I don’t watch the modern Doctor Who. This has nothing to do with thinking “it’s a show for kids” and more to do with rarely being in when it is on, and if I am it clashes with bedtime stories for my son. I would catch up with it on DVD, but I only finished The Sopranos back in January, just six years after the final episode. I have been slightly put off by some of what I’ve seen, the increase in the lachrymose scenes of love and loss and the lengthy “I am just going to say goodbye to everyone” story that was on one Christmas. Last night was the same, so much hullabaloo, why even Frazer Hines was on the Pointless Doctor Who special, but Jake and the Ghost and a book about what happens beneath pavements took precedent. I saw the last 25 minutes and it all seemed pretty good and obviously there was delight at seeing Tom Baker, when isn’t there. (I am told there wasn’t always delight at seeing Tom Baker in the Soho booze cellars of the 1970s and Francis Bacon and him were particularly pissed, but that’s another thing).
Delighting in having a few hours off, I made the mistake of being led to BBC3 for the Doctor Who After show Party, and that was when my eyes began to bleed. I know I can be a grump when it comes to what the great minds and controllers of television fashion to destroy our dreams and ambition, but this departure from sanity was more startling than any prosthetic hampered actor that lunged at me during my teatime Tom Baker years.
These sort of shows, and there are so many of vaguely different hues, seem designed to wake up the eugenicist in us all. It panders to the presumption that everyone fears depth, insight or interest.
“You are a moron who whose depth is measured by the time it takes for you to decide on a new ringtone and the length of your stories about vomiting at Oceana after details of each shot and cocktail and how some of the chips spewed were still whole”.
I am delusional, this does not represent the teenagers I meet, but a core demographic of most TV stations does not take into account anyone who does not fit into the required demographic of the imagination free, self-aggrandising, Groucho club yelpers. I’ve heard their alibis before, “our audience won’t get this”, which means, “I don’t understand it, but I am using the alibi that it is the audience who cannot take it.”
The Doctor Who After Show started as all these live, hubbubby vacuities are meant to. A presenter says, “wasn’t that amaaaazing!” This is the era where superlatives surpass insight. On the few occasions I am in a hotel with a broken TV and briefly trapped with a youthish channel (which seems to be most), “Aaaaammmmazzzing” seems to be the catchphrase of the end times. My nightmare vision saw what my childhood would have been like if BBC3 had encroached on it. Straight after Horror of Fang Rock, there would be Tony Blackburn and Dave Lee Travis with the after show, “wasn’t Horror of Fang Rock sensational, so let’s see Dollar and Dancing in the Moonlight!”
Back in 2013, here we were at a party. Why the hell do all these things have to be a party?
“That’s The final part of The Nazis: A warning From History, but over on BBC3, it’s time for the aftershow with Fearne Cotton and Alex Zane.”
“Wasn’t that aaammmaaaazzzing, I had no idea those dude were so cruel, here’s some guys who wouldn’t commit genocide, it’s One Direction!!!!!!!!!!!”
Do viewers enjoy the party atmosphere? Going to a party is one thing, some people enjoy them I’m told, but what if someone says, “we can’t go to the party, but we can look at it through a window” or worse, friends come around and show you a video of a party that had. “sorry we didn’t invite you, so I thought you’d like this tape of background noise. John Hurt was there, but thought most people wouldn’t really be interested in what he was talking about, so we left the microphone by the ladel of punch bowl so the majority of what you can hear is slopping and slushing. Aaaamaazzzing”.
I returned to writing and looking at floorboards as a better alternative. Every so often, the Pandora in me couldn’t help but watch a few minutes more. There were the companions of many years, each surely holding in their memories stories of the creation of this television landmark, and all addressed by the presenters only by their companion name. “here’s Leela”. Were the producers fearful that the idea that these people were actors, that information such as “here’s Louise Jameson who played Leela” would overload their viewers synapses forcing them to hastily retreat to Paddy McGuiness? Or was it too much effort for the presenters to hold that amount of information in their heads. It all seemed rather insulting and, yet again, utterly unrevealing.
Whatever you may think of Doctor Who, it is clearly made by people who aspire to create the best television they imagine, they are passionate people with a great depth of care for what they create, an interest in the history and future of television. Immediately after The Day of the Doctor, the antithesis to such aspirations was revealed. If TV is a party, I am glad to spend most of it in the kitchen.
my new show and tour starts in 2014 (Salford, Leeds, Nottingham, York, London and many more) Details of new and current tour and all the Christmas shows both with and without Brian Cox are HERE
Happiness through Science DVD is HERE (guests remains secret but we’ve got bloody loads of them and Ross Noble is the one we’ve sneak previewed, he’s at Hammersmith on 12th)
The sort of monstrosity I witnessed last night is the sort of thing that my new club nights in London, Northampton and Brighton will be railing against. Here is a post about those https://robinince.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/from-onanism-to-orgy-the-joy-of-collaboration/
FOOTNOOTE 2 – Everything that was wrong with that ghastly aftershow, was counterbalanced by the brilliance of Mark Gatiss’s Adventure in Space and Time and the fun of The Five-ish Doctors