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Dr Who: now to be on film

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1988-11-26 Sunderland Echo.jpg


TO the Time Lord who is several thousand years old, it will be an anniversary hardly worth noticing, but millions of mere mortals have every intention of celebrating the fact that Dr Who, star of the world's longest running TV science-fiction series, has been on their screens for 25 years.

The first series, costing a modest £2,500 a programme, was intended to last eight weeks, and no further series were planned. But the response to the first instalment, starring William Hartnell, was so amazing that the show was repeated before the second episode was broadcast!

Since then, Dr Who has had to tackle far more serious difficulties than those posed by the Daleks and Cybermen.

The critics have periodically rounded on the show, the BBC has more than once tried to axe it, and Mrs Mary Whitehouse has attacked it, saying its adventures "have no place in children's viewing."

Even the fanatically-loyal Dr Who Appreciation Society, which has solicitors, barristers, chartered accountants, scientists and computer analysts among its 3,000 members, has complained the series has degenerated front serious science-fiction into "near-pantomime."

But the intrepid Doctor has seen off every challenge.

And to celebrate a silver jubilee reached against all odds, the writers of the new series have set the first adventure in 1963 at the start of the Swinging Sixties.

There is talk, too, of the Time Lord making another return to the big screen. There was an early film in 1965, called Doctor Who and the Daleks with the title role played by Peter Cushing.

Now, movie mogul Peter Litten is reported to have paid a staggering £7-million to the BBC for the movie rights to Doctor Who — and the search is on for the right man to take the part.

The actor currently playing him on television — and the seventh Doctor of the small screen — is 44-year-old Scottish actor, Sylvester McCoy.

He took on the role last year after a colourful early career as a pub performer — and he can still boast that he holds the world record for keeping a pair of ferrets down his trousers!

"I've only been bitten once — and that was on the finger!" he says.

According to rumour in the film world, however, McCoy is not in the running to repeat his television characterisation in the upcoming movie.

So what about the men who have played the Doctor in his previous incarnations?

The first two Doctors, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, are now dead.

Jelly babies

Then came Jon Pertwee, elegant and flamboyant, who found himself defending Earth against a host of invaders. He armed himself with a sonic screwdriver and souped-up vintage car to do battle with them.

The fourth Doctor Who was Tom Baker with unkempt hair and a long scarf, and who offered jelly babies to his opponents while outwitting them.

He was succeeded by Peter Davison, the clean-cut public-schoolboy type, who was cast to give the Doctor more of the feel of an elder brother than a father-figure.

Number six, and Sylvester McCoy's immediate predecessor, was another Baker, Colin, who relied as much on his ready tongue as his scientific know-how to escape from tight spots.

None of the five surviving Doctors has been approached about the film. In fact, there is speculation that the part will go to an American actor!

"I hope not," says Peter Nathan-Turner, lifetime fan, and producer of the television series.

Viewing figures have now doubled, and the Doctor's adventures are still followed by millions in Britain, and many more in dozens of countries throughout the world. And the Doctor Who fan clubs are as active as ever.

As the Daleks found to their cost, the Doctor seems impossible to exterminate.

Correction: John Nathan-Turner

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  • APA 6th ed.: (1988-11-26). Dr Who: now to be on film. Sunderland Echo .
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  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Dr Who: now to be on film | url= | work=Sunderland Echo | pages= | date=1988-11-26 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=7 July 2020 }}</ref>
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