Doctor Who

7:00pm Sunday 25 December on BBC ONE

It’s Christmas Eve, 1938, when Madge Arwell comes to the aid of an injured Spaceman Angel as she cycles home, in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, starring Matt Smith as the Doctor.

He promises to repay her kindness – all she has to do is make a wish.

Three years later, a devastated Madge escapes war-torn London with her two children for a dilapidated house in Dorset. She is crippled with grief at the news her husband has been lost over the channel, but determined to give Lily and Cyril the best Christmas ever.

The Arwells are surprised to be greeted by a madcap caretaker whose mysterious Christmas gift leads them into a magical wintry world. Here, Madge will learn how to be braver than she ever thought possible. And that wishes can come true…

Madge Arwell is played by Claire Skinner, Lily Arwell by Holly Earl and Cyril Arwell by Maurice Cole.

The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe is Matt Smith’s second Christmas outing as the Doctor and this time he doesn’t have his trusted companions, ‘The Ponds’, by his side. However, it hasn’t stopped him relishing in another Christmassy adventure and here he reveals what Doctor Who has in store for festive viewers.

“Doctor Who and Christmas go hand in hand don’t they?” laughs Matt Smith as he sits down to discuss the special episode of Who, penned by Steven Moffat. “It’s a brilliant and touching story about a family who have experienced a tragic event and in many ways they’ve had Christmas stolen from them.”

Matt reveals that Madge Arwell and her two young children, Lily and Cyril, have been evacuated during the Blitz to a ramshackled old house in the country where the Doctor has taken up residence as caretaker. “The Doctor, in a very ‘Doctory’ way, tries to bring Christmas spirit and cheer back into their lives,” explains Matt. “He has ‘Doctorified’ the house so to speak and there’s a magical present under the Christmas tree which is a portal to another world. Cyril enters it and discovers an enchanting landscape that encapsulates the beauty, danger and madness that is Doctor Who at Christmas.”

So will viewers be cowering behind their turkey and stuffing sandwiches on Christmas Day? “Well there are two scary characters that live in a huge tower and move in a very strange and menacing way,” confides Matt with a conspiratorial grin. “I also really enjoyed making this episode because the characters unfold in a subtle way and you never quite know what’s waiting around the corner. I also loved working with the guest cast who all seemed to have a whale of a time.”

The Doctor has had many festive adventures over the years but what are Matt’s favourite Christmas memories? “The best present I’ve ever had was a snooker table when I was a kid,” he reveals, “although my SEGA Mega Drive came close! I also used to love getting pyjamas and wearing them all day. Plus my granddad absolutely hates dressing gowns so it’s become a family tradition for us to buy him one every year and it always makes me laugh.”

And Matt’s recipe for the perfect Christmas?

“Family; everyone happy, healthy and together with lots of food, presents and good TV. Oh and football on Boxing Day! I’m really hoping for a white Christmas but if I couldn’t have a traditional Christmas I’d spend it somewhere really warm like South America or Australia and have a barbecue on the beach.”

7:05pm Saturday 1 October on BBC ONE

The Doctor (Matt Smith) makes his final journey to the shores of Lake Silencio in Utah, knowing only one thing can keep the universe safe, as this series of Doctor Who reaches a dramatic conclusion (there’s a special, one-off mini episode in Doctor Who Confidential on BBC Three, written by school-children)

7:10pm Saturday 27 August on BBC ONE

In the desperate search for Melody Pond, the TARDIS crash lands in Thirties Berlin, as the time-travelling drama written by Steven Moffat and starring Matt Smith returns for the second half of the series shown earlier in the year

BBC Learning, Doctor Who Confidential and Doctor Who, announce that the highly anticipated Script to Screen competition is now officially open for entries.

This exciting competition will give one lucky team of primary school children the chance to write their own Doctor Who mini-adventure starring the eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, which will be filmed and then televised on Doctor Who Confidential.

Matt Smith, said: “I’m delighted to support Script to Screen because I’m very passionate about creative writing and believe it is a great skill to nurture. I’d absolutely love to write a Doctor Who script at some point in the future but it’s going to be impossible to compete with Steven Moffat who is simply a genius and his creativity knows no bounds!  

