Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityExtraMattSmithJNT-300Now that new Doctor Who is no longer gracing our screens on a weekly basis, Verity! is back to our usual schedule. That means a “proper” episode every-other-week, but fear not! We’ll have a little something for you in the off-weeks as well. This off-week it’s more than little–it’s an extra-long Extra!

Join Deb, Erika, Kat, Lynne, and Tansy as we cover the departure of our beloved Matt Smith and then tackle Richard Marson’s headline-making book JN-T: The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner. If you’d like to take Tansy’s advice and search out more podcastey goodness covering the book, check out Radio Free Skaro’s interview with Richard Marson.


Download or listen now (runtime 56:53) 

Comments on: "Verity! Extra! – Matt Smith, Adieu and JN-T Ado" (25)

  1. I think hindsight is 20/20. If you compare the Doctor Who that was produced/aired while TNG was on (Wikipedia says TNG started in late September of 1987 and the original run of Doctor Who ended in December of 1989) you find most fans like the tail end of Doctor Who better than the beginning of TNG.

    I haven’t seen much of the Seventh Doctor but I’m a Trekkie who agrees with the internet consensus that TNG didn’t get /good/ until the 3rd season at the earliest, which didn’t start production until the Summer of 89. Most of the 1st/2nd seasons are avoided if not derided, with a few exceptions like “Measure of a Man” which probably cost less than a Doctor Who story to produce since it was a courtroom drama/bottle episode!

    • That’s a good point about TNG. It wasn’t lauded until later. That said, I do think the FX of even early TNG were loads better than most of what we saw from Who at the same time. So going based on purely visual criteria, Who was lagging behind other SF on the screen.

  2. Elvis Omar said:

    So glad you all talked about the new Doctor solution hidden in plain sight. I’m not suggesting that John Hurt is the 12th Doctor, but I remain stunned that so few people seem to seriously consider that is what is coming. I definitely recall Steven Moffat quoted as saying he wanted an older Doctor—although he chose Matt Smith after that quote. Whomever we get, I am going to expect an actor older than 40 years.

    I, too, love the idea that we don’t learn who the new Doctor is until the Christmas special. My fingers are crossed on that too. I want a woman in the role. I would also like to see an ethnic Doctor. I’d love to see a Doctor of South Asian descent—I do like Lynne’s suggestion of Indira Varma. I think Erika’s ultimate assertion has it right though: I’d prefer we see more women in story leadership behind the scenes before we see a woman in the lead role.

    Who would I like to see in the role? I look forward to being surprised, and I will be excited about the show’s return, regardless of Moffat’s choice. But if it were up to me, it would be an easy choice: Hugh Laurie, please. He’s the top of a long list of names I would be eager to see: Dexter Fletcher, Stephen Fry, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Lenny Henry, Tim Roth, Raza Jaffrey, Olivia Coleman, Stephen Mangan, and Nicola Walker (and yes, I know that makes three alumni of the BBC’s Spooks).

    I’ve not read the JNT book, and I’m not sure I have enough interest to get to it, but I very much enjoyed listening to your discussion about it. Thank you all again for being my favorite podcast! I do hope Liz contributes a Last Word piece about the end of the 11th era.

  3. I’ll pretty much echo what Lynne said- while I was an emotional wreck watching End of Time, I still looked forward to the change, and was excited to see how Smith would turn out. So I go back and forth a bit, just like I did then. I’m sad he’s going because he’s been utterly fabulous in the role, but I have that eagerness of “what’s coming next?!” And I’m glad Clara will be another multi-Doctor companion, as having Rose to bridge the gap from 9th to 10th was very reassuring to me as a new fan at the time. We told our kids that Matt Smith was leaving- this is their first regeneration in real time, if you will, as they were only 1 when Tennant left- and got about the reaction I’d predict. Boy #2 had no strong opinion at all (this is our little Tennant Fanboy, so as long as the tenth Doctor is still returning for the 50th, everything is right in his world.) Boy #1 (Matt Smith is his FAVORITE) was briefly stunned, and then announced that perhaps Matt Smith will regenerate into…(he inserted a sketchy drum roll here)….MATT SMITH. I told him it made about as much sense as half the other rumors I’d heard. 

    I’m hoping they somehow keep the new actor’s identity a secret, or if they don’t, that I simply have no idea who they are. An older actor would be great, but not someone incredibly well known. So I can’t say who I’d like to see in the role, because I frankly want it to be someone I’ve hardly heard of, if at all, so I’ve got no preconceived notions whatsoever. The lists of supposed contenders just seem to be lists of anyone who is British and still breathing (that second is probably optional). Although the tabloid article confirming Paris Jackson made me laugh today during an otherwise frustrating morning at work. 😛

    I haven’t read the JNT book either, as I’m not a huge biography reader, but I did find your discussion of it very interesting and enjoyable, so thanks!

