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Feature: Doctor Who 2005

The Return of the Hero

Behind the scenes…

As Doctor Who gears up for its return to BBC1 after 15 years’ absence, we talk to the people overseeing the new series, including writer and executive producer Russell T Davies!

In a top-secret warehouse in Newport, the media have assembled for a look at the new Doctor Who series, the brainchild of Queer as Folk’s Russell T Davies. The warehouse is being used as studio space for the series; a vast expanse of it is given over to the new TARDIS interior, while Davies is holding court over on an industrial-looking space station set that’s due to be broken down the next day. Davies isn’t the centre of attention, though; try as they might, the journos can’t keep their eyes off the star of the show – the new Dalek, a mass of bronze and rivets in the corner of the room. One of them approaches it for a closer look…

“DO NOT TOUCH THE DA-LEK!” it bellows, and everyone jumps, a little piece of their mind instinctively diving behind the sofa. “I WILL EX-TER-MIN-ATE YOU ALL!”

Nick Briggs, the voice of the Dalek, emerges from behind a partition clutching his microphone and grinning from ear to ear. Everyone lets out a chuckle – but no one goes near the Dalek again…

It may be the centrepiece of Doctor Who’s renaissance, but the Daleks came very close to missing out on the new series altogether.

“There was a wobble at one point,” Davies says, “with the small print and the lawyers – nothing to do with us, but there we go.” Luckily, clear heads prevailed, and the Daleks are in the new series – no thanks to a certain tabloid that’s quick to claim the credit. Without spoiling the surprise, the Doctor’s first on-screen meeting with the Daleks in 15 years is masterfully handled, and Davies is quick to agree. “I absolutely love that story – and that’s written by Rob Shearman. It’s a big, emotional episode – instead of ‘Aha, Daleks, we meet again!’ this is his ancient enemy, that’s slaughtered millions of people. And you know, where he’s talking to it, the gimmick of that scene, the confrontation with the Dalek, is fantastic.”

The new series isn’t just about revisiting old glories, however, as Davies notes. “This is a chance for a new start now, a brand new start. It’s not a reboot of the old series, it’s the same old Doctor Who, with a Time Lord and a TARDIS travelling in Time and Space. What I want to bring to it is more what a modern, young audience want to watch, to feel what’s going on. If you’re on Planet Zog, and the Zog people are fighting with the Zog Monster, I don’t give a toss!” he elaborates. “Who cares about that? If you tell me that there’s a Human colony on Planet Zog, fighting off the elements and trying to survive, then actually I’m interested.

by Stephen Graves

Get the full feature with interviews in
TV Zone #187

Photos © BBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #187
April 2005
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