What I love about Doctor Who is how attached we get to characters who, due to the very nature of the programme, must be frequently replaced.
"In search of the lost planets, the Doctor and Donna got stranded in the Medusa Cascade and no-one could get in touch with them until eventually, with the help of Harriet Jones, former PM, the answer was found: just call the Doc’s mobile."
So when Christopher Eccleston was rumoured to be leaving after Series 1, it was all, “Nooooooo! He can’t go!” Until he regenerated into the quite wonderful David Tennant, with his nice flicky hair and his suit’n’converse combo. Then we didn’t mind so much.
And when Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) slipped off into God-knows-where, it was all, “No-one can replace Rose!” until we met new companion, Martha Jones who, if she didn’t top Rose, certainly gave her a run for her money (running being an integral part of the companion’s job description).
Angst again reached a frenzy when Martha (Freema Agyeman) was replaced (the turnover at Doctor Who Towers now rivalling a call centre) by Christmas guest star Catherine Tate. Nooooooooo!
An unpopular choice, but even the most churlish of viewers must have been won over by Tate’s depiction of Donna Noble by now. Despite coming across as a bit of a gobshite in the Christmas special, Noble has turned out to be a complex and increasingly important character and Tate is a more subtle and appealing actress than her sketch shows displayed. Thank God.
On Saturday we saw the penultimate episode of the Fourth Series, The Stolen Earth, and a bumper edition it was, too. As well as the Doctor and Donna we also had the company of Torchwood (the one’s who aren’t dead), old skool Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane plus son, and Rose, who seemed more world (well worlds) weary than ever and– doubtless to the delight of the young male fanbase – was clutching a huge gun.
As pointed out by the episode’s title, the earth had been rather rudely stolen. By the Daleks.
Now, I hate to be controversial but I just can’t find the Daleks scary. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t a massive fan of Doctor Who as a child and so the groundwork hasn’t been done. I don’t know. I try to feel scared. And I can tell by the way all the characters react that, as soon as I hear the word “Exterminate…”, I’m meant to feel all hope is lost. But they just remind me of a mix between C3PO and Dusty Bin off 3,2,1.
Nonetheless, this was a cracking episode. Other planets had gone missing. Martha’s atoms were sent whizzing separately off through space via some new military technology or other and Captain Jack (John Barrowman) did what he does best - shouting, making suggestive comments, hugging his staff, more shouting.
In search of the lost planets, the Doctor and Donna got stranded in the Medusa Cascade and no-one could get in touch with them until eventually, with the help of Harriet Jones, former PM, (Penelope Wilton) the answer was found: just call the Doc’s mobile.
Meanwhile the Daleks, bless them, were causing carnage, shooting – in a Star Trek stylie – any extraneous characters who had a line of dialogue. Sorry to hark on, but even the way the Daleks shoot things doesn’t do it for me. It just seems so....ordinary. (Is this what desensitisation feels like, do you think?)
Eventually, the Doctor’s worst suspicions are confirmed – Bonnie Langford is coming back. Just kidding. It’s not as bad as all that. It’s just that Davros is alive. Yeah, the one that looks like a loo-roll cover. Apparently, he was saved from certain death in the Time Wars by Dalek Caan, a heroic mission which sent him bonkers, even more so than you’d expect a pink brain squiddy thing to be.
Not good news. The Doctor legs it, which is more than Davros can do, and he and Rose are almost re-united but, before he can get to her he’s shot by a Dalek. And starts to regenerate!
And that was it. We were left with a cliffhanger until next Saturday night, for which huge viewing figures are anticipated. Clever, that Russell T Davies.
Naturally, this unexpected twist has sent the Doctor Who-loving world into a frenzy. To paraphrase: It’s known that there will be no series five of Doctor Who until 2010, but Tennant said he was signed up to the three specials planned for 2009. Was he lying? Is there going to be a new Doctor Who? If so, who? And how did they manage to keep it a secret? Or might this just be some crazy story to do with the parallel universes and the doctor’s previously severed hand and is David Tenant actually staying after all? There’s no way of saying until next Saturday night, but that’s not going to stop them asking. Over and over and over.