Hello readers... your editor had a very busy last few days so the news got away from me; I'm back now and catching up, first with all the latest news updates on the new series as follows:
Results have come in for the rest of the weekend after the broadcast ofFather's Day (which we reported on Sunday) from ViewingFigures. The ratings are as follows: the repeat of "Father's Day" on Sunday morning at 12:10am had 156,950 viewers (3.4% viewing share), while the Sunday 7:00pm showing had 532,210 viewers (4.4% share). The initial broadcast ofDoctor Who Confidential on Saturday night at 7:45pm had 579,660 viewers (4.6% share), the repeat early Sunday morning at 12:55am had 86,750 viewers (2.9% share) and the Sunday 7:45pm showing had 297,600 viewers (2.3% share). Confidential and its repeat showings performed excellent in the multi-channel ratings; Saturday's "Confidential 8" was first in its timeslot beating SkyOne's "The Simpson's" which had 488,810 viewers. Very consistent figures again all around on Sunday as well; the "Fathers Day" repeat was second in the 7pm-8:30pm timeslot and "Confidential 8" was placed fourth. Only programs from SkyOne beat, or come close to beating these figures. Once again Doctor Who is producing great results for BBC3 (especially not forgetting these are the third showings in 24 hours.)
New Series DVD News Stories
BBC News reports that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) have given the first two "Doctor Who" new series DVD releases a "12" rating -- not to be sold to children under twelve years of age -- based upon the episodes "The Unquiet Dead" and "Dalek". BBC Ceefax notes that this is because of "violence and cruelty as a way of dealing with problems". The Times notes that "Censors ruled that the sequence sets a bad example to children because it implies that the only way to resolve disputes is through force allied with cruelty. A spokesman for the board said: 'However cross one might be with a Dalek, being cruel is not the way to deal with the issue. Some children might take it into the playground.'" The story has also been covered at Monsters and Critics, Pittsburgh Live, Sky News, MegaStar,The Scotsman.
The Times, meanwhile, has run an article condemning the BBFC for this action. "The Doctor's new enemies are, of course, the Censors. Inhabitants of a strange parallel universe known only as the British Board of Film Classification, the Censors suffer from tragic myopia but wield immense power. They have ruled that the latest series of Doctor Who cannot be shown to children under 12, when it comes out on DVD, because of the programme's 'excessive cruelty". The Censors specifically object to a scene broadcast last month in which the Doctor subjects an imprisoned Dalek to a bit of rough-house treatment. Taking a tough line with a species bent on mass murder and world annihilation is clearly too much for the Censors, who are worried that the Time Lord's behaviour may set an unhappy precedent. ... It's good to know that the BBFC are concerned that any Daleks who find their way through space and time into the nation's playgrounds should not be unmercifully bullied. But leaving aside the important issue of just how the nation's children should react to the arrival of a Dalek during lunchbreak (make sure it doesn't feel excluded by picking it first for the football team?) another ticklish question of space travel arises. Just what planet are these Censors on?" A smaller piece in the Timescalls it an "absurd ruling" that "takes the fun out of Doctor Who."
The R2 Project has several items posted on the new series DVD's, includingscreenshots from the first disc's menus and a complete review of the release.
HMV are currently running an instore promotion for the new series DVDs which includes large "Doctor Who" coverings (featuring the Doctor and Rose with the tagline: "The Invasion Starts 16.05.05") over the security scanners situated near store doorways. Meanwhile, Childrens' CBBC is featuring a promotion to win copies of the first DVD release.
According to ezyDVD, Doctor Who fans in Australia will see the first new series DVD release on June 16.
This weekend's Independent reviewed the first three-episode DVD release: "The first three episodes of Russell T Davies' new Doctor Who incarnation may seem horribly unsophisticated next to the American likes of Buffy and Star Trek, but it does have decent effects and a sly sense of humour, and it gives the old formula some tantalising tweaks. The only major misjudgment is the Doctor himself, who now has an unseemly tendency to lech over a woman 880 years his junior. Christopher Eccleston blunders through the role with the fixed grin of a pre-school children's TV presenter, so David Tennant can't take over too soon."
