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Russell T Davies: Bring on the Wizards & Aliens!

Russell T Davies: Bring on the Wizards & Aliens!
Russell T Davies: Bring on the Wizards & Aliens! (Image credit: EMPICS Entertainment)

Former Doctor Who boss Russell T Davies has created a new sci-fi show for kids on CBBC. Called Wizards Vs Aliens (opens in new tab), it’s a mix of Harry Potter and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Russell reveals more to What’s On TV... We love the premise of Wizards Vs Aliens – a popular wizard and an introverted boffin fighting aliens! “Yes. Wizards always seem to be portrayed as lonely and introverted now, and actually, if you’ve got a book of spells and you’re a good-looking lad, you’re going to be king of the school. That’s Tom. And Benny, the geeky one becomes one of the heroes, because he knows about spaceships, eclipses and laser beams.” Can you tell us more of what happens? “It’s a fun adventure series about a young lad called Tom and his friend Benny. Tom’s secret is that he’s a wizard, and you think that would be exciting enough, but then they discover the existence of aliens, the Nekross, who are coming to Earth to consume all the magic. Benny’s science know-how becomes invaluable to Tom in his fight against the Nekross...” Although adults will enjoy it, it’s mainly a show for kids – do you find they’re your toughest critics? “That is why I love writing for children, as they’re the most critical audience of the lot. If an adult sees a dodgy scene or line of dialogue, they stick with it. If a child sees one boring scene, they turn over.” Did the show come about after the death of Lis Sladen, which meant the end of the Sarah Jane Adventures? “There was a necessity about it, to be blunt, when SJA came to that sudden end after the terrible loss of Lis. There were a lot of people out of work - crew, technicians, designers, prosthetics people. I felt a duty and responsibility to employ these people. So it had to happen now, and it’s been lucky for me that it is an absolute joy.” Does it have a similar feel to Doctor Who or the Sarah Jane Adventures? “I suppose it has the same energy, fun and passion. But at the same time we had a sit down at the start of production and draw a line to say this is a new show.” There are lots of mentions of other sci-fi books and films in the show... “The dialogue would be quite odd if they didn’t mention these things. It would be very strange if Benny didn’t refer to Narnia or Tim Burton. We throw in a Hogwarts reference, but we try to avoid too many otherwise we’d never stop! I drew the line at Doctor Who – it would feel like the most awful in-joke! Even though I’d love the Daleks to turn up one day, we couldn’t do it. They are separate universes.” Speaking of the Doctor – are you involved at all in plans for his 50th birthday next year? “I think I’d be like the ghost at the feast, what would I do – turn up and make the tea? I have asked current boss Steven Moffat not to tell me what they are planning.” Wizards Vs Aliens begins with a two-part adventure on October 29 and 30, on CBBC at 5.15pm

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.