Doctor Who

Last Update: 10 December 2001

For a full, fascinating and continuing account of the genesis of the proposed BBC Doctor Who movie, visit the Corona movie rumours website.

In June 2000, Ain't It Cool News carried the following item:

IRON EAGLE here. We havent spoke before, but i over the past week i have been bombarded with some info, that i dont know wether will interest you or not.

BBC Worldwide last year comisioned filmakers Paul Anderson and Jeremy Bolt [Soldier, Event Horizon] and their Impact films to set about bringing a Doctor Who movie to fruition. A script was nearly done and was said to be Matrix like in concept. People like Denzel Washington and Samuel. L. Jackson were linked with the role of the good Doctor. However the script strayed away from the material it was based on. Why even call it Dr Who? Eventually BBC Worldwide birked at the overflowing budget expectations and pulled the plug. Dr Who The Movie was dead [again]

That is until Friday night. BBC Worldwide have just struck up a deal with Disney's Buena Vista and Hollywoods Mutual films to bring the Doctor back onto the big screen [remember the two 1960's movies with Peter Cushing?]. No producer has of yet being named. But i do work at the Beeb, and i can tell you that this is THE biggy in the Dr Who Universe. Big name directors have been mentioned. Like John Glen, Sidney.J.Furie and Russel Mulcahey. The biggest of all though seems to be Michael Apted, from The World is not Enough. And the beeb are apparently lining up rat nosed Tom Selleck to play the good Doctor.

All this is true. And if you dont believe me then what happens over the next few days will prove very interesting indeedd.


A further item then appeared:

Hi Harry, IRON EAGLE again.

I thought i would send you more info on the Doctor Who project i mentioned to you at the weekend. Developements have been moving fast over the last couple of days on the production front. And aparently the beeb have found a producer and a director. Philip Hinchcliffe has been drafted in to guide the movie in his old role as producer. I say old because he produced the show for two years in the seventies when Tom Baker was the Doctor. Producing many classics like Genesis of The Daleks and Pyramids of Mars. This bodes well for the movies future i think.

Now i mentioned this last time but Russel Mulcahey is apparently 95% on to direct. And if he comes on board this will put paid to the Tom Selleck sugestion, because Mulcahey was involved with the movie in 1994 and insisted the actor who plays the Doctor MUST be English. However he was the same director who employed a French acteur to play a Scottish Highlander, so his words cant be taken seriously.

Other actors have been mentioned AGAIN! Sean Bean was being linked in The Daily Star, as were Lynus Roach and former Doctor Who Jon Pertwee's son, Sean Pertwee. The most popular choice with the beeb though is Terence Stamp {Superman 1 & 2, Phantom Menace}, and with Mulcahey and Stamp on board this movie would work iam sure


As well, the British newspaper The Sun (13 June 2000) carried the following story (Sean's name not mentioned):

DR WHO could be making a comeback - with Stephen Fry being considered for the lead role.
The BBC is discussing a film based on the cult TV series with several production companies.
A spokesman for BBC Worldwide told me: "We are in talks with various people about Dr Who but it is still very early days."

Neither a script nor director have yet been chosen but the most important problem occupying the producers is who will play the lead.

Comic Fry is high on the wish list because producers say the doctor must be played by a British actor.

Update: 06 December 2000

Empire Online carried the following story (Sean not mentioned)

Top Secret for Dr Who

Internet rumours surrounding a proposed small and big screen outing for classic sci-fi hero Dr Who have gone into overdrive today following a scoop by Dark Horizons. In a feature posted this morning, an anonymous source 'confirms' that a film from BBC films is in the offing but insists that there is no director or script yet.

British writer/director Paul Anderson had originally been linked to the project, but the source alleges that disagreements between Anderson - who wanted Laurence Fishburne in the lead - and the BBC (who have their own preference for the role) caused discussions to break down.

