Doctor Who Christmas Specials: The Moffat Era (Part 2)

Last Christmas

It’s never just a fun little sci-fi adventure, there’s always at least one extra layer. The whole show is like this, delivering a message even if you don’t notice it, but it’s especially true of these festive episodes which pick the most impactful ideals. This time, The Twelfth Doctor and Clara face off against face-hugging aliens that send people to sleep as they slowly dissolve their brains and only Santa Clause can stop them. It’s all very silly, a little dark at times and constantly keeps the audience guessing but the episode’s meaningful message is hidden in plain sight – Last Christmas. As is pointed out during the adventure, every Christmas is somebody’s last with someone else. What’s upsetting is that you don’t know it’s the last Christmas until the day itself has passed. Christmas is finite, lasts for one day out of the year, and a lot can change in between celebrations. Relationships can end and lives can be lost so every Christmas should be cherished.

This doesn’t mean that the season should be without grief and the episode makes that clear too. Clara is facing her first Christmas without the love of her life Danny Pink. When she finds herself celebrating the day with him in a deadly dream, she contemplates allowing herself to die knowing that she will do so at her happiest. Ultimately, she allows herself to wake up because, while people may not always be with us, the memories made with them are. And what is Christmas for if not making memories?

The Husbands of River Song

Christmas specials aren’t designed to flow neatly into each other. There’s a year of real time between each and a whole series-worth of storytelling. Companions come and go, villains are fought and defeated, The Doctor’s appearance occasionally changes. However, if any era was close to having it’s own structure, it’s this one. The theme of Last Christmas carries over as beloved femme fatale River Song makes her final appearance to fight alongside The Doctor. Having been introduced by Moffat during the RTD era, it makes sense that he would wish to give her closure, especially since her timeline has been so turbulent. Her and The Doctor are never meeting in the right order but here, their timelines finally sync up, in her final adventure before that fateful trip to The Library.

This episode almost mirrors that first meeting, where the Tenth Doctor didn’t know who she was, by having her fail to recognise him. She is forever seeking him out and is aware of every face from his first regeneration cycle but is unaware that he has been gifted a new one with a brand new face. Of course, this doesn’t last forever and fans finally get the River/Doctor dynamic where they both have all the details. It’s a melancholy meeting because we and The Doctor know that this is their final night together at the Singing Towers of Darillium. She spends the majority of the episode oblivious to his presence and believes he doesn’t truly care about anyone because he can’t afford to as the universes protector. His final act of love for her proves her wrong in one of the sweetest and most heartbreaking moments of the show because of course he cares. He doesn’t protect the universe because he wants to be praised or rewarded, he does it because it’s right and, above all, it’s kind. If there was ever any way to approach the year ahead…there it is.

The Return of Doctor Mysterio

Superheroes are an interesting concept. Everybody lives a double life to an extent, hiding at least one secret from everyone they know, but superheroes take that to the extreme. They invite the age old query “if you had powers and anonymity, would you use them for good or evil?” which can often lead to some hefty introspection. The stories can be silly (Shoutout to The Condiment King) but at their core they usually say something about humanity. Superman fights for truth, justice and a better tomorrow while Batman fights for what is right even if his methods can be a little sketchy. This episode explores much of that idea – erring on the Superman side of things.

Of course, one could argue that The Doctor is something of a superhero himself. He sweeps in from nowhere when there is danger, barely ever sticks around to receive any gratitude and almost never tells anyone his real name. The main difference is that he isn’t living two seperate lives, there’s no Bruce Wayne to his Batman. However, like many, he has two very different faces. The public Doctor laughs in the face of danger whilst the private Doctor is sadder because he knows nobody can see. This special sees him grappling with the loss of River Song, meaning it also flows quite nicely from the previous special. His current companion Nardole (again, from the previous special) is doing what he can to help but the only true cure for grief is time. There’s no antidote for this pain, it just has to be lived with until one day you find you’ve barely thought about it at all. Anyone who can do that is a true superhero.

Twice Upon A Christmas

The twelfth Doctor has always been underrated. It’s no secret that a large section of the general public stopped watching the show when Russell T Davies left and that numbers continued to dwindle as the Moffat years went on. It’s a genuine shame because, whilst the Eleventh Doctor was good, this Twelfth incarnation was everything the famous Time Lord should be. He was mysterious, charismatic, charming, fantastical and just a little bit grumpy. Actor Peter Capaldi once said that he was aiming to channel all the men who had come before him, particularly classics like William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee, which absolutely comes across. It’s particularly prevalent here as a regenerating Twelfth Doctor encounters a regenerating First Doctor portrayed by David Bradley.

Bradley’s characterisation isn’t perfect, being overly sexist in a way that Hartnell never was, but has the same inquisitive nature and cheeky attitude. He’s clearly written this way to demonstrate how far society has (allegedly) come since 1963in terms of the attitude towards women but the show was never like that. It has always represented the best of humanity, regardless of the year. The very first episode was produced by the late Verity Lambert – a woman – and directed by the talented Waris Hussien – a gay, British Indian – which set the standard for representation behind the screen as well as on it. This episode features the introduction of Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor, which was a landmark moment in the shows history, but the plot isn’t building up to her specifically. With both the First and Twelfth Doctors refusing to regenerate, it’s about how far this show has come and how long it could continue to go. Sure, Jodie gets a couple extra seconds to really bask in her presence but then it’s straight back into business as usual. Pretty much sums up the end of the year too. Let’s all take a little moment to bask in the year just gone before diving into the one to come.

Doctor Who Christmas Specials: The Moffat Era (Part 1)

A Christmas Carol

Probably the most well known Christmas tale aside from the Nativity Story and for good reason. The tale of miserable miser Ebenezer Scrooge, whose heart is changed by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, has everything. It’s filled with all the joy and heartache that the yuletide season can bring as well as a sprinkling of scares but it primarily features an important message about life itself. Every single adaptation, regardless of quality, manages to capture at least an inkling of that spirit because the story at it’s source is so pure, and this episode is no exception. Crotchety curmudgeon Ezran Sardick is unwilling to allow a spaceship to land on the planet whose skies he controls, risking the lives of all onboard, until The Eleventh Doctor pulls a Christmas Carol on him. In a fascinating twist to the classic tale, The Doctor spends many Christmases with him and a young woman named Abigail who Ezra falls in love with despite her short lifespan. It switches between these adventures in the past and Old Kazran in the present as he deals with these newly acquired teenage memories. All the elements of the globally famous book are here, just adapted slightly and with a timeline twist that only The Whoniverse could provide. 

This is notably the very first Christmas special where The Doctor is joined by his full time companions, in this case the recently married Amy Pond and Rory Williams, as well as the third time that he joins in with a Christmas dinner. It also features real snow, which will become a constant for this era, and zero on-screen deaths, which will not be a constant ever again. As far as Christmases for the timelord go, this is a fairly relaxed one (unless you count the shark).

