Press pack - phase eight
Russell T Davies interview
The final episode of the current series of Doctor Who is on BBC ONE on Saturday (18 June) at 7.00pm.
Here, Russell T Davies - award-winning writer and executive producer of Doctor Who - gives an exclusive insight into the Christmas 2005 episode and reveals why 'pigeon-holing' in his early career as a writer in children's television made the transition into adult television difficult.
Q: Were you surprised by the reaction to the new series?
RTD: The honest to God truth is I was shocked. The weird thing is, it's everything we hoped for. In January we were all sitting there hoping millions of people would watch; hoping that people would love it.
It's such a rare thing for everything to fit into place especially when all the signs were there. Friends of mine would say to me this is such a risk, because it's niche and there's no science fiction in primetime plus it's an old show, its days have gone etc etc.
There were so many things mitigating against it.
If we were in Los Angeles there would be 15 shows like it running at once. No-one's made anything like this in this country and we've pulled it off.
Science fiction can be very bland, homogenized and steeped in American culture, and to make this British has been fantastic.
I think as a kid watching the series you can feel a sense of ownership and that's made a massive difference.
Russell on his versatility as a writer
RTD: One of the things that makes me laugh is when I read something which says 'gay writer of Second Coming, Casanova and Queer as Folk has made family viewing an event'.
It just shows that anyone can write anything. All that pigeon-holing that goes on is nonsense. No writer should ever sit there and think – I'll only write gay things.
I used to work in children's television and it was harder to move from children's telly and break into adult television. I was a young writer and no-one knew my name. People would just sit there and say, but you’ve only done children's.
I knew I could write anything. I knew I could do adult drama, but everyone pigeon-holes everyone.
What I love about Doctor Who is that it has come full circle, it's for adults and children; it's doing everything I like doing.
Q: What's your view on the seeming lack of family drama on television?
RTD: Cinema leads the way with films like Toy Story – the script is full of intelligence, it's clever, witty and so much fun, and at the heart of it is a great plot.
I have sat with a group of 15 people watching Finding Nemo on a Sunday morning – one member of the group was five and another 55, and when you see things like that happening you know that the myth that family drama doesn't exist anymore is simply not true.
We were told, Julie (Gardner) and I, to be careful aiming for a family audience because it doesn't exist anymore.
I absolutely didn't believe it, that's why we built Doctor Who to be an event every single week.
There's something big and different so everyone can come together to watch it, not just kids, and not just adults – genuine family viewing really.
It sort of follows Hollywood's example, you might be cynical about Hollywood, but they tend to be ahead of the game.
Q: Is it true that the Daleks are coming back in the final episode?
RTD: Yes. It's true. Having given them a conscience in one episode, the Daleks are back as these great, murderous monsters they were created to be. It's like Doctor Who as it always was. And it’s exciting.
Q: What else can you reveal about the content of the final episode?
RTD: There are Dalek armies, a war, space ship and gun fire. For all the hardware and macho side of it, the final episode is the most emotional we have told yet.
The story we have been telling over the 12 weeks all comes to a head and it shows how much the Doctor means to Rose, Rose means to the Doctor and Captain Jack means to them both.
There's an army of 500,000 Daleks with six ordinary human beings left in the world to fight them off.
It tells my favourite story, which is about the heroism and bravery of ordinary people up against an almighty threat.
There's reference to almost every single previous episode, but anyone can watch it and still enjoy it even if they haven’t been following the whole series.
Q: Is there anything at all you can reveal about the Christmas episode?
RTD: Well it's an hour-long episode which is something we've never done before.
It will be a great, Christmas adventure that's really big in scale. It will be Christmassy, there's nothing I like more than a Christmas Special set at Christmas!
There's a big story in it for Rose as well as a massive threat to the Earth going on beneath the surface so Christmas as usual!
Q: Have you been inundated with celebrities wanting to be involved in the second series?
RTD: Yes, there have been a lot names coming through to our casting director. We're currently drawing up a list. But I couldn't possibly name names.
Q: How nervous or excited are you about the second series?
RTD: Very excited because David (Tennant) is like a whole new lease of life. I think one of dangers of success sometimes is that one can get too complacent.
Putting David at the helm means we're all reinvigorated because we have got to be just as good, if not better just for him.
So it's actually very exciting, but at the same time scary. It's back to square one for us so that's always a good place to be I think.
You have to put pressure on yourself really, because you have over seven million viewers who love this show, so you mustn't let them down now. We have got to deliver even more surprises for them, and I'm absolutely confident we can do it!
Q: Can you share anything about the content of the new series?
RTD: We have the Cybermen!
We're also going to alien planets which we didn't do in the first series because I wanted to be confident of the design and now I feel sure. We also have the best design and SFX team in the world.
The series will remain connected to the Earth because I think that's important.
There will be a couple of old faces, and lots of new faces.
Trips into history with us going back to the 1700s at one point... that's all I can say at this stage I am afraid.