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‘Doctor Who,’ Neil Gaiman And The Triumph Of ‘Intellect Over Brawn’
Monday, November 25, 2013
This morning, the amazing Neil Gaiman joined us in the studio to talk about the new prequel to his “Sandman” series and his incredible career as a writer.
Nicole — a listener from Attleboro, Mass. and a fan of Gaiman’s work — made note of one accomplishment in particular: his stint as a writer on the long running British sci-fi series “Doctor Who,” which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this past Saturday. Nicole called in, still recovering from the emotional anniversary special that featured not one, but three doctors (well, four if you count a cameo by the fourth incarnation of the Doctor, Tom Baker, now almost eighty,) including fan favorite, David Tennant.
Gaiman’s contribution to the long-running series started with the award winning episode “The Doctor’s Wife,” which aired back in 2011 and featured the current (at least for one more Christmas special!) incarnation of the Doctor, played by Matt Smith. For those who have not had the pleasure of seeing it — the episode gives a voice to one of the stars of the show, who for almost half a century remained voiceless — the Doctor’s beloved time machine, the TARDIS (or, “Time and Relative Dimension in Space.”)
The TARDIS’s claim to fame — besides being a magical, blue police box that can travel through time — is that it is “bigger on the inside.” When Gaiman finally gave her the chance to speak, the TARDIS quite poetically wanted to know if the same could be said for people, an insight that tugged fans’ heart strings, and resonated with our listener Nichole.
Gaiman, a lifelong Whovian (the affectionate moniker for fans of the show), remembered discovering the show back in his kindergarten days, when his peers turned milk bottles into Daleks (which as he kindly explained to host Tom Ashbrook as, “These little robots that look like pepper pot shaped, hatey, metal death machines, with eye stalks and toilet plungers as weapons.”)
“I would go to my grandparents and watch episodes of ‘Doctor Who,’ and I would watch them from behind the sofa so that the things couldn’t get out at me,” Gaiman said.
And like many in the century since the show’s introduction, Gaiman fell in love with the odd man traveling through space and time in a little blue box: “The joy of ‘Doctor Who,’ was that it was always about intellect over brawn. Nothing was ever solved in ‘Doctor Who’ by somebody being bigger or stronger than somebody else, it was always about being smarter… That was what hooked me. I loved it.”
“Getting to write episodes of doctor who, was my dream job.” Gaiman admitted. (It’s a sentiment shared by fellow life long ‘Doctor Who’ fan, actor Peter Capaldi, who will step into the role on Christmas Day as the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor.)
Happy Fiftieth Anniversary, Doctor Who!
– Emily Alfin Johnson