A glimpse into the past of the Time Lords now, as an ancient enemy rises from confinement at their hands to hunt down the last of their kind. The Kin have returned, to draw the Eleventh Doctor into a trap. For he is the last of those who had imprisoned them, & they want revenge........
Set post-The Time Of Angels, Nothing O'Clock is, at least chronologically for the Doctor, Neil Gaiman's first attempt at writing for him. Not for the want of trying, though! The author had resisted all previous attempts to persuade him to write for any pre-2005 novel ranges, preferring to wait until the TARDIS had rematerialised on the small screen. Then came The Doctor's Wife, the fruition of that long-held dream, which we'll come to later in considering Gaiman's contributions to Doctor Who.
Nothing O'Clock originally served as the final short story in the Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories anthology released to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the series, with Neil trying out a radically new way for the alien threat of the Kin to take Earth. In a surreal twist they attempt to buy our planet outright & evict the occupants! Just to confuse matters further they are many & one at the same time. Right you are then. And the backdrop to part of all this is a village almost exactly like Leadworth, some time after Amy had been invited to say goodbye to it & hello to everything else the universe has to offer.
If you've yet to get hold of a copy of the anthology, a sample of the first chapter of Nothing O'Clock is available here.
From print to screen now as we take a look at The Doctor's Wife, Neil Gaiman's first contribution to televised Doctor Who.
A new frontier for the TARDIS as she enters a human host body & finally gets the chance to interact with the Doctor beyond taking him where he needs to be! And the root of their summons to a different universe entirely is an errant hypercube, which the Doctor believes to be from another Time Lord in trouble. Might there be hope for his people after all? Of course he's dealt with the handy temporal postal system before, just prior to his third regeneration, his message spelling the end for the incarnation he's clearly picked up plenty from in his current one.
JAMIE: Doctor, what's that?The universe is about to deliver him another bit of post!
DOCTOR: It's a box, Jamie.
JAMIE: I know. I can see that.
DOCTOR: It's a very special sort of box. It now contains all the information about what's been going on here, and an appeal for help.
JAMIE: Help? Who from?
ZOE: The Time Lords?
DOCTOR: Yes, Zoe.
JAMIE: Well, why haven't you asked them for help before?
DOCTOR: I've never really needed it before, Jamie, but this business of sending everyone back to their own times is, well, it's too difficult for me.
DOCTOR: Oh, come here. Come here, you scrumptious little beauty.In that moment messageboards were probably ablaze with new debates on gender politics & Doctor Who!
RORY: A box?
AMY: Doctor, what is it?
DOCTOR: I've got mail. Time Lord emergency messaging system. In an emergency, we'd wrap up thoughts in psychic containers and send them through time and space. Anyway, there's a living Time Lord still out there, and it's one of the good ones.
RORY: You said there weren't any other Time Lords left.
DOCTOR: There are no Time Lords left anywhere in the universe. But the universe isn't where we're going. See that snake?The mark of the Corsair. Fantastic bloke. He had that snake as a tattoo in every regeneration. Didn't feel like himself unless he had the tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times. Ooo, she was a bad girl.
Gaiman would of course subsequently return with Nightmare In Silver, which was a comparative damp squib at least in the eyes of the critics. Something Neil finds hard to accept,
"It was one of those things that fascinated me watching Matt: sensible people who should’ve known better assuming that the Eleventh Doctor was just Matt Smith, and I’m going, ‘No, that’s a part that he’s playing,’ and he’s an incredible, fantastic actor, who is, as the Doctor, capable of this enormous range, and yet there’s a lot of stuff he’s not doing.
So I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be amazing to have him go up against himself?’ Which is something that, even though it’s a staple of sci-fi drama, is not something that’s ever happened in Doctor Who."
Would he return to write for Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor? Speaking to the Radio Times post-Nightmare, he said,
"Whenever I'm in the UK, I sneak into meetings with [the production team]. They say, 'Can you do another one?!' and I say, 'Yes! But not yet!'"Though he remains keen, to his credit!
"Now I'm just sort of hoping that I can get one done while Peter Capaldi is still the Doctor, because it would be a very sad thing if I lost my chance to write for a grumpy, Scottish Doctor. I haven't done an episode set on Earth yet and I haven't created a new monster. So there are boxes left to tick. And there's part of me that feels… I haven't scared anybody yet. I'd love to do something that sends adults behind the sofa too and makes them wee."Whether he's any closer to achieving that yet, nobody knows. Series Eight passed him by & he ruled himself out of Nine....
"[...] because of ridiculous work commitments I’m trying to get out from under. I am determined to write for Peter Capaldi. As long as Peter is Doctor Who, I will write for him.The effort involved would seem to faze him at times, too!
I go see [producer] Brian Minchin and Steven Moffat, and none of us are going to let me go off the boil."
"The problem for Doctor Who for me is it’s an enormous time commitment, partly because you’re reinventing an entire world with every episode. And you’re trying something that’s never been done before with every episode.But is there more to come?
Then you write it, then you give in a script, then they tell you how much it would actually cost to shoot your script as written. Then you write a different script, then they tell you how much that script would cost, but they tell you you’re in the right direction. Then it’s the third script…"