Dr Who, 3rd series Premiere

150 150 Rob McGibbon

I will quickly go back in time and give you a squint at last night’s Premiere of Dr Who, the 3rd series. The word “premiere” seems a bit grand for a TV sci-fi show, but I guess we’re in National Treasure territory.

Certainly, there was quite a media scrum when I arrived at the Mayfair Hotel. Late, I turned up just as David Tennant and new girl Freema Agyeman arrived. We walked in together, past the pack of paps and adoring Who fans. I expect they have a proper group name. One – with teeth from the middle ages and hair specially doused in Castrol GTX for the occasion – asked for my autograph. Such is fame. He must have thought I was an alien from the new show. Did he think I was in, or out of costume? I would like to think he was in.

There were a few faces there who appear in various guises of the new series. Dawn French, Michelle Collins, Catherine Tate, Roy Marsden. You know, the domestic loved ones from the BBC archives. The booze was red/white plonk from Oz, beer, and the spread of food was, um, pistachio nuts. Yes, on their own. I expect the Beeb believes these nuts will be all humans will need to survive in the future.

Jonathan Ross – there with all his family – sat behind me for the screening of the first two episodes and …

more follows later. I need to pop out to the 1860s…

(Well, I can tell you – the 1860s aren’t all they were cracked up to be. Where was I…)

… I do admire the man’s enthusiasm. He clapped and cheered and wriggled in his seat like an over-excited 10 year old, getting up for the loo twice, loudly scoffing two tubs of popcorn etc. The Ross family en masse are quite crew. Full of fun and affection, they seem to throw themselves into a party. Mum Jane even smuggled the newest edition to clan into the screening under her coat – a tiny puppy called Sweeney. I’m not good on dogs, me, but it was one of those little bug-eyed ones with bandy legs. I think the old dear in EastEnders had one sometime last century.

Anyway, back to the Tardis. I was a Dr Who fan in my younger years. Jon Pertwee, the Brigadier and the Master was my time. I remember liking the dinosaurs and London scenes, but I was never a really Who-spod. (What are they bloody called?) I interviewed Jon once, over a Thai lunch in Soho in around 199-not-so-sure. Hilarious. I also interviewed his son Sean a couple of times back in The Chancer years in 199-oh-I-don’t know. A good bloke.

Anyway, back to the new series. I haven’t seen a single shot of the recent revival. Can’t see the point, really, not on my sonic radar, so I came into this way off-the-pace. It’s very good, a real inter-galactic romp with wit and action, as well as – naturally – a plot that never changes. I liked Tennant, although I suspect his arching eyebrow and beady eyeball will become quite tiring by Ep13.

The special effects are very good, but I can’t help thinking that this new Dr Who is almost too good. I’m sure that is a well-aired, weary complaint from my generation, all dewy eyed for wobbly sets and badly painted table tennis balls. But, actually, I don’t yearn for any of that tat, it’s just that all this blue-screen digital enhancement smothers natural imagination. Terry Gilham made such a point, far better than me, at a fantastic lecture at the Artworkers Guild recently.

But there I go, drifting back to the past again. Time for the present.