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Doctor Who [The Day of The Doctor] Press Reviews

Radio Times
It was patchy. In no way disappointing, but there were peaks and longueurs.... but the scenes between the three Doctors had sparkle.

Harry Venning of The Stage 
The Day of the Doctor was a lavish, rumbustious extravaganza that boasted movie-star guest appearances, multiple locations, fantastic make-up, spectacular stunts and computer-generated special effects that wouldn't have looked out of place in a Hollywood blockbuster.

Jon Cooper of The Daily Mirror
There were superb performances all round. Current incumbent Matt Smith did his much-loved wacky schtick, while perennial favourite David Tennant brought back all the quips and mannerisms that made us love his Doctor so much. Added into the mix is the legendary John Hurt, whose new take on one of the true stalwarts of television brings class, intelligence and a whole new A-List dimension to the world of Doctor Who – a world that surely feels a bit more blessed after today.

Will Salmon of SFX Magazine
VERDICT – Paying homage to the past, setting up the future and pleasing millions of fans worldwide, all in just 75 minutes? That's a big ask. The remarkable thing about "The Day Of The Doctor" is that it pulls off all of those things, while also packing serious emotional clout.

Caroline Frost of the Huffington Post
Some call "Doctor Who" a children's programme. Well, I salute the child who could get to grips with all the colour, plot twists and metaphysics on display in "The Day of the Doctor", surely Steven Moffat's most ambitious outing to date. What he successfully managed to do was provide us with a ripping yarn in its own right, while doffing his cap to the fifty years of the Time Lord that had gone before, with enough half-century in-jokes – Bad Wolf, anyone? – to please the most demanding of the millions of fans watching in 90 countries around the world.

Robert Lloyd of The Los Angeles Times
It was a great episode, I thought, silly and lovely by turns, full of great lines, most of which would wither out of context ("Regeneration, it's a lottery" — classic!), with the temporal chutes and ladders and four-dimensional farce that have marked current show runner Steven Moffat's scripts since he was writing for former show runner and "Who" re-originator Russell T. Davies. (Here he thinks up clever things to do with Time Lord paintings). There were riffs on Tennant's skinniness, Smith's chin, Eccleston's ears, sonic screwdrivers, timey-wiminess, big red buttons and the roundels in the walls of the Tardis. 

Now the not so good review…..

Christopher Stevens of the Mail On Line
Really, I should have known better. The perennial small boy in my head, the one who still watches scary telly through the cracks between his fingers, had been hopping with excitement for months: David Tennant was to return for one episode as the Doctor. Better still, this mega-budget, feature-length show celebrating half a century of Doctor Who (BBC1) would co-star John Hurt as another, darker incarnation of the character. It promised to be fabulous. And, of course, it wasn't. It was patchy, it was cobbled together and, despite some excellent moments, it was a rotten disappointment.

Richard II Press Reviews (Stratford-upon-Avon)

The Independent

They covered themselves in glory five years ago with Hamlet; now David Tennant and Gregory Doran join forces again for this lucid and gripping account of Richard II. Having played the most intellectually searching of Shakespeare's protagonists, who is painfully miscast as a revenge hero, Tennant – in splendid form here – trains his talents on the most self-absorbed and inward-looking of the Bard's monarchs, who is fatally miscast as God's anointed deputy on earth.

In his gorgeous, gold-embroidered robes (and long, flowing hair extensions, to boot), this Richard is wrapped in the mystique of medieval majesty. But he occupies the Gothic throne with a slouch of disgruntlement, his features congealed in disdain. Admirably resisting any temptation to make the king likeable, Tennant vividly exudes the bored irritability that erupts in tyrannical caprice. And impatience is making him reckless, too. In this production, he brazenly hears the dispute between Bolingbroke and Mowbray at the (interpolated) ceremonial lying-in-state of the Duke of Gloucester, whose murky murder (and, implicitly, Richard's involvement in it) is itself the bone of contention.

