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Published on April 21st, 2011 | by Christian Cawley

Live Anniversary Episode Planned?

We really don’t know how this one managed to sneak under the radar, but at a recent Coronation Street fan event former Doctor Who producer Phil Collinson revealed that a live episode was in the planning stages as recently as 2008!

Introduced to television as a means of bridging the gap between TV and live theatre and a great way of getting the best out of actors in a single take for special anniversary events, live episodes have been featured in soap operas such as EastEnders and Collinson’s current show, Coronation Street. Popular Doctor Who director Graeme Harper was in the chair for the recent Coronation Street 50th anniversary live episode, which again brings us back to this interesting snippet of information.

We’ve already heard from Steven Moffat in recent interviews that something is planned for the series 50th anniversary – could a live episode be an element of this?

If so, in which direction do you think they will take it – a small, focussed and chilling Midnight-esque episode or some sort of two-hander between the Doctor and one of this companions or enemies?

Or would something big, bold and spectacular, recorded in the traditional manner, be more to your 50th anniversary tastes?

(With thanks to Gareth)


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

7 Responses to Live Anniversary Episode Planned?

  1. avatar castellanspandrell says:

    Something big, bold and spectacular, please, done in the traditional manner.

    What is the point of live episodes? All they do is enforce the idea of how clever the production crew and the actors are.

    The ‘liveness’ doesn’t make any difference to the storytelling, except that it could mean, as implied in the article, that a smaller scale story would be necessary in Who if they did a live episode.

    I haven’t seen the live Quatermass from a few years ago, so I don’t know how much FX were required in it alongside the live performances, but I think it’d be too ambitious to do it in Who.

    I just want a good, big, epic story, thanks.

  2. avatar Andrew says:

    Quite agree, castellanspandrell. Doctor Who doesn’t need to stoop to such gimmicks. A live touring theatre production, similar to the Doctor Who Live would be interesting. However for a special, Something big, bold and spectacular is what Doctor Who is best at.

  3. I’m thinking big and bold and NOT live…

    McGann, Eccleston, Tennant and Smith in a multi-Doctor story about the Time War. Not sure if Eccleston would agree to it, but a cameo to show McGann regenerating would push loads of fan buttons!

    It’s a Time War so could have lots of digitally tarted up old footage to link the whole history of DW to the thing – right from Hartnell’s first encounter with the Daleks to McCoy’s last meeting with them. Opportunities for lots of timey-wimey stuff there, inserting Smith into old footage in the background, etc.

  4. avatar 23skidoo says:

    I might be in the minority, but I would actually prefer a modest “two-hander” as suggested above to something huge and flashy. For one thing, a big, extravagant storyline is guaranteed to be disappointing to a lot of people because you get your hopes up for something like that to the extent it’s impossible for it to meet expectations. And having multi Doctors appear would simply be too difficult logistically and would upset fans of Doctors who did not appear. I mean, why not Sylvester McCoy then – he’ll have recently wrapped up The Hobbit. Why not Davison? Why not Tom Baker?

    A live production, perhaps done in the style of 1963 – heck, it doesn’t even have to be part of the canon, really – could work really well. A remake of An Unearthly Child in a “what if” scenario involving Matt Smith instead of William Hartnell?

    The only certainty is whatever they do will most likely tie in with Children in Need, because that’s what they did with The Five Doctors.

    Those wanting true multi-Doctor anniversary action will probably have to be content with the inevitable original novel or novels from BBC Books (the publication of Shada and the reissue of the Targets indicates to me they’re warming up to do older Doctors again), and now that Big Finish has Tom Baker, I’d be amazed if Mssrs. Briggs & Co. weren’t plotting a “Five Doctors” scenario of their own.

  5. Why do they have to do just one special? It’s the FIFTIETH anniversary; they should do *all* the ideas you guys mentioned, and a movie, and a telethon (to raise money for it all since the BBC’s budget probably won’t be able to pay for everything), and opening and closing ceremonies, etc!

  6. avatar farsighted99 says:

    If they want to do a gimmicky episode, why not a musical one?

    Live would be okay, but so what?

    And all that pressure on Matt, since he has all the lines.

  7. avatar Steve says:

    Doctor Who has already done a live episode with William Hartnell. The actor got told off for raising a wine glass at the end wishing everyone a Merry Christmas….

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