Friday, 29 April 2011

Doctor Who: The Doctor's Wife Preview

Neil Gaiman's Doctor Who episode, The Doctor's Wife, is probably the most anticipated script of Series 6. This acclaimed writer (pictured left) has hinted that his character Idris (Suranne Jones, pictured centre) is an "old acquaintance with a new face" and the story is a "love letter to the fans". Gaiman also told DWM that his adventure begins with something or someone we have not seen since The War Games (1969). The official BBC press release provides this synopsis:

"The Doctor receives a distress signal from an old friend. Could there really be another living Time Lord out there? Hopes raised, he follows the signal to a junkyard planet sitting upon a mysterious asteroid in a Bubble universe, populated by a very strange family, as the time-travelling drama continues.
The Doctor, Amy and Rory are given the warmest of welcomes by Auntie, Uncle and Nephew. But the beautiful and insane Idris greets them in a more unusual fashion – what is she trying to tell the Doctor? As the Doctor investigates, he unwittingly puts his friends in the gravest danger."
So who or what is Idris, and can she really be the Doctor's wife? In Welsh mythology, King Idris was a giant whose seat was Cader Idris, a mountain ridge in Snowdonia. He was an astronomer who had the power to mete out madness, death, or even poetic inspiration. Idris was also an Islamic prophet (known as Enoch to Christians).
The name itself is of Celtic origin (Latin=Idrus, English=Ider), meaning "ardent" or "righteous". Of most interest to Whovians, is the literal interpretation of this boy's name: "running lord" could easily apply to the Doctor himself. Indeed, at the top of the new season opener, The Impossible Astronaut, the Doctor declares that he's been "running" all his life.
There has been much speculation that Idris is a TimeLady. Then who, or how? Or is she in fact a manifestation of a/the TARDIS? Remember the proto-TARDIS travel machines employed by the WarLord's race for their War Games? The acronym SIDRAT was used just once in that mammoth story, and it's meaning was only revealed 10 years later in Malcolm Hulke's novelisation: Space and Inter-Dimensional Robot All-purpose Transporter.
If they survived the fate of the unnamed Aliens, did the SIDRATs end up on Gaiman's scrapyard planet? Or did the TimeLords confiscate the rogue time capsules and augment them with TARDIS technology to create an advanced, organic version (akin to the Type 102, see below), codenamed Idris? Why bother? Did they just scrap these inferior models, which were the result of stolen tech, and short-lived anyway?
The BBC Books' Eighth Doctor adventures (EDA) range (1997-2005) featured a companion, called Compassion. She was born on 26th century Earth as Laura Tobin, and her race, the Remote, were originally human. Compassion first met the Doctor in Interference: Book One, and by the time of her final story, The Ancestor Cell, she had evolved into a living TARDIS (the Type 102). The Doctor and Fitz even used her to flee the TimeLords via her own Randomiser, and built-in weapons system.
The revelation that Idris is in reality a time-machine in humanoid form (or even a reengineered stellar device) doesn't seem so outlandish then (what became of the Hand of Omega after destroying Skaro)? However, in Rise of the Cybermen, the Doctor says that his was the only surviving TARDIS in the universe, and we last saw secret TimeLord tech when the Daleks stole the Genesis Ark.
The Doctor's Wife is broadcast on BBC1, on Saturday May 14th, and features the return of the Ood.
The cast also includes Big Finish co-star Adrian Schiller (Uncle), Elizabeth Berrington (Auntie), and Michael Sheen (voice of House), who also appeared in The Deal (2003, Channel 4) as Cherie and Tony Blair. Their co-stars were Who guest actors David Morrissey, Ian Hanmore, John Normington, and Clare Clifford.

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