Former Doctor Who script editor and "Hitchhiker's Guide" author Douglas Adams, who passed away in 2001, was honored last week with a celestial commemoration: the naming of an asteroid for him. Asteroid "Douglasadams" was among the 71 newly named celestial objects announced Tuesday by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, according to a report on MSNBC. Read the full article for the details, including how this particular asteroid was settled upon for the honor.
Further to our story last week that Character Options has become the new Doctor Who series toy licencee, BBC News Online have run a news story today in which they discuss the new products, including a radio-controlled Dalek, an electronic sonic screwdriver as well as vehicles from the new series. The Times Online have also run a similar story. Read the news items for details (though there really aren't any new items of note that weren't in the press release first posted on OG last week!) (Thanks to Steve Tribe, Paul Engelberg)
Big Finish has released details for series two of their Gallifrey audio series, which runs from April to August 2005. The cover blurbs and cover illustrations are below, although a few items of note: originally "Masques," the first episode is now called "Lies"; and the numbering actually notes these as chapters five through nine.
GALLIFREY: CHAPTERS 5-9
Series cast: Lalla Ward (President Romana), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9), Lynda Bellingham (Inquisitor Darkel), Miles Richardson (Cardinal Braxiatel), Sean Carlsen (Coordinator Narvin), Ian Hallard (Castellan Wynter), Andy Coleman (Andred), Nicholas Briggs (Gold Usher), Trevor Littledale (The Archivist), Brenda Longman (Pandora), Michael Cuckson (Commander Hallan), Robin Sebastian (Commentator Antimon), Steven Wickham (Chancellor Valyes), Daniel Hogarth (Nekkistani Ambassador), Heather Tracy (Melyin), Stuart Piper (Student Neeloc), Gary Bakewell (Student Taylor), Jenny Livsey (Student Galadina), Lucy Beresford (Student Gillestes), and Mary Tamm (Romana). Directed by Gary Russell.
LIES (Chapter 5), by Gary Russell
Some time has passed since the events of the Timonic Fusion Device threatened Romana's presidency with impeachment, and life has calmed down on Gallifrey. Well, apart from Romana's latest scheme, the opening up of Gallifrey's famed Academy to the students of alien races with the ability, or the potential, to harness temporal powers.
Unfortunately, deep below the Capitol, Leela, confused and morose over the truth about her husband Andred, disturbs a malevolent power. Something from the Dark Days of Ancient Gallifrey.
Something that wants to be reborn and will use any and every means that is at hand. Including the past of Gallifrey's incumbant Presidentà
SPIRIT (Chapter 6), by Stephen Cole
Leela is tired. Tired of the backbiting politics and intrigues in the sterile society of Time Lords. With the fate of her husband now known, she feels lonely and out of place on Gallifrey.
Romana is tired. Tired of justifying herself and her policies to a hostile council. With the line between allies and enemies beginning to blur, she persuades Leela to go with her to the presidential retreat of Davidia, a protected paradise.
Then an anomalous time ship arrives, carrying a single passenger. His hands are crushed, his tongue torn out, his mind destroyed. Is this broken man a victim of some terrible crime or part of a trap now primed and ready to spring? After this strange encounter, Romana and Leela may never be the same again.
PANDORA (Chapter 7), by Justin Richards
A rogue TARDIS that should not exist... A mutilated, comatose Time Lord who cannot be identified... A new Castellan desperate to make his mark... Evils of the past, events of the present, and echoes of the future conspire to destroy the very heart of Gallifrey's civilisation.
Only Romana can understand it - but she is haunted by her own ghosts. Only Leela can sense it - but she has unfinished business. Only Braxiatel can stop it - but he cannot begin to guess the personal cost.
With both Narvin and Darkel waiting for Romana to make a mistake, the President must take decisions that will change Gallifrey forever. And an ancient evil is ready and waiting for just that moment?
INSURGENCY (Chapter 8), by Steve Lyons
They are the brightest minds of their generation; the architects of tomorrow. And now, they have the chance to attend the finest, most exclusive school known to the temporal powers. After millennia of secrecy, the Gallifreyan Academy has opened its doors to off-worldersà
But the experiment is failing. As interracial violence erupts in the corridors of learning, somebody is using the students as pawns in a political power game - and, while Tutor Leela struggles to unravel the motives of her ex-husband, Andred, President Romana may be falling under an ancient spell.
It's a dangerous time to be a stranger on Gallifrey.
It seems that not all Time Lords want to share their secretsà
IMPERIATRIX (Chapter 9), by Stewart Sheargold
The Free Time influence in the Capital is spreading, while Darkel has played her hand and opposition to Romana's policies from without and within is growing. When the bombs start going off, the President of Gallifrey decides enough is enough.
While Leela and K9 race to track down the terrorist to avoid more bloodshed, Romana enters into a risky bargain for control with a dangerous, influential figure from her past. But she soon discovers that the answer to her problems lies in the future. A future she has already witnessed. And one she has been trying to avoid.
But someone desperately wants this future and will stop at nothing to make it occur.
Even if it means leading Romana and Gallifrey to war.
Christopher Eccleston was present along with actor Stephen Fry ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy") and holocaust survivor Paul Oppenheimer to lead the memorial services on Holocaust Memorial Day in London on January 27, commemmorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz labor camp, according to reports in The Sun, on the icNews network (link), The Scotsman, Channel 4's website and other locations.
