GHOST LIGHT

Part One

Ghost LightIn a Victorian house, Mrs Pritchard is serving dinner with a copy of The Times.

Sue: This has a new series feel to it. It’s scary and a bit weird.

Weird it may be, but Gabriel Chase does have its advantages.

Sue: Look at all that lovely panelling. Where did they film this?
Me: Television Centre.
Sue: No way! Are you sure?

The TARDIS materialises in the attic. Sue criticises the Doctor for parking his TARDIS with its door facing a wall, a split second before Ace can do the same.

Sue: Ace is looking very feminine this week. And they must have been somewhere warm recently because she’s got a tan.

Ghost LightGabriel Chase is full of stuffed animals.

Sue: I bet the monsters turn out to be the stuffed animals and the Doctor is attacked by an emu. Am I right?

The Doctor and Ace stumble across an insane big game hunter. The Doctor uses a device to measure how radioactive the poor fellow is.

Redvers: Damn tsetse flies.

I laugh out loud at this. Obviously.

Sue: I don’t get that.

Oh dear. If she doesn’t get that, Ghost Light doesn’t stand a chance.

Down in the cellar, a Neanderthal named Nimrod is checking on a strange creature in a cell.

Sue: I’m confused.
Me: Really?
Ghost LightSue: What’s Gollum doing in the basement? And who’s he? And him? What is going on? Is this supposed to make sense?
Me: Just go with it, love.
Sue: I’ll concentrate on the set design. It’s gorgeous. Are you sure this wasn’t filmed in a real house?

The Doctor and Ace meet Reverend Matthews in the drawing room.

Sue: It’s the Victorian Noddy Holder.

Josiah Smith arrives. Josiah is so cool, he wears sunglasses at night.

Sue: They are Victorian rock stars. That’s it, isn’t it? That’s why they don’t get on. He’s David Bowie and he’s Noddy Holder.

When all hell breaks loose upstairs, Mrs Pritchard has to drag Ace away by her hair.

Sue: Ooh, what a bitch! She’s like that nasty housekeeper from Downton Abbey. Only worse.

Sue notices that Mrs Pritchard is played by a famous actress. When I mention Sylvia Sims, she tells me that the name rings a bell. A very tiny bell. A very tiny bell that’s been muted.

Ghost LightSue: I haven’t got the faintest idea what’s going on, but I want to find out. It’s very intriguing and it’s very atmospheric. And wood. There’s lots and lots of wood.

When she’s not staring at the wood, she’s chuckling at the script. Sadly, this means that this particular blog entry has been a nightmare. It also demonstrates why we won’t be blogging the new series any time soon. For example:

Josiah: I hope you have a taste for calves’ brains, Doctor.
Sue: That was a good line.
Matthews: Infernal telephonic machines
Sue: That was very funny.
The Doctor: I know a nice little restaurant in the Khyber Pass.
Sue: Ha! Brilliant.

See?

Ghost LightAce isn’t thrilled when she learns that Gabriel Chase is in Perivale.

Sue: So what? Perivale can’t be that bad, can it? It isn’t Croydon for a start.

The Doctor has taken Ace back to a haunted house which she visited in her youth.

Sue: Hang on a minute… Should the Doctor really be doing this?

The Doctor tells us that we all have a universe of our own terrors to face.

Sue: That was definitely their best scene together. I’m watching a proper drama again. This isn’t kid’s TV any more. And Ace looks good in a tux.

Ace makes a run for it.

Sue: Why doesn’t Ace run back to the TARDIS and lock herself in? Why is she taking a lift down to the cellar? Why would she do that? Having said that, this is bloody good. It’s exciting.

Ace finds herself in a stone spaceship, where she is soon threatened by a menagerie of monsters dressed in dinner suits.

Ghost LightSue: Ace won’t scream. She definitely won’t scream. Not Ace. She won’t.

Cue credits.

Sue: Told you.

And then Sue sighed. Very deeply.

Sue: I haven’t got a clue what that was about but I really enjoyed it. The script is very funny, the acting is very good, the direction is great, the lighting is perfect and the sets are wonderful. If they are sets. In fact, it was all going so well until those daft monsters turned up.
Me: You haven’t mentioned the music yet.

Incidentally, we are watching the 5.1 mix of Ghost Light. This has two benefits: 1) Sue loves 5.1 surround sound mixes and 2) You can actually hear the dialogue.

Sue: Well, it’s not Keff, that’s for sure. Otherwise I’d have noticed it. Is it Mark?
Me: It is.
Sue: Good. I really enjoyed the song.

 

Part Two

Sue: Do you know what’s really strange? I don’t mind Sylvester winking at me any more. I still can’t stand this version of the theme music, though.

Ghost LightNimrod keeps the monstrous husks at bay with a lantern.

Sue: Okay, this is getting a bit weird now.

The creature known as Control is freaking out.

Control: Stop ratkin!
Sue: I can’t understand a word that thing is saying. Is it important?
Me: Not even Mark Ayres can mix this dialogue so it makes sense.
Sue: This is what happens when you don’t carry any Nitro with you. There must be room in your DJ for one can, surely?

When the Doctor and Josiah arrive in the cellar, Josiah suddenly gains the upper hand.

Josiah: You’re so smug and self-satisfied, Doctor.
Sue: Is it the Master?

I pause the DVD.

Ghost LightMe: Seriously? Is that the best you’ve got? We’re ten minutes into Part Two and you’ve hardly said a word.
Sue: That’s because I’m really enjoying it. Having said that, if I wasn’t enjoying it, I wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgeways. It’s moving very fast.

It’s true. Unless I stop the DVD after every single line of dialogue, getting anything coherent out of Sue is practically impossible. For example, I’m looking at the notes I made for this episode, but I can’t for the life of me work out what’s she’s actually referring to at this point. It could be anything. Sorry.

Sue: I’m really confused now.
Sue: What does that mean?
Sue: Eh?
Sue: Okay, this is ****ing mad.
Sue: That is very funny but WHAT THE ****?

Ah, that’s definitely her reaction to Reverend Matthews turning into an ape.

Ghost LightSue: I’m completely lost but I’ve decided to go with it. I can’t fault the performances or the direction, and even if it doesn’t make any sense at this point, it’s very entertaining. I want to find out what it’s all about.

A little later, after Detective Mackenzie is found asleep in a drawer, Sue thinks she has it all figured out. I pause the DVD so she can explain it to me:

Sue: Right, I’ve got it. It’s just like that Bruce Willis movie.
Me: What, Die Hard?
Sue: No, the one where the boy sees dead people all the time and…

If you haven’t seen The Sixth Sense, a) well done you and b) you might want to skim the next couple of lines.

Sue: …Bruce Willis is dead the whole time. That’s what’s happening here. They’re all dead, but they think they’re still alive. It’s like purgatory or something like that.
Me: Some people have described Ghost Light as purgatory, so you might be onto something.

Ace has changed in something more comfortable.

The Doctor: I like the dress.
Sue: It was nice of him to notice. Doctors don’t normally do that. They have a very special bond, these two.
Me: Yeah, it was very sweet of him to trick her into visiting the one place she never wanted to come back to. He’s lovely.
Sue: It’s like he’s testing her. You can definitely see Ace’s influence on Rose and Amy Pond. I’m used to this kind of companion.

Nimrod has a flashback.

Ghost LightNimrod: At the season when the ice floods swamp the pasture lands, we herded the mammoths sunwards to find new grazing.
Mackenzie: Tricky things, mammoths.
Sue: Great line.
The Doctor: It’s very, very old. Perhaps even older.
Sue: That’s a good line.
Ace: Where’s Nimrod?
The Doctor: Gone to see a man about a god.
Sue: What a great line.

See!

Gabriel Chase is infested with moths and creepy crawlies.

Sue: Okay, I’ve definitely got it, now. This isn’t a real house. It’s a time travelling zoo. They are travelling backwards in time and that’s why all the dead animals are coming back to life and that’s why the ghosts think they exist, when they don’t. It’s not that hard to work out when you put your mind to it.

Down in the cellar, Control is up to something.

Control: Light angry, burning angry, but not at poor Control. Control going showing Light way up. Then Control on way up too!

Sue: Actually, maybe I’m wrong. I can’t get my head around this at all.
Me: Stop guessing, then.
Sue: I hope this makes sense in the end. That’s all I’m saying.

When Ace and Inspector Mackenzie explore the attic, they find Mrs Pritchard and Gwendoline under some sheets.

Ace: They’re just toys. They’re just Josiah’s toys.
Sue: Oh… I get it. They’re robots.
Me: Stop guessing!

And then they find a display cabinet which contains a Homo Victorianus Ineptus.

Sue: Eh? But… but… why? Eh?

Another version of Josiah emerges from behind a screen.

Sue: EH?

The episode ends with Light in an elevator.

Sue: Okay, I give up. I’m lost. This doesn’t make sense. It’s bloody good, though.

 

Part Three

Ghost LightLet there be Light.

Sue: Oh look, it’s Kosh.

It’s amazing, isn’t it? Sue can remember episodes of Babylon 5 from 20 years ago, but she can’t remember episodes of Doctor Who from last week.

The Doctor: I wouldn’t want to confuse you.
Sue: Too late for that, mate.

Light wants to know what the hell is going on as well.

Sue: It’s Kosh meets Liberace. Look at him stretching his fingers. He can’t wait to play the piano again.

The Doctor disperses Light by gurning at it.

Ghost LightSue: I liked that. I really believed that the Doctor was in trouble there.

Sweet Jesus. I’m a McCoy fan and even I can’t watch that scene without the aid of a cushion.

Sue: This Light person must be very powerful. The Doctor looks worried. That’s not like him.

Control begins to involve into…

Sue: Is that Petula Clark?

And then Ace has a flashback to 1983. Yes, 1983. Not 1978 or 1977 or 1984. It’s 1983. Please, I beg you, this blog isn’t a forum for you to discuss your pet theories about UNIT dating, or even Heartbeat dating, which is ****ing niche, even for me. Okay? Thanks. Sorry. Where were we? Oh, yes, Ace is having a flashback to 1983.

Sue: Has someone dropped acid in her tea?

When normality is restored.

Sue: That was excellent. Proper drama for a change.
Me: It’s proper drama if you’ve just taken some LSD!

Control is moving up in the world.

