This didn't make it into the last Eye due to a last-minute injection of Maddieballs into the space it was going to occupy. So we'll call it an online exclusive...
Doctor Who is the nation’s favourite television fantasy. Which might be why one paper doesn’t feel the need to base its stories about the series in reality – or go back in time and correct them when they turn out to be balls.
26 May: “Doctor Who actress Freema Agyeman has been axed from the next series, The Sun can reveal,” writes a breathless Sara Nathan, TV editor of the Sun. “Show chiefs think her performance is not as strong as in her earlier episodes. And they are planning a storyline where the Doctor, played by David Tennant, will lose her and travel through the universe searching for her.” By mid-morning, the BBC has put out a statement: “It is absolute rubbish that Freema Agyeman has been axed or sacked from Doctor Who.” And indeed, it is announced in July that Agyeman will return for much of series four – after moving across to guest-star in several episodes of sister programme Torchwood. How does the Sun greet the news? “The BBC has confirmed Doctor Who star Freema Agyeman has been axed as the Timelord’s sidekick Martha Jones — as we predicted.”
31 May: “Doctor Who to get axe in 2008”. Nathan’s assistant Gordon Smart bears the bad tidings to Sun readers: “Hit show Doctor Who will be EXTERMINATED next year — after the fourth series. Boss Russell T. Davies has decided to axe the BBC1 sci-fi drama and concentrate on other projects. A source said: “It was decided the best thing for the show was go out at the top next year.” That very afternoon a bemused BBC spokeswoman tells the Guardian “there isn't any way it would be axed even if he left.”
5 July: “Easy Rider star Dennis Hopper is set to rev across the galaxy – with a role in Doctor Who,” Nathan shrieks. Executive producer Julie Gardner clarifies this slightly to IF magazine three weeks later: -“That’s an unfounded rumor I’m afraid. He’s not going to be on the show. It was all over the place, but he’s not coming.”
2 August: “Word has reached TV Biz that the Beeb have found the man to take over as Doctor Who from David Tennant - Cold Feet star James Nesbitt,” enthuses Nathan in the Sun’s TV column. “David, 36, is expected to quit at the end of the next series and insiders say Irishman James, 42, is a cert to get the Tardis key. The Jekyll star is pals with Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat, tipped to replace show chief Russell T Davies when he also stands down at the end of the next series.” This story circulates for nearly a full 24 hours before Moffat himself shoots it down in flames on website Outpost Gallifrey: “A total fabrication. Made up. A fantasy. Just a guy sitting at a desk and just inventing stuff.”
30 August: “Rock legend David Bowie is set to star in Dr Who — as an evil alien abductor,” reveals Smart. “Producers reckon the Ziggy Stardust singer, now 60, makes a perfect villain because of his ‘great other-worldly look’.” Breaking all previous records, Bowie manages to deny this before it has even appeared. “Tomorrow’s Sun newspaper has a half page exclusive,” his official website announces. “The whole story is news to him. David Bowie is not planning to star in Dr Who and the whole story is ‘absolute tish and tosh’.”
4 September: The BBC announces that Doctor Who has been recommissioned for two further series. Both Russell T. Davies and David Tennant will remain with the show until at least the end of three special episodes planned for 2009. How does the Sun greet this news? “BAD news for fans of Doctor Who – the show’s fifth series has been shelved until 2010.”