A Brief Note About Doctor Who's The Giggle.

TV  Evening.  As ever, this is not a review but I did have to say something after that spectacular finale of the 60th anniversary mini-series.  All three episodes have been superb, twisted versions of the alien invasion, base under siege and evil antagonist stories which have made up 95% of all Doctor Who since it began along with the "pure" historicals and Moffat loops.  Knowing that his strength isn't writing traditional multi-Doctor stories - which have become a bit old hat anyway really - RTD2 decided to offer up three brilliant examples of what Doctor Who can be, which is why he's one of the greatest writers this show and television in general has ever seen.

But of course Russell isn't afraid to also do something controversial and here we are with the bi-generation, his version of the multi-Doctor story in which the current incumbent gets to team up with the one will come after him, in this case the utterly beautiful Ncuti Gatwa, who himself is instantly the Doctor as well, the Mavic Chen ("with his masterplan") name-dropper.  The whole thing's turned on its head again, with the two of them totally in love with one another instead of being ridiculous chippy, different people with the same core being.  As the writer says on the commentary track, we've seen the regeneration as a negative enough times now.  Let's make it a happy occasion.

There'll probably be a number of reactions to this.  There'll be those who're cross because Ncuti didn't get the usual regeneration, popping out of the previous incumbent in the final moments of the episode, his first line "No way!" instead of some crack about his dental work or colour of his hair, sharing the limelight, a supporting player in the story of the Fourteenth Doctor.  That from now onwards, there'll be two contemporary Doctors, one parked on Earth, the other the protagonist going forward, the audience forever wondering why the Fourteenth Doctor doesn't step in the next time there's a global threat.  What happened during the Dalek occupations?  Hey?  Hey!?!

Firstly, I loved that this is how the Fifteenth's been introduced.  It's not unprecedented that current and future incarnations share the screen.  The finale of Deep Breath featured the Eleventh Doctor phoning forward to reassure Clara and the viewers that the angry Scots staggering about the street was still the same person (even if the rest of the season seemed designed to disabuse us of that).  The Watcher, an ambiguous manifestation of the Doctor's next incarnation followed Fourth around until the right moment and manifests in later regenerations elsewhere.  Think of it as the Pudsey Cutaway happening during The Parting of the Ways or something.  A taster of who's to come.

What about the idea that there will be two contemporary Doctors going forward existing simultaneously?  Well, there's already over a dozen incarnations swirling around one another in time and space, every now and then bumping into one another, in periods of dire emergencies or in the case of some comics licensees because it's a publication day.  Ncuti is still the same "Time Lord" going forward with all of the Fourteenth Doctor's memories if not the emotional baggage.  |It's just that there's another one branched off, enjoying a well earned retirement buzzing away now and then for a mini-adventure but otherwise happy to put his feet up and leave the running to his older self.

In the commentary for the episode, Russell suggests that because of the events at the close of this episode, every regeneration is now a bi-generation, with each incarnation finding themselves whole again in the spot where they originally made the change, their future selves having already headed off into new adventures, their own TARDIS nearby.  Which apart from making a whole bunch of spin-off stories much easier to place (the First Doctor's adventures with John and Gillian Who clearly happening after The Tenth Planet or not having to cram Season 6B in before Spearhead from Space), explains a lot of what Tales from the TARDIS was about.

Russell says that his aim is to loosen up some of the canonical rules (perhaps with an eye to giving the spin-offs more flexibility).  The Doctor's life is a series of branches with the Eighth Doctor awakening on Karn not long after the War Doctor's plunged into the fire, much to the surprise of the sisterhood.  Having sworn them to secrecy, still knowing that the universe needs to think that he's strayed to the dark side, dusts himself off and heads back into time, helping where he can, perhaps pretending to be his pre-regenerative self until such time that he get back to saving the universe on his own terms.  Corridors of new narrative possibilities have been opened up.  

