Here's a quick recap of the major news items of the past few days; the rest of the press from the past eight days will be included in a proper (and quite large) TARDIS Report column on Sunday.
Latest Schedule Changes
The first showing of The Age of Steel this Saturday on BBC One is now confirmed in a 50-minute 6.35pm to 7.25pm timeslot, overlapping with CBBC's repeat of Totally Doctor Who 6 from 6.30pm that evening. Doctor Who Confidential follows immediately at 7.25pm on BBC Three, repeated on Sunday night/Monday morning at 3.25 am. A Cut Down version will be shown on Sunday 21st at 7.45pm and on Friday 26th at 9.45pm - both of these follow repeat showings of 'The Age of Steel' at 7pm and 9pm. There are also two more chances to see BBC Four's Time Shift documentary, Machine Men, on Friday 19th/Saturday 20th at midnight and 2.50am.
BBC Three's weekday evening repeats of Series Two begin on Monday 22nd at 7pm with New Earth (not The Christmas Invasion) and continue through to Rise of the Cybermen at 7pm on Friday 26th, ahead of that evening's 9pm repeat of The Age of Steel. There have been wildly different versions of BBC Three's schedule available from the Radio Times website and other online listings guides. The print version of Radio Times, however, lists five editions of Confidential Cut Down at 7.45-8.00pm each evening, covering first showings in this format of New New Doctor, Fear Factor and Friends Reunited, as well as Script to Screen and Cybermen. Since this is the schedule that seems to make the most sense, it's the one Outpost Gallifrey is using in our Broadcast Calendar on this page, although it obviously remains subject to change. It is not known whether these BBC Three repeats will include the red-button commentary now available on BBCi with the regular Sunday and Friday repeats.
This week's Radio Times selects The Age of Steel as its 'Drama of the Week', calling it "very possibly the best episode yet". A sequence from the episode is also Alison Graham's 'Moment of the Week', with her short write-up managing a fairly comprehensive spoiler for the scene in question. The magazine also previews the episode as "the best yet", commenting that David Tennant is "such a good actor. It's instructive to see how utterly at home he is in a role he's made his own. Frankly, it's impossible not to sigh in sheer admiration." The episode listing runs: "The continuation of last week's story. Terror mounts as the Cybermen seize London. Can a daring raid stop them in their tracks?" The accompanying 'Doctor Who Watch' feature is just one page this week, most of which focuses on Mickey Smith, with Noel Clark commenting that this is the episode "where his development really takes shape. He sees what he could become and he becomes it." The same page (and the magazine's cover, the seventh cover mention in eight weeks) promotes the latest selection of free stickers, which this week come glued to Mickey's face on the Doctor Who Watch page. There's also another letter, this time praising School Reunion and The Girl in the Fireplace as giving "a moving new dimension to an already timeless character." Finally, a three-page article on this year's BAFTA winners includes photos of and comments from David Tennant, Russell T Davies and Billie Piper. The Radio Timeswebsite has a number of photographs and video footage of the BAFTA-carrying stars at the after-show gathering. The site's Doctor Who section (link here) has been updated to include a Cybermen photo gallery and a competition running until 2 June to win Dalek posters and an iPod nano.
Blue Peter and Other TV Coverage
Monday's Blue Peter feature on the Cybermen can be seen online from the official site or from the Blue Peter site. Following that feature, K-9 made a very brief appearance on Tuesday's edition of Blue Peter to confirm that he will be accompanying presenter Gethin at the 'Bark in the Park' event - details at the Blue Peter website. In next Tuesday 23 May's edition, "Gethin investigates the real-life story of the invention which inspired the clockwork monsters" in The Girl in the Fireplace.
As Outpost Gallifrey reported on 27 April, David Tennant has donated a signed script to a charity sale in a church in Scotland, and the story has since been covered in a number of press and online reports, including CBBC Newsround on Tuesday. The next day's BBC One edition of Newsround included a quick report on the story, played over clips from The Christmas Invasion.
Noel Clarke was scheduled to "takes time out to chat about his Doctor Who character" on GMTV's Entertainment Today from 8.35am on Friday 19 May.
The Age of Steel Pre-publicity
There have, so far, been no trailers for The Age of Steel on BBC television this week, although the episode (and its earlier timeslot) has been promoted by continuity announcers during several programme links.
The official website was updated on Tuesday lunchtime, its new flash-animated homepage accompanied by the sound of marching Cybermen and links to some of the series' spin-off websites (Cybus Industries and Vitex). The photo gallery for the Cybermen story has been expanded to 37 pictures, and a range of sounds are avaiable for download, as well as Tardisode 6 and a Fear Factor rating of 5 (Terrifying).
