Memo to Russell T. Davies: Re Doctor Who


You have done, without doubt, the most amazing job at reinventing Doctor Who. You are, without argument, a superb writer and a visionary Executive Producer. Your place in heaven is assured. You have my unerring admiration for not just bringing Doctor Who back but for ensuring that it’s better than it’s ever been. Thanks.

A few minor points:

Sometimes Small Works.
The big budget, apocalyptic , end of the world thing is part of Doctor Who. But many of the great Who moments have been very small. Tom Baker’s ‘have I the right?” speech in Genesis of the Daleks springs to mind. Classics from the classic series are often marked by understatement. The Curse of Fenric is so subtle it’s almost oblique and the tragedy in the Tomb of the Cybermen is touchingly personal and the Caves of Androzani hangs on the Doctor saving Peri. The entire universe doesn’t need to be at stake to engage us.

Let Tennant Act More
These ‘small moments’ (like the end of the Parting of the Ways) need a good actor and David Tennant is superb. He could be the best Doctor ever, he might even be better than Tom Baker. So please, let’s have lots more of him. He’s good when he’s shouting or running. He’s great when he’s flying the Tardis. But he’s best when he playing the Doctor as vulnerable, lost and almost lonely.

Enough Jesus Already
We’ve had the resurrection (Last of the Time Lords) and the ascension (Voyage of the Damned) so there’s not much more Jesus to ape. But please, no more. Oh, and the kissing has to stop too.

You’d better be right about Catherine Tate.
Enough said.

Don’t Listen to the Fans
On no account take a scrap of notice of the old fans. Doctor Who is about thrilling and petrifying the average 9 year old, imbuing them with subversion and ensuring they know that good can win. What a 30-something bloke, who should have better things to worry about, thinks is entirely unimportant.

11 thoughts on “Memo to Russell T. Davies: Re Doctor Who”

  1. I take that back.

    I hate Russell T Davies beyond telling and I will NEVER forgive him for what he just did.


  2. Ok, Partners in Crime was pretty darn good. So maybe no need to be too worried. ;o)

  3. I loved it! I particularly loved “long skinny string of alien stuff” or whatever it was she called him at the end.

  4. “Enough Jesus Already”


    The good guys developing godlike powers to fight off invincible enemies at the end of series’ 1 & 3 struck me as RTD writing himself into a corner & as somewhat unimaginative for it to happen twice. Not to mention the Doctor flying through the air flanked by angels off to save Kylie, etc, etc, etc. This from the writer of Second Coming…

    “Let Tennant Act More”

    Double amen & several genuflections. The Doctor becoming human had to be an all-time highlight for me.

    And I’d like to add –

    Remove Torchwood from the mercy of writers better suited to Hollyoaks.
    I can see what he’s trying to do – a sci-fi series with adult relationships (ie Farscape with worse acting) but everyone running round convinced they’re ‘in love with’ – as opposed to fancying slightly – virtually everyone else they work with & anyone they come across who doesn’t have a fish for a head doesn’t constitute ‘adult’ relationships. Farscape worked because the plots came first & the characters developed around them, not ‘Tosh & Jack haven’t snogged yet, let’s come up with an excuse to make that happen’.

  5. …And here we go again. Our gnostic messiah adds Household God to his CV.

    MHO is that in ‘Second Coming’, RTD tapped into the zeitgeist of that time – namely that the human race had ‘outgrown’ its need for religion*. Now he’s just replacing them with an all-purpose, scientific messiah (possibly 2 if Rose really is coming back). Out with the old & in with the old.

    But then that’s all my baggage. Nonsensical, rambling baggage, too. RTD – please Don’t Listen to the Fans – especially this one.

    * Other TV shows had a similar message eg ‘Babylon 5’ in which angels & devils are there to wean us & can ‘get the hell out of our galaxy’ once their job is done. Or better yet, ‘X-Files’, where our potential saviours turn out to be an even bigger set of ruthless industrialists than the US government.

  6. I’m finding the Doctor’s mathematical utilitarianism a bit distasteful to be honest. I’ve forgotten the exact line from last night, but it was something like “so the whole planet’s under threat? thank you, that’s all I needed to know”. Which came before the “it’s Pompeii or the planet” bit, so it just felt like “one person dying, no big deal; lots of people dying, bad”. In the same way that the Adipose last week only became an issue when “A MILLION PEOPLE WILL DIE!” It’s all very well Donna begging him to just save one person, but you can’t be a messiah unless you care about every halfpenny sparrow that falls on the ground.

    But: “T K Maximus” and (especially) “Caecilius Petrus Dextrus” – you can forgive RTD a lot because of those.

  7. An excellent episode with real atmosphere, I’d say. Some thoughts.

    Loving the latin gags. lovely to see Caecilius in action: hopefully it inspires some kids to take the Cambridge Latin Course and parse those secondon declension words. ;O) For the uninitiated:

    Great acting from Phil Davies and Peter Capaldi among others.

    Catherine Tate is rather good. (Quam clarem?)

    Yes, Sue and Sam, messianic isn’t really really quite right is it? The Doctor is rather more godlike.

    And, again, a bit more set up for the return of Rose. Incidentally, spotted Billie Piper drinking in a pub in Putney on Friday. I was as giddy as a schoolboy. Obviously.

  8. I’ve just watched the latest episode again and am beginning to think I owe Catherine Tate an apology as there apparently is more to her range than ‘shouty Cockney’ after all (though there’s still a lot of shouty Cockney there; indeed, I find myself shouting ‘bovvered’ at the screen from time to time).

    Still, the writing of the Pompeii episode was very strong, especially around the idea of the Doc’s predetermined position in Time (and, yeah, that deserves an uppercase T), and rather I like the idea of him as Benthamite: it shows his remove from humanity and demonstrates his alien viewpoint.

    Also, the name gags worked for me – but then I studied Latin at school. (Caecilius est in horto etc.)

    If this is as bad as it gets then we can rest easy. The series so far has been nowhere near as disappointing as I had expected, and that’s only got to be a good thing.

    Looking forward to Billie’s return…

  9. “I owe Catherine Tate an apology as there apparently is more to her range than ’shouty Cockney’ after all”

    Quite so. She also has ‘whingey, crying cockney’ down to a tee. And I hear she can do comedic old women, too. Here’s hoping the series finale is her pulling an Adric.

    *hangs head in shame that he didn’t spot ‘T K Maximus’*

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top