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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon
Today's Daily Star reports that there may be a cameo appearance this year by football star David Beckham! "The Real Madrid ace, 30, is a massive fan of the BBC1 show. Wife Victoria, 31, bought him a whole stack of Dr Who goodies for Christmas and admits Becks is 'completely obsessed.' Now we can reveal that the England captain is about to get a cameo role in the next series, thanks to writer Russell T. Davies. Russell, 42, told the Daily Star: 'I have heard Becks is a big fan of the show. Well, I'd love him to be in it. I am looking at ways we can write him into an episode.'" A separate report in the Daily Star says that "BBC bosses are lining him up for a guest appearance".

Today's The Independent notes that "On Christmas Day, the new series of Doctor Who started, with David Tennant falling unconscious from the Tardis as the latest avatar. Not exactly the right season for a resurrection (but I don't suppose that devout Whooligans are going to be fussy about that), and the good news is that Tennant makes a winningly puckish Timelord. Russell T Davies, the architect of Who's renaissance and the writer of this Christmas special, had a lovely time with his festive gags. The aliens who decided to invade Earth first appeared as a group of murderous Santas armed with high- calibre brass-band instruments and later tried to kill the Doctor and his assistant with a remote-controlled Christmas tree. But he'd also managed to smuggle a bit of a political motto into the cracker. 'He's not my boss and he's certainly not turning this into a war,' said the female PM, when asked whether she'd consulted the American president about how to deal with the aliens. ... I think even the Queen may have enjoyed the joke about the Royal Family, up on the roof of Balmoral and prepared to jump to their death after the mass hypnotism of the human race ... "

Canada's Toronto Star previews "The Christmas Invasion" tonight (we've been told that the BBC embargoed coverage in Canada until after the UK's transmission). "It's an almost Dickensian, picture-postcard British Christmas -- snow falling fluffily to the ground, cheery carollers wending their way through cobblestone streets, brightly wrapped presents under the tree, department-store Father Christmases ringing bells -- at least until the tree turns into a whirling green buzz-saw of death, and the Father Christmases are revealed as zombie robots armed with flamethrowers, harbingers of an evil alien race bent on seizing the planet for their own nefarious purposes. This looks like a job for ... Doctor Who. ... Imagine what it must be like for Billie Piper, the doctor's (both of them) travelling companion in the current series, now filming its second season. Particularly since, unlike the fans, until she showed up on set last year, Piper had never even seen an episode of Doctor Who. 'We were never really a TV family,' allows the pop star turned actress by cellphone from Cardiff, Wales, after a long day of battling intergalactic evil. 'We were always very big on films. But TV, I don't know, it wasn't a big thing in the house. So I kinda missed out on it. I remember people talking about it a lot in school, and at times I did feel I was missing out on something special. But before I did Doctor Who, I wasn't a huge sci-fi fan.... What's so great about Doctor Who is that it celebrates life and humanity -- I really missed that before. And now it's something that I'm such a huge fan of, and advocate Doctor Who in such a strong way. It's topical, it's about life and existence and how greedy and how hateful we are at times, and how we forget how wonderful things can be and how special and extraordinary life really is. ... Lots of people are asking, Are you scared about the new doctor coming on, and how he's going to be received? And I've never for one moment thought, you know, people are not going to like him. I think people will love him! He really, really plays with it — it's very kind of light and free, a very energetic performance ... it's just great. I mean, I loved working with Chris, and I think that he is an incredible actor. David matches Chris, and then goes off and does his own thing, and in that way is truly unique.' ... While American fans wait for their first glimpse at the reborn series -- a first-season DVD set is apparently imminent -- Canadians can look forward to a second season chock full of Who-vian delights, including the return of the Doctor's robot dog, K-9, and a guest appearance by a former companion, Elizabeth Sladen, who rode the TARDIS as Sarah Jane Smith from 1974 to 1977, alongside Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. It was a rare chance for current companion Billie Piper to make a connection to the show's storied past. 'She was so lovely,' Piper says. 'Just absolutely incredible. It was very different for her, in the old studio, with, like, 12 cameras.... I think it came as a bit of a shock when she started (with us). But soon she was completely back on track, and loving every moment. I actually think she prefers it.' Piper hopes to one day be able to return the favour, and finally get around to some of Sladen's old Doctor Who adventures. 'I still haven't yet,' she sighs. 'It's just an issue of time, really. The thing about making Doctor Who is that it becomes your life, and anything outside of that ... I mean, really, the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is go home and plow into some Tom Baker episodes. But I fully intend to. I'll get a few box sets after Christmas and maybe have a look at them then.'"

The The Northern Echo says that "Unspeakable things were seen on television over Christmas. 'The face of an alien life form was transmitted live tonight on BBC1,' we learnt in Doctor Who. I didn't think this was anything new. After all, Patrick Moore and Vanessa Feltz have been seen on telly screens for years. But they're not Sycorax, who are unique in the intergalactic monster world because the face underneath is even more horrible than the mask they wear to cover it. David Tennant's new doctor was worried about his looks too after taking part in the Regeneration Game. 'Am I ginger?,' he asked companion Rose with a look of horror. Russell T Davies's The Christmas Invasion was quite rightly given centre stage in the schedules by the BBC. This contained all the elements that made the revival of the sci-fi series so successful last year. Tennant has a hard act to follow as Christopher Eccleston made the role his own even though he only hung around for one series. The signs are that the new Doctor will be just as good."

The Daily Mailsays that "former Dr Who star Christopher Eccleston has assiduously developed a reputation as an actor of repute. But when the dour-faced thespian took part in a celebrity Red Cross event in Indonesia for victims of last year's Boxing Day tsunami, he found his fame had not travelled the distance. Eccleston -- who quit Dr Who after just one series -- took to the stage to sing to children in the remote Aceh province. However, none of his audience had a clue who he was. 'It got slightly embarrassing because more of the audience were asking a BBC cameraman for his autograph than Christopher,' says a Red Cross worker. 'They hadn't a clue who he was.' Their confusion turned to laughter as the earnest actor stood up to sing the Frank Sinatra number Nancy With The Laughing Eyes -- and banged his head on the ceiling. The youngsters chortled even more when his head became entangled in bunting. To add insult to injury, when Eccleston decided to make a call from the local airport to say he was on his way home, he discovered his mobile phone had been stolen."

The The Globe and Mail of Canada says of Doctor Who this past year that it "returned amid much hype, but for once the hype was a true reflection of the show's importance. The BBC's decision to revive the hoary old sci-fi series was inspired, especially the decision to use Russell T. Davies (creator of the original Queer As Folk) as the main writer. He gave it a glorious camp quality, and Christopher Eccleston was perfect as the weird doctor. Then, in a twist that could only happen on a BBC show, Eccleston abandoned the role and walked away." Also, Doctor Who made their list of "Ten Shows That Mattered Most in 2005".

Other brief items: Waveguide repeats the story on Tennant watching the program on Sunday night; TV Squadconcludes its "Christmas Invasion" countdown with a review; Lovetripper mentions John Barrowman's civil ceremony; and the Irish Independent has another report on Christmas Day viewing figures.

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Peter Weaver, Graeme Burk)

FILTER: - Specials - Russell T Davies - Press