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Published on March 14th, 2005 | by Christian Cawley

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Doctor Who Press Pack Highlights

As reported last week, the BBC Press Office have issued a Doctor Who Press Pack for the new series. We’ve compiled most of the more relevant, new information below.

Acclaimed actor Christopher Eccleston plays Doctor Who in a new 13-part series for BBC ONE transmitting on Saturday 26 March 2005.

Billie Piper, who made her acting debut in the critically-acclaimed Canterbury Tales: The Miller’s Tale, stars alongside Eccleston as the Doctor’s companion, Rose Tyler.

Russell T Davies says: “The new series will be fun, exciting, contemporary and scary – a full-blooded drama which embraces the Doctor Who heritage as well as introducing the character to a modern audience.

“Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor is wise, funny and brave; an adventurer who travels through time and space.

“His detached logic gives him a vital edge when the world is in danger, but when it comes to relationships, he can be found wanting. That’s why he needs Rose (played by Billie Piper).

“Rose is a shop-girl from the present day. From the moment they meet, the Doctor and Rose are soul mates. They understand and complement each other.

“As they travel through history and across the universe, the Doctor shows Rose things beyond her imagination. She starts out as an innocent, fettered by earthly concerns.

“But she ends up an adventurer who, by the end of the series, can never go home again.

“Wherever they go, whoever they meet, every story will come back to Earth. For all the danger and tension this is a fundamentally optimistic series.

“The human race will survive – but only with the Doctor’s help. Prepare for brand-new adventures in the human race…”

bbc.co.uk/doctorwho contains further details about the new series plus background information about the classic series.

Website content includes:

Over two hours of specially shot on-set videos (even the Daleks have sent in a video diary).

Doctor Who Confidential: The entire BBC THREE “making of” show available on-demand (13 x 30 minute episodes). This is the first time a non-news TV show has been streamed on-demand.

The Doctor Who Years: 3 x 30 minute specially edited video compilations, mixing classic tunes and Doctor Who clips in a nostalgia tour of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties.

Conquer! -the BBC’s first multiplayer online role-playing game.

Hidden sites – enter the world of the programme through a series of hidden sites referenced in the TV show. Can you find the Doctor?

Classic clips – more than 250 classic clips from the original series (everything from Tom Baker to the first appearance of the Daleks).

Downloads – the site offers MP3 downloads of sounds, and mobile wallpaper (Trust us – there will be no escape from a phone that sounds like a Dalek death ray).

Exclusive trailers – in the countdown to transmission the site is offering exclusive trailers.

Plus hidden corners, surprises, hundreds of candid behind-the-scenes photographs and more.

Finally, to mark the launch on BBC ONE of the new Doctor Who series, BBC TWO celebrates one of British television’s much-loved and truly iconic series in a special night of programmes on Saturday 19 March.

In a one-off Mastermind Doctor Who Special, four Doctor Who aficionados will be put through their paces by Mastermind host, John Humphrys to find out who will be crowned the UK’s top Doctor Who fan.

The prize will be presented by the new Doctor, Christopher Eccleston.

So Some Things You Need To Know About Doctor Who will be packed full of Doctor Who trivia, plus there is another chance to see The Story of Doctor Who – a nostalgic archive documentary about the longest running TV drama series.

Christopher’s leather jacket-wearing Doctor, played in his own Manchester accent, is more down-to-earth than some of his more flamboyant predecessors – “stripped down”, as Russell describes him.

“The first couple of episodes were written before Christopher was cast,” he says.

“But, by happy accident, my template for the character fitted him perfectly and he’s also added as we’ve gone along.”

One of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, Christopher (41) accepts that saying ‘yes’ to reviving the Doctor was a bold move.

“If you wanted to be cynical about it, a lot of the work I’ve done has been comfort food for liberals,” he says with a smile, referring to benchmark TV dramas such as Our Friends In The North and Hillsborough.

“What’s dawned on me about Doctor Who is that I’m trying to entertain a different audience. It’s exciting and funny and scary and it’s aimed at families, so I’m kind of acting for children and I feel very lucky to be able to do that.