The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe

Christmas isn’t easy for everyone. It’s a special day for many but, even for them, life carries on. After all, December 25th is just one of 365 days in the year. This particular episode sees newly war-widowed Madge taking her son and daughter to an uncle’s country house for the holidays. Waiting for them is the house’s new caretaker – The Doctor – who has recently faked his death in front of his friends (Amy, Rory and River) meaning he is the loneliest he has been in quite some time. The messaging in this episode is likely to hit harder than in previous years as it deals directly with processing grief. Madge knows that if she tells her children that their father is gone, then they will forever link that to this time of year, which is heartbreaking enough on it’s own, but it’s the very human way that The Doctor responds that may cause a few tears. His response is one of the most meaningful lines The Doctor, or any other character on the show, has ever uttered: What’s the point of them being happy now when they’re going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.”

It’s impactful on its own but it means more coming from The Doctor at this particular moment because kindness always means more when it comes from someone who needs it the most. He just wants to provide a magical Christmas for this family, knowing it’s something he can never have, especially with those closest to him. Eventually, the adventure ends and Madge gives him some tough motherly love about being with those you love at Christmas which leads to The Doctor to visit the Ponds and unveiling the truth of his survival. It’s another beautiful, quiet moment that requires no dialouge to convey how much this reunion means to him. Actions speak louder than words and choosing who you spend Christmas with is one of the most impactful actions of all.

The Snowmen

Love isn’t always easy, especially if it ends in loss. Unfortunately, this lesson is often learned the hard way – through first hand experience. The world feels unjust and cruel, like nothing will ever matter again. It’s easy to shut yourself away from everyone and become ambivalent to those who still care because having feelings again just opens you up to more pain. This is the situation The Doctor finds himself in as the episode begins, only to be pushed into a plot involving carnivorous snowmen and a secretly cockney nanny, but his heart isn’t in it initially. This incarnation of The Doctor was known and loved for his whimsical delight and enthusiasm, which was present in his previous special, so to see him like this is upsetting. It feels wrong.

Of course, as the adventure progresses so does he. He finds himself lost in the mystery and fails to realise how much fun he’s having until he clocks himself in a mirror. Without even thinking about it, he has adorned his iconic bowtie, which he’d abandoned it when he no longer wanted to be The Doctor. It’s a small moment but it’s poignant as those moments often are. All it takes is a small moment of self reflection (metaphorical or literal) to remember how good things used to be and to realise that they could be again. Sure, life has its sorrows, but they make those moments of joy even more meaningful. Find things and people that you love and hold on for as long as you can. Treasure those precious memories because it’s those experiences that make life worth living.

The Time of The Doctor

Another regeneration special and another reminder that it’s okay that nothing last forever. As The Doctor finds himself in a stalemate in the town of Christmas on the planet Trenzalore (where it’s prophesied he will die) he faces his mortality and his principles. Yes, he could leave, allowing the town to be destroyed by every villain he’s ever faced but he never would. The Doctor will always fight for what is right, down to his last breath, for even just one life. Even here, as he approaches the end of his final regeneration, he tells the townsfolk that he has a plan because he would rather give them hope than allow them to wallow in despair. The Doctor stands for hope, kindness and the promise that someone out there cares.

That’s true of the show as a whole. For those who love it, it’s a safe space that’s always there when it’s needed. Stories can have dark moments but with The Doctor at your side, there’s no need to be scared. The show has a lasting impact on the fans and this episode is a powerful reminder of that legacy. This special aired Christmas Day 2013, one month after the 50th anniversary special The Day of The Doctor aired in cinemas around the world, and it felt like a defiant stand to anybody who thought the show was close to finished or a niche interest. Doctor Who has been around for nearly 60 years now, and fan-willing, it could go for another 60 because it’s a premise full of promise – all of time and space. The Doctor has 13 more lives (11 as I write) and every single one of them will have their time. This episode asks the oldest question “Doctor Who?” and there’s your answer.

Doctor Who Christmas Specials: The RTD Era

There’s never really been time for seasonal celebrations in the Whoniverse. The classic run only aired on Christmas Day once, during the 12 week-long story The Daleks Master Plan, with a Christmas specific episode titled The Feast of Steven. The footage is currently missing, as is much of the William Hartnell era, thanks to the BBC wiping tapes to re-use at the time. They weren’t to know it would be one of the most popular shows on Earth. It’s especially frustrating for this case in particular because an episode like that never aired again during the classic run. In fact, no episode was ever broadcast on Christmas Day again…until 2005. That’s when showrunner Russell T Davies, who had recently revived the show for a new generation, aired the first of his dedicated Christmas specials The Christmas Invasion. These specials continued throughout his 5-year stint as showrunner, becoming something of a running joke for characters on the show itself and cemented the beloved day as a British Christmas Tradition.

The Christmas Invasion

There is something very human about this episode. That shouldn’t be a surprise given it focuses on human characters, with The Doctor out of commission having just regenerated, but it’s how it shows the humanity within people that makes it wonderful. With Earth under threat of alien invasion on Christmas day and ⅓ of the world’s population being held hostage on rooftops via blood control, it’s up to the human race to save themselves. But how do you handle such a crisis? Do you attempt peaceful negotiations or plan a “defensive” attack and face the potentially deadly consequences? Of course, The Doctor awakes but British Prime Minister Harriet Jones still makes her final decision and she faces the career-defining ramifications.

It also serves as a spectacular introductory episode for The Tenth Doctor. David Tennant slips into the role comfortably, bringing an element of comedy, but still brings an air of gravitas that demands attention whenever he speaks. He does so in just 15 minutes of screentime, so it’s no surprise looking back that he became one of the nation’s favourite Doctors. There are plenty of noteworthy performances throughout the rest of the episode too, particularly from Penelope Wilton as Harriet Jones (former MP for Flydale North and current Prime Minister). It’s clear that she’s afraid but it’s never for herself, rather for the people of her country and the rest of the world, but it’s masked by a steely resolve. Meanwhile Billie Piper as Rose Tyler brings a layer of dramatic emotional devastation over losing the Doctor that she knew whilst still having the courage to stand in his place as Earth’s spokesperson and defender. It’s an episode about having hope, even when it feels like there’s none left, and what’s more Christmassy than that?

The Runaway Bride

The Doctor’s own humanity is front and centre here. For the first time since he met Rose, he finds himself alone whilst mourning a great loss. When Donna Noble materialises in the TARDIS on her wedding day, he becomes swept up in a plot that dates back to the dawn of time even though he doesn’t have to. He only initially gets involved out of curiosity but, as the plot progresses,it becomes clear that he’s sticking around to save Donna’s life because (despite not wanting to) he cares. It’s clear from the mournful looks he gives her, and the ones that he keeps to himself, that he needs to save someone…anyone. There’s a sweet and simple moment where they’re sitting on a rooftop having just escaped a robotic santa in the TARDIS where The Doctor puts his coat around her. It’s a tiny gesture but, given his desire to be uninvolved, it’s clear how meaningful this act is.

