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article imageBBC provides new one-stop shop for science-fiction fans

By Andrew John     Apr 10, 2010 in Entertainment
Britain’s foremost broadcaster, the BBC, has created what it hopes will be a one-stop shop for the world’s Doctor Who fans, with the relaunch of its website devoted to the Time Lord.
And part of the new site is a new dedicated blog.
“Having worked on the Doctor Who site for a number of years now, our team in Wales were very aware that the entire franchise was going through something of a regeneration,” says Andy Dudfield, delivery manager for the Future Media and Technology department at BBC Wales, which makes the long-running sci-fi drama.
US TV screens will see the launch a week today, on April 17, of Series 5 of the new adventures of the time-travelling Gallifreyan, now played by 27-year-old British actor Matt Smith, and his companion Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan.
It launched a week ago in the UK with The Eleventh Hour, and tonight’s (Saturday’s) UK episode is The Beast Below, which begins at 6.15 British Summertime. In it, the Doctor and Amy find themselves aboard Starship UK, which houses the future of the British people as they search the stars for a new home. The episode was written by the new Who executive producer and chief writer Steven Moffat and directed by Andrew Gunn, and it also stars the popular British actress Sophie Okonedo as a character called Liz Ten.
Previously, Okonedo appeared as the Doctor’s companion Alison Cheney in Scream of the Shalka, which was a 2003 animated Web-based serial (a so-called “webisode” written by Paul Cornell) – starring Richard E. Grant as the Doctor – broadcast by the new website’s predecessor.
At the time, Grant was billed as the ninth Doctor, and it was intended for the series to continue. However, later that year, the BBC announced the launch of Russell T. Davies’s new Who, and the ninth Doctor’s TARDIS became occupied by Christopher Eccleston. Cornell went on to write Father’s Day (starring Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose) and Human Nature (starring David Tennant as the Doctor and Harry Lloyd as Son of Mine) for the television series.
Of the new Web presence, Andy Dudfield says: “The brief was a simple, if daunting, one: ‘Make the site the Number One destination to experience the world of Doctor Who, past, present and future.’ In web-design terms, this is something of a dream ticket. Having a chance to extend the reality of a show with such rich subject matter as Doctor Who is an amazing opportunity and we were keen to ensure that we could take the impossible world of Doctor Who and make it feel possible in an online context.
“We were also eager to ensure that the website could be built in such a manner that it became a platform to distribute originated content associated with Doctor Who – creating an appointment to view – not just a means to reflect and promote the linear TV experience. This in turn meant that the goal was to ensure Doctor Who becomes more than the Saturday night TV programme and becomes a 24/7 experience of which the online element is a key component.”
The site even has a dedicated section dealing with Doctor Who’s many monsters, such as the Daleks and Cybermen.
Dudfield says of particular importance is the site’s news section: “Firstly, the greater level of production news, which is a key request from our users, and also the ability to break important Doctor Who news stories on the site. We are also working to ensure we have better links with the main BBC news site.”
The first port of call for fans has traditionally been Outpost Gallifrey, which now has a successor, Gallifrey Base (Gallifrey is the fictional planet of the Time Lords and home to the Doctor).
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