Amid Pay Gap Criticism, BBC Says New Doctor Who Actress Will Be Paid Same as Current Star


The director general has confirmed that while the gender of the Time Lord may have changed, the salary will stay the same.

When the BBC on Wednesday revealed the wages of its top earners, the broadcaster came under instant fire for sexism, with the figures showing a major disparity between the wages of its male and female employees.

Many of Thursday’s front pages in the U.K. were dedicated to the fact that former Top Gear host and Radio Two DJ Chris Evan earned some $2.9 million in 2016, almost five times more than the highest paid female, Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman. 

Coming just three days the BBC announced its new Doctor Who, curious eyes then turned to the famed Time Lord’s renumeration. Would Jodie Whittaker receive the same financial rewards for taking control of the Tardis than outgoing Doctor Peter Capaldi? 

As it turns out, she will. 

BBC director general Tony Hall said there would be “parity” between the two actors, speaking to the Evening Standard newspaper. 

While Whittaker’s pay-packet hasn’t been revealed, Hall’s comments indicate that she is likely to earn between $260,000 and $325,000, the amount received by Capaldi in 2016, according to Wednesday’s announcement. 

Hall also responded to some of the criticism the BBC had received over its first female Doctor Who, saying he thought “it was time” for the 13th incarnation to be a woman. “I watched my first Doctor Who in the Sixties, hiding behind the sofa. As a devoted Whovian, I’m incredibly excited,” he added. 

In a statement on the BBC website, the broadcaster also offered its rather polite response to the “unhappy” viewers who had contacted them over Whittaker’s casting. 

“The Doctor is an alien from the planet Gallifrey and it has been established in the show that Time Lords can switch gender,” it pointed out, adding that Whittaker was “destined to be an utterly iconic Doctor.”

 



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5 Things to Know About Incoming Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker


We are all, by now, aware that the next Time Lord is not a man. Here are some more interesting facts about the celebrated British actress.

After many months of speculation, where nearly every name from British TV was wheeled out by those ever-eager bookies, Jodie Whittaker was on Sunday revealed as the 13th incarnation of Doctor Who in the BBC’s long-running sci-fi, stepping into the time-travellng brogues of Peter Capaldi, who is bowing out of the Tardis in the holiday special.

Much debate has focused on the fact that Whittaker – known to most people as grieving mother Beth Latimer in the acclaimed U.K. series Broadchurch (created by incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall) – is female.

But away from that shock revelation, which appeared to shake some people to the very core, here are five other facts about Whittaker.

She starred in John Boyega’s breakout film…

Whittaker may expect to be battling the odd alien or two on her upcoming Tardis travels, but she’s already got a decent amount of experience under her belt. In Joe Cornish’ s acclaimed 2011 debut, the low-budget sci-fi thriller Attack the Block, she played a nurse mugged by a group of teens who then join forces to fight off a horde of jet black, dog-like creatures that emerge from a meteorite in inner-city London. And the lead star – in his film debut – was also someone testing out their intergalactic muscle for future use: Star Wars’ own John Boyega.

…and the episode of Black Mirror commissioned by Robert Downey Jr.

The first ever episode of Charlie Brooker’s dark anthology series Black Mirror may have seen the U.K. prime minister forced to have sex with a pig, but it was the third and final outing in the first season that arguably attracted the most acclaimed. In 2011’s The Entire History of You, set in a near-future where people have implants enabling them to record and replay everything they see and do, Whittaker starred as woman in a relationship that is torn apart by abilities offered by the technology. So popular was the episode that, following a bidding war, the story – or rather the concept behind it – was optioned by Robert Downey Jr. to make into a film. 

She stepped in for Carey Mulligan with just two hours notice

Having originally auditioned for the Carey Mulligan’s role on stage in The Seagull, Whittaker stepped up at the last minute when the Drive star was hit with appendicitis mid-way through the run in 2007. “I got a phone call at 5 p.m. Can you do this,” she told The Independent. “I’ve never been so scared in my life, it’s like your worst nightmare, walking on stage and not knowing your lines.”