Issue #353 of Doctor Who Magazine is due out this week; click on the thumbnail at right for a larger version of the cover. Meanwhile, here's the press release for the latest issue (with thanks to Tom Spilsbury, Assistant Editor):
"Ease the agony of waiting for the new series with another feature-packed 68-page issue of Doctor Who Magazine! This issue, Unquiet Dead writer Mark Gatiss talks about the challenges of bringing the Doctor back to television...
'My Doctor Who episode is the most serious thing I?ve done since my first Doctor Who novel, Nightshade. At second draft stage my episode changed a lot, and the reason was that the first draft was far too grim. I can still hear myself saying to Russell [T Davies, executive producer], 'This story?s about grief!' Of course it can be about grief or whatever, somewhere in there, but fundamentally it?s got to be a good, scary, story.'
Meanwhile, we speak to Fifth Doctor companion, alias actress Janet Fielding, who tells us exactly what she really thought about playing Tegan. Former script editor Andrew Cartmel presents the fascinating second part of his article about the making of Remembrance of the Daleks, while we take a look behind-the-scenes of the 1965 movie Dr Who and the Daleks in our Archive Extra feature.
Plus - it's the end of an era as the Eighth Doctor makes his final stand in the shocking final part of our comic strip adventure The Flood. It's one you don't want to miss...
Plus we have all the latest news and cast updates from the set of Doctor Who in Gallifrey Guardian, The Time Team encounter The Deadly Assassin, and there's a grave warning from Russell T Davies in his unmissable Production Notes column.
DWM 353 goes on sale at all good newsagents from Thursday 3 February priced ú3.99."
Today's issue of The Sun features an article concerning Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and the Daleks, including a photograph of an exploded Dalek, a strange flesh-colored alien, and the usual comments about how the Daleks are back because of the newspaper's "campaign" to bring them back (which is incorrect.) Click on the link to check out the photographs. Meanwhile, the print edition of the Sun on January 29 ran a large article and accompanying photo of Billie hugging the blue alien we showed you in a photo late last summer while the actor was on break. (Thanks to everyone who wrote in to let us know!)
BBC Books has decided to change its submissions policy for new Doctor Who novels, according to a statement on the official Doctor Who site. "With Doctor Who set to return to our television screens, bigger and better than ever before, the interest in Doctor Who fiction - from readers and from prospective writers - is already increasing enormously," says the statement. "At the same time, we are waiting to evaluate the impact of the new series on our continuing lines of Doctor Who books. That means that at the moment - without the help of a real TARDIS - we do not yet know what our requirements for Doctor Who novels will be for 2006 and beyond. With this in mind, it simply isn't fair for us to try to evaluate proposals against criteria that are bound to change. So, for the time being, we have decided it is not possible for us to accept Doctor Who novel proposals for consideration." The statement goes on to note that once there are more concrete plans for long-term publishing, they will revisit the policy.
As expected, the next confirmed releases for North American DVDs -- following the releases of "The Green Death" and "The Visitation" on March 1 -- will be The Leisure Hive starring Tom Baker and Ghost Light starring Sylvester McCoy, likely in early June, according to the BBC America Shop website. We expect to have cover illustrations as soon as they're released by Warner Home Video, the distributor. (Thanks to David Deddo)
BBC Worldwide today issued a press release announcing a deal with Character Options to become the master licensee for toy products for the new Doctor Who series. The press release is reprinted below. (Thanks to Steve Tribe)
BBC Worldwide has appointed Character Options as the Master Toy Licensee for the brand new series of Doctor Who.
Already in production, the new series (13 x 45minutes), which is written and executive produced by Russell T Davies, and stars Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose, is scheduled for transmission on BBC ONE in 2005.
The special effects have been created by Oscar«-winning visual effects house The Mill and bring the world's longest running sci-fi series into the 21 st century.
Travelling through time and space, the new series sees the Doctor and Rose come face to face with a number of new and exciting monsters - as well as battling with the Doctor's arch-enemy: the Daleks!
Jon Diver, of Character Options, said: "We are delighted with the appointment, and will be producing an innovative range of products to complement the heritage of this property. The footage that we have seen to date is simply awesome".
Richard Hollis, Head of Licensing BBC Worldwide, commented: "We are excited to be working with such a strong toy partner, and one who has had such success with technological and robotic toys".
Shipment to trade will be October 2005 with further product development in Spring 2006. Initially product will focus on gift and novelty lines which will include Radio Control Daleks and Doctor's Electronic Sonic Screwdriver.
Publishing for the new series includes audio products and ranges from BBC Books and BBC Children's Books, due for release in 2005
Notes to editors:
Character Options is a manufacturer, designer, distributor, and marketeer of toys, gifts and games, with sales primarily within the UK, and internationally through its distribution network. Character Options is part of the Character Group Plc.