It all builds to the moment where The Doctor faces off against the enemy, defeating her in an act of pure rage. He isn’t doing this because he’s worried about humanity or even because he’s worried about Donna, he’s doing it because he feels alone and doesn’t care what happens to him. For him, this is a moment of acceptance of his place in the universe and his final sacrifice for humanity because the pain of his losses is too much to bear. Donna stops him but she still refuses to travel time and space with him. It’s rare that someone turns him down and it clearly stuns him. He once again finds himself all alone, which breaks his hearts because life is only truly an adventure if it’s shared.

Voyage of the Damned

In times of struggle, there should be no class divide. In times of crisis, everybody is human…or alien as the case may be. Once again The Doctor finds himself stumbling alone into an evil scheme, only to find himself surrounded by a delightful cast of characters. On the space cruiseliner Titanic, whose crew features robotic angels set on murdering everyone, there is no shortage of class representation. There’s the rich businessmen who feel like they deserve their wealth, the waiting staff who have very little  and the farmers who toil away endlessly to earn theirs. It’s easier to sympathise with some of the characters more than others but it’s not difficult to hate the villain behind the whole scheme – a morally bankrupt CEO. It doesn’t matter how many people die, even if it’s everyone on Earth, so long as he gets his paycheck. Whilst this portrayal of CEO’s is comical, the underlying truth unfortunately is not. For the rich, it’s all about getting richer.

Meanwhile, the story manages to grapple with grief and loss. The cast is larger than just The Doctor and his companion but each character is fleshed out in a way that makes them easy to root for…even the stockbroker. It wouldn’t be a Christmas special without death and this one is no exception, featuring several of them, with each more devastating than the last. They are all inspired to sacrifice themselves, because that’s what they feel The Doctor would do, and his guilt is evident but grief can and should be felt at Christmas. Not everybody makes it from one Christmas to the next and that hurts but it doesn’t mean that feeling should be avoided. Celebrate Christmas for those you’ve lost with those you haven’t.

The Next Doctor

Sometimes Doctor Who is just a classic Doctor fights the monster story with a lot of heart. Battling the cybermen in 1800’s London alongside a man claiming to be The Doctor is one such tale. The major draw at the time was the spectacle of it all and the tease of a Doctor we hadn’t yet met. David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor was beloved by the nation (still is) so his leaving the role was a major deal. The announcement was made prior to the airing of this special so it wasn’t improbable that 11 (or even 12) could have popped up. Of course, this turned out not to be the case but that’s a shame because David Morrisey is one of the best Doctor’s we never had. He embodies the very heart of the character. He’s charming, suave, and charismatic in a way similar to classic incarnations like The Fifth Doctor. His impassioned speech to a crowd of Victorians about how The Doctor has saved humanity countless times and has never been thanked turning into a raucous applause for the man himself is a beautiful moment.

The previous two specials have left The Doctor alone and grieving but here he finally gets a moment of peace. For the first time since The Christmas Invasion, he is convinced to enjoy a Christmas dinner. Given everything he’s been through, and everything he’s about to go through, it’s a brief moment of levity that brings joy to the soul.

The End of Time

It’s apt that this is ultimately a story about fate and acceptance. This two-parter was a major event at the time as, for many people, it was their first regeneration. David Tennant had been the titular timelord for 5 years and was adored by the general public but his fate was the same as every other actor to play the role – to leave. This idea is baked into the plot, which sees him facing off against The Master on a global scale. It’s been prohpisied that he’s going to die but he isn’t ready and is barely holding back his frustration. It perfectly echoes the emotions of the audience who were’nt ready to let him go either.

However, as it must, his fate arrived all the same. The Tenth Doctor, though upset, understands and accepts that it’s his time to go. He takes an emotional walk down memory lane, seeing where all his companions are and how they’re doing, seemingly to put himself at ease. The universe is currently resting easy, as are those in it that he cares about, so there’s no stone left unturned for him. The episode only shows Ten’s companions (although The Sarah Jane Adventures later clarified it was all of them) which makes a great deal of sense because it brings everything full circle. It’s obviously sad to see him go but visiting his companions serves as a reminder of all the good times. It’s almost like a clean slate, so that The Eleventh Doctor can burst onto the scene without baggage and embark on his own adventures. What a dynamic entrance it is too filled with excitement and wonder. This wasn’t to be the final festive regeneration (in fact it’ll be a little bit of a recurring thing) but it was the first and it knew the weight it carried. It was big, bold and beautiful.

The Power of the Doctor (SPOILERS)

Doctor Who is a ridiculous show. It is inheritly silly that a humanoid alien with two hearts, who ocassionaly regenerates their body, travels time and space in a little blue box. The stories told have been dramatic, serious and even heartbreaking at times but it’s still absurd. That’s part of why it’s such an easy show to fall in love with. The fanbase (or “Whovians” as we’re known) are one of the most passionate of any franchise and our excitement often peaks whenever The Doctor regenerates. There’s a palpable air of explosive tension as the episode approaches, which remains after the episode has aired and The Power of the Doctor is no exception. It features an added layer of hype because it coincides with the hundredth anniversary of the BBC’s founding, so it should be as Doctor Who as the show has ever been.

The feature-length episode sees the Thirteenth Doctor combatting The Master, whose plan involves Daleks,Cybermen and Raputin, although it’s so complex that it requires a PHD to understand. She is assisted by current companion Yasmin as well as former companions Ace and Tegan but the list doesn’t stop there. As an episode designed to celebrate the show and the network it airs on, there was no doubt that there would be cameos and references galore, but they really pulled out all the stops. The first batch of cameos occur shortly after The Master has succeeded in one of his plans many stages – forcing The Doctor to regenerate into him. Seeing actor Sacha Dahwan in the Thirteenth Doctors clothes having stolen her body (and by extention her regeneration cycle) would be thrilling enough but it allows Thirteen’s conciousness to interact with her former lives. (Think Aang in The Last Airbender conversing with former avatars). It allows for a lovely scene where David Badley as The First Doctor praises Thirteen for all she’s done, which should warm even the darkest of hearts. The First Doctor then morphs into his sixth, fifth and seventh forms which were to be expected given the good health of all the actors involved and their continued love for the show. The major cameo here is the presence of Paul McGann asThe Eighth Doctor, which is delightful. His TV movie has held a less than stellar reputation with the fanbase but over the years, people have softened and it feels as if Paul is finally getting the love he always deserved.

