Listening to my Whovian Fears

“Fear is like a companion. A constant companion always there” – Clara Oswald


I’m listening. Is anything there? Silence. I’ll just nab Harry Sullivan’s stethoscope and listen to my Whovian heartbeat. Are my fan fears making my single ticker go boom, boom, boom – as noisily as Ace’s nitro nine? Let’s try again.

I hear something. Yes, it’s my first fear. 4.8 million in the overnights? A bit too close to the Seventh Doctor’s shockingly low ratings at the end of the Eighties? Perhaps, but it’s not quite so simple. Nowadays we’ve got the iPlayer, repeats, catchups, final ratings, perhaps not unlimited rice pudding, but a huge international audience to reassure us. 

But, hang on – the audience appreciation figure was only 82. Perhaps the average viewer is taking a little too long to warm to the all-new Capaldoctor? Is his new persona still too grey and grumpy? Although he does seem to be mellowing a little and indeed displays the occasional moment of wit and charm (putting Rupert to sleep with his finger or awkwardly refusing Clara’s hugs) I’d like to see this Doctor smile more – a Twelfth with more twinkle, please.

On occasions, the Doctor’s unintentional rudeness reminds me of Strax. Did Twelve, perhaps, pick up some character traits from our gruff Sontaran? After all, Eleven did spend quite a lot of time with ‘the potato one’. 

Is ‘Listen’ actually a good episode? Well, the general consensus seems to be that it is a classic. I can only agree. The more I watch ‘Listen’, the more I realise how skillfully structured and crafted it was. 

The Great Moff should do more of these “non-event”, low budget episodes and force himself to rely on his own skills and expertise as a scribe. After all, look at ‘Blink’ – that didn’t go down too badly, did it?

‘Listen’ pulled the rug from under the fans – for the first time in it’s long fifty years, the show has introduced us to the Doctor as a child. How could an episode boasting such an exciting concept ever fail? The idea was mind-blowing. ‘Barnstorming’ even!

My next fear – the dreaded “Capaldiction”. I love the fact that Capaldi has been allowed to use his own accent and be himself. The actor has been granted the necessary time to ‘let the Doctor come to him’. But this Doctor speaks so quickly that at times you do lose a line or two – quite frustrating, if you miss an important plot point or a joke. 

In my last post I wrote that I couldn’t watch last Saturday’s episode live, as I was attending a birthday party. This time my fear was that I would not be able to tootle off and watch Who. Let’s coin a phrase. ‘To whootle off’ – ‘to leave one’s present company in order to watch an episode of Doctor Who’. We’ve all been there. 

I was lucky. Whilst the others chatted and mingled, I ‘whootled off’ discreetly into the other building. Let me explain. The main party itself was held a farmhouse, but the accommodation and, more importantly, the TV were not. They were in another farm building. So all alone and in the darkest of rooms, I watched the episode. And it scared me. In fact I was so spooked that just as the final credits were rolling, some partygoers, all of a sudden, knocked on the door and I jumped up from the sofa in fright.

But that dark TV room was not quite as it first seemed. It slowly dawned on me. I was in a converted farm building. Yes, in its original incarnation, it had been something quite different. It had been… coincidence of coincidences… yes, you’ve guessed it… a barn! I smiled at my realisation. In this regenerated modern building, however, there wasn’t the slightest sign of livestock, stored crops or even a diminutive Doctor in distress. Or should we call him something else now? Is Moffat hinting at the Doctor’s real name? Barney!

I returned to the main farmhouse and joined the throng. I did a little bit more ‘listening’, but this time it wasn’t so much ‘diddly dum, diddly dum’ but more ‘Duran Duran, Duran Duran’. And so, as Simon Le Bon sang ‘A View to a Kill’ and we ‘danced into the fire’, I remembered the pop video filmed on the Eiffel Tower. Then, inevitably, I thought of Tom and Lalla in Paris, the ‘City of Death’. 

I looked around the room. It was bursting with revellers. In the corner I spotted an old grandfather clock and, of course, I was reminded of the Master’s Tardis. 

A friend and I were chatting on the sofa about where his parents had been on holiday. Penrith? Hadn’t Paul McGann’s “Withnail and I” been set there? 

So, in conclusion, maybe Clara was wrong. If we listen to our own inner feelings, we discover that our constant companion is not fear…

It is the Doctor. 



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