Actor Michael Sheard, one of Doctor Who's most prolific guest actors, died today of cancer at his home on the Isle of Wight according to a BBC News report and a statement on the actor'swebsite. He was 65. Sheard appeared six times during the course of the series, with appearances in "The Ark," "The Mind of Evil," "The Invisible Enemy" and "Castrovalva" as well as his most familiar roles as Laurence Scarman in "Pyramids of Mars" and the Headmaster in "Remembrance of the Daleks". Sheard later returned to Doctor Who for Big Finish in the audio "The Stones of Venice" as Count Orsino. He was best known on British television in the role of Mr. Bronson on BBC1's "Grange Hill," and made his mark on popular film as Admiral Ozzel (who met his fate at Darth Vader's hand) in "The Empire Strikes Back", as a U-boat captain in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and in a brief cameo as Adolf Hitler in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade". He was also seen in roles in "Coronation Street," "Dixon of Dock Green," "Crossroads," "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet," "On The Buses," "The Tomorrow People" and countless guest starring roles. Sheard was also a very popular guest at Doctor Who and Star Wars conventions for the past twenty years -- his last appearance was just last month in St. Louis -- and was the author of four books about his memoirs, which included his recollections about years of conventions around the world.
As previously reported, Doctor Who music was featured as part of the Blue Peter annual children's prom, focusing on the BBC's season of classical music concerts, at Royal Albert Hall in London, highlights of which comprised today's show. One of the pieces of music played by he orchestra was an arrangement of the "Doctor Who" theme, during which a Dalek appeared much to the delight of the children in the audience, wandering around the edge of the orchestra pit threatening to exterminate and so forth, before eagerly pursuing "Blue Peter" presenter Liz after she attempted to interview it. During the performance of the theme tune, there were also some clips shown from the recent David Tennant edition of the programme. (Thanks to Paul Hayes)
Catching up on some recent Doctor Who press clips:
According to a report in The Scotsman, new BBC1 controller Peter Fincham spoke recently at the Edinburgh Television Festival to "set out his ambition for a popular network that would bring families around the set, through shows such as Doctor Who, despite predictions that the 'iPod generation' now only wanted media served on-demand. The new controller announced a focus on comedy drama and said the network would continue to produce the historic period-piece dramas for which it was well known." The article says that Fincham highlighted Doctor Who "as an example of a programme that drew new, younger audiences into the BBC in a family viewing experience. He also predicted that in an age of proliferating digital channels, BBC1 would be the trust-brand viewers would keep turning to for major live events. 'It is tempting to assume that the shared experience is in terminal decline, but the urge to be part of a bigger audience, and the satisfaction that we derive from it, is a strong one," he said. "In a time-shifted world, live events - Live 8 is a good example - assume a greater importance than ever.'"
The Telegraph reported that the stock of Character Group "jumped 7 1/2 to 57 1/2p after unveiling plans to launch a Dr Who range of toys in the next few weeks. The toy range, which is based on the BBC TV series, has been developed in partnership with the public service broadcaster." A press release by the company noted that the toy range "includes a Talking Tardis Money Box, the Sonic Screwdriver, an LCD game and 3D Walkie Talkies and The Dalek. Richard King, Chairman of The Character Group said: 'The first bulk shipment of the radio controlled Daleks will hit the stores within the next two weeks and, whilst the demand for all our Dr Who products is very encouraging, we would expect that the demand for the radio controlled Dalek, will far exceed our manufacturing capacity to Christmas of 150,000 units'." Also reported at This Is Money.
There's a new version of the classic police box in Glasgow, says the Evening Times. "It looks like it has landed from outer space, but this hi-tech box is the latest crime-busting device used by police in Glasgow. The city's new police box would not look out of place in an episode of Dr Who, but the 'tardis' will remain at St Enoch Square. Sitting prominently near the entrance to the subway station at the bottom of Buchanan Street, the box will be a vital tool in solving crime in the city centre and will be used by officers across the division. The chrome box stands at 10ft tall and is the first operational police box in the city since 1969, when radios made them redundant. It will be protected by CCTV and will allow instant reporting of incidents. If successful, more space age boxes could be materialising on a street near you. Police boxes were once a familiar site across the city, but very few remain. There is still a vintage box on Buchanan Street, which serves as a tourist information point and another on Great Western Road at Byres Road, which has been converted into a coffee shop. Earlier this year, a worker discovered an old police box embedded in a brick wall. It will go on display at the city's police museum next spring." Also reported by Strathclyde Police, BBC News, Glasgow Evening Times, Scotland Today.
