Friday Series UpdatesBookmark and Share

Friday, 29 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Two items to watch for tonight, unfortunately both opposite each other: Billie Piper will be interviewed on the Friday, April 29 edition of Richard and Judyairing at 5.00pm on Channel 4, while over on BBC1, Blue Peter will have a behind the scenes feature on the new Doctor Who series. CBBC have been giving some promotion to the coverage of Doctor Who on Friday's installment; the Wednesday edition of Blue Peter (27th April) showed an extract from Saturday's episode (with Rose and companions running up a stairwell as the the Dalek pursues them) in their 'Coming Soon' promotion, while on Thursday's CBBC (28th April) the upcoming Blue Peter was described by the linking presenters as an edition where the team "Go behind the scenes on Doctor Who". Their comments were accompanied by the Ron Grainer theme - played so quietly that it was almost subliminal!

ITV Teletext ran an interview with new series writer Rob Shearman on April 29. Entitled "Dastardly Dalek Ready To Roll Again," it opened with: "It takes a skilful writer to make you afraid of a giant pepper pot with a sink plunger stuck to the front of it." The interview covered aspects such as the idea behind the story ("Russell wanted to make it an emotional episode, something that doesn't rely on people running down corridors") and reinventing the Daleks ("I decided to take all those things people find funny about the Daleks and turn them into something people would find memorable. This is also the first time we'll see inside the Dalek."). The script also apparently went through 14 revisions.

Nicholas Briggs was on BBC Radio Berkshire on April 28 talking about his work on "Dalek" and demonstrated how he does the voice. Also, Russell T Davies spoke briefly about the fact that Daleks will fly in this new episode, and playing down the event by saying they always have been able to fly - but adding the BBC just could never afford to show it until now. The five minute segment also included a couple of clips from this Saturday's episode including the moment the Doctor is reunited with his oldest enemy, and the moment where Adam and Rose witness the Dalek go up stairs shouting "EL-EV-ATE"!

Today's Guardian put Doctor Who at the top of its "MUST" list, saying that "It's the moment several generations have been waiting for: the return of Doctor Who's most terrifying enemies. An unsuspecting billionaire has bought one of the metal exterminators - and it has been upgraded. With a 360? swivel-head feature, a shiny gold finish and a stair-defying ability to levitate, this top-of-the-range Dalek is the most fearsome yet."

Canada's CBC Television documentary series Planet of the Doctor, long touted as "coming in April," will now be "starting in May" according to their official website.

One Scottish Doctor to another, Sylvester McCoy spoke to the Daily Record about David Tennant's upcoming shot at the role. "It'll be interesting to see if he does it in a stronger Scottish accent than I was allowed to use. Mine had to be a gentle lilt compared to my normal accent," said McCoy. "For the pilot I wore a tartan scarf as a homage to Tom Baker's scarf, but they wouldn't allow it and after the pilot they got rid of it. So I said I'll have a Paisley scarf then. They didn't realise Paisley was in Scotland." But McCoy, the article mentions, tempers any furore that there's a Scot in the Tardis. "I'm an internationalist. It's nice to see another person as The Doctor. If he was Chinese I'd be equally delighted. I'm not a Scottish nationalist." As noted in the report, McCoy and Tennant have already worked together for several Big Finish audios. McCoy also discusses Eccleston's departure. "It's a shame he's leaving. He must have thought of typecasting before he took the role. I think that's an excuse. I think there's something else underlining but I don't know what it is. You don't just take the role. You know it's going to be typecasting and he is typecast. He's done it. He won't be able to run away from it." He likes the new series, though: "I'm delighted it's back. I love it. I think Eccleston is terrific but it's Billie Piper as Rose who steals it." Would he want to be in it? "It would be great fun to be a villain. I wouldn't want to be a Dalek. I'd like to come back so you could see my face. Maybe I'd have a beard. It would be marvellous to see Peter, Colin,Tom and I back as baddies. When it's been back a few years and has established itself again I think they'd do things like that."

The Daily Record article above also notes an interesting fact aboutAustralia's launch of the series; it says that Sylvester, Tom Baker and Colin Baker are all in negotiations to travel there to promote the series. McCoy notes that "Australia hasn't see it yet so we are in negotiations to go out there and do promotion." There is no further word on what this might entail.

Bill Nighy, a familiar name to Doctor Who fans a year ago when he was reported to be the top choice to play the role of the Doctor (and was in fact named as such by a few papers who got the details wrong!) is mentioned in yesterday's Daily Express. "A brave-faced Bill Nighy is insisting he was not disappointed to be overlooked for the role as Doctor Who for a second time after Casanova star David Tennant landed the part," says the Daily Express's Hickey column. "Nighy first lost out to Christopher Eccleston, who has now quit the role of the Time Lord. 'It was never to be,' Bill tells Hickey."

heat Magazine this week features an interview with Bruno Langley (who plays Adam as of this weekend's "Dalek" episode) about filming the show and his role (and about Coronation Street). Bruno reveals that his character and Rose fancy each other but do not actually hook up as "certain things get in the way", and that his character hasn't seen a girl in ages, as he has been "locked away in a lab." In the TV Listings there is a major spoiler - apart from a glowing 5-star review of the show, and naming it as their pick of the week (coming above "Desperate Housewives" in heat's top ten TV of the week) - that has to do with the Doctor's current predicament about his own people...

