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Feature: Doctor Who 2005

First pages

The Doctor is nearly back, but hopefully kids will still be behind the sofa. We preview the show that’s bringing family-friendly Horror back to TV…

It’s almost time. Difficult though it sometimes seems to believe, after 15 years of almost uninterrupted waiting (that 90 minutes in 1996 barely seems to count sometimes – the eighth Doctor has had the bulk of his existence in print and on CD), we’re almost certainly within two months of Doctor Who’s return to the screen as one of the BBC’s more prestigious productions. Talk of a one million pound per episode budget is probably an exaggeration, but it catches the spirit of things – for the first time in history, the BBC is throwing its entire weight behind the show; it’ll launch with the backing of an extensive, and carefully controlled, PR operation. Not like the old days, when there were photo calls with minor celebrity guest stars (they’re all too busy on Big Brother and ...Get Me Out of Here anyway) that saw print during recording, and were long forgotten by the public by the time the episodes actually reached the screen.

The danger of peaking too early by letting coverage run ahead of the actual show has clearly been one of the BBC’s big concerns; as director Joe Ahearne told TV Zone (Issue #183), “There’s a fear that if it’s talked about too much people will feel like they’ve seen it and be bored with it already.” Hence it’s only now that the first official pictures and info have been released, along with a teaser trailer hinting at some of the Doctor’s first words to new companion Rose Tyler. “I’m the Doctor, by the way. Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life!”

But you can’t control interest in a project as eagerly awaited as this, particularly when the production team themselves are brimming over with enthusiasm – particularly the writers, all of whom have written for Doctor Who’s off-screen afterlife, and who are all high-profile enough to be interviewed about their other work (for creative supremo Russell T Davies, it’s Mine all Mine and Casanova; for Mark Gatiss, there’s The League of Gentlemen and his new novel; for Steven Moffatt, there’s Coupling and Press Gang…). Even the guest stars have been speaking out, though sometimes with their tongues firmly in cheek. So there’s still a lot out in the open…

The series as whole is unashamedly taking the most successful period of the original run, the early Tom Baker seasons, as its model. This isn’t Science Fiction... it’s family-friendly Horror with the occasional Science Fictional explanation. However, the series will sensibly open by taking its cue from the time of Jon Pertwee, with monsters on the streets of contemporary London… the exact same monsters that Pertwee faced in his début story, in fact.

The shadow of the Tom Baker years looms long in another way. Companion Rose Tyler is to be a very willing traveller, in the tradition of Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith, who relished her experiences rather than whining on about the Doctor’s failed attempts to get her home, and how ‘all these corridors look the same’ (not that they will look the same this time round). In any case, Rose won’t have much chance to get homesick, as she’ll be nipping back to see her friends and family on a regular basis throughout the season.

by Diane McGinn

Get the full feature and our story-by-story preview of the new season in
TV Zone #186

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, Doctor Who © BBCtv
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #186
March 2005
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