JIM SHELLEY: Doctor Who vs the Daleks? This felt more like a woke netball teacher taking on a gang of psychotic dustbins
Doctor Who was a surprisingly enjoyable way to welcome in the New Year with the family, albeit mostly because you didn’t need a degree in astrophysics to understand it, unlike the pompous waffle about the destruction of the universe by ‘Flux’ that blighted the last series. That was a world of pain if ever there was one…
Jodie Whittaker spending Eve Of The Daleks being repeatedly EX-TER-MIN-ATED was also decidedly gratifying for those of us who said from the start that she was miscast and that the historic first female Doctor should be more like Beyoncé, Killing Eve’s Villanelle or Daenerys Targaryen from Game Of Thrones, not a netball teacher so woke she wanted to understand the aliens’ feelings and persuade them that genocidal interplanetary warfare was wrong.
After a while, though, her calamitous effect on the ratings, which saw the show losing over a million viewers, meant the symbolism of seeing Whittaker being EX-TER-MIN-ATED was just too poignant, and actually gratuitous.
Shocking: Jodie Whittaker (right) spending Eve Of The Daleks being repeatedly EX-TER-MIN-ATED was also decidedly gratifying for those of us who said from the start that she was miscast
Whittaker should have just been put out of her misery when she’d finished her last series, not made to spend the first of three additional ‘specials’ in 2022 being zapped as her punishment.
It proved Whittaker’s biggest foe was not the Daleks but Doctor Who show-runner Chris Chibnall, who wrote the episode and had set the tone for her era as the iconic Time Lord.
In their previous New Year’s Day encounter (in 2019) she told the Daleks: ‘Get off my planet. This is my final, final warning – because I’m nice!’ At least this time Whittaker got to fight the psychotic dustbins properly, in the great tradition of her predecessors.
Unfortunately, rather shamefully, Chibnall’s script decreed that the first female Doctor still wasn’t up to it, struggling to defeat even a couple of Daleks spending their New Year’s Eve trying to kill the only occupants of an inexplicably under-used storage unit in Manchester.
Sarah (Aisling Bea) and Nick (Adjani Salmon) were a pair of lovable loners but did more to foil the Daleks than The Doctor, who had caused the ‘time loop’ that prompted their arrival.
The Daleks were so useless they couldn’t even blast their way through the door of Nick’s unit.
John Bishop’s character Daniel managed to evade the fatal death ray simply by running rings round and round the Dalek.
EX-TER-MIN-ATED: It proved Whittaker’s biggest foe was not the Daleks but Doctor Who show-runner Chris Chibnall, who wrote the episode and had set the tone for her era as the iconic Time Lord
Sadly the action only served to highlight Whittaker’s shortcomings, lacking the intelligence of predecessors like Peter Capaldi and Christopher Eccleston. Brainless…
When The Doctor insisted, ‘I can fix this’, the storage unit’s owner Sarah carped: ‘You haven’t done a very good job so far, have you?’ pointing out that they kept getting EX-TER-MIN-ATED – even though The Doctor knew what was going to happen when they went back in time and returned to life a minute nearer midnight.
Instead, Whittaker was charging around in a frantic panic or giddy with excitement, making ‘inspirational’ rallying calls worthy of David Brent taking his team paintballing: ‘We go again and we win! Come on you brilliant humans!’
Admittedly, The Doctor did blow up the Daleks eventually, albeit after they’d EX-TER-MIN-ATED everyone eight or nine times.
Whittaker showed tremendous pluck, given she’s been a Dead Woman Walking for months, but unfortunately the legacy of Chibnall’s scripts is that her replacement almost certainly won’t be female.
So we can probably rule out Michaela Coel, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Vivienne Westwood.
The favourites, Olly Alexander and Omari Douglas (stars of screenwriting guru Russell T. Davies’s It’s A Sin) would shake things up, but why not Danny Dyer, Liam Gallagher or José Mourinho – more radical choices who also have the necessary charm?
I can also think of another candidate who has the old-fashioned eccentricity of a Jon Pertwee or Sylvester McCoy and a definite ratings winner. Which of us wouldn’t like to see Boris Johnson being launched into orbit, to another galaxy billions of light years away, to take on an army of Cybermen – or even just a handful of Weeping Angels?