Now We Are Six HundredBookmark and Share

Thursday, 18 May 2017 - Reported by Chuck Foster
BBC Books have announced a new hardback book for the summer to tie in with National Poetry Day:

Now We Are Six Hundred (Credit: BBC Books)BBC Books Publishing Director Albert DePetrillo has acquired Doctor Who: Now We Are Six Hundred, the very first collection of Time Lord verse. BBC Books have world rights, with North American rights sold to HarperCollins.

A gentle and humorous riff on the classic Now We Are Six, this is a collection of charming, funny and whimsical poems that celebrate the joys, sorrows and wonders of Time Lord life. Written by author James Goss, the book features illustrations by former Doctor Who Executive Producer Russell T Davies – his first role as an illustrator, using the comic artist skills he developed in his youth.

Albert DePetrillo says:
This is a book I’ve long wanted to publish, and James and Russell have realised the idea brilliantly, well beyond anything I’d hoped. It’s something very special, a unique gift for every Doctor Who fan. For full effect, please be sure to read these poems aloud to your friends, preferably more than once.
James Goss says:
BBC Books have carefully baited an irresistible trap to lure people into reading poetry. Russell's beautiful illustrations make this the most charming Doctor Who book there's ever been (and I'm including that magical first Doctor Who book you discovered as a child). The poems have been a delight to work on. Who could resist retelling the fiendish Daleks’ Masterplan in verse, or finding bizarre and ludicrous rhymes for monster names?
Russell T Davies says:
I’ve been drawing for Doctor Who long before I was writing it, so it was like time-travel for me, voyaging back to that young scribbler who used to cover his school desk with Daleks!

Doctor Who: Now We Are Six Hundred will be published in hardback on 14th September, two weeks before National Poetry Day on 28th September.




Russell T Davies defends the BBCBookmark and Share

Friday, 25 September 2015 - Reported by Marcus
Russell T Davis with Alison Graham at the Radio Times Festival (Credit: Maggie Gibbons) Russell T Davies has made a strong defence of the BBC and the licence fee and the values it stands for, but warned the battle may already be lost.

Speaking at the Radio Times Festival, he urged people to consider the alternatives to the compulsory licence fee, such as a subscription model and to look at the schedules of current subscriber services such as the American premium cable network HBO and see what subscribers get for their money. He said: "couple of high class dramas. No news. No soaps.no weather, no radio stations. Google their schedules and see if that is what you want?"

Davies was being interviewed by Alison Graham for the first ever Radio Times Festival, which is being held at Hampton Court in West London. He said his favourite memory of working on Doctor Who was the laughter he had. "It was hard work but we did have fun". He revealed he most enjoyed writing dialogue for Daleks. "They are so clever. I love them".

He also spoke of how proud he was of Doctor Who. "It's indestructible. Imagine if they tried to cancel it now. There would be riots in the streets".

Speaking on writing for the Doctor: "you get the secret of writing for the Doctor when you realise he is much cleverer than you are. Then it falls into place".

He talked about how he started in the industry and advised aspiring writers to just write. "get all the experience you can, not necessarily on your pet project but say for your local youth theatre".

He talked about his current project, a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for the BBC. "It's something I've always wanted to do, he told the audience. It has a fantastic cast, and the whole play finishes with a joyous dance choreographed by Arlene Phillips. It's going to be on Saturday night in prime time. Only the BBC would do that".

Davies finished the session by talking to fans and signing autographs.

(Maggie Gibbons for the photo)




Russell T Davies returns to BBC with ShakespeareBookmark and Share

Friday, 28 August 2015 - Reported by Harry Ward
Russell T Davies, Executive Producer Charlotte Moore, controller of BBC One, announced at the Edinburgh Television Festival on Wednesday that former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies is to adapt William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for BBC One, with the help of the Doctor Who production team. Davies was spotted in Cardiff with David Tennant earlier this month which led to speculation amongst fans as to what the pair were doing in the city. The cast for A Midsummer Night’s Dream is still to be announced.

The feature will be directed by David Kerr, produced by Nikki Wilson and executive produced by Russell T Davies, Faith Penhale and Brian Minchin.

Russell T Davies says:
I’ve wanted to make this for the BBC for my entire adult life - and only the BBC can put on a play like this, for all the family, smack-bang in the heart of primetime. With a riot of prosthetics, CGI, magic and action, it needs the brilliant Doctor Who team in Cardiff to bring it to life.
For one night only, BBC One becomes the Globe, with a bold and accessible 90-minute adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Adapted by Russell T Davies (Doctor Who, Cucumber), it is a truthful version of the play - the original play, the original words, the original Shakespeare. Warm and funny, it will have as much attitude and invention as any theatrical interpretation.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is a much-loved comedy by William Shakespeare, set in the tyrannical court of Athens and the magical forest around the city. The single drama will be for everyone: children, who can laugh at Bottom and his Mechanicals and marvel at the fairies’ awesome powers; for adults, who know those broken hearts and star-crossed lovers all too well; for whole families, united in front of the television to enjoy the play’s dazzling world of danger, jokes, scares, poetry, thrills and fun.
The BBC Cymru Wales production will be filming in Roath Lock, Cardiff for transmission in 2016 as part of BBC’s Shakespeare Season.




Damaged Goods to be adapted for Big FinishBookmark and Share

Thursday, 24 July 2014 - Reported by Marcus
Big Finish Productions has announced it is to dramatise the Russell T Davies Doctor Who novel, Damaged Goods.

