To the readers of the News Page... sorry for the brief delay in getting the latest news update out; the editor's been working on a project (theGallifrey 2006 convention) that took up free time in the evenings. This catches us up with the press coverage from the past week.
CBBC Newsround online last Friday looked at this year's "rising stars", including David Tennant, noting without comment that the second series will be onscreen "from April"... "You might be aware of him from The Christmas Invasion episode of Doctor Who, and of course, as barking mad Barty Crouch Jr in the Goblet of Fire, But this man is going to be huge this year! Doctor Who is already one of the BBC's most popular programmes, and David Tennant will be on our screens every week from April as the 10th Time Lord. His performance on Christmas Day suggests he's going to be a quirky but loveable Doctor, and a HUGE heart-throb."
David Tennant will play philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in BBC Two's serial "The Romantics" about English Romantic poets; it's written and presented by Peter Ackroyd and starts very soon, completing its run on 4 February.
John Barrowman was a guest on C4's Richard and Judy show on 9 January.
The official Doctor Who website has a short piece on Murray Gold, composer of the music for the current series. It says that "Doctor Who composer Murray Gold will feature in this Wednesday's edition of Blue Peter. Find out all about the man, his music, and now, his orchestra! Tune into Blue Peter this Wednesday from 5pm on BBC1." That's Wednesday 12 January.
Will Billie Piper quit Doctor Who for a new starring role? Lots of papers are asking that after reports indicate that Piper has assumed her first leading role: in an adaptation of Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart stories. "But Billie's success will further fuel speculation that she is about to quit Doctor Who," says the Daily Express. "Billie will start work on the first Sally Lockhart story -- The Ruby In The Smoke -- in May. 'The Sally Lockhart episode is being shot in between season two and three of Doctor Who so it doesn't mean Billie couldn't shoot series three,' a BBC spokeswoman said. However, other television insiders said it was unlikely Billie would return. 'She has made a terrific impression in Doctor Who, and for a young relatively inexperienced actress to hold her own against Christopher Eccleston [in series one] was no mean feat,' said one experienced drama producer. 'She has been a major part of Doctor Who's success. But at the same time, now she has proved herself why would she want to get trapped in the part of Rose, when such other riches are on offer careerwise?'" A BBC press release includes comments from Laura Mackie, Head of BBC Drama Series and Serials, who says, "I am absolutely thrilled to have acquired the rights to Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart Mysteries. Philip is without question one of Britain's leading novelists. His books are full of absorbing characters, engaging multi-layered plots that appeal to both adults and children alike. The adaptation of these novels furthers BBC ONE's commitment to offering more varied and ambitious drama for its audiences. Billie Piper is an extremely versatile actress whose talent has deservedly been recognised by critics and audiences alike. Following on from her success as the Doctor's fearless companion Rose Tyler in Doctor Who, and the endearing Hero in Much Ado About Nothing, Billie is the perfect choice for bringing to life this engaging and fearless heroine." Philip Pullman's "The Ruby In The Smoke," the first book in the quartet, charts the adventures of Sally, a feisty young Victorian heroine, who is on a journey to discover the truth behind her father's death, and unravel the mystery behind 'The Seven Blessings'. "Adapted by the highly-acclaimed writer Adrian Hodges (Rome, Charles II: The Power & The Passion, The Lost World), The Ruby In The Smoke is a gripping tale of mystery, danger, puzzling letters and a jewel soaked in blood. The film is set in the heart of Victorian London. ... The Ruby In The Smoke will start filming in May 2006, followed by the second novel, The Shadow In The North. The executive producers are Sally Woodward Gentle and Laura Mackie. The producer is Kate Bartlett. Director and further casting details to follow." Sky Showbizasks "Is Billie Bigger Than Chris?" referring to her husband Chris Evans, another popular headline about this story. Other news agencies reporting this include BBC News, The Sun, The Stage, The Scotsman,Media Guardian, Daily Record, Times Online, Ananova, Hello Magazine,SwindonWeb, icLiverpool, RTE,Daily Mail, the Irish Examiner, C21 Media, Daily Snack, CBBC and The Mirror.
Piper also guest hosted The Friday Night Project on 6 January. The event featured Q&A's for her from the audience, and there was a TARDIS present too -- out of which came characters from which Billie had to guess the year in which they were well-known. Said the Sun the day of transmission, "Billie Piper looks to have upset a Cyberman by laughing at him on C4's The Friday Night Project. Comics Justin Lee Collins and bespectacled Alan Carr join in tonight's giggle. The show sees joking Billie, 23, lead monsters on an ice rink conga." Digital Spy has a brief review.
