TV: Doctor Who The Impossible Astronaut BBC Wales BBC America

Right and Proper

A few years ago – when I was partial to a roll-up – I’d spend my cigarette breaks moaning to a former colleague about Doctor Who.

It wasn’t for me. It was an intense disappointment. That bloke Russell T Davies liked comedy more than sci-fi. He might have said he loved Doctor Who, but as far as I could see he didn’t get it like I did. If I’d met him I’d have told him. And maybe that’s why he and his cohort turned me down for an interview so unceremoniously.

Loving You Luv

He gave the BBC National Orchestra of Wales way too much air time. There could be a lot less music. Everybody should stop running around. Why was it I couldn’t understand anything of what had happened when the final credits rolled? Why the hell couldn’t he write something especially for me? It wasn’t like I hadn’t remained faithful to the cause. Yes, really. Why had he let me down? I had been so excited when it was announced it was coming back.

There were times when I wondered whether that former colleague had a hotter line to the impenetrable offices of Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner than I perceived my blog had.

I want one of these

And then Steven Moffat wrote that thing with the statues. Blinking suddenly became dangerous. Those who dared to dream stopped for a breath. Could this bloke Moffat be the answer?

I’ve waxed lyrical before about his efforts in the last season of Doctor Who. The breath I drew when I watched his first story was exhaled when I quickly realised the Scottish bloke with the curly hair wasn’t the one-hit wonder I worried he might be.

Sure. His first season was subject to quite a bit of running around. And really, the Blu-Ray I purchased has such shocking examples of poor post-production audio mixes I’d hesitate from purchasing another set unless I’d received personal assurances such ‘issues’ had been ironed out. (Somebody .. somewhere .. sort that particular problem out, will you?)

Well Done Everyone

But. His second season is .. basing my opinion on the season opener at least .. so incredibly close to how I demand my Doctor Who to be as to make me want to stop him in his tracks the next time I see him outside BBC Television Centre and plant a smacker on the man’s lips. It’s dark. It’s exciting. It’s made me draw breath.

Just so we’re clear … this (finally) is how I expected, how I hoped present day Doctor Who to be. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you must.

Thank you Mr Moffat. I really appreciate your efforts. Yours too Mr Wenger. And yours Ms Willis. You and your team have done very well.

Thank. God. It’s taken a while. But we’re there.

From this moment on, you SO don’t need any PR. Ditch them. Bin them. Fire them. They’re history.

Now then. When exactly are you planning on bringing back Tegan?

John Sullivan (1946-2011)

News that sitcom writer John Sullivan has died at the age of 64 after a short illness prompted me to do a bit of digging about the man.

Not only was he responsible for one of the BBC’s longest running sitcoms Only Fools and Horses (work which was so popular it prompted BBC commissioners to look for a OFAH prequel Rock and Chips. Read about his work on the series on the BBC’s brilliant comedy blog.

I was pleased to be reminded that Sullivan was also a songwriter as well. A songwriter in fact of the very tunes which introduced the sitcoms he’d written.

The pilot episode and first series ended up using Ronnie Hazelhurst’s theme music but after audience feedback confirmed Sullivan’s fears that there was a certain lack of understanding as to what the characters were about, it was the latter’s original composition which return to open the second series (as below).

But while OFAH was a pragmatic – and arrestingly original – signature tune, it’s his lesser known comedy Just Good Friends‘ starring Paul Nicholas and Jan Francis for which Sullivan’s compositional efforts will be personally best remembered.

Elisabeth Sladen (1948-2011)

Very sorry to learn on BBC News Online of the death of Doctor Who actress Elisabeth Sladen.

One of the finest Doctor Who companions – Sarah Jane Smith – whose repeat appearances in the classic series, the regenerated series and her own spin-off series only served to illustrate the love audiences had for her and her character.

Sladen was – for many thirty (and possibly forty) somethings – hot-wired to our childhoods. She bucked the trend of Doctor Who ‘companions’. She wasn’t just pretty. She wasn’t employed merely because she could scream. She was reliably bouncy and perky to Pertwee’s serious ‘scientific’ Doctor.

When Pertwee stepped down from the role her character developed into the perfect foil for Tom Baker’s burgeoning ego. She was intelligent. Feisty and brave but also prone to moments of vunerability too. Gawd bless her.

Of course, that was Sarah Jane-Smith. She wasn’t aspirational. She was just normal. Audiences connected with her as a character. And because kids are impressionable and we all loved Who, Sarah Jane-Smith was Elisabeth Sladen and vice versa.

A measure of why so many have reacted in the same way at the news of her untimely death.

TV: Graham Norton Show Episode 9.1

A cracking opening episode for Graham’s latest series featuring David Tennant and Catherine Tate promoting their forthcoming run of Much Ado About Nothing at Wyndham’s Theatre, Jon Richardson – currently the cutest and possibly the most cynical comedian on TV – promoting his UK tour and singer Josh Groban doing a run of promos for his new album Illuminations.

Tate and Tennant always give off irresistable chemistry on the Graham Norton Show sofa and didn’t disappoint on this occasion. Richardson with his depressingly negative view on relationships acted as the perfect foil.

And Groban? His song tripped along nicely but wasn’t earth shattering. Mind you, it didn’t really need to. It was his presence on the show which was the overriding priority. Far from being the bemused American on the set, Groban seemed comfortable and a part of the group.

But the guests were eclipsed by Graham examining the text messages of a gay couple in the audience. Painfully personal and fluffy, this rare audience participation element showed spontaneity, authenticity and most important of all sincerity. One of the most positive reflections of gay life I’ve seen on maintsream TV entertainment in a long time.

Happy Fourth Birthday to The Graham Norton Show. It seems like such a long time ago when it started up on BBC Two on a Thursday night.