Bookmark and Share Weekend Series Press Coverage and Finale Roundup

6/19/2005 12:15:00 am - Reported by Shaun Lyon


June 19, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
The Parting of the Ways

Yesterday's season finale, The Parting of the Ways, had 6,185,840 viewers watching... which may not seem like a lot at first, but "Doctor Who" was the top-ranked programme of Saturday night ("Casualty" only had 5.9 million) and in fact had an extremely impressive 41.77% audience share! A BBC spokesperson told BBC News that warm weather was a likely reason for less people watching TV indoors... that, despite viewing figures being down, it was still the most watched television show of the evening. "Almost half of those watching television tuned in to Doctor Who. It continues to be the most-watched television show on a Saturday night." The repeat of Doctor Who at 10.50pm Saturday night had 254,670 viewers (2.6% share). Doctor Who Confidential had 676,860 viewers immediately after "Parting of the Ways" (6.8% share, #1 in its timeslot for non-terrestrial channels) and 175,920 viewers (2.3% share) for the late night 11.35pm Saturday showing. Also, Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide had approximately 2.7 million viewers immediately prior to the broadcast of "Parting".

Over the weekend the BBC main website featured a special splash page with the words "TIME IS UP... Invasion Begins Tonight BBC One 7pm".

In a report on BBC News, Russell T Davies said star Christopher Eccleston "turned around the reputation" of Doctor Who. "I love Doctor Who and I love the old Doctor Who. But, even with all that love, you have to admit that the name of the programme had become a joke and its reputation had become a cheap joke at that - you know rubber monsters and shaky sets. And Chris, as one of the country's leading actors, by being willing to step up to the line and take on that part has proved himself to be magnificent and has turned it around. So now you get actors like David Tennant who is the next generation and just about one of the best actors in the world. David himself says he wouldn't have touched this part if Chris hadn't done it because the part had become a joke. But Chris has salvaged it and made it new, and now we get to do one of the most famous parts of Doctor Who folklore - the moment when the Doctor regenerates and becomes a new person and yet stays exactly the same man." Davies also notes that "We've been talking to Billie for months now and Billie Piper is in every single episode next year. We have got a Christmas special coming up and then 13 episodes, so we are going to make 14 in total and she is in all 14 episodes." He said that the success of the show was down to imagination. "It's been everything we planned and more, and it's very rarely in life you get the chance to have that happen. I genuinely love the old series of Doctor Who and I especially went back in my mind to the 60s - you know their imagination back then was limitless. It's just now that we happen to have a chance that we have a nice budget and that we can actually show some of these things. In its heart Doctor Who was always this imaginative and it was always this big."

More reviews of "Parting of the Ways". In the Telegraph: "And so it ends - another Doctor down the vortex, another Dalek invasion foiled and a mystery at least partially solved. The first series of the revived and revitalised Doctor Who ended last night amid Wagnerian choruses and swarms of airborne Daleks hellbent on reducing mankind to a giant, fleshy puddle. I can't imagine anyone of any age coming away feeling short-changed. For 13 weeks, Doctor Who has breathed new life into that most mouldy of broadcasting concepts: family viewing. It's sent Christopher Eccleston's star soaring and it's added a deserved lustre to the crown of its chief scriptwriter, Russell T Davies....." In the Sunday Mirror: "Fair's fair - that Doctor Who finale was flawless. But it didn't make up for the six or so ropey episodes (yes you, Slitheens) we've had to endure. Fact is, Chris Eccleston was only any good when the Doctor was fighting the Daleks. And this show was only unmissable when the Daleks were in town. Which means that now the Daleks are (surely) gone forever, and despite his show-stealing cameo last night, David Tennant really has his work cut out. Still, if any man can..." In The People: "The BBC held a back-slapping Bafta screening for last night's Dr Who. Are they sure? The hit series has been fun, but it's also been flawed by feeble aliens (the Slitheen), childish fart jokes and the constant gurning of Chris Eccleston. The sci-fi has been so-so, with writer Russell T Davies relying heavily on lazy cheats like the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. The hottest episodes (the solo Dalek, the Victorian gas creatures) were written by other people. Russell's plotting is frequently thinner than his freakish cosmetic surgery creation Cassandra. ... The Doc has regenerated as David Tennant. Superb. Here, exclusively, is the new Who's to-do list: 1) Stop grinning like a loon. 2) Remove Eccleston's pigeons from Tardis loft. 3) Release whippet into t'wild... " Also, the Scottish Sunday Mail refers to David Tennant in the TARDIS at the end of the story.

