Saturday, 30 December 2006

The Week in the Press


December 30, 2006  •  Posted By Stephen Blake
With Christmas fast fading and the New Year upon us, here's a roundup of some of the massive press coverage over the past couple of weeks.

The Runaway Bride

The Daily Mail writes: "New water crisis as Doctor Who drains the Thames".

"He has already caused disruption to a number of London landmarks. Now Dr Who drains the Thames in a Christmas special, The Runaway Bride, to be broadcast on Christmas Day ...

"A horde of alien spiders make their base under the Thames and when the Doctor and Donna - the runaway bride in the title played by Catherine Tate - escape from the lair, water pours in, emptying the river. The scene sees the pair standing on top of the Thames Barrier, staring out across the city minus the Thames.

"Asked what other landmarks in the capital he wanted to target, Tennant suggested Buckingham Palace. He joked: 'Let's blow that up, come on!' He added Madame Tussauds was also in the Doctor's sights. Donna, from Chiswick, becomes the first woman to turn down Dr Who's advances at the end of the programme."

The Times has an interview with Catherine Tate. On her character in The Runaway Bride, Donna "doesn’t want to be with the Doctor. She just wants to get married." 'Tate wasn’t a huge fan of Doctor Who as a girl. "I was more into The Kids from Fame," she says laughing. "I think Rose (Billie Piper’s character, now departed) is the reason so many girls are into it now." Tate’s daughter Erin, 4, is a fan – "she loves the Cybermen".

The Guardian lists this year's Doctor Who Christmas special as "unmissable TV this Christmas" and one of the "best shows on the box".

"While it feels as if the Doctor Who Christmas special is a fixture of the festive season, this is only its second such outing. Here, the Doctor has Catherine Tate at his side to fight Sarah Parish's Big Bad - half-woman, half-spider, the Empress of [the] Racnoss."

The short article goes on to mention that "there's a Jo Whiley Meets Doctor Who special on Radio 1 on Christmas Day, The Sarah Jane Adventures are on BBC1 on New Year's Day, along with, on BBC3, the explosive conclusion of Torchwood. BBC7 also plays host to a new story, Blood of the Daleks, on Hogmanay."

Meanwhile, the Sun, under the headline "It's time to lord it up, Tate", had this to say:

"Killer festive decorations, slayer Santas and a flesh-eating spider - it can only be the Doctor Who Christmas special. David Tennant is his usual quirky self, but The Runaway Bride really belongs to Catherine Tate. Her character Donna is bristling with rage at being beamed into the Tardis while half-way up the aisle. Donna is more than a bit Lauren-esque [her schoolgirl character from The Catherine Tate Show] as she screeches at the Timelord: 'No stupid Martian is going to stop me getting married.' Even when she gets kidnapped by a Father Christmas in a taxi, the Cockney secretary deadpans, 'You ARE kidding me?'

And, in the Metro's "Tate takes a trip in the Tardis": "Catherine Tate takes a trip in the Tardis with Doctor Who - and turns down the chance to be his assistant. The comedienne appears in BBC One Christmas episode The Runaway Bride - where the Doctor, played by David Tennant, ends up falling for her. In their final scenes he asks her to join him on his time-travelling adventures but she leaves him heartbroken by saying no. Catherine admitted: 'I was devastated. They'd have made a great team. They're a slightly unconventional pairing. They don't really get on at first but by the end they have rather fallen for each other so it's a bit of a shame.'"

The Telegraph covered the story with "Evil monsters from Doctor Who? Am I bovvered, asks Tate". In the article,David Tennant talked about returning to the show without Billie Piper: "Tennant admitted he has found it hard to adjust to life without her. 'It was a little bit odd going back in July - it was like going back to school and all the old team was still there except Billie, so it was very different. But I loved working with Catherine and I suppose that's what acting is about, you develop these new relationships. The show is different and just as good."

Tate is quoted about her not being asked to stay on as a permanent companion and how much fun she had on the show. The Sun also had a piece on (as they put it) Tate's "Doctor Who snub".

