For the last time – and for one episode only – we are joined by Nicol and Sue’s brother, Gary.
Sue: Survival. That’s a funny title considering it’s the last one.
Nicol: Did they know it was the last one when they were making it?
Me: They suspected as much. The programme was living on borrowed time.
Nicol has stopped listening. She’s too busy laughing at an animatronic cat. Gary sighs deeply as he folds his arms a little tighter.
Me: I don’t know what you’re laughing at, Nicol. I remember when you were obsessed with Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and their fake cat wasn’t much better.
Nicol: You leave Salem out of this.
Sue: Ooh, a crane shot. I’m loving this already.
Nicol: This opening scene reminds me of the new series. That’s where the theme music should go – just after the man disappears.
Sue: The last few stories have reminded me of the new series a lot. Oh look, a Renault 5. I had one of those.
Later, in a park, some children are playing a game of football.
Sue: This has an eerie feel to it. It reminds me of one of those Public Safety films from the seventies.
Me: Never talk to strange cats. I remember it well.
Meanwhile, in a tent.
Nicol: Is it the Master?
Sue: Hey, that’s my line!
Me: Look at the eyes, Sue. The green eyes.
Sue: Is it the Great Intelligence?
Sorry, but I couldn’t resist leading her down the garden path one last time.
The Doctor has brought Ace to Perivale so she can catch up with her mates. Ace searches for them at the local youth club.
Me: Look, Sue. It’s boy band training.
Gary likes this scene. A lot.
Nicol: Did people really look like that in the eighties?
Me: Yes. I wouldn’t leave the house without my backwards-facing baseball cap on.
Nicol: I’m glad I was still a baby when fashion looked like that. I don’t remember it at all.
A self-defence instructor named Patterson tells Ace that a handful of teenagers have gone missing from Perivale, including her.
Sue: The Great Intelligence took them, just like he took Ace. It all makes sense.
Sadly, the suspense is shattered by the howls of derision directed at the fake cat.
So the Doctor goes shopping.
Sue: Ooh, it’s him. And him.
Gary: It’s them.
Sue: Yes, wait, don’t tell me… I know this… Penn and Teller.
I’m laughing so hard, I have to pause the DVD.
Gary: It’s The Management.
Me: Hale and Pace. Hale and Pace!
Sue: Same thing.
Hale and Pace give the Doctor some advice on which cat food to buy.
Sue: Our cats would turn their noses up at those brands. Oh, I like the way the Doctor listened to that lump of cheese. That was a very Doctorish thing to do.
Sue: I really like the direction, too. It’s really good, this.
But she soon changes her mind when Hale (or is it Pace?) find a cat dead in their stockroom.
Sue and Nicol: Nooooooooo!
Sue: Turn it off! I don’t want to watch this. That was horrible!
Gary chuckles to himself. And then Ace meets an old friend who thought she was dead.
Ange: That’s what they said. Either you were dead, or you’d gone to Birmingham.
Even Nicol laughed at that line.
Sue: The Doctor reminds me of Sherlock Holmes. He’s listening and gathering clues. He knows exactly what’s going on.
Gary: I’m glad somebody does.
Sue: Is the music by Mark?
Me: No, it’s Dominic Glynn.
Sue: I love it. This is the best music we’ve had in ages. Sorry, Mark.
The Doctor can’t open his cat food.
Sue: He really needs the sonic back. He needs to buy himself a new one.
Gary: At least the weather is nice.
Sue: Yeah, you don’t get summers like this any more.
The Doctor feeds the local cat population.
Sue: This is me, every single night, feeding the ferals.
We have three feral cats who visit us every evening for food and cuddles. We call them Blake, Avon and Cally. There were five of them but Vila ran away and Servalan had to be put down.
Ace is chilling out in the local playground when she is suddenly confronted by a large cat on a horse.
Sue: I’ve heard of dogging in the park but this is ridiculous.
Nicol: Is that supposed to be a cheetah?
Nicol: Why does the fastest animal in the world need a horse?
Sue: Because it looks good. The direction really is excellent.
Nicol: That’s it – hide in the climbing frame. It can’t possibly get you there.
Me: It’s playing with its food, Nicol. It’s a cat.
Nicol: Okay, I’ll give you that.
Ace makes a run for it.
Sue: Look at this! This is amazing.
Ace is transported to an alien planet.
Sue: I did not expect that! And the music reminds me of Thelma and Louise. I love it.
Ace is pursued by the cat on the horse.
Sue: Ace is very fit.
I say nothing.
Nicol: Ace is just a typical victim.
Sue: You couldn’t be further from the truth, Nicol. Ace won’t scream. She’ll probably try to blow the cat up.
But it’s not all good news:
Sue: The cat person could be a lot scarier. It’s too fluffy. You want to give it a big cuddle.
Nicol: That’s what you say about real cheetahs, Mam.
Ace meets up with her old friends.
Sue: It’s basically Lost with cats.
Nicol: It makes about as much sense as Lost. It reminds me of an amateur production of the musical Cats.
Me: Didn’t you see the poster advertising Cats in the youth club?
