Catching up with the past six days' worth of news while your editor has been away from his desk:
'Doctor Who - The countdown starts here!' says the cover of the new edition of Radio Times (1-7 April), heralding the return of the magazine's regular 'Doctor Who Watch' feature. This week, it's a full-page article, 'It's not long now...', illustrated with a full-length shot of David Tennant. The feature comprises an interview with Phil Collinson, with the series producer discussing what the production team has learnt from Series One: 'Loads [...] we're much better at anticipating what problems are going to come up, and how elaborate a shoot actually is. So we're able to plan ahead more. And we've got the added bonus of a new Doctor [...] But really, it's business as usual for us.' Collinson also comments on alien planets and how to realise them: 'we're going to go to two alien planets [...] 'New Earth' is set on an alien planet, which has an Earth colony so we can always refer it back to Earth [...] And then further down the series we have two episodes that are set on a very, very distant planet that's very, very different. [...] There will be a big green-screen element, so we can change the colour of the place and paint unusual things into the skies [...] And just by bringing in physical effects - wind and rain - we can make it a much more exciting environment.' Radio Times also promises future features on the Cybermen, Sarah Jane Smith, K9, 'Catnuns... and much more!' And the listings confirm BBC Four's double bills of 'The Green Death' from Monday 3 April, with a rerun of Series One beginning on BBC Three weekdays from Thursday 6 April.
TV presenter Alistair Appleton is the latest name to be associated with the new series; according to Appleton's website, "In quite the most exciting TV job he's ever done, Alistair is set to appear in the penultimate episode of DR WHO this summer! Playing himself he comes to a messy end at the hands of a classic TV baddy."
British musician Kurgan Merrick will record a new version of the series soundtrack according to a report this weekend inThe Mirror. "Our Tardistastic insider reveals: 'It will be darker than ever before - in fact it's menacing and quite scary. 'The new theme tune is a lot slower than the one currently used. It sounds a bit like a distorted choir.'"
The Watford Observer has spoken to two schoolchildren who are taking part in CBBC's forthcoming Totally Doctor Who. 'Tom and Tony, who both go to Sir William Ramsay School, Rose Avenue, Hazlemere, are so crazy about the scarf-wearing Timelord that they shoot their own Dr Who-style films on a video recorder, taking on the roles of the aliens the doctor encouters.' Tom was chosen, says the paper, after the BBC read about the full-scale TARDIS his parents gave him for Christmas, and the pair have been filmed making their Who-inspired home videos.
The Daily Star says that "Doctor Who star Noel Clarke is set to enjoy a kinky threesome on the show - with Billie Piper and her TV mum. The hunky actor, who plays Rose's boyfriend Mickey Smith, says his character has been 'sexed up' for the new series, which starts next month. And he reveals that Mickey harbours a secret fantasy to bed both Rose, played by 23-year-old Billie, and her telly mum Jackie - actress Camille Coduri, 40. Noel, 30, said: 'Mickey gets very sexy in this new series. He's a completely different person from the lad stuck in a wheelie bin in Episode One of the first series. And he and Rose's mum Jackie certainly get on. They didn't interact much at the start - but that has changed now. He even tells Rose, 'I go round your mum's every Sunday now . . . she cooks my dinner . . . talks about you non-stop'. You know, I think he's secretly giving her one. It's his plan. It's like a fantasy thing - having a mother and daughter at the same time. 'He's working up to it slowly.' Noel is also excited about becoming the Doctor's new travelling companion, joining the Time Lord (David Tennant, 34) and Rose on some of their intergalactic adventures. He tells the new Doctor Who Magazine: 'When the show's writer Russell T. Davies told me what he wanted to do with my character, I was like, 'Hell, yeah! I'm not going to miss this for the world'. 'Russell is a genius and I think fans are really going to like this new series.'"
The Sun today has a two-par piece on the new series, saying the first episode is set on an alien planet, with the Doctor and Rose visiting a colony of Earth to find a 'plague farm', evil cat people and former adversary Cassandra (Zoe Wanamaker). It adds that the show returns next month and mentions the series launch is tonight 'so expect some gossip'.
