Category Archives: Doctor Who

Memoriam Cheats

In addition to my (occasionally disjointed, sorry, I just wanted to get it out) post below called Memoriam Loss (which I’d advise you to read before this), here is the reply I received from BAFTA when I informed them that I was appalled by Nicholas Courtney’s absence from this year’s In Memoriam section during yesterday’s ceremony.

Dear Toby

Thank you for your message regarding the absence of Nicholas Courtney from the Obituaries segment in Sunday’s Television Awards broadcast and please accept our apologies for any distress this may have caused.

Nicholas Courtney was on the list of over 170 names considered for inclusion. Every loss is equally important, but the time restriction of the Obituaries section in the broadcast forces us to make a small and necessarily subjective selection, which sadly meant that he could not be included.

You may not be aware that Nicholas Courtney is featured in our online Obituaries area – – which aims to maintain a year-round, public acknowledgement of those in our industries who have passed away.  He was also included in the In Memoriam section of the souvenir brochure that was given to all attendees yesterday evening.

We do hope this recognition by BAFTA provides at least some acknowledgement, however small, of Nicholas Courtney’s wonderful career.

All best wishes,


My reply went like this:

Dear Kemuel Solomon,

Thanks for your reply, which I am aware is the cut and paste job you use for all such complaints and doesn’t really get to the nub of the issue. Not only Courtney, but others including the actor Gerard Kelly, and scriptwriters Jeremy Paul and Bob Block, could only expect due credit and remembrance from the Academy. Names who did feature in the awards ceremony video like Tom Bosley, Gary Coleman and Henry Cooper could expect to be remembered elsewhere and will doubtless be so: Cooper was a sportsman, and for the BRITISH Academy to prioritise American performers – whose own academy will rightly give them their dues – over those I mention is appalling.

I’m not someone fighting a corner over a particular performer who appealed to my particular tastes – I am someone pointing out an inherent flaw in an at best misguided and at worst insultingly slapdash approach to what should and could be a reflective tribute section and well earned memorial. It shouldn’t be too much to expect a public acknowledgement to those who gave much to the industry, by those who actually care about it. And are you really telling me viewers would object to an extra minute to find space for people (like the four I mention here) whose work would be known to even the most casual viewer?

Thanks for your reply, but I’m afraid it fails to address the issue in any way satisfactorially.

Best wishes,
Toby Hadoke


As an addititional addendum (from your apoplectic addressee of annoying alliteration) I would like to point out that I actually understand why Mr Courtney didn’t get a caption on any recent Doctor Who episodes. Now before you get angry with me, I understand and empathise with all of the arguments that say Mr Courtney should have got one (which would have been my personal preference). I also, on the other hand, understand why it didn’t happen.

I’m certain it was a diffcult decision to make, and I’m glad I didn’t fall to me to have to make it.

I won’t be joining the chorus of those getting angry about it, though, sorry. I think BAFTA’s omission is a different matter.

Memoriam Loss

Warning : This has a swear word in it.

I remember it quite well – it was an afternoon, a Sunday I think (it has that lazy, family-round-the-box Sunday afternoon feel as I picture it) – watching an episode of It Ain’t ‘Alf ‘Ot Mum, and just at the end they showed a still of Dino Shafeek who played Char Wallah Muhammed in the series. Not the star, not a major role, and the show itself was no longer being made. But still, someone at good old Auntie Beeb had the thoughtfulness to put up a picture of Mr Shafeek and announce, with regret, that he had recently passed away in hospital. “Awww” we chorused as a family – we’d let him into our homes, were happy that he’d been there, and sadly noted that he was off to sit in the corner of that great living room in the sky.

A few seconds was all it took, but those seconds, which allowed Sunday afternoon TV watchers to spare a thought for a man, stuck in my mind as a decent thing to do.

And as with most decent things, it was the right thing.

Thereafter, I always noted these little nods to deceased entertainers – the protocol was generally that if it was an as yet unseen piece and a contributor had died betwixt its production and its broadcast, then something should be said (not always though – Shafeek’s programme had died three years before he did, but they still found the time to pay their dues). When Roy Kinnear was tragically killed filming abroad, the episode of Casualty in which he featured that week was pulled as a mark of “respect to the family” (that’s what they said in the voiceover explaining why tonight’s episode wasn’t the advertised one). A mark of respect.

As with most respectful things, it was the right thing.

