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Time Lord has no time for Britain's cleverest children

BBC says no to The Doctor being gifted kids' mascot role, but yes to lucrative video-game series

BBC says no to The Doctor being gifted kids' mascot role, but yes to lucrative video-game series

He is the Time Lord, a genius scientist and a hit with families worldwide - but Doctor Who won't be a national "mascot" for gifted children.

BBC bosses behind the iconic television show have refused an offer for the sci-fi hero to front a campaign designed to stop talented pupils from being labelled "geeks".

The excuse? The Doctor, who this month undertook his tenth successful regeneration, apparently gets too many requests for help and needs to be "impartial", according to a BBC letter.

This official policy hasn't, however, stopped the corporation recently giving permission for his image to be used in a lucrative computer game deal with Nintendo.

The It's Alright to be Bright campaign was set up to give the most clever their own role models for the first time. The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) thought that The Doctor, with his passion for knowledge and his enthusiasm for learning, would be the perfect ambassador.

The BBC thought differently, saying the Time Lord needs to be impartial - and is too busy saving the universe to help out.

NAGC members are now voting for a replacement. Popular choices are Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond and scientist Professor Brian Cox, most recently seen fronting a TV series on the universe.

NAGC chief executive Denise Yates is clearly disappointed. "It's Alright to be Bright is all about saying it's cool to be clever and we thought Doctor Who oozes this quality: he is popular with everyone," she said. "But the BBC said he has to be impartial.

"It's so important for gifted children to identify with someone. Often they are only seen as the 'geek' sitting in the corner, but if they can look up to someone, they won't view themselves in that way.

"It's a shame Doctor Who won't be involved. Others might be popular, but they don't have a Tardis. But all is not lost. Now we are asking parents to ask children who they think is cool and clever."

It's Alright to be Bright was set up to celebrate the "diversity" of talent among gifted children, help them to understand the value of their abilities and boost their confidence. NAGC also wants to raise awareness of the social and emotional needs of gifted children, and the support needed by their parents.

- More information about the It's Alright to be Bright campaign can be found at www.nagcbritain.org.uk

Intellect idols

Role models chosen by the gifted children include:

- Doctor Who

- Professor Brian Cox

- Richard Hammond (but not Jeremy Clarkson)

- Luke Smith, a character from The Sarah Jane Adventures - a Doctor Who spin-off TV series for children

- Stephen Fry and Alan Davies from the TV series QI.

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