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

New Idiot's Lantern ReportBookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 February 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Below is a new set report from last week from the production of The Idiot's Lantern as reported by fan Timothy Farr; click on the spoiler link to read the details.
The Idiot's Lantern is a euphemism for television. This episode is written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Euros Lynn... It is set during the coronation in 1953 and features the Doctor and Rose travelling around on a contemporary form of transport.

I received a number of texts on Thursday, 16th February telling me that pick up shots for The Idiot's Lantern were being filmed at the end of Florentia Street in Cathays. David Tennant and Billie Piper had apparently been and gone. I had a good hour to spare when I got back to my house elsewhere in Cathays before I had to be on a train to Pontypridd for a TIMELESS meeting, so I thought I would have a quick look around. It was dark, but not so cold as the previous week's shoot for the same episode. The presence of a large crane light shining down into the street alongside the supermarket gave away the exact location.

In many of the earlier Florentia Street location photographs there can be seen a large board with a pale blue background depicting a textless illustration of children playing in bright colours. It's an advertisement for Spangles, a popular confection last century. This wall is part of a street that forms a T junction with the southern end of Florentia Street. This was where the day's filming was taking place. The Spangles ad had been removed. The camera was near the back wall of the western arm of the T-junction, pointing east. A large dark green period lorry with words something like B D Casey & Sons was parked at an angle across most of the eastern arm of the junction, obscuring from camera view some twenty-first century cars and the traffic roaring back and fore along the busy Crwys Road further off. The road markings were covered with straw. An abandoned wooden handcart containg tall metal milk churns and other period produce containers stood to one side. This street is mostly anonymous brick walls, although there is an anonymous metal gated yard along the wall of the western arm of the T-junction. This yard had been lit from within, light spilling into camera view.

When I arrived at about 6.40pm, there were very few bystanders. A couple with a few small children and there was an old man who mumbled occasionally in a barely intelligible manner. David Tennant was stood on his own just a few meters away and had I had something appropriate to hand, I could have got an autograph quite easily. With so few onlookers present and no still cameras in evidence, the crew were very relaxed. When they were ready to resume recording, a very simple shot was rehearsed and then recorded. Not far from the handcart, a member of the crew held the dark blue Vespa scooter steady from behind. David Tennant in the tenth Doctor's pin stripe suit and wearing a pale crash helmet sat astride the scooter and the engine was started. The crew member pushed the scooter forward and moved quickly out of camera view. The scooter glided slowly towards the camera and Tennant stopped it only a very few feet from the camera lens. Although his stand-in was also present in a matching costume, it had to be the man himself for this shot as it plainly ends on a close up of his face.

I left at 7.00pm between the first and second takes of this shot.

FILTER: - Production - Series 2/28

Doctor Who Magazine 367Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 February 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Issue 367 of Doctor Who Magazine will be out on 2 March and the press release and cover are below; click on the thumbnail for a larger version. (Thanks to Tom Spilsbury/DWM)
Meet the Doctor's latest travelling companion in the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine!

Actor Noel Clarke drops by the DWM offices for an exclusive photoshoot, and chats about some of the changes in store for Mickey Smith...

"Mickey has a lot more to do this year, besides being the new companion. I can only say to the fans, 'You just wait and see what's going to happen!' Mickey gets sexy in this series! I'm not in every episode, but there's so much for me to do as an actor, there's so much for the character to do, and I really think the fans are going to like it. By the last time you see him in this series, he's a completely different person from the Mickey that got stuck to the wheelie bin in Episode 1..."

Also this issue, there's a complete new Doctor Who audio adventure on a free CD, starring Sophie Aldred, Nicola Bryant, Philip Olivier and Caroline Morris. Plus there's a beginner's guide to the world of Doctor Who on audio, in a special 9-page feature all about Big Finish Productions!

Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview, writer Toby Whithouse chats about bringing back Sarah Jane Smith and K9, in the eagerly anticipated School Reunion; there's a look at the reasons for the massive success of the return of the series in a special article, Scheduled for Success; and the Doctor and Rose reach the climax of their latest exciting comic strip adventure, The Betrothal of Sontar.

