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5/03/2005 02:47:00 am - Reported by Shaun Lyon

May 3, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
The BBC's official site has had its weekly refurbishment and now has a Long Game theme. The front page comprises sixteen 'screens', each cycling through a series of images which at various stages form complete larger images of the Doctor, the Editor, Rose or Adam. At different times, the individual screens form links to other areas of the site and to the Clive/Mickey site and the spoof Geocomtex site launched last weekend. Intriguingly, the screen in the bottom right corner, when highlighted, turns red, with an image of a wolf and the text "badwolf, badwolf, badwolf..." This seems to be a link to a forthcoming area of the site or possibly to another spoof site we have yet to see. The Episode Guide section has been updated for The Long Game and, as usual, currently offers the 'Next time...' trailer from Episode 6 and a photo gallery - this with sixteen new photos, mostly of the TARDIS crew. Also promised for after the episode has broadcast are the usual photo stories and video diaries, including one from Bruno Langley.

Today's edition of Radio Times is published today, and promotes this weekend's episode The Long Game, although there is slightly more Dalek content. The second token for the giant Dalek poster is on page 3 (and a bonus token is apparently on the Radio Times website). As ever, this week's episode is the top choice for Saturday in the week's best television (page 4) - a photo of the Doctor and Adam, and a brief blurb: "A lively, if haphazard, outing for the Time Lord (and a shifty new 'companion', Adam) takes a gruesome peak at the future of journalism." There's a letter from a Slitheen (page 9), as Elizabeth Frost corrects the impression that there were only two performers inside the costumes: "In fact there three! Two six-foot men and me, a five-foot-seven woman. Although my contribution was small, I would like to think it makes a tiny stand for intergalactic girl power!" This week's behind the scenes feature (page 17) concentrates on the inside of a Dalek and includes three photos of the "cuddly creation"; only a quarter of the page is given to The Long Game and concentrates on guest star Simon Pegg and the trouble he had saying one of his lines. There's also another plug for the forthcoming Monsters and Villains book. A large feature on VE Day includes comments from Christopher Eccleston and Richard E Grant, both of whom are contributing to the concert on Sunday. Alison Graham has Tamsin Greig as "This Week's One to Watch" (page 63) noting that she is playing "a neurosurgeon of the future in this week's Doctor Who story." Which is, again, one of Saturday's choices (page 64), although with a rather mixed view: "... a slavering nightmare of which Gerald Scarfe would be proud (send tots to bed though). But despite bubbling with great ideas, the story doesn't quite hang together, and with a dateline that far away, you'd expect a greater leap of imagination from the design department." Saturday's BBC1 listing is headed with a photo of Bruno Langley as Adam ("Milky Way kid", apparently; page 66). The episode blurb reads "Simon Pegg guest-stars as teh sinister Editor. In the future, he oversees the entire Earth Empire. But who is he working for?" The listing for Doctor Who Confidential says that "The evil genius has been a feature of Doctor Who throughout the years, and he made a welcome return to the series earlier this evening, in the form of the Editor, alias Simon Pegg. Here, he discusses the role he's always wanted to play." Also, "One Final Question" (page 146) this week interviews David Warner and asks about his Doctor Who connections - he gives a plug for the Big Finish Unbound CD Sympathy for the Devil, in which he played the Doctor, and is asked whether he was interested in replacing Christopher Eccleston on television: "No, no. It was never mooted for me. I'm 63 and these are issues I don't think about much - it's not as if I'm trying to establish a career! Would I accept Doctor Who? I don't know. I should be so lucky to be asked - then I could consider it." Meanwhile, the Radio Times website is running a competition to win a cardboard life-size cut-out TARDIS and new Doctor Who books - UK readers only can simply submit their details and vote in a poll for best villain (Dalek, Darth Vader, etc) before 10 May and the first names out of the hat will win. The competition is on the website here.

Regarding Doctor Who Confidential, Radio Times listing confirms the Sunday timeslot for the second repeat of the documentary is only fifteen minutes, so "Doctor Who Confidential Cut Down" (not the official title, of course) would seem to be the format for Sundays from now on. Last weekend's "Confidential" aired as normal on Saturday but was cut to 15 minutes on the Sunday repeat for the first time in order to fill a one hour slot on BBC3.

Film Focus had a brief interview chat with David Tennant last night at the European premiere of "Kingdom of Heaven." They first chatted about his latest film project: "I'm playing Barty Crouch Jr. in the new Harry Potter film," he told Film Focus. "it should be good. I think I've done all my stuff, as far as I know, but I'm really looking forward to seeing it." He then turned his attention to the current series of Doctor Who: "It's very exciting and very daunting, in equal measures. Just the amount of attention it gets is quite overwhelming. But there's no better show in the world. We start shooting in July." The article says (perhaps their own speculation) that Eccleston will return for the Christmas special that will introduce Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, but Tennant has no plans to outdo Eccleston's Doctor. "Christopher Eccleston was so brilliant. I shan't be trying to steal his thunder. I'll be trying to do something different."

