Friday, October 05, 2018

 

Doctor Who: So Who is The Doctor Anyway? All You Need To Know About Doctor Who


This Sunday evening, a new Doctor lands on BBC1. If you’re coming to the Doctor and Doctor Who for the first time, this is the perfect jumping-in point. It should give you everything you need, and the easiest way to find out what the series is about is to watch it. But if you’re thinking, ‘It’s been going more than fifty years. How do I cope with all of that?’ then don’t worry. It’s only as complicated as you want to make it. There’s really very little you need to know about the Doctor – and here’s a simple start…


What Do You Need To Know About Doctor Who?


The Doctor is a traveller in time and space. She goes anywhere she likes, from Earth’s past, present and future to alien worlds and stranger places still. She respects life rather than authority, and obeys no-one else’s rules. She lives by her own joy in exploring new places and times, and by her own moral sense to fight oppression. She prefers to use her intelligence rather than violence, and she takes friends with her to explore the wonders of the Universe.

That’s it.

OK, so that’s the important bit, but if you want answers to a few more questions, take a look at the headlines below and read the bits that you want to know about. Or you could just get on and watch an episode.




The Doctor – Who Is She? Why Does She Travel?


She’s an alien, from a world whose rigidly authoritarian rulers watched over all of time and space – but without interfering. She found that just watching and keeping everything the same bored her, when she wanted to get out to meet people and experience things for herself. So she took a TARDIS and the name “the Doctor” and left.


The TARDIS – the Doctor’s Time-ship


A TARDIS is a machine (or a place, or an event) for travelling through time and space, the name standing for Time And Relative Dimension In Space. It moves seemingly by vanishing from one place, then just appearing in the next, travelling not through ordinary space but a whirling space-time vortex. The Doctor’s TARDIS was a bit old and unreliable back when she borrowed it from her people, and she’s patched it up and customised it many times in the perhaps a couple of thousand years that they’ve been travelling together. Just to make it even less likely it’ll go where she wants it to (but more likely to go where she needs it to), it’s quite literally got a mind of its own, too.

The other big thing about the TARDIS is that its outside gives no sign of what’s inside. It used to disguise itself on landing so it wouldn’t be spotted, but when the Doctor arrived in the 1960s it got stuck on taking the form of a police box, a sort of dedicated phone booth before handy mobile communications. Inside, though, unfolds into many other dimensions and many different rooms. You will notice that it’s bigger inside than outside, then. So do most people who go in (unsurprisingly). And while the old blue exterior is pretty much a constant, from time to time the interior changes its style, colour, shape and tone, while keeping its essential character. Which makes the exterior and interior of the Ship rather like the interior and exterior of its pilot.




The Daleks – and Why the Doctor Fights Them


Once she started travelling, the Doctor found that that the more experience she had of other people and places, the more she wanted to get involved, because the more she saw the urge to dominate others the more she wanted to stand up to it. She’s opposed bullies, tyrants and monsters from many alien races – and from her own, and from ours – but one enemy always comes back.

Those she’s fought most often in their endless campaign to dominate and exterminate without question are the Daleks, alien conquerors in armoured mini-tanks with a hatred for all other races. They’re the ultimate dictators, the opposite of the Doctor’s own desire for freedom.

The Daleks too developed time travel, leading to a cataclysmic Time War with the Doctor’s own people – which is a history so complicated that no-one has a full answer. But by the end of it, the Doctor seemed the only one left, so she just carries on travelling, making the most of life, seeing the sights, toppling empires, that sort of thing. And if that sounds like a dangerous lifestyle, it’s often been fatal…




How the Doctor Changes


The Doctor’s people – the Time Lords – were each remarkably long-lived, but it’s not just that their bodies live for many hundreds of years. When they get too old, or are fatally injured, they’ve got a way of cheating death. At what would be the final moment, their body is reborn into a completely new one, giving them a new lease of life, shaking up their personality while remaining essentially the same person underneath. The Doctor’s had quite an eventful life, and the most recent body she’s been ‘born’ into is – well, it’s easiest to say it’s her thirteenth, and people will generally regard her as the Thirteenth Doctor.


How Old? How Many Bodies?


