Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Monday, Tuesday Coverage


March 30, 2005  •  Posted By Shaun Lyon
As previously reported Doctor Who was the big winner on Saturday night: the final numbers out for the top twelve Saturday night programs note that the show received 9.94411 million viewers, a 43.20% share of the audience, and at times peaked up to 10.5 million. The show's competition, ITV's "Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway" received a 31.38% share with 7.17512 million viewers to be the night's third highest rating program, after "Casualty" (with 7.45706 million viewers/33.21% share).

Also, Doctor Who: A New Dimension scored great ratings for its timeslot and genre; the 5.25pm documentary that aired on BBC1, produced by the same people as "Doctor Who Confidential," received a 26.08% share with 4.05670 million viewers, number eleven on the night's viewing charts.

Meanwhile, BBC3 scored a big night with their broadcast of Doctor Who Confidential, which according to ViewingFigures received 820,630 viewers (or 5.45% audience share). The numbers are said to be "huge" for a documentary on BBC3. BBC's Sunday night repeat of "Rose," the first episode of the new series, scored 484,020 viewers (or a 3.51% share).

With the imminent broadcast of the new series in Canada, the Canadian edition of TV Guide Magazine, the most widely-read magazine in North America, carries Doctor Who on its front cover. Click on the thumbnail at right for a larger version of the cover. Meanwhile, the Canada.com website has an article about the show; nothing really noteworthy beyond a vague description on how the Daleks have been updated in their look, and Phil Collinson stating that he thinks the series must be "adapted to the times."

Italy is the latest confirmation as a broadcaster of the new series, as a story in today's Media Guardian makes note that "the programme has been sold to CBC in Canada, Prime TV in New Zealand and Sky Italia's entertainment channel Jimmy." It also mentions Australia in the article: "Production sources said that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which is currently broadcasting every Doctor Who episode since the beginning, would shortly buy the series after it has viewed all 13 completed episodes."

The official Doctor Who website now has the trailer for episode 2, The End of the World, on their site; click here for the media player to watch it. They've also made some, er, changes to their "Who is Doctor Who" site... the page "formerly" run by Clive from the first episode. Go to the front page of the Doctor Who site, and look next to Billie Piper's hands for a secret entrance to Clive's site.

Doctor Who Uncovered is a radio program to be broadcast after the BBC3 repeat of "The Unquiet Dead" on Sunday, April 10 at 7.45pm. The program lasts 15 minutes (running to 8pm). There's currently no word on the content of the program.

More broadcasting updates: Christopher Eccleston is scheduled to be a guest on "The Heaven and Earth show" on BBC1 at 10.30am on Sunday, April 3. One day earlier, on Saturday April 2, the CBBC Channel will be doing a feature behind the scenes on "End of the World" at 15.50 on the programme "Newsround Showbiz".

The new edition of Radio Times (2û8 April) is published today and continues its heavy promotion of the new series. Once again, Doctor Who is at the head of the recommended viewing for the week (page 4), with a small picture of Jabe and a brief description: "Rose learns the hard way on her first time-travel trip with the Doctor in this fresh, funny romp. Bizarre aliens ahoy, including Jabe." On page 10, there is a letter from a viewer complaining that the Mastermind special was won by the contestant with the lowest score in the Doctor Who round ("I was horrified..."). This week's big "Doctor Who Watch" feature runs on pages 12 to 15 and goes behind the scenes on creating the various aliens for episode 2, with comments from Phil Collinson, Neill Gorton, Davy Jones and Lucinda Wright, as well as eight colour photographs. (There's also coverage of both Quatermass and Casanova, featuring Mark Gatiss and David Tennant.) Saturday's televison pick of the day is illustrated with the Face of Boe, and a write-up that mentions that no preview tape was available, "so we can't tell you whether the promise of the excellent thrilling opener is realised and sustained." The listing for the episode (which includes a credit for Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler) at 7pm has another alien's mugshot. The listing for Doctor Who Confidential says that "the focus is on the memorable monsters from the past 40 years of the show". UKTV Gold is listed as showing The Creature from the Pit and Nightmare of Eden in its weekend omnibus slots; BBC1's Heaven and Earth Show (Sunday, 10.30am) has an interview with Christopher Eccleston; BBC4 is reshowing its Fantasy 60s documentary, which deals briefly with Doctor Who, at 11.40pm on Saturday. Finally, on Monday 4, at 5pm, Blue Peter on BBC1 shows "how to make a Dalek out of a garden compost bin."

Heat magazine have more support for the new series in their new issue. In the Picks for Saturday night they have a joint pick for Doctor Who and Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway: "Doctor Who/Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, BBC1, 7pm/ITV1, 6.45pm. Now that you've seen the first episode of Doctor Who, or made your mind up sight-unseen on whether it's your particular cup of Saturday-evening tea, the nation can divide itself into Who people or Ant people - so to speak. We could all just use our videos or Sky+, but we don't all have time to press confusing buttons. On BBC1, it's the year five billion AD and someone's using spider-things to bump off the alien spectators who have gathered to watch the sun explode and destroy the earth. Will the Doctor and Rose sort it out in time? On ITV1 it's 2005 AD and Emma Bunton is stitched up like a blonde, musical kipper on Ant and Dec Undercover, Ainsley Harriott joins in the Grab the Ads fun in the studio and And and Dec go head-to-head in Kirsty Gallacher's Ant versus Dec challenge from last week. Not to mention the weekly treat that is Little Ant and Dec's celeb interview. Make your choice now! "

Fans on the air: Timothy Farr of TIMELESS (the DWAS local group South Wales) and Julia Raysight of the Guardian were on the BBC Radio Wales morning programme "Good Morning Wales" at 8:55am chatting about the success of the weekend. Also, on BBC Radio Five Live, Nicky Campbell and Shelagh Fogerty discussed the series on their "Breakfast" show with Boyd Hilton, edtitor of Heat Magazine, at 8:55am. Its around 02:51:00 in on Radio 5 Live's Listen Again Service (Monday). And the Preston Doctor Who group in England appeared on BBC Radio Lancashire today to review the first episode. The 20 minute segment formed part of the Ben Thompson show at 2.15pm. It was a follow-up appearance to a show in December 2004, again discussing Doctor Who.

Monday's issue of the Daily Express has yet more coverage of the new series. A quarter-page photo of a smiling Billie Piper on the front cover is captioned: ôBILLIE HELPS YOU KNOW WHO WIN THE RATINGS WARö, promoting a full-page feature on page three which covers the ratings victory. The page three headline is ôBillie the Whizz Kidö with ôDr Who wins Saturday night TV ratings warö. The article is accompanied by a large photo of Billie, a smaller inset photo of Chris and Billie from the second promo photo, and a picture of Ant and Dec. Amusingly itÆs a recent photo of the ITV pair (Dec has his arm in a sling from a recent injury) and is captioned ôLOSING OUT: Ant and Dec were TV warÆs casualtiesö. Perhaps a little unfairly though, the article compared Doctor WhoÆs peak figure with Ant and DecÆs average, saying: ôITV wheeled out a line-up of celebrities, including soccer star David Beckham, but the BBC pulled in an audience of 10.5 million compared with Ant and DecÆs Saturday Night Takeaway at 7.2 million.ö On page 13, the paperÆs TV reviewer Charlie Catchpole gives the episode a glowing review, his only complaint being the new arrangement of the theme tune. The review is headlined ôThis Doctor is the right prescriptionö, and his comments include: ôThe Tardis has landed. The Doctor is among us and allÆs well with the world. Or pretty much all. Christopher Eccleston makes a marvellous new Doctor Whoà The special effects are dazzling, the script by Russell T Davies is sharp and wittyà The opening episode was perfectly in tune with the showÆs traditions but it could just as easily have stood alone.ö Then on page 24, the newspaper has its top 10 ôOK Magazine Celebrity Chartö, with Christopher Eccleston equalling his No. 2 position from the week he was cast as the Doctor last year, and Billie going straight in at No. 3 (they must be so proud, eh?). The write up for Chris is ôThe Salford-born actor is showered with praise as he brings Doctor Who back to television screens as the ninth Timelord.ö And for Billie: ôThere is praise too for Billie, who plays Doctor WhoÆs companion Rose û with critics impressed by Chris EvansÆ estranged wifeÆs acting talent.ö They were both beaten out by David Beckham at No. 1. Interestingly, the Daily Expres also quoted from a review posted at Outpost Gallifrey by David Farmbrough (using the words 'Billie's performance is spot-on, and very easy on the eye' from it) to indicate that fan reaction to her has been positive.

