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Doctor Who sweeps board in SFX sci-fi poll

The Doctor has been voted ‘Best Hero’ in an SFX poll of its readers; with the Daleks voted Best Monster; and The Master voted Best Villain; with various other Whoniverse characters peppered around various other polls.

I’m biased, but it’s tough to see how any other genre character can really compete with the Doctor – eleven faces and personalities; bigger-on-the-inside time machine; anywhere in time and space; mysterious background and abilities. Who could compare?

Blake’s 7, Babylon 5 and Farscape, three other series I have big soft-spots for, get a few mentions in the poll too, which is mainly dominated by the Trek franchise and various tedious vampire stuff.

Elsewhere The Master was voted best villain. A right and just result considering the brilliance of Roger Delgado and the sheer evilness of Anthony Ainley. Simm had his moments too. In his less interesting stories, including some of the recent ones, The Master is just a generic pantomime villain.

But gven something more interesting to do, all the actors who played the part have brought something new to the role in the way that every Doctor does. Seven shades of evil. Again, who could compete?

As it goes, I don’t really have much interest in the Daleks. Every new appearance since Remembrance of the Daleks – barring Dalek – has been an exercise in diminishing returns and I’m frankly rather bored of them now.

The Daleks, yesterday

Daleks have arguably been rebooted three or four times now, but beyond that original concept there’s not a huge amount to them. Most of the best Dalek stories since the 60s have concerned how people react to their presence and existence as much as anything – Genesis, Revelation and Remembrance specifically – although Day of the Daleks is brilliant sci-fi fun.

RTD and Helen Raynor failed completely in doing anything of interest with them in my opinion, and while Victory of the Daleks had some nice moment, it was pretty incoherent stuff.

Nevertheless, Daleks are slightly beyond that now. They’re such a massive icon it doesn’t really matter any more.

And now, in an SFX poll, they’ve trumped something called Lorne from Angel, the Aliens, Gollum from Lord Of The Rings, Gizmo from Gremlins, and the thing from, er, The Thing.

I wonder what Ray Cusick, designer of the Daleks, makes of it all. Legend has it he got an ex gratia payment from the BBC that amounted to £50, while Terry Nation bought a massive house in the country and a fleet of sports cars.

Cusick may not be rich, but designing the best monster ever isn’t a bad legacy.

Other Doctor Who-related results in the SFX poll include:

• K9 named fifth-best robot
• Cybermen named 13th-best monsters
• Davros voted fifth-best villain
• Captain Jack Harkness voted 11th-best hero
• Donna Noble, Rose Tyler and Sarah-Jane Smith are voted fourth, eighth and tenth as Best Heroine respectively

General TV stuff

Ten reasons Farscape is like Blake’s 7

The suggestion that Farscape is a bit like Blake’s 7 is hardly a revelation, what with a gang of convicts and ne’er-do-wells roaming the galaxy in an extraordinary ship they stumbled across fighting a collection of S&M fascists and their own dodgy interpersonal relationships.

Crichton, obsessed with Scorpius and wormholes is reminiscent of Blake in terms of the latter’s desire to bring down the Federation, and Travis. There’s a bit of Tarrant hotshot fly-boy arrogance in there too.

The symbiotic relationship of Pilot and Moya is rather too similar to Zen and The Liberator too; and there are various other archetypes in there too: female mystic; cowardly jester; gun-wielding ball-breaking women; ambiguous leather-clad anti-heroes; and gentle giants.

Blake's 7

There are even set pieces that seem like straight lifts: in Dog With Two Bones the Farscape crew gunned down by black-clad troopers in slo-mo in a end-of-season climax. Not unlike Blake, where the Blake’s 7 crew are unned down by black-clad troopers in slo-mo in a end-of-season climax.

What’s interesting, though, is that despite so many similar elements, the two programmes could hardly be more different. Farscape is an extremely funny show: self-aware; self-deprecating and not afraid to play with form and convention.

Blake’s 7 – despite a lot of grim humour and the odd lighter episode, generally focussed on Vila – B7 tended to take itself fairly seriously, especially in the early days.

And in spite of the odd look between Avon and Cally, or the occasional kiss between Avon and Servalan, romance – or even sex – was rarely in the air in the British sci-fi show.

In Farscape everyone is at it all the time. Chiana is, fairly explicitly, a slut who’s only a half-step removed from being a prostitute, albeit one who’s quite happy to adopt that, er, position.


Time travel, alternate universes, cosmic planes, resurrections, fantasy, animation – Farscape had a go at all of them. But Blake’s 7 was a product of its time: of Thatcher and strikes and oil shortages: it was straight-laced and po-faced.

But I love both shows, at once alike and un-alike. Divided by continents and decades and styles and tastes; sharing a set-up but taking them in radically different directions.

If only Paul Darrow had turned up on Moya.

Ten reasons Farscape is like Blake’s 7

Aeryn=Jenna or Soolin
Crichton=Blake or Tarrant