3 items from 2013
It's pretty hard to fathom now that BBC One is on the verge of celebrating the show's 50th anniversary in spectacular fashion, but there was a time when (whisper it) Doctor Who wasn't on television.
If you ignore that one night in May 1996 when Paul McGann lit up our screens, Who was in absentia for 16 years, but that doesn't mean that the BBC weren't looking for another sci-fi or fantasy hit to replicate the show's success...
This week's Friday Fiver takes a look at a few such attempts - not programmes like The Tomorrow People inspired by the show's original run, or series like Primeval and Merlin which launched in the wake of the new show's success.
These are the shows that tried - with varying degrees of success - to fill that Doctor Who-shaped hole in our hearts between 1989 and 2005.
> Doctor Who: 11 golden moments from 50 years of »
The plain-speaking, adventurously dressed star of Channel 4's student sitcom is bulldozing through barriers for black women on screen
Television's coolest characters often come with a signature "thing". The Fonz from Happy Days had his leather jacket and his thumbs. Master William from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air had his hi-top fade and loud trousers. In the Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat, Vod has her off-the-wall clothes and that withering gaze that cuts down foolishness at 20 paces. She's easily the coolest character on television at the moment, but when I tell that to the woman who plays her, the response is charmingly modest. "I would really like to keep anyone who says that in my pocket, as I go about my daily life," says Zawe Ashton (the Zawe is pronounced like "Bowie"). "When I hit a low point, I'd just ask, 'What's that you're saying in there? I'm the coolest person on TV? »
- Ade Adewunmi, Bim Adewunmi
From the over-sexed Pe teacher to the chain-smoking, alcoholic head, where have all these far-fetched dramatisations of life in school come from?
Register taken, all present and correct: the overwrought gay drama teacher; the over-sexed, in-your-face, under-intellectually-resourced Pe teacher; the confused elder statesmen of science; the naive French teacher with hearts-and-minds-delusions; and the chain-smoking alcoholic headteacher. I haven't yet spotted the workshy union rep but I can confidently predict he or she (on current form, probably the former) will stagger into shot at some point, post-pub, clutching his Nut rulebook and the Racing Post. Welcome to Big School, the BBC's latest addition to the secondary-school-as-warehouse-for-lifelong-adult-failures comedy canon.
It's hardly a lone entrant in the field. We already have a second series of Bad Education in the offing, a vehicle for self-professed "rubbish teacher" Mr Wickers (Jack Whitehall), the top of whose whiteboard features the legend "Follow me on Twitter". But »
- The Secret Teacher
3 items from 2013
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