Posted by: Nick Walters | July 9, 2007

Briefing the PM

I have been tasked with briefing our new Prime Minister Gordon Brown what to say if asked during Prime Minister’s Question Time, “Who is your favourite Doctor Who?”

This came down to me from the PM’s Private Office as his PS happened to have a copy of Reckless Engineering [one of my BBC Doctor Who novels], and, knowing that I was a Civil Servant with a good track record of providing briefing, suggested me for the task. Result! 

So after careful consideration and research I proposed the following:

That the Prime Minister, when asked, “Who is your favourite Doctor Who,” replies, “David Tennant is proving to be the most popular Doctor Who since Tom Baker, and is doing a great job; but, speaking from the point of view of personal preference, my favourite Doctor is the second Doctor Who, Patrick Troughton.”

And when asked to elaborate, the Prime Minister should reply: “Troughton introduced the quintessential impish eccentricity that all of the best Doctor Whos possess, right up to David Tennant. But the reason I like him is that he was the first ever “new” Doctor Who; he had a hard task following in the footsteps of William Hartnell, the only Doctor the public knew, and he pulled it off brilliantly. Now I’m not drawing comparisons with Tony Blair here, he wasn’t the only Prime Minister the public ever knew though after ten years it sometimes seemed like it”, [pause for laughs], “but if I can do as good a job following Tony Blair as Patrick Troughton did following William Hartnell then I will be a happy man.”

My background thinking, for those interested:

Mr Brown is old enough to have seen the very first episode of Doctor Who broadcast in 1963, and indeed every episode since, so, theoretically, any Doctor could be his favourite. 

But which one he chooses is crucial:

William Hartnell – if Mr Brown chooses the first Doctor as his favourite, he may be seen as a stick-in-the-mud, resistant to change.

Patrick Troughton  in choosing Patrick Troughton as his favourite Doctor Who, Mr Brown would be espousing traditional values whilst showing that he embraces change, and drawing a nice if somewhat cheeky parallel with his predecessor. I therefore recommend that Mr Brown says that Patrick Troughton is his favourite Doctor Who.

Jon Pertwee – the third Doctor was a man of action and a 70’s icon, but is seen as too “establishment” by some, and sexist by others; though the general public largely appreciated him, I advise it best to stay away from the Political Correctness minefield that is the third Doctor Who.

Tom Baker – easily the best Doctor Who, but, if Mr Brown chooses Tom, he will be seen as playing safe. Also, Mr Baker might get to hear of this and say something that might embarrass the Prime Minister. 

Peter Davison – the Fifth Doctor was rather ineffective and morally conflicted, and, though a hero at the end, sacrificing his life for his companion, the public remember Davison more fondly as Tristan from All Creatures Great And Small, and know him now from The Last Detective. Mr Brown is advised not to choose the Fifth Doctor.

Colin Baker – Mr Brown is advised to stay WELL clear of the Sixth Doctor, for reasons too multifarious to go into. Some may argue that the character has been redeemed in his Big Finish audio plays, but that is not an argument that will go down well with, or even be understood by, the general public.

Sylvester McCoy – though a fellow Scot, Mr Brown is also advised to steer clear of stating a preference for the Seventh Doctor. McCoy was the last TV Doctor for some considerable time, so stating a preference for him would be political suicide.

Paul McGann – although an excellent Doctor, and long-lived in fan terms, no-one outside of Doctor Who fandom remembers McGann. Again, political suicide – which Prime Minister wants to align himself with the Forgotten Doctor?

Christopher Eccleston – the Ninth Doctor is the most uncharacteristic of them all; a skin-headed, leather-jacketed, Northern-accented maverick, responsible for several acts of terrorism. It would be politically unsafe for Mr Brown to state a preference for Mr Eccleston’s Doctor.

David Tennant – another fellow Scot, but Mr Brown is advised that saying that the current Doctor Who is his favourite would appear naive and facile and may be interpreted as an attempt to “get down with the kids”. However, I advise Mr Brown to make a statement recognising Mr Tennant’s popularity as the current Doctor Who, whilst stating a PERSONAL preference for a previous incarnation (the second).

I avoided “Unbound” Doctors such as Peter Cushing, Trevor Martin and Richard E. Grant in the safe assumption that Mr Brown has no experience of these. Even if he did, it would be madness for him to say any of them were his favourite Doctor Who, so the whole subject is best avoided.

I was very glad to be of service in these early days of Mr Brown’s Prime Ministership and to be able to assist with what could have been a very politically damaging question.

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