Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Daleks and dad issues dog Whittaker's lonely Doctor

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2019-01-05 Guardian.jpg



Doctor Who: Resolution



Having upset some traditionalists by skipping a Christmas Day special in favour of a New Year's Day spectacular, Doctor Who's show-runner Chris Chibnall compensated by bringing back the show's most famous enemy.

The episode was a Dalek origin story, although a two-minute prologue seemed designed to attract the Game of Thrones fanbase, too. Hairy blokes in coats that looked recently ripped from goats stood around wood fires on war-torn land. A growly voiceover explained that the ancient Britons had fought an enemy so terrible that his conquered corpse had been sliced in three, and the portions stored around the world, starting at a Pacific island and a Siberian freezescape.

I made a mental bet that the rest of the super-warrior would be found under Sheffield, which turned out to be the case. After only 11 episodes in charge, Chibnall is already growing his own in-jokes. As well as audibly coming from Yorkshire, Jodie Whittaker's Doctor is returned there at every possibility. So the squid-like innards of a Dalek were inevitably dug up by archaeologists in the S1 postcode.

As well as making the series more Earthbound, especially around the West Riding, another mark of Chibnall's tenancy has been topical commentary. The first season has been explicitly pro-ecology, anti-Trump and implicitly anti-Brexit.

So liberal-friendly has the show been, it was a surprise in this special that the Dalekian inner jelly didn't turn out to be called Jacob Rees-Blob. There was however one pointed political reference. When the Doctor tried to call on the cross-border Unified Intelligence Taskforce to help save Sheffield from extermination, she learned that Britain was no longer a member after falling out with her "major international partners". The final scoreline was: United Sheffield 1, Daleks 0.

Another Chibnall signature was entwining the extraterrestrial with the domestic. The absence of Bradley Walsh's doctorial sidekick Graham from one key Tardis mission was so odd that you initially assumed a filming clash with The Chase, but the character had been grounded to discuss responsible parenting with guest actor Daniel Adegboyega, as the absentee dad of sidekick Ryan (Tosin Cole).

Having shown in Broadchurch an exceptional skill at writing family dynamics, Chibnall now extends this exploration into the broadest church of all - the universe. The show ended with a parent-child hug.

That interaction poignantly wasn't open to the main character, in a performance that gave us a bonus extra day of some of the best TV acting of 2018. Between intermittent radiant smiles and sharp one-liners, Whittaker's dominant note in the role is a sense of lonely responsibility. Preparing to face down the Daleks again, she is warned, "You can't do it alone!", but shrugs: "Always have done:" When an Earthling notes that dads are complicated, the Doctor ruefully replies: "So I'm told."

This Doctor feels like the world leader we want for these times. Sadly, she won't be on screen again until 2020: the producers want to make the next episodes slowly.

What others said

"As a cheesy reminder of what we love about Doctor Who - an intergalactic eccentric in an overcoat shouting at Daleks - this more than delivers." Ed Power

"Jodie Whittaker is a charismatic force who can sign off knowing she has stamped her personality on the role." Carol Midgley The Times

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  • APA 6th ed.: Lawson, Mark (2019-01-05). Daleks and dad issues dog Whittaker's lonely Doctor. The Guardian .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Lawson, Mark. "Daleks and dad issues dog Whittaker's lonely Doctor." The Guardian [add city] 2019-01-05. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Lawson, Mark. "Daleks and dad issues dog Whittaker's lonely Doctor." The Guardian, edition, sec., 2019-01-05
  • Turabian: Lawson, Mark. "Daleks and dad issues dog Whittaker's lonely Doctor." The Guardian, 2019-01-05, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Daleks and dad issues dog Whittaker's lonely Doctor | url= | work=The Guardian | pages= | date=2019-01-05 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 May 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Daleks and dad issues dog Whittaker's lonely Doctor | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 May 2024}}</ref>