The feature suggests that the favoured actor is already known in the halls of the BBC, and refuses to name him, but did someone spill the beans already? In the latest issue of Empire (July 2000), Stephen Fry responds to a question from a reader about his possible appearance in a Dr Who radio programe as follows: 'It is true. It's extraordinarily clever of him to know that. I've been sworn to the utmost secrecy by the BBC because there is such a huge contingency of Whovians, I think they call them. So it is true, but I can't tell you what part I play of what happens in it because I would be assassinated if I did.'

While Fry doesn't reveal whether he plays the Dr, Empire Online feels he would be perfect to take the role of the doctor in the millennium. Could the BBC be thinking the same thing?

Update 04 January 2001

The Mirror, a British tabloid, carried the following story in its 04 January edition:

Sean is sci-fi Time Lord in £250m film.

Sean Bean will bring Dr Who into the 21st cventury by playing the time traveller in a £250 million British film version of the classic TV series.

The 41 year-old - best known as the star of Sharpe and Bravo Two Zero - becomes the tenth actor in the title role and the highest paid, with a deal worth about £3million. Actress Tara Fitzgerald, 33, plays the Time Lord's assistant.

Shooting begins at Pinewood Studios in the spring. A source said, "The powers that be are delighted to have got Bean. They wanted a British actor and a big name and he's both. To have got Tara as well is the icing on the cake."

Dr Who is the first foray into big budget films by the BBC which owns the rights. It ran on TV from 1963 to 1989, with film versions in 1965 and 1966. Another film with Paul McGann flopped in 1996. But the source added: "There's been massive interest recently in sci-fi scripts."

Basing its information on The Mirror's story, GMTV (a UK breakfast television program) broadcast the Doctor Who news to its morning viewers. The story was also picked up by The Guardian, another British daily newspaper, which quoted The Mirror as its source.

Shortly thereafter, a denial was issued by the BBC on Teletext:

Bean story just a load of Whoey!

BBC Films has denied a story in The Mirror that Sean Bean has been cast as Dr Who in a "£250m production".

The Beeb told Teletext: "There's absolutely no truth in the story whatsoever - not a grain."

The Mirror's claim that the time lord's assistant will be played by Tara Fitzgerald is also denied by BBC Films. The paper reports a source saying that Bean would be paid £3m to play the part.


The denial was repeated in a slightly different form on ITV's Teletext service:


Claims that actor Sean Bean is to be the next Dr Who have been rubbished. Bean, 41, is reported to have signed a £3m deal to star in a £250m movie version of the cult sci-fi series. Shooting of the BBC production is to begin at Pinewood in the spring. But the BBC denied any plans to cast the Bravo Two Zero star in the role. His agent added: "This is absolute news to me. Sean's having a break."


Empire Magazine also carried a denial on its website:

It's Still Doctor...Who?

Despite reports to the contrary, there is still no official word as to who will inhabit the TARDIS in the planned BBC film version of Doctor Who. The Mirror reported that Sean Bean would be playing the Timelord, with Tara Fitzgerald as his assistant, but a spokesperson for the BBC said "It's not true at all" and denied that any kind of casting deal had been made.

Empire Online was also told that the movie is "Still very much in the planning stage, and there isn't even a finished script yet". And the Mirror's claim that the film's budget was in the region of £250 million was also dismissed.

If you ask us, Bean would be far more suited for the role of The Master - Doctor Who's nemesis. Our favourite suggestions for potential Doctors include Stephen Fry, Richard E. Grant, Alan Rickman, Eddie Izzard, and Ralph Fiennes. Just don't let Robbie Williams anywhere near it.


And the story made it all the way into the pages of Variety:

Updated: 1/4/01


Thesp Bean, Beeb deny reports of sci-fi pic


LONDON -- BBC Films and a spokesman for thesp Sean Bean have denied reports that the actor is to star in a big-budget movie of sci-fi TV series "Doctor Who."

