Last night, I went to the press launch for Doctor Who Series Three, at The Mayfair in London. As Who series launches have previously been held in Cardiff, the shift to our fine capital brought noticeably more celebrities out of the woodwork. So the bash and screening was attended by the likes of Jonathan Ross (and kids), Catherine Tate, Dawn French, Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale, no less), Tracy Ann Oberman, Maggot from Goldie Lookin Chain, DJ Jo Whiley, and show-stars David Tennant and Freema Agyeman. There was also a fine selection of Who-related writers in evidence, such as Steven Moffat, Paul Cornell, Gareth Roberts, Tom McCrae and of course show-runner Russell T Davies.
After an hour of free booze, there was a screening of the new series’ first two episodes: Smith & Jones (written by Davies) and The Shakespeare Code (by Gareth Roberts). They’re both excellent. Smith & Jones is bonkers and very sci-fi, with several imaginative ideas colliding in one hospital. As its title suggests, the second episode is set in 1599 and sees the Doctor and new companion Martha Jones meeting the Bard. It’s some testament to this tale that I love it, despite hating Shakespeare’s work. The scripts for both of these stories are razor-sharp, often having the packed audience roaring with laughter. In the right places.
After the screening, Russell chaired a press conference with David and Freema. Here are some edited highlights…
Journo: “Does the Doctor get married in Series Three?”
Russell: “Well, there we are. All suspense gone!”
David: “It’s hard to explain, without pontificating wildly, but yes, he does.”
Young audience member: “Did Tracy Ann Oberman get sucked into the void at the end of Series Two?”
David: “Possibly. Would you like to see her again?”
Young audience member: “Yes.”
David: “She’s on The Weakest Link, on Thursday.”
Jonathan Ross: “Doctor Who has got to be made into a movie. Any plans?”
Russell: “I haven’t got time for breakfast, let alone a Who movie.”
Jonathan: “Don’t be so lazy.”
Russell: “One day, it’ll happen. Give us the money, then!”
Jonathan: “I’m funding the Primeval movie.”
Journo: “Will you ever go back in time and meet Jesus?”
Russell: “Every year, I hand that script in…”
Other memorable moments included Adam Woodyatt looking comically affronted when Doctor Who was described as “the BBC’s flagship show”, the long pause when a South Wales Echo reporter asked what the best thing about working in South Wales was, and Russell explaining that John Barrowman couldn’t be present tonight because “he’s off whoring somewhere”.
Afterwards, the free booze naturally continued to flow. I met Maggot and discovered that (a) he’s very tall indeed and (b) he’s a very nice man. I thought he came across well on Celebrity Big Brother 2006 and was delighted to tell him so, over several glasses of wine.
Continuing the fun at a Kensington hotel with script editor Helen Raynor, Doctor Who Magazine’s Tom Spilsbury and SFX’s irrepressible Steve O’Brien, among other lovely people, was clearly gratuitous. I’m paying for it today, as I cry blood at my desk. But hey, it’s Doctor Who. I’ll suffer almost anything for it…