Thursday, April 15, 2021

 

30 Songs In 30 Colours (a 30-day Song Challenge Done Wrong) #Fragments

 

Last year I Tweeted a different song every day for a #30DaySongChallenge. Only one drawback: I’d read ahead and there were several questions I just didn’t want to think about. So I Tweeted for thirty days anyway – just answering for Day 1, thirty times (never let it be said that once I think up a terrible joke or a diversionary tactic I don’t flog both to death).

 

Besides, it turns out there really are a lot of really great songs with colours in them.

 

I’ve picked today (the anniversary of somewhere-in-the-middle-of-it) to collect these into a post because (in the middle of not an easy time) the most fun of the lot is both the colour grey – not anyone’s first choice for joy – and a car – not mine – and yet…

 

 

Day 1  A song you like with a colour in the title  (and 29 other questions, but as will become clear, those are irrelevant)


 

1 – Goldfinger

Saluting Honor Blackman – and because it’s so magnificent I’d have picked it anyway.

 

There are several here I really don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

At the same time last year I was Tweeting a James Bond favourite every day too, but properly. Not all my picks were Goldfinger… But top Bond theme was, obviously (as one Bond composer put it, “If you’re dead, you wake up for that”). I’ve already turned that set into a blog post – worth reading for the one-liners.


  

1 – Tired of Midnight Blue (George Harrison)

A brilliantly bluesy piano number unexpectedly turns up to give extra texture.

And it’d gone midnight, and I was tired, so…

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – The Red Shoes (Kate Bush)

Fantastic in several senses, with bonus colours on the same album in Why Should I Love You?

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Union City Blue (Blondie)

Coolly iconic. Also, their:

Put Some Color On You

Much newer Blondie, and a real stomper. Love it (but not appropriately social-distancing).

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Theme from The Black Hole

Queasy swirling weirdness underpinned by magnificently threatening ‘What A Magnificent Vista (Were It Not Being Swallowed By This Endless Maw Into Hell)’ John Barry strings.


[A couple of months ago I performed a scientific observer bias test and found that I mainly hear the unsettling weaving weirdness if I’m watching the wireframe spiral on screen, while mainly notice the orchestral underpinning if I’m just listening rather than getting the visual cues.]

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – The White Tree (Howard Shore)

A magnificent, uplifting fanfare to light the Beacons of Gondor and send flame rushing to the West.

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Moonlight and Gold (Gerry Rafferty)

A gorgeous love song yearning through the night to the dawn (from North and South, probably his best album).

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Grey Cortina (Tom Robinson Band)

I don’t care about cars at all, but too many car songs are just too much fun.

This is probably the most lively and joyous of the lot.

A year ago today!

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Dazzling Blue (Paul Simon)

Percussive, laid back groove.

You see? I can pick songs from the last decade.

The artist’s been around since long before I was born, obviously.

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

(I’d’ve made this an earlier 1, but didn’t want it to be the obvious ‘cramped in a small space and can’t go outside’ and lose its fun)

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Old Brown Shoe (The Beatles)

So lively! Wowsa George fast-bubbling bass and lead. A very ‘A’ B-side.

Bonus: For You Blue, the most bouncily happy of blues.

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Mr Blue Sky (Electric Light Orchestra)

Because you can’t beat a bit of ELO.

Glorious (especially as the close of Concerto For a Rainy Day).

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Blue Monday (New Order)

Inspired electro-dance downbeat-beat-beat-beat-beat to get you going without admitting you want to.

Just how I should feel today…

 

Presses repeat on ‘There are several…’ meta-gag

[And if youre wondering why I kept in all of those, now you know. Really‽ Really]

 

 

1 – Blue Savannah (Erasure)

A rather lovely swirling ballad with a simple but hugely memorable video (which sends me on my way back to Goldfinger; don’t try this at home)

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – GoldenEye (Tina Turner)

An outstanding Bond theme and terrific performance (great video, too).

Up there with She’s a Mystery to Me as the best ever of Bono and the Edge.

[I compiled all 40 – no, you read correctly – into a playlist today, only to find this was the only one I’d not imported into iTunes and couldn’t find the CD single. Looking it up, though I own the single edit (technically, somewhere), there is a longer album edit, so I didn’t feel bad about buying that just now to complete the set. Just for once, the longer version’s not as good. The film edit ends with a bang.]

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – California Blue (Roy Orbison)

Rather lovely in its yearning (I reminded myself of it with yesterday’s).

And why not add the other Traveling Wilburys in New Blue Moon?

[I coincidentally sequenced this for Roy’s birthday (April 23rd) and didn’t notice until afterwards.]

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Every Shade of Blue (Bananarama)

Last night was rough [356 nights ago, but so was last night and it’s a fair bet so will the next] and I was up most of it, so despite the lyrics this is a more upbeat listen in daylight.

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Strike Me Pink (Deborah Harry)

Melting coolness from Debravation. Evocative song, great album title (still waiting for Debravity).

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – White Wedding (Billy Idol)

A roar of excitement!

I was scheduled to go with White Room (Cream), but that day was our semiversary [April 26th, mid-way from October 26th]. I think I prefer this one, too!

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Morse Moose and the Grey Goose (Paul McCartney & Wings)

A great sound from London Town – fuzzing guitar and groovy bass. Love a track that starts big and builds!

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…



1 – Blond and Blue (Tom Robinson)

An unhappy love song…

and

Green (Tom Robinson)

– much more upbeat – savage bit of satire:

“It’s an eco-revolution using market forces / As we carry on guzzling the world’s resources”

 

[insert daily recycled line]

 

 

1 – Gold (Spandau Ballet)

Always believe in your soul!

Big sound, Lib Dem anthem, and I had this lined up before seeing Twitter full of fancying Martin Kemp that evening [can I remember why? Did I even know at the time?].

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Grey Day (Madness)

Doom-laden chimes, heavy piano, distorted guitar, despairing lyrics – probably their most downbeat hit, and possibly my favourite.

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Jack In the Green (Jethro Tull)

Feels more Beltane this morning [May 1st] than my scheduled The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine (though I could really do with one of those).

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Paint It Black (Rolling Stones)

Black Sunrise (Marc Almond)

And not in the title but very much in tone, My Little Town (Simon and Garfunkel)

[Yes, it was getting close to the end and I realised Id come up with way more than 30 songs]

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)

An incredible sound and – appropriately purple – embraced in performance as distinctly bi:

that girl put a spell on me / ’scuse me while I kiss this guy

 

Several I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Mellow Yellow (Donovan)

Something a bit cheery and relaxing for a new week (same as the old week) when being mostly more incredibly stressed and angry Yellow.

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

 

1 – Yellow (Jodie Whittaker)

Rather beautiful.

 

Green Grow the Rushes

Oh! You’re thinking REM; I’m thinking John Steed (Patrick Macnee) resisting mind control. And tune control.

[See The Avengers – Too Many Christmas Trees. And you should.]

 

There are some here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time.

 

 

1 – Golden Brown (The Stranglers)

Gorgeous. Always planned for the penultimate day, alongside eerie

Blue Veils and Golden Sands (Delia Derbyshire)

Yet suddenly mournful.

[This was May 6th, getting the schedule slightly wrong so one day late for Delia Derbyshire, but coincidentally also having just seen the news that Stranglers keyboard player Dave Greenfield had passed away]

 

There are several here I don’t want to face, but I cope (when I do) one day at a time…

 

When I first saw the challenges on this list, I thought:

‘Oh no; this one, this, and that would just be too disheartening to go into – I can’t do it.’

And I wouldn’t have, but immediately the old eye-roller ‘Deal with problems one day at a time!’ popped into my head…

Which is how I realised:

‘Oh, I couldn’t. Could I? That would be a terrible, awful gag, and I’d have to keep it going long, long after it stopped being funny.

‘I could!’

And so I’ve been re-setting to day one at a time every day for twenty-nine days.

One more. Just one.

Or is it?

 

 

1 – 99 Red Balloons / 99 Luftballons (Nena)

At last, a number – could this be Day 2?

…No.

30 days on, it’s the end of the run and end of the world.

And one last colour, after all.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the songs in your ears and colours in your eyes! I did.

 

  

This is another in an occasional series of Fragments – not-quite-finished, not-quite-polished, from ideas I’ve written up over time and maybe I’ll share some of them anyway. If you’d like more, please let me know, and if you’d like to help, please ask me, ‘Have you at some point written something intriguing about Story / Series X, and could you find it, consider it and post it?’ You might suggest one that I can (TS;RM [Too Short; Read More]? Here).

