"Let's go get you a lanyard."

TV Samira Ahmed writes for The New Statesman on the talismanic nature of lanyards:
"Two 1990s television shows gave us our figureheads: Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files, flashing her FBI ID at every opportunity, and later Allison Janney’s C J Cregg in The West Wing, who embodied the idea of the female who had broken through, thoroughly qualified to run the operation. The lanyard was their symbol of arrival and as much of a challenge to the old order as their brightly coloured pantsuits were."
In the more customer service orientated employment I have, due to wearing my own clothes the lanyard becomes the uniform. Putting it on means I'm working, off I'm on my break or out of the door home.

Doctor Foster.

TV The Guardian recently published a brief but excellent piece from an academic about the implications of Doctor Who companion Bill's foster status:
"The first thing I noticed is that Bill is a working adult in her 20s, but still lives with her foster mother, Moira. Young people in care are often expected to become self-sufficient more quickly than their peers, but Bill’s situation is a nice example of the recent shift in policy that recommends young people have more gradual transitions to adulthood. Although we see Bill move out in episode four, this doesn’t work out, and by the sixth episode she is back living with Moira. I wonder how many viewers are aware that Bill’s experience isn’t the norm? How many would question the apparent ease with which Bill returned to live with her foster mother? In Scotland, less than 3% of young people eligible for support after leaving care remain with their former foster carers."
I suppose one of the disappointments of the series is that this back story element didn't resolve itself with any great unity. Although I suppose that's probably more realistic and akin to classic Who where companions would come and go and very rarely exited in a way which spoke directly about their character.

Ken's Show: Exploring the Unseen. Press launch at Tate Liverpool.

Art Next year, Tate Liverpool celebrates its thirtieth anniversary and this morning held a press launch in one of the handling rooms, with coffee and danish pastries to explain their plans. The room is less glamourous than you might expect, with its heavy duty floor and white walls, the kind of space you might expect to be used to actually display paintings at the Biennial. But the large wooden storage boxes reveal some glamour with foreign destinations written on with in black marker or printed labels.

Ken Simons began working for Tate in 1974 almost straight from school and particularly as a handler in the Liverpool branch since 1998. As a way of commemorating his long service and imminent retirement and providing a retrospective view of the exhibitions which have been at Tate Liverpool since the start, he's been given the opportunity to jointly curate a show containing the work of thirty artists (one for each year), his favourites amongst those he's been tasked with placing in the the gallery spaces across his career.

After an introduction from Francesco Manacorda, the current artistic direction of Tate Liverpool, Ken offered a brief description of some of his favourite exhibitions across the years, notably the Rothko which opened the building and which I have fond memories of from a school trip. He spoke of how exciting it was to be at the launch of a major art gallery, the staff pulling together to present the space to an audience queuing around the block for entry.

You can read in this post from 2013 what Tate Liverpool has meant to me across the years and this sounds like an inspirational way to celebrate its legacy. The press pack contains a list of the works which will be included but I've chosen not to look preferring to be surprised by some old friends.  There's bound to be a Proustian rush to the exhibition and I want to enjoy the surprise.  With so much work to choose from, I can't wait to see what will be there.

Doom Coalition 4.

Audio Now that the Capaldi era is almost done bar the shouting from manbabies about his replacement, it's time for me to catch up of the Eighth Doctor's adventures, some short stories and audios and this latest boxed set. The upturn in quality continues from last time with a really solid, often strong final selection of stories and a final installment which doesn't anticlimax and due to Big Finish's expanded license doesn't need to allude to Gallifrey's future, can simply suggest that they're all doomed.  Once again, across the set, despite what's said in the accompanying documentaries, these two companions for the most part don't feel as integral to the story in a way that Eighth's previous friends have but arguably such things are more recent innovations and we're rarely bothered by such things when watching classic stories.  Plus that's not a criticism of Nicola Walker or Hattie Morahan who're both remarkable.  The making of indicates that these two will return in a future boxed set series which means we're stuck with this format for the foreseeable future.  God, I miss the stand alone stories.  Eighth never quite seems comfortable here.  Any-hoo ...

Ship in a Bottle

A three hander about the TARDIS team facing oblivion and never giving up hope.  It's an episode long version of the scene from The Stolen Earth in which the Tenth Doctor just gives up until Donna nags him into action.  All three have very specific points of view.  Eighth is hopeless, Liv won't give up and Helen has the very human response of sheer panic.  But for all that, it's not as way out or innovative as some other similar regulars only stories like Scherzo, which seems like one of the franchises bravest few hours as time goes on.  Cantankerous Eighth never sits well with me and his treatment of his friends in the early stages feels a bit like an artificial attempt at some conflict similar to that earlier story, but it lacks the bite to make us genuinely concerned about his behavior and the consequences going forward.  Nevertheless, like Absent Friends previously, it's the stand out installment in this set.

Songs of Love

The flip side of the cliffhanger resolution from the Doom Coalition 3 set and what amounts to an extra installment of the River Song Diaries.  The banner headline is Professor Song visiting Gallifrey, something which would have been impossible on screen this way, before the Time War, still recognisably the place initiated by Robert Holmes.  Her reaction is similar to someone who's lived in a different country for years before being brought back to their parents homeland, aware of what to expect, knowledgeable about the landscape through osmosis but still being disorientated.  Alex Kingston is superb in these scenes as plot threads from River's past but the franchise's future become important and she's able to twist the context to suite her own ends.  Once again your correspondent pleads with Big Finish for a Bernice Summerfield cameo in the next River Song series or a special release possibly also starring Iris.