Outpost Gallifrey will feature a special report tomorrow including photographs from the exhibition and resultant news coverage.
The BBC Press Office has released its weekly Programme Information for the week of 28 May to 3 June. The Featuresdocument (note: PDF file) includes a photograph of John Barrowman outside the TARDIS: "Intergalactic con-man Captain Jack (John Barrowman) tries to help defeat a zombie army in wartime London as Doctor Who continues on Saturday (BBC One). The same document notes that "An exciting new Doctor Who exhibition featuring monsters, villains and a host of original props and costumes, designs and original video clips from the brand-new BBC series opens its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday 14 May on Brighton Pier, and will run throughout the summer season." And the documentof programme highlights for Saturday 21 May gives a brief description of The Doctor Dances: "Wartime London is in the grip of a zombie army in part two of Steven Moffat's time-travelling adventure. The Child's plague is spreading throughout the capital, and its zombie army is on the march.The Doctor and Rose form an alliance with intergalactic con-man Captain Jack, but find themselves trapped in the abandoned hospital. The answer lies at the bombsite, but time is running out… Christopher Eccleston is The Doctor, Billie Piper is Rose, John Barrowman is Captain Jack Harkness and Richard Wilson is Doctor Constantine." There is also a photograph of Eccleston with Richard Wilson, captioned "Richard Wilson (left) joins Christopher Eccleston in the second part of this action-packed wartime adventure".
Radio Times is now listing the BBC1 broadcast of The Empty Child on Saturday 21 May as being only 40 minutes from 6.30 to 7.10pm, with Doctor Who Confidential 9 now starting at 7.10pm (not 7.20pm as previously). Both the late-night and Sunday evening repeats of Empty Child are still listed as 45 minutes, so it's anyone's guess whether the first showing is being edited for the slot.
Christopher Eccleston has signed to star in the film "Double Life" from British production company Cougar Films, written and directed by "Doctor Who" first season director Joe Ahearne. The film, set to begin shooting later this year in Hungary, is described as a "high concept sci-fi genre piece." "Joe (Ahearne) is a master at combining great storytelling with high concept," said Cougar Films' Sophie Balhetchet, who produced Ahearne's vampire television series "Ultraviolet" for Channel Four. The film is budged at around 3.5 million pounds and is co-produced with Hungarian Film Connection. News reports on this feature at BBC News, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety,icNetwork, Ananova, Daily Record, RTE, Dark Horizons, The Scotsman, Breaking News, Manchester Online, Irish Examiner, and other sources including print editions of the Guardian and the Telegraph.
Why did Christopher Eccleston quit Dr Who after just one series? According to today's Daily Mail it's because 'You cannot have a life. You can't socialise. It's like having a Tardis in your skull. 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. It is graft. With TV, you do a 14-hour day and then you're doing your line learning. I ain't moaning, but if you play the Doctor, the hardest thing is you can't have a life.' Meanwhile, this weekend'sSunday Mirror said that "Eccleston's sleep patterns are clearly feeling the effects of Tardis living. We spotted him in Cardiff store Howell's stocking up on Origins' Sensory Therapy range which contains calming herbs to help you drift off and get a good night's kip. Time travel-proof favourites include Sleep Time On-The-Spot Gel Massage Cream, £14.50, and Float Away Sleep-Inspiring Milk Bath, £18."
David Tennant has been nominated as best actor for his performance as Jimmy Porter in the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh's revival of Look Back in Anger, according to the Times. Also in the same category is Nabil Shaban, who played Sil during the Colin Baker years, for his performance as MacHeath in The Threepeny Opera in a production at Edinburgh's Theatre Workshop.
The Daily Star had a large picture of Billie Piper on page 3 of its 14 May edition, with the title "Doctor Phew!" and a brief article in which she was described as looking "Dalek-table".
Russell T Davies was on Radio 4's "Front Row" Monday 16th May, talking about the British Board of Film Classification's 12 certificate for the DVDs, about whether Christopher Eccleston was always only going to to one series, why he doesn't want to talk about the end of series one, and how he was thinking about series 2... all available on Listen Again. Starts 16'45" in and is available at the website.