  

 

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

 

I Hope Mine Doesn’t Taste of Engine Grease – A TARDIS Vignette

 

A little fan-fiction I wrote seven years ago today, forgot about entirely, and found again at midnight.


“What’s through that door, Doctor?”

Full of the cheery confidence of showing a new companion around his Ship for the first time, the Doctor looked across the hallway to where she was pointing. A large pair of double doors stood off to one side, the once-welcoming wide circular windows strangely fogged by what looked like old steam. They gave the appearance of something once grand that had long been forgotten: very slightly faded; very slightly askew; an incredibly faint smell of something tantalisingly tempting hanging in the air, almost completely lost in a slightly less faint miasma of old steam. And for the Doctor alone, who knew that the TARDIS could have flicked away all of these traces like new in an instant, the tiniest sense drifting directly across his mind of something very like gimlet-eyed resentment.

“Oh – ah – nothing very interesting,” he said evasively. “For a short while it was the – ah – TARDIS Refectory.”

He winced as his new friend’s nose pricked up and she expressed a sudden desire for some food, their having been striding the corridors for so long. He suspected the Old Girl of having wafted the subtlest hints of mouth-watering flavours and fleeting images of favourite treats through her brain at the same time she’d been leaning on his with that distant pall.

“There’s a food machine, you see, close to the console room,” the Doctor continued, starting to walk off again. “It’ll make anything you like – just enter the numbers, ah, hope I’ve kept it filled, and a, a thing like a Mars Bar comes out, covered in white icing, that should, ah, taste of anything you fancy…” He lost his trail, metaphorically and literally, realising that he wasn’t doing the best job of selling a machine that goes ‘ping’ to a companion with her nose against the fascination of a steamy window that was right in front of her.

“Can’t we just take a look inside, as we’re here?” she asked, one hand already at a handle, the door opening at that merest touch with treacherous eagerness.

He cast a petulant glance somewhere in the direction of the ceiling and followed her in.

 

The Refectory was a long, wide room with two long, slim tables running down the middle of it. The tables looked stylish and striking from the doorway, but up close could have done with a polish. The chairs, too, looked elegant in concept but slightly down at heel, each just slightly out of line with the next along. And though the wide walls should have encouraged a sense of space and cheer for the diner, there was instead a nagging sense of oppression, perhaps because the high ceiling was lost in old steam that somehow contrived to writhe above the Doctor’s head and condense into the occasional droplet that would slip down the back of his neck when he wasn’t looking.

She rushed forward into the room and right along between the twin tables, setting the odd chair a touch straighter as it got in the way, then paused, puzzled, at the far end. “There aren’t any other doors,” she called to the Doctor. “Where are the kitchens?”

The Doctor closed his eyes. A malicious drip bounced off the end of his nose. He resigned himself and walked reluctantly forward to meet her half-way. They took chairs on the left-hand table, pulling them out to complementary angles so he could sit and talk with his hands.

“Well, this is the TARDIS,” he told her. “It’s the most wonderful Ship in the Universe. It can go anywhere, do anything. It doesn’t need kitchens.” He glanced up for a moment. He didn’t think the buttering up was going to work, but it was worth a try. No butter was appearing, though. “You see, many years ago, I had to – well, we had to – well, there was this disaster, and I was rather pressed into – well, into taking rather a lot of people on board. It was the only way to save them all, and I had been rather involved, and the food machine was overloaded, and the TARDIS doesn’t look right with queues.” He sighed. “They weren’t here so very long, just as long as I took to find their home, which really wasn’t very long at all in the scheme of things.”

He remembered that self. Creative; inventive; a whiz with numbers. Able to hold together an impossible string of block transfer computations each threaded through a spaghetti tangle of open-access telepathic circuits purely in their head. Still unable to steer the TARDIS for toffee. People spilling over the Ship for weeks.

“So he, ah, I, ah, we whistled up this place, serves up whatever you want to perfection, takes it away afterwards, and all you need to do is picture it in your mind and ask politely for a plate.” He tapped discreetly on the table. “May I?”

A small saucer appeared on the wrong side of his hand. He gritted his teeth. His friend tittered.

“It’s a little rusty now, I’m afraid. Even I couldn’t make it work immediately without a bit of an overhaul.” And some care and attention and not taking your Ship for granted, said a voice in his head, which may have been his.

“Oh, but I’m sure you can manage something,” she said with a smile. “It is your Ship, and you did design this room, and there’s only one of me now. Couldn’t you just whip up, I dunno, eggs and bacon, or stir-fried noodles, or even a light salad?”

Maybe they’re conspiring against me now, a wicked thought said in his mind, and it was almost certainly his.

 

“It worked like this,” he said, steeling himself. “You took your plate” – he moved the saucer in front of him with a cursory nudge – “and held your hand beside it.” He cupped his right hand loosely in the air. No pressure. “Then just think of whatever you need.”

Salad, he thought. It should be simple. Lettuce. Tomatoes. Honey and mustard. Nothing like – don’t think it.

Nothing happened. His friend looked at him, her head on one side. He smiled confidently back. It was just possible that he looked like a maniac. The sullen ceiling sent another vindictive drip down his back.

Celery. Avocado. Ham. Chopped walnuts. Olive oil. Rocket. Cucumber. Pear! Not pear! Apple! Cherries! No, no cherries, concentrate!

He brought up his other hand, as if sheltering a tiny flame.

Back to lettuce. Lettuce. Lettuce. Garlic in emulsion. Croutons. Not tellurium. Don’t think of tellurium either. Tel – tol – tul – tuna! Tuna. Boiled eggs.

Unconsciously, his hands began to move, short, chivvying strokes, as if as if rubbing two imaginary pieces of wood together.

Focus. Lettuce. Lettuce. Beans. Lettuce. Just a small salad, it’s not too much to ask.

He could feel something slightly moist gathering between his fingers.

Then, suddenly, it was there, in a neat swirl piled high onto the saucer, covering his hands as he involuntarily flicked it in all directions.

His companion started and wiped some of it out of her hair, looking at him without enthusiasm.

Mashed potato.

Every time he’d tried to come in here for centuries. Nothing but mashed potato.

 

He stood up, kicking the chair out of the way. He held out one soggy hand. She didn’t take it.

“You’ve not lived until you’ve had the food machine’s bacon and eggs. The ordinary sort – all that – egg and bacon sort of shape. It’s such a distraction. You have to try it in the proper bars.”

He wiped one hand surreptitiously on his jacket and pushed the door. He sighed, then pulled it open and held it. The old steam above him writhed in what he could swear was smug satisfaction.

All right, Old Girl, he thought. You’ve made your point. I know it’s another one. You’ll always be more important to me than her. I’ll always show you more attention. He crossed two potato-smeared fingers behind his back.

It wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t have the distinct feeling that some showy future incarnation was going to walk in one day and set a banquet with a snap of his fingers. 

 

 

I write all the time, but almost never publish any more (for all sorts of reasons I won’t go into again just now). But almost every day, notes, thoughts, things that might be essays if that didn’t imply some sort of finality. Two exceptions. What I haven’t done in a very long time is written any stories; this isn’t a story, of course, just a vinaigrette, but I was surprised to find it at all when looking around for the reverse exception – my Twitter. Most days I aim to resist the rage and despair by Tweeting something that cheers me, and most days that’s an anniversary of something On This Day. I’ve done many on each day in previous years, so I read back through before changing one slightly, throwing out another, deciding to make a one-liner into a thread that should secretly be a blog post but if I publish in slivers I won’t notice, or spending three hours freeze-framing just the right screenshot. On this day in 2014, there was just one line: “I Hope Mine Doesn’t Taste of Engine Grease”. I know what it says, but what does it mean?

I looked, I found it, I thought, did I really write this just seven years ago? I thought it was decades since my last one, I put up a Twitter poll and ten out of eleven people wanted to read it, so here it is before I have time to stop myself.

After all, I didn’t want it hanging over me.


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Thursday, October 22, 2020

 

Doctor Who Playlists – Where To Start? Classic, New and Beyond

  

Do you want to watch some Doctor Who? Aliens from the past; wonders from the future; all of time and space. It’s the trip of a lifetime…

 

But where to start? Which Doctors? What style? Monsters, villains, scary horror? Wit, weirdness, wild ideas? Adventures in history, alien worlds, a bit of politics? Or sheer fun? What you need is a playlist.

