John Hurt awarded KnighthoodBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 31 December 2014 - Reported by Marcus
John Hurt, who played the War Doctor in the 50th Anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

The actor was given his award for services to drama. Sir John Hurt has had a career lasting more than five decades, appearing in films such as The Elephant Man, where he played John Merrick, Nineteen Eighty-Four where he played Winston Smith and Scandal where he played Stephen Ward. On Television he is best known for playing Caligula in the renowned I, Claudius and Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant. His distinctive voice has been used in many productions such as Watership Down and the animated The Lord of the Rings.

Also honoured is actor James Corden who played Craig Owens alongside the Eleventh Doctor, who has been made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or OBE. Corden, who was also honoured for services to drama said he was delighted at with award.
I'm thrilled, overwhelmed and honoured to be recognised in such a way. I feel very lucky to be born in a country where creativity is both encouraged and valued. My family are very proud. My mum is already fretting about what to wear.
Other actors honoured include Sheridan Smith who is made a OBE and Meera Syal who is made a CBE.

The awards are given by Queen Elizabeth on the advice of the British Government.

FILTER: - Awards/Nominations - People

Big Finish Christmas offersBookmark and Share

Monday, 29 December 2014 - Reported by Chuck Foster
The Companion Chronicles: The Scorchies (Credit: Big Finish)Big Finish are running a "12 Days of Big Finish-mas" special offer over the course of the festive period, during which each day sees an item from their catalogue of series made available for download at a special price of £2.99 for 48 hours.

Details of each day can be found via their website: today's offer features the Companion Chronicle The Scorchies, which stars Katy Manning reprising her role as Jo Grant.

FILTER: - Big Finish - Special Offers

Toby Hits 100Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 27 December 2014 - Reported by Marcus
Toby Hadoke has completed the 100th Podcast in his quest to get anecdotes about every Doctor Who story broadcast during the show's first fifty years.

The actor and comedian, and the man behind the review Moths ate my Doctor Who Scarf, began his quest in January 2013 by interviewing special effects make-up artists Susan Moore and Steve Mansfield. Over the next 100 editions he has talked to a vast range of personal associated with the series in its long history, giving a real insight into the way the show was made and uncovering previously unheard stories.

The 100th edition was released on Christmas Day and reveals whether Hadoke was successful in his quest.

All The Podcasts are hosted by Big Finish and all are available to download for free from the Big Finish Website.

Everyone involved has given their time for nothing and listeners are invited to make donations to the interviewee's favourite charity.

FILTER: - Big Finish - Doctor Who - People

Australian overnight ratings for Last ChristmasBookmark and Share

Saturday, 27 December 2014 - Reported by Adam Kirk
Last Christmas has debuted in Australia, averaging 563,000 viewers in the five major capital cities. It was the top-rating drama of the day and the thirteenth highest rating programme of the day overall.  These ratings do not include regional or time-shifted viewers.
Media Links: TV Tonight

FILTER: - Australia - Broadcasting - Ratings - Series Specials

Last Christmas - AI:82Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 27 December 2014 - Reported by Marcus
Doctor Who Last Christmas had an Audience Appreciation Index score of 82.

The Appreciation Index or AI is a measure of how much the audience enjoyed the programme. The score, out of a hundred, is compiled by a specially selected panel of around 5,000 people who go online and rate and comment on programmes.

The highest scoring programmes from Christmas Day were Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey.

The BBC Three repeat of Last Christmas had 0.42 million watching, a share of 1.9% of the total TV audience.

FILTER: - Ratings - Series Specials - UK

Moments in Time - Goodbye Susan, Goodbye My DearBookmark and Share

Friday, 26 December 2014 - Reported by Marcus
Carole Ann Ford (Credit: BBC)Moments in TimeIt was on Saturday 26th December 1964, fifty years ago today, that we said goodbye to the first regular to leave Doctor Who, with the departure of Carole Ann Ford from the series.

When 12.4 million viewers saw Susan fall in love with freedom fighter David Campbell and the Doctor lock the TARDIS doors so she wouldn't have to choose between her grandfather and her new love, it was the end of an era for the Doctor and his granddaughter. For the programme Doctor Who it was a major milestone, with one of the quartet of actors to have created the series moving on to new challenges, and leaving a sizable hole in the tight-knit team.

Carole Ann Ford was an experienced character actress when she joined Doctor Who. She first appeared in a film at the age of eight. After appearing in a number of commercials and walk-on work, her first proper role was in the play Women of the Streets. She had appeared in the TV Movie Expresso Bongo and had roles in Horrors of the Black Museum, Probation Officer, The Ghost Train Murder, Emergency-Ward 10, Dixon of Dock Green, No Hiding Place, Crying Down the Lane, The Day of the Triffids, Mix Me a Person, Harpers West One, The Punch and Judy Man and Z-Cars.

It was that role in Z-Cars which led to her being cast as Susan, a role originally envisaged, and pitched to Ford, as a much more alien character than that which eventually emerged. It is well known that the changes to the proposed role frustrated Ford. In 2013 she talked to The Daily Telegraph:
I was a very good dancer and had been an acrobat. They told me Susan was going to be an Avengers-type girl – with all the kapow of that – plus she would have telepathetic powers. She was going to be able to fly the Tardis as well as her grandfather and have the most extraordinary wardrobe. None of that happened.
The role of Susan had been toned down on the instructions of the Head of Drama, Sydney Newman, who wanted the character to be much more ordinary, a character that a teenager in the 1960's could relate to.

