Devoid of any new Who, I've turned back to my DVD collection to revisit the classic series - where my heart will always lie, no matter how much I've been enjoying Matt Smith in the latest series.
Following a discussion on Outpost Gallifrey, and seeing Ian Hogg in Antony and Cleopatra at the theatre, I've been meaning to revisit it.
Set-up's roughly the same - the good bits and the bad bits, but after 20 years of watching I've fleshed this one out a little more.
Script - the dialogue absolutely sings, although a superb ensemble cast no doubt help enormously. From McCoy and Aldred's wonderful 'universe of terrors' scene; to Control's frightening 'there's a new scent in the to the dark'; and numerous asides afforded to the Doctor and Josiah, there's plenty to enjoy. 'Damn tsetse flies!'; 'The cream of Scotland Yard!'; 'Beatles... and bluebottles'; 'I must change!'; 'she had a bone through her nose and ate her cousin for breakfast'. It's heady stuff, but it's as deep and weird as Doctor Who ever gets.
McCoy and Aldred - Given some wonderful scenes the two leads give their best performances. The best duo until Smith and Gillan.
Best haunted house ever - Gabriel Chase's fecund horrors are creepy and disturbing. It's no surprise the German DVD release is called The House of a Thousand Frights. Light dismembers a mad, turns MacKenzie into soup and Josiah turns Reverend Mathews into a chimp. The stuffed animals, husks, maids in the wall, a lift to something nasty in the cellar - every corner of the house seems to throb with terrors.
Cast - Ian Hogg, Carl Forgione, Sylvia Syms and Michael Cochrane are particularly wonderful - making the most of some meaty roles.
That's the way to the zoo - Perhaps the best use of music in Doctor Who
Plot - I've watched Ghost Light a dozen times and it still doesn't make any sense. The deleted scenes suggest there was a lot more to it that would have explained a little more, but not a huge amount more.
Light - A ridiculous character played quite poorly by John Hallam, an excellent actor.
Visuals - The picture quality is absolutely abysmal, far worse than any other VT stuff from the era.
Music - Mark Ayres is generally very good, but his overpowering score is distracting and actually obscures much of the dialogue. Murray Gold must've been paying attention.
White kids - Some of Ace's dialogue is utterly appalling, with the infamous 'white kids firebombed it' line the absolute nadir.
All told, Ghost Light still stands as the strangest Doctor Who story ever. Even intact, after a few necessary rewrites it would be totally bonkers.
That the televised story was missing a good ten minutes did not help, and really brings Andrew Cartmel's competence as a script editor into question.
There's far too much going on, about 50 per cent too many characters, a confused narrative and an unfortunate tendency towards teen angst am-dram; all problems that have to be laid at the script editor's door.
That said, another script editor may have - correctly - given it the red light at an early stage. That would be a shame, as Ghost Light is still one of the most fascinating pieces of television in the programme's original 26-year-run; and there's much more imagination than has been on show before or since.
It's significantly flawed, but there's a beguiling oddness to Ghost Light that is unimaginable in today's television, and probably was back in 1989.
Like Gabriel Chase, it's a fertile place with treats and horrors alike.
• Caves and Twins? What are you dribbling on about?
Go here: Caves and Twins
Andrew Cartmel's memoirs of his time on Doctor Who as script editor between 1978–1989, Script Doctor, have somehow fallen into the hands of a journalist at the Daily Torygraph.
Incredibly, the journo in question has churned out a piece of work even more absurd than Cartmel's opus (in which he revealed that he spent most of his time on the show lusting after Sophie Aldred) by revealing that the seventh Doctor's tenure was, in fact, a secret attempt to bring down Margaret Thatcher's government.
Some quotes of Cartmel's from Script Doctor are recycled, and added to some obviously less-than serious stuff from Sylvester McCoy on why it seemed like trying to overthrow Thatcher by making Silver Nemesis was 'the right thing to do'.
Add in two killer blows in this fearless expose – the fact that Ben Aaronovitch is the son of Sam Aaronovitch and the fact that Rona Munro once worked on a film with Ken Loach – and the case looks pretty watertight.
But wait, there's more. In what is almost certainly the first time anyone in the world has heard of it, the Telegraph dredges up the fact that the antagonist in the spin-off novel Turlough and the Earth Link Dilemma antagonist is called Rehctaht – 'Thatcher' backwards.
It's left to the Daily Mail to deliver the hammer blow:
The revelations appear to confirm claims that the 1980s BBC opposed Mrs Thatcher's government, with the then Tory chairman Norman Tebbit claiming it was in the hands of a 'Marxist mafia'.
Indeed they do. But Probic Vent can reveal that the conspiracy ran far deeper than Cartmel's Masterplan. Other Dodgy Doctor details uncovered by us reveal:
• Cartmel originally wanted to replace Bonnie Langford with ARTHUR SCARGILL as McCoy's companion when the former bowed out.
• Marc Platt spent three months as a guest of the KGB while writing his second draft of Ghost Light in 1988.
• Sophie Aldred had an affair with LES DENNIS in the early 90s
• McCOY, along with COLIN BAKER, PETER DAVISON and TOM BAKER meet regularly at a number of hotels around the country to hold emotionally-charged rallies for their followers
Most damning of all, the ultimate aim of Cartmel's conspiracy was to replace The Queen as Head of State with John Nathan-Turner.