Have I Got Whos For You

Have I Got Whos For You (Back To School Edition)

I have a book to edit, so let’s keep it brief today, shall we?

In the British press, there is fallout from Donald Trump’s faux pas when meeting the Queen.

Elsewhere, National Beard Day passes without incident, beyond a couple of paradoxes.

In soaps, there is general panic in Holby City when John Gaskell seems about to regenerate.

A leaked still revealing Matt Smith’s role in the new Star Wars film terrorises the internet.

And the absence of any official confirmed Series 11 air date is clearly getting to some of the fans.

And finally: I wanted to test out my new phone camera, and so I did a picture of the Twelfth Doctor and Peri exploring the undergrowth near an abandoned National Trust property, with Spider-Man, the Brigadier and two of the Lord of the Rings fellowship, unaware that they’re about to be attacked by a giant banana riding a space hopper.

You know. As you do.

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Have I Got Whos For You (Summer Special)

Hello lovely people. And how are we doing?

Things have calmed down here a bit now that I’ve got a two week camping trip in Wales under my belt – along with a children’s holiday club and the first of two festivals. We’re in the eye of the storm just before the second one kicks off, and I’m using a couple of days’ respite to catch up on things I’ve not yet posted – beginning with Sooty, who recently celebrated his seventieth birthday.

“What’s that? You want to play your xylophone?”

For the uninitiated: Sooty is a mute glove puppet who speaks only in inaudible whispers. He’s fond of magic, pranks and general mayhem, and had he been created within the last ten years he’d have his own YouTube channel and be the subject of a dozen tabloid scandals: a picture of a soaking, pie-covered Boris Johnson accompanied by the words “HAS SOOTY GONE TOO FAR?”. Sooty is joined on his adventures by a squeaky-voiced dog and a talking panda, as well as whatever hapless human being happens to be looking after him – for years this was creator Harry Corbett, before his son Matthew took over the role, being responsible for the welfare of the exuberant trio and their cousin Scampy during my childhood. Matthew eventually handed the reins to Richard Cadell, and the titular bear is currently residing at Brean Park in Somerset. (Yes, I’ve been.)

Sooty’s been shown in a variety of situations and a variety of formats – the classic sitcom-in-a-house setup is perhaps the most famous, but Sooty’s also run a junk shop, a holiday camp and a hotel (in which Arthur Darvill once stayed). There was also a dreadful animated series, which failed principally because it gave Sweep the voice he’d always been denied, making him more or less unwatchable, but also because it gave the characters legs. I mean, honestly. It’s not the bloody Muppets. There’s a time and a place for these things. There are certain puppet characters who are doomed to be permanently legless.

Do you know who else is having a birthday this year? WALL-E. He turns ten. And he’s probably trundling around the repopulated Earth somewhere, tidying up the rubbish and watching old movies with EVA. They’re probably still trying to grow that pizza plant. When you think about it, WALL-E is basically a film about a binman who falls in love with a gardener, except they go into space and hang out with a bunch of fat people. Still, there’s something to be said for an animated feature where the villain is a wheel and the hero is a box.

I first saw WALL-E a few months after its release, when it came to the Saturday morning £1 bargain presentations at our local Cineworld. I took Josh, who (at the age of four) probably didn’t have a clue what was going on, although he didn’t say anything. He saved that for Megamind, in which he leaned over to me half an hour from the end and said “Daddy, I don’t understand any of this”. I defy any of you with children to adequately explain the plot of Megamind, with its duplicitous characters and twists and endless use of hologramatic disguises, to a six-year-old in a crowded cinema in a whisper. Go on. Try it. And then come back and tell me exactly what you said so that I can save it for when I eventually watch it with Edward.

Anyway. Let’s move on, shall we? To this, to be exact.

I mean, I don’t know. I thought doing a Civil War re-enactment (you see what I did there) would be fun. I know it makes no sense, but it’s just fun. And people seemed to like it – with one exception, who will be anonymised in the transcript that follows. It’s a closed group (of which she’s no longer a member) and I do have standards, so let’s call her, I don’t know, Haylee. She reminded me of a Haylee for some reason. Oh, and I’ve corrected all her typos, because I’m not totally without mercy.

Haylee: Why is Capaldi on the same side as the master? Is it because of his affection for his frenemy it something else I’m missing? (I didn’t get to see the whole season with Bill).

