I WATCHED the first episode of the new Doctor Who with a mixture of delight and ruefulness. Delight because it is precisely the mix of innovative creativity and connection to the past that the future of the programme needed.

Christopher Ecclestone is absolutely spot on. He looks splendid; that's the costume I would have liked black leather jacket, black T-shirt - although, I must admit it looks better on him.

He has just the right mix of humour, passion, quirkiness and single-mindedness to provide the dynamo that is necessary at the centre of the programme.

Billie Piper too is an unexpected revelation and has made the perfect start.

And the writing, special effects, filmic style and "look" have been pitched at precisely the right level.

All of which has contributed to a whole fresh and inspiring feel to the programme.

A new audience could not fail to be gripped and I believe that a significant proportion of the old loyal diehards will find enough that is familiar to be carried along for the ride, with a smile.

Ruefulness? I would have loved to have been playing the part when all that was possible.

On behalf of my children and their contemporaries, thanks are due to the executive producer and writer Russell T Davies for having the vision to prove what we all knew that there was life in Doctor Who yet.

One small cavil not about the programme just stop going on about your Mancunian roots and comparing them with your "posh" predecessors, Mr. Ecclestone.

You're following a Liverpudlian (Paul McGann), a Scot (Sylvester McCoy), and another Mancunian (me) none of whom would have been invited, or allowed, to play the role as a northerner.

Television has changed in 20 years. You had to speak "standard English" when Tom Baker (another Liverpudlian), Peter Davison, Sylvester, Paul and I started; now, quite rightly, the media embrace and show diversity in accent, appearance and race.

So be grateful, Christopher, that you're allowed to be a northerner and shut up, please. You can rely on your talent. The work needs no justification. It stands alone. The accent is irrelevant.

Play the part with passion, talent and commitment (and the signs are that you certainly are doing all three) and we don't care if you sound like an Etonian, a Grimsby fisherman or a Northern Irish preacher.

Anyway, it's nice to have something to look forward to apart from the football results on a Saturday again.

And get that sofa away from the wall! The Doctor is back with a vengeance.