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The Star Beast Director Rachel Talalay Had No Involvement with the Doctor Who Pre-Titles [UPDATED]

It may have been a little while ago when the three Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials aired, but according to Rachel Talalay, who directed The Star Beast, she had no involvement with filming the pre-titles which featured the Fourteenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) recapping the events of Series 4. This was confirmed on Twitter (now called X, but everyone still calls it Twitter, right?) when she replied to a fan about the fact that the shots with Donna breaking the fourth wall in the kitchen were “outtakes”.

Understandably, Talalay elaborated on the subject during the Chicago TARDIS 2023 event, a week earlier, as summarised in this Bleeding Cool article:

“Well, at the Chicago TARDIS convention event last week, the director of The Star Beast, Rachel Talalay, said that she hadn’t anything to do with the prologue. Doug Zetlin, in the audience for the Q&A, told me that Talalay says she only found out about the prologue when her child called to ask about it, who had been watching the BBC broadcast live. And that was how Talalay found out that such a prologue had been added. At the time of the convention, she hadn’t seen it. What she directed begins with the credits. She wasn’t upset about it, but it did seem a strange way of doing things. It smacks a little of those Marvel post-credit scenes that the director of the movie discovers exist when the movie is screened…”

Furthermore, writer Russell T Davies specifically touched on the opening scene of London in his Letter from the Showrunner feature in DWM 595:

“OPENING SHOT oh my God, that’s London, too much London?, I liked Sheffield, SHEFFIELD SNUB is this stock footage? How much does stock footage cost, are you telling me the very first shot of new Doctor Who is from stock, is that WISE?”

At the time it was published, I had the impression that The Star Beast was originally intended to open with the title sequence. Seems to me that they were aiming to appeal to casual viewers who needed to catch up on the DoctorDonna arc, as well as providing a “recap” for fans. But it, so far, remains a mystery as to who directed the pre-titles, and what was the main reason behind the last minute addition. As much as I enjoyed the pre-titles, in hindsight, I think it would’ve been better suited as a separate prequel, therefore making it optional for fans and casual viewers alike. Something more in line with He Said, She Said — one of the prequels to the Series 7 finale, The Name of the Doctor.

And recently, I did my own fan edits of the title sequence, and a few other variants (with a separate edit that ‘fixes’ the pre-titles), which include an extended opening shot that begins with a colourful nebula effect inside the TARDIS lamp. Since it syncs perfectly well with the theme sting, I believe this would’ve been the case had The Star Beast followed the exact same manner as the Series 1 opener, Rose, which did the right thing to kick off a new era by omitting the pre-titles. (For more information, please read the description in my YouTube video.)

UPDATE: During The Star Beast commentary at the Gallifrey One 2024 fan convention, on 16th February, Talalay pointed out that the recap was subject to debate amongst Disney, without her involvement. If they had decided to produce it as a minisode instead, I believe it would’ve ended up being something akin to my re-edit of the pre-titles.

Andrew Hsieh

Aspiring screenwriter with Asperger's syndrome, and lifelong Whovian since (shortly after) Christopher Eccleston's reign, Andrew has written and co-edited short story anthologies for Divergent Wordsmiths. Plus, he lives near Bannerman Road.

The Star Beast Director Rachel Talalay Had No Involvement with the Doctor Who Pre-Titles [UPDATED]

by Andrew Hsieh time to read: 3 min
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