Channel 4 in the UK featured a report on the 100 Greatest Kids' TV Programmes last Sunday night, and Doctor Who came in ninth place, according to the Channel 4 website.

Some brief press mentions: in today's Mirror reporter Brian Reade says he watched Doctor Who last weekend "and must admit the sight of slimy, long-necked, big-eared aliens waving their hands about, releasing hot gas and making weird noises had me squirming behind the couch. But I'm told Andrew Marr isn't in next week's episode so I might let the kids watch," referring to political commentator Andrew Marr, who appeared in the last two episodes as himself. Australia'sCourier Mail notes that "Britain jokesters Matt Lucas and David Walliams... both want cameos in the new Doctor Who. Lucas, best known for his role as Dafydd, 'the only gay in the village' in the sketch comedy, is good pals with Casanova star David Tennant, who will take over the role of the Time Lord from Christopher Eccleston in the second series. Tennant was reportedly mobbed by celebrities, all begging to appear on the cult show, at the recent British Academy Television Awards. Lucas and Walliams, who picked up two Baftas, believe their chances are better than most -- former Dr Who Tom Baker is the surreal narrator of Little Britain, which screens here on the ABC."

The Paisley Daily Express says that the next Doctor, David Tennant, will be invited to switch on the town's festive lights this Christmas; Tennant is from Paisley. "David Tennant is definitely going to be invited to do this," says the report, quoting an unnamed source. "We are just hoping he will be free and will be able to come up. HeÆs bound to attract huge crowds, not just from Paisley but from all over the country. It could be a huge event."

Some other press mentions: the Daily Record reviews last weekend's episode, "World War Three"; the Staffordshire Sentinel notes the Daleks' presence at the Churnet Valley Railway this weekend; icCoventry, theCommunity News Wire Manchester Online and the Edinburgh Evening News all discuss yesterday's report of Christopher Eccleston's role in the Mencap charity; and the Milford and West Wales Mercury has more on the "creator" of the Daleks.

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Jamie Austin, Chuck Foster, Paul Hawkins, Peter Weaver, Chris Wood, Jonathan Grills, Nick Palmer, Andrew Norris)

Australia DVD UpdatesBookmark and Share

Thursday, 28 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Roadshow Video/BBC Video have confirmed two forthcoming DVD release dates in Australia: June 2 will see the release ofThe Claws of Axos, and June 16 will feature the release of the first of the four Doctor Who new series DVDs (the 'vanilla' ones without extras). (Thanks to "Cyberman Dan" and Michael Plowright)

Episode 12 Title AnnouncedBookmark and Share

Thursday, 28 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

According to the new issue of "Doctor Who Magazine," out Thursday, the title of episode twelve is Bad Wolf, confirming rumors that the ongoing hints of this phrase in several previously aired episodes do indeed have something to do with the ongoing plotline. DWM also confirms that Anne Robinson, known on both sides of the Atlantic as the host of "The Weakest Link," will be making a cameo voiceover appearance in one of the last stories of the season, as "the Anne Droid," confirming rumors circulating the past week.

Wednesday Series UpdatesBookmark and Share

Thursday, 28 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Doctor Who has won the ratings war every week against ITV after all: according to the BARB final numbers on the ratings for Aliens of London, Doctor Who had 7.63 million viewers, compared to 7.37 million for the season finale of "Ant and Dec". Originally, Doctor Who had fewer reported viewers in the overnights, but the BARB figures - the final total ratings for each broadcast - add in timeshifted viewing. This means that Doctor Who has won its timeslot in every broadcast since the debut on March 26.

In Canada, yesterday's ratings for episode four, "Aliens of London," scored 849,000 viewers on the overnight reports, a small slip from the previous week's 878,000 but nothing major. "Doctor Who" is still #2 for the timeslot across Canada and #4 in all of primetime for Tuesday nights.

According to Yahoo News (and also mentioned in the Independent),Christopher Eccleston is becoming an ambassador for the learning disability charity Mencap. "Learning disability used to be known as 'mental handicap' but times change and people with a learning disability now find the old term offensive," says Eccleston. "I am very proud and excited to become an ambassador for Mencap and will do my best to justify such an honour." Eccleston first became aware of the issue when he researched his role in the 1991 film, Let Him Have It.

Issue 14 of British Cinematographer, the April 2005 edition, features a two page piece: "On the job - behind the scenes of the new Dr Who series with Ernest Vincze BSC".

