Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"What claptrap!"

My clever uncle Bob has updated his website with details of his latest musical choons. We've swapped notes on our current activities, and in doing so he fondly recalls old-skool, old-man Doctor Who made with cardboard and copydex.

My chums at the BBC Archive are celebrating Doctor Who's 45th birthday with a clear-out of old bits of paper. Learned fellows at the BBC wonder if science fiction might work on the telly and slowly tease out the basis of what might just work as a show...

Here, in 1963, is CE Webber nailing the magic of Doctor Who back before they'd even come up with the TARDIS (except for it's “light-resistant paint”).
“Evidently, Dr. Who's "machine" fulfils mary of the functions of conventional Science Fiction gimmicks. But we are not writing Science Fiction. We shall provide scientific explanations too, sometimes, but we shall not bend over backwards to do so, if we decide to achieve credibility by other means. Neither are we writing fantasy: the events have got to be credible to the three ordinary people who are our main characters, and they are sharp-witted enough to spot a phoney. I think the writer's safeguard here will be, if he remembers that he is writing for an audience aged fourteen... the most difficult, critical, even sophisticated, audience there is, for TV. In brief, avoid the limitations of any label and use the best in any style or category, as it suits us, so long as it works in our medium.”

CE Webber, “Dr. Who” - General Notes on Background and Approach, 1963.

Clever old Red Scharlach notes wryly, of the Audience Research Report for the very first episode, that fans have not changed a great deal in 45 years. The BBC have made a lively, exciting and fun TV show with astounding, broad appeal? What in the name in jibbering flip were they thinking?

These documents are well-known to us fans who stuck it out in the Dark Times; they were picked over in the First Doctor Handbook and the pages of DWM, and then used in the excellent Beginnings DVD documentary. But how fab to see the original bits of paper, tatty and scribbled on and real.

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