New dose from the doctor

ADMIT it – if you could take a pill and watch the fat slip away, you would. But what if the fat didn't just vanish, but something altogether far more sinister was going on?

It's not without reason that the slogan for Adipose Industries new miracle slimming tablet is 'the fat just walks away', and the strange goings on are attracting attention from two people who have quite a lot in common.

Office worker Donna Noble has been investigating all number of odd activities since her festive wedding was ruined when a giant spider killed her fiance.

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Somewhat unsurprisingly, directly afterwards she turned down an invitation for a jaunt through time and space with the weird and wonderful man – the Doctor – who saved her.

But now she's had time to think, Donna, played by Catherine Tate, sets about tracking down the Time Lord in tonight's first episode of a brand new series of Doctor Who.

Partners in Crime is a wonderful funny romp and hugely entertaining, with Tate and leading man David Tennant playing brilliantly off each other. As well as being a great opportunity for anyone who hasn't previously seen the series to come aboard, it's also your chance to see the latest alien that's going to become this years essential Christmas toy – and more than likely a stress buster on many an office desk.

Former Coronation Street star Sarah Lancashire plays the villainous Miss Foster a woman on a mission and armed with a sonic pen. She's the first of many high profile guest stars – including Tim McInnery, Felicity Kendall, Fenella Woolgar and ER's Alex Kingston – in a series that's literally fit to bursting with danger, excitement and, of course, monsters.

As well as the Daleks, original series aliens the warlike Sontarans return this year, with Young Ones' star Christopher Ryan playing their leader. Speaking at an exclusive screening earlier this week, Tate revealed that it took her full weekend to realise that the monsters weren't actually powered by electricity but in fact actors in costumes. She discovered the truth when one Sontaran removed his helmet.

"Bob pops up or whatever," she recalls. "I nearly died."

Also making a return are the Ood, when the Doctor takes Donna to visit her first alien world.

"I loved the Ood," says executive producer and head writer Russell T Davies. "I thought we never did enough with them so in Planet of the Ood we go and visit them. I love that episode."

Before their journey to the icy Ood-Sphere though, things are about to get a little hotter for the time travellers when next week's episode sees the Doctor taking Donna back to Pompeii. Wouldn't you just know it – it's volcano day, and the Tardis has gone missing.

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But Donna's more concerned with why the Doctor can't just save everyone, with Tate giving a blistering performance that will move you to tears.

And not, Davies promises, for the last time in this series.

"She is going to break your heart," he says. "Truly, she's one of the best actors I've ever worked with, anywhere. She is phenomenal. And of course she's funny. You will be crying your guts out at certain episodes, with her.

"To see David Tennant and Catherine Tate together, that is the most blistering combination of people. It's just like a whole new Tardis with a whole new dynamic to it. They're just wonderful together," he explains.

This time around however, the Doctor's companion isn't going doe-eyed for him.

"It was the next thing to do really," Tennant says about the

Doctor and Donna's non-romantic relationship. "You've had a love story, you've had an unrequited love story, let's have a non-love story. I think it sets the series off on a whole new dynamic."

Tate interjects: "The thing about Donna is she knows he's an alien. She knows he's got two hearts. She don't want to know what else he's doubling up on. I think that's a fair point."

As ever, trouble is brewing for the Temp from Chiswick and the Time Lord from Gallifrey. Trouble that sees the well-reported return of

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Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, last seen trapped in a parallel dimension

following a battle with the Daleks and Cybermen. But Davies says rumours about the show's explosive finale haven't yet quite hit the mark.

"There are good rumours out there. A lot of those rumours are true but I haven't seen anyone get the whole picture yet. It's just phenomenal," he beams excitedly.

At the screening in London's West End this week, an exclusive trailer revealed the characters will be returning to help the Doctor fight his biggest challenge yet. Rose's mum Jackie and long-suffering boyfriend Mickey will join forces with journalist Sarah Jane, Torchwood's Jack Harkness and former Prime Minister Harriet Jones. But one figure, which appeared to have the top half of a human and the base of a Dalek, remained hidden in the shadows.

Tate laughs when asked if she found filming the series – which takes nine months to shoot – physically demanding. "I complained about my shoes quite a lot."

"They put you in some quite big heels for a couple of episodes,"

Tennant nods.

"It's really embarrassing," Tate adds. "In the close-ups I'd be wearing Marks and Spencer's foot gloves – they're what old ladies wear."

• Doctor Who, 6.20pm, BBC1, tonight

• Doctor Who Confidential, 7.10pm, BBC3, tonight

All hail the regenerator who saved a franchise

Prolific, controversial and original in equal measure, Russell T Davies is one of the most successful writers working in television.

