Brit Sci-Fi Roundup: Latest on ‘Who,’ ‘Torchwood’

May 30, 2009

The TARDIS is about to get another traveler.

21-year-old unknown Karen Gillan has been cast in season five of “Doctor Who,” where she will star alongside incoming series lead Matt Smith, who replaces David Tennant as the Doctor when Tennant departs the series later this year.

Filming on season five of “Doctor Who” is set to begin this summer and the series is expected to debut on BBC One next spring.

Gillan is no stranger to “Doctor Who,” however, and appeared early on in season four in the episode "The Fires of Pompeii," where she played a soothsayer on the much-beloved British series. She has previously also appeared in such programs as “Rebus,” “Harley Street,” “The Kevin Bishop Show,” and “Stacked” and can be seen opposite James Nesbitt in the upcoming feature film “Outcast,” written and directed by Colm McCarthy.

“We saw some amazing actresses for this part, but when Karen came through the door the game was up. Funny, and clever, and gorgeous, and sexy. Or Scottish, which is the quick way of saying it,” said season five’s lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat in a statement. “A generation of little girls will want to be her. And a generation of little boys will want them to be her too.”

“I am absolutely over the moon at being chosen to play the Doctor’s new companion. The show is such a massive phenomenon that I can’t quite believe I am going to be a part of it,” said Gillan. “Matt Smith is an incredible actor and it is going to be so much fun to act alongside him – I just can’t wait to get started!”

The casting of Gillan comes on the heels of the news that BBC America has acquired first-run rights to five “Doctor Who” specials featuring outbound series star David Tennant. (“Doctor Who” had previously aired Stateside on Sci Fi, with BBC America taking the second window.)

The first special, entitled “The Next Doctor,” aired in the UK in December and will launch on BBC America on June 28th at 9 pm ET/PT, followed roughly a month later by the Michelle Ryan-led “Planet of the Dead,” with the three others to follow throughout the year and early 2010.

“The outstanding quality of the ‘Doctor Who’ scripts from Russell T. Davies and the on-screen dynamic that David Tennant brings to the role are a magic combination for our viewers,” said BBC Worldwide America president Garth Ancier. “Russell’s spin-off series ‘Torchwood’ is already our highest rated show on the channel and I know the fans will follow these new specials with equal passion and support. We’re thrilled to bring this iconic show to BBC America, home of the best British sci-fi programming on television.”

BBC America also confirmed separately that “Doctor Who” spin-off series “Torchwood” will debut its third season in July.

Entitled “Torchwood: Children of Earth,” the series’ third season will be a five-night event whose air pattern will mirror that of BBC One, with the series expected to air day-and-date with the United Kingdom over five consecutive nights.

“Torchwood: Children of Earth,” written by Russell T. Davies, John Fay, and James Moran and directed by Euros Lyn, stars John Barrowman, Eve Myles, and Garth David-Lloyd, and features guest stars such as Kai Owen, Tom Price, Peter Capaldi (“The Thick of It”), Lucy Cohu (“Meadowlands”), Susan Brown (“Dalziel and Pascoe”), Nick Briggs (“Doctor Who”), and Paul Copley (“The Lakes”).

The full trailer for “Torchwood: Children of Earth” can be found below.


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