BBC Films chief David Thompson laughed off the story in Wednesday's Daily Mirror, which claimed that a £250 million ($375 million) movie was set to shoot at Pinewood Studios this spring.

Pinewood also denied all knowledge of the project, while an ICM representative of Bean said, "It's news to us."

The BBC has been developing a movie version of "Doctor Who" for several years, most recently with the Mutual Film Co., but it is not thought that the project is anywhere near fruition.

Update: 06 January 2001

The SFX Network spoke exclusively to the BBC concerning the continuing Doctor Who movie rumours:

Bean, Stallone reports slammed by Auntie

The BBC today launched an attack on the Daily Mirror over the latest in a series of rumours regarding a Doctor Who movie, calling them "nonsense".

Today's edition of The Mirror, and several independent media organisations yesterday evening, reported that Sean Bean had been cast as the Doctor in a £250M movie adaptation of the classic SF show.

But a BBC spokeswoman today admitted the corporation was unhappy with the rumourmongering, and that the Mirror had been contacted regarding the false report. "The story in the Mirror today is nonsense, there's absolutely no truth in it whatsoever," she told SFX Network this morning.

"I've just spoken to the Mirror about this and asked them if they even bother to check their stories. They did not contact us to ask us about this yesterday." She also hit out at today's Internet rumours. The Coming Attractions website reports an anonymous correspondent claiming to work for the Mutual Film Company previously linked with the Dr Who movie, who claims a Charlie Higson penned script is set to be made with action movie star Sylvester Stallone at the controls of the TARDIS.

"I'd take all these stories with a big pinch of salt," she said. "The situation with the movie is that it is not at the script stage yet. When casting has taken place it will be announced, but at the moment there's been nothing."

Update 21 January 2001

London's Sunday Telegraph today reported:

Dr Who spearheads BBC's £50m bid for film success
By Oliver Poole

A LAVISH dramatisation of the early years of Mary, Queen of Scots, and a feature-length updated version of Dr Who will be among the highlights of the BBC's multi-million bid to become a big player in the film industry, The Telegraph can reveal....

David Thompson, the head of BBC films, confirmed rumours that there would be a Dr Who film, with a budget expected to be £40 million, and said that filming would start next year. He said: "We are talking to a famous American director and hope to announce his name in the next few months. A British actor will definitely play the Doctor but we have not decided who yet."

Update February 18, 2001

In January, 2001, Data Extract, the magazine of the Dr Who Club of Australia, published the following story:


Earlier this month reports surfaced from an anonymous tipster who claimed to be working for the Mutual Film Company implying that Sylvester Stallone was to be involved an a possible Doctor Who project in America; then, the Daily Mirror ran a feature article along with doctored photos that actor Sean Bean and actress Tara Fitzgerald had been signed to a BP250M Doctor Who movie to begin filming in the spring. Since then several sources at the BBC and Doctor Who Magazine have stated that these rumours are completely false.

The situation remains unchanged - BBC Films is actively developing a Doctor Who movie for future production, but it's a long way off happening. Further, SFX Magazine featured a report on January 4 from their chat with the BBC not only debunking the reports, but slamming the Mirror for its reporting - "The story in the Mirror today is nonsense, there's absolutely no truth in it whatsoever ... I'd take all these stories with a big pinch of salt. The situation with the movie is that it is not at the script stage yet. When casting has taken place it will be announced, but at the moment there's been nothing."

Even earlier reports (in late November) held that the Daleks would be involved in a planned film multimillion pound film, these were also refuted. The BP250M figure is the total amount BBC Films are planning to spend on ALL their films.

On January 26, 2001, IGN FilmForce carried the following story:

Doctor Who Faces Ultimate Enemy: The BBC
Doctor Who radio series.