But then Richard is a monarch who would always choose theatrical effect over political prudence. With his great gift for playfulness, Tennant runs heavily sarcastic rings round his usurper in the deposition scene. Holding the crown at arm's length, and with his back to the assembled company, he calls out "Here cousin", in the tones of someone inviting a dog to play fetch. This is not a Richard who luxuriates in the lyricism of grief. Tennant delivers the plaintive, self-pitying arias with a scathing irony for the most part, flecked by tiny surrenders to abject panic – as though he were at once sufferer and observer of the tragic process whereby, when the royal persona shatters, it exposes the naked, insecure person underneath. 

By contrast, Nigel Lindsay's Bolingbroke presents himself as a plain-speaking bloke who has returned from exile solely to claim his rightful inheritance – though there's a suggestion in his hooded watchfulness and the brutality with which he dispatches Richard's flatterers that he has a devious, long-term strategy. He plays his cards close to his chest and is embarrassed by Richard, whose upstaging antics leave him having to force face-saving laughter in front of his followers.

Interestingly, though, Doran is more interested in the king's relationship with his other cousin, the young Aumerle. I should perhaps issue a spoiler alert for the rest of this paragraph. This production gives the pair a charged, private sequence on the walls of Flint Castle (evoked by the mobile gantry that slices across Stephen Brimson Lewis's excellent design). The monarch's speech of speculative capitulation ("What must the King do now? Must he submit?") reduces his devoted number one supporter to such heartfelt, quiet tears that Tennant's Richard is touched to a moment of rare compassion for another creature – treating his cousin to a tenderly passionate kiss and a cradling on his breast. But Aumerle, whose riven emotional state is beautifully conveyed by Oliver Rix, turns into the production's most extreme casualty of the world of divided loyalties. Shopped to the new king by his own father for his treacherous plots, to what desperate lengths might such a man go to prove that he's been born again politically? 

There isn't a weak link in the cast. Ferocious eloquence overcomes deathbed infirmity in Michael Pennington's superb portrayal of John of Gaunt, and Oliver Ford Davies gives a fine edge of grumpy comedy to the Duke of York's conscience-stricken dithering. Another palpable hit for the Tennant/Doran collaboration, the production transfers to the Barbican in December and will be broadcast live in cinemas on 13 November.

The Guardian

This show marks the start of Gregory Doran's six-year plan to present the entire Shakespeare canon. It's fair to say that his own beautifully crafted, richly detailed production sets a high standard for himself and others to aim at. David Tennant, in a mesmerising performance that grows in power as Richard's authority declines, also reminds us that the Royal Shakespeare Company is an ensemble that paradoxically needs stars.

It's a sign of Doran's care that he makes clear the complex back-story that illuminates Shakespeare's play. An audience needs to know that Richard's original sin lies in sanctioning the murder of his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. Michael Boyd began his 2007 production by having Richard stepping lightly over the corpse of the dead duke. Doran, even before Richard's entry, shows us elaborate funeral rites with three sopranos singing religious anthems in the upper galleries and the Duchess of Gloucester bent in grief over her husband's tomb. This is clearly a court steeped in mourning.

The prelude also gives Tennant a vital context in which to work. His Richard, with his brocade gown and Christ-like hair, initially affects an air of listless boredom as his burly barons hurl accusations of treason at each other. But there's a thrilling moment when Tennant gives the banished Mowbray a piercing stare as if daring him to spill the beans about the king's part in Gloucester's murder. Tennant combines inner guilt with a careless disregard for realpolitik as he seizes the land and goods of John of Gaunt after his death: a point reinforced here by the fact that we see tuns of treasure being bodily transported.

Tennant's strengths, as we know from his Hamlet, are a capacity for quicksilver thought and an almost boyish vulnerability. And, even if he might do more to convey the patterned lyricism of the language, what he brings out excellently is the fact that Richard only learns to value kingship after he has lost it. In his decline, Tennant casually tosses the crown away and, at one point, skittishly places it on the head of his adored Aumerle. But in the Westminster deposition scene, where Tennant is at his best, he challenges Bolingbroke to "seize the crown" and, when his rival rises to the bait, immediately inverts it to suggest a falling bucket. Tennant's great achievement is to attract our sympathy to what the gardener calls a "wasteful king" who abuses power when he has it and who achieves tragic dignity only in his downfall.

