Doctor Who: A Recordered History - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: A Recordered History

Christopher Morley charts the Doctor's love of the recorder...

An old body has just worn a bit thin. Stunned, the First Doctor's companions Ben & Polly watch as the face they'd known for only a brief while in the grand scheme of things changes before their very eyes! The man who eventually rises from the TARDIS floor as the result of what was termed first ''renewal'' & then ''regeneration'' has some acclimatising to do-
''Stop. Stop. Concentrate on one thing. One thing! It's over. It's over.''
For him, perhaps. Having taken a little time to appraise his new body it seems he's reasonably satisfied with his lot! That settled, its time to have a little look through his things. Finding a mirror, through which he sees his old face, and a dagger- ''Ah! The Crusades, from Saladin. The Doctor was a great collector, wasn't he?'' That he was, though the new chap doesn't seem to believe he could have been the old chap he saw in that mirror. Taking out a magnifying glass, he looks at his hands. Next he finds a little something that he takes to instantly, & dances a jig while playing a happy tune.

It's a recorder, & he'll become quite attached to it! After tucking it into his pocket, he'll start to read through his 500 Year Diary. The humble wind instrument will stay by his side or at his lips throughout his TARDIS tenure. Seen in colour, its plain with natty blue stripes- check out The Three Doctors and his silenced attempt to tootle out I Am The Walrus upon it! ''I am he, & he is me...''

While he may have been frustrated in his attempts to learn a pop hit of the day, he is at least able to blend in with a little traditional Scottish music post-renewal in The Highlanders, having managed to get himself captured & thrown in a cell. Squeaking out Scotland The Brave with accompaniment from Jamie on bagpipes allows both to escape The Nameless City of the Archons after a close encounter with the Necronomicon, too!

Playing to amuse himself having been taken prisoner is something of a recurring theme, as he does it again in both The Abominable Snowmen & The Web Of Fear, as well as in The Roundheads- his entry in the Doctor Who History Collection, recently reprinted. Its also taken out while visiting the scene of The Macra Terror and Atlantis, as part of The Underwater Menace & to blend in as part of a parade in a bid to get back to the TARDIS with the minimum of fuss in The Wheel Of Ice.....

Jamie goes so far as to force him to leave it behind in The Enemy Of The World, the spoilsport! Given where they land he might've been tempted to tease out a few bars of Oh, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside...

The ultimate sacrifice is made to thwart Omega when he gives up his recorder, having been sent to assist by Goth, then a Celestial Intervention Agent disguised as Lemuel Gulliver within the Land Of Fiction after returning at the culmination of The Mind Robber (off-screen) to find the forgotten aid to his thinking. Oh, the trauma....
DOCTOR: How do we know that he'll take the generator? What if he should refuse?
DOCTOR : Ah, I've found it.
DOCTOR: Found what?
DOCTOR: My recorder. It must have been there all the time. Right in the corner of the force field.
DOCTOR: Well, don't touch it.
DOCTOR : I wasn't going to.
DOCTOR: Don't you understand? It's exactly what we want. Far better than the force field generator.
DOCTOR: Oh no, not my recorder!
DOCTOR: I'll get you another one. I'll get you a hundred, I'll get you a thousand of them. Come on.
While he never gets the promised hundred or indeed thousand, he does get a trip to an alien music shop to find a replacement in the short story Briefly Noted.

Patrick Troughton himself was an accomplished player, and jumped at the chance to work his musical hobby into his portrayal of the Doctor! But the recorder wasn't always a mere tune-wrangler. Inventive use as a spyglass of sorts is its modus operandi in both The Wheel In Space and The Invasion.

Nostalgia surrounds its reappearance, of sorts, in The Masque Of Mandragora- look at what Sarah-Jane has in her hands...

And again during Castrovalva when the Fifth Doctor attempts to play it once more...

The now younger looking than ever chap in cricketing gear will lapse into his former personality for a spell, too.
DOCTOR: Not far now, Brigadier, if the Ice Warriors don't get there first. Oh no. Oh dear. We've wandered into the wrong corridor. We must be close to the main TARDIS drive now. Jamie. Jamie, you go back.
ADRIC: No. I have to stay with you, Doctor.
DOCTOR: No, nonsense, be sensible, go back! When I say run, run! Don't you understand? The regeneration is failing.
Might he try the recorder again? A definite '' No ''. But it left its mark, and so we say thank you for the music!

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