Tom Baker is interviewed in a BBC press release about the seventh and final season of "Monarch of the Glen" in which he plays Donald MacDonald. Says Baker in the interview, "I enjoy overacting and I'm very good at it - I suppose you could say I've made a career out of it. Donald MacDonald is a part I can have fun with, which is marvellous because I have a horror of self pity and I try to see the funny side of everything. As you get near death, as I am, you have to laugh at everything - otherwise the alternative is to be utterly depressed." He notes that he enjoyed filming a scene with a real-life panther for a very dramatic Monarch storyline later in the run. "Oh, the panther was wonderful!' exclaims Tom. "One of my best co-stars ever, because let's face it, cats are so much more interesting to look at in close-up than actors." Read more of the interview in the press release; it's on the fifth page.
The Daily Star says that Billie Piper "blooms in sexy black" in some new photos in today's issue. "The 22-year-old, who plays the Time Lord's sidekick in the smash BBC series Dr Who, looks sexier than ever in this sensational new photoshoot. And it seems the show's famous Tardis is now about to transport our Billie to global superstardom. ... Her gorgeous curves and sexy pout have helped win the cult sci-fi show a whole new generation of fans - and earned her plenty of hot offers from telly and film bosses." Last weekend's Sunday Mirror discussed recent sightings of Piper, which noted that "She's apparently been filming from 11pm to 5am every night in Cardiff, which means her days are often spent in bed catching up on sleep so it's no wonder she hit the pub at the first opportunity."
BBC News reported last week that "three workers on Brighton Pier hid in the Doctor Who exhibition today (Tues) during a police and immigration department raid. Forty police officers and immigration workers entered the pier at 0850 BST on Tuesday and rounded up about 60 staff. The Home Office has said it was an intelligence-led operation. The pier re-opened at 1220 BST. The 60 staff were questioned in a fish and chip shop on the pier, which was shut to the public. The immigration service said most of the people involved co-operated but three people had hidden in the pier's Dr Who exhibition."
An article at the VH1 website discusses Eric Roberts (the Master in the 1996 TV movie) in two music videos, two by Mariah Carey and one by the group The Killers.
Several papers have run a brief article about gay actors/characters on television including noting John Barrowman's recent portrayal of Captain Jack, including the Washington Blade, the Houston Voice (Texas), and the Southern Voice (Georgia).
In The Observer last week (21 August 2005), there was a section in which critics were invited to pick out the most overrated moments in art and the media. Kathryn Flett picked out four moments in TV, including: "Dr Who: Russell T Davies has done wonders, admittedly, but the original was cheap, dull, creaky and parochial." Ugh.
According to the Diamond Comics distributor site, there will be a new special coming soon from the creators of DWM, "The Story of Doctor Who". "Discover the complete history of Doctor Who in the words of those who made the program! This 100-page special gathers together, for the first time anywhere, a huge array of interviews with those in front of and behind the cameras - from the entire 42-year run of the series. Including many never-before-seen photos, this is a must-have for Doctor Who fans, and a great introduction to the series for newcomers." According to the site, this will be out in November. (Thanks to Robin Shannon)
David Tennant features on the cover on the latest issue ofDreamwatch magazine -- which is now on sale -- and is a featured interview inside the magazine. "It's not like any other acting job," Tennant tells Dreamwatch, "just with the amount of attention that it gets. I've done all sorts of different things. That's all been great fun, but suddenly I get cast as Doctor Who and it was on the news! [laughs] I was visiting my mum and dad, and we were sitting in the kitchen having breakfast, and it came on the news. That's just a whole other world of attention. It's great. It's fantastic to be involved with something that's loved and that people get excited about it. It's a privilege to be a part of that history, but it's kind of daunting as well." He says he was approached for the role because "I was working with Russell T. Davies, the main writer and creative head of it, on Casanova at the end of last year. I knew him through that. Unbeknownst to me, that was my audition. It came up after that, when they knew that Chris Eccleston was moving on. They just asked me to do it. I didn't have to [formally] audition because I had done Casanova. That became my audition because I'd been working so closely with Russell. I didn't know that Doctor Who was a possibility then, and it probably wasn't at that point." Was it true that he had to keep the news quiet? "I couldn't tell anyone. It was such a high voltage secret, I was just aware that there was really no choice. I wanted to tell everyone, of course, but it was pretty hard. My agent was the only person that I could talk to about it." How did it feel when Tom Baker endorsed you for the part? "I heard about this. I was completely thrilled. That's really lovely. I haven't actually confirmed it. I've only heard it third-hand, and of course I never believe anything I read in the papers. I hope it's true. I'm choosing to believe it's true. I'm a huge fan of his." The issue also features an interview with comic creator Bryan Hitch, who served as concept artist on the revival of Doctor Who, where he talks about revamping the TARDIS, the Daleks and offers tantalising clues about the new Cybermen. Visit the Dreamwatch website for more information.