The second batch of cameos are equally wonderful. At the conclusion of the episode, Thirteen’s companions Graham, Yasmin and Dan form a former companion support group. In the room are the expected ones – Ace, and Tegan – as well as the semi-expected Jo Grant. However the cherries on top of this nostalgia cake are the appearance of Mel, who acompanied the sixth and seventh Doctors as well Ian Chesterton who was (along with Barbara) the very first companion. Actor William Russell may be 97 years old but he doesn’t look it and it so marvellous to have him involved. The same would have been true of Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor) had he been well enough to be involved. The cameos were not the only way that the show was celebrated as there were plenty of references for people who knew where to find them. Whilst The Master is The Doctor, he puts together an outfit featuring Ten’s shirt with tie, Seven’s sweater, Thirteen’s coat, Two’s cordorouy trousers, Four’s scarf and Five’s stick of celery. It looks a lot cooler than it sounds. Further, on top of even that, is the presence of The Doctors AI hologram which adopts the physical form most familiar to their companion. It leads to a lovely scene of Tegan with Five and Ace with Seven, which are made all the more wonderful with a couple of iconic lines and a mention of former companion Adric.

This may all sound like gushing about how cool this is for fans but that’s because it kind of is. Proper analysis requires a slightly further dive.

This is still a Christopher Chibnall written episode, which means that his fingerprints are still visible. As lovely as all of those character moments are, the majority of the script is fairly basic. It’s most notable during the opening segment where Thirteen, Yasmin and Dan board a moving space train. It’s especially true of Dan (whose actor John Bishop isn’t a very good actor) but none of Chibnall’s characters have much…character. They are there to tell The Doctor how cool she is and to fawn over her but nothing more. At least Dan didn’t stick around for long and Graham had a semi-arc with Ryan but Yasmin has really gotten the blunt end of the stick. She doesn’t just fawn over The Doctor, she’s in love with her (which is alreaady a tired trope). This wasn’t the intial plan because Yasmin was initially interested in Ryan but that was changed when a section of the online lesbian community began to hope that they would end up together. It’s only truly been present in the Thirteenth series and in these last three episodes. The prior episode Legend of the Sea Devils featured it very explicitly but that episode was filmed last which means that those scenes were written knowing that there was no romantic ending for the two. “Thasmin” (a portmanteau of The Doctor and Yasmin) was a half-assed concept, executed purely to please a subsection of fans with the liklihood being that it would never pay off…which is queerbaiting…which is a really awful thing to do.

There are several contrived aspects that could be focussed on, but if it’s a mostly futile exercise. The AI isn’t ACTUALLY The Doctor which means that Ace and Tegan didn’t truly get closure with The Doctor herself, but it’s closure for them and allows for a couple of nifty scenes. The forced regeneration is never fully explained, but it propels the stakes as high as they’ve ever been and (again) allows for some very neat scenes. The Doctor should probably regenerate quicker than she actually does, but it gives her a final scene with Yasmin which some people will have liked. The biggest contrivance that can be truly critiqued is The Masters Dalek Plan (an in-episode gag, which got a smile). The episode never fully explains it because this Doctor refuses to talk to anyone about anything that matters. She claims that Yasmin is her best friend but this refusal to tell her anything is so cruel it’s a wonder she hasn’t already left. Even as she’s about to regenerate, The Doctor pushes her away for seemingly no reason.

This is the end of an era and in a lot of ways it feels like it. There are grand stakes and countless homages for the fans but it should also work as a series finale…which it doesn’t. One of Chibnall’s biggest issues as a writer is that he can come up with an interesting idea but often won’t fully see it through. There are a couple of dangling plot threads that are unlikely to go explained (a belief that Chibnall himself backed up in a recent interview). The concept of The Timeless Child works in theory, adding a new layer of mystery to an already mysterious character, but it has no resolution. The Fugitive Doctor (allegedly a pre-First Doctor incarnation) is a brilliant idea with an unfortunate placement in The Doctors history which allowed for actress Jo Martin to give a few stand-out performances…but that’s half the issue. She is relegated to a few minor cameos and her backstory is never properly explored on-screen. It is explained in a comic book storyline but that makes it feel like it wasn’t important enough to actually get Jo Martin back on a soundstage for. Then there’s this manic iteration of The Master, whose placement in the timeline is also never explained. Chibnall is all excellent concepts with poor execution and that isn’t missing here, it’s just being overshadowed by the pre-existing characters.

The regeneration itself is stunning. Credit has to be given for allowing Thirteen to regenerate outside which hasn’t been done since the fourth regeneration. It allows for a beautiful setting and a now iconic shot. Even more iconic are her final words which are short, sweet and very Thirteen. One could complain about the camera close-ups (another Chibnall staple) but honestly, it’s so near to perfect that it doesn’t matter. The introduction of the Fourteenth Doctor, however, is perfect. Portrayed by David Tennant, with a call back to the first Tennant Doctor (Number 10), it’s as funny as it is shocking. It can only be speculated why the body chose this face and why the clothes also regenerated but the current hypothesis relies on “forced degeneration gonna do something weird” although I personally would also throw in this being part of the new regeneration cycle. The Eleventh Doctor did warn that it may be a bit unstable.

The Power of the Doctor may have it’s issues but it’s still a delight to watch. As a regeneration episode and celebration of the shows history, it’s excellent and as a moment in that history it is unprecedented. There are thirteen months between now and the airing of the 60th anniversary specials, which are sure to be rife with fan speculation and social media teases. Whilst writing this, the new logo and momenteous pairing of the BBC and Disney+ were announced. It’s difficult not to be excited as a fan. As an underappreciated Doctor once said:

Change, my dear, and not a moment to soon.

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Bea’s Comfort Content

As C-3PO once so eloquently pointed out “we seem to be made to suffer, it’s our lot in life”. He was, of course, talking about himself and R2-D2 stranded in the dunes of Tatooine, but I’ve often felt the exact same sentiment in my own life. Over the past couple of years, I’m sure I’m not the only one, so I wanted to share some of the content that’s helped me through.



This 1996 classic, directed by Danny Devito, based on the Roald Dahl book is a staple of my life. It’s an adaptation that captures the charm and whimsy of the source material whilst providing one of Hollywood’s greatest villains with Headteacher Agatha Trunchbull. Whose heart wasn’t warmed by Miss Honey?

Toy Story

PIXAR Studios’ first feature film and the first fully animated feature-length motion picture is still a perfect hit of nostalgia. It has a great plot, likable characters, and one of the greatest scores ever written but it’s also a franchise I’ve grown up with. Realistically, any PIXAR film could go here, although The Incredibles is a close second.

The Lego Batman Movie

Batman, as a character, is most entertaining to me when he’s not being too serious. Batman ’89 captures the comic book vibe and the 1960’s Adam West show captures the perfect camp nature but this film achieves both. It’s also overflowing with warmth, in-jokes, and obvious respect for the character. It’s a perfect introduction for children and I love it more on every rewatch.


