Thursday, 21 April 2005

Wednesday-Thursday Series News Updates


April 21, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
The official ratings for The Unquiet Dead were released by BARB: 8.86 million viewers officially watched the show; it was the fifth most watched program of the week, beaten only by multiple episodes of "Coronation Street," "EastEnders," "Emmerdale" and "Heartbeat." The show actually came in at number 15 for the week, though three of the other four series (except "Heartbeat") show multiple episodes weekly. These final ratings include viewers who recorded the program for viewing later in the week.

Overnight ratings from the Tuesday airing this week of "The Unquiet Dead" on CBC in Canada show that 878,000 viewers tuned in for the episode, down very slightly from "The End of the World." Once again Doctor Who was #2 in it's timeslot and #4 in primetime; the Tuesday night winner was "The Amazing Race" which switched places with last week's winner "American Idol," which now sits in second place for the night.

In Australia, ABC television has started its campaign promoting the new Doctor Who; on Wednesday, April 20, just after they screened the BBC comedy "Nighty Night," they showed a general "trailer" for their broadcast of the new series in May, which included clips from Doctor Who (only from Rose, it seems). Just before the next program, local comedy news commentary "The Glasshouse," they played a five-second teaser which was simply a shot of the TARDIS materialising with green text typing itself on the screen saying "Guess who's back!"

Radio Times will be releasing a Doctor Who special, focused on the Daleks, next Tuesday, to coincide with the broadcast of the forthcoming Dalek episode of the new series. (Radio Times will have a direct advert link from these pages during that time so you'll be able to order it directly if you don't already get it!)

Today's Sun features spoilers for the forthcoming episode "Dalek" which we've reproduced in the spoiler tag at the end of this column. Accompanied by a picture of Rose with the chained-up Dalek and a smaller picture of Billie Piper, both story and headlines give extensive plot details about the episode - due to air in the UK on April 30 - and there are huge spoilers.

Channel 4 chat show Richard and Judy had a 14-minute slot on Thursday featuring Sylvester McCoy and Nick Briggs to promote "Dalek." The section started with a clip from the next episode - World War Three - with the Doctor confronting the Slitheen, which was followed by a pre-filmed insert of a vox pop of members of the public saying how much they liked Doctor Who both old and new style. Asked for his thoughts on the new series, McCoy was generally in favour, commenting that he was envious of the equipment and technology now available. He said that he became hooked after being sent a DVD of the first episode to review for BBCi, but added that he wasn't very keen on the new interior of the TARDIS. Briggs, who voices the Dalek in the episode to be shown in the UK on 30 April, told of the "really lovely atmosphere" on set, and said that there was "proper character stuff" in his dialogue exchanges with the Doctor and Rose. The ring modulator device, used to produce the distinctive Dalek speech pattern, was shown, then later demonstrated, followed by a clip from McCoy's adventure Remembrance of the Daleks. Viewers were reminded that the Daleks' ability to "fly" was shown in Remembrance, and then an "exclusive preview" clip - lasting one minute seven seconds - from Dalek was shown. McCoy was asked what he was doing now (touring in Arsenic and Old Lace) and Briggs managed to get a quick mention for the Big Finish range of audio CDs. The new DVD and BBC CDs were briefly highlighted. At the end of the slot, it was announced that Billie Piper would be appearing live on the show on Friday 29 April. Richard and Judy normally airs at 5pm.

Blue Peter will also have another Doctor Who event on the same day, April 29. "The gang go behind the scenes of Doctor Who, the destination for this year's summer expedition is revealed, Rooster perform in the studio and Meg has an exciting piece of news."

The lead story for TV Biz in today's The Sun says that the stars of top British comedy series Little Britain - David Walliams and Matt Lucas - are to have cameo roles in the next series of Doctor Who, which begins filming in July. According to the Sun story, Lucas - who appeared in Russell T Davies's period romp Casanova - is pals with David Tennant. Walliams is also said to be a Doctor Who fan. Lucas and Walliams won two Baftas on Sunday, and a source was quoted as saying: "David Tennant was mobbed at the Baftas on Sunday night. He had a long line of celebs queuing [sic] up at his table to congratulate him on getting the part. Everyone was begging, 'Get me on the show.'" The story was accompanied by a mock-up picture of Lucas and Walliams sitting in Davros casings, with Lucas in character as Little Britain gay character Dafydd and saying: "I'm the only gay in the Daleks" - parodying his character's catchphrase "I'm the only gay in the village." Walliams's image merely says: "Ahem!" There was no sign of the story being posted on The Sun's internet site. Walliams was also pictured as Little Britain character hotelier Ray McClooney. Little Britain already has a strong Doctor Who link in Tom Baker, who has provided the narration for both series, and both Walliams and Lucas have appeared in "Big Finish" audios ("Phantasmagoria" and "The One Doctor," respectively). The story has also been reported on Ananova which reports that pop star Will Young also wants to make a comedy appearance in the new series, as well as on Sky News.

