Neil Gaiman, Idris and the Doctor

I predicted Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who script 5 years ahead

Well, part of it anyway… Going through some old computer files, I found an outline I wrote back in 2006 for what I’d like to see in the next series of Doctor Who. It’s quite fun seeing how many of my wishes have been granted on the show, such as:

  • The Master as the main villain of series 3
  • Killer snowmen in the Christmas special
  • A swashbuckling pirate episode
  • A romance between the companions (rather than with the Doctor and his companion)
  • Time-travelling love interest for the Doctor

All of them fairly obvious ideas, so it’s not surprising that they should turn up sooner or later. But there was one where I came particularly close…

Five years before The Doctor’s Wife aired, I had on my wishlist an episode titled Ship of Fear by Neil Gaiman:

As the Doctor’s new friends explore his TARDIS with him, they disturb an old evil that has lain dormant in its depths – an old enemy of the Doctor’s, who lies there, disembodied and in search of a new body.

The ship becomes a place of mystery and illusion, full of strange and twisting dimensions as a he seeks to get inside their minds, turn them against each other, and steal the Doctor’s body.

The Doctor, Grace and Nicholas must travel deep into the heart of the TARDIS to defeat the evil.

Which resembles Amy and Rory’s half of the story in Neil Gaiman’s The Doctor’s Wife quite closely! No Idris or human TARDIS, but I still felt a timey-wimey shiver when I discovered this.

There are some items on that old wishlist that are a bit too rooted in the dark depths of Doctor Who spin-offs and aren’t ever going to happen, such as Paul Cornell loosely adapting Lawrence Miles’ Doctor Who novel Interference into a two-parter! My idea was to take the elements in which the Doctor comes up against the real-world evil of the arms trade, and have his companion chooses to leave to fight for justice on Earth, having completed her “apprenticeship” with the Doctor as a social justice warrior.

That script will never happen (fortunately), but I would like to see Doctor Who on TV re-emphasise that the Doctor fights against injustice, not just against monsters and aliens. That moral core is still there in the background, but somewhat neglected compared to, say, Christopher Eccleston’s run as the Doctor.

I love Rose Tyler’s speech about travelling with the Doctor in The Parting of the Ways as an example of this:

It was a better life. And I don’t mean all the travelling and seeing aliens and spaceships and things. That don’t matter. The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life. You know he showed you too. That you don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand. You say no. You have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away

Doctor Who is at its best when it isn’t pure escapism, but through exciting stories fighting evil throughout time and space, helps prepare us to stand for justice in the here and now.

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