Friday, 11 September 2015

Turn Right?

Just how "Tory" is the 3rd Doctor really? 

"They exiled the Doctor to Earth and made him a Tory."
- Paul Cornell

Amongst the reams of well-worn phrases knocking about in Doctor Who fan circles, like "The Wilderness Years" and "Holmesian Double-Act", you may well have heard of the "Pertwee Backlash".
What's one of those when they're at home? Well, it's fair to say that whilst some Doctors are more widely popular, other than perennial chart-toppers Tom Baker and David Tennant the others can wax and wane in popularity, benefitting from the re-evaluation a shiny remastered edition of a neglected story can bring, or suffering by a comedian du jour's barbs.

In those "Wilderness" 1990s, fans of Doctor Who were shyer of professing their love for the Mad Man in the Blue Box than yer actual 2015 shy Tories were of fessing up to pollsters, and an inward self-regarding bunker mentality set in. In this seemingly downward spiral of ever-decreasing niche-dom, anyone with anything new, interesting or fresh to say could unwittingly find themselves big fishes in a pool they may have thought was just for innocently paddling in. But of course even a few louche splashes could create ripples, like huge boulders dropped in a lake...
Only about 12 people had access to the internet and 5 of them were Tim Berners-Lee's dogs. All 3 of the online Doctor Who fans communicated via a primitive version of what we now call the internet, little more than cups at either end of a string that made a tinitus-inducing screeching cacophony in a valiant effort to load a single line of text in half an hour. Back then, fans of The X-Files and Sliders that still held on to fading memories of naff old Doctor Who still not only read but even paid money for, collected pages of paper with text written on them in ink, tomes of varying quality, professionalism and vitriol that helpfully informed sci-fans what to think about the shows they'd hitherto thought they liked.

So it was in 1993, that Paul Cornell wrote a review of Terror of the Autons for the notorious DWB that gave the 1971 season opener, its' delivery and in no small way its leading man and his characterisation of the lead role (aided and abetted by some (Robert) Holmesian bluff) the kicking to end all kickings. And lo, the "Pertwee backlash" was born... 

Cornell highlighted a streak of egotism and an identification with the establishment that seemed to tie Pertwee's Doctor to the contemporary (i.e. 1970) Conservative party, a cosiness with the monied bourgeoisie, their trappings and privilige, and a modus operandi that suggested at least tacit approval of the status quo and class structure as a means of keeping the working class down.

Soon, all Doctor Who between 3rd January 1970 and 8th June 1974, was a monolithic spectre at the New Adventures feast.

But hang on, just because (should-be-Sir) Terrance Dicks was then a titan of test card avoidance and later an i-dotting, t-crossing wizard of Target terrificness, why does he get a free pass when it comes to that there offending Auton story what he script-edited? It's probably fair to say that his similarities with Trotsky begin and end with the letter "T" and his sympathies lay more with Peladon than the Pels.

And wasn't this the era of Bhuddist environmentalist Barry Letts and Communist peacenik Malcolm Hulke? How does that work? Could there be more than one side to the Third Doctor after all?

Just how "Tory" was the Third Doctor...?

Spearhead from Space

The Evidence: The 3rd Doctor's first adventure sees him rejecting the flat cap of the working class in favour of the on-hand duds of a toffee nosed medic, and although he's indulging in a bit of robbing from the rich, it seems it's because he aspires to present himself as a well-to-do establishment Edwardian. 

Not for him the serviceable leather jacket, the bohemian scarf or the down at heel scruff of his predecessor. However, although he might not fill his shower with coal, he does sport the tattoo of a rough-handed sailor.  
It's hard to tell if Ashbridge Cottage Hospital is private or NHS, but as soon as he's out of the door he's eyeing up, no, not the Edwardian roadster, but the mid-life crisis bright-red penis-mobile. 
When he can't find the key to the racer, he settles for the vintage car that his rif-raff viewers could equally only have dreamed of, and sets off to berate the working class car park attendant at UNIT HQ, before showing off his TARDIS-seeking i-watch to the Brigadier. 
At the end of an adventure in which he sees off the threat of invading boiler-suited workers, he tells his pet military man that he's got no use for money.

Verdict: Less of a meteor shower than a blue rinse.

