The BBC-imposed press embargo of midnight Wednesday night on detailed reports from the Tuesday evening Doctor Who press launch in Cardiff has passed, and already there have been a number of articles posted in advance of the deadline, reproduced below. We'll keep you posted all evening with the (expected) flood of news reports (the article's already been updated several times since its initial posting):
Piper Stays, Tennant... Maybe
The Press Association newswire has two lead articles about the press launch, the first of which notes that David Tennant "has signed up for the third series of Dr Who, it was disclosed today. Speaking about the final episode of the second series, portentously entitled Doomsday, Billie Piper, who plays the Doctor's sidekick Rose Tyler, told reporters she would be returning for series three. 'There are lots of places for Rose to go,' she said. Tennant, 34, who last year became the tenth Doctor following Christopher Eccleston's surprise departure, appeared more circumspect about his contract, saying: 'Mine's not as simple as that...' On making the show, he said: 'I have had a ball ... I might still be here in 40 years.' But a spokesman for programme makers BBC Wales later confirmed to the Press Association that Tennant was 'committed to Dr Who through 2007' for the third series."
"The stars were speaking at the launch of the second series at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, which saw a screening of the first episode called New Earth. The episode sees the Time Lord and Rose share a kiss, but the scene has a twist as Rose's body has been taken over by Lady Cassandra, a survivor of the human race who featured in the previous series. Asked if there were any nerves about the kissing scene, Piper joked that 'we did not do tongues' and said they had been eating egg and cress sandwiches. She said they only had three attempts at the scene. 'It's not the last kiss of the series,' Tennant added. Paying tribute to the script writing, he said: 'Each script that we get is more funny and wilder and more inventive than the last.' He said reading the scripts was 'never a chore' because they were all written by the 'cream' of British television writers. 'Each one's a page turner,' he said."
"Piper, 23, said the final episodes of the last series 'completely blew my mind'. She said she had been quite 'shocked' by the latest scripts, describing them as 'really dark' but 'in a good way'. Tennant described an episode of the second series, called Love and Monsters, which features comedian Peter Kay as 'unlike anything you'll have seen in Dr Who before'. The pair both paid tribute to Kay, who wrote to script writer Russell T Davies to get a part in the new series. Piper said she had to pinch herself between takes to stop laughing while Tennant said the comedian seemed to see destroying takes as 'a badge of honour'. Piper added: 'I love his 'Dalek bread' gags.' The new series also sees Rose's boyfriend Mickey Smith join the TARDIS, something which Rose is not so keen on as she likes to keep the Doctor to herself, Piper said. Talking about how he would categorise his portrayal of the Doctor, Tennant said: 'I would leave that to other people.' He said he was working with a 'blank canvas,' adding: 'You're not obliged to take on a character that already exists. It's not like James Bond or Tarzan or Sherlock Holmes.' He said every Dr Who fan he had met so far has been 'completely charming'. Piper described the new Doctor's character as 'more emotional'. Asked if he was tempted to keep his native Scottish accent for the show, Tennant said: 'Russell did not want to do a touring the regions thing,' and said he had used a similar accent to the one he used in Casanova. The pair said they had managed to have a social life while working. While Tennant has been staying in a flat in Cardiff Bay, Piper has been in a hotel, enjoying 'telly, beans on toast, the usual,' after working 12 and 13-hour days. 'My boyfriend comes down quite a lot - not as much as I'd like him to, but enough,' she said. Tennant said it was 'not a problem', being separated from his girlfriend. Asked if the pair wanted to make a bid for success in Hollywood, Piper said: 'I'm loving what's going on here at the moment', while Tennant said he had never had a 'five-year plan'. 'There's some great stuff on telly at the moment,' Piper added."
