Lots of activity in the Whoniverse in the last week or so.
That sound you can hear is the massed ranks of old-school Whovians, many of whom are already less than happy that someone young enough to be their son is going to be The Doctor, sharpening their knives, ready to thrust them through the new Doc’s two hearts.
He told Doctor Who Magazine: “I wasn’t a Who fan. I have to be honest – I can’t claim to have watched the show in its entirety or have been a follower as avidly as some people are. That’s what I’m realising – that people love this show, people are avid, avid fans of it, and know it, and know its history and are part of it.
“I can’t claim to know it as well as that, but I’m going to make it my business to do so, and fall into it in as much depth as I possibly can.”
Full marks for honesty there – but as he will not only be replacing a very popular actor (David Tennant) in a very popular role, but also one who from the off made no secret of who much the show and the character meant to him throughout his life and what an honour and a dream come true it was to land the role… well, Smith isn’t making it easy on himself to win over the doubters with unguarded comments such as this.
Also in the “not helping” column was the news, reported by The Daily Mirror and subsequently picked up by most other newspapers, that beloved British actor Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly, Doc Martin) had been the first choice to take over from Tennant, but had turned down the role after failing to agree a fee.
However, careful reading of the article shows that it is one of those spurious celebrity stories, beloved of understaffed, copy-hungry national newspapers, where the only source is a mysterious, unnamed “insider”.
Furthermore, even allowing for that, the only “fact” that appears to have any basis in reality is that Clunes was originally lined up to take the role of “The Next Doctor” in the most recent Christmas special, a role eventually played by David Morrissey and one which was deliberately meant to misdirect fans waiting to discover Tennant’s replacement and was never going to be played by an actor who had any chance of getting the permanent role. All of which was conveniently ignored by the Mirror and all the other papers who ran with the “story”.
Another story from the anonymous insider (this time in The Sun– he/she gets around) but one that has a certain logic to it so I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand, is that Freema Agyeman will return as Martha Jones for one of this year’s remaining four special episodes.
Our insider friend said: “Freema’s on board. It’s early days so it’s unclear what exactly Martha will be up to in the new show. Whatever happens it’s good news for Freema and shows that whatever friction there was between her and Who bosses has gone.”
That “friction” refers to reports that producer Russell T Davies was unhappy when Agyeman joined the cast of Law & Order: UK, a forthcoming British spin off from a long-running US show, forcing him to scrap plans for her to join Who spin-off Torchwood.
There’s no official confirmation in the Sun article but, given that another return by Billie Piper as Rose seems highly unlikely, having Agyeman return to see off Tennant’s Doc would provide a sense of his reign as the Doctor coming full circle, rounding off her story and clearing the deck for Smith’s brand new era.
Definitely NOT coming back however, it seems, is Noel Clarke ‘s Mickey Smith. Clarke told thelondonpaper he is looking forward to seeing Matt Smith’s Doctor, adding: “I can sit back and watch it as a fan, as I won’t be appearing in any more episodes.”
One beloved character definitely making a return is K-9, who is coming out of exile in a cupboard in Sarah Jane Smith’s attic, where he has been keeping a black hole closed (don’t ask). He’ll appear regularly in the third season Doctor Who kids’ show spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Producer Nikki Smith told Doctor Who Magazine: “K-9 won’t be in every single episode. Right now, we estimate he’ll appear in approximately six of the 12 episodes.”
Over at the more grown-up side of the Whoniverse, a trailer for season three of Torchwood has been released. The show has been promoted from BBC2 and the five-part single-story serial – titled Children Of Earth – will air on five consecutive nights on BBC1, probably in March or April.
Back in the main show, details have emerged about who the Doctor’s foes will be in the next special episode, The Planet Of The Dead, which is due to air at Easter on BBC1.
They are called the Tritovore and are described (guess who by? Yep, our mysterious insider!) as “half-human, half-fly”.
The insider said: “They are disgusting and will last long in the memory,”and added that producers hope that the Tritovore would become as iconic as the Daleks and the Cybermen.
“Everyone remembers the Daleks and the Cyberman, but not a lot else if they’re honest. The Tritovore will change that. Scriptwriters are confident they’ll make a huge impact.”
Not a lot else? How about The Master? The Sontarans? The Yeti? The Silurians, the Ice Warriors, The Autons, Omega, the Rani..?
In any case, the Choob will eat his blog if anyone even remembers these human flies 46 years from now, never mind them becoming as iconic as the Daleks and the Cybermen.
And finally, if you have a shiny new high-definition plasma-screen TV, you’ll be happy to know Planet Of The Dead is the first episode of Doctor Who to be filmed and broadcast in HD.