My interest was piqued by the following commentary in The News & Star, referring to the new series of Doctor Who employing the services of vampires.
With an increasing amount of the blood sucking undead marching across our screens in a variety of emo ways, our favourite Time Lord has been accused of jumping on a bandwagon with the upcoming episiode Vampires in Venice.
Even Doctor Who has decided to follow the trend by adding in vampires as monsters for one episode, battling against Matt Smith in his debut as the Doctor in the new series.
Ok – there’s obviously a bit of a point here – but the intimation is that Doctor Who is employing vampires as a new villain. In fact, this is further from the truth, as long term and hardcore fans of Doctor Who will know.
A previous trend for vampires – during the mid-1970s – saw a script by Terrance Dicks, The Vampire Mutation, cancelled by then BBC Head of Drama Graeme McDonald amidst fears it might detract from BBC Drama’s lavish Dracula production. This resulted in the serial being put on hold for 3 years, eventually appearing in Season 18 under the title State of Decay.
Trapped in E-Space, the Doctor, Romana, K-9 and the Alzarian stowaway Adric encounter a trio of vampires, Aukon, Zargo and Camilla, in reality the undead remains of a spaceship crew that has somehow become trapped in E-Space. Upon encountering them, the Doctor discovers that an ancient enemy, The Great Vampire, is buried beneath the surface of the planet, and thus the first reference to a war between Time Lords and another race is born.
Fast forward 9 years, and The Curse of Fenric also featured the subject of vampirism in the form of Haemovores. Set during World War II, these hellish creatures were at under the command of Fenric, another ancient enemy of the Doctors. This time however, the vampires were dispelled as their leader the Ancient One killed both himself and the manifestation of Fenric.
Of course these are very different vampires – but that is the beauty of Doctor Who. He can go anywhere, encounter any number of variations on single types of creature and give us 45 minute thrills, compiling the best possible plots in a way that endless ongoing novel, movie and TV series like Twilight, True Blood and Vampire Diaries by their very definition cannot. Additionally, 1980’s State of Decay saw the first popular example of vampires in fiction being given a power and history far beyond the confines of Eastern European castles or a shadowy presence throughout Earth’s history, and elevated them to be a virtual equal of the Time Lords.
With a variety of appearances in spinoff media (novels, audios and Doctor Who Magazine), it seems that the Doctor has had more than his fair share of encounters with vampires already…