Saturday, 24 December 2005

TARDIS Report: Pre-Christmas Invasion Roundup

The past three days have seen a ton of news clips and articles about "The Christmas Invasion" and Doctor Who in general. Outpost Gallifrey cuts through the hodgepodge with this late-week report from the past three days:

The Christmas Invasion

David Tennant appeared yesterday on the BBC Radio 1 "Colin and Edith Show" as well as last night's "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross". On both, Tennant discussed the cutting of the line about the Doctor's accent and noted how relieved he was that everything would finally be starting up (referring to the transmission of his episodes, at least the first one!) He also noted that the production team returns on January 3 for filming, with work being done through April and then a break before series three begins filming in July. On Ross' show, he found out about the new Tenth Doctor action figure and clips were shown (see the story above with screengrabs!)

Meanwhile, you can listen again to the Colin and Edith Show at theirwebsite; click on the "listen again" feature.

Camille Coduri and Noel Clarke also appeared on television, appearing on Friday morning's GMTV in a brief interview; at right is an image of the two appearing on GMTV (thanks to Mark Naisbitt for the image!)

The Sun wonders if "Doctor Who may pull in as many viewers for BBC1 tomorrow as the Only Fools And Horses festive shows. Bosses hope 15million will tune in. A source said: 'With Kat and Alfie's departure from EastEnders and Doctor Who, we hope to have viewers hooked to BBC1 - harking back to when Only Fools was watched by the entire nation.'"

'The Christmas Invasion' took over the BBC TV homepage on Friday. The episode was also a major part of BBC News's round-up of festive TV highlights in an article entitled "Christmas TV reflects on its past": "David Tennant's arrival as Doctor Who is key to the BBC's schedule. By far the greatest example, and the show that only soaps will exceed in the ratings, is Doctor Who, due to be screened on Christmas Day. Four decades ago to the day, Doctor Who was in its heyday with everyone in every family watching what turned out to be a rather daft Christmas special with William Hartnell as the Doctor. Now the show is back better than ever. The new Christmas special may have moments of daftness but it also has a new Doctor in David Tennant. If it is not the best show of the season, many people will still watch just to see him."

The official Doctor Who website has posted the "Fear Forecast" edition -- the reviews of the story by four children, as done during the transmission of Series One.

Last Thursday's The Times noted that "Skybet have cut EastEnders to 2-5 (from 1-2) to be the most-watched television programme on Christmas Day. Doctor Who, another runner for the BBC stable, is quoted at 2-1, with Coronation Street being friendless at 4-1, having initially been offered at 11-8. The Queen's Speech is a 100-1 chance."

Several sources including the Scotsman and UTV note that "New Dr Who David Tennant will watch his timelord debut after tucking into Christmas dinner with his parents, if he can escape his busy schedule. The actor, who has already revealed he would like to do a second series, hopes to fly to Scotland to spend the day with his parents at their home in Paisley. He will appear on screen alongside Billie Piper in the first episode of the latest BBC series at 7pm. His former church minister father said the whole family will be tuning in after their turkey, hopefully with the 10th timelord himself. The Very Reverend Sandy McDonald, 67, told the Scottish Press Association: 'We will certainly be watching it and all being well David will be with us. But he's got a very busy schedule and there's still a question mark over whether he'll make it. We are looking forward to seeing the show, all our kids have grown up watching Dr Who.' Mr McDonald, a former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said he and wife Helen will be joined by David's sister but his other son would be staying at his home south of the border."