A clarification about Eve Myles, which we reported the other day was going to appear in "Belonging," a BBC Wales series, according to reports in the Daily Star. Says our correspondent Dean Braithwaite: "The Daily Star piece makes it sound as if this is a new, one-off part for her, which is not the case. Eve has played Ceri Lewis - one of the main characters in Belonging, a BBC Wales drama - since it began in 1999. The current series - series 6 - is airing on BBC1 on Wednesdays at 10.50 pm and the digital channel BBC2W on Thursdays at 9 pm. Series 7 is currently in production. (NB: not to be confused with the one-off ITV1 drama Belonging, starring Brenda Blethyn, which aired in 2004.) Eve Myles is lovely and her character very feisty. Anyone intersested can read more about Belonging at its BBC website where there are biogs and photos of all the characters. Belonging is a brilliant series that, unfortunately, does not air in the rest of the UK. Anyone living in Wales, however, should seek this series out!"

Could Billie Piper leave the series sometime during the next season? That's the rumor on the Popbitch gossip column site, which reportedly notes that actress who plays Rose might leave at some point next season, following in the footsteps of Christopher Eccleston. However, we should stress that this is only hearsay and rumor and hasn't been confirmed anywhere. Piper, meanwhile, was named on the "World's 100 Sexiest Women" poll in FHM magazine this week, coming in at number 62.

Next week's Radio Times features an article regarding the ratings of "The End of the World" and the departure of Christopher Eccleston. "It was inevitable that the second episode of Doctor Who would shed a significant proportion of its viewers. Doubtless, a great number of the 2.6 million people who decided not to bother with episode two had satisfied their curiosity the week before, while others were perhaps enjoying some 'unseasonably hot weather' and doing whatever people do in 'unseasonably hot weather'. But I wonder just how many of those 'missing' 2.6 million people had walked away after taking umbrage with the show's star Christopher Eccleston, who, we learnt just days after his Doctor Who debut on BBC 1, won't be returning to the role for a second series. The outcry after the BBC confirmed that Eccieston wouldn't do a second series was immediate and spectacular. Venom was tipped by the bucketload. Eccieston was pilloried on internet fansites, called 'the most hated man in science fiction', and became the subject of disproportionately huge, spiteful features in national newspapers. The news was disappointing, of course, and the timing of the announcement was poor, leaving viewers to sit through the remaining 12 episodes knowing full well that its star has no wish to return. (It turns out the BBC made the revelation as a response to journalists' questions, and without consulting the actor first about the nature of its official statement.) But treating Eccleston almost as if he's a war criminal shows an absurd lack of perspective, particularly in an age when the 13 episodes he's filmed would amount to two series of most other dramas. Still, despite all the nonsense, there are some lessons here. Audiences can be very proprietorial about their TV heroes, and Doctor Who devotees are probably the most committed of all. (On radio, The Archers is similarly treasured by its fans, who take very personally what happens in Ambridge.) And no one likes their heroes to be slighted or mucked around. If there's one thing to be learnt about the extreme reaction to Eccieston's decision, it's that audiences' affections are not to be trifled with. But the point about heroes is that they endure. Doctor Who survived years in the wilderness after being kicked off air, and he will return in another incarnation. In short: calm down, dear, he's only a Time Lord."

Is Toby Whithouse writing for the second season of the new series? There are rumors that suggest that he might be one of the writers from several sources, although nothing has been confirmed. Whithouse was one of the creators and writers of the Channel 4 series "No Angels" as well as a writer on "Attachments" and "Where the Heart Is"; he's also an actor who appeared in "Bridget Jones' Diary" and "RKO 281". We report only for the sake of completeness...

There has been a small update to the official Doctor Who website, introducing a panel of children aged four to twelve, which they call their "Fear Forecasters," who are giving ratings for the scariness of the episodes.