Doctor Who

I started watching this British sci-fi classic when it returned to our screens in 2005 and it’s those few years that I find myself rewatching the most. It’s the era where I fell in love with this show, with superb scripts from Russel T Davies and a stunning score from Murray Gold, but in particular, it’s that first series I fall back on most regularly. Never skip 9.

Spongebob Squarepants

The first few seasons of this show, which started airing in 1999, contain some of the funniest moments ever aired on television. Again, this is a show I grew up on because it simply saturated Nickelodeon thanks to reruns. Stephen Hillenberg created some of the most likable, entertaining characters and educated us on Sea Life without us noticing. He is missed constantly.

Bob’s Burgers

This animated adult comedy about a man, his family, and their burger restaurant is one of the best shows currently airing. I started watching during The Pandemic and quickly fell in love with these characters as well as the various forms of comedy employed by the show. Slapstick, sarcasm, and one-liners all have a part to play in making this semi-sitcom as quirky as it is.



Primarily known for his asdfmovie series, Thomas “Tomska” Ridgewell and his friends create some of the funniest videos on the platform. Whether it’s their Content series on the second channel “Tomska and Friends”, the live-action sketches, or even asdfmovie itself, I’m constantly dipping back into his videos. Content is especially neat because it feels more like hanging out with the boys than watching a video. The very wholesome boys.

Tom Scott

Youtube is home to a bounty of educational content and Tom Scotts channel is home to much of it. From visiting amazing places to his series Things You Might Not Know, as well as the roundtable games he plays with his friends, Tom is a bastion of knowledge and entertainment. He also has one of the most relaxing voices I’ve ever heard.


Harry Brewis is known for his zany energy and only uploading twice a year, but every time he uploads he raises the bar for video essays. They are always well researched and manage to keep me engaged despite their, occasionally rather long, runtimes. Television, gaming, and real-world events all get a look in with his often thought-provoking work.



I don’t really listen to music but I grew up listening to classic artists like Bowie, Abba, and Queen. Honestly, any of their works could go here, but I find myself returning to Queen’s catalog the most. There are all-time greats like Bohemian Rhapsody but songs like Hammer To Fall are just as wonderful.

The Lord of the Rings OST

Considering my love of movies, it should come as no surprise that I lean towards soundtracks instead of mainstream music albums. John Williams’ work is unparalleled but if anyone came close, it was Howard Shore with his compositions in the Middle Earth films. Not only are they hauntingly beautiful, but they make me feel at home. Concerning Hobbits never fails to make me smile.

West Side Story OST

If it’s not film soundtracks, it’s musicals. I grew up with the likes of Hairspray and Grease but more recent productions like School of Rock and Beetlejuice: The Musical arejust as great. My focus often shifts, as does my mood, so I go through a wide variety of scores but for today’s recommendation, it felt right to pick West Side Story. Steven Spielberg recently released his own film based on Sondhiem’s musical and Sondheim recently passed away. If you have somehow missed out, now is the time to jump in.

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Doctor Who is Dying (And The BBC Are To Blame)

Where We’ve Been

I adore Doctor Who with all of my heart and I have done for the past 15 years. It has become my comfort show, always there for me even when I feel like nobody is. I’ve seen a lot of people criticising the show in my time, both fairly and unfairly, but I’ve never really discussed my own opinions on it beyond that I like it. I rarely stray from the positive vibes that I’m attempting to put out into the world but I feel like, in this case, I can make an exception. Before we begin, I’d like to state that a large part of this is theory built upon what we know, and a fair amount of scepticism. I pray that I’m wrong, but this thought has been circling my head for some time now and I feel like it’s worth putting to page.

I think the BBC is trying to kill Doctor Who… Again.

First, a little history. From 1974 to 1984, the show was at the height of its popularity. Both Tom Baker and Pete Davidson, who played the 4th and 5th Doctor respectively, were popular with viewers before Colin Baker took over as the 6th Doctor. This is where the issues began. Baker is a wonderful actor, however his portrayal of the titular Time Lord was filled with spite and malice. This, coupled with what many saw as an increase in violence, supposedly made studio executives very nervous. After his second series, which aired in early 1985, the BBC put the show on an 18 month hiatus before returning in late 1986 with a single story airing over 14 episodes titled Trial of a Time Lord. It was not received well, and in 1987, after Baker’s 31 episode run, Sylvester McCoy began his tenure as the 7th Doctor which lasted for 42 episodes. At the time of the show’s cancellation in 1989, the head of BBC Series was Peter Creegan and the controller for BBC1 was Micheal Grade. They both hated the show, with Grade being responsible for the 18 month hiatus, feeling like the show was cheap and old fashioned. After being relegated to varying timeslots week after week, citing falling ratings, Doctor Who was put on hiatus with the BBC promising it would return soon. It would return for a TV Movie in 1996 before entering a hiatus once more.

In 2005 the show officially returned, with Russel T. Davies at the helm and, for one series, Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor, before the role was taken over by David Tennant. It’s no secret that once they left in 2010 the show’s popularity declined, and whilst Stephen Moffat was showrunner these ratings remained fairly low. However when Chris Chibnall took over in 2017, the ratings began hitting an all time low, although I don’t think this is entirely his fault. One of my largest issues with the show is the increasingly large scale series finales, which peaked under Russel T. Davies, and which felt a little forced under Stephen Moffat. Both showrunners very last episodes felt like the could serve as an ending to the show itself, especially Moffat’s which includes the First Doctor, making it feel like the show has ‘come full circle’. This episode, titled Twice Upon A Time, aired in 2017 and I have my suspicions that the BBC considered cancelling the show at this point. Moffat had given it an ending and the viewing figures were at an all time low. Even if they cancelled it, there would still be all of the merchandising and overseas sales to make a profit on, which I suspect is where the bulk of money relating to the show comes from anyway. However, the 60th anniversary was only 6 years away. I speculate that the BBC chose to prolong the death of the show in order to air a 60th anniversary episode, because the 50th anniversary episode pulled in the most viewers the show has ever had (10million in the UK alone).

2017 was an interesting year in other areas of the BBC, namely leadership. Since 2007, the body in charge of the corporation was the BBC Trust whose sole aim was to act in the interest of the licence-fee payers. Much of the BBC’s money comes from the fee of £145.50 per year that they charged at the time people to view programmes live. This changed slightly in late 2016 (whilst people behind the scenes were attempting to dissolve the Trust) when the law changed, meaning that access to the BBC’s on-demand service also required a TV Licence. In 2017, the BBC Trust was replaced by the BBC Board, which comprised of various people, including former Conservative politicians and bankers. I’m not getting into politics, but Conservatives are not known for being progressive, unlike Doctor Who which has always been progressive. The revived series in particular has given us several queer characters (one of whom got their own spin-off show) and people of colour (two of whom entered the TARDIS as a companion).

