Luckily, those of us who can’t make it to Tunbridge Wells could find some solace in tonight’s opening episode of BBC Three’s filler, sorry, special series Doctor Who Greatest Moments. With little time to revise the show to reflect today’s events, we’ll never know what Georgia Moffett thought of the part two cliffhanger of Kroll where Harg is dragged away by the creature’s tentacle to a gruesome fate. Instead, Greatest Moments concentrated on the new series, offering analysis of some, err, moments, that people might remember, with the stars of the show offering insight into what they thought those moments were about. Each of the episodes is themed around a different element of the series, and tonight’s looked at The Doctor, which mostly meant five parts David to one part Chris, with Jo Whiley’s slightly disconnected voiceover bridging the all too obvious subject headings like ‘The Past’ and ‘The Future’A potentially pleasant way to spend an hour probably, rather like a visual version of one of those DWM articles which picks an arbitrary topic like money and lists all of the elements of the franchise which sort of match it. In general the moments seem to have been chosen based on who was available and not necessarily quality. So we had Tracey Ann-Oberman talking about Yvonne Hartman’s face off with the Doctor in Army of Ghosts and the surprisingly knowledgeable (hello to) David Morrissey on Jackson Lake’s face off with the Doctor in The Next Doctor and Ryan Sampson (oddly looking like he’d just got back from an audition for a Blake’s 7 remake) talking about his face off with the Doctor in The Sontaran Stratagem and Georgia talking about being timelord spawn in The Doctor's Daughter and the relevant clips slotted in between their words, the whole thing edited like one of those late (lamented?) Channel 4 chart shows.
For anyone who’s sat through every episode of Doctor Who Confidential, never missed an issue of Doctor Who Magazine or its specials and read all of the BBC Books ‘non-fiction’ releases, revelations were thin on the ground. In other words, us fans. The Ninth Doctor was a guilt-ridden soul. Check. The Tenth Doctor can be funny and dark often at the same time. Check. He’s a lord of time and understands how time works. Check. He wears very long coats. Yes, he does doesn’t he? If the purpose was the remind the viewer of how multi-layered and clever the new series is then it succeeded. If it was pleading with us to go back and rewatch the past four and a bit seasons in preparation for Tenth’s final showdown, it achieved that too. At one point I even began looking forward to giving New Earth a fifth look.
But throughout the hour I longed for something more substantial, something perhaps akin to the era reviews which appear on the classic series dvds (cf, The Beginning), picking over the making of the series from a fresh perspective looking at the challenges of the early days, perhaps touching on what really went on between Eccleston and Keith Boak. I know it’s too soon to deal with Krollgate, but that (rumoured, alleged) bust up was five years ago. Some of the interviews, particular Mark Gattis where undoubtedly good value and genial and the letterboxification of much of the footage looked gorgeous. To be fair to the Confidential people they probably had a brief to work to ("Right lads, hows about knocking out three special clip shows dealing with The Doctor, Companions and Monsters? Can you get them ready for August?"). But much of the time, Greatest Moments was like watching a best of compilation of the montage sequences often used to bulk out episodes of proper Confidential which are clearly under running. Oh how I longed for them to drop in a random clip of Peter Davison frowning in his beard or Tom saying the word ‘mercurial’ or suggesting Pertwee looked like a light bulb.