Plus, of course, there's all the latest casting news from the new series in Gallifrey Guardian; website producer James Goss tells the magazine about some special new projects for the Doctor Who website in Production Notes; and Sorvad returns to answer all those unanswerable questions that readers have been putting to him.

Along with all your other favourite regular features, Doctor Who Magazine 367 goes on sale on Thursday 2 March 2006, priced 3.99.

FILTER: - Magazines - DWM

Radio Times Covers PartyBookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 February 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

The latest edition of Radio Times reports on its annual Covers Party (an event we mentioned early this month on Outpost Gallifrey) with a strong contingent of Doctor Who stars in evidence thanks to the show's three RT covers last year. In attendance were David Tennant, Billie Piper, Russell T Davies and a Dalek, as well as Anna Maxwell-Martin, writer Stephen Fry and Auton favourite Graham Norton. Actress Helen Mirren is pictured with Tennant, Piper and the Dalek ("I just had to be photographed with it"). The report includes a brief interview with Billie Piper, in which she mentions that she'd "like to do" Series 3, "but it's a huge commitment [...] hopefully it will all work out." Piper is quoted as saying on the subject of Doctor Who: "I honestly don't think my career will get any more exciting. It's done the most amazing things for me both personally and professionally." She says of co-star David Tennant: "He is just the most straight-down-the-line bloke you could wish to meet. He's your best friend, your brother and your boyfriend kind of rolled into one" And on being in series three, she says: "I'd like to do it, but it's a huge commitment. After this finishes I'll be working on another BBC drama [a dramatisation of Phillip Pullman's "The Ruby in the Smoke"] and then I'll look at things. But hopefully it will all work out" RTD and Tennant are also in a separate photograph with RT covers for both Doctor Who (cover for the Episode "Dalek") and Casanova. (Thanks to Steve Tribe, Andrew Ford)

FILTER: - Russell T Davies - Magazines - Radio Times

Big Finish UpdateBookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 February 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, due out officially next week, carries a new free CD, The Veiled Leopard. The audio stars Nicola Bryant (Peri), Caroline Morris (Erimem), Philip Olivier (Hex) and Sophie Aldred (Ace). Says the blurb: "Monte Carlo, 1966: Four time travellers. Two missions. One costumed ball. The Doctor has sent Peri and Erimem to prevent the fabulous Veiled Leopard diamond from being stolen. Which is odd, seeing at the Doctor has sent Ace and Hex to steal the diamond. How will the two teams cope with this contradictory task? Will Peri's asp slip? Why does Ace have to pretend to be a French maid? How will Erimem cope with Pharaoh Rammalamadingdong? And can Hex really 'do posh'?"

The new issue of DWM has details of Big Finish's plans for the second half of 2006. The monthly Doctor Who releases continue with The Nowhere Placeby Nicholas Briggs (Sixth Doctor, July), followed by Red by Stewart Sheargold (Seventh Doctor, August); The Reaping (Sixth Doctor, September, formerly "Dead Man Walking"), which features a trip to Baltimore to meet Peri's mother, and The Gathering (Fifth Doctor, September), both by Joseph Lidster; Memory Lane by Eddie Robson (Eighth Doctor, October); We Are the Dead by Martin Day (Seventh Doctor, November); andCircular Time, featuring four "seasonal tales" by Paul Cornell and Mike Maddox (Fifth Doctor, December). There will also be a subscribers-only single-CD release at the end of the year, Return of the Daleks by Nicholas Briggs, which will be "a crossover of sorts" with Briggs's earlier Dalek Empire series.

A few notes also came up at the recent Gallifrey 2006 convention about the year's earlier items: The Kingmaker by Nev Fountain is "a comedy".Something Inside was altered to use that title instead of the original "The Cube" because Trevor Baxendale decided he didn't want to have any associations with the cult film "Cube," which he hadn't heard of when he wrote the story. The next series of Gallifrey will be the last one, for creative reasons (producer Gary Russell says it will have reached its logical conclusion). Down the road, there will be eventually a story set in the trenches of WW1, a story based around the assassination of Lincoln and a pseudo-historical set around the British occupation of India.

