Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Ninth life

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2004-04-29 Times p25.jpg

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The new Dr Who should not exterminate his ratings

Popular culture over the years has been littered with television doctors. For some it is Dr Finlay, others Dr Doolittle, but for many more it is Dr Who. Christopher Eccleston, who is to revive this role, has, as we report today, strong opinions on how to portray the good doctor. He wants to reflect a "darker, more dangerous" world and to explore the "melancholy side" of someone whom he considers to be an "idealistic humane alien" but also "quite sad". He is worried that "we never see him in his domestic life, with his feet up". Dr Who, according to Eccleston, will be rebranded as a humanitarian interventionist (a sort of Tony Blair with friends) and will be assisted in his quest to promote universal peace by an aide, Rose Tyler, with whom he will enjoy flirtatious banter.

Now, to be fair, Eccleston is new to this regeneration business and it must be a change from Grand Prix racing. But he does seem a little weak on the history of his character. We may live in harsh times, but the Doctor has seen an awful lot worse, especially dealing with the Cybermen who, among other crimes, sparked the boom in shoulder pads during the 1980s. Furthermore, this Time Lord has long been a liberal interventionist. It is no coincidence that Who also stands for World Health Organisation. And what Eccleston dismisses as "spooky escapism" is surely the whole point of this programme.

Some of his other ideas, however, sound more appealing. Many viewers must have wondered secretly whether the fabled Tardis contains a cosy television room, a conservatory or, perhaps, a small back garden in which the Doctor can put his feet up. It would be only fair to permit him to have an assistant who can engage in subtly sexually-charged conversation, as he certainly never got that from his metallic dog K9, let alone Bonnie Langford. His promise not to wear "big scarves" in the manner of Tom Baker is especially welcome. He should jettison any idea of reviving jellybabies while he is at it. Where Eccleston really needs to get his act together, though, is on the question of enemies. The next Dr Who has expressed a personal sympathy with the Daleks on the basis that they are actually "very vulnerable, strange, frightened creatures". Although it is true that a race bent on intergalactic domination despite being incapable of climbing stairs might well require counselling, this is not the Doctor's function. Eccleston should stick with being what Dr Who really is, namely an eccentric Englishman abroad, and not Kofi Annan with gizmos and gadgets. The Doctor is already, after a lengthy absence from television screens, on his ninth life. He is unlikely to acquire a tenth if, no matter how sincere his motives, he exterminates his ratings.

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  • APA 6th ed.: (2004-04-29). Ninth life. The Times p. 25.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Ninth life." The Times [add city] 2004-04-29, 25. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Ninth life." The Times, edition, sec., 2004-04-29
  • Turabian: "Ninth life." The Times, 2004-04-29, section, 25 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Ninth life | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Ninth_life | work=The Times | pages=25 | date=2004-04-29 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 June 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Ninth life | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Ninth_life | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 June 2024}}</ref>