Daleks to invade Wellington

WELLINGTON'S ONLY HOPE:  Doctor Who music arranger and conductor Ben Foster will defend the capital against the Daleks this weekend.
WELLINGTON'S ONLY HOPE: Doctor Who music arranger and conductor Ben Foster will defend the capital against the Daleks this weekend.

Ben Foster has a plan to defeat the impending Dalek invasion of Wellington.

The Bafta winner, who has arranged and conducted composer Murray Gold's Doctor Who scores since the show returned in 2005, will appear in the capital this weekend with a special Dalek-defeating weapon.

"I have my very own sonic baton," Foster said as he munched breakfast ahead of heading off to rehearsals this (Weds) morning with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

"It was given to me by the Doctor to defend the orchestra against the potential invasion of Daleks, which seems to happen pretty regularly at these concerts."

Tickets are still available for the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular at the TSB Bank Arena on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night.

Foster said his sonic baton, a nod to the Doctor's own sonic screwdriver, was created "by the Gallifrey Props Workshop on Gallifrey and delivered to the Tardis in time for the BBC Prom in July".

He was talking about the BBC's third Doctor Who at the Proms event which filled the Royal Albert Hall with music and monsters from the show that turned 50 on November 23.

"I have been custodian of the sonic baton ever since," Foster boasted.

"I will have it in my hand until my dying day. It's a little dangerous; sometimes you can take a few cellos out with it. There's a particularly powerful ray at the end of it. I use it to fight the Daleks.

"If you're sitting on the ends of rows you might want to keep your hands in. There are a lot of unwelcome visitors in the TSB Arena. When you see a Doctor Who monster face to face it's a fairly serious and exciting and slightly scary prospect.

"When I was a kid we used to go and see exhibitions and all you had was a little bit of glass and old costumes propped up. These days we have got living breathing monsters wandering around the arena so you're in for a real treat.

"Many are [from the actual series]. One of the Daleks we tour has been remade but it's been made by the same team of people that make the costumes for the show. Sometimes they're made lighter so that you can carry it, transport it.

"The Cybermen are, the Ood, the Judoon - all those heads are original from the show. It's incredible that we are allowed to bring them out and play with them. They are iconic and probably pretty valuable, and I get to hold Handles."

This weekend's events will feature a lot of new material from last year's Christmas Special The Time of the Doctor, in which Matt Smith bowed out, as well as the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor.

"We have also got some amazing new pieces - surprise pieces I think is the best way to describe it - featuring some Doctor Who favourites," Foster enthused.

"We have got some videos and we have got some terrific, terrific monsters in the auditorium including some of the latest and most terrifying adversaries of the Doctor, the Silence, the Whisper Men, so really it's a fresh show . . . we constantly update it."

Choosing what makes the show is a collaborative effort which Foster is involved in with Gold and producer Paul Bullock.

"We sit down and go through what we had in the past which worked," he said.

"Maybe there are some pieces that we never ever want to lose because they are so iconic and such great pieces of music that Murray's written for the series along the way - things like Vale Decem, the farewell to (10th Doctor) David Tennant, things like Gallifrey, which is a big anthem that Murray wrote way back in Series 3.

"Those pieces are kind of evergreen and they stick around."

New material includes music from The Rings of Akhaten, the musical episode penned by Wellington-based Neil Cross, which quickly became a fan favourite.

"I always love Vale Decem," Foster said.

"It feels like it's a real affirmation of everything that we worked on I guess in the three and a bit years of David Tennant.

"So all that music is finally summed up in this wonderful choral piece and visually that's a stunning piece in the original television show and also in the updated and recently refreshed version of the clips that we have put together for the live show.

"So this is a very important compilation of the clips of the Doctor regenerating so we farewell all Doctors rather than just Tennant and, of course, it may or may not feature some footage from the recent regeneration of Matt Smith (into Peter Capaldi)."

Capaldi's first series, Series 8, is in production and Foster signalled a possible change in musical tone once the new Doctor had got his shiny new Loake boots under the Tardis console.

"Murray hasn't written anything yet, at least I haven't heard anything's written," Foster said.

"Whether or not we go for the bagpipes orchestra to reflect Peter's Scottish history it remains to be seen."

Foster hoped this weekend's events and future Doctor Who symphonies pulled in all ages.

"We saw an opportunity to involve kids in orchestral presentation and honestly, at the heart of it, I still feel that that's a very important spot to pick educationally.

"It feels like a responsibility we have because education-wise music can often get pushed to the bottom of the queue and we need to give the kids an experience of seeing an orchestra at its very best in a setting surrounded by other pieces of music and other concerts and other orchestras, and think that this orchestral presentation [does that].

"This orchestral music, is something that should be taken seriously and something that hopefully will inspire kids to get involved in music, either as composers, conductors hopefully, orchestrators, and instrumentalists . . . I think music needs that support right now.

"Doctor Who is such an ionic gig and such a lovely part of my career. I enjoy taking the orchestra in and conducting roll because I think Murray produces amazing music."