Doctor Who: Anatomy of a Hit | RTS event by student Bryony Hooper

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It was Friday night and I got a direct message on Twitter, I heard the notification on my phone but I ignored it as it was raining and I was on my way home. Once I had got in I looked at my phone and it turned out I had won a pair of tickets to Doctor Who: Anatomy of a Hit in London (for 11 Nov)! I do admit I had a fan girl moment. I had only entered on the off chance and I had actually won. Now to spend more money – buying train tickets.  It was Tuesday, the day had finally arrived. I got my train down to London, met my Dad (who I had given the other ticket to) and we were off. WE walk past The Guardian building, which felt like an honour in itself somehow, and arrived at 90 York Way. We walked in and there was a queue to go downstairs so we waited, for what felt like forever. Then finally a woman gave the signal and we went down. For some reason everyone who I thought was there for business got up and followed us down, mainly middle aged men, I only saw 2 people that were dressed head to toe in Doctor Who gear who I would class as hard core whovians, weird.  As we were registering 2 people came round dressed as monsters from the show. I got some brilliant pictures of them!

Then finally we were allowed in. The scene was brilliant; a weeping angel and a dalek were on stage. I got a seat, 5 rows from the front right in the middle. Then Moffat came on and my life was complete.

The whole panel was made up of Steven Moffat head writer and executive producer, Executive producer Brian Minchin, Producer Nikki Wilson, Rob Mayor who was a animatronics specialist and Ben Wheatly who directed the first two episodes of series 8. To be in a room of that many creative people from one of my favourite shows was amazing. They all had very interesting things to say and throughout the whole thing there was never a dull moment. The chair of the panel was Boyd Hilton who was very good at getting some good answers from the panel, he even tried to get an exclusive on the next series but they weren’t telling anything.

I went prepared with 3 questions; where do you get your inspiration from? Do you purposely set out to break people’s hearts? And what is the writing process like? All 3 of my questions were asked before I actually got to ask one but that to me meant they were all good questions for a good panel. The answer to my first question was actually asked by Boyd but not in so many words. Moffat gets his inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. For example he read the book ‘Time Travellers Wife’ and fell in love with it so much so he wrote ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ as a direct response to that. The answer to my next question was asked by another member of the audience when enquiring about Osgood, the character who had just been killed off in the last episode of series 8. (Spoilers to anyone who hasn’t watched it!) But she brilliantly phrased it as ‘As the fandom we have identified with Osgood as being a representation of the fandom within the show itself, why have you killed her off, is that how you feel towards the fandom?’ I have never seen a person so scared of a question before. Moffat immediately apologised, saying that he doesn’t know who the fandom identify with and in order for Missy to become the most evil Master there has been, she needed to kill off someone who we all like and loved in a heartless way. In which all makes sense, but it is weird how Moffat doesn’t know who the fandom relates to. My final question was again asked by Boyd, Moffat made a joke and said that he would begin writing as soon as this panel was over. But in all serious he was almost telling the truth. He has already started work on series 9 episodes 1. The Producer Nikki Wilson also explained that they had lined up all the writers for series 9 already. Things move fast. Brian Minchin explained that even though series 8 had just finished broadcast on Saturday, by the Monday morning they were already having a meeting about the next series.

There were other questions asked, some slightly more weird than others, for example one person asked if there was going to be a Sherlock and Doctor Who crossover. Official scoop, there will be no crossover! He said it would never be as good as you want it to be. Other questions that were asked were about the regeneration process. An audience member didn’t fully understand what had happened was it a new cycle or is it a one-off what is happening? Moffat calmly said; ‘has this been worrying you?’ This was possibly the most patronising yet brilliant answer that he could have said! But the answer was if the show is popular and still going there will always be a Doctor and he will always regenerate. Another one was about target audience and whether Moffat writes with a certain target audience in mind. For example the show is broadcast on primetime Saturday night, lots of different people would be watching how do you pick out an audience from that? He simply pointed at himself. He writes for himself. He writes what he thinks is good for the show and somehow that entertains millions. That is a very interesting factor, as I had believed that for a while it felt like they were aiming the show at young boys, but apparently not!

One of the final questions was about the viewing figures and whether that bothered Moffat that the overnight figures were seemingly going down. Again another side to Moffat, he did get a bit angry at this point and simply explained that the overnight figures are different to the overall figures people are still watching Doctor Who, but the way they are watching is changing. The viewing figures haven’t changed since they brought back the show and in America they have even gone up! He must have given a very good answer as this made BBC news the next day! Even fan sites were commenting on this. There were some wonderful insights to the show such as Moffat believe that once everyone put the name of Peter Capaldi to the Doctor they were set on it so much that everyone believe it and when he was announced, everyone put a lot of effort into being surprised.

BryonyHooper_TARDIS_DoctorWhoOnce the panel had finished we walked out and they had built a Tardis, which made the event a little more special and when I was admiring it I managed to get a smile off the chief executive of the Royal Television Society. I fully enjoyed the experience and I am so happy that I won this amazing experience. I tweeted to the RTS and they favourite it, another little highlight. All I can say is if you have the opportunity to go to something that you love do it. And enter competitions it can’t hurt and you might win!