Doctor Who: Post Podcast Homework
This week’s podcast was all about Doctor Who. Since it is my all-time favourite television programme, here are some thoughts on my favourite Doctors, companions and villains.
Favourite Doctor: Tom Baker – For me, there is no contest. Tom Baker was mysterious, alien, and a little bit frightening. From the modern era, I’d pick Matt Smith, whose take on the Doctor is very much an old man in a young man’s body, although David Tennant is almost as good, and I’d say the stories from his era were better.
Favourite Companion: Sarah-Jane Smith – Again, a clear favourite for me. Sarah-Jane was introduced in the latter stages of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, but really came into her own during the early Tom Baker era, which also coincided with Philip Hincliffe’s stint as producer. For me, the Hinchliffe years were the golden era of Doctor Who, with virtually every story a classic. The feisty and indomitable Sarah-Jane was a vital part of that. From the newer stories, I’d opt for the wonderful Ponds, Amy and Rory, but Sarah-Jane is still top of the list by some distance.
Favourite Villains – For the purposes of this article, I’m going to pick ten. However, to make it more interesting, I’m deliberately excluding recurring villains the Daleks, the Cybermen, and the Master (who acts as a kind of Moriarty to the Doctor’s Sherlock Holmes) as they turn up so often. To that end, here are ten favourite villains, in no particular order of merit:
Haemovores (The Curse of Fenric) – Vampires have turned up a few times in the series, but never as memorably as in this very dark, World War II set tale.
Vashta Narada (Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead) – Essentially these are shadows that creep towards you and eat you alive. They are the reason mankind has always feared the dark.
Autons (Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons, Rose) – Essentially living plastic controlled by the Nestene Consciousness, these beings manifest themselves by taking control of plastic objects, including (very memorably) mannequins coming to life in shop windows.
The Silence (The Impossible Astronaut, Day of the Moon, and a few others) – Tall, imposing and with faces like Mulch’s The Scream, it is revealed these hideous aliens have been manipulating mankind for centuries through post-hypnotic suggestion. Absolutely terrifying, because when you look away from them, you immediately forget they are there. Plus they can kill with an electrical blast from the fingers. Personally I think they are scarier than the Weeping Angels.
Davros (Genesis of the Daleks, and many other stories) – Creator of the Daleks, Davros is surely one of the most inspired villains of the series, especially given that he is an obvious metaphor for Nazi scientists, and their notorious genetic experiments in concentration camps.
Ood (The Impossible Planet, The Satan Pit, Planet of the Ood, and a few other stories) – Technically these telepathic spaghetti faced creatures aren’t villains, except for when they come under the control of a malevolent entity (like the devil, for instance). When they do however, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Zygons (Terror of the Zygons, and a couple of more recent stories) – The Zygons are a classic amphibious, shape-shifting, body-snatching foe, who also happen to control the Loch Ness monster.
Sontarans (The Time Warrior, The Sontaran Experiment and several other stories) – Admittedly more recently they haven’t been that scary, and have even fought on the side of good. However, in their earlier stories, this genetically bred for war race were properly dastardly, even if they do resemble baked potatoes.
Weeping Angels (Blink, The Time of Angels, Flesh and Stone, The Angels Take Manhattan, plus cameos in a few other stories) – Probably the most memorable villains to be introduced since the programme was restarted in 2005. The Weeping Angels are quantum locked stone angel statues that only move when you aren’t making eye contact with them. But when you look away or blink, they move very fast, and if they get you… bad things happen.
Sutekh the Destroyer (Pyramids of Mars) – The villain of one my all-time favourite story is voiced by the excellent Gabriel Woolf (who also voiced the devil in The Satan Pit). Life itself is Sutekh’s enemy in this superb, curse-of-the-mummy type tale, torn from the pages of Egyptian mythology.
Oh, and post podcast homework is obviously to start watching Doctor Who. Pick it up with the start of the ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), and move through it chronologically. That’s probably the best place for uninitiated modern audiences to begin.