Splendid Chaps – Seven/Religion


This year Doctor Who turns 50! To celebrate these 11 ‘splendid chaps‘, Ben McKenzie (Dungeon Crawl, ‘patron saint of geek comedy’) and John Richards (ABC1’s Outland, Boxcutters TV podcast) are recording a live podcast every month from January to November.

In July it’s Seven/Religion

Our seventh episode in our main series discusses the Seventh and final Doctor of what we now call the classic era, played by variety performer and actor Sylvester McCoy. Famous for escapology, spoon playing and putting ferrets down his trousers, McCoy’s casting raised a few eyebrows, but his performance changed many doubters’ minds – especially when combined with Sophie Aldred as Ace, and under the new direction provided by the incoming production team under Andrew Cartmell. Of course, no-one knew that the program’s days were numbered…
We’re also looking at the theme of “religion” in Doctor Who. The Doctor has been all across space and time and encountered zealots, fanatics, kindly priests, and beings who believed themselves to be gods or demons or the devil himself. But what does the program say about religion, faith and belief? Is the Doctor Who universe truly a rational one in which the supernatural is really just advanced science, or is The Beast really the Devil? Is faith worthwhile, and if so, what does the Doctor believe? [1]

Homework viewing for episode Seven/Religion
An internet crib sheet guide to the Dr Who episodes listed for the Splendid Chaps Seven/Religion.


To discover the secrets of the Seventh Doctor, we recommend the following three television stories: [2]

☛ Remembrance of the Daleks

Remembrance of the Daleks was the first story of the 25th season of Doctor Who. The story’s setting brought the Doctor back to 76 Totter’s Lane in the year 1963, where the series began in An Unearthly Child.
* Tardis Data Core

☛ Ghost Light

Ghost Light was the second story in Season 26 of Doctor Who. Although two stories followed its broadcast, it was the last story of the classic series to be produced and the last to feature significant recording at BBC Television Centre.
* Tardis Data Core

☛ Survival

Survival was the fourth and final story of Season 26 of Doctor Who. As such it was the final story to be broadcast, although not produced, of the classic series.
It marks the final televised appearance of Sophie Aldred as Ace. It was also the last time that Anthony Ainley appeared as the Master in a regular televised story; he appeared one more time in the video game Destiny of the Doctors. Sylvester McCoy would return as the Doctor in the 1996 television film.

* Tardis Data Core

We realise we’ve already recommended Ghost Light, for fear…but it’s so good! We had to double up. You may also like to watch Delta and the Bannermen to get the measure of Mel. [2]

☛ Delta and the Bannermen

Delta and the Bannermen was the third story in the twenty-fourth season of Doctor Who. It was the first serial since The Two Doctors to use a three-part format. With Delta, the three-parter would become a standard of the McCoy era.
The season was originally set to end with a six-parter. To save money this was split into a pair of three-part stories to be made by the same production team. Only the TARDIS sequences of Delta were filmed in studio, with the rest on location.

* Tardis Data Core

Since many of us feel that Sylv and Sophie were cut off in their prime, we’d also like to recommend some Seventh Doctor Big Finish audio adventures: [2]

☛ Colditz
October 1944: As World War II draws towards its conclusion, a Nazi defeat begins to seem almost inevitable. But that might be about to change…… (2001 Oct, #25)
* Big Finish

☛ A Thousand Tiny Wings
1950s Kenya. The Mau Mau uprising. A disparate group of women lie low in a remote house in the jungle, waiting for a resolution or for rescue. … (2010 Jan, #130)
* Big Finish

☛ Magic Mousetrap
Switzerland, 1926: the Doctor finds himself halfway up an Alpine mountainside, on his way to an exclusive sanatorium for the rich and famous run… (2009 Apr, #120)
* Big Finish

☛ Live 34
“You’re listening to LIVE 34.”
“LIVE 34 ­ news on the hour every hour ­ LIVE 34 ­ broadcasting to Colony 34 all day every day ­ LIVE 34 ­ …
(2005 Sep, #74)
* Big Finish

☛ Bang-Bang-a-Boom
Dark Space 8 – an advanced monitoring station floating serenely among the stars. Its crew – a dedicated and highly-skilled group of professional… (2002 Dec, #39)
* Big Finish


We’re also exploring the theme of religion in Doctor Who, on which topic we reckon the following stories probably have the most interesting things to say:

☛ The Aztecs (William Hartnell, 1963; four episodes)

The Aztecs was the sixth story of season 1 of Doctor Who. It was the first story to address the issue of altering the course of history, and the first to involve a romantic subplot concerning the Doctor.
* Tardis Data Core

☛ The Daemons (Jon Pertwee, 1971; five episodes)

The Dæmons was the fifth and final story of Season 8. It concluded a series-long succession of stories featuring the Master. However, the character would continue to appear on an occasional basis during Season 9 and Season 10.
* Tardis Data Core

☛ The Face of Evil (Tom Baker, 1977; four episodes)

The Face of Evil was the fourth story of Season 14 of Doctor Who. It introduced Louise Jameson as the Fourth Doctor’s new companion, Leela.
* Tardis Data Core

☛ Planet of Fire (Peter Davison, 1984; four episodes)

Planet of Fire was the fifth story in season 21 of Doctor Who. It was the penultimate adventure to regularly feature Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor.
The story was notable for the departure of Vislor Turlough, the destruction of Kamelion and the introduction of Peri Brown.

* Tardis Data Core

☛ The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit (David Tennant, 2006; two episodes)

The Satan Pit was the ninth episode of the second series of Doctor Who. It introduced the presence of the Beast, a demon purporting himself to be none other than the Devil, who would indirectly have an impact on the spin-off series Torchwood. Moreover, it set forth an ominous prediction for Rose Tyler’s fate.
The prequel to this episode, Tardisode 9, reveals more victims have been killed due to the possessive influence of the Beast, increasing the body count of this conflict.

* Tardis Data Core

Seven/Religion (part one)

Seven/Religion (part two)


[1] Seven/Religion (live show) (2013-Jun-21) [Splendid Chaps]
[2] The Seven/Religion viewing/listening list (2013-Jun-26) [Splendid Chaps]
[2] Doctor Who – Classic Series – Episode Guide – Seventh Doctor Index [BBC]

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