Dear Steven Moffat: The Doctor’s Wife

Dear Steven,

You’re to be congratulated. The stance you’ve adopted on spoiler-merchants, Whovians that mine nuggets of scripts from preview valleys before disseminating their booty to impatient misfits, was quite right. Why can’t people wait for transmission huh? Why can’t they let it unfold as broadcasters intended?

I’ve heard it said that these geek extremists, who indiscriminately target their own, as well as non-fans, in their bid to kill as many surprises as possible, imagine themselves to be inseminated by the information, like idiots and the Holy Spirit. They believe that it enhances them, makes them more important, like a one man media outlet, and there’s no use in being special unless you can advertise the fact. I’ve heard that, but I don’t put any stock in it.

In unrelated news, I was cock-a-hoop when I realised that I knew the writer of tonight’s Doctor Who, Neil Gaiman. This Wednesday I was at Maggie’s café in Lewisham, dunking chips into yokes with my old pal Saggy Membranes, when I happened to mention that Gaiman, hitherto unknown to myself, or so I believed, was penning tonight’s chunk and this was causing some excitement. Gaiman’s reputation preceded him, apparently. Then Saggy said,

‘Neil Gaiman? Jodie’s boyfriend? He’s making TV now?’

Well, I was taken aback. Now I thought about it, the name had rung a cloister bell, and with good reason; Neil had built up a certain notoriety over the years. His name was legend in a hundred pubs in South East London, the Keyser Soze of the Alcoholics fraternity; a notorious, urinating, vomiting monster, with a foul mouth and a reputation for cruelty to animals, not least pigeons which he used to feed bread soaked in bicarbonate of soda; a treatment that made their stomachs fill with gas and explode while in flight.

He was also a serial shagger, a plunderer of females, who’d hooked up with Jodie Scwhitzer, an American now living over here after a failed career in US TV movies about bulimia, teen murderesses, child abuse and cancer. There was also a rumour, supported by several witnesses, that Neil was a practicing necrophile.

‘Hey,’ I said, ‘I know Jodie, I could pop over, get the skinny on the episode!’ Saggy agreed this was an excellent idea and the next morning I was ringing the bell that hung off Jodie’s gated front door frame on the World’s End Estate. I was out there a while, 12 hours to be precise, but eventually Jodie answered and was delighted to see me; I could tell by the way the veins in her chest glowed bright green.

‘What do you want, Ed?’ she said; she was always bright eyed and bubbly; that, and not that she was thought to have no self-respect, is why men loved her, myself included. I told her I was here to see Neil, as I’d heard he was involved in Doctor Who. She professed to have no idea what I was talking about, such was the security surrounding the episode I suppose, but eventually she allowed me in and told me to wait in the living room, though I’d have to clear the sofa of rancid kebab meat and empty wine bottles first.

Neil eventually entered, broadly resembling the man I’d heard described and perhaps once seen long long ago in The Milkmaid’s Teat on The Old Kent Road. He was completely naked with a painfully distended penis, shaped like an anchor. Its length was no mystery; the glans were pierced and weighed down with a bullring the size of a stately home doorknocker. It had rusted badly. There was an arrow tattooed on his front that ran from his pubic weed to his man mams that read “this way up”. He was emaciated and coloured like bladder fill. He was a writer alright.

I introduced myself as a bit of a Who obsessive and told him how excited I was that a writer of one of my favourite TV programmes was living close by. I’d heard that the forthcoming episode contained major revelations about the Doctor’s origins, only a few of which would contradict the novel Lungbarrow, and I begged him to tell me more, so I could immediately post them to my blog.

‘Wha-, who the fuck are you?’ was all he’d say, the very model of non-disclosure. He made a good show of feigning ignorance of his own work, going as far as to claim that he’d never heard of Doctor Who, that he wasn’t a writer, and icing it all with a threat to stamp on my crotch until it ‘caved in’ if I didn’t ‘fuck off now’.

