Thursday, 27 April 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon
Doctor Who Confidential... Cut Down again for rebroadcast? The 7 May repeat of "Confidential" is now listed in a 15-minute space prior to the rebroadcast of "The Girl in the Fireplace". We'll keep you posted.
Elisabeth Sladen was interviewed on BBC One's Breakfast this morning (Thursday). There were clips from 'The Hand of Fear' and 'School Reunion', the latter featuring some material that has not previously appeared in the various BBC trailer packages. The interview, which lasts about eight minutes, can be seen online at BBC News.
The BBC Doctor Who website has undergone its weekly revamp and unveiled its pre-transmission 'School Reunion' theme. As well has the new flash-animated homepage, featuring Rose, Sarah Jane, Mr Finch and some flying Krillitanes, there is a new gallery of seventeen photographs from the episode; the latest 20-second trailer and the third Tardisode are also available on the Doctor Who media player. The downloads page has also been updated this week, with five brief sound clips from 'Tooth and Claw' joining three from 'New Earth'. Also posted, is the Fear Factor entry for this week's episode.
Also, the BBC has opened up a brand new spinoff site after this past weekend's episode, "Tooth and Claw". Visit Torchwood proclaims "Welcome to Torchwood House: Torchwood House is one of Scotland's achitectural treasures. Owned by the MacLeish family since the 1500s, it was purchased by the Crown in 1893. Famed for its beautiful grounds and stunning Observatory, the house was opened to the public in 1981. A real jewel of the Highlands, it has received over a million visitors since opening." The site includes a game revolving around the house's observatory.
School Reunion Pre-Broadcast Publicity
Doctor Who gets its fifth consecutive Radio Times cover mention this week - 'Welcome back, Sarah Jane and K-9!' - echoed in the 'Editor's letter' (p.3) and continued in 'RT recommends... the week's best television' (p.4), with 'School Reunion' chosen as a Saturday highlight: 'An episode to relish'. The regular 'Doctor Who Watch' feature is again three pages (pp.14-16), its main article, 'Friends Reunited', comprising a brief interview with Elisabeth Sladen. As well as dealing with Sladen's reservations over returning as Sarah ('My agent was far more excited than I was'), the piece mentions a dinner invitation - 'Phil and Russell are going for a meal with Billie and David. Oh, and Stephen Fry's going to pop along. I thought, 'Hell, I'm out of my league here!'' - and the read-through for Block One - 'There were abouut 100 people in the room! The cameraman, bless, came up and said he used to watch me as a child.' There is a small illustrated article on rebuilding K-9, with Mike Tucker explaining that 'He was originally made of fibreglass, which is why he's lasted well ... we added rust marks and coffee cup rings, and bits of paint that had flaked off ... we decided that the interior workings should look a bit more as if they'd been designed by a Time Lord and less like radio spares!' Anthony Head is asked about his character, Mr Finch ('oleaginous ... He's a bit New Labour') and about working with K-9 ('A bit like talking to a box on wheels ... it was fun.'). A small photo feature also looks at the new CGI monsters, the Krillitane, whose transformation Will Cohen of The Mill describes as 'more magical and organic, and in keeping with the tone of the rest of the episode - rather oily.' Writer Toby Whithouse is also interviewed, discussing reworking his script: 'It was quite a long process. They said they wanted to bring back Sarah Jane and K-9. 'Aside from that, do anything you want.' So I went away and wrote a story and they said, 'No, that's rubbish. Do anything you want as long as it's not that.'' Whithouse also talks about the special effects required for his episode: 'They calculated how many days of special-effects work would be required and it was about seven years, so we pared it down after that.' As usual, 'School Reunion' is one of 'Today's Choices' for Saturday (p.60), with TV Editor Alison Graham calling it 'a smart and funny episode, considerably enlivened by the initial mistrust and jealousy between Sarah Jane and Rose ... There's emotional depth too ... The final scene ... is a great big 'aaaaah' moment.' This is illustrated with a large photo of the Doctor on a staircase in the school, one of fifteen new picture in the issue, with one of Mr Finch heading Saturday evening's channel listings (p.62). The episode blurb runs: 'The Doctor chances upon erstwhile companion Sarah Jane - can they resolve old scores? - and robotic bow-wow K-9 as he pursues strange bat-like creatures reportedly haunting a school.' In Doctor Who Confidential (Saturday listing, p.63), 'Elisabeth Sladen talks about her return to the series after an absence of 30 years, plus chats with David Tennant and guest star Anthony Head.' And in Totally Doctor Who (Thursday listing, p.101), 'David Tennant talks secrets, competitions and K-9, and Noel Clarke reveals how his car stunt was achieved.' 'Letters' (p.144) includes two contributions, one attempting to rate David Tennant's performance ('brilliantly mercurial') against Christopher Eccleston's ('fascinating tough loneliness'), the other more concerned with how old police boxes are; the same page features a small boxout of Who companion statistics ('32 official companions, 20 women, ten men ... Two companions died, two had their minds wiped' etc.), alongside a cartoon of a Dalek researching Doctor Who in a library. May's DVD release of Series 2 Volume 1 is advertised on page 47 ('The adventure continues on DVD'). And the Radio Times for 13-19 May (out on 9 May) will have a free Doctor Who sticker album and wall chart, with 'free stickers in that and the next three issues' - details are on page 51 ('Subscription offer'). And Lynda-with-a-Y from 'Bad Wolf, Jo Joyner, is revealed as a new regular on EastEnders (p.12).
