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4/04/2005 07:16:00 pm - Reported by Shaun Lyon


April 4, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
Today's "Monkey" column in MediaGuardian alludes to the departure ofChristopher Eccleston, which seemed strangely ironic given the news of the BBC's about face that would come only hours later. Written before the BBC announced that it had, in fact, been in error referring to Eccleston fearing typecasting, the column featured the following on Eccleston and David Tennant: "It was an example of tactical cunning worthy of Davros himself. The BBC has known for three months that Christopher Eccleston wouldn't do a second series of Doctor Who, but played dumb for fear the star's imminent departure would puncture the hype around the show's return. The BBC's favourite to succeed him, David Tennant, can be expected to stick around a little longer - when he was three years old the Casanova star used to run around his garden pretending to be the doctor, and says his earliest memory is watching Jon Pertwee regenerate into Tom Baker. Such devotion. Whisper it quietly, but he also collects Doctor Who DVDs. Christopher Eccleston says he quit Doctor Who because he was worried about being typecast. You shouldn't have worried about that, Chris - you'll always be DCI Bilborough to us."

Director Joe Ahearne, who's helmed five episodes this season, has some strong words in support of Eccleston in today's MediaGuardian. "How dare Chris Eccleston have a life and ambitions (Who's next as new Doctor quits, March 31). So he's pulled off a staggering performance on a punishing schedule (with unfailing good humour and grace on set) revitalising the Doctor for a new generation. He's only done a mere 10 hours of thrilling television. God forbid we should give him a round of applause." "Bravo, Joe," we say!

Doctor Who Confidential episode two's ratings have been released; according to ViewingFigures, an average of 761,341 viewers watched the Saturday night BBC3 documentary that aired after episode two of the new series, with a peak of 813,217 viewers. These continue to be excellent ratings for BBC3.

With regard to the ratings of The End of the World itself, despite the positive spin on it all weekend as it came in first in its time slot, the general tone seems to be shifting now toward "Doctor Who losing viewers." Says theic Network, "Viewing figures for Doctor Who has dropped more than two-and-a-half million since Christopher Eccleston announced he was quitting," focusing on the expected drop rather than the fact that it beat Ant + Dec by more than a million viewers. Other papers that discussed the ratings situation today were the GuardianMedia WeekDaily Record, and The Mirror.

All this week, the CBBC Channel is running a jokey campaign to get presenter Devon Anderson (from kid's comedy series "Kerching") made the new Doctor. CBBC Producer Guy Lambert told Outpost Gallifrey that this mock campaign will run until Thursday morning, "every morning on the live links during the programmes."

Tomorrow's Southland Echo carries a story about Albert Valentine, the seven-year-old who stars in the forthcoming two-parter "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" as Outpost Gallifrey first reported several months ago. The article, written by Simon Bishop, notes that Albert spent almost three weeks in January shooting alongside stars Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. "Despite having his dad, Dean, along for the duration of the filming, in Cardiff, Albert admitted: 'I still missed my mum.' ... But as long as the youngster, from Grays, is doing well in his lessons at Stifford Clays Junior School, his mum Alison doesnÆt mind. Dean said he had to remain tight-lipped about what happened in the episodes, but he did reveal a little about his sonÆs part: ... spoiler protection here, run your mouse over it: heÆs actually an intergalactic time traveller whose presence on earth puts the human race in danger. Says Dean, "The episodes are set in wartime London and Albert is found in a bombed-out house. HeÆs a mysterious time child and whatever happens to him happens to everyone else. In the filming, he has plenty of lines with both Billie and the Doctor. It was quite touching at the end of his last scene, because all the crew clapped and congratulated him on doing so well. And we got to keep the special mask that he had to wear for part of the show." "Albert and his two brothers Harry, 12, and Arthur, nine, are no strangers to television, all of them having appeared in adverts. Albert was most recently seen as the boy who says 'I hate fish' in the Kelloggs Muggles ad. Mum Alison has also been through the child star experience herself û she played Fay in "Grange Hill" between 1982 and 1987." Albert admitted he didn't know too much about Doctor Who before the cameras started to roll û hardly surprising, given the long-running sci-fi series has been off our screens since 1989. "My mum and dad told me a bit about what he was like. I told my teacher about the part and she thought that it was exciting."

The Newsround website today carries the story about Christopher Eccleston's leather jacket causing a surge in the purchase of jackets across the country. (On the "Newsround" homepage click on the picture of Doctor Who which is in the section on celebrity gossip and this takes you to the very brief story and the other Doctor Who-related items including a Behind-The-Scenes report on "The End Of The World".) The story was also picked up by the Sun andAnanova.

Today's edition of Blue Peter featured Christopher Eccleston, in costume/character as Doctor Who, in a brief, pre-recorded item about two young fans who had constructed a Dalek out of a compost bin. Konnie Huq presented the item, during which Christopher Eccleston appeared (much to the amazement of the young fans), and vanquished the "Dalek" with the aid of his Blue Peter badge (the Sonic Screwdriver being absent)! There were no detailed instructions on how to make the Dalek compost bin, but these currently appear on the "Blue Peter" website.

TodayÆs Daily Express has a review of The End of the World by their resident TV critic Charlie Catchpole on page 13. Accompanied by a promo photo of Rose and the Doctor, and under the heading "Forget the laughs, Doc, give us fear", it notes that "guest of honour was the last æpure humanÆ in the galaxy, Lady Cassandra, who consisted of two eyes and a mouth in the middle of a piece of tightly stretched skin. I was thinking that she reminded me of someone, when she announced that sheÆd had 708 operations and didnÆt look a day over 2,000. Yes, of course. Anne Robinson." The reviewer noted that the episode was "a bit too jokey and not scary enough for my liking."

MSN Entertainment are doing a "Vote for your choice for the next Doctor Who"webpage; the choices are between David Tennant, Richard E. Grant, Alan Davies, Bill Nighy and Paul McGann, all of whom have either been or been linked to the role of the Doctor. Meanwhile, the SciFi ChannelÆs Science Fiction Weekly is covering the new show here: "Many things are the same and yet everything is different. Gone are the wobbly sets, woefully bad FX and rather unconvincing aliens. But the most astonishing change is that instead of casting an actor who is basically playing a version of himself, the ninth Doctor Who is a serious, intense character actor. ... There's even room for in-jokes."

Today's Norwich Evening News ran a story on brothers Angus and Duncan Cameron entering the next London Marathon running as Cybermen; theBirmingham Evening Mail discusses Doctor Who memorabilia; theExpressnotes that OK!'s Celebrity Charts today have at #7 Christopher Eccleston: "Salfordborn thespian tells BBC bosses he won't film another series of Doctor Who despite rave reviews"; the Daleks will be "invading Weston" soon according to the Weston Mercury, which discusses the forthcomingGalaxy of Stars event; the Guardian has a list of Doctors with links to notes about them; the Times published a Viewing Guide reference for David Tennant; the Swindon Evening Advertiser discussed the recent reports that Chris Evans blames "Doctor Who" for his breakup with Billie Piper; and theManchester Online discusses Web Film Studios in Salford, Manchester, co-owner Bob Horsefield's plans to develop the site. And which particular production does he want to bring there: "Our aim is to get the new series of Doctor Who filmed here," he says. "It is written by Manchester's Russell T Davies after all."

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Chuck Foster, Simon Bishop, Andy Parish, Paul Hayes, Vince Stadon, Andy Hinton, Faiz Rehman, Jamie Austin, David Rafer, Steven Perry, Robert Booth, and Guy Lambert)