It's been another rough week for fans of Doctor Who. Buoyed by reports in the press, specifically by UK newspaper the Telegraph, fans thought they were closer than ever to seeing the adventures of the good Doctor on the big screen for the first time since the '60s. Unfortunately, that story, which reported an estimated $65 million budget and a "big named U.S. director", has been refuted by representatives for the BBC.

Quoted on the SFX Network website, a representative from the BBC announced, "The Sunday Telegraph got it wrong." She added that, as often stated, plans for a movie version of the show were in development, but that there had been no further progress with them.

A source at the BBC told IGN FilmForce today that "the production is in a state of disarray. We have missed a golden opportunity to have a marquee project available during a time when the American market is the most accessible because of the coming talent strikes. A Doctor Who will happen some day, of that I have no doubt but that day will be later, rather than sooner."

Adding further insult to injury, BBC Radio 4 has decided not to go forward with a proposed new Who series for radio. The pilot story, "Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time," starred Sylvester McCoy as the 7th Doctor (last seen in the 1996 FOX Network TV movie) and Sophie Aldred, who reprised her character of Ace from the television series. Despite positive comments from the cast (including guest star Stephen Fry, someone who has had his name mentioned as potential new Doctor Who more than once), the BBC passed on the series. The pilot may show up as a BBC Audio CD release in the future and it's expected that there will be negotiations to try and produce the series elsewhere.

On a positive note, Big Finish continues to release their series of excellent Doctor Who audio adventures. January brings the first new adventure to star Paul McGann, the 8th Doctor. First introduced in the 1996 telemovie, this is the first Who production that McGann has been involved in since the film. A total of four adventures featuring McGann will be released this year. "Storm Warning," the first of McGann's Big Finish productions, was released last week. The Big Finish productions are available on compact disk and can be found at some on line science fiction stores or ordered directly from Big Finish through their website.

December 8, 2001

The latest rumour from Corona...

December 7, 2001... A major news story concerning the much anguished Doctor Who movie just broke this evening in England...on the telly, surprisingly enough. After tonight's revelation, we know now the name of an actor, a director and a writer who have been meeting in secret about the Doctor Who movie project!

It all started when one of our readers caught actor Sean Bean appearing on Friday night's Liquid News, a late night talk show on BBC1. Bean was promoting his latest film, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and soon the Liquid News host asked Bean what he has lined up next. Bean admitted he had a few projects in the pipeline including one that perked the interest of the audience. ""I've just had a meeting with MGM/UA Executives in London over a movie role, so its handy I'm in Britain," Bean told the Liquid News audience.

When the actor was asked what movie he was talking about, he replied "Oooh, I dont really know if I can reveal..." That set off the audience who started taunting Bean to spill the goods: "O.K., O.K. It's Doctor Who."

A round of applause and cheers then rose up from the Liquid News audience. "So your the new Doctor Who then?" inquires the interviewer, to which Bean replied, "Steady. No, the movie hasn't been greenlit or schedueled yet, all I can say is I am in very early talks. But I have read a good script by a French writer called Stephane Cabel and spoke to a french director, Christophe Gans, who directed a marvellous film called Brotherhood of the Wolf..." -- which garnished more applause from the audience -- "...who are both involved in the movie as writer and director. All I'll say is that it is something I'd like to do, I've been looking for a role like Doctor Who, or James Bond or Superman, one of those instantly recognizible icons to do for sometime."

Our scooper was adamant that the interview with Bean did happen tonight on Liquid News, but we've been unable to confirm Bean's appearance on the show (probably because it's after midnight of the next day in England). Did any of our other U.K.-based readers catch the show and see Bean's announcement? If so, write to us!


The video of the Friday night program of Liquid News (December 7th) was available as streaming video on the BBC website. I watched it all the way through and Sean was not a guest on the program. Furthermore, there was no studio audience.

Update 10 December 2001

An informed source closely associated with Sean Bean said today: "Doctor Who is totally news to me."


As of 10 December 2001, the 10th Doctor has yet to regenerate...

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