“It will be interesting to see what ideas the children come up with for me – I could finally be defeated by a new enemy, or I could be exiled to a distant galaxy – who knows – that’s the beauty of a child’s imagination!”

To win this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, primary school children aged 9-11 years old are encouraged to collaborate on a three-minute script that takes the resident Time Lord on a new quest travelling through space and time inside the TARDIS.

As part of the ultimate prize, the lucky winners will travel to the BBC’s studios in Cardiff where they will see their script brought to life by the Doctor Who team. Doctor Who Confidential will also be on hand to take viewers behind the scenes to show how the script gets developed from paper to TV screen – from the first script meeting, a cast read-through, and on-set filming, all the way to the final edit.

A host of specially created learning resources are now available online at the BBC Learning website to help guide teachers and pupils through the process. The Doctor and his companions, Amy and Rory, present a series of online videos, which challenge children to a range of tasks to help equip them with the necessary writing skills needed to prepare a short script for TV. These include writing Amy’s blog, writing instructions to help Rory land the TARDIS, and writing a report about a new planet.

The site also includes specially produced videos with expert advice for young script writers about character, stage directions and how to pull together a stand out script with memorable characters from members of the Doctor Who team, including BAFTA winner and lead writer of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat.

Children can be as creative and imaginative as they like in order to put together a story that’s filled with all the excitement and adventure of the popular BBC One sci-fi drama. The action packed script must be set in the TARDIS and feature the eleventh Doctor. It can include one of four fearsome aliens from the show: Ood, Judoon, Cyberman or Weeping Angel; and/or a brand new human character (a contemporary figure or a historical character) to test the wits of The Doctor.

The winning script will be chosen by Steven Moffat; Saul Nassé, Controller of BBC Learning; and executive producers of Doctor Who, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis.

Full details of how to enter the competition are available on bbc.co.uk/teachers.

Former Doctor Who actor Tom Baker has revealed his deep sadness on hearing about the death of his one time co-star, Elisabeth Sladen.

Bang Showbiz report that Tom, who was the fourth Time Lord, appeared alongside Elisabeth in the BBC One sci-fi series in the 70s when she starred as his assistant, Sarah Jane Smith.

Tom said, “Those sweet memories of happy days with Liz Sladen – the lovely, witty, kind and so talented Liz Sladen.

“I am consoled by the memories. I was there, I knew her, she was good to me and I shall always be grateful. I shall miss her.”

Elisabeth, 63, lost her long battle with cancer on Tuesday (19.04.11), and Tom admitted that he’s finding it hard to believe she’s passed away.

Writing on his official website, he said, “Sarah Jane dead? No, impossible! Impossible!

“Only last week I agreed to do six new audio adventures with her. She can’t be dead. But she is. Cancer.

“I had no idea she was ill – she was so private, never wanted any fuss. Now gone.

“A terrible blow to her friends and a shattering blow for all those fans of the programme whose lives were touched every Saturday evening by her lovely, heroic character, Sarah Jane Smith.”

Elisabeth first appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ in 1973 to 1976 alongside Jon Pertwee and Tom, and in addition to her first run in the series, she also reprised the character following the programme’s return in 2005 starring in the Tenth Doctor story ‘School Reunion’ alongside David Tennant.

She appeared in two-part series four finale ‘The Stolen Earth’/’Journey’s End’ and had a cameo in David’s last adventure ‘The End of Time’.

Elisabeth also played the character in four series of ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ on CBBC and appeared alongside current Doctor Matt Smith in the show’s episode ‘Death of the Doctor’.

What a sad loss.

Steven Moffat is Lead Writer and Executive Producer. After taking over the reins on Doctor Who last year, Steven Moffat has certainly been kept busy. He’s answered seven quick-fire questions on what to look out for when the show returns at Easter.

 

How has this series evolved from last year?

Well we’ve moved through the funfair a bit – we’ve done the rollercoaster, now we’re on the ghost train. Last year, in a way, was all about saying, don’t worry, it’s still him, it’s still the same show, nothing’s really been lost. Losing a leading man like David Tennant is seismic – unless you gain a leading man like Matt Smith. It’s been the biggest joy to see him stride in and just claim that TARDIS for his own. But now he’s really here, and the part is his, and the bow tie is cool, he’s ready to lead us places we didn’t know existed. Last year we reassured you – this year, to hell with that, we’re going to worry the hell out of you. How well do we really know that man, or what he’s capable of? We’re putting the “who?” back in the Doctor.

