Doctor Who thing of the day: Hollywood threatens a Doctor Who movie from Harry Potter’s David Yates

the Doctor as Harry Potter by Jeff Delgado

Here we go again. We faced the prospect of a Disneyfied, Johnny Depp-starring Doctor Who movie last year. That bullet was dodged, but now there’s a new reason to be afraid. From Variety:

“Harry Potter” director David Yates is teaming up with the BBC to turn its iconic sci-fi TV series “Doctor Who” into a bigscreen franchise.

Yates, who directed the last four Potter films, told Daily Variety that he is about to start work on developing a “Doctor Who” movie with Jane Tranter, head of L.A.-based BBC Worldwide Prods.

“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.”

Yates made clear that his movie adaptation would not follow on from the current TV series, but would take a completely fresh approach to the material.

“Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside and start from scratch,” he said.

Yates and Tranter are looking for writers on both sides of the Atlantic.

“We want a British sensibility, but having said that, Steve Kloves wrote the Potter films and captured that British sensibility perfectly, so we are looking at American writers too,” he explained.

But don’t panic quite yet. From Dan Martin at the Guardian’s TV & Radio Blog:

Yates looks to have jumped the gun somewhat. The BBC has responded with a statement that simply admits that a film “remains in development.”

But Martin elucidates the concerns very well:

The genius of Russell T Davies’s 2005 revival was that it wasn’t a reboot at all, but the continuation of one long story that started in 1963; Christopher Eccleston the very same man who had been played by Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy before him. But it managed that without new fans requiring any pre-knowledge whatsoever. Doctor Who fans get hysterical about canon, but they do it for good and loving reasons.

Where would this new story begin? Respecting the source material in going back to the junkyard in London’s Totter’s Lane in 1963? A nonsensical runaround Gallifrey full of Timelords in silly collars? A premise as simple as RTD’s Rose, where a wandering time-traveller befriends an Earth girl and takes her off on adventures?

I’m doing my best not to jerk my knees here. This stuff matters, and it’s not immediately clear from Yates’s (admittedly brief) comments, that he understands that Doctor Who is about more than a man who can travel through time. In fact it’s about a superhero who never uses weapons. It’s about a complicated friendship between an alien man and a human girl. It’s about a man who ran away from a fusty academic race because he wanted to have adventures. It’s about monsters, yes, but it’s also, to generations of people that span 50 years, about a warm reassurance on Saturday nights on BBC1. Can Yates replicate any or all of that? And if not, will the end result still be Doctor Who?

Yes yes yes to all.

Okay, start panicking now…

(Via the entire Net, and everyone, and the whole planet. Thank you all. The Doctor as Harry Potter by Jeff Delgado.)

(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)

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