Published on May 20th, 2012 | by Christian Cawley
Cult Britannia, Being Scared & Peter Purves!
There is a lot to talk about this week, with a couple of news updates at the end and a great interview with a classic companion to come.
Before we press on, however, a question: do you like to write? Do you have aspirations to be a writer? And, just as importantly, do you like culty British things, like Sherlock, Being Human, Blake’s 7 or the worlds of Terry Pratchett and JRR Tolkien?
If so, Cult Britannia – Kasterborous’ sister site found at www.cultbritannia.co.uk – wants to hear from you! Thanks to some recent improvements in the site design and its slowly growing presence, this is a gig that will eventually reap benefits – including payment! We’re using a revenue share model at Cult Britannia, so authors get paid based on how often their articles are read.
Often revenue share models work as a split between the author and the site owner, but in order to ensure our writers make the maximum amount, we’re arranging things so that our writers make 100% of the earnings from the ads displayed in their articles.
There is so much that we want to feature on Cult Britannia, but are limited somewhat by time and our small team. Expanding the team is very important to us as we reckon the site could be potentially bigger than Kasterborous. The ethos is the same, and we welcome all interested writers.
To apply, drop me a line to email@example.com!
So what was popular on Kasterborous in the last week? And what else have we got in store? Let’s take a look…
- Top news stories
- Doctor Who Cares?
- Newly-Discovered Episodes on iTunes?
- Eternity Clock Scam
- Being Scared
- A Haunted Christmas?
- From the Vortex: Purves: “I Would Have Made a Great Doctor!”
- Competition Update
- Time Leech Update
Doctor Who Cares?
A recent Twitter conversation with a fan and Steven Moffat outed one of the characters in Doctor Who as bisexual.
This was brought on by a question relating to how the Doctor would respond to gay marriage, to which Moffat very accurately pointed out:
First things first, the Doctor simply does not care one iota about which way a person swings. The people that he travels with or the friends that he has made in his 900 years (and then some) of travels are based on their morals and their ethical viewpoints, not on who they sleep with at night.
Whoever asked the question clearly hasn’t been watching Doctor Who at all. The Doctor has come up against all sorts of characters in his meanderings and not one of them has had to explain their sexual preference to him, simply because he doesn’t care.
When he met Captain Jack Harkness, the Ninth Doctor knew from an early point that the good Captain didn’t only like attractive blonde shop assistants. Did it bother him? No. He explained the situation to Rose and moved on. The Eighth Doctor had some idea of Izzy’s sexual orientation but let their friendship blossom rather than ask questions that weren’t his business, didn’t concern him (see various Eighth Doctor comic strips from 1996 to 2005 in Doctor Who Magazine) or about which he knew really wasn’t of any earth-shattering importance.
The point is that sexuality isn’t an interesting point in Doctor Who; it’s not something that we care about. Actions speak louder than words and if you’re saving the Universe it shouldn’t matter whose bottom you stare at on a Friday night.
The answer to “who is bisexual in Doctor Who?” is, of course…
When Moffat continued the conversation it was with another fan…
…but to be fair, who really cares?
Newly-Discovered Episodes on iTunes?
Could the recently-found 1960s episodes, Air Lock (part three of Galaxy 4) and episode two of The Underwater Menace, be available to watch online before their release on DVD?
The two episodes were discovered last year, with clips shown at the Missing Believed Wiped annual event. But early hopes that they’d see their way onto DVD this year were dashed when it was announced that, due to restoration work and a packed release schedule, audiences wouldn’t be able to see them until sometime in 2013 – at the earliest.
Air Lock and The Underwater Menace: Part Two got a special screening by BAFTA Cymru & BBC Wales, presented by Anneke Wills (Polly), Frazer Hines (Jamie) Peter Purves (Steven), Steven Moffat (current showrunner), Caroline Skinner (current producer) and Doctor Who brand manager, Edward Russell. And according to attendee, Emrys Matthews on his Wonderings in the Fourth Dimension blog, Russell hinted at the episodes being accessible to anyone with an Apple device or software:
“For those of you, who couldn’t make it, couldn’t get tickets or like me couldn’t wait to see the episodes, you may not have to wait until 2013. Edward Russell alluded to a possible iTunes release of both Air Lock and Episode 2 of The Underwater Menace in the coming months. Nothing has been officially confirmed, but this certainly sounds hopeful.”