There's also a story about Tate and the Christmas special - "Tate's Christmas Date with the Doctor" - on line at BBC News.

In the Glasgow Daily Record's "Am I Bovvered?": "Telly funny girl Catherine Tate is set to make history by becoming the first woman to turn down Doctor Who. Catherine - whose characters include rebellious schoolgirl Lauren and the outrageous swearing Nan - joins Scot David Tennant for the Christmas Day Doctor Who special The Runaway Bride. Catherine plays the bride who finds her wedding day interrupted by an alien plot to destroy the Earth. After losing his former companion Rose - actress Billie Piper - the Doctor invites bride Donna to live in the Tardis. But she declines in the final moments."

In another on-line BBC News story, entertainment reporter Kevin Young discussed "What TV critics watch at Christmas": "With hundreds of programmes on offer throughout Christmas, what do the people who spend their lives reviewing TV shows want to watch?". He talked about a handful of programmes, including The Ruby in the Smoke (Piper) and This Life Plus 10 (Joe AhearneJulie Gardner), but singled out Doctor Who.

"There is no doubt about it - Doctor Who is this year's overwhelming festive favourite among TV critics. 'I'm so desperate to watch this that if our TV broke down, I'd just go and knock on the neighbours' door, and invite myself on to their sofa,' says Caitlin Moran, a columnist at The Times. 'Then I'd ask them to go into the kitchen for a bit so they didn't ruin the atmosphere by talking.'"

In the Mirror's, "How very dare you": "[…] Tate has told how her hopes of becoming Dr Who's new sidekick were dashed when BBC bosses snubbed her, despite starring in the Christmas special. The award-winning comic appears in The Runaway Bride as the timelord's temporary assistant Donna who is mysteriously transported into the Tardis during her wedding. But yesterday Tate claimed she was not even considered for the permanent role left vacant by Billie Piper who played Rose Tyler for two series."

There was a long article in the Manchester Evening News under the headline "Doctor Who: Bovvered?", which also made mention of the Civil Partnership of Matt Lucas, who appeared opposite Tennant in Casanova: "Tennant gave nothing away about his future at today’s first screening of the Time Lord’s latest Christmas special. It was a relatively early start in London’s Soho, bearing in mind he’d been at yesterday’s wedding of Little Britain star Matt Lucas. For those anxious to know about Matt’s panto-themed reception, David went as Buttons and Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies was, of course, a Dame."

In its article, the Western Mail, concentrated on the Sarah Parish's role as the Empress of the Racnoss in "Move aside Daleks for the scariest monster ever": "Younger viewers may find the half-human, half-spider Empress of Rachnos too scary to watch. Cutting It star Sarah Parish is unrecognisable in the role.

"She admitted that even her own family might run for cover at the sight of her character when they sit down to watch the festive episode, called The Runaway Bride. 'I've got four very excited nieces and I don't want them to hate me,' she said. 'I think it's behind-the-sofa scary, not nightmare psychiatric ward scary.' David Tennant, who plays the Doctor, added, 'It's the right side of scary.'"

The Manchester Evening News also covered this story under the headline "Cutting it as a Doctor Who baddie". As didSky News in its "(Dr) Who's The Monster?".

Though the press coverage for the Christmas special was overwhelmingly positive, not everyone was happy, however. In the process of being generally miserable about Christmas television, Nicholas Barber in the Independent, finds time for a pop at Doctor Who, too: "The second most popular programme of Christmas '05 was a Doctor Who 'special', so there's another one on this year - but how special can it possibly be? An hour in duration, it's only 15 minutes longer than the dozen other Doctor Who episodes that we've already seen this year."

John Barrowman

John Barrowman is interviewed on Rainbow Network. Barrowman remarks that: "Towards the end of Doctor Who, Jack was becoming more human - I mean human in the sense that he was starting to feel for other people rather than just thinking about himself. As Torchwood begins, he's lost some of that. He doesn't always consider other people's feelings - his priority is the good of the world.

