Everyone relax - Catherine Tate is still amazing
The Doctor and Donna reunited at the BFI
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Everyone lamenting the fact that it’s October already - yes, only three months until Christmas - should be sadder even still. Ten months into the year means we’re ten Doctors into the brilliant monthly BFI celebration of the best television show in the world, Doctor Who.
These events, one per month celebrating each Doctor – with a screening of a classic story followed by guests from the show in conversation – have now become so popular that queues for returns are out the door. People from all eras of Doctor Who turn up not because they’re in it, simply because the atmosphere is so incredible. And, of course, the adulation from the fanbase is palpable. And wonderful, and so loving.
So it’s sad that only two more events remain, for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor (and his utterly fabulous companion, Grace, played by Daphne Ashbrook) this coming Saturday 6th October, and a final hurrah for Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor in November. There’s also a screening of Mark Gatiss’ drama about the origins of the series, Adventures in Space and Time, taking place on 12 November but, as we fans have to be prickly about such things, that’s not canonical. But it’s so absolutely bloody brilliant that people are going to be weeping from every orifice, much like Wanda Ventham in Time and the Rani.
Sunday afternoon saw a screening of Catherine Tate’s final (full) episodes, The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End, with the lady herself in attendance. Oh, and some guy with a massive ponytail calling himself David Tennant.
Call me a sentimental old thing - with less of the old - but this celebration of all things Russell T Davies still makes me cry. It’s epic, it’s hardcore sci-fi, it’s heartbreaking and it’s utterly, utterly brilliant. And it went out on prime time Saturday night TV to over ten million viewers. RESULT.
The Doctor’s ‘children of time’, the army that he has unwittingly built, are never more fantastic and Julian Bleach steals every scene as Davros.
But it’s Catherine Tate’s last scenes as Donna - having to have her mind wiped of all her time with the Doctor in order to survive - that ultimately stomps on my stoney heart.
A far cry from Catherine herself, who was clearly having a whale of a time with the audience in the panel following the episodes. It’s obvious that the Doctor Who fans love her - and rightly so. She’s earned her stripes - but both she and David attribute a lot of the success to Russell T Davies, who couldn’t attend as he was presenting Julie Gardner with a Welsh BAFTA that day.
Highlights of the Q&A included David mocking people sat at home in their bedrooms, hammering away at a keyboard and ranting to the internet that things shouldn’t change. Yes, it’s a dig at certain corners of fandom, but it’s unfortunately true.
Catherine couldn’t recall what the Sontarans were called, thinking they were actually the Sultanas. And that, when filming with them, it wasn’t until cut was called that she realised there were real people inside them.
My personal highlight was her slight slip at referencing the episode she was in with Anthea Turner - when she meant Agatha Christie.
She knew what she was doing and the audience lapped it up - and quite right too.
Try and grab your chance to attend the remaining events, the anniversary year is sure to go out with a bang at the BFI.
Details of future events here.