Doctor Who: BFI & Radio Times Television Festival

As part of the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival, I went to the Doctor Who panel a couple of weekends back.

With Executive Producer for the show, Brian Minchin and what was advertised as cast members (but with no confirmed names). This is quite usual, as when I went to the Yonderland S3 launch at the BFI we were due to have a few members of the cast but ended up with a full-house. 

Doctor Who is going through a regeneration this year, in every sense; there's two new companions onboard (Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas) and in the near future a new writer taking over (Chris Chibnall of Broadchurch fame) and a new Doctor soon to be at the TARDIS helm (place your bets; Kris Marshall is current favourite at the time of writing), so I expected this event to be more than just a chat about the new series and some previews of the epsiodes to come (due to air a week after this panel happened). 

Doctor Who panels can always be a bit cloak-and-dagger, though. They tend to never give much away (I was at the panel at DWF in which Sarah Dollard spoke in great depth about her trap streets episode without giving away which character she had to kill off in the episode, and she was so tactful) but give enough away to let you know something is going on. Anything can happen, basically. You take a gamble when you book these tickets as to what you're going to get.

But that's all part of the fun, innit?

On the day, Brian was joined by Stephen Moffat, Pearl Mackie and, Mister crushed-velvet-jacket himself, Peter Capaldi.

We were treated to an IMAX viewing of the latest trailer and some scenes from the first episode of series 10, all designed to give us a good introduction to Bill and the relationship she develops with The Doctor.

It was clear from the discussion that series 10 is another fresh start. A new companion always seems to trigger that, Moffatt said it was the closest in feeling to 'Rose' of all the new companion episodes to date. I'm excited about that. I love a new companion episode as much as I love a new Doctor one, and I'm already pretty fond of Bill, so I can't wait to see her how character plays out this series.

Obviously, we're also saying goodbye to Peter this series (on the Sunday I attended this panel he'd just finished filming the series on Friday) and he did seem a little subdued. I assume it was mostly due to sitting in a dark room talking about Doctor Who for the millionth time, but I guess you can read into it as much as you wish. One thing he did do (which I've noticed in previous panels as well) is that he comes alive the Q&A sessions with the audience. That man loves his job and the relationship the fandom has with the show, and as soon as someone asked a question about Old Who he was off talking about Patrick Troughton. Bless him, he's still just as big a fan as he always was.

And yes, someone asked about the new Doctor and Peter played the pronoun game very well; 'they'll have the best job in the world' and so on. Moffat spoke honestly about spoilers being revealed (how they were very cloak-and-dagger about things last series, despite him being great at leaving production notes on the First Great Western line) and that this series they've decided just to let things roll (I immediately let this mean that if the new Doctor announcement gets leaked, it's probably accurate, like when bets stopped being taken on Capaldi back in 2013).

So, we didn't get all the gossip we really wanted, but we got to meet Pearl, and that was fantastic. Personally, I love a new companion episode as it's like having a refresh button on the show - anyone can jump in at that episode and learn who the Doctor is and enjoy the series from start to finish without getting too hung up of canon (albeit the first episode of series 10 turned out to be littered with in-jokes, but they weren't too obvious).

Let's see how the series progresses, but for this one, I am hopeful. At least we know we're in for a dramatic ending!

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