Ghost LightSue: Oh, I know who she is now!
Me: A control in an experiment?
Sue: No, the woman from Lucky Jim, that drama about the card player.
Me: Lucky Break.

EDIT: I’m as bad as she is. The programme was called Big Deal. KILL ME NOW!

Sue: Yes. She played his wife. She’s very good.

And then Sue settles down for a bit. Until she learns that Josiah wants to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Sue: EH? Where the hell did that come from? Isn’t this confusing enough as it is? What the ****?

Light dismantles a maid show to see how she works.

Sue: Okay, so they’re not robots, then?

Sue gets to the root of the problem:

Sue: Who’s in charge? Which one is the bad guy? Is it Kosh, David Bowie or the Lucky Break woman? I can’t work it out and it’s driving me mad.

Control has evolved into a Victorian ladylike.

Sue: It’s My Fair Lady meets The Breakfast Club.

Ghost LightSue sits slack-jawed throughout dinner. Which is good, I guess. The next time she has anything to say is when Ace almost gets her head blown off five minutes later.

Sue: Shit! I really thought they’d killed Ace!

Nimrod, Control and Redvers depart for pastures new, along with their devolving mascot, Josiah. Sue doesn’t think the premise has enough legs to go to a series.

Light can’t handle the stress, so he disappears in a clap of thunder.

Sue: He was very good. I like the way he started off sounding like Tinkerbell but then he got angrier and angrier as it went on. I can’t criticise the acting at all.

The episode ends with the Doctor asking Ace if she has any regrets about burning down the house in 1983. Ace says she doesn’t even like Talking Heads. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Ghost LightAce: Yes. I wish I’d blown it up instead.
Sue: Great line.
The Doctor: Wicked.
Sue: Aww.

Cue credits.

Sue: That was ****ing mental. I’m sorry but I don’t know what else to say.

At least she said it with a smile.

Me: Any questions?
Sue: Well…
Me: On second thoughts, give it a score first. Then we can discuss the bits you don’t understand.
Sue: It would be quicker if we discussed the bits I do understand.

 

The Score

Sue: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but it should have been four parts. It was a bit rushed at the end and that’s probably why it doesn’t make any sense. However, I did get the general gist of it, and it really drew me in. The only fault was with the script – there was far too much going on – but it was very clever at the same time. Yes, it was an odd one. But I really, really liked it.

8/10

Sue: Is that too high?
Me: Not at all. It’s my favourite Doctor Who story. Probably. It’s definitely in my Top 3. There, I’ve said it.
Sue: You didn’t act like it was your favourite story.
Me: I didn’t want to influence you.
Sue: I can’t give it a 10. Sorry. I would if it made sense.
Me: That’s fine. I’m happy with the 8.
Sue: I’d like to watch it again. I bet it makes more sense the second time.

I reach for the remote.

Sue: Not now, you idiot. In about ten years time.

We compromise and watch the behind the scenes documentary on the DVD instead. Andrew Cartmel tries to explain the plot. And fails.

Sue: At the end of the day, I’m not that bothered. It’s like Lost – it doesn’t make any sense but I enjoyed the ride. Let’s just leave it at that.

 

Next Time

 

178

Comments

  1. Euan  March 24, 2013

    I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Ghost Light too. So great.

    Still have no idea what the hell it’s about, BUT STILL

    • John Miller  March 25, 2013

      First, this is not a “theory”. It has come from the production team themselves(although it’s clear certain people here believe they know better than the people who actually made the thing)

      If Ghostlight can be boiled down to its simplest message, it’s that things must evolve, and clinging to the way things were makes you a &%^$.

      Light is a highly intelligent, but arrogant, individual who makes lists of things, and gets pissed off when just as he’s finishing the list, everything changes(Ahem!). He also saves a Neanderthal but has no problem wiping out homo sapiens. Control starts out as a common underling, and ends up evolving into “ladylike”. Ace must realise that the problems in the past are just that…in the past. Even the good characters must turn to stone, as they exist in the past. The villain is a man who wears Victorian clothing and has long hair. And there’s the usual ignorant bit about how the Church condemned Darwin’s work. So basically, anyone who likes stuff as it was THEN, and clings to making lists, and outdated stuff about cavemen, butterflies, Victoriana etc. is a complete arse. The past belongs then, it is interesting certainly, the present could not exist without the past…but the future and continued evolution is “where it’s at”.

      • phuzz  March 25, 2013

        So a certain amount of taking the piss out of it’s own fans again then?

        • Thomas  March 25, 2013

          I doubt it, actually. A pisstake usually isn’t as cryptic.

    • Anonymous  March 25, 2013

      Try if you can to get hold of a copy of the published script of Ghost Light. It’s a wonderfully clever piece of writing, and some of the witty one-liners work even better than they did on-screen. Along with City of Death, Ghost Light is one of the most deliciously quotable stories of the classic era.

  2. StevieH  March 24, 2013

    No Sue it doesn’t make any more sense the second time, or the third, or any other subsequent time. Even my eight year old can’t make head or tail of it…

  3. Lewis Christian  March 24, 2013

    Brilliant! Now I’m just hoping the next two get 7 or above – let’s end on a high, like the McCoy years themselves.

    • Jane  March 25, 2013

      Let’s end high? But what about the children?

  4. Lewis Christian  March 24, 2013

    I wonder what Sue would make of Lungbarrow, had they made that… now there’s a thought.

  5. encyclops  March 24, 2013

    When I first saw this as a young teenager around the time it came out (I forget exactly how long it took us to get McCoy episodes in America — I think it was pretty promptly by that time), I really didn’t like it. It just didn’t work for me as a piece of drama, at all. It felt like the Doctor and Ace were just wandering around a house talking to people and things that acted threatening but only occasionally were, things which didn’t really talk back in any meaningful way because they were all hypnotized or mad or consumed with lust for power. Josiah’s plan seemed laughably small-minded when he finally revealed it, Control’s Pygmalionisms seemed embarrassingly on-the-nose, Ace’s memories seemed unconvincing and contrived. The less said about Light’s performance the better. The whole thing just struck me as pretentious bullshit of the first order and a perfect example of everything that annoyed me about the McCoy era.

    Nowadays I think an 8/10 is pretty fair. Oh, it’s still pretentious, and some of the performances are still a bit embarrassing, but I’ve read enough about it to get some idea of what it was trying to do, and I’ve read and seen enough modern theater to be able to cope with dialogue designed for intellectual rather than emotional effect. I can appreciate why it’s a bit of a critic’s dream, allusion after allusion after allusion strung together in a sort of literary parlor game, and even though I’m not sure a string of allusions forms an actual plot, I’m also not sure it matters. This is definitely the KIND of Doctor Who episode I want to see a lot more of, even if I can’t quite shake my first impressions and love this one wholeheartedly.

    And regardless of what I think (no one is here for that and I’m not sure why I keep wasting space writing it), I’m super glad Sue enjoyed it.

  6. Wopen Parthomew  March 24, 2013

    I didn’t get, “Damn tsetse flies” either I’m afraid.

    I remember when this first came out, my reaction was “Ahhhhh! This is more like it!” It finally felt like Doctor Who again; it didn’t make a lot of sense, but it had *feel*, which is more than can be said for most McCoy stories up to this point. It baffled me when I later found out (in Doctor Who Magazine) that some people didn’t even like it.

    Watching it again, it’s still pretty good, though it does sort of feel like a tourist’s version of Victoriana – Sir Henry Of Rawlingson’s End in space. The Ace-has-a-dark-past theme would have worked better without all the other (it turns out) unrelated Ace-has-a-dark-past stories surrounding it; it felt like they were forcing the issue somewhat by this stage.

    Good call on the UNIT dating tedium. It ruins it for everyone, and I can’t believe there was anything left to say after the last three times the subject was flogged to death.

    • Wopen Parthomew  March 25, 2013

      Is anyone able to explain the “Damn tsetse flies” reference to me? I’m curious.

      • Frankymole  March 26, 2013

        “Damn tsetse flies”: Fenn Cooper is an explorer who has to deal with annoying buzzing insects (tsetse flies also carry tropical diseases). The buzzing of the Doctor’s geiger counter is unknown to him especially in his dazed state, so he ascribes the buzzing to the familiar insect.

        • Wopen Parthomew  March 26, 2013

          Ahhhhh! Thank you, it’s one of those “you have to have been watching it” gags.

        • chris-too-old-to-watch  March 26, 2013

          Tsetse flies carry African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and indeed have a very loud buzz. Incidentally they tend to spend most of their time sitting on bushes, and when an animal walks past, they try to fly onto them and bite. However, their buzz is so loud, and their flight so bad, it’s usually possible to dodge them.
          At least dodge a single fly.
          Unfortunately they tend to be in large groups.
          Rather like rabid fans….

          • Nick Mays  March 26, 2013

            What a wonderful vision! 😉

            “Bzzz! Bzzz! Bzzz! UNIT dating! Bzzz! Bzzz! Bzzz! Lack of plotline! Bzzz! Bzzz! Bzzz! I should have been Adric!Bzzz! Bzzz! Bzzz! It’s not canon!”

        • Polarity Reversed  March 28, 2013

          Haven’t seen this one.
          Do they actually make anything much out of the Fennimore Cooper namecheck?

  7. Warren Andrews  March 24, 2013

    The Doctor: Gone to see a man about a god.

    It wasn’t until I saw the subtitles on the DVD that I always thought Nimrod had gone to see a man about a goat.

    Ghost Light is a story that you either go with the conceit of it or you don’t for it to make sense. It’s got it’s own logic and is very bold with it but that get confusing for people. The actual story is very simple it’s the working out of it that gets confusing – there’s a lot of backstory that gets rushed through or not explained. Andrew Cartmel knows what it’s about as he worked with Platt on working it out but on the editing down, they didn’t appreciate that the general audience wouldn’t be privvy to the details.

    I can’t say I love the story but there’s a lot to appreciate it for.

  8. Roundel  March 24, 2013

    Might be something to do with it being period, and of a kind that the BBC has often done well, creepy old houses, shadows and Victoriana and so on, but this one just feels that bit more solid and grounded than most of the era, while still being highly surreal and fantasy orientated. I think it might be the most successful story overall for me from the last five years of the original run.