There are several mentions of 'The Christmas Invasion' in The Guardian in the 'Guide' section today, and even a glowing write-up for the official website. As happened a couple of times during Series One, television previewer Charlie Brooker has praised the Christmas special as "the greatest Christmas episode of any programme ever". Says Brooker's column: "Tradition. That's what you associate with Christmas: tradition. And drink-driving. And despair and loneliness. And Argos. But mainly tradition. All of which is bloody fortunate, because this year's Christmas TV is more traditional than it's been for years - yet it's also somehow futuristic at the same time. Watching the box this year is going to feel like travelling simultaneously backwards and forwards in time. Thank God you'll be drunk through most of it - it'd be far too disorientating otherwise. ... Perhaps the best thing about Christmas TV is the fact that it signals a brief respite from the usual year-long arseburst of poxy bloody reality shows and poxy bloody makeover specials and poxy bloody sneering bloody awful bloody rubbish, all of which gets temporarily stifled in favour of old-fashioned traditional storytelling (OK, perhaps not always "old-fashioned": this year, ITV's key offering is Whatever Love Means (Wed, 9pm, ITV1), a dramatised retelling of the romance between Charles and Camilla - which at a push might be of interest to 10 or 12 people). ... Anyway, this new version's [of My Family and Other Animals] really rather good, in a cosy, watching-from-your-armchair kind of way, which is just what you want at Christmas. Yet it shrivels into insignificance alongside the most wildly anticipated show of the season - the Doctor Who Christmas Special, or The Christmas Invasions (tomorrow, 7pm, BBC1) to give it its proper title. "Wildly anticipated" because a) Doctor Who was the best show of 2005 by about 16 billion parsecs and b) it's our first proper chance to see David Tennant in action. Thank God, then, that this doesn't disappoint in the slightest. In fact, it's possibly the greatest Christmas episode of any programme ever. Having been set an insanely tough act to follow by Christopher Eccleston, and despite being bed-ridden and unconscious for half the episode's running time, the moment David Tennant finally springs into action, he immediately and effortlessly makes the character of the Doctor his own. If anything, he's even better than Eccleston was - which ought to be impossible. The episode - the storyline of which I won't give away - treads a fine line between "carefree romp" and "apocalyptic horror" without putting a foot wrong, contains several sequences which appear to have been designed specifically to spook out the kiddies, and also takes the opportunity to hammer home an unsubtle-but-why-the-bloody-hell-shouldn't-it-be message about the futility of war and the arrogance of power. In other words, it even manages to contain a traditional Christmas moral without being corny or rubbish. At this rate, I hope and fully expect to see Russell T Davies immortalised on our national currency within my lifetime. Anyway, there's your Yuletide telly line-up - hope it chokes you. Oh, and merry Christmas." The note about the official site: "Among the highlights is a film of Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper's finest moments set - rather dramatically - to Run by Snow Patrol, sounds you can download onto your PC or phone; Simon Pegg's excellent Doctor Who Confidential series and The Last Dalek - a game where you take the role of the dastardly droids and attempt to kill helpless humans. It's like pushing a trolley with a wonky wheel around the supermarket, except with the occasional bloodless death."

Newsquest Media this weekend notes that "Doctor Who has saved the world from Daleks, Cyberman and all manner of unpleasant creatures. But can he help the BBC to achieve its usual Christmas Day ratings high? The Beeb has placed the regenerated Time Lord - now played by David Tennant - at the centre of its schedules in a special Christmas-themed episode. Then surrounded him with a line-up of popular comedies, family films and the usual traumatic festive episode of EastEnders. Many of the other channels appear to be on autopilot - all six episodes of the third Little Britain series being shown back-to-back on BBC3; E4 has five episodes of Friends, being repeated for the umpteenth time and Sky One offers six visits to The Simpsons. ... Let's look to the future now. Even before he became the tenth Doctor Who, David Tennant was having a pretty good year with starring roles in three TV series - He Knew He Was Right, Blackpool and Casanova. But landing the role of the Time Lord in the newly-revived BBC1 series has, as industry newspaper Broadcast put it, 'propelled Tennant into the big time'. His own take on transforming himself into one of the most youthful doctors to date is simple enough: 'It's been a lifelong dream to get my own Tardis.' The people at Broadcast have such faith in the 34-year-old actor's future that they made him number one in their Hot 100 Talent list, in front of the likes of Jamie Oliver, Catherine Tate, Bill Oddie and Geordie duo Ant and Dec. To those of us who remember him making an impact a decade ago in the BBC2 drama Takin' Over The Asylum, his rise to fame is less surprising. But making the leap from legendary lover in Casanova to monster-fighting time traveller in Doctor Who is a big one, even if writer-producer Russell T Davies is the link between them both." The article takes comments from several sources that Tennant has recently made to the press about joining Doctor Who, his costume and his wanting to stay on in the role.

The ic Network of websites are carrying a story about the debut: "It's the long awaited debut of the new Dr Who, David Tennant, on Christmas Day. He's set to take on a killer Christmas tree, spooky Santas and evil aliens. But a bigger challenge for Tennant will be how he measures up to the outgoing doctor, the popular Christopher Eccleston. As he becomes the 10th Time Lord, David says: 'It's very easy to feel the weight of history pressing down. Getting over that and getting on with it is part of the trick of the whole gig, really. ... As an actor, you get to work on a blank canvas."

