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BBC Hires Harry Potter Director David Yates to Develop Doctor Who Film Franchise

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by Anne Thompson
November 14, 2011 2:27 PM
69 Comments
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Doctor Who's David Tennant


Well, it took them long enough. But at long last the successor to the mighty "Harry Potter" franchise might just be venerable sci-fi BBC series "Doctor Who," which is finally getting its big-screen launch with four-time "Potter" director David Yates at the helm. Yates told Variety that he is developing the first film--which will introduce the space-traveling Time Lord and his iconic red telephone booth blue police box time machine to those not already familiar with the global hit TV series--with the BBC's Jane Tranter, who worked with Yates on "State of Play."

The question is, which of the many doctors will play the role? My favorite is not current doctor Matt Smith but the last one, the sexy and resourceful David Tennant. But will they go for a major movie star? This is a serious franchise opportunity for the right actor with a working British accent. Doctor Who is ageless, light-on-his-feet, athletic, witty, wise, admirable while not perfect, and always replaceable. Colin Firth, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Grant and Hugh Jackman could all fit the profile. Any suggestions? UPDATE: I like one idea a lot: Benedict Cumberbatch ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy").

Casting is a ways off. Yates told Variety he is starting from scratch on the movie adaptation with new writers who could come from anywhere: "We're looking at writers now. We're going to spend two to three years to get it right," he said. "It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena…The notion of the time-traveling Time Lord is such a strong one, because you can express story and drama in any dimension or time."

The original BBC series, which started in 1963 and lasted through 1989, was rebooted by Tranter and Russell T. Davies ("Torchwood")  in 2005 and later by Steven Moffat ("The Adventures of Tintin"). Two films were adapted from the early TV series, starring Hammer "Dracula" star Peter Cushing, and in 1996 there was a forgettable "Doctor Who" TV movie.

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69 Comments

  • Dave Leek | March 14, 2012 5:56 PMReply

    For me there is only one choice for the Dr in the big screen version - Eddie Izzard. He has the gravitas and bizarre sense of comic humour to make the franchise a huge worldwide success.

  • Yani | November 30, 2011 9:31 AMReply

    I'd love to see a Doctor Who film.
    My favourite is also David Tennant - he was amazing in the role! It would be great if he reprises the role.
    I love Benedict Cumberbatch and I know he's a huge fan of the show, but I've heard that he doesn't want to play the Doctor. He's a friend of Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, David Tennant as far as I know. But still I believe that Cumberbatch can do awesome job as the Doctor. If he has his natural hair color, then the Doctor will finally be ginger.
    Tom Hiddleston can also do it very well.
    Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor - I like them, but I just can't see them in that role - it's just not theirs.

  • Bad Wolf | November 24, 2011 12:00 AMReply

    As awesome as Benedict Cumberbatch is, he has said in a previous interview that he wouldn't really want to play the doctor because, for one reason, he knows several of them (David Tennant and Matt Smith).

  • PT | November 15, 2011 9:31 PMReply

    Say it ain't so....

  • Queelez | November 15, 2011 12:12 PMReply

    "...and in 1996 there was a forgettable "Doctor Who" TV movie."

    Do you mean the TV movie that, while definitely flawed, was a relatively solid story and had my personal favorite Doctor in it? The one with some of the most Doctor-y of Doctor moments "These shoes fit perfectly," the Doctor holding himself hostage, and "Give Me Your Hand?" The one that paved the way for the revival, as it was the first time the Doctor was seen as a romantic figure? The one that spawned a seventy-installment book series, comics, and audio dramas that are still being released today?

    That 'forgettable' movie?

  • David | November 15, 2011 2:00 AMReply

    Red telephone booth? Wait a sec, Yates isn't rebooting Doctor Who; he's making an Inspector Spacetime movie!

  • GirlwithaBlueBox | November 14, 2011 8:04 PMReply

    I don't mean to step on any toes, Anne, but I wanted to share a link to another article on why this is such a GOOD idea. This pretty much sums up everything I think ought to be done with any fandom-turned-movie: a reinterpretation taking all our favorite elements and making it something new enough to not be a rehash but familiar enough to warm our insides. http://io9.com/5859483/ I couldn't have summed up my thoughts half as eloquently as this article did. Seriously guys, give the movie a chance. When you're told you can't possibly do something because you'll ruin it, it ruins your performance, doesn't it? When you're encouraged, don't you do a better job? Stop hating on Yates. I think he did a fantastic job on the Potter films and I'm sure he has enough magic left over to take us on one wild ride through time and space.