The UK television website Off The Telly has published two new Doctor Who-themed interviews. Writer and broadcasterAndrew Collins, who was featured as a commentator on the "Doctor Who Confidential" documentary series, haswritten about his experience of working in a Big Finish play: "It was calming for my non-actorly nerves to get to Stockwell first, follow those instructions through the blue gate, get my bearings and chat to Toby (BBC experience has taught me always to make friends with studio engineers!) You are greeted with tea, coffee, water, wooden fruit bowls piled high with miniature chocolate bars and Wotsits, and a Travel Connect Four for longueurs. Although the green room itself - positioned in the bowels of the modest studio complex - has more air conditioning ducts than actual room, the oppressive piping gives it a Doctor Who space-station feel." Also,Gary Russell of Big Finish enjoys a very revealinginterview with Graham Kibble-White in which he discusses Big Finish's current state of affairs, the effect of the new series and fandom as a whole: "It's good for them to have [Big Finish] on their merchandise list, every month there's a brand new Doctor Who CD audio drama with original cast. Every month there's a Doctor Who book. Every month there's something new from whoever the new toy licensees are. It shows their bosses upstairs that Doctor Who is a viable license." Read each interview at the website. (Thanks to Stuart Ian Burns, Graham Kibble-White)
Issue 71 of Time Space Visualiser (TSV), the fanzine of the New Zealand Doctor Who fanclub, is out now. Inside, David Bishop discusses the writing of his novel "Empire of Death"; Jon Preddle traces the purchasing history of Doctor Who by New Zealand broadcasters; Andrew Pixley discusses material cut from The Ambassadors of Death; the new series is reviewed the reactions of older fans are compared with those of unsuspecting school children to the first episode; plus news and reviews and more. TSV is available by mail order and PayPal is accepted. For more details visit www.doctorwho.org.nz. (Thanks to Adam McGechan)
Tenth Planet have sent us the artwork for the 2006Doctor Who Calendar, both front and back (though noting that the images may be subject to change at a later time). Click on the thumbnail for a larger version (note, though, that this is a very large file!) The calendar is due in the middle of September 2005.
Big Finish has released details about the forthcomingCyberman audio series, written and directed by Nicholas Briggs and script-edited by John Ainsworth. "The human race is about to become extinct," says the site. "Mankind is fighting a long and costly war with its android creations in the Orion System. The deadlock must be broken at all costs. The president of Earth must think the unthinkable... 'There is nothing to fear'." The cover for part one, Scorpius due in September, is at right; parts two through four are Fear, Conversion and Telos and will be released in October through December. Click on the thumbnail for a larger version.
The upcoming biography of Nicholas Courtney, "Still Getting Away With It" written by Courtney and Michael McManus, will have a special edition release at the upcoming Regenerations convention next month. A brand new cover, specially done for the convention, has been announced byScificollector, who are publishing the special edition. "This is a limited edition that we have done in this special cover for the event," says Scificollector's Steven Scott. "However recognising that there will be some collectors who cant get to Swansea, we have reserved a quantity of 100 which can be ordered from our website (should be up by tomorrow). These will not be despatched until after the Swansea weekend, but we thought that Outpost Gallifrey's readers would want early notice of this new publication."
Meanwhile, Tom Baker has been announced as making a rare UK signing appearance on October 20 to co-launch the regular edition of the biography. Baker will be joined by Courtney and actorFrazer Hines (Jamie) and other guests. Further details will be announced soon at the Scificollector website. (Thanks to Steven Scott)
The new series will return to BBC television in October, as the digital channel UK Gold acquires rights to rebroadcast the first season. UK Gold will screen "Rose," "The End of the World" and "The Unquiet Dead" starting at 7pm on Sunday, 23 October; each subsequent day will feature two more episodes, with the final two on 28 October. Weekend repeats of each episode will begin immediately thereafter, broadcasting on Saturdays at 6pm and Sundays at 9pm. Meanwhile, UK Gold is now running an advert for the return, entitled "The Good, the Gay and the Ugly" (the middle section referring to the series 'Little Britain'); says our correspondent, "this is trailing the reruns of the 9th Doctor series on UK Gold (the Moxx of Balhoon is used to represent 'the Ugly'). No transmission times or dates are given in the advert, though." (Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Mark Francome)
Stuntman and stunt arranger Alf Joint died on July 25. He worked on two Doctor Who stories, "The Ambassadors of Death" and "Battlefield," the latter where he was a stunt arranger.
The official site is promoting the Blue Peter screening of parts of the Blue Peter Prom, including the Who theme and the Daleks. It will air on Wednesday, 31 August.
The BBC's CBeebies digital channel is re-running the 'Bedtime Hour' stories read by Christopher Eccleston this at about 6.30pm from Monday 29 August to Friday 2 September, according to theirwebsite.
The Blue Peter site's regular poll on viewers' favourite bits of the show currently stands as follows: What has been your favourite item on the show recently? VJ day special (26 votes) (12%), Doctor Who competition and David Tennant (116 votes) (52%), McFly (83 votes) (37%).
