Friday morning and several members of the Doctor Who team are at The Moat recording studio, hunched over scripts and cups of strong coffee. It was an early start. Anwen Aspden, one of the Adventure Games' Executive Producers, is discussing technical issues with producer Gary Russell who'll be directing Matt Smith during the day's session.
It sounds a cliché but the next Adventure Game will be the biggest and most ambitious yet. That's exciting, of course, but whenever the bar is raised there's always a chance it'll trip you up, and so every detail is being examined and triple-checked. And no matter how much you plan a production, from a television episode to an Adventure Game, it only starts to really live when Matt and the rest of the actors speak their lines for the very first time.
So, as last minute preparations are completed, the atmosphere is a mixture of excitement and anticipation.
Matt arrives! Handshakes and hugs, then he sits down with Gary and they start quietly going through the script together. During a short break Matt checks out the artwork for the Adventure Game. The scale of this one is more impressive than the first four and even the artwork hints at this. 'It's beautiful,' Matt comments, looking at some gorgeous images of locations and characters that will feature in the Game. 'And those costumes... just beautiful.'
Matt and Gary have a quick read through of the script together with Gary playing every role other than the Doctor. Then it's straight into the recording. It's the first time one or two of us have attended a session like this and it's fascinating to watch Matt and Gary bounce ideas of each other, discussing options and notions for how a line could be delivered. Matt's able to take a piece of dialogue and literally give it half a dozen spins, pinging different words, experimenting and sometimes laughing out loud at the audacity of the plotline. But it's astonishing to see how he can take the most casual line and make it interesting and so much more than it appears on the page.
It's also amazing to see how the amiable Matt Smith can 'switch', and even sans bow tie and tweed jacket, become the Doctor. From the quiet nuances to the moments of rage, as the fifth Doctor Who Adventure Game is being brought to life, there's no actor in the recording booth. Only the last of the Time Lords. An ancient traveller who is battling against incredible monsters to save our planet. And then...
Then there's a break and Matt jabs a finger at the script and repeats a line with relish. 'Brilliant!' he announces with a grin. 'Only in Doctor Who could you get a line as brilliant as that! I love it!'
After several intensive but enjoyable hours, the first recording session is finished. After the final line of the day is delivered there's a spontaneous round of applause. Anwen is smiling. 'Perfect!' she says. Now, Anwen has been to a lot of these voice recordings and she only says 'perfect' if something is, well, perfect. It's a very good sign!
Matt asks if there's anything else he can help with and ends up recording the voice-overs for some trailers that you'll be able to watch exclusively online. Except these are unique trailers which try something that's never been done in the history of Doctor Who... Matt 'gets' it completely and as we play one trailer v/o back in the studio 'That is magical...' murmurs recording engineer Toby Robinson.
As everyone winds down and we prepare to leave, talk inevitably comes around to the last few episodes. There's enormous enthusiasm for A Good Man Goes to War and Matt teases us by saying, 'If you think that was good, just wait for episode 8! Have you seen any of it yet? No? You're in for a treat! It's...' And then he just gives that full-on Matt Smith laugh and we want to watch the story now!
Matt bounds off and we all leave. Lights out. A little bit of history has been made today. But Phil Ford's script, Gary's direction and Matt's bravura performance ensure that as we leave for home, all the talk is focussed on the future...
The fifth Adventure Game is coming! You have been warned!
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Doctor Who Adventure games update
Via the BBC: