Saturday, 11 September 2010

Doctor Who at the Proms 2010 (BBC Three)

Doctor Who is one of those shows that you didn't realise you cared so much about, until it isn't on telly anymore. How I managed to grow up in a Doctor-less era, I do not know. I didn't cower behind the sofa at Daleks, or run around the house brandishing an item of cutlery for a sonic screwdriver. In my eyes, Doctor Who was, until fairly recently, just a creepy sci-fi show about an old man with a motheaten scarf being chased by irritating talking dustbins. Not anymore.

Last night, BBC3 showed coverage of Doctor Who at the Proms, a night dedicated to the spectacular music inspired by and featured in the newest regeneration of the television programme. I knew that the theme song was pretty special, but the music of Doctor Who had honestly washed over my head, as I became enthralled by the Ood, terrified by the Weeping Angels and oddly attracted to The Doctor. So, to have a show that focussed entirely on the music, expertly composed by Murray Gold, showed me just how instrumental (no pun intended) it is in drawing viewers into the programme. Gold taps into a sense of drama and excitement that is usually reserved for the Hollywood's summer blockbusters, while also producing pieces of such quiet intensity that you forget this is a sci-fi adventure soundtrack at all.

The BBC Concert Orchestra of Wales provided the evening's soundtrack at none other than London's Royal Albert Hall - some would say, the greatest music venue in Britain. As the show began, I was pleased to see hundreds of children in the seats with their parents, and quietly thought, If Doctor Who can't make these kids love classical music, there's no hope. The Doctor did not disappoint. The music was breathtaking, exciting, moving and thrilling. I watched audience members grin as the huge screens set up behind the orchestra and choir replayed their favourite scenes from the show to the soundtrack which filled the concert hall. However, there was more to this concert than incredible music and film. Mid-way through the evening, in a song aptly titled I am the Doctor, monsters began to appear in the aisles and on the stage. Judoons stomped down the stairs, Vampire Women hissed through their fangs at unsuspecting children, The Sylurians sauntered amongst the orchestra and CyberMan crashed around amongst the spectators. Children gasped and pointed excitedly from their seats. There were more than a few trembling lips. And yet the concert got better, a Dalek appearence and a Weeping Angel capped off the monstrous freak show, transporting the audience into the world of The Doctor. It's hard to explain how exciting this was just watching at home. I cannot imagine the pulsing, fluttering heartbeats of the people who were there! And then the most exciting part yet - The Doctor appeared, in charcacter, blundering around with some broken piece of spaceship which glowed lime green. It was amazing - children and adults were transfixed. A stroke of brilliance!

By this point I was whipped up into such a frenzy that the next piece of music finished me off. This piece of music, in many variations, has always accompanied The Doctor in his 10 regenerations over the years. As the orchestra began, the screens showed us William Hartnell, the first Doctor. At this stage, Mums and Dads were reduced to excitable teens. An affectionate applause went up as Tom Baker's Doctor appeared and then regenerated. The music, soaring, took us from 1963 to 2005 and Christopher Ecclestone who brought The Doctor back to our screens after 9 long years. Ecclestone did it for me, gave The Doctor a real credibility. He was stern and serious, but genuine and loving. However, as Ecclestone regenerated into David Tennant, perhaps the most beloved and now iconic Doctor, the concert hall filled with such whoops and cheers (and tears) that I could not believe. I cried at Tennant's last episode, and here it was again with heart-wrenching live orchestral music being viewed communally by hundreds of thousands of people. Tennant became Smith (The Eleventh Doctor) and more cheering erupted but I was long gone. Weeping into my fleecey blanket, I was completely overwhelmed by the emotion of that music, and that show.

Wow. Heavy. The evening's programme ended, of course, with the Doctor Who Theme. Dramatic, grand and frightening, it was the perfect climax to an entirely unexpectedly thrilling concert. Who says classical music is boring and old-hat? I only hope that lots of children got to see it, too. Doctor Who and Murray Gold beat Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers any day!

My Rating: ***** 5 stars/5 stars (duuuh)
Recommendation: Please go and watch this on BBCiPlayer! Oh, and buy the soundtrack.

No comments: