November 02, 2005

What the Shakespeare, Rose?

Our beloved Billie Piper is on the cover of this week’s Radio Times, not for playing Rose but Hero in next Monday’s BBC TV adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. Actually, it’s not really the Bard, it’s a modern-day updating of Will’s original storyline, in the same way the BBC re-did The Canterbury Tales (also starring the sensational Ms. Piper) a couple of years ago.

This is not the first time that an actress has crossed over from Doctor Who companion to Shakespeare lead. The incomparable Lalla Ward played Ophelia in an excellent BBC production of Hamlet in between her two seasons as Romana. It must have been quite a shift to go from working with Graham Crowden in The Horns of Nimon to Derek Jacobi, Patrick Stewart and Claire Bloom in the Bard’s Danish tragedy and then back to talking about tachyonics with Tom Baker, but our beloved Lalla was a trouper.

I’m actually looking forward to seeing this. True, I would have loved Billie speaking in iambic pentameter, but I’ll be interested in seeing in what they can do. Hero is an interesting character choice for Billie, because in the Shakespearean version she can be played incredibly passively—so much so, that she often fades into the background in favour of the vastly more fun Beatrice (who is played here by Blackpool‘s Sarah Parish, which gives me all the more reason to want to see this). It’s obvious the producers want to try and do something different with the female roles in some of the Bard’s plays. They certainly got the right actress for the part, here, if that’s the case.

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some sort of Halloween costumes

Yes, that appears to be a horse dressed as K9.

The BBC site has some other scary costumes, including the Sutekh pumpkin!

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October 29, 2005

Ode to Howlaround

Today’s Toronto Star has an article on the 100 Things That Make Us Scream (registration required to view). Coming in at Number 14 is “The opening title sequence of the original Dr. Who” which the writers claim “we blacked out at that point.”

As I said on dwin’s mailing list, it’s about time someone in the media acknowledged what must be one of the most widely known truths about Doctor Who, at least in Canada anyway. Over the years I have met many, many people who have all said to me the same thing: Doctor Who was scary and they never watched it. Not because of the monsters. Not because of the Daleks. No—they were terrified by the opening titles.

I have to admit to some sympathy to these people. I remember watching the opening titles to The Three Doctors on TVO as a six year-old in 1976 and finding them kind of scary too (I even held my hand over my eyes at least once while watching them) though I did watch the succeeding story.

I’m frankly not all that surprised. When you think about the titles for the series back in the 1970s, they really were like nothing else seen or heard on television at that time. Weird misty shapes forming a face and then dissolving it into a spinning swirl, and all the while the strangest music ever is being played over it. Fans of Doctor Who get inurred to that from repeated viewings and knowing it was video howlaround (playing the camera back on itself) that created those images etc., that we lose sight of the incredible effect those titles achieved. It didn’t look like it was from earth. It didn’t sound like it was from earth.

I love the main titles of the new series (though I would have liked to have seen the Doctor’s face). And while I think Murray Gold’s embellishment of the theme is superb, I have to admit that when I saw those titles done with a stereophonic mix of the original Delia Derbyshire version of the theme last March, I got a little tingle down my spine, like I did when I was six.

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October 27, 2005

Mainstream Success!

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In a demonstration of the mainstream success of the latest Doctor Who series the show has won big at the National Television Awards. The show was up for three different awards and won all three. Doctor Who won Most Popular Drama Series, Christopher Eccleston won Most Popular Actor and Billie Piper won Most Popular Actress. Piper and Eccleston beat out competition from stars from a number of series but from Eastenders and Coronation Street in particular.

Winning against such heavyweight competition from top rated shows is further evidence of the total and mainstream success of the new Doctor Who series.

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The Nominees were:

Most Popular Drama:  Bad Girls, Desperate Housewives, Doctor Who, The Bill

Most Popular Actor: Bradley Walsh, Christopher Eccleston, Martin Clunes, Nigel Harman, Shane Richie

Most Popular Actress: Billie Piper, Caroline Quentin, Jessie Wallace, June Brown, Sally Lindsay


Top: Billie Piper with award presenters and Conservative Party leadership candidates David Davis and David Cameron.

