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10/24/2005 01:39:00 am - Reported by Shaun Lyon


October 24, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
Doctor Who related items in the press from the past week:

SFX Magazine has a feature interview online with Russell T Davies from their next issue. Davies notes that this year has "a whole different feel, with David now at the centre of things - a different energy, a different Doctor, which makes it a different show. But at the same time, it's still good old Doctor Who." Davies notes that he thinks that part of last year's success was "that we didn't fiddle with the basic format too much. They got it right in 1963!" Using K9, he says, left everyone in awe, "but really, K-9 didn't stand a chance, because [Elisabeth Sladen] stole everyone's reactions... I thought Stephen Fry was going to faint. ... And it was the same, walking on set, seeing her with David and Billie. And it's hell of a ride, cos one minute you're remembering the past, but as soon as Toby Whithouse's blistering dialogue rips out, then you know immediately that this isn't nostalgia, it's a great, new story to tell about the Doctor's life. Then you add Anthony Head, who's just brilliant. Then the new Krillitanes! It's a hell of a mix; I'm very excited by that episode." Davies characterises this season as "not presuming anything, we're just battling to make it as good as it can be. And there is a temptation for sci-fi shows, more than any other, to get very wrapped up in mythology and back-story, and I'm guarding against that. ... We're bringing back some old elements, like Lady Cassandra, partly to shore up the show and ease the changeover of Doctor. At the same time, there's only a fleeting mention of her escapades on Platform One, so brand new viewers can start from scratch. But actually, the most powerful reason for bringing Cassandra back is that I thought she was the most amazing piece of CGI, voiced by one of the UK's best actors and, crucially, I thought of a brand new story for her. That's the clincher, that's all that matters, the story." He doesn't specify anything on Tennant's accent, and briefly mentions the Sad Tony petition (see separate story). Finally, for the third series, he notes that he's got "one or two... not threads as such... just a couple of hints and mentions which might pay off in 2007. Or not, if I change my mind. But again, nothing crippling or binding, we're keeping the mythology and continuity light. Which fits the Doctor, a man who flits from place to place without ever stopping. It's hard to tie him down with a continuous story, and that's one of the elements I love about the show. But a lot of plans are in place for series three. I was just talking to Julie Gardner this morning, and we realised that we've probably got about ten of next year's episodes nailed down already. Including that episode in Nobby's Circus Tent with the talking gay elephants. I think we'll transmit that live." Read the full interview at the SFX website.

According to an article at BBC News, "The Long Game" guest starSimon Pegg is to feature in "Mission Impossible 3" in a sizeable role.

The BBC have officially confirmed the commissioning of the rumoured new Robin Hood series, a 13-episode stablemate of Doctor Who to run in the Saturday evening family drama slot sometime during 2006 when the Time Lord is off-air. The BBC News website coverage of the story is illustrated with a picture of TV's first ever Robin Hood from 1953, Patrick Troughton.

The Daily Star last Friday cried, "See David Tennant dressed as a woman!", the thrust behind the page three lead flagging an airing of the BBC comedy series Rab C Nesbitt ("Touch") which will air on UK terrestrial channel Five's "Greatest Before They Were Stars TV Moments" this Thursday 27 October at 8pm, in which Tennant's "frockingly embarrassing" appearance will air. (It's unclear from the piece whether it will be a clip or stills.) Tennant's TV debut was in 1993 as barmaid Davina in an episode of the series, and that in that role he bore a striking similarity to David Walliams as rubbish transvestite Emily "I'm a laydee" Howard in the BBC's comedy hit-of-the-moment Little Britain. According to a C5 source: "Everyone has skeletons in their cupboards but some rattle louder than others. This programme is there to find them and this one should certainly haunt David. I rather think that he was hoping the pictures would never resurface. Goodness knows what the Daleks would make of it - maybe he could avoid being exterminated by hitting them with his handbag."

The Mirror reported this week that "Dr Who star David Tennant has split from his actress girlfriend who he has been dating since May. David, 34, and 22-year-old Keira Malik enjoyed a low-key romance and shared a tent at Glastonbury over the summer. But friends say they have called time on their relationship, blaming conflicting work schedules. A source said: 'Keira and David were a great couple and very close. They're both down to earth and neither is very interested in the showbusiness scene. But work commitments were keeping them apart for longer and longer periods of time. It's very sad things didn't work out. In the end, though, they both agreed that it was better if they just split.'"

