Thursday, 26 December 2013

Paul Cornell roundup

First off, Paul Cornell has his new comic out, "The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who". It's available online and elsewhere. His description is thus: "The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who is my love letter to the series, my attempt to be part of the anniversary celebrations.  The Doctor lands in the real world, meets Matt Smith, goes to a convention, finds that his adventures are out on DVD. But it's not lightweight.  It's about some serious stuff that's very personal to me, and there's quite a dark quality to it.  The art, by Jimmy Broxton, is lovely, photo realistic and yet full of comic book life. It's $7.99 for 48 pages (at least 40 of which are the lead story), with a cover by Jimmy and a variant by no less than Mark Buckingham. It's a labour of love, do check it out." The variant is this Christmas themed cover, in fact.

Secondly, he's in the habit of writing a twelve part blog series for Christmas, usually packed full of interesting snippets, maybe the odd short story, and lots and lots of Doctor Who-related material. For your convenience, here's the specifically DW content consolidated from his website.

Fanzines: "I'm pleased to announce that Cygnus Alpha, the fanzine that printed my very first piece of fiction, is back this Christmas. Cygnus Alpha presents The Twelve Doctors of Christmas is a collection of fan fiction that'll be available from Christmas Day. In the meantime, you can download chunks of it here. That's a link to a Just Giving page, all money raised going to the National Autistic Society, but CA is at pains to point out that the fanzine itself will be free, the charity donation optional.  There's also a Facebook group."

Favourite stories:

"Now, this is confined to what a now rather more unified brand hesitates to call, these days, the 'classic series', because if I started to deal with the modern show I'd be deciding, in effect, which of my friends was best, and it'd all get very difficult."

"Perhaps because Doctor Who is both my recreation and my work, I don't really go for 'I know it's bad but I love it anyway'.  I go for great scripts with good shapes, good lines and good character work.  I notice good direction and acting, but they don't necessarily make something a favourite for me.  I don't give a hoot about the quality or otherwise of special effects.  (To do so is, it seems, against the (utterly subjective) 'spirit of the show'!)  I don't care whether or not a story messes with 'continuity' or is important in the show's history, and I always fight the terrifying lure of nostalgia.  When I give in to that, it's game over for me.  I think sometimes Who fandom likes a particular story because of what it contains, when often such stories have a terrible shape, being more like the live feed from the life of the Doctor.  I like stories that build, that are planned, that say something, that are obviously the products of excellent craft."

"There are various stories that I just think are really good, that are tremendous, even, in delivering professional thrills and character and great moments, but to be on my all time best list, I'm looking for all that and something more.  Going chronologically, here are those stories that I think are utterly wonderful."

'The Massacre.'

"I say it's got a good shape, but it's got a highly unusual shape.  The expected episode by episode narrative of Doctor Who must have rather broken down for the audience at this point, when the last three stories have run one, four and twelve episodes respectively, with a Christmas episode in the middle that doesn't contribute to the story it's in and companions coming and going inside individual stories.  To those watching at home, without story titles to shape the material into discrete blocks (and even writers changed on 'The Daleks' Master Plan'), it must have seemed like chaos.  So when the Doctor seems to have died, and Steven becomes the lead for two whole episodes, it might just have seemed vaguely possible this was his show now. Peter Purves, as always, does a brilliant job, and the material is just so serious, like suddenly Doctor Who is being written for an adult audience.  Losing the Doctor's authority means that, rather like the hero of a Tim Powers novel, Steven has to just muddle along, a man lost in time, not even sure what the right thing to do might be.  I think this has a claim to being the best Who story ever, but it's highly atypical."

'The Mind Robber.'