  9. Glen Allen (@GlenAllenTV)  March 24, 2013

    The Beeb do excel at costume and this clearly shows..as does the fact that someone actually managed to get them to turn the lights down! They’d been after that for years

    Lucky Break? I think you mean “Big Deal” with Ray Brooks
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME0CSktAeTM
    Brilliant theme tune by Bobby G of Bucks Fizz

    Im so please Sue liked this. Like (seemingly) the entire world, I was confused by it all but oooh it looked lush 🙂

    • Billy Smart  March 24, 2013

      One reason why the costume and design are so superlatively good on Ghostlight is that – because of the rise of independent production and the encouragement of the internal market at the BBC by John Birt – the in-house BBC departments responsible were getting less work and aware that they were soon to be closed down, an irreprable act of cultural vandalism. These people were always the best in their field, but the degree of care and expertise shown in their last days is remarkable, even in genre series where they hadn’t always done their most committed work. A good contemporaneous example is the period sitcom ‘You Rang, M’Lord?’.

      • John Williams  March 24, 2013

        Yes good point. ‘The House of Eliott’ was pretty much the last series made in the old studio style and that looked tremendous as well.

  10. Anonymous  March 24, 2013

    “And then Ace has a flashback to 1983. Yes, 1983. Not 1978 or 1977 or 1984. It’s 1983. Please, I beg you, this blog isn’t a forum for you to discuss your pet theories about UNIT dating, or even Heartbeat dating, which is ****ing niche, even for me. OK? Thanks. Sorry. Where were we? Oh, yes, Ace is having a flashback to 1983…”

    ROFLOL! An even funnier line from Neil than Sue, which doesn’t happen often!

    Oh Neil! I’m sooooo sorry about the ‘Heartbeat’ dating mate. But all that UNIT dating crap about ‘Battlefield’ was really getting to me so I threw that into the mix. I could say the same thing about the chronology of the original 3 “Omen” films, bit I promise you i WON’T, OK? Not unless John Miller sets me off… 😉

  11. Nick Mays  March 24, 2013

    End of Part One: Sue: I haven’t got a clue what that was about but I really enjoyed it. The script is very funny, the acting is very good, the direction is great, the lighting is perfect and the sets are wonderful. If they are sets. In fact, it was all going so well until those daft monsters turned up.

    End of Part Two: Sue: OK, I give up. I’m lost. This doesn’t make sense. It’s bloody good, though.

    End of Part Three: Sue: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but it should have been four parts. It was a bit rushed at the end and that’s probably why it doesn’t make any sense. However, I did get the general gist of it, and it really drew me in. The only fault was with the script – there was far too much going on – but it was very clever at the same time. Yes, it was an odd one. But I really, really liked it.

    That’s pretty much my feel for it Sue, but I love Ghost Light because it’s so whacky and off the wall! And there’s NO ambiguity WHATSOEVER about the dates it’s set ort when Ace burned Gabriel Chase down. So the only amiguity is… well… all of it really! I guess we can all interpret it as we like. But NOT, repeat NOT about the dates! 😉

  12. Neil  March 24, 2013

    So glad Sue enjoyed this — it’s probably in my top three as well (maybe it’s a Neil thing?). I am a little sad though that this marks the last time I’ll have had that slight anxiety as I wait for the next update: “I really hope the Wife in Space likes [insert story title]…”

  13. Nick Mays  March 24, 2013

    Neil: “And then Ace has a flashback to 1983. Yes, 1983. Not 1978 or 1977 or 1984. It’s 1983. Please, I beg you, this blog isn’t a forum for you to discuss your pet theories about UNIT dating, or even Heartbeat dating, which is ****ing niche, even for me. OK? Thanks. Sorry. Where were we? Oh, yes, Ace is having a flashback to 1983…”

    Oh Neil! Brilliant! No disrespect, but it it’s not often you trump Sue for the funniest quotes!

    I do sincerely apologise about the ‘Heartbeat’ dating thing in the post-Battlefield discussions, but I’m afraid that JM and some of his cronies pushed me to it. I only threw that in the show how daft the whole thing was. I could have chucked in the bollocks-up with the dating in the first three “Omen” films, but I resisted the temptation.

    No such controversy with Ghost Light, although I daresay some meta-fans will try to over-analyse it to death!

    • John Miller  March 25, 2013

      Actually, Neil’s superb joke was exactly what I said. My original post on Battlefield wasn’t MY dating stance. It was pointing out that Aaranovitch had sneakily inserted a UNIT dating reference into an episode, and this carried over into the novelisation. It was more a general comment about how many writers from that point on(including many of the novel writers) were far more interested in sticking in continuity references, than in actually crafting a decent, well-plotted out storyline.

      Somehow this turned into people doing endless posts about how “the novelisations don’t count” and how “it doesn’t matter what it says onscreen. The fan can decide for themselves”. My last post on Battlefield actually pointed out how Ghostlight is set in 1883, not some other date, which led to you and others posting more epic sagas about how it’s for the fans to decide for themselves.

      So when Neil stated:

      Neil: “And then Ace has a flashback to 1983. Yes, 1983. Not 1978 or 1977 or 1984. It’s 1983. Please, I beg you, this blog isn’t a forum for you to discuss your pet theories about UNIT dating, or even Heartbeat dating, which is ****ing niche, even for me. OK? Thanks. Sorry. Where were we? Oh, yes, Ace is having a flashback to 1983…”

      I broke out laughing, and laughed and laughed, and laughed. Because Ace had a flashback to 1983, which is exactly what is stated onscreen, and what Marc Platt wrote, and what made it into the finished episode. So Ace has a flashback to 1983. End of story.

      • Roundel  March 25, 2013

        The issue about gratuitous continuity references was also discussed, on the Friday and Saturday if I remember. I even backed up your opinion on that, to some extent at least, as I do partially agree with it, as mentioned. A couple of extra points to address though, neither of which are anything in particular to do with dates, I’m talking about textual analysis.

        The stuff about the books was not about “whether they counted” regardless of any insistence on framing it in that way. The statement’s meaningless anyway if you try to think through the choice of words – count as what, precisely? If you don’t subscribe to concepts such as ‘canon’, then by definition, neither the TV series nor the books are canon. Because nothing is. Hence none of it is anything but make-believe.

        Nor was it a question of fans or people deciding anything either. Just the opposite, in fact. If some information – whether a character’s place of birth, their parent’s names etc anything – isn’t in a text, then there is no basis or necessity for any reader making a definitive decision about it, other than personal preference, which could mean anything, and anything an author might later say would be external rather than internal evidence. This also extends to the question of what a text can mean or what it is about. An author can say what they intended it to mean, and what they meant it to be about, just as a critic can also disagree with them, and may be able to produce an analysis examining the text in a way which might never have occurred to the author.

        • John Miller  March 25, 2013

          I won’t continue this, as it’s clear we aren’t going to agree. Especially as I’m not even 100% sure we’re discussing the same thing….

          The other thing that always upset me about Ghost Light was Ace’s actions. Basically someone burns out her friend’s place, so she burns down Gabriel Chase(which has nothing whatsoever to do with the people who burned her friend’s house). Because she didn’t like the way the place “felt”. But isn’t that the same line of non-reason that the people who burned her friend’s place must have subscribed to? And her realisation is that she wishes she’d blown it up instead. Wicked, indeed. Because Gabriel Chase’s flaws were 1)it was old and b)it had had aliens living in it. Therefore it must be destroyed. But the people who burned out Manisha’s place were evil. So it’s wrong when others do it, but wonderful when Ace does it. And that’s another reason many dislike this era. In other eras the Doctors and companions faced tough decisions, and did stuff they weren’t proud of, but it was to save the world/universe. Here Seven and Ace kill, destroy etc., and it’s all “cool”, and they never stop and ponder their actions.

          • encyclops  March 25, 2013

            I guess if Gabriel Chase represents the forces of conservatism (Light: “nothing must change”) and VIctorian values (Josiah wants to kill the Queen, but also replace her and restore the Empire, apparently) and keeping women in their place (Control chained in the basement), Ace is striking back at the “ghosts” of the past and the racism of imperial history. So there isn’t a literal connection between this house and “white kids firebombed it,” but there is a metaphorical one.

          • Thomas  March 25, 2013

            ” Seven and Ace kill, destroy etc., and it’s all “cool”, and they never stop and ponder their actions.”

            That’s a *really* poor reading of the era.

          • Nick Mays  March 25, 2013

            Now, you see, in my simple little non-Meta-Fan way of looking at this, I thought the 13/14 year-old Ace was distraught after some racist yobs firebombed her friend Manisha’s flat, so she ran from home, broke into the dilapidated and unoccupied Gabriel Chase to be alone. She was overwhelmed by the aura of evil pervading the place and burnt it down as a way of ‘purging’ herself.

            In fact, many arsonists set fire to places to rid themselves of a particular mental association.

            I don’t think Ace set out to “kill and destroy” no more than the Doctor truly wanted to.

            But hey – what do I know? It’s just an opinion!

        • Nick Mays  March 25, 2013

          I seem to recall that some pseudo critics likened the purging of the Shire in Lord of the Rings to the Stalinist purges or the Nazis persecuting the Jews, saying that JRR Tolkein had used this as an analogy of events in the world when he wrote LOTR. Good old Tollers simply said: “Er, no, no I didn’t. It was about the Hobbits being invaded and the Shire scourged.”

          Surely what the author/writer intends is the final word? Not how some smart arse critics may WANT to interpret their work?

          • Thomas  March 25, 2013

            Not really- most modern analysts prefer to take the author out of the situation when analyzing their work (see: “death of the author”, which has been around since 1967).

            After all, what the author *intends* to say doesn’t always match up with what actually is said.

          • Frankymole  March 26, 2013

            Nick, apropos of your offer under the previous story, I’d love to see your scan of JNT’s reply to your letter about the years!

          • Nick Mays  March 26, 2013

            Hi Franky. Drop me a line at scribenick@gmail.com with your e-mail addy and I’ll gladly get that done. 🙂

            Nick

          • Nick Mays  March 26, 2013

            Thomas: Yep, I know that. And it’s still bollocks. 😉

          • Thomas  March 26, 2013

            I don’t really think so- how the author means to interpret their work is certainly a WAY of looking at it, but it doesn’t automatically force all interpretations to go in that direction. The text itself is usually separate from the creator and can be viewed in that way- how many times does a piece, for instance, come off as incredibly racist or sexist when it wasn’t intended that way? Or how often does a particular moral get buried underneath loads of other stuff when the author intended it to be the main point of the piece?