Two Doctor Who connections to this year's Academy Awards nominations: Sophie Okonedo (Alison in the BBCi animated DW serial "The Scream of the Shalka") was nominated for Best Actress for "Hotel Rwanda," and John Debney(composer of the music for the 1996 TV movie) was nominated for Best Original Score for the film "The Passion of the Christ". (Thanks to Paul Hayes, Brent Johnson)
Jack Kine, who was instrumental in the creation of the BBC Visual Effects department during the 1950's, died yesterday at age 83 according to the Bucks Herald. He and his effects partner, the late Bernard Wilkie, only worked on one story together, "The Mind Robber," but both were involved behind the scenes in the many innovations which came before and led to the show's success. An interview with Kine from a 1967 edition of "Late Night Lineup" was included on the Tomb of the Cybermen DVD. (Thanks to Paul Engelberg)
Actor Mark Benton, who plays the role of Clive Finch in an episode of the new Doctor Who series, is interviewed today by the Designer Magazine site (mostly a music website but with interviews). He mentions his Doctor Who role in one part of the interview (which we've put in the spoiler tag since it contains a small spoiler about his role!) You can read the full interview here. (Thanks to Jonathan Morris)
I've done an episode of Doctor Who where I play this Doctor Who boffin who's got this website running about the show and Billie Piper comes to find out about it, Benton tells the Designer Magazine site. "I guess I play the voice of every Doctor Who fan, (laughs), I'm not saying that every Doctor Who fan lives in a shed though. I talk about the Doctor in the way I suppose fans would...and then I get killed."
Outpost Gallifrey has learned that Joe Ahearne, director of the sixth and eighth episodes of the new series, has returned to direct the eleventh episode of the show, which we're told bears a working title of "Boomtown" (though that may not be the final title used.) Apparently, Ahearne's direction style has been well received by cast and crew alike, leading to his return to work on the series.
Issue 7 of Black Scrolls has been released. A 36-page full color fanzine with cover by Adrian Salmon ("Professor Bernice Summerfield"), the issue features the last interview recorded with Michael Craze from 1997, an interview with Salmon, humor and much more. For more details, visit their website. (Thanks to Steve Preston)
Some updates from Mad Norwegian Press. The release of About Time 5 by Lawrence Miles and Tat Wood has been delayed until March but has greatly increased in page count ("it only covers four seasons of 'Doctor Who,' but they're an extremely busy four seasons in terms of cast changes, continuity and stylistic alterations"). The next volume is due in May, then the next in July, and the final in August. Lance Parkin's A History of the Universe will now be out in July, while several other releases (including "I Who 4") have still not been scheduled for final release dates yet. (Thanks to Lars Pearson)
As we reported on December 19, Project Who is "a two-part BBC Radio 2 program that will air around the time of the new series" and will be released on CD. Originally scheduled for April, the new release date is currently May 2. As noted in our previous report, the contents are as follows: "Tying in with transmission of the new BBC1 Saturday night series of Doctor Who, this two-part BBC Radio 2 programme takes a look at the Doctor Who phenomenon. Why is now the right time for it to return? There will be interviews with the stars and producers of the new series, location and set visits, and interviews with famous people who are fans of Doctor Who. This CD release will feature additional material not included in the Radio 2 broadcast." (Thanks to Steve Tribe)
Galaxy 4 is reporting the release of Doctor Who At the BBC: Volume 3 due on September 5; this would presumably be the third in the series of audio clips from BBC Radio interviews and features, possibly narrated by one of their earlier narrators, Nick Courtney or Elisabeth Sladen.
Newly listed on Amazon is Doctor Who, Novella No. 1 from BBC Audio for release on June 6; there's no information but it seems likely that the Ninth Doctor books will be released as audiobooks (Eccleston/Piper being obvious candidates to read them). Also, as previously corrected on our Releases guide, the Ninth Doctor novel formerly "Death Players" is now called Winner Takes All. It and the other two Ninth Doctor books ("Clockwise Man" and "Monsters Inside") as well as the non-fiction book "Monsters and Villains" are all out on May 19.
Various sources are reporting different additional DVDs for the summer and fall of 2005 in the UK, including possible boxed sets of "Trial of a Time Lord" or "The Beginning" (which includes the first three stories), plus "Attack of the Cybermen," "Mawdryn Undead," "The Web Planet," "Revelation of the Daleks" and "Survival," but nothing has been confirmed as yet by BBC Worldwide.
Finally regarding merchandise, according to the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, the media firm Orange 20 (whose logo appears in the magazine credits of DWM) has "planned a coordinated approach to Doctor Who marketing in the run up to the series launch, tying the new series and 'Classic Who' together in DVD and book schedules, magazine features and media promotion." The same article also talks about the Pertwee/McGann logo being retained for 'Classic Who' and the new logo being exclusively for Ninth Doctor stuff; it's not clear whether this is any more than the speculation that's been doing the rounds for ages.