Enter Jodie Whittaker. I don’t deal with change very well, and having a female Doctor was a significant change so I was initially hesitant. However, I soon grew to love her iteration of the character, despite some lacklustre writing. Many bigots claimed that her casting was “THE BBC GONE WOKE” and that they were “PANDERING TO THE SJWS” which is an unacceptable view to have. Fans of the show had been calling for a female Doctor for a couple of iterations by this point, and I feel like casting Jodie was, in some small part, allowed by the BBC to keep the fans of the show happy. It might have worked on me had they not completely under-utilised her.

Where We Are

Sine Doctor Who‘s revival in 2005, the standard amount of episodes per series has been 13. This has decreased to 10 episodes per series under Chibnall, with Series 11 airing in late 2018 and Series 12 airing at the beginning of 2020. It was also relegated to the notorious Sunday night slot which nobody pays attention to. It feels as if the BBC were trying to make the series as difficult to watch as possible, and feels eerily similar to how the show was treated in the 1980s. Alongside this, it feels like the BBC has not made a real effort to market the show. During the RTD era, and into the Moffat era, we were treated to entire pull-outs in the Radio Times with synopsis for each episode and the guest star of the week. There were extra episodes online, on the Red Button and during Children in Need. Doctor Who Adventures magazine began its very popular syndication, as did spin-off shows like Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Class. At the height of the show’s popularity was the 50th anniversary in 2013.

The 50th anniversary episode, titled The Day of The Doctor, featured the 11th and 10th incarnations alongside the newly introduced War Doctor played by the late, great Sir John Hurt. It was centred around fighting a Zygon army in the present whilst simultaneously ending the Last Great Time War in the past. No expense was spared and the episode aired simultaneously in 93 countries on TV and in cinemas. It brought in 12.8 million British viewers, 2.4 million American viewers and $10.2million at the worldwide box office. The prologue episode, Night of the Doctor featured the return of Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor whilst the tie-in parody The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot featured Peter Davidson, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy (Doctors 5,6, & 7) bemoaning how they weren’t asked back for the special itself. Even Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor, who was 79 at the time made a cameo in the anniversary episode. The collective gasp in my local cinema from fans remains a cherished highlight. It’s difficult to convey to anybody who wasn’t there but it was an outstandingly large deal. If the 60th is anywhere near as large, the BBC should consider themselves lucky.

San Diego Comic-Con 2021

The world has been at a standstill for over a year, and there hasn’t been a new episode of Doctor Who since March 2020. That’s 17 months. However there is hope of some new information in the form of a Doctor Who panel at SDCC 2021 which, due to the global pandemic, has been pre-recorded and will go live on Comic-Con’s official YouTube channel. This panel will feature Chris Chibnall, Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill and John Bishop as well as a mystery special guest. It will be the first time that John has had a chance to speak about his character Dan, who will be new to the 13th series and whose last name has not been revealed, which in turn led to some theories about former companions he could be related to. This is on us, the fans, for becoming too convinced by our own theories. What isn’t on us is how hyped we were for the special guest. The official Doctor Who accounts had hyped it up for several weeks, making it clear that this person was a big deal. Perhaps it was Jo Martin (The Fugitive Doctor), Sacha Dhawan (The Master), David Tennant (The 10th Doctor) or a companion of Doctors’ Past. This special guest was the most hype I have seen from the fanbase and the most marketing that I have seen from the BBC, in quite some time. There was a lot of enthusiasm going into this panel.

What we learned was that the special guest was actor/songwriter Jacob Anderson who will be playing the new role of Vinder. I’m not familiar with his work, but he was in Game of Thrones, so I know that this will have excited a group of people. However a large portion of the fanbase were understandably disappointed that all of the hype had been for a new character. This does not excuse the people who sent Jacob angry messages and death threats. I can’t believe that fandoms are still having to have this discussion in 2021, but harassing a celebrity for a decision you disagree with is unacceptable behaviour especially when it is not the fault of the celebrity. From the interview he gave, he seems genuinely passionate about the role and is delighted to be a part of Doctor Who after being a fan for many years. I wish him nothing but the best.

We also learned that Dan’s full name is Dan Lewis. As far as I can tell, this surname holds no bearing in the history of the show so I have no idea why this information wasn’t presented with John Bishop’s announcement. Next we were provided with some information about Series 13, and it seems interesting to me. Given the pandemic, a full series run (of 10 episodes) was out of the question but a series of 8 episodes had been commissioned which was great news. This was better than getting no Doctor Who at all. During the panel, Chris Chibnall announced that the series would only be 6 episodes long which is 2 episodes shorter than he had previously said it would be, but it’s better than no Doctor Who at all. Then he informed us that this series would be one story split into 6 chapters. I’m not adverse to this idea, and I think it’s a really interesting way to shake things up, but it’s difficult not to compare it to Trial of a Time Lord especially when the show’s run is already so comparable to the first time it was cancelled.

Then came the trailer. I’ve seen a large amount of defence, but I’ve mostly seen it being criticised as not giving us enough information and I agree with the latter take. If you enjoyed the trailer, I’m happy for you—if not a little envious—and for your excitement, but I personally didn’t feel like the trailer gave us enough. The trailer itself was 40 seconds long and showed us shots of the core cast either standing around or running. There was one shot of an aerial chase and a couple of shots of locations, but no monsters and no release date. I saw someone online claim that fans who didn’t like the trailer have been spoiled by the long, exciting movie trailers that we get currently, but I think that’s wrong. I personally am not a fan of current movie trailers, but setting them aside, let’s compare the Series 13 trailer to trailers from series’ past. Since 2005, each trailer for a new series has featured the monsters and locations we are going to see, as well as a returning character if there is one (it’s usually a Dalek). These trailers all run at around 1 minute in length but still pack in plenty of frames for fans of the show to dissect. This is true for the first trailer for every new series since 2005, except for Series 11 which really emphasised how new everything was. There was a return to form for the Series 12 trailer, which featured 5 individual monsters. I’ve seen some say that if you’ve paid attention to production then you already know what monsters are going to be in Series 13 so they don’t need to put them in trailers. The majority of people have not seen these set leaks, but let’s say for the sake of argument that they had: it would then make no sense for the BBC to continue hiding this information from the public. This happened before during filming for Series 4, when it was let slip that Rose Tyler would be returning, so she got inserted into the trailer.

Every time an initial trailer for a new series has been released, there are usually 3 months before the series actually airs. However it would have been nice, given how little we know about Series 13, to be given an air date at the very least. I wouldn’t class it as essential, but as a courtesy. It’s returning in “late 2021” but, by looking at past trailers, I think it’s safe to assume that the series will begin airing near the end of October. This is nearly 18 months, which puts it equal will the longest official hiatus the show has ever had, but I suppose I can wait several months and find out what the series is about when it airs. I’m going to be honest, I was upset after the panel but what happened next was much worse

Where we Continue To Be

It had been 3 days since the panel and I was in Glasgow, en route to a family wedding. It had been a really nice day with plenty of shopping and I took the opportunity while queuing in a shop to check Twitter. There it was, at the top of my news feed. Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker are leaving Doctor Who in 2022 with 3 specials, including a feature length finale, airing that year. I had been contemplating writing this piece over the past couple of months but this is what finally pushed me over the edge into writing it.