Doctor Who and the Silurians

The Evidence: Now living on Earth as the Brigadier's domesticated scientist, the Doctor is free to spend time on his pet project. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty and do a day's work as a mechanic but restoring a vintage car is hardly the passtime of a prole. 
Nevertheless, although he's enjoying a life of creature comforts (presumably) at the expense of the taxpayer, he's not quite the fan of the establishment he is in other stories, but then of course we do have "the Red Hulke" at the typewriter this time out. 

Here the Third Doctor never reports himself anywhere - particularly not forthwith. Neither does he have time to chat to under-secretaries, permanent or otherwise, and he doesn't know Masters from the next civil servant. When he says he "never could stand" Dr. Lawrence, this might suggest he's known him for rather longer than their on-screen encounters here, so it may be that since his first adventure the Third Doctor has been making connections in more scientific circles than the smokey gentleman's clubs of old Tubby Rowlands and his ilk, presumably in furtherance of his attempts to escape his exile, his eye on industry more than indulgence. 

He feels Major Baker deserves another chance after whatever his terrible mistake was, and when he evaluates sufferers of mental health issues the thought of declaring them fit for work doesn't even begin to cross his mind.

On encountering the Silurians, he sues for peaceful co-existence between the races and a fair re-distribution of wealth and resources, though his suggestion that the Silurians could live in areas that are of little interest to mankind could be extrapolated as a segregation of sorts. He considers an atomic reactor a "perfectly simple piece of machinery" and when the Brigadier entombs the Silurians, he's disgusted by what he deems "murder".

Verdict: Pot-holier than thou, but more Wenley Moor than Ted Heath.

The Ambassadors of Death

The Evidence: The Third Doctor again sues for peaceful negotiations and diplomacy between nations, is keen on cultural exchanges, distrusts civil servant Sir James Quinlan and is very rude to anyone and everyone in authority, not least Professor Ralph Cornish: "The man's a fool! How can I possibly tell who the message is from until I know what it says? Let me explain this to you in very simple terms." 
Patronising, certainly, but there are lives at stake and he's in a hurry. Once again he's sympathetic to mental health issues, allowing General Carrington (once he's safely under arrest) his dignity, sensitive to his PTSD. His disaste for Regan's "programme of bank robbery" is obvious, but when he recognises that Collinson is a military man, he outs his soldiering ways by insisting "call me Sir!" 
Verdict: The Ambassadors may be spoiling us, but the Doctor's not too spoilt.


The Evidence: The Doctor's an opera-loving VIP with access to all areas of Project: Inferno, but once again his is a single-minded pursuit of escape from a career as a government-funded scientific trouble-shooter, yearning as he does for his old adventuring life on the universal road. 
While he's here, he's fond enough of Gold but Sir Keith's conferred K is not special to him. He much prefers the company of grafter Greg, and finds the thought of the Brig at whatever Sandhurst-alike exists in the Whoniverse faintly ridiculous. 
He certainly opposes the totalitarian forces of the parallel world he's soon thrust into with every fibre of his being, and is as appalled by Stahlman's scientific hubris as he is concerned for the disastrous environmental consequences of his bore. 
In perhaps a more telling moment, though, he laments the execution of the parallel world British Royal Family, with a (presumably falsely) insouciant "Pity, a charming family; I knew her great grandfather in Paris..."
Verdict: Hobnobbing with royalty? There's never been a bore like this one!

Terror of the Autons

The Evidence: What a difference six months makes! With Liz returned to Cambridge, the Third Doctor's now got his feet well and truly under the club table, brown-nosing high above Brownrose's station.
Of course, the high water mark of his high falutin' ways comes with the excruiciating disclosure of having informed Lord ("Tubby" to him) Rowlands in the Club only the other day that the "wrong sort of chap is creeping into your lot." and he's positively vile to Jo when he thinks she's the lowly tealady. He's also only too keen to point out to Hugh Russell that gentlemen never talk about anything other than money. 
He might not take kindly to the visitation of a bowler-hatted messenger from home, but it seems as plain as the nose on his face that left to his own devices, perhaps a bit more resigned to a long stay, and without the sensible influence of doctor Shaw, he's crept into the wrong crowd himself, and it's not taken him very long at all to climb the social ladder to the upper echelons of a cigar-quaffing and brandy-guzzling seventh heaven for supersnobs.
Verdict: A wave of sudden social-climbing all over the Home Counties.