“For all the danger the Doctor encounters, the basic message of the show is seize life, be optimistic and see the positives.

One of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, Christopher (41) accepts that saying ‘yes’ to reviving the Doctor was a bold move.

“If you wanted to be cynical about it, a lot of the work I’ve done has been comfort food for liberals,” he says with a smile, referring to benchmark TV dramas such as Our Friends In The North and Hillsborough.

“What’s dawned on me about Doctor Who is that I’m trying to entertain a different audience. It’s exciting and funny and scary and it’s aimed at families, so I’m kind of acting for children and I feel very lucky to be able to do that.

Fittingly for a classic TV series being reinvented for the 21st century, Christopher had no preconceptions about Doctor Who, having rarely watched it as a child.

“I’ve got some memories of it, but I was always out playing,” he says. “So I didn’t have to think about what had gone before.

He is Russell’s Doctor and I’ve responded to the character that he’s written,” says Christopher. “But I have a sense that, as we went along, Russell started to look at what I was doing and began to write for me. I think I’ve done certain things with the character which he’s liked, and he’s used that.”

Gone is the sartorial flamboyance of the previous Doctors, as is the slight air of theatricality which seemed to suit their outfits, and in their place is a more pared-down, more ‘alien’ adventurer – with a northern accent.

“The accent is an interesting thing,” says Manchester-born Christopher, whose movie credits include Shallow Grave, Elizabeth and 28 Days Later.

“The Doctor is a scientist and an intellectual, and a lot of people seem to think you can only be those things if you speak with received pronunciation which, of course, is rubbish.

“In terms of what he wears (mostly black but with a succession of coloured tops), I didn’t want the costume to be my performance, I wanted any flamboyance and colour to come out of my acting.

But the bottom line for Christopher is that the Doctor is someone who lives for the here and now.

“He doesn’t like to think about his past – there’s some pain there – and his only concern about the future is that he makes sure it’s there.

“He kind of eats life. He’s not on a mission, he hasn’t got an agenda, he’s just there. Things just happen, he responds to them and does what he thinks is right.”

“Everything you need to know about Doctor Who is all there on the screen. More than anything else I’ve worked on, this show does exactly what it says on the tin.”

Christopher adds: “When I agreed to play the Doctor, I was reacting with my heart to what I feel Russell has tried to do with all his work, which is deliver television that is entertaining and has substance.

“If we’ve got it right, I think Doctor Who will be both of those things.”

And when it came to trying to land the part of Rose in Doctor Who, she had an ace up her sleeve.

“I had a first audition and was then called back to read opposite Christopher (Eccleston) so the producers could check out the chemistry between us.

“That was really quite scary, but I’d met Christopher before because we were going to be partnered up to do another TV drama.

“Nothing ever came of that project, but at least we’d been out for a drink before and enjoyed each other’s company, so that definitely helped.”

Billie sees Rose as more of an equal to the Doctor than his previous companions.

“The new series keeps the essence of the old Doctor Who, but one of the ways it has updated it is in the relationship between the Doctor and Rose.

“I think they’re on a par with one another, more like partners, and the audience sees everything through Rose’s eyes,” explains Billie.

“He is constantly challenging her, trying to broaden her horizons, and she’s trying to show him how to be more in touch with human emotions.

“The series is a great balance between science fiction, which can be a bit detached, and real, genuine emotions. I don’t think I would have done it if it was strictly sci-fi, as much as I’ve enjoyed being chased by monsters!

“I get my biggest buzz from working opposite Christopher when Rose and the Doctor are having ‘domestic’ kind of conversations. But the creativity of the plots and their characters, the sets and the whole look of the series is amazing.”

Billie adds: “If Rose had been older she might not have gone off in the first place with this strange man who calls himself the Doctor and abandoned the life she knows.

“But when we first see her she’s so bored and looking for excitement. She feels trapped and doesn’t want the kind of mundane life she’s living. But then she meets this guy who totally shakes up her world.”

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About the Author

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A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




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