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6/21/2005 12:10:00 am - Reported by Shaun Lyon

June 21, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
New Zealand fans, take notice: a definite date for Doctor Who has at last been announced: 7 July! Says Prime TV's website: "Prime Television is thrilled to be bringing Doctor Who to New Zealand television screens 7th July, 7:30pm. Doctor Who's long-awaited return was a ratings success for the BBC, attracting up to 10.5 million viewers in the UK on its premiere night, a 43% share of audience. It has been over 40 years since Doctor Who hit television screens. The show promises to deliver all the excitement of good drama, with a hero who never carries a gun. Fans should brace themselves for some exhilarating experiences and deadly confrontations."

Ratings update for Sunday: the BBC3 7pm reshowing of "The Parting of the Ways" had 719,200 viewers, with a 6.3% share; it was first in its time slot. The repeat of "Doctor Who Confidential" achieved 455,200 viewers (3.7% share, third in timeslot). "Doctor Who" also had the highest audience appreciation index (AI) for the week, with an 89 score. Meanwhile, MediaWeekThe Scotsman and other sources cover the lower-than-normal viewers for Saturday's finale debut, though they do rightfully attribute it to the weather.

The official site has had a (final?) refit for this series, its homepage now showing the Ninth Doctor inside the TARDIS, with the line "Before I go, I just want to tell you, you were fantastic." The page is headed "Doctor Who will return in The Christmas Invasion", and has links to three Real Player viewings of: the last two minutes of the regeneration scene from "The Parting of the Ways"; Season One highlights, which is the montage of clips to music by Snow Patrol that closed the thirteenth edition of Doctor Who Confidential; and Teaser Trailer. The latter is the forty-second clips montage ending "Countdown to The Christmas Invasion starts now..." which has been frequently broadcast on BBC television since 9pm on Saturday. The audio downloads section has also been updated to include various lines and sounds from the final episode, including the Doctor's "Before I go..." line.

In a report on the BBC's website, BBC Chairman -- and former Doctor Who archnemesis -- Michael Grade has praised the new series in an email to Director General Mark Thompson: "This is not easy to write - as you will readily understand. But here goes - congratulations to all involved in Dr Who: to whoever commissioned it, those who executed it, the writers, the cast, the publicity folk that promoted it, the schedulers and of course the late Sydney Newman who invented the whole thing. I truly enjoyed it and watched it every week with my six and half year old son who is now a fan. A classy, popular triumph for people of all ages and all backgrounds - real value for money for our licence fee payers. PS never dreamed I would ever write this. I must be going soft!" Indeed.

The second of the Series One DVDs debuted on this weeks UK national release chart at Number Five, only being outsold by feature films 'Creep', 'Oceans 12' and 'The Aviator' and the sports release 'Liverpool - Champions of Europe'. This is four places better than it's predecessor which charted at number nine in it's first week of release. However, with the added publicity Volume One returned to the chart this week - re-entering at number 19 in the countdown.

Since Saturday, BBC News has had a "Have your say" feature on audience reaction to the end of the series and their expectations of the next. "Have you enjoyed Doctor Who?" has most recently been updated today (Tuesday), and now includes over sixty, overwhelmingly positive, responses.

The Manchester Evening News published a positive review of the finale: "For the fans though, and I'm not ashamed to admit I'm one of the old-school breed, this was outstanding. Clever, subtle references in dialogue and storytelling to the original series, with enough modern touches to make it still feel as fresh and energetic as the Doctor himself. Some may be churlish and point out the flaws in the plot. Or complain about Captain Jack kissing both Rose and the Doctor goodbye (and those that do - please leave now. Really, switch off your computer and don't come back.). I'm not going to. There was no pretentions here, this was just great, balls to the wall entertainment. Fourty five of the best minutes of Doctor Who, and possibly of family drama, ever." On the other hand, the Mirror's "Shelley Vision" column by Jim Shelley said that "a terrific final episode of Dr Who was spoiled only by some slightly predictable neo-nazi raving... 'Purify the earth with fire... The planet will become my temple and we shall rise. This will be our paradise.' All a bit camp and meaningless. Billie Piper did very well as a kind of council estate Bardot. ... Hats off to both leads for reviving this series."

The Daily Express noted that "They said it couldn't be done. But Doctor Who did it. Helped by the gorgeous, pouting Rose, a murderous army of Daleks, assorted scary monsters and scripts that were out of this world, BBC1's Time Lord triumphantly regenerated a life form that everyone thought was long extinct; a family audience. For 13 weeks, whatever ITV hurled at the show, be it Celebrity Wrestling or blockbuster movies, fell through a ratings black hole." The article says that the finale "had everything û a set-piece pitched battle between the forces of good and evil, the threatened destruction of planet Earth, a touching love story, great jokes and a cliff-hanger ending. And no one swore or did anything rude û with the possible exception of Ca(m)ptain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), who at one point grabbed Christopher Eccleston's face in both hands and planted a big smacker on the startled Doctor's lips. But they were both facing imminent extermination by the Daleks, so you can forgive the guy for getting a bit emotional."

The countdown to The Christmas Invasion has begun on television... The BBC has run several trailers over the past three days with ads reminding viewers that the countdown is on, and the series will be back this winter for the special.

Billie Piper will be appearing on "Parkinson" on ABC TV on Saturday 9 July, 9.30pm. This will be a couple of hours after "Father's Day" debuts on Aussie TV, according to the ABC website. It's a repeat of her appearance on UK television a few months back, but seen for the first time in Australia.

According to PlaybillJohn Barrowman will join Tony Award winner Lea Salonga in an upcoming tribute to the music of Leonard Bernstein in Germany. The Munich concert, A Tribute to Leonard Bernstein, will be held July 2 at the Klassik Am Odeonsplatz. The 9 PM performance will feature Barrowman and Salonga in a suite of songs from West Side Story with Barrowman singing the role of Tony and Salonga the role of Maria. The concert will also feature the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under the direction of Leonard Slatkin.

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Jon Preddle, Adam Kirk, Dougal Scaife, David Traynier and James Sellwood)