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Feature: Doctor Who 2005

Adventures in Time and Space

RTD! When the BBC’s revival of Doctor Who arrives on our screens in 2005, it’ll be under the control of writer and executive producer Russell T Davies…

When Queer as Folk creator Russell T Davies was announced as the executive producer and head writer for the BBC’s revival of Doctor Who, it immediately sparked off a round of speculation. Would the Daleks be back? Who’d be playing the Doctor? What would this new incarnation of the series be like? Although the TARDIS’s crew has now been announced, with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, accompanied by Billie Piper as companion Rose Tyler, rumours about the series’ content continue to spread like wildfire among Who fans. Davies himself, however, takes pains to distance himself from all the gossip and hearsay. “I don’t really listen to the rumours, to be honest. I’m sure there are tons, but they don’t reach me. I stopped reading Doctor Who websites when we first began production, I think they’d drive me mad, now.” There must be some speculation that stands out as being particularly daft, though. “I did see that one rumour in the Guardian about Cabinet members who became alien when they lied, or something – which was hardly credible, since the disguise wouldn’t last long! It does seem that some rumours get so strong that the production team is asked to make an official statement, which I’m absolutely refusing to do. Comment on nonsense, and you give that nonsense an official status. No chance!”

Is he concerned that the series is being overhyped – or that the press might be building it up to knock it down? “Since Billie’s announcement, things have been a lot calmer, so hopefully it’ll stay that way. Bear in mind, 99% of the viewing public pay all this no attention at all!” Fans do, though, and one thing that has changed since the original series was on the air is the Internet. Thanks to the World Wide Web, there’s the possibility that viewers might know everything there is to know about the new series before it airs. “If you read Internet spoilers, then tough, that’s your own doing,” Davies points out. “If you want to watch it clean, then it’s very easily done. I haven’t got time to worry about the Internet habits of strangers!”

One hot topic of discussion, both on the world wide web and elsewhere, has been the Doctor’s new companion, Rose. It’s been widely reported that the character will draw inspiration from Buffy The Vampire Slayer – how close is this to the truth? “Not very, she hasn’t got superpowers or a secret destiny. At least, not yet. I just used Buffy as an example of a well-written modern leading female role.”

With little in the way of concrete information about the new series available, attention has turned to Davies’s only previous foray into the world of Doctor Who – his New Adventures novel Damaged Goods, published back in 1997. A dark tale of drug-dealing, psychic conspiracies and family tragedy on a council estate, it was well-received by Who fans, although those looking for clues to the direction of the new series won’t find much to go on. “Well, that was written both for fans and an exclusively adult audience, so there are natural differences,” Davies points out. “It was part of an ongoing plot called the ‘Psi-Powers’ series which, to be honest, I barely understood. I couldn’t tell you myself what that Brotherhood were up to! So we won’t be having anything as entangled as that. But I did want Damaged Goods to have ordinary people in extraordinary situations – that’s hardly my invention, it’s the basis of 99% of drama – and the new version of Doctor Who will try to find that same starting-point.”

by Stephen Graves

Get the full interview, plus concept artist Bryan Hitch on the new series, when you buy
TV Zone #179

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd. Doctor Who © BBCtv
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #179
August 2004
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