"The first thing one should say is: it's not just about the first episode.  Certainly, the nightmarish, fantastical quality of that episode sets a very high bar, but I think the rest of the story, while different in tone, follows through.  You could say that the start of the story feels like the eyelid fluttering of a descent into dreams, while the rest is the dream itself.  The dream logic of the first episode, where people scream for absurd, dream logic reasons, and we're told we should be afraid of the pure unknown, without knowing what we're being shown, and see things we'd never thought we'd see in Doctor Who, is a triumph on the part of stand-in scripter Derrick Sherwin.  This is the only time we see anything like this from him, as if working at high speed he dashes off something from the depths of his unconscious.  But then the dream itself is equally wonderful.  This doesn't leave the viewer deflated like one of those awful Gerry Anderson 'it was all a dream' episodes.  This is Doctor Who leaving the universe of Doctor Who behind and yet still making it part of Doctor Who, an impossible knot as we've seen done with continuity again this year.  'It was all a dream, but it's still dramatic and heartfelt and means something to our characters.'  Moments of television maker magic like changing the actor playing Jamie fit so perfectly with the tone it's like they gave Frazer Hines chicken pox deliberately.  Okay, so the effect dwindles a little when we get into the business of computers and invasions towards the end, but they're still SF tropes seen from a fantasy distance, like they're toys on the shelf.  It's not in black and white, it's in shadow and silver.  It's actually a disappointment when we get back to the real world of Doctor Who, we're sad that this was all a dream."

'Day of the Daleks.'

"Sometimes a shape is so perfect that competence becomes high art.  I love the placing of the Daleks as the fear from the future, as the shadow of a Doctor Who monster, kept at a distance from the real world, and all the more scary as a result.  I love how they burst into reality at the end and are undone by a perfect knot of plotting.  If only, if only, the time paradox of the Doctor and Jo meeting themselves had been completed at the end.  But then this story would be literally perfect and the universe would end, or something.  (I wish the Special Edition re-edit had added that and got rid of the Doctor shooting an Ogron, rather than snipping out a beloved line and making the Dalek voices better.)"

'Horror of Fang Rock.'

"Again, it's about that point where doing things very well is taken to another level.  There have been loads of stories in the gap between these two picks that did lots of things very well (I so very nearly went for 'The Face of Evil'), but their qualities aren't about story shape.  Here, everything is about story shape.  It's a perfect story, created, as with 'The Mind Robber', out of lack of time and resources.  A great writer has to dig deep, and his instincts make something that chimes.  Sure, you can sometimes see Tom Baker isn't enjoying himself, but I think that adds to the alien quality of his performance.  I'm not sure why Louise Jameson thinks this wasn't written for Leela, because it's her best script away from Chris Boucher.  Does she really think Sarah would have sat on the steps celebrating the death of her fallen foe?  Watching this is like seeing an equation being solved.  In his final draft, Dicks decided nobody was to be saved, because of that ballad at the start.  It's another perfect decision."

'The Androids of Tara.'

"Not so much about shape with this one, because it's just a joyous parody of The Prisoner of Zenda (something else I adore).  The addition of androids and electric swords to Ruritanian romance gives the story a different feeling to any previous Who.  We're definitely out of the gothic; this isn't anyone's unconscious on display.  It's more like an excellent setting for a role-playing game.  What would otherwise be standard capture and escape moves gain a certain swagger as a result.  When else would the Doctor share a toast without mocking the moment?  The world is a little deeper than the usual planets too, because what it's drawing from isn't SF (and so doesn't rely on generic rhetoric about colonies and rebellions) and because the emotional relationships are more complicated.  As adults we realise that Grendel and Lamia had a sexual encounter that he saw as a noble taking his droit du seigneur and she saw as something more meaningful.  That abusive relationship makes her death even more tragic.  So while Grendel may be charming, and great fun, we're given the smallest of nods that brings into focus how tawdry his plans actually are.  Somehow, though, we don't want to see such local arrogance completely brought down.  He has to be defeated in a local way.  So a blissful sword fight that ends with him diving from the battlements having claimed, wonderfully, that next time he will not be so lenient, feels right.  He'll be off to charm his way into some rich widow's purse.  And this is a world, for once, where such details exist."

'City of Death.'

"Just for once, it's as good as everyone says it is.  Again, it's created by desperation.  The sheer number of witty lines means that some of them are wasted. ('You know what I don't understand?'  'I expect so.')  The shape is awesome, which is frankly unusual for Douglas Adams.  This is the one to show to non-fans.  Then tell them it's all like this, and that they don't have to bother to see any more."