The South Wales Evening Post has a feature on Edward Thomas, the new series' production designer. Among the highlights: "You probably won't recognise his face, you may not know his name but over the last few months, his work has been seen by millions. ... He is responsible for everything from the revamped Tardis and Daleks to overseeing the design of new monsters like the Slitheen and even Christopher Eccleston's sexy black leather look. Edward, who grew up in Neath and now lives in Gower, is part of the dream team who brought Doctor Who to our screens. ... 'I heard that BBC Wales was doing Doctor Who so I rang up to say that I was around. I asked if I could call in and see them which I did. I met Russell and we clicked straight away - two Swansea boys... I was lucky enough to get the job. I knew it was going to be enormous, but I don't think anything could have prepared me for the immense success. ... 'Initially the biggest challenge was to get the Tardis done both on the inside and the outside. I was racking my brain - because it's not a space ship, it's a time machine - it's of Gallifrey, which is the Doctor's planet. We had to really establish the architecture of the world that the Doctor would have come from. In the same way that the way our cars look today is a result of the architecture we are surrounded by, so the Doctor's 'car' had to be a part of the planet he had come from even though we have never seen his planet. It evolved - it is 700 years old and we came up with the concept that it was an organic thing and it was constantly growing. And that's why it has changed into the cathedral-like shape that we have today. I wanted the console to be made up of hundreds of bits - anything that the Doctor might have seen and thought 'that might make a good defabricator' and just picked it up and stuck it on. So it is a bit of a mish-mash and amalgam of all sorts of technology. ... When we were designing the Daleks I knew there were restrictions because of Terry Nation ... At one point they weren't coming back, and then they were coming back, then they weren't, we'd start designing it and we'd stop designing it and then start again. ... We made a few changes. We made them taller, more chunky. It was bigger scale, really. We pumped them up and made them much more beefy. ... When you bring a major production like Doctor Who to Wales, there are huge requirements technically like animatronics, for example, or prosthetics. And what I find with the crew in Wales is that, even though there is a level of crew here who work for BBC Wales and S4C, you are left with a void and you have to bring people down from London and I don't want to do that. ... I'm not a great fan of the rubber monsters. I like the monsters that are part of the period so I loved the Gelth (from the episode set in the Victorian era). They were part of the period and they were really fitting. I loved the gas mask children. You've got to love the Daleks just because they are the Daleks. I read somewhere that they were one of the top three design icons in Britain.'" He notes that at the moment he "can't think much beyond Doctor Who. There is a third series and another Christmas special but whether I'll be involved in that I'm not sure yet. Hopefully there will be other stuff in the offing for BBC Wales but I see my career path in feature films and I've had a few offers to do films which I've had to turn down. I think I can only do that for a certain amount of time before I have to accept something. So I probably will have to spread my wings a little at some point but right now Doctor Who is my life and that is where I'm focusing everything and then we'll see."

In the latest issue of Australia's "TV Week" magazine is a feature on the top ten villains on television; the Daleks come in on the list at #5. Says our correspondent, "The accompanying note begins with the usual myth about them being foiled by stairs until the new series but when faced with the Doctor they proved to be the most evil villains of all time."

In last week's free Metro newspaper: "Doctor Who has a lot to answer for - a third of Britons believe time travel is possible because of the BBC programme. It is just one example of how science fiction has helped people believe some concepts are science fact. Another 26 per cent think black holes could one day form the gateway to another universe. And a fifth believe Star Trek-style teleportation might become a reality. ... The survey was carried out by TV channel UKTV Gold." The story has also been mentioned at the Daily RecordThe Sun and DeHavilland.

Last week's Daily Record noted that Billie Piper "travels back in time for her glamorous new look. In her latest TV role, the 23-year-old dresses as movie icon Marilyn Monroe. And the effect couldn't be further away from Billie's normal tomboy look of scruffy jeans and a pony-tail. The actress and former pop princess posed as tragic star Marilyn in publicity shots for her new BBC drama, Much Ado About Nothing. In the programme - which is part of a Shakespeare Retold series - Billie plays weathergirl Hero. She causes a storm when she dresses up as Monroe for a fancy dress party." Hello Magazine also notes that "Having already won the praise of critics for her roles in The Canterbury Tales and Doctor Who, former pop star Billie Piper is now trying her hand at Shakespeare. ... The forthcoming flick, which is due to hit UK television screens next month, is just one of several Shakespeare plays that are getting a contemporary revamp courtesy of the Beeb." The BBC has put out two press releases, here and here, about the production. TheGuardianalso mentioned it.

