On a lark, Billy Hanshaw, a pro CGI artist in the U.K., put together his own idea for an opening title sequence for Season 8 of "Doctor Who." He put it up on YouTube and Vimeo, where it quickly went viral. It wasn't long before showrunner Steven Moffat came across it. Moffat liked it so much, he's employed it as the inspiration for the real deal.
Hanshaw's title sequence takes a decidedly new approach. Starting with a close-up of the Doctor's pocket watch, the camera zooms inside it, pushing through endless cogs and gears as the names of stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman fade into view. From there, the TARDIS finally appears, soaring into an Alice in Wonderland-type infinite clock face before finally entering the time vortex, where the Seal of Rassilon appears along with the "Doctor Who" logo. Ending with a look at Capaldi's reflection on the back of the watch, which then flies away into the cosmos.
Perhaps what's most unique about the animation is that the TARDIS is not the focus of it. Past title sequences have always put the TARDIS front and center, but this one spends more time on a stylized interpretation of the notion of time travel.
Speaking yesterday during the "Doctor Who World Tour," on its stop in New York City, Moffat said that after finding the YouTube video, he found it "absolutely stunning." The show's mastermind called it "the only new title idea I'd seen since 1963," and hired Billy Hanshaw to work with BBC Wales to create the Season 8 titles -- which are inspired by and based on Hanshaw's original concept.
"Doctor Who" returns to television on August 23, with an 80-minute season premiere episode titled "Deep Breath."