Because we took the day off yesterday and didn't report on all the spoiler-laden previews of the final episode, here are some links for your reading pleasure: The MirrorThe SunThe Western MailDark HorizonsBBC Radio 1 NewsThe Belfast Telegraph.

Monday's Herald: "Another close one for the human race, then. Who would have guessed the ex-wife of Chris Evans would end up with the time vortex running through her head, thus acquiring special-effects eyes, the power of life and death and an ability to save the day 200,000 years from now? Didn't see that one coming. ... Each episode of the new and immaculately-conceived Doctor Who has had a satirical edge to it, a theme with a moral that, as with most half-decent science-fiction, has an application in the here and now. For Saturday's episode, the lesson involved a mechanical, in this case literally so, devotion to religion. ... It was all done with great style, not a little wit and some authentic pathos. In a single series, Christopher Eccleston has established himself as one of the best, if not the best, 900-year-old Time Lords in the business. David Tennent's sparky cameo as the post-regeneration heir to the title û 'So where was I?' û was promising, but the bar has been set high."

The Guardian called the episode their Pick of the Day and said, "In 1989, Doctor Who came to a close with Sylvester McCoy stumbling towards some bushes muttering about tea getting cold. In contrast, the triumphant new series' finale is nothing short of a Dalek-flavoured Gotterdammerung with the ultimate fate of humanity up for grabs. One gets the feeling that the final shot won't be a freeze-frame of the show's five regulars hi-fiving as the Tardis vworps off. Russell T Davies - thank you. Bye Chris. David Tennant - please don't screw it up."

Merchandise

At right is the cover illustration for the thirdDoctor Who first series DVD release, Volume Three, which was revealed this week on the Amazon.co.uk website. Volume Three includes four episodes -- "The Long Game," "Father's Day," "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" -- and is now due for release on August 1 instead of late July as originally announced. We should have a much better quality version of this cover early this week.

In Austraila, the release dates of the next three editions of the new series DVDs were given in a flyer in the first release: Volume 2 is out on August 4, Volume 3 in September and Volume 4 in October. Also, the flyer in Volume 1 is part of a competition to get a "free Talking Dalek Bottle Opener" if you purchase all 4 volumes.

The Doctor Who Companion û Series One from Panini Press, a Doctor Who Magazine special, is due out on July 7. The special will feature photographs and information on the first season of the show; more details about that soon.

Series Two and Three

Russell T Davies is quoted at CBBC Newsround about the 'scoop' for season two. "A Christmas special this year, another series of 13 episodes in 2006, followed by another Christmas special and then 13 more episodes in 2007, which is very exciting," Davies says. About villains: "Some great new stuff. Some famous old monsters called Cybermen will be coming back and they are as equally scary as the Daleks. They will marching onto your screens into 2006. Lots of new villains too and one or two favourite characters from this year as well. But at the same time the Christmas special has a brand new monster to fight, and that's gonna be good!" About new planets: "I'm the one who has stopped us going off earth because I think you see an awful lot of shows, expensive good ones like Enterprise and Angel, where they go to another planet or dimension and it looks rubbish, it looks like California in the sunshine with a funny rock. I think that when stuff like Revenge of the Sith is doing the most beautiful planets, no matter what you think of the film, the planets are utterly beautiful and that's on a cinema budget which is a trillion times more than a television show would have. I think it's the hardest thing to do and I'm very wary of looking like rubbish because I think the moment the programme looks rubbish people point at it and laugh in a bad way. I'm very happy if people have fun with it and have a good laugh with it. When you have a bad laugh you've lost the faith and you've lost the audience." About a story arc for the second season, like the "Bad Wolf" stuff: "Yes there is, and that word has already been heard on screen. And that's all I'm saying. You'll have to go back and trawl through 13 episodes to realise what I'm on about. You'll hear the word in the Christmas special though" About the Christmas Special: "It's going to be 60 minutes long. It's the first story of the new Doctor played by David Tennant. I remember when I was young it's very strange when a new Doctor comes along, and that's exactly how Rose feels. Her mum gets involved again, but beyond that I can't give anything else away. It's as Christmassy as can be. It's got reindeer, it's got sleigh bells, it's got the works." About Tennant and his native Scottish accent: "Well, every planet has a Scotland. You'll have to wait and see, there are big revelations on the way and I can't say any more than that." About reaction to the show: "The thing we're most happy about is that we've got a new young audience watching. Research before we started said children won't watch because their mums and dads liked it. That was terrifying because we wanted a young audience and I especially wanted girls watching because science-fiction is very often seen as a boy's thing, which is why we have so many strong female characters. And a lot of strong emotion in it, because I think that gets girls watching. I'm delighted that young audience has latched on to it."

