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5/06/2005 02:43:00 am - Reported by Shaun Lyon


May 6, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
Sorry about the delay in bringing you this update... it's been a busy week. On to the news:

Note to UK viewers: the broadcast time for May 21's episode, The Empty Child, on its original run on BBC1, has been changed due to that evening's transmission of the Eurovision Song Contest. "The Empty Child" will air at 6:25pm (to 7:10pm) on BBC1.

The BBC Press Office has today posted its programme information for the week 21-27 May. The Features section (note: PDF file) includes a photograph of Christopher Eccleston and Richard Wilson in The Empty Child, captioned "The Doctor and the doctor ... Christopher Eccleston and Richard Wilson, as Dr Constantine, star in Saturday's action-packed Doctor Who, set in wartime London (BBC One)". Saturday's highlights document (also a PDF file) includes a (slightly spoiler-y) preview for The Empty Child, which is to be broadcast at 6.25pm. That spoiler summary is located in the spoiler tag below.

The BBC Press Office has also posted press releases for various items in its Commercial section today, including a press release on the Doctor Who Exhibition in Brighton, plus the new series radio documentary Project Whorelease on CD as well as the release of the classic serial The Crusade on audio.

Canadian ratings this week: "World War Three" had 936,000 viewers tune in for this past Tuesday's broadcast, the second highest number of viewers (behind "Rose") of the new series in that country. It appears to have been fourth in the overall ratings for the evening and second in its time slot.

Transmission of the May 17 broadcast of the series in Canada, for the episode "The Long Game," will be preempted that week in one province, British Columbia, in place of coverage of the BC provincial elections. However, tentative plans have been reported for CBC to rebroadast the series on Sunday evenings in June, so Canadian fans in BC will have to wait until then, if it happens, to see it. Meanwhile, the CBC website has replaced the trailer for the long-delayed documentary "Planet of the Doctor" with excerpts from the first three of an expected six episodes, including "Who is the Doctor?" "Fandemonium," and "The Adventures of Doctor Who." Broadcast is not quite scheduled yet... but at least it's something more than the trailer. No indication as to when the full episodes will be posted.

Issue 131 of SFX is released next week. The issue comes with a free set of nine postcards, five of which feature images from the new series: Chris and Billie, the TARDIS interior, and the gold Dalek. Inside the issue itself is a five-page Doctor Who feature, the bulk of which is made up with SFX's interview with Christopher Eccleston. It was carried out shortly before the announcement was made that he wouldn't be returning for a second series, but it still contains some interesting hints as to what may have informed his decision. He talks quite candidly about how exhausting the job was, for one thing: "If you play the Doctor, the hardest thing is: you can't have a life. You CANNOT have a life. You can't socialise. It's like having a TARDIS in your skull and every time you open your mouth you see a TARDIS. There were days when I got psoriasis, I got eczema. My face blew up in the Dalek episode - I looked literally disfigured with tiredness and my skin." The feature also includes short interviews with Mike Tucker and guest star Simon Pegg. For full details of the issue, check out the SFX website. You can also read SFX's ongoing reviews of each episode here.

Christopher Eccleston is making new waves on the football front: the Doctor Who star has stumped up ú10,000 to help stop Manchester United being sold to American businessman Malcolm Glazer. "Christopher couldn't bear the thought of his beloved team falling into the hands of Glazer so dug deep to put an end to the team being take over," says Sky News. "The United fan's donation may sound like a lot, but it's merely a splash in the water considering the ú100 million that is needed to save the club. ... Eccleston's money went to supporters group Shareholders United, who plan to block Glazer's plans to bid for the club in July." The story has also been reported atBBC NewsESPN,Red IssueBelfast TelegraphTribal FootballThe Times, the Daily MailManchester Online, and ContactMusic.

David Tennant will play Brendan Block, a man with disturbing psychotic tendencies, in "Secret Smile," an ITV1 drama adapted from Nicci French's bestselling novel of the same title. ITV executives apparently believe they have pulled off a casting coup in securing Tennant prior to his trip in the TARDIS which starts filming this summer. Secret Smile goes into production next week and will be broadcast on ITV1 in two 90-minute episodes. The story's covered in The Guardianand in print editions of various papers.

A review of the series in the Wessex Scene: "When I tuned in to see the first episode of the new Dr Who I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is really quite good. Writer Russell T Davies, whose most famous creation aside from Doctor Who is Queer as Folk, the controversial Channel 4 series, ensured that the general tone of the show contained drama, character development and good-natured, self-mocking cheesiness in equal measure. Eccleston's impressive CV shows that he's an accomplished actor, and this was certainly apparent in the show. He seemed to give the Doctor charm with depth, and brought out the enigmatic qualities of his character so well that I wanted to tune into the next episode just to find out how much of the character he will reveal next. Piper, though best known as a teenage pop singer and ex-wife of Chris Evans, appears to be a genuinely good actress, as her recent acclaimed performance in The Canterbury Tales would suggest. Judging by the first episode, her character is more of a co-star than a sidekick to the Doctor, and it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops."

The Times Online has reviewed Russell T Davies: Unscripted, the biography of the executive producer of the series."A naughty big, gay cuddly man from Swansea, Davies is a writer and the executive producer of this new Doctor Who series and generally one of televisionÆs greatest assets. Russell T. Davies Unscripted (BBC Two) was a short romp through his career to date, featuring lots of hand-waving and self deprecation from the man himself, as well as insightful asides from various former bosses and that stalwart of the British arts scene, Mark Lawson. ... The programme had clearly been made to coincide with the start of the new Doctor Who series, as much was made of DaviesÆs love of the original Doctor, William Hartnell. Davies remembered watching this at the age of three, in particular the feeling of being scared out of his wits. Overseeing the injection of emotion and self-doubt into a DalekÆs brain before having it blow itself up must, therefore, have been somewhat cathartic for him. It is also, in some ways, a metaphor for his career."

More coverage: Billie Piper's personal life is under scrutiny (again) in theMirror and Megastar; a Derby fan reflects on Doctor Who at Derby CountyBBC News reports on the reelection of Vernon Coaker, the Labour candidate told off for using a Dalek in his campaign; FemaleFirst reports on the fluffing of Simon Pegg's lines for this weekend's episode; and Milton Keynes Today reviews this past weekend's Collectormania event.

Finally today, a note of relevance to Doctor Who fans: Tim Collins, Conservative MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, narrowly lost his seat to the Liberal Democrat party. Whatever your stance or party affiliation, you may realize Tim's devotion to the series has kept it in the public eye - most notably when he spearheaded a letter to Michael Grade last year asking for assurances that he would not interfere in the show. So here's a shout out to Tim from Outpost Gallifrey for helping keep the spirit of the show alive.

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Chuck Foster, Ian Wheeler, Jamie Austin, Dominic May, Jonathan Grills, Ian Berriman, David Farmbrough, Jonathan Massey, Geoff Wessel, Tom Beck, Rod Mammitzsch, Matthew Wilson, Bob Furnell, Benjamin Elliott)
From "Radio Times": summary of "The Empty Child"

The Doctor and Rose travel back in time to Forties London in the first part of an action adventure, written by Steven Moffat (Coupling).

It is 1941 and the Blitz is raging. A mysterious cylinder is being guarded by the Army, while homeless children, living on the bombsites, are being terrorised by an unearthly child. And when Rose meets the dashing Captain Jack Harkness, it seems she may have found a hero better than the Doctor himself...

Christopher Eccleston is the Doctor, Billie Piper is Rose, John Barrowman is Captain Jack Harkness and Richard Wilson is Doctor Constantine.