But this production, which combines period costumes with back-projections in Stephen Brimson Lewis's elegant design, is emphatically no one-man show. Nigel Lindsay's Bolingbroke is a palpably dangerous figure who treats Richard's remission of his initial banishment with surly disdain and openly scorns the deposed king's self-conscious theatricality. It is also good to see a number of RSC veterans operating at top form in key roles.

Oliver Ford Davies is brilliant as the Duke of York in that he highlights both the comedy and pathos of a man torn between ancestral loyalty to the crown and a recognition of Bolingbroke's power. Michael Pennington's John of Gaunt is also a fine study of a dying man bursting with intemperate rage at Richard's betrayal of his country. And Jane Lapotaire turns the Duchess of Gloucester into a silver-haired figure whose widowed grief manifests itself in a burning appetite for revenge.

The packed houses for this production's run in both Stratford and at the Barbican may have much to do with Tennant's star presence. But this is the strongest company the RSC has fielded in years, and what Doran's production brings out is the rich complexity of a play that raises the eternal question of at what point it becomes legitimate to unseat a manifestly flawed ruler. Shakespeare's play may be set in 14th-century England. It remains, however, a timelessly political work.

The Telegraph 

Five years after his spellbinding Hamlet, David Tennant is back at the RSC and reunited with director (now artistic director) Gregory Doran for Richard II. Last time round there was a lot of hoo-ha about Doctor Who and a box-office frenzy. Maybe there'll be more of that again, with Tennant joining Matt Smith for the 50th anniversary special next month. But for the moment, a calm air of focus prevails; Tennant, 42, is in his natural element – and day tickets are available.

His hair takes some getting used to: great gingery-brown extensions trail girlishly downwards. Long, magisterial, quasi-medieval robes add to the effeminate impression. In Act III, at Flint Castle, beset by ruin, this Richard leans close and kisses his cousin Aumerle (the youthful, boyish Oliver Rix) on the lips. As with Hamlet, so with Richard – there's an identity crisis at play ("remember who you are", Aumerle counsels, as if that were possible), but here it's of a sexual nature too. And in a further directorial flourish, Doran makes Aumerle the last face the imprisoned, ousted monarch sees, plunging the dagger into him.

Overall, though, this production is more reverent than radical. Doran has suggested he will work slowly, steadily, through the canon – and the first scene especially, in which Nigel Lindsay's tough, gruff, almost too-too solid Bolingbroke squares up to Antony Byrne's aggrieved Mowbray – each accusing the other of treason – feels slow and steady to a fault. Richard's reign, some 20 years in at this stage (1398), was in severe trouble. Thanks to an emphasised aura of restraint – signalled by a stark, simple set from Stephen Brimson Lewis, augmented by subtle projections on towering screens – you don't get much sense of the hurly-burly of this chapter of history or of events spinning wildly out of the king's weakening control.

With his startled eyes and concentrated frown, Tennant is frail, pale and consistently interesting but the nervous energy he excels in is confined to quarters early on. Trumpets sound, sopranos trill sacred music as if wafting incense; the king is embalmed in ceremony, cloaked in remoteness.

It's the older hands who galvanise proceedings with emotional intensity in the first half. A quivering Jane Lapotaire as the widowed Duchess of Gloucester, spilling over with unconfined grief, that perpetually stooped, hangdog actor Oliver Ford Davies as the fretful Duke of York and Michael Pennington, little short of magnificent as John of Gaunt – lending febrile and ferocious emphasis to his "This sceptr'd isle" speech and to those last-gasp accusations against Richard.

The evening is always lucid but only truly crystalises as things fall apart. Richard spasms with panic as he grasps the frailty of existence, crawling on the floor in abjection. He's appealingly sardonic as he bows in exaggeration before his usurper, and at the end, having taken on the aspect of Christ, he appears aloft on a gantry, looking down in beatific accusation as Bolingbroke contemplates the blood on his hands. Tennant shines, but he has shone brighter.

Interview with David Tennant on The Escape Artist

Tell us what The Escape Artist actually means for Will?

Will is a defence Barrister, he's not quite QC, he's not taken silk yet as they say, but he's well on his way and he has the extraordinary record of never having defended anyone and lost. He's a fairly exceptional defence Barrister – he's very good at what he does, he's driven, extremely able and seems to have something of a charmed life.