Even if this isn’t the case, Matthews has given us a glimpse at the episodes, which haven’t been seen by the masses since their initial transmissions in 1965 and 1967. Talking of Air Lock, he writes:
“There’s a beautiful flash back sequence where we see Margaa, commander of the evil/sexy Drahvins, killing one of her own injured soldiers all from the point-of-view of one of the kind/hideous Rills. Stephanie Bidmead who played Margaa has a very impressive 2-minute monologue which is delivered directly to camera. It’s is just so impressive, especially when you consider it was all done in one take.”
And there’s also a bit of an update on how The Underwater Menace: Part Two is being restored:
“The picture in this episode was excellent as it had already been vid-fired and had its censored clips reedited back in.”
It’s such an exciting time to be a fan of Doctor Who, and Matthews encapsulates the wonder of this discovery as he recalls the end of Air Lock, with Steven trapped in an oxygen-starved room:
“The little girl sitting behind me was so scared as she asked her mum, “Is the Doctor’s companion going to be okay?” Even though she was watching a 47 year old episode, totally out-of-context from its story, she invested in it, got scared and was genuinely worried for Steven’s safety; even though she didn’t even know his name. It was thrilling to see one so young totally loving and buying into this vintage episode.”
Eternity Clock Scam
Doctor Who fans, PC owners and anyone with an interest in Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock should beware – scammers are once again targeting your love of the show.
Currently doing the rounds on YouTube (we won’t link, of course, but check the accompanying images) are a selection of videos that purport to instruct users on how to download a “beta key” or “code generator” to run the PC version of the forthcoming game in order to play the game today.
Of course, this is rubbish. The link instead is for a piece of malware, malicious software that will cause various types of harm to your computer, typically with a Trojan tracker that will allow a remote user to gain access to your computer. Along the way, any unsuspecting gamer would find themselves forced to signup with Facebook, sign up to “giveaways” and generally share all important information with the scammers. It’s a double-headed attack, one which you should steer well clear of.
Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock isn’t out on PC until June at the earliest, and there is no way of getting hold of it via YouTube. Please let anyone you know who might be interested in this to avoid the links, make them aware of the scam, and most importantly to avoid signing up to and downloading from any sites claiming to be able to provide access to the game before it is released!
(We have informed BBC Worldwide of this threat.)
My daughter is deathly afraid of the house two doors down. Not the people in it, no, the house itself. Why? Because flanking the front door are what she thinks are two Weeping Angels.
Since Doctor Who returned in 2005, I’ve been watching Doctor Who with my daughter, who’s now 10. We watched Blink together, when she was 5, – I’d not seen it to vet it, we just watched it raw, so to speak, – and I hadn’t realized the potential impact it could have.
After the episode was over, I glanced at her and her eyes were round and she was clutching her blanket. She was terrified. I mean, to rigidity. She had to sleep with us for a week before she could sleep on her own, and even now the mere mention of Weeping Angels can send her off. Now, it’s not really Doctor Who’s fault – it’s meant to be a bit scary – it’s my fault for not vetting the show first.
But it did drag up a memory of my own.
When I was about 8, I remember seeing The Ark In Space. For those that remember, at the end of the second episode, there’s a cliff hanger where Noah, the stations commander, has been infected by the Wirrn (and if you don’t remember or have never seen this classic episode, please stop reading, locate this adventure and watch It, NOW. Liz Sladen once told me this was one of her favorite stories, so you’ve got her recommendation too as well!). His left hand was touched with Wirrn mucus and it began transforming him. Up till the end of the episode, Noah had kept his left hand firmly in his pocket. However, at the end of the episode, the music comes up and Noah removes his now green mutated hand and stares at it in horror.
