SHE barely gets to say a thing – just “Aw, brilliant” in a Yorkshire accent carried through time and space from down Skelmanthorpe way.
Jodi Whittaker arrived as the thirteenth Doctor Who on Christmas Day. She owns the episode in a way, even though she isn’t over-burdened with activity. All she has is that snatch of chuffed dialogue and a short walk in her Doc Martens boots.
That comes at the end. Everything before is a farewell for the twelfth Doctor complicated by the presence of the first. This time-travelling lark can be confusing.
Peter Capaldi doesn’t want to die and is clinging on to the furniture to avoid regeneration. David Bradley is in the William Hartnell role as the first Doctor. And he doesn’t want to die either.
Two versions of the same man raging against the dying of the light. Two old men who don’t want to get a move on. Two old men waiting for a young woman to take over. Not wishing to pollute the fantasy, this seemed fitting for a year in which the relationship between older men and younger women has hardly been seen in a healthy light.
Move over, the girls are in charge now.
The two reluctant leavers meet at the South Pole as hundreds of episodes of Doctor Who swirl past in a storm. Two versions of the same character, neither wanting to die. It’s all a bit confusing.
“You know, I really don’t know I’m following,” says the Captain (Mark Gatiss). You can see where he is coming from. One moment he is in the Trenches in 1914, sharing a bomb crater with a German soldier pointing a gun at him. Then he is plucked from the point of his death and sent to the South Pole where two versions of the same man are having a banter-off.
The episode is called Twice Upon A Time and takes place during one that went out in 1966, called the Tenth Planet.
The Enchanted Glass People are the ones causing the chaos, plucking people from the moment of their death. Don’t go thinking of them as villains, though. They wait for you at the end of life to lift you from your slot in time and lay you gently down into the afterlife (or something like that).
The Capaldi Doctor gets to meet Bill Potts again, though he isn’t having any of that. Bill was dead and turned into a Cyberman, which is pretty much the same. Yet here she is, bright as a button; bright as Pearl Mackie, such a great companion. In the end Bill is dead but then again if you remember someone are they dead at all?
It may all be about death but there are plenty of laughs along the way. David Bradley is wonderful as the Hartnell-era Doctor, grumpy and un-PC – “Aren’t all ladies made of glass, in a way?” The Capaldi Doc has a great nickname for the older Doc – “Over to you, Mary Berry.” Made me laugh anyway.
The puzzled Captain, a decent sort, is brought up short by a throwaway line from Capaldi about the second world war. The look said it all: you mean there’s another one?
It all ends in the Trenches with that famous Christmas truce, then it all ends again as Capaldi is given a fantastic valedictory speech by writer Steven Moffat (who is regenerating into Chris Chibnall, who brought Jodi with him from down Broadchurch way)
Capaldi ends by saying: “Laugh hard, run fast, be kind. Doctor, I let you go.”
Then he is gone and Jodi steps up in those boots.
Aw brilliant indeed.