The Children's BBC website have put up a review of episode three, School Reunion, apparently the first part of a new regular feature in which 'our biggest Doctor Who Fan Lizo will be bringing you his verdict on the week's episode of Doctor Who before it's even hit your screens!'
The Sunday Times says of this weekend's episode, "Old-school Doctor Who fans might well feel a particular frisson of adolescent excitement tonight as Tom Baker's former time- travelling companion Sarah-Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) makes an appearance. She encounters the new -and let's be honest, more attractive -incarnation of her old colleague at a London school that is suffering a nocturnal infestation of bat-like creatures. There are old scores to settle and Rose has a chance to find out how following the Doctor round will affect her life long-term. Devotees of Buffy the Vampire Slayer might also relish an appearance by Anthony Head."
Heat reviewer Boyd Hilton gives School Reunion 5 stars and writes: 'It's always a nervous moment when you get an episode of Doctor Who not written by its new supremo Russell T Davies. Not that many of them ever turn out to be anything other than top-notch, it's just that Davies sets the benchmark so high. This one is penned by Toby Whitehouse, who has previously done episodes for No Angels and Hotel Babylon, and he doesn't put a foot wrong. It's a tale which proves yet again that the producers of the new Doctor Who have fun first and foremost in their minds, as they bring back some faces from the Doctor's past - his former 'companion' Sarah Jane Smith, last seen accompanying Little Britain narrator Tom Baker to peculiar worlds back in 1976, and legendary cute little robot doggy K9. The setting for this mini-reunion is a London school, which is haunted by weird, bat-like creatures at night and run by a dodgy headmaster, splendidly played by Anthony Head, having as good a time as he does when he's the PM in Little Britain.
Heat also lists this episode at number 4 in the week's Best TV Shows.
Closer magazine has this episode as one of their Saturday Choices: 'Diehard Who fans are in for a treat. There's a double blast from the past when the Doc bumps into his old sidekick Sarah Jane Smith, with a rundown K9 in tow. The rusty old hound has seen better days, but he still has enough wag in his tail to help his time-travelling chums get the better of some strange bat-like creatures haunting a school. Anthony Heaed stars as the baddie.'
Inside Soap's Telly Hero of the Week is K-9: 'Readers of a certain age will be pleased to see Doctor Who's plucky robot dog let off the leash once again this Saturday, helping his Time Lord chum defeat sinister goings-on in an English school. To be strictly accurate, however, this is K-9 Mark III - built as a gift for the Doctor's favourite former assistant, journalist Sarah-Jane Smith, who also shows up this week. And while poor K-9 might be a bit rusty and battered these days, he's still got bite - as the Doctor's alien enemies will soon find out!'
New magazine: At number 5 in their Top Ten Picks, they write: 'Poor Doctor Who. The fella never gets a moment's rest. Which is strange, seeing as he owns a time machine. Surely he could park it in a lay-by, have an hours' kip, then travel back to before his nap? Hmm. This week the Doc investigates a London school that's being haunted by bat-like creatures at night.'
Reveal magazine's Pick of the Day, they give this episode 4 stars: 'The latest series of Doctor Who is already gonig down a storm with sci-fi fans after only 2 episodes, but for any still in need of convincing, this edition is bound to seal it. Sarah Jane Smith and her faithful robotic friend K-9 return to lend the Time Lord a hand. The journalist was, of course, companion to Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker in the 1970s, but pops up here when her Gallifreyan friend finds himself in a London school investigating reports of strange creatures haunting the place. Rose also benefits from her predecessor's experience, and learns a few harsh truths about travelling with the Doctor. Elisabeth Sladen reprises her role as Sarah Jane, alongside Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Anthony Head and series regular Noel Clarke.'
Sneak has School Reunion as their Pick of the Day: 'Tonight, Rose and the Doctor end up prowling around a creepy London school which is haunted by bat-like animals. As you do. But will the never-ending sexual tension between the twosome finally crack? Just get a room!'
Star magazine awards this episode 4 out of 5 stars: 'Doc's off to a school in London this week, which is haunted by bat-like creatures. While there, he meets old pal Sarah Jane Smith, one-time companion to the Doctor. She teaches Rose what it really means to be the Time Lord's sidekick.'
Tooth and Claw Reviews
The Sunday Mirror: "Satanic black eyes bulging wide in an expression of freakish fury, thin lips twisted into a horrible leering grimace - and that's just the Doctor! This Tennant guy is really scary-looking. The werewolf was pretty frightening. But nowhere near as spine-chilling as demon-faced Dave. In a big improvement on the half-baked first episode... What DID happen to Tennant's accent? Why did Scotsman Dave decide that the latest time lord ought to speak mangled 'Mockney' - like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins? I mean, gor blimey gov'nor. It's proper 'orrible."