"Christopher Bailey writes this story as if it's television drama.  Which results in millions of fanzine articles trying to decipher, through analyses of Buddhist imagery, mainly, what it could possibly mean.  It means only what's on the screen, because most fiction makes use of subtext and metaphor, things which, often with positive results, Doctor Who tends to ruthlessly do without.  (Think about it: where in classic Doctor Who do you find a metaphor?  The Mandragora Helix is the superstition that holds back science, that's the only one I can think of off the top of my head.  Oh, and the Daleks, I guess, but they verge on actually being Nazis rather than just representing them.)  'Kinda' uses all the tools in the box, and is shocking as a result.  Where else do you get such conceptual cliffhangers?  (Well, in 'The Massacre', actually.)  It does the pure fear moment of 'The Mind Robber' too, and tells us, a moment of narrative time later, than fear is silly.  It gives great parts to Adric and Tegan, and gives an excellent guest cast everything they'd expect to find in Play for Today, so they know exactly where they are and give it their all.  That's my touchstone for 'Kinda': it's not great because it's odd, it's great because it's normal."

"Delta and the Bannermen."
"Out of nowhere, this feels like Doctor Who from another universe, where it's all been like this.  The utter confidence of this script is astonishing.  It's like Malcolm Kohll decides the series should be sunny and warm and ethical and sweet and melancholy and all the values that had gone missing in the past few years, and so suddenly has the power to just make it that way, and everything falls into place behind him.  I'm amazed he never worked for the show again.  It's got that theatrical agitprop thing going for it, that I really like about some of the Cartmel stories, the sense that Doctor Who could be performed as a protest in a little theatre above a pub.  It presents us with scenes of domesticity, with a concern for ordinary people that create many scenes that we'd never seen in the series before. (What previous Doctor would dance?) It actually points the way to the future.  It only falters when it's forced to engage with the tropes of traditional Who.  We don't want the bus to be blown up (so it's done halfheartedly) and we want Don Henderson, who was a great actor, capable of anything, to find a way to play his villain that's not taken from the heart of the old series.  A sighing Blackadder figure would have suited.  Nobody, in this, should have had to die to placate the gods of the past.  That's a lesson that persists in the show to this day."

"And that's it.  I wish there was ten, but there's only eight."

Incidental questions:

"Why get rid of Ben and Polly?
"In 1966, incoming Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd disposed of then current companions Steven and Dodo with some haste, replacing them with up-to-the-minute, fashionable figures Ben and Polly, prime examples of Sixties London culture, played in an affable manner by two good actors.  It must have looked at the time like a major part of his redefinition of the series, the most visible mark of a new direction.  But less than a year later, they were gone, having been very swiftly forced to share TARDIS space (and lines) with historical character hastily promoted to companion Jamie.  So why the rethink?  Why ditch such relatable figures who'd attract a young, swinging audience?"

"Because, and this only occurred to me the other day, with contemporary companions and a TARDIS the flight of which can't be controlled, a production team can't do contemporary adventures.  Because any sensible companion, given the possibility they might never return to home and family, is going to get off next time they land anywhere near their own time.  The show was facing smaller audiences and needed to do better with its budget.  Contemporary adventures are cheaper than alien planets or period dress, and offer more in the way of audience identification than contemporary companions do.  Swinging Sixties figures can be found in history and in the future, as this and subsequent production teams proved.  Then the problem was solved by the Doctor's exile to Earth, then by giving him a measure of control over the TARDIS.  For Ben and Polly, the writing was always on the wall."

Why is 'Genesis of the Daleks' told so oddly?

"I don't have an answer to this one, but I have some guesses.  One of the reasons this feels like such an important Doctor Who story is that it tells you that it is.  It has a prologue, where a Time Lord appears to indicate to the Doctor exactly how much his mission this time means.  The Time Lords have literally interrupted the ongoing narrative of the season to do this.  But after that you'd expect a story that's shaped like the rest of the show at the time.  For the first episode or so, that's what you get, with some (exciting) padding immediately to put back the appearance of a Dalek to the end of part one, as was traditional.  But then things get odd."