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Massive amounts of praise have been heaped upon his work, which includes Queer As Folk, Bob And Rose, The Grand, and of course, a certain prime time science fiction drama.

Until Russell's revamped the franchise in 2005, it's fair to say Doctor Who's glory days were long gone. The tenure of Sylvester McCoy, the last man to play The Doctor in a full series, wasn't held in the same regard as golden-era Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker, while after the axe in 1989 all but the most optimistic of fans had given up hope of the show ever returning.

A whole generation of children had missed out on cowering behind the sofa when one of the Time Lord's many foes – like the infamous Daleks – appeared on screen, and knew nothing of the sometimes hammy acting and low-budget special effects devotees loved so dearly.

But there was still a great deal of affection for the character and his escapades.

"We were very aware of that when we brought it back," says Russell. "We knew there were lots of people who'd not seen it before. We were writing for them, really.

"All the elements of the show were there, the Tardis, the sonic screwdriver, but it was a clean start," he continues. "The dread was that mum and dad would sit down and watch the show, but the kids wouldn't because, let's face it, you don't want to do what your parents do.

"That was a very big worry at first, but I think it was a cynical view of families. It turns out kids love sitting with their mums and dads to watch TV.

"I just knew if we could create that sense of event every week we'd stand a chance of being successful and getting an audience. And I was right," he laughs.

HAve your say: Sour-puss whinger brightens up square

gareth edwards

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AND so after a storm of eye catching, ear-shredding trailers, not to mention the ubiquitous billboards, bus-posters and newspaper ads, she's finally back.

Eastenders (BBC One, Mon-Fri, 8pm) has recently been pulling out all the stops to win back its dwindling audience, and their ace in the hole was the return of Bianca Jackson, the sour-puss ginger whinger played by Patsy Palmer, and her on-off lap dog Ricky – or to put it more accurately: "RICKAAAAAAAAAAAAY".

Of course even in the land of soap there has to be some tenuous reason for a character who hasn't been seen for years suddenly coming back.

The catalyst for Bianca's return was the death of Frank Butcher, which led to the usual punch and judy slap-fest between his former lovers Peggy and Pat, and more importantly, to the return of the extended Butcher clan.

Among them was Ricky (Sid Owen), who has predictably not moved on very far – he has a new pasty-faced bangle-earring clad girl called Melinda, who has her own shrill "Rickaaay" call to bring him to heel and a curious dislike of girls with ginger hair.

In Ricky's glazed-over eyes however this must seem a step up in life, if only because Melinda has a gold puffer jacket, while Bianca only has the silver version to keep her warm as she drags her four kids around the streets looking for place to stay.

Yes, Bianca is homeless, and to avoid letting her kids get taken away by social workers will do anything - including camping out in a bus stop. Her desperate situation calls for help - let's just hope she doesn't have to rely on Ricky.

Also back in the Square was the fantastic queen of evil Janine Butcher, last seen heading to the cells for a murder she didn't commit, who turned up in a silver Mercedes, rattling her claws, clicking her spiky heels and convincing no one in particular that she was there for anything other than the reading of her dad's will.

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Before that of course was the funeral, the second one for the character of Frank Butcher, but hey, who says you can't recycle old material.

The death of Mike Reid

almost a year ago ensured Frank would never be coming back, but knowing that the actor had passed away some time ago made this seem more than a

little ghoulish.

Still, if you could put that to one side it was a good send-off, with little flashbacks to the wedding of Frank and Pat – still one of the best rated episodes in the soap's history – and another chance to see the hideous, but hysterical, spinning bow-tie moment.

It was a great way to relive past glories while bringing back some of the show's strongest characters, and if nothing else the return of Bianca should ensure Albert Square is anything but dull. For at least a week.

But what have you been watching?

Coronation Street (Wednesday, ITV1 7.30pm)

"I'm really enjoying it at the moment and I'm waiting for David to be caught out by Gail. It's starting to get very tense. It's one of the best story lines they've had."

Sandra Morris, 45,

Blackhall, classroom


The Simpsons

(Monday, Channel 4, 6pm)

"I still find it funny even though I've been watching the Simpsons since I was about five."

Claire McKim, 23, Bruntsfield, Student

CSI: Miami

(Tuesday, Five, 10pm)

"It's very high packed action and addictive. It's a classic big budget American show, they do it best!"

Amanda Mclaren, Roseburn, 22, Drama Student

The Apprentice

(Wednesday, BBC1 9pm)

"I watch this programme every series and I really like Alan Sugar. This time the contestants seem more crazy than normal so it should be very addictive."

Candice Purwin, 23,