The BBC Press Office has today released the fifth phase of its Doctor Whopress pack, featuring interviews with Rob Shearman, Bruno Langley and Nick Briggs, with three new colour photographs from episode six. The interviews contain mild spoilers for the episode.

A reporter for the Northern Echo noted this week that seeing Prime Minister Tony Blair on "Ant and Dec" caused the journalist to think to himself, "He should've gone on Doctor Who on the BBC because that programme gets a bigger audience". "But any publicity is good publicity during an election campaign, even if the Doctor shouted, 'If you want aliens, you've got them - they're in Downing Street'," he noted.

The Daily Star notes that the next Doctor, David Tennant, is now involved with Sarah Parish of "Cutting It." "The couple couldn't hide their fast-developing relationship at Sunday's TV bash where they chatted and cuddled in the plush ballroom. And after David, who hails from Paisley, had blagged some freebies they left at midnight to start celebrating his 34th birthday... in private. Sarah, 35, fell for the charming thesp when they played lovers in musical drama Blackpool. They only became an item after filming finished, but the chemistry on set was there for all to see. A source told us: 'All the singing and dancing in the show really lowered inhibitions. It had to because most of the actors had never done anything like it before. ... There was such a rapport between them after that. Everyone was saying they should get together."

The Daily Record comments that Doctor Who has always been a thriller. "So what if kids were so frightened they had to hide behind the sofa?," writes a reader to the paper, discussing the reports about comments that "The Unquiet Dead" was too scary. "Millions of us were scared witless in the '60s, '70s and '80s and were, at times, hiding behind the sofa. As far as I know, it didn't do any of us damage. The real problem is the adults who complained. If they really have an issue about the show why didn't they just switch off immediately? Doctor Who is back for a reason - to entertain, excite and frighten. Surely the adults who complained knew beforehand about the episode, there was plenty in the Press and clips on the TV, even after the previous episode. Doctor Who is here to stay - fresh, exciting and scary. It's fantastic." We say bravo to the writer, C. Watson of Ayrshire.

Yesterday's National Post in Canada printed an article (which was also included in many local papers including the Edmonton Journal and the Montreal Gazette) called "That Dickens of a Doctor" that called Charles Dickens an "action hero" in "The Unquiet Dead." In its review, the National Post said that "watching the confident revival of one of the UK's most silly and beloved serials has been one of the pleasures of the TV year so far. ... Not so long ago, Doctor Who was presumed dead and buried. No one could have anticipated the magnificent journey it has become. Like the hapless Sneed, Doctor Who writer Russell Davies has succeeded in bringing the dead back to life. Who knew?" Also, theToronto Star ran a piece noting that ratings in Canada are up for "This is Wonderland" on CBC, which airs Tuesdays at 9pm, thanks to its new lead-in, Doctor Who. And this week after the broadcast of "Unquiet Dead" on CBC, as usual Christopher Eccleston made recorded comments ("hope you liked this week's Doctor Who"), then introduced some behind the scenes clips while the credits rolled... and during the credits it was noted that the production credit was "BBC Wales in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation," perhaps the first official indication of co-production that's been displayed.

Some other stories of note: FilmForce discusses the rumors about Tennant's salary; the TypePadMonsters and Critics and Sky Showbiz sites all discuss Eccleston's casting in the "Da Vinci Code" movie (which we've reported about this week); and the Forbidden Planet website has a collection of images of items they state will be official Doctor Who merchandise released later this year.

(Thanks to Steve Tribe, Paul Engelberg, John Bowman, Chuck Foster, Steve Hatcher, Mike Doran, Chris Winwood, Ian O'Brien, Dean Braithwaite, Graham Kibble-White, Robert Booth, Michael Davoren, Mustafa Hirji, Simon Burt, Benjamin McKenzie and Rod Mammitzsch)
From the April 21 edition of "The Sun":

DR WhoÆs enemy the Dalek makes its big return this month ù as a CRYBABY.

The Time Lord finds a lone pepperpot alien chained up and sobbing.

Sidekick Rose, played by Billie Piper, feels pity for the creature as it is tortured in Utah.

But when she strokes it, the evil monster absorbs her DNA ù and sets off on an extermination spree.

The Dalek ù a million light-years from home ù is being held prisoner by barmy billionaire collector Henry Van Statten.