The Brighton Evening Argus yesterday noted that "Daleks will invade pier in summer" discussing a Doctor Who exhibition taking place at Brighton's Pleasure Dome from May until October. We hope to bring you further details on this exhibition shortly. The Daleks will also appear at an exhibition at the Churnet Valley Railway this bank holiday weekend; a full-size Dalek will be looking for humans to exterminate in the waiting rooms of the railway's Cheddleton, Kingsley and Froghall stations on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, and details on that are available at the railway website.

Newsquest Media Group today has a story about an extra in next week's "Dalek" episode. "Aspiring actor Oliver Hopkins gets exterminated on his first-ever television appearance - and he couldn't be more delighted. For 19-year-old Oliver's assassins are none other than the deadly Dr Who villains, the Daleks! Meeting his fate at close proximity to some of the small screen's most famous baddies has been a thrilling experience for the former Greenhill School and Pembrokeshire College student. 'I'm on the book of Phoenix Agency in Swansea and had a day's work as an extra for the filming of Dr Who, in Newport,' explained Oliver, of Cambrian Cottages, Stepaside. 'It was really good fun.' As well as meeting the show's stars, Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston, Oliver was able to see the workings of a Dalek and stood inside the famous Tardis. Now he is keeping his fingers crossed that his TV debut gets screened. 'I'm pretty realistic about the fact it could be edited out, or you might only get to see my arm,' he admitted. 'But even so, I've had a brilliant experience and it won't look bad on my CV.'"

David Tennant was interviewed briefly by phone on the XFM radio station this morning. Amongst other things, he suggested that Casanova was his audition for Doctor Who and he didn't actually need to audition for the Doctor. He's excited but daunted by being the Doctor, thinks Eccleston and the new series are fantastic, and managed to plug Big Finish in the same breath as knocking the 'rubbish' that's appeared in the press in the last few weeks. You can hear the full interview at the XFM website.

Other press mentions: a vicar is ready to swap the pulpit for the TARDIS according to the Northwest Evening Mail; more reports of Peter Davison's comments about Christopher Eccleston, which we reported yesterday, atDigitalSpyand WaveGuide; the Sun comments further on the ratings win over Celebrity Wrestling and the upcoming "Dalek" episode; "Let Doctor Who give us a fright" says the Bristol Evening Post; and more news about ABC's pickup of the new series in Australia at the Courier Mail.

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Rod Mammitzsch, David Guest, Steve Tribe, Chuck Foster, John Bowman and Mike Noon)

Season Two Writers Announced in DWM - Updated!Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 28 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

The new issue of "Doctor Who Magazine" confirms the writers list for the forthcoming second season of Doctor Who. Executive producer Russell T Davies will pen five scripts for the second season, sharing the writing duties with five other confirmed writers. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat will return from the first year's writing bloc, and they are joined by Matt Jones, former script editor on Davies' "Queer as Folk," "Linda Green" and "Clocking Off", writer of "Now you see her", "Serious and organised", and "P.O.W" as well as the Virgin Doctor Who novel "Bad Therapy" and the Bernice Summerfield novel "Beyond the Sun"; Tom MacRae, writer of the pilot episode of Sky One's "Mile High", the BAFTA-nominated drama "School's Out," "Money Can Buy You Love," "UGetMe," script-editing "Nine Lives" and "As If" as well as currently writing an original series for the BBC and writing "No Angels" for Channel 4; and Toby Whithouse, an actor/writer whose credits include creating and writing Channel 4's "No Angels," writing for "Attachments," "Outlaws," "Where The Heart Is," writing for the stage the play "Jump, Mr. Malinoff, Jump" which won the Verity Bargate Award, and currently penning episodes of "Other People," "Scarlet and Guy" and "Hotel Babylon". Jones and MacRae are each writing two episodes, with Moffat, Gatiss and Whithouse writing one. One additional script has yet to be assigned, but that story will be done in-house (meaning, don't expect to find a major announcement of another writer.) Jones noes that the working title for his story is "The Satan Pit", and Davies has apparently asked him to make it "as scary as possible."

"We've been planning this since the beginning of the year, hoping and praying that the second series actually gets commissioned," said producer Phil Collinson, "so that these great ideas could make the screen. Work has started, and at least seven of the scripts are currently underway." Julie, Russell, and I have chosen a mixture of old and new, all with bold, wild imaginations, to launch Series Two with wit, flair, energy, and, no doubt, plenty of scares along the way." He notes that, like last year, "Russell has drawn up an overall plan for the whole series, with synopses of the tone and setting for each episode, although the writers have then have the absolute freedom to create what they want." Collinson also mentions the Christmas special: it will be shot as part of the second series block, meaning there will be fourteen episodes in production next year instead of thirteen, and there is no actual confirmed date it will air (it may not be on Christmas): it is "too early to guess whether the episode will be broadcast on Christmas Day. Christmas schedules are the most volatile, changeable and secret schedules of the lot," Collinson notes, with the recording schedule "more or less" following last year's. He says that the writers are "planning the same mix as this year: seven one one-off adventures, and three two-part stories. The adventures cover the full range -- trips to the future, the past, and yes, we'll be setting foot on alien worlds! We're planning lots of weird and wonderful new creations, as well as the return of familiar face or two."