We have confirmation that the new series' imminent sale in the US has impacted the 'classic' series being syndicated in the US. In a statement to PBS station WCET Channel 48 in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was released by their promotions department, a BBC report states the following: "Sadly, it is true. This Saturday, January 22nd, is the final broadcast of Doctor Who on our air. ... As for the reason why: the BBC is eager to sell the new series with Christopher Eccleston here in the United States and is not renewing contract with PBS stations at this time. The official word from our contact at the BBC states: 'Unfortunately, we won't be able to proceed with a renewal of Doctor Who at this time. The new series of Doctor Who is currently being shopped around to various commercial broadcasters. For this reason, we have been asked not to make any syndication agreements on this title until further notice. I'm sorry if this has caused you inconvenience. Our sales department has been under strong pressure to get this new, glossy series highly placed. Unfortunately, this was a commercial strategy decision,and we do not have enough of an existing PBS user base to bid against cable or the commercial giants, some of which are taking the new series in consideration. Thank you for understanding.'" So, no deal for US broadcast, but it's expected soon, and meanwhile, the original series is slowly disappearing from all markets. (Thanks to Benjamin Elliott)
Some additional casting updates: in the story "The Empty Child," Florence Hoath plays Nancy, and Albert Valentineplays Empty Child. Also, some crew updates: Matthew Savage is currently the main conceptual artist on the series, providing the vast majority of drawings under the supervision of Ed Thomas, and was responsible among many other things for producing the concepts for the new Dalek. Liz Griffiths is currently the Set Decorator, having taken over from Peter Walpole when he and props designer Patrick Begley moved to another production. The current props makers are Mark Cordory and Nicholas Robatto, with others working in their shop. Meanwhile, the first assistant director on episodes 9 and 10 is Jon Older, who wrote to Outpost Gallifrey to let us know that, in the location shoot report from January 14, "it wasn't the Director (nice bloke that he is) that went over to thank the little group of fans who were watching us shoot for agreeing to get out of shot - it was me. And also to point out that security guards aren't the most reliable source of info regarding plot points and schedules!"
Peter Davison's daughter, Georgia Moffat, has revealed that she auditioned for the part of Rose in Doctor Who. Interviewed in the 22 January edition of 'Saturday' (a magazine given free with the Daily Express), Georgia says: 'They told me straight away that I wasn't right, which didn't bother me too much. It might have been a bit twee if I'd got it, as dad had previously played Dr Who (sic).When I told him I was up for the audition, he was excited as he really enjoyed the role and still plays tapes of the show to my two step brothers (Louis, four, and two-year-old Joel)'. (Thanks to Ian Wheeler)
By the way, we're hearing that internally at the BBC, March 26 is still the target date for the return of the series.
The past two weeks have seen location photography for the story "The Empty Child" (and its second half, "The Doctor Dances"). Within the spoiler tag is a set report taken one week ago from location photography; click to read it. (Thanks to Timothy Farr/TIMELESS)
If you were walking down City Road in Cardiff towards the city centre at around 6.15pm on Friday, 14th January 2005, you would have found it difficult to ignore a large bright light shining out from behind some foliage near the church on Newport Road. The light is a powerful BBC scenic light mounted on a scaffolding tower. It shines through a diffusing grille into the forecourt of Cardiff Royal Infirmary opposite. Except that the CRI has had a makeover. An arched sign over the gates, apparently of cast iron, claims it as Albion Hospital. Behind the walls to either side of the gates are gunmetal coloured sheets of corrugated iron. Behind the gates, the low walls along the ramp to the curved double front doors have been surmounted with goldfish bowl gas lamps and reinforced with sandbags. All the windows have diagonal crosses of white tape and a large cloth banner hangs far above the doors covering much of the frontage. It bears the symbol of the red cross, used during the second world war to prevent aeroplanes from confusing hospitals with military targets. The powerful light casts the shadow of the large tree in the forecourt across this banner to eerie effect. Passers by gaze in confusion at this suddenly anachronistic transformation while twenty-first century cars drive past in ignorance.
Meanwhile, in front of the gates a complicated camera rig is being assembled. When it is ready, the camera hangs in a protected cradle from the end of a long black arm extended from vertical black mount to one side of the gates. Connected to this are the camera monitor and controls. The point of this rig is to give the camera a view of the area in front of the gates without the light across the road casting the camera's shadow into the gate area. A truck stops by the traffic island at the end of the road and two of the reflective waistcoated men who are keeping a watchful eye on events jump down from it. They begin to unload and set out traffic cones to narrow the road lanes. This will slow the movement of traffic, making the location safer and limiting the risk of vehicular shadows being cast across it. The traffic noise will not be a problem as no dialogue scenes are to be recorded tonight. The background noise will be dubbed over with a more appropriate soundtrack during editing.
There is a call for action and the camera rig moves smoothly towards and focuses in on the gates, where precisely nothing is happening. This is a camera rehearsal and when the crew are satisfied, there is a pause while a member of the cast is summoned from inside the hospital.
Soon the camera is repeating its earlier manoeuvre three times in succession and each time, on the monitor, Christopher Eccleston walks along the wall, turns to stride up to the locked gates and pauses to examine the padlocked chain securing them. There is a pause in filming while the next shot is prepared. Eccleston chats to some children and the adults standing with them by the gate, probably relatives of someone connected with the production. A beautiful young camera assistant holding a digital clapperboard asks some onlookers if they are Doctor Who fans. They are pleased to learn that the scenes being recorded tonight are for the two part Doctor Who story The Empty Child, due to be broadcast on BBC1 later in the year. She tells them what is going to be shot that evening and points out some of the scenic crew, who are affixing wooden signs painted with the words KEEP OUT - AREA RESTRICTED to the corrugated sheeting with a drill.
The camera assistant rejoins the crew as the next shot is ready. Now the focus is entirely on the gates. On the monitor, Eccleston walks into shot, pauses again before the padlock and reaches into a pocket to retrieve what looks like a futuristic pen torch. This he shines into the padlock, which comes apart in his hands and he unloops the chain from the gates. He then pushes open the gates and strides through them. A few more takes follow before the final part of this sequence is shot. These takes begin with Eccleston pushing open the gates then the camera tracks him through them, up the ramp to the doors and after trying the doors, Eccleston shines the pen light on their lock, opens them, steps through.