The Virgin book was originally published in 1996 as part of the New Adventures range of Doctor Who books. It was the first published Doctor Who story from Davies, who would go on to lead the team who revived Doctor Who in 2005.

The book is being adapted as a two-hour full cast audio written by Jonathan Morris, and to be released in August 2015.

Davies, who is a fan of Big Finish, expressed his pleasure that the story is being revisited
I’ve always been a huge fan of Big Finish, since long before I took the big chair on Doctor Who. So when they asked if they could adapt Damaged Goods… well, to be honest, I asked them what took so long!

Jonny has done the most brilliant job, adapting the novel - there’s lots of fascinating new stuff, while staying very true and faithful to the original story.
The story stars Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor, accompanied in his travels by companions Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester.

Jonathan Morris spoke of his excitment at being asked to adapt the novel
It was genuinely thrilling to be asked to adapt Damaged Goods. An honour, and a great responsibility to do justice to Russell’s extraordinary novel and to not disappoint fans of the New Adventures. I pulled out all the stops to capture the spirit of the novel, the character and Russell’s voice, and the end result is undoubtedly the best Big Finish script I’ve worked on.
Big Finish Productions have just celebrated the 15th Anniversary of their first release, Doctor Who: The Sirens of Time. The anniversary is being marked with a series of offers and tributes on the Big Finish website.




Doctor Who tops poll of greatest sci-fi, horror and fantasy momentsBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
The Doctor's farewell to Rose in Doomsday has been voted the greatest moment in sci-fi, horror and fantasy by readers of the magazine SFX, it was revealed today.

To mark the publication of issue 250 of the monthly magazine, readers were asked to vote for a definitive list of the 250 greatest moments of sci-fi, horror and fantasy in genres covering cinema, television, books, comics and video games. A total of 96,300 votes was cast and Doctor Who came top with that emotional scene set in Bad Wolf Bay. Originally broadcast on 8th July 2006, the concluding part of the two-episode story that ended Series Two was written by Russell T Davies - who was the showrunner at the time - and directed by Graeme Harper.

In a statement, SFX said:
Revisionists would have you believe that Who was always a show with emotional impact, but barring a couple of companion departures, that didn't really become true until the advent of Russell T Davies.

His most heart-destroyingly tragic contribution was this scene, in which a holographic projection of the Doctor talks to a tearful Rose on a Norwegian beach, with the signal cutting out just before the slowcoach can declare, "I love you". It's a moment everyone can identify with because, as Davies put it, "There's an echo of every loss you've ever had."

We've all had to bid farewell to someone we care about - even if it wasn't forced upon us by the threat of universal destruction - and this eye-moistening moment perfectly encapsulates the agony of break-up.

David Tennant told SFX:
I remember worrying on the day we shot this scene that as I was actually a projection from inside the Tardis my hair shouldn't be blowing in the wind.

That seemed terribly important at the time, and although we didn't find a solution to it, it bothered me for weeks. Then I saw the finished scene and of course all that matters is the end of the Doctor and Rose's story. Russell had weaved some glorious magic for two seasons and it all came together so perfectly in this scene that people still talk to me about it with misty eyes all these years later (and I suspect they always will.)

Murray Gold created some heart-stopping music that accentuates the misery and Billie [Piper] is just breathtakingly good. I feel very lucky to be standing on that beach, with my hair flying around, in amongst all these brilliant elements. Whatever else I do and wherever else I end up, this will be a moment I will be forever proud to look back on. Thanks for having us at number one.
SFX recruited some of the biggest names in the world of sci-fi to share their favourite moments, with Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Anthony Head among those agreeing that John Hurt's chest-burst scene in the 1979 film Alien was their greatest.

He said:
The first thing that comes to mind is Alien, the great exploding John Hurt moment! You didn't hear until afterwards how they filmed it, and it was one of those moments of reality really hitting a group of actors. You believed it. So full on. It was a perfectly-formed science fiction film, and it's always stuck with me. I was very scared.
The Top 10 greatest moments in sci-fi, horror and fantasy as voted for by SFX readers are as follows:

  • 1: Doctor Who - The Doctor and Rose say farewell at Bad Wolf Bay in Doomsday
  • 2: Avengers Assemble - The Hulk destroys Loki
  • 3: Alien - The chest-burst scene
  • 4: Firefly - Mal Reynolds kicks a bad guy into Serenity's engine intake (The Train Job)
  • 5: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - Luke discovers that Darth Vader is his father
  • 6: Blade Runner - Roy Batty's "Tears in rain" monologue
  • 7: Game of Thrones - "The Lannisters send their regards" (The Red Wedding)
  • 8: The Matrix - Neo dodges bullets in the bullet-time scene
  • 9: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (novel) - Dumbledore's death
  • 10: Back To The Future - "Where we're going, we don't need roads."

The full list is printed in issue 250 of SFX, which is on sale as of today and also features contributions from Davies and current showrunner Steven Moffat.

UPDATE - 8.20PM: Since the result was announced, the BBC has uploaded the scene to its official Doctor Who YouTube channel. Watch it below:





Moments in Time: The Trip of a LifetimeBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Moments in TimeAs one of the highest rated shows on television today, and with four (or five!) new Doctors under its belt, it's perhaps hard to imagine a time when Doctor Who was simply one of the thousands of series that had once flourished but ultimately been consigned to the great script book in the sky. But in the mid 2000s this was how the series was regarded by many, and the brave effort by the BBC to bring it back exactly nine years ago was very much a gamble - how would the 'old-school' fans receive it, and what would a 'modern' audience make of a time-traveller in a police box?