Author Paul Cornell, who wrote last Saturday's episode "Father's Day," speaks to BBC Wiltshire at their website. The interview is in RealAudio format; visit the site to download it.
The first three Doctor Who new series novels have been released to stores; they are Winner Take All by Jacqueline Rayner, Monsters Inside by Stephen Cole and The Clockwise Man by Justin Richards. They are in stock in UK book stockists and, we're told, in Australia's ABC shop (their release date in Australia is May 31, so ABC Shops have them exclusively until then.)
TV Zone Special #63, a Doctor Who special issue, is now out, including interviews with John Barrowman, on joining the TARDIS crew as "intergalactic rogue" Captain Jack Harkness; Production designer Ed Thomas, on designing the TARDIS set; Concept artist Bryan Hitch, on updating the Daleks and the TARDIS; Mark Gatiss, on writing The Unquiet Dead, acting in Quatermass and writing and acting in the upcoming League of Gentlemen movie; Dalek director Joe Ahearne, on lending some weight to the metal monsters from Skaro; Steven Moffat, on penning the scariest Who script yet; Gillane Seaborne, on producing behind-the-scenes documentary Doctor Who Confidential; plus reviews and more. Details on the issue are available at their UK websiteand/or US website.
Australia Debut Coverage
"Doctor Who" debuts this weekend on Australia's ABC Network and there is a great deal of coverage in the newspapers, most of it very positive:
The Sydney Morning Herald reports from the set. "Only two elements were mandatory when screenwriter Russell T. Davies sat down with producer Phil Collinson and BBC Wales drama chief Julie Gardner to recreate the iconic TV series Doctor Who for a new audience. The haunting, synthesised theme music, by Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire, is back. So is the blue, 1950s-style London police call box that the Doctor uses to travel through time and space. 'I think those are quintessential parts of Doctor Who, and we'd have been fools to tamper with them in any way,' Collinson says. 'The theme is one of the best pieces of theme music ever written and it sums up the mood and the flavour of the series brilliantly well. As for the police box, for two seconds we toyed with whether our audience would recognise it, but we realised that, fundamentally, it doesn't matter. It's a box, it's small, and when you walk in it's bigger. It's a fantastic concept, as brilliant now as it was in 1963. No one has done it since because it belongs to Doctor Who.' Beyond that, Collinson insists, all bets were off." The interview took place during the filming of "Dalek". Collinson notes that the series is "very modern, very vibrant, action-packed. In order to achieve that you have to almost forget the past and think we're making something really new and hopefully really different." The writer notes that "Getting here, on the set to witness the much-discussed first reappearance of the Daleks, was an epic in itself, involving scores of telephone calls, emails and, finally, a signed confidentiality agreement." Series writer Mark Gatiss says that "For all of us who kept the torch burning all these years, including Russell, the best parlour game a Doctor Who fan can play is: wouldn't it be great if it came back," Gatiss says. "And suddenly it is, but you're dealing with a world of TV realities - ratings count and it's a very different environment." In a sense, Gatiss tells the Herald, the fans had been handed the keys to the kingdom, although Gatiss says it was important to draw a line between their memories and the cold, hard realities of making TV today. "If all of us had just been trying to bring back Doctor Who, I think it would be very different," he says. "It's all about having a proper perspective, and none of the people involved in this reincarnation is a slave to the past. ... You have to remember, Doctor Who wasn't a cult program for most of its life. It was just the most popular program on telly. Where it really started to go wrong was when it began to tell stories that you really wouldn't understand unless you'd seen early serials, such as The Tenth Planet. That is when pop [culture] eats itself - it starts to become too inward looking." There's a large roundup of the classic series in the article as well.
The Herald's TV section, The Guide, also names Doctor Who their "show of the week" and Robin Oliver gives the following review: "This is a tingling introduction to young viewers and a most satifying reunion for old, partly because the Tardis flies again as only an old London police box could possibly manage. This new Doctor Who also tempts because writer Russell T. Davis takes an adult approach to one of television’s most famous characters -- and children will appreciate that. Davis overrides the cash-strapped production values of the past to make his new doctor competitive in a high-tech market, but keeps his soul alive with such jokes as bicycle-pumped gadgetry in the Tardis. ... The young (they will start around eight years) occasionally may be mildly scared, not a bad quality in a series that also mixes-in the humour of the wheelie-bin sequence. Older viewers (the doctor’s friends can never be too ancient) will find Eccleston easily the best time lord since Tom Baker. And he never had a Tardis like this."
