A new Doctor Who feature film is in the works, and David Yates of Harry Potter fame wants to bring it to the big screen.
It’s time for a serious confession: The first time I ever watched an episode of Doctor Who, the campy, smart, ridiculously long-running British sci-fi series was two days ago. For a new fan – even one who enjoyed the show, like me – getting into an IP with four decades of backstory is a daunting prospect. Luckily, David Yates, director of the four most recent Harry Potter movies, has joined forces with BBC Worldwide to take a stab at adapting the Doctor’s adventures for the big screen. While Doctor Who has already provided a few feature films, this would be the first one to see a theatrical release in almost fifty years.
Longtime fans may be distressed (and new fans may be relieved) to learn that Yates has no intention of connecting his new film with the current show’s continuity. “[Recent series writers] 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,” says Yates. The director has every intention of staying true to the spirit of the source material: the story of a time-traveling, tweed-clad adventurer who fights evil wherever – and whenever – it occurs, armed with a sidekick and a surprisingly versatile screwdriver. Still, some changes will be in order, especially to fit it into a two-hour format. “It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.”
The good Doctor has already starred in three feature films: two in the 1960s that made it to theaters, and one in the 1990s that did not. Yates’s ace in the hole for this project comes in the form of Jane Tranter, a powerful British producer. Tranter has some impressive projects to her name, including the 2005 miniseries Rome and the 1999 BBC production of David Copperfield. Furthermore, she proved her Doctor Who prowess by producing two episodes of the series spinoff Torchwood. There’s no guarantee that the movie will see the light of day, but Yates and Tranter working together will make a powerful case for it.
There’s no doubt that some Doctor Who fans will see the film as a godsend, while others will await an impending disaster. In my case, I’ll have to watch quite a few more episodes before I’m educated enough to have an opinion on it. Sitting on the couch while watching hours upon hours of charming British sci-fi is a tough job, but I think I’m just the man to do it.