Thursday, 31 March 2005

Doctor Who, Season X-1: "Rose"

A Review of the Series, and the Twenty-First Century, So Far


If Doctor Who has been about one thing, in its long and absurdly flexible history, then it's been about this: outside.

Since the 1980s, television - western culture in general, in fact, although it goes without saying that television makes it depressingly obvious in a way no other medium does - has become increasingly insular, petty, selfish and self-involved. Those who like to see the '80s as the Great Evil Predator of decades, near-legendary for its greed, excess and money-fetishism, tend to miss the important point; the defining trait of the '80s wasn't avarice, it was self-obsession. And this is the one thing that just got worse, after Thatcher and after "Reaganomics" and after the word "yuppie" stopped being funny. (Reagan was the first US President to have been portrayed in terms of lifestyles rather than policies, and very little about recent world history makes any bleeding sense if you don't bear that in mind.) Weird and optimistic as it seems now, there was a time pre-1979 when many of the people involved in television genuinely thought the medium could make connections between cultures and break open mind-sets. As a result, there was a time when "quality drama" tried - usually failed, but tried - to take in the entire span of human history and capability; a time when everything was about falling empires and rising civilisations, about grief and knowledge that spanned generations, about lessons so primal that all 625 lines would be scored into your brain like cocaine-damage. On the other hand, fashionable TV presentations in the twenty-first century are more likely to involve spoilt, wealthy American professionals whining about their love lives while standing next to the office water-cooler and acting as if having a crush on your manicurist were as dramatic as the Ride of the sodding Valkyries.

If I can bring politics into the mix here - when have I ever not brought politics into the mix? - then I should make my position completely clear. My objection to programmes of the Single Female Lawyer oeuvre isn't purely aesthetic, although the sight of skinny, shrieking rich people pretending to have emotional problems is unconscionably ugly. We should stop for a minute to consider what kind of society we live in now, and how well television has primed us for it. This is a society in which, more than at any other time since World War Two, we're trained to view (a) swarthy-looking foreign types and (b) the outside-world-in-general with suspicion. This is a society in which we consider any culture that doesn't have a Virgin Megastore and a choice of mobile 'phone networks as not-yet-civilised (this isn't just rhetoric, by the way, I mean it quite literally… our definition of "civilisation" is now almost entirely bound up in consumer hardware). This is a society in which people who seriously believe themselves to be "liberal" are happy not only to tolerate, but to actively condone, war crimes that would have been unthinkable under Thatcher, or Heath, or any other post-war leader. This is a society, or perhaps I should say "culture" here, in which Channel 4 can make a documentary called Is Torture a Good Idea? and not everybody considers it to be a bloody stupid question. This is a society in which - as never before in the last half-century, not even in the days of Suez - a single western life is considered to be equal to the lives of an infinite number of darkies.

The most obvious example is almost too obvious, but it's got to be said so I'll say it. Baghdad is a city, yet we're so used to perceiving any part of the world without a branch of Knickerbox as a wilderness that we instinctively think of it as being something like a Third World desert. This is why we're not shocked by anything that happens there. If you imagine fighter-bombers slaughtering 90,000 civilians in New York, or London, or Montreal, then the world seems like a much more terrifying place, so horrific that the fall of the World Trade Centre looks like a pinprick by comparison. In fact that is the kind of world we live in, but if our culture only extends as far as whether Girl Working in Managerial Department A is going to end up sleeping with Attractive Upwardly-Mobile Professional B then why the arse should we even notice? When the Doctor Who story "The Crusade" was shown in 1965, its portrayal of Saladin's Smiling Arabs as people who were vaguely noble rather than heathen bad guys must have seemed unusually even-handed, but it wasn't meant as a deliberate statement. If a script like that had been written today, then it'd be taken as a "message" story of the left-wing "not all Muslims are evil really" type. We should take these things for granted. We don't.

The cultural impact of the-event-I-refuse-to-call-9/11 still hasn't been properly examined (well, not to my satisfaction, anyway), but the one thing you can safely say about it is this: it came at exactly the wrong time. Popular culture, and as a consequence popular thinking, was already in a rut by 2001. But we thought we were in for happier times. Many of us speculated that as things were becoming so painfully sterile, soon there'd be another one of those miniature, chip-shop Renaissances that the British seem to be so good at. A new punk, a new aesthetic, yadda yadda yadda. Tony Wilson's ever-shaky "something interesting happens in this country every thirteen years" theory predicted good things for 2002, and despite requiring everyone to believe in a special kind of mass-media astrology, it did seem likely. Instead, with one drastically potent and lethal act, a new bunch of Smiling Arabs made sure the western world became more terrified and more inward-looking than ever. More terrified, more inward-looking, and as a result more stagnant. This is not a society in which anybody wants to risk speaking, let alone exploring. In September 2001, we went into retreat.

