Sunday, 6 July 2008

Dr Who fans' anger as 2,500 try and call Doctor's mobile number shown during show

By Laura Roberts
6th July 2008

As the Time Lord he moves between dimensions with ease - but that didn't stop Dr Who fans from trying to track him down.

In the build-up to the finale of the fourth series, shown on Saturday last week, millions of fans were surprised to see his mobile telephone number appear on screen.

Dr Who's personal number featured several times as the digits 07700 900461 in the penultimate episode.

Dr Who

The Doctor's private mobile number appeared on screen during the final episode

More than 2,500 die-hard fans - in a frenzy of anticipation over the finale's outcome - dialled it before the programme aired in an attempt to contact their hero.

One fan complained: 'They showed that number so many times, as if they were asking for it to be called.'

But while his sidekicks Martha Jones, Sarah Jane Smith and the Torchwood team were connected, fans were left disappointed.

TV industry watchdog Ofcom revealed that it was merely a special number reserved for television dramas.

There was no charge for the error as the number is not connected.

A spokesman for Ofcom said: 'It wouldn't have cost anything to call these numbers as they are not real.

'If someone did call it they would hear either a dead dial tone or number unavailable. There are a series of phone numbers we assign to producers for TV series.'

One fan complained to the BBC's website: 'Grrr - I phoned the Doctor's phone number but there was just an annoying network message.

'What's the point in showing a phone number if you're not gonna use it?!' 

A spokesman for the BBC said:  "The BBC complied with Ofcom who supplied the programme with a safe number that was inactive and reserved specifically for the use of TV programmes."

The Saturday night finale was watched by 9.8 million viewers at its peak and made up 47 per cent of the total audience share.

But the show experienced a backlash from some fans yesterday who felt tricked by David Tennant's regeneration - after expectation that a new Dr Who would be introduced to the series.

Instead Tennant's character was able to recover in order to defeat the Daleks.

In a final twist Dr Who was copied to create a half-human clone.

He left his cloned self, destined to age like a human, to live with previous assistant, Billie Piper's Rose, on earth.

The last instalment also saw the demise of Catherine Tate's character Donna whose mind was wiped of all memories since meeting the Doctor.

The episode ended with the Doctor left alone in the Tardis.

Some fans accused scriptwriter Russell T Davies of creating a contrived story-line in order to continue Mr Tennant's run as Dr Who.

One fan wrote on BBC message boards: 'In fact the fake regeneration was a trick, a magic power to solve all the problems, AND a back-door way to let the Doctor stay with Rose and travel in our universe at the same time - so I found it very annoying.

'It's making the doctor's regeneration into a throwaway device, like the magic sonic screwdriver - not a good way to treat the regeneration.

'And the explanation was rubbish - 'Oh, I just decided I didn't need to regenerate, so why should I?' with a bit of technobabble thrown in. Definitely not good.'

Another fan said: 'After the 4th overblown conclusion in a row, I'm certainly ready for a change, and a bit less reliance on 'never mind the plot, just feel the emotion and look at the big bangs'.'

The same argument raged on Dr Who fansites.

One wrote: 'As much as I have loved (and still do) David's version of the Doctor, I feel it really is time for a change. The script is so predictable for the Doctor now, we really need a breath of fresh air, and that is hard to say coming from one of his most devoted fans.'

It has not yet been confirmed whether Tennant will complete a full fifth series of Dr Who.

He will star in a Doctor Who Christmas special this year and another three specials next year but is not confirmed for the next series in 2010.

The fifth series has been postponed so that the Casanova star can play Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Bookmakers William Hill have tipped the three favourites to succeed Tennant as actors David Morrissey, Robert Carlyle, and James McAvoy.

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