Damien Love’s pick of the week
Damien Love’s pick of the week, plus seven-day listings
Pinch yourself. It’s here. It’s finally happened. It’s happening. Some of us have spent years wanting this, hoping for it, and feeling it is long overdue. Sometimes it felt like it might never happen. And yet, now the day has arrived, it feels like it couldn’t have happened at a better time. This is exactly the right moment. And when you finally see it on screen, it is perfect.
So, yes. It took a while. But we got there in the end. And it is all you could ever have wished for. Bradley Walsh has become a Doctor Who companion.
Sure, there will still be mean-spirited naysayers snuffling around the internet’s fetid fungal undergrowth, moaning endlessly into their pallid button mushrooms that this should never have
been allowed. That it goes against nature. That audiences will not sit still at the prospect of seeing the host of The Chase being chased by shop dummies who have come to life and have ray guns for hands.
But these people are yesterday’s idiots. These people have never seen Bradley Walsh shift gear into full thespian flow.
Believe me, because I am deadly serious: when this guy sets his mind to it, as he did in Law And Order: UK and Coronation Street, he can hold his own with any actor, and blow most off the screen. The fact that he might then turn around, hire a full orchestra, and quickly crank out an album of easy listening Christmas standards is only a bonus.
As has been noted elsewhere, the commencement of the Walshian era of Who coincides with another significant event in the show’s history: they’ve moved it to a Sunday. The BBC is on shakier ground here.
Last time they started messing with the traditional Saturday scheduling, in the 1980s, it eventually led to Bonnie Langford, and, subsequently, the entire series being taken off air for a quarter of a century and never spoken about.
I have to admit, the 10-year-old kid in my head still prefers the Saturday teatime broadcast, when Dr Who’s weird escapades were the centre of the endless weekend. Sunday night has the anxious prospect of school next morning, unfinished homework.
Completing a triple whammy of newness alongside the Bradley Walsh factor and the Sunday night slot, this series also marks the first time a woman has played the Doctor, a factor that has gone surprisingly under discussed.
She is Jodie Whittaker, and, on the evidence of tonight’s episode, she’s pretty splendid. (The adventure, written by Chris Chibnall, is sparky enough, but essentially a holding place as we get introductions out of the way.)
Peter Capaldi turning into Jodie Whittaker makes as much sense as William Hartnell becoming Patrick Troughton becoming Jon Pertwee, and all is well. There are echoes of Doctors past – she’s perhaps closest to the odd, enthusiastic, infectious, wide-eyed bounce of Matt Smith – although, in fleeting moments, due to a certain movement of the hair combining with a passing inflection of the accent, she reminded me of another TV legend even more: Leanne from Corrie. This is a good thing.
Above all, though, Whittaker is her own Doctor, as all the Doctors have been, and, right now, the show feels fresh and fun around her. Even the usually rotten music sounds a little more radiophonic again, if only in a few incidental places.
Early days, but I’m already looking forward to the ride, and not just because of the potential spectacle of one day seeing Bradley Walsh tangling with a Dalek, Roy Castle-style. Although, that is quite a big part of it.
Bradley Walsh and Jodie Whittaker