The Eastern Courier Messenger in Australia ran a feature article aboutTristram Cary, one of the fathers of electronic music and one of the early greats in Doctor Who's musical history. "The 80-year-old Glen Osmond composer recently received a lifetime achievement award from the Adelaide Critics' Circle for his contribution to music in England and Australia. Over a 50-plus year career, he has composed scores for well-loved movies such as The Ladykillers, Hammer Studios horror flicks, Dr Who episodes and BBC Radio shows. 'I grew up in music, my mother sang for my father every night. People would come around to our house in Oxford and play and sing and I thought all homes were like this,' he said. 'When I went into the navy in 1943, suddenly there was not any music and I discovered that it was the most important thing to me.' A love of electronics led him into the navy's radar corps, where he began to hear whispers about a new way of recording music on tape. 'The only problem was that we could not get one of the new tapes because the Germans had it. He continued to dream of combining his electronics and music and after leaving the navy, music became his world. He went on to design the VCS3 Putney synthesiser and in 1967 he founded the electronic music studio at London's Royal College of Music. In the mid-'70s, he moved to Australia, where he continued to lecture and compose. Mr Cary is now dividing his time between composing, writing his autobiography and compiling an archive of his life's work." Cary's music for Doctor Who was featured two years ago on the BBC Music CD release "Devil's Planets: The Music of Tristram Cary."
Former companion Caroline John will be starring in a one woman show written by actress Lynn Redgrave, "Nightingale," which will have its world premiere this winter at the U.K.'s New End Theatre in Hampstead. The one-woman piece, starring John and directed by the author, is scheduled to run from January 17 through February 18. Inspired by memories of the playwright's maternal grandmother, Beatrice Kempson, mother of the late Rachel Kempson (also known as Lady Redgrave), Nightingale is the story of Mildred Asher (John) whose voice, like the song of the nightingale, can only be heard in the dark.
Australia's Gold Coast Bulletin said on 5 January that "Doctor Who star Katy Manning will come to Brisbane in the off-Broadway smash hit Me and Jezebel. HRH and I saw a one-off production of this show a couple of years ago at the StageDoor Dinner Theatre and loved it! Katy Manning plays in this one-woman show with authority and style, and it is directed by Aussie theatre legend Barry Crocker. Me and Jezebel is Elizabeth Fuller's true-life account of how Hollywood actor Bette Davis came to her home to stay for one night and ended staying for a month - turning her household upside down, teaching her child profanities and nearly wrecking her marriage. Again, it is playing at StageDoor Dinner Theatre, (underneath 12th Night Theatre) on Cintra Road, Bowen Hills. The season runs from February 3 to the end of March. This is very good stuff and performed beautifully. Catch dinner and show or show only at this intimate venue. It is recommended unconditionally. Book at the StageDoor DinnerTheatre box office, phone 3216 1115."
Rula Lenska, who guest-starred as Styles in the Peter Davison serial "Resurrection of the Daleks", is currently one of the housemates on this year's Celebrity Big Brother, currently being broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK.
According to Amazon, the second Justin Richards-penned Monsters and Villains paperback, due to be published on 18 May, has now been retitledAliens and Enemies. The book has also gained a synopsis: "The Cybermen are back to terrorise time and space - but luckily the new Doctor, played by David Tennant, and Rose are back to stop them. Picking up where "Monsters and Villains" left off, this fully illustrated guide documents the return of these metal menaces, as well as the Sycorax and other foes from the new series, plus first series terrors like the Gelth and the Reapers. More classic baddies such as the Celestial Toymaker, Sutekh and the Robots of Death also make a welcome appearance."
Last week's edition of The Bookseller noted that Panini's Doctor Who Annual 2006 had "time-travelled back in the right direction" in the Top 20 Children's Books chart, rising from 15 to 13 with unit sales of 9,984 in the seven days to 24 December. The trade magazine also previews new books being published in April, spotlighting The Science of Doctor Who by Paul Parsons (Icon Books): "Here's How Who Does It. Account of the cutting-edge science, as well as the science fiction, behind Doctor Who, including why time travel isn't ruled out by the laws of physics, how genetic engineering is being used to breed Dalek-like lifeforms, and the medical truth about the Doctor's two hearts and the real creature that has five. Parsons is the editor of the BBC's monthly science and technology magazine, Focus, as well as a life-long worshipper of Doctor Who. There's also a foreword by Arthur C. Clarke."
Meanwhile, Kingsway Publications will soon release Behind the Sofa: A Closer Look at Dr Who by Anthony Thacker. "The Doctor Who series has taken the BBC by storm, with millions of viewers and multiple awards. This book discovers the spiritual themes behind the series, as well as facts about classic Doctor Who. It includes various discussion questions." The book is due out on March 1.
In the Australian Sun-Herald Magazine "Sunday Life" (dated 8 January 2006) Scott Ellis writes the following in reference to television worth watching in 2006: "Alien Invaders -- Invasion (Nine), Surface (Ten), Supernatural (Ten) and Doctor Who (ABC): Science fiction is back on the agenda with visitors from space, from under the waves and from inside our own memories. Best of the bunch, however, remains the Doctor, who returns with a new body (courtesy of Casanova star David Tennant)." There is also a small photo of David, Billie and the TARDIS taken from the launch of the new costume. Interesting, since as far as we know, the ABC has not yet confirmed that it is buying Series Two...
