General TV stuff New Series

Distinctly Doctor Who-themed political broadcast for Labour Party

Oddly enough, there’s a party political broadcast floating about the web at the moment starring Sean Pertwee – son of Jon, who was a big mate of Jim Callaghan – and boasting a voiceover by none other than David Tennant.

As if to underscore the Who connection, Pertwee even quotes his father:

My father always said “Don’t give up.”

“Show resolve,” he said. He was so right.

Pertwee is presenting a fairly unsubtle metaphor in this election broadcast for Labour, but it’s a polished, and gently powerful message in a good-looking broadcast that brings to mind Hugh Hudson’s films for Labour in 1987.

There’s been something of an explosion in Doctorly support for Labour recently, with Peter Davison stating that he ‘tremble[s]’ at the idea of a Tory government; David Tennant calling David Cameron ‘terrifying’; and Steven Moffat claiming ‘stuff would be s**t’ under the Tories.

There’s also some recent stuff about The Beast Below containing an anti-Tory message; RTD has made his anti-Conservative feelings known on several occasions; and Andrew Cartmel and Sylvester McCoy recently suggested that their era was anti-Thatcher. And don’t forget the left-wing Dalek.

For his part, Gordon Brown says Tennant is favourite Doctor (well, it was going to be either him or McCoy wasn’t it?).

Extraordinary stuff. Of course, actors and creatives naturally lean to the Left, and if Doctor Who isn’t a show that revels in left-wing, or at least liberal, ethics then I don’t know what does. There’s a long-running debate as to whether there are any Tory Doctors, with the Third mentioned most frequently, though this has always struck me as unlikely.

The Doctor Who Forum’s politics thread currently shows a heavy bias against the Conservatives in a poll on likely voting behaviour of those on the board, which poses some rather chicken-and-egg kind of questions.

What would The Doctor make of it all? It’s tempting to imagine Hartnell, wildly off-script and taking advantage of time constraints in 1964 urging ‘all of you at home’ to vote for the pipe-smoking chap. Then again, with Billy’s habit of fluffing names, he’d probably end up backing Herman Walton.

Sean Pertwee and David Tennant in The Road Ahead



Whatever happened to Neil Penswick?

From time to time I wonder whatever happened to Neil Penswick, author of the The Pit – probably the most derided book in Doctor Who history.

The Pit was a relatively early New Adventure, from a time when the Virgin series had yet to find its feet, and wasn’t generally liked. In fact, everyone who’s ever read it seems to swear it’s the worst book ever written.

I remember reading a few pages of it, not especially enjoying it, and moving on to something else, probably re-reading Timewyrm: Exodus or something.

I’m a big fan of those New Adventures, as they introduced me to a lot of science-fiction concepts and styles, which in turn led to other stuff. They came along at the right time for me

But a lot of those books stand up as sci-fi novels in their own right to my mind, and I liked where it took Doctor Who, taking the themes and approach of the later Cartmel series on TV and running with them.

For many they went too far, but I don’t generally reckon so. Ben Aaronovitch’s Transit probably did and is not a great book, but I enjoyed it. And the hard futuristic sci-fi novels of Kate Orman, Andy Lane, Lance Parkin and Andrew Cartmel – among the best – take the same characters, language, setting and mise-en-scene as Transit and create a whole new universe within the, er, Whoniverse.

So, I have a soft spot for the NAs. And now and again I find myself wondering what happened to the authors. Much of them are still involved with Doctor Who, some at high levels, though it often seems to be the least interesting ones.

Many can be found on Gallifrey Base, or on blogs or Twitter.

But Neil Penswick? Where the hell has he ended up? Tragically he’s the only one of the NA writers not to have his own Wikipedia entry.

I seem to recall from the blurb on the back of The Pit that he lived in Bedford. Is he still there? What’s he doing these days? If anyone knows, can you tell me?.

If only to mark the upcoming 20th anniversary of the publication of The Pit?