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4/12/2005 07:05:00 pm - Reported by Shaun Lyon

April 12, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
Just a brief series update today...

The official site has once again been updated with a new motif -- that of a BBC news report -- for the next two episodes, "Aliens of London" and "World War Three."

The new Radio Times published today (16-22 April) again heavily promotes the new series: Aliens of London is the first choice for Saturday in the magazine's choice of the week's best television (page 4), with a photo of Rose and a Slitheen ("After an alien spaceship crash-lands, the Doctor must save the world û but not before facing the wrath of Rose's mum..."). A letter praising David Tennant's performance in Casanova elicits the response, "Watch this space û David Tennant may rematerialise as the new Doctor Who..." on page 9 (and there's also an opportunity to get preview tickets for the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie). A double-spread shows several pictures of Mike Tucker's team creating the models and effects for the destruction of Big Ben ("Killing Time", page 12). TV Editor Alison Graham leads her "Television" column (page 69) with a discussion of Christopher Eccleston's departure from the series û she specualates that the news may have contributed to the expected drop in rataings between episodes 1 and 2 ("I wonder just how many [...] walked away after taking umbrage with the show's star"), observing that "The outcry [...] was immediate and spectacular". She criticises that response as showing "an absurd lack of perspective", although she recognises that "Audiences can be very proprietorial about their TV heroes [...] And no one likes their heroes to be slighted or mucked around. If there's one thing to be learnt [...] it's that audiences' affections are not to be trifled with." She points out that Doctor Who will return û "calm down, dear, he's only a Time Lord." This week's episode misses out on being Saturday's pick of the day, but is still one of the day's top choices (page 70), as is the next edition of Doctor Who Confidential, both getting very positive write-ups, particularly for Penelope Wilton. Saturday's "On this day" (page 71) notes the shared anniversaries of the final part of Genesis of the Daleks and the start of Terry Nation's Survivors. Finally, another Slitheen photo heads the BBC1 listings for Saturday evening.

press release from the BBC Press Office yesterday notes that, "On the eve of MIPTV, BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, has concluded two major deals for the brand new first series of Doctor Who... Following a deal struck at this year's BBC Showcase, Thomsonfly (formerly Britannia Airways Ltd) will broadcast episode one of the new series to passengers from 1 May on each of its video-equipped planes, on all routes around the world." The story also confirms the sale of the show to Italy to the Jimmyentertainment pay-TV channel, which we previously reported. Interestingly, the press release notes that "Doctor Who is a co-production with CBC in Canada," perhaps the first time this relationship has truly been quantified.

Last night saw the broadcast of Russell T Davies: Unscripted, a documentary/interview on BBC 4. Today'sGuardian noted that it was "a timely tribute to a man who's done more than anyone to drag television drama into the 21st century, but it did have a slight whiff of editorial control," noting that Davies' recollection of his career was "one long series of happy accidents. ... All of which is true, but I couldn't help longing to hear about the setbacks. The pre-Queer years, in which he did journeyman work at Granada, were glossed over with a few clips from The Grand, his somewhat overblown period piece. But there was no mention of Revelations, the rambling, crazy tale of a country bishop and his sexually precocious offspring, shunted out in the graveyard shift, watched only by a handful of slavering fans who recognised genius when they saw it. And there was no discussion of Davies's spectacular falling-out with Channel 4, who, unbelievably, passed on his first post-Queer project, which must have been a body blow at the time." (As an aside, the Guardian's Education section here has a brief feature on Simon Pegg, which notes his "Cameo appearance as a villain in the new series of Doctor Who.")

Richard Franklin, who played Captain Mike Yates alongside Jon Pertwee and the "UNIT era" cast of 1970's Doctor Who, had a sharply-worded letter in today's Brighton Evening Argus, in which he lambasts Christopher Eccleston's decision to leave the title role of the new series. "An actor is like a balloon," writes Franklin, "nothing, no one, until someone else breathes air into him. He is dependent upon the writer, the director and the lesser members of the cast who support their star on his or her imaginary pinnacle." Franklin says that in the case of Doctor Who, "fandom is absolutely crucial. This new series of Dr. Who would not have happened at all but for the continued pressure of fandom" since the cancellation in the 1980's. Franklin pays homage to fan support over the years before he takes Eccleston to task for what he feels is the latter's consideration of the role as "no more than a stepping stone. I find this insulting and ungrateful to the fans, who would have taken him to their hearts, and to the BBC, who have given him the accolade of a unique television role... His departure is not much thanks for a leg-up most actors would have given their right arm for and a glaring example of the greed, selfishness and cult of celebrity which blights modern Britain."There are apparently Doctor Who viewers in the American media. According to a report on the MSNBC website, one of their on-screen reporters made a comment during the nightly Keith Olbermann show about the series. Referring to the recent Charles-Camilla nuptials, reporter Michael Okwu said, "...Fewer than 8 million British watched the event on television. Fewer than sporting events and even a popular science fiction spoof here called 'Dr. Who.'" Olbermann, quick on the uptake, replied "Well, I can understand that, the whole TV ratings thing, because if I had my choice of a wedding or watching 'Dr. Who,' I'd watch 'Dr. Who' every time."

ABC Australia has announced it will round out the hour of broadcast of the new series (which only runs 45 minutes) with shortened versions of "Little Britain" narrated by Tom Baker. According to Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper, the 15-minute 'episodes' will be called "Very Little Britain," and will debut with the series. Meanwhile, ABC will broadcast the Christopher Eccleston miniseries "The Second Coming," written by Russell T Davies, on May 1.

The Daily Politics show has "invited some of the nation's favourite celebrities and regular programme guests" to take part in commentary during the forthcoming political campaign. Says the report on BBC News, "Even one of the Daleks from Dr Who gets in on the act!"

Note to North American readers: both the SFX Doctor Who Special andDigit Magazine with the Doctor Who cover story have hit bookshelves as of today, at least in the major chains such as Barnes and Noble.

On the BBC's Entertainment page today, front section: " Imagine If... Rose from Doctor Who chose her top four web sites. Where on earth would she want to go?" There are links to four separate sections of the BBC site from that blurb... BBC History, Women's Health, Science and Space... and of course, the Doctor Who section. Of course, Rose is quite popular right now... in today's Daily Record, "former Doctor Who Colin Baker says he would have preferred to share the Tardis with Billie Piper, who stars as Rose Tyler, below, than any of his sexy female sidekicks. He said: 'My two assistants were great, but Billie is amazing. She's beautiful.'"

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Mark Rushford, Ian O'Brien, Alan Siler, Stephen Laing, Paul Hayes, Christopher Scott, and David Guest)