JUST back from the world premiere of the third series of Doctor Who.
A few dozen fans, many with cameras, were gathered outside the Mayfair Hotel in central London to see the cast arrive, along with some other famous faces.
Tenth Time Lord David Tennant was there to introduce the Doctor’s new companion Freema Agyeman, 27, who plays Martha Jones.
Also arriving as I made my way in through the doors was Sophia Myles – David’s real life girlfriend, who played Madame de Pompadour in the second BBC1 series.
Having travelled to Cardiff for the last two series launches, this was the first one to be held in London.
Spotted under the grand chandelier was Manchester-based writer and executive producer Russell T Davies, sharing a joke with Jonathan Ross, who had brought along his three children.
Posing for photographers by the Tardis was Dawn French, just a few feet away from a pair of gold Daleks.
Other famous names included Catherine Tate – the Runaway Bride from last Christmas – and fellow previous Doctor Who guest stars Tracy-Ann Oberman and Annette Badland.
Michelle Collins, who appears in episode seven of the new series, was also at the launch, along with her former EastEnders screen husband Adam Woodyatt.
We then moved on to the hotel’s cinema – posh, eh? – to watch the very first screening of episodes one and two, plus glimpses of the rest of the series.
They included a short sighting of Life On Mars star John Simm, playing The Master – the Doctor’s nemesis – towards the end of the new series. He was duly booed by the audience.
Russell – displaying his usual razor sharp humour – later chaired a Q&A with Tennant and Agyeman, having confirmed that series four is going ahead.
A few highlights from the post-screening exchanges:
Russell: “We’re not going to answer any questions about series four. So get that out of your heads immediately. If you do, I’ll come down and slap you.”
Does the Doctor get married in this series?
David “He doesn’t not – it’s actually quite a difficult question to give you a truthful answer to.”
Jonathan Ross: “You know, I watched it on the big screen with the sound and I thought, ‘This is great. We’re having such a great time this evening. It’s got to be a movie. You’ve got to do a Doctor Who film.’ Have you got any plans?”
Russell: “I don’t have time for breakfast, let alone make a film. But one day it would be brilliant. I think it would be absolutely brilliant. But there aren’t any plans.”
Jonathan: “It would be great.”
Russell: “Give us the money, then. You’ve got it.”
Jonathan: “I’m funding the Primeval movie.”
Russell: “ITV’s answer to Doctor Who.”
A child asked: “Are you ever going to go back in time and meet Jesus?”
Russell: “Every year I hand that script in. Let me do it! The last Christmas special, they were worried.”
Finally, some initial notes on the first two episodes screened tonight
Episode One: Smith and Jones
We first meet medical student Martha as she walks to work at the Royal Hope Hospital. On the way she bumps into the Doctor, who then appears in bed as patient John Smith. The episode stars former Corrie actress Anne Reid as an alien killer in human form and sees the hospital transported to the moon, along with 1,000 staff and patients. It’s all the work of the Judoon – intergalactic cops or “rhinos from space”. The Doctor and Martha kiss, but it’s simply the Time Lord performing a genetic transfer. She later saves his life by giving him the kiss of life. The Doctor mentions Rose to Martha, one of several references throughout the third series. A spectacular start to the new era, with lots of running and a burned out sonic screwdriver.
Episode two: The Shakespeare Code
All the world’s a stage. Set in the London of 1599 and guest starring ex-Shameless actor Dean Lennox Kelly as William Shakespeare. The Doctor tells Martha: “When you get home, you can tell everyone you’ve seen Shakespeare.” She replies: “Then I’ll get sectioned.” We meet the three witches, find out what happened to the Bard’s lost play and see where Will got some of his best lines from. The Doctor also mentions Back To The Future and Harry Potter. Just magic.
The new series of Doctor Who starts on BBC1 at 7pm on Saturday March 31.
Update: Thursday’s MEN news story is here and Friday’s MEN TV feature is here.
Official BBC Doctor Who site