    P.S. Enjoyed the lending of your vocal talents on The Ood Cast last week!

    • Thanks for the comment Jan! I’m glad to hear your kids are coping with the news. Way to raise ’em right. 😉

      And thanks, too, for your nice comment on our Oodcast appearance. We’ll be talking about that on the podcast next week when we’re back to regular episodes with our Happy-Who-Things!

    • Oh goodness…I must edit that when I posted mocking the Paris Jackson/12th Doctor “news”, it was prior to some follow-up report that she apparently attempted suicide. Sh*t timing, Jan…

      • Chris (@Silver_Nemesis) said:

        I wouldn’t worry too much about it – most people thought the same thing after being linked with the role then felt just as bad when the second report came out. Wish her all the best but definitely not the Doctor.

  4. Willow's Cat said:

    Matt Smith is basically my NuWho Doctor. I will miss him. He was fantastic!

    When they announced David Tennant was to leave I was so over his Doctor that basically I did a dance of joy! I did not cry when he regenerated and his last line still makes me angry!

    I trust Steven Moffat to write something more fitting for a regeneration. I will probably cry buckets when Eleven regenerates. I am trying to not think about it as it does upset me.

    This show is wonderful! 😀

    Interesting how I am hearing many people say “pretty boy” when referring to the casting of DT & MS. Hang on, at the time they were cast they both had their looks made fun of! These guys are not pretty boys! They are talented actors who make it impossible not to find them attractive! 🙂

    Recasting: I think Peter was correct when he said he was too young when he played Five. Then again, Tom Baker didn’t have a lot of acting experience when he got the role. *shrugs* A good actor. It comes down to a good actor in the role. I don’t mind the idea of a female Doctor. I think when Moffat puts his mind to it he can write females well. He created and wrote Lynda Day (Press Gang) and she was a complex and challenging lead character. I do agree that the show needs to get more female staff members, writers in particular. It is kind of sad and madding that they don’t have a female writer.

    I am currently reading the JNT book. I think Tansy is correct with a lot of what she says, and we certainly do need to take into account the age of consent and actually the treatment of homosexuals at that time. I do not think that excuses the predatory behaviour, it is basically an abuse of power, and in the case of some of the things that are referred to in the book, sexual assault. I have also read a few bios in my time and most detail bad or questionable sexual behaviour, it seems like a trope for these books! The whole sex, drugs and rock n’ roll trope.

    As for the show and JNT? I was watching at the time, Peter Davison is My classic Who Doctor and that is one of the reasons I wanted to read this book. I am also interested in the background of how the show was made and so that is right down my ally.

    I think the main problem with the JNT years is that he was left seemingly with the last word on almost everything as long as it was in budget. He did the best he could with a bad lot. Would it have been better to replace him in 1983? Yes, but then that is hindsight. The BBC, is in my mind, the real enemy. They didn’t give a damn about the show by the end and you can see it, but in saying that most fans had left the show by the time Colin Baker was cast. So I never know if it was just a culture shift or a quality problem. I think the show is too close to my heart to know for sure.

    I can say this era (80s) is responsible for my feeling of embarrassment even today when publicly (that is real life) saying I am a Doctor Who fan. I can’t even buy merchandise in shops because I feel so embarrassed! lol I use to travel to another suburb in the late 80s just to buy Doctor Who Magazine. 😀

    I haven’t finished the book so cannot really comment on his later years, but I am aware of how sad his last years were and that does make me feel sorry for the man.

    I also think the Radio Free Skaro interview is most excellent and highly recommend listening to it first. 😉

    Sorry for the waffling on!

  5. I think that if there was a female Doctor, it might encourage more female writers to submit stories for the show? Maybe?

    However much I’d LOVE Maggie Smith to take the role, I’d still be happy if someone like Paterson Joseph (Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere) or maybe even James Nesbitt (though he might be a little too well-known and slightly too expensive for the BBC to afford) got the part.

    Also, at some point I’d really like it if Grace Park was a companion. The Doctor has had American companions before, but to my knowledge there’s never been an Asian-American companion before. Though I could be wrong.

    • I don’t think female writers failing to submit stories for the show is in any way connected to the lack of female writers on the show – it’s pretty clear that it is invitation only, and so far there has been little attempt to include female screenwriters in Doctor Who.

      Which becomes even more disappointing to me whenever new writers are brought in… bloke after bloke.