Monday's Times had a bottom-page panel with a pic of Piper and Eccleston and the headline "Happy landing" and sub-heading "New Doctor Who wins acclaim - and an audience", directing readers to page nine where it was the page lead under the headline "Who's the daddy as 10m find time to see the Doctor". Readers were also invited to e-mail their comments on the subject "Is Dr Who the way forward for the BBC?" to debate@thetimes.co.uk - a section (separate to the Letters page) where readers' views are printed. In today's debate@thetimes.co.uk section, the invite is repeated, albeit worded slightly differently, saying "What do you think of the new Dr Who?" - the responses will appear in the next day or two. Page 20 of The Times also had a cartoon utilising a Dalek chanting "Exterminate" inside Conservative HQ while someone exclaims "Crisis? What crisis?"; it's a comment on the latest Conservative party turmoil and borrowing a phrase misattributed to former Labour premier Jim Callaghan - whose death was announced straight after Rose had aired on Saturday. By one of those strange Doctor Who-world coincidences, when Callaghan (who was born in Portsmouth - where I'm writing this) was ennobled in 1987, he became Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, which, of course, nobody needs reminding is where the new series was made! Reviewing the weekend's TV in The Times, Paul Hoggart gave the show a definite thumbs-up, calling it "a joyful, exuberant reinvention".

Monday's Daily Star made the show's ratings triumph against Ant and Dec its page one splash, with the full story on page six. It was the lead piece in a two-page feature that also had two other (non-DW) programme-related stories. The headline, stretching across pages six and seven, was "Who's The Daddy!" and the strap was "New look Doctor makes dummies out of Ant 'n Dec as the fans go wild for a trip in the Tardis and another monster showdown". There was a positive review by Peter Dyke and a negative one by Iain Burchell. There was also a preview pic story for episode two that mentioned Rose likening Cassandra to Michael Jackson because of the number of cosmetic ops she's had! (I don't think that counts as a spoiler, does it?) Charlie Catchpole's piece in the Express is repeated - with a slight edit - on page 15 in the Star (both newspapers are owned by the same organisation).

Many other new series episode reviews have been published the past two days, including at the following sites: The Great LinkicWales, the Mirror (a very negative review, sadly), Leeds TodayLogicvoiceBlogcritics, two articles in the Times here and here, and the MediaGuardian. Other papers such as the Leicester Mercury and Daily Express also carried printed reviews.

Several papers have run stories about the wide variety of merchandise marketing that will be done, including some quotes of up to 70 pieces of merchandise for the new Doctor Who series alone: Daily RecordMediaGuardian (also noted for its broadcast info, above), and Telegraph (with another story here).

Lots of additional coverage of the ratings for the first episode: Times Online ("Who's the Daddy?"), the Mirror("Decterminate"), icWalesSky NewsIGNRealityTVWorld (also here as well), Brand Republic, the New York TimesExpress NewslineThis is LondonExpress and StarMediaWeekYabedoLeeds Today,Monsters and CriticsDeHavillandSydney Morning HeraldInTheNews and ContactMusic.

Some general articles germaine to the new series: The Western Mail ran an article about the various locations used in the shooting of the episode "Rose". Yorkshire Today ran some of Christopher Eccleston's comments from previous papers. The Sun ran a brief version of its paper story on a burnt up police box! And BBC News ran an article about a "Tardis builder [who] awaits new Daleks".

The April issue of the horror magazine Rue Morgue (the one with "The Amityville Horror" on the cover) is on newsstands now and contains an extensive article on Doctor Who examining the classic seriesÆ relationship to the horror genre, with particular attention to the Hinchcliffe-Holmes era, written by our correspondent Joe O'Brien. You can find out more at the website.

BBC Radio 4 still has "The Now Show" available on their 'listen again' feature. From 2 minutes to 3 minutes in they sing a nice acoustic ditty called 'Call me during Dr Who and I'll kill you...'

And finally... The Sun on Tuesday still reckons Doctor Who makes good copy, for it carries a woeful tale (apparently an exclusive) about Washington DC fan Richard Briggs, 47, who flew over to recover a plywood Tardis said to have been used by the BBC in 1983 and left behind after filming at Plas Brondanw, north Wales (presumably during the Five Doctors shoot) - only to discover that the gardener who had been keeping it in his shed had got fed up with it and dumped it on a bonfire two weeks beforehand. Story was accompanied by a pic of Briggs and a mock-up of, er, what a police box would look like if being consumed by flames. (Presumably readers' imaginations needed that bit of extra help.)

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Paul Hayes, Chuck Foster, John Bowman, Mike Doran, Graeme Burk, David Farmbrough, Joe OÆBrien, Robin Shannon, Michael Luchka, Paul Wheeler, Mick Snowden, Tim Harrison, Jonathan Massey, Macfadyan, Peter Nolan, Ken Moss, Robert Booth, Mustafa Hirji, David Brodie, Andy Davidson, and Liam Burch for the TV Guide scan)

Wednesday Series Coverage


March 30, 2005  •  Posted By Shaun Lyon
The official Doctor Who website has regenerated again... now bearing a teaser splash for episode 2, "The End of the World." Much of the content is the same, but there is an additional piece of infomation: producer Russell T Davies will be in a live chat at 7.45pm next Saturday, right after the episode. A few new sound downloads were added (including "the burp"), along with footage of Davies and Julie Gardner at the press launch.

The BBC Shop has now confirmed the release dates for the two Doctor Who new series DVD sets, the three-episode, no-extras versions due out May 16 and June 13, respectively. The pages are here and here. Of note, they now have DVD #'s attached; the serial for the first is BBCDVD1755 and the second, BBCDVD1756.

Has Christopher Eccleston's successor already been picked? The Mirror thinks so, bounding on the reports that Eccleston is waffling about coming back for a second series, and says that "Casanova heart-throb David Tennant is being lined up to play Doctor Who - just a week after Christopher Eccleston made his debut as the time lord." It notes that Eccleston has not committed to a second series, "and BBC insiders revealed last night that Paisley-born Tennant, 33, who played young Casanova on BBC3, is the man to replace him. Even if Eccleston does decide to stay on for another series, Tennant will have first refusal on the job after he goes. A Beeb source said: 'At the end of this season, you are led to believe that (spoiler, highlight for full details) the Doctor could be dead after he's saved his companion Rose - played by Billie Piper - and the Earth from the Daleks. But it turns out that there's a way for Rose to save him and that's how the second season starts. So she gets back to the TARDIS and is able to get the Doctor brought back to life. If Chris is still in the role, no problems. He's been brilliant and it will be good to have him back. If David is in the role, it will just be explained as the Doctor using up one of his regenerations, which has happened many times before. Lining up replacements isn't bad form - the BBC has a hit on its hands and is just doing what it can to keep it going.'" Tennant, obviously, is quoted as saying he's "flattered" but has not been offered the role. "I've never made any secret that I'm a big fan of Doctor Who and it's the reason I got into acting, but I haven't been asked to play the Doctor. I haven't been approached at all. ... It would be a great role to play, but as far as I know it's not up for grabs." But the Mirror says, that "Tennant WILL play the Doctor at some point - and will be asked to stay for the long haul. Even if Christopher returns for a second season and wants out after that, David will get the role. He is the hot favourite at the moment. He's a fan and incredibly talented as anyone who saw him on Casanova will testify. He'd be great for bringing in lady viewers in the same way that Billie Piper is bringing in the blokes." Obviously, this is almost completely speculative, but worth reporting... Meanwhile, it should be noted that David Tennant already has a connection to Doctor Who, having appeared in no less than seven plays for Big Finish, including "Colditz," "Medicinal Purposes," "Sympathy for the Devil" and the "Dalek Empire" series.

