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 3 - An Unearthly Series - The Origins of a TV Legend: First published 14 May 2012

TARDIS Report: TuesdayBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 20 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Among the updates to the official Doctor Who website in recent days, two new games have been added: "Slitheen Surfer", in which the player helps guide Margaret Slitheen and her extrapolator through the debris of an exploded Earth; and "SuDocWho", a variation on current puzzle fad Sudoku, using pictures of the first nine Doctors instead of (or as well as) numbers to complete the grids.

Prospect magazine today calls the return of the Daleks this year as one of the "ten highlights from 2005." "It was a great year for comebacks: Hugh Laurie in House, the two Ronnies (all too briefly), Bob Dylan... Nothing, though, could match the Daleks. This is partly about nostalgia. But even new viewers respond to the strange mix of pure evil ('Exterminate!') and absurdity (creatures with silly voices who want to take over the universe but have only just learned to climb stairs and always lose). They are a sci-fi version of Hitler, which perhaps explains their popularity in the 1960s when British culture was still trying to make sense of Nazism while keeping it at a distance."

The Scottish Daily Record today listed David Tennant as #1 on its list of "100 Hottest Scots" in the men category. "The 34-year-old from Paisley is the hottest man on TV at the moment after bagging the coveted role of Doctor Who Despite appearing in pyjamas in the Christmas special of the sci-fi show, he is sure to set hearts racing with his quirky good looks and brilliant acting. He's sizzling because... more than 10 million viewers will tune in on Christmas Day to witness his debut in the Tardis. He also turned in a superb performance as a sinister stalker in ITV drama Secret Smile and did a credible singing turn in BBC1 musical drama Blackpool. Memorable moment of 2005 was when he cut a swathe through the women of Europe as Casanova in the BBC3 series of the samename - despite being the son of a Churchof Scotland minister."

The Times today says of the Radio 2 documentary, Doctor Who: Regeneration, "Was it the special effects that made the new Who so memorable, or the scripts by Russell T. Davies, or the acting of Billie Piper and, in particular, Christopher Eccleston? And now that Eccleston (above, with Piper) has gone, desperate not to be typecast, can David Tennant hope to match him? Gatiss gets the facts - well, at least some informed conjecture."

Also, a writer in today's Financial Times says that "A TV-deprived childhood has left me impervious to Doctor Who. After hearing Doctor Who: Regeneration, I feel tempted to brand the whole phenomenon as self- important claptrap. This 'celebration', BBC navel-gazing at its most complacent, rolls out Who types starting with writer Russell T. Davies, apparently challenged both adenoidally and glottally - the latter a common complaint among mediafolk such as exec prod Julie who says you know you go' a hi' when you see the viewing figures. This level of insight is continued by the BBC1 controller who notes that the Doctor has brought younger viewers to the BBC in tones that suggest he expected OAPs. Jane (head of drama, BBCTV) talks portentously of Christopher Eccleston 'kicking open the door, and the new Doctor, David Tennant, taking us somewhere we hadn't quite expected'. This is kids' TV, for heaven's sake, not a breakthrough in biological ethics."

Monday's The Sentinel has a feature article about India Fisher of Big Finish. "Gallivanting around the universe in a time machine, tackling the Daleks and imitating pop-brat Kelly Osbourne. These are some of the ways in which the daughter of a Stoke-on-Trent MP has carved out a career for herself. For while ex-Arts Minister Mark Fisher is busy representing Stoke Central as a Labour MP, his daughter, India, has got involved in something far less down-to-earth. The 31-year-old has become an international superstar in the cult programme Dr Who - the audio version. Playing the role of Charlotte Pollard, Dr Who's assistant, India has for the last six years starred in the tape and CD version of the smash-hit drama, which has just kicked off a new series on the small-screen. Much to her amazement, India has achieved superstar status among the worldwide followers of the cult series. The tapes and CDs have winged their way to obsessed fans all over the world, and she has been invited to countless international conventions. And she has also gained fame as a star of TV - acting as Welsh singing sensation Charlotte Church and Kelly Osbourne in the Dead Ringers show which stars John Culshaw. .. 'My brother Rhydian is a businessman so he's the sensible one and I guess we should have followed his lead. But we've always been quite the arty family and I've always had a passion for acting. If I hadn't given it a go, I'd never have forgiven myself - although I might have been much better off financially.' A year and a half ago, Nev Fountain, the writer of Dead Ringers, spotted India at a Dr Who convention in Los Angeles and asked her to play a part in their series. She was an immediate hit. Since then, she has done impressions of Kelly Osbourne, Charlotte Church and even Sonia and Sharon from EastEnders. India said: 'It's tough - they often give you a character they want you to do on the Friday and you have to get it ready in just 48 hours. Sometimes I wonder how on earth I'm going to do it - but it's not an opportunity I can possibly turn down. They needed someone to do the younger characters. I look a little like Kelly Osborne I guess - I've got my dad to thank for that - so I guess I was perfect for the part.' ... But if there's one thing India was, as a Stoke-on-Trent schoolgirl ever-so-slightly irritated by, it was her name. 'My brother's called Crispin, another one is called Rhydian and I'm India so it's an interesting collection of names. Whenever my name came up in the school register, the teacher always used to pause before saying it - she expected the pronunciation to be unique somehow. And the kids in the playground used to jokingly things like: 'So what's your middle name, Pakistan?' I used to wish I was just called something nice and simple like Jane. But I love it now."