What if, for example, it's the Fourteenth Doctor who becomes the Curator?  That would explain why he's so mysterious when encountering his younger selves, consolidating the person he is rather than moving forward.  He's still a "Time Lord" so he'll still regenerate when necessary, but instead of turning into a Ncuti clone, he continues to revisit some of the old faces, largely staying in one place and time but lending a hand as a mentor when necessary.  When Donna begins her job at UNIT, perhaps he decides to become a Curator of UNIT's Black Archive, a place which, like the TVA in Loki, exists outside of time.  But I've strayed off topic.

The point is, don't think about any of this too much.  The Doctor wasn't around for Torchwood's Miracle Day (or Children of Earth), just as what's left of the current version of that team aren't shown during The Giggle (they're probably off somewhere killing each other).  So the Fourteenth Doctor isn't helping the Fifteenth Doctor at every global catastrophe going forward because XYZ is happening off screen and don't worry about it, that's for future spin-off writers to cope with.  Sometimes you just do what's right for the story you're currently telling and in this case, the story was told very well.  Sorry, that turned into a bit of a review there.  Must keep an eye on that.

Additional:  Having slept on this, I think RTD views Doctor Who in epochal narrative terms, that everything which has happened up until this point rests on the Fourteenth Doctor's shoulders and we're now in the second Disney epoch with Ncuti, that Tennant represents the end of the a 60 year story arc begun in An Unearthly Child and Ncuti begins another, offering a jumping on point akin to when he first brought the show back.  This kind of intellectual jiggery-pokery is for fans really - most people'll just view it as this really cool thing that happened - but you can bet if the television show's ever rested again, there'll be whole PDAs covering the First Fourteen (or so) Doctor's self inflicted exile on Earth.

Christmas Links #9

 Christmas supplies at risk as Panama Canal suffers drought:
"One of the world’s most prominent trade routes, the Panama Canal, is facing the worst-ever drought on record - prompting fears that Christmas deliveries could be at risk."

"A 200-year-old tradition could come to an end when a Sheffield pub hosts its Christmas carol concert on Boxing Day."

"This holiday season, many Americans will be decorating Christmas trees, lighting Hanukkah candles, building gingerbread houses and savoring time with family and friends."

"Not only has Geoff Stonebanks decked the halls of his home in Seaford, he’s decked 32 Christmas trees and pretty much every surface you can lay your eyes on."

"Forget pricy imported flowers and plastic wreaths, there is plenty of inspiration in the garden – and from British-grown blooms."

"Gifts are personal. Gift guides are not."

"For scores of cable-television purists across the country, Hallmark has established itself as something of a feel-good pharmacy, its shelves lined with pills and potions in the form of holiday-moored movies helmed by Lacey Chabert and a slew of sexless soap stars."

"Royal Mail have released its Christmas survey results."

"These moss balls move in unison, and researchers are okay with not knowing why."

"Christmas may be just around the corner, but there's still time to spice up your festive dinner with a traditional Christmas pudding recipe from the history books.  Here, Richard Fitch, Historic Kitchens Manager at Historic Royal Palaces, reimagines a Victorian recipe that you can make at home just before Christmas day."

In the Bleak Midwinter.

Audio  Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without an Eighth Doctor boxed set now it seems and here's the follow up to November's Audacity, with another three stories featuring the Eighth Doctor's newest companion and the return of one of the audio originals.  Audacity and Charley have become fast friends (as did, by the sounds of the extras Jaye Griffiths and India Fisher who're thick as thieves in the interviews).  But that also means we're straight into the multi-companion structural change of having the Doctor off on his own investigating while his two friends spend most of their time together which Charley back in the seasoned traveller role she also fulfilled with C'rizz.

Although Audacity embraces travelling with the Doctor, it's also through necessity and she's unafraid to note the liberties Eighth and Charley take in their adventures.  When they steal a car in 1940s London, they're depriving someone of their mode of transport at Christmas and Audacity says so.  Charley suggests that the police will probably sort it out.  But its clear that Audacity is right - they've inconvenienced a stranger perhaps at their own critical moment - and although she's then quick to apologise, perhaps this is where one of the fault lines will appear in future stories.  Having introduced the notion that these stories are happening in the original first two seasons, Audacity won't be in the TARDIS crew forever.