I remember being terrified of this. Just out of my mind scared. I spent the next week avoiding ANYONE with their hands in their pockets, for fear of what might come out. It’s a very specific memory I have.
I’ve asked around with some of my friends, asking them what their earliest memories of being scared of Doctor Who – here are some of the ones I was given.
Rhianna Pratchett, award winning videogame writer, mentions being scared of “Some strange spider women who were going to eat Bonnie Langford.” – which, as we’ve established in prior columns, had it come to pass, this author believes would have been to the net positive of the Doctor Who experience**.
My good friend Les Ellis, a videogame producer currently living in The North, mentions being terrified when “the landing light was turned off when the parents went to bed” after an evening’s Doctor Who Watching. Presumably he was afraid because the star ships would have nothing to guide them in to land?……I’ll get me coat.
While we are at it, let’s find out what Sophia Myles (yes, that one) has to say about being afraid of Doctor Who as a kid. Asked on Twitter what she was afraid of on Doctor Who as a child, she replied “Sylvester McCoy” – one suspects she isn’t taking the question as seriously as it deserves, but she’s cute so we’ll overlook it this time.
We all love to be a bit scared, no? That “safe scared” feeling, where we scare ourselves, but in a safe way so deep down, subconsciously, we know we aren’t going to encounter Freddy or a weeping Angel, because our subconscious knows they aren’t real, even if our conscious mind doesn’t address that.
From the research, it’s believed that this kind of self-scaring, or placing ourselves in a situation where scary visuals and situation are presented to us, is our minds way of having the ‘fight or flight’ stimulation – increased adrenaline, increased perception and all that being truly terrified carries with it – without the actual physical danger that often goes with it. Apparently, we are hard-wired to have those responses to dangerous situations in order to promote survival, which is why some people tend to be thrill junkies.
In the case of children, where there is less conscious perception of this phenomenon, it’s been suggested that, for them, it’s a more bonding experience. Being scared means leaning on Mom & Dad more, needing more of their time and attention and in the process, becoming closer in terms of that attention budget.
Whatever it is, it appears to be a niche that Doctor Who settles into nicely. Scary, but in an outlandish sort of way – not the kind of scary that relates directly to the real world, since we all now there are no such things as Weeping Angels,- but the “safe” kind of scary.
And frankly, we love it. Well, I do anyway, and since I’m representing myself as you, you do too!
The return to some of the gothic style horrer-esque stories of the Hinchcliffe era is welcome, be it to a greater or lesser degree (Blink goes right to it and doesn’t let up, whereas stories like The God Complex have it as an element rather than total focus.). One thing that is interesting though, is that a fair number of stories that feature a horror element tend to get swamped by it – often the story ends up serving the horror element, rather than the horror element serving the story. Horror of Fang Rock, The Web of Fear, The Green Death, The Masque of Mandragora, Image of the Fendahl, Kinda, Ghost Light, Night Terrors, even The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit are all stories that, in this authors opinion, tend to get a little overwhelmed by the horror aspects as opposed to the telling of a story, which is the root of what an episode is supposed to do.
However, on the other side of that coin, when the horror elements are combined with strong storytelling, you get the very best of what Doctor Who has to offer – witness Blink, Human Nature / Family of Blood, 42, the Waters of Mars, Ark in Space, Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead, Midnight, The Unquiet Dead, The Caves of Androzani, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Brain of Morbius etc etc etc.
One of the coolest things about Doctor Who is its ability to make many things horrific and scary. Physical manifestations of the extreme and unlikely (the monsters like Daleks, Morbius, The Silence and so on), concepts and idea’s (Losing yourself and becoming an emotionless monster, ala The Cybermen, the idea of allowing dead bodies to be hosts to gaseous life forms in The Unquiet Dead, or losing 30 years of your life waiting for someone to rescue you, in The Girl Who Waited.) or the mundane (The child in The Empty Child, The Weeping Angels in Blink, Maggots in The Green Death, the plastic daffodils in The Terror of the Autons) – Doctor Who has done it all and what’s more, for the most part, done it well. Something to be proud of, in a behind-the-sofa kind of way.
