Tag Archives: Doctor Who

David Tennant expected fit for new Who

The Doctor and Rose Tyler

David Tennant is expected to be fit enough to start filming scenes for a Doctor Who special next month, just weeks after surgery on his back.

The show’s executive producer, Russell T Davies, said he was “hopeful” Tennant would start filming on 19 January.

“We’ll have to be very careful,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll be swinging him on a wire on his first day back.”

The actor’s back injury has forced him out of a London stage production of Hamlet until after Christmas.

Davies, who was speaking at the press launch of BBC One’s Christmas Doctor Who special, The Next Doctor, said there would be no re-writes on the next story to cut down on Tennant’s action scenes.

“No, there’s been none of that, and I think David would have told us by now because he’s read the first script.”

He said the production was insured in case Tennant was still recuperating when filming resumed.

Neither Tennant nor David Morrissey – who plays “The Next Doctor” – attended the launch.

The Christmas story sees them team up to battle a threat from the Cybermen in London on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1851.

The episode also stars Dervla Kirwan, who plays evil workhouse matron Miss Hartigan.

Warning – potential spoilers ahead: Please do not read any further if you do not wish to know more about The Next Doctor or next year’s specials

The story introduces some new variations on the Cybermen: the dog-like Cybershades and the CyberKing.

It also features a mystery surrounding a man named Jackson Lake, the Doctor taking a trip in the other Doctor’s Tardis and a new kind of sonic screwdriver.

Davies revealed that the first of next year’s Doctor Who specials will be filmed abroad.

“It’s going to be quite exotic,” he said. “I can’t tell you where, but we’ve got four days filming abroad, to give it a bit of size and a new feel to it.”

He added there was also a “great guest star”.

Tennant announced in October that he would stand down as the Doctor after filming the four special episodes in 2009.

Davies said each special would feature a different companion and that he would write Tennant’s two final stories which would be broadcast “toward the end of next year”.

“The big climax is mine, all mine,” he said.

He added that the production team for the 2010 series of Doctor Who were “auditioning or looking” for a new Doctor.

“I think it could be a while – it’s a very big deal to set up. Whoever becomes the Doctor has got to take on a whole life. It’s not just becoming a part of a TV show,” he said.

BBC News

Doctor Who (before the Tardis)

Newly released documents, which reveal the 1960s conception of Doctor Who, show how nervous the BBC was about producing a sci-fi show, writes Tom Geoghegan.

The Doctor without his time-travelling police box is difficult to imagine, but its creators initially proposed he journey through space in an invisible machine covered in light-resistant paint.

When BBC producers were devising the show in the early 1960s, they thought viewers should see no machine at all, only “a shape of nothingness”.

The BBC’s head of drama Sydney Newman, who commissioned the first series, insisted an invisible machine would not work and the doctor’s vehicle should be a strong visual symbol.

Wisely, writers also said a transparent, plastic bubble would be “lowgrade”. But a seed of the Tardis idea is sown when they suggest using “some common object in the street” like a night-watchman’s shelter.

These discussions are revealed in six previously unpublished documents, now digitised on the BBC Archive website. These include handwritten notes by Mr Newman, regarded by fans as the genius behind the original concept.

The papers, accompanied by previously unseen images at rehearsals, show deep concerns about bringing a science fiction drama to a mainstream audience – “not an automatic winner”, says a researcher.

It was regarded as a rather obscure subject, says BBC archivist Jim Sangster, and given the space limitations at Lime Grove studios that ruled out an ambitious set, this added up to a huge gamble.

“Even having done something as massive as Quatermass, they didn’t have confidence in sci-fi. It was seen as niche and American.

“After Star Wars, we have a different view of course, and we see it as hugely entertaining and successful. But they were nervous – it wasn’t a Western or a period drama. It was something really obscure and they had to do research into it.”

There was no fanfare when the first episode was discreetly advertised in the Radio Times on Saturday 23 November 1963, at 5.15pm, sandwiched between Grandstand and Juke Box Jury.

That was typical of the times, says Mr Sangster. “They never said ‘This is a TV event’ because TV itself was an event. We only had two channels. ITV was all about spectacle and the BBC was a lot more dignified. So the Radio Times just says ‘Here’s something you might like to see.'”

At the start of that year, the BBC children’s writer Cecil Webber had devised three “main characters”, schoolgirl Biddy (later named Susan Foreman) and two teachers, Lola (later Barbara Wright) and Cliff (renamed Ian Chesterton). They were to be the audience’s eyes and ears, through which viewers would learn about the mysterious father figure, the Doctor.

