The Ace of Spades

This week Whovian Leap “digs” deep into the Doctor’s past.

The subject of digging is normally limited to gardeners and archaeologists, but this week the sight of the Twelfth Doctor brandishing a spade and marching purposefully ahead of a band of peasants has aroused interest in the matter among fans themselves. What on earth (or rather under) are this unlikely bunch of shovelers going to dig up?

It won’t be the first time we have seen digging in Doctor Who. Digging for glowing meteorites in “Spearhead from Space”. Digging for snow-covered seedpods in “The Seeds of Doom”. Archaeological  digs in “The Daemons” and “Battlefield”. “It’s trying to dig us out!” cries the Brigadier to the Second Doctor in “The Five Doctors” when they are trapped by a Yeti in an underground cavern. 

Strax offers to dig trenches and fill them with acid in “The Crimson Horror”. The First Doctor visits the Inferno nightclub in the “modern-day” Sixties. Kitty tells him that they don’t get many over twenties in the club but she “digs” his fab gear!

For fear of digging myself into a hole, maybe we should focus on the spades themselves? In “The Reign of Terror” the First Doctor is forced to join a road crew. In order to escape, he steals some coins from the slave-driving leader of the crew. The Doctor tosses the coins into the ground and then pretends to find them. The leader decides to dig for more of these coins himself. As he digs, the Doctor cries “Catch his spade!” and the workers grapple with the bully. He pushes them off and continues digging. The Doctor then takes another spade from a worker, who looks away squeamishly, predicting the Doctor’s violent plan. He grimaces, as the Doctor proceeds to clobber the leader with obvious relish. 

The Second Doctor fancies a dip in the sea at the beginning of “The Enemy of the World”. He calls out to Jamie and Victoria to find a bucket and spade in the Tardis. Jamie is somewhat bemused. 

We go back to the beach in “The Trial of a Time Lord” as the Sixth Doctor forcefully explains to Glitz that the Matrix is nothing but an illusion.

The Tenth Doctor is chatting to Lady Christina de Souza in “Planet of the Dead”. The Doctor suggests she leave her backpack behind. She replies, “Where it goes, I go!” The Doctor questions her motives and queries her backpack’s contents…

Leaving the best until last, it’s Ten again, in “Love and Monsters”. The Doctor realises that he can actually rescue Elton’s girlfriend from the pavement after all. Ten shouts to Elton to…

Have we forgotten someone? Someone who would be more than happy to help the Twelfth with any spadework? Maybe the last word should go to Brian, Rory’s dad, whose diminutive digging implement is a little too dimensionally-challenged to make our list of spades, but nevertheless worthy of mention. In “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” Brian tells Rory something that the tooled-up Twelfth surely wouldn’t disagree with…


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