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Doctor's appointment (2006)

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2006-04-15 TV & Satellite Week.jpg


Doctor's appointment

David Tennant's been given the keys to the Tardis, and he couldn't be more excited. As the eagerly-anticipated new series of Doctor Who begins this week, we caught up with the new Time Lord during a break in filming

What's that noise in the background? No, it's not the whirr of the Tardis landing, it's the huge buzz of anticipation surrounding the new series of Doctor Who. which starts this Saturday on BBC1.

After the successful return of the show last year with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, David Tennant made an impressive bow as the new Time Lord last Christmas. Now he takes on the role for a new 13-part series that begins with a spectacular episode featuring cat-human hybrids dressed as nuns, and a familiar foe.

A fan of the show since boyhood, the 35-year-old Tennant was delighted to land the part, but admits that playing such an iconic figure was a worrying prospect. 'I'm very aware of the history attached to this role,' says the actor, who has previously starred in Casanova and Blackpool. 'I recently watched the very first episode starring William Hartnell. It was made in 1963, but it still stands up as a great piece of storytelling.

'It's amazing to think that before I was even born, it was a phenomenon. It humbles me to be part of that lineage. Obviously, you can't let that history overwhelm you — you just have to take it in your stride.'

The Scottish actor also concedes that Eccleston was a hard act to follow. 'You think: "Everyone thinks Christopher Eccleston is great. How can I compete?" But when you're working, you just get on with it.'

In fact, Tennant has come up with a Doctor who is just as appealing but very different from Eccleston's. His Time Lord has a mischievous sense of humour and a definite twinkle in his eye. In the first episode, New Earth, written by series creator Russell T Davies, the Doctor and his companion Rose (Billie Piper) voyage further into the future than ever before.

'In the last series, they travelled to the year Five Billion,' Tennant explains. 'This time they go further, travelling to the year Five Billion and 23. Those 23 years are all-important — lots has happened in them.'

The two time-travellers arrive on what appears to be a utopian planet where all diseases are curable. But beneath the idyllic surface, a terrible secret comes to light in an episode that explores the nature of identity - an apt subject for the newly regenerated Doctor. 'That's the genius of the way Russell has re-imagined this show,' says Tennant. 'He is not afraid to grapple with big themes, but he finds a way of mooring them in emotional reality.'

As those who saw the teaser that followed the Christmas episode will know, things are about to get a lot more emotional between the Doctor and his companion. 'The relationship between Rose and the Doctor becomes more involved,' Tennant admits. 'You saw from the clip at the end of the Christmas episode that there's a bit of a snog between Rose and the Doctor in the new series. They do lock lips but it's not quite what it seems. So what happens between them? You'll just have to tune in to find out.'

Switch over to BBC3 straight after the first episode for the first in a new series of the behind-the-scenes companion show Doctor Who Confidential.

Caption: The Doctor and Rose share a kiss, but is everything as it seems?

Caption: David Tennant and Billie Piper head to the stars as the Doctor and Rose

What's in Store for the Doctor?

EPISODE 1 New Earth

Set in the year Five Billion and 23, with much of the action taking place in a hospital staffed by cat-nun hybrids, Lady Cassandra (Zoe Wanamaker) makes a reappearance, and the Doctor and Rose share a kiss. 'The kiss is a bit of a gag,' reveals Russell T Davies. 'If they ever had a relationship, it would kill the series stone dead.'

EPISODE 2 Tooth and Claw

It's 1879 and the Doctor and Rose meet Queen Victoria (Pauline Collins) on a visit to Scotland. Werewolves are on the loose, and the Doctor must protect the monarch from the Empire of the Wolf. 'There's a very British, Hammer Horror feel to the episode,' reveals Davies.

EPISODE 3 School Reunion

Former assistant Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and robot dog K9 return to help fight the shape-shifting Krillitanes, who have taken over a school. Buffy's Anthony Head plays its enigmatic headmaster. 'Sarah Jane and Rose have a bit of a bitch fight,' reveals Billie Piper.

EPISODE 4 The Girl in the Fireplace

In 18th-century France, the Doctor tries to protect Madame de Pompadour (Sophia Myles), from clockwork killers, while there's another Doctor/Rose pucker-up 'with a twist'. 'It shows a side to the Doctor you haven't seen a lot of,' says writer Steven Moffatt.

EPISODES 5 & 6 Rise of the Cybermen & The Age of Steel

The Cybermen return in a two-parter set on a parallel Earth. Only Fools and Horses' Roger Lloyd Pack guests as a Cyber Controller. 'The evil silver giants will terrify a new generation,' says producer Phil Collinson.

EPISODE 7 The Idiot's Lantern

In 1953, Britain is in a TV-buying frenzy prior to the Queen's coronation, but a curious alien presence (Maureen Lipman) affects the broadcast signal. 'This will earn me an entire year's worth of street cred,' laughs Lipman.

EPISODES 8 & 9 The Impossible Planet & The Satan Pit

In what could be Hell, the Doctor meets a man claiming to be the Devil. 'We take the Doctor and ask what he believes in,' says Davies.

EPISODE 10 Love & Monsters

Comic star Peter Kay (below) stars as the villainous Victor Kennedy. 'The more takes Peter can destroy the better,' says Tennant. 'He sees it as a badge of honour.'

EPISODE 11 Fear Her

Casanova star Nina Sosanya guests in an episode set at the London 2012 Olympics. 'It fulfils the idea that the Doctor could appear in your street,' says writer Matthew Graham.

EPISODES 12 & 13 Army of Ghosts and Doomsday

Earth is at war in the finale and the Cybermen are rumoured to make a reappearance. EastEnders' Tracy-Ann Oberman plays the head of an evil organisation. 'It's the best last episode you'll ever see,' promises Davies.

Spelling correction: Stephen Moffat


K9 returns to assist the Doctor in School Reunion

The mysterious cat-nuns show their claws In New Earth

New villain Peter Kay won't be smiling in Love & Monsters

The Doctor's ancient foes the Cybermen make an unwelcome return

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