An article at Ekklesia comments on the anti-war message apparently to be seen in "The Christmas Invasion". "Journalists who have previewed the episode say that a later scene also recalls ex-PM Margaret Thatcher's decision to sink the Argentine warship the General Belgrano during the Falklands/Malvinas war in 1982. Responding to pre-broadcast comments, award-winning scriptwriter Russell T Davies declared: 'It's Christmas Day, a day of peace. There is absolutely an anti-war message - because that's what I think.' Meanwhile, looking up somewhat wearily from his computer, Doctor Who commentator and fiction writer Mark Clapham told Ekklesia: 'The Doctor has usually been a character who advocates peaceful means before violent solutions. He's not a particularly dedicated pacifist though - he often finds himself having to apply violent solutions sooner or later.' Author and Who analyst Jim Smith, who co-authored the Virgin Books guide Who's Next? with Clapham and Eddie Robson, went on: 'There are many stories which are definitely anti-war. Not a particular war - just war itself. ‘The Crusade' (1965) is specifically about the futility of religious warfare and is even set in Basra. While it's adventure fiction and thus has fighting in it, the whole show is deeply suspicious of politicians, soldiers, military means, military objectives, and so on.' Doctor Who long ago cast an eye on terrorism and possible superpower reactions to it. Says Smith: 'In 1970 ‘The Ambassadors of Death' featured a xenophobic political group trying to scare the whole human race into attacking some harmless aliens.' Whether the Christmas day episode will feature Doctor Who's iconic enemies, the Daleks, remains to be seen. But if it does, the spiritual head of the world's 77 million Anglicans will be on-hand to comment."

Contact Music says that Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson claims he was offered the role of Doctor Who before David Tennant. "The 'I Predict a Riot' hitmaker believes Tennant looks too youthful for the part, and is determined to get his hands on the role. He says, 'It's the kind of thing I've got down for my autumn years. I'm worried David's too young for the part. Eddie Izzard would be perfect. The BBC offered it to me but I was so busy they got a lookalike.'" Uh, right...

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg and Steve Tribe)

FILTER: - Russell T Davies - Online - Press - Radio Times

Invasion, Tenth Planet Audio Press ReleaseBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 20 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

The BBC Press Office today posted a press release officially announcing the audio releases of the classic Doctor Who stories "The Invasion" and "The Tenth Planet", which we previously reported as being in release in January 2006. The press release also mentions the February release of "The Reign of Terror," what it says is "the last of the lost television soundtracks restored for release on BBC Audiobooks." The press release is below. (Thanks to Steve Tribe)
Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell star in these soundtrack adventures from BBC Audiobooks

Doctor Who: The Invasion: Patrick Troughton's Doctor encounters the Cybermen in London in this classic soundtrack adventure, narrated by Frazer Hines.

Arriving on Earth in 1975, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe discover that the component manufacturers International Electromagnetics has a vice-like grip on the world's technology. When he encounters the firm's company director, the Doctor realises that there is something very odd about Tobias Vaughan...

Vaughan is in fact in alliance with the Cybermen, and together they are masterminding an aggressive invasion of Earth. If the Doctor and his friends are to defeat them, they must risk life and limb in an adventure of epic proportions.