Oh, and that Ark In Space episode I mentioned at the start of this article? I re-watched it recently, when the reconditioned DVD was released. Nostalgia at its finest! Right up to the point where Noah pulls his hand out of his pocket and my heart leapt into my mouth, and it revealed…. A hand wrapped in green bubble wrap. No, seriously, it is. If I’d have known what bubble wrap was in those days, it would have saved me a LOT of sleepless nights, let me tell you. You can have HOURS of fun wrapping it round a hand and popping it.
Boy do I feel an idiot now.
**What? She was miscast! Sure, it’s easy to kick the singer, but… well, yes, it IS easy, and I’m lazy, so there you go.
A Haunted Christmas?
There’s no finer tradition than the Christmas ghost story and joining the likes of A Christmas Carol and the BBC’s aptly named A Ghost Story at Christmas anthology, will be the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas Special.
As revealed in Doctor Who Adventures’ “Rumour Alert!” section Jenna Louise-Coleman will be making her debut in what will undoubtedly be both a shamelessly festive and, hopefully, spooktacular episode.
Those with long memories might recall Jenna’s audition where she and Matt Smith performed a few small scenes where ‘Jasmine’ and the Doctor investigated a haunted house – scenes which were reprinted in Moffat’s production notes in DWM. Well, you may also recall that Moffat was so impressed with his work on these small scenes that he planned to sneak them into a future episode.
So perhaps we’ve already read part of what will go on in the 2012 Christmas Special?
While, perhaps not that much of a shock, Alex Kingston has also been spotted filming scenes for a subsequent appearance in Series 7 – hinting that it’ll very much be a family affair when the Ponds depart the TARDIS for the last time.
And, perhaps even less shocking, is the return of Sherlock co-creator, friend of Moffat and potential, future Doctor Who show runner Mark Gatiss, who’ll be joining other returnees Chris Chibnall and Toby Whithouse, who’ll be writing an upcoming episode.
Excited about a haunted Christmas tale? Looking forward to the return of River Song? Hoping that Gatiss’ presence will result in another episode like The Unquiet Dead?
Christian Cawley chats to Peter Purves, first published in October 2005.
Peter Purves is known to Doctor Who fans the world over as Steven Taylor, companion to the First Doctor Who for 44 episodes. He is most famously known as a member of the Blue Peter team from the late 1960s to the late 1970s, appearing in 860 editions during the period recognised as the show’s “Golden Age”. He also known to a generation of British males of a certain age as the host of the super trials bike show Kick Start. Peter kindly took some time out to speak to us…
Peter, when did you first enter acting and how did that come about?
I have always wanted to be an actor since I was very small, growing up in Blackpool which was the Mecca of entertainment in the UK from the end of the nineteenth Century up until the end of the 60′s. I first played leading parts in school plays from the age of nine, and really got the bug. I was never going to be anything but an actor (or at least a performer) and got my first professional part at the age of 18 in 1957 after auditioning during the school holidays at my local repertory theatre in Barrow-in-Furness. Three years later I rejoined that theatre on a full-time basis as an actor, and have never had a proper job since.
The role of Steven was in a sense a replacement for William Russell’s character Ian Chesterton. Was there any sense or feeling that you were stepping into big shoes?
I guess so, but I was too much concerned with getting my work right that I never really considered the difficulty of replacing such popular characters as Russ and Jacquie. I had met Russ before, playing cricket, and Jaqueline Hill was the wife of director Alvin Rakoff who had cast and directed me in the TV Armchair Theatre play (Girl in the Picture), which was seen by director Richard Martin – to whom I am forever indebted – and which was directly responsible for me getting the role of Steven.
What level of press attention did you get while appearing in Doctor Who?
Minimal – in fact the press was non-intrusive in those days, and I don’t recall any press interest in me until I joined Blue Peter in 1967.
We often hear that William Hartnell was difficult to work with, but how did this side of him reflect the man himself?