Doctor Who maintains its lead on the CBBC site in the favourite TV programme poll, which asks "What's your favourite TV programme?" Doctor Who has 16.43% of the vote, followed by 14.48% for The Simpsons, 12.40% for Charmed, 11.37% for Lost, 10.22% for Friends.
Finally... a curiosity. Many fans have noticed that, in this month's issue of Doctor Who Magazine, Russell T. Davies may have put a code in his Production Notes column. The information says, if you put together the first letter of every paragraph, it spells 'Tim is gay'. We have no idea what that refers to, if anything, though stranger things have happened...
BBC News reports that BBC One and BBC Three have taken both channel of the year prizes at the Edinburgh TV Festival. "BBC One was named terrestrial channel of the year, having had ratings success with shows such as Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing. BBC Three beat Sky One, BBC Four, Living TV and UKTV History to the title of non-terrestrial channel of the year." The report notes that BBC One's victory in the terrestrial category ended BBC Two's winning streak, the channel having taken the top prize for the past two years. BBC Three, which ran the Doctor Who Confidential series as well as repeats of Doctor Who, and, indeed, is doing so at the moment, was named non-terrestrial channel of the year, beating Sky One, BBC Four, Living TV and UKTV History. Russell T Davies's Casanova, which starred David Tennant in the title role, was one of the nominees in the programme of the year category, but the award went to Channel 4's Jamie's School Dinners. (Thanks to Steve Tribe, John Bowman, Paul Hayes)
Rumors that Anthony Stewart Head will play the Master in the second Doctor Who series now filming are false, despite Internet reports to the contrary.
The Blue Peter Prom, which features a new arrangement of the Doctor Who theme and a guest appearance by a Dalek, will be shown on Wednesday's edition of Blue Peter at 5.00 pm on BBC One.
BBC7 has debuted another new trailer for its series of Paul McGann Doctor Who audio stories. Running for 1 minute and forty seconds, the trailer again features new material recorded by Paul McGann giving a brief history of his TARDIS ("Time and Relative Dimensions in Space" in this version), and it was broadcast after the final part of "Storm Warning" at just before 7.00pm on Saturday and again at midnight.
Big Finish has discreetly added some material to the Cybermansection of its website, including a video trailer for the new miniseries, which plays with Windows Media Player.
Mad Norwegian Press have told Outpost Gallifrey that their booksAbout Time 1 by Lawrence Miles and Tat Wood and the new version of A History of the Universe by Lance Parkin should see publication before end of year; however, they are currently without specific release dates. "We certainly apologize for the delay and the continual uncertainty about the release date of these books," Pearson told us. "I can only assure our readers that the sort of ambitious reference guides we're trying to produce aren't easy, and most of our current projects have become more complicated than expected, which requires extra time to get everything right. A book like, say, 'About Time 1' lookedcomparativelyeasy compared to the other 'About Time' volumes, but it's running about 50,000 words longer than projected." The remaining volumes of the "About Time" series will receive definitive release dates as they are near completion. (Thanks to Lars Pearson)
According to a BBC News story, BBC Director General Mark Thompson has confirmed that the BBC's TV channels will eventually be made available on the internet. Thompson announced plans for the MyBBCPlayer - which will allow viewers to legally download seven days of programmes - at the Edinburgh Television Festival, and said he hoped the service would launch next year. "We won't deserve or get licence-fee funding beyond 2016... that is very definitely not our plan," said Thompson. Says the report, a simulcast of BBC One or BBC Two, letting UK viewers see programmes on the web at the same time as they go out on TV, is also planned as part of MyBBCPlayer. Said Thompson, "We believe that on-demand changes the terms of the debate, indeed that it will change what we mean by the word 'broadcasting'. Every creative leader in the BBC is wrestling with the question of what the new technologies and audience behaviours mean for them and their service." Audio and video archive material will be made available, as will other items such as BBC material for sale. The story metnions the leak of the first episode of the new Doctor Who series in March, and also notes that "a BBC spokesman said the corporation was aiming to simulcast a channel permanently but would restrict it to UK viewers only. These plans are subject to the approval of the board of governors and the resolution of rights clearance issues on content like music and imported shows." Also reported at Yahoo News. (Thanks to Thomas Jennings, Paul Engelberg)
Amazon.co.uk has revealed two new cover images for the Doctor Who novels being released at the end of this year: Simon Guerrier'sThe Time Travellers starring the First Doctor, Ian and Barbara, and Andrew Cartmel's Atom Bomb Blues starring the Seventh Doctor and Ace. Also, there is now a new, revised cover image for Terrance Dicks' Second Doctor novel World Game; Outpost Gallifrey was informed that the cover illustration previously seen would change slightly at some point, the new cover possessing a different image of Troughton and revised background features. Click on each thumbnail for a larger image.
