As we approach the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who, revisit the story of Doctor Who, the occasional series written for the 50th Anniversary, explaining the origins of the programme.

Episode 4 - An Unearthly Series - The Origins of a TV Legend: First published 25 Jul 2012

Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling to star together in Doctor WhoBookmark and Share

Monday, 2 July 2012 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Diana Rigg and Rachael StirlingThe BBC have announced on Twitter that Dame Diana Rigg is to appear in Doctor Who alongside daughter Rachael Stirling; lead writer Steven Moffat said:
Dame Diana Rigg, Rachael Stirling and a Mark Gatiss script - a combination of talents you could only get in Doctor Who! Frankly, I'm terrified already!
The script commences filming this week, with the pair "playing a mother and daughter with a dark secret". The story is set in Yorkshire, with filming kicking off today at Roath Lock Studios and Bute Town in Rhymney, which stands in for a village in the county.

Diana Rigg is of course best remembered as Emma Peel in the 1960s series The Avengers, and also became James Bond's short-lived wife in On Her Majesty's Secret Service; however the actress has had a long career covering stage, screen and television including The Assassination Bureau, Diana, Bleak House and The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries. She also hosted the PBS series Mystery! for some 15 years.

On her appearance in another sci-fi/fantasy institution, she said:
The first time Rachie and I will be working together is on an episode of “Doctor Who” specially written for us by Mark Gatiss. How lucky is that?

Meanwhile, her daughter's career has encompassed starring as Nan in the controversial BBC adaptation of Tipping the Velvet, with other television appearances including The Young Victoria, Boy Meets Girl and last year's Women in Love; she has also appeared in films such as Centurion, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Snow White and the Huntsman. The actress is also no stranger to the world of Doctor Who, featuring alongside Tom Baker and Louise Jameson, playing Demesne Furze in the recently released Big Finish Fourth Doctor adventure Trail of the White Worm.

On her latest role, Rachael said:
What joy. I am looking forward to the madness of Doctor Who enormously. Mark Gatiss has written a gift of a script and an on-screen relationship between Ma and I that is truly delicious. We have never before worked together because the offers have not been tempting, but when such a funny and original script comes through you know the time has come.

FILTER: - People - Guest Stars - Production - Series 7/33

David Warner to star in Doctor WhoBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 27 June 2012 - Reported by Marcus
Actor David Warner is to guest star in an upcoming episode of Doctor Who.

The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine reports that the veteran actor will take a role in a story penned by Who stalwart, Mark Gatiss, which is part of the recording block currently being completed in Cardiff.

Warner has had a long and illustrious acting career appearing in films such as The Omen, Time Bandits, Tron, The Lost World, Titanic and Planet of the Apes. He has appeared in the Star Trek films The Final Frontier and The Undiscovered Country as well as playing Gul Madred in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although Warner has not appeared on television in Doctor Who before, he has lent his vocal talents to the series when he provided the voice of Lord Azlok in the animated adventure Dreamland, first shown in 2009. He has also appeared in many audio plays for Big Finish Productions, where he has played an alternative version of The Doctor.

The story, due for transmission in early 2013, will be the fifth script for the series by Mark Gatiss, whose last script, Night Terrors, was shown last year. Gatiss told Doctor Who Magazine he was thrilled to be writing for the Eleventh Doctor once more, this time alongside his new companion played by Jenna Louise Coleman. It will be directed by Douglas MacKinnon who directed The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky in 2008.

The story will also star Irish actor Liam Cunningham, who has appeared in a number of film and television productions including A Little Princess, First Knight, Jude, Dog Soldiers, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Clash of the Titans, The Guard and the BBC One science-fiction drama series Outcasts, and more recently has become known to international audiences as Ser Davos Seaworth on HBO's Game of Thrones.

Two guest stars have also been confirmed for the previous episode recorded, the first to be filmed with Jenna-Louise Coleman. Written by Luther creator Neil Cross and directed by Jamie Payne, both of whom are making their début on Doctor Who, the episode will star Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine.

Scott is a Scottish actor who has appeared in films such as Enigma, Desperate Housewives and, recently, in My Week With Marilyn , while Raine is best known for playing the lead role of nurse Jenny Lee in the BBC1 drama series Call The Midwife.

An updated cast list for each story can be found in the Doctor Who Guide.