Rumors abound, mostly in a report in Saturday's The Sun, that the BBC has approached Elisabeth Sladen to reprise the role of Sarah Jane Smith along with her robot dog K-9 in next year's Doctor Who season. The Sun quotes Russell T Davies as saying "Talks are under way with Elisabeth Sladen to revive the iconic character Sarah Jane Smith, who is remembered by a whole generation of Doctor Who fans." However, there's no additional confirmation about this quote or the report itself.

According to Broadcast Now, "Doctor Who could face yet another regeneration for the show's third series, after the BBC revealed it has still not signed a deal with its new Time Lord actor David Tennant. Tennant and co-star Billie Piper have both been confirmed for the second series, but the BBC admitted that no contract has been signed with either actor for the third series, announced this week. 'We're still in discussions with David Tennant and Billie Piper. The third series has only just been announced, so it's still early days,' said a spokeswoman. Eccleston sparked a storm of criticism when he revealed he would not reprise the role for the second series. When the news was leaked, the BBC was forced to apologise to the actor after issuing a statement in his name, claiming he had left the series for fear of being typecast. A first series ending had to be filmed in which Eccleston's face morphs into that of Casanova star Tennant. He and Piper will star in the 13-episode second series and a Christmas special, which are being filmed in Cardiff this summer for broadcast next year."

Executive producer Julie Gardner is interviewed in a video on the official Doctor Who website, accessible here. "Will the Daleks be back? What are children up to in playgrounds? What is Bad Wolf? Does the series end on a bang?"

Other series three confirmation reports were featured at Scifi.comThe RegisterBrand RepublicSyFyPortal.

People

Christopher Eccleston stars in Peter Nichols' play "A Day in the of Death of Joe Egg" on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 3 July, according to programmeinformation from the BBC Press Office.

According to Broadway WorldJohn Barrowman will join Rob Lowe as one of A Few Good Men, which opens in its London premiere on September 6th at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket after starting previews on August 18th. Lowe will play Lt. Daniel Kaffee, a lawyer who must defend a soldier accused of killing one of this fellow soldiers, while Barrowman will portray Captain Jack Ross, the role made famous by Kevin Bacon in the hit 1992 film that also starred Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore. Suranne Jones has also been cast in the Aaron Sorkin play, which will be directed by David Esbjornson (The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, The Goat).

Press Coverage

Monday's The Independent calls "Doctor Who's greatest triumph the return of TV for all the family. So Doctor Who is over for this year - which is a shame, because the return of the eccentric time traveller has been a triumph for BBC Television and given many of us a much-needed 'appointment to view' programme to watch on a Saturday night. For those, like me, who believe in popular, quality drama on British television, it was a delight to watch the Doctor take a sonic screwdriver to Celebrity Wrestling on ITV. The debate on whether or not to revive Doctor Who had been going on at the BBC for some years before the recently departed controller of BBC1, Lorraine Heggessey, decided it was time for the Doctor's return. She should be applauded, not just for taking the decision, but for giving the series such a large budget - BBC1 spent ú1m on each 45-minute episode, although the total cost was ú1.2m (the rest came from overseas sales). By current television drama standards, that is an enormous figure and Lorraine's decision was not without risk, as the Doctor Who addicts are, as well as being a bit anoraky, a demanding bunch. But even they should be satisfied with a well-scripted, well-acted series which had high production values and condemned to yesteryear the old practice of pushing Daleks around the studio . ... The reason Doctor Who was a triumph is that, for the first time for some years, we had a new (at least, it felt new) early-evening drama that could be watched by the whole family, something that many in television thought was close to impossible to achieve in the multi-channel age. Just listening to Jonathan Ross raving about the series on his Saturday morning show on Radio Two tells you why it was so special; it gave him the opportunity to sit with his children and watch a programme that they all enjoyed, but on a range of different levels. ... It could be that Doctor Who is unique, that its long history - which guaranteed an audience - combined with a big budget and an outstanding production team gave it advantages that the average new show is never going to get. Or it could be that commissioners just need to be willing to take more risks, and back them up with big money."