"No, I Don't Fancy A Tree-Some!" proclaims today's Daily Star, which says that "sexual tensions rise in the new Doctor Who series when the Timelord makes his sidekick Rose jealous. And to make matters worse, he starts getting cosy with a woman who looks like a tree! The Doctor... meets the alluring alien Jabe, who is half-woman and half-log. The time traveller is immediately smitten with the strange-looking lass (actress Yasmin Bannerman) and flirts with her, right in front of his assistant Rose ... As a gift of peace, Jabe offers the Doc a plant and says: 'This is a cutting from my grandfather!'" There's a bit more dialogue exchange, but mostly just innuendo before the episode continues.

Katy Manning, best known as Jo Grant from the 1970's era of Doctor Who, "has some advice for Billie Piper, the new young actor who plays Doctor Who's assistant" according to the Australian Associated Press General News. "She (Piper) is as good as anybody else, better than some and she will bring her own magic to it," Manning says. "The key word to this show is truth because you are dealing in totally unreal situations. Truth will get them every time because it should make you laugh, cry, feel afraid. That is what the show is all about." She also notes that she's heard good things about the series: "From what I hear, the show is frigging fantastic. Don't look for the wobbly sets anymore because they're not there. ... Miss Piper could become a millionaire out of this. I am lucky if I can pay for a couple of years in my maturity for a bath chair."

Today's Times has a note about Simon Callow, who will be in the third episode, "The Unquiet Dead." Callow, it says, "is not a fan of the Time Lord: 'I saw the first episode in 1963 with William Hartnell as the Doctor. It wasn't for me so I missed the entire procession of Doctors that followed.'"

As reported previously, Newsround Showbiz on the CBBC Channel ran a special Dr Who edition on March 26. It covered many of he same points made in earlier shows, such as Blue Peter and acted as a bridging tool for children new to the show. It included brief interviews with Chris Eccleston, Billie Piper and Russell T Davies. All were asked were they would like the TARDIS to take them, as in previous interviews, Chris Eccleston said Salford of the 1960Æs, Billie Piper said sheÆd like to see what happens to her in her 30Æs, while Russell T Davies said heÆd like to go two to three hundred years into the future. This is to be followed up with a behind the scenes look at episode two of the show, which as we reported yesterday is due to broadcast on the CBBC Channel April 2nd at 15:50.

The industry magazine Hollywood Reporter ran an article yesterday about the show. "The new treatment is very much Davies's baby. He is an executive producer and has written nine of the new 45-minute shows. With "Queer as Folk" to his credit, Davies was bound to bring a fresh imagination to what could easily have degenerated into a tired rehash. But his "Doctor Who" (Eccleston) should please died-in-the-wool fans and attract new audiences to a children's program that will please adults too. Davies deals delightfully with the background to the good doctor's character in a way that should satisfy cultists and also bring newcomers up to speed." It says that "One of the great appeals of the earlier shows was a sense of amateurishness, not only in the bookish approach of its scientist hero but also in the special effects. Here they've spent some money sprucing up the effects and the Tardis, the doctor's time-travel machine that looks like a police call box on the outside, is spectacular. But Davies keeps the stunts at a manageable level and it's all just cheesy enough to maintain the affection of the show's many fans."

Today's Daily Express runs a list, "Ten things you never knew about. . . doctors" with three Doctor Who references: "In the late 1970s, eight Doctor Who episodes were scripted by Douglas Adams (author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), four under the name David Agnew. The first episode of Doctor Who was screened the day after John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Doctor Who's time-travelling Tardis (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) is powered by energy from an artificial black hole called the Eye of Harmony."

Other reports: a review/report on the ratings in the Evening Times, the Scotsman discusses the battle between Doctor Who and Star Wars for British toy store sales, and the News and Star says that Eccleston's performance as the Doctor is a "triumph" and notes that "Dr Who has much in common with James Bond. It is a huge challenge to be the next in line to play a part which is an institution where you will be compared mercilessly with all those who have gone before."

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, John Leivers, Alan Chadwick, Steven Penfold)

Note: There was a spoiler in the above text that I didn't notice until several people complained; it wasn't intended (it's easy to let these reports pass when you're amalgamating hundreds of emails.) I've now corrected this.

Christopher Eccleston Leaves Doctor Who After One Season - Updated!

Note: I'm continuing to update this story as details come in on March 31... updates are at the bottom of the story.

Christopher Eccleston has made the decision not to return to "Doctor Who" for a second series, according to news reports confirmed today by the BBC.

While today's earlier story about the second series/Christmas special renewal included hints that Eccleston might be hedging hits bets on a return, the first reports circulated before midnight UK time as it was announced the Sun would lead Thursday with the phrase "Doctor Who Quits," joined by the Daily Mirror. The story was then picked up by the Scotsmanand the Press Association news feed, fueling speculation that this was either a true story or possibly an interpretation by the broadsheets of Jane Tranter's comments (see story below) about how "People will have to wait and see what happens" regarding the other 12 episodes to be shown. Later in the evening, BBC News confirmed the news, first with a "breaking news" splash on their home page, then a short update and finally a full story regarding Eccleston's decision not to return for a second year. "Eccleston, whose first appearance as the ninth Time Lord attracted around 10 million viewers, feared being typecast," says the report, although this may simply be speculative about his reasons for deciding not to return. Press Association's report said, "Actor Christopher Eccleston has quit as Doctor Who after just one series, it was announced tonight. The star, who has appeared in television drama Cracker and hit film, Shallow Grave, is worried about being typecast. He is also planning new projects and found filming the series gruelling. In a statement issued through the BBC, Eccleston said: æThe audience's response for the new Doctor Who has been incredible and I am really proud to be part of it and I hope viewers continue to enjoy the series."

The reports mention that Billie Piper will return next year to the role of Rose Tyler.

Meanwhile, BBC News also confirmed today the rumors that it was in talks with actor David Tennant, the star of the new Davies-produced drama "Casanova," which is currently showing on BBC3, as a possible replacement for Eccleston... a suggestion originally reported by yesterday's Mirror when it noted that Eccleston had not indicated he was coming back to the role (see "Wednesday Series Coverage" below). Says BBC News: "A BBC spokesman said the corporation would issue a formal statement later on Thursday and that it had hoped, rather than expected, that Eccleston would continue in the role. He said that although talks to make David Tennant the 10th Doctor were taking place, other names may be put forward. Bill Nighy was also considered for the Eccleston role, while Richard E Grant starred in a BBC web drama version of Doctor Who. Casanova, which moves to BBC1 from BBC3 on Monday, added to Tennant's reputation after his success in the drama Blackpool." Obviously, Tennant's name being put forward as a possible successor indicates that the decision by Eccleston not to return has been some time in the making, prompting hedged comments from members of the production and the BBC and possible negotiations with Tennant (which he earlier denied were taking place, but that could also have been delaying until an announcement about Eccleston was made.) The reports also indicate that Tennant's name has been put forward and that they're in talks, but nothing's been confirmed yet and it's too early to call him the Tenth Doctor just yet... though today's Media Guardian suggests that Tennant "is the only name being looked at".

