DOCTOR WHO - Kill The Moon, Lanzarote and Mixed Reviews

Tom Pheby takes a look at Doctor Who's most recent oversees location shooting for Kill The Moon, and the mixed reviews that surrounded the episode.

Why was 'Kill the Moon' filmed in Lanzarote? There are a number of reasons it turns out - the volcanic landscape was remarkably similar to the planet surface, so much so that NASA used it to test equipment for lunar landings. Another reason was that the location makes the scenes visually stunning within the story and finally... apparently it rains in Wales quite a lot!

The Peter Harness story was always going to create a few headaches for the production crew, and so rather than have Capaldi and Co trudging around a soggy quarry Moffat packed them off to the 40 degree heat of Lanzarote insisting "It's the best Moon we could find".  But the popular holiday destination was not without its problems. Thanks to the intense heat special cool vests were provided for the cast to wear inside their spacesuits. Hermoine Norris (Lundvik) pointed out:
"It was a stunning landscape but it was challenging in surprising ways, because of the nature of the spacesuits being restrictive, can't hear, can't see, can't breath, 40 degree heat and lack of spacial awareness."
Capaldi himself mused that he was wearing David Tennant's old spacesuit but had no need to apply hair gel.

Of course it's not the first time Doctor Who has upped sticks to benefit a story, and I dare say it won't be the last. Matt Smith's incarnation appeared in the western themed 'A Town called Mercy', he was complete with his very Texan looking Ten Gallon Hat, but it was actually Spain doubling for the Wild West. The first Doctor Who story shot outside the UK was City of Death back in 1979. This Douglas Adams yarn featuringi conic Doctor Tom Baker was the perfect excuse to go to Paris, it has now become a must see / must have classic and also led to the romantic connection between the star and his then assistant, Lalla Ward - well, it is the City of romance! Since then the production has also visited Italy (The Fires of Pompeii), America (The Impossible Astronaut), Amsterdam (Arc of Infinity) and Croatia (The Vampires of Venice / Vincent and the Doctor) to name but a few.

Its latest oversees excursion was written by Peter Harness, most famous for his contributions to Wallander and City of Vice. Kill The Moon was his first attempt at writing for the iconic series, which must seem like a daunting task. How did he approach it?
"As a writer, you need to be on unsafe ground. So I was concerned. But I thought that that was probably a good thing. I was worried whilst writing it. But unless you’re worried, unless you’re not entirely certain that something might be too much, or might just fall flat on its arse, then you’re not really pushing the boundaries."

The writer is a fan of the long running series and said recently:
"I’ve been a Doctor Who fan for as long as I can remember. Some of my first memories are of watching Doctor Who, I fell in love with it when I was very small and I’ve never fallen out of love. My first was Tom Baker, so I guess he’s my Doctor really but he shared me with Peter Davison, who I still love. (now) I’m really falling for Peter Capaldi in a big way. To be honest, it’s as hard to choose my favourite Doctor as it is to choose my favourite story."
Harness also admitted he'd love to work on more Doctor Who scripts, and on the evidence of Kill the Moon that would appear to be a formality. But it's not all sweetness and light, surprisingly The Independent review by Ellen E Jones declared the Episode to be the weakest of the current run. I'm not quite sure what she was watching, perhaps she was still reeling from the mindnumbingly awful 'Strictly' which preceded it? But it's interesting how opinions of the series have varied so much for almost every episode.

For me, Kill The Moon is the series 8 highpoint so far (see my Doctor Who Scoreboard article), but then the whole season has been surprisingly strong throughout, it's given Peter Capaldi the debut year he really deserved. All in all I think Doctor Who appears to be in very good shape, viewers seem to be embracing Capaldi and appreciating his take on the Time Lord - even if they can't agree on the quality of an individual episode.

Every week now I can't wait for Saturday. I've even managed to get the Wife interested in the current run, after watching Kill The Moon she even said "It's getting better isn't it?" Indeed it is!

Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter
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