Doctor Who: Stirrings From Chibnall's Cafe - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: Stirrings From Chibnall's Cafe

Chris Morley explores the ripples...
Take a seat in Chibnall's Cafe, perhaps with a nice strong cup of tea to hand, as we take an At Childhood's End inspired delve into the televised ripple effect of our soon to be former showrunner's choice to have a nose through Andrew Cartmel's notebooks. We begin with Sylvester McCoy's second story as the man who it was to have been implied was more than just another Time Lord, just as Chibbers did with the woman he cast as the face of the Timeless Child. This was many moons after Survival initially signalled the end for a programme Chibnall had laid into on Open Air in 1986 - though interestingly enough he's only gone & pinched the format of Trial Of A Time Lord for his, and indeed Jodie Whittaker's, own final series....

Onwards, then, to Paradise Towers as the Doctor seeks to recover from his then most recent regeneration by looking for a swimming pool - which presumably the TARDIS doesn't yet have?
MEL: Look, Doctor, look. There's the swimming pool, right at the very top of the building. Oh, it's wonderful. I can't wait to have a dip in that. Paradise Towers, here we come.
DOCTOR: That's the problem with young people today, no spirit of adventure.
Fast forward to his predecessor's second series and Orphan 55, and we have Graham winning a holiday with Team TARDIS along for the ride! Only, in both cases something isn't quite right!
GRAHAM: Yes, Graham, my son, I've got it.
DOCTOR: Got what?
GRAHAM: The sixth coupon from the Bandohzi Herald. Keeps getting delivered by the coffee machine upstairs. Or is it downstairs? Anyway, don't matter. I noticed they've had an offer on. Collect six coupons, get a free holiday.
RYAN: I'm up for a free holiday. Where is it?
GRAHAM: A place called Tranquillity.
In Paradise Towers it's the Caretakers & Kangs roaming the place, while by Orphan 55 Tranquillity becomes the battleground between its human guests & the Dregs as the woman who had been a "Professor" does more than merely battle with a sinister puddle to put things right!

Interestingly enough, it seems the senior Doctor of our pair here is experiencing something of a shift in tone, roughly similar to what would be done with McCoy - where Jodie had started out seemingly channelling the best bits of both former Broadchurch co-star David Tennant as the Tenth & Matt Smith's Eleventh before starting to become a bit more circumspect and brooding as the mystery around her deepened. “My mood's fine.”, as she tells Yaz, though clearly she's fooling no-one.

Sylvester's own initial portrayal of the character was, by his own admission, rooted in the earlier work of Patrick Troughton, a seeming clown who in fact hid a considerable intellect under a bumbling exterior (see also Time & The Rani). It would take Bonnie Langford's exit as Mel during the events of Dragonfire and Sophie Aldred's arrival as Ace to reap the first fruits of what would later be seen as the hint that before he became the Doctor, the man his new companion would jokingly call Professor was in fact the Other - a key figure in the transition from the old, more magically inclined ways of the cult of the Pythia on Gallifrey to the science which led to the creation of the Time Lords themselves.
The man who was in the big chair pre-Chibnall, Steven Moffatt, was invited to expand on this in writing John Smith's fantastical story, basically setting out their origins within the pages of Paul Cornell's Human Nature from the Virgin New Adventures novel range. This was a post-Survival set of further narratives for the former Other, with Marc Platt's Lungbarrow being another touchstone in the plan. Which Chibnall goes and cribs from in his own revision of the beginnings of the Time Lords within The Timeless Children.
“Welcome, Doctor. Are you suffering comfortably? Then I'll begin. Once upon a time... No. Once upon several times, before the Time Lords, before everything we know, there was an explorer. Her name was Tecteun, from a little-regarded, sparsely populated planet called Gallifrey. Tecteun was the first of Gallifrey's indigenous race, the Shobogans, to develop space travel. Dangerous, unsophisticated space travel. She took risks to explore the worlds and galaxies beyond her home. And it was on one of these distant, deserted worlds on the far edge of another galaxy she found something... impossible.

A gateway. A boundary into another unknown dimension or universe. Tecteun glimpsed the infinite through that gateway. And beneath the monument, she found... a child. Abandoned. Alone. Thrown through, seemingly, from the other unknown realm. Tecteun had a choice to make. Abandon or save the child? She chose to rescue the foundling and adopt this refugee from another realm as her own. Together they explored the universe. The child grew older, and finally Tecteun returned to Gallifrey with her new child.

Like any parent, Tecteun wanted to understand her child. She searched for clues as to the child's identity. Where she might be from, what species she could be. But the child would not yield any secrets Tecteun could understand. The child remained a mystery, until playing with a friend, like any other child, there was an accident. A catastrophe... for Tecteun, for the child she'd saved, now lost to her. Or so she thought. The child regenerated. The first regeneration of any person on the planet of Gallifrey. “
And now we've got the big linking thread out of the way, thanks to Sacha Dhawan as the current incarnation of the man played by Anthony Ainley during McCoy's own three series run. Jodie Whittaker is, of course, ending her own three series run alongside Chibnall as both concluded that's a reasonable average length and they were happy enough with that, but with a six-prat series and three specials still to air, will Chibs continue to mine the Cartmel years before he attempts some rest & relaxation of his own - likely not at either Tranquility or Paradise Towers.
“Every great decision creates ripples, like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge, rebound off the banks in unforeseeable ways. The heavier the decision, the larger the waves, the more uncertain the consequences..” borne out in the respective cases of Cartmel & Chibs! Next time we'll look into the Doctor's companions' pasts across Ghost Light, The Curse Of Fenric and Demons Of The Punjab.

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