Of course, Doctor Who did have an advantage in that it was a show that was still remembered outside of its core fan base, the general public at large were aware of "Dr Who", his iconic TARDIS, and the Daleks. This helped to lend a sense of curiosity at what the new face behind the show, celebrated writer Russell T Davies, would do with the Doctor, who would be played by an established television and film actor in the form of Christopher Eccleston, not to mention the inclusion of the press-attraction of former teenage pop-star turned actress Billie Piper.

Doctor Who teaser, 1st January 2005. Image: BBCA teaser trailer on New Year's Day 2005 formally introduced the return to the general public, but it wasn't until March when the promotional gears were turned up to maximum with a host of trailers ("Do you want to come with me?") and programmes to build up interest in a way not witnessed again until the 50th Anniversary last year.

The three principal names appeared on a variety of news and magazine programmes in the lead-up to the premiere: Christopher Eccleston was a guest on the ever Who-friendly Blue Peter on the 21st March, and then came face-to-face with 'himself' on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on the 25th; Billie Piper appeared on Parkinson on the 19th; and Russell "TV" Davies appeared on the Breakfast couch on the 11th, on BBC2 Wales's On Show on the 17th, and with Phil and Fern on This Morning on the 23rd. The press preview on the 8th March was covered widely in the media, and led to recorded interviews with the stars popping up on Breakfast and GMTV during that week. Special programmes during the period included: Matthew Sweet looking forward with a little trepidation on how the show's return would fit in culturally on The Culture Show on the 17th; Ian Rankin, Bonnie Greer and Professor John Carey discussing the series' merits on Newsnight Review on the 18th; and BBC Radio 2 presenting Project: Who? on the 22nd. Doctor Who wasn't the only programme on the way - Doctor Who Confidential was also to premiere at the weekend on BBC Three, and executive producer Mark Cossey chatted to Rufus Hound on the channel's Destination Three about what to expect from the behind-the-scenes series.

BBC Wales Today coverage of Doctor Who Preview, 8 Mar 2005. Image: BBCBillie Piper interview on BBC Breakfast, 9 Mar 2005. Image: BBCChristopher Eccleston interview on BBC Breakfast, 9 Mar 2005. Image: BBCDoctor Who coverage on Newsnight, 9th March 2005. Image: BBCRussell T Davies on BBC Breakfast, 11th March 2005. Image: BBCChristopher Eccleston on GMTV, 11th March 2005. Image: BBCMatthew Sweet on The Culture Show, 17th March 2005. Image: BBCRussell T Davies on On Show, 17th March 2005. Image: BBCNewsnight Review, 18th March 2005. Image: BBCBillie Piper on Parkinson, 19th March 2005. Image: BBCChristopher Eccleston on Blue Peter, 21st March 2005. Image: BBCProject: Who?, 22nd March 2005. Image: BBCPhilip Schofield and Fern Britton on This Morning, 23rd March 2005. Image: ITVRussell T Davies on This Morning, 23rd March 2005. Image: ITVChristopher Eccleston on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, 25th Match 2005. Image: BBCMark Cossey on Destination Three, 26th March 2005. Image: BBCThe Trip of a Lifetime Trailer, 26th March 2005. Image: BBCDoctor Who ident, 26th March 2005. Image: BBCThe Trip of a Lifetime Trailer, 26th March 2005. Image: BBCDoctor Who ident, 26th March 2005. Image: BBC

Then, suddenly, it's the 26th March. As the early evening inexorably approaches, appetites are whetted with a special preview (and countdown) in A New Dimension, an excruciating wait through Graham Norton's Strictly Dance Fever ... and then, at 7:00pm, the BBC One "Tap Dogs" ident commences, with the announcement fans have been waiting over fifteen years for:
"Tap Dogs" ident, introducing a new series of Doctor Who! (Credit: BBC)Well now, BBC One hurtles through space and time.
Come with us for the trip of a lifetime!
Aliens, you have been warned ...
Christopher Eccleston is the new ... Doctor Who!


45 minutes later and an unprecedented ten million viewers - and 43.2% of the audience - have watched Rose run to the TARDIS and off into adventures with the Doctor; the final figure rose to 10.81m (44.8%) and achieved seventh place in the TV charts, only beaten by the soap juggernauts Coronation Street and EastEnders. A week later, a further series has been commissioned (not to mention a new Doctor on the cards!), and the longevity of a modern Doctor Who is assured ...





Doctor Who Anniversary Celebrated At BAFTA CymruBookmark and Share

Sunday, 29 September 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
Doctor Who failed to win either of the categories for which it was nominated at the BAFTA Cymru Awards tonight - but the programme's 50th anniversary was marked with a clips montage and a number of people with connections to the show and its spin-offs still walked away with gongs.

It had been put forward for Sound and Editing honours but lost out to, respectively, The Gospel Of Us and Stella.

However, the event - held at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff - saw Julie Gardner presented by Russell T Davies with the TLWS Sian Phillips Award, which recognises a significant contribution made by a Welshman or woman in a network television programme or major feature film. Gardner worked as an executive producer on Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and Torchwood.

Michael Sheen was named best actor for The Gospel Of Us, Sara Lloyd-Gregory carried away the award for best actress for Alys, and Ruth Jones made up for losing out in the actress stakes for Stella by being named best writer for the same series.

