In the last few months, we’ve seen not just the new series of Who, but plenty of views expressed about the series. I talked about Stephen Fry’s comments in my last post, but there was also Sir Terry Pratchett, saying that the show wasn’t so much as science fiction, but fantasy. To be honest, I’m sort of with him there. Neil Gaiman, for what it’s worth, pointed out (quite rightly) that the show has never pretended to be hard sci-fi – and I’m rather proud that it’s not.
When other shows like Star Trek have a writing team dedicated to making up mumbo-jumbo fake science language, it’s nice to have a traditionally British kind of show. One that cannot be bothered to get up and switch the TV over, it’ll just wait on the sofa till someone else comes in.
But it’s not as if it matters a great deal – it’s still all wonderful escapism, right?
Or is it? I’m not sure there’s ever been a time when this “children’s show” has ever reflected society so astutely and with such brilliant timing. I mean, this year, we’ve had riffs on elections and decision-making the weekend before a general election. And spitfires – albeit in space – the same year as the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. And a football connection on the opening weekend of the world cup. A finale planned and shot using specific dates.
That’s pretty impressive planning on behalf of Mr Moffatt, I would say. It’s almost unbelievable to think that he’s been doing that while also teaching
Guy Ritchie how you update Sherlock Holmes without including Jude Law…
When RTD ran the show, I always got the feeling it just sort of, you know, rambled on – like it didn’t really belong in the same world. Nothing real was allowed in and nothing out. But I love the little connections.
I love watching things like Survival and remembering that Hale and Pace were once famous in this country. I love seeing Stephen and Jamie on the screen and remembering that one was a Blue Peter presenter, the other spent years as a farmer on Emmerdale Farm (because it was still a farm then. Oh how the reality hurts these days…).
But these days, we’re in the hands of someone taking us away from the soap opera in space style and back towards the show’s roots, finding writers who are able to grasp this, no matter how far removed they normally seem. If Richard Curtis’ episode proved anything, it’s that the unexpected source is often the richest. And if Chibnall’s proves anything, it’s that we should really try and avoid that again…
But I’m thrilled… THRILLED that filming on Neil Gaiman’s episode is starting filming next month. Gaiman’s writing has always been consistently great, he has an amazing ability to draw spectacle from something normal, unobtrusive as well as the unknown and fantastical (very Who), and I think he’s always been counted as the dream writer fans would like to see working on the series.
I was convinced it was a cruel joke when it was announced he’d be writing for the next series, but it’s real, and there was apparently a photo on his twitter feed last week showing him, the Moff and Richard Curtis at a read-through. I can’t find it on there, but then asking me to find something on Twitter is a bit like putting someone in a round room and telling them to stand in the corner…
(To one side, what was Curtis doing there? Is he writing more? I’ll be delighted if he is.)
But what excites me more than anything, is that Gaiman GETS Who. Properly. And this proves it beyond even the most unreasonable doubts:
“At best Doctor Who is a fairytale, with fairytale logic about this wonderful man in this big blue box who at the beginning of every story lands somewhere where there is a problem…”
Roll on next April!