Like most actors, I think Bill was pretty insecure, and also suffered from the fact that many of his contemporaries had better fortune than he – I think he had quite a lot of bitterness about that. He was also beginning to be ill, and that affected his memory, so as he got more and more lines wrong, he got more and more crotchety. He didn’t suffer fools gladly, but I must say he was always very friendly to me, and tried to act as a kind of mentor. Many times he bought me lunch at the famed Bertorelli’s restaurant on Shepherd’s Bush Green (sadly no longer there), where he taught me to appreciate “Blue” fillet steak amongst other things. I really enjoyed working with him, but could see why others found him less pleasant.
If I may present this scenario: you’re enjoying breakfast, the letterbox pops open, a script lands on the floor. It’s “The Celestial Toymaker” – did you ever at any point reading the script stop yourself and think “What the – ?!”?
I thought it was a great script and that it looked really good fun, as it was. The casting was excellent, Michael Gough was wonderful, and Carmen, Campbell and Peter were delightful Add Jackie Lane to that and with Bill on holiday, we had a wonderful time.
I had forgotten most of the missing stories until Mark Ayres approached me to read the linking commentaries on the latest audio CD’s, so I came to them quite fresh. I thought the scripts were great – and have always said that apart from the wonderful creation that was Bill’s Doctor, the stories were script rather than character led. On revisiting the Massacre, I was overwhelmed by the quality of the writing. This was top class TV drama. And the Myth Makers was another favourite of mine. The two you name were the poorest of the scripts, I felt, but it was a pleasure to remake them for an audience that can no longer see them. I think they make excellent radio plays.
You recorded Doctor Who “as live”. What level of pressure were you under to learn lines, record scenes in single takes, etc?
There was probably less pressure on me than on many of the other actors who played in the show. I had spent two years in weekly rep (a new play every week) and could learn lines very quickly. Something that stood me in good stead when I moved on to Blue Peter where we had no autocue, had to learn a complete script twice a week, usually only receiving it late on the evening prior to transmission. And don’t forget, that was always broadcast “live”.
Can you recall at the time, your feelings about the show and what you could contribute to it? Could you envisage the show carrying on, bearing in mind William Hartnell’s age as the leading role in the show?
I had all the arrogance that a 25 year old actor would have, and thought I was probably god’s gift to TV. The truth is that I looked on it as a job with great prospects, and set about doing the best I could in the role. But I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the huge continuing popularity of the show. I am still astonished when I attend the very few conventions that I do, how many people attend, over and over. They even know the lines of the show. I could not believe it the first time someone asked the question beginning “In The Time Meddler, what did you mean when you said…” And to be honest I had no recollection of what they were talking about.
Have you worked as an actor since leaving Doctor Who?
I played a crook, a couple of times in Z-Cars, and was in a serial called The Girl in the Black Bikini, (like so many Doctor Who’s, wiped by the BBC). I also appeared in Douglas Camfield’s Director’s Colour course, where I played Ross (in Terence Rattigan’s Play of the same name). But that is all.
It seems quite common for actors to move into television presenting nowadays. You must have been one of the first – what is it that makes presenting interesting for an actor?
I’d rather say what makes it hard, rather then interesting. The big problem an actor has is that he is trained, is indoctrinated, and has learned to immerse himself in the character he is playing. It is make-believe, pretence if you like. A presenter must be as natural and as much himself/herself as possible, otherwise the performance comes across as false. He must learn NOT to act. I found this very difficult at first. But after about six months I began to feel comfortable as myself, with no character to hide behind!
As a presenter on Blue Peter, you famously interviewed Jon Pertwee with his Whomobile. The two of you appear totally engrossed in the machine, but by modern standards it looks quite clumsy – would you have driven one on the road given the chance?
Do you know, I can remember the event taking place, but have no recollection of any detail of it at all. But I guess the old vehicle was pretty sound. Jon, whom I knew socially as well as professionally, was a good mechanic, and I doubt if he would have driven it if it had been unsafe.
And did you ever complete a course on Kickstart, and if so how did you rate compared to the competitors?