Arwel Wyn Jones won for production design on Sherlock - having also been nominated for Wizards vs Aliens - but Ray Holman, who had been nominated for costume design on Wizards vs Aliens, lost out to Chrissie Pegg for The Machine. Brian Minchin, who had been cited in the Children's Programme (Including Animation) category for Wizards vs Aliens, saw the prize go to Nia Ceidiog for Dwylo'r Enfys. However, Huw Edwards took best presenter for The Story Of Wales.




Details announced of Splendid Chaps: "Ten/Sex"Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 29 September 2013 - Reported by Adam Kirk
.As previously reportedSplendid Chaps is a year-long performance/podcast project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who hosted by comedian Ben McKenzie (Dungeon CrawlMelbourne Museum Comedy Tour) and writer John Richards (ABC1 sitcom OutlandBoxcutters podcast).

Described by its creators as part intellectual panel discussion, part nerdy Tonight Show, Splendid Chaps is a combination of analysis, enthusiasm and irreverence. The first episode went to number 1 on the iTunes TV & Film Podcast chart in Australia, and to number 4 in the UK. The podcasts to previous episodes are now available at www.splendidchaps.com or at iTunes.

Tickets are now on sale for their Tenth Doctor show! Their tenth major episode brings the Splendid Chaps to many people’s first (and favourite) Doctor, David Tennant. Phenomenally popular, and quickly establishing his own fanbase independent of the show, Tennant stayed in the role over five years, all the way to the end of Russell T Davies time as showrunner, cementing the programme's success and becoming "the" Doctor for a whole generation of viewers.

Seemingly a big part of Tennant’s success was his sex appeal – something foreign to many fans of the classic series. The Doctor of the Old Time (and most of his friends) seemed uninterested in sex, save for the occasional bit of flirting, but in the new series he clearly romances Rose, spurns Martha, fends off Amy and perves on Clara; he’s snogged every female companion, and “danced” with or married a slew of historical figures. Then there’s future pansexual Captain Jack; Amy and Rory, who spend their honeymoon in costume and their wedding night in the TARDIS; and the love affair that lasts lifetimes between the Doctor and Professor River Song. Is this weird? Is it awesome? What does modern Doctor Who say about sex, relationships and sexuality, and did the classic series have anything to say about them?

Hosts Ben McKenzie, John Richards and Petra Elliott are joined by writer, broadcaster and critic Richard Watts (artsHub, RRR’s SmartArts) and erotica writer and burlesque performer Aimee Nichols. Plus music from Melbourne geek rock band Blue Turtle Shell, giveaways from their lovely sponsors, and all the usual tomfoolery! (But no hanky panky.)

Space: The Gasometer Hotel, 484 Smith Street, Collingwood (corner of Alexandra Parade)
Time: Sunday 13 October; recording starts 5 PM
Accessibility: Splendid Chaps regret that this venue is not wheelchair accessible.
Tickets: $15 (plus booking fee where applicable)
Bookings: via trybooking.com or at the door (subject to availability)
Podcast: not yet available; released 23 October 2013.

With thanks to John Richards





Details announced of Splendid Chaps: "Nine/Women"Bookmark and Share

Monday, 12 August 2013 - Reported by Adam Kirk
.As previously reported, Splendid Chaps is a year-long performance/podcast project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who hosted by comedian Ben McKenzie (Dungeon Crawl, Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour) and writer John Richards (ABC1 sitcom Outland, Boxcutters podcast).

Described by its creators as part intellectual panel discussion, part nerdy Tonight Show, Splendid Chaps is a combination of analysis, enthusiasm and irreverence. The first episode went to number 1 on the iTunes TV & Film Podcast chart in Australia, and to number 4 in the UK. The podcasts to previous episodes are now available at www.splendidchaps.com or at iTunes.

Tickets are now on sale for their Ninth Doctor show! Their ninth major episode brings the Splendid Chaps finally to new Who, that time when the seemingly impossible happened and the show returned! Russell T Davies reinvented the Doctor by casting renowned TV and film actor Christopher Eccleston, famous for serious roles in dramas like Cracker, Our Friends in the North and Elizabeth. His simultaneously light-hearted and tortured portrayal of a man who has lost everything won over old and new fans alike, though the revelation after the smash success of the first episode that he would only be staying for one year took fans and media by surprise. Despite his short stay in the role, Eccleston defined the new era of Doctor Who and laid the groundwork for the format that persisted ever since.

Just as important to new Who was new companion Rose Tyler, played by pop star turned actor Billie Piper. For some she was a revelation compared to the “scream queens” of the past; but is this a fair assessment? Splendid Chaps take as their theme women in Doctor Who: was having a proactive and near equal status companion for the Doctor really such a radical idea? Has Doctor Who been as terribly sexist as has often been claimed? Are the women in the show as varied and multifaceted as the men? And is the modern series really better in its portrayal of women than the old?

Hosts Ben McKenzie, John Richards and Petra Elliott are joined by a panel including feminist organiser and writer Karen Pickering (Cherchez la Femme), author and podcaster Tansy Rayner Roberts (Galactic Suburbia, Verity!) and more, plus a musical performance, giveaways and excellence!