 

The thirteen Doctors – fourteen shown here (of many more)

 

Four Playlists – I’ve put together four playlists for you to dip in and out of different Doctors and enjoy the show’s variety. One skips around the Doctor’s TV adventures from 1963 to 2020 (but not necessarily in that order). One’s all a selection from ‘Classic Who’; another all ‘New Who’. And the last and most absurd – but intriguing – features not just the Doctor’s TV adventures but books, comics, audio plays and more (oh no, don’t run, come back!). Each playlist works as a big binge if you’re stuck inside for lockdown, or as weekly appointment TV. Each playlist splits into mini-playlists for friendlier access so you can find what most takes your fancy. When I published something like this back in March, it was in a hurry and an off-putting shapeless splat of titles. This version is a much easier read [though Blogger has made the formatting an absolute pain] and, if you think you’ve seen it all before, the ‘Classic Who’ playlist is all-new. Ironically. They’re in different colours if you want to find one quickly:

 

 

Boxed Sets – But first, what if you want to watch in order instead? There are 296 TV stories so far, and while the beginning is a great place to start, watching them all sequentially can be a bit daunting. If you feel like a ‘boxed set’, though, there are many out there (not least, for free, on BBC iPlayer). Here are half a dozen, if that’s your thing. I recommend starting with the Doctor, the current Doctor, followed by some of the best brilliant Blu-ray boxes:

 

Series Twelve [Season Thirty-Eight] (Jodie Whittaker, 2020)  

(Stories: Spyfall Part One / Spyfall Part Two, Orphan 55, Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror, Fugitive of the Judoon, Praxeus, Can You Hear Me?, The Haunting of Villa Diodati / Ascension of the Cybermen / The Timeless Children)

Season Twelve [yes, I know, confusing, but different scarf] (Tom Baker, 1974-5)  

(Stories: Robot, The Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks, Revenge of the Cybermen)

Season Fourteen (Tom Baker, 1976-7)  

(Stories: The Masque of Mandragora, The Hand of Fear, The Deadly Assassin, The Face of Evil, The Robots of Death, The Talons of Weng-Chiang)

Season Eighteen (Tom Baker, 1980-1)  

(Stories: The Leisure Hive, Meglos, Full Circle, State of Decay, Warriors’ Gate, The Keeper of Traken, Logopolis)

Season Twenty-Six (Sylvester McCoy, 1989)  

(Stories: Battlefield, Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric, Survival)

Series One [Season Twenty-Seven] (Christopher Eccleston, 2005)  

(Stories: Rose, The End of the World, The Unquiet Dead, Aliens of London / World War Three, Dalek, The Long Game, Father’s Day, The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances, Boom Town, Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways)

 

Who is the Doctor? – Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor. Two years ago this month, she fell to Earth to play the role for the first time. And if you’ve never seen Doctor Who, the Doctor is a traveller in time and space who goes anywhere, from Earth’s past, present and future to alien worlds and stranger places still. The Doctor obeys no authority but their own moral sense, uses intelligence rather than violence, and takes joy in taking friends to explore the wonders of the Universe. And the Doctor lives remarkably long and fully, because instead of dying their body recreates itself, giving them a new lease of life. If you want to know more, I wrote an introduction for the new Doctor two years ago (So Who is The Doctor Anyway? All You Need To Know About Doctor Who), but best thing is just to get on with it.

 

 

Daleks! Flying through a space battle blazing fire, huge Dalek saucers looming behind and the TARDIS whirling forward


 

Doctor Who Playlist 1 – TV Stories For Every Doctor

 

Introducing the Doctor and the TARDIS – The first few stories are exactly this. Great introductions to first the Doctor and then their magnificently erratic time-space ship the TARDIS, outside then in. And one cheat: I have taken stories out of this list to add Jodie Whittaker below, but it’s also designed, if you choose, as a weekly experience (with appropriate events should you begin at Doctor Who’s anniversary and make time every Saturday), so I wanted her there at the start – this playlist opens in a double bill with both the first Doctor Who I ever saw and the newest arrival.

 

01 — Robot

01 — The Woman Who Fell To Earth


(Tom Baker, 1974-5)

(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)

21 November

21 November

02 — An Unearthly Child


(William Hartnell, 1963)

28 November

03 — Rose

(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)

5 December

 

Christmas – Featuring a Victorian ghost story, The Nativity… Of The Daleks (introducing the opposite of the Doctor and freedom, alien conquerors in armoured mini-tanks with a hatred for all others), and a Christmas special with Doctor Scrooge and nightmare deaths.

 

04 — Ghost Light

(Sylvester McCoy, 1989)


12 December

05 — Genesis of the Daleks


(Tom Baker, 1975)

19 December

06 — Last Christmas

(Peter Capaldi, 2014)

26 December

 

New Year – A small but perfectly formed new start, yet it also looks like the end of a world…

 

07 — The Rescue

(William Hartnell, 1965)

2 January

 

The Time Lords and Time Wars – a beginner’s travel in time that builds to the Doctor’s people, the Time Lords. And what an incredible bunch they are.

 

08 — The End of the World

(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)


9 January

09 — The War Games

(Patrick Troughton, 1969)


16 January

10 — Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords


(David Tennant, 2007)

23 January

11 — The Day of the Doctor

(Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt with…, 2013)

30 January

 

Just A Bit of Fun (and a bit of politics) – Nothing serious, nothing political! Fun tales both entertaining and about entertainment gradually transform from satire into more serious politics, from Machiavellian scheming to moral heart (with natural and unnatural disasters along the way). Right from the first, Doctor Who stands up to bigots, bullies and fascists.

 

12 — Carnival of Monsters


(Jon Pertwee, 1973)

6 February

13 — Vengeance on Varos


(Colin Baker, 1985)

13 February

14 — Thin Ice

(Peter Capaldi, 2017)


20 February

15 — Boom Town

(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)


27 February

16 — The Caves of Androzani


(Peter Davison with…, 1984)

6 March

17 — The Enemy of the World


(Patrick Troughton, 1967-8)

13 March

18 — Doctor Who and the Silurians


(Jon Pertwee, 1970)

20 March

19 — Demons of the Punjab

(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)

27 March

 

Dark Religion, Gods and Demons – From politics, to religion! What, me, controversial? And once again starting with more fun stories and fake gods with the Victorians, then to horror and demonic evil through Victorians-in-space to the English countryside, a May Day special, and to end it all a dark god.

 

20 — The Talons of Weng-Chiang


(Tom Baker, 1977)

3 April

21 — The Crimson Horror


(Matt Smith, 2013)

10 April

22 — Kinda

(Peter Davison, 1982)


17 April

23 — The Curse of Fenric

(Sylvester McCoy, 1989)


24 April

24 — The Dæmons

(Jon Pertwee, 1971)


1 May

25 — Pyramids of Mars

(Tom Baker, 1975)

8 May

 

Alien Worlds – Carrying on the last theme’s archaeology takes us to the home planets of the alien races the Doctor has fought most often (dead planets may rise up as well as down), then a lively, greedy culture and the most colourful of other worlds. Also featuring (spoilers!) another Doctor than the one you were expecting, as does the next set along…

 

26 — The Tomb of the Cybermen


(Patrick Troughton, 1967)

15 May

27 — The Daleks

(William Hartnell, 1963-4)


22 May

28 — The Robots of Death


(Tom Baker, 1977)

29 May

29 — The Trial of a Time Lord

(Colin Baker with…, 1986)

5 June

 

Tragical History Tour – History, tragedy and moral dilemmas make a terrific set of stories and each, for me, the best Doctor Who of their years. And history as art, which takes me on to another collection…

 

30 — Amy’s Choice

(Matt Smith with…, 2010)


12 June

31 — The Aztecs

(William Hartnell, 1964)


19 June

32 — Rosa

(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)


26 June

33 — The Fires of Pompeii

(David Tennant, 2008)

3 July

 

Evil Under the Sun – And under the skin. Coming into Summer, if you’re so inclined, with holidays, wedding days, several more light-hearted stories and some very dark indeed. But which is which? All these have someone who’s not who they appear…

 

34 — Enlightenment

(Peter Davison, 1983)


10 July

35 — City of Death

(Tom Baker, 1979)


17 July

36 — The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion


(Peter Capaldi, 2015)

24 July

37 — The Androids of Tara


(Tom Baker, 1978)

31 July

38 — Human Nature / The Family of Blood


(David Tennant, 2007)

7 August

39 — The Doctor’s Wife

(Matt Smith, 2011)

14 August

 

The Master – From weddings to the Doctor’s… oldest friend, sometimes calling themselves the Master, sometimes Missy, often in improbable disguise, but almost always up to no good.

