Friday, 23 June 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon
BBC Books: The Future of Doctor Who?
The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine has a brief interview with Justin Richards about the potential for reviving the past Doctor novel range. Richards points out that the new range of Ninth and Tenth Doctor hardbacks is outselling the earlier paperbacks "by a factor of ten", but goes on to say that "the intention is not just to leave it there, it's a question of 'what' we do with them, not 'if' we're going to do something with them." Since DWM was published, however, BBC Worldwide has announced that BBC Books and the publisher Random House have agreed that Random House will acquire a majority shareholding in BBC Books, moving BBC Books to become part of the Random House operation. Whether this will have any impact on the Doctor Who range is unknown.
The continuing strong sales of the Tenth Doctor novels are confirmed by the most recent Top 20 Fiction charts in the Bookseller, with combined sales of the three titles to 10 June being 70,450 after nine weeks in the top 10. The tenth week, ending 17 June, saw the three novels add another 6,313 copies to that total sale.
TV Schedules: Series Two Updates
The second season of Doctor Who has finally been given a timeslot in New Zealand. It will begin on Thursday 6th July at 7:30 on Prime. The first transmission is the Christmas episode, and the timeslot is for 75 minutes, reflecting that it will likely be shown as originally transmitted in the UK without being pruned to fit a commercial hour. It appears the next episode will be shown with repeats of 'Creature Comforts', the Aardman Animation, from 15 July; 'New Earth' is scheduled for that time according to the ABC program guide).
The Radio Times website is listing more BBC Three repeats of Series Two on weekday evenings, this time as double bills in the run-up to the premiere of episode 13. Listings are currently available only as far as Thursday 6 July (The Idiot's Lantern and The Impossible Planet), so it is not yet known how or if the channel intends to fit in the remaining four episodes before Doomsday is broadcast on Saturday 8 July on BBC One.
Availability of the episode commentaries as red-button extras on Freeview now seems to have been entirely obliterated by saturation of the World Cup - the commentaries have not been run with the past fortnight's BBC Three repeats on Fridays or Sundays, even when Freeview's BBCi channels have been empty. In the commentary for Love & Monsters last weekend ('podcast' as always via the official site), Russell T Davies again mentioned that all the commentary recordings have been filmed and are potential DVD boxset extras.
For those of you who keep writing in to tell us that Canada has confirmed a date... it's Monday October 9 at 8.00pm (and we did report this on June 16 on this very site...) However, there's also other unreported Canada viewer news today: CBC are rebroadcasting Season One at Wednesdays at midnight, beginning this week (Wednesday, June 21st); they're also showing the same episode one hour earlier (Tuesdays at 11:00 PM) on CBC's HD channel.
Tracy-Ann Oberman is interviewed in this week's edition of The Stage. The interview, which covers her whole career, naturally touches on her role in the season finale. "I've always been one of this rare breed of women who is a massive sci-fi fan," she says. "David Tennant and I sat around on set talking about sonic screwdrivers and there was a very special moment when I saw the Tardis for the first time." The Telegraph also interviews Oberman; it says, "Starring in a soap proves a curse for most actors, who can soon find themselves unemployed after being on television three or four nights a week, but not for Oberman. 'As soon as I left, I was sent some Doctor Who scripts. I've been a lifelong fan, a proper 'Whovian' as we call ourselves. They told me to be really hush-hush about the scripts - even more so than with EastEnders - but I can say that my character, Yvonne Hartman, is a very strong human villain. She's almost a match, intellectually, for the Doctor. She collects alien artefacts and sees the Doctor as being the prize alien in her collection.' Oberman smiles. 'Russell T Davies [writer and executive producer of Doctor Who] told me to think of Yvonne as the type of woman who joins the BBC as a tea girl and in 10 years manages to rise to director general. So she's strong but also vulnerable.' Is it true that she brings about the end of the world in the last two episodes? 'I don't know if I'm allowed so say that,' she says. 'Do you think I can mention the Cybermen?' She adds, whispering. 'Perhaps I shouldn't say anything else or I'll get into trouble… but I feel like I'm now part of Doctor Who history, which is amazing.' "
Louise Jameson will be in Alan Ayckbourn's play "Confusions" along with Robert Duncan, Tony Caunter and Andrew Paul at the Theatre Royal Windsor between Tuesday 11th and Saturday 22nd July. For further information, the theatre's website can be reached by clicking here, and their box office is on 01753 853888.
