The People the Doctor is Building…

So two years ago I wrote this piece about the overall impact Doctor Who has had on my life.

I said most of what I had to say back then, but being a couple of years later, life moves on and there’s some new thoughts to add on the subject.  The link to Doctor Who this time may not be as immediately obvious, but it’s just as strong.

Verity Lambert - all it took was a little faith and belief, and 50 years on we're still reaping the benefits of her vision.

Thank you Verity – the show you helped create has made countless lives better and richer.

The education in equality I got through my time in Doctor Who fandom has stayed strong. My daughter has certainly been given the same opportunities as her brother, while being allowed to grow and develop as her own person.

So before she was three years old, she’d helped me change the headlights on my car, helped me saw, nail, and screw wood together, and has been up in the roof with me.  She’s no good at any of it, but she enjoys herself nevertheless.

I’ll come back to that attitude later.

She’s even more unstoppable than my son. A month or two back, while climbing along the log-pile after being warned that she could get hurt, but being allowed to do it anyway because kids should be allowed to take risks, she took a truly epic fall. It involved an accidental somersault, a falling log, and a hefty bump on the noggin.

Naturally I went to her, held her, and explained again as I have a few times in the past that sometimes doing the good stuff means risking harm. One has to accept that some things have the potential to come with a price we’d rather not pay, but it’s hard to live the life one wants, or become the person one wishes to be, without accepting the risks and inevitable damage that may sometimes occur.

After a couple of minutes, still crying a little, she disengaged my arms and climbed back up onto the woodpile at the point where she had fallen. I asked her what she was doing.

“I want to see if I can finish.”

And she continued her climb all the way to the end. There’s a reason I call her GodZoe. Like Godzilla, she’s more a force of nature than anything else.

My 5yo son is growing and changing. He loves learning for the sake of it, and testing himself, though he’s a lot more likely to give up on things than his sister. We’re teaching him it’s okay to ask for help, but you should be willing to have a good try too.  He’s starting to be able to read, and the other day he counted to a thousand, because he’d never done it before. I had to keep reminding him what number he was up to, but he got there.

He still likes his hair long, and he wears dresses occasionally, which naturally leads to some confusion as people mistake him for a girl. When this happens he politely tells them he’s a boy. He’s had one or two people tell him boys don’t wear dresses, or have long hair. His reply is very matter of fact.

“Are girls allowed to have short hair?”
“Yes.”
“Can girls wear pants?”
“Yes.”
“Then boys can wear dresses and have long hair.”

My post-stroke health continues to improve, mostly because I know my limitations.  What I mean by that is that I know there’s stuff I have trouble with, and shouldn’t do, and I regularly try to do those things anyway.

And I fail, a lot.

Knowing my limitations doesn’t means staying in my broken little box. It means that those times when I can’t function, or I try to push past the boundaries of the box and fail, that’s okay.  Most failure isn’t a bad thing unless you let it be, the rest of the time it’s simply another way of learning.

Knowing my limitations means I try to choose my battles carefully. I don’t mean I go for the battles I can win – where’s the fun in that?  I mean I choose the things worth fighting to achieve, no matter the odds, what value others assign to the goal, or how likely I am to fail.

It’s the trying that matters, not the success.

Accepting my failure to cope or succeed is only a problem if I let the lack of success define me and what I attempt to do.  As long as I keep trying to do the things that add to my life or the lives of others, that’s what’s important.  If I’m never be able to sing, or dance, or run, or write, or paint, or build, or do any one of a hundred other things as well as I’d like, so long as I want to do them, as long as I don’t hurt others, I should keep going.

Some folks find me confronting.   I’m not entirely safe.  I’ll get naked to dance in the outback or pose with a Dalek.  If I like people I don’t hold anything back in my love and enthusiasm for them, even if I’ve known them five minutes.  Male or female, I want to hug them, to let them see themselves through my eyes for a change so they can see how beautiful and amazing they can be.  I want to stretch them, show them the huge gulf between who they define themselves to be, and who they could be.  You don’t do that by being safe and comfortable. I want them to know their limitations so they can start kicking at them.

People are awesome.

Oh, there are always some individuals who aren’t, but the vast majority want to be better than they are.  They want to learn and grow.  Most only need someone to believe in them.  That can be me, you, or some random person they meet for two minutes at the bus stop.

We aren’t born afraid to try.  We don’t start out with a fear of failure.  As children we learn through success and failure.  And tears, and frustration, and joy, and because others encourage us.  We only learn to be afraid of what people think later, just as we learn to be afraid of how we perceive ourselves, or how others may perceive us.

Find the people who believe in you, and use that belief to fight for the things you want, for yourself and others.  Embrace the risks knowing full-well you are going to fail some of the time, but that that doesn’t matter because at least you’ll fail doing something that matters to you.

Life isn’t about reaching the destinations you’ve got your heart set on, it’s about how you live during the scary and fun-filled adventure on the way.  Embrace the fear, accept the detours, and just go with it.