Her code word for Doctor Who was “The Clooney”

Given the level of secrecy around the new Time Lord (even those working closely with the Doctor Who team at the BBC had no idea who it was going to be), Whittaker adopted a code word with her husband, U.S. actor Christian Contreras (who she starred with in last year’s indie comedy Adult Life Skills). “In my home, and with my agent, it was The Clooney,” she told the Blogtor Who fan site. “Because to me and my husband, George is an iconic guy. And we thought: what’s a really famous iconic name? It was just fitting.”

Her announcement as the next Doctor Who was immediately followed by predictable behavior in the U.K. press

Following Sunday’s revelation that Whittaker was going to be the 13th Doctor Who, British tabloid The Sun and The Daily Mail’s online edition chose to celebrate the news by digging up nude pictures of her from previous acting credits. Both were accused of being “reductive and irresponsible” by the Equal Representation for Actresses campaign group. One journalist on Twitter responded by saying: “I’m not sure things have shifted on their axis all that much, after all.”



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'Doctor Who' Fans Divided Over First Female Time Lord


Jodie Whittaker, who will be the 13th Doctor, gets some positive feedback, but critical viewers say that the character “is always a man” and that the BBC “just ruined the character for the sake of political correctness.”

The BBC’s Sunday announcement that Jodie Whittaker would take over the lead role in hit series Doctor Who has been met with a mix of praise for the actress and criticism of the decision to cast a female Time Lord.

“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman,” Chris Chibnall, the show’s new head writer and executive producer, said on Sunday. “We’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice.”

Whittaker herself had urged fans on Sunday “not to be scared by my gender.”

Colin Baker, who played the sixth Doctor, was among those who lauded the decision, tweeting that “the BBC really did do the right thing and let the Doctor be in touch with her feminine side.” He added: “As a father of daughters – result!” He later also wrote: “Change my dears and not a moment too soon – she IS the Doctor whether you like it or not!”

Tracy-Ann Oberman, who has appeared in Doctor Who in the past, wrote: “A generation of young Whovians who will now know that as a female in the Universe you don’t have to be the assistant.”

They joined other positive reviews for the casting decision, which included such tweets as “Jodie Whittaker is an awesome choice” and “The Dr. is the Dr., regardless of gender. #JodieWhittaker”

But others criticized the BBC for casting a female lead, suggesting the decision was made out of political correctness. “Nope, ta-ra Doctor Who. Just ruined the character for the sake of political correctness,” said one critical fan on Twitter.

“That can’t be right, it’s #DoctorWho not Nurse Who,” another user tweeted. “No offense to women but doctor who is always a man, just like James Bond,” said a third.

Sebastian J. Brook, editor of Doctor Who Online, tweeted on Monday: “Whether you agree/disagree with the BBC’s decision, there is no place in fandom for hate speech! #Respect”

In an online post about the casting news, he had written: “As I was watching the reveal on BBC One, I was genuinely shocked when Jodie Whittaker was revealed to be our first-ever female Doctor in Doctor Who. I’ve always been of the opinion that The Doctor is male, and, perhaps, always should be – it has clearly been his preference for 12 (ok 13) incarnations, but maybe now really is the time for a whole new take on the role?”

He added: “We live in a time of equality and representation, and TV is an important platform to portray this. The sad reality is that it has taken so long for these issues to start being reflected realistically, and even now there’s still a long way to go.”

He added: “I do not believe this is an ‘experiment’ or ‘stunt casting’ – or even an attempt to ‘boost ratings,’ which, by the way, are still excellent. I think this is the BBC, and Chris Chibnall saying ‘the time is right!’.”

 



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BBC Reveals First Female 'Doctor Who' Lead


The U.K. public broadcaster named the 13th Doctor and successor of Peter Capaldi after the Wimbledon men’s final on Sunday.

The BBC on Sunday revealed Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor for hit series Doctor Who

She will be the first female lead for the sci-fi series on the U.K. public broadcaster. Current lead Peter Capaldi will leave his role after this year’s Christmas special.

Whittaker, 34, is from Yorkshire, England and has appeared on such shows as Broadchurch and in comedy film Adult Life Skills, which she also executive produced and which got several British Independent Film Awards nominations.