You might think, then, that we're in chronic need of things which are outward-looking; which are exploratory; which are xenophiliac, in a non-sexy sort of way. You might think that this is exactly the right time for opening TARDIS-shaped doors, like the ones on the cover of the Radio Times.

So here I'll back away from the politics, if only slightly. This is a review of the Mark Two version of Doctor Who (given that so much of it is aimed at the modern, TXT-happy generation, I'm already starting to think of it as Doctor 2ho), and by law you can't talk about the Mark Two version of Doctor Who without reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy was being invoked as the very model of a modern telefantasy almost as soon as the series was announced, and in light of what's actually in the first episode, the comparisons aren't going to go away; the finale, with Rose swinging on a chain to kick a monster with a "magical" talisman into a seething CGI demon-morass, is possibly the most Buffy thing ever seen outside Buffy itself and may have led you to wonder whether the transmission signal to the Autons could only be stopped by Billie Piper heroically throwing herself off the London Eye. Strictly speaking, Buffy demonstrates the same level of nauseating self-involvement as most of the rest of US television - every personal crisis turns into a monster, every slightest piece of angst becomes a grand tragedy - but Buffy can get away with it because it's about being a teenager, and the world really does look like one big Satanic mass when you're pumped full of contradictory hormones. It works because it's about adolescents, or more accurately, because it's about adolescence. In the days when Buffy Season Two was new, I remember saying that the programme wouldn't work if it were about grown-ups, because it'd just claim that lawyers are secretly the agents of Baalzebub and then find endless ways of making demons out of the difficulties of modern parenting. As you can imagine, Angel came as a bit of a blow. (You may also notice that the kind of people who like the appalling Season Six of Buffy, in which the characters grow up, get proper jobs, have weddings and generally agonise at each other, are the same kind of dullards who say things like "yeah, my boss at work, I bet he's really a demon".)

But Doctor WhoDoctor Who is about the outside world, in a way that very few programmes ever have been. Certainly not space operas in the Star Trek mould, which are almost without exception about laughing at the funny customs of the foreigner-aliens while staying inside your own wholesome, well-furnished environment and making speeches about the greatness of the American-human spirit. Doctor Who is of another bloodline altogether. It's not exactly about literacy, as my collaborator Tat Wood has sometimes suggested - Tat makes an instinctive connection between the written word and cosmic understanding, whereas I'm more cynical about the idea that literacy is automatically the "right" way of doing things - but it is about the process of assimilating alien experience. That's "assimilating" in a very human, very personal way, not the way that the Federation does it in Star Trek before blowing up the Borg for trying exactly the same thing. Even in Doctor Who's very earliest episodes, when the Doctor was a nasty old man and it was the human companions who found everything fascinating and oh-so-educational, coming to terms with the unfamiliar was at the heart of the format. I could sit here all night, listing examples of the way the Mark One programme played with this idea; I could explain in detail how, even before the audience knew there were such things as Time Lords, it was bubblewrap-clear that the Doctor was an exile from a culture which experienced nothing; I could point out how everything starts with the TARDIS, a world hidden inside a box, and how the opening shot of the first episode is designed to provoke questions about overlapping spaces rather than presenting us with a universe that's supposed to be instantly known and knowable. Even the American TV Movie version of Doctor Who, loathed and derided by so much of fandom, at least got this partly right. The Doctor ends up in the life of modern, comfortable career-woman Grace Holloway, and promptly starts to mess it up just because he's from somewhere else. Tragically he never actually shows us this somewhere else, and pitiful assistant-wash-out Grace elects to stay at home instead of taking up the TARDIS job offer, which - far more than the setting, or the morphing death-worm, or the lack of men in monster outfits, or the kissing, or the (repellent) 'half-human' line, or anything else that fans tend to complain about - is perhaps the most un-Doctor-Who-like thing in the entire production.

