Sunday, 26 June 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon
Back after a few days' break with a rundown of the latest news stories...
Will Stephen Fry write an episode of the second season of "Doctor Who"? That's the rumor, according to BBC News: "Comedian Stephen Fry is in talks with the BBC about the possibility of writing an episode of Doctor Who. The acclaimed author, director and actor may contribute to the series, which returns later this year with David Tennant as the next Time Lord. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We are in talks with Stephen about the possibility of him writing an episode of Doctor Who.' There were no plans for Fry to appear in the series, the spokeswoman added." Stephen Fry, who has most recently starred as the voice of the Book in the big-screen adaptation of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," was a popular choice to play the Doctor with the public prior to the casting of Christopher Eccleston; he also played the Minister of Chance in BBCi's webcast Doctor Who serial "Death Comes to Time". Also reported atContact Music, The Advocate.
John Barrowman appeared at the London Film and Comics Convention this weekend and told the audience that, contrary to rumor, he would be back in the second season as well as the third, though he isn't in the first block of episodes being filmed (which he said included the Cybermen, so he won't be in that story). He noted that being on Doctor Who was a "bleep bleep bleep dream come true" as he was a fan as a child, and refused to be drawn into who the better kisser was (Eccleston or Piper)! Barrowman noted that he'll be taping a commentary for the DVD boxed set (due out in November) on July 20 along with Russell T Davies, Billie Piper and Joe Ahearne.
The Mirror reports that "New Dr Who David Tennant will speak in his Scots accent in the next series of the show. Scottish fans were shocked to hear the Paisley-born Tennant speaking in posh English tones during his debut as the Doctor last Saturday. It was all the more surprising because Tennant had said he hoped to give the role a tartan flavour. The accent sparked an outcry among Scottish Who fans and now producer Russell T Davies has hinted Tennant will be speaking naturally come his first full adventure at Christmas. He said: 'Every planet has a Scotland. You'll have to wait and see, there are revelations on the way.' The line about Scotland refers back to when Billie Piper asked why the Doctor - as then played by Christopher Eccleston - sounded Mancunian and he replied: 'Every planet has a North.' A BBC insider said: 'The accent will be up to what Russell and David want to do during filming.'"
Too much Cardiff this year? Former BBC Director General Greg Dyke apparently thinks so, stating that he thinks using the city as a setting was a "flaw" and accused the BBC of trying to produce the series for peanuts. "As a lifelong Doctor Who viewer, I don't believe the series was without flaws. Given that the Doctor is a time traveller, able to go anywhere at any time, he did end up on earth a disappointing number of times during the 13 episodes and, even worse, he kept turning up in Cardiff. I haven't got anything against the capital of Wales, but if I could land anywhere in the universe at any time, would I really go to Cardiff more than once? Of course, any connection with the fact that the series was made by BBC Wales, and that for the production team, Cardiff was a cheaper location is purely coincidental." Several news reports say that BBC Wales has brushed off Dyke's comments and insist the next series, due to start shooting later this summer, will continue to be filmed in Cardiff. "As Greg Dyke wrote in his article, Doctor Who 'has been a triumph for BBC Television', 'a delight to watch' and 'a well-scripted, well-acted series which had high production values.'," said a spokesman. "It is clear that viewers felt that praise applied especially to the two episodes set in Cardiff as they attracted tremendous average audiences of eight million people." Also reported aticWales.
Christopher Eccleston has given his first interview since handing the keys of the tardis over to David Tennant, according to BBC News. "Speaking at a Mencap charity do, the actor told Newsbeat that finishing 'Dr Who' was a relief after dealing with the BBC, but he still got something special out of it: 'The best thing about 'Doctor Who' for me has been the response I've had from children, both in the street and the number of letters and drawings of me and daleks, which are all over my wall at home. In all the 20 years I've been acting, I've never enjoyed a response so much as the one I've had from children and I'm carrying that in my heart forever.'"
John Barrowman will be interviewed on Theatre Radio, described as "Internet Radio For Musical Theatre" on Sunday 3rd July at 5pm GMT, repeated daily at 2pm and 10pm GMT. "This week on TheatreRadio, Tim is joined by John Barrowman, who is about to make his UK Cabaret debut at Pizza On The Park. As well as playing some fantastic music, Tim has a copy of JohnÆs latest album, John Barrowman Swings Cole Porter, to give away so make sure you tune in!" He will also appear in a cabaret in Belgium on July 12; details can be found at the Musical Solo website. Then, he'll be appearing on the US PBS network's Evening at Pops on August 7, when he joins the Boston Pops and Broadway singers for a tribute to legendary Broadway composer Jerry Herman.