The intergalactic bounty hunter Death's Head, who has encountered the Doctor on a number of occasions in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine and in his own comic, has won a Marvel comics readers poll and will be revamped in the pages of Amazing Fantasy, according to Marvel Comics. He will appear in issue 16, due in December. Death's Head was created by Simon Furman, Geoff Senior and Bryan Hitch, who later went on to help with the design of the new series of Doctor Who.
According to a BBC press release, "ROK Player has signed an innovative licensing deal with BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm, to release a selection of its major properties for full-length full-screen play on mobile phones," the first time BBC Worldwide has licensed full-length video content for use on mobile phones. Doctor Who and Red Dwarf are among the initial offerings, with "The Five Doctors" (the 20th anniversary story that aired in 1983) and three episodes of Red Dwarf ("Marooned," "Quarantine" and "Cassandra") as part of the initial package. These will work on phones equipped with DVC (digital video chips) from Nokia. Says the release, "ROK Player is working with BBC Worldwide to extend its portfolio of classic BBC TV episodes over the coming months. 'BBC Worldwide is always looking for new opportunities, both in the UK and abroad, that allow consumers to enjoy their favourite TV content again and again, while delivering additional revenues to the BBC and to the talent behind the classic programming. The ROK Player meets these demands, delivering high quality full-length episodes to mobile phones on a commercial basis,' said Marc Humphrey, Business Development Manager, BBC Worldwide." Also widely reported in the media including at BBC News, Cellular News, Broadcast Now, Computing, WhatPC, VNUNet,NetImperative, PhoneContent, Yahoo News,Waveguide,WebProNews, TelephonyWorld, Reuters, The Times,icWales, The Inquirer, The Register,Silicon, VOX Marketing, Digital Lifestyles, Stuff (NZ), news.com.au,Electric News, Symbian, DM Europe,Virgin.net, Softpedia,Manchester Online, PC Pro.
The BBC has issued at press release about the forthcoming third volume of Doctor Who At The BBC from BBC Audio. "Elisabeth Sladen presents another instalment of these hugely successful audio spin-offs featuring an eclectic mix of interviews, features, clips and behind-the-scenes extracts from the past and present worlds of Doctor Who. Researchers have combed the avenues of Time and Space, and the basements of Broadcasting House for this compilation of spin-off moments from the much-loved TV and radio series. In an exclusive coup, this third volume features a rarely heard, ten minute mini-drama starring Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen. Specially recorded for Glorious Goodwood in 1974, it has never been broadcast and features a host of familiar enemies û including the Daleks! Elsewhere on this two-disc volume, the radio programme Wavelength meets the cast and production team of The Two Doctors; Nationwide investigates the work of the Radiophonic Workshop in 1983; and a group of schoolchildren give their views on the series in Take Two from 1984. The Grumbleweeds enjoy their own exciting adventure in Dr Nobbut-Just; 'Ann Robinson' menaces the Doctor in Dead Ringers; and Jane Asher plays the Doctor's granddaughter in Whatever Happened to...Susan Foreman? Rare interview material includes Frank Bough's Nationwide encounter with fourth Doctor Tom Baker (plus Mary Tamm and Carole Ann Ford), Lalla Ward's appearance on Multi-coloured Swap Shop, and a mid-Eighties radio interview with Sarah Sutton. There are also features on the brand new Doctor Who, including comments from Russell T Davies and Christopher Eccleston, and even the seal of approval from Michael Grade..." The audio is released on September 5.
