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Doctor Hugo

So, Doctor Who isn’t sci-fi? Tell that to Steven Moffat, writer of The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and The Girl in the Fireplace – because his Series 1 story just won science fictions most prestigious prize – the HUGO!

Reported both at Outpost Gallifrey and Locus Online, the prize was in the category of “Dramatic Presentation: Short Form”, and beat Doctor Who Series 1 nominees Father’s Day (by Paul Cornell) and Dalek (by Rob Shearman) as well as an episode of “BattleStar: Galactica”! “Short Form” classification distinguishes between television drama and motion pictures and previous winners include “BattleStar: Galactica” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. In fairness, Moffat’s story was a two parter…

It’s difficult to underline exactly how significant this prize is. Past winners of the novel category include Arthur C. Clarke (“Rendezvous with Rama), “Isaac Asimov (“Foundation’s Edge”, “The Gods Themselves”), Neil Gaiman (“American Gods”), WIlliam Gibson (“Neuromancer”), Frank Herbert (“Dune”) and J.K. Rowling (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”). If this doesn’t relate the importance of the award in the world of sci-fi, then nothing will.

The significance of the prize will include Moffat’s profile as well as hopefully make him an automatic choice for Doctor Who scripts in future, as well as a possible choice for a replacement when Russell T. Davies eventually moves on from the show.

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and The Girl in the Fireplace are already regarded as two highlights of the reborn Doctor Who, and this award will improve the series’ profile in the USA, as well as emphasize its relevance to a genre which 3 years ago seemed to have moved as far away from the Doctor Who concept and notion as possible, a genre which in television terms at least seemed to be taking itself far too seriously.

However as with many things surrounding Doctor Who on television, it is much more difficult to say what this will mean for the show. Recognition of this degree means that certainly with Series 1 the production team were doing something right; would a lack of an award, or certainly a lack of nomination for Series 2 indicate that mistakes were made? Should the production team be looking at polishing the tone of the show that was much lighter in Series 2?

Whatever the outcome, it’s fantastic news that a British show should be nominated 3 times for the same category, and even better news that the writer of two of the finest Doctor Who stories of all time, as well as The Curse of the Fatal Death and my third favourite sitcom ever “Joking Apart” (after “Fawty Towers” and “Blackadder”…) and one of my favourite CITV shows ever in “Press Gang” should be the man to take the prize as to be honest I can’t think of anyone currently associated with Doctor Who that can be considered more derserving.

Well done Steven Moffat!

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