There's a brief mention of "Christmas Invasion" at GCN ("The Christmas Day highlight everyone should see is Doctor Who at 7pm on BBC 1. The pressure is on for David Tennent to be a standing successor to Christopher Eccleston and The Christmas Invasion should help to prove that while whetting the appetite for Season 2")

Yesterday's Daily Star featured some photographs as Russell T Davies described a sword fight between the Doctor and the leader of evil alien race the Sycorax as "the sci-fi show's most exciting fight scene ever. ... There's a real shocker for fans when the Doctor apparently suffers an horrific injury during the gripping battle - as writers pay tribute to the Star Wars films."

The South Wales Echo said that "Timelord fans are being invited to see behind the scenes of the Doctor Who series, including a glimpse inside his famous Tardis. At an exclusive preview yesterday, a small group of fans viewed the props and scenery at the exhibition. Adam Jenkins, nine, of Canton, Cardiff, who won a place at the event by entering a competition in the Echo, said: 'It's good. You recognise everything from the television and it is really cool.' Jessey Sanders, nine, of Llanrumney, Cardiff, who was with brother Zarren, 10, said: 'I liked the Daleks the best.' Zara May, 10, of Tremorfa, Cardiff, said: 'Rose is my favourite. She is very brave.'"

The Forester pointed out that "Clearwell Caves will feature in the Doctor Who Christmas Day special."

Broadcasting

From our friends at 'This Week in Doctor Who': "Add Israel to the countries where the new Doctor Who will be shown. The satellite channel "Yes Weekend" has reportedly bought the Christopher Eccleston episodes, which will air Fridays starting 20 January 2006. Exact time, number of episodes per week, and number of broadcasts of each episode are not yet known."

Exhibition Coverage

The new exhibition, Doctor Who Up Close, had its press launch on 21 December and opened to the public on 22 December at the Red Dragon Centre in Cardiff. It runs until 26 February, from 11am to 8pm each day, and admission is free. BBC News ("Doctor Who show opens in Cardiff") reported on the opening, noting that the show will include "elements of the Christmas special - including some of the new props and costumes after the show has aired on Christmas Day". The South Wales Echo ("Doctor Who fans in for a treat") concentrated on the small number of fans invited to the launch, particularly children ("I liked the Daleks best"). The opening is also reported in the Western Mail("Exhibition looks behind the scenes of Dr Who"). Rodney Berman, leader of Cardiff Council, told BBC News, "It is particularly fitting that this experience is being launched as Cardiff marks its golden jubilee as the capital of Wales. This is yet another reason for the city to celebrate by providing a first class destination for everyone to visit. As a big fan of Doctor Who myself, particularly the new version made right here in Cardiff, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to visit the new exhibition. It will be an exciting insight into the behind the scenes goings on of the series over the years."

On Wales

The Western Mail today noted that "The stunning success of Doctor Who means the series has become part of the tourist campaign for Wales. As well as being one of BBC Wales' biggest success stories and helping rejuvenate Saturday night television, Doctor Who has done far more than introduce a whole new generation of fans to the Time Lord. With many of the scenes filmed on location in Wales, the programme is giving the country a wealth of positive publicity. The first series, penned by Welsh writer Russell T Davies, was screened earlier this year. It attracted around 10m viewers an episode, which means a huge audience was introduced to Wales through the show. Tomorrow's Christmas special, in which David Tennant makes his debut as the new Doctor, is expected to be one of the biggest Christmas Day TV ratings-pullers. Among several Welsh locations viewers will see is Cardiff city centre. Billie Piper, who plays the Doctor's assistant Rose Tyler, is filmed running through the streets. And in the new series, to be broadcast next year, among the locations which will be beamed onto TV screens throughout the country are Newport's Tredegar House, Gower, and Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. Bosses at Wales Tourist Board are delighted with the exposure the award-winning programme gives the country. They believe it can help attract additional visitors to the area as well as give those living in Wales a boost when they see familiar locations beamed onto their TV screens. And, perhaps even more importantly, filming in Wales gives the economy a boost. 'Having a highly popular TV series like Doctor Who shot on locations in Cardiff and other parts of South Wales helps viewers in Wales feel that they live in a modern and attractive part of the UK,' said a spokesman for the Wales Tourist Board. 'In addition, given that nine out of 10 visitors to Wales come from elsewhere in the UK, scenes of Cardiff and the surrounding area shown on Doctor Who could attract visitors and help Wales maintain its share of the tourism market. As far as the economy is concerned, when films and TV programmes are shot on location, the cast and crews spend money on local hotels and restaurants, giving the local economy a boost.'"