In Mr Cecil’s illuminating background notes, he describes the Doctor as follows:

“A frail old man lost in space and time. They give him this name because they don’t know who he is. He seems not to remember where he has come from: he is suspicious and capable of sudden malignance; he seems to have some undefined enemy; he is searching for something as well as fleeing from something. He has a ‘machine’ which enables them to travel together through time, through space and through matter.”

It’s hardly heroic but that description, apart from being frail, fits David Tennant perfectly, says Mr Sangster. He’s quite unforgiving and it’s up to humans to remind him of his moral duty. And the characteristics of the three humans have been amalgamated into female companions such as Billie Piper’s Rose, he says.

That first description of the Doctor, played initially by an old-looking William Hartnell, still holds true today, says Doctor Who Online editor, Sebastian Brook, and his mystique is one of the show’s guiding principles.

“The suspiciousness is something that’s passed on through the years and the undefined enemy is things going wrong with the universe.

“And the mystery as well. It’s not just a question mark, but the character itself – who is he? If that’s ever resolved in the series, then that’s the day it fails.”

He believes Russell T Davies has seen these original ideas and gone back to basics to replicate its early success.

“He could have picked anything in 45 years to go back on. But as the show lost its way a bit during the 80s, it’s interesting that he’s picked that point at the beginning.”

But what about the ideas that didn’t make it?

Mr Newman scribbled “Nuts!” next to the suggestion that the Doctor’s secret mission was to meddle with time and destroy the future. But six years later, an element of that was worked into the plot when the Time Lords arrived.

In his background notes, Mr Webber had a brainstorm about ways the Doctor’s identity could develop. He stopped short of making him appear as Santa Claus but he suggested Bethlehem as a location and the Doctor as Merlin, as Jacob Marley, and even the Doctor’s wife as Cinderella’s godmother.

But Mr Newman wrote in the margin: “I don’t like this much – it reads silly and condescending. It doesn’t get across the basis of teaching of educational experience – drama based upon and stemming from factual material and scientific phenomena and actual social history of past and future.”

Mr Newman insisted that the show educate and inform, as well as entertain. Hence scenes where science teacher Ian discussed the property of acid on a planet, or history teacher Barbara enlightened viewers about the Aztecs.

But even Mr Newman’s foresight failed him on occasion.

One of the cardinal rules for the new show, spelled out in one of the newly-released documents, is “No Bug-Eyed Monsters” – which Newman abbreviated to “No BEMs” – and no tin robots.

He was therefore angry to find that rule had been broken to accommodate tin-can baddies armed with plungers, called Daleks.

Producer Verity Lambert had commissioned Terry Nation to devise an alien and he had come up with one that would glide across the floor like a Russian dancer.

But Mr Newman’s fury turned to delight when episode six of the first series, in which the Daleks made their debut, added six million viewers.

Even geniuses can get some things wrong.

A TOUCH OF TORCHWOOD

  • Doctor Who spin-off began in 2006 but some of its elements can be traced back to 1963
  • A plot written for the original Doctor but rejected, called Troubleshooters, can be seen in Torchwood
  • Not many dashing male leads but Captain Jack Harkness continues what began with Ian Chesterton and continued later with Harry Sullivan

BBC News Magazine

Who door not closed, says David Tennant

Doctor Who actor David Tennant has not ruled out the possibility of returning to the hit BBC series after he leaves.

“Who knows what might happen in the future?” he told BBC Breakfast. “The door isn’t necessarily closed forever.”

The 37-year-old revealed last week he would be relinquishing the role after shooting four more specials in 2009.

But he did admit it was “one of those parts that sticks with you,” citing Peter Davison’s appearance last year in a Who short made for Children in Need.

The actor refused to be drawn, though, on who might become his eventual successor.

“It’s not down to me,” said the actor, currently appearing with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. “I’ve got nothing to do with it.”

Bookmakers have made James Nesbitt one of the favourites to take over the coveted role.

The Cold Feet star has downplayed the speculation, however, saying he has no interest in becoming the 11th doctor.

Speaking to the BBC’s Lizo Mzimba in Marrakesh, Morocco, where he is currently filming new drama Occupation, the actor said it would be “career suicide” for him to follow in Tennant’s footsteps.

He did say, though, that Paterson Joseph – another actor who has been linked to the role – “would be great”.

BBC News

BBC Videos:

David Tennant on Doctor Who exit

David Tennant has announced he will leave Doctor Who after filming a string of special episodes next year.

The actor told BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba what the programme has meant to him, and why he is leaving.

Why have you decided to say goodbye to Doctor Who?

When I first started back in 2005, I always thought that if it worked out, three years would be about the right time.