The watching fans are pleased with this as they believe the pen light to be a Sonic Screwdriver, a device used by previous Doctors which generates focused sound vibrations and can be used to loosen bolts or even ignite marsh gas. The crew also seem pleased. Hot drinks are being shared out and the camera rig reset. The fans see this as an opportunity to snatch a quick word with the latest actor cast as their hero but as they cross the road, one of the men in reflective waistcoats sends them back. Soon after, Eccleston has left the location but the camera crew is ready for another shot. The gates stand open. There is almost no traffic now and a concealed smoke machine creates a fog through the forecourt, lending the location an even more sinister aspect than before. The doors of the hospital swing open and a column of figures shamble out, moving at an unnaturally slow, even pace towards the open gates. They all wear primitive gas masks, shaped like badger snouts made of dull green canvas with glass covered eye holes and a round filter at the tip, leather straps buckled around the back of the head holding them in place. One of the two at the front is a thin figure wearing a white lab coat, the other is much thicker set, in black trousers, a white shirt and a maroon tank top. A few are dressed in period nurses' uniforms. Others are wearing 1940's overcoats or dressing gowns. These were presumably patients at Albion Hospital and are of all ages, the youngest being two twin girls in pigtails wearing red woollen overcoats who could be as young as nine and certainly not older than twelve.
This is a scene described earlier by the camera assistant as the sufferers of Empty Child Syndrome emerge. This walking nightmare takes on an even more surreal, dream-like quality when on reaching the gates, these extras suddenly break step, becoming more animated and removing the gas masks. The second take is even more impressive. The third ends with a laugh as an older woman in a magenta dressing gown turns in the act of removing the gas mask after the take and almost causes a passing member of the crew to fall to the ground. The extras re-enter the hospital and the camera rig is disassembled. The camera is repositioned across the road without the elaborate camera rig for the final shot of the evening. A few fans still remain on the site and are initially told that it will be acceptable for them stand to the left of the hospital but they are asked to move to the other side of the road, behind the camera. Possibly their shadows were unexpectedly in shot.
On the takes, the camera simply pans or tracks across the front of the hospital. This will be an establishing shot, showing the warning signs on the corrugated metal, some period fly posters flapping between them, the hospital name, the red cross banner and the taped across windows. On screen this will be a very brief shot conveying the austerity of wartime and the mystery of night. "That's a wrap!", calls a tall man in a red jacket.
A man in a yellow reflective jacket quietly expresses his relief at this. He explains to the fans that he has been there since 8.00am and by the end of a fourteen hour day, his enthusiasm is considerably diminished. A blonde production assistant hurries across and asks if any of the crew want a call sheet for the next recording. The camera assistant folds one up and tucks it into her back pocket before dismantling the camera and stacking it on a trolley. A fan offers to help but she politely refuses, as the camera crew tease her about it and call to her to "Leave those boys alone!".
Soon the camera crew have gone, but the fans linger a little longer. Crossing to the hospital again, they ask the BBC person left watching the site if they can take the period fly posters. After a momentary pause, he says yes. These are 12.5x9.5 inch (190x252mm) sheets, the text printed with a manilla coloured background simulating the look of paper that has been browned in the sun. The centred text in red on a typical example reads:
YOUR "EMPTIES" WANTED Please bring back your empty cod liver oil and orange tonic bottles when you come for a new supply ISSUED BY THE MINISTRY OF FOOD
In a production as complex as Doctor Who, these fly posters are a detail so tiny that when the completed episode is broadcast, it will not even be possible to read their text. By ten'o'clock even the fans have left. It has been a good night. The production team is happy, the fans are happy and the latest Doctor Who adventure is in the can. --Timothy Farr
Another report, this one from location photography on January 19 and 20 which appears to be additional on-location shots for episodes 4 and 5, the "Aliens of London" storyline. Click on the spoiler tag to read. (Thanks to Matt Hills)
I'm just back from watching part of tonight's filming in the restaurant Bistro 10 down at Cardiff Bay. I'm not sure what episode the filming was for, but Christopher Eccleston was present, and sporting the burgundy T-shirt previously seen, if I remember rightly, in the London filming for 'Aliens of London'.
The scene I saw being filmed involved a fairly lengthy exchange of dialogue between Eccleston and a blonde actress (I'm not sure who this was) who were sat facing each other across a swanky restaurant table -- Chris seeming to be doing most of the talking. Since he was pretty much stationed in the centre of the restaurant, and since it is entirely glass-fronted, passers-by -- and the few fans in attendance -- had a perfect view as takes were rehearsed. A number of extras had filled out the restaurant, while further extras were cued to walk past the exterior, study a menu, and thereby provide background colour/movement. A separated-off section was occupied by production personnel, though this was still visible to the public thanks to yet more contemporary stylings in the way of glass-frontage.
I was also fortunate enough to catch some of the raw footage on the monitor which was clearly visible from public space outside the restaurant.
What I saw was a tight close-up of Eccleston shot in exact profile, and positioned towards the right-hand side of the frame facing inwards (i.e. a classic shot for the purposes of continuity editing, likely to create the impression of two people, Doctor and A.N.Other, very starkly and directly facing one another).