Some people might tell you that the Doctor is now in her fourteenth, sixteenth or twenty-fourth body, and they’ll all be right, but just as with the Time War, no-one has a precise answer and it makes no difference to the story. Similarly, while the Doctor is as a rule honest, what she says about her precise age tends to be very variable. Perhaps on occasion she’s dropped a few hundred years or so for vanity’s sake (my money’s on the one in the leather jacket having a mid-lives crisis). But like her precise number of bodies, the Doctor’s exact age isn’t something we need to know – just as well, really, as we’re never going to. Just nod sagely and say, ‘Ah, well, things got complicated in the Time War,’ because if time was getting messed up to that extent by rival peoples each with the power to control it, things were bound to, weren’t they?

These disconcerting rebirths also help Doctor Who the series carry on when the actor playing the Doctor decides to leave, making it almost the only TV show that can recast its lead without hoping the audience are watching TV with the picture turned off or pretending it’s something to do with plastic surgery or showers.

The latest actor to play the Doctor is Jodie Whittaker.

She’s the first woman to play the lead, and it brings joy to my weary old heart to see so many women I know and so many more I don’t so excited and enthused and inspired. But the really surprising thing to me is that, after watching Doctor Who almost all my life, how freshly excited and enthused and inspired I am, too. I had no idea it would be like this until she turned out to be what a part of me had been waiting for. And she’s not even fallen to Earth yet.


What’s Special About Doctor Who?


The TV series Doctor Who began broadcast in 1963, starring William Hartnell as the Doctor (the first three stories are available in the DVD box set Doctor Who – The Beginning). It ran continuously for more than a quarter of a century, making it the longest-running science fiction series in the world and inspiring an awful lot of people. Kept alive in books, audio plays and millions of imaginations, the TV version was reborn in 2005 and has again been a popular and critical success thanks to its sheer joy, its unique flexibility and, of course, to monsters like the Daleks. A bonus to the series always reinventing itself is that you don’t need to know any intricate details, ongoing plots or characters to follow it. Even the most involved elements change and get left behind (or even undone); happily, many of the best writers assume that every episode is someone’s first, and even if some are tempted to make no concessions to the viewer, the very variety of the series stops it ever becoming too impenetrable.

There is one bold central idea that runs through now more than half a century of adventures. With Doctor Who, you can go pretty much anywhere and do pretty much anything, and always see that people everywhere are worthwhile, whether they’re people like us or green scaly rubber people. The Doctor believes in freedom, and hates ignorance, conformity and insularity. She doesn’t work for anyone, wear a uniform or carry a gun, making the series both very British (an immigrant, like many of the best of British) and very anti-establishment.

Doctor Who encourages people to think, to have fun, and to take a moral stand, but it’s wary of solving problems by shooting them. You don’t have to believe what you’re told, still less do what you’re told. And it’s spent several decades scaring children with nasty monsters, eerie places and even the music, which when you put it all together is what family entertainment is about – a show with enough in it to satisfy all ages, from action to excite the adults to sharp questions to keep the children intrigued. That’s how down the years it’s inspired spin-offs from novels to comics, from Torchwood to The Sarah Jane Adventures and many more.

The best of Doctor Who would include adventures in history and travels in space, a dash of horror, wit to make you smile, diversity of ideas and people and strangeness to make you think, and enough action to get you excited. That’s probably too much to fit into just one piece of television, which takes you right back to the idea that you can go anywhere and do anything, because it’s not about just one piece of television, but different travels. Like the TARDIS, Doctor Who is bigger on the inside. It’s the only show where, if you don’t like where it’s ended up one week, if you want it to be scarier, or funnier, or more thoughtful, or more action-packed, the next week will be in a completely different place and time and probably in a completely different style or even genre, but still recognisably the same programme.

That’s probably why I fell in love with it, anyway.


What Doctor Who People Say About Doctor Who


This is the fourth edition of an article I originally wrote in 2006 to introduce that year’s new series. Version one and version two are pretty much the same as each other; last time and this time it’s been more of a regeneration. And for a change from me, here’s what some of the most important creative talents behind the series in past and present have to say about Doctor Who:

This week, the official Doctor Who Twitter asked the new Doctor and her new companions – Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill – to describe the new series in thirteen words:
“Brilliant”
“Stupendous”
“Entertaining”
“Out-of-this-world”
“Adventurous”
“Thrilling”
“Hilarious”
“Extraordinary”
“Frightening”
“Sensational”
“Inspiring”
“Spine-tingling”
“Thirteen.”

Russell T Davies, Doctor Who lead writer for the 2005 relaunch and through the 2000s:
Doctor Who is the best idea ever invented in the history of the world.”