Bottom: Noel Clarke, Billie Piper & Camille Coduri

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October 25, 2005

Doctor Who is back for the Children

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The BBC announced today that a new mini-episode of Doctor Who will be shown Friday November 18th as part of the annual Children in Need charity broadcast day. The special will feature David Tennant and Billie Piper and is written by Russell T. Davies. At present nothing is known about the plot.

This isn’t the first time there has been a special Doctor Who mini-story for the Children in Need charity special - back in 1993 a 14 minute story called Dimensions in Time was broadcast, featuring Doctors number 3 to 7, plus a whole host of companions, and cast members from the British soap Eastenders.  No word on whether any cross-overs are happening this time as yet.

Let the “is this canon?” debates commence…..

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October 18, 2005

At Last!

Two Dates for Canadians to Remember:


  • December 26: The Christmas Invasion airs on CBC, hosted by Billie Piper
  • February 14: Season One of the New Series comes out on DVD in Canada.

These are moments in life where it’s great to be a Canadian.

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October 16, 2005

TORCHWOOD!

The Independent has This news article about Russell Davies writing a Doctor Who spin-off featuring Captain Jack. It’s going to be shown on BBC3 in a post-watershed timeslot and be what Russell Davies describes as “a dark, clever, wild, sexy, British crime/sci-fi paranoid thriller cop show with a sense of humour - the X Files meets This Life”

Well, I’m sold.

There are five good reasons why we should have seen this coming:


  1. Doctor Who was such a phenomenal ratings success it was inevitable the BBC would want some kind of a spin-off
  2. BBC3’s controllers are not dummies: two of their hottest commodities last year were Doctor Who Confidential and Casanova
  3. John Barrowman has become the ‘it boy’ in the UK right now. He’s the hot actor and he’s getting tons of exposure
  4. BBC boffins are, understandably, wondering if a) the magic of Doctor Who can transfer beyond the all-ages pre-watershed timeslot and b) if they can have another SF series in the slate
  5. Hey, it worked for Buffy, Law and Order, etc. etc…

Of course there are five lingering questions:


  1. Does this mean RTD is going to pull a Chris Carter, where he concentrates so much on the spin-offs that attention is taken away from the series that prompted the spin-offs in the first place, or is he going to be more like Seth McFarlene, who set up and created American Dad but very wisely went back to show-running Family Guy and ensured that franchise stayed on top?
  2. Do they really think they can get away with an adult SF/Crime series set in contemporary Cardiff?
  3. Could there be a backlash against a more ‘adult’ spinoff of Doctor Who?
  4. Will it be like the Law and Order spinoffs (good) or like the Trek spinoffs (bad)
  5. Will it have as dreadful a theme song as the last Doctor Who TV spinoff?

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October 11, 2005

A Return to Beautiful Locations

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There was some beautiful location work last season, but it all seemed to take place in urban areas, which meant that we never actually got to see Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor in a beautiful countryside location - not even for promotional photo. A shame, as Doctor Who traditionally did a lot of location work in the countryside, in fields, forests, near mountains, streams, rivers, lakes or even seas.  This photo from filming of the new season sees the TARDIS by a clifftop near the Welsh coast. 

Its a simple image, but a beautiful sight.

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October 04, 2005

The Boxing Day Invasion

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Rumours coming out of the UK indicate that British fans and fans elsewhere with multi-region DVD players (such as myself - woo hoo) have cause to celebrate with the Doctor and Rose as apparently the The Christmas Invasion may be released on DVD on Boxing Day, which would presumably be just a day or so after broadcast and in time for the crazy Boxing Day sales. Apparently some British shops already have it listed for release on December 26th, though it is important to note that nothing official has been announced for a DVD release date - particularly as the exact day the special will be broadcast in the UK (or Canada for that matter) has also not yet been officially announced.

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September 21, 2005

Tennant as Barty Crouch


This Japanese piece on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire shows David Tennant as Barty Crouch Jr, trying to look mean.

and another:

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