Today's Media Guardian has some interesting notes about tonight's press launch: "Seeing as it is their job to promote a programme about time travel, perhaps the BBC's Doctor Who PR team could learn how to tell the time. A press invite to tonight's launch in Cardiff includes an embargo until '00hrs 29th March'. In other words, midnight tonight. 'Oh no,' says a spokeswoman. 'The embargo is midnight on Thursday.' Ah, but wouldn't that be 00hrs 30th March? 'No, it's 00hrs 29th/30th March'. Which of course, isn't a time at all. Hacks travelling to Cardiff expecting to see their stories in print, or online, tomorrow should perhaps give the press office a call. Now, after Monkey, when the big hand points to the 12..."
The official BBC Doctor Who website has changed and now has a picture of the Doctor and Rose together with a sample of one of Murray Gold's recurring melodies from the last series.
According to some TV listings services, BBC Three will be rerunning the whole of Series One in six and a half double bills from 7pm on weekday evenings. The repeats begin on Thursday 6 April with 'Rose' and 'The End of the World' and are scheduled to finish with 'The Parting of the Ways' on Friday 14 April. In addition to this, Sunday 9 April will see a three-hourDoctor Who Night from 7pm to 10pm. Although its content is unconfirmed, the limited information available includes credits for David Tennant, Billie Piper, Noel Clarke, Camille Coduri and Penelope Wilton, so it's likely that 'The Christmas Invasion' will form part of the theme night's programmes.
David Tennant and Billie Piper will appear on ITV1's GMTV on Friday 31 March (between 8.30am and 9.25am) - 'Exclusive interviews with dashing David Tennant and sidekick Billie Piper', according to the GMTV website.
Russian TV station STS TV has bought Series 1 (and apparently Series 2) of the new Doctor Who, according to "This Week in Doctor Who". Series 1 will air weekday afternoons at 4:30PM starting this Monday, 27 March.
BBC Experience This Weekend
The BBC Experience 2006 will feature an exhibition of Doctor Who items including Daleks, Cybermen, K9 and the TARDIS, etc., this weekend at Gloucester's GL1 Leisure Centre on Sunday, accoridng to the BBC Gloucester website. Meanwhile, Newsquest Media Group reports that "Doctor Who's dreaded enemies the Daleks descended on Cirencester" on Saturday, and "Sci-Fi fans were treated to the spectacle as the telly stars promoted their appearance at the forthcoming BBC Experience 2006. Event producer, BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Vernon Harwood, said: 'Since the return of Dr Who to our screens, The Daleks and Cybermen are in great demand throughout the galaxy but Sci-Fi fans were pleased to see they gave the Doctor the slip to appear in Cirencester.' The BBC Experience 2006 gives people a chance to look behind the scenes of their favourite BBC TV and radio shows."
March 21's Daily Record says that David Tennant "has no plans to pen his autobiography. An ever-modest David said: 'Never say never, but I don't think that I have a particularly interesting life. 'I think people would be very bored of me. Maybe when I'm 75. I don't really know. Ask me again then.' David has also admitted that his parents tried to put him off acting when he was younger. He said: 'They were always suggesting other careers for me to do. They tried to put me off acting. It's understandable though, because acting is a foolhardy career. They are very supportive of me now though.'" Also, according to this week's Star magazine (3 April, page 89): "Doctor Who star David Tennant gets creative in the kitchen for BBC2's Ready Steady Cook on 12 April. He said of the experience: "It was the tardis dish I've ever cooked in my life". Boom, boom... "
The Harrods department store is using Billie Piper in their latest poster ads, which can be seen on the London Underground. They've asked a range of celebrities what's the one thing they would most like from the shop; says Piper, "Two scoops of chocolate, a scoop of vanilla, loads of whipped cream, hot chocolate sauce and chocolate sprinkles. Does that count as one thing? Ice cream is my thing. Can't help it. Making up my own flavours would be great. You have personal shoppers, don't you, could they sort it out? Maybe jammy dodger flavour ...why are you looking at me like that?"
The Western Mail features an article about the BBC Wales series "Belonging" which stars Eve Myles: "Eve Myles is no stranger to juicy roles after lengthy stints with the RSC and National Theatre as well as appearances in TV dramas such as Doctor Who and soon as a lead character in its sister show aimed at adults, Torchwood. She describes her role as Ceri as 'a diamond job.' ... The read through is a day when cast and crew gather to run through scripts. It usually happens in a nondescript meeting room at BBC Wales' Llandaff headquarters, and it's a chance for the gang to reunite and catch up on news. But it's also a pressurised process, according to Eve Myles. 'I'm terrified at the read through,' she says. 'You go in and it's so exciting to see everybody. You're sitting with 20 or 25 people including the whole cast, make-up, costume, crew, producer. There's a lot of pressure on you as an actor to make it work, because if you don't make it work it will get changed. It's probably the ugliest part of the production - it's not like we've got anything to prove to each other, but it's still a really nerve-wracking experience
Jean Marsh ("The Daleks' Master Plan," "Battlefield") and Simon Williams("Remembrance of the Daleks") are currently starring on stage in the west end with Alan Bennett's "The Old Country". Also, Martin Jarvis("Vengeance on Varos") is currently on stage with Diana Rigg in "Honour" for an limited run.
