DoctorDoctor Who Guide

Series One [Season 27] (2005)


Press and Publicity Articles for Series One [Season 27] (2005)


List:
18 Sep 2002Doctor Who returning soon?, by Shaun Lyon
19 Mar 2003Doctor Who's return rumours hit the press and internet.
09 May 2003No Future?
21 Jul 2003Bring back Who
21 Aug 2003Doctor Who rights
26 Sep 2003Links to Media Coverage, by Shaun Lyon
26 Sep 2003Doctor Who returns to BBC One
26 Sep 2003Doctor Who ready to come out of the Tardis for Saturday TV series, by Tom Leonard
30 Sep 2003Verity Lambert on new Who
01 Oct 2003Tom backs Doctor Izzard
01 Oct 2003Eddie Izzard rumors fly after Tom Baker's "announcement", by Shaun Lyon
03 Oct 2003Good to be back?
06 Oct 2003Nighy favoured as Doctor?
09 Oct 2003Exclusive Eddie Izzard Interview
11 Nov 2003When's it coming back?
10 Jan 2004Interview - Russell T Davies
31 Jan 2004Mark Gatiss talks about writing for the new series
09 Feb 2004New producer announced
04 Mar 2004Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat join Russell T Davies to write Doctor Who series
20 Mar 2004Christopher Eccleston to play Doctor Who
25 Mar 2004Never mind the licence fee, what about the daleks?, by Owen Gibson
24 May 2004Billie Piper is Doctor Who companion
24 May 2004Russell on Rose
08 Jun 2004Moffat on Who
02 Jul 2004Daleks defeated
20 Jul 2004Monsters from The Mill
28 Jul 2004Mickey announced
25 Aug 2004Russell T Davies discusses new Who costume with SFX
24 Sep 2004Russell T Davies chats to SFX magazine about new Who
19 Oct 2004Design for new series logo revealed
20 Oct 2004Doctor Who Confidential
17 Nov 2004Dalek Teasers
01 Dec 2004BBC One - Winter highlights 2005
09 Dec 2004Davies talks Daleks
31 Jan 2005Mark Gatiss talks about writing for the new series
04 Feb 2005Gold themer
09 Mar 2005Doctor Who arrives in the 21st Century
10 Mar 2005Doctor Who Press pack - phase one
22 Mar 2005DWM takes a look at the new-look TARDIS
22 Mar 2005Doctor Who Press pack - phase two
29 Mar 2005Doctor Who set for toyshop invasion, by Stephen Brook
30 Mar 2005"I'm not surprised . . . I knew that Dr Who would be massive", by Wil Marlow
31 Mar 2005Eccleston quits Doctor Who role
06 Apr 2005ABC grabs Dr Who series
21 Jun 2005BBC Chairman fan of new Doctor Who series
07 Jul 2005DWM Season 1 Special
25 Oct 2005Doctor Who takes three TV awards
17 Jan 2006Who viewer awards triumph
26 Jan 2006Doctor Who wins Broadcast Award
30 Mar 2006Welsh wonders!

Could Doctor Who be back next year? That's the conflagration of rumors that have started after an interview with BBC1 chief Lorraine Heggessey, who spoke to Simon Mayo of Radio Five Live on Tuesday. "Doctor Who was a fantastic series," said Heggessey, "and I think we should be looking at ways to reinvent it. ... Discussions are going on at the moment, but they are in the very early stages. There is an awful lot to sort out, including copyright and so on, but, yes, it could be coming back. And tea-time on Saturdays would seem an appropriate place." Many online and print media in the UK have picked up the story as a confirmation that the show is coming back, but of course reading Ms. Heggessey's comments don't specifically make note that the show will be back, only that it's being considered. While this is more of the same we've come to expect since the cancellation, this is perhaps one of the brightest discussions about the show's future, as it seems that those high-up at the BBC are indeed interested. We'll bring you more detail as we get it. (Thanks to the over 40 emails we received this morning about the comments, and BBCi for some clarification.)
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It's been another week of hopes raised and hopes dashed, with news of the Doctor's return hitting the Sunday papers and the world wide web.

In the 16th March addition of the Observer, Jane Tranter, the Head of Drama for the BBC, was asked for her opinions on the state of Saturday night television.

After bemoaning modern day drama, Jane suggested her fantasy Saturday night viewing in which she said, "I'd like to do a modern version of Doctor Who starring someone like Judi Dench".

With a cameo by John Cleese, no doubt?

There must have been something in the printing ink, for on the same day the Sunday Mirror ran an article entitled Time For Dr. Who To Return by Ben Dowell, which stated that Mark Gatiss and the League of Gentlemen were in talks with the BBC to produce the series.

Mark will be playing the Doctor, the scripts have all been written and fellow Gentlemen Mark Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson are all poised to play baddies.

Tubbs and Pauline in the TARDIS, marvellous!

Unfortunately the news has since been debunked by the League website. 'Sadly no foundation in this rumour at all', said the boys' management.

But the mad rumour of the week has to go to the one reported by the Dark Horizons website. Their informant, know only as 'Joe', gave the following 'inside information':

'[I] was given a lecture recently by an Exec from the BBC at my Uni in London. While in full flow on greenlit sci-fi scripts, she said that the next series of Dr Who is happening and has been given the greenlight. She confirmed this after the lecture, when I spoke to her about the development of my own project.'

No comment.

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The Controller of BBC One, Lorraine Heggessey, recently gave her thoughts concerning rumours about a possible return of Doctor Who to television.

The comments come in a reply to a letter from the Doctor Who Appreciation Society controller Ian Wheeler, and are published in the new issue of DWAS' periodical Celestial Toyroom.

"Doctor Who is a classic BBC format, beloved by millions, myself included!," writes Heggessey. "If there was a refreshing, affordable treatment for a new series available and we could navigate ourselves around some potentially troublesome rights' issue, then I would consider reviving the series.

"It's only a wish, there is nothing substantial to back things up so I don't want to raise false hopes with die-hard fans! Suffice to say that Doctor Who has its fans among my commissioning team, most of whom spent the 70s behind the sofa on Saturday evenings too!"

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Both the Radio Times and the BBCi entertainment news site are giving Doctor Who fans the chance to voice their desire to see the Time Lord return.

To celebrate its 80th birthday the Radio Times is asking readers and visitors to their website to tell them what they think of television today.

One of the 30 questions they ask is "Which classic TV show should be revived?" Listed amongst such favourites as Dad's Army and The Prisoner is of course Doctor Who. So, click on the link and make sure it's the winner. As an added incentive, enter and you could win a state-of-the-art widescreen television.

Meanwhile, the BBCi entertainment news site is asking for your suggestions as to how the BBC should revive Saturday night television.

"Why has popular TV become such a challenge? How could the schedulers get you watching on Saturday nights?" the site asks. We think you all know the answer to that one. Click on the link to have your say.

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We're often asked what the rights problems are preventing the BBC from bringing Doctor Who back? There are all sorts of rumours flying around - many of them suggesting that the BBC no longer owns the rights to make the series.

To put your minds at rest, we asked around the BBC Rights Group. After all, they should know. Here is their summary:

  • Rights to the basic property are owned by BBC and BBC Worldwide. Worldwide own the key trademarks internationally.
  • Many of the writers of the original stories retain the rights to various characters they created e.g. Terry Nation owns the Daleks, and Victor Pemberton owns Seaweed.
  • The rights that Universal acquired to make the 1996 TV movie have reverted back to the BBC.
  • Nothing is standing in the way of the BBC making a new TV series, but, as far as we know, there is currently no movement to do so.
  • The BBC is developing a film, but it should be stressed the project is still in its very early stages.

So, the BBC could commission a new Doctor Who series for TV if it wanted to.

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Doctor Who, one of the BBC's best-loved and most enduring characters, is set to return to BBC One, it was confirmed last night by Lorraine Heggessey, Controller of BBC Oone.

Heggessey said that all rights issues regarding Doctor Who have been resolved and that she has green-lit scripts from award-winning writer Russell T Davies.

It is far too early in the day to discuss possible storylines, characters, villains or who might play the Time Lord - it is unlikely anything will be on screen for at least two years.

Doctor Who will be produced by BBC Wales in conjunction with Mal Young, Controller of BBC Continuing Series.

The executive producers will be Mal Young, Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner, Head of Drama BBC Wales.

Russell T Davies's writing credits include Bob and Rose, Queer as Folk, The Second Coming, Touching Evil (with Paul Abbott) and The Grand.

Mal Young says: "Doctor Who is a much-loved, truly iconic piece of television history. It's time to crank up the Tardis and find out what lies in store for The Doctor.

"We're thrilled to have a writer of Russell's calibre to take us on this journey. However, we're at the very first stages of development and further details, including casting, will not be available for some time."

Writer Russell T Davies, who grew up in Swansea and lives in Manchester, says: "I grew up watching Doctor Who, hiding behind the sofa like so many others. Doctor Who is one of the BBC's most exciting and original characters. He's had a good rest and now it's time to bring him back!

"The new series will be fun, exciting, contemporary and scary. Although I'm only in the early stages of development, I'm aiming to write a full-blooded drama which embraces the Doctor Who heritage, at the same time as introducing the character to a modern audience."

No budget has been set for the new series; the number of episodes and their duration is under discussion. It will be a family show, but no details are available as to when it will be scheduled.

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After aeons drifting hopelessly lost in the space/time continuum, Doctor Who is finally coming back to Earth.

In a move that heralds the most eagerly anticipated comeback in television history, BBC1 said yesterday that it is developing a new series of the sci-fi classic.

The BBC hopes that Doctor Who, which ran from 1963 to 1989, with a brief reappearance by an eighth incarnation of the Time Lord in a film in 1996, will once more become a fixture of Saturday early evening viewing.

The announcement should at least halt a long-running campaign by Doctor Who's army of dedicated fans to force the BBC to bring it back.

But in a development that may alarm purists, the new series is being written by Russell T Davies, the creator of Queer As Folk, the controversial Channel 4 drama about gay life in Manchester, and Bob and Rose, an ITV drama about a homosexual man falling for a straight woman.

Although Davies says he wants to "introduce the character to a modern audience", Lorraine Heggessey, the controller of BBC1, insisted yesterday that she did not expect a gay Doctor Who.

She stressed that Davies had been chosen primarily because he is an "absolute Doctor Who fanatic" who had asked to write a new series.

She said it was too early to say which of the doctor's most famous enemies, who include the Cybermen, the Master and the Sea Devils, would return, but insiders said it was unthinkable that the Daleks would not be trundling back into action.

The actor who will follow in the footsteps of such popular Dr Whos as Tom Baker, has not yet been considered, she said. Possible candidates include Richard E Grant, who is appearing in a BBC internet version of Doctor Who, Paul McGann, who starred in the 1996 version, and Alan Davies, who has been linked to the role in the past.

