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“Half an Hour Ago I Was a White-Haired Scotsman”

Last night I watched the first of the new Doctor Who series on BBC TV. It was okay as far as it went but I’m not sure it will have won over any of the easily disgruntled unreconstructed among us who thought the Doctor couldn’t be a woman. There’s no reason why the Doctor wouldn’t be able to change gender – after all the Master already has – but I didn’t think this episode was strong enough as an introduction to the new one.

Jodie Whittaker probably has the chops to make a good doctor but on this evidence I’ll be reserving judgement as to the story-lines.

A curious feature in this one was that there was no introductory theme music – not even after a few minutes in when the problem had been set up. Again I thought that was a mistake.

Then we had, “Half an hour ago I was a white-haired Scotsman.”

No. Half an hour ago you were an alien with two hearts from the planet Gallifrey. You still are. Half an hour ago you may have had a Scottish accent but you were never a Scotsman.

You also said, “I would of.”

You can reboot yourself right there. The correct phrase is “would have” or at a pinch “would’ve”. Don’t do it again.

Floating Daleks

The friends we were visiting in Lancashire last year took us to Blackpool. We went on a tram trip (all the way to Fleetwood) and on the way passed these daleks, and a TARDIS; part of the Illuminations. Photo is a bit blurred due to being taken through the tram window:-

Floating Daleks

Mathematical Time Travel

According to this post from The Daily Galaxy, time travel is mathematically possible.

Not by a time machine as such but in “a bubble of space-time geometry which carries its contents backward and forwards through space and time as it tours a large circular path.”

Ben Tippett from the University of British Columbia has created a formula that describes the method. Unfortunately that formula the does not figure in the post. The method also requires bending of space-time by exotic matter – which hasn’t been discovered yet/ Might as well be Science Fiction.

The bubble is described as a Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domain in Space-time. The acronym spells TARDIS. Ha very ha.

Passages

From the Show Business world of my youth, Mary Tyler Moore.

From the Politics of my young adulthood, asker of the West Lothian Question, hounder of Thatcher over the sinking of the General Belgrano, a real thorn in the side of the establishment, Tam Dalyell. His home The House of the Binns is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. The good lady and I visited there a few years ago now and saw Tam at a distance. He looked frail. We did, though, later strike up a conversation with his wife, Kathleen Wheatley, over armorial china of all things, and she seemed a very down to earth person.

Well-known actor, a memorable Caligula in I, Claudius, also The Naked Civil Servant, The Elephant Man and Doctor of sorts, John Hurt.

Mary Tyler Moore: 29/12/1939 – 25/1/2017. So it goes.
Thomas (Tam) Dalyell: 9/8/1932 – 26/1/2017. So it goes.
John Vincent Hurt: 22/1/1940 – 25/1/2017. So it goes.

Just Like Buses

Today is another anniversary. Again just about inescapable if you’ve been near any BBC outlet the past week or so.

You wait 50 years for an anniversary and then two come along at once….

On 23rd November 1963 a strange, spooky TV programme with a first episode entitled An Unearthly Child appeared on BBC 1.

The programme was of course Doctor Who.

On Thu, 21/11/13, BBC 2 showed a good drama about its genesis, An Adventure in Space and Time. It’s on the iPlayer here.

The BBC has got a bit of a cheek calling it the longest running TV programme, though, considering they axed it for years after Sylvester McCoy’s run finished – apart from the Paul McGann one-off.

For any nostalgia freaks here are all the different title sequences.

Elisabeth Sladen

I was saddened to read today of the death of Elizabeth Sladen who played Sarah Jane, one of the Doctor’s many companions in Doctor Who.

Sad too, that Elisabeth was only 63. It’s no age at all for these days.

I am by no means an inveterate Doctor Who fanboy but have watched the series from its inception up to the present day. Sarah-Jane was the first female companion to be more than just an adjunct to the Doctor. It was a pleasure to see her return to the updated show during David Tenant’s time as the incumbent. I must admit, though, that I didn’t bother with the spin-off Sarah-Jane Adventures; I don’t think they were meant for me anyway.

With the demise of Nicholas Courtney that means two fondly remembered Doctor Who characters’ actors have now gone in less than two months.

Elisabeth Claira Heath Sladen: 1/2/1946-19/4/2011. So it goes.

Nicholas Courtney

So farewell, then, Brigadier (lately Colonel) Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart.

This iconic character first appeared in Doctor Who in the Patrick Troughton era but became an integral part of the show during John Pertwee’s incarnation.

The actor who played him, Nicholas Courtney, had appeared in the programme in another role as early as 1965 opposite William Hartnell and – as Lethbridge-Stewart, in charge of the British arm of UNIT – with all the later TV versions of the Doctor up to Sylvester McCoy excepting that of Colin Baker.

As Colonel and Brigadier he was playing an essentially decent man who was (to my mind rather unfortunately) too prone to resort to his area of expertise, military means. The phrase most associated with the character was, “Five rounds rapid!” So much so that Courtney used that as the title of his autobiography.

While Courtney appeared in many other roles it is probably as Lethbridge-Stewart that he will be best remembered – certainly by fans of Doctor Who.

William Nicholas Stone Courtney: 16/12/1929-22/02/2011. So it goes.

2010 Hugo Awards

I found a list of this year’s winners over at Frederick Pohl‘s blog The Way The Future Blogs. This is because he won the award for Best Fan Writer.

Surprisingly the list isn’t up at the official Hugo site though there is a video of the award ceremony.

Edited to add (9/9/10):- The list is there (see comment.) The link I followed only took you to the video.

Other awards of interest to me were:-
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Doctor Who: “The Waters of Mars.”
Hmm… I didn’t think that episode was particularly good.

Best Novella
“Palimpsest” by Charles Stross (Wireless, Ace, Orbit.)
Charlie is a one time and now somewhat detached member of the East Coast Writers Group. We bask in his reflected glory.

Best Novel (tie)
“The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
“The City & The City” by China Mieville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
I’ve read the Miéville.

Matt Smith’s Doctor Who…

…. has not convinced me, I’m afraid.

For me Smith doesn’t embody the role the way previous Doctors have. (As far as the new Who is concerned I was never taken by Christopher Eccleston, either, come to that.)

The character of Amy Pond, however, makes for a cracking companion, not merely an adjunct but substantially more pro-active than those who have accompanied the Doctor before (including Rose Tyler) and capable of carrying a sub-plot without reference back to the Doctor but in this sense she was underused.

And once again, a la Russell T, we had her friendships and relationships as a focus of the stories.

Can we have a bit more universe spanning please and stop relying on entanglements such as these to create a sense of empathy and emotional impact?

Another quibble was that I wasn’t entirely happy with the story arc of the series. What with all the “will never have existed” malarky, it skirted dangerously close to “it was all a dream.”

I know it’s all fiction, but fiction requires rather more substantial backing than this, otherwise it’s not worthwhile people investing their time in consuming it.

Seven Seconds

I was watching Doctor Who so I didn’t catch the build up to tonight’s game. I switched over just in time to catch the kick-off.

And seven seconds later?

Mark it: seven seconds.

That’s all the time it took for the commentator (Clive Tyldesley?) to mention a certain event in 1966. I think that makes some sort of record.

Not as satisfying a record as the original 7 seconds, as by Youssou N’Dour and Neneh Cherry, which I append below for your pleasure.

7 seconds is, I believe, the only song to feature a lyric in Wolof to trouble the British charts.

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