Design a Monster! ContestBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 26 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

BBC Gloucestershire features an article about Doctor Who including a "Design a Monster" contest. "Did you know that the Time Lord has visited Gloucestershire? And can you make a scarier monster than us?" (Thanks to David Bailey)

Colin Baker InterviewBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 26 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

BBC Wiltshire has an interview up with Colin Baker about his role as Van Helsing in "Dracula" coming to the Bath Theatre Royal next week, including an audio clip; check out the website for full details. (Thanks to Dan Garrett)

Enlightenment 126Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 26 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

The latest issue of Enlightenment, the fanzine of the Doctor Who Information Network, North America's largest and longest running Doctor Who fan club, is in release. In the latest issue: Ready, Set...: Our contributors gets ready for the new series with a slew of fantastic articles including: Our "what kind of Doctor Who producer are you" Quiz, an interview with 1960s companion Peter Purves, reviews of all the latest books, audios and DVDs including: The Next Life The Juggernauts, The Indestructible Man, the latest Short Trips anthologies and more! More information about "Enlightenment" can be found at DWIN's website at (Thanks to Mike Doran)

Doctor Who Magazine 326Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 26 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Details of issue 326 of Doctor Who Magazine have been revealed; the following is the press release from the publishers, including a high-quality scan over the cover (click on the thumbnail for a larger version). (Thanks to Tom Spilsbury)
Doctor Who Magazine celebrates the return of the Daleks! In this issue, there's a MASSIVE free A1 poster featuring the the Doctor and Rose! Plus an exclusive report on the resurrection of television's best-loved alien baddies - straight from the mutants' own mouthpiece,
Nicholas Briggs...

"...My first bit is a Dalek giving a horrible scream. Everyone jumps out of their skins. There?s a flutter of recovery laughter. Chris carries on, then stops. 'I?m sorry,' he laughs. 'I wasn?t expecting that!' Everyone laughs. I do my first scene with him, which involves me screaming, 'Exterminate! Exterminate! EXTERMINATE!' Chris immediately cheers and everyone joins in with a massive cheer and round of applause. I?m a bit flushed with success..."

Also this issue, Bruno Langley chats about playing the Doctor and Rose's latest travelling companion, Adam Mitchell; meet Jabe, the Moxx of Balhoon and a host of other alien weirdos on the set of The End of the World; and the Slitheen are un-zipped, as we have a gas with the actors who have brought the Doctor's latest enemies to life!

Plus, there's the second part of the Doctor and Rose's latest comic strip adventure, as The Love Invasion continues. The time-travelling pair have uncovered something sinister in 1960s London - will anyone they meet be able to lend a hand?

Meanwhile, there are tantalising previews for the Doctor's upcoming adventures, Dalek, The Long Game, Father's Day, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances; and all the latest news on the series in Gallifrey Guardian, including the details of the writers for the next series of Doctor Who! Executive producer Russell T Davies explains the problems of time travel in his Production Notes, plus there's all the latest news, views and reviews.

DWM 356 is published on Thursday 28 April, priced ú3.99.

North America DVD UpdateBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 26 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

The Mind Robber starring Patrick Troughton and Horror of Fang Rockstarring Tom Baker are the next two DVD releases to be confirmed for North American release, as first reported on the TV Shows on DVD website. The cover illustrations as displayed on that site are seen below. The two DVDs will likely be released in early September 2005 on the usual three-month release schedule; "The Leisure Hive" and "Ghost Light" are due out in June. Once details are released by Warner Home Video we'll have more details, including confirmed release dates, and high-quality cover scans. (Thanks to David Lambert at TV Shows on DVD and everyone who let us know!)

Monday-Tuesday Series UpdatesBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 26 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

