In my previous article I issued a challenge, suggesting that maybe we should leave the missing episode threads for a little while and instead start looking through the mountains of British Pathe clips that have been uploaded to YouTube recently. Sammi Carter took my advice and I would like to share his finds!
I wish I could say that one of these contains a thirty second clip from Macra Terror, but that’s just not the case. Mostly they are brief cameo’s from Who related actors, but still astonishing to see.
William Hartnell at the British Film Festival in 1947.
This one is silent and features a little more Hartnell from the Daily Film Festival in 1949. Blink and you might miss him!
Here we have Carole Ann Ford and Bernard Cribbins in one entitled Star, Stars, More Stars from 1965.
I know that there is nothing too spectacular about those clips, but I have to say that my heart raced just seeing Hartnell for a few seconds. Maybe there is something even more amazing out there still to be discovered! Thanks again to Sammi Carter for giving me these links and if you find something Doctor Who related amongst the 84,997 other clips leave a comment with a link or tweet it to @troughtonsmydoc!
What do Marco Polo, Robespierre, Nero, Richard the Lionheart, Catherine de Medici, Wyatt Earp, George Stevenson, H.G. Wells, Charles Dickens, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Churchill, Van Gogh, Nixon, Captain Avery, Nefertiti and Hitler have in common?
The answer is, they’ve all met a mad man in a box. They’re soon to be joined in series 8, it seems, by Jack the Ripper, by Robin Hood, and Mark Gatiss has even teased the possibility of Jane Austen….
Doctor Who does love its meetings with historical figures, especially since 2005, when the “celebrity historical” became the vogue. It’s a headline-grabbing approach, probably done best in Vincent and the Doctor, which used Van Gogh’s synesthesia as a major plot point, and his presence as a USP. It does make sense to have a historical with a recognisable figure, as opposed to having unknown characters against the backdrop of historic events, but only really when it drives the story. For example, Hitler didn’t have a great deal to do with Let’s Kill Hitler, but you couldn’t have The Unicorn and the Wasp without Agatha Christie.
The thing is though….they’re running out of historical figures to use. Explorers, crusaders, Emperors, playwrights, inventors, gunslingers…..the list of famous figures from history has been ticked off, and many of those left might prove too controversial or divisive. I can’t see them doing Richard III somehow.
Hitler’s arguably the most famous or infamous person to have ever appeared in Doctor Who, but really he’s used as an eye-catching title and strapline for an episode about River Song. This is another of Steven Moffat’s wrongfooting titles, and a plot element that’s swept out of the way quickly, he’s quite literally thrown in a cupboard. On the other hand, it would be much harder to sell something like The Visitation these days, where you have rats and the great fire of London as the backdrop, but a made up character like Richard Mace at the forefront. This is why, despite lavish location work, stories like The Fires of Pompeii and A Town Called Mercy have to work a bit harder….the public do like their celebrities, and there’s no-one ‘famous’ in them, and they take place in locations that are either long lost to a volcanic eruption or in the case of Mercy, made up. In the case of Pompeii, the Doctor and Donna at loggerheads over whether to save the doomed inhabitants is the effective crux of the story. Mercy also deals with a moral dilemma, but if, say, Russell T. Davies had written it, I dare say he’d probably have made it more relatable and set it in Tombstone.
The thought of a Robin Hood episode strikes me as a good bit of fun. That Ripper-in-Fog thing has been done as far back as Talons of Weng-Chiang, and I’m pretty sure Vastra had just eaten the Ripper when introduced in A Good Man Goes to War, so we’d just have to see where Moffat goes with that notion.
The notion of Jane Austen…..just…why, really? It’s mostly been literary figures and royals or world leaders these last few years. The use of Agatha Christie in a Whodunnit, or Dickens in a ghost story is a good use of theme and character. I’m not so sure about Churchill. The use of Nixon in Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon works because of the setting and all the secret agent-y stuff with Canton and the White House. Jane Austen is a famous author of 18th century romantic fiction. I may not be a fan of Austen, but I can’t see it working. There’s no reason, dramatically or Who-ishly to do Austen, apart from a lack of other ideas for famous authors to do.
