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Tuesday, 24 November, 1998, 10:20 GMT
Dr Who back on the BBC
tardis
Doctor in the Tardis: BBC Choice is marking 35 years of time travelling
Dr Who is returning to the BBC to mark the Time Lord's 35th birthday - but fans will only be able to see the celebrations if they have digital TV.

But while the BBC has no plans to bring the Doctor back to TV in a new series, it is considering making a feature film of his adventures.

Digital channel BBC Choice is showing a week of special shows from 22-27 November to mark the anniversary of the Doctor's first appearance on the screen on 23 November 1963.

Viewers with digital TV or a satellite dish will be able to see rare and unseen Dr Who episodes, along with special features on the show's fans and future.

Highlights include the untransmitted pilot for the first four-part Dr Who serial, An Unearthly Child, featuring the first Doctor, William Hartnell.

Readers of a fan magazine voted the 1975 serial Genesis of The Daleks, featuring Tom Baker, their favourite serial and this will be shown during the week.

Other classic episodes include 1967's The Tomb of the Cybermen - which was only shown once before it went missing from the archives in the 1970s. It was found abroad in 1991.

Doctor Who was axed in 1989, although a TV film starring Paul McGann as the Doctor was made in 1996.

Ahead of his time

dr who
Jon Pertwee faces up to the Day Of The Daleks
While the show may be remembered fondly for its wobbly sets, and its design may seem kitsch these days, according to British scientist Dr Andrew Eaton, Dr Who was ahead of its time.

"The orginal ethos was that Dr Who was going to be educational. One week there would be an historical show where the Doctor met Marco Polo, and the next show would explore some facet of science and technology," he said.

The Daleks scared many a child of the 1960s and 1970s - but even they were based on sound scientific principles.

Dr Eaton said: "The idea is quite a scary one. It's spare part surgery gone mad.

"You start off with a hearing aid and go on from there, replacing limbs and so on, until, eventually, when do you stop being human? When do the feelings stop?

"The Daleks were half-man half-machine - the body was degenerate and had to be supported by machine."

Tardis hinting of the future

cyberman
A Cyberman in trouble
Even the dimensions of the Tardis - which was bigger inside than it was outside - hinted at future discoveries.

"There's a phenomenon called gravitational lensing, where a big gravity source like a star will apparently bend light.

"In fact it's space being bent, so in theory, with a big enough gravity source, you could pinch off a bit of space and that's what a black hole is."

Fans hoping for Dr Who to return to the small screen will be disappointed. But the BBC says the Time Lord may yet return in another incarnation - as a movie star.

"We're in talks about a possible feature film for the cinema," said a spokesman.

'Scripts prepared for feature film'

"Scripts have been prepared, but the film will be at least two or three years away if we decide to go ahead with it."

While the corporation feels a feature film may be viable, it fears a revived Doctor would look out of place on the 21st century's TV screens.

"The sci-fi shows of today such as the X-Files and Millennium have such high production values, so audiences now have much higher expectations," said the spokesman.

"So we have to go into co-production, like we did with the 1996 film. It was a reasonable success, but it didn't do enough business in the US to persuade our partners to back a new series."

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