In an exclusive bonus interview, Frazer Hines - who also narrates the soundtrack adventure - recalls his experiences of playing Jamie in Doctor Who.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet: The Cybermen make their first ever appearance whilst William Hartnell's Doctor nears the end of his first incarnation, in this classic soundtrack adventure with linking narration by Anneke Wills.

The year is 1986, and at the South Pole the crew of the Snowcap Base have detected a new planet on their radar. The arrival of the Doctor, Ben and Polly at the Base coincides with another landing - that of a spaceship whose humaoid passengers have used cybernetics to replace their limbs and vital organs.

Battling alongside the humans to save their planet, the Doctor appears to weaken and age before the eyes of his companions. An ultimate collapse appears to signal his death - but then..

In an exclusive bonus interview, Anneke Wills - who also narrates the story's soundtrack - recalls her memories of making The Tenth Planet.

FILTER: - Audio - William Hartnell - Classic Series

Television UpdatesBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 20 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

A new trailer for The Christmas Invasion had a surprise airing on BBC One shortly before the 10 O'Clock News last night (Monday 19) and again at lunchtime today (Tuesday 20). Again lasting thirty seconds, it features a number of previously unseen clips, including Harriet Jones appealing on television for the Doctor's help, scenes of people in the streets apparently under the mental control of the invading force, a defiant Rose telling the Sycorax to "leave this planet in peace", and the pyjama-clad Doctor emerging from the TARDIS ("Did you miss me?") to confront the aliens. The trailer has yet to appear on the official website.

Monday night's Wales Today at 6.30pm on BBC One Wales carried a brief interview with Russell T Davies, looking back enthusiastically on a successful year and happily predicting that the children watching on Christmas Day "will remember it when they're seventy!"

Finally, David Tennant's interview on this week's Friday Night with Jonathan Ross is previewed today in a press releasefrom the BBC Press Office. The press release concentrates on Tennant's future plans, and he apparently tells Ross that he's here to stay: "As long as I don't get the sack, I'll do another series," which is the line he's taken when asked this question ever since his casting was announced. Tennant notes that "It's almost too exciting, all a bit daunting. It was the most successful TV show of the year; if it all goes wrong it's my fault ... I loved it when I was a kid. Tom Baker was the one I grew up with. ... It's a bit of a gamble. The danger is that you get stuck with it, but the only other option is you don't do it. I didn't want to be that guy. As long as I don't get the sack, I'll do another series."

(Thanks to Steve Tribe)

FILTER: - Specials - Russell T Davies - Broadcasting

Series Two Clues in RegenerationsBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 20 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

The broadcast this evening of Doctor Who: Regenerations on BBC Radio 2 gave away a new episode title and another important detail about the forthcoming second series. We've put them in spoiler tags, so click on the spoiler link below to read them...

Rise of the Cybermen is the name of part one of the two part Cybermen story.

The Face of Boe, who appeared in "The End of the World," returns this series and has a speaking part. He apparently has "some important words for the Doctor". This could be part of the backstory that was seen in Justin Richards' licensed book "Monsters and Villains" or it could be something completely new...

FILTER: - Production - Series 2/28 - Radio

Cardiff Exhibit PhotosBookmark and Share

Monday, 19 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Outpost Gallifrey contributor Derek Hall recently visited and took photos of the Broadcasting House in Llandaff, where we reported a few days ago that there was a TARDIS on the rooftop and a countdown clock, and the location of the new Cardiff Doctor Who Exhibition which will be opening later this week -- but here's a taste of what to expect as festivities commence. Click on each photo below for a larger version. (Thanks to Derek Hall)

FILTER: - Exhibitions

Telos Publishing 2006Bookmark and Share

Monday, 19 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Telos Publishing has released details and cover illustrations for three of its unofficial Doctor Who reference books due out in 2006 in a press release now on the website. The press release is reproduced below; click on each thumbnail for a larger version of each book's cover illustration.
Telos has also announced that its Time Hunter series, a spinoff from its now out-of-print Doctor Who novellas range, will be coming to an end in 2006. Says publisher Stephen James Walker: "The Time Hunter novels always tell exciting stand-alone stories, but readers who've followed the series regularly will probably have spotted that we've been gradually dropping more and more hints about the 'back story' to the adventures of Honore and Emily. In the final three novels, and in particular in the concluding title, Child of Time by George Mann, the full picture will be revealed at last - and there are some real surprises in store! We have been planning this for a long time, and I think readers will find these three final Time Hunter tales a fitting climax to the series." The three books will includeThe Albino's Dancer by Dale Smith in April 2006, with the other two to be released later in the year. (Thanks to Telos Publishing)
Published in March 2006 Talkback: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Doctor Who Interview Book Volume One: The Sixties is edited by Stephen James Walker.