A year ago, a new radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy secured the front cover of the Radio Times; this week, the next batch of radio episodes, a rerun of the 1981 television series and the release of the movie - along with the UK general election - all have to make way for VOTE DALEK! The foldout cover recreates one of the classic 1964 "Daleks invade London" shots (and is also being made available as a double-sided "giant" poster available to readers in exchange for a couple of tokens from the magazine. Daleks are everywhere in this week's edition, beginning with the Editor's Letter (page 3), which reckons that the real choice next week is not whether to re-elect the government but whether to cast your vote for the Daleks by pressing the button for BBC1 on Saturday. "The week's best television" (page 4) is headed by Saturday's episode: "One of the television's greatest icons is back on the box - and it's not very happy. But we are, just to see a Dalek head to head with the Doc once more." There are a couple of reader's letters (page 9) of interest, one complaining that Aliens of London's cliffhanger "was immediately spoilt by the preview of the second half of the story", another noting that the final moments of Casanova were ruined when "some crass programmer decided that was the moment to plug the return of Phil Mitchell to EastEnders." (This issue is also commented on by Alison Graham on page 61, with a nice photo montage of Phil Mitchell apparently attacking Casanova.) David Tennant, kilted, glass in hand and leaning against a poster of the Radio Times TARDIS cover of six weeks ago, is the main photo in a feature on the Bafta TV awards; he "revealed that he'd landed the role [...] months ago: 'It's been very hard keeping it a secret.' And would he last longer than Eccleston? 'I would love to do hundreds of episodes, but let's get through the first year before we think about that.'" (This may well be the first accurate transcription of what he actually said that night!) The big feature on Dalek begins on page 18 - four pages of photographs, details about the new Dalek design, an interview with Rob Shearman and comments from Bruno Langley, Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper and Nick Briggs. "When I wrote the first Dalek episode, I wasn't sure that 'Ex-ter-min-ate!' wasn't a bit silly. So I put it in a couple of times but I didn't really want it to be ranted," says Shearman, who admits his "softly softly" approach didn't go down well with executive producer Russell T Davies. "Russell's notes came back saying, 'Why not? I want to have kids in the playground saying Ex-termin-ate! all the time.' Of course, he was right." There's also a plug for BBC Books' Monsters and Villains paperback, available to order from RT Direct (ú7.99 incl. p&p). Dalek also restores Doctor Who to Pick of the Day in Saturday's Choices (page 62), with a large photo and preview: "So, the story we've all been waiting for, and it's a dream set-up [...] The mechanised monster has been majestically refurbished, and has some new tricks hidden under its beefed-up carapace [...] It's full of intriguing backstory and cool effects, but it's also quite intense [...] How great to see the Dalek back, though. CE-LE-BRATE!" The same page has a short piece ("The Inside Story") on the brief period last year when "it looked as if the Daleks would never be back". Rob Shearman is quoted again, saying, "We came up with a major villain that would have made the series slightly different [...] I daresay Russell will bring it back. He won't want that surprise spoilt." A Dalek heads the BBC1 listings column for Saturday (page 64), the blurb for the episode itself reading: "Rose finds herself caught in the middle of a fight to the death when the Time Lord's oldest and deadliest enemy rises once again." Doctor Who Confidential is listed on the facing page: "The Daleks have been the nemesis of the Time Lord since they first appeared - complete with sucker, ray gun and bad attitude - in 1963. Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Peter Davison and Christopher Eccleston are among the Doctors talking about four decades of attempting to avoid extermination."

Ratings are in for the weekend's other broadcasts: according to ViewingFigures, Doctor Who Confidential on Saturday night had 425,350 viewers, with 355,500 watching the Sunday repeat, while the repeats ofWorld War Three (episode five) scored 168,000 viewers in the overnight broadcast (shown after midnight on early Sunday morning) and 477,030 viewers for Sunday at 7pm. Once again the figures were high in the multi channel ratings; "Confidential" was second in its timeslot with a 3.35% viewing share, beaten only by "The Simpsons" on Sky One, while the repeat showings on Sunday of "World War III" and "Confidential" were placed third and fourth with a 3.50% and 2.34% viewing share, again beaten only by programs from Sky One. We are also told that the figures on BBC3 for Doctor Who are the best the channel have had since it was launched.

Dalek, episode six coming this weekend, is reviewed by this week's The Observer. "At last we have an episode of Doctor Who to cherish and it's no coincidence that it features the return of one of the Doctor's oldest and most ruthless foes: a Dalek (above).... Veteran Who writer and Dalek enthusiast Robert Shearman has delivered a polished script which eclipses all those which have preceded it in this series.... Excellent." Yesterday's News Of The World also had an article about 'Dalek' which included two picture spoilers, one of which was a large image of the Dalek with its casing open.

The Press Association newswire featured a story today interviewing Bruno Langley, who plays Adam in the next two episodes of the series. "Not everyone can claim to have been chased down a corridor by a Dalek screaming `Exterminate!', but for Bruno Langley - best known for his role as Todd Grimshaw in Coronation Street - it was all in a day's work on the set of Doctor Who," says the article. As Langley says, "When they brought the Dalek onto the set, it was really exciting and everyone was taking photos. I do remember [Doctor Who] being on, but it was a bit before my time. I liked Alien and Terminator and stuff like that." Langley notes that his character, boy genius Adam Mitchell, notes that stairs aren't a problem for the Daleks. "I get the Doctor and Rose into a bit of trouble because I like meddling with things. Him thinking he's a genius gets him into bother." He also notes that the door is left open for Adam. "There's a chance of me coming back if the storyline allows it. I'd love to do it." He and Billie Piper "got on great - I was working with her for two months. She's a great girl. I think she's really got a lot going for her. She should probably make her way to America soon. I think Adam's more interested in technology side of things. Of course he fancies Rose, she's a gorgeous girl, but he's got more on his mind."