I just loved Kickstart, but I was no expert on a trials bike. I had completed the Royal Signals Course at Catterick whilst on Blue Peter (that’s why I was asked to present Kickstart) and I still have the diploma and the honorary White Helmet I was awarded. Funnily enough the helmet wouldn’t pass modern safety standards. I must say I fell of quite a lot when doing that course, but not as much as I would have fallen doing the Kickstart courses. I have ridded (and fallen off) most of the Junior Kickstart obstacles, but the senior stuff was truly awesome, and got harder each year. It was a great shame that the promoter dropped the Senior event (he couldn’t make it pay) because that was the best competition ever. But interestingly, many of the Juniors went on to great success at Senior level. Steven Colley, who won Junior Kickstart twice, has been runner up in the world Championships several times, whilst Dougie Lampkin, who never actually won our event, was World Champion six years in succession. You may have seen him in the Arena trials on Satellite TV.
So, what did you think of the new Doctor Who?
I only saw one and a half episodes, but it looked fine. I think that the historical stories were the best, and I always liked the idea that the Tardis was broken and the Doctor never had any idea where he was going to end up. But I guess things have to move on. Try analyzing Eastenders to see if there are any incongruities there. Say no more!
How do you place Christopher Eccleston’s portrayal with regards to past Doctors, in particular William Hartnell’s?
For me there is only one Doctor, the man who created the part.
As a companion yourself, how important do you think the role is?
The companions were important to allow the stories to have a number of strands – there were always two of us, boy and girl, and that gave such a lot of options
Do you think David Tennant can be more successful as the Doctor than Christopher Eccleston has been?
I guess so, and I wish him luck. But I really wish they had asked me. I reckon I would have made a great Doctor.
You have worked (it seems) constantly for over 40 years in broadcasting in one form or another. You’ve edited magazines and bred dogs, you’ve been splashed with mud and peed on by elephants, played golf and made corporate videos and speak after dinner. Yet you’re happy to remain be associated with a show that you appeared in 40 years ago even to the extent of recording the excellent narration on CDs of missing stories such as The Daleks’ Masterplan. For you, what has Doctor Who got that most shows haven’t?
I touched on this earlier – the scripts were the thing at the commencement of the series, and for the first five years or so. After that I thought it got bogged down with silly repetition (I could never be bothered with UNIT). The endless changing of the Doctor I didn’t like, and I am still surprised to discover that Tom Baker was the longest serving Doctor. Believe it or not, I thought that Sylvester was the nearest anyone got to Bill – I could imagine his character growing into Bill as he got older (apart from the accent of course). Actually, I suppose there was a greater similarity to Bill with Patrick Troughton, but he had the unenviable task of being Bill’s immediate replacement. If Pat hadn’t been such a good actor, I think the series could have died there and then.
Peter Purves, thanks very much!
For more information on Peter’s long career and his current work, visit www.peterpurves.net
Thanks to all who forwarded their prize-winning addresses last week – it’s so much easier to do these things in bulk and I’ll be shipping over your gear over the next few days.
In the meantime, we’ve no competition once again, I’m afraid, but we’re working on bringing you some great new prizes in the very near future.
I’ve been working hard over the past two weeks trying to find a new printer to work with on the Time Leech charity book project, following problems with the first. As we were unable to resolve the issue, the only choice was to abandon the project and fundraising or opt for a far more expensive print run.
Processing the refunds would have been a chore, but nothing I couldn’t handle. However I’m not one to accept failure, and while even swapping print copies for digital copies and refunding the difference would have raised the same amount as we’ll make with this new deal, I’m confident we can still raise a generous amount.
As things stand we’re looking at around £200 raised upon selling around 50 copies, so everything from here on in will be profit. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that this is around the same amount raised as a month ago – sadly an effect of moving to a different printer is the increased price. However we’re likely to be running with only 100-150 copies, making this a highly sought after release.
So, new printer means print run delay. I’m currently awaiting approval on the PDF and a date for the proof copy. Keep an eye out on Kasterborous and Twitter for an excited post when this arrives. If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, note that once the proof is approved, the pricing structure for the remaining copies will change…
In the meantime, please be confident that we’re working as hard as is possible to get this project completed and shipped so that we can move on to our next (hugely exciting) print project…