The Herald Sun on Sunday said to "Prepare ye for the arrival of the ninth Time Lord played with hitherto unseen mirth by Christopher Eccleston, who only two weeks ago was the new-age Messiah in The Second Coming. ... This Doctor Who series of 13 one-hour episodes, which was launched in the UK earlier this year to a BBC audience of 10 million and generally kind reviews, is great entertainment for the whole family. ... The ninth Doctor Who still travels in the Tardis -- but this time the police phone box is blue and slightly bigger. The real neat change is his choice of companion -- Piper's Rose Tyler harkens to the sidekicks played by the likes of Carole Ann Ford and Katy Manning. She's feisty, cheeky and up for anything. Writer Russell T.Davis has also been let off the leash to make the most of this eclectic new pairing, which may or may not have hints of a romance. The opening episode of this series is OK -- but the outlandish plot suffers a bit for the need to set up the initial meeting between The Doctor and Rose. But the second episode -- where the doctor takes Rose billion years ahead in time to witness the death of Earth (to the jukebox accompaniment of the Britney Spears hit Toxic) -- is a delight, filled with a fabulous array of weird aliens and neat techno-effects."
The Sunday Telegraph noted that "the Doctor is back and he's making housecalls. While a revival of the classic sci-fi series could easily have had Tom Baker choking on his scarf, it turns out that Christopher Eccleston, as the new Doctor, and Billie Piper, as his sidekick Rose, are more than adequate replacements. Right from the opening credits - complete with slightly reworked dum-de-dum electronic soundtrack - there's no mistaking this for anything other than the often camp, often scary and always highly entertaining show that made its debut in 1963. Eccleston does seem a little at odds with his new role as the time-travelling alien adventurer. Perhaps he's just settling in but the actor who won plaudits for his roles in Shallow Grave and as Robbie Coltrane's boss in Cracker seems slightly confused amongst his alien foes, and turns in a rather muted performance. The same cannot be said for ex-pop princess Piper, who shines as the doctor's soon-to-be female assistant."
The Advertiser noted that "Sixteen years since it sank into a TV black hole, cult classic Doctor Who is about to regenerate on Australian screens. .. The new $24 million series has been a smash hit in its native UK, drawing 10 million viewers to its premiere and averaging 7.5 million. ... Series production designer Edward Thomas said there was definitely a chemistry between the Doctor and his sidekick. 'I think the Doctor all the way through the series allows her to have her boyfriends but, at the end of the day, he's so impressive he knows that she'll always come back to him,' he said. Gone are the creaky cardboard sets and comical special effects. The new Tardis has an organic interior, while the daleks will return midway through the 13-part series (flying daleks no less, and even a sobbing dalek that evokes sympathy)." The article features a list of Doctors and companions.
The Sunday Age gives the series its top pick: "Fear not, dear viewer, there really is something more than Desperate Housewives on the horizon. The Doctor is back with a vengeance, a triumph of television in his ninth incarnation thanks to tight scripting, clever editing, dazzling effects and a gloriously full-blooded performance by actor Christopher Eccleston. The big deal of the week is undoubtedly this Russell T. Davies updating of Doctor Who, another wonderfully eccentric journey through time and space with the Time Lord and his alien pals. Davies, a dedicated follower of a program that first went to air in 1963, has managed to bring new spirit to the show without losing a few crucial links to the past. There is still the whooshing and whirring Tardis, that old, now defunct blue police box-cum-spacecraft with its impossibly spacious interior. There is still the familiar pounding introductory theme. And there is still that touch of scary other-worldly loopiness about the Time Lord. But it is the acerbic humour, in-jokes and imaginative plotting as much as the visual spectacle that makes this new venture such a great trip. And the Doctor, sharp, amusing, sometimes alarmingly focused more on the bigger picture than foolish human concerns, is definitely one for our age. Eccleston, possibly the finest Doctor Who since Tom Baker's permed eccentric, plays him with Manchester accent and a fierce intensity. In the opening episode he meets his new sidekick, Rose Tyler, a street-smart London store assistant played with sparky, Buffy-like energy by Billie Piper. The Doctor starts by saving her from an army of plastic shop dummies brought to life."
