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Yates to direct bigscreen ‘Doctor Who’

'Potter' helmer, BBC working on pic of sci-fi TV series

“Harry Potter” director David Yates is teaming up with the BBC to turn its iconic sci-fi TV series “Doctor Who” into a bigscreen franchise.

Yates, who directed the last four Potter films, told Daily Variety that he is about to start work on developing a “Doctor Who” movie with Jane Tranter, head of L.A.-based BBC Worldwide Prods.

“We’re looking at writers now. We’re going to spend two to three years to get it right,” he said. “It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.”

Doctor Who” follows the adventures across space and time of a super-intelligent alien in human form, who battles a variety of cosmic bad guys aided by plucky human companions.

“The notion of the time-travelling Time Lord is such a strong one, because you can express story and drama in any dimension or time,” Yates said.

The series ran from 1963 to 1989, and then was successfully rebooted in 2005 by writer Russell T. Davies and subsequently by Steven Moffat (“The Adventures of Tintin”). Tranter oversaw the revival when she was the BBC’s drama topper in London.

Doctor Who,” starring Matt Smith as the 11th incarnation of the Doctor, is now one of the pubcaster’s most lucrative global TV franchises.

The series airs Stateside on BBC America.

Yates made clear that his movie adaptation would not follow on from the current TV series, but would take a completely fresh approach to the material.

Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside and start from scratch,” he said.

Yates and Tranter are looking for writers on both sides of the Atlantic.

“We want a British sensibility, but having said that, Steve Kloves wrote the Potter films and captured that British sensibility perfectly, so we are looking at American writers too,” he explained.

There are two previous films, based on the TV series: “Doctor Who and the Daleks” (1965) and “Doctor Who: Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.” (1966), both starring Peter Cushing.

The BBC has since made a few unsuccessful attempts to develop a “Doctor Who” feature, and shot a one-off telepic in 1996 at a time when the TV series was dormant.

But the combination of Yates and Tranter means this is the most high-powered effort to date to launch “Doctor Who” onto the bigscreen.

Before directing “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and both parts of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” Yates worked with Tranter on several BBC TV series, including “The Way We Live Now” and “State of Play.”

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