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4/19/2005 06:55:00 pm - Reported by Shaun Lyon

April 19, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
The official site has metamorphosed again, changing slightly (but keeping the "BBC News" theme) for the next episode, "World War III". Note: there are spoilers on the front page including what the aliens look like and a spoiler on two of the characters, so if you haven't seen the episode, it's probably not a good idea to look. (They've also got a link to that UNIT website we reported on yesterday...)

Update on this weekend's viewing figures: Doctor Who Confidential on April 16 had 497,660 viewers (3.59% viewing share), while the BBC3 Sunday night repeats of Aliens of London and Confidential had 598,800 viewers (3.98% share) and 405,030 viewers (2.54% share), respectively. The good news here is that, even though "Ant and Dec" beat "Doctor Who" for the first time, these figures performed really well again. "Confidential" was only beaten by Sky One's "The Simpsons" and was second in the multi channel time slot Even better, the repeat showings on Sunday of "Aliens of London" was number one in its time slot, "Confidential" at number five.

According to the Daily Mail, David Tennant's salary will be around half of what Christopher Eccleston's was. "David Tennant may be the Casanova of telly but he's in a Tardis as far as money is concerned," says the Mail. "It's been revealed that the Beeb will only pay him half the salary Christopher Eccleston got to play Doctor Who. Shallow Grave star Christopher, 41, announced he was bowing out straight after the first episode of the comeback series had aired, after a 16-year hiatus. David, 33, will only get around half of Chris' ú600,000 to become the tenth timelord. According to the Daily Mail, with all the cutbacks at the BBC, Doctor Who's producers were also under intense pressure to cut costs. A source said: 'There was some relief that Chris went as he was so expensive. The show was only going to be recommissioned if the costs were cut." There is considerable speculation that finances had something to do with the change of lead actors, as noted in this article.

Friday's Broadcast (dated 15 April), the broadcast industry trade magazine, features some comments in their ratings section with regard to the first episode of the new Doctor Who series and the mention of a new peak rating. The ratings section itself (p.30) features the by-line at the top: "The new Doctor Who materialises into seventh place with 10.8 million viewers - but can it continue to hold its own among the soaps?" There is then an article about the week's ratings generally, titled "Old favourites from the 1970s put BBC1 ahead." The article begins: "The climax of the film 'The Last Samurai' has two ill-matched armies facing up to each other for a setpiece battle - the Samurai, armed with bows and arrows, their enemy with cannons and rifles. This week, Saturday night was a bit like that - the light entertainment Samurai forces of ITV verses the high-tech new generation of 'Doctor Who.' The result - 10.8 million for BBC1's 'Doctor Who' and 7.5 million for ITV1's 'Ant and Dec', both at 7pm. At its peak, 11.3 million people were watching 'Doctor Who.'The magazine also shows ratings for multichannel only and places Doctor Who Confidential in third place with 0.87 million viewers for Saturday 26th March, behind Tsunami Football Testimonial at 1 (Sky One) and Meet the Parents at 2 (BBC Three). Doctor Who: A New Dimension is at 67 in the list of network programmes with a final rating of 4.02 million and a 25.55% share.

Today's Mirror has reworked David Tennant's comments at the BAFTA ceremony at the weekend as an "interview". Apparently, "Tennant confessed to 3am [showbiz gossip column] that he's terrified of messing up the biggest role of his career", although there are no quotes to back this up, and the rest of the piece is more concerned with innuendo about his love life and drinking habits.

The Guardian today includes an article by Zoe Williams, "It's the 1980s, but don't panic", which comments on the return of Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "If you're old enough for your formative years to be the focus of all cultural retro-thrusts, then the chances are that you're the ones in charge, and it's your fault, not your parents' at all, that everything's going wrong." The same paper's round-up of media coverage in this morning's press notes the Mirror story and that the Daily Mail is claiming that David Tennant "has been forced to accept a cut-price deal from the BBC".

