Sunday, January 1, 2017

TV Review: Doctor Who- 5oth Anniversary Blue Peter Episode (2013)

Blue Peter and Doctor Who are intertwined throughout the latter programs fifty-year history. Since the time the first Doctor, William Hartnell was the Tardis console, Doctor Who themed segments and competitions have been featured on Blue Peter on a regular basis.

As Doctor Who turned fifty, Blue Peter, not only dedicated the show closest to the November 23rd anniversary to the Time Lord but also had an early morning party for viewers on the Saturday of the anniversary itself.

The main link between the regular Blue Peter broadcast and the party was a design a monster with a  twist as many fans got to be a 'part', with storyboard artist Shawn Williams sketching monster designs from Blue Peter viewers suggestions on the various physical aspects of the creature. The design would be sketched out during the regular Blue peter and would be 'brought to life' on the Doctor Who Party on Saturday morning.

The creature began it's life as a Frankenstein created from viewers comments via the CBBC Blue Peter website and for something that seemed to be sketched out and designed in about thirty minutes and realized in three days time, it was a decent effort, despite looking like something from the Jon Pertwee era.

Blue Peter of course is no stranger to Doctor Who competitions, something highlighted as part of the show's very manic and fast paced trip down memory lane. Although this collage of clips seemed very brief and frantic, it worked in the time constraints of the program to show just how long Blue Peter and Doctor Who have been connected.

Competitions have ranged from the now familiar and almost cliché design a monster to a young Who fan getting a speaking role in the series three adventure Utopia.  So it should come as no surprise that there is yet another Blue Peter competition that not only gives a fan to be a real proper part of Doctor Who history but also gives us a small insight as to who may appear during Peter Capaldi's first outing as the Doctor in 2014.

Blue Peter viewers were asked to design a 'sonic device' for the Victorian trio of  Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax. So not only do some lucky children get to design sonic devices for some of Doctor Who's more recent supporting cast, but we also know we will surely being seeing them when the series returns next Autumn.

This competition was tied into an appearance by Steven Nicholas, who is the prop man on Doctor Who.  He brought a few props into the Blue Peter studio including the phone Amy and Rory use in A Christmas Carol from that same story. However, the most fascinating prop brought out was Matt Smith's actual Sonic Screwdriver used to film the series.

The Saturday morning Blue Peter Doctor Who Party had a special guest from behind the scenes of Doctor Who as well in Murray Barber who is the special effects supervisor on the show. There is a nice look at how the opening shot of the Tardis being air lifted by a crane into Trafalgar Square was realized.

Jenna Coleman also appeared on the main show to answer viewer questions and revealed such gems as her favorite story she has appeared in so far on the series (The Snowmen) and at one time Jenna wanted to be an archaeologist as well as an actress.

During the blue Peter party it is Matt Smith who takes the time to answer some questions and get his new Blue Peter badge as well.

Talking of traditions it would not be Blue Peter if we did not get some Doctor Who related DIY crafts as well. The who themed installment was no different, this time with a Doctor Who themed cushion cover that had a secret pocket for the remote or your sonic screwdriver.

Being Blue Peter it would not be a party without some themed bakery item or another and this time it is Dalek Cupcakes that have come to exterminate your slim waistline. This is almost a homage of sorts as Blue Peter has been a Bakery Davros since the sixties when the first Dalek cake was born out of nuclear war and flour.

All in all, despite the great guest stars and the excellent viewer involvement displayed during the Blue Peter episode and the special Blue peter Doctor Who party, there is another, more poignant reason these broadcasts are so important to an older fan that can recall the 'wilderness years.'

It comes from the realization that as you are watching small children in bow ties and fezzes cutting out felt Police Boxes with safety scissors or making Dalek cup cakes that you see just how much the concept of Doctor Who has reached out and touched another generation of children, just like it did fifty years ago.

Blue Peter has been right there to support the show over it's five decades in existence and judging by the enthusiasm both shows share with one another it seems the two series will continue that close relationship into the next fifty years as well.

-Thomas Spychalski

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