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12/20/2005 02:52:00 am - Reported by Shaun Lyon


December 20, 2005 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
Among the updates to the official Doctor Who website in recent days, two new games have been added: "Slitheen Surfer", in which the player helps guide Margaret Slitheen and her extrapolator through the debris of an exploded Earth; and "SuDocWho", a variation on current puzzle fad Sudoku, using pictures of the first nine Doctors instead of (or as well as) numbers to complete the grids.

Prospect magazine today calls the return of the Daleks this year as one of the "ten highlights from 2005." "It was a great year for comebacks: Hugh Laurie in House, the two Ronnies (all too briefly), Bob Dylan... Nothing, though, could match the Daleks. This is partly about nostalgia. But even new viewers respond to the strange mix of pure evil ('Exterminate!') and absurdity (creatures with silly voices who want to take over the universe but have only just learned to climb stairs and always lose). They are a sci-fi version of Hitler, which perhaps explains their popularity in the 1960s when British culture was still trying to make sense of Nazism while keeping it at a distance."

The Scottish Daily Record today listed David Tennant as #1 on its list of "100 Hottest Scots" in the men category. "The 34-year-old from Paisley is the hottest man on TV at the moment after bagging the coveted role of Doctor Who Despite appearing in pyjamas in the Christmas special of the sci-fi show, he is sure to set hearts racing with his quirky good looks and brilliant acting. He's sizzling because... more than 10 million viewers will tune in on Christmas Day to witness his debut in the Tardis. He also turned in a superb performance as a sinister stalker in ITV drama Secret Smile and did a credible singing turn in BBC1 musical drama Blackpool. Memorable moment of 2005 was when he cut a swathe through the women of Europe as Casanova in the BBC3 series of the samename - despite being the son of a Churchof Scotland minister."

The Times today says of the Radio 2 documentary, Doctor Who: Regeneration, "Was it the special effects that made the new Who so memorable, or the scripts by Russell T. Davies, or the acting of Billie Piper and, in particular, Christopher Eccleston? And now that Eccleston (above, with Piper) has gone, desperate not to be typecast, can David Tennant hope to match him? Gatiss gets the facts - well, at least some informed conjecture."

Also, a writer in today's Financial Times says that "A TV-deprived childhood has left me impervious to Doctor Who. After hearing Doctor Who: Regeneration, I feel tempted to brand the whole phenomenon as self- important claptrap. This 'celebration', BBC navel-gazing at its most complacent, rolls out Who types starting with writer Russell T. Davies, apparently challenged both adenoidally and glottally - the latter a common complaint among mediafolk such as exec prod Julie who says you know you go' a hi' when you see the viewing figures. This level of insight is continued by the BBC1 controller who notes that the Doctor has brought younger viewers to the BBC in tones that suggest he expected OAPs. Jane (head of drama, BBCTV) talks portentously of Christopher Eccleston 'kicking open the door, and the new Doctor, David Tennant, taking us somewhere we hadn't quite expected'. This is kids' TV, for heaven's sake, not a breakthrough in biological ethics."

Monday's The Sentinel has a feature article about India Fisher of Big Finish. "Gallivanting around the universe in a time machine, tackling the Daleks and imitating pop-brat Kelly Osbourne. These are some of the ways in which the daughter of a Stoke-on-Trent MP has carved out a career for herself. For while ex-Arts Minister Mark Fisher is busy representing Stoke Central as a Labour MP, his daughter, India, has got involved in something far less down-to-earth. The 31-year-old has become an international superstar in the cult programme Dr Who - the audio version. Playing the role of Charlotte Pollard, Dr Who's assistant, India has for the last six years starred in the tape and CD version of the smash-hit drama, which has just kicked off a new series on the small-screen. Much to her amazement, India has achieved superstar status among the worldwide followers of the cult series. The tapes and CDs have winged their way to obsessed fans all over the world, and she has been invited to countless international conventions. And she has also gained fame as a star of TV - acting as Welsh singing sensation Charlotte Church and Kelly Osbourne in the Dead Ringers show which stars John Culshaw. .. 'My brother Rhydian is a businessman so he's the sensible one and I guess we should have followed his lead. But we've always been quite the arty family and I've always had a passion for acting. If I hadn't given it a go, I'd never have forgiven myself - although I might have been much better off financially.' A year and a half ago, Nev Fountain, the writer of Dead Ringers, spotted India at a Dr Who convention in Los Angeles and asked her to play a part in their series. She was an immediate hit. Since then, she has done impressions of Kelly Osbourne, Charlotte Church and even Sonia and Sharon from EastEnders. India said: 'It's tough - they often give you a character they want you to do on the Friday and you have to get it ready in just 48 hours. Sometimes I wonder how on earth I'm going to do it - but it's not an opportunity I can possibly turn down. They needed someone to do the younger characters. I look a little like Kelly Osborne I guess - I've got my dad to thank for that - so I guess I was perfect for the part.' ... But if there's one thing India was, as a Stoke-on-Trent schoolgirl ever-so-slightly irritated by, it was her name. 'My brother's called Crispin, another one is called Rhydian and I'm India so it's an interesting collection of names. Whenever my name came up in the school register, the teacher always used to pause before saying it - she expected the pronunciation to be unique somehow. And the kids in the playground used to jokingly things like: 'So what's your middle name, Pakistan?' I used to wish I was just called something nice and simple like Jane. But I love it now."

An article at Ekklesia comments on the anti-war message apparently to be seen in "The Christmas Invasion". "Journalists who have previewed the episode say that a later scene also recalls ex-PM Margaret Thatcher's decision to sink the Argentine warship the General Belgrano during the Falklands/Malvinas war in 1982. Responding to pre-broadcast comments, award-winning scriptwriter Russell T Davies declared: 'It's Christmas Day, a day of peace. There is absolutely an anti-war message - because that's what I think.' Meanwhile, looking up somewhat wearily from his computer, Doctor Who commentator and fiction writer Mark Clapham told Ekklesia: 'The Doctor has usually been a character who advocates peaceful means before violent solutions. He's not a particularly dedicated pacifist though - he often finds himself having to apply violent solutions sooner or later.' Author and Who analyst Jim Smith, who co-authored the Virgin Books guide Who's Next? with Clapham and Eddie Robson, went on: 'There are many stories which are definitely anti-war. Not a particular war - just war itself. ‘The Crusade' (1965) is specifically about the futility of religious warfare and is even set in Basra. While it's adventure fiction and thus has fighting in it, the whole show is deeply suspicious of politicians, soldiers, military means, military objectives, and so on.' Doctor Who long ago cast an eye on terrorism and possible superpower reactions to it. Says Smith: 'In 1970 ‘The Ambassadors of Death' featured a xenophobic political group trying to scare the whole human race into attacking some harmless aliens.' Whether the Christmas day episode will feature Doctor Who's iconic enemies, the Daleks, remains to be seen. But if it does, the spiritual head of the world's 77 million Anglicans will be on-hand to comment."

Contact Music says that Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson claims he was offered the role of Doctor Who before David Tennant. "The 'I Predict a Riot' hitmaker believes Tennant looks too youthful for the part, and is determined to get his hands on the role. He says, 'It's the kind of thing I've got down for my autumn years. I'm worried David's too young for the part. Eddie Izzard would be perfect. The BBC offered it to me but I was so busy they got a lookalike.'" Uh, right...

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg and Steve Tribe)