Doctor Who at the BBC: Happy Anniversary – Various CD / Download (BBC)
If it’s one thing we Doctor Who fans love it’s a celebration of our beloved show, and 2013, the 50th anniversary year, was absolutely chock full of them. This two CD BBC Audio release comprises two of the radio celebrations that were produced to tie in with the festivities.
Disc One is Who Is The Doctor? Presented by Russell Tovey and originally broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on 21st November 2013, and it is a massive slice of nostalgia listening to it in 2019. I think it’s the first time I have really experienced such a wave of nostalgia for the current era of Doctor Who. All of a sudden it feels so long ago and so much that seemed so new then, John Hurt, Peter Capaldi’s casting etc is now all water under the bridge. But what this hour and a half long documentary captures is all the excitement of what had been and what was to come. It features a host of talking heads from all through the show’s history, from Waris Hussein, director of the very first story in 1963, to the then current series showrunner Steven Moffat and while there probably isn’t much in here that the long-time fan wasn’t already aware of, hearing these anecdotes from the shows own great and good, enhanced with archive material and linked together by Russell Tovey’s enthusiastic narration is precisely what you want.
Disc Two is an edited presentation of Graham Norton’s (Yes – he of the Rose ‘gate-crashing’ incident fame) BBC Radio 2 Saturday morning program, presented live from the festivities on the 23rd November 2013. It features a host of interviews with Doctors, companions, fans and many more, interspersed throughout with Days of the Doctor – mini fact files hosted by Maria McErlane. It’s especially nice to hear Kate O’Mara in what must have been one of her last interviews before her passing a few short months later. Norton is clearly not a full-blown Doctor Who fan, but that’s part of the fun, he’s one of the not-we getting a glimpse at how special these celebrations were for us all.
With a total running time across the two discs of just over 2 and a half hours, this is a glorious companion piece to the 50th anniversary DVD’s and a fitting reminder of how special Doctor Who reaching its half-century really was. While this may not be something you listen to on a regular basis, it’s certainly something worth having and sticking on every now and then, just to remind of how remarkable Doctor Who really is. Here’s to the next fifty years! Jeff Goddard