 

40 — Doctor Who (The TV Movie)


(Paul McGann with Sylvester McCoy, 1996)

21 August

41 — Dark Water / Death In Heaven


(Peter Capaldi, 2014)

28 August

42 — Spyfall


(Jodie Whittaker, 2020)

4 September

43 — Logopolis

(Tom Baker with…, 1981)

11 September

 

Daleks and Monster Action! – From one arch-enemy to another, with Davros and his creations the Daleks in spectacular form, then further explosive action from Cybermen and Autons.

 

44 — Revelation of the Daleks


(Colin Baker, 1985)

18 September

45 — Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways


(Christopher Eccleston with…, 2005)

25 September

46 — Remembrance of the Daleks


(Sylvester McCoy, 1988)

2 October

47 — Earthshock

(Peter Davison, 1982)


9 October

48 — Spearhead From Space

(Jon Pertwee, 1970)

16 October

 

And Doctor Who Will Run Forever – A closing variety of favourites first showing the Doctor and all stories from outside, then the final story of the classic series (never the end), and an exciting adventure from the very latest series that opens new directions to past and future so that, too, says, ‘The story continues’. Then, for Doctor Who’s anniversary, its own anniversary and a grand finale, the best at last: my very favourite story so far, because there is always something new, always something wonderful still to come.

 

49 — Love & Monsters

(David Tennant, 2006)


23 October

50 — The Mind Robber

(Patrick Troughton, 1968)


30 October

51 — Survival

(Sylvester McCoy, 1989)


6 November

52 — Fugitive of the Judoon


(Jodie Whittaker, 2020)

13 November

53 — The Deadly Assassin

(Tom Baker, 1976)

20 November

 

And hopefully there’ll be more on the telly by the time you’ve finished watching.

 

Why 53 (ish) Stories? – I was originally inspired by Doctor Who’s 52nd anniversary on November 23rd, 2015, with the aim not just of recommending but of writing about one story a week (only some of which I managed). It’s an important and popular fact that there are 52 weeks in a year, which obviously suggests 52 stories. I picked one Doctor Who story for every week – then, if you start with a story at the beginning of your first week and finish with one at the end of your last week, you’ll watch 53 stories in a year (there’s another reason, too, which will make you groan). And I love an anniversary. When the world’s horrible, celebrating something fun On This Day often helps (as you’ll see with my most-daily OTD Tweets @AlexWilcock), if you make this weekly appointment TV, many stories will mark special dates. Doctor Who’s big two anniversaries are November 23rd 1963 (the first ever episode) and March 26th 2005 (when Doctor Who Rose again on TV), but I’m celebrating today as another major feast day. October 22nd has a unique mix spread over fifty years: the launch day of not just one but two different Doctor Who spin-offs (Torchwood and Class), and the only day of the year that’s seen the first broadcast of two episodes each of Doctor Who, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Class. So, Happy Little-November-23rd (Little Doctor Who Day?), as absolutely no-one calls it!

 

Most lists of Doctor Who Stories You Must Watch! select stories in chronological order; others in order of preference. I wanted to offer much more of a mix. So I jump around as many Doctors as possible and choose different types of adventure to keep you interested. I’m not writing a history of Doctor Who, but trying to tempt and divert you with a constantly changing assortment. Variety is a major reason Doctor Who has lasted so long: if you don’t like one story, something different will be along in a couple of weeks; if you don’t like one Doctor or creative team, something different will be along in a couple of years. My playlists speed that up a bit. They’re not my own ‘top 53’, either, though I love almost all these stories. The one I love most, though, is The Deadly Assassin. And it’s the final story in the list both to go out on a high and because, had I kept to my original plan and blogged one story a week, readers would’ve expected it to stop at 52 stories and then been surprised. The Deadly Assassin has the line “A mere 53 storeys high”.

 

I told you you’d groan.

 

The Ones That Got Away – I first devised this list five years ago and eventually published this March. There was then nothing of Jodie Whittaker in it yet because I didn’t have the heart to update it – too hard to cut stories I love – but I should have, and so now I have. For variety, I aimed to give each Doctor four stories (the major exceptions Paul McGann, who had just one-ish on TV, and Tom Baker, who had more than everyone else and each of whose different eras I love to bits). That meant trimming, this time, the little bit more I’d included of personal favourite Doctors or eras of the show: The Dalek Invasion of Earth (William Hartnell, which would have been with the Dalek epics towards the end); Planet of Evil (Tom Baker, and the series’ most stunning alien world); Paradise Towers (Sylvester McCoy, witty, inventive and political); The Happiness Patrol (satirical and probably my favourite Sylvester McCoy performance); Kill the Moon (Peter Capaldi, which for several reasons fitted ideally just after Doctor Who and the Silurians); The Girl Who Died (Peter Capaldi, at the time one of the most recent stories and another statement about running forever). And I could never find room for The Curse of Peladon (Jon Pertwee), but that fits with the Politics too.

 

 

A lovely 1991 portrait by Alister Pearson for Doctor Who Magazine (there was a poster, but I can’t find an image online)


 

Doctor Who Playlist 2 – ‘Classic Who’ TV Stories (1963-1989+)

 

When I was a boy, September was when Doctor Who traditionally returned to TV. Though we had a new Doctor Who season at the start of this year, because of 2020 January seems geological ages ago. My husband and I watched Rose on its anniversary in March and enjoyed it so much we’ve been watching ‘New Who’ in order every Thursday since, so this Autumn felt time for an old-new season alongside it. I put together a ‘Classic Who’ playlist for September, and we’re now enjoying a story every Saturday as well. Ironically, my Classic Playlist is the only one to begin with the Russell T Davies model season-opening pattern of present(ish)-past-future…

 

Introducing the Doctor and the TARDIS – The first few stories are exactly this. Great introductions to first the Doctor and then their magnificently erratic time-space ship the TARDIS, outside then in.

 

01 — Robot

(Tom Baker, 1974-5)


05 September

02 — An Unearthly Child

(William Hartnell, 1963)


12 September

03 — The Robots of Death

(Tom Baker, 1977)

19 September

 

Daleks and Monster Fun! – Some of the Doctor’s greatest enemies and the series’ icons: Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans; K9, the Doctor’s robot dog; and Doctor Who’s most distinctive story idea, throwing alien complications into adventures in history. Plus three particularly fun stories and three outstandingly great authors – Ben Aaronovitch and Douglas Adams, probably best-known beyond Doctor Who, and Robert Holmes, probably Doctor Who’s finest writer.

Just to be contrary, having compiled this playlist, started watching it, and recommended it to you – we then watched two stories in ‘reverse order’. Obviously Daleks go above Cybermen, but I noticed that the broadcast anniversaries of Remembrance and Tomb fell before and after the opposite weeks. Yes, I know. Your nerdage may vary.

 

04 — Remembrance of the Daleks


(Sylvester McCoy, 1988)

26 September

05 — The Tomb of the Cybermen


(Patrick Troughton, 1967)

3 October

06 — The Time Warrior

(Jon Pertwee, 1973-4)


10 October

07 — The Pirate Planet

(Tom Baker, 1978)


17 October

08 — Carnival of Monsters

(Jon Pertwee, 1973)

24 October

 

The Time Lords – Horror for Halloween in a Time Lord ghost story before meeting the Doctor’s people, the Time Lords. And, as a bonus around Doctor Who’s anniversary, more of the many, many faces of the Doctor than most people mention! With two epics, the latter of which has a hint of A Christmas Carol…

 

09 — Image of the Fendahl


(Tom Baker, 1977)

31 October

10 — The Brain of Morbius


(Tom Baker with…, 1976)

7 November

11 — The War Games

(Patrick Troughton with…, 1969)


14 November

12 — The Three Doctors

(Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell, 1973)


21 November

13 — The Trial of a Time Lord

(Colin Baker with…, 1986)

28 November

 

Christmas – Featuring a Victorian ghost story, a Winter’s tale of rebirth, The Nativity… Of the Daleks, and though Christmas specials are more a ‘New Who’ speciality, a Snakemas spectacular where a world looks forward to its biggest festival, but some party poopers claim everyone’s forgotten its true meaning. It’s true, but no-one’s happy when they find out what it is.