The Mind of Evil

The Evidence: Back under the auspices of Inferno's Don Houghton, the Third Doctor is back on disarming (literally) form, deeply troubled by the thought of using prisoners as human guinea pigs for a scientific method of rehabilitation for criminals. 
Whilst he's a terribly pompous heckler in the presence of Professor Kettering, he's also preoccupied with facilitating peace at UNIT's international conference, and, in a frankly bizarre and monumental lurch to the left, lets on that he's on personal terms with communist Chairman (and dictator) Mao Tse-tung. 

From rubbing elbows with the British Aristocracy to buddying up with a Marxist-Leninist in the space of just one story is enough to give us whiplash. 

Verdict: Better red than dead?

The Claws of Axos

The Evidence: When faced with the insular guff of blustering buffer Chinn, the Third Doctor practically hits the roof at the civil servant's inability to take a global view and leave petty nationalism at the door. "England for the English! Good heavens, man!" 
Learning that the Time-Lord isn't even a British national, Chinn doubts his loyalties and the Doctor professes that he'd leave if he could, if only to get away from people like him. Is he starting to lose his taste for the establishment, or in fact is Chinn, like Brownrose, just beneath him? 

He's more at home with scientists Hardiman and Winser, and even more so when teaming up with the similarly Time-Lordly Master. He'd miss Jo, but she's not as much of an equal as the educated Liz, so is she really just more of a pet he'd happily leave on the farm given the opportunity to move back up to the big house? 
Verdict: Like some kind of galactic yo-yo, the Doctor's a bit up and down in this one.

Colony in Space

The Evidence: On the side of farming pioneers trying to establish a self-sufficient co-operative community away from a polluted and overcrowded capitalist dystopia, the Doctor faces off against a profit-before-lives, environmentally destructive, exploitative corporation.
When the Master turns up to appropriate a weapon of mass destruction, the Doctor rejects a role as one half of a ruling class and instead secures disarmament.
Verdict: It's always innocent bystanders who get purged after accusations of being a Tory.

The Daemons

The Evidence: On an atheistic bent, the Doctor ruffles Home Counties feathers aplenty and once again rejects having ultimate power foisted upon him.
He's keen to keep Jo in her place, subordinate to the Brigadier, but also seeks to help her out via free education.
Verdict: Miss Hawthorne's runecasts are at least as accurate as an Ipsos MORI poll.

Day of the Daleks

The Evidence: Another story of extremes as the Doctor veers from carrying on like an Ogron-murdering one-man cheese and wine society to siding with South American style guerillas to take on Nazi dustbins and their distasteful Quislings.

He's pleased to find Welsh tin-mining is aliving and kicking in the 22nd Century and takes an interest in Dalek breaches of Working Time Regulations.
Verdict: A touch sardonic, perhaps, but a revolutionary after my own heart.

The Curse of Peladon

The Evidence: The Doctor passes himself off as the "Chairman Delegate from Earth", a high ranking diplomat licenced to rub shoulders with the King of Peladon and his high courtiers , and Jo as a Princess no less, though to be fair that's more by accident than design. 

He's on a mission for the Time Lords, who want Britain to join the EEC during the Miner's strikes of 1972, a mission he is perfectly in tune with and does not resist. Indeed, he's more preoccupied with the local religious extremist and making racist generalisations about the Ice Warriors and their nobility. 

Seems he'd be happy getting all the economic benefits of a larger galactic federation so long as he doesn't have to bother with all those foreigners. 

Rumbled as riff-raff interlopers, he and Jo have to leg it at the story's conclusion, and he laments not being able to see Peladon's coronation, having enjoyed that of either Queen Elizabeth or Queen Victoria. Memorable, then.

Verdict: He loves all that Chairman Delegate stuff, but is it aspiration or just ideas above his station?

The Sea Devils

The Evidence: As the Doctor and Jo visit the incarcerated Master, we discover that he's anti the death penalty and happy enough for the Master to potentially live out hundreds or even thousands of years at the tax payer's expense with his own private gym, as many television sets (colour, of course) that he can shake a stick at, and access to Britain's dimmest golfing Prison Governor.

