From the editor of Doctor Who Magazine to its new eponymous hero: a few words about the Tardis and tachyonics
I'd like to be among the first to congratulate you as you prepare to take the form of the eighth TV Doctor Who in Universal's soon-to-be- made TV film.

Thousands of Doctor Who fans around the world have waited for more than six years for a new episode of their favourite TV programme. As the full- time editor of a magazine devoted solely to Doctor Who, I am also, quite frankly, relieved that we've got something new to talk about.

Personally, I think you are a splendid and inspired choice to take over the role of the Doctor. I have always had my own shortlist of key requirements for the new lad, which I'd like to share with you.

He should:

1. Be a talented and charismatic actor - no pop stars or comedians, please.

2. Have a special enigmatic or dangerous quality.

3. Be about 36 years old and from Liverpool. (Tom Baker, a Liverpudlian, was in his late thirties when he took the part in 1974, and he did us proud, leading the show through its most successful and popular period.)

4. Be that bloke who was so superb in Withnail and I and wasn't Richard E Grant.

Sadly, many people dismiss Doctor Who as a quaint and rather sloppily made product of the Sixties. They are, of course, completely missing the point. The Doctor is one of British television's greatest creations. He is, alongside perhaps Basil Fawlty and Ena Sharples, one of very few characters created for television - rather than being stolen from a book, film or comic strip - to have truly caught the imagination of British viewers.

Doctor Who is the most imaginative concept of any TV drama. The Tardis can take the Doctor to any place at any time. He can save planets from Dalek invasions or take tea with Marie Antoinette. He can battle killer shop-window dummies in the streets of Ealing or mutant seaweed in the North Sea. He can do anything.

Children have been denied such a hero as the Doctor for too long; his combination of innocence, wanderlust and abhorrence of violence make him the ideal alternative to the glut of violent cartoons and formula soaps that have filled the airwaves in his absence. It will be great to have him - you - back on TV.

However, I'd hate to waste this chance to offer, tentatively, a few pieces of advice before you step before the cameras for the first time.

First, make sure they give you a warm costume. I know you're filming in Canada, but I'm sure they have quarries there, too. Your seven predecessors didn't wear long coats, scarves and hats without good reason.

I would also recommend crash courses in astrophysics, electronics and bio-chemistry. You are soon going to be called upon to talk about "charged vacuum emboitments", "tachyonics" and "dimensional transcendentalism" with great conviction, so some scientific training would help.

Finally, to paraphrase Alfred Lunt, the secret of success as an actor in Doctor Who is to enjoy yourself, speak in a clear voice, and try not to bump into the tentacles. We're all rooting for you.

GARY GILLATT

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