Newsquest Media Group: "If Sharpe's Challenge was slow and dull, Doctor Who was the exact opposite - another pacy, funny, exciting, scary rollercoaster ride involving Queen Victoria, a werewolf, bald kung fu fighting monks and a naked Billie Piper. Only joking about the last bit. Her companion, Rose, was garbed in appropriate 1979 gear, T-shirt and short skirt, for a trip to see Ian Dury and the Blockheads at the Top Rank, Sheffield. Unfortunately the Doctor's time coordinates were out and the Tardis landed in 1879. ... The pair met up with Queen Victoria in Scotland and the monarch was alarmed by Rose's lack of clothing. 'Her nakedness' as she called it. I regret to say the time travellers failed to show due respect to the monarch (played by Pauline Collins having the time of her life). 'Pardon me, your majesty, you will have to leg it out a window,' the Doctor told her as the hairy beast - no, not Prince Albert - pursued them through the old dark house. The monks were determined to keep everyone in the house during the full moon so the werewolf could do what werewolves do - rip people to shreds. This being before the watershed, we were spared the sight, if not the sound, of the grisly deaths. And why, you may well be wondering, didn't the Doctor realise that something was wrong when the royal party arrived at the house and found all those monks? 'They're bald, athletic, your wife was away - I thought you were just happy,' the Doctor told the man of the house."
The Liverpool Echo: "What has happened to Doctor Who? Last time I checked, the acting was almost as plastic as the timelord's adversaries. But Saturday's romp in Victorian Britain was gladly lacking in rubber masks and Lycra leggings. The doctor, ably played by David Tennant, and Rose, the ever-more appealing Billie Piper, faced a truly formidable beast in the form of a werewolf. They were charged with the task of keeping Queen Victoria out of the clutches of the monster hell-bent on destroying the human race and taking over the world - yes, that old chestnut. For a show renowned for its not-so-great special effects, the werewolf was extremely well executed in CGI, demonstrating a willingness by programme-makers to progress from the Play Doh and drinking straws of yesteryear. However next week sees the return of K9, proving the writers have not written off the old characters completely."
Newsquest Media: "So far, Tennant's Doctor has been much too lightweight, with a repertoire of clownish expressions and a laddish demeanour ill suited to the role of a being with enough years of existence on the clock to have learned how to grow up. He wasn't helped in Saturday's episode by Billie Piper's Rose spending the whole time trying to make Queen Victoria (Pauline Collins) say that she was not amused. I certainly wasn't by that tiresome joke and actually cheered when the monarch banished the meddlesome pair at the end of the adventure. It isn't as if Tennant can't do serious - and even magnificently menacing. I saw him in one of those ITV dramas (Secret Smile) as a psycho boyfriend, and he conjured up one devilish look that scared the life out of me! Unfortunately, the CGI werewolf that rampaged through the Scottish manor house on Saturday did not have the same effect. It looked more like something from Ice Age 2 (an overgrown fox?) than a flesh and blood carnivore that you felt could actually do some damage."
There are also web reviews of Tooth and Claw at BlogCritics, TVSquad,Now Playing;
BBC Norfolk features a video interview with Elisabeth Sladen, who reprises the role of Sarah Jane Smith in the episode to be broadcast this Saturday, "School Reunion". "Earlier this month, Lis came to Norwich for a DVD launch event at the Norwich Puppet Theatre, organised by the science fiction store Kulture Shock. While in the city, she spoke exclusively to Martin Barber about working with David Tennant, Sarah Jane's relationship with Rose and her fond memories of her time in the TARDIS." Highlights of the interview: "Why do you think, of all the companions, you're still voted as one of the most popular in the entire series? 'I really don't know. I hit a lovely time in the series. I hit the time of Pertwee and Baker... and sometimes you can almost taste when something is really working. And maybe Sarah was the kind of character that they needed at that time. So she took on the companion that had to be for the series and the companion that they wanted.' ... You've worked with many of the Doctors, but what's it like working with David Tennant? 'I knew that David was a big fan of the series. Before we did the read through he gave me this big cuddle. On the very first day we did some running scenes and he can't half run. I'm in heels, he's in trainers! At the very end of the day we did a very important scene where she meets him and recognises him for the very first time. To me it's very important that the Doctor is alien. You think he's on your wavelength and he's not.' ... This month also marks the release of the Genesis Of The Daleks to DVD. Why do you think it's held up as one of the best ever stories in the series? 'It's really tightly written and you've got David Maloney as your director. From the beginning shot it is so good for what we had to work with at the time. I think Genesis Of The Daleks is a tribute to Doctor Who and our time in it. I'm really so proud to have been part of it.' ... And what does the future have in store for Sarah Jane - will she be back? 'I knew what they wanted and I think she's been used for what they wanted. It's nice to do something and let it stand, leave them wanting. I think it's the last time that you'll see her in the new series, but not the last time you'll have seen Sarah Jane -- I hope not.'"
BBC Somerset also features a video interview, this with actor Anthony Stewart Head who plays the role of the head master in this weekend's episode.
The Stage is claiming an exclusive with news that Billie Piper is 'in talks' to play Fanny Price in an ITV adaptation of Mansfield Park ('ITV moves in to poach Piper'). (In fact, OG first reported the Daily Mirror's version of this story back on 18 November.) The paper repeats suggestions that Piper 'will return for a third series of Doctor Who - although she is expected to bow out early in order to juggle other projects'. The new edition of DWM simply states that 'there has been no official confirmation from the BBC about who will be coming back for Series Three,' although all this is in the context of the production team's hope that this series' ending will remain a surprise for viewers. Also reported at Monsters and Critics, In The News. Also, Piper has been ranked at #11 in FHM's "100 Sexiest Women" poll, as reported at IOL,Irish Examiner, This Is London, Breaking News,Virgin.net, U.TV, The Evening Echo.