We can all be somebody’s Doctor, just as we can all be somebody’s companion.  Both roles are equally important in finding out who we really are, and becoming who we have the potential to be.

Remember how to be that curious, delighted, and unafraid child once more.  Embrace it, start running, and don’t ever stop.

Cheers, my freaky darlings!

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Going the Full Katy Manning.

If you’re interested in more than nude people with Daleks, you might want to look at my site’s welcome message.  Otherwise, feel free to keep going…

This post has a couple of Not Safe For Work photos.  If that’s likely to cause you issues, please go no further.

So here’s the thing.  Chuck McKenzie had a Dalek on loan in his shop, Notions Unlimited.  I had to go down to Melbourne for a funeral, so I was going to make time to drop in, both to see Chuck and the Dalek.  Then a mutual friend, Helen, posed naked with the Dalek, and I realised two things – Chuck was totally okay with the idea, and I was so doing this!

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BBC Project – Dancing in front of an Audience…

Initial posting giving an overview of the project history here.

This was not one of the Who3D BBC Project pieces of art, but I wish it had been.

This is one of my meandering interludes to the BBC Project posts, rather than me talking about a specific aspect. It’s mostly a way to gather my thoughts and feelings.

Every post I do on the BBC Project is hard.  Really hard.  Part of that is I’m not entirely happy with the job I’m doing.  Fairly sure I will have to do a massive errata post at the end.[1]

A big chunk of the difficulty is the feeling that, even though it’s just as valid a piece of Doctor Who history as any number of failed attempts to produce movie versions, or bring back the series pre-2005, it feels as if it’s not important to anyone except me.

Two things keep me going.

One is, I’d like Cliff Bowman to get just a little recognition. Without him, I’d have never had the chance to work on this. Doesn’t matter that in the end it never went anywhere – for a while I was living any fan’s ultimate dream – trying to do their own version of the series.

The other is, I’m a fanboy.  And like most fans, I find out about this sort of thing and it makes me curious as to what may have been.  What if Ridley Scott had ended up working on Dead Planet?  What would the 30th Anniversary Special Dark Dimensions have been like?  Would Doctor Who Meets Scratchman[2] have been any good?

What would a 3D animated pilot or series that got its start using fan talent have been like if it had been produced in-house by BBC Wales, back in 2003?

Some would ask, why haven’t they heard of this before?  Continue reading

BBC Project – Doctor Who Animated Designs Part 3

Initial posting giving an overview of the project history here.

To find all the posts on this topic, please click here.

So, in previous posts I’ve shown you some of Nick’s sketches. I had made a go at designing a Doctor head early in the piece before Nick came on board.  I wasn’t happy with it – I tend to work better when working from something that exists as blueprint or design pictures and the like.  So my version came out pretty ugly.  In fact I didn’t even bother to do a test render, I was that unhappy with it.

I still have the original models, and their creation date shows as 15 Dec, 2002. Continue reading

BBC Project – Doctor Who Animated Designs Part 2

Initial posting giving an overview of the project history here.

Okay, this will be a relatively short post, featuring two more rough sketches by Nick Stathopoulos.  These were what we got from Nick after some feedback from us.  Nick and I (and Cliff most likely, I can’t remember) were all thinking of the Doctor being a more Geoffrey Bayldon-looking character.

Interestingly Bayldon, who is probably best known to the world as the titular character in Catweazle, was approached by the BBC on more than one occasion to see if he was interested in playing the Doctor.  Eventually he went on to play the Doctor for Big Finish in their Doctor Who Unbound series, and of course he did appear in the original series as the character Organon in The Creature from the Pit.

But I digress.

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BBC Project – Doctor Who Animated Designs Part 1

Initial posting giving an overview of the project history here.

A pause in the slew of material that I was responsible for, to show off the work of someone else.

I’m not the smartest or most talented person in the world, only the prettiest.  But when I first became involved in this project, I knew there were two things I could bring to it, my abilities as a story teller, and the huge range of incredibly talented and knowledgeable people I happen to be friends with.

Nick Stathopoulos is an old mate of mine. In fact, he’s Godfather to my eldest child.  Nick is a Hugo nominated artist who has worked on feature films, TV, video games, a whole range of different project, but he is probably best known for his book covers, his yearly Archibald Prize entries, and his recent “Toy Porn” exhibitions of paintings of various toys.

So when this Doctor Who project came up, he was one of the first people I contacted.  I know his work, I know his attention to detail, and his ability to think on the fly.  So over the next post or three, I’ll be presenting the stuff he did for us, culminating in the computer generated head he and I worked on together during a visit he paid to my house.

Naturally all the rough sketches and designs presented are copyright Nick Stathopoulos.  Please do not reproduce them without permission or linking back here.  For a start, amongst Nick’s many skills, he’s a qualified copyright lawyer!

