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25 fascinating facts about modern Doctor Who

From Billie Piper and Matt Smith's steamy screen liaison to David Tennant's mind-bending Doctor Who family tree, top New Who trivia from Paul Kirkley's book Space Helmet For a Cow (Volume II)

Published: Wednesday, 14th December 2016 at 3:27 pm

6. Squee-m of the Shalka

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Richard E Grant played an alternative Ninth Doctor in 2003's animated 40th anniversary webcast Scream of the Shalka. Among the supporting cast was a young Doctor Who fan called David Tennant – who only found out about the production because he was recording a radio play in the studio next door, and begged the director to find him a part. “I play Caretaker Two,” he beamed. “It’s very hard not to get excited. I would kill to do more of these.”

As it turned out, he wouldn’t have to resort to such drastic measures...


7. Warp drive

Of the Doctor Who stars who have taken part in Top Gear’s Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, Matt Smith secured the fastest lap time with 1:43.7, followed by Billie Piper with 1:48.3, David Tennant with 1:48.8 and Christopher Eccleston with 1:52.4. Eccleston had to be provided with a special car as he is only licensed to drive automatics – and this from the star of Gone in 60 Seconds (maybe Gone in About Half-an-Hour would have been more accurate.)


8. Take your time, Lord

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In 5 July 2008, fourth season finale Journey’s End became the first Doctor Who episode ever to top the week’s TV ratings – a mere 45 years, seven months and 13 days after the show's first episode had aired.

Talk about an overnight sensation.


9. Keep your hair on

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Philip Segal, producer of the 90s Doctor Who TV movie, was furious when Paul McGann arrived for filming in Vancouver minus the long, wavy locks he’d sported when he’d cast him. McGann – who’d had a crewcut for a recent Gulf War drama – suggested simply playing the Time Lord with short hair, but Segal was having none of it, and a stylist was duly engaged to run up two curly wigs at $5,000 a piece.

Guest villain Eric Roberts, playing the Master, also refused to wear the special phosphorescent contact lenses provided for him, and complained the prosthetic make-up was bringing him out in a rash. Did they have to cut the itchy label out of his underpants, too?


10. Skate off

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To everyone’s eternal regret, Russell T Davies once turned down an offer to appear as a contestant on ITV’s Dancing on Ice.

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