The Southland Echo interviews writer Toby Whithouse on his script for this weekend's "School Reunion". "Toby Whithouse grew up in Southend and first started acting at the Focus Theatre Workshop. ... Now 35, he has appeared in several hit TV shows and has written many more. No Angels, the hit Channel 4 show which he helped to create, has just finished but just around the corner is the first public showing of the third episode of the new series of Doctor Who, called School Reunion, in which the Doctor catches up with his former travelling companion Sarah Jane Smith and robot dog K9. Toby's children Lucas, seven, and Maddy, four, have already had a sneaky peak at it and loved it. 'It's the first thing I have ever written that they could possibly watch,' he said. 'They loved it. My son's very proud.' When he started working on Doctor Who, Toby thought he was a bit of an expert because he knew the names of all the actors who have played the Doctor, but he soon found out he was a complete novice compared to the other writers. But he got stuck in regardless and starting writing, assuming Christopher Eccleston would still be playing the Timelord. Last March, after the first episode was broadcast, Eccleston broke the news that he wouldn't be staying for a second series. It was eventually decided to replace him with Casanova star David Tennant. Toby said: 'I started writing it before the first series went out. I found out on the news when I was about halfway through writing the episode. Nobody knew how David was going to do his Doctor. With Christopher Eccleston I knew what his Doctor was like. David had just been on TV in Casanova and I'd watched that and thought he was fantastic. I thought I'd write it as if he was playing that character - without all the sex! That seemed to do the trick.' ... The episode is now a distant memory to Toby who is already working on a fresh project - the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. ... 'It's a mixture of everything I like - sci-fi and swearing,' laughed Toby. He is also working on new series for Channel 4 and the BBC but won't spill the beans on what they are about. One of his biggest hits, hospital series No Angels, ended this month after three successful series."
The Edinburgh Evening News reports that "David Tennant has helped out his father's former church in Edinburgh by donating his copy of the script from the Time Lord's latest adventure. The Bathgate-born actor has given a signed script of the first episode from the new series to St Andrew's and St George's Church in George Street to sell at its annual Christian Aid book sale. David's father, the Very Reverend Dr Sandy McDonald - Tennant is David's stage name - is a former Kirk Moderator who served as minister at the church for six months in 2003. ... Sale organisers are consulting Dr Who memorabilia experts before setting a price on the script, which has also been signed by David's co-star Billie Piper. The script will be just one of the star attractions amongst thousands of books donated to the sale, including a signed copy of Muriel Spark's last work. Mr McDonald, who is now retired and living in Glasgow, said his 35-year-old son offered the script after he mentioned the sale in passing during a recent telephone conversation. He said: 'He is particularly interested in the work of the special sale at St Andrew's and St George's. He and I were talking about it and he offered to give something. The script couldn't be handed over until after the first episode went out on Easter Saturday and I have it now. David is genuinely concerned and hopes the script makes a lot of money for Christian Aid.'" Also reported atBBC News Scotland, icLanarkshire, Daily Record.
The Mirror profiles Mike Tucker, whose work on the original Doctor Who series on its effects led him to do the same for the new show. "When Dalek maker Mike Tucker received his Bafta nomination letter, he was gutted. It's not that he's got anything against being honoured for his TV model-making work, it's that in the same post he received his redundancy notice from the BBC. But at least he could prove he was good at his job - which helped him make the decision to set up his own effects business. 'It certainly sweetened the pill a little,' says the 41-year-old. 'I knew I wasn't being got rid of because my work was rubbish!' But that doesn't mean he wasn't worried about his future. 'I was suddenly thrust into the outside world - I was scared.' He'd gone from working on Daleks and the Big Ben model for the last series of BBC1's Doctor Who to not having a job to go to. But the work he got the Bafta shout for - a reconstruction of the Brighton Grand for a show called The Brighton Bomb - cemented his already-strong reputation. So he used his redundancy money to form his own firm - and he hasn't looked back. 'Setting up on my own has worked out really well. I'm doing loads of work for my old contacts and I've got more freedom now.'"
The South Wales Evening Post says that "The man behind the smash hit BBC series Dr Who could join the judging line-up for the literary world's most lucrative award. Swansea-born writer Russell T Davies is being tipped to play a part in the £60,000 Dylan Thomas Prize. The former Olchfa pupil is very much the man of the moment. He has won a series of top awards for his work on the revamped series. ... The prize is being billed as the world's biggest literary award... The new biennial competition is aimed at young writers and is likely to attract entries from all over the world, putting Swansea well and truly on the map. The only person so far confirmed as a judge is Cardiff-born screenwriter Andrew Davies, famous for popular historical TV adaptations such as Pride and Prejudice. He will chair the panel. Organisers are promising the identity of all the judges will be revealed at a special ceremony in Laugharne next month. But if Russell T Davies is one of them, it will go down well with writer Helen Veale, director of city production company Old Garbo. 'I have met Russell T Davies and he is a lovely chap,' she said. 'I am genuinely a huge fan of his work. He is a great advert for Swansea and he is very supportive of young local talent.'"