 

Is there a major story arc to look out for?

Oh, there’s a big story being told this year, and major mysteries from the very off. As ever, in this show, the stories all stand alone, and every episode is a perfect jumping-on point for a new viewer. But at the same time the over-arching plot will be a bigger player this year. More than hints and whispers – we’re barely 10 minutes into episode one before our heroes face a dilemma that they’ll be staring at months from now. And there will be no easy answers.

 

Will there be new monsters?

They’re … scary. Very scary. And, ohh, I don’t want to say more – there’s the Silence in episodes one and two, the Siren, in episode three, the Gangers in five and six, all these are more than just freaky costumes and masks; there are SCARY ideas here. And just wait till you meet Idris in episode four.

 

Is this series scarier than the last one?

See above. Yes, I think so. But it’s not JUST scary – it’s funny and moving and revelling in its own insanity too.

 

How have the characters evolved?

The big difference, I suppose, is how long the Doctor is hanging around in the lives of his companions. His normal MO is get them while they’re young, and leave them while they’re young too. He’s careful to put them back where he found them, before he screws up their lives. But here he is, married couple on board – and much as he loves them both, he does wonder if it isn’t time he got out of the way; before something really BAD happens.

 

Did you always plan for Amy and Rory to get married?

Oh, always. Married couple on the TARDIS, that was the plan from the off.

 

What can you tell us about the cliff-hanger at the end of episode seven?

Normally our cliff-hangers are lives being threatened; with this one, three live are changed FOREVER.

Karen Gillan burst onto TV screens last year as feisty companion, Amy Pond, and immediately secured her place in Doctor Who broadcasting history which has been an integral part of British culture since the Sixties.

Returning for her second series aboard the TARDIS, Karen reveals what lies in store for Amy, the naughty tricks her co-stars play on her and why she has a newfound passion for fencing.

“There were clues planted in the last series that are going to become major storylines in this one,” divulges a conspiratorial Karen Gillan; a revelation which is bound to have all “Whovians” avidly watching Series Five to spot what the Inverness-born actress is referring to.

“There’s a really interesting arc in this series that involves all of the major characters and it’s evident from the first episode that everyone on the TARDIS is withholding secrets from one another,” continues Karen. “It makes for a fascinating dynamic between the characters and it’s incredibly important to the overall series.”

Karen also believes that Amy has more respect for her new husband Rory after his recent adventures. “I think Rory has perhaps developed the most out of all the characters,” explains Karen. “By the end of last series he became a Roman Centurion hero and he had changed a lot; it felt like he had earned his place in the TARDIS. In fact, it’s hard for me to imagine the TARDIS without him now!”

But has married life changed Amy Pond? Karen quickly sweeps that concern out of the way exclaiming: “if anything she is even more Amy Pondish! I don’t think it would work for Amy to completely change now that she’s a married woman and I certainly don’t think she should become a subdued version of herself. However, I do think being married has helped to define the Doctor and Amy’s relationship and I can reveal that something takes place this series which makes Amy see Rory in a new light…” teases the actress.

While the majority of filming for Doctor Who usually takes place in Cardiff, the cast found themselves in the middle of the desert in Utah last November to film scenes for the opening two-parter. “The new series starts with a real bang,” exclaims Karen. “Filming in Utah was so much fun and I spent a lot of time running around the desert; the scenery was amazing and simply wouldn’t have looked the same if we had filmed it in Cardiff against a green screen. The desert backdrop really gives the opening two episodes an epic feel.”

However, it wasn’t all fun for the actors as temperatures plunged below freezing at night and then they had to battle searing temperatures during the day. “We were all ‘thermaled’ up and I had on two pairs of trousers and four tops! Then the sun would come up making it blistering hot and we’d all peel off the layers,” laughs Karen.

But despite the elements, Karen enjoyed being reunited with Alex Kingston who plays enigma River Song. “Alex is so much fun to have around,” reveals Karen. “She makes the TARDIS team feel complete.”

But the question on viewers’ lips is: “will we find out who River Song actually is?”