Space: The Gasometer Hotel, 484 Smith Street, Collingwood (corner of Alexandra Parade)
Time: Sunday 15 September; recording starts 5 PM
Accessibility: Splendid Chaps regret that this venue is not wheelchair accessible.
Tickets: $15 (plus booking fee where applicable)
Bookings: via trybooking.com or at the door (subject to availability)
Podcast: not yet available; released 23 September 2013.

With thanks to John Richards





Doctor Who Magazine 463Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 - Reported by Marcus
The latest edition of Doctor Who Magazine, released Thursday, looks back ten years to the time when it had just been announced that Doctor Who was to return, and asks was the series nearly stopped before it could begin?

In the first part of a look back at how and why Doctor Who was recommissioned back in 2003, the magazine talks to the people who ensured its successful comeback, including the then BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning Jane Tranter, writer Russell T Davies and BBC Wales' Head of Drama Julie Gardner who tells the magazine:
When Michael Grade arrived back at the BBC as Chairman, Mark Thompson was back as Director General. Michael Grade didn't like Doctor Who at all. Mark Thompson actually asked me if we could stop. I said, no, we couldn't!
Also in this issue.
  • Doctor Who’s showrunner and head writer Steven Moffat presents the three pieces that he wrote for the actors that have auditioned for the role of the Twelfth Doctor.
  • Doctor Who author Bob Baker looks back on his career in an interview and speaks of his most famous contribution to the Doctor Who universe: K9, the Doctor’s robotic dog.
  • As we await the announcement of the new star of Doctor Who, journalist Claire Budd and novelist Una McCormack go head-to-head to debate the burning question: Is it time for the Doctor to become a woman?
  • Arriving in the far future, the Fourth Doctor, Harry and Sarah discover that the last survivors of mankind are about to face the deadly, parasitic Wirrn! The Fact of Fiction looks back to one of Doctor Who's all-time great adventures – The Ark In Space – and reveals some surprising new facts
  • It’s 2010, and the dawn of a new era as Matt Smith makes his début as the Eleventh Doctor. The show may have a new leading man and a new style, but it’s still Doctor Who in the latest instalment of the ongoing cruise through Doctor Who history in Countdown to 50.
  • The Time Team take a trip to pre-war England as Chris, Emma, Michael and Will settle down to watch the two-part Tenth Doctor story Human Nature/ The Family of Blood and find that the formidable Family of Blood and their sinister Scarecrow servants are following the Doctor’s trail.
  • Clara’s lunch date with the legendary pilot Amy Johnson has been rudely interrupted by two identical copies of themselves… made from sand! Meanwhile, the Doctor is having trouble with his own doppelganger, and the real enemy is about to make its entrance. The latest comic strip adventure A Wing and a Prayer – written by Scott Gray with art by Mike Collins – continues.
  • Change is an essential part of Doctor Who and has allowed the series to constantly reinvent and reinvigorate itself for 50 years. And, as Jacqueline Rayner tells in this issue’s Relative Dimensions, this means that the series can be a useful tool when teaching children that nothing lasts forever
  • Jon Pertwee is the Doctor, as former Doctor Who Script Editor Andrew Cartmel reviews the new Blu-ray release of the Third Doctor's classic 1970 début adventure Spearhead From Space
  • The Watcher takes a look at Doctor Who episode titles in A History of Doctor Who in 100 Objects, and discovers that the names of colours have become a recent trend
Plus all the latest official news, TV and merchandise reviews, previews, competitions and a prize-winning crossword.




People RoundupBookmark and Share

Friday, 18 January 2013 - Written by Chuck Foster and John Bowman
Matt Smith is to make his directorial debut on an episode of Playhouse Presents... on Sky Arts. The episode is entitled Cargese and is described as "a unique piece of poetic realism which mines the tragic seam of adolescent love and loss.". Talking about his new challenge, Smith said: "Sky Arts offers creative opportunities that many other channels don't. To collaborate with (writer) Simon Stephens in this capacity was a thrilling and rare opportunity and one we both were keen to embrace." The episode airs on Thursday 25th April. [Sky Arts]

Marc Warren has also written and directed for the series with Hey Diddly Dee, which will feature Kylie Minogue in a starring role. Warren said: "Writing and directing for Playhouse Presents... has been one of the most magical experiences of my career. To give myself the best chance I called in every favour to surround myself with a dream cast and an incredible crew. And then by some miracle, Kylie appeared, and the fate of our film was sealed." As for Minogue, she said: "When the script was sent to me, I read it and knew instinctively I wanted to be part of this project. In Hey Diddly Dee, Marc has created a beautiful and quirky story." The episode launches the season on Thursday 14th March.

Other names to feature in Playhouse Presents... this year include Frances Barber, David Harewood, Suranne Jones and Reggie Yates.

As reported last year, a new series starring Bernard Cribbins with Freema Agyeman is to feature on CBeebies. Old Jack's Boat starts its 25-episode daily weekday run on Monday 21st January at 5.40pm, and sees Cribbins as the retired, story-telling fisherman of the title, with Agyeman featuring as café-owning character Shelly Periwinkle. The story to be broadcast on Friday 25th January is written by Russell T Davies and involves the Moon. "Sitting watching Bernard Cribbins reading out some lines that you've written, I can't tell you how good it was, it was a joy," said Davies. [BBC News, 15 Jan 2013]

Agyeman also made her US debut in The Carrie Diaries this week. The Sex And The City prequel series is airing on Mondays on The CW Channel and she plays Larissa Loughlin, a style editor at Interview magazine who also acts as a mentor to the eponymous young Carrie Bradshaw.

