It’s a dystopian parallel world in which no time traveller ever wants to find themselves – Celebrity Wrestling is ITV’s flagship show, every piece of 1960s television is no longer missing but destroyed, the end, and Doctor Who never returned in 2005. Yes, the 50th anniversary celebrations have been starved of Eccleston’s northern soul, Tennant’s sand shoes, Matt Smith’s bow tie and John Hurt’s gravelly tones. The Ood are still languishing in the back of Russell T’s brain, and the Moff is having to content himself with the comedic briefness of The Curse of Fatal Death.
It’s hard to imagine what the 50th anniversary would have looked like had the series not returned in 2005, although I think the 40th anniversary ‘shindig’ gave us a chilling glimpse into this hellish alternate reality (The Dark Dimension, if you will…).
For a start, there would have been no ‘new Who‘ to speak of. Not in any acceptable sense. If , in 2013, Aunty Beeb were still refusing to commit to a brand new series of adventures, then I really think it would be goodnight, Vienetta. There’s no way they’d have funded a special 50th anniversary episode, unless the Dimensions in Time team were gagging for another slice of the action. My best guess is that Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy would have been wheeled out on The One Show to perform a specially-written skit by Paul Cornell, with the Plasmatons and a rather wobbly-looking Dalek invading the BBC parking lot. And we fans, like gluttons for punishment, would have swarmed the Twittersphere to debate its canonicity, before speculating whether this was an indication of a new series from the BBC.
The main television presence would have been in the form of piecemeal shows such as Doctor Who Mastermind and Strictly Come Doctor Who Dancing featuring Nicholas Briggs and Ian Levine, with Bonnie Langford presenting. There would have been a few Dalek-shaped idents on BBC Three, just so the BBC could show that it ‘cared’ about its cultural heritage, although, in reality, we fans would have been weeping into our Loose Cannon DVDs.
And despite the fact that every black and white episode is missing in this terrifying alternate reality I’ve created, I still think Philip Morris would have achieved the impossible by recovering The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear. Although there would have been no press conferences, no global conspiracies – just a small exclusive in the Christmas edition of the Radio Times, with a couple of grainy clips on the official Doctor Who website.
On the plus side, I think Big Finish would have been really flying the flag for the show, and we starved Whovians would have been able to enjoy their 50th anniversary audios such as The Light at the End whilst gradually coming to the realisation that this is the only form of ‘new Who‘ we were ever likely to get. And given the increasing popularity of YouTube, fans would have created special cartoon versions of these episodes using the Big Finish soundtracks, with animation that would make Scream of the Shalka look like James Cameron’s Avatar.
So thank goodness Doctor Who returned in 2005! We’re incredibly lucky. I know it’s frustrating with the curtailed episode counts and split seasons and missing episode politics but, really, we’ve never had it so good. The alternative is so much worse, and doesn’t bear thinking about – a universe where the laws of physics have been devised by the mind of a mad man! No thank you.
Let’s raise a glass to the BBC and the good Doctor, and be ever-thankful that Peter Capaldi is on his way, and that Gallifrey Falls No More.
To be continued…
…in November 2063!