Twenty-Four Doors in December

After the Stranded series, we're back at the Doctor's Baker Street house but in an earlier time frame, the 00s before Thomas Brewster converted it into flats.  The Doctor and his friends spend the whole of December here, the adventure structured around an advent calendar, a scene per day which allows for Audacity and Charley's friendship to bed in and for them to become involved in the life of Al Norton, a store Santa for whom fate is swirling around.  John Dorney's script feels like a successor to the old Short Trips at Christmas anthologies, although it is greatly enhanced by Jason Watkins open-hearted portrayal as Norton, trapped by his fears, weaknesses and circumstances.

The Empty Man

All three stories in this boxed set seem to pay homage to A Ghost Story for Christmas and The Empty Man references the format directly, both in the dialogue and the 1940s equivalent of a writer of scary stories who finds himself caught up in just such a mystery.  One of the genre of stories in which time would have continued as normal had the TARDIS not landed and brought along the antagonist, Tim Foley's script wrings out every potential resulting small tragedy not least about the ephemeral nature of one writer's work and how even the best scribes can be forgotten, something which is obviously true of most of us.

Winter of the Demon

Of course, being a totally chill fan, I could be writing about the A-plot of Roy Gill's story, a bread and butter megalomaniacal antagonist summoning a demon from beyond for nefarious gain ala The Daemons or Minuet in Hell with David Robb finally gaining a Doctor Who credit after years of circling.  Or that it's a pleasure to hear a story set in a Scottish metropolis for a change.  But let's face it, the most exciting element of this story is Charley finally gets a bit of romance.  She kisses a guy and for a moment you wonder if she's going to Susan Foreman her way out of the TARDIS (even though all three stories have been about foreshadowing her fate).  Scream!

Placement:  Directly after the Audacity box, but its notable that by the end Eighth, Audacity and Charley are still together which suggests we're going to be seeing more stories.

Christmas Links #8

"Merseyrail customers can make the most of travel around the Liverpool City Region this Christmas, as trains will be running every day over the festive period, except for Christmas Day."

"That is cauliflower."

Schoolgirl determined to help after mum's heartbreaking words at foodbank:
""Libbie Claus" has set up a massive Christmas operation this year to get gifts to children."

"If you ask me what movie I put on first thing in December to get in the holiday spirit I’ll tell you right away that it’s White Christmas. The 1954 musical is a classic for a host of reasons: the sparkling dialogue, the incredible dances with Vera Ellen, the comedy of Danny Kaye, the fantastic costumes by Edith Head, and the indelible voices of Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney."

"The beloved Christmas music created and performed by American Jews."

"M. R. James (1862-1936) is the writer of ghost stories, both the acceptable literary standard-bearer for them and actually pretty bloody radical. In his youth, James saw an inexplicably horrible face through a gap in a fence."

"In 1885, in his house on the south coast of England, high on a fever and cocaine, Robert Louis Stevenson—thus far best known for Treasure Island, and still some distance from a famous author—scrawled down the original Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in just three days, declaring it the best and most important thing he’d ever written."

"See how the leaders of the free world and their families have decked the halls."

"A couple who put a shark sculpture in their driveway say they will decorate it for Christmas after it became a local landmark."

Christmas Links #7

"A COUNCIL which has axed all but one Christmas tree in the community it covers has been branded “Grinches”."

"There might be even more lore about the Star Wars Holiday Special than about the Star Wars universe itself. Aired once in November 1978 on CBS and then locked away beyond the reach of legitimate viewing, it sends Chewbacca back to his home planet to visit his family: his wife, Malla; his father, Itchy; and his son, Lumpy. (Yes. Lumpy.)"

"A Christmas grotto threatened with closure has been spared after councillors voted for it to stay open."

"Shops have reported record sales ahead of Christmas, with top prices paid for turkeys until late in the day. Elsewhere, there was busy trading generally with toy spending up 6% (mainly mechanical and educational toys) and the commercial success of the season being men's cosmetics."

"Half of Shakespeare’s plays would have been lost without it – and it is now among the most valuable books in the world."

"An end-of-Empire chiller, Lot No. 249 stars Kit Harington, Freddie Fox, Colin Ryan, John Heffernan, James Swanton, Jonathan Rigby and Andrew Horton."