The Daily Telegraph chose a different approach: "With a brand new series of Dr Who to screen on the ABC this week, the coming months are an obvious time for afficionados and clubs to capitalise on renewed interest in the sci-fi legend. But if it wants to attract attention, the Dr Who Club of Australia might want to add a couple of actual Doctors to the list of those appearing at a Whovention convention in October. The best it can offer is Louise Jameson, who played Leela in the late 70s, and India Fisher, whose claim to fame is starring in a series of Dr Who audio-only adventures." Outpost Gallifrey would hereby challenge the Daily Telegraph to sponsor such guests for our Australian friends, since it costs money to bring guests over!
There's also local television coverage, including in unlikely places. Says our correspondent Paul Kennedy: "In the second year of a quiz called 'The Einstein Factor' on ABC-TV in Australia, a Doctor Who fan is winning. David Campbell, from Brisbane, has 'the television series Doctor Who 1963 to 1989' as his specialist topic and has now won on 3 episodes of the quiz. Each episode of the show has 3 contestants and 3 rounds. In the 1st round against the clock, each contestant answers up to 15 questions on their chosen topic. The 2nd and 3rd rounds have general knowledge questions. David Campbell---not *that* David Campbell, obviously---won his heat early in the year. He then returned and won the play-off. Last week (Sunday 8 May) he won the series final. He will return later in the year in the grand final. In the series final he scored 14 in the specialist round, missing only 'Which is the only of the Doctor's companions never to have travelled in the TARDIS?'"
The BBC has begun a beta test of a new service called 'Backstage' which allows programmers and web developers to use BBC content to produce new applications that the BBC would not normally fund. Among the items made available for the beta test is a Doctor Who news feed in RSS format. Possible uses for this include a Doctor Who screensaver or a desktop 'widget' that displays the latest Doctor Who news from the BBC. The Doctor Who newsfeed can be subscribed to by pointing your RSS software or RSS-enabled browser (e.g. Safari 2.0, Firefox etc) to this site; more details on Backstage availablehere.
Sunday's Daily Star asked "Who's crying wolf? Doctor Who fans think they have found a hidden clue on the show bout how the Time Lord will meet a nasty end. They have spotted several references to something called "Bad Wolf" throughout the series since it began 7 weeks ago... a hint from writer Russell T Davies that the Doc isn't Who he seems to be. They think by the end of the series his true identity will be unmasked - resulting in his death and re-generation into the new Time Lord... Show addicts think the phrase refers to the Doctor being a "wolf in the sheep's clothing". And they believe his sidekick Rose... will only find out the truth at the end of the current series."
A brief visual joke about the possiblity of cost-cutting having an effect on the next series of "Doctor Who" appeared onHave I Got News For You...?(BBC1, 13 May).
BBC Ceefax (14 May) had "Doctor Who" as TV Choice: "No kidding: this is the best episode of the series so far. And it manages to be that despite having exasperating plot holes and convenient solutions. But what's so great is that while we get the usual monsters, this is really about Rose and her dad. She never knew him: he died when she was little. Now she's got the TARDIS though, she wants to go back in time to see him. Rose is played perfectly by Billie Piper, while Shaun Dingwall does well as Rose's father". The BBC homepage (14 May) listed "Doctor Who" as its TV Pick with a prominent picture from the episode crowning its schedules homepage.
Not directly new series-related, but Russell T Davies cropped up a few times on last night's edition of ITV's regular Sunday night arts programme The South Bank Show, this week's edition of which looked at the life and career of Davies' friend and contemporary Paul Abbott, writer/creator of such acclaimed British TV dramas as "Touching Evil" (upon which Davies worked with him), "State of Play" and "Shameless". Abbott talked about how Davies persuaded him to leave writing for "Coronation Street" for the producer's job on "Cracker" in 1993 when he was undecided as it meant a huge pay cut. "It'll make you look taller!" was apparently Davies' advice!
