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Feature: Doctor Who (2000s)

They're amongst us!

We get the inside track on Army of Ghosts from director Graeme Harper, overseeing the first appearance of Torchwood and an invasion force of Cybermen!

As Cult Times speaks with Graeme Harper, The Impossible Planet has recently aired on TV (“That one was epic!” he enthuses). There’s only four weeks to go until Army of Ghosts is on screen, five until the season finale Doomsday, both of which Harper directed at the end of 2005. At this stage, neither of the episodes is finished – but fear not, all is in hand…

“We’ve done all the editing,” he says. “All the music has been spotted, I’ve been ADRing [dubbing] with artists on odd days over the last two weeks and now we’ve got one session to do with David [Tennant]. We’re still putting in the effects shots, and then it’s got to have on-line done and be graded. So there’s a couple of weeks’ work to do until it goes off!”

Is this a stressful period for the director? “I’m fairly relaxed,” he insists. “[Effects house] The Mill must be tearing their hair out. I made these two episodes at the same time as Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel. There have been five others in between so my last story has been put on hold while The Mill, the composer and the sound boys work at great pace through the other episodes. Mine is going to be a manic rush to finally get it ready.”

Army of Ghosts sees the Doctor and Rose return to present day Earth, where they are reunited with Jackie Tyler. Beyond that, this is an episode with many surprises that must be held firmly under wraps, its secrets talked about in excited hushed whispers – but we do know that the Cybermen will be making a return in force. And, at long last, we’ll finally see inside an organization that has been alluded to ever since The Christmas Invasion

Torchwood: it was established by Queen Victoria after her encounter with a werewolf. In the present day it liquidated the Sycorax threat, and it has top secret files (some on the Doctor, but these have been corrupted by the Bad Wolf virus). Its reach extends even into the future, when it apparently becomes the Torchwood Archive. It’s made up of a group of specialists, who collect alien artefacts and investigate mysterious phenomenon, and it will be the centre of the new 13-part BBC Three drama series Torchwood, which begins in October.

In Army of Ghosts, the organization’s leader, Yvonne Hartwood (Tracy Ann Oberman), is monitoring a strange phenomenon that is occurring on Earth. And just at the right time, the Doctor steps into her underground base…

Was Harper mindful of the connection between this episode and Doctor Who’s forthcoming spin-off? “Absolutely,” he responds. “My first question was, ‘Do I have to worry about the locations, if they are going to be representative of the Torchwood series?’ We didn’t – they are totally different. My story features the same organization, but this is a different setting. Russell and Phil said, ‘Forget the series and make what you want based on how our story is written’. It is quite obvious what I had to go for as you’ll see; it’s also obvious why they couldn’t use the same place and carry on a big series there.”

by David Richardson

Read the full interview in
Cult Times Special #40

Image © Visual Imagination, Doctor Who © BBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times Special #40, see below for ordering options
Cult Times Special #40
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