The Western Mail also notes that Wales' Talygarn Manor "is one of the Welsh venues where filming for Doctor Who has taken place. The former rehabilitation centre in the Vale of Glamorgan dates back to the 14th century and is a Grade II listed mansion. Its impressive hallways and library were used in the programme. And although David Tennant and Billie Piper were not a part of the shoot, Roger Lloyd-Pack, the actor famous for playing Trigger in the BBC's Only Fools And Horses, was involved. The building is currently being converted into a range of luxury homes, although some new residents have already moved in. Laura Marles, sales manager at Talygarn Manor, said the cast and crew spent a day at the venue. 'It was absolutely fantastic having them here,' she said. 'It gave us a little bit of an insight into how they make the show. Everyone I have spoken to thinks it's wonderful Doctor Who has been filming on location in Wales - I think it definitely raises our profile.'"

Year In Review

The MediaGuardian website has posted a review of the year in television, the radio and press. In the television review, written by their broadcasting editor Jason Deans, "Doctor Who" is listed as one of 2005's TV Treats. Deans writes: "Doctor Who - BBC1: Already much feted, and rightly so, for singlehandedly reviving the venerable tradition of early Saturday evening family drama. And getting a dalek up a flight of stairs." On the other hand, down in the "TV Turkeys of 2005" section of the same article, "Celebrity Wrestling" comes in for yet more flack: "Celebrity Wrestling - ITV1: ITV was hoping it would become the big daddy of Saturday nights. But viewers grappled with the concept of watching the likes of James Hewitt and Annabel Croft being pinned to the floor. It was moved out of prime time and came to represent the nadir of ITV's cruel, cruel summer."

Merchandise

Friday's Western Mail noted that "Christmas sales of Doctor Who merchandise have been 'in a different league' to rival TV and film spin-offs this year, toy retailers said yesterday. The popularity of the toys and figures from the hit BBC series, which is filmed in Wales, has comfortably outstripped that of merchandise from blockbuster films like Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Batman Begins. Chris Davies, at The Entertainer toy chain's Cardiff shop, said radio control Daleks had easily been its most popular items in the run-up to Christmas. ... Ben Keywood, of mail order firm Galaxy 4, which specialises in merchandise from the cult series, said manufacturers had been taken by surprise by the popularity of the spin-off products. 'It's been very difficult to meet the demand,' he said. 'The problem has been that nobody really anticipated that it would be quite so popular, and so the companies who were licensed to produce it didn't make enough. 'It's only been in the last couple of days that we've had enough radio-controlled Daleks on our hands to fulfil all the pre-orders we've had, and so it wasn't until then that we could post them out for Christmas.' Mr Keywood said the visual appeal of the Dalek made it irresistible to fans of the show. 'Obviously it's to do with the fact that the Dalek is so iconic and if you see one in the shops, you will just buy it because it looks so good and it's quite quirky. 'I think you can't resist buying it when you see one, so when they have appeared, people have just snapped them off the shelves.'"

Milestones

The Scotsman and other sources have printed an article about the history of Doctor Who being continued to this day. "On Christmas Day, 1965, the Doctor took time out from an epic battle with the Daleks to partake in an odd 25-minute run-around which saw him in a silent film-style encounter with the likes of Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Kops. As if that wasn't bizarre enough, at the end of the episode the Timelord - then in his first incarnation, played by William Hartnell - caused many a viewer to choke on their turkey by suddenly turning straight to camera and addressing the TV audience across the land. 'Incidentally,' he chuckled, 'a happy Christmas to all of you at home!'. 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. For fans everywhere, it'll provide them the 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. Despite being a life-long fan of the programme, he is determined to make the character - now in its 10th incarnation - his own. 'I haven't drawn on any of the earlier Doctors' portrayal, not particularly consciously. I am aware there's always the danger of playing it too quirkily.' He's obviously still smitten with the role. 'It is like no other job in the world, you are sword-fighting one day, swinging off ledges on another. It never fails to surprise and delight. We literally have about one 'wow!' moment a week,' he smiles. 'Standing in the arena of the Sycorax spaceship was quite an early one.' Eclipsing even that thrill is one we won't get to see on our screens until next year, when the Doctor comes face-to-face with former companion Sarah Jane Smith, who accompanied both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker on their time travels in the 1970s. Still played by Elisabeth Sladen, David admits it was a great thrill to work with one of his childhood heroes. 'She was calling me Doctor, which seemed really weird,' he laughs. 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'."