Me: He came like that, and I just couldn’t be bothered to move him over.

Haylee: Then what’s the point of making the image at all if you’re not going to make it properly representative?

Me: It’s not representative of anything. I just did it for a laugh.

Haylee: if there is no reason for Capaldi to be on the same side as the Masters, you have failed to capture a parody of Avengers Civil War. Parodies include juxtaposed meaning, not just similar imagery.

Me: Strewth. And I thought Star Wars fans overthought things.

Haylee: My comments come from being in the graphic design and theatre world where you need to have reasoning behind visual action. We overthink which shade of blue to use.

Me: Then I suspect you need to switch off a bit.

Haylee: Or you can deal with the true definition of parody and accept someone asking for the reasoning for your artistic choices. Simon [who chipped in with a couple of other semi-helpful interpretations about ‘sides’ that I haven’t bothered to include] did a great job of answering my initial question, giving reason to your art, when you ‘couldn’t be bothered.’ Bye Felicia.

Me: It’s not a parody of anything. I just had the idea for the image and picked the first caption that came into my head. If you want to get all authoritarian about the ‘true meaning’ of parody then that’s entirely up to you. I mean, seriously, you sound like the way I used to be. I have found this whole conversation greatly amusing, in an alarming sort of way, because it confirms just about every stereotype in the Joyless Overthinking Fan Handbook, right down to the ‘Bye Felicia’. I shall bring you a nice cup of tea to perk you up during your gatekeeping.

Haylee:  I give no shits from a fan perspective. I give shits from a visual communication perspective. I asked for clarification of the meaning of your image, and you straight up just said you were too lazy to care about creating a piece that was a good parody. You could have just answered “I didn’t think about that- it was just for fun” and that would have been fine. Instead what I heard in your answer was “I did a half ass job and wanted praise for my delicate male ego- how dare you critique my work.”

Our wonderful friend Simon created a wonderful bit of meaning that I thought the image may have been hinting at, adding greater depth to your image.

We can always do better in our craft and our communication. Being unwilling to hear how we can make a craft better is to nurse a weak ego. Creating images that we say hold a specific meaning or goal (in this case, a parody to Avengers Civil War) and then not putting in enough thought to complete the task encourages further mediocrity. It’s fine to say it’s just for fun. It’s fine to say you didn’t think about it. But to be “hey now, get your panty out of your butt – no one gets to give me critiques” is why I say bye Felicia. Again, thanks Justin for being a deep thinker who sees the multiplicities in the charters of this particular fandom. James, Keep making fun images. Keep making connections. Keep improving, even if it’s just a hobby and just for fun. Be willing to listen to people that aren’t me about how you can make your images have clearer and stronger meaning. It’s the creators that make things fun. It’s the collaborators that bring depth.

Me: I’m always up for constructive criticism where I think it improves things. Give me technical info. How could I sort out the interlacing? How could the structure of this piece be changed so it doesn’t drag? What should that caption actually say as it doesn’t read quite right? And how can I fix that annoying pop on the MP3 samples?

Don’t assume, merely because I scoffed at you, that I’m a rampant egomaniac who hates criticism of his work. I’ve been doing this shit since you were in elementary and I got reasonably competent (for an enthusiastic, part-time amateur) at it largely through listening to others. Or what, you think I’m going to tell you one of those hard graft stories where I take all the credit?

I just felt that in this instance you missed the mark. You wax lyrical about this supposedly definitive concept of ‘true parody’ (which has given my friends quite a titter, by the way) but you miss the point that this is purposely ambiguous, silly and – well, itself bereft of a point. This was never meant to be about Civil War. The image came first – or the idea of it – and the caption was something I tagged on because it sort of looked a bit like it, but I don’t really think it does and I don’t think anyone else does either. You’re trying to bring meaning where there is none, which is something fans do a lot, whether they’ve got a background in graphic design or they flip burgers at McDonald’s.

So please don’t assume that I don’t listen to criticism or take constructive comments on board. I just have a filter. A filter is necessary because otherwise you listen to everyone, which leads to the eradication of ego and the death of creativity. You may object to the criteria under which that filter operates, specifically because in this instance it excluded you, but them’s the breaks, and just because you’ve interpreted it in a particular way it does not mean you know me.

TL:DR – Don’t try and give things more significance than they deserve. I don’t get paid for this. Know when to critique and when not to. That’s a lesson I had to learn myself, and my life is richer for the experience.