Overnight ratings figures are in for the current run of repeat showings of the new series on BBC Three:
Rose (17 July) 165,300 1.5% share Rose (22 July) 139,900 1% share The End of the World (24 July) 162,000 1.2% share The End of the World (29 July) 151,500 1.0% share The Unquiet Dead (31 July) 227,000 1.8% share The Unquiet Dead (5 August) 89,500 0.6% share Aliens of London (7 August) 215,200 1.8% share Aliens of London (12 August) 101,300 0.7% share World War Three (14 August) 226,300 1.7% share World War Three (19 August) 200,200 1.4% share
While these figures don't put the repeats in BBC Three's Top Ten (currently reaching 250,000-400,000 viewers), they are comparable to what the channel has achieved with other programmes in the Friday 9pm timeslot (about 140,000), and a marked improvement on the 78,000 achieved by T in the Park on 10 July, the Sunday before the repeats started. The Doctor Who repeats are also achieving a similar or slightly improved audience share to other BBC Three output in those slots. (Thanks to Nick Salmond, Steve Tribe)
According to a press release from the BBC Press Office,John Leeson will reprise the role of the robotic sidekick K9, last seen during the original series in the twentieth anniversary story "The Five Doctors" in 1983, in the new series. The appearance of the robot dog was rumored on Outpost Gallifrey as far back as early July, but this is the first official confirmation of the appearance. "Today David Tennant, the Tenth Time Lord, will be reunited with two of his favourite and most iconic companions - Sarah Jane Smith and the faithful robot dog, K9," says the press release. "K9, who was the loyal friend to Tom Baker's Doctor between 1977 and 1981, joins Sarah Jane Smith, the Doctor, Rose and Mickey in a fight against the evil Krillitanes. John Leeson, the voice of K9, says: 'I am delighted to have been invited back on board the series - and a little gathered rust is no object to a fully functional K9!' Producer Phil Collinson adds: 'It is great to be welcoming K9 back to Doctor Who. A whole generation fondly remember him as an ever-faithful companion and best friend to Tom Baker's Doctor. I hope the new generation of viewers will fall in love with him in the same way. I'm sure he's going to prove an invaluable help to the Doctor in the fight against intergalactic evil.'" Leeson joins Elisabeth Sladen, previously confirmed returning to the role of Sarah Jane Smith from the original series. Says Sladen, "I am so thrilled to be back and I feel so empowered by the affection that [the whole team] have for Sarah Jane Smith and for the programme. Toby Whithouse's script is wonderful - it's an absolutely truthful progression of Sarah. I just hope I can live up to their expectation, and I hope I can still run as fast after 30 years!" The episode, "School Reunion," "sees the team investigate sinister events at a modern-day comprehensive school, and also stars Anthony Head (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Little Britain)." Also reported at the official BBC Doctor Who website and at CBBC,BBC News, The Mirror.
Warner Home Video has released the cover illustrations for the forthcoming North American DVD releases of The Claws of Axosstarring Jon Pertwee and City of Death starring Tom Baker; click on each thumbnail for a larger version. Interestingly, it seems that the release of "City of Death" will be a few days prior to the UK release; a UK cover has not yet been issued.
The 'considerable archive' of items belonging to John Nathan-Turner, the final producer of the 'classic' Doctor Who series who oversaw seasons 18 through 26, and who passed away in 2002, has been acquired by the British Film Institute's National Library, who has named him a "Donor in Focus". The archive is part of the BFI National Library's special collections; access is restricted to those who already have BFI Library annual library membership, for which there is a fee, and have to be consulted in the BFI study room. We're not sure exactly what this archive entails, but we imagine Doctor Who scholars are currently looking into it. (Thanks to Neil Marsh, Matthew Kilburn)
The Independent has run an article entitled "Billie Piper: The kid stays in the picture" interviewing her and discussing her first few weeks on the job filming series two. "It's shortly after 11am when Billie Piper arrives at her local north London pub, arms laden with cigarettes, a mobile phone and a restorative orange juice. She yawns, apologises and, arms still full, offers the first two fingers of her right hand as a greeting in lieu of a proper handshake. Minutes later, now free of clutter and seated at a garden table, another yawn occurs, revealing a gaping maw of perfectly chiselled teeth ... For the past couple of weeks, Piper has been going to work when most other people are going to bed. She is resuming her role as Rose Tyler, the effervescent sidekick of Doctor Who, a character now being played by David Tennant following Christopher Eccleston's rather abrupt departure at the end of the first series. Despite much tabloid speculation that Piper herself was also quitting the show - for movies, for Hollywood, for wraparound superstardom - the truth is that she is staying precisely where she is. For now, at least. 'Well, I've not heard any rumours of me being killed off,' she says. 'So as far as I'm aware, I'm around for the entire second series.' ... The night-shoots, she admits, are taking their toll, not just on her body but, it seems, her public profile as well. Eighteen months ago, Piper filmed a British horror flick called Spirit Trap. It has been collecting dust on the shelves ever since - and, many suggest, rightly so - but in the light of its leading actress's blossoming profile, it has suddenly secured a release date. What's more, the producers wanted to arrange a red carpet premiere, with Piper's presence sure to secure significant media interest. But rumours abounded that Piper had seen the finished product and was appalled at its awfulness, so appalled that she wanted nothing more to do with it. All such accusations were summarily denied, with Piper's lack of support blamed on pressure from the Doctor Who schedule. There were apologies all round." The article goes on to discuss her role in the film and why she did it, as well as why she didn't support the film's release ("because, genuinely, she was too busy"). Read more at the website. Also reported at the Belfast Telegraph, MegaStar and in The Mirror.
