Perhaps it’s merely a natural consequence of the gradual decline in educational standards and slipping expectations, but just as it is now much easier to get an A-level than it was in the 18th century, it also seems considerably easier to qualify as a bona fide genius. Or at least, that’s the impression I got watching Doctor Who Confidential this week.
Thankfully, the programme was rather less smugly self-congratulatory than usual, and no wonder – everyone was so in awe of the multiple genii who had contributed to the episode. First up, Davros: crippled scientist, creator of the Daleks and survivor of the Time War, he is (as former Davros actor Terry Molloy helpfully explained), definitely a genius (albeit an evil one). Which seems a fair enough observation, given the scale of his achievements.
And perhaps by extension, it seemed natural enough that the actual designer of the Daleks, Ray Cusick (who we saw being shown around the studio in a patronising way) should have the word genius liberally flung at him by everyone from the lowliest designer to the great Russell T. Genius himself. I mean, after all – Mr Cusick was a designer at the BBC who took a small sum of money and designed the bloody Daleks! Genius.
Davros, genuine genius that he is, has also been realised on screen by several geniuses, Michael Wisher being the first, but look also at Julian Bleach, the current actor in the role – somehow he doesn’t just say the lines but he makes them, like, really really scary! He is an actual genius.
As is Nicholas Briggs, the man who does all the Dalek voices. Yes, you heard – all of them! And he sits in the readthrough talking through a ring modulator and his voice comes out all Daleky and he literally gets applauded by all the other actors! The man, as some Welsh bloke told us whilst shaking his head with a look of awe, is only another fricking genius.
It’s funny, because it had looked to me like these were simply people doing their jobs very well (except Russell T., who only sometimes does his job slightly well, but who to be fair was not actually described as a genius in this episode, I just assume he must be by proxy; and Davros, who certainly did his job very very well but on quite a different scale which I feel maybe does qualify him as a genius of Mozartian proportions). But really – if doing your job well is all you need to do to be a genius, there must be absolutely loads of them, surely?
Except now that I come to think of it, there are quite a lot of people in quite public and important jobs doing them not very well at all. Gordon Brown? Not a genius. Jacqui Smith? Has a long way to go. Alastair Darling? Definitely not one. Robert Mugabe? Well, he is a genius (albeit an evil one).
Short of getting Robert Mugabe to run this country, I wonder if the only solution is for the current production team of Doctor Who to take over government? They might make a bit of a mess of it, throwing in too many ideas and not really developing any of them properly, and no doubt they’ll start lighting bits of our country with pink and green gels – but they’re certainly good enough to make Mark Wright over at the Stage lose all his powers of objectivity when writing reviews. Because indeed, the last episode was “perhaps the most bonkers, delicious, audacious, brilliant, silly, exciting and scary piece of Doctor Who seen in the 45-year history of this crazy, unstoppable TV series” – really!
It’s official, then. Shakespeare’s Lear; Mozart’s Figaro; Da Vinci’s code; Wagner’s Ring; and Doctor Who series 4 episode 12: the Stolen Earth. Genius.