Book Update: The "Doctor Who: The Shooting Scripts" hardback from BBC Books that we reported on yesterday will actually be published on October 6, not the 31st.

Politics: The statement promoting Labour featuring David Tennant, as we reported yesterday, has been reported inBrand Republic, while the Labourofficial site quotes Tennant's statement ("voting will take you 30 seconds and will last five years"). The Labour Party election broadcast featuring Tennant in two brief clips did indeed go out Tuesday; it also featured Richard Wilson (who appears as Dr. Constantine in "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" later in the season). Finally, an article at the Milton Keynes website notes that the 2005 General Election "has had a much-needed boost with the emergence of the Dalek Party. The metal monsters chose Central Milton Keynes to launch their campaign wooing would-be voters at the Collectormania event at the weekend. Their local candidate told the Tuesday Citizen, in a quavering screech, their policies included free space travel for pensioners, home rule for Skaro and zero tax on sink plungers. More controversial are strict controls on Time Lords, and the conquest of the galaxy. 'This election we aim to put the X in ex-ter-min-ation,' he said before checking behind sofas in John Lewis for floating voters."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The editor would like to emphasize that he is not advocating any UK political party -- not Labour, the Conservatives, the LibDems, the Dalek Party, the Monster Raving Looney Party, or any other party -- in reporting this information, as not being a UK citizen it would be spurious for me to do so; I'm merely reporting the information that pertains to Doctor Who (specifically, David Tennant). I would recommend, however, that whatever your party affiliation, you vote in this week's elections... it's always a good idea to take part in the political process.

Ratings: Several sources are reporting on this past Saturday's "ratings disaster" for ITV. "ITV had a disastrous Saturday night after all of their five main evening shows failed to attract even a fifth of viewers," reported theDaily Record. "More than 800,000 deserted Celebrity Wrestling as ratings slumped to three million after just two weeks. The BBC triumphed as 7.8 million people watched Dr Who take on the Daleks. ITV have been unable to find a replacement for Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, which regularly pulled in up to eight million viewers." The Daily Record quoted an "insider" as saying "'Saturday nights have turned into a total disaster and there's pressure for big changes to be made" although an ITV spokesman said "There are no plans to reschedule Saturday nights. It just isn't happening." The editor of Broadcast magazine said: "It's very bad news for ITV1. How long can they keep it in that slot? They would do better with a movie. ITV is clearly under a lot of pressure on Saturday nights. Doctor Who is absolutely trouncing them." This was also reported in Media Guardian (and again in a second article), the Scotsman, and Broadcast Now (registration required). However, to redress the balance, Broadcast Now have reported that the ratings for BBC on Monday were their worst audience share ever: "BBC1 suffered its worst overall share for a day's viewing yesterday with an average of 2.4 million (18.8%) from 9.30am - 12.59am. It was also its second worst peak time share this year of 21.2%."

More reviews of Dalek today. The Mirror says that "Before its recent return to our screens, there were two legacies of Dr Who's 42-year history that remained universally loved - the Daleks and the theme tune... The theme tune remains flawless. As for the Daleks, I'm not so sure. As is the way with television these days, the Daleks were given a makeover. ... The comeback series has been a success because it has been fun. It has been bold and vigorous and - if you're seven - even quite scary. The scripts have been witty and knowing, choc-full of references to everything from Star Wars, ET and Alien, right up to The X Files and Buffy generation. ... The much-heralded chase scene, in which the Dalek got to float upstairs, was so slow it was a damp squib." The Western Daily Press: "Daleks never frightened me, although I knew the BBC meant us to be terrified by these curious motorised dustbins adorned with plastic balls. ... So I had a queer turn when I saw the new hightech, digitally-enhanced, super de deluxe Dalek... I'm also warming to Christopher Eccleston's doctor, although he does have annoying mannerisms, including breaking into a dopey Stan Laurel smile when the tension lags. Meanwhile the special effects are getting better and Billie Piper's transformation from sultry popette to nothalf-bad actress is remarkable to behold. The stories are good, too, and Saturday's drama held my attention from start to finish as the doctor took on the Daleks deep below Utah." In theSentinel: "On Saturday night, in a King Kong-esque kind of way, I couldn't help but be moved by the plight of the last [Dalek] around. ... Hang on, this isn't an episode of Dr Who, it's an advert for the Welsh Tourist Board. In the end, overcome by the futility of its existence alone, it topped itself. I wasn't crying. I'd just poked myself in my eye."

Other press stories today: continued discussion of the Davison-disses-Eccleston story at Manchester Online; and theDVD Times weblog discusses "Dalek".

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Chuck Foster, Paul Hayes, John Bowman, Cameron Yarde Jr., Gregg Smith, Scott Andrews)