Three years, three series. Which I did and I loved and I had a great time. And with Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner [executive producers] leaving, that became a very natural stepping off point for me.

What became very difficult was when it was announced that Steven Moffatt was taking over because I’m such a fan of his, he’s such a great writer, he’s written such amazing stories for me in Doctor Who already.

The prospect of hanging around for a while and enjoying working with him was sorely tempting and very nearly changed my mind.

But I think it’s better to go when there’s a chance that people might miss you, rather than to hang around and outstay your welcome.

What’s your message to the fans?

When I was a kid, I loved Doctor Who, I grew up with it. For me, it was the most exciting time when the Doctor changed.

You know he’s on his way out, you know something terrible’s going to happen, it’s very exciting – and then you’ve got this whole new character to look forward and wonder about.

It’s very exciting and it’s part of what makes Doctor Who so great. I’m excited as a viewer to see what happens next.

Russell T Davies must have given you some hints about what your exit will be like?

No! He hasn’t. I do not know what he’s thinking about. But Russell being Russell, I’m sure it’ll be a send off to be proud of.

What are your memories of the last three-and-a-bit years?

It’s been the most extraordinary time, it’s been bewildering, life changing, very exciting. And just so much fun, such a great show to work on.

And again I think that’s one of the reasons I think it’s right to take a deep breath and bow out when it’s still fun, when it’s a novelty.

I don’t ever want it to feel like a job, so I want to move on when it still feels exciting and fresh and that means I’ll miss it.

What do you think you’ll miss the most?

I think I’ll miss all the people who work on the show. I’ll miss Russell’s fantastic scripts and of all the other writers who work on it.

And I’ll miss playing this character. I don’t think there’s a better character on television. He gets to be everything – he gets to be funny and intense, he’s a hero but he’s also a bit of a clown, he’s an anarchist but he’s strong and dependable and crazy. Like mercury one minute and like steel the next.

And to get the chance to play all those things for 45 minutes on a Saturday night – I’ll miss that I’m sure.

As an actor, do you think you’ll always be known as Doctor Who?

I think it’s one of those parts that does that does follow you around, yeah. I know a couple of the old Doctors and it’s clearly still a part of their life. I think the public has such an enthusiasm for it and such an intrigue for the show, that once you’ve been part of it it does tend to stick to you like glue.

But that’s fine – it’s something I’m very proud to be forever associated with.

Do you think you’ll ever do anything as special as Doctor Who again?

It’s difficult to know… I think the cross-generational, cross-cultural appeal of Doctor Who is pretty unique. I can’t think of anything else that has fans who are seven and 70 in almost equal measure.

It’s difficult to think of what else one might do that could rival that. I hope I’ll do things that will be as exciting and as thrilling artistically and professionally, obviously, but I think Doctor Who is pretty unique.

How has Doctor Who changed your life – it must have had great positives and great negatives?

Obviously the great positive is I get to be involved in this show I’m desperately proud of, and I get to work on these great scripts and I get to play this incredible character.

I suppose it has a level of public scrutiny and attention which is very flattering and kind of thrilling to be in the middle of, but also bewildering, and sometimes it does make make you famous in a way that was never a particular intention of mine.

It’s churlish to complain about, but it does bring certain tensions to your life which you might not always choose to have. But I knew what I was getting into, that’s part of the job, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The huge question is – who would you like to replace you?

Well I’ve always been a big supporter of Wee Jimmy Krankie. So the campaign starts here to get Wee Jimmy Krankie in the Tardis and big Ian Krankie as the companion. I think that works.

Whoever your successor turns out to be, what would your advice be to them?

I wouldn’t be as pompous as to offer them advice – I’m sure they’ll sort it out for themselves. Just have fun. It’s the best part around. Enjoy it.

What will it be like for the fans – you’re their Doctor and it will be a huge change for them when you go?

I guess if you were eight when I took over, you’ll be 12 when I leave, which is quite a big time of life isn’t it? But I think that’s one of the exciting parts of being a fan of the show – you know that the doctor can change, the character and the centre of the drama can be a completely different person, and act very different.

It’s not like James Bond, where you know he’s a certain type of man, like Tarzan is a certain type of character, or Sherlock Holmes.

The Doctor can change quite radically, but there’s still an essential Doctor-ness and I’m sure whoever takes over will find their own way of communicating that.

And when I was a kid, Tom Baker turned into Peter Davison, and it was thrilling and extraordinary and a little bit disorientating at first, but in a really exciting way, so I’m excited for everyone else getting to watch that happen. I think it’ll be great.

You’re not leaving immediately – you’ve got another year for the specials. Can you tell us about that?