Jodie Whittaker, the new Doctor:
“To me, the Doctor is a pillar of hope – and striving for brightness and inclusion.”

Chris Chibnall, the new Doctor Who lead writer:
“It’s very important the Doctor has a sense of humour. It’s very important the Doctor solves things through brains, not through punching or bullets. The Doctor’s still very much the Doctor. Pillar of hope – we need a pillar of hope in these times, and that pillar of hope is Jodie Whittaker. The Doctor.”

Verity Lambert, Doctor Who founding producer from 1963 to the mid-1960s:
“He embodied the utmost complexity – he was sometimes dangerous or unpleasant, sometimes kind, sometimes foolish, but most importantly he was never a member of the establishment. He was always an outsider.”

Peter Capaldi, the previous Doctor:
“You should watch it if you want to nourish your heart and your soul – and if you want to be scared.”

Terrance Dicks, Doctor Who lead writer during the early 1970s and author of more Doctor Who books than anyone else:
“Much has changed about the Doctor over the years but much has remained the same. Despite the superficial differences in appearance, at heart, or rather at hearts (the Doctor has two) her character is remarkably consistent.
“She is still impulsive, idealistic, ready to risk her life for a worthy cause. She still hates tyranny and oppression and anything that is anti-life. She never gives in and she never gives up, however overwhelming the odds against her.
“The Doctor believes in good and fights evil. Though often caught up in violent situations, she is someone of peace. She is never cruel or cowardly.
“In fact, to put it simply, the Doctor is a hero. These days there aren’t so many of them around.”

Robert Holmes, Doctor Who lead writer during the mid-1970s – which makes him the man who got me hooked on the series that changed my life, got me into politics and got me the man I love – gave other writers the crucial idea that explains what hooked me in the first place:
“Let’s frighten the little buggers to death!”


How Can You Find Out More?


There are hundreds of books and thousands of websites and millions of people who’d give you their opinion or the facts (some even true) if you asked them. I used to write a variety of terrifyingly in-depth Doctor Who articles, and though I don’t find it easy to write anything any more, the old ones are still here. I link to just two below. But I wouldn’t just read, if I were you. Doctor Who is probably the best TV programme ever made, so the best way to find about it is just to watch it.

The new series starts on BBC1 and on many other TV channels around the world this Sunday. Tune in every Sunday evening for the next couple of months (or at times of your own choosing on BBC iPlayer) to see more of it unfolding, brand new, that you know as much about as I do, with Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor and whatever friends and foes there are to come.

Or you can choose older stories in a multitude of formats. You can find pretty much every single episode of the TV series on DVD or Blu-ray or broadcasts, downloads and online (some of the latter even free and legal). Right now, every story first broadcast from 2005 onwards is available to UK viewers on BBC iPlayer.

If you do want more than the forthcoming new stories to warm your darkening Autumn nights but the incredible range of choice is bewildering, here are some suggestions that might help in your selection. Ready?


The Many Faces of Doctor Who


One of the most exciting TV events of my childhood was The Five Faces of Doctor Who – repeats of unimaginably ancient (that is, before I was born or started watching) stories that I never thought I’d get to see, shown in Autumn 1981 in the run-up to a new Doctor, just as I turned ten. It’s unimaginably easier to watch them now. Yet a bit of me still wants a special selection with every Doctor and every flavour of Doctor Who – which is, of course, impossible. The series has so many different ways about it that one, or a dozen, or fifty stories couldn’t reflect all of them. But that’s not going to stop me. So I’ve picked one story for each Doctor, and tried to offer some of the diversity Doctor Who has expanded through over the years by making them all different sorts of story. And then suggested more if those don’t take your fancy – I can’t help myself. I hope some of these sound appealing: pick one, press play, and find out.

William Hartnell is the Doctor in The Rescue
“We can travel anywhere and everywhere in that old box, as you call it. Regardless of space and time. And if you like adventure, my dear, I can promise you an abundance of it.”
Short and delightful, introducing ‘new companion’ Vicki and facing off against one of the series’ real monsters. It’s an especially great story for the First Doctor, sparkling with many facets: kindly, stern, vulnerable, intelligent, embarrassed, and often very funny. I love the oldest-youngest Doctor to bits, and I love this story enough that a couple of years ago, I wrote Ten Reasons To Watch The Rescue – but if you’ve never seen it, stop at about number 7, as there are spoilers lower down the list.