The Herald asks Elisabeth Sladen various interview questions: "I still buy records. When I was at school, I used to play poker in the sixth form - and, probably because it was the only record I had, I'd put on Murder in the Cathedral, with Robert Donat. What an amazing voice. I got a copy recently and it takes me right back. ... I love second-hand bookshops. I recently found a wonderful book on the film-maker Alexander Korda. I'm fascinated by the studio system. In one way actors were so manipulated, but in another they got to work so often and learn so much. ... I like to go to a small place outside Palma - and I love going up to Scotland. I don't go to a lot of Doctor Who conventions, but I enjoy them. It's awful to say, but it's interesting to talk about yourself. You have a captive audience. And it was a very fun, happy time on the show. ... I've got a Dalek, because my husband, Brian Miller, was the voice of one. I've also got a figurine of Sarah Jane Smith and a Tardis. It's a nice remembrance. But some of the merchandise in the 1980s was so awful. I actually wrote to complain. ... When I was at a Doctor Who convention at Longleat with Tom Baker many, many years ago, they served the most wonderful venison, and I've always remembered that. I bought some recently and put it in my slow-cooker. I probably overcooked it but it was really good. I'd love to buy more organic, but you have to be realistic. We're told to eat more healthily - but how can people with a large family do that? You go for the thing that says two for the price of one. ... When we moved into our house in London there was everything to do, so we had to take a lot on ourselves. I once loved shopping and going to the antique places - I've just bought a lovely old leather sofa - but I've stopped now because I've got too many knick-knacks. You don't realise, and then all of a sudden you think, gosh, I've got no room. I dream about a clearout. Brian is such a hoarder so I've gone the other way. I'm not allowed in his wardrobe - I know he's got books in there. I'm sure I'll still find the old Betamax video recorder in there too if I look hard enough."
The UK Press Association features another biography/story with Sladen: "On a dark October night in 1976, 12 million people tuned in to Doctor Who, unaware their hearts were about to be broken. Having received the summons to return to his home planet of Gallifrey, the Doctor (then played by Tom Baker) made a quick stop at the slightly less sci-fi location of Hillview Road, South Croydon. It was here he unceremoniously dropped off his long-suffering assistant, Sarah Jane Smith, who reluctantly disembarked the Tardis after three years of memorable adventures at the time-traveller's side. ... For anyone who grew up watching the series during those years, Sarah, as played by Elisabeth Sladen, has indeed remained unforgettable. ... 'I had a call from my agent that [Doctor Who's executive producer and lead writer] Russell T Davies and [producer] Phil Collinson would like to take me to lunch and talk about the show,' explains Elisabeth, who, at 58, incredibly looks hardly a year older than when she last stepped out of the Tardis. I thought they might be asking me to come back for just one small jokey scene, in a little homage to the old programme,' she continues. 'I was actually thinking, 'How can I turn this down? My agent will kill me', because I wouldn't have wanted to have done anything like that.' ... 'I suppose I just thought it was a really good opportunity, and also a challenge to see if we could get it to work.' Despite the fact it's been three decades since she starred in the show, Elisabeth laughs that 'it was surprisingly, embarrassingly not odd' to be back in Doctor Who. 'I just thought, 'Oh, there's the Tardis, there's the Doctor'. Both of them fitted, far too snugly.' Current Doctor and confirmed fan of the old series, David Tennant, has gone on record as saying he found it almost overwhelming to work with Elisabeth, having spent his growing-up years watching her on television. 'I spied him at the read through and he spied me,' she reveals. 'We circled each other a bit, and then I thought, 'Well, how ridiculous'. So I said hello, and I got the biggest hug of my life. I mean, he's absolutely delighted with the role and what he's doing with it now.'"
Sci Fi Wire spoke to Toby Whithouse, who says that "he wasn't as rabid a Who fan as his fellow writers. 'I could probably name all the Doctors in the right order, and maybe four monsters, so I thought that made me quite a big fan—until I met the other writers and realized that I knew absolutely nothing!' Whithouse said in an interview. 'They were genuine lifelong fans, so whereas I'd be standing much more on the sidelines holding the coats, they had all been immersed in that world for most of their lives.' ... 'After we had the first read-through of my episode and a couple of others, I took the train back to London with some of the other writers, and that's when I realized that I was really an amateur in this world,' Whithouse said. 'They had this encyclopedic knowledge, and compared to them, I knew basically nothing.' ... 'The irony is, my episode is the only one that really hearkens back to the past, with the inclusion of the two ex-assistants, Sarah Jane and K9. But I think the advantage of not being really immersed in that world is that when I had the first meeting to talk about my episode with Russell and Julie, and they said to me, 'We want you to bring back Sarah Jane and K9!' had I been more of a fan, the thought of bringing back those two characters would have filled me with absolute terror. I knew they were popular characters within the mythology, but I hadn't realized how iconic they were in the eyes of a lot of the fans. So I think had I been involved more in that world, it would have put the fear of God into me. As it was, I felt it was just another element I had to take on, so it didn't particularly faze me.' Although the writer admits doing some research into Sarah Jane Smith's appearances in the original series, he insisted that the current version is stylistically very different in terms of storytelling. 'Consequently, I think it was more useful to watch Russell's first season rather than go too much into the past. In terms of facts and figures,' he said. 'I actually remembered a little more than I thought I did, and the producers sent me tapes and DVDs of Sarah Jane episodes, which is really what I needed a refresher on. But, as I say, because Russell had reinvented the series, I don't think anyone would have thanked me if I had written a story too much like the previous Doctor Who, because the way it's done now has changed so radically. I think it was more important that I got that right.'"