Michael John Attwell died on 18 March according to an obituary in theIndependent: "He also took two roles, 18 years apart, in Doctor Who, as Isbur, one of the alien race from Mars, in 'The Ice Warriors' story (1967), and Bates, one of the Cybermen's slaves on their home planet of Telos, in 'Attack of the Cybermen' (1985)."
Bruno Langley is mentioned on Yahoo News (with a brief reference to Doctor Who) regarding his tour with A Taste of Honey.
A postscript to last autumn's regular news of the sales and chart success of Panini's Doctor Who Annual 2006. Last week's trade magazine The Bookseller published its chart of Top 20 Children's Hardbacks (52 weeks ending 31 December 2005), and the annual is placed at no. 14, with total sales of 82,040, a level of sales similar to those for a number of Lemony Snicket titles and perennial kids' favourite The Very Hungry Caterpillar (the runaway no. 1 was, of course, the latest Harry Potter novel, with almost 3 million sales - nothing else is in that league).
The controversy caused by the recent promotion of The Science of Doctor Who by Paul Parsons in BBC Focus magazine (OG news, 21 March) is covered by BBC News in an article entitled 'Doctor Who book furore rumbles on'. According to the report, the BBC has now stated that the matter is 'being reviewed as a matter of urgency', because magazine editor Parsons may have broken BBC editorial guidelines in promoting his own book. "A BBC spokeswoman said that with the new TV series of 'Doctor Who' to be broadcast next month, the April issue of Focus has 'The Science of Doctor Who' as a feature with an angle suitable to the magazine's popular science and technology content. 'Given that Paul is a Doctor Who expert, it was only natural that he write this article. 'The Science of Doctor Who' is offered as a gift to new subscribers in the April issue on the subscriptions page and in the editor's letter,' she said." Also reported at Brand Republic.
Meanwhile, today's Daily Telegraph today has a lengthy article by Parsons looking at the 'real science' behind the TV series. "Is there any real science in the TV series? Paul Parsons examines what's possible. So, beware that your garden doesn't rise up and bite you... To fans of Doctor Who, which returns to BBC1 next month, the good doctor couldn't possibly exist without his Tardis. After all, time travel makes the programme tick. But isn't Doctor Who stretching reality a bit too far? What about all those futuristic baddies and technology? A close parallel between real science and fiction has remained with the programme for more than 40 years - ever since the first episode went out on November 23, 1963, the day after President John F Kennedy was shot. The doctor has fought genetically modified Daleks; encountered nanorobots that can heal your every ill; owned a robot dog (20 years before Sony); and explored a virtual-reality world called the Matrix back when Keanu Reeves was knee-high to a memory card. The new series, with Scottish actor David Tennant playing the eponymous Time Lord's 10th incarnation, sees the return of his old adversaries the Cybermen. These hybrids of man and machine were created in 1966 by the show's then science adviser, Dr Kit Pedler of University College London. Fascinated by new developments in transplant surgery, Pedler imagined the Cybermen as a race that had given themselves so many cybernetic implants that little of their original bodies remained. So what about the science in the show - time travel, sonic screwdrivers, cosmic empires? And what is the big deal about hiding behind the sofa…?" Read the full article at the site.
