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Doctor Who: Tales Lost in Time

Review by: 
Black Gloves
Release Date: 
Odeon Entertainment
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Neil Sean
David Tennant
Russell T. Davies
John Barrowman
Sylvester McCoy
Peter Davison
Bottom Line: 

This hour long compilation of sound bytes and interview clips gleaned from a variety of TV sources such as comments hastily snatched from interviews at red carpet premiers, truncated excerpts from promotional press junkets and a couple of lengthier interviews conducted in what look like regional TV studios,  is one of the more curious pieces of non-official DOCTOR WHO ephemera out there. This release is in no way associated with the BBC or its extensive DVD/Blu-ray and merchandising range, so there is no official DOCTOR WHO logo on the cover and no contribution at all from current show runner Steven Moffat, or from the present regular cast of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. The bulk of the hour is taken up with an interview with the seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy and a couple of slightly shorter ones with fifth Doctor Peter Davison and TORCHWOOD regular John Barrowman. These, along with several showbiz style interviews with companion Noel Clark and guest star Sophia Myles, are conducted by someone called Neil Sean who, far from being a DOCTOR WHO expert or television academic, turns out to be the former showbiz correspondent for the Sky channel (which is probably the source for 90% of the material here), who also writes gossip and showbiz columns for a number national tabloids in the UK and is now Royal correspondent for FOX News!  

We’ll return to Mr Sean later, but another thing to mention about this release is that though the names of the tenth Doctor David Tennant and former show runner Russell T. Davies adorn the cover in large type font, their contributions are minimal and superficial, each of them confined to snatched comments given during crowded media events when a microphone has been shoved in front of their faces. In the case of Simon Pegg (who is flagged up as a contributor at the start), his sole contribution to the disc is a three second grumble about only turning up at such an event in the first place because his son wanted to see a Dalek. The opening titles set the general tone: they look like the kind of thing you see on a corporate training video and consist of a montage of classic DOCTOR WHO opening title sequences with video generated graphics superimposed over the top and cheesy, generic library music burbling pleasantly underneath.

We get a few brief clips  near the start of David Tennant  and Russell T. Davies, both of whom seem to be attending what looks like a Doctor Who press screening, and managing to sound upbeat and enthusiastic despite an unseen, superior-sounding female reporter trying to get Tennant to dis the show’s ‘obsessive’ fans. The actor claims he is one of them himself and then goes on to praise the show for the diversity of guest stars it attracts these days. He also looks ahead to his own eventual departure (this was still when he had a few years left to go) and expresses confidence that the show will continue just as strongly without him. Russell T. Davies talks about the filmmaking expertise in Cardiff and how the city has now been made a tourist attraction, and when Sean tells him that he’s ‘put Cardiff on the map’ he responds waspishly, ‘I think you’ll find it was already there; I’ve got a map from 1952 – it’s definitely on it!’ Next up, Neil Sean interviews Graham Cole. Until 2009, Cole was best known for his role in “The Bill” but during the 1980s he often appeared in DOCTOR WHO in un-credited roles as Cybermen and Marshmen and in “The Keeper of Traken”, as the granite-faced Malkur. Here Cole talks affectionately about his nervousness at acting with the formidable Tom Baker for the first time during rehearsals for “Full Circle” at BBC Television Centre.

Rula Lenska appeared in the Peter Davison adventure “Resurrection of the Daleks” in 1984.In this brief interview she talks about the persistence of DOCTOR WHO fandom but mostly about her cult 1975 show “Rock Follies”. Noel Clarke played Rose’s boyfriend Micky from 2005-2006 (with the occasional guest return appearance thereafter) and talks here about his decision to retire from the convention circuit for the time being (not surprising as he’s now a successful writer and director in his own right as well as actor) and about his DOCTOR WHO action figure. The centre piece of the disc is a fairly extensive interview with Sylvester McCoy, conducted on the studio set for Westminster Live for some reason. This is actually a pretty interesting look at McCoy’s unusual beginnings in the acting profession, so if you’re a fan of the seventh Doctor then this might justify buying the disc. McCoy fell into acting by accident after leaving a job as an insurance executive in the City of London and winding up working in the box office at the Roundhouse when the actor Brian Murphy (“George and Mildred”) was also a ticket collector there! It was Murphy who got McCoy his break by recommending him for the Ken Campbell Roadshow where he perfected his knack for physical comedy. McCoy turns out to be full of fascinating stories including one of being unceremoniously muscled out of a scene in John Badham’s 1979 version of “Dracula” (starring Frank Langella) by Laurence Olivier! McCoy talks about his upcoming role in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” and expresses hope that the coming 50th anniversary of DOCTOR WHO will see all the Doctors re-united on screen.

There’s a brief interview with Paul McGann in which he talks about how it took a year for his agent to persuade him to appear in the 1996 TV movie but that although the mooted series never materialised he thinks the film helped kick-start the momentum that saw the show eventually make it back onto TV screens in 2005. Sophia Myles played Madame de Pompadour in the 2006 episode “The Girl in the Fireplace” and is briefly interviewed here as part of a press junket for her 2007 film Hallam Foe. Adam Garcia appeared in the Christmas 2005 episode “The Christmas Invasion” and talks about how he managed to get himself a role in this, David Tennant’s debut. John Barrowman talks passionately about the acceptance of gay characters on the show and how he sees it as being a breakthrough that his character Jack Harkness was made an openly gay action hero without it being made a massively big deal. Finally Peter Davison talks about his career and how he took some persuading to take on the role of the Doctor at the time because he thought he was far too young for it. He also talks about the cult surrounding his previous show, “All Creatures great and Small”, which regularly received upwards of 18 million viewers, and how it helped prepare him for the media attention he was subject to after being announced as Tom Baker’s replacement in the role of the fifth Doctor.

This disc has a few items that will be of interest to fans then, but generally the approach taken here is very much that of the superficial showbizy kind of thing you expect from brief promotional spots on morning TV shows and the like. Neil Sean is rather an unctuous, Alan Partridge-like presence throughout the various encounters, and placing the clips back-to-back serves more to emphasise his formulaic approach to interviewing rather than providing a diverse set of portraits from across the show’s fifty year history; mainly his technique revolves around constant flattery and the quoting of facts and figures he’s got from perusing the IMDb. His knowledge of the show is often amusingly sketchy despite repeatedly claiming to various participants that he’s a big fan. During the interview with Sylvester McCoy for instance, he tries to talk about the actor’s regeneration sequence, which was shot for the TV movie’s hand-over to Paul McGann, but can’t bring the term ‘regeneration’ to mind and mutters something instead about ‘that extinguish … thing … remodel? … whatever!’ Another amusing foible that is revealed when you watch the whole disc, is that Sean repeatedly claims to have ‘grown up with’ Pertwee’s Doctor then dipped back in when Sylvesyer McCoy took over the role because he was such a big fan of Bonnie Langford (of all reasons to start watching again!), but then in the Peter Davison interview, he claims ‘you were always my Doctor’, despite having difficulty in recalling his name during an interview shown earlier in the disc!

This disc is a rather oddly thrown-together mish-mash of a cash-in on DOCTOR WHO fandom’s constant  need for ever more product with which to satiate its ravenous hunger for all things Time Lord related, but I suspect all but the most non-discerning fan will be rather disappointed with the quality of what’s on offer. This is really a release for completests only. There are no extra features but the scene selection does allow you to cut to each of the interview segments.

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