“The ending of this first set of episodes has been hidden from everyone!” laughs Karen. “Even I got given a dummy ending to episode seven and it was only at the read-through that Steven Moffat took me, Matt and Arthur into the corridor to read the proper version on his laptop. We then all paced around going, ‘oh my God!’. It’s brilliant and viewers will just have to tune in to find out more. It certainly provides a fantastic cliff-hanger to see us through until the autumn.”

Karen also reveals that this series is set to be the scariest yet with the debut of a number of new monsters. “Ooh, in particular I think The Silence, which are the new monsters in the opening two episodes, actually rival the Weeping Angels in terms of scariness and they look disgusting!” says Karen, screwing up her face in revulsion. “The concept behind them is ingenious because it feels like they are undefeatable, and this series also sees the return of some of the Doctor’s oldest foes, but with an interesting twist…”

A new series of Doctor Who wouldn’t be complete without a number of well known guest stars; Hugh Bonneville, Lily Cole, Suranne Jones and Marshall Lancaster are all billed in upcoming episodes.

“The great thing about this show is that it attracts big names and everyone who comes on set is so excited to be part of the Doctor Who experience,” explains Karen. “These actors could all be off doing other things but they choose to come on the show because they are either fans or their kids are, so it makes the whole experience enjoyable. For me, it’s also a wonderful experience to watch these people at work – it’s like an acting masterclass every episode.”

With each story set at different points in time and occasionally on alien planets, Amy Pond has certainly experienced a lot in her relatively short time on the TARDIS. But for Karen the episode that really stands out for her this series features Hugh Bonneville as a Pirate Captain in the 1600s. “I had a brilliant time filming this episode,” reveals Karen. “Swinging across a pirate ship was a particular highlight and I loved doing the sword fight. I’d never done anything like that before so I literally picked up the sword and started learning moves with a stunt guy – in fact I loved it so much that I actually want to take it up as a hobby! Luckily I caused no major injuries on set, although I did collide with Arthur at one point but that was his fault.”

It is clear that Karen has become firm friends with her co stars Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill and their chemistry certainly translates on screen. “We genuinely mess around all day,” confesses Karen, “but I think that works because as a viewer I’d like to see the Doctor, Amy and Rory having fun. Of course we are serious when we need to be, but in general we clown around between takes and I think that helps to create chemistry on screen.

“Matt has also taken to hiding in my trailer and I’ll go in, humming to myself, and then he’ll just jump out at me and shout”, giggles Karen. “The first time he did it was hilarious because he scared me so much that I fell backwards against the wall and slid down it! He also has an annoying habit of filming me when I fall asleep, while in make-up in the mornings, and it’s a hideous sight – I’m not going to lie!” continues Karen. “Arthur eggs him on and the pair of them gang up but don’t worry, I give as good as I get. Although it’s brilliant when Alex Kingston is around because she knows how to handle them!”

So with two mischievous lads and a number of monsters to deal with, both Karen and Amy Pond have a lot to contend with, but where would Karen go if she had sole control of the TARDIS? “The tundra,” she says, “no reason why! Just go with it!”

6:00pm Saturday 25 December on BBC ONE

Michael Gambon guest stars in Steven Moffat’s festive edition of the time-travelling drama as The Doctor (Matt Smith) battles to save Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill)

Matt Smith is keen to star in a third series of ‘Doctor Who’.

The 28-year-old actor – who plays the Time Lord in the BBC One sci-fi show – is currently filming the second series of the cult classic, and admitted he would love to return to the nation’s TV screens in 2012.

He explained: “I take it a year at a time. I’m going to do this year, and maybe next year as well. I would like to.”

The TV star – who plays the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor – recently admitted he has plenty more to give on the show, and wants to be able to rank his performances 10 out of 10.

When asked to rate his performances, he said: “That’s a tough one. Let’s say eight. I’ve two episodes left, so I can still get to 10. I don’t want to undersell myself.”

Following his quick rise to fame, Matt – who previously starred in BBC adaptations of Phillip Pullman novels ‘The Ruby in the Smoke’ and ‘The Shadow in the North’ – has discovered he has become something of a heartthrob.

He said: “I like to think nothing has changed and they always hit on me, but I guess it is probably only because I am a Time Lord. But now they listen to me, that is the difference.”

Source: Bang

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