Media Back when I had a decent salary, The Guardian was a daily purchase. Quite often I'd read most of it online the night before, but I felt duty bound to pay for it the next day anyway because someone has to pay for the journalism and advertising isn't going to cover it all. But jobs change, life changes and the price of the newspaper increased and sadly I can't afford the pay the £70 odd a month to buy every issue plus The Observer. So I make a digital contribution of a couple of pounds here and there, just to keep my conscience clear. 

But I do like to buy the physical paper when changes are afoot and so for the past couple of weekends, I've paid the £3.50 for the Saturday edition as it transitions from a clutch of different supplements, some of which have been running for a few decades, to a single entity covering some of the same material and a few others. A lot has changed since the mid-90s heyday when it even had a supplement dedicated to collating material from other publications and could try experiments like leaflets which tried to imagine what a news publication looks like now. 

Saturday glances backwards and forwards.  Returning to a format close to original 90s magazine, it's essentially much of the editorial innards from the glossy Weekend of recent times with the contents of The Guide and Review sections wedged in the middle before the lifestyle section.  If you weren't aware of the change and simply looked at the various themes on The Guardian's website, I'm not sure you'd see much of a difference. You can definitely tell what would have been the cover story on The Guide this month and Armando Iannucci's Brexit poem would have sat easily in Review instead. In other words, it brings some order to the chaos of the different supplements by making them more cost effective. 

Another approach would have been to retain the brands but simply put them under the same paper-based roof but this no doubt offers some tonal flexibility within the editorial if there's another major event and the supplement wants to produce a special issue. Instead we have a pot pourri of interviews and articles which comes across as a degree level version of The One Show, albeit without the interviewees being asked to weigh in on whatever Tim Dowling's doing that week, perhaps in the corner of the page with a photo and speech bubble.

One of the new slots,  "Dining Across The Divide" is utter horseshit, as a ridiculously ignorant Brexit voting anti-masker talks to her exact opposite and they list all the things they disagree on. Except like Blind Date, the conversation is presented through witness testimony after the fact rather than extracts of what was actually said at the table, so all we really get to hear is how reasonable they both thought they'd been in an immensely boring way. Unless The Guardian's has some trick up its sleeve, every single one of these columns is going to be identical. 

But there's also a really lovely piece in which Sophie Ellis-Bextor and her Mum Janet recreate an old photo from the mid-80s and they each talk about their relationship with one another and how her Mother's fame effected her at school and elsewhere growing up. Sophie says she lot her step-dad just before lockdown and doing the kitchen karaoke was one of her coping mechanisms. Walking the Merseyrail map and hopefully blogging some more might just be mine. Both pieces are stored in a section called "cuttings" which seems like it would have been the ideal place to put Blind Date but that's still at the back in the lifestyle section. 

Overall I was very impressed with Saturday. It has a weight and heft and plenty to read and ticks all of my aspirational boxes of making suggestions for things which'll take me out of my comfort zone, enough that I'm seriously considering buying the paper again, at least on a Saturday. I've been feeling a bit out of touch lately and with one TERFy exception, it feels like its being written for someone like me who wants an introduction to new things but isn't always sure how to access them. It's really just a case of deciding whether I can afford it, especially when the contents are on the website anyway.

He's back and it's about T.

 TV   As you know it's been a difficult few weeks, but today I'm beaming, absolutely beaming.  There are certain pop culture moments which seem so unlikely that the world, or at least your Twitter timeline seems to stop because it can't quite grasp what just happened (unless the server's gone down again).  "I'm a doctor, but probably not the one you were expecting" is pretty high on the list Doctor Who wise but taking a break in the middle of watching The Green Knight* and discovering that Russell T Davies, Russell T Davies for goodnesss sake,  is returning as showrunner for the 60th year and beyond is pretty high up there.

The BBC press release is here.  There's scant information about anything much, as you might expect, other than that it's to be a co-production between BBC Studios and Bad Wolf, the production company set up by Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter, who's about page spends a whole paragraph comparing the revival's season one story arc to the Welsh TV production industry sending its work out into the world.  They're putting the band back together and given Phil Collinson and Murray Gold both worked on It's A Sin, there's every chance they'll be returning too.  It's Saturday tea time 2005 all over again.  Again.

The press release is very careful to remind readers that there's another series and bit of Thirteenth Doctor stories to come (or however many Doctors there were before Jodie) and it is unfortunate that some extent this will overshadow the next year or so as people speculate about what the new RTD 2.0 will look like.  But twas forever thus.  Even back in the interdimensional non-space of the time vortex, when the general viewership didn't even know who was writing the show, the shift from one actor to another in the lead role was filled with fear and anticipation.

We await the Doctor Who Magazine interview within which Russell explains how he was persuaded to return, given the finality with which he communicated his desperation to leave to Ben Cook in their book The Writer's Tale.  A very large cheque was possibly involved, or the fear of cancellation because no one else wanted to do it (called by no one the JNT manoeuvre) and the enticement of being able to make it in conjunction with his old friends.  The previous workload seemed to break him last time so it is surprising that he'd want to do it all over again.  Or perhaps he just watched The Timeless Child and wanted to take one for the team.

Not to chill your mellow, but there are a couple of issues.  As we've retrospectively discovered, the production process on his previous tenure was not an altogether happy one, what with the harassment claims against Noel Clarke and John Barrowman getting his todger out in the workplace much to the amusement of cast and crewmembers who's livelihood depended on them finding it funny.  Plus Christopher Eccleston still isn't happy with the BBC or indeed Davies and co because of things he saw during the process so don't expect to see him back for the 60th.  Hopefully, as they say, lessons have been learned.

But what does this mean in the long term?  Given how enamoured Russell is about the whole business surrounding Doctor Who, Big Finish is safe, Doctor Who Magazine will be taken care of (and include a few set visits again) and we might even get Doctor Who Confidential back.  In the wider context, given that he's a collector himself and knows the pain of spines which don't match, the current logo might stay at least long enough for it to appear on all the BD boxsets.  However flimsy it seemed at first, its grown on me, although I imagine the next one'll simply be the title of the series written in lowercase BBC Reith.

Before this is posted, some wild speculation.  The next Doctor will be played by Lydia West assuming Romola's busy again.  It'll return to Saturday nights but in an old old school twenty-five minute format with story lengths of up to four episodes returning the show to twenty-odd episodes a year without much of a change in production time and some added flexibility when it comes to "double banking" and providing more cliffhangers overall.  Christmas Day episodes return although with longer seasons, they'll be woven into the fabric of those rather than standing alone.

Nevertheless this is brilliant news and I'm cracking out all of my prop words to celebrate.  Including gap years, the revival's been running for over fifteen years which is a long time for any show, especially in this genre and the fact that it's receiving a new impetuous rather than suffering through the kind of managed decline some grandees who should know better predicted (he's well pleased now the cretin) is all to the good.  That this show still has an imminent future on television and in such good hands is brilliant news and just what I needed to hear right now.  I might even start writing reviews again.