When the announcement was made that the new series was mostly going to consist of forty-five-minute stand-alone episodes, rather than twenty-five-minute serials (I can't believe I'm actually writing that out in full, just in case someone who doesn't know the past history happens to be reading), many fans were bothered by the change without being able to properly articulate their reasons. We may have muttered something about "there won't be any cliffhangers" and "they tried that in 1985 and it was rubbish", but I'm going to put forward the notion that what really bothered us was this: forty-five minutes isn't a big enough space for a whole world. It's true that most of the stories in Mark One Doctor Who went on too long, and that the majority of four-part stories in the 1970s would only warrant three parts these days, especially now we're so buzzed-up on video and caffeine that "establishing normality" is something programme-makers can do with a three-minute drum-'n'-bass montage of Billie Piper in London instead of twenty minutes of character-building back-story. But nevertheless, the sheer space afforded by ninety-minute stories used to be an important part of the way things worked. Ninety minutes would let you feel your way around an environment, even if (as was so often the case) there wasn't quite enough to look at. Forty-five minutes is, at best, like seeing another country through the window of a bus.

But this is Buffy-age Doctor Who. Today's catchphrase is "character-driven", and "character-driven" is something that the series was never designed to be. Making it "character-driven" is as fundamentally wrong, though nowhere near as offensive, as getting the Doctor to carry an assault rifle or padding out every episode with Zygon porn. Buffy works in the forty-five-minute format, because it's about the mountain coming to Mohammed; every week we see the same setting (the episode "Spiral" came as a shock when it was first broadcast, just because the characters all got into a van and actually went somewhere), but monstrous, alien things wander into the central characters' lives, and the focus is on those characters' reactions to whatever happens to be menacing them. And "alien" almost always equals "menacing", of course.

The news that the first episode was to be named after the new companion - unthinkable in terms of old-style Doctor Who, unless you're going to be picky and point out what "An Unearthly Child" actually refers to, but try to imagine "Terror of the Autons" being renamed "Jo" and you'll see what I mean - just seemed to confirm it. As did the revelation that there were going to be multiple appearances from Rose's mum, and the rumour that much of it was going to be unrepentantly Earth-based… because even in the UNIT years, the Doctor was at least trying to break out of the Brigadier's gravity-well. We knew how this was going to work, and we haven't been surprised. We can, I think, safely consider this Doctor to be earthbound. Episode two may be planning to take him all the way to Armageddon, but we know this series is bound to keep bringing him back to the here and now, not least because we've all seen that clip of a whacking great spaceship winging Big Ben. This Doctor is, and Eccleston's costume made this relentlessly clear even in the publicity material, a person who only makes sense in the context of Earth. The only planet we know of which has a North, despite his claims to the contrary. It doesn't matter how much he tells his pouty sidekick about other dimensions or tries to drag her off to meet Great Englishmen of Yesteryear, he's deliberately been grounded in the twenty-first century.

It may sound slightly tangential, but here I feel the need to mention the BBC's other high-profile drama of March 2005: the vapid, drivelling, unforgivable TV adaptation of Robert Harris' Archangel, a production so desperate to squeeze the story of a 400-page novel into two hours of screen-time that it leaves out everything which made the story mean anything. Archangel is, for all Harris' flaws as a writer, a novel about history. The TV version cuts out all the history, and instead gives us two hours of conventional thriller-fodder about a man who runs around Russia being threatened by heavies with Eastern European accents, because history isn't what television "does". The insularity I was talking about earlier isn't just a shutting-off of the geographical world, it's also about an ignorance of your own past; you'll all know, of course, that historical dramas can't really be made on television today unless they're sexed up and turned into period soap opera. We know this series of Doctor Who will be paying lip-service to the idea of the big-H-historical by having the Doctor meet "Chuck" Dickens, but already it smacks of a theme-park version of the past, as shallow as doing a programme about Stalin just because big figures from history look more distinguished than a weekly fix of the Moxx of Balhoon. We know the Doctor belongs on twenty-first-century Earth (the first time that we've seen him on twenty-first-century Earth and there aren't transmat terminals or personal rocket-ships involved, amusingly), so why pretend? As in Buffy, this time the monsters have got to come to us, and Rose's reactions are more important than the world around her. Episode four is called "Aliens of London", for Heaven's sake.