Nicholas Courtney will be doing the readings at a special gala concert in Westminster on Tuesday 11 July, celebrating the life of former British Prime Minister Sir Edward (Ted) Heath, who died last year at the age of 89. Further details are available on the website of the Southbank Sinfonia, the orchestra that will be playing on the night.
Rudolph Walker (Harper in "The War Games") was recently awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday honours list for services to drama.
Tim Pigott-Smith ("The Claws Of Axos" and "The Masque Of Mandogora"), Jo Stone Fewings ("Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways") and Chris MacDonnell ("Dragonfire") will be starring in a revival of "See How They Run" which starts previewing from 20 June at The Duchess Theatre.
The Norfolk Eastern Daily Press interviews Deborah Watling. "Most Doctor Who fans know where to draw the line. They understand that it's a great bit of TV, get slightly spooked by some of the monsters - but know that it is NOT REAL. But for every thousand of them there is one fan who takes it a step (or hundreds of steps) too far. They live for the conventions, dress to kill (hopefully not literally) in their cybermen suits, and display a disturbing knowledge of the planets and monsters that have featured on the show since it began in the 1960s. Deborah Watling knows the type. As former Doctor Who assistant Victoria Waterfield from 1967-8, she gets invited to the conventions and reunions - and has her own exclusive group of followers. She said: 'If your name is on the poster, you have your ardent fans who always turn up to everything and just stand and stare at you. That is rather unnerving.' ... That brief spell on the world's longest-running TV sci-fi show has had a lasting impact. 'I look back on Dr Who as a great part of my life. I didn't know that 39 years later I would still be remembered for it - but people still stop me in the street and call me Victoria. 'People want me to make appearances here and there at Dr Who reunions and conventions. It's very flattering.' She is up to speed with the latest series, which she thinks is 'brilliant', and particularly likes the current Doctor, David Tennant. She said: 'He is wonderful. He reminds me of Patrick Troughton because he has got that twinkle in his eye. Billie Piper is smashing. The show had to be updated and everyone's talking about it. It is terrific to see.' Next weekend, she will travel to Holt as one of the special guests at the inaugural Dr Who Festival, where as many as 100 Daleks could be roaming the streets."
Fear Her Pre-publicity
The Press Office info for Fear Her lists the transmission time as 6.45pm, but Radio Times has since changed this to a 7pm start. That magazine's Doctor Who Watch feature this week interviews writer Matthew Graham, who says the episode is "really quite a creepy story, which hopefully will taph into psychological fears a bit like The Empty Child did". The episode again tops the week's best television selection for Saturday: "Favourite Doctor Who themes of love and loss are explored when the Doc and Rose meet a sinister little girl on the eve of the 2012 London Olympics." It is also the magazine's pick of the day in Saturday's Choices - TV editor Alison Graham provides her usual selection of story spoilers before commenting that "It's a curious episode that's a bit too touchy-feely in parts. Still, it's notable for a remarkable piece of information that the Doc lets slip..." Radio Times also notes that Abisola Agbaje and Edward Thomas will be guests on the 12th Totally Doctor Who, which is on BBC Two next Thursday, displaced by live coverage of the tennis at Wimbledon.
The BBC's official Doctor Who website was revamped with a Fear Her theme on Tuesday afternoon, with its homepage decorated with children's paintings of the Doctor, Rose and the TARDIS. These were selected from hundreds of entries to a recent competition run by the website. The flash animated homepage rotates the four winning entries, along with a painting by "Chloe Webber", the child at the centre of this week's episode... As always, there are also the pre-transmission photo gallery, Fear Factor and TARDISODE. The official site also has the 20-second trailer for the episode, a shortened version of the 'Next Time' trail from the end of Love & Monsters. This trailer debuted on BBC One last Saturday within a couple of hours of episode 10's conclusion and was made available online the same evening. It has since run several times throughout each day this week on BBC One and BBC Two.
