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Feature: Doctor Who 2000s

Box of DVD delights

More Time Lord for your money? We delve into the wealth of extras contained on the Doctor Who Series One box set

It’s a pleasant August Saturday and the day of the recording of the final Commentary track for the long-awaited Doctor Who box set, containing all 13 episodes of the wildly popular new series and a host of extras. This track is for episode seven The Long Game, in which the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and his companions Rose (Billie Piper) and Adam (Bruno Langley) arrive on Satellite 5 and discover a news-gathering collective. Reporting to The Editor (Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg), on close examination the Doctor realizes something is seriously amiss…

The Commentary features director Brian Grant, and actors Langley and Christine Adams (information downloader Cathica), the last of whom is very excited about the prospect when she’s told exactly what she’s doing.

“I have a tendency to finish watching a good film and go straight on to the Director’s Commentary, which actually I’m starting to realize is not always the best idea. I’m a film buff and an actor and I always like to know how directors approach something and how actors approach something.”

Langley is also enthusiastic, if a little disconcerted, by the BBC’s rock solid security procedures just to get into the building. His concerns are alleviated when we make it to a marked out ‘safe area’ of Television Centre, which is apparently impregnable. Relaxed, he and Adams discuss the amount of fan mail they’ve received since being on the show. Langley admits that he’s no longer getting any mail about playing Todd on Coronation Street (in which he appeared for three years) but receives at least four letters a day about Doctor Who (in which he appeared for two episodes). Adams says she only gets a couple per week, but is worried about having the time to keep replying to them all.

During the Commentary, Grant admits to borrowing much of the style of the show from Blade Runner. Langley claims his character is “a bit of a wimp” and Adams thanks the quality of the lighting for her on-screen attractiveness. With the track recorded, they settle down for a supplementary chat with Ultimate DVD.

“It was fun!” says Adams gleefully. “It’s actually nice to watch it back with the director because obviously an actor never gets to see that. Watching it with Brian, because he’s seen the whole thing from beginning to end, it’s quite interesting to hear his comments on certain things which as an actor you’re not always aware of when you’re doing it.”

“I think the hard thing,” Grant considers, “because there’s so many DVDs out there, is somehow not to be derivative. You want to get the balance right between giving information which people who will watch this are interested in, but not repeating yourself and not saying things that they already know. People are very educated out there now because of this tech-nology, and people who are film buffs know what a green screen is, know what you’re doing, and yet some people don’t. So I think getting that balance is the trickiest bit, without sounding condescending. I always think it’s important you keep a balance between the technical side of things and the character side of things and what the story’s about, or my, as a director, interpretation of the story. Because somebody else directing this would have done something different.”

by Paul Spragg

There's much moe on the special first season DVD release in
Ultimate DVD #72

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, Doctor Who © BBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Ultimate DVD #72, see below for ordering options
Ultimate DVD #72
November 2005
ships from Oct 31 2005
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