Marking the transmission of Family Guy on BBC2 on 22 October, the Guide section of the Guardian looked at fan attempts to save axed TV shows. Inevitably, the article eventually reaches the Doctor in Distress: "Yet it's not just the fans who've protested. Sometimes, it's the crew. Former Take That producer Ian Levine was asked by Dr Who insiders to create a protest record after internal wrangles left it on the verge of the cancellation back in 1985. The result - Who Cares?, featuring the then lead actors Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant and several Bucks Fizz members - was not, however, an overwhelming success. Or, as Levine puts it: 'It was an absolute balls-up fiasco. It was pathetic and bad and stupid. It tried to tell the Dr Who history in an awful high-energy song. It almost ruined me.'"

BBC News mentions the new Nicholas Courtney autobiography "Still Getting Away With It," along with notes about co-writer Michael McManus. 'Tony Blair is often derided as an "actor-politician" (or praised for his presentational skills). McManus recalls his first meeting [with Courtney]. Their discussion of the prime minister prompted Courtney to announce: "I do wish these people would leave the acting to the professionals!"'

The British Computer Society London website notes that David Throssell from The Mill will be giving a lecture on CGI on 27 October, including "how some of the recent developments in software have enabled the creative advances, and the challenges in producing and supporting the software and infrastructures that make it all possible."

In 21 October's "Kent and Sussex Courier": "The Creator of a life-size Dalek could see his plans for Children In Need in Tunbridge Wells exterminated by terrestrial bureaucracy. Inventor, Ashley Haffenden, 41, of Rusthall, operates his model of Dr Who's arch enemy and mutant from planet Skaro by climbing inside. The father-of-two wanted to hold a 15-minute battle with characters from his favourite BBC series along with others from Star Trek and Star Wars on November 18. ... But his plans soon faltered when he learned from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council he would need public liability insurance. Speaking from his home surrounded by models and his art-work, Mr Haffenden said on Tuesday: 'I have always been into Dr Who. My sister and I were two of those children who hid behind the sofa. To me the daleks are iconic. I built mine from scraps salvaged from skips and neighbours. I just wanted to hold it outside the BBC studios in the town and make something fun for the kids. Bureaucratic red tape winds me up. I said I wasn't going to blow anything up.' Mr Haffenden said West Kent Police in Tonbridge told him they would 'look into' his invitation for officers to appear in his show, and he said he would go ahead if he could. 'It's a sad state of affairs when red tape gets in the way of raising money for charity,' Mr Haffenden said."

United Press International notes that some of the biggest names in London theater are assembling Sunday to celebrate the 75th birthday of Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim. "Sondheim, who maintains homes in the United States and Britian, will be feted by Barbara Cook, Daniel Evans, Eartha Kitt, Rosemary Ashe and John Barrowman, to name just a few."

Finally... the Outpost Gallifrey site has been mentioned in theGuardian this week as one of their top websites. "Doctor Who returns with a Christmas special and another series in 2006 starring the 10th timelord, David Tennant, taking over the job of destroying evil cat people and farting aliens (someone's got to do it). In the meantime, there's plenty of news on this site to intrigue fans, including plotlines for most of the forthcoming shows. Stephen Fry and Mark Gatiss are both writing episodes, but the most exciting leak is the return of pathetic robot dog K9, Doctor Who's answer to Scrappy Doo. Elsewhere on the site there's a selection of articles with unappealing titles like "Faction Paradox: A Primer"; location shots of the Piper in action (well, looking grumpy); episode guides and reviews." The site was also listed this month on the gay-oriented Cybersocket website, as part of a list of "50 Geek Websites: Bookmarks for the new cool".

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Matt Dale, Chuck Foster, Paul Hayes, John Bowman, Paul Blakemore, Matthew See, Roger Anderson, Karen Davison, Peter Weaver, David James, Jason Tucker)