Doctor Who at the BBC: The Plays

I bought this CD of three radio plays related to Doctor Who when in Forbidden Planet in London last month. Two of the three are very good indeed, and I guess I can ignore the third.

In Regenerations, Daragh Carville brings together two of my personal obsessions: Doctor Who and Northern Ireland. I thought it was very good indeed. There are three main plot strands – the local lad with his relatively newly acquired English girlfriend, introducing her to his mates (I’ve never been there, oh no, not at all); the gay couple not sure if their relationship still exists; and the unfortunate organiser of the local Doctor Who convention trying to keep it on the road while his friends’ relationships, and the city around them, descend into chaos.

At the same time, Carville examines three different levels of reality: the diehard Doctor Who fan, of course, insisting that it is all in some way real (the play was written in 2001 and set in 2002, so before the BBC Wales revival was on); the surrealism of Northern Irish politics (at one point Rachel is teasing Ciaran about dressing up as a Cyberman, and the music of a Loyalist marching band, presumably also bizarrely dressed, comes through clearly in the background); and the peculiarities of being gay in Northern Ireland.

All the cast give of their best, including (portraying themselves) Sophie Aldred and Tom Baker. There are some beautifully chosen audio clips from the classic series, tying in perfectly with the themes and plot. I love this play to bits.

You can buy it on the CD, and of course I urge you to do so, or you may find this link helpful. You can also find more reviews of it here and here (also reviews the other two plays on the CD collection).

Blue Veils and Golden Sands, by Martyn Wade, is a biographical sketch of Delia Derbyshire, who was basically into weird sounds and generated the first and still the best version of the Doctor Who theme tune – Ron Grainer, who had written the original sketch of it, requested unsuccessfully that she be co-credited with him as composer. I must say that the life story of someone who is famous for making wacky noises is absolutely made for a radio play, and this is good, though I felt I would have liked to know a bit more; I’m glad to discover from Derbyshire’s obituary in the Guardian that her personal life was not quite as bleak as is portrayed in Wade’s play.

Alas, the set of two CDs also includes Colin Sharpe’s Dalek, I Love You. Apparently Doctor Who fans live with their mothers, are mildly autistic and get swept off their feet by mysterious females. Nigel Kneale did this better with Kinvig twenty-five years ago; and that wasn’t very good in the first place. At least the other two plays are worth the price on the box.

One thought on “Doctor Who at the BBC: The Plays

  1. Also, “A Fix With Sontarans” really does make me sad that Tegan didn’t continue into S22, although I think Janet Fielding was getting fed up.

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