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Samizdata quote of the day

“I like Canary Wharf. It is where Dr Who fought against the Cybermen.”

A friend of mine, who as you can tell, is a Dr Who fanatic. I will never be able to think of London’s new financial district in quite the same way again.

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27 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Ah, but: Where did the very first encounter between the Doctor and the Cybermen take place?

    –a REAL Doctor Who fanatic ;-)

  • Yes, and the angels have the phonebox.

  • A tracking station at the North Pole?

    I think the first Cybermen were the most creepy withtheir oooodd tall-kiiiing andmonotone voi-iiii-ce uttered from a round open but unmoving mouth.

  • guy herbert


    First in whose timeline?

  • RAB

    Ah Dr Who!
    I watched the very first episode, and not from behind the sofa either!
    That kind of stuff has never bothered me. Though the first one, William Hartnell (was it?) was genuinely scary!
    After him we had a parade of light comic actors in the part.
    The revived series is, in my humble opinion, the best ever.
    Ahem, None the worse for being shot in Cardiff either!
    The episode where the Dr becomes a human teacher to avoid the Family, the one with the animated scarecrows, was all shot in the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagans that I have banged on about occasionally.
    If any of you fanatics are interested, I’ll organise the coach party, like they do for Last of the Summer wine fans and Herriot country tours….:-)

  • I remember a very early episode from black & white days with the doctor and Sarah inside a space-bubble on the moon.
    The dastardly Cybermen were shooting mortars from outside, and these soundlessly made holes in the bubble through which the air escaped.
    They were running about inside stuffing the holes to stop the atmosphere escaping.
    Horrifying.Also the Cybermen in the London Underground, with the soldiers from Unit trying to get through the foam barrier; they collapsed and had to be pulled out by rope, and when they were, they had …changed…..

  • nick g.

    I think the first Cyber-peoples were encountered on a planet beyond Pluto. “monbos”? Something like that. They were being poisoned by the planet, and so went in for mechanical substitutes. I’m not sure how they stayed warm up til then- as a child, you don’t ask questions like that!
    A lot of the old series seems to be anti-machine. The Daleks were aliens in a body-armour tank, after all.
    Where can I get a sonic screwdriver? They’re quite useful devices. I’d like one for Xmas, please.
    Even the spin-off ‘Torchwood’ isn’t so bad, though it does seem as though it has been pitched to the Americans, with the Yank Captain in charge.

  • Julian Taylor

    I think the first Cyber-peoples were encountered on a planet beyond Pluto. “monbos”? Something like that. They were being poisoned by the planet, and so went in for mechanical substitutes.

    Always suspected this about George Monbiot.

  • guy herbert

    Even the spin-off ‘Torchwood’ isn’t so bad… if you discount the surfeit of risible helicopter shots of Cardiff. I’m sure there is plenty of dramatic scenery to overfly in South Wales, but Cardiff itself is not even Bristol to look at, let alone New York or Vegas whence the trope has been borrowed.

  • The older Dr. Who series were quite good.
    The current ones are awful. Not for the actors or anything, but for the world view that is assumed.

    All men are bumbling, hesitant-if-not-cowardly, or avaricious and self-serving. Women are either ditzy middleaged frumps or empowered, smart, independant types, with spunky attitudes and a nice shape.

    Except for the Dr. of course, who is the final judge and arbiter for all of incompetant humanity.

    They have turned Dr. Who into a propaganda peive for uber-left feminism and pro-Marx, soc1al1st ideals.


  • An interesting commentary on the pervasiveness of television in JoeBlogg’s perception of the world.

  • Dave

    Cybermen – an Antartic tracking station in 1986 during the first Manned Mars landing. “The Tenth Planet”, refering to Mondos, home of the Cybermen – who were human until they upgraded themselves. At the end of the episode was the first regeneration.

    TomWright: I think you’ve a very selective memory about old Doctor Who. The Doctor has always been a demi-god like figure in his superiority over humanity. Tom Baker, Sylvester McCoy and, in particular, William Hartnell’s Doctors were big on that.

    Sarah Jane Smith was one of the first feminist icons to travel with the Doctor, not to mention Zoe and a few others who considered themselves to be the equal of the Doctor.

    The stories are littered with greedy businessmen who are willing to do deals with aliens to gain extra power – the earliest I remember seeing where that was central to the plot was “Spearhead from Space” which was Jon Pertwee’s first – but there are plenty of others. The first season story where the TARDIS is shrunk was about a pesticide company forcing a dangerous chemical onto the market to make money.

