mystery
The major story arc of the second half of Series 7 was the unveiling of Clara’s mystery and how she encountered and died after meeting the Doctor at different points in time and space. This mystery left us hanging from the show’s return in ‘The Bells of Saint John’ up until the finale. As it was eventually revealed in ‘The Name of the Doctor’ she had in fact jumped into the Doctor’s time-stream within his grave on Trenzalore to protect his entire life from the evil of the Great Intelligence who also had entered the time-stream in an attempt to wipe away all of the Time Lord’s victories. This act from Clara splintered herself into thousands of different versions, each of them landing at different points in the Doctor’s life protecting him from certain harm and giving him a helping hand. We discovered that it was in fact Clara who aided the First Doctor and Susan Foremen in stealing the TARDIS and escaping Gallifrey in the first place. This was (at least in my eyes) a satisfactory conclusion to her short, mysterious arc.
Throughout the entire build-up for Series 7 (going back to last year even), there were questions and confusion over River Song’s involvement within the episodes. After having such a heavy-driven arc with her in Series 6, it was understood that she would be used less for Series 7. This time she merely appeared twice, once for the mid-season finale ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ and then ‘The Name of the Doctor’. In the finale her appearance occurred after her death seen within ‘Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead’ and now she was a mere echo of her former self, a ghost in fact appearing on the sidelines and giving Clara information (as she was the only one who could apparently see her). As it turned out the Doctor could see her all along but resisted speaking to her until the end because he thought it would hurt him too much. The Doctor doesn’t like endings but this time he was forced to face his demons and finally give River a proper farewell. Whether or not this is her last appearance is yet to be seen but we can safely say from her point of view at least this was her last encounter with the Doctor.
Caroline Skinner Departs and Brian Minchin Enters
For reasons still not fully explained, Caroline Skinner left her post as Executive Producer after a mere series within the job. This was a shame as she had worked well with Moffat in bringing a new sense of excitement to the show through the episodes of Series 7. Faith Penhale took over the job for the 50th Anniversary Special ‘The Day of the Doctor’ before Brian Minchin became the new Executive Producer alongside Moffat from ‘The Time of the Doctor’ onwards. He seems very excited about the job and has great plans for the show’s future and direction.
The Name of the Doctor Leaked
Blu-ray versions of the Series 7 box-set were leaked early in America resulting in ‘The Name of the Doctor’ getting out several days before the actual broadcast. Luckily no spoilers were leaked after Moffat kindly expressed his wish for the story’s ending to be kept a secret until it was properly broadcast on television. As a result of no spoilers being released a special short interview from the sets of the 50th featuring both Matt and David was shown early.
The Hidden Hurt Doctor
It was revealed at the end of ‘The Name of the Doctor’ that the Doctor had a secret incarnation that he hid away from his memory for no one to discover. This Doctor had broken the promise of the Doctor’s name and because of this was rejected by the Eleventh Doctor. The caption read ‘Introducing John Hurt as the Doctor’. It left all of fandom in complete confusion as to what this new revelation entailed upon the storyline. It also made us think twice about the Doctor who held all these mysteries and secrets from us all. All we knew was we had to wait till November to find out what would happen next.
The returning Double-act
The first returning cast for the 50th announced were David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler (though actually revealed to be playing a manifestation of the Moment in the form of Rose). That certainly got many fans excited over the return of one of the most popular Doctors and his companion.
Returning monsters of the 50th
The first monster to be announced for the 50th was the Zygons (later revealed to be the main villain of the special). They hadn’t appeared onscreen since their first ever appearance on the show in 1975s ‘Terror of the Zygons’. It seemed fitting to see their return during the 50th anniversary. The second and last monster to be announced was the Daleks. This was near enough obvious as they are the most iconic and most known villain of the series and would seem a crime against nature to not let them appear for their bit.
Kate Stewart Returns
The Brigadier’s daughter, Kate Stewart, was announced to be joining the Eleventh, Tenth and Hurt Doctor for ‘The Day of the Doctor’. She had been first introduced in last year’s ‘The Power of Three’ and so it seemed fitting to not only bring her character back for another appearance but to also represent the Brigadier’s legendary character for the 50th anniversary.
No Classic Doctors or Eccleston for 50th
Doctor Who Magazine revealed that there wouldn’t be any Doctors from the classic series returning in the 50th anniversary special. That was certainly a sad piece of news for wanting one last reunion between the last remaining Classic Doctors and the Newer ones. Christopher Eccleston was also announced to not be returning to his role as the Ninth Doctor. The sad part was he had been in talks with Moffat about but in the end declined the offer and wished the best of luck to the team in creating the special without his presence.
No Master for 50th
After many rumours last year pointing towards the potential return of the Master, or maybe even John Simm’s version, it was announced that the Doctor’s arch-nemesis would not be taking part in the 50th anniversary. Maybe next year…
Paul McGann and Tom Baker Return!
The biggest surprise this year was the return of Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. In secret, he actually filmed a mini-episode (‘The Night of the Doctor’) that would act as a prequel to ‘The Day of the Doctor’. This return also gave him his long-awaited regeneration scene which revealed that he made himself into a warrior for his next incarnation after being pushed into fighting in the Time War by the Sisterhood of Karn. This next incarnation would become the War Doctor played by John Hurt.
The other surprise return came with Tom Baker who appeared in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ playing a mysterious character called the Curator. These returns were most appreciated by the fans and really gave the 50th that extra bit of spark.
The First Regeneration Released on DVD
‘The Tenth Planet’ was finally released on DVD after Part 4 (still missing from the BBC Archives) was reconstructed through the means of animation. It seemed fitting to bring out the first regeneration story within the 50th year, especially since it would feature the latest regeneration of the Doctor.
Lost Episodes Recovered
Another surprising piece of news came with the recovery of Patrick Troughton episodes ‘The Enemy of the World’ and ‘The Web of Fear’. All of ‘The Enemy of the World’ was completely restored to its original capacity while sadly one episode of ‘The Web of Fear’ still remains missing. The missing Episode 4 has been reconstructed with remaining pieces of footage and production stills. ‘The Enemy of the World’ was released on DVD this year while ‘The Web of Fear’ is due out next year.
Join us for the concluding part tomorrow.