People

The Sun says today that "Billie Piper is NOT about to leave the Timelord’s side -- says the new Doctor Who. Billie, 23, who is currently filming her second series as sidekick Rose Tyler, was said to be considering quitting. But new Doctor David Tennant said: 'Billie is hanging around. Despite what you may have read.' But Billie has nabbed another job. She will be the first guest host on the new series of Channel 4 show The Friday Night Project. It returns on January 6."

The Sun notes that "gay Doctor Who star John Barrowman is to do an Elton John -and wed his boyfriend. John -bisexual Captain Jack in the BBC1 show -wants to formalise his relationship with architect Scott Gill after ten years. But unlike Sir Elton and David Furnish, they won't be having a lavish showbiz bash. The 37-year-old actor said: 'We're just going to sign the civil register. We're not going to have any ceremony because I'm not a supporter of the word marriage for a gay partnership.' The pair live in London's Chelsea and signing the register gives them the same rights as other married couples. They are even talking about having a baby together. John -currently rehearsing for ITV1 show Dancing On Ice -said: "The daughter of a very, very old friend offered to carry a child for us. I've known her since she was five or six. She has kids of her own but said that if we wanted a child she'd be happy to do it.'" Also reported at Contact Music,Sun SentinelPink NewsGood As You.

The Times says that "If David Tennant has a motif, it is his lightness of touch, even when playing dark roles. As he recognises, his appeal lies in words and wit, and certainly not in conventional leading-man looks. Though if he lacks bulk he certainly ripples with energy, and that will never be more apt than when he becomes the tenth Doctor Who on Christmas Day. Two predecessors, Tom Baker and Peter Davison, have sent him good-luck cards, which he will appreciate because it was Doctor Who, which he watched from the age of 3, that made him want to act. The third child of a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, he grew up in a manse in Bathgate, though his family was by no means morally censorious, as the tabloids like to imply, and he is no small-nation Scot. Academic work didn’t interest him much; he was talent-spotted by Scottish TV at a Saturday youth-theatre group and at 17 he became the youngest student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. By this time, at the request of Equity, he had changed his name from McDonald to Tennant — chosen because he had just seen a reference to the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant and thought his name would do. His first job was touring in a minibus with the socialist theatre group 7:84 and, encouraged by his friend Arabella Weir, he headed south in 1993, lodged with her for five years, and rapidly registered on the English arts radar. He may have been acclaimed for his detective in last year’s TV series Blackpool, and for his deliciously cheeky Casanova this year, but he still regards his greatest triumph as playing the leads in three rotating RSC productions in 2001. Interviewers have so far done little to penetrate his boyish exterior, partly because underneath it is a serious soul, and partly because however much celebrity culture would like to grasp the new Doctor Who to its lovely bosom, the new Doctor Who recognises its vacuous and destructive game for what it is and has no intention of engaging. At 34 he has the distinction of being a character actor who has no time to rest, and who artfully presents an air of slight bewilderment at the consistency of parts that he bags and his growing reputation. He may keep a photograph of himself and “the glorious” Peter O’Toole (who played the older Casanova) on his fridge, but in truth he is no ingenue. Rather he is a damned good actor, whose fine work comes from the right blend of talent and unswerving determination. Enjoy."