"For a story set during a centuries-old war, things move very fast.  Davros and Nyder hop to the enemy camp to play traitor very quickly and very early.  Speaking characters pop up to make one particular point (about Norms, on occasion) and then are gone.  Bettan goes from random passer-by to rebel leader in what should literally be, by script logic, about an hour.  And as many people have noted, the enemy camps seem to be a few minutes' walk apart, with a range of travel options available.  It all speaks to me of theatre.  Of, specifically, musical theatre."

"We're a few years in to the age of the great musicals at this point.  Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat have both told origin stories through broad strokes, condensing time to move swiftly between emotional peaks.  Davros and Nyder, to my mind, aren't moving across a battlefield in a television show that could display a caption like 'Three weeks later' if it wanted to, but from one set to another, trundling along the footlights as the stage moves behind them to reveal new props.  Bettan approaches the Doctor like any number of anonymous figures from a chorus approach a lead in a musical, asking him how he feels as a cue for a song.  Sevrin's highly poetic musings even seem to me like he's about to launch into a number of his own, perhaps the sort of thing that David Essex might deliver, a counterpoint commentary on the action.  Lines like the Doctor's 'but would you do it?' are literal cues for showstopping moments that aren't dialogue, but monologue, a single, building, emotional construction that could be quite easily rendered in the form of a song.  The Doctor with the wires to destroy the Daleks in his hands is singing one melody, Sarah providing counterpoint."

"The ending even takes a step out of the narrative in the form of a voiceover, as if the telling of the story has stepped out to the front of the stage.  The rest of the cast should really come forward to surround the three leads with their time ring, singing 'out of their evil must... come... something... goooooood!'  Now, I'm not insane, I don't think Terry Nation or Robert Holmes planned it like this, but perhaps with the thought in at least one of their heads of making an epic, the musical was a form they might have unconsciously connected with.  It explains why 'Genesis' worked so well when it was made into an LP in 1979.  Maybe the BBC had an eye on how well Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds had done the year before.  Perhaps they should have gone just one step further and written the songs."

"Was Tom Baker meant to be the Twelfth Doctor?"

"This business of changing how many bodies we think the Doctor's been through: it's been done before.  In 'The Brain of Morbius' (produced by Philip Hinchcliffe, the chap below in the Cavalier hat, script edited by Robert Holmes) we see eight images that are either of Morbius or of the Doctor's previous incarnations.  These days, people tend to say they're the faces of Morbius, but if so he seems to have been a surprisingly jolly chap with an interest in Earth history.  Some of these guys from the production team are definitely trying out for the title sequence.  ('Douglas Camfield played the Doctor as a Regency rake with a passionate gaze and perfect manners.')  Is the one second from left on the top row suggesting the Doctor was Richard III? He definitely dallied with both side of the Civil War."

"A line in 'The Deadly Assassin', made by the same team the following year, has the Doctor, when asked if he's 'had a face lift' reply that he's had 'several so far' (when a specific number would feel so much more natural as dialogue).  I have a vague memory that the line was deliberately edited, but I can't recall who by."

"So why, other than the anti-continuity, rock the boat aesthetic this team did so well with (and it bears repeating many times that what's now widely regarded as the best ever Who was made by people who stuck two fingers up at the idea of 'canon'), would you want to mess with the numbering of Doctors?  Because, I think, in the same story, we have the first mention of the idea that Time Lords only get 13 incarnations.  So Hinchcliffe and Holmes are laying down the idea that Tom Baker may be the penultimate Doctor.  So his next regeneration would be very dramatic indeed.  Since Hinchcliffe was thrown off the show before any plans he had would have come to fruition, I wonder if they had an endgame in mind, an idea for who their last Doctor would be, an idea even to end the show?  I wonder if Philip Hinchcliffe has ever been asked about that?"

"And finally..."

"Did time travelers come up with the idea of regeneration?"