Then there was Harold Innocent, whose death was commented on in the newspapers prior to his final TV role in Heartbeat (I never saw the broadcast so don’t know if he got an acknowledgement, but suspect he did, as at around the same time the actress Noel Dyson rightly got a voiceover on the same show under similar circumstances and Innocent was definitely a better known face). The BBC certainly paid their dues on the broadcast of Doctor Who – The Paradise Of Death, which was airing on the radio that same week.

Fast forward some years later and the character actor George Raistrick died. Raistrick was never a household name – not even a minor one like Shafeek (“Oh him, off that”), or indeed, instantly recognisable face like Innocent (“Oh him, off, umm, I’m not sure, but him”) – but he featured heavily in an episode of The Vet shortly after his death, and I noted glumly that the protocol on such things had clearly changed.  Not a mention – not even out of respect to the family.

Not long after, Comedy Connections featured John Barron (definitely a “him off that”) who died the very week they broadcast him remembering his iconic role as CJ in The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin. The end credits flew by as they are prone to do nowadays lest the viewing public be confused by the words of the English language those programme makers of old had the naivety to expect people to be able to actually read – and neither a voiceover or a caption appeared. I would have thought that someone who made that programme, who’d been lucky enough to secure Barron’s talents and enjoy the privilege of working with him, would have made sure something happened. Out of, say, respect. But no.

Nowadays, unless it’s someone hugely famous, we’re not expected to be interested in acknowledging someone’s life now it’s gone. We’re no longer expected to respect the wishes of the family. We’re no longer expected to do the decent thing. There are too many advertisements for what’s coming up next to cram in, too many idents and logos and DOGs to fill the screen to expect a tiny sliver of humanity to be allowed into our living rooms.

This week, when Yesterday provided a caption for Edward Hardwicke after one of their timely repeats of Colditz I found myself impressed that a minor repeat channel had someone there with enough nous to give him due credit. It almost made up for the Telgarph obituary describing his Dr Watson as “bumbling”, thus proving that you are allowed to write about things in newspapers even if you know precisely nothing about them. But then of course, that’s the newspapers. TV people obviously know better. Obviously.

BAFTA would know better wouldn’t they? Television is actually one fifth of the acronym that BAFTA actually is. Television is the T in BAFTA. For fuck’s sake.

And so tonight’s ceremony came to the specific, this-is-the-moment- where-we-do-it, orchestrated, researched, lovingly, caringly put together acknowledgement, respectful, decent thing to do.

The “In Memoriam” section.

And Nicholas Courtney, the man who played Brigadier Lethbridge- Stewart, the most enduring character in one of TVs most recognisable, iconic programmes, one that currently resides in peak form at the very forefront of the small screen (that’s Doctor Who, in case you’ve temporarily forgotten whose blog you’re reading), was left off. He’s not the only person to have suffered that ignominy in recent years, as it happens, or even tonight. Lest you think this is disproportionate Whovian fulmination I’ll drop Gerard Kelly’s name into this diatribe. When his post mortem episode of Casualty aired there was ne’er a mention nor postponement despite the fact that his face and name were well enough known in England (“oh him, off Extras”) and definitely household in Scotland (“Oh, Gerard Kelly, off City Lights. And Extras. And, well, … Gerard Kelly!”). In case you’re confused BAFTA, Scotland and England are both bits that make up the B part of the acronym that is your name!

The very best television at the moment is made by people who have a love and knowledge of the medium (and I note with pride that Doctor Who has, in recent years, featured In Memoriam captions for a number of cast and crew – some from days gone by even) and it’s no accident that the men in charge – Davies and Moffat – are self-proclaimed geeks. See that’s what you are if you know and love television, a geek. The same level of love and understanding in any other area and you’d be called an expert.

TV may be disposable, and much of it may be simple, trivial entertainment, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place in it for a modicum of decency and respect, and if you don’t show those things to the people that came before you, then don’t bother to work in the medium. Find something else.

It’d be the right thing to do.

Interview, Wit, A Vampire

Well now, I haven’t posted much for a while as I’ve been frightfully busy at the keyboard as it is. I’m a reluctant writer, having to grind stuff out in between coming up with everything I can think of  to provide maximum procrastination value; eating, aphabeticising my CDs, watching – God help me – V, and now … well, I’m only doing this to avoid the myriad of pressing things that are on deadline.

