Published on August 28th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley
Back in 2003, The Scream of the Shalka was (the then) BBC Online’s attempt to produce a 40th anniversary story. Eventually starring Richard E. Grant, Sophie Okonedo and Derek Jacobi (later nuWho’s Great Intelligence, Liz 10 and Professor Yana/The Master), the finished story is an interesting rebirth for the ongoing Doctor Who text – one that was ultimately overwritten (albeit retaining certain elements) by Russell T Davies’ revived TV series.
But before Grant was cast, occasional Take That vocalist Robbie Williams – then Britain’s biggest singing star – was apparently considered and approached, as related in the extra titled Carry on Screaming (appropriate given the various problems the production experienced).
Says writer Paul Cornell:
Because we were reaching for the mainstream, I actually thought, ‘He’s one of the most famous people in Britain’ – it would actually get us an enormous kick of attention.
Producer James Goss, who presents the documentary, adds:
Think about it – if you really wanted to bring Doctor Who to a whole new audience, it would have been the most popular, talked-about thing the BBC website ever did.
The Scream of the Shalka and its now-alternative Ninth Doctor is something of a fascinating footnote in Doctor Who history – but what might have happened if Robbie Williams had been cast? Could it have scuppered the upcoming TV series?