Guest star Roger Lloyd Pack has been interviewed by BBC Norfolk, including a slide-show from the episode this weekend.
BBC One's listings for the week say of The Age of Steel: "The Cybermen take control of London and start converting the populace. While Jackie falls under Lumic's control, the Doctor, Rose and Mickey are reduced to fugitives in a world of terror. A last, desperate attack on the Cyberfactory is their only chance - but will they all survive?" (Link here) The same site says of this week's Totally Doctor Who: "Camille Coduri, better known as Rose Tyler's mum, Jackie, is back for more juicy gossip. Plus Andrew Hayden-Smith joins us on the sofa to talk acting, presenting and Cybermen! The Companion Academy turns up the heat as the cadets are put through another testing task when they are told to Face Your Fears. Liz takes a trip to The Mill, where the amazing computer generated Doctor Who effects are brought to life. And we go totally behind the scenes to see how a BIG explosion can be done on a very small scale."
In this week's Heat magazine, reviewer Chris Longridge notes that: "You won't be too shocked to learn that the gang survive last week's cliffhanger. With Trigger from Only Fools and Horses poised to take over the city via his earpods (imagine what he could do with an earpod nano), the Doctor infiltrates his robofactory - formerly known as Battersea Power Station - while Mickey literally has a word with himself and bucks up enough to finally do something useful." He gives The Age of Steel 5 stars, and Heat places it at number 9 in its Top 10 Best TV Shows of the week.
Closer magazine writes that: "The Doctor, Mickey ad Rose are still stranded in parallel London, and those pesky Cybermen are still clunking around the capital, trying to "upgrade" the population. The Doctor and his merry band of resistance fighters must launch one last dangerous assault to save the day. It's a tough episode for Rose too as she sufers not one, but two, heartbreaking goodbyes."
Star magazine has The Age of Steel as one of their Picks of the Day - "In the conclusion of this two-part episode, the dreaded Cybermen are running amok in London. Jackie is already under Lumic's control. Meanwhile the Doc, Rose and Mickey are fleeing for their lives. Their only hope for survival is an attack on the Cyber factory."
Other Press Items
Broadcast Now reports that "BBC1 is the UK’s most creative channel, according to Broadcast’s first Creative Report, an analysis of the most acclaimed British programmes, producers and broadcasters over the last year." The report says that "the channel's dominance in the drama series category is fuelled by hits such as Doctor Who and Bleak House." Doctor Who takes third place (behind Sex Traffic and Little Britain) in its chart of the top 10 most creative programmes, and topping the list of most creative new programmes (first shown in 2005). The report surveyed 300 programmes, taking into account awards wins and nominations over the 12 months to May 2006.
Great news for all Russell T Davies fans and British viewers who grew up watching Children's BBC in the early 1990s. Davies's two highly-regarded children's fantasy serials, 1991's Dark Season and 1993's Century Fallsare due to be released on Region 2 DVD in the UK by 2entertain Ltd on July 17. Dark Season, Davies's first full drama script for television, co-stars a young Kate Winslet, while according to former Children's BBC presenter Andi Peters on BBC Four's Russell T Davies - Unscripted documentary in 2005, Century Falls was regarded as so potentially disturbing for younger viewers by BBC bosses that they forbade any repeat screening. Neither serial has been released on VHS or DVD before, and while Dark Season was repeated on BBC One in 1994 and the CBBC Channel in 2001, Century Falls has remained in the vaults since 1993.
Various sources are reporting that on Saturday, ITV suffered the worst audience share in its history. Says the MediaGuardian (http://media.guardian.co.uk/overnights/story/0,,1775328,00.html subscription link): "Saturday's FA Cup final has been dubbed the greatest ever and the BBC1's near three hours of nailbiting live football helped condemn ITV1 to its worst ever daily audience share. ITV1 had a share on Saturday of just 11.8%, half a percentage point lower than its previous record low on July 2 last year, when BBC1 was showing live coverage of Live 8... Overall, BBC1 had an all-day share of 36.4% against ITV's 11.8%. Channel 4 came third, with 8.1%, followed by BBC2, 7.4%, and Channel Five, with 5.2%."
Says BBC News Online's coverage: "An ITV1 spokesman said: 'A big sporting occasion like the FA Cup Final will often cause a ratings blip.' A BBC One spokesman said: 'We are delighted that the thrilling FA Cup Final and the Cybermen's return to Doctor Who proved a winning combination to BBC One viewers.' Some 8.6 million watched Doctor Who. Last week, ITV announced plans to axe a string of programmes in a bid to refresh its main channel's schedule."
(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Paul Hayes, Peter Weaver, John Bowman)