Last Thursday's The Methodist Recorder's TV reviewer David Bridge examined the return of Doctor Who, noting that the show had been billed as suitable for younger viewers he notes. However, as he notes, "one recent episode featured two scenes of torture that were certainly not appropriate for a children's programme." Bridge also noted that Eccleston tackles the role with a "certain jaunty swagger" and that Rose is a "small but significant victory for the women's movement."
The latest edition of British adult comic Viz (May - #145) features Doctor Who extensively in its own choice style. The cover has an illustration of one of its characters Roger Mellie (outrageous broadcaster - and that's putting it mildly) in floppy hat and long scarf running away from other Viz characters/Doctor Who monster hybrids (Mrs Brady/Dalek and Mr Logic/Cyberman) with, in the background, the Tardis plus two Daleks - one of them with a handbag over its sucker and saying "Con-sti-pate, con-sti-pate". The actual Roger Mellie strip does not have any Doctor Who reference, nor do the Mrs Brady or Mr Logic ones, though. The masthead claims that Viz is "the mag that farts a hole through the space-time continuum" and boasts the feature "Cybermen Behaving Badly: Sex Secrets of the Doctor Who Monsters!" The feature is a two-page extract from the fictional memoir called Who Were You With In The Moonlight? by the equally fictional BBC tea lady Iris Poldark, in which she describes her sex sessions with the Master, a Sea Devil and Cyberman, plus a threesome with two Daleks. (To spare the sensibilities of younger visitors to Outpost Gallifrey, no more details are given here, but cognoscenti of Viz and the lurid kiss 'n' tell stories in some of the more sensational newspapers can no doubt guess as to its style and content.) It is illustrated with colour photos of Daleks, Cybermen, Roger Delgado as the Master, and the Doctor with a Sea Devil, plus a mono picture of a woman said to be Ms Poldark and the book cover.
"When we saw the Tardis, we knew this was something significant," Stephen Harries, a director at Cardiff Royal Infirmary, told the Guardian this weekend; the Royal Infirmary is where scenes were shot for the TV drama Doctor Who (specifically in "Aliens of London").
The Guardian on May 14 in the "Smallweed" column stated "Don't you dare do away with our Daleks!" "Much though I enjoy the new Dr Who series, I think it was an infernal liberty on the part of the scriptwriter Russell T Davies to have the last Dalek liquidate itself a fortnight ago. The Daleks in my view constitute a national treasure and to sweep them out of existence is like trying to liquidate, let us say, Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle, of course, did so, but such was the public outcry that he had to bring him to life again, adopting the pitiful course of pretending that the great detective's plunge from the Reichenbach Falls could have been other than fatal. I forget the precise explanation - maybe Doyle suggested that someone had left a trampoline at the foot of the falls and Sherlock simply bounced back. There ought to be a similar public outcry now." Er, someone should tell this poor writer...
There are many reports on the downfall of ITV on Saturday night and the success of "Doctor Who" in the ratings; some of them can be read atMegastar, Media Week, Broadcast Now,
Other stories: IGN Filmforce reports on recent stories such as the purported film rumors from Cannes and the BBC props folks being shut down; the Crewe Chronicle has an article about Dalek merchandise; more on the Halcyon Software Dalek "invasion" from PR Leap and 24-7 Press Releases;Sheffield Today reports on the appearance of the TARDIS at Hallam FM stage during the sixth annual Mayfest over the May Bank Holiday; and theSunday Timesrefers to Lord Birt, nicknamed "Dalek", and how 'they' might be used to 'exterminate' Gordon Brown's hopes to become prime minister.
(Thanks to Steve Tribe, Paul Engelberg, Chuck Foster, Andy Parish, Peter Anghelides, Gregg Smith, John Bowman, Dave King, Dan Garrett, Jamie Austin, Chris Winwood, Faiz Rehman, Paul Hayes, Peter Weaver, Cameron Yarde Jnr, Eddie Brennan, Andrew Norris, John Hatfield, David Traynier, Ben Stephens, James Sellwood, Paul Kennedy, Stephen Graves, Jonathan Baldwin, and AndyC at the R2 Project)