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The Main Event: Doctor Who Live

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FOLLOWERS of a certain vintage will remember that, whenever Doctor Who took a lengthy break between seasons (or 'series' as we called them then), making a tangible connection with your favourite show was limited to just three options.

At home you could devour the monthly Doctor Who magazine and Target novelisations. More excitingly, you could travel further afield and visit the official Doctor Who exhibition in Blackpool, where before your astonished eyes an empty Cyberman costume would stand doing nothing. Or if you were really desperate, you could attend one of those ropey summer season stage shows - starring a jobbing ex-Doctor if you were lucky - which were more like panto than an exciting adventure in time and space.

But with the rejuvenated Doctor Who now one of the BBC's biggest and most lucrative brands, its live spin-offs are far more impressive than before. Honestly, you kids today don't know how lucky you are.

Rolling into nine major cities across the UK, Doctor Who Live: The Monsters Are Coming! is a lavish arena-sized spectacular featuring many of the new (as opposed to "classic") show's most popular monsters, including the Ood, Judoon, Weeping Angels and, of course, the Cybermen and Daleks. Plus the good Doctor himself, in the guise of current incumbent Matt Smith, will be popping up throughout in exclusively recorded clips on an enormous video screen. Sounds like fun, no matter what age you are.

"The show is a celebration of Doctor Who," explains Craig Stanley, event producer and BBC Worldwide's general manager of live entertainment. "My brief was very simple: we've got to add something to the television experience."

What they've added, according to Stanley, are "a concert sound system, lasers, fireworks, pyrotechnics and various other special effects. It's quite a spectacle."

"Visually it's very rock 'n' roll," says composer and executive music producer Murray Gold, whose popular incidental music from the TV series - including the iconic Doctor Who theme itself - provides the show's score. Rearranged for a 16-piece live band "in a sort of rock music setting", Gold's music is an integral part of the revived franchise. "It has taken on a life of its own," he admits, sounding somewhat bemused by the phenomenon.

"A lot of the time, when I was suggesting music to the director of this show, I just linked him up to YouTube and said 'Look at this, this has had 85,000 hits for a piece of incidental music.'"

Based upon an original idea by Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat, it's described by Stanley as "a show within a show" in which a new character called Vorgerson (Nigel Planer), the son of Vorg from the classic 1973 adventure, The Carnival of Monsters, uses a fantastical gizmo called the Minimiser to conjure up a host of characters from the series. "In front of the audience's eyes, all of these things appear, monsters and memories and film and music and everything to do with his hero, the Doctor," says Stanley.

But naturally, everything goes horribly wrong when "an evil force" takes control of the Minimiser. Who could that be, I wonder? "We don't like to tell anyone this but, of course, it's the Daleks behind everything."

The show is an extravagant extension of previous live events, including recent Prom performances at the Albert Hall, in which Gold's music was accompanied by monsters marauding throughout the audience.

Stanley explains: "It was always absolutely essential that we come off the front of the stage, so that even those who may be further from the stage will actually have monsters up close to them."

There is something quite delightful about seeing a child's reaction to confronting these larger-than-life creatures in glorious 3D. "It's sort of shock and awe," says Stanley. "You see something as simple as ten people getting into a bunch of theatrical suits," says Gold, "and you think, 'This isn't going to scare them.' And they come out and people are terrified! Half the children have to be persuaded by their parents to remain in the theatre!"

Nevertheless, Stanley is keen to assure parents that the show isn't too scary for younger children. "It has tension and jeopardy, but I don't want to go over the top in scaring people. I'm very mindful of getting the scariness at the right level for the audience because the monsters have an incredible energy."

SECC, Glasgow, Friday until 17 October, 0844 395 4000

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  • APA 6th ed.: Whitelaw, Paul (2010-10-10). The Main Event: Doctor Who Live. Scotland on Sunday p. 3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Whitelaw, Paul. "The Main Event: Doctor Who Live." Scotland on Sunday [add city] 2010-10-10, 3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Whitelaw, Paul. "The Main Event: Doctor Who Live." Scotland on Sunday, edition, sec., 2010-10-10
  • Turabian: Whitelaw, Paul. "The Main Event: Doctor Who Live." Scotland on Sunday, 2010-10-10, section, 3 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The Main Event: Doctor Who Live | url= | work=Scotland on Sunday | pages=3 | date=2010-10-10 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 July 2024 }}</ref>
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