David Morrissey isn't averse to a return to Doctor Who, should he be asked. "I would absolutely love to do it again. I had such a ball doing it," he said. "Mark Gatiss says, you know, there's nothing more blissful for him to write than 'Interior TARDIS: Day' or whatever on the top of one of his scripts, it's living the dream. And for me, when I went down and worked on it, I thought 'This is great', it's a really well-run show, people take it very seriously but you have fun on it. And l loved that character, I really loved Jackson Lake, I thought he was a really interesting man, he was in some sort of trauma himself and the Doctor liberates him from that..." [Den of Geek, 17 Jan 2013]

A play starring Billie Piper and Tom Goodman-Hill has won a gong in the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards. The Effect, by Lucy Prebble, was named Best Play. Billed as a clinical romance, it is at the National Theatre until Saturday 23rd February, although all performances are sold out except for day tickets and possible returns. [BBC News, 15 Jan 2013]

Mark Williams - currently starring as the eponymous crime-solving priest Father Brown in the BBC One daytime drama - has spoken of his fondness for GK Chesterton's clerical detective. "He has a huge appetite for the detail of life and for humanity, and he cares very much about people's souls. That's the most interesting thing about him as a sleuth: it's not him solving a conundrum or a crossword, he's dealing with what he sees as people's eternal damnation. And when he works it out, the sky turns black and is full of harpies; he's desperately committed to his morality." [Radio Times, 13 Jan 2013]

Olivia Colman joins Tim Pigott-Smith and Shaun Dingwall in the cast of the ITV drama The Suspicions of Mr Whicher II: The Murder In Angel Lane. She will play Susan Spencer, who employs Whicher as a private inquiry agent to investigate the murder of her niece. Pigott-Smith reprises his role as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Richard Mayne, while Dingwall will play Inspector George Lock. The two-hour story is being filmed in Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, and central London over the next four weeks. [ITV Press Centre, 11 Jan 2013]

James Moran talks about the temptations of writing darker stories: "It's when people decide to make something dark for the sake of it, and then work out the story and force it, that never ends well. Children of Earth was just a story idea that gradually turned dark all by itself, so I think it worked. But I've certainly seen it hurt other shows and movies, where they decide to make it grim just to be edgy, without it flowing naturally from the story. And sometimes, blimey, you just want to have a laugh when you sit down for a bit of telly in the evening" [Den of Geek, 10 Jan 2013]

Amy Manson has been short-listed for the title role in the new series of Wonder Woman that goes into production this year for the CW Network. [STV, 16 Jan 2013]

Mark Benton is to star in an advertising campaign for electronic cigarettes that could prove to be a landmark case, as there is currently a ban in the UK on promoting tobacco-related products. [Radio Times, 15 Jan 2013]

After the campaign last year, David Tennant, Sir Richard Branson and Usain Bolt are back to promote Virgin Media in a second series of adverts for the cable broadcaster's TiVo service.

Karen Gillan was a victim of hacking earlier in the week on Twitter when she apparently became a heavy promoter of weight-loss pills! The actress has since regained control of her account.

BBC Books authors Gary Russell, Jacqueline Rayner and Steve Cole are to be guests for Dr Who: Past, Present and Future, an event in Chelmsford on Sunday 24th March that forms part of the Essex Book Festival. [Essex Book Festival]

Eoin Colfer was revealed last week as the author of the first Puffin book for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary. The author said: "When I was asked to write one of the 11 e-shorts for the Doctor's 50th anniversary it was like being whisked away by my own Tardis back to the 1970s when Kevin, my brother Paul and I were three science-fictioneers immersing ourselves in the lore of Doctor Who in the sunny south-east of Ireland. I chose the First Doctor because I always imagined him to be a crank who was jaded by the Universe's cruelty rather than amazed by its wonders. There was no naivety about him whatsoever. He had seen far more in his life than he ever wanted to, and his fight against evil‑doers was dogged and not punctuated by repartee. The First Doctor's companion was his granddaughter Susan and her love for her granddad was perhaps the purest thing in his world, and something he was prepared to protect fiercely." [Guardian, 12 Jan 2013]

Colfer also discusses the e-book in a video released by BBC Worldwide as part of the promotion for A Big Hand For The Doctor.


Written by Chuck Foster and John Bowman




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Friday, 21 December 2012 - (roundup compiled by John Bowman and Chuck Foster)
Toby Jones stars as Alfred Hitchock in a BBC Two drama about his relationship with the model and actress Tippi Hedren. The Girl, which airs on Wednesday 26th December at 9pm, also features Imelda Staunton as Hitchcock's wife, Alma, and Penelope Wilton as Peggy Robertson, who was his production assistant.

Peter Capaldi triumphed at the British Comedy Awards, winning the Best TV Comedy Actor gong for the role of Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It. Among the other nominees he beat to the title was Hugh Bonneville. [BBC News, 13 Dec 2012]

Steven Moffat's first TV work, the teen drama Press Gang, will be one of the shows feted when ITV celebrates 30 years of children's television on the commercial channel. A one-hour documentary marking the 30th anniversary of Children's ITV - which was launched on 3rd January 1983 - will be shown on ITV1 on Saturday 29th December at 6.30pm, and between 9.25am and 6pm on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th January CITV (which started on 11th March 2006) will be showing a selection of its iconic shows, including the first and last episodes of Press Gang. Two episodes of Children's Ward - which was produced by Russell T Davies, who also wrote for it - are to be shown as well, as is an episode of Button Moon, whose theme music was co-composed by Peter Davison. [Radio Times, 18 Dec 2012]

Yasmin Paige returns as Beth Mitchell when the second series of BBC Three comedy Pramface begins its run of six episodes on Tuesday 8th January at 10pm.

