Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Dr Who - Wit and Wisdom of Russell T. Davies - Part One: The Pre-Dawn of Doctor Who the New Series.


Part One: The Pre-Dawn of Doctor Who the New Series (2003-05)

On the 'Doctor Who' TV show -
"It's the best idea ever invented in the history of the world!"
Russell T. Davies on BBC Wales Today (2004)

In 2003, the BBC finally announced that Doctor Who would return to our TV screens. Almost as important a question as the identity of the actor who would follow in the new Doctor's time-travelling tracks after a 16 year hiatus, was which creative talent would be entrusted to oversee and spearhead this much-awaited revival.

As we know now, this proved to be Russell T. Davies [right]. An inspired choice as it turned out, but one the BBC never really had much doubt about, as Mal Young - Head of BBC Drama - confidently announced back in 2003, "We're thrilled to have a writer of Russell's calibre to take us on this journey."

And some journey it was. On the road to resurrection, Russell was to prove more than a mere pencil-pusher ... he was an envelope pusher. As executive producer / show-runner, he was the undoubted guiding light that brought a sadly faded icon back to our screens.

Much has been made of Russell's legacy after the fact of the show's global success, but what were his thoughts before the New Series was unleashed? The following dozen quotations make interesting reading in understanding his creative mindset before he knew what he had (re-)created ...

"I want to make the Doctor the best character ever. He should be so fascinating he's radioactive. He's funny, clever, wild and fast. Your best friend times 500."

"None of us is talking about a reboot, it's the same old Doctor Who. I want the Doctor, at least one companion, whose name is probably Rose Tyler. I want the TARDIS, I want it to look like a Police Box, and I want them to fly through the universe and all its history, facing death and danger and braving it out with a fast and funny fighting spirit. That's Doctor Who, isn't it?"
in Doctor Who Magazine

"I have a philosophy - I can do what I want. If we can think of the perfect story for him to fall in love then he will. The purists may be up in arms, but there are more things to worry about in life. There is no pure Doctor Who. He is 41 years old - it is the only way to do it, to change."

"The first decision, that required no debate, was to respect this new generation and make the new show for them. It's still the same show, the same Doctor - no Superman-Smallville-style rebooting needed, since the Doctor has already changed his face many times - but we can't rely on assumed goodwill from anyone under 25. This new adventure starts from scratch."
in The Sunday Telegraph

"When the work started, I had presumed that I was long in the tooth when it came to television drama. I have done gay men, Jesus and Casanova, all of which should converge nicely on a Time Lord. But Doctor Who turned out to be a world of its own, a mad, colourful, little world with dozens of satellites."

On having second thoughts about the New Series - "I love Doctor Who, and part of me thought, 'If you love something maybe you should leave it alone.' "

"No doubt that article about why we shouldn't bother to bring him back will be written, but great stories never have a set time. Like Tarzan or Sherlock Holmes, they can stand constant reinterpretation."
in The Independent

On creating a New Series not directly linked to the Classic 'Who' - "If you're an eight-year-old watching today, you don't want a whole load of baggage from the past. You want a new start."

"The main difference between the old and the new Doctor Who is quite simply that this is a version made for 2005, It's faithful to the old series, but at the same time it's a brand new show aimed at a new audience."

"The key word is fun. It's funny, scary, fast-moving, adventurous but above all the new Doctor Who is fun. I watch a lot of science-fiction shows and they tend to be very pious, sombre dark, even angst-ridden, and that would just die a death on a Saturday evening. People want to be entertained at that time, so Doctor Who is fun, fast-paced and takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride."

"The thing about Star Trek is that you can't join in. It will never happen. But you can imagine walking home from school, turning a corner and seeing the TARDIS. You could just walk in and join the Doctor. It could happen."
in The Times

"I love this show as much as ever. It has not diminished as I feared it would. I can still catch a Jon Pertwee repeat on UK Gold and be happy as a Zygon."
in The Guardian

Coming Soon ... Parts Two, Three & Four: Russell T. Davies's thoughts on the first four seasons of the New Series, his comments about The Doctor, Rose Tyler, The Doctor and Rose, Captain Jack, Torchwood, the fans, his favourite Classic Doctor and much, much more. Part Four in this series will feature quotations and comments about Russell from Dr Who cast & crew, critics and fans.

The above RTD quotations have been taken from the recently published The Quotable Doctor Who: Volume One available from Blue Eyed Books.

For more on Russell T. Davies, we recommend his weighty tome The Writer's Tale and its accompanying website.

To keep in touch with future posts in The Wit & Wisdom of Russell T. Davies series, please click on the 'Subscribe' or 'Follow' buttons in the margin to be kept up-to-date with all new postings on this Who Said What About Dr Who blog.

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