Ms Heggessey said she had wanted to bring back the series for two years but the rights were held by BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, which has been trying to agree a film deal with a Hollywood studio.

"Worldwide has now agreed that, as they haven't made the film and I've been waiting for two years, it's only right that BBC1 should have a crack at making a series," she said.

Davies, who also wrote the critically acclaimed ITV drama Second Coming, will start writing in the New Year. The series is unlikely to be broadcast before 2005.

He said yesterday: "I grew up watching Doctor Who, hiding behind the sofa like so many others. He's had a good rest and now it's time to bring him back.

"The new series will be fun, exciting, contemporary and scary."

Davies will work initially on just one six-part series.

LinkCredit: The Telegraph 
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Original Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert has reacted positively to the announcement of a new TV series.

"I think it's wonderful - I'm really thrilled" said Lambert in an interview with Joey Reynolds, recorded on 29th September for the online audio show American Who.

Asked for any advice for Russell T. Davies, the new series' guiding light, Lambert - Doctor Who's inaugural producer in 1963 - said, "I always felt that you had to play it for real; that camping it up wasn't right. I think that's my advice - I mean, it just has to be believable."

aving commentated on two of her own Doctor Who productions for recent DVD releases, Lambert says "What struck me was that it wasn't talking down, that it was really quite intelligent. I can only speak for the programmes that I made, but the actors always tried to play the truth, and not stand sort of outside and think it was very funny."

Lambert also commented on two rumoured contenders to play the Doctor; Bill Nighy and Alan Davies. "Bill's a fantastically good actor - that would be a really good idea." On Davies, who she has produced as the star of Jonathan Creek, Lambert conceded, "I think Alan would be very good too, but he is younger."

American Who will be broadcasting the interview in time for Doctor Who's 40th anniversary.

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Eddie Izzard would be ideal in the role of the Doctor, says former scarf-wearer Tom Baker.

Tom Baker has been talking about the upcoming TV series reviving the role with which he remains so firmly linked. His main suggestion for an actor to play the Doctor? Transvestite comic Eddie Izzard: "I think Eddie would be good as he's so strange - there is a benevolent alien quality to him", Baker told the Teletext website TV Plus.

Baker added that Page Three girl turned TV presenter Melinda Messenger would be well-qualified as the Time Lord's assistant. "Melinda would be good as she can scream and has bosoms. It doesn't really matter if she can act".

Baker also sounded a note of caution about the series, saying the BBC were "treading very carefully, but they are taking a terrible risk." However, Baker would relish returning to the series - as the Master! "I want to play the villain instead of the goodie," he said.

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The following are links to the media coverage of Tom Baker's suggestion that Eddie Izzard would make a good Doctor:
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Four professional writers, all with careers linked to Doctor Who - Steven Moffat, Terrance Dicks, Nev Fountain and Marc Platt - have been giving Cult their thoughts about the forthcoming TV series.

Find out what they had to say.

One week on from the announcement of the new BBC1 series, we started by asking the panel how they felt about the Doctor's return to TV screens.

Moffat - the writer of BBC2 comedy Coupling, plus Doctor Who spoof The Curse of Fatal Death - said he was "Very happy. Knowing that Russell T. Davies is going to be writing it, I feel very confident that it's going to be great. So no pressure there, then..."

Fountain, one of Dead Ringers' principal writers - whose Big Finish story Omega was recently released - was almost bouncing with excitement. "I'm as happy as the Mr Men's Mr Happy on a sunny day, who's just heard that his best friend is coming to tea - and he's bringing cake", he said. Steady on there, Nev!

Platt, the writer of Ghost Light and our ongoing ebook Lungbarrow, was also delighted. "I’ve had a warm glow for days. It must be my faith in British TV being restored. There’s been a packed field of possible godfathers, but if anyone can pull this off, Russell T. Davies can. A whole vortex full of good luck to him!"

Dicks, the Pertwee-era script editor and prolific writer, was rather cautious in comparison. "Of course I’m pleased to hear it", he said, "but I hear they are only doing six episodes, which is a bit mean. To bring Doctor Who back I think they could gamble on doing a complete season of four and six part serials - but then again, that's what I'm used to", he conceded. "It’s like the Paul McGann TV Movie: when that came out, it was having all your eggs in one basket. I’m rather afraid that if they don’t do enough, they’ll say that it didn’t work."

What would these writers say are the crucial factors in making this new series successful?

"Charm, gags and terror," says Moffat briskly, explaining: "It needs bucket-loads of warmth and wit for the adults, and unbridled terror and bedwetting for the kids. It's got to work on those two levels or it doesn't work at all. If grown-ups are delighted by the monsters and melodrama, while the kids are peeping, white knuckled, over the back of the sofa, then that's it - that's Doctor Who. People know that; they won't be fooled by anything else."

"Go for a charismatic actor" was Dicks' central recommendation. "It doesn't have to be another Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker, but they should go with someone with that incandescent quality."

Platt's shopping-list would be headed by "A cast and production team that understand and even like the programme, but can take risks with it. They should be treating it as drama. That doesn‘t exclude humour - but please, it's not light entertainment."

Fountain suggested something more specific for the new series' starting point. "The Doctor should be played by Chris Eubank or Ozzy Osbourne, to make it easy for us on Dead Ringers when we stop doing Tom Baker," he pleaded. "But to be serious, they should start the story again. Have the Doctor come out of retirement on Earth or something, and give new viewers a jumping off point. An Unearthly Child wasn't the Doctor's first adventure, but it was a 'new chapter' in his life. It was a point where we could begin the story with him."

So what qualities make Doctor Who such a unique TV series?

"For 40 years, the Doctor’s been one of my best friends", says Platt. "He’s a tough old bird. Against all odds - both alien and executive - originality, imagination and a lot of love always win through."

"Having a charismatic hero who dares to be a bit different", said Fountain. "The Doctor isn't stupid, he uses his wits, isn't needlessly violent, and doesn't take himself too seriously. Then the show reflects the character, by being eccentric, urbane, frightening and witty."

Dicks added: "It just had a good mix of ingredients. You got action, adventure and humour. That's a good, strong working formula. The other thing is the flexibility. Keeping Who within its own set of rules, you can do an amazing variety of things. Think of all the different kinds of Westerns, from Shane to The Searchers to Rio Bravo. They're very different, but they're all Westerns."

Are there any pitfalls these writers would warn the BBC against at this stage?

"This is the show that makes adults feel like twelve-year-olds, and huzzah for that", offers Moffat. "So most attempts to put over Doctor Who as a serious adult drama make me wince. Worse, they make me snigger. Adults should enjoy it (as much as, if not more than, the kids) but in the way they enjoy Harry Potter or Star Wars, or big piles of mash with sausages sticking out."

"Don't mess about with the format in an attempt to be trendy, up-to-date or ironic" warned Dicks. "People used to ask me how I would do Doctor Who for the Nineties or the 21st Century, and the answer is that it will be modern simply by the benefit of it being done now. The writers, the actor and the attitudes change over the years. Even Barry Letts and I wouldn't be doing it today like we did in the 1970s. So I think they should just do it straightforwardly - not do it as a send-up or camp. You've got to take it seriously."

Platt has a few caveats: "Don’t pander to overseas sales, firstly. Avoid blandness. Don’t make it how you think Doctor Who should be made. Just don’t be obvious", he pleads.

Fountain cautions: "I hope they don't do the lazy thing and make a 'knowing' series that's full of retro kitsch or speaking just to the fans. Doctor Who is first and foremost a drama; it should compete with the family dramas happening today in terms of production, design, acting and writing, like it did when it was at its most successful."

Rather than asking who should play the Doctor, we wanted to know who they thought should never get their hands on the TARDIS console.

"Any of the more predictable names suggested on Doctor Who boards", says Fountain. "Let's pick an actor for his acting credentials, not because he's been a token brit actor in Star Trek or Buffy, or the son of an old Doctor, or he's played him before in a poor telemovie. Oh, and not Chris Eubank or Ozzy Osbourne - I was joking there!"

"It's almost impossible to say who might be wrong", considers Dicks. "What you would be looking for is an impact. Pertwee wasn't the greatest character actor in the world, bless him, but he did have that star personality. Tom Baker was the same - you couldn't ignore him. That kind of quality could run through many very different actors, so I don't think you could lay down a rule about who couldn't or shouldn't do it."

Platt said it shouldn't be "an actor who wants to be Executive Producer too", while Moffat simply observed, acidly, "Well, two-eighths of the people who've already played him. I'll leave you to guess which".

Finally, Fountain added his hopes that, "Once Mr Davies launches the show he should bring on board some top-notch writers who might never have even seen the series, but who are brilliant in their own fields. Top writers from any genre - drama, comedy, mysteries - who can give us thrilling stories, make damn fine telly and keep the show accessible to the wider audience."

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The Sunday Times reported on 5th October that the BBC is to offer Bill Nighy the role of the Doctor in the forthcoming TV series.

In an interesting development in the huge speculation about who will star in the forthcoming Doctor Who series, Richard Brooks - Sunday Times Arts Editor - states that Nighy is also "said by friends to be very interested in the role." As yet it remains just speculation, but in the interest of our readers...

Nighy, currently one of Britain's better-known character actors, was born in 1949. He entered the much-discussed shortlist over a week ago when name-checked during Clayton Hickman's interview with Radio 4's Today programme. Hickman's claim that Nighy would be a preferred choice of the new series' writer-producer Russell T. Davies is reiterated by the Sunday Times.

Last week, Eddie Izzard was the name being bandied about most as a candidate to pilot the TARDIS, principally because of Tom Baker's assertions. It remains to be seen whether there's any more truth in the talk of Nighy being offered the role than Izzard, Alan Davies, Alan Cumming and so on.

Nighy can currently be seen in UK and US cinemas as the long-dormant vampire leader in the rather splendid horror film Underworld, although it's doubtful that role will have left him with much of a head-start as a prospective Doctor. He also impressed millions of BBC1 viewers in May 2003 as Cameron, 'the editor every journalist wants to work for' in thriller series State of Play (pictured above).

Other Nighy roles range from playing Sam Gamgee in the epic Radio 4 adaptation of Lord of the Rings in 1981, to a role he described as "a genius who is surrounded by beautiful women" in BBC Films' I Capture the Castle this year (co-starring with ex-Buffy squeeze Marc Blucas). He is married to actress Diana Quick, who appears in BBCi's forthcoming webcast Doctor Who drama starring Richard E. Grant.

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Eddie Izzard has given Radio 1 an exclusive interview about those Dr Who rumours.

Andy Gallacher, Newsbeat's New York reporter, asked Eddie about the chances of him taking on the Daleks and travelling in the TARDIS.

