When I was about 14 I took part in an essay competition at school. Not really voluntary, it was assigned to us in English class. Anyway, the subject was ‘women’s liberation’ as it was known in 1974. I won the damn thing with a cobbled-together rant and spent the money on the first three of Kraftwerk’s albums. The ones before they discovered actual music. I still have them.
The teacher handed the essay around. Most of the girls in that class didn’t speak to me for weeks. Some probably won’t speak to me now.
So, with the announcement that Dr. Who has gone all transgender, let’s see if I can repeat my youthful success at offending just about everyone.
Another thing I was good at at school was maths (I know the Americans call it ‘math’ but we have more than just adding and subtracting in the UK so we need to use the plural). A consequence of this is that I was forced to grind my teeth at the announcement that the new Doctoress is number 13.
I have watched this show from its original, monochrome, wooden-acted beginnings. It took me almost 50 years to notice that in the first encounter with the Daleks, there were only about four actual Daleks. The rest were painted on the wall. However, I have noticed each and every Doctor incarnation.
We can ignore Peter Cushing’s Doctor in the films because he wasn’t a Time Lord. He was a human inventor who built a Tardis in his shed. Something we can all aspire to, but he wasn’t an incarnation of the Doctor so doesn’t count here.
One. William Hartnell. A wonderfully grumpy old sod who was clearly, from the outset, a non-human entity. Two, Patrick Troughton, a bit more jolly and then three, Worzel Gummidge – no wait, Jon Pertwee. At that point it all became a bit silly with him driving around in a yellow clown car dressed as Sherlock Holmes. He was stuck on Earth so no expensive special space effects. The biggest special effect was Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s moustache.
Number four, possibly still the best of the lot, was Tom Baker. Large, with a grin bordering on the wildly carnivorous, a fondness for jelly babies and the scarf! I have two of those scarves. My mother made one for me when I was at university (paired with an ex-army greatcoat, I won a fancy dress competition wearing my day clothes – but I was very, very drunk). CStM has since made another one. The old one was getting a bit faded.
Tom Baker brought the show back into a little bit serious. Not too far into serious but enough to make the scary bits a little scary again. After he left it went rapidly back to silly.
Five, six and seven – Colin Baker (arrogant clown), Peter Davison (cricket-playing arse) and the one we all wish never happened, Sylveste McCoy. Oh come on. The thin wiggly guy from Vision On is the Doctor? No wonder the show gathered dust for a couple of decades.
When the show was shelved, so was Sylveste. He didn’t regenerate at the end of his run. He seemed destined to be the last Doctor forever. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and burning of childhood Dalek suits (they were real, I had one and so did my brother – in the 1960s).
The show never had any message. It was just fun. The adventures of a bumbling alien idiot with a time machine, an astronomical IQ and no common sense. Then the BBC brought it back and gradually added an agenda.
Number eight was Paul McGann. Just the one special episode where we could delight in watching Sylveste McCoy gunned down by mistake by a gang. It was set in London about 10 am this morning. He regenerated into Paul McGann, the angst ridden Emo Doctor dressed like Percy Bysshe Shelley without the booze. Again, we didn’t see him regenerate and that’s where the trick was pulled.
The next one we see is not nine, but ten. He’s called nine because we haven’t met nine yet. Bernie – no wait, Christopher Ecclestone, the jolly Northern lad who’s okay with the pansexual antics of Captain Jack ‘if it stays still I’ll bonk it’ Harkness. Not too much message, it was still mostly fun and it had mercifully lost the ridiculous flamboyance of most of the earlier incarnations.
Next up was David Tennant followed by Matt Smith. Both good, both continued the scatterbrained genius approach to the role and both wore (relatively) sensible attire.
They were billed as ten and eleven but they were eleven and twelve. It’s during Matt Smith’s tenure that we meet Doctor Nine – the war doctor, played by John Hurt. Played very well, may I say, but the sneaky insertion of that incarnation between Paul McGann and Christopher Ecclestone cost an incarnation.
Which is evident at the end of Matt Smith’s tenure. Facing down an entire Dalek fleet with only his trusty Cyberman head, Handles, at his side, he is very old now and has no more incarnations left. As he says to the Daleks: ‘You lot have been trying to kill me for thousands of years and here I am, dying of old age. If you want something done, do it yourself’.
But that’s not the end – the Time Lords poke through the rift in spacetime and send him another incarnation. How many does he have now? Even he doesn’t know.
But that was it. Twelve incarnations. Thirteen was a bonus and thirteen was Peter Capaldi.
He started out a bit silly but improved, and then the agenda really kicked in. Lots of in-your-face gayness. Oh it was there before, with the Lizard Lesbian, but it was discreet. No more. Bill, the last assistant, never failed to remind us that she was a rug-muncher first and foremost even though it never had anything at all to do with the Dr. Who storyline.
Sidelines – It was a little endearing to see the last male Doctor fighting the Mondassian cybermen and that they did look rather like the original Mondassian cybermen encountered by the first Doctor. Also a big plot hole. The Master (John Simm, a delightfully psychotic portrayal) regenerated from Derek Jacobi and was confined to Earth until he died. His next appearance was as ‘Missy’ (Michelle Gomez) and it’s not clear how he got there – but it is clear that as the John Simm incarnation he never left Earth he was cremated there. So how did he end up on the Mondassian ship?
Anyway. Bil is going to be seriously pissed off to find that she spent all that time hanging around with an old dude, only to be turned into a cyberman and then die just before the old dude turned into a hot chick. Oh that is some serious bad luck right there.
But then they had to Kill Bill. She can’t come back now the Doctor is an automobile’s nightmare. She’d try it on with the Doctor like that loose floozy Amy Pond did (and she was engaged to Rory the Dull!).
So the new one is a wench. I wonder if the Tardis wardrobes contain any women’s clothing? I mean, after 13 male doctors, why would it? Unless one or more – or all – of them was into that sort of thing. Perhaps they used to go off to some remote part of the galaxy and become Doctorina for a few years. Maybe sneak back as their own assistants.
This new one is number 14 though. Why this mad insistence on 13? Is it supposed to be unlucky that this regeneration missed out ‘the package’? The first Doctor had a granddaughter but he hasn’t used it since then anyway. Twelve new knobs and no action. No wonder he’s given up on them.
If it wasn’t for all the PC crap introduced into the show recently I’d have no trepidation about this new Doctor. A Doctor I can drool at rather than have to make do with the assistants would be a nice change. But then, having seen the 13 men she was before that could prove difficult to get past.
Still, I have a feeling it’s going to have a lot more anti-white-straight-male going on. Not 14’s fault, it’ll be in the script.
The agenda just moved on a notch. Those cheering it don’t know where it’s going.
It’s not where they think it’s going.