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Doctor New: Catherine Tate brings new life to the Time Lord

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PROLIFIC, controversial and original in equal measure, Russell T Davies is one of the most successful writers currently working in television.

We're here to talk about the new series of Doctor Who, the fourth since Swansea-born Davies revamped the sci-fi franchise in 2005.

"I find this time, just before a new series, really scary," admits Russell. "We just want people to watch it because it's lovely. I love it!"

Until the intervention of Russell, right, it's fair to say Doctor Who's glory days were long gone.

The tenure of Sylvester McCoy, the last man to play The Doctor in a full series, wasn't held in the same regard as golden-era Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker, while after the axe in 1989 all but the most optimistic of fans had given up hope of the show ever making a return to our screens.

A whole generation of children had missed out on cowering behind the sofa when one of the Time Lord's many foes - like the infamous Daleks - appeared on screen, and knew nothing of the sometimes hammy acting and low-budget special effects devotees loved so dearly.

But there was still a great deal of affection for the character of the time travelling maverick.

"We were careful and very aware of that when we brought it back," says Russell.

"We knew there were lots of people who'd not seen it before. We were writing for them, really.

"All the elements of the show were there, the Tardis, the sonic screwdriver, but it was a clean start," he continues. "The dread was that mum and dad would sit down and watch the show, but the kids wouldn't.

"That was a very big worry at first, but I just knew if we could create that sense of event every week we'd stand a chance of being successful and getting an audience.

And I was right," he says, laughing.

The forthcoming series will see David Tennant play The Doctor once again, but he'll be joined in the Tardis by Catherine Tate. The TV funnywoman first appeared as Donna Noble in The Runaway Bride - the 2006 Christmas special. She loved the show so much she wanted to commit to a full run of the programme; something Russell thought would never happen.

"We had no idea Catherine was going to come back to us," he says.

"We couldn't believe we got her for the special really, she's so indemand. She's always busy."

Having started as a writer in the late 1980s with kids' dramas Dark Season - which featured a young Kate Winslet - and Century Falls, before moving on to Children's Ward and later the controversial and awardwinning Queer As Folk, Russell has worked with thousands of actors but still puts The Doctor's latest companion among the very best.

"She's absolutely fantastic," he says. "That's why we wanted to bring Donna back and why I wanted to write more for her.

"Seriously, when I pack my bags on Doctor Who, I will knock on Catherine's door and ask what we're doing next. She's brilliant."

Russell's praise isn't solely reserved for Catherine either.

During our chat, he talks passionately about how hard the cast and crew work on the show. Star David Tennant gets his fair share of superlatives too.

"There's a danger we don't talk about David often enough," Russell explains. "He's so powerful, and brave, and scintillating as The Doctor, there's almost a danger of him blinding everything else. That's why we have to have an equal aboard the Tardis in the companion.

Suddenly it becomes a different dynamic and we see David upping his game to compete with Catherine.

It's amazing."

Of course, getting any storylines out of Russell is impossible, but what he will say is that there's a lot to look forward to during the 13-episode run.

"Well, there's David and Catherine on screen together, which is very special indeed. As an actress, Catherine's completely devoted to David. Every year we write stuff that pushes him, because we don't want him to get bored, basically.

"We never want him to have an easy life either, so this year there's more, darker material for David, but also funny stuff for him too because he's so good at playing that.

"I can say monster race the Ood are back, plus there are various other surprises, with everything building toward the most staggering climax you will ever see!"

GRAPHIC: Russell T Davies with just one of the BAFTA awards he has won for Doctor Who

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  • APA 6th ed.: (2008-04-05). Doctor New: Catherine Tate brings new life to the Time Lord. Evening Times p. Times Out, p. 21.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Doctor New: Catherine Tate brings new life to the Time Lord." Evening Times [add city] 2008-04-05, Times Out, p. 21. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Doctor New: Catherine Tate brings new life to the Time Lord." Evening Times, edition, sec., 2008-04-05
  • Turabian: "Doctor New: Catherine Tate brings new life to the Time Lord." Evening Times, 2008-04-05, section, Times Out, p. 21 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Doctor New: Catherine Tate brings new life to the Time Lord | url= | work=Evening Times | pages=Times Out, p. 21 | date=2008-04-05 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 May 2024 }}</ref>
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