 

14 — Ghost Light

(Sylvester McCoy, 1989)


5 December

15 — The Tenth Planet

(William Hartnell with…, 1966, part-animated)


12 December

16 — Genesis of the Daleks


(Tom Baker, 1975)

19 December

17 — Snakedance

(Peter Davison, 1983)

26 December

 

Two things I’m not usually including: as a rule, I’ve only picked stories that still exist in full. The BBC burned (burned!) many 1960s adventures, but all survived as soundtracks and several have now been animated to fill in the missing pictures. One episode of The Tenth Planet is a new animation (as two other stories here will be). And I recommend one seasonal Doctor Who audio drama: Spare Parts (Peter Davison) is as Christmassy as they come, ish, and makes a sparkling Advent decoration between The Tenth Planet and Genesis of the Daleks. Which reminds me of Kaldor City, a brilliant audio series of political thrillers set in the world of The Robots of Death (and more). I didn’t mention it above because I thought it would put you off immediately, but hopefully you’re reading this at Christmas and will be more tolerant / drunk.

 

New Year – A small but perfectly formed new start story lures you into a false sense of security before…

 

18 — The Rescue

(William Hartnell, 1965)

2 January

 

The Master – With a flourish of daffodils, the Doctor’s oldest friend and deadliest enemy springs out under a variety of names but usually referred to as the Master. A minor cheat: three stories here form a trilogy (and were released on DVD as such), so I’ve grouped them together as one. They are not alone.

 

19 — Terror of the Autons

(Jon Pertwee, 1971)


9 January

20 — The Keeper of Traken / Logopolis / Castrovalva


(Tom Baker and Peter Davison, 1981-2)

16 January

21 — Doctor Who (The TV Movie)

(Paul McGann with Sylvester McCoy, 1996)

23 January

 

Just A Bit of Politics – Two stories that I read the novelisations of as a boy and which helped make me a little Liberal, taking the moral that green scaly people are people too and different worlds are better off together than in bigoted isolation; ‘free your mind’; a deeply subtle political satire; a free-trade fable where the ruler’s destructive greed and blaming foreigners makes everybody poor and miserable; and media as social control with referendums as endless torment. No idea why I thought of those last two. But they’re also very funny.

 

22 — Doctor Who and the Silurians


(Jon Pertwee, 1970)

30 January

23 — The Curse of Peladon


(Jon Pertwee, 1972)

6 February

24 — The Macra Terror

(Patrick Troughton, 1967, animated)


13 February

25 — The Happiness Patrol


(Sylvester McCoy, 1988)

20 February

26 — The Creature from the Pit


(Tom Baker, 1979)

27 February

27 — Vengeance on Varos

(Colin Baker, 1985)

6 March

 

Brilliant Directors – Four of the classic series’ most outstanding directors bring pace and energy, atmosphere, inspiration and (because there’s no such thing as perfection) not always ideal monsters. Plus a spectacular downfall for the Ides of March! The last one also offers both a big show and a self-styled god, which leads into another theme…

[It also leads into the audio adventures of Jago & Litefoot, which begin with Doctor Who – The Mahogany Murderers and then their own series, a delight. But now back to just Classic Who on TV.]

 

28 — The Caves of Androzani


(Peter Davison with…, 1984)

13 March

29 — Earthshock

(Peter Davison, 1982)


20 March

30 — Terror of the Zygons


(Tom Baker, 1975)

27 March

31 — The Talons of Weng-Chiang

(Tom Baker, 1977)

3 April

 

Gods and Demons – Politics and religion? I spoil you. Another Victorian-ish (in space), clashes between god-like powers, and a May Day special. Plus another trilogy. But, thematically, that’s appropriate, as these stories also have something in common with the next set and beyond, because while they also feature gods, demons, self-styled saviours and religious icons, the appearance of the Master heralds…

 

32 — The Greatest Show in the Galaxy


(Sylvester McCoy, 1988-9)

10 April

33 — The Ribos Operation


(Tom Baker, 1978)

17 April

34 — Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment


(Peter Davison, 1983)

24 April

35 — The Dæmons

(Jon Pertwee, 1971)

1 May

 

The Villains – A spectacular set of baddies. If there’s one thing I love about Classic Who – no, there are many, many things I love, but I do adore a charismatic villain. And funny how many of them set themselves as religious authorities, isn’t it? Though among the women, men and genderfluid beings here who really mean it and the ones who strike a pose, the most fearful of all is a dark god. Look out for, threaded through several sets in a row, the work of a particular favourite (yet very underrated) Doctor Who author: David Fisher writes not just superb villains with recognisable motives but very witty scripts and a dash of sex that Classic Who rarely offers.

 

36 — Battlefield

(Sylvester McCoy, 1989)


8 May

37 — The Stones of Blood


(Tom Baker, 1978)

15 May

38 — The Hand of Fear


(Tom Baker, 1976)

22 May

39 — The Curse of Fenric

(Sylvester McCoy, 1989)


29 May

40 — Pyramids of Mars


(Tom Baker, 1975)

5 June

41 — The Aztecs

(William Hartnell, 1964)


12 June

42 — The Time Meddler

(William Hartnell, 1965)

19 June

 

Greed and Style (and more Villains) – More! More! More villains and never knowingly underplayed. But these also have in common not just villainy, not just superbly stylish outfits, but especially the wealthy and powerful’s greed for more power and wealth rather than acting from belief or evil for its own sake (it’s not its own. It’s mine). There’s even a fabulously wicked Count to contend with when the Doctor goes on holiday…

 

43 — The Mark of the Rani


(Colin Baker, 1985)

26 June

44 — The Invasion

(Patrick Troughton, 1968, part-animated)


3 July

45 — Revelation of the Daleks


(Colin Baker, 1985)

10 July

46 — City of Death

(Tom Baker, 1979)

17 July

 

A Holiday For the Doctor – From a gorgeous sun-dappled theme park world to globe-trotting Earth, both with lots of dressing up, to dressing up for the Wild West (not wise), then Classic Who’s two most outstandingly designed alien worlds.

 

47 — The Androids of Tara


(Tom Baker, 1978)

24 July

48 — The Enemy of the World

(Patrick Troughton and Patrick Troughton, 1967-8)


31 July

49 — The Gunfighters

(William Hartnell, 1966)


7 August

50 — The Daleks

(William Hartnell, 1963-4)


14 August

51 — Planet of Evil

(Tom Baker, 1975)

21 August

 

New Beginnings – …And we’re back in September. You thought this would be only a year’s-worth? Because Doctor Who ought to begin again in September, not end, this, too, is due to end at Doctor Who’s anniversary. But particularly because the New Who Playlist nearly triples my New Who recommendations, so it’s only fair to double the Classic Whos here (my shortlist tripled them, but that was a bit much). In this set, two gorgeous holiday openers to two absolutely magnificent seasons; a trip to Spain for a binge; a hell of a hangover in a jungle and a trio of giant creepy-crawlies; to, at last, a white void. Nothing? Well, that’s something…

 

52 — The Leisure Hive


(Tom Baker, 1980)

28 August

53 — The Masque of Mandragora


(Tom Baker, 1976)

4 September

54 — The Two Doctors

(Colin Baker and Patrick Troughton, 1985)


11 September

55 — Kinda

(Peter Davison, 1982)


18 September

56 — Planet of the Spiders

(Jon Pertwee with…, 1974)


25 September

57 — Full Circle / State of Decay / Warriors’ Gate

(Tom Baker, 1980-1)

2 October

 

And Doctor Who Will Run Forever – A closing variety of favourites that mix fresh starts and never-goodbyes, showing all stories from outside, bringing the series to your flat and high street, humanity surviving disasters and Daleks to find new life (just as the very first story I saw began this list and my second continues here for my birthday), worlds where the sky is burning, where the sea is asleep, and the rivers dream, people made of smoke, cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger. Somewhere there’s injustice. And somewhere else, the tea is getting cold.

It finishes, because Doctor Who never finishes, on my favourite story (so far), because there is always something new, always something wonderful still to come.

