Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

This is a seven-minute Children In Need telethon sketch, that is pretty much about as good as telethon sketches get.

What it's not, is a passable seven minutes of Doctor Who, so I sincerely hope that the programme-makers don't have any illusions that it doubles as this.

It's a two-hander, between the ever-lovable David Tennant as the tenth Doctor, and the ever-lovable Peter Davison as the briefly-returning fifth Doctor.

Except that the fifth Doctor, as opposed to his usual trademark quietness and diffidence, is quite angry in this.

"...it really would help if there wasn't some skinny idiot ranting in my face about every single thing that happens to be in front of him!"

And mocking.

"Does he still have that rubbish beard?"

And arrogant.

"Okay, you're my biggest fan. Look, it's perfectly understandable – I go zooming around space and time, saving planets, fighting monsters and being, well let's be honest, pretty sort of marvellous, so naturally now and then people notice me."

Hold on – this is the sixth Doctor!

Where are the fifth's well-worn catchphrases like "Interesting" and "I don't know"? Why on earth did they waste a shoot with Peter Davison getting him to... oh, wait a minute, it's only a telethon sketch. Oh, well, that's all right then.

And anyway – maybe this is an aspect of the fifth Doctor that we never got to see before. Patrick Troughton played the role a bit differently when he returned too.

In fact, while the script makes several specific references to the Peter Davison era, (eg. his glasses, his companions' names, his celery) some of its more general observations actually do seem more relevant to his successor Colin Baker's. His temper, his "frowny-face", even the line about his lack of sonic screwdriver - "mostly hands-free" - sounds like it wanted to be just "hands-free."


"Hair's a bit greyer."

Erm... no it isn't?

But hey - it is only a telethon sketch, so I should stop inferring so many things just so that I can criticise them.

And most of this script, by Steven Moffat, is pretty well written, given how limiting seven minutes can be. Despite its brevity, this is a complete story with a beginning, middle and end, but not one that ever gets in the way of the two Doctors reacting to each other. And there's genuine respect in here. Tennant has a couple of lines that make little sense as the Doctor, ("You were my Doctor!") but are presumably there to express the respect of the actor, and hey, did I mention that that sort of muddiness is okay because it's only a telethon sketch?

Other things that are covered by this blanket out-clause:

1. Doctor 5's participation in the "Wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey" line disables its being a slip of the tongue in Blink.

2. Doctor 10's reference to the Master, coupled with his memory of the same conversation from Doctor 5's point of view, should have prevented his earlier long-held belief that the Master had perished with the rest of the Time Lords.

3. Doctor 10 refers to the Time Lords wearing silly hats in Doctor 5's era, when they've done that all his life.

What's not excused by the "telethon-sketch" argument, and is the one thing they really should never have allowed through in this, is the music, which drowns the entire seven minutes start to finish. Even worse, at one point it's being played on a very cheap electronic keyboard, presumably to suggest the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's incidentals from Davison's day. Awful. Please, stop now. Better yet, stop and go and listen to an actual episode from back then.

The bottom line is that Davison's still quite youthful looks have ensured that his return to the role on TV was a long time coming, if that's not a contradiction.

What a sadly missed opportunity though, that with Peter Davison in full Doctor Who costume on the set of the TARDIS, and the BBC cameras rolling, the script did not really give him the chance to play the fifth Doctor again.

Good job it's only a telethon sketch.

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