"A life-long fan of Doctor Who, John admits that his home is stuffed with Captain Jack memorabilia, including his racy leather trousers, squareness gun and the bullets he aimed at the Daleks when we last saw him."

On the Weevils, Barrowman describes them as "one freaky bunch of aliens […] and every once in a while a Weevil goes rogue and attacks. That's when we have to step in because they can be mighty vicious."

David Tennant

Top of the Pops magazine (BBC, issue 153) has quotes from David Tennant. Asked how he feels to be the most popular actor on TV, Tennant replies: "It's nice to know that people are grateful for what I'm doing. It's a great honour." On whether he will be staying on as the Doctor: "As long as I don't get the sack, I'll do another series." And on whether Tennant is living life to the max: "I'm keenly aware, all the time, of failing in some way. That feeling never goes away. With hindsight, I'll probably wonder why I didn't make the most of it."

There is also a small interview with Yasmin Paige who plays Maria in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Paige comments that: "My character moves in next door to SJ and they end up fighting aliens together. She's very quirky, loves technology and aliens." Paige mentions that her favourite scene from the Christmas episode is "the factory explosion. I was so nervous because I haven't experienced anything like that before. It was just amazing."


Christopher Eccleston

From the Australian publication The Age comes the essay "Timeless - why I Love Doctor Who", an affectionate run-down of ten reasons that make the 2005 series of Doctor Who a hit with critics and audiences everywhere.

While, WCET 48 Cincinnati, OH has issued a press release regarding their acquisition of the Christopher EcclestonDoctor Who episodes. The full release is available here, but this is the abbreviated version: "WCET has purchased the new Doctor Who series to air this Spring. It will air Thursday nights. WCET is currently one of 4 PBS broadcasters in the US airing the classic series. Grace Hill, CET's Programming Director, noted: 'We're pleased to be bringing more Doctor Who to CET. This series has been a success worldwide, and we can't wait for the new series to come on our air.'"

Miscellaneous

In "Who's The Top Toy?", the Daily Record ran a piece about the popularity of Doctor Who toys this Christmas. "Dr Who proved the biggest hit with the kids this Christmas as merchandise from the show continued to fly off the shelves. The popularity of the BBC1 show saw supplies of Daleks, Cyberman Voice Changers and Sonic Screwdrivers outstrip demand, according to the UK's biggest toy store chain. Toys R Us said stores were forced to source Doctor Who merchandise from across the world to keep up with demand. And in-store displays were being replenished up to five times a day in November and December."

Media Guardian is running a story about how the way the music charts are calculated in the UK is to be shaken up so that it will take account of track downloads from albums, even old albums, in future. Tests show that the ELO song "Mr Blue Sky" would have registered in the chart with this new system after its appearance in the Dr Who episode Love and Monsters. Full story in the Media Guardian.

Lalla Ward received a mention in an article - "Preaching to the converted", which was an interview with her husband Richard Dawkins - in the Telegraph. The relevant piece concerns whether it was Dawkins who once said that "a dog-collar was always a sign of a low IQ"?

"At this Dawkins, quite unexpectedly, starts to giggle. 'Actually, that was my wife [the former Dr Who actress, Lalla Ward]. What, in fact, she said was that whenever she sees a dog-collar, she imagines one of those electronic streamers going round and round saying, "Low IQ, Low IQ, Low IQ…" But she was only joking,' he adds, not altogether convincingly.

"'Besides,' he says, 'I think it's important to remember that you're dealing with a whole spectrum here. If you've got a Creationist who claims that the world is only 6,000 years old, I'd say that person was both pig-ignorant and thick _ thick, because if you're that ignorant you really ought to be doing something about it. But with someone like the Archbishop of Canterbury, it would be quite wrong to say that he's thick. I'd say mistaken, put it that way.'"

(With thanks to Kenny Davidson, Benjamin Elliott, Chuck Foster, Paul Hayes, Andrew John and Peter Weaver.)