Alternatively… An Unearthly Child (the very first story, utterly brilliant but very spiky – and, incidentally, starring two men and two women, produced by a young Jewish woman who was then the BBC’s only woman producer, and directed by a gay Asian man); The Daleks (the very first monsters and an eerie dead planet that remains a design triumph); The Aztecs (history, moral dilemmas and a terrific story for Barbara, possibly still the strongest of all the Doctor’s companions); The Dalek Invasion of Earth (first of all the alien invasion stories, and who else would it be in grim deserted London?); The Time Meddler (the first story about a villainous alien colliding with history – everything’s fun until suddenly it turns serious…).

Patrick Troughton is the Doctor (and…) in The Enemy of the World
“Sad, really, isn’t it? People spend all their time making nice things, and other people come along and break them.”
A political thriller that opens with startling action and then reveals the would-be world dictator as the Doctor’s double. Spanning different continents and with two of the women characters particularly impressive (one black, one white), this story from fifty years ago is set in the exciting future Earth of 2018.

Alternatively… The Tomb of the Cybermen (Troughton’s most spellbinding performance, superb design and atmosphere); The Mind Robber (one of the weirdest, most brilliant Who stories, quite unlike anything else); The War Games (a huge epic that plays around with history and introduces the Time Lords); The Web of Fear (Yeti in the London Underground) and The Invasion (fabulously urbane Bond villain and Cybermen), which together introduce Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and set up UNIT (the very Doctor Who military defined by internationalism instead of jingoism), but which will test your tolerance for recreating a missing bit each.

Jon Pertwee is the Doctor in Carnival of Monsters
“Well, I can assure you that the last time I was here, the air was – like wine!”
The TARDIS lands on a cargo ship crossing the Indian Ocean in 1926… Or does it? A very funny channel-hopping satire of television, with great screaming dragons but nothing serious, nothing political. Just some xenophobic authoritarians creating fear so they can take control, because the bigger the disaster, the better for them.

Alternatively… Spearhead from Space (brilliant companions Dr Liz Shaw and the Brigadier in an action-horror-comedy that looks terrific all on film); Doctor Who and the Silurians (a brilliant concept, strife, tragedy – reading the novelisation as a boy convinced me that green scaly rubber people are people too, and helped made me a Liberal); The Curse of Peladon (lots of aliens, but xenophobia, religion and greed are the enemy – reading this one’s book inspired my internationalism and is a massive kick to Brexit today. Plus Jo puts the Doctor in his place, and the series’ first non-binary alien); The Time Warrior (Sarah Jane Smith grabs her first story and runs with it while the first Sontaran stirs up medieval brigands); Planet of the Spiders (terrific female monsters for once, and this Doctor’s finest moment facing the final enemy).

Tom Baker is the Doctor in The Robots of Death
“You know, you’re a classic example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain.”
A psychological thriller murder mystery where robots are the weapon (but who’s the real murderer?), diversely cast, gorgeously designed and featuring a particularly memorable explanation of the TARDIS which strong and sceptical companion Leela doesn’t believe for a moment.

Or you could just start where Doctor Who grabbed me, aged three, and never let go: the beginning of Tom. Season Twelve was released on Blu-ray this year and sold so surprisingly well it’ll have to be re-released. Robot, The Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen share themes of humanity, cold science, survival and rebirth, and star the Doctor in the scarf, intelligent, capable Sarah Jane Smith and adorable, pretty Harry Sullivan. With Daleks, Sontarans and Cybermen, Davros, space horror and, topically, a fascist leader who threatens to blow everything up if she doesn’t get her own way.

Alternatively… The Deadly Assassin (the Doctor and the Master come home to the Time Lords – film noir political satire, gritty surrealism and Gothic horror. My favourite story); Pyramids of Mars (horror a century ago, with stiff upper lips pitted against walking mummies and a dark god who’s probably the series’ most chilling villain); The Hand of Fear (a creepy cliffhanger, a quarry, Sarah Jane on the rampage and something Doctor Who demonstrated about gender before my fifth birthday. It’s not new); The Stones of Blood (horror, comedy, two fabulous women lead guest stars with very different characters and a lesbian subtext); The Androids of Tara and City of Death (both have a gorgeous holiday feel, both star companion Romana, the Doctor’s equal, each has in its own evil Count one of the series’ most marvellous villains, but one has bonus princesses and swordplay while the other has bonus Paris and Douglas Adams); Warriors’ Gate (brilliantly weird visuals, fragmented time and slavery). Tom Baker was the Doctor far longer than anyone else, I love all his changing eras, and I could have picked out many more.

