BBC Project – The Naming of Names

Okay, it’s been several months since my last post, but life got seriously in the way.

However, I’ve managed to mostly piece together the names of my co-conspirators on the BBC Project.  I may have missed one or two, but maybe by putting up the names I do have, we can worry about filling in any blanks later.

So, first and foremost, Cliff Bowman. Seriously, someone give this guy a guest spot or at least a free membership and panel space to talk about the project.  Or an interview in Doctor Who Magazine – c’mon, it’s the 50th Anniversary of the show, what better time to tell people about this?

Now, I’ve found two names from the BBC itself. Phil Balaam I have mentioned before as our contact in the BBC Wales Research and Development Department, but I also found that Nigel Partridge was involved. I believe Nigel was actually music, judging from the incomplete emails I’ve gone through.

Now the Who3D people that were involved as far as I’m aware were –

Paul Heslin
Rob Semenoff
Nathan Skreslet
Noel Wallace
Maybe Chris Sutor… not sure on that one.
And me, back when my name was still Danny Heap.

I also spoke to a chunk of local Australian talent. Hey, if you’ve got contacts, you use them. And I had access to award winning writers, artists, and people who had worked on major Hollywood motion pictures.

Apart from Nick, Richard, and Mondy, most of these were generally only one or two conversations to let them know the BBC Project existed, and gauging their willingness to help out. It was pointless to ask them for more given the project could fold at any point. But it gave us access to names that could help the cause and show we had access to a greater pool of talent than just the folks in Who3D.

Richard Freeland – Doctor Who fan extraordinaire, he has a solid knowledge of the show, and an excellence sense of story.  He made some great story suggestions, and helped come up with the idea of Phoebe as a companion.

Ian Mond – Long time friend, he’s the one who first helped me to get a place writing for the Big Finish Short Trips collections. I’m quite fond of Mondy’s writing, but he was also my regular confidante, giving me someone I could talk to about everything that was happening, as we’d get together almost every week.

Nick Stathopoulos – Hugo nominated artist. Has also worked on films, TV, computer games. He also did some preliminary design work for us.  You can find it in some previous posts.

Sean Williams – Multi award winning writer and New York Times bestseller. And big Doctor Who fan, and old mate.

Kate Orman & Jonathan Blum – Both of whom have written for the Doctor Who range, and are old mates.

Lewis Morley & Marilyn Pride – Yet more old mates (Australian science fiction fandom has been very good to me, in terms of friends and potential contacts), Lewis and Marilyn have worked on a range of very high profile films including Superman Returns, Mission Impossible 3, the Matrix series, and the Star Wars prequels.

Some of these folks may remember me talking to them, some may not – it was one or two conversations held a decade ago, remember.

I also had, through these and other friends, the ability to contact a range of other high profile talent. But naturally I wasn’t going to even think about pursuing those folks unless things actually got to the point where the series would be made.  Basically if we had gotten to the pilot stage, I was going to be able to at least offer to contact some major genre names from the US and UK as potential writers for the series to make the idea of going ahead a much more attractive prospect – people like names.

And so that’s it for the moment.  If anyone out there is in contact with Phil or Nigel, or any of the Who3D crew who were involved, please send them this way 🙂

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Classic Who – Seven for the New Who Crowd.

So you like New Who, but haven’t watched any of the original series.  First up, that’s fine. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.  You don’t have to ever watch the original show if you don’t want.  There’s a lot there, 697 episodes, and chunks of those are missing!  It’s a very daunting prospect, and a very different series to the one you’ve fallen in love with.

But of course, some of you are curious about the old show, so this is for you.  It’s a list of mostly stand-alone stories, that exist in full, and have commercial DVD releases – so sourcing them shouldn’t be too hard.

I originally wanted to aim for stories that didn’t feature any of the big returning baddies, but that wasn’t practical.  Mostly these are good to great stories for a variety of reasons, including some nice character parts.  Steven Moffat has said that when you write a Doctor Who story, at the end you should be saying, “Well, there’s that feature film idea all used up!”  A few of these fit the bill.

I’ll give you a very short non-spoilery run down on each.  Just do yourself a favour – if you decide to try these recommendations don’t go reading up on them.  Don’t look them up online, or read the back blurbs of the DVD.  Try to approach them as freshly spoiler free as you can manage.

I’ve also made mention of New Who stories that have some similarities. But don’t go expecting these stories to be the same – the stories are only vaguely similar in certain rough thematic senses.  The suggestions are only there to give you a more of a hook in the absence of more detailed, and therefore spoilery, write-ups.

And also remember – with Old Who, usually best to only watch one episode a night.  Or one early in the day, and another in the evening. To do more can actually hurt the experience of otherwise good stories. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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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It’s not the size, it’s how you use it.


(Contains major spoilers for Lexx season two, Spider-Man 2, Superman the Movie, and minor spoilers for Alien, Aliens, Die Hard and Die Hard 4, and both versions of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Has a swear word.

May contain traces of nuts.)

One of the issues I’m having an increasing problem with is size. Movies and television are both guilty, and I’m just a bit over it.

Once the scale of a thing exceeds a certain level, it’s hard to maintain a comfortable suspension of disbelief. Now that doesn’t have to just be about physical size, it can be able the scale of a concept, or the way the action or drama is built.

Hollywood doesn’t seem to quite get this, and by way of example I’ll pull out one of the many, many pointless remakes. The one I’m thinking of is The Day the Earth Stood Still, with Keanu Reeves. Let’s forget about all the ways in which it’s emotionally wrong, and the way they stuffed up Klaatu’s character, and simply look at Gort.  Continue reading