"Tom Baker threw my name up which was fantastic, it's a wonderful honour. I hadn't considered it, I didn't even know it was happening, and I don't think the BBC would want me. They'd probably rather spit on me and slap me about with fish. I'm really into doing my films and so 26 weeks is a big commitment and there are other people that are up for it that everyone else wants and I'm slightly more on the edge. I think the BBC would say 'Well we want someone simpler and safer.' I think my breasts are too dangerous."

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Eighteen months is too long to wait...

The new series of Doctor Who is currently slated to return in the Autumn of 2005.

This may sound like an age, but there's an awful lot of work to be done if the show is to be relaunched properly.

Firstly, Russell T Davies needs to write the thing, a process that can't start until January 2004, once he has completed work on other projects.

Following this, casting can begin in earnest. Taking on the role of the Doctor is a big commitment for any actor - Paul McGann took a year to decide after considering the impact it would have on his life and career - so finding someone suitable who actually wants to assume that responsibility could take a while.

Finally, there's the pre-production, filming and post-production itself. From our experiences of trailing the production of such recent cult shows such as Strange, a six-part series could conceivably be completed in a little over four months.

Strange, however, didn't have to recreate any alien worlds or space ships, so expect the new series of Doctor Who to take a little longer.

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The writer and executive producer of the new series of Doctor Who, Russell T Davies, talks about his feelings about landing the best job in telly, the influence of Buffy, and his thoughts on who is the best; Vervoids, Bandrils or robot mummies.

What was your initial reaction when you heard that Doctor Who was coming back... and that you were making it?

I was delighted. To be absolutely honest, I was busy - making Mine All Mine, to be seen on ITV, February 2004 - and I presumed the phone call was about a vague, tentative chat with the BBC. So I ignored it! (You can waste your whole life in TV just chatting about projects, so I refuse chat-meetings.)

It took me a couple of weeks to realise that this wasn't chat, this was real, and mine. I still have a hard time realising I'm doing it. I think of a good, exciting scene, and then there's a ten second delay before I realise that this scene will actually exist!

What's your favourite cliffhanger?

Loads of 'em. Really, episode one of Pyramids of Mars - that's why we used it in Queer As Folk. But I even like episode one of Terror of the Vervoids, that's a magnificent climax.

In the years since the original show finished, how has the way we make television changed?

A lot of telly is fundamentally the same. The same old slow process! It's our understanding that's changed. Contrary to some reports on what I've said, I don't think attention spans are shorter, I think they're better. Audiences understand things - even the subtlest of details - so much faster. We're all experts now.

In the old days, it would take five scenes to establish that a female character is lonely, married, and suicidal. Nowadays, that can be established in a single image. Scripts have to reflect that; the audience is brilliant.

Buffy spawned a host of fantasy shows that appealed to young women as much as men. What else is there to learn from Buffy apart from Strong Female Roles Good?

Good Writing Good. That's the most important thing in that wonderful show. It showed the whole world, and an entire, sprawling industry, that writing monsters and demons and end-of-the-world isn't hack-work, it can challenge the best.

Joss Whedon raised the bar for every writer - not just genre/niche writers, but every single one of us. What a man! I shook his hand once, did you know?

What's the best piece of advice you have been given since taking on Doctor Who?

The same advice I take to every job, from the country's finest writer, Paul Abbott. He always says, 'The only way to work, is to work.' We can all sit and dream and hope and despair, but the only way to solve any problem is to sit there and write. It's not magic.

...And the worst?

Bring back the Bandrils.

Were you really involved in a bid to remake Doctor Who five years ago? And if so - what happened?

It wasn't a bid - what's a bid? Who bids? I've never "bid" in my life. I had one meeting, which just tentative and friendly - this was back in the days when I still did chat-meetings. But it was never that serious, and two weeks later, they discovered that BBC Films were making a version, and we'd have to give them time to develop that. So I waited...

Did you have Doctor Who at the back of your mind when writing Dark Season and Century Falls?

Only in the sense of catching that scary, exciting thrill of watching good, spooky telly. I don't think about Doctor Who all day long! Well, not until now...

What's the daftest thing you've seen written about the new series?

Oh, how long have you got? Just go and read your own message boards. I went there once; never again. Dear God, the loneliness.

Go on - start a rubbish rumour about new Doctor Who...

No chance. The more rubbish the rumour, the more people believe it. I'm just looking forward to the day when we can launch our first trailer of the new series on BBCi...

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This issue [353], Unquiet Dead writer Mark Gatiss talks about the challenges of bringing the Doctor back to television.

"My Doctor Who episode is the most serious thing I've done since my first Doctor Who novel, Nightshade. At second draft stage my episode changed a lot, and the reason was that the first draft was far too grim.

"I can still hear myself saying to Russell [T Davies, executive producer], 'This story's about grief!' Of course it can be about grief or whatever, somewhere in there, but fundamentally it's got to be a good, scary, story."

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Phil Collinson has been announced as the new producer of Doctor Who.

Phil has previously worked as a producer on such series as Born and Bred, Linda Green and the paranormal drama Sea of Souls (currently airing on BBC One).

"I am delighted to be joining the team bringing back such an iconic and exciting series," Phil told DWM. "I'm going to relish terrifying a whole new generation and putting such a well-loved character back on our TV screens where he belongs."

In the issue, Russell T Davies also reveals that plans are going well for the new series. It is still hoped that 13x45 minute episodes will be made, with Russell writing seven episodes at the moment. The other writers will be contracted soon and none of Russell's ideas for the series have been compromised.

Rather interestingly, he adds, "And Rose is only the first of the companions we've got planned."

DWM have also announced that Russell will be writing a regular behind-the-scenes column for the magazine.

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Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are to join the writing team led by Russell T Davies on the new series of Doctor Who, it was announced by Mal Young, BBC Controller of Continuing Drama Series.

"I've never received so many requests from writers and actors to be involved in a drama series, as I have had for Doctor Who.

"It seems everyone wants to be a part of bringing back to BBC ONE such an iconic series," says Mal Young.

"We only wanted to bring back Doctor Who if we could have the best talent around.

"Russell T Davies was always everyone's first choice, but now we're thrilled that Julie Gardner has been able to assemble a truly stellar team of writing talent to support Russell and enable us to keep the high standard of writing required, right across the series."

Julie Gardner, Head of Drama, BBC Wales adds: "Finding writers for the new series of Doctor Who has been one of the best jobs I've ever had. The talent available was exceptional.

"The team, led by Russell, is passionate about bringing the Doctor back to our screens.

"For many months to come we'll all be burning the midnight oil to make the new series the best it can be."

Other writers involved in the project include Paul Cornell and Rob Shearman.

The 13-part series for BBC ONE will begin filming this Spring for transmission in 2005.

Russell T Davies says: "I really believe we've got the best people in the business now working on the best show.

"They'll be writing stories ranging across the whole of time and space.

"The Doctor and Rose [the Doctor's new assistant] already have the best allies on their journey - brilliant writers with brilliant scripts.

"It's an honour to work with these people who are so talented; they shouldn't be allowed to travel together!"

Mark Gatiss is the writer, performer and creator of The League of Gentlemen.

Steven Moffat's credits include the acclaimed BBC TWO comedy series Coupling, winner of the Sitcom of the Year at the British Comedy Awards.

Rob Shearman is the writer of three Big Finish Doctor Who stories and Paul Cornell is the writer of several original Doctor Who novels and two Doctor Who series.

Filming in Cardiff later this year for transmission in 2005, Doctor Who is produced by Phil Collinson.

The executive producers are Mal Young, Julie Gardner and Russell T Davies.

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Acclaimed British actor Christopher Eccleston is to play Doctor Who in the forthcoming 13-part drama series for BBC ONE, it was announced by Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning.

Eccleston, star of Flesh & Blood and The Second Coming, will take Doctor Who into the 21st century travelling through time and space, fighting monsters on all fronts, in a fresh and modern approach to the popular science fiction series.

He said: "I am absolutely delighted to be playing Doctor Who.

"I am looking forward to joining forces again with the incredible writer Russell T Davies and taking both loyal viewers and a new generation on a journey through time and space which way is the Tardis? I can't wait to get started!"

Jane Tranter says: "We are delighted to have cast an actor of such calibre in one of British television's most iconic roles.

"It signals our intention to take Doctor Who into the 21st century, as well as retaining its core traditional values - to be surprising, edgy and eccentric.

"We have chosen one of Britain's finest actors to play what, in effect, will be an overtly modern hero."

Executive producer/writer Russell T Davies adds: "We considered many great actors for this wonderful part, but Christopher was our first choice.

"This man can give the Doctor a wisdom, wit and emotional range as far-reaching as the Doctor's travels in time and space.

"His casting raises the bar for all of us. It's going to be a magnificent, epic, entertaining journey, and I can't wait to start!"

Filming in Cardiff later this year for transmission in 2005, Doctor Who is produced by Phil Collinson.

The writers are Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Paul Cornell and Robert Shearman.

Executive producers are BBC Controller of Continuing Drama Series, Mal Young; Head of Drama, BBC Wales, Julie Gardner and Russell T Davies.

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With the BBC under such intense scrutiny in the charter review period, it is not surprising the shadow culture secretary Julie Kirkbride has her finger on the broadcasting pulse.

Of all the heavyweight issues surrounding the appointment of the new BBC chairman, the Tory and Liberal Democrat shadow media secretaries believe they have pinpointed the one at the heart of the debate - and it concerns not the governors and digital switch over but Gallifrey and the Daleks.

According to a letter they sent today to Michael Grade, one of the favourites for the job of BBC chairman, the key issue facing the corporation is not the future of the licence fee or public service broadcasting but the impending return of Dr Who.

Conservative media spokeswoman Julie Kirkbride and her Liberal Democrat counterpart, Don Foster, have joined forces with four other MPs in an appeal to Mr Grade, who cancelled the science fiction series during his last stint at the BBC, to keep his hands off the Tardis.

The MPs are concerned that were Mr Grade to get the job "the project would be derailed - potentially wasting significant sums of licence payers' money".

"Are you therefore prepared to agree, should you be appointed to the post, you would not interfere in any way with decisions about Dr Who?" they ask.

The letter, also signed by Conservative MPs Eric Pickles and Tim Collins, Labour MP Stephen Pound and Liberal Democrat Bob Russell, hints that there are legions of closet Dr Who fans in the Commons.

The programme's impending return was, according to the letter, celebrated with a reception last autumn at the House of Commons.

The former Channel 4 chief executive is the public enemy number one of legions of Dr Who obsessives after he was responsible for cancelling the show in the mid-1980s when director of television at the BBC.

He has made his dislike of the cult time travelling series plain ever since. On ITV's This Morning he said: "I hated it, I thought it was awful", and appearing on Paul Merton's Room 101 he consigned the show to oblivion, telling of his horror at being chased around by angry Dr Who fans ever since.

The new series of Dr Who, 15 years after it was first axed, was announced last year by the BBC1 controller, Lorraine Heggessey. Scripts are being written by Queer as Folk creator Russell T Davies, Coupling writer Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, one of the team behind League of Gentlemen.