Perhaps the answer is in recent history. The 20th century is the dawn of real global celebrity, it’s full of untapped potential famous figures. It’s notable that the series has mostly swerved the 60s and 70s since the revival, especially the 70s. Hide could really have been set at any time in history, barring the oscilloscopes and tank tops. Victorian times have dominated, and the period from 1938 to the blitz. It’s perhaps time to do what Moffat and Gatiss must surely have already discussed at some point, and go meet Conan-Doyle. Maybe head to the 60s and meet the Beatles, or Martin Luther King. Do something underwater and creepy with Jacques Cousteau. Go daring and dark in the 13th century and expose Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General as a sinister alien. Just don’t do Sense-Sphere and Sensibility please.
“The world’s finest news and entertainment video film archive. Since the invention of the moving image in the 1890’s, British Pathé began recording every aspect of global culture and news, for the cinema. With their unique combination of information and entertainment, British Pathé’s documentaries, newsreels, serials and films changed the way the world saw itself forever.
With it’s unparalleled collection of historical events and vast catalogue of changing social activity, British Pathé encompasses one of the world’s most prodigious and fascinating documents of the modern age. From fashion to warfare and sport to travel, British Pathé is the definitive source for the 20th century in moving images.
All 85,000 newsreels are now searchable and viewable on YouTube. This equates to 3,500 hours of filmed history.
Our YouTube channel includes some of the public’s favourite clips, rare and amusing pieces to share and footage related to big days throughout the year.”
There are some Doctor Who related items in here as well including a clip from the 1967/68 Schoolboys’ and Girls’ Exhibition at Olympia featuring a cameo appearance from a Cyberman and Yeti. There are some other films depicting police boxes, footage of Jon Pertwee and Jean Marsh, even a Peter Cushing appearance.
No, it’s not Macra Terror, but something neat and interesting to pass the time. An intriguing quote from Mediakraft, the German online tv channel that is managing the project:
it is very likely that the community will find hidden gems in the enormous video library that have not been discovered by the archivists yet.
So there’s your challenge. Maybe we should take a few minutes a day away from the forums and missing episode threads and look through this amazing archive for more Doctor Who related content. You just never know what you might find!
If you do find something, post a link in the comments section so we can share it with everyone!
Well, we might as well start this week with the big news or lack there of. Marco Polo was not announced. This shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone, especially since most of those with source information had already started backpedaling in the previous weeks. So… Easter without Marco, what does that mean to the omnirumour? Check out my OmniMusings.
Troughton Is My Doctor was born out of necessity. Those of you who have been with us since our first post know that it was the absence of Doctor Who Worldwide (where I had previously been posting my articles) that caused me to dust off this old blog and start my own Doctor Who news and rumours site.
Well TIMD has reached its one month birthday and to celebrate we are giving each of you a Marco Polo dvd*! Wait, what? Oh… Never mind.
Anyway, a month ago I deleted all the old and forgotten blogs I had started about music and watching William Hartnell stories, bought the domain name, changed the theme and started fresh.
Though I began this project all by myself, Gary Morris and Martin Ruddick joined me very early on, bringing valuable technical insight and amazing Who related opinions. Al Miller wandered in a few weeks later with his amazing Podcastrovalva segments and recently world traveller Andrew Boland has joined the team. The five of us span much of the globe, a couple Canadians, a Briton and an Aussie living in Japan! But you, our readers, reach even further than that.
We have had visitors from all around the world. Obviously the UK is the biggest supporter, but we have viewers in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands, heck even Brazil! From the Ukraine to Puerto Rico and Bulgaria, we have accommodated Doctor Who fans from all over the world. And lots of them, too.
In the past 29 days TIMD has received more than 10,000 hits and published more than 50 articles. We’ve talked about the omnirumour and series 8, New and Classic Who, everything and anything! During that time the website became a sort of unofficial supporter of the Doctor Who Missing Episode Discussion Group on Facebook, providing updates on it’s growth, and also seen the return of Doctor Who Worldwide and its forum The Panopticon a few weeks ago. But don’t worry, we aren’t done yet. No, we are really just getting started
So from the TIMD team, thanks for joining us and stick around because there’s plenty more to come! Follow @troughtonsmydoc to get hear about updates as they happen.
*Unfortunately even if Marco Polo had been released, we are too poor to provide you with a free copy. Sorry.
Last year, around the anniversary, I read an article in which someone on the net ranked every single Doctor Who story ever televised. I don’t remember that much other than it was very Nu-Who centric (8 of the top 10 I think) and, more shockingly to this ‘old school fan’, MY all time favourite story was ranked a lowly SIXTY-SECOND. That would be The Talons of Weng Chiang.