The two-part BBC Four drama Spies of Warsaw - starring David Tennant - starts on Wednesday 9th January at 9pm. Set in 1937, it features Tennant as Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, the French military attaché in Warsaw. With Hitler's shadow looming over mainland Europe, Mercier is grossly suspicious of the German military's intentions, but must juggle his formal duties at stifling diplomatic functions with the often death-defying realities of espionage. The drama also stars Burn Gorman as French bureaucrat Jourdain.

The Symphonic Spectacular in Sydney, Australia was hosted by Alex Kingston and Mark Williams, who were interviewed beforehand by local Breakfast show Today; the Sydney Opera House itself has provided a behind-the-scenes video featuring the presenters and composer Murray Gold. Meanwhile, Dudley Simpson was a special guest at the show on Wednesday - the classic series composer met up with his modern series counterpart Gold and conductor Ben Foster, and was also presented with a print of all eleven Doctors, celebrating his contribution to over 250 episodes of the series. [Dallas Jones/Doctor Who Club of Australia, 21 Dec 2012]

A variety of Who names have been nominated in the 2013 WhatsOnStage Awards: Billie Piper is up for The DIGITAL THEATRE Best Actress in a Play for The Effect; her husband Laurence Fox, alongside Arthur Darvill, Cian Barry, Jolyon Coy, Matthew Lewis and Lewis Reeves, are nominated for both the Best Play Revival and The IMAIL Best Ensemble Performance awards for Our Boys; Best Supporting Actress in a Play - Fenella Woolgar (Hedda Gabler) and Helen McCrory (The Last of the Haussmans); Best Supporting Actor in a Play - Adrian Scarborough (Hedda Gabler), Mark Gatiss (The Recruiting Officer) and Tim McInnerny (Scenes from an Execution); The STAR Best Actress in a Musical - Imelda Staunton (Sweeney Todd); The JO HUTCHISON INTERNATIONAL Best Solo Performance - Simon Callow (A Christmas Carol). Voting remains open until Thursday 31st January 2013.

While on the subject of award nominations, the writer Robert Shearman is in the running for the Short Story Collection Of The Year title in the This Is Horror Awards 2012 for his anthology Remember Why You Fear Me. Voting is open until 12.01am GMT on Friday 4th January 2013.

In Memoriam:

The newsreader Kenneth Kendall has died at the age of 88. In 1955, he achieved the distinction of becoming the BBC's first in-vision newsreader, and 11 years later he made a cameo appearance in Doctor Who, playing himself as a newsreader in episode 4 of the story The War Machines. He also had a cameo as a newsreader in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. After leaving the world of news, Kendall moved to the Isle of Wight, where he ran an art gallery. [The Independent, 14 Dec 2012]

(roundup compiled by John Bowman and Chuck Foster)




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Wednesday, 12 December 2012 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Bernard Cribbins is a firm supporter of the Surviving Winter campaign, which aims to help reduce isolation and vulnerability for older people. The actor said: "I am 100 per cent behind the campaign and delighted to be supporting it. I am going to donate my winter fuel allowance to support others in Surrey that need additional help during the winter. I encourage others who don't need their allowance to do the same." [Camberley People, 4 Dec 2012]

Having hung up his Merlin breeches, Colin Morgan has no plans to return to Doctor Who: "Well, that box has already been ticked, but I feel very lucky to have been part of that. It was my first filming job really, so it was a great thing to be a part of, but in terms of the future? Probably not." And as the Doctor? "No, I don’t think so!" [Radio Times, 3 Dec 2012]

Matt Smith played host to a fund-raising dinner for the National Youth Theatre on Monday 3rd December; the event, A Shepherd's Delight, was held at The Shepherd's Restaurant in Belgravia. Smith became a patron of the NYT in July. [Daily Mail, 4 Dec 2012]

Karen Gillan, back home in Inverness for Christmas, was invited to present a UNICEF Baby Friendly Award to NHS Highland maternity staff at the city's Raigmore Hospital; the award was in recognition of the education and support they have given to breastfeeding mothers. The actress said: "I knew very little about the benefits of breastfeeding until now. But I am definitely a convert. I have no plans to start a family – I have to find a boyfriend first. It is too early for me to settle down but when I do get broody, I will be following the breast is best advice. I have learned so much here, it has been great research if I have to audition for a nursing or midwife role in the future." [Daily Record, 12 Dec 2012]

David Tennant is to perform festive duties on the Christian O'Connell Breakfast Show this Christmas, and also portray the Virgin Mary in the celebrity nativity play due to be broadcast on 21st December. The presenter said: "David Tennant fans are going to really enjoy seeing his masculine Scottish jaw-line peeking out from under a head-scarf with me on his arm. He’ll need to draw on all his luvvie training to avoid being out-acted by me and Wrighty on the day." The actor has had a long association with O'Connell: he performed in another panto alongside Brian Blessed back in 2006, and has co-hosted the show in the past, too (2009, 2011); O'Connell was also a guest at the actor's wedding last year. [Radio Today, 12 Dec 2012]