(The trailers were telling, by the way. The Doctor addresses us directly to promise us 'the trip of a lifetime', giving the game away even before the programme's started. We're not going to be involving ourselves too deeply here; this is the aforementioned bus ride through a foreign land, the "if you'll look out of the window on your left…" tour of the universe. Of course, this was a trailer clearly aimed at people who remembered Mark One Doctor Who and wanted to be excited by the thought of a Special Edition. The other trailer saw Billie - I'm sorry, I can't think of her as Rose, she may have turned out to be a surprisingly good actress but she'll always be the girl from the Smash Hits "pop" advert to me - debating whether to get on the TARDIS or stick with her job in Cardiff-London. It's interesting that the BBC started running this trailer in the final week before the Return of Proper Saturdays, as if someone realised that the Corporation needed a way of giving a POV character to people who'd never really seen Doctor Who before and who might otherwise by led down the left-hand path of Ant and Dec. Billie Piper: An Unearthly Chav.)

Despite all the criticism it's absorbed over the past near-decade, the TV Movie is at least halfway to being Doctor Who, at least in its storyline. Here I'm going to suggest that the new series isn't. The one thing which actually made the programme Doctor Who, the thing which I'd simply call "alienness" if years of bad TV-SF hadn't linked the word "alien" to crap latex make-up and nothing else, is no longer there. This cuts at the most basic philosophy of the series, in a way that no amount of posh CGI ever could and that no amount of Auton nostalgia can disguise. This is no longer a programme about the outside.

And yet…

And yet, this isn't a reactionary Doctor. Having established that He Walks Among Us, how is he presented to the people of 2005? What's he doing, the first time we ever meet him?

He's planting a bomb and blowing up a department store.

This may cause consternation in a few of the less-frequented areas of fandom. A Doctor packing hi-tech explosives will seem, to some, no better than a Doctor packing an assault rifle. Perhaps the problem, if you see a problem, is that he's waving the bomb around right from the start; in the past he only blew things up after all else had failed and the writers got stuck for a better ending, q.v. Tom Baker in "The Pirate Planet", "The Seeds of Doom" or (worst of all) "The Invisible Enemy". A pro-active detonator-happy Doctor is disturbing and new, and those people who objected to him immolating a planet full of inhuman killers in "Remembrance of the Daleks" - even though the same people never seem to care about him routinely killing Daleks at any other time, presumably because blowing up a planet looks more violent - may raise objections. Unquestionably, there'll be jokes about him being a terrorist. The phrase "Doctor bin Laden" will no doubt be uttered, though given what the Autons are up to, "Wheelie Bin Laden" is a more obvious source of humour.

But will they be jokes, exactly? After all, we live in a climate of fear. We've been given a domestic Doctor, though not a domesticated one, who's obviously going to be operating inside our own society. And the role he's been given is that of a man who triggers exotic explosives in urban areas and attempts to bring down organisations full of monsters. He doesn't have much in common with terrorists as we know 'em, of course, and if anything he's more like a romanticised early-twentieth-century anarchist (of the kind that G. K. Chesterton was so smug about in his vile, super-reactionary-with-wheels novel The Man Who Was Thursday, which I hadn't read when I invented Sabbath no matter what anybody says). In real-world terms this anarchist, this individual whom our grandparents might have called a "dynamiter", would be a danger to everyone including himself. But we're not talking about whether his actions would have appalling consequences in the real world, because in the real world the building wouldn't be full of Autons. We're talking about how we're being asked to see this man, and even if he's nothing like any terrorist or terrorist sympathiser we'd recognise (if you can recognise terrorists and terrorist sympathisers), we're still being asked to accept a dangerous, driven, TNT-toting guerrilla as a hero.


Now, after the TV Movie, many fan-commentators took the line of "well, it's not a very good story and obviously we'd rather see something set in southern England, but at least Paul McGann is a good Doctor". This is drivel, and if I regret anything - other than not making friends with Russell T. Davies when I was offered his 'phone number, nearly ten years ago now - then it's that I went along with this, even to the extent of basing books on it. McGann, despite being a decent actor and I'm sure a decent human being etcetera etcetera, was not a good Doctor; he was the predictable Doctor. Given the job of reintroducing the character / concept for a new and mainly American audience, the decision was made to turn him into a gross mean average of all the Doctors who'd gone before, except with extra sex appeal. And so he becomes a handsome, well-mannered, generic fantasy Englishman, a caricature of the dashing nineteenth-century hero with attractively curly hair and a streak of contrived bohemianism. It could only have been worse if they'd hired Hugh Grant. Watch the story again, and he barely even has a personality; he's been sanitised into virtual non-existence, because by 1996 we'd been conned into thinking that there was such an entity as The Xth Doctor, someone who'd fill a specific job vacancy by being good and kind and world-saving and non-threatening and ooh mummy look he's wearing flouncy shirts just like Lord Byron. The managers of all the world's boy-bands couldn't have come up with a Doctor more demographically-correct than this, and the true horror of it is that most of us fell for it, myself included. The truth hasn't really made itself felt until now.