Nicol: Sorry, I was probably checking my phone. And was it really such a good idea to draw your attention to the musical? I keep expecting them to break out into song.
Sue has more important things to worry about:
Sue: Do you remember those patterned concrete blocks that you used to get in the eighties? They were very popular. I ****ing hated them.
The Doctor and Patterson are transported to the Planet of the Cheetahs.
Sue: There’s a wild west vibe to this. I really like it.
The Doctor is herded towards a tent. And seated inside this tent is…
Sue: I knew it!
Nicol: Mam! You liar!
Gary shakes his head.
Sue: So is the Master working for the Great Intelligence?
I ask the audience to sum up.
Sue: I loved it.
Nicol: I liked the cats. The real ones, that is.
Gary: The weather was very nice.
Me: Is that all you have to say, Gary?
Gary: What a rubbish way to end a series.
Me: That was just the first episode – there are two episodes left!
Gary: Right, I’m off, then.
Sue: Not for cats!
She’s referring to the kittens feeding on a dead horse. Come on, we’ve all done it.
Sue: Why haven’t they eaten the Master yet? Is it because he’s supplying them with catnip?
Ace transforms her friends into a band of rebels.
Sue: You go, girl. You can tell that this story is written by a woman. The script is excellent.
The Doctor and Patterson escape from the Master on horseback.
Sue: The landscape looks great. They’ve tried this sort of thing before but this is very believable. They’ve finally cracked it. Bit late now, though.
The Doctor describes a cat sunning itself on the ground as:
The Doctor: A kitling. A feline vulture.
Sue: Awww, bless it.
The Master gives one of these kitlings a cuddle.
Sue: At least the Master is a cat person. He can’t be all bad, then.
Sue really likes the incidental music.
Sue: It’s Edge of Darkness meets Miami Vice. It really works.
The kitlings’ next victim is a milkman.
Sue: Cats love milk. They should transport his milk float to the planet while they’re at it.
But the cats don’t snatch the milk away – they’re not that evil.
The Cheetah People attack, and then all hell breaks loose.
Sue: This is a bit naff. I really hope it doesn’t go downhill.
Me: What? The horse?
Sue: No, the story! It was going so well, but now it’s silly.
The Cheetah People start fighting each other.
Sue: I get enough of this at home. Jack and Rose are always at each other’s throats. You just need to distract them with something shiny.
Ace’s friend, Midge, kills a Cheetah Person by plunging a sharp tusk into the poor thing’s stomach.
Sue: NOOOOOOOO! That was horrible!
The Master admits to the Doctor that he is trapped on this planet.
Sue: So he ****ed up again, has he? Why am I not surprised?
The Master’s feral grin emphasises the trouble he’s in.
Sue: That’s his best Ricky Gervais impersonation yet.
The Master howls at the moon.
The Master: A-rooooooooooooooh.
Sue: Oooooooooooh, what a gay day!
Ace decides to help a wounded Cheetah Person. She even lets the creature drink from her hands.
Sue: I can’t watch this scene without thinking of George Galloway and Rula Lenska.
Meanwhile, the Master is cutting up a dead horse.
Sue: Is he stocking up on tasty treats for the cats?
The episode ends with Ace on the turn.
Sue: A brilliant cliffhanger. It’s very good, this. It’s just a shame about the giant cats. Everything else is spot on.
Me: Do you want to watch the last episode?
Sue: I do and I don’t. Part of me doesn’t want this to end. I don’t mean this particular story – the whole thing. I feel a bit sad about it. Stop grinning.
It’s almost the end, but the moment has been prepared for – champagne has been chilling in the fridge all day.
The number of times that I’ve dreamt about this particular milestone: Survival Part Three… There were moments, usually in the middle of a Troughton recon or a Pertwee six-parter, where I would imagine what it would feel like to finally reach this point (assuming that we ever got here). And now that we are here, just like Sue, I have mixed feelings about it.
Despite this, I take the champagne out of the fridge and I pop the cork just as the title sequence explodes on the screen.
Sue: Are you sure? What if there’s a power cut in the middle of this?
Me: Then I’ll buy another bottle.
Sue: You don’t have to get me drunk, you know. I’m not backing out now.
Sue: If Ace has to sacrifice herself at the end to save the Doctor’s life, I will cry.
Ace is bonding with a Cheetah.
Sue: Ooh, slow-mo in Doctor Who. You don’t get that very often. This feels so modern. You wouldn’t think this was 25 years old.
The Master has been transported back to Earth by Midge. The evil Time Lord struggles to control the beast within:
The Master: A stronger mind will hold on itself longer. A will as strong as mine.
Sue: Ace is totally ****ed, then. She is so dead. Or stuffed. One of the two.
Back on the Planet of the Cheetahs, Karra is drinking from a pool.
Ace: I thought cats hated water.
Sue: That’s complete bollocks. Our cats love water. Especially running water.
Karra: I’m not a cat. I’m Karra.
Sue: Why haven’t we got a cat called Karra? I’m disappointed in you, Neil.
The camera swoops over yet another decaying corpse.
Sue: It’s very graphic. The director loves to show a bit of meat in his shots.
