Friday, 28 November 2008

Doctor Who Christmas Radio Times Cover

Radio Times have released the cover for the listings 6-12 December which includes a fold-out Doctor Who cover. The Cover shows both Doctor's, Miss Hartigan and the Cybermen, the magazine also includes a special preview of The Next Doctor and interviews from soon-to-be ex show-runner Russell T Davies, David Tennant, David Morrissey and director Andy Goddard. An extract from the magazine can be seen below,
So this is Christmas. We’re at Cyber HQ in London 1851 – in reality a set at Cardiff’s Upper Boat studios in April 2008. This is Torchwood’s Hub cunningly redressed for this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special as a sort of huge Cyber-Victorian engine – all cogs, chains, furnaces, pipes and steam. Think steampunk. Or a huge version of the board game Mouse Trap.

Street urchins are shovelling coal into buckets, pouring oil into funnels and trudging up and down rickety wooden stairs. “No smiling, please,” says director Andy Goddard. “You’re not supposed to be enjoying this. It’s hard and tiring. It’s the worst Christmas you’ve ever had.”

The Doctor has snuck into Cyber HQ. He’s crouching, hidden. “David, could you edge to your left slightly?” asks Goddard. But he’s not talking to Mr Tennant. This is the other David –distinguished thesp David Morrissey. He’s the latest actor to play the Doctor . . . or is he? Those who caught the special preview on Children in Need will have seen the two Doctors meeting in Victorian London.

Now Tennant is perched next to Morrissey, watching the enslaved urchins at work. “We can set them free,” urges Morrissey’s Doctor, brandishing a piece of alien tech like an old hand . . .

“Anyone playing the Doctor has to be capable of anything – action, heartbreak, comedy, wielding a sonic screwdriver – and David Morrissey’s got that in spades,” says Who supremo Russell T Davies. “He’s one of those actors who can turn on a sixpence; light-hearted one minute, tragic the next. Sounds exactly like a Time Lord to me.”

At the time of giving the Christmas special its title, The Next Doctor, Davies knew the news of Tennant’s departure would have become public [Tennant announced in October that he’s leaving after filming four more specials next year]. “Hopefully, that creates a bit more intrigue,” says Davies, “and hints at interesting developments in the show’s future. Let’s just say that regeneration is a complicated process, and never as simple as it seems.”

Even before reading the script, I was attracted to this part,” says Morrissey when RT joins him in his trailer over lunch. “Doctor Who is great. They’ve asked me to do stuff before, but because of other commitments I was unable to. Then this came along: the Christmas special, which has added kudos and an amazing character. Well, the ultimate character, really. But a tragic character, too. Something terrible has happened to him. Over the course of the episode, bits of what happened are revealed . . .

“The Doctors become great friends,” he says. “In this episode the Doctor [Tennant] doesn’t have a companion, which is rare, and my Doctor fills that gap. But all those questions my Doctor wants to ask about himself and his past have to be put aside to save London from destruction.”

Back on set, all eyes are on a woman in a vibrant red dress. “Children! Pay attention! I want to see you work.” It’s Dervla Kirwan – flanked by a Cyberman. “Now,” she purrs, “let the new Industrial Revolution begin!”

“I’ve worked with Dervla before,” says Davies. “She had a cameo as David Tennant’s mother in Casanova [BBC1 2005], but I wanted to write more for her. She devours the part of Miss Hartigan with relish – a perfect villain for all the family to jeer at. And the script gives her an amazing villainous scene at a funeral.” In fact, Davies went as far as contacting Heidi Thomas, the writer of BBC1’s Cranford, to research the etiquette of women at the graveside in Victorian times. “Heidi might choke on her Christmas dinner when she sees what I’ve done!”

Tennant and Morrissey have also worked together before – in the 2004 BBC1 drama Blackpool. “What David’s done with the Doctor is so special,” says Morrissey. “He has moved it on – not just the character, but also how he’s taken on the role publicly. We were filming in Gloucester with 400 people watching. When I got out of the car with David it was like being with a member of Take That! They were shouting, ‘We love you!’ and he was so warm-hearted towards them.”

Morrissey explains his approach to nailing his Doctor: “There has to be an inner truth for me, something at stake, and you have to play that
for real.” So did any former Doctors influence his performance? “When I look at Tom Baker and William Hartnell, there’s a truth to their performances; Patrick Troughton as well. They never saw it as a genre show or a children’s show.

“The difficulty for me is green screen [for special effects] – trying to create a relationship with something that isn’t there. It’s just a man holding a scaffolding pole with a tennis ball on the end. It’s a weird process. At least with the Cybermen, their cold, emotionless faces are right there, so you can react to them. Plenty of kids will sleep with the lights on come Christmas night.”

In Cyber HQ, however, the Cyberleader is in a bit of a pickle. His arm keeps falling off. (Well, part of his arm.) Not so scary now, eh? “He’s a decomposing Cyber Controller,” quips Tennant. “Hang on. No, he’s a Cyberleader, isn’t he? Easy mistake to make.”

“Call yourself the Doctor?” Morrissey tuts in mock disgust.

Would Morrissey consider a return to Doctor Who? “Oh yeah. Definitely. I love it. I’ve had a great time.” As speculation gathers pace about who’ll take over from Tennant, Morrissey is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the bookies’ favourite. “If they asked me back,” he says, with a twinkle in his eye, “I’d jump at it. I think it’s a great character, and I’ve loved every minute.”
Radio Times goes on sale tomorrow at the price of £1.05, but also look out for the christmas issue from the 6th December, which includes more previews and interviews.
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