“I’m the new new Doctor!”

Thursday, March 30, 2006 by

As expected, the papers are full of Doctor Who stuff today now we’ve passed the embargo date for news from the Cardiff launch. Naturally, then, I can’t resist adding my own thoughts to the rage of info pouring through.

So, where to start? Well, let’s talk about the actual screening itself. As per “The Christmas Invasion” press day, it was somehow a given that every mention of the cast or crew in Menna Richards (Controller, BBC Wales) and Jane Tranter’s speeches were met with applause… except for – tellingly – Christopher Eccleston. Yesterday’s man!

“New Earth” itself started and ended with more cheering, but upon speaking to various journos on the night, I have to say it got a mixed reaction. Mixed, in that the people I collared immediately afterwards felt it was disappointing, insubstantial and – yes – featured a poor denouement, but a lovely tag scene. Nevertheless, those I spoke to at the very arse-end of the evening were fulsome in their praise. And everyone agreed the three-minute trailer for series two looked brilliant.

Inevitably, here comes My Two Cents: I thought it was pretty below par, and felt more like an episode seven than a series opener. I couldn’t escape the impression Russell T Davies (who wrote this one) was more interested in the episode’s B-story (Cassandra’s emotional journey) than the A-story (plague-carrying zombie-alikes). Thus, the latter was dispatched with a sloppy, unsatisfying resolution, the like of which the show was criticised for last year. Shame. Think “The Long Game” or “Boom Town”; that’s pretty much where I’d pitch it.

Oh, and some of the special effects were decidedly ropey, although there was some nostalgic frisson in seeing a matting line visible around a cat person’s head.

The episode was followed by two separate press conferences. Downstairs, David Tenant and Billie Piper met the national daily papers and regionals (from whence all of today’s quotes came from), while, back in the screening room, RTD took on the mid week-magazines and Sunday nationals. Which is where I found myself.

As expected, this was an enjoyable session, with RTD hinting there are still a couple of icons from the old series he’d like to bring back. I’ll pop up a couple of quotes on here when I get the time. Then, he disappeared downstairs and – clutching a small bottle of champagne – David and Billie took their turn. Inevitably, questions flew regarding the scene in which the Doctor and Rose lock lips.

“I think it’s like all these relationships,” said David. “Like Mulder and Scully and Moonlighting, you know. Moonlightingjumped the shark when they got together, didn’t it? I think you have to be very careful. Which doesn’t mean to say that we don’t see the relationship developing and becoming something that it maybe hasn’t before. But I think you have to be very careful with those things.”

Meanwhile, Billie revealed she had no plans to jump ship just yet (“Yes, I’m sticking with the Who“) while David, after some prompting, exhibited his fannish knowledge (“Kasterborous” he muttered, when challenged to name Gallifrey’s constellation).

And, well, lots of other stuff.

As for the evening itself, it was fun. All the cast – bar the Doctor and Rose – milled around at the bar afterwards. Mark Gatiss chatted with Gareth McLean, Paul Abbott hung about mysteriously (again), and Lizo off of Newsround was accosted by TV Quick/Choice and Total TV Guide’s Jon Peake.

Most excitingly of all, Ian Levine was spotted on the premises, despite the fact a BBC crew member told me he’d heard they’d specifically posted guards on the main entrance to deny the super-fan admittance. The man cannot be denied.


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