Christopher Eccleston, the star of the Second Coming and Flesh and Blood, was named last week as the ninth incarnation of the doctor.

Ms Kirkbride has endured a shaky start to her spell as shadow culture secretary, failing to turn up to a number of important conferences. And this latest PR stunt is likely to do her little good - the BBC chairman will have no say when it comes to commissioning and scheduling.

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Billie Piper is confirmed to play Rose Tyler, companion to Doctor Who, it was announced today by Julie Gardner, Head of Drama, BBC Wales.

The former singer who made her acting debut last year in the critically-acclaimed BBC ONE drama serial Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale, will star alongside Christopher Eccleston in the forthcoming 13-part drama series which returns to BBC ONE early next year.

Julie Gardner says: "Billie is beautiful, funny and intelligent. We needed to find a unique, dynamic partner for Christopher Eccleston, and Billie fits the bill perfectly.

"She will make an extraordinary Rose Tyler. Doctor Who has his new assistant!"

Piper, who also received critical-acclaim for her role in Bella and the Boys, a one-off drama for BBC TWO, is currently starring opposite Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom in The Calcium Kid.

"Doctor Who is an iconic show and I am absolutely thrilled to be playing the part of Rose Tyler," says Billie Piper.

"I am also looking forward to working with Christopher Eccleston and writer Russell T Davies."

Executive producer/writer, Russell T Davies, adds: "The Doctor's companion is one of the most important and cherished roles in the history of TV drama.

"I'm delighted that someone of Billie's talent is coming on board the Tardis, to travel through time and space."

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We caught up with Executive Producer Russell T Davies just before the news officially broke. This is what he had to tell us about casting Billie:

"It was a long, thorough search to find Billie - despite the fact that the tabloids have been touting her name for months now! We auditioned all sorts of actors - some famous, some unknown - but we've now met with Billie three times, and she's absolutely perfect, and very close to the description of Rose on the page - I think Billie's 21, and Rose is 19, so that's a great fit!

"I don't want to give away too much about Rose, cos I want the viewers to discover it all as new, on screen, in 2005. We should all start this adventure together! But suffice to say, I think the companion is as pivotal to these adventures as the Doctor himself - Rose can be our eyes, discovering spaceships and alien creatures with awe and wonder, and a vital sense of humour. When I was a kid, I always imagined becoming the companion. Now, at last, I'm close, cos I get to write her!

"And it won't be an easy ride for Rose. As well as the wonders of time and space, she discovers the horrors - and some of them are on her own doorstep! Over the course of 13 episodes, Rose will change and grow, and hopefully, we can keep that story going in the years to come."

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The Scotsman newspaper caught up with new series writer Steven Moffat.

The former Paisley schoolteacher and Coupling writer told The Scotsman that he has one of the most sought after jobs in television. It's also one of the toughest:

"TV doesn't bother trying to target entire families any more," he said. "If 10-year-olds aren't talking about the show in the playground on Monday morning then we'll have failed."

Moffat also said there would be hint of sexiness, but that it was doubtful whether there would be any hanky-panky in the TARDIS:

"The show is still about saving the universe. You can't be thinking about lovey-dovey stuff when there's that level of jeopardy involved."

Moffat revealed he watched the show right until the end, with its humour cited as the reason he kept watching. "One of the reasons Doctor Who survived for so long, and a rival like Blake 7 was so risible, is that it was funny," says Moffat. "The Doctor was in on the joke, he knew the show was cheaply made and that some of the storylines were nonsensical."

But will it stand up in 2005? Moffat is not worried:

"I don't think the fact we're in the post-Star Wars era is an issue - matching Buffy is. Doctor Who was never a space opera anyway, it was about horror: dark shadows and creepy monsters lurking just around the corner."

The interview ends with Moffat offering a sneak preview of his script. It will contain the dialogue "Doctor, no!" - Gosh.

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Christopher Eccleston's Doctor will face a new, deadly foe in the new series, after talks between Terry Nation's estate and the BBC over the rights to the Daleks broke down earlier this week.

The BBC said, "After lengthy negotiations, the BBC and the Terry Nation Estate have been unable to reach agreement on terms for the use of the Daleks in the new series of Doctor Who. These rights are jointly held, and the terms need to be mutually agreed between us.

"The BBC offered the very best deal possible but ultimately we were not able to give the level of editorial influence that the Terry Nation Estate wished to have."

Speaking about the loss, executive producer and chief writer Russell T Davis said, "We're disappointed the Daleks won't be included but we have a number of new and exciting monsters.

"And I can confirm we have created a new enemy for the Doctor which will keep viewers on the edge of their seats."

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Forget the days of egg box space ships and tin foil monsters - it's been announced that acclaimed visual effects house MillTv will provide Doctor Who's state-of-the-art visual effects.

Based in, London, the award-winning team has spent the last 13 years creating high-end visual effects for commercials, music promos and television. This includes K-19: The Widow Maker, the BBC's recent D-Day coverage and Sea of Souls. They've also produced videos for teen sensation Busted, and Kylie's latest promo, Chocolate.

"It's a privilege - and a responsibility to be asked to work on such an iconic project," notes Dave Throssell, head of MillTv. "It will be a tough job because it will demand feature film effects on a TV schedule.

"Effects that were seen as ground-breaking when Doctor Who first aired obviously won't cut it with today's audience," he adds. "But thanks to a pedigree that includes the Oscar-winning effects produced by The Mill for Ridley Scott's Gladiator, we have a proven track record of creating seminal effects and graphics. MillTv is more than capable of delivering the high-standards necessary to update Doctor Who."

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We can now confirm recent press reports that Noel Clark will star opposite Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. He will play Mickey, Rose's boyfriend.

Noel's most famous role to date is playing Wyman in the last two series of the BBC One comedy drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.

Other television work includes Metrosexuality and Judge John Deed.

Noel won the 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Most Promising Newcomer of 2002 for his performance in Where Do We Live at the Royal Court Theatre.

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Doctor Who's executive producer and chief writer has been explaining Christopher Eccleston's leather look in the latest issue of the mag.

"There was no big grandstand moment where we all decided to 'jettison the Edwardian' - the whole process is a lot more reasoned than that," he revealed. It's not a policy, it's a gradual process of elimination. For starters, I was never in favour of an Edwardian look. To be honest, wearing a frock coat now makes you look like John Leslie at the National Television Awards."

Russell went on to share his joy at working on the new series; "Phil Collinson and I were wondering the other day how we could ever go back to a normal show after this. What, film two people just walking down the street? It is a joy, to be honest. There's one scene with Penelope Wilton which just sums up everything I have ever wanted to do in television, ever. And I swear to God, it is still exciting - for all of us - to walk on set and see the TARDIS standing there. Weird. But good weird."

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Russell T Davies has revealed to SFX Magazine his best moment of working on the series so far:

"It was when I saw the TARDIS interior," revealed Russell. "I was lucky, cause I'd been trapped at home, writing episode seven, and only saw it in studio half-built. So my first sight of it was fully lit, on a glorious wide shot, on the rushes. The second best day of my whole working life."

Russell goes on to talk about the on/off/on situation regarding the Daleks, and how it affected the scripting process:

"We had the script written and ready to go, and then the bad news came, that we couldn't forge a deal... So a rewrite was commissioned - same story, new monster. There was no need to think of a completely new story, cause the original idea's so good, Dalek or no Dalek.

"The script was rewritten - and it was great, we were all really happy with it. It was only a first draft, and still smacked slightly of 'this creature used to be a Dalek'. It would make a good book one day, I suppose, that little bit of Who history. Certainly a good article - there's even some artwork to back it up! But then again, I might still use the New Enemy one day, so that embargoes the material for a few years."

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The new logo was created by the BBC Wales Graphic Design team, with Insect Design working on the background.

You'll be seeing it in action on screen, online, and in print next year.

A trademark application for the new logo has been applied for.

Doctor Who © & logo TM BBC 2004.

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When Doctor Who returns to TV, each episode will be followed by a behind-the-scenes show - Doctor Who Confidential.

We caught up with Mark Cossey, Executive Producer of the BBC Three project, to find out what we can expect:

What's the show in a nutshell? Is it more EastEnders Revealed than the Strictly Come Dancing BBC Three show?

Confidential is its own beast; it will be more observational than the others, more of a documentary but with an entertainment edge. Like Doctor Who, we just want to tell a good story and give the audience an insight into the legend that is Doctor Who.

Each show answers a question posed by an episode. Can you give us an example of how this works?

The series is more about following the Doctor Who production searching for its own answers – i.e. "How do we make realistic monsters for the 21st century? How do we update the Doctor to make him relevant to today's audience?" There are so many challenges that the new series has to overcome – we want to show the human side of this.

How open is the access you've got?

Pretty open. Russell, Julie and Mal are very supportive and our team is pretty experienced at being invisible on set. The crew, cast and the production team are all so passionate about this project, but also incredibly approachable and open about it.

How are you using the original series in the show?

It will be there, but more as a setup for the new series, a reference point to show why the Doctor is so important and why he is back. However, I think the old series has been well documented and we do want concentrate on the new.

What's the most interesting thing you've learned while making the shows so far?

I've learnt a lot more about Doctor Who (and I thought I knew a bit before), and a lot more about the people who know a lot about Doctor Who. It's also fascinating learning about the special effects, which we don't usually see at this level in a UK TV production.

Oh, and Rolf Harris is Welsh.

At over six hours, this will be the longest documentary ever made about Doctor Who. Will it be released on DVD?

I don't know. These things are always very complicated. Obviously I'd be more than happy to see it on DVD - I could send one to my Dad.

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The latest issue of SFX magazine contains a statement from Doctor Who Producer Phil Collinson that will have fans everywhere - and The Sun - breathing a sigh of relief.

"I can confirm that the Daleks WILL say exterminate - it would be madness to stop that happening," he says in the magazine. "But other than that, we do see this episode as very, very important, for both old and new viewers..."

"It would be a shame to give away too much. But I can tell you that the Daleks will be doing things they've never done on screen before... If ever you've laughed at them, prepare to have the smile frozen on your face..."

He also talks about the possibility of the new series having pre-title "teaser" sequences.

"All the early episodes have got the potential to do this, in the edit, and we're starting to like it so much that we're actually writing them in to later episodes," he says.

But nothing's set in stone yet. "If we sit in the edit and don't like them," he continues, "we can change our minds at the last minute."

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Acclaimed actor Christopher Eccleston plays Doctor Who in a new series for BBC ONE next year.

Billie Piper, who made her acting debut in the critically acclaimed Canterbury Tales - The Miller's Tale, stars alongside Eccleston as the Doctor's companion, Rose Tyler.

Travelling through time and space, the Doctor and Rose come face to face with a number of new and exciting monsters - as well as battling with the Doctor's arch-enemy, the Daleks.