There is currently no final word as to whether or not Eccleston will return for the Christmas special announced earlier today -- some news reports suggest he will, but this may simply be choice of words. Meanwhile, despite the reported reason of typecast fearing, there may be budgetary concerns in the mix. Jane Tranter, BBC Head of Drama Commissioning, had said in a statement reported in the Times that new dramas will face 15 per cent budget cuts to pay for prestige hits such as Doctor Who. "Dr Who and current shows are protected but we have to find a way of making a certain number of dramas at a lower cost," the Times noted, as well as mentioning that "Producers will be told to squeeze out more minutes of drama a day during shoots and star actors face tough salary negotiations. Speaking before the new doctor announced his departure, Ms Tranter said ominously: 'Now weÆve got to start talking to Billie Piper and Chris about what they want to do. There is a mischievous element to it, in that you can keep regenerating the Doctor.'"

The story was likely to not be reported on for some time, but apparently got out to the tabloids, forcing the BBC to make comments about this as the Thursday morning sheets went to press. Other locations reporting this story this evening include the Independent, the TelegraphScotsman (a separate news item than the one above) and WaveGuide. Expect a lot more reporting on this in the press in the hours to come, as it's interesting to note that -- like the announcement of the new series itself and of Christopher Eccleston's casting -- the story broke after much of British fandom had gone to bed for the evening.

Update 31 March 0720 GMT: According to reports, this news has been mentioned today on GMTV's Breakfast show and has also made the BBC morning news headlines. Many reports are expected throughout the day; when they come in, we'll post links to them here.

Update 31 March 0840 GMT: Several sources are claiming that Tennant actually will be the Doctor for the second series, instead of just someone the BBC is talking to. No word as yet from official sources as to whether or not Tennant has been signed to the role. Meanwhile, more press sources are reporting this story this morning:

The MirrorThe Sun (claiming as always an "exclusive"), Daily MailThis Is LondonAnanovaSky News,Digital SpyMovie HoleVarietyBoingBoing.

Update 31 March 1600 GMT: The BBC press office has issued a press release; meanwhile, there's more information including links to various news reporting agencies carrying the story coming later today.

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe and Chuck Foster for hunting down news items despite not being very happy about it...)

Confirmed: Second Series, Christmas Special

Update 30 March 1625 GMT: The official Doctor Who website now confirms the second series/Christmas special story!

Today's MediaGuardian and The Stage reported that both a second year of the new Doctor Who series as well as a special episode to be aired this coming Christmas season have now been commissioned. "The BBC has wasted no time in commissioning a Christmas special and second series of its Doctor Who revival, less than a week after the time traveller returned to BBC1 after an absence of 16 years with nearly 10 million viewers," says the report. "However, the BBC head of drama commissioning, Jane Tranter, was unable to confirm whether Christopher Eccleston, the ninth doctor, or Billie Piper, who plays his sidekick, would be returning - opening up the possibility that the man with the sonic screwdriver might have to undergo yet another regeneration within a year. Ms Tranter said she had commissioned the Christmas special and a second series of Doctor Who yesterday - just three days after the sci-fi show began its new 13-part run on BBC1 with 9.9 million viewers, beating off stiff opposition from Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. 'So now we've got to start talking to Billie and Chris about what they want to do. I want to make Doctor Who again, but there is a mischievous element to it, in that you can keep regenerating [the Doctor],' she added. 'I think Chris is fantastic as Doctor Who. But we've still got another 12 episodes to go. People will have to wait and see what happens." Tranter made her comments today at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch, and added that Eccleston and Piper's contracts included options to do more series, which is standard practice in returning TV dramas, but that it was not yet certain that the pair would continue to be part of the show. Russell T Davies, it notes, will write the Christmas Special.

Russell T Davies told the official Doctor Who website that "It's fantastic news. It's been a tense and jittery time because the production team has been working on plans for Series Two - scripts are being written already! - without ever knowing if it would ever get made. We could all have ended up unemployed. But now we can put all those plans into action and get going. It's particularly good for BBC Wales. This is a major flagship show for the region, and their staff and crews are the best you could find. It's a tribute to them that Doctor Who is returning. Cymru am byth!"

Tranter said that Doctor Who was "probably the riskiest thing I've ever commissioned", because of the cost and the commitment to a 13-episode series, adding that she was shocked at how popular the first episode had proved on Saturday night. "In all honesty I had got myself into proverbial steel jacket as far as Doctor Who was concerned. I told myself I'd be completely and utterly thrilled if it got 6.5 million, but there was a little voice inside whispering '4.5 million'." She said that Barb's AI index, the audience research measure of how much viewers enjoyed a show, had scored 81 out of 100 for Doctor Who - above the average for the corporation's dramas, which is 78. Tranter added that the BBC had always envisaged that the Doctor Who revival would be scheduled early on Saturday evening, even though this put it head to head with Saturday Night Takeaway, one of ITV1's biggest entertainment hits. "We wanted it to be early Saturday evening, because that had been the slot before, and Russell [T Davies] had written it with that time in mind. There's something there for every adult to chew on, but also something for children. If you played it at a different time, it's just not going to work."

(Thanks to Paul Hayes, David Baker, Scott Matthewman, Angus Moorat, Jonathan Slater, Paul Engelberg and Steve Tribe plus the official Doctor Who site editors!)

Sunday, 27 March 2005

Doctor Wins Ratings Battle!

Breaking news from a variety of sources, which note the following:

"Cult sci-fi hero Doctor Who won the battle of prime time as 10 million viewers tuned in to watch the series return after a 16-year absence, figures revealed today.

"The much-loved time traveller beat off competition from ITV's Ant and Dec - and their guest David Beckham - to claim an average audience of 9.9 million on Saturday night.

"Salford-born Christopher Eccleston became the ninth small screen Doctor in a special effects-packed comeback, with former pop star Billie Piper starring as his new sidekick.

"The series, which was screened at 7pm, had an average audience share of 43.2% and hit a peak of 10.6 million viewers.

"Ant and DecÆs Saturday Night Takeaway, which ran against Doctor Who, had an average of 7.2 million viewers, taking a 31.4% share.

The Geordie duo peaked with an 8.5 million audience, 37.5% of the viewing public."

An Editorial Thank-You


March 27, 2005  •  Posted By Shaun Lyon
March 28 Note: Taking a well-deserved break today; back tomorrow, Tuesday, March 29. Meanwhile, last evening's editorial note:

Over the past three weeks, Outpost Gallifrey has been updated every single day with news stories, sometimes three or four times per day. Needless to say, it's been tiring and sometimes very excruciating, doing the updating before work, during the day and in the evenings, knowing the next morning will bring more stories to sift through (sometimes on the order of a hundred or more!) It's been even more difficult when you realize that I'm not in the UK, and therefore rely upon the good will of our readers. I'd therefore like to thank everyone who's been credited the past few weeks for their diligence in reporting information up to and including the new series press launch, the various trailers, the live TV and radio appearances and this weekend's transmission of "Rose"... every person credited herein has been integral in gathering these news reports (hopefully I've managed to credit everyone!), and especially Steve Tribe and Paul Engelberg for gathering news stories, updating the calendar and forwarding every single report they could find. Also, special thanks to Chuck Foster of DWAS for all the links, John Molyneux, Paul Hayes, John Bowman, everyone who sent in screen caps and writeups, and our readers from all over the BBC in the TV, radio and Internet divisions (you know who you are!) who have kept us up to date. And, of course, thank you to everyone involved in the production of the new series (especially Russell, Julie, Phil, Chris and Billie) for such a marvelous debut. Now that the show's aired in the UK, I hope things settle down... just a little!

