The “Whoniverse” is a complicated place. Ever aware of this, and the confusions that can arise, your friendly Oodcasters present the beginning of the end of your confusions… The Oodcast Guide. Each entry in this weighty online tome will be compiled using the very best of what remains of the Oodcast’s collective memory, and therefore absolutely and thoroughly under-researched.
So, let’s get cracking. First up, we’ll take you through the most important part of the series… The Doctor.
The Doyen of doctors, the original was a crotchety old man who insisted on surrounding himself with young people and wearing a hat the shape of a fur-lined cone (which, combined with his white hair gave him the appearance of a time travelling Mr Whippy…) He also chose the TARDIS with the broken chameleon circuit, presumably, so we can’t assume his judgement in travelling methods was any less flawless than his fashion sense.
He travelled with teachers, space pilots, resistance fighters, rescued spaceship passengers, secretaries and sailors before collapsing and regenerating for the first time.
Tremendously knowledgeable on scientific matters, but curiously awful at flying his own time machine, was the first to encounter Daleks and Cybermen, as well as taking jollies to Mexico, Ancient Greece, China and revolutionary France, met cowboys, cavemen and the Celestial Toymaker.
Oh yes, and he had a library card (see Vampires of Venice). Eventually, old age took its toll and he regenerated for the first time, into a time-travelling bad-hair-day.
Slightly shambolic and unpredictable, the second doctor had the appearance of a tramp that wandered into Mr Benn’s favourite costume shop: with a shaggy pudding-bowl haircut, the occasional massive fur coat and Rupert Bear’s favourite trousers.
But there was more to him than fashion statements. He was mercurial and fascinatingly clever, while clumsy and caring towards those in distress. He also established the formidable team with Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, and was the first to openly (and shamelessly) use a sonic screwdriver on screen.
Surrounded by frightened Victorian teenagers, certain UNIT officers, hot-headed Scottish warriors and stupidly intelligent young women, he took on the cybermen and daleks again with nothing but his intelligence and a recorder, is still the only Doctor to take on the Ice Warriors as enemies, guided his friends through an attempted mind robbery, faced creatures from the deep and Yetis in the London Underground before being forced to become Worzel Gummidge by the Time Lords.
Geriatric jujitsu exponents everywhere raised a cheer – for this was their doctor…
Beginning as a victim of friendly fire, and then becoming a confused clothing and vehicle thief as well as saviour of mankind in a plastics factory was something of a rollercoaster of a first day. If it was possible for a Time Lord to have a mid-life crisis, this was it: fast machines, short-skirted female companions and more action than is seemly for someone of advancing years, this doctor was a kind of Budget Bond. With his own Blofeld too: enter… the Master.
During the course of his careering about, he encountered the daleks again, the Master, daemons in Bronze age barrows, the Master, giant green poisonous maggots, the Master, fascist versions of reality, the Master, two sets of underwater cousins (who’s idea of “self-defence” is creeping aboard sea forts and murdering people), the Master, mind control machines, the Master, lost aliens, the Master, potato-headed warrior Sontarans, the Master, and the giant spiders which would ultimately be his end. And the Master.
Did remarkably little travelling around his immediate environs for someone with itchy interstellar feet confined to just the one planet. He did, however, reverse the polarity of more things than any other doctor.
Radiation brought his dashing about to an abrupt halt, and he regenerated soon after into that one-legged sailor in Blackadder II that drank his own wee and wanted to marry Nursey.
Described as looking like a “Space vagrant”, the fourth incarnation was eccentric both in action and dress sense (although not quite as much as the previous doctors, it has to be said). He pioneered the use of scarves as weaponry (see Hand of Fear), the use of confectionary to calm agitated beings, and the construction of jacket pockets from Mary Poppins’ old carpet bags.
Superbly intelligent, witty and fond of jelly babies, this doctor would stick around longer than any other and inspire thousands of children to beg mothers everywhere to get knitting.
In the TARDIS, which gained a glorious oak-panelled look for a time, he entertained journalists, (oddly clumsy but very likeable) UNIT medical officers, savage warriors, Time Ladies, robotic dogs, one rather annoying stowaway boy genius, an aristocratic brainbox and, just before his end, a loudmouth air hostess.
His battles though, were many and varied – taking on all manner of robots (giant ones, servile mining ones, mummified ones, half-human pirate captain ones and reproduction human ones), ancient alien powers, criminal time lords, Sontarans again, female radioactive creatures conveniently buried for centuries under a quarry, disturbing scary mannequins, amphibious lifeforms hiding in lighthouses, art-dealing monsters and – perhaps most famously – the daleks.
His end came when he met the Master again, and fell from a radar dish. Thus becoming the chap off of All Creatures Great and Small.