Big Finish has just recorded two Bernice Summerfield audios. There are eight Benny Summerfield audios planned for release this year. Series star Lisa Bowerman will be directing an installment of Big Finish's other series, "The Tomorrow People".

(Thanks to DWM, Big Finish and John Hutton)

FILTER: - Audio - DWM

New BBC MerchandiseBookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 February 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

press releases from the BBC Press Office discusses a host of new Doctor Who releases from BBC Books and BBC Audio this year:

Confirmed for 18 May are the latest batch of novels, The Resurrection Casket by Justin Richards, The Feast of the Drowned by Stephen Cole and The Stone Rose by Jacqueline Rayner as well as Justin Richards' second large-format book Aliens and Enemies. Previously announced on Outpost Gallifrey, the covers for "Aliens and Enemies" and "The Stone Rose" can now be found below (click on each for a larger version) courtesy the official Doctor Who website and the site, respectively. Also noted in the press release: the Quick Reads book I Am A Dalek by Gareth Roberts.

All three of the novels will be released in audio format, as we previously reported: "Fresh from his Christmas regeneration, the tenth Doctor himself David Tennant narrates three new Doctor Who novels for BBC Audiobooks. These abridged readings feature the escapades of the Doctor and Rose as they take the TARDIS on adventures not seen on TV. In a special ‘bonus' feature, the Doctor reveals all in an exclusive question and answer session with his fans. The Resurrection Casket, The Stone Rose, and The Feast of the Drowned are released on 3 July 2006."

BBC Audio has confirmed the release on 1 May of The Dalek Conquests, reported on Outpost Gallifrey on 29 January and listed on Amazon. According to the official Doctor Who website, "The Dalek Conquests covers every encounter the Doctor has had with his hate-filled nemeses. Through extracts from their many TV appearances, and linking narration by Nick [Briggs], The Dalek Conquests finds out where the Daleks come from, who was behind their original creation, and just why they are so bent on universal domination."

On the classic series front, The Tomb of the Cybermen will be released on audio on 1 May. "Patrick Troughton stars in this digitally remastered soundtrack of a classic TV story , in which the dreaded Cybermen are released from their ice tombs on the planet Telos. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria encounter a party of Earth archaeologists who are intent on uncovering the mythical 'Tomb of the Cybermen'. Only the Doctor seems aware of the folly of this venture, but suddenly it's too late - the tomb is open, and the Cybermen are coming back to life... Trapped in a confined place with the Cyber Controller and his acolytes, can the humans avoid being turned into Cyber fodder? What's more, can the Cyber menace be made dormant before it spreads out to the galaxy once again? The Cybermen return to Doctor Who in the latest TV series." This is interestingly an audio release of a story that exists on video and DVD.