The Master controls poor Midge.
Sue: He’s the Master’s bitch, especially with that collar on. The make-up is excellent, though. All of the cats should have looked like this. Still, you can’t have everything.
An infected Ace takes her friends back to Earth.
Sue: Right outside the TARDIS. That’s very interesting. Everything revolves around Ace, doesn’t it? She is definitely the first of the new companions.
Ace is happy to leave.
Sue: It can’t be over, can it? I haven’t finished my first glass yet.
Of course not, the Master is killing cats on a council estate and the Doctor has to stop him.
Sue: Oh look, somebody has dropped strawberry jam on a soft toy. Even I can’t get upset about that.
The dead cat belonged to a little girl.
Me: She’s famous – in the loosest sense of the word – but you’ll never recognise her.
Sue: I bet I will. Pause the DVD.
Sue mulls it over.
Sue: Yes, she was definitely in EastEnders.
Me: No she wasn’t.
Sue: Oh, that is disappointing. OK, is she a pop star? Is it Billie Piper?
Me: No. Look, you won’t get it. It’s Adele Silva.
Sue: Who’s Adele Silva when she’s at home?
I grab the laptop and perform a quick image search. What I end up with is a page of thumbnails with Adele Silva in nothing but lingerie.
Sue: Oh, so that’s how you know her.
I eventually find a picture of Adele from the reality show Hell’s Kitchen, and I manage to save both the experiment and my marriage. Phew.
Midge arrives at the youth club, looking for young men.
Sue: He wants to manage the band.
Midge turns the boy band against Patterson, who is still suffering from shock.
Sue: Did Midge hypnotise the boys, or do they just really fancy him?
The Master struggles to control of his baser instincts.
Sue: That special effect that makes his eyes go on and off is brilliant.
On Horsenden Hill, Ace is confronted by Midge’s gang.
Sue: Death by Musical Theatre company. Nasty.
The Master looks on.
Sue: I have to say, this is one of his weirder plans. I haven’t got a clue what he’s trying to achieve.
The Doctor and Midge ride towards each other on a pair of motorcycles. When they collide, the explosion is impressive and improbable at the same time.
Sue: EH? No one could have survived THAT! Were the bikes carrying nuclear warheads? Hang on… He’s not going to regenerate, is he?
Karra confronts the Master but she gets a tusk in her stomach for her trouble. Her death squeak is very touching.
Me: Top up?
Sue: Yes, please.
Thankfully, the Doctor is still alive.
Sue: He should have landed behind that sofa. That would have been funnier.
Me: That implies that this scene is funny to begin with.
Sue: OK, it would have been funny. This is just… silly. And I ****ing hate fly-tippers.
The Master and the Doctor face each another in the street.
Sue: This actually feels like it’s meant to be the final episode. It feels epic.
It feels even more epic when they end up fighting in the middle of a fire pit. The Doctor raises a skull above his head and prepares to smash the Master’s face in.
Sue: No! Don’t do it! He’s not worth it!
The Doctor regains control.
The Doctor: If we fight like animals, we’ll die like animals!
The Doctor is transported back to Earth.
The Doctor: If we fight like animals, we’ll die like animals!
Me: What did you make of that?
Sue: The first time he said it, it was excellent. The second time he said it, he was asking for trouble.
A woman complains about the noise the cats have been making.
Sue: That could be Rose’s mum.
The Doctor returns for Ace. They walk off into the sunset together.
Sue: Oh, he almost slipped over.
The Doctor: Come on, Ace, we’ve got work to do!
We clink our glasses together.
Sue: You owe me big time.
I punch the air.
Sue: I know you are going to kill me for saying this, but the speech at the end sounded like it was cobbled together at the last-minute. Sorry.
Me: I really like it. It’s optimistic.
Sue: I can see why you were upset about Doctor Who finishing at this point. Just when it was good again. It also explains why you were still banging on about it when I met you. I’ll never be a fan, but they shouldn’t have stopped it there.
Sue: That was almost perfect. Only the fake cats and the fluffy cheetahs let it down. Apart from that, it was a great way to finish. If we’d opened the champagne earlier, I might have given it a 10, but I’m only a bit tipsy, so:
Sue: Does this mean we can get divorced, now?
Me: Well, we still have a little way to go yet. We’ve got The TV Movie for a start, and before that I want to show you a couple of things that will give you a taste of the Interregnum.
Sue: I thought The TV Movie didn’t count.
Me: We’ve been through this before. Of course it counts.
Sue: But Russell T Davies said –
Me: Yes, there’s a character in Queer as Folk who believes that Paul McGann doesn’t count. That doesn’t make it a fact. He counts.
Sue: So why are we drinking Moët? If this isn’t the end, we should be drinking cheap cava!
Me: I’ll get some Dom Pérignon for The TV Movie. I promise.
Sue: So how long until the end?
Me: A couple of weeks at most.
Sue: I’m not watching Shada. Just so you know.
Me: Four more updates and then The TV Movie. Some of these will be very short. It won’t take us long. Trust me.
Sue: Well, I’ve come this far.
Me: Come on, Sue, we’ve got work to do!