          • Jazza1971  March 26, 2013

            There is a children’s book aimed at 4-6 year olds called “The Rainbow Fish” – many of you may have heard of it or read it. It is the story of a very beautiful, resplendent in his shiny scales who is also very vain about his beauty and so has no friends in the sea. After consulting the starfish and the octopus he gives away his shiny scales until he only has one left, but all the other fish also have one.

            Now I’m guessing the author meant this to be a warming tale about sharing, but the thing that struck me when I first read it was that it is also a tale of conformity – no one liked the Rainbow Fish until he was the same as them, and then everybody loved (it’s like “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer” in reverse).

            Then, to back up this light-hearted point, I did a google search to try and find out what the author’s intentions were when writing the story. I didn’t find out the answer, but I did find a lot of angry right wing Americans who are convinced that it is promoting communism.

            I think this is tosh, which probably shows that the interpretation that matters to me is my own. I once had this theory about Ankh-Morepork being based on L-ANC-aster and MOREcambe (More Ham becomes More Pork…geddit?). I was so convinced about it that I asked Terry Pratchett directly when I saw him at a book signing. He told me I was wrong but that I could tell my friends that I was right. I still think there is a lot to argue my case (despite this damning evidence) and I could write a paper on it.

            Not sure what point I’m trying to make…but it makes you think, doesn’t it?

            I’ll get my coat…

          • Nick Mays  March 26, 2013

            That’s a really good point Jazza! I’ve often thought of Discworld in relation to the Time War as well, with the History Monks “patching time up” which affects the chronology somewhat. Prachett is usually a good answer for most things.

            But please… how does your theory accomodate Season 6B? 😉

            (Sorry – getting my coat too!) 😀

          • John Miller  March 26, 2013

            Yes. People can interpret material in ways other than the author intended(as posts on this blog alone can testify to. In spades). However, you can not possibly deny that the author’s original intentions are an enormous part of the work, regardless of how well that comes across in the finished product.(And have you stopped to think it may not be the author’s part that you didn’t view it the way he/she wrote it? Furthermore many accusations ending with -ism or -phobia come from people who purposely go into everything looking for such “signs” ).

            I have interpreted many different things in ways other than they were originally intended. However, once you know the intention, you must go back over the same piece of work with the knowledge of author’s intention. Maybe you’ll see stuff you didn’t before, maybe you’ll agree with it, maybe you’ll think it’s a steaming pile of shit. But to dismiss the author’s original intention as “just one way of looking at it” is bizarre. The only thing worse is forcing your own interpretation on things as the “definitive” one, even when the actual author has explicitly stated that is not the case.

          • Thomas  March 26, 2013

            I think assigning a “definitive” view to any reading is a mistake to begin with, regardless of who it is doing the reading. When you look at a piece of art, you’re looking at something that is a myriad of interpretations and definitions that are always going to change based on the audience. How well those readings hold up, though, definitely depends on the strength of the argument and usually the person doing the arguing- Hobo Sam from down the street might be a *slightly* less dependable source than a university professor, or the authors themselves.

            Now, in something like a book or painting in which there is usually one singular entity behind the piece, the author’s intentions have a bit more credence than something like a TV show or film (which has at any given point at *least* 3-5 different people all giving their individual weight and analyses to the product), but still in every case their interpretation shouldn’t be held objectively in any higher regard than other interpretations.

            “Furthermore many accusations ending with -ism or -phobia come from people who purposely go into everything looking for such “signs” ).”

            Not really true on several levels, but even if it were it doesn’t discredit the notion that sometimes accidental racism and sexism *does* happen, regardless of what the author initially intended.

          • encyclops  March 26, 2013

            I think the key is realizing that “to be about” is meaningless. Nothing “is about” anything. You can say “the author had X in mind when she wrote Y” or “I thought of P when I read Q,” but in my opinion a reading requires a reader, and you can avoid a lot of pointless, frustrating arguments if you specify who that reader is.

          • Polarity Deconstructed  March 29, 2013

            So the multi-layered cultural construct we generally agree here to refer to as “Dr Who” is ultimately a signifier in constant play, which may or may not be in progress towards a signified which it can, as a result of its own inevitable ontological bounds, never reach.

            You guys do realise that, according to the unpublished novel “Aliens from Baudrillard-4”, the Time War never took place, don’t you? The Polish, Welsh and Geordie Formalists were furious and threatened to pull down Zeno’s Temple until the dastardly Dr Johnson kicked a stone and made them realise that it would invalidate their own existence. But kindly Dr Saussure (played by him off EastEnders 15 years ago) convinced them that there might be another way, and now all possible realities can coexist. NEXT TIME – BOOF BOOF BOOF…

            Scuse me while I go off and lay some bricks.

  14. Wholahoop  March 24, 2013

    I remember thinking how much I loved eps 1 and 2 and how let down I felt by the rush of episode 3. Oh well.

  15. Rob White  March 24, 2013

    First ever comment here (nothing like getting in early!) just to say that I’m so very glad this went down well – like Neil, this is probably my favourite Who (though it usually jostles for the top spot with the one immediately following it). So after Battlefield came a cropper, I’ve had my fingers crossed the density of the thing wouldn’t scupper it. The script really is a blinder though, packed with some lovely lines.

    Honestly, I’ve never found this that confusing, though it helps that I’ve rewatched it an inordinate number of times. Plus, on original transmission I somehow only got it into my head it was only a 2 parter (presumably I misread the Radio Times entry which, as a new fan, was the first time I’d find out anything about a story). As ep 2 progressed, I distinctly remember thinking they’d have to get a move on to tie all this up, and then when the light blazed and the theme tune kicked in, I was thoroughly stumped. With that confusion behind me, everything else seemed simple by comparison!

    Fingers crossed for a decent run of scores to end the McCoy years – I’m fairly confident the next one will go down very well, and there’s only a few production niggles to scupper the last one.

  16. DPC  March 24, 2013

    Blimey. I’m going to have to try this one again… and revel in the feel as opposed to working it all out, because it is a mess — most of McCoy’s 3-parters could easily be 6 and justify the length…

    “Me: Yeah, it was very sweet of him to trick her into visiting the one place she never wanted to come back to. He’s lovely.”

    ONE SPOILER IN NEXT PARAGRAPH, ALBEIT NONDESCRIPT:

    That’s the thing about McCoy’s era I don’t like. He’s a bit pushy, and it gets worse – will save the detail comments for the right stories, of course.

  17. James C  March 24, 2013

    At uni in Australia when this came out in the UK, I got my fix by reading the listings in The Independent in the uni library (slightly obsessive!). The listing described this as ‘quintessentially splendid’. Which I think is about right. Confusing as hell, but splendid and with exactly the right feel.

    What a relief for Neil that Sue rated this one so highly!

  18. Jazza1971  March 24, 2013

    My favourite bit is the Rev turning into a monkey which messes with his creationist theories. I think.

  19. Dave Sanders  March 25, 2013

    God help us all if they’d actually made Lungbarrow at TVC in 1989…

    Sue’s Pergatory analogy is the best one-line description I think I’ve ever heard of Ghost Light, twenty years before it became fashionable in TV dramas that exist in their own quantum-locked unfathomable timeline. Lost, Life On Mars, Midsomer Murders (you can’t convince me that last one doesn’t all take place in Barnaby’s head). Why is Pergatory so trendy anyway? By definition, fuck-all ever happens there.

    Ghost Light isn’t actually about evolution per se, it’s about the status quo – specifically, what happens when the ability to adapt is suddenly stripped from you. Everyone suffers as a result, has their own individual horrors to confront because control is taken away from them at their own critical point. Josiah’s barking mad and seemingly pointless plan to assassinate Queen Victoria has nothing to do with the empire; it only makes any sense in wanting to stop and sieze history at that precise point when he has the upper hand, so that nothing else ihe house can ever take it away from him again.

    “Oh… I get it. They’re robots.”

    And a million faces crestfall in unison as the Terry Nation ennui comes FLOODING BACK.

    • Jane  March 25, 2013

      “Why is Pergatory so trendy anyway?”

      Because so many writers have had “near-death” experiences the last ten years, and they want to explore those themes in their work. Plus, it’s a great mindset to apply to real life. If, for example, you were actually dead right now, and therefore not actually afraid of “dying” other than to “move on” to whatever comes after Purgatory, what would you set yourself to doing? (I blame LOST, by the way, so many people fried their brains trying to figure out the Island.)

  20. David Staples  March 25, 2013

    Love “Ghostlight”. The performances, the dialogue, the characters. As the last story of the classic era to be produced (and the last at Television Centre—topical eh?) it was a great sendoff.

  21. Thomas  March 25, 2013

    Okay, this is quite possibly my favorite WiS entry yet- this so perfectly sums up everything that’s great about Ghost Light, but also its really weird nature as well. Such a fun read.

    But yeah, I love this story. It was one of my earliest McCoys (after the next one and Remembrance) and though it was such a really bizarre experience I loved it to death (though I didn’t find it *quite* as confusing, especially not after the second time). Light is such a wonderful villain and I love the Doctor’s verbal takedown at the end. Really lovely story, and an excellent way to bow out of the classic series (though, of course, there are still a couple more left to go for broadcast…).

  22. Ben Herman  March 25, 2013

    I have only seen Ghost Light twice. Once was on the local PBS station in the early 1990s, and it toally went over my head. I saw it for the second time a few years ago when I got it on DVD. Definitely a very confusing story, but at the same time I do have to credit the script for its ambition and the fact that it requires the viewer to think. I should give it a view a third time, and see what I make of it this time around.

    As for Lungbarrow, um, well, maybe it’s better that it never made it to the television screens. It made a very good novel, but as someone else suggested, perhaps it wouldn’t have come off very well on a shoestring budget & 1990 technology.

  23. Jane  March 25, 2013

    I finally understand what “room to breathe” means in Doctor Who commentary. It’s room to make bloody comments about the show while you’re watching it, MST3K style, without missing any of the story beats.

  24. Steve White  March 25, 2013

    If there was ever a story that needed four parts.. It was this one.

  25. Gavin Noble  March 25, 2013

    This story isn’t my cup of tea at all and I kind of think people say they like it so much because they are covering up for not understanding what the **** is going on in it! It’s still less confusing to me than the ending of the next story though…no spoilers please we’ll discuss my lack of understanding when we get there!