 

58 — The Mind Robber

(Patrick Troughton, 1968)


9 October

59 — Paradise Towers

(Sylvester McCoy, 1987)


16 October

60 — Spearhead From Space


(Jon Pertwee, 1970)

23 October

61 — The Ark in Space


(Tom Baker, 1975)

30 October

62 — The Dalek Invasion of Earth


(William Hartnell, 1964)

6 November

63 — Survival

(Sylvester McCoy, 1989)


13 November

64 — The Deadly Assassin

(Tom Baker, 1976)

20 November

 

You might think there will be no new ‘Classic Who’ stories, but – never mind the audio dramas – the animations of ’60s surviving soundtracks continue. The next rumoured recreations are Patrick Troughton tales The Abominable Snowmen (tempting) and The Evil of the Daleks (which is one of my absolute favourites and I’d add here like a shot). So keep watching…

 

 

Doctor Who 2020 highlights – Jodie Whittaker (the Doctor), Jo Martin (the Doctor), Sacha Dhawan (the Master), John Barrowman (Captain Jack)


 

Doctor Who Playlist 3 – ‘New Who’ TV Stories (2005-2020 So Far)

 

Every one of these is currently free on BBC iPlayer, making this the simplest playlist to watch (just sit on your sofa and click). And all available on many other media, whether for binge or weekly Saturday appointment…

 

Introducing the Doctor and the TARDIS – Doctor Who returned in 2005 with the best introduction to the TARDIS I’ve ever seen. This playlist opens in a double bill of that first ‘New Who’ paired with the current Doctor crashing into our world. Then I adore Martha Jones being pulled into the Doctor’s world, and another new Doctor’s experimental food. Which leaves just one more of the series’ absolute essentials to glide in…

 

01 — Rose

01 — The Woman Who Fell To Earth


(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)

(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)

21 November

21 November

02 — Smith and Jones

(David Tennant, 2007)


28 November

03 — The Eleventh Hour


(Matt Smith, 2010)

5 December

04 — Dalek

(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)

12 December

 

Christmas – ‘New Who’ revels in its Christmas specials, so these are extended revels with a deadly Christmas tree, not just the scowl but the heart of Scrooge McDoctor, and don’t complain about the last one being well after Twelfth Night (and why, after The Eleventh Hour, none of his Christmases were called that is beyond me). Look, they first broadcast that first New Who Christmas Special in April – and it crosses over into the next theme, too…

 

05 — The Husbands of River Song


(Peter Capaldi, 2015)

19 December

06 — The Christmas Invasion


(David Tennant, 2005)

26 December

07 — Last Christmas

(Peter Capaldi, 2014)


2 January

08 — The Unquiet Dead

(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)

9 January

 

History, Horror and Heists – They may style themselves Horror but these are all rather fun, and eventually the same mood takes us into the present and future to do the Hustle. But there’s an edge of tragedy for the last of their kind…

 

09 — The Witchfinders

(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)


16 January

10 — The Crimson Horror


(Matt Smith, 2013)

23 January

11 — Thin Ice

(Peter Capaldi, 2017)


30 January

12 — Partners In Crime

(David Tennant, 2008)


6 February

13 — The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances


(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)

13 February

14 — Time Heist

(Peter Capaldi, 2014)

20 February

 

The Time Lords and Time Wars – A beginner’s time travel builds to the Doctor’s people, the Time Lords. What could be worse than finding all of them are gone…? With a double bill (or big event and supporting feature) for the anniversary of New Who, and featuring the Doctor – which you might take for granted, but this time frequently not the one you’re expecting.

 

15 — The End of the World


(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)

27 February

16 — Gridlock

(David Tennant, 2007)


6 March

17 — Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords


(David Tennant, 2007)

13 March

18 — The Name of the Doctor


(Matt Smith with…, 2013)

20 March

19 — The Night of the Doctor


19 — The Day of the Doctor

(Paul McGann with…, 2013 mini-episode)

(Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt with…, 2013)


27 March


27 March

20 — Dark Water / Death In Heaven


(Peter Capaldi, 2014)

3 April

21 — Spyfall Part One / Spyfall Part Two


(Jodie Whittaker, 2020)

10 April

22 — Fugitive of the Judoon

(Jodie Whittaker with…, 2020)

17 April

 

And what rhymes with Judoon…? I’m sorry. It’s the law.

Fixed Points In Time, Tragedy and Life – Moral dilemmas and the problem of time travel. Some of Doctor Who’s most heart-stopping drama. But also some fantastic monsters.

 

23 — Kill the Moon

(Peter Capaldi, 2014)


24 April

24 — Amy’s Choice

(Matt Smith with…, 2010)


1 May

25 — The Girl Who Died

(Peter Capaldi, 2015)


8 May

26 — Father’s Day

(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)


15 May

27 — Rosa

(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)


22 May

28 — The Fires of Pompeii


(David Tennant, 2008)

29 May

29 — The Waters of Mars

(David Tennant, 2009)


5 June

30 — The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion


(Peter Capaldi, 2015)

12 June

31 — Praxeus

(Jodie Whittaker, 2020)

19 June

 

Old Friends and Ancient Evil, and Which Is Which? – When the Doctor’s been around for so many lives, the nearest they have to friends are other great survivors. With a set full of demons that plunges deep into the Pit, Missy and Davros probably do make the best company, while there’s one you really don’t want to chat to at all… Which makes you appreciate all the more an old friend going on to Adventures of her own.

Also introducing the two most iconic New Who ‘monsters’: the Ood and the Weeping Angels.

 

32 — The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar


(Peter Capaldi, 2015)

26 June

33 — The Doctor’s Wife


(Matt Smith, 2011)

3 July

34 — Blink

(David Tennant, 2007)


10 July

35 — Midnight

(David Tennant, 2008)


17 July

36 — The Eaters of Light

(Peter Capaldi, 2017)


24 July

37 — Demons of the Punjab


(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)

31 July

38 — The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit


(David Tennant, 2006)

7 August

39 — It Takes You Away

(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)


14 August

40 — School Reunion

(David Tennant, 2006)

21 August

 

Monsters Who Came Back For More! – and the Monster Mash-up, as the series mixes and matches some of the Doctor’s greatest enemies: Missy / the Master; Daleks; Cybermen; and the Slitheen! Who are probably the most fun before everything explodes into a series of grand finales (which often means death on an appalling scale and, sometimes worse, coming back).

 

41 — Aliens of London / World War Three


(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)

28 August

42 — Boom Town

(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)


4 September

43 — Nightmare In Silver


(Matt Smith, 2013)

11 September

44 — World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls


(Peter Capaldi, 2017)

18 September

45 — Army of Ghosts / Doomsday


(David Tennant, 2006)

25 September

46 — Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways


(Christopher Eccleston with…, 2005)

2 October

47 — Resolution

(Jodie Whittaker, 2019)

9 October

 

And Doctor Who Is Still Running – The series looking in on itself and art, looking back at its ancestors in science fiction’s birth as the Modern Prometheus, looking out and onward with the latest story shown so far – which it won’t be by the time you’ve finished watching – as the adventures always continue. Which makes my favourite New Who story so far all the more appropriate for a grand finale (never the end), because it’s not just great television but was born out of fierce hope and imagination between Classic and New Who, when there was more Doctor Who if you looked for it and always, still, something wonderful yet to come.

 

48 — Love & Monsters

(David Tennant, 2006)


16 October

49 — Vincent and the Doctor


(Matt Smith, 2010)

23 October

50 — Flatline

(Peter Capaldi, 2014)


30 October

51 — The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People


(Matt Smith with…, 2011)

6 November

52 — The Haunting of Villa Diodati / Ascension of the Cybermen / The Timeless Children


(Jodie Whittaker with…, 2020)

13 November

53 — Human Nature / The Family of Blood

(David Tennant with…, 2007)

20 November

 

 

Something More – I’ve Written Reasons To Watch Half A Dozen Stories (plus another five)

 

If a list of titles isn’t enough to persuade you, here are links to the articles I wrote on why I love just a few of those stories and why you should watch them. If you just read one, try the Ten Reasons… for Rose. That’s one of my best.