Whittaker recently finished shooting Journeyman, written and directed by Paddy Considine, as well as playing the lead in new BBC drama series Trust Me.

Her other film credits include Venus, which earned her nominations for best newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards, Attack the Block, One Day, Black Sea, Good Vibrations, St. Trinian’s and Get Santa. Her theater credits include the title role in Antigone at the Royal National Theatre, along with roles in Bash, Awake and Sing and Enemies

The BBC had on Friday announced that it would unveil the new Doctor after the men’s Wimbledon final, taking fans by surprise. Among the various names thrown out by bookies as contenders for the Doctor Who lead role have been the likes of Fleabag creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Death in Paradise actor Kris Marshall and even Tilda Swinton.

Capaldi first stepped into the Tardis in 2013 and is set to leave at the same time as showrunner Steven Moffat exits the show.

Earlier this year, Pearl Mackie was tapped to play the first openly gay companion to the space-hopping series, which is one of the most popular shows for BBC Worldwide. 

New writer and executive producer Chris Chibnall who takes over from Moffat made the decision to cast the first woman in the iconic role.

“I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet,” said Whittaker. “It’s more than an honor to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.”

Said Chibnall: “After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for The Doctor simply blew us all away. Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The Thirteenth Doctor is on her way.”

Capaldi said: “Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker’s work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm. She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She’s going to be a fantastic Doctor.” 

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, said about the casting news: “Making history is what Doctor Who is all about and Chris Chibnall’s bold new take on the next Time Lord is exactly that. The nation is going to fall in love with Jodie Whittaker – and have lots of fun too!”

 



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CBS News, BBC Strike Content Sharing Partnership


The partners say the editorial and news gathering deal will “significantly enhance” their global reporting capabilities.

CBS News and BBC News on Thursday unveiled an editorial and news gathering partnership that they said would “significantly enhance the global reporting capabilities” of both organizations.

The announcement was made by CBS News president David Rhodes and BBC director of news and current affairs James Harding. 

The news of the partnership follows NBC News’ recent closing of the acquisition of a 25 percent stake in European news network Euronews for roughly $30 million, giving both organizations access to each other’s content and news gathering.

The news alliances come at a time when Donald Trump’s presidency is attracting much coverage in Europe, and Brexit and other European stories are also making headlines worldwide.

This new deal allows the companies to share video and other editorial content, starting immediately, and additional news gathering resources in New York, London, Washington and around the world. The relationship “will also allow for efficient planning of news gathering resources to increase the content of each broadcaster’s coverage of world events,” the partners said.

“CBS News is completely committed to original reporting around the world — a commitment clearly shared by the BBC,” said Rhodes. “There’s no better partner to strengthen and extend our global coverage than BBC News. I look forward to working with James Harding as we increase the capabilities of both organizations.”

“There’s never been a more important time for smart, courageous coverage of what’s happening in the world,” said Harding. “This new partnership between the BBC and CBS News is designed to bring our audiences—wherever you live, whatever your point of view—news that is reliable, original and illuminating. Our ambition is to deliver the best in international reporting on television.”.

The companies highlighted that the collaboration builds on a relationship that dates back to the early days of TV and radio news. Edward R. Murrow delivered many of his reports from the BBC’s London headquarters.



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Angela Lansbury, Emily Watson, Michael Gambon Join 'Little Women' for BBC/PBS


The three-part adaptation for BBC One and Masterpiece begins shooting in Ireland later this month.

The upcoming Little Women adaptation for the BBC/PBS has found its women (and a couple of men). 

Angela Lansbury, Emily Watson and Michael Gambon are set to star in the three-part drama, based on Louise May Alcott’s classic novel and due to start shooting in Ireland later this month. Watson will play Marmee Maya Hawke, with Willa Fitzgerald, Annes Elwy and Kathryn Newton playing the iconic March sisters alongside Jonah Hauer-King as Laurie Laurence. 

The latest Little Woman adaptation comes from the award-winning creator of Call the Midwife, Heidi Thomas, with Vanessa Caswill directing.

