Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Prom: review

Daleks, Cybermen, Doctors (two of them!), the full BBC National Orchestra of Wales...all on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.

1989, when the BBC cancelled the show, never seemed so long ago.

The Doctor Who Prom showcased music from the series before and after the 1989 to 2005 hiatus, with an understandable bias towards the modern era ensuring maximum appeal to the many younger members of the audience. But even the most cynical of old fans would have been chuffed to hear orchestrally blended versions of the mad and fantastic electronica score of Tomb of the Cybermen, the jaunty Parisian-flavoured City of Death and The Five Doctors (among others) performed alongside modern era companion themes, action cues and, of course, the theme tune finale. The Prom also debuted a special Anniversary track which had a harder time to engage as it lacked, by definition, familiarity, but overall this was one to sit back and enjoy the masterful performances of the musicians.

The celebration didn't just take the form of music. Long-term fans of the show were rewarded by stage appearances from Doctor number five Peter Davison ("from the 'classic' era," quipped Davison) and no less than the very first companion – Carole Ann Ford. Large as their cheers were (and they really were), the biggest audience response was reserved for current and outgoing Doctor 11, Matt Smith, and present day companion Clara, Jenna Coleman - both of whom appeared in the (SPOILER) orchestra after a pre-recorded piece filmed for the Prom.

And there were monsters too. Where would Doctor Who be without them? Daleks were saved 'till near the end of the Prom, but the aforementioned Cybermen sprang up among the audience in the aisles (and in the corridors during the interval) with an Ice Warrior, Silurians, the henchmen of the Great Intelligence, Vampires from Venice and a member of the Silence.

Which brings me to the atmosphere of the event. Half way through one performance I received a nudge from the stranger seated next to me, who pointed out a nearby Cyberman stalking the audience, simply to make sure I didn't miss out on the sight. For me, that willingness to make sure fellow fans were enjoying the day to the full summed up the celebratory, inclusive, fun nature of the Prom. The Royal Albert Hall, full of people united in sheer love for the long-running TV show, whether young, old or somewhere in between. Let's face it, if you were there and you weren't a fan, then you really were in the wrong place. Or attending with a loved one.

If you've got access to iPlayer you might still be able to hear the BBC Radio 3 broadcast, but if not then Doctor Who Prom will be broadcast on TV later in the year. In a rare first for Not The Chap In Dracula, here are some pictures:
Matt Smith takes the stage 
Monster action during the interval, courtesy of a Cyberman  
Since taking this photo, it occurs that this Angel is doing a mean Tommy Cooper impression. Without the fez. 
A Cyberman stomps down an aisle  
The chunky TARDIS-shaped programme was a mere £4. Bargain.

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