Doctor Doctor Who Guide

The hoo-ha has begun to simmer down, and the dust is beginning to settle, thank God. I've been admitted into hospital recently, with something nasty that made me go a horrible shade of yellow. I was naturally panicked and distraught. How bad was this thing, this thing in my body that made me go this funny colour? Then the doctors in their natty little trousers suits told me I was to stay for a while longer. The discharge date began to run away with itself, as though it hated the thought of my freedom as my bodily functions continued to do their own impression of the colours of the rainbow. To be honest, I was petrified. The discharge date was edging ever closer to March 26th. Someone up there hated me - it was obvious. Nine years waiting, hoping, for new Who, and here I was banged up in hospital with the dreaded lergy ... and yet again would miss that blasted TARDIS.

Just as I was thinking of bribing Gloria the nurse, they let me go. A whole 24 hours before the start of Rose. Not only that, they gave me a sick note. I'm sure it said something about my illness in there somewhere, but all I saw was ROSE, THE END OF THE WORLD, THE UNQUIET DEAD and ALIENS OF LONDON. I would not have to go to work on Saturday night for a whole month. Think about it. Nine years waiting for a month off work to watch the new series. Someone up there is laughing their head off at this sad little man.

This week, I returned the promise to come see my parents in the wilds of Yorkshire at the same time as my brother and his fiancee. We all ate dinner (lasagne), then as usual, sat in front of the television to watch Doctor Who. My Brother and Jo sat on the sofa together with a half-wry smile and chuckled at a couple of the Doctor's jokes, Mum went upstairs as she's never been one for being scared, and I was comedy-glaring everyone who made the slightest of noise. Bloody Hell. This was not Christmas 1869. This was Christmas 2005, surely? I thought afterwards, the ten year old inside me still alive with the ghostly Gelth. My family, altogether, with Doctor Who on the telly. That bloody illness was worth it, just for this 45 minutes of sheer happiness, enthralled in a good old Victorian ghost story Who-style. And what a story. I've heard criticism that these episodes are too slight, but like Charles Dickens may have said, a good story is a good story, regardless. Had this been made in the 70s instead of Talons of Weng-Chiang, it would have been elongated to maybe six episodes with more chases, a secret lair and a few more murders thrown in. But this is the present day, and television story-telling may have changed, but it still serves the production teams who know the tools of their trade, and all involved with The Unquiet Dead so obviously did. Old British traditions like the telling of short ghost stories are alive and well, and still entertaining families, over a hundred years after they came to popular appeal.

Here we have the risen dead, a cadaver animated by ghostly apparitions who strangles her mourning relative, bursts out of her coffin and takes to the streets. Hot on her heels are the undertaker and his servant with the second sight, and not long after, a mysterious stranger and a girl from far, far away. As she wreaks havoc at Charles Dickens' reading and the crowd flee in terror, Rose is kidnapped as all around them, horses pull carraiges through the shadows as the snow falls on gas-lit streets. The whole desperate situation culminates in a seance, then our heroes being trapped in the morgue by the unquiet dead as their time runs out. This, my friends, is pure Doctor Who. We're all fans here, lets skip past the interesting culture now, much of the plot (as it will already be seared onto your brains like a pattern in a circuit board), and the acting of third zombie but one. Never before has this reviewer been constantly on edge with Who moment after Who moment. Basque with me for a while. The corpse rising from the coffin and strangling Redpath. Same manky old woman lumbering towards the screen, only shutting her mouth so we can catch the full evil-ness of her eyes. The Doctor standing away from the main conversations, interjecting only when he could turn everything on its head. The Doctor suddenly appearing in a doorway - was he always there? The conversation with Dickens in the cab. Rose being kidnapped. Allusions to the real nature of the Doctor during a seance to raise aliens. The time travelers trapped in a morgue full of zombies. Saying farewell to Dickens, and saying something that perhaps shouldn't be said. Charles Dickens laughing out loud at the very end.

Yes my dears, Christmas came early this year. One sad little man is very, very happy indeed. And still has Aliens of London to come.

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