Also noted are groups of toys including Five-inch Action figures ("See the characters come to life with the new range of 5" action figures. The Doctor is dressed in his new signature outfit with long overcoat and Sonic Screwdriver accessory, while Rose Tyler is teamed with canine hero, K-9. Evil intergalactic warlord, the Sycorax Warrior comes complete with two imposing weapons. The Cassandra action figure shows Lady Cassandra O'Brien, the last human, stretched out on her moving frame. Blue-skinned Moxx of Balhoon is featured on his travelling base while Slitheen stands tall with full joint articulation and extendable claws"); Twelve-inch Action figures ("The twelve-inch action figure range features the new, more deadly breed of Cybermen, as well as the Doctor himself, suited exactly as seen on the screen. Every detail in his pinstripe suit, plimsolls and overcoat has been incorporated into the figure to reflect, down to the very last pinstripe, the Doctor's classic look"); Radio Controlled Toys ("The new 5" radio controlled Dalek is set to be just as popular as the 12" debut model launched last year . Like its predecessor, it features 360-degree travel, flashing lights and utters the words: "Seek, locate, exterminate!" The 5" Doctor Who action figure appears again in a double pack that comprises radio controlled K-9 with authentic speech and sound effects. On command, K-9 can turn a full 360 degrees, his eyes light up and he also has a button-activated gun"); Cyberman novelty range ("The Cyberman Voice Changer Helmet is a must for anyone daring to deceive the Cybermen as they carry out their mission to convert humanity to their own deadly kind. It will change your voice into true Cyberman speak, leaving your real identity undetected. For added protection, the Cyberman Room Guard will help you ward off intruders attempting to trespass on forbidden territory"); and Playsets and games ("The TARDIS Electronic Playset features authentic light and sound effects and its console is a faithful reproduction of the one seen on screen. Its motorised 'time column' rises and falls (with lights) when the TARDIS is in 'flight' and it has 'lift out' access panels in the floor to reveal the mechanisms and circuitry hidden in the floor. The LCD Game has a smart stylised Dalek case front and comes with an LCD game display, authentic sounds and two levels of play that allows players to hunt out and fire at the Doctor's most feared adversary. The new additions join the existing Doctor Who toy range which includes the Talking TARDIS Money Box and Sonic Screwdriver. The TARDIS Money Box, a replica of the Doctor's Time Capsule, has an opening front door which reveals the Doctor, Rose and a money slot. As each coin is delivered, the Money Box plays phrases including, "Did I mention it travels in time?" A replica of one of the Doctor's most essential tool, the Sonic Screwdriver is an invisible writing pen featuring button activated lights and sounds.")

Finally, below we have three additional visual items, all the revised final cover of Paul Parsons' book The Science of Doctor Who, and two TV tie-in books, the Intergalactic Activity Book (second volume) and the Regeneration Sticker Guide. Click on each for a larger version.

FILTER: - Audio - Books - Press

Royal Television AwardsBookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 February 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Doctor Who has been nominated in the Best Drama Series category at this year's Royal Television Society Awards, according to the MediaGuardian today. The Awards, the winners of which will be announced at the Grovesnor House Hotel on March 14th, are one of the most prestigious in the British television industry, probably second only to the BAFTAs in terms of importance within the industry itself, with winners selected by a jury of industry professionals. There are three nominations in each category at the RTS awards, and Doctor Who's rivals for the Drama Series title are Channel 4's Shameless and BBC Three's Bodies. A full list of nominees is available at the RTS website. (Thanks to Paul Hayes, Steve Tribe, Scott Wortley)

FILTER: - Awards/Nominations - Series 1/27

Series Two UpdateBookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 February 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Issue 367 of Doctor Who Magazine has started to reach subscribers - ten days early - and has more news of Series Two, as well as some extra content for mobile users:

According to DWM, mobile phone users will be able to download exclusive additional content before each episode of Series Two airs on BBC One. With scripts by Gareth Roberts, the thirteen instalments of 'Vortext' (the working title) will contain "exclusive footage, state-of-the-art special effects and new material directly linked to the following episode". Russell T Davies reveals that "new material is being shot alongside the regular crew" for each episode, while Gareth Roberts says, "These are proper, full-on productions", which are being made by the team responsible for 'Attack of the Graske' at Christmas.

The new issue suggests that April is the most likely start date for Series 2 and, although the magazine has no news yet of a more definite date, its next issue (368) will carry previews of the first two episodes and is published on 30 March. DWM also reports that Ron Cook (as Mr Magpie), Debra Gillett (Rita), Rory Jennings (Tommy), Marie Lewis (Mrs Gallagher),Sam Cox (Bishop), Jean Challis (Betty) and Jamie Foreman (Eddie) will all be guest starring in 'The Idiot's Lantern'. The guest cast for Episode 11 will include Erica Eirian (as Neighbour), Tim Faraday (Dad), Stephen Marzella (Policeman) and Richard Nichols (Driver).

The director for Episode 10 has also been announced: Dan Zeff, who has previously worked on Linda Green with Phil Collinson.

The title of Episode 6 is confirmed as The Age of Steel.