Russell T Davies will attend the Cardiff Mardi Gras Fringe Benefit evening on September 6 according to an article onuk.gay.com. "The man behind Dr Who and Queer as Folk will be revealing secrets of the new series of the cult sci-fi show at a special Pride event next month. Russell T Davies, will be attending the Cardiff Mardi Gras Fringe Benefit evening on September 6 to meet fans and answer questions on Dr Who, as well as his other critical and commercial successes. The event is part of CardiffÆs Mardi Gras celebrations, which take place throughout early September and culminate in a concert on the 10th September. The musical event will take place in the Millennium Stadium and is expected to see the massive football and rugby ground turned pink for the evening. Opera turned pop star Charlotte Church is also set to appear at the musical events held in the Welsh capital. DaviesÆ appearance will coincide with other appearances at the cityÆs Sherman theatre in an evening intended to appeal to fans of comedy, theatre and music alike. He will be joined by top comedienne Clare Summerskill, West End actor Dave Benson, who received plaudits for his one may Kenneth Williams show, Think No Evil, and live music from Swansea-based singer Scotty." More details at the website. Meanwhile, details about his appearance at the Sherman Theatre can be found here.
Broadway World and Playbill both discuss John Barrowman appearing with Rob Lowe in "A Few Good Men" which opened to previews today (the main opening is September 6).
A press release from the BBC Press Office says that BBC Worldwide will be announcing a new licensing deal at this year's Brand Licensing Show on October 25; there is currently no word on what this will entail. Also noted in the press release is the following detail about new licensed material: "The master toy licensee for Doctor Who, Character Group, have just launched their eagerly anticipated first toy range which includes a radio-controlled Dalek, walkie talkies of the new Slitheen Monster and the Doctor and battling daleks. Character Groups range will be joined by further products including board games from Toybrokers, jigsaws from Ravensburger and stationery and tableware from DNC."
The Mirror and BBC News have carried stories about the Abzorbaloff creature and its creator, nine year old William Grantham, announced this past Wednesday on "Blue Peter" (see separate story).
(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Paul Hayes, Peter Weaver, Tonia Cook)
There's a reason why there haven't been any new set photos the past week... the production spent a week filming at Clearwell Caves, finishing on Monday this past week, and have now gone back to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, where they filmed last year's episode "Dalek". "The set is dressed up like a 'James Bond style' office with posh chairs and tables," says our correspondent Ian Golden. "A video screen is showing a loop of a satellite broadcast of the Earth and there is a big Union Jack in one corner... There's loads of extras, all dressed in black riot gear. No David or Billie today but maybe tomorrow - they are there until the end of Thursday. Doctor Who: Confidential was filming there today as well." The production is now said to be returning to the studios in Newport for indoor filming, as they are filming three episodes simultaneously: the Christmas special, episode 1 and episode 3.
And speaking of "The Christmas Invasion," Outpost Gallifrey has learned that 26 December may indeed be the current date being mulled for transmission of the special (that would be Boxing Day in the UK) but that nothing has been completely finalised yet.
David Tennant appeared today on Blue Peter to promote Doctor Who, and here's what transpired:
The "design a monster" competition received 43,920 entries, apparently the best response to a Blue Peter competition since 1993. The top five hundred were shown on boards in the studio, with the presenters pointing out some of them to a visiting Dalek which cast its opinion on them, and footage was also shown of the team with Russell T Davies at his home judging the entries. Following this some close-ups of runner-up entries were shown accompanied by the series theme tune. Then following a clip from "The Parting of the Ways," David Tennant was introduced in the studio, interviewed by the three presenters. He said that he didn't want to give too much away, but promised some 'Christmassy elements' in the Christmas episode.
Questions from viewers were given to him from viewers. The first question was, did he watch as a youngster? Tennant replied that he did, and one of the presenters asked if he watched from behind the sofa. Tennant questioned whether anybody could do this as sofa are surely against walls. The next question was, did he watch the last series, and if so did he have a favourite part? He said that he had watched, and would have done so even had he not been taking on the part û although he did say his favourite moment was the regeneration when he took over! The third question was where would he go in time and space if he could choose... he said he'd like to go back and see the first performance of Hamlet and meet Shakespeare. He was then asked how his Doctor would be different from Christopher Eccleston's, to which Tennant replied that the clothes would obviously be different, but that they would have to watch and judge for themselves otherwise. He did use the phrase 'A bit down with the kids', however.
The live webchat after the show was then advertised. The Dalek then introduced the winners, clips from Davies' house shown again, and then the winning entries were announced for third, second and first places in the three different age groups. Tennant introduced first prize winners. Overall winner spoke on the phone about how he was inspired, asked Tennant who his favourite Doctor was. Tennant said Tom Baker, as he was the one he grew up with. Neill Gorton was then interviewed about how he was going to realise the design. The female presenter mentioned that it had been hinted there would be "evil teachers" in an upcoming episode, in reference to an evil school dinnerlady drawing! Some other monsters mentioned included a big green egg with a slurpy tongue protruding; the Indian god Shiva, except with more arms; a "broccoli" monster (which seemed to amuse Davies in the film clips); and Sad Tony, a pink and tearful version of the Ogron Monster from "Frontier in Space".
