US Sci-Fi Channel does massive U-turn and buys Doctor Who

David Tennant in a kilt

Wouldn’t have mentioned this except for

a) the great way the BBC announced it (sound needed, but you’ll get annoyed after about a minute)

b) the Sci-Fi channel turned down the chance last year because they watched a few episodes and “found the series somewhat lacking and didn’t think it would fit into the network’s schedule”

I’m guessing the change of mind came about since there was a definite pick-up in story quality in the second half of last year’s season, because it’s now a success and because David Tennant is due very soon. Plus how many rubbish B-movies can you fill a schedule with before you start to put off your educated 30+ demographic? Anyone for Mansquito 2? Thought not. Better get some decent shows in instead then, hadn’t you Sci-Fi?


Review: Doctor Who – The Christmas Invasion

The Christmas Invasion
Did everyone watch the Christmas episode of Doctor Who? I know 9.4 million of you did, so fess up. What did you think? I actually thought it was rather good. A couple of embarrassing moments at the beginning, but other than that, I really enjoyed it.

Heresy though it seems to be these days, I didn’t like the first season of the new Whos. Christopher Eccleston was good at the intense and miserable stuff (QFS!) but couldn’t pull off the lighter stuff at all. He clearly thought it was all beneath him: certainly if you caught any of the Doctor Who Confidentials (what can I say? I’m a sucker for a behind-the-scenes documentary. I even listen to the audio commentaries on DVDs, sitting through all three of the Se7en voice-overs), you’ll recall him saying “he didn’t need to get out his Stanislavsky” for the role.

Most of the scripts were equally toe-curling and there was more than a hint of “Oh my God! They’ve given us a budget but we don’t know what we’re doing! Help! Help!” in the earlier episodes. Given that the exec producer, Russell T Davies, is more than capable of writing drama for children that’s also suitable for adults – as anyone who watched Dark Season or Century Falls in the early 90s can attest – it’s a surprise that he went with fart jokes, belching dustbins and slapstick as a way to bring the kids in. Still, what do I know? Look what the ratings were.

Anyway, as a result of all this childishness, I never bothered to make a date for most of the episodes.

‘The Christmas Invasion’, however, is probably the first of the new Whos that I would want to watch again. Everything worked. David Tennant, with toned-down London accent, was very good, maybe needing a little more gravitas at times, but excellent for the most part. The script was good, with no fart gags and no tiresome deus ex Piper at the end: the Doctor actually earned his victories this time round. There was also a darker edge to it that hinted at a more adult tone for the show.

The trailer at the end of the episode has made me eager for more, which is something I wasn’t expecting. Curses. I really don’t want to be a Doctor Who fan. Don’t do this to me!


Kaiser front man offered role of Doctor Who?

David Tennant as the Doctor

Ah. More reasons to hate those twats in the Kaiser Chiefs (about whose pretentious, self-love I’ve already written). Now lead singer Ricky claims he was offered the role of Doctor Who. I suspect there’s a certain amount of tongue in cheek here.

“The BBC offered it to me but I was so busy they got a lookalike. It’s the kind of thing I’ve got down for my autumn years.”

But he goes on:

“I’m worried David [Tennant]’s too young for the part. Eddie Izzard would be perfect.”

If he’d stopped at the first quote, he’d just have been cheeky. A twat, but cheeky. But he didn’t know where to stop. He crossed the line from cheeky to rude. Can the next person who sees him give him a thumping? (It might be construed that I’ve written this article just to come up with a thin pretext for people to beat up the Kaiser Chiefs. I couldn’t possibly comment…)

Incidentally, following on from yesterday’s discussions about it being who you know, not necessarily what you can do, that gets you the job, it should, to a certain extent, be clear that Mr Tennant got his job through the exact same mechanisms that Charlie Skelton did in Space Cadets. Not to diminish his acting skills, etc, since he’s a fine actor and does one of the better mockney accents I’ve heard, but

  1. He appeared in Casanova, which was exec produced by Russell T Davies, who is the exec producer of Doctor Who. He replaced Christopher Eccleston, who appeared in Davies’ Second Coming for ITV1.
  2. Tennant says “I did a show that he’d written, called Casanova, at the end of last year, so I knew him through that. And, I guess, unbeknownst to me, that was my audition. So it just came up after that, I guess, when they knew that Chris Eccleston was moving on. They just came to me and asked me to do it.”
  3. He’s been up to his neck in Doctor Who work for years, through the Big Finish audio plays. Russell T Davies is a big fan of these, using their writers in his own show and mentioning them in his own stories and articles from time to time.

Anyway, my point isn’t that this is necessarily a bad thing, only that this is how the industry works.

PS David Tennant’s been a Doctor Who fan from way back. Despite his playing it down somewhat in this interview (search for ‘Doctor Who’), I hear from sources that he’s able to list every single Doctor Who story in order. Not too difficult for a Doctor Who fan: I’ve met many who can do this quite easily, although I never hung around long enough to hear the full 27 seasons’ worth. However, the earliest stories only had episode titles on screen, not story names. Given that ‘The Dalek Masterplan’, for example, had 12 episodes, each with its own title, you’ll immediately spot that that’s a whole lot more learning and obsession to deal with. Tennant can apparently list even these episodes in order, which I’ve never seen anyone do. I think I’d be frightened.


The Ace of Wine

Pandora at The Independent has revealed the delightful news that Lemmy from Motorhead wants to cameo in Last of the Summer Wine.

“For some reason, we got talking about TV, and Lemmy said that the only thing worth watching these days was Last of the Summer Wine,” I’m told. “He watches it every time he can, and has asked for a cameo as a chum of a character called Clegg.”

As cameos go, that’s up there with the entire series of Extras and Elisabeth Sladen in the next series of Doctor Who. I might actually watch BBC1 for once if Jim fixes it for Lemmy.