While everyone's paying attention to the new spinoff sites, the folks at the official Doctor Who website have sneakily updated an old one:whoisdoctorwho.co.uk, Mickey Smith's "blog" of events, has been updated with items about the space probe Guinevere and the events of "The Christmas Invasion."
Yesterday's Independent On Sunday noted that this weekend's special, "which sees skull-headed Christopher Eccleston replaced by bug-eyed David Tennant is bound to cause a stir. Believe it or not, the vintage sci-fi series has a Christmas theme. Not just any Christmas theme, either: writer Russell T Davies has gone all social comment and anti-war about it. 'It's Christmas Day, a day of peace,' he told the BBC. 'There is absolutely an anti-war message because that's what I think.' So now you know. I'd tell you more, but no preview tapes were available and the plot was a closely guarded secret. My guess is that Doctor Who will reveal that Santa Claus has been Davros disguised in a wig all along."
On Monday, BBC1 ran one of their semi-regular Test the Nation quizzes, which the audience can take part in at home or via the programme's website. Subtitled "The 2005 Test", the "New Beginnings" section of the test had a question relating to "Doctor Who", asking who succeeded Christopher Eccleston in the role. A clip from the end of "The Parting of the Ways" showing Eccleston's last lines and the beginning of the regeneration was shown. The options were: A) Sean Bean B) Sylvester McCoy C) Alastair MacKenzie D) David Tennant.
The UK Press Association has syndicated an article about the new series to papers this week. Highlights: "Four decades on, and for only the second time in the programme's long history, the Tardis is once again materialising onto our TV screens on Christmas Day. But this time around it's all very different. Rather than an Edwardian gentleman with dodgy dentistry at the helm, the new Doctor, David Tennant, is all Carnaby Street swagger and perfect teeth. Gone too, is the whimsical seasonal run-around. Instead, The Christmas Invasion brings us an Independence Day-scale adventure of alien invasion and impending Armageddon, all wrapped up in Christmas tinsel, as trumpet-playing Santas and evil spinning fern trees wreak havoc across London. ... For fans everywhere, it'll also provide them with their first chance to properly size up the new man in the Tardis, having only enjoyed a brief sample of David's take on the role in a Children In Need special last month. One matter which has been open to conjecture ever since the 34-year-old actor won the part has been what accent he would use in the role. Born in Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland, fans wondered if he would follow the example of seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy (who played the part from 1986 to 1989 on screen) and speak in his native Scottish brogue. However, this incarnation of the time-traveller from Gallifrey has opted to adopt a 'mockney' dialect, announcing ''Appy Christmas' as he steps out of the Tardis for the first time. Sadly, the reason for the dropped h's may now be lost in the web of time. The series' lead writer and executive producer, Russell T Davies, admitted there was originally a line in the script where Mickey (played by Noel Clarke) commented that the new Doctor had somehow taken on the accent of his companion Rose (Billie Piper). But alas, due to timing reasons, it was cut. 'We've kept saying the accent issue would be resolved in the Christmas special,' laughs David, 'but now that's no longer the case.' However, a preview of the delights the show has in store next year does reveal that for at least one story, he will be allowed to lapse into his native tongue when the Tardis takes him to Scotland in Victorian times. ... Get used to it, Mr Tennant, because after Christmas, so will the rest of the world. As the Doctor says, at the climax of The Christmas Invasion, still clad in a fetching pair of pin-stripe nightwear following a post-regenerative period of bed rest, 'Not bad for a bloke in jim-jams'."
The official site has an item about Attack of the Graske, the digital interactive 'episode' going live this weekend: "From 8pm on Christmas night, Digital Satellite and Freeview viewers can truly immerse themselves in the world of Doctor Who. Attack of the Graske is a mini episode of Dr Who with a twist - it allows viewers to become the Doctor's companion. Viewers will get the chance to track down an evil alien life form by flying the TARDIS and completing a series of challenges set by the Doctor himself. The challenge will be available throughout the night and after the January 1 repeat of The Christmas Invasion on BBC Three."
The Bucks Free Press has a short article about a 13 year old, Tom Rees-Kaye, who "was given a chance to travel through space and time in his own back garden. Tom, 13, is a keen follower of the BBC TV series and even films himself with pals making their own episodes, which they copy onto DVDs. But even he was surprised when his parents took an extra step for his birthday by giving him his own full-scale Tardis. They have now placed the contraption in their back garden."
Finally, in the US, the Sci-Fi Channel will be airing "FairyTale: A True Story" on Tuesday 20 December; the film features Paul McGann (the eighth Doctor) and a very young Florence Hoath (Nancy from "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances"). The interesting thing is that both Doctor Who actors feature together on the banner on the SciFi.com homepage advertising the film.
(Thanks to Steve Tribe, Paul Engelberg, Richard Kirkpatrick, Paul Hayes, Sacha A. Dzuba, John Bowman)