Totally Doctor Who was a CBBC television series that aired Friday afternoons in 2006 to 2007 while Series 2 and Series 3 of Doctor Who were ongoing. It was a supplement to (and an advertisement for) those episodes of Doctor Who. Unlike its parent programme, however, Totally was aimed specifically at children.
Superficially, it was something of a junior version of Doctor Who Confidential, and even shared producer Gillane Seaborne and members of her staff. It focused on behind-the-scenes aspects of the show and on strengthening viewers' understanding of the narrative threads running through Doctor Who. It also had a lot of interaction with its target audience. Towards this end, young fans were present every episode, sometimes helping conduct interviews and sometimes providing a live studio audience for the proceedings.
Totally Doctor Who did not return for the 2008 season, making it the first series of the revived franchise not to be renewed. The proximate cause of its demise was the unwillingness of the CBBC to financially support both Totally and The Sarah Jane Adventures in the same fiscal year.
The show had two hosts, one male, one female. At least in the initial episode, they facetiously likened themselves to the Doctor and his companion. This metaphor proved apt, as the original female host, Liz Barker, was replaced by Kirsten O'Brien in the second series. Only male host Barney Harwood was present in both series. The reason for the replacement was domestic: Liz opted to leave to devote her time to motherhood.
The show ran during the week before a new episode of Doctor Who premiered on Saturday. This was on Thursdays for series 1, and Fridays for series 2. It acted as a kind of review of the previous episode and a preview of the one coming up. However, the two series had slightly different overall timing. Series 1 debuted two days before New Earth premiered. Series 2 debuted the Monday before The Shakespeare Code premiered. This meant that the first episode of series 1 reviewed The Christmas Invasion, but the first episode of series 2 reviewed Smith and Jones. The Runaway Bride was never addressed by Totally. Also, because series 2 of Totally had only twelve regular episodes, it ended before Last of the Time Lords had premiered. Neither provided any kind of recap of a Doctor Who series finale.
Game show element
Both series of Totally featured a weekly competition.
In the first series, the contest was a trivia game called "Who-ru" — a portmanteau of the words "who" and "guru". It took place between two kids, or a kid and one of the key people from the Doctor Who production office. Usually, that person was an actor like David Tennant, but sometimes it was a production figure, like Russell T Davies. They would be asked questions about narrative elements from the BBC Wales version of Doctor Who, and the winner would get some sort of exclusive Doctor Who merchandise. Although there would be occasional outbreaks of trivia in series 2, "Who-ru" effectively concluded at the end of series 1.
The game was somewhat notable to the history of British game shows because it had to be quickly retooled after its debut in episode 1. Originally, the prize was that the loser had to give the winner a prized possession. However, when Noel Clarke beat a girl named Karen, she was forced to hand over something genuinely valuable to her — a dragon statuette she had hand-painted. Karen appeared shattered by the loss, so Clarke improvised a return of the item to her, and gave up his "prized" possession — which was a Doctor Who-themed t-shirt. Thereafter, no one was asked to bring a prized possession, and the competition was blatantly for Doctor Who-related merchandise. Also, after episode 1, it was rare for a celebrity to play against a kid. The celebrity usually read the questions, and two kids competed against each other. The winner, or "Who-ru", won something brought by the celebrity, such as a signed script. The runner-up got a bag of commercially-available merchandise.
The 2006 series featured a competition which proposed a series of physical and mental challenges to see how well contestants would perform as the Doctor's companion. Judges, including Doctor Who Magazine editor Clayton Hickman, "voted off" contestants each week, based upon their results in each test. At the end of the series, a winner was declared and given a day behind-the-scenes during the filming of Series 3 of Doctor Who.
For 2007, the competitive element of the show was entirely different. Two teams of kids were assembled. They became effective regulars for the entire series. Each week, a figure from a different production department — like Ed Thomas or Danny Hargreaves — came onto the show and told the teams about a different skill used in making Doctor Who. The teams then had a limited time to work together to replicate that skill. The production professional would judge their work and declare a winner. The ones that had most completely finished the challenge got two points and the runners-up got one. A running tally was kept and the ones who had collected the most points by the end of the series were declared the winners.
One of the teams was called "Team Time Lord", and the other "Team TARDIS". At the end of regular competition, the teams were tied at 23, and they had to go to a tense tie-break situation. It came down to a final question, "How many orbs are there on a Dalek's casing?" The correct answer was 56, so Team TARDIS emerged victorious with the closest guess of 42.
The prize, which had only been described as a "money-can't-buy Doctor Who experience", was finally revealed to be a weekend trip to Blackpool to meet David Tennant and framed artwork of themselves as cartoons alongside the Tenth Doctor and Martha.
The programme offered opportunities for viewers to win Doctor Who-related merchandise. In series 1, viewers wrote in to the show, sometimes enclosing artwork. If their letter or artwork was featured on the show, they got a Totally-branded mug. In series 2, there were two ongoing competitions. One was at the top of the program, and one near the end. At the beginning of most episodes, Barney would theatrically ask the question "Who goes there?", and a silhouette of a Doctor Who monster was shown. Viewers could write in to identify the monster. If their correct answer were randomly selected, they would win a branded mug and/or sweatshirt. In the back half of a show, a departing guest would place his or her hands in clay. The resulting handprints would then be fired and become the prize for viewers who correctly answered questions about the upcoming episode of Doctor Who.
In its second series, Totally was also used to debut the first televised animated adventure in the history of Doctor Who. The Infinite Quest, the serial ran in three-and-a-half minute segments throughout the series, and featured the vocal talents of David Tennant and Freema Agyeman as the current televised TARDIS team, as well as Anthony Head as the villain. Technically, the final episode of Totally was given over to an omnibus edition of all thirteen episodes. As there had only been twelve episodes of the normally-formatted Totally prior to this omnibus, viewers had to watch the 45 minute-long omnibus to see how the story ended. The serial was later released to DVD, along with some features on its making from Totally Doctor Who, making it, to date, the only element of the series to be released to home video.
List of episodes
- See: List of Totally Doctor Who episodes for more information about particular guest stars and segment contents.
Home video releases
Unlike Confidential, which is available (albeit in edited form) on DVD, no release has occurred for Totally Doctor Who, with the exception of an edited-together version of The Infinite Quest and some behind-the-scenes material related to the serial, which was released to DVD in the UK in 2007 and in North America in November 2008.
- Internet Movie Database at the