"Doctor Who" script editor Helen Raynor makes her debut as a radio writer on BBC Radio 4 this week. "Running Away with the Hairdresser" will transmit on Radio 4 on Friday 1st July at 9.00pm. "Nearly a year has passed since Catrin returned from Thailand after a bomb in a nightclub killed her boyfriend and brought their holiday to a tragic end. Now she feels trapped in her Welsh village, but not simply by grief." Raynor describes the play as "A bit intense, with some funny bits too, though. And some lovely acting." Mali Harries, who recently played Cathy Salt in the first series episode "Boom Town" plays Caitrin. The play will be available online for a week following broadcast; go to the Radio 4 arts website and click on The Friday Play.
New Zealand coverage of the series, now that there's a definite date of July 7, has picked up. A second trailer for the new series has been airing on Prime TV for the past few days which features Christopher Eccleston's original "Do you want to come with me?" footage (originally broadcast in the UK the weeks prior to its debut). In addition, the New Zealand media has been giving some good coverage of the New Series, with articles in the New Zealand Herald, the New Zealand TV Guide (including a small cover picture of a Dalek), an interview with Bruno Langley in the New Zealand TV Times Update magazine and a two-page article in the New Zealand Sunday Star Times.
This week's print edition of Broadcast (24 June) has picked up on Greg Dyke's article for The Independent a few days ago. The magazine's "Off the Record" diary section reports: "And on to one of Dyke's current 'portfolio' jobs û penning a weekly column for the Indy's media section. This week, he spilled the beans on the cost of the new Doctor Who û a cool ú1m an episode û (the total cost he said was ú1.2m an episode, but overseas sales made up the rest). Blimey that's an exterminating total of ú13m of licence fee money. Still, we're not quibbling û money well spent, say we."
Australian broadcasts continue... says this week's Herald Sun about the latest episode, "Dalek," "The best episode so far has Dr Who and Rose landing in a subterranean museum in 2012, where they find a Dalek being held captive and tormented by obsessed billionaire collector Henry Van Statten. The Doc and arch-enemy Dalek get reacquainted and danger looms. You'll enjoy this one." The Sydney Morning Herald said "Fans have been waiting for this episode in which a Dalek, the Time Lord's oldest and deadliest enemy, returns. ... If you've ever wondered what a Dalek looks like inside its metal casing or how it climbs a staircase, this episode will put you out of your misery." The Age says that "Now the Doctor is back and despite some egalitarian tweaking of the image - the accent now suggests Manchester rather than Eton and Oxbridge and the clothing and appearance are classless Cool Britannia rather than foppish Edwardian - he remains recognisably an exemplar of Etonian virtue. Christopher Eccleston may be a more aggressively masculine Doctor than, say, Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker, but he conforms, like all of his predecessors, to that most English of adventure-hero stereotypes, the Thoroughly Decent Chap. He's a post-imperial sort of Decent Chap, though, and there's nothing Tory or even wimpishly Blairite about the politics of this latest series of Doctor Who." "The Age" also features an articleabout weird alien-sounding names in science fiction ("If you don't know the difference between a Slitheen and a Raxacoricofallapatorian... you've only yourself to blame.")
The June 24 edition of the publishing trade magazine The Bookseller reports on the recommissioning of Doctor Who for a third series, although it's obvious that much of the article has been derived from press reports elsewhere. It's of interest for some details of sales figures for the new books: The programme's popularity has been reflected in the sales of the companion books. The three new novelisations from BBC Books have achieved combined sales of around 37,000 since publication in May, each securing places on the Top 20 Fiction Heatseekers chart. Reference book Doctor Who: Monsters and Villains by Justin Richards has sold more than 9,000 copies. The Top 20 Fiction Heatseekers chart for this week has The Monsters Inside and The Clockwise Man still at numbers 11 and 12, with the week's sales at 2,921 and 2,898 respectively. Winner Takes All has climbed from 18 back up to 14, on sales of 2,039." The Bookseller also previews Justin Richards' Doctor Who: The Legend Continues among its selection of paperback highlights for October: "The limited ú40 h/b published for the 40th anniversary sold out. These are the same sheets [i.e. the book will be reprinted without any changes], but with an addition of 32pp on the current Christopher Eccleston series. I would say fans have expanded with the new series into a younger generation, for which this will make a great gift."