    • John Miller  March 25, 2013

      Ghost Light is actually like a magician’s trick. It looks wonderful, and confusing, and makes you think. Your friends all need to see it too!

      However, once it’s explained to you what actually happens, you rewatch it, and it’s flat and tedious.

      • Thomas  March 25, 2013

        Really? I found out exactly what it was about the second time I watched it and still found it just as good, if not better, than the first time. I don’t quite see how finding the substance of the story somehow removes all the substance…

        • Nick Mays  March 25, 2013

          Ah well, Thomas, the likes of you and me aren’t as clever as the Meta-Fanboys,so the ‘Black is White’ formula is completely lost on us. Our little brains couldn’t HOPE to keep up!

          • John Miller  March 25, 2013

            Ghostlight is actually a very simple, straightforwad message(calling it a story doesn’t seem right…) that has been dressed up to be something far more complex. It’s like a musician writing a pedestrian piece of music, but then adding lots of ornaments to make it seem more than it actually is. Remove all the Dominie and Ace in Wonderland stuff and you’re left with a story that couldn’t last one episode, let alone four. Of course, as noted last time(and had NOTHING to do with my take on dating stories) we had/have reached the stage now where for many fans the embellishments and continuity references ARE the entertainment, and the plot is an inconsequential thing to hang all the REAL stuff on.

          • Thomas  March 25, 2013

            “Ghostlight is actually a very simple, straightforwad message(calling it a story doesn’t seem right…) that has been dressed up to be something far more complex.”

            …isn’t that true of all stories, to an extent? “If you remove important parts of the episode, you’ve got something that couldn’t last one episode” seems like a kinda obvious statement to me.

          • John Miller  March 25, 2013

            Totally different. Proper stories have plot development, B plots etc. that can’t be cut back without altering everything. Ghostlight has one simple plot, and lots of trimmings. It’s all extras and no plot. If you cut the extras in other Who’s you still have a plot over multiple episodes. Ghostlight is virtually all extras. Which you seem to regard as being more important than story or characterisation.

            PS I’m not going to take the bait and reply to any of your other attacks on me.

          • Nick Mays  March 25, 2013

            At least the extras in this one are allowed to act.

            Or don’t you mean that kind of extras? 😉

          • John Miller  March 27, 2013

            Extras as in ornaments. Once you’ve got a good plot and characters that aren’t one-dimensional types, then by all means add continuity references and/or clever references to other works, real-life incidents etc. But this doesn’t have the essential core elements down. It’s all clever(and that is debatable) references with not so much a soft centre, as no centre. Like a meal consisting of lots of sauces, but no meat or veg.

          • encyclops  March 27, 2013

            Maybe what John’s referring to is why this story used to leave me so cold. Apart from the Doctor and Ace, all of the characters are either sort of mechanistic aliens (Josiah, Control, Light), implacable Neanderthals (Nimrod), or hypnotized/mad/whatever pawns (almost everyone else). Comprehensible motivations are thin on the ground. In some respects this is a virtue — if you can’t have characters with alien desires in this show, where can you have them? — but it does make it that much more difficult to relate to anything that’s happening on a conventional level. The schematic nature of the characters, while great for allegory, is not so great for emotional connection or investment and it begins to feel like a bit of a parlor game, or maybe a companion piece to The Web Planet.

            But while I wouldn’t want every story to be like this, I think we’re all the richer for having one that is.

          • Thomas  March 28, 2013

            Yeah, I won’t deny that with the exception of Ace’s journey the emotional content is fairly light (though we do have some lovely scenes at the end with the guest cast), but I don’t think that’s really a bad thing- it’s just not what this particular story is interested in.

            And, I mean, there is a plot. Even if you have a hard time following it, it is there.

    • Gavin Noble  March 25, 2013

      I don’t mean being confused at the next stories ending I meant the concluding story to series 26. Got the transmission order mixed up in my tiny little brain!

  26. chris-too-old-to-watch  March 25, 2013

    I must admit to worrying about Ghostlight (or de “we” fans call it GL) when it came up. I was pleasantly surprised by Sue’s mark and reaction to it: exactly the same as mine on first watching.
    But ooooh, how wrong I was. Once VHS/DVD came available, and rewatching this with anticipation, my sense of disappointment was tangible. The level of understanding actually dropped. One of the few things that becomes less clear the more you watch. Also some characters who were fiirst amusing become tedious and eventually annoying. Preteniousness creeps in.
    Sorry, just not for me.
    But nice carpentry.

  27. David J Richardson  March 25, 2013

    The Ace timeline stuff is hardly on a par with the UNIT dating kerfuffle. But it was messy enough I wrote an article on the timeline of Ace, available here:

    http://davidj.richardson.name/drwho/prose_article_acetimeline.html

    • John Miller  March 25, 2013

      I’m sure Neil and Sue are very grateful for that link. But others feel the books don’t count. 🙂

      • Thomas  March 25, 2013

        I seem to recall you getting very upset with people for “egging you on” regarding an argument by making offhand comments constantly…I fail to see how this is different.

        • Anonymous  March 30, 2013

          It isn’t

        • Wholahoop  March 30, 2013

          It isn’t, but that doesn’t detract from it being funny IMHO

          • John Miller  March 30, 2013

            The difference is that my “interpretation” was stating word-for-word what the actual writers/producers had said about concepts/characters etc. However, and no surprise here, certain people dismissed the official word of the creators as some “mad fan theory”. Because apparently what some person with a handle posts on the internet is true, but what the people who make the show say is something to ridicule, and make unfunny “banter” about.

            And my joke wasn’t aimed at David J Richardson, it was aimed at the people who make vulgar “banter” about the official words of the creators, but then engage in lengthy discussions about something where there’s no substance to the discussion, and everything comes from half-truths, fan misinterpretations and an absolute belief that the so-called “fan” knows better than the people who actually make(or used to make) the show for a living.

          • Thomas  March 30, 2013

            Oh, come on now. That was not at all what Roundel was saying if you read through his posts (no one was arguing intent, for one thing).

          • Roundel  April 5, 2013

            Thank you, Thomas.

            There are multiple problems with the kind of philosophy that JM appears to be talking about.

            For one thing, it’s clearly impossible, in a series like Doctor Who, for collective authorial intent on the part of the makers of the series to be entirely consistent within itself and easily defined.

            Also, if one wishes to appeal to how audiences of the time would have viewed something, this also ignores the fact that most of these audiences would have been no more familiar with interviews with members of the production team, the novelisations etc than some of the people he berates. Consider that every episode would have been watched by millions of people, few of whom could have had any idea, other than personal conjecture, concerning any element of the story not specified on screen.

            What authorial intent mainly tells us is what the authors intended their story to be. It doesn’t necessarily tell us exactly what it is, because there still remains the question of whether they actually succeeded in their attempts. If a viewer who did not know their intent watched it and evaluated it differently from the author, then that would be evidence that the author had failed, at least with that person. If someone, or a group of people, make a television story of some kind in a series, but some aspects of it can only become clear if the viewer happens to read this or that interview, or the book version then, if they wanted there to be no doubt about those aspects, ultimately, they have failed to get their intent across. It is no good leaving information out of it if you desire the audience to have that information, and putting it in other sources later on is not going to compensate for that.

            If we want to discuss the rights or wrongs of this or that author’s ideas and intentions, then that’s another question, that’s fine. Was this a good idea or not? Should Ben Aaronovitch have written the kind of ending that Remembrance had, for example? Again, that’s a discussion on what kind of morality writers should observe, or what kind of ideas work artistically and so on.

            Ideology is indeed an area where this can come into play. Suppose someone argues that a script might be sexist, or have colonial overtones. The author might not necessarily have intended this, but that would not automatically disqualify debate along those lines.

            But discourse which appears to presume that there are somehow hidden “facts” within these texts which, when connected together, can make up a coherent whole, is somewhat more problematic. So if Story A contradicts Story B about something, and Story C then seems to agree with one of those, that supposedly means that there’s suddenly definitive proof of something, even though Story D might actually agree with the other one of those first two stories mentioned, and Story E might contradict all of them.

            For a start, it should be clear that thinking in terms of which one is right or wrong, especially if these are stories that were written years or decades apart, is largely otiose. Quite obviously, if we’re going by authorial intent, then they’re all correct, even if they contradict each other, because they are what their respective writers intended. And if we’re not going on authorial intent, and insist on either trying to make them consistent, or make a judgement about which is right and which isn’t, then there’s no way of doing it without making a personal judgement call of some sort, even if it’s just a matter of eg ‘I agree with this author’s intent but not that one’.

            There’s also a further consideration, which is that, sometimes, the same author can have had different opinions at different times, so then there’s a decision as to on which occasion do you choose to agree with the author? And this also means that one is ultimately not abiding completely by authorial intent. Rather, it means that one is constructing a hierarchy of authority, where, say, the author’s original intent is at the top, those who agree with that just below, and below that, the author’s later, changed opinion. In other words, one is putting oneself ahead of the author for part of the equation. One is deciding that the author’s views on the text only carry any authority if they are close in time to when the text was written. So if Mr Writer wrote something in 1993 and said in an interview at the time that they thought that such-and-such a thing applied, but then, in 2003, wrote something else contradicting that because they’d changed their mind then… someone insisting that both texts should retain Mr Writer’s 1993 idea would, in effect, be indicating that they’ve decided that they do know better than Mr Writer, that Mr Writer does not have the authority to change this. Therefore Mr Writer of 1993 knows best, and only those who agree with him are right, meaning that Mr Writer of 2003 can be dismissed as being wrong in his writings, whatever the reason might be.

            It is thinking which is built on concepts like hierarchy, authority, of absolute rights and wrongs. Part of my point is that there aren’t really any absolutes as such when it comes to concepts like background continuity. Yes, things such as statements by authors do go to make evidence of various kinds. But it’s evidence which is best suited for making-of features, fact files and research on the making and production of the series. Trying to construct a consistent mythology of it is simply hobbyism – fair enough if people enjoy it, but it does not give anyone grounds to claim authority. Not because “fans know better” but because there is no definitive authority. Moreover, I consider it both unnecessary and undesirable to even try looking for this kind of authority, when it comes to simply considering the fiction. As said earlier, it’s reasonable grounds for discussion if we wish to talk about the authors’ motives and priorities, but any extra-textual ideas of authors remain, by definition, dependent on people looking outside the text to be able to find them.

