Posts Tagged ‘Doctor Who’

What if The Doctor had always been black?

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

A delightful counter-historical for the entertainment world, as Peter Judge’s post has been brought back to the wold. What if the BBC had cast a black actor in Doctor Who in 1963, through all the regenerations, and into the new series?

One thing’s clear. The fourth Doctor would still be everyone’s favourite:

4: Derek Griffiths
The most outlandish and best-loved Doctor, Derek Griffiths was the first to be born in Britain, His previous TV work included Play School and Please Sir! but Doctor Who gave him somewhere to express himself. He made the character something of a hippy, with flamboyant clothes, and an anarchic manner. Fans still copy Griffiths’ large sideburns and wide collars, and of course his scarf.

Ninety minutes with Doctor Who’s new show runner Chris Chibnall

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

The announcement of Chris Chibnall as the exec behind Doctor Who after Steven Moffat leaves has left many feeling dazed and confused… mostly because everyone remembers the Torchwood rush-job that was Cyberwoman, and forgets that he also wrote Adrift…. and launched Law and Order UK… and did Broadchurch…

So if you’re at all curious about what he could bring to Doctor Who, may I suggest this in-depth interview with him from Danny Stack’s ‘Scriptwriters in the UK’ podcast. Recorded in May last year it talks about his approach to writing, TV production, and show-running… Listen carefully and you can pull out themes and emotions that Chibnall likes to explore, and I suspect that offers a clue to what ‘his’ Doctor Who will be like.

I’m much more excited for NuWho after listening.

Trivial Posts #20: Cliffhangers, Knitting, And Error Trapping

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

What Have I Been Up To?

Two appearances online from myself to highlight this week. The first is an appearance in the popular culture podcast ‘From The Sublime‘ where I talk about cliffhangers in modern television (with a specific focus on Doctor Who’. The second is a review of Microsoft Office 2016 on Forbes.

Which Is The Better Star Wars Trailer?

The nostalgia and new crew style that debuted this week for ‘The Force Awakens‘… or the genuine wish fulfilment of the PlayStation Christmas?

Metafilter discusses the weaker trailer

Indie Music And Knitting

Finding a post on being self-employed and selling content is easy. Finding one that mixes in the indie music scene from the late nineties is a little bit harder. Finding one I’ll recommend? Over to Karie Westermann:

I learned a hard lesson when I first started out: I handed over the rights to a pattern for a pittance and saw somebody else make a lot of money from it when I could barely cover rent. And that got me thinking. I still work with mainstream publications on occasion (and some of them are incredibly indie-friendly and lovely!) but time & experience has taught me to be wary of Big Besuited Companies offering me deals too good to be true.

Indies pay the price by having to do all the things – including all the tough things mainstream publishing would normally have done for us – but I maintain it is worth it.

So, clutching my gladioli, I began thinking about where indie knitting businesses are heading.

Clutching My Gladioli – On Making It Work as an Indie

Who Is Maggie Goldenberger?

A long time ago, when she was young, Maggie Goldenberger dressed up and took silly polaroids…

Goldenberger remembers the details of the very day that immortal photo was taken.

“I remember having a lot of fun picking out the items,” she said, “and Kaelyn running downstairs to pick out books.” Kaelyn had suggested that Goldenberger should hold the American Girl doll tie-in books, with their saccharine pastel covers of smiling tween girls. Crucially, it was the Goosebumps books, with their instantly recognizable hyper-colored cover images by illustrator Tim Jacobus, that made the cut.

Deciding against the coonskin cap, Goldenberger put on the vest, hoisted her hair up into intentionally dorky pigtails—she never wore them like that otherwise—brandished the chosen books, and pulled an intentionally hideous face for the camera. Normally, she hardly ever wore her retainer like she was supposed to, but it felt right for the character: she put it on for the shoot.

Years later, Reddit found it, and Ermahgerd was born. This is the story of the meme.