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BBC Project – Interludes and thoughts…

My Hartnell TARDIS console room, rendered up, made grainy, and black and white. This was amongst the stuff we sent to Phil Balaam.

Initial posting giving an overview of the project history here.

For previous parts in this series, go here.

Nothing majorly relevant to the project here.  This is just a brief general rundown of a couple of things whizzing about in my head.

As you can see if you’ve read Part 2 of the bible, I favoured a very traditional approach to the basic series format.

After Russell T. Davies’ first season came out and was resoundingly fast and modern, I thought that yeah, I was so wrong.

But now, seven years down the track, I’m less convinced. Continue reading

BBC Project – Doctor Who Animated Series Bible – Part 2

One of my renders to give an idea of scale for the spacecraft in “Waltzing to Elysium”

Initial posting giving an overview of the project history here.

Looking through some of the emails last night, just goes to show that I’m glad I kept them because looks like I’d heard a rumour that the Doctor Who series was being produced a few days before it was announced.  I had completely forgotten about this.

Found an email from Cliff referring to it and him being surprised I hadn’t said anything to him, with me replying that I wanted to wait until I heard something more concrete before mentioning it.  There had been so many, “Doctor Who is coming back!” rumours that had never panned out, and even though this came from a fabulous source, I’d always rather be cautious.

Plus, from what I’d heard, formal announcement wasn’t going to be until Jan 2004, so there was meant to be plenty of time.  Obviously it got pushed forward, probably because the BBC knew otherwise it would get leaked and they wanted to make sure they controlled the release.  I mean hell, I’d heard about it!

The thing that surprises me is this was in late September of 2003, and we weren’t killed off until November, and even then, the main reason seems to have been the previously mentioned budget stuff that killed the BBC Wales R&D Department.  I’m surprised it took that long, and that we were collateral damage rather than an actual target.

Not that I think we were all big and important, but that I would have thought anyone developing something that could potentially damage the new brand would have been dealt with immediately.  Then again, it’s a bureaucracy.  We had a drama meeting in October 2003 to decide whether or not we’d go ahead.

I was thinking that, as I go through emails, I’ll go back and re-edit posts where appropriate to correct errors and omissions. Would people prefer that, or would you rather I left the original inaccurate text and instead added footnotes and/or an errata sheet at the end of all this?  Let me know.

You will be able to find all the posts on this topic here.
Anyway, here is part 2 of the bible.  In this bit I discussed the possible formats, weighing up the pros and cons.

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BBC Project – Doctor Who Animated Series Bible – Part 1

A single frame of a test animation I did to show how such a shot might look. The background is a nebula.

Initial posting giving an overview of the project history here.

Continuing on from the initial post I present the first bit of the Doctor Who animated series bible for BBC Wales R&D Department.  I’ll split this stuff up over a number of posts because there is rather a lot of it.  As with yesterday, I won’t be re-editing it, so the grammar and spelling errors are all from the original document.

This first bit is the general introduction and character outline. I finished the whole bible on 19th January, 2003.  Phil Balaam was pretty happy with it and the rest of the work the team gave him – sketches and renders all showing that we were serious about the work.

The reason I haven’t named some of the other members of the team so far is that I need to check back through my emails – basically I don’t want to miss anyone out.  I will hopefully provide a full list in the next few days, then go back and edit the first post to add them in.

I was a bit upset yesterday to discover that the copies of the incoming emails on this PC have become corrupted. However I have other copies of the directory burnt to at least a couple of CDs, because natually I never wanted to lose this stuff, so hopefully I should still have all that correspondence.  Plus, I do still have all my outgoing emails, complete with quoted text of what I was replying to.  So worst case, I’ve got half the info, but I should have it all, it’s just a matter of finding it.

And naturally some of the others will have stuff, too.  And Cliff Bowman, being at the centre of the project and managing it, hopefully has all of it!  Imagine what a great guest he would make! (hint hint)

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BBC Project – Doctor Who – The Animated Series That Never Was…

Very early stylistic lighting test done by yours truly. That ugly Doctor character in the foreground was later made much more visually palatable. Original image rendered 12/01/2003

Today, I reached a decision.

I want Cliff Bowman to be recognised by Doctor Who fandom for the part he played in a largely unwritten bit of DW history – The 3D animated series of Doctor Who.

I was also a part of this, as were several other folks, but Cliff was at the centre of it. None of us would have had the opportunity to work on it without him, it will always be one of the high points of my life, and I think he deserves the recognition.

Ideally, I’d like to him be made a guest at a major DW event next year.  I think it’s fitting.

The push starts here. He, at the time of writing, knows nothing about it. Please help get the word out. If I get a good response, I will slowly post up other things I contributed to the project. If I get permission from some of the other contributors, I’ll put up their stuff too.

I won’t claim that the dates and such below are completely 100% accurate, as I’m having to work partially from memory and I may have one or two things in the wrong order, but it’s essentially right.

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