The drama, part of a volley of new shows announced by the BBC earlier this year, has been commissioned by Piers Wenger and Charlotte Moore at the broadcaster and will be produced by Playground (Wolf Hall, Howards End) for BBC One. The series is a co-production with Masterpiece on PBS. The producer is Susie Liggat.

Executive producers are Colin Callender and Sophie Gardiner for Playground, Heidi Thomas, Lucy Richer for the BBC and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece.



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BBC Set to Fight Netflix With More Money for Kids TV


The broadcaster will pledge an extra $44 million in children’s content to counter the growing influence of online offerings.

The BBC is set to counter the growing influence of SVOD rivals such as Netflix and Amazon in children’s content by announcing a multimillion dollar cash injection. 

The broadcaster will on Tuesday unveil a £34 million ($44 million) increase in spend on homegrown children’s TV over the next three years, pushing its annual spend on children’s content from $142 million to $160 million from 2019-2020, alongside a commitment for at least a quarter of this to be spent online.

The move comes amid a significant fall in U.K. investment in that area, with media watchdog Ofcom estimating that spend on first-run U.K.-originated children’s programming almost halved in the space of a decade, dropping from $180 million in 2005 to $99 million in 2015.

“Investment in British content, particularly for the young, is vital – unless we want more of our culture shaped and defined by the rise of west coast American companies,” a BBC source told The Guardian

Tony Hall, BBC director general, and chairman David Clementi are to announce the new cash boost Tuesday. 

“Tony Hall has set a clear challenge: to reinvent the BBC for a new generation,” the source added. “The way children and young people are watching and consuming programs and other content is changing fast, and the BBC needs to respond. We are exploring how new technologies can enhance how children and adults can access services and discover new content.”

The BBC last year shuttered its youth-oriented TV channel BBC3, moving the content online. 



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BBC Takes 'Feud: Bette and Joan' for U.K.


BBC Two will air the show from Ryan Murphy and starring Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis later in the year.

The BBC can’t seem to get enough of Ryan Murphy. The British public broadcaster has acquired Feud: Bette and Joan, Murphy’s eight-part series about the legendary rivalry between Hollywood icons Bette Davis and Joan Crawford for the U.K.

It acquired the anthology series, which aired on FX in the U.S., from 20th Century Fox Television Distribution and will air it on BBC Two later in the year. The same network last year showed Murphy’s The People vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

Starring Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis, Feud also features Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland and Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell. Judy Davis, Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci, Jackie Hoffman and Alison Wright also star. 

“Drama on BBC Two has to stand out for its authorship, unique vision and exceptional craft, so I am delighted that Ryan Murphy’s brilliantly realized series Feud: Bette and Joan is coming to the channel,” said Patrick Holland, controller of BBC Two. “It features some wonderful performances, a flawless recreation of period and a delicious unraveling of a personal drama that had a massive impact on modern cinema. Feud is a real treat.”

Sue Deeks, BBC head of program acquisition, said: “BBC Two viewers will relish this critically-acclaimed portrayal of Old Hollywood and a famously combustible yet poignant relationship – it is a zesty cocktail of glamor, wit and grit.”

David Smyth, senior vp and managing director, Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, said: “Feud: Bette and Joan is a whip-smart series with fantastic performances by two of today’s greatest performers, which we’re sure will captivate and delight audiences. BBC Two is the perfect home for our next series from creator Ryan Murphy, whose The People vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, just won the BAFTA after airing last year on BBC Two.”

Murphy serves as executive producer along with Tim Minear, Alexis Martin Woodall and Dede Gardner of Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. The series is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios. 



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Shanghai Media Group Pictures Strikes 'Doctor Who' Deal for China


The hit series has so far been available across a number of digital platforms in the Middle Kingdom, with BBC Worldwide looking to expand the franchise’s fan base further with the new agreement.

BBC Worldwide on Thursday said it has signed a deal with China’s Shanghai Media Group Pictures, the film business unit of Oriental Pearl Group, owned by Shanghai Media Group, for the entire catalog of hit franchise Doctor Who and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to expand the fan base of the show brand in the Middle Kingdom.

