Well, the excitement in Doctor Who-land didn’t last long, did it? The first pictures of the 11th Doctor Matt Smith and his new assistant Amy Pond (played by ‘wee’ Scots actress Karen Gillan) were published all over the British press this week as filming of the next series began in Cardiff. But there’s already a chorus of whinges about his costume emanating from the grubby, hidden quarters of sci-fi-geek Inter-Nerd forums – the weird dimension where greasy-haired hordes of smelly, overweight, plastic bag-carrying, fully-grown adult males create a virtual “life” for themselves by railing against anything that resembles progress, and that almost entirely in the field of their favourite TV programme.
Doctor Who’s new executive producer Steven Moffat, a lifelong fan himself, has created what appears to me to be the perfect image for the new Doctor. Matt Smith may, at 26, be the youngest actor to take on the role but the costume reflects that he’s still playing a Time Lord who’s almost 1000 years old. Expressions like ‘geography teacher’ have been bandied around everywhere, but really, Smith’s look is part of a series of Moffat’s small nods to the Doctor’s own past which will put his stamp on the new era – those little nods are illustrated at the bottom of this post.
The bow tie and braces have a slight resemblance to that of Patrick Troughton’s 2nd Doctor, while the jacket has echoes of 7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy’s latter costume in 1996. Add to that the re-designed TARDIS, which hails back to William Hartnell’s original Doctor in 1963. Which is all terribly exciting for long-time fans (like me), you might think. But no; so many of them are already whingeing about the ‘pink’ shirt, the leather elbow patches, the fact that it’s not the clichéd ‘Victorian’ or ‘Edwardian’ gentleman look, that his hair’s too ‘trendy’, that it’s too focused on being ‘now’, what with supposed ‘geek chic’ (ha ha) being “in”… Christ on a Void Ship, when will these people just go away?
Whatever they think, Doctor Who wasn’t brought ‘back’ for them. It didn’t return because they moaned and groaned for years and sodding years after it was taken off the air in 1989, it’s back because it absolutely had to be essential Saturday night family viewing for a 21st century audience. Yes, this is in no small part thanks to its brilliant premise and illustrious history – but it’s also down to the razor-sharp savviness of Russell T. Davies, who didn’t bring it ‘back’, but completely re-launched it for this new generation who now, arguably, love it far more than my own generation ever did. Why? Because it’s better than it ever was. No matter what ‘classic series’ devotees say, you can’t compare the hope and enthusiasm over zero budget original series to the new one. Nor does it matter what Americans or the legions of devotees of American TV claim, Doctor Who is the best programme on TV – and long may it continue to have kids (and their parents) glued to their sets on Saturday evenings.
Anyway, to my real point; it’s a little-known fact that I will be penning a brand new adventure for Matt Smith’s second series, to be screened in 2011.*
This time, The Doctor will be up against the hidden but fiercely reactionary race known as the Anarax: a pale, boil-ridden society of aliens who dwell in the shadowy zenith of the universe called D Attyck, and who attack their forward-thinking enemies by spraying them with poisonous bile and molten pus. Their Achilles heel is that they live under strict dependence on the rules, regulations and bewildering benevolence of the goddess Mumi. The Doctor becomes involved when he finds that not only has the TARDIS has been frozen in time, but the future has been prevented from happening at all.
*SPOILER ALERT* If you really can’t wait, I’ll tell you how he defeats the Anarax – partially through forcing them to interact with civilisation, and partially through flooding D Attyck with soap, water and the odd squirt of Clearasil.
*not factual size