            The mistake, it seems to me, lies in thinking of these things as “facts” that can be “revealed”, “proved” or “disproved”. They’re fictional ideas, some of which might not sit easily or comfortably with other, might even contradict them entirely, but each can always be considered in isolation, without any need to be concerned about its relationship with some other idea it doesn’t perhaps fit very well with. If there is some kind of contradiction which one finds annoying, for whatever reason, then there’s obviously the possibility of ignoring it, or thinking up reasons to explain it, or deciding which author you agree most and shrugging it off.

          • Neil Perryman  April 5, 2013

            This comment is 1300 words. That’s longer than some blog entries. Seriously, what the hell are you doing?

  28. Jimbotfu  March 25, 2013

    Really don’t get the love for Ghost Light.
    It looks lovely, there’s some snappy dialogue…but you can’t escape the fact that it’s an incomprehensible mess.
    An unfortunate result of a script butchering, maybe…but still, you have to judge a show on the finished product.
    It just feels like total disregard for the viewer.

  29. Anonymous  March 25, 2013

    Yes… like Sue, I don’t know what else to say about this one either.

    So I won’t.

  30. Pete  March 25, 2013

    Ghost Light is one of my favourite Doctor Who stories too, and I’m glad Sue went with it. It’s fair to say it’s pretty unforgiving to the casual viewer, and it takes a few goes to get your head around it. But it has, what, four plots? It’s ambitious, and definitely should have had that extra episode that Battlefield nicked. I still love it, but then, I love pretty much all Doctor Who set in old, Victorian houses.

  31. Cookey  March 25, 2013

    “Sweet Jesus. I’m a McCoy fan and even I can’t watch that scene without the aid of a cushion”-
    Hehe, I make the same face when i’ve got trapped wind..

    I was pleasantly suprised when Sue gave the story 8/10 as it was a really good effort and quite fun. Perhaps i should have watched it in 5.1 the other day, as the dialogue does get lost a heck of a lot. Maybe i’m going deaf…

    Good story, worthy of the score

  32. encyclops  March 25, 2013

    Neil, what are the other two stories in your top 3?

    I hope someone’s asking Sue which ones are hers. I guess if we can assume she doesn’t change her mind about the ratings in hindsight, it would have to be Spearhead, Seeds of Doom, and City of Death, right? Was there another 10/10 I’m forgetting about?

    • Roundel  March 25, 2013

      I think that The Ribos Operation may have been one of them, I remember him saying that was a favourite.

      • Trytek  March 25, 2013

        She did say, too, that Remembrance was one of the only ones she’d watch again, purely for pleasure.

        • Frankymole  March 27, 2013

          The incomplete Marco Polo must surely be nagging at her… or at least Neil should!!

          They’ve also got the new Galaxy 4 find now 🙂

          • Nick Mays  March 29, 2013

            Ah well, Sue and Neil should themselves hence to W H Smiths and purchase the brand new Dr Who First Doctor Missing Episodes special, which has telesnaps of every episode of Marco Polo in it (bar one). The experiment need be incomplete no longer! 😉

            … Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

          • Neil Perryman  March 29, 2013

            Be careful what you wish for…

    • Longtime Listener  March 25, 2013

      I had the impression that Neil had a lawyer on speed-dial in case Sue didn’t like Seeds of Doom…

  33. Paul Mc Elvaney  March 25, 2013

    Everytime I go back and watch Ghost Light I discover something new and enjoy it even more. Fantastic stuff and shows how challenging Doctor Who could be. I’m going to be gutted when this is all over… 🙁

    • Nick Mays  March 25, 2013

      Me too! No more discussions on UNITdating ad nauseum and Meta-Fans’ sneering at indiovidual artiste’s acting ability, production values, any given era of the show, plot structure, what is or isn’t ‘canon’ and how they should have been cast as Adric!

      • Dave Sanders  March 25, 2013

        Play them off, Keyboard Keff.

  34. Chris  March 25, 2013

    Oddly, I’ve never found Ghost Light that confusing – it’s takes its time to explain what is going on but by the end it seems pretty clear to me. It’s a beautiful production of a dark and clever story – I wouldn’t want the show to be like this every week but I love it’s madness and density.

  35. Dave Sanders  March 25, 2013

    I gave Ghost Light a rewatch this morning after this post went up; it’s held its age brilliantly and totally deserves all the plaudits being thrown at it.

    Helps if you’re in your 40s, mind.

  36. DamonD  March 25, 2013

    The Doctor’s mad gurning is actually meant to be him struggling to fend off a psychic attack from Light, according to Platt. Something just sadly lost in translation between script, performance and presentation. Maybe some glowy sfx might’ve helped, don’t know. Anyway, Ghost Light remains a huge favourite of mine. I think it’s my favourite of the entire JNT era, even.

    • Thomas  March 28, 2013

      Thanks for that- I had no clue what he was up to before, and rewatching that scene, it makes a hell of a lot more sense. It’s still not *good*, however, but it certainly looks better when you’re aware of the intention.

      • Anonymous  March 28, 2013

        But the intention is irrelevant. Read “Death of the Author”. I interpreted the Doctor’s mad gurning as him struggling to date Heartbeat. And how I interpreted it is far more important than what the creators all intended.

        • Nick Mays  March 28, 2013

          Fnaaaarrrr!!! Very good “Anon”! Remember though, I didn’t (and still don’t) actually give a stuff about the dating in Heartbeat – it was juyst an example used to “calm” Meta-Fans who STILL get worked up over the UNITdating -or any dating in Dr Who – and who go to great lengths to tell us so.

          And who do these “author” people think they are anyway? Surely whatever they write ceases to be their so-called “intellectual prperty” when it is read/viewed by anyone else.

          • Nick Mays  March 28, 2013

            Did you see what I did there? I added an extra letter to “just” and dropped a letter from “property”, just because I wrote them and it’s what I intended! 😉

        • Thomas  March 28, 2013

          Since when did I say it was irrelevant? Read my posts again- that wasn’t what I said at all.

          • John Miller  March 29, 2013

            Ah. But once you said it, you renounced any intellectual ownership of it, and it became something for the universe(one of ’em anyway) to interpret as we see fit. What you actually said ceased to have any significance the moment you actually said it, and it is now only how we interpret it that has any real meaning.

          • Thomas  March 29, 2013

            You’re misreading my arguments and turning my points into a straw man for you to easily counter. I’ve never once said authorial intent was irrelevant, just not “definitive”.

            And it should be pretty bleeding obvious that what applies to critical analyses of art doesn’t apply to every single instance in everyday life ever.

      • John Miller  March 28, 2013

        But surely the intention is only one way of looking at it? And who is to say it is even the “right” one? Just because they were working on a single vision, and everyone worked together to create the author’s intention, doens’t mean we can’t interpret it as something completely different?

        • Nick Mays  March 28, 2013

          Of course you can John! But it wouldn’t stop you being wrong if you interpreted it at odds with what was intended.

          By definition, if you interpret it differently to what the author/production team intended, then you are WRONG, because your interpretation is not RIGHT.

  37. Richard Lyth  March 25, 2013

    Great to hear that Sue liked it, this is one of my absolute favourite stories now. It’s like the Doctor Who equivalent of a David Lynch movie, full of weirdness and amibguity but making more sense every time you see it. Wish they’d do a Special Edition DVD though, the picture quality is a bit murky on the current one, it would be nice if they could clean it up a bit more.

    I was not so keen the first time I saw it – after episode 2 I wrote “This story is as bad as the Happiness Patrol! Too many questions and no answers whatsoever. If the last episode is taken up with everyone sitting down in a room explaining everything, it STILL won’t be enough!” But after episode 3 I wrote “Well OK, it did explain most things. But what about Java? And who the hell was Josiah anyway?” and gave it 6 out of 10. Unbelievable. Still, watching it spread out over three weeks must have been a nightmare, it works so much better now you can watch it in one sitting.

  38. John G  March 25, 2013

    It is rather appropriate in this most confusing of stories that Neil should get muddled about what Sue was commenting on in places! It’s not actually the lack of coherence to the plot that annoys me about Ghost Light, it is the ultimate feeling that there isn’t much of a plot at all, and that the whole thing has just been a pointless exercise in arty pretension. I have nothing against attempts to do something weird and different in Doctor Who – I enjoy the ambience of Warriors’ Gate, despite being baffled by it – but in this case there seemed to me to be no real substance, nothing crucially important at stake that made me care much what happened. The plot thread involving Ace facing her fears had potential, but gets swamped in the general weirdness and doesn’t go anywhere – thankfully, the remaining stories of Season 26 are much more successful in putting Ace under the spotlight.

    Still, the sets are nice…

  39. Piers johnson  March 25, 2013

    I love Ghost Light, despite the confused plot and contrived setup. Ace and the Doctor are at their peak here, although I love Fenric as well. McCoy was much underrated, mostly due to the dire serials before this one, it’s time for him to be recognised as a great Doctor. I still rememebr being disappointed when McGann replaced him in the movie.

    I knew Sue would think it was like New Who! There are several new episodes that steal from this one!

  40. Frankymole  March 26, 2013

    A lot of Sue’s guessing reminds me of Matt Berry in the IT Crowd trying to guess a DVD’s twist ending: “They’re all ghosts! He’s his own brother! You think it’s in the past, but it’s actually in the future!”

  41. Brian  March 26, 2013

    pretentious tosh, that feels like it was written by a 18 year old smiths fan, tring to impress us all. Like all the Cartmel stories

    • Dave Sanders  March 26, 2013

      You are Christopher H. Bidmead and I claim my five pounds.

    • Thomas  March 26, 2013

      “Pretentious” is up there with “boring” as one of my absolute least favorite criticisms ever. It’s absolutely awfully.

      • encyclops  March 26, 2013

        What is your favorite criticism ever?

        I loved the Smiths when I was 18, but I didn’t love Ghost Light. I might be on the road now to loving both, though I think it’s well past time Morrissey accepted that he’s not well enough to be touring, and Johnny Marr accepted that he’s only a genius when someone else is singing.

        • Brian  March 26, 2013

          I just think most of the Cartmel stories (and particularly Ghostlight) Feel like they where written by a 6th former who is showing off how well read, and smart he is. It was like Rick from the young ones in charge of the show. The story is being complex for the sake of it.