The camera stayed on Chris as he spoke, and then very slowly (this was one take, approximately a minute or so long) moved further away and started to circle the table. Eccleston then became more clearly animated and began to gesture as if to emphasize points in an argument or exposition -- a classic monologue or haranguing from the Doctor, perhaps? In any case, seeing the ninth Doctor in close-up on-screen was *amazing*.
Oh, and I was told that there are 9 weeks of filming left, although as with other on-location mutterings, feel free to take this with as many -- or as few -- pinches of salt as you like!
Well, it transpires that my decision to leave tonight's filming relatively early was quite a mistake. I've just heard the following from friends -- Martin and Tim -- who stayed on for the duration. I shall report *exactly what I've been told*, however odd it may seem.
Firstly, the director on location was Joe Ahearne. Phil Collinson was also present. I didn't spot these people myself, despite recently having seen pictures of them in various Who-related magazines. No word on whether Phil was dressed in homage to the ninth Doctor's costume.
And now here's where the plot coagulates. The actress dining with Eccleston was apparently Annette Badland, previously confirmed as appearing in 'Aliens of London' (which also seems to chime with Eccleston's colour of T-shirt). I must admit, I did initially think this myself, but as it didn't fit with what I assumed they'd be shooting, I promptly dismissed the notion. So -- pick-up shots directed by a different director? Seems highly unlikely, I would have thought. Another possibility: 'Aliens of London' somehow bridges directly into the Joe-Ahearne-directed ep 6, meaning that there is an overlap in characters? (And that the Dalek story may begin, at least, in a contemporary setting...). Or was this from Paul Cornell's story, while again there is a previously unannounced overlap in characters... Of course, we already know that there are going to be some recurring or semi-regular dramatis personae, and even recurring locations such as the hospital from 'Aliens of London'/'The Empty Child'... It is beginning to seem as though this season's stories, though distinct, may jigsaw together in extremely crafty ways to create far more than the sum of their parts.
(Note added later: Although if pick-ups are being done by the current block's director -- and come to think of it, I have indeed read that before on OG, my apologies for not picking up on it earlier -- then Annette's presence would be less odd.)
Anyway, rampant speculation aside, I'm told that tonight's filming concluded with the most complicated special effects set-ups (as is customary). All the restaurant's occupants were seen to gaze upwards in terror, and a hefty window pane was exploded shortly afterwards, this being followed by the reaction shots of assorted diners -- yet more terror for this contemporary-Gothic Who.
Attention readers: a redesign of the New Series News Page with individual pages for each episode of the new series is coming very soon, as well as a long-awaited update to the Photo Gallery. Sorry for the delays... with the Gallifrey convention and my book taking up much of the time, OG updates are not as often as I'd like. Still, thanks for your continued support!
Where The Sea's Asleep is a new charity fanzine produced in Australia, all proceeds for which go to the Red Cross for their Asia Quake and Tsunamis Appeal. It features articles on Doctor Who and Blakes Seven, plus Doctor Who fiction and artwork; for more details visit the website.
While we're still looking at the likelihood of a late March premiere, we've heard some conflicting information recently: some retailers believe the show may start the second Saturday of March (the 12th), while another story would have a launch party at some point in mid-April. This proves one thing: the date of transmission is still in flux and has not been completely finalized.
A couple more reports from the past several days regarding shots being taken on location in Cardiff, presumably for episodes 9 and 10 in the new season; click on the spoiler tag to read them. Meanwhile, a brief mention from one of the security guards to an Outpost Gallifrey correspondent: "They've just signed up to do another lot next year." Although you can take that in stride, as it's not likely any decisions will be made prior to the start of broadcast. (Thanks to Alex Willcox, Paul Mount)
Paul Mount: Last scene filmed - several times - showed a dozen or more 'zombified' humans in gasmasks - they looked like patients, nurses, etc, lurching out of the hospital doors. lots of mist drifting across and a cleverly-placed arc light on the other side of the road cast an extremely spooky shadow of a treebranch right across the building. Looked quire eerie. in other news....filming quite behind schedule but no-one particularly worried. Daleks...(note plural) very effective and super-sophisticated in filming for the Shearman episode, filming moves to barry island (home of Delta and the bannermen) for a week's filming next week and...start date for series on TV said to be first week in March. Now some of this came from the security bod who also said they'd filmed 17 episodes so far and that Christopher Biggleswade was the Doctor (when I corrected him he said he was always getting the names confused....Bigglewade is apparently a guest star in one episode or other. I've never heard of him myself) so there may be cause for some uncertainty but he seemed to know what he was talking about. Also said CE was a great bloke (he was chatting amiably to some young fans between takes tonight) and Billie is "lovely..."
Alex Willcox: There didn't seem to be much happening this morning, so I went back to bed for a couple of hours. I've just got back, and the place is being set up for tonight's filming. It is indeed Albion Hospital. There's a big Red Cross flag on the front of the building, and sandbags around the entrance and the gates. A quick chat with a security guard revealed a couple of titbits - they've been filming inside since noon, and will be doing exterior work after dark. The whole road's going to be blocked off, as "It'd look a bit odd, set in the 1930s, with modern cars going past."