TV Guide magazine reviewed "The Unquiet Dead": "Having gone into the future, our Geordie-or-somwhere-else-in-Northern-England-voiced doctor boogied into the past with Rose. Incidentally, I thank the folks who pointed out that the doctor does not have a Cockney. As John Lennon sang, I should've known better. My only defense is that my computer was giving me fits, causing my brain cells to click together like one of those swinging marble novelty items that sits on the desks of bored executives. (As much as I like the attention, please don't inundate me with pedantic e-mails about the history of swinging marble thingies.) The TARDIS was playing games of her own. Instead of going to 1860 Naples, like the doctor programmed her to, it deposited the Time Lord and Rose in 1869 Cardiff. Notice how the doctor made Rose change her clothes ('You'll start a riot, Barbarella!') without bothering to change his own? Apparently, leather jackets and T-shirts don't raise eyebrows among the 19th-century Welsh. I loved how Rose tentatively placed a footprint in the snow as if she was leaving her own imprint on the past. A lovely touch. I wonder if the TARDIS is drawn to trouble because it dispatched the pair just as corpses began roving about the streets of Cardiff. Merry Christmas, everybody. The mystery involved a seemingly haunted undertaker and a very Scrooge-ish Charles Dickens, who was flabbergasted by the starstruck doctor ('I'm your No. 1 fan!'). Christopher Eccleston has a knack for overplaying a scene without overstaying his welcome the awful pun ('I love a happy medium') came with a delightful knowing wink. Billie Piper plays the straight woman, but Rose is so well developed that Piper turns even the most obvious scenes (e.g., talking with Gwyneth about a lad's 'bum') into little gems. Most importantly, the producers (Russell Davies I'm sure made this a priority) have done a terrific job maintaining the doctor's balance of genius and humility. He makes mistakes and people don't always walk away. The doctor wanted to let the gaseous creatures keep the corpses ('It's like recycling') until they could build their own bodies, but he was duped and Gwyneth died. 'There are more things dreamt of in Heaven and Earth than we will ever know,' Dickens reminds him. 'Even you, Doctor.' The coda was perfect Dickens runs through the streets shouting yuletide greetings. But what else can we expect from the new Who, a mind-bending adventure with a heart amidst the delicious rapid-fire dialogue. This is as good as sci-fi -- and Sci Fi -- gets."
Another article on the US broadcast of the new series - and the DVD releases of the original - at Now Playing Mag: "Now that Britain's beloved Doctor Who has found a home on an actual American TV network (albeit a basic cable net), it seems that the treasured titular time traveler may finally have a chance to break out in the U.S. as a full-fledged icon and escape the dubious trappings of convention halls and late-night, sweaty chat-room sessions. Now Playing recently spoke with some of the folks at the BBC who are orchestrating the Doctor's American invasion on the Sci Fi Channel and on DVD, and we discussed the future of the character - and his past, as well, of course. 'Securing a TV platform for Doctor Who [in America] is great news as the exposure from the TV broadcast, combined with joint BBC Video/Sci Fi marketing initiatives, will ensure maximum exposure for both the TV broadcast and the DVD release,' says Burton Cromer of BBC Worldwide Americas. 'It will also enhance the popularity of the show, as it will introduce Doctor Who to a whole new generation of fans.' The deal with the Sci Fi Channel was only just announced in January, but it quickly led to a rescheduling of the DVD release of the first series (or season, for us Americans) of the new Who. Originally planned for February, the series one box set is now slated for a July bow in the States. 'Doctor Who: The Complete Series One will be released on July 4th, directly following the airing of the final episode on the Sci Fi Channel,' says BBC Video's Laura Palmer. 'This very special collection has over four hours of DVD extras.' In the meantime, those looking to catch up on old school Who will have the continued DVD releases of the earlier episodes of the show to rely on. While the current incarnation starring Christopher Eccleston is being referred to as 'series one,' in fact the show dates back to 1963. The new BBC Video release Doctor Who: The Beginning is a great way to dive into the past of the Time Lord known as the Doctor, and even though this collection represents the earliest adventures of the character, it's taken quite some time to get the episodes out on DVD. '[That's] really for a couple of reasons,' explains Steve Roberts of the Doctor Who DVD restoration team. 'The DVD releases worldwide are driven from the U.K. release schedule, and these three stories were only released in the U.K. on VHS about five years ago. As we're selling mostly to fans who will have bought these VHSs anyway, we're making a conscious decision to leave a gap. Secondly, with the recent transmission and release of the new series bringing a whole lot of new fans to the show, it felt like the right time to show them how it all began.' Roberts adds that despite the episodes on The Beginning being some 43 years old, there weren't really any huge technical hurdles when it came to bringing them to DVD. 'The original 16mm kinescope camera negatives made for overseas sales still exist. We've had a lot more problems on some of the newer stories, to be honest!' he says, while adding that extra features haven't been a problem for the older releases either, despite their age. 