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Dr Who's flying circus

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1994-05-22 Mail.jpg


MONTY Python star Eric Idle is to play the world's most famous time traveller in a Steven Spielberg version of Dr Who.

He will enter the Tardis with Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson as his assistant and Peter O'Toole as his father in the multi-million-pound television series The New Adventures Of Dr Who.

Spielberg approached Idle, 51, who enjoyed huge success in America with the film Nuns On The Run, thinking he would appeal to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

Idle, who appears in Spielberg's new film, Casper The Friendly Ghost, is expected to earn £34,000 for each episode of the £20 million series. Filming is due to start in California in July.

The British director of Thelma And Louise, Ridley Scott, has been asked to handle the pilot programme.

The BBC axed Dr Who in 1989 after 26 years. Ratings had slumped from 16 million to four million. It was the world's longest-running science fiction series and had a maximum audience of 110 million in 70 countries.

Spielberg's original choice for the role was British actor Alan Rickman, who stole the show from Kevin Costner when he played the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. But Rickman did not want to commit himself to 30 episodes in America.

Idle will become the eighth actor to have played the Doctor. The BBC character was port-rayed by William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy.

Dr Who Magazine assistant editor Marcus Hearn admitted that Rickman was the favourite candidate among the publication's 31,000 readers because 'he could have brought out the darker, mysterious side of the Doctor'.

But he said last night: 'Eric Idle could be a great success. Jon Pertwee was one of the most successful actors in the role and he came from the radio comedy The Navy Lark.' Idle was in California last night. His agent Paul Lyon-Maris said: 'It's between him and Spielberg, and I haven't done any negotiations.'


Michael Palin, a fellow ex-Python said: 'Eric would be a spiffing Dr Who - he has a youthful quality though he's middle-aged. He's mischievous like Dr Who, and he'd look great in a scarf.'

The series is a co-production between the BBC, Universal Television and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television. The BBC expects to reap 'a significant advantage' from the expected £66 million merchandising sales. It will retain ownership of the Dr Who character and benefit from a follow-up Dr Who movie.

GRAPHIC: TIME WARP: Eric Idle and Pamela Anderson are to star in a Steven Spielberg remake of Dr Who

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  • APA 6th ed.: Nathanson, Paul (1994-05-22). Dr Who's flying circus. The Mail on Sunday p. 1.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Nathanson, Paul. "Dr Who's flying circus." The Mail on Sunday [add city] 1994-05-22, 1. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Nathanson, Paul. "Dr Who's flying circus." The Mail on Sunday, edition, sec., 1994-05-22
  • Turabian: Nathanson, Paul. "Dr Who's flying circus." The Mail on Sunday, 1994-05-22, section, 1 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Dr Who's flying circus | url= | work=The Mail on Sunday | pages=1 | date=1994-05-22 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=1 July 2022 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Dr Who's flying circus | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=1 July 2022}}</ref>