The Hospital was mocked up with the same Albion Hospital sign used previously. Sandbags were placed around the doors and the main gate. A big Red Cross flag hung from the front of the building, and the windows had crosses of tape over them. A corrugated iron fence had been erected above the outer wall, with KEEP OUT signs, and several wartime posters, about A4 in size. The three I saw were: one about reusing old bottles, another giving advice on constructing your own air raid shelter, and the third warning not to burn or destroy wastepaper - every scrap is needed for the war effort. Another large sign saying Danger - Keep out was on the gates.
The first shot recorded was of The Doctor walking up to the gates of Albion Hospital, rattling them and, finding them locked. He takes out his sonic screwdriver, which shines a blue light, and the padlock opens. He then opens the gate and walks through. The camera starts high above the gate and swoops down, taking in the Albion Hospital sign, ending up at ground level as Chris walks into shot. We had a good view of the camera monitor, and this swoop looks very effective. After a few takes of this, a close-up of the sonic screwdriver and padlock was recorded.
The next shot was of the zombies coming out of the doorway (freshly painted blue!). There were about two dozen by my reckoning; men, women and children; all in period costume and wearing gas masks. I remember a large chap at the front in a purple tank top, two schoolgirls in brown coats, with satchels, and I think a nurse. They all appeared to have a cut or scar on their right hands. The zombies walked out of the door, and straight down the pathway to the main gates - no other movement or emotion at all. Three takes were recorded of this shot.
Finally, an establishing long shot of the Hospital was recorded from two positions on the far side of the road.
After all this had finished, we hung around for a few minutes, went over to the only member of the crew left around, tidying up, and asked if we could nab the posters. Much to our surprise, he said yes! We got props!
In between takes of the first shot, the camera assistant (whose name I didn't get) came over to chat to us. She confirmed that the filming was for The Empty Child, and told me about the shots they were filming, describing the Zombies as having "Empty Child Syndrome", though then told me that this was not a scripted name, and was just the name the crew use. She said she'd seen the TARDIS set, and that it was very good, and massive. I tried to find out where they were filming next, but naturally, she wouldn't tell me. She did say though that "You wouldn't want to go where we're filming next."
Finally, I'd just like to say that the crew were very courteous in tolerating our presence. Especially the Director who, after we were moved to the other side of the road when they noticed we were in view of the camera for the final scene, made the effort to come over and thank us for moving.
Reports from several locations including DigitalSpy say that Christopher Eccleston "has apparently been taking his role as the new Doctor Who very seriously" and is said that he has "refused to speak between scenes, and has asked his fellow actors and crew members not to talk to him." "It brings me out of character," The Mirror quotes him as saying. Though, of course, there have been no authenticated reports of this, and everyone who's been on the set says quite the opposite about Mr. Eccleston, so we don't believe it at all. Also, the Sun on January 18 ran a short piece on Simon Pegg, including his quote "I will not be playing a young Davros" that appeared last month on the unofficial Spaced website (and reported here at OG). Nothing at all new, however. (Thanks to Chuck Foster, Mark Donovan)
Issue 70 of Time Space Visualiser (TSV), the New Zealand Doctor Who fanzine, is now out and features revelations from newly-discovered documentation about what was edited out of 1960s episodes in New Zealand; a no-holds-barred interview with David J Howe and Stephen James Walker in which they reveal why the Telos Novellas had to end - and also give a book-by-book commentary; a stunning eight-page Third Doctor and Ice Warriors comic strip; an 'extended edit' of the Missing Years update interviews from the Lost in Time DVD, and much more besides packed into 100 pages. TSV is available by mail order and Paypal is accepted as a payment option. For more details visit www.doctorwho.org.nz. (Thanks to Paul Scoones)
During a radio promotion for the tsunami relief program "Radio Aid" on Monday, Billie Piper phoned in and spoke briefly about the new series. She confirmed that it will be starting, as far as she knows, "at the end of March" and when asked who would be doing the theme tune she said "as far as I know it will be the original". The question asked of her was quite confused at this point, with both radio presenters (Zoe Ball and Shane Richie) doing impressions of the theme, so it's possible that she meant it would be the original composition rather than meaning it would be the Delia Derbyshire version, but this remains uncertain. She also put forward the "hoody" she says she wore in the first two episodes to be auctioned on eBay as part of the aid appeal. (Thanks to Dave Dickinson)
From this week's UK "Popbitch" gossip zine: "Popbitch favourite Tom Baker was spotted on Beak St, Soho last weekend. A young man went up to him and asked for his autograph. Baker noticed the chap was carrying a textbook and said, "You're a student aren't you?" "Yes," replied the chap. "Ah, you have my deepest condolences," replied Tom, who then grabbed the book and slipped a ten pound note inside.