 

Ten Reasons to Watch Robot

 

Five Reasons to Read Doctor Who and the Cybermen

 

Ten Reasons to Watch An Unearthly Child

 

Five Reasons to Read Doctor Who In An Exciting Adventure With the Daleks

 

Five Reasons to Watch The Trip of a Lifetime Trailer

 

Ten Reasons to Watch Rose

 

Five Reasons to Read Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion

 

Ten Reasons to Watch Ghost Light

 

Five Reasons to Listen To Home Truths

 

Ten Reasons to Watch Last Christmas

 

Ten Reasons to Watch The Rescue


The ‘Five Reasons to…’ stories weren’t in any of the playlists above. My original idea was to write about one Doctor Who story every week, giving ten reasons to watch each in turn. I’d deliberately chosen 53 stories that were broadcast on TV and which still exist – the most accessible form of Doctor Who. But that’s not all I love. I made it up to a full hundred by also fitting in and around them many other forms of Doctor Who that I love just as much. Novelisations, novels, audio dramas, comic strips, even a trailer (by far the shortest choice in here). And a few are even brilliant Doctor Who stories the BBC transmitted in the 1960s and then burnt (still! Burnt!), all of which survive as soundtracks recorded off-air, increasing numbers of which are being animated to give them a new lease of life. I may not have written articles for anywhere near a hundred, but I love them all. Are you ready?

 

If Doctor Who on television alone isn’t enough for you – and why should it be? – then here is an expanded universe on the same themes.

 

 

Doctor Who: The New Adventures – covers montage (with the shadow of a Dalek)


 

Doctor Who Playlist 4 – TV Stories For Every Doctor and Many More Beyond

 

Introducing the Doctor and the TARDIS – The first few stories are exactly this. Great introductions to first the Doctor and then the TARDIS, one big cheat in a Tom Baker-Jodie Whittaker double bill right up front so the current Doctor is there from the start, and a weekly experience, should you feel the urge, with appropriate events following should you begin at Doctor Who’s anniversary and make time every Saturday. I intertwine the first Doctor TV ever saw, the fantastic return and their current incarnation with the first Doctor Who story I ever saw – it worked for me – and intertwine Saturday television with in-between-oddities, my first with the first Who books and the most glorious trailer I’ve ever seen. And this is just the start.

 

1 — Robot

1 — The Woman Who Fell To Earth


(Tom Baker, 1974-5)

(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)

21 November

21 November

A — Doctor Who and the Cybermen


(book, Patrick Troughton, 1975)

 

2 — An Unearthly Child

(William Hartnell, 1963)


28 November

B — Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure With the Daleks


(book, William Hartnell, 1964)

 

C — Doctor Who – Series One Trailer: The Trip of a Lifetime


(TV, Christopher Eccleston, 2005)

 

3 — Rose

(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)


5 December

D — Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion  

(book, Jon Pertwee, 1974)

 

 

Christmas – Featuring a Victorian ghost story, The Nativity… Of The Daleks, and a Christmas special with Doctor Scrooge and nightmare deaths. With a bonus ghost story close to home and tales from the Doctor’s longest Christmas (where Snakemas is still the highlight).

 

4 — Ghost Light

(Sylvester McCoy, 1989)


12 December

E — Doctor Who – Home Truths

(audio, William Hartnell, 2008)


 

5 — Genesis of the Daleks


(Tom Baker, 1975)

19 December

6 — Last Christmas

(Peter Capaldi, 2014)


26 December

F — Doctor Who – Tales of Trenzalore

(book, Matt Smith, 2014)

 

 

New Year – A small but perfectly formed new start, yet it also looks like the end of a world…

 

7 — The Rescue

(William Hartnell, 1965)

2 January

 

The Time Lords and Time Wars – A beginner’s travel in time that builds to the Doctor’s people, the Time Lords. And what an incredible bunch they are. If there’s one reason to explore the wonders of Doctor Who outside the box, this set is it: the War spreading forwards, backwards and sideways in time through the books and audios here is so much stranger and darker, so much broader and deeper than anything TV could hold. And so much better.

 

8 — The End of the World


(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)

9 January

G — Doctor Who – Alien Bodies


(book, Paul McGann, 1997)

 

9 — The War Games

(Patrick Troughton, 1969)


16 January

H — Doctor Who and the Two Doctors  

(book, Colin Baker with Patrick Troughton, 1985)


 

10 — Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords


(David Tennant, 2007)

23 January

J — The Night of the Doctor

(TV, Paul McGann with…, 2013)


 

K — Faction Paradox – The Book of the War  


(book, Time War…?, 2002)

 

11 — The Day of the Doctor

(Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt with…, 2013)


30 January

L — Doctor Who – The War Doctor 2: Infernal Devices

(audio, John Hurt, 2016)

 

 

Just A Bit of Fun (and a bit of politics) – nothing serious, nothing political! Fun tales both entertaining and about entertainment gradually transform through satire into more serious politics, from Machiavellian scheming to moral heart (with natural and unnatural disasters along the way). Right from the first, Doctor Who stands up to bigots, bullies and fascists. And a terrific pair of novels offer different angles on arguably Doctor Who’s two greatest writers – Russell T Davies and Robert Holmes – in the week between the anniversary of New Who and the birthday of the wicked old man. One of them is even Doctor Who in the inner city, with gangs, guns, stabbings, drugs and prostitution. Speaking of which, following all that…

 

12 — Carnival of Monsters


(Jon Pertwee, 1973)

6 February

13 — Vengeance on Varos


(Colin Baker, 1985)

13 February

14 — Thin Ice

(Peter Capaldi, 2017)


20 February

M — Doctor Who and the Creature From the Pit  


(book, Tom Baker, 1981)

 

15 — Boom Town

(Christopher Eccleston, 2005)


27 February

N — Doctor Who – The Stealers of Dreams


(book, Christopher Eccleston, 2005)

 

16 — The Caves of Androzani


(Peter Davison with…, 1984)

6 March

17 — The Enemy of the World


(Patrick Troughton, 1967-8)

13 March

18 — Doctor Who and the Silurians


(Jon Pertwee, 1970)

20 March

19 — Demons of the Punjab


(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)

27 March

P — Doctor Who: The New Adventures – Damaged Goods


(book, Sylvester McCoy, 1996)

 

Q — Doctor Who and the Ark In Space

(book, Tom Baker, 1977)

 

 

Dark Religion, Gods and Demons – from politics to religion! What, me, controversial? And once again starting with more fun stories and fake gods with even more Victorians, then to horror and demonic evil through Victorians-in-space to the English countryside, a May Day special, and to end it all a dark god. Bonuses include extra disturbing religious figures, a most distinguished archaeologist and a trip to Heaven…

 

20 — The Talons of Weng-Chiang


(Tom Baker, 1977)

3 April

R — Jago & Litefoot – Series 1

(start with Doctor Who – The Mahogany Murderers)


(audio, Christopher Benjamin & Trevor Baxter, 2010)

 

S — Doctor Who: The New Adventures – All-Consuming Fire


(book, Sylvester McCoy, 1994)

 

21 — The Crimson Horror


(Matt Smith, 2013)

10 April

T — Doctor Who – The Tides of Time

(graphic novel, Peter Davison, 1982 / 2005)


 

T/A — TV21 – The Dalek Chronicles

 (comic strip, the Daleks, 1965-7 / collected 1994)


 

U — The Sarah Jane Adventures – The Mad Woman in the Attic


(TV, Elisabeth Sladen, 2009)

 

22 — Kinda

(Peter Davison, 1982)


17 April

V — The Daleks’ Master Plan

(TV, William Hartnell, 1965-66 [part-missing])


 

23 — The Curse of Fenric

(Sylvester McCoy, 1989)


24 April

24 — The Dæmons

(Jon Pertwee, 1971)


1 May

W — Doctor Who – The Shadows of Avalon


(book, Paul McGann, 2000)

 

X — Doctor Who – The Holy Terror


(audio, Colin Baker, 2000)

 

25 — Pyramids of Mars


(Tom Baker, 1975)

8 May

Y — Doctor Who – The Good Doctor


(book, Jodie Whittaker, 2018)

 

Z — Doctor Who: The Novel Adaptations – Love and War

(audio, Sylvester McCoy, 2012)

 

 

Alien Worlds – Carrying on the last theme’s archaeology takes us to the worlds of two infamous alien races (dead planets may rise up as well as down), then a lively, greedy culture and the most colourful of other planets. In between Saturdays, two 1990s stories of alien worlds and civilisations that might just be the two finest original Who novels ever published. Also featuring (spoilers!) another Doctor than the one you were expecting, as does the next along…

 

26 — The Tomb of the Cybermen


(Patrick Troughton, 1967)

15 May

AA — Doctor Who – The Eye of Torment


(graphic novel, Peter Capaldi, 2015)

 

27 — The Daleks

(William Hartnell, 1963-4)


22 May

BB — Doctor Who: The New Adventures – The Also People


(book, Sylvester McCoy, 1995)

 

CC — Doctor Who: The New Adventures – Lucifer Rising


(book, Sylvester McCoy, 1993)

