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The star taking Dr Who to a new dimension (2004)

2004-03-20 Daily Telegraph.jpg

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DR WHO will return to television in the guise of Christopher Eccleston, an actor best known for playing angst-ridden heroes or menacing bad guys.

Eccleston, 40, whose credits include the television crime drama Cracker and films such as Jude, Elizabeth and. Shallow Grave, follows in the footsteps of such legendary Time Lords as Patrick Troughton, John Pertwee and Tom Baker.

A dozen actors, including Bill Nighy, Alan Davies, Richard E Grant and Eddie Izzard, had been linked with the part after The Daily Telegraph revealed the show's return last September.

But yesterday Eccleston signed a deal that will make him the ninth incarnation of the Time Lord since the series began 41 years ago.

He is a surprising choice. The intense actor — who claimed recently he found it hard to find the sort of earthy, political scripts that interest him — will be a radical departure for the time-travelling character, who has generally been played as an aristocratic eccentric.

With his brooding looks and gruff, Mancunian on-screen persona, Eccleston was the scheming Duke of Norfolk in Elizabeth, a psychopath in Shallow Grave and Iago in a version of Othello set in a police headquarters.

However, the executive-producer and main writer of the new Dr Who series, Russell T Davies, has said he wants to "introduce the character to a modern audience".

A BBC insider said yesterday: "It's a very unusual choice and most people will be surprised. But he's a quality actor and he's going to propel Dr Who into the 21st century.

"Christopher's quite edgy and we wanted to get away from the foppish image and find a more modern hero."

The classic drama series, which ran from 1963 to 1989, with a brief reincarnation for a film in 1996, has been pulled out of retirement by the BBC1 controller Lorraine Heggessey to become a fixture of Saturday early evening viewing once more.

Davies will write eight of the 13-part series. A string of writers — all of them Dr Who fans — are working on the other episodes. They include Mark Gatiss, one of the stars and creators of the BBC comedy The League of Gentlemen, and Steven Moffatt, who wrote the comedy series Coupling.

Eccleston has links with at least two of the writers — he played the "Son of God" (from Manchester) in Davies's award-winning ITV drama Second Coming and made a guest appearance in The League of Gentlemen.

Despite fears over Davies's credentials — he wrote the sexually explicit Channel 4 drama Queer As Folk as well as Bob And Rose, an ITV drama about a homosexual man falling for a straight woman — the BBC claims that he was chosen because he is a Dr Who "fanatic" and will not subvert a family entertainment drama.

Dr Who purists have not been cheered by BBC claims that the character "will be brought into the 21st century", nor by Davies's suggestion that the doctor — who is not human — will lose his ascetic character and might even fall in love.

The BBC has yet to cast the Doctor's sidekick in the new series — Rose Tyler, a fiesty young woman who engages in flirty sexual banter with him.

The identity of the Doctor's enemies also remains unclear. The BBC says the series will field a mix of old and new monsters but is refusing to say whether the likes of the Cybermen, the Sea Devils or the Master will return.

Clearly, no Dr Who would be complete without the Daleks, the war-like master race that conquered most of the Paul galaxy but still had a problem with stairs.

The BBC is in negotiations over the Daleks with the estate of the late Terry Nation, the creator of the series, which also owns the copyright to the Dr Who theme tune.

Jane Tranter, the BBC controller of drama commissioning, said Eccleston would play an "overtly modern hero". She added: "We are delighted to have cast an actor of such calibre in one of British television's most iconic roles.

"It signals our intention to take Dr Who into the 21st century as well as retaining its core traditional values to be surprising, edgy and eccentric."

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  • APA 6th ed.: Leonard, Tom (2004-03-20). The star taking Dr Who to a new dimension. The Daily Telegraph p. 3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Leonard, Tom. "The star taking Dr Who to a new dimension." The Daily Telegraph [add city] 2004-03-20, 3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Leonard, Tom. "The star taking Dr Who to a new dimension." The Daily Telegraph, edition, sec., 2004-03-20
  • Turabian: Leonard, Tom. "The star taking Dr Who to a new dimension." The Daily Telegraph, 2004-03-20, section, 3 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The star taking Dr Who to a new dimension | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/The_star_taking_Dr_Who_to_a_new_dimension | work=The Daily Telegraph | pages=3 | date=2004-03-20 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 July 2017 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=The star taking Dr Who to a new dimension | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/The_star_taking_Dr_Who_to_a_new_dimension | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 July 2017}}</ref>