Whether you know him best for his colourisation of classic Doctor Who scenes or his impressive music video tributes, you’ve almost certainly heard of Stuart Humphryes — though you likely know him best as Babel Colour. We caught up with him recently to ask him about his various Who-related works and what we can expect from him next.
Stuart: It’s funny how things pan out and how “fame” of any sort can creep up on someone. I think you are probably right that I am best known for my fan videos but they are just diversions to pass a few hours in the evening after work. They are hobbies, the way some people do jigsaw puzzles or play XBox. People don’t usually acquire any kind fame for doing hobbies, they usually acquire it because of their career choices: They might be an actor or a singer, or a writer or director, but seldom an amateur YouTube editor. It’s a quirk of the Internet Age we are living through. And I say all this because, if I were to have offered a guess as to why I’d be best known amongst Doctor Who fans I would have ventured it was because of my paid work, bringing back some of 70’s Who to colour for the BBC. The DVD work constitutes my highest profile work and my most historically significant in regards to the show’s legacy and yet, realistically, I am less remembered for that than I am for making amusing mash-up videos on-line. It just goes to show that no-one is ever in control of their own destiny!That being said, has has been a long and leisurely stroll to widespread awareness of my work and existence. Next year makes 10 years of Babelcolour of YouTube, so nothing happened over night. I’d started colourising Doctor Who photographs in on-line forums about 12 years ago, under the username BabelFish. I subsequently had the BabelFish Colourisation Website on which I produced more colourised stills and moving gifs and so, when I eventually joined-up to YouTube in 2006, I envisaged I would be predominantly uploading colourised videos. That is why, when the name ‘BabelFish’ turned out to be unavailable on YouTube I used the name BabelColour instead. Although the colour aspect of the work has actually been very much in the minority.
(Re)Gen: You do everything from recuts of the Time War to goofy dance videos. What inspires you to do videos?
Stuart: A war against boredom, quite honestly. It has a habit of pervading the evenings when I get home and I look for ways to keep it at bay. If I think of an idea that makes me chuckle, or hear a song than makes me laugh or tap my toes, they are all motivational forces to make to sit down and invest my time in creating something around them, all in the constant hope of stimulating my interest and quashing the tedium. Which, I imagine, is the motivating force behind every kind of hobby. Sometimes I look for the quick fix, like a quickly cut music video that may only take me two days to make – it’s an instant hit of interest, like doing a crossword puzzle, that isn’t very taxing technically or intellectually. But then there are the big grandiose projects like ‘The Time War Chronicles’ which take a couple of months to construct or ‘The Ten Doctors’, with each episode constituting 6 months work. Vast investments of time and energy, logically very demanding and challenging, and those projects are like building the Houses of Parliament out of matchsticks. Altogether more artistically challenging endeavours.
(Re)Gen: Who’s ‘your’ Doctor? You don’t have to pick just one if it’s too tough!
Stuart: I grew up in the early 70s and so Tom Baker was the man who steered me through childhood. I was at my most impressionable when the Doctor, Sarah and Harry were defending the Universe from the gothic horrors of the Hinchcliffe era. So he was “my” Doctor. Although I have felt awfully unfaithful recently with the emergence of Peter Capaldi. He’s doing an utterly magnificent job of wrestling the crown from King Tom. He’s only one season in and I couldn’t put my hand on my hearts and say he hadn’t won me over more quickly than any other Doctor.
(Re)Gen: Has Series 8 given you any new inspiration for videos? What can your fans look forward to next?
Stuart: Season 8 most certainly has re-invigorated my enthusiasm for Doctor Who. My latest upload was a tribute to Peter’s first season and I dare say I shall be doing a tribute video to the man himself some time soon. There have been constant clamourings for the final instalment of The Ten Doctors ever since I started the project, but my enthusiasm for the story and narrative took a massive dent when the BBC deleted the first episode from YouTube. I saw absolutely no point investing 6 months hard work to complete a story that was already incomplete at its start. The fans all asked for it, but I don’t think they understood how much work it entailed nor how much my enthusiasm for it had been damaged. However, I tentatively re-uploaded the first episode last year to see if it would stay on-line and, so far, it has. So I may actually finish the concluding episode later in the year. It would have been done a long time ago if it hadn’t been zapped by the Beeb.
(Re)Gen: If someone who’d never seen your work wanted to see what it is you do, what video would you suggest they start with?
Stuart: That is an incredibly tricky question as my videos are varied and tonally very disparate. I suppose it all depends on whether they want some silliness and frivolity or whether they want some thrills and epic drama. I have emotional memorial tributes to those actors who have tragically left us, I have comedy videos that consist mainly of grunts and squeaks. I have informative videos that catalogue every episode of the series or every snippet of information about either the Doctor’s past on Gallifrey or the Time War. There are colourisation videos and character tributes and then there’s the Ten Doctors which offers up a brand new Doctor Who drama. I couldn’t recommend one above the other, I would merely invite fans to pop along to my YouTube Channel and sample a cross-section of Babelcolour output. The work is so varied I’d be amazed if there wasn’t at least one video amongst them that didn’t make the trip worthwhile!.