Within the last couple of days the BBC released pictures of Peter Capaldi in costume as the Doctor, our first glimpse of what his Doctor will look like. The reaction so far has been positive – it’s a classily nostalgic combo of Hartnell and Pertwee without the former’s funny little hat and the latter’s abundance of ruffs, cuffs and crushed velvet.
I imagine the reason they released the image is that this week the Doctor Who crew have taken to the streets of Cardiff to film outdoor scenes for the next series, so sooner or later some silly, walking cliche of a fan would have posted a blurry pic of Capaldi via Facebook or Twitter…
Yes. That’s right. I was there to see a bit of it. Or, more accurately, I was able to watch them film a scene between Capaldi and Jenna Coleman from the “comfort” of a cycling machine in my gym. Having this eagle’s eye view of the shoot was great. I hadn’t known they would be filming there this morning, so it was all a surprise, and seeing Capaldi step out of the TARDIS, in costume, gave me actual goosebumps, but as anyone who’s ever worked on a film or TV show will tell you, filming is a long, arduous and very boring experience, so as fun as it was, I didn’t really get to see much action.
Or, at least, I didn’t see much action that will end up in the show. What I did see, and what had my chuckling as I pedalled and sweated like the undignified and slightly overweight man I am, were bystanders, and not just bystanders, but that specific breed of people you see whenever anything’s being filmed: The ones who think they’ll end up on the telly. They fall roughly into the following three groups:
The Wavers and Face-Pullers
These are the ones, usually male, usually aged between 11 and 50, who whenever they see anything being filmed lean into shot and wave or pull a face. As with all People Who Think They’re Going to End Up On Telly, this only ever works during a live broadcast, and there are plenty of It’ll Be Alright On The Night clips dedicated to that particular genre.
That doesn’t stop the Wavers and Face-Pullers from trying it on when they come across a movie or an episode of Casualty being filmed. They see a camera, then wave and/or gurn, because they don’t for one second think an observant director or AD or cameraman will spot them and say, “We have to go again. That c**t just gurned at the camera.”
Craftier than the Waver, the Saunterer has every bit as much desire to end up on telly, but feigns nonchalance. They’re too clever to succumb to the Waver’s vanity, and they know not to look directly into the lens. Instead, once the camera has been spotted they slow right down so that they walk through the shot as slowly as possible… while glancing occasionally at the camera to make sure they’re in shot.
But that doesn’t matter, because surely if you only glance at the camera for a split second it doesn’t matter. Well, actually… yes it does. On the off chance that you make it into the background of a shot in a TV drama or film, and the director sees you looking into the camera, you’ll end up on the cutting room floor. Where you belong.
These are my absolute favourite, because unlike the Wavers & Face-pullers or Saunterers, they really don’t want to end up on telly. What’s more, they really don’t want to waste the director, cast and crews’ time by ruining their take. That’s just how considerate they are. That’s why, to prevent both themselves from ending up in shot and the cast and crew from wasting their time, they glance right into the camera like a startled hare, before breaking into a jog to get out of shot as quickly as possible. Because nothing says “naturalism” like a random person in the background stopping, staring right through the fourth wall, and then for no apparent reason breaking into a jog.