The agreement covers showrunners Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat’s seasons 1-10, incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall’s yet-to-film season 11, a first look for seasons 12-15 and Doctor Who spin-offs Torchwood and Class.

Doctor Who has previously been available across a number of digital platforms in China, including Youku, LeTV and BesTV, which is Shanghai Media Group’s linear TV service. Those deals will remain in place until they expire. The new licensing deal with SMGP marks the first time that the whole Doctor Who catalog, including future shows, has been licensed to one company in China. 

SMGP is expected to announce at a later point where the Doctor Who content will be available, with the partners mentioning plans to bring it to “popular TV channels and on-demand platforms all over China.”

BBC Worldwide and Oriental Pearl Group previously worked together on the theatrical release of Sherlock – The Abominable Bride, as well as the upcoming launch of One Amazing Day, a co-production with SMG Pictures. BesTV also recently launched the entire catalog of Top Gear, Top Gear UK, five seasons of Top Gear USA, six seasons of Top Gear Korea and both seasons of Top Gear China.

The Doctor Who memorandum of understanding also calls for the partners to explore future opportunities as well as exchange expertise. The deal was inked Wednesday evening at a signing ceremony at BBC Worldwide’s Television Center in London with Chen Sijie, general manager of SMGP, and Jaclyn-Lee Joe, chief marketing officer, BBC Worldwide. Wang Jianjun, director general president of Shanghai Media Group, Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide and Kelvin Yau, general manager, Greater China of BBC Worldwide, also attended the event.

“This marks the start of a longer and even more fruitful partnership with SMGP,” said Joe. “Doctor Who already has a substantial fan base in China. Now, Chinese fans will be able to access the entire catalog of Doctor Who and its spin-offs thanks to this agreement. The MOU is an affirmation of both parties’ commitment to build the Doctor Who brand and grow its fan base in China.”

“China is going through a time of tremendous growth and rapid market development. Everyone here is curious about popular cultures around the world. At the same time, they want to share their Chinese culture and values,” said Chen. “Doctor Who, with its long television history and iconic place in popular culture, is a great representative of British pop culture. We hope that this partnership with BBC Worldwide will enable both parties, as well as Chinese and British fans to share and exchange ideas and learnings to grow the universe of Doctor Who in China.”

BBC Worldwide and Oriental Pearl Group previously worked together on the theatrical release of Sherlock – The Abominable Bride as well as the upcoming launch of One Amazing Day a co-production with SMG Pictures. The entire catalogue of Top Gear, Top Gear UK and all the UK specials, as well as five series of Top Gear USA, six series of Top Gear Korea and both series of Top Gear China  has also recently launched on BesTV, SMG’s linear television service. There has also been a CBeebies programming block on BesTV since 2014.

 



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Hugh Grant to Star in BBC Drama About Britain's "Trial of the Century"


He will play Jeremy Thorpe, the first U.K. politician to stand trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder.

Hugh Grant will star in BBC drama A Very English Scandal, directed by Stephen Frears.

Russelll Davies is the writer behind the three-part adaptation of the book A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment by journalist John Preston, 

The drama, commissioned by Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, tells the story of what has been called Britain’s “trial of the century.”

Grant will play Jeremy Thorpe, the first British politician to stand trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder. The drama is set in the late 1960s, when homosexuality had only just been decriminalized in Britain, and Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal Party, saw his career at risk as long as his ex-lover Norman Scott was around.

“Thorpe schemes and deceives – until he can see only one way to silence Scott for good,” says a BBC show description. “The trial of Jeremy Thorpe changed society forever, illuminating the darkest secrets of the establishment. The Thorpe affair revealed such breath-taking deceit and corruption that, at the time, hardly anyone dared believe it could be true.”

“Hugh Grant is an extraordinary actor and a worldwide star,” said Wenger. “I’m delighted that he is joining the BBC One family and I can’t wait to see how he applies his unique talent bringing to life this mercurial role.”

The drama will be the first production from Sony-backed Blueprint Television, which launched last June. Headed by former Eastenders executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins, Blueprint Television is a sister company to Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin’s Blueprint Pictures, which produced The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the upcoming Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, directed by Martin McDonagh and starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell.



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