  • Lord Rassilon | November 14, 2011 7:57 PMReply

    As someone previously stated I don't think Yates and Tranter realise what a sewage works worth of shinola they are going to unlease if they get this wrong. Hell hath no fury like a Whovian scorned, and there are a lot of Whovians out there across the whole world . The story HAS to fit into the established existing Who-niverse history so I do not like the sound of Yate's quote "It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena...." one little bit.
    One of the most impressive things I saw at the cinema was when they trailed David Tennants third season in cinemas just prior to it airing on BBC 1. To see the interior of the Tardis up on the big screen was fantastic.
    I personnaly I agree with a previous poster who suggested a film set around the events of the time war. With maybe both Paul McGann and possibly even a brief cameo from Christopher Eccalstone (Both big screen actors) for the post-McGann regeneration scene just to add completeness to the existing Who-niverse timeline.
    And as RTD is now establishing himself out in LA maybe he could be approached to write the screenplay. Of course this is all a pipe dream, but a darn good one surely any Whovian must agree.

  • girlwithabluebox | November 14, 2011 7:12 PMReply

    The fact that you wrote RED TELEPHONE BOOTH when the photo right beside it is a BLUE POLICE BOX... well, I got a great laugh out of it.
    And hell, I'm excited by the idea of a movie. It isn't necessarily Hollywood getting the film and it isn't necessarily Hollywood giving our beloved Doctor a red telephone booth, so calm down you guys. Let's try to be supportive fans. At it's worst, the movie will be a laugh that reminds us of our good times with the Doctor. At it's best, the movie will draw in new fans. Being scifi, I highly doubt we'll get a bunch of squealing girls chasing after our favorite Blue Box. Maybe a few weird ones. You know, the kind that hang out at Hot Topic and buy every Invader Zim item despite not ever having seen the show? Ah, I'm rambling. Point is, this is happening. As true fans we will see it. If it is canon, then hell, we will be forced to accept it.
    Let's be honest: the future Doctor Who film will be an alternate Doctor in an alternate Whoverse, but the movie will most likely play out like a really long special. I see no reason to poop our diapers over this.
    When you announce to fellow netizens that you will not be seeing the movie, "Hollywood" has less of an incentive to give us Whovians a decent film. They'll ignore the canon already set up in the series because, well, we all said we weren't going to see it anyway, so who'll check?
    How about we all focus our attention on making sure they get it right? Instead of shouting, "NO, NO, NO," let's give them a reason to put their best effort into the movie and to give us a great 2 hours of running, running, and brilliant running.

  • TheJesus | November 14, 2011 7:46 PM

    It's a joke. It's a joke. It's a joke. It's a joke. It's a joke. It's a joke.

  • DavidC | November 14, 2011 7:05 PMReply

    The Doctior has been old, young, middle-aged. At 900+, he's always older on the inside.

    Couldn't be any worse than Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, if that's any consolation.

  • Nat | November 14, 2011 6:43 PMReply

    Red telephone booth? Someone's been watching a lot of Inspector Spacetime...

  • Anne Thompson | November 14, 2011 6:39 PMReply

    My face is red, not the tardis. The picture is right there, a blue police box, not a red telephone booth. I happen to have a red telephone booth toy in my house which I have always believed was the tardis. I kid you not. Hence my stupid mistake. I have watched the show for many years, hence my regard for David Tennant. Forgive me all. I was in a rush to post quickly--always a mistake when you are a running a blog with no editorial oversight whatsoever. Let me ask you all, do you care what age the doctor is? Are my choices too old? I LOVE Benedict Cumberbatch.

  • GirlwWthaBlueBox | November 14, 2011 8:00 PM

    It's okay, Anne--you've admitted your mistake and a few of us got a good laugh out of it. Nothing endears you more to a pack of strangers than doing something a little embarassing. People making a huge deal out of it must have a bad case of diarrhea or something. I know that puts anyone in a bad mood.