'Actually, a surprising number of the cast and major production personnel from the very beginning are still very much alive and kicking - and in some cases still working in film and TV! One reason for this was that the original production team and cast were generally in their twenties, with the exception of [original Who actor] William Hartnell, so they're now only in their sixties or seventies. We basically have to take each show [one] at a time and look at the possibilities. In most cases there are enough people still around to make a specially-shot feature a possibility, but if not we can fall back on video of convention appearances, material from television archives, etc.' Alas, don't expect DVD releases of full seasons of the show to become a regular thing, despite the series one set. BBC prefers to release the Doctor's older adventures in more of a 'greatest hits' sort of fashion. 'It looks like we will be doing an arc box set every year though, along the lines of those arcs we released on VHS,' says Roberts. 'Our main aim is to try to present a good mix of stories from throughout the show's history, mixing both the ‘classics' and the less well known stories to try to keep fans happy while giving them a chance to experience these less well known titles earlier than we did for VHS. … I realize that this is contrary to the current practice of complete, extras-light season box sets of other TV series, but Doctor Who is such a unique series that BBC Video believes that each story deserves the space to tell its own tale.' Bottom line: The BBC has high hopes for Who's American coming out party. 'The new series will introduce a whole new fan base to the elements in Doctor Who which carry over from series to series - the quirky attitude, the imaginative monsters, the entertaining variety of experience that time/space travel affords,' says Palmer. 'And [we hope] that the new fans will seek that experience with other Doctors.'"
A note to US viewers: The documentary 'Over the Edge' that is on the third disc of the new DVD release The Beginningcontains rather large spoiler clips for both 'Boom Town' and 'The Parting of the Ways'. Any new US viewers who are watching the show on Sci Fi for the first time should avoid watching this documentary until they've seen the complete first season.
Doctor Who is up for two Spacey Awards, viewer-given awards from the Canadian SPACE network which has shown the classic series; the website ishere. Doctor Who is up for the "Favourite TV Show" award while Rose Tyler is nominated for "Favourite New TV Character".
The 1976 Splink road safety film featuring Jon Pertwee has been voted 15th favourite public information short in an online poll at the BBC News Magazine website. The film was among 22 featured on the site last month to mark the 60th anniversary of the UK's Central Office of Information. The full story and list of votes can be found at BBC News. Nearly 25,000 people voted in the poll. The piece adds: 'The National Archives has launched a new website to mark the anniversary, which makes many public information films available, including all those featured in our festival and 67 others . . . Films can be viewed online or downloaded to devices such as video iPods or PSPs.'
Last week's edition of the free UK newspaper Metro featured a "60 Second Interview" with cryptozoologist Richard Freeman and how he got into his career path: "In two words - Doctor Who. I grew up when Jon Pertwee was in the lead role in the 1970s. He was incarcerated on Earth, so the monsters always seemed more scary. I was already interested in animals and that got me interested in reading about monstrous creatures.'"
The Dalek cakes that have been widely reported are available in Sainsbury's and soon will be available in Tesco and Asda, according to the manufacturers. "Our aspirations are to produce this cake for as long as the BBC enjoys its success with the series of Doctor Who and will be linking with all the key features for this brand."
The Milton Keynes Citizen reports that a local man "hopes to exterminate the competition in the London marathon...by running as a Dalek! Bob Johnson, of Keynes Close, Newport Pagnell, is piecing together the full-size legendary Dr Who robot in time to battle his way through the crowds in the April 23 event. But despite his evil exterior, Bob assured the Citizen it will all be for a good cause. Bob said: 'I'll look like an idiot, I know, but I'm hoping to raise over 5,000 for Willen Hospice so it's well worth it!' The computer simulation and engineering expert is a regular participant in the marathon, but never has he undertaken the race carrying such a gruelling load. Bob said: 'I've certainly bitten off more than I can chew this time! It's been a nightmare putting the metal parts together but there are a number of small problems still to contend with. One is running 26.2 miles in the first place, another is running it in an outfit weighing 30lbs and finally, I'll be trying not to fall over in the crowds!' "
The Daily Record on March 23 noted that Doctor Who made the top 20 in a survey of 8-12 year olds by a soft drink firm on their 'all time top heroes'.
Also: the Mirror covers the BAFTA award nominations.
(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Chuck Foster, John Bowman, Peter Weaver, Dion Page, Graham Kibble-White, Benjamin Elliott, Bill Albert, Neil Marsh, Craig Brierley, Matthew Godley, and Adi Himpson)