In today's Express: "BBC bosses, obliged to advise under-eights to watch the new Doctor Who with their parents following complaints that the show was too scary, should have extended the warning to yellow-bellied MPs. Shadow education secretary Tim Collins, 40, a well-known fan of the Timelord, admits: 'I love the new series - I find it scary. I'm still running behind the sofa in the same way I did when I was a child.'" The Express on Sunday, meanwhile, printed spoilers this past weekend about the forthcoming episode, but also comments from Christopher Eccleston: "The Daleks are burnt into our consciousness as children, " says Eccleston. "I must admit, the first day I walked on set and was confronted by a Dalek, my heart missed a beat." Mark Gatiss, who wrote "The Unquiet Dead," sayid that "No series would be the same without [the Daleks]. When Chris Eccleston tells you they're terrifying, they're terrifying." And Nick Briggs, who did the voices, says, "I love the Daleks because they're truly scary. Of course, if a dustbin came into this room, you'd laugh but if it then spoke in that terrifying voice about exterminating you and blasted away at you with its ray-gun, you wouldn't be laughing any more."

Christopher Bidmead, former Doctor Who script editor in the late 1970's/early 1980's, wrote an article for today'sDaily Telegraph. "'This is quality television,' my 13-year-old daughter Evie cried out in the middle of episode three of the new Doctor Who series. Like me, she's been impressed by the delicious special effects, the fast-moving action and the witty juxtaposition of street cred and fantasy sci-fi. Yes, OK, quality television indeed. But is it 'Doctor Who'? I ask her. And, of course, she doesn't understand the question. At the end of 1979, as Tom Baker was nearing the end of his time as the Doctor, the BBC invited me in to talk about the post of script editor for the upcoming series. I'd been scriptwriting for a commercial TV soap opera, and had done a few science features for New Scientist. Somebody at the BBC had jumped to the conclusion that this combination might equip me to steer the Doctor in his adventures through time and space for a season or two. That someone turned out to be executive producer Barry Letts. I got the job, I think, because Barry and I saw eye-to-eye on one important point - during the '70s Doctor Who had become just too silly. A distinguished producer of the show in earlier days, Barry recalled the ideas behind its launch: the Doctor exemplified for young viewers the power of scientific thinking to solve problems. Science stretched into fantastic future shapes, yes, but the show had a serious social purpose. It must never be silly, never be mere magic. In the following months, I sweated away behind a row of telephones in Union House, Shepherd's Bush, recruiting my contingent of writers. (Nigel 'Quatermass' Kneale, the first candidate on my ambitious list, hated the show and hung up on me.) Inevitably, the influence of earlier seasons still hung over us, and much of the work was stripping out those tendencies from the new scripts. Instead of 'bafflegab' that allowed the good Doctor to rescue his party by deftly 'reversing the positron flow', we tried to build our stories on solid, if fancifully extended, scientific ideas. Ironically, the previous Doctor Who script editor, Douglas Adams, had crammed his own Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with real scientific concepts, although stretched to their breaking point and beyond. But, when it came to Doctor Who, it seemed he was happy for the show to continue along the psychedelic course set for it through the '70s. Our purging of silliness from the show wasn't just political correctness. It made the stories much better. The Doctor's 'sonic screwdriver', for example, was magical baggage we had to lose. A pen-sized gizmo that could blast through tempered steel, translate Azurian into English, and fend off the Karturi by generating an impenetrable neutron dome might be just the ticket in real life, but in fiction was a sure-fire story-killer. We didn't want our audience shouting out from behind the sofa 'where's the sonic screwdriver?' whenever peril threatened. We wanted a strong narrative line, and we relished the way our storylines could arc over four episodes, bristling with cliffhangers. All of which seems to be missing from the current season. Perhaps it's fear of a short audience attention span that has contracted the stories to single or double episodes. To compensate, we get snappy dialogue and a couple of cracking lead actors who do a lot of running around. If a quarter of a century ago the first two laws of Doctor Who were 'Science' and 'Story', then the third was 'Keep It Special'. It might be a super sight gag, or a spooky spine tingle, but if it had shades of Benny Hill, or The Prisoner, out it went. And that, for me, is why today's Doctor Who just isn't Doctor Who. But every time my daugher Evie spots this season's debt to something like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for her it just adds to the fun. So what do I know?"

The Mirror notes that Christopher Eccleston "has come under fire from former Doctor Who star Peter Davison for quitting after just one series. He accused the 41-year-old actor of 'letting down' the show as fans won't enjoy it as much knowing that he is leaving. Davison, 54 - who played the doctor from 1982 for three series - added: "He is letting down the programme. His commitment should have been for at least a couple, maybe three, series. I hate to see, after all the effort that went into getting the programme back on TV, Doctor Who scuppered by an actor saying 'I don't want to do this anymore'. ... It is now difficult for people to watch knowing he has walked out on the show. I don't think you can engage with the new doctor in the way you should be able to.'" Sky NewsContact Music and Ananova have also picked up the article.