The two criticisms of the story that I remember were, firstly that the main villain didn’t do much until part five. To me that was an odd criticism, odd that it WAS a criticism. Did they hate the original Star Wars trilogy because they had to wait until Return of the Jedi to see the Emperor? Secondly that the story was racist, principally because of the way it portrayed Chinese people and that they had a British actor playing Li Sen Chang.
Ok, yes I am going to dive in here. It may not be wise, but I am going to have a crack at defending these issues, because for me Talons is the epitome of a brilliant Doctor Who story. It’s wonderful on so many counts, and I will not be changing my opinion of this story any time soon.
Firstly, it’s an historical piece. We see the attitude towards Chinese people in London in the Victorian era. It would be inaccurate to portray English and Chinese as best buddies at the time. It just wasn’t so. Is there an issue then that the Chinese characters in the story – Chang and his henchmen, are the antagonists? In the context of one story, certainly not. If it was a trend throughout the history of Doctor Who, then certainly. In fact the real criticism should lie in the fact that throughout the first 26 years of the show, it was very European-centric. It certainly was.
The issue then with the casting of John Bennet as Chang.
David Maloney had to find someone capable of taking on the part, and it was undoubtedly the most important casting decision for the serial. Perhaps people on the other side of the Atlanic image that each part was cast after a director saw dozens of people, but the truth is that BBC television in the 1970s was produced with a very fast turnaround. A lot of lead roles in the shows were cast by the director calling on someone he had worked with before and knew could do the role, as was the case here.
Take a look at Philip Martin’s ‘Gangsters’ television series from around the same era, and you will see that there were only a small number of Asian actors doing the rounds in Britain at the time, and many struggled to give convincing performances in English. The talent simply was not there, and if it was, the actors were not ‘known’.
Think of it another way. Look at The Enemy of the World, Episode One. Three Australian characters hunting Salamandar with the most appalling Australian accents imaginable. It’s not considered racist, but bad acting. Same can be said in The Gunfighters, and don’t start with American attempts at being British or Australian!
To be a character actor means to stretch your limits, and play parts that are not like you at all. People play Russian, Mexican, and so on. But when a race which looks slightly different to the actor playing it is concerned, THEN it’s a racist move in casting. I’m sure the actor didn’t see it that way. Bennet was stretching his talents to play what was a very difficult role. He had to master the showmanship of the character too don’t forget.
Imagine if a Japanese person was cast in that role. Is it suddenly more acceptable? Possibly it is, the guy playing Sulu in the latest Star Trek franchise is from Korea. Yet, to be fair I am still living in Japan and a lot of Japanese, Chinese and Korean people don’t get along. There’s a history revolving around war, mistreatment and many other things. People who have been living here for over 300 years, whose forefathers came from Korea or China, still have that stamped as their ethnicity on their birth certificates. I can imagine that to some, it would have been MORE offensive to cast a Japanese actor in the role, if one capable had been found.
And if they had gone out on a limb (and at the BBC in the 1970s it really would have been) and cast a Chinese actor to play Chang, and he hadn’t delivered a convincing performance, fans would criticise the casting and the actor FOREVER. Don’t forget the casting of Rick James as Cotton in The Mutants. Poor guy earned the tag as ‘the WORST actor’ in the show’s history. Personally I never thought he was bad until I heard it mentioned on the DVD.
In the Hartnell era, there are far worse examples of casting white people in other roles. Mavic Chen is one that people often remember. I had no idea he was supposed to be Chinese to be honest, I figured he possibly wasn’t human with the prosthetics and long fingernails.
But then there’s ‘The Crusade’, featuring a number of classically trained and extremely competent actors playing Arab roles. You know, I don’t have an issue with the casting, only with the ‘blacking up’. I don’t think it was necessary. For Chang, it was, and to be honest as a kid I had no idea the actor wasn’t Asian.
I think John Bennet gives a wonderful performance. An actor should be tested, pushed, and extended to her or his limits, and he was. Today, you surely could find a Chinese actor in Great Britain capable of taking on the role. You would have the chance to cast the net widely to find the best person for the job. It was not the situation back in the 70s.
For me, The Talons of Weng Chiang is the perfect blend of all things that make good Doctor Who. The Doctor-Leela relationship is explored best in this story, it mixes science fiction with history, the sets and location shooting are glorious, it blends comedy with horror, the costumes are brilliant and it includes the best double act in the shows’ history with Jago and Litefoot. And the casting is perfect. Deep Roy, Christopher Benjamin, Trevor Baxter and especially John Bennett.
