Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Doctor Who 45th Anniversary – Why Was 1999 Brilliant?

There are several inventive and entertaining books, from Paul’s The Taking of Planet 5 and Unnatural History, through Pat’s grave The Final Sanction to Benny’s hilarious The Joy Device (cheering me up, stuck in a grotty hotel). Perhaps the most memorable is Lawrence Miles’ Dead Romance, disturbingly brilliant and reaching across the ranges. Meanwhile, Big Finish starts producing full-scale Doctor Who audio plays starring Peter, Colin and Sylv, while on Red Nose Day the TV brings even more Doctors…

The Curse of Fatal Death
“He was never cruel, and never cowardly. And it’ll never be safe to be scared again.”
Steven Moffat’s four mini-episodes, each better than the last: very funny; rather loving; fart gags; breast gags; and a brilliant gag against Charlie Brooker (I’ll explain later). The Master’s augmented by superior Dalek technology, and five Doctors regenerate all the way to Joanna Lumley. Hurrah!

This was released on BBC Video, oddly re-edited, but there’s no sign of it yet on DVD, despite introducing many of our new timey-wimey overlord’s themes and featuring a mass of famous actors (including two who also play Doctors in other decades, a long-rumoured candidate and another actually offered the job). There was a little of it on last Christmas’ Doctor Who Confidential the other week, though.

Sadly, as I mark the last thrilling Twentieth Century appearance of the Daleks on TV, news has broken this week that the man who inhabited more Dalek casings than any other, actor John Scott Martin, has died at the age of 82. He played a host of roles with his own face on, too (next Monday evening will be the fiftieth anniversary of his second TV appearance, and the first with which I’m familiar, in Quatermass and the Pit), my favourite of which is probably the slightly deranged granddad Rico Vivaldi in Russell T Davies’ Mine All Mine; suddenly revealed at the climax of the first episode, it’s impossible not to see it as a fantastic joke on the Part One cliffhanger always being a Dalek.

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