"From how we shopped to festive celebrations."

“I think they heard a rumour.”

" A Christmas beer made from green peas and marinated red cabbage has become a festive hit in Iceland. Made by a small Reykjavik brewery, the recipe is inspired by Iceland's Christmas dinner."

Once upon a time, Tiffany commissioned Andy Warhol to illustrate a series of colourful greeting cards. Capturing the joy and whimsy of Christmas, these were offered each December from 1957 until 1962, the year Warhol debuted his iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans.

Christmas Links #6

An early Christmas present for the Eighth Doctor:
"She's back – and it's about time! India Fisher returns today for three brand-new full-cast audio dramas from Big Finish Productions."

"England’s oldest Christmas market has been scrapped after last year’s “massive success” left city leaders worrying over public safety.  A record 320,000 people visited Lincoln’s Christmas Market in 2022, the same year the event celebrated 40 years as the country’s longest-running festive market."

"What's the best Christmas gift you ever received? You probably didn't have to think about it; you knew it in your bones. Today, we're talking about the actual, tangible gift you found waiting for you under the tree and still think about it from time to time."

"The 1958 holiday classic was first released when she was just 13 years old."

"A pub has been reusing the same 77-year-old Christmas decorations in its public bar for more than 60 years."

"The festive season wasn’t always about mince pies and wanton consumerism. In fact, ancient folklore was more O Holy Fright than O Holy Night."

"This holiday season ERIKS Industrial Services is taking a step forward by foregoing the traditional indoor Christmas tree and planting a Norwegian spruce outside their Oldbury site."

"Dear Miss Manners: Over the years, I’ve maintained a special fondness for the act of writing and addressing Christmas cards to about 50 friends (old and new) and family members. I find taking a moment to think of valued relationships, even if only once a year, to be heart-warming and restorative."

"After getting loose on Sunday, the animals wandered on to the A11, forcing police to temporarily close the road in both directions for around two hours."

"In the early 1900s, Vienna-based surgical instrument maker Erwin Perzy was asked to create a bright surgical lightbulb, but instead, he invented the snow globe."

Christmas Links #5

 BBC Radio Merseyside: Sing Along with Santa:
"Fancy a little sing along with Santa this Christmas?  Then gather your loved ones for a very special event at BBC Radio Merseyside!"

"A break over the holidays is the perfect time for a lot of things: seeing your family, catching up with friends, eating a ton, reflecting. But most important of all, it’s a great time to watch a lot of TV, including the episodes made specifically for this time of year."

"Festivus is here! Which means it’s time to unbottle any pent-up anger to confront whatever or whoever has gotten under your skin this year – and later this month the Tampa Bay Times will publish these grievances."

"The Belvedere is one of the Georgian Quarter's many great pubs."

"Real talk: how does Santa get down the chimney? Mac Barnett has been wondering since he was a little kid."

"From making the perfect present to finding the cheapest way to send it, here’s how to spread festive cheer on a budget."

"A Christmas grotto that was built without planning permission could be ordered to be taken down by a council."

"'A very Mary Christmas'- Richard Slee reports on Tudor Christmas celebrations at Portsmouth's historic dockyards."

"Jen Hogan: And yet the complicated and complex operation of household appliances and in particular the lowly washing machine, remains a mystery to them."

"NI’s leading retail and leisure destination, The Junction, is on the lookout for NI’s most playful pup as it looks to appoint an official doggie toy tester in the run up to Christmas."

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1986.

If like me you're old enough to remember when your school had a single computer and it was a BBC Micro, you'll perhaps also have some memory of contributing to The Domesday Project.  There's full information below and access to a very good online emulator.  For the first time in decades I can have a look at the database and see if anything my primary school, Stockton Wood in Speke was actually included.

It was.  Most of the content is by Class 4S, the other cohort in the 4th year juniors (what's now called Year 6) who contributed the introduction, shopping survey (more seats, a sports shop, less litter) and a number of poems ("People say Speke is terrible / But I do not think so / AND I LIVE HERE!").    The section about Liverpool Airport is from "C.H. Elwood and class 4E" who also penned the entry about Speke Hall.  