Talkback brings together an incredible collection of interviews with the people behind the early years of the BBC's classic science fiction adventure series Doctor Who. From directors to designers, producers, story editors, writers and cast, all are featured in this latest addition to Telos's acclaimed range of factual books about Doctor Who.

Talkback is available to order now in a standard paperback edition, or as a deluxe signed and numbered, limited edition hardback.

In June 2006 we publish Timelink: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Continuity of Doctor Whoby Jon Preddle.

Timelink presents an in-depth exploration of the complex continuity of the world's longest running science fiction television programme. Over fifteen years in the making, Timelink offers a different perspective on the history of the Universe as told through the many adventures of the Doctor, and presents fresh theories and solutions to some of the series's many continuity anomolies and discrepancies.

The book covers both the original series which ran from 1963 to 1989, the one-off Paul McGann TV Movie of 1996, and the 2005 Doctor Who revival helmed by Russell T Davies.

Timelink is available to order now in a standard paperback edition, and as a deluxe signed and numbered, limited edition hardback.

Later in 2006 Telos will follow the broadcast of the second season of the new 2006 Doctor Who series with a companion volume to our acclaimed 2005 series guide, Back to the Vortex.

Second Flight: Back to the Vortex II - The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who 2006 is, like it's predecessor, written by J Shaun Lyon and picks up where Back to the Vortex left off. Second Flight continues the story of the development of Doctor Who as David Tennant takes over the TARDIS from Christopher Eccleston and embarks on a 2005 Christmas special ('The Christmas Invasion') as well as a second series of adventures in time and space.

Second Flight reveals the background to the series, from the announcements, to the press releases, casting calls, the highs and lows, and the return of the dreaded Cybermen.

The book also features detailed analysis of the new adventures, facts and figures, and exclusive review commentary from an international panel of writers and critics.

Second Flight is available to order now in A5 paperback edition and in a signed and numbered, limited hardback edition.

FILTER: - Russell T Davies - Books

New Series In ArabiaBookmark and Share

Monday, 19 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Showtime Arabia has apparently become the latest broadcaster to acquire the new Doctor Who series. The satellite service, which is owned by Viacom, will begin airing the first series on its StyleUK channel starting this Friday, 23 December, showing two episodes per weekend, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Showtime Arabia is broadcast throughout the Middle East. (Thanks to Phil Lentz)

FILTER: - Series 1/27 - Broadcasting

TARDIS Report: MondayBookmark and Share

Monday, 19 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

While everyone's paying attention to the new spinoff sites, the folks at the official Doctor Who website have sneakily updated an old, Mickey Smith's "blog" of events, has been updated with items about the space probe Guinevere and the events of "The Christmas Invasion."

Yesterday's Independent On Sunday noted that this weekend's special, "which sees skull-headed Christopher Eccleston replaced by bug-eyed David Tennant is bound to cause a stir. Believe it or not, the vintage sci-fi series has a Christmas theme. Not just any Christmas theme, either: writer Russell T Davies has gone all social comment and anti-war about it. 'It's Christmas Day, a day of peace,' he told the BBC. 'There is absolutely an anti-war message because that's what I think.' So now you know. I'd tell you more, but no preview tapes were available and the plot was a closely guarded secret. My guess is that Doctor Who will reveal that Santa Claus has been Davros disguised in a wig all along."

On Monday, BBC1 ran one of their semi-regular Test the Nation quizzes, which the audience can take part in at home or via the programme's website. Subtitled "The 2005 Test", the "New Beginnings" section of the test had a question relating to "Doctor Who", asking who succeeded Christopher Eccleston in the role. A clip from the end of "The Parting of the Ways" showing Eccleston's last lines and the beginning of the regeneration was shown. The options were: A) Sean Bean B) Sylvester McCoy C) Alastair MacKenzie D) David Tennant.