Anyway, Now I Know My BBC is hitting the road in April – I may have to see how much of it I can remember. Visitors to the forthcoming gigs in Leeds and Bath, make sure you look out for the number of dramatic pauses with which I augment my latest magnum opus. It’ll have absolutely nothing to do with not having done the show since August, honest guv. I’ve added a few more topical jokes to it in the past few weeks though, so it should be fresh and fun.

I’ve really settled into compering The 99 Club in Leicester Square every Wednesday. The mighty Jack Dee has popped down a couple of times to try some new stuff for a forthcoming tour, which has been rather exciting. XS Malarkey is still settling into its new venue, though numbers are a little down. Seeing as we’ve had Alun Cochrane and Sarah Millican as surprise guests and Dave Johns, Jason Cook and Paul Tonkinson as official ones, hopefully we’ll get into the comedy groove properly as punters realise what a fantastic gig is on their doorstep. Fallowfield seems to be having the life sucked out of it : we’re doing to ensure it isn’t allowed to die. Or become a vampire.

Losses this month have included the legndary Nicholas Courtney, well known to fans the world over as Doctor Who’s Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. I had the privilege of working with Nick a few times and he was always a courteous, charming man whose quintessential good manners and utmost decency endeared him to generations who knew him either on or off screen (or, for the lucky ones like me, both). Michael Gough also passed away having been a stalwart of screens both big and small for decades. I was very flattered to be asked to supply the obituaries for both men in The Guradian.

This month sees the release of Revisitations 2 on DVD. Special Editions of three Doctor Who classics, I feature on all of them. There’s a little sliver of narration from me on the “Making Of” documentary of the Troughton story The Seeds Of Death, a heftier vocal in the best commentary track I’ve been involved on to date, on Carnival Of Monsters, and (be warned) in the flesh presenting Ed Stradling’s Casting Far And Wide documentary where it was my pleasure to interview five actors (Roger Davenport, Del Henney, Leslie Grantham, Jim Findley and William Sleigh) about not just Doctor Who, but their careers as a whole. This latter piece is on Disc One of the Resurrection Of The Daleks Special Edition.

Add to that BBC 7’s forthcoming adaptation of Elidor, two performances for Big Finish, and loads of editing on Running Through Corridors Vol 2 and I’ve barely had a moment. So excuse the lack of links on this blog – further details on anything here that may be of interest can be found on the website proper (which has had a bit of an update and tidy).

In the meantime, here’s a lengthy interview I did plugging the tour of Now I Know My BBC on Radio Teesdale thanks to excellent presenter Peter Dixon, who seems adept at getting me tongue wagging.


Oh, and a website interview here:

The Peverett Phile

Happy Times And Places.

Got to dash, loads of writing to do … after I’ve made a cuppa, then checked my e-mails, then, um … hoovered the lawn and descaled the kettle … and made a To Do list … downloaded Masterchef … successfully practiced alchemy whilst finding the Dead Sea Scrolls …

Upcoming Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf Venues (Early 2011)

I’m aware that some visitors may only be interested in Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, so here is a rundown and venue details of imminent performances of that show:

Friday 28 January 7.30pm
Michael Croft Theatre, Alleyn’s School
Dulwich, London
020 8557 1500

Friday 4 & Saturday 5 February 8pm
Hull Truck Theatre
01482 323 638
Friday 18 February 8pm
Chorley Little Theatre
01257 264 362
Saturday 19 February 7.30pm
The Pound, Corsham
01249 701 628

Goodnight, Sweet Potato (Chicago TARDIS begins…)

Chicago TARDIS

Day 0 (Thursday) and Day 1 (Friday)

Well, what a treat that was. I arrived in Heathrow in good time and immediately bumped into a couple of Chicago bound fellow thespians : the always immaculate and charming Nigel Fairs and the whirlwind of fun that is Laura Doddington. Before long I was chatting to Leela and Winston Churchill in the departure lounge (i.e. the wonderful Louise Jameson, a truly classy lady, and Ian McNeice who I’d not met before and is charming and clearly chuffed to bits with his Doctor Who association). Rob Shearman sat next to me on the flight and we anticipated getting our hands of physical copies of Running Through Corridors before he fell asleep and took both armrests with him. I didn’t sleep for more than about twenty minutes, but Tony Lee popped over for a chat and made the last hour fly by.

And so we were in Chicago. As ever people made us feel very welcome and it was nice to see so many folks I only ever hook up with in the USA. We were really looked after by a charming and hospitable team of people and I can’t thank Gene, Jennifer, Tara, Ruth-Ann, Anne, Dennis and everybody else enough.