The series, which promises to surprise and entertain a new generation, also features Penelope Wilton, Noel Clarke, Annette Badland, Camille Coduri and John Barrowman, Bruno Langley and celebrated theatre, film and television actor Simon Callow.

Filming in Cardiff until 2005 for transmission on BBC ONE, Doctor Who is written by Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Paul Cornell and Robert Shearman.

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In issue 351 of DWM Russell writes:

"The Daleks have got everyone excited. The most hardened don't-care-for-sci-fi crew member is texting, and emailing, and buzzing with the fun of it. Because Daleks are wonderful and universal, and they will not die, and the man who created them was born in this very city.

"Funny to think that after all these decades, Doctor Who and the Daleks have followed Terry Nation home..."

Also, there's the latest from the Doctor Who production team. Find out who the latest guest stars are, and who the next two directors will be. Plus, there's an interview with make-up artist Davy Jones.

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This issue, Unquiet Dead writer Mark Gatiss talks about the challenges of bringing the Doctor back to television.

"My Doctor Who episode is the most serious thing I've done since my first Doctor Who novel, Nightshade. At second draft stage my episode changed a lot, and the reason was that the first draft was far too grim.

"I can still hear myself saying to Russell [T Davies, executive producer], 'This story's about grief!' Of course it can be about grief or whatever, somewhere in there, but fundamentally it's got to be a good, scary, story."

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SFX has confirmed that Gold, famous for his work on such dramas as The Second Coming and Shameless, has produced a new arrangement that updates Delia Derbyshire and Ron Grainer's original.

"It's brilliant, absolutely brilliant," Russell Davies told SFX. "I would say that, but I loved it! It was hard, because to be honest, I'd not liked any version of the theme tune since the Ron Grainer original and so we'd been waiting for Murray to do it.

"He'd been so busy scoring a million things and he'd been researching Delia Derbyshire and Ron Grainer and he went off into a little world of his own, sampling stuff and things like that. The thinking was, if we don't like what he does, we'll just put the original on."

"I thought the original theme would be perfect though, but the version Murray's done is so faithful."

Davies also confirmed that the classic Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker "cliffhanger screech" will return:

"It's a bit deeper because Murray's added things in, but it's exactly the same noise because you can't fake that."

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Even though the doctor is a timelord, moving back and forth through the universe, he's yet to make an appearance in the 21st Century - at least not on our television screens.

Fans of BBC One's Doctor Who have waited patiently for the Tardis to return.

Christopher Eccleston makes his debut as the ninth doctor when the new series starts on Easter Saturday - March 26th.

No doctor would be able to function without an assistant.

And Eccleston, who nominated himself for the part, will appear with Billie Piper, former pop singer turned actress.

Christopher Eccleston spoke to our Arts Correspondent, David Sillito.

He said that he hoped it would be programme that the family would watch together and that he was particularly aiming to capture the attention of 8 - 12 year olds.

He said that the sexism had been jettisoned and revealed that the cybermen are also not making a comeback. But he promised a new array of villains to add to those we already know.

What has been kept is the central message of Dr Who, which according to Eccleston is to love life.

He's promising high production values - and an end to wobbly sets.

Billie feels that the new Doctor Who is contemporary - both in terms of special effects, sets, storylines and the relationship between her character and the doctor.

Billie said their relationship has a very interesting dynamic and that sometimes he was a father figure to her character, who doesn't have a father.

She also feels that one of the biggest differences in the series is that its a lot more domestic: it touches on relationships and families in a way that previous series have not.

Friday's Breakfast spoke to author Russell T Davies, who's written the latest series of Doctor Who. The author - whose credits include Queer As Folk for Channel Four - has also written the series Casanova, which starts this week on BBC Two.

Christopher Eccleston becomes the ninth doctor since Dr Who was first seen in 1963.

He follows Paul McGann - the eighth doctor - in the television only movie in 1996.

The last doctor to be seen on BBC One before the programme was axed in 1989 was Sylvester McCoy who occupied space, time and the Tardis from 1986.

Fans will have to wait until the end of this month to see the new series - we're awaiting confirmation of the date of the first episode.

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Acclaimed actor Christopher Eccleston plays Doctor Who in a new 13-part series for BBC ONE transmitting on Saturday 26 March 2005.

Billie Piper, who made her acting debut in the critically-acclaimed Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale, stars alongside Eccleston as the Doctor's companion, Rose Tyler.

Travelling through time and space, the Doctor and Rose come face to face with a number of new and exciting monsters - as well as battling with the Doctor's arch-enemy: the Daleks!

The series, which promises to surprise and entertain a new generation, also features Penelope Wilton, Noel Clarke, Annette Badland, Camille Coduri and John Barrowman, Richard Wilson, Simon Pegg, Zoe Wanamaker and acclaimed theatre, film and television actor Simon Callow.

Lorraine Heggessey, Controller of BBC ONE, says: "There is no secret about the fact that I desperately wanted to bring Doctor Who back to its rightfully place on BBC ONE.

"Russell T Davies and the writing team have done an incredible job."

Russell T Davies says: "The new series will be fun, exciting, contemporary and scary – a full-blooded drama which embraces the Doctor Who heritage as well as introducing the character to a modern audience.

"Christopher Eccleston's Doctor is wise, funny and brave; an adventurer who travels through time and space.

"His detached logic gives him a vital edge when the world is in danger, but when it comes to relationships, he can be found wanting. That's why he needs Rose (played by Billie Piper).

"Rose is a shop-girl from the present day. From the moment they meet, the Doctor and Rose are soul mates. They understand and complement each other.

"As they travel through history and across the universe, the Doctor shows Rose things beyond her imagination. She starts out as an innocent, fettered by earthly concerns.

"But she ends up an adventurer who, by the end of the series, can never go home again.

"Wherever they go, whoever they meet, every story will come back to Earth. For all the danger and tension this is a fundamentally optimistic series.

"The human race will survive – but only with the Doctor's help. Prepare for brand-new adventures in the human race..."

A BBC Wales Production for BBC ONE, Doctor Who is written by Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Paul Cornell and Robert Shearman.

The executive producers are Russell T Davies, BBC Wales' Head of Drama Julie Gardner and Mal Young.

In March there will be a 13-part companion series for BBC THREE, entitled Doctor Who Confidential, presented by Simon Pegg, which takes a look behind-the-scenes of the new Doctor Who series.

On Radio 2, Project Who? (22 and 29 March, 8.30pm), features interviews with the cast and crew.

bbc.co.uk/doctorwho contains further details about the new series plus background information about the classic series.

Website content includes:

Over two hours of specially shot on-set videos (even the Daleks have sent in a video diary).

Doctor Who Confidential: The entire BBC THREE "making of" show available on-demand (13 x 30 minute episodes). This is the first time a non-news TV show has been streamed on-demand.

The Doctor Who Years: 3 x 30 minute specially edited video compilations, mixing classic tunes and Doctor Who clips in a nostalgia tour of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties.

Conquer! -the BBC's first multiplayer online role-playing game.

Hidden sites - enter the world of the programme through a series of hidden sites referenced in the TV show. Can you find the Doctor?

Classic clips - more than 250 classic clips from the original series (everything from Tom Baker to the first appearance of the Daleks).

Downloads - the site offers MP3 downloads of sounds, and mobile wallpaper (Trust us - there will be no escape from a phone that sounds like a Dalek death ray).

Exclusive trailers - in the countdown to transmission the site is offering exclusive trailers.

Plus hidden corners, surprises, hundreds of candid behind-the-scenes photographs and more.

Finally, to mark the launch on BBC ONE of the new Doctor Who series, BBC TWO celebrates one of British television's much-loved and truly iconic series in a special night of programmes on Saturday 19 March.

In a one-off Mastermind Doctor Who Special, four Doctor Who aficionados will be put through their paces by Mastermind host, John Humphrys to find out who will be crowned the UK's top Doctor Who fan.

The prize will be presented by the new Doctor, Christopher Eccleston.

So Some Things You Need To Know About Doctor Who will be packed full of Doctor Who trivia, plus there is another chance to see The Story of Doctor Who - a nostalgic archive documentary about the longest running TV drama series.

Persistence paid off for Russell T Davies when, after refusing to work on anything for the BBC unless it was the return of Doctor Who, his wish finally came true.

A new 13-part series of the legendary Doctor's adventures travelling through time and space was given the go ahead in late 2003, with Russell on board as lead writer and co-executive producer along with the then newly-appointed Head of Drama for BBC Wales, Julie Gardner.

One of British TV's foremost writing talents, Russell is also a life-long Doctor Who fan but admits he paused before committing himself to restoring the Doctor to prime-time on BBC ONE some 15 years after the last series.

"I actually spent three days thinking very seriously about it," he admits.

"I love Doctor Who, and part of me thought 'If you love something maybe you should leave it alone'.

"But it was three days of nonsense really, and my friends were slapping me round the head and saying 'Don't be stupid, of course you've got to do it!'."

Julie had previously worked with Russell at ITV, so when she was asked if she would like Doctor Who to be the first project she oversaw for BBC Wales, she said 'yes' and rang him straight away.

"He didn't say yes immediately," Julie confirms, "but it was so obviously the right fit for everyone that Russell was soon working on the scripts and we were in pre-production."

Russell's writing credits include award-winners such as Queer as Folk, Bob and Rose and The Second Coming - the latter starring the man who would become the new Doctor, Christopher Eccleston.

But long before Christopher was cast, along with actress Bille Piper as the Doctor's latest travelling companion, Rose, Russell knew where the new series was going.

"The key word is fun," he says. "It's funny, scary, fast-moving, adventurous but above all the new Doctor Who is fun.

"I watch a lot of other science-fiction shows and they tend to be very pious, sombre, dark, even angst-ridden, and that would just die a death on a Saturday evening.

"People want to be entertained at that time, so Doctor Who is fun, fast-paced and takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride."

Julie points to the dizzying possibilities for storytelling that Doctor Who creates as another key attraction.

"There's no story that can't be told," she declares.

"It can go anywhere in time and space, and the main characters are an alien and a human, with all the confusion that brings. I can absolutely see why that draws people in.

"But without the quality of the scripts by Russell and our other writers - Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, Robert Shearman and Paul Cornell - we couldn't hope to attract the likes of Simon Callow, Richard Wilson, Penelope Wilton and Simon Pegg as guest artists."

Russell still sounds surprised when he recalls how Christopher contacted him to say he was keen to be considered for the title role.

"I didn't think Christopher would be interested," he admits.

"But it's no secret that he has a very serious screen image, and I think playing the Doctor is a way of showing a different side of himself.

"There's a lot of fun and humour in his portrayal, but of course when the Doctor is angry or passionate we get that other side of Christopher, which has helped make him one of Britain's finest actors."