The Untold Story Of The Ermahgerd Girl

Everybody Is Perfect, But Programmers Know Differently

Mentioned previously in Trivial Posts is Margaret Hamilton, one of the Apollo computer programmers. For Ada Lovelace Day (once again, thanks Suw) Robert McMillan looks at a legend of computing… and error trapping:

…Hamilton created a program note—an add-on to the program’s documentation that would be available to NASA engineers and the astronauts: “Do not select P01 during flight,” it said. Hamilton wanted to add error-checking code to the Apollo system that would prevent this from messing up the systems. But that seemed excessive to her higher-ups. “Everyone said, ‘That would never happen,’” Hamilton remembers.

But it did. Right around Christmas 1968—five days into the historic Apollo 8 flight, which brought astronauts to the moon for the first-ever manned orbit—the astronaut Jim Lovell inadvertently selected P01 during flight. Hamilton was in the second-floor conference room at the Instrumentation Laboratory when the call came in from Houston. Launching the P01 program had wiped out all the navigation data Lovell had been collecting. That was a problem. Without that data, the Apollo computer wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get the astronauts home.

Hamilton and the MIT coders needed to come up with a fix; and it needed to be perfect.

Her Code Got Humans To The Moon

Messaging As A Platform

Where can you find the future of online activities? Many people believe that the answer is in the IM client, and achieving dominance of the replacement to SMS is a key strategy for many companies, including Facebook. Returning to Wired, David Rowan looks at Facebook’s Messenger platform towards the future.

How people see interaction inside mobile phones hasn’t changed since flip phones,” he says. “You have a keypad to dial, a phonebook icon to access contacts, another for messages and one for your voicemail. It’s app-centric, not people centric. If today no phone existed, you wouldn’t create an app-centric view of the world, you’d create a people-centric view. WithMessenger, everything you can do is based on the thread, the relationship. We want to push that further.

Zuckerberg’s App For Everything

Seven Years A Square

Of course the other potential future is Twitter. After ‘Moments’ was launched last week, the re-org from incoming/returning CEO Jack Dorsey should put Twitter onto a more realistic footing after it’s Silicon Valley fuelled growth.

Dorsey was instrumental in Twitter’s acquisition of Vine, a social network for sharing six-second videos, which has become an impressive video platform in its own right. It continues to grow at a rapid clip. Similarly, the recently acquired Periscope, a live-broadcasting platform, has started to grow nicely. Dorsey’s skills are also visible at Square and in its many services. The company’s point-of-sales system, readers, and business services reflect a coherent and effective design process.

And isn’t it nice to be reading Om Malik on tech 2.0 again?

Jack In The Box: Can Twitter Be Saved?

This Week’s Long Read: Boom Town

Joni Tevis looks at the Nevada nuclear test sites, the Viewmaster 3D, the hula-hoop, Buddy Holly, and more, in an evocative look back the long summer of the Atmoic Fifties. Settle in for a fascinating portrait of a lost time.

Atomic Summer

‘Trivial Posts’ is a mostly weekly series of posts that brings together interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye on the Internet. Read it online, or subscribe to the email newsletter version here.

From The Sublime… To The Cliffhanger

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

I know there are a million ‘media/sci-fi/genre‘ podcasts out there, but here’s another reason to listen and subscribe to ‘From The Sublime‘… I’m making an appearance this fortnight!

FTS (because every good show needs to have a good abreviation) is hosted by Iain Hepburn, and works on a magazine-style format, with discrete topics introduced and presented as monologues from Hepburn and his “finely honed fighting force.” Yes, it’s ‘Nationwide for Nerds’, with just a little bit more attitude than Frank Bough.

Anyway, Hepburn asked if I would take a swing at a topic for the current episode, and I decided to look at the staple of genre television the cliffhanger, taking in the current season of Doctor Who, some of the classic series, Star Trek The Next Generation, and a few easter eggs hiding in the script (there’s a free badge for the first person to name them all).

It’s been fun being able to concentrate on ‘just the audio’ for once, and not worry about long term goals, website, promotion, or anything else. Let me know what you think!

Listen to the full show on the website, alternatively subscribe to FTS in iTunes or by RSS to get every episode.

Trivial Posts #15: Photographing Pluto, Styling Star Wars, And Space Whisky

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

An interesting week for me, with Apple featuring heavily on the professional side of things, and rather a lot more space/sci-fi/fantasy coming up in my links than normal. You can read about all of that here, unless you’ve already had them sent to you because you signed up to the mailing list!