The Side of the Angels

Like the "other" Master in Dark Eyes, the Rufus Hound version of the Meddling Monk is entirely new to me, having skipped over his previous Big Finish appearances.  A juicier role for Rufus Hound than he was given in the television series, he very much seems to be enjoying the ripe dialogue and flamboyant characterisation.  This is notably set before the Graham Garden incarnation possibly in order to lessen the potential fallout from Eighth of having to deal with the Monk's role in the death of Tamsin and especially Lucie, although the TARDIS Datacore pages indicates that there's some far messier history than that.  Otherwise, the episode is stuffed with the epic remodeling of NYC and an ingenious utilisation of the Weeping Angels, whom Eighth is well aware of, perhaps after meeting them in his Fifth incarnation.  I don't think classic and nu elements mixing like this will ever be any less strange.

Stop The Clock

And so yet another Eighth Doctor story resolves itself around a conquest of Gallifrey.  Overall this is fine, it certainly ties up everything which has come before it and has some excellent business for McGann to get his chops into, but there's not a terrific amount here that's different to similar predicaments with a rogue President of Gallifrey taking control, the genocide of the High Council and an overall sense of doom.  The script is amusingly cagey about who the current President is supposed to be, perhaps so that if necessary in the future, it can be one of the various incarnations of Romana or someone else if necessary.  But please, please, please can the next series have nothing to do with the Time Lords or Gallifrey?  I can't imagine the upcoming Time War boxes are going to be direct continuation of this.  That would be silly.

I Know Places.

Music Hermione Hobby of The Guardian on her brush with celebrity as she held hands with Taylor Swift on leaving a restaurant interview:
"Taylor – I suppose we were now on post-selfie first-name terms – must have seen my terror. She asked in a droll and gentle way if I was “ready for a photo shoot” then took my hand firmly and out we strode. Cameras flashed, voices rose and, like the Red Sea parting, the crowd shifted to allow her into the waiting Suburban. And then I was on my own, walking towards the subway feeling dizzy."
The column also explains why Twitter's pretty much the only "forum" I visit now.

We Don't Give A Damn About Our Friends.

Music Tom at Freaky Trigger's Popular section has a brilliant excavation of the "Sugababes" Freak Like Me, from its samples to its cultural significance:
"You can get an idea of where “Freak” sits at angles to the group’s later sound by hearing the bonus version on their Overloaded singles collection – the “Maida Vale session”, performed live. Here the song is thoroughly de-X-ified, the grimy pulse of the Tubeway Army synth line turned into a rock backing track with occasional keyboard stabs. And the band rush the ending, going straight back into the chorus after “good for me”. It highlights something important about the single – how much in tension the Sugababes and the sound are. On their earlier and later records, the group and their vocal interplay are the focus. On “Freak Like Me”, there’s less room for harmonising: the song and the singers are a dam built against the backing’s electronic flood. At the end, it breaks."
The bootleg that led to Freak Like Me is above. In parts it's like the listening to the Amelle version of Red Dress, so close are the vocal choices [via].

That hand, is it male or female?

TV He's winning, it's a short match oh this is unbearable. Go Rodge. Go Rodge. Yes! Now, it's going to be now. Oh speeches. Well fine, I have time to go to the toilet. What this is still on? Right prizes given. It's going to be now. Oh no there's some walking about. Still talking, more talking, more talking. Oh god when will this end? They're filling aren't they? Fill, fill, fill. More talking oh when will this end.

Finally. Here we go. Aha, they're fucking with us. Hoodie. Is that Captain Jack's coat? Oh yes very clever, just tell us. Oh its a bloke. Look at the shoulders, broad shoulders. Yes definitely a bloke. Sigh. It's going to be Kris ... oh that walk isn't very male. Not sure about the legs though. That hand, is it male or female? I can't tell? Oh here we go, hood off, that eye, I recognise that eye, it's, it is her, it bloody is her, yes, yes, yeeeeeeeeasssss. Clap, clap, clap, clap.

Pretty much sums up my reaction. The bookies got it right again. Jodie Whittaker IS the Doctor. Fucking, fucking amazing. Scream. Scream. Scream.

Apart from breaking the gender barrier and all that, here's why Jodie's casting is extraordinary.

We have absolutely no idea what her Doctor is going to be like.

For the most part you can have some idea of a Doctor by the casting. You knew Tennant would offer us chaste Casanova, Matt Smith would be eccentric, Capaldi would be brash.

But Whittaker's an actor of such range that she could play it in all kinds of ways. Although she's often been typecast as wife, girlfriend or sister, almost all of these characters have been different souls. Her IMDb in the ten years since her first screen credit is remarkable eclectic.

Her first interview and all the usual quotes are at the BBC Press Office.  Chris Chibnall decided to cast a woman beforehand and cast the part on those terms.  There's a lovely bit about him approaching her on the Broadchurch set.

And to address the assholes already complaining that the Doctor can't be female, it's going to ruin the programme, the SJWs have won and other bullshit.

Fuck off.  I want nothing more to do with you.

This is going to be amazing.