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Master Behind Dr Who

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COULD time be running out for TV's favourite Time Lord? David Tennant is preparing to hang up his sonic screwdriver and vacate the Tardis, according to Doctor Who supremo Russell T Davies.

And given that Russell - a lifelong fan of Doctor Who - was the driving force behind reviving the sci-fi series after 16 years, he should know.

The 45-year-old executive producer and scriptwriter has dropped his biggest hint yet that Scottish actor Tennant is on his way.

Given that 10 million viewers are expected to watch tonight's gripping climax to the fourth series, called Journey's End, you'd think that losing the show's top star would be a disaster. But Russell believes otherwise. In fact, he reckons the show could be even bigger without Tennant.

"I love David and he is brilliant, but I was a child when Jon Pertwee handed over to Tom Baker," says Russell, in an exclusive interview with the Mirror.

"I was 11 when Jon Pertwee left and it broke my heart. But then along came Tom and he was just spectacular in it, so I suspect that will happen again.

"Me and David will probably sit there laughing saying: 'You're old news now, mate!'

"People worried when we went from Chris Eccleston to David. But we change our cast every year and our viewing figures go up. It just proves that Doctor Who is bigger than any actor.

"I couldn't say David was the best Doctor ever because you are talking to an old Doctor Who fan, and I love them all."

He particularly loves tonight's explosive finale - so much so that he has watched it 15 times. In this, Russell is especially privileged in knowing what actually happens to the Time Lord, the Daleks and mankind. Few other eyes have even seen it once, in an attempt to keep the ending secret.

"There are probably about 10 of us who have watched it - including David, who was cast as the 10th Doctor in 2005, and Catherine Tate. And that's about it.

"The Controller of BBC1 has not even seen it, or the Head of Drama, because it's been locked away. But I have seen it about 15 times.

"I'm busy at the moment, but I had an hour off yesterday at 3pm and I watched it again because it is such an exciting episode. And I will be watching it on Saturday night at home in Manchester with my boyfriend.

"It is pure Doctor Who and so mad. You are watching it thinking, 'Star Trek can't do this! Even Star Wars can't do this.'

"All those things have spaceships and monsters, but this has a temp from Chiswick played by Catherine Tate, and Billie Piper with a great big gun.

"We have got Freema (Agyeman), who gets a remarkable story, and some of her best material ever. It plays to Doctor Who's strength.

"It was a huge adventure last week with David regenerating and that was just the start. It is going to go up and up from there.

"The Doctor is in danger, the companions are in danger, the earth is in danger and the Tardis is in terrible danger. I think it is the most exciting episode we have ever produced."

One thing is for sure, a lead character will meet a grim end, following a prophecy on last week's episode. Russell says that the actor in question was told during a conversation a few months ago, rather than reading it in the script for the first time.

And he hints that more than one star may take a break after tonight.

"You want a happy ending, but if only life was that simple," he says. "There are about five endings. Everyone gets some sort of ending and for some characters there is the feeling of a new start.

"One or two are left in the air but some have been 'parked' in case writers want to use them in the future and there is a nice proper ending.

"In fact, I have had parents asking me if it is safe for young children to watch.

"There are some heartbreaking moments and a beautifully sad bit, but there is nothing violent or vicious that you need to worry about."

Welsh-born Russell, the son of teachers, plans to leave Doctor Who himself at the end of four 60-minute specials - the first will be shown at Christmas and the rest over the course of next year. But he is finding it very hard to give it all up.

He says: "Children come up to me, especially in Cardiff, and tell me their favourite monsters and that is a joy.

"They are fizzing with excitement - that is the highlight of bringing the show back.

"Lot of people said we wouldn't get kids watching, saying they've moved on. And we proved them wrong. The show connects with people and it's fun.

"There is always that element of escapism with science fiction, but we have also had things to say about serious issues, such as Iraq and women's body sizes.

"I'm very proud of it because I've loved it all my life. If Doctor Who is on my headstone that would be great. So be it."

Someone else who is very proud of Russell's achievements is his dad, who was chuffed to bits when his son was awarded an OBE in the Queen's recent honours list.

Russell says: "That came out of the blue. It made my father really happy and that is why I accepted it really.

"He is 83 and blind, and not a lot of things make him happy, but that made his year.

"He won't come along with me to get it because it would be difficult for him but I will take it home for him to see, or should I say feel. And he will love that.

"I don't know if the Queen is a fan, but I hope she is - and we did save Buckingham Palace last Christmas."

Before Doctor Who, Russell hit the headlines with C4's controversial gay drama Queer As Folk and the BBC's raunchy Casanova. And he already has lots of plans for the future, including starting work on a brand new series at Christmas.

"I have got about 27 ideas boiling in my head and that is the main reason why I've left," he says. "I love Doctor Who and I never want to go off it or get bored. Right now I want to go and work on series five, but I know that means it is the right time to leave.

"I get a lot of people who want me to come and make a family drama for them. But having done Doctor Who I have done the best - anything else would pale in comparison.

"I have almost got to go and do adult stuff, something a bit cheeky or sexy.

"I will just see which thing comes to the front of my mind first and start with that."

I think tonight's episode is the most exciting we've done - I've seen it 15 times!

David is brilliant and I love him but Dr Who is bigger than any actor

16.1m Highest ever viewing figure for the Dr Who, during the ITV network strike of 1979.

THE final episode of this series of Doctor Who is on BBC1 tonight at 6.40pm.

GRAPHIC: GLAMOROUS ASSISTANTS Martha (Freema) and Rose (Billie); EYE SPY Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies Picture: HARRY PAGE; COMPELLING The Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate)

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  • APA 6th ed.: Jefferies, Mark (2008-07-05). Master Behind Dr Who. The Mirror p. 16.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Jefferies, Mark. "Master Behind Dr Who." The Mirror [add city] 2008-07-05, 16. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Jefferies, Mark. "Master Behind Dr Who." The Mirror, edition, sec., 2008-07-05
  • Turabian: Jefferies, Mark. "Master Behind Dr Who." The Mirror, 2008-07-05, section, 16 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Master Behind Dr Who | url= | work=The Mirror | pages=16 | date=2008-07-05 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=15 April 2024 }}</ref>
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