Late Weekend Round-Up


March 27, 2005  •  Posted By Shaun Lyon
The past two days have seen a whirlwind of press, much of it regurgitating each other over and over. Here's a quick recap of what's transpired late Saturday, all day Sunday, and into Monday morning's press:

A large collection of papers (many of which do not have online versions) have printed reviews. Internet-accessible ones include BBC News with a review by Sylvester McCoy!; The Herald ("Cracking script makes this a welcome visit from the Doctor"), Scotstman (includes comments on ratings), also reviewed hereThe ObserverThe Independent; TheSunday HeraldTimes OnlineCBBC, a special page on children's first reactions to Doctor Who; Express Newsline, India; The Telegraph; the Sunday Mail (a review by the "McInnes Family");

Summing up what many of the papers said today:
• "I was hooked from the outset. The whole thing thing was stuffed with in-jokes I wasn't sure I was fully getting, but I laughed anyway" - Guardian.
• "After 16 years locked in the warp-shunt fantasies of the plasters-on-specs brigade, Russell T Davies has breathed new life into an old favourite. The doctor got his girl and BBC1 found itself reacquainted with an old pal.Quality. Brilliant." - News of the World.
• "The current incarnation of the Time Lord has barely moved on and the one thing the future can't afford to be is old-fashioned" - Sunday Times.
• "The new Who is poorly cast, badly written, pointlessly northern, relentlessly silly and, fairly crucially, the sci-fi is thoughtless and throwaway." - The People. (They also manage to insult Billie Piper; the writer obviously thinks he's quite clever, when he's not.)
• "The new Doctor Who succeeded in establishing its own reality: skewed, sprightly and assured, without ever taking its audience's attention, or goodwill, for granted." - Sunday Telegraph
• "The much-vaunted special effects with which the series has been retro- fitted struck me as being as clunky as ever, and Ecclestone's performance was a bit too reminiscent of a nerdy teenager, but it has a real heartbeat... or perhaps even two." - The Independent
• "After such a fanfare, Doctor Who could hardly fail to disappoint. But amazingly, it didn't. OK, the monster was feeble and the lack of a cliffhanger ending was a shame. But Christopher Eccleston portrayed a far more complicated Doctor character than we've become used to seeing, certainly since Jon Pertwee - and far more interesting as a result." - Independent on Sunday
• "Dr Who, with Christopher Eccleston in the title role and Billie Piper as his comely assistant, was ill received in the Highland home where I spent Easter. The much-hyped special effects were considered a prodigious waste of money by the BBC." - Daily Mail
• "If it's all the same to you BBC1, I think I'll stick with Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. But thanks for trying." - Mirror (spoilsports!)
• "An alien form, called entertainment, has been discovered on Saturday nights. It's a thoroughly bizarre, glossy new concoction called Dr Who." - Sunday Express. (There's also a positive little review of "Project: Who" in the radio review column on page 63)

Lots of coverage of the ratings (which we reported on as early as we could this morning!) Many stories on this includingBBC NewsMedia GuardianThe SunITVCBBCTimes (mentions Outpost Gallifrey!), TelegraphScotsman, with commentary about what it means for the BBC, Daily RecordGuardianPittsburgh LiveWashington TimesChannel 4WaveGuideBig News NetworkManchester Online (with fan review). The Daily Mail and other papers also covered this (articles not online).

Photos of a flying Dalek appeared in today's "News of the World" (actually, a photo of the Dalek as seen in the latest trailers, as well as a photo of the underside of a Dalek on a staircase). The tabloid mentioned the return of the Cybermen, too; however, we know that this is only a rumor that's been discounted already (they aren't in this season... well, not exactly.) A photo of the Gelth, the aliens from episode 3, "The Unquiet Dead," appeared in yesterday's The Sun.

Lots of places commenting on last night's gaffe with the Graham Norton voice in the BBC 1 broadcast. Says BBC News: "The Time Lord had Graham Norton breathing down his neck too, as a technical problem meant the sound from Strictly Dance Fever was briefly played over the opening scenes of Doctor Who. 'There was a technical problem which was resolved as quickly as possible,' a BBC spokesperson said. 'We apologise if it affected viewers' enjoyment of Doctor Who.'" Says the Sunday Express: "The BBC was last night probing an embarrassing technical blunder which allowed the voice of Graham Norton to drown out Dr Who's triumphant return to the small screen" they happily exaggerate. However, they do go on to point out that "...last night's technical problems echoed technical difficulties with the very first episode of Dr Who." A BBC spokesperson says that "It was a technical problem which meant the voice of Graham Norton - who had been presenting Strictly Dance Fever on BBC1 - continued faintly when his show transferred to BBC3 on digital. It only affected the first few minutes of Dr Who and we apologise to any viewers whose enjoyment was in any way impaired." BBC3 did run the show this evening without the voiceover... but of course, with the BBC THREE logo emblazoned on it for the entire broadcast!

Last night's Tommy Boyd Show on BBC Southern Counties radio apparently had a great response. The folks at the Tommy Boyd Shrine wrote us to say that "For those who missed Dalek mastermind among many other features, we have the show up on the site now," so click on the link.

The Independent says Doctor Who puts his sonic screwdriver to work to boost BBC funds: "The mysterious silver gadget has helped to keep the Daleks and assorted life forms at bay for hundreds of years - when it actually worked. Now Doctor Who's unreliable sonic screwdriver is expected to become one of the must-have toys this Christmas."

Today's Sunday Herald and This is London mention that "a Doctor Who fan prompted a security alert when he posed as a Dalek outside the Houses of Parliament. Ken Meikle, 46, from Barrhead, Renfrewshire, was filming a promotional video for a stage version of the sci-fi classic. But armed Metropolitan Police officers suddenly confronted the "alien invader" as he approached Parliament over London's Tower Bridge."

Oh, and the "Can Doctor Who Be Gay?" article reran in today's Sunday Independent...

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Chuck Foster, Paul Hayes, Andrew Hearne, John Paul Street, David Traynier)

Saturday, 26 March 2005

Saturday Morning Coverage


March 26, 2005  •  Posted By Shaun Lyon
Some of the press and updates from Saturday morning, today on Opening Day:

Last night, Mark Cossey, Executive Producer of Doctor Who Confidential on BBC Three was on BBC Midnight. He had little to say, beyond "Please watch it." We heartily agree - watch it!

