Michael SheardBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 31 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Actor Michael Sheard, one of Doctor Who's most prolific guest actors, died today of cancer at his home on the Isle of Wight according to a BBC News report and a statement on the actor'swebsite. He was 65. Sheard appeared six times during the course of the series, with appearances in "The Ark," "The Mind of Evil," "The Invisible Enemy" and "Castrovalva" as well as his most familiar roles as Laurence Scarman in "Pyramids of Mars" and the Headmaster in "Remembrance of the Daleks". Sheard later returned to Doctor Who for Big Finish in the audio "The Stones of Venice" as Count Orsino. He was best known on British television in the role of Mr. Bronson on BBC1's "Grange Hill," and made his mark on popular film as Admiral Ozzel (who met his fate at Darth Vader's hand) in "The Empire Strikes Back", as a U-boat captain in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and in a brief cameo as Adolf Hitler in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade". He was also seen in roles in "Coronation Street," "Dixon of Dock Green," "Crossroads," "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet," "On The Buses," "The Tomorrow People" and countless guest starring roles. Sheard was also a very popular guest at Doctor Who and Star Wars conventions for the past twenty years -- his last appearance was just last month in St. Louis -- and was the author of four books about his memoirs, which included his recollections about years of conventions around the world.
Additional reports about Mr. Sheard's passing are on the official Doctor Who website and at Manchester Online,ITN,Paramount ComedyThe SunReutersSFGate (which runs the AP press report, carried in many papers). Also, the BBC Newssite is carrying a tribute page for reader comments.

FILTER: - Obituary - Classic Series

Blue Peter TodayBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 31 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

As previously reported, Doctor Who music was featured as part of the Blue Peter annual children's prom, focusing on the BBC's season of classical music concerts, at Royal Albert Hall in London, highlights of which comprised today's show. One of the pieces of music played by he orchestra was an arrangement of the "Doctor Who" theme, during which a Dalek appeared much to the delight of the children in the audience, wandering around the edge of the orchestra pit threatening to exterminate and so forth, before eagerly pursuing "Blue Peter" presenter Liz after she attempted to interview it. During the performance of the theme tune, there were also some clips shown from the recent David Tennant edition of the programme. (Thanks to Paul Hayes)

FILTER: - Music - Documentary

The Week's Press ItemsBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 30 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Catching up on some recent Doctor Who press clips:

According to a report in The Scotsman, new BBC1 controller Peter Fincham spoke recently at the Edinburgh Television Festival to "set out his ambition for a popular network that would bring families around the set, through shows such as Doctor Who, despite predictions that the 'iPod generation' now only wanted media served on-demand. The new controller announced a focus on comedy drama and said the network would continue to produce the historic period-piece dramas for which it was well known." The article says that Fincham highlighted Doctor Who "as an example of a programme that drew new, younger audiences into the BBC in a family viewing experience. He also predicted that in an age of proliferating digital channels, BBC1 would be the trust-brand viewers would keep turning to for major live events. 'It is tempting to assume that the shared experience is in terminal decline, but the urge to be part of a bigger audience, and the satisfaction that we derive from it, is a strong one," he said. "In a time-shifted world, live events - Live 8 is a good example - assume a greater importance than ever.'"

The Telegraph reported that the stock of Character Group "jumped 7 1/2 to 57 1/2p after unveiling plans to launch a Dr Who range of toys in the next few weeks. The toy range, which is based on the BBC TV series, has been developed in partnership with the public service broadcaster." A press release by the company noted that the toy range "includes a Talking Tardis Money Box, the Sonic Screwdriver, an LCD game and 3D Walkie Talkies and The Dalek. Richard King, Chairman of The Character Group said: 'The first bulk shipment of the radio controlled Daleks will hit the stores within the next two weeks and, whilst the demand for all our Dr Who products is very encouraging, we would expect that the demand for the radio controlled Dalek, will far exceed our manufacturing capacity to Christmas of 150,000 units'." Also reported at This Is Money.

There's a new version of the classic police box in Glasgow, says the Evening Times. "It looks like it has landed from outer space, but this hi-tech box is the latest crime-busting device used by police in Glasgow. The city's new police box would not look out of place in an episode of Dr Who, but the 'tardis' will remain at St Enoch Square. Sitting prominently near the entrance to the subway station at the bottom of Buchanan Street, the box will be a vital tool in solving crime in the city centre and will be used by officers across the division. The chrome box stands at 10ft tall and is the first operational police box in the city since 1969, when radios made them redundant. It will be protected by CCTV and will allow instant reporting of incidents. If successful, more space age boxes could be materialising on a street near you. Police boxes were once a familiar site across the city, but very few remain. There is still a vintage box on Buchanan Street, which serves as a tourist information point and another on Great Western Road at Byres Road, which has been converted into a coffee shop. Earlier this year, a worker discovered an old police box embedded in a brick wall. It will go on display at the city's police museum next spring." Also reported by Strathclyde PoliceBBC NewsGlasgow Evening TimesScotland Today.