The Spectator, a right-wing periodical, has this to say about "The Christmas Invasion": "Russell T. Davies's Doctor Who special... had the new Doctor Who David Tennant showing worryingly peacenik tendencies. Just after the Doctor had persuaded an evil race called the Sycorax to bugger off in their gargantuan, rock-shaped spaceship and never trouble Earth again, the Prime Minister Harriet Jones, after brief consultation with Washington, sent up a huge rocket and blew them to smithereens. Our wussie new Doctor was outraged by this underhand behaviour, but it seems to me that the Prime Minister was only doing her job. What guarantee had these hissing, slimy, alien creatures provided that they would never try to conquer Earth again? None at all. I hope the nation's kiddies were sensible enough to see through Davies's dangerous pacifist propaganda."
The January 2006 edition of UK toy industry trade magazine Toy Newsfeatures Doctor Who as its cover story, with the new series logo adorning a publicity picture of ranks of new series Daleks with the Houses of Parliament in the far background, and the headline "We are the supreme beings"! Inside is a two-page Supplier Focus feature on Character Options, which has the licence for Doctor Who toys, looking at what sort of shape the City-listed company is in as the year starts. The main images, in colour, are of the David Tennant and Billie Piper action figures plus a Slitheen figure. Character Options has also made a name for itself with its Robo line (RoboSapien, RoboRaptor, RoboSapien V2, RoboPet) but the article, by Stuart Dinsey, points out this is "only one ingredient in the product mix". The article, interviewing marketing manager Jerry Healy, says "in-house development is at the heart of Character's long-term strategy, as this offers better margins and wider distribution potential. Examples of this are the popular Dr Who (sic) products introduced last year, with an expanded range and even better sales expected this year." No actual sales figures are given or predicted. The piece finishes by saying Healy expects that this year Character will "make headway in the boys' sectors thanks to a number of Superman products and Dr Who, which sees the addition of the Cybermen later this year". Also in the magazine, as part of the retail sales trends section, Dr Who (sic) is named best property progression for November 2005. Illustrated with a pic of the David Tennant action figure, it says: "Dr Who has been progressing well since the launch of the new series last autumn (sic). Whereas in October the property was still outside the top 100, November saw it climb the ladder considerably. So far, RC Dalek is the best selling item in the range." Character Options will have a stand at the 2006 Toy Fair, taking place at ExCel in London's Docklands from Wednesday 25 to Saturday 28 January. This is the UK toy market's annual showcase.
Brand Republic mentions the publication of the new "Doctor Who Adventures" periodical from BBC Magazines, while the BBC has now issued apress release about it.
The Sun ran a story on 9 January noting that "Barmy fans of Doctor Who want to hire a psychic to track down missing episodes of the hit show." Picking up on a small handful of tongue-in-cheek posts on the Outpost Gallifrey Foru, the Sun said that "More than 100 programs of the sci-fi classic are lost and now fans are turning to out of this world powers to locate them. Fan Brian Wilson said: 'If people can use psychics to reunite family with deceased loved ones then it is quite conceivable we can use a psychic to track down these missing episodes. These shows are important to the heritage of Dr Who.' Members of the world's largest Doctor Who forum, Gallifrey One, have banded together in their search. One desperate fan, Supervoc posted on the forum: 'I am on my knees in hope and desperation. I will be through the roof if even just one more story is found. We must live in hope!' Another Ian7 said: 'I am convinced there are countless missing episodes yet to be found. I know it is going to happen. I have complete and utter faith. I believe we should all have this faith. Think it. Feel it. Wish it. It is going to happen!' ... Wilson added: 'A lot of fans are extremely passionate about finding these episodes, it is a nostalgia thing.' The fans want to get Derek Acorah from Most Haunted to use his powers to help in the search. Acorah is rumoured to be making a guest appearance in an upcoming episode of the new series of Dr Who on the BBC in April." Of course, one should not expect hard hitting journalism from The Sun...
Unit News has a feature story on Lancasters Armourie, who constructed the Sycorax swords as featured in "The Christmas Invasion." Our main customers are full contact re-enactors and have only recently started selling them for TV production although they have been used on stage for a number of years," they tell the site. "We use Chrome Nickel Molybdenum steel (commonly known as tank armour) this is a very expensive steel but it does last and we have to buy it a tonne at a time. We also have our own recipe for tempering them which is what makes them that bit more special." Read the full article at the website.
Other stories: EDP24 discusses the launch of a line of celebrity bottles, with David Tennant mentioned as one of the backers; The Day mentions that there's no broadcast date but apparently DVDs will be in the US soon (now disproven); the Mirror ran an "exclusive" on 9 January about casting in the new series... exclusively ripped off from the pages of Doctor Who Magazine, that is; Now Playing Magazine has a "Christmas Invasion" review; The Scotsman reports that David Tennant may join the festivities for the 40th anniversary gala of the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company; theWanstead and Woodford Guardian discusses a home made TARDIS in Epping; theMirror notes that Peter Davison has "joined the great and good as one of 32,000 names in Who's Who".
(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Peter Weaver, John Bowman, Paul Hayes, Dominic May, Griff Phillips, Kevin West, Darren Pickles, Adam Kirk, Murray Harper, Jonathan Hall, Mike Mould)