The most important thing to bear in mind about Christopher Eccleston's Doctor is this: next to him, almost all the others look bloody stupid. As you may have gathered, I take the point of view that Season X-1 isn't an extension of the original series at all, but for the sake of those who aren't so convinced… let's pretend it is. The acid-test is, "you can judge an actor playing the Doctor by how much of an idiot he'd look if he had to share the screen with one of the good ones". So we know that Peter Davison's half-decent, even if his Doctor isn't the most overwhelmingly exciting, because we can see him on-screen with Troughton and Pertwee in "The Five Doctors" and he's actually doing his job as an actor rather than trying to upstage them. Like certain Tom Bakers I could mention would have done, come to think of it. And it's worth remembering that Tom Baker wasn't, and isn't, a great actor. He's a great performer, but by his own admission he could only ever be Tom Baker (British television thoughtfully reminded us of this just one day before "Rose" was broadcast by showing Nicholas and Alexandra, in which Baker plays Rasputin and he's basically just the Fourth Doctor in an amusing beard). Eccleston is an actor. Despite the never-changing accent, his Doctor isn't "the bloke who plays him but in outer space and without the temper-tantrums", as Baker's or Pertwee's is. It's a character he's clearly prepped for, and he obviously has no objection to playing second-fiddle when the script requires it, which may be why he's the first Doctor to overtly admit that he's stuffed without a working-class travelling companion and doesn't flinch when he says it. As a result, this Doctor has a sense of comic and dramatic timing unlike any other, and Eccleston becomes the first actor since the 1960s to be playing the Doctor rather than the new Doctor. Put him in a room with Big Tom, and after five minutes Tom would seem like a tedious old uncle who insists on repeating the same anecdote about his National Service days over and over again.

Put Eccleston in a room with McGann's Doctor, of course, and McGann instantly becomes invisible. Mr-Darcy-patterned wallpaper. A good-natured irrelevance. The way Americans think an eccentric Englishman should look and sound, without any real eccentricity or Englishness.

Eccleston has, tragically, made himself irreplaceable. After forty-five minutes.

I'm not pretending that this review is anything other than a very personal reaction, so I'll make it more personal still. Those of you know my "work" will know that I've had more than one run-in with the other authors of the poxy actorless not-in-any-way-on-television Doctor Who novels. You may have spotted that I've been particularly scathing towards some of them because of vague and rarely-defined philosophical problems, objections to their output which seem to go beyond things like "God, this story's dull, isn't it?" and into the realms of "no, this is an offence to my moral and aesthetic sensibilities". I think the real reason for this, the real reason I've reacted so badly to the works of certain writers I probably shouldn't mention, is quite simply that I hate the easy option. Nothing great is ever easy, nothing worthwhile is ever comfortable, nothing good ever tries to make us feel better about ourselves by being predictable. "An Unearthly Child" was the most unexpected thing in the world, in 1963. "Spearhead from Space", for all Verity Lambert's complaints about Pertwee being a "conservative" Doctor and for all its nods towards ITC serials, was shockingly different and shockingly… well, shocking; compare its fly-on-the-wall version of shop mannequins coming to life with the kind of thing The Avengers was doing a year earlier, and you'll see why. You could possibly argue that my hatred of easy things proves I've overdone the messianic zealotry, but on the other hand I still remember one reviewer from TV Zone telling me 'I don't want to read books that make me think', so I feel I've got good reasons to be grumpy. And McGann made it easy for us all. Girls loved him because it was a piece of cake to build sexual tension around him and give him gratuitous torso moments, boys loved him because it was a piece of cake to imagine him being a charming and vaguely flustered Mary-Sue. He was so predictable that in retrospect his character was no more in tune with the where-the-hell-is-this-going nature of the original TV series than the God-awful, Spockish 'half-human on my mother's side' line. The novels that I find most objectionable fit the McGann profile perfectly, and I thought mine did too, Jesus have mercy on me. We were complacent. We were wrong.