  • CRS | November 14, 2011 6:00 PMReply

    I understand you confusion on the red telephone box, that is all you see in the movies and in England as well. All the phone boxes are red, but there is a reason. The reason you do not see TARDIS BLUE police boxes is because the makers of Dr. Who have copyrighted them. No one can use them without permission. Still that is no reason not to fact check. You fired.

  • John | November 20, 2011 3:13 AM

    Actually the original Police boxes that were used by beat coppers in the UK were blue to distinguish them from the normal red telephone boxes. The police boxes have mainly fallen out of use now due to the use of two way radios and mobile phones. The police boxes in Glasgow were actually red so the author was right in some respects that red police boxes do exist but not in the context of Doctor Who. My vote would be for David Tenant to reprise the role - but I think the Benedict Cumberbach would be a good casting also - he played Sherlock Holmes wonderfully in the modern reinvention of the character and I am looking forward to the next episodes in that series due out in 2012 I think.

  • Kevin | November 14, 2011 5:56 PMReply

    this is going to be ridiculous.. if it's not going to fit in with the current TV show's season and feature the current (or future) Doctor, it just doesn't need to exist. PERIOD. END OF DUSCUSSION.

  • Anna | November 14, 2011 5:56 PMReply

    NO. Just......NO.

  • Optimistic Prime | November 14, 2011 5:44 PMReply

    Well on the bright side, if he totally screws up on the casting by hiring an American. There's a possibility that it will be NPH.

  • Bobby V | November 14, 2011 5:44 PMReply

    If you're going to write an article at least try to know what you are writing about, "iconic RED telephone booth"???? As a matter of fact, there it is in the photo, the TARDIS BLUE Police box!!!

    It would be cool though to have an original cast show us the beginnings of the Doctor. Totally unrelated and disconnected from the TV production.

  • Amelia Pond | November 14, 2011 5:11 PMReply

    AHAHAHHA This is false.

  • JW | November 14, 2011 4:57 PMReply

    No. Just no. David Yates, I respect everything you did for the Harry Potter franchise, but leave Doctor Who and his blue TARDIS alone.

  • PLEASE NO | November 14, 2011 4:55 PMReply

    "Red telephone booth" ? Heck no. Its not even red. Or a telephone booth. ITS A BLUE POLICE BOX.

  • wgb | November 14, 2011 4:53 PMReply

    Blue hox! Yes it would great to have a superb doctor who film. Previous incarnations are quite dreadful Paul McGann could have made Doctor Who his own, sadly the storyline wasn't all that. The interest wasn't there at the time either. Thank goodness for Russell T. Davies.

    If the film is going to succeed then continuity and familiarity should be right at the top of the list :) If its a trilogy remember the mishmash that was Spiderman 3.

  • stephanie | November 14, 2011 4:48 PMReply

    the iconic phone box is blue.

  • China | November 14, 2011 4:46 PMReply

    Benedict Cumberbatch is a brilliant suggestion. One of the best actors in the world and with the right vibe for the role.

  • DavidC | November 14, 2011 4:37 PMReply

    Cumberbatch is a terrific idea. Of more established stars, how about Hugh Laurie?

  • ThisIdeaSucks | November 14, 2011 4:36 PMReply

    I want to boycott this movie.

  • Lee | November 14, 2011 4:36 PMReply

    Anne Thompson <---- if u pay this person any wages, please re-think wasting your money on them again.

    I would like to see DW on the big screen, I like Matt Smith playing the role, I feel that he's been one of the best Dr's, funny and mad, just as the doc should be.

    Colin Firth, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Grant and Hugh Jackman WTF are u thinking Anne? these would make awful Dr's, the Doc aint no pin up superhero...(hugh Grant...sorry you don't fit either roll :)) Like everybody else that's read this post OMG you better be colour blind cos the tardis is BLUE! think of the british bobby and do you think red or blue?

  • Dianne | November 30, 2011 4:22 PM

    But alas, Hugh Grant was a very handsome Doctor in the renowned Comic Relief sketch which featured Rowan Atkinson, Richard E. Grant and even Joanna Lumley as Doctors.

  • Holly | November 14, 2011 4:28 PMReply

    Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC's Sherlock) is perfect for this role. He doesnt want to be saddled by a long term tv series but I bet he'd be interested in a film franchise. He's the perfect match and his parents have been in the series version to.

