/* *********** TRACKING ******* */

Bookmark and Share The Week's TV News Coverage

5/28/2005 02:30:00 am - Reported by Shaun Lyon


May 28, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
Editor's Note: As reported on Outpost Gallifrey's front page, I've been out of commission for a week due to illness. The following news article wraps up the series related highlights from the press on May 21-28:

The Billie Piper Story

The Dreamwatch exclusive that Billie Piper may not be appearing in all 13 episodes of Series Two -- reported on Outpost Gallifrey prior to the break -- was picked up in a large number of international news reports on Monday 23 May and throughout the following week. First off was the Daily Star, which gave the story front page status, and also set the tone of a show in crisis, its stars abandoning shipà With Rose's second-series episode count reportedly as low as three,The Sun soon joined the fray, along with the Daily Mirror, theDaily MailDe HavillandBrand Republic's Media BulletinThe Scotsman, the Daily RecordIreland OnlineU.TVHello!, the Irish Examiner, theicNetworkRTE InteractiveCBBC Newsround,Manchester Online, Contact Music, Female First, the Daily Express, World Entertainment News Network, the Herald-Sun (Aus), Newsquest, theEvening StandardDigital Spy,SyFyPortalThe Guardian, theMelbourne Herald Sun, the Sydney Morning HeraldNews.com (Aus),The Mercury (Aus), Dark HorizonsMega Star, the Press Association, Northern Territory News (Aus), the Newcastle Herald, the Courier Mail (Queensland), The Age (Aus), Sky ShowbizAnanovaITV.com, the Western Mail, and the Doctor Who Appreciation Society rounded up much of the coverage on its own site.

BBC News and BBC Cult also reported on the reports, which prompted the press release that emerged on Monday afternoon from the BBC Press Office: "The BBC today confirmed that Billie Piper - who plays Doctor Who's companion Rose - will return for the second series on BBC ONE. A spokeswoman said: 'Billie Piper will return for the second series of Doctor Who. It has not been confirmed how many episodes she will be in. We are awaiting storylines and scripts.'" However, this is a not a denial that the actress is leaving, merely the official statement made by the production at this time.

The Daily Mirror was the first of many of the above papers to speculate on likely replacements for Rose, although its definition of 'likely' probably differs from the BBC's, including various singers and ex-singers, along with some familiar names from the acting and entertainment worlds. Among the names most often mentioned this past week were Michelle Ryan (Zoe Slater in EastEnders) and Jennifer Ellison (formerly in Channel 4's Brookside, now a regular in various 'celebrity' reality TV shows). The latter, at least, seems to have cropped up so often thanks to assiduous efforts by her agent: she's blond (like Billie); she can sing (like Billie); she's a celebrity (like Billie); and she's also been firmly reported in recent weeks as the next Bond girl amongst several other projects. The Mirror notes that "auditions began last week and TV bosses are keen to sign a dark-haired girl with a posh accent."

Episodes 10-12

The official site was as usual updated earlier this week to preview the new episode, #10, The Doctor Dances. This week's Fear Factor preview gives the episode a score of 4: Chilling. The episode has also been previewed in the Sunday Times ("ingenious"), the Taunton Times, and The Stage, which concentrates on John Barrowman's role as Captain Jack.

As usual, this week's Radio Times continues to give plenty of coverage, once again selecting Doctor Who as its top pick for Saturday ("RT recommendsà", page 4): "an enjoyable, even uplifting adventure set during the Second World War." There's another letter on the new series, although this one has its writer taken aback by sight of "that little patterned dress I'd noticed in Top Shop!" ("Letters", page 10). After a two-page feature on Peter Davison's return in The Last Detective, this week's full-page "Doctor Who Watch" (page 16) is headed "To be continuedà" and concentrates on the importance of cliffhangers in Doctor Who, via an interview with Steven Moffat ("it is wonderful to build it up to that screaming pitch, and the series does -- and this is a matter of absolute fact -- have the best cliffhanger music ever in the world") and a couple of colour shots from The Doctor Dances. There's also an opportunity for RT readers to get a free copy of Pyramids of Marson DVD, as part of a DVD rentals promotion (page 17). Episode 10 recaptures the Pick of the Day slot ("Saturday's Choices", page 64, with a large photo of Captain Jack): "the Doctor's way of dealing with the advancing hordes [of zombies] is as sweet as it is unexpected. It's the first of many pleasing surprises in tonight's episode [à] if any watching grown-ups still can't remember why they fell in love with the show originally, this story ought to do the trick. Full of wonder and wit, it's also Christopher Eccleston's finest hour." The Doctor Dances also regains the photo (Richard Wilson and Eccleston) slot at the head of the evening's BBC1 listings (page 66), with the episode details including promotion for the Volume 1 DVD release, and Doctor Who Confidential's listing says that "this programme looks at some of the gizmos and gadgets at the good Doctor's disposal." The BBC3 repeats are confirmed for the 12.15am on Saturday night and 7pm on Sunday evening (with another Confidential Cut Down at 7.45pm).