This month's 'Production Notes' column in DWM is by James Goss, who is in charge of the BBC's official Doctor Who site. He reveals that there will be "dozens" of fictional tie-in sites this year, "not an enormous in-joke for fans - it's a game. Each week you've got a mission. Perhaps it's Mickey needing help after he's accidentally switched off the Earth's satellite defence system..." Goss also states that there will be more content available for video, mobiles and iPod, as well as more commentary tracks (as for 'The Christmas Invasion'); there will also be more video diaries, this time provided by the Doctor Who Confidential team.

FILTER: - Russell T Davies - Magazines - DWM

Will Thorp in Series TwoBookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 February 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

According to the official siteWill Thorp, "best known for his role as heroic paramedic Woody in Casualty, will play Toby in two-parter The Satan Pit. Explaining why Will was chosen for the part, Russell T Davies said, 'This two-parter is just about as tense and scary as Doctor Who can get, so we needed a stellar cast to grip the audience. Will's proved his popularity with audiences in his long-running role as Woody in Casualty - but if he thought Holby General was dangerous, then we can guarantee that we're about to throw him into some truly terrifying situations.' Will's also recently appeared in serious drama Friends and Crocodiles, and strutted his stuff on Strictly Come Dancing. Paired with Latin American dancer Hanna Haarala, he made it through to the sixth round of the competition."

FILTER: - Russell T Davies - Production - Series 2/28

Eve Myles Comes to TorchwoodBookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 February 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

BBC News today reports that Welsh actress Eve Myles, who appeared as Gwyneth, the waifish servant girl who saved the world in the first series' episode "The Unquiet Dead," will be joining John Barrowman to star in the forthcoming spinoff seriesTorchwood. The official Doctor Whowebsite gives her the name of Gwen Cooper. "I'm thrilled to be playing the part of Gwen. To get the chance to do a 13-part series under the watchful pen of Russell is amazing," says Eve. "It's such a compliment to have been chosen for the part - I can't wait. I'm also looking forward to working with John. It'll be the perfect opportunity for the both of us to show everyone what we've got." Eve Myles guest-starred in the first series of Doctor Who and has recently finished filming Soundproof for BBC TWO. Her credits also include a highly successful run at the National Theatre when she appeared alongside Michael Gambon in Henry IV Parts I & II. Russell T Davies says: "I've admired Eve's work for years, and when she was able to guest-star in Doctor Who last year, it just confirmed to me that she was one of Wales's best-kept secrets. The part of Gwen in Torchwood was written specially for her - so it's a good thing she said yes! Eve and John Barrowman have already met up, and the combination is going to be electrifying." John Barrowman adds: "I'm really looking forward to working with Eve. We've had a good laugh on the occasions we've met and the fact that she's already been in Doctor Who means she knows what she's getting into. Head of BBC Wales Drama, Julie Gardner, says: "We are delighted to announce the casting of Eve Myles in the central role of Gwen, alongside John Barrowman's Captain Jack in Torchwood. Eve is an intelligent and versatile actress, who has done exceptional work in a number of BBC dramas, including our local series Belonging." The 13-part drama series starts filming in the Summer and will transmit on BBC Three and BBC One.

Also noted in the article is that the series is written by Russell T Davies and Chris Chibnall, with contributing writers including P J Hammond and, in a new announcement, series two writer Toby Whithouse. Additionally, Richard Stokes is noted to be the series' producer.

FILTER: - Torchwood - Russell T Davies

US Trailer DebutsBookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 February 2006 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

A new trailer debuted tonight on the US cable network, the Sci-Fi Channel, which will be showing the new series.

The channel's promotional campaign is entitled "Who Is..." and it features glimpses of the new series including the Doctor and Rose, the TARDIS (but not any clear shots of the interior), the Daleks, and scenes from various episodes, ending with a shot from "The End of the World" with the tagline "...coming in March."

This is the first sign of promotion for the new series, which debuts on March 17 on the Sci-Fi Channel, an NBC/Universal cable network airing in most of America.

FILTER: - USA - Broadcasting