Is Will a likeable character?

It's easy to be likeable when everything is going your way and it is for Will, life doesn't trouble him particularly. He's incredibly gifted and has a wonderful wife and little boy that he dotes on. Life is great for Will and he's clearly on his way to being one of the country's most respected QCs. Very early on in our story he is elected number one in a law magazine's top 40 under 40 something his colleague Maggie finds hard to swallow.

Tell us about Will's relationship with his wife Kate

Will and Kate have been together a good while and have an eight-year-old boy. Everything is working out for them. Will is driven and professionally successful but he manages to have a decent work / life balance at the same time.

Their relationship has to be established quite quickly in the series – does it help that you've worked with Ashley Jensen before?

I think the fact that I know Ashley of old certainly does help. Every job you do brings different circumstances and people so it's lovely to have a shorthand with Ashley with whom I did my very first professional job out of drama school.

What made you think this would be a great project to take on?

If you're privileged enough to be reading a number of scripts, the ones that you don't want anyone else to have are quite easy to recognise and this was one of those. I read it straight through and was completely hooked and convinced, teased and satisfied by it, dramatically and emotionally. When you have a reaction to a script that strongly, you've got to recognise it and make the most of it.

Do you think there is an element of theatre in the courtroom?

There's a huge performance element and when playing those scenes you feel that. Three barristers could all say the same stuff but the way they deliver it is part of how you receive it, and part of who you believe, and in the end it's all about who you believe is delivering the truth.

You had a legal advisor on the project, how much help was he in researching your role?

Andrew Jefferies QC worked with us on every aspect of the production and has been invaluable as a resource for fact checking. He came up with a couple of solutions to cases which found their way into the script. Also personally just chatting to someone who does this for a living and finding out what goes on in his head, and watching him do his stuff, was very helpful.

Did you have discussions about your characters with Toby Kebbell who plays Foyle prior to filming?

I don't think you do discuss how you're going to play it, obviously it comes from the script, these characters have been beautifully created by our writer. I didn't know Toby before this, in fact he wasn't around during pre-production because he was in America so we didn't have any time to talk through scenes and discuss objectively what either of our characters thought about things, which actually I think was the right way to go about it.

What did Brian bring to the drama's direction?

Brian is Scottish so obviously he's brilliant, there are a lot of Scottish people on this job actually, which obviously is why it's going to be fantastic! When his name came up I was working with Jodie Whittaker who had worked with him on Black Mirror so I approached Jodie and she couldn't have been more positive or given Brian a heartier recommendation. I thought if Jodie thinks he's alright then he is probably pretty good! And he was.

Did you see the big scenes coming when reading the script?

No! I didn't see any of it coming! When Will doesn't shake Foyle's hand and walks off, I thought that was a story beat telling us something about Will. I didn’t for a second think that we'd see Foyle again. I thought we'd be onto the next case and we'd see Will being an Escape Artist in some other extraordinary way. I thought it was a courtroom drama, I had no idea.

How do you think David creates moments of high drama in such a relatable setting?

He's actually writing some wildly dramatic stuff that, in the hands of any other writer would maybe seem ludicrous. But what is great about David's writing is that the stakes are higher than you can imagine, it's all quite melodramatic yet he roots it all in a world of complete credibility. I think that's the great triumph of how David writes, you never doubt it.

Lastly, what would you say to entice a viewer to tune in?

As the show comes closer to transmission and we inevitably have to talk about it, it's going to be quite hard because you so want people to come and enjoy the surprises, but you don't want to give any of them away so it's quite a tricky one to navigate. It's one of those shows where you just have to say "trust me, just watch it!" You'll think it's one thing, and that will be fun in itself, and then it just gets so much better.

Source: BBC Media Centre

Jenny Colgan on David Tennant

Today's Sunday Express has asked four top writers for their thoughts on their favourite Doctor and Dark Horizon's author Jenny Colgan has chosen David Tennant.

Here's what she said:

The rules of engagement between the Doctor and human girls were laid down a long time ago. Tom Baker, on meeting a stunning-looking adversary, says simply, "You're a beautiful woman… probably."