"Okay, so that's a facetious way to ask this question.  What I mean is this: the plot device of regeneration, the idea that the lead of the show can change in a way that enables the series to attract a high quality actor by allowing them to play the part completely differently, is widely held to be one of the major reasons for its continued survival.  But at the time of the first regeneration, it seems to be done utterly offhandedly.  As if everyone involved knew they were contributing to a story that would go on for another forty-seven years, and could afford to reveal its secrets slowly, rather than attending to the immediate needs of this week's piece of television."

"Because surely the obvious thing was for whoever replaced William Hartnell to play the same character, but younger?  The TARDIS is a time machine, so when your old body is wearing a bit thin, presto, renewal!  (As it's even referred to at that time.)  Indeed, I suspect that's such an obvious reading that audiences of the time might have continued to regard Patrick Troughton as playing a younger version of the same man.  (Interestingly, the Radio Times makes only the most offhand mention of 'the new Doctor Who' as if the show had changed actors in exactly the same way Doctor Finlay might, with a new actor playing exactly the same character, no mention of the change being required in the narrative.  The genius of this move on the part of the Who production team was that a change like this was, for the first time in any media, part of the narrative.)  That feeling of these being younger versions of the same guy might have even persisted past the casting of Jon Pertwee, who actually looks a lot more like a younger Hartnell than Troughton does.  'The Three Doctors' is probably the last nail in the coffin, with its fetishising of the differences between the Doctor's personas.  But even there, perhaps Bob Baker and Dave Martin don't quite know what the idea is, given that they have the more experienced Second and Third Doctors taking advice from the First.  That makes sense if they're actually younger versions of the same body and mind."

"What's clear, though, is whatever the audience might have thought (and it's also incredible that this wasn't pinned down for them, again, as if everyone involved regarded themselves as merely telling the early chapters of a much bigger story, the needs of which were more important than their own need not to confuse), the production team and Troughton himself definitely regarded the Second Doctor as (somehow) being an entirely different person to the man who had now become merely the First.  One can just about imagine the doddery chuckling of Hartnell having once been the hopping about of the Second.  Just about.  But consider that Troughton had considered playing the part blacked-up.  Now, that can't be a younger version of the same body."

"(He actually wanted not only to be in blackface, but dressed as a windjammer captain...I can only imagine this idea was turned down not only because of the staggering racism involved, but because of the possibility of lines like: 'Well, Doctor, you may have authority over one commercial sailing ship crossing the Atlantic, but I don't see how that gives you the right to meddle in the affairs of this moonbase.  Although we're not at all racist.')"

"That you wouldn't pick Troughton to be a younger version of Hartnell is why I don't quite believe Hartnell's reported line of 'there's only one man who can take over, and that's Patrick Troughton', because that would mean that Hartnell had also had the idea that a chance of actor could mean a complete change of role.  (I liked how An Adventure in Space and Time turned that into a complement made after the fact rather than a prediction.)"

"Think for a moment about how staggering an idea this was.  Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis decided that they were going to do something entirely opposite to the obvious, and change not only their lead, but also the part, in a way nobody had ever done before.  They opted to not quite tell the audience they'd done it, and leave the mechanism as to how this happened unexplained.  There aren't loads of documents of the time or interviews since saying 'and then we had this incredible idea'.  They seem to know that others will later come along and, over decades, slowly fill in the details, in such a natural-seeming way that we're still finding things out.  If they'd opted to do the sensible thing and just make him younger, the lifespan of the show would have been much shorter, because you can't keep making that interesting.  But who in 1966 imagined that Doctor Who was one big story, that seems to have some sort of omnipotent script editor making the work of many hands continue to read like a single big idea?"

"Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis, that's who."

Music singles

"Today's blog is in part inspired by Philip Sandifer, whose erudite writings on Doctor Who have entertained me hugely in the last couple of years.  Philip always mentions, at the start of his blog entries about the series, what the UK number one single was when the episode was first screened.  He comes over as having a lot of time for the magic of coincidences, so I thought I'd honour him with a Situationist walk through Who history that will hopefully also be fun.  Namely, which number one singles seem to offer comment on Doctor Who episodes that played during their time at the top?  And what can it all mean?"

