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14 November 2011

Harry Potter director David Yates is teaming up with the BBC to turn its iconic sci-fi TV series Doctor Who into a big screen 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, BBC Worldwide's L.A.-based exec VP of programming and production.

"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."

Doctor Who follows the adventures across space and time of a super-intelligent alien in human form, who battles a variety of cosmic bad guys aided by plucky human companions.

"The notion of the time-travelling Time Lord is such a strong one, because you can express story and drama in any dimension or time," Yates said.

The series ran from 1963 to 1989, and then was successfully rebooted in 2005 by writer Russell T. Davies and subsequently by Steven Moffat (The Adventures of Tintin). Tranter oversaw the revival when she was the BBC's drama topper in London.

Doctor Who, starring Matt Smith as the 11th incarnation of the Doctor, is now one of the pubcaster's most lucrative global TV franchises.

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.

There are two previous films, based on the TV series: Doctor Who and the Daleks (1965) and Doctor Who: Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966), both starring Peter Cushing.

The BBC has since made a few unsuccessful attempts to develop a Doctor Who feature, and shot a one-off telepic in 1996 at a time when the TV series was dormant.

But the combination of Yates and Tranter means this is the most high-powered effort to date to launch "Doctor Who" onto the bigscreen.

Before directing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Yates worked with Tranter on several BBC TV series, including The Way We Live Now and State of Play.

DWO will keep you posted with more details as we get them.

Update -Tuesday 15th November @ 9:00am

Since the posting of our news item yesterday, many more media outlets have picked up the story. Certain circles at the BBC, however, appear to be playing down the movie news as rumour.

Doctor Who Brand Manager, Edward Russell, commented on his Twitter channel:

"Off Twitter for a few hours and the Doctor Who world explodes. There's always talk of a movie. Perhaps? Maybe one day. But not right now!"

Doctor Who Magazine had the following to say on their own Twitter channel:

"To those hearing Doctor Who movie rumours, it's just the same rumours which have been going round for years. Nothing's currently happening!"

BBC America tweeted confirmation that the movie is in development:

"A Doctor Who feature film remains in development w/ BBC Worldwide Productions in LA. As of yet no script, cast or production crew in place."

The official BBC Doctor Who website posted an update to the movie rumours this morning too:

"We can confirm that a Doctor Who feature film remains in development with BBC Worldwide Productions in Los Angeles. However, there is currently no script, cast or production crew in place.

We'll bring you any significant movie developments as they're confirmed, but right now there's a lot more Doctor Who coming your way which is imminent and incredible... You'll get a glimpse of what we mean when we release the first image from the amazing Christmas Special later this week!"

Many of you are asking us what we think about it all. The BBC are certainly correct that the movie isn't happening right now, but with David Yates confirming he is directing a Doctor Who movie (to renowned entertainment news site, Variety), and that it is 2-3 years away, surely this is confirmation that something iS happening, and that the movie IS going ahead...albeit in the planning stages.

We have received thousands of tweets from our followers on DWO's own Twitter channel. Many of you are excited at the prospect of a new Doctor Who movie, but there are a lot of fans expressing worry at the fact the movie will be separate to the TV series. It is worth noting that, as previously mentioned, everything is at a very early stage right now. Surely we should all give this project a chance and take the 'wait and see' approach? What do you think? Leave your comments below or discuss in the DWO Forums on the buttom below.

+  Are you happy at the news of a new Doctor Who Movie? Vote Now in the DWO Forums!

[Sources: DWO; BBC Doctor Who websiteVariety]

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