Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

Russell T. Davies (2010)

June 9, 2010

Here’s a transcript of Russell T. Davies’ appearance on the BBC a couple of days ago, discussing the news that Torchwood is coming back for a fourth series, as well as his thoughts on Matt Smith and Karen Gillan and how he’d like to make 20 episodes of Doctor Who every year…

Q: Torchwood has always been filmed in Wales, but it’s about to get an international flavour. Tell us about these storylines set in the US and all around the world.

A: It’s a bit soon to give away too much about the stories. We will still be shooting in Wales, there’ll still be Cardiff action, but the storyline now takes the team to America, to other parts of the world. It’s still going to be good, very personal stories, sometimes you describe it as ‘international stuff’, it sounds like a 1960’s series called ‘The Jetset’ or something. It’s going to be really good, strong human stories at the heart.

Q: Can you confirm John Barrowman will return as Captain Jack, alongside Eve Myles as Gwen?

A: The Barrowman will be back as Jack, and we’re all very excited, and hopefully some new UK signings as well, and a new American cast as well. That’s going to be part of the fun, the culture clash, you know sometimes in dramas Americans crop up for no reason, this is going to be the Americans not knowing what’s going on with the Welsh, the Welsh not knowing what’s going on with the Americans. There’s a lot of fun, I think, to be had out of that, so it’s going to be lively, it’s going to be a good laugh.

Q: Why do you think Torchwood has done so well?

A: I think science-fiction stuff is popular, fantasy stuff is popular, we were very lucky casting it well, and there’s an appetite for it. It’s a funny show, in a way, it’s sort of designed for the digital age, it’s a weapon, the way it keeps moving channels. Right now it’s a production with BBC Worldwide, that’s the first drama BBC Worldwide has ever actually made, so again it’s a new way of making drama, it’s a new way of funding drama, in association with Starz. It just suits the age, really, to have a flexible, dynamic show that can take new shapes, and this is the latest shape. It’s exciting.

Q: Do you miss Doctor Who?

A: Oh, I do! Do you know, the greatest single responsibility that the Doctor Who team has now is getting me a disc out to Los Angeles every single Saturday, which I sit and watch and love. So I don’t miss it, actually, I’m a viewer now, I watch the episodes and I’m loving them. My overriding thought is ‘Oh, that’s hard work’, part of me is so glad not to be sweating over that TARDIS. And truly, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, what a glorious new age. It’s the show that’ll never die.

Q: Would you change anything, now that you’re watching it as a fan?

A: Not… (laughs) how dare you suggest such a thing! The only thing I’d change is I’d make 20 episodes a year. I’m sure they’d be glad to hear that. More Doctor Who!

Andrew Cartmel (2010)

February 16, 2010

Out of the blue, a little bit of a fuss has been kicked up by the suggestion that ‘Doctor Who’ may have included a few anti-Thatcher characters during the Sylvester McCoy era. Scandal! Anyway, here’s Andrew Cartmel – script-editor during the McCoy days – on ‘Newsnight’ discussing the claims:

Q: Was ‘Doctor Who’ really a satire on Thatcherism in the 80’s?

Andrew Cartmel: Well, I didn’t see the stories as a satire on Thatcherism, but the character (Helen A) was a take on Mrs. Thatcher, absolutely.

Q: You were quoted as saying, when you joined the BBC, that you wanted to overthrow the government. Is that an accurate quote?

A: Well, it is, but I’m a beneficiary of the art of selective quotation, which is the cornerstone of journalism. John (Nathan-Turner) asked me, if there was one thing – this was towards the end of the interview, when it was obvious I was going to get the job – he asked me, ‘If there’s one thing you could do with the show, what would it be?’, and I said ‘Overthrow the government’, because I was young and I didn’t like the way things were going at the time. John said ‘Well you can’t do that, the most you can do on Doctor Who is say that people with purple and green skin are all equal’, which we then proceeded to do.

Q: Is it true to say that British sci-fi tends to be left-wing and American sci-fi tends to be right-wing?

A: The notion that we promoted Marxism is wonderful, but it’s not true. One of the writers had a father who was a Marxist (Ben Aaronovitch), but that’s about as close as we got. And all the writers were chosen because, not only were they good writers, but they could do ‘Doctor Who’, which was a very strange show. If my criteria to get writers for ‘Doctor Who’ had been to get good writers who could do ‘Doctor Who’ who were at any particular point on the political spectrum, it would have been much too much like hard work.

Q: Michael Grade, at time, said that ‘Doctor Who’ had no redeeming features.

A: ‘Doctor Who’ at the time had gone into a real trough, and it’s true that there were some very, very bad episodes, so I can understand that. But I do feel that we were pulling out of it, so it’s a great shame that we never got a chance to continue.

Shaun Sutton (1992)

September 8, 2009

Shaun Sutton was the man in charge of BBC serials when William Hartnell was forced to relinquish his role as the Doctor. The show’s popularity was so great that the decision was taken to re-cast the leading role, and in this interview from the early 1990’s Sutton describes the process, including Sydney Newman’s involvement during a dress rehearsal in a basement at Television Centre:

“The producer and I were absolutely determined to have Patrick Troughton, because we knew Patrick Troughton and I had actually been a drama student with Patrick Troughton many years ago, before the war. And even back then, Patrick had those deep lines on his face, he had the look of a thousand-year-old leprechaun, and I remember saying to him once, before the war, ‘Pat, you have the secret of eternal age’, and I thought that was a very good quality for ‘Doctor Who’.

“Anyway, we both knew he was a good actor, I’d done many television plays with him, and I wanted him, I thought he had a magical quality about him, a wizard quality, and so did Innes Lloyd. Any good actor, like Patrick Troughton, can go and get work anywhere. And the fear with a part like ‘Doctor Who’ is that you’ll not only get typed as that part, you simply won’t get work anywhere because people will say ‘Oh, no, everyone will think of him as Dr. Who’, so we did had to persuade him, and I had to persuade him on more than one occasion to come back for another year.

“Of course, we had to sell him to Sydney Newman, so we prepared a sort of parade, as it were, and we were down in the dressing room in the basement of Television Centre. And he was dressed in his first costume, which for some reason was the captain of an American Mississippi showboat. I don’t know why that was his costume. And we called Sydney down, Sydney took one look and said ‘Shaun, let’s take a walk’, and I said to Innes ‘Out of the costume’.

“And Sydney and I walked around the entire basement of Television Centre, and believe you me that is a long way when you’re getting your fortune told by Sydney Newman. By the time we got back, Innes had Patrick in the costume he would eventually wear for ‘Doctor Who’, that funny little suit and odd tie and the hat and the penny whistle. And I think it was here that Sydney actually proved himself to be a great boss, because he looked and he said ‘I still don’t see it, but if you and Innes say it’s okay, okay, go ahead’ and he stamped out and on the way he said ‘You’d better be good’, and of course he was, Patrick Troughton was one of the best Dr. Who’s, and I thought he was a marvellous choice.

“He was, in a way, a little magician, a leprechaun. There was an impish quality that wasn’t there in Bill Hartnell. Bill Hartnell, in the very first ones, had much more of that impish quality than he had in the latter ones, he became much more of a Sergeant Major, which I didn’t think was very suitable, but Pat had it all the way through, and of course he got on marvellously well with the people who worked with him. He was first rate, he was a friend for many years, I liked his eccentricity. So I was extremely sorry when he left ‘Doctor Who’ and when he died, he was a friend I missed”.