Today's Financial Times says "the BBC's reincarnation of Doctor Who is likely to give some middle-aged viewers a rude awakening." "Is anyone better placed to illustrate just how fast time travels than Doctor Who? Tonight's Easter weekend resurrection of the Doctor is going to make some uncomfortable viewing for middle-aged fans," says Robert Shrimsley. "It may be he who is the alien, but the manner and style of his return makes it all too painfully clear that is we who now inhabit a different planet from our youth. Anyone looking to relive their childhood by dragging their puzzled and nonplussed spawn in front of the television to watch the 'show I loved when I was your age' is set for a rude awakening. For it is not only in the significantly enhanced special effects that the much-heralded return of the Doctor leaves those who knew him the first time around clearly aware of how time has passed us by. The revival is, above everything else, one of those Hornby train set moments where parents have to bite their tongues and remember that this is meant to be for their children. ... While we may still have the Daleks and the Tardis, the monsters and the (quite) glamorous assistant, this reincarnation is largely aimed - as it always was - at the young

Also in today's Financial Times, a discussion of Russell T Davies' influences. "No television drama has ever stoked the imaginations of its fans quite like Doctor Who. When the BBC decided to axe the time-travel fantasy because of falling ratings in 1989 after a run of 26 years, the Doctor's devotees fought back in a unique way: they started making up their own stories. It was reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451 where, in a future without culture, members of the resistance defiantly commit great works of literature to memory. The fans simply refused to accept the doctor's demise. They produced novels (there are now about 350), audio plays and animated stories on the internet to keep the character alive. ... The Doctor's appeal goes deeper than mere nostalgia. As a child, Davies dreamed of discovering the Tardis somewhere in his hometown of Swansea and running away with the Doctor to frolic in a world of limitless imagination and adventure. ... 'Doctor Who made me a writer,' says Davies. 'It really did. My earliest memory is of William Hartnell turning into Patrick Troughton. I was only three at the time. You forget how strong it is when you are a kid. I used to make up Doctor Who stories. I used to walk home from school burning with them!'" It goes on to mention that "One of the ironies of Doctor Who is that, for all the power of the Time Lords of Gallifrey, the show itself has proved pitifully vulnerable to the passing of a mere handful of decades. Most episodes from the 1960s, including a glorious story about monstrous yetis in the London Underground that gave me nightmares when I was nine, have been lost. They survive only as stills, scripts, sound recordings and memory. Russell T. Davies wouldn't have it any other way. 'I love the fact we are missing episodes. How romantic is that? All these programmes we'll just have to imagine forever!' He is adamant that the new series must concern itself with both the present and future. 'It has got to be for new viewers. Even for the old viewers it's got to be new, otherwise there is no point. Otherwise, you become a nostalgic pastiche.'"

Today's Daily Record says that "a fortune is being gambled on tonight's big telly clash - Doctor Who versus Ant and Dec. Viewers will be torn between Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper's new adventures in the Tardis and the Geordies' show featuring David Beckham. Bookies have been taking hundreds of bets on the winners, with Ant and Dec, who usually get eight million viewers, edging in front. Ladbrokes spokesman Warren Lush said: 'I can't remember the last time there was such expectations over a new drama series like Doctor Who. The bookmaking industry is taking a five-figure sum over this and many hundreds of pounds from individuals. Most of the money has been for Ant and Dec. You can't underestimate them, and it's typical that they have David Beckham on. He could clinch it for them.' But he added: 'The BBC could have a slow-burner on their hands, as Doctor Who's audience grows to win the war.'" Today's Scotsman also mentions the challenge with Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. "Doctor Who fans are trembling with anticipation today û and itÆs not from behind their sofas through fear of the dreaded Daleks. They will be glued to their televisions tonight, having had to wait 16 years for the Time Lord to return to BBC1." They note that bookies Ladbrokes have cut the odds on Ant and DecÆs Saturday Night Takeaway winning the ratings battle with BBC1Æs Dr Who from 8/11 to 1/2, while the sci-fi classic has drifted from evens to 6/4. Ladbrokes spokesman Warren Lush said: "Money suggests Ant and Dec will take away the highest ratings but we havenÆt seen such an intense battle for viewers on Saturday night since the finals of Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor went head-to-head at the end of last year."

Today's The Sun interviews a Doctor Who fan who says "his obsession saved him from mental illness. The show took over Will Hadcroft as a teenager, driving him to tape-record episodes, collect memorabilia and even build his own K9. Will, who first sought help for anxiety attacks, was told by experts his obsession had helped him cope with AspergerÆs syndrome, a form of autism. He said: 'I always felt like an alien, like IÆd fallen to Earth from somewhere else. I used to wish I had a Tardis I could get in. My psychiatrist said, æYou are not mentally ill, but if you had not used the show as an escape route you almost certainly would have beenÆ.' Will, a 34-year-old bank worker from Bolton, Lancs, has written a book about his condition which was endorsed by his favourite Dr Who, Colin Baker." (Will is also a reader and contributor to Outpost Gallifrey, and we salute him for the opportunity to give the interview!)

The Sun today had a picture today of ghosts haunting the Doctor and Rose in "The Unquiet Dead". "The spirit, called a Gelth, appears in the third episode, when the Time Lord and Rose travel back to Victorian Cardiff. They link up with novelist Charles Dickens to battle the ethereal creature. Talk about Grave Expectations." The Sun also calls Doctor WhoBest New Series in its What to Watch This Weekend listings.

The Independent discusses feminism in an article "The Prognosis for Feminism is Not Good" in which there's an interesting paragraph of note: "How lovely, then, to see that one little corner of the debate remains relatively uncomplicated. Reams of wordage have been dedicated to considering the issue of whether Billie Piper will make a properly emancipated assistant to Doctor Who, or whether she will descend, as so many have before her, into damsel-on-the-train-track cliche. Less intellectual energy has been spent on considering how it is that while the good Doctor can travel through time and space with ease, the body that is so marvellously mutable never manages, even briefly, to adopt a new gender."

Director James Hawes, who helmed the two part 1940's serial by Steven Moffat for this first season, discusses his thoughts in today's Independent. "I am not a Dr Who geek. True, I strode off in 1978 from my rural comprehensive to Oxford in a Tom Baker outfit, but I quickly dumped the scarf, got a girlfriend and honestly never gave The Doctor a thought for 20 years. Then, when my son Owain was four and I 40, I happened on a second- hand video shop during one of those long, wet, quality-time Sunday afternoons that hung-over, part-time single parents so heartily dread. Among the piles of old Disney films on VHS, I saw a Dr Who from the black-and-white days. I hadn't even known they existed. The title set off little bells of memory. I bought it and we retired to the sofa. Owain loved it - he jumped and hid in delighted fear, just as I'd done - but it scared the existential hell out of me." The article notes that Hawes has a new book coming out, "Speak for England" (we assume this is the same person as the director, anyway!)

Today's Times says "Abandon hope, all you who press Enter here" as it discusses futuristic gadgets with a brief DW mention: "Doctor Who landed back on sublunary screens last night. His pet gizmo is a 'sonic screwdriver'. This is a state-of-the-art MerlinÆs wand. It unlocks the high-tech traps that encompass Doctor Who about the Tardis. His is the sort of magical multitasking tool that all do-it-yourself girls and boys dream of finding in their Christmas stockings."

The Telegraph today says that after a long absence, "smack, bang, up-to-date. It works. Thumbs up. Let them live. It is like watching a completely new programme but with enough references to the great tradition to make it authentic. It has the Tardis, the monsters, the female companion responsible for the sexual awakening of boy viewers everywhere, the sonic screwdriver and that crucial balance between scariness and comedy. But no scarves. Gone are the flamboyance and the air of theatricality. The theme tune is more edgily orchestrated, like the whole show. Christopher Eccleston's doctor, with his black leather jacket and northern accent, is modern, urban and of today, manically driven by his desire to save the world." It notes that its popularity "is not for an adult to say. My teenage son twice purred 'This is really cool,' which augurs well. But he worried that his friends would not watch it. 'It's sad watching programmes your parents liked.' Do these children have no sense of tradition?"

There is a mention of Doctor Who on the the Red Dwarf website today. It encourages people to watch the show because it's british sci-fi, has a good writing team, but mostly because it has two Red Dwarf Alum, Mike Tucker of Special effects fame, and actor Joseph Green seen on Red Dwarf VIII. You can visit the Red Dwarf official site here. (Hey, isn't it time for the boys from the Dwarf to come back too!?!?)