On Thursday, CBBC Newsround's Doctor Who mini-site added an interview with Abisola Agbaje (Chloe Webber), alongside Lizo's regular episode preview, which awards the episode only 2 out 5, saying that Fear Her is "not scary enough", has "over-complicated explanations" and "never manages to reach the high standard of what has gone before".
Heat has Fear Her as their Pick of the Day, and Boyd Hilton, awaring this episode 5 stars, writes: "We'd love to be a fly on the wall at the Doctor Who production meetings as Russell T Davies punts ideas around, and says stuff like, "Wouldn't it be good if the Doctor and Rose ended up in London in 2012 to see the Olympics?" That's the best thing about the whole wonderful revival of Doctor Who. Sure, some moments are silly or cheesy or plain ridiculous, but no other show on TV has this level of commitment to letting the imagination run gloriously, giddily free. No other show takes these risks. So here are the Doctor and Rose, landing in east London just in time for the Olympics opening ceremony. But they're soon sidetracked by the disappearance of a number of children all living in the same street where the Tardis lands. There's some lovely spoof TV detective interplay between Billie Piper and David Tennant, some thrillingly clever scenes depicting the opening ceremony, and a delicious joke featuring a poster for Shayne Ward's Greatest Hits." (the magazine has this eppy at number 2 in their Top 10 Best TV Shows of the week.)
Closer's preview reads: "The Doctor and Rose visit London in the year 2012 to check out the Olympics but, as ever, things don't quite go to plan. In a street where the Olympic flame is set to pass through, strange things are happening - a little girl possessed by an alien is kidnapping all the local kids. From there on, the episode turns into a teatime version of The Exorcist, minus the spinning head scene, the green vomit and the expletives. Then the Doctor senses a storm coming, which sets us up nicely for next week's instalment. We can't wait!"
Sneak has this week's episode as one of it's Must-See TV: "The Doc's plans to take Rose to the Olympics in 2012 are scuppered when they discover a girl with scary paranormal powers."
Star magazine gives this episode 4 (out of 5) stars: "It's 2012, the year of the Olympics, and the Tardis lands in London. The Doctor plans to show Rose the Games but, as always, something gets in the way. On a nearby housing estate a terrified mother is hiding her daughter's unearthly and evil powers."
The Sunday Times says, "Londoners planning to abandon their city for a few weeks during the summer of 2012 as the capital's infrastructure is strained to breaking point should enjoy this edition of the revamped sci-fi hit. Thanks to the Tardis, the Doctor plans to take Rose to the much lauded Olympic Games. Unfortunately, any ideas they have of catching a spot of pole vaulting are scuppered by a girl with mysterious powers living on a nearby housing estate (you mean they won't all have been demolished to make way for a velodrome or something?) and it is up to the Doctor to defuse the danger. It's not the most Ken Livingstone-friendly show. Even more rings."
Army of Ghosts Pre-publicity
Outpost Gallifrey has learned that the television trailer campaign will be stepped up again for this episode. A 50-second trailer is currently expected to debut on Saturday evening, although continuing live World Cup coverage means that this remains uncertain. Plans for TV promotion apparently include a 20-second version of the same trailer, with the two versions running throughout the week.
A third Radio Times cover for the series in 2006 may also be a possibility - the current issue's "Next week in RT" blurb leads with "What does the future hold for Billie Piper?" and is illustrated with a small photograph of her, which tends to be a good indication of what will be on the upcoming cover. The issue will be on sale from Tuesday 27 June. And the next issue of Doctor Who Adventures, on sale from Wednesday 28, will preview the last two episodes of the series, as well as featuring a free gift of "a squirty sonic screwdriver".
The Daily Star says of the episode, "Eastenders landlady Peggy Mitchell is horrified to discover Dirty Den's ghost haunting The Queen Vic. The bar boss, played by Barbara Windsor, 69, is seen here trying to get rid of the spirit. A furious Peggy shouts: 'Get out of my pub Den. The only spirits I want to serve around here are whisky, gin and brandy.' The spooky clip will be seen in a forthcoming episode of BBC sci-fi smash Doctor Who. ... The Doc is horrified to see the apparitions popping up everywhere - including on the telly. Even chat show host Trisha Goddard, 48, is in on the act. She will be seen hosting a show called I Married A Dead Man. Viewers will discover however that the Doctor's hunch about the ghosts being 'a front' is right. ... And the time traveller will pay a terrible price."