The BBC Press Office has released its weekly programme information documents (note: all documents are PDFs) for the week beginning Saturday 4 June. The Saturday highlights document previews Bad Wolf episode 12 as follows: "The Tardis crew fight for their lives on the Game Station in Russell T DaviesÆs penultimate adventure through time and space. The Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack have to fight for their lives on board the Game Station, but a far more dangerous threat is lurking, just out of sight. The Doctor realises that the entire human race has been blinded to the threat on its doorstep, and Armageddon is fast approaching. Christopher Eccleston plays The Doctor, Billie Piper plays Rose, John Barrowman plays Captain Jack Harkness, Camille Coduri plays Jackie Tyler, Noel Clarke plays Mickey Smith and special guest star Anne Robinson plays Anne Droid."

Ratings and Broadcasting

Episode 9, The Empty Child was well received by the UK press, with the Daily Express calling it "a brilliantly crafted episode". However, the overnight ratings for the episode were noticeably lower than for any other episode in the series, following the shift to an earlier timeslot to accommodate the Eurovision Song Contest, football-inspired last-minute changes to BBC1's Saturday evening schedule, and competition from a Star Wars film on ITV1. The episode scored a 6.6 million viewer average in its initial Saturday 21 May airing, but still placed a 34.9% share; the ratings peaked late in the episode 6.7m, and a 35% audience share, against 19% with 3.5m for The Phantom Menace. Once again, Doctor Who was top in its timeslot, although the FA Cup Final, Eurovision and Casualty all attracted higher ratings across the day. It also rated 181,390 viewers (4.2% share) in its 12.20am repeat late that night, and 669,400 viewers (4.2% share) in its Sunday night BBC3 repeat. It is interesting to note that the Sunday repeat is the highest-rated repeat of this season, meaning that it's possible that large numbers of people that intended to watch it Saturday missed out. Doctor Who Confidentialepisode nine had 405,130 viewers (3.2% share) in its initial airing at 7.10pm on Saturday 21 May, with 101,510 viewers (3.5% share) in the 1.05am repeat late that night.

The final UK ratings are in from BARB for episode 8, Father's Day: 8.06m, first in its timeslot, first for BBC1 on Saturday, fifth (behind four episodes of EastEnders) on BBC1 through the week, and 17th in the week's top terrestrial programming, behind the usual round of soaps, Heartbeat and the British Soap Awards. More detailed ratings information for the whole series so far is also available in the Outpost Gallifrey Forum.

"Rose" made its ABC Australia debut on Saturday 21 May and was among the weekend's top-rating shows, with 1,109,686 reported viewers. The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) noted that the series "was first in its 7.30pm timeslot for the ABC. It won in four of the five major capital cities, only just edged out by Channel 7's Inspector Lynley in Brisbane."

In addition to our announcement last week about South Korea getting the series, Benjamin Elliott of "This Week in Doctor Who" reports that TV2 inFinland is the latest acquirer of the new series. TV2 airs English language programming in English with subtitles - no dubbing. The station's statement (in Finnish, translated), says that it "has purchased the rights to Doctor Who, the cult youth sci-fi series, from the BBC. The BBC has produced an impressive new version which will be shown on TV2." This means that Finland is added to the list that includes the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Italy and South Korea.

Canada's CBC has scheduled repeats of Doctor Who Sundays at 7PM (7:30PM Newfoundland) starting June 19. This will make the CBC the first network around the world to give the Doctor Who episodes a second airing (not counting same week encores). It also means that the repeats will begin before the first run of the series on Tuesday nights ends on June 28.

20th Century Roadshow will be transmitted on Sunday, June 5 at 6.45pm on BBC1. The special features Doctor Who merchandise and memorabilia. The Doctor Who Appreciation Society has a review/preview available at their website.

