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‘Doctor Who’: Things we learned from the BFI’s Ninth Doctor event

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Taking place at BFI Southbank as part of their year-long 50th anniversary celebrations, the screening of ‘Bad Wolf’ and ‘The Parting of the Ways’ was followed by a highly entertaining Q&A session with director Joe Ahearne, producer Phil Collinson and actor Bruno Langley (who played Adam in ‘Dalek’ and ‘The Long Game’).

Here are some of the highlights…

» Phil Collinson: “From the moment we cast Christopher Eccleston people [in the TV industry] changed their expectations of what the show was going to be.”

» Phil Collinson: “If Series 1 [in 2005] had failed that would’ve been it forever [for Doctor Who].”

» Phil Collinson: “There wasn’t a moment when it was actually considered [that Christopher Eccleston would be a rebooted Doctor rather than the 9th Doctor].”

» Phil Collinson: “It felt like we were pioneers. In this country we were making something completely new.”

» Bruno Langley: “It was always going to only be two episode [as Adam].”

» Phil Collinson: “It’s no secret that that first year was difficult.”

» Phil Collinson:  “There was a shot of John Barrowman’s bum [in ‘Bad Wolf’] that we had to cut …  but everybody’s seen it anyway!”

» Phil Collinson:  “I can’t wait to see Matt [Smith] and David [Tennant] together [in the 50th anniversary special]! I was so envious watching that sequence with Clara [at the start of ‘The Name of the Doctor’].”

» Phil Collinson:  “In Russell [T Davies]’s first document he redefined the Doctor with the Time War. It made the Doctor feel more mythical, to be the last of his species.”

» Phil Collinson:  “[At the screening of ‘Rose’] I was sitting behind Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts and they turned around and said ‘we hope this is good because we walked out of the last one’ [the 1996 TV movie].”

» Joe Ahearne: “We shot a fake ending scene [for Series 1’s finale] instead of the regeneration with the Doctor looking at a monitor and discovering that Rose had a fatal illness.”

» Phil Collinson:  “[Paul McGann] was on the first casting list we put together but we felt we had to make this a brand new start.”

» Phil Collinson:  “Russell [T Davies] was told ‘you’ve got to make it a show we can put out at 9pm or a children’s version we can put out at 5pm’.”

» Joe Ahearne: “[Christopher Eccleston] was always a complete and absolute trooper … there were a lot of laughs even though it was tough.”

» Phil Collinson:  “[Getting the rights to use Big Brother, What Not to Wear and The Weakest Link in ‘Bad Wolf’] was a bloody nightmare!”

» Phil Collinson:  “[The almost-regeneration in ‘The Stolen Earth’ being a surprise] made it a better viewing experience. I think the internet should be banned!”

» Phil Collinson:  “We only ever had Christopher Eccleston under contract for one series … [but] what a way to end our first series! Actually there’s something perfect about [him just] doing 13 episodes.”

» Phil Collinson:  “The first cut of ‘Rose’ was 28 minute long with everything we’d shot and that happened with a couple of episodes in that first block. That’s where the ‘coming up next’ [preview trailers at the end] came from! We didn’t want to have them!”

» Christopher Eccleston (via a note): “I love the BFI. I love The Doctor and hope you enjoy this presentation. Joe Ahearne directed five of the thirteen episodes of the first series. He understood the tone the show needed completely – strong, bold, pacy visuals coupled with wit, warmth and a twinkle in the performances, missus. If Joe agrees to direct the 100th anniversary special, I will bring my Sonic and a stair-lift and – providing the Daleks don’t bring theirs – I, the Ninth Doctor, vow to save the universe and all you apes in it.”

The BFI’s 50th anniversary celebrations continue next month with a screening of the Tenth Doctor’s ‘The Stolen Earth’ and ‘Journey’s End’ at 2pm on Sunday 29 September.

> Find out how to buy tickets on the BFI website.

What’s your favourite Ninth Doctor story? Let us know below…

> Order the complete Series 7 boxset on Amazon.