Love & Monsters Recap
The Times says, "'Do you still have anything left to say about Doctor Who?' my editor asked, with mild disbelief. 'You have now written about this series four times in the past six weeks.' Do I still have anything left to say about Doctor Who (Sat, BBC One)? He might just as well have asked if I have anything left to say about the changing seasons, or the night sky, or my children or, frankly, myself. When something is as good as Doctor Who -- and, currently, it's one of the best things about Britain in the 21st century -- there's always something to say about it. It's like having a conversation about the Beatles. Theoretically, a conversation about the Beatles could span every aspect of humanity, theology, morality, art, sociology, fashion, and continue on up to the point where we die. ... This week's episode was essentially ephemeral. It was a bit of slapstick with Peter Kaye as a vile Absorbaluff -- a lascivious green blob of what appeared to be the expanding foam that you inject into cavity walls, which was sporadically sprinkled with tufts of disturbing black hair, much in the manner of greasy spoon macaroni. Kaye, fairly understandably, appeared to be having a ball -- licking his lips, rolling his eyes and brandishing his hoofy fingers with a well-observed delicacy. ... In the event, the Doctor and Rose appeared merely as guest-stars in their own show -- a small, humorous scrap with a cameo alien, and then materialising in the Tardis for a one-liner. The whole thing was clearly a mid-season intermission. A bit of light relief from the gathering clouds of the story-arc of the series -- which, we gather from hints dropped in previous episodes, will centre on how and why the Doctor ended up killing all the other Time Lords. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this prospect. I was less thrilled and terrified about the impending birth of my first child. However, as the episode was written by Davies, it was an exercise in the scale of the confidence and whimsy an artist can have in his or her Imperial Phase. An entirely digressionary treatise on the joys of ELO, a one-second clip of Elton John, the careless joy of the Doctor and Rose trying to kill a non-essential alien in the style of the Two Stooges -- and then cutting it all dead with an unexpected, chilling line of dialogue, 'Anyone getting close to the Doctor is eventually destroyed.' Even when playing with the loveliest toy a scriptwriter ever had, Davies is hard as nails."
The People said, "Here's Peter Kay as the Dr Who alien Abzorbaloff. Not to be confused with Hayley Cropper's surgeon in Amsterdam. That was Azyorballsoff. Kay's blubbery critter absorbed people into his body. I understand the idea came from watching Bobby Davro absorb other people's jokes into his act. Oddly Peter seemed even stranger as Abby's alter-ego, sinister Victor Kennedy, who could have passed for Burl Ives. Burl sang about the Big Rock Candy Mountain. Victor looked like he'd eaten it."
The Scotsman said, "Now here was an episode of Dr Who with a difference - one where the man who drives the tardis was effectively a guest star. But who could complain when the actors edging him out included Peter Kay, Marc Warren and Shirley Henderson. My sources on the ground tell me that this particular episode has been the subject of much consternation among core Dr Who fans. The handbags at dawn have been caused by the fact that Dr Who has deviated into comedy. There have always been laughs in the series, but for the true believers, this is deadly serious science fiction. In which case, they must have hated this episode. Hustle's Marc Warren took centre stage as Elton, a geeky chap who danced in his bedroom to ELO and dreamt of meeting the Doctor. His internet blogs quickly led to meetings with like-minded folk, including Henderson as equally nerdy Vanessa. Peter Kay pressed the panto button the moment he appeared as the mysterious Victor Kennedy, a dapper chap who wanted to track down the Doctor even more than the Scooby gang did. 'He's an alien,' I shouted at the screen, but no-one threw any sweets back at me. When the moment of revelation came, we discovered that Kay wasn't just an alien, he was an alien with a broad Lancashire accent. All wasn't exactly well that ends well, with the whole gang except Elton having been assimilated by Kay's Abzorbaloff. When poor Ursula was absorbed, he had the cheek to declare 'tastes like chicken'. This was Phoenix Nights meets Dr Who and by the time the Tardis arrived to half-save the day I could almost hear the dismayed chatter of shellshocked former fans. It's true, this episode came close to being a spoof, but it was actually quite nice to have a rest from the Doctor. Even saving the world gets boring sometimes."
