Relevance

I am now getting a childish thrill from the fact that Doctor Who is everywhere at the moment – it’s like it used to be when it was on TV in my youth, when everyone at school would be excited by last night’s cliffhanger. Now everyone is discussing the series again – every magazine is covering it in some way (even Attitude, for crying out loud…) and everyone in the media has something to say about it, from children’s BBC presenters to regional radio DJs and newsreaders.

I’m not one of these fans who is getting all nervy about whether it’s going to be any good. It can’t be any worse than the 1996 TV Movie, after all. And Project: WHO? on BBC Radio 2 yesterday evening made for largely encouraging listening: from what one can tell, the new series is witty, exciting, inventive and well-produced, with fine scripts, fine actors and a clear vision of what it wants to be.

I only had one quibble with what the Executive Producer said – he explained that he insisted that all stories had to have implications on the human race in some way – stories are not allowed to focus on entirely alien cultures, otherwise they won’t have any relevance to a 21st century audience.

With all due respect, Mr T. Davies, bollocks. Do I need to be a Victorian to see the relevance of Nicholas Nickleby? Do I need to be a talking beaver to feel involved in the events of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Is it impossible to relate to the beautifully constructed worlds of Iain M. Banks, having as they do no implications for the human race?

By preventing writers from creating entirely new worlds devoid of human interference, I fear Russell T. Davies is stifling the potential for creativity in approaching ways of making stories “relevant” to human beings. The first ever Dalek story couldn’t have been further away from the human race in terms of location – but it seemed to strike a chord with people, possibly because the idea of a race being forced to retreat into shells as the result of a nuclear war wasn’t all that remote to those viewers. Modern viewers are surely not too stupid to find similar parallels in these days of WMD, even without the human race popping up to make things “relevant”.

More alien planets, please. If I want human beings I’ll watch Newsnight.

Well…

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