Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Second Secret Of Doctor Who

In 1963 the BBC decided that they needed to create a programme that would last an eternity and imbue itself in the heart and soul of a nation, create a show that would run and run and run, be popularist yet intelligent. But instead, they created Doctor Who.

But Doctor Who was not always to be a series about a kindly old man who kidnaps teachers and beats up aliens, oh no. It was originally intended to be very, very different. As everyone knows, the creator of Doctor Who was Sydney Newman, the man also responsible for the Avengers - but in creating Doctor Who, he made the mistake of teaming up with C.E. 'Bunny' Webber, a bloke seemingly on acid who was determined to screw up the series before it had begun. Well, would you trust a man whose nickname was 'Bunny'?

The Time Machine
Bunny's first idea was for the design of the TARDIS. He had decided to reject the foolish notion of "something humdrum, say, passing through some common object in the street such as a night-watchman's shelter to arrive inside a marvellous contrivance of quivering electronics" So not like the TARDIS at all though. The fact that the production team decided to do the OPPOSITE of what Bunny wanted indicates that Bunny was a sort of crap-o-meter. Meetings would have gone like this:

Newman: Right Bunny... what colour shall this panel be?
Bunny: White!
Newman: Black it is. Now, what sex shall the main character be?
Bunny: A woman! A woman!
Newman: A man then. Thanks, Bunny

Obviously anything Bunny liked was a BAD IDEA. But what sort of time travel machine would Bunny have wanted? What thing would be the symbol for the show, the image associated with it in the public perception?

"Therefore we do not see the machine at all; or rather it is visible only as an absence of visibility, a shape of nothingness...Dr Who has achieved this 'disappearance' by covering the outside with light resistant paint (a recognised research project today)"

Yes, a recognised research project... in cartoons. So for Bunny, a spaceship or an everyday object disguised as a time machine wasn't realistic. But an invisible THING? Yeah, no problem. Now that would easily be inside the BBC's budget for an ongoing drama in 1963. Bunny goes on to rave about the amazing plots that could arise from this, such as characters miming the ship being there or managing to lose it. Well, I suppose if your ship was invisible, it'd be hard not to lose it.

Bunny: ...and the ship could be invisible! Yeah! And it shouldn't be an everyday object
Newman: Right... a visible everyday object it is...

The Stories
Bunny had suggested that "Dr Who has lost his memory, so they have to learn to use it [the TARDIS], by a process of trial and error, keeping records of knobs pressed and results (this is fuel for many a long story)"

Oh yes, many long, dull stories. Obviously Bunny got his kicks from watching people on TV read off dials and numbers for 24 minutes at a time. Oh, the hilarity from trying to work out what dial does what! The drama! The intrigue!

Bunny's second idea for many long and formulaic stories was that "after several near-calamities they install a safeguard: one of their number is left in the machine when the others go outside, so that at the end of an agreed time, they can be fetched back into their own era. This provides a suspense element in any given danger: can they survive until the moment of recall? Attack on recaller etc"

Oh, the sheer drama potential. There are many plots that could be created out of this:

1 - Insanity
The recaller is left in the TARDIS while everyone goes off to the planet Paradise. He/she goes insane with jealously and kills everyone

2- Gittyness
The recaller is an anal git. One member of the party arrives 2 seconds late back at the TARDIS, and so the recaller does not let them in "cos they were late"

3 - Attack
The recaller is left alone in the TARDIS. Alone. In a locked ship. A locked ship that is invulnerable. Will they be attacked?

No

Bunny seemed to go totally insane whilst devising story ideas. Here's what he came up with:

"...Or to think about Christmas: which seasonable story shall we take our characters into? Bethlehem? Was it by means of Dr Who's machine that Aladdin's palace sailed through the air? Was Merlin Dr Who? Was Cinderella's Godmother Dr Who's wife chasing him through time? Jacob Marley was Dr Who slightly tipsy, but what other tricks did he get up to that Yuletide?"