FILTER: - Guest Stars - Production - Series 7/33

Christmas Guest Stars RevealedBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 21 September 2011 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Outnumbered star Claire Skinner will be joining the Doctor Who team for the 2011 Christmas Special. Skinner, who was spotted last week filming for the special, will play a super-mum, Madge Arwell, in the story set in the middle of winter during World War II.

Showrunner Steven Moffat promises the episode will be the 'most Christmassy ever' with a chase through a 'Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe' type forest, complete with an ice villain. The story sees the Doctor acting as the caretaker of a creepy old house in Dorset before embarking on an adventure with Madge and her two children Lily and Cyril.

Moffat said how much he enjoyed writing the Christmas special for Matt Smith:
The Doctor at Christmas - nothing is more fun to write. Maybe because it's so his kind of day - everything's bright and shiny, everybody's having a laugh, and nobody minds if you wear a really stupid hat. Of all the Doctors, Matt Smith's is the one that was born for this time of year - so it's the best news possible that he's heading back down the chimney.

Joining Skinner will be comedian and presenter Alexander Armstrong (who also plays Mr Smith in The Sarah Jane Adventures), Fast Show veteran Arabella Weir, and comedian Bill Bailey, who said on Twitter:
Tour done, wine is on,thanks to all who came along-back to Blighty to film Doctor Who Christmas Special..Onward!

Claire Skinner

Claire Skinner is currently starring as Sue Brockman in the BBC One hit Comedy Outnumbered, which is currently in its fourth series.

She trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and her first role was in Hanky Park, by Walter Greenwood at the Oldham Repertory Theatre. She later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company appearing in Measure for Measure at the Young Vic. On stage she has appeared in Charley's Aunt, Othello and most recently in Deathtrap at the Noel Coward Theatre in London. Film roles include parts in Sleepy Hollow, Bridget Jones's Diary and And When Did You Last See Your Father?

She is married to Doctor Who director Charles Palmer.
Bill Bailey

Bill Bailey is an English comedian, musician and actor.

Best known for his stand-up work, Bailey is a well known figure on many comedy panel shows, such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Have I Got News for You, Just a Minute and QI.

Bailey was listed by The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy in 2003. In 2007 and again in 2010, he was voted the 7th greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups. He provided the voice of the sperm whale in the 2005 film The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and has had parts in Burke and Hare, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang and Skins.
Alexander Armstrong

Alexander Armstrong is is a British comedian, actor and television presenter.

He co-starred in four series of Armstrong and Miller from 1997 to 2001 alongside his university contemporary Ben Miller. He played David Cameron in the satirical fictional documentary The Trial of Tony Blair and a sex-addicted guest in Hotel Babylon in 2007. He appeared in the 2007 Christmas Special of the classic BBC sitcom To the Manor Born playing Adam fforbes-Hamilton, the nephew of Audrey DeVere. He has provided the voice of Mr Smith, an alien computer, in The Sarah Jane Adventures since the series began in 2007.

He currently hosts the BBC daily Quiz show Pointless.
Arabella Weir

Arabella Weir is a British comedian, actress and writer.

She is best known for her roles in The Fast Show and for writing several books including the international best seller Does My Bum Look Big In This? She is a regular contributer to the BBC2 comedy series, Grumpy Old Women. She makes regular appearances in the BBC Radio 4 comedy series Smelling of Roses and "Down the Line". Weir played an alternate female version of the Doctor in the Big Finish play Exile. In the E4 teen drama/comedy Skins she appeared as as the mother of Michelle Richardson.

Production continued for the Special this week, with the cast and crew settling in for filming yesterday at Uskmouth Power Station.

Details on filming at the power station that may be considered spoilers.

The site was set up to look like a futuristic corridor. A fire engine was also in attendance, and earlier reports had indicated that a canal boat was to be "blown up", though it is believed that such an idea was dropped due to health and safety issues at the power station. Matt Smith (or stunt double) was also seen at the location.

Photo: Steven Joes, via Yfrog

Photo: Steven Joes, via Yfrog

(with thanks via Twitter to: Steven Joes, Stez Hughes)

FILTER: - Specials - Guest Stars - Production

Katherine Jenkins talks to Radio TimesBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 7 September 2010 - Reported by Marcus
Katherine Jenkins has been talking to this week's edition of Radio Times about her role in the Doctor Who Christmas Special.
I’ve not done any acting before, so I wasn’t sure if I even could. But I read for the part and on my 30th birthday, they called to say I’d got it. Matt Smith and Michael Gambon have been really encouraging. I can’t wait to see the results.