What Have I Been Up To

As a tech writer I look on a big Apple event with a mix of christmas morning glee and Kasparov style planning. Pretty much every writer on the planet has the same raw materials (the streamed presentation) and the challenge is to find a different angle, approach, or analysis, and then to somehow get above all the noise and extra volume of articles trying to do exactly the same.

I’ll be honest here, I dodged this time around. I posted the day before the event, watched the event, then waited twenty-four hours to avoid the first rush and try to catch the second wave of interest. I decided to look at the strategic implications of Apple’s new technology, using the Surface Pro 3 and the iPad Pro to chart Apple’s ‘Reality’ Distortion Field’, and my weekly round-up of Apple News.

I also decided that Tim Cook is a Timelord.

Sure Looks Like A Planet

NASA and the team behind the New Horizons mission have released more photos of Pluto and Charon. Forget the quick thumbnails squirted back in the hours after the fly-by, were into the keep listening for a long time, here comes a big file’ pictures. These. Are. Wonderful!

New, Gorgeous, Pictures Of Pluto

A Disturbance Of Helvetica Black

There’s something delightfully geeky about Alex Jay’s look at Sar Wars. well, just one part of Star Wars. The logo, and how it evolved before, during, and after the first film released in 1977.

Anatomy Of A Logo

It’s Not Easy To Keep The Light Burning

Ahead of all the Muppet madness to come thanks to a new TV series about the Muppets which is in no way inspired by 30 Rock (which in no way was inspired by The Muppet Show), Jon Irwin profiles Steve Whitmire, the man who accompanies Kermit the Frog:

Steve Whitmire was inside his home north of Atlanta when he received a package in the mail. He pulled the contents out of the box… Now the familiar face stared back at Steve, its mouth open for no reason. Henson’s son Brian and then-interim company president was asking Whitmire to continue his father’s legacy. Whitmire was 30 years old. He stuck Kermit in a cupboard and did not look at him for weeks.

On The Other Hand

Dammit, Jim, I’m a Doctor Not A Jeweller

File this under Star Trek trivia that I genuinely did know. John Farrier is rewatching classic Star Trek and came across an interesting point. Dr McCoy has a gold ring with a blue stone on his left pinkie. Why?

DeForest Kelly dearly loved his mother, Clora Kelley. Clora owned a ring that her brother had won in a card game while he was in France. When Clora died of cancer in 1957, her son was consumed with grief. But he was private about the depth of his feelings. He asked for only one item from her possessions: the ring. He wore it from then on in remembrance of her.

When Kelley was recruited for Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry was firm: the actors would not wear jewelry. But Kelley was firmer: if he wasn’t allowed to wear his ring, he wouldn’t be on the show. Roddenberry conceded.

But the kicker for me is the final note regarding the rebooted Star Trek film series and Karl Urban’s portrayal of Dr McCoy:

When Star Trek was rebooted in 2009, Karl Urban took up the role of Dr. McCoy. As you can see in this screenshot, he wears a ring on the pinkie finger of his left hand…. to honor DeForest Kelly

Why Does Dr McCoy Wear A Pinkie Ring?

A Wee Nip For The Airlock?

Man cannot colonise space until someone develops a glass for zero-g whisky.

The bottom of the bulbous glass, made of gold-plated stainless steel, contains a spiral ring for a reservoir of whisky to cling to. Through a phenomenon known as capillary action, first observed by Leonardo da Vinci, the whisky is drawn upward through a helical channel within the side of the glass to a mouthpiece at the rim for a space traveler to drink.

Alright then, let’s colonise space.

A Glass for Enjoying a Sip of Whisky While Floating in Space

Tiger Porn Would Never Be Enough

Should it be right that you can do something in private that is legal, but filming it for personal use is illegal? That question is a starting point into Myles Jackman’s mission to change the obscenity law in the UK. The Guardian’s Edward Docx profiles the crusading lawyer.

 He maintains that pornography is a class issue, a gender issue, a philosophical issue, a freedom issue, an everything issue. (One of his many dicta: “Pornography is the canary in the coal mine of free speech.”) And his campaign is against both state and statutes alike. By day, beneath the dark lawyerly suits that strain to contain him, he likes to wear Batman socks; by night, he wears Batman T-shirts. In the last six years or so, he has transformed himself from being just another lawyer into the Batman of obscenity.