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Matt Landry, Chuck Foster)

Episode 1 Transmission Error


March 26, 2005  •  Posted By Shaun Lyon
For those of you tuned into BBC1 today for the broadcast of the first episode, "Rose", your ears were not deceiving you... that was actually BBC3 sound-bleeding into the BBC1 broadcast, and not presenter Graham Norton actually being inserted into the broadcast. This Sunday's repeat is likely not to have that faux pas included in the broadcast

BBC Site Changes


March 26, 2005  •  Posted By Shaun Lyon
The official site at the BBC has been altered; instead of the countdown there is a splash page with more items on it, as well as further downloads and a guide to the episode "Rose". Additional information is expected to come in the near future. In addition, the "Who Is Doctor Who?" site -- the BBC's "fake" site based on a plot point in the first episode, has been altered now (note: this contains some fairly massive spoilers, so don't visit that unless you are prepared!)

Saturday Night Wrapup


March 26, 2005  •  Posted By Shaun Lyon
It's been a very long day here at Outpost Gallifrey, and your editor is exhausted... so instead of the lengthy and time-consuming round-up of press clippings from the day, here instead is a list of links from today's press and newspapers, courtesy Chuck Foster of the DWAS and Paul Engelberg and Steve Tribe. There will be more coming tomorrow at some point.

March 27 - Early Reviews
The Observer
Sunday Mail
Sunday Herald
The Telegraph

March 26 (and prior)
CBBC, waiting ratings
CBBC, "What did you think of Dr Who?"
BBC News, Sylvester McCoy review
UK Gay News, commentary
DeHavilland, ratings war
Simon Harris weblog review of Rose
BBC News, fan gathering in Farringdon
Telegraph, preview
Guardian, preview
Globe and Mail, preview
Sun, who was in Who (brief online version)
Sun, Will Hadcroft (fan) interview on Aspergers Syndrome
Scotsman, series return and ratings battle (also here)
DigitalSpy, ratings
DigitalSpy, "Living in a Box"
Daily Record, ratings
ITV, ratings
Breaking News, ratings
Mirror, ratings
Times, Whys and Whats of Doctor Who
Times, Who vs Cyberkids
Times, The Mill
Times, Gadgets (sonic screwdriver)
This is North East, return of sereies
Belfast Telegraph, return
News and Star, return
Express and Star, return
This is Devon, Morning News
Sun, frightening moments
Useless Knowledge, commentary
Slugger O'Toole (Ireland), commentary
Belfast Telegraph, review
Ireland Online, ratings
Irish Examiner, ratings
The Age (Australia), commentary
Sunderland Echo, history of the show

Friday, 25 March 2005

Friday Series Updates


March 25, 2005  •  Posted By Shaun Lyon
BBC Radio Wales' flagship breakfast show, Good Morning Wales will feature a short item previewing the new series and interviewing a local fan sometime between 7.15 and 8.30am UK time on Saturday, 26th March 2005.

The Evening Gazette has an interview with new series writer Mark Gatiss. "I didn't sleep for a week after the announcement it was coming back," Gatiss is quoted. "I thought if they don't ask me to write an episode, I'll have to shoot myself. Then Russell called and asked if I would like to do it. The 'it' was the big challenge. Because I'd talked to so many people over so many years about how would you tell a story about the Doctor. I wanted to avoid my story becoming an exercise in nostalgia for the show. But then Russell gave all of the writers vague storylines to work on. I was hoping I'd get the historical storyline and I did." The article also features a brief history of Doctor Who.

BBC South East Wales contacted us to let us know about their special Doctor Who section. "Our site has pictures and background information about the locations in South East Wales where the new series was filmed. We'll be adding detailed location guides and photogalleries as the series progresses."

BBC News today features an article that states that "thanks to Doctor Who, blue police boxes topped with flashing police lights became a national icon during the 1960s." The article goes into the history of the police box and its use in the show, including the new series.

Our correspondent went to the recording of tonight's Friday Night with Jonathan Ross show that featured Christopher Eccleston. There are going to be several spoilers in terms of clips on this show this evening, we're warned, as such: "The aliens running around number 10 - hitting people - the space ship crashing into the Thames - the infamous 'can you stop farting whilst I am trying to save the world' line - the captured Dalek shouting to exterminate the Doctor - the dragon creatures from Father's Day, a shot of Victorian characters being taken over, Gas masked zombies and The Doctor with Charles Dickens - asking who he was 'just a traveller - passing through' - etc." As he tells us, "Also, they get out the prototype toys on sale for next Christmas - they play with the sonic screwdriver and a Chris action figure (could be a talking Doc) it looked that size etc. He had the new gold remote Dalek from the series too (but sadly that never came out and stayed at the side of the desk). The interview was really good - Chris was extremely relaxed and having a nice time. JR took the general mickey about a scally manc Doctor and the size of Chris's ears - all of which was taken in very good humour by Chris. Jonathan did hassle him about how long he was planning on staying in the role and he did not let him off lightly - despite Chris's insistence about only being signed for a year."

The "Video clips" section of the official Doctor Who website now has interviews with script editor and former BBC1 controller (and our hero) Lorraine Heggessey. They're in the Video Diaries section of the Media Player, as "Script Editor" and "The Exec". The player also contains The 60s, the first of three musical tours through the show's history (formerly known, when they've been shown at UK conventions as "The Doctor Who Years").

Today's Guardian "enters the time-warped world of Doctor Who's assistants," with an article discussing the role of the companions. "Few appointments carry the gravitas of the role of Doctor Who's sidekick. Its social and cultural significance is perhaps on a par only with discovering which blue-blooded virgin the heir to the throne will choose to be his bride. With Doctor Who returning to our screens tomorrow after a 14-year absence, the nation will be forced to acquaint itself not only with a new incarnation of the Doctor, in the shape of Christopher Eccleston, but also a new accomplice, Rose Tyler, played by fledgling actor and former teen popstrel Billie Piper. But what can we expect? A continuing of the fine tradition of short skirts and screaming? Or could Piper change the role for ever?" The article quotes Clayton Hickman of DWM, David Howe of Telos Publishing, and Elisabeth Sladen. As Hickman notes: "Russell T Davies is into strong women. If you look at his earlier work, such as Bob and Rose and Queer as Folk, there's always a woman chaperoning the guys. So I don't think Billie will be hobbling down the corridor in high heels. ... Strong women is what you do now. You can't get away with a bit of totty on Doctor Who's arm anymore."

TV Zone Special #62 is out now, and features some nice Doctor Who content. The issue has interviews with Noel Clarke and Camille Coduri, and Lance Parkin talks about wrapping up the Eighth Doctor's fictional life in a special preview of The Gallifrey Chronicles. UK readers can visit the website here, while US readers have their own site here.

The Highbury and Islington Express discusses a party at the Printworks pub that states that "former doctors and stars of the cult series have been invited, along with hundreds of fans."

Yorkshire Today features an article with quotes from Christopher Eccleston. The Scotsman also features Eccleston comments, some re-run from articles in the recent past.

The Harveys furniture retail outlet has run a poll of the "Top 5 Most Frightening Moments" on British TV. Doctor Who weighs in at numbers two and five, with the Daleks and the Cybermen being on the list. The story is run in today'sScotsmanUTV,

Today's The Sun has tonight's "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross" on its "What to Watch Tonight" list today; Christopher Eccleston is on the show tonight. The Sun also notes today how stunning Billie is 'out of this world' while a second report has Billie as "Babe Of The Week". Also in today's Sun, a bit in their TV Biz about the mole being 'exterminated' from his job after leaking Rose on the Internet, and "Dr Whoo" on page 19 featuring a couple of stills from Unquiet Dead. There are several reports on the leak being stopped today, like other days, at the Register and Contact Music as well as a lengthy article at CNet News.

