Russell T. Davies interview in L.A. Times.

There’s a really good interview with Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Sarah Jane Smith Adventures executive producer Russell T. Davies in the L.A. Times:

In 2003, the BBC approached Davies to revamp “Doctor Who,” and under his leadership, the show’s success has ballooned. It survived what could have been a massive blow when after the first season it lost its lead, Christopher Eccleston. He was succeeded by David Tennant, who has since become a high-profile star here; he will play Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company later this year. An audience of 13.31 million watched “The 2007 Doctor Who Christmas Special” (with guest star Kylie Minogue)—a lot of people for a small country.

Licensed “Doctor Who” merchandise crowds the shelves at Boots and Borders. Eight-year-old boys in gray flannel school uniforms huddle at bus stops furtively trafficking in the show’s trading cards. “Doctor Who” appears—at least to a displaced foreigner—to be the most visible of Britain’s current pop culture commodities. Having been sold to 40 territories worldwide, it is also among its most exportable; in the U.S., it airs on BBC America and the Sci Fi Channel.

Even Davies sometimes finds it overwhelming. “Put the ‘Doctor Who’ stuff away!” is how he said he sometimes feels. “It’s weird, isn’t it? You see that logo everywhere.” He paused for a moment, and continued. “It’s the time of our lives.”

Among the more interesting bits includes news that the The Sarah Jane Adventures is coming state-side as well as when we can expect to see the fourth series of the new Doctor Who:

What’s striking about the “Doctor Who” franchise is the wide age range it not only speaks to but also seeks out. When Davies embarked on “The Sarah Jane Adventures,” about an investigator and her 14-and-younger companions, he sought to tell younger stories without neutering them. There’s death and despair, he said, but less violence and more fun. Also, Davies added, with a laugh, “more hugs.” (It will be broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel beginning in April.)

The same can be said for “Torchwood,” though hugs on that show usually turn to more. If “The Sarah Jane Adventures” is G to “Doctor Who’s” PG-13, then “Torchwood” is decidedly R. Which is not to say kids here aren’t watching—and Davies thinks the crossover is to be celebrated. “I won’t even engage in it,” he said of being confronted by parents offended by the open bisexuality of “Torchwood” leader Capt. Jack Harkness (played by American actor John Barrowman). “I won’t apologize for it. I won’t even defend it. Because a defense is an apology.”

There’s also an interesting bit on how James Marsters got cast in season 2 as a recurring character:

It will help that in the season opener, they bonded in hatred over Capt. John Hart, a time agent who shares a complicated and passionate history with Jack. Much has been made of “Torchwood’s” similarity to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which gives a seemingly layered significance to the casting of James Marsters, “Buffy’s” Spike, in the role of Capt. John. But Davies said the choice was just a happy coincidence. He’d given up on finding a British actor to play the role and had temporarily scrapped the character when out of the blue Marsters’ agent got in touch. Still, Sunnydale-starved viewers may have felt that they got a shout-out when Marsters, in a costume half Adam Ant and half Janet Jackson circa “Rhythm Nation,” ended his first scene with the line “I’m thirsty.” It’s a recurring guest spot.

Season 4 of “Doctor Who” airs in the spring here and in the U.S. (on Sci Fi, starting in April). Then 2009 will be what Davies calls a “gap year,” with only four one-hour specials. Although the show has been commissioned for a complete season in 2010, he and Tennant are not yet signed on.

I’m a little happier to hear that 2009 will still see four one hour specials instead of the single Christmas special that was originally announced and I’m not too worried about Tennant signing on for the 2010 year as he’s already suggested he plans to do so. Some folks think Davies needs to move on to other things and Davies himself seems to feel the same way so it’ll be interesting to see who takes his place in 2010, if Davies does leave that is.

1 thought on “Russell T. Davies interview in L.A. Times.

  1. A couple of months ago I read there would be 4 specials in 2009 and that Steve Moffat would be taking over Doctor Who when Davies steps down.

    Lets hope so. His stories were some of the best Who ever done in its 45 year history.

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