Also in the Independent, Matthew Norman's Media Diary says "Finally, on the conclusion of Doctor Who's comeback series, my twopenn'orth of sycophantic adulation for Russell T Davies for a miraculous revival, and some of the best scripts TV drama has known for years. The loss of Christopher Eccleston is a blow, of course (especially to those who have had the fabled pleasure of working with him), but we look forward to David Tennant in the next series. Incidentally, plans to hire Simon Heffer as The Hefferlump - a part-organic, part-robotic madman hell-bent on bringing Enoch Powell back to life - have been shelved due to concerns about the show's pre-watershed start time. But Simon will definitely be signed up to play one of the Slitheen, should that portly family of intergalactic mercenaries make a comeback in series two."

The Telegraph says that the "Time is right for Dr Who to conquer films. The television phenomenon of 2005 is heading for the big screen for the first time in 40 years. The BBC confirmed that it is considering a film adaptation after the triumphant climax of the Doctor Who series last night..."

The Daily Star says that "TV bosses are bracing themselves for a backlash from moral crusaders tomorrow night when they screen a kiss between Dr Who and bisexual time-traveller Captain Jack Harkness. In the last episode of the series, the Timelord and Rose face the wrath of the Daleks - and Captain Jack, actor John Barrowman, 38, is sure they won't survive. As he gets set to mount an attack on the aliens, he plants a smacker on the Doctor's lips and says: 'See you in hell!' Despite the cheeky nature of the kiss, telly watchdogs are already up in arms about it. David Turtle of MediaWatch said: 'This is totally inappropriate, considering Doctor Who goes out in the early evening and is meant to be for family viewing.'" The Western Mail also discusses that, and has a few quotes from Davies. "At the outset, we were told by many people within the business that we were making an impossible programme," he says. "Demographic experts told us that a show designed for family viewing was unrealistic in the current TV climate. They said, 'Don't aim for that.' But we forged ahead, and we proved them wrong. ... One of the hardest things about the second series will be sticking to the same road we've created. In many ways, after you've proved successful with one series, the second series is the biggest, most dangerous challenge, so none of us are resting on our laurels. We want to stay faithful to the roots of the programme, while also pushing it further." He refers to the story about how he approached "Harry Potter" author JK Rowling to write an episode of the first series: "But she turned us down, and I'm not crawling back to ask a second time!" He says that having worked with Tennant will be a big advantage. "It means I know David's rhythms of speech, his mannerisms. But, as the Doctor, he won't be hugely different to Christopher Eccleston. He'll have a different style of dialogue, and his own quirks - just like you had Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker and Peter Davison - but he's still the Doctor. He'll be wearing different clothes, but rumours that David will be wearing a kilt are completely untrue."

Prime TV in New Zealand screened a short trailer for the new series at approx. 1pm on Sunday the 19th June. The trailer lasted less than thirty seconds and was made up of a montage of clips from the new series, ending with the new series logo and a caption underneath reading Coming Soon.

The Daily Star said that Saturday was "one of the saddest moments for anyone watching telly. Not because they're watching Beverly Hills Cop on ITV and lamenting how rubbish Eddie Murphy is now. No. They'll be watching the end of Dr Who on BBC1. There will be howls of anguish, screams of agony and buckets of tears. It will be like the nation has been turned into a McFly gig audience. In fact there will be only one house in Britain where there WON'T be blubbing. Mine. I'm sooooo glad it's ending. I can't take any more. It's simply too good. It's spoiling the rest of my telly viewing by making it rubbish in comparison. And professionally, I am running out of phrases to describe its magnificence. ... Anyway, I'm glad it's ending as my head and heart will explode if it gets any better. If Russell T Davies has any sense he'll cancel plans to do a second series, quit while he's ahead - and start work on bringing back Blake's 7."

The Washington Blade says that "Captain Jack Harkness is the most singularly unique character I have ever witnessed on television. He likes women. He likes men. He likes ù robots. He flies around in an invisible spaceship and swoops out of the sky just in time to stop a bomb, all brawn and machismo, and in the next scene makes a catty little quip and forms an exaggerated 'W' with his fingers. Did I mention that he hides a rather large laser gun in his $#@? Gay actor John Barrowman plays the openly omnisexual Captain Jack Harkness in the new 'Doctor Who' series. We should expect little less from Russell T. Davies ... He's a 51st century guy. He's just a little more flexible about who he dances with."

The Times Online asks "Why is Doctor Who such a success?": "Before Doctor Who of went on air, research suggested that no one would want to watch it and that the BBC was heading for a ú10 million disaster. The sci-fi series has confounded predictions by attracting seven million viewers. Why have so many people switched on to the Doctor?" The site has reader responses from a variety of locations.

