Saturday, 22 March 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Trailer, Bernard Cribbins and canonicity

Not long to wait now -- 5 April is confirmed as the date for the fourth series of new Doctor Who and the full minute and a half trailer aired tonight on BBC1. It had only previously been shown in cinemas. I love the fact that there is now such a buzz around Doctor Who that a new trailer actually gets a time slot on the schedule, apparently tonight on BBC1 at 7.00pm. There's a high quality version on Youtube:

It is great to see Bernard Cribbins apparently playing a key role in the new series. I've always been fond of him; feel like I grew up watching and hearing him, whether in The Railway Children film, or voicing The Wombles, or starring in the second of the two 1960s Doctor Who movies starring Peter Cushing as the doctor. In fact, I began to wonder whether Bernard Cribbins could possibly be playing the same role as the one played in Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 AD (1966), but it seems that his character in that film was called Tom Campbell whereas his character in the new Doctor Who is Wilfred Mott. And no, there aren't even any interesting anagrams you can do with those two names, so it does seem to be a new character.

I suppose it would give some hard core fans apoplexy if there were continuity between the new series and the two 1960s Peter Cushing films, since the "canonicity" of the latter is disputed. Personally, I'd love to see the lines of demarcation between canonical and non-canonical Doctor Who getting a bit more blurred. I have always maintained that Cushing was a different actor playing the first doctor, so there are no problems about canonicity. (After all, Richard Hurndall also played the first doctor in "The Five Doctors", so we should not get confused between the actor and his role). My dad always points out, though, that Cushing's doctor was more similar to the later third doctor (Jon Pertwee, 1970-4); perhaps Pertwee was influenced by that portrayal. And of course there is one other major link between the new Doctor Who and the 1960s films, the way that the outer door of the Tardis leads straight into the main console room, something we have never seen in the TV series until now.

We first met Wilfred Mott in the recent Christmas special, "Voyage of the Damned". In the new trailer, Donna (Catherine Tate) addresses him as "Gramps". Is he her actual grandfather or is this just the endearing way of addressing an old man? Time will tell, I suppose. But why is Wilf clearly in the right place at the right time, first in London just at the moment when the doctor and Astrid arrive on Christmas day, and now talking to Donna?


Alan in Belfast said...

Not that I normally around professor of systematic theology, but a couple of Saturday mornings ago I found myself chatting to one before a half day conference.

He asked "So what's your doctrine of time?"

Turned out later that he'd decided to talk a bit that morning about time, and our connectedness back through protestant lineage, back to Jesus and on back to Abraham etc.

But I didn't know that at the time he asked.

So instead I answered (glibly):

"I'm more of a Doctor Who man myself"

And we chatted for ages about the new series - he'd seen the original episode on TV with Susan in the scrapyard, but hadn't seen any of the new stuff. And by the end, he was pondering the crossover between his day-to-day world of theology and a big understanding of the universe and human behaviour that you can get from Doctor Who!

James F. McGrath said...

Mark, you'll find this recent news item interesting.