  • Seriously..? | November 14, 2011 4:24 PMReply

    No. Like others have said.. It is a BLUE box..
    And we don't need a film, Doctor Who is fine how it is, a movie would just ruin it.. We don't need to over-dramatise it..

    But then, if they did go along withthis stupid idea, who would be the real Doctor?? And if this is just to join in with the money it brings, all I have to say is Moriarty's words.. "Back off, my dear"

  • Jerry | November 14, 2011 4:16 PMReply

    If they're so keen on doing this project, then they should definitely go with both David Tennant and Matt Smith. I believe that all of us fans of Doctor Who would like to see them both working together. And seriously what's with the colour of the Tardis ? A film could be a bad idea, especially if some big actor potrays The Doctor. I personally would watch it either way, but I would prefer if it was either David T. or Matt S. or both of them together.

  • Emily | November 14, 2011 4:13 PMReply

    I am appalled at this. First of all, those suggestions for actors are AWFUL and seriously, RED?!

  • ANNIE | November 14, 2011 4:03 PMReply

    Last time I checked, the TARDIS was not only blue, but you have a picture of it in your article. And just because an actor is british, which Hugh Jackman isn't, by the way, does not mean they will play the Doctor. Also, this is just the worst idea I've ever heard. I mean, if David Yates does not realize how many people will rage about this then wow, is he in for a fun surprise.

  • m | November 14, 2011 4:01 PMReply

    RED? RED? RED? (still outraged)

  • M | November 14, 2011 4:00 PMReply

    RED? RED? RED?

  • M. | November 14, 2011 3:59 PMReply

    Hm...Last time I checked,the TARIDS was a very,very blue police box.BBC should stop with the crazy movie ideas and use the money to keep Doctor Who Confidential.

  • David | November 14, 2011 3:54 PMReply

    Aside from the obvious and horrendous mistakes about the TARDIS (I mean you have a picture of it right there!), and the terrible writing, Russell T. Davies rebooted the series with Julie Gardner. Jane Tranter was not previously involved at all.

  • Vanessa | November 14, 2011 3:53 PMReply

    First of all, like many have stated, it's a BLUE police box, thank you very much. I swear, if this movie ruins Doctor Who, heads will roll. I don't want it to become another fad that I'll have to endure while the teenage girls are mooning over 'how totally hot' the Doctor is or whatever. This movie is going to be torn apart by the seams, and Yates better do at least a decent job or all the Whovians are going to riot. Including myself.

  • Cassandra | November 14, 2011 3:46 PMReply

    Isn't there an editor for this site? I mean someone who goes through and checks the facts before publication. Checks for spelling and grammar errors. Jesus, it's like reading Killing Lincoln by O'Reilly. "If it sounds right it's gotta be right. Right?" I can't even...why would you allow something like this to be posted when there is such a large following of DW fans who will gladly drag you through the dirt for being incorrect. The next thing you're going to tell me that the next Doctor is going to be a woman and Paris Hilton is going to play her with her chihuahua Tinkerbell as her companion. Holy fuck.

  • Doctor Donna | November 14, 2011 3:45 PMReply

    RED? RED??

    I could have done a much better job with this article. Not only because I'm a Doctor Who fan, but because I know how important it is to check the facts. Not to mention the grammar. Jesus.

  • Dave | November 14, 2011 3:44 PMReply

    Red??? RED!!!??? It's blue, idiots! Another reason Hollywood needs to stop turning great TV shows into half-a**ed movies. You can't even do your research and get the color right!

  • Marissa | November 14, 2011 3:39 PMReply

    DO. NOT. WANT. For starters, the person writing this article couldn't even get the colour of the TARDIS right even with a picture they posted. THE TARDIS IS BLUE. This shouldn't happen if you don't know the freaking colour of the TARDIS. I hope they don't pick some huge Hollywood star to play the Doctor either..

  • Mikey | November 14, 2011 3:29 PMReply

    Wow... factual and spelling errors...
    Guess I'll have to get my info from a more competent source.

  • holly | November 14, 2011 3:29 PMReply

    this is really awfully written, unfortunately.

  • Duke | November 14, 2011 3:28 PMReply

    How about a "prequel" film with Paul McGann set during the Time War. That way Hollywood gets their explosions and space battles, and the fans get that big continuity hole filled in?

    Although McGann might be reluctant to do another Hollywood DW film, given how well the last one went.