Series Three Brief
According to the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, the 2006 Christmas special is now in pre-production, as a one-episode production block (in other words, it won't be filmed in conjunction with any other episodes).
Miscellaneous Press Items
icWales reports that "A building which defined the riches of Cardiff's past and symbolised the decline of traditional industries has been reborn as an icon of innovation and ambition. The former headquarters of the National Provincial Bank in Cardiff Bay is the focus of a multi-million-pound restoration project led by developer Saeed Shad. It will be the new home of Cardiff Chamber of Commerce and an entire floor has been transformed into a film set by BBC Wales for Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood."
Lancaster Today says that "Young Dr Who fan Olly Kay will be making his television debut next week when he's quizzed on his favourite show. Nine-year-old Olly and his family made the trip to Cardiff on Friday for the filming of children's TV show Totally Dr Who. Westgate School pupil Olly pitted his wits against a fellow Dr Who nut in the 'Who Ru' quiz for the chance to win a signed photo and goodie bag. He and his sister Emelia, six, also met several Dr Who actors, including Camille Coduri, who plays Rose Tyler's mum in the series, and Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane). According to his mum Jenny, Olly's obsession with the programme started before he was even born. 'He's been a massive fan all his life – his dad used to play the Dr Who theme tune to my tummy when I was expecting him,' she said. 'He knows everything about it, and thanks to my husband he knows all about the old Dr Who stuff too. They were very impressed with his knowledge.' Olly and his dad Simon have taken their worship of the show to another level – their home in Low Lane, Torrisholme, houses a life-size Dalek and a K9, and they plan to build a tardis next. Even Jenny has finally succumbed to the lure of the show. 'I used to watch it under sufferance but I have been hooked on the new series,' she said. Tune in to Totally Dr Who on BBC1 at 5pm on Thursday to find out how Olly got on in the quiz."
The Register says, "Don't even talk to me. First off, they kill TotP, citing competition from downloads, ringtones and happy slapping. The death of the show that gave us Billie Piper is inevitable TV euthanasia, but it still makes you feel old and bald. Noel Edmonds is so traumatised that he's developed RSI in his elbow (don't start.) Then we heard...oh, you know. The news. The Doctor Who news. The Big Bad Doctor Who News. Who fans will come round and remove my eyeballs with spoons if I give the plot away, so click here for the full spoiler-protected horror. Best make yourself a nice cup of tea first, lads. But it's not all bad news. Cosgrove Hall Films yesterday announced that it's recreating missing eps from the unfinished 1968 Cyberman story, The Invasion. The black and white animation will be unleashed on DVD in November, which, in a shock turn of events, is just before Christmas."
The Mirror picked up the press item about Stephen Fry (gee, I wonder where they got it?)
There was plenty of news coverage of Billie Piper's departure from the series; among the many sources that covered it were Sky News, Ananova,Reuters, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Record, The Guardian, Scifi.com,This is Swindon, Metro, This is Wiltshire, MegaStar, In The News, Kansascity.com, Xtra MSN, IF Magazine, Now Playing, Dark Horizons, ShortNews, MovieHole, TV Squad. Also, the rumors about the various companions being touted by the press can be found at Scifi.com, TMCnet, ITN, Channel 4, Yahoo! News UK, ITV,icWales, Belfast Telegraph.
Another big story this week was the "Invasion" DVD news with the episodes being animated (which we reported a few days ago)... coverage of that has taken place at The Mirror, Yahoo! News, Manchester Evening News, Daily Record, Contact Music, UPI, Netribution, Worldscreen,Animation Magazine.
Other items: Now Playing Mag reviews "Love & Monsters" (and last week's "The Satan Pit" here); TV Squad reviews "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit"; Horsham Online notes that "A visiting Dalek caused quite a stir at Littlehaven Infant School on Saturday (June 17)".
(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Peter Weaver, John Bowman, Paul Greaves, Scott Matthewman, Michael Hartland, Adam Kirk, Neil Marsh, Paul Hayes, Paul Chudobiak, and Michael McManus)