"When Doctor Who began, on November 23rd, 1963 (the fan it me made me write that out in full, just try saying 'curate's egg' to a room full of Who fans without someone having to reply with 'good in parts'), Gerry and the Pacemakers were at number one with 'You'll Never Walk Alone', which offers scant hope for the hypothesis that the charts and the series comment on one other.  The Doctor often walks alone, Colin Baker having just about said that in dialogue.  The Searchers, with 'Needles and Pins' arrive at the top five weeks too late to comment on Ian being shot by the Daleks.  It's possible that Marinus is, as Peter and Gordon would have it, 'A World Without Love', but we see no proof of that."

"During 'The Web Planet' we might wonder if The Kinks' 'Tired of Waiting for You' could refer to William Russell and William Hartnell's dialogue exchanges, and I love the idea of Tom Jones singing 'It's Not Unusual' in the homes of Britain during the penultimate episode of that story.  Because it really is.  'The Chase' offers us 'Where are you Now?' from Jackie Trent at the start and 'I'm Alive' by the Hollies at the end.  The Rolling Stones and the Walker Brothers offer commentary on 'Galaxy Four' with 'I Can't Get no Satisfaction' and 'Make it Easy on Yourself'.  And as the Spencer Davis group said, 'The Daleks' Masterplan' did indeed 'Keep on Running'."

"But here's our first real indication that something's going on here.  Are we really expected to believe it's a coincidence that during the run of 'The Ark' the Walker Brothers got to number one with 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore'?"

"I'd hesitate to refer to 'The Faceless Ones' as 'Something Stupid' as Nancy Sinatra does.  And I suppose that, relatively speaking, Zoe in 'The Wheel in Space' is a 'Young Girl' as Gary Puckett has it.  'The Dominators' brings more fertile ground, the plot indeed covering 'Fire' and 'I've Gotta Get a Message to You', though I'd hesitate to agree with the command to 'Do It Again' (the respective artists being The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the Bee Gees and the Beach Boys).  The Doctor does indeed get by in 'The Invasion' 'With a Little Help from My Friends'.  The answer to Peter Sarstedt's question 'Where Do You Go to, my Lovely?' could well be 'anywhere on earth, utilising the power of the T-Mat'.  'The War Games' has both the Beatles' 'Get Back' and Tommy Roe's 'Dizzy' being highly appropriate for its last episode."

"'Spirit in the Sky' by Norman Greenbaum would probably be a great accompaniment to an 'Ambassadors of Death' fanvid, but I don't think it quite reflects the story itself.  Perhaps the Doctor would, as the New Seekers do, like to teach the world of Peladon to sing in perfect harmony.  Honestly, couldn't Jimmy Osmond have waited a couple more years to release 'Long Haired Lover from Liverpool'?  Hardly a dandy or a clown.  And I'd guess the production team probably did think of 'Carnival of Monsters' as a 'Blockbuster'.  'Frontier in Space' and 'Planet of the Daleks' were contemporaneous with two tracks that could almost be lines of dialogue from those stories, Sweet's 'Cum on Feel the Noize' and Gilbert O'Sullivan's 'Get Down'.  'You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me', by the New Seekers, could also be something Mike Yates might say to Operation Golden Age.  Wonderfully, 'Planet of the Spiders' was indeed the Third Doctor's 'Waterloo'."

"Telly Savalas' 'If' offers a nice counterpoint to 'Genesis of the Daleks': 'If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can't I paint you? But do I have the right?' Similarly, perhaps Rod Stewart's 'Sailing', suitably Scottish, should say something about going down the Thames to disrupt the world energy conference. Bowie's 'Space Oddity' is at number one only during 'Pyramids of Mars', the one story in that season it's not very apt for, though someone might say 'ground control to Major Tom' while watching that last episode. But, wonderfully, 'The Brain of Morbius' is entirely served by Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. That's such an obvious set of lyrics for a matching video that I'm sure someone will tell me it's been done. After all that, it's a crying shame that Chicago's 'If you Leave me Now' misses the end of 'The Hand of Fear'. And merely a day stops us from attaching David Soul's 'Silver Lady' to 'Image of the Fendahl'!  The Doctor is indeed asking the Time Lords to 'Take a Chance on Me' as President in 'The Invasion of Time', and, since we don't know how many incarnations she's used up, we might just be able to refer to the first Romana as 'Three Times a Lady'.  Tom was later to discover, as his near-namesake Doctor Hook did, during 'The Creature from the Pit' that 'When you're in Love with a Beautiful Woman'... it's hard.  'The Leisure Hive' is indeed the 'Start!' of the reign of a new producer, and, while having no thematic connection to 'Ashes to Ashes', that video could have been filmed on the same beach, with almost the same sensibility (and a little while later, 'Imagine' and 'Warrior's Gate' share the same white void.  Most people would tell 'Meglos' 'Don't Stand so Close to Me', and the Master is indeed a 'Jealous Guy' who wants to tell the Doctor to 'Shaddap You Face'."