  • DavidC | November 14, 2011 3:28 PMReply

    They have no idea what a shit storm this is going to generate. "...radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena"?? An early annopuncement that Tennant will play the Doctor is the only thing I can things that will save these morons from being lynched.

  • Sharon | November 14, 2011 3:28 PMReply

    Oh, and while we are on the topic of fact checking, lets also run the article through SPELL CHECK. It would catch those oh so annoying 'left finger before right' typos.

    ...right actor with a wokring British accent..

  • Andrew Pearce | November 14, 2011 3:31 PM

    They also meant 'eminently' when they wrote 'imminently'...

  • The Doctor | November 14, 2011 3:28 PMReply

    "iconic red telephone booth time machine" shoot the writer, just another garbage columnist who has no idea what his subject matter is. BLUE was the color you were looking for just look at the picture of Doctor Who posted in your article, don't you people have editors?

  • Craig | November 14, 2011 3:24 PMReply

    RED!!!!!!!! me thinks a colour blindness test is in order. The Colour Of The Tardis Is BLUE!!!!!!!!!

  • Sharon | November 14, 2011 3:24 PMReply

    RED? As anyone who has ever watched, read, talked to a Doctor Who fan, read anything remotely connected to Doctor Who in the news/anywhere online would know, the Tardis is BLUE. You even used a photo with a BLUE Tardis. Epic journalism fail.

  • Cass | November 14, 2011 3:22 PMReply

    Will only watch this if David Tennant is back as the Doctor.

  • Honor | November 14, 2011 3:19 PMReply

    I think Sam Claflin would be a good Doctor. I mean, he's hot, young, and has an amazing accent. And learnt to act at the best school there is... MINE.

  • Michael | November 14, 2011 3:17 PMReply

    '....and his iconic red telephone booth time machine....'

    A perfect example of why anything with the word 'Hollywood' in it shouldn't be allowed anywhere near this sci-fi/fantasy classic. Just no. Oh, and Matt Smith is a hundred times better incarnation of the classic character than the ham Tennant ever was.

  • GirlwithaBlueBox | November 14, 2011 6:56 PM

    Smith is a wonderful Doctor, but don't knock Tennant. He is THE Doctor for me. If anyone is a ham in that show, it's Karen Gillan.

  • Lindsey | November 14, 2011 3:16 PMReply

    No.

  • Michael | November 14, 2011 3:15 PMReply

    '....and his iconic red telephone booth time machine....'

    A perfect example of why anything with the word 'Hollywood' in it shouldn't be allowed anywhere near this sci-fi/fantasy classic. Just no. Oh, and Matt Smith is a hundred times better incarnation of the classic character than the ham Tennant ever was.

  • Julia | November 14, 2011 3:13 PMReply

    regarding Alyssa's comment about casting Shia Lebouf, Zac Efron or Anton Yelchin in a Doctor Who movie: I think we need someone a bit older with more character and charisma. We need a "Doctor" and not a "Resident" .. LOL ;o)

  • Josh | November 14, 2011 3:12 PMReply

    The TARDIS is not red, you posted a picture of David with the TARDIS, and it's BLUE!! This is not a good idea, "Doctor Who" and "radical transformation" should not be used together. At all.

  • Chase | November 14, 2011 3:11 PMReply

    Holy Christ, red?!?!? I can't blame you for not watching the series and having to write up this story, its your job, but come on!

  • Alyssa | November 14, 2011 3:03 PMReply

    Shia LaBeouf, Zac Efron, Anton Yelchin, Ed Westwick, Penn Badgley, Adam Brody, Chace Crawford or Emile Hirsch as the Doctor

  • Dianne | November 30, 2011 4:19 PM

    The Doctor MUST BE BRITISH!

  • Why? | November 14, 2011 3:46 PM

    No. Just no.

  • Humanity | November 14, 2011 3:25 PM

    Ew.

  • Lori | November 14, 2011 3:01 PMReply

    The TARDIS is BLUE not red even the picture you are using is BLUE

  • Brian | November 14, 2011 3:00 PMReply

    "red telephone booth time machine" Red??? Really??? Please fact check before publishing.

  • oldhousegeek | November 14, 2011 3:00 PMReply

    You're going to get crucified for this by the faithful. :-) As shown in the photo accompanying your article, the Doctor gets around in a blue police box.

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