Strewth. I don’t know why I bother.

Yes. Yes I do.

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Have I Got Whos For You (Bumper Thirteenth Doctor Edition)

It’s just typical, isn’t it? You wait ages for a trailer and two come along at once.

To be fair, one’s not exactly a trailer; it’s more a teaser. Well, not even that. It’s more a bit of a publicity drive for Just Eat. There’s Tosin Cole, tucking into a full English (with sausage and mayo that the entire internet and her grandmother mistook for fish fingers and custard). Mandip Gill finds her pizza mysteriously replenished. And there’s Bradley Walsh, reading his newspaper. Then bang! There’s a bit of lightning and Jodie Whittaker appears. Look at that smile. It’s the sort of smile that says “Yay! I actually get to be the Doctor!” It sort of spreads, casually and steadily, stopping short of being the broad grin you know she’d like to be wearing; it’s understated and restrained, and it spells promise for her performance to come.

It could all have been so different.

When I put that one on Facebook it got a few laughs and also a fair share of abuse, mostly from people who thought I was actually being serious and that she’d be a better choice. It’s 2018, folks, and the irony meter is officially broken. Someone call an engineer. Frank Skinner’s probably got a window.

The full-length trailer proper, of course, launched a few days after the BBC’s World Cup teaser, and promised dingy corridors, period piece drama, sinister forests and alien beaches that look like Cornwall. Plus the Doctor visits an enormous soft play area. No, sorry, wait a moment.

Amidst the trailers: a wave of publicity, and a few photos, including a leaked shot of the new TARDIS.

(Sorry. Not sorry.)

Perhaps most notable is the one in which Jodie Whittaker and her band of merry men appear to be peering down at a glowing object. If you’re of a certain age, it conjures one particular image.

We never did find out what was in that briefcase, did we? There are various theories, mostly centred around the soul of Ving Rhames (which would make sense; nothing else explains why he did I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry). Tarantino sort of agreed with it, which led many people to assume that this was what he really intended all along, or that he was at the very least granting it canonical status, the way social media makes these things explode beyond all proportion. I sort of like the idea of the soul-in-the-box – it fits with the narrative, and it’s basically foreshadowing Se7en – but I can’t help thinking that it’s better if we don’t actually know for sure. The story in your head is always better than the one the writers eventually provide, and the gaps are always more interesting, but try telling that to Doctor Who fans.

Speaking of fans, someone on t’internet took umbrage at this image. “It’s upside down,” she complained. “David Tennant would be disappointed if he saw this.”

What’s upside down? I thought, and then realised she meant the screwdriver. Dagnabbit, she’s right. Truthfully I only put it in there because Tim Roth is holding a handgun and that didn’t seem very Doctor Who, somehow; removing the entire arm necessitated more time than I had so it was easier to Photoshop in a screwdriver. Unfortunately it’s pointing backwards, and I hadn’t noticed, which is the price I pay for doing it in a hurry.

But rule one: never admit that you’re wrong about these things. “What makes you think it’s upside down?” I said.

“The blue bit is supposed to face out.”
“Unless you’re pointing it the other way.”
“Why would they aim it at themselves?”
“I don’t know. Doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, though.”
“Maybe.”

Phew. I think I got away with it.

Anyway, you should be careful of listening too hard to what others think, particularly when it’s your own subconscious doing the talking. For example, a few weeks ago I had a dream that Ted Dewan, creator of Bing Bunny and with whom I’ve had a couple of convivial exchanges, got in touch over Facebook and told me I should redo Cliff Richard as the Thirteenth Doctor. Needless to say, the moment I woke up I went straight to the computer.

Cheers, Ted. Last time I listen to you.

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Have I Got Whos For You (World Cup Edition)

First and foremost:

I mean, it’s not, sadly. I missed a trick; I ought to have got this lot out yesterday, while we still had a chance. But that’s the way it works: if your timing is off, then things go awry, and you miss the train, get hit by the car, or land the TARDIS a year and a day after you left, instead of the morning after.

Veterans among you will remember that – at least in this country – the very first broadcast of ‘Rose’ clashed with the England vs. Northern Ireland match on ITV; a match we eventually won 4-0, after a slow start and an eventual flurry of second half goals. The following day was Sunday, and we were in church. “I don’t know if you watched any TV last night,” said the visiting preacher. “But if you did, you may have witnessed a bunch of lifeless wax figures suddenly wake up and parade menacingly around, causing terror and fear. Or you might have turned off the football and watched Doctor Who instead.”

