Exactly one week before the start of the new series of Doctor Who, fans will be treated to a Pointless warm-up routine as a number of its stars gather to share their knowledge of arcane facts.
Eight stars of the BBC-produced long-running science-fiction drama will take part this evening in the latest "celebrity version" of the popular series, Pointless.
Unlike the usual game-show formula, Pointless – the popular BBC television quiz show hosted by Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman – awards those contestants who finish the rounds with the lowest scores:
1. Basically, contestants are asked to give answers to questions that have previously been asked to one hundred members of the public; 2. where each has been given 100 seconds to give as many answers as possible to the question, rather than just one answer. 3. Only correct answers are considered and the aim of the show’s contestants is to find the answers thought of by the fewest surveyed people, rather than the greatest.
The four couples taking part in tonight's Pointless Celebrities are Bernard Cribbins and Jacqueline King, Nicola Bryant and Andrew Hayden-Smith, Sylvester McCoy (The Hobbit) and Sophie Aldred, and Louise Jameson and Frazer Hines.
During Doctor Who’s past five decades, Cribbins, Bryant, Aldred, Jameson and Hines have, at various times, all played TARDIS travelling companions to the Doctor.
Hines was Jamie McCrimmon, a companion to Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor. Appearing in Doctor Who from 1966–9, Hines still holds the record of being the longest-serving Doctor Who companion of all time. To date, in the TV series, Hines has reprised his role of Jamie on two separate occasions: for the 20th-anniversary special, The Five Doctors (1983), and – when Troughton met Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor in 1985 – in The Two Doctors.
Jameson played Leela, from 1977–8, opposite Fourth Doctor Tom Baker, while Bryant was the sidekick to, first, the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, then Baker’s namesake, Colin, from 1984–5.
Sophie Aldred played Ace (from 1987–9) alongside Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor. Theirs is the only Doctor–companion couple in this edition of Pointless. However, according to an article in Doctor Who Magazine (DWM), originally, Bryant was to pair with one of her Doctors – Colin Baker – for the show. In the event, as Bryant tellsDWM, Baker couldn’t make it: “I was going to be with Colin [but] my man is in the jungle!” Pointless was being filmed at the same time that Baker was taking part in the ITV reality-show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.
On this occasion, Hayden-Smith was drafted in from his alternate universe to pair with Bryant. In 2006 – when David Tennant (Broadchurch) was travelling in the TARDIS as the Tenth Doctor – the 29-year-old actor played Jake Simmonds, the freedom-fighter colleague to, and boyfriend of, parallel-universe companion Ricky Smith (Noel Clark).
Cribbins and King also appeared in Doctor Who during Tennant’s tenure. They played father and daughter, Wilf and Sylvia Noble – a.k.a., grandfather and mother to Donna Noble, the companion played by Catherine Tate in the 2006 Christmas special, as well as the 2008 series, of Doctor Who.
Cribbins is the only Doctor Who alumni to have played two different Doctor Who companions – four decades apart! He was PC Tom Campbell in the 1966 Doctor Who movie Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., when horror-film legend Peter Cushing played the Doctor; and Wilf Noble in Tennant’s swan-song episodes The End of Time (2009–10). Speaking to DWMearlier this month, Cribbins also revealed that he was once considered for the part of the Doctor, too! “I Did have an interview with Barry Letts the producer when [Jon] Pertwee was leaving ’cos they were looking for a new Doctor,” he said. In the event, the part of the Fourth Doctor went to Tom Baker.
Pointless’s host, Alexander Armstrong, is no stranger to Doctor Who himself. He played Reg Arwell, the husband of the Doctor's companion, Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner), in the 2011 Christmas special, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe and, from 2007–11, the voice of Mr Smith in the CBBC Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which starred the late Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith.
Finally, completing the PointlessDoctor Who contingent, the Doctor’s robot dog K9 will be assisting Richard Osman in his role as the show’s arbiter.
Press the Red Button ...
As reported last week by combom, ahead of transmission of the season's opening story, Steven Moffat's The Bells of Saint John, the BBC Red Button (Freeview Channel 301) will broadcast a prequel minisode – on Saturday, 23 March, at 5.15 p.m. “The Doctor takes a break on Earth, despondent that he can't find Clara,” the synopsis reads.
Doctor Who itself will return to television screens at the end of March, with eight brand-new episodes. Matt Smith (How to Catch a Monster) and Jenna-Louise Coleman, respectively, return as the Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswald for the run and in at least two specials later in the year: Moffat’s 50th-annivesary episode – to be broadcast on Saturday, 23 November 2013, exactly 50 years to the day since the very first episode An Unearthly Child was shown – and the 2013 Christmas story, which, as reported yesterday by Digital Journal, could be Smith's last. Details of these are being kept firmly under wraps. However, it is understood that the anniversary episode will begin filming in April and the Christmas one in September.
A one-off 90-minute drama telling the story of the early days of Doctor Who will also be broadcast later in 2013. An Adventure in Space and Time, by Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), will see Harry Potter’s David Bradley recreate Hartnell’s portrayal of the First Doctor, as well as playing the actor himself. Similarly, Reece Shearsmith (Psychoville) will play Patrick Troughton and his alter ego, the Second Doctor.
Pointless Celebrities will air on BBC 1 this evening at 7 p.m.