Right... Bethlehem... wife... Marley... I think I'll let that speak for itself. And was Merlin Dr Who? What a stupid, illogical idea! Hah! Lucky no-one decided to write that as a plot. Phew. Because that would have been silly.
Oh, they did. Bugger.
The Doctor
So we have a drunk old man who travels in an invisible machine and locks at least one of his companions inside his ship every time he goes somewhere? But what of the Doctor himself? Surely Bunny didn't want to screw him up? How could you screw him up? Bunny knows!

The Secret Of Dr Who
In his own day, somewhere in our future, he decided to search for a time or for a society or for a physical condition that is ideal, and having found it, to stay there. He stole the machine and set forth on his quest. He is thus an extension of the scientist who has opted out, but he has opted farther than ours can do, at the moment. And having opted out, he is disintegrating.

One symptom of this is his hatred of scientists, inventors, improvers. He can get into a rare paddy when faced with a cave man trying to invent a wheel. He malignantly tries to stop progress (the future) wherever he finds it, while searching for his ideal (the past). This seems to me to involve slap up-to-date moral problems, and old ones too...

Well... I wonder why they didn't use THAT idea? According to Bunny, the Doctor is an insane nutter out to assassinate all scientists and search for an 'ideal physical condition.' Oooh-er. Should Bunny's ideas have been used, the first season would have turned out like this:

1 - An Unearthly Child
The Doctor travels back to the Stone Age, where a tribe are attempting to rediscover the art of fire. Angered, the Doctor steals all their sticks so they can't make the EVIL fire, and kills everyone.

2 - The Daleks
The Doctor arrives on Skaro, where the Thals attempt to overthrow the cruel merciless Daleks. The Doctor joins forces with the Daleks to help maintain the status quo and eliminate the Thals

3 - On The Edge of Destruction
The Doctor locks everyone in the TARDIS, melts all the clocks, drugs everyone, then attempts to murder Ian. Oh wait, that was the plot.

4 - Marco Polo
The Doctor meets Marco Polo, attempting to discover a route to China. Disgusted by this, the Doctor kicks him off a cliff.

5 - The Keys Of Marinus
The Doctor searches to rebuild a mind-enslaving machine that keeps the inhabitants of the planet Marinus docile. The Doctor brutally murders the heroic freedom fighting Voord, who are trying to stop the machine from being rebuilt and thus destroying free will. Oh wait, that was a real plot too.

6 - The Aztecs
Arriving at the time of the Aztecs, the Doctor's companions try to change history and stop the human sacrifices. The Doctor must stop them, and keep the gory bloody sacrifices going. Hang on, that happened too -I'm beginning to think Bunny had a point.

7 - The Sensorites
Arriving on a planet inhabited by peaceful aliens, the Doctor helps some human astronauts to poison the water supply and kill everyone.

8 - The Reign of Terror
The Doctor goes for a look-see in revolutionary France - and that's it

As you can see, Bunny's ideas would have made a massive difference to the series! The Doctor as a nutter indeed! Of course there's one, darker secret to look at....

The Second Secret Of Doctor Who!

The Second Secret Of Dr Who
The authorities of his own (or some other future) time are not concerned merely with the theft of an obsolete machine; they are seriously concerned to prevent his monkeying with time, because his secret intention, when he finds his ideal past, is to destroy or nullify the future

So it is revealed that rather than being a kindly old man, the Doctor is in fact, a genocidal maniac, intent on destroying the universe. Bwa ha ha ha indeed. Are we to believe that whilst on Earth he was secretly stockpiling weapons of mass-destruction? Hah! (Well, apart from Remembrance of the Daleks) And that he would casually wipe out whole civilisations? (Well, apart from Remembrance of the Daleks)

You can see the original paperwork here which was kindly annotated by Sidney Newman with the word 'nuts'.

If Bunny had had his way, the Doctor we all know and love would have turned into an Uzi-wielding, companion-strangling poisoner who had no compunctions about chucking people into vats of acid! Luckily Bunny's ideas weren't used...
...or were they?

Quick children, hide behind your sofas.. it's the Doctor!

All praise to Bunny!

2 comments:

  1. You can't stop there I want the Bunnified synopsis for all of Doctor Who!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Utterly, utterly amazing.

    ReplyDelete