Today's Mirror also notes that "Billie Piper hasn't been studying her Dr Who handbook. The actress was quizzed by Christian O'Connell on his Xfm breakfast show about the return of the Daleks in next week's episode. But, embarrassingly, the 22-year-old - who plays the Timelord's sidekick Rose Tyler in the hit BBC1 show - didn't have a clue that Davros was the evil creator of the Daleks. Billie said she hadn't watched any of the series. 'I'm usually out socialising. I'm going to wait and watch the whole box set in one go,' she said. But when Christian asked her if Davros is still in charge of the Daleks, she answered: 'Who's that?' O'Connell replied: 'Oh Billie! Have a word with yourself.'"

An interesting letter in yesterday's South Wales Echo corrects information reported earlier in the paper about location filming on "The Unquiet Dead," episode three. "I would like to point out that not all the episode was filmed in Swansea... A great deal of the internal and some external scenes were actually filmed at the Headlands National Children's Home in Penarth," writes school principal Dave Haswell. "We would like to thank the BBC production team for allowing our children and staff here at Headlands to view the film sets and props that were used, our children found them amazing. The principle actors Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper and Simon Callow were only too happy to sign autographs and chat with our children between filming. We at Headlands wish the Doctor Who series all the best for the future."

The Sunday Times political gossip column, "Atticus" reported yesterday that the Labour Party had made an informal approach to Christopher Eccleston to elicit his support for the election campaign, but had been politely refused û on the grounds that as a high profile BBC TV star, he had to remain neutral. It also suggested that the Tories thought he might support them (!) on the grounds that Tim Collins had thrown his weight behind the show. Also, in the Time's "Culture" magazine, Doctor Who is selected as one of the "Set Your Video For This" items, with the simple tagline: "One Word For You: Daleks"!. It also appears in the picks of the day for Saturday 30th April, with a mention of the Daleks ability to go up stairs.

Russell T Davies is interviewed in the May edition of Gay Times magazine. In the two-page article he discusses the ratings success of the new series ("No-one ever expected those viewing figures. No-one in even the most drunken meeting ever thought that."), why he didn't watch 'Rose' when it aired on BBC1, the Dr Who-obsessed character Vince from the original U.K. version of Queer As Folk, the appeal of Dr Who to gay men, and the presence of sexuality in the new series. On the first showing of 'Rose' on BBC1 he says: "Some friends asked me to come over so I ended up going to their house and getting pissed. We didn't watch it. The week before, we screened the first episode for the DVD trade mags - and that was the 373rd time for me. That's when I thought, 'I'm sick of seeing it'. But I'd shown it to my friends a couple of months before, and they really liked it." On Vince from Queer As Folk: "He was an easy character to write because I knew what he'd go home and do. And I was sick of seeing Doctor Who fans on TV with long scarves, so I wanted to take a really sexy young man and make him a Doctor Who fan - and, most importantly, have all his friends know about it. He wasn't in the closet about it at all, he could talk openly about how he really loved 'The Tenth Planet'." On sexuality in the new series, he says: "We do get someone calling the Doctor 'gay' for the first time in Doctor Who's history. He's moaning about just being slapped by someone and he's going on about it, so Rose says, 'You're so gay'. There we are: that's a first. The whole thing is set in 2005, so there's a much more open understanding of sexuality [than in the original series]." And he makes a couple of comments about one of the characters from later in the series, Captian Jack: "The story doesn't discuss it explicitly, but quite obviously he'd sleep with anyone. One of my favourite bits is where Jack thinks he's going to his death, and he does a big 'goodbye' speech to Rose and gives her a kiss, then does a big speech to the Doctor and gives him a kiss. Just a little kiss. His character's from the 51st century, so I thought, 'If we're not like that in the 51st century, when will we be?'. No-one's made a fuss about it, because it's been done really naturally and it's really funny, as well." Russell also praises up-coming guest star Bruno Langley, and then finally concludes that, "The whole show is stunning; it's everything I ever wanted to make. It's so colourful; so big and bold - and you wouldn't think it was shot in Cardiff."

The Guardian says that "BBC1 floors Celebrity Wrestling," reporting on the weekend's ratings debacle for ITV: "ITV1's audience share fell below 17% on Saturday when its two new entertainment shows were trounced in the ratings. Celebrity Wrestling, despite all the pre-launch hype, failed to topple BBC1's Doctor Who, while ITV1's Hell's Kitchen sank to its second lowest audience so far. ITV's decision to replace Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway with a string of grappling D-listers failed to pay off - Celebrity Wrestling attracted just 3.8 million viewers and a scant 21% share. Ant and Dec signed off with a bang last week, beating Doctor Who for the first time in four weeks and helping ITV1 to an all-hours share of 20.8%. Saturday Night Takeaway, averaging an audience of more than 7.1 million, nudged ahead of Doctor Who, which pulled 7 million viewers, its lowest audience to date. This week, however, BBC1's timelord attracted nearly twice as many viewers as Celebrity Wrestling." Broadcast Now also covers this.

