Doctor Who: Not so alien after all?
So Tor.com have questioned a comment by Steven Moffat in which he challenged Doctor Who fans to prove that their hero is not human.
But is there a way the Doctor could be both human and alien? And did Moffat lay the ground for this almost twenty years ago?
Way back in my geeky teens, one of my favourite Who books was Paul Cornell’s Human Nature, which later got turned into a 2-part TV story featuring David Tennant’s Doctor.
In the novel, a Doctor who has been made human finds himself keeping a journal of strange dreams, which may or may not reveal the truth behind the Doctor’s own life. Cornell acknowledged Moffat’s contribution to these sequences back when the novel was online as a BBC e-book.
And when you put them together, the Human Nature fairy stories tell us how a very alien Doctor could also be human, too… I’ve put together the relevant passages from the novel here.
The Old Man and the Police Box
Long ago, and far away, in the reign of Queen Victoria, there lived a silver-haired old man, who had a very good idea. He had thought of a shelter for policeman, with a telephone, so that anybody who was in trouble could call for help. And that was clever, because nobody knew what a telephone was, back then.
Because there had to be a lot of room inside the shelter, the old man invented a way to make a lot of space fit into it.
Because the shelter had to be able to chase criminals, he made it so it could disappear and then appear again somewhere else.
The old man was very clever, but very lonely, and so, before he told anybody else about his invention, he used it to go exploring. He visited another world, a place called Gallifrey.
There, he found a tribe of very primitive people.
The tribe of Gallifrey thought that the inventor was a god, and started to worship him, but then he told them not to.
'I have brought new ideas for you,' he said. 'I want to help you.'
And so he told them about travelling through time and space, and about the police. He taught them how to build police boxes, and he taught them about law and books and civilisation.
The Gallifreyans eventually made a wonderful world for themselves, with towers and cities, lords and ladies. The inventor watched over them and advised them on how best to make their world as civilized and law-abiding as the England that he’d left behind.
But as time went on, he became discontented with the place. The Gallifreyans had taken his ideas far too much to heart, and they’d become boring and stuck-in-the-mud. He invented a way for them to start another life when they died, and gave them another heart, hoping that this would make them joyful and happy. But they were just as dull, and now they lived longer. Worse than that, they no longer had children, so there was nobody noisy around the place to ask questions.
Finally, he could take no more of it. He took one of the police boxes and headed back to Earth. The Gallifreyans would chase him, he knew, because he’d broken one of the laws that he’d invented. But he’d decided that being free was better than being in charge.