I learned so much from simply watching Michael Gambon, and he was always telling great stories about all the actors he’s worked with – Matt and I would sit and listen to him for hours.

FILTER: - Specials - Guest Stars

Guest Stars confirmed for Christmas Doctor WhoBookmark and Share

Monday, 12 July 2010 - Reported by Marcus
Doctor Who: Christmas
NB: Press Release link contains spoilers for those who have not seen The Big Bang.

The BBC has confirmed veteran actor Michael Gambon and opera diva Katherine Jenkins will guest star in the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special.

Production starts today and will continue until August.

Michael Gambon is one of the UK's most respected actors, best known for his role as Philip Marlow in BBC television serial The Singing Detective and for his role as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film series.

Katherine Jenkins is a Welsh mezzo-soprano who has sold more than 4 million copies of her studio albums. This will be her first acting role. Arriving on set for her first day of filming, Katherine Jenkins said
I'm over the moon to be involved in the Doctor Who Christmas Special – I can't quite believe it as it's a part of the family tradition at the Jenkins household. I heard the news that I got the role on my 30th birthday and it was the best birthday present ever!

Steven Moffat, Lead writer and Executive Producer on the series commented:
Oh, we're going for broke with this one. It's all your favourite Christmas movies at once, in an hour, with monsters and the Doctor and a honeymoon and – oh, you'll see. I've honestly never been so excited about writing anything. I was laughing madly as I typed along to Christmas songs in April. My neighbours loved it so much they all moved away and set up a website demanding my execution. But I'm fairly sure they did it ironically.

FILTER: - Doctor Who - Guest Stars - Series 6/32 - Press

Eleventh Doctor and Jo Grant to visit Sarah Jane AdventuresBookmark and Share

Monday, 19 April 2010 - Reported by Josiah Rowe
Sarah Jane AdventuresThe BBC Press Office has announced that The Sarah Jane Adventures will have two special guests when it returns for a fourth series this autumn. In a special two-part story written by Russell T Davies, Matt Smith will appear as the Doctor, and Katy Manning will guest as the Doctor's former companion Jo Grant. Manning starred in Doctor Who opposite the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, from 1971 to 1973. Manning has recorded audio adventures for Big Finish Productions, but this will be the first time she has played Jo Grant on television in thirty-seven years.

The press release includes reactions from Elisabeth Sladen, who plays Sarah Jane Smith, Manning, and Sarah Jane Adventures executive producer Nikki Wilson:
Elisabeth Sladen, who plays Sarah Jane comments: "It's a fantastic script and I can't wait to work with another Doctor and hope Matt has fun with us. I've known Katy for ages and I am delighted to be working with her. I last met her in LA but this time we will be in Cardiff. LA was good but Cardiff is better."

Katy Manning, who recently returned to live in the UK again, adds: "Playing Jo Grant again is something I never really considered. I was gob-smacked when they told me and I am over the moon. What an incredible little treat. I come home and this is one of the first things that happens."

Executive producer Nikki Wilson says: "We are absolutely thrilled to be introducing Sarah Jane and the gang to both The Eleventh Doctor and Jo Grant, and to have a script penned by Russell T Davies is the icing on the cake!

"Viewers are in for a real treat, with an action-packed story full of Russell's usual wit and warmth, which takes the gang inside a secret base beneath Snowdon and introduces brand-new vulture aliens, the mysterious Shansheeth. All this, plus a trip to an alien planet – a first for The Sarah Jane Adventures."

FILTER: - Guest Stars - Russell T Davies - Matt Smith - Classic Series - Sarah Jane

Casting Update: James CordenBookmark and Share

Monday, 22 February 2010 - Reported by Chuck Foster
The Sun's latest casting news reports that Gavin and Stacey writer/star James Corden will appear in the new series of Doctor Who later this year. The actor was said to have been seen learning his lines on train to Cardiff, and confirmed the news when approached by a fan.

The "show insider" said:
We normally keep our guest stars under wraps but you can't hide a bloke like James. He loves coming to Wales, and it gives him a chance to meet up with Ruth Jones, who co-wrote Gavin and Stacey with him and starred as Nessa. We're just delighted to have James on board. He is a great actor and he'll be a perfect fit for the new Doctor Who.
The actor's role in the series has yet to be revealed.

FILTER: - Guest Stars - Series 5/31

Casting Update: Nina WadiaBookmark and Share

Saturday, 13 February 2010 - Reported by Chuck Foster
The Sun has reported that Eastenders actress Nina Wadia is to appear in the forthcoming series of Doctor Who later this year.
The actress reveals in the article that she will portray a psychiatric doctor, one who is not particularly pleasant and 'a bit of a baddie'.