Sophie Okonedo, who recently starred as Alison in the animated Doctor Who serial "Scream of the Shalka," was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role and as part of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for the film "Hotel Rwanda" as part of the Screen Actors' Guild Awards, being presented in early February. (Thanks to Joey Reynolds)
This week's edition of The Stage has a feature article on Doctor Who executive producer Mal Young, who it was recently reported is leaving the BBC (and the new Doctor Who series) and joining 19TV. While the article doesn't mention Doctor Who, it does talk about Young's career and future plans. (Thanks to Paul Hayes)
An article at the Eurovision song contest website notes that the BBC1 broadcast of "Making Your Mind Up," the pre-Eurovision show which giving viewers the chance to vote for the UK entry, may also include the launch of the new series on the same night, the first weekend of March. The article also states news from the latest issue of DWM that Colin Baker has submitted a possible entry for the UK selection. However, it's very likely that the notation is purely speculative, as we continue to hear late March as the targeted air date. (Thanks to Planet Who for the report)
Although we previously announced the BBFC's clearance of several extra items from the forthcoming UK DVD release ofThe Mind Robber in May, one item does not appear on that list: the Basil Brush sketch "The Himalayas." It was originally classified as part of the "Horror of Fang Rock" DVD release, but was bounced to "The Mind Robber" due to disk space issues. (Thanks to the Restoration Team)
The BBC Shop has posted details of two BBC Worldwide releases coming soon... the UK release of The Claws of Axos, due out May 9, 2005, featuring the press release and several extras notes; and the audio CD Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks, the audio recording of William Russell (Ian) reading the classic story novelization, for which a small thumbnail of the cover is provided. More details on each below. (Thanks to Ross Meresman, Steve Tribe)
The Claws of Axos DVD
An approaching Alien spaceship is detected on monitoring equipment at UNIT HQ, where the Brigadier is entertaining two visitors - Chinn, a civil servant making a security inspection, and Bill Filer, an American agent sent to discuss the threat of the Master. The Ship lands in England and the UNIT team, joined by Hardiman and Winser from the nearby Nuton power station, meet its occupants: beautiful golden-skinned humanoids called Axons.
The Axons claim that their ship, Axos, is damaged and that they need time in which to repair it. In return, they offer Axonite, a substance that can cause animals to grow to enormous sizes and thus end food shortages. The Doctor is suspicious, and rightly so: Axos, Axonite and the Axons - whose true appearance is hideous - are all part of a single parasitic entity brought to Earth by the Master to feed on the planet's energy. The Doctor manages to materialise his TARDIS, with the Master on board, at the centre of Axos. He offers to link the two ships together to make one giant time machine, on condition that Axos in return helps him to take revenge on the Time Lords for exiling him to earth. This is merely a trick, however, and Axos is locked in a time loop from which it can never escape. The Doctor returns to Earth in theTARDIS, where he reluctantly admits to the Brigadier that the Master may also have escaped.
Extras: Commentary track; photo gallery; production subtitles; outtakes/deleted scenes; "Now and Then" featurette about the Dungeoness location Interview with Michael Ferguson (director); and Reverse Standards Conversion featurette. Due May 9, 2005. ID #: BBCDVD1354.
Doctor Who In An Exciting Adventure With The Daleks Read by William Russell
This is Doctor Who's first exciting adventure with the Daleks! Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright travel with the mysterious Doctor Who and his granddaughter, Susan, to the planet Skaro in the space-time machine, the TARDIS. There they strive to save the peace-loving Thals from the evil intentions of the hideous Daleks!
'Doctor Who and the Daleks' is the classic novelisation of the Doctor's first TV encounter with the Daleks. Written by the programme's original story editor, David Whitaker, it is narrated by the character of Ian Chesterton, one of the first ever TARDIS companions.
Now, in an exclusive recording, the actor who played Ian on television û William Russell û reads the complete and unabridged novelisation. This MP3-CD disc will be enhanced with on-screen illustrations from the book, for PC and Mac users. Due March 7, 2005; ISBN # 0563527293.
An interview posted on the TwitchFilm website with writer Mark Gatiss discusses many topics including the new series. In the interview, conducted very recently, Gatiss notes that he was "in Cardiff yesterday, at the press junket, and it was - I can say without affectation - one of the most exciting days of my entire life." On the subject of Christopher Eccleston: "He's brilliant. He's brilliant. I think the show will surprise a lot of people and that, particularly, Chris will. He's known for his intensity, his rather scary intensity, which he DOES have as the Doctor. And equally, if you know him in real life, he's a really good laugh and a lovely man and it' s that sort of duality that he brings to it. He's like a kind of crazy child, but then when he tells you off you quake in your shoes. It's actually kind of a Tom Baker-ish quality, but in a completely different way." On the Daleks: "They're back. They are. That's true. I saw one yesterday and cried real tears. It's a marvelous story by Rob Shearman and I can't think of a better way of bringing them back. It makes your hair stand on end, it's so spooky. Intense. Dynamite, really." On whether it will continue after this series: "Oh, well, everyone wants it to continue, obviously, but it's a real killer. I mean thirteen forty five minute episodes may not sound like a lot but the thing is that apart from a few two-parters they're all one offs, so you need new sets, new situations, and new casts. It's really exhausting. When my episode was finished recording I shot the League film and did several other things and by the time I cam to see my episode they still had five more to shoot. It feels like so long ago! Russell [Davies, another Who writer] said to me "We've discovered the show that will kill us all." But, god yes. We'd love to continue." And on whether he'd want to write for subsequent seasons: "Oh, god yes. I don't want to just do one. I feel like having been privileged to be part of the team that brought it back in what I feel is such a marvelous way I'd like to leave a legacy of stories. Of course mostly I'd like to be Dr. Who!" For more on his thoguhts and to read the full article, visit theTwitchFilm site. (Thanks to Peter Weaver, Paul Hayes)