A compilation of footage from this then unfinished story (from the television series Doctor Who (1963)) was released on BBC Video, introduced by and with to camera linking material from Tom... See full summary »
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Richard E. Grant,
Being American, I was unable to watch this 4-part, 30-minute skit in all its PAL-encoded glory. Instead, I watched it in the grainy RealVideo version provided for a short time by the BBC. I was blown away.
Astonishingly, this comedy sketch captured the essence of "Doctor Who" better than the 1996 film (although Paul McGann's performance was magnificent, the rest of the film was mediocre). There are cheap sets, identical corridors to run down, backstory to be related by the Doctor, popular old villains (including the Master and the Daleks), the TARDIS.... Even the music was genuine, recycled from many old "Doctor Who" episodes.
Plus, this skit had quite possibly the most star-studded cast "Doctor Who" will ever have. And they were all working for free.
Rowan Atkinson played the Ninth Doctor surprisingly straight; if the series does pick up again, he'd be an admirable choice for the part. Julia Sawalha portrays his companion (and fiancee!) Emma, a classic Who companion who manages to never look stupid when she asks the Doctor to explain the situation. The incomparable Jonathan Pryce plays possibly the hammiest Master yet, with strong shades of Anthony Ainley showing through. And as beautiful as the past voices of the Master might be, Pryce has a real gift in his voice for playing villains.
In the last episode, the Doctor regenerates repeatedly, showing us Richard E Grant (the Doctor has now been played by both Withnail *and* I!), Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and, of course, Joanna Lumley. All characterizations of the Doctor, although done for laughs, are flawless. The Daleks are their usual horrid selves.
This skit was the highest-rating portion of the Comic Relief marathon. Perhaps this should tell the BBC something? For instance, it could tell them they *don't* have to do a big-budget "Doctor Who" to satisfy their audience!
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