 

28 — The Robots of Death


(Tom Baker, 1977)

29 May

DD — The Tenth Planet

(TV, William Hartnell, 1966 [part- animated])


 

29 — The Trial of a Time Lord

(Colin Baker with…, 1986)

5 June

 

Tragical History Tour – History, tragedy and moral dilemmas make a terrific set of stories and each, for me, the best Doctor Who of their years (including a third 1990s alien civilisation story in a row to be among the finest original Who novels ever published). And history as art, which guides me on to another collection…

 

30 — Amy’s Choice

(Matt Smith with…, 2010)


12 June

EE — Doctor Who: The Missing Adventures – Venusian Lullaby


(book, William Hartnell, 1994)

 

31 — The Aztecs

(William Hartnell, 1964)


19 June

32 — Rosa

(Jodie Whittaker, 2018)


26 June

33 — The Fires of Pompeii

(David Tennant, 2008)


3 July

FF — Doctor Who – The Iron Legion

(graphic novel, Tom Baker, 1979-1980 / 2004)

 

 

Evil Under the Sun – And under the skin. Coming into Summer, if you’re so inclined, with holidays, wedding days, several more light-hearted stories, some very dark indeed, and a startling vein of politics. There’s so much lurking underneath…

 

GG — Doctor Who – The Pirate Loop


(book, David Tennant, 2007)

 

34 — Enlightenment

(Peter Davison, 1983)


10 July

HH — Doctor Who – The Stones of Venice


(audio, Paul McGann, 2001)

 

35 — City of Death

(Tom Baker, 1979)


17 July

36 — The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion


(Peter Capaldi, 2015)

24 July

JJ — The Macra Terror

(TV, Patrick Troughton, 1967 [animated])


 

KK — Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters


(book, Jon Pertwee, 1974)

 

37 — The Androids of Tara


(Tom Baker, 1978)

31 July

LL — The Evil of the Daleks

(TV, Patrick Troughton, 1967 [part-missing])


 

38 — Human Nature / The Family of Blood


(David Tennant, 2007)

7 August

MM — Doctor Who and the Time Warrior


(book, Jon Pertwee, 1978)

 

39 — The Doctor’s Wife


(Matt Smith, 2011)

14 August

NN — Doctor Who: The New Adventures – Lungbarrow

(book, Sylvester McCoy with…, 1997)

 

 

The Master – From weddings to the Doctor’s… oldest friend, sometimes calling themselves the Master, sometimes Missy, often in improbable disguise, but almost always up to no good. Listen to Geoffrey Beevers’ reading of The Doomsday Weapon for double the Masterly experience. Though there’s still an extra and extraordinarily entertaining wedding (and Master) to come…

 

40 — Doctor Who (The TV Movie)

(Paul McGann with Sylvester McCoy, 1996)


21 August

41 — Dark Water / Death In Heaven


(Peter Capaldi, 2014)

28 August

OO — Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon  


(book, Jon Pertwee, 1974)

 

42 — Spyfall

(Jodie Whittaker, 2020)


4 September

43 — Logopolis

(Tom Baker with…, 1981)


11 September

PP — Doctor Who – Castrovalva

(book, Peter Davison, 1983)

 

 

Death and the Daleks! – From one arch-enemy to another, with Davros and his creations the Daleks in spectacular form, then further explosive action from Cybermen and Autons. And the consequences of all that exciting action come home in too many deaths. But this isn’t the end… Time to launch spin-offs in multiple directions.

 

QQ — The Sarah Jane Adventures – Death of the Doctor


(TV, Elisabeth Sladen with Matt Smith, 2010)

 

RR — Torchwood – They Keep Killing Suzie


(TV, John Barrowman, 2006)

 

44 — Revelation of the Daleks


(Colin Baker, 1985)

18 September

SS — Doctor Who – Jubilee


(audio, Colin Baker, 2003)

 

45 — Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways


(Christopher Eccleston with…, 2005)

25 September

TT — Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150AD


(Film, Peter Cushing, 1966)

 

46 — Remembrance of the Daleks


(Sylvester McCoy, 1988)

2 October

UU — Doctor Who – Remembrance of the Daleks


(book, Sylvester McCoy, 1990)

 

47 — Earthshock

(Peter Davison, 1982)


9 October

VV — The Invasion

(TV, Patrick Troughton, 1968 [part-animated])


 

48 — Spearhead From Space

(Jon Pertwee, 1970)

16 October

 

And Doctor Who Will Run Forever – A closing variety of favourites first celebrating the Doctor and all stories, then the final story of the classic series (never the end), and an exciting adventure from the very latest series that opens new directions to past and future so it, too, says, ‘The story continues’. Then, for Doctor Who’s anniversary, its own anniversary and a grand finale, the best at last: my very favourite story so far, because there is always something new, always something wonderful still to come.

 

49 — Love & Monsters

(David Tennant, 2006)


23 October

WW — Doctor Who: The New Adventures – Happy Endings


(book, Sylvester McCoy, 1996)

 

50 — The Mind Robber

(Patrick Troughton, 1968)


30 October

51 — Survival

(Sylvester McCoy, 1989)


6 November

52 — Fugitive of the Judoon


(Jodie Whittaker, 2020)

13 November

53 — The Deadly Assassin

(Tom Baker, 1976)

20 November

 

And whether or not there’s more Doctor Who made for TV by the time you finish, there will always, always be more Doctor Who.

 

I hope that whets your appetite. Or makes you binge. This monster of strange diversity is my favourite playlist. Of course it is. It’s just a little bit too much, but I love Doctor Who more than a little too much. Not least the stories that made it to the massive playlist in dual formats (some even better as Target novels than TV). One especial delight on revisiting all this is that The Macra Terror has transformed in a few years from being just a soundtrack with a few surviving pictures and film clips to a full animation, making one of my favourite stories very much easier to watch. And this very month, the multi-media Time Lord Victorious series of stories announced a TV tie-in selection, a themed Blu-ray set of Classic and New Doctor Who, several of which you’ll already have found multiple times above. It’s uncanny.

 

 

A Dalek on Westminster Bridge, aiming its gun-stick at us, the Houses of Parliament behind


 

Even More Doctor Who – Big Finish

 

While the unfolding story of Doctor Who continues to expand on TV every year or two, Doctor Who on audio is growing at a far faster rate. I’ve recommended several above (as well as Magic Bullet’s Kaldor City audio plays), but there are so many others that I want to give Big Finish Productions their own bonus. An extra not-all-Bakers’-half-a-dozen brilliant stories I’ve heard since I first drew up my playlist:

 

 

I love particularly two of their ongoing teams alongside Sylvester McCoy:

With Ace and Hex, starting with The Harvest (set in 2021, so almost now) and reaching a peak with A Death in the Family;

With a very different companion in Klein, for whom I’d recommend the trilogy of four A Thousand Tiny Wings, Klein’s Story, Survival of the Fittest and The Architects of History, as well as UNIT: Dominion, where Klein’s not the only character not to be who you expect.

 

And I have to admit, I also love the Master. I especially recommend the naughty adventures of The War Master (Derek Jacobi) and Missy (Michelle Gomez), because both get to do so much more on audio and are not just amazing in the part but delightful (and disturbing) in the added interviews. Perhaps the best single purchase is The Diary of River Song Volume Five – all the stories are excellent, and you get four fabulous Masters to play with.

  

The Doctor Who Monster Book – Tom Baker surrounded by monsters


 

Even More Doctor Who – Terrance Dicks

 

Doctor Who’s most prolific novelist. I noticed with a slight pang that, though I started my playlist with the TV story he wrote that got me into Doctor Who in the first place, in my determination for variety I’d only chosen two of his books for the expanded version. So here are another extra half a dozen, the first starting with the greatest opening line in Doctor Who prose:

  

  

I Hope You Enjoyed All That

 

Well, some of it, at least.

 

Did you find a playlist that was to your taste? If they were all too intimidating, just pick any story, from any list, and give it a go.

 

Very little me watched Terrance Dicks’ Robot forty-five years ago, and I had no idea what I was getting into. Thanks to that experience, I’m still into it. I’ll give two other writers the last words on reason to love Doctor Who, Classic, New, and beyond.


Russell T Davies:

“Doctor Who is the best idea ever invented in the history of the world.”

 

Robert Holmes:

“Let’s frighten the little buggers to death!”

  

 

Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor runs towards danger, the TARDIS behind her

 

 

 

 

 

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