The popular British television series Doctor Who may be headed for the big screen. It is also rumored that show creator Russell T. Davies is interested in casting Catherine Zeta-Jones as the doctor’s companion. As for the doctor, Davies says current doctor David Tennant is his first choice. "To have anyone else would be inconceivable," says Davies.
No firm date has been set for release as the plans are still in the earliest of stages. Tennant is only signed on for five more episodes (to be shown as specials) of the show. He is eager to further his film career, so a Doctor Who movie could be the best of both worlds. Fans still get the Doctor Who and Tennant would have an instant leading role in a feature film.
As an American fan of Doctor Who it’s hard to gauge how popular the show really is. Fans of the show are practically a secret society, where there is a level of excitement in just finding someone else who actually watches it. I have found that people either love it or pretty much don’t know it exists outside of “you mean that show on PBS where the guy wears a celery stalk?” That is not the case in the UK, where Doctor Who is a popular family show. And not everyone loves it. “Doctor Who is children's stuff. It's baby-food for the brain,” Michael Deacon writes in a article for the Telegraph. He goes on to say that he doesn’t mind that the show is on but he minds “that's it's absolutely everywhere else, too – in magazines, on the front of cereal packets, in conversation.”
While it’s hard to imagine seeing the Doctor on the front of a cereal box here in America, it’s easy to see why the show is so popular. Far from “baby food for the brain,” Doctor Who is clever and imaginative. The show can be watched by the entire family, but in no way is it just a “kids show.” David Tennant is excellent and very likable as the show's tenth doctor (though I also liked Christopher Eccleston in his one season as the ninth doctor). The adventures are usually fun and interesting, and it’s one of the few science fiction programs to not limit its ideas. Basically anything you can think of can happen in the world of Doctor Who. That is where the success of the show lies. It never seems to wear out. Doctor Who was originally on the air for an astonishing 26 seasons, from 1963 through 1989, going through eight different doctors. In 2005 it was resurrected, slightly modernized, and brought back to British television.
A jump to the big screen could be very good thing for the franchise. It would be nice to see the show exposed to a wider audience. Bigger budgets and higher expectations could lead to even more interesting and exciting adventures. Doctor Who has already had a couple of big screen attempts in the past. In 1965 Peter Cushing took on the title role in Dr. Who and the Daleks and again in 1966’s Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. In these films the character of the doctor was changed to a completely different concept of the original – making him a human named “Dr. Who.” A new big-screen Doctor Who would more than likely stay true to the show in its current incarnation. Of course there is always the fear that a movie could ruin the whole thing. Maybe the story will be bad, maybe the essence of the show will be lost or for whatever reason it just not work. But in this case Doctor Who is certainly worth the chance.
There is a world of possibilities for a Doctor Who movie. The addition of a big name like Catherine Zeta-Jones would probably help get the project off the ground and fill more theater seats (not to mention getting distribution in the US). That being said, fans of the show are probably hoping that Rose, the Doctor’s companion of the first two seasons of the new series, would return. Billie Piper, who played Rose, has gained some attention and praise for her role on Secret Diary of a Call Girl. Piper also returned for the season finale episodes of this past season of Doctor Who. It would also be great to see John Barrowman as Captain Jack on the big screen. Barrowman is currently on Torchwood, a Doctor Who spin-off series, and a re-teaming of Captain Jack and The Doctor seems like a natural. There are a multitude of worlds to visit, time periods to see, and aliens to help or conquer (depending on the alien).
Only time will tell if the future holds a place for Doctor Who on the big screen.