The actress indicated that her role was filmed over a couple of days, and that she enjoyed working with new Doctor Matt Smith.

FILTER: - Guest Stars - Series 5/31

2010 Characters RevealedBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Actress Neve McIntosh has revealed in an interview in the Perthshire Advertiser that she will be appearing in a two-parter for the next series of Doctor Who - the interview also mentions the role she will be playing, although characters are yet to be officially announced.

On the role:
Edinburgh-raised Neve (38) will be appearing in two episodes of the next series of Dr Who beside new time-traveller Matt Smith. It’s a dream-come-true for the sci-fi fan, who reckons the latest occupant of the Tardis has the potential to out-strip his predecessors Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant.

She said: “I think he’s going to be really good, the best yet out of the new guys.
“The stories have got a bit darker. I play twins, and they’re big lizardwarrior women. They’re one of the Silurian tribes that have been undisturbed under the earth. And of course we get disturbed. It’s the first time I’ve worn prosthetics but I’m still recognisable if you know me well enough.
Neve is also revealed as a Doctor Who fan herself:
Neve, who also appears alongside Welsh actor Robert Pew and The Kumars at No 42’s Meera Syal, impresses as a genuine Who expert. She confessed: “I remember the end of Jon Pertwee and the awesome Tom Baker, who were bridged by Sarah-Jane. A friend gave me a copy of the first Silurian story with Jon and the Sea Devils, and they came back later with Peter Davison. It’s great. I love Dr Who.”

The two-parter itself has yet to be formally announced, but is believed to comprise episodes eight and nine; the Silurian-sounding titles are rumoured to be:
8. The Ground Beneath Their Feet
9. Cold Blood

Filming and photos for these episodes were reported on the news page back in October.

FILTER: - Guest Stars - Series 5/31

Episode Titles RevealedBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 3 February 2010 - Reported by Marcus
Matt SmithSteven Moffat has revealed the titles of the first few stories of Matt Smith's era as the Eleventh Doctor.

The series begins with The Eleventh Hour written by Moffat himself and is believed to follow directly on from the regeneration in The End of Time. Episode Two is The Beast Below also by Moffat with Episode Three seeing the return of the Doctor's greatest foe in Victory of the Daleks by Mark Gatiss.

Speaking to Doctor Who Magazine, Moffat also confirmed a number of guest stars for the new series coming to the UK in the Spring.

Arthur Darvill will join the cast of Episode One as Rory. Darvill was previously seen in Little Dorrit, playing Tip Dorrit in the 2008 series.

Sophie Okonedo stars in Episode Two. She recently seen playing Winnie Mandela in the film Mrs Mandela and has previously starred in series such as Criminal Justice, Father and Son and Clocking Off. Her role as Tatiana, the wife of Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in the genocide drama film Hotel Rwanda, earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. For Doctor Who she played Alison Cheney, a companion of the Doctor in the 2003 webcast, Scream of the Shalka.

Bill Paterson joins Episode Three. The Scottish actor's long career features appearances in The Killing Fields, A Private Function, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Chaplin, Richard III, Miss Potter and Creation. His television roles include Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Smiley's People, The Singing Detective and the ITV version of Doctor Zhivago. Science fiction fans will remember him from his two roles in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio dramas: as the Playbeing freighter pilot in the Secondary Phase, and as "rain god" Rob McKenna in the Quandary Phase.

Also in Episode Three is Ian McNeice. McNeice had a memorable role in the award-winning series Edge of Darkness. He has appeared in a number of films, including 84 Charing Cross Road, Day of the Dead, No Escape, From Hell and The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, and is well known to TV fans as Baron Harkonnen in the Sci-Fi Channel original miniseries Dune and Children of Dune and the Forum Crier in the HBO series Rome.

Episodes Four and Five see the return of Alex Kingston as River Song. Kingston first played the role in the Tenth Doctor's episodes Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead also written by Steven Moffat. She is best known for her role as Dr. Elizabeth Corday in the NBC television series ER and has appeared in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, A Pin for the Butterfly, Croupier and Boudica.

Episode Ten sees Tony Curran join the cast playing Vincent Van Gough in the Richard Curtis episode. Curran has appeared in many films including Shallow Grave, Great Expectations, Gladiator, The Mists of Avalon and Miami Vice.

FILTER: - Guest Stars - Production - Series 5/31