Tuesday, June 07, 2011

I'll Be Your Doctor

For once, From The North is able to bring you some proper excellent news, dear  blog reader. Doctor Who - the best TV show in the world that doesn't have the words West and Wing in the title - has been recommissioned for a seventh series. The news was broken in a posting on Twitter from a BBC executive. Sam Hodges - the Head of Communications for BBC1 - made the announcement via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, also stating that current Doctor, Matt Smith, would be returning for the new run. He wrote: 'Doctor Who is returning. Fourteen new episodes have been commissioned with Matt Smith as The Doctor.' That's, of course, in addition to the six that have already been filmed for the second half of series six and which will be shown in the autumn. It appears that the fourteen new episodes includes a 2011 Christmas Day special which, I must admit, I thought had already been commissioned last year, but apparently not. The very lovely Tom Spilsbury from the Doctor Who Magazine confirmed the latter point when pestered to breaking point by some of his own Twitter followers! See, this is why yer actual Keith Telly Topping steers well-clear of Twitter, it's too bloody time-consuming! Hodges posting was later re-tweeted by Doctor Who showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He). Moffat added: 'Fourteen episodes plus Matt definitely. I've got a plan and I'm not telling you what it is. Now hush or River shoots you with her Spoiler Gun.' At this time it is still unknown whether Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill will be returning to their roles of Amy Pond and Rory Williams for series seven. It seems pretty unlikely, to be honest, as both have recently signed up for other projects. So, new companion(s), possibly as early as this Christmas. Hopefully Amy and Rory will get a good send off and Rory won't die (again). The news is welcome as it follows a piece in this week's issue of the satirical magazine Private Eye which claimed that the popular family SF drama's next series could be delayed until 2013. The magazine alleged: 'Programme chiefs in London were horrified to learn recently that BBC Wales is proposing not to make a full series of Doctor Who in 2012, but instead to put the programme on hiatus and merely bash out four "specials" as it did in 2009. Which will leave an enormous hole in the BBC1 Saturday night schedule and a bigger one in the profits of BBC Worldwide, and will mean the corporation will be paying lead actor Matt Smith to spend most of the rest of this year doing nothing.' The article also alluded to various financial concerns being behind the decision to split this year's series into two halves which the BBC immediately denied saying that the decision was Moffat's and was due to the nature of the story he wanted to tell. Nevertheless, this scaremongering piece, coupled with an interview with Matt Smith in Saturday's Mirra in which the actor talked about his - long-term - Hollywood aspirations, had promoted (inevitable, widespread and, in places, rather hysterical) speculation in fandom over the series immediate future. Well, it's a day with a 'y' in it so that sort of goes with the territory. The BBC spokesman said: 'The new commission is a big commitment, not many other shows have such a commitment so far in advance.' Moffat himself seemed less than impressed with the Private Eye piece, noting: 'Private Eye seems like such fun, until it's your friends they're spreading nasty, inaccurate gossip about. How horrible.'
In slightly less happy Doctor Who news, The Moffster has also revealed that he received a death threat after the broadcast of the mid-season finale - A Good Man Goes To War - on Saturday night. I was going to say I'm presuming it wasn't a 'serious' death-threat but then, it was a death-threat, that's pretty serious in and of itself. The clue's in the word 'death,' I'd argue. Despite resolving a long-standing plot line (yes, that one!), one fan was clearly left unimpressed. In a big way. I mean, there's plenty of naysayers and malcontents and whingers out there in Internetland but, most of them don't, by and large, take their impotent and sick fury that somebody has dared to produce a TV show in a way that they don't like to the extreme of threatening to kill people. Because, that's called threats and menaces and you can end up doing eighteen months at Her Majesty's for that shit. At times like this I'm reminded of the words of SF author and critic Peter David: 'Should producers try to determine what fans want?' he asked, rhetorically, in an article in DreamWatch magazine. No, he concluded, such second guessing is ultimately pointless because the fans themselves don't know what they want. 'All they do know is that they want what they don't have and if they get it they don't want it anymore. Until they don't have it. At which point they want it back.' He's right, you know. And we're all guilty of this to a greater or a lesser degree. Anyway, The Moffster was clearly tickled by such glakery and posted on Twitter: 'Only one death threat, two demands for my immediate resignation, and two for my suicide. IT'S A HIT!' However, he was unapologetic for ending the series as he did, noting: 'I'm sure a fair number did guess. A twist should always be guessable - in this case by eight year olds (who were mostly way ahead!)'

All of which is, of course, mad-brilliant news (well, you know, not so much the death threat, but the other thing). So, in celebration, Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day must necessarily reflect this. Tell 'em what it's all about, Supergrass.

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