  6. Well, Moffat gave us Matt Smith, so I trust him to choose 12. I confess that I’m partial to the Doctor being male, but ethnicity is no issue for me. He just has to be awesome. I did laugh at the mention that DT and MS were “pretty”, though! Certainly neither one is pretty in a conventional sense, but they’re dynamic enough to distract you from that fact.

    I would like to see a more avuncular Doctor as well, but that’s not to say that he would have to be older, just a performance choice (and less of the “tight skirt”-type lines, thankyouverymuch). I would also like to see more consistency of characterization. This past half season has been a bit scattered about that sort of thing (especially with Clara) and I think that’s down to Moffat not keeping a good hand on the reins as we go along. It may also be the fact that we had episodes that were clearly fiercely edited for time (Nightmare in Silver) and required quick-sketch shortcuts to usher us through as speedily as possible. Whatever the cause, the characterization suffered a bit for it.

    A woman showrunner! Now that would be fantastic! Or *someone* on board who can stop at the creepy things in a script and say, “Whoa. That’s not cool. Let’s take another look at that one.” (The comment about putting the TARDIS in basic mode because Clara’s a girl, etc.)

    Side note – I was rewatching Rings of Akhaten and could NOT stop thinking about “potential carrots” during the pumpkin-eating-leaf scene! The result is me laughing inappropriately during a serious moment. That’s all on you lot. Well…you and Neil Cross.

  7. I’m very pleased that there will still be regular Verity podcasts while we wait for more new Who. I have downloaded this latest one and will listen to it on the way home from work. 🙂

  8. Chris (@Silver_Nemesis) said:

    Time to make myself hideously unpopular – there is nothing canon to say that we can have a female Doctor. The Doctor said that another Timelord did this, but he also said in a canon partner show that he had 507 regenerations. Until it is physically seen to happen on screen (like Melody Pond showing a Timelord can change race in Lets Kill Hitler) then Rule 1 takes precedence.

    Time for some effort at avoiding a lynching – I’m actually keen on a female Doctor. Ever since the end of The Curse Of Fatal Death (Moffatt written so we should take note) I’ve lamented the fact that we never got a canon Joanna Lumley Doctor (as much as I love Big Finish, it isn’t canon).

    On the comment of a female Doctor being naked at some point – both Matt Smith (11th Hour) and David Tenant (Journey’s End (I think)) had nude scenes and Christopher Ecclestone (Dalek) went topless so I don’t think we would be in too much of a position to critiscise as long as it’s done properly and is as integral to the story as it was with the previous three times.

    I hope when the Doctor comes I have no idea who the actor (any gender) who they are. I wasn’t familiar with any Doctor actor before they have been cast and I would very much like that to continue.

    As for female writers, directors and show-runners – I really couldn’t care less about the gender, sex, race, physical ability, mental health, sexual preference or species of the people holding these roles as long as they are the best there is at the job and they understand and appreciate Who. I have no doubt that there are women who fit into this category better than some of the men in situ so get them signed up.

    I always think that JNT is a little harshly served by history. He was given a budget of around £100,000 per episode then belittled by his superiors for the special effects not matching those of Start Trek (budget $1,400,000 per episode – roughly £1,000,000) and Alien (cost $11,000,000 – roughly £7,085,350). If something is between 10 and 70 times the budget, it is very likely to have better special effects!

    The stories were interesting and, at times, very clever and well made. Even when it was finally stuck on hiatus, the final few 7th Doctor stories still stand up amongst the best the show has ever produced.

    At the end of the day, if JNT hadn’t kept the show going as long as it did and started making changes (even if all of them weren’t perfect) then the show would have died out in the 1970’s and would not have returned except possibly as an completely re-written and re-imagined show produced by another country. Not the Who we love.

    I’m looking forward to reading the book to get a better picture of not only the person but the the situation they found themselves in.

    • Elvis Omar said:

      I’m not familiar with the “Rule 1” reference, but if I take your meaning, it seems you are suggesting “if it hasn’t happened, it can’t happen”. I can’t agree. There is nothing to suggest the Doctor cannot regenerate into a woman, and you cite more than one instance that suggests it may be possible.

      I tend to think we can and should get a female Doctor, but I have a sense that it will not happen this time. Writers of Season 8 take note: perhaps you can add an almost throwaway line to confirm Gallifreyan gender swapping during regeneration.

      And thanks for the financial figures Chris. If only Sylvester and Sophie had even been given a mere doubling of the budget for their stories. >sigh< Despite what others had to say here about the first two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I was a very big fan of that program when it was brand new. Agreed that the stories got better a couple seasons later, but at the time, Gene Roddenberry was still involved, and characters like Tasha Yar, Data, and Deanna Troi were introduced, changing Science Fiction television for the better.