Sci Fi Wire also interviews director James Hawes who helms this weekend's "School Reunion". "'I think it's going to surprise a lot of people,' Hawes said in an interview. ... 'There's so much going on,' Hawes said. 'From the relationship between the old assistant [Sladen] and the now-assistant [Piper] to the menacing sparring between Anthony Head's character and the Doctor. So you've already got two separate character journeys going on. And then you've got the 'spare part' Mickey, a metal dog, and I haven't even got to the aliens yet. I think the guys at the Mill have done some of their best [computer graphics] work ever, and I'm absolutely delighted with them.' Hawes said that one of the most unforgettable aspects of the episode is the performance by fan favorite Sladen, who reprises her role as Smith from the original series. 'The first scene she did with David was a tiny little scene, with an explosion and the Doctor shouting 'Run!'' he said. 'We had them running hand in hand, so she went right into a piece of iconic, familiar performance as the Doctor's assistant.' Hawes added: 'What Lis was concerned about was that the style of performance on television drama has changed dramatically and is now so much more understated and naturalized. She was concerned that it was something she wouldn't instinctively feel and wanted to watch what the other artists around her [were doing] and asked for guidance whenever she could.' While directing the episode, Hawes admitted that he didn't pay all that much attention to the admonition never to work with children and animals, even if the latter in this case was a robotic dog. 'There was a moment when K9 first came out,' he recalled, 'and I knelt down to give him notes! I fell so completely under his spell that I literally forgot there was an operator I needed to be talking to. The decision was made to build a new K9 for the episode, but he couldn't move around on the parquet floors, because he couldn't get enough grip. And the tiled floor in the kitchen was too rough, so frankly it's amazing that he ever turns up [at] all, let alone saves the Doctor. But it's an extraordinary character, and of course I grew up with K9, so to find him on your set and be so beguiled by the thing that you're suddenly on your knees talking to the dog instead of the operator was an interesting experience.'"
According to the David Tennant fan site, "David will be appearing as Jimmy Porter in the Look Back In Anger reading as part of their 50th Birthday Celebrations on Monday 8th May. They say: Jimmy Porter will be played by David Tennant (Dr Who, The Pillowman), Alison will be played by Anne-Marie Duff (The Virgin Queen, Shameless) and Helena will be played by Helen McCrory (Casanova, As You Like It) " Also, Hello Magazine says "There was no shortage of glamorous gowns on show when the Royal Court Theatre marked its 50th anniversary with a glitzy bash in London. But despite the presence of some of the capital's most stylish women, it was the laid-back look of an eccentric Timelord that turned the most heads on Wednesday night. Doctor Who star David Tennant made quite an impression on the other revellers in the exclusive Titanic bar when he made his entrance sporting a straggly beard instead of his normally clean-cut features. 'It's my new look -- do you like it?' asked the small screen favourite as other celebs in attendance craned their necks to catch a glimpse. With his open-necked white shirt, the 6ft 1in actor easily stood out from the rest of the guests, most of whom had gone for a rather more polished look." And this week'sHeat mentions that "David Tennant will put Dr Who to one side next month to star as a brain injury victim alongside his former Blackpool co-star Sarah Parish. He stars as a building-site manager who suffers personality changes after he's involved in a car accident and has to try to rebuild his identity."
Inside Soap writes, "Fresh from his Doctor Who stint, Christopher Eccleston will return to TV later this year in new ITV1 drama Perfect Parents. He'll be playing a father who pretends to be Catholic, in order to get his daughter into the best local school." Manchester Online also reports that Eccleston will "appear in Celebrity Pig's new production of Romeo and Juliet at The Lowry ... The former Dr Who star became patron of Manchester's Celebrity Pig Theatre Company, which is an independent company for people with learning disabilities, after one of their members - Dorothy Cockin - played his mother in acclaimed BBC drama, Flesh And Blood. ... Romeo and Juliet - A Question of Choice, is a new take on the Shakespearean tragedy of star-crossed lovers, drawing on personal experience of the cast on why it is so difficult for people with learning disabilities to be together. Romeo and Juliet is at The Lowry on Monday, May 15 and Tuesday, May 16."