    The “nice shape” has been a constant of the Doctor’s female companions since the very very beginning.

  • Eric Jablow

    But why did your friend refer to the character as “Dr. Who,” instead as “The Doctor”? I thought that just wasn’t done.

  • darkbhudda

    Sarah Jane may have been one of the first “feminist” icons, but only because the word wasn’t necessary before then.

    Susan, the Doctor’s grand-daughter was originally going to be more like Mrs Emma Peel from The Avengers complete with being an expert in kung fu.

    The actress who played Polly chose to play a coward because at the time TV was full of action females and not playing one would mean her character was different from the norm. That was the 60s BEFORE feminism supposedly changed the way women were perceived on TV.

    Zoe bragged about having a higher IQ than the Doctor, and it was backed up in The Dominators.

    I could go through every female companion, but basically people who say the new companions are empowered and the old ones weren’t need to actually check their facts.

    Sure we had “empowered” females in the original series but we also had male heroes. Almost every single man is a coward or a villain in the new series. And almost every single female is a hero.

    In the original series when women were “empowered” they actually displayed it. They had courage or intelligence or other admiral traits. Now on telly all you need is a pair of ovaries and you’re automatically superior in every way.

    The third season of the new series was a vast improvement and had many great episodes. The first season had a very weak Doctor so as to raise the status of the companion. If someone is meant to be the equal of The Doctor, write them as such. Don’t make him weak, make them strong, funny, courageous, smart. Contrary to popular opinion, Rose wasn’t the first

    The second series had The Doctor and Rose being way too smug. Supposedly so they could have a “great fall”. Except by that time their smugness made you glad to see the end of her so you didn’t have to deal with it any more.

    They’ve announced the companion for the fourth season and I feel metaphysically violated. Catherine Tate, who played Donna Noble in The Runaway Bride. A character I couldn’t stand for one episode is back for the season.

  • nick g.

    I was nearly right with ‘Monbos’! Do I get a consolation prize? Can I have the working plans to a sonic screwdriver, so I can build my own?

  • RAB

    If you were expecting a hissy fit in defence of my birthplace Guy, I’m afraid I will have to dissapoint you!
    You are right. Cardiff is not a photogenic city. Too young pretty much nothing there until the 1860s.
    Thats one reason I live in Bristol. As you say much easier on the eye!!
    As everybody knows Casualty is shot in Bristol. They are particularly fond of St Andrews Park just behind my house. The thing that cracks us locals up though is the continuity. You get a shot of a character coming out of a house, walking into the park and then magically they are down by the harbourside! Only with a teleporter folks!
    DarkBhudda What happened to the Susan plotline? She was the grand daughter of the Doctor so therefore must have been a time Lord. Yet in the last series The doctor and the Master are the only two left.

  • Nick M

    Ah continuity… As someone who grew up in the environs of Newcastle I can attest to the spectacular continuity errors of Byker Grove.

    Susan is an enigma. Yes, if we take the Dr’s line that she is his grand-daughter literally then she must also be a Timelord. It’s all a glorious mess.

    And could somebody please explain quite how the Timelords are extinct rather than merely exist in the past. I mean think of it like this. Imagine your cat croaked in 1997 but you’ve got a Tardis. What’s to stop you going back to ’96 and tickling the pet under his chin and giving him a tin of Whiskas? In what meaningful way are the dinosaurs extinct if you have the capacity to travel (essentially at whim) through all of time and space? The real dinosaurs are no less accessible than their animatronic chums in Florida theme-parks.

    BTW, folks. Did ya see that baby mammoth. I would love it if they could code the buggers up from their DNA. It would be grand. They’d be useful beasts of burden for the Siberian logging business and we’d have mammoth rides and mammoth ribs and it would be just magic.

  • Dave

    You have to think of the Doctor as a survivor of a massive paradox. The Time Lords are gone because they never existed, not in the past, not anywhere. Essentially what ever the Doctor did in the Time War with the Daleks errased both of them from history completely – they never existed.

    Essentially finishing the job that the Doctor was meant to have done in Genesis of the Daleks.

    Yeah, I know, you could drive a truck through the holes in the logic. They first broached this in the BBC Books series of New Adventures (after they took the franchise back from Virgin). The actual Time War was handled differently there. But there is a reason why there’s a book out there called the Dr Who DIS-continuity guide.