The Media Guardian is running a news report on this Saturday's ratings war between Doctor Who on BBC One and Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway on ITV. Says Timms: "Oxford will clashing oars with Cambridge this weekend and Ireland will be hoping to defeat Israel in the World Cup qualifier, but the struggle of truly galactic proportions will take place in living rooms across the UK on Saturday night." He goes on to outline the bookmakers' odds on which show will triumph, reporting: " 'Rather than wasting bets on sports events like the Boat Race, the smart money is going on whether Chris and Billie can pull in more viewers than Ant and Dec on ITV1, in a clash perhaps not seen since Jeremy Paxman took on Michael Howard and er... won. "What we are trying to weigh up is the BBC's endless plugging of Doctor Who against Ant and Dec's spoiler tactics of bringing in David Beckham," said bookmakers Paddy Power. "The BBC have been stuck in a time machine with their heavy promoting of the Time Lord's return while Ant and Dec are hitting back with an appearance from David Beckham." The result? Doctor Who is 1/2 while the ITV duo languish on 6/4. Despite all the free plugging and a significant marketing push, the Doctor and Rose face an uphill slog if they are going to overturn the sultans of Saturday night TV, who pulled in 8.2 million viewers last Saturday and 8.4 million the week before. And that's almost what Sporting Index, the darlings of high-rolling city punters, predict is going to happen. "The last price we had was that Doctor Who would attract 8.25 million," said Sporting Index's Bill Esdaile, before trading was suspended, perhaps because of the appearance of Beckham and Mariah Carey on Ant and Dec. But Blue Square is less bullish about Doctor Who, even given the added support of Graham Norton's new show Strictly Dance Fever, which will immediately precede the sci-fi series opener. "Even with all the press Doctor Who has generated, I still think Ant and Dec will win," said Blue Square, which makes Ant and Dec odds-on favourites at 1/3 and Doctor Who at 9/4. Those looking for a little more guidance before rushing out with their life savings may want to look at how the two shows are faring in terms of internet searches. According to web measurement specialist Hitwise, the pint-sized Geordies' share of online searches has fallen in the face of an intergalactic onslaught. Currently there are 50% more people looking for the phrase 'new Doctor Who' than searching for 'Ant and Dec.' "

DWAS's Antony Wainer was on BBC Radio Essex this morning on the Dave Monk show to talk about the series' return, and there were a few bits including a Russell T Davies interview on BBC Radio Wales's Nicola Heywood Thomas show.

The 25 March edition of the Yorkshire Post newspaper includes interviews with Christopher Eccleston and DWAS Coordinator Ian Wheeler. Wheeler also appeared on Radio York on the 25 March to promote the new series and will appear again on Monday 28th March to review the first episode.

The Winston Salem Journal in America features a mention of the new series in their TV Tidbits column. "Doctor Who will be making its return to television in Britain this weekend. But the enduring British science-fiction saga still hasn't found an American distributor," along with other comments about the program.

Today's Guardian covers the appointment of Peter Fincham as Controller of BBC One, and includes "advice" to him from various pundits, including John Whittingdale MP (the Conservative Party's spokesman on Culture): "It's a terribly important job - there's no shortage of programmes made by BBC1 which do not meet that public service remit. Less Fame Academy, certainly. And EastEnders is a whole different debate. I do, however, applaud the return of Doctor Who."

Tonight's Now Show (Friday March 25) features a number of Doctor Who gags as well as a new Doctor Who based song by comedy writer Mitch Benn. It goes out on BBC Radio 4 at 18.30 GMT and is repeated tomorrow at 12.30, and will be available on BBC radio player after the Saturday repeat.

On Radio 2 this morning, DJ Richard Allinson was asking listeners to nominate their "scariest Doctor Who monster". Allinson's approach was somewhat jokey - some listeners took it seriously, others less so! Allinson excluded the Daleks because he wasn't convinced by them (and is surely one of the few people in the country still doing the "stairs" comment!) Among the nominees were Sutekh, the Sea Devils, Aggedor ("a hairy pig thing who lived in the dungeons of a castle"), Scaroth ("who was Julian Glover until he took his mask off, and then he was a wet privet hedge with one eye"), K-9, Bonnie Langford, and "Billie Piper's eyebrows."

In an editorial in this weeks New Musical Express, NME writer Dan Martin gets enthusiastic about the new series, explaining why Dr. Who is a "classic rock'n'roll star." Some highlights: "... British folklore feeds off our history of exploration, mad scientists, freaks and (yes) libertines ... in other words, the history of rock'n'roll. And so, therefore, does our sci-fi. Which makes our greatest, soon to be revived export the ultimate libertine and the most rock'n'roll TV character ever."; "He's a renegade timelord on a vigilante mission with a series of scantily-clad chicks"; "Whether it's John and Yoko's bed-in, Rickey Manic cutting 4-Real into his arm to prove a point to a journalist or Bono using his superfame to shame the G8 leaders, rock'n'roll history is a succession of colourful eccentrics, all on their own ridiculous missions to help good triumph over evil."; and "For the first time ever, Doctor Who is about to become cool. And there's nothing any of you f**kers can do about it! (evil laughter, to fade."

Frazer Hines was on BBC Look North for East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire last night at 6.30 talking about the new Doctor Who series, though we don't have any details.

The BBC's weekly Science and Nature e-mail newsletter, which describes recent articles on BBC Web sites relating to science and nature, also has a section listing highlights of science and nature programming on the BBC in the coming week. This week they've included Doctor Who as one of the "TV and Radio Choices" in among the documentary and factual programs.

Morning Ireland, the Irish version of Today, broadcast an item on the return of Doctor Who to the BBC on March 23. It didn't feature clips from the new show but did use clips from older episodes. The spot was mostly Irish fans memories of Dr Who plus some comments about hope for the new series. The show's website is here.

Finally, Choices Direct now has blurbs for the first two DVD set releases in the UK for the new series, as in the box below.

(Thanks to Steve Tribe, Paul Engelberg, Chuck Foster, Paul Hayes, Timothy Farr, Ian Wheeler, Neal Douglas, Bob Fischer, Dan McGrath, Daniel Blythe, Darren Kramble, David Shepherdson, Michael Blumenthal, Stephen Graves, Steve Freestone, Jamie Austin, Nathan "Obstreperous" and the BBC South East Wales team)
NEW SERIES DVD RELEASES

DVD Release #1: May 16

Doctor Who is back. With his seemingly inexhaustible spirit of adventure, the Time Lord makes a welcome return, in his ninth incarnation, as he continues to travel space and time meeting friends and enemies, both old and new. Written by Russell T Davies (Queer As Folk, Bob And Rose, Second Coming, Casanova), the show stars Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. He is joined by Rose (Billie Piper), his new companion, who hopes to escape her unhappy life and prove her true worth. Contains three episodes. Rose - The Doctor and Rose meet and soon face trouble in the shape of the Autons. The End Of The World - The two travel to the year five billion where representatives from many different planets have gathered to commemorate the end of the world... The Unquiet Dead - Victorian Cardiff is their destination. Here they meet Charles Dickens as well as some spooky aliens.

DVD Release #2: June 13

Doctor Who is back. With his seemingly inexhaustible spirit of adventure, the Time Lord makes a welcome return, in his ninth incarnation, as he continues to travel space and time meeting friends and enemies, both old and new. Written by Russell T Davies (Queer As Folk, Bob And Rose, Second Coming, Casanova), the show stars Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. He is joined by Rose (Billie Piper), his new companion, who hopes to escape her unhappy life and prove her true worth. Contains three episodes: Aliens Of London, World War Three and Dalek.