We've all felt for some time that a new Doctor Who spin-off is long overdue, we even came up with some suggestions of our own. Just a few years back we were spoilt with Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures all broadcasting in the same year as the main series. Nowadays though, with the gaps between seasons, it sometimes feels like we're suffering a real Who drought.
So you can image how excited we all were when regular contributor Wil discovered a brand new Doctor Who spin-off in the works that is approved by the BBC. It's called A Wild Endeavour, and we sent Wil on his own endeavour to find out more.
A Wild Endeavour focuses on the beginnings of the Doctor and the Master before they had their names and titles as the 'hero' and 'villain'. The characters are to be stripped back to their basics, so the audience can see them develop in a new unique way, to become the characters we’ve seen in Doctor Who for the last fifty years. Through this we will gain a proper explanation about what happened to the characters prior to the show’s beginning.
Essentially it's a Doctor Who prequel. It's approved and authorised by the BBC, affiliated with Doctor Who in the same way Torchwood is, and will pay homage to Who canon. I had a chat with the supervising producer of the project, Alex Doyle, about what we can expect from A Wild Endeavour.
“We're telling the story that delves deeply into the Doctor's origins. These are dangerous waters. It was important from the beginning that we be very careful not to contradict ANY existing Doctor Who canon. In addition to the TV show there are a whole series of novels and audio drama, comic books.... So we had to be careful that we stayed to true to the legend of Doctor Who. The mystery of the Doctor is a core element of the show and for fans this is very important. We are not giving away too much. Fans will definitely NOT learn the Doctor's name.
“This story is as much about the Master as it is the Doctor. In their youth both the Doctor and the Master were very much aware of the corruption that had enveloped their government. The Master was more of a moral conscious at the time. One question we look to answer is how does he descend into madness? How does the Master become the megalomaniac we are more familiar with?”
A Wild Endeavour has a very interesting twist. We will not know who is 'Who' (if you pardon the pun), that is to say we will not know which character goes on to become the Doctor and which one the Master. Also the two male actors have no inclination at all about which role they will be playing!
We're not revealing the identities of the Doctor and the Master because we want the viewers to be attached to the characters,” Alex said, “So when the Doctor loses his friend - the audience feels they are losing a friend too.”
Before work began on the project the producers met with Doctor Who Executive Producer Brian Minchin and the BBC legal department. Approval was granted and a Kickstarter page was set up to help fund the pilot, if successful the pilot will be filmed on location at BBC London/Cardiff from May this year, and the long term plan is for the show to potentially air as on the BBC as a series.
Playing the two leads will be Rahul Kohli and Alex Zur. Their companion (and audience surrogate) will be played by Gabrielle Dempsey, who can also be seen in Game of Thrones this year. With this casting, and not knowing who is Who (pun again!) it could mean that we have a non-Caucasian actor playing the Doctor for the first time ever. I asked Alex how they decided upon this potentially controversial casting.
We looked at a mass of auditions and in the end ethnicity didn't matter. We knew we had found our actor in Rahul Kohli, and we were not about to drop someone who played the character better than anyone else we'd seen simply because he was not white. The problem though would be that since a big part of the concept behind the show is that the audience doesn't know WHO IS WHO? having an actor that they believed was definitely NOT the Doctor could be a problem. We've solved that in a pretty creative way... and tied up a few continuity contradictions between the classic series and new Who in the process... You'll just have to wait and see on that one.” Alex teased.
There are several Who veterans already attached to A Wild Endeavour, Yee Jee Tso and Daphne Ashbrook, who both appeared in the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, have joined the cast, and there may be a few surprise cameos as well. Without giving any actual names away, Alex teased the initials N.B.
A Wild Endeavour is independently produced, but has the approval of the BBC. I think it sounds like a great concept, and I hope it comes to fruition. It's really all down to Doctor Who fans like you and I now, if the Kickstarter total is reached then this project will go ahead. We all have the chance to make it a reality, that's something quite special.
As with any Kickstarter project, if you do pledge a certain amount and the target is not reached then no funds will be taken, you will not lose any money. There are many funding incentives on offer, including set visits, your name in the pilot and there's even a speaking role up for grabs.
You can find a lot more information about A Wild Endeavour on the Kickstarter page and website, plus in the video below, which is introduced by Yee Jee Tso and features many members of the cast discussing their roles.
I just want more Torchwood tbh.