Firstly, I have to wonder why the announcement was made 3 days after a Comic-Con panel, which are designed for announcements like this. This panel was supposed to be about the future of Doctor Who so perhaps they should have informed us about the biggest change coming to the show. Furthermore, I wonder why this announcement was made at all. Jodie and Chris still have a series and some specials left to go, and I feel like this announcement really undercuts that. We should be focussing on them and the stories they are trying to tell, but instead the public discussion has turned to who will be replacing them. To put it bluntly, this move feels disrespectful to everybody currently working on the show. The person I feel who is being disrespected most by this move is Jodie, who over 4 years, will have received just 31 episodes. By the way, that’s exactly the same amount as Colin Baker. They both deserved a chance at more. In an interview to the press, Chibnall stated that he and Jodie had made a pact of “3 years and out” but that sounds like it should be 3 full series.

The biggest question left hanging over us is what happens to Doctor Who now. Who will be the new showrunner and Doctor? What will Series 14 and the 60th anniversary look like? Is Tasmin Cole staying for another series as Yaz? And, more pertinently to this piece, what would I like to see going forward?

Where We’re Going

When it comes to casting the next Doctor, I don’t think there’s a single option where the BBC pleases everyone. If they cast a man, it makes it look like casting a woman in the role was a mistake, but if they cast another woman they will continue to be blasted by people who think the show is too woke. Ideally, I want another woman as The Doctor and it should probably be a person of colour. Due to the lore of the Fugitive Doctor, I think that casting Jo Martin is out of the question (unfortunately), but maybe Lydia West (It’s A Sin) or another rising star. I don’t think The Doctor should be played by somebody with Hollywood level fame because Doctor Who isn’t just another role. It should be of huge importance to whoever gets the lead and should open doors for them. The actor/actress should also be British, because the show is quintessentially British. I also think they should have theatre experience, because this is a theatrical show and The Doctor is a theatrical character. A trans woman would be really cool, and a continuation of the progressive stance the show has always had, but I suspect the BBC are too cowardly and nobody would willingly throw themselves so openly to the transphobic wolves.

As important as the main role is the role of showrunner, which has been Chris Chibnalls job for the last several years. Since Doctor Who came back, it has been run by fans of the show, and I think that this is a tradition that should continue. I also want somebody who is going to write the show as a spectacle instead of a TV Show. One of my largest issues with Chibnall is that Doctor Who felt like a run-of-the-mill TV show with drama and static cameras. The screen should be filled with enthusiasm in the acting, the words and the camerawork because The Doctors life is chaotic and messy. I’ve always had a slight issue with Doctor Who falling under the “BBC Drama” umbrella, despite it being a large and vague umbrella, because this show should be primarily science-fiction. This is a show that I was made fun of for watching because it was seen as weird, but I didn’t care because I loved it. The show should be proud of how weird it is.

I’d argue that there is a 3rd job we should be talking about and that is the role of composer. When the show was revived in 2005, it was alongside a phenomenal score by Murray Gold and the London Symphony Orchestra. The show did not rely on the score, but it elevated every single scene it was used in. It was what helped Doctor Who be great instead of good. Murray left in 2017, and his duties were passed on to Segun Akinola who is a well accomplished composer himself. However, his bass-heavy score feels like it’s just a score, and I feel like it’s missing the heart and “oomph” of the show. There was no announcement as to whether he is also leaving so, if he stays, I would like his music to convey whatever tone the show has next.

And what of the 60th? I think it’s a fair assumption that we’ll receive an anniversary episode, especially considering how popular the last one was. It may be helmed by whoever takes over as showrunner for Series 14 or by a former writer for the show, but I can’t settle on what form I want it to take. Many fans would like a multi-Doctor story, like we’ve had so many times before, but I’m not sold on that concept. It’s either going to be massive, with all 14 Doctors, or small with just 2, and I feel like a small scale one would work best. The thing is that these have both been done before, and within the last decade at that. My favourite option, before the announcement, was another TV Movie. The Doctor faces off against an old enemy that we haven’t seen since the classic series, such as the Time Meddling Monk, and is drastically injured in the process. She regenerates very early on, much like the original TV Movie, but (crucially) the marketing doesn’t spoil this. We’d know going in that The Doctor is going to regenerate, but we don’t know how soon. The majority of our plot is a brand new Doctor chasing down The Monk in a story like The Chase but more concise and exciting. I’d have liked that, and I think the fanbase would have too.

I think the main thing I want now is a TV Extravaganza Panel, similar to the one they did when Peter Capaldi was announced as the 12th Doctor (but not live in front of a studio audience). Get together as many people as possible from the 60 years this franchise has been going and have Christopher Ecclestone host it because he deserves to be highlighted. Just walk down memory lane, show off surviving props, allow for banter and just pour as much love into it as possible. None of us want to be thinking about this, but there will be members of cast and crew who won’t be around for the 70th anniversary. Tom Baker will be 99. I don’t even know if the show will still be on the air by then. There’s every chance that, if I’m right, it won’t make it far past the 60th. Whatever form the 60 anniversary takes, I want it to be full of the love and excitement that has allowed Doctor Who to survive for so long.

I adore this dumb little show and writing about it has been the most emotional that I’ve gotten in quite a while. It has led me to do research and listen to soundtracks and become more invested than I ever was. When I tell you that, based on theories and evidence, I think the BBC is attempting to kill the show, it fills me with nothing but sorrow. Even if they aren’t, I don’t think Doctor Who gets as much love as it used to. The fans are still here, and over the course of the pandemic we banded together in a way that we should all be proud of, but there is divisiveness. This kind of divisiveness exists in all fandoms, but to see it in this one hurts more. We’re all here for the same reason. We all like Doctor Who. Even with falling ratings, we’re all still here. I know that some of you have been here since the shows debut in 1963, since the high point of Baker’s era in the 1970s, since the return in 2005, and since our first female Doctor in 2017. Some of us have seen a lot, and some of us not so much, but we’re here because we fell in love with stories of a Time Lord travelling the stars. Even when the show ends, we will still be here and I think that’s beautiful.

How does this show end? I hope it ends the same way every episode over the last 60 years has ended. The Doctor steps into their TARDIS before disappearing into another adventure. The show can end, but The Doctor will always be out there.