Nothing I wrote has been included.  But Sonia Ely (who I only vaguely remember but recognise from her photo at Liverpool Airport) managed to get her interview with Reverend Amos from All Saints Church in and the entry about All Saint's Church is by Sharon Wycherley who I do remember (and was featured in a Liverpool Echo piece about the Fusion Festival in 2018 when she was 44 so that tracks).  We used to sit in the playground making daisy chains together.

The only photograph is the one above, of the roundabout at junction of Central Avenue and Western Avenue, which I remember well because my own house on Lovel Road was about half a kilometre directly ahead.  I'd also have to get off the bus on that corner sometimes when getting the bus back from secondary school.  I once told a girl I had a crush on that loved her standing next to that red telephone box.  She laughed in my face.  Good memories.

Here's roughly the same place, as close as I can get on Google Maps.  Some things have been renewed, the phone box has gone and you can see what the latest buses look like.  This view was taken in 2021.  Scrolling a bit further up the roads takes us unto April 2023 and even that junction box has gone.  The roundabout is still there but couldn't get a good angle.  The trees are still there too, but older.  The more the world is changing, the more it stays the same.

The only occasion I was able to use the project itself was for a limited time at Central Library, where it was hidden in a wooden television display case on the stage in the old International section (where the children's books are now).  I ventured up gingerly and sat in front of it, but was frankly too young to have the patience to navigate the various screens (something which is still cumbersome today).  Incredible achievement just slightly to early to be done justice by the technology.

The Domesday Project

"In 1986, 900 years after William the Conqueror’s original Domesday Book, the BBC published the Domesday Project. The project was probably the most ambitious attempt ever to capture the essence of life in the United Kingdom. Over a million people contributed to this digital snapshot of the country."
[Domesday Reloaded @ The National Archives]

"A segment from BBC Newsround in November 1986 about the Domesday Project. With footage from the Acorn Domesday exhibition stand."
[The Centre for Computing History]

"In addition to offering access to a number of working BBC Domesday systems here at the museum, we wanted to share a virtual method of exploring the system through an emulator that works in your browser.  You can explore the discs of the BBC Domesday system in a fully emulated BBC Master with an LVROM player."
[Centre for Computing History]

"Domesday86 is a project that aims to recreate the experience of the original BBC Domesday project using modern hardware and software. On this site you will find a growing collection of documentation for the original Acorn/BBC Domesday project as well as details of the Domesday86 project itself."

"Jeffrey Darlington, Andy Finney and Adrian Pearce describe the groundbreaking BBC Domesday Project of 1986, and explain how its unique multimedia collection has been preserved."

"The BBC Domesday Project began in 1986 when the public were invited to contribute images and text about their local areas for hosting on a leading edge technology of the day, the Advanced Interactive Video System. In 2011, the project was very successfully resurrected as the Domesday Reloaded Project with new contributions and as an online resource on the internet."
[Computer Weekly]

"The entry for Stanford in the Vale and the surrounding area, created by children at the Primary School, is repeated below. It provides a unique "snapshot" of the village as it was 38 years ago."
[Stanford in the Vale]


"This colour documentary film presented by Mark Curry from the BBC's Blue Peter programme, follows the work of the BBC Blue Peter appeal in 1986 that raised over two million pounds for the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind (Sightsavers) in Africa."
[Screen Archive South East]

"In July 1982, a 42-year-old addict in a San Jose, California jail became paralyzed--unable to move or talk. His symptoms, caused by a bad batch of synthetic heroin, were indistinguishable from those associated with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative nerve disorder that strikes the elderly."
This is a Horizon/NOVA programme with the US voiceover.

"This week's Antiques Roadshow comes from Ipswich Town Hall in Ipswich, Suffolk and features a three train musical bracket clock made by the 18th Century London clockmaker Thomas Gardner."
[BBC Rewind]

"Two series of compilations from Micro Live."
[BBC Computer Literacy Project Archive]


"Preparations underway for McGuigan boxing fight and rugby international match.  Report shows British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Outside Broadcast (OB) unit setting up satellite dishes and other television equipment."

