This one deserves a preview to get down my preconceptions, or even misconceptions, so I can look back on them in a week or two and see how they differed from what I thought of the episode. Cos it has the potential to either be something special or something that changes the series in a very big way; or both. The Doctor’s Daughter. I’m excited about this one.
Way back in the Sixties when the series was devised they tried to come up with a title. Something not like anything else. Something that spoke of adventure and time travel. Of a central character who was a bit of a wild card, rather different, possibly an alien. They got a little stuck because they never got round to defining who or indeed what the central character was. Someone wrote down ‘Doctor …. who?’, tucked their notebook in their pocket and went for lunch. Time marched on and they just didn’t come up with anything more specific. He was a Doctor – that much they decided on. He might be alien, he might be in trouble with his own people. He might be running from something. That was about it. And so it has remained with a few modifications ever since. The question became a statement, as if we are not meant to know his secret. ‘Who’ is as much a cover as ‘The Doctor’, which we find out is not his real name. We don’t know anything about him other than he is from a privileged and powerful race who call themselves the Time Lords. He is the only one left and it would appear he was recently responsible for their demise during a great Time War. Their power is left largely undefined. We don’t know how their society was ordered, how they reproduced or if they got married. He has mentioned that he had family; even that he was a father once. In the earliest series he travelled with a young woman who called him Grandfather and that relationship was never disputed.
I’m really looking forward to next week. Not because I want answers to all of the above. Oh no. Not at all. To blow away the mystery of the Doctor would be a big mistake. He is like the Lone Ranger: he rides into town, sorts it out, and rides off again. You don’t really know any more than that. Does he sleep? Does he need to eat? Did he fancy Rose or quite simply love her in a pure and straight down the line very bestest friend kind of way? And we don’t know why he left his home planet in the first place. He has said at various times that he was an exile, he was bored with Time Lord society, and that he ran away. If you leave all those questions unanswered you leave something very unique and powerful at the heart of the series and I’d be sorry to see it go. He’s also a sort of mentor; someone who dazzles and perplexes you with his ways that are so different from our own but from whom we can learn so much. And apart from his frankly adolescent moping during The Runaway Bride that is how it’s always been.
The reason I am excited about tomorrow is that the team that makes Doctor Who has come up with some really extraordinary stories in the last few years that have been critically acclaimed for their adventure, their emotional impact and the issues that the viewer is left processing afterwards. I hope it’s another one of those. Hopefully it will tell us something new about the Doctor, but only a little bit so we won’t get all our Doctor questions answered and we can each have our personal assumptions about him and the Time Lords left intact. And as the years pass there are further challenging stories that eek out hints and glimpses of who this mysterious man really is; but hints and glimpses only. He’s a sort of myth and I want him always to be able ride off into the sunset with all that mystery intact.
Looking forward to it and wondering whether or not I will be eating my words. Again.