Tom Baker is interviewed in a BBC press release about the seventh and final season of "Monarch of the Glen" in which he plays Donald MacDonald. Says Baker in the interview, "I enjoy overacting and I'm very good at it - I suppose you could say I've made a career out of it. Donald MacDonald is a part I can have fun with, which is marvellous because I have a horror of self pity and I try to see the funny side of everything. As you get near death, as I am, you have to laugh at everything - otherwise the alternative is to be utterly depressed." He notes that he enjoyed filming a scene with a real-life panther for a very dramatic Monarch storyline later in the run. "Oh, the panther was wonderful!' exclaims Tom. "One of my best co-stars ever, because let's face it, cats are so much more interesting to look at in close-up than actors." Read more of the interview in the press release; it's on the fifth page.

The Daily Star says that Billie Piper "blooms in sexy black" in some new photos in today's issue. "The 22-year-old, who plays the Time Lord's sidekick in the smash BBC series Dr Who, looks sexier than ever in this sensational new photoshoot. And it seems the show's famous Tardis is now about to transport our Billie to global superstardom. ... Her gorgeous curves and sexy pout have helped win the cult sci-fi show a whole new generation of fans - and earned her plenty of hot offers from telly and film bosses." Last weekend's Sunday Mirror discussed recent sightings of Piper, which noted that "She's apparently been filming from 11pm to 5am every night in Cardiff, which means her days are often spent in bed catching up on sleep so it's no wonder she hit the pub at the first opportunity."

BBC News reported last week that "three workers on Brighton Pier hid in the Doctor Who exhibition today (Tues) during a police and immigration department raid. Forty police officers and immigration workers entered the pier at 0850 BST on Tuesday and rounded up about 60 staff. The Home Office has said it was an intelligence-led operation. The pier re-opened at 1220 BST. The 60 staff were questioned in a fish and chip shop on the pier, which was shut to the public. The immigration service said most of the people involved co-operated but three people had hidden in the pier's Dr Who exhibition."

An article at the VH1 website discusses Eric Roberts (the Master in the 1996 TV movie) in two music videos, two by Mariah Carey and one by the group The Killers.

Several papers have run a brief article about gay actors/characters on television including noting John Barrowman's recent portrayal of Captain Jack, including the Washington Blade, the Houston Voice (Texas), and the Southern Voice (Georgia).

In The Observer last week (21 August 2005), there was a section in which critics were invited to pick out the most overrated moments in art and the media. Kathryn Flett picked out four moments in TV, including: "Dr Who: Russell T Davies has done wonders, admittedly, but the original was cheap, dull, creaky and parochial." Ugh.

More coverage of Elisabeth Sladen and John Leeson on the new series at YahooManchester OnlineThe Scotsman,SciFi.com; more on BBC1 winning Channel of the Year at the Edinburgh International TV Festival at The Guardian.

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Chuck Foster, Peter Weaver, Mark Irwin, Andrew Tibbs, John Kilbride, James Wilkinson, James Pearson, Darren Pickles)

FILTER: - Press - Radio Times

Next DWM SpecialBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 30 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

According to the Diamond Comics distributor site, there will be a new special coming soon from the creators of DWM, "The Story of Doctor Who". "Discover the complete history of Doctor Who in the words of those who made the program! This 100-page special gathers together, for the first time anywhere, a huge array of interviews with those in front of and behind the cameras - from the entire 42-year run of the series. Including many never-before-seen photos, this is a must-have for Doctor Who fans, and a great introduction to the series for newcomers." According to the site, this will be out in November. (Thanks to Robin Shannon)

FILTER: - Magazines - DWM

Dreamwatch 133Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 30 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

David Tennant features on the cover on the latest issue ofDreamwatch magazine -- which is now on sale -- and is a featured interview inside the magazine. "It's not like any other acting job," Tennant tells Dreamwatch, "just with the amount of attention that it gets. I've done all sorts of different things. That's all been great fun, but suddenly I get cast as Doctor Who and it was on the news! [laughs] I was visiting my mum and dad, and we were sitting in the kitchen having breakfast, and it came on the news. That's just a whole other world of attention. It's great. It's fantastic to be involved with something that's loved and that people get excited about it. It's a privilege to be a part of that history, but it's kind of daunting as well." He says he was approached for the role because "I was working with Russell T. Davies, the main writer and creative head of it, on Casanova at the end of last year. I knew him through that. Unbeknownst to me, that was my audition. It came up after that, when they knew that Chris Eccleston was moving on. They just asked me to do it. I didn't have to [formally] audition because I had done Casanova. That became my audition because I'd been working so closely with Russell. I didn't know that Doctor Who was a possibility then, and it probably wasn't at that point." Was it true that he had to keep the news quiet? "I couldn't tell anyone. It was such a high voltage secret, I was just aware that there was really no choice. I wanted to tell everyone, of course, but it was pretty hard. My agent was the only person that I could talk to about it." How did it feel when Tom Baker endorsed you for the part? "I heard about this. I was completely thrilled. That's really lovely. I haven't actually confirmed it. I've only heard it third-hand, and of course I never believe anything I read in the papers. I hope it's true. I'm choosing to believe it's true. I'm a huge fan of his." The issue also features an interview with comic creator Bryan Hitch, who served as concept artist on the revival of Doctor Who, where he talks about revamping the TARDIS, the Daleks and offers tantalising clues about the new Cybermen. Visit the Dreamwatch website for more information.