The UK Press Association has syndicated an article about the new series to papers this week. Highlights: "Four decades on, and for only the second time in the programme's long history, the Tardis is once again materialising onto our TV screens on Christmas Day. But this time around it's all very different. Rather than an Edwardian gentleman with dodgy dentistry at the helm, the new Doctor, David Tennant, is all Carnaby Street swagger and perfect teeth. Gone too, is the whimsical seasonal run-around. Instead, The Christmas Invasion brings us an Independence Day-scale adventure of alien invasion and impending Armageddon, all wrapped up in Christmas tinsel, as trumpet-playing Santas and evil spinning fern trees wreak havoc across London. ... For fans everywhere, it'll also provide them with their first chance to properly size up the new man in the Tardis, having only enjoyed a brief sample of David's take on the role in a Children In Need special last month. One matter which has been open to conjecture ever since the 34-year-old actor won the part has been what accent he would use in the role. Born in Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland, fans wondered if he would follow the example of seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy (who played the part from 1986 to 1989 on screen) and speak in his native Scottish brogue. However, this incarnation of the time-traveller from Gallifrey has opted to adopt a 'mockney' dialect, announcing ''Appy Christmas' as he steps out of the Tardis for the first time. Sadly, the reason for the dropped h's may now be lost in the web of time. The series' lead writer and executive producer, Russell T Davies, admitted there was originally a line in the script where Mickey (played by Noel Clarke) commented that the new Doctor had somehow taken on the accent of his companion Rose (Billie Piper). But alas, due to timing reasons, it was cut. 'We've kept saying the accent issue would be resolved in the Christmas special,' laughs David, 'but now that's no longer the case.' However, a preview of the delights the show has in store next year does reveal that for at least one story, he will be allowed to lapse into his native tongue when the Tardis takes him to Scotland in Victorian times. ... Get used to it, Mr Tennant, because after Christmas, so will the rest of the world. As the Doctor says, at the climax of The Christmas Invasion, still clad in a fetching pair of pin-stripe nightwear following a post-regenerative period of bed rest, 'Not bad for a bloke in jim-jams'."

The official site has an item about Attack of the Graske, the digital interactive 'episode' going live this weekend: "From 8pm on Christmas night, Digital Satellite and Freeview viewers can truly immerse themselves in the world of Doctor Who. Attack of the Graske is a mini episode of Dr Who with a twist - it allows viewers to become the Doctor's companion. Viewers will get the chance to track down an evil alien life form by flying the TARDIS and completing a series of challenges set by the Doctor himself. The challenge will be available throughout the night and after the January 1 repeat of The Christmas Invasion on BBC Three."

The Bucks Free Press has a short article about a 13 year old, Tom Rees-Kaye, who "was given a chance to travel through space and time in his own back garden. Tom, 13, is a keen follower of the BBC TV series and even films himself with pals making their own episodes, which they copy onto DVDs. But even he was surprised when his parents took an extra step for his birthday by giving him his own full-scale Tardis. They have now placed the contraption in their back garden."

Finally, in the US, the Sci-Fi Channel will be airing "FairyTale: A True Story" on Tuesday 20 December; the film features Paul McGann (the eighth Doctor) and a very young Florence Hoath (Nancy from "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances"). The interesting thing is that both Doctor Who actors feature together on the banner on the homepage advertising the film.

(Thanks to Steve Tribe, Paul Engelberg, Richard Kirkpatrick, Paul Hayes, Sacha A. Dzuba, John Bowman)

FILTER: - Russell T Davies - Online - Press

Eccleston's New JobBookmark and Share

Monday, 19 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Christopher Eccleston, last seen as the Doctor in June, has what appears to be a new long-term job: he is to star as Christopher 'Kit' Marlow in "The School of Night" by Peter Whelan, an historical whodunit set in 1592 in which Marlowe, fresh from the success of Doctor Faustus, encounters William Shakespeare. It will play at the Comedy Theatre in London's West End from 16 February and, assuming it is a success, Eccleston is committed to at least 22 weeks. (Thanks to Dominic May)

FILTER: - People - Christopher Eccleston

North America Series DVD CoverBookmark and Share

Monday, 19 December 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Our friends at TV Shows on DVD have unveiled the cover illustration for the forthcoming February 14 release of the Complete First Series Boxed Set in North America (US and Canada). The box cover uses roughly the same illustration as the large box in the UK release this past November, but at a minimal amount of shelf depth. Click on the thumbnail for a larger version. (With thanks to David Lambert at TVShowsOnDVD for letting us know!)

FILTER: - USA - Series 1/27 - Blu-ray/DVD