Doctor Who, Series 6- Episode 4: The Doctor’s Wife

Originally written for the stellar website TV Pixie.

Saturday’s episode of Doctor Who was penned by a well known guest; but who?

I’ll give you a clue: he lives in the US, has curly hair and was once offered a job writing for saucy ‘men’s magazine’ Penthouse.

Don’t be daft, it’s not Barack Obama (although I do enjoy his weekly column about ways to increase your penis size). No, the moment the Time Team set foot on the steampunk asteroid, anyone familiar with the Sandman author’s work could surely tell they were dealing with vintage Neil Gaiman – he’s a master at mingling the fantastical with the monstrous.

From Idris’s gothic Victorian-bride’s dress to the Igor-like  ‘Uncle’ and the graphic novel feel of the TARDIS graveyard; all the clues were there. It’s clear why Gaiman’s considered a cult author.

Although if he’d taken that job with Penthouse he’d be considered a cu… oh, never mind.

The Doctor is lured to the asteroid by a ‘hypercube’ containing a distress call from another time lord: the Corsair, notable for having an Ouroboros tattoo in each of his (or her) incarnations. A circular snake or dragon eating its own tail: perfect for a Time Lord as it symbolises endless return and regeneration, however, extremely ironic if you end up dead and the arm the tattoo is on gets chopped off and sewn to a demented ex-human called ‘Auntie’ who – as a result – has biceps like Popeye.

The crazed tailor behind these patchwork people is a sentient… thing called House who lives within the shell of the asteroid itself. It lures Time Lords to its lair as it thinks that TARDISes (Tardii?) are more delicious than a deep fried lobster and caviar sandwich in champagne batter. Or a Greggs Steak Bake, if you’re from oop North.

The thing is; House has to whip out the ships’ brains to get access to their juicy Artron energy. By the time the Doc works this out, the grumpy rock has already sucked out the matrix – the ‘soul of the TARDIS’ – and installed it into a rather unfortunate human, Idris, played in a pleasingly deranged way by Suranne Jones.

House was pretty scary, to tell the truth. Meddling with human anatomy, tinkering with people’s minds: I’m pretty certain he was actually a grizzled, world-weary doctor played by Hugh Laurie who’d finally flipped after one idiotic medical student too many suggested someone was ill with lupus.

In fact, ‘House’ also reminded me of another doctor: Dr Evil. The scenes where the spirit of the asteroid pursued Amy and Rory through the dead TARDIS had more than a smack of bonkers Bond villain about it. Just shoot them already: why risk it? The convoluted cat and mouse game gave the time team plenty of opportunities to escape; although not before poor Rory (a.k.a. Kenny from South Park) popped his clogs again – sort of.

The horror film aesthetic of Amy discovering Rory’s desiccated corpse in a corridor filled with demented ‘KILL AMY’ scrawls made me wonder- not for the first time – if Doctor Who is now too scary for kids. It’s still (slightly dismissively) referred to as a ‘children’s programme’ by the kind of people who don’t go to Doctor Who conventions dressed in a Tom Baker era scarf and riding a sit-on, remote controlled K9, so it might be an idea for the BBC to try and keep the wee ones in mind. After all, they don’t want to alienate the 9-12 demographic: the Beeb is entirely propped up by Doctor Who lunchbox and pencil case sales.

The license fee itself barely covers Graham Norton’s Eurovision salary.

Sadly, Idris’s frail human body can’t withstand the fires of the TARDIS matrix for long and her bodily functions begin to pack in: something anyone who’s ever eaten vindaloo can sympathise with. The scene where she dies and releases her ‘soul’ back into the TARDIS control room prompts tears from the Doctor – as he hates the thought that the ‘time when they talked’ has come to an end.

Yep, it’s poignant: but why doesn’t he just install the TARDIS voice app? It’s only £2.99. He should really get round to reading the manual.

Ah, who are we kidding: from the moment the Doctor realises the Time Lord voices he’s been hearing are just hoarded message cubes rather than survivors, we knew the episode was going to be a tearjerker. I didn’t cry though: I just had something in my eye. Honest.

The whole idea of giving the Doctor’s most faithful companion a physical form (and a voice) was rather achingly lovely; even if she did start out by trying to chew on his neck. In fact, I really wish that was something we could do with other appliances, but not necessarily to bond with them: I’d quite like to have the soul of my frequently temperamental laptop installed into the body of someone I don’t like very much (possibly Justin Lee Collins) so I could spend a day bellowing angrily at it and kicking it down the stairs.

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About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

2 Responses to Doctor Who, Series 6- Episode 4: The Doctor’s Wife

  1. Lucie says:

    as always, Hilary – an awesome round up of a superb episode 🙂

    • ladyribenaberet says:

      Cheers me duck! Thanks for the compliments. I thrive on them, in much the same way as House thrives on Artron energy

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