Broadcast Now has some interesting news today (despite ending up in my Junk mail box).
First up, Nick Jr’s bought the rights to Rainbow! Unfortunately, it won’t be a new series of Rainbow, but the Geoffrey-free final season, which will air as part of a ‘classics’ evening block that includes Bagpuss, Mr Benn, The Wombles, The Clangers and Paddington. All the same, warm fuzzy feelings all round on that one.
Secondly, despite ABC1 already having bought the rights to air it and having turned it down once for being rubbish, More4 has bought the rights to show the awful Commander in Chief once The West Wing has finished. Not so many warm fuzzy feelings on that one. You probably won’t remember my reviewsof it so I’ll just reiterate the main point: even if you’re already a liberal, you’ll end up hating liberals by the end of it, because this is the same kind of warm, fuzzy, unrealistic view of the world that so many of us are afflicted with. Not that conservative TV, like Threat Matrix, is any better, but a hint of Realpolitik might come in handy on US TV some time.
Over the last few months, I’ve been forcing myself to get up to speed with the Big Finish audio stories. My excuse? I have to write about this stuff. Think that’s bad? I have to review 10 episodes of John Thaw’s 1964 military police series Redcap this week.
Anyway, in case you don’t know, the Big Finish plays are officially licensed stories based on Doctor Who, The Tomorrow People, Sapphire and Steel and a whole load of other British ‘telefantasy’ series and books.
What sets Big Finish apart from a couple of teenagers in a bedroom in Hull, enacting something they rattled off in their lunch breaks, is the presence of the original cast members – or a few of them, at least. So The Tomorrow People stories get Nicholas Young (John) et al while the Doctor Who stories have Peter Davison and co as well as some of the original companions. The producers have also managed to get some reasonably heavyweight actors to do guest roles, including David Warner, Susannah Harker, Don Warrington, Sir Derek Jacobi and, erm, Tony Blackburn. Basically, these are professional productions, endorsed by the BBC et al.
So yesterday I’m listening to one particular audio play, Colditz, and I notice a voice that’s very familiar, despite the extremely iffy German accent. Various poorly oiled cogs slip into place and I realise who it is. It’s David Tennant – Doctor number 10 to the uninitiated (although why the uninitiated would have made it this far into this particular blog entry, I don’t know).
Oh dear. I’d been impressed by DT’s acting. As one of my esteemed colleagues on Off The Telly points out, Tennant’s appearance in ‘The Christmas Invasion’ exposed just how naff Christopher Eccleston is as an actor. He’s also good at audio work, having appeared, it turns out, in a ridiculous number of Big Finish productions: he’s particularly good, in case you’re interested, in a couple of the Doctor Who Unbound plays, namely Sympathy for the Devil, in which he’s a swearing Glaswegian colonel who’s hunting The Master (Mark Gatiss); and Exile, in which he’s a posh English Time Lord who’s hunting The Doctor (Arabella Weir. Seriously) .
But German? Oh dear. I’m guessing that Big Finish can’t quite muster the budget for a dialogue coach, but Herr Tennant seems to have headed straight for a bucket of old Monty Python sketches for his research, rather than Berlin. How disappointing. Still, it’s easy-ish money I guess and I don’t suppose they have too many listeners, so he was probably hoping no one would notice.
In case you’re desperately interested in what I think about the Big Finish stories, I’ll natter on about them after the break (since I have no plans on writing about them again on this blog. Oh no).
The US Sci-Fi channel now how its own little Doctor Who site to publicise its premiere of the new series on March 17th. It’s all Christopher Eccleston at the moment, of course, but if you’re a latecomer to Doctor Who, there’s a handy guide at the bottom of the site that gives you useful facts to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Apparently, Tom Baker’s Doctor was the most popular and he wore a scarf.
Do not worry though: it is quite possible to get through life without filling in these gaps.