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Published on November 16th, 2011 | by Christian Cawley

Truth About Those Movie Rumours

So, did you want a Doctor Who movie starring some bloke from a vampire flick, a chick from American Idol and an invisible TARDIS which looks like Buckingham Palace inside?

Don’t worry – despite the bullish nature of David Yates’ recent statement, it seems unlikely that anything will actually come of the project, certainly not within the 3 years that he is apparently aiming at. The truth is that movie projects are announced every day, only to be caught in development hell for years. The 1996 TV Movie starring Paul McGann was the end product of 11 years of development, during which time the TV show was shelved and the project ended up on the box itself, rather than the silver screen.

However this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take note. Back in early 2010 Billie Piper was asked about a movie while being interviewed on Radio 1, and revealed that as far as she was aware, “they’re doing it”. This indicates a long-term interest in taking the Time Lord to the big screen, regardless of having any personnel attached to the project.

This changed this week when David Yates – director of the last four Harry Potter movies – announced that he was working with Jane Tranter on a movie. Tranter, of course, is the woman who kickstarted the show’s return back in 2003, so her intentions in this field have precedent. Yates is the first person to have been connected with any Doctor Who movie project since then, which is why the announcement is significant.

To those hearing Doctor Who movie rumours, it’s just the same rumours which have been going round for years. Nothing’s currently happening!

While some might feel that Doctor Who Magazine’s own feelings on this (via the Tweet above) might be a case of sour grapes for not being able to report the news themselves, we reckon that this attitude is unfair. Rumours have been circling for years now of a new time travelling movie adventure, and while DWM might have overlooked the significance of a name being attached for the first time, there is every likelihood that they were simply taken aback by anyone actually stating involvement at this early stage.

Indeed, Yates’ announcement might have been an attempt to revive BBC interest in a project that might be flagging due to economic concerns, for instance.

Off Twitter for a few hours and the Doctor Who world explodes. There’s always talk of a movie. Perhaps? Maybe one day. But not right now!

As you may know, Edward Russell is the Doctor Who brand manager, so he’s likely to be aware of any greenlit projects to take the TARDIS to Hollywood.

As for the Grand Moff – well, he responded in his own inimitable style.

Announcing my personal moonshot, starting from scratch. No money, no plan, no help from NASA. But I know where the moon is – I’ve seen it.

One can imagine that the team in Cardiff spend a few minutes checking with everyone potentially involved (possibly with some concern) only to be told that there was nothing doing. Nothing else can account for one of the funniest lines on Twitter in the past few days.

However, let’s just throw it back to David Yates. After all, he started all of this.

“We’re going to spend two to three years to get it right. It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.”

I don’t know about you, but having seen Voyage of the Damned and various Doctor Who two parters over the years (Human Nature to name but one) there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this award-winning director hasn’t got the faintest notion of what he is talking about. Discarding the current cast or ignoring a previous lead actor is one thing, but ignoring the fact that the TV show reboots itself with each regeneration/change of producer is missing one of the core elements of the source material.

Doctor Who does not need a radical transformation to take it to the big screen. A quick look at the TV Movie as an example of what goes wrong when you try to play to a different audience proves this. All that is needed is a good story, a strong lead, and the rest will take care of itself.

After all, this is how Doctor Who has lasted 50 years. Let’s keep the show on TV and make sure it lasts another 50.


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About the Author


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+.

13 Responses to Truth About Those Movie Rumours

  1. avatar Amorette says:

    When I heard a who movie was announced after all the years of speculation I was thrilled…for about 5 mins. No it does not need an over haul to make it big in the cinema. It has a huge fan base spanning generations and if anyone thinks otherwise they haven’t a clue what they’re on about and certainly shouldn’t be incharge of anything who related. David Tennant has always been open in his interest to star in a movie and I’m quite positive the audience would back the casting. I just hope it doesnt get turned into some yank spin off that puts a shadow on the name of Who.

  2. avatar Rick Lundeen says:

    Like I said, probably no need to worry about this situation for years.

  3. avatar Bob James says:

    A nice, cool, rational response (quite unlike any of mine) to this latest gust of wind, which is probably just that. Nicely done and thank you much Christian Cawley.

  4. avatar Simon says:


    When I heard there might be another Doctor Who movie, following all the prior “failures”, I actually thought it would be really far-fetched.

    But does that mean there won’t be a reboot? Probably not. Time Lords have 13 lives, so the only way to keep the show going is a) to break the rules – which most fanatical fans will never be happy with in a million years – or b) to reboot the old show and play an actor who cas pass for William Hartnell. That’s all there is to it.

    • avatar Maxtible Crust says:

      doesn’t a time lord have 300 and something regenerations or some similar number, whatever it was the 11th told Clyde in ‘Death of the Doctor’?

    • avatar TonyS says:

      I agree with Simon that if the film breaks the rules the fabatical fans will never be happy. But that, I am afraid, is in the nature of fanatical fans. Sometimes it is best to ignore the fans. John Nathan Turner tried to satisfy the fans. The problem was that he alienated the general public to a greater or lesser degree. A programme can be TOO continuity conscious. When RTD started the new series 11 years ago, I believe he said that he was not aiming at the fans, because they would watch anyway.

  5. The only way I can think of a suitable “reinterpretation” wouldn’t be a reinterpretation at all that contradicts the TV Dctor Who…

    There are so many years of the 1st Doctor adventures that we don’t know about before William Hartnell came to the screens. We don’t know exactly how he stole the TARDIS (or how she stole him…) and there’s hundred’s of years of adventures BEFORE the TARDIS became fixed as a police box as well…

  6. avatar TonyS says:

    Time Lords could regenerate a maximum of 12 times. But that was when there were still Time Lords around to keep an eye on things. Now the Doctor is (supposedly) the last Time Lord, all bets are off. He told Clyde that he could have 507 different faces. But, to quote River Song, “the Doctor lies”.

    I am sure that we don’t need to worry that we will only get two mores Doctors.After all, the Master had used up all his regenerations and they brought him back…

  7. avatar FrankD says:

    A movie would be a success if the story was told from the beginning on Gallifrey. How and why the Doctor stole the Tardis and skiped out on the TimeLords with his grandaughter in tow. Obviously he was married and had a child of his own. You can use any actor you want and make the Tardis look any way you want. It could flow right into the beginning of the TV series in 1963.

  8. avatar Alex says:

    I don’t follow Twitter so I never actually had a chance to see DWM’s comments on the matter until last night and I trust them to have the finger on the pulse. This sounds like nothing different than the Spielberg-to-direct reports from the mid-1990s, and that project eventually evolved into the Fox TV movie that, good or bad, was at least still connected to the canon.

    What I don’t like about this current round is that it’s given people licence to launch a fresh round of Davies and Moffat and Smith bashing. (And more than a few posts I’ve seen where people have basically made a blanket statement that Doctor Who 1963-2011 sucks anyway and someone should start over.) That’s probably more damaging to the fandom than the in-fighting over whether a movie that may or may not ever be made will keep to the canon or not.

  9. avatar Ian O'Brien says:

    I feel re-assured, thanks Christian :)

  10. avatar stlshawn says:

    Four words: “Red Dwarf, The Movie”
    (How long has that been a rumor?, then happening, then not, then maybe, then probably, then not)

  11. Can’t wait for this movie, sounds like it’s going to be awesome.

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