  • RAB

    Yeah, I know, you could drive a truck through the holes in the logic.

    Thank god you didn’t say Coach and Horses Dave!
    Or the pumkin might re-appear!

  • Nick M

    Thanks for that. It doesn’t make sense but it is an explanation nonetheless. I asked because I wrote an MSc thesis on Goedelian Cosmology and my understanding of time-travel is (I’m gonna hate myself for saying this) rather Kantian. Or in other words, if it existed then it still exists and other times are analogous to other places. So, for example the year 1704 exists in the same way that Missouri exists even if I’m in neither. This almost certainly contradicts my beliefs wrt to quantum mechanics which is one reason why I don’t think time travel is achievable.

    Another reason is that quite simply time-travel might be theoretically possible but never achieved in practise which neatly obviates all logical paradoxes about murdering your Grandad etc. You might think you just need a DeLorean but the energy estimates are mind-numbing.

    I was mainly interested in things like the amorphous spacetime manifold that exists with a zero stress-energy tensor and Mach’s principle and stuff. Oh that and the fact that Kurt Goedel was the greatest mathematician of the C20th.

    Goedel & Einstein

    And yes, I just can’t be arsed sticking umlauts on stuff. Hence Goedel.

  • Pretty much nothing there.
    Except the castle, built on Roman walls.

  • RAB

    Well until the Butes re-built it, the castle wasn’t much to write home about either.
    Yep Roman foundations in places, but then Caerleon was only 20 miles away. The Biggest Roman garrison in Britain. But apart fron the Motte and Bailey part, all the rest is 19th century fake. Interesting but still fake.My wife studied there incidentally. Along with William Hagues wife. It has a good music school attached of International repute.
    Along with Castell Coch, which is another fake, but of fairytale Disney proportions. I have lost count of the number of times that one has featured in a re-make of the Prisoner of Zenda.
    Wales is beautiful in a million directions, but flying over Cardiff in a helecopter is just plain flat boring!
    And if I can just corrupt WC Fields death bed quote-
    On the whole I’d rather be in Croydon!!

  • Dave

    I’ve found Paul J Nahin’s Time Machines to be the best work I’ve seen on time travel and theorectical concepts. Most of it is way way beyond my physics.

  • nick g.

    Well, KIP, that’s the last time I answer one of your questions! Where’s my prize for closest answer? And perhaps we can suggest new monsters for the series- how many more Dalek or Cybermen stories are feasable?

  • Pa Annoyed


    Not sure why you think quantum mechanics is inconsistent with block time. QM doesn’t have any explicit problem with time travel, since it (apparently) doesn’t include the second law of thermodynamics, which is the only real reason for objecting to it. Indeed, Feynman propagators have FTL and backwards-in-time contributions (that mostly cancel), and anti-matter is often thought of as just time-reversed matter.

    As for whether time travel is possible, have you considered going to live on the other side of the world in India? Since in the instantaneous American frame of reference India is always moving at about 2000 mph, by special relativity all its clocks must run slow. This constitutes a continuous timewarp. (OK, so it’s about one part in a hundred billion, but it’s the principle.)
    Of course, from India’s point of view, America’s clocks run slow too, but it should be easy enough for you to figure out how that works. (Unless you only have a puny Earthling brain, that is.)

    I always liked Dr Who because the hero won not by being stronger, luckier, or through some sickly and unconvincing moral virtue – but by being cleverer. The first film/TV hero I came across who routinely out-thought or who used superior knowledge to win, Dr Who seemed to me pretty unique in that regard. That role-model was one of the reasons I came to be interested in science. I sometimes wonder how many other scientists were so inspired.

  • RAB

    Pa These influences can go horribly wrong too!
    I was was influenced to be a Lawyer by Perry Mason.
    Da da da da da Duh… The music will be playing in your head already.
    So RAB, how do you distinguish who is the guilty party?
    Well he’s the one sitting near the back of the courtroom, getting all the close ups and looking shifty.
    Never the bloke in the dock. You have never seen him except for a microsecond in the last 45 minutes so it only stands to reason. Then he makes a bolt for the door when Perry starts to unravel what Dale dug up for him .
    I got a Desmond on the strength of nonsense like that!
    Then I got a job in the Crown Court.
    Ah that reality was like da movies!