"Exclusive: Doctor Who Monsters in the Making: meet the Slitheen!" says the front cover of the new edition of Radio Times, which, for the fifth consecutive week, has Doctor Who as its top recommendation for Saturday in its selection of the week's best television (page 4), with a small photo of the Doctor walking past a police car. This week's letters include a response from Karen Davies (page 9) defending her win in the Mastermind Special last month: "Surely I'm not the first contestant to win on the strength of their general knowledge as well as their chosen subject?" This week's full-colour, two-page spread (pages 12 and 13) shows Neill Gorton making Slitheen outfits and a smaller Slitheen model, accompanied by a brief interview with Gorton. This weekend's episode is again one of Saturday's Choices (page 62), described as "a strange but enjoyable brew of body-snatching horror (unsuitable for the very young), political intrigue and flatulence gags [...] Nifty effects and Russell T Davies's wry one-liners keep things humming, while references to weapons of mass destruction and the future prime minister keep the chaotic action nicely grounded. But you sense that the best is yet to come in this series." Also selected is the next edition of the "terrific" Doctor Who Confidential: "Comparisons between the old and new series are often amusing, and fans will smile to see some old faces." Finally, "Next week in RT... They're back! Don't miss our Dalek special, and free giant poster offer!"

Prospect magazine says that "First came University Challenge and the return of Parkinson. Now we have got the return of Doctor Who, Come Dancing, Ask the Family, The Two Ronnies and Quatermass-all retro-television. There is no doubt which has had the most impact. Over the past weeks you could not escape the Dalek jokes, Ron Grainer's haunting music, the forty-something nostalgia. Part of its secret was the format which gave the writers the freedom to take the doctor and his companion(s) anywhere, any time. Yet it was always very much about one place at one time: 1960s Britain. The first episode of the revived series, like the last episode in 1989 and the very first episode in 1963, is set in contemporary London. As executive producer and chief scriptwriter, Russell T Davies, said the doctor and his new companion "are deliberately running past Big Ben, they're on Westminster bridge, there are double decker buses, because that's a great big signal at the start saying, 'This is British.'" But what kind of Britain? Trafalgar Square and black cabs or Rose's single mum, glued to daytime television, tower blocks and Cockney accents. This uncertainty about Britishness was always at the heart of the original Doctor Who. ... British television, like Britain in the 1960s, is lost in time, without a positive sense of identity. What is BBC1 for? Or ITV? As they haemorrhage viewers, they keep looking back to a lost, golden age when everyone knew what the big networks were there for. Wheeling out the Daleks is just a symptom of a loss of nerve."

According to today's Daily StarEve Myles (Gwyneth in "The Unquiet Dead") will next play an underwear model in "Belonging," a BBC Wales series.

Some other press reports: CBBC Newsround Showbiz had a brief mention on the Sunday (17 April) edition, which was voiceover about the series being 'too scary for kids, after 63 complaints were received' (which contradicts the number reported by BBC News), over a clip from the Doctor Who main titles buried in their 'other news' section. In today's (19 April) METRO newspaper, a letter from Darrell Mlynarz, Manchester, headed 'JUST ZIP IT' asks: "After viewing Saturday's episode of Doctor Who, I think someone should check out John Prescott's (Deputy Prime Minister) forehead for signs of a zip?" And today at 12:25 a Dalek asked a question in relation to eligibility to seek election on the BBC Daily Politics Election Special, in the Ask Daisy section.

More links from stories the past few days: the casting of David Tennant at theHerald SunNew York TimesChud NewsBBC NewsVariety(subscription needed); Christopher Eccleston in "The DaVinci Code" story reported at Film FodderContact MusicFemaleFirstFilm Guardian; Tennant at the BAFTA's reported at Kerala Next.

(Thanks to Steve Tribe, Paul Engelberg, Chuck Foster, Andy Parish, Mark Williams, Richard Estep, Richard Allison, Mark Stammers, Steven Laing)