The new Doctor Who is not a revolutionary tract. Much as I wish that the Doctor would pull off Rupert Murdoch's head instead of an Auton's, or that he'd overthrow faux-democratic regimes here on Earth rather than on Collostomy VIII, this is in no way a force for anarchy masquerading as a television programme. It's Saturday-night entertainment that frightens kids in the medium of living plastic. But so was the series we grew up with, and I don't know about you, but it made me smarter. This version of the character / programme is, ultimately, not wholly safe; not fluffy and harmless like McGann, not a one-man look-at-me show like Tom Baker, not preening like Pertwee. I barely see any connection between these people and Eccleston at all, although you could perhaps consider the new version to be the old Doctor's younger, more streetwise brother (in much the same way that you have to consider this version of the Nestene Consciousness to be the younger, more civilised version of the old one, if you're going to try to join the continuities together and explain why it's prepared to talk about constitutional rights rather than killing anything that moves for the sake of it). The Doctor is spiky, unpredictable and alarming. He blows up your job, insults you to your face, tells you you're an ape and then expects you to go along with him anyway. He's not a good-looking comedy Wellsian. He's a big-eared freak. He can read a book in seconds, something which looked like a random super-power in "City of Death" but which is introduced here in the re-start package as genuinely weird and alien. With his aesthetic of get-things-done-without-New-Adventures-style-moral-agonising, suddenly he has the power to surprise us again. Even leaving aside the fact that Russell T. Davies' version of the Doctor Who universe is chillingly familiar to me - not that I believe Davies has seen Alien Bodies for one moment, but needless to say his description of an ongoing and all-encompassing War is exactly what I would have done in these circumstances - this is, frankly, my kind of leading man. Why the hell did I put up with the last version?

Which brings me to what I might call my point, or at least my final judgement. This new series that's being presented to us on a Saturday night… this is not Doctor Who, at least not in any way I recognise it. Doctor Who was about the outside, about alien experience. True, next week we're being taken to the year five-billion, and I'll be holding a party in which I bake a lasagne and carve a smiley face on it in honour of the Last Human. But we're being asked to giggle at the funny aliens and human-descendants, a la Star Trek, and it hardly seems the issue anyway. As I said, Leather Jacket Doctor belongs in modern-day pretend-London. He can go where he likes, we know that he'll be back and that this is where he belongs. Yet this isn't an Evil American Office-Romp version of the universe, at least not if the first episode is anything at all like the rest. This Doctor Who isn't asking us to be comforted by what we already know, he's asking us to look at what we already know and be either amazed (the Millennium Wheel as alien artefact) or scared (the Auton wheelie-bin). And not scared in the way that our own society now requires us to be scared, either. In an age when our Ant-and-Dec-loving Prime Minister insists that we're suddenly facing 'terrorism without limit' - even though nasty Muslims haven't planted a single bomb in Britain and the IRA seemed to set off at least one a week when I was growing up in the '80s - this Doctor wants us to get smarter by ignoring common knowledge and assuming there's a bigger picture. This is, in short, the ideal twenty-first-century man.

So it's not Doctor Who. It's probably the best ongoing TV series since Cracker (also with Eccleston, coincidentally), and if the first episode is either "average" or "just above average" rather than "as good as it's going to get because it's the first episode", then it could well be in with a shot of turning into the best television series ever. At least for its first season. But Doctor Who says "look outside", and this says "look around". Right here and right now, though, that… may be for the best. You can bet any sodding money you like that Rose's mum watches Single Female Lawyer. The Doctor - and he is the Doctor, not the Ninth Doctor or the New Doctor or anything else - blatantly doesn't.

I'm writing this on the 31st of March, 2005. The headline on the front of this morning's Sun was DOCTOR WHO QUITS, and inside (please don't ask me how I know) there was a mock-up photo of Billie Piper with Eccleston's alleged replacement, David Tennant. Who's apparently a "heartthrob".

I smell the frock-coat of McGann, and get the terrible feeling that by this time in 2006 the series will have made a mistake so great it'll put "The Twin Dilemma" in the shade. We may only have a year to enjoy this. Please make sure that your children, should you have any, see it now.