One Lawyer’s Crusade To Defend Extreme Pornography

This Week’s Long Read: Give Spiro What He Wants

The family feeling of The Fast and The Furious isn’t just on-screen, isn;t just the cast, but in a tight night stunts crew that now insist on doing everything in-camera with minimal CGI (yes, even parachuting their cars out of a plane). Blake Harris allegedly talks about how the stunts were made, but his article is far more human.

Given the box-office success of Fast & Furious 6 ($788 million worldwide), it’s not too difficult to figure out how Furious 7 got made. But there is, however, one thing that does immediately jump out about the making of this film: the staggering number of stunt performers—over 150 in total—that it required to complete this movie.

This is a story about two of those stunt performers—who just so happen to be married to each other—about the film’s two stunt coordinators—who also happen to be brothers—and about the brilliant mad scientist at the center of it all…

Fast Cars And Furious Stunts

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It had everything: comedy, suspense, adventure, drama. What more do you want?

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Wife in Space returns, in the inevitable look at the new series of Doctor Who after saying ‘we’re never going to look at the new series’.

It’s almost like Neil and Sue planned the review of ‘Rose’ to run ten years to the day after ‘Rose’ returned the Doctor to our screens….

Trivial Posts #9: Parasites, Giant Robots, Editors, And The Doctor

Monday, February 9th, 2015

This week’s Trivial Posts is a bit more ‘things to make you think’ rather that ‘wow!’ this week, but it’s still fitting the simple mission of bringing you a collection of interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye online.

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The scientist who grew larva in his body

When you are a scientist exploring the rainforest, and you forget your anti-insect cream one day, what are you to do when the parasites attacked? If you are Piotr Naskrecki, you decide to let the blighters grow under your skin before capturing them as they burrow out and get ready to pupate. Fascinating, icky, and nature, all in one. And he knows his SEO loading headline strategy as well.

Puppy-killing scientist smuggles rainforest babies in body cavity

I held his hand as he drank the fatal dose

I’m going to simply quote the summary text for Liesl Graz’ piece on her husband’s assisted suicide, and hope for as much dignity when the time comes in my life, no matter what side of the relationship I am on. “Liesl Graz’s husband, Gerard, wanted to die with professional help and not face a slow, painful decline. She recalls their last days together – and the moment it happened”

The day my husband chose to die

“We either sit and wait, or we take these flare guns and do something really stupid.”

Trivial Posts isn’t always about posts made in the last week (although most of the time it is), it’s about also about fun stuff I find in the week. And a look back at Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim‘ is always worth another look.

How the pre-apocalyptic epic rescued the helmer in his darkest hour

The Manchester Guardian needs as Editor

The Guardian occupies a very interesting space as a publisher – all very liberal, always on the right side of truth and justice, and rarely making any money. As long-standing editor Alan Rusbridger steps down (to run the parent company, so no chance of ongoing interference there!) Michael Wolff profiles the vacancy for GQ.

The Poisoned Chalice

Prohibition never tasted so good

Whenever I travel to the US for anything more than a forty-eight hour stopover, I pop a kilogram of Dairy Milk chocolate in the bottom of my suitcase. I joke with the US Customs that it’s for ‘hormonal reasons’ but with the recent crackdown by the Hershey Chocolate Company on Cadbury’ chocolate being imported from the UK for sale in the US, I wonder if that will still be okay.

Fans stockpile sweets

The man who gave the world portable power

The transistor may have shaped the 20th century, but it was the lithium-ion battery that allowed us to take them everywhere and anywhere. For that, thank John Bannister Goodenough, profiled in Quartz.And the inventor isn’t finished yet.

Lithium-Ion, mark 2.

This Week’s Long Read: All of time and all of space

I was wondering what would be the long-form read this week, and then right at the death, the final entry in Philip Sandifer’s ‘Tardis Erudtorum’ series of posts looking at the history of Doctor Who was posted. It’s not just a long read, it’s a comprehensive document of one man’s exploration of a fifty year old television show. At a paragraph shy of 100,000 words, settle in to one man’s exploration of another man.