Merchandise

Volume 1 of the Doctor Who new series DVDs, comprising "Rose", "The End of the World" and "The Unquiet Dead" was officially released on Monday 16 May, to great reviews and sales success. It made a Top 10 debut in several charts of DVD sales, including at Number 9 in the Official Chart listed on the BBCs' Radio 1 site. Several high street stores have also featured the DVD in their top tens (although these tend to be for promotional purposes rather than sales based), and the release was the bestseller at the BBC Shop as of 27 May, ahead of all other DVDs, CDs and books. Reviews have appeared in various Newsquest Media titles. (If you'd like to order it from Amazon.co.uk and support the Outpost,click here.)

The first three BBC Books novels featuring the Ninth Doctor and Rose were officially published on Thursday 19 May and, according to Friday 27 May'sPublishing News, are already into a second printing after extremely strong sales. Publishing News reports that the three books "were reprinted before they even officially hit the shops on Thursday of last week. The original print run was 100,000 for all four, and the reprint was 75,000." "They're very, very successful, which isn't surprising considering the publicity and reviews that Doctor Who has had," Jon Howells, Press and Communications Manager for Ottakar's, told Publishing News. "They've had great sales, and I think that will continue." The novels have received strong promotion from UK booksellers, with Ottakar's and Tesco amongst those offering all three for the price of two. Friday 27 May's edition of The Bookseller also reports that the three novels are at five, six and seven in the "Top 20 Fiction Heatseekers" chart. Meanwhile, The Independent had Justin Richards' "Monsters and Villains" paperback at Number 3 in the Cinema and Television chart.

Looking ahead to September, the latest issue of DWM confirms the three Ninth Doctor novels previously reported on Outpost Gallifrey as "The Deviant Strain" by Justin Richards, "Only Human" by Gareth Roberts and "The Stealers of Dreams" by Steve Lyons. The same issue carries an interview with the authors of the current range, Richards, Stephen Cole and Jacqueline Rayner, and previews the provisional cover for "Only Human".Amazon.co.uk has released the cover for Only Human which can be seen at right; click on the thumbnail for a larger version.

Amazon now has a brief synopsis for Doctor Who: The Shooting Scriptscoming later this year. "This book collects together the entire shooting scripts for the first series. Seven of the scripts are by Russell T Davies, with the remainder by Stephen Moffat, Robert Shearman, Paul Cornell and The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss. Each of the scripts will be illustrated with screen grabs, ensuring the book appeals to broad audience. Introductions by the writers will explain the inspirations for the new series and the fascinating process of creating a Doctor Who script."

Series Two News

The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine began to reach subscribers on Monday 23 May (its official publication date being Thursday, 26 May) and has one big -- if probably unavoidable -- spoiler for Series 2 which we have placed in theSPOILER TAG at the bottom of this news update. The magazine alsodenies rumours that David Walliams of BBC3's Little Britain comedy series will be writing an episode of the next series. Producer Phil Collinson states that there is "no truth in the tabloid rumours". Meanwhile, Russell T Davies is working on the as yet untitled Christmas special, which is confirmed as having a duration of 60 minutes. In his "Production Notes" column, Davies also reveals that Tom MacRae has delivered his first episode ("brilliant"), which contains the words "sickness", "mole" and "meat", and that episode numbers have yet to be allocated to the stories for Series 2.

Several news reports this week have suggested that Christopher Eccleston will be in the Christmas special; however, we do not believe he will be, instead appearing for the final time in episode 13 of this series.

Press Coverage

An article entitled "The return of Doctor Who" has been circulated widely by the Associated Press over the past week, appearing in a variety of mainstream press in North America, including at CNN.com and in a variety of local papers.

Press response to the series in Australia has been as generally positive as elsewhere with lots of reviews, previews and other articles, including several pieces in the Sydney Morning Herald ("Thank goodness for Who weekly -- there's no knocking the return of the wild-eyed chap in the big blue Tardis"), Northern Territory News, the Sunday Mail, the West Australian (Perth), The Australian, The Advertiser, the Courier Mail (Queensland), the Melbourne Herald Sun, The Age, Townsville Bulletin (Aus), the Newcastle Herald

It appears that certain press reports of Christopher Eccleston's post-Who intentions were, once again, inaccurate. He has not, according to bothEmpire and Moviehole, been cast as Silas in the forthcoming adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code", the role having gone to Paul Bettany. Eccleston was, however, seen by various newspapers taking part in the Great Manchester Run, which raised ú1 million for charity.

