THE WORLD’S most famous robotic dog, K9, last week returned to the TV screens after an absence of 23 years with a pivotal role in the third episode of the latest series of Dr Who.
However, in a move which is sure to delight K9’s legion of fans, TV production company Jetix Europe announced that it has teamed up with Park Entertainment and two veterans of the original series of Doctor Who - writer Bob Baker and designer Paul Tams - to develop ‘K-9 Adventures’, a comedy-fantasy series running for 26 half-hour episodes featuring the famous robot dog.
The series, set in space, will give K-9 a sleek new look using state of the art CGI animation mixed with live-action, reflecting the visual style of the whole series. The series is being developed by Bob Baker and Paul Tams’ own K-9 Films in co-operation with Park Entertainment and Jetix Europe.
Baker, whose writing credits include the Oscar-winning movie Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, as well as two of the original three short Wallace and Gromit films ‘The Wrong Trousers’ and ‘A Close Shave’, co-created K-9 as the Doctor’s robotic canine companion with then co-writer Dave Martin.
K9 made his debut during the tenure of the fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker (no relation to Bob Baker) in an episode set on a space station in the year 5000. In the story K9 was created by dog-loving Professor Marius, who was unable to bring a real dog with him into space. At the end of the story, the travelling Time Lord adopted K9, who stayed with him on his travels for a further four years – or rather, two different versions did, as K9 Mark 1 stayed with the Doctor’s companion Leela when she left the TARDIS, and K9 Mark 2 stayed with the Doctor’s later companion Romana.
In a spin-off adventure in 1981, K9 Mark 3 was given to another of the Doctor’s companions, journalist Sarah Jane Smith. The pair starred in a one-off film screened at Christmas 1981 called ‘K9 and Company’ which was planned to be the first of a new spin-off series, but no further episodes were made. K9’S last appearance was a cameo role in Dr Who’s 20th anniversary adventure, ‘The Five Doctors’ back in 1983.
Since then, Bob Baker has tried to bring K9 back to life in his own series, last mooting the idea some five years ago, but backing for the project was hard to come by, as Dr Who was off-air by then and perceived as something of a joke by the YTV industry. However, the new series of Dr Who, which was relaunched in 2005, is very much hot property, which has helped to lead to K9’s long-awaited return.
The original K-9 made a guest appearance in the third episode of the new series of Doctor Who with David Tennant, entitled "School Reunion", which aired last Saturday, 29th April on BBC1. K9 was once again accompanied by Sarah Jane Smith, the pair having an emotional reunion with the Doctor whilst battling a hoard of shape-shifting parasitic aliens in a present-day school. The Doctor’s current companions, Rose and Mickey were both somewhat taken aback by Sarah, but more so by the ‘tin dog’. In a sly-in joke, Rose asks why K9 "looks so disco", to which the Doctor replies "This is cutting edge technology in the 51st century!"
At the end of story, K9 sacrificed himself to blow the aliens up, but when the Doctor departed in the TARDIS, he left behind a rebuilt ‘classic’ K9 (Mark 4 presumably) for Sarah. The final scene depicted Sarah walking off into the sunset, with K9 trundling along beside her.
Michael Lekes, Senior Vice President Programming, Jetix Europe, says: "K-9 Adventures is an incredibly exciting project for Jetix. It’s set to be an excellent space fantasy-adventure series that we are sure will be immensely popular with Jetix viewers particularly in the UK, following the recent revival and widespread popularity of Doctor Who."
Bob Baker, co-creator of K-9 Adventures for K-9 Films says: "I am absolutely delighted to be giving K-9 a new lease of life and a new look for his own series on Jetix, and it’s thrilling to be able to offer younger Doctor Who fans the chance to get to know K-9. I believe they will love the 21st century K-9 as much as past generations did when he first appeared in Doctor Who."
Jim Howell, Chief Executive of Park Entertainment commented: "We feel that K-9 holds a very special place in the hearts of all Doctor Who fans and we are thrilled to be working with Bob, Paul and everyone at Jetix on the development and production of the series."