The winning monster from the competition, which will be used in the series, was called an Abzorbaloff and is described as a "hairy Sumo"... green, snarly, wild-eyed, with the faces of previous victims showing through its skin. William Grantham from Colchester was the winner of the competition.
Executive producer Russell T Davies was not present, despite pre-airing reports that he would join Tennant on stage; instead, he was shown judging the competition from his home, looking delighted with the entries.
Tennant then went to the CBBC Studios for a web chat which lasted approximately 15 minutes; many of the questions were in much the same vein as the ones asked of him on Blue Peter, with no additional information learned.
UPDATE: The Blue Peter BBC website now has a page of all winning entries; click here to see all of the finalists in all three age categories.
UPDATE: The BBC Press Office has issued a press release with full details about the contest, noting that the judges included Blue Peter editor Richard Marson, Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones, Russell T Davies and David Tennant. There were also also a few brief answers from an interview conducted with David Tennant "during rehearsals" this afternoon posted here, and a transcript of this evening's webchat should be up soon at this site.
(Thanks to Paul Hayes, Andrew Duncan, Jon Melville, Steve Tribe, and to "WilX" for the image)
Below are a collection of photos taken one week ago in Cardiff by correspondent John Williams as preparation began for the filming of "The Christmas Invasion" there, including shots of the department store being converted to Henrik's (complete with holiday angels); there are no actors present (although Billie Piper is seen from behind in one), as they are mostly shots of the production crew, but also an interesting look at the setup (with director James Hawes checking a shot angle on a tri-ladder, and the Confidential crew seen doing interviewing.) Also included below are Williams' reports from that location from last week; click on the spoiler tag for further details.
Monday 8 August
Having got word of the filming at the intersection of Wharton and Trinity Streets in Cardiff on Monday and Tuesday night this week through fellow Timelessö (Cardiff DWAS-LG) members, I successfully persuaded my wife to join me for a night of Whospotting. Arriving at around 7pm on Monday night, we found that a 30 ft Christmas tree was in the process of being decorated. Several Christmas market stalls were already in position, and both Howells and Waterstones bookstore window displays had jumped back in time to last Christmas (the sale offer dates on the display posters ended 12/04!). Oh, and you can get 3 for 2 Who novels, though itÆs unlikely that either of these elements will show up on screen.
After an hour or so of not a lot really, we decided to quench our thirst at the æis it?Æ bar next door. From our pavement table vantage point we watched more set dressing, before kindly being asked to move to allow for the arrival of a double-decker bus. Billy then arrived with Noel Clarke, and we watched several minutes of rehearsals. This comprised of them both running from something behind the market stalls. Apart from setting up the camera tracks and lighting rigs, it went quiet for a long time and we called it a night at 11pm.
Tuesday 9 August
This evening we were treated to a lot more action, as filming began at around 10.30pm. The first shot involved many extras dressed in heavy winter clothes, carrying Christmas shopping bags and presents. Before shooting, we were warned that the scene involved a series of explosions, and the police were asked to call HQ to warn them. Action had already occurred next to us in the crowd, where two less than appreciative drunken ônon-fansö had been cautioned by the police for the language they were using, which unfortunately including obscenities towards Billy.
Blocked mainly by the Christmas tree, the scene began shooting. Extras ran in terror with Rose and Mickey running through the stalls hand-in-hand, explosions going off around them. One of our less than courteous drunken neighbours shouted during the scene and was promptly marched away by the police once æcutÆ was called. Both Phil Collinson and James Hawes seemed more than happy with the result though, and the scene wasn't reshot.
We watched several more scenes being shot, most of which involved explosions from different camera angles. During one shot, an explosion went off just as Noel Clarke ran past it. He was thrown to the ground and the crew rushed over to him. Fortunately he seemed only to have sustained a ringing in his right ear, although it continued to aggravate him for some time afterwards.
As we called it a night again at 12.30, the next scene was to include 4 largely built Santas brandishing deadly brass instruments!
The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine has some new casting information about the forthcoming season. Previously confirmed actor Adam Garcia will appear in "The Christmas Invasion" as Alex Klein, along with Daniel Evans (Danny Llewellyn), Sean Gilder, Anita Breim (Sally) and Chu Ornambala as Major Blake. In "School Reunion," additional cast members include Eugene Washington (Mr Wagner), Caroline Berry and Rod Arthur. Newly confirmed crewmembers on block one of series two includeLlinos Wyn Jones (script supervisor), Jon Older (first assistant director), Julian Barber (camera operator) and Simon Fraser(sound recordist). The issue says that work began on 18 July with rehearsals, which included David Tennant, Billie Piper, Anthony Stewart Head and Elisabeth Sladen, with filming starting on 22 July as we previously reported here.