Russell T Davies, the man behind the revival of Doctor Who, believes the show could run for another 20 years.

After years away from British screens, the Time Lord made a triumphant return in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as his assistant Rose Tyler.

And though Eccleston stepped away from the role after only one series, David Tennant's popularity in the part has seen the show's fortunes soar, with the 2007 Christmas special a huge ratings success and a flourishing spin-off series, Torchwood, performing well on BBC3.

Talking to SFX magazine, Davies - a lifelong Doctor Who fan who made his name in television with the likes of Queer As Folk - said the show could stay on the air for another two decades if it is correctly nurtured.

"Doctor Who is now one of the BBC's biggest flagship shows and this sort of pattern will guarantee it being on air for 20 years," he said.

"It's no good looking at that American pattern of making seven years if you're lucky - that's just not going to work. Who wants it to die after seven years? It's much bigger than that."

While a fourth series of the new Doctor Who is due to air in April, in 2009 there will only be four special editions, due to Tennant being committed to a production of Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

However, Davies said that taking a break until the fifth series in 2010 is crucial to the show's longevity.

"It needs looking after, in the sense that it needs pauses, it needs its legend revamping every so often," he explained.

"If you build these pauses in now and say this will always happen, that's part of the plan now - it's literally a 20-year plan, which can't be guaranteed, because different people will be in charge in years to come - but if you present them with something rock solid, that is working, and has a unique transmission pattern that shouldn't be interfered with, then it will stay."

12/03/2008 14:39:06