With Peter Capaldi seemingly deciding to rock the Lou Reed look during The Magician's Apprentice, could there be more to his choosing to riff on the former Velvet Underground man's sense of style than mere cosmetic reasons?
If we were to look at this through the prism of Lou's musical trajectory, many would see this as Steven Moffat's answer to Metal Machine Music, going against New-Who form having cast an older man to replace Matt Smith, and in the process splitting the fans down the middle.
Some love the sense of discord, while others bemoan it. And Saturday night's opening squall of guitar feedback is surely the sign, if any was needed, that Moffat is happy to be seen as the enfant terrible now that he's ripped up the rulebook.....
In a sense, then, the Eleventh Doctor's time in the TARDIS could be seen as the Transformer & Berlin of Steven's time running the show, possibly the two most "mainstream" records of Reed's solo career.
And the Doctor has some experience when it comes to putting bands together!
"Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor. Last of the five good 'uns. Stoic philosopher. Superlative bass guitarist. The Doctor really knows how to put a band together."Capaldi himself has of course wrapped his vocal cords around Pale Blue Eyes, from the Velvet Underground's 1969 self-titled album.
And perhaps the man who cast him was in Reedish mood when handing him the role. Of Metal Machine Music, Lou once said,
"I didn't want to be locked into a particular drum beat, or pattern or a particular key or beat, that was the idea."With his latest leading man at the controls there's a very real sense that Steven might not have that problem while the current Scottish Doctor is calling the tune! He's already exhibited a certain devil may care rock & roll attitude even before picking up the guitar.....
DOCTOR: Why does a hospital need a doctor?And in reality the man who plays him is something of a guitarist, too. As he told the Radio Times,
MORGAN: The Aristotle wasn't always hidden. The Daleks got here before us.
JOURNEY: You don't like soldiers much, do you?
DOCTOR: You don't need to be liked. You've got all the guns.
"I was really delighted to open the script and find the Doctor playing guitar. I think I’d sort of half mentioned it in joking, but I was really delighted that these guys went for it as an idea."He even got to help pick out the instrument he's now been seen playing.
“We had a great day when I went to pick the Doctor’s guitar. We went to Denmark Street and went to various vintage guitar shops, looking for Doctor Who’s guitar. And at first I thought it should be like a Stratocaster or a Telecaster, one of those old classic guitars, but they all started to look like I was having a midlife crisis.
We ended up with a guitar that looked like a Fender Stratocaster that had been described to someone who had never seen one. That [joke] is hilarious, if you’re into guitars...”
In a sense the fourth wall is broken when he's heard playing the bassline to the Doctor Who theme itself, as well as greeting Missy & Clara with a blast of Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman. And there's a possible nod to the Who with his use of the guitar as weapon in axe duels with Bors. Another Pete, Townshend, has of course always claimed the trashing of the gear was an artistic statement- as he explained in a 1968 interview with Rolling Stone.
"It happened by complete accident the first time. We were just kicking around in a club which we played every Tuesday and I was playing the guitar and it hit the ceiling. It broke and it kind of shocked me 'cause I wasn't ready for it to go.Some would conclude that Moffatt is the one doing the smashing, the guiTardis having taken a walloping! Plenty more see it as a reinvigoration when talkin' about regeneration.....
I didn't particularly want it to go but it went. And I was expecting an incredible thing, it being so precious to me, and I was expecting everybody to go, "Wow he's broken his guitar," but nobody did anything which made me kind of angry in a way, and determined to get this precious event noticed by the audience.
I proceeded to make a big thing of breaking the guitar. I pounced all over the stage with it and I threw the bits on the stage and I picked up my spare guitar and carried on as though I really meant to do it."
But since the Twelfth Doctor's emergence its been a real walk on the wild side. Often concerned if he was a good man or not...
Maybe Lou Reed can sum up the Twelfth Doctor succinctly.
"I'll tell ya, I'm a genuinely nice guy. I really am. A real nice guy. But I think I'm temperamental."The old rock & roll animal, wounded but not bowed, much like the Doctor.