"'Castrovalva' might indeed have the Doctor asking 'Don't You Want Me', but it's a crime that it misses 'The Land of Make Believe' by four days.  It's nothing to do with the story, but it's an equally weird synchronicity that 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' by Tight Fit was at number one during one Cyberman story ('Earthshock') and later featured in another ('The Age of Steel').  One day separates Paul McCartney's 'Pipes of Peace' from the thematically apt 'Warriors of the Deep'.  I'd like you to take a moment to imagine Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Relax' playing all the way through 'Frontios', 'Resurrection of the Daleks' and 'Planet of Fire'.  It isn't hard to do."

"Lionel Ritchie's 'Hello' aptly greets Colin Baker, and 'The Two Doctors' is similarly met with 'I Know Him So Well'. After the eighteen month hiatus, 'Don't Leave Me This Way' for 'The Mysterious Planet' continues this very meta tracking of production issues, and 'The Final Countdown' arrives, brilliantly, on the day of the last episode of 'The Ultimate Foe'."

"'One Moment in Time' by Whitney Houston sums up the crowded location of 'Remembrance of the Daleks', and can we stretch a point to let the Doctor and Ace 'Ride on Time' to attend the events of 'Ghost Light'?"

"The reference to 'thirty years of hurt' in 'Three Lions' oh so nearly fits brilliantly with the TV Movie.  But not quite. Which sums up the rather teasing nature of this music/TV relationship."

"With the modern series, because stories only happen on one date, the hit rate goes down.  'Lonely' by Akon comments on 'Father's Day', I guess. 'Love and Monsters' is apt for Nelly Furtado's 'Maneater'.  Considering they're his favourite band, it was good to mark the start of David Tennant's second season with the charity release of the Proclaimers' 'I'm Gonna Be'.  I'm not sure that Dalek Sec, even in his humanoid form, could really be called a 'Beautiful Liar'.  'The End of Time' resonates with 'Killing in the Name Of'. And for the only time, a Doctor Who guest star gets to number one in the week of their episode airing, as James Corden appears in 'The Lodger' the day before the single he features on, 'Shout', makes it to the top. Good weekend for him.  Example's 'Stay Awake' goes to number one the day after 'Night Terrors', and the Military Wives' single. 'Wherever You Are', comments wonderfully on 'The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe', and one might say Ne-Yo's 'Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)' is equally apt for 'A Town Called Mercy'."

"You may well want to add some of your own, because I'm sure you'll have noticed connections that I haven't.  There's a nicely absurd feeling to this list, even so. It's like it exists only to be some day noticed, like a hidden thread of jokes through the world.  Of course, some of that is down to the existence of a billion entirely logical relationships between the best selling record in the UK and Doctor Who production, both being the product of pop culture, both interacting with the zeitgeist.  But then again, chaotic and bubbly interactions are where emergent behaviours indistinguishable from magic tend to pop into existence."

Misc: "It was remiss of me in a somewhat smaller way to not mention a podcast which is, in many ways, my absolute favourite, Doctor Who: The Writers' Room. Also, I should have noted that that wasn't a complete list of every podcast I enjoy, just the few I thought of when I was typing that sentence."

"The panel about Doctor Who books that I was on this spring at Sci Fi London, with Jenny Colgan, Terrance Dicks, Tommy Donbavand and Marc Platt is now available as a podcast."

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