      In hindsight, some (but not all) of the final stories for Sylvester McCoy's Doctor were probably better than many of the ST:TNG first season stories. The quality of acting is above average in both series (not universally), but I'd wager it's obvious to anyone which had the bigger budget.

      • Chris (@Silver_Nemesis) said:

        Rule 1: The Doctor lies

        Until we see it happen on screen then it can’t be counted as “officially” possible. Bit of a b*$#+er as if Rule 1 hadn’t have been established (and if RTD hadn’t added the line to Sarah Jane Adventures) then we’d be able to consider gender change through regeneration as possible by now.

  9. Paul A. said:

    I’m listening to the Radio Free Skaro episode now, and I’m amused to discover that the news round-up at the beginning includes “BBC declines to confirm or deny British tabloid’s rumour that Matt Smith will leave as of the 2013 Christmas special”…

  10. Thanks for another fine podcast! 🙂

    I wasn’t particularly surprised by the news of Matt Smith’s departure either. I think it’s been in the air for a while and the wake of the 50th anniversary seems like a natural time for a changing of the guard. I’m sad because he’s been so excellent, but I’m also quite philosophical about it. After all, I’m 43 and I’ve seen 7 new actors stepping into the role now.

    As for the new Doctor, I want to be pleasantly surprised again. I had no idea who Matt Smith was when he was announced and part of the joy of him was that we really had no clue how he was going to play the part until the glee of The 11th Hour.

    Oh, and you’ve convinced me that I need to buy the JNT book! It sounds like a fascinating read.

  11. Joris M said:

    What I would like to see for a new Doctor is someone who can show the range that goes with the territory. I would prefer someone a bit older than the previous few Doctors, and a deviation from what came before would be nice as well.

    I can think of a long list of women that would be good for the role, quite a few of them with experience in UK television shows (detectives mostly) so probably low-key enough to even be sensible choices. But there are of course also plenty of men in that category.

    A lot depends on how they end the anniversary episode, and Christmas special. A Doctor at peace with his past probably has a different set of good fits than a Doctor still haunted.

  12. bekitty3 said:

    Matt Smith was the actor that got me back into watching Doctor Who after a VERY long hiatus. I think the last Doctor I watched with any regularity was Peter Davison.

    I love the way that Matt can be very young in one moment, and in the next seem eons old. Also, the phrase “drunken giraffe” makes me giggle.

  13. Ray Adamson said:

    Ah! Another positive recommendation for the elusive JNT biography then,i really hope the difficulties with the publishers and printers are resolved so i can eventually read it.Some of the information pertaining to the production of the programme is still relevant to how the programme is produced now ,considering the producer was accountable to the head of drama and the controller of BBC1 .The BBC’s production process is still the same and Ben Stephenson and Danny Cohen are deciding with Steven Moffat,Brian Minchin and Andy Pryor who is the appropriate choice for the new doctor now.It,s the people in those positions who still decide who works on the programme,how much is made and when it is screened and hopefully people will appreciate this when the book is more available.Noticed Matt’s sister tweeted that he was communicating with his family by skype when the news broke that his departure is imminent now,so i expect the finality was personally difficult,just as it was for Tennant when the process began.I think Moffat’s always had an idea of how he wanted to finish the eleventh Doctor’s story but i’m not sure he ever planned to conclude it with an anniversary story and a christmas special.I’m sure Mr Moffat will do the best he can for us and Matt to have the finale his Doctor deserves.Obtained my ticket for the closing gala screening of Karen Gillans first movie today which i cannot wait for.Considering it was an independent production,i was a little worried about cinema distribution after it was made but if it’s such a prominent part of a respected film festival it will hopefully get a fair chance in the cinema now.I really hope so, the trailer was released today and it does look promising.

  14. I loved the review of the JN-T book! I can’t wait to read it. I’m going to need a lot more of this kind of stuff to tide me over the harsh, cold months before for the next episode. Do you have any plans to review the Lis Sladen autobiography? I started reading it, thinking it would probably be kind of nice but probably boring and was soon astounded at how easy to gobble up it was. She had a lot of interesting anecdotes, insight into acting and opinions about the role of women in the 60s & 70s. I would be very interested in the Verity take on the “Slapping Incident.” It not only shocked me but it presented a bushel questions (which I will wait to pose in the event of your review of the book). There was even a supernatural element that threw me for a loop. This was probably the most interesting biography I’ve read in a few years and I read a lot of them. YOU’VE GOT TO REVIEW THIS BOOK!!!

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