CBBC News poll shows that Doctor Who and The Simpsons are tied for first place on "What is your favourite TV programme?" (at least, at press time). Both shows lead with 15.25% of the vote.

The Daily Star said yesterday that Billie Piper "got her revenge on estranged husband Chris Evans - by setting the Daleks on him. She got one of the telly baddies to shout: 'Exterminate! Exterminate!' down the phone at him. The sexy actress kept playing the prank on the 38-year-old media tycoon at the height of their marriage troubles while she was filming the hit BBC sci-fi series. Billie, 22, who plays the Doctor's sidekick Rose in the show, kept asking the man behind the Daleks' voices on the show to speak into her mobile. He would give callers - including Evans - a shock by uttering the evil Daleks' notorious catchphrase. Actor Nicholas Briggs, 35, revealed: 'Billie came up to me on set with her mobile and she'd tell the person on the other end, "There's someone to speak to you." Then she'd hand over the phone and I'd go, "Exterminate! Exterminate! You are an enemy of the Daleks!" She did it with all her friends. Billie also asked me if I'd record her voicemail message, so she could tell callers they'd be exterminated if they didn't leave a message." It also notes that Barnaby Edwards, who operated the Dalek, said Billie spent hours chatting to him about her life - while he was stuck inside the mechanical monster. "Billie was great. She would lean on the Dalek and we'd chat about all sorts. I can't reveal what, though!"

"Take me to your earth leader. Exterminate!" says today's Times. "So what has Russell T. Davies, chief writer and executive producer of Doctor Who, got against Tony Blair?" the newspaper asks, discussing a plot point about the aliens in the two-part story "Aliens of London" and "World War Three"... and saying that the aliens have a habit of "only revealing their true selves when they lie." We must wonder exactly who at the Times is watching the show... since the idea that the aliens reveal themselves when they lie was a rumor reported last summer -- and it's not true, as the rumor was later debunked by Russell T Davies!

Some additional press clips today: the Guardian notes that "Christopher Eccleston's replacements are already auditioning on ITV," discussing the ITV series "Hit Me Baby One More Time" which shows on Saturday nights; today'sDaily Record repeats interview comments from David Tennant; the Cool Stuff section in this weekÆs Sci Fi Weekly is all about the new Dr Who miniatures, written by fan writer Sean Huxter; the Ask Men website currently features a Doctor Who montage as their video of the day from April 18 (but it's still available now); Leeds Today discusses the police box that has "put a little corner of Yorkshire in the spotlight," noting that "Wetherby Police Station's old-fashioned 1950s style police box is a dead ringer for Dr Who's Tardis û and is attracting a flow of visitors and fans of the time lord"; theDaily Record says that "Billie Piper wishes she had a sofa to hide behind as a Dalek has her in its sights" discussing this weekend's new episode; and theofficial Doctor Who Website has once again been updated to include photos and details on "Dalek" in advance of the broadcast.

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Andy Parish, Simon Mapp, Adam Williams, Steven Perry, Assad Khaishgi, Sean Parnell)

Australia Broadcast Date SetBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 26 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Australian fans, take note: you've got a date in May! Saturday, May 21 is the official premiere of Doctor Who on ABC-TV in Australia, broadcasting every Saturday night at 7:30pm for 13 weeks. Australia is the third country to debut the series, after the UK and Canada. To differentiate between the 'classic' series and the new series the ABC are running the new series with the tag line - 'Adventures in The Human Race'. The first ABC program listing, for "Rose," is available at their website. The series will be followed by "Very Little Britain" at 8.15pm and then "The Bill" at 8.30pm. "The Bill" is currently the highest rated programme on Australian television in the 8.30 Saturday time slot, demonstrating how highly the ABC is regarding the new Doctor Who series. We'll have more information on Australian broadcasts as they become available. (Thanks to James Sellwood and everyone who emailed to tell us!)

Editor's NoteBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 26 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Hello, readers... I wanted to let everyone know why news reports are more sporadic the past week: I'm currently finishing up the last few chapters of Part One of my book, Back To The Vortex: The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who 2005 (coming in August 2005 from Telos Publishing), and because of some rather tight editorial deadlines, it's crunch time. (Part one, incidentally, is the narrative section; part two, which is being written concurrently, details each episode... but of course, there are still eight weeks of episodes to go, so that's less critical on timing right now.) Once that's finished, regular updates should proceed again, so thanks for bearing with me!

Shockeye's Kitchen ReturnsBookmark and Share

Monday, 25 April 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

The fanzine Shockeye's Kitchen has returned and is available as a free downloadable PDF at their website. Billed as "the tastiest feast of Doctor Who-related fun and frolics around," it features a new series special, an interview with Ian Farrington (the producer of Big Finish's UNIT range) and a look at exactly what it takes to be a Doctor Who companion. (Thanks to Simon Kinnear)