Recent speculation concerning the future of Dr Who, both the identity of its lead and that of the person to take over sitting behind the biggest desk in Cardiff city centre, has had two useful consequences.
First, it means the show can get another mention here again, after all of – ooh – five weeks; and secondly, and more substantially, it allows for a bit of indulgent speculation about alternative writers for the series.
Any new producer should really make it their business to farm out as many episodes as possible to TV veterans, or rather TV writers who haven’t spent all their lives writing Dr Who story books or stories to listen to on tape.
As such, likely contenders who should be given a call ought to begin with:
The Doctor wakes up one morning to discover the TARDIS is trapped inside a kitchen cupboard for which it is both logically and practically too small. Unable to leave the time machine, he puts a call out for Captain Jack Harkness and a circular saw, but when Jack arrives he discovers a version of himself already on the scene sipping tea with the Brigadier. To compound the confusion Julia Sawalha arrives expecting to conduct an interview for her local paper with actor Christopher Biggins. Can the real Doctor – whoever he is – unscramble this conundrum before the kitchen cupboard in question is demolished by a passing bulldozer?
15 different characters, each with their own storyline, mooch around a council estate somewhere in London, bumping into each other and exchanging homilies on the decline of society in 21st century Britain. One of them turns out to be the nephew of Jackie Tyler. Pretty soon the Doctor is on the scene, weaving together a plot that connects up the loose ends and takes in a syringe, a dangerous dog, extortion, a betting slip, various nationalities and a mouthy kid with all the answers.
A blip in the time-space pulse rate sends the Doctor hurtling into the body of someone called Doctor John Smith working in the accident and emergency unit of Totters Lane General Hospital. When someone gives birth – very messily – on the floor of a corridor, at the same time as a container of offal goes missing from the tatty staff canteen, an inquiry begins led by the shifty-looking Professor Dave Ross. Soon the Doctor is put on trial – for his life. But just what does the Professor want with all those discarded hospital bathchairs?
Earth in the 1930s. A fashionable hotel on the south coast of England is playing host to a gathering of bright young things during the Whitsun weekend, but a conference of travelling notepaper salesmen has been double booked. Pretty soon there’s blood on the morning room carpet, and the Doctor, working undercover as a butler, has to clean it up. What he discovers, however, is a fabric of desperately-repressed mayhem and intrigue that is about to unravel with meticulously-coiffeured timing.
Earth in the near future. A totalitarian dystopia has come to pass whereby everyone needs an ID card to breathe air outside their homes, mobile phones have been implanted inside people’s mouths, and coal mines have been converted into prisons for asylum seekers. Joe McGahey is the only one left who remembers how things were before the dark times came – but he thinks he’s going mad and his wife, Sheila, is too busy stuffing envelopes with home gift catalogues to notice. Will the Doctor be able to tap into Joe’s working class folk memories to liberate the masses from their oppression, or will he fall foul of one too many peppermint squares? And just who is that jive-talking sideboard salesman with a limp?
John Esmonde and Bob Larbey
Earth in the present day. An ordinary suburban close in an unexceptional English town seems to have been entirely inhabited by residents who believe it is 1983. The Doctor and friends, including a local busybody who purports to know everything about everyone, must get to the bottom of the mystery before the enigmatically-named Polling Day when, by the sound of it, a monstrous epiphany will come to pass. Either that or the shopping precinct will stop half-day closing on Wednesdays!