The official Doctor Who website has several new video diaries online. "Today we're launching four more video diaries - three from director Joe Ahearne and one from The Mill's main man, Will Cohen. There are Dalek delights, Reaper reminiscences and more."
The Independent on Sunday's "Pink List" discusses the extermination of 'old prejudices' on "Doctor Who". "Sandwiched between the old-fashioned music-hall camp of a Graham Norton and Julian Clary, something much more amusing and inspiring was taking place. Russell T Davies sent the tabloids into a foaming lather, nearly a decade ago, with his Queer as Folk. Now, in 2005, he has revived, with wit and verve, Doctor Who. Among a series of admissions about urban life, a black character, a single mother, he has included, in the figure of Captain Jack, a character gloriously and unambiguously bisexual, without a tinge of camp. A drama aimed in part at children, with a sexy bisexual man, and no-one at all seems to mind. Things have changed a great deal."
The y come his first full adventure nbsp;on June 23 asked, "Anyone else feel like they lost a friend on Saturday night? Since watching the last episode of Doctor Who, I've been at a loss over just what to say. Project stoic image of emotionally detached critic? Or confess to my heart pounding in my chest and tears welling in my eyes? Oops. Saturday saw the climax of a love story, a tragedy, a comedy, an end, a beginning and a satisfying culmination to the most successful TV return since, well, Lassie Come Home. Of course, the new Who drew snipes from those too bitter to forgive Billie Piper for looking like an Ewok, or 'serious actor' Christopher Eccleston's uneasy take on eccentric. Fine. But are you telling me you preferred Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, the low budgets, crap sets and fusty storylines of the 80s? No. Didn't think so. Doctor Who has been the best thing Saturday night TV has offered in light years. I am genuinely sad it's finished. He's seen off the Slithene, those gas-mask zombie things and the Daleks. Hurrah for all that - but more respect for wiping the floor with tired Butlins' Redcoats Ant and Dec and their lame Saturday Night Takeaway when the shows went head to head. Everything - the music, the sets, the effects, the characters, the aliens, the acting (Billie Piper excelled in the final episode) worked brilliantly. Between Casanova and Doctor Who, Russell T Davies better take a big bag with him to the next Baftas."
Monday's New Statesman notes, "I was, let me admit, too critical of the first episode back in March. Russell T Davies has, as has been much remarked, reinvented the phenomenon of families gathering around the electronic hearth and, thanks to Doctor Who's extermination of ITV1's Celebrity Wrestling, helped kill off ITV's reliance on the celebrity genre. So two cheers for that. The darker episodes - the Dickens story, Rose's rediscovery of her dead father, the Second World War gas masks - worked best. The monsters tended to look like rejects from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and played to Davies's weakness, which was not taking the plots as seriously as its youngest audiences would. Yet, paradoxically, and despite the variations in tone, this was a serious piece of work that wove historical traditions into the fabric of our times and thereby managed to embroider everything from reality TV to bisexuality. Just as the police box once represented the presence of the state in every high street, Davies's Tardis became a symbol of public-service quality in the Saturday-night schedules. And that makes three cheers in all."
In June 23's Media Guardian: "Endemol boss Peter Bazalgette has followed in the footsteps of Michael Grade, and just about everyone else, in becoming a fully paid-up member of the Doctor Who fan club. 'The most magnificent piece of TV I can remember for a long time,' Baz gushed at today's conference on the future of broadcasting. However, he was feeling far less charitable towards ITV. 'ITV this summer is facing a massive stampede of viewers, not to other terrestrial channels, but to multichannel. [ITV chief executive] Charles Allen has got a small net, or sluice gate, on the door - called ITV2 and ITV3 - which is catching some of them, but most are just going off in the diaspora,' he said. What's up Baz, has Nigel Pickard knocked back all your programme ideas again?"
A late review of The Parting of the Ways in the New Statesman: "I was, let me admit,too critical of the first episode back in March. R T Davies, has, as has been much remarked, reinvented the phenomenon of families gathering around the electronic hearth and, thanks to Doctors Who's extermination of ITV1's Celebrity Wrestling, helped kill off ITV's reliance on the celebrity genre".
(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Chris Graham, Daryosh Djavanzad, Nathan Matthews, Gary Owen, Peter Anghelides, Adrian Piper, Huw Davies, John Bowman, Peter Weaver, Paul Greaves, Fred Harrison, and Thomas Van der Spiegel)