Christopher's leather jacket-wearing Doctor, played in his own Manchester accent, is more down-to-earth than some of his more flamboyant predecessors - "stripped down", as Russell describes him.

"The first couple of episodes were written before Christopher was cast," he says.

"But, by happy accident, my template for the character fitted him perfectly and he's also added as we've gone along."

Julie adds: "Christopher has often played very intense, dramatic, even tragic roles but the Doctor gives him the chance to still be very intense but also frivolous as well.

"He plays the part with enormous pace and energy, and there's plenty of banter between him and Rose."

Julie says once Billie auditioned to become the Doctor's new companion, it was simply no contest.

"From the moment she walked through the door, we loved her because there's something very real about her. She's got glamour, she's very beautiful and she has a spirit about her which really comes through in Rose," says Julie.

"She was absolutely perfect for the part, and she and Christopher work so well together - I think there's a real chemistry between them."

Russell believes the other key element of chemistry in the new Doctor Who lies in the relationship between its past, which has inspired loyalty and devotion in its fans for over 40 years, and the boundless potential of its present.

"The main difference between the old and the new Doctor Who is quite simply that this is a version made for 2005," he says.

"It's faithful to the old series, but at the same time it's a brand new show aimed at a new audience."

Just as the Doctor has done so many times down the years, Christopher Eccleston embarked on a journey into the unknown when he heard a new series of Doctor Who adventures was being planned.

First, he emailed co-executive producer and lead writer Russell T Davies to let him know he was interested in playing the Time Lord's ninth incarnation.

One of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, Christopher (41) accepts that saying 'yes' to reviving the Doctor was a bold move.

"If you wanted to be cynical about it, a lot of the work I've done has been comfort food for liberals," he says with a smile, referring to benchmark TV dramas such as Our Friends In The North and Hillsborough.

"What's dawned on me about Doctor Who is that I'm trying to entertain a different audience. It's exciting and funny and scary and it's aimed at families, so I'm kind of acting for children and I feel very lucky to be able to do that.

"For all the danger the Doctor encounters, the basic message of the show is seize life, be optimistic and see the positives.

"The series is written with passion and humour, and there's an innocence about it. It's a kind of celebration of life in all its forms.

"In everything the Doctor does he saying 'it's great to be alive'. I can hear people sneering at that, but that's what he believes and it's a nice thing to say to kids, or anybody for that matter."

Fittingly for a classic TV series being reinvented for the 21st century, Christopher had no preconceptions about Doctor Who, having rarely watched it as a child.

"I've got some memories of it, but I was always out playing," he says. "So I didn't have to think about what had gone before.

"I've just always tried to do the very best television I possibly could, and I knew that, having worked with Russell before, this series had a good chance of being great television."

When Christopher signed up to play the Doctor, Russell had already written the first two scripts, giving his leading man a character template to work on.

"He is Russell's Doctor and I've responded to the character that he's written," says Christopher. "But I have a sense that, as we went along, Russell started to look at what I was doing and began to write for me. I think I've done certain things with the character which he's liked, and he's used that."

Gone is the sartorial flamboyance of the previous Doctors, as is the slight air of theatricality which seemed to suit their outfits, and in their place is a more pared-down, more 'alien' adventurer - with a northern accent.

"The accent is an interesting thing," says Manchester-born Christopher, whose movie credits include Shallow Grave, Elizabeth and 28 Days Later.

"The Doctor is a scientist and an intellectual, and a lot of people seem to think you can only be those things if you speak with received pronunciation which, of course, is rubbish.

"In terms of what he wears (mostly black but with a succession of coloured tops), I didn't want the costume to be my performance, I wanted any flamboyance and colour to come out of my acting.

"I think it's quite a big performance already, so I think if I was wearing a 'big' costume as well I'd need a circus tent!

"There's also the challenge for me of the comic element to the Doctor's character. I hadn't done a great deal of comedy before and I wanted to try that."

But the bottom line for Christopher is that the Doctor is someone who lives for the here and now.

"He doesn't like to think about his past - there's some pain there - and his only concern about the future is that he makes sure it's there.

"He kind of eats life. He's not on a mission, he hasn't got an agenda, he's just there. Things just happen, he responds to them and does what he thinks is right."

Teaming up with Rose brings him into contact with her family, bringing out another element of the Doctor's personality.

"He doesn't do 'domestic'," Christopher smiles. "There's a line about it in one episode. He doesn't really like domestic set-ups or being answerable to other people. The ninth Doctor seems to have a problem with commitment!"

But for all his insights into the new Doctor's personality, the man playing him admits he's still trying to work a lot of it out himself.

"I find it quite hard to talk about the series because it's such a massive project and we're working so hard on it that I've not had a moment to collect my thoughts," says Christopher.

"To be honest with you, I've actually found myself behaving like the Doctor - I walk into a scene, the scene unfolds, I react to it, they film it and I move on.

"I'm not talking about 'immersing' myself in it, or any 'method' stuff - it's just such a fast-paced show and production that you have to get on with it!

"Everything you need to know about Doctor Who is all there on the screen. More than anything else I've worked on, this show does exactly what it says on the tin."

Christopher adds: "When I agreed to play the Doctor, I was reacting with my heart to what I feel Russell has tried to do with all his work, which is deliver television that is entertaining and has substance.

"If we've got it right, I think Doctor Who will be both of those things.

Landing the part of Rose Tyler, the latest in a long line of time-travelling companions for the Doctor, meant more to Billie Piper than anything in her career to date - including seeing her debut single top the charts.

"When that happened, I was in the midst of this mad pop frenzy and I didn't really have time to enjoy the moment," recalls the pop star-turned-actress or actress-turned-pop star-turned-actress, as she would prefer.

"It's only on reflection that I can think how great it was, but at the time I couldn't feel it. It all happened very quickly - I was only 15 and completely numb to that success, which is a shame.

"But the thing about acting is you have to be living the moment all the time, so you can enjoy it all the time. I'm just happy to be feeling it this time round."

Still only 22, Billie has packed a lot into her life, including pop stardom and marriage to media mogul Chris Evans, but she now feels she is finally doing what she was born to do - act.

"As a child, I always wanted to be an actor and I studied drama and did workshops when I was growing up in Swindon," she says.

"I didn't just want it to be my hobby, I wanted it to be my life and to throw myself into it completely, so I got a scholarship with the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London.

"It was always my mission to be an actor - I just got sidetracked somewhere along the line!"

Billie was asked to do a demo-tape for a new record label keen to find a new young female solo artist and, as she recalls, "it just snowballed from there".

"I did it because I love music," she says. "I was never really that confident as a singer but I saw it as a stepping stone and hoped that it would open doors for me in the future as an actress.

"I know there have been times when the whole pop thing has gone against me in terms of getting roles, but I also knew I would just have to apply myself."

To that end, Billie went to Los Angeles to re-start her acting studies in relative anonymity, then came home and began auditioning.

"The main reason I got parts was because I always considered myself to be an actress and it was only news to everybody else. So I think it was my passion and conviction that got me my first couple of jobs," she says.

A role in the BBC's contemporary version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in 2003, opposite TV heavyweights James Nesbitt and Dennis Waterman, made people sit up and take note of Billie's talent.

And when it came to trying to land the part of Rose in Doctor Who, she had an ace up her sleeve.

"I had a first audition and was then called back to read opposite Christopher (Eccleston) so the producers could check out the chemistry between us.

"That was really quite scary, but I'd met Christopher before because we were going to be partnered up to do another TV drama.

"Nothing ever came of that project, but at least we'd been out for a drink before and enjoyed each other's company, so that definitely helped."

Billie sees Rose as more of an equal to the Doctor than his previous companions.

"The new series keeps the essence of the old Doctor Who, but one of the ways it has updated it is in the relationship between the Doctor and Rose.

"I think they're on a par with one another, more like partners, and the audience sees everything through Rose's eyes," explains Billie.

"She's human, the Doctor's an alien, and she's experiencing all these alien situations throughout the series. At times, the whole thing is slightly overwhelming for her, but she can cope with it and match the Doctor.

"He is constantly challenging her, trying to broaden her horizons, and she's trying to show him how to be more in touch with human emotions.

"The series is a great balance between science fiction, which can be a bit detached, and real, genuine emotions. I don't think I would have done it if it was strictly sci-fi, as much as I've enjoyed being chased by monsters!

"I get my biggest buzz from working opposite Christopher when Rose and the Doctor are having 'domestic' kind of conversations. But the creativity of the plots and their characters, the sets and the whole look of the series is amazing."

Billie admits that she sees a younger version of herself in Rose, especially the way she relies on her instincts and intuition.

"She's only 19, and when you're that age you don't tend to analyse things as much, you tend not to think so much about the consequences of your actions.

"That's what I like about Rose - everything about the Doctor's world is so brand new to her, and she's relying on her instincts all the time and I love that."

Billie adds: "If Rose had been older she might not have gone off in the first place with this strange man who calls himself the Doctor and abandoned the life she knows.

"But when we first see her she's so bored and looking for excitement. She feels trapped and doesn't want the kind of mundane life she's living. But then she meets this guy who totally shakes up her world."

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In issue 355 of the magazine Bryan Hitch the concept designer, tells us how the new-look TARDIS was created.

"What we eventually eureka!-ed was that the TARDIS was the Doctor's VW camper van - old and a bit hippy-ish, somewhere to sleep," he says.

"It needed to feel as if it had been repaired on the road for 900 years with whatever technology a particular time period had to offer, and that the Doctor had rigged it to work for one pilot, rather than the three that we thought a six-sided console would need. All of these factors needed to be taken into account when designing the feel of the set. Also, it's the control room, not the living room, so armchairs were out!"

Also this month, the Ninth Doctor and Rose make their DWM comic strip début this month, in the first part of a brand-new full-colour adventure, The Love Invasion written by Gareth Roberts, with artwork by Mike Collins.

Actor Simon Callow talks about his guest role as Charles Dickens in The Unquiet Dead; DWM goes behind-the-scenes on Episode 1, Rose, to find out what it takes to bring an episode of Doctor Who to the screen; and there are some tantalising previews of the next four episodes coming soon on Saturday nights - The End of the World, The Unquiet Dead, Aliens of London and World War Three!

There's also an in-depth review of the first episode; more from executive producer Russell T Davies in his Production Notes column; the latest casting news, and a special report from the Doctor Who press launch in Cardiff.

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There were many reasons why Oscar-winning London-based effects house The Mill came on board the new series of Doctor Who, but one in particular stands out for Chief Executive Robin Shenfield.

"Visual effects can be the tail that wags the dog," he says.

"But with Doctor Who the storytelling was so good we knew it was something we really wanted to do.

"It's soul-destroying to do great effects work on a project lacking in other areas because when it gets panned, it feels like your work is being panned, too.

"Whether we take something on really depends on the quality of the scripts and the team that's working on it."