Anyway, I made this. It took, I don’t know, an hour?

Disclaimer: there is a better version of this idea on the BBC Doctor Who Facebook page somewhere. It’s cleverly edited but sadly unwatchable now, focusing as it does on the idea that we might have actually had a chance at this thing; in the cold grey light of the morning after, the look of ecstatic joy on the face of Jodie Whittaker (who is, in reality, simply staring at her tits) is almost heartbreaking.

There’s a curious irony in some of the fan responses. It’s as if you’re allowed to be obsessed about one thing but not the other. “Ha!” says the Doctor Who fan. “Your fixation with kicking an inflated pigskin around a muddy field is preposterous, unlike my own fixation with a silly science fiction programme about a man in a flying police box.” To which the football fan grunts, or delivers a Glasgow kiss. That’s what they’re like, isn’t it? Violent and monosyllabic, the missing link alive and well and wearing an England shirt?

Look, it’s possible to like both (Gareth Roberts does, and Frank Skinner’s not doing a bad job either) and neither. The nation’s become briefly obsessed with football over the past few weeks because there was a chance there – a slim chance, mind you, but a chance nonetheless – that we might actually make it. It’s the sort of straw you clutch at until it shreds in your hand. Now it’s gone, and we’ll get back to normal. And for those of you who think it’s all pointless and silly, there was a time when we had the same sense of hopelessness about Doctor Who, during the wilderness years when it was off the air. We delude ourselves if we claim to be any different to the Chelsea mob: and no, we don’t stand on top of ambulances, but some of us have sent death threats to the writers, which isn’t so far off. Thirteen years of more or Nu Who has made us remarkably complacent, and we forget that there was a time when we were similarly despairing of the future of the thing we loved, and where the only morsel on offer at a very meagre feast (at least until Big Finish came along) were the odd little sketches, offering laughs, but also glimmers of hope for a revival. Well, except for ‘Dimensions In Time’. That was shit.

Here’s a forfeit: you have to share this post on social media if you, like me, have had a two-week ‘Three Lions’ earworm. I know perfectly well that shake of a head is a lie, by the way. It’s been all over the shop and unless you unplug from the internet (the TV, the radio, British society in general) you have no hopes of avoiding it. It’s even haunted my sleep – although that was probably because a few minutes earlier, Emily had suggested this one.

Sorry. We’ll stop now.

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Have I Got Whos For You (July Edition)

Howdy, peeps. How are we all coping with the hot weather? Anyone fancy an ice cream?

What’s been happening? Well, there’s leaked footage doing the rounds – I’ve seen it, although you will not see a link to it in here – and it’s all very…generic, isn’t it? Whittaker still doesn’t seem to quite inhabit the part yet, at least based on what’s out there – but it is the moment she meets her companions, very much post-regeneration, so it’s all going to be a bit weird. It’s a strange clip to show, in a way, because it won’t silence the haters – although I suspect the only thing that will is gag-shaped.

Anyway, in the absence of a new Doctor Who trailer, I sort of made my own.

 

For some reason or another, news broke of Who North America, situated just outside Indianapolis, and catering to all your Doctor Who merchandising needs, large and small. (They also have a Voyager arcade game, joy of joys.)

They acquired the property back in 2016, but last week that photos began circulating in earnest round social media, so perhaps they’ve only just opened their doors. Of course, it wasn’t long before this happened.

Elsewhere: National Selfie Day came and went.

And finally, news emerges of a brand new spin-off.

Bounce!

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Have I Got Whos For You (Bumper Catch-Up Edition)

It’s been a busy, busy few weeks and poor old Brian of Morbius has suffered a bit. Sorry about that. I feel for you folks, most of whom don’t actually read this anyway. On the plus side I have finally finished the book, although it needs chapter titles (this morning’s job), more footnotes and a whole lot of pruning. Lengthwise it’s currently longer than Prisoner of Azkaban but not quite as long as The Half Blood Prince. I may post a sample chapter here at some point, purely out of vanity.

We have several videos, a couple of think pieces and a stack of memes to get through, so let’s not waste any more time. What’s been happening over the past few weeks? Well, we’ve had several birthdays – notably Ian McKellen and Jojo Siwa, inventor of a particular type of headgear.