Big Finish producer Nicholas Briggs talks about working with the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker: "Tom's an interesting one, really. All the stories you've heard about him being aggressive about scripts - he's mellowed a lot in his old age, but you do occasionally get a little flash of the old Tom Baker. He can be quite savage to a Director! ...He was suggesting something, you know, to the nth time, and it was quite a crazy suggestion. I said, 'OK Tom, I'm gonna go with that,' and he just said, 'Oh, Nick! I can't tell how happy it makes me when you accept one of my suggestions!" He sounded very moved... he said, 'I was rewriting my will this weekend, and I put something in it for you!' [Chicago Now, 3rd Dec 2012]

Sylvester McCoy talks about almost being Bilbo The Lord of the Rings, and how he came to play Radagast in The Hobbit: "It got down to two actors eventually from quite a few, and I was one of them. Of course the other was the great and glorious Ian Holm. I was a bit disappointed, but I was also quite pleased to be in such great company. So they knew me from that, and so as luck would have it, I was touring with Ian McKellen in King Lear, playing the fool to his king, and we went to New Zealand. And they knew me before, but they were reminded of me again, and they saw Ian and I working on the stage together. I think they must have quite liked that." [LA Times, 3 Dec 2012]

It has been announced that Russell T Davies married his long-term partner Andrew Smith during the course of last week. The couple moved back to the United Kingdom last year so that they could be closer to friends and family after Andrew was diagnosed with cancer. [Anglotopia, 7 Dec 2012]

Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli talks about his love of Doctor Who: "I am absolutely addicted - in fact I dedicated a chapter of my autobiography (to it). When I first came to the UK I didn't understand English at all, so the first show I watched on TV was Doctor Who because you could follow the story and understand it without understanding the language. And I've been addicted since, it gets better and better and better. Unmissable! I am desperate to be in it - I'd pay for it!" [The One Show, 11 Dec 2012]

Former MP Louise Mensch is one of the contributors to the new book, Behind The Sofa: "I always had a sneaking suspicion that everyone in the world loves Doctor Who - well, now I have concrete proof. If I could get all the famous names who contributed to this book into one room, I think it would be the maddest convention ever. Until then, their favourite memories of the programme are preserved for all to see. Plus, everyone who buys a copy will be helping to give hope to the 820,000 people in the UK living with dementia today." [Telegraph, 3 Dec 2012]




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Friday, 2 November 2012 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Peter Davison comments on convention experiences: "When I come to a Who convention, I quite often get given books people have written, stories people have written - I got one at a recent convention which turned out to be a kind of Fifty Shades of Grey take on it. Fascinating it was. I've always loved the fandom (which) seem to be an extraordinarily tolerant bunch of people, and I mean this in the nicest way, because it's every kind of facet of the human condition that you see at every kind of convention." [ComicBookResources, 26 Oct 2012]

Nicholas Briggs has his own thoughts on conventions: "I love to see the enthusiasm of fans, because I'm a fan of the show, too. And I think they are all extremely important in nourishing a growing community, yes. Absolutely. The growing popularity of Doctor Who is a beautiful thing to behold. I remember times when it had become very unfashionable. So I'm delighted with this incredible resurgence." [Chronicle Herald, 24 Oct 2012]

Toby Jones is to appear as Alfred Hitchcock in a new HBO film called The Girl. The storyline revolves around the director's relationship with actress Tippi Hedren; Jones commented: "I hope it's fair in that it's based on several testimonies, not just Tippi's testimony. I hope I have been able to make him not a monster. He behaves monstrously at one point, but hopefully it's balanced out." Mentioning his time on Doctor Who, the actor said: "For my children it's about the coolest thing I could be in. It was great to do that." [Anglophenia, 20 Oct 2012]

Scott Bakula told audiences at the London Star Trek convention that he had been offered the role of Isaac in A Town Called Mercy, but filming clashed with other work commitments. The actor said that he'd become a fan of the new series after catching episodes shown when in the UK last year. [London Excel, 21 Oct 2012]

Last time we reported on the musical The Lightning Child being composed by Arthur Darvill for the Globe Theatre; unfortunately his studio equipment was stolen during a break-in: "I've lost everything I've written in the last 18 months, including all the music for the play, which is a nightmare. Luckily, I'd emailed lots of bits so I'm in the process of trying to get stuff back. But it's inspired me to go, 'I've got nothing here, I can write a lot of new stuff." [Standard, 25 Oct 2012]

Russell T Davies was one of the judges for the Wales Drama Award; he said of the winner, Katherine Chandler: "The six finalists were excellent and any of them could have won; in the end you're looking for an individual voice and what I loved about Katherine's piece (Parallel Lines, about a teacher-pupil relationship) is the fact it's a very strong play. She has so much to say about the world. You always need competitions or schemes or apprenticeships to encourage new writing. There's nothing more scary than sitting at home with your ideas and a computer but you have nowhere to send the script. But competitions open the door to you. There's nothing television needs more than new talent. Television eats material – you can’t find enough, even if it feels like the opposite when you're outside the system." [Wales Online, 26 Oct 2012]

Gareth David-Lloyd talks about the Torchwood legacy on his career: " I suppose you do get typecast in a way and people sort of do recognise you as 'the gay one from Torchwood' and maybe there's some auditions that you may not be seen for because of that, but if you look at the perks on the other hand, with all the places I've been, it's been great. I'm talking to you now, currently stood on a balcony looking over the rooftops of Prague because I'm doing a convention here on the weekend." [Brisbane Times, 31 Oct 2012]