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Feature: Doctor Who (2000s)

Who future poser… It’s all systems go for the next year of Doctor Who! Three seperate series are coming your way…

Warning. If you are a Doctor Who fan in mid-August 2007 you would have only four weeks to take your holiday unless you implicitly trusted your video recorder. Because after that, it’s planned to be near non-stop Who every week till Wimbledon 2008 summons the rain (assuming it’s ever gone away). The Sarah Jane Adventures begins a 10 week run in late September, most likely in the final week. After that December will bring a few weeks’ respite, but only a comparative one, as the publicity machine gears up for Kylie Minogue’s Christmas Day debut as one-off companion Astrid in Voyage of the Damned. Then in the New Year (January 2nd would be our guess, taking over Heroes’s BBC2 slot after a one-week break for Boxing Day) it’s Torchwood’s turn to take the stage for 13 weeks, just in time for Doctor Who to return to its now traditional slot in the equally traditional last weekend of March (in fact, the two might overlap, as there’s not quite enough time before Easter to fit in 13 weekly episodes of Torchwood).

Clearly, it’s the biggest year yet for Doctor Who, or the Doctor Who franchise as it might now be called. And it could be the make or break one, as the new audience who discovered the series on its return in 2005 mature, and a new generation of youngsters come of viewing age to a series which, so far as they’ve concerned, has always been there, and always been a favourite of their big sisters and brothers. Then there’s the ever present question of how long the current team will stay, and the ever present paranoia over the BBC’s faith that the series can thrive without the guiding influence of Russell T Davies. Torchwood, after a first season that was successful, but widely viewed as inconsistent and shakey, has to prove it’s put its teething troubles behind it as it graduates to a BBC2 premiere, and then of course there’s The Sarah Jane Adventures. Can it maintain the quality and generation-crossing appeal of the universally well-received introductory story?

So, first off the block is Sarah Jane, whose Adventures may yet be renamed to fit into a half-hour slot on a digibox’s Electronic Programme Guides, accompanied by the teenage helpers she accumulated during New Year’s Day’s pilot episode Invasion of the Bane – though not all of them. Yasmin Paige and Tommy Knight will be back as next door neighbour Maria and the Archetype, now officially Sarah Jane’s adoptive son and known as Luke, but mouthy Kelsey is gone, reportedly thanks to actress Porsha Lawrence Mavour being a little too mouthy offscreen as well. In her place comes Daniel Anthony as Clyde, a streetwise kid who’ll better balance the genders in Sarah Jane’s team, and provide young Luke with a role model of sorts. Maria’s family – both her decent father and her self-obsessed mother – will remain a part of the show’s ongoing character arc, creating an interesting dynamic as Sarah Jane becomes something of a surrogate mother to the young girl. And of course, Sarah herself will discover the downside of surrogate motherhood and the new responsibilities it brings.

by Diane McGinn

Read the full feature in
TV Zone #219

Photo © BBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #219
September 2007
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