Meanwhile poor old Jodie Whittaker didn’t have a birthday, but everyone thought she did – thanks to a mix-up on the internet that she had clarified in an interview that people thankfully managed to drag out when the debate was still raging. If any of you are interested, Jodie shares her presumed birthday with my mother and her real one with me. Make of that what you will.

Catherine Tate also turned fifty recently – at least she might have done. We marked the occasion in Metro with a series of favourite characters, but when I came to post this on Twitter I had a woman contact me to plug her charity (which I suppose I can live with), of which Catherine is patron, and also tell me that I’d got the year wrong. “We got caught out when she turned forty,” she said.

“But there’s no ambiguity here,” I said. “No conflicting information. Every single source says she’s fifty.”

“Well, I’m speaking to her soon,” she said. “So I’ll ask her.”

Which is all fair enough, I suppose. She may be right. In response I’d say that if Wikipedia, IMDB, the Guardian and every single fan site I can find tells me Tate is fifty, then for the purposes of trending she can bloody well be fifty. If I’m wrong I am, at least, in good company.

What else happened? Oh yes, this did.

And, um, this.

No comment.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that David Tennant isn’t the only former Doctor to be accosted by fans at random moments.

The Eleventh Doctor’s been in the news quite a bit, actually, given that news has been announced that they’re bringing back the Celestial Toymaker.

And dodgy story ideas may, indeed, have been the real reason Christopher Eccleston jumped ship.

The big news, of course, was that royal wedding. Which was splendid to watch, although I did get a little uncomfortable with all the virtue signalling on Twitter – “Hey, isn’t it great that black people are at Windsor Castle! Woo hoo!” This all came, I noticed, chiefly from white people – it’s the sort of patronising gumph I saw quite recently in Get Out, which has a bunch of similar scenes where elderly white men tell the young black photographer how much they love Tiger Woods. Don’t get me wrong, it was a thumping good sermon (and wonderful to see all the dignitaries twisting in their seats), but can’t we not just enjoy it on its own terms, rather than looking at the skin tones?

But it occurred to me, when I was watching it, that the Royal Wedding was rather like the unveiling of a new Doctor. Months of speculative buildup and complaining from the naysayers, everyone’s obsessed with the outfit and nobody can figure out how James Corden got involved.

See you next time for more fruity goodness.

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Have I Got Whos For You (Kenneth Horne edition)

This week, a deleted scene from The Last Jedi gives us the crossover the fandom deserves, if not the one it needs.

Elsewhere in the same film, Peter Capaldi makes another unexpected appearance in the caves below the island.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Matt Smith joins David Tennant in revealing the more unusual places fans have accosted him for attention.

And this abandoned concept sequence from the original Star Wars shows that George Lucas had plenty of controversial ideas before Peter Harness did.

d

Happy Star Wars day…

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Have I Got Whos For You (part 978)

This week: as the recent series of The X-Files draws to a close, speculation mounts as to exactly what happened in ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’, and what it could possibly have to do with Doctor Who.

News breaks of Christopher Eccleston’s impending arrival at Comic Con.

And Peter Capaldi turns sixty. To which we say Happy Birthday, sir. May all your camels be fertile, and may the wind be always at your back, except when you’re standing at the edge of the harbour.

D

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Have I Got Whos For You (Vernal Equinox Edition)

I am working on something resembling new content, honest, but I’m also writing a book. So you’re going to have to be patient, OK?

With that in mind, here’s two scenes, sandwiched together. Obviously.

Elsewhere, the Sixth Doctor’s new companion gets a facelift in the wake of a new merger between Panini and Dreamworks.

And there was sad news in the entertainment world yesterday as we learned of the death of Jim Bowen – late of Last of the Summer Wine, but best known for the long-running darts quiz Bullseye. Which, unbeknown to many, once guest-starred Jon Pertwee…

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Have I Got Whos For You (Part 6)

This week, in Whovania, Bill rises to the Tide Pod challenge.

“And you’re sure it’s OK for me to eat this?”

Elsewhere, a deleted scene from ‘The Zygon Inversion’ shows that Peter Capaldi wasn’t on his own in that playground.

A new publicity still from Torchwood does the rounds on social media.

And the Doctor explains to Clara just why he got kicked off that United Airlines flight.

Happy World Book Day!

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