Whats On Stage discusses the casting of Adam Garcia from "The Christmas Invasion" in the forthcoming London version of the play "Wicked" which opens at the West End's Apollo Victoria Theatre on 27 September. Garcia, who will play the role of Fiyero, helped develop the role in the 2002 workshop of "Wicked" in New York. Also, the Mirror says that "Will Young will be wowing us with some raunchy moves for his next stage show. He demanded film hunk Adam Garcia showed him how to do his dirty dance from Coyote Ugly at London's Paper club on Saturday. A spy tells us: 'The pair were necking tequilas and before long were standing on chairs and dancing. Will asked him to show him the famous raunchy bar top dance. Will caught on really quickly. It was hilarious.' Well, he is Young at heart. '"
Various news services have reported that "Doctor Who fans have been turning up to secret filming locations in Cardiff after being tipped off about the crew's whereabouts. And surprisingly the tips came from the BBC's own website leaving bosses fearing for the cast's safety. A Beeb source told the Daily Star: 'Fans were turning up on set in Cardiff and we couldn't work out how they knew where we were. Eventually one person was quizzed about how he discovered our whereabouts and we were stunned when they told us it was our own website. People were posting sighting so Billie (Piper) and David (Tennant), giving details of their locations within minutes.' The BBC have now decided to censor any items posted on their websites that they feel may put the cast or crew in danger…still there are plenty websites out there that they can't censor." This 'story' actually seems like a collection of misinformation; the official Doctor Who site doesn't have a message board anymore (though they could be referring to the Outpost Gallifrey forum or other communities), and the production office has been fine with fans turning up, so long as they do not impact filming. Reported atEntertainmentWise, Monsters and Critics, In The News.
TV Guide said of the US broadcast of "The Long Game" last Friday, "Oh how I missed the sound of that TARDIS whooshing into some strange, foreign time period or space region. It's too damn cool for words. So is the Doctor quite frankly. It's a shame Christopher Eccleston only stuck around the one season because he's so much fun in the part. However, I await David Tennant's interpretation with an open mind. ... A slightly heavy-handed episode which wouldn't be out of place plot-wise on Twilight Zone, the Satellite 5 visit coasts on mainly on its atmosphere. Rose's beef slushy and Adam's vomit-o-matic experience are both hilarious while the corpses up on Floor 500 are downright ooky. Adam must be one of the shortest-serving and most ignominious companions in Who history. I liked that the Doctor left him at home with that conduit chip still in his head. The greedy little weasel tried to cash in on knowing future events by sending info through Rose's cellphone to his mom's answering machine back on Earth. 'He's your boyfriend,' sniffed the Doctor. 'Not anymore,' retorts Rose. (Can't wait to see her explain this to Mickey.) You can't trust anyone. No wonder Adam worked for Van Statten (and kudos to those who caught me messing up that name...mea culpa), they are a lot alike. The snapped fingers from Adam's mum and her subsequent double take provided the perfect punch line to an entertaining, if unspectacular (IMHO), tale. To be fair, anything would pale after that incredible Dalek episode. Questions: Did anyone else suspect the Ice Warriors when they cut to Floor 500 for the first time? I don't know if this is the Jagrafess's first appearance. (I don't remember him.) And is there something brewing between the Doctor and Rose, romance wise? 'It'll take more man than me to get between you two,' quips Adam in a rare moment of humility (as opposed to humiliation). Later, as Adam is begging for a second chance, the Doctor bluntly tells him off: 'I only take the best, I've got Rose.' Without her, he might just be a giddier House without the pills and with a functioning right leg."
The South Wales Evening Post: "I fear Swansea's Doctor Who script writer Russell T Davies could be in for a hard time, despite more than eight million people watching last Saturday's first episode of the new series. That is very impressive, but it was a noticeable drop compared to the 11 million-plus viewers who had watched last year's first series opener. So: is Russell losing his touch? I sincerely hope not. But if viewing figures start to slump, how quickly will the national (that is, English) newspapers start making a point of mentioning his Welsh origin?"
Said the Derby Evening Telegraph, "It is every Doctor Who fan's dream to enter the Tardis and they can now make that dream a reality at a Derbyshire tourist attraction. Once they step inside they will find only a telephone, rather than a physics-defying time machine, but that has not stopped enthusiasts spending thousands on its restoration. The Mark Two Metropolitan Police box, which is believed to be one of only two remaining, found a home at Crich Tramway Village in the 1970s after being rescued from London's Ealing Broadway. Sci-fi enthusiasts from around the country began raising funds three years ago to restore the 50-year-old phone box after it started crumbling through general wear. Expert restorers spent five weeks fixing the cracked concrete on the box. It was also given a new coat of blue paint to match the Tardis from the popular BBC television show. The enthusiasts are now proud of the final result and it was unveiled at the attraction yesterday."
The Guardian praises the use of signature tunes in series, including noting that "Familiar music as a programme opens is a reassuring device for cushioning change. The exuberant scripts of Russell T Davies may be light years away from the bumbling progress of William Hartnell, but there's always the reassuring whoosh of Ron Grainer's signature tune to tell you it is still Dr Who."
The Daily Record says that "The Doctor went all 'Och Aye The Who' on Saturday, with Timelord svengali Russell T. Davies allowing David Tennant out to play with his Scottish accent for just one episode. Davies denies it, but I'm concerned some suit in the Beeb's bosom decreed that the new Who wouldn't be speaking 'Scotch', because...well, let's remember they chose to subtitle Sweet Sixteen."
The New York Daily News says of the first season of the new series, "Great if you love: 'Veronica Mars,' 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' 'Angel'. What it is: This reimagined version of the British cult hit - with significantly better production values - follows the enigmatic Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and present-day teen (Penelope Wilton) as they travel through time and space, in a phone booth, to save the world. Why you'll like it: The show's naughty humor and likable characters make it easy for science- fiction-phobes to love. Why you've never seen it: The channel itself is the usual barrier for most people, who will admit to liking 'Star Wars' or even 'Star Trek,' but would never call themselves sci-fi fans." Of course, they seem to have gotten one of the members of the cast wrong (Piper, not Penelope!)... but why quibble?