John Barrowman is interviewed by the Rainbow Network in which he says that "It's been great, but it's about to get much better! The thing is, is that I know what's going to happen, so I'm not watching it with the same baited breath that everybody else is. I know all the little secrets and storylines, but I am enjoying it; I think it's one of the better things on Saturday evening television." He notes that he is "in it until the end of this series, which is a cliff-hanger, and then we'll to wait and see what happens in the second and third series." On working with Eccleston and Piper: "It was just fantastic. When I initially started, which was just before Christmas 2004, I went into a series that had been filming since July. Everyone knew I was joining the team because I was hired at the same time as they were, but it was weird to walk into a situation where they'd been working together for a while. However, after we shot the first couple of scenes things just clicked and we had a great time together." He also discusses his next role, in the film version of Mel Brooks' "The Producers".

In an interview with The StagePeter Davison has said that his young children find the new series of Doctor Who "too scary", and ask to see old videos of "Daddy" playing the character instead. "They reckon the new Doctor Who is too scary and asked if they could watch Daddy playing him instead," Davison tells the Stage. "Although in fact, I'd say that was a compliment to the new series, as it implies that my episodes weren't scary at all and they merely wanted to be comforted by them." He also notes his feelings about Eccleston's departure: "I feel sorry for the fans, as I feel they've been rather let down. What it really needed, after all the effort and dedication of the fans over the years to get the show back on air, would be to have someone committed enough to stay with the role for two or three years. As it is, the fans must be disappointed and left feeling up in the air a bit."

Also in this week's The Stage, a note that "Jane Tranter, BBC head of drama commissioning, has pledged to open up early evening schedules on weekends and bank holidays to family-oriented drama, following the widespread success of Doctor Who. The show consistently attracts ratings of more than 7 million viewers and has already been credited with reviving BBC1's Saturday night fortunes. Now executives are hopeful it could mark a renaissance of family drama, a genre that has fallen out of favour in recent years with broadcasters and demographics experts blaming a lack of demand for it." Tranter tells the Stage that she thinks Doctor Who "has shown there is a real appetite for part of the week being set aside for family drama. ... It is clear that certain genres, such as fantasy or some real life situations, have the potential to get lots of people interested but if you are going to appeal to an 11-year-old and a 41-year-old there has to be something in its presentation that is universal."

Brand Republic's Digital Bulletin has reported on the huge online success of the Dalek game. The story says that "The Last Dalek" has "amassed 500,000 separate plays in just three weeks [à] More than 275 websites now list the game and its popularity is said to be spreading around the world from players in countries including Australia, Switzerland and Japan. The game was also a top-three entry into the Lycos Viral Game Chart".

In the Guardian over a week ago, there was a note in the Smallweed column with an ultimatum, which we reported on these pages: "Don't do away with our Daleks, Davies." May 28's Guardian featured a reply from Russell T Davies: "Dear Mr Smallweed, I surrender. You win. My neighbours have stuck your campaign message in their car windows and keep driving past me, shaking an angry fist in my direction. All right, all right, all right, the Daleks will be back. Hundreds of 'em. No more girly consciences either, they're back to being mean metal bastards. What d'you fancy next year? Cybermen?"

Some TV mentions: During discussion on the London Eye controversy on "Richard And Judy" on Tuesday 24 May, Richard suddenly introduced a clip from Rose featuring the London icon. Friday's "Lenny Henry Show" had a brief bit on the news about Billie's departure (and Daleks serving in the Queen Vic (Eastenders)!). The Beeb showed the wrong trailer after "Neighbours" Friday evening, put on the Father's Day one instead! The correct one was shown after the news and Eastenders. And another comment about Doctor Who budgets on "Have I Got News For You!"

Some other brief press mentions: the Times mentions Billie Piper in a list of suggested replacements for Kylie Minogue at Glastonbury; the Scottish Daily Record features an article on John Barrowman (and his Scottish connection); and theBristol Evening Post notes that a "junkie burglar who worked on Doctor Who set" has been jailed.

(Thanks to Steve Tribe, Paul Engelberg, Peter Anghelides, Andy Parish, Chuck Foster, Paul Greaves, Robert Booth, Ryan Piekenbrock, Duncan Rose, Paul Hayes, Scott Matthewman, Peter Weaver, Adam Kirk, James Sellwood, Widya Santoso, Jim Trenowden, Doug Vermes and Rich Finn)
According to issue 357 of Doctor Who Magazine, the Cybermen will return to the series for its second season. There is no word on how many stories they will appear in but it is expected that they will be in multiple episodes.