We’ve already shot the Christmas special for this year called The Next Doctor, which in the circumstances is perhaps a more intriguing title than it was before. We see the 10th Doctor meeting another Doctor.

And then in January we’ll film four more specials, which will be screened throughout next year, and they’ll be the four last stories that I do.

I don’t quite know when they’ll go out, but they’ll go out sometime throughout 2009.

BBC News (including video)

David Tennant quits as Doctor Who

David Tennant is to stand down as Doctor Who, after becoming one of the most popular Time Lords in the history of the BBC science fiction show.

Tennant stepped into the Tardis in 2005, and will leave the role after four special episodes are broadcast next year.

He made the announcement after winning the outstanding drama performance prize at the National Television Awards.

David Tennant

“When Doctor Who returns in 2010 it won’t be with me,” he said.

“Now don’t make me cry,” he added. “I love this part, and I love this show so much that if I don’t take a deep breath and move on now I never will, and you’ll be wheeling me out of the Tardis in my bath chair.”

‘I’ll miss it’

Three years was “about the right time” to play the role, he told the BBC in an exclusive interview.

“I think it’s better to go when there’s a chance that people might miss you, rather than to hang around and outstay your welcome,” he said.

His stint in the show had been “the most extraordinary time, it’s been bewildering, life changing, very exciting”, he said.

“And just so much fun, such a great show to work on.

“That’s one of the reasons I think it’s right to take a deep breath and bow out when it’s still fun, when it’s a novelty.

“I don’t ever want it to feel like a job, so I want to move on when it still feels exciting and fresh and that means I’ll miss it.”

Tennant, the 10th actor to play the Doctor Who, left fans guessing about his return at the end of the latest series.

In the last episode, in July, the Doctor had to defeat his enemies the Daleks to save the universe.

Almost 10 million people watched as the Time Lord apparently started the process of regeneration – but did not complete it.

Tennant will appear in a Christmas special, titled The Next Doctor, before filming four more specials in January.

“They’ll be the four last stories that I do,” he said.

In a sign of his popularity, he was voted best drama performer in a public vote at the National Television Awards.

He has been named most popular actor at the same ceremony for the past two years. That prize has been discontinued this year.

An average of 8.1 million people a week watched the latest series – the fourth since it made a comeback in 2005 – in its Saturday evening slot on BBC One.

Russell T Davies, executive producer, said: “I’ve been lucky and honoured to work with David over the past few years – and it’s not over yet, the Tenth Doctor still has five spectacular hours left!

“After which, I might drop an anvil on his head. Or maybe a piano. A radioactive piano. But we’re planning the most enormous and spectacular ending, so keep watching.”

A fifth series of the show is scheduled for 2010.

Tennant replaced Christopher Eccleston, who resurrected the show after a 16-year break.

Tennant made his name in TV dramas such as Blackpool and Casanova.

He started his career in theatre and in recent months has returned to the stage with well-received performances in Hamlet and Love’s Labour’s Lost for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In December last year, Tennant denied rumours that he was planning to quit after Catherine Tate – his new companion in the Tardis – told the Jonathan Ross radio show she thought the next series of Doctor Who would be Tennant’s last.

He said at the time: “Catherine Tate stitched me up good and proper. She goes on Jonathan Ross and makes up a load of old nonsense.”

BBC News

Doctor Who and “The Stolen Earth”

For all those who saw the penultimate episode of Doctor Who, “The Stolen Earth”, I have a little spoiler for what looks like best ever series ending. The spoiler (at the bottom of the page) is a group photograph of the Doctor with current and past heroes from the rejuvenated series. Are they the “Children of Time” as alluded by Davros, more than likely but look out for two characters not featured in the first part.

With “The Stolen Earth” ending in what is arguably one of the most intense cliffhangers, especially for a British made sci-fi show, we’re left with the possible demise of Torchwood and Sarah Jane Smith as a mortally wounded Doctor begins to regenerate.

Is this the most closely guarded secret in sci-fi? As far as we are all concerned, David Tennant is due to be in the 2008 Christmas special, along with a small number of special episodes throughout 2009. Has Russell T. Davies pulled a fast one on everyone or are we looking at something more clever?

Remember, Donna Noble and the Doctor had to travel to the Medusa Cascade by one second in time due to Davros phasing time. Also the servant at the Shadow Proclamation mentions to Donna that there is “something on her back”. Donna is being made out to be more important than she realises, can she warp reality as a result of her encounter with the “Time Beetle” in the previous episode “Turn Left”?

Who knows, but I can’t wait until Saturday night to find out.

Stolen Earth Gang