The Times says, "Could any acting role tempt Ian Hislop? 'Doctor Who', the Private Eye Editor tells TV Times. 'I'm a huge fan. If Russell T. Davies wanted me to appear, I'd be there . . . I think it's time for Davros to be back, isn't it?'"
A writer for Media Blvd says, "When I was growing up, many things were essential discussion topics in the school playground: Was George from Rainbow a boy or a girl? Do magic torches like Jamie's really exist? Why can't you reach under a bench and find a perfect model you made earlier when following a Blue Peter make? Who was the scariest baddie in Doctor Who? For me, it was always the Daleks. Way back in the 70's, the highlight of my week was fighting my sister for the cushions in order to hide behind them when watching Doctor Who. With my child's mind, if the Daleks couldn't see me, I was safe. I loved the Doctor, he was an alien, a time traveller, and he didn't die because he regenerated into someone else. He always, always found a way out of trouble despite being stuck in the most frightful of cliff-hangers on a weekly basis. But his enemies were the reason I watched the programme. That, and K9! Excitement mingled with anticipation and fear as the Cybermen or Daleks or one of the other terrifying world-destroying enemies attacked. The cushions on our sofa were well used! Our glee and astonishment shone through when the Doctor once again proved victorious (and we suddenly developed amnesia about the need for the use of the cushion). We didn't notice the wobbly sets, the men beneath the obvious costumes, or the fact that the Dalek weapon was really a sink plunger. We were immersed in a world of terror and joy, and we loved every minute of it. We watched Doctor after Doctor come and go, and changed our favourite Doctor with each regeneration. We fell in love with, or loathed, the companions, and we begged our parents for a K9 dog (our own flesh and bone dogs just weren't good enough after K9!). We worried that the Earth would be invaded, and we would be exterminated without a care. But, above all, we escaped worries of real life for 45 minutes a week and bonded as sisters, and as a family. And then, suddenly, it was gone. Doctor Who was cancelled! ... Yet I was sceptical when I learned of the planned return of this iconic programme. Other remakes or renewals of classics had failed to impress me some had downright infuriated me and I had little hope for the new Doctor Who being any different. I was nervous and sick to my stomach: was my childhood memory about to be destroyed forever? Hope began to burn when I learned of the casting of Christopher Eccleston, and then died again when news broke about the casting of Billie Piper as his companion. How could an ex-teen popstar ever hope to be a serious companion to the Doctor? I expected to hate the new Doctor Who... I was pleasantly surprised! This new Doctor had a Northern accent (always a plus when you also have a Northern accent) and a wicked sense of humour. His comic timing and tongue in cheek, matter of fact delivery won me over. And Billie, as Rose, proved to be an inspired choice. Rose is feisty, modern, intelligent, and far from the helpless companions of old. This is a new Doctor Who. A funnier Doctor Who. The show shines with the typical British sense of poking fun at itself, and not taking itself too seriously, while being totally serious and totally entertaining all at the same time. This Doctor has fun, while also acknowledging the tragedy of life. So what if the monsters are no longer scary? I've grown up, and no longer get scared at these enemies attacking my hero. I admit to a little sadness at this revelation; I think I prefer being the scared child but I now have the adult appreciation of the fear and danger that the Doctor faces instead, which is a consolation. But the cushions in my home are still used. A new generation has discovered the joy of the Dalek, and my daughter now sits and hides her face whenever one shows it's face (or plunger). And so a generation gap has been filled. The children of yesteryear watch the programme with the children of today. One with fond memories rekindled, the other with new memories forged. Doctor Who is, once again, must see TV and Saturday evenings are once again something to anticipate. As Season 2 begins in the UK, with yet another Doctor to get to know and love, my daughter and I will sit huddled together on our sofa (and my sister and her children will be on theirs), and once again, the cushions will be fought over as the scary aliens appear. And maybe, just maybe, a new generation of Sci Fi lovers will be born..."
There's more coverage of several recent stories at the following locations: the Welsh BAFTA awards at ICWales,ICNorth Wales, SyFy Portal,Contact Music, Digital Spy, Yahoo News; the recent Torchwood casting news atSyFy Portal, Digital Spy; Tom Baker out at BT as their mobile voice at VNUNet, What PC, Computing, UPI; the ratings situation atMedia Guardian; the new K9 series at K9 Magazine, SyFyPortal.
Other items: The Independent calls Billie Piper the 19th happiest person in Britain: "Former teen pop star with a failed marriage to DJ Chris Evans. Now at 23 an acclaimed actress and the first assistant in history of 'Doctor Who' to be bigger than the Time Lord."; Unison.ie profiles Sophia Myles from "The Girl in the Fireplace"; Peterborough Today comments on the TARDIS prop arriving at the Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery at the weekend; the BBC Press Office issued a new release about the BBC's vision for new media and technology for the future, including use of new technologies on the Doctor Who site; Now Playing also reviews the Doctor Who novel "The Deviant Strain"; Milton Keynes Todayreports on a London Marathon runner dressed in a Dalek costume; the Oldham Advertiser talks about a fan who took his K9 model out for a walk through Manchester. (Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Peter Weaver, Paul Hayes, John Bowman, Stephen Askew, Simon Bishop)