It looks like Catherine Tate’s turn as Doctor Who’s sidekick has attracted an influential fan.

Philip Hinchcliffe, who produced the cult sci-fi series during the 1970s, thinks the comic “belongs” in the TARDIS, as the Doctor’s latest assistant Donna Noble.

He told The Stage newspaper: “Catherine Tate makes it very accessible. She’s a celebrity and I think that the new series has tapped into this… the world of young people, where celebrity-hood is now taken for granted.

“Pop Idol, I’d Do Anything… Doctor Who is a part of that landscape of light entertainment now.”

The actress, who first appeared as one-off character Donna in the 2006 Christmas Special The Runaway Bride, alongside David Tennant’s Time Lord, reprised her role this year, taking over from Freema Agyeman, who played the Doctor’s companion Martha Jones.

But Philip, who produced Doctor Who during Tom Baker’s tenure in the TARDIS, apparently said that Billie Piper’s portrayal of Rose Tyler was his favourite aspect of Russell T Davies’ revival of the show.

He said: “The Billie Piper stories particularly struck me. It’s been given a model feel – a different edge to the dramatic experience. There’s an emotional edge.”