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

My Sarah Jane

I was born and raised during a time when there was no Doctor Who on television. As a child of 1997, I was 8 years old when it returned to our screens and I only discovered its existence by coincidence. My family were on a trip to a small Scottish island at the time and, as often happens on a Saturday evening, we found ourselves flicking through the television channels. I can’t remember if we were waiting for a show on BBC 1 to air, but this is where we arrived on the 18th of June 2005 as The Ninth Doctor defeated the Daleks and exploded in a radiant display of flames. By the time the first series with The Tenth Doctor began the following year, I had learned everything I could about this fascinating entity through magazines and fact books and I very quickly came to love the dumb little show about time travel and aliens. The show has gone through ups and downs since then, but I’m still here and committing that cardinal sin of believing the show was better back in my day.

When School Reunion aired on the 29th of April 2006, I was aware of Sarah Jane Smith but my knowledge mainly consisted of her being a companion to The Fourth Doctor who everybody loved. This episode was the first time I was properly introduced to her character, and to Elizabeth Sladen- the actress who portrayed her. Here was a companion who The Doctor had hurt, who felt abandoned by him, and the show didn’t hold back in talking about it. Sarah Jane had become a hardened investigative reporter, partly in the hopes of finding him again, and that was really cool to me. I left that episode wanting to spend more time with her. In 2007, I got my wish.

Once again, my family was on holiday. We had gone stay with my Grandma in the central Scottish belt, as we did every year, and I was perfectly aware that the first episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures was due to air while we were there. Despite not getting my interest in the show, my family let me watch it, and for a whole hour I followed the wonderful Sarah Jane as she embarked on a new journey and made new friends. The excitement level when it was announced that this show (and the more adult spinoff show Torchwood) were going to cross over for the Series 4 finale of Doctor Who cannot be overstated. I had gotten completely sucked in to the Whoniverse over those few years and this was the culmination of all those shows existing at the same time. It was my very first shared universe, and that concept has gone on to be quite the special interest for me. There was a hype around this show that, I feel, was only seen again with the 50th anniversary episode in 2013, and I don’t think words could explain what it was like to experience it at the time. There is a weight behind every single character in this finale, but especially from Elizabeth Sladen. Her ferocity when challenged, her terror at hearing the Daleks and her grief of realising what she had to lose really finalised how much I love acting.

The Sarah Jane Adventures would continue, and Sarah Jane herself would reappear for The Tenth Doctor’s swansong in 2010, but what happened next made all those moments so much more special. On the 19th of April 2011, exactly ten years ago, Elizabeth Sladen passed away. As was my weekly plan, I was at my Grandad’s after school watching whatever re-run was on television. My Uncle had returned and it was then that he informed me of her passing. I didn’t believe him at first, and I think that’s because I really didn’t want to. I’d never met Elizabeth Sladen, but Sarah Jane Smith had been an integral part of my life for 5 years, and I didn’t know how I was going to cope now that she was gone. We’d buried my Grandpa the previous year, so I’d already dealt with death, but this was the very first time that a celebrity I cared about had gone. She was 65 and that is far too young.

That final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures was halfway through production, and those 3 stories would be broadcast over a 6 episode run, but there was a real sense of bitter sweetness surrounding them. This was the last time we would ever see or hear anything new from Elizabeth Sladen, and that final episode ends with a voiceover from her cut together from unused Series 1 dialogue. I look back on that show with such a massive amount of fondness because that was my Sarah Jane. There is an entire generation that grew up with her as a companion, but there are an equal portion of us who grew up with her through the new era, and it doesn’t matter which one you are. Both generations loved her and both generations miss her terribly.

On the ninth anniversary of her passing, showrunner Russel T. Davies penned a loving tribute episode that, due to a global pandemic, was shot by individual actors from individual homes. Farewell, Sarah Jane brought together everybody that Elizabeth Sladen had worked with through the Whoniverse, and in character, they attended the funeral of Sarah Jane Smith. Even all these years later, she is still making a difference.

Elizabeth Sladen deserves every single letter of affection being penned today and in the years to come.

This is mine.

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Doctor Who (Series 1)

In 1989, after 7 Doctors and 26 series in as many years, British Science Fiction’s most popular show was cancelled. The story would live on in books, comics, and audio plays, but it seemed that its television era had come to an end. Then in 1996, the BBC partnered with the Fox Network to bring us Doctor Who: The TV Movie. Starring Paul McGann, this was to act as the launch of a brand new series, which ultimately never came to fruition. Finally on the 26th of March 2005 under the direction of Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner, Doctor Who returned to our screens. The fans have affectionately dubbed the series’ that followed as “New Who” and it began with Christopher Eccleston’s only series as The Doctor.

I feel like Series 1 is often overlooked in preference of the 3 series’ that followed, but I think it’s one of, if not the best. Everything that followed would be built on the foundation of this series. It’s here that we first get to know Rose Tyler, an ordinary working girl, and watch her connect with The Doctor, a mysterious time travelling alien. She is a personification of his humanity and she isn’t willing to let him forget that. This 9th incarnation of The Doctor verges on being dangerous, not only to others, but also himself. He is fresh off the heels of watching (and causing) the death of his entire race- the Time Lords. For the first time in his very long life, he is completely alone in the universe and that prospect terrifies him. Ecclestone provides a masterful performance, balancing outbursts of passionate rage with moments of child-like glee. Roses boyfriend(ish) is also having to learn to fend for himself after Rose, who he relies on, abandons him. Then of course there’s the wonderful, wisecracking Jackie Tyler who might just be the best representation of a mum I’ve ever seen.

I could not talk about Series 1 without talking about how representative it is of the LGBT community. Russel T. Davies brought his experiences as a gay man in Manchester to his show Queer As Folk and he certainly doesn’t leave it behind. As a child, it went completely over my head, but watching again now the implications about peoples sexuality, especially in the series’ second half, are really hard to miss. That is except for Captain Jack Harkness portrayed by British gay icon John Barrowman. He will flirt with anyone and everyone, but takes a noticeable interest in The Doctor. Their witty back and forths are so loving that you wouldn’t be surprised if they were a couple. Their kiss in The Parting of the Ways is the first time I remember seeing men kiss each other on screen, but it’s treated as if it’s completely normal. Of course it is completely normal, but at the time I didn’t know that and this moment in particular would come to be one of the most important to me. Growing up, I’d always admired Captain Jack because he was cool, and a little bit of a rogue, and he was suave. Looking back now, it’s quite clear to me that Captain Jack Harkness was an integral part of my coming out story, I just didn’t know it yet.

The other key element in making this series so beautiful is the score composed by Murray Gold. He gave us a theme for each individual character and would continue to use them throughout his time on the show. He can instil a sense of whimsy, joy, or fear whenever it is required. His music has become synonymous with the show to the point that they continue to use his Dalek score and it still sends shivers down my spine. I’ve often said that a bad start in your story is difficult to recover from, but Series 1 of Doctor Who isn’t that. Its a beautiful start to a show that continues to be close to my heart.

Until Next Time…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer