Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Interrupting a woman who looks suspiciously like one of his companions, the Doctor again lands at the Royal Albert Hall during the Prom, gets the audience to shout "hello" several times, and then saves everyone.

If it sounds like a re-enactment, then it literally might be. Not only does this semi-live mini-episode recreate the interaction of its corresponding insert two years earlier, but the second half also got performed twice, on July 24th and 25th.

What this spin-off does achieve though is the challenging feat of bettering that already excellent last one. After the prerecorded insert, the Doctor actually does show up live in person, now donned in a radio mike. (shame he wasn't wearing that in the earlier footage - he had good reason to be)

What a magical moment that must have been if you were actually sitting in the audience close enough to recognise that it really was him.

In terms of canonicity, this is still very near the knuckle though. Smith pulls off his live appearance, keeping his character's verbose persona switched on throughout. He even gets a child from the audience to help him diffuse the alien bomb that he's brought with him, which is a huge risk to be taking if either is genuine.

Fortunately the eleventh Doctor is very good with kids, and I couldn't help but smile as I watched him take a quick moment at the start of this section to reassure the little guy that they weren't in any danger really.

Yet again though the concept of whether this live performance sits within Doctor Who's chronology or not is what sets my mind buzzing. The Doctor makes no reference to the last time he was here (in Music Of The Spheres), but that's not actually a contradiction. However there are autocues around the theatre impossibly displaying the Doctor's words as he speaks them. Hmm, well I guess we can file that under the same heading as the TV show's occasional non-existent boom microphones, and maybe his aforementioned headset.

The most obvious problem of all though is that this scene was enacted twice on different nights, each with a different assistant.

On July 24th it was Ellis, but then on July 25th it was Ben. So which version are we even considering here?

It’s not quite the same question facing full-blown Doctor Who stage shows like The Ultimate Adventure, because although those were performed multiple times, creating many unique and therefore contradictory versions, none of them holds the qualification of having been televised.

Given therefore that the Ellis version of this is the one that actually got broadcast, that would make the Ben one on a par with an alternate take, although it's not unthinkable that, for the Doctor, the two very similar events both happened on two different nights. After all, if he repeated the exact same lines in two back-to-back scenes in the show, we'd take it to be an intentional joke. Or maybe they were even alternate Doctors.

I think the version that was actually broadcast has to take precedence though, even though it omits the Doctor's line about how, by accident, "Sky TV's been taken off the air."

I guess you could edit that back in though…

Overall, as with last time, I'm happy to wave this through, for pretty well the same reasons, but with pretty well the same reservations too.

Doctor: (reading from programme) "Apparently I shall be leaving you in the capable hands of 'Karen Gillan' and 'Arthur Darvill', and err 'Matt Smith' whoever that is. Urgh, what a dull name."

Presumably those three presenters look nothing like the TARDIS crew.

As for when this entry comes for the Doctor, well that depends.

If you're just considering this sketch as an isolated minisode, then I'd say it comes after The God Complex and before Up All Night / Closing Time. He's revisiting the Royal Albert Hall because he's on his farewell tour!

If on the other hand you're considering the entire evening, including monster cameos, identical actor versions of the TARDIS crew and alternate evenings with a different audiences, then I'd say just before The Wedding Of River Song, when time on Earth has gone haywire and everything in history is happening at once.

Come to think of it, there are a few other nonsensical stories that might also fit here...

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