When it comes to Sea Devils sinking half of the Navy's submarines, he doesn't give an ape primitive's about Trident either, as he once again tries to arrange peaceful co-existence between reptile and man. 
He again tells the reptile people that mankind are not his people and he therefore does not speak for them; he doesn't identify with with humans of any persuasion. He's at home mucking about on boats and namedrops Horatio Nelson for all he's worth, as well as claiming to have seen action in any number of 19th & early 20th century wars, but he's once again at loggerheads with red tape and officials and tears a strip off civil servant Walker for employing military tactics and scuppering his attempts at diplomacy.
Verdict: All hands on deck for a Navy Lark, and thankfully no sinking feeling.

The Mutants

The Evidence: Yet another mission for the Time Lords and this time out the Doctor's trying to free an entire race from their colonial overlords, bringing independence, ending segregation and preventing the outgoing exploiters from robbing the indigenous population of their resources. 
He's in direct conflict with the swivel-eye Marshal and the immoral Jaeger and is pretty big on environmental issues too, no fan of the slag, ash and clinker that epitomise the grey cities of the 30th century. 
He sides with rebel insurgent Ky and exiled humanitarian Sondegaard over the interests of the establishment. 

Verdict: A full account of his involvement in this affair is available via Hansard.

The Evidence: When the Master masquerades as a Greek Professor, the Doctor knows something is up immediately and that he'll have to travel back in time if he's to find an adriatic nation with any real power.

Naturally he has to prevent the bearded guy from destroying the world by sending us all back in time, but he's soon rubbing shoulders with the likes of elderly King Dalios.

There's no shortage of bull in Atlantis, and he even gets a moment to tell Jo of his early years on Gallifrey, when he took instruction from a wise old hermit. Who lives in a house halfway up a mountain, though? No-one that's done a day's work in their life, that's for sure.

Verdict: Easy for your private guru to help you see the daisiest daisy from your des res pad on the mountain side, innit?

The Three Doctors

The Evidence: When his home planet and people are threatened with a land-grab by someone with a prior claim, the Doctor respects history but doesn't believe in heaven or hell.
With no small degree of self-loathing on show, he does defer to the elder doyens of the 1960s, and is clearly annoyed at having to share the limelight with Doctors that played out their adventures under the auspices of the Labour party.
He's equally friendly with gamekeeper Ollis as he is with scientist Tyler, which is to say not much, and he's quite at home in Omega's stately domain, enjoys a good wrestle with imaginary friends and is not averse to deploying a recorder of mass destruction to win the day. He's rewarded with time off for good behaviour and his freedom is at last restored. 
Verdict: Stirs his coffee with a silicon rod rather than a silver spoon.

Carnival of Monsters

The Evidence: Arriving on what appears to be the SS Bernice in 1920, the Third Doctor's first jaunt in the newly restored TARDIS sees him well inside his comfort zone with British colonial types lording it over Indian servants, and fully conversant in their nonsense lingo.
He's not averse to a bout of fisticuffs with a possible ancestor of Harry Sullivan's and he's happy to thump an officer and a gentleman. Once he realizes he's actually in a private zoo, he sets about enforcing a Time Lord embargo against the cruel and unusual imprisonment of displaced aliens, and gives both sides both barrels - the grey civil servants get as much of a tongue-lashing as the polari speaking vagrant Showman - so here he's an equal opportunities ear-basher.

Verdict: Nothing political? Nothing serious? Pull the other one! .

The Evidence: Finding himself on the wrong side of the law, the Doctor takes on warmongers and racists alike, happy to throw his lot in with the Peace Party and to give equal consideration to people at every station in life in the Empires of both Earth and Draconia.
Naturally, it turns out he's an honorary noble of Draconia, so he doesn't go too long without pulling rank, but he spends a lot of time getting banged up in the cells before he's able to win the President of Eath (a lady, would you believe!) over.

Once he's rumbled that it's his old lordly equal, the Master, behind the plot to trick governments into going to war, he gets to work bringing all sides round the table - only to have the tables turned when some old enemies from about as far right as you can get - the Daleks. 
Verdict: Critisize the government and you're for it, aren't you?.
The Evidence: The Doctor recommends more direct interventionist action to the Time-Lords where the Daleks are concerned, so they put their best man on the job. Cheers, lads.
He's soon teaming up with the Aryan-like Thals who have become decidely more militaristic than they were under Labour. They are, of course, opposed to everyone's favourite Nazi dustbins, and employing guerilla tactics in the jungle, though, and hope to return to their peaceful ways.