A Female Doctor? Not Ruling It Out
Also on the Press Association newswire: "Executive producer and script writer for Dr Who, Russell T Davies, said he would not rule out reincarnating the Time Lord as a woman. Mr Davies said he would 'have the nerve' to have a woman playing the role. And he said it would also be possible to have a Welsh Doctor, such as the actor Michael Sheen, whom he described as 'brilliant'. Asked if he had a 'wish list' of talent for the show, Mr Davies said: 'I would love to get a gripping American star like Sigourney Weaver. You often get an actor who says, 'I would love to be in it', and then you have to speak to the agent.' He said he initially thought a hand-written letter he received from comedian Peter Kay, begging him for a part in the show, was a 'joke'. 'It said 'Yours sincerely, Peter Kay. PS garlic bread'.' An episode of the new series has been written by Matthew Graham, co-creator of the hit BBC show Life on Mars. Stephen Fry has also been pencilled in to contribute to the third series, Mr Davies said. Speaking at the launch of the new Dr Who series at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, the script writer said there was not a deliberate attempt to put over a message, but added that swearing, violence and blood were off the agenda. 'We would never have a human shoot another human, for example,' he said, unlike in shows such as EastEnders."
"The first episode of the new series, which sees 'specially grown' plague carriers in a futuristic research laboratory, had drawn parallels with the subject of animal testing. Mr Davies said he drew his inspiration from newspapers, grabbing what is happening now and placing it in a science fiction setting. 'Dr Who has always tapped into classic British horror,' he added. He said he liked to keep the relationship between the Doctor and his sidekick Rose 'on its toes' and said they were 'best friends'. A kiss between the pair in the fist episode of the new series is 'a bit of a gag' and there is another kiss with a twist in the fourth episode, he said. Mr Davies said there was a 'natural chemistry' between David Tennant and Billie Piper, but if the characters they play ever consummated their relationship: 'I think that would kill it dead.'"
BBC Wiltshire has extensive coverage of the launch, featuring interviews with cast and crew. "Journalists from all over the country joined the cast and crew of Doctor Who at The Millenium Centre on Cardiff Bay for a screening of the first episode in the new series entitled 'New Earth'. Particularly apt as filming for the episode actually took place in the foyer of the building! 'New Earth' is a typically frothy, lightning-paced tale from the pen of series head writer Russell T Davies. ... Then came a jaw-dropping three-minute reel of clips showcasing the rest of the series. The highlights included squid-like aliens The Ood, shiny, unison-marching Cybermen, huge airships hovering above London, an astonishing CGI werewolf and Rose and returning classic series companion Sarah-Jane Smith engaged in an amusingly bitchy stand-off."
BBC Wiltshire also has a Q&A posted with David Tennant and Billie Piper. Says Tennant, "The worst bit of that was before we started, all the hoo-ha that comes with this show. The fact that everyone is so fascinated by it. Obviously that partly makes it the most wonderful job in the world but it also makes it the most terrifying job in the world. When I finished my first day of filming I remember going home to collapse because of the amount of nervous energy that had been building up in the months previous to getting going. I suppose it could have been awful but I've been so welcomed by this extraordinary crew. ... I think the scripts have moved on, it's a natural progression. The scripts were so brilliant last year and I didn't think we could top them. The last two episodes last year just blew my mind and I didn't see how we were going to do that again. But the genius that is Russell T Davies came up trumps as ever and has produced some amazing work. But yeah, they are scary and there's so much going on this year. Truly quite terrifying." Says Piper, "There's loads of places for Rose to go, she’s only 20! She’s got some time in her yet. ... We're not talking about that [the fate of the Doctor and Rose at the end of the season], it’s worth waiting for, so just be patient! It’s a real cliffhanger. These scripts are so special and unique."
The report features interviews with stars Noel Clarke and Camille Codurias well as writers Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and Matthew Graham, all of which can be listened to via their website (they're in RealPlayer format and need that plug-in). Also part of the BBC Wiltshire article is a brief paragraph with spoilers, which we've moved down into the spoiler section below (click on the spoiler tag at the bottom of this article to read it).