A Mild Curiosity in a Junkyard.

What Have I Been Up To?

My post on how Tim Cook neutered Steve Jobs’ threat of ‘thermonuclear war’ against a number of players in the Android ecosystem has proven to be a popular read (especially as Cook did finish the job, but in his own supply-chain focussed way). And of course it’s the season for countries to select their songs for the Eurovision Song Contest, so as well as the Trivial Posts newsletter, I’ll draw your attention to the weekly Eurovision newsletter from the ESC Insight team.

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Trivial Posts #4: Premium Economy, Drunken Master, and the Moulin Rouge

Monday, December 29th, 2014

A quiet week over the Christmas holidays on my blog, but lots of trivial things to post to in the weekly look at what I’ve found online.

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Scotia, Air Scotia, You’re the airline that’s for me.

My frequent-flying US friends are not happy at JetBlue, as the airline brings back regular seating and nickel-and-dime charing for luggage, prime seats, and all the other bits and pieces the modern airline seems to use. Once more, the economics of airlines seem designed to upset people. The New Yorker argues exactly that: “Basic service, without fees, must be sufficiently degraded in order to make people want to pay to escape it. And that’s where the suffering begins.

Airlines Want You To Suffer.

See also the US Department of Transport’s report on five years worth of consumer complaints in The Unfriendly Skies (PDF link).

Scotland’s dancer in the Moulin Rouge

Scottish dancer Sarah Heron is approaching the peak of her career, with respect and recognition both inside the industry and with the public. The Daily Record might call it a ‘creaky red windmill’ but it’s more than that. Heron is one of three principal dancers at The Moulin Rouge, and this is her story. If only The Record did more articles like this than shameless click bait headlines and deciding only two football teams count.

The Tough Routine In Paris

It’s something we did, now we should do something else

GQ’s Jeanne Marie Laskas interviews Buzz Aldrin, America’s sixth Astronaut to walk in space. That was over forty years ago, and his life, dreams, and drive, didn’t finish with Gemini 12 (or Apollo 11 come to that). What did Buzz do next, and what does he want the world to do now?

The Dark Side Of The Moon.

I never move my camera, always wide-angle

Tony Zhou is rapidly becoming one of my favourite ‘lets look at the movies’ creator. His videos (under the banner ‘Every Frame A Painting’) are not only immediate must-watch videos, but are improving as he explores the world of filmmaking. On the surface his latest analysis of Jackie Chan is superb, but the subtext underneath – that every Hollywood Action Director is getting it wrong – is not only argued, but proven in meticulous detail.

Every Frame A Painting: Jackie Chan, How To Do Action Comedy.

Wingtip to Wingtip

I picked this link out at the start of the week, and after the news of the Air Asia crash it might seem a bit out-of-place, but 2014 has actually been the year with the lowest recorded number of crashes in the modern era. A few of the crashes that have happened have pulled in huge media interest and kept the stories alive.

So here are five Airbus A350’s in close formation, pulling off some Airshow manoeuvres with 1.5 billion euros-worth of aircraft.

Airbus’ Mad Stunt.

Ten years of fighting podcasting

Podcasting is still hard, and while it’s getting a little easier, many of the lessons of the last ten years are not easily transferred to the next generation. We keep reinventing a not-very good wheel for the listener. Matt Haughey looks back on ten years of delayed audio delivery over the internet.

Fighting Human Nature.

…and there’s Lynette Young’s reply to this piece as a follow-up.

This Week’s Long Read

Less of a long read, more of a read and think a lot about it.

Christian Tippe looks at the current mess in Europe and wonders aloud  what it would take to set off another war. There are far too many combinations on one side, and not enough posturing from the other.

Thinking the Unthinkable.

What have I been up to?

Two highlights from my keyboard this week. The first is my review of the Christmas episode of Doctor Who. To be fair it’s less a review of ‘Last Christmas‘, and more a look at the underlying clash of horror and comedy that is asking the audience what sort of ‘Doctor Who’ they would like to see. Secondly, now that Microsoft owns Nokia’s former devices and services division, the Lumia 535 is a Microsoft mobile, not a Nokia, but it’s still a lot of smartphone in a budget packet. It does come up a bit short, and I go into the reasons in my long-term review of the Lumia 535.