Carole Ann Ford decided to leave the series at the end of the first year of production. She completed her last studio recording on Friday 23 October in Riverside Studio 1. Following the recording she sent a note to the BBC Head of Drama, Sydney Newman, thanking him for allowing her to appear in the series. He replied the following week
Memo - Sydney Newman - 28 October 1964

Are you kidding - expressing your appreciation for appearing in Doctor Who! Fact is, we are greatly indebted to you. You have done a fine job for us in the BBC and we are deeply appreciative of your work.

May I wish you the very best of luck in your future career, and hope to see you time and time again on the BBC screen in roles other than that of the 'waif from outer space' (what a title!)
Following her departure from the series Carole Ann Ford had a couple of small roles in British Television. However as a key member of one of the most successful series in the BBC repertoire, seen by up to twelve million viewers each week, Ford found herself typecast. She told the Daily Telegraph
I was incredibly annoyed because I wanted to do more television and films and the only thing that people could ever see me in was a recreation of what I had done. A Susan clone. Some kind of weird teenager. I wanted to do work that would disconnect me from Doctor Who. That is a very difficult thing to accomplish, as many other actors who have played the companions have found out.
In 1965 she played a prostitute, Jenny Graham, in an episode of Public Eye, the long-running British TV series starring Alfred Burke, but received complaints from parents expecting the role to be a copy of Susan. In 1974 She played Valerie in an episode of the comedy Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?.

Ford was taken ill in 1977 when a mistreatment for a back injury caused her to become hyper allergic. She nearly died in Spain when an aspirin caused anaphylactic shock. Her weight plummeted to just five stone (70lb) and she lost her voice.

To help her recover Ford undertook voice coaching which led to a new career as a vocal adviser for actors, politicians and business leaders. In 1983 she well enough to return to the role of Susan when she was offered a part in the Doctor Who Twentieth Anniversary special The Five Doctors. She was still very possessive of the role, insisting the script was changed when she was initially asked to refer to The Doctor rather than Grandfather.

Carole Ann Ford now lives in North London. She has reprised the role of Susan in a number of Doctor Who audio plays by Big Finish Productions. In 2013 she appeared in a cameo role in the BBC Two docu-drama about the creation of Doctor Who, An Adventure in Space and Time, a play where Ford herself was played by Claudia Grant.

She still holds great affection for the series she left fifty years ago, the show she helped to create.
I wish William Hartnell was here to share in all this. Even before we started he said, 'This is going to go on for ever.’ He was right, bless him. He loved it so much.

Goodbye Susan 
Susan has fallen in love with resistance fighter David Campbell, and the Doctor decides to leave her on Earth to find a new life with him, bidding her a fond but firm farewell

SOURCES: The Handbook: The First Doctor – The William Hartnell Years: 1963-1966, David J Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (Doctor Who Books, 1994); Daily Telegraph 7th April 2013

FILTER: - Classic Series

Last Christmas - Overnight RatingsBookmark and Share

Friday, 26 December 2014 - Reported by Marcus

Doctor Who: Last Christmas was watched by 6.3 million viewers, according to unofficial overnight figures.

Doctor Who was the seventh most watched programme of the day, with BBC One once again dominating Christmas night viewing. Mrs Brown's Boys which had 7.6 million watching, topped the list for the second year running, albeit with a much lower rating than last year.

Ratings across the board were down on previous years, last year The Time of the Doctor had 8.3 million watching. Final figures, released next week, which include those who record the programme for later viewing, should see Doctor Who move up the chart.

FILTER: - Ratings - Specials - UK

Jenna Coleman's future confirmed - SpoilersBookmark and Share

Friday, 26 December 2014 - Reported by Marcus
This items contains spoilers from the Christmas Special

The BBC has confirmed that Jenna Coleman will be staying with Doctor Who for the foreseeable future, with the actress signed up for the entire run of Series Nine.

The confirmation follows speculation that Coleman would leave the series after the Christmas special, Last Christmas, or part way through the next series. Head writer Steven Moffat told an invited audience at the Press Screening for Last Christmas that he was delighted the actress was staying with the show, although he admitted it was touch and go for a while.
I always think I’m good at winding people up but Jenna completely outplayed me by saying, ‘I’m not telling you whether I’m staying or going because it’s more exciting.’ And it occurred to us all that we don’t start shooting until January so, for once, we could actually keep it a secret.
Coleman said she was delighted to be staying
It's wonderful to have a whole other series with the Doctor. For me, I couldn't walk away with the story being unresolved. There's so much more to do, I think. They've finally reached a point where they understand each other.
Doctor Who Season 35 begins shooting in January.

FILTER: - Jenna Coleman - Series 9/35

Last Christmas - Overnight RatingsBookmark and Share

Friday, 26 December 2014 - Reported by Marcus
6.3 million watched Doctor Who: Last Christmas according to unofficial overnight figures.

Full details follow

FILTER: - Ratings - Specials - UK

Last Christmas - PreviewBookmark and Share

Thursday, 25 December 2014 - Reported by Harry Ward
The BBC have released preview clips from Last Christmas and the accompanying Doctor Who Extra.

Last Christmas: Preview - Santa arrives!:

Doctor Who Extra: Preview Clip 1:

Last Christmas: Preview - Clip 2:

Meanwhile the latest Radio Times free downloadable retro poster, created by designer Stuart Manning is now available.

Manning told Radio Times:
The title for this episode provided an idea almost immediately. The Tardis trapped in the hourglass is a little nod to the Radio Times Doctor Who Christmas cover from 2005. The typography owes a debt to 1960s cocktail-era design, drawing on Christmas cards from the time. I wanted it to look a bit like an old Christmas card – pleasant at first glance, but more sinister when you look more closely...

Last Christmas - Radio Times Poster  (Credit: Radio Times/Stuart Manning)

FILTER: - Radio Times - Series Specials