Doctor Who takes on flesh-eating bugs and the Almighty

It has already revived the Daleks and carried a clear anti-war message. Now the writers of BBC's hit revival of sci-fi classic Doctor Who plan to mix current affairs and television nostalgia with plotlines inspired by subjects ranging from the MRSA epidemic to Hammer Horror films.

The second series of Doctor Who, starting on BBC1 on Easter Saturday, takes the time lord to places he has never been. For the first time, the Doctor, played by David Tennant, falls in love and ponders God's existence.

In a further break from tradition, the chief scriptwriter Russell T Davies said he "wouldn't think twice" about casting a woman in the lead role when the Doctor next regenerates, adding that he would love Sigourney Weaver, star of the Alien film trilogy, to appear.

The opening episode takes place on "New Earth" in New New York (actually the Gower peninsula). There, a race of nun-like catwomen run a hospital with a dirty secret. Hidden in the basement are thousands of humans infected with every known disease. Davies said that when he was writing the episode: "Everyday, MRSA was in the newspapers."

There are also parallels between the storyline and the debate over animal testing. "That's the way I write. I can't help it. I'm not saying I'm against animal testing," said Davies.

From contemporary to historical, the second episode features a fictional Queen Victoria, who is waylaid by a werewolf on her way to Balmoral. "It's very British - that Oliver Reed, Hammer Horror thing," said Mr Davies.

In other episodes, the Doctor and his assistant Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper, encounter the Devil, a squid-like monster and winged Gremlins. Old Doctor Who favourites such as the Cybermen and the robot dog K9 also make a comeback.

The first series of the revived Doctor Who drew more than 10m viewers on Saturday nights, and a star-studded cast has been signed up for the second, including the comedian Peter Kay, who wrote a letter to Davies asking for a part, Zoe Wanamaker and Shirley Henderson. Stephen Fry is writing for the third series.

Piper refused to comment on speculation she is planning to leave the show. But insiders said she was likely to leave early in the third series. She was upset not to have been nominated for a Bafta.

"I was hoping to be there... because I love the Baftas. I would be lying if I said it didn't mean anything... but I'm 23 and I've got the rest of my life to do it," she said.

Tennant said he was enjoying the freedom that the role of the Doctor allows.

"One of the things with the Doctor is you're not obliged to take a character that already exists. It's not like James Bond or Tarzan or Sherlock Holmes. Part of the point of the whole regeneration thing is you've got a blank canvas," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Sauce Recruitment: Programme Sales Executive - Independent Distributor

£25000 - £28000 per annum + circa 28K + 20% bonus opportunity: Sauce Recruitme...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Are you an ambitious, money mot...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A freelance Investment Writer / Stock Picker ...

Guru Careers: PPC Account Executive / Paid Search Executive

£20 - 24K + Benefits: Guru Careers: An enthusiastic PPC Account / Paid Search ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us