Billie Piper – 50% of next series?

News is building up again as we begin the far-too-short (three weeks!) approach into the new series. The show is naturally holding up against what would otherwise be considerd strong competition from ITV – the first X-Men movie attaining 3.2m viewers against Doctor Who’s 6.1m (note these are the overnight figures).

Meanwhile, Digital Spy reports that delicious companion Billie Piper is to appear in 7 episodes of the second series, allegedly at a cost of £120,000 to the BBC! More than worth it, and as licence fee payers we’re more than happy to contribute…

The Guardian’s Rupert Smith has declared Doctor Who one of “the two best programmes of 2005…” in his article Saturday night’s all right. Not only does Smith threaten to eat his Freeview box is Saturday nights get any better, he also had this to say:

Doctor Who (Saturday, BBC1) was the conclusion of the spooky wartime story about demonic children with integral gasmasks, and it elevated an already great series into the realms of art. It unravelled like a dream, with a zombie army staggering around saying, “Are you my mummy?”, while the protagonists had a habit of suddenly rematerialising in totally different surroudings. There were golden clouds of “nanogenes”, which older readers would describe as “trippy”. It was very reminiscent of the show’s 60s and 70s heyday, that bizarre collision of upright Englishness and outright psychedelia, all mind-expanding crystals and flesh-eating giant maggots.

In the fairytale conclusion, the terrifying child of part one was revealed as a heartbreaking blond angel, there was a nice dig at the moral right (the teenage mum was the best parent of the piece) and some great comedy involving an old lady whose missing leg “grew back” in the hospital. The Doctor even slipped in a cheer for the welfare state; you just don’t get this sort of thing in British TV any more. By the end of the show, the Doctor had acquired his first ever openly bisexual travelling companion in the well-groomed shape of Captain Jack (John Barrowman). The Tardis really is the fun place to be these days.

In book news, PNOnline have reported that the first batch of three Doctor Who books – The Clockwise Man (by Justin Richards), The Monsters Inside (Stephen Cole) and Winner Takes All (Jacqueline Rayner) – along with Justin Richards’ Monsters and Villains, were reprinted before official release. Following an initial print run of 100,000, a further 75,000 were printed before the official release date of Thursday 26th May.

Jon Howells, Press and Communications Manager for Ottakar’s, told PN

“They’re very, very successful, which isn’t surprising considering the publicity and reviews that Doctor Who has had… They’ve had great sales, and I think that will continue.”

And finally, international news… “Dacter Who” is how Koreans will be referring to the world’s favourite show very soon! Next weekend, the KBS2 network will see the premier of Doctor Who 2005.

In the words of the Daily Telegraph:

Pagishikinda! Pagishikinda! This is the blood-curdling cry of the world’s first Korean-speaking Dalek.

Jungwon Lee, Executive Director of KBS:

“We are very excited to launch Dr Who on the network. We anticipate a great reaction from all age groups.”

This is of course fantastic news to all concerned, and should guarantee the series for at least 5 years:

It has also been sold to some of the world’s biggest airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand who will begin broadcasting it from next month.

The BBC, which now makes more money from selling formats than actual shows, had feared that the programme’s distinctly British feel might put off overseas viewers. In fact, the reverse has turned out to be the case.

The corporation has not released an exact figure for how much the sales will net. Industry observers, however, believe that the brand could be worth more than £70 million worldwide when merchandising is included.


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