"This is a story of treachery, death and retribution."
[Off The Telly]

"From out of an empty black screen, a solo accordion sounds a couple of chords. Then, a harmonica strikes up a wistful tune, a lilting accompaniment falls in behind, and the picture suddenly lights up to reveal the features of a gruff man buried deep in a trench coat, hat pulled down low, furtively leaning against a lamppost."
[Off The Telly]

"Paul Jackson visits the purpose-built TV studios of the longest running medical drama in the world. Born out of necessity (as a weapon in the weekly battle for audience-share on Saturday nights) "Casualty" has become one of BBC 1's most consistent performers."
[BBC Sounds]

'It has always been heavily censored. When the show started, we weren't even allowed to say the word toilet'
[The Guardian]

"Eamonn Holmes is joined live via satellite from Melbourne by the cast of Neighbours - the Australian soap opera that has rapidly become a phenomenon in the UK.  Originally broadcast 13 October, 1987."
[BBC Archive]


"In the aftermath of the recent General Election, it is worth remarking upon the increasingly symbiotic relationship between politics and the media."
[Off The Telly]

"This report is published in the 50th year of BBC Television. It is hard to equate the vitality which has produced EastEnders, Yes Minister and Crimewatch with an institution venerable enough to have been responsible for the world's first national television mission 50 years ago. Yet looked at per way, BBC Television has been td long enough to prove that today's programmes are part of a tradition of excellence on which the British public can rely, whether in drama, comedy, and factual programming or, indeed, in sport, music, entertainment, education, news or current affairs."
[World Radio History] 

Christmas Links #4

My Block, My Hood, My City lights up King Drive for the holidays
"The group "My Block, My Hood, My City" mobilized a small army of volunteers to light up King Drive for the holidays Saturday."

"NPR's Asma Khalid asks Palestinian Christians Munther Issac and Tamar Haddad about their efforts to convince American lawmakers to support a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas."

Handpicked festive music for every Christmas occasion!

"The department store boasts its own grotto for pets to have some festive face time with Santa … and business is brisk."

"Julian Pettifer reports on the Christmas angel decorations that hung in London's Regent Street in 1960, and how they found their way to Regent St, Mansfield. Introduced by Kenneth Allsop."

"People have always used the holiday season to celebrate and delight in the wonders of Christmas, from singing carols to decorating the home, to gatherings with family and friends, and drinking hot cocoa and egg nog. Most who celebrate would also add watching classic Christmas movies to that list."

"There are many ways to celebrate in the winter besides just Christmas and Hannukkah."

"When it comes to decorating for Christmas, there are no set rules - but how early - or late - do people start to trim their tree?"

"It's a fairly unremarkable station at first glance, but it's inspired a chilling Christmas tale."

Christmas Links #3


"The tree, on High Road, South Benfleet, was unveiled as part of festive celebrations throughout the town. However, it was met with ridicule by the public for its “embarrassing” appearance."

"36-minute performance is the centerpiece of upcoming The Benefit Concert Volume 20, documenting Warren Haynes' annual benefit show."

"With Christmas fast approaching, locals gather at the pub for a payout from the Christmas Club, and talk over what they plan to spend their savings on."

"From an iconic leg lamp to an antique escalator in a New York department store."

"From the perfect stocking filler to a Secret Santa surprise, our handy gift guide's got you covered. With top titles for everyone on your list, find a book they'll cherish, this Christmas and beyond."

"Another chance to listen and watch a selection of BBC Proms concerts over the festive period on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Sounds."

"John Clague's colourful film captures those last exciting days before Christmas – with Christmas trees and Christmas lights all ready for the big switch-on."

"It’s the holiday season. A time of giving and so I thought I’d give you some fun festive activities! I loved fun little things like these as a kid it’s been a project I’ve been thinking about for ages. Well I finally did it. Here are some fun for all ages. Also if you make the decoration cube I’d love to see so please tag me if you follow me on social media.  All print offs are A4 size."

"Peterborough's Ferry Meadows is hosting its first ever Winter Festival, which will raise money for the upkeep of the park."