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The Amazon Review Doctor Is Starting

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Gotta love Amazon. They put the Doctor Who Season 8 DVD up for pre-order while Peter Capaldi’s first season is still being filmed) to grab the orders and lock them in. And everyone starts to review the DVD that isn’t yet available:

Personally, I think that a lot of the excitement about this series is motivated by nostalgia, but I must admit it’s one of the best out of the second 50 years of Doctor Who history… Although the decision to replace Jenna-Louise Coleman mid-season with David Tennant playing the same role is still regarded as highly controversial, his performance is spot-on and it’s great that such a talented actor got a second chance at playing an actual good role in the programme he loved so much… but I don’t want to say too much! All in all, a wonderful ride you definitely need to see.

As of this post, 27 reviews, 22 five star, 4 four star, and 1 one star.

Armando Iannuci sneaks in another satirical jab…

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Even in an interview about Alpha Pappa with an off-top question on Doctor Who, the scottish writer’s still got it:

But what if children stumble across Thick of It repeats and get upset that Doctor Who is swearing at them?

Under the government’s new web restrictions, I imagine every family will have the opportunity to say no to The Thick of It being available on their internet provider.

The Fringe podcast where I mention Firefly

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

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Onwards with the Fringe, with music, special guests, surprise appearances, and an answer to the Davison/Troughton debate that’s pretty definitive, at least from my point of view. With Jennifer Lusk (Who Do You Think You Are), News Revue 2013, Fraser Millward, Sandy Brechin, and Tim Fitzhigham.

Why do writers who hate a topic get assigned that topic in the mainstream media?

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Toby Hadoke addresses some issues he has with the media’s coverage of television, actors, terminology, and ultimately about the lack of respect for the profession and the art:

Revelling in ignorance about the medium you write about seems bizarre – especially when such ignorance is used to recommend somebody but, with a little implicit criticism, keep them in their place at the same time (and to what end – apart from to make the journalist look clever?).

Looking clever feels terrific when you’re reviewing something, and it’s fantastic if you can enliven your prose with a witty barb or sparkly turn of phrase … but these things now seem to have replaced the real reasons someone should be writing about their specialist subject. And what reasons are those? Because they love it! Because they are entertained by entertainers, thrilled by popular culture – inspired to put pen to paper and to place bum on seat.

All of the above examples simply wouldn’t happen in other industries… You wouldn’t pay a food writer who described an aubergine as a “sort of rubbish sausage” so why is popular culture often chronicled and scrutinised by the ill-informed and condescending?

If I replace ‘cult TV’ in this article with ‘Eurovision’, this is exactly how I feel every May with the coverage that comes out of the UK’s media about the Song Contest. With so many smart writers who know their topic online, surely theres a solution to be found that rewards the writers, the publications, and the readers?

Click and create your own Doctor Who adventure

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

I’m having far too much fun with ‘Us vs Them’s’ “6 lines of JavaScript that write Doctor Who plots indistinguishable from the current series.” For example:

The TARDIS intercepts a distress signal from the Moon, but the Sonic Screwdriver picks up a signal from an unexpected lifeform. The visitors discover the last Gelth. A crack in the fabric of space and time saves the day. William Shatner is revealed as a new incarnation of the Master.

Where is Matt Smith hiding?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Because the only thing missing in this production shot from the 50th Anniversary ‘docu-drama’ is The Doctor meeting the Eleventh Doctor…

Adventures in Time and Space, 2013 edition

The Doctor Who origins documentary is the perfect cover… for Doctor Who

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

David Bradley will play William Hartnell (playing ‘The Doctor’, not ‘the First Doctor’, because Hartnell never played the character as able to regenerate until Tenth Planet) in the BBC’s dramatisation of the origins of Doctor Who. I’d assume they’ll have David Bradley in costume as Hartnell’s Doctor at some point, and there’s sure to be a ‘money shot’ of the original TARDIS set.

Which means if the 50th anniversary does need an appearance from another Doctor, and his TARDIS, would anyone notice the modern era team sneaking in with Matt Smith to do some filming at midnight? Alongside Bradley?