We had a Thanksgiving Buffet in which enough food to sate an entire nation (and probably sink a couple) was laid on, but America’s uncertainty with the natural appeal of the humble vegetable meant that each of them had been augmented in some way (generally involving drenching their honest healthiness with some sort of spoonful of death): cauliflower and broccoli gratin was especially successful, and the asparagus with hollandaise was scrummy, but sweet potatoes never have, and never will, require the addition of marshmallows. Is everyone in this nation pregnant? It seems odd to contrive a way to turn every single foodstuff  into a sweet – even the bread and butter was (sweet)corn bread and maple (syrup) butter! I half expected to have pizza with spangles or shepherds pie studded with M & Ms the next day. I’m not saying it wasn’t delicious, but I’m not 100 per cent certain in was sane. Thanks are due to the lovely Karen Baldwin for organising us into a big party of barrel stomached Brits abroad. Yum, yum.

"For the love of God don't use us in savoury cooking"
"For the love of God don't use us in savoury cooking"

On Friday I woke ridiculously early and meandered about pointlessly (which is a neat summation of my 36 years on this planet actually). Rob and I did a pretty well attended panel (considering it was the first one in the big room on the first day) with our patient and genial publisher Lars Pearson who had proudly showed us the books when he arrived. There’s a brilliant bonus inside thanks to Katy Shuttleworth of a little running stick man at the top corner of each page who becomes a piece of animation if you quickly flip the pages – a neat, witty touch, very well rendered. Of course, having scrutinised the final text over and over again with a mircroscope, typos flew out of the page as soon as I read them, but that’s always the way. There aren’t too many, it’s just one always notices and dwells on the little niggles. It’s a handsome looking thing and I think it reads well.

We signed a few autographs for the very first people to buy the thing, which was great, and then I was chock-a-block with other panels including something called Toby Hadoke: One-on-One which I feared would be a literal description of the turnout. In my quest to be involved in the worst attended panel of the event I think I won – we started with three but by the end there were nine (including a baby, but I’m including the baby, all right?). I had a bet with Simon Guerrier (a delightful bear of a man whose wife Debbie was along for the trip too, which was good news because she’s lovely) that he’d get more than me on his One-on-One, and he tripled my paltry attendance. I love spending time with Simon as he’s jolly and always a good sounding board for ideas (and is full of interesting nuggets that he pops into conversation with a big grin) so why I only see him in a different continent when we live in the same city I’ve no idea.

Was that the day of the theatre panel? I think it was – where Ian, Frazer, Laura, Louise and about three thousand other people (it was a hefty panel – didn’t need me on it) were terribly kind not do be insulted having an oik like me, whose mimsy CV would be crushed to death by the first page of each of theirs, included amongst them discussing a life on the stage. Nick Briggs had a host of funny stories that he dealt out with apolmb and it turned out to be rather fun all told (but I really shouldn’t have been on it!). I did a Brian Blessed anecdote.

Later that night I was enjoying the fine company of Frazer Hines (this man should be on the after dinner speaking circuit – he’s full of stories, brilliantly told, and his enthusiasm for Doctor Who is wonderful to behold) and Lisa Bowerman (who is as much of an actor’s geek as I am, would you believe?) and got very grumpy having to be dragged away to do a thing called a Liars Panel. This is where the entire panel (of two) has to regale the questioners with witty answers that have no basis in fact, to hilarious effect. What actually happened was that Tony Lee regaled the questioners with witty answers that had no basis in fact, to hilarious effect and got loads of laughs and I spent the whole hour not having a clue what was going on and ended up doing jokes only myself and Lisa (whose atten dance to show solidarity I appreciated) could possibly understand. I even got dissed by someone in the front row who brazenly told Tony he “counted” because he’d written for Doctor Who (unlike me!). Charming. Then it was back to the bar and much needed buckets of booze. I worried that my response to the thing might have come across as disdain for Tony rather than my own bafflement at how the thing was supposed to work, but I think I made that clear to him afterwards. He’s a natural at these things and it’s obvious why he’s such a favourite at events like this.

Tony Lee is amusing. Toby Hadoke is not.

It’s always a bit weird for me before I’ve done Moths as most people aren’t really sure what I’m doing there ; everyone was very friendly though, and I finally got to see my book in the flesh (or rather, paper). And I had breakfast with Jamie off of Doctor Who.

By the end of Friday, my arm was completely bruised by the amount I’d had to keep pinching myself.