Peter Davison is the Doctor in Enlightenment
“You had no right to do it. They’re real! Living, breathing flesh and blood.”
The first story to be both written and directed by women, with a pirate queen, a disturbingly askew take on a love story and extraordinary visuals. The Doctor intervenes in a race that no-one must win, and the threats to him and his friends are far more complex and dangerous than the barrel of a gun.

Alternatively… Castrovalva (the Master, existential crises, gorgeous music, a city that’s a work of art and two women companions taking the lead); Kinda and Earthshock are the opposing poles of this Doctor so I can’t just pick one (‘arthouse’ vs ‘macho’ despite both having many women, one psychologically complex with a snake demon, the other an action-packed future war story with Cybermen); Snakedance (the snake-demon returns for a festival that some claim has forgotten its true meaning, but no-one’s happy when they find out what it is); The Caves of Androzani (dazzlingly directed, this finally fuses the arthouse and macho in noirishly twisted love and war).

Colin Baker is the Doctor in Revelation of the Daleks
“No, the TARDIS is bound to attract attention. I want to slip in unnoticed.”
A stunning black comedy, with a gurglingly delighted Davros plotting away in its dark heart, great guest stars, tainted love, really rather a lot of death and one nearly-Dalek that you will never forget. The director’s so good he’s the only one to direct Doctor Who in both centuries, too.

Alternatively… Vengeance on Varos (sharp, funny and violent, with an irresistibly horrible villain, presciently swipes at reality TV and a referendum that kills you); The Mark of the Rani (introducing the first female Time Lord villain in a gorgeous Nineteenth Century setting); The Two Doctors (the Sixth Doctor is delightfully interested in everything while the Second becomes disturbing in a black comedy that restrains none of its appetites); The Trial of a Time Lord (the longest story of them all, combining four mini-stories into one, opening with striking visuals and this Doctor at his most charming before he becomes his own worst enemy…).

Sylvester McCoy is the Doctor in Remembrance of the Daleks
“Every great decision creates ripples – like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge, rebound off the banks in unforeseeable ways. The heavier the decision, the larger the waves, the more uncertain the consequences.”
This exploded onto our screens thirty years ago today (if you think Part One has explosions, wait for Part Four). Revisiting London 1963 with a baseball bat to fascism, both metaphorically and literally as the Doctor’s companion Ace defies everything in her way. And watch out for the stairs…

Alternatively… Paradise Towers (thirty-one years ago tonight, still fresh in bringing traditional fascists, robots and ancient evil not to a picture-postcard village but a Richard Briers horror sit-com in a tower block full of women where the old eat the young even more blatantly than Brexit); The Happiness Patrol (high politics, high camp and sweet villain – not the one who’s based on Margaret Thatcher); Ghost Light (Doctor Who takes on Victorian Values in a gloriously macabre horror with a heart, a brain and a bowl of soup); The Curse of Fenric (fantastic Evil From the Dawn of Time and vampires from the future, World War Two and Norse mythology, sex and mothers); Survival (the very last Doctor Who story until all the others, with the Master, urban life, an alien world and a lesbian subtext before a poignant ending).

Paul McGann is the Doctor in Doctor Who – The TV Movie
“This planet is going to be destroyed and I’m stuck in a traffic jam. Excuse me!”
The Doctor regenerates in modern America and faces off against the Master. Difficult to pick an alternative Eighth Doctor story, as this was his only full-length adventure on TV: his much later bookend is the miniature The Night of the Doctor, in which I think uniquely all the characters bar the Doctor are women. He has some rather intriguing adventures on the page or in audio form, but I’ll not go into those right now should you run away screaming.

Christopher Eccleston is the Doctor in Rose
“Nice to meet you Rose. Run for your life!”
Fast, funny and fantastic, Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston burst onto our screens and deadly dummies burst through shop windows in the perfect Doctor Who relaunch, choosing strangeness over ‘normality’, running towards adventure and reinventing British television. And it all looks glorious, not least the never-bettered reveal of the TARDIS. I love this story beyond reason, so a couple of years ago I wrote Ten Reasons To Watch Rose, too (one of my best).