First Episode Review
One reporter who attended the screening, Caleb Woodbridge, who writes for the Cardiff student paper Gair Rhydd, noted in a blog post this evening that "One sign of Doctor Who's success was that the launch for series two wasn't just ten journalists and a sausage roll. No, a whole crowd of reporters and journalists turned up, eager to cover the event. There's plenty I could say about the press launch, but I'll cut to the chase: is the second series as good? ... Russell T Davies once again captures the sheer joy of the Doctor's travels. From the opening moments, it's clear that the Doctor and Rose love travelling the universe and also each other. Just platonically? Well, the more squeamish fans can keep telling themselves that, but decide for yourself! There is plenty of humour, even outright comedy. While some of the humour in the last series was at times a bit forced - farting aliens and the like - here the laughs emerge from the characters of the Doctor and Rose. The season opener leaves us assured that these are the Doctor and companion we know and love from last year. But a dark secret lies at the heart of events, one that raises complex moral questions, and some of the themes echo last season's The End of the World. But the story doesn't bog itself down in philosophising - once the dastardly goings-on are revealed, we move into a good solid base-under-seige plot. The tale has some genuinely disturbing monsters that will hopefully end up being much imitated in the playground come Monday lunchtime. There are also some not-too-subtle hints to the future. One particular subplot ends with a scene that is basically a great big raspberry to the audience saying 'Hah hah! You'll have to keep on watching - and you can start speculating now!' David Tennant's Tenth Doctor also shows himself to be something more of an action man than his predecessor, and when he gets angry at the things he discovers, he boils with righteous indignation. From this episode, he looks set to be something more of an action man than his predecessor, flinging himself into the action of the episode. The episode isn't without its flaws - various plot points go unexplained or underdeveloped, and we only see a very limited corner of New Earth, though this leaves plenty of scope for return visits. Most of the effects are worthy of the big screen, but a few don't quite live up to the same standard In turns hilarious, creepy and strangely moving, a solidly entertaining start to the Doctor's adventures. And just wait until you see the trailer for Tooth and Claw!"
Trailers Set for Saturday
Outpost Gallifrey has learned that a new trailer for the forthcoming second series is set to debut this Saturday, April 1, at some time in the early evening on BBC1.
Broadcast Alert: GMTV Thursday Morning
GMTV, we have also learned, will feature a segment on tomorrow morning's program that was shot at the Cardiff Exhibition. Viewers should tune into GMTV on Thursday morning to watch the Doctor Who segment. David Tennant and Billie Piper, meanwhile, will appear on the Friday morning edition of GMTV in a live interview segment. There is currently no word on the timing of either of these two Doctor Who appearances on the morning program.
BBC Wales Today Update
Yesterday evening's BBC Wales Today report from the press launch is now available on the BBC News Media Player, where it can be seen in Windows Media as well as Real Player and in a larger size and better quality than the Wales Today Real file; it's located here, although the link might not work for some (pending a proper link on the BBC News site, the easiest way to access it is to open the News Player and search for 'David Tennant' or 'Billie Piper'.)
Today's Independent says that "the writers of BBC's hit revival of sci-fi classic Doctor Who plan to mix current affairs and television nostalgia with plotlines inspired by subjects ranging from the MRSA epidemic to Hammer Horror films. The second series of Doctor Who, starting on BBC1 on Easter Saturday, takes the time lord to places he has never been. For the first time, the Doctor, played by David Tennant, falls in love and ponders God's existence. In a further break from tradition, the chief scriptwriter Russell T Davies said he 'wouldn't think twice' about casting a woman in the lead role when the Doctor next regenerates, adding that he would love Sigourney Weaver, star of the Alien film trilogy, to appear. ... Piper refused to comment on speculation she is planning to leave the show. But insiders said she was likely to leave early in the third series. She was upset not to have been nominated for a Bafta. 'I was hoping to be there... because I love the Baftas. I would be lying if I said it didn't mean anything... but I'm 23 and I've got the rest of my life to do it,' she said."
Outpost Gallifrey will keep you up to date on further news reports that come down the wire following the end of the press embargo on the launch. (Photos in this article used in the press are copyrighted to the BBC.)
Says the BBC Wiltshire report about "New Earth": "Set in the far, far future on a utopia-like, new planet, it sees David Tennant's recently-regenerated hip and witty Time Lord summoned to a futuristic hospital run by cat-like nuns. There he stumbles upon a frightening cover-up and crosses wits with his evil nemesis - the last (barely) living human, Cassandra, played once again by Zoe Wanamaker. Along the way, the Doctor and Rose are terrorised by hideous plague victims and meet up once more with the enigmatic Face of Boe who tantalizes the Doctor with a secret. And bodies are swapped, and swapped again before the bittersweet finale."