Humans and Time Lords simply do not mix, and as a long-time fan of the show that suited me just fine. Does Aslan have a girlfriend? No. Neither should the Doctor then. In fact, the 1995 film with Paul McGann was roundly slagged off for the fact that he kisses his assistant in it. Ahem!

When I wrote my Doctor Who novel, Dark Horizons, a query came back from the big bosses who make the show in Cardiff. 

The Doctor is saving someone from drowning and, in the original draft, "tore off his shoes and trousers and leapt into the water".

This came back with a big red pen line through it, along with the note, "The Doctor does not remove his trousers." Well, quite. I should have known better. 

Of course, that was all fine until David Tennant came along. Peter Davison and Christopher Eccleston had both been attractive men but David was, not to put too fine a point on it, gorgeous. 

They tried to play down his instant chemistry with Billie Piper, but it simply could not be denied. She fancied him because you fancied him, your mum fancied him, your granny fancied him, everybody fancied him, whether he took his trousers off or not. 

So he combined everything you already loved about the Doctor – his wit, his brains, his joie de vivre and usefulness in a tight spot – and added the cherries on the top: dashing black eyes, a heart-melting grin and really, really good hair.

Then the show took Billie away and broke his heart, and suddenly he became even more attractive, in a wounded puppy fashion (who was also brave, resourceful, clever etc). 

But there's another reason Tennant is my favourite Doctor, which is that he starred in some of the greatest episodes there have ever been of Doctor Who, or in fact any television series. Blink, Family of Blood and Silence in the Library, to name but three, were all outstanding with some wonderful writing.  

Being Scottish helps, too, but what really gives DT the edge are those brown eyes, and the intense look they got when River Song told him his true name or he found himself on the wrong side of the wall from Rose.

It's so nice to know that in some alternate universe, spliced with a little bit of human DNA (from the marvellous Donna Noble, if you remember – I expect all their children have bright-red hair), this Doctor, alone of all the transfigurations, was allowed to fall in love with Rose, settle down and live happily ever after. The Doctor so rarely gets a chance to be happy, but this one did.  

Richard II Director - Gregory Doran Q&A

Our Artistic Director Gregory Doran talks about regime change, working with David Tennant and filming his show.

Why did you want to direct Richard II? 
On one level it's a play about the last medieval monarch and on another level it's about regime change and rulers who think they have the God given right to power and it's about others pushing them from power under the pretext of being for 'the national good'. Those themes are obviously still very potent today.

Why do you want to film the show? 
I am very excited about the potential reach of the RSC's work with this film, especially with the streaming into thousands of schools which will allow schoolchildren to interact with David Tennant and myself as part of this project.

It means that the RSC will gain a much wider national and international reach - which is great news.

Why did you want to work with David Tennant again after Hamlet? 
The thing about David and why I love working with him is that he is a consummate professional. He is at absolute ease with Shakespeare's language and effortlessly makes it sound contemporary.

He is also one of the hardest working actors I know, and never appears in rehearsals without knowing his lines! He also has a great sense of humour - which is why his Hamlet was so witty- he gets the humour in things.

How will your show look? 
Shakespeare's history plays are both prophesies and warnings. He used history as a prism through which to examine his own contemporary political situation and comment upon it. So he uses the story of a medieval king as a metaphor and we can do that too.

The play includes jousts, castles and battles so we are keeping that medieval metaphor but the story of the play will definitely chime with contemporary themes.

Should theatres film their shows regularly? 
I cannot speak for other theatre companies but filming live theatre is an interesting new phenomenon, but the only danger is becoming formulaic - so we aim to take each RSC show on a case by case basis as each has its own challenges.

Why is it so special that it is coming live for Stratford-upon-Avon? 
There is something special about breathing the same air as Shakespeare breathed. The connection to him is evident every day here in Stratford - even the town's street plan has not changed that much since his time.

And the town has focused on him for the past 130 odd years with a tradition of performing his work, so every production is part of a historical continuum.

This production is the lyrical tragedy of Richard II but is also part of the canon and part of an RSC tradition to put the History plays into the wider context - and each Artistic Director has done their own take on this throughout the decades.

Cr: RSC Youtube

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