Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Who's best

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1974-05-26 Observer.jpg


IT IS, I suppose, beyond dispute that Doctor Who (BBC1) is the best thing that has ever been done on television, and now that the programme is 10 years old and that the current incumbent in the title role is about to be recycled, it seems only appropriate to pay tribute to its colossal achievement.

For 10 years it has been as much a part of Saturday afternoons in winter as tea and crumpets. Ten years of aliens attacking Earth at Covent Garden, Mornington Crescent or one of the other London Underground stations that are out of use and free for filming - on Sundays; 10 years of travel through time and space to galaxies past and future whose inhabitants hominoid or otherwise, speak faultless English. (apart from some funny accents and intonations); 10 years of the Doctor -battling against interplanetary power maniacs and upholding decent liberal values throughout the universe; 10 years of monsters and chases and, screaming girls,

There have been changes in that time, of course. Whereas nowadays, the screaming girls wear trouser-suits, in the sixties they used to sport miniskirts, and the plot consequently involved them in climbing up ladders or being taken off by helicopter, the camera staying behind and gazing admiringly upwards (just so no one should feel left out, there "was also in those days a young Scotsman in a kilt who was subjected to the same treatment).

There have been changes in the Doctor, too. The first one, William Hartnell, and the present man, Jon Pertwee, have both been very , good, but my allegiance remains with Patrick Troughton, who played the Doctor. from 1966 to 1969, He had not only a most sympathetic clowning dottiness but also was able when necessary to suggest convincingly that he was the possessor of a superhuman intellect—something which the more athletic. Jon Pertwee has never quite managed.

But what has above all distinguished the programme is not the Doctor or the Brigadier or the Tardis or the music or even the screaming girls but - -the Daleks. Like Captain Grimes they are among the immortals; the only products of television that have passed straight into mythology (with the possible exception of Robert Dougall).

The Daleks can hold their own with Billy 'Bunter, Jeeves, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes and Superman among the creations of prose-fiction and comic strips that, like. Frankenstein's monster, have grown out of their creator's control. There are now 132 Dalek products, from jelly-babies to wallpaper, as well as an entire generation of humans for whom the word ex-ter-mi-nated will always be chopped up into those five exactly equal syllables. Like Conan Doyle with Holmes, Terry Nation got fed up with the Daleks and tried to bump them off. lie was 'just as unsuccessful. Public demand insisted on their coming back, and although he had annihilated them-extremely thoroughly their return was made possible by the Tardis, which merely took us back to an era before they were rubbed but.

The present Doctor Who story is one of the best, even though the Daleks are not in it. Instead there are some very nasty spiders which are going to take over unless the Doctor proves even more resourceful than usual. He will do so, of course, but he is himself going to be ex-ter-mi-nat-ed in the process, and Pertwee will be metamosphosed into Doctor No. 4. His imminent demise will be essential viewing.

If there's anything more enjoyable than playing snooker it's watching the game on Pot Black (BBC2), which ranks second only to 'Doctor Who' among television's gifts to mankind. 'Pox Black' is the nearest thing to a ritual- that our secular, culture has to offer. As in all rituals the conclusion is always the same, and the approach. to it. is made with hushed voices and in ceremonial clothes—waistcoats and bow-ties and the white gloves of referee Sydney Lee (speaking of white gloves have you noticed that Mickey gloves, not only wears them but has on each hand a thumb and three fingers?).

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  • APA 6th ed.: Boston, Richard (1974-05-26). Who's best. The Observer p. 30.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Boston, Richard. "Who's best." The Observer [add city] 1974-05-26, 30. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Boston, Richard. "Who's best." The Observer, edition, sec., 1974-05-26
  • Turabian: Boston, Richard. "Who's best." The Observer, 1974-05-26, section, 30 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Who's best | url= | work=The Observer | pages=30 | date=1974-05-26 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 May 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Who's best | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 May 2024}}</ref>