Holmes. Hinchcliffe and Maloney have told a story about a man who is Chinese. At no point do they say he does what he does, acts the way he does (or his minions either) because they are Chinese. No sweeping generalisations are made about Chinese people.
All that happens is we get an absolutely wonderful story.
What do you think? Am I out of line here? and if so, why? Please comment!
This is an opinion piece from Andrew Boland and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of troughtonismydoctor.com
Is Easter without a Marco Polo announcement a fixed point in time, or can we go back and change it, do something different and somehow make everything turn out perfect?
Here we are on Good Friday and there hasn’t even been a whisper of an announcement regarding more missing episodes. Those with sources set Easter as a potential date way back in January, or even before, but obviously it failed to materialize. In their defense, none of them ever promised us anything (at least to my knowledge), simply stated that this holiday weekend was a target that they were trying to hit.
Still I, like many others, saved the date, counting down the days in desperation. We hung onto every rumour, every twist, every denial feeling like we were on a rollercoaster, hoping that this was the last big frightening downward plunge before the ride came to an end. It would all be worth it, if only we get an announcement, was the prevalent thought.
Here we are though, with no announcement.
Interest on the fora was already waning a few weeks ago when just about everybody who had source information started backpedaling on the Easter date. People were starting to think about abandoning the threads en masse and returning to their real lives.
Then Phil Morris went retweet and like crazy. His actions suddenly sparked the lethargic beast of fandom, and the frenzy began all over again. Add to that the Underwater Menace details posted on facebook and then quickly removed. Andrew Cartmel had some comments taken way out of context and used to stir things up. Phil released a photo of himself in Sierra Leonne, that many would have thought a fake if it hadn’t been shared through his twitter account. Then there was an absolute denial by Restoration Team member Steve Roberts on Gallifrey Base. He even told the world what each and every member of the team was working on to try and prove that he wasn’t hiding anything.
Let’s do some math. Take all the positive news, now subtract all the negative stuff and what are we left with… Nothing. Zero. Right back where we started.
So what should we do now?
All the talk about Underwater Menace the past couple of days, made me think a little and simplify my hopes and expectations. There has been too much said about Marco Polo for me to ever give up hope that it will be returned. Other than that? Underwater Menace will be out sometime and it should be fully animated, at the very least. What about The Crusade? Give me an animation on that and I will be happy. So there are three stories that you could reasonably expect to be out sometime, one of them, UWM, all but guaranteed.
Other than that? I’m still reaping the rewards from Phil’s search. I’ll be purchasing Web Of Fear on Tuesday when it finally get released here in Canada. I also found an awesome sale online and bought 15 Tom Baker stories, the last ones that I needed to complete my entire collection of classic Doctor Who, so that will keep me busy for a while.
Maybe something will have happened before I get through them.
So have you seen the tweet from Phil Morris? I would call this “the first official photo documenting his around the world trip to try and save Doctor Who and other shows of cultural value, at least since the Enemy Of The World/Web Of Fear reveal six months ago”. Wow, that’s quite a mouthful.
I say first ‘official’ documentation because this picture has been passed around online for a few days now. I’m not 100% sure how it was attained or where they got it from, but either way it was none of their business to publish it. Unfortunately for those posters, it’s mission accomplished because they forced Phil to reveal it to the general public. There’s no point hiding or denying it now. Thousands of people are already rabidly talking about it.
It’s a shame because it would have been so awesome to get this as a nice little Easter present without the baggage that is hidden behind the scenes.
The staff from TIMD would like to say that we don’t condone shady business like the leaking of personal information or pictures in an attempt to force things along. It’s one thing to get rumours from inside sources, quite another to have stuff like this taken from a private place and spread across the internet.
Finally thanks to Phil Morris for all his work and his quiet and cryptic words of encouragement.
So yesterday there was a facebook statement regarding The Underwater Menace. The statement from “Doctor Who and the Tardis- Classic years” caused a lot of happiness, but it was quickly taken down. I sent a message to the group responsible for the post asking for clarification. Was it all just a wind up? Some sort of joke?
They got back to me earlier today with this:
“Sorry about that, Dan. It wasn’t a wind up, but we were informed that our information may have been incorrect, so we’re investigating further“
So there you go. I had always thought that they posted their information in good faith. The group has 45,000 likes and it seemed weird to jeopardize that fan base by pulling a stunt or wind up that might anger people. Who knows, maybe after investigating they can give us more solid information? One can only hope. Until then…