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Doctor Who – Harry Potter director bring series to the big screen

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 - Director David Yates with Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 - Director David Yates with Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) on location during the filming © 2010 Warner Bros
Doctor Who (2000s) Season 5 - Karen Gillan and Matt Smith
Doctor Who (2000s) Season 5 - Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and The Doctor (Matt Smith) © BBC

The director of the last four Harry Potter films, David Yates, has told film industry magazine Variety that he is working on a big screen version of Doctor Who.

He said “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”. He is developing the Doctor Who movie with Jane Tranter, head of LA-based BBC Worldwide Productions. They are still in early stages with the movie not expected to reach the screens until at least 2013/14.

He is also quoted as saying, “It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena” and dismissed Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat recent tv versions as not being suitable for the movie. They are currently looking for writers on both sides of the Atlantic and will spend two to three years to “get it right”. Like the Harry Potter films they want to maintain a British sensibility but also like Harry Potter this does not mean the writers have to be British.

Jane Tranter was recently involved in working with Starz in bringing the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood to the networks screens. She has had a big influence on BBC drama/fiction for many years. She was Head of Drama when the BBC brought back Doctor Who in 2005.

Doctor Who - Original logo 1963 - 1966
Doctor Who - The original logo used for the first Doctor, William Hartnell © BBC

Doctor Who started back in 1963 and had a continuos run until 1989. During the 60’s there was two movies made based on the popularity of the Daleks. As the actor, William Hartnell, playing the tv role was busy with a weekly production Peter Cushing (who also had a high cinema profile) was brought in to play the Doctor. The films, based on two Dalek story television scripts, where surprisingly more juvenile than the tv series of the time. Hopefully this is not a concern with David Yates’s background on the Harry Potter movies which even though featuring school children had a very adult approach.

In 1996 the BBC involved an american production company to make a tv movie using studios in Vancover (the same ones later used by Stargate). They had hoped in would re-lunch the series but that had to wait until 2005 when show-runner Russell T Davies successfully brought it back. Russell was responsible to the spin-off Torchwood (an anagram of Doctor Who). In 2010 Steven Moffat took over as show-runner. Steven was also the main script writer for the recent big-screen Steven Speilberg Tintin.

Variety believe the combination of of David Yates and Jane Tranter means “this is the most high-powered effort to date to launch Doctor Who onto the big screen”. A BBC spokesman said: “A Doctor Who feature film remains in development with BBC Worldwide Productions in Los Angeles. The project is unlikely to reach cinemas for several years and as yet there is no script, cast or production crew in place.”

Doctor Who fans may also be pleased to note the BBC is doing it’s first official Doctor Who Convention in March 2012. It will take place in Cardiff the home of the current Doctor Who production team. Tickets went on sale yesterday. If your interested you can follow the link here.

You can read our interview about his work on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 here.