Alternatively… The End of the World (fantastic visuals and dizzying culture shock in the far future, and that’s before your planet explodes); The Unquiet Dead (a Victorian ghost story for Christmas with Charles Dickens), Father’s Day (putting Rose and her past at the centre of the story, with outstanding monsters); Boom Town (rolling from comedy to psychological drama in Cardiff with a villain who knows her way into the Doctor’s conscience and joyously omnisexual companion Captain Jack); Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways (savage TV satire, a brutal Dalek invasion with – at last – a fleet of saucers, as well as another companion becoming a goddess, a goddess and an explosive regeneration).

David Tennant is not the Doctor in Human Nature / The Family of Blood
Or is he?
“Because if there’s one thing you shouldn’t have done, you shouldn’t have let me press all those buttons.”
The Doctor turns human, and his adventures turn into dreams. But the aliens chasing the inner him turn them into nightmares… A gorgeous, moving story in the looming shadow of World War I. John Smith is torn between love and war, his beloved Joan wants to hang onto him but sees the Doctor in a book, his friend Martha has to deal with that, racism and the Doctor being useless as a human, while wild-eyed young Son-of-Mine has super, super fun.

Alternatively… Army of Ghosts / Doomsday (Torchwood rises under a fabulous villain, then falls to the Cybermen before an electrifying cliffhanger unleashes the Daleks. Then a haunting goodbye); Gridlock (a parable of the big city, beautiful diversity, big claws and the Doctor’s loss); Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords (the most gripping quarter-hour cliffhanger build-up as the Master awakes, then goes on to win as the Doctor suffers brilliantly and Martha becomes the hero); The Fires of Pompeii (an exploding volcano and flaming great monsters look awesome, but duelling soothsayers grab me – and don’t forget modern art); Midnight (claustrophobic, terrifying inventiveness where human fear and blame is the bitterest thing).

Matt Smith is the Doctor, and so are David Tennant, all the others and in especially large letters at the end Sir John Hurt in The Day of the Doctor
“I’ve had many faces, many lives. I don’t admit to all of them.”
The Fiftieth Anniversary special. Daleks, Zygons, Elizabeth I, Time Lords, Time War, the Tower, science-led, women-led UNIT and all the Doctors having a very bad day (or do they?). Fifty years jumping out of the picture.

Alternatively… The Vampires of Venice (fabulous frocks, big teeth and a delighted Doctor back in history); Amy’s Choice (a superb little sci-fi twister that’s almost the Matt Smith years in miniature, with an extra face); Vincent and the Doctor (art history with a moving life and swirling beauty); The Doctor’s Wife (dark, strange and moving, bringing the TARDIS to life balanced by disturbing horror); The Crimson Horror (enormous fun with fabulous Victorian – or Jurassic – women all round, and lesbians no longer just subtext).

Peter Capaldi is the Doctor in Thin Ice
“Human progress isn’t measured by industry – it’s measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege. The boy who died on the river? That boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age. That’s what defines a species.”
It starts off thoroughly entertaining with an elephant, a Regency frost fair and a fabulous hat. But Bill’s outstanding for more than her millinery: she finds – after more than half a century – fresh ways to ask questions and to cope with the answers. Then goes on to confront greed, slavery and racism. Like Bob Holmes’ writing, but kinder, this is so joyously Doctor Who.

Alternatively… Time Heist (doing the Hustle in hugely entertaining style, and when guilt lets the bank kill you, its filthy-rich customers are safe); Kill the Moon (the Doctor's big speech at the end has so much heart to it that it was the latest bit of Who read at our wedding [the earliest being from 1963]. Also bloody great spiders); The Zygon Inversion (gripping, shaking up what the series can do, like Malcolm Hulke with live bullets, and pretty much all the lead parts women); The Husbands of River Song (a screwball comedy in which River Song is playing Cary Grant and the Doctor Katherine Hepburn – this month Richard and I will celebrate our twenty-four-year anniversary, so how about a night on Darillium?); World Enough and Time (horror, tragedy, extraordinary juxtapositions of other selves for our leads – and I recommend watching this then cutting directly to the regeneration, as that’s how it was planned).

And now… It’s about time.

Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor in The Woman Who Fell To Earth
“I’m the Doctor. When people need help, I never refuse.”
I want to watch all the ones I’ve chosen above all over again. All of them.
But I want to watch this one most of all.
Tune in.
“All of this is new to me. New faces. New worlds. New times.”
Sunday 7th October 2018, 6.45pm, BBC1. Simulcast throughout time and space.


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