Well Steven, you know full well that a true fan can’t be dissuaded by such protectionist rhetoric, the programme belongs to us, so I wasn’t going to be fobbed off with denials. I refused to leave, telling Gaiman that his name was in print in this week’s Radio Times, so there was no mistake, and I demanded satisfaction. Even as he came down on my talismanic ovoids with the full force of his heel, buttressing them with a size 13 network of bones encrusted in calluses and sores, I refused to move, reasoning that he’d relent when he saw the scale of my commitment.

I don’t remember passing out but it’s a fact, else how to explain waking up in a skip under darkness? That wasn’t the end, Steven, I went back, banging on Gaiman’s window, demanding to know if Idris really was The Doctor’s spouse, but stubbornly, he’d only appear on the balcony, wielding a giant fruit bat, a bat swung with extreme prejudice into my shoulder, and again into my ribs. They splintered like an Endor tree trunk blasted by an Imperial All Terrain Scout Transport. When I was discharged from hospital a couple of hours later, I caught him again, this time returning to the flat, still naked and late of Cost Cutter.

‘Neil,’ I shouted after him, ‘C’mon man, won’t you at least tell me how you put it together, so I can write my own Doctor Who script?’

But all he’d do is run after me, Steven. He even threw one of his bags at my back. I was badly hurt, I think by a tin of peaches, and I didn’t dare ask any more questions after that. It’s Jodie I feel sorry for.

So, I had to watch it unfold like everyone else and low and behold, the rumours were true, it was a lore-fest, an episode of great depth and invention. The Doctor has TWO JACKETS! Half an hour later, I still couldn’t believe it. Did you sanction that, Steven? I suppose you must have.

Don’t take this the wrong way, because I know you’re a delicate flower, but I think Neil’s episode may be my favourite, or at least one of my favourites. It seems to me that Neil, for all his perversions, hard drinking and unchecked aggression, understands Doctor Who very well, in fact, this episode played like the Doctor’s personality writ large; it was mad, disturbed, occasionally dark, mind-bending and sweet. The conceit of filling a fem with the TARDIS’s consciousness could have been awful. In the hands of a sober writer, I dread to think what might have happened, but Neil was the right man to make that bird fly.

Idris, a glorious eccentric, was the perfect personification of the TARDIS, a sort of female mirror of The Doctor. Neil, though his relationship with Jodie is a notable exception, understands that long-term couples often grow to resemble each other, inheriting their opposite’s quirks and mannerisms. Idris then, was The Doctor’s wife in essence, though not legally of course, and his affection for her, aged and deep, resonated because we’ve long known it to be true; everything about this story felt right to the time travelling connoisseur.

Steven, you’re to be commended for asking Neil to write this episode. His love for the series is obvious and he’s got a temperament to match. Looking back on it, which isn’t hard as it was less than an hour ago, Gaiman’s to be commended for writing such a densely packed 45 minutes. I loved the idea of a Byronic Time Lord with Tom Baker’s height, as well as the callousness with which he was first introduced, then served up as a memory and a set of used body parts. Neil’s such a tease. We saw more of the TARDIS’s interiors at long bloody last, which is a neat corrective and an important link with the classic series. We now know that Time Lords can change sex, which will have lead to some air punching amongst the show’s small but loyal band of transgender viewers, and did I mention the two jacket thing? I don’t know if I’ll get over that in a hurry.

It was funny, it was creepy, it was fresh and meaty; can you please commission Neil to write another one? While you’re at it, could you put pressure on him to leave Jodie? While he was stamping on my groin I noticed some bite marks on her cleavage.

Yours in time and cyberspace,


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have to confess to being one of those bastards who search out spoilers. Not to ruin the fun for everyone else but to satisfy my own impatience. That said, nothing could have prepared me for tonight’s awesomeness. Even though I knew it had something to do with a anthropomorphic version of the TARDIS, it was something quite wonderful, akin to finding out a dear friend has a secret hobby of which you quite approve.

    • I knew nothing about the episode, and still don’t, and that made it a real treat.

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