Doctor Who isn’t just about scary monsters. Sometimes it is the concepts which have adults jostling up next to their offspring behind the sofa. The BBC has just revealed a new villainess for the new Doctor to do battle with in Series 8. Actress Keeley Hawes, famed for her leading role in “Ashes to Ashes”, will be playing a new female foe, Ms Delphox. She is a banker.
Once a respected figure, the very mention of this profession would conjure up an idea of a dignified member of the local gentry, someone you considered your neigbour or even friend, someone who would do his or her utmost to help you out and see you right with your financial affairs. Someone you liked. Someone you trusted. Someone along the lines of Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier from comedy classIc “Dad’s Army”. A world apart from the bankers of today, grey suits on the payroll of some huge multinational with an inexplicable name or just as incomprehensible acronym. Bankers take money from our accounts, carpet-bomb us with advertisements and drown us with page after page of small print. They hold our governments to ransom and filter off money to their own accounts in scandal after scandal. Just look at recent cinema release “The Wolf of Wall Street” – a stomach-churning display of depravity and debauchery. Bankers. What better modern-day foe for the Great Moff et al. to pit the Doctor against?
Episode 5 of Season 8 won’t be the first time that the show has broached adult fears. The Daleks themselves personified both fascism and racism, when the Second World War and the Nazi threat were still fresh in the adult populace’s collective memory. Skaro’s barren and petrified surface reminded them of a new threat, the sword of Damocles hanging over 1960s society, nuclear war. The Cybermen, on the other hand, represented our fear of scientific advancement. As medical science progressed, we started to have organs replaced and all kinds of hi-tech wonders and wizardry placed inside our bodies. There was a very real fear that we would turn into robots ourselves.
The Seventies witnessed the advance of the environmental movement as we began to realise that humanity was irrevocably damaging the Earth. The 1973 adventure “The Green Death” revolved around this fear. A few years later came economic recession and in 1977 writer Robert Holmes touched upon the delicate and controversial theme of excessive taxation in “The Sunmakers”. “Perhaps everyone runs from the taxman!” surmises Leela. This story would have rung true with any viewers in the grip of financial hardship. Finally in 1989’s “Survival”, the last Classic Who to air, we bear witness to the ravages of “Thatcher’s Britain”. Home to pure self-interest and survival of the fittest, society had fallen apart. We saw graffiti-daubed walls, smashed windows, anonymous housing estates and soulless apartment blocks. Youths trained in self-defence to protect themselves from a dark and terrifying world, with dangers lurking around every corner. This is what scared and still scares adults today.
Which brings us Adric-style (apologies, full circle) right back to where we started from. Who rules this brave new world? Bankers. Ms Delphox with her perfect hair and snazzy outfit personifies the common perception of a “banker”. Yet she strikes me as something of a cartoonesque character. Cut from the same cloth as Cruella DeVille. Something tells me that Steve Thompson’s story will be a frothy, colourful, child-friendly affair. Admittedly my Whovian imagination is running riot. In my mind’s eye, I visualise Keeley Hawes in world akin to that of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. I see her as a sexier, sultrier “Helen A” in modern day, spruced up version of “The Happiness Patrol”. My Metebelis spider-sense is tingling and I predict a “marmite” episode, another “Love and Monsters” in the making. I have no facts. No proof. Just a feeling. Steve Thompson’s previous episodes have met with no small amount of criticism from some quarters in the past but undoubtedly kids loved those adventures on board a pirate ship and then in the deepest depths of the Tardis.
Doctor Who is escapism. The bullied kid or spotty teenager can forget their woes by throwing themselves into the world of the Doctor. An adult can do the same. All worries can be placed to one side, be they financial or otherwise. Come autumn, the Doctor will quite assuredly defeat Ms Delphox. In real life the banker may get off scot free, but in our show she will receive her comeuppance. Who knows if being put on a par with Daleks and Cybermen might shame bankers into mending their ways? We can but dream.
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