Then there's the attraction of working on what visual effects editor Dave Houghton refers to as "the biggest digital effects in British TV drama to date".

To illustrate the point, The Mill won their Academy Award for their work on Gladiator which included 100 visual effects shots produced over seven months.

The team working on Doctor Who are producing around 100 per episode each month.

"The range of effects we're using is quite extraordinary," says Robin.

"Everything we do that's cutting edge is in this production."

Recruiting additional talent to work on the show proved not to be a problem once The Mill signed up for the series.

"Visual effects is a very specialist business and if a project is a stinker it's harder to get the specialists you need," says Robin.

"But people were beating a path to us because they so wanted to be involved - the appeal of working on Doctor Who is extremely seductive."

Visual effects producer Will Cohen says: "The show is a national institution and people working out how best to do a shot would often say something like 'But it's Doctor Who, it has to be good'."

The effects in the show have to be almost better than good, says Robin, "because today's audience is very visual effect-literate".

Will cites the gaseous entities that feature in one episode: "They started off just as ectoplasm but then became faces that had to speak.

"In another story, one computer-generated character needed four minutes of lip-synching, which is a huge undertaking in a TV project."

Robin adds: "The series was very stimulating for our team because we were able to input our own creative ideas, much more so than in film. We were contributing, not just executing."

  • The Mill has been at the forefront of visual and special effects (VFX and SFX) for 15 years. Credits include the Academy Award-winning Gladiator for which they won the Oscar for special effects.
  • Approximately 800 special effects have been created for the new series of Doctor Who compared with only 100 for the multi-Oscar-winning Gladiator.
  • No other British TV production has been this ambitious in scale with the number of SFX and VFX created for a series.
  • It has taken a team of 21 people, working over 10 months, doing six-day weeks of 12 hours per day to bring the new series up to date.
  • Episode two involved the highest volume and biggest diversity of effects. This episode entailed characters built entirely in CG, entirely CG space and environments, green-screen composites and matt painting. This episode alone sucked up over a fifth of The Mill's total VFX work quota.

Edward Thomas has been a production designer on 32 films for cinema and TV but says he still felt a rush of excitement when he got a phone call to come and chat to Russell T Davies about working on the new Doctor Who.

"I just waded in there because it's Doctor Who and it's a legend, and it was the thought that I might get the chance to help recreate and refresh what had gone before," he says.

"Reality dawns on you when you realise there's a fan base that's kept this series alive for 15 years, which is pressure enough, let alone making it visually-exciting and stimulating for a younger audience with little idea what Doctor Who is about."

Edward has overseen the look of the entire series, and played a major role in the design of the new TARDIS.

"To be able to completely re-design the interior of the TARDIS was amazing," he enthuses.

"It's basic drive mechanism is the same but we've gone for a more organic look using materials such as glass, porcelain and even coral, with a raised central area and a domed roof."

The roundels in the walls remain, as does the coat stand by the door, but look closely at the central console and you will spot old handbrakes, pressure dials, loose nuts and bolts, an old trim-phone, post-it notes, glass balls, hammers and even a navigation sextant.

Edward says: "The Doctor's been traveling in the TARDIS for about 900 years, so the idea is he's had to improvise as he's gone along."

He admits he's probably been blessed with a bigger budget than previous Doctor Who production designers, and also has the benefit of computer-generated imagery.

"When it comes to, say, creating a space station, whereas before you'd design it with the limitations of your studio mind, these days the world is your oyster," he says.

"The Mill's wonderful CGI and the BBC's Mike Tucker and his model work mean I can extend the boundaries in terms of what I want to create."

More money, better models and CGI aside, however, one thing that hasn't changed is the production team's recycling of sets and props.

Edward says: "Most long-running series have sets and props they use all the time, but because Doctor Who is so varied, changing from week to week, we use things again, which I'm sure they did on the old shows.

"Technology has moved on but in some ways things haven't changed and the challenges are just as demanding today as they were then."

  • There have been approximately 650 sets created during the series from location builds to studio builds.
  • Each episode has specific colouring dependent on alien/bad guys.
  • The interior TARDIS was designed with contributions from the whole design team - Dan Walker, Colin Richmond, Matthew Savage, Stephen Nicholas, Bryan Hitch and Peter Walpole all contributed to the final imagery.
  • The new interior TARDIS is approx 6.5m high, 16m diameter, 1500m steelwork.
  • There are 80 sheets of acrylic vac formed panels within the TARDIS forming the glass panels; 800m of jumbo pipe; 50 sheets of industrial wire mesh.
  • The production designers went for more of an organic look using materials such as glass, porcelain and even coral, with a raised central area and a domed roof.
  • Up to nine different blues and greens make up the exterior colour.
  • Production designs to look out for throughout the series include: New DALEK, Captain Jack's ship, DALEK ship and the Nestene Lair which features in episode one.

Mike Tucker is in prime position to compare the new Doctor Who with the old, having worked on the later TV runs featuring Colin Baker and then Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor.

"Russell T Davies said very early on that there's very little point in bringing the show back if we're going to change it beyond all recognition," says Mike, who heads the BBC's Miniature Effects Unit.

"What he's brought back is Doctor Who, but Doctor Who re-invented for the mindset and viewing tastes of the 21st century viewing public."

Mike and his team, together with Oscar-winning effects house The Mill, have helped bring the series bang up to date, using the very latest technology to give its visual effects a sophisticated, cutting edge look and feel.

"The kind of things we're doing now couldn't have been done 15 years ago when the show was last on. Computer technology in visual effects was in its infancy," he says.

"During the last couple of Sylvester McCoy stories, what was then the BBC Video Effects Department was doing some groundbreaking stuff, but it was only after the show came off air that the real digital revolution came along.

"The gulf between what we can do now and did then is enormous. Effects we could never have achieved are now possible - that's the biggest change.

"Russell is well aware of that, so the scripts for the new series have pushed the show's level of ambition higher than ever, and what we've been asked to do is as challenging in its way as it was 15 years ago."

Mike delights in keeping viewers guessing about how the effects in the new Doctor Who were achieved.

"You have to constantly find ways of fooling the next generation of audience, to stay one step ahead so you can say, you might think you know how that was done but actually we threw this or that into the mix to trick you," he says.

In the world of miniature effects, the most visually-arresting scenes are, of course, often achieved by blowing things up.

"You do spend a lot of time making models and setting them up only to destroy them in a matter of seconds, but it's part of the job," Mike says.

"The most important thing is that it looks good on screen."

Besides, what does reducing weeks' worth of work to debris matter when you get to work on the new Dalek?

Mike confirms: "The only overlap between our work and the full-sized world is we got to build the Dalek - what a bonus!"

Doctor Who fan Neill Gorton was thrilled to re-design one of the Doctor's old enemies, living shop dummies the Autons, for episode one.

But even the experienced 'monster maker', who has worked on blockbuster movies including Gladiator and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, was surprised by the scale of the undertaking.

He says: "Initially I was told we needed 'some' Autons, then as things went along I found myself emailing Russell T Davies and asking incredulously 'How many...?'

"We ended up with about 50 of them charging down Cardiff High Street blowing the place up!

"The old Autons were pretty scary and hopefully a new generation of kids will find them scary again. I'd like to think we've taken them to another level."

Neill says of the new series: "I was delighted when I saw episode one because it's new, it's fresh but it's still recognisably Doctor Who.

"I grew up with the old series, and it's part of the reason I do this job. When it came back, I just had to be involved."

The Autons were just the first challenge delivered to Neill by scripts which also called, for instance, for 'green, eight feet tall baby-faced monsters'.

"The process is we'll get a script, then you read the story to see what the creatures have to do, then you start doing sketches," he explains.

"The sketches go to Russell, production designer Edward Thomas, and whoever's in the loop on that episode, and we all chip in until we achieve the right look."

Neill says the creature inside the Dalek went through a heavy design phase because everybody has their own opinions about what it should look like.

"It was glimpsed in an old Tom Baker episode, but only as a blob-like being, so we were really starting from scratch, and Russell had some very strong ideas about it," he says.

"We really went through a lot of concepts and designs, and it ended up being about 80% Russell's ideas and 20% mine. He always wins when he really wants to!"

At least Neill had his say - often not the case on major movies, he says: "With something like Doctor Who you're really involved, and not just being told what to do.

"You're pitching ideas which you know won't simply be ignored. The whole set-up is very collaborative.

"That's why it's not just one monster or anything else that has given me most pleasure while working on Doctor Who - it's being part of the whole thing."

  • The Autons (shop front dummies) controlled by the Nestene Consciousness - first appeared in Doctor Who in the Seventies, brought up to date for a 21st century audience.
  • Moxx of Balhoon, a diminutive blue-skinned creative supported by and transported on an antigravity chair.
  • The Forest of Cheem, a collective of Trees, Jabe, Lute and Coffa - humanoid creatures grown from wood sprouting branches and leaves.
  • The Face of Boe, an alien head held in a steam-driven, fluidic life-support tank.
  • Daleks – the Doctor's arch-enemies whose fierce cry 'exterminate' strikes fear into the heart of our legendary hero.
  • Slitheen – eight feet tall, a thick tube of solid, wet, green flesh.
  • The Gelth – gaseous aliens.
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Doctor Who might save the world from the Daleks when the series returns to television on Saturday night but the gravel-voiced villains will spearhead a massive BBC invasion of toy stores - with at least 70 different products planned.

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the corporation, plans a merchandising bonanza for the famous programme and at the top of the list is a £30 remote-controlled Dalek made by Character Options, the company behind last Christmas's runaway toy hit, Robosapien.

Character Options has been appointed "master toy licensee" for the science fiction series and will also produce a toy version of the Doctor's trusty sonic screwdriver.

So seriously does the BBC take the sales potential of the new series that it has even appointed a "brand manager" to the programme, to advise on overseas sales and merchandising options.

The BBC said yesterday that the 70 different products, which will include novels, a CD based on a Radio 2 documentary, DVDs, a children's stickerbook, birthday cards, watches and clocks, were not excessive.

"With a big Hollywood property you would be talking about hundreds and hundreds [of products]," a BBC spokesman said.

The new merchandise will follow in a long line of spin-off products - already the latest edition of Radio Times offers readers a chance to buy a Tardis DVD/CD cabinet, Cyberman collectors' plates and a K-9 cookie jar.

A PlayStation game is in development but not confirmed. The BBC website will offer exclusive downloads and Doctor Who ringtones.

Books and DVDs will start to appear from May while the series is still on air, but the electronic toys will not appear until the autumn.

"Merchandise is usually planned a year in advance so to get things out for this autumn is extremely quick," a BBC spokesman said.

"What the BBC tends to steer away from is 'brand flapping', where you tend to put the logo on a product that has been made anyway," he said.

Doctor Who junk food will not be on the menu.