          • John Reid  March 27, 2013

            Brian you’re saying that. As if its a bad thing, as to be honest, I’m sure even well educated viewers wouldn’t have got the references of where Plat curry, Wyatt’s and co. got their ideas from

        • Matt Sharp  March 27, 2013

          ‘What is your favorite criticism ever?’

          ‘That Dalek looks all smelly!’
          – my three year old niece Ellie in response to her first sighting of the Special Weapons Dalek from Remembrance.

  42. Jennie  March 26, 2013

    Ghost Light is one of my favourite stories. Great acting and atmosphere. Didn’t really understand it when I first saw it, but liked it anyway. I love Control’s evolution from near animal to proper ladylike:)

    One thing that still confuses me. What does “Java” mean? People are drugged, preserved as “specimens”, then hidden somewhere in Gabriel Chase?? If that is the case, where is Gwendoline’s father?

    • Jazza1971  March 26, 2013

      My understanding from the extras on the DVD is that Java=death.

      • Frankymole  March 27, 2013

        That was my understanding from the novelisation, too, though I suspected it from the sinister way “being sent to Java” was threatened on-screen. You know what Victorian families were like for their euphemisms…

        • Longtime Listener  March 28, 2013

          Without wanting to sound too snarky, that seemed perfectly apparent to me when first watching the story at the age of 9.

          OK, so I’m not doing a terribly good job on the “not sounding snarky” front…

      • Jennie  March 27, 2013

        Thanks Jazza1971 and Frankymole.

    • chris-too-old-to-watch  March 27, 2013

      Java (the island, not the computer language) is part of the Malay Archipelago. Alfred Wallace, an animal collector and biologist spent many years here collecting specimens and formulating a theory of evolution based on natural selection. Within this field there is still an ongoing discussion over whether he or Dawrin came up with the idea firsr.
      Thus “gone to Java” may well be referring to the discovery of evolution by natural selection, which may fit better into the story.

      • Nick Mays  March 27, 2013

        That was the way I read it, in the Victorian explorer “exploring uncharted areas” kind of way, with Java becoming a euphamism for death or change in this story.

  43. charles yoakum  March 26, 2013

    so glad that sue “gets” this story, even if the questions that it brings up aren’t quite answered. As someone who watched this when it first came it, there was an instant recognition that Dr. Who was TRYING again, trying to be more that then Time and the Rani. Which it had been settling for for a very long time. You can always tell when someone, or someones on the show are trying to do more with it, and not always succeeding. You could tell that Holmes and HInchcliffe were pushing the boundaries, as was Douglas Adams in his season of script editing. There was very little sense that anyone was trying for years and finally Carmel comes along and while i’m not a fan of everything here, by god they’re working hard at least.
    This is up there in the top 10 for me as well actually. Of all time Doctor Who. And its the only McCoy to make that distinction.

    • John Reid  March 27, 2013

      Actually I’d say that killing Adric, having an evil Doctor in the matrix ,having. A Robot that didn’t look like a remote control car with a car arial sticking out and flashing lights on its back to make it look like it had a brain, were all ideas that Hinchcliffe would have tried had he stayed on, but Williams didn’t have the heart to kill off Leela, have a proper robot like Kmelion ,and stuck with the toy K-9 , or have a follow upto the deadly assassin ,in S15′ and only have the matrix properly again in Ultimate foe,

      So while there were new ideas with Cartmel that hadn’t been seen since 1977 (Douglas Adams stories excluded) I would say that, mid 80’s Who did try to do new things but they were more for trying to dispel the myth that the show was safe.

      • Thomas  March 28, 2013

        “Williams didn’t have the heart to kill off Leela,”

        Hinchcliffe thought of killing several companions but obviously never did, which is a good thing- Baker’s Doctor is too impervious to be able to do something like that. Also re: robots, Kamelion as it was didn’t work at all well in 1983 (and even if he had been operating correctly I’m not confident he could’ve really worked), so it’s not like they could’ve done any better five years earlier.

  44. Elden  March 28, 2013

    Try showing Sue this to see if it makes more sense: http://ionlylurkhere.livejournal.com/20503.html (Ghost Light explained by lolcat macros! :D)

  45. Doug  March 28, 2013

    Work is winding down for Easter, so I spent the afternoon updating the averages. Here we go, from best to worst:

    Pertwee: 6.71
    Troughton: 5.95
    T.Baker: 5.83
    Davison: 5.80
    C. Baker: 5.18
    Hartnell: 5.03
    McCoy (so far): 4.6

    Wow! Sue really did loathe poor Billy Hartnell, didn’t she? 🙁

    • Doug  March 28, 2013

      BTW, if the best case scenario occurs and Sue gives the remaining McCoys a 10/10 each, his average score will still only be 5.50.

      • Trytek  March 28, 2013

        Fingers crossed for the best case scenario!

    • Doug  March 28, 2013

      Also, if you treat Trial as a single story, C. Baker’s average plummets to 4.69.

      Okay, I am starting to think about this too much now. Time to head home from the office. Have a happy and holy holiday, one and all.

      • encyclops  March 29, 2013

        I love that you did these averages, by the way. Thanks! I’m fascinated by the high Pertwee average.

    • Thomas  March 28, 2013

      Well, I still think T. Baker (and Hartnell, for that matter) should be split in three- though the scores aren’t drastically changed even with that.

    • John G  March 28, 2013

      Now that Sue is much more conditioned to Doctor Who than she was at the start of the experiment, it would be interesting to get her to watch the Hartnell stories again and see if she changes her mind about any of them – it would also provide an excuse to watch/listen to Marco Polo in its entirety (and to watch Galaxy 4 Part 3)! Somehow though, I don’t think Neil will be keen on this idea… 🙂

      • Thomas  March 28, 2013

        “I don’t think Neil will be keen on this idea…”

        Or Sue.

  46. John Williams  March 30, 2013

    I’m going to be very sad when this blog ends but the one silver lining is that I’ll never have to see any more of John Miller’s appalling attempts to turn the comment threads into an arena for his tedious theories about Doctor Who. Why don’t you get the message John? Give us a few final weeks to enjoy the blog without cluttering it up with your repetitive bollocks which on more than one occasion has caused Neil to suspend comments.

    • John Miller  March 30, 2013

      Yet again, Mr Williams, had you actually read anything I typed in, none of it(apart from some of the comments apart Cartmel’s) are in any way shape or form MY theories, “tedious” or otherwise. If you honestly believe that the actual intentions, beliefs and blueprints of the wonderful, brilliant, talented people who made the show, and spent a tremendous amount of effort, energy and passion to turn THEIR visions and ideas into a reality that is supposed to be enjoyed by millions are “appalling” and “tedious”, and that that incredible and magnificent creativity and final product are in any way “mine”, then there is something seriously wrong with you.

      People make television shows(and of course other things such as books…). such as Doctor Who. They also tell us, in no way ambiguous, what their intentions were, what certain things signify, how plot arcs etc. were designed to play out. I can understand that some may interpret things in ways other than the Production Team intended. However, to dismiss what the Production team intended as “appalling” , “tedious”, and in any way belonging to, or originating from, ME of all people is insane.

      • Jazza1971  March 30, 2013

        In fairness you did come up with a theory regarding the population of Skaro based on the fact that the Emperor dalek/Davros was inspired by the TV21 comic strip.

        • John Miller  March 30, 2013

          Is that a joke? I seriously hope so. 🙂

          If not, what I did do was post a link to a piece written by someone else(ie. not me). No, he never wrote Remembrance. But he did write an excellent piece about it, which I happen to agree with. But again it’s not MY piece. I merely pointed it out, and said I agreed with what he wrote.

          • John Miller  March 30, 2013

            Oh, and the life on Skaro isn’t HIS idea either. It was what TERRY NATION created and placed in tv episodes, comics, and books, featuring characters and concepts that he(ie. TERRY NATION) owned. If you think that it is the “theory” of either me OR the fellow who wrote that article, think again. It’s the actual vision of Terry Nation, ie. not a “fan theory”. If Terry Nation says something about Skaro, and even places it in officially licensed and released stories, than you shouldn’t dismiss it as an “appalling and tedious John Miller fan theory”. Regardless of how you interpret it….

          • Jazza1971  March 30, 2013

            The problem with this is that although they may have been created for licensed media other than the TV show, they contradict what has been expressed in the TV series in a story written by Terry Nation. So you have to choose which is the “correct” history of the daleks. I myself go with the history as shown on screen when I am watching the TV show ON SCREEN. You can choose to go with the TV21 history if you wish, but it doesn’t match what you will see ON SCREEN.

            And regarding the Emperor thing – sorry, I thought that was your theory. However, you agree with it, even though it can easily be dismissed – see above point.

          • Bill  March 30, 2013

            The problem isn’t who came up with these theories, it’s the fact that this blog is continually over run with people like you discussing them. Other places are available for this type of bollocks.

      • Anonymous  March 30, 2013

        I’m interested in what Sue has to say about Doctor Who and I love Neil’s writing style. You have a bee in your bonnet about various things – all of them tedious. Maybe if you started a blog named ‘A Bee in My Bonnet: My Thoughts About Doctor Who’ then you might gather an appreciative audience. But splurging on the back of someone else’s popular blog strikes me as particularly bad behaviour.

        • Nick Mays  March 31, 2013

          I’m afraid there seems to be a consensus here John. Quite seriously, why don’t you start your own Dr Who blog? It’s not as if every theory you expound is total bollocks and I like a good debate on UNIT dating as much as the next man (even if the answer is “The Time War”!)

          How about it?

          • Jazza1971  March 31, 2013

            You know, there’s actually a lot of merit in this. A blog for people to vent their spleen and ideas. I think it could work.

          • Frankymole  April 1, 2013

            Actually the only response needed to UNIT dating is “read ‘About Time’ and ‘TimeLink'”.

            At least anyone who seriously debates it (elsewhere please!) should do so.

        • John Williams  March 31, 2013

          That comment was mine of course. I’ll lend you some webspace to get you going.

          • Nick Mays  March 31, 2013

            John W – your book sounds very interesting. Any details you can share at this stage?

        • John Miller  March 31, 2013

          I am very interested in these “theories”, because they are not “theories”, they are the official word of the people who actually created the show. I naively assumed that if someone creates a body of art, and explicitly states something both in the show, and in the real world, that what they say has merit. And is most certainly not just another “fan theory”. I make it a point to try and find out what the actual authorial intent of the people who made something was. And I don’t consider it to be “appalling”, “tedious” or just one of several interpretations. Clearly, Messrs Thomas and Williams don’t feel the same way. For them the intentions of the creator(s), central to the final product is something to be dismissed, and actually discovering the intent is “tedious”.