Next time… Doctors 5 – 8…
I had two beginnings. One false start that sent me scurrying for cover, and then the reunion…
My first happened when I was plainly not ready to see Dr Who. It’s actually one of my first memories (other than falling asleep in front of Live Aid and waking up to see that now-famous video to the Cars song…)
I clearly remember seeing a scene from Earthshock – where Cybermen march up a metal staircase. It genuinely frightened me, and I then remember running and wrapping myself in nearby full-length curtain to hide… 15 or so years later, watching it back again while at university, the same feelings flooded back and I felt a chill down my spine.
The second beginning was a trip to a video shop with my dad. I’d begun watching the TV series properly by then (starting with Sylvester McCoy), and I was playing all the requisite playground versions – everyone wanted to be Ace. Boy or girl, it didn’t matter. Ace was clearly cooler. And so I, being smaller than most of my peers, became the Doctor. On the upside, quite clearly, I was better – after all, I had my own Tardis. And everyone else was a girl. Technically. But anyway, I’d become obsessed with the Doctor, and I wanted more.
Somehow (memory is hazy on the exact details of how I managed it), I got my dad to buy me Spearhead From Space. I took it home and devoured it. Again and again. This was a Doctor I didn’t know, I had never seen before, and was totally different to the one I’d met. But this one was dashing, erudite, and was basically a scientist dressed like Adam Adamant. But I took that in my stride. And their special effects were better than the ones on telly (because they didn’t have to go over the top). I loved the story, and was very wary of shop window mannequins for a VERY long time afterwards.
There was something different about all this, though. I immersed myself, but all the while I was picking up the rudimentaries of right and wrong, of the value of life. Of love for others. And after all, while my friends were totally obsessed with football, I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for them. They watched 22 men in shorts kick a ball around while I loved cricket and watched an eccentric, clever and funny man help up scantily-clad women while he was saving the earth. Sigh.
Patrick Troughton. While my first was both McCoy and Pertwee, I suppose, and I always thought Paul McGann was brilliant but never got a fair go… my second (dad-bought) video was The Seeds of Death. And I’ve always had a sweet spot for the “Cosmic Hobo”, so I’ll go with him. Maybe it’s the daft trousers and the blatant darts at comedy. Maybe it was because he died of a heart attack after (allegedly) attempting to seduce another actor’s wife at a Sci-Fi convention. I don’t know. But the Seeds of Death is one of the finest things I’d ever seen, and I’ve always loved the way his doctor dealt with some terrifying monsters (Cybermen, Yeti, Daleks, the Ice Warriors, the Great Intelligence) with fantastic grace and panache (for the time) and still found time to get everyone else’s back up by practicing the Recorder…
This is tough! There are a few that really and truly drew me in until I was completely hooked. The Ambassadors of Death, Robots of Death, The Pyramids of Mars, Talons of Weng Chiang, Ghostlight, The Android Invasion, The Daemons.
I’ll plump for The Web of Fear though. Pulsating thriller set in the tunnels of the London Underground, with Yeti stalking, looking for prey. Oh, and green stuff on walls. Always good. Really threatening, close thriller which is captivating just from the soundtrack (only episode 1 still exists on film).
This used to be the easiest answer for me. It was always the Cybermen. Daleks, like Andrew, I thought were dull. Really, really not scary and not too hard to run away from. Cybermen were virtually unbeatable (except of course if you happened to have a wrinkly old woman from the Sixteenth Century who came with her own gold arrows… ahem), and they were determined. And Colin Baker’s brush with them (The Attack of The Cybermen), is an overlooked gem.
But for me, it’s the Master.
There’s a series of encounters with Pertwee’s doctor that are absolutely riveting – The Mind of Evil and the Claws of Axos in particular are brilliantly simple but complex thrillers… but the master always has the advantage over the Doctor that gives way to a fascinating story while the Doctor fights to reel him in. And his return last year with Derek Jacobi and John Simm was just, well, perfect. It was classic Master and bang up to date all at once.
Which companion did you either want to be or fancy:
The years watching old videos made a huge impression on me… Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen)…
I always wanted to be in UNIT. I suppose they count as companions…
What are you looking forward to:
The return of the Sontarans – OK, they look a bit like rubber-moulded humpy-dumpty models in shiny suits, but they’re another one of the old-school monsters who were genuinely interesting to watch. Oh, and UNIT returns in the same episode too!
I’m also looking forward to stories by two particular writers – Gareth Roberts and Stephen Moffat…
I am thoroughly dreading what they’re going to do with the return of Rose…
I’m really beginning to hate the whole romance element of the series. Rose was far enough for me. But then Martha, and now Donna too – falling in love with him. Maybe its naiive to expect that love could be kept out of this, but its making David Tennant’s doctor look like a ladies’ man, when traditionally, I suppose, he’s always been a bit above that.