The Salford Advertiser noted that "Christopher Eccleston forged an emotional link with the tsunami victims of Indonesia because they reminded him of the people of his home town of Salford. The former Dr Who star has just returned from a Red Cross fact-finding tour of Banda Aceh, one of the worst-hit areas of the 2004 Boxing Day disaster. He said: 'I didn't know these people before I visited the area, but found they remind me of the people of Salford, people of my parents' generation. They were polite, welcoming, but streetwise people and meeting them has been a life-changing experience. It certainly makes me look at my own life with a bit more optimism.' The 41-year-old has been reliving his trip this week in a bid to keep up the momentum of public support. Like many, he said he made a contribution to the relief fund and then forgot about it. But visiting one of the countries where the money is being put to use had made him understand a lot more, he claimed. 'When you go out there you realise that the disaster was of truly Biblical proportions and you cannot help but be impressed by the courage and optimism of people in the face of unimaginable grief. It certainly puts the trivial little things in my own life into perspective. I was really impressed by the way in which those who have suffered are saying how and where the money is being spent – it is not being imposed upon them. The Red Cross workers out there are local and they can liaise with the villagers about what they need, whether it's help in starting up in business again or the type of house they want. The money is being well spent but a lot more needs to be done. Some of my friends have asked 'Why go back a year on, what's the significance?'. All I can say is twelve months is no time at all, families are still living in shelters or crowded into one room but getting on with their lives without self-pity and with bravery, courage and defiance.' Christopher also travelled to Pulo Aceh, a group of islands just off Banda Aceh, to witness the start of reconstruction of hundreds of homes that were lost."

Friday's Daily Star noted that "Saucy Billie Piper loves the snogging scenes in her telly shows - so she can play tonsil tennis for real with her hunky co-stars. 'I like it when it's genuine - tongues and all,' she admits. The 22-year-old actress refuses to 'fake it' if she has to lock lips on shows such as Doctor Who. So naughty Billie slips her tongue in and urges other actors to do the same with her to make it look like a proper smacker. 'The secret is to make it real, ' says Billie, who also starred in Canterbury Tales and Much Ado About Nothing. 'I hate all that half-kissing business - you know, when the top lip's above the other lip and it all fits very neatly. That kind of bores me.'"

The Evening Times notes that Tennant will be staying in the role, as doesDigital Spy, while TV Squad continues its "countdown">.

Christopher Eccleston's participation in the play "School of Night" is mentioned in Playbill.

Miscellaneous

Friday's Lichfield Mercury noted that "A Chorley schoolboy became the envy of his pals when he got a sneak preview of one of this year's sure-fire Christmas TV hits. Calum Klek, aged 12, won a competition with the BBC's Newsround which not only got him into the press preview screening for the December 25 edition of Doctor Who, but the chance to interview the stars as well. They included the 10th Doctor, David Tennant and Noel Clarke, who plays Mickey. Calum's exclusive report appeared on Newsround last week. 'I asked David loads of questions, like which monsters in Doctor Who he thinks are the scariest and what point in time he would go to in his Tardis, which stumped him a bit,' said Calum, a pupil at Friary School in Lichfield. 'Meeting the new Doctor was the best bit as he was really nice to talk to. Noel Clarke and Camille Coduri - Jackie Tyler - also gave me interviews and they were great, telling me their favourite monsters in the series. Everyone seemed really nice and they were all excited about the new series, and from the clips I saw I can see why!'"

Today's The Times talks about fan fiction websites, including mentioning Doctor Who several times. "Fanfic is a phenomenon of mind-boggling magnitude. On the fanfic.net website alone there are more than 200,000 Harry Potter stories and nearly 40,000 Lord of the Rings stories. Fiction Alley ( www.fictionalley.org ) has more than 70,000 registered users and more than a million posts. The fact that fanfic derives from existing works raises questions of copyright. Some authors, such as Anne Rice, author of the Vampire series, have said that they do not want their creations to be the subject of amateur fiction. Such wishes tend to be respected by most websites. Rice has taken legal action against those who persist. ... Again, Doctor Who has been particularly successful. A string of novels was published by Virgin under the BBC Books imprint between 1991 and 1997. Doctor Who has also inspired spin-off science books, including Michael White's A Teaspoon and an Open Mind: The Science of Dr Who (the same name as the fanfic website) that asks such questions as: How do you build a Tardis? Can a robot dog catch a cold? The only problem is that the Doctor is rather incidental. It is a book about science in which Doctor Who is invoked solely to boost sales."

(Thanks to Steve Tribe, Paul Engelberg, Paul Hayes, John Bowman, Faiz Rehman, Peter Weaver, John McAteer, Peter Anghelides, Mike Ramsay, Mark Naisbitt, Harald Gehlen)