DOCTOR WHO - A return for the Meddling Monk? - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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DOCTOR WHO - A return for the Meddling Monk?

A recent casting announcement has sparked rumours that the Doctor will come face to face with another Time Lord. Not the Master, or even the Rani, but the original renegade Gallifreyan, the Meddling Monk. Christopher Morley looks back at the 'Monk' and weighs up the possibility of his return.

Time Lords come in many shapes & sizes, but did you know one of them is a monk, or at least claims to be? With a TARDIS taking the form of a sarcophagus (see The Time Meddler) the man formerly known as Mortimus announced his arrival on Earth by attempting to intervene in the Battle of Hastings just for fun! But what of his life beforehand?

The novel Divided Loyalties tells us that he was a student of the Time Lord Academy back on Gallifrey at the same time as the First Doctor, the Master, The Rani (The Mark Of The Rani/Time & The Rani) & The War Chief (The War Games)- together they formed a clique known as the ' Deca'. Back then the Doctor's dastardly equals were known by the names of Koschei, Ushas & Magnus respectively. The four were part of an elite group of the ten best students of the Prydonian Chapter, tutored by Borusa ( The Deadly Assassin/The Invasion Of Time/Arc Of Infinity/The Five Doctors).

Like many, after leaving school he eventually found himself a job. This was no Saturday morning hypercube round, though! He became a Celestial Intervention Agent, a period of his life which is said to have sparked his initial interest in mucking about with time- see the novels The Crystal Bucephalus & No Future for a little more background reading. Around fifty years after the Doctor himself first left ' home', Mortimus follows- & in so doing becomes the Monk, an alias he likes so much that his future incarnation keeps it long after he's abandoned the habit & tonsure.

While he fails in his plan to defeat the Vikings & help Harold hang on for a bit, probably not knowing he'll get an arrow to the eye anyway...

...he does at least get a second chance to prove his amoral credentials in an alliance with the Daleks as part of their Master Plan (getting a quick trip to the pyramids for his troubles)...

It's not until eight incarnations later for the Doctor that the two former classmates will lock horns again. The Monk's changed by then, too (voiced by Graeme Garden, the former Goodie taking over from Peter Butterworth). This new Monk first appears in The Book Of Kells, turning up in Ireland in 1006 as 'Abbot Thelonius'- if you know your jazz you'll most likely have guessed who the notorious meddler is ripping off there. Next up for him is The Resurrection Of Mars, helping/claiming to want to help the Ice Warriors, no less! Then it's Lucie Miller/To The Death. Which brings us nicely to all the talk of a new, third Mortimus (Bob Mortimer not yet linked to the role).

But two names in particular have indeed been linked as the next possible captains of the sarcophagus-TARDIS. Probably the most frequent is that of Patrick Stewart, who was reported to be keen after working with Tenth Doctor David Tennant in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet. Lest we forget he also has a certain pedigree when it comes to science fiction, as Trekkies will attest- his best pal Sir Ian McKellen might have badgered him to have a go following his own turn as the Great Intelligence (The Snowmen).

Which opens up the intriguing possibility of the friends working together as a Monk-Intelligence double team! If they can pull off Professor X & Magneto in X-Men it wouldn't be too much of a stretch surely? If it were to happen who can honestly say it wouldn't be amazing.....but there's another with a hat in the ring. The news that Frank Skinner is to have a guest role in the forthcoming Series 8 has sparked rumour that it is he who could be offered the chance to metaphorically don the robe.

Before you dismiss the idea out of hand, don't forget that Peter Butterworth was a comic actor, as his roles in Carry On films will attest- see if you can spot him here...

As was Graeme Garden...

So there's a sense of lineage there more or less straight away. But there's still time yet for the rug to be pulled from under our collective feet.
Perhaps the obvious place to put him in is any period of great historical religious upheaval. Could he have been present at Henry VIII's dissolution of England's monasteries? He could conceivably lead any uprisings against the King's installation of himself as head of the Church of England....possibly passing himself off as Thomas Cromwell, Henry's chief minister. He'd have to be out of there by about 1540, though.

There's even a case for presenting him as a Gallifreyan alternative to the 'recorded history' version of Russia's maddest holy man. The potential story's simple enough- he blags his way into the court of Tsar Nicholas with promises of help to heal young Tsarevich Alexei, then flees following the outbreak of the Revolution in 1917.

He'd be in good company, too- no less than Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor) also played him in Nicholas & Alexandra, with Michael Jayston (The Valeyard) as the Tsar. Whether or not there'd be scope for the new man to at least hum a certain Boney M chart hit would obviously be up to the writer- but if the Doctor can have a recorder surely the Monk can somehow get his hands on a balalaika? Imagine the looks on those assassins' faces when he either survives drinking the poisoned wine or simply regenerates in the aftermath, too!

As a third & final theory as to his possible redeployment, let's head back to Egypt (site of part of The Daleks' MasterPlan as detailed above). Its entirely plausible that the Monk could have set himself up as the vizier or high priest of a Pharaoh at the height of any ruling dynasty's power. Or should he find himself in Rome as his old friend once did (The Romans) or even classical Greece, he might be posing as an augur or pontiff. All of which is of course pure theory, unless Steven Moffatt is reading this & likes what he sees!

But we now open the floor to the General Synod of Warped Factor to you - who would you like to see given the role of the Monk (if indeed your choice hasn't already been linked to the part), & how do you see him being deployed if indeed he does get the chance to renew acquaintance with the Doctor? Answers on Saxon parchment where possible, of course.

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