"The BBC doesn't do salty pasta shapes or all year around confectionary," the spokesman said

The programme has been sold to CBC in Canada, Prime TV in New Zealand and Sky Italia's entertainment channel Jimmy. Production sources said that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which is currently broadcasting every Doctor Who episode since the beginning, would shortly buy the series after it has viewed all 13 completed episodes. Four DVDs of the series will be released from May to September followed by a box set "in stunning Tardis packaging" released in time for Christmas. Action figures of a leather-jacketed Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billy Piper's Rose, are also expected.
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Billie Piper knew Doctor Who was going to be big - but now the show has trounced Ant and Dec in the ratings, she knows the BBC's gamble to bring back the sci-fi series has paid off.

"I did have an idea about how big doing Doctor Who was going to be," says Billie, who plays Rose, the Time Lord's latest assistant, "but from the beginning I made an effort not to think about the expectation surrounding the show. It's only now I'm starting to see it. And it's quite scary."

Having already saved the Doctor's life from the Autons, this Saturday he takes her to the year 5,000,000,000 to show her the end of the world as Earth is burned by the expanding sun.

"When we shot episode two that was the first moment I realised, 'Oh my God I'm making Doctor Who'," laughs Billie.

"There were about 13 different life forms in one space and it was just breath-taking. The amount of work and effort that had gone into producing all these crazy characters was amazing."

However, Billie wasn't so impressed with the Daleks - Rose has to confront one in episode six.

"I didn't really watch the show as a youngster, so to see all these grown men just fall to the floor when they saw the Dalek was fascinating," she says. "It's such a haunting image for them."

Although the eight-month shoot put huge demands on the 22-year-old star - they were often filming 16 hours a day - she baulks at placing any blame on the show for her split with husband Chris Evans.

"I don't blame the job at all," she says. "I think whatever happened between Chris and me would have happened in the end anyway. I would never ever say that Doctor Who is responsible for my divorce. I think that would be stupid."

She handles questioning about her marriage well - she's a seasoned pro when it comes to being a celebrity.

Even when she falters slightly when confronted with her estranged husband's recent comments that it was the age gap that caused the split - Evans is 39 on Friday - she manages to remain upbeat.

"I don't know about that," she says, with a frown. "We had a great time together and that's all that concerns me. We're still best friends and we always will be."

She's reportedly dating the far lower profile Amadu Sowe, a law student, so instead of her personal life, the main topic of questioning these days is the sci-fi show.

Charged with appealing to proper kids as well as the grown-up ones, writer Russell T Davies has made Rose an adventurous and intelligent young companion.

"Rose is a feisty character," says Billie. "She's gutsy and she goes for it."

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Actor Christopher Eccleston has quit as Doctor Who after just one episode of the new series has been screened, the BBC has confirmed.

Bookies have tipped Casanova actor David Tennant as the hot favourite to replace Eccleston as the Time Lord, with odds of 1/10.

Other contenders for the role include Bill Nighy and comedian Eddie Izzard.

Eccleston's first appearance as the ninth Doctor attracted 10 million viewers.

Talks are taking place to replace him with Tennant.

A second series of the new Doctor Who, which will again be written by Russell T Davies and produced by BBC Wales, has already been commissioned.

Billie Piper, who plays Dr Who's assistant Rose, is expected to return for the second series.

An initial statement issued by the BBC said Eccleston feared being typecast and had found the series gruelling - although the BBC later accepted the statement was not correct and said it had not spoken to Eccleston before releasing it.

A BBC spokesman said it had hoped, rather than expected, that Eccleston would continue in the role.

He said that although talks to make David Tennant the 10th Doctor were taking place, other names may be put forward.

Bill Nighy was also considered for the Eccleston role, while Richard E Grant starred in a BBC web adventure of Doctor Who.

Period drama Casanova, which moves to BBC1 from BBC3 on Monday, added to Tennant's reputation after his success in the drama Blackpool.

Ladbrokes spokesman Warren Lush said: "Public demand has forced us to produce a long list of possible Doctors despite the fact that David Tennant is so hotly tipped for the role.

"Before Eccleston took the role the money was for Alan Davies and Eddie Izzard and they have to be seen as possible contenders again."

However, bookmaker William Hill has refused to take any bets on the identity of the new Doctor, after being "flooded" with inquiries from people wishing to bet on Tennant.

"It appears that the BBC has moved quickly to secure David Tennant's services following the departure of Eccleston," said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe.

"It seems that the role is his should he want it, which makes it impossible for us to open a book."

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Doctor Who fans have cause for celebration after the ABC snapped up the rights to the new series of the hit British sci-fi show.

The broadcaster today announced it would screen the latest series of the popular program from mid May.

Doctor Who first aired on the BBC in 1963 with the last episode screening in 1989.

The latest series made a triumphant return to British screens last week, attracting a television audience of more than 10.5 million fans.

Previous series of Doctor Who aired on the ABC but the new series was yet to be acquired by an Australian broadcaster up until now.

"This is Doctor Who, 21st century-style, and it most definitely will appeal to people who are new to the Doctor Who phenomenon, as well as long-term fans," ABC's head of programming, Marena Manzoufas, said.

"I am in no doubt that a whole new Australian audience will be attracted to the series."

"Doctor Who is one of the most significant BBC dramas of the year," BBC Worldwide's head of sales for Australasia, Julie Dowding, said.

"It's the ultimate adventure series with the ultimate cast. We're very happy that it's come to earth in Australia."

The new series stars Christopher Eccleston as Doctor Who while singer Billie Piper plays his young assistant, Rose Tyler.

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Nearly seven million said goodbye to Doctor Who this weekend, including the show's most surprising new fan... Michael Grade, the man who axed Doctor Who in the 80s.

News has rearched the Doctor Who website that the BBC Chairman was so moved about the new series that he sent an email of praise to Director General Mark Thompson...

"This is not easy to write - as you will readily understand. But here goes å congratulations to all involved in Dr Who: to whoever commissioned it, those who executed it, the writers, the cast, the publicity folk that promoted it, the schedulers and of course the late Sydney Newman who invented the whole thing.

I truly enjoyed it and watched it every week with my six and half year old son who is now a fan.

A classy, popular triumph for people of all ages and all backgrounds - real value for money for our licence fee payers.

PS never dreamed I would ever write this. I must be going soft!"

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If you've been wondering how BBC Wales made this year's incredibly successful show, then some of your queries may be answered by Doctor Who Magazine's season one special.

DWM have wheeled out their resident expert Andrew Pixley and unleashed him on season one of the new show.

He's had a lot of help and information from the BBC Wales production team, access to thousands of behind-the-scenes photos, plus one or two hints from executive producer Russell T Davies.

Also presented - in full, and for the first time in public - the original 'pitch' document for the series from Autumn 2003... complete with annotated notes from Russell himself, to explain how the series evolved over the months that followed. Find out who Judy, Jax and Mobbsy are, and why the TARDIS nearly visited Pompeii!

The special is out today.

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BBC series Doctor Who has won three prizes at the National TV Awards, including most popular drama.

The show's two stars Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper scooped the most popular actor and actress honours in the awards voted by the public.

The results were revealed by ITV1 newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald at the Royal Albert Hall.

Revived after a 16-year absence, Doctor Who has proved to be a success with viewers since it returned to BBC One in March.

It beat US hit series Desperate Housewives, The Bill and Bad Girls to win the most popular drama prize.

The award was presented jointly by the two men challenging to be the next Conservative party leader, David Cameron and David Davis.

Mr Cameron was the one holding the trophy and the pair were both booed as they arrived on stage.

Eccleston, who will not be returning for the next series, took the actor award ahead of Doc Martin star Martin Clunes, Coronation Street's Bradley Walsh and EastEnders regulars Nigel Harman and Shane Richie.

Eccleston was unable to attend the ceremony so writer Russell T Davies collected the award on his behalf and read out the actor's note of apology and thanks.

"Thank you to everybody who voted for me, and to the British public for their encouragement over the last 17 years," Eccleston had written.

Eccleston, who will not be returning for the next series, took the actor award ahead of Doc Martin star Martin Clunes, Coronation Street's Bradley Walsh and EastEnders regulars Nigel Harman and Shane Richie.

Eccleston was unable to attend the ceremony so writer Russell T Davies collected the award on his behalf and read out the actor's note of apology and thanks.

"Thank you to everybody who voted for me, and to the British public for their encouragement over the last 17 years," Eccleston had written.

In the actress category, Piper, who will return as sidekick Rose in the new series, beat Caroline Quentin, EastEnders stars Jessie Wallace and June Brown, and Coronation Street's Sally Lindsay.

On collecting her prize, Piper thanked the drama's bosses for taking a "huge gamble".

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Doctor Who swept the board at the BBC's 2005 Drama Awards. The online poll placed the show and its stars top in seven out of the eight categories.

Doctor Who was voted best drama, scooping 55.86 per cent of the vote; Best Actor for Christopher Eccleston (59.42 per cent); Best Actress for Bilie Piper (59.76 per cent); Best Moment for the return of the Daleks (8.63 per cent); Best villain for the Daleks (46.4 per cent); Most Desirable Star for Billie Piper (26.47 per cent); and Best Drama Website for the BBC Doctor Who site (71.17 per cent).

David Tennant, John Barrowman, the Emperor Dalek and the regeneration were also highly placed in several categories. Doctor Who was only placed 11th in the Worst Drama category - everyone's rather pleased it didn't win that one.

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Last night Doctor Who beat Shameless and Blackpool to win the prestigious 2006 Broadcast Award for Best Drama Series or Serial.

The judges said: "The fact that the BBC took an abandoned concept and reinvented it as a huge Saturday night entertainment hit is brilliant. To start from scratch and produce 13 episodes and to maintain a 40 per cent audience share is highly impressive."

This adds to Doctor Who's successes at the National Television Awards, TV Moments, and the BBC 2005 Drama Awards.

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Not content with grabbing a nomination or two at the national BAFTA Awards, the Doctor Who production team in Cardiff must be jumping for joy... It's been announced that their work on the 2005 season has been rewarded with a staggering 14 nominations for the prestigious 15th Annual BAFTA Cymru Film, Television and New Media Awards, largely for the festive special The Christmas Invasion.

In no particular order, the nominees are:

  • Best Drama - Doctor Who
  • Feature Programme - Doctor Who Confidential
  • New Media - Doctor Who: Attack of the Graske
  • Director of Photography - Ernie Vincze (The Christmas Invasion)
  • Sound - Ian Richardson
  • Design - Edward Thomas (The Christmas Invasion)
  • Graphics/Titles - The Mill (The Christmas Invasion)
  • Costume - Lucinda Wright
  • Make-Up - Davy Jones
  • Screenwriter - Russell T Davies
  • Original Soundtrack - Murray Gold (The Christmas Invasion)
  • Director - James Hawes (The Christmas Invasion)
  • Actor - Christopher Eccleston
  • Actress - Billie Piper
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