Event TV x Behind The Sofa: Watching Doctor Who Series 8 Premiere 'Deep Breath'

When it was announced that Peter Capaldi would portray the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor (leaving anniversary special related numerical issues aside) it was almost certainly an event. There were empty streets when the announcement was made live on BBC 1 and almost one year later there were packed sofas, cinema seats and other various locations in anticipation of the debut of his Doctor in Deep Breath.


Unlike most occasions of a television broadcast, there was a choice of where to catch it. Between the two of the writers here, we used the medium of (behind) the sofa and the big screen of the cinema. The two are equally advantageous in terms of digital technology and thrill factor but give a very different feeling to the experience of catching an event such as the debut of Peter Capaldi in one of British television’s most iconic roles.

When I arrived at out chosen venue to catch the screening, just off Bold Street in Liverpool, my companion immediately noticed the presence of a lot of people cosplaying. Most notably, there were a great number of fez’s in evidence, plus at least one homemade Dalek costume non-exterminating the passers-by. Not to mention the presence of many more distinct accoutrements related to the world of Doctor Who.

Having gotten past the horde of cosplaying fans it was a pretty uneventful journey of to the customary snack stand and finally to the screen. But once the room started to fill there was a certain sense of anticipation in the air perhaps unique to any show. Having had the foresight to book front row seats the sound of murmuring and chatter behind in the minutes before the lights dimmed was a potent experience. If there was complete silence, it would have been uncomfortable sitting in semi darkness with a room full of people but it’s not an understatement to say that once the cinema exclusive prologue from the deadpan Strax detailing the previous incarnations of the show began a hush descended over the room you’d have been wary of breaking.

Of course, with any film you’re always looking for what’s going on up there on the screen but the sight of a dinosaur in the River Thames spitting out the Tardis in perhaps one of the most audacious sequences of a very audacious episode of the longest running science fiction show in the world. Needless to say, it looks good on the big screen and works very well considering how much budget there must have been in the pot for such a costly debut outing.

If you were lucky enough to have been in a cinema watching Deep Breath, you were treated to a ten minute behind the scenes feature and a live streamed interview with Capaldi and Coleman that was entertaining, certainly a lot better value than your average ‘bonus feature’. Getting people to sit still for two hours for any reason is quite a task, but having seen Deep Breath on the big screen it was an odd experience seeing it on a much smaller screen almost a week later and it almost a different, but still very positive, experience; Which then brings us onto the small screen experience from our own Andrea McGuire…

I’m a massive Doctor Who fan and I love a good DW event as much as the next Who fan. I’ve spent good time and money travelling the country on Doctor Who business and I’ve amassed new and interesting chums via the wonderful world of Doctor Who. I’ve met Doctors old and new as well as various companions, Deleks, Cybermen and other nefarious villains.

I’ve watched in awe as twelfth Doctor Who Peter Capaldi and companion Jenna Coleman have jetted round the globe as part of the world tour to launch series 8.  So, when the Doctor Who team at #SRCZ Towers were deciding whether to join in the world-wide celebrations with a showing of the new series opener Deep Breath at Liverpool’s Picturehouse Cinema , you’d think the decision would be a no-brainer. If only!

Last year I went to the huge 50th anniversary celebrations in that there London where I had a chance to catch up with my pal, the author and world-wide authority on Doctor Who, Cameron K McEwan. Camsy (as he’s known in our house) was smack-bang in the middle of the whole Doctor Who 50th celebrations, but when I asked him where he’d be watching The Day of the Doctor, Camsy told me he’d be at home alone. His thinking? He didn’t want anyone else’s opinion to cloud what he got from the episode as he was going to review it for his BlogtorWho website.

And that’s the approach I took with Peter Capaldi’s first series opener. I’m pretty sure it’s meant that I’ve missed out on some excellent cosplayers and the excitement of being part of something big and special with equally devoted fans. But then, when I filed my review of Deep Breath, it’s safe in the knowledge that it’s my own view on the programme and no-one else’s.

Whichever way you watched Deep Breath - in a crowd or from behind your couch - I hope you loved it as much as we did.

Read the #SRCZ reviewof Deep Breath here! Keep checking back as we follow the series over its twelve episodes here! (You can also read some previous reviews as well)

Words by Sebastian Gahan and Andrea McGuire.