Russell T Davies has a brief letter in this week's print edition of Broadcast magazine. Last week, Emily Bell wrote at length on the artistic and broadcasting success of the series (see OG news, 12 June), saying that her seven-year-old had woken her up in the middle of the night, worried about gas masked zombies... "There were five minutes last week when I was angry with Russell T Davies." Davies has replied: "It's not often I get the chance to wake up a woman at 4am, so my apologies to Emily Bell. And thanks for the kind words about Doctor Who. But much as I'd like to claim the credit, the scary gas-mask children were created and written by Steven Moffat. And very brilliant they were too."

The Independent refers to a particular exchange between the Doctor and Rose in the last episode (concerning a kiss...) and examines its relevance. "After 40 years of time-travelling, Dr Who is finally to enjoy his first kiss. But what makes the meeting of the 'mucous membranes of the lips of two people' so special? Kissing is a very strange activity, so strange that in more than 40 Earth years and countless aeons in his own eccentric time zone, not one of the various Doctors Who has ever been tempted to make contact between the mucous membranes of his lips and those of his gorgeous, pouting female assistants. Until tonight, that is, when, in the last of the Christopher Eccleston/Billy Piper Doctor Who series, the doctor kisses his horny sidekick-ette, Rose Tyler. The BBC spin machine was already in full dampener mode yesterday, when it claimed that the Who/Tyler clinch was, in fact, artificial respiration administered by the Doctor. 'Their lips do touch and there is a kiss, but it is designed to rescue Rose from death,' said the series spokesman....."

In Canada, the Globe and Mail talks about the show going into reruns immediately. "Surrounded by a tremendous amount of hype when it premiered in April, the latest incarnation of the popular long-running sci-fi franchise is back for a repeat airing. 'We are very happy with the numbers we got the first time when we telecast it as a hockey replacement,' says CBC's executive director of network programming, Slawko Klymkiw. 'They show how popular Doctor Who is and we wanted to give audiences another chance to see this fabulous, innovative series.' Christopher Eccleston makes for a sexy, tongue-in-cheek version of the Time Lord and it's a pity he won't be back on board TARDIS for a second go. An announcement of his departure, made just after the series launched, left the actor vilified, but Eccleston had only signed on for one season to avoid being typecast. If you missed the show this spring, this is your chance to catch the daring new Doctor before he's reincarnated as a tamer time traveler."

Some radio show "listen again" featurettes courtesy the DWAS: the Today Programme, BBC Radio 4 6:00am-9:00am, has a discussion about how television impacts the public and whether it is educational/stimulating enough or simply turning us into couch potatoes with a reference to 'Father's Day' here (about 02:45:00 in); the Nicola Heyward Thomas show on BBC Radio Wales, 12:00-2:00pm, has a discussion on Doctor Who and how good its been, with Express critic Charlie Catchpole, local shop owner Christian Barrie, and DWAS Press Officer Antony Wainer here (about 00:34:30 in) and a phone interview with John Barrowman (about 01:47:00 in); and Good Morning Wales, BBC Radio Wales, 6:00-9:00am, has two stories, with Doctor Who topping the Cult TV polls (about 00:03:00 in) and an interview with Davies (about 02:41:00 in).

In addition to our previous note about the show on TV Times, the season finale also featured in the "Total TV Guide", with a short interview with Davies - the cover shows Eccleston and loads of Daleks, and a colour photo (of loads more Daleks) inside with the interview. In it, RTD is quoted as saying "people are more inclined to run away from weird things like purple beaches" so evidently it was recorded before he changed his mind about alien planets!

Other News Items

According to the Doctor Who Exhibitions website, the new series exhibition on Brighton Pier is now displaying new exhibits from episodes 7 to 13 as of this weekend.

Doctor Who was named "top cult series" in a poll conducted by the Cult TV website (the people who run the annual Cult TV convention in the UK) according to a report at BBC news. "Doctor Who has beaten Star Trek to the title of most popular cult TV show, in a website's poll of viewers. The BBC show knocked Star Trek from the number one spot in the vote conducted by the website Cult TV, ending Star Trek's nine-year reign at number one." Also reported at Sky News.

Other press items: the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia gives a favorable review to "World War Three"; the Sci-Fi Online site has a handy guide to the series' cliffhangers if every 45 minute episode were broken down into two parts; and the Carlisle News and Star has an inteview with Peter Tyler, the model unit director of photography on the show;

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Adam Kirk, Steve Berry, Frank Shailes, John Hatfield, Peter Weaver, Duncan Rose, David French, Martin Hearn and Andy Parish)