It was probably a matter of time before I managed to sneak a David Bowie reference into the blog, and I do so by referring to the song that gave rise to one of the BBC’s most ingenious drama creations: Life of Mars.
The catalyst for this post comes from this tweet featuring the new Big Finish adventure to feature Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, reprising their roles as the Fourth Doctor and Romana. I was struck by the incongruous appearance of the modern day actor alongside the 80s attire of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, and it gave me to pondering – what about a Doctor Who episode that specifically played up how anachronistic the past is? We know that the formula works – it was a big reason (alongside the frankly excellent John Simm and Philip Glennister) for the success of Life on Mars – arguably it contributed in part to the success of the Back to the Future movie trilogy.
What might it look like? Well, for that I will revisit a poll I put out last week on Twitter that was ultimately lost in the excitement over the missing episodes reply from the BBC. The poll showed an astonishing 80% of respondents agreeing that they would like to see someone take on the role of Roger Delgado’s Master in the event that Sean Pertwee were to portray his father’s role of the Third Doctor.
I ruminated on this a little, and this is the idea I have landed on. The story would feature Capaldi’s Doctor (plus we presume a new companion) crossing over with Pertwee’s Doctor – in the Third Doctor’s timeline it would take place between The Green Death and The Time Warrior, conveniently allowing the producers to allocate a new UNIT companion as a one-off for the production. It would see the two Doctors stuck in the ‘wrong’ timelines, and the majority of entertainment would come from the clash of cultures – whether Capaldi’s companion appalled at what the 70s were like, to Pertwee’s companion astonished at the wonders of 21st Century Britain (imagine the fun of a scientist from the 1970s encountering an iPad!)
The bigger draw however would be that the villain of the piece would be Delgado’s Master – and I personally would love to see one of two Bens portraying him; either Ben Miller (who I actually really enjoyed as the Sheriff of Nottingham) or Sir Ben Kingsley. Not only would it be a fitting tribute to the Pertwee era, but it could potentially tie up one of the oldest loose threads in Doctor Who history. That is to say – that the BBC could then bring back Geoffrey Beevers, who has been having something of a renaissance in Big Finish productions as the decayed Master. It would not be hard given the make up required to make him resemble the Peter Pratt Master, or his own version from The Keeper of Traken. And thus the story could give a much more satisfying conclusion to the Delgado era than his disappointing exit in Frontier in Space.
I grant you that the idea set out above is very much a classic series’ fan’s wildest fantasy. But oh what a story it could be!