          I too am fascinated by Sue’s response to watching Dr Who. Since it really is going in blind. Her reactions/responses are very interesting indeed, as are her interpretations.

          To Neil and Sue, I apologise if I have offended you, or overstepped a mark.

          • John Williams  March 31, 2013

            John – I don’t need lecturing about the “people who actually created the show” thanks very much. In fact I’m currently spending most of every day writing a biography of one of those people so I’m more than familiar with their intentions. All I’m saying is that you hijack every single comment thread on someone else’s blog to spout your stuff and it’s boring. Very, very boring.

          • Anonymous  March 31, 2013

            You can write songs about it and the hint still doesn’t get taken…

          • John Miller  March 31, 2013

            Again, to Neil and Sue, if I have done something to offend either of you, I truly am sorry.

            To John Williams, it would be very easy to lower myself to your playground-namecalling level, but what’s the point? I couldn’t care less what you think of me, or what you think or say about anyone else for that matter.

          • Nick Mays  March 31, 2013

            John M – I know I mildly take the p— sometimes, and no real offence meant to you (or anybody else) by it but some of the comments to you have validity. It’s not that all of what you say is pointless or without merit, I mean that quite genuinely, but I think you have to try to see that you do tend to hijack the blog frequently for your own theories and then seemingly get upset with any contrary viewpoints put forward.

            I think all of us on here genuinely love the series, even when it bugs us. I certainly don’t like ALL of Nu-Who, but I still love the central conceit of Dr Who, because it literally has been a part of my life since I was a toddler!

            Quite seriously then – why don’t you start your own blog and, say, examine different Dr Who stories each time and get discussions on continuity or writer’s intentions etc. going on each? As long as nobody got overly offensive (or easily offended), then it shouldn’t get out of hand. Do think about it. I’d certainly be happy to come on board and argue the UNIT dating toss… constructively 🙂

          • Thomas  March 31, 2013

            “For them the intentions of the creator(s), central to the final product is something to be dismissed, and actually discovering the intent is “tedious”.”

            Please stop putting words in my mouth, thank you very much.

          • Wopen Parthomew  March 31, 2013

            John M – As others have suggested, the problem isn’t *what* your opinions are (I agree with much of what you say about the McCoy era), just that you’re putting them forward in an aggressive, humourless, long-winded and repetitive way, and you never take the hint. You’ve been warned by Neil, you’ve got the comments section locked on a number of occasions, yet you still persist. This is a light-hearted blog about the on-screen merits (or otherwise) of the TV stories; there are places for these sorts of discussions, there are places for those types of hardcore fans who take things so seriously they get stroppy with people who disagree with them – and this isn’t it. You make the comments section a chore to wade through. It’s fiction. It’s done, it’s not important. We’re just havin’ some fun, stop being such a party pooper and just chill the heck out.

          • John Miller  April 1, 2013

            Wopen, I can’t agree with you. Yes, this is a lighthearted blog about the tv show. However, a)I wasn’t the one making malicious personal attacks, b) I haven’t started anything. If someone says “Ace has a flashback to 1972”, and not in a humorous way, I stated otherwise. Part of the merits and enjoyment of a television show is understanding it, and understanding what the creators were aiming for.c)I have made mostly lighthearted comments, that others have interpreted as humourless. Maybe there’s so…ething in what Thomas says…

          • Nick Mays  April 1, 2013

            FFA! You always have to explain it in meticulous detail don’t you John? So come on – what about starting your own blog? Can I have a meticulous reply on that? I was being serious about it!

          • Polarity Reversed  April 1, 2013

            Sorry to poke a sore spot – but why does it matter so much to you?
            Various posters have engaged, often agreeing with you, about authorial intent and other points.
            As I’ve said before on here, I think (remember that – it’s my opinion, not the Gospel according to Verity/Terry/Barry/Target/DWM/Mattel/Big Finish/_add your own here_) that the enduring strength of Dr Who is that for over half a century now, it has been able to mean different things to different people. You can take from it what you want.

            The show is an adored part of our lives, and shaped a lot of us in identifying with a hero that thought rather than shot, but it isn’t a religion with sacred texts. John – look up your namesake sometime, who retold a story centuries after the event, for a specific audience and got (inter alia) the date of a rather important meal wrong.

            Lighten up!

  47. Philip Clarke  March 30, 2013

    Just happened to be reading the piranids of mars entry and sue says “One of these days, the Doctor will open that door and he’ll be killed straight away. That’ll teach him.”

    Wonder if that’ll ever happen

  48. Polarity Reversed  March 31, 2013

    Must say, I prefer this blog on its own terms – ee, hasn’t wotsisface off Triangle let himself go?; That Cyberman on the left is pissed (apparently he was, love); Nice carpentry, but didn’t understand a word; that was really good, that bit, but what happened to thingy, why did he, why did she, etc.

    Rather than endless forays into circular poststructuralist arguments. Or, to lapse into lazy modern vernacular, “going meta!” over every little thing.

    Everything has its time and space, eh?

    A simple plea:
    Can we please wish our hosts on through to the conclusion of their mammoth undertaking, which has obviously given us all a lot of enjoyment? And not turn it into a gladiatorial arena over whether the backgrounds on the back of Weetabix packets were canon, or whether the Janis Thorn was a metaphor for Hinchcliffe’s attitude to Friedmanite economics and K9’s underappreciated role in the the gay liberation movement.

    • Wopen Parthomew  March 31, 2013

      Yes please. It’s very very tiresome.

  49. John Williams  March 31, 2013

    Nick – I’m writing a biography of Malcolm Hulke. Hopefully will be out before the end of the year.

    • Nick Mays  March 31, 2013

      Wow!!!! Excellent! My absolute fave Target author (Ian Marter and Uncle Tewwance close runners-up). I’ll look forward to that! Mac Hulke is sadly overlooked nowadays, as is David Whiitaker.

  50. steve  March 31, 2013

    Ye-Gads you really are stringing these last couple of stories out!! Upload already!!!

  51. Dave Sanders  April 1, 2013

    A quick head’s up while we’re still on the subject of Marc Platt: all four episodes of the Fifth Doctor Big Finish audio The Cradle Of The Snake are currently up on BBC iPlayer courtesy of Radio 4, and it’s brilliant. Platt does the Mara, and already you should have an inkling of how this is going to go, and yes, it’s HORRIFYING.

    • Thomas  April 1, 2013

      Oooh, thanks for that. I’ll definitely have to check it out.

  52. Leroy  April 1, 2013

    I can’t wait to read her reaction to the Eccleston era. Coming at it from her unique perspective, and with so much of the show’s history in her head, will make for some fascinating reading over the next few months. I think you can get caught up completely in time for the 50th anniversary. Very exciting to have this blog to carry us through the year!

    • Nick Mays  April 1, 2013

      Yep, and I’d heard they’d uncovered all the missing episodes of The Space Pirates in time for a 50th anniversary release on DVD.

      April 1st. Nice try. 😀

  53. P. Sanders  April 1, 2013

    I love Ghost Light.

    I also love this blog, especially seeing Sue’s affection for McCoy grow and grow (it may not be her favourite era, but will he be her favourite Doctor..?). Sadly I’m finding the comments section hard going – over the McCoy years it’s gone from being a fun space for folk to share opinions to diatribes and bickering. Perhaps it’s because this era is so divisive, but still it feels at times more like one of those fan forums I’ve read about so often. It’s a shame.

    • Neil Perryman  April 2, 2013

      If I had more time, I’d moderate the comments better but I’m so busy, I don’t have the time to do it. Hence the delay to Fenric. Sorry.

      • P.Sanders  April 2, 2013

        Ach don’t be silly Neil, it shouldn’t have to be your job to keep the discussions in check. People are grown up enough to know how to talk to each other. You’ve got enough to be getting on with.

        • Shana  April 4, 2013

          This era is a very divisive one. I suspect things will settle down once we start commenting on 21st century Who. (Yes, of course this blog is carrying on. I don’t buy into the idea that the show ended with McGann. Sue’s insights into more recent episodes will be very interesting in light of her journey from 1963. To stop in 1996 would just be stupid, and disappointing to all of us who have followed this blog for so long… end rant.)

          • Robert Dick  April 4, 2013

            Right from the outset – and repeatedly since – Neil’s said the blog would end with the McGann Movie so it’s not as though anyone left ‘disappointed’ hasn’t had time to prepare themselves.

          • Nick Mays  April 4, 2013

            Exactly!

            It’s (nearly) the end, but the moment has been prepared for…

          • Wopen Parthomew  April 4, 2013

            Blithely assuming they’re going to carry on ain’t going to work – anyone who’s been following this blog knows that they’re doing ‘Classic Who’ and the TVM only. This very entry explains exactly why they’re not doing the new series – it’s too slickly made, it’d be pointless and no fun at all reading Sue going, “This is nice” and “I like this bit”.

            I think you’re reading a different blog to the rest of us if you think Sue is providing insights beyond what’s superficially on screen. She’s not Phil Sandifer, she’s not examining metatextual relationships or qlippothic whatnots, she’s just saying, “this looks cheap” and “he looks a bit like that other actor”, and cracking some corking gags – and that’s why we love it. It’s Mystery Science Theatre 3000 for Doctor Who.

          • Polarity Reversed  April 4, 2013

            I agree with Neil’s decision.
            If for no other reason that I don’t think WiS should become the blog equivalent of those tiresome nostalgia clip shows parading every wet-behind-the-ears alt-comedian that ever dragged their unfunny behinds up to Edinburgh in hope of winning a year’s supply of Perrier going misty eyed about the halcyon days of their youth in 2010…

          • Polarity Reversed  April 4, 2013

            … not sure I’d have even bothered with the TVM myself, but chacun a son Who.

          • DPC  April 4, 2013

            21st century WHO has different controversies, but as long as people stick to what’s televised and don’t namecall each other…

            It’s great this blog is doing 21st century WHO, since I’ve rewatched some of it (mostly Eccleston’s era), and my opinions have changed since their initial airing…

            To stop it at 1996 would be sad as well…

  54. Neil Perryman  April 5, 2013

    “It’s great this blog is doing 21st century Who…”

    For the last time, we are not doing the new series. Blimey.