Verdict: Going to war to bring peace to the region whilst aiding guerilla insurgents? I can't stand the confusion in my mind!

The Evidence: Displaying a frankly worrying sense of entitlement, the Doctor buggers off to steal a big blue crystal just because he wants it and thinks he should have it, without having done anything to earn it.

When he comes down off his high horse and back down to Earth, he's got environmental concerns about the activities of monolithic international corporation Global Chemicals, and shacks up with the Nut Hutch hippies, who are big on self-sufficiency, recycling, vegetarianism and renewable energy.
Not for him the Wagnerian totalitarianism of BOSS, the Doctor's far more interested in beautiful insects, securing himself a case of Nancy's Elderberry wine, and cock-blocking Jo's emergence from his coop.

Verdict: Meet the new BOSS - same as the old BOSS!
The Evidence: After agreeing to be a part of the Brigadier's basket of eggs, the Doctor follows a scientific spectre back to the Middle Ages, with journalist Sarah Jane Smith in tow. He pits his wits against a Robber Baron, siding with the Lord and Lady of the castle to put down a rebellion and keep the peasants in their place! 
The long-shanked rascal can't keep his mighty nose out of trouble, and works to foil a warmongering Sontaran officer and preserve the status quo for generations to come with the help of a local archer so that the wrong kind of Empire doesn't take a hold in his back yard.
Verdict: Causing a right royal stink to neutralize a warmonger and keep Britain great!

Invasion of the Dinosaurs

The Evidence: Returning to the 20th Century, the Doctor and Sarah find martial law has been declared and the military are in charge of a deserted London overrun by marauding monsters. It seems the PM's naffed off to Harrogate, so it's to be hoped he hasn't been telling everyone there that they hate each other...
The Doctor doesn't much care for this military dictatorship, nor the misguided conspirators determined to erase from history anyone that doesn't see things their way.

He's a fan of the only civil servant whose environmental concerns he considers to be ahead of his time, but as a knight of the realm, Sir Charles Grover's obviously up to no good, and has gathered up every left-winger in Britain to take to his new Utopia to start again, including, it seems most of the 2015 Labour Leadership candidates.
The Doctor makes sure none of them gets the chance to turn back time, having failed to convince of any working class roots due to his diabolical cockernee accent.

Verdict: There never was a golden age...

The Evidence: The Doctor is none too pleased when his attempts to take Sarah on a jolly holiday fall prey to the same power cuts affecting the rest of the nation. Even his old foes the Daleks are suffering by this point in the 1970s, and they have to team up to best a planet of religious nutters and destroy their important landmarks in the process.

Verdict: Should that red light be flashing?

The Evidence: A return to familiar territory for the Third Doctor here, but a slight shift in policy, as he wants to help Queen Thalira, the daughter of his "friend" King Peladon, but he seeks to do it by brokering peace with the planet's striking miners, whose moderate leader becomes his ally in chief.

This time round the Ice Warriors are the bad guys, albeit a separatist band in cahoots with a capitalist mercenary determined to steal the valuable mineral resources from under the locals' badger hairdos.

The Doctor unleashes women's lib on Peladon in the form of Sarah Jane Smith and sides with the miners against the belligerent Chancellor, never once questioning whether they should have joined the Federation in the first place.

Verdict: Probably a bit too late for a Pelexit?

The Evidence: Bad lad Mike Yates has demobbed to a Buddhist retreat after a couple of refugee Tibetan monks setting up a lamasery in darkest mummerset. 
He's soon joined by Sarah Jane Smith and the Doctor himself, resplendent in his bluest outfit yet, complete with blue crystal accessory and blue rinse bouffant par excellence - though in facing the Spiders of his mind, he's about to pay the price for this incarnation's greed and arrogance. 

In fact, despite a last chance to indulge his hobby for the high speed motors most can only dream of, he finds himself shacked up with some future West Countryians, battling embittered businessmen, and tasked by his old guru with assassinating a Queen! 

Verdict: The old man must die and the new man will discover to his inexpressible joy that he has never existed...

So what's your verdict?


Coming Soon... Doctor Who Movie Do's and Don'ts!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic article! I think he was more 'establishment ' than Tory... but he certainly appreciated what he thought were the finer things in life