The BBC is not about to let the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who go by without significant fanfare. In fact, there’s so much programming to celebrate the occasion that it requires a press release to keep track of it all.
The biggest reveal comes in the form of a poster featuring Doctors Matt Smith and David Tennant looming above John Hurt, who’s surrounded by smoke, fire, dead Daleks and “Bad Wolf” graffiti. Better yet, the piece officially announces the title of the 75-minute 50th anniversary special: “The Day of the Doctor.”
Aside from that and a few quotes about how great the franchise is from the participants, the main thrust of the release involved letting the world know all the official festivities revolving around the Nov. 23 special.
BBC Two will broadcast a number of new commissions, focusing on telling the story behind the show. For one night only, Professor Brian Cox will take an audience of celebrity guests and members of the public on a journey into the wonderful universe of the Doctor, from the lecture hall of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1x60mins). Drawing on the latest theories as well as 200 years of scientific discoveries and the genius of Einstein, Brian tries to answer the classic questions raised by the Doctor – can you really travel in time? Does extra-terrestrial life exist in our galaxy? And how do you build something as fantastical as the TARDIS?
In an hour-long special, BBC Two’s flagship arts program The Culture Show presents ‘Me, You and Doctor Who’ (1x60mins), with lifelong fan Matthew Sweet exploring the cultural significance of the BBC’s longest running TV drama, arguing that it’s one of the most important cultural artifacts of modern Britain. Put simply, Doctor Who matters. He’ll examine how the show has become a cultural force in its own right and tell the stories of some of the unsung cultural heroes, who pioneered its innovative music, design and storytelling.
BBC Two wraps up its coverage with the previously announced ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’ (1x90mins), which will tell the story of the genesis of Doctor Who and the many personalities involved. Written by Mark Gatiss the drama stars; David Bradley (the Harry Potter films); Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Identity), Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) and Sacha Dhawan (History Boys, Last Tango in Halifax).
BBC Four will introduce audiences to the first Doctor, William Hartnell, with a special re-run of the first ever story, which marked the start of 50 years of history. The four episodes are being shown in a restored format, not previously broadcast in the UK.
There will also be programmes across CBBC with 12 Again (1x30mins) bringing together CBBC’s super fan Chris Johnson, impressionist Jon Culshaw, Tommy Knight (Luke Smith), Warwick Davis (Porridge), Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra), Dan Starkey (Strax) Louise Jameson (Leela) and the Seventh Doctor; Sylvester McCoy, to share their memories of watching TV’s top Time Lord when they were young.
While Blue Peter will launch an exciting new competition giving viewers aged between six and fourteen the opportunity to design a new gadget that will become part of the iconic science fiction series. Two live Blue Peter specials will see presenters Barney, Lindsey and Radzi joined by aliens and monsters, with viewers challenging Matt Smith to answer their Doctor Who questions.
BBC Three will be home to several exciting entertainment commissions. Audiences will be encouraged to get involved and vote in ‘Doctor Who: Monsters and Villains Weekend’, as we countdown to the top Doctor Who monster. For those less familiar with the show, ‘Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide’ will introduce fans and viewers to a wealth of archive material and act as a guide to all things Who. A further exciting commission to be announced later this year will see the celebrations finish with a bang.
That won’t be all, however: BBC Radio 2 will also broadcast a documentary called Who is the Doctor, The Blagger’s Guide to Doctor Who and Graham Norton reporting live from the Doctor Who celebration in London. Meanwhile Radio One will play an hour of Time Lord Rock, and Radio 4 Extra will air a documentary called Who Made Who?
As we learned in July, the BBC has worked it out so that “The Day of the Doctor” will air simultaneously all over the world on Nov. 23.