NEXT TIME (I shall not be so lenient):

My wife arrives, Moths is performed, and Nicholas Briggs cries.

Previews, Moths, And A Forthcoming Book!

A brief insight into how my mind works. I have done five previews on the trot for my new show, Now I Know My BBC. They’ve generally gone well, but there’s still a long way to go. Plenty of funnies, and the beginnings of a decent story, but it really needs hacking about and bashing into shape. Which is what I should be doing now. So I’m writing this instead. Part of my brain is kidding me that this will “get me in the mood” for writing and I will thus be industrious later and really lick the new hour into shape. The other part of my brain will convince me that in doing this, I have done some work, so can have a cup of tea instead of doing anything else for now. Quite why my personality forces me into putting everything off until the last minute is anyone’s guess. It’s hardly a great advert for evolution. Anyway, Hartlepool was the first of the previews – hot, sweaty, and an hour and a half, but a great audience who allowed me to veer from subject to subject. Constructive advice and support from my friends at Tachyon TV was much appreciated. Harlow the next day, a lovely, proper comedy club run by the estimable John Mann, which ran to time and helped shape the story. The beginning needed excessive pruning, so that I did for the next day’s gig at XS Malarkey. It ran to an hour and forty minutes! I’d expected a handful of faithful supporters at this gig, but no more (after all, they can see me every week). And over one hundred and fifty came – so thank you so much Malarkey massive. Even if the show was a bit wayward. Chris Brooker’s Keighley gig was packed to the rafters, and they were a terrific bunch who helped me and Matt Green deliver our previews and really test the material. Chris is obviously a well loved and expert host. Holmfirth was a sell out, and a beautiful town with a fantastic audience. A proper arts festival well run and well attended. Then Anthony Brown’s wonderful Chesterfield gig brought me down to Earth – a great, supportive and joyous audience, who listened well and smiled, but were a clear sign that I need to get more laugh-out-loud moments and to sell certain bits better.

As mentioned in my previous blog, Moths came to beautiful Pitlochry, where the audience eased me through effortlessly, and boasted a pleasingly eclectic age range. Kudos to the group of Canadian ladies who had never seen Doctor Who in their lives but went with it, and to the two lads (Darren and Kieron) whose lovely Mum had driven them for two hours to make the gig. I also returned to Bath with the show, to the fantastic Ustinov theatre, where I once again sold out (it’s my third visit to that venue – and last time they added a matinee too, and I’ve also done it at the Rondo up the road: so thank you Bath!). Witty sci-fi writer and loveable reprobate Steve O’Brien was my host – it’s always a joy to see him and his lovely fiancée Britt.

The audience are asked to leave feedback at the Ustinov Theatre. A scary policy!

It’s been pretty busy – I’m midway through two DVD documentaries, which I have alluded to before. I will of course, publish accounts of those once the titles are in the shops. I hope people enjoy them. I’ve also done a couple more commentaries, which are always a pleasure if not a little nerve racking.

A few more previews have been announced for Now I Know My BBC, as has some very exciting news. Doctor Who writer Robert Shearman (the brains behind the classic Christopher Eccleston episode Dalek) and I have written a three volume tome entitled Running Through Corridors. We spent last year watching Doctor Who in chronological order, two episodes a day, and sent each other mini essays of our thoughts. The intention being to rediscover our love for the show during Doctor Who’s gap year: and our principle remit being to accentuate the positive as much as possible. Published by Mad Nowegian Press, Volume One will cover the 1960s. It’s only available to order on Amazon US at the moment, but I’m sure that will change soon. It is published in December, although advance copies will be available at Chicago TARDIS this Thanksgiving.

XS Malarkey has had some terrific Edinburgh previews – Paul Sinha exuding his sharp intellect and deep humanity in a brilliantly wrought hour that is certain to garner plaudits. The following week we had a secret special guest, and hopefully the audience were delighted when the majestic John Bishop took to the stage from a brilliant set that displayed his usual apparently effortless hold over an audience. Not bad for £3! Our next one is on a Monday to avoid the date that was England’s potential semi-final at the World Cup (don’t laugh, that seemed like a distinct possibility three weeks ago). Rob Rouse is at that one, with the likes of Brendon Burns, Jason Cook, Seymour Mace, Gary Delaney and Alun Cochrane to follow. Flattering to get such extraordinary talents at our little club.

And I note that English tennis hope Andy Murray is now Scottish tennis also-ran Andy Murray. What a fickle world we live in.