Waiting for the signal to arise

"Tomb of the Cybermen" panel at the BFI

Last month I wrote about the BFI’s screening of “An Unearthly Child”, the first ever Doctor Who story. This month it was the turn of the second Doctor and the story chosen to represent that era of the show was Tomb of the Cybermen. Lost from the BBC archives for twenty years and believed wiped, the story has always had a mystique within fandom as a lost classic. When it was rediscovered in 1992 some people were underwhelmed but not me.

James at the Doctor Who Podcast had bagged great seats in the third row, which gave us a great view of Frank Skinner and Steven Moffat as they introduced the screening. Frank revealed his true fan colours and even remembered the first episode being broadcast fifty years ago. Moffat’s words, “everything we do [in modern Doctor Who] today is to try and recapture the feeling you get from watching this story” were perfect. The man should be a writer or something. It was good to see the current production team continuing to support the screenings. As well as SteMo, sitting right behind us were Caroline Skinner, Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith and Edward Russell.

I’m starting to think Doctor Who should always be watched on a massive screen with a few hundred other people. Impractical, yes, but jolly exciting. Whilst the shortcomings of some of the effects, most notably the cybermats, were made very clear, the atmosphere was great. Patrick Troughton’s performance was superb, as were the other regulars and supporting cast.

During a hiatus caused by a failed tape machine, Michael Troughton talked briefly about his father Patrick. After the last episode, there was a discussion panel. Pictured above, L-R, are Michael Ferguson (60’s and 70’s Who director), Anneke Wills (Polly), Bernard Holley (Haydon), Deborah Watling (Victoria), Shirley Cooklin (Kaftan), Michael Kilgarrif (Cybercontroller). Although this panel didn’t have the energy of last month’s, it still threw up a few interesting pieces of information.

Afterwards James, Ian (also from the DWP), Chris (from the Oodcast) and I recorded another special review of the screening, huddled against the cold in one of the more welcoming stairwells on the south bank. And then there was pizza, in the warm. I’ve been lucky enough to secure a ticket for the third screening next month too, thanks to James. So next stop, “The Mind of Evil.”


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