FILTER: - Magazines - David Tennant

Off The TellyBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 30 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

The UK television website Off The Telly has published two new Doctor Who-themed interviews. Writer and broadcasterAndrew Collins, who was featured as a commentator on the "Doctor Who Confidential" documentary series, haswritten about his experience of working in a Big Finish play: "It was calming for my non-actorly nerves to get to Stockwell first, follow those instructions through the blue gate, get my bearings and chat to Toby (BBC experience has taught me always to make friends with studio engineers!) You are greeted with tea, coffee, water, wooden fruit bowls piled high with miniature chocolate bars and Wotsits, and a Travel Connect Four for longueurs. Although the green room itself - positioned in the bowels of the modest studio complex - has more air conditioning ducts than actual room, the oppressive piping gives it a Doctor Who space-station feel." Also,Gary Russell of Big Finish enjoys a very revealinginterview with Graham Kibble-White in which he discusses Big Finish's current state of affairs, the effect of the new series and fandom as a whole: "It's good for them to have [Big Finish] on their merchandise list, every month there's a brand new Doctor Who CD audio drama with original cast. Every month there's a Doctor Who book. Every month there's something new from whoever the new toy licensees are. It shows their bosses upstairs that Doctor Who is a viable license." Read each interview at the website. (Thanks to Stuart Ian Burns, Graham Kibble-White)

FILTER: - People - Production

Time Space Visualiser 71Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 30 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Issue 71 of Time Space Visualiser (TSV), the fanzine of the New Zealand Doctor Who fanclub, is out now. Inside, David Bishop discusses the writing of his novel "Empire of Death"; Jon Preddle traces the purchasing history of Doctor Who by New Zealand broadcasters; Andrew Pixley discusses material cut from The Ambassadors of Death; the new series is reviewed the reactions of older fans are compared with those of unsuspecting school children to the first episode; plus news and reviews and more. TSV is available by mail order and PayPal is accepted. For more details visit www.doctorwho.org.nz. (Thanks to Adam McGechan)

FILTER: - Magazines

Calendar 2006Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 30 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Tenth Planet have sent us the artwork for the 2006Doctor Who Calendar, both front and back (though noting that the images may be subject to change at a later time). Click on the thumbnail for a larger version (note, though, that this is a very large file!) The calendar is due in the middle of September 2005.

FILTER: - Merchandise

Big Finish's CybermanBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 30 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

Big Finish has released details about the forthcomingCyberman audio series, written and directed by Nicholas Briggs and script-edited by John Ainsworth. "The human race is about to become extinct," says the site. "Mankind is fighting a long and costly war with its android creations in the Orion System. The deadlock must be broken at all costs. The president of Earth must think the unthinkable... 'There is nothing to fear'." The cover for part one, Scorpius due in September, is at right; parts two through four are Fear, Conversion and Telos and will be released in October through December. Click on the thumbnail for a larger version.

FILTER: - Audio

Courtney Bio Special, Baker SigningBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 30 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon

The upcoming biography of Nicholas Courtney, "Still Getting Away With It" written by Courtney and Michael McManus, will have a special edition release at the upcoming Regenerations convention next month. A brand new cover, specially done for the convention, has been announced byScificollector, who are publishing the special edition. "This is a limited edition that we have done in this special cover for the event," says Scificollector's Steven Scott. "However recognising that there will be some collectors who cant get to Swansea, we have reserved a quantity of 100 which can be ordered from our website (should be up by tomorrow). These will not be despatched until after the Swansea weekend, but we thought that Outpost Gallifrey's readers would want early notice of this new publication."
Meanwhile, Tom Baker has been announced as making a rare UK signing appearance on October 20 to co-launch the regular edition of the biography. Baker will be joined by Courtney and actorFrazer Hines (Jamie) and other guests. Further details will be announced soon at the Scificollector website. (Thanks to Steven Scott)

FILTER: - People - Classic Series